We woke up before most tourists and rushed to the port. We took a Windjet ferry, getting a 2 way ticket to Cozumel for that day (about $15 USD round trip). Trying to avoid seasickness, we sat in the back of the first floor and ate a bit of yogurt with granola to hold our stomachs together.
We arrived in Cozumel 45 minutes later, and walked to the farthest car rental, hoping to get the best price away from the port. We ended up renting a car for the day for $30USD from a “hole-in-the-wall” type of establishment. We did not buy their insurance, so I signed a handwritten note saying if anything happened to the car it was 100% my financial responsibility. Taking the keys and a deep breath, we were off to the other side of the island, away from the crowded beaches.
The engine light was on, and the car was a bit shaky as we drove through the jungle. I have come to firmly believe in the power of speaking positive words, and creating your own reality. At the end of the day, even if the car had broken down, I believe it is better to deal with it from a mental space of positivity and gratitude rather than taking on the far too popular victim role. This, after all, was supposed to be an adventure.
We made a quick stop at El Cedral, which I do not recommend if you are only in Cozumel for a day. But if you got time to spare, it might be worth going to try their mezcal, and buy some artisanal gifts for friends and family back home. Other than that, you can honestly skip it.
Driving around the island was easier than driving in Playa del Carmen. But if you have never been to Latin American countries or some Asian countries…then you might want to pay the extra $$$ for an Uber or taxi driver to do what they do best. I personally enjoyed being able to go at our own pace.
I did, however, find myself feeling frustrated because we could not seem to find a clean beach where we could spend the day. It did not help that the public beach entrances were not as easy to find as the entrances to private clubs and hotels where you had to pay a high sum to get in and enjoy the salty sea.
But at last, we found Playa Palancar and what would become one of my favorite places of our 30th birthday trip extravaganza! We arrived around noon, and I immediately ordered a margarita and fish tacos. The fish tacos were so, so good.
I overheard the woman next to us ask for a margarita without ice. I cringed. I understand health concerns, but a margarita without ice on a hot beach day, in a perfectly clean establishment? I am sad to learn about over-the-top warnings of getting sick in Mexico.
As a general rule, Mexicans only make ice with purified water so you are safe in that regard. I cannot make any claims that you will not get sick at all while visiting Mexico. Your body sometimes reacts to a change in environment and germs that you may not have been exposed to before.
Take time to assess the establishment before you turn down ice in your margarita or skip out incredible fish tacos. In a situation where you can absolutely not get past the idea that you will get sick in Mexico, then with all due respect, why would you come here? Take steps to protect yourself, assess your surroundings, and relax…You’re on vacation in one of the most beautiful countries in the world. I really mean that. But you won’t notice how beautiful this country is if anxiety outshines your surroundings. I am sharing this from personal experience. Also, the paranoia can come across a bit disrespectful to locals, so if you feel it, just reel it in a bit.
After an incredible 4 hours soaking up the sun, swimming the clear waters, and strolling down the shore, it was time to go. We safely returned our slowly breaking car, and I picked up a coconut ice cream cone before heading back to the ferry. It was a blast sitting at the top and watching dolphins as the sun set slowly. Back in Playa del Carmen, we ended our night the best way we could have…with tacos al pastor.
It’s truly been a pleasure connecting with different corners of Mexico. As of now, there is not a plan to return to the United States, and I am excited to announce that soon I will be leaving Mexico City and renting an apartment closer to the waves.
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