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Fresh off my trip to Costa Rica, I hopped back on a plane this month with Krystal to do some exploring in Quintana Roo, Mexico.

Our destinations were Airbnb’s in Playa del Carmen (for about a week) and Tulum (for a little over two weeks) so on our way down the coast, we decided to do something …basic.

We went to Cancun!

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Because why not?

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We found a cute hostel that was off the beaten path, as far from the towering resorts and winding highways as we could get.

Going from the cold New York City winter to the tropical heat was amazing… but also made me REALLY sleepy.

Thus, the first totally awesome thing we did was take a nap.

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Our first mission? FIND TACOS.

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We found a little taco joint across the street that was everything we’d hoped for.

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Ah. May. Zang.

We ate so many tacos here we had to hobble home across the street.

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The next few days at the hostel were… fun!

It was full of students doing the whole spring break thing and embarking on gap year travels, but we made friends despite the fact that we were some of the only 30-year-old New Yorkers who’d come to Mexico to “get some writing done”.

(Yes, laaaugh, laugh at me now!)

I mean, it’s Cancun, guys. My interest in Cancun and its overkill, tourist-riddled fanfare died back in high school. But since I was passing through, I just couldn’t say no.

And aside from making the HUGE mistake of following some of our spirited new spring breaker friends into some aaawful clubs (I’ll regret this forever, for so many reasons), we had a really good time.

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The colors! The colors are everywhere!

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When in Rome, as they say!

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Most beach clubs we wandered into were pretty empty.

We might have been a week or two short of running into the bottles, models and girls-gone-wild crowd.

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We met this rad little lady named Cora at the hostel. She was working there, but she got fired for having a “bad attitude”.

Classic Cora!

Her loss was our gain, because she ended up meeting us later on the trip and we had an amazing time seeing live flamenco, going to hidden parties inside the jungle and spending lazy days in the sand.

She also stayed with me when I decided NOT to leave at the same time as Krystal, ’cause I just wasn’t ready to let Mexico go.

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We spent some time taking taxis to different parts of town and walking around to see the colorful murals, saturated buildings and sprawling markets.

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This was probably the 100th time I ate ceviche in three days.

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This is Mercado 28’s food vendor area, where drinks and food are insanely inexpensive and you can pass a few dollars to musicians and dancers who roam between tables performing while you eat.

It was so festive and so fun. We sat there for hours.

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After just a few days, we jumped in a taxi and rode south toward Playa del Carmen, leaving Cancun behind like a weird dream.

I guess you should see Cancun once or twice.

It’s colorful and fun… but the tourism and entertainment industry is also wildly exploitative, resulting in depressing things like small children begging alongside topless go-go dancers.

If you’re going, support small businesses and stay away from gross clubs. Patronize smaller food vendors in markets as opposed to touristy restaurants. Stay in a hostel or Airbnb instead of a giant resort. Smile and say good morning when people pass you on the street!

Simple things like that.

Up next, Playa del Carmen and Tulum!

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Written by Mishka
A city girl who loves palm trees, strong coffee & late night writing. Founder of Hey Mishka & Day Job Optional. Learn more about her here.