I flung my bag haphazardly into the back of a Greyhound bus and settled in for the four hour ride to New York City on stale carpeted seats smelling of chips and cigarettes. My head rested against the vibrating window, images of fresh tacos and sunny beaches drifting across my eyelids.
The classic American tourist spring break trip to Cancun didn’t inspire pride – I knew it would be nothing like the homey apartment me and my family had rented in Akumal years before, complete with snorkeling and corn tortillas bought at a tiny Mexican grocery store.
I expected alcohol fueled raucous fun in a ritzy resort and cheap souvenirs sold on the beach.
Our bus pulled up to a dizzying collection of catacomb-like buildings jutting out in all different angles, bikini-clad girls shuffling around, drink in hand. To be allowed into the restaurants and bars scattered on the expanse of the resort we had to don neon bracelets, standing impatiently in a strip club turned lobby, sweating under our winter apparel.
My gaggle of friends finally changed into bikinis and hustled into the Mexican sunlight – our pale stomachs practically glowing.
We tried to shuffle our way into a restaurant, only to be told we had to have a special exclusive (and more expensive) wristband to enter. The winding concrete paths jumbled in our heads as we desperately searched for some food that our lowly bracelets could provide.
Finally seated in white plastic chairs, sweat collecting on the back of our thighs, our waiter served us what the menu claimed was Mexican food – but in reality was no better than what I had eaten in Syracuse, New York. We ate like ravenous wolves anyways, and went back to the dim club to get our bags and check into our room.
I thought the Grand Oasis maybe had one sh***y restaurant, but lord knows I was wrong.
For dinner we waited like sheep in a snaking line for close to an hour, only to find that the food was lukewarm mush disguised as meat and vegetables. The all-inclusive resort was swarmed with drunk college students, and it became glaringly obvious that the staff was unprepared for the chaos that ensued.
The food gave me a bout of horrific food poisoning in the middle of the night, and made me hesitant to even try the bustling dining hall again.
My diet consisted of alcohol and bananas for the next week.
As the sun rose on our first full day in Cancun we rushed to get ready, jumping into skimpy bikinis and slathering on sunscreen. The line to get a drink was nearly a block long, but we waited, thumping music emanating from every cranny of the resort.
My organs might disagree, but alcohol saved me from fully experiencing the never-ending disaster of spring break.
I can’t count on my toes and fingers how many time wobbling sunburnt men tried to grope me and grab me, it became a force of habit to watch my back and not close my eyes while laying back on beach chairs.
Me and my friends tried to escape the resort at nighttime to experience true Mexican culture at Señor Frogs. Despite shelling out nearly $2,000 for the all-expenses paid trip, we were informed that entry fees at the clubs downtown was over $100 per night.
Instead, we trekked across the maze of the resort to a dingy bar.
Past 6 p.m every restaurant and drink stand closed, except for this sh**hole.
My sandals clung to the alcohol-soaked floor, a distinct smell of petting zoo and vomit wafting through the swampy air. Drinks were free, but we had to physically elbow through a seemingly endless hoard of drunk men to grab a watered down gin and tonic.
When the blur of a week finally came to an end I had endured food poisoning, lost a good 6 pounds due to my distaste for the lumpy food, and had the distinct sense that I had been robbed.