Travel During Covid | Yes, I Did

Sometimes, escaping is NOT an option. It’s mandatory.

champagne

If you’ve followed my blog, you may remember this time last year, I was in Amsterdam when the Covid shut down began. I certainly will never forget it.

Upon my return to the USA, I was put on a mandatory 14-day quarantine which lasted nearly two months once the Governor of my state decided to just shut the whole place down to “flatten the curve.”

Well, here we are a year later, almost to the day, and although not still on any lockdowns, life as we knew it still hasn’t returned completely. However, I was about to lose my damn mind because of not being able to travel. Until I found out that Mexico is, in fact, open.

As you may know, I work three jobs:

I’m a sales and marketing support specialist by day and a freelance copywriter, and a published author by night. I’m not a big spender, so I started hoarding my money in the event that I may need it for an escape route out of this state and away from the freezing weather for a few days.

I’m so glad I did.

Back in mid-January, it was cold. It was cold, wet, and gray. I was gaining weight because I had immersed myself in my work to keep my mind occupied, make money and avoid reality and went off Keto in search of comfort food. What a joke. Like eating the wrong foods helps one little bit.

I’m not joking. The most I did for myself was taking online copywriting classes but continued to work six nights a week, only taking off on Friday nights for my English Dart league. On those nights, I drank way too much. Ultimately, I realized my body was changing for the worse, and that is always a signal that I’m losing myself, mind, body, and spirit.

This was an emergency situation.

During my lunch hour, I started cruising the internet for vacations and stumbled across a place in Mexico on the Yucatan Peninsula. NOT Cancun. Playa Del Carmen. It’s about 45 minutes south of Cancun by car, less expensive, more laid back, and close to some lovely landscape and interesting places to see. My sister-in-law happened upon me browsing and asked, “What are you looking at?” I suppose it was the images of crystal blue water and sky, beautiful accommodations, and the SUN shining. The next thing she said was, “I want to go too!”

Within an hour, we had chosen a date, booked our suites and surprised our husbands with the news.

We’re going to Mexico.

Of course, we did our due diligence checking out safety protocols and what we’d need to do to return to the USA. The resort did Covid testing on the premises for all guests staying for more than two nights, so we were satisfied with that. To be honest, that really was enough for us. We had faith that they’d take every precaution to protect the health of their guests.

Flights booked, bags packed, reservations paid for…Mexico here we come!

Our balcony
Our view

Because we hadn’t been to this area before, we only booked five nights. That was our first mistake. We should have booked seven! We stayed at the Panama Jack Resort in Playa Del Carmen. This place was like a mini paradise! All-inclusive, perfect location, impeccably clean and well maintained, and literally on the beach. We were immediately at ease and relaxed the minute we checked in.

The average daily temperature was 85 degrees. A soft breeze blessed us the second we stepped outside, and it never stopped. All-inclusive really does mean all-inclusive—all of your food, drinks, fun, and rest. There are “EXTRAS” like special dining, cabana rentals: for a small fee of $29.00 for an entire day, you received your own cabana complete with champagne, water, and waiter service. The place was not fully booked so it wasn’t crowded and I cannot say enough about the staff!!!!

Cabanas. I took this photo. I thought it turned out pretty cool!

The staff at this resort were the most friendly, accommodating, generous, sincere, and hard-working people I’ve ever encountered. I’m sure they were grateful to be working, and it showed. They were constantly cleaning, always wore their masks, and went far beyond our expectations for service. We even signed up for couples massages at their spa. It was a wonderful addition to the relaxation plan.

As much as we enjoyed the resort, we also wanted to get out and see the sights. Right around the corner was a street named Fifth Avenue that was lined with shops. In this area, you are bombarded with shop workers hawking their goods, and it does get a bit annoying, but it was all good-natured and just part of the lifestyle for tourists. Since we had to wear yellow wristbands throughout our stay to identify us, they were also targets for these shopkeepers. Within the first few minutes, you learn how to politely say “No thank you” and keep walking unless something catches your eye. Then the price negotiating starts. By the way, dollars or pesos work fine there.

Cenotes are a must do!

If you don’t know what a cenote is, click here. We wanted to choose an excursion for our last day in Mexico, and I had my heart set on seeing a cenote and swimming in one. I wanted to go to Tulum, but my traveling companions weren’t up to anything as boring as visiting Mayan ruins. Ugh. However, they did consent to the cenotes, so it was on!

Some cenotes are in caves.
This was an open cenote. That’s my husband swimming around after zip lining from a cliff and dropping into the water.
They have a tour photographer to take professional pics of your tour too. There are bats in the caves. I love bats, so this was cool. Just look at that water—tons of fish to ooh and ahh at too. Just be careful of the rocks beneath the surface. They’ll tear you up if you’re not paying attention.

After the two amazing cenote visits, we had an incredible lunch in the jungle in a large screened-in hut-like structure catered locally. This was all homemade real Mexican/Mayan food. It was perhaps the best meal we had besides our special lobster dinner later that night.

Rest room hut. It was surprisingly very clean and as you can see, I never miss an opportunity to act up with my sister-in-law lol
This was our last stop on our snorkel trip. We had to wear flippers. Not cute little fun flippers either. We wore the big giant ones and it took me a few minutes to get used to them but once I did, I was swimming like a fish. This lagoon is huge. This picture truly doesn’t give you the full scale. It’s also extremely deep, and some of the fish are very large. It was a bit scary at times but fun and interesting as well. I don’t think I covered the entire area but I did most of it!

We were all exhausted and waterlogged by the time our transport dropped us back off at the hotel…oh, I forgot, the excursions pick you up at the resort and bring you back. Door-to-door service and our tour guide, Adan, was the best. He was so helpful and filled with great advice and information and explained the significance of the cenotes.

After some rest and hot showers to scrub off all of the cenote and lagoon water, we headed to the pool area for our outdoor, poolside lobster dinner. It was amazing. There was a wonderful female singer who entertained us all throughout the meal on stage. All in all, the night was filled with a soft ocean breeze, music, tons of stars, and the lights of Cozumel in the distance.

That’s the island of Cozumel. They have a ferry that leaves Playa Del Carmen several times a day to take you over to Cozumel and bring you back. We’ve been there on a cruise stop once, so we opted out of that adventure.

Nothing to think about.

From the moment we landed at the airport in Cancun, and our pre-arranged transport picked us up, until we landed at our home airport, I thought about nothing. Nothing. I didn’t think about work. I didn’t think about home. I didn’t think about anything beyond the moment I was living in, and those were one beautiful moment after the next. I thought about what I wanted to drink…usually Mojitos or ice beers (beer with margarita floating on top), whether to sunbathe or get in the pool to cool off, what we were having for lunch or dinner, or if I needed more sunscreen.

That was it.

Yes, I occasionally thought about my son at home with the cat, but since he only texted me to say hi or tell me to have fun, my mind was at ease and rest. My mission was accomplished, and my only regret was not making this at least a 7-day vacation instead of five.

The day after we returned, I immediately went back to work. I was refreshed, relaxed and content, except I wished we were still at the resort. We’re already planning our return as soon as possible. There’s still so much left to see and do, so I have officially chosen Playa Del Carmen as my escape plan for now. Next time, we have about a dozen friends who want to join us after hearing about our adventure, and they are all welcome.

If we could leave today, we would but rest assured, we will go back.

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