By Jasmine Espindola
Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula
[3.5 minute read]
One of the most memorable places I have ever traveled to was Cancún, Mexico. It is really upsetting that many people only talk about the more negative aspects of traveling in Mexico and completely overlook the beautiful and amazing places it has to offer. Cancún is a touristic city in the state of Quintana Roo in Mexico known for its beaches, but it has so much more to offer than conventional tourist destinations, including a vibrant culture and amazing food.
I took this trip the summer after high school and it was the first time I’d ever been on a plane. I was nervous, but upon landing I was amazed at the beautiful landscape and scenery in front of me. After we checked into our hotel we walked out to the beach and I couldn’t believe the color of the water. It was all different shades of blue and surprisingly warm, which was different from the usually cold Pacific Ocean water I was used to.
We eventually went on a cruise to an island off the coast called “Isla Mujeres” which was amazing. The middle of the ocean looked like a pool because you could see the ocean floor and all of the fish and marine life. It was definitely a unique experience to be able to jump into the middle of the ocean near the reefs and have a ton of fish swimming around your legs without the fear of sharks approaching since the water was so clear.
After a few days exploring the different beaches, we decided to take a trip to Yucatán, a neighboring state to Quintana Roo, to visit the Mayan temples of Chichén Itzá. On our way there we stopped at a cenote. A cenote is (as defined by dictionary.com ), a “deep natural well or sinkhole, especially in Central America, formed by the collapse of surface limestone that exposes groundwater underneath, and sometimes used by the ancient Mayans for sacrificial offerings.” I hadn’t ever even heard of these rock formations, but apparently, they are all over Central America and southern Mexico, especially prevalent on the Yucatán peninsula. The rock and cave formations were jaw-dropping and it was fascinating to learn about all the things they found there during the excavations from the Mayan Period.
After a quick dip in the water, we were on our way again to the famous Chichén Itzá. Chichén Itzá is one of the 7 wonders of the world and was built by the Mayans around 600AD, a time where they didn’t even have wheels. It was one of the most amazing experiences being next to this wonder and having a small view into the past. I also got to see the place where they would put the decapitated heads of their enemies in the first century AD and their place of recreation. The Mayan ruins are one of the most beautiful things I have seen to this day.
Of course, you can’t ever end a vacation to Mexico without a trip to Xcaret, an eco-archeological park located in the Riviera Maya around Cancún. I swam in underground rivers and saw various animals from the region and all around the world. Eating Central American food was also one of the best parts of the trip. The selection was astounding and walking around the markets was a great experience because I didn’t know half of the fruits and vegetables there. I definitely learned a lot and was exposed to a whole other culture that I wouldn’t have been if I had stayed in the US. I highly recommend anyone who wants to travel and get a glimpse of another world to go to Mexico and explore the many things it has to offer (without even leaving the North American continent!).
Jasmine is a recent USC graduate that majored in Business Administration (Marketing). She is a Los Angeles native. Recently, she worked at Adobe as a Business Development intern. She comes from a marketing and communications background, having worked with Huffington Post, Oath (formerly Yahoo!), American Red Cross, and California Science Center. Jasmine has spent time studying abroad in Korea at Yonsei University.