By Andrea Zheng

This past week we drove out to the other coast of the Yucatan Peninsula to go to Xcaret, Puerto Aventuras, and Tulum.

Xcaret is basically a giant water amusement park/wildlife sanctuary. They have everything from a lazy river to a manatee habit to a beach to lay out on. It was impossible to do everything in the park, so we first went down the lazy river (which was extra lazy due to the large hordes of people in there) and then walked through some animal exhibits to see butterflies, birds of prey, among others.

There was a lunch buffet included and let me tell you, that lunch buffet was INSANELY good, with all you can drink horchata and enough ceviche to fill you for days. After that, we decided to go hang out in some hammocks (no pun intended) to allow the food coma to pass over.

When night hit and the park cleared, we made our way over to the show that the park puts on. It started off with some of the history of Mexico and then went into dances and music from different regions in Mexico. It was amazing to see the distinctly different styles from each part of Mexico, with each dance group coming out to cheers from the audience that was from each respective region.

Because it took around 4 hours to get to the other side of the peninsula, we stayed on that side for the weekend, with each pair of two getting a hotel room in Puerto Aventuras. The next day was free time in that same city, exploring the small resort town, but mainly laying out on the beach (you seeing a theme here?).

The final day was spent in Tulum, an ancient Mayan port. This was potentially one of the hottest days of our whole trip and with no shade coverage, we were all drenched in sweat by the time our walking tour was over. Normally, an easy solution for this would be to jump into the bright blue beautiful water that Tulum is known for, but that wasn’t the case today.

Quintana Roo, the state of Mexico that houses Tulum as well as cities like Playa del Carmen and Cancun, has been experiencing a seaweed problem this year. Once pristine beaches with clear water are now being overtaken by rotten egg smelling seaweed, ruling out any trip that I would have wanted to make to the beach. Instead I downed a water bottle and reapplied sunscreen for the hundredth time.

All of our cultural excursions have shown us that the Yucatan Peninsula is a mix of the past with the present, with ancient ruins mixed in with modernized cities. It was amazing to learn about the history of Mexico in a class setting and then be able to go to the actual sites and see real life examples of things we were discussing in class just days before.

This was our final weekend in Merida and I’m honestly not ready to leave yet (or to take this final next week). Next time I write I’ll be back in the US, so for now, adios from Mexico! 

Andrea Zheng studied abroad in Merida in Summer 2019.