The Tourist Bubble: How I learned that If you stay at a resort in an unfamiliar country, it should be your base but not your entire experience.
Jamie and I got talked into a trial run of a timeshare on a promise of free Xcaret tickets in Playa Del Carman. If you have ever been to Xcaret on the Riviera Maya in Mexico you understand my willingness to sit through such torture as a timeshare sales presentation. Well, we eventually got our tickets and all of the goodies the time share companies hand out attempting to lure you into a long term contract. The subject of timeshares should have its own article so I will just tell you want happened and how it changed how I travel.
My family has visited this part of Mexico extensively. I absolutely love it!! Great people, delectable food, mesmerizing culture that will always satisfy your wanderlust. We of course rented a car, like always, and trekked out toward the Ancient Mayan City of Coba, went Cenote swimming, and of course we redeemed those free Xcaret tickets. We had a blast. After enjoying a week in one of my favorite parts of the world we boarded a north bound plane back to Louisiana.
Ok, fast forward to the point. Part of the timeshare package we purchased included a week’s stay at the Xcaret Resort near Playa. We decided to go midway through the following summer. I have to say that the resort was awesome!! They literally made you feel as if all of Mexico came to entertain you. They had a great spa that we used every day and one of the best beach atmospheres in the Yucatan. Sounds like the perfect vacation, right? Well, after about the fourth day I started to get a little bored. As sprawling as the resort property was, I even felt a little claustrophobic. It was the first time that I realized that everything I was experienced was designed, staged, and yes fake.
We decided to venture out to perk me up. I used one of the hotel computers to look up “things to do” in the area. I visited a site called VirtualTourist.com and I found my way to the “off the beaten path” activities. That’s where I discovered that the city of Cancun, Mexico was not the numerical shaped island where all of the tourists go. Cancun is a wonderful city of almost a million people a few miles inland from the hotel zone. There is bullfighting, a professional soccer team, authentic restaurants, and of course Mercado 28. This market is the real thing. Open air and full of shops, Mercado 28 is where the locals go to shop, eat, and mingle.
We also went to the soccer stadium and walked around. We truly got a feel for real life in this all Mexican city. The tourist never experience any of that. They stay in their Floridian style condos and bake in the sun all day sipping on subpar cocktails. They eat at buffets of food that look like the menu at an American chain restaurant. They stay in the tourist bubble. That is where most tourists feel safe and where they want to be. Not me!!! To quote the little mermaid, “I want to go where the people are.” I want authenticity. Where nothing is staged specifically for me. I want to fade into the background and be a part of it. I want to break out of the bubble.
I always recommend to my clients to build authentic experiences into their travels. Go off the beaten path sometimes. It may be harder to find those places but I know the locals will proudly tell you where they are if you inquire. If you need help designing an authentic experience like this for yourself, family, or group please contact me at www.destinygrouptravel.com.