For the most part, it isn’t a well kept secret that Cancùn is a great vacation spot. If you want to take a break from reality, it is perfect. And if you want to get tanned, bum around on the beach, enjoy the hospitality of nice resorts, and see a lot of Americans in one spot, then Cancùn is le lugar para ti amigo. Of course, you might also get sun burned and lose confidence in your appearance until things begin to even out. Maybe, you’ll be a little disappointed in the pallets of most American and Canadian tourists when you see more general food that you can find anywhere on the menus of resorts (like hamburgers, French fries, chicken sandwiches, ribs, etc) than real authentic Mexican cuisine. But as I ventured off on my own, I learned something else that is muy padre — tequila, hermano! More specifically, Mayan tequila in the Cancùn area verdad.
Some of the tequila I drank tasted sweet (God help me if they had it in the bars and clubs of Montreal or anywhere else in that regard). Other tequilas were as strong as I’ve come to know and understand in the years I’ve spent at Dawson. But overall, there was a real pride in the tequila of the Mayans that the people of Cancùn shared. When I was given samples to try, it almost seemed like an honor for them. And it made me realize that Cancùn is much, much more than just a vaca destination. There is a history of culture and life that surrounds the playas of Cancùn where mucho gente head down to for a tan or a painful sun burn. With that in mind, if you find yourself in Cancùn, I encourage you to take a day trip to a place like Chichén Itzía — one of the wonders en el mundo. Not only is it well preserved from what it looked like 5000 years ago, however you really get a feel for the pride Mexicans have for their heritage, their roots, how it all started. One example of this level of pride happened to me tonight.
In a tequila shop at Place Kukulcán mall, I met Manuel. At first, he was just showing me the different types of bebidas he had, and of course, tried to persuade me to buy something. But then out of nowhere, he taught me how to say “how much?” in Mayan — Bahosh? Since we communicated in English and Spanish, it felt right to explore other terms of phrases (and for the record, as a side note, knowing a bit of Spanish earns you major brownie points in Cancùn since they are used to English only speakers). But Manuel’s enthusiasm for Mayan culture reminded me of how knowing one’s identity can bring one a lot of meaning in one’s heart. In the most cliche way imaginable, it almost makes one feel like they’re a part of a bigger story than what they could ever understand.
Travelling is important, but as I’ve come to see, it can also bring one perspective on their own life and what certain things mean to them. For example, writing and historias is something that is dear to who I am. About a year ago, I discovered that my grandfather — who passed away when I was 10 — was a voracious reader and had a collection of all the Nobel prize winning novels and plays on a little book shelf. For the longest time, I never saw them despite the fact they were right in front of me at my grandparent’s house. But when I found them, it gave me more pride in what I did. Maybe this will sound farfetched, yet it made me feel as though my interest in writing and storytelling was not an accident. It made me feel orgulloso and that’s exactly how the Mexican gente of Cancùn feel about the Mayans.
With that energy, I started to develop my book series in a more honest way, it made me take risks and to capture a voice that was unique to the protagonist I was trying illustrate — an immature and depressed millennial, someone that is a hot mess in life and cannot get over his past. Similarly, the tequila of Cancùn also tries to portray a story for all those who experience its beautiful taste and spirit.
So if you are in Cancùn, try to get out of the resort once in a while mis amigos. Drink some tequila, learn something new. After all, tanning can get boring.