I never went on spring break back when I was in the age range when people are supposed to go on spring break. My friends in college and I never did a trip to a real spring break destination. But this year, thanks to my friend Bruce getting married, we finally did one.
Last weekend, myself and several friends went to Cancun, Mexico. It was the SPRING BREAAAAAK we never had. Only now everyone's between 31 and 33 years old. That couldn't get weird, right?
Here are 11 random observations about spring break in Cancun from someone at least a decade past when you're supposed to be doing spring break in Cancun.
College age and up.
There are no high school kids anymore. When I was in high school, a few kids every year would talk their parents into letting them go to Mexico for spring break. Those days are over. In the past 15 years, Cancun has gone off the table for high school kids thanks to the mix of helicopter parenting, Mexico's increased danger, and kids being coddled to the point where their lack of street smarts makes it dangerous for them to even go to New Mexico unsupervised.
I don't think I saw any large groups of high school kids walking around the entire time. And that's fair. If I had a teenager, I'd strap myself to the nose of the plane to keep him or her -- especially her -- from going alone to Mexico. And speaking of parents not letting "her" go to Cancun...
The male-female ratio is horrible. I remember a few years back I was talking to my friend Noah, who went to UMass and did go to Cancun for spring break during college. He mentioned to me the male-female ratio was awful. "Hmm," I thought, "that's not what it seems like on MTV." Then I forgot that conversation. Until we went out on Friday night.
As bad as it was then, it's gotten worse now. I think 11 fellows to every one female might be generous. It could be even worse than that.
But why do I, as someone in a locked down relationship, care? Simple. No one wants to be around that many men who are all competing for a handful of women. It's painful to watch. There's another reason too, which we'll cover in the next point.
Good news: People don't wear sunglasses at nightclubs anymore.Bad news: Now half the guys take their shirts off. There were so many shirtless men I felt like I was at a United Steelworkers of America dance party. Also, so many of them were fist pumping. On both of those counts, it's clear they haven't gotten the memo that the Jersey Shore fad is over.
The Cancun hotel zone.
Despite the hype, the Cancun tourist area feels totally safe. About a week before the trip, the State Department was kind enough to issue a warning basically telling Americans not to go to Mexico. That went over well. But really, the entire time I was there, I never felt even remotely unsafe, and I accomplished that by being a self-centered American who didn't venture outside of Touristland. I have no idea what goes on outside of Cancun's hotel zone. No one on Spring Break does -- not unless you decide to leave the area for non-prescription drugs, brothels or, worst of all, cultural or historical expeditions to the Mayan ruins.
All-inclusive hotels have a few catches. Almost all of the hotels in Cancun seem to be all-inclusive -- meals and drinks included. But there are three catches. One, the way they get away with all-inclusive food is by making a lot of it buffet quality. And not Vegas buffet. Larry's Discount Cafeteria buffet. You have to really scout what food is good and not so good.
Two, you can't order beers from room service without food. I guess that's a safety measure? So we'd have to order 10 Tecate Lights and one small pizza. (Although, in their defense, the pizza always got eaten.)
And three, the only thing resort security focuses on is protecting their all-inclusive food. You can get away with basically anything except bringing a guest onto the resort. When you come back to the hotel they very carefully check everyone's bracelets to make sure you aren't planning to -- God forbid -- eat a club sandwich if you're not staying there.
Apparently public urination is the biggest crime. Besides not letting non-guests partake in all-inclusiveness, the only other rule that seems to be aggressively enforced in the Cancun hotel zone is no public urination. Just about every cab driver we had all weekend warned us about that.
However, one did say that for 60 American dollars, a cop wouldn't arrest you for public urination. And for 100 American dollars, he'd also let you, um, publicly move bowels. No one field tested that statement.
The Cancun hotel zone only has one road. If I were going to Cancun spring break again, I'd try to get a hotel closer to where the nightlife is. Because the entire zone has one road. Just one road. And the traffic on it is horrible all night long. I kept singing the South Park song about how if you want to get across Canada, you just follow the only road. (Singing arcane South Park songs set to Wizard of Oz tunes is an important element of any ragin' spring break.)
I didn't return home with any pesos. And I wouldn't know their flexible value anyway.
You can use American dollars... but the exchange rate depends on who you're talking to. I think the official rate is about 13-14 pesos for every $1. But that depends. Sometimes something cost, say, 200 pesos and that meant $20. Sometimes $16. Sometimes $25. But always whatever you happened to have in your pocket.
Unless you're the world's oldest, creepiest man, there'll always be an older, creepier man on Spring Break. We were a little worried that we'd be the really old, creepy men on spring break. Fortunately, everywhere we were, we saw guys who were older and we saw guys who were creepier. Just like in life. Until you're 108 years old, walking around using your extender claw arm to try to pinch labia, there's always someone older and creepier than you.
I'm glad I got to see a Cancun spring break, even if it was a decade late. I think it's really a worthwhile life experience to check off. I mean... it was better than going on Spring Break to the sun sphere in Knoxville, right? Next up: Doing Oktoberfest in Germany instead of Torrance, California.
Today's college students realize what they do will be immortalized on the Internet. This trip was my first sign that, yes, kids have realized that the Internet is forever and anything they do ends up there. Now, instead of doing wild things, they all channel their desire for permanent regret into getting bad tattoos.
This post was originally published on Friday, March 23, 2012 at 09:45:00 AM under the category Travel.