You’ve probably planned a trip to somewhere before, so when people ask you where you’re going, you have an answer for them, right?
Well the past few months, when people asked where I was going, I would respond to them, “I don’t know,” because I genuinely had no clue.
Confused? You might be if you weren’t in on the secret trip.
Every year my friends plan a spring break trip, where about 20 of us jet off somewhere together for a few days of fun-filled memories. Usually the destination is revealed around December so we can all book our flights. The rest of the trip is left a surprise until we get there. THIS YEAR was different. My two friends planning it were Garrett and Elizabeth, the coolest newlyweds I know. They decided to keep the destination a secret until the last possible minute: when we arrive at the airport.
Talk about exciting, right?!
With so many possibilities of where 23 of us could be going, my mind was ecstatic at the thought of the whole trip being a surprise. I had a few guesses where it could be (none of which were right), but I decided to mind Mayan business, and not pursue solving the puzzle. I don’t know when I could have another opportunity like this, so I’d simply let things happen the way they should.
All 23 of us landed in Cancun and drove to our Airbnb in Akumal (the town adjacent to Tulum). Upon arrival, excitement was painted on everyone’s face, especially after stepping foot into the Airbnb. We all scrambled through the house to peep inside every room — maybe not knowing what to expect made the place even more amazing than it already was.
Keep in mind that we all spent a solid chunk of money for this trip, and not knowing what you’re paying for might be a little nerve-wracking for some people. But that’s part of the fun, isn’t it? You don’t know what to expect, so if you believe that anything can happen, you’re more likely to be surprised.
A perfect example was when our friend Chuck had suggested we visit the unique Azulik: a hotel, wellness center, art gallery, restaurant and bar. He had been recommended by several friends that this is a must-do on a trip to Tulum. Some of us were hesitant at first, wondering, what could make this place so special? At the intersection of luxury and sustainability, Azulik is an experience in itself that lets you reconnect with nature. Integrating natural elements into their design, you are immediately surrounded by something to invigorate your senses: the sound of running water, the smoky Mayan incense burning, and the smooth winding wooden paths beneath your bare feet (yes, they make you take off your shoes!). Nestled into the treetops, the bar is spotted with “bird nests” (they look like giant papasans) for you to unwind and relax in with a drink or snack. We piled into a bird nest and quickly took over a section of tables, so we could begin putting our drink orders in. A few of us ordered tacos, and to everyone’s surprise, they were some of the best we’ve ever eaten.
My favorite activity of the trip was our adventure tour, where we fortunate enough to rappel, zip-line, and snorkel in a key element of Mayan culture: a cenote. Cenotes are beautiful sinkholes with exposed groundwater commonly found throughout Central America. Before rappelling, we stood beneath a cold outdoor shower to rinse off any chemicals on our skin, in order to help preserve the natural marine environment of the cenote. Entering a cenote by rappel was super exciting for me, but for one of our friends who’s scared of heights, it was probably a bit intimidating. Watching him conquer his fear and step out of his comfort zone was inspiring — an important reminder to greet challenges with an open mind and positive attitude. You go Gordo!
Splashing into the cool, crystal-clear blue water of the cave, we were suddenly surrounded by stalagmites and stalactites. Rays of light shined down into the water from holes in the ceiling above, letting you observe the little schools of fish that flutter by or a bat soaring overhead. The great thing about this tour was that none of the cenotes we swam through were overcrowded with tourists, like many can be in the Yucatan Peninsula. But this was just our group, so it was a great opportunity to take it all in with people you love.
Side note: if you’re planning a trip to this part of Mexico, you can’t miss an experience in the cenotes. You’ll feel like a real explorer, gliding through shimmery water, discovering untouched, caves in Mexico. Highly recommend!
Life throws you surprises and obstacles. There are plenty of situations when things are out of your control, but, if you remember that your reaction to it is something you can control, things will work out.
The key to success? Live outside your comfort zone. Challenges that arise are inevitable, so you might as well embrace them as an experience in which you will learn and grow.
— Alex —