This – 2015 – is a fairly big year for Nick and me: it’s the year we both turn forty. Upon realizing this several years back (yes, we had to realize it; getting older is rough, y’all), we decided that our upcoming forty-ness would be the perfect excuse to embark on an adults-only vacation – ideally with a bunch of other friends who were also 1975ers (or close enough).
After nearly four years of planning, in mid-July we found ourselves at an all-inclusive resort north of Cancún*, a spot chosen both for its geographic middle-ness (for friends from both coasts) and its ability to serve our needs perfectly.
* the joke in the title was made by one of my BFF’s husbands. It is awesome.
We – eleven of us in total, some of our closest friends and some delightful friends of friends who became our buddies, too – all spent ample time by both of these bodies of water. Yes, they were bath-water warm… but the air temperature hovered over 100* (without accounting for humidity), so they were still refreshing.
Want to relax in your hotel room in air-conditioned splendor and take in the view? We could accommodate that.
The rooms were really quite lovely. And air-conditioned. Very, very air-conditioned.
The ocean was SO RIDICULOUSLY TURQUOISE BLUE.
Hazy morning shortly after sunrise… It was already at least 93*.
Want to trek 2.5 hours inland through the jungle (no, I mean that literally; except for the developed areas, which are not large, the Yucatán Peninsula is essentially all jungle, with vegetation so thick and lush, you’d be hard pressed to physically fit between the trees) and visit one of the most incredible archeological, astronomical, and architectural displays imaginable? We could make that happen.
This is what we saw as we crossed from the Gulf of Mexico over onto the Yucatán Peninsula, on which Cancún is located. That green stuff? JUNGLE. Real, live jungle.
Helllooooo, Chichen Itza.
In other news, the Mayan people were SERIOUSLY BADASS and WICKED SMART, yo.
Very sadly, you are no longer allowed to hike up the steps to the top.
So we posed (with Ryan, one of our best buds from college) in front instead.
Also? The Mayan people were serious about their ballgames.
As seen in this etching/carving (found on the side walls of the “ball court”), the warrior/player has a blade in one hand and the DECAPITATED HEAD of the captain of the WINNING TEAM in his other hand.
Why, you ask, did the VICTORIOUS captain lose his head (as depicted above – look closely and you’ll see the kneeling warrior [one knee on the ground, the other bent] with his missing head)? Because such an “honor,” after playing so well on the field, resulted in his immediately becoming a god and joining the other Mayan gods before him. Immortality and eternal praise? Not a bad prize, eh?!
Want to cool off after trudging around historic Mayan sites in the 105* Mexican sun by jumping into a cavernous sinkhole that’s more than 150′ deep? That could be arranged.
This is the Ik-Kil cenote. It is crazy cool, both literally and figuratively.
I was too chicken to jump from the raised platform (up the stairs to the right; Ryan and my friend, Sarah, took that plunge), but I did jump in from the lower platform. After wandering around in the blazing jungle sun, it felt positively heavenly.
Want to take in some local sites and cuisine? That was do-able.
Purchased at a roadside taco stand on the way to our resort.
When I say that I want to eat like the locals, I mean it.
A gloriously colorful side street just off the main drag on Isla Mujeres, an island just across from Cancún.
On the ferry to Isla Mujeres…
Want to just relax and never leave the resort, preferring instead to savor the all-you-can-eat food and endless alcoholic beverages? That was very, very do-able.
The ocean was very, very warm.
There are iguanas EVERYWHERE.
The pool complex at our hotel was right perty at night.
My mom sent me with these napkins to share with everyone. They were awesome.
CELEBRATE TURNING 40, DAMN IT!
Want to just soak in the splendor of the local colors, all of which are, somehow, more vibrant and vivid and awe-inspiring that anywhere else I’ve seen? We had that COVERED.
Do you SEE how insanely turquoise this water is??
Regular old Cancún sunset, nbd.
Purple and pink palm trees during the same sunset. Again, no biggie. They’re used to it.
Want to get a special little souvenir for your children and take photos of it all over the island? Have at it.
This is Itza, taking a dip in the ocean.
She also enjoyed being poolside.
An evening sunset wasn’t so bad, either.
Most importantly, want the opportunity to get together with friends – some of whom you were meeting for the first time, some you hadn’t seen in years, and two of whom included some of your very best, closest friends on the planet… but who had never met one another before? And then maybe revel in the true deliciousness of having days and DAYS to hang out together and eat together and drink together and lounge together and talk together and drink together and sing together (karaoke, poolside guitar, and a cappella; we took the resort by storm, y’all) and relax together and drink together? (Yes, I know I said that three times. I do try for accuracy.)
That was the most do-able — and the very best — thing of all.
Nine of the eleven of us, post cenote-jumping and Chichen Itza exploring. We were very, very hot and very, very ready for a beverage (or several) back at the hotel, but also very, very excited to have seen such an incredible historical site. Plus also the van was air-conditioned.
I think this turning-forty thing may not be so bad. I’ve got several more months to go, but in the meantime, we are already on our way to forming the oldest group in the next Pitch Perfect movie. And I have some delicious Mexican chocolates to keep me company until then, too.
With two of my very bestest friends, Sarah and Kiki – who had never met one another before this trip – and their excellent, harmonic husbands.