After 3 months of being back in Edmonton saving up my money to (once again) go traveling, I boarded an early morning flight bound for Cancun, Mexico. I had worked between 50 and 60 hours a week as a server to start this next venture; a summer that left me with heavier pockets and a lessening faith in humanity, but the light at the end of the tunnel was that I’d soon be stepping foot in sunny Mexico.
After 2 layovers and 9 hours, I was greeted by a wall of humidity and the smiling, extremely beardy face of my boyfriend, Tommy. We hadn’t seen each other in two months and we decided that we would spend a few nights in Cancun at an all-inclusive resort before heading back to Cozumel, our final destination. He had been there for two months already doing his Dive Master program, and would be joining me for training to become PADI dive instructors – a qualification I needed in addition to my being an SSI instructor in order to pursue my love of teaching diving. We stayed at the Dreams Cancun Resort, a beautiful place with one major downfall: it housed dolphins in captivity.
I almost long for the days when I didn’t know better, when I was younger and I loved Sea World just because I got to be so close to these beautiful animals. But I do know better, and seeing these dolphins put on shows for ignorant tourists every day broke my heart. Documentaries like The Cove and Black Fish have done so much to educate people on the plight of dolphins and orca whales in captivity, but there is still such a large market for these things, no matter who suffers. I could go on forever about how amazingly clever these animals are and why they absolutely do not belong in captivity, but I strongly urge everyone to watch these documentaries and see for yourself …the original Flipper committed suicide because she was too depressed living in captivity. If that doesn’t tug at the ol’ heartstrings, I don’t know what will.
Dolphin prison aside, the resort was beautiful and accommodating, and we spent most of our days on the beach, reading and enjoying the weather and the water. I’ve never been to an all-inclusive before, and while I enjoyed the endless glasses of champagne, I did feel a slight awkwardness at the level to which we were waited on. In 30 degree weather, waiters in long shirts and pants would trudge through the sand to deliver drinks to patrons too lazy to walk the 15 meters to the bar. My summer of servitude had me empathizing with the staff to the point I felt guilty asking for anything, always preferring to get things myself. I guess the all-inclusive experience is lost on people like me.
The resort offered a variety of different dining options that we perused to our leisure, including a Japanese restaurant on the water, a buffet, a grill restaurant on the beach and a Mexican restaurant that was “limited seating” and “extremely popular”. On our last night we finally got a reservation at said Mexican restaurant and were thoroughly interested to see what all the fuss was about. Well, in a restaurant of about 50 tables (limited seating, my arse) only 4 were full. We were greeted at the door by a man in a ridiculously fancy suit for a Mexican restaurant, overwhelmed by the Marachi band that roamed around and the waiters that sang along. I spent a good portion of the meal giggling into my wine because I couldn’t figure out why this place was so hard to get a reservation for – the food was good but not extraordinary, and the whole experience was quite a lot to take. It’s hard to enjoy your dinner together when your waiter turns up to pour water and starts belting out some Mexican tune.
After 6 lazy days and nights in Cancun, we hailed a taxi, boarded a bus, and narrowly caught our ferry, starting the journey to the island of Cozumel. I wasn’t sure what was waiting when we got there, but I knew that in a month, I would be a PADI dive instructor and hopefully on my way to my dream job. With that on my mind, I put my earphones in, leaned back in my seat and closed my eyes.