22 December: Cancun in Quintana Roo

indi's picture

Disappointed with Cancun

We woke up early and rush to write the entries for the travelog. Then, Indi, me and Noe went to drive around Cancun, to Zona Hotelera, because we wanted to see the beach.

In Zona Hotelera, it was clear that everything is measured in US dollar. We wanted to have breakfast but had to delay it a bit to avoid paying so much, instead we just eat later at the city where the locals eat.

We were surprised that the beach was all located behind rows of hotels and buildings along avenue Kukulcan, and we couldn’t see the beach at all, except for a small corner, where we saw that the beach was really blue and beautiful.

Therefore, after driving a bit far, we stopped at hotel Barcelo and pretended to be a guest of the hotel. In the past, this method has been successful. We tried to enter Four Season’s hotel in Hualalai in Big Island Hawaii and nobody noticed.

This time, we were wrong! The security guard immediately noticed it, because all guests are wearing a rubber bracelet on their wrists. It was totally a discriminatory policy based on wrist bracelet! We just told to the security guard that we just arrived and will check in soon. Then we went down near to the beach. When we head back to the lobby, the hotel staff chased us by saying “Sir, what is your last name? We tried to find you at the airport yesterday, your booking with us is confirmed”, pretending that we’re hotel guest. I am sure that this is just one way to send us off their hotel without creating conflict, so we just run away as soon as possible.

We then head back to the hotel. Our impression is that, WE HATE CANCUN! By law the beaches in mexico are public places, but we are unable to access them without first accessing hotels, which are totally exclusive and private. We then called Porfirio, a Mexican friend who stayed with Keluarga Hindro 15 years ago, to ask about beach access. And he confirmed that few decades ago, the sites in Cancun are sold by the government for exclusive resort, and thus the access to the beach is limited.

We then continued to drive to Puerto Juarez, to the port where the boat leaves to Isla Mujeres, and we had a breakfast in a taco/torta sandwich there. For only 50 pesos, we had one sandwich, two chorizo tacos, and one huuuuge glass (like one liter) of orange juice. Then we bought copy from OXXO.

We rushed back to the hotel and uploaded photos to flickr. In the hotel, we met Neil, a British traveler who has been in Indonesia traveling from Sumatra to Sulawesi and learned bahasa Indonesia. Neil also agreed with us that Cancun is disappointing, he will head off to Tulum then to Cuba.

Thus, we decided to stay in Playa del Carmen longer rather than having to return to Cancun on the last day in Yucatan Peninsula. Luckily, there is room available in Playa del Carmen, and also we could cancel our Cancun hotel booking without incurring any charge.

Meeting Pillo


We then went to Porfirio house at the northern side of Central cancun, a non touristy area. He was really nostalgic about his stay in Indonesia and really talked a lot about it! He was such a nice and exciting guy. He looked like Borat.


He told us that his mother side is originally from Lebanon, but they are forbidden to use Arabic name, hence needed to change their name to Gonzalez.

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We were introduced to Maribel, a lady who helps Porfirio clean the house. When Porfirio, Indi, and Yodhi went out to buy lunch, I chatted with Maribel. She told me that she is a Maya, and she speaks Maya at home. Her last name is Kam-Xi. I became interested to learn some Mayan language.


Porfirio worked from home to help a Cancun tourism website, while taking care of his bedridden mum. He was such a dedicated and loving son. During lunch, he carried his 80-year old mum to the dining table and helped her with the lunch. Occasionally he called her mi amore, which is pretty romantic. We were really touched with his love to his mother.

A Boat Ride around Cancun Lagoon and Sea

We had a very long chat with Porfirio that we didn’t realize that it is almost sunset. Then he told us that his brother had asked us to come for a boat ride around the lagoon and the ocean. Of course we couldn’t resist such a tempting offer. We’re driving off to a marina in Zona Hotelera and met Fernando with his boat, named Fragata, which means Albatross. It was a small boat, just like a car, with 350 horse power, V8 engine, Pennsylvania made, with leather seat and many spots to store your glass of drinks. There is even toilet! Fernando served us with cervezas “Sol”, with peanuts, chicarron crackers, and olives.


Fernando uses the boat twice a week to go out into the sea with the family to do snorkeling and waterski. He only goes out as far as Isla Mujeres. Using his boat, he needed 8 hours to get to Havana with twice refill.

Fernando drove us along bank of the Kukulcan road, and exiting towards the sea from under the bridge. Then we had a long trip along the Zona Hotelera. We saw that the hotels were nearly full, and we saw some beach parties too.

Then he went back to the lagoon and drove us in a high speed around the mangrove swamp, which looked just like a labyrinth. It was an adrenaline rush. Suddenly the labyrinth opened up into a vast sea in the lagoon, with views of lights along the Zona Hotelera.


Dinner at Emara: Yucatecan Food


We continued to have dinner at Emara restaurant, which serves traditional Yucatan cuisine, together with Fernando family: Fernando Sr, Maria Luisa, Fernando Ali Jr, and Gabriela. During dinner Fernando told us that he managed to track his family name in Lebanon, which is ben Abbas. He tried to revive the Lebanese origin in his family, that is why he named Fernando Jr “Ali”.

For the drink we ordered sweet rice milk with a taste of cinnamon (I forgot the name). We ordered:

  • Panuchos – fried tortilla filled with red beans and topped with chicken, onion, and avocado.
  • Salbutes – soft tortilla topped with chicken, onion, and avocado
  • Tamal Colado – spicy tamal topped with chicken and salsa, served in banana leaf.
  • Vaporcito – fried spicy tamal filled with meat, served in banana leaf.


We ate them all with habanero salsa, which is the hottest chili in the world. It was totally delicious, even though the portion is small, it was really filling.

Tamal and Vaporcito tasted exactly like Arem arem in Yogya. We are sure "arem arem" were made with Spanish colonial influence!

For dessert, we ordered Arroz con Leche, which is basically rice pudding with cinnamon (just like its Arabic counterpart), and Queso Napolitana (which is just like flan, but with more eggs).

We then went back home and sleep.


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