I am a teeny tiny bit sensitive concerning the fact that people get Cancun and Cozumel confused. It doesn't piss me off or anything, it's just that we go to Cozumel, not Cancun and I would NOT go to Cancun unless someone was paying me and yeah, I'd go and then I'd get the bus down to Playa del Carmen and get on the ferry to Cozumel.
And what's the difference you might ask?
They're both in Mexico on the Caribbean and have gorgeous beaches and people go there and drink tequila. Right?
Well, yes. Sort of, although it's a little bit like asking what the difference between Disney World and Wakulla Springs is or maybe more to the point- the difference between oh, say, Miami Beach and Dog Island.
Cancun was an invention by the then-president of Mexico to attract tourists about thirty years ago. According to the web site History of Cancun, Mexico, "The place chosen was a deserted sand spit somewhere offshore near a little fishing village called Puerto Juarez. The name of the uninhabited place was Snake's Nest, but of course in Maya language: Cancun."
Whereas on the other hand, Cozumel is an island off the coast further south which has had a town, a culture, and a life for a very long time. Supposedly it was settled by the Maya in the first millennium AD and according to our good friend Wikipedia, artifacts on the island date back even farther to "preclassic Olmec." Plus- Cozumel was (and still is to some of us) the sacred home of Ixchel, the Mayan moon goddess and was a shrine to be visited by Mayan women as a fertility pilgrimage.
Jacques Cousteau "discovered" Cozumel in 1960 when he saw the reefs there. It has been a popular diving destination ever since although I do not dive and have been told countless times that it's ridiculous to go to Cozumel and NOT dive, I don't care. I snorkel.
When Mr. Moon and I first visited Cozumel in 1987 it was a great deal more laid-back and "undiscovered" than it is now but I still love it. Things change. Some things, thankfully, do not. The people in Cozumel are what I truly think keep bringing me back.
I just love the Maya.
Damn, I do.
Plus- maybe Ixchel? Something draws me back over and over and over again.
Cancun is a full-out, completely invented tourist destination where people go to get crazy, drink themselves into stupors, eat American Mexican food and avail themselves of every Mexican vacation cliche in the book. Not that I haven't seen people drink themselves into a stupor in Cozumel but that is usually a person of the cruise-ship variety.
The cruise ships come and then they go.
Me? I go and then I stay.
Okay. We do sometimes go over to the mainland to see some of the amazing Mayan ruins. Chichen Itza, Coba, Tulum. There are others I would love to see and hope to some day.
But I have no desire to visit Cancun with its giant hotels, its frenetic night-life.
Give me funky Cozumel with its zocaro where the little children play as their parents look on and the teenagers flirt with each other and the grandmothers are about two feet tall and have faces as deeply wrinkled as Keith Richards'. (You know I can't not mention Keith on a Sunday.)
Cancun translates to Snake Nest. Cozumel translates to Isle of the Swallows.
I think that pretty much sums it up.
And so- if ever offered a trip to Cancun, you might want to think about it. You might want to say, "How about Cozumel instead?"
Or even Isla Mujeres which is another island and one even smaller and less developed than Cozumel and another place I want and NEED to visit.
I have grown up in Florida and I am not ashamed to be a tourist. I am not even ashamed to visit tourist destinations. I just want them to be at least BASED on some sort of reality.
If there even is such a thing.
Glad we cleared that up.
Adios and vaya con whatever dios you believe in.
P.S. Elizabeth- do not take this personally. People think I go to Cancun all the time, including people I have known in real life for decades. Sigh.
I love you.