Motorists whizzed past on all sides and from all directions. Some even drove backwards. If we hadn’t perfected the art of crossing seemingly rule-defying traffic on the streets of Hanoi we might still be trapped there.
Of course here on a Saturday night in downtown Cancun, Mexico, only several miles but still a world away from any all-inclusive beach resort, the terrible driving skills we witnessed were completely understandable and not in any way life threatening.
After the sun went down and the heat lifted, families poured into Palapas Park to enjoy what I can only describe as a carnival. While children busied themselves careening battery operated Hummers and miniature convertibles around the grounds or launched themselves 20 meters high on a bungee-assisted trampoline, adults gathered around to watch dancers, grab treats from numerous food carts, or piled into an open air restaurant serving up large and delicious quesadillas selling for a little more than a dollar apiece.
The most remarkable thing about the gathering, though, and something that set it apart from every other market we’ve visited – from Luang Prabang, Laos, to Dubrovnik, Croatia, and nearly everywhere in between – is that there wasn’t a single thing offered specifically for visitors. No keepsakes or handbags. No “Lick It. Slam It. Suck It.” T-Shirts or Mayan artifacts. This was strictly a local affair. And even in the height of peak tourist season for Cancun, we were among the only tourists there.
It was fabulous. I’m glad we skipped the beach and hung out downtown for this little taste of local life, along with a taste of the great cheap eats available well away from the beach party district.