Reverse Culture Shock in Isla Cozumel

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We are experiencing a reverse culture shock and we are not even back home yet. No, we are still in Mexico—I think so, anyway.

For our last few days, we had the chance to book a nice hotel in Isla Cozumel, Mexico biggest island. We knew it was going to be a touristic place: the Cancún-Playa Del Carmen-Cozumel is a hot spot for North Americans, especially during the winter.

From Tulum, we took a collectivo to Playa. Once there, we entered another world, one of pasty-white tourists in Hawaiian shirts, drinking tequila and strolling the main street. The ferry was a strange experience: passengers were all gringos for a start. Before the boat left, a guy selling food and drink showed up and most passengers bought chips and beer. I’m still French when it comes to food and I never really understood why North Americans feel the need to eat in places where you don’t really need to. The first time I saw a guy eating a burger at the wheel in Canada, I was puzzled. “Why doesn’t he park somewhere and have a proper lunch?” I wondered.

Don’t get me wrong, I snack too. But I tend to do it when it’s a long bus ride, not an hour-long trip to the island. And I’m always surprised to see so many people associate “holiday” with “booze”. I don’t really drink myself but I’m not a teetotaller—it’s just strange to see people behaving like drunks everywhere.

On the boat, most tourists clearly weren’t having their first drink of the day. They were loud, the kind of loud people are when they have one too many.

And then, the band started to play. Yes, there was a band on the boat, playing “Mexican” music—well, something that kind of sounded party-ish/holiday-ish. For a second, I feared people would start dancing. Ain’t no fucking cruise ship people!

I’m a killjoy. I know.

We are clearly out of our element here. Cozumel is a huge island and the hotel is located 4.5 kilometres from the town. There isn’t much around and the few restaurants charge American prices. Forget about paying in peso, everything is in U.S. dollar.

We look different. Actually, only Mexicans and us were searched by the military upon arriving in Cozumel. I take it as a compliment: we blended in.

We are going to make the most of our time in Cozumel. But it still feels strange to be in a “resort” kind of place, miles away from Honduras or Guatemala.

The Boat in Playa

In The Boat

Arriving in Cozumel


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. You have a good tan… so you’re definitely blending in from all the tourists! I’m also always surprised to see so many people that relate holidays to drinking like crazy – I’ve seen it a lot in the Canary Islands! The all-inclusive resorts tend include wines and whiskeys and vodkas… and I’ve seen so many people already pissed at noon from having cocktails for breakfast and a six pack at the pool.

  2. I’ve been to these kind of places two times in an all-inclusive and I say never again in my life! Although I find it really funny to find people drunk sleeping in the sand in the morning!

  3. Hey! Ain’t nothing wrong with snacking! Although continuous eating mixed with continuous drinking, combined with a boat ride…well lets just say I’m glad that I don’t work for the ferry company! 😉

    • Nope, no filter. Well, I have a basic one just to protect the lens, the cheapest one really ($10). I tweak the white balance for colour though.

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