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Reverse Culture Shock in Isla Cozumel

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

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