The first year on my own after 17 years of marriage was full of positive changes. And the fear of change I had felt before separating quickly turned to love for my new independent life and self.
I found a great house to rent near my kids school. I leased a my first ever new car. I rediscovered my passion for art and reconnected with old friends. And that first winter, I also reignited my passion for backpacking and adventure travel, and booked a trip to Mexico while my kids were away visiting my ex in Japan.
I grabbed a last minute flight to Cancun two days before I left. And because I hadn’t backpacked in awhile, I used booking.com to reserve my first two nights at “Harmony Glamping” in Tulum.
I arrived into the Cancun airport with my small carry on bag and headed for the ADO bus that was outside the airport doors. I paid 120 pesos (US$6) for the first bus to Playa del Carmen, and then switched to a second bus to Tulum for about 55 pesos. The journey took a few hours but the bus was air conditioned, comfortable, and safe, and I was traveling alone at night. When I arrived into Tulum, I checked into my Glamping accommodation. It turned out to be a beautiful, fully equipped tent. It was a great place to land and I felt safe there.
The next day, I walked into town and rented a bike. I met another backpacker at the bike shop so we decided to cycle to the beach and spend the day together. It took about 30 minutes to get to the beach where we hung out in the white sand most of the day, and then rode over to the Tulum ruins before back into town. Tulum beach is one of the best beaches in the world for kiteboarding so the following day, I went back and took a lesson.
I was glad I had only booked a couple of nights in Tulum though, because after a few days, I was ready to move on. On the third day, I took a quick day trip to Coba, one of the famous Mayan ruins in the area, and then jumped on another bus for the coast.
Playa del Carmen was awful. It was full of tourists from the never ending sea of cruise ships and I couldn’t wait to get out of there.
My next stop was Puerto Morelas, a small fishing village north of Playa del Carmen. It was wonderful. I found a great room in a small hotel for $30/night and met some people in the restaurant that I ended up going out for dinner with and then to the beach with the next day.
I stayed in Puerto Morelas for two nights and then continued north to Puerto Juarez where I caught a ferry to the Isla Mujeres, a small island off the coast. Ferry boats leave every half an hour all day until 9pm. The crossing takes about 15 minutes.
For the last leg of my trip on Isla Mujeres, I was getting pretty comfortable backpacking, and decided to book a youth hostel. I reserved a bed at the Azucar Hostel because it looked smaller and quieter than the other hostels in the area. Being in my 40’s I wasn’t sure how it would be in a youth hostel, but it was truly amazing. One of my roommates was another woman my age from California, one in her fifties from the UK, and a young girl from Scandinavia who was volunteering at the local animal shelter. We had a blast snorkelling and biking together during the days and salsa dancing in the evenings. I couldn’t have planned it better if I had tried!
Mexico was a great first solo adventure for me as a single mom. And as long as I have adventure in my life, I am one happy mama.