The Urban Wanderer

Crossing Borders ~ Bridging Cultures ~ Traveling Responsibly

Tacos, Tourists and Trampstamps

This post was originally from February 9, 2023

And we’re off! 

Yesterday started bright and early when our Uber picked us up at 3am. Our flights were super easy compared to what I’m used to; especially comparing my last two trips to South Africa which takes almost 2 days of travel! A half hour flight to Calgary and then a 5 hour flight to Cancun. Within half a day we touched down in paradise. Getting out of the airport however was far from paradise. It seemed like every flight in this hemisphere landed in Cancun at the exact same time as hundreds and hundreds of people were herded towards customs. There were so many people that nobody knew where the lines began or ended. At one point a fight broke out between an older man and a younger woman because one thought the other cut in line. Tensions sure were high for a bunch of people supposedly on vacation. Almost 3 hours later and finally were on our way to Playa del Carmen. 

Playa del Carmen is a bustling tourist hub. 5th Street is at the centre of it all – where as far as your can walk it’s lined with souvenir shops, amazing Mexican restaurants, bars and other random attractions. It’s the perfect place to people watch and listen to all the mariachi bands. 

There’s one place that we saw on 5th Street that made me feel quite upset. It’s called Animalandia. It’s a place nestled among all the shops where you can get a photo taken with baby big cats that are so tiny they are size of my cat at home. From my quick glance I spotted a white tiger, regular tiger, panther and a lion. I can only imagine how quickly these beautiful creatures grow and how long these people can actually care for them. What do they do with them then? The answer is pretty obvious and I can only imagine the conditions that the mother and father big cats live in. It made me so mad to see the workers luring people in and so many people falling under the spell of being up close with something so adorable. The longer that people pay money to take the photos, the longer this will go on. 

I recently watched a documentary called The Last Tourist. If you haven’t seen it, I urge everyone to watch it. It shows the dark side of tourism but also the beauty of how travel can help and build communities. Animal welfare was one topic they touched on, and this was a clear example of how demand perpetuates inhumane practices. 

In my fury I googled this place and found an online petition. I was more than happy to add my name to the list however the petition was in Spanish. With my massive Spanish vocabulary I guessed what the fields meant. It asked for Nombre and I assumed it meant phone number. I entered my number. The next field asked for Apellido. I took a wild guess there and entered my address. Last was email and I clicked send and yes to make it public. Yesssss I successfully signed it. I then sent the link to Liza and her phone auto filled the fields. What the what? It was only asking for first name, last name and email. Oh shit… did I just publicly give my phone number and address to the entire world? Yep, sure did. Dumb and Dumber strikes again. The worst part is when you go to the website there it is for all to see … some bozos full contact info! (And yes that bozo is me-head slap) If I have some big cat mafia following me, we will know why! 

If you want to add your name to the petition (correctly) please click here.

Anyway the rest of the day was pretty chill. We got to sit on the beach for a while before meeting our tour group. Meeting the group for the first time is always interesting. You never know what characters you are going to get. This group is a bit on the older side with a few stand out personalities but I’m looking forward to getting to know some of them more. 

The adventure begins tomorrow as we leave Playa and discover more of what Mexico has to offer. 

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