Xplor (Forget Disneyland)

6 of April

Well, I am here to tell you that the attraction park Xplor right outside of Playa (off the caratera, aka freeway) is a must for vacationers and residents alike! Yesterday my family, cousins Kristine and Kennedy visiting from San Francisco, and our young friends Asha and Raina all made the trip down the caratera to explore Xplor (sorry, had to.) Residents: you guys know the drill- it is impertinent to bring FM2s or school IDs to the parks to receive discounts. My family of eight was able to squeak out 10% off each of our admission prices with resident verification. Tourists: the parks may seem pricey, but compared to American or Canadian budgets, Xplor is an incredible deal, especially considering the amazing, worthwhile memories you will make.

Xplor is situated so that the lockers to store your belongings in are at the heart of the park, and each pathway to the various attractions stem like valves from the plaza, in which a large mosaic heart in embedded in the ground, accompanied by a thumping soundtrack. Please take my advice and only wear your bathing suit in the park. Store all your jewelry, cover-up clothing, and any other items in the lockers provided or they will get wet or lost. Wearing just a bikini, I was not only ready for any watery surprises in the zip lines, off-road cars, cenote swims, and paddle-rafting, but I was also able to stay warm and dry up quickly after each endeavor.

There are two sets of zip lines that glide over the canopy of the jungle. Low and fast, the “Deer” zip lines took us across the park within an hour, encompassing about seven different lines. The second option, “Jaguar”, flew high and more leisurely, allowing a vast view of the land all the way to the cerulean waters and beetle-sized buildings that make up Playa. Yet be warned, the path to each zip line is a trek up winding staircases or whirling vertical pathways that we covered with relish, but is not for the faint of heart.

The car section of the park I tackled with Kristine, my brother Kalin, and Asha, which proved to be an awesome time. To drive the jeeps you  must be 18 or older and have a valid license, a rule obviously in place to keep crazy drivers off the dusty roadways and underground cenote off-roading. Unfortunately for Xplor, what they lack is a crazy-o-meter, a device that would aptly determine whether or not the >18 drivers would drive as carefully as they were supposed to. If there was such a thing as this adrenaline-seeker barometer, Kristine would not have have been allowed to set one foot in the jeep- a fact confirmed as we shot off from the parking lot at a million miles an hour, narrowly avoiding the mangroves and trees that were scattered about the road. With my stomach colliding into my heart, the cars were a blast.

After racing through the two car tracks, our group moseyed over to the “river” swim, floundering through a narrow cave to reach a majestic, rotund waterfall. Lastly, the group split: Mum and most of the kids headed to the hammock zip line while Kristine, Papa, Raina, Kalin, and I all rounded out our adventures of the day with paddle rafting through an underground cenote.

In addition to the incredible, active experience, our growling stomachs were buffered by an impressive, all-inclusive buffet filled with vegan and vegetarian options. Three types of all-fruit smoothies, a selection of hot caffeinated drinks, an expansive salad bar, gourmet entrees, savory appetizers, and low-caloric content desserts graced the countertops in a buffet that made up the most food I’ve ever seen in one place. In short, it was exactly the type of all-inclusive I’d want to participate in.

Just a side bar (although my mother isn’t going to be happy with me for posting this) I couldn’t help but disgustedly marvel in my culture shock towards the obesity in the park. Seriously, about 1 in 2 people was overweight, and something around 1 in 4 was obese. Were Americans always this… robust? A boy and his father couldn’t even ride on the zipline because their weight exceeded 300 pounds, and honestly, I didn’t feel bad for them. America is sending a mixed message to to their people. On one hand they “advocate” for “health” (which is a scam in itself) and on the other they console the obese and assure people that they are perfect no matter what size they are. Of course it is important to love yourself and have a healthy level of self-esteem, but using those values as an excuse to overeat and compensate for a sense of dignity is wrong. After living among sensibly fit, polite people from all different cultures and countries for all these months, I was appalled at the blubbery American population at Xplor and at the rude, ‘me, me, me’ centered attitude that was so obviously displayed in speech and body language. It was the common courtesies that I’ve become accustomed to giving and receiving in Mexico that were sorely lacking, and the glimpse of my old world confirmed what I’ve known since the second day I lived here: I do not want to live in the States.

Fortunately, the States aren’t just impolite bellies and girth, and having Kristine and Kennedy with us on the Xplor trip made my heart ache for San Francisco and the eccentricities of California. Our cousins brought their refreshing spontaneity and (loud) fun with them for only a short two weeks, some of which I spent in the hospital, so I cannot wait to spend more time with them over the summer. In September my family will be returning to Playa Del Carmen after a summer in the USA, except this time we don’t know how long we will be staying here. That is truly the best part of our adventure though- no rules, no guidelines, no dates. We roll with the tides and sing with the breezes, steering clear of winter freezes! (Ha. Ha.)


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