My first month in Mexico was a whirlwind.
I’d landed a gig with one of the big travel guide companies and in the span of a single month I had about 100 places along the coast to visit, try, and review.
And so I hit the ground running.
I walked the beaches of the northern coast and jumped from restaurant to restaurant in the center. I stopped into dive shops and galleries, took tours of sprawling resorts. I took Colectivo rides up and down the coast.
And about 3/4 through the project I booked Chad and I a weekend in the south.
It wasn’t a vacation, certainly. Not with so much to do. But I thought our weekend in the south would be a nice sort-of getaway. A different set of beaches. A quieter, more remote location. A little peace and quiet in between the bustle of the job.
Instead, though, it was exhausting. The little getaway town was actually a cruise ship port full of locals jumping in front of our cars with menus trying to get us to stop in. The pot-holed local roads had experienced recent flooding and were impassible in spots. With one exception, the food was mediocre and sat heavy and hard on our guts. And by the time Sunday rolled around, feeling queasy and so bone-deep tired that I wanted to cry, I contacted the lovely B&B that was supposed to host us and told the owner that I was terribly sorry, but I was just not well enough to stay another night.
So we headed home.
And on our way there, we got shaken down by the local cops.
It’s a common scam down here. We’d heard about it before. But we also hoped against hope that with just a couple days of car rental, we’d be left alone.
The cops pulled us over and told us we were speeding (pretty sure we weren’t, as it was a road with a gazillion speed bumps and we wouldn’t have been able to), that the fine was $150 (total lie), and that the municipal office was closed. They could either take Chad’s license and we could pay the fine and collect it the next day or we could give them $150 on the spot.
In the end, we got them down to $50.
And feeling no less scammed/robbed, we crawled the last hour home praying that no other cops felt the need to steal our cash.
By the time we got home, I felt like crying. Or maybe throwing up.
I was also desperately glad we’d decided to come home a day early.
Because the truth is that travel isn’t always fun. Not every place sings to every soul. Not every weekend away is a stress-free one. Not every mile covered is one you want to immortalize.
And sometimes it’s good to slow down. To retreat. To go back to wherever does feel safe and well and stable.
For us, after that weekend, that meant going home early to Tulum and spending the next 24 hours recovering in our apartment. And later—after I spent weeks desperately ill with a parasite and we both reached our limit with the garbage-laden empty lots we passed on our walks and the rarely-successful attempts at finding organic food—it meant recognizing that we were no longer enjoying Mexico and making arrangements to leave a little earlier than planned.
Which is okay.
It’s okay not to love something you thought you’d love.
It’s okay to leave early.
It’s okay to stand still.
It’s okay to do whatever you need to do to get your health, wellness, or serenity back.
[NOTE: Multiple people have gotten the sense from this article that I had a completely miserable time in Mexico. I’d like to clarify: this post is about one specific weekend and one specific destination (far south on the coast toward Belize) that was not what I expected, needed, or loved. It’s also about realizing what we need and listening to ourselves. This is not meant to be a commentary on all of Mexico (which would be a really ridiculous thing to write after a short visit to one region) or even a commentary on the whole region we explored – just a story about one failed weekend and about getting comfortable with the idea that not every travel experience will be what we expect.]