It was our last day in paradise and it was time to say one last goodbye to Cancun. At 4:30AM, we began getting ready to watch the sunrise with our AirBnb host and his poodle sidekick, Rosa. Fifteen minutes later, a knock sounded on the door.
“Hey! I was just about to come outside.”
“I am so sorry guys, but I couldn’t sleep at all last night…and then at like three, I saw there was a good soccer game on and I haven’t gone back to bed since. I am so tired I don’t think I can take you to the beach anymore.”
“That’s okay! No worries. We can just walk over to one and catch it ourselves. Is there a place nearby?”
“Ahhh, yes, yes. Coco Bongo. You walk to the Hotel Zone and when you see Coco Bongo, you turn left and there is public access to the beach from there. I am very sorry, guys.”
“Don’t worry about it, really!”
“But, I have smoothies for you. Would you like them?”
I don’t think anyone in their right mind would turn down a fresh smoothie from Ricardo. So, we grabbed the coconut goodness and headed down the road before the sun began to rise. It was still dark outside, but the heat and humidity made it feel as if it was midday in the summer. It was only about fifteen minutes until we arrived in the neighborhood we’d been spending all of our time in that weekend. However, it was an atmosphere we’d never seen before. Instead of locals summoning you into bars and party-goers dancing on balconies to loud EDM with a margarita in hand, we were greeted with silence. No one was awake. We had the entire place to ourselves.
The palms rustled around us as a cool breeze came in from the ocean. Turning left at Coco Bongo, we tugged at our shoelaces and slipped off our socks, walking barefoot through the white sand. Once reaching the shoreline, the lukewarm water splashed over our toes as they left a trail behind us, marking our path on this side of the world. We walked and walked and walked until we reached the edge of the beach. Here, a line of tall, concrete blocks occupied the space, protecting the beach from various weather seasons. Climbing up in the slippery wall, we found a dry spot to perch on.
The beach, too, was free of any wanderers, which surprised me. However, I suppose the nightlife normally draws in more visitors than the sunrise and I don’t know too many people who are capable of enjoying both. The cotton white caps on the waves rolled over and splashed at our feet as a few lone seagulls soared above us. By now, the sky was full of cotton candy: fuzzy clouds on a peony backdrop overlooking a sapphire pool. We gazed into what seemed like the end of the Earth as the colors transfigured from bubblegum to tangerine and, finally, honey. Ricardo told us that honey is nature’s cure. He gave us a homemade jar and said to lather it all over our skin to soak in the nutrients after a day in the sun. Looking at this sunrise, I was sure that what he said was true. Honey was nature’s cure.
Tiptoeing back to Coco Bongo with bare, sandy feet, we waved goodbye to the Cancun and hello to our last taxi driver. Back at the AirBnb, Dodi was already busy making us her Mexican Eggs scrambled with onion, tomato, avocado, cotija and, of course, hot sauce. She poured us a fresh glass of orange juice and a shot of espresso as we sat there overlooking the lagoon. Rosa was on yard duty, standing up from her cool spot in the shade every now and then to chase the stray iguanas that wandered into the yard.
“Are you ready?” Ricardo came out of his room and asked us.
“You should just cancel the flight and stay another week. That was too quick,” he joked with us, yet we could feel that underlying message of him truly not wanting us to go. Though we were gone most of the days running around and exploring, we spent a lot of time with Ricardo during our trip. We learned about his upbringing and how he started his AirBnb. He told us stories from his youth and where he worked and about how he used to have the best place to party in the airport [yes, you read that correctly].
I sat in the backseat with Rosa as he drove us back to the airport. Once we arrived, he got out, helping us with our suitcases and giving each of us a big hug.
“You better come back soon!” he said waving goodbye as we walked up the sidewalk.
“I hope we will!” I shouted back, knowing, like so many other times in my life, that this one wasn’t a goodbye either, it was still a see-you-later.
See you later, Ricardo, Rosa, and Dodi.