A Tale of Bucket Lists and House MusicPublished on March 30, 2017
As cliche as this sounds, I’ve been in love with music ever since I could hold a tune. But when it came to electronic music, I never understood what all the hype was about. Notice how I said “used to” as in past tense, but that all changed when I went on one epic trip.
When I was in the U.S. a few winters back, I remember skyping with a childhood friend one night when he casually mentioned this festival in Mexico. He told me it started in 2 days and tried to convince me to join but I didn't take his suggestions seriously (obviously). I told him how amazing it sounded and how I wished I’d known earlier, but he just told me to book the next flight to Mexico and he’d take care of accommodation, festival tickets and everything else. As I sat glued to the heater, bundled up in my 67 layers in the middle of January, I slipped into a lazy day dream and imagined soaking up the sun on the shores of a gorgeous beach, accompanied by a coconut cocktail...
Traveling is one of my biggest passions in life so it really doesn’t take much to convince me to travel anywhere (let alone to a sunny beach in Mexico). I know that there are different types of travelers but I never understood people who had the opportunity to travel to amazing places and all they got out of it was a nice shopping spree - but i digress. Call me a nerd, but I can’t get enough of different cultures; I thrive off of discovering new places, learning about ancient monuments and meeting people with different backgrounds and experiences. It’s an exhilarating type of rush to be surrounded by the new/mysterious/unknown. Plus, packing my bags and going somewhere in the spur of the moment has been quite high on my bucket list.
Back to our skype session, my friend kept giving me all these amazing reasons to meet up in Mexico (like I needed any convincing), and before I asked what type of festival it was, I found myself hunting for plane tickets. My rule was simple: I’d consider going if I found a cheap flight, and if not, then it wasn’t meant to be. To my surprise, I found a freakishly cheap flight to Cancun that would transit in Toronto. It was out of my way but I had time to spare and the price was too good to pass up, so I booked and started scrambling around to find a swimsuit and flipflops in the middle of a freezing winter in Philly!
I was on my way to the airport less than 48 hours after that skype call and in the blink of an eye, we'd touched down in sunny Cancun, but I still hadn't reached my final destination. From there I had to take a 1-hour bus to playa del Carmen, then head to our hotel where my friend would be waiting for me. I should mention that I barely had any cash on me, with only 1 credit card and a phone that stopped working as soon as I landed. However, I had the hotel address written down and Playa del Carmen is a relatively small coastal resort town so it should've been pretty easy for me to find the hotel - or so I thought.
After what felt like hours of dragging my suitcase around under the scorching sun, I realized I was lost, without a cellphone or any other way of reaching my friend. And even if I did, how would he hear me in the middle of a full-blown music festival?!
Suddenly the reality of the situation started to sink in and I began to panic a bit, but with the help of the lovely locals, I finally found my hotel. Then came my second wave of panic when I couldn't find my friend and was told that the hotel doesn’t have a reservation under my name or his, and when I tried to make one, my only credit card wouldn’t work. At this point, I started devising one backup plan after another, and halfway through my solo brainstorming session, I found the silhouette of my friend casually making his way to the hotel lobby. I’d never been so happy to see a familiar face!
Hyped about our successful reunion, we sorted out our reservations, dropped my bags off and I changed into my summertime party attire. We barely had time to marvel at the awesomeness of my room - set right across from a beautiful swimming pool, I was surrounded by exotic trees and flowers, with a hammock in my little terrace and an outdoor hot tub on the roof. But for the time being, there was a music festival waiting to be experienced so we headed to one of the clubs lining the Carribean shore. Apparently, there was a VIP pass waiting for me and as soon as I set foot in the club, I was overwhelmed with what I saw, heard and felt.
Turns out the festival my friend was talking about was BPM, an annual electronic music festival which stands for “Bartenders, Promoters, Musicians,” and not "Beats Per Minute" which was my first guess. Another pleasant surprise was that my friend knew some of the DJs performing that night, so we met some interesting people and threw back a few local beers over mouthwatering nachos and dips. The festival itself was crazy - the place was packed with colorful decorations and awesome party people. I had no idea I’d fall in love with an entire genre of music, especially electro music.
We spend the next week lounging on the beach, listening to different acts spinning awesome sets, dancing till we dropped, feasting on delicious Mexican cuisine and meeting some amazing people who we've kept in touch until today! My friend and I planned on going to Mexico City once the festival was over, but decided to extend our stay in playa del Carmen to explore the surrounding towns and cities, and I'm glad we did.
One of the most breathtaking places I’ve ever been to in my life was a trip to Tulum which was about half an hour away from where we were staying. We decided to visit the 13th-century Mayan walled city along the coast of the Yucatán Peninsula which was used as a major port at the time. Overlooking the stunning Caribbean Sea, it was one of the last cities that the Mayans built and is the 3rd most visited archeological site in Mexico today. I though the drive there was beautiful but when we arrived, it felt like I was walking into a postcard and had to muster every ounce of self-control to focus on the tour, stay with the group and not dive face-first into the seductive blue waters.
One of the fascinating things we learned was that Tulum is also famous for its cave systems, and has a large number of impressive cenotes which are natural sinkholes that were sometimes used by the Mayans for sacrificial offerings. My only regret is that we didn’t get a chance to visit any of them, but then again, it’s good to leave something for next time. With this much beauty, culture and history, I was blown away by this part of Mexico and I definitely plan on coming back - hopefully sooner rather than later!