When North Americans think of Mexico, they think of drugs, cartels, murder, and violence. The Mexico that is portrayed in...
When North Americans think of Mexico, they think of drugs, cartels, murder, and violence. The Mexico that is portrayed in the media is seen as underdeveloped, chaotic, and corrupt with many Mexican citizens fleeing to the United States for refuge and a better life. This irresponsible portrayal of this population causes fear and disgust from North Americans who will chant out “Build the Wall” in an event of open racism to support the current president.
As someone who’s been to Mexico and spoken with the locals, I’m here to tell you that this depiction is far from the truth. Although there can be a lot of violence and danger in Mexico, your safety honestly depends on where you go and common sense. I could use this article to debunk all the myths surrounding Mexico and the way it is framed in the media but then I wouldn’t get around to telling you just how amazing Quintana Roo is and why it’s become one of my favorite places in the world.
The Culture
As a Latina (an afro Latina at that) with a Salvadoran mom, the culture I was exposed to growing up is extremely similar to Mexican culture so I may be biased. That said, things are a little different in Quintana Roo considering how many Mayan civilizations are still around and how celebrated the Day of the Dead is. Any market or tourist area you go to will be filled with decorations of colorful skulls covered in flowers, wooden skeleton and devil figures, photographs and paintings of Frida Kahlo, and just so many colors and designs everywhere. If there’s one word I would use to describe Quintana Roo, it’s definitely colorful. In addition to the beautiful art, it’s a well known fact that Latin American music is what it takes to get the party going; from rancheras to cumbias to salsa, to reggaeton, you’ll hear it all in Quintana Roo meaning you’ll definitely want to dance.
The Food
This is pretty self-explanatory but I mean, c’mon! Asides from the fact that most of the food is made fresh and using real, organic products, everything is properly seasoned and filled with taste.
The best part about the food however, is the many, many options of hot sauce available and I’m not talking Frank’s Red Hot sauce. In Quintana Roo, there’s a habanero sauce that’s extremely popular and it’s probably the hottest sauce I’ve ever tried; just a couple drops will drastically change your food eating experience but it’s so worth it! In addition to the great food, the tequila in Quintana Roo is also really good. Asides from the regular tequila they sell, they also carry a lot of tequila that has been imported directly from Jalisco, Mexico meaning it’s the ultimate real deal. In Quintana Roo, you can find so many different tequila flavors including chocolate, coffee, coconut, pistachio, strawberry, guava, and more. The best part is how cheap all of it is!
The Weather and Beaches
Of course since Quintana Roo is a tropical area, you can imagine just how beautiful the weather is. Obviously, it’s important to make sure you’re not going during the rainy season but even if you run into a little bit of rain during your trip, it probably won’t last. One of the best things about tropical climates is that the tropical thunderstorms, although very heavy, only last for a few minutes throughout the day. I’ve been fortunate enough to avoid any crazy thunderstorms on my trips but there were 1 or 2 days towards the end of the trips where it did rain. That said, I still spent the entire morning tanning by the pool or I went out that same night in shorts and sandals. What's also super beautiful are the beaches; you'll definitely find your white sand and turquoise water as well as tons of marine life so you can snorkel! When we were in Cozumel, our guide took us to a private beach and it was literally paradise.
The Activities
In addition to the beautiful, sunny weather, thanks to the tropical-ness of Quintana Roo, there’s also a lot of fauna in this area of Mexico; from palm trees to manglar (which sort of translates to “mangled”), to beaches, to islands, you’ll find some of the most beautiful sceneries in Mexico. Because of that, places such as Xcaret and other local parks exist where you get to see all this beautiful nature up close. With all the excursions available, you also have the option to go zip lining through the jungle, snorkeling in Cozumel, jet skiing at Maroma Beach, diving with sharks at Xcaret, sailing on a catamaran to an island, and more. In fact, when I was on Cozumel Island and our guide took us to the private beach I mentioned earlier, on the way, we stopped by a lagoon with wild crocodiles! It was super cool to see because you definitely don’t come across that often, or ever, in Canada.
The Shopping
What’s amazing about Quintana Roo is the fact that you’ll have regular stores like Forever 21 and H&M but then you’ll also have a bunch of little shops that mainly sell authentic Mexican specialties.

As a Canadian, I normally don’t have access to a lot of the exclusive items stores sell in the US but in Mexico, they have it all! Although I prefer to avoid shopping at stores I already have here, it does feel pretty good buying an outfit that I know most Canadians won’t have. If you haven't yet heard of 5th Avenue in Playa Del Carmen, then you're most definitely missing out because it's one of the biggest shopping strips in the world. Two places I absolutely recommend going to on the strip are Agua Bendita which specializes in beautiful swimsuits that are hand made, and a Mexican restaurant whose... name I forgot but if I remember, I'll update the article! When it comes to shopping at the little shops, this is when speaking Spanish definitely comes in handy because the price on the item is never the final price. Depending on the shop and the salesperson, you can usually knock down the price of an item by 60-80% but heads up, Americans and gringos won’t always be so lucky!

The People
Perhaps my favorite part of Quintana Roo is the people. The Mexicans I have met have always been so gracious, humble, and hospitable. They’re always very kind and helpful and as I mentioned earlier, if you speak Spanish, you’re gold! Many of them are just truly so proud of their heritage and they’re not afraid to show it; honestly, the overall experience is so different than American culture. In America, it feels like everyone is always in a rush, people are cold and caught up in superficialities but in Quintana Roo, it’s different - Quintana Roo feels like the nicer, more tropical home away from home.

With that being said, if you’re looking for an amazing vacation place where you can get both a relaxed, beachside experience and an extreme, sporty experience, then Quintana Rooa is for you. Whether you prefer the party life style of Cancun, the boujee lifestyle of Playa del Carmen, the historical lifestyle of Tulum, or the island feels from Cozumel and Isla de Mujeres, you’ve pretty much got it all in Quintana Roo.

Fatima Alvarenga

is a 20-something year old mogul in the making. An avid fan of all things pop culture from the Kardashians to Cardi B, she hopes to also have an influential impact on culture one day. She's a big fan of going to the movies alone, reading apocalyptic type books, and building her baby fish, Harry's, aquarium. When she's not taking photos forthe gram, she's constantly retweeting memes on herTwitter.