Singled Out in Playa Mujeres
Dani and I have just checked into our resort in Mexico — a place advertised as “an oasis where everything is taken care of.” It sounds perfect. But, the vibe already feels…off. As we trail the bellhop carrying our bags, we observe other guests: pairs dressed in matching linen outfits, canoodling under the flickering shade of palm trees. Opening the door to our suite, we’re greeted by the sight of a massive king-sized bed, artfully strewn with rose petals. Chocolates, along with a couple’s massage coupon, are on the nightstand.
It’s then that we realize our mistake: we’ve accidentally booked accommodations at a couples’ resort. If Dani and I were romantically involved, this would be ideal. But, both of us are single, straight women. Women who want a Burt Lancaster lookalike to make out with in the surf, a la From Here to Eternity.
It’s then that we realize our mistake: we’ve accidentally booked accommodations at a couples’ resort.
Once the shock wears off, we decide to make the best of it. As Dani freshens up, I call the front desk to request a different room.
“Can we switch to a suite with two beds?”
Dani steps into the shower and turns on the light. The light illuminates a hidden wall panel, giving me a clear view of her bathing.
“And more, uh, privacy?”
We go ahead and use the massage coupon. (A deal is a deal.) Before the massage, we are guided through a series of hydrotherapy stations. We simmer in a sauna with chipper newlyweds from Tusla and stoically sit under high-powered water jets with two leathery wives from Boston. After the massage is over, we are brought to a beige lounge filled with couples holding hands over chunky knit blankets carefully tucked around their middles. There’s a ‘Feelings Chalkboard’ where you are invited to reflect on the experience and record your thoughts. Next to “Found my forever!” and “Bae, you’re amazing!” I carefully write: “Love you, Mexico!”
There’s a ‘Feelings Chalkboard’ where you are invited to reflect on the experience and record your thoughts. Next to “Found my forever!” and “Bae, you’re amazing!” I carefully write: “Love you, Mexico!”
Later, we are escorted to our new room. Instead of two separate beds, we now have an even bigger bed, strewn with even more rose petals and chocolates.
“Señor! Why is there still one bed?”
“We pushed them together. Did you want it different?”
The next night, we hit up the resort’s live entertainment. The show features a warbling, Elvis-esque man with paste-on sideburns and shirtless backup dancers wearing bedazzled vests. Spurred on by Elvis to participate, we all rise to our feet.
“Yes! Grab your lover! Hold them close!”
Dani and I slowly sink down. I knock back the rest of my drink.
As if the ambience wasn’t enough, we’re routinely asked at meals and outings what we are celebrating.
“An anniversary? A wedding?”
My creative answer is:
The more the question is posed, the less perky I become. By the fortieth time, I don’t say anything and opt to just stare at the person in stony silence. The silence forces them to frantically guess other reasons, the best of which comes from Julio, our tour guide:
“Oh! I know why! One of you had a sex change!”
Part of me refuses to believe we’re truly the only single people on the resort. So, whenever we hang out in a new area, I do a quick scan for people who appear unattached. Today’s contender is a guy with beautiful eyebrows swiping into a room. The brows are bushy yet meticulously groomed, similar to a supermodel’s. “Hola, chicas!” he says.
We talk about the sighting over fish tacos and ceviche. What was the color of his polo, again? A white polo means he works for the resort. He was holding towels. Were they his towels? We slowly sip each detail. He’s a tall drink of filtered water in a dry, monogamous land.
We slowly sip each detail. He’s a tall drink of filtered water in a dry, monogamous land.
Occasionally, we’re reminded that being in love isn’t always paradise, even when you happen to be in paradise. While reading on our suite’s balcony one morning, I hear a retching noise coming from below. I peer over the side and see a drunk man in a terrycloth bathrobe barfing into the Lazy River Pool. Chunks float downstream and are broken apart by abandoned floaties. His exasperated girlfriend stands over him, rubbing his back with one hand and holding her nose with the other.
On our last day, we book an excursion to Isla Mujeres: The Island of Women. Out of all the options listed in the concierge’s glossy binder, this one seems the most apropos. On the catamaran ride there, we are told Isla Mujeres housed the temple of Ixchel, the Mayan goddess of fertility. The island’s population entirely consisted of her priestesses and female followers until it was discovered in 1517.
When we arrive onshore, we rent a golf cart: our transportation around the island. I get in the driver’s seat and lurch onto the main road. The cart doesn’t have brake lights and when I slow down for a speed bump, a taxi almost rear ends us. Dani can see I’m shaking. “Hey, why don’t you let me take a turn driving?” she offers, squeezing my arm. I scoot over and she grabs the wheel.
We may be two single ladies who accidentally took a couple’s vacation, but neither of us will ever be lacking in love, as long as we have each other.