Ever since we returned, I have had a lot of conversations about our trip to Mexico this past summer. Most of them have a common theme: Did you feel safe? Did you get intimidated by roadblocks?
Those are great questions, and I always tell people that we were just fine and never feared for much. After those conversations… I show them a picture of Chitzen Itza and how we had no crowds. A picture of a vacant Mayan ruin at the peak of the season is a jaw-dropper to folks who have been there.
This is one of the pictures I frequently show, as it was the view we witnessed on our first morning in Mexico. We parked at the front of the parking area at Chitzen Itza… Purchased a ticket and walked into the World Heritage site that normally clocks 2 million visitors per year. A quick google search says that number dropped to 800,000 in 2020 and a report filed in September of 2021 said that only 135,000 people visited up to that date.
That’s a crazy drop and that is certainly a product of COVID19 and a lack of cruise ship customers. In hindsight, we were fortunate that the park was even open. Later, during this trip we were not allowed into Uxmal because of a COVID outbreak that had infected the staff of the park.
The picture above gets you a rough headcount… 25 people were in my panoramic picture taken when we walked into the gates.
This was not the only place where we noticed a lack of crowds.
On our way back across the Yucatan, we made a stop at Suytun Cenote. Suytun is a world-famous cave that has a small hole in the ceiling allowing a beam of light to shine down into the cave water below. It’s Iconic and completely “gram-worthy”
This picture below is from TravelTOMTOM and its a good idea of what normal traffic would be during a normal traffic year.
Below, this was our crowd.
It’s great enough to not have to worry about crowds in the places you are trying to visit. But the biggest advantage to the trip was time. We did not wait in a queue at all. It’s like being the first people in the park at Six Flags. You walk right up the ride and save an hour of wait time.
If we would have had to have waited in line on a normal year, this stop would have chewed up hours. Instead, we were changed into swim clothes, rented life jackets, played in the water, showered and back on the road in about 90 minutes. (Your admission gives you a 45-minute visit in the pool.)
This story played out all over the trip. Every site we went to was sparse on tourists and we did not have a full grip of that until I got home and talked to friends and costumes who have been to Mexico.
Traveling during COVID was a gamble. We were all vaccinated in order to fly to Mexico. We had a big risk of getting stuck outside of the United States if one of us were found to have COVID. We could potentially be locked in Mexico for 14 days! We didn’t have rooms reserved for those 14 days!
We did notice that restaurants and some shopping areas were closed during the trip, but those did not detract from our mission of exploring the Yucatan. If anything, it made it more enjoyable.
If you have a bit of a risk-taking streak and don’t think you would get fired or released if you come back late from a vacation after contracting COVID… I cannot stress enough that you will have an amazing time traveling right now.