How did you find your exchange?
I contacted a member from the HomeExchange community.
What attracted you to this exchange opportunity?
We wanted to do a 5-week trip around Mexico and wanted to visit the Mayan Riviera for a few days. So I started looking at literally every home exchange in the area. We finally decided to choose this one because of it's location in Playa del Carmen.
Playa del Carmen is one of the tourist centers in the area and it's easy to visit other touristic spots from there.
The apartment also had a great location in the town; just one block away form the beach, right in the city center were all the activities happen. In addition, the apartment had a very beautiful design and looked very comfy and it had a swimming pool on the rooftop with the view of the ocean.
How was your arrival at the home?
We met our hosts when they had come to our home a few months ago. We did a non simultaneous home exchange, so they came to our home in the summer and met them. When we arrived at their apartment, we didn't see them, but they made our stay super easy. They had everything prepared for our arrival, they told us how to get from the Cancun airport to their home, where the local stores for fresh fruits and food were, and how to get around to places we should visit... And they even made themselves available to help with any question we had on our stay.
What did you see or do during your exchange?
It was a short stay for us (compared to what we usually do), but we made the most out of our time. We visited the must-see tourist attractions like Chichen-Itza, the ruins of Tulum and the ones of Coba. We also visited a few of the towns: Tulum, Playa del Carmen, Valladolid...
We also spent time on the beach in Playa del Carmen, and we especially loved a spot called Punta Esmeralda. There, the river makes a natural swimming pool with fresh water next to the ocean, so in addition to being a very beautiful area far from the activities of the town, you can also choose to swim in this natural salt water pool.
We went for a day to explore the incredible paradise that is laguna of Bacalar and it's small town. This laguna has crystal clear super calm turquoise water and it's a very peaceful area.
The most interesting thing we did was visit a few of the Cenotes of the area. We went to one called Suytun, which is a huge underground cave with a stone platform in the middle of the water and a hole in the roof where the sun comes in in the middl of the day, giving the space a magical feeling. We also visited the famous Cenote Azul, which is very big and a good place to spend the day swimming and jumping. And our favorite, Cenote Calavera. This one has several holes on the ground where you can jump to reach the water. The first time you jump from one of the small holes it feels that you are jumping into nothingness, but once you jump the first time you realize how fun it is and want to do it again and again. We spent an afternoon here jumping and swimming in the underground waters. And last, but not least, we watched the show Joya by Cirque du Soleil, which was amazing and jaw dropping.
What is your favorite memory from the exchange?
It's hard to choose just one, but I think it was the day we visited Coba. It was the time we were able to climb the highest mayan pyramid of the area and enjoy the view of the lush green jungle from above.
Coba is a very big mayan city in the middle of the jungle. That's why you won't be able to see the ruins until you are directly in front of them. As soon as we arrived in the ancient city, we rented bikes to make our trip a little easier. As I said, it's not easy to see the ruins until you get to them because of the thick vegetation. That's why, even with the biggest pyramid, we weren't able to see it until we were at its foot. After cycling for a bit around the jungle, the pyramid suddenly appears out of nowhere. We saw that there were many people climbing it, so we parked the bikes and started climbing.
The city of Coba has not been restored and sometimes feels like certain ruins will crumble. This is what it felt like while climbing the steep huge stairs of the pyramid. However, it was actually easier that expected to reach the top and the reward was amazing!
Not only is climbing the pyramid incredible, but cycling around, discovering hidden ruins in areas without any tourists, we felt like we were in a movie. The trees and vegetation were growing from the structure of the ruins and there were not many people. We felt like we were explorers discovering the city for the first time!
How would you describe home exchange to your family and friends?
As the most interesting way to travel. It's a way to feel at home while you are far away from your actual home and discover a different culture from the inside at the same time.