I survived eight weeks of spring break in Cancun so you don’t have to
To most, Cancun is synonymous with Spring break. With it’s crystal clear waters, white sand beaches, massive clubs with top DJs every night and cheap plentiful alcohol, the city is almost as young as the thousands of coeds that flock to it each year (it just turned 40) and makes sure to act like it. To me and my coworkers, Cancun is a city we call home, and for our line of work it means Spring Break is eight weeks of drug and alcohol fueled debauchery and picking up the pieces of everyone else with similar mindsets.
Due to it’s proximity to the United States (Miami, another party mecca, is a mere hour’s flight away) Cancun is overflowing with Americans, tourists, and college kids alike for the entirety of the year. This bottlenecks in the months of March and April, when every University in The States has a week off for vacation. While tourism is almost entirely located within the gorgeous oceanside strip known as the resort zone, I work in a party hostel downtown that boasts a communal atmosphere and the ability to go to all the same clubs and events while paying a tenth of the price for accommodation. Unsurprisingly, this creates the perfect storm of extra money to throw around as well as significantly more relaxed policies regarding just about everything. When all was said and done, my coworkers and I got front row seats to the greatest shit show on Earth.
I had been traveling for about a year when I got the idea to come work in Mexico. My bank account was hilariously low, my visa was running out and the approaching winter in Budapest (where I spent the haziest and best month of my life) meant it was time for me to leave Europe. Being able to party and go to the beach as a job seemed like an unreal offer, and after my Skype interview with the owner I was sold. Two weeks later I’d touched down in Cancun.
And so it began.
My coworker had gotten off his motorbike and took his helmet off as he walked past me at reception. I was nursing a hangover and cursing having to do a 7 am shift after getting home a mere two hours earlier, and he didn’t seem to be in a much better state.
“I need 4,000 pesos (about 250$)” he said shaking his head, and I half laughed in response.
“Ah, wonder what he got thrown in for” I answered, the standard response at this point for any time we had to bail a guest out of jail.
“No clue. Got the call on the way over and had to turn back. I was really looking forward to the beach today too, that fucker” He replied, taking the money out of our safe and making sure he had everything else he needed. It would turn out that the guest, a 20something with a bad sunburn and no concept of pacing himself, had passed out in a parking lot and was picked up by the police around 5 am. It always sucked when there wasn’t a good story attached to the tedious process of locating and picking someone up from a holding cell on the outskirts of the city. It was just another day at the office for us.
Our job entails reception and clerical duties as well as “entertainment”, which consists of ushering large packs of guests to the clubs and getting them a great table with bottle service, as every major club in Cancun is fitted with an open bar. While this sounds like an incredible perk, trying for fight amongst a few thousand of your closest friends for the overworked bartender’s attention is best left to the professionals. Due to our close working relationship with the employees at these clubs, we facilitate every ridiculous spring break fantasy you could ever imagine and then do damage control in the morning.
This was what the second week of Spring Break looked like, and it was fresh on the heels of four pass-outs on golf courses and one occurrence of a girl being take out of a club in a wheelchair (I’m sure a partridge in a pear tree was not far behind). Guests would check in and out of the hostel, each brimming with excitement that only grew with every cautionary tale we told them. Naturally, they would take these stories as challenges, and we couldn’t help but encourage the behavior because hey, it makes for great writing!
The following days would include someone breaking their collarbone and waking up in a shopping mall after a pool party, someone throwing up on a stripper and being charged a few hundred dollars for it and someone else waking up in the back seat of a car with no memory of how he got there or who’s car it was. We had people fall off our roof, nearly drown at a foam party and I’m truly shocked I didn’t single handedly take down apple servers with the amount of find-my-iPhone locating I had to do every morning. After a certain point I began to wonder if “expert at dissuading angry policemen in Spanish from arresting guests for pissing in public” can be squeezed onto my resume somewhere.
For all the carnage, the job has a lot of perks. Having access to sold out sets by acts like The Chainsmokers, DJ Chuckie, Tigerlily and NERVO at night and spending our days at all-inclusive beach parties meant there was never a dull moment, as well as running daily beach trips which are ideal of hangover recovery. There was a point at the peak of the madness where we had a personal bathroom stall in one of the major clubs that we could reserve to do lines of cocaine uninterrupted while the bass thumped through the walls. It was like Wolf of Wallstreet met American Pie. There were also stalls for sex and more than one guest had a phone or wallet stolen by a prostitute during a drunken bathroom blowjob (and one time in broad daylight behind the nearby supermarket).
Recounting these stories to friends has lead to a reviews across the spectrum, ranging from “that sounds like a nightmare” to “how can I have your life?” and the truth is I’d happily consider myself somewhere in the middle of that range. For the sake of my liver, the closing of Spring break has been a mixed blessing. The party never fully stops though; after all, this IS Cancun.