As the plane took off at 8:25 a.m. sharp on a Wednesday morning, my girlfriend and I were thrilled to begin our new adventure traveling together for the very first time. We felt slightly like newlyweds, jetting off together for the unknown.

Last fall, I flew to see my girlfriend, Sarah, in Boston where she lives. By planning ahead, I was able to secure a flight for the meager price of $200, an unlikely scenario for many college students.

This semester, I am in the first-year integrated courses and the week leading to spring break couldn’t have felt any longer – until my girlfriend texted me one night. The text read: “We are going to Cancún. I got a deal.”

And thus, the journey began. Two Asian lovers going to Mexico for the very first time. It was the ultimate nightmare for our tiger parents.

In our minds, Mexico was filled with scorching heat, humid air and hustling vendors, but Cancún really wasn’t like the picture on the postcard. It was an inviting, windy city whose main attraction that drew tourists from around the world was one thing: a gradient Caribbean ocean.

The water was beautiful, clear and close to the horizon, it was a dark mysterious blue that slowly faded into a youthful sky blue that finally hit the shore as a majestic turquoise. The locals were courteous and respectful, although they could be very cheeky from time to time. Upon arriving at our hotel, my girlfriend and I were greeted with a particular salute – “Welcome home.”

We were surprised to see no college students in sight, relieved that our romantic trip would be relaxing after all.

By the end of the night, we reserved a nice steak dinner to celebrate Sarah’s 20th birthday. Our server, Arturo, knew how to get the party going with a complimentary bottle of Moet and surprised Sarah at the end of our dinner with a special warm cake dessert and a heartfelt birthday song sung by the staff.

Cancún was kind to us. Its people, culture and beauty all scream passion.

The next morning, we took a cruise trip to Isla De Mujeres – a gem by the Cancún hotel zone strip. Isla De Mujeres is a vibrant town with people yelling either “Free tequila and A/C” or “Go-Karts,” trying to get passersby to purchase something, anything. The crew blasted 80s music as we lay our heads on the front of our boat, Victoria.

On our way to the island, we stopped by to do some snorkeling and the leading swimmer led us to see the remarkable underwater museum. It was comprised of large, bronze sculptures of human palms forming as a circle, closing on their index and middle fingers.

On one sunny afternoon, my girlfriend opted to play Sudoku in a wood cabana and I laid on our beach recliners, looking at the yellow parasail chute above the colorful beach.

I don’t yet know how to tell my mother I went to Mexico, but if there’s one thing for certain, never in a thousand years did Sarah and I believe that this small city was going to take up such a big piece of our hearts.

When we left, it felt like leaving our own home behind.

lamvg@miamioh.edu

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