On to Cancún

I love Cubano sandwiches, which Miami is known for popularizing. In fact I don't think the Cubano exists in Cuba, but was the product of Cuban immigrants settling in South Florida and adapting to the new culture. I don't know that any of that is true but it sounds right.

We had a very successful day of air travel from Montego Bay to Miami to Cancun today. Successful because our flights were on-time and drama free, and because we managed to get into airport lounges before each flight. I've had Priority Pass for years from high-end credit cards, but I've literally only been able to use it once, in Berlin, at a pretty-weak-but-technically-still-a-lounge lounge. The airports I fly through never, ever seem to have any Priority Pass lounges at the terminals I need, which is maddening over the course of 4-5 years. I think I checked once at JFK and the second closest Priority Pass included lounge to me was in Montego Bay.

So I was rather excited when our PP cards actually were worth something today, and the lounge was pretty nice! Free breakfast when backpacking is always welcome, plus generally nicer seats and bathrooms.

In Miami it was Mission: Cubano. We booked a 4 hour layover in Miami instead of two, primarily so that we'd be assured enough time to get through immigration and possibly customs to recheck our bags (they ended up checked through). Secondarily, I wanted the extra time to find the best Cubano the airport had and eat it.

We chose the Cubanos at Cafe Versailles because I think I've heard of it before, and after failing to gain entrance to the Admiral's Club (didn't have the correct American Airlines credit card) we were able to get into the Amex Centurion Club thanks to Melissa's platinum card. These lounges are nice... it got a little ridiculous when we couldn't call home for a bit because we had to finish our Cubanos, free mojito, and get to our complimentary 15-minute massage. We've lived rougher than we're used to for the last 10 days so that big, if temporary, bump in comfort and hospitality was really nice.

BTW the Cubano was fine, I've had better at chains in New York. Is it so hard to avoid dry pork and to use enough mustard? #cubanosnob

After having a rougher than anticipated go of it in Jamaica, we'd been really hoping that Mexico would be easier to adapt to and more enjoyable. On the way out of the Cancun airport we kept saying this is promising but too early to say we like it better than Jamaica. The very nice, air conditioned bus from the airport to downtown Cancun was about $3.50 USD per person but we said let's reserve judgement until we've been here a bit. Clearly marked prices doesn't mean the rest of this trip is going to be a breeze.

We got off at the bus depot and were only hassled once by a cabbie (to take us in the wrong direction for $30?), who backed off immediately after hearing we weren't interested. Still too early to compare to Jamaica, we haven't even seen the hostel yet.

10 minute walk to the hostel, it's not in a jungle, which is promising. Spanish is the dominant language at this one, the first I've experienced that but surely not rare on the Central/South America circuit. We get checked in, and although our room is pretty warm the place has most of the usual amenities. We head out for dinner.

Parque Las Palapas is about 10 minutes walk from where we're staying and known for its events, night time music and street food. After the complete lack of street food in Jamaica (except fruits from the back of a van), and general lack of cheap or varied food there, the Mexican street food scene was our line in the sand. If we can get a good, cheap meal here, things are looking up for the trip going forward.

We can't get ahead of ourselves because this leg of the trip is really just starting, but we think we're going to like Mexico.


  1. I've never had a Cubano but now I wanna try it 😀

    1. It is one of the three most perfect sandwiches in the world, along with the banh mi and muffaletta

    2. I prefer the muffaletta over the other two as well :).