After terror, Cancun spring break still booms
While fears of terrorism and a troubled economy have kept many U.S. college
students from flying down to Mexico, there are still more than enough revelers to
sustain the mind-blowing ritual of sex, sun and shots.
The first wave of spring-breakers arrived last week to inaugurate the season.
Although hotel occupancy was down between 35 and 50 percent from the same
week last year, the partying was no less serious.
"Oh my God! You pound beer all day, every day. You go to the club and dance.
You have a different girl in your bed every night," said Jason Riebe, a 21-year-old
junior from John Carroll University in Cleveland.
"This is its own planet. Planet Cancun."
Few of the revelers said the September 11 terrorist attacks dampened their
to party. Most said if anything, they increased their desire to live every day like it
was their last, and some even described their excesses as a patriotic duty.
"It's good to see people are still proud to come out and do spring break,"
Lukens, a 22-year-old senior at DeSales University in Center Valley, Pennsylvania.
"I heard it's the craziest place on earth. And it is without a doubt."
With the help of MTV VJs and E! Entertainment Television specials, Cancun
become king of spring break, and the only limit on its growth is a shortage of hotel
rooms. In numbers it ranks behind domestic getaways like South Padre Island,
Texas, and Panama City, Florida, but only because it's more expensive to get to.
"Over the last six or seven years, Cancun has become IT," said Kirk Riley,
president of hotspringbreaks.com, which offers charter packages to all major
spring break party spots. "Cancun is the foreign destination of choice, 10 to 1."
Last year an estimated 80,000 college students descended on Cancun in March.
This year's draw will be smaller, about 50,000, according to tourism operators and
"We were down at first around 70 percent, as was all the U.S. travel industry,
we gradually started getting back up," Riley said. "Now, we're all about 35 percent
Cancun residents notice the difference, saying the traffic is lighter and
emptier than in previous years.
"I think they're afraid to leave their country, and I don't see them spending
money," said Ricardo Rivas, a waiter at the Coco Bongo disco.
But in the disco's writhing dance pit, Shawna Plunkett disagreed. The 21-year-old
junior at Michigan State University said the turnout was just fine, thank you.
"Every club we've been to has been packed," she said. "People aren't going
going on spring break."
Certainly, Cancun remains a wild place. Young Americans fill dozens of
night to drink, dance and watch a variety of contests, almost all of which involve
women getting naked.
"Three words: debauchery, drunkenness and nakedness," said Michael Vaul,
23-year-old from Fort Collins, Colorado, who doesn't go to coll ege but thought he
deserved a spring break from his job at a local Kinko's.
The drinking age is 18, and is hardly enforced. Most clubs offer open bars
cover charge. For college kids who can't legally drink in the United States, the
attraction is obvious.
"You wake up at noon. You grab a couple of 40-ouncers and drink nonstop
Coronas on the beach," Reibe said. "Last night we had our last Corona at 7:45 a.m."
Grinding near him to techno music at the Dady'O disco was Brooke Linkous,
19-year-old sophomore at Virginia Tech.
"I've been wasted for about 16 hours now," she said. "I heard it was crazy
wild. It's all I expected and more. It's definitely the place to be if you like to party."
With all that alcohol, normally reserved college students leave all inhibitions
door. The mostly teen-age students jump atop bars to show their breasts to hooting
crowds, compete for prizes by showing their creativity in inventing sexual positions
and slide into strangers' beds.
"I've been to Panama City. Panama City's pretty crazy, but this place is
said Daniel Kincheloe, a 23-year-old law student at the College of William and Mary
in Williamsburg, Virginia.
"We stick to one or two meals a day and get most of our calories from beer,"
Considering the nutritional implications of that diet, he quickly added:
taking vitamins and stuff."
Copyright 2002 The Associated Press.