By volunteer coach, Jeanne Soulard
On the 15th of September, Mexican people celebrated 209 years of independence. After a month spent in Bacalar, this was without a doubt the most eventful night of my Girls United experience; from singing the national anthem in the lagoon, to dancing salsa at 3am. I remember feeling particularly happy. And I still am happy to live in Bacalar.
So, while trying not to sound like Trip Advisor, here are my Top 10 Reasons to Live in Bacalar.
1. The Lagoon
Ever fancied a morning swim in clear blue water? The water in Bacalar’s lagoon is even better than just “clear blue”. Here we call it la laguna de siete colores (the lagoon of seven colours). It has seven different shades of blue! And as if this wasn’t enough, the lagoon of Bacalar is populated by many beautiful species of fish. Nothing better than waking up for a dip in this unique local treasure.
2. The People
One stereotype that proves true of the Mexican people, especially when it comes to the people living in Bacalar, is how kind and friendly everyone is. Living in a town full of loving and generous people has a great impact on your everyday experience. Sharing a smile with a stranger or exchanging a simple “Hola” can brighten your day in Bacalar.
3. The Food
Not much needs to be said on Mexican food because you probably already know how delicious it tastes. Even though Bacalar is a small town, it has lots of great restaurants. The food tends to be delicious, cheap, and diverse!
My favourite spot: El Mananti on Calle 22
4. The Weather
Facing the Caribbean, Bacalar knows many hot, sunny days - but the lagoon lets to stay cool at all times. If you like the rain as much as I do, don’t worry. The tropical ecosystem in Bacalar brings rain too. Overall, the weather of the Yucatan Peninsula is a perfect balance between the two. It never gets too cold, and when it gets too hot, have a dip in the lagoon!
5. Working with Girls United
Of course, the main reason that brought me to live in Bacalar was the unique opportunity to work for Girls United. I won’t try to convince you to work for Girls United, even though it probably wouldn’t take long. However, it’s worth mentioning the great impact Girls United is having on the local community. Everyone living in Bacalar, and even in nearby towns, seem to know about GU’s mission to give girls an equal opportunity to participate in sport, education and the economy. It makes us feel even more welcome by the locals and makes the experience that much more meaningful and rewarding.
The love for football is palpable worldwide - especially in Mexico. By the lagoon, on the pitch, in the streets… Bacalar seems to be filled with a love for football. There are both men and women’s leagues, girls and boys clubs, as well as kids running after a ball in the streets, which contribute greatly to the local culture in Bacalar. This atmosphere is enjoyable for anyone who plays or likes to watch football. With coaches and volunteers coming from different countries, cultures and languages - football often serves as a universal language and common ground on which we bond.
7. The Freedom
By freedom I mean the ability to walk at night feeling safe; to go for a swim in the lagoon at six in the morning without hearing anything or anyone; to play football with strangers in the streets simply because you share the same passion; to be in some cases out of your comfort zone in a new country. Bacalar allows you to be free.
8. The Unknown Paradise
During the summer, Bacalar attracts tourists visiting the Yucatan Peninsula. However, unlike Cancun or Tulum, it is still hidden away from big hotels and tourist groups. Everyone – including tourists - seem to understand that this little paradise deserves a bit of peace and quiet.
9. Nearby Areas
There are many places to visit in the area. From the cenote (majestic natural sinkholes) to the ancient ruins, the nearby areas are not too crowded and extremely beautiful. I would highly recommend Cenote Azul; with a depth of 90 meters, it is one of the deepest natural sinkholes in the Yucatan Peninsula. The Mayan Ruins of Tulum are also worth visiting and only a two hour drive from Bacalar.
10. The Lagoon… Again
Because you cannot, EVER, get tired of such a beautiful place.