New York Times Frugal Traveler Visits Chabad in Cancun

Cancun, Mexico

March 8, 2008

The Frugal Traveler in Sunday’s Times travel section finds “the unexpected” in Cancun, Mexico, when he spends Friday night with with Chabad of Cancun. Matt Gross writes:

“After a solo late-afternoon walk on Playa Niños, a family-friendly beach just down the road from Villa Playa Blanca, I was at Chabad House — one of thousands worldwide, from Bangkok to the Brazilian rain forest — and totally out of my depth. As bearded men in white shirts and dark pants prayed and swayed, their tzitzit, or tassels, dangling from their waists, I tried (and failed) to follow along in the bilingual siddur, and comforted myself with the idea that my atrocious Hebrew made me seem almost fluent in Spanish by comparison.

When the praying ended, dinner began, and I relaxed. Over baked salmon, challah, hummus, baba ganoush, and a cucumber salad that, I swear, tasted just like my mom’s, I befriended Yardena Landau, a Spirit Airlines employee who’d moved there from Mexico City; we bonded over a love of travel and wariness of zealots. Actually, my wariness of the true believers around me slowly dissipated, and while I wasn’t about to go kosher . . .  I happily raised my cup of Stoli when Mendel Druk, the 26-year-old rabbi, reminded us all, “You can come to Cancún, and you can still pray in a synagogue!”

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