As soon as the sun hits my skin I’m a new woman. I left 10 degree weather in Washington D.C. and flew to Cancun, Mexico where the warmth rid me of my dry skin and perpetually bad attitude. I finally got to finish my book I’ve been reading for five months, I swam in the clear ocean, and I got appropriately intoxicated with the 18+ legal drinking age.

Before I left I went to a currency exchange counter at the mall and got $200 USD in Mexican pesos. This got me about $3500 pesos after the exchange rate. I brought $50 USD in case I needed it for some reason. $1 USD = $19.05 Mexican pesos.

I thought I would end up needing to get more pesos by the end of the trip. I did not. My friends and I bought snacks from a local grocery store (so we wouldn’t spend all of our money at restaurants), and a TON of bottled water. We spent most of our time on the beach outside of our hotel so we were not spending money on entertaining ourselves. Until we went clubbing.

I was with two girl friends and one guy friend. Our feminine wiles got us discounts for almost everything in the tourist strip of Cancun, and then we insisted our male tagalong pay the same price. We usually paid a third of what men were asked to pay. Instead paying a $75+ cover charge for clubs, we paid a little over $20 each night.

Everything was worth the haggle. At the flea market, vendors sold the same cheap t-shirts and shot glasses, but they all insisted their goods were of higher quality than everyone else’s. There was one shirt that said “Porn King” with the Burger King logo, and another that said “Buttweiser.” We visited the same vendor a few times. When he was saying goodbye to my friend, he insisted on hugging her. He cupped her butt and squeezed it. We nervously laughed and parted ways.

Tourist traps often sell some divide in femininity and masculinity because of the marketing value of “relatability” and the high concentration of night life. Night life can be dangerous, especially for women. We stuck together as a group and enjoyed ourselves, drinking and dancing until we decided it was time to inhale a burrito and call it a night. I couldn’t help but wonder how different the trip would have been, how much more expensive, and perhaps how much safer, if we were a group of guys instead.