by Patti Mangan

Funny how comfortable it is to step back into the rhythm of a place you’ve visited before.

Upon arriving at Club Med Cancun, I was greeted by the same sparking blue sea, soft warm wind, and big bright smiles I remembered from my last trip to this all-inclusive Caribbean resort.

Fellow Diva Sandrine and I hit our room right away, eager to change out of our red-eye togs. Delighted with the gorgeous space and location, Sandrine danced around the room, popping out onto the patio several times to survey the lagoon and leafy palms below.

Looking stylish in our Tango Diva tees, we headed to the pool to meet Melanie, winner of the Club Med–Diva’s Dreams Contest, who was on her last day of her week-long stay at Club Med. She’d told us to look for a tiny blond in a leopard-print suit, and we spotted her immediately.

“Hello!” “Hello!” “Bonjour!” “Bonjour!” And voilà: we knew each other, we liked each other—and the party was on!

We shared a few piña coladas before going to lunch. Melanie talks fast—ideas, references, and one-liners fly by. She’s had a lifetime of family vacations, yet, before winning the Diva’s Dreams Contest, had never traveled alone. While she confessed to having experienced some initial pangs of loneliness when she first arrived, she made friends quickly by taking advantage of the many activities and adventures Club Med has to offer.

After lunch we headed to the water. Sandrine was up for sailing and kayaking, but I lounged by the shore, still recovering from a broken ankle. (Don’t let anything keep you from traveling if you can help it!) A warm, tropical rain fell; when it let up, Melanie, Sandrine and I slipped into the sea, where, relaxed and floating, we shared life stories and laughed.

Melanie told us she loves to travel with her sister. Local garage sales, fairs, out-of-the-way destinations, where laughter is the sole agenda. Together they have woven a bond of experiences so colorful and warm they can wrap themselves up in them for cold winters ahead. Melanie is the self-appointed scribe of these sister adventures, and she is perfect for it. Her sense of humor, which infuses her personality and her writing, is infectious.

Later that evening, we dined at La Palapa, an open-air restaurant situated over the water on a wooden veranda. Future Club Med goers take note: Make a dinner reservation here first thing! The restaurant books up—and if you miss dinner at La Palapa you miss an essential experience of this Club Med location. (“But I can go for a late lunch!” you protest. Yes—but it’s not the same.) Lucky for us, Melanie, in true organized-mom fashion, had made dinner reservations days before we arrived.

I adore La Palapa. And I’m not just raving about the food (which is excellent). The tinkling of silverware, the cool breeze, the sunset, the candlelight, the soft stillness that lingers long after you leave…. The entire experience is magical.

Although Sandrine and I had only just arrived in Cancun, having dinner with Melanie—who was scheduled to depart early the next morning—made us aware of the emphemerality of experience, and conscious of time, quietly slipping by. Over our leisurely dinner, we talked about our past travels, and future trips we hoped to take. We agreed that Tango Diva was a great resource for solo travel—but also a fantastic way to meet new friends.