Escape to Mexico, Third Edition


It took me years to convince Karlo to visit Mexico and now that he’s been there, it’s hard to drag him away. If he had it his way he would just stay in the ocean for the rest of his life. I can understand. I’m not at all a water person. In fact, it’s normally near impossible to get me into any body of water. I even complained on some occasions about having to get into the hot tub, but for some reason I love the beaches in the Mexican Riviera. The color is amazing, the sand is heavenly, and the water temps are bearable. Well, almost bearable. I might stay in the water all day too if I could tolerate it. Just the fact that I can get into it means it’s pretty darn warm, but it doesn’t take me long to get cold and have to get out in search of dry land and full sun. We got a kick out of watching our snorkeling footage to see all the huge goosebumps all over my skin. Leave it to me to freeze in Mexico. This just proves that I’m going to freeze anywhere I go so why not go to Maine?

So Karlo had an aversion to visiting Mexico and I had an aversion to beach vacations and yet this is our third consecutive Mexican winter break. We just love it and I can’t even explain it. It’s so not our style nor our speed. The first year we used Jessica as the excuse to do it. We really did it for her because we knew she would love it. Last year we used my neck recovery as an excuse. I needed to just kick back and relax for a week. This year we made a very last minute decision to take this vacation because we knew that this was likely our only shot at taking a real vacation this year. There was some comfort in knowing exactly what we were getting ourselves into and also some comfort in knowing we were taking a relatively inexpensive vacation. It still wasn’t easy to break our “If it’s not for the new house we can’t buy it” rule, but I’m really glad we did.

So now that we made three excuses for taking what we would normally consider a “lame vacation” we have officially decided that we love it and we want to continue the tradition as many years as we can. We even, dare I say, discussed looking at real estate (just for future reference). After all, the grand long-term dream was always to be snow birds. If we could ever escape the cold in our new favorite warm weather place it would be Heaven indeed.

It’s just so amazing how comfortable and content we feel in a place that we never dreamed we would be drawn to. The locals are so incredibly friendly and they are really set up to cater to US tourists. English is widely spoken by everybody and you can even use US dollars just about everywhere. In fact, on our last day we needed more cash and every single ATM machine spit out US dollars exclusively. It was a challenge to find one that dispensed pesos.

Last year we pretty much stayed directly on 5th Ave which is lined with every sort of tourist trap known to man. Restaurants, bars, boutiques, souvenirs, shopping galore . . . along with endless tour companies trying to lure you in. We strolled through just about every shop and ate at a different 5th Avenue restaurant every night. Although the atmosphere was always awesome it wasn’t until this year that we discovered the food was not nearly as good on 5th Ave as it was a block or two away. Not sure if we just got braver because the place was so familiar or we were striving to spend less, but this year we ventured off the famous 5th Ave and discovered a whole new world. The best part of venturing away from 5th Avenue is that you all of a sudden feel like you’re in Mexico as opposed to being on the main drag where it feels like you’re in Epcot center. It was a nice change to be more emerged into the culture. The bonus was that the food was twice as good for half the price.

One of our favorite places that we stumbled across was the Crepa Cabana. What caught our eye was the enormous tubs of Nutella on display all over the cute little hole in the wall. The owner was so awesome. Not only did he ham it up for me when I wanted to video document the making of the crepe, but he also let Karlo do a little faux cooking for the camera.

That crepe had to be the highest fat and calorie content food item I ever saw. It had about 2 bananas, 1/4 cup of cinnamon sugar and a 1/2 gallon of Nutella inside. One bite and I was jittery, but Karlo managed to chow down the entire thing. That was an accomplishment for sure.

Another huge step for us this year was not getting a rental car. We always shy away from public transportation, mostly because we just plain suck at it. I would have hoped that my European husband would know his way around the trains in Europe, but no, we got lost and got on the wrong trains, etc. It’s always very stressful for us. But again, Mexico makes it so easy for the tourists. The public transportation is easy and cheap. We took a shuttle from and to the airport and we even took the public “Collectivos” to travel to our favorite little snorkeling spot in Akumal Bay. The ride was about 25 minutes and it only costs $60 pesos each way for the both of us. That is about 5 US bucks! It couldn’t be easier because the shuttle vans run every 5 minutes (or less) and there’s only one road going up and down the coast. It is impossible to get on the wrong one.

As always Akumal didn’t disappoint and the snorkeling was terrific. The beach is lined with palm trees so you can easily find yourself some shady spots to set up for the day. We were completely comfortable leaving all of our belongings (including my camera, money, credit cards, etc) on our towels as we swam. Last year we rented lockers, but again, this year we were just more comfortable in our surroundings. We saw tons of big sea turtles and even a few sting rays. Another huge leap for me was snorkeling without a life jacket. And I did this more than once. First in Cozumel and then in Akumal. I’m not even sure I recognize myself these days. I’m getting so brave!

In Cozumel we took a guided snorkel trip that required me to jump off the side of the boat. I must say I was not all too pleased with this situation, but I did it. And not only did I do it three times, but later we found a little beach to do some private snorkeling and I got into water that Karlo thought was cold! I guess I figured if I could jump off a boat this wouldn’t be so bad.

Cozumel is my favorite place to snorkel and visit while in Mexico. The water is even more spectacular than on the main land and it’s easy to scoot all around on scooters. The traffic isn’t too bad, the scenery is always awesome, and the weather couldn’t be more perfect. We never experienced any humidity and everywhere you go there are ocean breezes. Oh and I mention that there’s not much air conditioning? Definitely a huge plus.

And speaking of weather, we were there for 8 days and we got 8 perfect carbon copy days of mid 80s sunshine. You just can’t beat it and I don’t even think I even want to bother trying. I’m sold on Mexico and it’s where I hope to spend a lot more time in the future.

Buen día.