In 2010 we traveled to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and visited a lot of Mayan ruins. One of the most impressive sites we visited was the “El Castillo” pyramid at Chichen Itza. It is an amazing piece of architecture and we can’t wait to see the other great wonders of the world.
Two years ago we visited one of the most amazing places ever; Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Mexico is rich with pre-Columbian history and we were excited to see the Mayan ruins and to enjoy the turquoise waters of the Caribbean. But we were completely wowed by the Mayan structures and would love to go back someday and see more of them. That is, if we survice 2012…
This year, December 21 to be exact, is the end of the Mayan calendar and the end of everything as we know it. Yup, we are all gonna die! So, if you can’t make it to Mexico before the end of the world, at least you can enjoy some of our photos. Enjoy…
Mexico is a great getaway for anyone looking for sun. In 2006 when our daughter, Sydney, had just turned two years old we purchased tickets for a southbound plane to Cabo San Lucas in search of this mysterious thing they call sun. Living in the Pacific Northwest means we only get to see sunshine for two months a year, so we actually need to fly to other places to get our recommended dosage of vitamin D (I wonder if that is a medical write off). With our luggage full of warm weather clothing, sunscreen, and diapers we boarded a plane at PDX and soon discovered the other reason people go to Cabo; drunken debauchery. And drunks don’t like two year olds! Let’s just say we had the only child on the plane and leave it at that.
Upon landing at Los Cabos International we pushed the customs button and got the green light. If you have been to Mexico, you will know what I am talking about. But for those who have not had the pleasure, luggage and body searches are carried out through a lottery. You push a button and you will get a “random” green or red light. Green light means you go through unmolested. A red light and you have fulfilled the recommended prostate exam for the year.
Once outside the airport we found the shuttle buses and took one to Thrifty to pick up our car rental. We loaded up our sexy Nissan Tsuru with luggage, car seat, toys, sippy cups, snack food, and a stroller (traveling with kids is fun, really!) and headed off to enjoy our holiday in the sun.
A few days later we turned on the TV in our hotel room to see what was happening in the rest of the world. Just the usual wars, politics, celebrities and Hurricane Paul, which happened to be on a direct path towards Cabo San Lucas. Being October, we had never really considered the risk of Hurricanes, but we happened to pick one of the most active years for Pacific hurricanes.
After watching the destruction of Hurricane Katrina the previous year, let’s just say we were a bit freaked out. I ran down to the hotel lobby and asked the hotel staff what they knew about the approaching hurricane. Their response, “Oh yeah, it’s supposed to rain on Wednesday.” Rain? A category 2 hurricane is fast approaching and they call it rain? I was a bit shocked at their response. Shouldn’t they be freaking out like we do in the United States? The news channels never show calm people during a hurricane. We are supposed to panic! With not getting the proper response from the hotel staff, I proceeded to the hotel’s business center where I knew I could find the information I was after; online news. The online news sources showed the path of Hurricane Paul and said that all of the tourists were panicking and heading to the airport to take any flight they could find to get out of the area. Now that’s the news I was used to seeing. The end is near!
Knowing full well that we were not going to be able to get a flight out of the area, we did what most Americans do in time of crisis. We went shopping! With enough “stuff” you can survive anything. With our hotel room packed full of bottled water, beer, food, and pool noodles we prepared for the worst; and found calm. Sitting out on our balcony overlooking the marina we found the approaching hurricane beautiful. The setting sun was lighting up the hurricane’s outer bands and creating stunning colors and patterns. Tomorrow we would find ourselves in the center of the storm and the future was unknown. So we enjoyed the moment, and forgot our worries.
We awoke the next morning to find that the locals were correct. It was raining. Overnight, Hurricane Paul weakened to a tropical storm and passed through the area as rain and rough surf, which actually killed two tourists who were walking on the beach. While the situation could have been much worse, panicking solves nothing. Our first reaction was to panic, as the news media has trained us to do. But panicking will not help you during a crisis. The best solution: Plan for the worst, hope for the best, and never panic.
In 1999 Kerri and I stopped at a small non-touristy village north of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. We were looking for lunch and noticed a restaurant with a lot of tables and chairs on the beach with a great view of the bay. So, we grabbed a table away from the other diners to enjoy a good Mexican lunch and the great view. We were expecting the waiter that had been serving the other diners to come to our table with menus, but were surprised when the waiter appeared from a small cinderblock building behind us to give us menus. It was then that we realized that it was actually two restaurants on the beach, and we happened to sit at the other one; the one with no people. The rule of thumb when looking for good (and safe) food is to go to a place where the people are. This is especially true in foreign countries. We considered moving to the other restaurant, but did not want to be rude since we had already sat at a table and had menus, so we stayed put.
Being a coastal town the menu had mostly seafood, and fresh seafood sounded like a safe option for lunch. So we ordered the seafood platter to share and sat back with our drinks enjoying the warm Mexican weather.
When the waiter brought out the platter we were shocked. It was the size of the table and smelled amazing. We consumed the lobster, shrimp, and assorted fish and could not believe our luck for finding all of this amazing seafood at such a great price. After we paid the bill and thanked the waiter for a great lunch we started heading back to our jeep, but first made a pit stop at the bathroom which was part of the cinderblock building. Once in the bathroom I noticed that there was no electricity or running water, which sent alarm bells off in my head. I am sure there are plenty of great restaurants around the world with no electricity or running water, but somehow I equate those things with safe food. When we travel around the world I will need to change that view, but for now the lack of those things always worry me.
A few hours later when we were back at our hotel the realization that we should have listened to our inner warnings struck. And anyone that has eaten tainted food knows exactly what that entails. So with bouts of vomiting and diarrhea Kerri and I had a rough night and learned a valuable lesson. Always question the cleanliness of your food and only eat where other people are eating.
With our upcoming trip to travel round the world approaching, we have given serious thought on how to stay safe when eating food while traveling. We have received our hepatitis and typhoid vaccines and never travel without plenty of hand sanitizer and Immodium. But even trying to take every precaution, travelers always seem to suffer one way or another. But that’s just part of the traveling experience, right? A new place has new germs and what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. But I would like to hear from the other travelers out there about what your tricks are to staying healthy and avoiding tainted food while traveling. So, if anyone has any advice to offer, we would love to hear it.
I originally submitted this to Budget Travel magazine for their True Stories section, but they never published it. One of the great things about having your own website is that you can publish whatever you want without having it approved by the editor. So, here it is…
Last year when we took a family vacation to Mexico, we got an unexpected surprise. After spending 7-nights at a nice resort hotel we were surprised to find a piece of luggage missing from our room. On the day we checked in, we unpacked our bags and placed them in the closet. But on our last day there, we found them all except for our daughters Dora the Explorer rolling backpack, a bag that had traveled with us on all our trips. We searched the room and did not find anything else missing, just our daughter’s bag. We called the front desk and they sent security to our room. They searched the room thoroughly, but could not find it. They asked if we wanted to speak to the Mexican police and fill out a police report, but we declined. The bag wasn’t worth more than twenty dollars. We filled out the hotels paperwork describing our bag and giving the details of where we last saw it, and then checked out. We were completely surprised that somebody came into our room and stole our daughter’s bag, but left our much more expensive bags.
After we returned home, we opened the door to our house and noticed that in the corner of our living room was the Dora the Explorer bag. It all came back to me. The night before we left I was concerned about space, so I switched our daughter’s bag out for a bigger one.