Saturday, March 24, 2018

Mexico: The overview

Our Mexican adventure began early Sunday morning. We had to be ready for our driver a 3 am, as the airport is about an hour away, and we had a 6 am flight.

Everything there went as smoothly as could be expected. Since it was early, we breezed through security, and had no flight delays. I'm not a fan of the airline they booked us on (Air Canada Rouge), but it was a free trip, so beggars can't be choosers, but it was cramped and uncomfortable. I'm far from an experienced flyer, but I much prefer Porter so far. Still, other than comfort, there were no issues, and within four hours, we were in Cancun where it was beautiful and balmy, if a touch on the humid side.

From there is was another hour-and-a-half shuttle bus ride to our resort. We were staying at Unico 20°87°, and again, my experience is limited, but this resort is BEAUTIFUL.
It's a large U-shape resort, with a large multi-pool/lagoon area in the middle, and the beach just beyond.

I usually don't care much about hotel rooms, being more interested in what's outside them, but again - it was beautiful. It had the most comfortable huge king-sized bed I've ever slept in (Dave wants us to get one now, though there's no way we'd get a King mattress up our stairs), a ginormous shower with rain-shower head... and a beautiful terrace overlooking the lagoon (from where the above picture was taken).

The resort has four restaurants, a cafe, a bar, a spa, a gym, as well as a mini-shopping mall. We had no interest in the spa or gym, and while we did try a couple of the restaurants, we spoiled ourselves and opted for room service most of the time.
With the exception of the lunch buffet at the one restaurant, the food was phenomenal. Dave was disappointed in the coffee (far too strong for his taste, and for some reason it was hard to get cream for it sometimes), but otherwise, we were very well fed.

The very first thing on my agenda was checking out the ocean. I'd never seen the ocean, so I think I was a little over-excited about it. I had visions of swimming with sea creatures, watching crabs, and hunting for shells.... and apparently... it's just not that kind of ocean...
Don't get me wrong, it was beautiful in its own way... but it was a little bit of a let down. For those that don't know, we were on the Caribbean Sea. It was very windy,  with a red flag that meant no swimming... especially for poor swimmers like me. And all that wind meant big waves and cloudy waters - no clear blue seas for me.

The whole coast is also apparently having an issue with sargassum sea weed - it's just blowing into the beach like crazy. They clean it up as much as they can, but with every wave bringing it in, there's only so much you can do. It was a little smelly (but not terrible) but it definitely would have made for an unpleasant swim.

The beach, while at first glance, is beautiful white sand, it hides some  hidden dangers...
There are tonnes of these large coral rocks lurking about. And with the cloudy water, even wading was a little hazardous - I lost my footing a couple of times. The beach at the resort beside us had a much nicer bottom, though it was still too windy and sea-weedy to enjoy - though I did have a good walk up and down the length of it.

The other disappointment was the treasures... I was hoping to find scads of sea shells and sharks teeth and all manner of ocean jewels. But these beaches were raked to within an inch of their life, and most of what I found coming up in the waves were just broken bits.
I did manage to find a a few things... some small shells and a few bits of interesting coral.

Of course, after my beach walks I ended up a little on the burnt side (despite the liberal application of SPF 60 sunscreen... thank you fair British heritage), so I spent a good chunk of the remaining sun-filled day on that beautiful terrace in the shade.
I made good progress on f Dave's sock on the flight down, and a bit more enjoying the breeze on the terrace.  I didn't knit on the flight back because these seats were too cramped.  Going down, Dave and I were in the middle aisle of three seats, with an empty seat beside us, so I was able to move to the outside seat, leaving an empty one between us for more room. On the flight back, we didn't have that luxury. Dave was already uncomfortable, so I didn't want to add the frustration of moving elbows into the mix.

I did get a window seat at least,

Though it was over the wing. But, I did get to watch some amazing cloud formations go by.

We returned home on Wednesday to a still-frozen world, though thankfully no snow (unlike our poor east coast friends). It was a fun trip, but I was happy to be home.

And lastly, a word about Mexico and safety:

Before I went, whenever I mentioned I was heading to Mexico, there was a 50/50 chance someone would bring up the reports of recent violence and mention how it wasn't safe.

Now I won't disagree - our shuttle drove past some pretty impoverished, desperate-looking places; and when the police are carrying around large, scary looking rifles, it might make you feel a bit edgy. The traffic is definitely in a class of its own, so  I don't know if I'd be comfortable renting a car and driving myself, but we were in good hands with our experienced shuttle driver.

We didn't end up leaving the resort (more on that tomorrow), but the entire area caters to tourists, so if you use reasonable, sensible precautions when traveling, I don't think there's much of an issue. Of all the clips I've seen on the news, the majority have done things tourists are warned against doing (and are a bit over-blown by the media). Tourists are vulnerable, and no matter where you go in the world, there are people looking to to take advantage of those vulnerabilities - a little common sense and you can mitigate that risk.

As for the Mexican people... they are the most hospitable, welcoming people I have ever met. From our shuttle driver, to our hotel guides, to our waitresses, to even the people just maintaining the grounds were wonderful and friendly. The tourists are their business, and they go out our their way to make them happy and keep them safe.

I'm sure there are some areas of Mexico you may want to avoid... but Riviera Maya shouldn't be one of them!


Araignee said...

It looks like a fabulous place!!! You got some real treasures from the beach. Those are quite the finds.

Witchknit said...

Lovely pics of Mexico and the furbabies. Mostly, I wanted to comment about going to Mexico as my husband and I went last December. I couldn't agree with you more; every family member warned us about going; we'd be ransomed, tortured, killed etc. We did go as part of an archeology tour (so we weren't lone tourists) but everyone we met including shop keepers, taxi drivers and the like were warm, helpful caring people who were trying to make a living. Go with care and an open mind (anywhere) and enjoy new experiences.

Tired Teacher said...

Aaah, warmth, a view of the ocean, and an a shady spot to knit - divine!

The last time I flew (8years ago) I found the plane uncomfortable and cramped for the six-hour flight. Stuffing the tin can leads to grumpy passengers but more profits.

chrisknits said...

Glad you enjoyed your trip. The beaches on the Atlantic along Florida's coast are some of the best beaches. You find treasures galore. But sea creatures tend to not be so close to shore. However you can often spot dolphins swimming out away from shore. Taking excursions in the Caribbean to the reefs gives you more sea creature experiences.

Anonymous said...

Glad you had such a wonderful time.

kathy b said...

I am so happy for the post and the encouraging words. I am so glad you got away to warmer temps and lovely views. The Ocean is so powerful isn't it? room service is such a treat! Thank you for a great post and trip review

Delighted Hands said...

What a beautiful review for a beautiful place.
Sounds like you are a smart tourist-what a great getaway!