Beyond Tacos and Tequila How to Make the Most of Mexico

How to avoid disaster when visiting our neighbor to the south.

People respond to bad news.  The news media has known this for years.  “If it  bleeds, it leads.”  We want to hear terrible things, things that happen to other people.  Customers write horrible reviews because they are often embolden to write a review when they feel ripped off, slighted, or are generally pissed off.  I know this from personal experience.  Last year we visited Puerto Penasco (Rocky Point) with a large group of friends.  Our trip was spoiled by a very unresponsive resort and some unpleasant experiences. We left with a bitter sense of dissatisfaction.  We complained to management but were not satisfied.  I’m never reluctant to point out to a business when something is wrong, but since we were not listened to  I went home and wrote a scathing review of this very “upscale” resort.  I included a litany of issues we encountered and warned everyone to stay away.  That review has over six thousand readers!  My blogs, which I attempt to carefully craft to be relevant, honest and engaging have a grand total of twenty five subscribers!  What the hell am I doing wrong?

Now I will tell you all how to avoid disaster in Mexico.  I have experienced some disasters in Mexico so I can share what I’ve learned.

 

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Low tide on Sandy Beach
Rules to not ruin your trip to Rocky Point Mexico

  1.  Travel with people you enjoy spending time with.  It is amazing how many people go on trips with relative strangers and end up ruining a budding friendship.  On our most recent trip we traveled with one other couple we have traveled with before.
  2. Have a shared goal for your vacation.  Relaxation? Sure.  Beach  time?  Absolutely.  Sampling local cuisine? Yes.  End up in a Mexican jail?  No thank you.
  3. Remember you are a guest in the country DON’T BREAK THE LAW!
  4. Set realistic expectations.  In Rocky Point you are likely to have great fresh fish, tacos and other local specialities but not likely to find many fine dining places. Accept it and move on.
  5. The most important rule is to go with the flow.
  6. Do your research on your accommodations.

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Sierra Bonita Resort Swim up Bar
Rocky Point Mexico is a four and a half hour drive from Phoenix Arizona.  Locals in Arizona refer to the boarder town as our own beachside community.  Not too many years ago Rocky Point was a place to camp on the beach and enjoy a quiet, fishing community with spectacular beaches and cheap food.

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Enjoying a walk on the beach
Today it is dotted with many condo communities and hotels filled with Americans enjoying the natural beauty of the town.  The town has grown and although there is little camping on the beach there is still a wide variety of accommodations to suit every taste and budget.

We spent three days in a condo community known as Sierra Bonita “Pretty Mountain”.  We rented through VRBO a beautifully appointed two bedroom condo with beach and pool views.  The community included, palapas, sandy beaches, swim up bars and an onsite restaurant.  To put it simply, we loved the place!  Decorator touches, a large patio, entertainment, and good proximity to many restaurants and bars.  Don’t forget to try the street food and drinks too!

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Pina Coladas in town
The town of Rocky Point is filled with bars, taco stands and many shops selling cheap tours items like t-shirts, cowboy hats and blankets.  Haggling for prices is encouraged in the shops.  The shrimp is inexpensive and plentiful.  Be sure to pack the cooler with some to bring home and marvel at the price you get the giant shrimps for.

There are so many activities to take part in Rocky Point Mexico.  Rent a horse or an ATV.  Swim on the beach and walk for miles in the sand.  Get up at sunrise or enjoy the sunset.  Eat like a local.  Go to the chicken taco stand and get chicken, go to the carne asada stand and get steak.  But most of all enjoy what Mexico has to offer and appreciate the beauty of our neighbor to the south.

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Cruise Comments

We have enjoyed a number of cruises and decided to end our trip with a twelve day British Isles cruise on Princess.  I think that a cruise vacation is perfect for fun family trips, and it is a great opportunity for diverse friends to enjoy different aspects of their cruise at the same time. We have met some great people on cruises as well. Sharing a meal with others is just a nice way to get to know others.
All large cruise lines seem to offer similar things on their boats. Entertainment in the form of live music, shows, food, art auctions, the sale of jewelry, gambling and some form of passenger competition, whether it be singing, egg drop contests or dance contests and more food and drink.

 

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Tasty desserts on the ship

The great thing about a cruise is that there are very different levels of fitness onboard. I see the passengers hitting the gym each morning or running up on deck as well as those who are unable to walk but can participate in a lot of activities. For me it is a reminder that as long as my body will allow me, it is my obligation to stay fit.  But I did not go to the gym, just the stairs and lots of walking in the ports.

When we’re on a cruise we generally eat too much but do try to walk and climb stairs all the time. The fact of the matter is we probably eat more than we exercise, but we try to comfort ourselves in the knowledge that the cruise will not last too long.

Last year Greg promised me that we would take dance lessons. I was just in awe of passengers with the rhythm and grace to dance every dance. Well the fact of the matter is that we are both without rhythm or grace. I am quite sure if I did get Greg to a dance studio we would have been asked to leave. As a child my mom signed me up for dance lessons with my sister. I had the bag, the outfit, the ballet, tap and jazz shoes. After one lesson, the girl next to me recognized what a klutz I was and told me I was doing everything wrong. I quit dance, refusing to ever go back.  Even now I fail to hear a beat, have no rhythm and am as clumsy as a bear. Greg is not far behind me. We continue to watch the dancers on the boat and know that that will never be us.

We enjoyed all of the ports we visited.  Overall the weather was pretty good, cloudy and only a little rain.  We loved all of the musicians in the ports, except for maybe the bagpipers.  Not a big fan.

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I’m not a fan of the bagpipe

I’m sure he’s a nice guy I’m just not a fan of his music
At night it is difficult not to notice the old lady hecklers who delight in giving the singers a difficult time. They keep yelling a request for the same song over and over again. It is with great aplomb that the performers handle such pains.

At breakfast on one of our last days we sat with two other couples. One gentleman was originally from the UK, he and his wife had traveled to over one hundred countries, mostly on their own and not with tours. It would have been easy to admire him except for the fact that when he ordered a five course breakfast and  the pepper was not delivered at the same time as the Tabasco for his tomato juice he yelled at the waitress for not bringing everything in a specific order.

Cruise Dos and Don’t

1.  Don’t take the elevator, if you can walk, take the stairs

Take the stairs

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Lots of stairs at Giant’s Causeway

2.  Do research and plan your own excursions to give your trip a personal touch.

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Clock at Glasgow train station

3.  Do check out the entertainment, it is often really good.

4.  Do go off the beaten track, see things that all of the tours don’t go to.

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Coastline in Northern Ireland

5.  Don’t miss the iconic places too, there is a reason they are so popular.

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A cloudy day, but not raining yet

 

6.  Shop for cruise prices.  I often get an inside stateroom, and if that means I go on more cruises then that’s fine with me.

7.  Make the cruise your own.  Do what you want on the cruise.

9.  Do enjoy the food, but remember you can’t eat like that forever.

10.  Don’t be a bully to the waitstaff, it’s amazing how much people appreciate the “magic words” I taught my students of     “please” and “thank you.”

11.  If you decide to sing karoke after a few drinks, pick a song that everyone knows and can join in with, so no one notices your bad voice.

12.  There is limited wifi onboard so unplug and enjoy the time without having the distraction of email, Facebook etc.

13.  Kismet- Destiny, fate, luck, chance.  Leave room in your life for it.  We asked the driver who picked us up as the airport if      we could possibly visit Stonehenge.  The answer was “yes” (for a fee) we were delighted to get to see this iconic sight.

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Stonehenge, before the crowds

14.  Listen to the people you meet, ask questions, we learned so much from the people we met onboard.

15.     Go with friends, make friends, and remember to have a good time.

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Lunch on the beach in Northern Ireland

 

 

Fabulous Four

We have been traveling together for over a month.  Typically my husband and I get along well with one another.  We don’t argue very often and because he is very agreeable and easygoing we are a good match.  We can finish each other’s sentences and we often do. But even two people who love each other lots need other people in their lives.  We were very anxious to visit our friends from Arizona who are expats in Switzerland. They are a fun and active couple, but never did we imagine all of the experiences we would pack into a four day visit to their home in Gland Switzerland.

In only four days we did wine tasting, rode several gondola lifts to the top of Mont Blanc, stood on “The Void” at 12,500 feet, traveled by train up to a glacier cave, rode a luge ride, took a chocolate making class, visited a chocolate factory and sampled everything, toured a Gruyere cheese factory, ate cheese fondue, visited the Gruyere Chateau, heard the traditional Swiss horns, drank in a “Alien Bar”, took a boat ride to France, enjoyed a number of delicious wines and local dishes at restaurants in both Switzerland and France, crossed the border multiple times,  went shopping, hiked in the woods and saw firsthand a Swiss WWII bunker and toblerones, drove through some local farms and picked a turnip, used up all of my memory card on the camera, and lastly enjoyed a fantastic home cooked barbecue with our friends.

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Standing in “The Void” on Mont Blanc
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Half way up Mont Blanc
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The very interesting “ALIEN BAR”
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Inside the glacier cave and yes it is melting
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The chocolate cooking class was a blast!
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A view of the garden at Chateau de Gruyere

 

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Not the boat we took to France
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A local cow-bike parade
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Fields of sunflowers
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Views of the Swiss countryside
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WWII Swiss bunker
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Dinner in the lovely garden with friends