Mexican Ports – Muy agradable

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The first three ports we stop at, after 2 days at sea, are in Mexico. In Cabo San Lucas we simply enjoy walking around the boardwalk, eating a Mexican lunch at a little café with servezas a fraction of the cost of those on board, and taking in the scenery. A modern tourist information center had city maps and English speaking staff, even if I can now get around with a little bit of Spanish. Plenty of local taxis if we wanted transportation but we simply walk to the town center following the board walk, find free wifi at Starbucks and stroll back.

Having studied Google maps, we saw that in port #2, Puerto Vallarta, the old city center was a long ways away from the cruise dock. So we did book a tour here: one that took us to town by bus, then around the old city on foot, then by bus around the area and to a restaurant for lunch in the hills, and back to the ship. It was a wonderful introduction to Puerto Vallarta. We walked quite a bit, through little city streets, to the cathedral, across a market, and the water front. We noticed that the city was quite clean and well kept. Lunch was great with good views of the beach, the city and our ship in the distance. Lots of high rises, very busy and not necessarily a place I’d go back to but clean, with nice beaches and lots of resorts.

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In Manzanillo, our last Mexican stop, we walked along the nice, wide boulevard to a wonderful coffeeshop with great, free wifi and enjoyed good Mexican coffee while catching up on emails. Since we always send a postcard from every place we visit, to our grandsons, we asked in one little shop if we could buy stamps. A friendly young man dropped everything he was doing and walked us through a labyrinth of streets to a local post office. Would have never found it without his help!

It was fun to wonder back, look at the shops and get a feel for this town. It seemed more authentic, more Mexican than the previous stops – a place I might just look at in more detail for a beach holiday.IMG_3599

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Fun in the Sun, Two Weeks Mexico

 Two Weeks Mexican Riviera,
Yucatan.

We haven’t had snow on Salt Spring in two years (this is Canada??). Yet leaving the heavy gray skies and drizzle of February suited us just fine.
Using airline bonus points (gotta love’em!) we flew to Cancun, Mexico. While Cancun is busy with lots of highrises and touristy resorts, we know how to make an escape. You walk out of the airport, take the first bus in the first spot and for US $15.- you head south to Playa del Carmen. There you haul your pack into a taxi and for US $17 you get delivered to the door of paradise.
Do I dare tell you about Paamul? I don’t want you all to go there because it is so nice and small and quiet! We discovered Paamul thanks to a teacher in Texas. She and a lot of Canadian and American snowbirds live in Paamul for part of the year. Their rv’s are parked under pictoresque palmleaf roofs called palapa’s. The three ‘streets’ of palapa’s form a horseshoe with the jungle in the back and the blue Caribbean at the front door. These snowbirds have adopted a small, poor Mayan village nearby. For many years now they have fund raised and worked very hard to build a library and now a preschool. They do amazing work and have now adopted a second village! No rest for these retirees.

Paamul has one small hotel with gorgeous, breezy rooms each overlooking the sea. You step right out of your room into the warm sand (and iguana tracks).
There is also a large mansion, Casa Willis, where you can rent one of three floors (or all three, I’m sure). Having stayed in the hotel, we rented the bottom floor of the house this year and brought kids and grandkids.
It was heaven to be able to let the kids right out of the sliding doors of our living room and onto the sheltered sand in our backyard. We swam several times a day, both in the sea and in the pool. There’s a lovely open air restaurant with great food and beer. But other than that, no services. Which suits us just fine.
We walked to the main highway and hopped on a local collectivo which, for 3.- in pesos, delivered us to the Maya ruins in Tulum.
We also booked a one day excursion with Easy Tours to Chichen Itza, the ruins on the list of world wonders. Turned out to be a good choice. For US $50.- p.p. (half of what other companies advertise) they picked us up in a small air conditioned van. We had a great guide who taught us much about Mexico. Spent the entire day at the ruins, swimming at a cenote, having lunch, and visiting an old colonial town.
It was great to read James Michener’s Caribbean while there. It brought the ruins, the temples, the ball courts to life. Weather was warm, a bit muggy and very windy right on the coast. But we all got suntanned! Hannah even got certified as a scuba diver while there. They saw an amazing array of wildlife at the corral reefs each day, including eels, a small shark, large turtles and all sorts of colorful fishes.

Check out:  http://www.scubamex.com/
• http://www.paamul.com/ 
• http://www.easytours.com.mx/