Pros: It's close to the USA
Cons: Some very depressed areas
We loved Mexico for many reasons. We do hope to return again soon. Though I have visited some of the border towns of Mexico on other visits I am reviewing more of the east end of the country, the Yucatan Peninsula. We absolutely loved vacationing there. Except for one place we stayed, and that wasn't terrible, everything was perfect!!I would like to follow up that statement with my ten reasons.
1) The Mexican people are warm and friendly. I really enjoyed interacting with them. We met them in different environments. When we stayed in an all inclusive they were very attentive and helpful. We never got that feeling that they did not like the Gringos from the north. I have had that feeling in other countries. Not here.
At all the places where we met them, like the airport, restaurants, hotel desks, and the like they were very professional. My wife spent hours with some haggling prices over merchandise. This is the way it is done there. They were not pushy at all. It was a pleasant experience. In fact, she loved playing the game. I remember when our whole family entered a restaurant that was about to close. We were seven people. The woman there went out of her way to make us feel welcome. We found this same hospitality in many places.
My wife, an art teacher, brought some coloring books and crayons for some children in the very poor inland towns. We had read about how poor some of these people were. On our way to an archaeological area named Coba, we stopped to give these books out. The kids, who are beautiful, were very appreciative and the parents were very friendly.
2) Except for our foray into the inland with these children, just about everybody who deals with tourists speak English. This is important to me. I like to feel somewhat in control. Being able to communicate helps that feeling. This was not a problem in Mexico. My wife and I tried a bit of Spanish, more out of respect for the people there, than really trying to talk. My wife, I must say, was much better than I was in linguistic attempts. From the airport, to the hotels, to destinations we went to on our own, we were comfortable. I must admit however that in even attempting to speak their language you will gain superior service.
3)Because we were able to communicate and I liked the people,I was also very comfortable traveling out on our own. I can't say that about some other countries. Believe me, I can enjoy all inclusive places, however, I also have learned to try and explore a bit. I don't like regimented tours so that really isn't an option.
In Mexico I have rented cars a couple of times. Maps were easy to follow and the roads were pretty well maintained. Ha, except for our jaunt to Coba. That was dirt road for many miles. They have paved most of it in the last couple of years. Other roads we were on were toll roads. These were good and very straight.
There are check areas and places that are not recommended to go to. We followed some sensible advice and then did a good amount of adventuring on our own. To me that is the best way to experience a country.
4) We did get a pretty good value for the American dollar. Though the places we stayed were the going rate and no real bargains, the places and shops we visited outside in the country were well priced. In fact some places like the excavation sites were downright bargains at a couple of bucks a person. My wife did well with her shopping and when we went to little bars and eateries in the small towns we did very well for our money. I also like that there were plenty of working ATMs in the tourist areas and at the banks of small towns. I think this is the best way of getting a good exchange for your money and not having to carry around a lot of cash all the time.
5)Inland a few hours from Cancun is a wonderful place that shows the wonders of the ancient people of Mexico. A place we went to was Chichen-Itza. It is an amazing area of over four square miles that is open and clean and has many of the original structures rebuilt.
To climb on the 75' high El Castillo in the early morning without anybody else around was a "holy" experience. I do recommend trying to do more than just one of the many day trips that come from Cancun or other off shore cruise tours.
Because we stayed in a place nearby we were the first onto the grounds in the morning before the hoards of tourists arrived. We spent the quiet hours walking the place and then when the tours busses came in, we went back at our place and into the pool. We could return later when the weather was cooler and the crowds were down.
6) We stayed at a place that my wife found while searching the internet. The name is Hotel Mayland It is partially on the grounds of the excavation of Chichen-Itza. It also had its own entrance into the grounds. That was a real plus for our early morning quiet visits to the sites. This place was done up like a Mexican hacienda. In fact it was built at first to lodge the first visitors to the excavation in the early 1900's.
The restaurants would be busy with tour people at times in the afternoon but once the tours were gone the place was ours and very quiet.
The grounds were "Jurassic Park" like, lush and very green. The service was wonderful and the surroundings serene. They had some beautiful pool areas too.
At night we would just walk down from our room and listen to Mariachi Bands and watch traditional dancers. This place was our favorite place to stay in Mexico.
7) Like Chichen-Itza another place to discover was Coba. This inland excavation of the ancients is just starting to be uncovered. This place gives the feel of an "Indiana Jones" adventure. It is the real deal of trees and vegetation growing out of the sides of pyramids that have been reclaimed by the natural processes of the past centuries. I loved walking around this area. We had a guide who walked us around for about an hour or so. We were on our own afterward. It's an experience we had of which I don't think can ever be duplicated. This is the jungle and there are hidden secrets in it. It is so very different from open and rebuilt Chichen-Itza. Coba's secrets are yet to be discovered.
8) We visited one other Mayan area when in Mexico. It was Tulum This one is unique because it is right on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico. This is the only ancient grounds that are on the sea. This is a picture taking place if I ever saw one. In fact, every angle you look at is like from a National Geographic cover. The old worn grand structures with the gorgeous turquoise sea behind it is a site that can't be duplicated. We were also very fortunate to have time to spend on the beach beneath the ruins. It is a small yet beautiful and inviting beach. If you ever get to go to Tulum be prepared to spend some time on this beach.
9) We were fortunate enough to have rented cars and do some of the country on our own. That made it possible to visit where the people lived and where both tourists and Mexicans spent time interacting. We enjoyed the small towns particularly Playa del Carmen Playa was a hoot!! We went there a couple of times escaping from the all inclusive we we staying at. That was the world of make believe. My kids stayed safely there while my wife and I did some exploring. Playa del Carmen was the real deal. Having a few beers at the local bars, listening to bands playing, walking streets that were closed to auto traffic at certain hours and watching my wife working her deals with the merchants was a special experience. This was getting the real feel of the country. I loved it.
10) When we stayed in our hotel, that was on the sea, we read about a kind of combination nature park, education area and recreation area. The name of this place is XCARET. Don't miss it! It's can be compared as a kind of Disney of Mexico. I have to say it was even better than that.
It's expensive but worth every dollar, or is that peso. Anyways, it's fantastic! We went there with our kids. We arrived early in the morning and didn't get home till after 11:00PM that night.
My wife and some of the kids did the swimming with the Dolphins. We all went into what I believe were called "cenotes". These are natural underground caves with streams and rivers running through them. It was amazing. We did it twice. They also have horse back riding, butterfly houses, turtle breading, an aquarium area and MUCH more.
My wife spent hours snorkeling in their man made lagoons that were full of beautiful fish. They have equipment you can rent or bring your own.
The beach areas and lagoons were gorgeous. They had giant tubes for all to use. We enjoyed lunch service at our lounge chairs in the afternoon.
After a full day of excitement we had the most interesting evening of shows we ever saw. There were live demonstrations of dance and games of the ancient Mayan's and other peoples. This was mixed in with traditional culture of todays Mexico.
We were moved expertly and efficiently to different sites until we were finally brought to a huge stadium where we saw hours more of entertainment. It was incredible! Yes, It truly was.
So that's it, Mexico and Ten good reasons to go.
other warm weather reviews by popsrocks
A bit more in Mexico
Playa del Carmen A definite place to visit on the Mayan Riviera
Akumal Snorkeling and more.
Discovering the Yucatan Peninsula Ancient Ruins, Culture, and Relaxation
CHICHEN-ITZA, the Grand Ancient Site of the Yucatan
Coba, the ancient city A site that is just being excavated.
Tulum, Mayan Temples on the Sea
Xcaret, an Amazing Park dedicated to Nature and Culture
Hotel MayaLand A wonderful, highly recommended, place to stay near Chichen-Itza
Allegro Resort, Playacar A halfway decent all-inclusive in Playa del Carmen. Just six miles from Xcaret.
The Viva Wyndham Maya A good choice!
The Grand Palladium Colonial Resort and Spa The Best Choice
Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas It makes stops at Costa Maya and Cozumel. A fine ship.
Other warm weather destination reviews by popsrocks
Barcelo Bavero, Dominican Republic Ya gotta love this place.
Sandals Negril A good romantic place for couples
Renaissance Jamaica Grand Perfect for the family.
Jamaica, one man's view Jamaica me laugh, Jamaica me cry
St. John, US Virgin Island Now this is paradise!!
Westin Resort, St. John, Virgin Islands The price was right.
More warm weather destinations by popsrocks
US Virgin Islands St John and St Thomas
The Baths of the British Virgin Islands
The Dominican Republic
Frommer's Caribbean 2005