Mexico, stay south, travel cheap
Written: Nov 16, 1999
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:culturally enriching, available to be cheap
Cons:mosquitos, cons, pickpockets, bad water
To experience Mexico and not be treated too much as a tourist, I recommend going there during the summer because air rates are better and the tourist aren't as frequent. My trip there was to experience Mexico as what Mexicans do and that means to go farther south away from the states. I flew into Mexico city and never went anywhere north of that. My objective was to go to as many ruins as I could and to experience the culture of Mexico. I did a loop of a trip traveling to Oaxaca, Villamerhosa, Veracruz, Merida, Isla Mujeres, Tulum, and got to Belize and looped back in the south back to Mexico City. Throughout my trip, I barely saw any Westerners and lived very well for my tastes in cheap hotels and eating out every night cheaply. To gain a good cultural experience, my friend and I didn't go to fancy hotels or beaches and stayed inland except for Isla Mujeres. You will see poverty and yet, you will still see happiness in the warm hospitality that Mexicans will offer. Depending on how far you are willing to go outside of your comfort level, you will truly experience Mexico if you are willing to mingle with the locals and try your Spanish out the best you can. I recommend the Berkly Guide which gave a great budgeted guide as to how to travel the unpaven paths. I also recommend traveling at night on buses that goes from city to city. This saves costs and time because you can snooze on the bus and this saves costs in accomodations. Although at times, your bus will be stopped and soldiers will board with big ass guns asking only you (the tourist) for passports. Remain calm and cooperative and they shouldn't do anything much to you. Being an adventurous eater gave me good and bad experiences and you will have to take your own risks as to how far you want to experience Mexican food. But after being there, you won't see a taco the same way again ever. Here is some inside advice:
Pack light and for warm weather, this makes the trip very, very convenient.
Definitely get your Hepatitis A shots and if applicable, preventive precautions for Malaria. Mosquitos are so small and unnoticeable, be prepared to be bitten with hundreds of bites on exposed part of your body.
Have a small pouch of important paperwork (ie passport, travelers check, etc) strapped to your body and carry a small purse or money bag of small currency for daily use.
Keep the traveler's guide handy and secure because that is your bible for the trip.
I recommend to carry candy so that you can have something to give to local children who beg for money but don't give money because you don't really know where that money will go towards.
When you get to cities that are more touristic, beware of people who seems really interested in becoming your friends or people who claim to be scholars or students. They will offer to show you the town and their main intentions is to get you to their shops to buy souveniers and things. You can go and play along and sometimes that can get you a decent deal on items but it's hard to guarantee if things are authentic.
Cash talks and if a shop accepts Visa/Mastercard, you've hit a pretty touristic place and prices will fit toward what they know you CAN afford. Similar items can be purchased for a much lower price along the roadside coming to the attraction. As you know the water is bad but hey, you only live once and getting sick from trying the water out shouldn't kill you. I'm still walking today and I think that it will only make you stronger. But still, bottled water, soda in bottles (use straws), and beer are the safest bets. If you do want to experience some beaches, I highly recommend going to Isla Mujeres. It is an island off of Cancun and there is a great hostel there where they offer hammacks to sleep in (you might have to provide your own) and a delicious kitchen. Isla Mujeres isn't so dominated by rich tourists yet and the beaches are fantastic with water so clear, you can drop a coin and see the face of it 4 feet deep. Wear lots of sunscreen since you are practically at the closest place on the globe to the sun. I recommend traveling in pairs to 4 people but no more. This gives you some protection and yet gives you lots of mobility. Carry a cheap point and shoot camera gives tons of convenience to capture your experience in this beautiful country.
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