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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Live and Learn: Cancun 9.10.11

Do you feel like you haven’t learned anything useful lately? Well, not to worry. I’m here to pass on my hard-earned wisdom gained on my travels. This time, we look at my trip to Cancun, which was the first time I’d gone to touristy Mexico city. I can’t say I got the full experience, because we got there in the middle of a rainstorm that turned into a tropical storm, so much of our week there was spent in on and off pouring rain. Fun! Seeing as I am not really a lay on the beach and do nothing kind of person and live in Oregon, where it rains about half the year, I really wasn’t too put out by this, but it did teach me several things, as did the few days of sunshine we had before going home.

The view from our room most of the trip
Umbrellas are useless – If it’s really raining outside, your umbrella is not going to help you. In fact, after a time I just closed it and attached it to my bag, because not only was I still getting soaked, but I also didn’t have any hands free and I couldn’t see where I was going either. A better choice, which I have since implemented in all my travels, is a packable rain jacket. You actually will keep dry, have your hands free to get change or whatever else you need to use, can keep things in your zip-up pockets and can also wear your day bag under it – assuming it isn’t huge – and keep you money, phone and other belongings from getting totally ruined. On top of that, a packable jacket is easily to carry around, because it packs small, and you won’t look like a drowned rat when you get to where you’re going…even after being passed by three totally packed buses.

The bus only takes US dollars (not change) – Even though you can use American money pretty much anywhere, the bus will NOT take U.S. coins. Have your pesos at the ready or dollars, but don’t try to give them quarters, because they will yell and kick you off the bus. Apparently, they are on a schedule.

Bring a flashlight to the pyramids – This probably isn’t an issue anymore, at least in Chichen Itza, where they don’t let you climb the pyramids anymore. If you do travel to a destination that has pyramids that you might get to climb, toss a small flashlight in your bag, because the inside of the pyramids are dark. Like you wouldn’t know this, but they don’t have lights set up for visitors, nor are there handrails and the steps are super steep. Climbing up the inside of the big pyramid was one of the most frightening things I’ve ever done…and then climbing down was even worse! Unfortunately, we did the inside before the outside and were so glad we didn’t fall and die that we didn’t take advantage of getting to climb to the top and see the view.

Totally beautiful!
Take your bathing suit everywhere you go – You never know when you might want to go for an impromptu swim. On our trip to Chichen Itza, we also stopped at this lovely little oasis that was an cavern with a natural freshwater pool. We hadn’t been made aware of this stop on our trip, so we didn’t bring along our swimsuits or towels. It was still beautiful to hang out near, but not as fun as it looked like most everyone else was having. It was especially hot that day, too, so it probably would have been really refreshing.

Don’t wear flip flops in the rain – This is probably something everyone else already knows, but if you don’t, know that during hurricane season, it’s highly possible that the rain will turn into a monsoon and water can come up past your ankles. It’s why the curbs are so high in the city. It’s better to wear some type of shoe that’s good in the water…or else risk going back to your hotel with only one flip flop or getting hit by a car because you can’t run across the street in foot high water.

Go on the Jungle Cruise – There’s no real reason for this. We didn’t go on it, but every other person we saw asked us if we wanted to go on the cruise and I wish we had done it, because it sounded really fun. Unfortunately, the only time someone asked us when it was convenient was on our last day in the early evening and we were leaving too early to go the next day.

Reapply sunscreen – I can’t even stress this enough. Even though the sun doesn’t seem that bright or you think you haven’t been out very long, the sun in Mexico is crazy strong and will burn you in a heartbeat. In fact, I reapplied in the 3 hours we were at the beach and still got the second wickedest sunburn of my life. Eric had to pay $8 for a bottle of aloe vera gel and slather it my burny skin just so I could leave the room. The longer I was out of the sun, the redder I became, until my skin was purple. I could barely wear clothes (which is why it’s always a good idea to bring some loose-fitting duds or a sundress) for a week after. Fortunately form me, this was also the day before we left and we were staying at an all-inclusive resort, so we didn’t actually have to go far for food or entertainment.

Don’t look like a grape or a lobster! Bring your bottle of sunscreen with you everywhere and generously reapply throughout the day. If you need help remembering, purchase some Sunsense UV Bands which you put on, put on your sunscreen, making sure you cover the band as well, and the band will turn colors when you go out in the sun. Once the band color fades, it’s time to reapply. When it changes colors again, it’s time to go inside. Easy!

Guess what? I have another fun post on the Ebates blog. Need some more help with your packing light prowess? Well, I've got 5 useful tips for you to help you pack small and enjoy big savings! Tell me what you think!

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  1. Hi!
    I'm stopping by from the LBS and really enjoyed reading your highly entertaining and useful travel advice. I've never been to Mexico but I have been wanting to go there for ages!
    I'm saving up for going back to New Zealand though, because that's the place where my heart is (and probably always will be). Such a pretty country - and once you are actually there, you can travel on a budget very easily.
    Enjoy your weekend!

  2. Hello,

    I hopped over from the LBS Tea Party!

    I visited Mexico last year and I agree with many of your points. Luckily, I had better weather ;) The cenotes were beautiful and, yes, very refreshing!



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