Bienvenido a Mexico!

    It is around this time of year, after the holiday season and before Spring Break that I start having holiday withdrawal symptoms, especially for hot and sunny places. It is also the time when the green-eyed monster of jealousy pops out as it casts its evil eye on all my friends and acquaintances that are headed to warmer climes. If only I was going too! Despite the recent bout of bad publicity regarding tourist safety, Mexico remains one of the most popular destinations for those living in Vancouver. Many deals can be found and the prices are very attractive. There are numerous All-Inclusive resorts with full amenities and activities for all ages. You can expect to be treated almost like royalty at a resort where food and alcohol is in abundance and the beach is literally at your doorstep. [photo:1349447811945]Over the years, I have made several trips to Mexico either by staying for a week at an All-Inclusive resort or stopping only for the day at the various ports of call by cruise ship. Of the two, I have to admit that staying at an All-Inclusive resort seems to be more fun. First of all, you have more time to really relax. Depending where your hotel is situated, the pristine white sandy beaches are just a stone's throw from the resort. I once stayed at a resort in the Mayan Riviera, where there were several large swimming pools to choose from. And when you wanted to, you could step right out to the Ocean and swim in the warm Caribbean Sea amidst the colourful fish. Be greedy and do both! [photo:1349577006095] [photo:1349577959366]Besides swimming, eating lots of food and just lazing around, many hotels offer excursions to local sightseeing spots and fun outdoor activity trips. I myself was more adventurous. I would walk onto the main highway in the Mayan Riviera. Eventually a white van would stop with locals inside. I would hop in and when I was ready to get off I just let the driver know and he pulled off to the side and stopped to let me off. I gave the driver 200 Pesos and a smile and he was off down the highway. Not one to sit around for too long, I participated in as many activities as I could fit in. I swam in an underground cave, ate local cuisine in the village, played with snakes, lizards and little monkeys. In fact I was bitten by a monkey that wasn't so cute after all. No! I did not get rabies or anything drastic like that. I snorkelled with the giant sea turtles, drove an All-Terrain Vehicle on the beach, zip lined across a crocodile infested river and soared high above the clouds in a parachute powered by a speed boat down below. One trip, I even went horseback riding along a river in a bikini. Now, when would you ever have the chance to do that! Depending on where you are in Mexico, you can go fishing, whale watching, swim with the dolphins and the list goes on. In Zihuatanejo, I caught my own fish and later that evening the restaurant cooked it for me. Yum yum! These are just some of the fun activities that would normally be very expensive on their own in North America but it can be enjoyed for a fairly reasonable price in Mexico. [photo:1349578026275]For me, the best way to enjoy a resort is to plan one day out to enjoy activities and one day at the resort doing nothing. Usually a stay at resort lasts for about five days to a week and you can plan to be as busy or as carefree as you like. The remaining days, I would choose to stay at the resort and doing nothing. After all, it is supposed to be a relaxing vacation. I have had many enjoyable adventures in Mexico, some enjoyable and others not so pleasurable. It is hot in Mexico, extremely hot and I had my first heat stroke experience in Puerto Vallarta. It is imperative to keep your head protected from the sun. If you have fair skin, like I do, sun block is a must. I actually saw a bottle of sun block labelled SPF 110. It does make one wonder what is in it! You should also carry a bottle of water with you to prevent dehydration. [photo:1349578145155]Another time, there was a huge storm that blew out the power over a vast area which meant no electricity, no air-conditioning and no TV. Just peace and quiet and the mosquitoes! Mexico is tropical and they have the bugs and insects to prove it. Do not be surprised to be attacked by mosquitoes. Keep an eye open for snakes and the less scary and probably harmless Iguana. The bees and wasps are huge! One evening I returned to my hotel room to discover a foot long centipede in the bathroom. You know that River Dance Jig that you see on TV? I think I performed the fastest jig in my entire life and I don't even know how to jig! I kept a wary eye on the bathroom after that day. However, do not be put off by the bugs, the flora more than make up for it with beautiful sprays of flowers in vibrant colours everywhere. Regarding the latest headlining news on tourist safety in Mexico, it goes without saying; do not wander off the beaten path. In light of everything, it is safer to stay within the pleasant confines of your resort or hotel. This is not the time to be adventurous and to go exploring in unfamiliar territory. For the most part, a holiday in Mexico is safe, I have only heard of a rare few that have become sick from food and the dreaded Montezuma's revenge. In the meantime, I have a holiday bag packed and ready for when I find the perfect deal to that All-Inclusive resort in Mexico. Then it will be Ola Mexico and Cervesa Por Favor.