Mexico with locals

Strange name for a blog post, ah? Well, I realized that I have been to Mexico 4x but always as a real, hard core tourist. You know, buy a package, get shuffled from the airport to the hotel quickly so you don’t see anything “dangerous”, speak no Spanish, have no pesos, hardly leave the resort unless it is in a bullet proof bus with other people that want to feel adventurous for stepping into the jungle? Well, it was going to be a different trip this time!

I was invited by Laura, my dear friend from my Moroccan adventure, to visit her at Isla Mujeres for a long weekend. Did I jump on that or what? 2 hours flight for an island getaway to spend with Mexicans in Mexico – absolutely. Any travel to stay with locals and immerse oneself into the culture is an experience – so I was on a flight on Thursday afternoon – by myself !

A few observations and stories:

Food & drinks:  One word – ceviche – should be enough! Forget tacos, sopas, panchitas (??) any other 10 names for some sort of tortilla with meat, beans, guac avocado, onion and cilantro – it is CEVICHE that rules this part of Mexico and I couldn’t get enough. 5 ingredients and you are done: seafood, lime juice, onion, cilantro, salt and hot peppers – chill it and = heaven on earth. Recipe logged.

In general, just loved the food – and even learned some new drinks (michelada is beer with clam juice, soy sauce, etc.) Carajillo is cold coffee with Liquor 43 (lovely!) so lots of new Mexican drinks that I didn’t know about. And of course, lots and lots and lots of beer ! Surprisingly, very little tequila, rice, beans – the quintessential US Mexican food.

Weather: If you never followed my family’s travel, you wouldn’t know that we tend to attract natural disasters. Well, didn’t skip us this time around. First day – gorgeous and sunny weather. Day 2 and prognosis for Day 3 and 4? Tropical storm Billy.

So here is how our Day 2 went – buckets of water non stop since 4 am, so coffee on the terrace waiting for a small hole to get out. Didn’t happen so Laura and I decided to venture out anyway and do a golf-cart tour of the whole island. Mind you, when it rains it pours on the island – think horizontal rain. I love golf carts but they are not very practical during storm, you are basically trying to avoid the rain for about 2 minutes and then just give up and try to clean your glasses so you can see ahead of you. Nothing like a tour of island in a tropical storm.

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Island: Gorgeous, small (6 km in length, 1 km in width), undeveloped with few hotels, top 10 beach in the world, tortugas everywhere, golf carts mostly, not that many tourists. Short ferry ride (15 mins) over which is much more fun in nice weather.

 the island

Loved spending the whole weekend with Laura, her boyfriend, his mother and their local friends/staff. My Spanish got better with worsening weather/increasing consumption of alcohol (linear), and more and more people around me who spoke Spanish only. Learned a lot about Mexican politics, lawlessness, music (hola Alejandro Fernandez, Mana and Thalia), Burbujas de Amor). The house was gorgeous in sun or rain, the company was fantastic, island picturesque, food wow – so a fantastic getaway despite cutting it short by 1 day (yes, storm didn’t stop for 48 hours so escaped before it got worse). And ignore the hair – this is not an island where you bring hair products – humidity, rain, beach – phew – sheep hair all around, so go with the flow!

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