I came back from Mexico on Saturday night and subsequently fell quite ill. After a trip to the dr on Monday afternoon, I came away with a diagnosis of a gastrointestinal infection + a sinus nfection - double whammy. Of course, that can happen to anyone while traveling, not just going to Mexico. I think I might have either been exposed on the airplane or by a dirty shot glass of tequila I drank from in a tshirt shop. (Don't ask - it's pretty normal down there.) Either way, I've been pretty sick and miserable for the last 72 hours. At this point, I'm hopeful that I'm on the mend and will continue to heal with the antibiotics that my doctor gave me.
I think I'm finally ready to share with you my top ten list for things I learned/noticed on this trip to Mexico.
1. Everyone expects to be tipped. For everything. And you feel guilty if you don't tip them. It's just their culture. Even workers in a shop expect a tip for their services in helping you find a tshirt.
2. I'm not very good at converting money in my head. Since the dollar was relatively strong, we exchanged at 14.15 pesos to 1 dollar. Just try figuring that out in your head on the fly as you're looking at jewelry or pareos on the beach. I needed my calculator on my phone, and even then, I think I paid too much for some items I bought. Oh well...
3. The waters off of Isla Mujeres are the most beautiful shade of electric blue turquoise I've ever seen. The stripes of those waters against the darker blue waters closer to Cancun are likewise gorgeous.
4. While the weather was relatively mild with highs of 84 and lows of 72, I was awfully hot a lot of the time. I don't think I'm cut out to spend any significant amount of time in a tropical location. This hothouse flower is just too delicate.
5. Mexico still feels like a third world country to me. The people of the island have a very different standard of living to what I am accustomed. Their homes are often crumbling around them, many homes don't have proper doors or windows, trash collects in the alleyways and along the corners of streets, etc. I don't think I'd be happy living in a place like that even though the natural beauty is amazing.
6. Most people we encountered in Isla were not native islanders but had come from other parts of Mexico to find work in this tourist rich area. This creates a unique blend of people who all live together on the island or in nearby Cancun.
7. The second thing every man between the ages of 15-65 said to me was always, "Are you single?" If I said no, he would ask, "Are you married?" When I said no, he'd smilingly reply, "Then you're single." Seriously, shopkeepers, waiters, taxi drivers, etc. - they all said a greeting and then followed up with that line of questioning. I have to admire their unabashed directness even if I didn't take anyone up on his offer of companionship. :)
8. My tall, blonde bestie that I traveled with garnered much more male attention than I did. (see #7) If you're looking for some companionship in Mexico, there's less interest in short, curvy, dark-haired women like me since I look much more like the native women there. Light-skinned, light-haired, light-eyed, tall women are considred pretty exotic there. (Just offering y'all some tips and insight...)
9. There are lots of dogs in Isla that roam free throughout the day. If you aren't a dog person, this might really bother you. Most of them have collars/tags and homes to return to in the evening, but some are sort of cared for by the restaurants and workers as they roam. I didn't encounter any who were unfriendly, and, yes, there were lots of chihuahuas.
10. The food I had was excellent. I encourage you to try some of the street food wherever you visit. It's inexpensive and generally very tasty. I had empanadas and marquesitas and tacos and pork sandwiches on the street; it was all fabulous. If you'd rather go to a sit down place, again try to find where the locals eat. We ate several times at luncherias that served excellent breakfasts and lunches but were closed by dinnertime. Even the big restaurants we visited served excellent food, but we didn't eat at any chain restaurants and ate lots of seafood.
That's it for now - stay tuned throughout the week for pics and stories from my time in Isla Mujeres. Next week, I'll be back to sharing some scrapbooking stuff and working on planning my upcoming trip to Paris.