In Spanish or in English, fun is fun

Hola. Greetings from Guanajuato on a very sunny day. The sunniest and hottest day we’ve had since we came here four weeks ago.  We continue to be mesmerized by this beautiful city.  We’re really enjoying the college vibe here and the fact that there’s a lot of coffeeshops to check out!

Guanjuanto

Amazingily beautiful Guanajuato

 

Before I jump in with mucho musings, I want to let my faithful readers know that we are coming back to the U.S from Sept. 16 to Sept. 30. The first week we will be in Oakland, and the second week (tentatively) we will be in the South Bay. I’ve organized an informal gathering on Sunday, Sept. 18 at 4 p.m. so we can see as many people as possible. I really hope you’ll stop in to say hello. Here are the details:

Cleophus Quealy Taproom (link has directions)
448 Hester Street
San Leandro, CA
(near the Oakland border and Oakland airport)

Cleophus Quealy is very low-key and it’s a great place for beer and conversation. They may have some live bluegrass music if we’re lucky. Our cellphones are the same, so feel free to ring us. I really am looking forward to seeing everyone.

I want to use this blog to recap our madcap adventures since May 1, when we officially moved to Mexico. Our 2016 summer jaunt through central Mexico is soon coming to an end, even though the adventures will continue Oct. 1 when we return and begin a six-month lease in Zihuatanejo. After the recap, which I thought would be appreciated, I have included a short FAQ.

Our adventure started on April 30 when we went to Phoenix to watch the Arizona Diamondbacks play the Colorado Rockies. Andy’s dad and his wife, Arlene, joined us. The weather was warm, the beer was cold and night baseball (in a warm climate) rules!

The next day we flew to Zihuatanejo, a fantastic town on the Pacific Coast of Mexico. We spent six weeks house-sitting two very well-behaved dogs, Sierra and Maggie.  We had a blast with them, and even though it proved to be 1) very, very hot in Zihua in May and June, and 2) a lot of work, we enjoyed the experience (and the free rent) and loved being in Zihuatenejo during the low season.

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This is Maggie.

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This is Sierra. Woof woof!

After dog-sitting, we spent three days and two nights relaxing in Zihuatanejo’s neighboring city, Ixtapa, at the Azul Spa and Suites.  Activities included enjoying an amazing ocean view from our room and balcony, chillin’ in the air conditioning (after six HOT weeks) and playing ping pong (Andy won). We also lounged by their large and amazing infinity pool, one of the nicest we have seen in Mexico.

Then we packed up our rented Nissan Rogue and drove to Morelia, also known as the greatest Mexican town you have never heard of. We stayed at a local bed and breakfast (Casona Rosa, No. 1 on Trip Advisor). We spent our days enjoying the city’s beautiful plazas, sipping coffee, and walking all over the city’s amazing historical district, reminiscent of the French Quarter in New Orleans, though much larger. Three weeks later, we were off again … this time to nearby Patzcuaro, Mexico.

Patzcuaro is an amazing place. Steeped in utter historic oldness, from its buildings to its plazas and tiny streets, the city is located near a lake, and surrounding the lake are indigenous communities where the people make handicrafts such as black pottery, embroidered clothes and ceramic skeletons. The towns are located close to one another, so you can drive between them easily and enjoy indiginous culture up close. Patzcuaro also has the most famous and traditional Day of the Dead celebration in all of Mexico, and we’re planning on attending the two-day celebration on Nov. 1.

After we spent three weeks in Patzcuaro, my mom, sister and my brother-in-law came for a visit. So we moseyed back to Zihuatanejo for a week of sun and beach. We laughted a lot!

Pam,mom, me

Betweem my mom and Pam, I was frequently in stitches.

Then Pam, Andy, my mom and I squeezed into the car for a one-week road trip. We hit Morelia and Patzcuaro for a day or two each, then explored San Miguel de Allende, a lovely (albeit very touristy) town. We then went to Guanajuato, where we are now. Tucked into a valley, with colorful homes dotting the hills and loads of history packed into the town’s central section, Guanajuato is a magical place. We are enjoying the historical section, and the huge dose of everyday Mexican life here (it’s more than just a tourist town), plus we are studying Spanish two hours a day (for five and a half weeks) at a kick-ass school called Escuela Falcon.

All in all, our first four months have been great.

Why have we scheduled a visit to the United States?
As tourists in Mexico, we are allowed only 180 straight days (six months) in the country before having to leave, or face a monetary fine. We’re not exactly sure how long we have to be out of Mexico before returning; we’ve heard a quick border run is permissible. But we’ve decided to come home for two weeks. I’m going to see my oncologist, visit with friends and family … and hopefully be able to take my first bath since April (so far in Mexico for us, we’ve had only showers). Thanks to everyone who is allowing us to couch surf!

What is happening in October?
We will start a six month rental in Zihuatanejo, the same beautiful bayside town where my mom lives part of the year. We’re going to be staying about 2 km from her hillside condo in a three-bedroom, two bath house, adjacent to 1) a cute section of town with shops, restaurants and a kick-ass coffee spot and 2) Madera beach, a five-minute walk from our back door, as well as a short walk to the quaint and bustling downtown, where $1.25 quesadillas and the central mercado beckon. Our plan is to spend a lot of time enjoying the beach and tranquil scenery. Andy will continue to work two days a week for J. as a copy editor, and I’l l continue to freelance as a grantwriter.

What are your plans after the lease ends on March 31?
We’ve decided that we want to live in Morelia next summer, at least for a little while. We’ve found that Zihuatanejo is too hot at that time of year, and we think having a beach life part of the year and a big-city life the other part of the year is a perfect combination. If my cancer does not return, our hope is to spend part of next summer in Morelia, and some other time traveling … we’re not sure yet where, but Mexico offers endless possibilities. You can’t believe the number of amazing places we want to check out.

Are we bored and do I miss work?
Not yet!  I thought that I might be bored by now, but it hasn’t happened. There’s are too many plazas to enjoy, too many coffeeshops to hang out at, and too much Spanish to learn. Zihuatenejo is much smaller than the places we have been visiting, so perhaps beach life will take its toll after many months. I don’t miss working full-time. I love having so much free time. In Zihuatanejo, I do plan on doing volunteer work one day a week, hopefully with kids. And I will try to continue to freelance when opportunities presents themselves. This week I’ve been contacted by two organizations, both in need of fundraising consulting and grant-writing.

What’s the security situation like in Mexico?
We continue to feel very safe and the people have been lovely. We are reading the Mexican newspapers and seeing that violence from the drug cartels continues to escalate, but it has not affected our experience. As tourists, we are not impacted, though we know it’s a serious and horrific problem. The news is filled with reports of shootings, be-headings and other heinous crimes (mostly involving gang members, or sometimes politicians). It deeply saddens me to read these stories. We’re not turning a blind eye to this madness, but thankfully, up to this point, it has not impacted our day-to-day enjoyment of this amazing country. We love the pace of life and we love the people. In fact, I would say that I miss the Bay Area less than I thought I would. With the exception of missing YOU, I would say that the overall quality of our lives in Mexico is excellent.

In closing, I’m excited to soon see everyone and get caught up.  Thanks for your e-mails, notes, texts, etc.  See you soon!

chairchilling

 

 

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Habla Espanol?

Hey folks,

Thanks for your comments on my last  post.  I know I was a bit down in the dumps when I posted.  A lot of you dropped me encouraging messages telling me that things with our housing would get better, and a few of you even shared your own housing horror stories. I really appreciated the pep talks and your heartfelt messages.

Things with our apartment are much better. Andy put up some plastic tarp outside one of the leaking windows in advance of rain and we’ve been staying dry. Plus, I think the leaking was due to a huge (and unusual) storm and we haven’t had a similarly powerful storm since. And much to my surprise, my bathroom hasn’t been smelling of sewage lately. Also, last night the apartment owner came by with an architect and they examined the sink drain and came up with a fix-it plan to reduce the sewage smell should it rear its ugly head again. Mi casa es bien!

I thought I would use this blog post to talk about our experience learning to speak Espanol.

I’m not a language person. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’m a “bad at languages” person although I did get pretty good at understanding Patois when we were Peace Corps volunteers in Jamaica. I also studied conversational Hebrew in high school one night a week for twelve weeks during my senior year of high school. This  twelve week course earned me  two years of foreign language credit in college! To this day, I still don’t understand how this happened.

Before I got diagnosed with ovarian cancer, Andy and I began an adult evening Spanish class at our local adult school, but we had to drop the class after only four weeks because of my diagnosis. So I didn’t get much out of it which was too bad.

We always knew we didn’t want to be those “ugly Americans” who live in a foreign country but do not speak the language. We resolved ourselves to lessons and to making an effort to speak Spanish whenever possible.  Andy had two years of Spanish in seventh and eighth grade, and of course because he’s a writer, he has a great understanding of how sentences are constructed. Me, not so much.  Speaking Spanish is a chore for me.  I persevere and I persist, but it’s hard!  I’m blaming it on my chemo brain because it’s a good  excuse, and because I don’t want to have to admit that my brain is simply made of putty.

In our first three months here, our Spanish improved, but not by very much. I know about 20 sentences and I used them over and over. While I was learning tons of new words, I could not put a sentence together to save my life!

When we got to Guanajauto, we took the plunge and enrolled in an intensive Spanish school to build our skills.  Now we’re students again!  Five days a week from 10 AM-12 PM we go to classes at Escuala Falcon, a kick-ass Spanish school which is located an eight minute downhill walk from our casa. We each take two classes, Comunicacion y Vocabulario and Pronunciacion y diccion.  I go five days a week and Andy goes three.  We also take a cooking class once a week. Last week we made my favorite Mexican dish, chillaquilles, and this week we’re going to make fried fish.

We love so many things about this school. The school is professionally run, and classes are inexpensive. We’re each paying $75 a week for two-hours a day of instruction in a group setting with 3-4 other students.  And get this… if they don’t have anyone at your level (and truthfully, no student could be as bad as me) they put you in a PRIVATE class so you get one-on-one instruction, but at the group rate fee!

Hooray!!! So far, they have not had any other students at either of our levels so we’ve both been in private classes. All of the instructors are in their 20s and are extremely patient and they try to make learning fun. They use flash cards, and games to keep me entertained. I’m enjoying both classes,  but I like my conversation class better. The pronunciation class is horribly painful. I feel badly for my teacher, Jessica, who has to hear me butcher her beautiful language five days a week.

Every night we have homework, which usually takes me 15 minutes or so and I practice for at least an hour a day (usually two) on my own.  I love using Duolingo. If you are not familiar with this great language app and you want to learn how to speak another language, download it.  My Spanish is improving daily and I’m so happy with our decision to do a language immersion program. I plan on continuing with lessons when we move to Zihuatanejo in October.

So here’s an interesting question. Do we really need to speak Spanish to live here? Could we get by speaking only English?

Truthfully, in Zihuatanejo, I think we could get by. You don’t need to speak Spanish to go to the grocery store, and in restaurants by the beach most wait staff speak basic English. But dealing with shopkeepers at the fish market, or a handyman at your house, or even salespeople in department stores where almost no English is spoken would be difficult. In Morelia (where we want to live next summer) or in nearby Patzcuaro, English is very rarely spoken and it would be impossible to get by without some basic Spanish.

In Mexico, I’ve found that if I am really struggling, a magical person will appear to help me get out of my jam. If four or five people are within earshot, someone will rescue me. Example, I was buying fish on Sunday and there were 5 people at the fish counter standing near me. After I ordered, the clerk was giving me a puzzled look, the other people were giving me puzzled looks, but then a man chimed in speaking perfect English and rescued me. Saved!

Not fifteen minutes later we were checking out at the grocery store and I had three bottles of beer in our shopping cart. The cashier removed all three bottles. At first we thought it was because she didn’t know the price. But she never asked a runner to check them. So I didn’t get my beer despite many attempts to have her put them back in our cart. What happened?  No idea. It may have been because Guanjanto is “dry” on Sunday after a certain hour.  While my beer was being held hostage.  I told her, “Usted es feliz sin cerveza.”  Oops.  Andy cracked up.  Why would she be happy without my beer?   I got sad and happy mixed up. I needed to say triste not feliz.  And I meant to say me but I said you.   This happens to me all the friggin time. It’s pathetic.

Despite these frequent and highly comical mishaps, I’m loving Spanish school.  Our classes always start on time, they organize daily field trips and this week I learned how to conjugate Spanish verbs. Andy of course, is rocking his Spanish. It’s growing by leaps and bounds.  Mexicans are really happy when we try to speak Spanish with them. They just beam and are very forgiving when I make a mistake.

Guanajuato is a magical place. We’re so glad we decided to study here. I had never heard of Guanajuanto before my friend, Carol Langbort, told me about it. They have a huge art, music and film festival here every October and while we won’t get to attend this October, perhaps in the future we will come back.

Check out this video about this magical place!

OK, I have to go do my homework now. I have to write 8 sentences in espanol using verbs such as “to eat” and “to walk”.

Adios mi amigos y amigos.  I miss you mucho!

Stacey

 

 

 

 

I’m a hater-And I’m not talking about the Donald

Politics aside, I’ve become a Mexico hater…at least for the past three or four days. I know that most of my posts have been about how much we love this country and about how much we are digging this adventure, but for the past several days,  I’ve been feeling a bit down. Lest you think everything is always rosy, here’s what’s making my glass half empty these days.

The first thing that has got me in a dither is crappy Mexico housing construction. We’re living in a fairly new apartment complex, paying over $700 USD a month and while our apartment is nice, we’re having all sorts of  problems. We’ve lived in enough places to know that these problems are very typical problems of living in Mexico, but that doesn’t make them any easier for me to deal with.  Here are just a few of the issues we are facing apartment wise.

  1. A leaky (very fancy) fridge that drips water onto the shelves and onto the floor. We can’t figure out why it’s leaking.
  2. Two bathrooms that smell of sewage. When we asked the property manager about the horrible stench he told us the following:  a) All of Guanjuanto smells of sewage.  b) We must keep our toilet bowls closed, our shower drains covered, and our sink vents closed at all times. This will help the smell. And while the apartment manager did have someone come in and clean the pipes out, (it helped) we still smell sewage now and again and it’s disgusting.
  3. A washing machine (also new looking) that drips water on the floor whenever we run it. Luckily it’s not in our apartment.

But for me, the cake topper happened a few days ago during a very scary thunder and lightening storm. We were in our bedroom (around 1 AM) watching the lightening light up the night sky when water started gushing from our bedroom window onto our floor. It started dripping onto our bedroom wall and it made a big puddle by our bed. In fact, we had to use our clean, good bathroom towels (which we just washed a few hours prior) to soak up all the water. During the storm, Andy didn’t seem so freaked out, but I was not a happy camper.

Newhousetrouble4

This is the start of the storm when our bedroom window started leaking.

The next day I brought in the property manager and showed him what happened. He shook his head in agreement and said, “Si, mucho agua aqui, window malo” Which translates to “yeah, the storm brought in a lot of water and this window is bad”.

Yes folks, this is Mexico. No real urgency to fix anything, just an acknowledgement that yes, the windows in our apartment do indeed leak. While he did say he would look at them, he blamed the leaking on crappy construction in the first place.  I’ m fairly confident that we will be mopping up water again in the foreseeable future.

Then there are the electrical outlets. The face plates are always not attached to the walls properly. There are huge gaps. This is a very typical problem in many of the places we’ve stayed.  It’s maddening.

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This is one of the outlets in our kitchen.

 

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This is a second outlet in our kitchen.

And the shoddy workmanship in this apartment in general.  Look at how they sealed the sink in the spare bathroom. It’s full of gloopy glue.

newhousetrouble

All this gloppy sealant is gross! Those are not bugs, it’s dirt.

Every single day there’s some major mishap  such as bedroom flooding or minor  mishap, (last night I had an epic fish cooking fail) to deal with and frankly it’s got my spirits a bit down. Andy seems to be faring a bit better than I am. He doesn’t get annoyed as much as I seem to.

Yes, I know this is the challenge of living in a foreign country and I should embrace it and be able to laugh it off.  And most days I can laugh it off.  But sometimes I just want to be back in Oakland, and not smell sewer odors like I am smelling as I write this blog. I want to not be afriad of what will happen when it rains, or not worry about handles constantly falling off things.

More venting…we still have no lease or contract for this rental.  We’ve lived here since Sunday and while we haven’t paid a penny, we have no paperwork. We’ve been told repeatedly that “it’s coming” but we haven’t seen hide nor hair of it. And that makes me nervous. We have already been told that we can’t stay here six-week like we originally agreed to with management  (maybe 5 and a half) and the coveted parking spot we were promised hasn’t materialized yet (maybe Sunday).

Then there is our Spanish classes where I’m lost a great deal of the time, and the fact that my enjoyment of the Olympics has been diminished because we only get it in Spanish. I miss hearing the stories about the athletes. And the fact that I bought the wrong kind of hummus (extra, extra spicy) this week and we won’t get back to the store for several more days because the store is far away and we don’t want to risk giving up the parking spot we currently have.

I know you are all thinking that I sound like a spoiled American brat, and that sucks because I’ve been doing such a pretty good job of rolling with the punches each and every day. I so love Mexico and I know we are so lucky to be here. But its week 13 or maybe even week  14 and I just want things to WORK. Some of you might be asking why we don’t just move to another place. Truthfully this is one of the nicest places we’ve seen.  It really is!

I was telling my mom this story a few days ago and she said I need an attitude adjustment and she’s so right. Thanks, mom!  Nothing works right in her condo in Zihuatanejo. She’s got lists miles long of things that are broken and she’s pays way more than we pay. It’s just different here and the sooner I can accept these differences, the happier I will be. That’s what makes a successful accalamation to a new place. Lowering expectations and not sweating the small stuff.

So now it’s time for this pity party to come to a close.  I hope you have a relaxing weekend. We don’t really have any major plans, but tomorrow there is a music festival we want to check out. And on Wednesday an American friend from Patzcuaro is coming to visit.  Fun times ahead.

Adios for now.

 

 

Smelly Hippie?

Before I hit the open road in May,  I had a vision of myself as a hip backpacker, traveling throughout Mexico with all of my worldly possessions attached to my body. Up until now, this hasn’t happened because we brought way too much stuff with us for me to backpack with. But now, after 12 weeks on the road, I’m finally living the hippie lifestyle sans the smelly clothes, dirty feet and lack of money.

When we visited Zihuatanejo in March to see if wanted to live there,  we lucked out and found a three-bedroom house to rent starting in October.  After putting down the deposit, we asked the owners if we could store stuff there instead of bringing it back to the U.S. and they kindly agreed. We returned to California with much less than we came with.

When we arrived in Mexico in May, we each came with the following items:

  1. Two medium-sized backpacks. We both have backpacks that are wearable and frameless, but they also can be rolled.
  2. Two day packs.
  3.  A HUGE black rolling bag filled with extension cords, house decorations, shoes and spare clothes.
  4. Another box containing two folding chairs, spare towels and Kemo (our stuffed traveling dog).

Because we have access to a rental car, we jam-packed our 2010 Nissan Rogue SUV with our worldly possessions and took it on the road with us.  Everyplace we went, we’d make two or three trips hauling it inside.

Then, two weeks ago, my mom, sister and brother-in-law came to visit us and we met them back in Zihuatanejo. After Zihuatanejo, four of us were planning on going on the road for a week to Patzcuaro, Morelia, San Miguel De Allende, and Guanjuanto. Fitting their stuff and our stuff in the car wasn’t gonna happen.  Andy told me it was time to seriously downsize and so we once again called the people who own the house we will be renting in October and asked if we could store more of our things. They kindly said OK. Score!

But I was worried. Could I do more with less?   I need my stuff!!!

But upon further examination,  I was getting weary of lugging so much stuff around. My backpack was overflowing and was hard to zip  up, even when I rolled (never folded) my clothes.  Additionally,  I really had no idea what was living in my day pack.  And our black spare duffel was filled to the brim. Plus we had an extra bag for shoes, a food bag and a small cooler to pack drinks and snacks for the road.  Oy.

It was time to live my hippie backpack fantasy and repack!!!

Here’s a quick accounting of what I brought with me for the next two months.

two skirts  (one nice jean skirt, and one casual flowery skirt)
three tank tops
four dresses
two pairs of leggings (one jean and one black)
A pair of black yoga pants
four or five shirts
three pairs of shorts (two jean shorts and one black pair) and one pair of workout shorts
one bathing suit
three pairs of socks
7 pairs of underwear
3 bras
five pairs of shoes (too many shoes if you ask me)

Now I feel liberated having so few possessions. All of this easily fit into my large backpack and it’s way easier to keep track of everything.

And we’re starting to realize that with less stuff, there is less stuff to tempt cleaning staff and other assorted workers. This is a good thing.

I’m not sure how I’m going to feel wearing the same outfits day in and day out. I should have just enough variety.  We’ve had very easy access to laundry machines or paid laundry services, so I don’t anticipate this will be a problem. The apartment where we are staying for the next six weeks has a laundry machine.

Take a minute to watch this fantastic video about the city of Guanjuanto, where we’re living for the next five or six weeks.

Here’s a few photo of my luggage.  Not bad for an old lady!

suitcases

The red backpack rolls and can be worn. The other black bag is a regular backpack.

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I may not be a true hippie, but this sure is close to the hippie lifestyle!

 

 

When I was an Ohr groupie- A guest blog

This is a guest blog post from our good friend Kara.

menKara

I first met Kara when we were roomies living in Berkeley. She won the award for being our first guest and wrote this excellent post describing her experiences. She’s won the award for visiting us the most in Mexico. She’s already been to Zihuatanejo twice (once alone and once with her husband, Alex) and she just came back from visiting us in Patzcauro.

You can be like Kara!!!  Her blog, “Be an Ohr Groupie” starts below.

Be an Ohr Groupie! Make Plans to Visit Mexico

How often is is that you have friends with an open door living abroad? The answer for me has been exactly three times and places. Indonesia, Turkey and Mexico.

The first time I didn’t jump. In retrospect I didn’t understand the special opportunity before me. And, the magical Internet didn’t exist, so travel planning was complicated. Fast forward twenty years and I jump to see new places. As a result, I’ve slept in the caves of Pamukkule and seen Stacey and Andy’s smiling mugs in Mexico.

Think about visiting the Mexico!

Of course there is coordination involved and it will be necessary to find a free window of time, but you will:

1. Take a somewhat affordable vacation – Mexico isn’t costly and there are a few airfare options.

2. Enjoy good friends – The Ohrs are the hosts with the mosts and also know how to relax.

3. Have the opportunity to take a short or long trip – Mexican cities are great as a one-off and easy to travel between.

4. Learn some worldly s%*t, or not – Mexico offers tons of culture and plenty of sit-on- your-duff possibilities.

5. Increase the joy in your life – Mexico plus the Ohrs is a formula for happiness.

The Ohr Groupie Experience

Including travel days, I just had time for a six-day trip. To top this off, the Ohrs were in a place of Mexico that I knew nothing about (Morelia and Patzcuaro), so I was thrilled when Stacey and Andy took the reins. It was great time!  In a nutshell my trip included a perfect balance of rest, sight-seeing, eating and drinking, and socializing.

I most enjoyed what I call “Tours De Andy”, where Andy takes you along with Stacey to interesting places and exposes you to traditional foods that he checks off one-by- one on his handwritten lists for each place they visit. It’amazing!!!

Key highlights included drinking coffee while we read to our hearts’ content, wandering the streets, seeing markets filled to the brim, taking day trips to local sites, practicing Spanish, and enjoying local culture. We listened to an impromptu band, ate stuffed churros and local snacks like charlitos, sampled metzcal, watched Stacey find wacky earrings, and saw the Cantoya Festival with tunes from Jenny andthe MexCats.

Airfare

There are lots of options. If travel times and costs are barriers, think about flying a Mexican airline, such as AeroMexico or Volaris. They are safe, easy and more affordable. As an extra bonus for those on the West Coast, the travel time is less and routes more direct. Also, if you can go through San Diego, consider taking the walking bridge directly into the Tijuana airport. I usedthe bridge to take a Volaris flight from Tijuana on my last trip.

There were some different protocols and things to understand, but it was a very straightforward experience for me. I also learned that there are a few options out of Los Angeles. Lastly, I recently heard that Southwest Airlines is increasing flight options to Mexico.

Safety

It’s a good to be aware of what’s going on in Mexico and if it’s going to impact your experience. I’ve found themost up to date information about travel safety in Mexico is the US travel site. It gives you overall country information and then you can look up the specific. If you haven’t been to Mexico before, know that when you first enter the country there is a customs process that involves paperwork, officials, and a possible random luggage scan. Not to worry, Mexican customs officials are very direct.

I am a very adventurous traveler, yet no matter where I travel do some research on what I need to be aware of (or not!) and what I feel comfortable with. Some of the things I like to have answered before I go include:

  1. How will  Itravel from the airport to my destination?
  2. Do I need to have cash on hand (the answer is always yes, both a little USD and local currency)?
  3. What specific issues, if any, do I need to be prepared for? If you’re just not sure, talk to the Ohrs, who gave me real perspectives on what their day-to- day experiences were like. The worst I experienced on my recent trip was a road blocked by cows!
cattleonstreet

Moo-ve over!

Health

Always take smart precautions to stay healthy, such as drinking purified water, making sure food is hot, and being aware of surroundings. Honestly, I have never experienced any issues in Mexico. The worst for me has been a sunburn and a bee sting – both of which were caused by my stupidity, not by Mexico. I carry a small, but well stocked first-aid kit that in all my travels I have rarely used. It includes extra of my prescription medication, first aid cream, bandages, tweezers, pain reliever, alcohol wipes, and extra sunscreen.

Lodging

Mexico offers all sorts of accommodations at great prices. I always ask the Ohrs for recommendations of nice, boutique hotels that will make our visit easy and my stay a treat. My recommendation is to go up-scale in whatever way makes sense for your budget and taste. I’ve enjoyed listening to the waves crash from my balcony, taking a dip in a private pool when the days are hot, waking up to a handmade Mexican breakfast, walking easily to the center Zocalo , and living in a traditional hacienda such as Hotel Casa Encantada. If you feel comfortable remember to ask if there’s a discount for paying in cash, because it can be a significant savings.

Here are some photos of my great trip.

Andydriving

Tour De Andy!

chairchilling

The Ohrs brought these awesome chairs from the U.S. and enjoyed them on the Patzcauro plaza.

Ohrromantic

A romantic alley in Morelia.

cantoyas

Cantoya festival in Patzcauro.