This is a guest blog post from our good friend Kara.
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.
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.
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:
- How will Itravel from the airport to my destination?
- Do I need to have cash on hand (the answer is always yes, both a little USD and local currency)?
- 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!
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.
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.