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Vacation Journal
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What We Learned on Our Spring Break

By: roundhouseeditor (View Profile)
Date: 4/27/2006

From the moment we stepped foot on Mexican soil (well, it was either polished granite or marble...very beautiful), we made mistakes. Here is a hopefully humorous look at those mistakes and what we learned from them, so that maybe you won't make the same ones.

#1: 150 pesos is not $1.50, it's $15. In the Mexico City airport (which is way nicer than JFK from the bathrooms on up), waiting for connecting flight, recently acquired pesos in our pockets, and we buy two costume jewelry bracelets from a kiosk, thinking we only spent a few bucks. Sooner or later we figured it out and said, Well?! Whaddayagonnado? Mistake #1.

#2: Don't promise to call home every day. It's just too hard to accomplish.

#3: This is a combination one. It's actually a very long walk around the northern tip of the island from Posada (the lighthouse) to the Avalon bridge. / You really do need to reapply sunblock every 2-3 hours. / Bring the sunblock with you whereever you go. Day 1: The girls already anxious for "something to do," I said, Okay, Let's go snorkeling and leave Grandma by the pool for some quiet relaxation time. We'll travel light: a pareo, our snorkel gear, and hats. It's a small island, we'll just start walking around Playa Norte and boom, there'll be the bridge to Avalon. Alas, this is not so. It's a long walk. My girls and I trudged along past countless bathers and frolickers, probably the most crowded it ever gets there. Eventually we made it. We snorkeled under the bridge and in the cove, saw our first fish, then emerged on Avalon's island, walked right in, found King's Bath, and had a ball. Hanging out on the far side of the pool waiting for a wave to crash over the top and splash you over the head was SO much fun. I laughed and laughed! When it was time to go, I was determined to get back to Posada more quickly, theoretically by heading straight across the island instead of around it, so I headed straight off the bridge this time, but when I got to the end of the road, I turned right which led us right back to the beach. Wrong turn, I guess. Back to trudging, the girls tired and complaining, and my swim shoe rubbing the back of my heel which is in turn actually bleeding on the shoe. We finally made it back, but the girls got totally sunburned on our first day and it's all my fault for not thinking to bring sunblock.

#4: Keep track of your things. We lost two hats, two snorkel masks (which we soon recovered), a necklace of Becca's, Emma's whole pocketbook which contained a new necklace and bracelet (I think she left it on the golf cart on the side of the road when we went shelling and someone swiped it; just too tempting), and well, my sanity.

#5: Do not stay in a ground floor room at the Posada. Granted, it was convenient and easy for Mom: close to pool, bar, front desk. But no balcony from which to hang your suits and things to dry (just a plastic chair or two), no window to open, no privacy: we rarely even wanted to open the curtains, and since on the first floor, you wouldn't leave your door open for air all night. Had to use the A/C which was loud.

#6: Lunch should not cost the same as dinner. And breakfast does not always have to be a big one; muffins and coffee/tea, fresh oj or a smoothie should be just fine.

#7: Do not shop between 12 & 3, the hottest time of day. We had to learn this twice. Then again, I ended up having one of my two private moments because of this. We found ourselves doing just that, everyone was frying, so I sent them back to the hotel to chill by the pool, while I braved the heat and went on to the ATM. Finally! Three ball & chains gone! I could walk at my own pace, not constantly and simultaneously keeping track of the girls up ahead and my mom dragging behind. I could look at things, even try a couple of things on, without someone interrupting my train of thought, going, Mommy, look!. It was hot, I was sweating, but I DID NOT CARE.

#8: A taxi across the street from the ferry terminal to Xcaret is only $45 (or $450 pesos), not $80-100 as their website said. At Xcaret it was posted as $48 to the ferry terminal, but since we were dropping friends off in Playa del Carmen, he only charged us $45. We got the last taxi, too.

#9: Taxi drivers do not mind giving the finger to another driver in front of your children.

#10: Every shop is a head shop on Isla. My kids noticed a lot of pipes, but must have assumed they were for tobacco, since they didn't ask about them in spite of the DARE program. However, you might want to go *inside* a shop ahead of your kids to scope out where the big penis pipes are. I especially loved the moment my kid held up a T shirt and said Look Mommy, it's got a big leaf on it, can I get it? I exchanged a look with my mom, smothered a giggle, and just whispered that it was a big marijuana leaf and to please put it back.

#11: Do not ride the ferry on an empty stomach. Last day, on our way out, we thought we'd "treat" the girls and get them breakfast at Micky D's in Cancun. Bad idea. (Me? I felt fine, but the others felt queasy.)

#12: Do not buy candy bars at the Mexico City Airport. I didn't even think to look at the price, bought three candy bars, some gum, and a short can of Pringles, cost? 150 pesos. Yikes!

#13: You can't buy Duty Free in Cancun if you are travelling to Mexico City (not an international flight). We found this out only after shopping around the store and lugging stuff to the cashier. I guess we're just stoopit. However, the ball and chain highly recommends the chocolate encased Jose Cuervo.

#14: Mexican candy has chili in it. So do the Doritos.

#15: My watch is waterproof.

#16: This time, fine; but next time, leave the children home. I need a vacation!


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