Monday, January 05, 2009

We need to get away

It's only the fifth day of the new year and I'm already struck with a bad case of cabin fever. We were successful in clearing out all the Christmas decorations right away, and the tree is out at the curb as I type this. I'm eager for 2009 to be a more active year than 2008, but it's hard to warm the body up to run when it's 8 degrees outside.

One of the things we've been doing to pass the time is think about how to use an airline voucher that we have. It's the result of canceling our Las Vegas trip in December since I was too fat, achy and under-trained to run in the Las Vegas Half Marathon like I did the year before. We have to book something by April.

Book what? We both want to go somewhere warmer than Chicago, that's for sure. Well, one thing led to another and I started looking at last-minute deals for all-inclusive resorts in Mexico. The idea of flying in and living in a hermetically sealed tourist bubble for 4 or 5 nights, lying on the beach and soaking in rum, sounds pretty good right now. We've never done anything like that before.

Then I saw a video teaser for the new season of No Reservations. My celebrity lookalike and travel hero Anthony Bourdain visits Mexico in the first episode, and here he is eating fresh tacos from a street vendor:

Dang. I can't have adventures among the street vendors if I'm shacked up at some resort, now, can I? I do know that I want beach if I go to Mexico, and I won't be visiting any place like Mexico City. So I started looking around at smaller places near Playa del Carmen and Tulum, and found a bunch of places that look like perfect tropical hideaways, complete with thatched roofs, white sand beaches, mosquito netting over the beds and food cooked from the local catch.

MizBubs has a birthday coming up at the end of February, and I wanted to time a trip around that. Now I'm learning all I can about Mexican tourism. Right now my choice is this:

1) Be a typical American tourist and stay in an all-inclusive resort, eating, lounging in the sun and boozing it up for one pre-paid price, or

2) Be a slightly less typical American tourist and stay somewhere a little less developed, ignore my total lack of Spanish language skills, and rely on my innate ability to find good food and booze in local shacks and dives.

In the meantime I'm going to stretch some more, ice up my lower back again, and try a short run before I go to work this afternoon.


Randal Graves said...

but it's hard to warm the body up to run when it's 8 degrees outside.

Run in circles around a table or a couch. Feel the burn! Maximize the envelope! Push the zone! Hear me now and believe me later!

SkylersDad said...

Don't stay in one of those sissy resorts for Americans. Go out among the locals and partake in their mystery meats on sticks. Soak up the local culture, barter for your live with machete carrying indigenous folks!

Come on Bubs, live a little!

Flannery Alden said...

Sounds like you could use a dip in a hot tub.

dguzman said...

Just be sure to avoid water, drinking only tequila, beer, etc. That way, you can experience the culture and stuff without getting sick. At least that's what GKL and Vikkitikkitavi advise.

Bill T said...

The Dena & I enjoyed the allinclusive experience in Puerto Vallarta a few years ago. You can use the resort as a base and plan sidetrips.

We got a bus into town. Public transportation is a great way to get local.
When they see your resort wrist band in town the locals will be all over you trying to sell time shares and jungle excursions. That's a good time to practice your fractured spanish.

If you go, we'll be jealous.

Mnmom said...

I like Bill T's idea - the best of both worlds. Lounging like a lazy American poolside sounds kind of nice. But that taco kicks ass!!!
The resorts give you wristbands? So if you drink so much you end up in a coma, the locals know where to dump your drunk ass? That's hysterical. Like letting an inmate out of the asylum on a day pass.

Megan said...

I have street vendors on my block. Tacos carnitas any time and tamales every Sunday morning. I find that holding cash in my hand and pointing works quite well.

I agree with Bill, mix it up!

Bacon Lady said...

Can you guys pack me in your suitcase?

I don't have any vacation plans until December (Disney on Grandma's dime WHOO HOO!), and I'm f-ing freezing over here.

bubbles said...

The place that GKL and Vikki went is a drive from Phoenix. I LOVED it there. There are resort-type condos or beach houses for rent, a small fishing village with street vendors and fresh fish at the market. We rented a condo with a grill on the patio, there was a pool / water slide for the kids, the beach was very nice, lots of vendors selling silver jewelry, mostly. I imagine rental companies let you take cars there if GKL and Vikki did it. The drive is cool because the scenery - desert, cactus, mountains, sand dunes is nice. You drive through a huge National Park on the way. Towns in Mexico aren't scenic, but interesting.

Puerto Penasco, MX aka Rocky Point aka Phoenix's Beach

Phoenix weather is cool, crisp and sunny.

Some Guy said...

bubs, I think both have their appeal. As much as I like to go local when I travel, there is something to be said for the ease of the all-inclusive places. My brother stayed at one and said there were various self-serve liquor taps attached to the wall in his room. The way I figure it, you could drink enough to actually make back the money you spent on the room.

Gifted Typist said...

I cancelled an airmiles trip to Costa Rica (Costa Lotta) for that very dilemma. Went there before and stayed in an all-inclusive. Felt like being on a compound that had no Costa Rican charm or feel to it. By the end we felt imprisoned. Nice but bland and hermetically sealed, as you say. This time we were supposed to do rain forest lodges and self-driving, four-wheel drives and maps. But with only a week we thought it would burn us out and we needed the sort of rest you get in an all-inclusive. So it's a circular argument.

BTW, we're going skiing instead.

Gifted Typist said...

Yoiks, reading that over and feeling guilty. Talk about white man's burden! How lucky we are.

GETkristiLOVE said...

Oh man, the fish tacos off the street vendors in Mexico are da bomb. I vote option #2.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Street food sounds good to me! As long as your hotel is decent and close to the water.

Wren said...

I love your second option, there, Bubs. SO much more fun, and more interesting, than laying around a resort, eating and drinking 24/7. I think you'll have a marvelous time and Mizz Bubs is gonna love her birthday. There really is nothing like a REAL taco. What a great idea!

And of course, we'll all be waiting to read all about your adventures upon your return. You couldn't have any of those in a resort, you know?

Tanya Espanya said...

We're going to San Diego from Feb 1 to March 8, come visit us!

P.S. Can you please resend me your mailing address, I lost all my bloggies addresses because I am a mental defective.

Tenacious S said...

I love Puerto Vallarta. It is big enough to have some resorts, but small enough that it is easy to get around and you can kind of get lost wandering on foot. We stayed at a "semi-inclusive resort" where we got a huge brunch and then were on our own for dinner, which was great incentive to get our butts out of the pool with the swim up bar and into town for some awesome eats. Wherever you go, you'll love Mexico.

Dena said...

I can also vouch for Puerto Vallarta, and I'll check to get the name of the resort we stayed at. The food and pools were amazing, the beach was right there, the accommodations were very nice, and the staff and locals were friendly.

The only part I didn't care for was the hard sell we got when we went into town, but I'm still very glad we did. Lots of great Huichol art available in that region, too.

I'm off to Philadelphia next month myself, as I have a perfect ticket for a Rufus Wainwright show at Verizon Hall and plan to visit the Mutter Museum the day of the show. I'm taking Amtrak to save a few bucks.

lulu said...

I've not been to Mexico, but having stayed at a big resort last fall in Phuket, I have to say that there is a certain appeal to being taken care of and not having to do anything but order drinks and lounge by the pool. If you are really tired and stressed out, it sure is relaxing, but I think you would be bored after a couple of days. I would vote for the combo plan, nice resort, but close enough to town to walk in and buy meat on a stick.

justacoolcat said...

My parents are hitting the Sea of Cortez this winter. I've always wanted to explore that part of Mexico.

We were going to stay home, but now we're starting to think Jamaica.

Yes, you should go to Jamaica.