It had been more than a decade since I had been to Mexico.
Mid-Missouri town, about 100 miles from St. Louis, off Interstate 70.
The same Mexico, Mo., that recently received a shout out on national TV from native son Tyronn Lue, coach of the Cleveland Cavs, in the celebration immediately after his team won the NBA title.
That’s been my joke for many years.
Ever been to Mexico, Mac?
Sure. A few years ago. Lunch and a meeting. Great people there. (I’m not always funny but I keep trying nonetheless).
I had never been to the country of Mexico until spending a five-day vacation there earlier this month.
Mexico was everything I expected.
Hot, sunny, humid weather, a lot like St. Louis.
Tourism everywhere. Go here. Go there. Try this. Experience that.
Sandy beaches, almost as picturesque as the photos on the travel agency’s website.
Preparing for Mexico was unlike other vacations.
Usually, I make a list of “Things To Do.”
For Mexico, it was “Things Not To Do.”
I did not drink the local water. But I spent a lot of time drinking everything but water. We stayed at an all-inclusive resort where we enjoyed an assortment of frozen, fruity refreshments that we drank quickly before they melted. Funny. I avoided the tap water, but was fine with the ice and frozen drinks.
Food was OK in Mexico. I spent a lot of time in quest of American food like hot dogs, cheeseburgers, chicken wings, ice cream. I found them. A lesson learned: When in Mexico, eat Mexican food. For the record, the ice cream in Mexico was too soupy, due to the heat. I would have cashed in my pocket of pesos to have one of those airport Ted Drewes vending machines at the resort.
I avoided local hot sauce and chiles, random shots of tequila, and wearing any sort of traditional Mexican hats or shawls that would have made an Irish guy look more unnatural than he does naturally on the beach.
I avoided using my rusty, high school Spanish in public. Good move. It wasn’t good in high school, either. It was mostly written on my hands and arms for tests.
I figured I’d be the whitest guy in Mexico. Believe it or not, there were a few families from Missouri staying at the same resort. The teen boys had farmer tans that made me look like George Hamilton. Well, maybe George Patton or George Harrison. At least, I have freckles.
Regardless of my 100 SPF sunscreen, I managed to get sunburned. I managed to keep the tops of my feet white. My ears took a sun beating, though.
I enjoyed the beach in early morning when I went down to save prime spots for the family. Sand may be annoying, but the sound of waves is peaceful.
In hindsight, here are a few postcards from five days in Mexico:
- Sunscreen or not, you are going to get plenty of sun in Mexico. Goes with the vacation. If you don’t like cold weather, don’t go to Alaska. Tip: Don’t forget sunscreen on your ears!
- A touch of home. It was good to see a few Cardinals and Blues hats on tourists in Mexico. When you’re away from home, it always feels good to see a piece of home.
- A lot of white cars in Mexico. We ventured away from the resort only once. While on our bus, I noticed a lot of white cars on the roadways. It made me think about the benefits to an all-white-car world. It sure would simplify the car-buying experience.
- Never pay full price in Mexico. I bought a pack of cigars on the beach for $20 after we started the conversation at $80. I talked a beach bartender from another resort into selling us a half dozen Bud Lights for $20. I learned in Mexico, every tagged price is negotiable. And everything has its price.
- Best deals! The best vacation shopping was at the Cancun airport. Just outside of the security lines, it was like a garage sale of new, quality name brands. We stocked up on chocolate.
Would I go back to Mexico someday?
Sure, both the country and the mid-Missouri city.