Saturday, March 22, 2014

Our Mexico Vacation

We just returned yesterday from another wonderful trip to Mexico.  We spent four nights in Mazatlan plus two in Dallas (flying out of DFW saved quite a bit of money).  We did a lot of relaxing plus a couple of adventurous excursions.  I was able to practice my Spanish and felt like my language skills really got a boost, even in that short amount of time.

Some of the highlights of the trip included:

My first visit to Ikea!  We went down to Dallas a little early last Saturday and took the time to stop at the store.  And by "stop in" I mean spend at least two hours there.  My mind was totally blown when I walked in, and I wanted to buy everything!!  Sadly (or maybe luckily), most of the bigger furniture items wouldn't fit in my little car, but we still managed to take home quite a haul including a lamp, end table (for $8!!!), kitchen gadgets, a cute vase, closet organizer, and more.

The Riu Emerald Bay resort. The weather in Mazatlan was amazing (85 and sunny every single day), and our resort was gorgeous.  We stayed at the all-inclusive Riu Emerald Bay.  The facilities were very well-kept, and all of the workers were extremely nice.  Every single room at this resort has a full ocean-front view, and the restaurants, bars, five pools, and beach are just steps away.  And, for the times you didn't want to leave your room, there was a fully stocked mini-fridge and a liquor dispenser!

 Exploring the city of Mazatlan.  We went into the city on a tour one day, and we got to see things like the town center and cathedral, local market, boardwalk, cliff divers, and more.  I loved getting to experience some real Mexican culture, and I only wish the tour had given us a little more freedom to walk around on our own.  Jay and I both agreed that next time we will skip the tour and just get in a cab and start exploring.  We still got a good taste of the city, and I will have lots of fun pictures and stories to share with my Spanish class when I go back on Monday!

Whale-watching tour.  This was one of the best excursions I have ever done in Mexico.  We signed up with a company called Onca Explorations, which does a lot of research and monitoring of the marine life in Mazatlan.  We went out on small boat with just a few other tourists in search of whales and other wild animals.  The tour guides are also researchers, so they were very knowledgeable and explained everything that they were doing in detail.  We used a hydrophone to help us search for the whales, and luckily we were able to find a group of three humpbacks that were in transit together.  We followed them for a while and got up really close!  We also saw wild dolphins and sea lions.  It was so cool!

Shopping.  There were tons of vendors that set up on the beach near our hotel, and I loved shopping and practicing my bartering skills in Spanish.  Jay and I both got some fun knock-off sunglasses that we wouldn't have to worry about losing on the trip, and I got this cute swimsuit cover-up.
The beach!  The beach in Mazatlan was really nice and clean.  The waves were fairly calm, and we got in the ocean on several occasions.  Our resort was on the end of a long stretch of beach, so we went on a long run one morning and several walks throughout the week.

Some downsides of the trip...

The food.  The food wasn't bad, but almost all of the restaurants were buffet-style.  Although they had a really wide variety, I still got pretty tired of it by the end.  It seemed like every night was the same foods prepared in slightly different ways.  Even the "specialty" restaurants felt like more of the same.  I did a decent job of eating healthy, but it was still nothing like my diet at home.  It is impossible when you have no control over the food quality or how it is prepared.  And something Jay ate didn't agree with his stomach so well, and he was a little sick on our last night.

The entertainment.  The Riu didn't have as many organized activities as at other resorts we've stayed in.  I played bingo a couple times and one night Jay and I participated in a beach volleyball game, but for the most part the entertainment activities weren't very well planned.  We wished we had brought our own frisbee or more books to read for the times we spent at the pool or beach.  The shows at night, however, weren't half-bad!

The travel.  After the three hour drive to Dallas, we still had a really long flight to Mazatlan.  We had to change planes in Mexico City, both times with a long layover.  It was just too much travel for a four-night trip.  Next time, we will either be sure to fly out of OKC, or at least get a direct flight if we do fly out of Dallas.

Overall, it was a really good trip.  I am already starting to think about when we can go back again!  We'd love to go with a group of friends or family next time.
As fun as it is to travel, there is no place like home.  I will be glad to get back to my normal routine again!  Adios!

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