A Travellerspoint blog

December 2021

Learning to Swim in Puerto Morelos

semi-overcast 28 °C

You learn a lot from a two-year-old. You discover that overcoming the frustration of learning a new language (in my case Spanish) requires total immersion and constant practice. The two-year-old knows this. They speak in incomprehensible syllables for months and then one day...out come complete sentences and amusing observations.

We've been together with Alex, Alanna and Leo in Puerto Morelos now for just under a week, and in that time, we have become schooled in Leo's version of English. Our fiercely independent little grandson has to keep reminding us that "my do myself". He watches us all closely and then mimics what he sees, and does not feel he needs any assistance with his new-found skills.

And so it goes with swimming. Armed with a sunhat, sunscreen and a fancy flotation device, Leo has developed an impressive confidence in his swimming abilities.

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Of course, he is not really swimming, but he is getting the hang of moving his little arms and legs around, and was hugely proud of being able to tell me, "I don't need you Nanny".

Thank goodness, he doesn't always mean that.

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For those of you who are grandparents, you will understand the need to present the following gallery of photos. For everyone else, please bear with me, or just scroll down a bit.

Fun with Grandpa

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Leo was quite fascinated with the coconut palms, and kept picking up dirty old coconuts off the ground. Alanna bought all of us fresh coconut drinks and brought them down to the beach, but not before Leo had the chance to watch the coconuts being hacked off the tree and opened with a machete, and then served with a straw. Voila - the freshest coconut water ever. Obviously a big hit.

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There is no arguing with the pure joy of a chocolate ice cream cone.

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Of course, we are just as delighted to be with Leo's parents. Our days together are pretty simple - beach-focused, Leo-centred and relaxed. Swimming, snorkeling, building sand castles, reading, and snacks.

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We've rented apartments within a block of each other, and one block from the beach, which has worked out really well.

We've spent a few Christmases in Mexico in past years and we were always delighted to note that Santa does not need a chimney to visit little children in other parts of the world. In this case, while Frosty is still looking quite buoyant, Santa appears to have faded a bit - he can't quite haul his bag of toys over the balcony.

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Back home, we hang Christmas decorations on our shrubs and our coniferous trees. Here in Mexico, they do the same - only on their palm trees.

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The main square in Puerto Morelos is all lit up for the holidays, which makes it even more of a draw for locals and visitors at night. This is one of the things we love about visiting a warm climate in the winter. The habit of going out for a stroll after dinner is such a natural one - Mexicans don't have to spend months in the cold and the dark, bundled up inside. Every night that we have been here there has been something featured on the bandstand - music, magic acts - maybe a bit corny, certainly not flashy, but heart-warming and very entertaining.

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This Christmas tree ornament has set the scene for hundreds, if not thousands of photo ops. Naturally, we followed suit.

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We enjoyed a non-traditional Christmas dinner last night - steaks at an Argentinian restaurant. We thought about our friends and family members who were celebrating back in Canada - our son Danny and his girlfriend Hazel, and all our extended family and Alanna's parents and her extended family. Impossible for so many people to be together, but it is the season to want to be in touch.

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So back to Puerto Morelos. We were here two years ago and loved the low-key, not-Cancun feel of it. More Mexican than gringo by a long shot, with nary an all-inclusive in sight. Small, low-rise hotels and apartments, loads of great little restaurants, and far more family-oriented than girls-gone-wild. Here are just a few shots of the town to give you an idea.

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Every once in while, you will see a tiny cottage, with bright colours and tin roof, that could be found anywhere in the Caribbean.

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And of course, there is the main attraction - the beach. There are so many things going on.

There is El Faro Inclinado - the Leaning Lighthouse that tilted after Hurricane Beulah in 1967, and was impossible to move. There is another lighthouse that warns sailors of the MesoAmerican Reef, but this one remains as a tourist attraction.

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The military have always been a presence in Mexico, but after recent shootings in Tulum and Puerto Morelos, they have ramped up their numbers and daily beach patrols are a common sight.

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People-watching is the obvious attraction, and this family caught my eye. Very glamorous mum strolled down to the beach in her 5-inch heels and stopped to remove them before stepping down onto the sand. Her two little boys were adorable - a bit shy and both were wearing matching cowboy hats. I just couldn't resist a sneaky shot.

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Fishing boats are a PM fixture.

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So are snorkeling tours.

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Alex and Alanna have had great luck just snorkeling from shore. They go to a spot mid-beach, called Ojo de Agua (eye of water) that on top of having schools of brightly coloured fish, barracuda, and loads of coral, also has a 6-8 foot wide cenote that gushes fresh water into the sea. Stephen and I haven't tried snorkeling there yet, but we'll be sure to fit that in before we leave.

Finally, a couple of shots taken today at the beach. We had a typical early-winter Caribbean day - dramatic clouds, several short tropical downpours, and at least two extravagant rainbows.

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We still have one week left in Puerto Morelos. Alex, Alanna and Leo will be heading back home next Saturday and we'll be beginning to explore other parts of the Yucatan. We will keep you posted - what we're doing, how our trip is changing shape and any info we have regarding Omicron here in Mexico and how it is impacting on the return of tourism.

Posted by millerburr 01:07 Archived in Mexico Tagged landscapes beaches people children sky night boats rainbows mexico christmas swimming snorkeling storms Comments (10)

Perplexed in Puerto Morelos

semi-overcast 28 °C
View Mexico 2021/2022 on millerburr's travel map.

Well, we have done it again. Last January, against our better judgement, we went ahead with our plans to travel to Oaxaca. What began as an intention to live quietly in sun and warmth ( as opposed to living quietly at home in grey and damp) did not go according to plan. When Trudeau announced that regulations were in the works to impose hotel quarantines and to ground planes, we cut our trip short by a month and scurried back home. We literally arrived the day before everything shut down.

This time felt different - everyone we knew was getting out of Dodge. Back in the late summer we were making plans with our family to meet up for a Christmas celebration on the beach. We picked Puerto Morelos for the excellent swimming, snorkelling, child-friendly activities and great range of restaurants. Unfortunately Danny and his girlfriend were not able to come because they only had a week off, but as of last week, it was all set for us and for Alex, Alanna and Leo to meet up.

We flew into Cancun last Tuesday night, after a 2-hour delay in Calgary due to frozen water lines on our plane, followed by an amusing bus tour to Puerto Morelos. I take full credit for the bus trip - a bus and a collectivo, actually, the latter barely boarded after a sweaty and anxious run across the bus terminal, dragging our suitcases behind us. All of this to save $60 on a cab because I had "read somewhere" there was a direct bus.

Never mind - we finally arrived at our cute little Airbnb, dropped off our stuff and then walked into town to pick up a few groceries. On the way back home we stopped for a beer and the always-entertaining spectacle of watching drunk older gringos dancing badly to a local band demolishing Van Morrison tunes.

The next morning we shook off the jet lag and went for a life-affirming walk along the beach, and began to feel as though life might be coming back to normal after all. Then we received a text from Alex asking us if we had heard anything about the travel restrictions that Trudeau was imposing.

Deja vu all over again, only in reverse. Last year we barely made it home and this year, we flew out one day in advance of the travel advisory being implemented. So now we are here and feeling quite confused, concerned and frustrated by the whole thing. Where do we go from here?

Alex, Alanna and Leo have gone ahead with their flight and arrived in Cancun three days ago - we will see them this afternoon and spend the next 12 days enjoying being together. We've spent the past few days watching Mexican families on the beach - we can't wait to see our little nieto join the other children.

For now, that is what we will concentrate on - being together with our family, enjoying the simple beauty of our surroundings, eating fresh and delicious food and wandering around in flip-flops and shorts.

I wondered about writing a blog about our experiences, and I have edited the address list considerably - if you are receiving this it is because I'm hoping you will be interested in following us on this strange and unpredictable trip. I think many of the postings will be very different than any I've done before, as we'll be travelling in a much more careful and considered way, and will be reacting to news of Omicron as it unfolds. Who knows - we may be home again long before we had planned.

This sign was propped against one of the restaurant walls.

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Obviously we are not all infected with Covid, or Delta or Omicron. But we have all been infected with the same sense of dread, uncertainty, fear, even despair, as we grind along into our third winter with no end in sight. Articles abound about the adverse toll this is taking on mental health; certainly I no longer feel the same buoyant optimism I once did about the endless road trip and what lies around each new corner.

We're wondering about the future of travel and what it will look like. How long can communities sustain without tourism dollars? How will individuals regain confidence and curiosity about places that may be forever altered? Covid, combined with our climate crisis - how will that all unfold?

Lots to contemplate, but we can only go with what is in front of us. Today - the sun is shining and we are about to go to the beach. I'll keep you posted about our experiences, our conversations with others and our impressions as we travel along.

My next posting will be photo-heavy, and word-light(er)!

Posted by millerburr 17:18 Archived in Mexico Comments (15)

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