In all honesty, Mexico has been pretty low on my list of travel destinations. With all the negative press coming out of the border towns, and the wild partying in Cancun, I had never really considered Mexico as somewhere I would want to visit. Of course, I was biasing an entire country on a few small areas, which is bad! Don’t do that! But after some research, and a two week trip to the Baja Peninsula of Mexico, I can wholeheartedly say, I’m in LOVE! Heading to an area of Mexico that is much less populated by tourists, I didn’t know what I was walking into. I was surprised by many things, these 10 being the most notable on my adventure in the Mexican desert.
1. The Bugs (or lack thereof)
Most places I’ve been that bring a warmer climate also bring bugs, so many bugs. Creepy crawly spiders and giant bee-like things. And for some reason, bugs love me. I can get bitten 25 times while standing next to someone who doesn’t get bit at all (true story). So you can probably guess that I was pleasantly surprised by the low number of these critters during my stay. Of course there were a few, and I got quite a few bites, but nothing to freak out my normally skittish self! Keep in mind, we were visiting in March, so maybe they just weren’t out yet? Whatever the reason, it was alright with me!
2. Nobody Speaks English!
While staying in a town of only 14,000 people, I was surprised to find that very few people speak fluent english. Even at our resort, the majority of staff knew only very basic English, which led to some interested attempts at conversation. My boyfriend knows zero Spanish, and my knowledge goes as far as a few sentences. So if you’re planning on visiting a smaller Mexican town, maybe brush up on the language a bit, or at least bring a phrase book along with you.
3. It’s Very Safe
I was a little worried about visiting a rural town, as Mexico is sometimes given a bad rep and made out to be a dangerous place. You do need to be more vigilant while visiting, but this can be said for visiting any new place. Everyone is very friendly and willing to help a lost tourist in the downtown streets.
4. The Juxtaposing Landscapes
Loreto… Where the mountains come to swim, and the sea and desert meet.
Most tropical locations I have visited are flat, flat, flat, with the ocean being the main attraction. In Mexico, that is not the case. The first thing I noticed while hopping off the plane was the mountains. They seem to just shoot up right out of the sea and form a jagged horizon everywhere you turn.
5. The Marine Life
The Baja Peninsula of Mexico runs down the western side of the country and is bordered by the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez. We were staying on the Sea of Cortez side, and I can honestly say I’ve never seen so much ocean life! Blue whales, sea lions, sea turtles, common dolphins, bottle-nosed dolphins, puffer fish, the list goes on! You can stand on the shore and see fish swimming around a stones throw away.
6. The Humidity
Most places I have visited with a hotter climate end up being extremely humid. The kind of humid where you feel sticky all the time and can’t wear makeup for fear of it melting off your face. Mexico, or at least, the more western side of Mexico, is not like that. It’s hot, don’t get me wrong, but a drier kind of hot – which makes sense given it’s a desert…
7. They Put Refried Beans on Everything
Nachos, sandwiches, wraps, burritos, just a dolup on the side of the plate. You name it. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though, and they added a nice touch to all the dishes I tried. But if you don’t like them, definitely make sure to specify that with the waiter.
8. It’s Not as Cheap as You’d Think
At least for Canadian’s like myself. With the exchange rate being around 13:1 when I travelled there, I was thinking I would be living like a king! Unfortunately, that was not the case. The prices were very comparable to Canada, with meals averaging out to around $25.00 Canadian. Of course there were many cheaper places, and many more expensive ones, but on average, it was like being anywhere in North America.
9. Small Towns = No Young Travellers
If I have to hear, “wow it must be very quiet for you two in Loreto” one more time… It’s well known that the majority of young travellers head to the party towns while in Mexico. But, I didn’t realize just how true this was. We saw very few other young couples while travelling, the majority of tourists being over 50 years old.
10. Whales Are a Huge Tourist Attraction
We coincidentally visited Loreto during its Blue Whale Festival, when the blue whales are migrating through the Sea of Cortez. This brought many tourists to the area in hopes of seeing the largest animal on earth. You can also see killer whales on the sea as well. On the Pacific side of the Baja, you can take tours to watch grey whales and humpbacks too! We were lucky enough to see several blue whales up close on two tours we did!
Mexico is an amazing country with activities and sights everyone will enjoy. Although it wasn’t my top travel destination a month ago, now I definitely plan on visiting again!
Over to you: Have you ever been to Mexico? What surprised you?
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