When we went to Mexico, we already knew we wanted to take the GoPro. It was our first time using one, so there was, and still is, a definite learning curve. 3 lessons we learned the hard way:
1. When it is raining or humid, always wipe off the GoPro screen for a clear picture!
2. Take the camera everywhere and always film for the best footage.
3. Hold the camera as still as possible!Using what we learned, I hope that next time we travel, we will be able to get a better video!
Our resort was about 3 miles out on the coast from the main highway. A long, lonely, and curvy road led to the resort. The road was surrounded by swamp and mangrove area. Spencer and I wanted to get into town to look at some of the authentic culture and architecture, however, the taxis would charge $40 to take this three mile trip (not even round trip!). We set out on our mission: to walk to the main road and from there, hail a shuttle into town.
The day started off and immediately we knew it was going to rain all day. By rain, I don't mean drizzle. It was pouring! This wasn't going to stop our adventure though, that would be a waste of a day on our trip! We set out to find rain ponchos somewhere in the hotel. After looking in the gift shops, asking employees and customer service, we made a rash decision... We used trash bags. This was a search itself too! Finally we found bags large enough after talking to some of the landscapers. We punched holes in the bags for our arms and heads, grabbed our gear, and began to walk.
The entrance has two security stations, about 2 miles apart from each other. These are to make sure that people entering are safe and to check on guests. We passed the first security station, asking the attendant if it is okay that we walk. She hailed us on, and we thought nothing of it. About 1/4 of a mile in, we were drenched! I was constantly spitting rain water out of my mouth from it dripping down my face. It was so much fun to experience the tropical rain in such a raw manner. The rain is warm, so it really didn't bother us to be soaked. We continued walking on the very shoulder of the road; the road was narrow and had traffic coming from both directions. About a mile and a half in on our walk, a small pickup truck passed us and I mentioned it to Spencer. He told me that the next time we see one, we should flag it down. 10 minutes later, it happened again! Spencer stuck out his thumb and the small truck pulled over. It was driven by one of the workers, and had two others in the back covering themselves with plastic contraptions similar to our own. We climbed in the bed of the truck, said hello, and drove with them to the main road and passed the entrance security.
When we reached the main road, the truck stopped, we said thank you, and hopped out. No one wondered where we were going, or asked for anything in return. I appreciated that gesture of help, and heard from Spencer that it is normal to hitch rides from randoms like that. At least when he was in Guatemala, he said it was the norm.
We waited on the side of the freeway until a shuttle saw us and pulled over, offering a ride into town for 15 pesos. We hopped on, I apologized in broken Spanish to my seat mate for getting them wet, and we were off!
Once in town it was easy to walk around and find shops filled with handmade art and baked goods. We walked around on the tourist free streets (it was raining, no one wanted to come out) and looked for presents to bring home to our 8-year-old Sunday School class. Finally, we landed in a small shop with trinkets, and bracelets, and bags, and stone art. It was fantastic and authentic and beautiful. As we bargained our way around the shop, I could feel the hard work put into this man's dreams. He was there every morning opening his shop and waiting for customers. He sold his own artistry, as well as those pieces he handpicked or sold for family and friends. We left the shop with 6 bracelets and a small bobble head in tow. I said a sad goodbye to the stone molcajete bowl (used to grind spices); it was something I desired for my future kitchen, but it weighed about 20 pounds and I wasn't sure we would have room for that in our luggage. "Until next time," I said.
The journey back was a bit more confusing. We missed our stop on the shuttle back because we didn't notice the entrance as we drove by and didn't tell the driver until the bus had shot passed. We stopped at the nearest station and jumped back on another shuttle going the opposite direction. This time we made sure to know exactly where to get off. To stop the bus, people said "bajo" and the bus driver would screeche to a halt for those wanting to exit. It was interesting to see that although there were bus depots, there were no true bus stops. The shuttle simply stopped for people on the side of the road, asked if they needed a ride, and then moved on. The riders were completely responsible for letting the driver know when they needed off, and he would stop just about anywhere.
Once we got back to the entrance of The Royalton, we started walking and knew that there would be some sort of interaction with the first security office. We hadn't originally met with this officer, so he didn't know that anyone had left. When he saw us standing there soaking wet, Spencer joked in Spanish, and we all chuckled (even though I only understood a little of what the two were saying). The security started asking us how we had traveled out, and got wide-eyed saying "peligroso" (or dangerous) many times. Apparently the road we had been walking on had a family of alligators, seen pretty often, living around it. He mentioned that the biggest one, the dad, was 15 feet long. We waited inside his station (a small white room, with only a bathroom and a fan for AC) while he looked for someone to help take us back in. The shuttles that transfer people back and forth into the resort aren't allowed to take on customers halfway through their route because they are often privately paid for shuttles. After about a half hour, the boyfriend of one of the staff drove up to the station. He was on his way to pick her up from work and said he could take us back. After a long ay of walking and being drenched, Spencer and I could not have been more thankful. It is amazing how kind and helpful everyone was along our journey.
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