Three Weeks in México

In this post, I share my thoughts after coming back from vacation right back into a pandemic. I tell a bit about how my fiancée and I planned our vacation and some highlights from the trip itself.

My fiancée and I returned from our three-week vacation in México on March 14th. On March 16th, Lithuania and an eight other EU states have sealed their borders due to COVID-19 pandemic. On March 18th, most travels to the EU was restricted. We got lucky and got home just in time.

We’ve been spending time at home ever since. I’ve never worked for so many consecutive days remotely. After an extended vacation and a week of remote work, I genuinely miss the office and especially the people. In the past, as an introvert, I used to try to avoid social activity. But as I learned to manage my energy levels, I enjoy and miss it. Video calls can’t replace real interactions.

COVID-19 pandemic is in full swing. As I write this on March 22nd, I expect to work from home at least until May 1st. While it’s unclear when we’ll leave home, someday we will. In the meantime, wash your hands with soap, don’t touch your face, stay at home and help flatten the curve.

I luckily got the chance to enjoy three weeks in México before the pandemic. We’ve started planning the trip back in May. The only thing we knew at that point - it’s going to be three weeks. I took three-week vacations multiple times in the past. Extended vacations allow me to truly forget everything else going on back at home and work. I come back refreshed and reinvigorated. The seemingly hard problems seem much more straightforward after vacation.

We were not sure where we want to go, so we started by making a shortlist of countries. We proceeded to wind that list down to a couple of finalists - Brazil and México. We picked México primarily because of the country’s food culture. And when I say “we picked”, I mean “I pushed for it”. If you’re surprised, take a gander at my instagram or read my review of The Food Lab.

We then proceeded to make a plan for our vacation. We created a google sheet with our itinerary for the whole trip. I removed some personal information from our Mexico vacation itinerary and made it public here. Feel free to use it as a template for your vacation. I’ve previously shared it with one of my friends, and he found it quite useful. I hope that someone else also will.

We didn’t end up following the plan exactly (as is true for most plans). We would also change a couple of things. We would skip Tulum, and use those days somewhere else. For our lazy not-in-a-hurry travel style, we would like one less location. At least one of those days would end up being an additional day in Isla Mujeres.

Before the trip, we were slightly worried about our safety when in México. Both violent and non-violent crime is common throughout the state. The word “cartel” is often used in conjunction with México. We were reassured by reading that crime is mostly encountered in the northern parts and not in the touristy parts of the country. The government also cracks down hard on crime against tourists - as tourism creates significant revenue.

Still, on the first day in México City, I was wary. I didn’t want anything bad to happen to us. My wariness was overblown. For most of the trip, we felt completely safe.

The most significant incident happened on our third day. On our way Xochimilco, a neighbourhood in México City, we got the experience an attempt at a scam. Our taxi was approached by a scooter-riding local, who tried to convince us that the road is closed up ahead and we should take a different route. The good thing was that I’ve accidentally read about this scam before we got on the taxi. We still experienced several nerve-wracking minutes as we were convincing the taxi driver to not listen to the supposed government official. All ends that end well.

The food in México is terrific. Tacos, tamales, gorditas, chorizo, chocolate - I already miss all of them and much more. It’s very different from the Mexican food I’ve experienced in Europe. Even more distinct than the Vietnamese food in Europe from the Vietnamese food in Vietnam.

During the whole trip, we mostly ate in places frequented by the locals. Our only splurge was a months-ago booked dinner at the world’s 23rd best restaurant - Quintonil. We found the placing to be well deserved.

The trip contained more highlights than I can list. We’ve enjoyed rich Aztec and Mayan history and culture (Puebla is a must-see), Lucha libre, mezcal, agave fields, colourful cities, indigenous towns, beautiful nature and serene beaches.

Vacations also always make me appreciate the fact that people are people everywhere. Mexicans are not that different from Lithuanians. Similar worries and similar joys. I sometimes forget that as I plan the trip and start reading about cartels.

Hope that a post about travelling didn’t annoy too much at this time when we all are stuck at home. And again, hope that someone will find the our planning template useful.