Wednesday, January 23, 2013

usbackroads destinatiion--Cancun Staging Area, Mexico

usbackroads destination--Cancun Staging Area, Mexico

Cancun a usbackroads destination?  Well, maybe.  All backroads destinations require a staging area from which to launch into the backroads.

So when we were offered a house trade in the Yucatan we said sure.  It sounds like a backroads destination without the us in front of it.  More on this later.

In all expeditions, there is a staging area where you get ready for the trip into the backroads area.  In the case of Lewis and Clark it was Wood River, Illinois.  Well, a trip to the Yucatan in 2013 does not quite measure up to the Lewis and Clark expedition.

However, we have always find it useful to find a "staging area" prior to leaving for backroads destinations.

The criteria is that they had to be close to the airport, fairly inexpensive, and provided an opportunity to gather needed supplies and intelligence to continue the journey.  With the exception of the airport it was similar to the requirements for a staging area for the Lewis and Clark expedition.

All those years working for the Forest Service and others emphasized the importance of a good staging area.  On a bike tour of Europe in 1976 it was a week in London, buying the bicycles, maps and other needed supplies for a bicycle tour of Europe.   The Forest Service always planned a staging area for work trips into the back-country.  So after a few years it just became a part of our trip planning.

OK, Cancun is a lousy staging area.  But it does have some advantages.  We booked the trip through Costco.   They were able to negotiate a discounted airfare.  So by our calculations the three nights in Cancun cost us $75 per night for ALL FOOD, LODGING, and ALCOHOL. For both of us.  Good food.  Acceptable wine.  Decent view.  We even had a hot tub in the hotel room.

The temptation was high to stay a bit longer.  In the past, we have done this on trips to Mexico with Alaska Airlines and found the same good locations and deals.

We learned that the Yucatan is very popular with Europeans who insist on "all inclusive" vacations.

One price for everything.  Show up and leave without spending an extra nickle.  Our observation was that most Europeans did exactly that.  They came for the warm weather and spent the entire time by the pool drinking pre-paid booze.

So we enjoyed our time in Cancun even though it was not a backroads destination.  It did give us time to get ready for the rest of the trip.

We got to see a lot of stuff just from the hotel room.  People frolicking directly below.

People executing some pretty important decisions.  Not sure I would do this in Cancun.

Then again, you get to share the beach and everything else with thousands of people.  I believe somebody once called it "industrial tourism".

It was however, an enjoyable three days.  Great service from Angel at the Seafood restaurant.  It was actually pretty good food and by the third night Angel did bring special foods for each to sample.

So that all inclusive deal is pretty good as long as you know what your going to get.  Industrial tourism.  Nothing bad about it, but definitely not backroads.

It was fun to walk to beaches of Cancun and I did learn a lot on my short walks along the beach.

Now going "au natural" is a backroads proposition for Americans. Well, for the Europeans it is a part of the vacation.   So maybe that qualifies Cancun as a usbackroads destination?


I did learn a few things.  Now up on ski slopes they "groom" the slopes prior to the skier showing up.  Well, guess what in Cancun they "groom" the beaches prior to the sunbathers showing up.   So really, the only natural part of the beach at Cancun is the "au natural" part.

Across from our hotel were some Mayan ruins.  We decided to pass on those.  Walking along the beach we noticed this next to our hotel.

It takes thousands of years for Mayan ruins to become a tourist attraction.  The "hotel" managed to become a ruin in less than 30 years.  Any bets on it becoming a tourist attraction??

After three nights we were ready to get to our backroads destination.  A few bus changes and four sets of luggage to haul around and we should be there in four hours.  A taxi driver convinced us that for $50 US that would be shortened to one hour and fifteen minutes with door to door service.  That and a couple of quesy stomachs convinced us that the taxi ride might be the better deal.  It was, a great ride talking about the Yucatan with the driver was worth the price alone, not to mention that door to door service.

More on the Yucatan soon.  mxbackroads??

Book Read:  Travels in Siberia by Ian Frazier.  The author has three strikes against him.  The first is graduating from Harvard.  The second is writing for the New Yorker and the third is being in love with the Slavic culture of east of Poland.  However, in spite of those handicaps he has written a very good book on the current state of Russia and Siberia.   Reading the book you will get a very good picture of life in current day Russia.  Not the life of Moscow and the oligarchs, but the life of the everyday Russian.   If you want to get a sense of life on the other side of the planet read this book.  It does get slow at times and yes he makes plenty of excuses for the culture.  But if you want to try and understand  today's Russia this book is a good place to start.  It is about Siberian backroads and matches my experience in the Russian Far East.

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