My first trip to Mexico was in 1984. I had convinced a friend from college to apply for a position with ClubMed. At the time ClubMed was a top choice for singles looking to mingle. I actually called Club Med and told them about my friend. “Can she complete the application in French?” I said yes, without even knowing the answer. Turned out, the Recreation and Leisure major also knew French. The friend ended up in Haiti, Guadeloupe, and then Mexico. At the time, US citizens working for ClubMed had to do three six month rotations, in North America, before applying for a spot outside the America zone. So, while the friend was in Mexico and I showed up, literally. I talked my way onto the gated compound and ended up with a $235.00 friend’s rate for my seven day stay.
My second visit to Mexico was twelve years later. I booked an all inclusive package, via Expedia, and headed to Puerto Vallarta. Other than walking down to the beach, once, and maybe leaving the hotel to venture over to a Hard Rock Cafe, I saw nothing of Mexico. Mexico was dangerous. It was best to not venture too far from the safety of the resort hotel. Fast forward to 2022 and theses days US seniors, Mexican Americans, and a large number of young American nomads, are relocating to Mexico. And, perhaps not so surprising, a growing number of African Americans, of all ages, are relocating to Mérida (the vibrant capital of the Mexican state of Yucatán) and to Mexico City.
My recent trip south of the border was a personal toe in the water. Originally, my plan was to head to Guam, once my Americorps service in Alaska ended, last May. The price tag for airfare and lodging, over the summer, put that plan on hold. On top of that, I recently reached social security age and decided to make sure everything was in place, before heading overseas. After viewing tons of YouTube videos, I selected Puerto Escondido and booked a week’s stay at Casa Losodeli & Coworking.
Casa Losodeli is less than six minutes from the airport, a ten minute walk from the beach, and surrounded by neighborhood bars, restaurants, and cafes. On site, there’s an outdoor pool, co-working space, free wifi, cafe, communal area (with shared kitchen), and a bar. The bicycle rentals are also free. I opted for a fully equipped apartment, over the shared dorm room option. This was a birthday trip, after all, and the suite gave me the sense of staying in an AirB&B, while also being surrounded by other nomads.
No longer a best kept secret, Puerto Escondido sits on the West Coast of Mexico, in the state of Oaxaca. With Pacific waters warmer than Hawaii, PE’s Playa Zicatela is home to the Mexican Pipeline. That’s just one of the beach options. I decided to stick with the locals and became a frequent visitor to Playa Manzanillo and the connecting Puerto Angelito. The entrance to both are situated at the end of a parking lot, followed by a dirt trail. Go left for Playa Manzanillo or right for Puerto Angelito. There’s a walkway between the two beaches, after making your way down to the oceanfront.
A month prior to my trip the travel advisory for US citizens was as follows: “Reconsider travel due to crime and kidnapping. Both violent and non-violent crime are common throughout Mexico state. Use caution in areas outside of the frequented tourist areas, although petty crime occurs frequently in tourist areas as well. U.S. citizens and LPRs have been victims of kidnapping.” So, off I went. I speak no Spanish. Yes, of course, I took high school Spanish. I simply graduated from high school in 1974! So, why take the risk? For starts, I was born and raised in Detroit. Hence, the name of my travel blog. When you’re from Detroit, where can’t you travel?
This is what I now know about Mexico. The server at the hotel’s cafe lights up each and every time I go in there. Each day, he asks for my name and then tells me how beautiful it is. The two young women cleaning my suite laugh each time they arrive to find my bed made, used towels folded on the floor, and no visible mess in the suite. I explained, with help from Google translate, that my mother was a domestic worker and I therefore never leave a mess that someone else has to clean. And, I also know that the teenage boy at the beach who stared at me, then shyly smiled if I caught him doing it, was happy that I was part of his family’s day at the beach.
Of course, I’ll alway read the Travel advisories and fill out my travel itinerary using the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), but sharing ice cream cones with that family, on the beach, the kindness of the staff at Casa Losodeli & Coworking, and the AeroMexico grounds crew are now all part of what I know about Mexico. So, should I wait out Guam in Mérida or Mexico City?
Until next time… XOXO—GGT