How to Properly Use Mexico

Andrew is having some issues using Mexico, so I decided to write an informational blog to help him in the future – or others like him.

Andrew is doing all of the driving in Mexico, which is fair since he is the one who rented the car. It is also fair to say that Andrew’s driving style fits well in Mexico. We are staying on a moderately busy street that is divided. The side our condo is on heads straight to the beach. The first opening in the divided street from our condo cannot be used for u-turns, nor can it be used for a left turn. The second opening is a traffic circle.

Rule #1: When the cops come up to you as you are trying to make an illegal turn and tell you not to do it, it is best to go ahead and change the course you are on instead of seeing if you can squeeze past them.

Rule #2: When entering a traffic circle in Mexico, you must go around the circle and not try to shortcut it by making a sharp left. If you forget this and you are on the street we are staying (Ave Constitutuyentes) you can remember by looking at the conveniently placed traffic cones blocking that opening.

Andrew, with some very minor assistance (read: screeching) from me, finally found his way around the driving circle and off we went to Cobá. We got a newspaper on the way so that we could practice our Español. It was fun. I was reading the sports section to him and he was translating for me. Although, I had to help him understand that the Jefes were the Chiefs. We turned right in Tulum and were on the road to Cobá sans Dorothy Lamour. About 40 minutes later there were signs and another traffic circle. It was touch and go, but Andrew rounded the traffic circle properly, patted himself on the back and kept driving.

And driving.

And driving.

Finally, about 10 minutes after we should have reached Cobá, Andrew said, “I don’t think this is right. I am going to turn around.”

We got back to the traffic circle. It seems, Andrew had been so excited about getting the direction of the traffic circle correct that he had not paid attention to the signs and had turned too soon off of it.

Rule #3: When congratulating yourself on your accomplishments, don’t be overzealous and forget to pay attention to details. 

Rule #4: When using a traffic circle, use it to its full benefit.

We had a lovely time once we finally got to Cobá. One of the main reasons we came to this part of Mexico was to see the Mayan ruins. Many people go to Chichén Itzá for that. But, in Chichén Itzá you cannot climb up the pyramids. I don’t really get this. First off, the structures are anywhere from 1000-1700 years old – so, they are holding up pretty well already. Secondly, they are already ruined, that is why they are called ruins. Thirdly, from what I could see, the things mostly ruining the ruins was the weather and algae – not people. Finally, Cobá has Nohoch Mul, the tallest Mayan pyramid on the Yucatán peninsula. Because of all of this we chose to go to Cobá.

Andrew and I opted for the unguided tour of Cobá and the hike was maybe 2 or 3 miles out and back – not including the stair climb.

That pyramid is bigger than my hair, which is saying quite a bit in this humidity.

That pyramid is bigger than my hair, which is saying quite a bit in this humidity.

Going down was more difficult for me than climbing. It was easier when I didn't have to see how high up I was.

Going down was more difficult for me than climbing. It was easier when I didn’t have to see how high up I was.

Not shown in the above pictures (because we didn’t take any) is the ball court. It’s basically two pyramid-y structures right next to each other with a vertical hoop in the middle of each. Apparently, teams would play against each other and whoever scored first won. Whoever won would get the honor of being sacrificially beheaded. I am not questioning the honor of the Mayans when I say that knowing those rules, I might have sandbagged a few games.

Just as we left Cobá there was an extreme downpour. We were in it for all of 7 minutes and both of us were soaked to the bone. We had expected some level of this and so we got into the car, dried off with our towel and changed into dry clothes. We then headed back to our condo – without further traffic circle incidents.

We showered and decided to go for a sunset stroll on the beach. As we passed the vendors, they started in on their sales spiels. Only, this time it was worse. They started referring to Andrew and me as Newlyweds and Honeymooners. As a former smoker, I think I hate smoke and smoking more than non-smokers – as a divorcé, I am the same way about marriage. My hackles went up as soon as the first vendor said it.

Andrew, on the other hand, was relaxed and pleasant, as he is wont to be. When they would say hola, he’d say hola. When they said buenos noches, he’d say buenos noches. When they’d say bienvenidos, he’d say bienvenidos.

Rule #5: When locals welcome you to their country by saying “welcome,” the proper response is not to “welcome” them back. Usually, a thank you will suffice.

We got back to the condo, by way of our favorite taco shop where we both made another dent on sending the owners’ kids to med school, and relaxed. By bed time we were both pretty worn out – vacationing is hard. I got into bed and Andrew joined me about a minute later. He snuggled up to me, but something was out of sorts.

Rule #6: Sheets work the same way in Mexico as they do in the United States. The “fitted sheet” is the bottom sheet and is fitted specifically to fit around the corners of the bed. The “top sheet” goes on top. If there is already a sheet on top of your girlfriend use that one instead of undoing the fitted sheet. If you experience confusion on this remember the name of the type of sheet will help guide the use. 

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