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hodges take mexico.

Five years ago, Dewy and I were struggling to get pregnant with Larsen--and had been for a while.  We decided to get the heck out of here, and celebrate our anniversary far away.  Playa Del Carmen was the selected destination--even though neither of us had ever been or even heard of it.  We'd never done the all-inclusive thing either, so decided to try that, and we hauled Dewy's cousin and his wife with us.  Mostly because CJ is huge, and if we got caught by the cartel he would be handy to have.  Just kidding.  They're pretty fun. Anyway... when the Hodges met Playa Del Carmen it was love at first sight, and has been our favorite place ever since.
Three years ago we planned to go back to Playa again, this time with the Wilsons--get to know that name people, cause you can't have the Hodges without the Wilsons and vice versa.  Remember how I said we had a hard time getting Larsen here? Well Baylor somehow powered through two methods of birth control and ruined our Playa plans. Sorry Marcia and Kurt.  Kind of.  We took a rain check, and this June was the time! Because you all live for the adventures of my life, and can't possibly go on without knowing what we do in Mexico, I've decided to give you all the details.  You're so welcome.

Our first tip is get a direct flight.  Dewy has a hard time flying.  Ok he's actually the worst traveler ever, but we love him anyway.  Flying from Salt Lake City to Cancun is only about four hours, and we prefer to leave in the morning and be on the beach by dinnertime.  Direct flights make it quicker, less of a hassle, and easier on Dewy.  I read, Dewy watches Creed 2, Marcia watches rom-com, and Kurt sleeps.  I'm a diva and check a bag, but the other three did carry on luggage only.  Not sorry.  A carry-on would be sufficient because all you need are swim suits, but I need my shampoo and conditioner, so until the TSA can quit getting their panties in a wad about liquids, I will check a bag.

Now, repeat after me: CUSTOMS IS GOING TO BE A JOKE.  This is literally one of the only reasons I will not take my small children with me on this vacation--EVER.  I will say that the Cancun airport handled the custom situation like a million times better than Salt Lake did--literally no one was working in customs when we landed back in SLC.  Clowns.  This trip, we traveled on a Saturday and waited in the customs line in Mexico for about an hour.  Yes, that picture shows the LAST HALF of the customs situation.  Traveling on a weekday proved to be better, as that is what we have done in the past.

Schedule your transportation in advance.  Even though I can bench press a Buick, I don't feel super confident in getting an Uber in Mexico.  We booked our entire trip through Expedia, including the transportation from airport to resort and back.  When you leave the Cancun airport, you will walk through an onslaught of crazies trying to get you to let them be your transportation.  The entire situation made me want to crawl into the fetal position the first time we went.  Book your transportation in advance, and then DON'T STOP WALKING UNTIL YOU REACH THE PICKUP LOCATION.  It is easy to locate, and the workers are friendly.  We have used Thomas Moore travel and Expedia Local Experts and both were fantastic.  I would recommend either one, but the Expedia was cheaper.

The beauty of this vacation is it is a lazy vacation.  We spend 85% of the time on the resort doing nothing.  When we go, we stay at the Royal Haciendas all-inclusive resort.  They have an option that isn't all inclusive, but we have no desire to go off and find food, so we do the all-inclusive thing.  We lay by the pool and drink pina coladas, we lay on the beach and eat quacamole, we sit at the swim up bar--laughing at the drunks--and eat quesedillas, and we order room service desserts.  It is relaxing and wonderful and my tip there is to first pace yourself, ha!, and second take $100 in one dollar bills.  We give the service tips, and they in turn give us ROCK STAR SERVICE--even if they don't understand all our virgin drinks.  The workers are funny and nice and they deserve an extra buck or two for waiting on me hand and foot and having to stare at me in a bathing suit.  They are the real heroes.

We have done some excursions and things, and I'll share my reviews of those with you as well.  First, the ruins.  The beauty of staying in Playa Del Carmen versus Cancun is that you are about an hour closer to all the things, and you're not dealing with the spring break idiots.  We scheduled our tours of the ruins with Alma's Tours.  This is a Latter Day Saint company that takes you through the ruins and relates what you are seeing to what we read in the Book of Mormon.  There are several tour services out there, but being members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, we enjoy this one.  The tour guides pick you up, take you around the ruins, feed you, and transport you back.  We have gone through Tulum and Coba.  Tulum was a really cool city to see, and the symbolism and relation to our religion was really neat.  You cannot climb on or really touch much there, but it is cool to see an entire city laid out along the beach.  Coba is still being uncovered, and you CAN climb on these ruins.  That was a pretty cool experience.  The thing I loved about Coba was the way you see the ruins.  At Tulum, you enter the city and walk around.  In Coba, you ride bikes through the jungle and buildings just jump out of nowhere.  It's pretty amazing.  We climbed up the temple, walked through sketchy tunnels, and saw where the Mayans played one of their major sports.  It was a sport similar to basketball, and the losing team was sacrificed.  Much like the playoffs in the NBA, right? Fans need to calm down.  After we toured through the ruins, we ate at a local dive of a restaurant and had the best pork I think I've ever eaten.

Second, Xelha.  There are several park adventures you can do in the Playa Del Carmen area, and each offer different things.  Xcaret is like an animal park with loads of entertainment.  Xplore is more extreme sports like ATVs, zip lining, etc.  Xelha is for the water lovers--snorkling, lazy river, waterslides--the lighthouse tower in the picture is a legit water slide, and all in a natural reef.  We had a great time there, but be warned that they require organic suncreen that DOES. NOT. WORK.  You've been warned.  We have gone zip lining, which we decided you have to do at least once, but probably wouldn't go again.  We've swam in cenotes, which is also a must and we would do every time we go.  This time we got massages on the beach and the men went golfing.  There is a place in the jungle where you can go get a massage, and although I've wanted to do it every time we've gone I haven't been able to.  Looks like I have to go back.  Darn it.

For souveniers, we take a taxi to Fifth Avenue in Playa Del Carmen.  This is a street set up much like a swap meet, with lots of stores all selling the same crap.  The beauty of it is that you can haggle down prices and tell the vendors that a guy up the street said he would sell it to you for cheaper.  Thats how I landed my hammock chair for $28 instead of $50! Woot.  These people can see a sucker coming from a mile away, and they will throw you every line they can think of to make a sale.  "You're my first sale! Help me out, it's my first day."  "I made this myself from scratch and your beautiful wife needs it." "It's all natural, just like your wife!"  That last guy clearly doesn't know me... like, at all.  Or at least couldn't see my lashes, spray tan, permanent makeup...

This is an excellent vacation for couples and families with older kids.  I would not take my small children on this trip, and I feel like thats fine.   Adios Mexico!


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