What you may not have done is decide to go to Mexico over the winter school vacation.
The parameters, for us, were: dogs, money, relaxation. Probably in that order.
As we started to look at the possibilities people wanted to helpfully suggest all-inclusive packages in Mexico. “Cheap!” they chortled. “Fun!” they flung. But it quickly became clear that every single one of them had travelled outside of school vacation dates.
During school vacations nothing is cheap. Hopefully, it is still fun but the relaxation of which we dreamed seemed less realistic as we contemplated small cities of all-inclusives, some of them partnered with those next door. Two thousand of your closest friends elbowing you out of the way as you dash (at 6:00 a.m.) to get a deck chair by the pool. Kids flinging sand into your beach paradise dream. People insisting that I want to swim with dolphins (I do not! I barely want to swim with my husband, and once in a while with my dogs.) The need to be sufficiently organized to reserve a spot in one of the four a la carte restaurants at least 24 to 48 hours in advance. It’s exhausting just thinking about it. And, it certainly isn’t “going to Mexico.”
So, we wondered about Hawaii and came up with different difficulties. I kept looking. I probably looked for more than 30 hours at different websites and options.
Ultimately, though, I realized, the problem wasn’t the dogs – our son and daughter-in-law generously entered into an exchange (their dog needs somewhere to go when they jet off to Hawaii in January) – or the money, although I couldn’t find anything that came in at our preferred budget. Relaxation was looking difficult to find but, even that, wasn’t exactly it.
The problem was that, for the amount of money we were going to spend, none of the options were attractive enough. Not one all-inclusive said, “Come here! It looks like your kind of place.” So I started looking at B&Bs in Mexico. I found a marvellous option in a town outside Puerto Vallarta. A place I’d never heard of and couldn’t have found on a map but, turns out, was the place my dog-walking friend had gone earlier this year for her daughter’s wedding.
No dates available when there were reasonably priced flights available. But, guess what? There was another place in the same village. Owned by a couple of Canadians. There are 4 units each with their own kitchenette on the balcony. Each balcony facing a different way into the jungle-garden. We have one with a view through the trees so we can peek at the ocean.
There is a pool, a hammock, multiple private little sitting spots in the garden. It is charming and everyone who wrote a review loved it – unlike the mixed reviews given most all-inclusives.
The village is a mix of Mexican fishers and people catering to the surfers and tourists like us. Three streets, huge beach, some restaurants, some music, some art galleries and craft stores, and what I suspect will be my favourite place to spend money – a donut truck that brings homemade confections through town in the evenings.
Once the “right” vision was in front of us, the decision was easy. Things were booked and deposits made within the space of an hour. I’m so excited!