The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Our vacation is over, and we are back from the sunny and warm Pacific coast to a grey and cold reality. It was even snowing yesterday morning. What a nice welcome back, Utah! I already can feel the vacation blues.

We went to a small resort town in Mexico, Mazatlan. It is on the Pacific coast, and it is much smaller that Cancun. Have you ever been there? It is a very poor town but it is still lovely. Just watch where you go and where you eat. We loved walking Mazatlan’s narrow cobblestone streets in the old town area. It felt safe. The Golden Zone (the center of Mazatlan) is a very commercial area with a lot of great restaurants. However, it was a little bit too commercial for us.

One night we walked to a restaurant that was supposed to be “walking distance” from our resort. The walk outside of our resort, close to the road and far from the beach, took us about thirty minutes and it was very… let’s say… unpleasant. The street was dimly lit and very lonely. The distress of the walk escalated when we passed by a freshly dug grave. Yes, I am not kidding. It was long and wide enough for a coffin, it was unmarked and it was in an odd place. When we finally reached the restaurant (which was great, by the way), I was ready to kiss the ground in front of it. I was THAT happy to be at the brightly lit place packed full with witnesses.

The good

Ocean! Beaches! Sunsets! It was our first beach vacation. We usually spend our vacations exploring, sightseeing, and end up exhausted from running around, visiting the attractions and, generally, working hard instead of relaxing. This time we rested, we slept in and we did not worry about anything but putting on enough sunscreen.

Our Beach


Our friend Iguana

Food! I think I gained at least ten pounds because I was constantly overeating. It was impossible to stop indulging because the food was delicious no matter where we ate. We did not have a bad meal. Not once.

The Bad.

Ocean! We left Mazatlan having a lot of respect for the ocean. The waves were huge, and the strength of them was amazing. The ocean made us feel little, weak and unimportant. It could knock us down easily, pull us into the deep, show us its power and pretty much do to us whatever it wished. It was scary. We wanted to do some snorkeling and boogie boarding, but after being knocked down a couple of times and falling into some holes, we decided to stick to developing our ocean survival skills close to the shore.

Timeshare salespeople! They spot you on the streets, in the restaurants, in the cabs and they hunt you down. The approaches they used to lure us into timeshare presentations were different every time: some of them were straight forward; some of them would start with showing beautiful pictures of the resorts; some of them would try to make small talk before bringing down on you their heavy sales pitches.

The Ugly.

Poverty! We all know that Mexico is a poor country, right? But how much about that poverty do we actually know? We thought we knew it all, but we were wrong. 

When we stepped off the plane thinking about sun, beaches and margaritas, we did not expect to step into the city filled with skinny children and people trying, struggling to survive. We saw houses with no roofs, huge holes in the walls, no glass in the windows and some even with no doors. Those were not abandoned houses! We saw children playing in dirt. We saw mothers nursing their babies in the streets. Everyone – the street vendors, the taxi drivers, the beggars, the waiters – are desperate for money. This money is us, the tourists.

We were not just shocked, we were deeply disturbed. It did not seem right to be in the five star resort, sipping margaritas, bathing in the sun, when outside the walls of the resort lies a city filled with people who live in such poverty. We bought a couple of cheap bracelets from a skinny boy on the street without bargaining because who would bargain with those hungry eyes?

If you ever go to a Mexican resort and lay on the beach, sipping margaritas, I promise, you will be contemplating a thought, the hope that the money you are putting into Mexican economy while vacationing there will help its people.

14 thoughts on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

  1. Suba @ Wealth Informatics

    Hey!!! Welcome back! Great write up and great photos too. We have not been to Mazatlan, been to Cancun, but as you said Cancun is over commercialized. But it was not a relaxing vacation, we wanted to see it all in 1.5 weeks, so it was super busy. Mazatlan sounds like a laid back place and probably more money will go into the local economy than Cancun.

    1. Aloysa

      Thank you! It is nice to be back. Our vacation was great but I missed home. I always do after a week.

  2. Everyday Tips

    My only visit to Mexico was a brief foray into Tijuana. That was not a pretty site either. It is very hard to witness extreme poverty.

    The pictures were gorgeous, but I know what you mean about a rough ocean. I have stayed out of the water when we were in California before because the water would just knock you down, it was even kind of scary.

    Would you go back to where you vacationed if you had to do it again?

    1. Aloysa

      Yes, we would go back in a heartbeat. In spite of some things we saw there, we would go back. Maybe in a few years though. Not right away.

      1. Everyday Tips

        Oh good, I am glad you would go back. I didn’t know if the poverty and rough ocean made it not as appealing. I love discovering a new place!

  3. Lisa @ Cents To Save

    We cruised to Mexico about 3 years ago, and it was to Cozumel. The touristy part of the town was bright, clean and cheerful. When we got on the tour bus to see the Aztec ruins… well…. it was pure poverty on the outskirts. Very sad.

    1. Aloysa

      Never been to Cozumel but heard good things about it. As far as poverty goes, I am sure it is everywhere in Mexico.

  4. Lindy Mint

    1. The good: Sometimes you just need a good beach, and that’s all.

    2. The bad: I’ve always thought oceans were overrated.

    3. The ugly: I used to go on annual missions trips to a little orphanage south of Tijuana. I’ve also vacationed in Cabo San Lucas. You’re right, it’s definitely a strange experience visiting Mexico as an American.

  5. Brown Eyed Mystic

    I love those pictures, Aloysa! Pure bliss

    I am sorry about what you saw–I can sense how that would feel. Sipping margaritas and living in a 5-star resort, but watching those hungry kids who have to think about a way to feed themselves before night takes over. Thanks for the gentle reminder, I send love to them.


    1. Aloysa

      It was really disturbing, especially in the begining. But then… I have to admit and I hate to do it but we started to get used to it. I guess it is in our human nature – to adapt to anyting …

  6. retirebyforty

    Welcome back!
    It’s easy to forget how easy we have it here in the US. I think it’s good to see the rest of the world once in a a while so we appreciate it more.

  7. Deidre

    I decided to go to Mexico once and drove there – across the border from Texas – to Juarez. I had the most amazing food, spent some money locally and then went back home.

    I too did not barter or negotiate the pricing because as nice as the area was in Juarez, you could tell that the ‘not so nice’ areas were not too far away. People seemed very hungry for American $$. Hopefully that day I made a difference in someone’s life

    Wonderful pictures!

    1. Aloysa

      Isn’t Juarez the most dangerous place right now? I would not dare to go there. How long ago was it?

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