It is rainy season here in the tropics, which is a good time to answer the question, what do you do in Mahahual if you visit on a cruise ship and it rains? Well, you have fun, that is what you do. Remember, there are 2 kinds of rain we have here. One is the big enchilada of rain; it comes down hard, it comes down fast and it comes down all day. Grab your flotation device, because you might need it. But that type of rain is not the most common, and is in fact, not typical. What is typical here is the short burst of rain, or squall as the sailors call them, and they can be plenty hard, but they don’t often last long. About as long as it takes to enjoy a cold drink under a palapa. There is usually more time between the showers than the showers themselves. Plenty of time for a “plan B”, something you should always have on vacation, especially in Mexico during rainy season. You might not be able to do what you were planning, but you still should have some fun and here are a few things you might try.
Do a bar crawl. The Mahahual malecon is a wonderful place with lots of great beach clubs and restaurants, so hop on the shuttle and come into the town and enjoy. A bar crawl is always a fun way to enjoy a few hours … or more. See how many places you can visit in one day. You’ll meet lots of local people and have an opportunity to try some new and unusual drinks. Have you ever drank a tamarino margarita? How about a shot of vanilla cream mescal liquor. Do you know the difference between a tequila and a distilled agave? Come into town and find out. Drinks are half the price of those on the ship, so what the heck. It may be raining outside, but inside, the bar is dry and the fun is still flowing, so go and enjoy, several places. You have all day!
Do some shopping. Again, go into town and get the lower prices and enjoy the ambiance and fun of shopping in Mexico. When the showers stop, stroll to the next place. If it starts raining again while you are there, it should be no problem either chatting with the stores owner or clerks, or just slip next door to the restaurant and enjoy a snack or drink while you wait for it to stop again. Don’t speak Spanish, don’t worry, that’s what makes it so fun. Your broken Spanish, and their broken English, along with a little sign language, makes the cultural exchange often a priceless experience. You might make a life long friend, or just have a few laughs and perhaps directions to the store that has the item you were really looking for.
Stop in one of the grocery stores. No kidding, you’ll find it interesting. Nothing like the supermarkets you have back home but you’ll find things here you won’t find there either. The stores are small, but you will be surprised at the cool things you will find. You’ll see the unusual local fruits and vegetable, spices ground locally and hanging in little plastic bags or a tortilla machine, cranking out fresh corn tortillas, the regional tortilla of choice. But you’ll also find things you might buy and take back with you, like bottled hot sauces, boxed sauces like mole, green chile or chipotle, or sweet items like Abuelita chocolate paddies, Mexican chocolate with chunks of sugar that is supposed to be for cooking, but most eat it like candy, or La Lechera, a sugary syrup that can be flavored as a topping for almost any desert. Lots of things you’ll find interesting and a few you’ll probably take home with you. And yes, even the grocery store will be a cultural experience, as Dad will most likely be stocking shelves or running the tortilla machine, while Mom runs the cash register and the kids might be playing with the dog in front. Mayberry Mexico.
Get a massage. Relaxing massages have become one of the activities Mahahual is fast becoming known for. Most places have dry locations you can get a massage, even when it is raining. One of the more pleasurable parts of enjoying a massage is the ambiance in which you are relaxing, the sounds and smells of the beach and ocean. On a rainy day, those sounds and smells are even greater. Relax and listen to the sound of the rain bouncing off the surrounding coconut palms and the thatch palapa you are under. A rain shower might be the very best time to enjoy an hour massage. A properly licensed and trained masseuse in Mahahual will cost from $25-$35 US an hour and if you get a good one, worth many times that. Try one, you’ll see!
Hire a driver for the day. It doesn’t rain inside a taxi, so grab one and drive the south beach road for some sight-seeing and hit a few beach restaurants along the way. Taxi drivers are located just outside the port exit, about 100 yards from the gate, across from the blue tower and just before the pyramid in the center of the road. Walk down and negotiate a rate for a half day beach pleasure ride. A small car that can hold 3-4 persons, you can probably get for about $75-$100 US, for the 3-4 hours you might want to cruise. Tell the driver you only want to go no more than 25 kilometers (about 10 miles) south and then return, and that is plenty of distance to see some cool things. Along the way, you will see all sorts of wildlife and unusual jungle and ocean sights. When it stops raining, and it will from time to time, have your driver pull over and you can do a little beach combing. If you have never combed a remote beach, you are in for a treat. Yes, lots of trash and tennis shoes, but also endless shells, sea beans and ocean treasures are everywhere. There is a small hotel every few miles, so stop in at places like Maya Luna, just outside of town, Hotel Castillo, about 5 miles out, or Hotel Almaplena, about 10 miles out. They will be happy to serve you something cold to drink in a dry spot under a palapa while you enjoy the shower and the tropical beach ambiance. A little rain doesn’t slow down the tropical birds, butterflies and iguanas, so you’ll see them all while you relax and enjoy a cold drink and perhaps some fresh ceviche. If you get back to town in time, have the driver drop you off as you pass through, and do a little shopping or have a nice local meal before you return to the ship. The taxi back to the ship is another $2 per person from the town.
Do your homework? If you are one of those people who just can’t get away from your work, use the day to get caught up. Bring the computer, you know you brought it, and go into town and get on-line. If you have to work, why not do it in a fun place. At the Tropicante, we’ll get you connected to the internet, but also have a free phone to both the US and Canada, so you can make the calls you need to get caught up. I know you should not work while on vacation, but you also should not eat or drink too much either and you do that too, so if it is raining, and only if it is raining, use the time to get caught up on that few work items that are still bugging you. Then, get back to having fun!
So if you wake up in Costa Maya and find it raining, don’t just roll over and go back to sleep. Okay, you’re on vacation, so I guess you can actually do that if you choose. But don’t do it because you think there is nothing to do, just because it is raining. Grab your beach bag, you never know it might quit as fast as it started around here, and come on into town and enjoy the day. We’ve had many people tell us, sitting under a palapa or hanging out at our bar, was the best day of the cruise because it was a relaxing and spontaneous way to enjoy a vacation day. Do some shopping, get a massage, kayak the malecon, meet the locals and enjoy the local food and drink for a few hours. It might not be the day you had planned, but sometimes plan B isn’t that bad either. See you then.