México – Taking a break from visiting other states, I find myself in México with my Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Instructor and two of my training partners. This was a trip we’ve been planning for a while since my instructor has many affiliates across México. On this trip, we had plans to stop in México City, Mérida, and Playa del Carmen. We had a two-day training camp setup in Chicxulub where my instructor along with other instructors from México was scheduled to teach.
- Traveling to the Yucatán region of México, the weather can be unpredictable since it’s tropical. It’s mostly sunny but a thunderstorm can come in at any second so pack for both types of weather.
- Make sure you have your passport of course if you’re traveling from abroad. Be sure to fill out your immigration form that they hand to you on the plane so you don’t waste any time after you land.
- In popular areas such as México City and Playa del Carmen there are people who speak English so Spanish isn’t as necessary but it helps to know a few words.
- If you’re in areas such as Mérida, not too many people speak Spanish so either travel with someone who does who be sure to learn a bit before your trip. I took 3 years worth of Spanish classes in high school that proved to be really helpful. I was surprised I remembered any of it since it’s been a decade.
- Calculate how much money you plan on spending and exchange. Most places take cash only so you’ll need pesos. Only large tourist locations such as hotels take card. Yes, there are ATMs but they charge a lot for withdrawing.
- Street food is good food. Don’t be afraid to try food they sell on streets. I found that these were the best. Avoid tourist food spots where they charge three times the price for less authentic food.
- Plan to tan. The oceans out here are blue and the water is warm. Progresso, Chicxulub, Playa del Carmen, Cancun, etc. all having amazing beaches.
- Pack light. Most likely you’ll be taking buses, taxis, or moving around a lot so no need to luggage unless you really need to. I had one backpack and a small drawstring bag for a week, which was perfect for the trip.
- Is bug repellent necessary? I bought myself some repellent before the trip fearing that I’d be bitten by mosquitos but surprisingly I didn’t run into a single one!
- Don’t drink the water! Everyone will tell you this. Bottled water is cheap so stick to that. It’s not because the water is dirty or anything but it contains different bacteria that you body probably isn’t used to that can make you sick.
- Wallet in the front! I never found this to be an issue but in crowded areas keep you money close to you. Better safe than sorry!
- Contact your phone company to see if you have service in México. Wi-Fi is not widely available and can be spotty at hotels so check your phone plan before your trip.
- Oxxo is your friend. You’ll see this local convenience store everywhere. It’s like Lawson in Japan or a better 7-Elven in America.
Places to Visit as a Tourist
Keep in mind that México is a huge country and I was only able to visit for a week. Below are places I would highly recommend based on my own personal experience or recommendations from locals. These point-of-interests are in México City and the Yucatán region.
- Basilica of our Lady Guadalupe
- Catedral Metropolitana
- Mueso Nacional de Anthropologia
- Chicxulub Beach
- Chichen Itza
- Various Cenote around Yucatán
- Playa del Carmen Main Strip (5th Avenue)
- Calle Doce en Playa del Carmen
- Mamitas Beach
Our camp took place in Chicxublub where we were a few steps away from the Caribbean Sea. After setting up the mats, we waited for everyone to arrive at the venue. We started with a large group warm-up session followed by hours of techniques. Of course being in Mexico, everything was taught in Spanish.
I was the only non-Spanish speaking but actually did okay. (The only Spanish I knew was from high school back in the day). Luckily, there were a couple people who spoke English to help me out too.
Day 1 was mainly a day of techniques in the gi. Even though it was four hours long it didn’t feel as long. Yes, I was starving after though but it was cool to meet new people. After the four workshop we had about an hour to roll/spar. By the end of it I was pretty tired. The elevation and heat was something I wasn’t used to so it made moving around much more difficult. Overall though it was a great experience.
Day 2, we had a wider variety of instruction. We had some cardio in the morning then the usually BJJ techniques portion. Afterwards we took off our gi and threw on some MMA gloves for the mixed martial arts portion of the camp. This part I was really comfortable with since I’ve been doing Karate for over ten years. The punches and kicks are the same so everything came naturally.
After the MMA session, our main instructor had all the brown belts teach a technique each to the group. Once this session was done we then proceeded to spar for an hour like the previous day. Most of these guys are strong and were definitely bigger than me but I felt like I did much better on Day 2 since I was adapting to the heat and elevation.
Once Day 2 was done we had a promotion ceremony for the guys and did the usual group pictures. After clearing the mats we were done and ready to go explore…
Check out footage from our trip below:
Yucatán, México – April 2017
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