Tag Archive | tourist

South of the Border

If you have travelled Interstate 95 North from Florida through Georgia and South Carolina, you have probably seen the signs telling you about South of the Border. South of the Border is a tourist trap at the SC/NC line. After years and years of seeing the signs urging me to visit, I felt like I had to go just to see what it was all about. Yes, I knew it was a tourist trap but my curiosity got the best of me. Once we took the exit to South of the Border, I saw a hotel, reptile lagoon, gift shop, and a small amusement park. I did not go to the reptile lagoon because I did not have a desire to see a bunch of snakes. The hotel, with its faded paint, looked like a downgrade from Motel 6 from the outside. Not commenting on the number of stars of the hotel per se becasue I don’t know what the rooms look like. Just saying, it did not look like much from the outside. The amusement park was not open but the rides looked like fair rides for children. I do not have children, so I did not check that out either.

The place is as kitschy as you can get. I thought that they go overboard with the stereotypical depiction of Mexican people. Brightly colored ponchos and other souvenir items were for sale in the gift shop.
Back in its hay day, I am sure that South of the Border was probably a happening, lively excursion for the enjoyment of the entire family. Now days, they probably need to figure how to revamp the place, slap on a new coat of paint, and come up with some activities to attract more people. Water park anyone?

Overall, since I do not have children, there is probably not anything that would inspire me to go back.

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City in Review: Cozumel MX

Going to Cozumel, MX as part of your cruise vacation? Most people will go to Carlos and Charlie’s or Senor Frogs and play the liquor games, dance, and eat. There is more to Cozumel than that. If you have never been to Carlos and Charlie’s or Senor Frogs, you should go at least once. The drinks are free flowing and the music is pumping so that you want to dance the whole time. Just be mindful of the time because you do not want to be left on the island when your ship sets sail.

In Mexico, the currency is the Peso which can be converted 10 pesos to 1 dollar. Most stores in the tourist section will post prices in USD. If you go into a store to buy some souvenirs and the prices seem outrageous, ask if the currency is Peso or USD. That happened to me and once I converted the prices to USD, I was relieved to know that I would be able to afford to buy for everyone on my list.

As with any foreign country, find out how to contact someone in case of an emergency. If you are taking a cruise to Cozumel, this information is usually available to you before you leave the ship. You never know what might happen so it is good to take precautionary measures. Since this is a tourist town, most people speak some English. If you are downtown in Cozumel, you will be able to find plenty of people who speak English. If you are going to explore the island, having a small Spanish-English dictionary should be able to help resolve any communication problems that may arise.

If you are going to travel around the island, your options should be taxi or jeep. Scooters should not even be an option. There will be many people riding scooters and making it look like fun. But is the most dangerous mode of transportation if you do not know what you are doing. If you are taking a taxi, ask how much it will be for a tour of the island. You can even arrange for the taxi to drop you off at one of the parks and pick you up later. If you rent a jeep, many of them are manual transmission. The car insurance that you have in US does not cover rentals in foreign countries. You want to make sure you get full coverage for your rental. If you do not and you are in an accident, you will be stuck with unimaginable expenses. It is worth the $10-15.

Cozumel has one main road that goes around the whole island. It probably takes 45-60 minutes to circle the island. From the main road, there are signs that tell you the name of the different beaches and guide you to the ruins. On the ride to the beach, I saw where the water crashed against the rocks at times. If you stop along the road to walk along the beach, you need to be careful. There are not a lot of sandy beaches, but slippery limestone rock. If you do not have on the right type of shoe, it can be very dangerous. It is best only to stop where there is beach access. You can tell where there is beach access because there are little bar restaurants that are situated near the beach. These restaurants offer margaritas, tacos, chips, and salsa. People can eat these while they are relaxing on the beach or sitting sit at the bar. There are usually little gift stores adjacent to the restaurant too. If you have children, you want to know that a lot of the souvenirs are not very family friendly at the beachside restaurants. On my last trip, I saw A LOT of male and female anatomy shaped items.

One of the beaches that I have visited was Punta Morena. People were surfing, swimming, and lying out on the beach. The waves were choppy at times because there was storm earlier that day. These little restaurants do have bathrooms, but there are no lockers for your valuables. Since many of the rental vehicles are soft-top Jeeps, you cannot exactly lock your valuables in your car. It is best that you keep these with you in a waterproof pouch around your neck. I do not eat anything in the beachside restaurants, although I saw other people that did. If you want to eat something in the restaurant, you do so at your own risk. I do not advise it. However, I did order a margarita. I think that tequila kills all bacteria.

I was not impressed with the advertised Mayan ruins. If you are the exploratory type, you might like that sort of thing. But if you go in the rainy season, be prepared to be eaten alive by mosquitoes. I had insect repellant on and counted over 50 mosquito bites.

Overall, Cozumel is nice. There is not much to do besides lay out on the beach and drink margaritas. Recipe for a good time.