Mexico: Part III - Mr. Virgil? This is your wakeup call.

Now that everyone is stuffed on Easter candy, it's time to continue on with our Mexican adventure.

As I said in my last post, we had decided to sleep in for a bit on our second day. We learned a lot on this trip. For instance, here's something I learned -- there will be no "sleeping in."

You know what they have in the jungle? Jungle birds. And these birds get up a LOT earlier than you do. I think when birds from other places are applying for jobs in Mexico, the classified ad looks kind of like this:

There was a dove-looking bird that sounded like a hoot owl. WHOO WHOO WHOO Whoooooooooo! WHOO WHOO WHOO Whoooooooooo! over and over until you wanted to cut a hole into your mattress and crawl inside. The other bird call that was especially pleasing to the ear was the one that sounded exactly like this. Unfortunately, it didn't include the explosion at the end. After about the second day, I started making the explosion sound under my breath every time I heard one - until my wife asked me what the hell I was doing. Then I just did it in my head instead of out loud. [edit: listen to the actual bird call here.]

Here's another thing we learned -- in Mexico, (at the beach resorts at least) you can't flush the toilet paper. Seriously. Instead of flushing it, you simply drop your butt-wipings into the wastepaper basket next to the toilet and the housekeeper picks it up the next day. It's a good thing that the bathroom had a door and a window, because a pail of crap isn't really conducive to indoor air quality. Luckily for both of us, Montezuma's Revenge didn't enter into the picture or things could have become interesting -- and not in a good way.

I found this a little bit revolting to be honest, and I felt bad for our housekeeper. I mean, she probably doesn't make much to begin with, and now she has to empty baskets of feces-laden paper on top of that? (I felt it was only fair for me to tip the crap out of her. So to speak.)

Our last lesson for the day occurred when we got to the beach. We learned that Playa Del Carmen beaches are a little more "European" than we knew.

We saw some things. Some things that should not be seen. Ever, by anyone, anywhere. Human breasts should not look like that. It's not normal. My first thought was, "Why does that old guy in the yellow bikini bottom have two giant brown leather satchels sitting on either side of him?" My second thought was, "Heyyyyy, leather satchels aren't supposed to have nipples." It was eye-opening, to say the least. You tried not to look, but every time she moved it was a brand-new train wreck. It reminded me of this picture. She clearly didn't give a shit what people thought, and I can certainly admire that.

We spent most of the day there, but I didn't go swimming. The wind caused the water to be quite rough and the red flags were out, which generally means you might get sucked out to sea and end up off the coast of Brazil or something. Both the water and the beach were beautiful, however, and the place wasn't very crowded because of the wind. Or maybe it was because nobody wanted to look at satchel tits. I'm not really sure, but there was no shortage of available beach chairs.

On the way back from the beach, my wife made friends with a stray kitten that was hanging around by the bar near the pool. He was all black with green eyes, and maybe 3 or 4 months old. The bar featured rope swings and as luck would have it, that's where we happened to be sitting. The kitten really seemed to like my wife. He was probably chock-full of diseases but he seemed pretty healthy overall. My wife was petting him and commenting on how cute he was and before the last word left her mouth, he squatted down and took a big dump in the sand right near her left foot. He nonchalantly covered it up and sauntered away. "Awww, he's so cute," I said.

But really when you think about it, if you're a cat, what better place could you live? It's like having 300 miles of clean litter box. You've also got great weather all the time, plenty of shelter, lots of birds, (too many frigging birds) and people feeding you scraps all the time. Pretty sweet deal. By the end of the week, we had this going on:

Don't ask. Cats just like her for some reason.

The next day we went on a tour of the ruins at Tulum, and my wife almost got ravaged by some local wildlife. More to come.


  1. So funny. We thought the same thing about the birds, and we had the added noise of the monkeys in the trees.

    And the beach! I had a lot better body image myself after being on that beach. Were all the men wearing Speedos? Except you couldn't tell from the front, because they all had dicky-do disease? Your stories are bringing back so many good memories. I can't wait to hear about Tulum.

    PS - verification = "nobeak". Would they be quieter then?

  2. :) J.V. the toilet paper thing is in all of Mexico. In fact, I lived with my husband for like 6 months (this was when we were in Michigan) before I realized that HE wasn't flushing! It was one of our first arguments and ended with me yelling "THIS IS THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and we FLUSH our T.P.!" He'd been living in the states for like, 12 years but I guess nobody had let him in on the secret. :D

    We're lucky enough now though, living in Mexico that we live in an updated house that's able to flush everything away. The only problem is when family comes to visit and askes where the hell the waste basket is. :P

  3. Anonymous12:03 AM

    Yeah, I lived in Brazil for a couple years - can't flush your TP there either. You get used to it. Lid and frequent changing are key.

  4. Hmmm. That TP thing could take some of the fun out of traveling.

    I just spent some time reading your posts about the 1977 Penney's catalog. Omigod, we thought we were so cool. Your commentary was priceless.

  5. I can't laugh so hard after putting in a 15hr day as a RN with 2 demented patients trying to beat the shit out of my staff. One got it in the eye and the other in the cheek. Bruises for all. Travel to India in 1971 and find out they have no toilet paper at all, they use their left hand and water. That is if they have water at all. I stayed in Indian style hotels and none of them have tp. Then it is a squat toilet - 2 pads of cement and a hole. Great fun. Better have great knees. The birds in Southern India also follow the no sleep in rule. Crows baby, crows. Hitchcock had nothing on these crows - millions of them. Oh what a time. Ask me about Afghanistan sometime for toilet stories - and bedbugs.
    You are one funny guy. Glad you had fun inspite of the nippled satchels. ps. verification-aphist - hope they don't get your roses.

  6. I had forgotten about the sunbathers -- or maybe blocked it out. I think we had the same lady on the beach at Tulum.

  7. ROFLMAO, I kinda think you'd have regretted crawling into the mattress given your previous post about bugs! Just think of the delights you may have found!!

    A lot of Europe also has the no-flushing thing, every Greek island I've ever been too you have to put the paper into the bin. Not good when you get the S&D bug, sitting on the toilet & throwing up into the shower by the side of you!!

    So sweet with the kitty though, bet you could have brought him home!

    Oh, and they do the sunbathing thing in the Canary Islands too! I swear it was a short fat German man with a handlebar moustache that strolled down the beach letting everything get aired, without even a pair of speedos on. On a hangover day too, you can take an educated guess we didn't stay there long!

  8. Those doves that sound like owls and have no concept of day/night? We have those here in TX. Reason #17 why I wear earplugs to bed every night.

  9. Anonymous9:41 AM

    So I know you wanted a less touristy place, but...I didn't have any of those problems when I was in Mexico. Not even satchel tits. Well, on the public beaches anything goes, but my hotel had no satchel-titted women.

    My ride on the big giant tour bus to Tikal almost killed me. Can't wait to read the next installment.

  10. KC from TX10:44 AM

    I have been going to Cancun twice a year for several years, and I never had the TP issue. Yes, off resort on the trip to Chicken Pizza (no idea how to spell the place with the Mayan Pyramids) the stop we made had signs in the stalls to not flush TP, that was the first time I saw that. I have also been to Mexico City a number of times for work, and always I could flush, obviously I must have been staying in modern facilities... This year we went to the Dominican instead of Cancun...let's just say if you want good foder for your blogs, that should be your next trip, makes Mexico seem like a first world country, but the beaches in Dominican are the best I have seen so far....Love your writing, keep it up!!

  11. Well, I'm just thanking goodness right now that the naked woman on the beach next to us when we went to Mexico on our honeymoon was at least half-way attractive. I was still disturbed by it (it's just a weird thing to see), especially because there was a wedding going on about 20 feet down the beach from us. I hope they were careful with their picture taking.

  12. Anonymous11:20 AM

    The not flushing TP thing isn't too big of a deal. You get used to it. I've been to many places in Mexico where you were lucky the toilet flushed at all. Usually you have to get a bucket of water from the well and pour it into the bowl to make it flush.

    When I was in Kenya, I was happy just to have a hole to squat over sometimes. When traveling by bus, whenever people need a break the driver just pulls over to the side of the road. Women go on one side of the road, men on the other. If you didn't bring any toilet paper you either find someone who did or you're out of luck.

    Ah, good times.

  13. Great blog. Way to make a vacation educational! :)

  14. The bird classified had me laughing so hard that I started crying at my desk. Well played.

  15. Hysterical. I've been to Playa del Carmen a few times, and found it to be quite cosmopolitan -- and filled with loud birds.

    I think the woman with the satchel tits was probably related to my ex-husband, who has two twin aunts down there. So effectively and collectively, that's four satchel tits. Say hi for me, will ya?

  16. First time I told my niece and nephew to NOT flush but to put the paper in the trash can they looked at me like I'd said to come back out into the restaurant and wave their paper around on a kite string... so horrified... but they did it.

    I'm getting to the age and droop that your boob commentary is almost offensive... which explains why these girls don't go out to play on the beach...

    Hope you found some good food while you were down there... Playa.Info is chock full of good suggestions! so I hear....

  17. KC, YES. There were many many hairy italian guys with beer guts wearing banana hammocks.

    Gringa, I suppose you can get used to anything, but I found it a little disconcerting at first. I suppose using your hand and communal water is probably much worse.

    Anon, there was no lid.

    Lorraine, I will never go to india, and that's just one of the reasons. I can look at pictures on line. You in the military?

    Chris, there were really only a handful. But jarring if you're not used to it.

    Mouse, good point.

    Badger, do your ears start to itch? I wake up in the middle of the night and pull them out, every time.

    Shine, where'd you stay?

    KC from TX, thanks. I thought it was only the beachfront areas, but maybe it's just areas with crappy septic systems or something.

    scarlett, I'm sure the ring bearer got an eyeful.

    Anon, Kenya sounds delightful.

    Jen, Britni, thanks! Fragrant, next time I go, I surely will.

    Char, it wasn't so much the nudity or even the size or droop, but it was the level of tanning that really creeped me out. They looked like a natural-tanned leather couch. So did the rest of her, incidentally, but I'm talking major sun damage to the girls here.

  18. We had two of those screaming bastard birds in Antigua. The first was called a Bananaquit, or Honey Creeper.

    It was DEFINITELY a creeper, that much I know.

    It sat in a tree RIGHT outside our bedroom patio doors, and shrieked from 4 a.m. on, non-stop. It was joined in its efforts by the Carib Grackle. There is no bird call more obnoxious than the Carib Grackle's. I've tried to find a recording of it for you, but - perhaps unsurprisingly - no one has recorded it. It's that bad. Even the bird sites that normally have sound files for every bird just say, "it's piercing call makes them hard to miss."

    NO SHIT. It's especially hard to miss at 4 in the morning when the bird is essentially perched on your head. F*ers. I found myself praying one of the really large lizards would go all Godzilla vs. Mothra on the both of 'em.

  19. P.S. KC - it's Chichen Itza, I believe.

  20. Hey, the cat had a better place to poop than the humans, didn't it?

    Kenya, India, Greece and Dominican Republic have nothing on Italy. Yes, Italy. Holes in the ground and "toilets" designed without seats are the rule, not the exception.

    It's a crazy world out there, my friends.

    Long time lurker / admirer.

  21. Anonymous2:44 AM

    Maybe its just cleaner to use a hand shower or something to wash your butt after potty! That is the most sanitary way to keep yourself and your toilet clean i think... (Of course you wash your hand with soap after that! :P).. but people in the west don't know it??

  22. Ari, I can almost get behind the no-seat thing from a a hygienic standpoint, but anon, there is no way wiping your butt with your hand is cleaner than using TP. I prefer not to touch my feces. I'm really hoping that they keep their fingernails cut down to the nubs in India. Is a handshower a bidet or something else? A bidet sounds pretty good, but I've never experienced one. I have visions of walking around with a wet ass.

  23. Nessa, it doesn't surprise me that you know what they are. The grackle sounds about right, because that's what it looked like. Sort of black/purple/brown with beady bright yellow eyes.

  24. I gagged when I looked at the picture of the crispy lady at the beach, just so you know. Hilarious blog, you definitely have another follower. :)

  25. Toilet habits, really a deep seated cultural thing. The TP thing has never bothered me but it has been a deal breaker for some Americans I've known. I don't see it as much different than baby diapers or depends in a trash can, better even since there is much less *stuff* involved.

    Want to see it from the other side? Talk to a middle class Mexican about how the same Americans that are grossed out by putting their own paper in a trash bag next to them will go and follow a DOG down the street and actually pick up piles of its poop in a little baggy and then carry it around with them!

  26. Trust me, nobody would do that if it wasn't required by law.

  27. KidSister5:03 PM

    "Make $3000 an hour and lose weight at the same time!"

    Can I have the phone number for that one please?

  28. I have never heard of this problem with the flushing of toilet paper. This is quite probably the most disgusting thing I have ever heard of. Based on your unwitting travel tips, I am now going to limit my travel to civilized countries. Thanks so much.

  29. Anonymous2:49 PM

    The no flushing T.P. exists in most of Asia as well. Someone wrote something about this subject on an Asian related forum once that went something like this: "You mean my toilet can handle my Saturday morning Guiness log, but it can't handle the few squares of T.P. that follow?"

    While living over there, we had some locals over for dinner one night and I forgot to remove the garbage can from the bathroom. It was full of T.P. by the end of the evening. I just picked it up and dumped in the toilet and flushed it all away. Problem solved.

  30. I'll admit, A few times I flushed the first square. And thank you, cottonelle for your premoistened wipes.

  31. Great post, as usual. I have also gone to the Tulum ruins, can't wait to read about that adventure!

  32. Those birds should have ended up at a road side lunch stand.

  33. Oh JV...you make life bearable sometimes. LOL! Muah!

  34. Perfect description! How funny.

  35. Mybad, I should have warned you about the plumbing in Mexico, ooops.

  36. Anonymous4:33 AM

    Eco Potty Wipes - the #1 Wipe would be a great plus for the tinklers. Would cut down on tremendous waste and they are much softer than paper.
    Just throw in the mesh bag, pull the drawstring and they go right into the washing machine. No brainer. Only for the ladies:)
    #1 Wipe....