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Way down in Huatulco

Jan 21, 2014 11:30 am | By Ryan McCracken | St. Paul Journal

Iím not much of a vacationer. For the longest time my idea of a vacation involved a weekend spent camping, hiking or cottaging somewhere within driving distance, but last week I got my first taste of a real vacation when my family flew me down to Huatulco, Mexico for a week.

Huatulco is on the southwestern coast of Mexico, and boasted plus-30 temperatures with little-to-no cloud cover for the entire week. It was nice.

The experience was pretty overwhelming; beautiful beaches, great people, a multitude of wildlife, sailing, windsurfing, swimming and enough excursions to join in on that youíll never be bored.

On my first day in Mexico I met a family from Bancroft, Ont., a really great group of people who invited me to go snorkeling, which I had never done before, so I was all for the idea.

It was a surreal experience to dive under the waters and literally swim amongst schools of fish atop the coral. We saw iridescent fish with glowing blue spots. We had a guide who found us starfish, sea spiders and blowfish to hold Ė which actually inflated and deflated in front of us.

I saw schools of dolphins, turtles, crocodiles, more species of birds than I know and more iguanas that I could count. Literally, Iím talking hundreds if not thousands of iguanas. The locals eat iguana as well, and while I did not get the chance to experience the delicacy myself, they assured me that it tastes like chicken. Next time.

As for beverages, in southern Mexico the drink of choice is mezcal, not tequila. Mezcal is an equally potent intoxicant also produced from the agave plant, and it is said in Huatulco that the men drink mezcal.

What impressed me most about Mexico was the people. They donít share the same problems that we do. It was incredible to learn that the minimum wage in the state of Oaxaca where I was staying translates to just over 60 cents per hour, and yet everyone I met was so happy just to have the chance to work.

I passed a few papaya plantations where all the work from planting to picking is done by hand, and living areas that would be deemed unfit to live in Canada, and yet I find myself whining about poor Wi-Fi.

I met some awesome local people who just love what they do, and who they get to do it with. The language barrier was a little difficult at times, but nothing I couldnít manage, and as they taught me new Spanish words and phrases it left me wanting to learn the language fluently.

We have it good here in Canada, and while we may not have temperatures pushing 30 degrees year round, we have access to a number of indulgences that we often take for granted. The people I met in Mexico, both locals and fellow tourists, inspired me to believe that happiness is a lot easier to achieve than itís often made out to be, and it starts with loving what you do.

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