Advent Calendar – Dec 3rd: Once a year, go someplace you have never gone before

We all know that travelling gives us an opportunity to expand our knowledge and gain a better understanding of other cultures, and countries. Beyond this, the benefits of travel are quite tangible, physically and psychologically. I walk more when I travel, and my stress level goes way down. The fresh air stimulates endorphins, putting me in a great mood, reducing my anxiety and depression.

Pierre and I enjoy travelling in the fall and spring. In 2018, we spent an amazing 8 weeks in Italy, and enjoyed slowly making our way home back through Spain, Florida, the Panama Canal, California’s wine country and Las Vegas. This year, our travels were shorter, but just as pleasurable. I documented these travels to new destinations and explorations in the Caribbean, and Mexico, but like many of you have pointed out, I did not share them with you.

We are home now, and I have had the chance to put the finishing touches to beautiful stories I wrote along the way, and am happy to resume the blog and pick up where we left off. Given its the season of Christmas, I have decided to share them through 24 installments, like an Advent Calendar.

We have just returned from an amazing vacation in Costa Muhares near Cancun, an area in Mexico that we have never visited, believe it or not. Its been at least 15 years since we have vacationed in Mexico, but I am glad we returned. I have said many times in the past that no one does vacation resorts like Mexico, and after my most recent experience I would say that my assertion still stands.

I like taking the road less travelled, but in Mexico unfortunately that is not a wise decision, unless you have a very good command of Spanish and know the country well. In the current unstable climate and criminal activity, it is usually best to stay on the gated resort, and partake in the numerous amenities the property offers for a week or two.

We were there to celebrate my father’s 80th birthday with the entire family. He is a very fit, jovial and engaging man, with a ton of energy who exercises his mind and body daily and we had a great time in his company, discovering all that TRS Coral had to offer.

The entire resort felt like one huge spa, with calming instrumental music heard throughout the resort and around the pool, and sounds of water trickling through pools and ponds made of marble, and surrounded by lush flowers and greenery. The suites were large and very luxuriously furnished with well designed modern and artistic furniture. We had booked a private swim-out suite and it was exactly as we envisioned, It was so relaxing in the morning to walk down a few steps from the patio and immediately be immersed in our own private pool and it became the gathering spot for the rest of the family.

What was most impressive about the resort is how it is a very eco-minded resort, in total harmony with the environment, and mindful about its footprint. Even the golf carts and boat shuttles available to take us to various locations on the huge property were electric-powered, making no sound at all to disrupt the relaxing atmosphere. Having these experiences imprint powerful messaging that being green and luxurious are not mutually exclusive.

Mexico has added four new nature reserves for a total of 91 million hectares (land and sea) to protect its bio-diversity and prevent natural habitat loss. The Mexican Caribbean Biosphere, slated to include 100% of the Mesoamerican Reef system, will protect the most important turtle beaches in Quintana Roo state, on the Yucatan Peninsula, and prohibit oil exploration in Mexico’s Caribbean Sea.

Because the reserve covers Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum, the law also acknowledges that tourism is still a priority in the areas and the new regulations are meant to strike a balance between preserving the fragile environment and supporting the tourism industry. Implementing a policy shift in a complex country like Mexico is not an easy task, and the plan has many flaws as critics will tell you. They applaud the effort, but there is much more work to be done. At the very least, these new policies helped me increase my awareness of the vulnerability of coastal environments, and marine habitat and the importance of living more eco-friendly. I am including a link here to learn more about Mexico’s struggle to preserve its environment.

http://theconversation.com/are-mexicos-new-nature-reserves-a-real-conservation-effort-or-empty-political-gesture-70034

I would like to see hotels and resorts offer a completely optional seminar for its guest, to help us understand the fragility of these coastal environments we seek out for our selfish sun-seeking needs. Perhaps a 30-minute video on the hotel tv channel would be more suited to the on-demand world we live in now. Certainly. For the plan to work, its a conversation that Mexico needs to have not only with its residents and leaders, but also with its visitors. We live in a global world now, and all inhabitants, no matter in which country we reside, have a role to play in another country’s domestic policies. As tourists, we can be more supportive. I would definitely go back to Mexico for this type of vacation.

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