Becoming a Mexican Beach Bum : The Do’s and Don’ts

You’re sitting in your stuffy office, with an ever increasing workload to complete and it’s only just ticked over to Wednesday. From this position it’s pretty easy to find yourself day dreaming the time away wishing for some remote beach location where you can pack it all in and start up a new life. At least until the unpaid bills you’ve left behind threaten to turn into a lawsuit. You picture yourself on a beach in Mexico somewhere, diving through the tropical waves, sun baking to dry yourself, sipping cheap cocktails and eating your way through some fresh tacos for a fraction of the cost of living you’re used to. It’s time to become a Mexican beach bum!

In your day dreams you don’t worry about deadlines, staff meetings or presentations. In fact your whole concept of time has changed to suit your new beach haven. A watch becomes an constant reminder of how time dictated your former life; so you stop wearing it. You throw away your alarm clock and replace it with the horde of roosters that will no doubt wake you up at the crack of dawn. If it’s not the roosters waking you, then it will definitely be the guy selling tortillas with the catchy jingle he blasts from his motorbike.

Your morning routine consists of swimming at the beach in the morning before it gets too hot or exercising, which depends on your level of activity the night before. You adopt the Mexican way of life and embrace this ‘siesta time’ that everyone’s talking about. Between the hours of 11am-3pm you do little to nothing. You might lay in a hammock and read, start work on that book you’ve always wanted to write or fine tune your cooking skills, but you don’t do anything too strenuous. That’s the only way to deal with the, at times, inescapable heat.

By the cooler evening you’re refreshed from a lazy afternoon and it’s time to embrace the second half of the day. You have a couple of options for the afternoon’s activities. You can take a walk along the ocean to watch the sunset in the late evenings. Maybe find a little spot up on the cliffs, or around the rocks, to quietly enjoy nature’s finest muralist paint the sky in rich strokes of pink, red, yellow and orange. If you’ve seen enough of the beach for the day and prefer a more refreshing wind down you can head to one of the many restaurants that line the white beaches. You opt for a cocktail in the comforts of a front row seat to the sunset with a local band covering all the Mexican classics in the corner. Your nights can consist of anything from outdoor beach movie screenings, salsa dancing or singing Mexican drinking songs in some dive bar, wearing a sombrero with the new local friends you met over a bottle of Tequilla. There’s something for everyone in Mexico.

In between jobs? Thinking of a career change? Looking to find yourself? Got some extra holiday time banking up? All great reasons to get out and experience something you might not ever get to do again. But before you go here is a simple beginners guide for the do’s and don’ts to deciding upon your new beach life.


… your research and find out what location suits you best. Check the weather, avoid the rainy season in Mexico and stick with the endless summer. If you’re a keen surfer keep away from the well known spots because you’ll be doing more fighting for waves among the locals and learners than the seagulls do for a stray fish.

…send postcards to all your former colleagues and family members. Resorting back to the old fashioned snail mail will really show them how much time you’ve got on your hands. Let them know you’re having a blast and make them jealous, even if you don’t exactly know what you’re doing with your life.

… pack enough sunscreen to last the trip. At an extortionist price, sunscreen is more expensive than going out for a big night on the town. After coming out of hibernation from your office you’ll need it unless you want the local fisherman to mistake you for a giant lobster.

… get a little bit of Spanish under your belt before leaving. Something more than dos cervazas por favor. Not only will it make it easier to negotiate prices, but it will enrich your cultural learning of an amazing country. You will be appreciated among the locals a lot more for even trying.


…. go somewhere super toursity! The constant influx of the masses will become tiresome and overbearing to your new relaxed life. It’s OK for a small break to let your hair down at these spots, but a long time will grind you down. Your favourite restaurant will become a beer pong tournament hotspot at night just to make an extra peso and your uncrowded sunsets will clog up with older European men wearing less than you’d prefer to imagine.

… get stuck in a beach town for too long that you lose touch with the outside world. Whatever happens, don’t turn into a scruffy Mexican beach bum hippie that makes handicrafts out of wire and feathers by the beach. Leave the handicrafts to the locals and let them earn the odd peso from the travelling tourists.

… worry yourself about what you might be missing back home. Think about all the awesome things you’re doing now. Sometimes people’s lives pass years without anything significant happening so a few months won’t hurt you being out of the loop. You miss a music concert here, some birthdays, maybe even Christmas, but really it’s not going to be the end of the world. Christmas will come round again the same time next year and people will always get get older.

At the end of the day it’s your beach adventure so choose what you’re looking for and don’t look back. Outrageous beach parties dot the Mexican coastline all the way from the north western locations of Tijuana to the south eastern peninsula spots at Cancun. Between the parties isolated beach retreats sneak their way into the mix for quieter getaways of relaxing and personal time. Reference these do’s and dont’s as your starting block, but continue to build on them to create the Mexican lifestyle that suits you best.

Cabo de la Vela Colombia: Wayuu and Wilderness

Cabo de la Vela, Colombia is not for everyone. In fact at times you’ll struggle to comprehend how it could be for anyone. The sketchy exhaust filled method of transport out there, the scarcity of basic commodities and the shortage of activities would have you doubting why you decided upon the long and draining journey out to one of South America’s most northern points. However rest assured, Cabo de la Vela is one of those true ‘journey not the destination’ type of stories.

For us, the original draw to Cabo de la Vela was the talk of the traditional indigenous land owners, the Wayuu, who are respectfully known throughout Colombia as being fierce battle warriors in the times of Spanish invasion. The Wayuu not only protected themselves, but they managed to save their territory from the faraway settlers. This makes their culture particularly interesting because they have been able to retain a little more originality throughout time.

The trip to Cabo begins by making your way up Colombia. From Santa Marta you’ll continue north past the famous Parque Tyrona, cruise through Palomino and Rioacha and then finally end up in Uribia. From here it’s the end of the highway; in fact it’s more or less the end of the road. In Uribia you’ll kiss goodbye to what you might not have considered a comfortable method of transport for a wobbly old 4X4 that will be your entry into this Wild West setting.

Over the next 4 hours you’ll bump along a half highway, hit the gravel and then finish up in the Caribbean outback. Depending on what time of the year you visit the chances are you’ll be slipping and sliding through the mud. The 4X4 coughs and splutters as it uses every last drop of energy to get out of bog holes and 3 feet of wet slosh. Along the way you’ll pick up and drop off an assortment of people, items and animals, but I’ll save that detail for the ride home.

The first time you arrive in Cabo de la Vela it’s nearing night, you’ve had a relatively brutal trip out there and you look to call it a night before exploring in the morning. If you’re on a budget then accommodation is your best friend in Cabo. Due to the government’s initiative to increase tourism to the region they have relaxed the laws on hospitality. As a result anybody can receive tourists into their home and this creates a plethora of hospedaje options. There are options for travellers not exploring on a shadow of a budget, but for the most part you can string up a hammock for $3.

When you stay with locals you won’t find a kitchen to cook, but the Wayuu will cook you breakfast, lunch and dinner for a slightly higher price than what you’re used to. You save on accommodation, so it balances out and you have a few premier options. Lobster is a delicacy for around $15-25, which is expensive compared to most meals, but an absolute steal in comparison to other places around the world. If lobster isn’t on your pallet, or in your wallet, you can also grab a decent sized fish with salad and rice for $8-10.

Or perhaps you’d like to dine on one of the traditional dishes of the region. Chivo, Spanish for goat, is a local cuisine famous amongs the Wayuu for not only the abundance of goats they have wandering around the outskirts of town, but also for the preparation method. In addition to the tough overcooked meat of the goat you’ll be treated to the stomach and all the greasy fat that comes with it. It’s worth a try, but probably not a dish you’ll come back to.

Once your stomach’s full, of stomach, you can set off on a very limited expedition of Cabo’s neighbouring activities. There’s a lighthouse out at the far point, however don’t get excited. It’s a very plain metal structure, however from this point at sunset you will get to witness some amazing scenery. It’s an ideal contrast of crystal Caribbean on one side, dry dusty desert on the other and a beautiful sunset that splits the two and sends out all kinds of colours. After the lighthouse point there are a couple of beaches in Ojo de Agua and Pillon de Azucar that are handy half day trips, but in comparison to other Caribbean beaches are nothing to write home about.

After a few days you’re ready to head back to civilisation. The novelty of showering in the ocean because you need to pay for water starts to wear off and you want a couple of ‘home’ comforts like a flushable toilet and some fresh fruit. You hail down the same 4X4 you arrived in at 3am. You’ll be packed into the back with the usual suspects; a man holding a chicken, 3 hogged tied goats at your feet and another 12 or so people crammed in. Along the way you’ll make some random stops in the middle of nowhere for new additions. Someone will take out a goat or add another one in, or if you’re like us you’ll get to experience 3 massive desert tortoises getting hoisted onto the roof and packed on top of each other before you continue on your way.

When you finally land in Uribia again the trip will feel like a whirlwind, but in the weeks that follow you’ll definitely look back on it as being a crazy adventure. If you’re in the area, have the time and feel like something different we would definitely recommend heading up to Cabo de la Vela. If anything it’ll be a great story to tell your friends!

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