Our story goes way back (where do the years go!). Perry and I first started dating around 1980 and frequented a restaurant here in Des Moines, Iowa.
Our favorite waiter, Dave (email if you read this Dave) entered a waiter/waitress race at a local festival. A two person team had to carry a tray of beers through
an obstacle course and whoever finished with a combination of the best time and the least spilled beer won a trip to some new vacation spot that was being promoted-they
called it Cancun. Well our friends won the race and returned with stories and photos of this magical place with turquoise water and white sand. We just had
to see it for ourselves.
SIDE NOTE: The festival was named in honor of the fish that strive in the silty waters of the Des Moines river, it was held on a bridge, and called "The Carp Festival". Years later, Perry and I would marry at the Little Brown Church in the Vale, and have our wedding party at the Carp Festival. I threw my boquet to a crowd of strangers from the semi-trailer stage while the band was on a break-we have a lot of great memories of that Carp Festival!
Trip #1: Experiencing Cancun
On our first visit to Mexico we stayed in Cancun at the Presidente hotel (there were only about a dozen hotels in all of Cancun). Nearly all restaurants were located downtown, so we took a taxi to avenue Tulum each night for food. I remember a place called "Blackbeard's Tabernacle" where we often ate and danced, as well as Carillo's, a place we still enjoy. Our only venture outside of the hotel was a bus trip to the ruins of Tulum, back when the main highway was a narrow two-lane road. Jungle on the passenger side would brush the windows the entire trip, and the drivers would fold the mirrors in because oncoming buses passed so losely that the mirrors would hit if left out.
We totally fell in love with Cancun, then people, and of course, the beach.
Trip #2: A new experience
Luckily, we ran into two German men who had found a room, but it was way over there budget. They offered to share the room if we would pay half of the $12 nightly
It was a concrete block addition located on the roof of what we think is now San Jorge hotel, directly next to the sewer stack which brought not so pleasant odors into the room when the breeze wasn't blowing. Our new friends explained that we could have the key because they could open the door with their switchblade-can this get any more perfect!
Our dining experience for the entire week was limited to a visit to La Mirtita grocery store for beer, crackers, and bread. Restaurants were out of the question. But on New Year's eve, I told my now very skinny boyfriend (Perry) that we should go out for an evening on the town. With what was his reply? I pulled out a credit card and recieved a look that could have killed. "We've been eating crackers for a week, and you had a credit card!" I guess Perry was a little tired of crackers. We found a restaurant that took credit cards (Gomar's lobster house), and ordered two lobsters. There we sat with parfait glasses full of butter and a plate of lobster tails. When we finished the only thing remaining on the table was a basket of crackers! (In hindsight we probably should have taken those).
Trip #4: Exploring the Riviera Maya
It kind of drives us crazy that the product we sell is a map, because it is actually a complete travel guide printed in a map format. In fact,
we originally set out
11 years ago to create the best travel guide ever made. After writing most of the product, we decided that it needed a good, detailed map-something missing from other guides. But how do you make a detailed map that will fit onto the pages of a travel guide? impossible. It was then that we realized it would be much easier and more convenient for the user if we put the travel guide into the map instead.
Today our guides are different from others because we base our products on an unusualset of goals. Our goal is to not only share the best restaurants, beaches, and tours, but we also strive to create an extension of your trip.
We want to help you enjoy the excitement of the planning process before you depart. And we also want to make you so comfortable visiting the Yucatan that you'll get away from the hotel and try that rustic seafood restaurant on the beach, or that little taco shop downtown. Laura and I would love nothing more than to have you return to work on a Monday morning and stand around the coffee pot sharing stories of the fishermen you dined with, the cave you explored 9on your own), or the Mayan village you visited. Leaving you with stories you'll remember for years to come would be our greatest goal (and you thought we just made maps!)
How we create the maps
We start by traveling through every street of an area with our GPS. We take readings for every intersection, hotel, and restaurant. We even walk the beach to capture an accurate reading of the shoreline. Those that have been following us for years, will remember the "Map bike" rigged up with a clipboard, GPS, and voice recorder mounted on the handlebars. That bike has been retired, but we still use bikes, rollerblades, golf carts, scooters, taxis, buses, colectivo vans, planes,
a LOT of walking