Right off the bat – if you don’t live in the US, prepare yourself for a very long flight. If you decide to donate in Mexico (or any other international location) you must be prepared.
I decided 5 years ago that I wanted to donate my eggs. It took a very long time to be chosen for the first time. Two years ago, in 2010, I was contacted by GED for a donation, but due to work commitments I was unable to go. In 2011, I donated in India, and although it was through a different agency, I highly recommend doing a donation in India. I loved every minute there; I would go back any time. The food is amazing, (if curry is your thing) and the people are lovely.
About two months ago, I was contacted by GED asking me if I was interested in donating in Mexico. Of course I said yes! I absolutely love to travel, and going to Mexico would not be an opportunity I would get under normal circumstances. Turns out that the couple who wanted me two years ago, was still trying and since I was available, the choice was easy for both parties.
I was lucky enough to get a 10 year US Visa, which is exciting. My flights were booked, and to add to the excitement, I was told that I would have a lay-over of about 12 hours. In New York. Yes! New.York.City! I was ecstatic.
I started my injections on the 28th of July. If you’re a first time donor, don’t worry. It was intimidating my first time. But it gets easier. The needle is not big, and you can barely feel it. It’s not that bad. Promise.
We finally arrived in New York, and stored our luggage, and started walking. We must have walked at least 10km; we explored NY by foot, walking through Time Square, through 5th Avenue drinking in the sights and sounds. I bought some T-shirts (I had to!), and fridge magnets, since I collect them from every place I visit.
We finally took a bus to Newark airport, and a couple of hours later we arrived in Cancun, Mexico. We were dead tired, but still excited. If you’ve not been to Mexico, I should tell you: it is hot. Super hot. Even at night. But it feels so similar to India, that I instantly knew I would love it here.
By the time we arrived in Cancun, I was really feeling the effect of the hormones. You can get quite bloated, and it can get very uncomfortable. But it depends on the person. My donation in India was very uncomfortable. But I’ve lost weight since then, and I guess this month my body just had more to offer.
We checked into the Ibis hotel. My room was very nice. It’s neat, modern, clean and comfortable. There is a TV, internet access, an aircon, and an on-suite bathroom that can prove to be life changing after about 40hours in transit.
We went to our first scan the morning after we arrived. I was very impressed. The clinic is state-of-the-art, ultra modern. The doctor, who doesn’t speak a lot of English, is a lovely man with a gentle manner. There is no need to worry about the language barrier, there is always someone on-hand to translate if necessary.
After our scans, we had lunch at 100% Natural. It’s a bustling restaurant, packed with locals, serving super fresh juices and food. After lunch, we meandered through the streets, where we finally caught a bus to Plaza las Americas right across from the hotel. Plaza las Americas is a huge shopping centre, well worth a visit. I should mention, that if you’re not planning on using Pesos, only dollars, make sure you have small bills. They don’t accept $100 bills. It’s too big to change.
After a boatload of shopping, we went back to the hotel, where an air-conditioned room is a welcome relief. We had ourselves a little siesta, and all met up late afternoon to go to the beach. From the hotel, you can either catch a bus or a taxi to the hotel zone, which is where the beaches are. The bus is cheaper, but you have to wait for the right bus. If you decide to take a taxi, agree to a price before you get in. We caught a taxi, and got a beer at the beach before we started walking. We ended up walking for a couple of hours, getting to experience a gorgeous Mexican sunset. We finally settled at Mocambo, an intimate restaurant right on the beach, with a lovely atmosphere, live music, and great cocktails. The food was great, but keep in mind that if you eat or drink in the hotel zone, you will pay more than you would downtown.
On the next day, we went for a scan to check on the progress of our eggs, after which we took a bus to Wet ‘n Wild, where you can swim with dolphins. Now, truthfully, that’s not my thing, but the other girls went. I was on the observation deck playing paparazzi taking pictures for them, and getting a bit of a tan.
We took a bus back again, where we stumbled across a market with plenty of touristy stuff. I bought some amazing Mexican blankets and more magnets. While we were shopping it started raining and thundering, which was great! Warm tropical rain is the best. The rain let up just long enough for us to find yet another gem of a restaurant (with the help of a local man from the market). The food was so delicious. They had the freshest seafood, super tasty. While we were eating, it started raining again. Pouring, actually. We ran back to the bus stop, and hopped off right at our hotel. I was dripping, and absolutely loving it.
The next morning we went in for another scan, where we finally determined when I would be going in for my retrieval. I would take my trigger shot at midnight that night and would go in exactly 36 hours later. We went back to the hotel, and chilled out for a while. We decided to grab lunch, so we just popped over to Plaza las Americas where there are plenty of restaurants to choose from. Since it was raining again, we felt in the mood for comfort food. And odd as it may seem, we went to Chili’s. We don’t have a Chili’s franchise in SA, and I know about them from TV shows. It was actually quite tasty. I headed back and just hung out in my room watching TV. I needed some rest. The heat is very draining. Robin popped by a bit later and dropped off a gift from my recipients. That was so sweet; I’ve not gotten a gift from a recipient before. I set an alarm for midnight that night (actually, Robin did it for me). When I was woken by the alarm, I had to do my trigger shot. It is slightly more painful that the other injections, but it’s over so quickly and soon I was fast asleep again.
We spent the next morning at Market 28 after my fellow donor had her scan. It is an amazing market! Well worth it. They have crafts, and silver and art and fabrics…and EVERYTHING! Luckily, it’s easy to get there. From the hotel, you can just catch a bus to central station. You can take almost any bus that says Tulum Ave, as long as it’s heading in the right direction! Tulum Avenue is the main road into and out of down-town. You can just hop off at Chedraui supermarket (on your left) and pop across the street and wait for a bus that says Market 28. Easy-Peasy! And it shouldn’t cost more than 20 pesos in total to get there. In the market, you will also find restaurants where you can sit down and have a bite to eat and a beer to drink mid-shopping!
We decided to have sushi for dinner at Sushi-itto at Plaza las Americas. Beware. It seems that sushi in Mexico does not mean the same thing as it does everywhere else. My sushi was hot. It was baked. In an oven. Not cool. It didn’t even state on the menu that it was baked. I checked, twice. Beware! I had two pieces and decided I couldn’t stomach any more. We headed back to the hotel, and settled in for the night.
The next morning I prepared for my retrieval procedure. The day-of, you are not allowed to use any products. No body wash, deodorant, shampoo, moisturiser. Nothing. It is very important, as any smell can affect the eggs. I left for the clinic, and before long I was dressed in a gown and booties, connected to an IV (the good kind!). I can’t even remember falling asleep. When I woke up, I was in recovery. I slept for about an hour, and then we headed back to the hotel.
I was starving! I had not eaten properly in more than a day. I wolfed down some rotisserie chicken on rolls with cheese. It hit the spot exactly! The girls left me to sleep, and I got a couple of hours of shut-eye. Recovery was a bit harder this time, as I had so many follicles retrieved. I was very tender. I slept a lot, watched TV, and slept some more. Getting enough rest is very important for your recovery. You also have to drink plenty of water.
The next morning I felt better. Still sore, but better. I got some breakfast because I was not going to make the mistake of drinking anti-biotics on an empty stomach again! I headed back to Market 28 and did the last of my shopping. I just couldn’t find wooden salad spoons, so I decided to give Market 23 a try. Market 23 is smaller than Market 28, with much less variety and slightly dirtier. But I found my spoons there, so I was happy. I took a taxi there, which only cost me 25 pesos. From the market to the hotel I took a taxi again, for 25 pesos. Yes, the bus is cheaper, but I was hot and wanted to get back fast. Taxi fares are also reasonable when you’re travelling in the downtown area.
I went for yet another scan later that afternoon because the doctor just wanted to make sure that there was no fluid build-up. After the scan, we headed to the hotel zone where we had a couple of drinks and supper. I definitely recommend going there one night, as it is what Cancun is famous for.
Early the next morning, I went for my final scan, where the doctor confirmed that there was no fluid build-up, and I was fine to fly. After my scan, we headed for the central bus station (aka Centro) where we bought tickets to Tulum (The place, not the avenue). It is where the only beach-side Mayan Ruins are located. It’s quite a drive (about 2 hours), but so worth it. We explored the ruins, and afterwards stumbled across a gorgeously secluded beach called Playa del Santa Fe. We had lunch at the only beach bar in sight and made friends with the barman, who organised a snorkel trip for us. We took a boat with our guide who was a young, tanned and bubbly guy named Ulysses. He took us to the reef of Santa Fe, where we snorkelled for an hour. We bought him a beer when we got back, and then started our trip back to Cancun. Two and half hours later, we were back at Ibis, slightly worse for wear, slightly sunburned, but completely overjoyed with the amazing day we had.
We had our last dinner at the restaurant right next to the hotel, since we wanted to be back early so we could pack. The pizza was delicious, and their prices are quite reasonable.
The packing was tedious (after all the shopping I had done). The last thing to do was to take on the long trip home.
So, here is my need to know information:
- Don’t be scared. Cancun is safe. We did not once feel threatened or scared.
- Don’t be naïve. Even though it is safe, be aware of your surroundings, watch your stuff, and don’t go out alone at night.
- Be friendly. The locals are nice, and they try hard to communicate in a language you understand. You should do the same. Try to learn at least the basic Spanish phrases to help get you by.
- Bartering at the market is acceptable, even encouraged, but don’t be cheap. Know what something is worth, and don’t pay more than that. Don’t try to get a steal though; these people are also trying to make a living.
- Pack light. You won’t need more than one pair of jeans, a couple of shirts, shorts, skirts and dresses. Don’t forget your bikini.
- Do some research before you go, and figure out what you want to do.
- Do as much as you can with the time you have.