Mexico redeemed itself.
After Cabo San Lucas 2 years ago – the tropical storm, the overly pushy vendors/drug dealers/whores, rude semi-inclusive resort staff, and (clears throat) the Montezuma’s revenge – we swore off Mexico and decided instead to throw our hard-earned money at the Caribbean.
A few of our friends (extremely high-maintenance ones, BTW) had a great experience on the Mayan Rivera, the Mexican Yucatan Peninsula. So we gave the country one more chance. It is close, just across the Gulf, and relatively cheap to get to.
This one was all on me. I chose Playa del Carmen, read the reviews, and booked the room. It better be freaking amazing.
It kind of was. The Royal Playa del Carmen. Beautiful hotel, beautiful views, and it didn’t reek of *Fabuloso.
*(If you aren’t familiar, Fabuloso is a fluorescent Mexican cleaning product that pretty much just masks everything with a heavy perfume. It’s so strong, in fact, that it will make your eyes water, nose run, and you can actually taste it in the back of your throat. It’s an assault on pretty much all the senses at once. I’m not sure how it’s possible, but when we were in Cabo, even the beer tasted like Fabuloso.)
The staff at the Royal Playa was unbelievable, every single one of them was so pleasant….almost in a “Stepford Wives” kind of way. Nobody made fun of my restaurant quality Spanish…….that I attempted to use every chance I got. (Usually to order Jamie something like an octopus cocktail that I really wanted but didn’t want to look like a pig) The guy painting the wall outside of our room even showed me how to get ice from the machine. In Cabo, I always felt like I was bothering them…..with my wanting a clean fork and all….but not in Playa del Carmen at the Royal. Our requests were their pleasure.
The best part of the trip; not a single person there ever mentioned time shares. In fact, even on the street, the sales pitches from the vendors seemed mild. Sure, we were offered cocaine…..but only once. My Pancho Villa mustache opened up conversations with everyone, and they were all genuinely warm and friendly.
The beach? Well, the water was a little…..uummm, nasty. There’s a seaweed infestation along the Caribbean right now…so the beaches were pretty much deserted.
No worries, the hotel pool – with the swim-up bar – was rocking. (Photo bomb of Jamie behind my mojito)
I wanted to see Tulum. It was tops on my To-Do-In-Mexico list. In fact, it was the only thing on my list. The girl at the hotel excursion booking desk suggested that if we wanted to see Tulum, “Why not take the Jungla Maya Adventure?”
If I’d known that I’d be dangling shirtless from a rope over the jungle, I’d have probably said “no”, but by that point it was too late.
They asked us to leave everything we’d brought in a locker; hats, sunglasses, shirts etc…….then shower off any sunblock, lotions and bug repellent. We also had to leave our cameras behind. But don’t worry, there would be a camera crew taking pictures that would be available for sale later. Of course there was…
Then we took a 10 minute ride through the rain forest in the bed of a jungla truck. A “Unimog” it’s called.
(It was the equivalent of an hour on a wooden roller coaster)
First activity, we repelled ourselves 50 feet down into a “cenote” – a pitch-black, water-filled cavern.
Never thought I’d be able to do that. (The weight limit was 264 pounds……an oddly-exact number) We zip-lined over the rain forest a few times and finally into a water-filled cavern……(The staff caught it on video)
Did ya see the bats scatter when we splashed down?
There’s about 150 miles of underground river in the Yucatan Peninsula and we snorkeled through pitch black caverns with just 2 flashlights to guide us. We even partook in a Mayan ceremony with a smoke-blessing from a shaman. I wanted to package the flavor of that smoke in a candle.
Followed that with a short hike through the rainforest……in flip-flops. The girls were worried about spiders and snakes…… I was more concerned about jaguars and crocodiles.
There were 8 couples in our excursion group. Most all of them were on their honeymoons, and from some pretty dismal places; Iowa, Kansas, Wisconsin – places that our gay brethren tend to avoid living in. Not sure if any of them knew that we were “together” together. One of the girls from Indiana even asked us how long the two of us had been friends, without the slightest emphasis on the word “friends”. Maybe it was our matching tattoos, or nipple rings, or when Jamie and I started squabbling about why he absolutely has to be 50 paces ahead of me at all times – apparently, it’s because I stop to look at hummingbirds and/or orchids – but I’m pretty sure that most of them started to put the pieces together.
When the honeymooners from Boise asked us to take a picture of them in front of a Mayan pyramid, the husband said that he could take a picture of (pause) the two of us. Yeah, he had figured it out.
The second half of our day was at the Mayan ruins of Tulum.
Hot as Hades, but absolutely stunning. We highly recommend this excursion if your up for the adventure/activity. (AllTourNative is the company.You won’t be disappointed)
Then it all ended way too soon. On the way to check out of our room, we passed a bellhop who offered to take our bags for us on the spot. He then came to find us in the lounge when our car arrived and had our bags already loaded to boot. Unbelievable.
Really, we didn’t pay that much for this hotel. Thank you very much Travelocity.
As I said earlier, “Mexico redeemed itself.”
Remember? I said that at the top of the post.
This is the part of the story where I tell y’all what a perfect vacation it was.
And I wish I could say that……OOOHHHH, how I wish that I could.
But this, dear friends, is a story about James and Jamie on vacation………and every one of you knows by now just how our vacations go. If it’s not hurricanes or power failures, it’s plaques of locusts and general pestilence.
This trip, it was airplane engine failure.
After sitting in that hot can of an airplane, baking in the Mexican sun for 2 hours, waiting to return to Dallas, our pilot announced that there was a “small problem” with one of the engines and that “legally” he could take off, but…….. it was against his better judgement. “Legally” is a little hazier in Mexico than it is in the States. He actually said, “Better to be on the ground wishing you were in the air, than to be in the air…….blah, blah, blah…..you know the rest”. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this quoted by American Airlines employees. It’s their mantra. “One more day of vacation,” the flight crew joked. Texans, as a whole, do not except their fates without kicking and screaming first…….and there was quite a bit of that. We are very resistant to change, and our co-passengers were mostly upset about missing the Cowboy’s game. The 150 of us were unloaded onto the Tarmac…
….and herded onto buses back to the terminal. After passing through Mexican customs – again – we were filed back to American ticket agents who did their best to book everyone on flights the next day. Then more waiting on 8-people-at-a-time shuttles to take us to a nearby Courtyard Marriott that happened to have 100-ish vacant rooms. Dinner was generously provided – a buffet of ziti, ceviche, and French fries. Didn’t matter anyway, I had my dinner out of a bottle with a lime wedge crammed into it at the “Nuevos Horizontes” hotel bar.
We had to laugh when we checked in to the Cancun Airport Marriott, because that place smelled like Fabuloso.