Tag Archives: Cancun

There Is Not Much Quite Like

27 Feb

While walking on the treadmill, I started thinking about how lucky I have been. That luck has come in numerous ways, but I was specifically thinking about travel. My mind went to some of the great places I have visited and the great sights I have seen.

There is not much quite like…

drinking wine in the chateau of Inglenook Vineyards.Honeymoon 016

catching the sun set over the buttes of Monument Valley.West 2010 232

hearing the water break on the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor.

leaving an offering at the grave of Wild Bill Hickok in Deadwood, South Dakota.

watching the Potomac River flow behind George Washington’s home at Mount Vernon.

feeling the power of water rushing over Niagara Falls.

zip-lining through the trees of north Georgia.

climbing the mesa at Ghost Ranch and looking the landscape often painted by Georgia O’Keefe.SONY DSC

sitting on the porch of the Old Faithful Lodge and watching buffalo roam through the geysers.

lying in the grass of Jackson Square and eating a beignet from Cafe Du Monde.

floating down the Rhine River and looking at the castle ruins passing by.

staring at the presidential faces of Mount Rushmore.

playing Blackjack at a Las Vegas table and watching the chips come and go.

touring Graceland and seeing The Outlaw Josey Wales playing in the TV Room.

hanging out on a beach in Cancun and watching my stepdaughter play volleyball.Cancun - Volleyball

strolling through the Vatican and trying to get a glimpse of the pope.

reading a book by a pool in Costa Rica.

climbing a waterfall in Jamaica.

being mesmerized by the killer whales and bald eagles in Glacier Bay.

dancing to “Me and Mrs. Jones” in a nightclub in Chicago.

standing in silence at the bombing memorial in Oklahoma City.SONY DSC

trying to see the tops of the Giant Sequoia in California.

driving through Hereford, Texas and passing thousands of head of cattle.

betting on Jai Alai in Florida.

lounging on the couch and watching television with my wife.

Cancun – Descending Into the Polar Vortex

17 Jan

While in Cancun, we kept hearing about the Polar Vortex, this huge weather system that was bringing frigid temperatures into Tennessee and everywhere else. First, I wondered where the term Polar Vortex come from? Do meteorologists sit around and come up with sinister sounding names for weather systems. In the old days, I thought it was an Arctic Blast. Second, we knew that at some point we were going to have to go home, and that meant going from the 80 degree average of Cancun to something completely different.

We woke up bright and early on the day of our leaving and prepared to make the trip to the airport. We dressed as we had dressed each day because we did not take any coats. My wife said that we wouldn’t need coats in Cancun. Unfortunately, we would need them in Tennessee. Luckily, I packed a pair of long pants to wear.

We took the ride to the airport and got dropped off into chaos. There was a huge crowd of people trying to check in. It was made up of people like us who were scheduled to leave that day, but it was also made up of people who were supposed to leave earlier and were trapped by cancelled flights. We talked to some people from Boston who had been trying to get home for a couple of days. This Polar Vortex thing was so powerful that it cancelled flights in Mexico.

We must have hit the sweet spot because our flight was on time. That gave us a chance to study the airport. There was basically a duty-free mall. There was a Johnny Rocket’s. There was also some dude dressed up like the Mask. Put together, it was kind of surreal.

We flew out of Cancun and made it to Charlotte. There we had to go through the hassle that is customs. Apparently, the United States does not trust the capabilities of other nations. We had to get our bags and have them rescanned. Once that was done, we made our way into the terminal. It was chaos all over again. Flights were cancelled. People were huddled in corners. Those who were coming in on delayed flights were barely missing their connections.

Once again, we were lucky. Our flight to Nashville was only 30 minutes late. However, the way people were dressed gave us an idea of what was happening outside. Heavy coats and hats were the norm. In fact, we stood out with our short-sleeved shirts.

The flight to Nashville was a little rough, and my window seat offered a glimpse of what we were descending into. As we got closer to the ground, the area just looked cold. Hardly any cars were out. The sides of the roads were white with ice. I can’t describe what cold looks like, but I know it when I see it.

Walking through the terminal, our summer clothes were looking really strange. However, we planned ahead. The guy picking us up brought heavy coats for us to put on. Despite those coats, walking outside took our breath away. The last time we were outside it was 80 degrees. Suddenly, we were hitting air that was 6 degrees. As we walked to the car, I tried to keep warm by thinking of this.Cancun - Poolside

And this.Cancun - Volleyball

And this.Cancun 216

Despite the temperature, we were glad to be home. One thing we all agree on is that it is good to travel, but it is also good to return home. It was also good that my mom had made up a big pot of soup.

Cancun – Dispelling My Ignorance

15 Jan

When my wife came up with the idea for this vacation, she had a certain vision in her mind. It was a vision of lying by the pool with the sunshine overhead. On our last full day in Cancun, this vision was fulfilled.Cancun - Poolside

We had a prime spot by the pool and basked in the sun as a waitress brought drinks to us. We read magazines and listened to music. My stepdaughter played volleyball in the water and on the beach. It was a day that vacations are made of.

After the day by the pool, we went back to the room to rest and get ready for dinner. We got cleaned up and went the steakhouse that we had visited on the first night. The place where they called me Ricardo. We had a good meal with a few drinks. Overall, it was a relaxing experience.

It was also one of the first times I have ever done anything like that. I try to learn something new as often as I can, and I learned something in Cancun. I learned the difference between a vacation and a trip.

When I was growing up, my family went on trips. We packed up the car and drove across the country. Along the way, we didn’t do much relaxing. We stayed in roadside hotels, and, each morning, we hopped in the car to drive. My dad used to refer to a late start as “burning daylight.” We saw all kinds of sights, and I am lucky enough to have visited each of the 50 states.

I wouldn’t trade those trips and those experiences for anything. However, I have missed out on the experience of a vacation. I can count on one hand the times I have gone to a beach town and stayed in one spot. That’s one of the reasons I enjoyed this vacation. It was a new experience, and I am all about new experiences.

It was interesting to see what people do on a vacation, and everyone at the resort seemed to do the same thing. They played by the pool during the day. They went to the room and dressed up. Then, they went out to dinner. There were probably a few variations to that theme, but they weren’t noticeable.

I am not sure where I am headed with this stream of thought, but there are a few things that I know. I am glad that we went on this vacation, and I hope there are more in our future. I am also glad that I have experienced road trips because there are a lot of interesting things out there to see.

I used to look down on vacations as a waste of time because I was ignorant to what they are really about. They are about getting away from the daily grind and recharging your personal battery. That is not a waste.

I am sure other people have thought that avoiding the beach to go on road trips is just as wasteful. They are just as ignorant as I was. Trips take you to different parts of the world and help you understand what the world is all about.

Ultimately, there is room in life for both. Vacations and trips can coexist. Some time can be spent relaxing, and some time can be spent exploring. Both can be fulfilling and fun. We just have to open our minds and realize it. That’s what I learned in Cancun.

Cancun – Dolphins Like It Rough

13 Jan

It was raining when we woke up, and it continued to rain for most of the day. On top of that, the wind was gusting. The combination of wind and rain is not what you want to have at a beach resort. Two things entered my mind. First, I wondered how we were going to fill our time. Second, the guy that ran us from our pool chairs can have the ones he wants. The pool was deserted.

My stepdaughter had no trouble finding something to do. She went to the teen lounge and beat all of the guys at pool – the billiard kind. I hope they take that lesson with them through the rest of their lives. Never underestimate women.

My wife and I had to take care of a few things. We had booked a dolphin swim and wanted to postpone it for a day. I went to the booking office and asked if that was possible. The agent said that the session would not be cancelled. If lightning was in the air, then they would postpone it. However, it would never be cancelled. I couldn’t believe it. We had checked the ocean, and it was crazy. When I brought up the fact that it looked bad out there, the agent replied:

“Dolphins like it rough.”

You can’t argue with that.

We did a few other things before the scheduled dolphin excursion. By this time, my stepdaughter decided that she liked beating the guys better than getting in cold water. I decided anything was better than getting in cold water. That meant that my wife was the only one taking the plunge. We got to the waiting area and looked upon the ocean.Cancun 230

Yep, we were going out on that pier. Before the long walk, I took a picture of the brave soul who was going in.Cancun - Dolphins

I was supposed to play the role of photographer and got a few shots before I was told that photography was not allowed. Apparently, they had photos of the experience on sale in the gift shop. The idea of sneaking a few more pictures went away as my bodyguard hovered around. He looked like he had just stepped down from that Mayan pyramid with somebody’s heart in his hand.

I was going to put on this post the few shots I was able to get, but my wife threatened to do the heart ripping out trick if I did that. I thought they looked good. She thought otherwise.

She swam with the dolphins. We bought pictures. Then, we walked back to the room. That’s when she made the statement that she was the daredevil in the family. I pondered that for a second and thought, “Wait a minute. That’s not true.”

There was a zip-lining excursion that I seem to recall. My stepdaughter and I were flying through the trees while my wife had a hard time. I have climbed up the sides of mesas and have been known to climb a waterfall or two. The fact that I am not keen on water where I can’t see the bottom doesn’t mean anything. My stepdaughter and I may not be Evel Knievel’s, but we’re not wimps, either.

Anyway, we hurried back to the room because we had tickets to a show called Cirque Dreams Holidaze. They put Cirque in their name for a reason. It’s not the Las Vegas one, but it was still pretty cool. There were acrobats, jugglers, balancing acts, roller skating pairs. It was a great show. Of course, we had second row seats because we were second level VIP’s.

Oh, there’s one other thing. If you watch the video that I linked, then you will see a guy dressed like a soldiers with a blue hat. The next day, my wife saw him at the pool wearing a Speedo. I think it was the highlight of her trip.

After the show, we had dinner at the Asian-themed restaurant. Everyone said that it was the best one at the resort, and there was a long wait every night. On this night, we made it in, and it turned out to be pretty good. I never thought I would eat sushi in Mexico, but that’s exactly what we did.

Cancun – It’s Irrelevant

9 Jan

Our second day in paradise didn’t start out very well. Apparently, being a second level VIP meant that we had to go through an orientation. In reality, that meant that they wanted to spend some time trying to sell a resort membership. We knew that going in and thought that we could handle it for a while. We couldn’t. I knew we were in trouble when the guy said that he has never sold anything. People always want to buy.

We thought it would be easier if we got to the point. We were not interested in becoming members and nothing he could say would change our minds. That didn’t stop him. He was trained to go through the steps, and he was determined to do it. It was back and forth the entire time. We said that we were not interested, and he would plow ahead. No matter what we said, he would come back with, “It’s irrelevant.” Over and over.

“It’s irrelevant.”

“It’s irrelevant.”

“It’s irrelevant.”

Before my wife choked him, we got away and on with the rest of the day. Later, I saw a sign at the pool and thought, “Why would they put that sign up? It’s irrelevant.”Cancun - Pool

We survived the ordeal and made it back to the room to wake up my stepdaughter. She and my wife went to the pool, and I met them a few minutes later. After getting some food and getting comfortable in our lounge chairs, some guy came up and said they were his chairs. He had gotten up bright and early to claim them.

Now, I’m not an expert in pool etiquette, but it is hard to imagine that you can claim a chair 5 or 6 hours before showing up to use it. After a while, your claim becomes irrelevant. I could be wrong.

We moved to the other side of the pool, and everything turned out fine. We were close to the beach bar for VIP’s, both first level and second level. We were also close to a bunch of people with different accents and different tattoos. I try to learn something everywhere I go, and I learned that the south does not have a monopoly on rednecks. They come from all over the United States.

We also heard an accent that I didn’t anticipate – Australian. There were people from Australia all over the place. Neither my wife nor I could figure out why they were in Cancun. It is summer in Australia, a nation known for its beaches. Yet, they traveled halfway around the globe to visit a beach that can’t be as good as their own. I am sure they had a good time. We just thought it was strange. Hopefully, a few Australian readers can enlighten me.

My wife and I were pondering the mysteries of visitors to Cancun, but my stepdaughter wanted to play beach volleyball. Not the 6 on 6 kind. The 2 on 2 kind that they play in the Olympics. She and I went undefeated. That’s right. Karch Kiraly and the rest of those guys have nothing on me.

There are no pictures to prove my beach volleyball prowess, but my wife took a picture of her daughter while I was recovering just out of the camera’s view.Cancun - Volleyball

While I basked in the glory of victory and checked to make sure I didn’t pull anything, I also watched the people around us. There was a serious game of volleyball going on next door. There was a young senorita trying to do yoga in front of us. There were waitresses and other workers going back and forth.

I have been to a couple of resorts similar to this one. Jamaica. Costa Rica. Now, Mexico. I always wonder what the workers think about us. What do they think about us spending the money to travel? What do they think about the food and drinks that we throw away? What do they think about our conspicuous consumption?

I don’t know the answers to those questions, but that’s some of the stuff that goes through my mind. The guy we met with might say, “It’s irrelevant.” Personally, I don’t think that’s true.

Cancun – Like Dogs in a Cage

7 Jan

We were awake at 3:30 in the morning on New Year’s Day. Admittedly, I have been up at that time on that day before, but I have never done it this way. I went to bed at 11:00 and woke up at 3:30 to get to the airport. This was the beginning of our Cancun adventure.

I don’t remember much from that morning, but a few things have stuck in my mind. One was my wife telling me to watch out for drunk drivers. The other was not seeing any kind of driver for a long time. If you want to feel like Charlton Heston in The Omega Man, then you should drive around at that time of the morning on New Year’s Day. Oh, there’s one other thing I remember. The whole family – me, my wife and my stepdaughter – ate black-eyed peas and hog jowl for good luck. Around here, that’s a tradition.

We made it to the airport without running into any drunk drivers or mutants and had a good flight to Cancun. I tried to sleep on the flight, but that was an impossible task. I can never do that. My family, however, does not seem to have that problem.Cancun - Plane

Once we landed, the situation became more hectic. We had to make our way through immigration before looking for our transportation. We had directions to where our ride was going to be and made it there easily. However, there was no ride and no record of us needing a ride. After some quick negotiating by my wife, we were provided a driver to get us to the Moon Palace Resort. Before we could leave, he rounded up some other passengers.

One couple was from New Jersey. At least, that’s what their accents sounded like. I hate to stereotype, but they were stereotypical. He was kind of a round guy who stepped off the set of The Sopranos, and she was a little mouthy. While we waited for the driver, she started complaining about having to wait in the backseat and said something about us being treated like caged dogs. We had been on the van for about 2 minutes.

Luckily, we were the first ones to reach our destination, but it was not without incident. Our driver made a wrong turn and headed to the lobby on the sidewalk. I have only seen one other person do that, and you have read about him before.

The bellhop took our bags and led us into the lobby. It was a nice lobby that I hung out in quite a bit, so I am not being mean when I say this. When I first walked in, I felt like I had been dropped into the middle of an Elvis movie. You know – one of those where he works at a beach resort.Cancun - Lobby

They directed us to the VIP Check In. Yes, we were VIP’s for a few days. However, they told us that the room would not be ready for a couple of hours. I guess we were second level VIP’s. We ate at the buffet and tried to book some excursions. That didn’t work because we didn’t have a room number. We hung around until a room came open. It was a good room. It was close to everything and had a jacuzzi tub next to one of the beds. It also had a hammock on the deck. I would use it in the future.

After getting everything packed, my wife and stepdaughter made a beeline for the pool and the beach. I made a beeline for the bed because I didn’t get all cozy on the airplane. After a few hours of relaxation, my wife and I went to the steakhouse by the beach where we had some good food and some good conversation. That’s also where the waiter called me Ricardo.

For the rest of the story, tune in again. Same Cancun Time. Same Cancun Channel.

The Perils of Catching a Plane on New Year’s Day

31 Dec

A new year is approaching, and I can’t believe it is going to be 2014. When I was a kid, I calculated how old I would be when the year 2000 would arrive. I wondered where I would be and what I would be doing. The year 2014 never entered my mind.New Year

For the first time in forever, I do not plan on being awake when the big ball drops. We are catching a plane at 6:30 in the morning and will need to be asleep at a decent hour. However, that’s never how it works. When I have to be somewhere that early, I can never get to sleep. It could be the anticipation, or it could be the fear that I will not wake up in time. I check the alarm a couple of times and, throughout the night, I open my eyes to look at the clock.

At some point, the idea that I will catch up on sleep while in the air will enter my mind. That never happens. Many people can sleep on airplanes, but I am not one of them.

I say all of that to say this. The blog will be out of operation for a few days while we are in Cancun. I look forward to writing more posts in 2014, but the first week is going to be a big blank. Hopefully, there will be a bunch of good Cancun stories to write about.

Until then, Happy New Year!