Sunday, 10 February 2019

Ien and Linda's excellent Riviera Maya Adventure, part 3. We get settled in and Ien has another mishap.

Warning: This travel blog is meant as a record that allows us to share and relive the experience as much as possible. It is not a literary endeavor. Innocent bystanders may be bored to tears by the amount of detail.

On our first night we tried to find the main dining hall but were stymied by the name of the place: Fiesta Hall. That, combined with the huge colourful images we could see playing on the back wall, made us think this must be where shows took place. We eventually found that the colourful slides just depicted food.
We were  hungry (next time, bring extra food on the flight) and wandered further afield. Soon we stumbled on what turned out to be the Friday special event: an outdoor market and an outdoor buffet with delicious Mexican food.  Lots of fresh vegetables, tacos made to order, pick your meat and condiments. We found a table nearby in the area that served one of the many bars, got drinks and happily settled down. On the way back to our room we even took a quick peak at the beach. It was a great start.

This photo of Sandos Playacar Beach Resort is courtesy of TripAdvisor.

The setup was between our section and the meeting point, just past the long pool. 
Ah, the Meeting Point! It is that pointy pagoda like thing with the thatched roof in the back to the left . Inside the roof looks like this:
We had to go here on our first morning to ward off offers of special memberships and claim some coupons. I got the wifi straightened out so we could let the folks at home know that yes, we had landed. Wifi in the room was iffy, but in this hub it was always decent. At any time there were people lounging around in the cozy swinging seats messing with their devices.
Others were asking questions or solving problems with the wonderful bilingual staff at the Guest Services counter.
We also had to go to another building to talk to the Sun Wings rep. This was partly to register for our return flight, and partly to look into excursions. 
The ones promoted by Sunwings and the resort turned out to be quite pricey and also included much that we were not interested in. 

Cenotes? Linda does not do caves, period. Quite frankly I am not crazy about them either. Ziplines? Shudder. ATV trips? No thanks. I hate noise toys. Chitzen Itzah was three hours by bus each way.

Another offer was for a day trip to Coba. In that place, managed by a Mayan cooperative, people can climb the pyramid and  have a meal cooked just for them by  Mayan people who supposedly still live the traditional lifestyle. Somehow that makes me cringe. The traditional life does not include being a tourist attraction. Pick one! We took some brochures and did not decide on anything yet.

I made a half hearted effort to get my lost jacket back. Sunwing man promised to send out an email to the Lost and Found section in the airport and get back to me. Yeah right. I did not get my hopes up but was pleasantly surprised to hear such a department existed.
 Chores done we headed for lunch at the buffet and then the BEACH! The weather was blue and warm and we fully expected two weeks of that.

In the late afternoon we went for a walk of about an hour. Out to the exit of the resort, left on Avenida Xaman Ha where we had been told there was a cluster of shops including a Starbucks. Or was that to the right? We did not find it. 
I knew I was out of shape, but am embarrassed to admit how much. There were no hills, no ice, no scary dogs, but I felt stiff afterwards. 
There is a show every evening at nine. Linda is a dancer and a lover of rock and roll and pop, I not so much but I was willing to try. That night it was a tribute to Michael Jackson.
It took only a minute before I retreated from the noise level. I don't care what the music is, I do not do loud. 
Meanwhile I got to play with the decent wifi in the meeting point, right behind the plaza. We were both perfectly happy with the arrangement. 

The next morning we decided to go for a beach walk  before breakfast. The empty beach to the South of our resort was one of the attractions of the place. 
The beach looks freshly vacuumed  because it was. Every morning around seven we could hear the sound of the machine that cleans off the seaweed. That clean white sandy beach, like so much in these resorts, is a carefully maintained illusion. 

This image, found online, clearly shows a quirk of the beach here. It has funny ridges, sudden drops. See how low the line of seaweed is in relation to the birds? Mishap #2 is about to occur.
Linda took the picture above just before we set out in the opposite direction. Note purse slung over shoulder. I carried it because I wanted to take pictures.

There was no hard sand for easy walking. We were merrily slogging through ankle deep water when I unexpectedly hit one of those drops, lost my footing, and tumbled with my left side into the water. My first thought was for the Precious: the new-to-me iPhone! I immediately lifted the purse out of the water. Linda helped me up and grabbed my sandals before they floated away. We  joked about this being an eldercare moment. There would be more. My foot had been twisted and gave some mild grief.

We wiped the phone on Linda's skirt and it was none the worse for wear. Yeah water resistance! However, later that day I realised the  e-reader had also been in the purse. It was toast. So much for being clever and packing a device instead of a pile of books. Fortunately Linda soon finished one of her books and I managed to download some things to iPad.

From a facebook post on this day:
The plan was for at least two walks a day, one beach and one park, but the stumble put the kibosh on that. Neither of us feels very ambitious. We are mostly happy to just hang out in the resort. Very boring for people who were hoping for pictures of adventure, but WE ARE LOVING EVERY MINUTE..

Sunday, 3 February 2019

Ien and Linda's excellent Riviera Maya adventure, part 2. Arrival

Warning: This travel blog is meant as a record that allows us to share and relive the experience as much as possible. It is not a literary endeavor. Innocent bystanders may be bored to tears by the amount of detail.

As usual Linda was packed and ready days ahead, and she prepared in style, with 20 nails ready for summer.

Going through security is a hassle these days. I knew about the limit on liquids, but not that it extends to gelly things in tubes. Have no fear world! Our intrepid safety inspectors duly protected you from the danger posed by a 144ml tube of Aveena face cleanser. Also, who knew that Dr. Scholl's insoles have metal parts that set off machines? Anyway, we got away. 
There were some interesting views but no way to know where we were. Clouds rolled in for much of the flight and when it cleared we were over the Mississippi. 
A small mishap occurred upon landing. I thought I had solved the dilemma of what to wear when traveling between seasons by working with layers: no bulky winter coat but a polar fleece with a zippered cardigan underneath.  Those items were stowed overhead. Also overhead, a mostly empty day pack. The idea was to stuff the warm clothing into the day pack upon arrival. Ha! We were sitting in the rear of the plane, in window seats. I could not get to my stuff till the other passeners had  gone and besides, Nature called first. Now one's brain tends to be zombified after six hours of just sitting crammed in tight with the other sardines.

When the clothes did not fit fully into the pack the smart thing would have been to just put the jacket on. Instead I stuffed it all in as well as I could, hoisted the half zippered pack and ran, or rather hobbled, after Linda through long empty corridors till we came to the arrival hall. Chaos! We found our suitcases, and that is when Linda noticed my back pack, gaping open and empty. We were terrified of missing our transport to the resort, so I did not dare to run back.  It would have been nice to have a Sunwing person in the arrival hall guiding us through that part. We had to go through a bunch of immigration lines first, and then somehow found our driver outside. Goodbye favourite jacket, goodbye any item to keep me warm on chilly nights. 
But never mind, we were IN MEXICO! Yeah! 
Selfie in the bus.
The highway between Cancun and Playa del Carmen is boring. Dare I say it? All highways in the Yucatan peninsula may be boring. The landscape is totally flat. Anything interesting requires going off the main road. 
It was almost dark by the time we got to our resort. Our first stop was the beautiful entry hall where were fitted with the magical armbands that would unlock the kingdom of Sandos.
The plastic bands are so light that you don't notice them at all. I loved never having to worry about having the key when we left the room. 
We started telling the porter that we would meet him at the room,  a ten minute walk. After a day of sitting queremos caminar! We soon lost our way in the dark and were glad to hop onto the golf cart a bit later. 
Almost there. #1427 was The room. OMG. Joy! Joy!
Honestly, if they had given us a map of the entire place and told us to pick a room we would have picked one close to what we were given.
Some reports on Trip Advisor mentioned that the rooms in the section closest to the beach were dingy and in need of repair. That repair must have happened, because everything was gleaming and new and worked. 

The beds were firm and super comfortable.

The cooler was kept stocked with beer and soft drinks. The safe was easy to operate and worked.  I could have left my small umbrella at home.
Look at that welcome package! Tequila, champagne, fruit, and two chocolate covered strawberries. The water cooler to the right was also kept full.
We even got robes! That really made us feel upscale.
The bench inside the shower was a nice touch. 
Whoever was complaining about dingy bathrooms must have had an unrenovated room. 
The room was kept spotlessly clean all the time, courtesy of our lovely Rebecca, towel artist extraordinaire.

I could almost have been happy to just sit on our cute balcony for two weeks, feeling the delicious air and watching the lively scene below.

This was the picture postcard view that greeted us the next morning. 
We could even see the beach and ocean from the balcony. It doesn't get much better.