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North America » Canada » Alberta » Calgary
December 3rd 2011
Published: September 30th 2017
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Geo: 51.0451, -114.063

It was the perfect plan - fly into Costa Rica and bum around for 10 days, eventually making our way overland to Panama City. From there, B would fly home in time for Christmas and I'd continue on to Colombia for a couple of weeks, before returning in the New Year. It was flawless - leaving early December meant celebrating B's 30th bday in Costa Rica. What better place to celebrate one of life's milestones, than on a tropical beach?

But of course, the best laid plans never turn out the way they were intended - for the first time in years, work was busy. Stupid busy. I'm talking running-around-like-a-headless-chicken busy. Headless-chicken-hopped-up-on-speed busy. So what did that mean? There was no way I could be gone for an entire month, from early December to early January - leaving mid-December was possible, but that meant being unable to celebrate B's big day on a beach, which was the one thing she wanted.

The flawless plan was re-hatched - have a quick getaway for her bday, come back for 10 days, skip Costa Rica and fly direct to Panama, then meet up with B after Christmas, in Medellin. Given the time and budget
Sign of a Quality Restaurant ...Sign of a Quality Restaurant ...Sign of a Quality Restaurant ...

... when the waitress writes her name in Crayon on a paper tablecloth! Food wasn't bad at Macaroni grill - big portion of crispy, juicy chicken parmesan, but the accompanying pasta was a tad bland. The bill was a reminder of how expensive Calgary has gotten - we're having a sit-down lunch in one of the World's busiest airports, and it's not much more than having a fast-food lunch in downtown Calgary.
constraints, San Diego appeared to be the best option for a long-weekend escape - only a few hours by plane and flights were reasonable, though it wasn't the right time of year to enjoy the beaches in Southern California. But then, through pure luck, we stumbled upon a deal to Mexico - for the same price as a flight to San Diego, we could head down to Cabo San Lucas!

Calgary to the southern tip of Mexico's Baja Peninsula, back to Calgary, on to Panama City, then Colombia, and finally back home - the perfect plan had evolved into the most convoluted game of connect the dots, on a global scale! Getting to Cabo San Lucas was quite the ordeal in itself - 12 hours of travel with a layover in Chicago was excessive for a three-night getaway, especially considering that a direct flight to London is only nine hours. But it meant being able to celebrate on that tropical beach, after all - and also scoring brownie points galore!

After a long day of travel, arrived in San Jose and stepped into timeshare hell, something which Cabo is notorious for. Stepping out of Customs, you end up in a hall
Gotta Get Me A Human-Sized Version ...Gotta Get Me A Human-Sized Version ...Gotta Get Me A Human-Sized Version ...

... self-contained, self-cleaning litter box. How cool is that? How comfy and tranquil would that be, doing your biz in a cozy-little space-age spherical toilet? Maybe a bit of Enya is played inside, with the occasional spritz of rose-scented perfume ...
full of service counters, and we were immediately greeted by a rather helpful gentleman, asking where we were headed. "Payless Car Rental? Why, this counter over there will take care of you ..."

And so it began - the hard sell, irritatingly kind in its delivery, making it nearly impossible to extricate yourself from the situation. It starts out nice enough, with helpful directions and tips but within seconds, you realize you've been had - offers of free transport, breakfast, tours ... all in exchange for a few moments of your time that ends up being hours, a non-stop barrage of high-pressure sales tactics, in a desperate attempt to sign you up for a timeshare in paradise. Sigh ...

After repeated "no thank yous" we finally made our way into the actual terminal, and boarded a shuttle for the offsite car rental desk. The paper work took quite some time to process, giving a young man in his late teens plenty of time to chat us up - another timeshare hawker, of course. But the sales pitch never really came, instead with him offering all types of tips and friendly banter - until we had stepped into the car and were ready
Nice Surprise ...Nice Surprise ...Nice Surprise ...

... not expecting much of the food at an all-inclusive resort, our first dinner was quite good - nothing fancy, but simple and well-done food. A caprese salad with a bit of a Mexican flair, some strips of fried tortillas provided a nice crunch that contrasted the soft cheese and tomatoes. Some incredibly buttery and delicious avocado was an unexpected bonus on the plate. The plate of sopes was also delicious, dense little pancakes topped with a beef, chicken, pork, and tuna.
to drive off. "Please come visit my resort, it's not a timeshare ..." Uh huh ... "How about free breakfast?" Uh, no - we're staying at an all-inclusive, remember? They understand people don't want to be rude and take advantage of that fact - but eventually if you're firm enough they will relent for that split second needed for a quick getaway!

Finally, we were off and soon after were pulling into the Solmar Resort - by the time we had checked in, it was nearly 9:30, and were informed that we needed to finish our check-in as the receptionist gestured to a desk in the corner. Quite obviously, it was a timeshare sales rep manning the desk - sigh ... but luckily for us, the restaurant was closing at 10, which gave us the opportunity to escape. Three timeshare pitches in the span of an hour - I'm surprised that a cop didn't pull us over on the drive to the resort and try to sell us something too!



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Shrimpy Shrimp Tacos ...Shrimpy Shrimp Tacos ...
Shrimpy Shrimp Tacos ...

... simply delicious, some of the tastiest shrimps you could ever have, deeply flavoured and crisp. The chipotle mayo was a bit rich, however.
Grilled Fish, Wrapped in a Banana Leaf ...Grilled Fish, Wrapped in a Banana Leaf ...
Grilled Fish, Wrapped in a Banana Leaf ...

... simply done, with a bit of a sweet and sour sauce - a perfectly-cooked white fish that melted in your mouth, with chunks of scallop and shrimp. The veggies were fairly plain, but delicious due to their freshness. The rice - pretty bad, but otherwise a nice plate of food.
Fresh Out of the Sea ...Fresh Out of the Sea ...
Fresh Out of the Sea ...

... an even simpler dish, lightly seasoned and grilled - perfectly done.


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