Friends - Can't Remember Who's The Bad Influence

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February 3rd 2019
Published: February 3rd 2019
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"Our friendship isn't a big thing, in fact it's a million things"...~

Now where did I leave off? It's been 2 weeks since I did my one & only blog for this friend & family trip. Rest assured I was not abducted by the Pirates of the Caribbean (no matter how hard I tried...some of those pirates are hunky!) Although we did run into a Johnny Depp look-a-like dressed for the Vegas style act they have here at Coco Bongo! Literally he had Captain Sparrow's swagger and alcohol fueled accent. Hiccup.

I have been working on this blog for a week now. It's been a combination of being busy with family, doing a bit of work, and the rest being plain lazy. I swear if there was an award for laziness & I won, I'd probably have someone pick it up for me. Badda bing badda boom.

For those that give a fiddler's fart, the first week spent with my gal pals ROCKED! I think the antidote to anyone dealing with stress and frustration of every day life is a week away with your best gal pals. Not every one of my fave gal pals could be here, but Marth, Linda and Manon, - what a great time we had! From the moment we met at the airport, to the moment we arrived in Playa, it was sheer fun. To our at-home-spa night with facial masks that made us look like Freddie Krueger, to nights out listening to music, to great meals, day trips, reading, talking, walking, sight seeing, coffee on the balcony, it was all the cat's meow! I think I can be friendly with people, but just bring along a French Canadian and they'll know everyone by the time they leave! By the time our chum Manon left she was well known! And she taught every Mexican person how to say her name. M.A.N.O.N. 😊 When Manon is around, it's like the paparazzi is following you - she probably takes 500 photos a day. And she'll never tell you she's taking your photo. So half the time we look like our tongues are hanging out of our mouths and our eyes are closed. Crazed lunatics look better than us. (Hmmm, now that I think of it maybe it was all those margaritas that made us look like that?!) Anyhow, we all went along with it, even Linda. For those of you who know her, she hates photos & can somehow hide behind even a small peanut. What irks me is Linda consistently takes a gorgeous photo. Aww Manon, we all love you, paparazzi and all! And I thank god for your' click click click' because you got a lot of fantastic shots. (I hear her saying to the screen "so there'!) Love you guys a lot! Back to my quote - our friendship isn't a big thing - it's a million things!

The Island

A friend of mine, (well my wonderful hairdresser) happened to be visiting Playa at the same time I was there. So Manon & I took a cab to meet them at their resort to show them around. It's always fun to show first timers Playa, and to see it through their eyes. I explained how much there is to see, do, eat, drink, etc. I think it's safe to say they enjoyed it. I expect they will be returning to do some more exploring. Perhaps a day with our wonderful friend and tour guide Jaime! It'll be fun comparing notes when I'm back in to the salon to get gussied up. 😊

A few days into our trip, we took the ferry across to Cozumel and rented a Jeep to tour around. I've been there a few times, but never with a group of 'loco' (crazy) girls, not in a Jeep and not with a gal who knows the island very well which is Edith, the manager of our condos. NOW that was a barrel of fun. After we get our Jeep & a bite to eat, Edith grabbed some cerveza (that'd be beer talk), and off we went. We couldn't have ordered a better day, sunny, hot and not a cloud in the sky, with a mild breeze. And the cherry on top - a group of fun gals touring around with the wind in our hair and not a damn care in the world! Now how often does that happen? Me thinks not very often.

It's a slice of life touring the island, taking in the sights and smells, and seeing the beautiful trees, flowers and plants. And the birds singing...You're automatically in a zen place. Cozumel is a bird watching paradise too, with around 300 species of birds, many of them endemic.

Edith kept telling us about a natural ocean Jacuzzi we had to stop at that NOBODY knows about. After stopping for a drink, we made our way there. Simply stunning with the waves crashing over the rocks. I can't tell you much about it or where it is because I've been sworn to secrecy. So if I tell you, I'd have to kill you & I like most of you far too much to entertain the thought. And yes it's that serious of a protected secret! This is quite the spot that we got to experience. Once you maneuver the pointed rocks, you enter a small warm water area. Once the waves crest over the rocks, the water funnels in like a whirlpool. If you sit in a particular spot, the water spouts over your head. What a rush! Manon was yelling out with glee like a small kid again! There were 5 of us in that jeep. Only 3 of us partook in the natural Jacuzzi. Not throwing shade at the other two but know who you are!!! I guess somebody has to take the photos cause the paparazzi was in the ocean Jacuzzi! 😊

The island can be busy with visiting cruise ships (ack) but we lucked out that day. The 'cruise' people are a welcoming sight to the locals on the island. To the rest of us, it's hell on earth. They come in a pack, and swarm the town, and buy crap they don't want, need or will ever use. They bought the same change purse at the last stop in the Caribbean, (or something close to it). It's one of the reasons I prefer Isla Mujeres to Cozumel due to these gigantic floating hotels overtaking the island. But who can resist the charm of the area?

We hit a lovely beach bar to enjoy the sand on our feet and the sun on our face. Sitting around together, with the sun rippling off the turquoise colors of the sea is mesmerizing. Palm trees swaying, light music playing, and us girls soaking it up. HEAVEN! The island also has lots of iguanas who can be found sunning themselves on the rocks. You really have to watch for them as they blend in very well. The only downside is that while driving, a huge iguana ran out in front of us and wasn't nice for him, and very upsetting for us. I had put my head down to look at my camera & I heard a huge crack and felt the Jeep sway. I thought 'the driver' (to protect the reputation of this person I will not name her 😊 ran over a tree branch. We had cars coming at us, and cars behind us so she had nowhere to go & ultimately hit the poor lad. And he was HUGE. We all felt very very bad. I think we all had teary eyes. The Jeep had been full of laughs, and jokes until that happened. Awww tartar sauce. Insert swear word. Can't say one cause my Mom is reading this. 😞

Upon driving down a palm tree fringed road to a beach club, I thought it was time to lighten things up after running over Iggy the Iguana. As we drove we all commented on all the iguanas sunning themselves. So I yelled out of the Jeep to the iguanas, "Get the hell out of here. Run for your life, our driver took one of yours out back there & nobody and I mean nobody is safe. Tell all your friends!" Well that evoked a few laughs, and even our 'killer' driver laughed at that one. (We are so protective of marine and wildlife here so of course when any harm, even unintentional comes to them, we hurt.) Ahhh....good times ladies.

It was a great day and as the day ended, Edith recommended a bar near the ferry that is known for its sunset viewing. WOW. While sipping a glass of wine we were all mesmerized by the tangerine sun flirting with the purple pink hues of clouds floating by. A big cruise ship was leaving, and a small fishing boat appeared, and then the sun dropped rather quickly into the horizon and bit adieu. It was absolutely stunning. There's something about a sunset that gives you hope for a new and better tomorrow. Wondrous things like rainbows, sunrises, sunsets all offer great beauty if you're paying attention.

A week passed at a leisurely rate and I can't tell you gals how much it meant to me to have some R&R with all of you. Till next time ladies, this time together in Playa will remain in my memory in a very special place! Here's to an annual gathering here! xoxo

Next Up

Al's sister and her family finally got to visit us here, along with Al's parents who are seasoned 'Playa' vets! We had 2 condos so lots of space to stretch out, to allow everyone to do their thing. The same day the girlfriends left, they all arrived so it was some hustle and bustle. For the most part, very few hiccups with flights despite the awful weather in Canada. Some a little delayed in arriving and one delayed on the way home.

Of course you can't have your in-laws show up for the first time without a welcome basket. Especially since we've been planning this for awhile and the excitement of the family reunion was in the air. So off Math & I went to buy a bunch of snacks, wine, beer, chocolate, chips, peanuts etc., to welcome them to their condo. Everyone was very excited to be all together.

I think it was safe to say we all enjoyed our time together. Ava & her cousin Kass got lots of cousin bonding time. We don't get to see Al's sister very often, so it was nice to have a week to get caught up. We all enjoyed the morning ritual of gathering for coffee together, then meeting up for lunch/dinner, drinks, activities in no particular order. A few nights we enjoyed 'movie nights' with the kids which was very relaxing.

After a rest day upon their arrival and hitting the beach, the next day Al took them all to Xel Ha water park. Snorkeling, floating through the mangroves/lazy river, zip lining into the crystal clear waters, swimming into a cave, and all inclusive drinks and dining. Not too shabby. Then a few days later our friend Jaime took them on a day trip to see some ancient Mayan ruins, followed by a visit to the beautiful beaches of Tulum, then onto lunch and to swim in a cenote called Azul. Azul in English means 'blue'. A place so magical, with crystal clear waters that are ideal for snorkeling or floating in. And there's a cliff about 15 feet high you can jump off, and boy did a few of them take advantage of that! It's so clear, with colorful fish, that you can't help but be one with nature here. Cenotes are unique to Mexico - just one more reason to love this magical paradise. Thanks to our friend Jaime for taking them on a wonderful adventure. (The boys loved it so much they re-visted another cenote afterwards called Eden!)

Tuesday the whole family headed to a glass blowing company. What a wonderful experience for all of us. Here you can watch glass blowing, and then afterwards buy their beautiful works of art. We have bought many of their glass throughout the stores in Playa but they are often hard to come by.

They make a wide range of Mexican glass items including the popular blue rim glasses and color speckled glassware. To see the process of them making the glass is a very magical thing. We were invited into the area where the produce the glass and Al was invited in to take photos up close. The day we were there they had made vases, glasses and then shot glasses. Once the production of one glass style starts, the team of craftsman work as a team in harmony - each person has one step of the process & they all work together to make these pieces of art.

In the center of the workroom is the furnace, which is never turned off. It is 1150 degrees Celsius (or 2102 Fahrenheit) - holy mother of god that is hot. I cannot imagine in the summer months the amount of sweat these guys endure. On each side of the furnace there are openings that the craftsman use to heat the glass at different stages. The recycled glass is melted and then a glob of it is put on a pole. It is then blown to get the shape started. Then part of the stem is formed. Molten glass can be added for the base of the glass and then it is shaped. After the stem and base is formed then it's time to get the rim formed. It is heated in the furnace again and then the final shaping is done.

The finished glasses get put into a second furnace which is set at 500 degrees Celsius (932 Fahrenheit). Once all done, the cooling process starts overnight. The next morning the glasses are taken out and then approved for quality. Al captured some pretty nice shots I think. See below. It is great for kids especially to see how things are made, and that their glasses don't come from a cupboard!

Overall it was a leisurely week of a bit of this and that. On a first visit here there's so much to see and do, but it's nice to have a mixture of activities and some R&R as well.

Towards the end of their trip the two girls found a new love - ocean paddle boarding. Thankfully the company next door gives a discount. The girls went twice and rocked it. Pros. What a great experience, and physically demanding. While some of us sipped coffee (and other mimosas) while watching them out on the azure water, it was just a wonderful moment captured in time with two cousins from different parts of Canada spending quality time together. What great memories for all.

Cave Drinks & Dining

I don't know about you, but dining and having drinks in a cave aren't on my every day schedule. I've been wanting to explore this particular restaurant (Alux) for years. FINALLY when the girls were here we did it. WOW. It was so incredible we did it twice with Al's sister Shannon and her hubby Craig. I think it's safe to say it blew everyone's socks (er sandals) off. I kept thinking my sister Cindy would LOVE this. Perhaps your next visit here Cin!

Talk about a surreal experience to dine in an underground cave over 10,000 years old. This is a gorgeous very well designed restaurant. You enter by going down torch lit steps. And once you enter, it's candles, chandeliers and beautiful music. You are met by a welcoming staff, and the charge per person if you aren't dining there is approx. $10 CAD which includes your tour and a cocktail/beer in the lounge when you are done. Holy smokes this was cool! Man I have great ideas even if I say so myself. 😊

There are intricate beautifully lit pathways once you leave the main bar and dining area to see the rest of the restaurant. It's strangely cozy and very romantic with flickering candles and torches lighting the way. The temperature is perfect; light fans and air conditioning keep the moisture out and due to being underground it offers a very comfortable temperature. It doesn't feel damp, cold or too hot. Perhaps in the summer it's different. The caves offer stalagmites too, plus waterfalls pouring through the rocks. I tell you it's dang amazing!

Alux is open to all guests as long as there is not a private event going on. There is even a Mayan ceremony room where you can choose to have a wedding or vows renewed. We spent ten - fifteen minutes walking around the entire cave loop system, stopping to look at all the different romantic dining and bar areas which includes a cenote and waterfalls. While the main areas are open with almost cathedral-like ceilings, there are some secluded areas which are designed for those romantics. Us girls couldn't wait to cut a path to the bar. Forget romance, give us a margarita! And the bar and lounge area is divine! Be sure to hang around below to see the photos!

Thanks for coming Shannon, family, Ray & Pat. We had a great time, and hope you did too! Till next time - and sure hope it's sooner than later we meet up. Twice in one year - we're doing pretty good here! xoxoxo

With a Little Sun Comes A...

Our weather has been for the most part beautiful, but last Sunday turned ominous in a matter of minutes. The beach was booming and sunny with a temperature of 30C. All of a sudden these black storm clouds came from the west. Before long huge black clouds were flanking the beach and then torrential winds and rains were upon us. We even saw funnel clouds over the ocean. A cold front moved in quickly and mixed with the high front, and boy oh boy... Luckily it was over rather quickly, but Playa sustained some huge tree damage, including a few big trees being uprooted, along with hydro poles. Otherwise, everyone was fine, and this area was left relatively unharmed unlike Cuba who sustained some major damage. This is very rare in what is considered the winter season in the Caribbean. The tornado, spawned by a powerful storm that originated in the Gulf of Mexico, hit western Cuba with winds of up to 100 kilometers (62 miles) per hour. We were very lucky that this neck of the woods saw no deaths and only 1 injury. The most we had to deal with was a lack of internet in one condo, and intermittent internet throughout the complex.

All Alone Again

I always find it hard when everyone goes home. Something precious and fun is over. Until next time right? Al & I have had a few trips now where we have stayed on to do work. Thanks to our girls and auntie Marth for holding the fort. Since Friday Al hasn't been feeling the best. Sore throat, and I guess a touch of the flu. He woke me Friday night at 2am and was very sick. Al is never sick, so it scared me. He thought it was also indigestion, so I'm running around like Florence Nightingale going through all his symptoms to make sure it's not heart related. He's had a clean bill of health but still...night time everything is magnified. I also sprained my ankle the day Al's family went home and subsequently went over on it again the next day, so there I was limping around trying to care for him with a swollen ankle. Oy vey.

Yesterday we helped out a fave restaurant with some updated photos. Beautiful restaurant with an amazing menu, great staff, and steps off 5th Avenue. Hard to compete with 5th but I pray they do. 5th is way over-rated. We did some nice staging with food and cocktails. Guess who got free margaritas and food on the house? Yep, you're looking...or reading at me. Of all days Al was not totally up to eating/drinking but he had a bit.

So their menu is a real treat. We've had fish tacos before but for the first time, we had fish tacos with smoked marlin fish. Yes I put it in italics it was that good. If you've never tasted marlin, is is a whitefish with a very mild but meaty flavor. Sabor Al Mar, the name of the restaurant (which means Taste of the Sea) where we did the photos does their own in-house smoking of fish. All Al & I can say is WOW! Al thought it was pork first due to the look & meaty taste of the fish. We also enjoyed jumbo coconut shrimp on a fresh salad with curry dressing and a chipotle ailoi dipping sauce. You had me at 'ailoi'.

The staff are amazing and we've known one of the waiters for 5 years now. Despite the restaurant changing hands, they still have managed to keep a great staff. There are hundreds and hundreds (maybe 700) restaurants in Playa. Competition is tough - you need to stand out. So I offered the manager some tips from someone who knows what a tourist or local for that matter is looking for. I suggested he update his outside signs. Don't just advertise that lunch is 30 percent off. Tell people what your specialty is! Fresh frigging fish tacos (smoked even!), coconut jumbo shrimp, beer battered jumbo shrimp, and huge damn margaritas! OK I didn't tell them to put damn on the menu, but to get a leg up he needed to go out for business here. So Hector got to work on his signage while we enjoyed our amazing lunch. We invited the waiter and bartender to enjoy a bite with us as they had prepared us tons of food. We noticed people walking by checking out his signs. So here's to them increasing business.

So as the day progressed, Al got his second wind & started to feel a bit better. We enjoyed a beautiful night out last night, and both of us had our appetite back, and my ankle is healing. I woke this morning at 7am with the sun peeking through the curtains. It's a beautiful sunny day with an expected high of 34C with a nice breeze. Al is still not feeling the best but by comparison much better than even a day ago. I may have to look for that Captain Sparrow lad to spend some time with if this keeps up. C'mon Al, rally. You can do it! 😊

Today is Superbowl so the place will be hopping. I guess we'll walk the beach to see what shenanigans people will get up to. They will do like previous years - all the beach clubs will have huge flat screens and couches out on the beach. An army of waiters will be brought in to meet the needs of the drunken loud viewers. Playa is busy, and many fly in from the States for Superbowl weekend. Food and drinks will be flowing. People yelling, screaming, cheering...and Al & I will do what we always do. Find a quiet spot away from it all to take a breath, to enjoy the view (his wonderful view of me...heh heh) and try to enjoy the calm, beauty and serenity of wherever we happen upon. We discussed going to a private beach for the day...It'll all depend on my patient.

Tomorrow we will be doing photos of another one of the company's condos. The owner has done some upgrades, and the complex pool underwent at huge renovation. Got to earn our keep here.

Signing off for now, (see photos over 2 pages!)

Florence Nightingale and her cute patient...


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3rd February 2019

Fun times
Looks like it has been busy with many guests. Lots of fun and memories to be had. Enjoy yourselves!
3rd February 2019

Fun Times
We couldn't ask for more...happy to have spent time with loved ones. Wish you could've come...skeletons asked about you :) Heh heh
3rd February 2019

Looks like you had a oodles of fun with family and friends! Salud!
3rd February 2019

It was fantastic...wonderful time spent together...Hugs Barb!

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