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Published: January 25th 2014
Life is like an ocean. It can be calm & still, or rough & rigid. But in the end, it's always beautiful. ~
Well we got home without a glitch or hitch for the most part. Coming from bathing suits and shorts to hats, mitts and jackets could be considered torture! But we've done it before many times, & I expect we'll do it again. I think it's harder for the kids than us toughened old birds! It's the price one has to pay to get away on a tropical trip. (You delight in our pain way too much!)
The only issue at the airport was going through Customs/Immigration as they did not have the staff to handle the planes landing. (We overheard a conversation from "those in the know" that there weren't enough staff) & I tell ya, the lines were extremely long & travellers were very unhappy, lined up ramps coming from the planes. I've never seen it like that ever before.
Once we grabbed our luggage it was chaos getting to the final step of handing over our customs card. People were all over the place because they had only ONE officer collecting the custom
forms and let me tell you, she was pretty unpleasant, yelling at the travellers to be "civilized".
We were 5 with Mom in a wheelchair (simply due to her knee so she wouldn't have to stand in the lines). Al was moving ahead & people raced ahead of us, so Al thought we were just behind him but we were a few folks back. So this officer was so abrupt with Al saying we all need to be together before we could go through. She yelled at Rory to turn the luggage cart around to go back in line with us stragglers. Rory couldn't turn it because of the crowd & she was getting flustered & upset, and this bleeping person kept yelling at Rory to move the cart. SO I dropped my bags and ran to help her with the cart & I said in a loud voice, "Can you stop yelling at her, she's only a kid & she is trying to move the cart but there's NO where to go". Like what the hell? Could any adult pick up a steel cart & lift it up over the throngs of people? What she was demanding was
insane. This mess was caused by Customs & Immigration in the first place & HELLO one person on duty instead of the regular 3 or 4 at that hour of day?
I was SO flippin' angry that this adult was yelling at Rory like that. She could eat my shorts. Have you ever felt in a moment where someone was coming at your kid in an unfair way that you couldn't given a fiddler's fart if you took them down? I was like, I don't care; customs can pull me aside, fine me or toss me in the tank, or tar & feather me but this is a really great kid who is pushing her grandmother's suitcase to help us get through the line & well...I'd like to see someone convict me of doing anything wrong at that moment. (given I think some people had their phones taping the whole confab this agent backed the frig down). Let's worry about the drug smuggler's comin' through & let us tourists go home where we belong.
The people in line were really kind to us once they heard her bellowing. They cleared the path for me to turn the cart,
then we got all together & guess what she did as soon as we did that? She told people to move aside so we could go back up to her to give our custom card. HUH? Clearly someone (her) is not getting enough fiber in their diet, air to her brain or maybe there were no small kids to steal candy from on the way to work & we got the brunt of her anger. She was nothing but a bully. (Even the airport rep who was pushing mom in the wheelchair had a choice few names for her). I at least told her to knock off yelling at my child. It's called IRISH DIPLOMACY: The art of telling someone to go to hell and having them look forward to the trip.
SO before I let that annoyance get in the way, back to Playa & our last full day.
SO OUR LAST DAY IN PLAYA!
We really wanted to grab morning by the biscuits; enjoy a day of getting up early and spending the day taking it all in before we had to return to the cold, responsibility, lunches, house work, work & routine (don't we
all know what that is like). It was another sparkling day; a day that makes you sit up and notice. The breeze gently flirting off your face & the sun rippling off the ocean making it look like it was doing a twirling dance.
Al took the girls for breakfast and Mom and I hung out, just enjoying our time by the ocean with me reminding her she is young and healthy enough to join us again, and if Dad is all well & happy to be doing his thing, who knows, do it again. Life is about hope, about dreams, and pick a dream and aim for it.
By noon Al & I took our daily walk to finish up some errands and to enjoy one final lunch together. We went to a spot way up on 34th ave (Shauna & Judith; friends who are going to Playa, pay attention😊 and we had an appetizer called Tequila Cheese. It is 3 cheeses, with tomato & onion flambeed with Tequila, served with warm homemade soft tortillas to spoon it on. Well if I had to explain it, it was a party in your mouth, a bowl of melted
oozing cheese with a gentle taste of Tequila and the onion and tomato flavor was just specky-tacular. So for those of you that know me, I will be figuring out how to make this at our next gathering; the race is on.
It's always hard to say goodbye to this place because when we leave, we always have something we didn't get to check off our to-do list, but hopefully like the last few years, we'll be back by summer. When it's even more lush and beautiful, less tourists and no worries of school, homework or projects for the kids. We have a plan to possibly stay at a private house on the island of Isla Mujeres and then at Luna for the balance. A nice combo of R&R.
By late afternoon I had taken the girls for a really inexpensive pedicure and Mom had one of THE best therapeutic massages she can ever remember having. It really worked out some kinks in her shoulders and she felt so good she was up for a walk, so we toured 5th, listened to music filling the air, and enjoyed a great dinner at Yaxche with excellent service.
ended back at the condo to enjoy the last few hours feeling the soft warm breeze on the balcony and I have not seen such clear vivid views of Cozumel as we had this trip, due to the clear night skies. We slept well, were up early and our driver Victor was as usual on time, professionally loaded our bags and off we went in this wonderful luxury van to the airport.
Dad was released from the hospital Thursday afternoon around the same time Mom's plane was landing, both able to come together hours after their "release". They were pulled together like the red string of fate...(see image of red string next to this to understand the idea of the "red string").
This was by far the least adventurous trip we've ever had in terms of not going on so many day trips and taking tours and adventures. However, prior to Dad getting sick, it was one of our most relaxing getaways we've had in years. Lara was thrilled at home to hang out with Kels, Casey and she wore auntie Marth out with rock band on the Wii!
Thank you Martha for taking such good care
of her; I bought you a McDonalds burger and it's in the fridge. Aw, did you believe me Martha? I'd surely take you out to Wendy's or A&W to bring it up a notch. OK Marth, you name it and I'll take you out to the fanciest restaurant in Ottawa. Bring your credit card in case I forget my wallet by accident (wooo haaa).
The truth is, I am very grateful to you Marth for doing all that you do, for giving us this splendid opportunity, for just being your kind generous self. You're a rarity; a special person (and I don't mean that because you fell on your head as a child) HAHAHA Don't get annoyed folks, she loves these jokes. So Al & I will treat you big time, take you out on the big town for the best steak and it will be our treat, you old jar of mustard you (it's one of those nicknames you have to be there to get...)
Thanks Linda for the pick-up at the airport, you are THE flippin' best person to call ever. You're like family to us...awwww. And Mom was thrilled to have Dan (my
brother) pick her up in a warm truck.
Now comes the unpacking and the laundry and the blatant reality that a margarita at noon today just will not be happening...can't guarantee it won't tomorrow (hahaha) but for today, no marg on the menu. I will just have to dream of the sound of the shaker with our marg in it.
Thanks for reading this trip blog; while not nearly as exciting as my Paris or Disney World blogs or even past Mexico trips. Nonetheless, I hope it allowed those that will only visit Playa with their eyes, to follow along. Some of you have said I will never be able to travel due to health, so I like to read your blogs. It is THE ultimate compliment and I thank you.
Before I end, because friends and family are heading to the Mayan Riviera this winter, I thought I'd share some facts & clear up some misconceptions along the way that you hear about Mexico. Mexico is so bashed in the media & well, because it's such a BIG country and the violence is SO way off from where we are when we visit, I want to
shed some light on some facts.
And well, I owe it to Playa del Carmen in particular because I love it so much, but also because it's important to know your facts so here's my version of "Get Educated About Mexico Folks".
1. The Riviera Maya enjoys 75 miles of gorgeous turquoise coastline which has being voted as some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The lush jungle lies to the west and the east meets the turquoise Caribbean Sea making it a wonderful combo.
2. It's UNBELIEVABLY safe & one needs to put it into perspective where it's unsafe due to drug cartel wars. The country is huge & most of the incidents with organized crime are in the north of the country in sparsely populated mountainous areas or well, on the Mexico/US border in particular Tijuana. So this is a moot point to you, a) if you're not involved in drug wars and b) if you're not crossing via a border town that is deemed unsafe.)
To give an idea of the vast distances from north to south, one of the cities often mentioned in crime reports is Tijuana in Baja California, 2,012 miles from Cancun
, the equivalent of the distance between Los Angeles to Chicago.
Right here in Ontario & Quebec we have the notorious Hell's Angels & the Quebec Mafia ie Vito Rizzuto (don't forget Quebec & its city/mayor/police corruption with its secret codes & operations) but people don't even mention that at all? HUM? Mexican drug cartels are about as interested in us tourists as our local mafia is. There are gang members in Ottawa that don't live far from us, and in 2011 they were recruiting members as young as 10 years old! Doesn't that just want to make you move to Playa del Carmen Mexico to feel safe 😉
3. Wanna know the truth about most accidents or incidents in the Riviera Maya? They generally occur due to tourists going there, getting loaded (usually young adults on their own for the first time), taking drugs & getting way out of control & falling off balconies, walking in front of cars & getting into fights with each other in bars etc. Yes sometimes there's other incidents & deaths but it is SO rare for a random attack in Playa & the area. Cancun tends to deal more with the spring breakers gone wild. Act like a drunken fool and you'll get in trouble...anywhere.
Check your murder statistics in your own city & you'll be shocked at what you find out. Right now all over the news, there is a violent sexual predator on the loose in Ottawa that the police are profiling & asking for the public's help. And funny enough, I hardly hear anyone speak of it. I don't let Lara or our other 2 younger girls walk alone, and yet we seem to ignore what's in our own backyard. I would not walk around downtown Ottawa at night, and in light of what has been going on in Ottawa South, muggings & robberies at our local library & OC Transpo stops, we aren't as safe as we think.
But we feel safe to walk in Playa del Carmen day or night, it's alive with tourists walking along, eating, sipping wine, viewing artists painting at night up near 24th, visit art galleries, there's shopping, all late at night & all safe. Go there & you'll see for yourself what I'm talking about.
4. It's beyond beyond beautiful, tantalizing, mystical due to its long history & unlike anywhere else in the world
. Ancient Mayan ruins belonging to what they say was one of THE most advanced civilization known to man and more advanced than us in this given time. Astronomy, math, art, culture, the Mayan calendar, wow.
5. Riviera Maya enjoys world class golf courses designed by, in particular Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman etc. International cuisine, wine & food festivals, scuba diving, snorkeling, zip lining, family tours to water parks, horseback riding, tours through lagoons, deep sea fishing, para-sailing & sailing, speed boat through mangroves (amazing), & catamaran tours are available with drinks & food included for your price. In Cancun at Exotic Ride you can take experience a race car on a supertrack, or test drive a Ferrari, Lamborghini, Merecedes, Lotus etc out on the open road while sightseeing the area! The world is your oyster in the Riviera Maya...
6. Playa del Carmen is quite international with European charm, & has its own little Italy section with Italian bistros & cafes, where you can see the chef outside the restaurant making a hand made pasta. Sushi is hand rolled at another restaurant, food is flambeed at your table, guacamole is made at your table; food is such an experience here. Many of these are very exclusive & expensive that would put many cities to shame with their food flair. And in the miles of beach to walk dotted with cafes, bars, restaurants, live music. 5th avenue is 45 blocks in length and for pedestrians only (no cars) and it's built along side the ocean so at every corner you see the sparkling ocean.
7. The people are the friendliest people; Catholic, kind, generous and willing to put up with obnoxious tourists from other parts of the world to share their culture and history. (That's why I tip more to make up for those morons). They are amazing musicians; the mariachis may seem like a gimmick, but just listen to a 7 person orchestra belt out Tony Bennett's "I Left My Heart In San Francisco" and well, it will move you beyond words. They are proud musicians and appreciate it when you notice...
8. There's a reason the biggest tourism magazines & online website ie USA Today, Trip Advisor, Forbes and news outlets like CNN and Today report how amazing and beautiful it is including the phrase from Forbes magazine, "worth every penny & very safe".
9. The water is purified and we drink the ice everywhere. It's 2014 and you are visiting one of the biggest tourist spots in the world. They don't aim to make you sick. Like any tropical spot, get your Twinrix shots before you go, be safe, be wise, like you'd do hopefully where ever you are traveling.
10. It's booming; tourism is way up and MILLIONS of Canadians visit AND live there. We all return home safely, suntanned and smiling. Wanna shop? There's Columbia, Oakley, Forever21, Nike...sadly the big corp companies are taking over. I prefer the little shops that offer hand made goods myself which I am happy to report still exist!
11. Playa is like our 2nd home; we have friends there, we have favorite spots to lounge, to hang, to just be. We love the culture, the language, the love of life that fills the air. It's a place where anything goes; you don't have to dress fancy, you can walk down 5th in sandals & a beach cover-up, and grab a beer or a margarita from a side walk cafe to take with you! Nobody cares if you're fat, thin, got a reallly bad outfit on, or are drop dead gorgeous. It's all accepted.
Frankly it's tiresome to hear Mexico dismissed with a wave of the hand, as dangerous etc. The Riviera Maya has the Red Cross there, a hospital, a hyperbaric center for divers & a licensed US trained Doctor right to your own condo if necessary. And well, you are just hours from home if you fell sick, unlike how far you might have to travel from other parts of the world.
Overall, we have found the negative opinions about travel to Mexico are always from..in general people that have never visited the area & know nothing of what they speak.
Wherever you travel, best rule of thumb is...get informed. But if you sum up Mexico with this: "OH Mexico, that's where the drugs are and the kidnappings take place etc", well it's totally wrong & you are sadly mistaken & misinformed.
Further, you are missing out on one of the most spectacular spots only a little 4 hours away by plane from Ottawa. Get off the plane, zip to Playa, and have a margarita in your hands in no time 😊
You aren't confined to a resort if you choose, unlike other countries; you can rent a hotel, condo, villa and walk, sail, boat, snorkel, dive, bike, zipline, and tour around this paradise and feel renewed and immersed in culture with colonial towns dotting the coast that are spectacular to visit for a day, & hospitality that will knock your sandals off (that's if you're wearing sandals) 😊
Yes I work for an amazing business Playa Beach Getaways that is in the Riviera Maya. But how I came to work for them was because of my stupendous vacation experience in Playa del Carmen. I love to share a good vacation spot like I do any good sale! Take it for what it is...If you know anyone avoiding Mexico, I'd be proud of ya if you get them some of the stats I just listed or forward the blog...
It would be SO nice to stop defending our vacation choice to Mexico! Now we are starting to hear, "OH yeah I've traveled to Playa or Cabo or Puerto Vallarta (Pierriette & Jacques) & we loved it & CANNOT wait to go back. ! Viva Mexico!
Don't believe me? Check out the Travel Channel's love for Riviera Maya. See the link below.
Well until we meet again, "May the good Lord take a likin' to you." Sal
OH and some of you have asked how to read my other trip blogs: so click below for Disney World & hit next entry once you've read the first one: http://www.travelblog.org/North-America/United-States/Florida/Orlando/Disney-World/blog-800102.html
Click here for Paris: http://www.travelblog.org/Europe/France/Ile-de-France/Paris/blog-755642.html
And click here for the article on the Riviera Maya via Travel Channel: http://www.travelchannel.com/interests/beaches/articles/best-mayan-riviera-beaches
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