Day 1 on the Riviera Maya - The Resort

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April 28th 2009
Published: April 30th 2009
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THURSDAY: We left really early. How early? 550am early! Which, of course, meant that we had to get up at about 4am, to get to the airport in plenty of time to eat something and then get to the gate. Anyways, the only highlight of that first trip was the group of golfing buddies that clambered onto the plane behind us, headed to a weekend of who-knows-what in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. They had no doubt begun to make the most of their weekend free pass away from their wives and kids, and their giddiness created all kinds of noise throughout the flight to Atlanta as they shared their inside jokes and ragged on each other. Thinking that we smelled a hint of booze emanating from them, CC and I did not find the volume of their chattering to be all that amusing, but we did see the humor in their inadvertent sharing with the rest of us that one of them had driven to the Akron-Canton Airport on accident and then gotten himself pulled over by the police for speeding on his way to Cleveland's Airport. As such, he did not make it in time for this flight. I don't tend to revel in making light of others' tragedies, but part of me wonders how much the huge forest fire in the Myrtle Beach area might have affected their plans for the weekend.

We had a three hour layover in the ATL (where we experienced some absolutely horrendous service while breakfasting at a TGI Friday's), and then we arrived in Cancún around 1245pm. Nice. We snagged a shuttle to our resort and in about 10 minutes, we arrived. The first thing that struck me was that the resort itself is about a mile from the actual turn off of the highway, at the end of a road that was cut through a dense tangle of mangrove trees. Signs warned motorists to watch their speed because raccoons, coatis, flamingos and turtles make the area their home. We checked in, went to our rooms and got ready to hit the pool - and it was only 230pm.

Since we were both famished, we went to the resort's Mexican-themed restaurant, named Zócalo, where we had some lunch and a drink or two. Being uncertain of how a place like this works, we were (pleasantly) surprised to find that we didn't have to "pay" for our lunch. After we were done, we thanked our waiter and headed for the pool. I can't put my finger on why I feel this way, but there's something very soothing about swimming up to a bar to ask for a drink. While lounging about, we saw the bride-to-be and her fiancée and caught up with them for a few minutes. After two hours poolside, we headed back to the lobby so we could purchase our tickets for the next day's tour of some historic ruins to the south of Playa del Carmen.

We showered up and went for some dinner at a restaurant called Tapaz, which we supposed might be something like a Spanish tapas place. Well, it was, in theory. In actuality, it was a bit of a disappointment. Either we could have inquired or maybe our "personal concierge" could have advised us, but CC and I - both veterans of Spain travel - expected a menu of different little plates of food, from which we could pick a variety of items. Not quite. There was no menu, but as we found out, there were four separate "courses" of small servings of different things being offered up by the chef that night, and nowhere was this list posted. (We learned later that the plates were different the following night. Perhaps they have a rotating set of "tapas" that they switch up throughout the weeks?) The got us going with little bread rolls that came with three dipping/spreading sauces - hummus, green olive paste and olive oil with chili powder. Course one was corn with mayo and chili powder. Never have I thought of combining those items, but believe it or not, it was sort of deeeelish. Course two was two BIG shrimp with a special sauce, joined by two warm bacon-wrapped asparagus spears. Course three was two little skewers of beef and two of chicken, both covered with the same sauce, which was tasty. Course four was some beef fajita action - corn tortillas with grilled beef and onions and peppers. Dessert was a trifecta of chocolate items. So all-in-all, it was not what we expected, but it turned out to be decent and filled us up, although we didn't really realize that until we were done. Other guests who went there the following night told us they were served four different sets of food. Interesting.

An aside to the meal there - seated near us was a table of about ten or so Italian-Canadians, including two little girls who were maybe two and four years old. These chicas were running all over the place and essentially tackling each other onto the floor every two minutes. Eventually, one of the men at the table - their father? - started chanting "BED TIME! HEY EVERYONE IN HERE, SAY IT WITH ME NOW! BED TIME!! 1! 2! 3! WHO'S WITH ME NOW?? BED TIME!!!" Some diners joined in the chant. Others (CC and I) sat and stared, wondering why nobody was just straight-up taking these girls back to their room... or why they were even out and about at 9pm anyways. Eventually, these girls moved on to terrorize a little two-year-old boy who was also in the restaurant, tackling and slapping him around. Yeah, the place turned into Toddler Rumble '09. Crazy.

From Tapaz, we went next door to a bar/lounge called Mojitos to meet up with the other wedding guests who had arrived that day. We had a few bevvies and chatted a little bit before heading to our room for the night. But before we left, our entire group was... entertained by the fact that a group of dancers (ostensibly hired by, or maybe even already otherwise employed by the hotel as bellhops, concierges, etc.) came out and was shaking what they had in a number of routines and costumes. Some were skimpy (Jeannie outfits for one tune) and provocative (lots of pelvis-thrusting and grinding in the routines). It was all a little confusing to our entire group, so like good tourists, we took photos had a few mojitos and then got out of there.

Okay, Friday is obviously next. Thanks for reading!


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