Friday, January 14, 2011

Winter Escape - Playa Del Carmen Trip

Time to Get out of Town. Winter in Illinois pretty much sucks. We try to escape for a few days after the dust from Christmas settles. This year we booked a stay at the Iberostar Paraiso Del Mar resort in Playa Del Carmen, a city in the Riviera Maya section of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Trivia and Being Sick. Our flight out of Lambert St. Louis International Airport was 7:00 a.m. Saturday, so we opted to spend the night in St. Louis. I had been feeling kind of puny all day and attributed it to some sinus issues that may or may not have been a virus. Swimming tends to mess me up so it's hard to say. It was 7:00 PM when we got situated at the Hilton near the airport, we were both hungry. Rather than venture out into the cold, we opted for appetizers and some wine at the Hilton bar. Initially this seemed like a good plan. The appetizers were great --- crab cakes, ahi tuna and a quesadilla. I quickly drank a glass of Australian Chardonnay, then had another. A hilarious fellow working at the Hilton started up a trivia contest --- you could win a drink or apply that to your bar tab. Steve answered a question correctly, something about how many million miles the earth was from the sun, and gave me his drink coupon.

My head was spinning a little when we left the bar, kind of unusual for me. I figured all I needed was some rest. Lying down proved to be a mistake. 49 years old and getting bedspins. Unbelievable. Pretty soon I was on my knees in the bathroom seeing crab cakes for the second time. It was nasty and bad and undignified. Steve slept through all of this, oblivious to the drama a few feet away.

Flight was uneventful. My stomach felt like sandpaper and fortunately there was no turbulence. We stepped into the humidity of the Cancun Airport, got through customs, picked up our luggage and made our way through the timeshare sales people and the guys wanting to cart our luggage, looking for the Apple rep. Found them outside by the shuttles. Sunshine felt wonderful. Bit of a cluster getting onto the correct shuttle, mostly because we were unfamiliar with the process. It all worked out and we crammed into a van with a bunch of other people all bound for different resorts. Luggage was thrown in the back, along with Steve's winter jacket, which he forgot about and left behind.

The resort is beautifully landscaped and HUGE. Using my Garmin, I learned that it was 4/10ths of a mile from the lobby to our building. This is a plus for me, although it pissed some people off that they had to walk so far. Like most hot weather resorts the lobby is very open and there were "ponds" that contained swans, flamingos, turtles and fish. Fountains keep the water oxygenated.

There is towel art in your room. You almost hate to dismantle it. There was what I think is a hippo when we got to the room. The next day was a flying fish. I hated to destroy it with that cute, hopeful face staring at me, but really needed a towel.

We took a shuttle over to Playa Del Carmen one day and wandered around Fifth Avenue, booked a snorkeling trip to Cozumel for the next day. We also were hounded mercilessly by the vendors. They were everywhere, trying to lure you into their shops. Steve bought some cigars and we booked massages, then went and got lunch at an Americanized sports bar kind of place.

The massage was probably the best part of that trip. My massage gal found the knot in my shoulder from swimming right away and kind of pummeled it into a kind of submission. It's been good as new ever since.

Monday was snorkeling. We were herded onto the shuttle for Playa Del Carmen. Stood in line to buy tickets for the ferry, stood in line to board the ferry. Hounded by vendors while we wandered the pier searching for our guide. Felt stupid because neither of us speaks Spanish. Snorkeling was good, saw barracuda and a very large grouper.

Tuesday took taxi up to Puerto Morales, had lunch and some ice cream. Beautiful town, less commercialized and more laid back. Loved the two older gentlemen playing music at the restaurant. Had some real ceviche and grilled grouper and a couple of Coronas. Rode back in a taxi that smelled like old pee.

Wednesday spent the day getting home. Our town got 3 inches of snow while we were gone. I was somewhat prepared since our pet sitter had sent me a text stating she was sorry about the big snowdrift in front of the garage.

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