Sunday, March 08, 2009


Some of you have probably been wondering just where in the world I was on vacation and now you know it was Cancun.

Our trip started Sunday, March 1 with a cancelled flight! After rushing to the airport, as is normal when traveling with Don, we got there to find out our flight through Memphis was cancelled. We, along with dozens of others, were now being rerouted through Detroit. Much as I think the Detroit airport is one of the nicest, I wasn't thrilled with starting our journey there. But there was a perk attached--we flew first class! I'm starting to rethink my policy on flying as cheaply as possible after going first class. Of course it was only the Detroit leg, a whole 34 minutes' worth, but long enough to give me a taste of better things out there!

When we arrived at our gate for the next leg, direct to Cancun, we found out it was delayed! I couldn't help think we would never get out of Michigan. We were told it would be at least an hour if not more, so we went to get some breakfast, way down the terminal, about 30 gates away, figuring we had plenty of time. We were just finishing with our breakfasts when we heard our names paged for final boarding! What?? It was only 10:10 and we were told our flight wasn't even boarding until 10:52. Somewhere something changed and we missed that memo. So we raced to our gate, glad for the people movers which really do move you twice as fast as just plain running. They were just getting ready to close the door to the boarding ramp when we got there, with me balancing "the purse," a cup of coffee, and another carryon bag. Then of course we had to cram our way into our seats, which weren't together. And also by then there was no room in the overhead bins for my carryon, so I had to cram that under my legs the whole 3+ hour trip. (My biggest pet peeve about flying is that people abuse the overhead bin policy, just so they don't have to check any baggage.)

So finally we were on the way, 2 hours later than planned, but finally getting away from the 17 degree weather we were having at home.

However, I was a little dismayed to hear that it was cloudy, windy, and 69 degrees in Cancun. What is up with that? I paid for hot! I wanted hot and sunny! It didn't matter too much what the weather was because by the time we got there and went through customs and immigration, it was already 4 pm, now 4 hours later than expected. And windy was an understatement. If I didn't know better, I would have been worried about a hurricane blowing in. As we would learn, wind would become part of our daily experience for the next 6 days.

We booked this vacation through an online travel company, and I was worried every day after hitting the submit button that we were going to get ripped off. I had called and confirmed everything verbally, however, so felt somewhat more assured. But still, you never know.

As it turned out, we had a very good experience using this company, and by midweek I finally figured out why it was so cheap and how these things worked. Without knowing for sure, my guess is that we pretty much got our hotel for free because the daily room rates were $255 a night for a standard room, and multiply that by 6 and you get more than we paid individually for airfare and room. I think they get you to the hotel and then try to sell you excursion packages, like loss leader items in retail stores, which probably then make up for any loss on the hotel charge.

We didn't fall into this trap and we did not do an all inclusive for a few reasons. First, all inclusive added $500 or more to each of our total prices, and while that isn't much over 6 days, it does limit us to eating all our meals at the hotel in order to get our money's worth. Second, we only eat 2 meals a day when on vacation--late breakfast and dinner. And we don't drink ourselves into a stupor every night, so again, we felt like we would not get our money's worth of that $500. And third, same with the food--we don't do the all you can eat thing even at a buffet. We eat what we want and that's it. And we wanted to sample local cousine.

The first evening it was so windy and cool that we walked around a little exploring but were so tired we actually were sleeping before 10 pm Cancun time, despite the howling wind. I'm not kidding, it was so windy, the wind howled all night. I woke a couple of times and it was quieter, but without earplugs I'm not sure I would have slept much because of the wind.

Day 2 I was awake by sunrise and when I stepped out onto the balcony discovered it was still windy and cool. Very windy and cool! Only 57 degrees we found out. We decided to have breakfast at the hotel and then take a walk to explore some, battling the wind in the process. You can see the cloudiness and by what I'm wearing you can guess it wasn't that warm.

One thing about Cancun, and many other Caribbean countries I'm sure, is all the street vendors pestering you to buy something, and in this case it was taxi drivers and agents trying to get you to take a ride somewhere or go on an excursion somewhere, neither of which we were interested in. In fact, we discovered that day just how easy it was to take a bus just about anytime and anywhere, all for only about 50 cents a ride. But it was always a wild ride! I don't know how they maneuver those beasts through all that traffic going that fast but we never saw any accidents.

We also decided to make a trip to Walmart that day to get some things needed that we weren't sure where else to get. We didn't know where Walmart was, but the Route 2 bus went there so we hopped on. Apparently just about everyone goes to Walmart at some point, since the busses were filled each time we rode somewhere with people either coming or going to Walmart, locals and tourists. And the Cancun Walmart is pretty much the same as the ones in the states except everything is in pesos! It took me a while to get over the sticker shock of pesos as opposed to dollars until I learned to convert.

After our Walmart adventure, we were both ready to go sit by the pool and swim for a while. We still hadn't located the beach where we were supposed to be able to swim, but there was always the pool. The only thing that kept our hotel from being perfect was the lack of beach access, since many of the beaches were wiped out when Hurricane Wilma struck in 2005. And many of the beaches looked like this--beautiful but rocky.

So instead we decided to just head for the pool and relax.

The hotel had two very nice pools, but the water was freezing! I wasn't sure if it was from the cool weather and constant wind or what, but one time in was enough for me! Don loved it cold, but I had come for the warm waters of the Carribbean and wasn't going to settle on the pool entirely. While the pools were lovely, they weren't designed to swim laps. I was starting to worry I would get no swimming in this week until I discovered by accident where many people from our resort were going to swim--next door at the Dreams resort. We couldn't use their lounge chairs but we could sit on the beach and/or swim.

It was perfect, a roped off area even, but beyond that a sort of natural breakwall where the surf broke. Since it was so windy every day, it was always a red flag day, but this little area was fairly calm.

One decision I made about this year's vacation was that it was going to be just that--a vacation. No schedules, no alarm clocks, no crowds, and no rocking boat day after day. I don't want to knock the cruise we took last year other than to say it wasn't what I had hoped for. This year, however, was different and was exactly what I had hoped for, just too short!

So here's how the rest of our days went: get up with the sunrise, since it was hard to sleep much later with the light coming into the room. Our room faced east, so each day we were greeted by a sunrise and this lovely view.

After catching up on news from the internet and e-mails, we got dressed to run. There are two nice wide running/biking/roller blading/walking paths that go for miles, marked out at .5 km along the way. I was worried about it being too hot, but that only happened one day, since with the wind all the time the morning temps stayed cool. Still, it was shorts and singlets every day. Can't complain! And I ran every day but Monday with no aches or pains or problems. All that warm weather and sunshine has to be good!

After our run, we showered and went down to breakfast, and sat looking out over the ocean. So beautiful!

After breakfast, it was pool and margarita time! I can't tell you how great those tasted sitting out in the sun relaxing!

After lounging for a few hours, we would make our way down to the swimming beach next door. Don does not like salt water, but I don't mind it and actually feel it has restorative powers in it. I love the water, can't get enough of it, and swam laps back and forth in the roped off area every day but Monday. It was like swimming with a big salty pretzel in your mouth, but didn't bother me. And when my goggles leaked, once I got over the initial salty stinging of the eyes, I was amazed that my contacts were so much clearer. Saline you know!

A couple of days we used the gym and did weights, stretching, and core work before swimming, so we never slacked on our exercise regimes.

We usually ate dinner early since we didn't eat lunch. We ate at the hotel and local places as well as a couple of the chains. We did not like Margaritaville, although my food was great. Everyone there wanted to push Tequilla shots on you the whole dinner, and we just wanted to be left alone! We weren't here for spring break. It should have been obvious we weren't college kids.

It also should be noted that no where we went to eat did they ever offer you water with your meal, and most places only served bottled only if you asked for some. Tequilla on the other hand flowed freely every place it seemed!

As for excursions, like Xcaret, the Mayan ruins, dinner cruises, swimming with the dolphins, etc., all things recommended we do, we decided against all that. I decided all I wanted to do every day was run, swim, relax, drink Margarits in the sun, work on my tan, read, and relax some more, and thats pretty much what we did. Most of the excursions required a whole day--get on a bumpy bus early in the morning and be out in the hot sun with people we didn't know or want to spend time with for the next 12 hours. I think I'll just go to a travelogue if I want to see the Mayan ruins!

All too soon, our paradise vacation was over and we got to make that delightful trip back home again to all the wonderment that is home:


Lisa Slow-n-Steady said...

We went to cancun 2 years ago at about this time and dealt with wind and waves the whole time - could never swim in the ocean. Now I wonder if wind is just part of the expected weather this time of year.

Anyway - sounds like a relaxing time. :-)

chia said...

Fantastic trip! So glad you got some quality workouts in the sun!!! It must be nice to come home to 60 degree temps too ;-).

AKA Alice said...

Beautiful pix. Glad you got some swimming and workouts in.

Laughed about Walmart and Pesos..

Calyx Meredith said...

Sounds like a perfect vacation. We have a place in Cancun but we usually go in the October. There's a restaurant in town called Labna that specializes in recipes from the region (or all over the Yucatan maybe?) that has become our favorite. Your pictures are lovely! Hope re-entry isn't too painful. :D

Marlene said...

Sounds like you made the most of your trip. I can't imagine being so active on vacation, so kudos to you!

Great pics!

Black Knight said...

Wonderful trip in a wonderful place. Great pictures.
....and you ran!

Anne said...

I always enjoy your take on travels. I agree with you about the Detroit airport -- it's one of my favorite because it's easy to navigate. Too bad the wind kinda interfered for awhile...the place looks so lovely. I'm sure Mexico appreciates your tourist pesos too, given all the bad PR it's experiencing with the drug wars.

ShirleyPerly said...

Well, except for the wind and cooler than expected temps, it sounds like a wonderful trip. I've never been to Cancun myself but we'd probably do the same thing you guys did if we ever did, skip the tour stuff that could take away from the relaxing, head over to Walmart and pass on the all-inclusive food package. Thanks for the lovely photos and the vacation report!

Sunshine said...

My favorite line was, "I thought we would never get out of Michigan."
Thanks for all the spectacular pictures.. We who didn't get to go need cheering up.