How to even begin? I suppose, like any trip, it begins with the prep, which included packing our suitcases. We did two things differently this year -- first, my wife decided to forgo bringing every article of clothing she owns, and two, we decided to use a cooler on wheels as one of our suitcases. Yeah. We're high-class. The reason for this was two-fold -- the resort we were staying at didn't have refrigerators in the rooms, and last year we bought a styrofoam cooler when we got there, but it was kind of crappy so we turned a five-dollar bag of ice from the bar into room temperature water almost every single day. We figured we'd actually save money buying and bringing the cooler, which we kind of did. The only bummer was that when we checked in we found out that they now rented small dorm-room-type cube refrigerators for something like five bucks a day. Live and learn. On the plus side, we got asked four times whether we were carrying fish, beef, human organs or anything else that might require the cooler to be full of dry ice.
We also had the pleasure of having our cooler given the once-over by a drug sniffing German shepherd. Or maybe they used him for detecting explosives, or Cuban cigars. I'm not really sure. All I had in there was some snorkeling equipment and all of our toiletries, including a ton of over-the-counter medication, just in case we needed it. This caused me a little bit of trouble when we were checking the bags and the airline employee said, "Sir, What's in the cooler?" and I replied, "Just some snorkel equipment and a ton of drugs." I amaze myself with my own stupidity sometimes.
Our flight from Albany to Cancun was uneventful, however we had a two-hour layover in Charlotte, North Carolina. No offense Charlotte, but y'all need to step it up and get your asses out of the 80's. I dig that decade as much as the next guy, but seriously, I never saw so many shoulder-length mullets in my life. Also, I thought the sign at the end of the moving walkway that said "Prepare to Step Off" needed a comma and "Bitch" at the end, but my wife wouldn't loan me her sharpie. If one of you could take care of that, I'd appreciate it.
For once, we didn't get stuck sitting next to someone with bad breath or body odor on the plane. We also avoided sitting next to someone huge who squeezes under the arm rest into our seats. In fact, in this case, I'm pretty sure we were the smelly ones, since we had eaten some pretty heavy garlic the night before. I think Karma paid us back on the return trip, but I'll get to that later.
When we landed in Cancun, we grabbed our bags and went outside to find our ride. He was holding up a sign with my name printed on it, and he immediately led us to his van. He wasn't as personable as the driver we had last year, and didn't offer to stop for drinks, or even tell us his name. He just drove. I tipped him anyway because I was in a good mood, and we were finally on the ground and at our hotel.
We got there just in time for happy hour, which was a fortuitous turn of events. We were thirsty, and needed some bottled water at the very least. Not drinking the tap water is kind of a given, but I always wondered about the ice. I brought a Steri-Pen with us because I have a notoriously sensitive stomach, and the last thing I wanted was a case of the trots in a place where you can't flush the toilet paper. Someone on the playa.info forum told me that if the ice is cylindrical and has a hole in it, it's made from bottled, purified water. We ordered up a couple of drinks and I was glad to see the ice in my cup was as described. It was then that I noticed the drink special:
I didn't want to tempt fate, so I refrained from ordering one. It probably wasn't the best name for a drink special in Mexico, all things considered. It reminded me of the time I was walking through the mall in Cleveland and the drink special at the coffee shop was called the "Pumpkin Spice Steamer."
Sitting at the outside bar is always good for overhearing the conversations of others. Our entertainment for the evening was a hippie-ish woman of about 60 who was regaling some people she just met at the bar with tales about her favorite subject, which turned out to be herself. She also insisted upon calling children "little people" instead of "children" or the more colloquial "kids." She would say things like, "Yes, the resort is excellent for the little people. They provide them with so many activities, like painting pottery and ping pong" and "The restaurant was very good, but the menu didn't have any options for the little people." Of course, this instantly conjured up images in my mind of leprechauns standing on boxes to reach the ping-pong table, and sitting on phonebooks while painting ceramics and ordering appetizers and rounds of green beer. About the tenth time she said "little people" I couldn't hold back anymore. "KIDS." I said to my wife, probably too loudly. "Just call them KIDS, for fuck's sake." I got shushed by my wife, and deservedly so. What can I say? I hadn't eaten since six in the morning and my drink was getting right on top of me.
Her conversation got better (and by better, I mean funnier) once she moved off the "little people" kick. Her next tale was all about how she was now retired, but finding a lot of satisfaction with what she called her "second career." I swear to you, I almost shot pina coloda out of my nose when the woman she was chatting with asked her what her second career was and she replied, (with an earnest gravitas only attainable by reaching the highest pinnacle of self-delusion), that she was now a Story Teller. I guess she went to the local library once a week and made up stories for the kids -- excuse me -- little people. I'm sure it's very rewarding, however it's probably not really what you'd consider a career. If that's the case, I'm pretty sure making fart noises with your armpits while watching wheel of fortune could also be considered a career. Oh well, it was amusing anyway, and I wish her luck. At least she wasn't a hedge fund manager.
Part II in the next few days. Same Bat channel. Now it's time to eat drink and be Mary. What? She dresses nice, and I like her style.