Thursday, July 26, 2007

Gringos in Mexico - The Arrival

Considering we were only gone for a week, and did more sleeping and laying around than anything else, you'd think there wouldn't be too many stories or events. Of course if you believe that then you've never met Gary or me. There's ALWAYS a story!!!

The night before we flew out Gary came to stay at my place since we were going from JFK which is closer to me. Since he's never been to Mexico we both felt things would go more smoothly if we were together. That poor kid works like a dog, not like my dog who is napping even as I write this, but ... you know what I mean. Any way it seemed it would be less stressful for both of us because I'm an old hand at this particular trip and he would be able to actually RELAX for a change and not have to worry about where to go and how things work with customs and all that because I've already done that. This is actually the first vacation we've ever taken together where Gary did not have some pile of work to bring with him, either writing papers for his classes or grading papers for classes he's teaching. The week we chose fell after he was done with the summer class he was teaching and would not even have their final papers until after we were back - so there was no way he could even attempt to work on vacation.

Unfortunately this meant we had scheduled the trip so that we'd be away when the last Harry Potter book was released! NOOOOO!!! We were actually considering having it shipped to us in Mexico until we realized that would just be nutty. Instead we got our HP fix by seeing The Order of the Phoenix on Monday night. It's really dark, but really, really great - the special effects alone are light years better than in the first movie. And I'm beginning to babble. Sorry. Good movie. 'nuff said.

Our flight was at the ass-crack of dawn, which is such a lovely, gutter-mouth phrase I like to use it whenever I possibly can. Actually the flight wasn't until 8:30 but we had to be out the door by 5:45. Ouch. Whose thought THAT would be a good idea? Oh. Right. That was me. Sorry Gary. But that early flight would get us into Mexico by 11:30 a.m. and I wanted to have as much time in my favorite place as possible.

The flight was a breeze. It's just 4 hours from NYC - amazing that paradise is so close.

Miss X's Mom was taking over my job as live-in servant to Basil and Nick while we were away so I felt very secure that I didn't need to worry about my furry boys. Miss X's Mom has also frequented the Playa Del Carmen area and so the two of us conspired to make poor Gary very nervous about passing through Immigration and Customs at the Cancun airport. Why? Because we're evil and it's funny. Isn't that reason enough?

If you've never had the pleasure of going through the airport in Cancun I'll fill you in. It's a very smooth and easy process and they get your luggage off the plane and on that ramp in record time (take a lesson JFK). After Immigration stamps your passport and gathers your entry papers you grab your bags and go through customs. Customs at Cancun International is an absolutely fun time. Not because I enjoy a strip search... although, really, who doesn't? But because their system of choosing who to search involves more kitsch than Vegas. (In case you didn't know, Mexican people are REALLY funny. They have the most fun and wacky sense of humor or any country I've ever visited.) They have big traffic lights set up at customs. Yes Red-Yellow-Green traffic lights. You hand your passport to the official standing next to the traffic light and are asked to "push the button". If you get a green light, you breeze through. Red means they will go through your bags and such. As a method of randomly choosing whose stuff to search I have never seen anything to compare with this one. Miss X's Mom and I taunted poor Gary with what happens if the light turns red, and there was some talk about how I might bribe the officials to "make" the light turn red on Gary just so I could snap a picture of his expression. See. Cruel. But funny!

The light went green for both of us, and I know Gary felt relieved that I wasn't mean or crazy enough to try to get them to red light him. Scaring your BFF might be funny, but it's not a good way to start a trip.

Passing through the airport to the taxi, van, pick-up area is another good time. You see they have these very official, very 'assist the traveler' type kiosks built around the entire area and if you don't know they look like information booths. The folks in uniforms offering you assistance seem very official as well. And, in fact, they are quite knowledgeable and friendly. The thing is, they aren't what you might think they are. They ask you what car service you are using and where you are staying - it sounds like they are trying to direct you to your vehicle. In fact they are time-share salespeople trying to give you a free dinner voucher or some-such to get you to attend a time-share seminar! I found this out on my first trip, had a lovely 20 minute chat with the fellow "helping" me until I realized what was really going on and skedaddled out of there. Now I know to "no, gracias" anyone asking to help me, but I had forgotten to tell Gary about this! Oops!

A very nice man asked me "who is picking you up?" and I said "no, gracias" and kept walking. Gary, however, stopped with him and tried to get me to come back because, as I had done my first time, he thought they were really there to direct us. Oh. "NO, Gracias". I got him out and explained. My bad.

Safely through customs and immigration... and the time share tunnel
into the beautiful Mexican morning

We had some concerns about being in Mexico in July because, hello HOT - and also the start of the rainy season. But we walked out of the airport into perfect weather. Hot, but breezy and it was just glorious. A brief half-hour ride brought us here.

Yes, I know. It doesn't look too impressive here. Well, not 'fancy' impressive. It's certainly impressive in it's kitschy-charm. But why worry about the 'front yard' when the 'back yard' is where you'll spend your time? You'll see what I mean.

I had warned Gary about this part of the trip. That the two mile bumpy dirt road ride through much vegetation should not concern him and make him think I was taking him out to the wilderness to sleep in a tent! Plus, you see signs like this!
Tell me that's not fun! I love a pirate theme! Arrr-me hearties!!! Welcome!

Once you get past the deceptive road and "oh my god is this place a jungle?" you get to this:

This is just outside of reception looking toward the beach. And we'd all do just what Gary did.

Just headed on down with his backpack still on! It was too enticing to even remember to drop the bags! (And really, it is more beautiful than any of the pictures). Me? I left my flip flops by the surf and promptly forgot about them for the next 3 hours! When I went back to look for them, they were there. Of course.

We were early for check-in so we just left our bags and went to sit at the bar which is outdoors, in front of the pool and gives you a fabulous view of the ocean. We ordered Daiquiris: banana for Gary, Mango for me.

Let's relax for a moment, shall we? Yes.

I will end here for now as I continue to upload photos and videos. Oh yes, there are mariachis and Mayan sacrifices to come. Hasta luego, for now, Amigos!!


Junk Thief said...

Looks like a great trip. Any place that has a pirate sign outside is good with me. If you ever want a tour guide to Oaxaca or Chiapas, call me!

Joy said...

JT - Sadly the fun and wonderful Capitan Lafitte is closing. The pirates will be no more from what I understand. Oaxaca intrigues me, I've heard great things and I'm drinking Chiapas coffee right now!