Thursday, January 12, 2017

Mexico 2017 - Arrival

It has been a very long time since we’ve been close to missing a flight, but it was looking like a distinct possibility today.  Although we left home at 2:45 in the morning, we were only 30 minutes from departure and still stuck in the incredibly long, winding security line that seemed to have no end. At times like this you choose to do one of two things; stay calm or flip your lid, both of which would likely have the same result. I choose to wait patiently and preserve my sense of tranquility. Actually, as I was waiting I learned a new, third option. A lady ahead of us dropped her and her husband’s boarding passes on the ground, which I picked up and gave back to her, only for her to realize that she had also dropped their passports somewhere along the line. Start panic mode now. They began frantically scanning the floor and walked back through the line, searching everywhere for their passports. Somebody in line told them that the passports had been found and were being held by security so they jumped out of the line, went straight to the front and were given their passports and allowed to pass. I will keep this fine scheme in mind for future flights.

We squeaked through just in time to get on our flight, leaving ourselves just enough time to buy a sandwich from the shop at the gate. But we do not like paying $14 for a crummy airport sandwich so we boarded breakfastless, coffeeless, yet very happy that we didn’t miss the flight.

My friend Tony is an inventor and wanted us to beta test a new rest aid for air travellers. Now I don’t know where he gets these amazing ideas, but he took a standard low profile, 90’s style fanny pack, turned it upside down, slipped in a card that says, “Ask me where you can get your own amazing head stabilizer!” and kaboom – an indispensible in-flight sleep aid. All you have to do is put the pack over your face, which cinches your head to the seat (and doubles as a light guard), have the passenger behind you buckle it up for you right on top of their television screen, and it’s bedtime for Bonzo. Now I was so excited to try it out, but the device was in Stella’s bag and she was seated in the next aisle so I couldn’t get it, and I was so tired I fell asleep instantly in the standard fashion with my head flopping all over the place. I will have to test it on the way home.

We arrived in Cancun, checked through immigration, and retrieved our bags in no time. Outside, the beautiful, damp, Caribbean air was welcome and our dried out skin sucked up the moisture greedily. We found a man holding up a sign with our names on it and he lead us to our taxi, which was complete with a driver named Juan and a cooler with Coke, water and Corona. We cracked the drinks and made a toast to the start of our holiday!

In under an hour we arrived at our rented apartment in the Real Ibiza complex in Playa del Carmen. The owner of our Air B&B rental was there to meet us and showed us around the two bedroom unit, which was smallish, but more than sufficient for us and my in-laws John and Maria who had joined us on the trip. We were pleasantly surprised to learn that the owner had provisioned it with basic groceries to get us started.

The reason we had chosen this particular area was because my mom and step-father Rick were renting an apartment in an adjacent building and came here yearly so were very familiar with the city. After getting settled and unpacked we went over to Mom’s place and they had lunch all ready for us. With them was their friend Randy who was visiting from Sylvan Lake in Alberta and is an old friend of Rick’s.

After lunch we moved down to the pool so the kids could enjoy their favourite of the four elements and we could sample the local Mexican beer. The complex is comprised of eight buildings and each pair share their own pool – a very nice set up and a great way to meet the neighbours. The residents were an interesting mix of Mexicans and foreigners – some living and working in Mexico while others were short or long term vacationers from many different countries. We decided to take a trip to the nearby Walmart so we could do a full grocery shopping so we flagged down a taxi and a $2.50 cab ride got us there in less than ten minutes. The Walmart was structured much like the ones in Canada but with a different variety of foods and merchandise. We retrieved some Mexican pesos from the ATM and then explored the aisles and got our first taste of rally-style shopping cart racing with the fast moving, never yielding Mexicans. I also picked up a pair of splendid $5 sunglasses because the sunglasses I was supposed to bring (in fact the only item I was responsible for packing) were still secured safely in the convenient sunglass holder in our van, currently frozen into a parking stall at the Skyway parking lot at Pearson Airport in Toronto.

After a long, blisteringly hot wait in the taxi line, we cabbed it back to our apartment, unloaded the groceries and then returned to Mom’s. The kids had befriended the neighbour boy Sebastian, and we met his parents Jose and Soani, both Venezuelans but living and working in Playa del Carmen. We enjoyed an extended happy hour and then Mom served up an assortment of dishes for dinner - taquitos, roasted pork and meatballs, accompanied by pico de gallo and guacamole sauces. After eating, I could see the early morning start and busy day had taken its toll on everybody and our eyelids were starting to droop. There remained little chance we would be able to make it to midnight for the 2017 New Year, so instead we threw in the towel, returned to our apartment and put a knife into the heart of this day.

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