Vacation in Mexico!

For those of you who don’t know me very well, I have one thing to get out of the way: I’m not very well traveled. I’m an oddity in my family – all four of my sisters have traveled abroad for at least one term in college – one sister has been in Europe for roughly 5 European years (that’s 3 American years–thanks, metric system). My mom lived in Spain for a year when she was younger. Maybe I get my travel bug (or lack-there-of) from my dad. He never studied abroad, but he has been out of the country.

Unlike me.

Until now.

Flashback to a few months ago (we’ll say early March because that’s when Hilary and I were on our way back from the Grand Canyon–you can read about that here–and that’s when this trip to Mexico was planned). Hilary and I were at her parents’ house sipping coffee and enjoying a savory breakfast of homemade biscuits and gravy, crisp bacon, fresh fruit, and probably a mimosa. Jill, my future mother-in-law, was working with Hilary to finalize the purchase of plane tickets down to Mexico for mid-June, and I was invited! But this was the first time I had heard of the trip, so you can probably picture my emotions: sitting at that table, enjoying one of my favorite facets of life (eating), learning that I was three and a half months from leaving the country for the first time:

“Sure, I’m down.”

Fast forward to later that day: tickets had been purchased and we were discussing our potential activities. There were a few common themes around the goals of our mid-summer vacation:

1) Drinks

2) Food

3) Relaxation

4) Sun/Tanning

5) Not Working

6) Drinks

In fact, if we were on Family Feud, this would be a very good answer board for the question: ‘What do you most look forward to on a vacation to Mexico?’

But I digress; we were ready for our trip.

A few months went by, I obtained a passport, and we were ready to go! Hilary and I exchanged some dollars for pesos, we bribed (asked) our friend Kevin to take us to the airport at 4:00 am, and we were off…

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…To Houston! For a 4 hour layover. At 9 am, Hilary’s family arrived in the Houston airport. We found our gate, then found a bar, and had a few drinks before our flight to Cancun. And then we were off!

Day 1 – Tuesday, June 20. We arrived in Cancun and caught the shuttle to our resort, the Westin Laguna Mar. Hilary, her sister Hannah, and I shared one suite (one bed, one bath, one couch-bed combo) while Hilary’s parents and her other sister Halle shared another. We were right on the ocean and I was finally out of the U.S.! This day was pretty rainy, so we spent most of our time getting settled, heading to a grocery store for some vacation staples (food staples, not the office supply), and hit up a liquor store.

Dinner was delicious. I’m not good with remembering restaurant names or remembering the food that I ordered, so it really says something that I remember my food came in a big goblet-type thingy. It was basically steak fajitas but 10,000 times better. I wish I took a picture of it to share because I knew I was going to write this blog, but I didn’t because at the time I really didn’t care (Editor’s note: Stanfa cried when he told me he didn’t have this photo).

That night was a LOT of fun — we had a few margaritas at dinner (on the rocks–ALWAYS), then went back to the room and had a few more margaritas, some beer, and back and forth, etc. Before long, we were having a dance party.

I would share pictures and/or videos of the dance party, but I don’t want to show anybody up with my killer dance moves (in other words I embarrassed myself for the first time on this trip and won’t open myself to be the butt of more jokes). It was a good night; we all had fun, and we were probably in bed by 11. (Note from Hilary: my sisters have reported to me on a few occasions that when they are bored they watch videos of Michael dancing to pass the time.)

Our first full day started out a little disappointing. Rain. All. Day. It was awful. Keith (my soon-to-be father in law) and I went to the grocery store (I lied about going on the previous day — sue me). I learned an important lesson at the grocery store: if you kinda-sorta-know a little bit of Spanish, as in enough to get by, don’t try to be the translator of the trip. It won’t work out well. If you’re in a touristy location, somebody will know English–I can almost guarantee it.

Example 1: figuring out how to get our groceries delivered. Keith and I arrived at the grocery store and knew they could be delivered. We walked up to customer service and I tried to communicate in Spanish.

“Hola, tengo una pregunta sobre…sobre…ustedes traigando la comida para nosotros…a la HOTEL. Que necesitamos hacer para esto?”

Not bad, right? Well, that probably took me two minutes to come up with. The guy Keith and I were talking with was smiling; he let me try to speak Spanish and let me finish my thought before saying, “you can speak to me in English”. BOOM. Problem solved, and all thanks to my Spanish knowledge. That was fantastic.

After Example 1 I would ask people if they spoke English, but I was not always as fortunate. Those times, I would speak in Spanish and get a response in Spanish that I could not, for the life of me, understand or keep up with. After doing this a few more times, I basically stopped speaking Spanish unless it was absolutely necessary.

Later that day, we were down at the bar and decided to take a swim. It was raining lightly outside and we hadn’t been to the swim-up bar yet (Side note: I now consider myself a HUGE swim-up bar fanatic. If it’s there, I’ll swim up to it–that’s why it’s called a swim-up bar, actually) so we decided to take the plunge. If you’re in the water…who cares if it’s raining!

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One drink led to another led to another…and before we knew it, we were playing chicken (You know, that game with two teams where each team has one person gets on another person’s shoulders and the teams try to push the other team fully into the water). The weather was dreary, the drinks were flowing, and we were one of just a few groups in the pool. It was a blast, my shoulders were sore the next few days, but I wouldn’t have traded it for anything! Except for maybe another margarita or two. But I didn’t have to, so I didn’t.

Our first full day ended up being one of my favorites.

Thursday, our second full day, was full of sunshine! We got down to the pool pretty early to lock up a spot (they go quickly and people are RUTHLESS). I split my time that day between reading on my Kindle (they’re perfect for trips BTW) and lounging around in the pool. No matter where I was, though, I probably had a drink in hand, and 95% of the time it was an original margarita ON THE ROCKS.

Side note: the bar also had mini pineapple slices, so I started asking for them on my original margarita, rather than a lime, and the bartender gave me two. Huge win for me that day, because from then on I would ask for two pineapples on every margarita.

Back to the day–this is the vacation that I was hoping for. Sunny skies, blue ocean, plenty of not-spray sunscreen, margaritas in the morning, and better company than I ever could have asked for. A very, very relaxing trip.

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Friday rolled around and I became sad because at noon on Friday we were unofficially halfway through our trip. After two days of purchasing drinks at the poolside bar, we realized this was not the most cost-effective way to enjoy our vacation. Plus we had no less than 6 bottles of alcohol in our room, so we started making our own drinks and bringing them to the pool.

That’s where the real fun began. I brought my 32oz Yeti (they’re amazing) and was using that for my margaritas.

Ingredients: 4-6 oz of tequila. Some Triple sec. A few ice cubes. One and a half beers.

Do you know what that tastes like? It tastes like deliciousness and vacation. After three of them, I would probably describe the taste in my mouth as sand. Because I got some sand in my mouth. Let me clarify:

I was a little drunk that afternoon, all to my own fault. It happens, nobody really cared; I was having fun and I wasn’t obnoxious or doing anything stupid. Then somebody who worked at the resort came by yelling ‘Volleyball at 4! North side of our beach’ or something like that. I convinced all 5 of my trip companions to join; although only Hannah and Halle made the trip to play. Big mistake for the others, because I was giving 110% for my team.

You know, tripping over your own feet, diving for balls that were about 15 steps away, the usual effort given in sand volleyball. To say that I was leaving it all on the court was an understatement: I was playing so hard that I tweaked the backside of my left knee (upper hammy/lower quad). And, as I’m writing this 3 weeks later, it still bothers me. But I’m kinda tough so I’m okay.

Fortunately for me, nobody got it on video. Fortunately for you, that last sentence was a lie and Halle got some of it on video. I was playing hard, but not playing very smart. However; I had an absolute blast and, if you’re lucky, I’ll include some footage below. 

 

 

 

 

Saturday came and went; the pool was wonderful, the drinks were few (Friday was rough), and I redeemed myself in Volleyball. We played again and I actually performed not horribly – well enough to consider playing in a beer volleyball league. We went out to dinner that night and I got some weird raw salmon appetizer as my entree. It was fine but I’d never do it again. That’s not the point. The point is I made my mistake so you don’t have to, so don’t order ONLY raw salmon as a dinner. You’re welcome.

Sunday – our last day in paradise. We relaxed in the morning, played a round of ‘Play 9’ (one of the best card games out there in my humble opinion), enjoyed some coffee and breakfast, and went down to the pool around 11:30 or 12. Everybody was pretty burnt, or at least a little burnt, and ready to relax. Keith stayed in the room all day because he didn’t want any more sun exposure (did you know you can still get sun through a beach umbrella AND clothing?) I digress – we had a few drinks, read our books and magazines, and just enjoyed the weather. The pool wasn’t very crowded; we talked amongst ourselves and simply enjoyed being on the ocean in Mexico.

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For dinner that night, we went to a steakhouse. I would tell you what I ordered, but I don’t want you to be upset that you weren’t there to share it with me. (Also I don’t remember what I ordered, but I remember it was good!). We headed back to the resort, packed our things, and got ready to depart for the Cancun airport at 3:30 a.m.

Yeah, 3:30 a.m. Waking up that early was awful, but I would do it again if it meant I was just in Cancun for a week! That doesn’t make much sense Cole I think I should take it out. (Editor’s note: Nope, stew in your mistake.) (Author’s note: Okay.)

Overall, our vacation down to Cancun could not have been better. We had some good food, had many great drinks, and met a few people along the way. Most importantly, we allowed ourselves to relax, take a break from real life, and spend quality time with some of the most important people in our lives (you’re important too, Mom and Dad! I think you’d LOVE a vacation like this. You need it, and Hilary and I will gladly join you).

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Would I go back? Yes. Would I go back today? Yes. Basically, I want to go back to Cancun; or somewhere else in Mexico. But before I return, there are other countries to travel to, other places to go, and other experiences to be had. My next big adventure will be to marry the love of my life, and I’m sure you’ll be able to read about it here! (Editor’s note: depends on whether Tito’s is available at the bar)

Also, maybe go to Italy.

Oh, and we also saw roughly 11 turtles the first night we were there! We took a walk on the beach (in search of said turtles) and saw many of them planning out where they were going to lay their eggs. They are huge and we loved them all.

Can’t get enough of Stanfa? Check out Chiowa

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