Monday, June 11, 2012

Mexican Sendoff, Part One

Entrance to the Gran Bahia Principe Tulum, Mexico.
Many of my friends visited Mexico years ago, but not until this month did I have the opportunity to visit that fabled, troubled nation. Sylvia likes to travel someplace warm on a regular basis, and I enjoy visiting new places; I only insisted that we visit the east coast, since all my travels thus far have taken me west. We agreed to visit the Mayan Riviera, along the coastline of the Caribbean Sea.
I was thrilled to finally dip my toes into an eastern sea.
As soon as we landed both Sylvia and I started to feel uncomfortable about the dark side of tourism in developing countries. While we were ferried from Cancun Airport to our luxury all-inclusive resort, we passed a number of crumbling buildings...shacks and hovels with peeling paint, collapsing roofs, ramshackle construction. Panting dogs and poor Mexicans on rusted-out bicycles crept along the freeway's margins, like extras in an old Western. Neither of us said anything about our perceptions at the time, not wanting to cast a pall over the holiday. But we both felt the dissonance.
Several of my photos appear a little ghostly because the lens kept fogging up. Mexican jungles are incredibly humid.
The staff at Gran Bahia Principe Tulum were remarkably helpful, friendly and considerate; it was certainly the best service I've ever received in any of my travels. That friendliness extended to the Mexicans we met off the resort, who were all very friendly and approachable. It helped that Sylvia has a rough working knowledge of Spanish!
Sylvia and I were impressed by the lush grounds, spotlessly maintained and bountiful, though sprawling - we made extensive use of the motorized carts that cycle through the resort.
Sylvia was not a fan of the many iguanas who called the resort home...
...nor of the creepy-crawlies that wandered across the beach. I found them pretty fascinating, though, and I got an unexpected thrill out of the rainbow-coloured fish that gathered around me when I waded into the Caribbean.
Vacations are actually a lot of work. I find that we always waste a bunch of time the first couple of days just figuring out where everything is located. Still, we managed to enjoy some time lounging on the beach our first day, overlooking a turbulent sea, enjoying the breeze, our books, and each other's company.
Though were were in Mexico to relax and disconnect from the stresses of the outside world, I found myself annoyed by my own tendency to compulsively check my email whenever we entered the limited range of the resort's free wi-fi. Isn't the whole point of a vacation to get away from all that? Argh!

Our first couple of days went off without a hitch. Unlike past vacations, this time I came prepared with the strongest sunblock possible, a hat and a determination to stick to the shade whenever possible. No sunburns or heat stroke for me this time, I thought!

Of course I thought wrong.

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