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The Final Day 

  

No matter how good or bad the weather has been on any trip, the day of departure is always the best. Four days of rain, you’ll be taking off in perfect sunshine. Four days of perfect sunshine, this will be even sunnier. We were fortunate in that we only had one day of rain, worst part, it was the day before departure. That’s the day when you have one last chance to get a tan. The last chance to snorkel, or jet ski or lie around and do nothing just baking away on the beach. When it rains that day, it’s a tease. It’s a day to watch people who are normally drunk on the beach get even more drunk while stumbling around the hotel with ice cream stains on their shirts. It’s gluttonous eating and drinking times ten. 
The day of departure is a different story. For me it’s yet another night of no sleep, due to the fear of the alarm not going off and thus missing a 1:00pm flight coupled with the three pounds of butter that was now quickly making its way through my system. At 6:00am upon opening the curtain, I knew exactly what to expect, perfect sunshine. After the first of many checks of the room, as usual I had an hour to spare. It would have been at least two, but they make you leave 4 hours before your flight because a. the shuttle is once again a local, and b. customs outside the US can sometimes be a very long affair. With just an hour I made my way to the beach for one last stroll. Now, at that time of the morning it’s the lifeguards running and getting into even better shape, the workers putting towels on beach chairs for the family of 15 who gave him $100.00 for the week to set them up everyday and me in long pants and a long shirt already dressed for my journey home. It’s always at this time I think about just living there and questioning why I’m going back to the cold. This is immediately interrupted by a text asking where the hell I went because they are ready to move the bags. 
When it comes to the bags and packing. I always strive to pack the night before. Ok I’m kinda militant that way. Why, I don’t know, but I assume it’s because I hate the thought of leaving something behind in the rush the next day, sort of like “home alone” syndrome except I’m never worried about leaving one of the kids, it’s more a computer or watch or iPhone chargers, which, no matter how much you try, are inevitably left. I trace this insanity of mine back to the 70s when we once found a raft under the bed at a hotel. We hit a goldmine. It wasn’t the days when you had the Internet for people to find their lost items, especially it a $2.99 raft. I mean I know in today’s dollars that’s about $5000.00, but still. So now, the fear of leaving a $25.00 watch which may be worth something like $20,000.00, forty years from now, drives me to pack and check and check and then do one more check which includes unmaking the entire bed one more time. Who knows. I may find another raft.  
Of course this search includes the in-room vault. The high tech piece of equipment bolted into the closet which is only accessed by a four digit code of your choosing. For the trip we put in the passports, especially so no one can confirm that everyone is above 18, wallets, jewelry, cash, iPads, iPhones (who are we kidding no one went anywhere without their phone) and anything else someone deemed of value. It’s amazing, a space no bigger than a shoebox and it too gets checked four times. 

The last breakfast buffet is a massive feast culminating in more boxes of Zucharitas, being taken out in the carry on bag. The complaining about the Chichen Itza bus trip got us a shuttle back to the airport with only three stops. This gave us one last chance to compare hotels and decide if we chose the right or wrong place by being the van welcoming committee and asking the young hungover couples what they thought of their resort. Most just grunted while drinking their last free alcohol of the trip. Even with the stops we got to the airport three hours early and the expected long wait turned out to be a breeze. The bags, which now carried two bottles of tequila, a cross and Christmas ornament, were all below weight. As it was off season, the normally long customs lines were now empty, free of the massive complaints of just a week before. Ten minutes later we were deposited in the biggest duty free store I have ever encountered complete with workers with bags ready to schlep all you desired to the waiting cashiers who gave us a look when we left without buying anything. From the duty free store right to the food court. Bubba Gump, Johnny Rockets, Burger King all the trappings of home. Three cheers for US exports. Now, because we had eaten breakfast 2 hours before, and given the flight might last all of three hours, it was time for lunch. The cereal would have to wait. The flight back, was happily uneventful, empty and an hour early. We were greeted back to the US with efficiency, three flights arriving at the same time needing to clear customs with only two agents ready to check passports. A two hour excruciating phone free wait where we had the pleasure of standing behind a single father, ignoring the cell phone ban, and more importantly ignoring his two brats who were crying, pushing people and most likely were terrorists end the adventure. All in all, a marvelous magical trip to our neighbors to the South.  

#mexico #50goingon14 #travel #departure #insangucafe

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Eat til you’re full, then drink again. 

Eat til you’re full, then drink some more.   
  
If you’re a drinker, the all inclusive place is your paradise. If you’re a gluttonous eater, the all inclusive place is your paradise. If you’re neither, watch out, because the above groups, most likely overlapping in many instances, will run you over trying to get more of their vice. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week any and all food and drink needs are met. Anytime, anywhere. In the pool, swim up to the bar and get a drink, walk ten steps away from a buffet and there’s a cart with more food, don’t feel like moving at all, someone will bring you anything you want. The mini bars, take what you want, room service at 4am, they’ll be right up. 
The main establishment to stuff your face is of course the buffet. Eating at the buffet is really the truest game of survival. It’s all you can eat and as soon as something runs low, there’s someone there to fill it back up to Mayan sized proportions; yet even though the food is never ending, everyone feels the need to run to the line and elbow people out of the way while piling more and more on their plates. The best I saw was steak on top of pizza on top of salad on top of jello on top of various pieces of fruit, truly a miraculous combo. And the place is almost always open. Hungry, step in and grab something. It’s a house refrigerator with more food…and with people in flip flops and bathing suits. 
The staple of any buffet is the omelette station in the morning, the carving station in the afternoon. It’s just a place where a line will actually form because you’re not getting something out of a silver tray, it’s actually something being tailored for you. The longer the line, the more there are people who will try and cut; and I encountered them all. The first is the 4 year old kid that elbows you in the balls as he cuts in front of you in the omelette line. There are some that might consider it cute, I’m not one of them. The next kind of line cheat is the old person who fake wanders to the front of the line pretending that they’re lost; oh so precious, not to me. But the one I hate the most is the vapid woman with the fake boobs and tan, texting as she goes to the front of the line. The Kardashian wanna be is the one I’ll force to the back of the line, playing the odds that her boyfriend is some old sugar daddy rather than the Mr Universe winner who just ordered 40 egg whites.  
Of course, there are people who will not opt for the buffet during the daylight hours so there are are a multitude of sit down restaurants which basically serve a basic variation of the same thing. Hamburgers, chicken, tacos, quesadillas they all had it all, at every sit down restaurant. I’m convinced there’s one giant kitchen pumping out the food which is then shuttled to the various sit down cafes where people are ready to eat their fifth meal of the day.
Now, dinners are when you get to try the restaurants. Italian, Mexican, Steakhouses, Japanese, Chinese, you want it, they have it. Highlights of those nighttime meals included slabs of beef at the Brazilian steakhouse, more slabs of beef and our first non-included glass of wine, at the non-Brazillian steakhouse; grasshoppers and tequila tasting at the Mexican restaurant; and of course in the fine style of Benihana, the last meal would be Japanese hibachi. Now for kids still in the single digits it’s an amazing show with a guy who juggles knives, makes an onion volcano and throws food at people’s mouths when they have no chance of catching it. For me it means, a table with strangers, usually with one kid who is screaming their head off because they’re terrified of the whole thing, a missed piece of broccoli that hits me in he eye and of course the inevitable getting sick all night from the 50 pounds of butter they use to cook each meal. I’m happy to report, that I didn’t hit the trifecta…the broccoli actually landed in my mouth.
Now I left the drinking to last because there’s nothing much to say. It starts at breakfast with the giant bottle of vodka next to the orange juice and ends with bars spaced 10 feet apart. The only thing I didn’t see were drinks being administer intravenously, but then again I probably didn’t look hard enough. If you drink, you’re covered. And then you’re covered again, and again, and again. That is after you have your tenth piece of cake.  
#50goingon14 #buffet #mexico #insangucafe #allyoucaneat #allyoucandrink

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And the Mayans thought they had it rough. Chichen Itza. 

  

Chichen Itza or the Mayans have no idea about suffering. 
Now even though you’ve paid for everything on the all inclusive vacation, there are always extras. The better wine, the kids free zones, the off site excursions. Part of the reason of going to Mexico was to see something other than the beach, because why on earth would you ever just want to sit on the beach being served a string of food and drinks all day long. It was decided that the “day” trip would be to the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza, a true wonder of the world. We were told not only would able to see the ruins, but they were throwing in stops at a Mexican sink hole where you could swim and lunch at another all you can eat roadside buffet/giant souvenir stand. A 2.5 hour bus ride separated us and and a day away from the beach. 

This excursion meant being on the bus at 715am. That’s the equivalent to a school time bus pick up. It meant waking up at 645am, which in turn, at least for me meant not sleeping the night before for fear of the alarm not going off even though I’ve never slept past 545am in my life. The real challenge was getting the kids up, the same kids that slept until 11:00am the day before. Well on that day there must have been some Mayan miracle because it actually all came together and we even had time for breakfast.  

The all you can eat buffet. Deadly on a bus trip if you pick the wrong combo. Important in case the lunch buffet was everything pork. So of course the only logical thing to do, load up the beach bag with 30 boxes of Zucharitas, because “They’re Estupendo!” So after our 10 minute buffet breakfast heist we were picked up for out 2.5 hour ride to the ruins. Our transportation promised, luxury bus, delivered, mini van. I could have started complaining at the that moment, but something told me it was better to hold out til later. So, at this point it was just us and a woman already sleeping. As we turned onto the highway, the thought of a 2.5 hour peaceful van ride, seemed ok. After 30 minutes we stopped and waited. Finally, barreling down behind us we saw it, the big bus. Luxury. First class, well first class minus. And as we got on, we saw it was a big empty bus, seats galore, more sleep awaited. As we lurched away, we travelled all of five minutes before stopping again. More people got on, and then another stop, more people, and then a stop where people got on and off. We were on the crosstown local. Tourists from every hotel in Mexico got on at various stops. I was so delirious, I think the last guy we picked up had a chicken. It was 915am and we were finally making our way for the 2.5 hour bus ride to the ruins. Now it was time for me to spring into action.

“Another 2.5 hours? We were told the whole trip was only 2.5 hours. That’s really not fair”

Boy I really showed him.

“Don’t worry. There’s a time change we gain an hour. Here have a beer.”

How could I argue with that logic. And so we were off. A croissant and a never ending supply of beer I assume qualifies for a Mexican bus breakfast. Then came the history lesson. As the bus was filled with Germans and Russians and Egyptians and people from Spain and two American families of course everything was done in English. They didn’t even bother to see if we understood another language, they just knew. So the highlight of the talk was the fact that the descendants of the Mayan people have a purple mark above their ass. To prove it, the tour guide pulled out a picture of her son showing his ass with a giant purple mark. The kind of mark that would get you put into jail for child abuse. I really couldn’t hear anything else through the speaker except for the fact was that there was no numero dos in the bus bathroom. As we wound up with seats in the back, and seeing the other people on the tour, I was grateful for the declaration.  

Finally, 4.5 hours after getting on our minivan, we arrived. Chichen Itza. It was a sea of people, the majority of whom would have been easy prey for the old inhabitants. The site was amazing, buildings based on the sun’s place in the sky during the different seasons, storehouses which kept things cool, structures that had been there for over a thousand years. I would tell more, but our tour guide vanished 15 mins after we arrived when we stopped for 5 seconds to take pictures. 10 of us were left to wander on our own through a sea of merchants selling “Mayan” trinkets. For an hour, we saw amazing examples of Mayan architecture punctuated by people eating ice cream and/or screaming at their kids who were pissed because they couldn’t climb on the ruins. An amazing hour of wondering was followed by a five minute run back to the bus for fear it would leave without us. So, yes, that’s right, we had just spent 4.5 hours on a bus for a 1.5 hour self tour of one of the great wonders of the world. And the fun was just beginning. 

  
Back on the bus, the question of where the tour guide went was met with another beer. 15 minutes later we were at our lunch, a Mexican roadside all you can eat buffet. Now mindful of the warning of no numero dos on the bus, and given the fact that I wouldn’t have stopped at the is place even if it was in the US, I limited my diet to rice and more rice. Binding. Fortunately the tour guides carved out 2 hours for this stop. So without eating, we were left to wander through the giant souvenir stand selling the same stuff that they had on the outside, just at a higher price, which of course meant this is where the kids had to do their shopping. 

  
More beers and off to the sinkhole. It was now pushing 3:00, approximately the time we told everything would be done. The sinkhole is exactly as it sounds. It is a giant hole in the ground, sinking to a depth of approximately 150,000 feet or something like that. It’s filled with natural water that was now a swim hole for hundreds of tourists. From above it actually looked like the giant live Petri dish it was. After taking a dip and surviving, I had the pleasure of going to the change room where I was greeted by the sight of a guy who left the stall door wide open, while he was, I guess for lack of a better term, squat hovering, above the toilet. I assume he had the same numero dos rule on his bus.  

The ride home…well you can guess. The accommodation to us for the local ride on the way to the site was making sure that we were the last people dropped off.  

Chichen Itza an amazing site. Make sure to rent a car and go alone.  

Post Script. When I complained to the tour company about the day they apologized with two bottles of tequila and a ceramic cross and Christmas ornament. Perfection.   
#chichenitza #mexico #50goingon14 #insangucafe #bustour 

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I will not complain about the beach….but

  

I love the beach. I love walking on the sand, the sound of the waves, the smell of suntan lotion. I don’t care how many ill fitting bath suits and drunken tattoos I see, walking for miles on a beach is a wonderful thing. And the icing on the cake is of course, topless bathing. Yes, I’m 50 going on 14 and next year I’ll be 51 going on 14; hence topless sunbathing is the best. Now, when you’re in the US you don’t expect to see it, when you do, big bonus. But when you’re traveling overseas, you expect it. Foreigners are much more advanced when it comes to boobs, well I guess except in the gulf coast countries, but something tells me I won’t be heading to the beaches there anytime soon. In the 5 days on the beautiful beaches of Mexico I saw exactly one set, two boobs. It was a tease, the first day, there they were, sitting a few chairs down. It’s like winning the first time you go gambling, you think it’s always going to happen and most times in the future you’re disappointed. And much like gambling, and the search for the win, there wasn’t a lack of trying. Hours were spent walking countless miles, feet with third degree burns where I always forget to put the lotion. Nothing. Not a boob in sight. Not even inadvertently like when someone is putting on their top after laying on their stomach. Nothing. With no boobs in sight, the hotel makes up for it this way: 

     “Hola amigo, what can I get you to drink, some tequila?”

     “Vodka, dos Equis, agua?”

Drinks galore. While you’re sitting, walking, sleeping, ruminating over no topless women, it doesn’t matter, there’s always someone there to get you a drink. Take a sip and a new one materializes, it’s like you’re not allowed to be sober at any point. But no matter how much alcohol they inject into you, the effects wear off as soon as the family of 12, including one grandparent, her oldest son and his wife with four kids, the younger sister and her husband and their twin infants, the single drunk youngest sibling set up in the chairs next you, because wherever you are, is where they want to be. And they’re loud, screaming at each other in their own language. That’s right, 12 people, 12 languages. And they only revert to English when they’re barking out their orders to the waiter. The one and only salvation is when the kids start screaming enough and turn a bright shade of red, they’re finally packed up and taken back to the pool. Peace and quiet. And then all of a sudden, a new voice emerges.

     “Hey lady, come play volleyball with us”

That’s the come on the buff beach staff uses to get the women to play volleyball. But not just any women, they look for women with bikinis and not just any bikinis, but ones that look like they might shift during a rousing drunk game of beach volleyball. I have to say I must admire their game, both literary and figuratively. Perhaps boobs would be seen. Now being the only player who spoke only English, everyone had a field day talking about the “Americano” and “chupa” and it had nothing to do with a Jewish wedding. Given the fact that using the term “chupa” was being kind, I tapped out to let a 15 year old take my place, took my waiting drink and went back to my chair which was now surrounded by a moat dug by another kid who was now naked while getting his diaper changed.  

Having walked, drank, humiliated myself on the volleyball court, the last highlight of any beach adventure are of course the water sports. Between the kayaks, paddle boards, sunfish sailboats and jet skis, the cornered off portion of the ocean is a mass of people who have no idea how to navigate their vessel. Ten minutes after launch, more than half of them need rescuing. I assume that’s why when you sign the waiver before taking out the equipment you agree that any dismemberment is your own fault and that any rescue is NOT covered by the all inclusive. You also agree that you’re not under the influence of any alcohol, but then again, who reads anything. With rules like that, I’ll go back to drinking and searching.  

Having said all that, I’m not going to complain.  

#50goingon14 #mexico #beach #rivieramaya #watersports #beachvolleyball #insangucafe

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Part One.  

This is a work of non-fiction, sort of. The names have been changed to protect the innocent, sort of.
Ours or for that matter any family Mexican Adventure at an all inclusive resort can really be broken down into five parts:

The Check In

The Beach

The All Day Bus Trip

The Meals/Nightlife

The Departure

Part One – The Check In

If/when I finally take home father of the year in 2016, I will point to this exchange on January 1, 2016 as my start of my banner campaign.  

All inclusive is 100% as it sounds, it means all inclusive both eating and drinking to epic proportions, it means putting Ancient Rome to shame. It’s a cruise ship on land without the listeria. There is one restriction. If it’s in the US and you’re even a week short of being 21, you’re not drinking. You’ll get to eat all your sorrows away, but there’s no beer, wine, vodka, rum, gin, I could go on but that’s mean. However in Mexico it’s 18, or I guess being pretty close to 18. 

As you walk in, the first moment could spell doom, we however won the jackpot, no one else checking in. We had the run of the house, three agents ready to pounce. 

     “Would you like a welcome drink. It has alcohol in it.”

A bikini gal comes out of no where to offer us the first of unlimited drinks thrust your way. As no one says no, so she assumes yes and goes off, never to be seen again. I turn back to the counter, ready for anything.

     “Are you sure everyone here is over 18?”  

Well, almost anything. This was the moment of truth. The next few seconds would decide whether or not, not everyone would have a good time. I mean after all he was holding our passports, snatching them as soon as we walked in and now examining them as if ISIS had infiltrated the Jews of Rockland County, Nueva York and we in turn were the infidels, or was it that after a week of Christmas Jews he wanted to prepare for whatever complaint was coming his way. I know Felice was sweating it out, she was the only one who stood to lose. She had been complaining for weeks about the all inclusive resort and the fact that she was a month away from being able to drink legally. It was already bad enough that she had to miss three days of school because we had to go the week after New Years because it was half the price. Thus the resort, while beautiful, was also going through its post New Years rehab with a decidedly non-Jewish Christmas break clientele, which included us and a few other thrifty chosen people and about 95% Spanish speaking families with young kids. Young kids who screamed, young kids everywhere, young kids that quite frankly made you want to drink.

     “So senior, are you sure everyone is 18”

Asking again, he knew the answer. He was trying to be cool. The only thing standing in the way was me. Would I follow through on my threat on the bus ride over, the same bus that was equipped with a motion sickness bag, that I would point out that she was just short of 18 and therefore didn’t qualify for the purple bracelet, instead settling for the red one, as in the color of Shirley temples.  

     “Yes, everyone is over 18.”

I figured there wasn’t enough booze at the place to make it worthwhile to answer that question any other way. He smiled and gave us all purple bracelets. I in turn avoided the first fight of the vacation, that wasn’t to come for at least another 30 minutes when, after getting up at 4am, we just wanted to sit down and stuff our faces at the buffet. From here you’re scooped up by the concierge. 

     “Hello, we need to pick your restaurant choices for the rest of your life. Here is the brochure, start choosing now.”

And then, without missing a beat.

     “And don’t forget to check in with the transportation to let them know when you’re leaving.”

So I’m picking meals and already planning my departure and I haven’t even had the chance to stuff my face at the buffet or any of the other restaurants that I was now forced to choose. And to this day, we still didn’t get our drink.