Monday, July 23, 2012

Buenas noches desde Playa del Carmen, Mexico!

Good evening from Playa Del Carmen, Mexico! Dad and I arrived on Saturday afternoon and it has been quite an adventure already! I usually chronicle the details of our vacation on my blog, but I'm already behind on this one. I need to catch up, so be warned - the boring details will be included. Read on at your own risk.

DAY 1: Saturday, July 21, 2012
I was up early for my flight. I arrived at the airport just after 7:00 a.m. for my 9:00 a.m flight. The ticket counter and security lines were long. In the security line was a woman with two children, one of whom was 2 or 3 years old. He was a menace. The child tore down the security line separator while playing on it with his cars and then proceeded to have a tantrum where he laid on the floor crying. His mother removed his shoes and left him on the floor as she tried to get ready to proceed through the metal detectors. The child then took off his pants, stood up and removed his diaper. At this point, the TSA agent told the woman that she needed to put the child's diaper back on him or at least make sure he was covered. Fun times.

I made it on to my flight and proceeded to meet a very interesting woman who had recently retired. She and I had a very interesting conversation, which made the flight go faster. It's always nice to meet interesting people. More on her in another post!

I arrived at Cancun Airport. You cannot fly directly to Playa Del Carmen, you must go to Cancun and then take ground transportation to Playa. I waited for my father's flight. He was arriving an hour later. We had some trouble finding each other, but finally did so and then got on the bus to travel to Playa. We arrived in the late afternoon, at which point we checked into our hotel. It's a small boutique hotel on 5th Avenue, which is basically the main street in town. There are restaurants, bars, shops, etc. all on 5th. After getting settled in the room, we went to Dive Shop Mexico to plan our dives for the week. Having accomplished that, we headed to El Fogon for fajitas. This was a restaurant we had heard many good reviews about and decided we needed to try.

Unfortunately, it was a bit of a disappointment for us both. Dad and I had beef fajitas and they were very good, but they did not include rice or refried beans and there was no sour cream. We are glad to have tried the place, but we both enjoy rice and refried beans with our fajitas and I love sour cream with mine so we will not be visiting El Fogon again. After dinner, we headed back to the hotel and I promptly fell asleep at 7 p.m. It was an exhausting day.

DAY 2: Sunday July 22, 2012
We were up VERY early on this day because we were going to see Chichen Itza! Both my Dad and I have a great interest in history in general so we love things like this. We made our way to the hotel where the tour company would be picking us up at 7:30. The bus ride to Chichen Itza is very long. We first stopped at a cenote and then made our way to a Mexican buffet, which was included in the tour. It was good food for a reasonable price, but we found out they make their money on the drinks. Dad had two sodas and I had one, which we ended up paying $10 for. This was OK since we were easily able to pay it, but it still would have been nice to know that the drinks were not included.

After this, we were again on the bus for another hour or so before arriving at Chichen Itza. The place was PACKED! Think Disneyland in the middle of summer! It literally was wall to wall people and with the humidity already high, the amount of people generating body heat did not help. We received a guided tour of the grounds. Chichen Itza is incredible! There are simply no words for it. It has often been shown on television and you can see it on the Internet of course, but there is no substitute for seeing it in person. I highly recommend it, even with the hoards of people.

Dad and I finished with Chichen Itza around 4:30 so we took a seat outside to wait for the rest of our group. There were a ton of tour buses around the place. Suddenly, it started raining and we ran to take refuge under a tree with several other people. Dad said he thought he saw our tour bus across the road. I checked it out and indeed it was ours so we made a run for it and settled into our seats while watching others dash through the rain. I am originally from Oregon so rain doesn't faze me at all. It is interesting to see how others can become practically debilitated by it though!

We left Chichen Itza around 5:30 p.m. and proceeded to spend the next four hours in the bus. We made a small 20 minute stop in a little town not far away and the rest of the time was traveling back to Playa. The bus was crowded with people and everyone was let off at their hotels. Dad and I were last. They let us off about a block from the hotel meeting point (which was not where we were staying, but rather a few blocks away) and we decided to see if we could find something to eat that late. We did not need to worry. 5th Avenue was full of open restaurants just getting started for the evening it seemed. We stopped at one of the first places we saw. Dad had chicken and I had fajitas. It was not bad at all. We got back to our hotel, went to our respective rooms and dropped from exhaustion.

Day 3: Monday, July 23, 2012
This day did not begin as early as the others, which was a blessing. Dad and I both needed a day that started at a reasonable hour. We met for breakfast around 8:30. The hotel serves a continental breakfast on their rooftop, so we went up there and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast. We then made our way to the dive shop for our first dives of the trip! We decided to take a dip in the dive shop pool just to get reacquainted with the diving equipment and practice a bit. We did that and while we were waiting to begin our reef dives, I went to a small pizza shop and had a slice of pizza and a Fanta, which is quite popular here.

Upon returning to the shop, all of our dive equipment was loaded into a three-wheel bicycle/cart and we followed the dive master with the cart down to the beach. It was a quaint way of traveling, but I liked it. There is something very refreshing about doing things the simple way. My Dad and I were the only two divers on the boat today since the other boat had students who are still learning to dive.

We made our way to the first reef, which was called Chum-Zumbul. It was a nice, shallow dive (40-45 feet) with some pretty coral and fish. I enjoyed it. But, after our first dive, I was unable to swim back to the boat. The surf was very choppy and I kept getting further and further from the boat. I was so tired and it felt like I had lead in my feet. Because the water was choppy, I was also taking in salt water and starting to cough. It was not a pleasant situation and I must admit, I panicked slightly, but I kept my cool for the most part realizing that I would be fine if I just stayed still. Thankfully, the dive master came to get me and I made it on the boat. but wow was I tired and I felt nauseous too. It was the pizza I ate earlier, I just ate too close to the time we were to go diving. I have learned my lesson and I will not do that again.

Our second dive was Moc Che reef, which was also shallow (also 40-45 feet). I was still feeling nauseous on the dive, but it was a good dive and I started feeling somewhat better once we were on the dive. This dive was nice and went without incident. Once I was back on the boat, I was ready to get back to land, have something to eat and relax. Dad and I planned to go to Subway for dinner and then to Wal-Mart to pick up a couple of needed items. Yes, Playa has a Wal-Mart and no, I don't care for any political commentary on the evils of Wal-Mart thank you very much.

We had a nice dinner at Subway and then headed to Wal-Mart. I was carrying a bag with my money, my Dad's plastic money container that he had taken to the dive shop and various items we had for the day. When I went to get my Dad's container out of the bag, I realized it was gone. I knew we had it at the Subway as he had used it when he paid for dinner, but I must have left it on the counter there. Dad headed back to the Subway to see if he could find it, while I paid for our purchases, but it was not there. The problem with this is that the container had Dad's credit card in it, which he had been using to pay the major bills we incur here - the dive trips, the horseback riding we will do later this week, and so on.

Not to worry though!! Thankfully, he was able to cancel the card and they will reissue him one. Meanwhile, I have enough in my checking account to cover our costs  and I have my debit card so I will pay for those things and Dad will reimburse me when we return home. So it all worked out, but it still stinks to lose something like that. Dad is awesome though in that he takes such things well and we worked out what to do about it together. That is one of the many, many things that makes him an awesome travel partner - he does not freak out over such things and we work out together how to deal with stuff. It's a beautiful thing!

So, here we are about to head into Day 4. Tomorrow, we begin the day early by diving cenotes. I am SO excited! Stay tuned for the recap of cenote diving and our search for a good restaurant for tomorrow's dinner. I know, I know, it's riveting!


Secret Agent Woman said...

This takes me back to my honeymoon in that area. We went to Tulum and Xelha, which appear to be similar.

Maria said...

Wow. Parents are very seldom good traveling companions but it sounds as if your dad is the exception to the rule!

Dauphyfan said...

Sounds like an awesome trip so far! Sorry to hear your Dad lost his money, that sucks. You two are lucky to have each other to have these fun times together.

Karen Peterson said...

That sounds like so much fun. Every time you write about your trips to Mexico, it makes me want to go!

Thank, Q said...

I don't think that I ever cared if I visited Mexico or not until I started following you. LOL! Visiting temples and other historic parts of Mexico seems like it would be so cool. Sucks about losing the money, but memories of the good times can never be lost. Well, I guess technically, they could, but you know what I mean! :)