Mexican pat down

patdown

My final story about our vacation takes place on our last day there.

It starts when I go to the lobby and try to print our boarding passes at the front desk. After managing my way through Spanish Google, I get to my email and click on the link. Get the passes printed, and realize everyone has a pass but me!

Instead I have a cute little note that says, “sorry, we couldn’t print your pass, please have them printed at the terminal”… something like that.

Got to the airport, went to the desk. The guy was super nice, and actually changed our seats so we were all together and really close to first class. Reprinted passes for everyone, even me this time.

I watched, idly, as he stacked the passes together, then carefully circled the “SSSS” marked on one of the passes. Still means nothing to me, you know they always write weird things on those papers as you get through security etc… anyway.

Through security, then the wait, then last minute bathroom trip, then finally we get to board the plane. Well, almost…..

As I hand over our passes to the agent, about to step into the plane, she asks me-only me-to step aside.

I’m ushered to a table where I’m asked to empty my purse, and hold my arms out to enjoy being frisked by another agent as my belongings are scrutinized. Passengers are still boarding, my husband is off to the side just smiling… and I’m doing my best to look all “hey, I’m cool….” because I’m so embarrassed that people can SEE this happening to me! After I have to sit down and take off my shoes to have them inspected, I’m allowed to get on the plane. Still trying to act completely nonchalant about the whole thing.

I glare at my middle eastern husband….this is the second time I’ve been pulled aside and patted down/searched while traveling with him. Is it random?? Or do they think he’s planting explosives on me??

It’s probably random……

My advice? Beware the quadruple S!!!

 

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Xcaret, Mexican adventure park

MEXICO165we came for the parrots…….

We decided to go to this place, Xcaret, on our trip. It is kind of like our zoo, on acid.

Officially, the park refers to itself as a natural sanctuary, complete with Mayan ruins and underground rivers. There are also restaurants, shows, opportunities to swim with dolphins or sharks, river rides and plenty of swimming activities. So much to do! Check out the website, if you are ever near there it is worth it!

Cool thing-that we didn’t do- was to swim through this huge natural river from one end of the park to the other, about an hour long trip. Everyone has to wear life vests and you get flippers for your feet. If I were a little braver we would have done it, but of course I had to worry about the “natural” water and possible parasites…… but it looked awesome! At one point on our walk, we looked down and could see the people swimming far below…

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swimming in the river

One fun thing for all us tourists…. you can pay for access to cameras all over the park, they are marked with little footprints on the ground. You wave your wristband in front of a sensor, smile for the camera, and CLICK!

Although it’s really not all that simple sometimes. For instance, sometimes you can’t find the camera….or you don’t have time to smile, people don’t know what’s going on, it’s all happening too fast!!!  Which just adds to the fun when you look up your photos later and see how intelligent your family looks…..

Xcaret, Soy Mexico

umm…..

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getting used to this…..

Xcaret, Soy Mexico

Don’t ask,

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success!!

So here is what I would do next time…. Stay ALL DAY until the park closes. We wanted to see the shows, but most of them start at 5pm, we chose to leave with the bus at 5:30. We could have left at 9:30 at no extra charge, but I didn’t have a stroller and didn’t think Jenna would make it. Found the stroller rental on the way OUT.

We did enjoy a tame but beautiful boat ride…

Also, the cost of the park includes the river walk/swim…. it’s kind of a big part of the appeal. Next time I might be brave enough to do it. The place is just breathtaking, and we still got to see a lot. Such as, a quick show where men climb a pole to the music of a flute and drum, then spin upside down around and around the pole until they reach the bottom.

I loved the Mayan village, complete with graveyard, living huts, and plenty of character

The fact that even the 3 year old was enthralled was a big deal for me. It’s a no brainer that we will  be back on our next trip,  ready to experience everything Xcaret has to offer.

 

5th Avenue, Mexico style

What do you think of when someone talks about shopping on 5th avenue?

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Exactly.  Skyscrapers, concrete, and hustle of a big city.
But guess what?
Before I left for Mexico, I ran into a lady who knew where I was staying, and urged me to check out 5th Avenue in Playa del Carmen.
It’s a teensy bit different.

So, palm trees instead of skyscrapers….. handmade clothing and rugs instead of high couture….. but BOTH have Sephora, as well as Starbucks. I don’t know how big Senor Frogs is in New York, but here it’s kind of a big deal…..

I’ll be honest… I didn’t drink the water here. Well, not from the water fountain. I bought a bottled water from Starbucks and the guy offered me Mexican brand or Fiji brand. I asked him if it was ok to drink the Mexican brand, labeling myself as an uncouth American tourist no doubt…. but I did buy it and drank it and as previously posted, we are still alive 🙂

What else is it like on 5th avenue in Mexico?

Think Mardi Gras, the watered down version. Think street festival. Music is playing, there are like 30-40 blocks-so I was told-of shops and restaurants, little motels, and services like hair braiding, henna tattoos, and street vendors.  We were there for about 3 hours, and didn’t get all the way down one side of the street. They did have a mall with plenty of boutique shops for those who want to make sure they are spending enough money.

Not only is this “the place” to go for shopping and souvenirs, but as we walked down the street, every side street off to the left ran right into the ocean. Plenty of people come and stay in this area and never have to leave, all their needs are met.

See the water? It’s RIGHT THERE!!

Now, since we have the little ones, we didn’t stay late. But we did stay long enough to see some fun things, spend a little money, and take pictures like this:

I would wager that after dark, that place is probably a very fun spot for the single crowd. The food looked and smelled amazing, Tequila seems to flow like water, and no doubt the place stays lit up well into the night.

In any event, definitely a place worth checking out next time you find yourself in Mexico with some time on your hands.

We drank the water

my empty chair……….

Ahhhhhh, I’m back from Mexico.

Kind of dazed today…. not sure what to wear in 40-something degree weather, not sure how to feed myself anymore….. I think we were a little spoiled.

It was amazing. Such a good idea to try it instead of the usual trip to Vegas. I still love Vegas, but this is something totally different.

The three year old taught herself how to swim, like a fish, underwater. Even the 6 year old finally broke down and put his face in the water. That was major progress.

There are so many things I want to talk about, things we saw and did, things I learned about vacationing there that I will use for future trips. (Because yes, I am definitely going back).

But right now, I would like to tell you that we drank the water, and lived. EVERYONE told me not to drink the water. Not to brush my teeth with the tap water, to use bottled water instead. Also I was told not to leave the resort because I might be killed, or sold into slavery. I am probably too old for the slavery bit, but I did feel safe the whole time, and we left the resort, TWICE, and still made it back alive.

We ate all the things I was warned about, fresh fruit and salad, meats, ice cubes, water poured from pitcher that may or may not have come from a tap instead of a bottle…. and guess what? No one got sick.

We stayed at a large resort, Iberostar Paraiso Maya, and ate there as well as their surrounding properties.

This week, I am going to focus on my trip, and post about all the awesomeness we saw and did in Mexico. Right now however, I’m exhausted from taking care of myself and the kids today. I had to make lunch just now, and go grocery shopping before that!! I’ve got 3 suitcases of laundry to finish washing, and I’ve got to find the time to daydream about our trip and wish we were still there while all these things are going on. I need a nap.

 

 

 

The horror of a red nose

Let me tell you what you are looking at.

This is the beginning of a cold. I hope it’s only a cold. It started yesterday, a little goopy nose stuff, I pretended it wasn’t real, but still coated her in Vicks before bed. Set up the vaporizer and prayed…..

Seriously. These kids KNOW we are going on a plane in 2 days!!!!  How could she wait until now to get sick!?

I bought a huge assortment of cold remedies today, she’s had everything from vitamin C to zinc. The chapped cheeks and lips are setting in. The sniffles are here, we are tip-toeing around, trying to keep the cough and fever from finding us.

I would like to blame someone for this….

and also someone for causing me to gain weight instead of either lose weight or stay the same weight since I’ve started my hard core workout routine. I love how loyal my friends are, every single one has told me I must be gaining muscle, and not that the girl scout cookies and birthday cake are just stubbornly holding on.

And lastly, I would like to blame someone, anyone really, for this stiff neck that started this morning… after a particularly challenging workout last night. I can’t turn my head fully, it causes shooting pain down my back. You should have seen my turning my entire body, stiff in my seat on the highway as I tried to check  my blind spot during my very unsafe drive to work today.

So this is how I imagine my first couple vacation days… One, possibly two goopy kids….. full of snot and sand, attempting to run on the beach with mom who is not only blocking the sun with her massive size, but also resembles Frankenstein as she stumbles, stiff-legged and moaning in pain………

Or… it could all be fine. It’s a toss up right now.

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A new destination awaits

We have toyed with the idea of vacationing somewhere besides Vegas….. then booked our trip to Vegas. This has happened several times as the husband and I both seem to be the “comfortable in our rut” kind of people. Nothing wrong with that!

But, for the sake of the children understanding there are more than 2 points on the map, we are embarking on a new journey.

After our last Vegas trip, in the ARCTIC cold….. we had one requirement, it had to be warm. A for sure kind of warm that won’t ever let you down.

New destination: Mexico.

A patient of my husbands actually brought him a travel guide full of destinations, and recommended a particular resort he’s been to over 20 times. Wow, it must be great.

It’s family friendly…… got tons of swimming things to do, including a big lazy river that goes for like, miles or something. Entertainment at all hours of the day and night, lots of activities inside and outside.

Now the good part. It’s all inclusive. ALL YOU CAN EAT. Even ROOM SERVICE. Yes, I’m yelling this. It’s an amazing and wonderful concept. Makes up for the stupid strawberries and grapes I ate today instead of the bucket of grease I wanted.

So the countdown begins…. and the frantic attempts to work out and get in fabulous shape are conflicting with the desire to find the best sweatsuit/bathing suit and just start training now for my food marathon.

 

Vegas is broken

We booked this trip months ago, way before we realized the cold weather we were fleeing from in Ohio was actually going to be on vacation itself… in Vegas… the same week as us.

So, ok…as I tracked the weather I made sure to pack winter hats, coats, gloves, blankets. Just in case….

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This while friends at home were enjoying the 70’s in December…..

But that’s ok. Because we can still enjoy this.

And then, funny, how did I not pick up on the fact that we booked at the same hotel, the same hotel we always stay in….as the republican presidential debate??

Instead of the regular huge Christmas tree, there was a CNN stage and tent structure set up outside that I would half heartedly tell my husband to go out and stand by so we could watch him on TV from inside the room. He didn’t do it.

And so on the night of the debate, a wintery, blustery, freezing night in Vegas….. we sat inside our room as the lobby beneath us swarmed with security, police, and the press. Then we watched most of the debate on CNN, as it went on below us.

We finally left in time to catch the Volcano show at the Mirage. The kids loved that last year, we were there in December then as well…. funny how much warmer it was. And funny that just a year ago the volcano show ran about every 30 minutes well into the night (we had the view from our hotel window), and now it only shows a couple times a night, three times on weekends.

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freezing…and waiting

We stood there, freezing….waiting….. with the crowd of other hopeful volcano watchers around us. We continued to freeze, and wait, until finally a red flashing light started at the top of the volcano, instead of the smoke and lava it was supposed to spew. It was broken.

Next night, it wasn’t quite so windy… we wanted to catch the Bellagio fountains at night, Jenna especially wanted to see it. So we trudged down the street, kids bundled and warm, us not quite so warm. Wow, it looked like the fountain was going off over and over, how often was it running?

Finally got there, no music, just the fountain blasting constantly. Seemed like they were testing it, maybe cleaning it, something. Kind of cool to see, but lacking the magic, the choreography, the emotion…. snapped some photos but left disappointed.

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Jenna commented that Vegas was broken.

It DID seem kind of broken!

Even trying to get a picture of all of us together, so accidentally easy last year…. didn’t come together quite so well this time.

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I guess sometimes you can’t escape the little trying moments that make life so….interesting at times.

I told my husband this is going to be one of those vacations that will be so much better after we get home… you know that kind?

Despite the weather, despite Vegas being broken…. things did still pull together by the end. We got dessert every night, celebrating Jenna’s 3rd birthday all week long as we counted down to the main event….

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It was adorable how the waiter wasn’t sure of how to spell Jenna… so he covered it really heavily in sprinkles 🙂

After two times of being disappointed in the broken Volcano, it finally got it’s act together….

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And on our last day in Vegas…. the wind stopped 🙂

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It’s ok Vegas…. we still love you.