30/4/17 – When in Mexico…

Had a bit of a rude awakening when Mom came knocking on the door at seven, as they were going don for breakfast. Turned out my alarm hadn’t gone off because my old BlackBerry had died a death in the night, so we were suddenly up and rushing to get ready, knowing we’d just have to skip breakfast ourselves. Got all sun creamed and since we’d be wearing normal day clothes this time, I got to wear my new pineapple shorts. We didn’t have any drink left in the room, as it was refill day, so I ran down to the breakfast hall to fill up an empty bottle with the fakey pineapple juice, whilst the others went to the pick-up point.

We got on our own private mini bus, heading for Chichen Itza. Turned out the oldies had grabbed us some chocolate and orange muffins to-go from breakfast, aww. We had a quick stop at a shop before joining the highway. I had a giant Red Bull – first I’d had in six days. Not that I was counting or anything. Once we got onto the highway, it was just under a two-hour drive to Chichen Itza. I used the time to drink my Red Bull and attempt to catch up on writing, since it was the last day of Camp NaNoWriMo. This was made a lot harder by how goddamn bumpy the mini bus was (not to mention our driver was a bit of a maniac). I’m not sure my writing will even be legible when I get to typing it all up.

The Chichen Itza site was huge. We saw the giant step pyramid, which is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, the thousands of columns left standing, various ruins, the sacrificial stone mounds, one of the cenotes and hilariously, a huge open ground with stone rings built into the walls on either side, just like in the Road to El Dorado. Between that and the pyramid, we were sure this must be where it was based on. There were merchant stalls everywhere. I quite wanted to get a Day of the Dead skull for Kay, but whenever I found ones that weren’t tacky, the merchants just started haggling ridiculously. I get that’s what they do, but when they try ripping me off from the start, I don’t feel so keen to give them my business. I also don’t like having them bothering you when you’re just trying to look.

Chichen Itza generally takes between two to four hours to cover the whole site. We don’t fanny about and it was sweltering, so we did it in less than two. We went back to our mini bus and were taken to a buffet restaurant. Nachos, rice, spag bol and some lovely chicken on the bone. They had puddings too, so I had fresh watermelon and orange and then a melon jelly. So much more refreshing. It was then back in the mini bus and off to the cenote. As super pretty as the cenote was, the novelty wore off quickly for me. Maybe because it was butterfly central (they even had a butterfly as part of their logo, so I’m not just exaggerating) and I was on edge the whole time. Or maybe because it was still boiling hot, I’d gone down a hundred steps and only got one foot in the cenote before seeing all the catfish and quickly getting back up the ladder. So I couldn’t even cool off. Mom didn’t like it either, so we just had to wait around whilst Kel and Dad had a swim. Give me a proper swimming pool any day.

I felt ready to die by the time we were leaving. It was thirty-nine degrees by this point. I had a gross ice lolly that said it was lemon, but was mostly creamy, so I chucked that. Had a drink too, but it really didn’t seem to help. We returned to our mini bus and headed out to a town called Valladolid. However, we did one quick tour around the little square and were only there for all of five minutes, before we were going back to the mini bus once again. It was just too hot, with nowhere in the shade and nowhere to go inside. This time, we just started back towards the hotel. I desperately continued with my writing, even though it was sprawling across the entire page from all the bumps. Next time, I’m bringing my laptop.

It was gone five by the time we got back, so it was time to shower and try and get those last few pages done in between. Amazingly, I did it with ease and even got carried away and went 440 words over the 50K I needed. Now my only problem will be validating it online. Since I hand write my first drafts, I have to use a random text generator to create enough text to match my word count. That’s a lot of text to copy and paste – I don’t know if my phone will be able to hack it. Once we were ready, we went down to the bar for a quick margarita and then moved onto food. Most of the usual once again. Mash was still lumpy. They did have the beef tostadas from the Mexican restaurant though, as well as some glorious grouper marinated in salsa verdi. I’m very picky with fish, but I knew I could trust Mom’s recommendation on it, because she’s equally as picky when it comes to seafood.

Back to the bar again, so I jumped onto the WiFi to try and validate my novel. Had a few mishaps with the copy and paste not working properly, but eventually managed to do it. Woooo! Best total I’ve had from a NaNoWriMo month yet and this was the one where I really thought I’d fall too far behind to manage. I happily celebrated with some more margaritas and mango daiquiris. The entertainment tonight was a mix of various cultural, more choreographed dances. Pop culture obviously appeals much more to us, but they did manage to successfully catch mine and Kel’s attention when they did one dance to the Circle of Life. We’re always on the ball when we hear that little African introduction.

Came back to the apartment after and flicked through the various talk shows. We were talking about Jimmy Kimmel and I discovered Kel had never seen the “I’m fucking Ben Affleck” skit; only the Matt Damon one. Of course I had to put it on to show her, since I have random shit like that on my iPod. Also finished my Anita Blake book off. God, it feels good to be able to do whatever I want. I love writing, but having to worry constantly about word counts on holiday makes it feel like homework, which nobody wants on holiday.

blog

Consider me wonderstruck…

24/4/17 – Hola, Mexico!

It’s been quite a few months, but we’re finally back on the road. Just after five AM get-up to get ready and have a very childish breakfast o the last jelly pot in the fridge and the remainder of an Easter egg. No Izzy to say bye to today – we already dropped her off at the kennels yesterday, as it’s the first time we’re all going away as a family for a while. Had the trademark chatty taxi driver on the way to the airport. We were able to get there a little later, as we’d dropped the cases off last night for the early check-in.

Security was a ball-ache, because it was busy and there were a lot of old people who couldn’t seem to grasp the concept of using every machine available. We purposely started picking queues with less old people to avoid the same problem. No time for my usual Burger King breakfast (childish one will have to do) because our gate number was already on the board. Quickly popped into Boots for some drinks and shock horror, they had no Red Bull. Cue running round to WHSmith instead for a giant Red Bull and some Powerade too. Good WHSmith.

We had a good ten-hour flight ahead of us to get to Mexico, so I was disappointed to learn that Thomson are nowhere near as good with the long haul flights as ones like Delta and Air France. More leg room, sure, but what happened to the special Netflix-like super collection of movies and TV shows? There were probably about fifteen movies and a very small selection of TV shows – a lot of them only having one episode on there. Que le point? There were also many noisy babies and stupid small kids on board. I cry.

However, not long after we’d taken off, I did realise something mildly exciting. Andy West, former newsreader and my favourite from last summer’s Big Brother (the only time I watched religiously) was sat right across the aisle from me. This obviously entailed a lot of sneaky peeks on my part and Mom even sneaking some photos of him. Then it later turned out, when I heard him talk, that it wasn’t him after all. So he has a twin out there and Mom took pictures of some random guy. Hilarious. I read a couple of chapters of my new Anita Blake book, did a bit of writing and watched Keeping Up With the Joneses from the poor selection. Kinda meh movie, but at least yay for Gal Gadot.

I had an orange juice from the trolley people when they came round, then quickly learnt that was a bad move, as I could have had alcohol instead. Stupid orange juice. We then had our main meal a few hours in. Bread roll, cheese and crackers, a portable roast chicken dinner, a little fancy chocolate truffle and a chocolate orange ganache. All very lovely – devoured everything apart from the carrot and broccoli that came with the chicken. I also had some rosé wine with the meal. I don’t like wine, but it was free alcohol. Took me a good long effort to get through it though.

When the drinks trolley came back round, I was all set to have a Magners until a guy opposite had a Red Bull. Obviously I had to take advantage of free Red Bull, because when does that ever happen? (Apart from when we visited Emi in Bulgaria, seeing as she actually works at Red Bull). It didn’t matter that I’d already had a giant one. I at least hadn’t been able to have much of my Powerade, because it had weirdly gone off and tasted well funny. Bad WHSmith. I watched an episode of Psych, read a few more chapters of Anita Blake and started rewatching Clannad for the billionth time, only getting three episodes in, because I mostly wanted to concentrate on writing for the majority of the flight. I’ve never been on holiday during a NaNoWriMo the event before, so this is a new challenge for me to try and make it on time. Not helped by the fact that I’m already over four thousand words behind because of holiday prep and days out to both London and Nottingham this month.

I did manage to get a good nine pages done though. Besides my body reminding me when I got hungry, I’d have said the flight crazily blitzed by. Nobody else seemed to agree with me. However, I did get very stressed when I got hungry, because we were told they’d be bringing a snack round for everyone and the air hostesses started hanging out teeny packets that had legit only twelve jelly beans in them. Thankfully, it turned out this was just a pre-snack and not what they’d been talking about. Phew! The real snack turned out to be a little creamy cheese and onion roll and a fresh scone with jam and clotted cream. Now that is a proper snack!

Thanks to writing, I really didn’t feel it had been all that long. My ears were excruciating when we landed though, so I was still glad to get off the plane. Even more so when all that heat his us, yay. Getting through customs and baggage claim didn’t take too long. They had a bit of a design flaw with the rickety, narrow luggage carousel, which kept tipping random bags off the side when they went round the corner, so that you couldn’t get to them without a bit of climbing involved. I had fun just walking along to our coach. Oh my god, Mexican men. I am in a special kind of heaven. We had about an hour transfer on the coach as we were the first drop-off. The landscape was very Greece meets America. We decided we liked Mexican billboards, which are quite extravagant with big 3D models.

We arrived at the Riu Lupita and were greeted by a Mexican rep, who had four glasses waiting for us of a (sadly) non-alcoholic cocktail called Congo. Very refreshing and well needed after all the travel. We were told about the local coaties that roam around the resort before we were shown to our rooms. Coaties are like lemurs mixed with raccoons, only much cuter. Our rooms are beautiful with a huge walk-in shower, a fully stocked fridge (that gets re-filled every other day) and our own freaking optics of vodka, tequila, rum and gin – all free! We unpacked and spotted a lot of coaties from our balcony. They really are cute and apparently pretty friendly; just regarded as more of a pest, because they’ll eat scraps and they’ll get into your rooms if you leave the balcony doors open.

We had our first drinks in the room – vodka and lemonade for me; seriously strong vodka too – and then went for an explore around the complex. It’s huge and so pretty. We found two different swimming pools, the bar and two of the restaurants. There were more coaties just wandering around, but not being a bther. Clearly like how Greece are with dogs and cats. Kel made me get in a hammock for shits and giggles, then we found some capybaras roaming around too. So cute! We went back to fetch the oldies, then had to take them on a little tour round what we’d just found before going to the bar for our first drinks. The drink ingredients weren’t listed in English, so I had fun utilising my GCSE level Spanish (i.e. remembering more than I thought!) I had a Blue Ocean for my first drink. Pineapple-y and nice and strong. They pineapple is seriously juicy too. And we all know how much I love pineapple.

We went to the Mexican restaurant for tea, because it just had to be done. My god, this really is a Toni special kind of heaven. The starters and puddings are all buffet style and you just order your main before you start picking. I was ready to try everything. Chilli con carne, refried beans, vegetable quesadillas, beef taco rolls, mini enchiladas, beef tostadas and nachos with goat’s cheese and their special habanero sauce, which nearly took the inside of my mouth out. Glad I only put a dribble of it on my nachos! For my main, I had marinated steak. The sides were strange – more enchiladas in a weird cinnamon-y sauce and what had to be plantains, which I discovered last year that I definitely don’t like – but the steak itself was freaking perfect. I wouldn’t even let anyone else have a taste.

By the time we’d eaten, the tiredness was really setting in, so we decided to forego more drinks and call it a night. I finished writing the page I’d been working on back in the room, totalled up my word count and was in bed by nine. Seeing as it would have been three in the morning our time and I’d been up for twenty-two hours by this point, I figured it was pretty good going to start us off.

blog

Now this is what I’ve always dreamed of seeing in my hotel room…