1/5/17 – Remember to dress appropriately

Got up and did the usual of going down to breakfast before coming back to do sun creams. We had a mild trauma though when I put my beach bag on my bed and a cockroach ran out and underneath my mattress! Serious eek! I obviously ran next door to get Dad, who pulled out all the sheets and it fell on the floor, where it thankfully met the underside of Dad’s shoe. Finding bugs in the room always sucks, but your bed is definitely the last place you want them. Because of the bug tizzy, it was after eleven by the time we got down to the pool. It was scorching, so we started off on some sunbeds in the shade. Throughout the day, I read half of my next Kinsey Millhone book. It really is good to be able to read in bulk again.

After a while, we decided we wanted to be in the sun, so we moved forward to some spare sunbeds and got the cocktails on the go. The oldies came back from shopping and we all had a dip in the shallow pool, where they have marble sunbeds built into the water. I had a lie on my front for a while to try and tan up my back, since I always end up darker on the front from sitting up and writing, but it wasn’t exactly the most comfortable. We went to lunch and the mash was starting to taste creamier again, still with lumps, only smaller. Looks like it’s on the road to recovery. They also had some tasty pork chops and beef escalopes in amongst the usual stuff.

It was back to the sunbeds afterwards. Started in the shade again for a bit, having collared the two different sunbeds, before moving back into the sun. Broke it all up with more reading, more dips in the pool and certainly more cocktails. Only problem with the pool is that the entirety of it is always in the sun and never in the shade, so it’s never as cool and refreshing as you want it to be and more like getting in a lukewarm-to-warm bath. Still better than just roasting though, obviously. Eventually went back up to the room to shower and rather than trying to get more pages in, I got some Clannad in instead. I like having this freedom to mix things up more.

Had to be ready a little earlier today, because we’d made reservations at the steak house, which is down on the beach, so we had to get the bus down. Dear God, I thought the mini bus to Chichen Itza was bumpy. This was like being on a rollercoaster. Didn’t help that my sear was clearly broken and I was stuck in the recline position practically over this nice Canadian woman’s lap. Let’s just say we were glad to reach the restaurant. First restaurant we’d had all holiday where everything is served at your table. The starters were a choice of shrimp cocktail and mozzarella sticks. I opted for the latter, because I don’t like shrimp cold and I freaking love mozzarella sticks. Sadly, the mozzarella wasn’t overly tasty and was overpowered by the breadcrumbs. Still nice, but not as good as I was expecting. I have high expectations of mozzarella sticks from fast food places on nights out.

Before the rest came, Mom then decided she wanted us all to go down onto the beach to take some photos. I wish I’d known that before I’d put on heels and a very short dress that meant I couldn’t bend down to take the heels off, even whilst sitting. So I had to hobble across the sand whilst tugging my dress down all the while. I’m sure I looked like a right Essex girl. Back to the table please. The main meal I chose was a tasty steak with potato wedges, a giant onion ring and a lovely garlic and parsley chimichurri sauce, then my pudding was an apple strudel with ice cream. Could have been a bit bigger, but then maybe I’ve been far too generous with my own portions at the buffet.

We made it back to the hotel bar just in time for the entertainment. Tonight’s was a Michael Jackson show. Holy hell, was it good. I mean, I could watch good MJ impersonators dance all day long, but this guy really was excellent. He even had all the mannerisms and the voice down, as well as the moves and especially that moon walk. They had other dancers on stage too, but even though they were all good, I don’t think anyone was watching them. Sorry other dancers, but MJ always rules the stage. My only disappointment was that he didn’t do the lean in Smooth Criminal, like they had at Coco Bongos, which I think raised the bar for me a little. Nobody had anything on his moon walk though.

Back to the rooms after the show to read and watch some more Clannad before bed. First day without writing a single word! It was nice to have the little break after having to keep it up so hardcore, but I’ll probably get back on it, because I really do feel like something’s missing from my day if I haven’t written anything. We watched a bit of James Corden and had some serious British enjoyment that no American would understand over a little girl pretending to knight Nigel Farage and then telling him “my mommy says you hate foreigners”. I hate kids, but this is one kid even I can get behind. Pure gold.

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This little guy decided to join us for a cheeky bevvie. (They will have your drinks if you don’t watch them!)

28/4/17 – All the Canadians

For some reason, the oldies decided not to knock on for us for breakfast, so we ended up going down by ourselves and catching them just as they were leaving. Had the usual quesadilla, bacon, sausage, sauteed potatoes and nachos. I do love their nachos. We took up some prime positions by the pool – still in the shade, because it really is blistering hot here; I know, I’m ashamed of myself too – and I got my writing game on. Bust out three pages before getting highly distracted watching three girls playing Marco Polo in the pool with some little kids. We’ve only ever seen this game played in American movies, so it was highly entertaining to us.

One of the girls then expertly saved her drink whilst rolling out of the pool, so I told her it’s always a success as long as you haven’t spilt the drink. We then got talking to them, which lasted all afternoon. They were friends from Canada called Danielle, Daria and Gelisa. They were very funny and apparently very happy to have made new friends, as they posted on Snapchat. We got so carried away chatting that we missed the lunch slot entirely. Inconceivable! We hit the snack bar instead and I had some pulled chicken, chicken nuggets and chips. Very sophisticated, of course.

We opted out of more drinks for the afternoon, because we knew we had a heavy night ahead of us. The girls all sat in the pool for a while, so I sat on the edge with them with my notebook so that I could half write and half chat, which ended up being mostly chatting. Managed to get a little more done on the sunbeds before me and Kel conceded we should go back to the room to start showering, as we had to have an early tea before Coco Bongos. Said goodbye to the girls and went back to the room. Did the usual of squeezing in some writing between getting ready, so that I was only a page behind where I wanted to be.

We went back to the Mexican restaurant this time, since it only had scheduled sittings and going down earlier meant we were right on time for the first one. I had some oddly multi coloured nachos with their hot sauce, taco rolls, refried beans and beef tostadas. Still need to try their tortilla soul at some point, but I kept filling up on everything else. I had chicken fajitas for my main. Super yummy! We had a look at the pudding buffet, but weren’t too enamoured by it, so we decided to go over to the other restaurant and look at theirs. We spotted the oldies in there, so we sat with them whilst we had ice cream with strawberry sauce. Much better.

Kel had left her phone on charge and I didn’t want to take my phone out with my, so we went back to the room for a little bit before our bus was due so that we could switch. I also squeezed in that last page I wanted before we had to go down. I am never going on holiday during a NaNoWriMo event again. It makes it feel so much more like a chore to get the pages done, when sometimes I just want to read or sunbathe or watch Clannad instead. We got on the most air conditioned bus ever. In my tiny, pineapple playsuit, it was bloody freezing. We also had to sit on there for ages in the hotel drive, because there was a faff with a mother and daughter pair who had bought their tickets, but the daughter wasn’t old enough. Expensive tickets to not get refunded, but what did they really expect from a club? You need ID. That’s just how it works.

The first stop on our special little bar crawl was Senor Frog’s – one that amused me, as it had been on Impractical Jokers. Really nice, fun little bar with a live band playing and everything froggy themed. It was beach side too. Just a shame it was so damn windy – I spent the entire time having to push my hair out of my face. We got free cocktails and free shots there, as it was all-inclusive with our tickets. No idea what either of them were, but they were both drinkable. We then had some odd margarita/mojito mash-ups and made friends with a Canadian couple called Andrew and Alisha. Seriously, there are so many Canadians here. They tried out the oxygen bar where they plug tubes up your nose, so the oxygen helps the alcohol into your blood stream faster and gives you a natural high; plus it’s meant to make your hangover a lot better the next day. Safe to say, me and Kel were happy to just tackle all that the old fashioned way. Shoving anything up my nose didn’t sound like much fun. One of our rep people then had us standing up on our chairs to a very fast forwarded version of Macarena and then some House of Pain (what a tune). I’m all for dancing on chairs and tables, but it’s a little more terrifying in heels.

We then walked round to our next coach stop, chatting to Andrew and Alisha on the way. They rent a property with forty-one acres of land and apparently get deer and porcupines in their back yard, wow! Though apparently not so wow for their pitbull that just wants to eat everything. The coach took us to the next place, Salsanero. I was given a vile cocktail upon going in – tasted like soda water and a lot of alcohol. I quickly ditched that and got us some better margaritas instead. The music in here was a lot more Spanish. As the name suggests, clearly somewhere where you learn the proper dances, rather than just going to a club. We took our own entertainment in watching a guy in pink shorts, who was dancing around all goofily and totally looked like Murr from the back.

We didn’t seem to be in there long before being moved onto Coco Bongos, which was just across the road. We were given more cocktails as we went in. These ones tasted quite medicine-y, but were at least better than the weird soda water one. They suddenly became a lot more drinkable when we were given shots to down on the go as we were directed through, which turned out to be pure tequila. My gag reflex was certainly strong with that one and I had to glug a fair bit of my weird cocktail to recover. Those of us on the specific Coco Bongo tour had our own level, which the reps were trying very hard to lead us all too. Difficult when there’s so many of you in the group and the club is completely rammed, especially when I managed to lose sight of the guy in front. Thankfully, whilst I was looking all lost, one guy turned round and asked if I was on the tour too. When I said yes, he just grabbed my hand and dragged us both through all the people, right up until we got to our designated level. Bless. It was more hilarious when I spotted the pink shorts and realised it was non-Murr.

All of the little balconies overlooked the main stage and dance floor, with step-like levels so that more people could fit and still be able to see over everyone else. We couldn’t get onto one of the steps straight away, so we couldn’t really see anything, but then they suddenly released lots of sausage balloons and me and Kel entertained ourselves with those for a while, like the children that we are. Whilst Kel was then getting up on one of the steps that had become free, I was watching her and didn’t realise I was hitting non-Murr on the head with the end of my balloon. Thankfully, he found it funny and just gave it a shake.

Once we were on the steps, we decided to launch our balloons off the balcony like javelins. Well, Kel did. I tried to do the same and managed to hit one of the overhead speakers, so that it bounced back and landed in some guy’s face, who was clearly like ‘where the fuck did this just come from?’ He tried to javelin it too and hilariously, also bounced it off the speaker and it came right back to me, so I got another shot at it. On my second try, I finally managed to launch it off the balcony and into the crowd. The whole time, we had reps going round asking for our drink orders and delivering them right to us. We chose to stick to the margaritas all night.

Our visibility of the stage had been pretty limited until that point, but as the crowd started to thin out, we finally got to see what was going on. The crowd was huge – looked like what I imagine New Year’s Eve to be at a hugely televised American event. It was basically like being in a night club that stages a pop culture themed Cirque du Soleil. They had full dance performances of medleys from artists like Bruno Mars, LMFAO and Pitbull. Real choreographed dances too. Then they had staged fights and aerial acts between Jack Sparrow and Barbossa, Spiderman and Green Goblin, The Mask, and the guys from Tron. Tron acts always look so good because of the light-up suits, but their aerial work was something else. Serious highlight for us was when Satine came out n her trapeze to Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend, going into a whole little Moulin Rouge segment. Far too much love for that movie.

Our reps started directing us back outside before the club closed at three, so we headed back to a congregation point where we were all directed towards the right coaches. We got stuck with an insanely noisy group of Colombian girls. Now I’m all for appreciating Colombians, because they hella pretty, but these were just damn annoying. Two of them were from our hotel and trying to ask us what our room number was. Dodgy or what? Safe to say, we didn’t tell them anything. I was prepared to make up a fake number if we had to.

There was no question that we weren’t doing anything when we got back, other than going to bed. Personally, I was just glad to get rid of the heels, because it had been a very standing-only kind of night. Maybe next time, I’ll just stick to flats.

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This is not your average night club.

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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.

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

29/9/16 – All good things

Final get-up of the trip. Was a little earlier today, since w wanted to make the most of the pool whilst we could. The forecast is… sunny, yay. Got into my bikini, put together my beach bag and down to the pool we went. We found ourselves some sunbeds in the sun and we were well away. It was blisteringly hot.I started off reading and ended up finishing my Kelley Armstrong book, so I then switched to lying on my front so that I could tan my back. Had to take short breaks to go and stand in the shallow end to cool down every now and then.

When the sun disappeared behind the very big hotel, we figured we’d be best to go back to the room. We Skyped Kel, all showered in procession and got the rest of our stuff packed up. We moved everything downstairs and got a shuttle service to the airport. The first thing we wanted once we’d got through customs was food. Went to some little take-out restaurant place. I had what was supposedly Jamaican jerk chicken breast with rice and plantains. It definitely wasn’t jerk anything. Just a grilled chicken breast with a bit of sauce on it. I’m still not entirely sure what plantains are, other than that they’re not nice. It was filling enough though.

After that, we went to check out duty free. Always a good place for restocking our alcohol cupboard and Miami airport didn’t fail us. I got a big, fat 1.75L bottle of Smirnoff for only twenty-three dollars. Sometimes you’re hard pressed to get even a litre for that amount at home. They also had the fancy Belvedere stuff for only thirty-three dollars – again, cheaper than at home. Since I’d never tried it before, I decided to get a pink grapefruit bottle as a birthday present to myself for next week. We also got a refill on Cointreau, since we get through quite a lot of that when we do cocktail nights in.

We went to a little bar afterwards for mimosas, then I ran to grab some drinks from one of the shops before we had to board. Fabby in-flight entertainment once again. I’d watched half of Elvis and Nixon before we’d even taken off. Charming film, though they really couldn’t have got an uglier Elvis. At least Evan Peters kept it up on the eye candy front. Following the same actor theme, once we were up in the air, I decided to rewatch X-Men Apocalypse. I then got distracted by a spectacular electrical storm that we were flying by and managed to get some good photos through the window.

Food then came during X-Men. I forget how weird Air France food is. Bread roll, fine; wheatgerm and shiitake mushroom rice salad, eh; chicken and rice, ropey; apple sauce, okay; chocolate brownie thing, okay. Even the cheese was really weird. I remember Air France being better for the snacks, so maybe we’ll have to wait for that. The one upside was that I got a glass of champagne with my meal, so I guess I can’t complain too much. Unsurprisingly, I felt a little tired after the food and champers, so I decided to go with a movie I knew well, since it meant I wouldn’t have to concentrate too much.

That meant opting for Princess and the Frog, which instead succeeded in waking me up, as it made me want to have a singalong. Like any Disney, it also has its super sad moments. I already felt super emotional about leaving America behind and if I didn’t shed a tear over Princess and the Frog, then I definitely did over Big Hero 6, which I saved till last and watched afterwards. I have a definite love-hate relationship with that movie, very much like with Clannad. Serious adoration for it, but it still breaks my heart every time. Fuck you, Disney. I switched to writing after that and did another couple of flash fictions.

We landed in Paris after the eight hour flight and were now six hours ahead in time. These time zones really are so confusing, especially when you haven’t slept. The flight was then delayed half an hour. That always sucks worse when you’re coming home, because you have nothing to look forward to. By this point, all you want is to get home. Thankfully, the flight itself was only about an hour long. I listened to some music for a bit, watched some Psych and was so tired by that time, that I slept through on and off until landing. I kept doing that whole nodding dog thing, but at one point when I did it, we’d already landed. Guess it worked out to an extent. My ears are usually excruciating when landing, so I was glad I skipped that part.

Baggage claim and passport control were fairly simple and we were outside and in a taxi within twenty-five minutes. Thank god. It had been a long day, made worse by the fact that I’ve never been so depressed to come home. What with the fact that my closest friends don’t live so nearby – two of them technically living overseas – besides Kel and the dog, I really didn’t feel much reason to come back at all. My love affair with America is just far too great and seems to be getting stronger all the time. Maybe now it won’t be so much as saving for the next trip, but saving towards moving there on a more permanent basis. I need to hurry up and start getting my books published.

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Now that’s entertainment.