3/4/17 – Joya Mexico

Got woken up to go down to breakfast again. Usual rigmarole of food and then sun creaming. However, for a change of pace, we then got on the bus and got off at the stop before the beach to visit some shops in search of tourist tat. I got a sombrero magnet for Sar for hamster-sitting Wilson for me and a key ring for Lisa, because she loves key rings. I searched high and low for a good Day of the Dead skull for Kay, but just couldn’t find one that didn’t look tacky or cartoony. I did manage to get a Red Bull, a giant bag of Funyuns and a pineapple cocktail stirrer for me though. I had to get at least something pineapple!

It was really hot again, unsurprisingly, so we soon got bored of shopping and started heading back. The people in the shops were all super annoying, standing in the doorways and shouting after you and trying to collar you as you walked past. The new one they started using was asking if we remembered them from the Riu Lupita, then promising they could give us good discounts. They clearly knew what hotel we were staying at from the wristbands we all have to wear for the all inclusive. Yeah, nice try, guys. I wasn’t born yesterday.

Got the bus back, dropped the shopping off in the room and then hit the poolside. Did more reading and firmly sat right way up at all times to protect my burn, even though it hurt every time I moved. Stupid factor fifteen. We all grabbed some drinks and got in the pool. I love that we can do that here. They even have little tables built into the water in the shallow end, so they clearly encourage it. Daria came down with a drink of her own to join us, so we were all chatting to her for a while, then Danielle and Gelisa joined us too. Had to eventually get out to dry off so we could go for lunch. Usual stuffs (mmm, mash) plus I tried their bolognese pasta. Pretty good!

We only had an hour or so left by the pool before we had to start getting ready in order to grab some food as late as possible from the snack bar, since the main restaurant wouldn’t be open by the time we had to get our taxi to the Cirque du Soleil show we had booked. Did some more reading and sunbathing before conceding to going back to shower and get ready. Watched some more Clannad and had my Red Bull whilst Kel was getting ready and then felt all emotional. Damn show gets me every time. We came down to the snack bar and I had what felt like a big kid’s lunch – fries, a hot dog sausage, a burger patty and two kinds of pizza. We still had some time to kill before our taxi, so we had some margaritas whilst we waited.

The taxi was a little rammoed for the four of us on a half hour drive. Thank god for air con. Cirque du Soleil was Dad’s early birthday surprise, which he figured out as we saw more and more signs for it en route. The show was called Joya and it’s a permanent show at the venue. The place alone was really lovely. To get to the venue hall itself, you had to follow boardwalks across mini lakes, where they had a bar area, a live band playing, all the trees were lit up with subtle fairy lights that looked like green fireflies and they even had people dressed in African wear go along the water in a canoe, carrying flaming torches. Really good atmosphere and a fantastic place to sit and have a drink, which we happily did before our show. I had a French martini, which was Grey Goose vodka (my fave), pineapple juice, Chambord and triple sec. Nicest cocktail I’ve had all holiday and I’ve already been a big fan of the cocktails here.

The inside of the venue was really nice too. Each row had plenty of leg room, with little tables with lamps and ice buckets on them in between every two seats. A waiter came down with menus to take our drink orders and then brought the drinks to our seats. Now that’s the service you want for a show. The show itself was just incredible – exactly what you’d expect from a Cirque du Soleil show. We’ve seen one before and both times, they pull out acrobatics, aerial acts, trampoline acts, even acts you’d think they can’t do much with, like juggling and skipping ropes, and they just do things with them that should simply defy physics, yet they make it look effortless. It’s impossible to describe. The trampolining was my favourite once again; it’s just mind boggling to watch. They had a really great storyline behind it on an eccentric scholar and his clumsy apprentice, who active a meteor that they’ve found and all the books start coming to life. Very The Pagemaster meets Spirited Away. I don’t have to explain how awesome that is. They always include a lot of humour too. At one point, the scholar pulled someone up out of the audience called Robert and purposely called him Carlos instead. Then he made him swap seats in the audience with someone else and was like, “What’s your name? Yusuke? Come on, Carlos.” Very amusing.

We came out after and Mom insisted on having photos by the Cirque du Soleil stone sign. Worst part about going away with family – all the goddamn photos. We got our taxi back, which was a big people carrier this time. Wasn’t so grateful for the air con anymore. It was on so high, it was practically cold! I had to close all the shutters. When we got back to the resort, we went to have a peek inside the on-site night club, which we’d forgotten about. Clearly for good reason too. Although it looked nice inside, there were only two people in there. At half eleven. Not exactly raving. We went back to the bar to say hi to the girls and then have some cocktails instead.

Back to the room afterwards for the usual JC and Clannad. I even followed it up by some bits of Final Fantasy: Advent Children, just to mix it up a bit. Ready for an early start tomorrow to make the most of our last full day.

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Some places just know how to create an atmosphere.

26/9/15 – I love all inclusive

Got up earlyish again so that we could get ready and head down for breakfast. This time, we knew to hit the better breakfast stuff first, so I ended up with bacon, two kinds of sausage, scrambled eggs with ham and a churro to try because I was curious. It’s odd. It’s kinda like a deep fried savoury donut. I actually had second breakfast and followed it up with peach slices, half a mango, a seriously crumbly chocolate biscuit and a crepe filled with strawberry jam. Well, people always compared me to a hobbit. Gotta live up to it.

We hung around the pool again and finally got the sun we’d been waiting for, so I actually got to get a good session of sunbathing in. I wrote another short story and did some more reading – still making the most of the all inclusive drinks all the while, of course. I’d had two sangrias and a cocktail before it was even midday. That’s just the way you have to roll when you’re on holiday. Joel came round with another game for us. For this one, you had to throw cards into a magician’s hat. I had a go, but only managed two. It didn’t help that it was super windy. Honestly, I was just surprised that the cards didn’t end up in the pool.

We hit the proper buffet for lunch, rather than just the snack bar this time. We definitely missed out yesterday! I had the yummy rice again, another Mexican style pork rice, more garlic potatoes, chips and a slice of a delicious cheese pizza. I’m really not a fan of pizza at all, but this is another thing that most European holiday-making places do right. If it’s not cooked in a clay oven, then I’m not interested. Forget that frozen nonsense. We were pretty hot after lunch, so decided to have my first dip in the pool. Oh my god. Most freezing cold pool in the world – I think that was the briefest lap I’ve ever done, before I swiftly got back out.

When it started to get later and I was feeling nice and cooked by the sun, I popped to a nearby shop to get some Red Bull. For some reason – made even more oblivious by the fact that I must have looked like a right sweaty tramp after sitting in the sun all day – the shop assistant took a shine to me and gave me a Greek eye style bracelet. I wasn’t really sure what to do about that, other than not be rude and just accept it. I really hope this doesn’t mean we’re married in Spanish or something. Though I do actually have a thing for Hispanic men, I don’t really want to bring this one home with me.

I had my Red Bull and read a little in between showering and getting ready, once I was back in the apartment. I quickly learnt that I’d clearly got very carried away with our first bit of sun and basically burnt everywhere. Joy. I wore my Gothic looking red and black dress that Flick got me for my birthday last year and is still one of my top outfits of choice. It hit the worst of my weird burn lines. We then went down for more food. I really do like this all inclusive deal. A lot of the food suggested today was maybe following more of a Mexican theme, but they also had some little samosas, which were nice but a little out of place. I had my usual rices combo, fries, samosas, a type of bolognese pasta, a lamb chop, chicken in a sweet-ish sauce and some sliced potatoes that were almost as thin as crisps and so tasty! Pudding this time was more mousses and more jelly.

We moved into the entertainment area and really started making the most of the all inclusive drinks. I think we each got two more drinks around every half hour. Because why the hell not? I did regret switching from cocktails and sangria to vodka and lemon on my last round though. The guy asked me if he’d poured out enough vodka, which he already had by far, then kept adding more anyway. I know you know English better than that! I ended up with drinks that were more than three quarters full of vodka. Safe to say, I didn’t finish either of them. I like vodka, but I like having more than just an essence of mixer to go with it.

I was, sadly, very excited about the main entertainment for tonight, which was a movie quiz. If my forte is in anything, it’s in movies. The basis for this one was that we were played part of a song and had to pinpoint what movie it was from. Of course, I had to add silly little drawings like a sinking boat for Titanic, a naff ghost for Ghost and then the same naff ghost with a cross through it for Ghostbusters. Some of the questions were quite easy, but I got super excited when they started playing the Public Domain song from Blade. I think that one stumped most people. I clearly had an unfair advantage because I love the hell out of those movies (yes, even two and Trinity – my rule with them is that the storylines get worse, but the guys get hotter!) and had actually been listening to that song whilst I’d been sunbathing! Patrik was hosting again and he showed us a video afterwards that he’d done to that song for some horror event, where he was shirtless, covered in ‘blood’ and doing a choreographed dance with a ‘victim’. When you look like he does, all you really need is the shirtless part.

We had Let It Go and the Circle of Life for the Disney side of things – both of which me and Kel clearly had to sing along very loudly to. Sadly, we missed out on only one point by a song from Desperados, which is definitely one neither of us had seen. It’s a shame too, as I would have nailed the two tiebreaker questions they had for the winning teams – the name of Danny Zuko’s best friend and then identifying a song from The Mask. I was actually amazed myself that I knew the latter. Haven’t seen that film in years!

After the quiz, Patrik said he was heading out to a bar with some of the other guests if we wanted to join, so we happily agreed. There were two German girls, who I don’t think spoke much English so we didn’t even learn their names, but we got along well with the two pairs of Scots – Brenda and Karen, who were a fair bit older, and then Kymm and Kirstie, who were probably several years older than us. Everyone was very funny and very friendly and happy to chat and take stupid selfies. Patrik said he’d show us his office first, which is a little hut type thing that overlooks part of the pool. He showed us his mascot outfit, which is some kind of dolphin or marlin called Panchi, and asked if any of us wanted to try it on. Nobody volunteered, so I took the bullet. I think he was quite happy about it. I didn’t realised I had to wear the very tight blue leggings and the big shoes too. Very awkward to get into in a very short dress and heels with everyone watching. I had to try not to flash anyone in the process. I was grateful it didn’t smell in there, but it was hot and would probably get claustrophobic quickly, so I was equally as grateful to get out of it!

Say hello to Panchi! Oh no, wait, it's just me...

Say hello to Panchi! Oh no, wait, it’s just me…

He then took us to a little shopping centre type complex of clubs, which was a bit like a less fancy version of the Arcadian. We saw Satan on the way too! Joel met us there and we did several rounds of drinks, champagne that Patrik produced from somewhere and some shots that I think were peach schnapps or similar. He came over to me with the bottle at one point and I wasn’t quite sure what he wanted me to do, then realised he wanted to pour an extra shot into my mouth. He didn’t pour too much so that I ended up looking like a dribbling loon, so I was cool with that game. A bit later on, Brenda and Karen were trying to convince him to lose his shirt (I think everyone appreciated the beauty of his vampire video) and he compromised by unbuttoning half of it and then trying to get us all to lick his chest. I settled for kissing it instead. I’ve licked a hot chest before and it is so not pleasant (though in that case there was mayo involved too).

By this point, Kel was clearly hanging onto composure by a thread, so I decided it was time to walk her back. We both ended up walking back carrying out shoes – the bane of wearing heels – and acquired a companion for a short while, who said he was called Brian but so blatantly wasn’t called Brian. Thankfully, we managed to get rid of not-Brian after a while when he kept asking about boyfriends and other inappropriate things. When you’re on holiday and creepy guys ask if you have a boyfriend back home, just say yes. They’ll never know.

Group shot! (Not sure why I always hunch down in photos when I'm drunk... Am I trying to be invisible or something?)

Group shot! (Not sure why I always hunch down in photos when I’m drunk… Am I trying to be invisible or something?)

It all seemed to hit me when we got back to the apartment. I don’t remember a lot of it now, but I kept getting the whirlies whilst I was trying to lie down and I may or may not have (by that, I mean definitely) thrown up over the balcony. Oops. The only consolation is that I was still in a better state than Kel, who hadn’t even realised how bad I was in the process, so maybe I’ll just have to blame it on her. Sshhh.

30/9/13 – Dolphin day

This turned out to be one of the best days yet, even if it started quite rocky with a very early get-up to get out on the road. This was not helped by the fact that I’d had a migraine even earlier in the morning. We were on the road for about four hours to get to Panama City Beach. My meds hadn’t quite worn off by that point so I kept nearly nodding off in the van, but knew if I did I’d feel worse afterwards. We also had an issue with people forgetting the tray of cutlery at the last place. Oops! I felt guilty and I wasn’t even involved!

After checking into our next hotel we headed straight out to our dolphin tour that Derek had booked for us during the ride. It was fantastic! There was another group on board besides us and we all ended up talking to them. One lady laughed when I freaked out over a butterfly, clearly thinking I thought it was something else. When I explained that I was just scared of butterflies she was really apologetic for laughing, to which I said it was fine since I knew it was odd. I really do have some of the weirdest fears. The lady was actually there with her sister-in-law. They totally reminded me and Kel of Mom and Auntie Ann – you could hear them laughing a mile off!

The captain Gordon and general deckhand/assistant Brandon were both funny and real nice too. There were a few snorkel spots, the first of which was over a shipwreck! Of course I had my usual sea panic and then hating myself for it, because how awesome would it be to see an actual shipwreck?! The water was really black though and I was mollified when the others told me that you couldn’t really see it anyway. At the second spot I was trying to make myself be brave, and it was actually Brandon who motivated me into it. He told me there were no fish around the boat and where they would be, and that I could just stay by the boat if I was nervous. So I grabbed a snorkel and some flippers and in I went. I didn’t stray far from the boat at all and I ended up hyperventilating every time I put my face under (I know, it’s ridiculous) but I was still in there! First time in at least ten years. And Brandon was right – not a fish in sight. This obviously pleased me.

I chatted to Brandon a bit more on board. He’d asked if I liked sting rays, which I said I did, and he offered to take me over to see one on the one side of the boat. Very sweet (and was appreciated even more since he was pretty hot) but a little too much for me to take on! Got to spend more quality time with the girls on the boat though and we all ended up a bit delirious from the fun by the end of it. The boys had both opted out on the trip.

Brandon and one guy from the other group brought some wildlife aboard from their diving for us to check out. A puffer fish (which I missed), a sea urchin that we all had a feel off, and some kind of hermit crab. It didn’t stay out of its shell for very long, but it was pretty hilarious – it had really googly eyes. I was then admiring some seashells that they’d brought on board too. It turned out it was Brandon who’d found them. I was really taken with the sand dollar and he said I could keep it! It looks and feels like a cuttlefish, with a starfish-shaped image imprinted into it. It’s so pretty!

From there we then moved further out to try and find some dolphins… And we did. It was incredible! They were only small, but there was still quite a lot of them swimming round the area in small groups. Some of them even did a few jumps for us! Normally we would have been able to get in and swim with them at this point, but there were hundreds of jellyfish in the area. And I mean hundreds – it was like that scene from Finding Nemo. Robyn had already been stung by a small one in the first snorkel spot, so we didn’t want to try it. Instead we got to have a go at blowing a giant seashell like a horn, then Jayda got to dock the boat!

Girly group on the boat

Actually had a good amount of time to shower and get ready to go out this time. Got stuck with another burger for tea, because for some reason the places are always out of what I want. Food places are mean to me. I did have nicer sangria than the night before though. After that we went to a bar called Newbies. It was part regular music and part kareoke, and full of bikers. American measures are crazy too! They gave me a fair-sized glass with three quarters worth of vodka and then a splash of orange on the top. It only cost four bucks too! Derek left after one drink because he was driving, and Tanya’s throat was playing up so she went too.

The night was hilarious. Paula was totally on it again, so we had much amusement watching her. Some American kid sang Footloose on kareoke, which I was clearly happy about. All of us girls got to have a good dance too, including to the Cupid Shuffle (Americans get way more into it than we do!) Also got to talk to Adam more, which was nice since he’s generally the one we see the least of during the days. He even instigated the conversation too! He was also saying we should do another Walmart stop to get some bubbly for my birthday, which was super sweet!

We then got harrassed outside by a man called Kenny, who must have had a glasses fetish or something because he took a shine to both me and Paula. He kept making creepy noises and had no top teeth. He also pegged me as Adam’s wife for some reason and kept mentioning it, which was totally awkward. Then when our taxi turned up it was a limo! The driver even opened the door for us when we got back to the hotel and gave us all a hand out. Definitely don’t get that in England! All in all a great day AND night.

And the girly group in the club