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.

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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.

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Consider me wonderstruck…