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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2/5/17 – Just a hunk-a hunk-a burning love

This time, we had a trauma just from getting up. The oldies knocked on for us for breakfast, but Kel hadn’t even got up, so they went on without us. When she did get up, she spotted something above the balcony doors, but we couldn’t figure out what it was. Whilst she was then getting changed in the bathroom, the thing suddenly an across the ceiling and I could see exactly what it was. It was a huge red spider, albeit one that had been through the wars as it only had five legs. The less legs didn’t make it any less scary. When it’s big enough for you to count how many legs from a distance and your eye sight is as bad as mine, it’s definitely cause to be scared. We had to wait for it to run enough down the wall so that we could reach it. Kel hit it with her flip flop (after turning into Lee Evans on the windup) and I then attacked it with hair spray to make sure it was dead. We make a good team.

We were suitably traumatised when we went down to breakfast and had to just sit for a little while with the oldies first, after filling them in. General breakfast stuff, as usual. We went back to the room afterwards for sun creaming and had another inspect of the smush on the floor, just to be sure. The crazy hot was on again, so I took to sunbathing on the sunbeds in the pool again. Still a bit hard on the ribs, but I was determined to get my back more tanned and this seemed like the most chill way to do it without melting. I finished off my Kinsey Millhone book and wrote another short story, as I’d already done one in the room before Kel got up and enlightened me on the spider trauma. They’re a real nice break away from big projects sometimes.

We went for lunch for the general stuffs and finally, finally, the mash was back to its amazingly creamy, whipped self. The holiday suddenly went from being all about the rice to all about the mash. After lunch, I popped back up to the room to get a new book. Next up was one of Kelley Armstrong’s ones. The first in the series was awful, but since I’d already been bought quite a few, I decided to try a couple more. Glad I did, because the follow-ups are far better. Kelley clearly improved a lot after the first flop. Went back down to the punishing heat, dodging in and out of the shade to start with before eventually just settling down in the sun, utilising the frozen margaritas to keep cool. Even wrote a little more of my main NaNoWriMo project before coming back to the room. Not bored with it yet!

Watched a bit of Clannad before shower time and then that was when I realised how sunburnt I was. I’d been wearing factor thirty all holiday and then just a fifteen on my back, since that didn’t see the sun whilst I was writing. Only I forgot I was still on fifteen when I decided to tan my back. I succeeded a little too much – I burnt the backs of my legs from the bottom, right up and onto my bum cheeks. This is Jesus getting me back for laughing at Mel when she burnt her bum in Greece. So sad. Needless to say I slathered in aftersun until I was literally slimy. Lovely.

We decided to go to the Mexican restaurant when we came down, since they had space available. They didn’t seem to mind about the sittings. Had the same taco roll, nachos, refried beans and beef tostadas as before. You really can’t beat authentic Mexican food. Followed that with chicken in green mole sauce. Green mole sauce turned out to taste very much like coriander and nothing else. It was quite nice though, even though I’m not usually a fan. Just in small doses. Not the huge dollops they piled on my chicken, most of which got pushed aside.

We spotted Daria, Danielle and Gelisa in the bar, so we decided to sit with them for a while for a catch up, since we hadn’t really seen them around the last several days. They’d been at the water park all day. We got the cocktails in and added one another on Facebook in time for the entertainment to start, because that’s what you do in the modern age. We had an Elvis show tonight, which I’d obviously been excited about, but it turned out to be a disappointment. The Elvis was only okay and although he did some of the classics, he also did some really odd song choices, like Bossa Nova. They had dancers on stage again and whereas last night, nobody could take their eyes off the Michael Jackson, this time, we all just watched the dancers. Says it all really. I think this Elvis was ready to put out to pasture. I was probably also a teeny bit more critical, because God, it hurt to sit down. Even more to get back up. Plastic seat cushions that stick to you really aren’t nice on burnt bottoms.

Came back up to the room after the usual JC wind down, this time accompanied by one hell of an aftersun application. I later learnt that I’d burnt some of the front of my legs too. Looks like I’ve gotta sleep on my side tonight and not move at all. One thing is for certain and that’s that I’m not wearing any shorts to sleep in tonight. Bottoms up!

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Capybara chilling in the shade. Which is what I should have done.

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!)

27/4/17 – Just a few mishaps

Latest get-up yet, at just after nine. Had to hurry a little to get ready as breakfast finishes at ten. At least that was the plan. The oldies had already gone down to eat, so we were still catching up. On the way over, we found a giant bearded dragon type lizard on the rocks in front of the lobby – had honestly thought he was a statue when we saw the shape of him the other day – so I stopped to take pictures of him. Just as I was walking away, I tripped up the kerb a little. Kel was busy laughing at me and then full on fell in a hole in the grass and twisted her ankle. Now that was definitely Jesus at work. I ran down to the breakfast hall to let the oldies know about the hold up. Dad took Kel a makeshift ice pack and then we helped her down to breakfast before it closed.

Dad came round with me when I was getting food and I had to pick out things that Kel would want for him to put on a plate. I got a cheese quesadilla, sauteed potatoes, bacon, frankfurtas and nachos for myself, followed by a pancake with strawberry syrup and a waffle quarter with Nutella. After breakfast, I helped Kel to find some sunbeds, then went back to the room to sun cream up, pack both our beach bags and take them down to the pool. Kel did her sun cream in the toilets.

Even though it was cloudy most of the day, it was still over thirty degrees and very humid. The sun would come out for brief spurts throughout the day and when it did, it was scorching hot. Had to have quite a few dips in the pool (and even more margaritas and strawberry daiquiris) to cope. I was finding it difficult to concentrate on writing in the heat, so I read more instead. Took great amusement in watching the aqua gym in the pool, mostly because of two young American guys who were getting far too into it, particularly when they had to do races of carrying each other bridal style. Very amusing.

We broke for lunch and I had the usual suspects. Mm nearly died when I accidentally flicked my fork across the table and thew lots of rice at Kel in the process. Oops. This kind of stuff happens to me, alright? Back out to the sun for more reading and attempts at writing. I fold my notebook in half when I’m writing, so I didn’t really want to rest it on my sweaty legs. Managed to get some pages done though. A bit later on, after more cocktails, me and Kel decided we wanted to try out the snack bar – probably because it was right behind us. Had some fries and some nachos with cheese sauce, mmm. Sadly, couldn’t sit by the pool with it, so had to rejoin the oldies after we’d eaten.

Came back up to the room after to shower and furiously write some more pages in between getting ready. I also tried to do myself a vodka and lemonade from the optics, but it was so strong that I barely drank any of it. In the fridge for later, methinks! Tea was pretty much the usual routine, followed by joining the bar area afterwards for some drinks and entertainment. Unfortunately, the entertainment was a bit tragic. It was a mariachi band, who didn’t look at all happy to be there and just kept going on and on. They’d announce the last song, then they’d just keep playing. They did it three times before we decided to give up and go back to the rooms.

Me and Kel were much happier fending for ourselves in the room and watched a bunch of Improv-a-Ganza clips on my iPod, particularly New Choice ones. God, I miss this show. Kel then watched some of James Corden’s show, whilst I half watched and half wrote before bed. It’s still weird that he’s so big over here. He’ll always be Smithy to us, but sadly, Americans would never get the pure comic genius of Gavin and Stacey.

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Big fat lizards are otherwise known as omens of falling over.