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…

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…

27/9/16 -Let’s go to the mall

Lazy start of reading, playing my Disney game and getting ready. We decided we’d go shopping first, since Mom wanted to go to a mall – I told her we could only go if she pronounced it right, rather than ‘mal’, like she kept calling it – and then we’d hit either the beach or the pool. We went to the Coral something or other mall. I really hate shopping. Mom wanted to look at clothes and homeware stuff, so I occupied myself by getting some more notebooks and also a pair of happy little pineapple earrings. Not a bad result, but I was still bored within the first twenty minutes.

When we came out, it was starting to rain, so we braved a dash to the car and then went off in search of food. We ended up in a place called Miller’s Ale House. I asked for an Orange Crush cocktail and gave the server my driving license when he asked for ID. He took it off to the manager, came back and said that they couldn’t serve me because it’s an out of country license. What the hell? My license is obviously not fake and it clearly shows my birth date on there, showing that I’m turning twenty-seven in a few weeks and am definitely long past the legal drinking age requirement of twenty-one. So even though I’m way old enough and provided legit ID like they asked, they still wouldn’t serve me. What bollocks. I grudgingly had to have pop instead. It kinda rubbed it in more that the pop was also called Orange Crush – it just wasn’t alcohol. Come on, guys. I got ID’ed at plenty of places and none of them cared that my license wasn’t American.

For food, I had garlic chicken zingers over a plate of fries loaded with cheese, bacon and spring onion. It wasn’t overly successful. They still managed to mess up my order and gave me blue cheese dressing instead of the ranch I asked for – yuck! I then managed to drop one of the zingers on the floor, which Mom found hilarious and wanted me to try kicking it underneath my chair at the people behind us. My mother, ladies and gentlemen. Clearly misbehaving.

After lunch, we drove a little way down the road and then stopped at Dunkin’ Donuts, because Mom was craving. I had a caramel apple croissant donut. Quite nice. A little like a mix between a donut and an apple turnover. Though I have to say I still prefer Krispy Kremes. It was still raining by this point, so our pool/beach plan was out the window. With nothing else to really do – other than finding another mall, which I definitely wasn’t feeling – we went back to the room for a while. More reading, more Disney game, a Red Bull and another episode of Psych, as well as Skyping Kel.

After an hour or so, it had finally stopped raining, so me and Mom decided to madly get into our swimwear and go down to the pool anyway. It was very cloudy and everything was wet, but it was still perfectly warm enough to sit out in my bikini, if a little pointless when there was no hope of sun. I watched more Psych and read more before it started getting late and we conceded we may as well just go back to the room. I hit the drinks early to compensate for the lack of sunbathing before we very slowly got ready to go out.

We went to a restaurant just round the back of the pizza place called the Parrot Lounge. Another place with a really nice bar. I had a Parrot Ocean Breeze, which was mango rum, blue curacao and orange and pineapple juice. Really nice, even if it looked physically like swamp water. I didn’t fancy much from the menu, so I went for the supreme nachos that are supposedly a starter. My god, it was definitely a good decision. They were friggin’ huge and topped with cheese, chilli, sour cream and jalapenos. The salsa came on the side, which suited me to a tee since I don’t like salsa all that much. Despite the fact that there doesn’t seem to be much around here, I definitely approve of the places we have found.

Came back to the room after for more drinks, more Impractical Jokers, more reading and more bed. Y’know, the usual. Even better as it was one of the particularly hilarious episodes of Jokers with the corn maze. Night all.

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I promise there’s nachos in there somewhere. And yes, I’m aware I mostly post photos of food.

23/9/16 – We’re gonna need a bigger boat

Usual early up and get ready to get the rest of our stuff packed. Only this time I had to get Mom to try and help me put my hair into pigtails. That was fun, since Mom is nowhere near as perfectionist as Kel, which is what I want when it comes to my hair. Safe to say it took a few tries. We then loaded up the car and went off on our way further down the Keys. Once again, the drive was beautiful. Had to go across several long bridges and at a few points, the road narrowed out so much that we were driving the with the sea right on either side of us. Apparently one side if the Gulf of Mexico and the other is the Atlantic, but I’m rubbish at geography, so I couldn’t tell you for sure without Googling. Either way, the water was so incredibly still and flat that you could see the sky reflected in it to a point where you couldn’t tell where one left off and the other began.

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Now that’s scenery!

We stopped off at a Walgreen’s because Mom said that Auntie Lynne had requested us to bring back a specific toothpaste, of all things. I ended up having another mad shop when I found more DC stuff and bought a Harley Quinn makeup bag and lipstick, a mini Deadpool plushie and more Red Bull, of course. We then didn’t get much further down the road before stopping at an IHOP for brunch. Now this is what I’m talking about. I had to have my usual country omelette – ham, cheese, onion and has browns – with a side stack of pancakes and plenty of strawberry sauce. I also had a lemonade mixed with lime and mango syrup. Yum yum.

We made the rest of the drive uninterrupted down to our room in Key West. Another really cute place. Our ‘hotel’ building is like a small collection of massive houses with a pool and lots of front and side porches with swinging chairs on them. However, it’s also the first room where we haven’t got a fridge and we have a lot of drinks to chill. Thankfully, there was an ice machine out by the pool, so I did the first trip to fill up the ice bucket and then try to fit as many drinks in as possible. We had a quick settle into the room before going off to explore.

First off, I felt like I was in a Zelda game, because there were escaped chickens just randomly around on the streets – and some baby chickens, aahh. We headed on straight down towards the harbour. We walked past a pool party where a guy and girl were fully recreating the dance-off scene from White Chicks with Run DMC playing and everything. It was hysterical. Of course, technophobic me didn’t know how to find the video camera on my phone, so by the time I did start recording, they were just finishing. I need a tutorial for my phone, even after a month of having it.

We stopped off at the Key West Lime Shoppe for key lime pie and a lime slushie, mmm. Gotta have things where they originate from. We sat in a nice little courtyard with a koi pond. The shop itself was really cute. They did lots of lime flavoured sweets, sticks of rock, soaps, drink making kits… It helped that they were playing Red Solo Cup too. I sand along whilst Mom bought a proper, easy-use lime crusher so that we can make even better margaritas back home. We have our priorities straight. From there, we had a wander down the harbour, right along the waterfront. It didn’t have the same fishing village type feel as Key Largo, as it was much busier. Still totally welcome atmosphere though. Buzzing, but not crowded, not like poor new Bourbon Street.

We took great enjoyment in watching some very exotic fish along the edge of the harbour and that was where the excitement then came in. We saw more wrasse and Sergeant Majors, some electric blue wrasse-like fish, big fat jellyfish, a beautiful blue and yellow angelfish and some giant, giant tarpin. We saw a huge one lurking in the shallows and looking super evil before it disappeared under the dock. We were trying to point another one out to Mom, who couldn’t see as well, and then the show-off flashed all the silver on its side, right under the surface of the water. It was four foot long! But then whilst we were distracted waiting to see if it would surface again, Dad spotted a seven-foot nurse shark, right under our feet! Talk about seeing something exciting in the wild.

We headed back up one of the strips from there. Saw a Senor Frogs, which made me giggle as it makes me think of Impractical Jokers, as well as a shop that had a lurid pineapple design painted across the window that looked totally Psych-esque, as well as lots of real pineapples in the window. I went in all excited, but then they didn’t actually have anything pineapple themed that they sold. Boo the false advertising. On the way back to the hotel, we walked alongside a huge cemetery that was all built above the ground like Lafayette. It seems to be a real imitation of New Orleans here. They do Creole cuisine, have several bars named after Bourbon Street and some of them even do Hurricanes. Not sure why the similarities are there when the places aren’t even close.

We got back to shower and get ready. I broke out my last Mike’s Hard Lemonade that I’d managed to cool some in the ice bucket, which I then had to down on the way because the oldies suddenly put a speed on and were ready to go. We went to a nearby Peruvian restaurant called Inca’s. We really are getting around. Our server Jessica was so lovely and shared drunk sangria stories with us when we ordered a pitcher. For food, I had Peruvian styled fried rice, which was rice fried with chicken, spring onion and some kind of salty, soy tasting sauce. God, it was so good. I scarfed literally every single grain.

We all agreed none of us wanted to walk past the cemetery again in the dark, so we headed off towards one end of the town, which is actually the most southerly point of the states. However, when we realised how long of a walk it was, we changed our minds and hit a bar instead. Big mistake. The moment I walked in, it was very easy to tell that it was a smoking bar. Good god, it was disgusting. I hate the lack of smoking bans here. I had to breathe through my mouth the entire time I was in there, so I passed on having a drink as I wouldn’t be able to taste it. I actually went to stand outside for a while for some fresh air, but when the same middle-aged guy somehow found a way to walk past me three times and told me twice that I was “too cute to be out there by myself”, I swiftly decided to go back in and watch the oldies play pool and just go back to mouth-breathing. It was actually quite funny when Dad then ended up playing some crazy woman from Kentucky.

Came back to the room after that and did some more planning for the trip going forward. I then read some more Shock Wave and broke open the Seagrams before bed. The next move is afoot.

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The fake Psych shop that lied to me.

21/9/16 – To the beach

Up a little less early today. Much slower on getting ready, since Mom was looking up what we were going to do about the Everglades and the Keys. I had a Funyuns breakfast, did some reading and watched bits of Sahara for a while before getting all suncreamed up and ready to go. There was a little more of a breeze than yesterday, but it was still incredibly hot. I tried to tan up my back a bit, but the air was so close that I couldn’t lie on my front for long without feeling really uncomfortable.

Switched back onto my chair and did some reading instead. We saw a couple more manta rays in the sea. One of them was even bigger than the one we saw yesterday! They clearly like this section of the beach. After a while, we went for lunch at a Colombian place called Sabor Playa. God, I really am loving all this South American stuff. I had a chicken quesadilla, which was gorgeous and so, so cheesy. So cheesy that in the end, even I felt like I was having a cheese overload and I freaking love cheese. I asked for a lemon Snapple and because our server didn’t seem to have the best English, I ended up with some kind of apple ice tea. I normally don’t like ice tea, but it was actually really nice and refreshing and thankfully didn’t taste like tea at all.

Grabbed some drinks from Walgreen’s and had a few more hours on the beach after lunch. There was even more of a breeze this time, which was very welcome. Did more reading and then moved back onto my towel, partly to tan my back more and also because I’d already burnt all my front and lying on it meant it’d be protected from getting re-burnt. It also meant it wasn’t entirely comfortable, though I did manage to fall asleep for about an hour, so it clearly wasn’t too uncomfortable.

Came back to the apartment afterwards. Mom had more researching she wanted to do on the Keys, so I did yet more reading and playing my Disney game around showering. I even fit in a Mike’s Hard Lemonade amongst showering and getting ready. We then had another big leak from the washing machine – looks like they didn’t fix it properly after all, though maybe we shouldn’t have tempted fate by doing another wash. It was still crazy when we left the apartment. Normally, it cools at least a little by the evening, but it was still thirty degrees by eight o’clock.

We went to a Brazilian place that Dad had wanted to try called Cypo Café. Sadly, they only had wine and beer in the alcohol department, so I had to have a pineapple juice instead. Well, apparently it was pineapple juice. It was pineapple flavoured, but very synthetic and not at all juicy with lots of gritty sugar at the bottom. Bad Cypo Café. You can’t advertise this as delicious flavour. For my meal, I had grilled chicken breasts sauteed in garlic with mash and red beans over rice on the side. All of the sides were lovely, but the chicken was dry and very garlicky in some spots and then very plain in others. Mixed feelings really.

We went to a bar called Aromi after that, but either the fakey pineapple juice or something I ate didn’t agree with me, because I started to feel quite ill. I bypassed alcohol for the house water instead. You know I’m not myself if I’m drinking water, because I only ever do that if I have a bad head and have literally nothing else to hand or if I’m out and I’m already horrendously drunk but still have the sense to try and re-hydrate. The bar itself was pretty cool though. They had a cushion with Batman and Wonder Woman kissing on it, which I’m obviously gonna approve of.

We popped into Walgreen’s on the way back because I’d seen a super cute notebook I wanted to get – notebooks are absolutely my weakness for impulse buys, but hey, at least I always use them. I also got some more Funyuns for the start of the car travels tomorrow. I felt better after being back at the apartment; at least well enough to have a couple more of Mike’s Hard Lemonade. Spent the night watching When Weather Goes Viral. One of the meteorologists on there said that everyone has a little bit of weather geek in them and it’s completely true. Tornadoes in particularly have always fascinated me and it’s perversely interesting to watch storms go very wrong.

Pottered round doing a bit more packing in between watching the wonderful weather programme before bed, ready for the next move. First place in our itinerary that I’ve never been to before. Bring on the Keys!

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Holy guacamole, that’s good!