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Old 05-31-2009   #1 (permalink)
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Join Date: Aug 2004
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Eileen and Charlie at Shangri-La Caribe May 17-24

I'm finally getting my act together to create this trip report. It was a wonderful trip from beginning to end. Met so many lovely peeps and had such amazing experiences. I am going to copy a trip report style I've seen before and reserve the first several replies for the trip report. Stay tuned.

Prologue – The Plans and, Swine Flu? What Swine Flu?

The word Shangri-La refers to paradise, a permanently happy land, isolated from the outside world. And believe me, the Shangri-La Caribe Resort in north Playa del Carmen lives up to that description! As a bit of background, Charlie and I are celebrating our 25th anniversary this year, an accomplishment that we are both proud of, and we are planning for many more decades of happiness together.

In honor of this special anniversary year, we planned a trip for just the two of us to the most romantic and lovely beach resort we could find. We chose the Shangri-La, based on the rave reviews we have read, and on the knowledge that the hotel is under new management, and is planning to eventually convert the property into condos. We wanted to get the trip in before this wonderful place is gone for good.

We made our hotel reservations and booked our flights way back in late January/early February. We were beside ourselves with anticipation! Then the swine flu phenomenon struck. Yikes! Who needs this? The month preceding the trip was nerve wracking! We spent our time glued to every news source we could find, poring over this web site, the WHO and CDC sites and others, trying to determine how bad the situation was, and whether we were crazy for continuing to assume that our trip would go through as planned. Our friends, family, and co-workers gave us plenty of grief for persisting in our plans. What if we came back and spread the disease to them! We actually did briefly consider changing our destination…looked at Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Punta Cana, Bermuda. But in the end, we really WANTED to experience the Shangri-la, and nothing else would satisfy us. So we bit the bullet and stuck with our plan. And we are so glad we did. Because we ended up enjoying almost sole ownership of the little slice of heaven called Shangri-la! Of the 120 rooms, no more than 10% were occupied the entire time we were there. The service was fantastic. The beach: pristine sugar-white sand, and the most beautiful turquoise water I’ve seen.

Are we glad we did it? You betcha! So on with the trip report.
__________________
Eileen
2010 Barcelo Maya
2009 Shangri-La Caribe (Trip Report)

2008 Barcelo Maya Tropical/Colonial
2007 Surfside Beach, Myrtle Beach, and Charleston, SC and Washington DC USA
2006 Iberostar Tucan
2005 Iberostar Lindo
2004 Gala Resort

Last edited by Eileencc; 05-31-2009 at 01:00 PM..
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Old 05-31-2009   #2 (permalink)
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Sunday May 17 (Day 1)

Day 1



I’m not a huge fan of US Air, but if you want to fly out of Boston on a Sunday with Cancun as your destination, you are almost always going to end up on US Air. The swine flu wreaked havoc with the airlines, with many MANY carriers dropping and consolidating flights in the weeks around our trip. We were scheduled to leave Boston at 6am (Yikes, whose idea was that? ) on US Air. OMG, 6am??? We live about 40 minutes from the airport, and if we have to arrive 2.5 hours early for our flight, well, you do the math. Let’s just say that very little sleeping was done on Saturday night. Our son had a 7pm baseball game, and we hated to miss that, because we’d be missing a lot during our week away. Charlie’s parents would be staying at our house to supervise things, and I had created a 4-page master schedule of all the family activities to help my MIL keep track of school and sports, the puppy’s schedule, etc. I have lists for everything and I felt in pretty good control of the preparations, but somehow, I am still looking at the clock at midnight, and I’m still packing. We try to pack light, to keep both our bags under 50 lb. and both Charlie and I pack, unpack, and repack a number of things to keep the weight evenly distributed between our bags. Finally we lie down and set the alarm for 2:30 because our limo is picking us up at 3:30. We probably catch an hour or two of sleep. When the alarm goes off, I leap out of bed, thinking it’s the doorbell. When my heartbeat returns to normal, I jump into the shower and the longest day of my life begins in earnest.

Our driver, Gene, shows up at 3:23am, and he’s got a sweet ride. A super stretch limo.




Gene is a sweet man, and once he recovers from the hernia and back strain he gets from lifting my suitcase, the bags get popped into the trunk and we’re off.

Ah…we’re on our way to Playadise!




The scene at Logan is eerily quiet! The swine flu has definitely slowed the number of travelers heading to Cancun. We have already printed our boarding passes. We check our bags (48.5 pounds each! Sweet!) and proceed through security. Once through the gate we settle in to wait for our flight.




We board the flight right on time and almost immediately we’re in the air. OK, it’s 6am and reality is starting to kick in…I NEED SLEEP! Not to be…our seatmate on this leg of the flight is a chatterbox named Blaine who regales us with tales of the wedding she was just at that ended up with the groom beating on the bride at the reception and being tossed in jail. The bride went to the ER, and then to bail out the husband from jail. Weddings make me sentimental!

We have a connection in Charlotte, and I’m excited because our friend Kim (Silvergirl) is meeting us and flying the rest of the way to Playa with us. She has kept her plans on the DL because she wants to surprise some of our other Playa friends.


Kim is such a sweet and beautiful person. I am so looking forward to spend some quality time with her during this trip.

We’re seated in Row 21, and for future reference, on an Aerobus A321, this row is directly across from the lavatory. Charlie is seated on the aisle, about ten inches from the lav.




He shows me the song that is currently playing on his iPOD…”Shit Towne” by Live. How appropriate! It crosses my mind that it would be easy enough for us to sneak into the lav if we wanted to explore membership in the Mile High Club. Heehee!

Our flight to Playa is smooth and quiet and before we know it, we’re arriving in Cancun. I just love the view approaching the Cancun area...it is so picturesque.










Another eerily quiet scene. Almost no one in the airport. We scoot down to pick up our bags and go through Immigration. we run into another PI peep, Barb (equinenut) at baggage claim. We'll see her again later in the week. Here are Kim and Barb together.




The only excitement is when the drug-sniffing dogs zero in our Charlie’s carry-on bag, which is really a rolling portable cooler. Probably thought they smelled some food in there or something! The Federales ask him to unload the cooler, which he happily does. Nothing there for them to find and they send him on his way.

Out into the airport we go, and the competition for our attention is really fierce. Kim has already arranged a ride for us with Manuel, a lovely young taxi driver that she knows, and he’s there to meet us with his BIL’s truck, which is bigger than his little taxi and can accommodate all our stuff. Manuel graciously offers to drive us to Wal-Mart so that we can stock up on beer, booze, and munchies for the week.

We drop Kim at her condo (OMG what a beautiful place…the Royal Palms!) and then it’s off to our home for the week, the Shangri-La. Wow! What to say about the place. Heaven on earth is not being kind enough.

We’re shown to our room, a single-level palapa at the far end of the resort, inches from the beach. Not too shabby. I can get used to this lifestyle. We wolf down some snacks that we bought at Wal-Mart...



observe the ceremonial removal of the watch...





and then change and head out to explore our surroundings.






Happy Hour!

Is it possible to fall in love with a man you’ve just met? It’s probably not a good idea when you are on a trip to celebrate your 25th anniversary with your dear husband, but I have to say that I felt pure love/lust for Sergio, our bartender at the Shangri-La when he placed in front of me my first jumbo Mojito of the trip! He had me at the mint leaves! Every day from 5pm to 6pm at the Shangri-la, drinks are 2 for 1, or a jumbo sized drink for the price of a regular. OMG I am seriously in heaven! Do I sound like a broken record yet?

At happy hour, we meet a group of women who are traveling together and are on something like their 15th trip to the Shangr-la…they are sisters and cousins, and they are so much fun. Since they are leaving, they offer us their styrofoam cooler with all the booze they haven’t had time to finish. Someone gave it to them when they arrived, and we’ll definitely pay it forward when we leave. Alright…if you force us, we’ll take the booze!

After happy hour, we shower and change and head to the restaurant for dinner. Because of the health scare, the place is really at low occupancy, and because of that, many of the buildings are not being used this week. Normally, dinner is served in a restaurant behind the bar area, but this week, all meals will be served at the open air restaurant on the beach, a wonderful setting. The restaurant is empty except for us and the group of women, and the drinks are flowing. Many tequila shots and mojitos may have been consumed.
















Finally, the combination of no sleep, the rigors of the travel day, and lots of food and drink converged on us, and we drag ourselves to our room to crash, noticing that we can hear the sound of the waves from our bed. Oh yes, this is definitely paradise!


Last edited by Eileencc; 05-31-2009 at 02:20 PM..
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Old 05-31-2009   #3 (permalink)
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Monday May 18 (Day 2)

Day 2



Our first morning in paradise dawns, and we feel so refreshed. We have no idea how long we've slept, since there's no clock in the room, and I've locked my watch in the safe. We're on Mexico time. We hear voices and activity, and we peek outside and notice that we are very close to the dive shack. We don't like the idea of so much activity right outside our door, especially since we are at the very far end of the resort, farthest away from the restaurant and the main office of the hotel.

(This is our place.)




We decide that we'll look into whether we can move to another room, hopefully on the second floor, which would give us a much more panoramic view of the ocean.

Breakfast and dinner are included with the fee for our room, so we decide to go down and investigate the breakfast situation, in case we're close to the 10:30 closing time. In busier times, the breakfast at the Shangri-la is a big all-you-can-eat buffet with all sorts of fresh fruits, breads, omelettes, pancakes, etc. This week, due to the low occupancy, they've really scaled things back. It's strictly waiter service. They bring you a plate of fresh fruit, fresh OJ, coffee, your choice of breads, then you can order something off the limited menu (eggs, omelettes, french toast, pancakes, and a few Mexican specialities.)



My camera lens was a little fogged up here...












We found everything to be very fresh and tasty, and we ate there most of the time, because, after all, it was already paid for and there really was no reason to waste valuable beach time exploring too many breakfsat options. We were disappointed to miss out on the buffet that we had heard so much about though.

After breakfast we head over to the desk and ask about moving to a different room, but on the way over there, I hear a sweet voice calling out to me yelling "woohoo!!! I found you!!!" It's Kim (Silvergirl) and she looks exhausted. She says she's walked the beach from her condo up and down, looking for us! She wants to let us know she's plunked her gear at the Kool beach club and that Susie Q Roo is joining her this afternoon, so to be sure to come over. We also want to figure out some dinner plans because we know that Jami (Jamesblonde) is in town, and we absolutely must meet her during this trip! Also, the other surprise in the Penny (penelipee) is arriving later to stay with Kim for the week. How great to be here in paradise with so many of our favorite peeps in town! What a great vacation so far! We agree to try to get over Kool after we take care of our room assignment business.

When we ask about moving, the desk clerk gives us some story about "well, yes, we'll be sure to let you know if something opens up." On the way back to our room, we make a list of all the rooms that we'd like if they turn out to be available. I'm not gonna lie...not ONE of those second floor units was occupied, nor did they ever get occupied while we were there! Guess the desk clerk was too busy handling cancellations to check to see what he had available for us. We went back and asked for our favorite room, and after a bit of hemming and hawing, we got the room. The bell captain came down in a few minutes to help us move to "the penthouse" several doors away from where we were.







OK, NOW we're talking! Room 14B is THE room to request.





Notice the little "Don't Flush Stuff Down the Toilet" sign...struck fear in our hearts. Never had to deal with THAT before, but it really wasn't difficult, even if we DID forget every so often. But no catastrophes!




Second floor, sweeping panoramic view, palapa roof, nice deck. We are now officially happy campers!








We salute you, Mr. Rolling Cooler Cooler Roller...




We spend a little time unpacking and arranging our things in the room and then head out to our little slice of heaven. We take one of the many unoccupied palapas, the one right in front of our place. And for much of the day, it's like this. Lie on back, snooze, go in water, swim, play, lie in stomach, snooze, well you get the idea. The greatest sound is the waves, the birds, my husband snoozing beside me, and not one "Hey mom, can we...?" Life is good!








Seeing the almost complete emptiness of this lovely place makes me sad for those who depend on tourism for the livelihoods. I hope out loud that the tourists come back soon.

Around lunch time, we stroll down the beach toward Kool, and right away, we spot Kim and Susie. Some big storm clouds are threatening, so they are just leaving, so we agree to meet up with Kim later for dinner at La Tortuga, and with Susie later in the week. We stay at Kool for lunch.




I have the Klub Sandwich...yum!




And Charlie has the Shrimp Tacos...double yum!





Everything is great (good mojitos too), and we eat under the roof while it rains. By the time we're done, the sun is out again and we head back toward our beach...and just in time for Happy Hour! Hernan, our bartender tells us all about himself, and is very friendly. We meet another guest at the hotel, a young man who speaks no English, but manages to communicate that he works for a company that builds elevators for tall buildings. His company is bulding four or five tall buildings rights around here. Hmm...I don't really care for the sound of that. There are plenty of tall buildings under construction in this area already. The fact that the condo market has fallen apart shows in the fact that so many condo projects stand unfinished. At least one in every block in the northern part of playa. It makes me sad that these big monster projects are over-running small, quaint village type places such as the Shangri-la.

Also at Happy Hour, we meet two young women who work in the financial department for the company that owns Shangri-la. They are very friendly, buying us drinks, and are eager to learn our thoughts about the place. We urge them to bring back the message that they must not become condos! Who knows what will happen, but we had to get our votes in!

Dinner at El Bistro at La Tortuga

What fun! We taxi it to La Tortuga and are led inside to a table where our friends have already been seated: Kim, Penny, Jami, and Vickie (myhappyplace)!!! We have such a great dinner with them. Even though we've only met Kim once before, and have never met the others, we feel like we are with old friends!


(Is Charlie a lucky guy or what? What a table of beauties!)







I have a delicious Filet Mignon and Charlie has a mixed satay dish...and possibly a few alcoholic beverages are consumed among the group! I make a mental note to come back here again. It is a lovely place, a true oasis in its neighborhood. I try to meet Laura and Anna, the owner and her sister, well known on PI. But sadly, neither are there.

After dinner, we walk over to a few local watering holes, La Rana, The Beer Bucket, Zenzi, and The Dirty Martini Bar. In our travels we run into another of my favorites, Jez, who has gotten off work at Zenzi, Judy (Judy Blue Eyes) and Jason (PlayaCountryBoy), and we hang with them for a while at the Dirty Martini.





The mood at all these places is very somber tonight. It seems that a well-known local, Jimmy Brown has passed away today. We didn't know him, but it's still sad. We're still recovering from our crazy travel day, so we say our goodnights and cab it back to Shangri-la.

Last edited by Eileencc; 06-01-2009 at 08:50 PM..
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Old 05-31-2009   #4 (permalink)
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Tuesday May 19 (Day 3)

Day 3



Today is a lazy day in paradise!



We spend the day, sleeping in, having breakfast...








lying on the beach, snoozing by the beach pool...



and then by the other pool.



And, oh yeah, the hammock...do I look relaxed yet?




Honestly not much else to comment on. (Except maybe the utter lack of company on that gorgeous beach! Look at the empty chairs, the empty palapas, the empty expanses of pristine beach. Do you see why we were feeling like rock stars? It was like our own private exclusive resort.)













Charlie blames our lack of energy today on the fact that we’re still catching up on our lack of sleep on our travel day. Catching up, yes…Is it also possible that we might still have a few ounces of tequila in our bloodstreams? Mmm, yeah probably! That’s what vacations are all about right? We weren’t driving and we’re not hurting anyone, so what the heck! Charlie mentions that it’s been a while since he’s seen me consume as much alcohol as I did yesterday, and he’s amazed that I am not hung over. No, not hung over, just euphoric. I am not wasting any of this long awaited vacation being hung over!

We don’t feel like venturing off-campus for lunch, so we just chill at the resort restaurant and have some chicken quesadillas and chips and guacamole. Yummm! Didn't have the camera with me, so please accept my word...the food was terrific!

After lying around some more for the remainder of the day, we decide to have an early dinner at the hotel, and again, it’s very good. Home baked empanadas, beef and veggie soup, and baby back ribs so tender they fall right off the bone. Delicious!

And guess what? We had a dining companion tonight…but he didn’t eat much. Our regular table is by the open window, which is bordered by lush green hedges. Something moving to my left caught my eye and I nearly jumped out of my skin. Monster insect! Charlie calls over Juan Pan, our waiter for the evening (no English!) and Charlie points to the bug, hoping he’ll get rid of it. Juan Pan smiles knowingly, and says “La Cucaracha…” and walks away. I’m standing up now, ready to leave. I do NOT like bugs and especially not “los cucarachas!” Gross! Juan comes back with another lovely waiter, Marcos, and he quickly uses a napkin to dispose of the bug. Marcos, the Terminator! All the waiters are teasing Marcos for being a tough guy.

Well, that’s enough of that meal. We head out to meet up with our friends who are gathering at the Luna Blue for drinks. As we approach we see so many peeps from this board, all gathered in the street outside the Luna Blue: Kim, Jami, Bobster, Judy, Tony, Joe Colada, Andy and Jen , Rick (Babaloo), Kathy (Kathy.web) and Nicki (Lalala). As I look back over my 400+ pictures, I cannot believe I don't have a single picture from this entire evening! NOt even the cucaracha! It must have to do with my extreme state of relaxation at this point! I am so sorry that I missed so many photo ops (esp. with what happened a little later at Kim's place.)

It’s here at the LB that I order the most expensive drink of my life…a double shot of Havana Club Special rum on the rocks. $15! Yikes…I think that’s very overpriced. I liked it though. Thanks Andrea (actran) for turning me on to that! I check the price for the same drink at our hotel bar and it’s $8 for a double shot, so I’m thinking we might have been accidentally overcharged at the LB. Hereafter, I will keep it simple at Luna Blue! All in all, it’s been a good day.

I feel a little sad when Jami leaves, because she is leaving Playa tomorrow and it’s the last time we’ll see her on this trip. She’s one of those people that you meet and talk with for a while, and you just feel like you have known her your whole life. She is such a warm and gentle woman and she is still grieving the loss of her dear husband Kevin last year. I wish I had been able to spend more time with you Jami!

After Jami leaves, the whole group heads back to Kim’s nearby condo and there is nearly a disaster when a person who shall remain nameless (not Kim!!!) puts something in the microwave that flares up and catches fire! The condo fills with stinky smoke, and as soon as the group stops laughing at the person who started the problem, people leap into action, opening windows, scrubbing the microwave and cleaning up. Fortunately, the only loss is the leftover that are charcoal now! That excitement is our cue to leave and we grab a cab and head home. I resolve to get back to taking pictures on Day 4!

Wow! Great day and greater night!

Last edited by Eileencc; 06-02-2009 at 06:17 PM..
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Old 05-31-2009   #5 (permalink)
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Wednesday May 20 (Day 4)

Day 4



Are you tired of hearing the line…just another beautiful day in paradise? Honestly, I don’t think I will ever get tired of waking up in this wonderful place.














Today, something completely different. NOT! We doze on the beach, swim in the beautiful sea,








and today, we decide to take a walk for as far as we can walk to the south of the resort.

We walk by Mamitas beach club, and Kool beach club, where we see a group of the folks we partied with last night. We just chat for a few minutes and continue walking. We pass other beach clubs, Zenzi, Mosquito Beach (nice Erica and Mikey! I see why you like it there!), and we pass the huge sister hotels, The Royal and Gran Porto Real (I think.) The Royal has a large, nice beach. The Gran’s beach is not so nice. They had a big problem with erosion, and they have now build kind of a seawall made out of sandbags, which is not very attractive. As far as I can see, the Real’s beach is mostly coral, and there do not seem to be any entrance points to the water that would not be painful. We saw many people on the chairs at the Gran, but no one in the ocean there. I guess people walk around the use the Royal’s much nicer beach, and then go back to the Gran for drinks and food. I’d spring for the extra money for the Royal if possible.

Sorry, we didn’t have the camera on this walk, so I don’t have any pictures of this.

We stop for drink and some lunch at the Playa Maya. We’re low on cash, so we just order some nachos and shrimp tacos to share. The waiter brings shrimp tacos and chicken tacos, not the correct order, but the food is good, and we don’t complain.

While sitting at the Playa Maya, we’re fascinated by a group of people on the beach in front of us. We swear that the guy is Nascarduck from this forum, whom we have never met. We don’t know if he’s actually in town, and we’re too shy to go up to him. Nascarduck, was that you?

After we eat, we turn around and walk back to our beach. We’re wiped out from all that work! So we go back to the room to catch a nap and rest up for the evening. We’re excited because we’ve decided to try Manne’s Biergarten for dinner tonight.






Manne’s is well know to members of this board. Manne is from Germany and his place is known for its meats of all kinds. We missed Prime Rib night on Sunday night. We were too tired from traveling all day. Manne is behind the bar when we arrive and he comes over and chats with us while we’re seated at a long bench at one of the few inside tables.




I order bratwurst and spaetzle and Charlie orders the beef roulade. They are both out of this world!






Manne tells us he’s very much looking forward to going back to Germany for his one month vacation, but is also nervous about whether the Germans will accept him or be afraid of him because of the swine flu. Come on people! There’s no flu here!

A meal at Manne’s wouldn’t be complete without sampling Manne’s homemade tequila. He brings us each a shot “on the house.”






Have I mentioned that I am NOT a shot drinker?




Or let me rephrase that…before this trip I had never been a shot drinker.




I have since learned the joys of tequila, and while I would say I’m a lush now, I can sure appreciate a good shot! When Manne delivers our shots, I promptly spill mine all over myself. Good thing it’s not beer…tequila miraculously does not stain and leaves no smell!

We really enjoyed our meal at Manne’s. We hope Manne and Susie are enjoying their well deserved vacation!

After dinner, we wander down the street, toward fifth avenue, and we run into Kim, Penny, and Carole (CaroleLB) and her daughter Ayla, who are having dinner at Carboncito’s! I am so happy to meet Carole! She’s another one of those peeps I’ve always wanted to meet. She is such a sweetheart! And her saughter is beautiful! I am very disappointed that this brief encounter is the only time I will see Carole all this week! We must plan better and spend more quality time together next time, Carole!

From here, we just wander around the gift shops for a bit,





and stop in to La Rana to use the bathroom. (This is a better bathroom than the one at Manne’s…word to the wise! ) We run into Judy and Vickie at The Dirty Martini, and we chat a bit and keep moving…We are a little bit starved for some good old American sports, so we decide to go check out PG’s Sandbox, which is known for its TVs tuned to whatever sports are happening. We sit and watch a little of the Pirates-Nationals baseball game. The people in the stands are yawning, that’s how exciting this game is! It’s not the Red Sox, that’s for sure!

We look around the place and there are shrines to the man who died this week, Jimmy Brown. What a waste of a life. I wonder if he knows how many people who loved him that he left behind grieving.

We’re pretty worn out from our day and we grab a cab back to the hotel. I lean my head back and smile. I feel so relaxed and calm. I look down at my hands. It’s definitely a sign of my state of mind that my fingernails are growing! I can see them extending from the edges of my fingers now. I can’t say that most days of my life! I’m a little sunburned right now, but overall, not really in pain. I’m in a good place, with a big smile on my face.

Last edited by Eileencc; 06-02-2009 at 08:08 PM..
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Thursday May 21 (Day 5)

Day 5



This turns out to be one of my all around favorite vacation days ever. Akumal for snorkeling, followed by the Peep Meet at Bad.

We taxi to the colectivo stand, almost jump into the colectivo going toward Cancun (that would have been a rude awakening!), get straightened out by the traffic director, Akumal? This way! And we’re off for the 30-ish minute ride to Akumal.

If you’ve never taken the colectivo, you really should try it sometime. It’s the form of public transportation that a lot of the locals use to get to their jobs and do their errands. We’ve found the colectivo vans to be clean, air-conditioned, cheap, ($5 round trip to Tulum) and interesting. Also, much less scary than some of the taxi rides we’ve had. We always tend to meet someone with a story to tell. Today, a young gentleman gets on, and Charlie recognizes him from our stay at the Barcelo Maya last summer. He’s a waiter at the Mexican restaurant, Mariachi’s. Another guy gets on, and he seems to be moving. He places a big box and a TV on the floor beside Charlie. I guess his car broke down. I look at all the people as they get on and off and make up the stories of their lives in my head. Passes the time.

We are dropped off at the highway entrance to Akumal Bay, and we walk in about a half a mile to the entrance to the beach. We have been advised to snorkel from the beach here for free, rather than to pay the $7 entrance fee to Yal-Ku lagoon a little down the beach, and we’re really glad we take the advice. This beach is simply an amazing little gem. The prettiest water, lovely beach, dive shop, and Lol-Ha for lunch when we’re ready.

Here’s where I have to report my heartbreaking news. I have not a single picture from Akumal. We’re carrying a small backpack with our towels, sunscreen, and our stupid cheapo Wal-Mart underwater camera. NEVER AGAIN! We shot the whole roll of pictures, but really, of the few pics that came out, there’s really nothing there worth posting. Next trip, I am investing in underwater housing for my Canon camera. For now, I just have to rely on my vivid memory of the beauty of the place, the amazing range of sea life we saw (beautiful sea turtles, sting rays, and zillions of fish in every color you can imagine. There is a large natural reef a few hundred yards off the beach (maybe more) and if you snorkel out there, you see some amazing fish, coral, and underwater plant life. We were a little nervous going out to the reef at first, so we snorkeld for a while, came out to rest and bake on the beach a while, and then went back in , and this time out to the reef. I told Charlie that this is like swimming around in the world’s most beautiful aquarium. So much fun. Eventually, we feel hungry and we head back in to grab a late lunch at Lol-Ha. We order the coconut shrimp appetizer, and I have a chicken and chipotle wrap, and Charlie has the club sandwich. We lounge around, eating our lunch and just absorbing our stunning surroundings…I love it here. We resolve to come back here sometime with our kids, who love to snorkel.

After lunch, we have to pack up and leave because we have plans! Peep Meet tonight. The colectivo is waiting for us as we get out to the highway and before you know it, we’re back in town.

Bad Boyz Peep Meet

This evening of fun has already been well documented so, I’ll just put up my pictures. I’ll just say that Bad Boyz has become my new favorite place! What could be better than partying with your feet in the sand, listening to live music, surrounded by your friends! I can’t even tell you how much fun I had here!

Here are my shots!

Nasty Bastards, the house band. That girl was just someone in the crowd who got up and sang a few songs with them. Amazing voice!



Kathy (Kathy.web), proud owner of the little flask that got passed around out here!



Barb says she's hitting the wall here...it was great to meet you guys!



Guess who just got a new tattoo?



Yup...Andy!



The winning tickets? FYI, Lenny was a no-show tonight!















Possibly after a bit of alcohol consumption?



DEFINITELY after (more than) a bit of alcohol consumption!




Ever heard the song "Save a Horse Ride a Cowboy?" Well, it's the theme song of the Nasty Bastards, and every night while the song is being performed, some lucky guy gets forced down on all fours, where he is unceremoniously mounted and ridden by any lady in the crowd who feels the need! Wow! This night, there are two victims...both named Gary!








Woohoo! Ride'em cowboy!


Both Garys were the ultimate good sports!

By this time, I am ravenous! Haven't eaten since lunch, and have consumed a fair amount of alcohol, so GOTTA eat. Some of the others are heading for Carboncito's, but Charlie and I really aren't up for a sit-down dinner. We just decide to grab a couple of slices of pizza at Pizza Pazza. The funniest thing happened there too. The guy at the cash register refused to take the 100 peso bill that Charlie paid with. He thought it looked counterfeit. At this point, we're tired, hungry, and just want to eat. After trying to convince the guy that the money was in Charlie's supposedly waterproof inner pocket at Akumal, and got all wet, and maybe something happened to the bill there, Charlie eventually takes back the bill and gives him something else. People around us are looking at us like we're the worst criminals, trying to pass a bad bill. Charlie thinks that maybe it's not the bill that got wet today, but maybe he received it as change at Bad Boyz. In any case, we eat our pizza and it's SOOO good! Very good for absorbing alcohol too!

We grab a cab back and another fantastic vacation day comes to an end.


Last edited by Eileencc; 06-06-2009 at 09:24 AM..
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Old 05-31-2009   #7 (permalink)
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Friday May 22 (Day 6)

Day 6



Day 6

Breakfast at La Cueva del Chango (literally “The Cave of the Monkey”) today.






Very cute place with interesting décor, and more importantly, very good breakfast! It’s a jungle setting, with indoor and outdoor tables. Fresh squeezed juices of all kinds.





I had pineapple and Charlie had orange. Good food too. I had French toast with homemade plum marmalade and Charlie had an omelette. Guess I was too hungry to photograph the food.

The rest of this day is devoted to the serious business of swimming, tanning, and snoozing. It’s a picture perfect day.







Wow, where'd all those people come from!






Who wants to join me...right here...









We linger on the beach until it’s getting dark, then we hang at the room for a while, just chilling...



Life is good, eh?




Eventually, we decide to clean up and have dinner at the hotel.

View from the restaurant, looking out over the pool and lit up palm trees.



Dinner is New York steak, and it’s very good. After dinner, we head into town for what we think is the 1st Anniversary Party for the Beer Bucket. We get there, and no balloons, no Big Al, no Redneck Steve, and really, not too many people. We meet up with a fun group of people from Manhattan, Kansas, who are also there, looking for the party. Seems like we are off by one night. Oh well, we hang with our new friends upstairs overlooking the street for a while. The guys have really spruced the place up, I must admit. It seems much brighter and cleaner than ever before.

After a while, we drift away from the Beer Bucket and wander around, checking out places, looking for people we know. Seriously though? It is dead quiet. We find ourselves at the Blue Parrot.




The bouncer ushers us in from the street out to the beach where the fire dancers are about to go on. We’ve never seen the fire dancers so we decide to stay for the show. While we wait, we watch the crowd on the dance floor. It’s wild up there. There’s a crazy woman with a whistle and a bottle of something (tequila?) wandering through the crowd trying to pour directly from the bottle into people’s mouths. What? Hasn’t she heard about the flu? Not overly squeamish, but trust me, that bottle looks disgusting and we decline the shot when she comes to us! She looks at us like we’re nuts…

The fire dancers really put on a fantastic show. I don’t think my pics really captured the beauty of it, but here are a few.


Warmups...











On the way home, we see the beginning of a thunderstorm kicking up. Back at the hotel, we decide to sit under a palapa and watch the light show over the ocean. It is really cool...we stay there watching the entire sea get lit up with every flash of lightning. It's starting to rain, so we move the party up to our covered palapa deck and continue to watch. Charlie tries over and over to capture a shot of the ocean lit up by lightning, but alas, 20 shots of blackness later, we give it up and hit the sack, listening to the thunderstorm and the rain pelting our palapa roof. It's a relaxing and kinda romantic sound...


Last edited by Eileencc; 06-07-2009 at 11:59 AM..
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Saturday May 23 (Day 7)

Day 7



When we hit the beach today, we see the result of that last night’s thunderstorm…the crashing surf has carved a canyon out of our nice flat beach. What used to be a gentle slope from our place to the water has been replaced by a sand wall about 1.5 feet high. The beach is ever changing in this area, so I don’t think there will be lasting damage, but you can definitely see the impact a small storm can have on the coastline.

Looking to the south from the resort.



And to the north...






We really don’t do anything today except lie on the beach and conserve our energy. It’s our last full day in Playa and we have decided to grab every moment of beach time in this special place as we can.














We have the Peep Meet at Bad Boyz tonight, and we know people will arrive as early as 4pm, when the band goes on. We know we won’t be there that early. Don’t hate us, peeps. We finally show up at Bad Boyz at around 7:30pm, and the place is already rocking. We are immediately surrounded by people who had begun to think we weren’t coming. Who us? Miss our own party? No way! I’m so sorry that we missed meeting some of the peeps we had hoped to meet.











I’m also thrilled to meet Sand Flea (Cari) and her husband, Coy. We had corresponded prior to our vacation, and I sat with them at their table for a bit.




What a fun night…the dance floor is filled with new and old friends and many adult beverages are consumed! And, oh, what happened here?




When the music is finished, we wander over to the Beer Bucket. Charlie is still in search of “free stuff” in celebration of their year anniversary. This time, we find the party.



We haven’t eaten much today, so we’re starved. Charlie and I, Kim, Susie, and Jon head over to Carboncito’s for our last dinner in Playa. Oh my god…the food there is out of this world. We start with a funky thing called a Cheese Crisp…yumm! And the salsa dish with chips. Thanks Susie for ordering that extra side of pumpkin salsa. Delicious.



For our meal, we all order the same thing, on Kim’s advice, Shrimp Brochette.




(Note to self: never doubt Kim’s advice on menu selections. She is spot on!) The shrimp brochette is a delightful concoction that includes grilled shrimp, onions, peppers, bacon, and cheese, served with warm tortillas. I am SO happy! We are surrounded by some of our favorite Playa peeps (new and old) and having a wonderful meal. I am also SO sad because it’s our last night here.

Last edited by Eileencc; 12-22-2009 at 08:05 AM.. Reason: Removed two images
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Old 05-31-2009   #9 (permalink)
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Sunday May 24 (Day 8) Going Home Day

Day 8



We wake up feeling very sad today because it’s the worst day of any vacation. Leaving day!

We go for a long last walk on the beach, take a long swim. It will be our last dip in the Carribbean for who knows how long, and we try to imprint the feeling, the images in our brains.
























Then, slowly, very slowly, we head to the room, shower, pack up and have our last breakfast. We eat with our new friends Robert and Brittany.




They are from San Francisco, and we met them on our first day here, and have seen them on the beach all week. Really enjoyed talking with them at breakfast. They are interesting and fun people. We say good bye to our favorite trio of waiters who have given us tireless service this week.



After breakfast, the long travel day begins. Everything at Cancun airport goes without a hitch.




The medical staff pronounces us healthy, and therefore, we get to leave the country.








In fact, the only glitch we face happens when we arrive for our connecting flight in Charlotte. We have to retrieve our bags and recheck them. Charlie’s carry-on bag sets off the beeper, and we’re pulled to the side (or actually, he’s pulled to the side.) They see something suspicious in there. What could it be? Hmm…a cylindrical object…agh! I’m the guilty party. This morning, I took and empty water bottle and filled it with that sugar white sand from our beach, intending to make an onamental memory box later. Ooops…they take the bottle and X-ray it, shake it. I think they’re gonna make me dump that precious sand in a trash can, but eventually, they hand Charlie the bottle, and he looks at me, and rolls his eyes as if to say “next time, put it in your own luggage!”

So that’s our fantastic 25th anniversary trip to Playa. We had the best time we’ve ever had in Mexico, met many great new friends, reconnected with many old ones, experienced so many wonderful places, and generally had a stellar time. Thanks for allowing us to relive the trip one more time! It’s all permanently burned into our memory banks, so farewell to Mexico, but only for now…





The End

Last edited by Eileencc; 06-09-2009 at 09:33 PM..
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Old 05-31-2009   #10 (permalink)
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Yeah! Great start, Eileen!! Can't wait for more
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Old 05-31-2009   #11 (permalink)
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Thanks Sara! I love reliving the trip via writing the trip report. I am tired of writing for now, but I'll try to get another installment up later today. Gotta watch the Sox now!
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Old 05-31-2009   #12 (permalink)
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Nice Eileen! Must have been off season so to speak w/o a crowd? Lets see more pictures....................
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Old 05-31-2009   #13 (permalink)
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Great start, Eileen~!!!!

I love your intro pictures "Day 1" etc.
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Old 05-31-2009   #14 (permalink)
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I've been waiting for this!! Woo hoo! The Shangri La sounds wonderful. We were able to enjoy the beautiful beach in front when we stayed at Natz Ti Ha, but that view you had was to die for!!!
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Old 05-31-2009   #15 (permalink)
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Great start.......and I can't wait to hear more about Shangri La........

Thumbs up on your airport transport!!!!
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