Join Date: Sep 2010
First Trip - Part #2 - Daisy and Markus Do Playa - Riu Playacar
This is Part two of a two-part trip report. To see how it all started you can read this thread:
Part 1 -First Trip to Mexico - Occidental Grand Xcaret
I might make some references to things mentioned at our first hotel, the OGX. So if something seems completely confusing and doesn't make sense, you will probably find the explaining context in Part One of this Narration.
Okay, When we last left off... Daisy and I were in a taxi cab driving away from the Occidental Grand Xcaret.
We were moving over to the Riu Playacar hotel for the last 3 days of our vacation in Mexico.
To be honest, My mood was quite against anything new and I was still hanging on to the old. I was beginning to form a righteous and prejudiced attitude, that said: Everything Occidental is great, everything Riu is gonna suck in comparison!
As we pulled into Playacar I found all kinds of evidence for my theory, the mind is a great filter, and my heart sank a little. Our driver was stopped at a gate and had to exchange his drivers license for a token . Behind the gate stretched a neatly thought-out gated community, complete with a golf course. The ticky-tacky houses had all the markings of my former life in Florida, which wasn't helping: the “make it look big”, non-descript status-architecture, the neatly maintained hedges and hired lawn maintenance with leaf-blowers. I couldn't stand it already.
The taxi floated across the immaculate pavement, slowing every 100 meters for a well concealed inverted Tope. Gigantic Hotels began to appear on either side of the road, big behemoths imitating the grandeur of Luis XIV (in my mind). Daisy was holding my hand nudging me now and then to cheer me up. She was putting her brave face on, but I knew we were both still big fans of our last hotel and it was hard to let go.
While reading trip reports of those lucky ones, who return to PDC again and again, I observed the same phenomenon. The descriptions are full of comparisons. Every other sentence seems to take notice of what was better last time, what's missing this time or simply how things have changed. I felt myself falling into the same trap.
”To keep your beginners mind, that is the most important thing.” Do everything as if for the first time. I have listened to Suzuki Roshi's famous lecture many times and I lecture my friends with well picked Zen blurbs even more often. I just wasn't in the mood to apply it to myself just yet.
While I was trying very hard inside to be a better sport, the Riu Playacar appeared on our right, beach side, nestled between two big palaces. The entrance, while still a luxurious structure, was not nearly as intimidating as its neighbors. We spilled out of the cab and I tried to muster an excited expression for Daisy, while she was frantically removing all the evidence from our luggage, which gave away that we had stayed in another hotel only minutes before.
Me: ”I don't think Hotels are like jealous lovers, honey. It's not like you need to pretend you never slept in another bed before.”
Daisy: “Hush now! Trust me, it's better!”
Me: ”Huh ???”
With that she ripped the offending Occidental Grand Xcaret A.I. Bracelet off my wrist.
With all the stickers removed from our luggage and our persons we entered our new hotel, pretending we had just come in from the airport (just-arrived is the new black). The lobby looked brand new and its color scheme was best described as fresh. You could associate a fruit flavor with every tint used (lime green, cherry red, lemon yellow, etc.). The floors were made from shiny tiles and the wrought iron garden furniture, strewn everywhere, sported textiles with dutch tulip patterns.
The staff rushed to great us, our luggage was promptly placed on a cart, then the cart's operator stepped patiently into the background to give us confidence to check in without any hurry. Three concierges were available.
The check in was quick, we were handed a map of the grounds, which included three other hotels, two of which had additional amenities available for our consumption. (Riu tequila, Riu Yucatan and Riu Lupita) We could eat, drink and use facilities in all of these hotels.
We were also presented with the room key, towel cards and an oddly shaped block of metal, which somehow had something to do with the safe and I was not supposed to loose it.
Then they strapped on our new Riu A.I. Bracelets. We were good to go.
“Alrighty then, lets see the room.” The cart operator checked with us for the room assigned and led us out of the lobby.
As we passed through the enormous opening in the back of the structure, bright sunlight overwhelmed my eyes. When an image slowly re-formed on my retina, I was looking down a straight path all the way to the beach (Daisy's Eldorado). Left and right to the path were six pastel-colored structures.
Memories of a conversation we had with someone the night before at “The Dirty Martini” came back to me:
“When I worked at the Riu, the colors always reminded me of an insane asylum. They said it was supposed to calm your mood. Remember what I said, when you get there!”
That last part was unnecessary, I remembered instantly.
Ours was the lighter of two pastel blue buildings. Everything was meticulously clean and not really objectionable, just a little too geometric. Given the chance, I would have had a few arguments with the architect, who placed the staircase in the very center of the building, so that every time I was going to my room it felt like a detour. But again, I told myself, I was just spoiled from the Occidental.
We were led to our room on the second floor. We tipped graciously, received a big smile and were given a quick tour of the habitacion (Spanish for hotel room).
Say what you want, but what this Hotel doesn't have in architectural smarts, it makes up for by thinking like a true spring breaker. The four bottles, mounted upside down on the wall, just did put smiles on our faces, no matter how grumpy we might have felt.
Equipped with spouts that measure out a perfect shot, the bottles of Tequila, Vodka, dark and white Rum clearly overwhelmed my interest in the standard features of the room. “If you are empty, just call this number, oh and in the fridge are beers, mixers and water. Just call, if it's not enough.” - that's about all I remembered from what we had been told about our room.
The fridge was fully stocked too. Water, beer and fruity drinks.
Finally alone in the room, I hugged and kissed Daisy, I continued by examining the closet space and cheered about a the massive ironing board (an impossible luxury in a San Francisco studio apartment). “ Look honey! Oh man, I wish we had brought all our clothes!”
Meanwhile Daisy was talking to the towel animal: “Look at you! Owwww, (squeal) How did they make you? I am looking at you and I still can't figure it out. Honey, how do they make these???”
I went on to walk around with a critical expression, denoting everything that didn't quite measure up to a comparison with the Occidental. This , however, was beginning to feel stupid, so I swallowed my last few observations before announcing them and opened the balcony door to smoke a first cigarette (always a good idea when grumpy).
Our balcony was a prime observation platform. In order to get anywhere, all the guest had to pass along the straight path below. So we both had a puff, while watching lots of Germans, Mexicans and Americans passing by.
There were folks in muscle-shirts, built like Mr. Universe, families with kids, hormonally excitable teenagers, outdoors-men & women with sun-burnt faces and deep furrows around eyes and mouth, people from just about all walks of life (with the disposable income to be able to afford a vacation, of course).
Compared to the Occidental, a single -I estimate - would have had a lot more fun and choices here. While this was not only a Party hotel (like the Riu Tequila (we'll get to that later)) it managed to strike an amazing balance between nutty and calm.
While I was pushing my cigarette butt out in the ashtray, I could see that Daisy was getting a little restless. She needed to see her beach. So we put our still wet bathing suites back on, and headed on out to explore (without sunscreen, causing me greatest concern).
Last edited by MarkusSF; 10-19-2010 at 12:53 PM..
Join Date: Sep 2010
The path, with the palm-lined beach at the end, led to the pool first. On both sides brightly colored palapas shadowed areas for food consumption and entertainment. In the middle a two-part pool meandered whimsically. At one end a huge fountain sprayed water from the mouths of bare-breasted mermaids, on the other end - quite separate - was a swim-up bar and volleyball net. On the very-very far side a one-foot shallow pool gave toddlers a safe swimming opportunity, without out the possibility of disturbing anyone easily annoyed.
Swim up bar...
I immediately saw a free introduction-to-Scuba class going on. Remembering how much I paid for my first scuba license (900.00 USD), I was wishing to have Daisy get a taste, but I conceded that 3 days are just not enough time for such ambitious activities. We had lots of things to accomplish.
So we settled for checking out the food stuffs. I think Daisy was just trying to hold the exhilarating tension between the moment and the first ooze of beach sand between her toes. We halfheartedly examined the offerings of Pizza, Salad, and Spaghetti at the snack bar, we got a little excited about the self-serve beer tabs and actual barrels of wine, then we had finally stalled enough.
Daisy gave me a big big smile. “Wanna see the beach now?” she asked. What a question, “Of course! “ I replied.
Daisy spread her arms as soon as the sand touched her naked feet, then she spun around like a fairy in ecstasy. She had been dreaming about this beach for months.
“We are here honey. We are finally here!” She broke into a sprint and was the first to touch the water. When I caught up she had her camera thoroughly trained on the water literally lapping the sand from between her toes.
The beach was “new”, meaning freshly dredged from somewhere else, so it hadn't yet acquired a natural slope and the drop to the waterline was not really “organic”. But to either side the white sand stretched as far as the eye could see.
“Isn't this wonderful? Isn't this just heaven? Can you believe we are actually here? Can you believe the blue-ness of the water?”. I didn't think she wanted an answer to any of those questions, so I just lifted her up and spun her around. (That always makes her say: "Look at how strong you are!". Always works.) We waded a little more through the water.
Time was not stopping for us, we had plans to see the Nasty Bastards tonight, so we postponed full-body immersion until the next day. I reckoned Daisy was here to have the sand sucked from under her feet anyways (rather than to set a new swimming record). I am more of a swimmer and floater ,but when she is happy, I am happy, so this was good enough for first contact.
We tracked back from the beach with big big smiles on our faces, we had now fully arrived at our new accommodation.
Back at the pool we washed the sand of our feet, put the flip-flops back on and for the first, observing a daily hotel ritual, I heard a strange sounding announcement, which I wouldn't forget for a long time “Next Nomber (heavy spanish accent)! Número siguiente!”
This was the mating call of all the Bingo fans. I was not sure what was being auctioned off for prices, but we certainly were not going to spend our time here playing Bingo. Everyone around the pool was having great time though and the way the MC pronounces “Next Nomber” was certainly worth a sound sample. I don't know how many times I would say “Next Nomber” over the next few days, but it always got a laugh from the in-the-know crowed. You will see what I mean, should you ever hear it.
Daisy nudged me slightly and asked, pointing at the Bingo-crier, ”You think that is Chuey?”.
I knew what she meant. In her extensive research, before picking the hotels, she had run across a big following of this mysterious Riu crowd-animator named Chuey. Girls from all over the planet had seemed utterly smitten with this Latin Lover. So of course one was curious to see, what it was all about. I took a quick look, no pictures had been identified on the web, I shrugged and said “I don't think so.”, purely basing my reaction on gut instinct. “For now it shall have to remain a mystery, Babe. We got to get a move on.” So for now it was back to the room.
Daisy wanted me to head on straight for the reception desk and ask for a mattress pad as the beds were indeed as hard as reviews of the hotel had proclaimed (I loved it, she certainly did not!). So I was heading on down there, while she got herself party ready.
After the reception desk I popped into the little kiosk in the lobby. I needed needle and thread to fix my hemp-cloth flip flops.
The attendant was reading a book and she was clearly less excited about the business, then she was upset about the interruption (a trend that worsened over the next days, as I stopped in for cigarettes now and then). I had looked up the Spanish before, but judging by the annoyed expression of the shop-keeper it didn't come out quite right:”Tienes un Aguja?” I try.
Frowning Shop keeper.
I tried again:”Aguja.....agujo..agujes!” I made a sewing motion on my pant leg. Finally she got it, not right away, but after a lot of pantomime. She grabbed the desired object from behind the counter.
“Neccesito esa por mi Zapatas!” I explained, very satisfied with my excellent Spanish and I reached for the sewing kit.
She shook here head and immediately put the sewing kit back behind the counter. Huh??
She explained how she only had small needles and how I needed a large, big, fat needle for a shoe.
The whole time I was thinking: “Geez Lady, just give me the sewing kit PLEASE!”
She flat out refused, while she gesticulated wildly like a airport signal-man parking an airplane.
Fine, I asked for some cigarettes. She complied this time. Then I asked for small change. I wanted desperately to have tip money for the hotel staff, but only had 100 Peso notes. This she refused too.
I headed back to my room, (at least having handled the matter of the mattress to satisfaction at the front desk.) Up on the second floor of the baby blue hallway Daisy awaited me with a big smile, two cans of beer cracked open and two shots of Tequila. I wanted to complain about the store attended, but didn't get a chance, utterly disarmed by her happy smile. The shot went down smoothly and had unexpected properties in the tropical heat. “ Damn the Tequila woke me up. I feel like a thousand bucks!”, I observed while hopping around the bed with one leg in my shorts.
Dressed to kill, Daisy with a pretty skirt, me with my “Beer is Good”-T-shirt, we boarded another cab. We disembarked on Avenida diez y Calle diez, not nearly where we had instructed the cab-driver to drop us of, but who cares.
We were finally on our way to see the Nasty Bastards at Bad Boys Beach Bar...
(to be continued)
Last edited by MarkusSF; 10-19-2010 at 12:59 PM..
way into it
Join Date: Oct 2010
Wow, is this today?? Man must be nice to be in Playa.Although, October is not the time I want to be there, I prefer January and February, when it is cooooold outside here and we need the heat Mexico. I planed on staying in these hotels last year, but ended up at the Grand Sirenis, this is now home base!! Have fun and enjoy the rest of your trip!
Join Date: Sep 2010
I am really flattered. The last trip report I wrote, was a letter to a love interest at age 12. She (11) wrote back that she "thinks" she might "love" me, but that my letter was so incredibly boring, that she never wanted to read another one like it. -led to->
Join Date: Sep 2010
The coolest think about this is how with all you awesome people reading and keeping me motivated it feels like this vacation isn't really over yet. (I wonder what it will be like to read this in 20 years).
Thank you all! More to come.