Friday, June 10, 2011

Bienvenido a la Playa

For several months I had been on the prowl for a great summer vacation.  My requirements of the destination were that it be tropical, quiet, relaxing, and have great food.  While there were many vacation packages that were appealing, I was on the search for that really amazing deal that seemed too good to be true.  After pouring thru search results for cruises, all-inclusives, and beach homes, I was quickly becoming frustrated with the lack of "luxury meets bargain" vacations.  One evening, however, I was looking on Luxury Link (GREAT website - definitely check it out) and discovered an all-inclusive package for two to the Dreams Cancun Resort.  I've never been to Mexico, but all of the pictures looked beautiful and it seemed to fit all my criteria.  The reviews of the 5-star resort appeared to be mixed, but it seems as though everyone has the need to gripe about something, so I was up for taking the risk.  After submitting my last-minute bid in the auction and some nerve-wracking minutes waiting, the vacation was all mine!  Add in two round-trip tickets to Cancun, and my Mom and I were off to paradise!

We arrived in Cancun on a Monday afternoon and quickly made our way to Oceana - one of several oceanfront restaurants on the property.  The scenery was breathtaking and the frozen cocktails were just what we were craving.

From there we made our way to our oceanfront room to unpack and get settled.  Upon entering our room we were hit with heat and humidity.  Despite the A/C being set in the low 60s, the room was over 80 degrees and that, combined with the humidity, left us feeling miserable and damp very quickly.  Long story short, we spent hours waiting for the room to cool down, had several maintenance men attempt to fix the A/C, and finally at 10PM were changed to another room.  All would be well and good if the problems ended there, but no such luck.  The new room was a cold 78 degrees and equally as sticky.  Our attempts to sleep that night were miserable at best and we awoke in the morning a sticky hot mess.  Great way to start a vacation, right?!?  It crossed my mind on multiple occasions that first day that staying at home would have been more enjoyable.  Fortunately, after great persistence and numerous complaints, we arrived back to our room that afternoon to see the entire A/C unit broken into pieces outside and a new unit being installed.    The final result was a room that never got cooler than 75 degrees.  While that temperature would ordinarily be very comfortable in my own home, when combined with 100% humidity, was never exactly comfortable.  There's nothing better than taking a shower at night and then putting on "clean" PJs that are sticky and damp from the humidity!  The room itself was otherwise as expected and had a fabulous ocean view.
Interior of our room.  Note the clothes that I had washed and were hanging to dry - they hung there for 4 days and were still not dry when I packed them up to go home!

The view doesn't get any better than this.

We stayed in the Pyramid building on the left.
Our schedule was largely the same from day to day.  I was up by 6:00am each morning (thanks to the bright sun and loudest and most obnoxious blackbirds known to mankind) and took off to the gym.  I was in the last week of my key workouts leading up to this weekends race, so there was no time for slacking off.  The gym itself was an interesting experience - no A/C and no fans!  There were hours of suffering and gallons of sweat lost that week.  At least I got some humor out of the comments (Are you okay?  Do you need some water?) and crazy looks (Did you forget you're on vacation?) from the other guests who made the trek to the gym for their daily 15 minute stroll on the treadmill.  After the sufferfest and a quick shower it was breakfast time - my favorite meal of the day!  I'll save the details of the food for a second post, so stay tuned.  Then came the toughest part of the day, planting myself in a lounge chair to soak up the sun while alternating between reading, Sudoku puzzles, and sleeping.  Oh, and don't forget sending the beach boys to fetch frozen drinks!
Looking a little rough after hours in the sun and wind.  It's a tough life, but somebody has to enjoy it!

Sun, sand, and water.
We ventured off the property to do some shopping.  The first day it was to downtown Cancun and Mercado 28.  We were told the market was perfect for tourists and had any souvenir you could possibly want.  Our trip downtown was interesting to say the least.  Exiting the hotel zone and entering downtown Cancun was certainly a culture shock.  Poverty was abundant and the lifestyle was so completely opposite that which permeated the resorts just miles away.  Despite bartering for some pottery, we returned to the resort empty handed.  We took another adventure via boat to Isla Mujeris (just a few miles away) with hopes of better shopping and beautiful scenery.  The shopping, however, was much of the same and after wandering around for an hour in the blistering heat, we were more than ready to get back aboard the boat and find our way back to our beach chairs and daiquiris!
Me and Mom
In the late afternoons and evenings we enjoyed watching the dolphins in the resort's lagoon, being entertained by the men parading iguanas and parrots, and taking in a Mexican Fiesta on the beach.  

Anyone want this iguana put on there head so I can take a picture and charge you $20 for it?

My favorite night of the trip.  Great performances during the Mexican Fiesta.
The week came and went really quickly, and before we knew it we were enjoying our last afternoon in the sun and farewell cocktails.  Despite the room situation, I had a great time!  I was looking for rest, relaxation, and a tan, and I certainly enjoyed lots of that.  I have so many vacation destinations on my bucket list that I'm not sure I'll be back to Mexico anytime soon, but I'd definitely consider another visit in the future.
Ready to fly home.
A great mother-daughter vacation!!
Nearly half of the hundreds of pictures I took are of food, so up next I'll devote an entire post to our Cancun eats!

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