ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, DFW Metroplex, Road Trips, Shopping, TRAVEL

A Member of the Press

Jane Sadek goes to the Dallas Art Fair
A Gallery at the Dallas Art Fair

TRAVEL HERE: A BLOGGER IN MEDIA HEAVEN

While the rest of the world gets rich and famous with social media, I blog on in anonymity – at least for the most part.  I’m famous among my real life friends and on Facebook among my followers, but beyond that it does me little good.  However, anyone driven to write, the way I am, needs a place to express themselves, so I blog on.  However, from time to time my blogging does get me a few perks.  That happened last week.

Dallas Art Fair

If you’ve been paying attention, then you know this is my third post about 2019’s Dallas Art Fair.  If not, some details about the main event are here and I also attended an introductory event I described on Monday. Last Thursday morning I reported to the FIG (Fashion Industry Gallery) for the Opening Press Conference. There among other media types, I perused the event’s art offerings and listened to a series of speeches by the designated dignitaries.

One of my favorite parts of the day was wandering around the space with a tag identifying me as “MEDIA.”  My thoughts about the media are not always congratulatory, but it’s nice when a lowly blogger like me can be of service.

Getting There

It meant skipping an MLS meeting, but I felt that was a small price to pay to attend the event as media.  Deciding what to wear was a bit of a challenge.  I’d been disappointed in my fellow females’ fashion choices the evening before, but encouraged by the men’s sartorial offerings, I pulled out a recent purchase, a long blouse from one of my favorite designers, to pair with leggings and some lacy wedge sandals.

My next challenge was making my way from my almost-rural home in Heath through the morning traffic to Downtown Dallas.  That went better than I anticipated, but my hope of parking in the DMA parking lot was dashed.  They don’t allow public parking until 10.  I parked in the First Baptist lot, so all I had to do was cross the street to The Fashion Industry Gallery at 1807 Ross Avenue.

I was not completely ignorant of the FIG’s existence and I knew it was in close proximity to the DMA, I just had no idea it was right there, nestled between the DMA and the Fairmont.  The most prominent feature on the building where I crossed the street was a restaurant.  My first guess at a possible entry was a false lead, but I saw someone who looked like they knew where they were going, so I followed.  Voila, I had arrived.

I have a sneaky feeling that anyone with chutzpah and a knowledge of the event could have gotten a media pass.  I saw them selling tickets at one kiosk, so I went up to the next one, where the lady asked, “Media?”  I said, “Jane Sadek, local blogger.”  She handed me my anonymous media pass, but it was the key to a weekend of art, so I was glad to get it –  in spite of the casual offering underlining I was certainly no VIP.

Dallas Art Fair
Shoe Art at Dallas Art Fair

Inside the Galleries

Then came the pay off for missing the meeting, fighting the traffic and searching out a parking spot – I was in. I had about a half hour before the press conference would begin, so I wandered through the galleries.  I’m never sure what to expect from Contemporary Art, but I was happy to discover most of what was exhibited was at least interesting.  I found a little of everything, from robots to hand woven rugs.  I also found craftsmanship.  These weren’t just ideas thrown together for their shock factor.  These were works of love, executed with skill and attention to detail.  To me, that’s art.

Satisfied the exhibit was worth part of my weekend, I planned to return with fellow art lovers in tow.  It was time to make my way to the press conference – which, by the way, was 10 minutes late.  Someone had overlooked tagging the first piece of art in the gallery which would provide the backdrop behind the podium.

Shoes at Dallas Art Fair
More shoe art!

As I surveyed the room I realized the female sector of the population had resumed their domination of the fashion scene, in contrast to the previous evening’s disappointing turn out.  Now, the guys were back to boring and the women were strutting their stuff.  I giggled a bit to myself over the “Dallas in Spring” vibe.  One woman in a fringed-wool, hounds-tooth micro-miniskirt, paired with turtleneck sweater, teetered over high rise booties.  She chatted up a friend in a frilly sundresses over suede boots.  A pair of Asian women, speaking a language I didn’t recognize, wore voluminous layers I couldn’t quite identify above comfortable walking shoes.  Then the denim skirt with the shell anklet over Adidas joined them.  I couldn’t resit taking a few pictures to respond to the rod iron shoes I’d seen in a gallery on the floor above.

A series of dignitaries made speeches at the podium, that’s when I learned I’d seen something cooler than I even realized the evening before. The whole thing is dedicated to the idea of pop-ups and a permanent home for the Dallas Art Fair.  With that kind of synergy, I bet it will be a very interesting spot, so put River Bend on you list of things to check out.

On the evening before, I’d wondered about the significance of choosing 214 as the name of a gallery.  It certainly wasn’t the suite number.  Like the characters in The Purloined Letter, I’d overlooked the obvious – it’s the Dallas area code.  Apparently in international art circles it is a familiar number, one to be proud of.  That cheered me.

Then I was momentarily taken back to my previous disappointment with idea-over-craft art.  As they announced the pieces which the DMA would purchase from the Fair, among the others was an odd, idea-driven installation which I’d seen at 214.  To me it looked like a room which was being set up for a presentation of some kind, but the workers weren’t finished.  Instead various tripods filled the space and the walls had random video showing on the screens.   I peered through the glass plates attached to the tripods, but nothing was gorgeous.

I shook off my disappointment and congratulated the artist in my head for capturing the curator’s attention.  Everyone doesn’t have to like something for it to be art.  Thankfully, the DMA had purse-strings long enough to wrap around other pieces and many of them were enchanting, even to me.

So, I hope you made it to the event.  Thanks to the Dallas Art Fair for expanding my horizons and giving me the opportunity to share the Fair with my friends.

Accommodations, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, International, Road Trips, TRAVEL

Aw, Go Fly a Kite!

TRAVEL THERE: SAND, WATER AND A BRIGHT BLUE SKY

So, pretty much anytime Bill and I head to a destination with a beach, I say, “Bill, don’t forget to pack your kite.”  His kite is a Windsurf Trainer he picked up when we lived in Pismo Beach, CA.  Flying kites was a popular pastime in Pismo and after destroying a more conventional kite, Bill graduated to the large training kite.  On some trips the wind is too strong or not strong enough or there’s really not enough room to fly the kite, but in Cancun, we flew our kite.

A Two Person Job

If the wind is forceful enough to fly the huge kite, then the flier is going to need someone to help them get it into the air.  When we flew the kite almost weekly in Pismo,  we had the logistics down pat and could get the kite up in a very short period of time.

In Cancun, we were rusty, so it took a little longer than usual for us to get the kite into the air.  We had one false start and then fumbled around so much, a hotel employee pitched in to help.  Bill was very frustrated with our efforts until he realized while we’d been fumbling around, the wind had changed direction.  We hadn’t been helping him wrong, we were just in the wrong place once the wind changed.

Bill was almost too frustrated to continue, but as we folded up our gear, a breath of wind teased the kite.  Bill speculated that just a little further down the beach might provide a better wind, because instead of tall hotels, the beach was lined with two-story condos.

Up in the Air

We trudged further down the beach and fairly soon the kite was in the air.  I’m so glad we gave it one more try.  Bill loves flying the kite, but not as much as I enjoy him doing one of the few truly carefree things he likes to do.  Bill has many things he enjoys.  Golf, for instance, but he’s serious about his game, so he’s not carefree.  When his kite goes up, Bill is transformed into this joyful boy I especially adore.  Oh how I wish he enjoyed more things with such gusto and abandon.

We kept the kite in the air for quite a long time.  We didn’t get the kind of audiences we usually end up with in American venues, but the hotel employee assigned to beach duty enjoyed our antics, as did a lady who stopped to video us.  She gave me the idea to get a video of Bill as he handled the kite.  I hope you like it!

Coming Back Down

Flying the kite is the fun part.  Getting it in the air and packing it up to go represent the price you pay for fun.  While the kite was in the air, Bill tried, as he has before, to get me to pilot the kite.  Just as in previous attempts, all I did was down the kite.  The fun was over.  It was Margarita time.  We packed up and headed back to the Seadust.

As we climbed the stairs to the resort’s main pool, I stopped by the bar for a Margarita, while Bill found a pair of chaise lounges.  The water was great and we had fun.  Once out, I sipped on my Margarita and Bill opted for a tequila shot with a beer.

We had one more area we wanted to enjoy before the sun was down. so we headed off to adult pool we’d found earlier in the day.  Come back next week and take a dip with us.

Accommodations, DESTINATIONS, International, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, TRAVEL

Back to the Seadust Buffet

The Infamous Buffet

TRAVEL THERE: THE RUDEST WOMAN IN MEXICO

As If We Didn’t Already Hate the Buffet

So why did we hate the Seadust buffet?  Well, it had a myriad of choices for every meal, but somehow few of them were anything we were interested in.  What’s more when we finally did pick out something to eat, it was at best mediocre.  The way some people filled up there plates, cleaned them and then went back for more and more and more, we know there were people who like the food, but we didn’t.

We also resented the tiny plastic cups provided for cold beverages – we’re talking juice glasses.  By the time you got a little ice, there was barely room for three good sups of soda.  There was also a tap for beer, but the glass barely held the head of foam, much less providing enough room for a reasonable serving.

Locating a salt shaker was a true challenge and pepper?  HA!  What pepper!

In an effort to be efficient, they whipped up your plate the moment you hesitated in the consumption of your food.  Therefore, one of us had to stay at the table at all times or the food we’d gone to so much trouble to pick out would be picked up.  Since you had to keep going back and forth to get more soda or beer, we didn’t spend much time actually eating together.

How Rude!

The final nail in the buffet coffin was the grill chef at this particular meal.  I decided to try a hamburger, freshly cooked at the grill.  At the grill window, there was a selection of entrees in pans from which to serve yourself, as well as a small refrigerated case with options you could order.

The grill chef was involved with grilling what looked like a couple of large pork loins, so I waited patiently, hoping I could catch her eye.  As I waited, I looked at the small cards defining the offerings in the case, which were in both Spanish and English.  In case you didn’t know, “hamburguesa” is Spanish for “hamburger” and “hot dog” is Spanish for “hot dog.” 

You know how it is when someone is trying to ignore you and hoping you will go away.  I can’t say that I blame the woman.  It’s not like she was the only outlet for food in the room and she was busy flipping the pork.  However, I really wanted that burger.

When she finally gave up and darted a glance at me, I smiled and said, “Hamburger, please?”  A fire flew into her eyes and disgust landed on her pursed lips.  “Espanol,” she demanded with a sneer.  I’m sure I looked a bit gobsmacked as I glanced at the card in the case to remind myself of the syllable which would make my request Spanish rather than English.  I made an effort to wrap my mouth around the Spanish, which she responded to with a snarky correction of my pitiful pronunciation.  She was absolutely gleeful to have the opportunity to do that.

I want you to know this rude lady was the only person who treated me this way throughout the entire trip.  I possess a very pitiful Spanish vocabulary for someone who lives in Texas and passed two semesters of high school Spanish.  I’m pretty good with signage and menus, but conversationally I’m a mess.  Still, I try to communicate in Spanish as much as I can.  I ask for cerveza and mantiquilla, instead of beer and butter.  I say por favor and gracias, instead of your welcome and thank you.  I greet people with hola que tal and if they respond with bueno y tu, then I struggle to come up with a word like magnifico.

This woman thought she was having one up on a stupid Americano.  She didn’t realize I was a blogger with over 2500 followers on various social sites or over 200,000 readers on Trip Advisor.  If you work in the public eye, you don’t know either.  That pain in the neck you’re waiting on might just be a social media maven who can ruin your online reputation.  As it is, I won’t be giving Trip Advisor a glowing report about the Seadust, but I’m also not going pick out this lady and make a big deal about her.  Who knows?  Maybe she was just having a bad day and too many of her other fellow employees worked really hard to make me have a good time.

Besides, I was about to go out to the beach and have a good time.  Come along with me next week.

Accommodations, DESTINATIONS, International, Road Trips, TRAVEL

Saved by the Balcony

Seadust’s Adult Only Pools

TRAVEL THERE: FINALLY, THE SEADUST DOES US RIGHT

After our breakfast, we explored the hotel a little more, discovering a few spots we’d missed before like the adult pool and the ball courts.  After that we returned to the balcony.

Our Favorite Spot

I’ve said it before, but I will say it again.  Our balcony was our very favorite thing about the Seadust.  We stayed out on the balcony for several hours.  I continued to read my book and Bill browsed the internet with his tablet.

I can’t tell you how much we enjoyed our time there, silently sharing some time of relaxation.  Occasionally Bill would show me some nugget the internet had served up.  There would be movement from time to time, shifting our chaise lounges to avoid the direct sun, stepping in the room to get an item or just putting down what we were reading and standing at the railing.

Eventually, our breakfast faded away and it was time to find our lunch – even though that meant going back to the Buffet.  We made a list of the things we wanted to do else where in the resort.

  • visit the gym
  • fly our kite
  • drink margaritas
  • try out the adult pool

A Quick Visit to the Gym

Before we started eating again, Bill wanted to try out the gym.  We’d taken a self-directed tour of the facilities before.  The gym is on a lower floor near the spa.  The entry area is beautiful and serene.  The spa looked quite inviting, but since I can go to a spa at home, I don’t use my vacation dollars there.

The gym was very clean and well-equipped.  A nice attendant welcomed up and offered to help if we needed him.  We went on into the gym and made ourselves at home.

I was wearing flip-flops, but didn’t intend to workout in them.  As I dug in my bag for my closed shoes, the attendant popped by to let me know I was not allowed to workout in flip flops.  Well, duh!  That’s the reason I’m over here in the corner digging in my bag, but thank you for sharing this very obvious information.  I guess they do have people who think wearing flip flops is appropriate for the gym.  I’ve seen people who thought they were appropriate for funerals, too.

Bill was already on the weight machines when I climbed aboard a stationary bike for some cardio.  I was on vacation, so I didn’t dial in a vigorous workout, but after 10 minutes I realized it was a little warm in the gym to workout in comfort.  After another 5 minutes I was off the bike and ran into Bill, who was coming to tell me he was experiencing the same difficulty.

We’d put it off as long as we could.  We were going to have to go back to the buffet.  It was that or the outdoor snack bar at the pool.  We’d watched other people fight off the aggressive gulls and curious pigeons.  So we went to the buffet – again.  This time it was a little more of an adventure than it had been before.  Come back next week and see what I mean.

Accommodations, DESTINATIONS, International, Road Trips, TRAVEL, WRITING

The Beauty of Our Balcony

TRAVEL THERE: AN EARLY MORNING REVERIE 

Our third day at the Seadust was devoted to enjoying whatever pleasures we could derive from the resort.  The food was horrid and while the recent renovation of the property had been adequate, it didn’t give us the appropriate quality to feel as if we were in a luxury resort.  So what did we do?

First Up!

I woke up early, which is SOP in this family.  I wasn’t quite up to visiting the gym, so I went out to the balcony with my travel journal and my book.  First, I caught up in the journal.  Looking over what I wrote, I see little that hints at the parallels I was beginning to draw between the ancient Mayan culture and our modern state of  devolving affairs.

After getting the journal up to date, I opened up my book and dove into the story.  The narrative was focused on bullfighting at this point.  We’d learned who the characters were and why we were there, but the story line seemed overly devoted to the matadors and their bulls.  I began to wonder if I should have chosen another book to read, which could have given me more insight into the Mayan culture.

I confess the bullfighting story did not hold my attention very well.  I constantly found myself staring off into the beautiful scenery just outside my balcony.  In the serenity I went through my prayer list, thinking of those in need, those I love and some friends who were vacationing together in another part of the Caribbean.  I’d pick up reading where I had left off, but soon I’d been soaking in the green of the palm trees and the blue of the water.

Mr. Lag Abed

Bill slept very late and after a short visit with me, decided to go back to bed for another nap.  I didn’t mind.  I returned to the balcony and continued dividing my time between the outstanding view and the book which was slowly turning its focus to the time period I was most interested in.

Michener rarely tells a tale with gripping speed, but instead slowly binds you in his tale like a python, slipping around an intended victim.  His reputation gets you within proximity and you snuggle up with the book to see what it is like.  You are aware of slowly changing positions, but you wonder why the snake has the reputation it does for devastating its victims.  Then all of a sudden it is too late.  You’d only been reading the book as a distraction and now you have to finish it to find out what happens to these people, who you now care very much about.

In spite of my interest in the book, my stomach decided it was time to have breakfast.  I roused Bill and suggested we use our breakfast time to plan our day.  Then we could return to the room to dress appropriately and gather up what we might need.

Breakfast of Victims

The only restaurant opened for breakfast was the buffet, so like the sacrificial victims in Chichen Itza we went where we were forced to go.  I hoped over breakfast I’d convince Bill to visit the Mayan museum and archaeological site right next to our hotel, but Bill had put up with all the Mayans he intended to.  Today he was going to get his money’s worth out of the resort.  Our accommodations might have been comped, but we’d paid the airfare, a small daily fee for tips and for the excursion to Chichen Itza.  So far, he felt the account wasn’t quite even and he was going to do something about that.

So after breaking our fast in one of our least favorite places in Cancun, we headed back to our room.  Come back next week and see how we spent the day.

 

Accommodations, DESTINATIONS, International, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, TRAVEL

This Is an Italian Restaurant?

TRAVEL THERE: SEADUST’S LIGHTHOUSE RESTAURANT

Hungry, thirsty and exhausted we had no desire to visit the room before having dinner.  Seadust’s website promised an Italian restaurant with a focus on seafood and that sounded good to us, but we couldn’t remember the name of it.  The only restaurant with a lobster tank in it was The Lighthouse, but the pirate-themed decor left us wondering what made it  Italian.

There is a Small Wait

It was about 8:30 and all the restaurants were busy.  The Lighthouse had about a 20 minute wait, so we left our name on the list and made the rounds of the area to see if anything else looked more promising.

  • The Buffet held no interest for us.
  • Big Ben, the steakhouse had an even longer wait than The Lighthouse.
  • Manhattan was the Seadust’s version of a NY Deli, which didn’t sound like what we wanted.
  • Samurai, the Sushi joint was closed for the evening.
  • El Maguey, was a Mexican restaurant and we’d already had a Mexican meal for lunch.
  • The poolside snack bar was closed.
  • We’d been at Maison d’ Michelle the night before and I was afraid of being served another helping of duck chunks, regardless of what I ordered.
  • The only other venue for food was a breakfast place for “Club” members.  It wasn’t breakfast time and we weren’t Club members, whatever that entailed.

That journey ate up about half our waiting time, so we made our way over to the bar we had visited the night before.  We grabbed some wine and cheese to hold us over until the The Lighthouse could seat us.

The Lobster Tank and Other Disappointments

Front and center in The Lighthouse is a lobster tank, announcing the seafood opportunities awaiting its patrons, but like the wines offered by the previous day’s supercilious sommolier, a significant surcharge accompanied the enjoyment of the crustaceans.  First strike!

The menu provided the answer to why the restaurant thought it was an Italian place, but you really had to read between the lines of the  poor translation to figure that out.  Nothing really sounded like what we imagined we might be served, but we settled on some choices.  Bill picked some kind of fish and I went with some fried seafood.  I’ve learned when the menu is a little shaky, go for either the mixed grill or something fried.  My dish was kind of a deep fried mixed grill but it would have to do.  This was more like a foul ball, rather than a strike.

Instead of appetizers, The Lighthouse offers a “salad bar.”  OK.  I went to check it out, because Bill didn’t want a salad.  There was a bowl of greens, but most of the choices on the “salad” bar were cold seafood options – large prawns, crab claws and other selections.  I came back to the table with my prawns and crab, which inspired Bill to try the prawns.  Strike two!  The prawns were overcooked and the meat of the crab claw did not justify the extreme measures required to get to it.  I’ve eaten crab claws my whole life.  I had never faced an enemy claw quite like these.  The shell of the crab was like a concrete casing and after you labored to get to the meat, it wasn’t very good.

The Iberostar

Our entrees arrived and it was another foul ball.  Mine was adequate.  You can get better at the Golden Corral, but I was hungry and it was edible.  I don’t think Bill’s entree could even be called adequate, but he did try to eat it.  All the while, Bill was Googling the Iberostar and the other accommodations in the Hotel Zone.  He decided then and there that all-inclusive would no longer be in his vocabulary!

To finish the meal, there was a dessert bar. Strike three. It did have desserts, but nothing we couldn’t have gotten our hands on in the dreaded buffet.  I chose a few small items, but Bill walked away.  He walked right over to the Maison d’Michelle and arranged for us to have dessert there.  He impatiently waited for me to finish the little tarts I’d picked up and then we revisited the duck chunk restaurant.  They served us two desserts and Bill ate both.

I was exhausted.  I was also sick and tired of hearing about the shortcomings of our resort.  Just because I didn’t waste my energy cataloging the irritants didn’t mean I was oblivious to them, but it also didn’t mean that I had to be disgusted with the whole vacation.  I could still have fun.  We returned to the room and I went directly to bed.  Things did get better the next day, but unfortunately, not in the restaurants.  Come back next week and see what I mean.

ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, International, Libraries, Music, Road Trips, TRAVEL, Travel Books

Back on the Bus

TRAVEL THERE: A LONG RIDE HOME

It had been a very long day and there was still some left as the bus headed back to Cancun.

The Joy of a Good Book

I had read it before, but even so, I had chosen James Michener’s book Mexico, as my reading material for the trip.  Unlike many of his novels, which begin even before the appearance of man in a locale, this novel focused on a modern day journalist covering a bullfight festival, who was at the same time Mexican, American, Mayan and Spanish.  The book does look back at the ancient residents of the country, but instead of choosing an actual tribe, such as the Mayans, Toltecs, Aztecs or Olmecs to showcase, Michener made up a sort of conglomerate tribe called the Altomecs, allowing him to comment on them all.

So many years had passed since my last reading of the book that it seemed fresh.  Occasional scenes gave me a sense of deja vu, but I was still following the plot with interest, unsure how it would end.  (I still haven’t finished it as I write this post, but the more I read the more I remember, and I have recalled the end.)  On the bus ride back to the Seadust, I was only a third of the way through and the Altomecs had not even entered the narrative, except a brief mention from time to time of the pyramid which was near the primary locale of the story.

It had been a long day and several times I caught myself dozing off.  At one point, I woke from a dream to discover it was pitch black outside.  I had been asleep for quite a while.  In my dream I was back at Chichen Itza.  I was among the crowds watching the sacrifices, but somehow I was doing so as a character from Michener’s book and at the same time, I was privy to all the knowledge I had accumulated in my actual lifetime.  I stood on the plaza remembering scholarly data about the Mayan civilization, our own lifestyle in America and the many other civilizations I have studied and observed.

When I woke up it took a few moments to figure out exactly where I was.  I soon noticed the guides were fiddling around with the technology.  TV screens folded up and down as if on their own and the guides huddled over a remote control.  I suspected something was up, but they still managed to surprise me with their tequila service.

The interior lights of the bus flashed on as a rather loud rendition of the song “Tequila” played on the loudspeaker.  A man in a strange costume, his face covered with a stocking mask was standing in the aisle.  Though I was pretty sure it was supposed to be entertainment, a part of me was still under the influence of my strange dream.  It wasn’t exactly a pleasant experience, but I understand they intended it to be.

Bill had a little tequila, but I had no interest.  My stomach was ready for its next meal and had no interest in alcohol.  We were soon back to Cancun and we were fortunate enough to be the second stop.  Unfortunately, the first stop was the Iberostar which had refused Bill entrance the previous day.  Before the night was over, I was also wishing we could visit the Iberostar!  Come back next week and find out why!

Attractions, DESTINATIONS, International, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, TRAVEL

Many Refreshing Experiences

TRAVEL THERE: A BUFFET AND A SWIM

For lunch we returned to our shopping experience venue, but this time we only had enough time to take advantage of a delightful buffet.  The buffet offered both Mexican and International selections.

Yummy for Your Tummy

We hit the Mexican buffet first and it was delicious.  Rice, refried beans, tacos and other favorites from the native cuisine.  It beat the Seadust all to heck.  Bill in particular loved a chicken-rich soup they served.  The international-ness of the International offerings was somewhat questionable.  They had tortilla chips covered in Cheez-Whiz, a sort of Mexican casserole and fajitas.  They also offered hamburgers, which I guess is what made it international.  I found it amusing and enjoyed the irony of ballpark nachos in the middle of the Yucatan peninsula.  They also had Huevos Ranchero, which I didn’t try, because I don’t do eggs, but Bill did and he said they were good.

As we ate our generous lunch a trio of ladies, dressed in the gorgeous embroidered dresses of the region, performed traditional dances for us, including the dance with the tray of beer bottles on their head.  It was a nice touch to a day which had already been wonderful.

There was a beautiful presentation of fruit, a refrigerator of gelatin and other chilled desserts, as well as hand-scooped ice cream cones.  Bill sampled the fruit and we both tried the watermelon ice cream.  Time for a quick potty stop was the only other thing we had time for.

Swimming in the Cenote

Our next stop was the Il Kill Cenote. I confess I am not much of a swimmer.  There was a time in my life when I had passed a Red Cross life-saving course and taught swim lessons.  That was a very long time ago.  Nowadays, I lounge by the pool and occasionally take a stroll through the shallow end.  I am almost embarrassed to confess I usually don’t even care that I have completely forgotten my swimming skills.  I am perfectly happy on the side of the pool.  However, on this particular day, I was somewhat envious of those who climbed down to the water’s edge and swam in the cenote.

Bill was one of those people. After we took a cursory stroll around the grounds, he changed into his swim trunks in the dressing room and showered off to protect the pristine waters of the cenote.  I climbed part of the way down to the cenote with him, so I would have a good vantage point from which to observe his brave swim in the virtually bottomless pool. 

When he reached the pool, he had three choices for entering the water: terrifying, less terrifying and sedate.  One glance at the terrifying height of the cliff from which many people dove told him that was not where he wanted to go.  It was quite a drop from where he was standing and he’s past proving anything to anyone.  The sedate route was set of wooden stairs, near a rope across the water.  Many people slipped into the water from the relative safety of the stairs and grabbed the line rather than actually swimming in the cenote.  That was a little bit too tame.

So Bill watched a few people dive into the cenote to see how they fared.  When they cleared the area in front of him, he dove in.  Seconds passed between his brave dive and the moment his head bobbed above the water.  I was sure he’d reappear, but I held my breath with him nonetheless.  He swam over to the rope and looked for me at the level above, but he chose the wrong me.

I smirked from the corner I’d chosen for observation, as he waved in vain to a woman who did not know him.  When we reunited after his swim he confessed he’d been disappointed his greeting had not been returned and he was glad to know I’d watched him in the water.

Almost as soon as Bill had back on his street clothes, it was time to get on the bus.  It was late afternoon as we headed back to Cancun.  I settled down in my seat and pulled out my book.  Come back next week as we re-enter to city of Cancun and return to our hotel.

Architecture, ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, International, Road Trips, TRAVEL

Amusing Distractions

TRAVEL THERE: KUDOS TO CANCUN PASSION

Waiting for us beside our tour bus after the tour of Chichen Itza were our hosts from Cancun Passion.  Cancun Passion was the actual touring company we’d booked through Shore Trips, which had been recommended to us by Sandra Rubio at CTC Travel.  I can heartily recommend all of those entities to you. 

I love my friends at CTC Travel.  They are like cheerleaders, urging me on in my efforts to see the world.  You will love working with them as you plan your own travels.  Shore Trips is a great way to book excursions, all over the world.  They offer a wide variety of tours wherever you might go and their website is secure, informative and easy to use.  When it came to visiting Chichen Itza from Cancun, Shore Trips curated the very best choices of tours, in my opinion.  But let me tell you about Cancun Passion.

Service with a Smile

From the moment we connected with Cancun Passion, in the lobby of our hotel, we knew we’d made a good choice.  Their representative spoke perfect English, welcomed us with a hearty smile and ushered us into a pristine vehicle, which still had its new-car smell.  I can’t say that the next hour or so of picking up fellow passengers was all that much fun, but what I liked was that they kept us abreast of what was going on, so we weren’t left wondering if we’d actually ever depart the city of Cancun.

At one point, a guide showed up wearing my hat down the aisle of the bus.  I’d left the hat in the first bus we’d climbed onto, when we changed to the larger vehicle.  I don’t have any idea what difficulties they went through to unite me with my hat, but it showed a level of care which I really appreciated.  I’ve left many hats in many vehicles around the world and this is the first that was ever returned to me.

The light breakfast they served on the way to Chichen Itza was more than adequate.  They had generous baskets overflowing with all kinds of pastries from the sweet to the savory.  They served coffee and orange juice.  I drink neither of those on a regular basis, but I know I am in a very small minority and should I have asked, they could have given me water.  The repast was offered with good cheer and second, thirds and fourths were available if you wanted them. 

At every stop we knew exactly why we were there, what opportunities we had for necessities, shopping or entertainment.  We also knew exactly when we were supposed to be back on the bus.  We always had a convenient parking spot and not once did we have to wait for very long, before everyone was on the bus and we were back on our way.

As we got off the bus at Chichen Itza, they gave us a nice bottle of water, not one of those half bottles some folks give you, but a bottle generous enough to provide hydration throughout the visit.  They also had a big basket of small bbq sandwiches to keep hunger at bay as we visited the site.  The meat-filled roll was delicious.  

I particularly appreciated our tour guide.  He was not a pedantic as our Egyptian guide nor silly like some of the other Mayan guides, who had their guests clapping and yelling at the monuments.  He also did not engage in guessing games to present the pertinent information about the site, like the jerk who showed us around Passau and scolded us because we didn’t already know the information we’d hired him to tell us.  Our guide at Chichen Itza was proud of the accomplishments of his ancestors, but also honest about the horrors they committed.

Boarding the Bus at Chichen Itza

So far, our excursion had been almost perfect.  Perhaps a private tour would have been more accommodating to our personal needs and desires, but it would have cost a whole lot more.  For an affordable group tour, they did a great job.  However, even if I had harbored some minor grudge against them, all would have been forgiven as we approached the bus, hot and tired from our tour of the archaeological site.

Waiting for each guest was a cool wet hand cloth to wipe away the dust and heat of Chichen Itza.  Also, from the chilly interior of an ice chest each guest was offered a beverage.  Water, soda and beer was available.  I can’t remember when a Corona had tasted so good.

We have a buffet and a swim coming, but that can wait until next week.  Join me then for more adventures.

Architecture, ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, International, Road Trips, TRAVEL

Where Did the Mayans Go?

TRAVEL TALK: THE DISAPPEARANCE OF A CULTURE

Last week I mentioned the Spanish and their influence on Mexico.  I was horrified by the Mayan culture at its apex, but by the time the Spanish arrived, the jungle had reclaimed Chichen Itza.  All that remained was a pile of stones to loot for building materials.  The magnificence of that society had crumbled.

Peeling Back the Jungle

Historians and archaeologists have many speculations on the downfall of the Mayans.  Their glorious city of Chichen Itza was first taken over by the Toltecs and then abandoned for reasons that are still unknown.  How did it happen?  How did such an advanced society merely fade into the jungle?

When you go to Chichen Itza today, you must use your imagination to understand just how astounding it would have been to walk among the monuments in their glory.  The rain and the wind have softened the many carvings on the faces of the buildings and walls.  Mere shadows of pigment hint at the remarkable murals once covering every inch of exposed stone.  How overwhelming it must have been!

Standing in the Plaza

As I stood there trying to imagine the city ripe with the beauty it once displayed and the engineering it had taken to create it, I was distracted by those around me.  Overweight senior citizens from America, sweltering in the sun and wondering why they had ever paid someone to bring them to this overrated steam bath.  Younger and thinner tourists, from around the world, frolicking like they were at a theme park, rather than an archaeological site.  Native Mayans leading tours, some trying to be comedians, while others shared the importance of the site’s history, but all hoping their meager salaries would be supplemented by generous tips from their audience.

And throughout the site, along every pathway, under every tree, were other Mayans.  Their marketplace no longer had a roof, so they huddled, one after another in the shade, to avoid the blasting heat of the sun, selling their wares.  One vendor offered pretty much the same thing as another.  Some focused on wearable souvenirs, while others sold trinkets to decorate your home.  Too many vendors demonstrated a wooden device that made the sound of a jaguar when you blew into it.  We were sick to death of the sound before we left.  More pleasantly, some vendors played melodies on rustic pipes.  Occasionally, you would see a craftsman, carving a beautiful statue with his own hands, while a quick inspection of other souvenirs would reveal a label professing they’d been made by hands in other countries, where the workmen would earn even less than a native craftsman.

How much easier it would have been to join my fellow tourists in their boredom or their freewheeling photography sessions.  I could have spent my time shopping among the tables of the modern day merchants, comparing the prices and workmanship of their offerings.  Why was I mired in gloomy thoughts of horrific bloodletting and an advanced society which was doing almost everything wrong when it came to the good of their citizens?  What was Chichen Izta trying to tell me?

This is not a conundrum I was able to solve in the few hours I walked among its monuments.  Instead I would walk back to the bus with a heavy heart and conflicting thoughts.  My conclusions would have to work themselves out over the coming days.

On to More Amusing Adventures

It was time to board the bus.  A buffet lunch waited for us and then we’d be headed to visit a cenote.  I shook over my pondering and looked forward to a good meal.  The traveler in me made way for the tourist.  Come back next week and we’ll consider lighter subjects.