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Mexican Travel Notes...

I think I will always remember Playa del Secreto, Quintana Roo, Mexico with great nostalgia. I'll remember it as one of the most beautiful places in the world. Not because it ever was, but because of the fortunate trick of memory being that the days she and I spent there were among the happiest of my life.

Leutenant, our trip was wonderful. These "notes" are really for my recollection only. They may not make sense to others, but someday when I look back, I know they'll jog from me the 5 days we were there.

"He sido en México con mi mejor amigo
mi amante
mi presente
mi futuro
mi cada pensamiento el despertar

mi amor."

Wednesday - Flight was without memory. Airport was confusing but not bad. Outside is hot. HOT. 90 + degrees and humid at 6:30. The shuttle seemed to cost a bit much - $18 USD a piece... I realize soon on that I need to learn to barter. We realize we don't have the address to where we are staying. "For a tip" the shuttle van driver says he will "get us there." We find out two people from the wedding named Kelly and Aaron were on our flight when they board our shuttle van with cold drafts. A different American who really likes to talk a lot squeezes next to us in the front seat. Van stopped for beers on the side of the highway. We buy bottled water and a 6 pack of Dos Equis (XX). Playa del Secreto is a deserted outpost on an unlit limestone road off the side of the highway. Driver drops us off at wrong place across the street from Sandy's Villa. Not knowing I tip him $5. Whoops we left a back pack on the shuttle van. Wander around the deserted road until we figure out Sandy's is across the street from the deserted condos we're poking around outside of. A working boy at Sandy's who speaks no English gets us to our condo. I'm not sure if it's right, you are certain. You were right. I am grateful you're there. Our Villa is really neat. Whoops, there's no food in the villa. There's nothing to eat in the villa - there's no place to buy anything for miles and there no phone. Nothing around for miles - no phone, no people who know anything, no instructions... but there are signs for crocodiles I don't mention. I don't like crocodiles because I HATE thoughts of dismemberment. We watch Mexican MTV. Check out the beautiful and almost bath water warm swimming pool just outside our personal patio with chairs, table, and hammock. It's official, Sandy's Villa #2 was just perfect. We left a note for Ginny, the woman who was watching the Villas for the owners to call about the bag we left on the van. You and I finish the 6 pack of Dos Equis because there's nothing else besides a sketchy box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. So we went to bed hungry but really tired. We fell asleep quickly under the bedroom ceiling fan as it spun like our day.

Thursday - We woke Early, about 8 in the morning to knocking at our Villa door, Ginny came by to say they were going to bring our bag for $15 USD on a shuttle. They said it would be about two hours. So we left the money with Ginny and her husband -- the really tan man who does therapeutic massage for the guests at the villa for $35 an hour. We needed to see the beach. The white sands. The ocean blue water. Picture postcard blue with white and no one - not more than 4 people ever at a time -- never less than hundreds of feet away -- no one was on the beach. The sun was searing but the wind blew us cool. Sunscreen. Never forget sun screen near the equator. We walked the beach and swam in warm breaking waves then went back to our condo. The bag still wasn't there. By 2 PM I grabbed the old box of Macaroni and cheese in the cupboard and made it with no butter or milk. We had neither and I had to eat. You shared it with me and said it was the best macaroni and cheese you ever had. We were waiting all day for the bag to be delivered. Finally we had to leave - the mac and cheese wore off fast. Took a Cab into Playa Del Carmen after I relearned Spanish while on the phone with the taxi company. 01 768 998 0090 is the cab company number, we don't have a rental car, I could never remember the cab number... but know it now. How strange... $23 cab ride. Looking for the main street where everything was, we walked through an "all inclusive" hotel beach area. We asked two sun burnt men where the good resturants were. The men has yellow "all inclusive" wrist bands on with dark sunglasses they didn't remove. They said they'd never left their hotel in the week they were there. Our jaws dropped. They said they heard the main street was called 5th Ave. Later after some trecking through other people's hotels, where you were much braver than I, we decided on a honky tonk open air patio restaurant where we ate delicious tacos and Mexican chicken with margaritas and tequila sunrises. We were on 5th avenue - the honkey tonk street. We walked and checked out the street vendors and the shops. You wanted a small bead all black bead necklace. For $10 the man made you one by clipping off the various caribbean colored beads leaving only the black ones of one already made. "I make it for you!" He added more beads, measured it against your neck a few times and quickly you had exactly what you wanted. Went in search of Mexican blankets. Nothing costs the same - ever. Made one shop keeper mad when we asked him how much for 12 blankets and he immediately took every blanket he had inside his store for us. When he wouldn't give us a price for 6 verses 12 we left. We stop at a tequileria. You get a margarita. I get an expensive sipping tequila with a side of sangria, limes and sea salt. Decide to have a Mexico party some time when after we get back to the states. Walk around a bit. Stop in a place for 1 last beer. We drink a beer each that feels like it's too much. They won't give us the bill until we accept one more drink each on the house. Somehow we manage to finish them and walk out. Cabs wait on the side streets for American pedestrians. I'm getting much tanner. Shopkeepers and cabbies are starting to ask me if I speak Spanish instead of assuming I'm a gringo. Think I may be imagining it. We have a cabby take us to go grocery shopping. A hundred thirty pesos is ten us dollars. Half a cart full of groceries was 476 pesos. Cabby dropped us off back in Playa del Secreto for $15 including waiting for us at the bodega. Put away groceries. Eat a carne flavored Ramen Cup of Soup. Read in bed. Sleep. Wake up at 2 AM feeling terrible. Head ache. Heart burn. Stomach ache. "Did I drink the water?!!?" Drink a whole bottled water, take an Aleve, fall back asleep worried to a degree in sharp contrast to the ease of my day that I might be sick for the rest of the trip.

Friday - Wake up feeling great and re-hydrated. Even my cold is gone. Long morning in the villa. Make bacon, eggs and toast for breakfast. Realize the Yogurt para bebir I bought for the coffee is strawberry and peach flavored and doesn't mix with the coffee well. It looks like curdled milk but tastes passable. Oh well. Spend time by the pool. Two dogs run up to us from a beach house. GeeGee and Amadeus come back to our consciousness. We don't miss them yet. Spend time in the air conditioning. Spend time in. Walked our beautiful beach. Missed sun screening a spot on my shoulder. Burned the spot on my shoulder... Mexican rojo tattoo. We met Celli the bride walking back from our secret beach. She seems so nice to me. Wedding party dinner at night at The Blue Lobster: 6 drinks for 150 pesos.. drinks afterwards at the Blue parrot she tells us. We go into Playa del Carmen early to eat dinner. The place we eat at is too hot. you really need to eat. We browse a bit - avoiding the side street with the Mexican blanket shop and the irate shop owner. We find a non tourist mall and find a nail salon. I browse around while you get a touch up. Later we stop and get coffee at a shop as nice and offering as much as anything in the states, get to the rehearsal dinner for 7:05, sit with the groom's younger than us friends. These people from Colorado seem to be hard to read... I make everyone around the table say what they do for a living. There's little more conversation with me after that. Whoops. Perhaps I've scared them. Perhaps they're wankers. Perhaps they are just what they are and not everyone is interested in being friendly. Perhaps I'm imagining it all. A shot of tequila and a drink is ordered by the whole table and lets the whole table get their 6 drinks in before we have to clear out. We go for a short walk. We meet Oscar - Celli's really cool brother and his friend. Together, the four of us go the Blue Parrot. It's a singles night. Sitting at tables on the beach the singles get assigned stick-on numbers so they can get public address shout outs from other stick-on number wearers throughout the night. I'm so glad we're there together. We leave soon after without drinking any more. The coloradians are still at the bar with ceiling suspended swings instead of chairs. A cabbie bring us to another bodega to get better milk - by this time I remember that Bodega passes as Grocery Store in spanish. We buy leche that comes in a sealed waxed box - like a giant juice box. We buy playing cards for when we no longer feel like reading. You're over half finished with the many books you've brought. I'm amazed at how fast you read. That's reason number 779 that I love you. We make it back to the villa. We go body surfing in the dark - the surf tries to rip off our suits - it's perhaps the most fun outdoors I've had in years... We have sand everywhere. I treat our spots of sun burn with fresh aloe from a plant in our villa. We stay up a bit longer. I smoke a Cuban cigar I bought in the honkey tonk town. You tell me I taste like a steak. We go to bed. We sleep.

Saturday - The wedding is this night. We eat breakfast and lunch at the Villa. The new milk tastes delicious - on the mango and bran flakes and especially in the coffee. We take an hour long walk on the limestone roads and then beach - I had to wear my heavy all black Red Bones T-shirt because of the burn on my shoulder. Black t-shirts have a higher SPF than white. We see a tick infested dog. We come to a dead end private road with crocodile warning signs. I'm teased for not wanted to go down it - that becomes reason number 780. We visit Celli at her rented house down the road. It's beautiful. The bride is stressed and taking care of everything. The groom is off golfing with his friends. I mill around as the only guy there among a pack of bridesmaids and other women. I leave you there so you can have some time to yourself. Back at the villa I do the dishes, clean and straighten up the villa. I read my book on the patio and drink a beer. You came back a few hours later. We spend the rest of the day reading, playing pitch, swimming in the pool. The entire area has a power outage. More like a brown out. Almost no one going to the wedding has showered yet except for me. The air conditioner in the room keeps making an annoying beeping sound because there's just enough juice coming through the wires to power the annoying beep circuit and nothing else - including the electric water pumps of the villa. That's why no one can take a shower, run their sink... or flush thier toilets. About 45 minutes before the wedding the power comes back on. A lot of people in from Colorado for the wedding are staying at Sandy's. They're with the groom all at the pool. I go out to tell them the power is back on. I'm a nice guy. The ceremony was beautiful, the reception was fun, the food was interesting... the pig roast was actually a roasted pig and was smaller and fattier than I expected. We left after everyone was dancing so we could walk the deserted beach under stars in new places.

Sunday - snorkeling in Puerta Morales. $20 for two hours and two coral reefs. We took underwater photos. Saw barracuda, angel fish, parrot fish, a small star fish walked in our hands... some times I tow you around, othertimes we snorkle hand in hand... we get a bit too much sun - you more than I. Bought a large "mas fino" blanket from a cute old lady at a side street shop. Ate beef and fish tacos in Puerta Morales. Your ice cream craving is resolved with a chocolate swirl. Back at the villa you sleep off the sun and the Bromine while I drank beer and finished most of my book - Love in the time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Good book. Aggravating ending that I reached Monday evening sitting and waiting at JFK. Tried to go back to town to finish shopping. Got really aggravated that the phone wasn't working. No one around to ask what was wrong with it. My Spanish is too poor to understand the recorded message. No cab. Set the alarm for the first time in 4 days.

Monday - up at 6:30. Celli is around. She tells me the message says the calling card of the house phone has expired. Ginny calls a taxi for us to the air port. Cabs keep getting cheaper and cheaper. $20 to the air port verses the $60 it would have cost us on the first day. Late planes, bumped off of the flight at JFK. At Logan the shuttle left without us. $117 for a cab ride to Providence from Logan. Best money ever spent at 10:00 PM after 12 hours of travel. Home. Pick up Amadeus. Home. Pet Taylor my cat. Home. Sleep.

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