Sunday, March 11, 2018

Riviera Maya - Cirque du Soleil

Back to where I was a week ago.  We went for a bike ride on Saturday from the resort to Puerto Morelos.   Very nice little town but overcrowded and full of tourists.  There happen to be a 10 km out to sea swim and it had just finished when we arrived.  

The bike tour left the hotel on time, we all had to use fluorescent vests and helmets and the bikes were pretty good.   We were given instruction on how to ride on the road to town with the tour guide leading and a tail gunner with a bell on the bike handle to indicate that a vehicle was coming.   We had an hour on our own to visit the town.  There are some small and inexpensive hotels there but we wouldn't stay there.   Much better in an rv.

Came back later and had a light lunch (two glasses of wine by the pool) before taking a nap.  

This is really heaven but you need quite a bit of dough to live the life.   Got cleaned up and headed downstairs for our ride to the Cirque du Soleil.   We arrived way too early but as you can see by the pictures it was fun just hanging out.   They have a restaurant, bar and sitting areas along the manglar groves and every now and then a small hand-carved canoe would pass by with some type of fire twirling and conch music.  

The time came and we were ushered to our seats and watched a great show.  I have to say, this was not the best of C du S, we have seen five different shows over the years and I still say that Mystere was our all time favorite.  

I had selected the seating months in advance and did pretty well.  We were in the loge section and had comfortable living room style chairs, a table where they served us hors d'oeuvres and a bottle of very good champagne.   Our waiter took good care of us and made sure we were always supplied with a glass of bubbly.  There´s quite a bit of grape in a bottle for an hour and a half :)

The story of Joya is about a girl that has a magic book stolen from her and the quest to find it and bring it back.   Fun but I would say that kids had much more fun than the adults.  The theater is permanent and was built and is maintained by the hotel Vidanta.  Very nice and I wish we could have visited the hotel across the highway (underground connection) but that isn't allowed.  

Returned home that evening for a jacuzzi on the balcony with a cocktail and off to bed.   A great weekend had by all and Sunday was no exception.  A beach walk, a wonderful breakfast and off to the airport.  

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Riviera Maya - What An Experience

I saved up for a couple of months knowing it wasn't going to be cheap.  Prices are in dollars and as you know I earn pesos and nowhere near as much as a teacher in the U.S. or Canada.  It was worth every penny though.

Grand Residences offers many plans and I've never stayed at an all-inclusive.  I probably never will again either, hahaha.   It was an experience, a lot of fun, and I learned a lot about staying at a resort.  Some of the people were nice, and most were d"#$%.   The staff bends over backward to please everyone and you are treated like royalty.   The suite was probably one of the most luxurious we have stayed in although in my travels some have been better.  The look now is minimalist and it tends to get a bit monotonous.  

The flight was a bit less than two hours.  Upon arrival, our SUV limo took us to the resort.  From the Cancun airport, Puerto Morelos is about 35 minutes.   They offered us a drink during the ride and spent the time chatting with the driver.   We remember Cancun before it had become a city now with over 800,000 people.

At the hotel, we registered and our concierge assigned Jorge as our bellman and private assistant.  Need anything, call Jorge and he'll be there.   We're not that way and he checked on us a couple of times wondering why we weren't calling him.  I guess most guests pester him to death.  

The room speaks for itself.  They are in clusters of three, two junior and one master with an entrance and foyer for the three and those are separated from the other rooms, suites, and apartments.  The refrigerator is stocked with alcohol, water, sodas, and the counter covered in fresh and dried fruits, chocolates and nuts of all kinds.   

Some American tourists we met at the local gift shop.

Two jacuzzis, one in the bathroom and the other on the balcony.  We used the one on the balcony both nights.   It was so relaxing and quiet.   They offer the best of the best in terms of amenities; towels, pillow options (they ask at the front desk and have miniatures to help make the selection, with eight pillows per bed.   

There are three restaurants; Mexican, French and the beach bar and restaurant.  We liked the French for breakfast and the beach for afternoon lunch.  The make the meanest shrimp tacos and fried fish tortas.  Dinner Friday night was French cuisine and it was excellently prepared.  The menu is ample and you could have a ribeye, salmon steaks, lobster, or any combination.  I had a dish prepared with pureed potato with roasted garlic, butter and a wonderful sauce made with asparagus, morel mushrooms, walnuts, and spices (trying to stick to the vegetarian/vegan diet).  Truly a regal dish, delicious.  

There are two resorts next door, Now Jade and El Cid and they both have different styles.  I chose Grand Residences because it was on the end and we could walk some unused beach and we didn't have to look at a building next door.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Weekend Get Away - Riviera Maya

Made the decision to take a weekend and see Cirque Du Soleil on the Riviera Maya.  The trip here was great.  When we left Monterrey in the morning it was heavy drizzle, fog and 12C.   Two hours later, sunny and 30C with a slight breeze.

The resort is all-inclusive and they really mean it.  Great pools, activities, beach-side restaurant and bar.   

Not a bad view!

A jacuzzi on the patio.

Looking out from the bar at the beach while we had a light lunch with a glass of wine!

More later.  The show is Saturday night and I chose fantastic seats.   We head home Monday but coming back looks like a must.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Keeping Money Safe in Mexico

A couple of good things are going on here at the home base.  The trees are blooming already although we still have a couple of cold fronts coming through.  All that effort to clean up the falling leaves.  Too many trees I guess but I don't do the raking anymore!  That's certainly a plus.  This winter has been the coldest and longest on record for these parts.   I´m not quite sure how we'll make out on the electric bill but we didn't economize this time around.  We decided that since we didn't do any holiday travel we deserved to enjoy our time at home.  Even this week we have the radiant gas heat on at night just to take the chill off along with the electric blanket.   That darn electric blanket is better than any sleeping aid you could ever take.   Truly a deep sleep.

I received my invitation to Ecuador for 10 days starting the second week of April.   Semana Santa this year is the last week of March and the first week of April.  They asked me to come sooner but we want to keep an rving date with Ruth and Kevin to go to Parque Natl Sierra de Organos.  It's not written in stone but we are planning on going there.  I've got itchy feet so we will take next weekend and go down the road a ways to our resort and spend the night.

Keeping money safe.  There seems to be some counterfeit bills running around in Mexico.  Big surprise?  Hardly.  Counterfeit money has been around as long as paper bills have been around.  U.S. bills are counterfeited to the tune of 300 million in the U.S. alone.   

  1. Here is my solution although I've never had a counterfeit or beknownst to me counterfeit bill.  Go to Office Depot and buy one of those marker pens you see people use in businesses as well as banks.  They're cheap and might give some paranoic souls some peace of mind.  This pen only on the paper bills not the plastic or polymer 20 and 50 notes.  Another good piece of safety is to stay  away from non-bank ATMs.  Now be wise.  That doesn't mean you have to go to a bank to use the ATM.  It just says that you should use a bank brand ATM which are located in malls and convenience stores.  

  2. Also remember that you can make withdrawals/deposits on your Mexican accounts, transfer money nationally and internationally, make utility and credit card payments at any OXXO convenience store.  Life in Mexico has never been easier.  

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Warning - Political Post

You heard it straight from the man's mouth.   Things couldn't be better and the U.S. is the greatest country in the world.   Well, not quite so true.  The U.S. seems to be struggling with immigration both legal and illegal, the stock market, tax reform, severe drug addiction, terrorism threats, and wages.

None of the above have been resolved by either the Democrats or Republicans.  I'm sure you were expecting me to rip the Republican party to pieces but I really see no difference between the two.  The system is antiquated, relies on the electoral college to elect a president, and hasn't seen bipartisanship in ages.  Many Americans were amazed to find out that the electoral college overrides the popular vote.  The electoral college has been in place since 1787 and was originally called the Virginia Plan.  

Immigration reform has been in the process since 1985.  What does that say?  The two-party system doesn't work very well or they would have reached an agreement by now.  It also says that politicians have decided that their positions and salaries, along with kickbacks and lobbying fees, are much more valuable than the populous at large.   Their indecisiveness has created a population of 12 million illegals living in the country.   There are pros and cons to the issue.   As everyone knows that if they were removed from the country there would be severe underemployment which is not good for an economy.  I have to admit that although I live in Mexico and support my country I think that the U.S. has the right, under certain conditions, terms and laws, to deport the majority of illegals.  That said, no one ever did anything about the issue.  Big government is to blame and I have always said that we need to reduce government.  Let the natural laws take hold such as eliminating minimum wage.

For any of you who have traveled to other countries, you well know that everyone loves their country or at least the majority of its population.   If not, ships would be lining up to get into the greatest country in the world.  For me, Mexico is a great country.  Some of you readers live here and travel here.  If it were so bad, dangerous, and overall an undesireable place to live this wouldn't be true. Why some of my own family members, the majority, have never even visited and some never will for whatever reason they choose.  That's a mentality issue and lack of education.

Drug addiction in the U.S. has been blamed on Mexico and South America.  Absurd.  No one has been forced to use or take drugs.   There are many reasons people do drugs and if the last year is any indication, one might think that it is a conspiracy or plot being carried out by other nations or a covert group looking to take over the country.  I could believe that as we have Trudeau, Trump and Peña Nieto in North America and it could very well be a plot by the infamous Chinese to take over North America and shove their cheap and worthless products  on them.   Tongues in cheek I'll leave that for another post.  China bombs if you're an rver!

I could go on but I'll leave you with some facts about Trump's infactual facts along with visuals.

Trump even falls short in comparison to Barack Obama’s first year. The S&P 500 gained about 33.3 percent from inauguration through Jan. 29 under Obama, compared with 25.5 percent under Trump.
Only about 50 percent of Americans own stocks directly or through retirement funds, according to a Gallup survey. And most of the value in stocks is held by the top 10 percent.  This is an indication that very few Americans actually have a 401K.

Trump once again takes credit for something that began to happen before his presidency. Wages have been on an upward trend since 2014, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and in fact their growth slowed during the first year of Trump’s presidency.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

The Real Deal And Other Thoughts


We're kind of moving along at our own speed here.  The weather hasn't improved, still cold, wet and gloomy. 

A couple of good things going on.  We paid our tags on the vehicles and the rv along with a juicy 15% discount for paying in January along with our property taxes.  I won't say what our property is valued at but our taxes this year with a early-pay discount come to $112.  OTOH, we have shitty roads in some places and things aren't maintained quite as well as other countries.  As I've always said, you get what you pay for.  Foreigners like cheap but at the same time don't b"#$% about it.

Speaking of the ¨real deal¨ I sometimes hear and read about products or services  people find in Mexico but ¨they just aren't the same as at home¨.  Of  course not my dears, this is Mexico and we have much different tastes.  Chinese take out is one of those.  It's loaded with meat and fried items because that's what we like and Chinese immigrants are smart enough to cater to the desires of the masses.   Have no expectations, I always say. 

As a good example, we went to the movies tonight.  People are pigs.  They leave there trash behind for someone else to pick up.  Trash cans everywhere on the exits and inside the theater salon.  Juan said, ¨they should put a notice on the screen during the previews or at the end¨.  It's just not our culture and people would actually complain and feel insulted if they did.  Try it sometime in Mexico if you see someone littering.  The response will be something like CTM an acronym for something not quite polite.

The SUV got a smart makeover.  The bumpers were repainted, some dents removed and a major deep surface cleansing and waxing.  She shines like new!  Ready for adventure.

It's a 2005 with over 350.000 kms.  It had a slight tick in a sticky valve which is endemic to this model.  We have been using an additive to the oil changes and surprisingly, it has made a huge difference.  I expect it to disappear in another oil change or two.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Merida - Wish I Could Have Stayed Longer

I was in Merida two years ago for a local ELT convention.   I returned again on Monday but didn't get a chance to really enjoy the city.  It was a work trip and it was less than 24 hours.  That's what I do and I could always extend the tickets and stay longer but I'm just not into hotels and sightseeing by myself.

I worked with a group of sales people this time around.  It was definitely a different experience and I would have to be creative to hold their interest.  It worked.  The day flew by and they asked that I come back again.   Not sure how it happened, but I ended up with a first class ticket coming and going.  Very relaxing.  I have enough miles now on AeroMexico that I could always ask for an upgrade but we're already at two round trip tickes in Mexico or the U.S. so I prefer to continue saving.

Back to Merida, it has become a beautiful city.  Everyone mentions the fact that it is the safest city in Mexico and I don't doubt that.  It is also one of the cleanest cities and you see that everywhere you go.  The colonial architecture is well-preserved with avenues and streets in excellent condition.  Don id I mention the local cuisine?  Good eats!  Some how we need to find our way down to the Yucatan which would require quite a bit of time off.  Someday.

Don't ask me about the weather here at home.  It's not getting any better.  Yesterday and this morning I woke up to 1C.   This week it will be rain and -2C for two nights so we can expect some type of white stuff.  This is the coldest and longest winter we have experienced in my 33 years here.