Why other subjects? Let's face it, I can't afford to travel as often as I'd like, and since I just turned 70, maybe for not quite as long as I'd like...after all, la vita e troppo breve...
That word "long" in this case, as Dottore Gianni has just whispered in my ear, can be read in two (and maybe more?) different ways. First, I am able to travel for relatively long periods of time, for unlike you working stiffs, I am retired. However not only does the money run out sooner than I'd like, but at my age I find that my stamina runs out as well. I try to really "attack" a place when I visit - see as much of it as possible in all too short a time, generally. But in recent trips I find that I am taking longer rests midday in the hotel, and that I'm not staying out late at night, as I enjoyed doing in years past.
Second, life really IS growing short. The age of 70, for the good doctor and me at least, implies that MAYBE I have ten years of travel left...maybe a bit more than that, but let's just say the writing is on the wall (not just in my posts - ba-da-bing!).
I'm sure I have written before in this blog that ever since my 40th birthday I have given myself a once-every-decade birthday present: a trip abroad. First it was London and Stratford-Upon-Avon - I happily admit that I'm a very theatrical fella. at year 50 I meant to spend a week in Florence, having already been to Rome, but for reasons I've explained in at least one earlier post, Florence turned into a fiasco, and on my second day in Italy I flew to Rome and spent the rest of my trip there. 60 was blissful - classical Greece: Athens, Delfi, Mycenae and Epidauros the last two from the wonderful Venetian town of Napflio) - it was unusually warm there for January and sunny throughout.
For the celebration of my 70th I planned - exhaustively, for four solid months - a new adventure: Portugal (for the first time) and Southern Spain (also a first as I had already spent time in Barcelona, Madrid, Segovia, Avila, but only got as far south as Toledo). But several factors combined into a perfect storm that rendered me unable to make the trip. Most were physical: I experienced lower back issues, a chronic nosebleed (in spite of a cauterization!) and at the last minute a nasty virus. I also confess to having become a victim of over-planning. I pushed too much activity and too much distance (especially between Portugal and Spain. It's more difficult to get from one to another by public transport than any two other Western European countries to which I've traveled) into 20 days. I overwhelmed myself. Maybe that's why I got the virus?
A day after my proposed departure to Europe, after a restless and sleep-deprived night, I determined that I simply MUST go somewhere abroad to celebrate 70. I looked at several options, including Peru and Mexico, and decided on the latter. So! On the day before my birthday I flew to Cancun.
|My hotel - not the giant on the left, |
the comparatively little one, to its right
Cancun? I have been told by people in the "know" that Cancun is not Mexico - it's a multinational hotel zone that happens to be set in a gorgeous part of the Yucatan peninsula. And they are right! I booked for the first, and I'm fairly certain for the last, time, at an "all-inclusive" resort. I'm not going to name it as I don't want people to think ill of a specific hotel. In fact I have a feeling that as "all-inclusives" go, it's pretty nice.
|The view from my room, looking right. You'd ce correct to note that the Caribbean is impossibly blue|
|The view from my room to the left - the lagoon, and hotel after hotel after hotel|
Aside: All-inclusives say that you don't have to tip, but from researching on-line travel forums (not the ideal research sources, but...) I discovered that most people carry at least $100 in one and five dollar bills and tip just about everyone. So I did too. Exit, stage left, aside.
I arrived ready to exchange money, dollars to pesos - by the way the current rate is approximately one dollar to 20 or 21 pesos (since Trump's election/coronation the peso has dropped 13% against the dollar - I wonder why?). But I soon found that the US dollar seems almighty in the hotel zone. So I used the USD to tip the fellow that drove me from the airport to the hotel (an expensive service arranged by the hotel itself), I tipped the guy who took my bags up, I left two dollars a day on a pillow for the custodial staff. Every time I asked for anything at the concierge desk I tipped. I tipped at the buffet breakfasts, and more for meals where waiters actually served me food. I can't think who I didn't tip really.
Aside: If any of my readers are regulars at all-inclusives, or any other exclusive resort/hotel, they will probably be grumbling, "Of course you tip! It's the way of that world. But you see my world (of travel) is not their world. When I fly to Europe I stay at decent hotels in the centers of great cities that almost always cost under $100 a night. Yes, you can find them, yes it's the only way I can afford to travel, and yes I really enjoy my stay in most of them. In these establishments there are no concierge desks, no one carries your luggage anywhere. I do leave a little money at my breakfast table - most of the hotels I stay at come with breakfast, instead of charging something ludicrous like $21 for a mediocre spread, as is the custom in most US hotels - and I always leave a bit for the custodial staff on the morning of my departure, but never more than that. Such is my experience of travel, and so ends this aside.
|Two of the three pools, taken from the edge of the third|
Except that for compleanno numero 70 at the last minute I went all-inclusive. Every day each guest is given a sheet of paper with the schedule for the day. I saved one from the trip:
9:30 am - yoga at the gym
10 am - guessing game (? your guess as good as mine ?)
11 am - beach volleyball
12 pm - aqua gym in the pool (well, in one of three pools)
1 pm - ping-pong tournament in Bar One
2 pm - water volleyball in the pool(s)
3 pm - bingo (bingo???) poolside
4 pm - blackjack (???) poolside (???)
8 pm - resident DJ (a must) in Bar One
9 pm - Las Divas (???), also in Bar One
10 pm - Flair show (who knows?) yet again in Bar One
If you have any time left over or can sandwich in
you eat...and eat...and eat.
Also you drink...and drink...and drink.
And then presumably you sleep, dreaming of the next day's schedule!
You may have guessed by now that I engaged in exactly none of these activities, except for the last, eating and drinking, both of those liberally. So much for fish-out-of-water Dr Jack at the all-inclusive.
However, the escapes from the all-inclusive were sublime. On my birthday seeing the coral reef from a yellow submarine, on the day after Chichen Itza, and on the day after that Tulum (the last two excellent Mayan ruins). But for the escapes you must read my next blog post(s)!