Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Adventures of Mexico!

For spring break this year we decided to go south.  This is the first time in about 10 years that we have done this, so the second time ever!!!  We did take the kids with us and we met up with Jay's parents, Sherry and Dave.  We stayed in Puerto Aventuras at the Dreams Resort.  We were very happy with, well pretty much everything.  The service was by far the best part.  Everyone took very good care of you and was happy to be there.  Below is the view from our balcony.  The ocean view was definitely worth the extra money, as we could sit on the deck and enjoy the waves while the kids were napping or sleeping.  The weather was great, warm with a nice breeze.  Without the breeze it was quite hot actually - I think 29 every day.  Most days we were up early, but in no hurry to get going.  We'd head for the buffet between 8-9 and then out to the beach or pool for a swim until lunch.  After lunch, the kids and I often napped or watched the Cartoon network in the room with all the cool cartoons we don't get at home. Then after some down time we would head back out or go for supper.  The group picture was taken in the gazebo just off the front of the beach at the resort.  There were some rocks that acted as a bit of a wave break for  nicer swimming. 

The above picture is what we called the tide pool.  It was a blocked off area that was very calm for snorkeling.  Sherry and Dave brought their snorkel gear, so we tried it out, meanwhile the kids used the resorts life jackets and snorkel gear.  Unfortunately Devin's life jacket was too big and riding up to his head, so he didn't really give it a fair shot, but Jasmine said, "it was pretty cool and I couldn't count how many fish were in there."  At the beach they had a water trampoline that the kids bounced on one day and they also had a inflatable rock climbing wall that you can see in the below picture.  Jasmine did climb to the top of it and slid down twice, but Devin didn't like it too much.  It did seem rather high, so I don't blame him.  Here he is below playing in the sand.

The resort had a schedule of daily activities.  Jay played beach volleyball one day and found out the hard way that the court only had 6 inches of sand and then a concrete floor underneath, but he still had fun.  Jasmine and Devin were brave enough to try the Euro trampoline, which was basically like a sling shot that fired them into the sky.  I couldn't believe how high they went and both were very good sports.  They weren't quite sure how to react, they knew they should be smiling and laughing, but it was pretty scary.  They offered many other things like water aerobics, which I had good intentions of doing, but it was always right around lunch time, so it didn't happen.  Although, we didn't get to take an official Spanish class, we did learn a bit of Spanish including:

Hola = Hello, Good Morning = Buenos Dias, Good Evening = Buenas Noches, Goodbye = Adios, Please = Por Favor, Thank you Very Much = Muchas Gracias, You're Welcome = De Nada, Yes = Se
1. uno, 2. dos, 3. tres, 4. cuatro, 5. cinco, 6. seis, 7. siete, 8. ocho, 9. nueve, 10. diez AND Jay's parents already seemed to know the word for beer = cerveza.

The buffet at the resort was pretty good.  Well, if you only had to eat there once it was amazing, but after a week or so you were happy to have some restaurant options.  The buffet did have a kids section, but it pretty much had hot dogs every day, although we did see chicken fingers and cheesy noodles as well.  The 3 pounds I gained I am sure are attributed to breakfasts which are my favorite... eggs, toast, french toast, bacon, sausage... yum!  They made killer guacamole and pico de gallo, which I missed so much already that I made them both for supper tonight to go with our fajitas.  They had a great assortment of pastries and fresh breads and buns, so that was also a downfall.  Plus you only saw melons and pineapple for fruit, and the odd overripe banana, and hardly any veggies, especially when you had been warned not to eat the lettuce (some resorts use tap water to wash their lettuce, we tended to eat it at the restaurants when served it, but not in the buffet - strange, I know!)  We did try out most of their restaurants.  Below the kids pose with the maitre de of the Italian restaurant and Jasmine is wearing the dress we bartered for the evening before.  We had a really  nice meal and Poppa taught Devin to arm wrestle, or was it the other way around? 

Sherry and Dave had a bad experience at the Sushi restaurant the year before, so when they went for supper with friends Drew and Loretta, we braved it since we like sushi so much.  The menu looked pretty normal, so we figured we'd give it a try. Jasmine had veggie rolls, Devin California rolls and Jay and I experimented with spicy tuna, smoked salmon and dragon rolls - nothing raw and no eel!  It was St. Parick's day, so we all wore our Rider gear.  It doesn't matter where you go, someone knows about the Riders.  On the last night Sherry and Dave were with us, we took advantage of the opportunity and Jay and I ate out at the seafood restaurant - I braved the shrimp tacos and they were very good!  It was so nice having Gramma and Poppa there with us.  We had adjoining rooms, so we had an extra place to hang out when kids were sleeping or the ladies were cleaning.  Devin had a couple of great swims with Poppa and he also took Jasmine out in the ocean wave jumping.  Sherry and Dave had been to this same resort last year, so they knew how it worked and it really was a great place.  

The service was fantastic and we were never short on drinks.  The kids tried all kinds of virgin drinks, like the strawberry ones shown below.  Always served in a fancy glass which they loved.  Their favorites were the chocolate ones, including a mudslide. 

We hadn't considered the different wildlife that we might see when in Mexico, but we saw a couple of different pelicans up close and it was pretty crazy how they just swooped down and took a beakful of water and minnows.  I guess we have seen pelicans before, but not like this.  There was an unusual rodent roaming the resort as well, but I never did find out what it was or get a picture.  I laughed when someone tried to tell me it was a gopher.  We saw tonnes of iguanas, they are just as common as squirrels are in Ottawa.  The picture below shows how close they would let you get to them, but they were everywhere.  The bottom picture is from Xcaret, they had all sorts of animals there, including parrots flamingos and this tapir.  He was quite interesting to look at and stayed in the water for a lot of the day when it was hot.  

On Wednesday we went to Xcaret.  This is where we saw most of the wildlife and adventured through caves and old mines.  Jasmine quite liked the mine.  Here you answered questions and then would follow the direction of your answer, I think we hit about 3 dead ends and had to try again.  The second picture below is from the mine adventure.  Scattered throughout Xcaret were caves, small chunks of ruins and they had an old arena where they played traditional games.  In the evening show they demonstrated a few of the games they used to play, but they didn't behead the losers like they did in real life.  In one of the games they played hockey with a ball of fire in their bare feet.  It was pretty crazy to watch.   They also had a Flying men show and it was "spectacular" as Sherry called it.  I really don't have a picture that does it justice, but these men and not young men either, I'm talking in there 60's and 70's, climbed up this huge pole and sat at the top of it  - no harnesses.  Then after the center man played the flute and drums, the other 4 men dropped off the edges with only their legs twisted around a rope.  They slowly spiralled to the ground.  This ritual is to help provide a fruitful crop and good soil.  It was pretty wild because it was just so high and dangerous.  We ate lunch at a Mexican buffet and saw a mariachi band perform.  After lunch we swam/snorkeled through the underground river.  That was pretty fun, but Jasmine got very cold under there, so I took the kids out about 3/4 of the way through and the other 3 finished off - too bad that all of the fish were apparently at the very end - darn!  The last picture from this set is from the night show and you can see that it was a pretty big deal.  They were blowing incense out of torches, music was playing, hundreds of dancers and performers showed off all the rituals and history of Mexico through the years.

 On the last day we had to do everything we meant to, but hadn't done yet like get Jasmine's hair braided and get henna tattoos.  Devin was so pooped that he fell asleep at the lunch table and then slept for over another hour at the beach. 

Well, that was pretty much the trip... oh, yeah except the highlight of the trip... swimming with the dolphins.  It was just soooo cool!  I had to buy the pictures they took, so I have a whole boat load if you want to see more.  Definitely try this if you get a chance, so fun!  Devin wasn't tall enough to do the full adventure, so him and danced, sang, splashed, pet and kissed the dolphins, while Jasmine and Jay got to actually ride on one and get pushed on the boogie board - it looked pretty awesome!

So, even though I did get nervous on the way there and ended up quite sick for the plane ride and felt puny for the first day and Jasmine did get a cough after freezing her butt off swimming with the dolphins and in the underground tunnel, it really was a relaxing and fun holiday!  We would do it again, but not right away.  Likely in a few years when the kids are older and we can try some new adventures with them, like Chichen-Itza or Catamaran. 

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