Sunday, January 04, 2009

Mexico for Christmas: Trip recap

Finally! CJ is at the Vikes game, and mama and Keifer just had lunch, play time and now our girl is down for a nap. I can sit and reflect on our whirlwind of a week over Christmas in beautiful Mexico.

How can people not want to live there ( in Mexico)? I do. The weather is usually always perfect; slightly humid, but breezy from the ocean. Fresh melons and food galore (at the resorts).
Ahh, it is bliss.
One thing, though, traveling with a 20 month old who decides to get 2 of her 4 incisors during the trip is not always, well, relaxing. I was surprised when CJ made a comment to me on day 2 or 3: "I thought this would be more relaxing". Um, relaxing with a 20 month old who is curious and wants to be independent? I think not! HA!

Anyhoo, I'll break it down.

Packing: CJ and I were able to pack all our things into 1 suitcase each. For Keifer, we had 2 suitcases: one full of her clothes, etc., and another stacked with diapers, wipes, beach toys, books, and just a few toys that I thought she'd like. Wrong. Toys weren't really high on her list of things to do down there. She was more interested in finding out how the telephone worked in our room, or pushing her stroller around, or begging us to either "go swimmin'", or "go walkin". We over packed the toys, and honestly, I didn't think we brought that many. Same for books. We had a perfect number of diapers, swim diapers, and sunscreen, etc., so that was good.

Traveling: traveling to Mexico was great, even with a few speed bumps along the way. We left our house around 7AM, which is the same time Keifer and I leave for our daily commute to work and Elaine's anyways, so she was up and ready. She didn't enjoy being in her stroller (which was small, lightweight, and perfect for this trip!) in the ticketing line or the security line, which were both huge (as it was December 20), but she did OK once we got through the lines and let her roam a bit. We found my parents, brother and his friend Katie (who just turned 21 the day before) at the gate. Keifer was overjoyed to see her Papa and Nana, and played flirtatious, hard -to-get girl with her Uncle. We boarded with no problems, gate checked our stroller and ended up having an extra seat in between us (CJ and I) so we scored with letting Keifer sit in the seat with a seat belt. The downside: we had to wait about an hour for a connecting flight to land so 5 passengers could transfer to our plane (the weather was getting horrendous, MN ended up getting about 9 inches of snow that day). We all were nervous about getting out of MN at all, but after the hour, the people boarded. Then, we had to go through the de-icing process (the plane) which took another 45 minutes of waiting, and waiting, and well, waiting. I have to say, Keifer did a fantastic job on the plane. We had Elmo on CJ's Iphone, books, snacks, and we let her roam to see her Papa and Nana and Uncle and Katie. She napped on the way down for about an hour, spread out between CJ and I. We landed in Cancun, and there, waiting to go through customs, our girl got a bit ansty. I don't blame her. She barely ate "real" food for us, and was tired from a full day of traveling and waiting. We had another 45 minute trip in a shuttle van to our resort, but she did OK in that. Again, no car seat, but we buckled her in: she thought she was hot stuff. We just prayed for no accidents!

The hotel: The hotel was a dream. Last April, CJ and I had stayed at a Riu Resort, The Riu Palace Riveria Maya, and loved every bit of it. This time, we stayed at the Riu Playacar, which is just as nice, but smaller and sort of a step down from the hugeness of the Palace Riveria Maya. There are a total of 5 or 6 Riu resorts all within a few blocks from each other, and you can look at all of them, which CJ and I did with Keifer on one sunny morning (on one of our many "walking" trips). We really liked them all, and thought the Palace Riviera Maya was pretty much the same thing as the Palace Mexico, both having a very elegant feel to them and large properties and pools, but the Riu Tequila didn't have a beach front access (it is across the road). The Riu Yucatan was a bit more of the smaller version of a palace, yet bigger than the Playacar. We liked the Yucatan because there were monkeys in the trees right above you, which if you have children, is pretty awesome to see! I never saw anything in the listings about the monkeys in the trees, so that was a really cool surprise!

Overall, most of the all-inclusives down there are amazing, not just the Riu. I think it's all in what you want to spend, and what you expect from a trip like this. I heard some women complaining on the beach one day that our resort didn't have the cabana umbrella's for sunshades on the beach like another resort did. To me, that wasn't important, as there were a zillion trees with shade right up the beach from us, so why bitch and moan about something as little and petty as that? It's vacation. The only one thing I can think of that would've been nice would've been to have a bathtub for Keifer, as only the Palace resorts have them ( I found out). We are lucky Keifer likes showers, as that's all there was to bathe her.

The food was amazing. All -inclusive is the way to go at any resort, in my opinion. You get all the free food and drinks you want, anytime, all the time. There are a few select 'reservation" themed-dining restaurants at all the resorts, and this time, we only took advantage of one night of that, the Steak House. Keifer had a hard time staying up pat 6:30 or 7PM, especially after refusing naps on a few days, teething, and playing hard in the pool and in the sun all day. She passed out most nights on her tray of food, or in her Papa's arms, waiting for us to finish. CJ and I never enjoyed a full meal together- he was usually bringing her back to the room for bed. That was the one hard part- because dinner isn't started until 6:30 and the reservation restaurants don't start until 6:45 - with the food coming closer to 7:30 or so.

The workers bust their butts to work for you all.the.time. I've never experienced such service as CJ and I have the 3 times we've now been to Mexico resorts. They are always cleaning, and always friendly. Keifer made many friends, as she captivated most every worker who came across her path. By the end of the week, she was independently saying "hola' to them (smiles).

As for Keifer and having food to eat, it wasn't an issue. I asked the workers in the buffet restaurant where we ate all the time if I could take a box of milk back to my room (where there were fridges). No problem They gladly got me what I wanted, and we had no issues with the milk down there- it was pasteurized. We had plenty of foods to choose from all the time, and she had a variety of foods each and every day. However, she preferred the melons and the popcorn, which resulted in a few wet, runny poops on two separate days. Oye.

I loved the resort. They have entertainment for you every night, and the entertainment staff works hard during the day with a schedule of activities. On Christmas Day, they had a special Children's program, with all the workers dressed up like elves, dancing and singing. Then, they invited all the children in the audience up on stage to visit with Santa and get a "gift" from the resort. One of the "elves" took Keifer up, but she didn't want anything to do with it, so mama had to rescue her. We still got a bag for her, which contained the Santa hat, a bag of candy and a Riu Tshirt. How sweet.

My parents and Darren and Katie enjoyed Michael Jackson on Christmas Eve night. That was a hoot. So fun to see. CJ and I took advantage one day of the beach front massage tent. Ahh, pure heaven. Laying on a table, with the beach sounds in the air, the waves crashing, the breeze blowing and a massage worker working out all the knots and kinks from your travels and hard bedding (oh yeah, the beds? hard as rocks at every resort we've been to so far! LOL). There was also a Starbucks right across the street at the marketplace, which many people delighted in visiting ( ahh, I got to experience my favorite Chai tea lattes!)

The pools and beach area are amazing. Keifer loved the kiddie pool- all 2 feet of it. She would climb the ladder, jump into whoever was waiting's arms, and repeat the cycle. She wasn't too sure of the big pool, but enjoyed the swim up bar and requesting drinks, to the bartenders' delight. She and mama shared many pina coladas- complete with an orange garnish that she dipped in her drink. Many people commented on her adorable looks, her ability to sit and drink at the bar, and her MANY swimsuits -ahh yes. The swimsuits. We had 5 total with us, which we needed, as she would swim in the morning, then take off for lunch and nap. Not wanting to put a wet suit back on, we put her in a new dryer suit, which was just fine. It worked great!

Christmas Eve dinner was the most amazing dinner ever. They took reservations and had the whole resort eat in 2 separate shifts. They decorated the entire buffet with fruit and ice sculptures, and had every meat and seafood dish possible for eating. I was in hog heaven and felt like bursting when we left! I have pictures of the many fruit and ice sculptures and food, if anyone is interested. I found out, while waiting in line for the dessert choices, that many people there were Canadian, Midwesterners (Chicago, Minnesota), or European! At the pool, we met some kind London-ers, some Swedes, and some Italians. On our Tulum trip, my parents and I also met some more Canadians.
Here we are on Christmas Eve, as a family minus CJ. He had partaken in too many drinks the day and night before, so unfortunately, Christmas Eve was not enjoyed with my husband, or K's daddy. Hurmpf. Oh well, his sickness was his payment enough. That didn't stop us from enjoying our time eating and enjoying the company of each other.
The last day we were there, my parents and I visited Tulum which I had heard about, seen pictures of, but never really thought much of it. I am so glad I took this trip with them. It was bout an hour south on a bus of our resort, and was around $45. It was so worth it. We spent the first 45 minutes of the tour learning all about the ancient city of Tulum, the Mayans who created it, and all about the architecture and what it meant. Then we were free to roam. It was gorgeous. I am not one who gets all too into history, but I was fascinated by this tour and highly suggest you do it if ever in the area.

I came back to find CJ and a sick Keifer. She had diarrhea and was feverish. She had been teething all week (I'm sure much to the joy of our neighbors-- oh yeah, the walls aren't that thick and I know they could hear her crying "owie" every night, as we could hear them talking or coughing!!!). We weren't sure if the sickies were from teething or just an overabundance of fresh fruits and too much sun and pool action. Anyhoo, our girl and I and CJ strolled around the marketplace across the street from our resort and she was pretty quiet, much quieter than usual. She didn't make it to dinner that last night. Traveling home with her was a bit tougher, as she was exhausted and not feeling well. We made it home, and she was so glad to be home. It was so sweet to see her dancing and smiling and laughing when she was reunited with her puppers and her toys.


Piccinigirl said...

wow, beautiful pics, sounds like all in all you had a wonderful trip. You look great and happy and rested, I am glad you got this little reprieve before the year started again and you start making plans for the newest little Campbell to show!!!

Monkeymama said...

Your trip sounds like so much fun! You have a little fish on your hands. :)

butterflyanla said...

Seems like such a beautiful place. I never thought about going away for the holidays. Maybe the Hubs and I will go away fro the holidays next year. Thanks for leaving the nice comment. The sweater was knit from a pattern by Erika Knight.


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