I’ve always wanted to see Mayan ruins of some shape or size. I also want to see all the Seven Wonders of the world (new and old). And in the middle of pandemic lock down last year, I saw an ad for 3 days in Mexico and I thought to myself, “I’d sure love to go to a nice beach right now.” So I purchased the package for a whole $150 and thought, “Worst case scenario I’m out $150 dollars, but it was a nice dream of beaches.”
Well, I luckily wasn’t out $150 and ended up staying 6 days and nights on the Mayan Riviera with my good friend Emi enjoying the beach, a giant resort, and seeing many a Mayan ruin in August of 2021. As things now “open up” again we begin to live with COVID 19 as a global reality, including crossing international borders and travel.
Mexico is one of those places that I always figured I’d get to, because its right there, south of the United States. Its relatively easy to get to – and Cancun, Tulum, Mayan Riviera etc. are popular tourist destinations that everyone ends up at at some point in their life, right? That was the before times. When 2020 happened and international travel pretty much shut down, I started exploring the United States like there was no tomorrow – because travel is an essential aspect of my self-care, and perhaps there was no tomorrow. My dreams of traveling outside the borders of the United States became a lot less ambitious. I literally just wanted to go somewhere, anywhere, wherever they would let me in. February of 2020 I went to Toronto for a one day class about Wicca, and remember dancing around a table with herbs and crystals celebrating the element of Earth. And then literally two weeks later Seattle was in lockdown, and the world was going to hell in a hand basket. My trip to Paris was cancelled, my trip to Hungary was cancelled, my return to Burning Man as the spiritual advisor for a theme camp was cancelled – everything was cancelled – so as I sat in my yellow chair in my living room in the beginning of May 2020, I just was happy to have a simple dream of beaches in 12 to 18 months.
By June of 2020 I was really over sitting still so I drove to the Midwest to see my family, then I drove to the Southwest with a friend just to see pretty stuff and things outside, then I flew to Phoenix and literally sat by a swimming pool for a week, then I spent months going within to find myself by going nowhere. (See all the previous blog posts on this newly upgraded website). And finally in June of 2021 I started all over again and drove to the Midwest to see friends and family – so that from the middle I could travel many places – including to the Vidante Mayan Riviera resort located between Cancun and Playa del Carmen on the Yucatan peninsula.
When booking these dates as a certainty I had the “special opportunity” to add days on the resort PLUS upgrade to a room with a deck and a private wading pool for just $300 more. I of course said yes, and was very excited about having a private pool on my deck. I daydreamed about that pool and all of the virgin dairy free pina coladas I would drink there. Except nothing is free – and the very nice sales lady at Vacation VIP did warn me about the time share sales people. She simply said “do not engage, and they will leave you alone. But god help you if you accept any offer.“ Noted. We were to avoid the Men and Women in Black at all costs. Let them hunt for people willing to be suckered into investing in the property – not me. It was important to set expectations before going in.
On day one – I arrived in Cancun flying first class and arrived many hours before check-in and before Emi’s flight from Seattle landed. I walked through the very lax customs line where they stamped my passport faster than I could say “vacation”, and wandered through a sea of taxi services, sales services and who knows what services. I searched through the tumultuous surf of vacation services seeking out the hot pink shirts pictured on my shuttle voucher – so I could get out of this sea as soon as possible. I found them! Nope. “You need the other pink shirt. Gracias.” Great – so I stood at the meeting corral and watched other Americans queue for $9 beers and $15 margaritas from the airport stand as entertainment.
I eventually got to Vidante after watching my shuttle driver bob and weave between the cars on the highway with great curiosity. And that is where I learned what the catch to my “perfect vacation package” was. Upgrades are actually really hard to come by, they need to be worked for, not just purchased. I checked in and was showed to my room at the Mayan Palace (sounds pretty royal right?) and the first thing I noticed is that it was small, did not have a full kitchen and was missing my deck with a wading pool. So I inquired on whether this was a temporary room, as my room had a deck and wading pool. The bellhop looked at me very confused – “there is no deck with pools in this building Senora. That is the Grand Mayan.” He said.
Oh hell no! I did not get mad at my very transparent and helpful staff member. I said instead – “Well, I should be staying at the Grand Mayan then. Let’s go talk to the front desk, this is not the room I paid for.” So began the multi-hour slog to get “upgraded” to my original reservation.
In my process, I got to know a lovely woman named Tami at Vacation VIP in Florida very well. She called me Hun, we laughed, we cried, and I spent a lot of time repeating myself in very polite English/Spanish about how “yes, the reservation says Mayan Palace, but its wrong I paid for a deck with a private wading pool on it at the Grand Mayan. How do we work together to solve this challenge?” Finally, I believe I was labeled some sort of demanding but extremely polite problem guest and so they magickally found an upgrade for me beyond the Grand Mayan to the Grand Luxx including access to the Vidante beach club and all of the other high end amenities of the resort I had no idea I didn’t have access to before. This was perfect. A real win-win. I was happy, and they didn’t have to deal with me anymore. Emi arrived just as it was all sorted and we were ready to check in to our room. Meanwhile, somewhere in the middle of this the timeshare sales people were alerted to apparently leave me the fuck alone. As we were never approached by anyone – as I was obviously a dead end when it came to any type of pressure sales tactic. Yay!
So day one at the resort involved 4 hours of check in. But after we saw the beaches, the restaurants and our room – all of this adversity was forgotten – quickly.
The moon was shining, the ocean smelled of sea salt and we were vacationing in Mexico on a giant plush resort filled with exceptionally nice people.
There was so much to be grateful for! I successfully crossed an international border for the first time in 18 months, we had a huge apartment, the beach club was posh, and there were more restaurants than we could even begin to eat at. We used the first full day on resort to decompress, enjoy the amenities of the 1000 plus acres, and to book our trips off resort to see Mayan ruins. I had a one track mind or all ruins all the time or beach, but Emi did talk me into a snorkeling adventure on a catamaran. It was going to be a Grand Mayan adventure.