Makinzy's first plane ride was a little turbulent, and using in-flight wifi, I was ferociously pecking away on my computer working on a grad school paper as we bounced through the air. Makinzy has mixed emotions about flying - the view and the excitement was a plus, but the nausea and the nerves... not so much! Haha. I always love flying, I just less-love the sicky feeling I sometimes get! She handled the airport like a champ, though. Our mock security checks and TSA drills at home had her going through it like she was a pro traveler. :)
We had a few hiccups on the way to our resort. We didn't buy transportation! We totally thought it was included in the package we bought. With a little Spanglish and some help from the travel agency, we forked over 200 bucks and got a private shuttle to our resort, round trip. It was a hefty unexpected cost, but totally a good price as it was round-trip, private (meaning no stops at five hundred other hotels or cramped seating) and the distance to our hotel was roughly an hour.
After we arrived, we checked out the resort. We had booked "Barcelo Maya Beach & Caribe" without knowing what we had actually done was book 1 hotel (Maya Beach) at a resort that boasts four, well, five, hotels within it. No wonder we didn't know which one to tell the driver to take us to!
As you can see from the map, Maya Beach is on the end. To the left, you can go to all the other hotels and use their amenities, with the exception of the Maya Palace Deluxe (purple), which is separated and isn't included. We stayed in the furthest blue section to the left, so we were right near the buffet, the lobby, the teatro, etc. Beach & Caribe backed up to each other and shared the theater, and a pretty splash area. The pools are sprawling, so you just had to walk towards the sea and, bam, there's a pool. Similarly, Tropical and Colonial shared a theater and the buffet/lobbies were close. The big yellow sections are those. In between the four main hotels, right between Caribe and Colonial was the Maya Mall, a large, open air mall with a bowling alley and arcade, a sports bar, a bunch of shops and stores, a few restaurants, and more. Also, there was a putt-putt course and the Plaza Mexicana, another open air mall that features local artisans selling their wares. Also in this middle section is a water park (the largest of several), the wave maker called Flowrider, the spas, and the Dolphinarius pools where you can swim with the dolphins. So much to explore.
When we arrived, we were famished. I wanted to ditch our stuff and find food. Unfortunately, our room wasn't going to be ready until 3. But really, it wasn't an issue at all. They took care of our stuff and sent us on our way to the buffet where I had a steak and a margarita ready for me. Happy girl, I was. By the time we did a little exploring, during which Makinzy walked around with her mouth drooped open in awe and excitement, the room was ready, and we hit the pools. There are so many pools. The areas near the swim up bars seemed more for the young folks (I am freaking 27 and here I am talking about those young folks like I am an old geezer and they're a bunch of drunk whippersnappers I'm tsk-tsk-tsking... haha...) so we found the next one with the water playground to be the right spot for families. We did some beach time too.
So here's the summary of our adventures:
Monday: 7-ll/Starbuck stop, Check-in, chill out, pool time, exploring, checking out the theater shows and crashing!
Tuesday: Beach time and lagoon diving near Xpu-ha (being brave adventurers), water park #1 where I skinned my back going down the slide and the lifeguard reminds me I'm an adult, visiting the dolphins, and more beach time! This was probably my favorite day because of all the wonder on Mak's face. She had never seen water so beautiful, so deep and clear, and we dove in like nomad explorers, like pirates washed up in some uninhabited lagoon!
Thursday: We used our coupons (certain travel companies include these %off of the resort extras) and went to the biggest water park, and spent most of the day there, where we all three went down the slides. Mak even tried out the Flowrider thing where she got to buggieboard on the waves. We hit the beach a little. We had family portraits made that evening, and then went to dinner. We changed into comfy clothes and went to the nightly show!
Friday: Probably one of the most memorable days, definitely my second fav. We got up early for a tour- a trip snorkeling with sea turtles at Akumal Beach! This was the exact same spot where Jake swam into the water with our camera on our honeymoon. I mean. the. same. place. We saw two adult sea turtles, two babies, and two manta rays. They were SO COOL. We ate a snack they provided and loaded back up, only to find out there was more to the trip - a cenote visit! We drove 15 minutes in the cramped van down the bumpest road (but the people were all uber-nice, especially a couple from London... Mak nearly LOST it when she asked about my middle school kids "aren't they a bit naughty?") and we went to Cenote Carocol near the Ecopark Labnaha, which is not open anymore, but used more as a nature preserve now. We went into the jungle, explored caves, and then came to the underground cenote where we snorkeled in an underground cave in wetsuits. It was unbelievable. I didn't take my camera underground, so here's some examples of what the place looked like. We ended the day with pool naps, putt-putt, and Coke Light and cheese sticks, then dinner and a show!
Saturday: Our excursion included transportation to a few stores and Playa Del Carmen, we went Saturday morning. We first were taken to a jewelry, leather, and tapestry shop, then to a tequila and coffee store where Mak and I held a monkey named Tim, I kid you not. We also saw coffee roasted and bought some Chiapas beans! Then, they took us to Playa. We got to visit Starbucks, shop 5th Ave., Mak got her hair braided, visited the beach and watched ferries to Cozumel and Isla Mujeres, and got gelato. We also got some Sol (well, dad and I did, teehee) and saw a wedding parade. We almost missed the van back. The driver was rocking out to some old school American pop and hiphop (think old Lady Gaga and Eminem), to which Mak and I did the macarena. I mean, como se dice I know you have no idea but this song isn't appropriate for kids? So we made the best of it. When we made it back, we got lunch and hit the beach. I drooled on myself during my beach nap. We dressed for dinner, got our pictures back, and hit the hay early.
Sunday: We got up WAYY early, told the beach goodbye, and met our transportation. We got to the airport and made a quick Starbucks stop. Mak didn't feel great, but I think it was a combo of airplane nerves, sadness, and up so early! She was better by the time we got on the plane. Our flight was much less turbulent, but our flight attendants were technology nazis so we couldn't get online or such for most of the flight. We landed in Charlotte, and were picked up by Jake's parents.
I really want to go back.
Like, can I be deported?
I got to check Facebook on the Wifi ever-so-often, and my feed was full of rainbow and rebel flag controversy, political spats, whining, and bleh. I thought, you know, here the only flag people worry about is whether or not the dive flag is up! I know Mexico ain't perfect (that whole corrupt government and drug cartel business is a downer), but dang. I don't see why illegal immigration isn't all the Americans sneaking over the border. I wouldn't have said that five years ago. I try to be proud to be an American, but I find it is increasingly hard to do so.
Anyways, without getting too far off track there, it is safe to say it was a wonderful trip, and I wish it lasted longer. Way longer.
Mexico will forever hold a piece of my heart. We made some WONDERFUL family memories, and the laughs and wonder coming from Makinzy made it so much more perfect.