12/24 - Wednesday
We are sitting on the plane in Salt Lake City getting ready for take off. It was an eventful morning. Alyssa said she thought we should leave by noon. Since our flight didn't leave until 3:18, I thought leaving by 1pm would be soon enough. Alyssa prevailed thankfully because we had to go to the bank, and ended up forgetting my medicine. Of course we had to return to the house to get that. Finally, we were on the road. As we drove down Timpanogos Highway, someone in an adjacent car alerted us to the fact that our back tire was low and needed air. We stopped at the Thanksgiving Point Maverick station and got air, then continued up to the airport. Alyssa drove so mom could rest. Meanwhile, Amy got Gma's wheelchair down to Steven's and made preparations to stay at Camilla's home before their flight tomorrow.
Our group is headed to LAX where we have a layover before we continue on to Mexico City. We are sitting in one long row. Emily is next to the window with Linda on her right. I come next and then the isle. Melanie is sitting across the isle and Alyssa is to her right. Jerimiah is at the far right and next to the window. Reading, sleeping, eating, and listening to tunes. For a number of years we had talked to the children at Christmas time and presented the idea "would you like to travel somewhere for Christmas?" they always declined, until last year. More of the children were married now and the only child home with me and Linda was Emily, so they said next year they indeed wanted to travel. It just so happened that this year all of the married children were spending this Christmas with us, so we started making plans.
At first, I began looking all over the Internet at our options. We considered California, discussed San Diego, and even checked into the baja, but nothing stood out supreme. Our search lead us to homeaway.com, where we looked at lots of great destinations. Everybody agreed that we should go someplace warm. I kept looking. In the meantime, I instructed everyone to talk with their employers and get Christmas through New Years off. I thought we know the timeframe of the trip even if we don't know the destination. "Get the holidays off, then we'll figure out where we are going." About June I happened to be reviewing great destinations on the homeaway site. So many looked really good. One in particular villa that I found had super reviews--straight 5s--and it looked really good. I called the owner, Terri, to check on its availability, and it turns out that it was still available. When we explained that wanted it for a week including both Christmas and New Years, she said that they normally rent it for two occasions during the holidays, but if we wanted to take it for ten days, we could have both holidays. I said that we would take it and she agreed to send us the contract and more detailed information. I must have known more than I remember now, but it turns to to be right on the beach in Cancun with four bedrooms, two living rooms, two kitchens, and a private access to our own beach. I can hardly believe it all worked out so well. When I begin typing these details, I can hardly believe how this all came together.
When I arranged for the flights, I happened to get them in two different groups, the first group leaving Christmas Eve, and the second group leaving on Christmas day. So by 3pm tomorrow, we will all be in Cancun Mexico for Christmas.
We arrived at LAX and had dinner at a place called lemonade. It was recommended by Caitlin. Melanie told us about it, and it turned out to be great. Then we walked down to terminal 2 to wait for our plane. When we arrived at our gate there was essentially no one there; a few lone bodies but that was it. We still had a few hours to wait. The kids played cards and charged their cell phones. Before long people began coming and sitting in the seats to await boarding. They were mostly hispanics and now every seat is filled with young and o,d on their way to Mexico City. We still have an hour or two before we board,so the kids continue to play cards. I am listening to music while I type this. Mostly Steven's songs. I can't help but smile as I listen to them.
It's cold in this airport. Funny. Probably warmer outside. I am so glad I brought a jacket. All the seats are filled and now people's are beginning to sit around the floor--we still have an hour before we begin boarding. It's great. This is the best.
Re-read the packet from Terri regarding the villa and Cancun. Shared a few texts with Steven. We just re-verified our passports with the gate attendants. Every person waiting for this flight and all those working are Hispanics. It feels like we are already in Mexico. This is so cool.
12/25 day 1 in Cancun - Thursday
Went through customs. Dropped our luggage off at connections. And now we are waiting for the next flight to Cancun, which leaves at 7:25 and is in the air for 2 hours. We arrive at 10:20 this morning.
It's amazing how cool it is at the airport in Mexico. Luckily, we got blankets on the last flight, which helped. For the most part everyone is resting: Linda and Melanie are resting on Emily's lap, and Emily in turn is laying on mom's back. Jeremiah and Alyssa are laying on the floor, covered with a blanket. All our technology is plugged in a charging station, which are plentiful here. I feel liken I need to stay awake, so somebody doesn't walk off with someone's phone. The airport is still a hopping place even at this time in the morning. All announcements, speaking, and written dialogue are in Spanish now.
I met Abraham while we were waiting in Mexico City. He is a firefighter from California coming to stay with his mom in Mexico for a couple years. Nice man talkative and friendly. When we caught our flight, the plane was delayed some, but we finally got going and we are about to land in Cancun.
Welcome to Cancun. Beautiful. Warm. And thats before leaving the airport. After getting through multiple solicitations for taxi rides, car rentals, and shuttle services, we finally got a good taxi driver to take us to the hotel Sylomar. We found our villa right on the beach, and Doris was inside preparing lunch. After checking the rooms and unpacking, we sat down for a delicious meal on our private veranda.: chile rellenos, fresh guacamole, hot sauce and chips served with a fresh, large green salad. She has prepared the meal for the next group and it is in the fridge or oven. Linda, Melanie, and Emily are resting on chase lounges, then going for a walk. The beach is superb. Blue water and fairly large waves. I am sitting here in disbelief that this turned out so well. Our veranda is private with large green plants surrounding it and quaint mexican history pots and rock work. It's cloudy today, so we aren't threatened by the sun and sunburning. How sweet it is.
10:30pm Christmas Day
Nick and Camilla, Steven and Carly, Amy and Gma all arrived shortly after lunch. Doris served chile rellenos, rice, chips and salsa, and toss green salad with an orange drink and water for lunch. It was delicious. It was plenty to eat and extremely delicious. She placed the second parties in the fridge which we heat up for them when they came home. The heat feels so good.
We have plenty of room and beds, but there was some talk about who was going to get the pent house suite. Plus Jerimiah and Alyssa are already occupying a second suite with bath. They all had a rock-paper-scissor to see who got the penthouse. Alyssa won twic
Camilla said our evening family prayer.
12/26 day 2 in Cancun - Friday
I got up early or slept in depending on hr point of view. haha Jerimiah and Alyssa were out exercising...lifting weights and jumping rope. Nick went fishing. I walked up and down nthe beach and around the grounds of the hotel right next to us. People are getting up now slowly, and there is a generally feeling of happiness and relaxation.
Doris is here this morning qand she is beginning to prepare breakfast. I have to brush up on my Spanish. Steven will be up soon. I need to find my jump rope this morning and brush up on my Spanish.
Today's activities began with a delicious breakfast. We had eggs and toast withe salsa and fresh fruit, including papaya, mango, cantaloupe, and grapes. Then the family went swimming in the ocean. The waves were enormous. Body surfing, swimming soaking, and splashing. Rain came early and the wind was blowing, but soon it cleared some and the day turned out Ivey nice, but not too hot. Afterward the children came back in and rested before lunch. We had chicken, vegetables, and green salad for lunch. Then we took the bus into town to do a Walmart stop. Grandma came and we took her in the wheelchair. The bus to town was very full. We made a Walmart run, two really, got some fresh corn from a street vendor, and caught the bus back to the hotel.
Had some dinner, visited with Camie and Nick, and now we are playing games and watching MMA. Scum till 2am.
12/27 day 3 in Cancun - Saturday
It rained this morning again, but soon blew over. Camie and Nick went fishing and Nick caught a small yellowtail fish. We had a delicious breakfast of omelettes with ham and cheese and fresh fruits.
We are probably headed to Market 28 today, and I am not sure exactly what. The youngins headed out to the beach, just steps from our villa to play in the sand both volleyball and soccer with the ball that we purchased from Walmart last night. We walked up to the pools and laid out on the lounges. Sun began getting hot so we came back to the villa and are reading and playing. We saw two Kimono dragons or iguanas on the way back to the villa.
Linda has been hinting toward Xelha...we need to make a plan for that.
Soccer and volleyball on the beach. Terri called this morning to check in and make sure we are doing well and have no issues.
We went down to the ocean and then over to pool. Now we are upstairs playing UNO and reading. I began reading an interesting book about bio-ownership and privacy rights, something like the infinite life of Janet Livin, or something like that.
Doris is making lunch.
We went to Market 28 and did some shopping. Linda got a spoon and some vanilla for Simmons and Merritts. Then we made a Walmart run on the bus. Lots of walking. We just got back. Like usual we bought corn from a street vendor and shared corn on our ride home in the bus. Now we put away our groceries, and I think we will play some games before bed.
Steven watched Ultimate Fighting or USD documentary on Netflix.
12/28 day 4 in Cancun - Sunday
This morning we got up without an objective. I suppose because it was Sunday, but we didn't make a lot of plans for things to do. We have a list of activities to do and places to see, but without a plan we slept in. Steven and Carly had said they were planning to attend a sacrament meeting, but we waited too late in the day to attend the early morning meetings and were looking for a later meeting. it turns out Carly wasn't feeling well, so we decided to find out the details for next week and do church then.
Others in the family began talking about an outing for the day, but because mid-morning was already here, a big plan for the day was late in starting.
We discussed briefly a tip for Doris. Steven brought it up, and I agree that we should tip her well. Steven in his characteristic, friendly way spoke with Doris about whether she would like a tip during our stay or all at the end. I think she said all at the end would be fine. Steven is thoughtful about things like that trying to help. He asked her if she normally received a tip, and she said sometimes she gets a good tip and other times not so much. He asked what a good tip would be, and she said something like $200. She deserves much more than that. She has been a highlight for this experience. I wish I spoke Spanish, so I could communicate with her well. I am thinking that we should getter a gift and help pay the bus rides for her this week.
So crowded around the table and discussed what we should do. While we were sitting there, Doris brought out a plate of [roots], oranges, apple slices and two different sauces to dip them in. They were delicious, and I am glad steven speaks Spanish so he can express our thanks and appreciation articulately.
So we decided to walk down the beach to the CANCUN sign for photographs. There is an abandoned hotel down the beach a short walk from our villa. The structure is all there, but the windows and touch ups are incomplete. It looks like the builder ran out of money or something. Kind of surprised somebody has come by and finished it or at least purchased the land. We reached the famous beach with the sign. We waited our turn and then took a picture of all the family behind the CANCUN sign. It was great, and we got several shots. A young man there took our picture and wanted to sell it to us. We purchased it and will likely use it as our New Years card. When our turn was complete, we went to a nearby park that had weight training equipment and tried out the various apparatus. It was time for lunch, so we retuned home by walking on the sandy beach, washing our feet under the shower at our villa and gathering around the tables for our delicious lunch.
I would like to pull Doris aside and get to know her, perhaps write a little bio about her.
We made some calls regarding getting transportation to and from Xel-ha today but weren't able to finalize arrangements, so we may delay Xel-ha to Wednesday. Well see how the morning goes. Mom wanted to take a walk, so she and I began walking around the grounds. We got some ice from the bar and took it to Nick and Camilla's room. Nick made [margarita] for us...
We often find our selves sitting around the table admiring the assortment of masks on the wall and discussing which mask is unique to each person. It brings laughter, fun, appreciation, and hours of fond memories as does all the care and artistry for the attractive decorations of this Mexican experience.
The evening concluded with more card games, visiting, and a video.
Idea of providing a story of the villa and capturing the experience in written form for the guests. Bio of Doris. Pictures. Good ideas for pictures. Things to do in this area. Guest book.