27 May, 2008

Mexico - First Impressions

So dragging our rifled luggage, we wade our way through a veritable sea of people attempting to court our attention (others around us, not so wiley, falling prey) until finally we spot someone in a blue shirt (airport staff) who direct us to the salida (exit), where we find about 20 people in our travel agents colours. Normally one would expect to find only a small handful, but in this case each couple/family who emerge were swiftly allocated their own guide (to stop too many people being collared by private taxi firms or car hire companies in their early bafflement) -
Mexico #17
- and, trying out my first few words in Spanish with our guide (quickly being corrected as I was incorrectly using the masculine when speaking to a woman ("Poco" instead of "Pocalina")...whoops!) we were ushered (safely) to our coach -
Mexico #18
- so first impressions of Mexico? Very hot, very humid (like spending all day in a butterfly house), a little intimidating, a little confusing...The coach slowly filled up as *most* people managed to evade the vultures and then we pulled away, almost immediately joining what I can only describe as a "freeway", the strong flavour of Spain that was most obvious at the airport here revealed itself to have an overriding aftertaste of the USA - we passed McDonalds, Seven-Eleven, Dominos, the vehicles on the road badged with Dodge, Ford, recycled American school buses and classic 18-Wheelers...the roads themselves, well, let's just say the Mexicans could have taught the Romans a thing or two...mile after mile and absolutely ruler-straight, you come to an intersection, peer to the right or left, and at 90 degree angles off the joining streets and avenues disappear to the horizon...the only real difference is that every couple of kilometres everything grinds to a halt when meeting a (clearly signposted) "interrupción de la velocidad" (or "speed bump" as they turned out to be) - people here, it is explained, do not like to obey the speed limit, so it is forced upon them...

We are the second drop off, on the bus for about an hour I suppose, passing the local town (Playa del Carmen) just before we pull off into a maze of winding roads (a place of stark contrasts then) that finally reveals reception to our hotel -
Mexico #19
- which is just *staggeringly* huge -
Mexico #54
Mexico #51
- we checked in, got strapped into our "all inclusive" wrist bands and were offered a choice of rooms (nice) but not having any bearings we decided to just check out the one they had chosen for us, were then shown on a map where to go (only about a five minute walk from reception, apparently), which in execution proved to be a winding jungle trail(!) -
Mexico #49
- through which we emerged next to an incredible pool complex -
Mexico #62
- next to which was our block, so we dumped our stuff, freshened up a little and then discovered one of the slightly annoying things about being here -
Mexico #25
- the minute you step out of the air-conditioned room your camera invariably fogs up...and then remains that way for about the next 40 minutes (no matter what you do with your lens cloth), what a pain...anyway, we popped out for a spot of dinner in "Le Buffet" (the main restaurant) -
Mexico #22
- which I will cover in more detail in a later post but had a baffling array of offerings, really incredible, and then participated in a bit of the show in the main theatre -
Mexico #85
- (rudely interrupted when a group of Americans started screaming and scattering when they discovered a scorpion trying to join them in the audience) -
Mexico #86
- the show itself mostly involved a group of young ladies (one Brit, one Mexican and two Americans) - competing to become "Queen of the hotel" by running through the audience collecting items of mens clothing from the audience (against the clock) -
Mexico #87
- causing absolute chaos when the show came to an end (everyone trying to find their flip-flops and t-shirts on the stage)...a bit cheesy but it was amusing enough (certainly seen a lot worse!)...anyway, we enjoyed a few drinks at the bar and then returned to our room to find a nice welcome present from the hotel on our table -
Mexico #24
- and then attempted to get to sleep (which should have been easy enough with the extra long day we had enjoyed) only to be woken up at 4am by a load of Americans on their last night yelling at the top of their voices and running up and down the stairs outside our room...rather annoying...so we vowed to move rooms, even if only to get away from the staircase! Sleep came again (finally) and we awoke the next morning to blazing sunshine, welcome meeting to come... ;)

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