Saturday, March 5, 2011

Of Pelicans and Palms - February 5, 2011

Life takes on different hue when the movement that catches your eye through the window of the health club is a low flying pelican. Startled out of my exercise reverie, I take stock of the turquoise blue of the Mexican Caribbean, and the fact that I need to peek at it around the cluster of palm tree tops outside this upstairs, beautifully air-conditioned tribute to modern machinery.  I think briefly of the snow clogged roads, scraping sounds of large plows, and frustratingly permanent icicles that hang from cars back home. We have returned to the Grand Mayan resort in the Riviera Maya after a year’s absence. My husband and I like to stroll the property when we first arrive and make note of the changes that have cropped up in our absence. We comment on a new sculpture in a fountain, changes to the layout of the gift store, and how the jungle has grown since we first starting coming here in 2006. One of the massive Grand Mayan structures is now virtually obscured by the tropical growth and we idly wonder what they will do when it disappears behind the large stately palms.

 Escaping the winter as we have on this trip, our priority is to rest and recuperate after a fairly grueling year in 2010. Thus we don't feel much of a pressing urge to travel to the ruins of Coba, Tulum and Chichen Itza since we have visited - in some cases on multiple occasions. We are disappointed to find that the Mayan Sanctuary (the pool and gardens for guests of the Grand Mayan - see my blog from December 2009 for images) has less of a sanctuary feel than before, since the resort has relaxed its stance with regard to allowing folks staying at the Mayan Palace (who would normally use those pools) to use the Sanctuary. The other piece of disappointing news this year is that they have changed the happy hour rules, and rather than a 2-for-1 drink, you get instead a 'supersized' drink (now, how american is that?) These two changes did indeed lessen theamount of time we spent poolside, and instead we ventured out to explore other blue horizons.

View from the UltraMar on the way to Isla Mujeres
We returned to Isla Mujeres on this trip since the last time we had gone it was July and incredibly hot. Strolling the short distance from the dock to the Playa Norte, we investigated the choices for lunch. We had promised ourselves ceviche and cold beer with our feet in the sand, and this was an easy need to accommodate, given the plethora of restaurants right on the beach. In the end we chose Sunset Grill (does that sound like a Mexican name to you?) not only because the sand is silky and use of the lounge chairs and umbrella is free if you eat lunch there, but possibly also because of a prominent sign that advertised a bucket of cerveza for 160 pesos J

As the lazy afternoon slipped by, punctuated with dips in the crystalline waters and the arrival of (fairly mediocre) ceviche and fish soft tacos, we observed the gathering of very large and very dark clouds on the horizon. It was a casual and fairly distant observation (more clinical than personal), as the waitress assured us that the storm would not come ‘ahorita’ but that it would undoubtedly rain … at some point in the future.

And thus one learns that people who live on an island, and scan the sky daily for the arrival of the rare rain event ... can be wrong. Starting with large wet drops that soon built to a tropical downpour, it rained and rained as we walked back to the ferry dock. Since we were salty from swimming, and still warm from having baked in the sun, the rain did not deter us, especially since we had bathing suits under our T-shirts and plastic flip-flops on our feet. Walking the now deserted pedestrian street, we stopped occasionally in the storefronts to look more closely at the vast array of  Tallavera plates, and inquire as to prices. Perhaps because of the diminished crowds, or the knowledge that continued rain would soon bringing an early closing of the store, we got a terrific bargain on a gorgeous plate which I happily tucked away in my backpack, and now graces our kitchen wall as part of our plate collection.

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