Friday, February 29, 2008

Pet Peeves

In today's paper, there was a list of some guy's pet peeves and I just had to reprint them here (without permission, of course):
My Pet Peeves by Dan Liebert
  • When my opera cape gets caught on homeless people's junk

  • Bad art in motel rooms, especially bad performance art

  • When a can of cheap peas says "Pea Color and Size May Vary" and inside there's just one giant blue pea

  • Barbecue restaurants with happy pigs on the sign

  • Those foreign guys on the subway who pretend to read newspapers written in gibberish

  • I've been all over the world and have lived among every kind of culture and I can say, without any hesitations, that the most ignorant, rude, selfish, and self-centered people on Earth are babies

To that list, I'll add a few of my own:
  • When people offer a blessing on some high-fat, high-sugar dessert and say "bless this food that it will nourish and strengthen our bodies"... unless you expect the dessert to transform into carrots or tofu, you might want to skip that part of the rote prayer.

  • All the people who make American Idol the top-rated show on TV

  • People who use the verb "believe" to describe their opinion on evolution or global warming. If you don't "believe" in gravity, what would happen? Yep, you guessed it, GRAVITY would still be holding you to the earth. (Which reminds me of a story my grandmother told me about a man on a tour my grandparents were on in Switzerland who, when asked if he wanted to see the glaciers on the Alps, responded, "I don't believe in glaciers.")

  • People who read my blog but never leave comments. What's up with THAT?!? I need feedback, people... unless you're withholding comments in an attempt at quality control. (You aren't, are you?)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Getting high

I can't believe how much I've had to paint in the past week. Four rooms, and one of those rooms getting FIVE coats of paint!!! (Although three of those coats were the wrong color.) Anyway, I knew I was getting a few too many paint fumes when I stood up after squatting down to paint near the floor and when I stood up, I started seeing stars--and they kept circling in front of my eyes for more than a minute! That "Flour Sack White" just killed some of my brain cells! And I think it destroyed the neurons that stored The Thirteen Articles of Faith because I can't remember a single one.

After all that exposure, I've become desensitized. I guess I'll have to move up to something harder to get a fix--like wood filler putty.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

And this is why I'm losing my hair

Well, yesterday the bathroom flooring was installed. Leading up to this, we agonized over the color, finally deciding on "Pale Sage" from Restoration Hardware. Before the flooring was installed, it looked great. Afterward... not so much. You know how sometimes if something is just a LITTLE bit off, it looks more terrible than if it were a LOT off... like Hillary Swank? Well, that's what happened when we went into the room right after the installation. The sage color turned out to be more blue, which clashed with the walls. Since the vanity and cabinet are being installed tomorrow, and I was too lazy to trim out the new cabinets, yet too anally retentive to let it slide, I only had last night and today to repaint it a matching color.

So, for about the 1,350th mile driven between our house and Home Depot, I took our flooring sample, a Martha Stewart "Designing with Color" book, and the Restoration Hardware swatch to use for comparison. After at least a 1/2-hour deliberation, between "Relaxing Green" and "Shimmer." (And WHO comes up with these names?!? One of the ones we saw recently was "Mystic Unicorn." If you couldn't see the swatch, you would have no idea what color that might be.) I finally settled on "Relaxing Green" hoping that the name would bring me some measure of relaxation over having to shell out ANOTHER $30 for a gallon of bathroom paint. I got it home and I wasn't even halfway done before I realized that this color was horribly wrong. Thinking that maybe I just needed to see the completed room, I gritted my teeth and pressed on, getting more and more agitated. When I was finally finished, I could hardly stand to look at it. I have no idea how someone whose JOB it is to determine printing colors could get it so wrong. The color turned out to look more like the weird turquoise from Baskin Robbins' "Daiquiri Ice" ice cream! I stewed all night and am now faced with the prospect of shelling out ANOTHER $30 for ANOTHER gallon of paint. $90 will hopefully be the charm.

In an effort to find color ideas that matched our flooring and the marble countertop, I googled "carrara marble shade of green" and found a blog with the perfect shade of green (at least in the online photo). It was on a home restoration blog that dealt with a guy restoring an old home. He listed the specific paint names he used in his other projects, so I thought, "SCORE!" Alas, the perfect color he used consisted of some leftover light green mixed into some leftover dark green he had. DENIED!

At this point, white walls are looking pretty good!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Gone with the Wind

Check out this cabin in Norway. Its roof is literally gone with the wind. It's so remote that the only way to get to it is a two-hour ski trek, so it's not as if someone came by and stole it, in fact the materials were helicoptered in when it was built. After a skier who had passed it contacted him to let him know that the roof was missing, the guy went to see for himself. Yikes! You can read the entire story here.

While not so extreme as a missing roof, our remodel project is slowly driving us insane. It took us almost three weeks to come up with the colors we liked. I think it's the curse of graphic designers, who have the ability to make microadjustments to color values, hues, and shade at the click of a mouse. Committing to a wall color and, after hours of work, realize that the shade is just a TAD too dark is enough to send me over the edge!

Friday, February 15, 2008

¡Viva Mexico! Day Eight: The Startling Conclusion

Well, we've finally reached the end of our Mexican vacation recap. Since our flight left Cancun at 3 pm, we decided to use the morning to, what else, sit next to the pool! It was a complete bummer, though, to have to pack up and prepare to leave. It's surprisingly easy to get used to only having to worry about where you're going to go out to eat for lunch and dinner, if you have enough sunscreen on, and whether you should swim in the ocean or the pool that day. But alas, since we haven't won the lottery (despite numerous attempts), we don't have the luxury of that lifestyle for more than a week at a time.

Anyway, the last bit of sunning ourselves was time well spent. We were even more frantic to absorb as much ultraviolet radiation than we were the day before. And if you look closely at this picture, you can see that I even got to sport my new Mormon Hawaii swim trunks which made Will want a pair even more. (And they were a vast improvement over a pair of 1950's swim trunks I found at a vintage clothing store that look cool and all, but were made before modern... umm... containment technologies. I was constantly having to be careful how I sat down or got out of the pool, and fortunately the only person I accidentally flashed was Margaret... at least she was the only one who said anything. And after how oblivious people were to the couple HAVING SEX in the pool, I'm sure they didn't notice.)

Finally the appointed hour arrived and we cleaned up and boarded a taxi to the airport. This picture shows us smiling, but rest assured we were crying on the inside. We got to Cancun with plenty of time to spare so we ended up browsing all the shops for last-minute trinkets and smelling all the authentic Mexican American chain restaurant food and getting progressively hungrier and hungrier. Finally I couldn't stand it any longer and broke down and bought a "Family size" pizza at Domino's Pizza (although in America we usually don't call a 14" pizza "Family Size." We call it a "Personal Mini Pizza"). The pizza and two medium pops cost 224 pesos... $22!!! I guess they could charge whatever they wanted... we were captives at the airport with a four-hour flight offering only pretzels to look forward to.

Eventually our flight boarded and, as the doors were sealed, I proclaimed to everyone in the group, "It is finished!"

Thursday, February 14, 2008

¡Viva Mexico! Day Seven: (Continued)

Last night I realized that I'd forgotten three other things on our pool day. The first was during the Mr. Mayan Palace competition. If you've ever watched MTV Spring Break, you'll know that a staple of poolside activities is the random competitions that the hosts organize. I never really understood the allure while watching it on tv, but after sitting by the pool for 5 hours, you're ready for a little diversion. The day before there was the Miss Mayan Palace competition, where 5 women competed for the crown, having to do a variety of activities including push-ups (and the entertainment director said "regular push-ups, not Mexican push-ups"... and we found out that a Mexican push-up is where you raise your pelvis up and down instead of your chest. I'll have to say, Mexican push-ups are much more interesting!), kayaking in the pool, blowing up and popping a balloon, and doing three sexy poses. The Mr. Mayan Palace competition was similar, with push-ups, a belly flop competition, and a sexy dance. Both events drew crowds of people floating in the pool to watch, which is where the first of the things I forgot happened.

During the Mr. Mayan Palace competition, with 50-75 people floating in the pool watching the contestant, all eyes on them, a completely shite-faced drunk lady barely made her way through the pool without drowning. All of the sudden, she barfs into the pool and the crowd draws back in horror. The emcee tried to play it off and say that it was just sunscreen in the water, which didn't sound too convincing when it was accompanied by a pool worker rushing over with his clean-up kit! After the biohazard release, the drunk lady dragged herself up the pool ladder right onto the contestant area. Of all the places to do this but at the very place where half the pool is watching! I guess it made sense to the drunk lady. Anyway, this completely sucks all the attention away from the contest and on the crazy drunk lady who needs help just to get out of the pool. Fortunately she won't remember a thing, but we all will!

The next thing that I'd forgotten about was the cool swimsuit I found at the resort store. When we first spotted the entertainment host wearing the brand, which was called "Mormaii," I pointed out to Will that was a combination of "Mormon Hawaii." Well, while waiting for the restaurant to open that night, we browsed around in the store and found they carried that brand, which is from Brazil. I found a pair that I really liked and finally convinced myself to buy them. Will really liked them, too, but they didn't have his size, so he just assumed he could buy them online. Turns out that not everything is available online. After much web surfing, Will will have to fly back down to Mexico to get himself a pair of them.

The last thing I completely forgot about was the very thing I had talked up for the previous few days: the perpetually all-over each other couple! How could I have spaced THAT? Anyway, after waking up from a poolside nap, I noticed that Margaret wasn't on the lounge chair next to me and Will and Deb had gone back to the room for a snack. Thinking that Margaret was in the pool, I got in to look for her. When I got in and started looking around, I noticed the lip-locked couple in the waterfall that connected to parts of the pool. The guy was sitting directly under the waterfall with the girl sitting on his lap as they passionately made out. But something seemed strange, which caught my attention. It was then that I realized that the girl was rhythmically bouncing up and down. I couldn't believe it! They were having sex, in broad daylight, in the middle of a crowded pool! Once I realized what they were doing, I frantically looked around for Margaret, as I had to show SOMEONE else! Of course she wasn't in the pool. Shortly after the couple finished up in an orgasmic conclusion (and I still have no idea how the people closer to them didn't notice what was going on!), I saw Margaret walking up to the pool. She'd been in the bathroom and missed the whole show! I had to sprint over and tell her what had happened, and when Will and Deb got back to the pool and I recounted the story to them. I'm still bummed that I was the only one to see what had happened. Needless to say, we only swam in the upper section of the pool after that!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

¡Viva Mexico! Day Seven: Bliss

The last full day, we decided to just completely and totally and muscle-meltingly do nothing but sit in the sun next to the pool. I never thought I was the kind of person who could do that from sunrise to sunset, but I've been proven wrong. It was GLORRRRIOUS! We were up for sunrise to stake out a prime pool location, ate lunch delivered to us poolside, and the day's highlight, drank cocktails at the swim-up bar. It was so cliché we had to try it before we left. We waited until happy hour, when the drinks were 2 for 1, but were still aggravated that the non-alcoholic versions were the same price as the full-octane ones. Below is a picture of Margaret, Deb, and me at the bar enjoys a "Miami Vice," (although should the virgin version be called a "Miama Virtue?") which consisted of a layer of piña colada, a layer of strawberry daiquiri, and a layer of mango margarita. Margaret and I ordered ours first and when Deb and Will swam up to the bar, Deb asked what we were drinking. I said, "It's a layer of piña colada, a layer of strawberry..." at which point she didn't care what came next, she just said, "that's what I want."

After enjoying the Miami Virtue, Margaret decided that the best layer was the piña colada, so we each ordered one to drink back on our lounge chairs. Below is my favorite picture of the vacation: our baby helping her mommy drink a piña colada hands-free! We'll teach her how to make a decent shaken martini after she's born. (And yes, it was a VIRGIN piña colada... jeesh! I can't believe you would have thought otherwise!)

By the end of this day, it was a little bittersweet. We were frantically trying to absorb the last few rays of light we could, knowing that we had to leave in the morning and not only head back to the wet and dreary Portland weather, but also our house that was ripped apart for a remodel AND our jobs. At least we could look forward to getting back to Taco Bells in the US.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

¡Viva Mexico! Day Six: El Sea Worldo

Okay, past this point in the vacation, there were no more bouts of sickness, puking, or sunburn... it was all smooth sailing from here on out. The day after the fateful trip that felt like much, much more than a three-hour tour we boarded a bus to head to the Yucatan's answer to Disneyland, Sea World, the Riviera, the Polynesian Cultural Center, the San Diego Zoo, and a five-star restaurant... ALL ROLLED INTO ONE! We were guardedly excited, as being billed so highly, we didn't want to get our hopes too high only to have the place turn out to be like Atlantic City.

Sitting on the bus, guess who should get on but the couple fused at the mouth! We had to sit behind them once again as they kissed, mooned at each other with lovey eyes, and stroked each other's face. We were surprised that they came out of their room in the first place! (And no, this isn't the story I'm referring to from the previous post about why you should remember me talking about this couple... it is just to serve to set the stage for what happens the next day.)

After a 30 minute bus ride complete with PG-13 show, we arrived at the park, called Xcaret. (Will and I continued to call this place "ex-carrot" until it finally sank in that the correct pronunciation is "ish-ca-RET." Who knew?... I mean other than the Spanish-speakers.) After just 10 minutes in the park, we realized that the place was everything that it promised. I mean it was really, REALLY amazing. Just inside the gates we saw some domestic animals, iguanas, deer, and got to hold some parrots... and that was just on our way to get to the underground river float. That turned out to be quite incredible. We got our neon pink life jackets and descended a series of paths and tunnels to get below ground level where there was a nice, 62º river. We got in and the current carried us through tunnels, occasionally opening up to jungle above us or a recreated Mayan village. In fact we even got our picture taken with a Mayan Jaguar Warrior! (I'm sure his real Jaguar Warrior ancestors are rolling in their graves, but, hey, it made a great photo-op!) Near the end, we even got to float through a mangrove swamp. It took about 45 minutes to float from the start to the end, where the river empties into the ocean. We got out and just stayed in our swimsuits to dry them off, as that's what everyone else was doing. We felt like little kids running around like that, but I guess it added to the enjoyment.

After the float trip, we got to see some dolphins, sharks, and manatees before getting to the sea turtle enclosure, which was impressive. Unlike American zoos and water parks, there weren't any guard rails or barriers so we could just climb down the edge of the enclosure and pet the gigantic turtles, which we did. Also in the sea turtle enclosure were some sharks. Deb and I overheard a little girl pointing at the sharks and yelling "¡Mira! ¡Mira!" and we assumed that "¡Mira!" was the Spanish word for "shark." When I asked Margaret, our resident Spanish expert, she laughed and told us that "¡Mira!" is the command form of the verb "to look." Oops. Although that knowledge didn't keep us from calling all the sharks we saw after that "miras."

After seeing a bunch of other stuff like a butterfly enclosure, Mayan village, colonial-era village, and some pumas, jaguars, and panthers, we went see the caballero show. There was a restaurant along one side of the arena and we thought that it would be a perfect way to see the show without being crowded by a ton of people AND we could eat. The restaurant was a Mexican buffet that was meant to highlight all the different cuisines of Mexico. Once we all got our first tastes of the food, we completely ignored the horse show. The food was unbelievable. No gorditas, chimichangas, or nachos there! We had fresh, made-on-demand tortillas to make a whole host of different traditional tacos including barbecue beef, mushroom, mole chicken, green chili pork, and my personal favorite barbecue lamb. There were all kinds of enchiladas, including one with mole sauce instead of regular enchilada sauce, and refried beans with roasted corn stirred into it that changed how I will ever enjoy refried beans again. The salads were all interesting, including prickly pear, cactus, and ceviche that had both shrimp AND octopus. THEN we got to the desserts... lots of cakes, puddings, and candies. They even had my favorite drink that I discovered in Mexico City: cafe de olla which is equal parts coffee and cinnamon and delicious. We kept going back for more and more and more. We ate so much we all felt sick afterward, but not regretting anything. It was one of the most memorable meals in my life... something that I doubt I'd ever get at an AMERICAN theme park. (Not to disparage hockey puck-like hamburgers or anything.) We knew the meal was special when several hours later we were still talking about it and wishing that we'd eaten more. And then again the next morning, remembering the foods we'd eaten and wishing we were back at the restaurant. Yes... it was REALLY THAT GOOD!

After the meal of the gods, we got to the grand finale of the day. There was a show that featured the cultures of Mexico. The first half included a Mayan culture extravaganza including a ceremony, an exhibition game of that sport the Mayans played by hitting a ball with their hips and the losing team was executed (although in this version, the winning team just got a giant necklace and a dog.) That was followed by an exhibition of a sport that makes ice hockey look like croquet: FIRE hockey. Yes, two teams of men dressed only in loin cloths and headdresses run around barefoot with sticks bat around a rubber ball THAT IS ON FIRE! Don't step on THAT! It was pretty impressive. After the conquistadors came and brought Catholicism to the area and destroyed Mayan culture, the show shifted into various musical and dance traditions from around Mexico. It was really cool to see the variety and intensity of all the dances and songs. A couple of the drum-based numbers were so loud and rhythmic that the baby was kicking Margaret so much she was having to constantly shift herself to keep from getting hurt! The show concluded with a tribute to Mexican patriotism, where we learned the appropriate response to the cry "¡Viva Mexico!" as every time the announcer said it, the crowd screamed back "¡Viva!" That became our cry of agreement for everything... It IS useful, for example: "This Diet Pepsi is great!"... "¡Viva!"

As we stumbled back to our hotel after an entire day at Xcaret, we were so thankful that America has similar places that can showcase its rich and varied culture... like Universal Studios, Olive Garden, and factory outlet malls.

Monday, February 11, 2008

¡Viva Mexico! Day Five: Thar she blows!

Over the weekend to celebrate our birthdays, Margaret and I went to the Oregon coast. (I know... how decadent to go from the Atlantic coast to the Pacific in the space of 5 days, but we've got to get all the travel in we can before May 7.) We were staying in a small coastal town and the two seafood restaurants near our B&B were the Sea Hag and the Blow Hole. We'd already eaten at the Sea Hag on a previous visit, so for my birthday dinner, I thought eating at a place called "The Blow Hole" would be pretty memorable. Sadly, though, the name was more memorable than the food. For example, the house dressing was "Marionberry hazelnut honey mustard." What kind of combo is THAT?

Well, speaking of blow holes, let's continue on to day five of our Mexican adventures, shall we? This was the day that we were going snorkeling on the reef off the coast of the Yucatan. We were pretty excited and both Margaret and I were feeling pretty good, so we didn't think that we were going to have any problems. In fact, I felt good enough to have quite a bit of breakfast, including cereal, yogurt, and a maple-pecan flavored milk box. There weren't any newlyweds all over each other on the bus out to the boat launch, so the trip was pretty uneventful. When we got there, we were all fitted with snorkel gear and we boarded the boat and headed out to the deep reef portion of the trip, which consisted of two dives--a deep and a shallow dive. The water was great and when I first got in, I felt fine. Now let me preface this next part with the fact that I never get car sick, sea sick, air sick, or motion sick, but something about looking underwater as I'm slowly rocking and watching the sea grass wave back and forth COMPLETELY nauseated me. Oh my gosh, I felt sick, but I toughed it out as I'd paid for the frickin' tour, I was going to ENJOY it! And what we saw WAS enjoyable. We saw tons of fish, a big sea turtle, a giant spotted lobster, and annoying Americans who didn't listen to the guide and kept stepping on the coral and sea fans ruining the ecosystem. Despite all the cool stuff we saw, I was EXTREMELY relieved when the guide brought us back to the boat for the trip to the shallow dive. I'd hoped that once I'd gotten out of the water I'd feel better.

Will snapped this picture en route to the shallow dive. And while it isn't my most flattering photo, it captures how I felt PERFECTLY! I briefly considered not going on the second dive but again I thought, "I PAID for this, for the love of God, I'm doing it!" I was okay for a bit, but maybe ten or fifteen minutes into the dive, I couldn't stand it anymore. I couldn't even concentrate I felt so nauseous. I decided I'd finally gotten my money's worth and could head back to the boat. Well of course by this time, we were 200 yards from the boat and I had to look forward to a long slog back feeling completely sick. (Okay, here's the part where you'll see why I brought up "The Blow Hole" in the beginning of the post.) Just as I'd started back to the boat, I started to throw up... and up.... and up! I guess between all that motion and all that dairy I had for breakfast was a losing combination. In hindsight, I was glad that I was so far from the boat and the group that no one saw me in my shame. After my stomach was completely devoid of contents, I actually felt a lot better and finished off the dive with the rest of the group. (I was really intent on getting my money's worth!) I found out later from a co-worker into diving that throwing up in the open ocean is called "chumming the fish" although I didn't have the wherewithal to stick around and see what kinds of fish my humiliation had attracted.

By the time we got back to shore, I felt fine and was even able to eat the provided lunch. Which, by the way, was great. They even offered drinks. We all ordered virgin piña coladas, which were excellent. Ours were the first to be made, but when we went back for seconds, we could tell that the blender hadn't been rinsed out, as it tasted a wee bit alcoholic. But just enough to settle my stomach.

After the lunch and with a buzz that only non-drinking Mormons can get from alcohol residue in a blender, we headed back and spent the rest of the day by the pool recovering from the dives. That night, we got the final gift from that fateful trip... Up to this point in the trip, Margaret had been religiously slathering herself with sunscreen, but only on her front, since she couldn't lay on her stomach as she is great with child. As she was getting dressed for bed, she noticed how the backs of her legs were hurting and discovered that there was a way for her to lay on her stomach... floating around snorkeling. After two straight hours of exposure without sunscreen, she got so sunburned on the backs of her legs that she was miserable most of the night. Oh well, now she has extremely tanned backs of her legs!

Friday, February 08, 2008

¡Viva Mexico! Day Four: Decadence

After our exhausting day shopping, we decided to play it safe and spend an entire day just sitting around the pool. Now I've never done that in my life—usually I get bored and want to do something... ANYTHING... other than just sit in the sun but something about the Mexican sun, being warm after months of dreary weather in Portland, and the prospect of getting enough vitamin D from all that sunlight glued me to the lounge chair. Plus, having access to the second largest pool in Latin America didn't hurt, either. Seriously, I've seen LAKES smaller than this pool! It was multi-tiered with waterfalls connecting it, islands of palm trees, and enough lounge chairs around it to allow a small city to bask in the sun. It took almost 10 minutes just to walk around the thing.

Given that we were planning on exposing ourselves to potentially lethal amounts of solar radiation, we literally doused ourselves with so much sunscreen that I'm surprised that we got any color at all. (The SPF 75 that I bought in the Bahamas last year came in handy... it was like spreading white latex paint on our faces.)

Aside from going back to our room for lunch, our entire day was spent reading and lazing by the pool. There is definitely something to be said about a day made up of, "ahh, I'm so warm," ... "ooh, now I'm too warm, I think I'll get in the pool," ... "oops, stayed in too long and now I'm a complete prune; I'd better get out." Repeat 10 or 12 times.

Looking back, I'm wishing we'd have spent even MORE time doing nothing. Doing nothing here in Portland is nowhere NEAR as fulfilling.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

¡Viva Mexico! Day Three: Are we still in America?

Well day three of our Mexican adventure started with Margaret and me feeling like we could venture more than ten feet from a toilet. We decided to throw caution to the wind and head into the nearby town of Playa del Carmen (where we would be more than 15 miles from a decent toilet). We wanted to see the beach there (hence 'playa' in the town name) but on a more pragmatic point, we were in dire need of groceries and Playa has, wonder of wonders, a WAL-MART! This was one of the ways that we knew that the Yucatan Peninsula had been discovered by the Americans. When we stepped off the plane in the Cancun airport, we were confronted by signs for Outback Steakhouse, Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville, Olive Garden, and Hard Rock Cafe. There were McDonald's and Burger Kings everywhere. And there were tons of morbidly obese tourists.

Anyway, we took the bus into Playa and while on the bus there was a couple who were either 1) sloppily kissing one another, 2) gazing into one another's eyes, or 3) restraining themselves from ripping off their clothes and having sex right on the spot. The reason I bring this up will be evident in a future post.

When the peepshow was over and the bus arrived in Playa, we got out right at this amazing church. Unfortunately it was one of the few things in the downtown area that was authentic. We headed to Wal-Mart to buy sunscreen, since it had been seized by the Department of Homeland Security (Hello! Don't they know it's not sunscreen that kills people... it's the SUN that does that!). After getting some beach supplies we headed to the beach and sunned for a while. Our beach experience came to a close when the family next to us had a baby that pooped her pants and the mother just stripped her down and rinsed her off in the ocean right in front of us! I prefer my trips to the ocean WITHOUT e. coli, thank you. Upon seeing that, we decided that it was time to go buy our groceries. To make our American experience more complete, we stopped at McDonald's on the way back to the grocery store. I got a vanilla milkshake, which turned out to be the perfect thing to get, as my stomach couldn't have handled much more than that.

At the grocery store, we went crazy, getting all these cool Mexican fruits and vegetables... including a papaya the size of a small watermelon (which unfortunately turned out to be completely overripe and inedible), interesting Crystal Light (although it's called Clight in Mexico) flavors that you can't find in the US like piña colada, horchata, and guaraña. (We made the guaraña while we were there and still don't know what it was, but it was good. I hope it wasn't something like ground lizards or something). We saved the bread purchases for the final stretch, as they looked so good. To buy bread in the bakery, you grabbed a big platter and some tongs and just picked out what you wanted. We got a bunch of rolls, some little breads, treats, a couple of cakes, and a cookie-thing. When I brought it up to the counter, she counted out all the things and put the price tag on the purchase... 21 pesos! WHA? We were dumbfounded that all that bread cost $2, which prompted Margaret to go back and buy a bunch more bread. After checking out and being too heavy-laden to get back to the bus stop we decided to just take a taxi back to the resort, where we spent the rest of the day by the pool recovering from our excursion. It was GLORIOUS!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

¡Viva Mexico! Day Two: The Burning

Day two of our Mexican trip opened up with Margaret feeling too sick to get out of bed and me feeling a strange gurgling in my stomach. Within a 1/2 hour of waking up, I'd decided to go back to bed, getting up only to dash to the bathroom. What a way to start a vacation! Eventually I decided we needed some food in us if we were to successfully fight off the virus or whatever, so I headed outside to get some Sprite and crackers. (I know, think of how much money we were saving by eating 10 pesos of food per day!)

Anyway, when I stepped outside, I saw these low black clouds and instantly thought, "Great... not only are we sick but there's a torrential downpour coming." Only it wasn't an imminent storm... it was the hotel's new lobby on fire! I dragged Margaret out of bed to check it out and we wondered if we'd get any discounts on our room, as we'd specifically requested non-smoking. (We didn't.) As it turned out, it didn't affect the resort that much, although the store was closed for a while so I couldn't buy any food until the fire was completely out. I hate when I'm inconvenienced like that!

Eventually I got our food and we spent the rest of the day convalescing in bed, anxious for the next day to be better than this one. I swear, at that point we thought between the norovirus and the hotel fire we'd brought some seriously bad karma to Mexico and were kind of cringing to find out what the rest of the week would bring.

Update: Margaret just reminded me that in addition to the Sprite, we also were drinking Pedialyte since we were getting so dehydrated. We mixed the two for cocktails... since we were in the tropics and all.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


Oh my gosh! Mexico was AMAZING! Although it didn't start out that way. Gather round, internets, and listen to this story of tragedy and woe that was redeemed into something GLORRRRRIOUS.

Our trip started with Margaret not feeling well. At first she attributed it to having to wake up at the ungodly hour of 4:30 am to get to the airport in time. By the time we met up with Margaret's brother and his wife in Denver, she was declining fast, and by the time we got to Cancun, she was really sick. I'm talking vomity sick, too, not just the I'm-not-able-to-be-sustained-by-peanuts-on-a-four-hour-flight sick. We arrived late and were accosted by all these seemingly shady "tourist services" guys telling us that a taxi to our resort was going to be $20... PER PERSON! We thought that a little steep, especially since they were all mule-drawn. We finally found a bus service that wasn't going to our resort but was going right by it. When the bus finally came, we were disappointed as it was an air-conditioned motor coach with some Mexican telenovella playing on the three tv screens. We wanted something more authentico... like people carrying chickens, the roof loaded down with cargo, and a traveling mariachi band. On the bus, Will and Deb started the panicked lookout for the resort to make sure we didn't zoom past it and be stuck in some town at 10:00 at night and end up spending the night in a room at a cheap Mexican brothel (Only 25 pesos per hour if you just want a bed... hooker, bedding, and locking door are extra). We were glad they were watching, because Margaret wasn't doing too hot and was looking forward to finding a bed and sleeping for 18 to 24 hours. Will spotted the resort and could tell the driver had forgotten about stopping as he hadn't even taken his foot off the gas. He slammed on the brakes and pulled over a ways past the entrance. At this point, we had to wheel all our luggage along the side of the freeway and eventually dash across it. Yikes! We finally got checked in and avoided the predatory time-share salesmen actively seeking to ruin our vacation. Margaret dropped into bed, not to be seen for more than a day. We had made it... barely.

Tune in for the next installment, which includes me waking up with rumblings in my own stomach, the hotel burning down, and the biggest swimming pool I've ever seen in my life.