Monday, January 30, 2017

México Linda

I love México! It is a beautiful country with warm, friendly people and great food. I visit every chance I get and if some idiot ever builds a wall I will likely move to México since the south side will be more civilized.

Speaking of México, my bride and I just returned from a trip to that country. Actually, she went on a sea cruise while I considered the ship only as a mode of transportation. I have never been a fan of cruises and this trip aboard the Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas reminded me why: service sucked, the food was just a little better than starvation, and the ship constantly nickle and dimed the passengers to the point of irritation.

With more and more cruise ships cramming the ports-of-call a shore excursion becomes a nightmare with a swarm of several thousand people that you probably went on vacation to get away from. The activities are jammed, there are long lines of people that you probably went on vacation to get away from. Several times on this cruise I considered jumping ship, twice in port and a time or two by slipping on a life jacket and attempting to swim a dozen miles to any nearby shore.

Finally, after a "fun day at sea", we arrived at out first port, Costa Maya. We were supposed to anchor off the coast of Grand Cayman and tender in to Georgetown, but the seas were too rough to attempt tendering even from the back side of the island. We have been to Georgetown four or five times so we weren't upset about the change. Beside which, if you have been to Georgetown, then you have been to Georgetown.

Costa Maya is located on a peninsula along Mexico's Caribbean coast, about 100 miles south of Playa del Carmen, that was created from scratch expressly for cruisers. Developers created the port terminal/faux village complex not far from the Belize border solely to woo cruise lines, and everything has been created with gringo passengers in mind. This village is the thing you find at the terminal end of the dock from one end of the Yucatan to the other.

Once we reached this so-called village, my bride and I seriously considered turning around and heading back to the ship's bar and taking full advantage of our adult beverage package. We were stopped in our tracks by the Fish Spa, with foot eating fish. There was no way we could pass up the opportunity to have fish gnawing on our feet.

I could feel these little piranhas tickling my toes and I was grateful to still have feet to put my shoes and socks back on. The real take-away for me was having the cleanest feet I have ever had in my life. That little senorita gave my tootsies a great cleaning.

We finally got past the shops and hawkers and found ourselves next to a taxi stand where three bucks a person would get us away from the masses.

We booked passage in a yellow cab (they are everywhere) and drove off to the nearby village (a real one) of Mahahual. This sleepy fishing village reminded us of Playa del Carmen the way it used to be some thirty years ago before the corporations and big money came in and turned much of the Yucatan coast into a replica of St. Petersburg Beach.

Even with cruise ships in port we had the beach mostly to ourselves and we plopped down at a table with an umbrella and requested dos cervezas, por favor. We could see one of the cruise ships in the distance and were glad to be this far away.

With ice cold beer and a big pile of tasty Yucatecan dishes in front of us we settled back to enjoy the peace and serenity of this piece of paradise.

There was even live entertainment and for a single U.S. dollar we were regaled with song.

After food and beer, my bride and I wandered along the malecon that seriously looked like the Playa of old.

All too soon our idyllic visit to Mahahual came to an end and we headed back to the ship of the old, fat, and infirm. I am not trying to be insensitive here (we are 72 and 64), but hot damn, this was not a party cruise. I am reminded of the old description of St. Petersburg, "The city of the newly wed and nearly dead."

The next port-of-call was a favorite of ours, Cozumel and the town of San Miguel. We had hoped to visit an old haunt of ours, the Habana Club, for Cuban cigars, mojitos, and some Yucatecan delicacies. Alas, the original had closed and the new incarnation was but a whisper of the original. We walked on ... until we came upon La Casa Del Habano Cozumel on Avenida Lic Benito Juárez 1, Centro. 

Now this is why I came on this cruise: real Cuban cigars, mojitos, margaritas, and the casa has a live tank of Baja oysters and chocolate clams. Those oysters on the half shell were divine and I was close to orgasm with those raw, on the half shell clams. I'd go back just for the oysters and clams, and the service provided by Daniel was perfect.

Back aboard ship we settled in for the last "fun day at sea" and more crappy food. The beef carpaccio, as a for instance, consisted of a thin slice of over-done roast beef. How can I forget one of the last day fun activities was Napkin Folding. Be still my thumping gizzard!

One more last thought: Disembarking was easier than I expected ... until Customs. For well over a thousand passengers there were only ... I say again ... only two agents. The lines were long and slow. I still think my earlier thought to jump ship with my Baby was the best idea. We should have stayed in San Miguel.