We just got back from the Riveria Maya, a Mexican getaway Barrak qualified for as a key contributor to his company’s success in 2013. There were about 15 couples staying at El Dorado, an all-inclusive resort near Playa del Carmen.
We (or maybe I) put a lot of pressure on this trip. We were looking forward to hanging out, just the two of us. Sleeping in, taking morning runs together, drinking margaritas and eating guacamole all day long, then doing it all over again the next day. Having time to be a couple again. Holding hands. Being able to read a book at the pool. Being able to tell a story without a kid interrupting. We did all that. But it wasn’t the picture-perfect movie montage of happy couple moments.
Here’s the report card Barrak gave:
The resort grounds: A
The weather: A
The beach: C
The food: D
Our room: a [expletive] F
Barrak had two Heinekens at lunch the afternoon we arrived. They turned out to be the last two Heinekens in Mexico. After that, it was Dos Equis in a can, my friend. And if you think Dos Equis taste ‘like cat piss,’ as Barrak eloquently put it, then you’re SOL.
When I asked our server whether there was agave nectar in my extremely sweet margarita, he told me he probably needed to tell the bartender to shake up the box.
The freshly squeezed OJ tasted like Tang. I think they cut everything with water. The coffee was weak and sour (we finally wised up and started ordering cappuccinos).
Except for one sushi dinner in a serene, dimly lit Asian tiki hut called Kampai, the food was kind of awful. Mexican food is high on our lists of food favorites but our meals were so disappointing. Twice, my huevos rancheros were so undercooked that not only was the yolk pure liquid gold, but the white part was still clear. The menus were eerily similar in every restaurant at the resort, and leaving the premises wasn’t recommended for safety reasons. I can only conclude that the food at all-inclusives is bad. Is that, like, the world’s worst kept secret that I was the last to learn?
And then there was our room. Our room’s air-conditioning unit, controlled by a remote, blasted cold air right on the bed all night long. But if you ask Barrak, it was blasting warm, humid air. You know how your sheets feel when you take them out of the dryer and they’re still kind of damp? That’s how our sheets were all the time from the humidity in the room. Our tile floor was always slick with condensation. That A/C remote was a weapon of marital warring. Our water went out completely one afternoon, and no one came for hours. Finally Barrak flagged down a worker with a drill who happened to be walking by. The hammock we requested never came. The wake-up call we canceled did.
We spent at least $70 in sunscreen and aloe vera in the gift shop. I burned my chin using some “Leche de Magnesia” from the gift shop as a homemade beauty mask, and my lip blew up either from a sunburn or the ill-advised milk mask. For our final group dinner with Barrak’s colleagues, I looked like a pissed off pout fish. And Barrak had developed a burning chest cough. And we missed the kids terribly.
In a way, the experience was good for us. We both aired a few grievances. We also had more than a few laughs. We got to hold hands a few times. We had gorgeous weather and got to feel the hot sun on our skin and take dips in cold, blue pools. Personally speaking, I read a good book, got to watch The Bodyguard in Spanish and Kill Bill Vol. 2 in English, and met a new friend, a stylish, interesting mom and the wife of one of Barrak’s co-workers. It’s always a nice surprise to make new friends when you’re 40.
I hope I don’t sound ungrateful. The place was really beautiful, the people lovely. See for yourself…
Our ground-floor patio was the one obscured by the baby Palm.
The resort was so sprawling, guests hailed golf carts to get around.
This is how I pictured the outside of the Three’s Company apartments where Jack, Janet and Chrissy lived. The bougainvillea climbing up the wall is so Southern California.
There were cabanas everywhere.
He didn’t know then that those were the last two Heinekens in the resort.
Iguanas were everywhere at the resort. The squirrels of Mexico.
I saw ‘divorced eggs’ on a number of breakfast menus. Too sad to order!
After this breakfast on a balcony overlooking mangroves, our golf cart driver took us over to see a crocodile that was out sunning itself beyond the chain-link fence.
Even when a vacation doesn’t live up to the big expectations you had for it, it’s still pretty good when you look back. But damn are we happy to be home.