Flying to Mexico

Why am I going to Mexico when the CDC has told Americans not to make unnecessary trips to Mexico because of the swine flu outbreak there? I am taking what I believe to be a necessary trip––my son and his fiancee are getting married in a cenote (sea cave) in Playa del Carmen and I’m not going to miss it. My flight from Los Angeles to Chicago left at 11:25 p.m. and arrived in Chicago at 5:18 a.m. (3:18 a.m. LA time). I was tired but made it okay through almost a four–hour layover before leaving Chicago at 9:05 a.m., arriving in Cancun at 12:42 p.m. (Chicago and Cancun are in the same time zone). I enjoyed having my breakfast in Chicago. My United flight to Cancun was no more than 1/3 full, allowing me a choice of 18 seats in the rear to sit in. United had canceled all their flights to Cancun except for this turn–around Chicago flight, a wise thing to do as other airlines were canceling flights or threatening to cancel flights due to lack of passengers when people arrived at the airports to take them. I flew to Mexico prepared––5 boxes of antibacterial wipes, box of alcohol swabs, 10 N95 masks, 10 surgical masks, and Immodium, but no Tamiflu as Kaiser’s infectious disease doctor said that I was healthy enough to survive the swine flu if I caught it in Mexico. Anyway, I really wasn’t too worried as I read that if you had the Asian flu in 1957 you were most likely immune to the swine flu, and not only did I have the Asian flu in 1957, I came down with it on a trip to Mexico––so double immunity? Someone asked me how I could remember back to 1957––this was easy, as not only did I get very sick in Mexico, before doing so, another event happened: My parents, my sister, and I were on an overnight train from Mexico City to the Guadalajara area on July 28 when a 7.9 earthquake struck near Acapulco. Our train jolted to a stop, so severely that people were thrown out of the top bunks and some suffered broken arms. We were stuck for 24 hours before the tracks were fixed. The photo is of a mural of the Castillo at Chichen Itza, the main Mayan ruins on the Yucatan Peninsula.

Flying to Mexico

Riveria Maya

Before being allowed to leave the Cancun airport, we had our temperatures taken by having a red dot shined on our foreheads. They weren’t going to let anyone who was sick into Mexico. The two health workers who took our temperatures wore the only two masks that I saw being worn throughtout my whole trip. I took a shuttle from the Cancun airport to my hotel in Playa del Carmen, about an hour’s drive from the airport. Playa del Carmen is on the Riveria Maya, an area that runs from Cancun to Tulum on the Yucatan Peninsula––see map.

Riveria Maya

Riveria Maya

The main highway––Highway 307––running along the Riveria Maya. On either side is the jungle. Here the jungle looks more like a very thick forest, but it is referred to as a jungle. Off to the left are entrances to the mega–all inclusive resorts. To the right are numerous two–lane roads leading into the jungle, many to the Mayan villages.

Riveria Maya

Riveria Maya

The first iguana I saw on the way to drop someone off at one of the mega–resorts.

Riveria Maya

Riveria Maya

A policia station on Highway 307. Thatched roofs are seen throughout the Yucatan Peninsula––they resemble the ones used by the Mayans on their houses.

Riveria Maya

Playa del Carmen

Coming into Playa del Carmen, a very Mexican–looking city of 100,000.

Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen

Quinta Avenida, or better known as 5th Avenue, a very long pedestrian street of shops, restaurants, clubs, etc. It looks rather empty now but fills up more late in the afternoon and at night.

Playa del Carmen

The Royal at Playa del Carmen

My hotel. I was the first of my group to arrive. My son Kris and his fiancee Brandi arrived a couple of hours after me. Brandi’s brother Jason and his girlfriend Kristi arrived with them. Mike, the last of our party, didn’t arrive until late in the evening as his flight from Dallas was cancelled as well as the next flight to Cancun. He arrived on the third AA flight going to Cancun. Mike and Kris have been friends since high school.

The Royal at Playa del Carmen

The Royal at Playa del Carmen

Entrance to the Royal. This hotel was an all–inclusive, meaning that meals and drinks were included in the cost of the hotel.

The Royal at Playa del Carmen

The Royal at Playa del Carmen

View of the pool and beach from the hotel lobby. When I checked in, I was given a warm cloth to wash my hands and told that the concierge would take me to my room as the room that I reserved had this service. After I kept telling the concierge that the type of room that I was to be taken to was not the level that I had reserved, she finally figured out that I was not my son with the same last name. When Kris and Brandi checked in, they weren’t given the royal treatment of a wet cloth and the attention of the concierge.

The Royal at Playa del Carmen

The Royal at Playa del Carmen

My room.

The Royal at Playa del Carmen

The Royal at Playa del Carmen

View from the window. Kris and Brandi had a view of the ocean.

The Royal at Playa del Carmen

The Royal at Playa del Carmen

My jacuzzi. On some days, rose petals and candles were added to the jacuzzi.

The Royal at Playa del Carmen

The Royal at Playa del Carmen

The room’s free liquor supply. I took a shower and was almost dressed when I saw a lizard in the bathroom. I am not afraid of lizards but I really didn’t want to share a room with one. I closed the door to the bathroom, where there was one of the room’s phones, and tried to call the front desk from the bedroom phone. However, there was no dial tone on the phone––the bellhop didn’t tell me that I had to punch in a button on the handset to make it work. So I had to walk to the front desk and I told them my two problems. The front desk clerk did not think that a lizard in my room really was a problem needed to be taken care of but she did send someone to remove it and also to tell me how to operate the phone.

The Royal at Playa del Carmen

The Royal at Playa del Carmen

Statues at the Royal. A supervisor at the Royal said that the hotel was only 40–45% occupied, but usually at this time is at least 80% occupied. Some hotels had closed, and at the all–inclusive ones that were open, not all of their restaurants were open. There is great concern about the swine flu here, mainly about what it has done to them economically, but no panic. At almost every restaurant, there is a bottle of antibacterial handwash and encouragement that you will use it before entering the restaurant. Some of the young people here (and this area’s guests seem to be 90% young, under age of 40 or younger) would prefer the place to be jumping. Some of the few older people here (one being me) definitely are enjoying the lack of crowds. There is no wait at restaurants and the pool is almost empty.

The Royal at Playa del Carmen

The Royal at Playa del Carmen

More statues.

The Royal at Playa del Carmen

The Royal at Playa del Carmen

Looking at the mariachi players from another angle.

The Royal at Playa del Carmen

The Royal at Playa del Carmen

A statue in the garden.

The Royal at Playa del Carmen

The Royal at Playa del Carmen

A sun sculpture in the lobby.

The Royal at Playa del Carmen

The Royal at Playa del Carmen

Horse sculptures in the lobby.

The Royal at Playa del Carmen

The Royal at Playa del Carmen

The beach. The ocean water is warm here in the afternoon, but somewhat cool in the morning. The hotel did not warn anyone of the rocks and potholes in most of the water in front of the hotel.

The Royal at Playa del Carmen

The Royal at Playa del Carmen

Setup for a romantic dinner on the beach.

The Royal at Playa del Carmen

The Wedding

Farther along in the cenote. Here the cenote is not open to the sky. Candles were placed in the water.

The Wedding

The Royal at Playa del Carmen

Bride and groom having wedding photos taken on the beach––this couple is not Kris and Brandi. We saw a number of brides in their wedding dresses on the beach.

The Royal at Playa del Carmen

The Royal at Playa del Carmen

The hotel pool at twilight.

The Royal at Playa del Carmen

The Royal at Playa del Carmen

We ate this evening at our hotel’s Pelicano restaurant which served Caribbean fusion seafood. It was very good.

The Royal at Playa del Carmen

The Royal at Playa del Carmen

My son, Kris, and his fiancee, Brandi, on the left, and Brandi’s brother Jason and his girlfriend Kristi on the right. Mike, the rest of our party, still hadn’t arrived.

The Royal at Playa del Carmen

The Royal at Playa del Carmen

My salad at Pelicano. Butter lettuce was wrapped in a long cucumber slice. The dressing was thick––you dip the lettuce in the dressing. I was served this type of salad several times so I assume that it is a Yucatan speciality. That’s my first margarita in the glass behind the salad.

The Royal at Playa del Carmen

The Royal at Playa del Carmen

My trout almondine. Most of the food here was served artistically. The trout was very good. That’s my second margarita in that glass.

The Royal at Playa del Carmen

The Royal at Playa del Carmen

Desert. Same margarita.

The Royal at Playa del Carmen

The Royal at Playa del Carmen

The Royal Hotel at night.

The Royal at Playa del Carmen

The Royal at Playa del Carmen

Another view. The rest of my group went off to 5th Avenue. After little sleep last night and two margaritas, I had only enough energy to send an e–mail to my family and that was it for me for the day.

The Royal at Playa del Carmen

The Royal at Playa del Carmen

Next day––three of our group. Mike had arrived last night but is not in the photo. Kris and Brandi’s wedding is today––this afternoon. The group spent the morning at the pool. Brandi got very bad news this morning from her dog sitter. One of her dogs, Emily, was in a crisis state and was taken to the vet. The vet thought that the dog needed to be put to sleep. You can imagine what a damper this news put on today’s festivites. However, right before the wedding, Emily started to pick up, so the wedding was going to proceed.

The Royal at Playa del Carmen

The Royal at Playa del Carmen

I spent the morning trying to book some tours for the following days. My hotel was only able to book me for one tour––to Chichen Itza, but didn’t have success booking other tours that I wanted to go on. I went outside the hotel and was able to book two more tours with another operator––in this section of stores near the hotel.

The Royal at Playa del Carmen

The Royal at Playa del Carmen

Close–up of one of the stores. I put the wedding photos on a separate following album on this website.

The Royal at Playa del Carmen