I love vacation. I love writing about my vacations. I love having new material to write about. Although I have been traveling a lot recently, it has been almost 5 months since I had a vacation. That is what I and my best friend, Erika, refer to as first world problems. However, the period between May 2012 and January 2013 was a prolific time for vacations. There were two trips to Vegas last summer (one of those was to celebrate Erika’s 40th birthday), a trip to South Dakota to see the monuments (my solo woman vacation adventure – every woman needs to do one), a food orgy of a trip to New Orleans (that was actually for a family wedding), and my annual girlfriends trip to Mexico and the Iberostar Grand with my BFF, Karen. That frequency of vacationing spoiled me. The following five months felt like a vacation drought.
Vacation location will be the Iberostar Grand in Playa Paraiso, in the Riviera Maya, Mexico. This is more or less, halfway between Cancun and Playa del Carmen. It is an all-inclusive (AI), adults only (AO) resort. It is on a complex of 5 Iberostar hotels, the other four are family oriented hotels. That means that topless is tolerated but please keep your bottoms on.
Vacation dates were June 20th to 27th. These dates were chosen so we could celebrate Zung’s (my husband) 66th birthday while on vacation. These dates were also good for Steve and Janelle, friends we met the first time we went to the Grand. That was to celebrate Zung’s 60th birthday and was only a few months after the Grand opened. It was amazing then and it is even more amazing now. This will be my 11th vacation at the Grand and Zung’s 9th (those girlfriend trips, ya know?).
Our lives are busy, and the days before this vacation were no exception. The day before vacation I worked (I’m a lactation consultant) and got my hair cut and colored. I needed to stop by the bank to get money and the pet store to get pet food. That meant dinner out. We dined at Pasta Jay’s, a casual Italian Boulder eatery that never disappoints.
Once home, I needed to finish packing and do my nails (both sets). I had decided to do glue-on fake nails. I sat down to put on the ones I had bought and decided they were too much (blue flowers and swirls). My daughter had a set with french tips, so I glued those on and thought they looked great. Apparently I didn’t use enough glue because I lost the first one before I even got off the plane in Mexico.
Our daughter, who lives with us (I guess that makes us former empty-nesters) will be taking care of our dog and cat. She is worried about whether the dog will die when we are gone. She is an old dog, 15 years, and we think she is going to head off to that big dog park in the sky on a regular basis. She keeps coming back from the brink though. We say she is on her 9th life, kind of like a cat. She is going through a bad spell right before we leave, so I tell my daughter that I do not want to know if she dies while we are gone. There’s nothing we can do about it, and I will be sad about it when we return. Spoiler alert – the dog (her name is Sierra), is doing fine.
Packing is always an adventure because I do not pack light and I had offered to mule some items down for somebody from the playa.info forum. I had also made friends over rum with the hotel’s General Manager, Alfonso Lopez, on my last trip, and I was packing a bottle of my favorite rum, Zaya, to bring to him. We weighed my bag and it was 60#, 10# over the 50# limit. Zung was bringing a garment bag and a carry-on bag. Yes, three bags! You would think we would have learned to be better packers over 21 trips to Mexico, but I think we have gotten worse. We shuffled some items and my bag (affectionately referred to as “the beast”) was at a comfortable 46#.
I have decided to bring a vacation mascot. I have seen other trip reports with vacation mascots and decided it was time I did it too. I went to the toy store between work and my hair appointment and looked at the stuffed animals and dolls. Some things were cute but nothing was really speaking to me. I was just about to bag the whole idea when I saw her. A little pink stuffed starfish. What could be more appropriate for my Iberostar vacation, where the star is their logo? Her name is Havana (I got the idea from someone on Trip Advisor – for my other favorite rum, Havana Club Siete). There was talk from my forum friends that I should get her some flip-flops, or heels or some kind of shoes, but do you know how hard it is to put shoes on a starfish?
With the help of some Ambien, I slept fairly well. I woke up before the alarm clock, buzzing with excitement to be going back to Mexico, back to the Grand, back to the place where my soul lives.