So the $600/pax Expedia package got us an all-inclusive 5D4N deal at the Gran Bahia Precipe Coba Resort in the Riveria Maya area. A pretty sweet deal if you ask me because it included airfare, accommodation, meals and drinks for the week!
The Gran Bahia Precipe Coba was about an hour's drive away from the Cancun International Airport and we had pre-arranged private transfer to take us to the resort. On the way, along the Riveria Maya stretch, the front facades of all the resorts we passed were so large and grand, we couldn't help but feel excited about what was in store. I imagined myself to be bowled over by immaculate, minimalist zen looking grounds (like the resort two doors down) but instead, found ourselves chauffeured into the main lobby that enchanted with quiet old world rustic charm.
As we were transported to our 'villa' in one of the trams, we passed many restaurants, pools and lush greenery. I was attracted to the pop of colors - the orange buildings, washes of blue walls, but the J-man was more interested in the lizards lounging in the sun. We had also seen road signs that indicated the variety of life forms roaming the grounds.
First thing we did, of course, was to check out the beach. Grabbing a couple of drinks from the beach bar, we settled lazily on our deck chairs for the rest of the afternoon (and the whole of the next day). The sky never looked bluer, and the waters crystal clear. I think I just found heaven.
J and I agreed that it wouldn't be a proper trip to Mexico without visiting one of the New Seven Wonders of the World - the Kukulkan Pyramid. So we booked a day trip with the resort to Chichen Itza, with a bonus of swimming in one of the Cenotes (sinkhole) afterward. This was a full day trip beginning with our pickup at 830am, driving two hours to our destination, food and refreshment all provided. We had 2 tour guides - Riccardo who looked after our general well being (distributing water, keeping time and head count) and the other, the very knowledgeable Gilberto, our archaeological guide who is also of Mayan descent. His presentation was very detailed and he reminded me of one of my history professors in college. Although factual and informative, if J and I weren't all that interested in Mayan history, he would probably have lost our attention in the first ten minutes. In any case, i learnt that the Mayan word for lizard is tolok and the female equivalent is sh'tolok. And when locals say they have 'Mayan chicken' on the menu, they most definitely mean 'iguana'. The J-man perked up at that, but was disappointed to find out that it wasn't included in the lunch menu. Nope, I don't think the 20 other people in our group would be pleased to try anything that exotic.
Mayan chicken anyone?
The Kukulkan Pyramid of Chichen Itza
The other highlight of the day trip is cenote diving. Even though the one we went to is probably really, really touristy (read: complete with fake stalactites and all), it was an exhilarating experience stepping off the edge and plunging into the deep depths of the unknown. I can still remember the crazy butterflies in the tummy, the adrenaline just before you take off, and then the absence of sturdy concrete beneath the soles of your feet, the minute-too-late-regrets as you plunge into the pool below. I think the older we get, the more we think, the more worried we become (explains the creases on the forehead!) As I waited in line, I remember worrying about hurting my back, when the kid in front of me was attempting his second dive! Err.. Pish posh! I can do it too!
The next day, we booked an hour and a half snorkelling trip out to a bay that was about a 15min catamaran ride away. We were not too lucky that day, the waters were extremely rough, my mask way too big for me, and my underwater paranoia took ahold. I gave up after half an hour. No point driving myself into a frenzy trying to stay afloat, keep water out of my mask and trying to focus on the not so many sea creatures swimming by. I did float around a sea turtle for about a minute or so before it decided to come up to the surface right where I was. I freaked out, fighting the currents trying to swim away from it.
That snorkelling trip did me in, and I chose to relax by the pool (in the deck chair of closest proximity to the bar) for the rest of the day. Did i mention that the mojito was the resort's best drink? About 6 mojitos later (i think), we overslept and missed our Japanese restaurant reservation. We stepped in about an hour late, but they graciously accepted our tardiness and sat us down for our meal. J was looking forward to some uni (pronounced: ooh-knee) aka sea urchin sashimi, but was sorely disappointed. We could only pick from the set menu and their most exciting item on the menu was probably raw salmon.
That said, the food at the resort wasn't too bad. There were a few buffet locations, and the buffet spread at each location was varied enough to keep you interested even after 5 days. I'm not a picky eater. My motto is "When hungry, put food in mouth". I was pretty satisfied.
One thing to learn, maybe, 2 Colombian friends taught me to say "Por favor, me puedes dar agua."
May I have a glass of water please?
Very useful, considering how liberal the bartenders can be with the alcohol. Also, with intoxication comes incoherence. I think learning "agua" would suffice.