The alarm woke us at 5:00am for our transfer to LA airport to begin the next stage of our trip. Due to the early start it only took about 40 minutes to get to the airport and to our United flight to Mexico. We had a leisurely breakfast and the settled down for the two hour wait till boarding. As it happened we almost missed our plane because we were dutifully waiting for them to call our boarding group and they didn't. Eventually I looked up at a TV screen and our boarding group 5 was shown but no announcement had been made. The plane was full and they had actually overbooked by 9 passengers. There was an inducement of a $300 voucher for anyone who was willing to volunteer to take a later flight but there were no takers.
Mexican immigration and customs were like anywhere else. Long queues and bored staff. At least the people directing the movement of passengers seemed friendly enough. Once through the formalities we emerged into bedlam. Spruikers for taxis, shuttles, private cars and, as it turns out, for time-share sellers who waited for unwary tourists. Maree spotted a shuttle service like the one we used in LA so I bought some tickets, more expensive than a bus but cheaper than a taxi.
The 30km into Cancun took a surprisingly long time but there were others to drop off at some very exotic looking hotels and resorts which were built on a long spit of land next to the Caribbean Sea. One group of four, golfers it seems, stopped off at a place that looked like a magnificent Mayan temple surrounded by golf courses. Winton - you should come here! Our driver was a bit strange in that, as soon as he started driving, he plugged in his earphones and proceeded to sing, softly but tunelessly, along with some Mayan or Mexican song. He didn't have much English so this probably saved him having to listen to a lot of foreign gabble.
Our hotel near downtown Cancun is a bit run down and seedy but it has some charm of its own. We can walk to the downtown area and to many and varied restaurants. After looking at a few menus we booked the Nomad bar with a huge yellow duck as its totem. Returning after a bit of a freshen up we were directed to a nice table in a quiet part of the bar and were given Alexis and Mario, both English speakers, as our waiters. They turned out to be gems even providing us with small torches so we could read the menu in the dim light. The menu was a fusion of Latin with Japanese.
We started with cocktails - Maree had a spicy mango margarita and I had different tequila drink ( can't remember its name). Maree selected a dish of seared tuna wrapped in eggplant skin while I had the chicken breast 'Carelli' which was chicken breast wrapped around mozzarella and raisins. Both mains were delicious and beautifully presented. We were talked into having desertas well with Maree choosing an Apple pie while I had a 'Crazy Jack', how could I resist, which had a carrot cake with vanilla ice cream covered by a shell of dark chocolate which was flamed and melted over the cake at the table. Yum!
We had a lovely sleep-in the next morning followed by a substantial breakfast, after which we wandered about looking for an ATM to check that we could actually withdraw money. After three failures we found one that not only recognised my Travelex card but actually let me withdraw money. Whew what a relief!
Over the next three hours or so we wandered to and fro through the local produce market which sold food, both fresh and cooked, as well as wedding dresses, colourful piñatas, ceramics and much more to mostly locals. There were street vendors cooking interesting take-away foods and tricycle riding merchants selling fresh cold drinks in gigantic cups. We came across a huge waterworks with dozens of tankers lined up as if at a petrol refinery except these were collecting potable water. Locals could buy water in 5L, 10L or 20L quantities from a self-serve dispenser, but remember to bring your own container.
After a refreshing icy pole we moved on to the 'tourist' market which was much cleaner and more spruced up where we were constantly accosted by, mostly men, trying to sell us something. This market was full of souvenir stalls with lists of colourful junk which we resisted and one jewellery store where we didn't.
By now it was early afternoon so, after a quick lunch of ready-to-eat items from a convenience store we spent the rest of the afternoon by the pool.