Adios Meh-he-co

Do we have to go? Tell me we don’t!

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After the amazing food spread at Cirque, we passed up the buffets at the resort for some sit down dinners. First was the Brazilian like Fogo. Then my fav.

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Hibachi! Who’s excited? This girl!

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And these girls! They are pro-shrimp eaters!

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Our waiter kept us entertained while the food cooked. His specialty, shots and napkins.

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CS’s turn!

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With our late reservation, we missed most of the night’s show, The Oscars. To my delight, the Madagascar mascots were still around! Then, they were drawn to the side where we were sitting. I like to think they *know* it’s me.

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Next thing I know, they are all over dancing by us. I could not, not join in.

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I don’t remember the pink tu-tu in the movie, but I love a character! As they start to retreat to the back, the zebra is kinda hanging out. I asked CS, who was closer to it, to ask the zebra if I could put his head on. This resort is sooo accommodating!

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He even posed with me.

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Oh man. Definitely a top 5 moment of the trip. After the show, we made our way to the discotheque for our last night of dancing. Dancing like idiots.

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These things may or may not have happened at the disco:
* Skip around the dance floor
* Join the conga line
* Keep alcohol away from that guy
Bye Bye Iberostar. You were amazing and we will be back. Swear.

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To amuse myself on the way home, I tried some origami courtesy of the Southwest magazine. Mom tried by throwing a crumpled dollar at me.

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Mexico has different marriage laws. No clue how I talked CS into this one!

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Love these people!

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Next up: Video footage

Showtime

In all the research I did prior to this trip, nothing mentioned that one of the greatest shows on Earth was around the corner from our resort: Cirque Du Soleil @ Vindanta Riviera Maya.

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We were in the shuttle headed to the resort on day 1 when we passed a Cirque billboard. I questioned the driver to see what the deal was. The show opened in November of last year in this venue that was built just for the show.

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There was no question. We were going. I’ve seen 2 of these in Vegas, so when you know the place was built for it, it was going to be magnificent. Since Mom didn’t go on the excursions with us, I made sure she was included to get out and see something new!

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You walked through a lounge and bar to get to the main stage. Every corner was decorated to the nines.

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When I ordered the tickets, I learned they offered a dinner experience before the show. I was going with 2 foodies in Mom and CS. I knew we had to go for that! We were serenaded by a wonderful reggae troupe while we devoured the food.

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They claimed it would be a culinary experience like no other. I was ready for the adventure. Figured there wouldn’t be any chicken and pasta in store for us. Let’s try some stuff!

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Mom loved the bread shaped like trees. She wouldn’t eat hers she loved it so much.

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Our fixed menu was waiting at the table made of rice paper. Feed this woman already!

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Our appetizer plate came with mango caviar, smoked fish, blue crab salad, goat cheese and cured ham. The flavors were incredible! Then they poured some “magic” in the pot at the center of the plate and smoke came out.

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My little friend!

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I didn’t eat all of it, but I did try each thing. I was pretty proud of myself! Before the main course, they brought out this spoon with “Dragon breath”. The server said you just take the whole spoonful at once. Ok, bottoms up!

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It was freeze-dried fruit with a dollop of frozen whip cream that just melted in our mouth. It was sweet and delightful. The main course presentation…

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I choose the salmon over the short rib.  It came with a fresh pineapple and fruit salad, mixed veggies, and an adorable butterfly crisp.

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Are we done eating yet? Nope. Dessert time. In a book.

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And 4 of them!

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Each person got a book of tarts and cakes and creams. It was over the top! With our bellies full, we sat back and watched the magnificent show. No cameras are allowed so you can check out some videos online. It lived up to all my expectations. The set became alive with different pieces moving around to tell the story.

A grandpa had a magic story book that would come to life when his granddaughter Joya was around. So the acts revolved around stories from the book. A pirate ship came out of one part of the set! We were treated to hand balancers, trapeze artists, hoop dancing, partner acrobatics, and more. The finale was 4 guys doing a trampoline jumping act off of this 2 story platform. It was straight from AGT, which I love!

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An experience worth every penny. Remember how I said Mom loved the bread? Mom made me save it so she could show the nieces back at the resort. The things we do for our loved ones.

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Up Next, Part 4: Japanese in Mexico

Xcursion Time

Being the newbies on this trip, when B&K said they had a few excursions in mind, we were on board! Gave Nana some much needed rest time too. Welcome to the beautiful Xcaret, (zha-kaa-rhet).

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We traveled 30 minutes south of the resort to visit an adventure-park-meets-a-zoo. This girl got right to the action. She was ready to hold a parrot! Cool thing was you scan your wrist band at a bunch of picture stops, then you can view them all at the end of your trip.

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Our first adventure together was the cave passage. You would float and flipper your way through an open air and underground cave system. The water was a bit chilly but felt so good on my sunburned Midwest skin. First time in the sun for the season, should probably not have been so close to the equator. The nieces took some coaxing getting in. “IT’S COLD”. Only because our skin was on fire!

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At your own pace, you made your way through beautiful open air parts, waterfalls and enclosed caves.

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We started at the south west end of the park and floated our way to the north east. Perfect spot for us to start our foot travel to see the sites. But then they had these amazing hammock camps beckoning you to lay in them.

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Ok. I’ll rest. Notice my towel. You could have fried an egg on my skin.

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Photo opt @ the big hammock!

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One of the really cool attractions was the sea turtle exhibits. Of course I would love that! They had separate pools with increasing sizes of turtles. From babies…

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… to the size of a dinner table. It did take me back *cough* 22 years ago when I got to swim with a wild sea turtle in the Caribbean. If I could have only smuggled him back in!

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One of the interactive exhibits at the aquarium is to hold sea urchins. Of course! Syd took some persuading.

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Then it was really cool to do!

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After lunch, we all relaxed near the lagoon and you could swim up to the dolphin enclosures.

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It was at this point that my skin was boiling. The girls had all got UV reflecting shirts that morning. It was time for me to follow suit. Instantly I felt 20 degrees cooler with the thing on. I believe it saved me from sun poisoning but it couldn’t save me from these natives.

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Devils and dolls were in every gift shop too. This place also had ruins to climb.

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Burial grounds to traverse.

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And an amazing aviary full of parrots that you could reach out and touch, but we didn’t try.

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Even a turkey vulture just hanging out.

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At the end of the day, we took the aerial tour to see all the ground we covered. 5+ miles around this place.

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2 days later, we traveled 60 minutes south to Xel-Ha, (Zell-ha). Holy goodness sea of turquoise!

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This excursion started with another lazy river type event. This time we got innertubes, then you could dismount and partake in all kinds of activities along the way. Snorkel, cliff jump, rope course, zip line. It was awesome! Let’s get started!

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Grab a toe Syd! Awesome floating through mangroves.

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We did some cliff jumping. Video forthcoming. Then stopped at the ropes and zip line. Life in the water!

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I tested the zip line adventure. Short and fun with a water landing.

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We made our way to the back bay to start our real snorkel adventure.

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Enough people were there to join us but it never felt crowded.

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So clear from above the water,

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and below. Fish as big as dinner plates.

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Our first snorkel together!

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All the Fuller’s were in on the action. Never seen a 5 year old mermaid before. Her name is Kayla.

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Highlight of my trip was seeing a sting ray while snorkeling. We’d seen a trainer working with it in the open bay earlier in the day. I was hoping we’d be able to see him in action. Can you spot him below?

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I hovered for a few minutes just in awe. He clearly wasn’t in the mood to be seen in public. Another memory from my first adventure in Stingray City. Thanks Xel-ha for the memories! We will certainly be back!

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Up Next, Part 3: Take Nana out for date night

Take Me Away

The time finally arrived. I bought myself a passport for my 30th birthday. Figured if some rich hot thing came my way to swoop me off to some foreign land, I should be prepared. Fast forward 7 years, and I have my first stamp! Hola Mexico! You know they take their cerveza seriously when it’s painted on the airport observation tower.

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They have employed a game show-esque event to enter the country. Press a button. If it’s green, you get to go through. If it’s red, you have to have your bag checked. Seemed very very random. CS was lucky to win the red game.

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I hired a shuttle service to take us to the resort. I wasn’t risking being the next story on Criminal Minds. Eduardo was ready for us. This was the last time my hair would be straight for 9 days.

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The Indiana clan met up with the Colorado clan on the beach a few hours later! Let Spring Break begin!

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The resort we stayed at had a nightly performance for kids and adults. Not quite a mascot, but he’ll do for our first night. El Diablo. Each night they would have staff dress up as the characters that would be preforming and walk the lobby.

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This little cookie started falling asleep during the show the first night. Not on Spring Break! Let’s dance!

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We woke to find packs of these guys wandering the grounds. They were gangs of 20 or more. Meet the Coati, pronounced quaw-tee.

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Then you’d find these guys just chilling in the middle of the walkways. I finally got used to seeing them by the end of the week. For some odd reason they would startle me just being out in nature. Must have been because I was used to seeing them run my brother’s childhood bedroom like their own.

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I did a quick lap around the main part of our resort. Less than 2 miles but it was hot at 9am.

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I promptly went back to bed using my favorite sign of the trip.

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I was refreshed for some pool time!

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You could find Nana like this most days!

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Besides tanning at the pool, the resort offered a shopping plaza. They even had “trolleys”, a.k.a. golf carts, that would pick you up and take you wherever you wanted on the resort. We were ready to shop!

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The breeze at the beach was so refreshing!  We had plenty of things to occupy our time. Tanning.

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Beverages.

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Reading. Well I tried to read and it rained on us for 10 minutes (while the sun was still shining). I took that as a sign I was to do nothing work related on this trip and promptly put the book away.

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What else can you do at the beach? Bury your niece.

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Play in the water and wave jump.

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Shop. Shop?! Yep, shop at the beach. Vendors up and down with hats, blankets, jewelry, etc. Anything you wanted. I think Mom stopped 5 different silver dealers over our trip.

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My nieces always took a front row seat to the nightly show. This usually got them involved. Reagan got to go on stage during the magic show night.

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A few nights they had games/questions reminiscent of the Newlywed game. This poor guy had a fallic cone on his head and his wife had to get him to cross the stage using verbal clues. Once he got close to her there was a circle he had to put the cone through. All the while, he is blind folded.  At the end of the show, they replayed the women’s instructions as if they were used their first night “together”.  Use your imagination. It was funny.

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Another game was about balloon popping using only your bodies. That’s not what kept my attention. It was the balloons on the guy below.

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He was no cupid, but he would do!

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Except for 1 meal, which I will tell about later, the food was really fresh. We ate mostly at the buffets which offered Champagne. Why not?! If I have to deal with this monster for another week, I better!

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Up next, Part 2: Adventures off the resort