Welcome to WeeklyWilson.com, where author/film critic Connie (Corcoran) Wilson avoids totally losing her marbles in semi-retirement by writing about film (see the Chicago Film Festival reviews and SXSW), politics and books----her own books and those of other people. You'll also find her diverging frequently to share humorous (or not-so-humorous) anecdotes and concerns. Try it! You'll like it!
We begin our journey from Texas to Illinois tomorrow.
We returned from Mexico (Cancun) on April 23rd and now we are battening the hatches in our Manchaca residence until the Family Fest, which usually coincides with the Fourth of July, which is only a couple of months away. (Plus, we come down earlier to help get ready for it.)
I have scheduled myself into the breast cancer center of the University of Iowa on May 6th to tell them what has happened to me, so far, since a diagnosis of breast cancer on Pearl Harbor Day. After 2 EKGs, one chest X-ray, one MRI, one echocardiogram, one radioactive injection for a sentinel lymph node biopsy, a lumpectomy, 124 Cephalexan pills for a “seroma” (rhymes with “aroma” but not nearly as fun: an infection, post surgery) and time to heal up, I now face radiation for 33 days. I will have a CAT scan (and a bone density scan) on May 2, the day after our return to the Illinois Quad Cities. The actual radiation needs to get started by May 12 so that I can finish up just in time to fly back to Austin for the Fourth of July, with tickets purchased for June 30th. (I hope I’m not as tired as I was after one week with 17 relatives in Mexico!)
But enough boring health stuff. I do want to alert folks that I’m going to be participating, in one way or another, in a lot of film festivals, with reviews to appear here:
1) The Chicago International Film Festival, which I have covered for over 20 years. It ends on Oct. 23rd and I’ll be there for the duration.
Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, screenwriters of “A Quiet Place,” the morning after the film opened SXSW in 2018 with Connie at Starbucks.
2) The Austin Film Festival that commences on Aug. 27th. This is a “writers festival” and writers from television and movies are invited to tell “how to do it.” Last year, (Scott) Beck and (Bryan) Woods from the Quad Cities were invited to appear, based on their screenwriting for “A Quiet Place.” I wanted to participate then, but the dates overlapped with Chicago, so I couldn’t. This year, I can do both, if I get on a plane after Chicago ends.
3) The Denver International Film Festival, which is in early November.
4) Sun Dance Film Festival in Idaho, via video.
And, as usual, I’m planning on covering SXSW in Austin in March, as I have done for the past several years.
Now, for your viewing pleasure, here are some photos of Cancun, Mexico, which I shot with my
It’s been a while since I’ve been around to post. I was in Cancun and these pictures will give you a rough idea of what I’ve been doing.
Captain’s Cove at sunset. Cancun, Mexico.
Here we are dining in style at Captain’s Cove: (L to R) me, Craig, Stacey and Scott.
Aside from a sun burn I sustained 2 days before we left, the 2 weeks were uneventful.
We learned that the Royal Sands is putting in 2 new whirlpools, which bodes well for our April return, and we were only a unit or 2 away from our own assigned unit (C5108), as we were in B5107 and B5106.
The Welcome Party is still defunct, as is the Tuesday taco party for members.
Here is a shot from Harry’s, right across the street from our lodgings.
Daughter Stacey and granddaughters Elise (l) and Ava (r).
Week One in Cancun is in the history books.
We visited several extremely fancy (and equally pricey) restaurants, including “Harry’s,” “Tabu,” “Rosa Negra” (the Black Rose), Captain’s Cove and the Veranda at the Royal Sands.
The daughter and the grandchildren encountered a pig on the beach, being walked by its owner. Naturally, photo opportunities arose.
Our room (C5108) became party central for games and we played euchre, poker, Balderdash, Code Words, and other games.
Uncle Mark (Wilson) arrived from St. Louis a few days in and left a few days early. All of the Covid-19 tests required came back negative and, of our party of 12, only Jessica, Chris Poffenbarger and the granddaughters had not received at least one shot. Masks are required at the facility, but not around the pool. The crowds appear to be about half what they normally would be, but the restaurants mentioned above are teeming with patrons, who are being bombarded by high decibel noise.
The son and daughter-in-law and granddaughters and daughter left today (for Austin and Nashville,
Stacey holds Moira, the pig.
respectively). The Poffenbargers left for St. Louis and Macomb, Illinois.
The weather was sunny every day, but especially windy and, for the first 5 days, I did not get in the pool (nor, in some cases, remove my cover-up) because it was not that hot. On one day (Tuesday) the women visited the spa. I had an aromatherapy massage and, for the first time, I was not pummeled into a week of pain. The daughter has shared that the foot reflexology massage was her favorite.
On Wednesday Scott rented a boat that carried ten of the group out to go snorkeling.
I’m not a big fan of snorkeling. I did not ever get it quite “right” when we visited Hawaii, and I haven’t gotten it right since. Getting in and out of the boat has always been a challenge and I really don’t like fish rubbing against my body, which actually happened in Hawaii when we took a bag of frozen peas and lured fish toward us at Hanama Bay. It’s not a good memory.
For those reasons and others, I did not accompany the group that went out on the boat (which, also, cost $180 an hour). Craig hit his head hard on something on the boat and has a big scab on the top of his head now. He and Mark also commented on the strong current in the ocean, where the snorkeling led them.
Beach at the Royal Sands.
The boat captain also noticed their distress in a strong ocean current). Stacey cut her foot on the sharp coral while swimming back to potentially render aid. The hole in the bottom of her foot concerned me for the rest of her time with us, as I got cellulitis through a sore foot a few years ago, and it was not a laughing matter.
But all have returned home to the U.S. safely, save us. One more week in Paradise.
In that time, we have watched Notre Dame burn down, eaten at fine restaurants, and had great times with good friends and family.
One of the nicest places we dined was Harry’s, although Captain’s Cove is a long-time favorite. We have been coming to Cancun at Easter since 1991, which is 28 years. Our unit at the Royal Islander on the 9th floor was purchased in 1994 and our unit at the Royal Sands in 1997.
Our Royal Islander penthouse unit only has 3 years remaining after this year and, therefore, the pictures here focus on that “home away from home.” Last week there were 7 of us in our unit; this week only 4.
In addition to Harry’s, we tried Fred’s this year. I had the crab and it was delicious. We were supposed to dine within the J.W. Mariott tonight, but our plans changed and we decided to have one last meal at the Royal Caribbean, which is scheduled to close in July and then re-open later, but not as a time share.
The weather today was extremely windy, but the temperatures have been wonderful: balmy and warm. Another Easter vacation for the books.
“Game of Thrones” premieres tonight, so the entire idea of dining out and about in Cancun will give way to a chicken dinner delivered to and eaten in the room. One of the nice features of the Royal Resorts is that we have two U.S. television channels, one from Detroit and one from Jacksonville, Florida. Therefore, we aren’t missing out on favorite programs.
Ava & Elise in Cancun. Elise (r) won at euchre.
Week One ended with a family euchre tournament in which a 10-year-old (Elise) bested the field.
Week Two commenced with sending the son and his family back home to Austin, despite reports of tornado winds and bad rain. The daughter made it out and returned to Nashville. The niece and husband presumably are back in Boston. The Illinois contingent, as well.
Evening out in Cancun.
So, this year, during week two, we will try out two new restaurants: Fred’s (seafood) and L’Angostino’s (Italian, within the J.W. Mariott). The other restaurants will be staples: Captain’s Cove, The Conquistador (formely of the Royal Mayan, now located at the Royal Islander).
We learned some news about our penthouse unit at the Royal Islander while here, at a meeting. We bought it in 1994, although we had been coming to Cancun since 1991 and staying at the Fiesta Americana Condessa and rented one year at the Royal Mayan. In 1997 we bought a week at the Royal Sands (just over).
Our time share at the Royal Islander will return to the state in 5 years, when the 30 years is up. We are now at 25 years and counting. After this year, we will only have 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024 and then we will have to rent at the Sands or make other arrangements.
Over the years, the upkeep on our time share(s) has been quite good, although the replacement of art work at the Royal Islander in recent years took out tasteful pictures and replaced them with questionable paintings that resemble nothing so much as paintings on velvet.
Good times with the wacky daughter and her dad (Harry’s in Cancun).
Still, the unique view of the ocean from 9 floors up (the highest any Royal property goes) and the central location in the property makes 4492 like “home away from home.” We will miss it and it will mark a passage from young to middle-aged to old, in many ways, since the turning over will mark a span of 30 years of vacationing in the same spot at Easter, which moved from one week to two in 1997.
Although the state department has issued some warnings about various Mexican tourist destinations, we’ve been going to Cancun for the last quarter century. First, we stayed at Fiesta Americana Condessa for two years. Our daughter was 5, our son twenty-four or so. We next rented the Royal Mayan for two years and our daughter took a friend with her and they played Barbies.
The daughter and friend in Cancun.
After the two years at the Royal Mayan, a sales representative from the Royal Resorts talked us out of buying one of the Royal Mayan time share units, pointing out that it would go back to the state in 2015, which it has done. The Royal Caribbean, which also had 30 years, would go back sooner than their newest property, the Royal Islander, where we came to rest on the top floor in what they call the Penthouse.
The Royal Islander opened in 1993. We were not in on “the ground floor,” but quite soon after it opened, because it had no trees at all at the time. Since Stacey would have been 5 in 1992, it was probably about 1996 that we bought into the Islander.
Some 4 years later the Royal Sands construction began on a site next door to Kukulcaan Plaza that had previously housed the Royal Palace. Pre-construction prices were cheaper and we liked our one week so much that we ended up purchasing Week #14 to go with Week #15 that we already owned.
Now, we come with various and assorted family members, since my husband’s sister and her husband bought a unit after we invited the entire family to come down one year and visit us. Apparently, the lure of Cancun with its gorgeous beaches was too much to resist.
We are right next to the police station here in Cancun (on the other side of Kukulcaan Plaza), but the latest alerts about 14 murders in Cancun center on a drug king-pin who was once a police officer and is trying to corral the drug trade in Cancun and Playa del Carmen. The violence was aimed at opposing gangs, but it is distressing, nonetheless, to think of this beautiful place being ruined for tourists and locals by the unfettered violence, which peaked on April 4th and 5th. (Most of the violence took place downtown).
We are entering our second week here and we won’t be trekking off to any downtown locations because of the violence, but it seems to be “business as usual” at the Royal properties.
Today it rained for about a half hour. This is only the second time in about 25 years that it has rained (and the last time it rained for days).
Granddaughters Ava and Elise in the lobby of the Royal Sands.
We moved down the street with all our food and clothing from the Royal Sands to the Royal Islander on Saturday and now we are in the penthouse of the second hotel.
The daughter (Stacey) in the lobby of the Royal Sands.
Our friends, the Rhodeses arrived 2 hours late due to waiting for a van transfer. We still made it through “Saturday Night Live” and enjoyed watching Jimmy Fallon’s hosting duties.
The concierge arrived with gifts and he turned out to be a huge movie fan. He checked out the films in town for us (in case it rains again) and made reservations for us at El Conquistador, Ruth Chris’ Steak House and Captain’s Cove.
So far, we’ve confined our adventures to the Royal Resorts restaurants near us, dining at Trade Winds at the Royal Caribbean and at our own restaurant affiliated with the Royal Islander.
All 15 of us in Week One.
The weather has been in the eighties and lovely, with the exception of the short amount of rain.
Tomorrow is Friday, April 7th, and I will soon be departing for Cancun, Mexico.
Quite frankly, with the news that Donald J. Trump has just gone and done yet another dumb thing (i.e., bombed Syria), I’m seriously thinking of claiming to be Canadian while in the sunny land down under.
It sounds like our departure from Austin (TX) will come just before the rain moves in, and the weather in Cancun is projected to be sunny and beautiful, with highs in the eighties. I spent an hour or so packing tonight, and tomorrow I will pack the cosmetic(s) bag, which carries our shampoo, toiletries, et. al.
I’m debating about whether or not to post a review of “Wilson,” the movie that starred Woody Harrelson and Laura Dern, which I recently saw. We went because, after all, when your name IS “Wilson”…..(finish that thought) If I have time, I may post about it tomorrow. It’s a slight film and unlikely to get wide distribution.
Meanwhile, an interesting anecdote. Because we will need cash while in our neighbor to the South, and they always enjoy the use of U.S. dollars, as opposed to credit cards—and, also, because my credit card numbers were stolen in Mexico one year, which caused someone to run up a $25,000 bill on my card, we went to the Bank of America on Slaughter Lane. I had written my spouse a check for $200 to pay him back for cash he had loaned me when I was in Chicago for a week and forgot to take any cash. (My bad).
He presented the check, written on the Triumph Bank of East Moline, and, of course, they wouldn’t cash it at all.
I was present, doing battle with a machine that was going to give me cash, I hoped, using my debit card from BOA, but I couldn’t figure out how to get more than $80. My husband suggested that I write my check for $400 (rather than the $200 I owed him) and he’d give me half of it for my cash. I would write this check on my Bank of America checkbook.
That seemed a good idea, so, in full view of the 2 cashiers, I wrote this check and he stepped up to cash it. The cashier demanded that he be fingerprinted before she would cash the relatively small check. They had just watched me (the account holder) write the check in the first place, and we explained why we were writing it (need cash for vacation). Still, some flunky raced out with an inky thing and he had to put his fingerprint on the bottom of this Bank of America check before they would cash it.
Now, what occurs to me is this: what good is my husband’s fingerprint on this check? It isn’t like he has done major time in a correctional institute or anything! He isn’t in any “data banks” of fingerprints. And that is all assuming that the Powers-that-Be thought this 72-year-old man looked like a really guilty character.
Has this ever happened to anyone else, because it seemed very dumb to me.