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!
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.
“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.
While lazing away the days here in beautiful Cancun at the Royal Sands with 11 family members, I was notified that RED IS FOR RAGE has been named the winner of a Pinnacle award by NABE (National Association of Book Entrepreneurs). It led all YA entrants for months on the preliminary Stoker balloting, but that’s a story for another day, and the reviews that have come back from the (unpaid) blogger tour are, so far, very good. (Check Amazon or look back at those I’ve reprinted all or part of).
Yesterday I let some kind of Turkish fish eat dead skin from my feet. It took all of my courage to put my feet in the tank, as I HATE people (or fish) messing with my feet. However, the twins have new fish, and I thought they’d get a kick out of this, and it was thrown in for free with some spa services. (later today: facial plus massage).
We had a large “brunch” for all eleven of us at our Royal Sands digs, and tomorrow we move to the Royal Islander and are joined by Dr. John and Pamela Rhodes of Des Moines.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4FHrwTcKQA (Video of fish feeding frenzy)
We’ve been here now since Saturday, and I have learned that it is not a good idea to mix wine, Bloody Marys, octopus, squid, pina coladas and Mexican coffee, which is set on fire tableside and contains tequila, in the same day. I learned this the hard way. (And I don’t even LIKE octopus!)
We finally got on a bus and took it to the OLD Pueblo Bonito location in the town. Where we are, the grounds are beautiful and there are at least 4 places one can dine, so going in to town doesn’t seem essential. Add to that the reports from the locals, who say the cruise ships no longer stop in the port and the Gold Zone, as it is known is “dead.” We were told that on Friday it might have more life, as there might be musicians, so we will go into the marketplace tomorrow, but tonight we will stay here and enjoy Italian night at the restaurant that is the fanciest one.
Of course, Kelly’s Bar is quite interesting, with all of its mounted heads on the wall and its feeling of Early Hemingway.
Sunset in Mazatlan.
There are quite a few ex-government employees here and quite a few retired college professors and quite a few retirees, in general. Yesterday, we met a gentleman (last name: Wee) who taught music at St. Olaf College, but was here with his family to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. He said he was 74. There is also a woman named Mary who taught at Auburn and also a young couple, who left on Wednesday.
We’re watching the New Hampshire primary fall-out on CNN and Fox here and I, in particular, am watching the South Carolina primary with interest.
Mounted tiger head on the wall of “Kelly’s” Bar.
The Kelly family owns the land on which Emerald Bay sits, courtesy of Irish ancestor John Kelly. All family members have contributed their stuffed heads, some dating back to the fifties, some as recent as 2008.
Newest of the 5 pools, near “The Bistro” eatery.
One of 5 pools.
Kelly’s Bar within Emerald Bay in Mazatlan, Mexico.
Sunset in Mazatlan.
Sunset, Mazatlan, Emerald Bay.
A lion-skin within Kelly’s Bar, beneath the piano.
Cancun, Mexico, April 11, 2011, Royal Sands Resort – As we continue our vacation (for about the 18th year or so, the pool once again beckoned.
The pictures tell the story. Today was the (complimentary) taco party, and those in our party of 12 are making their plans; Xelha for the big girls on Tuesday; massage for 3 of us on Wednesday; golf for the men on Thursday; breakfast with Richard (who sold us our time shares) on Friday.
The pictures below tell the story.
Emmie & Stacey.
Craig in pool.
Ava Wilson, age 2 years, 3 months, April 11, 2011.
Fun times in the sun in Cancun for Olivia and Ava.
Stacey loses it with the XelHa Monster.
Emmie & Stacey pose with some poor schmuck in a really hot suit.
Ava enjoys the pool at the Royal Sands in Cancun, Mexico, on April 10, 2011.
We’re here in Cancun, our first full day.
The pools and beaches are much less crowded than normal during “spring break” but this could be because “spring break” is over. Or, it could be that people are not traveling to Mexico, due to all the bad publicity. Or it could be because they’ve jacked the price(s) up on things like a massage (formerly $75, now, for three of us $297. (Yikes!). I got him to throw in a pass to the exercise/spa/hot tub room ($50 for the week) and one of our party is responsible for 1/3 of that amount. So, if you deduct the $50, I guess the expense (which is a birthday gift to daughter-in-law Jessica) is the same as last year’s amount, but everything seems more expensive.
Stacey and Scott poolside in Cancun at the Royal Sands on April 10, 2011.
We have two units in play: one is our “normal” 1st floor digs, with the 23-year-old daughter (Stacey) and her friend Emmie Futrell in residence in the second bedroom with its own bathroom. I love my 2-year-old granddaughters, but it is nice that the people in this unit actually sleep slightly later.
Two-year-old Elise Wilson enjoys the water in the baby pool at the Royal Sands.
Today was the “Welcome Party,” which means free drinks (rum and cokes). I am so over the hoopla of throwing water balloons at one another and refuse to take part, as I have done for the past 10 years or so. The daughter and her father gamely took part, but the winner…believe it or not…was Elise, age 2, who somehow ended up with the only intact water balloon and “won” a bag from the establishment, which is handy for taking things to the beach. I thought ahead and had the spouse pack the “Chicago” bag I bought at the airport last year on our way here. It makes a perfect beach bag, and he said it wasn’t too difficult to get in on the bottom of his luggage.
Just off the lobby, this is the view from the Royal Sands.
The trip here was uneventful. We even had an empty seat between us in the set of 3 on American Airlines, which is unusual. Is this, too, a sign of the economic times?
There was a woman sitting in my aisle seat when we first reached our row, and she seemed very put out to be asked to take her own seat, which turned out to be in the middle. She spent most of her time prior to take-off sulking and turned on her laptop computer and began watching some cartoon or movie that featured dogs barking loudly. Since she had not brought headphones, it appeared that I would have to listen to her dog cartoon for the entire trip, but I was intent on ignoring her obvious pique at being asked to sit in her own assigned seat.
Heaven, thy name is Cancun's beach.
At that point, she summoned the stewardess and began some long involved tale about her husband’s pulled hamstring muscle and how he HAD to be sitting on an aisle. This was odd, because he was never seated on the aisle. He was seated against the exterior of the plane and SHE was seated on the aisle, the seat that was mine, which she really did not want to give up.
April 10, 2011 in Cancun, Mexico (Royal Sands Resort).
The stewardess kindly offered them places behind us so that her husband could have an aisle seat…, which was obviously not the issue, despite the woman’s clever oh-so-sweet explanations to the stewardess.
After their first move, next thing I heard was that they were moving AGAIN.
The first part of the trip was extremely bumpy. Even the stewardesses were told not to get out of their seats. There were storm systems and they buffeted us until we cleared Memphis, which did not seem like that long a time. One small child on the right side of the plane (age approximately 3) knew and shouted only 1 word for the entire trip. “NO!” There was a baby approximately six months old in that aisle, as well. The baby cried upon take-off, but was pretty well behaved, overall.
We arrived at our “home away from home” fairly early (noon) and learned that the shuttle prices from the airport have escalated from $12 per person to $16 per person. You must walk through the airport and outside near the front entrance of the airport to book a shuttle at the information desk. You must not be led astray by the many Time Share sales people standing there ready to pull you aside and book you into a Time Share “pitch.” As owners of 2 time-shares since 1995 or so, with a history of visiting for 3 years before buying (Fiesta Americana Condessa for 2 years and 1 year renting at the Royal Mayan), we know the drill.
This year, our time-share, the Royal Sands, has improved many things. The stove and microwave in our kitchen are new. All villas have wireless. New 32” flat screens have been installed in 3 places inside the units (2 bedrooms and the living room area).
We visited the store within the resort immediately and bought the basics. The “basics” this year cost $300 U.S. dollars. This seemed high, but we were expecting all 10 other members of the family fest to arrive at our unit and expect snacks and drinks. It’s always nice to be warmly greeted with hospitality. We will be here for 2 weeks, so we will definitely use the eggs, bread, margarine, pop, etc.
After the purchase of the groceries, the husband said, “If I have even one beer, I think I’ll fall asleep.” We had to get up at 5 a.m. in order to make our 8 a.m. flight.
As soon as the groceries (pushed to our first floor unit in borrowed grocery carts) were put away, my husband announced that he wanted to go sit outside by the pool. He had already unpacked his clothes. I had not, so I stayed in the room and unpacked my suitcase. At some point, I decided to just lie down for a few minutes. An hour later when my daughter and her friend arrived from Nashville, I heard discussions about whether to wake me up. I immediately joined the group.
Soon, the 2 family groups with the young children arrived and now the party is in full swing. More on the rest of the week (today is Sunday), as it progresses.
One bit of good news: “Ricardo” (i.e., Richard), the one continuing presence in our close to 20 years of visiting Cancun, has returned to the Royal Resorts fold and we will see him for either lunch or breakfast on Thursday. Today was the Welcome Party. Tomorrow is the traditional Taco Party.
We spent the night watching “The Celebrity Apprentice” on TV from a Florida station. Gary Busey is obviously nuts. Very entertaining, but obviously a liability for the Men’s Team. Mark McGrath was very articulate and got kicked off. I think Donald Trump is doing all this “I’m running for President stuff” to get publicity for his show, among other pursuits.
The old saying is: “Let sleeping babies lie,” and we don’t mess with that when on vacation here in sunny Mexico. Ava Wilson…surely a dead ringer for the Gerber’s baby…is dead to the world, with finger strategically placed on left cheek. And that’s exactly the way we left her until she woke up, poolside.
Elise Wilson, (Ava’s 14-month old twin), has that clasped corpse-hand thing going on as she sleeps on her side of the double stroller. All that fresh air will do a girl in, especially if she’s as fair as Elise, who is the blonde to Ava’s dark-haired beauty. (Check out the “Dora the Explorer” hats!)
This blonde is a slightly older model, wearing bunny ears on Easter. I read somewhere that it was “all the rage” on Easter for cute girls like this one to post such pics on Facebook and elsewhere. This one’s just to say, “Come on in! The water’s fine!”