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Trip Start Sep 18, 2011
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Trip End Oct 31, 2011


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Flag of Mexico  , Quintana Roo,
Monday, October 17, 2011

Don:

Day one:
We woke up on time at 5am as planned and packed our bags for our 6am pickup. We had organised everything the night before so all I really needed was a shower and a shave.
 
At 5:55 we got to the lobby and there was a black Suburban 4WD waiting for us. They are the large black ones the CIA or bad guys often drive in movies. We were expecting a boring taxi so this was a nice surprise.
 
The drive cost us $58 Canadian and I gave the driver $65 as it was close enough to the 15% recommended tip without going into small change. It was a very comfortable ride and he got us there in 25 minutes when the hotel had estimated 30-45.
 
We had no issues with check-in and security at the airport and were through to the gates within 45 minutes.
 
The airport was very big, 550 gates! We found our way to gate 175 and settled down just before 7:30 to wait for our flight.
 
The night before we had put all our remaining Euros and Pounds into one plastic bag so I watched the carry on luggage while Lezah went and found the currency exchange. I found the airport had free wireless so I completed the blog for the last few days, uploaded the latest photos and replied to the messages we had been getting from friends and family.
 
Lezah soon returned with 1900 Pesos, around $200. We didn't know how much Peso we would need and we still had US dollars left so we were OK.
 
The flight was on time and without issue. I watched a movie and a few TV episodes during the 4 hour flight. Lezah tried to sleep but we were sitting on the aisle so she kept getting bumped everytime someone walked past.
 
We landed in Cancun airport just after 12:30 in the afternoon.
 
Cancun is very tropical, very humid and very warm. I was in Jeans, jumper and jacket so I stripped of the jumper and jacket and chucked them in the suitcase. The humidity reminded Lezah and I of Hamilton Island.
 
I had booked an airport transfer so we went outside, carefully avoiding all the taxi drivers trying to get us, before finding a man from our travel company. We were the first one there so had to wait 15 minutes for some other people to land.
 
We then encountered our first issue for the day. We bought a return transfer for the airport and we only had one voucher printed, they take it off you when you land. The driver was meant to give us a return voucher and confirm our departure time in three days but didn't have any. We were told we had to call the tour company later ourselves and wait at our hotel for the voucher to be dropped off. Not happy.
 
I bought a cold bottle of water and Gatorade and it was $9 US dollars.
 
Soon we were on our way and after several stops got to our hotel around 2:30. We checked in and dropped of our bags before scoping out the area around our hotel.

Radisson Hacienda The pool at our hotel Our hallway at Radisson Hacienda

Our room at Radisson Hacienda

We found a supermarket where we bought bottles of water, snacks and breakfast cereal. We found McDonalds which was good because its arches are higher than most buildings around and we could use it as a point of reference even from several blocks away. We also saw a few cafes and restaurants within walking distance.

 The fresh baked goods at the local supermarket

Just before we got back to our hotel I noticed a drycleaners, they are called Lavanderia. We checked the prices and it was 14 Pesos per kilo for next day service. This is roughly $1.40 so we quickly went to the hotel and brought all our washing back. All up it was 7.5kgs and a total of 105 pesos ($10)
 
We then had a quick bite to eat before heading back to the hotel for a swim. I called the tour company to get our return voucher organised but they said to call back tomorrow. We got to bed just after 9 and didn't set any alarms! Tomorrow I'm sleeping until I'm not tired anymore.

Day 2:

We were woken at 8:30 by the maid. Lezah yelled out "we're not awake yet!" and the maid said something in Spanish before walking to the next room.
 
At 9:30 I awoke to hear Lezah having a shower so I checked my emails and watched some television. A few minutes later the maid came by again! Lezah yelled out we weren't ready yet and the maid said Ok and went away.
 
I called the tour company again to organise our return transfer to the airport on Friday and after a few minutes of them confirming who I was I was told their computer system was very slow and they would call the hotel back and leave a message with the hotel.
 
When we checked in there was an envelope on the bedside table which was for the maids tips, they can fill in their name and it said our maid was called Irene.
 
We put 20 pesos in the envelope for Irene before leaving around 10:30.
 
Stopping first at the Lavanderia all our washing was done so we took it back to the hotel.

Our washing from the Lavanderia
 
Cancun is very interesting; I haven't travelled much at all until last year so I don't have much to compare it to.
 
On one hand it is very American.
 
Chevrolet cars, a few hummers, there is a Walmart, McDonalds, you can use either Pesos or US dollars in most shops.

On the other hand it is very run down.
 
Our hotel while being quite nice is next to an abandoned building, the pavement is all broken and the roads are terrible. The buses are all random vehicles in various states of repair and it was quite a bit daunting at first.
 
Street of our hotel in Cancun

The buses all seem to start with R and then and then a number. The hotel reception said we could catch an R-1 to the beach resort area so we headed for the main road near McDonalds and waited near a bunch of locals.
 
The bus costs either 8.50 pesos or 6 pesos depending on the one you catch. Lezah gave the driver 17 pesos ($1.70) and we were on our way.

The R-1 bus to the shops

10 minutes later we were amazed. The road doubled in lanes, were all perfectly smooth, there were enormous hotels, beautifully pruned and landscaped palm trees and grassy areas, luxury yachts, it was like being in a different country altogether.
 
It is obvious all the money in Cancun has gone to the beach front area and the city is slowly crumbling.
 
We got off the bus at La Isla shopping plaza and apart from the prices being in Pesos and USD you could be mistaken for thinking you were in America. All the big brands, Diesel, Fossil, Lacoste, Zara etc are there plus fancy restaurants.

La Isla Shopping Village La Isla Shopping Village

 
We found a restaurant on the boardwalk and sat down enjoying the cool breeze from the lagoon. After our lunch we went window shopping and bought a few small things.

Having lunch next to Nichupte Lagoon Nichupte Lagoon On the boardwalk at La Isla Shopping Village
 
This is where we encountered our second issue at Cancun. We had put all our USD locked away in our suitcase and were only carrying Pesos. At this stage we didn't know nearly every store will let you pay in USD as well.
 
Our third issue was that food and souvenirs on the beach front are not cheap. Starting at $25 for a basic t-shirt up to $45, food was also $15 for a basic main meal instead of $8-$9 back in downtown Cancun.
 
Sufficed to say after paying for lunch and buying a few things we only had a few hundred pesos left and with all our US dollars at the hotel with three more days to go we switched to window shopping.
 
While we had been having lunch a storm cloud was off in the distance slowly getting closer. By 3:30 it was almost on top of us so we jumped on the bus to head back to the city. Within 30 seconds of getting on the bus it starting pouring rain.
 
15 minutes later we were back at the hotel. I had a snooze while Lezah went for a swim.
 
I noticed around 5pm my sister Kimberley was online checking her emails so I messaged her and we chatted on Skype for 10 minutes. The twin boys were very cute and waved goodbye at the end of the call.
 
The rain finally stopped so we went looking for an R-9 bus to WalMart. We eventually arrived and looked at all the stuff we could get but mostly it was just a sticky beak. We headed back to the hotel around 8.
 
I checked with reception and there was no message from the tour company, I will have to ring them back tomorrow. 
 
Tomorrow we go to see the pyramid and temples at Chichen Itza. It is a 9:45 pickup so no early start; let's hope Irene doesn't wake us up at 8:30 again.
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