Where’s Mike? On vacation. I sometimes get asked, “With all the traveling you do, how do you determine when you are on vacation?” The answer is quite simple: When my wife Karen travels with me, I’m on vacation!
Last week we were able to escape from Marion, from Indiana, and even from the United States and spend a whole week on vacation in Cancún, Mexico. It was a new experience for both of us, made even more special because our granddaughter Jackie and her husband Steven Gidley asked us to go on vacation with them to that destination. It was a high compliment to us that two twenty-somethings wanted to spend a whole week of their hard-earned and scarce vacation days with their grandparents.
So on Saturday at 4:30 am we found ourselves in a very busy Indianapolis airport with a lot of other Hoosiers heading on vacation. The economy parking lot shuttle bus was crowded and the security lines were lengthy, but the TSA folks were efficient and we were not delayed in getting to our gate. We boarded a Southwest Airlines flight headed for Cancún by way of a smooth, two-hour flight to Denver where we met our grandkids and changed planes.
The flight on to Cancún was easy and we landed in Mexico at 3:30 pm. We found our pre-arranged shuttle to the Royal Sands Resort after running a gauntlet of folks trying to offer us rides. Cancún is a city of over 600,000 people on the east coast of Mexico and its main business is tourism. The year-round warm temperatures and the gorgeous beaches have been upgraded with five-star resorts and amenities designed to make great vacations. Here are the top ten things I liked about my week in Cancún:
Service—The Royal Sands is a five-star resort with outstanding service, and we found the service at other places to be good also. It makes sense in a place that relies so heavily on tourist dollars because better service means higher profits. Waiters, maids, cab drivers, concierges, clerks in stores, and policemen, were all friendly. The only exception to great service was our hospital experience, but that’s another whole story for another column.
Water and Beach— Cancún is on the eastern edge of the Yucatán peninsula and is very similar to any Caribbean resort. The water is warm year-round and the beach is a brown, coral-based sand that doesn’t get hot. Lifeguards, cabanas, food service, and proximity to our condo made it fabulous. There really wasn’t anything you could criticize.
Royal Sands resort—The parent company runs five resorts in Cancún and hundreds around the world, owned by the 90,000 members. They know what quality is and they deliver it in every way. They offer an all-inclusive package which we did not use and they sell time-shares. The buildings and grounds are immaculately kept. There are activities galore. I did lottería, blackjack, and listened to a sales pitch. Others did sailing, yoga, karaoke, volleyball, and ceramic painting. There is plenty to keep you occupied. Everything is clean and there is little to criticize. I don’t hesitate at all in recommending it.
Cost—Things in Mexico, overall, are less expensive. The peso is trading between 17 and 18 to the U.S .dollar, so that helps. I enjoyed bargaining in the shops and for taxi cabs. Some places try to gouge tourists, mostly the many day trips and excursions offered. I would advise anyone going to shop and don’t let your resort do all your bookings on side trips.
Family—We were guests of my cousin Jeanne and her husband Jerry who own the condo we stayed in. They have been owners there for 13 years and go for the month of June. They always invite family to come, so this year we took them up on it. So did her brother Jim and his wife, daughter, and son-in-law. There were a total of 10 relatives in three separate units so we did a lot of visiting but we weren’t crammed together. It was very nice and I got to catch up with cousins who live in Colorado and Florida.
Rotary Club—I found one on Tuesday at 8:00 p.m. and took Steven as my guest, even though he’s a Kiwanian. The 12 members of the Cancún club welcomed us and we had an enjoyable time in spite of the language barrier. It all went smoothly until one of their members inquired about the presidential candidates and my guest answered the question. Since he’s an ardent supporter of Donald Trump I thought we were going to have an international incident, but he wisely maneuvered his way through and it ended amicably. The Club president did lecture his members about Rotary being non-political and we all had a good chuckle.
Dolphins—On Wednesday Jackie and I swam with a dolphin on Isla Mujeres. It’s eight miles off the coast of Mexico and it was something she has always wanted to do. Fifteen people spent one hour in an enclosure with a trained dolphin that we could touch whenever the trainer had it come over to the side where we were contained. We each got to ride about 25 yards while holding its flippers, each got to be kissed by the dolphin, and while riding a floating device were pushed about 25 yards. She got to do one of her bucket list items, and I got to watch her up close.
Food—On two nights we visited very nice restaurants: Puerto Maderno and Captain’s Cove. Both came highly recommended and we were not disappointed. Seafood is featured and it was fresh and nicely prepared. The food at the outlets at our resort was fine, too. You could order food served in your room or on the beach or poolside. The only food that was disappointing was on the “all inclusive” trip to Isla Mujeres. I’m not a big fan of Mexican food here, but in Cancún I ate mostly familiar foods.
Golf—There are plenty of golf courses and I found a par three executive course nearby that Steven and I played for less than $100 for both and that included equipment rental. The course was nice and we had fun playing golf in Mexico. Scratch that off my bucket list.
Transportation—The round-trip transfer from the airport to our resort took 30 minutes in a modern, air-conditioned van, and for all four of us cost just $88. We never touched a piece of luggage. The city bus system had a bus come by about every three minutes and it cost just 60 cents to ride. Taxis were abundant, new, and courteous. Traffic downtown was heavy, but along the hotel zone where we were was no problem. I didn’t drive while there, but I think I could have without difficulty.
We left Cancún Saturday at 1:30 pm and got home at just after midnight. We had a great time with our family members and seeing Cancún. There were a lot of things we liked and we’re glad we went.
However, there is more to the story. It involves a visit to a Cancún hospital and “the rest of the story,” as Paul Harvey used to say. Maybe I can share it with you in a future column when I’ve had time to process it all.
Overall, I had a wonderful week and I’m quite happy to be home in the USA, Indiana, Marion, my home, and my own bed. I hope you had a great week also. God bless you!
Mike Roorbach, a long-time resident of Grant County, is publisher’s representative of The News Herald.