Africa 2017

Africa 2017

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Lazy day of rest and an evening of fine food

There is something about laying by the sea, hearing the water lap the shore, the breaking of waves off the reef in the distance that frees the mind of all thought, of all necessity of care or worry.  The warmth of the sun gazes down on your almost naked body, soaking it's rays onto your skin and that dreamy, napping feel takes over in seconds.  Not long as getting a sunburn on the first day is not an option.  

How is that we can watch the water, observe others walking by or laying in their own personal peace next door, that can go on for endless hours.  The Villa is laid perfectly out on this stretch of beach.  Granted it is not a wide sandy beach, nor does if have the sandiest of inlet to walk into the water but the shade is ample as the day goes on.  There is shade and sun, whatever you wish, and there is a tropical breeze to cool the humid air.  

I watch Tim snorkel by, gliding the surface like an otter. Up and down he bobs along, moving effortlessly.  Sometimes I see him dive down then he rises up just barely breaking the surface to move to another spot to watch the fish that swim below.  The cenote near our place opens just off the shore between our space and the place next door.  Those who go in the cenote come out to the beach and snorkel to this spot. The water here is pale turquoise blue and below is a drop off from the rocky surface to that sandy circle where many fish flutter in front of the opening.

We read, we talk, we eat, we doze, we dream.  The pure bliss of doing nothing but wiggle toes in divinely soft white sand is enough for me.  

Evening comes and our tummies begin to think of food.  We drive towards Tulum beach where we had breakfast but keep driving down the long narrow road to a place we have seen great reviews of called Hartwood.   Techno vibe music greets us as well as a staff in white and a hardy glowing fire from the outdoor kitchen ovens that lies at the back of the restaurant, tempt our tastebuds with it's aroma.  The main man greets us and he reminds us of Carlos Santana with his straw hat and bushy chin length hair.  It's a celebratory evening that we are back together as family.  Our family of 6, though we are minus our son-in-law which I note we are now truly a family of 7.  Dynamics of almost two years this fall.

The dinner does not fail, nor does the atmosphere of Hartwood.  The music makes me feel young and alive, with the light of the candles on our table and around us.  I love eating outdoors like this!  

Day one is a gift to treasure.  

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Day one ~ Tulum

Our family wakes up in staggered time.  The East Coast daughter K. was up long before where I find her snuggled in one of the two hammocks out by the beach.  My first morning view of the ocean of multi shades of pale turquoise and dark patches where rocks are hidden below.  The water is calm and lapping on the the beach.

Once we all are dressed and ready we head to the beach side of Tulum for breakfast as we hadn't had time to get by a store to stock up for breakfast and lunch makings.  Guided by two of our daughters who have been here before, we find a place to eat that has that look of a beachy and relaxed place with an open air building of reclaimed wood everywhere.  It's called Mateo's Mexican Grill and I know I will survive because at last I can get my latte and food!  I've been running on empty since I woke up and if I don't get some substance I think my brain will shut off.

I order the Fresh Fruit Bowl with their homemade granola and it comes with sweet, thick Mayan Honey.  I have died and gone to Tulum heaven.

Once we all have eaten we head out to walk around the little shops filled with hats, embroidered dresses and tops, colorful bags, hammocks and one shop with the most enchanting jewelry and unique folk art.  

We climb back in the van to continue down the road that seems to go on forever with many small hotels and interesting looking places to dine.  We find the one place we had heard reviewers rave about on various sites called Hartwood.  

It's off to the grocery store which is huge!  It's the new store in town with appliances, clothes, pharmacy, extensive bakery, and anything else you could want.  We walk out with our load of food and head back to the Villa for some much needed relaxation by the beach.  Time to just do nothing.....and that is what a vacation should have, time to loll and dream.

Monday, July 14, 2014

We all are together at last

Who would have thought it could take almost two hours from landing at the airport till we got in our rental car to at last be on the road to our vacation villa.  We were told to look for a man in a red t-shirt who would then take us to the rental car office.  There were quite a few men wearing red t-shirts.  Tim walked around while we stood out front with a crowd of new arrivals, the rental car people looking for their customers, and a variety of people that just seemed to be standing around like us wondering how to leave the airport.  At last our man is found and we board a van with a couple and their precocious but preparing for a melt down little girl.  After another round of waiting we get our van, because with six of us and luggage we need a van and it has the best air conditioner that covers from front to back with complete comfort.

I look at my watch which shows near 6:00 PM and think it is only another three hours till our other daughter arrives from the East Coast.  It will take us near 2 hours to get to Tulum where we will quickly get dinner (I'm already starving and wishing for some caffeine to wake me up) where upon we will turn around and somehow find her at the ADO station in Playa de Carmen at 9:50 PM.  With the Super Moon to be full tonight I hope it guides us all to a conjunction of the aligned sky and then to fall into bed with the sound of the waves gently crashing to shore where my mind and body will swiftly fall asleep.

We find our Villa easily after an uneventful drive except for the random times we must come from a fast speed to a near stop to cross over the largest obstacles of speed bumps I've ever seen.  These at night are approached in the distance of red and blue flashing lights which as you get within range is a  Policia station where it seems to be a way to check everyone out as they slowly drive by.  God forbid if you didn't realize a speed bump was coming or you would surely take flight over it to land like a stunt car in an action film. 

The Villa is gorgeous and we are greeted by the caretaker who shows us the home and how to operate the fans and air conditioners in our bedrooms and the living area.  There are three dogs who guard the home and we make friends with them easily.  So nice to have dogs to be around us while we are away from our two.  On every bed the towels have been turned into the most lavish of creations.  Some elephants, swans and octopus of which I hate to take a part and use.  Perhaps Rosa can teach us how she makes them!  Even the toilet paper is crimped in a decorative way.

We dash next door where conveniently there is a little restaurant.  We sit under an large open Palapa that is just off the beach by about 7 feet.  The full moon is rising and we sit there gazing as it rises and attempt to take photos of it.  We wolf down our dinner of fajitas, tacos and fresh fish, guzzle the water and feel sloppy with knowledge that our vacation has begun.

Back at the villa we wait for K. to call us that we should drive on to Playa de Carmen to pick her up.  The scheduled time arrives and passes and no call from K.  We try to call her and only get voice mail.  I decide to check on her flight and find that both of her flights were delayed and now she will be a half hour late.  The bus for 9:50 PM is surely to be missed.  We at last get her call and she is sharing a taxi to Playa de Carmen so we head out in the dark of night to find her.  I'm extremely glad our son is to navigate us to the bus station.  So what could go wrong?  How about two ADO stations and we of course go to the wrong one.  R. leads us on to the other station.  I don't know how in the world that we seem to just come to find it along with a Policia car vibrating with red and blue lights at the station, Tim is turning onto the curb and our daughter tries to get in the car with the door that won't open (child locks?).  Tim makes a neat little 3 point turn and off we go.  I observe two policia walking down the street with large guns out for the ready.  What?!  

We at last are all together......and off we tumble into bed.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

All in a day of travel.....

Beginning a vacation is fraught with preparation.   It's the details that need to be left behind as in for us finding a trusting house sitter who will take care of the home but most important for the care of our pets.  That was easy for once.  Of course little Stewie began his separation anxiety as soon as the suitcases appeared.  He began following me closely, giving that waifish, sad eyed look as though surely doom is about to happen in his world as those suitcases mean we are leaving.  I try hard not to give into his fear by just playing perky happy packer.  

The morning of departure comes.  I've typed up lists and taped them to the pantry door for the house sitters with details of what needs to be done while we are away along with emergency numbers, how to feed the pets and other last minute items that I forgot to add such as leaving the towel on the bed for the kitties to sleep upon at night because I thought they might think we forgot to put it away and then the kitties would leave cat hair on the quilt.  Silly thoughts that pop up as you prepare to leave.  Did we have our passports, the directions to the Villa we are to stay at, the car rental forms?  The lists that shouldn't cause anxiety because we do have them, but do.

It is only once on the plane that I realize what I forgot.  Some snacks would have been good.  The rolled oats, walnuts and raisins I meant to bring to make Bircher Muesli while we are gone.  Me who eats some form of oatmeal thought this would be perfect for humid hot weather we will meet.  Tea would have been good to bring.  The coffee we bought that is left in the pantry.  Granla bars.  Oh well...

Our neighbor kindly volunteers to drive us in his VW Bus which is missing the middle seat so my youngest adult daughter first sits on a box and then on the floor beneath our legs and feet.  I'm chatty and excited to at last go on vacation after what feels like a long drought of going to know where.  Traffic is quiet at 5:30 AM and we depart at the airport with a hug, then lug our rolling suitcases into the International part of the airport which is quiet as well.   Check in is done by the self service kiosk which is not wholly self serve when a dour agent comes by to see what we are doing.  She helps, I guess, and we are on our way to security minus our bags.  Then it is on to the gate where we find we really should all go together to get breakfast (coffee! please!).  

Why, pray tell, does there always seem to be just one place to get food out by the gates?  A long line of people wait patiently to buy food and drinks.  What use to be freely given when you got on a plane is now sparingly provided or one must pay for poorly provided items that hardly should be called a meal.  Coffee and food in hand, we sit and wait for our time to line up and board our plane.

At last we sit in our cramped quarters for a 4 plus hour plane trip to paradise.  We cram our purchased food, our carry-on bags filled with reading material and cameras beneath the tight space below our feet.  Our knees squashed in place, our seat belt buckled we look around to our fellow travelers.  There are two small toddlers behind us, next to my two adult daughter. I cross fingers that these two little ones are happy and maybe sleepers.  As luck would have it they are excellent travelers with long naps and giggles.   In front of us and to our left is a family that speaks in what sounds like Russian though the two teens speak clear English and Russian. 

The plane has screens in front of us but our row seems to have blank screens we note.  All the other screens are flashing images.  And though our screens start to work after takeoff it mattered not as everything is charged to watch.  Alas no music options either.  Really?  We are flying out of the country!  Would't this be included?  Not this journey.  Never mind as I have brought my laptop that I have music I like and I've loaded some viewing options I truly wish to see.  Sit back dearheart, we are on wings that carry us faraway.