Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Tuesday

I'm still alive, just not blogging so much lately.

I turned 40 a week or so ago. I was going to make a post about it and then decided not to. Forty was kind of a tough one for me. I've been dreading it for a few months. The trip to Mexico definitely took my mind off of it for a while. And I like that Mexico was really my birthday present, even though it was early, becasue when my actual birthday came around it was a good excuse not to really celebrate it. We already did that in Mexico. So the actual day was low key, which is what I wanted. Forty arrived, it's here, it happened. Life goes on.

Lately I have kept busy planning another vacation. We're going to the Oregon coast this summer with the kids. Every single year we say we're going to do it and then every single year something comes up and we change our plans. So this year I told Shawn I was going to book something and we're going to do it no matter what. Ever since Josh started high school, it has been occurring to me that our days are numbered with him. He only has three summers left before he graduates and moves on to other things and probably won't be around so much. So suddenly all those things we've been saying we're going to do "someday" are starting to panic me a bit. We don't have all that much time left to do family vacations and all the things I want to do before my kids start getting too old to do them.

So this summer we're going to Oregon. The Oregon coast is kind of a special place for me. We went there a few times when I was a kid and I just fell in love with it. When I was in high school, my family stayed at a little inn right on a cliff overlooking the ocean and to me it was the most beautiful place I had ever seen in my life and I said to myself that one day I would spend my honeymoon in that exact spot. And we did. We rented a place at the same inn on the cliff for our honeymoon.

I always thought we'd go back there with our kids someday, but unfortunately that inn is no longer open, or it's no longer functioning as the same type of vacation place it once was, so we can't go back there.

But we can definitely go back to the coast. I've been doing some research and I finally chose a place. I rented a beach house in a little town that I think will be perfect. We're going for a week in July. The Oregon coast is about an 8 hour drive from here, so its a doable roadtrip with kids. We're going to spend the night in Portland on the way so we can enjoy some activities there before we hit the coast. I love Portland.

So I'm definitely looking forward to that. We took the boys to the Oregon coast when they were really little but they don't really remember it, and Clarissa has never been to the ocean, so I think it's going to be a really fun adventure. I like having adventures to look forward to.

We also have a little adventure happening next week. Josh has entered the Kiwanis Teen Film Festival for the third year in a row, so we're taking a quick trip next weekend so he can participate in that and see if he can pull off his third win. It's in my hometown and it's going to be super weird to go there because my mom is still doing missionary work in Malaysia, so we can't stay at their house. I had to get a hotel room in my own hometown, which seems really strange to me because we've always had a place to stay. Feeling like a tourist in the town I still consider home is funny to me. But it will be nice to get away for a couple of days with the kids. We decided to all go and make a fun weekend out of it. I like visiting my hometown, even if it is for a really quick trip.

So that's what is keeping us busy lately. It seems like we're always planning something these days. I'm also trying to figure out the rest of Josh's summer plans. This summer Josh is taking drivers Ed, taking four online summer school classes (it's part of his whole weird high school thing. If he takes some of next years classes early over the summer it frees up his schedule for some other things he wants to take.), he's hoping to complete his Eagle Scout project, and he's participating in a pioneer trek with our church. And we'll be in Oregon for a week. I don't know how he juggles all his stuff but he does a good job. I'm just trying to figure out how to make it all happen around the other stuff we have going on. He's going to have to do some of his summer school stuff on our vacation.

Matthew is working on a new piano song that I absolutely love. I will film it when he finishes learning it. It's sounding great so far.

Clarissa is keeping busy with her social life. Still joined at the hip with her best friend. Clarissa is amusing me lately with her need to accessorize her outfits for school. I was such a tomboy as a kid and I still am. I'm a jeans and t-shirt person. Having a very girly daugher has been an adventure for me for sure. Clarissa will only wear dresses and leggings, no jeans, and lately she likes to wear jewelry to school. She has all these little plastic beaded necklaces that she loves, and I find it adorable how she spends time deciding which one matches her outfits. I'm used to raising boys. This girl stuff is all new territory for me. But she makes it fun, I enjoy her so much.

So that's the update from our house. Just busy as usual, and I turned 40 in the middle of it. I'm pretending it didn't happen. I told the kids I was turning 39 and 1 this year, lol. That works for me. :)

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Matthew's latest song

I just wanted to share the piano song Matthew has been working on lately. It's not perfect yet, I just took this video this morning when he was practicing before school. This is what I get to hear every day and I absolutely love it. There is something about the piano being played in my house that just makes me so happy. My mom used to play a lot when I was growing up, so maybe it's a nostalgia thing, but I just absolutely love hearing the piano played in my house.

Matthew usually practices in the morning before school and it sets a nice peaceful tone in the house in the mornings. His morning songs are usually peaceful. Then after school he usually practices again and sometimes makes up songs or just goofs around and it's always very lively and fun and it brings laughter and joy to our afternoons. The other night Shawn was doing something in the kitchen and Matthew was playing the piano and Shawn asked Matthew to play some background theme music to whatever it was Shawn was doing and he just immediately switched into a funny made up theme song for Shawn. We're endlessly entertained by the piano around here.

So here is Matthew's latest song. I think this is what he's planning to play for the Spring recital in May, so he has some more time to practice it before he has to perform it. I love that kid! His piano skills make me happy!


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Wendy's guide to Cancun

Sit yourself down, it's time to recap the vacation! :)

We did make it home in one piece, by the way. The trip home was a bit chaotic but mostly fine. If you read my last post, I think it's clear how I feel about flying, lol. I was not a happy camper that morning. I love to go on vacation, and I'm relaxed and happy while we're there, but the day of any flight I'm not really a very enjoyable person. Thank goodness I married the worlds most patient and understanding man. :) 

Before I start with the vacation recap, I have to finish the snow globe story! I mentioned it in my last post, right? Clarissa wanted a snow globe from Mexico. I bought her one, and it broke, so I bought her another one right before we left for the airport to come home and it was confiscated by airport security for having more than 3oz of liquid. 

After I made my blog post and we were waiting to get on the plane to leave Cancun, it was really bugging me that I was coming home without that darn snow globe! It was the only thing she asked for and she has been fixated on snow globes lately, so I know she was looking forward to it.

But I had already bought TWO! I so didn't want to spend the money on a third one, especially at the airport, where everything is ridiculously expensive. So I sat there and tried not to think about it and at the last minute I decided I was going to bring home that darn snowglobe!  I don't usually indulge my kids like that, and I know it seems silly. I missed Clarissa all week and I just wanted to bring her home a darn snowglobe. 

So we bought snowglobe #3 at the Cancun airport. It was the fanciest and most expensive of the three, because the airport knows they can charge whatever they want. I hate airports. 

So we stuck snowglobe #3 in the carry on luggage again, because at that point we had already been through security so we didn't worry about it getting taken away. 

We flew from Cancun to Denver and then had to go through customs before catching our next flight from Denver to Boise. We got to Denver, went through customs, picked up our luggage and checked it back in...and then we realized that we had to go through security again AND WE HAD A SNOWGLOBE IN OUR CARRY ON!! 

Folks, this could only happen to us. Seriously. We're intelligent people, I swear we are, but sometimes we're really dumb, lol. I chalk it up to being heavily medicated and stressed out by airports. And Shawn has to be my travel companion, and he's too busy making sure I'm just medicated enough so that I don't have a meltdown in the airport, but not too medicated that he has to carry me through customs. I married a phamacist just so I could be properly dosed and monitored at airports. :) 

So there we were, standing in the security line and I'm on the verge of tears because I know that we're just about to have snow globe #3 confiscated by security. I hate airports, I didn't want to get on another plane, I was tired, I just spent my life savings on snow globes and I was a woman on the verge. Make a note to yourself, if you know me in person and ever get the opportunity to travel with me and it requires an airplane, you should probably decline. Also, if you travel and buy a snow globe, just put the stupid thing in your checked luggage!! 

BUT, by some miracle, the universe smiled upon us that day in the Denver airport. We sent our bags through the scanner and they didn't say a word about the snowglobe. Snowglobe #3 survived the journey, made it to Boise, and the first thing Clarissa said to me when we got her in the car to take her home was "did you buy me a snow globe?!". Yes, I did, kid. Yes I did. She has been carrying that thing around like a prized possession ever since. 

So now that I have shared with you the riveting saga of the snowglobe, here is my vacation recap, with a few tips in case you ever decide to go to Cancun, which you should do, because it's pretty awesome. 

The resort we stayed at was The Moon Palace. That place ROCKED. Figuring out where to stay in Cancun is incredibly difficult. There are a billion resorts there and they all have their own pros and cons. When we first decided to go there, I got on Travelocity and started looking for hotels and it was totally nuts. There are pages and pages of resorts to choose from. How do you ever decide? We knew we wanted something all inclusive. Cancun has tons of all inclusive resorts, and the best way I can describe them is like a cruise ship without the boat. Food is included, there are excursions you can take, there is nightly entertainment, and really, at most of the nicer ones you could probably spend the whole week and never leave the resort and have a great time. 

I read resort reviews for weeks. Choosing a resort was the hardest part. It's not particularly cheap to go there, and what I wanted and what I could afford didn't always match up. And then, kind of by accident, I stumbled into an awesome deal. A lot of the resorts in Cancun are time shares. You can stay there if you don't own a time share, but a lot of the people who do stay there are time share owners. I discovered that at the Moon Palace (and maybe other resorts, I don't know) there are time share owners who have a high enough status at the resort that they can book trips for other people. They help you book your trip, you get a really good discount over the regular price, you get an upgraded status at the resort and I think the guy who helped us book must get some sort of kickback from the resort. I honestly still don't really get how it works. Honestly, it sounded like a scam at first, but I researched the heck out of it for days and it was legit. They did try to schedule a time share presentation with us when we got to the resort but we told them we weren't interest in attending any sort of presentation and they didn't push it. 

So we pretty much chose the resort based on finding a guy who could get us a deal. It looked like a nice place and the price he got us for seven days was cheaper than I could get for five days on any of the travel sites. It was still expensive, but doable, and as it turns out, totally worth it because the Moon Palace is the nicest place I've ever stayed in my life! It was upscale and beautiful.

Before we went I was a little nervous, because that resort is kind of out in the middle of nowhere when it comes to hotels. Cancun has what they call the hotel zone, where all the hotels and touristy things are, and the Moon Palace is 20-30 minutes down the shore from all of that. I wasn't sure if that was going to be a good thing or a bad thing, but it turns out it was an awesome thing! We visited the hotel zone twice on our trip. There are nice hotels there, but they're all very crammed together and it's a very busy, crowded place. 

The Moon Palace isn't a tall hotel, it's a whole bunch of small buildings spread out over a huge area. I know I've already gone on and on about how big that place was, but it was huge. It's broken into three sections, and I loved the way it's laid out because parts of it are really busy and loud with lots of excitement and activity and parts of it are extremely quiet and peaceful. So when you want excitement you hop the shuttle bus over to that part and when you want peace and quiet you head back over to the other side. Our room was in a very quiet section. The front overlooked a beautifully landscaped courtyard and we had a huge window and a balcony right on the water. I loved opening the curtains every morning to see the sun sparkling on the ocean. It was peaceful and beautiful and perfect.

It also has 14 restaurants that you get to eat at for free all day long because it's all inclusive. There are huge buffets, free room service, grills by the pool, fancy restaurants, casual restaurants, it was awesome. When we got home we were a little sad that there were no one here to make us an omlet in the morning and grill us a steak at night, lol.  There are also a whole bunch of really nice swimming pools and a ton of activities. You can hang out there and eat and play in the pool and play in the ocean and enjoy the nightly entertainment and live like kings and never even leave the resort. 

That's actually we thought we we're going to do when we first got there. We had the monkey thing planned, but mostly we thought we might just hang out by the pool. But to us, that got old quicker than we thought it would. The resorts in Mexico are very Americanized, and we really wanted to experience Mexico. I can lay by a pool in my own town. I wanted to see Mexico.

So we kept pretty busy. One thing about Cancun that you discover really quickly, is the excursions. The second you step off the plane in Cancun, you're practically attacked by people trying to sell you an excursion. Before we left, people kept warning us not to talk to anyone in the Cancun airport, and I didn't know what the big deal was. I found out really quickly! So now I'm telling you. If you go to Cancun, don't talk to anyone at the airport. To get out of the airport, you literally have to walk through a gauntlet of people shoving fliers at you and trying to get you to sign up for snorkeling or boat rides or zip lining or island tours or any of the fifty bazillion other things you can do in Cancun. It's a little overwhelming when you just stepped foot in the country and suddenly you have a bunch of people in your face.

But if you can get through that and get to the hotel and really take some time to look at the different excursions, there are some cool ones, and the resort is of course more than happy to help you book excursions. At one point in our trip we actually ended up at the Cancun Walmart and we had two different people try to sell us excursions at Walmart. They're everywhere. It's crazy.

You can do pretty adventurous things there, but honestly I'm not super adventurous, so we decided against a lot of things that are probably super fun, but made me nervous. Also, my glasses were a problem in Cancun. I had to take them off for the monkeys, you can't wear them to snorkel, you can't wear them to swim with the dolphins, etc. I'm blind without my glasses and I didn't want to spend the week not being able to see my vacation! If you wear glasses and decide to go to Cancun, consider contacts for the trip. I'm still a little bummed about the whole no glasses in the monkey cage thing. The monkey trip was still absolutely amazing, but not being able to see put a little damper on it.

The big excursion we chose was Tulum, one of the Mayan ruin sites. I wanted to see a little of the history of Mexico. We like history and we knew that would be a place we would enjoy. We had a great time there. The excursions are great because if you schedule them with the hotel, a bus picks you up in the lobby, takes you where you need to go, you have a guide to show you around and then they take you back to your hotel. It's really easy and felt safe and it was quite enjoyable. There were a bunch of bellhops at the front of the resort who just spend all day getting people to where they need to go. It's really easy to get around there. Even with the monkey trip, which wasn't a normal excursion and was a place almost no one had heard of, the bellhops had it covered. They found us someone who knew where it was and got us there safely.

If I ever go back to Cancun, that monkey sanctuary is the first place I'll go. If you go to Cancun, you absolutely MUST go there. It's called The Jungle Place. It's not a normal excursion, the hotel will probably not know what you're talking about if you ask about it, and you have to schedule your tour several weeks in advance because they only do a few tours a week and they're always full. You can find them at www.thejungleplace.com. It's kind of expensive, it's kind of tricky to find someone to take you out there (ask a bellhop. The bellhops know everything about transportation.) but it is totally worth it. I would go back there a million times.

One day on our trip we took a bus from the resort down to the hotel zone to do some shopping. The Moon Palace in in the middle of nowhere, so it's a bit of a drive to get to actual Cancun. But the resort takes you there for free in a nice air conditioned bus, so it's really not bad. Once we went to the hotel zone and saw how crowded it was and how crammed together the hotels are, we were even more glad that we were out at Moon Palace, where everything was open and spacious. After spending a week at Moon Palace, I don't think I would enjoy staying in the hotel zone. There are two other palace hotels in the hotel zone (Beach Palace and Sun Palace) and if you stay at Moon Palace you get to go to either of those hotels and use their facilities, so we spent some time at the Beach Palace one day and it was a whole different experience. Still nice, but very different from Moon Palace.

Our day of shopping was really fun. We ate lunch at an authentic Mexican restaurant right on the water and it was one of my favorite parts of the trip. Spending time in Korea and now in Mexico, I have discovered that I really love experiencing other cultures. My favorite part of both of our international trips was having authentic cultural experiences. I want to eat the food and talk to the people. That part was my favorite.

Oh! And speaking of that! Shawn speaks fluent Spanish. He lived in the Bogota, Colombia area for two years and learned Spanish there. We have been married for almost 18 years and although I'm aware that he speaks Spanish, I've very rarely ever heard him speak it. When we went on this trip he wasn't sure if he was even still fluent. But it turns out he is, and I absolutely loved hearing him speak Spanish all week. You can get by just fine in Cancun without Spanish, but everyone we encountered loved that he attempted to speak Spanish. It came in handy a lot and made us a few friends along the way. I really enjoyed hearing Shawn speak Spanish. I've got to find more reasons for him to speak it now that we're home! :)

One of the things we planned to do on our trip that we didn't do was swim with dolphins. There were actually dolphins right at our resort. In fact, they were directly behind our room. When we opened our curtains we were looking right at the dock that led to the dolphins. But they weren't doing the dolphin excursion while we were there. It was closed for maintenance and training. But one day we borrowed a little rowboat from the hotel and rowed out into the ocean to the end of the dock and watched the trainers training dolphins through the fence. They saw us watching and gave us a little mini show and had the dolphins wave at us. I have mixed feelings about dolphin shows, so I'm kind of glad that the decision was made for us not to do a dolphin swim, but I also really enjoyed seeing them. They're such beautiful animals.

And speaking of animals, on our last day of our vacation, we decided to visit the Crococun Zoo. It's  very small zoo with a guide that takes you around. It's basically a petting zoo, but it's like no petting zoo you've ever seen! I'm used to petting goats and bunnies. At this zoo we petted snakes and crocodiles!

Yes, crocodiles!



We both held a baby crocodile and I held a great big snake. (I couldn't talk Shawn into it!) We got to feed and pet Mexican hairless dogs, a herd of Mexican deer, some wild monkeys who don't actually belong to the zoo, but show up because they get fed, and we got kissed by a parrot! :)


And then, the scariest moment of the week, we got to walk through an open crocodile enclosure! There is literally a long path right through the Crocodiles. You walk through right next to them. No barriers, no fences, just you and a tour guide and a whole bunch of gigantic crocodiles who look like they're ready to eat you. I'm an animal lover, and not particularly scared of any animal, but I'm not going to lie, walking through a crocodile pit was a little scary and definitely the craziest moment of the trip!

And while we were in there, our tour guide took our camera, walked down into the middle of the crocodiles and took our picture. It was both terrifying and, since we didn't die, a really cool story to tell later, lol.



Also, that ridiculous giant hat is there to hide the fact that my hair hates the humidity in Mexico! We live in an extremely dry climate. My hair freaked out when it encountered humidity. It wasn't super hot in Mexico, low to mid 80's, but the humidity was really hard for us, since we're not used to it. So I pretty much had the worst hair week of my life. We really didn't take very many photos of us for that reason, and all the ones we did take make me cringe just a little. It was either big hat or ridiculous hair. Yikes.

So this has become the longest blog post ever, but there was our vacation. We ate like kings, played on the beach, visited Mayan ruins, played with monkeys, walked through a crocodile pit, ate Mexican food on the water, bought three snow globes, got an epic massage at a fancy spa, saw REO Speedwagon in concert, rode a shuttle bus with drunk people, watched the sun set at the beach, got kissed by a parrot, I swooned over my husband speaking Spanish, we visited a Mexican Walmart, we shopped till we dropped, and we pretty much had the most epic, amazing, beautiful, romantic, wonderful, unforgettable week of our lives.

I didn't think I was a tropical vacation person. I wasn't sure if it was worth it to spend that much money on a weeks vacation. I didn't really want to leave my kids. I definitely didn't want to fly on an airplane. But I did all those things, I overcame some fears, I learned so many new things, I had a million amazing experiences and I would do it all again. Even if it meant flying on an airplane.

But that darn snowglobe....I would have put that thing in my checked luggage the first time. :)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Airports

After an absolutely glorious week in Mexico, I am currently sitting in the Cancun airport having a not so fantastic time! Ugh, I hate airports. I woke up this morning with a knot in my stomach, knowing I was going to have to fly today and I turned my phone on and found out thqt a plane crashed overnight. Fabulous. I'm sad for those people and even more terrified to get on the plane.

We reluctantly left the resort this morning and headed out to the airport. I'm not a fan of airports and The Cancun airport is particularly chaotic and unpleasant. I have a headache, I'm a little cranky and I don't want to get on the plane. I took some anxiety medication a few minutes ago in hopes that it will chill me out enough to get on the plane. We'll see.

Before we left, Clarissa said she wanted a snow globe from Mexico. We bought her a cheap one at a tourist spot the other day. This morning when we were packing we realized it had broken. So before we left the resort this morning I ran to the gift shop and bought her another more expensive one. I tossed it in the carry on bag, not thinking, and it got confiscated by airport security for being over 3oz. I'm already nervous and stressed and on edge and that didn't help. :( I know not to carry liquid in a carry on bag. Dumb mistake. I can buy her another one at the gift shop here, but they're expensive and I already bought two.

Our plane doesn't leave for another hour. Either the medication is going to chill me out in a few minutes or I'm going to lose it. Let's play a game of guess which one, lol. I'll be fine. Medication is a wonderful thing.

The one bright spot of the Cancun airport is that they have a candy store with German Kinder chocolate. I stocked up. Good chocolate and medication might get me through this.

Ok. Medication kicking in. Meltdown over. I might just make it home after all.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Cancun: day five or six or something

True story, it was about two hours into my day today before I figured out what day of the week it is. I have no idea. I lost track of day and time in this place.

But I have determined that it is, in fact, Sunday, and we have to go home in two more days. They're going to have to drag me out of here kicking and screaming! (Well, partly that might be because I'm going to have to get back on a plane when I leave here.) 

Yesterday we got up bright and early and took a tour to Tulum, which is a Mayan ruins site. We had a great tour guide, who was really funny and knowledgable and we had a great time, but it was hot, humid, and my feet are protesting all the walking we've done lately. When we planned this vacation we imagined sitting by the beach for a week and doing nothing, but really we've been quit busy. We did go sit in the beach the first day and got kind of bored and decided to plan outings. Which has been awesome, because we've discovered that we prefer exploring over sitting on the beach, but I'm not used to walking miles a day in humidity and it's wearing me out! But Tulum was really cool. I had a necklace made that is my name in Mayan hieroglyphics. I'm one of those sucker tourists who buys all the souvineers. There was also a guy there who had a baby lion and for $35 he would let you hold it and take your picture. We didn't do that because $35 is silly to hold a lion for two minutes and I have issues with how animals like that are treated, but I wanted to hold the lion sooo bad. I refrained. But it was cute. 

So after Tulum we came back to our room for a couple of hours and rested and then last night we went to an REO Speedwagon concert. So this resort is massively huge. Every time you've seen it all, there is more of it. There is a huge convention center here and they get real bands for shows sometimes, and if you're a certain status at the resort you get free tickets. So we got the free tickets and decided to go check it out. We didn't really know what to expect, but it ended up being a fancy dinner show. There was a huge room in the convention center and they have 300 tables set up with 10 seats per table. So that was 3,000 people there for dinner and the concert. 

Shawn and I are not very adventurous people when it comes to nightlife. Our idea of a wild and crazy night is pizza and Netflix, lol. But we've been enjoying lots of new experiences on this trip so we were game for whatever. The dinner was a fancy five course meal, with some foods I've never heard of and can't pronounce, but it was delicious.

After dinner the concert started. We like REO Speedwagon, so that was fun. The lead singer has got to be in his mid 60's, at least, and he was rocking some seriously tight pants!

After the concert we took the shuttle bus back to our lobby. Now, again, Shawn and I are not wild and crazy when it comes to nightlife. We don't drink and we're homebodies. I have very little experince with even being around people who drink. We're boring Mormons from Idaho, we don't get out much! So there we were on a shuttle bus full of drunk people and let me tell you, drunk people on a shuttle bus are hilarious when you're the only one sober. It was a wild ride back to the lobby, lol. 

Today we decided to take it easy and take a break from the adventure because my feet are killing me, so we're having a down day. This morning we had a couples massage scheduled! Shawn has never had a massage and I've only had one, years ago, so we weren't sure what to expect. 

They picked us up at the lobby and shuttled us out to the spa. Did I mention how huge this place is?! We discovered a whole new part of the resort on the way out there. The spa was big and fancy anD amazing. We had an 80 minute aromatherapy massage. Pure heaven. Shawn wasn't sure if he was going to like it, but he absolutely loved it! We were so relaxed we could barely get ourselves back to our lobby. 

This afternoon we're taking it easy. There is a mini golf course near our room that I think we're going to try out, and we might take a little paddle boat in the ocean. We're mostly just hanging out around the resort today. 

Tomorrow is our last full day here. We're thinking of going to a zoo that is nearby. One last chance for me to interact with some animals before we leave!

This trip has been absolutely amazing and I'm going to be so sad to leave! But I'm looking forward to seeing the kids again, so I guess a week away is long enough. I really miss my kids!! 

But for now, we're off to enjoy the resort while we still can! Another fun day in Mexico! 



Thursday, March 19, 2015

Monkeyin' around

Well, today was officially the coolest day ever! It was monkey day!!

So this was this big thing I planned weeks before we came on this trip and I've been impatiently waiting to the day to arrive. It did not dissapoint! 

The place we went to is not a well known tourist spot. It's in the middle of nowhere in the jungle. The tour scheduler people at the resort had never heard of it when we asked. So I was a little nervous about that because you have to find your own transportation, and I'm not kidding when I say that it's actually in the middle of the jungle! 

So my plan was to make friends with a bellhop, because they always know what's up and they hang out at the front of the resort and work with transportation. They know the cabs. So our new friend Marco the bellhop hooked us up. :) He had never heard of the monkey place but we showed him where it was on the map and he said that he'd take care of it.

So this morning we met Marco in the lobby and he had a cab ready for us, and it was someone who did know the monkey place and had driven out there before. Whew. 

I was really worried about driving into the jungle with a stranger, but they're super careful at this resort. There is a checkpoint you have to stop at if you leave the property and they write down who you are, where you're going and who you're going with. We have to wear an ID bracelet all week at the resort and they can track us with the number on the bracelet. So when we left the resort, they knew who was taking us and where he was taking us. That made me feel less nervous. 

So it turns out it's a good thing the guy knew where he was going. It was about an hour drive from the resort and the last 15 minutes or so of the drive was on a really bumpy dirt road into the jungle. Like, complete middle of nowhere, not by a town, dirt road jungle. 

But then we made it to the monkey place and it was AMAZING. Amazing doesn't even begin to explain this place. It's a husband and wife who run it. They have heavy European accents, I'm not sure where they're from, but years ago they were in Mexico and someine was trying to sell a sick baby monkey. They were horrified by the condition of the monkey, so they took it and nursed it back to health. Eventually that led to taking in another injured monkey, and then another and now they run an amazing monkey sanctuary in the jungle with probably fifty monkeys at least. They live there with the monkeys and the place is awesome. The monkeys have huge cages to swing around in. It's clean and nice and amazing. You can tell that the monkeys are extremely well taken care of.

They don't do a lot of tours because they don't want to stress out the monkeys. The only reason they do tours at all is to raise money to keep the place running, and as they told us, the monkeys aren't entertainment for us, we're there to entertain the monkeys, lol. Sometimes the monkeys enjoy the company.

So it was a small group and they give you all the rules and do's and don'ts so everyone is safe, and they only let you interact with the gentlest female monkeys, not the males, who tend to be more aggressive. 

And then, the only part that was a bummer for me, was that they made us empty our pockets and take off our glasses. Monkeys tend to steal things, lol. That means you can't take in anything stealable. I am really blind without my glasses, so going in with no glasses was a bummer.

But anyway, they took us into a big monkey cage and we sat on the floor and the monkeys came over to us. They gave us treats to feed them, so the monkeys quickly examined everyone's hands to see what we were holding and we handed over the treats.

And then we basically just sat in the monkey cage for an hour and let monkeys use us a climbing toys! Sometimes they would come over and sit in our laps and wrap their long arms around our necks and snuggle. They all loved Shawn for some reason and kept coming over to sit on his shoulders. I was fascinated by their long tails, which they would wrap around our legs when they sat on us. Their tails are so strong! 

It was amazing. Simply amazing. I teared up a bit the first time one snuggled with me. What beautiful, incredible  animals. I could honestly have stayed there with them all day. 

But after about an hour, they were tired of us and we were out of monkey treats and they started to wander off to take a nap and it was time to go. I was sad to leave. 

The cool thing is that the guy who runs the place collected everyone's cameras at the beginning and he did all the picture taking while we played. He walked around and took a ton of photos with all the cameras, so that we could enjoy the monkeys without being distracted by picture taking. So we got some fun pictures, although I hate that my glasses aren't on because I don't look like me without me glasses. But still, I'm happy for the photos to remind me of what an amazing experience it was. I don't know how anything could top it in this trip, and that's saying a lot, because we're having an amazing vacation! 

This whole trip has been a magical experience. The place we're staying is super fancy. Our room is beautiful, right on the beach. The resort is gigantic. So big that it has three lobbies and there is a shuttle bus to get you from one end to the other. So there is a ton to do here. A ton of pools and restaurants and activities. It's an all inclusive resort, so the food is included and there is food everywhere! Buffets, grills by the pool, sit down restaurants, all sorts of things. There is an outdoor grill station near our room that we discovered yesterday and at dinner they grill chicken and steak and it's the best steak we've ever had. We ate there last night and again tonight. SO good! There are little ice cream shops and snack bars and it's weird to just walk in and order something and walk out without paying. We had chocolate crepes yesterday and amazing caramel ice cream this afternoon. My clothes aren't going to fit by the time we go home. 

Tomorrow we don't have anything planned, so we might do some shopping or visit another resort. This resort has a few sister resorts down the shore and we can use any of them. So we can catch a shuttle bus and try out a different beach.

So yeah, this has pretty much been the greatest vacwtion of my life. We don't really take vacations like this, so it has been a totally new experience. 

On Saturday we're taking a little trip to visit some Mayan ruins and then in the evening we're actually going to an REO Speedwagon concert! They just happen to be at the resort this week and they gave us free tickets. Cool! 

We've talked to the kids a few times and they're doing great. I was worried that Clarissa would have a hard time, but she seems to be having a great time at her friends house. I'm glad, that makes it easier to enjoy myself here, knowing they're having a good time too.

So now we're off to watch a movie and end out the day. I hate to go to bed at night here because it means one more day of the vacation is over. Sad!! I hope the next few days pass slowly. I'm not ready to go home yet! :) 


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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Room with a view

The view from the front of our room looks like this:



And the view from the other side of our room looks like this:



Life is gooood. :) 

Monkeys tomorrow!!!