you boys like mexico‽


Winter is dragging along as usual so I've been living vicariously through my vacation photos. While doing so it occurred to me that while I posted numerous photos of my most recent vacation to my photostream, I neglected to make any mention on it here. A travesty indeed.

Most people understand the difficulty that arises when trying to coordinate visits with one's entire family. This is especially true with my family, as there are 10 of us (not including spouses, significant others and offspring). As a result, my family assembles en masse only occasionally. If we're lucky we gather every two years over Christmas, that is, if we can all coordinate time off work, flights across the Pacific and sleeping arrangements for everyone involved. So when my oldest sister announced she was getting married in Mexico in November, all the siblings found a way to make it there for our first all family-vacation in years.

In the months leading up to the trip there were a lot of family conversations that went a little bit like this...

We are an overly enthusiastic bunch.

I had made my travel plans with Alessandra and we were amongst the first to arrive. My brother Renato, had traveled up from Japan two days earlier, and he met us at the Cancun airport where a shuttle was waiting for us to take us to our resort in Tulum.

We arrived at the resort compound as the sun was beginning to set. We ended up getting a room in the main building (very convenient because we didn't have to spend half an hour finding our room in the dark while trying to figure out the sort of confusing naming convention for the other buildings).

Apparently our resort was rather small in comparison to some of the other monster complexes that we passed on our drive. But small equals good. At the most you were only a ten minute walk from the restaurants, pool or beach. And that would have been a slow ten minute walk. The rooms were quite nice, our bathroom was pretty deluxe and other than some upgrades being done to one of the poolside bars, the resort was in great condition. At first it seemed a little odd to not venture exploring a new city, but we quickly adjusted to the ease of dropping in for the breakfast buffet, relaxing by the pool or the beach, and just generally hanging out. We had a large enough group that no one had to eat alone and no one had to eat with the same people every day. It was sort of an ideal place for a family of our size to gather. There were no fights about who wasn't helping in the kitchen or complaints about having to sleep on the floor. Everyone was happy.

the pool
the loros + extras the loros + extras

We ventured outside of the resort a couple times. Most of the family (save for Noemi who was spending time with the in-laws) made the quick trip to the ruins at Tulum (maybe a 5 minute drive). The temperatures before that day had been pretty moderate (mid 20s), but on the day we visited Tulum it was sweltering. We were still adjusting to the glorious warmth of the Caribbean sun and the few degree difference from +25 to +34 was significant. In the photos taken at the ruins site we all look like uncomfortable tourists, tired and a little bit grouchy and dying for a breeze.

Tulum Ruins
sad tourist
typical tourists
Tulum Ruins

But then we discovered what was to be our saving grace... the beach at Tulum. Incredible views, warm waters, soft and forgiving sand and big enough waves to satisfy my siblings' body surfing requirements. I was completely unprepared for the beach. I knew there was one near the ruins, but I didn't quite get that the access was through the ruins site. I think I anticipated spending more time exploring the ruins site itself, but as it was, we walked through rather quickly and once we discovered the beach we spent most of our time in the water.

the beach at tulumthe beach at tulum
the beach at tulumthe beach at tulumthe brothers loro
body surf

I was an idiot and wasn't wearing my bathing suit (nor did I even think to bring it along with me), so I ended up in the water looking like a bit of a fool wearing shorts and my blouse. It was so worth it though. The water was a perfect temperature and the beach area felt considerably cooler than the ruins up top. When we were walking about the ruins site I could feel a headache coming on and a refreshing swim helped to cool me down and give me a couple hours reprieve from a migraine. By the time I did get a migraine I was back at the resort and able to lie down in the cool room.

I was a bit apprehensive about whether or not I would enjoy staying at an all-inclusive resort. But once I sort of dealt with the feelings of first world guilt associated with staying in a locked-down compound where uniformed locals brought you drinks on the beach things improved. No one was under any delusions that our stay at the resort was giving us the real Mexican experience. We did our best to not seem like arrogant tourists and took a couple Spanish lessons so that at least we could make an effort to speak the local language. The staff were really friendly and always willing to have conversations with guests. And once we accepted the curated environment and what the artifice of the resort provided, it was a lot easier to enjoy ourselves.

There were still times when I had to try a little harder to let go of my inner cynic, particularly during the evenings when the scheduled entertainment had that element of camp about it. It's a performance like any other... the menu and the jokes are the same every week. But that doesn't mean that the food wasn't delicious or the jokes (sort of) funny. If you want a totally unique experience that has a little more element of spontaneity (and the added element of chaos) you should probably plan a different vacation. But with a group of our size, it was nice not to have to worry about all the details and just concentrate on the good company.

Noemi and Lucas J-bone and Tyler
Angela and Corina the day berto and davide decided to dress like twins
the audience the cheer team

And then of course there was the wedding. There were a few rain showers the day of the ceremony, which I think was actually ideal because no one was squinty in photos and there was that added element of drama from the stormy clouds. The rain stopped just long enough for the ceremony, but picked up again almost immediately afterwards. The dinner and reception moved indoors to one of the restaurant spaces that was closed that evening, but no one minded.

the venue
the wedding party
photo bomb

We danced until quite late, but not before that final round of drinks before we all went home.

all-inclusive excess

So in summary... Did we boys like Mexico?

Yes, yes we did. I still have the tanlines to prove it.