Mexico Fun In the Sun

I’ve told you about the room. I’ve told you about the food. (OMG the food.)

Now it’s time to tell you about the FUN.

Because there was a lot of fun.

So, I’m one of those people who loves researching travel locations, but not actually planning things. I like exploring possibilities. I don’t like scheduling. I hate feeling like I have to do this on this day, and that on that day. I just want to know what’s available, and then do whatever I feel like doing that day.

All that to say, we looked at lots of things before we left. Other than that, we made no plans.

We left the resort exactly once.

We booked an excursion through Best Day at the resort, though the actual excursion was with Aventuras Mayas. It was an adventure excursion, which wasn’t necessarily our first choice, but turned out to be a mostly good time. We ziplined, rode ATVs, swam in a cenote, and snorkeled in an underground cavern. We ended up buying the photo CD, so I have some good ones for you!!

First up were ziplines. This was on my up-in-smoke list, so there was no way I was missing it.

The four of us, plus Donny, who rode on the bus with us. We let him crash our picture since his wife didn't zip.

The four of us, plus Donny, who rode on the bus with us. We let him crash our picture since his wife didn’t zip.

So up the tower we went. There were three lines. I’m not going to say climbing the tower was fun, because it wasn’t. Lots of stairs, though honestly, they weren’t that bad….just a little steep. Unfortunately, the higher we climbed, the more it sank in what we were about to do.

I’m not afraid of heights, but I am afraid of not having something solid under me. Ferris wheels are terrifying. Suspension bridges are a problem. Ziplining was going to be a problem.

I was second-to-last in our group. Jimmie went after me. I climbed up on the little step, and looked out over the trees at that wire, and no way on Earth was that happening. Nope. I felt tears threatening (thank goodness for sunglasses), and I could feel the panic mounting. Jimmie said I just all of a sudden went rigid and started backing up, saying “I can’t do this, can’t do this.” I vaguely remember the guy (Lazaro I think was his name) telling me, ok, just step up here and let’s get you hooked in, and if you still don’t want to go, no problem.” So I did, and I leaned back like I was supposed to, and as soon as I felt the tension in the line I started breathing again….and then he gave me a shove and off I went.

Lazaro must have radioed ahead that there was a terrified white girl hurtling down the line, because when I got to the second tower the staff there kept asking me if I was ok. That, or maybe I looked like I was going to puke. I wasn’t…after about 10 feet I realized I wasn’t going to die, and it was kinda fun. Going off the second tower was easier, and by the third, I was actually enjoying myself.

DSC_9728So, I did it, and I can mark it off my list. Do I ever need to do it again? Nope. I am glad, though, that I did it in Mexico, and not in Gatlinburg. Gatlinburg is probably prettier, but now I can say that the one time I ziplined, it was in Mexico.

They fed us lunch, which was yummy but unremarkable.

The second activity was the ATV ride. I decided I didn’t want to have to figure out how to drive one, so Jimmie drove and I navigated. By navigated, I mean I randomly flapped my arms like the crazy girl in front of me. There were signals, but I swear all she did was try to fly away. (At one point I got bored, and did the chicken dance for Raymond behind me….because obviously the flapping signal was meaningless. He got a kick out of that.)

IMG_0169So, I’m weird, but I thought the ATV ride was pretty boring. It reminded me a lot of riding go-karts, which I also find incredibly boring. I thought it might have been more fun had I been driving, but Jimmie said nope, it wasn’t. And we had dust everywhere.

We rode around for a while (too long, in my opinion), and then stopped at a cenote. A cenote is essentially a sinkhole. The water is very clear and beautiful. Unfortunately, they didn’t take pictures of this, so I can’t show you. Also unfortunately, the guides didn’t tell us we were going to be swimming in the middle of our ATV ride, so neither Jimmie nor I had our bathing suits on. We’d decided not to wear them under our clothes because we’re stupid. Anyway, they hassled us, so eventually both of us got in wearing our street clothes, which wasn’t a whole lot of fun. We were both pretty annoyed by the situation, and it kind of tainted that part of the tour. What made it even worse is that we were there for about 15 minutes, so we more or less got wet for nothing.

Then it was time for more ATV riding. Groan. Finally, we got back to the main drag and had a few minutes to change before going to the underground cave for some snorkeling.

DSC_7029This was by far my favorite part of the excursion. The water was cool, but not cold, and absolutely crystal clear. They gave us snorkel masks and life vests, so literally all you had to do was float and stick your face in the water. I can’t even describe it. I wish we’d had more time – honestly, they could have cut the ATV thing in half and given us more time in the cave. It was definitely the highlight.

IMG_8099We were gone the majority of the day, and were worn out when we got back. But happy.

ExcursionWould I recommend that tour? Maybe…. it was a little on the expensive side (though to be fair, all excursions are overpriced). It was also highly unorganized. We spent a lot of time just waiting around for instructions. But, I got to cross an item off my list, see a beautiful cave, and at least get out into Mexico a little bit.

I’m glad we did it, but one excursion was enough for me. I really enjoyed just sitting by the pool. And the beach.

Valentin Imperial Maya Beach 2The beach was beautiful. The water was crystal clear – I’m sorry I don’t have a good picture of it. I wasn’t really willing to take my phone that close. You’d get in the water, and there were all these Angel fish swimming around. We even saw a Barracuda the last day. A little surprising to have fish all around you, but after a few minutes you got used to it.

My one complaint about the beach – well, and about the Valentin – is the lack of seating. They had palapa thingies, and beach loungers, but no where near enough of them. We went down at 11am the first day, and everything was taken. So the next morning, we got up early – 7am – and went down there. People were already reserving chairs, but we got some. We did that three days, up at the crack of dawn. It wasn’t horrible, but it shouldn’t have been necessary. We’d grab our chairs, I’d go back to sleep, and then we’d go grab breakfast around 10. Come back, lounge under our umbrella for a few more hours, then head to the pool.

Beach from PalapaThey have Bali beds that you get if you have the Privilege Package – which is $60/person/day. We didn’t get it, and it wasn’t until we got home that I read something about you could have reserved the bed without the package. Wish we’d known that, because we would have done it at least once or twice, just so we didn’t have to worry about it. Again though, if the resort had more seating, it wouldn’t have been an issue (and there was plenty of room, so there’s really no reason why there shouldn’t have been enough loungers).  Regardless, we went to Mexico for a beach, so we made the most of it.

Beach DayWe also spent a lot of time at the pool. Since we were in the Golden Suites, the Lazy River pool was right behind our building. We loved it. It wasn’t a river exactly – there wasn’t a current – but it was shaped like one. They said it was only for people in the Golden Suites, but they weren’t enforcing that and nobody really cared.

Lazy River Golden Pool

View from our balcony of the Lazy River Golden Pool

We wandered over to the main pool one day and quickly came back to the river…it was laid back, quiet, and relaxing. The main pool was the party pool, and we heard more than one story about someone throwing up from drinking too much. Not what we were going for. It was beautiful though.

Main Pool in MorningEvery day, the resort’s activities staff had tons of things planned. We didn’t participate in any of them because we were either lazy or forgetful. We missed the tequila tasting because our flight got in too late. There were things like vollyball, craft lessons, cooking lessons, games, bike tours, Spanish lessons. They also had a Scuba demo one day – we didn’t go, assuming they’d have it again. Sadly, they didn’t, so I kinda wish I’d gone that day we saw it. Had we been there longer, I definitely would have done more of the activities….as it was, I just wanted to work on my tan.

The one activity I actually did do was Yoga. The entire week I said I was going to go, but I didn’t make it until the day we left (what can I say, it was at 8am). I wish I had gone sooner, because that was the best yoga class I’ve ever taken. Barbara was awesome. There were about 8 of us there, and about 3 of us had yoga experience. It was really tough, but also really cool, and I was really proud when Barbara told me I had a great practice. And that class kicked my ass…I was sore for 3 days. So worth it.

The other fun thing about the resort was the entertainment. Every night there was a different show, and live music both before and after. We missed most of the before music because we were at dinner, and only caught some of the after music because we were lame and tired from getting up to be on the beach at 7am. Our favorite show was the Michael Jackson show – which happened to be on Jimmie’s birthday. Absolutely fabulous show. I know, believe me, I was skeptical too. Phenomenal. Sorry my picture sucks.



We also enjoyed the Circus show and the Fire show. The Vegas show was ok, the Mayan show would have been better had we known what was going on, and the International show was…not good. We left that one. We missed the Caribbean show. I’ve seen better entertainment on cruise ships, overall, but it was something to do in the evening. We did really enjoy the funk band, and it was fun to watch everyone dancing in the plaza. I kept my dance moves to myself.

Mexican Buffet

Mexican Buffet Night

We also spent a few nights in the Sports Bar, with Jorge, our favorite bartender. They had Jenga in there – Jimmie had never played, so we had to teach him. He kinda hates it.

Jimmie Hates JengaIt was kinda cool because people had written on the Jenga tiles. A lot were really crude, but there was this one…

Jenga DogsAnd there you have it. Our Mexico trip. And one last photo to show off my tan.

Last NightThe only souvenirs I brought back were a couple of bracelets, a traditional Mexican headband, and a tiny sombrero. I bet you can’t guess who the sombrero was for.

0713140100Actually, it was originally for Howard, who keeps me company at work. He really likes holidays.

2014-07-02-11-08-37The trip was fabulous, and over entirely too soon. I desperately want to go back. Desperately. You should go, if you have a chance. If you do, take me along….

Read Part 1 about the journey and our room,  and Part 2 about the food and drinks for more Mexico love!!