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Me-hee-co

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On the beach in Mexico

Just a few weeks after traveling to California, I went down to Mexico last month for my brother Al’s wedding.  Yep it must have been wedding season again, because aside from the two family weddings I also had a few friends get married too.  Anyway this was a destination wedding down in the Riviera Maya area of Mexico near Cancun, where from what I could tell 75% of the area is devoted entirely to all-inclusive resorts for Americans.  The other 25% of Riviera Maya is devoted to trashy looking stores alongside the crazy highway that probably cater to the locals (who almost all work in the resorts).  I had never been to Mexico before, so this was a pretty interesting trip, although going to a resort means that you’re pretty much still in America and don’t exactly get to experience a Mexico for what it is.  Instead it’s kind of like a very spoiled version of the US, where food and drinks are all free, you don’t have to wear pants or shoes, and you live next to the beach.  So while I didn’t get to experience what Mexico as a country is really like, I did get to experience what it is like as a vacation spot.

It was a small group going down for the wedding – pretty much just family and a few friends of the couple.  We were at a resort called Dreams Puerto Aventuras, which I heard is supposed to be one of the smaller places but it was still pretty awesome.  There were at least 5 different restaurants on the property, several bars around the beach, a few swimming pools, a creeper danceclub/bar inside the main building for older people to dance to disco, and other random activities inside the main building and around the beach.  It was all inclusive, which is a pretty amazing concept that I hadn’t experienced before.  Basically (and I have no idea if this is standard for these kinds of resorts, but it probably is) you pay 1 price per person, which includes round trip airfare and your room at the resort for x number of nights.  While you’re staying at the resort, you don’t have to pay any extra for food, drinks, etc.  It came out to be really reasonably especially considering how much food and drink we gorged ourselves on.  The food was pretty good quality too, and room service was included pretty much 24/7 (more on that later).

It’s a little hard to remember what order we did stuff in since we were all pretty much just relaxing the whole trip (I’m not including Al and Amanda in that, who actually had to do some planning for their wedding).  For the first two days we pretty much just ate and hanged out around the beach.  The resort’s signature drink is the “Miami Vice” which is basically just half pina colada and half strawberry daiquiri.  And I am not embarrassed at all to admit that I drank these (not exclusively of course).  WE WERE ON VACATION AT THE BEACH.  OK maybe a little embarrassed.

One night my parents and my other brother Joe took a cab off the resort to the local town called Playa del Carmen.  It was actually my mom’s birthday and we got info from the concierge about a local casino.  Apparently it’s not advertised too much that gambling is legal, but the place we went to called “Win Pot” was real modern if not a little small.  They had only machines, including a digital roulette setup which was pretty cool.  Also minimum bets were super low (it being Mexico).  When we came back to the resort that night, we headed to the beach/restaurant area.  There was some kind of event going on, and over the loudspeaker I hear my other brother Al on the microphone introducing himself.  “Al from Missouri.”  Huh?  So yeah we got closer and apparently they were doing some kind of dance contest and my brother was unwillingly one of four contestants.  They had one of the staff members dance to the song “Kuliki-taka,” and the contestants then had to imitate the dance/do their own thing one by one.  It was pretty hilarious.  Even better that Al ended up winning.  No prize, but the best story of the trip.  It was really dark so we couldn’t get any really good pictures, and when he was actually dancing we were too shocked and horrified to get any photos or video.  Probably one of the biggest mistakes we made, but the story will undoubtedly live on forever at family gatherings.

Al getting ready to win the contest

Night before the wedding, Al had to stay in me and Joe’s room since the hotel didn’t have any open rooms for him and he wasn’t allowed to see the bride after midnight.  And instead of going out to drink or something, we ended up staying in the room and ordering room service.  No, let me be more specific.  We ordered a TON of room service.  I think between the three of us we got like 9 dishes, and this was after we had already eaten a normal dinner.  Why did we do this?  Because we could.  The guy showed up with the food as was like “Hola seniors!  Somebody’s huuuunggrryyy!”  There’s not really much else to say about how ridiculous this unnecessary second dinner was, so just go ahead and take a look for yourselves:

Somebody's hungry!

So yeah that was pretty disgusting.  We didn’t even end up eating it all, and had to hide the remains so they didn’t think we were total jerks.  Todo valle!

The day of the wedding, it was pretty relaxed until around lunchtime, then we had to start getting ready for the big event, which was scheduled to happen in the late afternoon so they could have pictures at sunset.  Luckily Al did not throw up on himself like I might have suggested, although he was feeling pretty nervous about the big day.  He also ate about 3 bottles of Tums.  But the wedding went off pretty much perfect, although I still can’t believe that my brother threw in a “That’s what she said” during the ceremony.  Afterwards about twenty thousand photos were taken, and me and dad creeped around and took a bunch of pictures ourselves, even though Al and Amanda ended up buying all the professional ones anyway.  There was a small cocktail hour and then a private dinner on the beach, with a violinist who I think only my dad clapped for between every song.

Congrats to Al and Amanda!

My brother is not actually that tall.

And what better way to wrap up a nice wholesome family adventure, than to go on a fishing trip?  Um.  So yeah the morning after the wedding, everyone’s still tired but for some reason we had scheduled to go deep sea fishing.  We all piled onto a fairly small boat, just us and three crew members, and went flying out into the ocean.  Horrible, horrible idea.  At first I guess it all sounded pretty fun, and even during the mini orientation we had at the dock it sounded like it could be a cool trip.  You have a chance to catch a lot of different fish, including huge ridiculous ones like marlins and swordfish.  For some reason I did not really take into account the whole seasickness factor, and we forgot to even bring the Dramamine we had bought for this purpose.  I can’t actually say I’ve ever gotten seasick before, yet of course I’ve never really been on a boat this (relatively) small in the freaking ocean.  I don’t get carsick usually and never get planesick, but I don’t like roller-coasters.  And that’s pretty much what going into the ocean on a little diesel-powered boat feels like.  A constant up and down, up and down, giving me (and my brothers) a pretty bad feeling in the stomach.  Please note that during this whole time my parents are both smiling and looking like they’re having a great time, apparently immune to this horrible up and down feeling as the boat was propelling towards what felt like Liberia.  Note: things are about to get a little gross in the next paragraph.

I think I sprayed this guy with puke.

Near the beginning we caught a few small bonitas or tunas, just a foot long or so.  At one point when it was my “turn” we had a huge sailfish on the line, that actually jumped out of the water and looked like a dimetrodon, but it got away.  I find it amazing how fish can even manage to grab onto the tow lines coming off the boat, considering we are moving at mach 5.   By that point the up and down feeling had gotten pretty bad, and I just stood up and announced “Yep, I’m going to puke.”  I think everyone thought I was kidding since I said it pretty normal, but then they saw me hanging over the side of the boat spraying chunks all over.  It was even worse because we were cutting through the turbulent water so fast that salt water would spray all over me with every wave.  I pretty much felt like a torture victim, hanging on for life while puking and being sprayed with water and wind.  I thought Al was being really nice when he asked if I wanted to turn the boat around and go back, but I said to keep going on as planned. He actually wasn’t being nice or anything, it’s just that he also felt like crap and wanted to go back.  So yeah after a few minutes of puking I went back and used all of my energy to make myself fall asleep immediately.  Thank goodness that worked, and I was able to pass out for most of the remainder of the ride.  If it hadn’t been for that special power it would have been a pretty miserable few hours.  My brothers were in pretty bad shape too.

I don’t care that I’m not a sea-man.  I’d rather stay here on land and order room service.

And that is the end to this drawn out account of my trip to Riviera Maya.  It was overall a pretty awesome trip (I could have done without the boat ride) and I’d totally go down there again sometime (But seriously, no more boat rides.)

Nellyville

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I’m back at home in St. Louis now, for a week or so. The drive back was pretty uneventful; I was able to make it in a little under 4 hours, which is good time. There was some middle aged guy in a purple Toyota minivan on I-70 who really liked tailgating me, so of course I had to show him what driving is all about. Unfortunately, we did not get into a Tokyo drifting race, but I sped way ahead of him nonetheless. I haven’t been back home since I left from winter break in January, so it’s nice being able to see the fam and relax. Apparently, one of my uncles is in town from California as well, the one that I haven’t seen in a few years. I’ve never met his wife either, although they’ve been married since before I was born. We might be having a huge Leong family dinner on Friday night, so this should be interesting.

In other St. Louis news, I have a “secret interview” tomorrow, but I’m not going to talk much about it yet. We’ll see what (if anything) comes from it.

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So far today has definitley been one of the best days I’ve had in a long time. First, took my Japanese test and did really well on it. Hardly any uncertainties. Then, picked up a few copies of “The Herald Times” (Bloomington newspaper), with a story about Hoosier Date? smack dab on the front page. I was quoted in the article even! Anyways, after that, Dad and Alex came to visit. Had lunch, showed Al the campus, etc. It would be good if he went to IU, even if I’m not here next fall (going to Japan!)

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