Updated: Sep 28, 2019
As we exit the plane and get our bags, we enter the all too familiar customs section. I will have to say that Mexico's customs are way more convenient than entering the U.S. We took our passports to the person sitting in the cubicle. They scan and stamp our passports, and we hit a button signaling a light to show up red or green. Red you stop, green you go, it's pretty simple. After customs, you walk through a multitude of vendors. There is everything here. They have drinks, tobacco, over the counter drugs, shirts, nick-knacks, food, you name it.
In comparison, the only thing that I noticed to be a little expensive was the food. After making it through the crowds, we finally arrive outside. From here we were to meet our contact and catch a ride to the Riviera Maya Hard Rock Resort. Once finding the correct bus, there were cervesa's for the passengers.
The resort is an hour's drive from Cancun International. The view along the way is something you can't fathom if you haven't seen it. You will see houses, shacks, and shelters that people made out of whatever they can find. You will drive through Playa Del Carmen which one will notice right away that there is way more money located there than on the outskirts. As the van starts to slow down for his u-turn, he honks his horn at the other buses that are parked alongside the busy four-lane highway, to try to get them to move out of our drivers' way. The traffic is hectic compared to the U.S. Once we make it passed the security check at the entrance of the resort on the highway, there is a beautiful scenic drive through a small patch of jungle to get there. Signs are stating what's in the jungle. You could come across exotic birds, familiar but different rodents, and even monkeys.
Once we pull up to the front, we received nothing less than warming smiles, snacks, and a refreshing green coconut flavored cocktail slushie. After we received our itinerary, we made our way to our room. Directly across from the door you walk in, there was a walkout balcony with a beautiful view of the ocean. From here, you could sit in the hammock, or you could sit in a chair to absorb the view. I must say it was worth soaking. Before we walk out the patio door, we could turn to the left, go up some stairs, and through a door leading to a private section of the roof. On the roof, we had an outdoor jet tub and a personal bathroom. The view from up here was even better than from the balcony downstairs, especially at night. I have found that while stargazing, if I can get my vision, only stars it feels like I am floating through space. If I can allow myself to fall into that feeling, it's very relaxing and helps induce a meditative state. The first night is usually just a relaxing night. We went downstairs and found ourselves one of the buffet dinners, and called it a night early.
The Riviera Maya Hard Rock is the most impressive resort I have been to in Mexico and the biggest. We were there for five days and didn't see the whole resort. There are two sections to the resort called Heaven, which is the adult side, and Hacienda, which is the family side. Both sides have everything the other side has but different. The family side is less "rowdy" one could say. The entire resort has so much to do for kids and adults. They even have their very own Woodward Skate Park. They have their beach cove which we snorkeled in and was so fun. The water is full of colorful tropical fish. We rented a spot with chairs and an awning on the pier that extends out over this cove. They have multiple swimming pools, some with activities for kids and play equipment, some that have loud music for adult activities, and some that are for relaxing and absorbing. There were I think three buffets and probably four sit down restaurants. The buffet on the kids' side was my favorite, and I think my favorite sit down restaurant that they have is the Japanese restaurant. Most of the food everywhere was delicious. Say you just wanted to hang out at the pool all day and not mess with going into the restaurants, around the pools they are always doing bbq, cooking pizzas, and serving finger foods.
On our way to get cleaned up for the wine tasting, I watched Lisa feed a flower bud to a lizard. I couldn't help myself, and I'm pretty sure when we left, there were no more buds left for the lizards to eat. I went until Lisa said she was going to leave me there with my new friend. I'm pretty sure he enjoyed the experience, maybe not as much as I did, but on his way out he came over to the concrete and left us a little poop to show us he was full.
The wine tasting was a great experience. The sommelier was very knowledgeable in his career path and shared some excellent information on tasting wines, but also gave us a fascinating history lesson. In the king and queen days, sommeliers were used to taste the wine before the kings did to make sure it wasn't poison. He informed us that it was common to kill a king with poison in the wine back in the day. He also said there were a lot of sommeliers that died during this time. Later on, the criminals came up with other ways to get rid of kings. They started to poison the food, which in return would kill the king's family. The result of executing a king's family removes the king from position because there is no one next in line to heir the position. I wish I remembered his name because he was an excellent teacher and a lovely person. We stayed after the tasting and just talked to him more. If you make it to Riviera Maya Hard Rock, then I strongly suggest going to see this sommelier and spending an hour of your time with him and his information. You won't be let down.
The resort is always doing activities, they had vendors come in one night, selling painted day of the dead skulls, and it might have been the same night they had the fire dancers. The fire dancers were excellent too. They were all around the pool on the children's side doing their dances, drumming, and throwing fire on balls, hoops, and staff. It was a great experience.
I highly suggest taking an all-inclusive vacation to the Cancun, Riviera Maya, Playa Del Carmen area. I strongly recommend paying for the guided trips if you're going to do excursions, because from what I hear that's when you could run into potential trouble. You don't want to rent a car and drive around the countryside like you own the place. Even if someone didn't want to leave the resort, there is plenty to offer just doing that. I would say that Cancun is more for the party animals, but not necessarily. In Cancun, you would have all of the night clubs, restaurants, shops, and mainstream things one would expect on vacation. The shoreline consists of resorts after resorts sharing the beach. Hard Rock was not like that at all. Where the shore of the Hard Rock ends, you could look as far as you want and not see another resort north or south. It is way more secluded.
Out of the four times we have been there not one time have we ever felt threatened or like we put ourselves in a bad situation. Not one time have we ran into a sour individual. Everyone at the resorts, shops, and guides are all amiable and there to help. Some may say it's because we are paying them, but I tend to believe that's not the main reason. We've all had that rude waiter or waitress before, whose presence and attitude depicts whether or not they get tipped or if they get a good tip. I think it has a lot to do with what type of energy people are absorbing. They are getting sun, wind, trees, fresh air daily. They are living in a vacation destination, so most generally the people they are going to be helping throughout the day are super happy to be there. If you're around happy people you'll be happy; if you're around sour people, you will be sour. It has nothing to do with what we do or don't own. It lies in the mindset and the willingness to work towards change if that's what the individual seeks. It has to do with living in the now and having goals.
Be happy. If we want to change, then we have to be the change. Happiness is not in objects that we purchase, use for two weeks; then they sit in a closet until they get thrown away. Buy experiences because they can never be thrown away, lost, or stolen. Experiences are what defines our character. Experiences are the only truths one can hold on a definitive level.
Less is more never meant so much before I started to implement change.