Huatulco is not a Mexican town or city -- it is a newly created recreation-vacation area located in the far southwestern corner of Mexico right on the Pacific Ocean and a few miles from Guatemala.
Sunday, March 13
We booked this trip to Huatulco Royal Maeva Resort on Wednesday. This is Saturday! We did no preparing before this morning. Up at 7:30 am, shower, breakfast, laundry, dishes, iron, find some last-minute items, water plants, pack bags (one large and Princess bag), and, surprise, we are ready at 2:30 pm for the LaGrange Taxi! (Note: we find a local taxi is just as reliable as a limo and much cheaper).
There was a looong line winding to the Apple Trans Meridian counter at O'Hare. We hadn't gotten our papers prior to this, so it was taken care of at the counter. Flight time is planned to be 4 hrs. and 40 min. We found the second row (three seats on each side of aisle) to be narrow seats and knee room is one inch for me. This is definitely a "cattle car." We had a nice hot meal of chicken, rice, carrots, roll, cookie. There is quite a mix of ages on this flight, and everyone is going to Huatulco. We arrived at Huatulco at 10:10 pm. We deplaned first(instead of the usual LAST), picked up suitcase and went through immigration.
We were met by Carlos, Apple Rep. We had a private large van to take us the 25 min. trip to the Tangoluna hotel strip. We were told by Carlos that Huatulco state is only 20% built up and 80% natural. This is an ecological area, and it was planned to be this way. The area was "planned" (leveled) in 1976 or so and improved roads and hotels have been added since 1984(?). We arrived at Royal Maeva after 11pm, checked in and went to our ground floor room 170. It is very nice. Tiled floors, wooden furniture, accessible bathroom, mini-bar, safe, and a lovely patio, which is very near to the theater and the children's play area. We were not sure whether to believe the sign saying the tap water is purified (we found out later that even the tap water was safe to drink because the resort had its own water purification plant), so we asked room service for bottled water. We unpacked and went to bed at 12:45 am. Beds are firm and comfortable. It is very dark and very quiet.
Monday, March 14
We awoke at 7:40 am. The room-darkening drape made it seem like night. While washing up and getting dressed we could hear clearly that our neighbors were having a real good time! We were thirsty and hungry and had the most fabulous breakfast buffet ever. The best papaya fruit and juice. Anything you can think of was there. We ate and ate until we were full! Apple had an information meeting at 9:30 am. Info about the where and when of meals, drinks, activities, tours, etc. We booked two tours.
We then wandered the grounds. Due to the strong undertow in the hotel area, it is suggested that no one swims when the red flag is flying. There are several pools here, so that is OK. At about noon the planned activity was water aerobics, which I joined. It was wet fun as well as invigorating. It ended up with everyone joining hands and intertwining into a knot.
They set up tables outside all around the main open area for the buffet dinner. We had shrimp soup and whole grilled red snapper, as well as very good shrimp ceviche, crusty bread and sherbet and desserts. We sat with four people from the Philly area, Susan and Jim, and her parents, Arthur and Dorothy. We had a nice dialog. At 9:30 pm the Red Planet show began in the Royal Theater outside our room. It was quite a different show than any other Mexican show we have ever seen. Black and red costumes, red lighting, music from Cirque du Soleil, as well as other weird music with strong beats. The movements were almost aerobic exercise rather than smooth movement. A fog machine and strobe lights ended with "fireworks."
Tuesday, March 15 (Annie's birthday)
We awoke by 7:30 am, dressed and went to breakfast early enough to have our morning constitutional before the SSSS trip (our first tour). There were nine people in a van and us two in a car. We first went sightseeing, driving away from Santa Cruz. Casa Del Mar, a 36-room hotel with a very high overlook was our first stop. Steps everywhere and gorgeous flowering bushes. The private homes and future development areas will all be beautiful. By year 2027 Tangoluna Bay, Conejas, all the way to Bocana, where the Copalita River meets the ocean, will all be developed. There is a plan in place and the roads, sidewalks and water purification plant are all ready. We went to a high overlook above Santa Cruz. The Mexican government purchased all the land here in Santa Cruz and moved the people away to a new town they called La Crucecita a little further inland. Santa Cruz was built around a marina at the end of a beautiful bay. At night it closes. Nobody lives there. There are restaurants, a church, and some shops for tourists. We went on to La Crucecita, a real town. By government edict, the workers at all these hotels live in this town, which is expanding. More hotels will be built and another new town will be built for the employees. We had nearly an hour to walk and shop. We browsed.
After that we drove to La Entraga for swimming and snorkeling after visiting a cloth factory, which had one loom run by hand. The beach had restaurants and palapas and a very nice beach with easy access to the fairly calm water. Wayne waited while the rest of us snorkeled. We had picked up fins, masks, and vests earlier. The water was cool and nice. I slowly went out towards the rope markers. Below was mostly coral, which looked like fairly smooth rocks. There were many varieties of tropical fishes. I saw black spiny urchins, which were quite large. There were schools of six-inch rainbow fish with purple, yellow and pink stripes lengthwise; and yellow-tailed medium blue large fish. Another was a pale green large fish with small spots of iridescent light blue. There were huge schools of plain silver fish moving like streams, rivers and creeks, blending and parting on a whim. I was in the midst of the school many times. There must have been at least a million fish. My special favorite, the needle fish, was there also. Carlos caught a blow fish in this hands and let me touch it. Its skin is rough. It was blown up to about a ten-inch sphere, with bumps for eyes, fins and tail. The second time I swam out, I felt chilly and didn't stay quite as long. The other people were already out of the water and had decided to go back to Maeva for lunch, so we did. Our car went directly back, and we drove so fast that it felt like a roller coaster ride.
After a quick lunch we relaxed a while before showering and dressing for dinner. Wayne made reservations at La Margarita Restaurant at 6:30 p.m. This was one of the two in-resort restaurants that were available without additional cost in addition to the regular buffet. We entered through the kitchen because there are many steps where the regular entrance is. The restaurant is decorated nicely and has an island set-up with appetizers. The drinks are stronger than the outside bars. We had cream of black bean soup. Our entrees were served in HOT stone bowls which kept food bubbling until we were done. Wayne had a seafood stew with fish, octopus and shrimp. The octopus was too rubbery, hard to eat, and the flavor was tomatoey, salty. Mine was lamb barbecue with a good flavor. Both served with red and green salsas and tortillas and rolls. Wayne asked ahead of time for a birthday celebration for me. The dessert birthday cake was presented with huge sombreros for us, along with balloons and singing waiters. It was great! The chocolate covered cake was three-layer chocolate with cream filling and soaked with liqueur. Fantastico! An amaretto after dinner drink topped it all off. We met a woman who used to live in Deerfield (Illinois) but now lives in Texas. She had five sons and daughters-in-law with her. We gave the rest of our cake to them.
We then went to the "Comedy Show." Skit #1 The Unfaithful Wife: A newly married couple. When the husband goes out to play tennis, the unfaithful wife hides five men in the closet. The husband finds them when he returns! Skit #2 The Magician: "Boo-Boo! Bah-Bah!" With his assistant. Very simple, obvious magic, none of which really worked. Skit #3 Bus Stop and WC: Batman and an armless man meet at the bus stop. The armless man requests Batman to help him at the toilet. Typical over-acted Mexican humor - a lot of bodily function humor that went on and on. It makes us Americanos a bit uncomfortable. We were glad when it was over.
All in all it was a marvelous birthday! To bed about 11:30 p.m.
Wednesday, March 16
Believe it or not we slept until 8:45 am. I intended to eat a light breakfast, but it is hard to resist all that delicious tree-ripened fruit and freshly-baked pastry. We had a relaxing time by the pool, then had a quick bite to eat. We split a hamburger and a few fries and had a conversation with Martin and Cypora about vacations, cruises, etc. We vegged out, I walked on the beach to even out my "burn." We started reading our books. Wayne even put on his bathing suit. It was a nice, restful afternoon. My skin has a noticeable feeling of a sunburn, not bad, but definitely noticeable
We had a dinner of turkey and Mexican foods. We sat with Martin and Cypora. (She was born in Israel and moved to Toronto when she was seven years old.) They are very nice people. Martin is the engineer and his brother is the accountant for a business that sells and installs glass shower doors. When it became 9:30pm, we went to the "Broadway Show." The entertainment staff danced and lip-synched to several known tunes from Cats, Phantom of the Opera, and Chorus Line. This was an excellent show. We went to bed by 11:30 pm.
Thursday, March 17 (St. Patrick's Day)
We awoke around 7:30 am. It is amazing that we usually awaken close to the same time. We had breakfast with Sam Hill and Caroline; then we walked to the left out of the Royal Maeva Hotel. We were looking for souvenirs or anything interesting. We went into the Sheraton's lobby. Yesterday evening the sunburn on the front of my legs and tops of my feet really bothered me, so today I am not intending to stay in the sun very long. Morning and afternoon were spent in the shade, watching others doing things. We had a light lunch at the Happy Bar and watched people having fun in the ocean. We tried playing the movie trivia game but either the movies were too new or we're too old. It was a hard game. Soon I needed to shower and change for our Sunset Cruise. We were invited to share a fish dinner with our four new friends from Pennsylvania. Jim and Arthur went fishing and they caught a mess of fish and thought of us to share a meal with at 7:30 pm.
We were out in the front of the hotel at 4:30 pm, but Luis wasn't told that today they needed the van for us. So a couple of very nice, strong men on the tour helped Wayne to "climb" the five steps into the bus. Some men also carried him on to the catamaran for the cruise. I talked with a couple who were in line to take a tender to their Holland American cruise ship, Maasdam. They were on an 11-day cruise from Ft. Lauderdale, through the Panama Canal, and end up in California. We pulled away at 5 pm as drinks were being served. Beer, Margaritas (the name of the boat), rum and coke, etc. There were about forty people on this tour. We sailed from Santa Cruz, east past the Tangoluna Hotel Zone, and out into the ocean. We were all watching for some sea life and were well rewarded. We saw many whales, three for sure in a pod, and perhaps more. But several times we saw them spout, and we saw backs and tails as they went back down into the water. One even jumped clear of the water and turned a bit, showing us its belly and right and left fins. Also, there were two huge sea turtles mating. We saw them from a distance, then slowed the motor until the turtles were right next to the side of the boat. The sky had been cloudy and hazy, and we didn't expect to see a sunset. However, the clouds parted and the sun went from a golden ball, to an orange ball, to a red tomato, before setting. To top it off perfectly a whale jumped, showing us its tail just below the sun. I hope I got that picture! After sunset a group began line dancing, shouting, and having a good time. A Mexican took pictures of everyone, then developed them and sold them later for $5. Wayne needed a toilet very badly by the end of the trip. We had expected the trip to end before the promised 7:30 pm, but we didn't get back to Santa Cruz until 7:45 pm, after the marina and toilets were closed. Wayne was carried off the boat and pushed to the waiting van. We sped the distance to Maeva and took off like a flash to the WC. Ahh! It was 8 pm and our friends had been at the buffet since 7:30 pm, but still had some fish left for us. The chef had cooked up for them three kinds, rooster fish, mackerel and ??? Three different butters and lime to season the fish. Mucho delicioso!! Then we had a little salad and desserts and lime sherbet.
The show was lip synch to more popular music. It was good. We watched from our patio. Wayne dozed. This was a good, full day. To bed at 11:30 pm.
Friday, March 18
We were up at 7:45 am. When we sat down for breakfast we were with Jean Marco, the Italian activities guy. He has been here only 15 days and he has a girlfriend who works here too. They sign a contract for seven months. Martin and Cybora joined us. They will leave today around 1 pm for Toronto. We sort of hung around out of the sun, eventually said goodbye to Martin and Cybora, who had a quick lunch at the Happy Hut before leaving. We ate there too because there were nearly 200 Canadians leaving today and the main lunch buffet was pretty empty. Hamberguesa, ceviche, jicama, pommes frit - all great stuff!
I swam around in the ocean, then in a pool, and dried off in partial sun. We are very much enjoying a soda called LIFT, apple flavor. We talked to a retired couple who are here the fourth time. He is a retired physician from Joliet. He had questions about Wayne's polio. We also talked about vacations and cruises with Bill and Jane, his wife. They were wondering where we were last night because they saved our seats in the front of the bus, not knowing that we returned in a van from the sunset cruise.
We went to shower and get ready for dinner at Alfredos Italian restaurant. We had two different soups, creamy clam and minestrone. Both were OK. Then pasta with pesto, mostaccioli with Alfredo sauce, then shrimp with rice, vegetables and sauce. All was good. We ordered tiramisu, but Wayne had urgent bathroom needs and we took off fast to our room, took care of business and waited for our dessert to come by room service. It was very good. Then we went out for more dessert and came back in time to watch "The Perfect Couple" show from our patio.
Saturday, March 19
We both woke up to panic crying of the baby next door (new neighbors). The poor parents were probably trying everything to make it stop, but it took at least 15-20 minutes. This is 6 am. We finally got to sleep again and eventually got up. It is another sunny, warm day with a light breeze. So boring. Ha. Ha. For breakfast our usual fruit, especially papaya and pineapple with yogurt. Then French toast, bacon, coffee. We sat, talked, read, in and out of the sun - mostly out. We watched pool games. The water in the ocean was too strong earlier and the waves with accompanying undertow was more than I wanted to contend with. Before dinner I did go in. If you wait until after the strong two waves, and either enter or exit the water, there isn't as much problem with the wave knocking you over or the strong undertow pulling you down. It made me remember some summer days in the 1950's at the Indiana Dunes.
We read our books. We played the trivia game and came in second - not too shabby. We won an ugly piggy bank; but hey, it's the almost win that really counts. After we cleaned up, we were approached by Arthur, who invited us to a fish dinner again. It was again excellent - king mackerel. The four of them will be here another week, but we go home tomorrow night. We stayed with them until 9:30, show time. It was a tropical review - Las Vegas style. Those young people have so much energy! They had beautiful costumes. This was a very good show, but short. We went to bed at 11:15 pm.
Sunday, March 20
My morning began too early, at 4 am From then on, I didn't sleep much and we both finally got up before 8 am. We had breakfast with Arthur and Dorothy. Jim and Susan had gone golfing. We lazed the morning away. I walked on the beach because I thought the waves too strong, even though the yellow flag is still flying. We read a lot. We had lunch at the Happy Hut. Salads, chips, chicken. I tried going into the water again, but the waves still were too much. I swam around in the pool and took time to dry off in the sun. Then we showered and changed and began the work of packing up. The Apple people had arranged for the group to have a 6pm check out time rather than noon. That was wonderful. And because Wayne can only use the toilet in the room for sitting, we were able to keep our key until 7:30 pm. We already took our luggage to the central area and went to have our last margarita. Then we went to the Mexican Fiesta dinner. There were unusual foods served. The Mexican band was pretty bad. The horn player couldn't play the tune. The whole patio was decorated with red, white, and green balloons and streamers, saddles, cactus, Mexican blankets for tablecloths.
We bid adios to our Philly friends and went to the bus/van for the ride to the aeropuerto, which is 22 km or 16 miles, taking about 25-30 minutes. It is very dark in the country. Most of the time there were no other cars on the highway, and there certainly were no homes or businesses or lights of any kind in most places. The airport terminal is one large room of cement walls and a thatched palapa roof which is so tall I cannot imagine. They didn't have an x-ray machine, so all the carry-on bags had to be searched personally. There are leather sling seats, modern toilets (with super-modern pull-down grab-bars), and telephones here.
We were supposed to leave at 10 pm or so. We actually took off at 11:30 pm for the 4 hr, 5 min trip. With no jetway here, Wayne and I waited until all were on board before he was carried up on an aisle chair. We had 1B and 1C, aisle and middle seats. The Huatulco airport had one plane departing at this time. We took off and were served a sandwich and drink. Then we were supposed to be able to sleep. Ha! The seats are not shaped properly. Neck needs support. Flight attendants jabbered loudly in the galley, which was right in front of us, for the whole trip. Did they think the curtain blocked sound? Some of us were quite cranky. We landed at 3:30 am, but by the time we got the wheelchair and luggage and went through customs it was close to 4:30 am when Wayne was on the phone with La Grange Cab. At 5 am here I am, in the International Terminal, writing this diary and waiting for a taxi.
Note: While this was our first try at an ALL-INCLUSIVE resort, having been long-term devotees of cruises (a MOVING all-inclusive), we were pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable it turned out to be. Much of the satisfaction was the result of the high level of wheelchair accessibility we encountered on the grounds, in the room, and in the public areas. The resort property was reasonably level and had permanent ramps (some were steep) where there was a difference in levels. We probably would not have even tried an all-inclusive in the first place had it not been for a fortuitous coincidence: Daughter Lynn and husband Theo had been to this very resort for a week about 4 years prior and she was able to remember enough details to be able to assure us of the good accessibility.
Cost of Trip: Apple Vacations (2 X $1,062) $2,124 Tours (2) 108 T-shirts (2) 22 Taxi (Lagr to Ord and reverse)($21 each + tip) 50 Total $2,304
Note: After May 1999 the Royal Maeva Resort will be renamed to Gala Resort
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