Attempting to avoid the horrible serial killer hotel we stayed overnight in previously. We opted instead for a wotif.com bargain at The Radisson. It wasn’t in the Zona Hoteleria which meant we wouldn’t get that whole vegas/spring break scene but in the event we wanted a sample, we could take a complimentary shuttle to their beach club. No problems.
We got ourselves there and they’d conveniently misplaced our booking. I opened up the computer and showed them the booking confirmation. They apologised, and I should think so; and .. with no bell-boy in tow, we made our own way to our room somewhere down the back of the resort. It was fine, it would have been a nice place some 20 years ago but no-one had touched it since. Our view off the balcony was of a decrepit jacuzzi out the back, now overgrown and adjacent to a maintenance shed.
We took out to the local area to find some food and glancing over at the golden arches in the distance discovered that by some unintended method we’d managed to place ourselves *********e block away from the serial killer hotel we’d been trying to avoid. Sounds like the plot for one of those modern American horror films doesn’t it? Where you can leave the hotel, but the hotel will find you eventually. Regardless it turned out nicely because we were a short walk from a strip of nice restaurants and I got to try, hands down the hottest ******* chilli I’ve ever tasted. Just a drop burns your face off, and much to the waiters delight I solemnly and stoically ate a tortilla smothered in the stuff right in front of his face. It was just a thumbs up and a raised eye brow but for that moment I felt as Mexican as one can. Somewhere down the road a drug dealer walks past smoking from his two clenched fists.
‘You guys ever smoked weed from a walnut?’ he asks us.
‘No man.. thats retarded’ I say.
The next day we take the 10am bus to the beach club, which as it turns out is just an affiliated club called ‘City’ or something. Expecting to get treated to some towels and at least a beach chair around the pool we get neither and are even asked to pay a 50 peso (4 bucks or something) cover charge.
‘What does that include..?’ I ask. Just entry evidently. And the place has a few grotty pools and that whole ‘closed-for-summer’ look. But we do get a nice wrist band to indicate we paid for that. They took our water too.
We made it straight for the beach. Which is beautiful, a long strip of powered white sand and turquoise water. The beach is lined with all types of people, local families, local party people, plenty of Gen Y’ers in all kinds of flouros and weird sunglasses; but it’s a nice vibe despite the horrible mish-mash of electronic music our club projects out over the beach. ‘Sorry about that’ I think given that we’d kind of paid for it.
Out on the street it’s a different story. The ‘closed-for-summer’ look takes on a ‘cyclone-devastated’ appearance. There’s some institutions here. A Hard Rock, a Hooters and a bunch of other shops tucked into various malls. But there’s plenty of stuff under construction, litter and other **** blows through the pedestrianized areas, and the touts are horribly aggressive.
‘Come on guys, give me a chance to rip you off’.
There’s t-shirts here of stuff like ‘The happy fisherman’ featuring a cartoon of naked fisherman in waist deep water receiving oral pleasure from a fish. Or there’s the very popular cartoon t-shirt of a fat naked couple touching bellies with the simple caption ‘Impossible’. Or if that’s too intellectual you can simply get a shirt that says ‘I <heart> to ****’ .. enough said right? We couldn’t wait to get out.
Rebecca and I did have some administrative tasks to organise. From Cancun we fly to Havana, Cuba. The Cubans still don’t like the Americans and as a result penalise any attempt to change US dollars by imposing taxes and commissions. Point being we needed to take in another currency to avoid this. Canadian dollars is a popular choice so we spent a good portion of our time in Cancun talking to local and international banks who all stated they won’t change our US dollars into Canadian dollars. We found ourselves at a street-side Casa de Cambio with a thousand or so dollars, standing nervously while the agent counted out Canadian bills.
With that job done, and the horrible mish-mash of a mess that Cancun presented, we were eager to leave. Feeling as though we’d visited Mexico, but perhaps not genuinely experienced Mexico we were enticed by the obvious mystery of Cuba. We had little idea of what to expect.