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Friday, 9 November 2018

Mexico: Akumal A-Go-Go!




It's Janet and my anniversary, so off we go on another vacation. Quite frankly any excuse will do. However we're beach people. Experience teaches us that Akumal Mexico has a drop dead, gorgeous, white sand beach, along the Mayan Riviera. With swaying palms. Turquoise sea. And lots and lots of vividly real and colourful sea life. In particular it's a nesting grounds for turtles. Countless turtles. Whole families of them. Everywhere. What more could me and my honeybuns ask for? 

Yes! It's time for another holiday in the sun!

Escaping the cold north via Toronto's Pearson Airport, we touch down in sunny Cancun, a few hours later. A sudden, full frontal blast of heat hits us as we step off the plane. Next thing we know, we're at Secrets Akumal, a 5 star resort that we couldn't usually afford, except as a last minute deal. A nice room with a view. Excellent food. Service. The beach. Janet likes to be pampered on our vacations. Me? I like to swim. What more could we possibly ask for?



We spent the next week relaxing on the beach in our lounge chairs, under an nice umbrella, cool drinks in hand. Enjoying frequent snorkel trips along the shore, down along the sea coast, out to the far reef. Swimming among the turtles. Squid. Blowfish. Huge schools of brightly coloured tropical fish. A giant 6 foot silver barracuda. And a feisty, but harmless nurse shark. All this and more. It was truly magical. Spectacular.

Divers take note: We've been visiting Akumal for a few decades now. It's grown from a small, forgotten fishing village along the coast into a major, sprawling tourist hotspot. Whereas once we swam freely about, much as we pleased, a lot of the main beach area is now a restricted area, for very good, environmental reasons.

Sadly, the beach rules, as posted prominently along the glistening white sands, are now absolutely necessary, to preserve the endangered sea life. Far too many swimmers and divers have been poking and grabbing at the turtles. Mucking up the feeding and breeding grounds with their diving fins. Poisoning the waters with sun tan lotion and human waste. 



It's been quite disastrous! Many of the stressed out turtles that I saw had huge tumours and open sores along their neck and face! Very, very disturbing! 

If you visit Akumal, please be prepared to observe the beach rules. Or maybe head somewhere else for awhile. The turtles were here long before we came along. Hopefully they will still be here well after we are gone. Or maybe not?!?

Regretfully, Janet and I also had some very serious concerns with the Secrets Resort. For starters, to get our room keys, we had to sign a promissory note that we would not smoke cannabis anywhere at the resort!

As a medical cannabis user, and a Canadian one too boot, I was quite frankly insulted. It is, of course, perfectly legal to toke in our country. I was quickly assured that it had nothing to do with our being Canadian. Indeed, everybody has to sign the surprise form, once you are there, to get your key! 



Of course, this is Mexico. The laws are definitely different here. Still, at many other resorts I have visited in Mexico and Jamaica, both of which are moving towards legalization, they'll at least turn a blind eye to tourists toking on their balcony or on the beach. Yes it's illegal, but the times they are a changing. 

Not here! I was truly saddened that the Apple Vacation Group is now making a cannabis ban standard policy at all their resorts, even as legalization spreads across the Americas. Guess which secretly reactionary, reefer madness, resort chain I won't be frequently, during the years ahead?

Of course, there is a simple solution for the dedicated pothead tripping abroad. My doctor at the cannabis clinic recommended Sativex spray and Naboline. Both are perfectly legal, prescription drugs in many countries, though not in others, where they are at worst simply not allowed through customs. That's if they even recognize them among the other many different, bewildering prescriptions in one's kit bag. 



A quick spray or two or three of Sativex is good for a very long, spacey dive in the sea. One Naboline will keep me happily buzzing along on a pot like high for up to 12 hours at a time. Normally, I am hesitant to use cannabinoids, but hey, these will do nicely in a pinch!

Also, the Apple Vacation Group tricked us into attending a very unseemly, hard sell for a ridiculously confusing, contorted and costly world travel package of some sort. The long, drawn out presentation was extremely tacky and totally unbecoming of such an otherwise outstanding 5 star hotel. There is no excuse for this. The check in desk even recommended it, upon our arrival, catching us off guard, thinking it had something to do with our stay at the resort. 

So Janet and I wasted a few hours our first morning in Akumal trapped indoors listening to a quite shameless marketing scam. Gritting our teeth. True, we got a very nice, free, massage at the luxurious hotel spa out of it. Fortunately, that quickly helped wash off the very slimy feeling leftover from the embarrassing sales speil, but still ..... Uggh!

All in all, we're very unlikely to rebook a Secrets vacation anytime soon. Sad to say, but beware! You might well avoid Secrets and the Apple Vacations Group at all costs! Despite the many wonderful luxuries at their Akumal resort, the sneakiness and questionable practices as noted, certainly wouldn't make us feel very comfortable visiting again.



But let's not labour the point. Overall, we had a very relaxing week on the beach. A very romantic stay. The stresses of the day dissipating under the hot sun. The refreshing cool water. The delightful sea breeze. 

As for the Mexicans themselves? We mostly stayed on the resort. The staff and locals in Akumal were absolutely wonderful. Always pleasant and helpful. The guests? Mostly American. A handful of Euros, latins, and a few, very few Canadians. Overall, a lot more loud and abrasive than what we're used to. But since we were on a romantic getaway, we just stuck to ourselves anyway.

We could overhear a lot of the yanks talking. Were quite surprised with how many of them actually think Trump is really smart and on to something. Janet just bit her tongue. Me? I enjoy talking with just about anyone. But must wonder why they'd want to vacation in Mexico of all places?!? Maybe they'd confused all the talk of a "wall" with um ... shopping "malls"?!? 



Yes! There's lots of shopping malls here! And often, everything is much, much cheaper locally, if you want to make the effort. We took a quick run into Playa de Carmen. Scored some bottles of mescal with the notorious, bloated worm and even a rather nasty looking scorpion, waiting at the bottom. Ha. Cost a fraction of the price, even at the roadside tequila factory or, god forbid, at the resort. 

Fortunately, we got a great last minute deal at Secrets from our travel agent at New Wave Travel here in Toronto, otherwise we couldn't have afforded it. Indeed, Tourist Ville Mexico on the whole was very, very expensive for most everything, unless you really shop around. 

By the way, I brought along a book to read; Bob Woodward's Fear. All about a TV reality star who becomes US president. Hasn't the slightest idea of what he's doing. Can't learn from his mistakes. Had I read it even two or so years ago, the last time I was here, I'd have thought it sheer fiction. Won't happen. Impossible. Completely crazy. 

But now? Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction!




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