Pictures from the Mayan Riviera, Mexico (2008)

We spent five days near Puerto Morelos (just south of Cancun) with our friends from Chicago. We had gone to Puerto Vallarta two years before with two of the couples. This year we introduced a new couple to Spades and Dirty Monkeys -- Dave and Megan. I put the dive flag on the page because Mike, Erynn and I did go diving one morning. It was our second dive location after Bonaire and Mike's second after being certified in Belize. You won't see many of the usual antics in this photo album because a few of the women on the trip were pregnant. Still great to be around, but not as many photos wearing sombreros holding rifles. Just sombreros.


Paradisus - Riviera Cancun Resort


We had a great time at the resort. It was nice to catch with old friends and meet new ones. The resort is about 10 minutes south of the Cancun airport and very convenient. The facilities were top notch and the weather was great. I personally was struggling b/c I ended up having three maladies during the trip: the first two days were my stomach, the third day I had a splitting headache, and the last two were the flu. Yippee. So I wasn't too much fun.

The other interesting thing about our stay was the fact they overbooked the hotel. From the airport transfer van we were ushered into a room where we were told we didn't have a room by Dennyra. Apparently she had been turning people away for the last four days. They tried to move us to the resort next door, but not all of the four couples on the trip would be moved. As "compensation" we were offered a few nights stay for our next trip, which we'd never take b/c the resort wasn't THAT great. Good, but not worth a do-over. I had confirmed reservation and traveled a little bit so I just kept saying no to all their offers. From the stack of papers of overbooked guests I presume most people cave, but not Mike and I. Erynn and I ended up booting some honeymooners and our vacation was saved.

If you're an avid reader of this site you'll know that Erynn and I have been to Mexico and the Caribbean numerous times so we have a basis of comparison. The facilities at the Paradisus were really top notch. However, the staff were poorly trained and rather inattentive, especially in the restaurants. If we weren't there with friends, I'm sure we would have been annoyed but we had a good time anyway.
I would not recommend this resort if you're planning a future trip.

Here are a couple shots of the beach. We didn't actually go into the water too much because the sand didn't go too far out. As a result, there were tons of rocks that were just large enough to really hurt a lot on your feet or cause a large dent in your head if you got pushed over.

The other saving grace about the trip was that MJ & Christine arrived a couple days before the rest of us and got the lay of the land. A tactic the resort uses, which is brilliant except if you're actually a guest, is the daily restaurant reservation line. As a normal, non "Royal Service", guest you must stand in line every day to reserve a table for the NEXT evening. There are people everywhere in the hotel looking like they could help, but they have one little old lady taking everyone's reservation. You have to stand in line for over an hour after you've figured out what you'd like to eat the next night. As you might imagine most people avoid the line and stick to the nightly buffet, which is much cheaper for the resort to service.

Fortunately, one of MJ's connections got him hooked up with the Royal Service and one of the perks is you can call a number and reserve your dinner reservations all at once. So we all got to have nice restaurant style dinners each night, but the places were mostly empty because most people didn't brave the long morning line. Like I said, brilliant to keep costs down, but not if you're a guest without royal status.

Diving in Puerto Morelos

Mike, Erynn and I took a short cab ride into Puerto Morelos to the Almost Heaven Adventures dive shop. As I mentioned above, we were all recently certified. We did a morning two tank trip out to the reef and the Jardines dive site. Here are some photos at the dive shop.

Here's Erynn with Enrique the owner of the dive shop. Mike was also fascinated by the anal-ness of my dive book.

Russ, our dive master, and Jesus (right photo), our boat driver, took really good care of all morning. The weather was a little choppy and Jesus's little boat rocked and rolled a little bit. After our first dive we were being tossed around a bit and we all got a little green. To avoid a tortuous ride between dives we hit the same reef, the Jardines, with both tanks.

Mike: before and after.

And Erynn had the best hair of the trip. We even developed our own underwater hand signal for it.

Scuba pros after two dive trips.

The diving in Puerto Morelos isn't as well known as the diving meccas of Cozumel and Playa del Carmen further south. However, reef Russ took us to was pretty neat and we saw some fun stuff. There were big rips along the coral created by ship's anchors dragging across the reef before it was protected. The large gashes created a cool landscape at 40 to 50 feet.

Another highlight was the chance to use my underwater digital camera again. I'm still not completely comfortable underwater so I haven't mastered underwater photography. I figure safety above perfect photos is the correct plan until I get more comfortable. Brain coral is in the left photo and on the right is Erynn's favorite the Stoplight Parrotfish.

Russ showed us his friend the green moray in his little cave. Russ was the brave one who snapped the close ups.

The other cool sighting on the dive was a friendly sea turtle. At least he was friendly until we tried to get a photo. Russ did his best to track him down with the camera, but he was too elusive.

I took over 100 photos over the two dives on the reef. You might imagine that I got lots of blue photos with fish and coral -- and you'd be right. Above are a few of my favorites. Don't ask me why, I just liked them.

After the dive we washed our gear and took a group photo. Thanks Russ for a great trip!

Hanging Out by the Pool

The trip was very relaxing, and everyone spent a bunch of time reading, laying in the sun and eating. What else do you do at an all-inclusive?

No trip with Mike and MJ would be complete without marathon rounds of Spades. And Erynn picked up the Sudoku habit for the trip. Mike was there to teach her the skills. Her brain hasn't been the same since.

Here's Erynn with Melissa and Dave by the pool.

Hanging Out at Dinner

We ate at the Reef Grill the first night we were all there. No trip would be complete without Mike manhandling Erynn or Erynn kicking MJ. Good times.

I think we were all excited to be on vacation and Dave was livin' large. Erynn was showing here guns and MJ had an even better time.

On our second night we ate at the Tequila Restaurant. With all the pregnant lasses (virgin drinks all around) we couldn't quite recreate the madness of Puerto Vallarta, but Erynn and MJ tried. It's strange how even without any alcohol sombreros and sharp objects still find their way into our evenings out.

The sombreros were out in force.

Viva sombreros and Familia Reserva!

Here are the girls at the entrance to the Tequila Restaurant and Mike doing the scuba signal for Erynn's ponytails.

After dinner at Tequila, we posed for the only full group photo of the trip.

One of the best things about all-inclusive vacationing is the copious amounts of food on offer. Bottomless ice cream with Jimmies made us all happy. The culinary Hindenburg of the trip were the profiteroles served to me at L'Hermitage. It took me a couple minutes to figure out what the mess in front of me actually was. The should have looked like this.


I had never actually been into Cancun so I took a taxi and walked around Punta Cancun, which is on the northeast corner of the strip of land that forms the lagoon. No one else wanted to go with me for some strange reason. Above is a shot of the string of hotels from the lagoon side.

A primary reason to head to tourist central was to hit the Hard Rock. It's in a shopping mall... but the shopping mall had a small deck that overlooked the Caribbean. So at least I got some souvenirs and a postcard shot.

I suspect this is why no one else wanted to come with me to Cancun. It's difficult to see the ocean because mega hotels are stacked side-by-side, and where there's not a hotel you can find drinking establishments like Daddy O's or Senor Frogs.

Some Candids

The womenfolk.

Dave and Megan. Mike and Melissa. MJ & Christine. Oh MJ.

Me and the misses. More spades.

I love Mike more than words can express.

...and a nice sunrise. Thanks Christine for helping with the photog duties.

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