Monday morning. New Year’s Eve, 2012. When we woke up, Stephanie did not feel like going down for breakfast, but, instead, asked us to call room service for her. We had decided that we would, after breakfast, hitch a ride on an R-2 bus, to go to the Flamingo Plaza, one of the local shopping centers. There was a balloon release scheduled at 1pm, to “send a balloon with a wish for the New Year,” by the pool. I guess this is a traditional thing here.
We walked out of the front of the hotel, and before we could even get down to the bus stop, an R-2 buss had appeared.
There were a couple of groups that appeared to be walking toward the bus, and he actually waited for us. As I boarded, I simply said, “La Flamingo, por favor?” He said, “Yes,” and we went back to our seats. As is their custom, the bus began moving before we got sat down. If you ever come down here, be ready for that. After a short bus ride, we were there. As we got up to exit the bus, the driver looked up in his mirror and gave us a very friendly smile. Was it because we had said, “Please?” Who knows? Courtesy has been known to go a long way.
The first thing we did at the Flamingo Plaza was find Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville. We had seen it on a previous bus trip, and it faced the main road, so that wasn’t difficult. We got several pictures around the front, and one nice man offered to take a photo of both of us together.
Then we went inside the shopping center. It’s very similar to our malls. The restaurant/bar was not open yet, but, of course, the souvenir shop was. So we bought some stuff. Stores like this are different from the market style stores. They don’t negotiate. We got a few t-shirts, a refrigerator magnet shaped like a large guitar pick, a key chain, and a sticker for my guitar case. The sticker is one of those oval-shaped stickers (the kind that usually have country abbreviations in them), and says “JB,” with “Jimmy Buffet” and “Cancun” above and below.
After paying for those items, we ventured further into the shopping center. There was a shop next to the restaurant that featured a lot of different types of alcohol (in some very pretty bottles). One of their decorations was a female skeleton holding a bottle of what I think was tequila.
Then, we hit the “market” shops. These people are aggressive. Every one of them will try to lure you into their shop. In fact, twice during our stay, the hotel had market vendors come to the hotel and set up on the walkway between the lobby and the buffet. It’s hard to get through there, at least for me, because I’m not used to being rude. But you have to be, or else you get sidetracked, and once they get you in there, it’s next to impossible to get out. We did, however, find some items in one of the shops; some souvenirs for ourselves and for gifts. Then we came across a shop called “La Plaza Fiesta.” That’s the place to go for souvenirs. No haggling, and the prices are marked down on everything. There were some things that we thought we had gotten a good deal on in Puerto Moralos that were about the same price in this store. But you don’t have to haggle in this store. Much more relaxed. We found several things in that store, and headed on out. We had to walk past some more market shops, but this time, we simply said that we had everything we wanted, no thanks.
We decided that the La Isla Plaza was within walking distance, so we set off down the sidewalk, with a couple of “Coca Cola Light” drinks that we had bought at La Plaza Fiesta. This Coca Cola Light tastes a lot like Coke Zero to me. Anyway, it was a nice walk to La Isla, and not too far. Let me say one thing right here. This topic came up while we were walking along this street, inches away from the road, with buses rushing by. At no time during our vacation, not one single time, have we EVER felt unsafe. The closest to feeling unsafe came while attempting to cross the roads. The word here is that, if people see you trying to cross the road on foot, or merge in a car, they speed up. Anyway, I just wanted to get that out there.
La Isla Plaza is a bit different than Flamingo Plaza, in that it has name brand stores. There was Nine West, Mossimo, and various others there, along with two (yes, two) Starbucks shops, and a Mcdonald’s (where we stopped for a soda).
There’s a restaurant called “Chocolate City.” Really?? How did I NOT know about this??
We didn’t stop to eat there, as we weren’t hungry, but just quite thirsty from our walking. We found another La Plaza Fiesta at La Isla, where I bought a new wallet. I had been needing one, and they had some nice genuine leather, made in Mexico, wallets, so I got a souvenir that is functional, as well.
We left there and got on another bus to head back to Iberostar. Once again, I said, “Iberostar, por favor?” This time, for the first time in our four bus rides, the driver gave me change! Seriously! Most of the time, they just take your dollar and hand you a bus ticket. I thought he was reaching for two bus tickets, but he surprised me by handing me three pesos. So, we have more souvenirs, because I don’t think you can buy anything for three pesos.
We got back to the Iberostar, where I took a few photos of the front of the hotel, the fountain outside, and the lawn area, populated with what seem to be giant bocce balls.
We got upstairs with about a half hour before the balloon release, so we all got into our swimsuits and headed down to the pool. We couldn’t find any chairs right away, so we found a place to stash our towels, books, and so forth and grabbed some balloons and gather around the pool.
Upon Arturo’s signal, everyone released their balloons, with a New Year’s wish. For some reason, that simple act brought tears to our eyes. It was quite beautiful.
We spent the rest of the afternoon by the pool. Right after the balloon release, I was looking for some chairs, when a man said, “Looking for seats?” His group of about five people were gathering their things and leaving the area, so I got us three chairs right by the edge of the pool. They were in the sun, but we had sunblock, so that was okay. I put the stuff down, took a couple of pictures of Stephanie and Christi in the pool, so we can prove that she actually got in the pool.
Then I got in the pool for a while, after which I sat in the lounge chair to read. Christi got up to go get in the hot tub, and I went back down to the beach to see if I could find a place to lay by the beach.
No, I was NOT looking for another topless sunbather!
I found a very nice spot, under a tiki hut, with a nice view of the water. I laid there and read for I know not how long. Maybe an hour, maybe two. Who knows; who cares? After a while, I went and got Christi, who came back with me to take a picture. To me, that picture symbolizes this vacation.
We went back to the room to get ready for the “Gran Gala Buffet,” which was to start at 6pm. At around 5:45, we headed downstairs and out to the buffet, where we had to, once again, work our way through a variety of market vendors. This night’s buffet was different. It was more of a “gourmet” buffet. They had things that they had not had on other buffets, such as filet mignon, other kinds of steak, and other varieties of fish. The deserts were different, as well, and they had crepe suzettes, which I’ve never had, so I ate one. It was okay. I wouldn’t go out of my way to get one, though. What was really good was their chocolate covered crème puff. Yum! Oh, and while we were there, we saw a lady wearing what was, effectively, a mirror ball.
After dinner, we had a couple of hours before the “New Year’s Eve Grand Ball with the Star Band,” which turned out to just be about an hour of music in the ballroom. Their ballroom consists of a giant tiki hut at one end of the hotel, which is, essentially, outdoors, but covered. It’s a nice facility. Stephanie and I hung out in the lobby with laptop and phone for a little while, because I had to post the day’s devotional and vacation blog from the previous day. They were handing out champagne in the lobby. I didn’t take any, because I really don’t like champagne. While we were down there, Sunday and Arturo, of the Star Friends, came by to make sure we were planning to go to the show. Of course, we were, we said.
At about 9:10, we all made our way to the giant tiki hut. The band was already playing, and there were a few vocal songs (seemed to be exactly the same set we heard last Wednesday night while waiting to be in that game show).
While we were waiting, we got pictures with one of our favorite Star Friends, Brisa.
At approximately 10pm the big show began. They had a brief game, where they got several guys on the stage for a “Michael Jackson competition.” That was quite funny, watching five guys try to copy one of the show guys who had done a MJ routine to “Billie Jean.”
There were a couple more routines by the Star Friends, and then the main show started, which had the theme of “Boogie Nights.” Perhaps this explains why the lady was wearing the mirror ball? Yes, my friends, it was a disco show. It was actually quite well done, and very entertaining. The Star Band played while a bunch of people we hadn’t seen before sang and danced. They did covers of most of the popular songs from the disco era and flashed pictures of the artists represented on their video screens. We had songs from KC and the Shine Band, Donna Summers, Le Chic, Boney M, Earth, Wind and Fire, and many others. It was great fun. I’ll share some of the pictures I took.
That show ended at 11:35 pm, and the four main singers for the show stayed on the stage and continued to sing as we prepared to ring in the New Year. Balloons were handed out, and we had each received a bag of party hats, noise makers, and streamers as we entered the ball room earlier. More champagne was handed out. I took one this time, because, you know…it’s New Year’s Eve, right? We counted down from 20 seconds and there was much celebration. Balloons fell from a net in the ceiling, we toasted to 2013 (I took one sip…bleah), we blew on our noise makers, and then Christi, Stephanie, and I booked it out of there.
We got a really good night’s sleep, and woke up just before 8am this morning. We packed up some of our stuff, then I did my devotional, first one of 2013, which you can find at Revelling in the Overflowing Grace of God. We went down for our last breakfast in Cancun, and I’m now sitting at the desk in the room, typing this. It’s 11:23. We’re heading downstairs at 11:30.
This was seriously the best vacation I’ve ever had. I can’t wait to come back. For the last time from Cancun…