Thursday, August 10, 2017

Adios, Chicken Pizza

This is it, the last post from Mexico City. Those eight months went way too damn fast.

The next handful of days hold transition and chaos for all of us. As sad as I am to leave Mexico, I am looking forward to being back with the Seattle crew. I am also really looking forward to squeezing my crazy dog and poking Stella the bird in the belly with a pencil (the eraser end, I'm not a monster). I'll even be happy to see Bobo the bearded dragon; he may not emote much but I'm sure he will also feel reunion joy somewhere in his lizard heart.

We're finally comin' home, girl!
(Though I suspect she stopped looking for us out that window
a long time ago.)

Let's finish this road trip. Let's do this finale. There's probably no better way to celebrate our time in Mexico than by continuing to wax nostalgic about vacation and posting a barrel full of photos of this magnificent country.

(Part One here, Part Two here, Part Three here ....)

After Merida we took a slight detour to another pueblo magico, Izamal. Izamal is also known as The Golden City (or is it The Yellow City? I don't know, tick tock, no time to research, nothing about this thing is gonna be fact checked) because every building in town is painted a bright egg yolk yellow.

Izamal also has several pyramids in the middle of its town. We visited them via horse drawn carriage from the center square. I usually refuse to entertain the idea of horse drawn carriage tours because I don't think it's very nice to make horses drag people around cities all day. Horses aren't meant to work in big cities on hot pavement with cars whizzing past them all the time. The stories of horses collapsing in Central Park from exhaustion and stress were enough for me to swear off of them forever.

But check me out, I'm Captain Hypocrite!
(our horse driver and our car driver, Mario, chatting in the front)

Alex knows my feelings on horse drawn carriage so first approached the man to discuss the care of his horse. Looking around Izamal, it's more of a quiet village than a city. There are very few cars whizzing around and at the time of our meeting him, our horse Picasso was munching on some grass and looking pretty chill indeed. I sure hope he likes the color yellow, though, because if he hates it he is living in his own personal hell.

I believe this is our final giant city sign of the trip. 
Behind us, a horsedrawn carriage, though that is not our Picasso.
If I look more closely, that horse appears to be wearing a humiliating pink hat.
Well, shit.

That is one wild pyramid.

Lucien was shat upon by a bird,
likely one who did not believe
he is an authentic tech expert forever.

There is one Mayan ruin you must see, according to the world. If you're on the Yucatan Peninsula, you must visit ye olde Chichen Itza or, for the more refined, also known as Chicken Pizza.

I did not love Chicken Pizza. I have friends who have loved this place but for me, it felt like the Disneyland of Mayan ruins. The lines forming out the front may actually make Disneyland look tame and easily accessible by comparison. Vendors are everywhere, lines snaking all over the place, millions of people standing around fanning themselves with tour bus brochures, at least half of them bused in from Cancun resorts and wearing "Official Boobie Inspector" t-shirts.

We arrived very early, aware we'd be far from alone at this most popular ruin, and were into the site within half an hour. The ruins are nice, it's true, but it's like visiting ruins as if strolling through an art museum. You can't climb anything, you can't touch anything, and your entire experience will be shared with many, many, many other people all craning their necks to look at the same thing.

Chichen Itza was one of the first Mayan ruins to be excavated and is listed as one of New 7 Wonders of the World, alongside the likes of the Great Wall of China and Macchu Picchu. I understand its significance in the history of history and that is nothing to be trifled with. Thank you for your service, Chicken Pizza, but my opinion still stands -- there are many ruins more worthy of visiting than this one. (See my best friends Palenque and Uxmal)

Chicken Pizza gets a sad rating of 2 out of 5 pyramids. 

I liked the columns, though.

They are all Official Boobie Inspectors. All of them.

I may have bitched mightily about the vendors clogging up the place but I did pick up my favorite souvenir of the entire trip at Chichen Itza from one of those very vendors. Hola again, Captain Hypocrite!

The kids saw it and said, "Mom, I'm scared" and I knew I was onto a winner --

This is all I can show now because he's nestled nicely into his packaging. 
I'll take another picture when he's hanging in his glorious new Banister Abbey location.

We weren't at Chichen Itza very long. We kind of ran through, bought my scary dude and escaped. The place was crazy by the time we left. The line for tickets was ten times longer and the parking lot was a hot mess of 50 tour buses. My advice, if you feel it's important to cross Chichen Itza off your list, is go early, run through, and run away. Buy something amazing from a vendor if you must.

We stopped at one last ruin, Ek' Balam, on our way to Cancun. It was a welcome change from Chichen Itza -- uncrowded, accessible, fun to explore, terrifying to climb. We were right back in it.

It's a small site with not a ton to do but it's adorable

The palace was impressive,
thatched roofs there to protect carvings underneath.

And we felt pretty badass at the top of a very steep
and very hot climb.
We nearly passed out, which would have been pretty bad.
You get 3.5 out of 5, Ek' Balam.

Then straight to Cancun, the town where humidity reigns and everything, including the folded clothes in your closet and your bedsheets, is moist. We parked our butts on the beach at our resort in Playa Mujeres. I have never been an enthusiastic fan of all-inclusive resorts because the cheesiness can be off the charts. But this one in Cancun had been recently visited by Seattle Mom and Irish Mom with much raving upon their return. It sounded kinda heavenly.

By the time we reached Cancun, we were burnt out on ruins and driving and posing with giant city signs and were happy to have a breather. And by "breather," of course, I mean napping on lounge chairs, drooling a little, and waking up to find a well-dressed waiter has placed a drink in your hand.

All-inclusives are full of sloth. There are many people who float around in the pool for hours on pool floats near the swim-up bar; others would stake out beach lounge chairs early in the morning then stay in them all day. I was jealous of their contentment and ability to be completely still; I'm too antsy to be still for long. I was instead a hopper; I hopped from pool to pool (there were many pools) to the beach, to the restaurants, bam bam bam I'm a resort mover and shaker.

The people in that pool haven't moved for hours. 
I hope they're OK.

The resort, Finest at Playa Mujeres, was a classy joint. Beautiful place, delicious food at its many restaurants, and no Official Boobie Inspectors to be seen. The service was great and the Kids Club so entertaining, we didn't see Coco for days.

Lucien was on the older side for Kids Club so chose to go swimming all day with me. Alex was usually napping or in the resort's gym. He likes working on his body but I don't care much about my body on vacation.

Lucien and me, underwater selfie.
Nailed it.

The Loosh and I followed a baby stingray and a crab as they swam/scuttled along the sea floor. We warned two guys there was a crab directly at their feet but they just looked at us blankly and continued their conversation about the New York Giants lineup. Fine, assholes, get clamped, I tried.

One night Alex and I tried to take Lucien to the fancy formal French restaurant at the resort. We were not quite prepared for the dinner dress code requirements. Dinners at some of the restaurants are "elegant" affairs and we didn't have too much that could be considered "elegant." We were more rife with "dirty" and "sweaty" and "crunchy."

Alex kept shoving me ahead of him into restaurants because I like dresses and brought several, so I was by far the most formal of all of us even though my dresses hadn't been washed in weeks and all reeked of old sunscreen and bugspray. Alex was hoping they'd see me at a distance, register "acceptable" in their brains, then he and Lucien could slink past unnoticed.

We were worried about our outfits but we should have been worried about other things. As we walked into Le Petit Plaisir, we were stopped at the door and told the restaurant was for guests 18 and over only. We didn't know that beforehand but Alex didn't miss a beat. He immediately gestured at Lucien and said, "What, him? He is 18."

Lucien, on cue, stood on his tiptoes, dropped his voice as low as it can go for an eleven-year-old, and began discussing the U.S.'s crushing student debt problem. The lady at the door didn't budge, just shook her head at us. We dragged Lucien out as he continued moaning, "Oh no, how am I gonna pay for college, it's so expensive....."

Our last night we attended a pirate show on the beach where we learned pirates love juggling fire and resort audiences don't like to applaud. Those poor fire-juggling pirates entertained us in near silence for an hour. Awkward.

Then we came home. I love flying into Mexico City because it is a monster --

And now we're getting ready to go. The kids have been awesome in this hectic week of preparation. They've cleaned out all our rooms and filled six bags of garbage, then schlepped them down to the basement. I think they're ready to go home because I've never seen them so motivated.

Mario took Lucien to a movie two days ago to keep him entertained while I met with the movers. We are going to miss that sweet man. We will miss Paulina, too. She cried yesterday when she left. The kids gave her a gift -- a framed photograph of Seattle with a photo of them taped to the front. They wrote on it, "We're in Seattle now but we miss you and we love you."

Next time you hear from me I'll be back in Seattle, baby. I think there will be much processing of Mexico after I return to Seattle. I didn't blog here as much as I'd hoped, most likely because I was always writing about Paris. I may write more about Mexico in Seattle than I wrote about Mexico in Mexico. Then again, I get my Paris manuscript back from my editor on August 15th so I may write more about Paris in Seattle than Mexico, too. This is all very confusing.

Goodbye, beautiful CDMX. I'm going to miss you something awful.

I'm going to miss all the sidewalk cafes and restaurants
full of beautiful chatting people
across the street from bustling artisan markets.

I'm going to miss showing my kids things
like this beautiful old fountain.

I'm going to miss our fun friends.

I'll definitely miss this view from our apartment.

Coco took this one as we stood outside enjoying one of our last sunsets.
She insists on taking pics with fisheye.
She thinks it's hilarious.

I'll even miss the times we didn't do anything at all,
just sat around our mod apartment,
watching TV and playing video games.
Though I suspect we'll be doing some of that back in Seattle, too.

Bye bye, guys. It sure wasn't long but it sure was great.

Thanks for the memories, Mexico.
Adios, amigos.


  1. In a heartwarming display of simpatico, Seattle currently features Mexico City air. You will undoubtedly get choked up.