Friday, March 13, 2015

A Successful First Day In Mexico

Southwest Airlines doesn't have assigned seating, which turns the boarding process into quite the struggle for territory. No one wants the middle seat, so the last third of the passengers to get on the plane have this "first day of kindergarten on the schoolbus" situation where no one wants to share their space. Anyway a lady wearing sparkly cowboy boots sat in our third seat and ruined our chances of comfort.

Anyway the lady didn't say much to us until we were nearing Cancun. But then she opened up. The lady said she'd been to Cancun about twenty times! I felt sorry for her. It was funny too because I was trying to take advantage of her wealth of experience but she hadn't been to many of the highlights. I was telling Lydia that we should skip Isla Mujeres because it just sounded like a boring bunch of beach. Guess what our new friend's first recommendation was? "They have sand like powdered sugar!"

I was flipping through my trusty guidebook on the plane and found a really cheap bus system that would take us up to like 2 blocks from our hotel for a fraction of what a taxi would cost. That bus service went everywhere went we wanted to go. We barely stepped foot in a stupid cab the whole trip. It was awesome.

As you can see Cancun is a city with a long appendage. We gave that beachy, touristy, resort filled appendage the nickname "hell".

I picked one of the cheapest hotels that my Chase credit card points could buy, which was nowhere near the beaches and resorts. It was the best accident ever. The hotel was walking distance from the supermarket, a ton of restaurants, the bus station, and this city center place where there was like a three day festival taking place.

We had dinner at one of those walking distance restaurants called La Habichuela and it was fantastic. They gave Lydia a free little Mayan necklace when we walked in. Our table was in another world, with lots of tropical trees overhead and ancient looking statues. The food was really well prepared as well. The table next to us ordered caesar salad and their waiter stood next to the table while he whisked the egg yolks.

The meal started with a free drink made from bark or something served in a gourd. This place was really good about all of the little extras.

We started the feast with some baller soups. I had the "Cream of Avocado: a cold soup of emerald avocado with aromatic herbs". I'm skeptical of cold soups in general but this one was killer. Lydia had the restaurant's namesake, "Cream of Habichuela: famous stringbean and vegetables soup prepared daily since 1977". Those were both like 6 bucks a piece.

There was a free lime sorbet palate cleanser for Huitzilopochtli's sake!

Lydia's main course was shish kabob flambe and mine was "The Famous Cocobichuela: chunks of lobster and shrimp cooked in a curry sauce served in a coconut shell with rice and garnished with tropical fruits." It was really good. And in a damn coconut. Hers was $20 and mine was $33.

Lydia's pick even involved a flaming pineapple for some unexplained reason.

It took every ounce of willpower to not order this chocolate pyramid.

After dinner we scoped out the festival that was right across the street from our hotel. Tonight on the stage there were lots of kids in fun costumes. I especially liked the little kids zooming around in their rental cars. Many of them were questionable drivers.

I've probably mentioned it before but I am obsessed with foreign grocery stores. They give you a little window into how people really live, and they have reasonable prices that are actually posted and the same for everyone. It's the best. We looked around, bought some bottled water, beer, and snacks then called it a night.

When we got back to the hotel we both had abundant reminders that bug bites are still a thing. My ankles are delicious.

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