I need wonder no more, the day played out in… unsatisfactory terms.
I did some research (too little, too late) about the timeshare that we got roped into viewing – having said that, it was too late to back out, but now I knew it was going to be the highest pressure type sales pitch.
Many years ago, Chuwan and I did a timeshare presentation and, although I hated the experience, and didn’t want to spend money on a timeshare, we got some vacation stuff at good prices – you just have to endure the high pressure sales and consider that part of the price.
I rather swore I’d never do it again, but, here we were hurtling down the Mayan Riveria in a taxi that consistently ran 120kph in a 70kph zone. With the jungle on all sides, high humidity smell in the air and the rundown cement dwellings with roller-front facades, you could be completely forgiven for thinking you were in the south of Taiwan. Just to cement that Taiwan feeling, the taxi tried to pass a double-long gas truck that had been clearly signaling that we has moving left and we came within an inch of being run off the road or crushed under the truck. By way of apology, the driver spoke, with an embarrassed laugh, what I’d guess were the only words of English he spoke: “Big truck.”
At the El Cid, the disappointments began. The first was breakfast. We got picked up before our hotel started serving breakfast. We’d been promised what sounded like we’d be eating at the same buffet as the El Cid’s all-inclusive guests were eating, but we were not. We put in a room with a very limited buffet and got to enjoy breakfast with our salesman eating at the table with us. He made small talk and tried to extract info he could use later from us. He was actually comically bad at it, because by the end of the day he was trying to use that info as part of the pitch and he kept getting it completely wrong. Things like thinking Chuwan was from Korea, or that I sold insurance for a living, for example.
I won’t bore you with the high pressure techniques, but they were exactly like the last timeshare presentation we attended, right down to putting the chair against the table to signal when we’d finished discussing things privately, and the top killer salesman coming out after we’d declined and asking a couple “survey” questions, before attempting to sell us a one-time vacation. After more like 2 hours, we were free to enjoy our perks.
The two perks were purchased at significantly reduced prices were:
- What I wanted – the tour to Chichén Itzá
- what the kids wanted (only after they heard about it) – spending the day as an all-inclusive guest at the El Cid, which includes the eating, the spa, the kids pool and a trip snorkeling in the shallower reef areas south of Cancún.
I’m not keen on snorkeling, but if I’m going to do it – life vest or not – it’s damn well going to be in shallow water.
The first disappointment, the storm coming in had whiped the ocean into “no swimming” anywhere, and the snorkeling had to be cancelled and we did get our refund, but that also eliminated any use of the El Cid facilities – no food, no pool, no spa – nothing. We got shuttled back to our hotel having had little or no breakfast, no lunch, no swimming, snorkeling or relaxing in the spa – and as we arrived back at the hotel, the storm hit. Chuwan took the kids to the play area where you can check your kids in and abandon them for the day, while I decided to sleep the rainy afternoon away.
A massive clap of thunder outside the window brought me starkly awake. Outside, not a soul could be seen.
The “all-inclusive” resort means that your meals are included as part of the price. There’s a snack bar open from 10PM to 6:00AM, breakfast buffet from 7:30-10:30AM, Lunch buffet from 12:30-4:00PM and dinner buffet open from 7:30PM to 10:00PM, in the interim times there are various places that will make you hamburgers and hot dogs. They also have “fancier” restaurants that are included in the price, but you have to make reservations, at the start of your vacation, to get slots for those.
It was an oddly formal affair, rather like eating in a restaurant 40 years ago, with the curious ceremonies of swapping out the silverware several times during the meal and having various plate swaps during the course of the meal. It very much reminded me of my trip to Mexico back in 1978, where even the most humble of restaurants made a formal production out of the meal.
Into the oddly formal situation, add a table full of drunk college students sitting behind us.
So far, apart from the college kids on the plane, we’ve not really had much encounter with drunken students. There are a few at the resort, but most are apparently elsewhere, and they haven’t been too drunkenly obnoxious. (Really the most obnoxious thing about them so far is that many of them seem to be pushing the boundaries of being pretentious wankers by smoking cigars all around the place. Why hasn’t this disgusting habit died out yet?)
However, this evening was a bit different. About halfway through our meal, about 10 kids were seated at the table behind us. Some of them were a few sheets to the wind. One of them, a young lady, made some comment about some behavior they were doing (I didn’t catch what it was) and they started to call her, “mom” jokingly – mostly. When she walked away to the salad bar, one of them started shouting across the restaurant at her, “Shit! What the fuck, mom! I mean, “What. The. Fuck!”
At least a couple of the other kids at the table tried to shut the asshole up, with a “Shut up! There are little kids at the next table! Are you trying to get us kicked out?”
The way that was phrased, I couldn’t quite tell if they were concerned for the purity of my children’s ears or just worried their own sorry asses might be put outside.
Tuseday, we head to Chichún Itzá – probably. By now I am getting worried. The “tickets” we’ve been given from El Cid, didn’t even have the tour company name on them and a check online revealed more unsatisfied and nasty reviews than nice for El Cid’s choice of tour providers. (Running 6 to 1 against.) I haven’t sleep well worrying that my one chance to get to Chichén Itzá was similarly going to get screwed up.