Sunday Gratitude – No Pasa Nada

On the shores of Riviera Maya – Cozumel’s lights in the distance

This winter public school break for the Owls has been an interesting glimpse into the return to tourism and an old stomping (scuba-ing, really) grounds, and a first time at an all-inclusive resort. Requested by an owlet who was “tired” of our usual travel to museums, historic sites and wandering the streets, it was the much-needed February warm-up for this Brazilian/part-Brazilian family. We toasted our cold toes in the warm sun, we laughed at poolside antics, and as the Mexicans say: “no pasa nada”…nothing is amiss.

For the first time, we traveled to an all-inclusive resort. In reality, this kind of travel with food included and “canned tours” is common in Brazil–with some large differences. The hotels are smaller in Brazil, the care very individualized, but the choices are more limited–most recently in the Pantanal, our dinner choices were limited to four or five–not the tens of choices at the Iberostar Tucán Playacar. In Brazil, the food doesn’t go on all day, and beer and wine were not included. In Mexico the beer and drinks flowed all day–and if you said “no” to an additional glass of beer or wine or even coffee, the always-good-humored wait staff would wait for a second, and then ask “tequila?” Even at breakfast. It made me laugh every single time.

We were the only newbies to it, or so it seemed–we didn’t know we had to send a runner at the crack of dawn to save chairs at the beach or poolside, we didn’t know we had to reserve our restaurant time at the 4 “special” restaurants when we first arrived. We didn’t know to send our kids immediately to teen camp–as soon as they went on day 3, they were incorporated into the roving gang of long-haired, droopy shorted teens. The owlets made friends with kids from Michigan and Poland, wandered about the resort looking at agoutis, and attended the very strange evening shows.

Football is life (the teens on the beach)

We went for a tour of Tulum, which was absolutely overrun with tourists–the last time Mr. Owl and I went 15 years ago, we were mostly alone there. Playa del Carmen (where we stayed) was built up to be unrecognizable from our business school holiday in 1998. Because of recent security issues, the military carrying semi-automatic rifles patrol the beach at Playacar. It became part of the background.


What hasn’t changed: the best tacos are from the combi VW bus at the busy street corner, served on melamine plates inside plastic bags (no possibility of washing them so just pull off the bag, put on a new one). The absolute friendliness and service of the tour guides, wait staff, hotel employees. The clear blue waters. The swimming with green sea turtles. The amazing food and fruit. Hot days.

So my Sunday Gratitude is for the glimpses we got of other lives and other places, and the warmth of people and place. I am not sure we will again go all-inclusive, because I missed some of the interaction that comes with locals if we rent VRBO and go to the local grocery stores and out and about on the streets. My longest conversation with my terrible “portugnol” came with our guide to Tulum…as we drove past resort after resort, I asked him if beaches were public in Mexico and he said no–there were only a couple which he could access all along that gorgeous coastline. Sound familiar? Yes, it is true here in the US as well–not in Brazil–where all beaches are public access. Something is not right when those who live there cannot access it.

In the end, I am not sure that I would agree completely with the saying “No pasa nada” or nothing happens. The thing with travel is something always happens–you learn, you think, and once in a while, you accept the tequila.

The long winding road through the resort–complete with howler monkeys, agoutis and coatimundi

One comment

  • Great posting. Brings back some weird memories. Happy to share them over tequila sometime. They do include the taco VW, whose owner arranged an overnight exploratory due diligence visit deep into the province for a deal that was not fated to happen.

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