Friday, July 25, 2008

If it Sounds too Good to be True...

It usually is!!! And that's what I have to say about our vacation!!! Don't get me wrong, it was fun, fabulous, ultra clean, but there's a little more to it than that. Here's the story:

We arrived in Puerta Vallarta, Mexico to HEAT and HUMIDITY. My hair frizzed up and stayed like that for the week. My make-up melted off in 2 minutes flat. After gathering the gang, luggage, and navigating through customs, we piled into a huge van to Villa Mystique---10,000 sq. ft., 8 bedrooms, 9 baths, swimming pool, 4 servants, overlooking the city and ocean. The road to the villa was cobblestone and straight uphill---all winding with parking garage mirrors all over the streets. Near the top, the road flattened out. We pulled up to the house---beautiful doors set amidst lush foliage. The houseman opened the door to the most incredible view. The entire back of the house was open to the ocean. But, it was HOT and HUMID!! The kids quickly claimed their bedrooms and got their swimming suits on. We adults sat around the pool while being served frozen margaritas, the best home-made guacamole and fresh salsa I've ever had---and way more than our family could eat. But, it was HOT and HUMID!!! As I was sitting there, I was thinking---"well, I guess we never have heard of anyone going to Mexico in the summer, obviously because it's too friggin' HOT and HUMID!"

I had ordered a Mexican dinner for that night, knowing full well that it would not be the type of Tex-Mex that we were used to. Still, I thought it would be fun to experience the local cuisine. Of about 6 dishes, everyone managed to find something they liked. For me, it was just the cheese quesadillas---I mean, how can you mess those up? We were all pretty full anyway from the guacamole and salsa, so no one starved. Then, the mosquitoes started to eat us alive. To say I was disappointed is an understatement!! I did not expect the place to be completely open-air---no doors, just some shower curtain type thing to pull to keep the rain out. But, considering the beauty of the furnishings, gorgeous artwork, sculptures, fabrics, flowering containers, etc, it was amazing to me that it all held up to the elements. We were all tired from our pre-dawn flights, so we retired early. The cool of our air-conditioned rooms was a welcome treat. I took a shower, counted the days I'd have to endure this torture and went to bed.

The next morning, I was in the best mood!! I start everyday feeling like I can conquer the world!! Then, when I opened the bedroom door, the HEAT and HUMIDITY hit me all over again! I decided to change the way I was looking at it. We were luxury camping!!! From then on, we had an absolute ball!!! Of course, we had the houseman secure a couple cans of insect repellent---a scent of OFF that was actually pleasant! A huge breakfast awaited us. We lounged around the pool all day. We went to a really nice restaurant on top of a building overlooking the ocean. When we got home, we started the first of a zillion games for the week. There were fans all over the house that really helped make us comfortable in the HEAT. We started the week off with "Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader", went on to liar's poker, modified bunco, charades, picture changes and a guessing game. We even had a challenge to see who could suck on an atomic fire ball the longest. Everyone managed to get through it except Morgan and Mitchell.

On Monday, we went zip-lining through the jungle. It was an awesome adventure, but very strenuous with having to climb flights of railroad-tie stairs to reach each level. There was one section that I didn't think I could make (I have to add here that Jeanne asked me if it was really hot. My response was that I didn't notice the heat at all as I had bigger problems with the climb to think about being hot---besides climbing, you have to carry your "wheel" which weighs 5-10 lbs. in a harness with a helmet). It took 2 hours with about a dozen rides through the valley seeing a flock of parrots, the river and ocean. A great experience that I would do again--even knowing how hard it was.

Butch and Greg played golf twice---expensive, HOT and HUMID. We shopped, bargained, ate at the Hard Rock Cafe and a local Mexican restaurant. We enjoyed being waited on, the pina coladas, and, for the most part, the food. One night, during our game playing, we ordered Dominoe's pizza. Butch about had a stroke when 4 large pizzas were $100 (that was the servants day off, so we were on our own for dinner).

On Thursday night, we went to a Mexican fiesta with all kinds of entertainment. Mitchell said that he learned something about Mexican dancing---"it's just really, really, loooonnnggg!!! It was a bit on the campy side with the dancing horse and all, but the food was really good (for which many family members paid for later in the way of some gastro-intestinal discomfort).

On Friday, the whole family went horseback riding. I decided to stay behind because I had brought lots of reading and my stitching---which I never got to spend much time doing. I enjoyed a relaxing morning and part of the afternoon. When the family all "crawled" in, they said that I had made the right call by staying home. Everyone was completely sore and worn out. Jordan suffered the worst (Jeanne, did I use that correctly?). She had bleeding sores on her ankles because her stirrups were too loose. The trail ride went straight up the mountain through the jungle for over an hour. Then they let the horses rest an hour. All the kids thought a truck was going to pick them up, but they had to ride back down. Steph said that 2 minutes into the descent she though she was going to die---it hurt that much. About half way down, as some of the horses started to run, Butch asked who was up for a Dude Ranch next year. Mindy was the only one up for it!

That night, I asked everyone to write down their favorite activity and memory from the week. Little did they know that they were doing the journaling for one of my vacation layouts! I'm always thinking!! Anyway, I turned it into a game. I read each one and everyone had to guess who they think wrote it. A few of the favorite memories were:

*Elizabeth playing charades and acting out Solja Boy and YMCA---over and over again when it was her turn.
*Catching a glimpse into the mind of a 12 year old boy who said his favorite memory was when the "balloon man" at the Mexican Fiesta wrote "mucho, sexy babe" on Aunt Mindy's balloon hat.
*Grammy speaking Spanish to the cab driver---asking "Que hora es?" (what time is it), only to have the driver respond in English, "I don't know". Jordan totally cracked up.
*Stepping into our air-conditioned bedrooms at night, a cool shower and clean sheets.

We had the best time and decided that it doesn't really matter where we go, as long as we are together. We'll all be together again next Friday for another week. One of our favorite family traditions is spending the first week of August here at the house lounging around our pool, as a last "hurrah" before school starts. And the games continue...

Check out Villa Mystique here---I'll post some pictures later:

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