Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tuesday in Cancun

Today is horseback riding day. We have signed up to go on a horseback ride that also allows you to swim with the horses. It is at a ranch called Loma Bonita. We decide that the morning would be cooler, so we signed up for the one that requires you arrive at the mall (near the hotel) by 7:40 am. So, I get a wake up call for 6:15, and I set my alarm on my iphone for 6:25. The wake up call comes. UGH…is it really time to get up? We don’t move. Next, there is this noise that sounds like a fire alarm. I have never used the alarm on my phone, so I didn’t know what it sounded like. I realize that is what it is, and I go RUNNING to the bathroom to shut it off before it wakes Grams and Papa. Whew…

After I get dressed, I pull the covers off the girls. They are not wanting to get up – even for horses. The third time, I tickled them after pulling the covers while Mike and I got revenge by singing shish kum buzz, shish kum buzz…they got up. :)

Mike goes to get pesos because the man has told us that we must have pesos. I finish getting the girls ready, and we head downstairs with our towels in hand. We are all wearing our swimsuits with clothes on top as instructed. I have forced the girls to use bug spray and sun tan lotion. We meet Mike in the lobby.

We walk over to the mall (it is about 7:15). The girls are in a good mood, and I am excited. When we get to the mall, we are supposed to meet at Caffe Express. We can’t get in the first door as the store doesn’t open until 11. So, we walk around, and we don’t see a Caffe Express. We see a little store, and so we decide to get a little snack for breakfast and a drink. Also, we think we might need a bag to carry all of our stuff in. So, we get all of that, and then we ask about Caffe Express. The store says that there is an Expresso Lounge, but there is no Caffe Express. So, we decide that we will go to the Expresso Lounge. When we get there, several people are there, and we confirm that they are going on horseback. We are still 10 minutes early, but the man is there for horseback. He is fighting with these people who are having to pay $15 for “transportation” and they are telling him that the hotel told them $10. I am glad that we walked and didn’t have to deal with that. Then, we have to fill out this form saying whether we are beginners, intermediate, or expert. Of course, it limits liability to nothing and says helmets are optional. After everyone has done this, he says that we can go to the bus. Of course, Morgan and Emily pick this moment to need to go to the restroom. So, our word of the day is Banos which means restroom. :)

We get on the bus, and it is very comfortable. It was about a 45 minute ride, and it was fun to look out the window at the signs and such.

When we arrive, there are giant cactus plants at the beginning and Mexican looking statues. We are walked to these white “Barbie chairs” (that is what our family calls the plastic lawn chairs), and we get the welcome speech. You only need bathing suit under clothes, towel, camera, and money. All other things need to be in a locker that is sold for $1 (not pesos, but one US dollar – so much for needing pesos – they didn’t even SAY the amount in pesos). He tells us that beginner means on a horse 20 or less times , and he says that intermediate is 21 – 50 times. Then, he says that expert means that you ride at least once a week for the past 3 years. He says you can gallop if you are an expert, but you must pay $10 (US dollars) for insurance in case you die. So, we go off to put our new bag in the locker. Mike buys a hat, and we wait.

We walk over to where the horses are kept, and we watch in horror as the horses are falling down, biting each other, kicking each other, etc. He tells us to divide into groups of beginner, intermediate, and expert. There are about 5 people in intermediate (Mike, Morgan, and I are there – Emily has decided that she is beginner at the last minute). There are 3 or so in expert. All of the other 50ish people are in beginner. He asks people to raise their hand if it is their first time, and about 35 of the 50ish people raise their hands. WOW. He gives instructions on starting (must kiss like a lover in Mexico), moving left and right, and stopping. Then, he tells us that he doesn’t want to scare us but that the horses might lie down when we get to the beach because it is a way to cool themselves off. Not only will they lie down though, they will then roll in the sand. He says that if this happens to you, you must get your feet out of the stirrups and jump off leaving the horse behind. I start to get a little scared. I think that this can’t happen that often or the Royal Resorts wouldn’t recommend it.

So, we get on our horses. Morgan gets Cinnamon, Mike gets Goat, Emily gets Singer, and I got Speedy Gonzalez. We start on the trail, and the horses are really, really close together. So, of course, some horses don’t like that. They kick the other horses, and that causes some of them to rear up. Not too bad, but a little chaotic. My stirrups are different heights, so it is a bit weird but fun to ride. We get to the end and there is a beach. This is where we have to watch for the horses lying down, and I get nervous because I just know that MINE will be the one to do it. As luck would have it, it was MIKE! Poor Mike, his horse went down (another horse did it first), and then he had to jump off. His foot got caught in the stirrup and he sprained his ankle jumping off. By this time, the first horse that went down is now running like a crazy animal all over the beach. Mike’s horse is rolling around in the sand. This of course gets all of the horses wild. Now, they are really going crazy. We are trying to get off them, but we are now in this confined area and they did NOT like it. I start yelling for the man to get me off as mine has kicked the fence twice, reared up five times, and is trying to bite another horse who keeps kicking him. I keep pulling back on the reins to stop him, but that is just making him madder. Thankfully, a man finally got me off. Whew. The girls are off. Mike was off first, and we are told to walk to this private hut to wait while the one brave (crazy?) lady goes to gallup.

Of course, the tent is selling $3 cokes and waters (no peso prices again). We got them, and then we sat down and relaxed. The beach was beautiful, and I think we were all happy to be off the horses. They prepare the eight horses who “like the water” for the swim with the horses event. Mike says he isn’t going, and Morgan, Emily, and I get ready. You have to ride bareback into the ocean if you want to go, and only 8 can go at a time. The first group goes, and we get in line for the second group. We get on our horses, and then Emily decides she doesn’t want to go. She is freaking out and telling the man to get her off. The man keeps telling her that the guide will be with her the entire time. She says no he won’t because I am getting off NOW. :) So, he takes her off, and Morgan and I continue into the water. It is a bit harder than it looks to stay balanced without a saddle (Morgan said it was easy for her). I determine that it is easier if your legs are more forward than toward the back. So, I am all proud of myself. It was very cool to be in the water with the horses. Amazing. Then, we make a circle and head back in. There is a downslope in the water, and my horse kind of trips on a rock or something. His head went down really low, and I just slid right on off. After I knew he wasn’t going to step on me, I was fine. I just walked out, and my horse went on his own. :) Morgan was worried about me, but it was sandy and nice in the water. I am really glad I went even though I fell off and had everyone asking if I was ok for the next hour. :)

So, now it is time to go back after the other groups went into the water. So, they start calling people by their horse names. If they don’t listen, they use the pet names they have like “Yankee” for the man in the NY Yankees hat and “big sunglasses” for a lady with kind of large sunglasses. I was “Tennessee” but I knew my horses name and didn’t get called out. They have put about 25 people on their horses, and the horses are stuck together in this SMALL area. They are NOT happy about that. They start biting, rearing, kicking, running in circles, lying down, digging holes, etc. This one lady has her leg rammed into the gate. This other lady is crying to get off. She says she will walk back and that she is not getting back on because it is not safe. I am SO thankful that our horses are some of the last to be brought out.

My horse has been fighting with another horse, and Speedy wants to be speedy to get back to the barn. He is M-A-D whenever I try to slow him down or stop him. He keeps rearing and running (not sure what type of run as it was very erratic). He is biting this other horse who kicks my horse (and my leg). I am so ready to get back. It gets a little better once we get off the beach, but halfway back on the trail, speedy starts up again. Another horse had taken off running and Speedy didn’t want to be outdone. He takes off running. I pull back and say Whoa and he rears up and then takes off running. I almost fall off. One foot is out of the stirrups, and I am barely hanging on. Thankfully, I made it. Morgan, Emily, and Mike said that there horses were better on the way back than on the way down. I guess I had the opposite. Apparently, Mike’s horse kicked Morgan’s horse, but I missed all of that. As we are on the way back, the lady in front of me says, “When I get back, I am going to have the biggest vacation sized margarita!” I cracked up. After we get off the horses, they tell us that lunch is ready and our pictures are available for $10 each (no pesos mentioned of course). The pictures are beautiful, so I get all 5 of them. The lunch is rice, black beans, and some fried quesadilla thing. Mike is brave and jumps right in. The girls decide that they will wait (they had chips on the beach). I have a little rice, but I am scared and don’t have much. They have drinks lined up, so I asked which ones were which types. The man says “Who knows but enjoy.” Hmmmm….so I grab one. Not sure what it was, but it was liquid. They call for the bus, and we ride back. They dropped us at the hotel this time instead of the mall. We walk up to the front, and after ALL of that, I twist my ankle on the stones out front and almost fall. My ankle was burning!! I walked it out, and it seems ok now. :) The girls want ice cream, so we get some from the little store. What an adventure!

We rest for a few minutes, and we have a few bites to eat in the condo (read – junk). We then go to pool where the kids swim for a few minutes before the sand art activity begins. Grams took them down early, and then we met her by the pool. It was a bit windy, so we had to use the towels to stay warm. We discover that the sand art is a 2 day activity, so they start on it but have to come back tomorrow. They trace the picture and put dark sand on the outline the first day, and then they put the colored sand in the middle on the next day.

Then, as we are leaving the sand art, they decide that they want to paint ceramics. So, Morgan gets a dog she wants to look like sophie, and Emily gets a dolphin. After they paint those, we went to the pool again. It was very windy, but they swim anyway. I decided that cold swimming calls for a margarita, so I had one at the pool bar where Mike was already enjoying one. After I while, I say we have to go in because I am cold. :)

Mike and I walked down to the sports bar to use the internet, and we posted some pictures and checked email. I went to blog, and I noticed that all of Google was in Spanish. Uh Oh. I wanted to post, but I couldn’t figure it out. I finally found the right word. Then, I wanted to upload pictures to Picasa, and I had a hard time finding it. I finally googled Picasa and got it. Whew… :) After that, we went to dinner at the resort (the Veranda restaurant at the Royal Sands where we are staying). It was Italian night. They had a pasta station where you could pick the pasta, meat/seafood, vegetables, and sauce. It was fabulous. They also had a buffet line with chicken marsala, eggplant parmesean, salads, etc. They had pizza so Emily was good. :) After we ate (well they actually found it BEFORE dinner), they had fabulous desserts. We all had chocolate cake, and Mike had some other kind of cake that I don’t know how to spell. :)

At bedtime, we were all exhausted (it was NINE o’clock!), so we went to bed early. Mike and I got a little silly with the girls, and we had Papa scolding us to settle down. I told the girls that they did NOT want Papa to come back, so I kept trying to get them calm after that. I know what the second visit is like! We had fun singing shish kum buzz and having a pillow fight though before we had to calm down. :)

I can’t believe it is already Tuesday. This week is going MUCH too fast.

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