Food. Booze. Games. Travel. Friends. Life.

Cancun – Day Tres

Posted 1826 days ago by Peter Franceschi. Posted in: Travel
Cancun - Day 3 010

After drinking far too much on days uno and dos I decided to sleep in and skip beach volleyball. My knees are starting to look like mashed up grapefruits from all those digs. You’d think the sand would be soft? Not so much.

Got up just in time to catch some breakfast down at the buffet and am continually impressed by the selection. Ironically, I keep eating relatively the same few items. Hash browns, bacon, two fried eggs, toast and fresh fruit. I rarely ever eat breakfast at home but I’m fairly certain that’s only due to laziness and nothing else. I finished up the meal and gave the waiter a few dollars and went to ‘lube up’. After a bit of a scare on day 1 I am taking no chances and slathering myself in SPF30. After playing beach volleyball for about an hour, i felt a little dizzy and went back to the room only to discover my face looked like a cherry tomato that exploded. Thankfully, it wasn’t burned, just flush from running around in 90 degree weather but it was enough to sober me up.

Sufficiently oiled I headed down to the pool and ran into Darwin, Logan and Matt again now also accompanied by their other friend TJ (or T-Pres, or T, or…you get the idea). I had a drink and floated around for a bit with them, giving them some recommendations on things to do from last years trip. They seemed hell-bent on the ‘booze cruise’ – I didn’t challenge them. They eventually took off to go get ready and I pulled up a chair and took a nap. The rest of the day consisted of swim to pool, get drink, swim to chair, repeat. There are worse ways to spend a day, for sure.

At about 5 I headed in to get ready for the Japanese Steakhouse I booked a reservation for. The hotel has four complimentary restaurants on the grounds and I’m trying to make it a point to try each. Tonight’s was hibachi and I wasn’t disappointed. It was also where I met what I believe to be the 72 year old version of me, John from Nova Scotia.

John is not an intimidating man. Barely 5’7″ if I had to guess and he very much resembled my paternal grandfather; tan, whispy grair hair, glasses, and an indistinguishable aura of ‘old Italian guy’. John has been to the four corners of the world and back and had a story for just about every one. From the rolling hills of Estonia to the Sushi he had in Japan to the ‘Tatu’ festival (week-long song and dance festival held once every five years) in his home town, John’s seen it all. When I asked how many times he’d been to Mexico he guessed at about 30. John was alone and I can only imagine his wife had passed away earlier. I didn’t bring it up but he kept referring to his daughter but never his wife. Who knows, a story for another day. John was also a GM retiree and living comfortably on any number of pensions, programs, and checks that kept this lifestyle going. I chatted with John about life, travel, and wine (which he can, as an aside, throw back like no one I’ve ever met) and I listened intently as if hearing a village elder speak from some long forgotten people, huddled around a smoldering fire in the night.

In between the shooting flames of the hibachi grill he gave me some advice which I most certainly took to heart. “Do everything you can before you can’t.”, he told me rather ‘matter of factly’. I almost expected him to say it. Like I mentioned, I immediately felt like a ‘this could be me’ feeling and bonded over that connection. Perhaps he really is me, traveled back in time using technology that will be invented 40 years from now to smack me in the face and tell me to live it up. In either case, John was a pleasure to meet. We finished our fried plantains and creme and I wished him the best of luck on his travels, shook his hand, and we parted for the evening.

Oh, and the food and was really great too.

Cancun Day 2 – The Tequila Monologues

Posted 1827 days ago by Peter Franceschi. Posted in: Travel
Cancun - Day 2 019

Oof. Tequila you are a fiery temptress…

Despite the hangover lingering from last nights social outing, my body naturally woke itself at 6:03AM. Let me explain something for a moment. At home I go to bed by midnight and struggle, fight violently against every fiber of my being to drag myself out of bed at 8AM to get to work. For me to naturally wake up without hitting snooze roughly 36 times at 6AM is a feat worth mentioning and I can only attribute it to the ocean air.

I downed a elephant sized Excedrin and snagged my camera and headed to the beach to snap a few photos while the grounds were relatively empty.

I mean, who gets up at 6 on vacation. Right? Clearly.

I sort of assume, perhaps incorrectly, that most grounds of the hotels in this area are fairly well maintained. After all, half the appeal of visiting a place like this is that feeling of being in somewhere tropical, surrounded by the white sands, the blowing palm trees, and fountains that would make the Bellagio look bad. The Iberostar is no exception and, though small, comparatively  it’s really well kept. The one negative I might throw in here is that the pool layout is awful. It’s this staircase/waterfall design that starts at the top, winds it’s way around the kids area, the wading pool, then collapses into an infinity pool at bottom. But you can’t just…walk down, you have to snake your way around this labyrinthine set of cement walkways and ramps until you get to the bottom. This makes for mild frustration when attempting to find a chair but I’m sure, somewhere, MC Escher is laughing.

After snapping a few photos i headed to the breakfast buffet for a bite. Very impressed with the selection; huge buffet with 4 corners of stations for everything from fresh sliced prosciutto to bananas foster, waffles, pancakes, and an entire wall dedicated to just carbs. Fantastic. After downing some eggs and hash browns I walked down to the beach to do some reading. It’s a little awkward being alone, if only due to the constant trips to and from the hotel room to deposit things you don’t want to carry or get stolen but it’s manageable with a little extra effort.

I decided to skip lunch after a few hours on the beach and head over to the pool bar where I ran into Kevin and Jen again who had, to no surprise from me, already made another set of new friends. This time I was introduced to Darwin (I can’t make this shit up), Logan, and Jeff from outside Toronto. As well as Matt, his friend Matt, and his brother Mike. Drinks ensued, shots ranging from something with chocolate in it to straight whiskey (Really?) and soon the afternoon had slowly faded with the sun, and with it any sense of sobriety – again. Kevin and I jokingly agreed to share a room at the Betty Ford clinic if we made it through. Both Kevin and Jen head out today and it will be sad to see them go. Very sociable people and they made my first few days quite memorable.

Sitting at the edge of the infinity pool looking out across the ocean I couldn’t help but rummage through my own thoughts.

- This trip could only have been better if I had someone to share it with. My previous trip to Mexico was with a large group of friends and that alone made the trip. It would have been nice to have a similar outing or, at the very least, a significant other.

- It sucks being alone. Im in paradise with an all-you-can-drink bar not 20 feet away and all I can think of is how alone I am. I realize that sounds totally emo, and it is, but now having just crossed the threshold of 32 and still un-married and without kids you find yourself asking these types of questions. Being surrounded by gorgeous, tanned, and visually stunning women doesn’t help.

- Throughout my life I’ve had this love affair with the water and it still surprises me to this day what a positive effect it has on me. Some of my best memories are of me as a kid with my cousin riding our boogey-boards in on the waves and eating fried clams and french fries from the snack bar all summer long. Even today my mood, my skin, my allergies – heck, I even sleep better. I don’t ’get it’ but I don’t have to, all I know is that there’s a part of me that’s ‘connected’ and when I am away from it I’m simply not 100% there.

Moving on.

Around 7PM I decided I needed to eat and went to reclaim my towel, shirt, and sandals from the chair I’d left them on. Much to my dismay, someone had decided to walk off with them leaving me shoe-less  shirtless, and $10 USD in debt if I couldn’t find another towel. I alerted Eddie at the front desk and he said he’d ring me if they found them. I’m not hopeful and moderately annoyed. I mean really, sweaty nasty shoes?

While there I made a few reservations at the restaurants on the grounds. One for each day ill be here starting tomorrow. Supposedly from Expedia the food is quite good. Ill be sure to document my ‘findings’. :) But for now, Gladiator is on the tube, I’ve got a cold beer and the ocean air blowing into the room.

Im tapping out.

Cancun – Day 1

Posted 1828 days ago by Peter Franceschi. Posted in: Travel
Cancun Day 1 001

The winter in Rochester had hit me pretty hard. The day I left it had actually just finished a fantastic combination of snow-sleet-snow-rain-sleet. Suffice it to say, I couldn’t be happier to get out and head to the warm white-sandy beaches of Cancun. To be honest, I couldn’t really care less about where I’d be going so long as I could escape the gray, monochromatic life of Rochester. Enter, the ‘cun.

The plane ride down was fairly uneventful. Well, let me qualify that. It was uneventful for me. The woman sitting next to me was obviously a nervous flyer and didn’t very much appreciate when the captain came on the PA and apologized for ‘some fairly good sized chop’. She clutched the barf bag the entire way down but thankfully, and much to my satisfaction, didn’t boot.

She did, however, let loose a rather awful, loud, extended, and pungent fart directly into my face when exiting the plane for which she openly apologized. It didn’t help.

And so my first few minutes in Mexico started off on a sour note. Pun intended.

The short cab ride down to the hotel it was just me and 2 other girls who were headed to a separate hotel. We made small talk about what to do in Cancun and I gave them tips on how not to rack up charges on their phones. Suave. Hardly. I soon realized I was quickly approaching ‘creepy old dude’ and backed off choosing instead to chat with Eddie Panacho (Jorge) in my best broken Spanish. He gave some history on the city (Quintana Roo was named after Andres Quintana Roo who helped lead the country to their independence in…some year I don’t recall.) so I tipped him 5 bucks for which he seemed quite appreciative.

A bellman greeted me at the door and took my bags, giving me a claim check and saying he’d personally deliver it to my room for me after check-in. He also presented me with a hot towel. An odd gesture, seeing as it was 86 degrees and plenty balmy, but it was surprisingly refreshing. Checking in was an equally positive experience as a rather attractive young woman presented me with a complimentary mimosa while the check in girl printed out my information. Wristband attached, I headed up to check out the room.

I have to say, I couldn’t be happier with the setup. As I am writing this, my feet are up on the balcony overlooking the Caribbean sea and a strong wind is rushing in through the open sliding glass doors carrying with it the intoxicating smell of fresh salt water. My minibar is filled with Dos Equis, the AC actually works quite well, and the walls are solid concrete.


I threw on my beach duds and headed down to the in-pool bar. Let the games begin.

Swimming over to the bar I could see two guys who seemed to be around my age (read: not ‘spring breakers’) and figured id sit next to them and see whats up. They had just asked the bartender for ‘Tequila anything’ to which the bartender responded promptly with 2 plastic cups with a shot of well tequila and a lime. They looked at the drink like  they were just handed a part to a nuclear generator. I said “Shoot it.” “Straight?” “Yes I am, thanks. Now shoot the tequila ” This got a laugh (thankfully) and I asked for a shot as well. After being trained in the age-old and sacred art of shooting tequila from a friend back home, this was child’s play. We all shot our drinks and started chatting. Julian, from Montreal, was an electrician here for the first time ever and just ‘looking for hot girls’ as he said with a partially slurred french accent. Gabriel, who seemed quite happy when I explained who his namesake was, worked in sales and has been friends with Julian for a while. We chatted about George St. Pierre, UFC, frigid winters, tequila  and taking advantage of the time we’ve been given and using it to take vacations just like this.

We were soon joined by Kevin, a saloon owner and hairdresser from Michigan and his friend Jen, a fine arts professor from Hope University. Jen’s husband had paid Kevin to take her on a vacation to which he happily obliged  Kevin, obviously gay, has gone on dozens of trips like this with Jen and you could say they were ‘bffs’. Kevin, Jen, Gabriel and Julian and I chatted, drank, ate some greasy bar food, and lazily floated our way around the pool. At some point someone that may or may not have been the author decided to leap the bar and snag a bottle of schnapps that had been left out. It was about this point when we decided that schnapps was disgusting and to go hit the Cigar Bar to continue our love affair with Jose Cuervo.

At this point I could tell the tequila was working its dark magic and I decided to switch to water. This probably saved me from a worse fate this morning but I needed a few Motrin, regardless. We played some pool up in the cigar bar, I had some cohibe cigar that Kevin purchased, and I showed them all how to play cut throat pool. This continued for hours until about midnight when we decided to head to the buffet and grab some food. I stuffed my face with all-you-can-eat nachos, pizza, and something which I can only imagine was fried beef. I’ve already set up the appointment with my cardiologist.

Bursting with greasy vittles I decided it was time to bid them adieu and I said goodnight to my new friends. It’s weird to me that 5 unrelated people can so easily become acquaintances in such a short time. I chalk it up to the tequila and its ‘social lubricant’ effect, but regardless, I had an amazing time and the trip has only just begun.


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