In May I landed in Calgary and before I could touch my feet to the ground I turned around with in 48 hours and got back on a plane bound for Cancun, Mexico for Bill's Wedding at the enormous Barcelo Resort. Once I return and got my feet grounded in Calgary after the boozy week in Mexico I began getting back in to writing my screenplay and the general Canadian lifestyle (Ice Hockey Playoffs) before it was off to Stony Plain for part 3 of the Wedding for the Edmonton family that didn't go to Mexico. To complete the month I attended my first WWE Monday Night RAW wrestling in ages thanks to my buddy Chad.
|Billy stopped by to give me my wedding|
attire and Sun glasses (Bestman gift).
Hockey Playoffs in the background.
|Thanks Bill. Replacing my |
sunglasses that had just fallen
apart 24 hours before on the flight
back from Argentina
May 2 flying Buenos Aires to Calgary. Nothing much to say about my lay over in Houston expect that airport prices are stupid (as usual) and if you think paying for priority treatment with United will get you priority through Homeland Security you will learn the hard way. It was fun to watch a guy who did pay the extra as we all stood in the 45 min security line. "I paid for priority boarding! Why do I have to stand in line, our flight is in 45 minutes..." this guy said as he began to explode on the security person who was preoccupied with her personal texting as she repeated "You will have to talk to United sir" in between his rants. Of course there was no United agent in the area, too bad as that would have been an even better situation to watch.
I wish I could take a pill that would make the US Airport Security experience disappear.
|United can pay me for this one|
|Plane bridge over a highway, Houston, TX, |
|LOOK! at the shadow of the plane|
|Patterns of the ice in one of Calgary's man made lakes|
|Calgary does have a nice skyline|
I basically slept for my 30 hours back in Calgary before I got picked up by Bill and Trish for their destination wedding
at Resort Barcelo (1 hr from Cancun and 20 km from Playa del Carmen). Not only was I on a short turn around, but I had to adjust to Canadian culture again and prepare to be the Best Man and MC for another wedding. I definitely felt shell shock to say the least meeting a ton of people I had never met before in Bill and Trish's families. Nothing a 5+ hr flight, 1.5 hour wait at Mexican Customs and a 1 hr bus ride with out food the entire time couldn't sort out. A good bonding experience for all of us.
|True Canadian culture. Lining up at|
Tim Horton's for airport coffee. $$$
|Great view of the city from the plane|
|Special games for the groom, |
|Toilet paper wedding dress. Westjet did their best to|
make it a fun flight. Good stuff.
|Oh boy! Look at the colours|
|Cancun on the end of the peninsula|
|This ad seems perfect and so phalic|
|What? Everyone has to stand|
around in Mexico?
|Yes, everyone has to stand around in Mexico.|
Ah Latin America
Plus, I got the Red light meaning I got searched.
|A non-inclusive round of bus beers.|
Initially I had expected a single hotel all inclusive resort like the ones I've stayed at in Puerto Vallarta, but Barcelo a 4 star RESORT
is not the same. What a difference that extra star makes! Check out this Resort which reminded me of Las Vegas by the beach!
|Airplane view of Barcelo courtesy the internet. Can hold 5000+ people |
Note: This 4 star all-inclusive on the beach for 7 days including flight was only $1400 USD, awesome!
|Huge buffets with everything! Everyday.|
|V ball, Maverick on the right >>>|
|Iguanas and others in the bushes|
|An incredible amount of fresh water pools|
|Three amigos at the swim up bar|
The beach at Barcelo and an interview with the groom, Bill.
|What is that?|
On the Sunday evening a few nights before the wedding we held the Stag as the schedule had suggested. Initially the thought was to go in to Playa del Carmen, just the boys, but being a hybrid wedding with only one guy in the whole wedding party that was going to be tricky. Both of Bill's sisters were in the wedding party so the Bachelor became a regular bar night purely on the fact that we ended up with about 50% girls in the party as guys invited their girlfriends too. What!!! To be fair a stag in your late 30's really shouldn't have a "crazy" party like one in your late 20's. When you marry in your 30's the marriage biologically lasts less time and has a better chance of success so the stakes aren't as high. In your 20's the party should be epic and usually is... Plus in your 30's you just can't drink like that anymore.
As everyone knows you can't really talk about the standard bachelor party, but for this one I have no idea.
At the first bar in the lobby the mature generation and first sister with her 6 month old strapped to her called it a night when we went on to Jaguars the Barcelo night club (alcohol included!). This part of the night was a standard bar night and pretty good too. Bill gave us the robot (as seen in the MUST SEE video), we managed to start a 5 person dance circle that grew in to 35 people and then Ryan and I locked arms and began a limbo line sending through half of the bar or more. Closing time at 3am and we grabbed a road drink each for the short 5 minute walk back to the rooms which actually took about 25 in our state.
MUST SEE!!! Bill's robot which most of you have heard about, but only a few get to see. Now you can see it!
Keep going...What? It's not over? Ryan was not done. At 3:30am he heavily suggested we go to Playa del Carmen to have some guy time. Being completely honest I was pretty done and Billy didn't look like he had anymore left, but the argument that you only get married once was too good not to ignite us. The 4 of us (add some Steve guy) piled in a taxi and took on the new adventure Ryan had set out. I think the photos tell the story and that's all I can say for the gentlemen's part of the Stag ;-)
|We arrived to a blurry Playa del Carmen|
|Ryan, Bill, Steve|
|Oh, it was smoky in the bar|
|Bill the dance machine|
|Bill looking like a drunk turtle|
Sample of what ever club we ended up at. You know I have had too many drinks when I begin to love beats. Not even sure who shot the video.
|Ryan dancing with Billy ..|
or holding him up?
May 8 will forever be know as Bill's wedding day to me even though they got married legally in Calgary before the trip. This is likely why when I asked Bill if he was nervous he said "No". Also why I refer to the Mexico wedding as part 2.
- If you have grooms women they don't have to try to be guys with excess burping and ...
- You will likely see a man you have never seen cry with tears in his eyes
- Don't double knot the rings unless the Best Man has a knife
- Reception on the beach is by far the way to go at an all-inclusive. Sand between your toes, drink in your hand and no car to drive home!
- Try to filter out pushy waiters shaking the tip jar in my face every time I got a drink. It was so bad people in the wedding were going back to their rooms to get more tip money. When I asked one waiter why he was being so pushy, he told me he had 5 kids to feed and Americans can pay be tips because they are so rich. I told them it cost us all a lot of money to come here and tipping is part of the package. Few people coming to Barcelo from anywhere outside of Canada and the USA don't tip and it isn't a big mexican custom either. Too bad Americans and Canadians don't stick to the customs of the country they are in (btw, tipping is an insult in some countries). Realising I was not "fresh off the boat" he apologised and went to work on drunker people.
|Tough part of being a grooms woman, someone needs to|
watch your kid. Good pick up Joe!
|Billy looking like a Pro Athlete|
focused for the big game as he
stepped off the bus.
|The view from above the wedding|
|The wedding gazebo|
|Jerry, Bill and Helen|
|I just had to sneak a shot from my prime position|
Reception on the beach...
|The MC is ready|
|Let the dancing begin|
Can't stop me from screwing up the Macarena
|A tribute to Macarena|
Congrats to Bill and Trish!
Finishing the week strongly I managed to get over to Cozumel for a couple of SCUBA dives. Know as some of the best diving in the world and I believe the second largest reef behind the Great Barrier I had to do it.
The Mission: Get the cheapest possible "short notice dives" on Cozumel using my amazing Spanish and travel knowledge... Or just get lucky.
When staying at a resort and they say the price is $130 for 2 dives on Cozumel (plus taxi and ferry costs) you just know you can get a better deal. Sure it would be less of a headache to just sign up through the resort, but where's the adventure in that? I would not have this blog if I always chose the purely tourist path so I chose the thrifty less organised way of course.
|Courtesy Zev Chernilo|
|Courtesy Zev Chernilo dive buddy|
6:15 am wake up. Thought the breakfast buffet would be open at 6:30, but had to wait until 7am. Stuffed my face, grabbed some bread, meat and fruit for the road and headed out of the Barcelo fortress to the highway where the locals take collectivos to town (shared taxi vans) for $3 USD instead of $24 taxis. Not knowing what the collectivos looked like in Mexico I flagged down a tour bus that blew passed me. Huh? A whistle from a collectivo 50 m away at the collectivo stopping area, a little chuckle to myself and we were off at mach 1 to the ferry terminal. This guy was fast. 20 km = 10 minutes.
"Here's your stop, 2 blocks that way to the ferry" (in spanish). It's never 2 blocks in any country I've been! 7 or 8 blocks of touring the waking town as they prepared for tourists I found the ferry terminal. The prices were in USD and Pesos, but my $20 USD was no good as the girl refused to give change in USD ($13 USD one way). Note: Only book one way as there are two companies and you will likely have to wait an hour for the right company if you have a round trip ticket.
Walking to the ferry
|Quiet in the morning|
Needing change for the ferry a smooth English speaking Mexican approached asking what I wanted to do today. I defensively said "Diving" and he said my friend has a place right here. I checked it out figuring I should book soon in order to have a spot on the morning dives starting at 8 or 9am. The girl running the shop was good and the guy convinced me it was legit saying, "You know where they are if you have a problem, the shop can't move". I took the bait, especially because the price was half the resort price and the same as the internet research I had done (this does not mean quality however). With my change I bought a one way ferry ticket and joined the big line for it, which was good because I believe it's on a first come first serve basis.
A nice ride across to Cozumel with live entertainment for a tip. Those musicians must play the same songs 5 times a day 300 days a year = La Bamba played 15000
times over 10 years working on this ferry.
The band playing us over to Cozumel
|Line up and hope there's a seat|
Oh no, I forgot the name of the Dive Shop this guy represented. Hector who??? After sitting at the Cozumel terminal on the street for about 15 minutes I got anxious and questioned the first guy I saw with a SCUBA shirt on. "Oh Hector, let me call him" (in spanish). Waiting at the terminal with my "Hector" sticker on my shirt the SCUBA guy came out of his shop across the street and gave me a thumbs up which must have meant things were good. Ok. And sure enough they were good as Hector started honking his horn shortly after that waving me over. I jumped in and we were away as he began to explain how he keeps the diving cheap by operating out of his van and charging extra for optional things like wet suits. Let's just say I wasn't impressed by the nickel and dime approach, but my game plan paid off as I was set for two dives in Cozumel.
|Tour booths spanning the prier|
|Waiting for Hector|
We arrived at what you could think was a dock or a rocky cove with boats crammed together, Hector grabbed my gear out of the back of the van and I jumped in the boat with out evening trying it on. He handed the gear to Dennis and said goodbye. Yikes, no Hector for the dive, who's this 22 year old chunky Mexican Dennis? I thought thank god I have my rescue diver certification as I turned to the group of divers waiting patiently for the Canadian rock star before they could enjoy their diving. An American girl, her plastic mom (snorkeling) and three Chileans rounded out the dive group with only Dennis as the lone dive master or what ever he was. At no point did I get his qualifications or did he ask for my card (my word was enough). Luckily the gear worked and fit.
Rushing around Mexican style
|Hector's van dive shop|
Hector Aguilar Perera AVOID HIM!
Everything was rushed! We sped to the first dive, jumped in, went for about 45 min at 13m and then up (see photos). Only 20 minutes for a dive interval (not ideal) and then back in the water. I protested and took what I thought was at least 30 min considering I had to fly the next day and no one had a dive computer or a watch for us to really know what interval time we needed. The second dive was similar to the first; a drift dive with great visability (25m!) and lots of lovely underwater life. Unfortunately with this bandito dive operator we didn't get to the reef and I didn't even get the name of the dive locations. All I can say is I dove somewhere around Cozumel. OH, and yes I finally saw turtles during a dive so it was all worth it.
Quick underwater chat about turtles and other things. You can figure it out I'm sure...
|Let's begin the dive|
|My first turtle experience during a dive|
|Courtesy Zev Chernilo |
|Courtesy Zev Chernilo|
|Courtesy Zev Chernilo|
|My shark like view point|
Da na, da na, da na, DANANA...
Hector met us back at the make shift dock, hustled us in to the van, delivering the Americans to their cruise ship and the Chileans to their hotel lastly leaving me back at the terminal. I got a ticket to the other company ferry and was back in Playa del Carmen for around 2 pm. I wasted away in the 33 C Mexican sun as I searched for the collectivo stop about 9 blocks from the terminal where I lined up for the next available shuttle. Definitely busier than the morning I joined 10 or 11 more as we crammed in and headed the direction of the resort. The girl sitting beside me was on her day off going to Tulum (1 hr away) with her sister and kids. She told me she worked at Barcelo and loved it which was great to hear as I feared they treated the employees poorly. I gave her my apple as the collectivo stopped to let me out, she thanked me for the apple which is likely not free for employees and I made my way back to fortress and my bed for a afternoon nap!
The Result: Definitely recommend the adventure of going diving outside of the resort's companies. One thing I would change is booking ahead on the net with a reputable Cozumel company a few days ahead, which may take some of the adventure out of it. You decide.
Total price: Collectivos, Ferries and Diving $110 USD. Saved $80+ USD and learned a lot!
|Last moments at 7am. The ocean one last time|
RECOMMEND: Barcelo for 1 week for $1400! Finding your own dive shop. Partying in Playa del Carmen. Having a wedding reception on the beach, priceless!
DON'T RECOMMEND: Hector Aguilar Perera diving and buying a for a Cozumel shop from the Playa del Carmen side. Being in Barcelo during the NHL 1st round playoffs because you won't see many games.
Bonus Wedding Part 3 in Stony Plain for the Bride's family that could not attend Mexico. I made the 3 hr drive up to catch the festivities and the classic canadian style reception where no one dances and everyone stays a lot more conservative compared to Mexico. I arrived in town around 3pm at my hotel and took a hot tub for my hockey playing sore muscles.
Canadian hotels are nice enough and regularly very quality, but pricey compared to a lot of countries.
|Pool area as I enjoy the hot tub|
Later at the reception.
|Fun and games with the Bride and Groom|
|Tradition of Groom going up the|
bride's dress for her leg garter
Finally, near the end of May I got a call from my buddy Chad who had a ticket for WWE Monday night RAW from his famous cousin Chris Jericho who was a showcase talent for the Calgary show that night. I have to admit I haven't watched a lot of wrestling in the last 5 years so I didn't know a lot of the stars, but figured it out quick enough who was good and who was bad. As the show concluded they held a hugh tribute to Brett "the Hitman" Hart one of the legends who grew up and got his start in Calgary. Hell, the aloof owner Vince McMahon even showed up to give the long broken relationship a hug.
|Sign RAW is in town, WWE trucks|
|$15 for a foam finger!!! |
|The Great Khali|
7'1" (2.13m) 350lbs
Next month ... Building a garage ... well learning how and helping as best I could
|The town hall meeting by the tour guides at Barcelo|
"helping" us spend our days and money correctly
|Became a Rubik's master|
|Included Lobster dinner at Barcelo.|
I went two nights in a row!
|A mascot at the Cancun airport showing which things|
you can't take on a plane
An unbelievable breakfast spread at my Travelodge Hotel in Stony Plain! One of the best I've seen in Canada.