My sister, Missy, decided to get married in Mexico to make things less complicated (not a bad idea :D ). She and her fiancee Ron invited us to come along to the Moon Palace Resort in Cancun, which is on the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula. Before I left, I started my PADI Open Water Diving course so I could finish it with two days of diving in Cancun.Day 1
I left Minneapolis in the afternoon with my parents and sister, Kristi, on a NWA flight to Cancun. It was an uneventful flight, but only took about three hours. When we hit the ground it was very exciting since it was the furthest south I had ever been and the third country I had been to, only having been to the United States and Canada before. Unfortunately, the weather was a little bad and dark clouds covered the sky, but it was still a very nice airport and the ride to the Moon Palace Resort was fun.
Checking into the Moon Palace was remarkable. It was the fanciest place I had ever been in, with marble floors and very luxurious details in the decor. All of the staff were very nice and brought us champagne while we waited to check in. The best part of all was that the place had about twelve different places to eat and even more places to drink unlimited amounts since it was all-inclusive. Our room was nice and had a jacuzzi and some other nice amenities, but I ended up sleeping on a cot since we were all sharing a room. Another unique trait about this hotel is that it is located a ways down the shore from the main Cancun area, so you don't have people from other hotels walking in or peddlers trying to sell fake silver. It is isolated and quiet, but you can take a taxi or shuttle to the city and also see the main resort area in the distance from the beach.
Days 2 and 3
Over the next two days we explored the resort and ate at a number of the buffet restaurants, joining the bride and groom on several meals. The massive pool was very cool, and they had some great shows at night to watch, like the Fire Show with pyro dancing to techno music. The beach was not nearly as nice as the main Cancun area since it was further south and tons of seaweed washed up on shore. The hotel staff operated several vehicles to pick up the seaweed and haul it off to a disposal area.
Today was my sister's wedding and I must say that they did a good job of it. It took place in a gazebo near the beach and they brought my sister in on a horse-drawn carriage with a driver wearing a fancy sombrero. Afterwards we ate at a buffet and then watched a Michael Jackson impersonator give a show by the Sunrise lobby.Day 5
Today I got ready to go diving in the morning and then took a shuttle to Aqua World in the main Cancun resort area. I was impressed by their facilities and organization for the most part and the shuffled all of us onto a dive boat. I was among about eight people finishing the open water diving course and it was my first time diving in the ocean, so it was a little scary, but once I hit the water it was awesome. Cancun's reefs were devastated by a hurricane, but there are areas that are very beautiful and filled with coral and fish.
The worst part of the diving was that my instructor was Asian and hard to understand over the din of the boat's engines. Also, when I got suited up for the second dive of the day, my BCD had a leak and I couldn't stay afloat, but it was quickly replaced. I also got a little seasick after the second dive, but managed to hold it in, while another diver vomited over the side. Overall, it was still fun and it was great getting a chance to see the world of coral reefs after having had a reef aquarium for a year at home.Day 6
Today I finished the final two dives of my open water course and became a certified PADI open water diver. It was a proud moment and I was glad to finish all of the tasks that we had to do underwater, like clearing our masks, removing and replacing BCDs, and swapping regulators. The last dive was free and gave us a chance to explore the reefs near Isla Mujares in depth. I saw plenty of barracuda, triggers, sea fans, brain coral, angels, and other creatures.
Today we took the trip to Chichen Itza, an ancient Mayan Capital, which is now on the new Wonders of the World list. Unfortunately, the bus stopped at the border between Quintana Roo and Merida and my mom left her purse in the bathroom. Sure enough, it was stolen and that kind of ruined the day, but we pressed on.
On the way there, we stopped in a small village with shopping, which had all sorts of Mayan art and jewelry to buy. When we arrived at Chichen Itza, we were given the tour of the grounds, including El Castillo (the trademark pyramid), the Ball Court, and the Observatory. It was awe-inspiring to see these ancient structures that were built by hand over 1500 years ago and so well preserved. I developed a great respect for the Mayan culture, despite the fact that they were now reduced to peddling trinkets to tourists along the pathways and living in ramshackle homes. On the way out, I purchased a small carving from a Mayan peddler to decorate my cubicle.
Today we took a trip to Isla Mujares, a small island off the coast of Cancun. The boat ride was fun, with a lot of party music and antics by the staff conducting the tour. We docked at the Palace Resort on Isla Mujares, which is very beautiful and isolated. I took a tour around the island on a boat with my mom, while my sister and Terry went snorkeling. We got to see a small aquatic zoo with rays, dolphins, manatees, and even a shark, which was cool. Afterwards, we went shopping in the main downtown area, which looked like it would be a fun place to live.Day 9
Today we took an early flight back to Minneapolis after checking out of the hotel. Everyone was disappointed to get back, but I was glad that the trip had gone mainly well.Final Thoughts
Overall, it was a great trip and a lot of fun. The highlights for me were my sister's wedding, diving in the ocean, and seeing the amazing Chichen Itza and poverty-stricken Mayans that live around it. I highly recommend the Palace Resorts to any Cancun tourists for a great all-inclusive dining, drinking, and touring experience. I also recommend Aqua World for diving since they did a good job overall.