When it comes to travel (and women, and common sense, and aptitude of any description) I am somewhat of a late bloomer. My first foreign Holiday outside of school didn't happen until 1993, when I went to Tunisia with some friends. I returned from that holiday, with the travel bug. Luckily, I got some cream from the chemist, and it soon cleared up. What didn't clear up, however, was the need to travel again - I wanted to see the world, and see it fast!
Within a week of coming back to England, I was in the travel agents looking at holidays. I had decided that I didn't want to do a 'local' holiday - Spain, Italy, Canvey Island, but instead wanted to visit somewhere far away. After much deliberation, I chose a holiday to Cancun, Mexico. But I wasn't mucking about - I went for a two week, all inclusive holiday in a 5 star Resort - the Eldorado Royale Spa Resort in Playa Del Carmen. If you want to see what it is like, click here. I also chose that destination because I was an Adults only resort, and I was hoping for a bit of holiday romance. The cost of the holiday was £1300 and I paid it off monthly in instalments. I was booked to leave on 7th September 2004 (almost 7 years ago), and I couldn't wait.
Soon enough the day came, and I boarded flight MYT023 from Gatwick bound for Cancun. It was a 10 hour flight, but I had extra legroom so it was alright. We landed in Cancun and I got my transfer to the Hotel. There were a few other people travelling to the hotel with me, three or four couples - some of them newlyweds, so we had a bit of a chat along the way. We got to the hotel, and when I checked in, I was given a complimentary glass of champagne, and waited to be taken to my accommodation. The hotel was amazing, and the gardens were beautiful. And my room was amazing too - a massive walk in shower, king size bed, and a jacuzzi. Being all inclusive, there was 24 hour room service, and I could have what I want from the mini bar. It really was a great place to come on holiday - but there was one teeny weeny little problem that I had discovered.
Yes, it was adults only. However, it was also couples only.
I was the only single person out of about 500 couples. D'oh!
For two weeks, I ate alone in every one of seven different restaurants. I sat on the beach alone, every day and worked on my tan. At various times between midnight and 5am during the course of my stay I would ring room service and order a burger and fries, followed by cheesecake - for one. I didn't meet another single person (non-couple) until the afternoon of the day before I left. It really was a fail of epic proportions - but not my only one.
You know how on these holidays there are various excursions you can go on? well I booked myself onto a 2 for 1 excursion deal: we would visit the ancient Maya city of Chichen Itza, and then go on to a place called Xel Ha which calls itself a "natural aquarium" - you can swim with fishes and turtles and dolphins etc. The plan was to go by coach to Chichen Itza, then leave at Midday and go to Xel Ha. We go to Chichen Itza, and are told to be back at the coach by 11:50am. So I go wandering around taking pictures etc. and admiring the scenery - not thinking about the time. I don't have a watch with me, but I know I haven't been gone that long.
I walk back to where the coaches are parked and find that my coach has gone on to Xel Ha without me. I was about 45 minutes late in coming back admittedly. But now I'm stuck in Chichen Itza with no money (it's with my swimming gear on the coach), with just my camera and Panama hat - I was stranded but dapper. After a mini panic, I manage to blag my way onto another coach that is going to Xel Ha. Problem solved - I just catch up with my coach there, get my gear and enjoy myself at Xel Ha.
Problem not solved. When I get to Xel Ha, my coach is not there. It has gone on to collect some more people - still with my swimming gear and money on board. So for three hours, I am at this fabulous natural aquarium, where you can swim with turtles, dolphins, and all manner of exotic fish - and I have to sit in a chair and do nothing.
What an absolute nightmare.
The final thing (cos things happen in 3's) was that one night I got a little drunk - drowning my sorrows at my abysmal lack of luck no doubt), and when I got back to my hotel room, I knocked a lamp over and smashed it. And the hotel charged me $50 for it. I should have tried to blame it on Hurricane Ivan, which swept through about 300 miles of shore during the second week. The beach got washed about 100 metres in land, and for one night I was advised to sleep in my shower, in case my windows got blown in.
It sounds like I had a really rotten time of it, but in fact I had a really really good time. I loved the resort, and would like to visit it again sometime - but next time, I'll take someone with me.