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Becoming 30 on the Mayan Riviera

It was actually twenty minutes past my birthday when the big surprise walked through the door. We arrived on a late bus to Cancun and then took a cab the 40 minutes to Playa. I was wrecked and cranky, having suffered many birthday injustices, including a terrible dye job that had rendered me a tabby haired extra from West Side Story, a super-uncomfortable bus ride, and a birthday supper taken away from Church’s Chicken next to the bus station, eaten at the bus station, and which was perhaps the most offensive sandwich ever served in the history of chicken. I was feeling just a little woe-is-me and ready to put the day to bed. We were settling into our tree top hotel room when Malcolm went to inquire about something at the front desk. A few minutes later when he burst back in and stepped aside to allow for the entrance of our dear friend L.W., who had flown in all the way from New Haven at the behest and generosity of my wonderful husband, to celebrate me and make our adventure even more merry. I was speechless.

She was the most amazing thing to behold and within moments my mood was altered. We three trooped down to the nearest bar to unpack the events that led to this incredible reunion. We took a circle of seats at a place I think was called Squid Roe but not in any way was it a dive; here there are four bars on four corners and each was casually chic, lounge-like and very animated at 12:45. All around us were sexy European types strolling, laughing, and looking super cool. But much more important was our little coterie. I could not get over the fact that in 6 days Malcolm had proposed to her the plan, L.W. had accepted and they covertly made the arrangements for her to fly down and meet us for birthday night’s revelry. Even whilst we spoke on the phone earlier in the week and I lamented my loneliness and torpor she was apparently messaging with M regarding the plan and hardly listening to my lame complaining. I could not believe my luck finally, sipping my mojito, and catching up with one of my best friends from college with my handsome, thoughtful husband.

After a drink we retired to our rooms to rest up for a big day. In Cozumel we waited for my dad, who like Godot never came. We spent the last quarter of an hour of our futile morning watching the cruise ship passengers from a perch in Senor Frog’s, a truly absurd spot during the sun-drenched day. We weren’t in the mood for their shot girl shenanigans and Paradise City hijinks and left quickly and more sober than I was every day of my junior year in college We consoled ourselves with lunch at Guido’s, the island’s Italian kitchen-garden. The food is good and the atmosphere soothing. We had sangria, salad, carpaccio and their signature thin crust garlic bread and pizza. It is unlike any other pie I have tried, tasty, but not life-altering. We returned to Playa on the 3 o’clock ferry to nap and regain our strength. Later we rallied and walked all over Quinta Avenida looking for a good place to refuel and people-watch. We found a great beach bar in Zenzi (?) and a terrible restaurant with an excellent view (Madre Tierra) but managed to feel satisfied enough for a day that was not what it was supposed to be. We slept.

On Saturday we visited the park Xcaret and had 12 hours of unqualified fun. Anyone who says one thing disparaging about this marvelous place has a heart made of stone and constant constipation. Xcaret is a blast from the moment you arrive in the early morning heat until you exit in a sea of misty-eyed Mexicans into the chilly night. It is awesome, bird-filled, cultural, dramatic, earnest, floral, gigantic, hot, interactive, Jillian-endorsed, k rico buffet, lush, Mayan, noisy, ornithological, patriotic, quixotic, riveting, sylvan, tiring, underground, vivid, wet, xcaret-errific, yucateco, zoological. I promise to tell you all more about it later with photos. It is a post in itself. A magical day!

The only other event you must know about now is our last supper, at a wonderful tapas place with an unfortunate location a little off 5th. Even though I swore I would remember the name I don’t. And even though I want every single person to go there I can’t for the life of me describe where it is. This should add to the mystique and all I can say is look for it: it is there. A tall dark and handsome owner with a gray moustache, a jolly, generous and gifted chef and a doll-eyed polka-dotted, slightly silly waitress are all waiting for you. Ask for nothing; let them treat you to their glorious gastro- happening. Our feast included manchego, chorizo, serrano, salami, shrimp in garlic, calamari lightly toasted, tortilla, beef broth, bread and of course wine. This meal was matchless and incendiary; I am thinking about it still. If I can suss out anything I will update this slacker’s report. Update: La Tasca Manolo is located on Constituentes between Avenidas 10 and 15.

At this point I am going to have to quit this post as it is becoming ungainly and I am quite tired, having reached the ripe old age of thirty with some style as well as a few growing pains. Special thanks to Malcolm, my hero, and to L.W., a wonderful friend who made the trip so much fun and even more special. Thanks again to all well-wishers. I am a happy girl.

There Are 3 Responses So Far. »

  1. Jillian, That was one great present your hubby gave you! How wonderfully devious of him to plot like that on your behalf. So glad your birthday was rescued!

  2. Since it was your birthday and you were in town with friends, I won’t rag on you too hard for not finding a way to meet me while you were here. But don’t expect the same pass if I ever come your way.

  3. Happy belated birthday and sounds like you had a great time. Malcolm certainly is a wonderful husband, but then you don’t need me to tell you that

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