This is the first of four postings I am typing tonight. In this one, I will tell you about my arrival into Cancun and the adventure I had getting from the airport to my AirBnB host's home in the city center of Cancun (not to be confused with the resort / beach / hotel / tourist area)...
So my flight from Atlanta to Cancun followed a 4 hour layover at Atlanta airport, during which time I journalled, spoke to my mom on the phone, charged my US cellphone and laptop, read some of a teach yourself Spanish-type book, and ate several snacks in lieu of a full meal.
While eating my second Arby's classic roastbeef sandwich, I was surprised to see and hear this fellow playing alto sax to tracks right in the middle of my terminal's food court area at the Atlanta Airport:
Soon enough, it was time to board, and once on the plane, my flight was relatively uneventful but for the fact that the movie, Spiderman 2, which I really wanted to see (crazy that I did not see it in the theater in NYC when it came out earlier this summer), was not coming through anyone's headphone jacks on the entire flight, so a decision was made to pipe the sound through the overhead speakers, with very little success due to the extremely low volume level. This plus it took the flight crew so long to troubleshoot the issue that only 1/2 of the movie was able to be shown on my 2.5 hour or longer flight to Cancun. Oh well -- can't have everything, I suppose...
Though I read the literature that accompanied the Telcel Mexican sim card that I had purchased last fall for my previously cancelled trip, and which I was assured by the US salesman would still work this August, apparently everyone involved was mistaken, and the damned thing wound up being a complete waste of time and an utter piece of crap. No matter what I did -- no matter which of my 2 GSM phones I tried, I could not get a signal in Cancun airport, and thus I could not activate the card to tell my nervous parents that I had arrived safely, nor could I call my AirBnB host Walter to let him know that I had landed and was making my way towards his home.
So, instead of being excited to see Cancun Airport, taking pictures and shooting video like I normally would have done once I emerged from a relatively smooth passport control and customs procedure, instead I was preoccupied with why the hell my stupid sim card was not working, and I completely forgot to document my arrival or the boarding of my bus from the airport to Cancun city center.
My ADO bus was cushy and air conditioned and plush and super comfortable and everything you would think a luxury coach should be, and it was pretty cheap for the almost 40 minute ride -- don't remember exactly how much, but I have the receipt around here somewhere if anyone is interested. I even got to watch part of The Silver Lining Playbook in Spanish during my smooth ride to the Cancun city center ADO bus terminal.
Here is a short video of the ADO bus terminal in Cancun's city center, as I made my way from my bus through the station and out onto the street. I also stopped to use the pay-toilet, which I did not include in this video...:
Once I got off the bus, I immediately headed across the street to the Telcel cell phone store that I saw upon exiting the bus station. Using only Spanish, I was able to choose, purchase, and activate a sim card that now works beautifully. Well, truth be told, during the activation part, which took place on my actual cellphone with a Telcel rep after having been placed on hold for 15 minutes (hope that call didn't count towards my minutes!!!), I finally asked to speak to an English-speaking rep, because I was talking myself in a circle and I really wanted to be done with the process so I could make my way to my room where I am now staying.
Following purchase of the sim card, I walked next door to an OXXO convenience store -- a chain here much like 7-Eleven (which they also have) and I added 100 pesos value to the card (a little less than $10 US dollars). I also made this purchase entirely in Spanish, asking various questions to the cashier as I chose my recharge amount.
Here are 2 audio clips -- one of me initially purchasing the sim card and the other of me recharging it next door. Unfortunately, my recorder was in my pocket and there was a lot of background noise, so the recordings are mainly being posted here for my own posterity. I actually had an amazing Spanish-only conversation earlier this evening while purchasing my bus tickets for tomorrow, which I will get to in my next posting, but alas, I did not have my recorder on me today to record the dang thing! Oh well...
Finally, I was all set with the cell phone. After various trial and error efforts with and without country and city codes, I finally got through to my host Walter and was ready to hop in a cab to his home. Total wasted time lining up a new sim card for my phone: at least 1.5 hours.
The taxi ride was smooth and the driver was very friendly, asking me where I was from and other pleasantries, which I negotiated entirely in Spanish -- and not even that broken, either! I was encouraged with my growing confidence in this language...Luckily, my cellphone was working, because the driver got lost and we had to call Walter for revised directions.
Once I arrived at Walter's, I paid the driver, got out and shook Walter's hand, and was led to my spacious and comfortable room. Here is a video of the place where I am staying, shot today, maybe 18 hours after arriving in Cancun:
After a pleasant and brief conversation with Walter, I asked him for walking directions to a cheap but tasty local restaurant, because I was really hungry by this point and ready for a yummy dinner. Walter had a photocopy of a map ready for me (presumably he has these for his various AirBnB guests throughout the year), and in no time, I was on my way, at dusk, in an attempt to follow his walking directions while at the same time never having been here before and having absolutely no idea where I was going!
I thought that I had gotten lost, but my instincts were actually quite excellent. If I had only walked 1/2 block more, I would have found the exact place Walter recommended, a taco place I would up eating at on 8/15 (see my next entry for that date). Instead, I had a really great double-decker hamburger with fried onions and mushrooms on a delightfully toasted bun at a place called Bronto Burger. Here are a photo and a video of my experience, as well as a daylight shot taken the next day when I walked by it a second time on my way to breakfast:
Upon returning from Bronto Burger, I unpacked my suitcase, took a shower, and fell promptly asleep for the next 8 hours. Unfortunately, I accidentally turned off the fan in my room when I turned off the light to sleep, and I woke up this morning drenched in a puddle of my own sweat. Cancun in August is the most humid, sweatingest place I have ever visited, AND I HAVE NO AIR CONDITIONER WHILE HERE, FOLKS. Oh, the things we take for granted sometimes. Maybe I'll be lucky and lose 10 pounds from all of the sweating. That is another story, though.
Thanks for reading, and onto the next posting.