Wednesday, February 18, 2015


The act of traveling is always exhausting and once there depending on whose perspective you are going to believe, the time spent at your destination can either be relaxing or frenetic.
Rick had put into place a February trip to Mexico months in advance of the winter of 2015. This was in direct response to the winter of 2013-14, the one that piled up massive amounts of snow, held temperatures down well below freezing with a relentless tenacity and saw us burn our way through two cords of wood while paying out heating bills that rivaled our rent. Rick wasn't putting up with another forecasted blast of the same in 2015. The kicker here has been that the harshness of 2014 hasn't materialized in the Midwest the way either the American or European weather models had predicted.  The tickets we purchased back in October for our February get-away were non-negotiable and since we had purchased them using mileage we couldn't retrieve what we had already spent. So even though the escape now seemed less critical we decided to still pack our bags with enough underwear for eleven days and take the plunge into the warmth of Merida, Mexico.
As a sidebar here I'd like to once again put forth my code of dress and travel etiquette rules I believe every air traveler should obey. Bus travelers get to play by a whole other set of rules and since I rarely travel by bus I'm not so critical of how those passengers tend to appoint themselves. I'm old enough to remember how air travel was a privilege and an experience to be savored. Women wore their finest traveling clothes: a pencil skirt with a matching jacket, white gloves, shoes with heels not laces and a tasteful hat with a veil. Men wore suits and ties, their shoes never exposed their toes, and carried an overcoat and a fedora they removed once they found their seat, a seat that was always assigned prior to boarding. Now I know the airlines bear just as much responsibility for the downgrading of air travel as the current travels do. They've eliminated gourmet dining, made the rows of seats so close if you're over six foot your knees are probably playing havoc with the back of the seat in front of you, and began charging extra for luggage turning boarding into a cattle call with travelers converted to pack mules braying and swearing as they fight for overhead storage space.
Now each time I arrive at the departure gate I'm forced to survey the crowd and begin my checklist for passengers whose tickets I believe should be revoked. The obvious, no shirt - no shoes: no go. Many a man has tried to circumvent this rule with the sleeveless tee. I'm not buying it. The last thing I'm looking forward to is a sweaty, meaty, hairy arm pushing its way onto the arm rest next to me. Pajamas and sweat pants. Ladies, there is nothing attractive or appealing in seeing you show up as my potential seat mate ready for bed without the prospect of even a good-night kiss. Why anyone would want to wear these flabby excuses for comfort that actually do make your ass look big is beyond me.
That out of the way, we had scheduled a 6:40am flight out of Milwaukee to Atlanta making a connection there to a flight to Cancun. It was a spiritual moment seeing the plane being de-iced with the thought that by the end of the day I'd be wantin' a fan Wanda June and a frozen margarita. Once we made it to Cancun we had arranged for a driver to take us to our hotel in Merida, a four-hour drive. Our driver, Gabriel, chatted us up the entire journey giving us all the info we needed about day trips and were to get the best tequila. It was a long day. At around six in the evening, a little after dark we finally pulled up in front of our hotel.
In picking a hotel we also have a set of criteria similar to our dress code requirements for fellow air travelers. First, hotels need to be small. If my room number exceeds the digits on my hands it's probably not going to qualify for a reservation. Major hotels rarely have any personality. For some the comfort in sameness might be the safety factor they need. For us it's character and charm we're after. The word "boutique" always gets our attention. From there we start looking at the pictures. A high sense of design will catch our eye and gain points on our hotel scorecard.
Amenities are important, things like a nice breakfast, bath supplies and a pool are good selling points. Price is a consideration but we never low-ball. Bathrooms are critical. No toilets out in the open. We do our business in private without an audience even of each other. Life has to include some mysteries.
What we ended up booking for our stay in Merida was a six-room, boutique hotel with a plunge pool, a restaurant and an exceptional contemporary design. The hotel has only been open five months. Since our criteria were mostly visual it wasn't until days later that we realized the name of the hotel was Casa Italia. We so love Italy it seemed no coincidence that the hotel we picked out would be Italian rather than Yucatanian.  The hotel is run by two business partners: Daniel and Daniele both Italian transplants.  Heart and sole has been poured into every detail of the Casa Italia. Both guys seem to alternate at the front desk; one day it's Daniel and the next it's Daniele. Anything you need, they're there to take care of for you. We were given the room on the top of the hotel.
There's no elevator and only one staircase but somehow they were able to transport our luggage up to the room before we could walk up the stairs. Our room was beautiful with a balcony and view down into the garden. On our arrival a plate of fruit with chocolate and local honey for dipping was set out for us.
At night the pools are lit and a small bubbling fountain much like an eternal flame trickles out of the floor in the covered passage between the bar and courtyard. Having spent the day bearing up under the torment of an hour and fifteen minute drive from Madison to Milwaukee, a two hour flight from Milwaukee to Atlanta, a two hour layover in Atlanta while the airline replaced the battery that powered the air-conditioning on the plane then a three-hour flight from Atlanta to Cancun, an hour walk through customs and a four-hour car ride to Merida we were exhausted.
We ended the day with an exceptional pasta dinner at the hotel, a wrestling match with all of the remotes for the TV and Wi-Fi necessitating a trip from Daniel to give us a tutorial on how each of the remotes worked, and finally languorously dipping our delicious plate of bananas, strawberries and pineapple in the bowls of chocolate and honey as our nightcap.  From there it was off to sleep

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