Reader, you are probably thinking, “What?! She went to Florida this summer too?!” And though I did go to 3 different beaches this summer, all varying in color of surf and sand, I did not set foot on a Florida beach. Despite that, Orlando is what I’m missing most right now.
The first thing I did after busting through Customs in Cancun was to find my friend JD. Immediately. I was not going to feel safe until her hand was in mine. We had a grand plan on how to meet up and it was quickly foiled by custom and travel agents. Argh! While at the Houston airport I overheard a gentleman tell his family that once they landed to not stop.
“Don’t let anyone talk to you. Get your bag, keep your head down and get out of the airport to await shuttle pick up.”
I thought that was odd but while I turned slow circles in the middle of the airport, looking for JD, a man in a blue shirt approached me. He assessed that I was either lost or slow dancing with my carry on and offered to help. I explained that I was looking for my friend.
“We have a shuttle picking us up and they said they would wait no longer than 45 minutes after our flights landed,” I explained to the gentleman. (JD flew in from CO and I from TX.)
“No, no! They’ll wait for you! Come with me while you wait for your friend. I’ll help you find her.”
Naively relieved, I followed him to a counter that he slipped behind and began pulling out all kinds of brochures. I’m naïve but not dumb and I quickly realized he was a sales person. He wasn’t interested in helping me at all. I kept scanning the airport for JD but all I could see were masses of Mexicans in blue shirts “helping” tourists left and right. My “helper” started to tell me about snorkeling cruises, parasailing and the like.
“I’m not interested. I’m getting my friend, going to the resort and we’re staying put the duration of our visit,” I told him.
“Because that’s what we like. Butts in the sand. Drinks. That’s it. Now I have to find my friend,” I said and I began to walk away.
“Wait!” said another blue shirt guy. “I found your friend.”
I figured he was lying and kept walking but he kept after me and described her to me as I walked.
“That’s her!” I said.
“I’ll take you to her!” I followed my new blue helper back down towards customs and then, I saw her! Yea!!!
After greeting JD and exchanging hugs, we set off together to grab our shuttle but the Blue Guys were coming at us again.
“Listen,” JD said in her I’m-Gonna-Give-It-To-You-Nicely-But-I’m-In-Command-Here tone, “We are going to our resort and then we are going to do NOTHING but lay on the beach. We’re not interested in anything else. Period.”
They continued to try and convince us otherwise as JD grabbed my arm and we walked out of the airport.
Now I get why that man told his family to talk to no one. Head down. Get out.
Once we were checked in and settled at the Omni Cancun Resort, we hopped into our swim suits and headed out to the beach. There were a couple of really nice swimming pools, one had a volley ball game in progress. There were food huts and restaurants and of course the ocean was RIGHT there! Beautiful turquoise water and soft white sand!
Between the beach and the pools was a Jacuzzi bar. The bar was sheltered by a thatch roof. Behind it was a swim up bar and several “hot” tubs. They weren’t so much hot as they were bubbly. On the other side of the bar was beach. Instead of barstools, swings hung from the rafters.
“This is it,” JD said. “This is going to be our place.”
We each grabbed a swing and with in seconds of our tooshes meeting the seat, a bartender was taking our order.
His name was Orlando. Chiseled cocoa skin and eyes like onyx… K. I’m lying. He was an average looking man with a friendly smile and mischievous eyes. I have no idea if he was chiseled because he always wore a professional looking blue shirt. Apparently, a blue shirt in Cancun means business.
JD introduced herself and I to Orlando. He would be our friend. He would make sure that his friends were having fun. And by having fun I mean that Orlando had a new cold beer for me just as I was getting to the dregs of my drink. Periodically, I had to request water but no matter what we asked for Orlando was on it and served us with a smile. Orlando had a co-worker named Arelio. We called him AO. He was also good to us. These guys, I suppose, were our Cabana Boys.
After a couple of drinks, JD and I went to join the rest of our friends for dinner. (I suppose I should’ve mentioned we were in Cancun for a wedding. Dinner would be with the bride, Shalah, and groom-to-be and their family.)
The next morning JD and I quietly and slowly began to rouse.
“Mimosas?” JD asked.
“Yes. And coffee,” I mumbled. “What’s to eat?”
JD picked up the leather folder on our nightstand that had menus for room service as well as a pillow menu. That’s right people, you can order a variety of pillows including neck rolls and body pillows! We, however, went with French toast.
“It’ll be here in about 30 minutes,” JD mumbled as she rolled over and pulled the sheets back over her head. I did the same and we had small, muffled conversation until there was a knock at the door and our breakfast walked in.
We moved our plates and flutes and coffee cups out onto the balcony to dine with a view. This was, hands down, the BEST French toast I’ve ever had. It’s like cinnamon toast French toast. It was melt-in-your-mouth French toast. Go to the Omni Cancun JUST to order some French toast.
After polishing off the rest of our breakfast, we called for one more order of French toast and then got back into our swim suits. Beach life is weird. You can go days with out wearing underwear because all day you are in a swim suit. Anywhoo, bellies full and swim wear donned, we headed out to the Jacuzzi bar.
On the way down I saw my beautiful friend, Shalah, and others from the wedding party.
“What are your plans for the day?” she asked us.
“We’re headed to the Jacuzzi bar. Orlando will take care of us all day.”
“That’s it? You’re not going to snorkel or parasail or anything?”
“Nope. We may move out into the ocean for a bit.”
Shalah and company appeared mildly disappointed.
Unfazed, JD and I stuck to our plans and headed to Orlando’s. It wasn’t called Orlando’s though…I can’t recall what it was actually called. Tiki bar? Who knows. To us, it was Orlando’s. They weren’t quite open yet but we were fine to just slip into the water and make ourselves at home.
It was not long until both, Orlando and Arelio arrived to open shop.
“Buenas dias JD and Michal!” he greeted us, mispronouncing my name. I never corrected him. Just keep the drinks coming, O. Soon to follow were some of our friends whom had originally sort of poo-pooed our plans. We all set up camp there in the Jacuzzi. We’d move out to the swing side when we got prune-y from being in the water too long. After awhile on the swings, we’d need to cool off and would move back to the water side for a dip. Some of our group would leave to do other things but then new people from the wedding party would arrive. There was a pretty nice rotation of folks at the “lame” Jacuzzi bar. Right as JD and I would be ready to move on to something else, another round of people from our group would arrive.
We eventually got hungry.
“Orlando, can we have food delivered here or do we have to go to a restaurant or food hut?” I asked him.
“You can have food here. You can’t eat in the Jacuzzi though.”
“No. That would be gross. What can we get?”
“It’s just snacks. Nachos, fries…”
“Fries! That sounds great! Can we each get a basket of fries?”
And so began a steady rotation of fries and beer.
There was a meet and greet that afternoon with both the bride and grooms friends and families coming together. It was at the main pool. We would have to leave camp at Orlando’s. I was ready for a new scene by this point.
We mixed and mingled with the Groom’s family. Shay would introduce me and they’d say, “OH! You’re the Michal we hear so much about.” Inwardly, I’d cringe trying to imagine what they knew of me. “It’s been all good!” They’d assured me….eep!
The pool was beautiful but…there was no shade. JD and I had been careful to continually reapply sunscreen but at some point shelter must be sought out.
“Orlando’s,” JD whispered.
“I’m afraid so… Do you think Shay would mind?”
I decided to let her know my plan and feel her out.
“Would you mind terribly if I left the meet and greet to get some shade at the Jacuzzi bar?”
“Not at all! Do you think we’d all fit?”
And that’s how the party was brought to Orlando’s. I ordered baskets of fries for nearly everyone and Orlando and Arelio kept us all “hydrated.”
The next a.m. began the same as the first. JD fumbled around for the phone. This time, no menu was consulted. We were women who knew our minds and our guts and they both were telling us that they needed French toast STAT.
As my pointer skated through the syrup on my plate, JD and I began to hatch out the day’s plan. It was the BIG day, the wedding day, so at least half of the day was mapped out.
“Let’s go parasailing,” JD suggested.
“It would be great!”
“I’m afraid of heights.”
“So am I. Come on, Michal,” tears welled up in her eyes. “After this past year, I could use this. You could too.”
I had the feeling I might was being played but I also couldn’t disagree with her, sometimes you have to take on a big fear to prove to yourself that you still got what it takes to conquer the rest.
“Fine. But I have to be on the ground by 2.”
Once again, we stripped from jammies and got back into a swim suit and headed to the beach. We decided today really need to have some beach time since we were leaving the next day. At the top of the beach were rows and rows of beach chairs but they were under cabanas. While we wondered if we could pull them out into the sun and closer to the water, a blue shirted gentleman approached.
“Buenas dias! Can I help you ladies?”
Eulesis, was his name and I recognized him as one of the guys who delivered the many, many baskets of fries we had ordered the previous day. We queried about the chairs.
“Absolutely! They are for you! You can use them long as you like anywhere on the beach.”
“Thank you so much! Gracias,” we said as we each grabbed a chair and began to move them to where we’d like.
“No, no, no, no,” Eulesis protested. “Let me, let me.” And with that he lifted both our chairs and gestured for us to take the lead. We found a nice spot in the sun. Eulesis set up our chairs as he took our drink orders.
“I’ll take care you today,” he promised.
While we laid out our towels and set up camp, JD and I began to hatch our plan to parasail. When you Eulesis brought us our drinks, he also was a great source of information for us as to how to go about making arrangements and with who. A plan was hatched. After a little play in the water and a couple of drinks, we headed to the parasail umbrella and made arrangements.
The way it works is that you are jetskiied out to the boat and when your ride is finished, you jet ski back.
“Cool! It’s like two experiences in one!” JD cheered.
After being fitted with life vests we were quickly directed to the jet ski.
“Orale!” I greeted the driver.
“Orale, senoritas!” he shouted back. He instructed us to board the ski. I was on first with JD behind me. The driver slipped into his place in front of me.
“Today is your lucky day, senorita!” he shouted back to me. “Today you get to squeeze a Mexican Man!” I didn’t bother to tell him that I’ve, in fact, squeezed many a Mexican Man in my life, though somehow, I doubt he was referring to the familial hugs of father and daughter. He grabbed JD’s hands and pulled them to his waist, consequently pressing me to his back.
“We’re going to make a sandwich out of you!” he shouted as the jet ski took off and out into the ocean. We headed to the boat but as we approached, the driver turned the jet ski around and did a few circles while shouting “SANDWIIIIIICH!” as we jumped waves. Finally, we were deposited on the boat. Feeling mildly molested, my fears turned to the task at hand.
Parasailing was not nearly as terrifying as I thought it would be. The take off and the landing are the most iffy parts but once you are up there it is really quite peaceful and relaxing. They took us down the coastline and JD and I thanked one another for agreeing to the experience.
“Good call, JD,” I had to admit. The boat turned and we noticed Orlando’s below.
“ORLANDOOOOO!” we shouted.
Soon I could hear my name shouted in return. It wasn’t Orlando though but Shalah’s brother, Chris, who was shouting and waving at us. Yeah…he’s really cool. JD and I tried to wave back.
After returning to the boat it wasn’t long before my favorite jet ski driver arrived. We loaded up and he reminded me again of how fortunate I was to get to be sandwiched by him and JD.
After that experience, an actual sandwich was indeed required. Back at our beach chairs, Euelisis brought us drinks, fries and the best BLT I’ve ever had in my life. Toast, bacon, lettuce, tomato, toast again, BLT and toast again. Make it happen people.
Not to gloss over the most important part of why we were in Cancun, but I feel that is not for public fodder. At least it’s not for me to tell but I can say that the wedding preparations, the ceremony and the reception were really, really wonderful. I’m so blessed to have been able to be apart of it and I’m so thrilled to see my dear, dear friend Shalah so stinkin’ happy.
Our final morning in Cancun. JD and I again began to stir. Three orders of French toast were delivered to our room. Delicioso!
I’ve been home fore a week now and I still keep trying to reach for the phone and call for French Toast. Several times during the day, I have sighed while I made my sons and I lunch.
Where are you, Orlando? Where are my baskets of fries? Oh yes…there you are, I say to myself at a glance down at my belly.
This morning I am preparing to meet with my trainer at Red Rocks. Ugh. I know it will be a beating. Of everything I’ve experienced on this past months adventures, Orlando and co./room service is what I miss the most.
Te quierro mucho, Orlando. Te quierro mucho.