Cancun, Xel-Ha, Chichen Itza and…where were the tortillas?

17 Sep

Cancun was beautiful. We really enjoyed time on the beach and in the pool at Hotel Gran Melia. Lookie lookie.

Jack got two shades browner and I got a little more sun than I should have. But he did a really good job of keeping me in the shade most of the time.

For years I had heard the rumors of people laying under these palm covered umbrellas and I finally got to do it. It was quite relaxing.

Then, there was the pool bar. Loved that. My first time ordering a drink from a pool.

Neat, neat.

Our first night for dinner, we enjoyed paella and grouper with mashed potatoes, prepared with bacon and spinach. The Crab House is a pretty elegant place. The staff didn’t seem to mind I was in my flip flops. They must get a lot of that. This dinner was our big splurge, with 3 margs (2 for me) it was about $100, but well worth it. Their outside patio is very pretty.

I was feeling very cosmpolitan in this picture.

This trip was taken off season, it is important to mention (that made it possible) and we booked it on I highly recommend using them. Our airport transfers were very smooth and the hotel we stayed at was beautiful.

Isn’t that something? The king and queen of Spain stayed here in 1991, so you know it’s got to be pretty swanky.


The three times we ate at the hotel were all excellent; our first experience was a buffet dinner that included roast turkey, different kinds of fruits/salads, meats grilled to your taste, churros, cafe a la olla and oddly enough, yogurt. The last day of our stay we took the hotel up on their offer to become a member of their “red card” club and they treated one of us to breakfast. Again, their breakfast buffet was quite a spread. Chicken tinga (I was glad to see this because I tried it a few years back and haven’t been able to get it since), refried black beans, fresh fruits, yogurts, muesli, different kinds of juices, breads and omelets to order. The other time we ate at the hotel was at the pool bar, their buffalo wings were very tasty and spicy, but quite small. No miracle grow for these chickens. The highlight for me at the pool bar was 3 (count em) strawberry daquiris. They somehow reminded me of the cherry Slurpees I used to get as a kid (that is when the Coke Slurpee dispenser wasn’t working). I don’t know what kind of blender they use at their bar, but the ice is perfectly crushed, which I really enjoy. I am funny and particular about textures.

Going back to…our airport transfers were provided by Best Day Travel (one of their contractors) who turned us on to the grand opening of the Hard Rock Hotel in Cancun. We were offered two excursions for $100.00 total (the value was around $450) and all we had to do was listen to a timeshare speech at Hard Rock. Well, you can bet that we jumped on that. And honestly, it wasn’t a hard sell. They showed us the rooms (beautiful, by the way) and then let us know the cost (just over $15,000 with a down payment of $2500 and then $231/month for 48 months). Needless to say, we wern’t buying, but we both appreciate architecture and enjoyed the experience of seeing the new hotel. I guess that’s not the proper word. Resort. And, they bought us breakfast. Such a deal. It was a buffet, with lots of fresh fruits, yogurt, breakfast meats, cereals and all of the fixins you would expect.

I am hoping to visit a Hard Rock in the future and see Cafe Tacvba in concert. Or Miguel Bose. Or Mana. Or Manu Chao. I wouldn’t discriminate.

I digress. For the two excursions provided by the nice people at Hard Rock, we chose to visit Chichen Itza and Xel-Ha. Chichen Itza is one of the 7 Wonders of the World. Well, no wonder. I mean, wow.

How the Mayans were able to do this, with limited technology, was quite amazing. The engineering was quite advanced.

Xel-Ha, the other day trip we enjoyed, is described as the world’s largest natural aquarium. We bought an underwater camera, snorkeled and took lots of fish pictures. Well, in this case, a dolphin.

Both of these trips (Xel-Ha and Chichen Itza) were inclusive, so the tour company provided meals and transportation. At Xel-Ha it is all you can eat, all day long. And drink, too (alcohol included). Surprisingly I didn’t overdo it that day. But they do make a pretty good margarita with chamoy. Jack really enjoyed the seafood at their buffet, and I was happy to find pozole. And bunuelos with honey and sugar/cinnamon.

Jack was able to try different types of tequila and mescal.

Did I mention we ate really well on this trip?

Another place we dined at (or picked up at, rather) was Pollo Feliz. This is our version of Pollo Loco, and it is better, in the kitchen wench’s opinion. For $11 you get a whole grilled/marinated chicken, 2 sides (beans and rice in our case), tortillas and salsa. I should mention that Pollo Feliz does something really cool with thier beans. They are whole pintos but they have hot dogs, green chile and ground beef in them. This is the only place on the whole trip where we were provided with corn tortillas, the best I have ever tried. 

We also picked up an 8 pack of Corona in the mini cans at a nearby supermarket, and we dined on our patio, which unrelated, had a jacuzzi.

I digress.

So, what is up with the lack of tortillas?

I know that we stayed at a nice place (the guide book in the room said they go for $150-200/night but since we went off season we didn’t pay that)…and I’m wondering, is there a class issue with tortillas? On all of the buffets we ate at, I saw no tortillas except for the one that were offering tacos (the Chichen Itza excursion buffet, which had delicious chicken barbacoa tacos, by the way).

I mean, are there no tortillas on the buffet because (I daresay this but I feel like I need to say it because I want someone to tell me if I am right or wrong) it is the bread of the people (the masses)? Or maybe it is just because it is hard to keep tortillas fresh and warm on a buffet? Either way, this has been bothering me since we got back. Does anyone know the answer to this?


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