-5

Crown City seemed both familiar and foreign to me. The streets were wide and smooth. The stone buildings, two stories tall with windows with glass panes – a luxury out in the country – and pale clay roof tiles, had an overall pink hue from the purple/pink lightning dome above. Most of the people we passed on our procession toward the castle were dressed in expensive fabrics in various shades of orange, yellow, and green as if to complement the sky. Most had on reflective, possibly tin, liripipe hats, with the pipes tucked in various places about their person. I gestured my elbow at Vytar and he rolled his eyes.
At one intersection, a man walked out of a bar and the persons passing nearby, mostly younger women, gathered around him – sighing and fawning on him as if he were the Storm god incarnate.
“What’s that about?” I whispered to Vytar.
“Mech-magic weilder. The nobility treat them as one of its own and the common people find them,” he paused, searching for a word. “Attractive.”
The guard next to him snorted.
“They find them ‘wonderful,’ as my wife says,” the guard muttered. His superior glared at him and the conversation stopped.

We reached the Sentinel’s Garrison, which was a part of the protective wall around Crown Castle – so called because it had six pointed towers at various intervals that matched the six spires of the castle itself. The King’s crown, I realized, also had six points – reflecting elements of the architecture. Why did I know that?
The lead sentinel, Ernol – the other sentinel who had been with Vytar when I was captured – had an argument with a different sentinel about what do to with us. Ernol mentioned the words “traitor” and “beheading” while giving a pointed look at Vytar, who pretended not to hear.
“They want to behead you?” I couldn’t help asking. “For what?”
He shushed me.
The other sentinel won the argument and we were moved further into the castle courtyard and parked at the steps leading up to the Grand Council’s chambers.
We waited.
And we waited longer.
Finally, a tallish man – not as tall as Vytar or Torgood, but taller than I by a few centimeters – walked down the steps. He wore a rich brocade doublet not quite the color of royal blue, and carried a staff made out of some flat black material that had a purple/pink glowing globe at the top. He tossed back his longish blond hair and gave the sentinels a stern look.
“Ernol, what’s the problem?”
Sentinel Ernol pointed at Vytar as if that explained everything.
“Ah Captain Vytar.” The way he said “Captain” gave me the impression that Vytar was not well liked.
“Grand Councilor Fadreel,” Vytar bowed and rattled his chains.
Grand Councilor Fadreel smirked. “I hear you’ve been consorting with the enemy.”
Vytar did not respond. The Grand Councilor looked at his audience as if to gauge their reactions. He noticed me and his eyes grew wide.
“Unlock them, Ernol. Immediately.”
Ernol looked stunned but complied. I rubbed my sore wrist and did not look at the Grand Councilor.
“The woman is with you?” Grand Councilor Fadreel asked Vytar, who glanced at me. I nodded.
“Yes, Grand Councilor.”
The Grand Councilor directed the guard holding the woman to take her to the physicker. Another guard started to walk off with Rand.
“Don’t touch my horse.” The words were out of my mouth before I considered what it would cost me.
Grand Councilor Fadreel gestured for the man to let go of the horse, so I retrieved my things. I felt the Grand Councilor’s eyes on me. I looked up to see him cock his head to the side.
“Angestirian. Elements take me, I never thought I’d see you again,” He held his arms wide with a smile that showed lots of teeth. I couldn’t move. I didn’t want to. When I didn’t move to embrace him, he turned to Vytar.
“Vytar, where ever did you find him?”
Vytar rubbed his wrists and didn’t answer.
The Grand Councilor stepped closer to me and I resisted the urge to step back.
“You don’t remember me? You used to call me ‘Uncle’.”
At the word, ‘Uncle,’ I got a stabbing pain behind my right eye. I felt as if the floor had opened up underneath me. I sank to my knees, dizzy.

Visions passed before my eyes. Memories and feelings. I felt as if I’d awakened after a long illness, weak and confused. I looked at “Uncle” Fadreel and I remembered walking in to my parent’s chambers one evening after I’d had a argument with one of my instructors. I’d wanted to discuss it with my mother, Lyntrillienne. Instead I found my father, the King of Adnor – and don’t you forget it boy – and his boon companion, Advisor Fadreel, raping a young – maybe 10 years old – not much younger than I at that point – scullery maid. At the time, I didn’t know it was rape. They had invited me to join in – for my education. I declined, claiming a prior engagement with my weapons trainer. That satisfied them. I asked my mother about it, because I asked my mother everything. We went on a trip after that, just the two of us, to Coalfen Swamp to visit relatives.

“You,” the Grand Councilor snapped, “get the Prince some water.”
The watching guards murmured in surprise as whomever he’d addressed that to ran off..
The runner returned with a cup of water. The hand that gave me the cup shook.
“Grand Councilor,” Vytar said in a low voice, “perhaps we should take this inside. It has been a challenging day for all involved.”
“Oh, of course, Captain. Please proceed.”
I felt Vytar lift me up and we followed the Grand Councilor up the steps and into the Grand Council’s chambers.

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-4

I didn’t look in the room we passed, but lead my horse and it’s injured rider on as fast as I could up the hallway. If I didn’t see them, they wouldn’t see me, right?
“There!” a voice called out.
So much for that idea.
I pulled Rand, who didn’t like the small hallway, on and through the only door at the end. It opened into another dark room that lit up when I walked it. I wish it hadn’t.
Piles of decomposing bodies littered the room. I choked on the smell and Rand refused to enter the room. The woman gave a soft gasp.
“Stop!” someone shouted from behind us, so I pulled Rand in the room and shut the door.
The light went out, leaving only the red-orange glow of a burning furnace in the corner.
A rumble from above made me look up. A large chute hung from the ceiling from lines attached to a track – allowing the chute to be moved. The rumble grew louder and a body fell from the chute on to the pile next to us. Rand and I both jumped sideways and the woman cried out and almost fell off.
A pounding on the door behind us made me pull my companions further into the room toward the furnace. I could probably, if I really had to, hide in the bodies – and the woman, almost dead, could also. Rand wouldn’t have anything to do with that plan. And our pursuers knew we’d entered.
“Hey, what are you doing in here?” A gruff voice asked. It belonged to a man dressed in an orange cover-all made of a reflective material that crinkled when he moved.
“You’re not dead. What are you doing here?” He asked again, moving toward me. He had a shovel and tongs in his hand and evidently had been feeding the furnace body parts.
“Lost. We’re lost. Which way is out?”
He laughed.
The door opened and our pursuers entered.
The man continued to laugh as our pursuers surrounded us.
“This one says he’s lost,” he told the leader.
The leader, a thick man with bushy eyebrows, snorted and poked at me with his sword.
“Come on, you,” He said to me. “Get the female,” he said to one of his followers, who pulled the woman off of Rand’s back and tossed her over his shoulder. Another guard took Rand’s reins from me and put me in shackles. The leader prodded us from the room.

The exit turned out to be in the complete opposite direction of our flight. We entered one of those rising platform things, similar to the one at the mine in Trommel. Rand didn’t seem to mind it, but it made me kind of nauseous. The doors opened out into a large well-lit hallway. Other guards stood by, watching with curiosity as we were led past.
We walked along for many minutes, past open doorways that held workshops similar to the one I’d disrupted in the mine. I did not see any animals in cages though. I decided I really didn’t want to know what happened in them after spotting a white clad man and a Dvergr standing over a table that had an arm. Just an arm. It twitched.

We exited the building on to a cobblestone street and were met a moment later by a group of sentinels.
They pushed me into the middle of the group, where I found another prisoner, Vytar.
He shook his head at me, saying “I told you to run.”
“I did.”
He snorted.
“No talking,” the lead sentinel said, backhanding Vytar. He bore it with his normal stoicism.
They lead us up the road toward a familiar castle. I looked up to verify my surroundings. I made it to Crown City.

-3

The hallway, wide and tall enough for Rand to pass through, continued on with smaller man-sized doors every few feet. I opened one to my left and found a dusty office space, with a desk, some strange equipment sitting on it, a shelf that held books of that strange paper I’d first run across after clearing out Tiria’s home. I could read the writing, but it didn’t make any sense to me. Something about water levels and turbines, whatever those were, and the electra output – whatever electra was. Another book had complex symbols that seemed related to math equations, but no math that I’d ever studied – which made me realize that I had studied math and not just math to run a business with, but geometry and algebra. The books had no pictures.
Rand snorted and I joined him back in the hallway.
We continued on for several more minutes, until we came upon another doorway – large like the first – and another room full of kegs with copper plates connecting them. We wandered through the rows of these things and found a man-sized door at the other end that lead to a smaller hallway that ran east and west. I chose west. The floor had channel in the middle with a grate over it and it had a slight smell of death. We followed it to a barred metal door with a window in it. I peeked through the window but couldn’t make anything out in the darkness on the other size.
I looked at Rand, who stood dozing, one hip cocked. Poor guy. I’d have to find him some water soon – and myself as well. I poked through the saddle bags and came up with a half-full waterskin and my bag, which still contained the shards of the vase, the letter, and the map.
“Thank you, Vytar,” I said.
I sipped the water and then poured some in my hand for Rand. He sucked it up.
“Hang in there, good steed,” I told him. “We’ll get out of here yet.”
I unbarred the door and opened it.
The stench of sweat, urine, and decay made me step back and put my arm across my nose.
An overhead light came on when I opened the door completely. I pondered the lines, like yarn, that ran from a box on the door frame up the wall to the light. I stepped in, ignoring the smell, and closed the door. The light went off. I opened it again, the light came back on. Magic. A small magic – had to be.
A groan made me whip around and look into the illuminated room to see rows of cots filled with naked bodies – some decayed – some newly dead – and one somewhat a live.
I rushed over to see if I could help the poor soul.
A woman, Nord by the look of her blue-tinged skin, lay staring at the ceiling. She had yarn-like lines attached all over her body – on her head, on her fingers and toes, in her private region. She groaned again.
“How can I …Let me get this off of you.”
I pulled at a line on her finger, and she cried out in pain. The line attached by a sleeve, so I pulled the sleeve up to find sharp claw-like metal pincers embedded in her finger. I squeezed gently on the end of the pincers and the claws retracted and the line came free. She gave a soft sigh.
I pulled the others off of her fingers and toes.
“Forgive me,” I said, and reached into the area only her husband should have gone. I felt my way to the clamps and released them as gently as I could. She cried out and bucked, lifting her body off the cot – revealing several more clamps attached to her spine – and fell back, limp.
I felt her wrist for a pulse and found none.
With an expletive, I moved to her face and bent to feel if she breathed. She did not.
“Breathe,” I commanded.
Nothing happened.
“Breathe!” I pushed on her chest.
She took in a deep breath and I felt her heart start beating under my hand.
She coughed weakly, regaining consciousness.
As fast as I could, I removed the clamps from her head and back. Blood seeped from the wounds, bright red.
I ignored the blood and lifted her off the cot. She weighed no more than a child.
I took her out to Rand, who sniffed her when I put her down at his feet.
I put the waterskin to her mouth and squeezed a little in. She choked on it at first and then sucked greedily. I pulled it out of her hands, afraid she’d drink it all and be sick.
Vytar’s saddlebags had a blanket, so I wrapped her in that then sat back on my haunches and considered her.
Nord, definitely.
I checked the saddle bags again, looking for food. Not even a biscuit. I considered the shards of the vase. Maybe if I ground one up and mixed it with the remaining water…
I did that. The ground shard glowed briefly as I poured it into the mouth of the skin and shook it to mix it well. I took a brief small sip and felt a jolt of power run through me. I squirted a little into the woman’s mouth and she blinked. I poured the rest out into my hand and offered it to Rand, who refused to drink.
I dipped a finger in the mixture and ran it around his mouth. He licked the rest off my hand after that.
“Well – out of water, but more alive I hope,” I said.
Neither companion answered.
The woman appeared to be sleeping, so I left her there and went back into the room to search for other survivors.
There were none. The corpses, though, all appeared to be Nord or of Nord heritage.
On the wall to the west, where all of the lines met, there was a panel with several dials with pointers resting at 0. One had a pointer registered at .5. As I watched, it dropped to 0. A loud blaring sounded, making me jump. The overhead light dimmed and several red-colored lights appeared on the panel, causing the room to have a creepy glow.
I hurried out of the room. If that was an alarm, someone might come to investigate.
The woman didn’t seem lucid enough to walk, so I put her on Rand’s back. She tilted and almost fell, so I ripped several pieces of cloth off my tunic and did my best to tie her hands to the saddle horn. That’s when I realized my arm felt a lot better. I looked at it. The swelling had gone, and a lump – still tender, showed where the break was healing. I kept the splint on, just in case.
I turned Rand around and lead him to the east – passing the open door to the keg room – just as I heard sounds of footsteps.

-2

I guess the training I received from The Owl served some purpose because I managed to use the air rushing at us to slow our fall enough for Rand to land on his feet and I to land on his back. He shivered and stumbled forward over the rocks and sand that fell with us.
We were in a man-made cavern that had smooth stone walls. lighting from some source, and tall equipment that hummed. Pieces of the equipment closest to us – we were lucky to miss falling on it and impaling ourselves – moved up and down and reminded me of a pump.
An argument from above us, the sound floating down from the opening in the ceiling, made me believe that someone from the Dvergr group had messed up. I climbed off of Rand and lead him away from the opening. Maybe they’d think we were crushed and leave it at that.
I doubted that we had that kind of luck.
I lead us further into the room, among more of the tall pumping machines, looking for an exit or a good place to defend. Round disks with a moving indicator, like a sundial but moving, indicated something related to the pumping action of the machines. What powered them? A line, similar to the cables that I’d trained on – just last week? Goddess of Summer the time had passed – lead from one machine to another to another. A faint crackling of sparks drew my eye to the top of a pump. Small lightning played around the capped tip of the machine. The ancients had harnessed lightning – perhaps this was how? If the Dvergr had discovered how to harness lightning, I was surprised even Adnor still stood as an independent country – its non-magical people would have no chance against them.
Finally, along the west wall I found rows and rows of clay pots – the size of a small beer keg – that had stoppers on the top, connected with strips of copper. I could feel the hairs on my good arm rise. Rand didn’t like them either, so we hurried past them and through a large open doorway that lead to a north/south corridor. I didn’t hear voices any longer and could not feel any bodies near me, so I chose north because that was the direction of Crown City.

-1

I pulled my horse to a stop at the top of a rise and looked back. I felt a slight twinge of cowardice for fleeing from the battle, but rationalized that I had no enemies in that group – not really. Okay, troops from Crown City did have it out for the Nord, but I had Vytar on my side. I guess. The Owl’s people weren’t after me, per se. They wanted the twins – or one twin. The Dvergr seemed inherently evil and had their own agenda, but they had those odd maces that shattered my magic – and my arm. I looked down at my misshapen arm and added that to the list of reasons I couldn’t fight. That was probably the most legitimate.
Dust still hung in the air from the sandstorm, making it hard to see anything of interest behind me. I wondered if Vytar and Rhaenan were alive. I hoped so. The road ahead, if one could call it that, sloped gently upward toward the purple-pink lightning globe surrounding the city and its mountainside. Should I go back, find Vytar and maybe Rhaenan? Should I go on, and discover Crown City alone? Could I even pass through the globe? The troops had come from Crown City, so I assumed one could pass through it. But could I, Nord or part-Nord, pass through?
I spotted a small, square building in the distance. It stood alone and didn’t seem like a farmhouse. A gust of wind blew sand in my face and a disturbance in the ground below Rand the Second’s feet made me move on. Just in time, as a Dvergr popped up out of the ground and started to chase me on his short legs.
As I reached the structure, another Dvergr came around its side. I turned my horse and sought to ride a different way, but found it blocked by two more Dvergr. I didn’t want my horse hurt and I certainly didn’t want him captured. I called the wind and tried to create a sandstorm that would allow us to escape.
Nothing happened.
As the Dvergr advanced upon me, Rand let out an angry squeal and lashed out with both front and back hooves, knocking several back. He then spun. Unprepared for either move, I almost fell, saving myself only by squeezing my knees together – which made Rand hop straight up, all four feet leaving the ground. The jarring landing made me bite my tongue.
The Dvergr backed up, but made jabbing motions with their maces, causing Rand to get closer to the side of the building. They formed a semi-circle around us, throwing hard dirt clods. I blocked a few with my bad arm, unthinking. The pain made me desperate and I urged Rand to run through them.
We pushed through and almost made good our escape when the ground opened up under us and we fell.

0

I closed my eyes and tried to track the bodies around me. I felt Vytar’s sturdiness at my back. I felt various men and animals moving about, and then I felt The Owl, further away, near the rotten fruit that was Draenan and the firm crispness that was her sister. I could feel the oddness of the yamamulecine – it had a sort of metallic coolness to it – but I could not feel the other machine animals. Then air filled with battle cries as the sound of the sandstorm – and its wind – died down. I felt the sharp black glass of Dvergr. I called the wind to me and put a shield of stinging sand around myself, Vytar, and our mounts.
The ambushers were ambushed. Both sides outnumbered by the new foe. The Nord of the original attacking group moved to attack their traditional opponents, leaving the Adnorian fighters to regroup. I felt more than heard The Owl break open the carriage holding the twins, and the cry of the bird-horse as he retreated with Draenan – leaving Rhaenan grappling with the other sentinel and a group of Dvergr. If I’d had a moment, I might have been angered by his choice of persons to rescue. I didn’t care that he hadn’t rescued me.
A Dvergr erupted from the sand in front of us, swinging a glowing mace similar to the one that had broken my wrist. His swing shattered my protective shield and only Vytar’s quick thrust kept the mace from smashing my face. Before either of us could riposte, the yamamulecine pushed us out of the way and attacked the Dvergr with its sharp hooves.
Vytar took that opportunity to lift me up onto Rand the Second’s back. He smacked the horse on its behind with his sword, yelling at me to run. I struggled to hang on, one handed and half out of the saddle, while Rand galloped away.

1

The sandstorm was not my fault. The sun glared down upon the long line of soldiers, making all sweaty and irritable. The heat made me want to sleep, although I couldn’t, perched as I was upon the back of the freed yamamulecine. It rode along side Rand the Second without complaint, docile on its lead, but I felt that if I asked it to run the opposite way, it would have. I didn’t though. We were going to Crown City and that was where I wanted to go.
Maybe I was hallucinating due to the pain of my broken wrist and the heat, but I saw a form in the distance – across the once fertile valley that had turned to sand – that reminded me of my mother. A drop of sweat fell from my brow into my eye and I blinked and blew out my breath, wishing for a breeze to freshen me up.
A cry made me look around behind me, wondering if Rhaenan and her evil twin were okay in their barred carriage. I spotted the carriage further back, but didn’t see anything a miss. Maybe someone tripped.
I looked back and sand blasted me in the face and in just a moment, no more than two heartbeats later, I could no longer see Vytar, although he rode no more than two paces from me.
“Gestin,” Vytar yelled and coughed.
I felt the rein connecting us pull taught. His face appeared next to mine. “Did you do this?”
My mouth filled with grit and my eyes watered. I shook my head violently. He pulled me off the yamamulecine and pulled both animals and I into a huddle, throwing his tabard, hardly big enough, over our heads. Rand the Second whinnied and snorted.
Around us I could hear the troops complaining and their mounts – those not mechanical – panicking.
A roaring sound, like a fire but not a fire, came from my left and the yamamulecine shivered. A strong gust tore the tabard from Vytar’s hands, exposing us to the elements. I blinked my eyes several times and thought, for a moment, that I saw Zat – fire bright with green flickers, enlarged, and wafting toward me. Whatever it was, the sandstorm generated from it. The yamamulecine brayed at it, indifferent to its mouth filling with dirt.
A different sound, from behind us, and to my left, made Vytar grimace and put his body between mine and Rand the Second, so that my face mashed against Rand’s neck. I didn’t realize what it was until a decapitated head rolled by Rand’s feet. Someone had decided that a sandstorm would make a good time to ambush us.

Cancun Day 4 & 5

I forgot to mention that we saw a small stingray in the surf on Friday. That was unexpected and very cool. There didn’t seem to be a lot of wildlife around, which I found strange. We did see pelicans floating on the surf – right before it broke on shore (and since there were no waves, it was easy for them) and picking off fish.

Saturday morning we rose early and met my sister and her very hungover SO in the lobby. We waited outside for our special transport to take us on this expensive excursion to Chichen Itza and Cenote Maya. There were 18 of us in the small bus. It was climate controlled and the tour guide, Brazila (or Priscilla – she spoke quickly and I’m a gringo, so I’m not sure), frequently offered us water bottles. She was a lively guide, walking and talking fast. She gave the history of Chichen Itza and the Mayan culture on the trip there (about two hours drive inland from Moon Palace Resort). She’d call us “family” and frequently say “guys, guys, this is super important.” Every time she said that I expected her to give some safety information, but it just turned out to be historical information.

Chichen Itza was full of people and had a long confusing line to get in. It was hot and humid and icky, but very interesting. We spent too little time there. Brazila gave us 20 minutes of free time and so CWB and I went to find the Observatory – in the older part of the ruins, while my sister and her SO took a rest and shopped. We wanted to shop too – there were many tempting vendors lined up on the walk to the ruins – but we wanted to see the observatory more. We got lost and never did see it – and we were late getting back to the bus. Brazila was not amused. We were not the only ones who were late but I had a feeling she didn’t like me to begin with. Just a feeling. Ah well.

We then drove to a “Mayan” village – set up for tourists to see how the Mayan people used to, and currently, exist. It felt uncomfortable. The children would wave at the tour bus, because, according to Brazila, they knew we were bringing income to their families. The abject poverty seen in the village did not differ much from the abject poverty seen in the non-Mayan villages and towns we drove through on the way back to the hotel. Interesting though. Many skinny dogs, a few chickens, lots of red chilies drying on mats on the ground, and hammocks under palapas. At the cenote, they fed us excellent food – the lime lentil soup was my favorite – and then we were blessed in a ceremony to please the Mayan gods – which was interesting. The ceremony leader spoke mostly in Mayan, but switched to Spanish in the middle and then back to Mayan. Then we changed into our swim wear and had the option of either repelling into the cenote or going down the stairs. My sister doesn’t like to swim, so she and CWB chose the stairs. Her SO chose to skip the entire thing and found a hammock to sleep in. I repelled. First time ever. It was challenging in that I don’t have much arm strength – hand strength from typing yes, but upper arm strength, not so much. I ended up going last, but that was okay. Amazing. Totally worth it.
They wouldn’t allow pictures because they wanted to sell us pictures – but then their electricity went out and we didn’t get pictures. That’s okay. I don’t need to see myself grimacing as I stepped over the edge into empty space 120 feet or so above water. I would have liked to take my own pictures. Once at the bottom of the well, there was a platform with various levels to jump off of or zip line and fall into the water.
We didn’t have to climb up the stairs, thankfully, but rather went up a long tunnel to the surface. Changed into our normal clothes and then took the long drive back to the hotel.

That night we gathered with everyone from the wedding party and ate at a Brazilian steakhouse (in the lobby of the resort). Several people had to leave really early – per the government, you had to be at the airport 3 hours early to go through customs. Yuck. So our 5:30pm flight meant that we left for the airport at 2pm on Sunday. We didn’t do much before then – hung out with my siblings and ate a few times. It turns out that there’s not much to do at an all-inclusive resort other than eat and drink and lay by the pool. On the other hand, not much to do at normal hotel either. Our hotel was isolated though, and it was expensive to get a cab ride into Cancun proper – which we didn’t do. The resort offered jet skis and small sailboats and parasailing – none of which we wanted to do before we had to check out of our rooms. No wet bathing suits in my suitcase, thank you.
The airport had some shopping and I purchased a bag of limon peanuts – which I did not eat on the flight to Denver. So when I arrived, I had to declare that I had produce – which put me in a different line – and then, because we arrived at 8 or 9 pm, the only checkpoint open was the one at the front of the airport, so we had to hoof it there. And of course I couldn’t keep my peanuts because there was no outside food allowed. Should have eaten them in the air. We finally got to our final destination and hotel at one or so am Monday.

Next time – not Moon Palace and maybe not Cancun, although I’d like to see more of Chichen Itza. Maybe not southern Mexico. Cabo San Lucas? Or somewhere in the Caribbean. And I’ll know to bring more money and expect to pay a lot for things. Such is the state of travel in the world these days. Worth it? Yes. Do it again? Maybe not.

Cancun Day 2 and 3

Thursday
We started the day lazy and had breakfast in bed. “Orange juice” turned out to be Tang, or something very similar. We went to the excursion desk to sign up for the trip to Chitzen Itza on Saturday and got a professional shuffle – Oh, this person can help you. Oh, let me take you to this other person, etc. On lady said, “You want this tour (the tour with the private van that goes to the ruins and the cenote)? I will give you $200 credit toward that tour if you take a tour of our brand new hotel, The Grand.”
Let me backtrack a moment – the hotel offered a bus tour to Chitzen Itza, but it didn’t happen on Saturday. Only Wednesday and Friday (or some silly restriction like that). Well, Friday was out due to the wedding. But we could purchase a different tour.
Okay, let’s see the new hotel.
Two hours later and several shuffles of sales people we got, “How can you not afford $$ per month to get 20 weeks at this resort?” They didn’t believe us when we said we had no money. Six sales people I think. So, here’s this brand new fancy fancy resort begging people to buy in to a “this is not a time share” time share deal. It cheapened the entire experience and changed our view of the Moon Palace completely. No longer were things bright and shiny, with a touch of “wow” – now they were “This is what we give you and you’ll like it. Don’t ask for anything that is not on the menu.”
So for two hours of hard sell we got $200 credit toward a Saturday excursion – which only covered 75% of the cost.
We returned to the excursion desk and asked if we could use our $750 credit for massages. Nope. Only $100 of that would be usable by the spa or the shops in the hotel.
Okay – keep your massage. We went to the bar and had a margarita sour. If you didn’t ask for sour, it came out like sweet limeade with little or no kick.
Disgruntled, we spent the rest of the day hanging out by the ocean or pool and eating – because those things were included – sort of. It turns out, people did and do tip the staff despite the “16% gratuity built in” the brochure claimed. We didn’t bring that much extra money. We’re bad tourists I guess.
That night we used our $100 credit to buy some opal rings (which covered about 1/3rd of the cost). The rings were the only decently priced item we came across.

Day 3
We got up early to take pictures of the sunrise over the ocean – which was beautiful. We hung out with family and ate and told our “tour of the hotel” story and all agreed that the $750 credit was a scam.
The wedding happened on the beach just past the main pool. We gathered early and I took many pictures. The ceremony was short and simple. Both fathers signed as witnesses. Then more pictures afterward of everyone.
My sister’s SO became offended by something she said and got very drunk. He ended up storming off during the reception dinner. He is full of rage and it saddens me both for her sake and for his sake. Rage is just not fun.
The reception otherwise was nice. The happy couple had a red velvet cake and the crowd was regaled by the bride’s father (my sister’s ex) of her interest as a child in the ninja turtles – so everyone received a colored bandana in their gift bags representing that. Fun and unique. The food was good.
So – congrats to Sedona and Devon. Well done.

Cancun Day 1

My niece decided to have a destination wedding and then two receptions in the states to allow the new couple to meet all of the various family members and friends. The destination was Cancun, Mexico at an all inclusive resort called Moon Palace. Because she is my niece and because I’ve always wanted to go to Cancun, we went – despite the cost. Four nights and five days plus airfare and transportation to and from the airport. “All inclusive” means that all the meals and drinks are paid for. No need to tip, because the tip is included in the price. There would be $750 of resort credit to be used on such things as excursions (trips to tourist things), massage and spa treatments, and golf. We don’t golf, but we were interested in an excursion to Chichen Itza and a cenote and a massage for each of us. $750 should cover that, right?
Tuesday before we left, we finally closed on the home we were purchasing (now known as the GVDW) – so we got our keys about 30 minutes before we left for Tucson. Several hours later, after a crazy rainstorm on the freeway, we arrived at the Four Points Sheratan by the Tucson International Airport, checked in, had an okay margarita and food, and slept before our 6:30 am flight to Denver – Denver, I’ll have you note, is in the opposite direction from Mexico. And we were flying out of Tucson International Airport – International being the key word there – which has daily flights to Mexico, seeing as Mexico is just some 78 or so miles by car to the south. But we flew to Denver and changed planes and flew over Texas and then the Gulf of Mexico to the Yucatan peninsula to Cancun.
As we were deplaning in Cancun, I looked over at the aisle across from us and saw a cousin of my niece, Tracy S. Her mother, Chris S, and her other cousin, David S (different S) and his wife and their baby were also on the plan. We were separated in the enormous line for immigration – where I spotted my brother Y and Deb – in a wheelchair sporting a box labelled “chemotherapy chemicals” – being whisked past to the front of the line. We all met up at the Lomas Travel meeting point for our exclusive private shuttle to the fancy resort. The heat and humidity did not dampen our excitement.
My niece and her fiance were there to meet us at the hotel. We were lead off to a “private” sign in, which had a snack table and waiters who feed us alcohol. We waited ten or twenty minutes to get checked in. Then off to our very nice second floor corner room that had a balcony that opened out on the beach. White marble everywhere, a large jet tub in the room, king-sized bed, and a pillar – which I managed to only stub my toes on twice or three times. The bar had a small fridge stocked with water, juices, soda, and mixers. The mixers went with the four full-sized bottles of booze in the cabinet next to it. All a part of the all-inclusiveness of the place.
We immediately changed into our swim suits, met up with Y and Deb, and went into the ocean. CWB noted that it was like a warm lake – there were no waves (compared to the Pacific Ocean, which has amazing waves). There was a lot of seaweed and it smelled slightly off.
After our dip in the ocean, we went to the poolside cantina and met up with my other brother J and his wife S, and my niece’s father and his family. We snacked there and then went inside to a buffet and had a much larger meal. J had some amazing steak. We separated and went to bed. Day one down.