Pampered Like Queens

Oh, wow. Now I remember why I chose massage as a profession. Karen and I just received 80 minutes of relaxation heaven and after I felt like I was floating on clouds.

We woke up this morning to a very chilly and extremely windy day. One look (and one toe out the front door) and we decided to spend the day inside. After breakfast we made a quick run to a department store to get a duffel bag so I could send a few things home with Karen and then we lazed around until 3:00 when we headed over to the spa. I can’t describe how beautiful and well-done the spa is here at Pueblo Bonito. You walk in and to the left is the gym filled with weight machines and treadmills. To the right is a wooden walkway bordered on each side with flowing water that leads into the spa reception area. We got there an hour before our treatments (we each chose an 80-minute body scrub and wrap) so we could relax in the hot tubs. The “hot tubs” were located in a big tiled room that consisted of a large hot water pool, a jacuzzi, a steam room (which, unfortunately didn’t work), a rainforest shower that ran from hot water to cold to back again, a mist shower, a shower that sprayed water on you from all directions, a cold water plunge, and a hydro-reflexology path, which was a short walkway of small pebbles and misters. The pools were lit with green lights and there were lounge chairs, towels, and a refreshing iced lemon tea for our enjoyment. After soaking for awhile, we were shown to a waiting room with big comfy couches, cucumber water, dried fruit, and a large screen tv playing a video of beautiful places around the world to a soundtrack of serene music. After about ten minutes our massage therapists met us and showed us to the treatment rooms. First we were scrubbed down with a salt scrub and wiped off with warm towels. Then we were lathered with a body mask cream and wrapped up in plastic for 20 minutes to let the cream work its magic while our therapists did a facial massage. After being unwrapped we were sprayed down, on the table, by a hot Vichy shower – a shower that pours warm water over you while lying on the massage table. The water drains through holes in the table and onto the floor. Then we were warmed up again by a heated blanket and the final step was a body lotion massage and head rub. It was bliss.

To finish off the day we ate dinner – I made a delicious concoction of eggplant, chickpeas, olives, and roasted red peppers – and played a game of scrabble to the melodious voice of Rafael Rodriguez Tovador. He was so good Karen ended up buying three CDs.

Mountain Biking in Mexico

While the majority of the guests at Pueblo Bonito Emerald Bay are content with sitting by the pool all day, reading their romance novels and sipping blended cocktails, Karen and I are not. I think yesterday was the first time we laid in the sun (partly because it’s rather chilly here) and that was only for a few hours. I’ve been waking up early and doing yoga and Karen has taken a few morning spinning classes at the beautiful, fully equipped gym. Yesterday we went for a nice walk along the long, deserted beach and watched several Mexican men dive for oysters. I’ve also been able to make a few delicious concoctions in the kitchen. I miss cooking when I’m in the ship! Last night we had gnocchi with homemade pesto, roasted red peppers, broccoli, and chickpeas. It was so yummy! And since we have a blender, I’ve been making fresh smoothies every morning. We went a little overboard on the mangoes at the grocery store, so I’ve only made mango-banana smoothies.

And of course, we’ve gone shopping. Karen likes to shop, and when I’m with her, I get in the mood as well (although I prefer, mostly, to look at things rather than buy them). I did get a blue Mexican long-sleeved poncho lined with fleece, which will be nice to have on the ship in Baja since it’s a lot colder here than I expected. I took Karen to a large open market that sells everything from fruit to chicken feet to handmade clothes to keychains. She (and I) had a blast. On the way back to the hotel (in our little red speedy car), we swerved into a parking lot and entered a jewelry store filled with beautiful handmade silver adornments from the Mexican state of Taxco. We spent an embarrassingly long time there. I ended up buying a pair of turquoise earrings and was tempted to buy a Mexican fire opal ring, which was more than I have ever spent on any piece of jewelry in my entire life. After spending the night thinking about it, I ended up going back the next day and buying it. As a gift to myself. Karen also bought some beautiful things as well.

But the best thing we have done so far in Mexico, was this morning. I had read online about a bike shop in Mazatlan that organizes mountain bike tours outside of town. We stopped by the shop yesterday and met Fernando Kelly Lopez – a short, stocky, 53 year old Mexican bike fanatic with blue eyes. The shop was surprisingly well stocked with bikes, tires, jerseys, sunglasses and pretty much anything else you would need for biking. After telling Fernando we wanted to go mountain biking, we planned on meeting him back there at eight the next morning.

After coffee and a mango-banana parfait, we headed back to his shop. There, Fernando equipped us with full-suspension mountain bikes, helmets, gloves, and a water bottle. By 8:30 we were on our way. Fernando said he built three different single-track trails on his extended family’s land, so that’s where we headed. After an hour of tight twists and turns through the scraggly brush, sandy descents, and short, steeps climbs, Fernando confessed that he hadn’t believed us when we said we were good bikers in the shop yesterday. He changed his mind, though, and avidly insisted that we could do mountain bike races down here in Mexico.

We were out for about three hours, riding single-track and double-track through the Mexican landscape. Only one broken chain and a flat tire – not too bad. It was so much fun and Fernando was a such great guide. By the time we returned to the shop, both Karen and I were tired, hungry, extremely dusty, but thoroughly content. We told Fernando that anytime he wanted to come to Vermont, he would have a place to stay and we’d show him around our network of trails.

Time to lay in the sun. I think we’ve earned it!

Iguanas in the Audiance

Looking out over the ocean, the waves crashing lazily on the sandy beach, I did my Ashtanga practice this morning to a chorus of doves and songbirds. I rolled out my mat before the sun came up and as the day brighten and warmed, I watched as several giant iguanas emerged from the bushes to bask in the warm sun. By the time I finished my sitting series I counted six of them staring at me, their orange and green scales almost glowing in the sunlight.

I’m at Pueblo Bonito Emerald Bay in Mazatlan, Mexico. Karen and I left the ship in Colon City, Panama early yesterday morning (5:30 to be exact) and drove an hour and a half to the airport. We had a flight from Panama City to Mexico City, then a short layover and another flight in a small plane to Mazatlan. As we were flying into Mazatlan, the sun was just beginning to set over the Pacific Ocean, turning the water and clouds bright gold. It was beautiful.

In a last minute decision, Karen and I decided to rent a car for the week so we could explore the area and not be confined to the resort (that Nonny and Granda graciously offered us) where we would be staying. Map in hand, we loaded our luggage into the trunk and sped away toward Emerald Bay. The map was straightforward, but I should have known that Mexico is not. I wouldn’t say we got lost, exactly (it’s hard to get lost when the ocean is right in front of you) but we definitely didn’t go the way we were shown on the map. We had our own little private tour of the outskirts of Mazatlan. But, eventually we made it to our destination and stepped into the lobby of Pueblo Bonito Emerald Bay. Let me say again, that I am not a resort person. But that said, I have been traveling throughout southeast Asia for two months and sleeping on my massage table for the past four weeks, so I have been looking forward to this for a long time. And it is by far the fanciest place I have ever stayed. There is a gigantic fish tank behind the reception and spouting fountains everywhere. The pools are beautiful and look right out over the ocean. Karen and I were shown to our room, which has its own kitchenette, balcony with lounge chairs, two comfortable queen beds, and a bathroom that is four times the size of my unit on the ship. I was in heaven. We dropped our bags (or rather the porter dropped our bags) and went in search of some dinner. There are thee places to eat in this massive complex and we chose the a la carte bistro. We shared a plate of nachos and chili rellanos, both of which were gigantic (and excellent), so it was good we decided to share. Exhausted, we walked back to our room, checked emails, then fell into bed.

We haven’t made many plans for the week, but I’m sure we’ll find some adventures as well as relaxation time on the beach. Today we need to do some errands, like shop for food so we can cook in our kitchen and I need to figure out how I’m getting to La Paz at the end of the week where I’ll be meeting the Sea Bird.