Saturday, December 19, 2009


seven years ago, i booked a two-week trip in kauai for mom, dad, mo and me. we didn't know then that it would become a triennial tradition, of which cozumel is the latest iteration. it tends to go the same way every time: i get antsy about booking something and spend the month of may scouring the internet for independent places that offer something the average tourist never gets to see. i corral my travelling companions, lay out options a to j and ask for their opinions. "they all look lovely, heather," my mother will say. mo knows better, but sometimes picks the wrong one or two. my dad will typically ask something like, "are we going to mexico?" result: heather gets in a huff and books exactly what she wants. everybody is happy.

for the kauai trip, i thought it would be swell to spend one week on the touristy coast and one week in the rain forest. "they all look lovely, heather," said mom. "i like this place," said mo. i gave her the stink eye and she stopped opining. dad said, "kauai: is that the big island?"

the rain forest cottage might have been just as advertised, but it was not at all what we had expected. for one thing, it really rains in the rain forest. every day. nothing ever dries. ever. as for "charming": mo and i slept in a loft six feet above the kitchen and two feet below the thatched ceiling, while mom and dad slept on the sofa bed which extended into the same kitchen. there was a hammock; the moment mom sat on it, it collapsed. there were geckos; they seemed particularly fond of our little loft. (candor compels me to admit that, to comfort mo, i told her geckos had tiny little pads on their feet - true - that meant they would never walk on bedding - not so true.) we took advantage of jim's homemade trails. imagine slippery red mud through ravines overgrown with kudzu and other relentless greenery. add the rain trickling down your neck. add bright white ked's (mom's). miserable, right? now add the twist: wild boars chasing us back to home base.

the week on the coast was a little better, though i learned that "isolated" is not always synonymous with "desirable." mo and i walked in and laid immediate claim to the only double bed in the property, leaving my parents the twin beds across the hall. everything in the coastal house advertised the "jerry jones discount," which was the same everywhere: a measly five percent if it was recognized at all. the beach was across the street, as advertised; what was not so clear from the internet is that this was the beach where the american navy boys drink.

oahu/maui three years ago was better.

but cozumel this year is definitely the best.

we started at las anclas, a chic boutique hotel run by the kindly pedro and his gay son ayal. if you have time, click through that link and look at the photos. perfectly located, it's close to everything you'd want nearby (markets, restaurants, beach promenade, ferries to the mainland, taxis) and far enough away from undesirables like the cruise ship terminals and the air-conditioned mall. you can't help feeling cosmopolitan and superior at las anclas.

this morning we relocated to casa tropicale, which is further from the downtown core, closer to the airport, would require us to do our own cooking, and might not match the description on the internet, which among other things refers to the property as a "villa." i was relieved by las anclas (we return there next week) and a bit apprehensive about casa tropicale.

i needn't have worried.

i am writing this post from the kitchen;s breakfast bar, which is four feet by eight feet of bright white tile. this gives onto a dining room table set for eight but that could easily accommodate ten or twelve. beyond that is the living room, which gives onto the courtyard with fountain and pool. out the side door - sorry, one of the side doors - is a carport, a screened sitting room, a sand sink, an outdoor shower and a gear room. over near the maid's entrance is a laundry room and a powder room done, like all the bathrooms are, in mexican tile. there are two principal bedrooms here, each of them the size of a typical hong kong apartment. each bedroom has its own terrace. there is a kids' bedroom we are not using, but if you want to use it, please know that it comes with its own giant bathroom and its own giant lanai. there is another common lanai on the second floor, making a total of three on that level alone. the entire third floor is a rooftop terrace with areas for lounging, areas for eating, areas for sunning, areas for reading, areas for drinking, areas for getting away from each other should more than one of you be on a given level at any given time. did i mention the (non-collapsing) hammocks? the six-burner stove? purified water on every level? the fridge stocked with beer and soft drinks?

i am hereby redeemed.

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