When Pigs Fly

cdcThere have been reports of a possible swine flu pandemic starting up in China and I couldn’t be more excited. The last time they warned everyone off due to the Swine Flu scare in Mexico in 2009, I had my best vacation ever. Let me explain.

Back in 2009 the CDC and WHO (and I don’t mean Roger Daltry and Pete Townsend,) cried wolf and warned about travel to Mexico. We fretted about going, especially when the British and Canadian governments banned travel there. I wasn’t worried about the flu, I was just concerned there wouldn’t be any Limeys or Canucks to party with. The British and Canadians are always out in force in Mexico and even though their English is atrocious and they tend to watch goofy sports like Cricket and Curling, they are a lot of fun at the swim-up bar.

Anyway, back to the details of our trip. We arrived at the airport, not really sure if the flight would happen. There hadn’t been a single case of swine-flu in the whole state of Quintana Roo we were headed for, yet only thirty four passengers made the trip on a MD-80 Aero México plane which normally holds around 150. What a treat. The service was awesome and get this, they left on time, arrived early, gave us a box lunch along with free cocktails and didn’t lose a single piece of luggage of which there was no charge for either. Why American airlines can’t do any of the above is beyond me.

We stayed at The Grand Sirenis Resort, a cross between a Mayan Retreat and Star Fleet Academy located near Akumal south of Playa del Carmen on the Yucatan Penninsula There was only about 120 people staying at a resort that holds something like 2000 guests, but we never felt slighted in the least. All the food was fantastic down there which I can prove as there was a whole lot more of me to love upon my return. We were offered unlimited use of the a-la-carte restaurants, a perk that is usually limited when the resorts are full. You are expected to clean up your act though, and wear long pants for the restaurants, both of which are a chore for me. We were joined for dinner most nights by our new friends, not just the few from abroad, but from such exotic locales as Missouri and Oklahoma; talk about funny accents.

turtle beachExcursions were discounted and cab rides were cheaper than normal. We traveled by cab to Yal Kul Lagoon one day and Akumal beach another. We snorkeled with a couple turtles which was almost as exciting as it sounds. There were also reports of white whales in the area, but I believe they were mistaking them for me and a couple Brits. The cab drivers were so bored we basically had a private driver all day, which was great until he tried to charge double on the second day. It’s hard to argue when you’re getting such personal service, though that’s never stopped me in the past.

The Wife finally fulfilled a lifelong dream of riding horses on the beach and in the ocean. I on the other hand am just happy to check it off the bucket list and never have to do it again. They took the saddles off and we rode bareback through the ocean; not as easy as Hollywood would have you believe. My buddies, Slim Jim and the Twins, were not too happy, if you get my drift. The horses also have a rather large backbone that tends to ride up into an area I prefer nothing go up. I swear my horse asked for my phone number after the ride.

Unfortunately, our week soon came to a close and it was time to return to the drama that is our life. The Mexican authorities, on top of things at the airport with this, “Threat to all of Humanity,” asked if we required protection. Not realizing they meant masks and gloves for the airplane, I asked where they were before my horseback ride. They had us fill out a form asking if we were experiencing any headaches, red eyes, aching joints or coughs. Sounds pretty much like every last day of vacation for me. We were then checked for our temperature with a tap on the forehead and sent on our merry way.

The flight home was just as spacious, as I once again had my own row; a fellow could get used to this. Customs and immigration was a breeze, making me realize I didn’t really need to slip that little package into my buddy’s luggage after all.

So I am back home now: fat, sun-burned, tired and cranky, pretty much like normal, except with a better tan. As usual for me, I am already researching our next trip. Instead of using Trip Advisor and other sites though, I now check with the CDC and WHO for the next media-induced panic, so I’ll know where to book my next trip. I’m thinking maybe, Bird Flu in Hawaii?
Michael Ryan

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