Adam Bird

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Tuesday, 25 September 2007

La Época de Nuestras Vidas

Having been back from Mexico now for 10 days, posted Oliver's blog and three photo albums, I am still managing to find enthusiasm to write more words about our two week stay in Cozumel.

As I mentioned previously in Oliver's blog, we couldn't have wished for a better behaved baby, and as a result Steph and I were able to enjoy our holiday without stress or strain, really making the holiday what it was, along with the fantastic friends and family whom we travelled with!

We stayed at the Iberostar Cozumel, which is the best hotel I have ever stayed at on a package holiday. The vast hotel grounds and beautiful beach side setting gave it the 'paradise' ambiance that John and Nadine wanted for the perfect location for their perfect wedding.

However, one negative, certainly for us, but not for those who are not keen to explore was the hotels location geographically. Cozumel itself is a fairly small island, with one road that circumnavigates it, and would take you an hour by car to drive from beginning to end. As a result there is not a massive amount in terms of sites for tourists to see, and all are very worthwhile when you do.

For Stephanie and I, and for our mico-party (Pat, Colin, Carly, Joshua, Steve, Sue, Ken and Richard) we wanted to explore out and about and had a pre-trip itinerary of things that we wanted to do. Places such as Xcaret, Xel Ha, Chichen Itza are all located on the mainland and as a result required ferry trips over, which we anticipated beforehand. What was a surprise to us was that there are no coaches on the island and so we had to rely on taxi's for making our way around, particularly forward and back to the ferry port nearly every other day.

This wasn't at all tiresome and nobody complained about it as it was all hassle free, however it was something that by the end of the holiday had a cumulative effect on our spending budgets!

With that in mind, when asked about our hotel, it really is a amazing and I would recommend it again to anyone. However if you are a honeymooner or someone who is looking for a diving/water based holiday this hotel is extra suited to you. If you want to look around then book somewhere over on the mainland - purely to ease your travelling times.

Plenty of people in our group took advantage of the on site diving shop and came home with official PADI certificates and enjoyed amazing experiences under the sea with some of the world best coral reefs on the hotels doorstep, so there really was something for everyone.

With our excursions and days out, the two weeks in Mexico took me back to when I was a kid and rekindled some wonderful memories of holidays I had with my parents. Since I last went on holiday with them to Icmeler (Turkey), my holidays have invariably been for either a week or 10 days and consisted of staying in bed all day nursing hangovers before going back out for the night and getting hammered again!

When I was a kid I remember my holidays being lazy days around the pool, or the beach mixed in with days exploring and adventures climbing ancient monuments or hurtling down watershoots at breakneck speeds. Cozumel was exactly the same, although I was now in the role of mature grownup parent, but it was just as much fun! With Joshua and Bethany with us it was just as good watching the kids have a smile on their faces enjoying themselves then when it was me and Jessica all those years ago!

One thing that sticks in my mind, and a perfect example to emphasise the above point was Bethany jumping off the Cliff of Courage at Xel Ha. Richard and I wanted to visit the rope swing and the Cliff jumps so that we could notch up some man points and took Joshua and Bethany with us. The rope swing was suitable enough for kids Joshua and Bethany's age so we had some fun swinging into the water and swimming back to do it all over again. Joshua was a little frightened at first, but once we had sorted out the first swing and jump he was off again and again.

On our way to the Cliff Bethany said to me that she wanted to jump off it as well. I reminded her that she was very little and the Cliff was very big so she probably wouldn't want to do it, but I think some of Johns determination has rubbed off on her, as when we arrived at the top of the Cliff and looking down Bethany was standing next to me... white as a sheet.

I said to Bethany "It's high isn't it, why don't you go down there with Joshua and keep him company?", but she replied that she was "fine!". I tried to reassure her and remind her that she didn't have to and that nobody would mind if she didn't and that poor Joshua was getting lonely. Bethany, determined as she was did not budge! I started to worry and prepare for the fact that she was going to jump. Richard, whom had already leapt the 12m or so into the water below was waiting for the next person and treading water whilst watching for whoever would be next.

My last role of the dissuasion dice was to remind Bethany that she needed to jump as far out as possible to avoid any rocks, to keep her legs close to avoid losing her bikini and kick up as soon as she hits water. Despite this making Bethany slightly whiter she did not move an inch and in fact started to prepare herself to jump!

I threw her life jacket down to the still waiting Richard and moved out the way of Bethany. One quick look up at me, a hand pinching her nose and a quick prayer she was off!

As time slowed down and I watched her hurtling threw the air I managed to mutter a time lapsed "OH MY GOD", before she hit with a fairly impressive splash. Another three hours seemed to pass before she resurfaced and started swimming towards Richard.

Once she was safe and sound on land and making her way back towards me with a huge smile on her face in readiness for another leap. Each turn was not easy for me, wondering just what the hell John and Nadine were going to say when I told them that their daughter had been leaping from great heights in their absence!

All of the days out we had all had elements of enjoyment for the kids, just as it did for Jessica and me, something that I had missed in my previous few years holiday's that was rekindled and something that I hope will continue next time we are away with Oliver and the yet to be conceived Baby Bird mkII.

If it is the adventure and exploration of the days out that make a holiday it is the people you meet that add variety and something different. The Mexican people were warm, friendly and courteous, working hard day and night to ensure that our holiday was never short of entertainment. The staff at the Iberostar were to be found during the day arranging a full itinerary of activities from pool games, beach sports, recreational and sporting activities, dancing lessons and even Spanish classes!

The same people would then put on a two hour show in the evening that involved singing, dancing and audience participation games, which a few of our party were involved with. Even at the nightclub - open until 2am the Iberostar "Star Friend's" would be found letting their hair down and encouraging people to get up and dance along with them.

Pat (Stephanie's mum) had contrasting experiences of the nightly show, which in the main were very entertaining with the musical themes and entertaining dance shows. One night she was called up onto the stage and had to participate in the games that were arranged by the Star Friends and had to play a highly amusing game involving a couple of balloons and a series of quick fire sexual positions. Following that she had to play the female role in the final song of Dirty Dancing, including the iconic lift position at the end, which was made easier by three of the Star Friends lifting her onto her partners arms.

John tells me that he has the full performance on video, so I am hoping to get a copy for the website, or I may even post the YouTube link here, depending on it's whereabouts!

Her second experience was not quite so funny, with a fall during the Conga which meant a visit from the doctor, a couple of black eyes and the use of a wheelchair for the last two days of the holiday. Never one to let something like that effect her, Pat laughed along with the rest of us who said that Pat, when pushed along by Colin looked like the couple from Little Britain!

Despite all the stories that I could recount from Cozumel, we was there for a reason, and I have saved this for last as it is a suitable ending to this blog - and that is the wedding.

I wrote before we left that I was interested in how the wedding would go, whether or not being married on a beach would seem as if it was a 'real' wedding. I am happy to report that yes, it does, at no point at all did I not feel that I was anywhere other than a wedding ceremony!

Before the big day itself, which was on the first day of the second week, all the boys had been on a stag do to the main town in Cozumel and the girls had followed suit a couple of nights later. All the usual pre-wedding preparation had been made, mainly by John and Nadine, arrangements and meetings with the hotel staff so that they knew what was going to happen and when.

Nadine had beauty treatments, hairdo's and facials which resulted in a truly stunningly beautiful bride. All the things that one would do back home, but with the luxury of doing so in such wonderful weather and exotic location!

During the preceding few days John was hit by last minute nerves, which was a surprise to me, purely because he was getting married on a beach and for some bizarre reason I thought that only people who get married in church get nervous... strange rationale by me I know, not even sure where that idea came from to be honest!

The day itself came around quickly enough and it seemed rather strange at 4pm leaving the pool area from where we had spent most of the day to get ready for a wedding. Especially for Stephanie and Oliver whom had the same wedding outfits as they would have done if the wedding was back at home. I had a slightly adaptive outfit with linen trousers and sandals which I have been told was scruffy in the photographs since I have been back!

I went over to the beach and took a look before everybody got there for a photo opportunity. The arch from which John and Nadine would sign the wedding register was only a maximum of 2m away from the sea, which was calm and still adding another air of perfection to an already perfect setting.

The ceremony passed quickly, and was in Spanish with the aid of a translator, which for me wasn't much help, so my opinion of the ceremony is perhaps shaded, along with the fact that I had a restless Oliver sitting on my lap who was a distraction for the first and only time whilst we were away!

However, there is no mistaking the setting and the traditional values that were still evident, the bride, groom, bridesmaids, pageboys, best man and ushers all played their roles. Even the tears from the mothers were there and fighting it for all it was worth father!

As the photographs took place the sunset left the sky to transform into it's vast array of colours adding a dramatic backdrop to the occasion.

The sun disappeared very quickly, and so did the champagne that we all consumed leaving behind a romantic moonlight reflecting off of the sea. For sheer poetic ambiance and a dramatic stage in which to get married John and Nadine found the perfect place in which to become Husband and Wife.

Stephanie and I would obviously like to wish John and Nadine all the very best in their lives as husband and wife and would like to thank them for allowing us to be part of their very special occasion. We were all left with lots of cherished memories of our time in Cozumel, but the memories of their wedding day and the setting will be something that we will never forget.

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