Thursday, October 19, 2017

Live Aqua Cancun

Live Aqua Cancun

After having to cancel our vacation twice this year, I don’t think either of us believed we were really going to Cancun until we were on the plane. We landed in clouds and drizzling rain. What happened to the beautiful weather I’d been seeing on the webcam all week?? I hoped it would clear up soon. I really needed a few days in the sunshine.

Our transfer driver met us outside the airport terminal and whisked us off to Live Aqua, an adults-only all-inclusive resort in Cancun’s Hotel Zone. The building was large and U-shaped, with a tropical garden and restaurants tucked inside the “U”. Past the garden there were several pools, including an infinity pool and a swim-up bar pool, more restaurants, and a bar with swing chairs. And beyond that was the amazing, endless beach. When we checked in, I was disappointed with our room because we’d booked an ocean front room with a king bed and somehow we ended up with two double beds. But the room did have a lot of nice amenities – robes and slippers, mini-fridge, handmade soaps, a beach bag for use while at the resort. There was even an aromatherapy oil warmer with a menu of oils to choose from. The best part of the room, of course, was the view of the ocean. That's what keeps us coming back to Cancun.

Live Aqua oceanfront room

beach bag

Once we unpacked, we went out to explore the grounds. We’d only had a small lunch at the airport in Orlando so we stopped for guacamole and tacos at the Sea Corner, a cute outdoor restaurant overlooking the beach. Then we went in search of the lifeguard to ask if the hotel was releasing any turtle hatchlings that night. Many of the hotels in Cancun and the Riviera Maya participate in Mexico’s sea turtle conservation program. When female sea turtles come ashore to lay their eggs, trained volunteers from the hotels move the eggs to a protected location on the beach. After the baby turtles hatch, the turtle guardians collect them and release them into the ocean at night when there are fewer predators and the hatchlings have the light of the moon to guide them. Since turtle nesting season runs from May to October, we were there at the perfect time! The lifeguard, Carlos, told us that he had some turtles that needed to be released that night and if we came down to the beach at 6:40, we could help. I was so excited!

Sea Corner
Sea Corner

Sea Corner bar

Sea Corner sign

It was raining off and on so we spent the rest of the afternoon in the room napping and watching football until it was time to meet back at the lifeguard stand. After a few minutes, Carlos appeared with a few other hotel guests carrying two plastic tubs of baby turtles. We walked up the beach to a spot where there was less seaweed in the water and then Carlos tipped the baskets out into the sand. Two hundred little hatchlings rushed out. They were fast!  Most of them headed straight to the water but we had to help a few who got turned around. Some fell into footprints but climbed out again. Finally, the last little flipper disappeared into the waves. It was amazing! Even Ron was in awe.

sea turtle hatchling



Azur at night

Siete at night

We weren’t sure where we were going to eat that night since several of the restaurants were outdoors and everything was wet from the rain. But it turned out that Varenna, the Italian restaurant, had been moved into Siete (“Seven”) where they normally served a buffet. Yay! Italian is my favorite. I ordered Caprese salad, seafood risotto and tiramisu for dessert. It was all delicious. There was a lady making flaming coffee outside the restaurant but we decided not to try it. It had been a long day of traveling and we were ready for bed. When we got back to the room, we found that the housekeeping staff had brought oil for the aromatherapy warmer and had also left us a miniature Zen garden. Each night after that, there was something different in the room – a stick of incense or some musical chimes. I thought that was a neat touch.

The next morning, it was still drizzling but it looked like the sun was trying to break through. We had breakfast at Siete, where I met Marco, the Smoothie Master. That guy had to be the friendliest person I’ve ever met. He seemed to know everyone. By the time we finished breakfast, the weather had improved enough to sit out by the pool. Ron and I found chairs next to the swim up bar pool and spent the morning reading and relaxing. We also took a long walk on the beach, heading north towards the Beach Palace and ME Cancun, where we had stayed on previous visits. There was a strong onshore wind and the waves were huge. The red flags were out and the parasailing and Jet Ski vendors had closed shop. No one was in the water that day.

Siete at breakfast
Siete at breakfast

smoothie

Cancun beach

beach path

red flag

beach chairs

footprints

view from our room
view from our room

In the afternoon, we watched a synchronized swimming show in the main pool. I couldn’t help thinking how much Daddy would have enjoyed the show. Actually, Daddy had been on my mind a lot since we got to Cancun. The night before I’d had a dream that he had walked into the room, looking fit and healthy. I kept touching him to see if he was real, then I woke up with tears on my cheeks. Daddy definitely would have loved a lot of things about Live Aqua - walking on the beach, the friendly people, even the little pots of honey for the hot tea. I think he came along on vacation with us.

synchronized swim team

synchronized swim team

synchronized swim team

Azur at lunch
lunch at Azur

fish tacos

We had dinner at MB, the hotel’s modern, fine dining restaurant (and the only one that required men to wear long pants). People raved about MB online, but Ron and I both decided it was overrated. The focus seemed to be on presentation, with lots of foam on everything. Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve never gotten the whole “foam on food” thing. :-)  But the habanero soup, which came in a bread bowl, was excellent - savory and spicy but not too spicy. I could easily have made a meal out of just the soup.

I woke up the next morning to light filtering in through the curtains and went out on the balcony to check the weather. It looked promising! I pulled on some clothes and snuck out of the room to watch the sunrise from the beach. Of course with the 150% humidity, my camera immediately fogged up when I got outside. After about 10 minutes, I was starting to think that I’d finally killed the camera when the lens cleared. Whew! It was so peaceful and quiet on the beach, with just the sound of the waves and the frigate birds circling over the water. Those are the moments that I don’t mind waking up early.

sunrise

sunrise

sunrise

pool deck early morning

After Ron was up and we had breakfast at Siete (papaya and banana smoothie this time), we headed down to the pool to soak up some sunshine. It was a beautiful day and I was worried we might have a problem finding a lounge chair, but it wasn’t an issue at all. There were plenty of empty chairs. We even snagged a sun bed between the infinity pool and the Azur Bar, where we stayed the rest of the day. While we were relaxing, Valerie the Public Relations Manager stopped by our chairs to introduce herself and see if there was anything we needed. We chatted for a bit and Valerie mentioned that the Azur restaurant was serving cinnamon ice cream at lunch. Cinnamon ice cream – yes, please! I was impressed that Valerie made it a point to check in with guests. Actually, all the staff at Live Aqua were great, going out of their way to make sure everyone was happy. The bartenders even waded out into the pool to hand out fruit ka-bobs and snacks. Now that’s service! We had lunch under the trees at Varenna but I made sure to save room for the cinnamon ice cream at Azur for dessert. :-)

pool bed

pool

pool

infinity pool

feeding the macaws
feeding the resident macaws

macaws

Varenna
Varenna

There was supposed to be another turtle release that night, but the high winds and waves over the past few days had brought a thick mat of seaweed close to shore. The baby turtles wouldn’t have been able to swim through all that seaweed so the release was postponed. I was bummed but just a little. It would have been greedy to ask for a once-in-a-lifetime experience twice. :-)  We had dinner at Hidden Garden, an Asian-style thatched roof room built into the gardens. I had dumplings and Pad Thai. Ron ordered the kimchi beef, which was more like pepper steak but still good. We skipped dessert in favor of a drink at the AKA Bar before heading back to the room. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of checking in on Facebook before I went to bed. Judi had shared a post from a local weather forecaster who said there was a tropical disturbance forming near Nicaragua that might impact the west coast of Florida in a few days. Great…

The next morning, I woke up at 4 o’clock and couldn’t get back to sleep. Finally, I gave up and decided to see what I could find out about the tropical disturbance. The weather websites showed a storm heading north to the Yucatan Peninsula before turning west, but they couldn’t say how strong it would be yet. All I knew was that the last several storms had turned into monsters and I didn’t want to be stuck in Cancun, not able to protect our house and kitty Katie. When Ron woke up, I told him we should consider going home a day early. Surprisingly, he agreed. It had only been three weeks since we’d had to evacuate for Hurricane Irma and it was still fresh in our minds. We got on the phone and changed our flight and transfers, then packed up the suitcases. We had breakfast at Siete where we left our handprints in the Zen garden and then took one last walk on the beach. Farewell for now, Cancun! We hope our next trip will be longer!

Cancun waves

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