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Made it to Mexico


Like how most summer holidays start, ours begun on a cold, rainy and grey morning.

F and I travelled to Gatwick together and met D at check-in, with tickets printed and bags swiftly pushed through drop off we swanned through security to browse the fragrant tempting maze of duty free.

After a good old airport breakfast and a game of which floppy hat suits D in Accessorize, we boarded the double-decker plane to Cancun. Getting comfy in our seats and flicking through the Tina Fey-heavy choice of films (not that I’m complaining, Sisters caused me to laugh out really loud much to the embarrassment of my travelling companions). One too many gins later, my pre-holiday buzz had upgraded a level as I got off the 10 hour flight clutching a bag of expensive perfume (“Yeshhh’ I’ll buy it! Put it on the card!”) accompanied by a foggy head.

The air in Mexico is thick with humidity, which immediately smacks you in the face when those plane doors open. It’s so dense you almost have to wade through the wet heat that clings to the atmosphere. Thankfully our driver came prepared to help three sweaty English ladies acclimatise and handed out icy bottles of water as we loaded up the transfer minivan to our first hotel.

I like a car journey as a passenger, I plug my headphones in and watch the world outside go about it’s day to day business or look at the surrounding scenery imagining what it would like to live in lands that are so different from the safe Surrey suburbs that I’m used to.

I can also be a bit of an anti-social twat and putting headphones in is the universal sign of ‘Dont you dare fucking talk to me’.

45 minutes later and we reached the Hard Rock Hotel in the Riviera Maya. More is more seems to be the motto when building a hotel in Mexico, as the some of the resort complexes we drove passed were comparable to small towns. HRH Riviera Maya was no exception.

riviera maya hard rock hotel mexico

hard rock hotel riviera

Disembarking the bus and feeling the gorgeous heat of the day radiating up from the ground around us, we were ushered into one of the cavernous receptions of the resort. Checking in with more chilled drinks while waiting to be taken to our room, the girls and I languished in the soothing cloud of aircon, taking in the fabulously cheesy pop/ rock memorabilia that Hard Rock establishments incorporate into their décor.

Ferried to our digs in a golf buggy, the all-inclusive bracelets we were given acted as a key card for entry (a stroke of semi-genius whoever came up with that). The room itself was all dark wood, black granite tops, with two big beds in the centre and a massive Jacuzzi® dominating one of the corners. Squealing (yes squealing) with excitement we ripped open our cases and slipped into shorts and flip flops. Feeling the lightness of the holiday spirit take hold with the shedding of restrictive jeans and crumpled travelling clothes we shuffled off to dinner. Obviously our first night in Mexico was celebrated by gorging on huge portions of nachos, fajitas, washing it all down with jazzy cocktails and crisp cold beer. The heavy feed, hours of travelling and effects of daytime drinking started to weigh on us, signalling the time for bed.

I woke up with a start and glanced at the digital clock.

5.25 am


Peeking through the curtains, outside was still dark. I settled back into the bedsheets and willed myself to fight yesterday’s timezone and drift off again. With my body clock winning I heard a familiar ‘tip-tap-tap-tip’ rhythm of a finger prodding a touchscreen.

‘D? You awake?’

‘Yeah, what’s the time?’

Spontaneity then unexpectedly struck…

‘Early. Want to go watch the sun rise on the beach?’

Leaving F zonked out, D and I ran still in pjs, barefoot, in a jet-lagged disorientated haze towards the beach we had caught a glance of the night before. Settling on the sides of a stone gazebo that jutted out in to the rocky shore line, the first whispery tendrils of pinky purple light started to score the inky sky.

We kept giggling at each other, revelling in the fact we were here, in Mexico! It was warm! We’re in pjs with no one else around except the sea birds, watching the new day break over the waves.

I love watching sunrises. I see it as a little sprinkle of something special that happens even on the most mundane of days. To me, there seems to be more magic in it than a sunset (which I ‘aint knocking, as that is also pretty epic to watch). I think it’s something to do with the anticipation of the coming day and what could happen. It also makes me feel really, really small and puts much needed perspective on my tiny human life and irrelevant human problems, but I digress!…

The sun inched higher in the sky as we explored the small patch of sand that was set back from the curling wall of rocks protecting the hotel’s cove from choppy sea. Worrying that F would have woken up and freaked to find us gone we headed back to the room (needn’t have worried, she was still face down snoozing away on a stack of fluffy pillows). Gently waking her, we got ready for breakfast.

Filling up on fruit, crispy bacon, quesadillas and breakfast desert (a.k.a. pastries and cake, thanks for legitimising this practice F!) The strict diet that we all had intended to adhere to was swiftly kicked out the window.

Bellies full of every breakfast food imaginable, the rest of the early morning was spent exploring the hotel grounds, browsing the over-priced gift shops and stopping every so often to read the placards against the pieces of music history on display.

mexico girls holiday summer

Arty 📷 by D – spot what F forgot to pack…. 

One on the shops showed a feeds to all the Hard Rock Cafes around the world, kind of weird seeing a bunch of Aussie’s having a wild dance off in Sydney, while subdued Italians enjoyed dinner in Rome. Couldn’t help but think that someone somewhere in the world might be watching us post-breakfast on a television at a different Hard Rock establishment.

Then again it might not have been live, just in case though, be on your best behaviour. At this point it was only 8am but already touching 30 degrees, so after a serious sun-creaming sesh we set up camp by the pool.

mexico hard rock riviera

📷 by D + Em – These handsome chaps are free to roam the extensive gardens at HRH Riviera Maya. 

By the time lunch rolled around, we lazily pulled ourselves up from our sunbeds and ate our way through a mountain of olives and BBQ chicken (plus more quesadillas, whatever form it takes, you can never have enough carbs and melted cheese.)

Flopping back on our sunbeds embracing yet another food coma, dark and threatening clouds rolled in from the sea. The tropical rain showers lasted around 15 minutes, which was quite a pleasant rest-bite from the blazing sun.

Once the day drew to a close, we headed back to the room for showers and read a bit more on the balcony before dins (can’t tame us!).

hammock mexico holiday

📷 by F

I loved the balcony, it was my favourite spot the whole holiday. There was a fab hammock next to the railing which meant you got a good push off and decent rocking motion going, allowing for maximum relaxation feeling the balmy afternoon wash over you while listening to the quiet…

“OH MY GAAAAADD!!! Hahahahahahahahahaaaaaaa!”

Nearly forgot about the Americans.


Have a holiday in Mexico, particularly Cancun and be prepared to share the space with lots of Americans, Mexico is the equivalent to them as Devon & Cornwall is to us. That being said, every ‘murican we chatted to was wonderfully friendly and not all of them screeched like foghorns. 

By day three we fell into an established holiday routine; up early, double breakfast, slink onto sunbeds with enough books for several holidays – working out the best area away from the loud music that was pumped round the pool area (DJ Snake feat Lil Jon ‘Turn Down For What’ was played approximately 745 times a day and now causes an involuntary shudder every time I hear it. HRH Riviera Maya is a party hotel, ideal for ‘Spring Break! Spring Break!’), and being slightly out of visibility from the hotel’s entertainment team who would try and rope people in tequila based ‘games’.

girls holiday mexico

📷 by F

No thank you. Not a team player at home, certainly not a team player in Mexico.

Our days would be broken up with a liquid elevenses (“D, another G&T?”), discussions about what we were reading, swimming and gossiping. A collection of growing clouds would start signalling the end of the sunbathing day (usually with a quick downpour) and we’d head back to our room for more balcony reading on the hammock and open up D’s bar.

Ah D’s bar, where everybody knows your name…! (stolen from Cheers!)

D would take charge of pouring healthy sploshes of rum and lemonade into mugs while we waited in turns for the shower. I was bar wench and DJ, F would look on at us embarrassed at our enthusiasm for ABBA and Wham!. We let her be DJ once, it lasted for 0.3 seconds before she was promptly sacked from the role for having abysmal taste in music.

We’d then pick a place for dinner, suitably jazzed up and order more drinks, tease D into trying to eat something we knew she’d hate, then drift back to the room for more drinks and reading before bed. Debauched days of girls gone wild are behind us (aside from one night we decided to order room service – btw if you are are certain type of All Inc. at the Hard Rock Rivera Maya you can order a real life electric guitar and amp to your room for shits and giggs – wolfed down 3/4’s of the menu, got tipsy, danced on the balcony in bikini’s much to the surprised delight of the occupants of the room directly opposite us. About as crazy as we got).

📷 by D – TIP: Nachos + accompanying gallon of guacamole is best enjoyed served as a floor picnic.

Some adventure days out were squeezed in too as we went zip lining. Having a bad case height freights I thought I was going to puke over the people milling around below on the first ‘easy’ line of the zip line trail and D would have a nice memento in the form of a photograph that she would probably have made into keyrings, t-shirts and coffee mugs, but you do end up relaxing into throwing yourself off a ledge 45 metres high. The adventure park we were playing in was smack bang in the middle of the Mexican jungle. You can go kayaking, swim in underground rivers plus more zip lining than you can shake a stick at. Also learnt that there’s such a thing as natural sun cream and bug spray, neither of which were very effective for us FYI.

The highlight for me was driving the amphibious off-road buggies, again crapping myself as I stepped up to the drivers seat – more out of damaging my ego if I did something that garnered an eye roll and mutter of “Pfft, female driver” response, which just goes to show how ingrained that ridiculous stereotype is that it can touch someone in the middle of a jungle in Mexico.

Nevertheless, it was my first time being in charge of an automatic, with everything set up on the other side of the vehicle. All those years of playing GTA with my sister as a teenager had better pay off, plus having the girls trust in me as willing passengers gave a huge confidence boost.

It was so much fun.

We drove into caves, trundled down big bumpy tacks, skidded through windy hair pin turns, bounced over humps and zipped across shallow streams of water. Every squeal from the girls egged me on further, gauging how fast I could take a corner without capsizing the car.

Then some douchebag dude in a cap ruined it for everyone by showing off in a cave. He bashed the side of his tyre on a rock so hard that the front bar of his buggy bent and the front wheels kept turning in circles causing an underground traffic jam until the park rangers came to sort the mess out… Pfft, male driver.


📷 by D, Em + F

Nearing the end of our trip we moved onto our next hotel back towards Cancun airport. Another minibus picked us up just before lunch to take us to the Paradisus Cancun.

The Paradisus Cancun is set on top of a hill within the hotel zone of Cancun (Zona Hotelera). It’s not nestled in sprawling green grounds like the Hard Rock but it was no less impressive. Five looming pyramids make up the Paradisus Cancun as an homage to Mayan culture, each capped with a glass tip. The vibe was that of pure luxury from the moment our transfer pulled up to the entrance. A swarm of porters took care of our bags and as we wondered wide-eyed with awe through the entrance. The vast lobby (it was so big I’m not even sure lobby is the right word? Vestibule? Foyer? Picture a space of cathedral-sized proportions and then double it)drew your eye up to the reverse side of the high glass ceiling that topped the building. Frothy green creeper plants cascaded down from the walkways that looped along the walls of the hotel, with a sunken Polynesian-style bar / restaurant at the heart of the room.


📷 by D + F 

The smell of the hotel was heavenly too, every day and in each different area there was a new delicious smell to welcome you. A member of staff said that are big on incorporating the five senses for guests experience. Sadly no candles or room scent spray ‘eau de Paradisus’ are available for purchase in the gift shop, will have to continue to stick it out with Febreeze. Think they are missing a trick there!

Our butler (!!!!) Rossana showed us our room. No need to change out of travelling clothes this time as we were coming from one pool to just to flop at another that day. After quick snoop round our new quarters and top up of sun cream we went on the hunt for lunch.The beach was wider here and sand whiter, the sea was still rough though but the stunning shades of blue made up for it.

paradisus mexico beach

📷 by Em

A post shared by E M M A T A Y L O R (@ohemmt) on Jun 11, 2016 at 1:21pm PDT

We settled down for the afternoon under the powerful sun, picking up our standard day to day mode of reading, talking and drinking.The weather seemed to have shifted for the better, as the end-of-day rain clouds never materialised D’s bar reopened in its new location. Went for dinner tapas restaurant, amazing food. Glass ceiling had delicate lasers dancing on the panes. Polishing off a cracking basket of churros, ice cream and hot chocolate sauce for pud. Back to room for more before-bed balcony reading (sadly no hammock, so slummed it in a normal chair). Laid in until 8am (!) and floated down to breakfast for fresh pancakes and crispy bacon. The day played out the same, languishing in the sun with an endless supply of mimosas, swapping between loungers and huge squishy Bali beds, getting overly competitive with several games of pool volleyball.


📷 by Em + D

OH, and watch a couple do a ‘natural’ beach photo shoot. He was clearly uncomfortable and hated every second, refusing to speak to his wife throughout the duration of the shoot. She was lapping it up, jumping on the poor sods back, pretend kissing his cheek, pushing him into forced romantic-style poses. The whole thing was reminiscent of the couple I snapped outside of Notre Dame back in Paris. 

beach couple photoshoot

📷 by Em

Rossana had booked us into the pan-Asian restaurant for dinner. As expected the food was out of this world amazing, even got D – a fish-hating fussy eater extraordinaire – to try the best seared Tuna steak in the world. In fact I’m so confident that this was hands down the best tuna steak in world, D loaded more on to her plate and now eats Tuna steak regularly now we’re back home. That’s how life changing this dish was.

girls dinner mexico

📷 by F

As it was our penultimate eve in Mexico we decided to break the routine and go for a couple of after dinner drinks. The lounge bar was busy so the girls went off to secure seats while I went to battle the bar. Leaning over two blonde ladies seated at the counter to speak to the barman.

“Two gin & tonics please and an orange juice.”

One of the blondies slams her hand down on the side of the bar and nearly spits her drink out.

She swallows and whips her round to face me.

“Oh. My. God. You’re British?!!” she shrieked with a Deep South twang.

Now I don’t know about any other fellow Brits, but when someone (and it’s nearly ALWAYS the Yanks) makes a comment about my Surrey-English accent I play it up a bit. Channelling Liz Hurley with just a hint of Hugh Grant mumble-stutter.

“Oh, er, yes. I suppose I am.”

Excitedly grabbing my arm, eyes glittering with the tell-tale tipsy sign from whatever fruity cocktail the stack of empty glasses in front of her contained, she calls over to her drunken husband “This girl’s British! She’s British! Are you listening me Dave*? Dave! Listen!” She turns back to me still clutching my forearm, tilting her head to one side and smiling “Say something British.”

“Oh, right. Um. Ok. What shall I say? Now I’m really on the spot. Ha-ha!”

“You’re a magical unicorn” she sighs, leaning forward, staring at me hard.

“ ‘Ello guv-na! You sah-ound like you’re from Lan-dan!” Her huge, loud and drunker husband Dave shouts at me from the corner of the bar in a terrible cringe-cockney accent.

Out of the corner of my eye I spot D walking over to us at the bar, my new American friend is going to lose her mind with two English girls conversing in front of her “Do you need a hand with drinks?” says D eyeing up the grip Miss USA has on my arm.

“Wait. What?” Miss USA looks at D, then looks at me. Confusion spreading across her face as she tries to figure out if she’s seeing double from too many Tequila’s or if there really are a pair of very similar sounding and looking British girls in front of her.

“There’s another unicorn?” she slowly breathes out gawping at D.

Just wait until F comes along in a minute pet, you won’t be able to handle it!

Lapping up the attention from our British-ness and a couple of gins down. The three of us got comfy at the bar talking to our new pal for the evening. I was introduced to a GORGEOUS lady called Georgette, looking like she stepped out of the Real Housewives of Houston County. Cracking body, huge boobs, big bouffanty platinum blonde hair, blinding white teeth and carefully applied make-up. She was everything I pictured a real Southern Belle to be. She gushed about her son going off to college ‘in the fall’, the Rodeo that comes to Houston every year and her collection of sparkly rhinestone cowboy boots and matching hats.

Turned out our new Yankee pals had never had Sambuca shots before, and we as ambassadors for Brits abroad everywhere had to do our civic duty and educate.

From that point on it did not end well for me.

The last recollection of that night serves up me engaging in a long political debate with an old trilby-wearing Trump supporter (a.k.a. a Trumplestiltskin) waffling out my views on Cameron, Obama and Brexit (was pre-referendum).

This where my memory leaves me and the following account of the rest of the evening is paraphrased from my sober knight in a mini dress, F.

“It was so gross, you HUGGED him –yuck- you hugged the Trumplestiltskin supporter and he looked really happy about it. Like really happy. Like gross old man happy. Then you just jumped off the stool and said ‘Ok I’m going to bed now’ and started walking towards the way out. I say walking you were swaying pretty hard. I had to grab D and run after you to make sure you made your way back alright and alone. You were staggering quite a bit too so I held your hand. And then this random guy came up to me and said that I should take you to bed obviously I told him that’s what I’m doing. Then you and D were having a drunken rant about the Trumplestiltskin, both shouting that you ‘Hate him! You hate him! He’s stupid and you don’t like him’ I had to tell you two to ‘Shhh’ which made you both start giggling going ‘shhhhhhhhhhhh’ at eachother. It was like looking after big toddlers trying to get you back to the room. Once there D was able to pretty much able put herself to bed, you just crashed on top of it, fully dressed, shoes on, completely out of it. I started unbuckling your sandals but you kept saying you could do it. But you clearly couldn’t. So I undid them for you then you were really cute and softly said “I’m freeee”. Then I put the throw over you and you were back asleep.”

With a pounding head and mouth like the bottom of a bird cage I woke up still in my dress. I was reluctantly rolled out of bed along with an equally hungover D, as F wasn’t drinking the night before, she hauled our still half-drunk asses to breakfast for some alcohol absorbing carbs. Eventually creamed up and with tums lined with bread we commandeered a Bali sunbed for our last full day. The roasting sun helped with burning off the worst of the hangover, but by mid-afternoon I was crying on the inside and had to go lie down for a while in a darkened room.

The final evening was uneventful, coming off the tail end of a horrific hangover we spent it wolfing down sub-par tacos, with a bottomless bowl of nachos and guacamole. The anti-climactic end was followed by a gallon of ice cream watching the guests of a wedding party we had seen earlier that day throw some shapes on a makeshift dance floor.

The next day we were back on track being up early again to make the most of our last few hours of sunshine by the pool. Around lunchtime we piled into our transfer back to Cancun airport, miserably waving bye to nearly two weeks of books, Bacardi and the beach.

Landing at a grey Gatwick on a cold Sunday morning, tans feeling faded, feet clad in now soggy flip flops and the reality of our jobs to go back to that Monday looming over our heads, our holiday had come a full rainy circle.

Back to the grind.

Steps walked : Practically nothing  Distance walked: However far away the bar was

*His name probably isn’t Dave, artistic licence at work here.

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