Riviera Mayan Adventure on the Reef Playacar

When Rebecca first mentioned going to Mexico I was leery. Mexico? At the time, the only thing I knew about our southern neighbor was what the US Army taught me years before. That hard lesson was learned in 1998 while doing a short stint at Fort Bliss. For those of you unfamiliar with Fort Bliss, it’s a 1,700 square mile playground reserved exclusively for Uncle Sam. It’s the US Army’s second largest installation, home of the 1st Armored Division, and situated in the picturesque desert city of El Paso, TX Any soldier who’s ever spent more than a day at Ft. Bliss knows the kind of world that exists once you leave El Paso and cross into that southern border town. Juarez, Mexico – the home of crooked cops, drug cartels, and a perfect place to get raped, robbed, or murdered. It’s not exactly the type of place you would take the kids to get t-shirts, postcards, or ice cream. Anyhow, you can see why I was so apprehensive about taking a vacation there. As it turns out, all Mexican towns and cities do not rank the same. To make a comparison between Juarez and some of Mexico’s more popular tourist destinations is like trying to compare Detroit, Michigan with Cary, North Carolina. There just isn’t any comparison. So putting all reservations aside, Rebecca and I purchased a flight and headed out into Mexico’s lush Riviera Maya.


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Following this truck, I knew I was heading in the right direction.

The Riviera Maya is truly a magnificent place. The entire area is a tropical paradise located on the Yucatan Peninsula. The region is famous for its Caribbean beaches, beautiful jungles, and warm tropical climate. There’s no shortage of sights to see, things to do, or places to explore here in this neck of the woods!




For all of you history loving folks, the Tulum Ruins is an ancient Mayan city that was built in the late 13th century. It’s a well-preserved marvel of antiquity that sits right against a sandy white beach. If ancient ruins aren’t exactly your cup of tea, then perhaps the Great Mayan Reef is. The Great Mayan Reef is the largest coral reef system in the Western Hemisphere. Talk about your snorkeling! You can’t find any better snorkeling than in the Riviera Maya! And if you don’t have a date, no worries because you won’t be swimming alone. “Akumal”, meaning place of the turtles, is the name of the bay you’ll probably want to go snorkeling in. There are plenty of sea turtles around to give you a guided tour of the ocean floor. If that’s not enough to stir your adventurous spirit, than look no further than Mexico’s sacred Cenotes. What are Cenotes you ask? Why, they are only one of the largest cave systems in all of the world! How’s that for planning your next scuba diving or snorkeling adventure!


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Exploring the Cenotes


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Look at this specimen of a man!


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I’ll go to the watery caves of Mexico with this girl any day!

With all the endless possibilities, the hardest part about the trip was planning where to stay. After much careful consideration, Rebecca and I decided upon the Reef Playacar Riviera Maya- All Inclusive Resort…and what a wonderful decision we made! The entire resort is one big tropical garden!


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A tropical garden in paradise


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My baby doll in her blue dress


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Would you look at that amazing beach! 


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She stole that flower but she sure looks beautiful with it! 

Walking to and from our room, we felt as if we were deep inside the Mayan jungles.


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Striking that sassy pose!


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Rebecca likes to show off those massive guns. She needs to quit juicin’!


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You mean I can just swim up to that bar and get drinks for free?

The Reef Playacar boasts some pretty amazing amenities to include great restaurants, beautiful pools with a swim-up bar, water sports, and plenty of lively entertainment. The best part about an All-inclusive resort is when you leave the room you never take your pocketbook with you…well, not unless you are planning to do some shopping in the local area. In that case you can still leave your pocketbook in the room, pretend you forgot it, and have your significant other pay for everything.


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Shhh!… Don’t tell Rebecca! She still doesn’t know I did that on purpose.


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Big John loves the diet Coca-Cola!!


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My lovely senorita!


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What a beautiful resort!


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Who knew the Garden of Eden was way down in Mexico?


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It’s scenes like these that make the Reef @ Playacar an exceptional resort.


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Fantastic dining options with delicious food!


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Just finishing our breakfast of champions.


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Hey girl, you come here often?



The fetching Miss Rebecca




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What can I say? I’m one lucky guy!


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I can’t show you what happened next!


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Beauty & the Beast @ the Reef Playacar way down in Mexico.



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Give me some sugar baby!

How’s that for some romance on the Riviera? If you’ve also visited Mexico and had an amazing time, please tell us about it in the comments below.

Happy Travels,

Big John


Posted in Adventurous Places, Great Dining, South America and tagged , , by with 2 comments.

A Letter to My Boss, from Peru

Dear Mr. Morino,

 I know you’re probably not going to give me my job back and that’s totally cool. Although, if you were to offer it back I would graciously accept it – and that’s cool too. I was hoping that, if you weren’t still angry about things, you could ask the Wisconsin State Police to drop any charges you have pending against me. I really need to get out of Peru and find my way back home!

Henry is doing fine so don’t go worrying about him. He seems much happier here, being back in his own country and all. I knew he would be happier here and that’s why I took him in the first place. He’s actually found love way up on the Huayna Picchu mountain! It’s so wonderful! I have a picture of the two of them together that would really melt your heart.

Actually, I’ll enclose that picture of Henry with this letter so you can show it to Linda. I figure that if she can also see just how happy Henry is here, she might just let bygones be bygones. On second thought, I had better keep the photograph. He doesn’t come down from the mountain anymore so this picture is basically all I have left of him.

Although Henry is doing quite well in Peru, I’m just not cutting it out here, Mr. Morino. I cry nearly all of the time! It’s much rainier in the jungle than what I expected and my missionary friend stopped allowing me to share his tent. Even worse, the monkeys have grown weary of me eating all their bananas. They’ve begun forming an actual monkey army; and I can tell by how quiet and secretive they get around me now that they mean to attack!

If you and Linda could somehow find it in your heart to forgive me, and then send me a plane ticket… well, I would be eternally grateful! Oh yeah, about your truck and trailer. I had no idea that river was going to be that fast and that deep! From the embankment, the crossing of it didn’t seem all that complicated. But don’t you think I didn’t do my best, Mr. Morino! You can ask anybody that knows anything about rivers in Peru, when that current takes you, and you attempt to manuever a truck and horse trailer off of a hundred-foot waterfall, there ain’t going to be nothing a person can do but swim out the wreckage.

     Going back to that day I took Henry, I never meant for any of it to go down the way it did. First off, it wasn’t an animal abduction, it was a full-fledged animal rescue. That’s God’s honest truth! Now, I can’t lie to you and say your wife deserved all of what happened to her either, but we both did things we probably came to regret. Ever since that first day I came to work at Shear and Shave Llama Service, you and Linda were like family to me. I knew nothing about the business, but y’all poured your hearts and souls into my training and it showed! The day you promoted me from trim-wool technician to a full-fledged de-fleecer…that was the proudest day of my life – bar none!

     But the day that Linda hired on Senor Juan-Know-It-All-Espinoza, everything went downhill from there. Linda said he naturally outranked me because he was from South America and that’s just not right. She’s stereotyping! To say just because somebody’s Peruvian, that they automatically know everything there is to know about the finer points of llama grooming… well, that’s plain ludicrous! Yet, I didn’t grumble. I never complained. I just went about my daily grind shaving those llamas to show-room condition. Oh, they would laugh at me and tease; but those techniques I use with the coddling and whispering really puts the animal at ease.

The daily taunting was relentless but I just bottled it all up inside. Like the devoted Sheer and Shave employee that I am, I just went about my business day after day and tried to pay it no mind. Unfortunately, there was a real rage brewing inside of me that even I could not contain. And then finally it happened, I just completely blew my top!

I was in the barn sculpting Henry’s backside with some hand shears when Linda asked me if I was trying to win myself a date. I reminded her that a good trim with hand sheers should take no less than twenty minutes, or the llama will walk away from the experience feeling cheapened. You taught me that one, Mr. Morales. It’s basic Llama Grooming 101! Juan then begins braggin’ about how he could do the job with a pair of electric clippers in less than five, and have the llama looking better and feeling far more satisfied! I argued with him then, I did because he had assaulted my honor. I told him that such a task in less than five minutes was impossible; furthermore, he wasn’t fooling anybody because I had seen his work. It was but second-rate sheep-shearing he did and he had always failed to shave completely down to the hocks.

So then Juan starts getting all boisterous and loud. He tells me he was going to show me a thing or two about his skills with a llama. I told him that he wasn’t touching Henry with a pair of electric clippers, and if he wanted something big to shave then Linda was standing right behind him. When I said that, Linda got all fired up and she snatched the clippers straight off of the sheering post.

I told them to back away from Henry because he was really starting to tense up. They wouldn’t listen and just kept coming my way. It was at that very moment I completely lost it! It was like my brain switched to autopilot and all I could see was red! When I finally came back to my senses, Juan and Linda were left naked, shaved, and duct-taped to the post just as you found them. As for me and Henry, well we were already well on our way to Peru!


Picture of Henry in Peru

  Anyway, I have get this letter to that missionary so he can get it in his mailbag before tomorrow. First thing in the morning, he’ll be off trying to make converts out of a bunch of cannibals. Don’t know if he’ll be returning back this way anytime in the near future. Think about what I wrote you and how most of it can be chalked up to a huge misunderstanding. I’m sure you can see things a lot clearer now that you’ve read my side of the story.

Yours truly,

Bellamy Rickets


PS. Give my regards to Linda and tell her not to worry about her hair. It will all grow back, and if it doesn’t she probably looks better that way.




Posted in South America, Tall Tales and Big Fish Stories and tagged by with 2 comments.
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