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Me Habla Espanol

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⁃Meaningless recollections from Cancun, Mexico

Our sincere thanks to United Airlines  for keeping it civil on our flight.

Most travel writers will tell you that the first thing you notice about Cancun is the turquoise blue water. But the first thing I noticed were the long immigration lines. Please practice mindfulness or take some Ambien.Post immigration, wear your snorkeling mask. It will help you navigate the ocean of timeshare sharks in the airport premises.

 

During your Grandmom’s times, most people went to Cancun for the beach. Now, most people come to take a pic in front of a sign that spells Cancun. Millennials head there first. There are no lines at the beach and it can wait. Talking about the ocean, the water temperature is really warm. Some say use sunscreen but I say let it burn.The Mayans never used sunscreen, you thin skinned dimwits!

 

After a long  family discussion about which tour to take, I decided democratically to pick the one with free alcohol. We went to Chichen Itza. You are not allowed to climb the pyramid there. Go with a tour guide who does not compromise the truth for tips. We went with Jaime Garcia. He was stupendous. Even the six year old who was getting deep fried in the hot sun was riveted .

 

We also went to few other ruins in Coba and Tulum. They let you climb the pyramid in Coba. The climb is a moment of epiphany. 1000 years ago, the Mayans were figuring out how to build these incredible structures and now we are worried about taking the perfect selfie and posting it on social media. A precipitous fall indeed !

 

One of the other highlights of this trip was swimming in sinkholes called Cenotes(Google them). A deeply refreshing swim, so get in even if you are not a swimmer. Life jackets are mandatory so your risk of sinking is the lesser than the risk of getting bruised up by  a United flight attendant.  

 

We went snorkeling in the reef near Punta Nizuc. I recommend the crew at Aquaworld but the reef was a little bit of a letdown with just some fish and a few underwater sculptures. First snorkeling trip for the six year old so it was still worth it. Another moment of epiphany – As we were putting on the life jackets, one of the woman asked the crew for a next size life jacket as she was worried that the smaller size would pop her artificially enlarged breasts. That that person, that that problem.  

 

Regarding food, as non consumers of red meat and seafood, our options were limited but we did relish the local Mexican cuisine. A personal note to restaurants in America, please trade Nachos for Chilaquiles. We did the most atrocious thing of eating at a fancy Indian place(Elefanta) one night. I have never eaten in a place in North America which served four Gulab Jamuns and two large scoops of ice cream in a single order. So this place deserves its four stars!

 

All in all, a very relaxing trip. Go for the beaches but stay for that sign that spells Cancun.

Written by Sudarshan Suresh

July 28, 2017 at 6:11 pm

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Air , Space and Others

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We stayed with a friend in Maryland and commuted to Washington DC. We took the metro on all days. The metro was convenient and neat. I did not see any threat of miscreants during the hours we rode. (Late mornings to Late evenings). I would definitely recommend the metro if  you were commuting to see monuments. Stqaying in the city would be ideal but if life happens and you have to take the metro, please don’t be disheartened. 

The metro pulled into Union Station and the train station is a marvel. It was supposedly the biggest in the world when it was first built and yet it provided a very comforting feeling that you have arrived at an important place. The train station also serves Amtrak and other train networks connecting DC. It also eateries, rental car stations and a plethora of tour companies vying for your time and dollars during your stay at DC.
The Old Town trolley came heavily recommended to us and we booked a hop-on/hop-off tour with them. Hop-on and Hop-off your touches all the important monuments at DC and is a very good option. We had reserved a place ahead of time. The tour guide was humorous and his description of the monuments were both witty and informative. You can tip the tour guide so please have some dollar bills handy. I recommend tipping just like I recommend donating to Wikipedia- they are both knowledge sources and it is only fair you give them back something rather than just continuously consuming from them.
Our plan to hop on and hop off looked great until my daughter heard the words “Air and Space Museum” and followed by Smithsonian Castle. A castle in today’s era of Frozen movies, is something that cannot escape the attention of a pre schooler. We alighted at the Castle, which is supposed to be first Smithsonian ever built. It neatly captures the history of the Smithsonian and the serendipitous nature of this wonderful treasure. 
We did lunch at the castle. They have some healthy options at the cafe but parents beware, they have cupcakes- which are the second biggest danger to humanity behind selfie sticks. 
After lunch, we proceeded to the Air and Space museum. First surprise: Smithsonian entrances are free. Since we knew that we were not going to be able to museum hop with a four year old, we did not research the cost aspect of it, so it was a surprise.  If you are into anything that flies this is your playboy mansion. From the Wright Brothers first airplane to the moon landing to moon rocks, the walls are dotted with legendary moments in space history.  The exhibits around the aircraft carriers, planets and the room about how things fly intrigued my four year old daughter. 
The only sore spot of this museum is the world’s biggest McDonalds. The place attracts a ton of young kids and wannabe astronauts. It would be best to keep them healthy by encouraging them  not to eat unhealthy.

Written by Sudarshan Suresh

April 11, 2015 at 7:16 am

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National Cathedral – Washington DC

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Large gothic church with stained glass windows depicting stories from the Bible. For inclusion sake, there is also a window depicting the moon landing.
The organ pipes and the choir arrangement looks spellbinding . Might be a good place to visit when the choir is playing.
State flags hang on the rafters and the order in which they are hung represent the order in which the states joined the union. 
The panoramic views of Washington, D.C.  from the seventh floor are breathtaking.
Note to Parents: there is a cute little chapel that is dedicated to six year old where the pews are setup for children. My daughter found it fascinating.
There is a good cafe adjoining the cathedral. 

Written by Sudarshan Suresh

April 11, 2015 at 12:00 am

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Flying …

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Salt Lake City – long restroom lines. In fact the longest I have seen in any US airport. Scatlalogically speaking, the salt lake might just originating from the restrooms.
Long cross country flight and it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep the little one away from an electronic device as the kids in the rest of the plane are all focussing on the retina display. How are the other parents managing? Any thoughts? 

Written by Sudarshan Suresh

April 10, 2015 at 9:21 pm

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An untimely pain in the butt

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Words(especially mine) do not do justice to the beauty of the beaches and the colors of the twilight sky in Maui. The beaches are not as cold as the ones in Northern California.  I recommend the beach resorts in Western Maui just because there is a running trail quite close to the beach with an uninterrupted view of the ocean and the running is quite exceptional.

Just when things felt perfect, Mr. Murphy had to play his cards. After two days, for the first time in seven years, I picked up an injury. I pulled my gluteus maximus( buttocks in pure English) not while running but while putting the little one in the stroller.  I had to haul myself to the spa (maiden appearance at the spa) in the resort for a deep tissue massage. Gentlemen, be very careful if you ever have to enter a spa. There is an unnerving tranquility about the place and you are treated very respectfully as if someone is going to illegally harvest your kidneys and feed it to the koi fish.

The massage therapist at the spa was straight out of Haight and Ashbury – did not own a microwave or cellphone, thought Food Inc was the best movie ever made and does not drink Coke or Pepsi in spite of being an Iowan – a self-proclaimed old fashion hippie. The best part of the session was there were no serious complications. But I was advised against snorkelling or scuba diving – one of which I was planning to do. The irony of the situation was that I had just begun reading Christopher McDougall’s bestseller – “Born to Run”, a book that talks about the exceptional running abilities of a tribe in Mexico and how humans were born to run.

I soon realized that there is justice in this world. Maui was experiencing the worst high tide in 16 years and no snorkelling/scuba tours went out. Thank you, Al Gore for making the oceans spill over.

Written by Sudarshan Suresh

September 9, 2011 at 11:22 am

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Flying High

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You would normally expect someone flying to Maui for a vacation to be overjoyed but I was going through an assortment of fear and excitement. This was my ten month old daughter T’s first flight. TSA played their part to add to the fear factor by re-checking our luggage twice as they identified T’s butt wipes and toy drums as a major security hazard. When we finally arrived at the boarding gate huffing and puffing, we were keeping a 747 full of passengers( wildly exaggerated) away from their vacation.  I could just smell the disapproval of my fellow passengers walking along the aisles of the plane.

We bought a separate ticket for T. So she was fully excited to be seated as an equal along with everyone else.   She even paid full attention to the safety procedures demonstration. The air hostess were impressed. We got her ready for takeoff. Parenting Tip:  We used the CARES harness instead of a car seat in the plane and it worked like magic. Although, a separate seat was an overkill on this half-empty plane.

I am almost always asleep or drunk during takeoff. But this time, I was wide awake as I was preparing to hear that loud wail from T. I was beginning to rehearse the Gayatri Mantra hoping for divine intervention. But the wail never came. She aced the take off like a veteran.

Rest of the flight was fortunately eventless. T continued to be the chic- magnate. All the women in the flight wanted a piece of her when she was on walks with daddy. I guess that’s my perception.

Talking about perception, there were quite a few babies on board with us. I was left wondering where did they all come from? Where they always there in all my previous travels too? Am I acknowledging them now because I have one too? It is really true when that we see what we want to see.

Besides babies, I saw a lot of e-readers. Expectedly, I saw a few iPads but I also saw a equal number of kindles and other tablets . The iPod seems to have died. 7-8 years ago, you might get into a plane without a ticket but not without an iPod. RIP, the game changer!!

Maui is so unlike United States in many ways. The airport itself is very uncomplicated and in some ways reminded me of the old Bangalore airport. Sugarcane juice and tender coconut was being sold along the roadside. The first dose of  being a part of United States hit me when I saw a Safeway and this ruined five-eighth’s of my vacation.  Travel Tip: if you have booked a car through Alamo, change your booking now. Horrible staff! and the fleet is even worse.

Written by Sudarshan Suresh

September 6, 2011 at 10:57 pm

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