Ok, it was really Playa del Carmen, and it was a private birthday party for a very wealthy man and his daughter. The celebration was to last for 4 days and included several major artists and many major celebrities on the guest list. Even though I was there in the capacity of employee, I felt like an invited guest, given that our accommodations were in a beautiful eco resort: Sandos. I loved it!!! I just wish I could have stayed for another 2 weeks! The entire premise of the resort is conservation, which is just a way of being for me. (Speaking of which, I want to buy a fuel efficient, small, used car....anyone selling?? I digress...back to my story). I flew direct from San Francisco to Cancun (yay!) and met up with the rest of the band at the airport. This was my first trip to Mexico, so I was really excited to be there and for the opportunity to finally practice speaking Spanish! (Yes, I live in California, and yes, it's pathetic that I don't practice my Spanish more often, but its just too easy to speak English all the time at home.) I told everyone at the resort that I wanted to speak Spanish and asked them to not speak to me in English. It was tough, but for the most part, I did ok!
My room, with a swan made from a towel. Very creative!
We arrived at the resort in the early evening and after dropping my bags in my room, I went for a walk on the exquisite grounds. I ran into a couple of the crew guys and joined them for dinner at the Mediterranean restaurant (none of us could get into the Mexican restaurant, as it was constantly booked for private events). I had grilled tuna, mashed potatoes and portabello mushrooms. It was quite tasty.
As I walked back to my room, I noticed the scurrying of little feet. No, these weren't cats or dogs...they were RACCOONS!! My immediate response to seeing a gaze of raccoons was to become aware of my impending panic, stay calm, breathe deeply and rush in a different direction. However, these raccoons were clearly not violent like the raccoons back home: they were milling around the outdoor dining tables, sometimes waiting patiently for food scraps and sometimes actually alighting onto the tables to pick from abandoned plates. I'd never seen anything like it. After about 30 minutes of feeling jumpy, I finally relaxed and joined my band mates in the lounge area for a bit of late night respite and laughter.
The next morning, I woke up at 7:30 so that I could make it to the 8am yoga class. I'd assumed it would be taking place in the spa/gym, but no! The group of students gathered at the spa/gym and then followed a focused, intense man name Juan Carlos to an outdoor spot. At first I was walking near the end of the line, but I prefer a quicker pace, so I trotted ahead and walked next to Juan Carlos, who struck up a conversation with me - en Español! After inquiring about my yoga experience, he asked me to position my mat at the front of class to serve as an example for the less experienced students (this always happens in yoga classes, and I'm happy to be in front - given that I'm a bit of an exhibitionist and have practiced yoga for 16+ years).
Me and Juan Carlos
Juan Carlos led an international group (folks from the United States, Spain, Germany and Brazil) to a tree covered deck, above a creek. He spoke in Spanish and English and taught a tough vinyasa class. Tough enough that 3 days later, I was still sore! I loved it! Being outdoors, under the trees, watching the birds fly by, singing their songs, and the turtles swimming in the water under the deck. Breathtaking! This was one of my all time favorite yoga classes. It was tough to get up that early, but I'm so glad that I did. I left class and headed to the internet cafe (the only spot to obtain free internet - remember, I'm frugal!) and this is the view I had while making my free international phone calls:
Not too shabby, eh?
I left the internet cafe and on my way to my room, I met my new friend, the iguana:
Chatty, they were!
We all gathered in the lobby and went to sound check. On the day that Stevie performed, Santana, Enrique Iglesias and an amazing Flamenco troupe performed. We performed in a tent that had been converted to look like a movie set. It was beautiful!
After sound check, I joined Judith and met her friends from the Iglesias band and Robbie Williams band. They were staying at the same hotel as the Santana band, where I ran into my friends Karl and Tony! I wasn't able to hear them perform, but I was glad to be able to catch up with them.
Judith, Laura, Nayanna, Joe and I all went downtown for dinner and window shopping. I wanted to have some authentic Mexican food while I was in Mexico, dammit! We came across a restaurant that featured traditional Mayan recipes. Winner! Joe and I shared the sampler plate, which had some very yummy tamale and ceviche offerings. I love tamales, but it's not easy to find them without pork. This restaurant had vegetarian tamales! I was very happy...
Our call time for the show wasn't until 11pm, so there was plenty of time for me to do show prep (practice, hair, make up, etc.) At the venue, everything was running an hour behind, so a group of us joined in an impromptu jam session with members of the Flamenco troupe. We had our own party!
After the show, several celebrities came backstage to meet with Stevie (of course, after all, even the biggest stars turn into fans when we're talking about Stevie Wonder!), and I had the chance to ask Leonardo DiCaprio for a photo. I'd just watched him perform in J. Edgar, so I was especially excited to meet and take a photo with him. Very cool!
We didn't go on stage until nearly 2:40am, and by the time we finished and returned to our resort, the sun was nearly rising. So, I took advantage of the opportunity to watch the sunrise. I'd seen the sunrise once before, in Switzerland, the sun greeting me over the mountains and spilling across Lake Luzern. But this was different. It was relatively warm, and I was on the beach. Ah...
Gracias por llevarme a Cancún, Stevie! Mi primer viaje a México fue mágico! (Ok, I cheated with translating software...I'm not fluent...yet!)