I met up with Justin and Chris on the corner of North and Wood. Prepared boy scout that I am, I left my e-ticket at the office, along with all the other important info regarding where it was, specifically, I was going.

After a brief discussion in the cab, everyone else convinced me we didn’t need that piece of paper. Since I didn’t have a passport, I had with me my birth certificate and driver’s license (official photo ID) which, I was told, worked just as well. I was a bit nervous not having a passport, but it was completely my fault for procrastinating to no end.

I got my ticket, with no problem. Although, at the counter, the guy who was processing me stepped back and had some hushed words with his supervisor (at which point, I had this horrible feeling that they weren’t going to let me leave the country). But no – made it through no problems.

This is us sitting in a nearby food court, chowing on grub and sipping coffee. Phil is filling out some sort of declaration form; Chris is to the right.

Matt, having his usual 7:00AM beer. Actually, he wanted something that would help him get sleepy, right before the three and a half hour plane ride. Justin contemplates whether or not his Starbucks option is better than the beer option.

Phil, who brought his own neck cushion. Many of us doubted him (and a few even ridiculed him). But how can anyone argue against that look on his face?

Outside the airport (and wow, talk about hot), we met up with our ride. When we gathered near the van, this guy from the spa came up to us. He had a silver tray and, on the tray, about a dozen rolled washclothes for us. To top it off – these washclothes were CHILLED! Sooooo fantastic. And an excellent omen of things to come.

It’s a brief 40-50 minute drive, from the airport to our hotel: Aventura Spa Palace.

Which, is too long to go without stopping and getting some beer. The lot of us went to a roadside store and picked up a few six packs. This was my first official introduction to Sol beer.

Deb, who met us all with a smile and a GIGANTIC blue sombrero. Deb was the one who proposed having our annual meeting in a tropical location (provided we met certain budget/financial goals), and did a lot of the planning. While I see a lot of the technical side of things, Deb’s the head honcho in charge of the Sales end. And on top of that, she worked a great deal to arrange, coordinate and set up the Mexico trip.

As an aside, Jill (who left us for bigger and better things in NY) did a hell of a lot of work too. At a few points during this Mexico trip, many of us Chicago folk felt sad that she was absent, seeing as how she did a lot of the legwork in organizing the details of this trip, but never got to go.

Stained glass ceiling, above the check-in area. The whole resort is all-inclusive, and as part of our deal we had to each wear wristbands to designate a certain status. Rey and Deb got black wristbands (not sure what that means), but the rest of us got orange.

Rey and Mike who, like Deb, came down a day earlier to make sure everything was in order. They greeted us all as we got off the van.

My room!

Four kinds of liquor, right next to the closet.

The minifridge. Bottled water, soda, Tecate and Tecate Light (in case you were worried about calories during your binge drinking). Did I mention this resort was all-inclusive?

Just set the bag down, and about to unpack. Here’s the bed.


See that little swan, the one that’s shaped from a towel on the bottom left? Make a note of this.

Balcony view, complete with hammock.

Walking around the resort, checking the place out and taking shots. Incidentally, this is an adults-only resort (which means no kids). Most folks that are here are married couples, many on their honeymoons. I actually saw about two weddings on the premises the whole time I was here.

This was, I found out, a sweat lodge area. There are some pools where you soak for a while… and then you go into these huts where an attendant piles on a bunch of coals in the center of the floor. He closes the doors and you just sort of sweat for a solid hour.

I talked with a guy who was just sort of sitting around, waiting. A few days later, I figured out that you had to schedule an appointment to do this, and it wasn’t included in our package (it cost $99!). But today, I broke out with my language skillzorz, and attempted to talk in Spanish.

I had a minor in Spanish while an undergrad. Two classes shy of a major, but didn’t pursue it because I spent every minute in class thinking in my head “Please. Don’t call on me. Please. Don’t call on me.” I’m not usually like that at all in classrooms, but I was as far as Spanish went. I chose not to major in it because I didn’t want people to think I could actually speak the language well.

I took a lot of Spanish in high school, and had an excellent teacher named Edna Staferi (who, incidentally, kicked my ass daily for smoking cigarettes). She always used to threaten to take me to the hospital and see some of her friends who were dying of cancer. I read a lot of real (actual) literature in Spanish, thanks to her. I got introduced to M
arquez, Lorca, Borges. She was an excellent teacher.

Whew – sorry for that aside. At any rate, I lost a lot of the Spanish I had, when I was younger. As the trip progressed, I began speaking more and more. Which, all told, was really quite nice. As I’m writing this and recapping… I sorta miss it.

In my wandering around, I happened to see a bunch of Chicago folk in the pool. I went back up, changed into my trunks, and joined them. Over time, as more and more Emmis folk arrived, more and more joined us in the pool.Here’s Rob and Tricia, Sales folk from Chicago and New York, respectively.

Note: I thought about the blog, and decided to throw caution to the wind and bring my camera with me to the middle of the pool. I’d just like that for the record.

Mike, showing off his sneaky-floaty method of swimming. Alligator-stylee!

Justin, chatting with Mia (who’s here, representing our Canadian allies – Corus).

Three words: Swim. Up. Bar.

Group shot, shortly after dinner. Left to right it’s Anthony (Chicago), Brian (Indianapolis), me, Phil (Chicago), Kevin (Los Angeles), Shannon (Terre Haute) and Orlando (Los Angeles) is down front. Over the following days, I meet a good number of coworkers: I’ve worked with almost all of them for a year to two. Some I’ve never met. Some I met for the first time last year. It’s really cool, putting faces to names (and voices). I have a hard time keeping names straight (and did, throughout the whole get-together). But if I closed my eyes and listened to who was talking, I could easily figure out who it was.

After dinner, folks sort of split up into different directions. I wandered out to the breakers with some folks and we just talked out there in the dark, listening to the waves and looking at the moon. The way the resort is set up, there’s no actual beach and you don’t really have direct access to the ocean.

Instead, there are these made-made breakers that the waves pound up against. And all around the resort there are these mini-lagoons, that are roughly 5-10 feet deep. All the lagoons are connected, in some fashion, by channels that in turn, connect to the sea.

As we were watching, Anthony and I both swore that we saw some long fish-like creature swim by in the murk. Granted, it was dark. But we were both pretty convinced.

Some folks ended up trying to track down the disco, and I elected to head back to my room. I was pretty beat by this time, and decided to call it an early night. We had meetings tomorrow morning (and I was presenting some things) around 9:30AM.

I should note that the rest is huge, and has its own disco, like three restaurants, and a gazillion other things. The grounds are massive, and it takes a while just to even walk around.

I found my way back to my room. In the name of science, I decided that I needed to “test out” the jacuzzi, just to make sure the thing worked.

I am happy to report that it works remarkably well.

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