Prelude to an Empty Nest

December 26, 2020 was a LONG day! It all began at 2:00am when my daughter and her boyfriend, my son (11), and I jumped into a minivan to head to Tampa. My first born (22) is truly ready to enter adulthood by moving to Tampa with her boyfriend. Exciting!

We jumped on 295 South, Sean (bf) entered their address into my GPS, and it said it would take 12 hours 51 minutes😳but I had been mentally preparing myself for this drive for weeks. The challenge was to complete it ON👏🏽MY👏🏽OWN👏🏽!

Driving in the dark, while everyone else was KNOCKED out was daunting. However, I was prepared with various playlists that I’ve created on Spotify over the years! Jay-Z, Rihanna, Jhene, Big Sean, Drake, and Cardi were just a few of the artists that accompanied me along that drive.

For some strange reason it seemed like the sun didn’t want to rise Saturday morning! During the work week it seems like it’s up and ready to start the day at 5-6 o’clock but not on December 26th. Not when I needed it to come out! I was getting extremely tired and found it VERY necessary to pull over and sleep for at least an hour. Sean offered to drive but I turned him down. This was possibly my last road trip with my baby and I trust ME with my children. So, I slept for about an hour or at least til the sun came up, drank some more coconut RedBull, and got back on the road! It was important to make good time, as the rental needed to be returned by 8pm.

Thankfully we didn’t run into any major traffic and we didn’t have any mechanical difficulties! God is GOOD! We made it to Tampa around 4:30pm with at least 5-6 stops along the way! Not bad at all and I completed the drive SOLO! I knew I could do it.

As I drove through Tarese’s new neighborhood, I began to get teary-eyed. It was hard to believe that my baby was not gonna return home with us after this short vacay was over. I was trying my best to hide my tears as we got closer to their house. I had to use my sleeve to wipe my tears so nobody would notice that I was crying.

We finally got to their house, I backed into the driveway, and tried to maintain my composure. I did pretty well until all of her belongings were out of the van and in the house. I didn’t want to linger around cuz I had another two hour drive to Gainesville to see my cousin. I grabbed my baby, started crying, let her know that I love her very much, and told her I was proud of her! I was excited about her moving out but I didn’t realize how hard it was going to be to leave her. We’ve been together for 22 years and now she’s on her own. I can’t wait to see and hear about all of her successes!

Nope…this story isn’t over yet! Desi and I jumped back into the minivan and headed to Tampa International to return the van and get a smaller vehicle for our three day stay in Gainesville. My mind was so wrapped up in missing my baby that I forgot to fill up the tank. Y’all know that car rental companies charge an arm and a leg if they have to fill up the tank. Luckily, the attendant quoted the price for them to fill up the vehicle 😱$46 and then told me that I could take the vehicle back out to fill up. That’s just what I did cuz what do I look like paying $46 for a half tank of gas? Of course, what was supposed to take 10 minutes turned into 30 because I’m not familiar with the area and my GPS loves to update slowly. So yeah, I missed several important turns to get to the gas station that was quoted to be 5 minutes away! Anyway, I filled up the tank and headed back to the airport. Of course, checking back in couldn’t be simple! There were three cars that pulled in ahead of me😩. Those of you that KNOW me know that…”I have no patience and I HATE waiting!” (Jay-Z ~ Big Pimpin’) But I had no choice! Once the attendant finished checking my vehicle BACK in, I asked for directions to the next car rental company.

Maaaannnn, we got to the 4th floor where the car rental companies are located. There were people upon people upon people getting off of the train to get a rental. I panicked cuz as I said before…I have no patience! I began to speed walk through all the people that refused to social distance! We finally found the rental company I used and ran smack dab into another line! At first, I was cool until I noticed there was only ONE agent and five people ahead of me. I quickly had to change my mindset and prepare for the wait, as this was beyond my control! I didn’t even keep track of the wait time because it would have triggered my impatience!

It was FINALLY my turn! I had my license and credit card in hand, gave it right to the agent, but he looked straight in my eyes and said he couldn’t find my name in the system. I couldn’t believe my ears and began to look for the reservation on my phone but before I could pull it up, he found my reservation! I immediately whispered a prayer of thanks. Then he tells me they only have minivans left but could switch me to their sister company for a smaller vehicle. I agreed cuz who wants to fill up a minivan again? NOT I! *HUGE SIGH* The agent then asked me to follow him to a different counter so I could rent the vehicle from their sister company. **SMH…One agent with at least ten customers between two separate counters trying to keep all of his customers happy 🤦🏽‍♀️ Praise God for helping me maintain my mindset because looking back I’m surprised I didn’t freak out!

Everything worked out, I got the papers for the new vehicle, and we headed to get the keys. We ended up with a janky Nissan Versa but whatever…we have our means of transportation for the next couple of days. Now to get BACK on the road to head to Gainesville. I’m so ready to get in any bed but first food so we aren’t famished on the way. At approximately 8:20pm we got on the road for our 2 hour ride to Gainesville. We arrived at our hotel at 10:01pm, checked into the hotel without a hitch! December 26th was the longest day EVER! And I’d do it again in a heartbeat because…ANYTHING for MY CHILDREN! When they need me I will always be there!

I’m getting teary-eyed as I think about going back home without my baby. I know she will come back to visit but it’s going to be different. It is going to take a lot of getting used to and I know I’m going to get sad for weeks if not months knowing that she no longer lives with us. We are all going to miss her! The only thing that gives me comfort is knowing that she is with a young man that I trust. He’s ALWAYS been a great young man! Anyway, I’m on my way to being an empty nester! Kinda exciting and scary at the same time! I’m nervicited (nervous + excited…yes I created my own compound word) but I can’t wait to see what else God has in store for Tarese. God’s got her!

Desi and I ~ Dec. 27th after getting some much needed rest.

What Pandemic?

Summer 2020 has almost come to a close. Due to Covid-19, the world has been SHUT DOWN! Maryland has been under quarantine since the beginning of March but the rest of the world went under lockdown mid/end of January. The United States was hit harder than other countries due to negligence but this is not a political blog.

Life as we KNEW it had changed in the blink of an eye and we were due for a much needed quiet but fun getaway. 2020 has been quite stressful, as mentioned above. However, my window was closing due to the beginning of the 20-21 school year…albeit virtual for the first semester.

Soooooo…

The researching began! I started looking at Jamaica, Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, and Aruba. The prices were okay, but for an 11th hour trip…a little on the pricey side. The search continued…Breathless, Secrets you know all the well known resorts. One day I received an email notification to read the reviews on The Reef 28. I immediately clicked on the link and my jaw dropped! This adults only, all inclusive resort with a rooftop also had an infinity pool and two jacuzzis. The price was right with flight, and private transportation included. Now, don’t get all excited the private transportation is just a white van that only has one stop…YOURS! Perks…TRUST!

We flew United from DCA, which had a short layover in Newark, New Jersey. United was really good about sending out documentation that was necessary for the trip, however most of those papers are still in my possession. I would fill out and print everything, just in case! Things are changing day by day and you don’t want to get caught without important documents.

Be mindful…

We are still in a pandemic and there are some people out there that do not like to abide by the rules and guidelines set forth by the CDC, airlines, restaurants etc. There were a few times I had to stick my foot out to the side, give the death stare, and say, “GIVE ME MY 6 FEET!” I had my mask, gloves, face shield, and wipes ready to go. I was prepared!!!

Once we arrived in Cancun, we had to battle the vendors to get to our transportation. Keep your eyes straight until you see your transportation company. Otherwise, you may end up being scammed! We made it to our transportation without any issues, got right into the van, after they sprayed our shoes and bags down with some type of solution, and we were OFF to our hotel.

Rooftop

This boutique hotel is not on the beach but is a short 5 minute drive to The CoCo Reef or a 10-15 minute drive to The Reef Playacar, both sister resorts. The Reef 28 offers shuttle service throughout the day, but we really weren’t trying to be on anyone’s schedule because…vacation! All inclusive visitors are able to visit the other two resorts, participate in activities, eat, and drink any time during their stay. Each resort has a spa. 👇🏽

Hydrotherapy at The Reef 28

FOOD

If you’re a Taurus the most important part of LIFE period is FOOD! Yes, FOOD! The Reef 28 has two restaurants. Veinti8cho, formerly a buffet and the other I don’t recall the cuisine…it was decent but the portions were rather small. However, we happened upon three really great restaurants in Playa del Carmen. The first was La Parrilla, which is on 5th Avenue right across from Forever 21. The second restaurant is Rockas Jamaican Kitchen. It is a very small restaurant but the food is amazing! As I placed and waited for my order, the aroma smelled authentic and I began to wonder how in the world Mexicans were able to season the food like Jamaicans. I was a little confused but intrigued. A few minutes had passed, then this van pulled up, and a tall Jamaican man walked into the restaurant…it all made sense now! Needless to say, the food was OUTSTANDING!

Veinti8cho

Our last dinner in Playa del Carmen was extra special because he wanted to make sure we ate somewhere new. So, we walked down to Ictio, which was no more than a five minute walk. The sun was going down, there was a nice breeze, and we were seated at a table near the road, in this quaint restaurant that certainly didn’t look like much. We placed our orders! I got an appetizer which easily could’ve been my meal…battered fish over cabbage, he ordered octopus (YUCK), and for my entree I ordered the Pesca del dia (catch of the day) red snapper. Of course, I had to have the head removed because my food can’t be staring back at me. NOPE! Due to the pesca del dia being rather popular that day, I had to wait for 30 minutes to get my entree. LINDA LISTEN!!! The aroma of that fish was EVERYTHING but I was full from my appetizer. How could I not eat it, after he planned our last vacay supper? I had to eat it because I am NOT one to waste food…it’s against my religion LOL! I have NEVER tasted any fish made by anyone that tasted that good. I had mine baked with lemon garlic seasoning on top. I didn’t even get a chance to take a picture of it, it was THAT good!!!

comida magnífica
Pulpo
fin

5th Avenue

This is where the vultures play! LOL! If you don’t like being bombarded by people trying to get you to spend your money, you may want to avoid this area. However, it is part of the experience. Just keep your eyes straight and have a firm NO resting on your tongue! I highly encourage that you walk down 5th Avenue, as it’s great to be amongst the natives and to see all of the souvenirs they had to offer.

5th Avenue

TEQUILA

If you like Tequila you want to try to find Crema de Almendrado con Tequila. I am not a drinker but let me tell you something…this is the tastiest tequila out there. It is not at all easy to find but if you can find Mom’s jewelry shop (which is to the right as you come out of the hotel, left at the very first street…walk past the building, and you will see two small jewelry stores) they may offer you a taste and then ask to buy a bottle or two! Thank me later!

delicioso

ATMs

The absolute worst thing you can do when you are traveling outside of your country is not have any small bills. Luckily, I went to the ATM at the airport and had a decent amount of money for spending and tips BUT I didn’t get small bills. If you forget to get money before you leave there is only ONE ATM that I suggest you use. You can find these ATMs near the Avis car rental on…I believe it was Constitution (which is parallel to 5th Avenue but the main street). We also found a location that changed out our large bills for smaller ones for free! I however gave the guy a tip just because!

EXCURSIONS

We did not get sucked into the excursion abyss leaving the airport! Nor did we attend the timeshare trap which is offered at EVERY hotel. However, we were approached by a gentlemen on our CoCo Reef beach day…he offered jetskiing, parasailing, and snorkeling. We weren’t prepared to put any money down that day but we surely went back the next day for our adventure!

Parasailing
True blue

DEALS and DISCOUNTS

If you aren’t afraid to travel, now is the time to look into staying at The Reef 28! This was the best trip EVER! Playa del Carmen is a scale down from Cancun, in that the pace is slower and more family oriented. It was also nice being amongst the natives with no fear!

The Reef 28 is still offering amazing deals so check it out TODAY! The cost was less than $1500 for two adults, all inclusive, flight, transportation to and from the hotel, and insurance. Don’t hesitate and book your next vacation at THE REEF 28! Tell them we sent you. LOL