Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Hidden Worlds Aventure Park in the Riviera Maya

Have you ever imagined what it would be like to fly atop a large winged creature like those featured in the movie Avatar?  Just for a minute picture yourself flying through the air riding such a giant beast as it dips, crests and artfully twists through the sky.  Now envision yourself on a zip line that mimics many of the same movements.  This is the idea behind Hidden World's amazing new zip line roller coaster called The Avatar.

In our continuing quest to seek out and explore exciting activities along the Rivera Maya, Allan and I along with a few very good friends visited the eco-amusement park called Hidden Worlds.  The day began with a short 30 minute ride south of Playa del Carmen to the entrance to Hidden Worlds.  Filled with excitement and anticipation we eagerly departed my SUV, signed in at the front desk and then boarded a large army/surplus type dune buggy for a bumpy ride out into the jungle.

Our adventure began with a set of zip lines at about mid-tree level.  It was a good intro for some of my companions who have never before been on a zip line.  We're talking about an over 50 crowd who may not have in the States embarked on such an adventure due to either fear or perhaps the idea that such rides are for the younger set of explorers.  I was pleased to see my friends overcome their apprehension and take that first step off a high platform into the large void below, keeping faith in only a harness and rope.  Each one successfully glided through the trees without incident; the look of joy on their faces was contagious.  They had done it, and were ready for more challenges.

The second activity comprised of a zip line with splash landing into a cenote filled with water.  My favorite part besides the splash landing was that the fact we all went twice - once forwards and once backwards.  It's certainly less intimidating to be able to see where you are going; putting faith in a rope and harness and doing so blindly can be very scary.  Watching my friends laugh, smile and even scream as they plummeted backwards into the depths of the dimly lit cenote was very amusing.

After the zip line, we climbed the stairs back to the top of the cenote only to then repel roughly 40 feet back down.  I've repelled before and was the first, eager participant.   Once I was hooked into the rope and took the first scary step off the edge over the large hole, the rest was child's play.  I could essentially control the speed and go as slow or fast as I wanted.

One by one my group repelled, most for their first time.  As the numbers at the top dwindled a few nervous people remained, feeling very much scared at only having a rope and a harness separate them between near certain death.  In the end each overcame their fear and dropped rather effortlessly to the bottom. Once everyone finished we were now ready for the most exciting part of our adventure: the Avatar.

For the Avatar we climbed back up to the top of the cenote, trekked through the jungle and climbed up a platform to about mid-tree level.  The ride consists of a metal bar that drops, rises and twists through the trees and then down into the cenote, eventually ending in the water.  The user is strapped onto the bar and holds a handle, much like a bicycle handle and is propelled through this path mimicking the movements of a roller coaster.

I was the first to go and it certainly did not disappoint.  Once off the platform you make a steep drop down, and then are propelled back up and then down again, twisting around a corner and into a pitch-black plastic tube filled with water, and then down around a large bend into the mouth of the cenote, bending and dropping eventually into the cool cenote water.  It was a blast: you loose your stomach like a roller coaster and get wet like a water slide.

After one ride on the Avatar, we had the choice of going twice - many did, some did not.  I, of course went twice;  Allan unfortunately did not.  Many screamed very loudly, much to the amusement of everyone else.  However, everyone participated which is certainly worthy of note.

After the Avatar we moved onto the cenote swim where we sported left vests and jumped into the refreshing depths and swam into a smaller cave where we could explore the stalactite formations.  At some points the ceiling was so low we could touch the roof; at others it loomed 30 feet above like a cathedral ceiling.   The cave was as equally intricate and enjoyable as most any other cenote in the Rivera Maya region and was certainly worth the visit.

The last part of our trip and certainly the most relaxing for me was the sky cycle.  On the sky cycle the user sits on a bicycle suspended on wires above the tree tops and pedals through the trees back and down and then up again and back on a different route.  Some of our taller guests with weaker knees struggled more than the younger and/or more agile participants.  All in all I thoroughly enjoyed it.

What was perhaps equally as enjoyable as participating in the activities at Hidden Worlds was watching my friends laugh and scream as they tacked each event, overcoming fear and realizing that life does not end at 50.  Life is too short to not make the most out of it, and I have found the less one focuses on age and limitations, and the more one focuses on today and making the most out of today, the more fun one has.  I am extremely proud of the friends I have in Playa - their courage, determination and love of life.  It takes a lot of guts to move from the US or Canada to Mexico.  That same drive that propelled them to Playa, continues to motivate them to tackle perhaps scary tasks like zip lines and the Avatar.

Neil, Anne, me, Gayle, Allan, Marge and James

Neil, James and Marge in front of the jungle buggy

The gang inside the jungle buggy

Allan in the cenote

The cenote swim

Stalactites in the cenote

Fish in the cenote

Marge on the sky cycle

Monday, September 26, 2011

Cajón vs. Cojón

The following is a recent conversation I had with my employee in Spanish which emphasizes the importance of property pronunciation.  Cajón in Spanish means drawer whereas cojón means testicle.

(translated from Spanish)

Connie:  Where are the receipt books?
Me: They are in my office in the top cojón  (testicle) of my black filing cabinet
Carla: I think you mean cajón (drawer).
Me: (Smiling) Yes I meant cajón (drawer).

We all laugh.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Sleeping in Hammocks

You might be surprised to find out that the maid who cleans your room in Playa del Carmen probably sleeps in a hammock at night.  I used to think of laying in a hammock as an outdoor activity on a lazy, summer day.  Now I realize hammocks have a long history in Mexico and Central America and are really part of the Mayan culture.

Ancient Mayans used to sleep in hammocks.  Hammocks are ideal for the tropical Yucatecan climate: they are light and airy, providing great ventilation for the user.  They allow the user to hover above the ground, away from whatever insects or crawling creatures which might otherwise find their way under the sheets of a bed.  Considering Ancient Mayans and many present day Mayan descendants live in conditions more akin to camping, sleeping off the ground was essential.  By the time Spanish explorers landed in Mexico they found hammocks everywhere.

Hammocks are also great space savers.  In the morning just unhook one end from the wall and hang it up on the other.  Potential buyers in Playa who are looking at very affordable accommodations, the type that appeal to local Mexicans, expect to find hammock hooks on the inside walls.  What might be a living room during the day coverts to a sleeping area at night with hammocks hanging off the walls.

Both my maids sleep in hammocks.  One sleeps with her daughter in one hammock while the other maid shares a hammock with her husband.  When it's time for intimacy my maids told me they move to the floor.  Although there is book and even a calendar on hammock sutra, the art of intimacy in a hammock, I guess my girls prefer a hard surface.

For purchasing your prized hammock, stay away from pricy 5th Avenue in Playa del Carmen.  Instead visit the hammock store on 30th Avenue and 50th Street.  You can purchase from a beautiful assortment of colorful hammocks at a fraction of the price.  They have single weaves, double weaves, single hammocks, doubles and even chairs.  If you don't find what you're looking for, submit a custom order from a wide selection of colors and have them make your own.

Although Allan and I have 2 hammocks and do manage to sneak a nap in them from time to time, we are not planning to trade in our bed.  Sleeping in a mattress is very much a part of our culture, just as being in a hammock is part of the Mayan culture. 

My maid, Zoila, sits in our bucket hammock with Mitzi.  Believe it or not we find this hammock more comfortable than the traditional horizontal kind.

Zoila in our second hammock.  Zoila sleeps in a hammock every night.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Isla Cozumel Day Pass Highlights Tour

Allan and I spent a wonderful working day exploring the island of Cozumel on the Isla Cozumel Day Pass Highlights Tour.  Certainly any day spent snorkeling, relaxing on the beach and touring a tropical island is bound to be a superb day in my book.  Although Allan and I have been to Cozumel before, we enjoyed reconnecting with the island after not having been in over a year and also appreciated the guided tour which revealed many facets of the island to which we were previously unaware.

We started the day with a leisurely stroll down 5th Avenue to meet up with the tour group in front of Sr. Frogs by the ferry terminal.  Round trip tickets (included in the tour price) were distributed by our tour leader, and we boarded the ferry for the scenic and thankfully tranquil 50 minute passage to Cozumel.  Being prone to sea sickness, I am not one for boats, but given the guided tour of Cozumel I was able to overcome the limited discomfort for a daytime of fun.

In Cozumel we boarded a safari type bus which was a mix between a cargo truck decked out in camouflage and an army transport vehicle. Our first stop was the famous snorkeling spot, Chankanaab.  Cozumel has the second largest barrier reef in the world, and Chankanaab is known for its snorkeling.  The water ranges from 10 to 30 feet in depth and is marked by large coral formations, bright purple fans and a kaleidoscope of colorful marine creatures.

Snorkeling equipment and mandatory life vests are included, but the vests can be inflated or deflated depending on how adventurous you are.  I prefer to keep mine deflated so I can plunge down and explore things like the large statue of Christ which is probably 20 feet tall and the head is still about 10 feet below the surface.  It is really sometime to behold.

After roughly an hour in the water we dried off and boarded the safari bus for a scenic ride into the Faro Celarain Eco Park.  I never knew this part of the island existed.  I thought Cozumel was all sand, trees and buildings.  However the southern end of the island is covered in pristine mangroves, marked by large brackish ponds and marshes.  We stopped at a nearby white sandy beach for a delicious all you can eat buffet lunch of fajitas, beans, nachos and beverages, including beer.  The respite lasted about an hour, half of which we spent lazily lounging on beach side hammocks while another part of the group decided to go for a dip in ocean.

Then it was back in the safari bus for a tour of the rocky eastern side of Cozumel where we stopped at a beach side cart for some adult beverages made and served in fresh coconuts and photo shoots on the large rock out-cropping.  Our friendly and informative tour guide talked about the area and how Cozumel got its name.  In Mayan the word "Cuzamil-Pectin" means "Land of the Swallows," and Ixchel, Mayan goddess of fertility and love, was said to have sent swallows, her favorite birds, to the island in thanks for dedicating temples to her.   Spanish explorers then converted the name from Cuzamil to Cozumel.  Likewise the state of Yucatan got its name from the Spanish.  After having landed in the Yucatan they asked the Mayans what this place was called.  The Mayan replied "Yuk ak katán" meaning I don't understand you.  The Spanish took "Yuk ak katán" and made it Yucatan.

At the end of the trip we were dropped off in downtown Cozumel for about an hour of shopping before it was time to board the ferry again.  Instead of shopping Allan and I opted to feast on ice cream and enjoy the scenery of a nearby park.  We boarded the ferry to Playa at about 5pm and were pleasantly surprised with live Latin music on the boat.  Being someone who likes quiet I was initially resistant to having my peace disturbed, but I must say the music was really good and by the end I was listening intently.  It certainly made the time on the water pass much faster.

The Cozumel Day Pass Highlights Tour is certainly a worthwhile activity for the whole family.  Allan and I are used to planning and running activities, and it was nice to actually sit back and have an informative guide take us around and do all the work, and even serve us lunch!  We're looking forward to when family comes and visits so we can take them on the tour.  If you'd like to book the tour please contact our concierge Claudia at

Live music on the Cozumel Ferry

The Cozumel Ferry

Allan, Randy, Claudia and I at Senor Frogs

Allan and I in front of the jungle bus

Randy gets ready to go snorkeling at Chankanaab

Allan, I, Claudia, and Randy before our snorkel at Chankanaab

I'm snorkeling at Chankanaab
Big fishie!

Submerged statue of Christ

I come up for air

Walking among the mangroves

Beach side hammocks after the all you can eat buffet

I'm trying to sleep after a big lunch

Relaxing in a beach side hammock after a wonderful buffet lunch
Allan and I on the jungle bus

Monday, September 19, 2011

Dining Out in Playa del Carmen

Dining out is one of Allan and my favorite past times.  While living in Boston we frequented as many affordable and ethnically diverse dining establishments as possible, splurging for the more expensive ones on special occasions like birthdays.  Having since moved to Playa del Carmen we have been pleasantly surprised at the quality of the local cuisine.  Although it's hard to compare the dining options with a major metropolitan and ethnically diverse city like Boston, Playa del Carmen has certainly not disappointed us with its dining options.

One of our local favorites in Playa del Carmen is Da GiGi, located on 5th Avenue between 32nd and 34th Streets, with other locations in the Riviera Maya.  Owner and operator Gigi and his master chefs have been serving up delicious Italian food and pizzas for over a decade.  They make a point to personally check on diners and socialize with them, making the dining experience more personalized.  It has become the place to see and be seen as many local politicians and celebrities dine here as well.  The 5th Avenue location has both outdoor and indoor dining options.  If you choose outdoors make sure to pay a visit inside to see the amazing restaurant decor and layout personally designed by GiGi.

A newbie on the Playa dining scene is El Mero Negrillo, located right around the corner from our house on 26th Street between 5th and 10th Avenues.  Modeled after their sister restaurant in Veracruz, Mexico, El Mero serves fresh Veracruzano style seafood at reasonable prices.  We like to order as an appetizer the oyster sampler (be aware it is very spicy) and then randomly choose one of their many seafood offerings as a main dish.  When in doubt just ask their friendly and accommodating bilingual staff.

Our favorite restaurant, El Camello Jr. (Camel Jr.), is not even located in Playa del Carmen, but rather is 45 minutes south in Tulum.  Situated at the most southern end of Tulum on the eastern side of the main highway, El Camello sits in a very nondescript building with plastic tables and chairs out front.  It's always packed with locals, and has yet to disappoint us.  The fried whole fish was incredible, as well as the fish fillet with garlic and the grilled squid.  Quite frankly we have been ecstatic with every meal so far.  El Camello Jr. offers twice the quality at half the price.

Who would have thought two foodies like Allan and I could move from a dining hub like Boston to a sunny beach town like Playa del Carmen and be satisfied with our dining options?  I can comfortably say when dining out the food in Playa is fresher and costs a fraction of what it would in Boston.  Although the cuisine is not as ethnically diverse as Boston, there are a variety of ethnic establishments in Playa.  Even though we do miss some of the diversity in terms of food, we can always calm our cravings on trips back to Massachusetts.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Cenote Chaak-Tun in Playa del Carmen

For the 3 years we have been living in Playa del Carmen, we never knew there was such a nice cenote in town.  Cenote Chaak-Tun is situated across the highway on Juarez, approximately 1 mile past where the pavement ends and dirt road begins.  It's frequented in the mornings by various tour groups and has proven to be most popular.  We arrived around 1pm after the crowds had left and enjoyed a quiet afternoon in the cool depths, worlds away from the blazing summer heat.

Pay only $50 pesos for locals or $100 pesos for foreigners at the main entrance, grab your hard hat and life jacket which are included in the admission price and take a pleasant jaunt back a few hundred feet down a well-maintained walkway through what remains of the jungle in Playa, among a variety of singing birds, lush green trees and canopy of winding vines.  My mind began to imagine what it would have been like for the Mayans living in the jungle.  How did they manage to navigate through the thick brush amid a myriad of crawling creatures?

The walkway continues to the mouth of the cave, past some low ceilings where one has to duck (hence the hard hats).  The cave opens to a center courtyard with tall trees rising into the jungle and a variety of singing birds which sound like monkeys.  The cenote then continues deeper, greeting visitors with a ceiling of stalactites, which almost looks like something out of a horror movie.

Janet, Marilou and I customarily explored the dry part of the cenote on the well-marked path, appreciating the intricate limestone formations, which are ornate and sizable.  However, my primary desire besides getting out of the office on a Friday was to take a cool dip into the very fresh crystal clear water.  We spent about 1/2 hour in the water which ranges from several inches deep to way over my head.  Snorkelers can appreciate a stone replica of the Virgin of Guadeloupe in the water at the bottom at the back of the cenote.  It takes a bit of luck and a bit of courage to actually find the carving, but it is well worth the visit.  The swim also affords the opportunity to better explore up close the limestone formations which are just as worthy as almost any other cenote we've visited.

After visiting the first cave, we exited the cenote, past the main entrance to visit a second one next door which is actually part of the same attraction.  The second one is accessed by a winding staircase that ends at a ceremonial alter which appears to be autentic.  The water in the second cenote was much cloudier.  (We could not see the bottom.)  Regardless, it was well worth the jaunt as the rock formations on the walls were this white milky color which almost looked haunting.

In short I'd say Cenote Chaak-Tuk is well worth the very short trip down Juarez for some local cenote fun.  We will surely be returning to help cool off during the hot summer.  As winter approaches us locals find the cenote water too cool, so we will have to visit now as we won't be going back until next summer.

Janet and Marilou at the entrance to Cenote Chaak-Tun

Marilou and Janet before entering the cave

The horror movie like entrance to the cenote

Janet and I posing with pleasure

Meaning through the water

The milky ghost-like limestone formations

The Virgin of Guadalupe carved into the limestone

Saturday, August 6, 2011

My First Ticket for a Traffic Infraction

I received my first citation for a traffic infraction the other day.  Heading down Juarez on our ATV I made an illegal u-turn, then proceed to pull over at a nearby bank.  Almost immediately a traffic cop on foot approached, explained how I had made an illegal u turn and then just looked at me.  I think he was expecting me to apologize and/or offer him a "tip".  When I did neither he asked for my license and registration and told me I could go into the bank to finish my business and he would have a ticket ready for me.

After about an hour in the bank I exited and met up with the officer who had a traffic ticket waiting.  He then handed me a questionnaire which I was supposed to fill out grading the officer's service.  It asked a variety of questions including: Did he provide his name?  Was he polite?  Did he explain the offense?  I actually thought the whole experience was quite comical.  The officer just fined me and I am supposed to now provide an unbiased opinion of how I was treated?  You've got to be kidding me.

I tried to relay the humor to the officer, wondering if he understood the irony.  He sort of just shrugged it off, as if it was just part of the job.  I don't think he got it.  Regardless I gave him a glowing review being the nice guy I am.  After all I probably could have gotten out of the whole thing by just forking over $200 pesos to him for his time.  However, I wasn't willing to encourage corruption and I wanted to see if he really was going to give me a ticket.  And if he did, I was interested to see what the whole experience of paying a ticket in Mexico was like.

The fine was only about $20 USD in total, after a significant discount for paying it within the first 5 days.  Another notable highlight was the officer giving me the option of handing over either my license or my registration which they would hold until I paid the ticket.  I opted to forfeit my Mexican motorcycle license, which I did get back when I paid the ticket the next day at the police precinct on the Arco Vial, just north of town.

It seems kind of funny that me, someone who usually does abide by traffic laws, who never runs lights and almost never makes illegal turns gets a ticket the one time I do.  I guess it will just help to keep me on the straight and narrow.  I wonder if I wrote down that the officer did a horrible job whether or not he would have handed in the questionnaire?  What if I wrote he was handsome and gave him my number?

Overall the whole experience was harmless.  I paid about the same amount in the end, but I was without my license for a day and did have to spent about 1/2 hour paying the fine and picking up my license.  I think I'll opt for the ticket just for the humor of having to rate my experience with the officer on a questionnaire.  I'm glad law enforcement is seeking to enhance their image by using feedback from offenders placed on questionnaires.  However, the irony just kills me.

Mizi Playing Dress Up with Some Friends

Demi who is Always Happy

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Exploring Valladolid, Cenote Zaci, Centote Dzitnup and Uyama

Tucked away 1.5 hours away from Playa del Carmen in the interior of the Yucatan, 1/2 way between Playa del Carmen and Merida is the beautiful colonial city of Valladolid.  Draped in beautifully colored facades and assembled with boxed shaped architecture with framed doors, windows and roofs, Valladolid's architecture boldly boasts it's colonial roots in a kaleidoscope of muted pastels.  Meandering around the winding streets one can easily get lost among the interesting shops.

Allan and I, along with friends Jim, Janet, Marilou, and Isa are staying at the Maria de la Luz ( a no frills, $40 USD/night hotel with pool right on the city center square with decent double beds and unbeatable location.   I walk out the front door and am greeted with the hustle and bustle of city life as it bends around the city square.  At night the Church of San Gervasio with dual spires looms over the rooftops and shines like a beautiful medallion.

Day and night I feast on rich and creamy homemade coconut ice cream with pieces of whole coconut.  It certainly helps to beat the heat and humidity which is noticeably more oppressive than at the coast.  However, the beauty and charm of Valladolid make any temporary discomfort more tolerable.  We enjoyed a delicious breakfast on the city square at the Meson de Marquez with cool interior courtyard with green grass, water fountain, hanging plants and Mexican art on the walls.

The perfect way to really escape the weather is to visit Cenote Zaci which is right off the city square.  A large round bowl shape, the cenote is half covered with a large lofty roof with some stalactites.  The deepest part of the cenote reaches a depth of 300 feet below the surface of the green water.  For adventurous types like me there is a rope swing and many places to jump or dive including a 36 foot / 12 meter platform which I could not get up enough courage to use even though an 8 year old boy jumped off at least 2x right in front of me.  Winding down the edge of the cenote down the stairs to the base, the temperature seems to drop 20 degrees.

We also explored Cenote Dzitnup, roughly a 15 minute drive north west of the city.  Most remarkable were the children on Sunday who ran up to the car eager to "watch" your car for a few pesos.  We were most taken with these kids with their eager faces, strong personalities, quick hands, shifty eyes and cute devilishness features.   We agreed to have them "watch" the vehicle, which they did quite well, but considering how entertaining and enterprising they were to try to squeeze as much money out of us as possible, in the end we probably gave them $300 pesos (roughly $25 USD) which we gladly thought would buy them a few good treats to enjoy their day.

Cenote Dzitnup is an underground cavernous cenote with domed roof, large stalactites and crystal clear water.  Unfortunately on a Sunday it was overly crowded and felt more like a public pool than a pristine oasis.  Although I did jump in briefly to cool off, half our group refrained, while the other eagerly plunged into the cool depths.

On the way home from Valladolid we stopped at the town of Uyama with it's beautiful red, white and blue church.  Once a major stopping point between Merida and Valladolid, Uyama was once a very bustling town.  Now a days it's a very quiet town with nothing more really than a beautiful church built from the stones of the Mayan pyramids.

Even though our weekend away was a short one, it was nice to finally take off two days in a row and relax.  We are looking forward to doing more exploring now that things are slowing down for the summer.

The children of Ditznup sing romantic folk tales. "Tirame la lima, tirame el limon, tirame las llaves de tu lindo corazon..." (Throw me a lime, throw me a lemon, throw me the keys to your pretty heart..."

Allan dances with the children of Ditznup.

Me, Marilou, Allan, Jim, Janet and Isa in Valladolid
Downtown Valladolid with the Colorful Colonial Architecture
Church of San Servacio in the City Center of Valladolid
Cenote Zaci

Cenote Zaci
Janet, Me, Marilou, Jim and Allan at Cenote Zaci
Waitress at the Meson de Marquez in the Valladolid City Center
Allan and the Children at Cenote Dzitnup

Allan and a girl at Cenote Dzitnup



Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Time Flies When You are Spending it with Great Friends

It's hard to believe it's been 4 months since my last blog entry.  I could blame work or my active social life.  I think the creative part of my brain shuts off when I am very busy for better or worse, and I am left wondering where the past 4 months have gone.  It can't be said that I can't remember what happened as I vividly recall what seems like almost every moment of my life in Playa.

Above all what's remarkable about our existence in this beach mecca are the wonderful friends we have made.  Some have traversed that level of great friends and dug deeper down to that elemental level of family where you feel like they are a part of you.  Perhaps this group of misfits we call friends who are mostly retired and have moved away from their family and friends are searching to rebuild the networks that are lacking now that they have moved abroad.

I think Playa del Carmen as a concept supports the dynamic of building strong friendships based on this uprooting and overabundance for many of free time.  This magical friendship and family building has certainly made our lives more exciting and full.  Time sure flies when you are having fun with great friends.

The other night we had a dinner, a small one of sorts, with some of our closer friends.  There were 13 in attendance counting us, and we certainly could include many more into the group of "close friends" who were not in attendance.


Neil and I.  Neil was a park supervisor in Portland Oregon and now spends 6 months in Playa and 6 months traveling in his RV in the US/Canada with his lovely wife, Marge.  This summer they are spending 2 months in Europe.

Jim and Janet, formerly of Philadelphia. Jim is a retired from the fire department and Janet is a potter turned painter.  They live in Playa full time.
Neil along with Scot and Vicki.  Scott was a dentist who lived next to my hometown, and Vicki his wife worked in physiology.  They spend about 1/2 the year in Playa and the other 1/2 traveling the world.
Diane and I.  Diane and her husband Brent are originally from Canada.  Now full time residents of Mexico, Brent spends about 1/2 the year working in the oil industry in places like Dubai, Spain and Vietnam.
Marilou, Marge and I.  Marilou is from the US and now lives in Playa year round.  Marge is Neil's wife, and she also worked for Portland's park services.  Both Marilou and Marge make excellent jewelry.
Marilou and Allan
Gayle and Steve, from Minnestoa.  Steve worked in computers and Gayle worked in the public school system.  They spend a few months a year in Playa.
Henry, Marge and Neil's unofficial adopted son, originally from the Dominican Republic, along with Marge and the waiter/manager Miguel.