A Mexican adventure in honour of Leyla Mae Bell



Leyla Mae Bell, our beautiful granddaughter sadly lost her fight for life in January 2023. She slipped away quietly in the arms of her doting parents who, just like their daughter, demonstrated feats of strength and resilience normally regarded to be beyond the scope of most people. I wrote about the brave battle fought by our beautiful baby girl in an earlier article as did her mum on our voices from another mother feature:

: https://sandraemanning.com/voices-from-anot…ther-savana-bell/


Longevity was never destined to be in Leyla’s gift but she touched so many lives during her brief time with us not least, those babies who will benefit from the advances in medical science that were made possible because of her. Bless you baby girl we will love you always, and miss you forever.

#TeamLeyla   #ShareYourWishes   #organdonationawareness   #savealife

It is a basic human instinct to try and avoid anything that has the potential to cause us emotional, pain. However, I have known and witnessed enough of it in my lifetime to understand that even when the desire to circumvent what we should face is strong, it is rarely a good idea to try to do so.

Given that my route to gaining an understanding of this has been hard-earned, I can’t easily explain why I thought that running away to Mexico to reflect on what happened to Leyla, might somehow lessen the pain of losing her. In fact, the painful experiences which became something of a defining feature of our trip only confirmed to me that karma will always extract its price.


Why choose Mexico? Because after using the ‘stick a pin in the map method’ to select a destination nobody fancied Fucking, Which, I kid you not, is the legitimate name of a town in Austria about 20 miles north of Salzburg.

So, after a ten-hour flight, we landed instead at Cancun airport. Now, I have passed through many airports in my life but never one as chaotic as this. It took us over three hours to navigate our way through it, after which, we were assured that our transfer to the resort would take no more than forty-five minutes. Enter Pedro our tour guide, whose manipulations of weary travellers were so skilled that we were still laughing at his well-scripted jokes some two and a half hours later in the dead of night.

When daylight broke we were thrilled to find ourselves in what could only be described as a stunning location, despite it being an all-inclusive venue which would never be my first choice of a holiday. However, it did mean that a lot of practical considerations such as eating and drinking were taken care of, leaving us with more time to contemplate and reflect on all that had happened.

Problem? Not only was I fully reflected and contemplative to the point of boredom in a relatively short time, but I was also becoming increasingly irked by the sight of lines of people snaking their way to the buffet every couple of hours. It reminded me of childhood holidays when we were taken to camps with not-dissimilar routines. There were some obvious differences in that the weather was great, the food wasn’t crap and the entertainment was more Mariachi and Marimba than Hi de Hi.

Nevertheless, a growing sense of confinement was becoming a very real issue for me and whilst the security of tourists in Mexico is generally very good in the resorts, the same is not necessarily true of some of the areas surrounding them. Rather than take the risk of venturing out alone, we decided it was more sensible to book an organised tour instead, the compromise being a huge blow to my spirit of adventure.

If our experiences at Cancun airport and our subsequent transfer to the resort hadn’t been enough to give us a hint that manana best describes the Mexican approach to timekeeping, then this trip was about to provide the definitive proof that it was.

Our transport (think builders van with air-conditioning and extra seating) arrived an hour late and we proceeded to make a couple of other pickups as previously advised. After this, we were taken to a jewellery factory where we had expected to stop for an hour before making our way to the coastal resort of Playa Del Carmen.

On arrival at the jewellery factory, we were quickly under pressure to buy what we were assured was heavily discounted jewellery, but because nothing was priced there was no way to calculate any legitimate savings. Our disinterest prompted an invitation to the ‘free’ tequila bar in the hope this would help us loosen our grip on the Mexican pesos’ purse strings.

We refused, determined to keep clear heads we elected to return to the reception to watch the Mexican dancers and wait for our transport to arrive, which it did, two and a half hours late.

This is a very long time to spend watching the same five-minute sequence of Mexican dancing on repeat without the benefit of the tequila we had been so blase about refusing earlier. All the while, being watched by a mob of Mexican jewellery makers whose smug grins were barely concealed beneath their handlebar moustaches.

Playa Del Carmen, when we finally made it for the two hours we had left to explore it, was equally underwhelming. The coast was beautiful enough, but our visit was marred by an argument with a waiter over the size of his tip during our quest for some authentic Mexican food. Even if, my instinct had been to challenge his demands for more money, I was soon dispossessed of the idea in a street patrolled by heavily armed national guards.

Later, whilst I was being chased around a souvenir shop by someone calling me Mamma and insistent that I drink tequila with him, my husband was offered drugs twice as he waited for me on the street outside. Of course, the builder’s van did not return to pick us up at the designated time, by which point the rush hour traffic along the one and only road back to the resort was at a standstill.  There was no way of knowing then, that this was probably the highlight of the whole Mexican adventure.

Our decision to remain confined to barracks after our excursion on the grounds of safety did not, however, prevent me from falling and bruising my arm and leg pretty badly. Two days before we were due to fly home my poor husband was admitted to the hospital overnight with an insect bite that they were concerned could lead to sepsis.

To further add to his woes he then underwent a surgical procedure, but without the benefit of anaesthetic as it had worn off by the time they got around to performing it. The results of the surgeon’s handiwork are still being rectified back in the UK as we speak. All of this despite more than adequate travel insurance yet still being forced to pay upfront before the hospital would even agree to start the treatment.

Should have gone to Fucking? Very, very probably!