15
Apr

In Case I Ever Complain About Anything…

…just remind me of this post.

Last night was the whole “blood moon” thing, which I was too tired to see. However, lots of Cancun locals headed to the beach to see it. I just happened to be in the Hotel Zone with Joge’s family last night, and around 11pm we decided to buy some pizza and head to Playa Delfines, otherwise known as “El Mirador”. (Just picture this beach, but at night.)

We ate pizza and drank Coca Cola using one of those little palapa-table things, while everyone else around us set up their telescopes in preparation for the blood moon. We didn’t stick around nearly long enough to see it, but it was an amazing hour of family, ocean breezes, a full moon and lots of other Cancun locals enjoying it just like we were.

I have to remind myself that those are the moments I’ll always remember. Beach nights, full moons, pizza parties… not sitting around staring at my cell phone.

14
Apr

How to Talk to God

Jorge and I went to his cousin’s first communion at a small, open-air Catholic church close to our house over the weekend.

While we were there, I picked up this piece of wisdom:

 

“God is speaking to you today, but not on your cell phone.”

 

9
Apr

Before and After: Garden Gone Wild

So about 2 years ago we decided to spruce up the little backyard of our rental house, putting in a patio of sorts, planting palm trees and getting rid of a large tree that we just HATED. Here’s how it all began:

After some back-breaking work (not for me, but for Jorge haha), we had this:

It turns out the palm trees LOVE their home, because they have been growing like crazy… especially the California palm in the corner. Here’s what the yard looked like today:

At one point we even moved my orchid tree from the front to the backyard. For awhile there things weren’t looking so hot…

But now the orchid tree is growing strong!

When we put the palm trees and patio in, we were hoping to be able to use the backyard more for lunch, coffee, etc. Sadly, that hasn’t happened at all! As of right now, there is just way too much sun and way too little shade to be able to really enjoy the space. I’m hoping that as the palm trees start to give more shade, it will be a better spot. For now, it’s a nice place for the dogs to hang out, plus I have a view from my office.

27
Mar

Yucatan Weekend! Mayan Architecture and Magic Towns

As all my Facebook and Instagram followers know, Jorge and I were in Yucatan recently! We toured Chichen Itza and the town of Valladolid. (Valladolid is about 1 hour and 30 minutes from Cancun, and Chichen Itza is about 2 hours and 30 minutes.)

It was Jorge’s very first time at Chichen Itza and my third. Sometimes I feel that even though I’m the gringa and he’s the Mayan, I know a lot more ancient Mayan culture than he does haha I guess that’s what happens when you become a travel writer. As soon as we got there, Jorge was blown away. I rarely see him get this excited about anything that’s not a video game.

Our first stop was El Castillo pyramid, Chichen Itza’s most famous structure. This is also the one that has the descending shadow snake on the spring equinox! There were people behind us the whole time clapping because if you clap from certain points, it echoes back from the top of the pyramid and sounds like an eagle.

Also, like so many women do, I have married a man who is very much like my father. We always joke that my dad can’t go anywhere without seeing somebody he knows, and Jorge is no different. At Chichen Itza, we ran into his cousins!

We stayed at Chichen Itza for about 4 hours total, and I have one recommendation: less souvenir stands, more water stands! The amount of salesmen blowing their “jaguar call” whistles was ok for about 2 minutes, but the rest of the day I felt like I wanted to punch them. If you ever visit Chichen Itza, I hope you enjoy several hours of fake jaguar calls in your ear. And I only found 2 water stands the entire day, which is pretty difficult when you’re exploring an entire city with little shade. Travel tip: Bring your own water to Chichen Itza. Lots of water. Other than that, we loved it! Most people only know El Castillo and maybe the Observatory, but Chichen Itza has so many other structures! A large structure surrounded by thousands of pillars, beautiful artwork, small platforms, even more large pyramids you’ve never heard of, and a huge Mayan ball game court.

If you look closely at these pillars, you can see the engravings of Mayan warriors. Jorge loved these!

So… do you think you can get a ball through this hoop using only your hips to touch the ball? It’s probably for the best that you can’t, because the winning team of the Mayan ball game was sacrificed to the gods as an honor.

After Chichen Itza, we spent a night in Valladolid. Mexico has a “Magic Town” campaign where towns across the country are recognized for their culture, history and attractions. Valladolid is one of Mexico’s “Magic Towns”. I didn’t take many pictures because I was  tired of playing photographer after the day at Chichen Itza.

The evening was spent watching cultural dancing by a park, hanging out in the main plaza, eating dinner by the main plaza and taking pictures of the cathedral.

We stayed at Hotel San Clemente, which I HIGHLY recommend! A few Facebook acquaintances highly recommended Meson del Marques hotel which is right on the square, but sadly it was out of our budget. However, Hotel San Clemente did not disappoint… right next door to the cathedral, pool, pretty courtyard, lots of hot water and a spacious room, all for $450 pesos a night (less than $40 USD). Next time I might spend the extra money just to stay in a hotel or B&B with more charm and style, but Hotel San Clemente was an amazing deal. Here’s the view from our room’s door:

In the morning, we crossed the main square to enjoy breakfast at the Valladolid market because you can’t spend a morning in Valladolid without breakfast at the market. I got a huge plate of fruit and Jorge got all kinds of tacos. Next we stopped by Casa de los Venados, which is a colonial home that was once abandoned and now has been renovated by an American couple as their house and a museum. You can go on a guided tour for about 1 hour, and all the bedrooms, courtyard, kitchen, living room, etc are filled with Mexican folk art. I’ve never seen anything like it! I wanted to focus on the experience instead of the pictures so I have nothing to show from my visit, but you can check out the Casa de los Venados website here.

Well that’s all I’ve got from our Yucatan trip! Jorge and I hope to go to Izamal in the future, and return to Valladolid with more time and more money.

22
Mar

How to Speak Like a Mexican: Media Naranja

Many of you may recall from your high school Spanish classes that the word naranja means orange!

But let’s take things a little further, shall we?

Media naranja literally means “half an orange” or “orange half”, but it’s also a common phrase used in reference to your significant other or your soulmate.

Example: Jorge es mi media naranja. = Jorge is my soulmate.

I’m not sure where this phrase came from, but I guess it’s to communicate the idea that two halves make a whole person… kind of a “you complete me” kind of thing. Plus everyone loves oranges, right?

 

16
Mar

Rapsodia Bazar: Showcasing Cancun’s Designers and Artists

I cannot stress enough just how happy I am that Cancun is starting to create its very own art culture.

This weekend was yet another example thanks to Rapsodia Bazar. This little market has popped up 3 times now, showcasing local Cancun artists, designers and small business owners in a 1-day event.

Saturday was my second time at Rapsodia Bazar (more on my 1st visit here), and this time they hosted the event at the large park in the Supermanzana 20 neighborhood of downtown Cancun. I didn’t make it there until 7pm and it was already dark. I also hear they had a lot more stuff earlier in the day, which surprised me because there was still quite a lot left!

Here’s a taste of what I found:

Overall I loved the location in the park, and I found tons of stuff I considered buying. My only complaint would be that some of the items didn’t seem very unique. I saw very similar items at different tables, especially some of the jewelry.

I only bought 1 thing this time: yet another piece of art by Michelle Bordon! (See Michelle’s Facebook page here.)I bought a toucan drawing from her at the last Rapsodia Bazar, and this time I bought a very large hermit crab. Normally I’m not much of an art freak, but I can’t get enough of these. They’re done with pen! This guy is gonna go in my office:

Thank you Rapsodia Bazar for contributing to Cancun’s cultural scene! You can follow Rapsodia Bazar on Facebook here.

15
Mar

I’ll Never Be Happy With Normal Food Again

It’s good to have a press pass.

Today I got to go with a bunch of friends to the Gourmet Tasting Village at the Cancun Riviera Maya Wine & Food Festival! And Oh. My. Goodness. We had the best time!

We spent two hours devouring sample sizes of gourmet food created by restaurants, caterers and resorts in the Cancun and Riviera Maya region! Some of it was just “meh”, but most of it was unbelievable. The event also had lots and lots of wine to sample, but our little group was so intently focused on the food that we kinda forgot about the wine. Whoops!

Here are some of my favorite pics… I won’t share all of them because I don’t want to ruin the surprises for anyone who is going to the Gourmet Tasting Village on Sunday.

The Gourmet Tasting Village is still going on Sunday afternoon, March 16 from 2 – 5 pm. (You’ll want to get there at 2 because trust me, you need the full 3 hours.) If you like the Cancun Riviera Maya Wine and Food Festival on Facebook, you can even get passes at 2 for the price of 1!

Buy your tickets here.

 

3
Mar

The Press Conference that Turned Me Into a Foodie

Amazing things don’t usually happen on Wednesdays… but last Wednesday, something pretty amazing happened to me.

A media friend of mine invited me to a press conference for the Cancun Riviera Maya Wine and Food Festival. Most press conferences are just the event organizers sitting at a table answering press questions and having their picture taken, but this was something else! I showed up to the beautiful Casa Rolandi and was taken to a large table with this view:

And the view from the deck! These are all pictures of the Nichupte Lagoon.

I was soon joined by my friend Kelly (aka Cancun Canuck). Figures the American and the Canadian would be the first to show up. As the rest of the group trickled in, it became clear that this was no ordinary press conference… we had just sat down to a multi-course tasting lunch with the founder and marketing team of the Cancun Riviera Maya Wine and Food Festival!

Along with some other bloggers and “tweeters”, I feasted on course after course while the festival organizers told us all about the Cancun Riviera Maya Wine and Food Festival for 2014. This is the region’s biggest food event, and it’s known for its luxury events, celebrity chefs, wine tastings, and upscale dinners hosted at some of the area’s best hotels and venues. Founder David Amar said, “We strive to showcase the world’s food and wine projects and the stories behind it… Even more than the names, it’s the story behind WHY.”

But back to my lunch! Had I known what I had gotten myself into, I would have brought my trusty Nikon camera. But alas, I’ll have to make due with my cell phone pictures. Here are just a few of the courses we had at Casa Rolandi:

My favorite, the white fish sashimi

Everything you need to make tiny pork tacos

My pork taco creation

Would you believe I have never gotten one of these fancy platters before?

Lamb and sweet potato. Wow.

 

Just when I thought nothing could beat the sashimi, Casa Rolandi proved me wrong. They brought out the dessert.

I usually go by the rule, “If it’s not chocolate, it’s not worth my time” when it comes to dessert. I was wrong. So wrong. I’m not 100% sure what this is. I believe it’s some kind of large macaroon with a passion fruit or mango ice cream. Either way, it blew my taste buds away.

 

After that lunch, I felt like a true cuisine connoisseur! It really got me revved up for the Cancun Riviera Maya Wine and Food Festival. The festival’s events will mostly take place in the Cancun area this year (last year they were in the Riviera Maya). It will run March 13 – 16, 2014 with events like celebrity chef cook-offs, wine tastings (as well as mezcal, champagne and whiskey!) with top sommeliers, the Gourmet Tasting Village and a yacht cruise to Isla Mujeres. Their goal is to increase the luxury tourism market in the Cancun – Riviera Maya area with several days of upscale culinary events.

For all the information on the events and guest chefs, stop by the Cancun Riviera Maya Wine and Food Festival website. See you there!

 

27
Feb

A Night at Parque Las Palapas

Parque Las Palapas is one of my favorite places in Cancun. It’s not particularly fancy and there’s no ocean view, but the atmosphere is great.

This park (and I use the term loosely because it’s mostly paved) has a food area where you can buy tacos, tortas, etc, along with tons of junk food carts (yum!) and vendors selling tables of used books, traditional clothing, handmade jewelry and more.

Last time I went, it just happened to be the night of the pageant to crown the Junior King and Queen for the upcoming Cancun Carnaval. There was a pretty big crowd gathered around the main stage at Parque Las Palapas. I guessed that the girl in the blue dress was going to win because her dress was the most sparkly. And she won!

After the pageant, my friends and I strolled around the park and just took it all in. Lots of families, kids running around, and a group of guys playing drums for tips. It’s a fun place to just hang out with the people of Cancun.

If you’re ever in downtown Cancun one evening and want to see where all the local families go, stop by Parque Las Palapas and just walk around for a bit. Maybe buy some jewelry. Parque Las Palapas is located near the ADO  bus station, just between Avenida Tulum and Avenida Yaxchilan.

21
Feb

Release the Turtles!

I have to admit that my life is pretty cool. I got to spend my Monday morning on a Caribbean beach watching young sea turtles swim in the ocean for the first time.

This photo was taken by my friend Pamela Acosta on Monday morning. God bless GoPro cameras.

Xcaret park in the Riviera Maya invited a bunch of us over for the day to see the first sea turtle release of their 2014 season. Here in the Cancun / Riviera Maya area, mother sea turtles come to our beaches to nest and lay their eggs. Many local volunteers, companies and resorts have baby sea turtle programs where they rope off turtle nests to keep them from harm, then releases the newborns into the sea to make sure they get there safely. (The path from the nest to the ocean can be perilous for them!) Only 1 out of 1,000 of these newborns will reach adulthood.

However, Xcaret goes a step further to increase their odds of survival in the wild by caring for the turtles until they reach 15 months. So, throughout February and March 2014, Xcaret will be releasing a few of their 15-month old sea turtles every day at noon on their amazing beach!

The water was STUNNING. Oh my gosh. The water. Wow.

And the turtles had a paparazzi-like crowd to make them feel like celebrities.

They let the kids form a group for each turtle, then release them one at a time. It was one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen!

What a great way to start the week. Thanks Xcaret!