I know… I made a huge announcement a month ago then dropped off the face of the earth. Well, I’m still making frequent updates on my Facebook page so my followers know what’s been going on, but the blog has been lonely since mid-April!
April 25 was my last day at the travel agency, so I went back home to Virginia for a week to visit family. I even had my first official day “on the job” blogging from a Starbucks with my dad in my hometown of Richmond (tried to get a people-free picture, but as it turns out Starbucks is a popular place):
Ever since I got back to Cancun, I’ve been playing catch-up with my new jobs. I love every single one (there are 3… well, 1 big one and 2 small-ish ones) but I’ve had a hard time figuring out my new schedule with all the changes going on. Haven’t gotten into a groove yet, although I do love FINALLY being able to blog from my favorite Cancun Starbucks terrace:
Since Monday, I’ve been staying at Sandos Caracol resort in the Riviera Maya. My biggest job is the copywriter and blogger for Sandos resorts, so I get to stay at all their Mexico resorts over the next few months. I’ll be at Sandos Caracol through Friday, then at Sandos Playacar next week, then at Sandos Cancun in June. It’s kind of like a vacation, although I am mostly working. My “office” changes a little every day:
It’s been my dream for a long time to work from resorts and blog while on frequent vacations, but oh boy is it crazy. Even when I’m supposed to be relaxing, I keep feeling like I should be writing something. The brain needs an “off” switch!
We also cleared out the storage room at home to create a new office. I’ve only gotten to use it for 1 week (and won’t use it again until sometime in June), but that’s ok because right now it looks like this:
Not glamorous at all. Lawn furniture, recycling crates and a cheap tablecloth do not an office make.
It’s been a whirlwind and it will continue to be a whirlwind, but hopefully over time I’ll get used to having numerous projects going on at once. A big new day planner has been my lifesaver in scheduling when and where to write everything I need to!
There have also been a few beach days in there plus a trip to Akumal I never wrote about. Soon, amigos!
“Why are you quitting a job that thousands of people would kill for?”
That’s what a friend told me last week, and the very sentence that has been haunting me for the past few days.
Ever since I graduated university in Cancun over 3 years ago, I’ve had the same great job as a copywriter for a large local travel agency. The pay is good (for Mexico, anyway), the hours are normal (hard to find in a tourist city), the coworkers are awesome, and it has never once stressed me out. It has been the one job that I do not wake up dreading to go to.
But as nice as it has been to have a safe office job, it’s not the reason that I moved to Cancun 8 years ago.
Thanks to this blog, I have gotten some exciting freelance work over the past few years. It’s been so thrilling to get my name out there as a blogger in paradise, and I started to realize that I was passionate about sharing Cancun with the world. Now, my dream of being able to blog full time from home has finally come true! And by “home”, I mean a mix of my house, several Starbucks locations and maybe even the beach.
I’m fully aware that blogging will probably be a lot more work and a lot less predictability.
But ya know what? It will also be a lot more fun.
You can work from a laptop in the ocean, right?
Thanks to all of my readers for the unbelievable support in making this possible. Y’all are the best. I will definitely keep everyone posted on the cool work that I’ll be doing.
It’s time for this gringa to work hard and play hard!
During our trips to the village of Chabihau, we love to stop by and visit Tía Ofelia and Tío Cance for some timbas and machacados. (They’re not really tíos. They’re second cousins.) They own a little shop right by the entrance into town, with sand floors and 3 tables.
This trip, I decided to document the process because I haven’t seen these anywhere else, although I’m sure they exist somewhere.
Jorge and I spotted the mamey fruit sitting on the right side of the fruit shelf, so he opted for a timba de mamey while I chose the healthier machacado de mamey.
First, Ofelia scoops the fruit into a glass.
Then mashes it up with a mazo (wooden stick used in the kitchen for mashing things… that’s my official definition)
Next (my favorite part), Cance gets out the ice shaver…
…and puts a block of shaved ice into each glass.
Ofelia then pours a little vanilla into the mix.
The next part is what sets the timbas apart from the machacados: Jorge’s timba gets a sizeable dose of La Lechera cream, while my machacado gets zip.
To top it all off, another scoop of shaved ice!
Aaaand voila! The best beach snack ever.
A few more pics from our weekend in Chabihau. We stopped by our land to do some scouting, and ended up getting some coconuts from our palm trees. (Ok, Jorge and his cousin got them while I took pictures.)
Back at Jorge’s aunt’s house, my suegro was kind enough to grab his machete and chop open a hole in one of the coconuts so we could try some coconut water.
I was pretty proud because everyone was saying how our coconut water was some of the sweetest they’d ever had! I drank it straight this time, but Jorge’s uncles tell me it tastes great with ice and vodka. Duly noted.
My suegro was in the mood for some carne de coco (the inside part that you eat… not sure what it’s called in English), so he carved some out and ate it during the car ride back to Cancun.
Have you guys tried fresh coconut water before?
We just got back from yet another awesome weekend in Chabihau. Jorge’s been going his whole life and I’ve been going for 6 years, but it feels even more like home now that we’ve bought land there.
I have a bunch of stuff to share from our latest visit, but I’ll start with some flamingo pictures.
I’ve mentioned before that the Chabihau lagoon has tons of flamingos, even if they never venture too close to shore. This time, Jorge’s cousin Jimmy offered to take us out in a little boat (known as an “alijo”) to go out onto the lagoon to see the flamingos up-close. I’d been waiting for years, so I jumped at the opportunity!
The lagoon (technically it’s a salt flat) is only about 2 – 3 feet deep, despite it’s large size, so Jimmy was able to take us all the way across the lagoon gondola-style.
My favorite thing about the lagoon is all the birds! Before we even got to the flamingos, we saw this one huge group of pelicans and sandwich terns. Jimmy says they always hang out at this spot around sunset.
Think we scared them away, though…
About half an hour later, we’d reached the other side of the lagoon. I could see hundreds of flamingos way out on the horizon, and we had to speak very quietly so we wouldn’t scare them off.
Jimmy had warned us that if they saw us coming, they would start to walk in the opposite direction and it would be impossible to get close enough for a good picture.
Sure enough, they saw us coming from far away and did their best to keep their distance.
Still, thanks to some great maneuvering by cousin Jimmy the boatman, we were able to sneak up on one group by hiding behind a mangrove patch then sneaking closer.
Once they spotted us, they took off flying. But that’s ok because sometimes the in-flight pics are the best ones.
We decided to take advantage of the daylight we had left to sneak up on another group of flamingos. Again we snuck around a mangrove patch.
BAM! Close enough for some clearer pics!
After a few seconds, though, we were again spotted. The entire heard began to walk away to the left.
We followed alongside them (still from a distance) as best we could, but after a few minutes they got sick of us and once again decided to fly off.
It was starting to get dark, so we finally left the flamingos alone and headed back home to the other side of the lagoon. The sunset made for some nice pics!
Have you ever seen flamingos before? Where?
The past few weeks have been ridiculously busy (in the best way). Jorge and I are working a lot and taking lots of little vacations as always, so I have tons of pics to show you guys.
Today I’ll start with a day trip we did 2 weeks ago. It was a Sunday afternoon with not much to do, and I was dying to get out of the house. Naturally, I talked Jorge into taking me out into the sunshine to visit some Mayan ruins in Cancun’s Hotel Zone.
Yes, that’s a giant Cancun resort in the background. (The Iberostar)
Not many tourists know that we have a pretty big Mayan ruins site right here in the Hotel Zone. I asked Jorge why nobody ever came to Ruinas del Rey (took me 8 years to do it!) when it’s right here, really pretty and so cheap. In all his wisdom, Jorge told me that it’s probably because no tour company can sell it because you can just take a 5-minute bus ride, so nobody advertises it.
Well, here’s us advertising Ruinas del Rey!
We only saw maybe 5 other little groups while we were there… but what Ruinas del Rey doesn’t have in people, it makes up for in iguanas.
So. Many. Iguanas.
Ruinas del Rey is 500 meters long (about 1/3 mile), so there’s quite a bit to explore. I had always figured it would be a small site, but I was wrong!
Have any of you guys been to Ruinas del Rey yet?
Every single year the US and Canadian media start bashing Mexico right around Spring Break. It never fails. This year they grabbed on to a news story about a shooting at a Cancun bar. (Which, by the way, happened in a bad bar in a bad neighborhood and was just bad guys shooting bad guys, nothing to do with tourists or even innocent locals. I understand this kind of stuff happens in every city.)
Anyway, to combat the unsafe image of Cancun that many foreigners now have thanks to inflated media reports, the government has decided to send in the marines to Spring Break.
A little added police presence might be a nice way to help Spring Breakers feel a little safer, but I don’t think anybody feels good when they see dozens (seriously, dozens) of marines in fatigues carrying very, very large guns.
The past few times I’ve been to Party Center, I’ve seen lots of these guys:
I’m sure the city of Cancun has the best intentions here and really does want the tourists to just feel safe. Back in the States, if I were to see a pickup truck filled with men in fatigues and helmets carrying giant guns, I would instantly assume we were in a war zone. Mexico’s different though, and here that’s just how the authorities like to drive around. (I think they think it makes them look cool.)
It’s normal here in Cancun and doesn’t mean anything bad, but unfortunately I don’t think most tourists are used to seeing this:
What do you guys think? Would marines make you feel safer or less safe?
This year, Jorge and I had decided that we wanted to check out the Spring Break 2013 atmosphere in Cancun. We’re 27 years old now (!!), so we figured we should go to Spring Break before we got too old and started to look creepy.
Turns out that wasn’t a problem.
We went on a Friday night and were surprised to see that Party Center was PACKED, but not with crazy 18-year-olds like we were expecting. Most of the people we saw in the street were about our age (mid-20s) and there were plenty of people in their 30s, 40s and up as well! (There were college kids, too, just not as many as we were expecting for Spring Break.)
It was also about 80% guys. That’s good news for the ladies, I guess.
Proof of all the guys
Even though it wasn’t a typical “Spring Break” crowd, it was still a cool atmosphere! And now we know that we’re free to go back to party no matter what our age.
We spent the night at Mandala, which I’d never been to before. Soooo many people! I didn’t have the best time mainly because of the music. Anyone who knows me knows that I HATE techno music with a burning passion. Unfortunately, clubs have started playing almost entirely techno songs over the past few years. I just can’t have fun with techno music playing. Had to fake it most of the night before they finally played a few hip hop and pop songs around 2 am.
Musical preferences aside, Mandala was still a pretty cool club.
And just to show you what Party Center looks like during Spring Break, here are some street pics:
Have you been to Spring Break in Cancun?
Here in Mexico, you can often hear the expression “la última y nos vamos” (last one, then we leave) in reference to one last beer before heading home.
Last night Jorge and I went out with some friends and decided to stop by one last bar, where our buddy Carlos said, “la última y nos vamos”.
Then, this showed up at our table:
There were only 3 people drinking beer.
By Laura Winfree
“I don’t go on many car trips, but when I do…”
“…I climb over everybody to get to the window.”