Cancun's Party Center and Beach Restoration

On a quick errand with one of my best friends, Zareth (she’s a bridesmaid!) I brought my trusty camera along to take some pictures of a rarely seen phenomenon… Cancun’s party center, BY DAY! Enjoy!

Zareth in the alley connecting the calmer party center with the crazier party center

Yours truly!

Our shopping destination, Plaza Forum. Home of Coco Bongo, Carlos and Charlie's, Rainforest Cafe, and more!

New nightclub called "Sweet", replacing part of my beloved Dady Rock ūüôĀ I've heard rumors "por ahi" that it's a pretty cool place, but nobody's really sure yet

"Esto no esta aqui"

Inside Plaza Forum *Note to gringos: this plaza is mostly just for the turistas! Locals are usually too cool to be seen here in daylight hours

¬†We also took a few minutes to check out the view of the beach by Party Center, which was restored along with the rest of the Hotel Zone’s beaches a few months ago. I estimate that it’s about three times as big as it used to be.

The restored beach at Party Center, looking north

Let's go fly a kite...

Looking south

Huuuuuuuge beach!

Ah, the glamourous life in Cancun! ...um... can someone check to make sure guy-on-left isn't dead?

Outside Plaza Forum

The Terrasta, a favorite haunt of some of my friends

Party Center! Common phrases heard here: "Hello, ladies! You wanna go to Coco Bongo?" "Oh my goooooosh, you guys I think I left my purse at Dady O!" "Spring Break 2010! WOOOOOO!!"

Slices... any night your drive by, there WILL be drunk turistas here. Especially lady-turistas.

Wedding Plans, Mexico Style Part 2

Wedding plans are still going along swimmingly!

Mommy is busy making the wedding invitations by hand (go, Mommy, go!) and making my wedding dress (super Mommy!), thus saving massive amounts of money.

My damas (bridesmaids) will be measured to order their dresses next week. It took me weeks to find something they would all like. I finally decided on two different dresses… 3 damas in one dress, and 3 in another. Victory! It only took me about 30 seconds to choose my own dress!

Yes, my¬†damas’ dresses are BLACK. I know I’m insane. Still, they’re so cute, and it’s a color that they can use to any event later on, should they so choose. It contrasts really well with my dress, though! It will be pretty! I swear I’m not crazy! (I think “I swear I’m not crazy” is the battlecry for crazy people… whatever. It’s gonna be awesome.)

The damas and me are all worried about dress fittings! Some of us plan to lose weight, so hopefully adjustments to all dresses will be quick and easy.

My diet is going well! I eat things that I love, and I’ve lost about 10 pounds in the last 2 months without killing myself on some boring diet. Slow and steady is the way to go.

My parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins are all starting to look at hotels in Cancun for the week of the wedding. I’m so excited! For the first time in the last five years, I’ll have (almost) all of my favorite people in the same country. I almost cry just thinking about it. It’s really hard living in another country in that sense. No matter where you are, you’re always missing somebody. For one amazing week in July, that won’t be the case.

I really need to get started on candle-making soon. Figuring out what kind of candles I want might be an even better idea.

On a non-stressful topic, Fiance and I celebrate our 3-year boyfriend/girlfriend anniversary on Wednesday!!! It’s gonna be the last one!

Childhood Crushes: Atreyu vs. Rufio

Today at work, I got the theme song to The Neverending Story stuck in my head, which reminded me of an old childhood crush… Atreyu. After some curious googling, I’m afraid I have some bad news for all of the ladies of the eighties. Atreyu is no longer hot.

Atreyu before

Atreyu after

On a happier note, Rufio (Ru-Fi-OOOOOO) is looking as cute as ever!

Rufio before

Rufio after

Cancun Beach Recovery at Playa Delfines

Yesterday, the fiance and I took a trip down to the Hotel Zone to see how Cancun’s new beach construction had gone!¬†We stopped by Playa Delfines (aka El Mirador), right next to the Hilton, to take some pics. It looks pretty good!

For all of you non-Cancunenses who aren’t in the know, Hurricane Wilma took away most of Cancun’s beautiful beaches back in 2005. Soon after, some of the beaches were rebuilt. This year, millions more dollars were invested in expanding the beaches of the entire Hotel Zone.

I’m still worried about how long the sand will stay in place, since you can see a bit of a dropoff right¬†where the tide comes in, as if the tide is eating the coast.

The beach at the Hilton and beyond, looking north

Looking south

The fiance admiring the new and improved Playa Delfines

Ok... maybe not EVERYTHING at Playa Delfines was new and improved

Not sure what those guys are after... anyway, see the little dropoff right by the water??

Happy Monday, everybody!

Hacienda Teya in Merida, Yucatan: The Perfect Wedding Location

As many of you already know, I’m super super excited about having the wedding in Merida, Yucatan. It’s four hours away from Cancun, but we got an awesome deal on a stunning 17th century hacienda.
Here are some pics my fiance took on our visit there, so you can see why we love Hacienda Teya so much!
(Sadly, the pictures just don’t quite do it justice.)

Me with Suki the Poodle in front of the main building

The front entrance to Hacienda Teya

The entrance to the main building/reception hall... beautiful!

We'll do the ceremony here!

*sigh*

This is where the reception will be!

Beautiful views overlooking a garden

More pics to come later!

Ma√Īana √öltimo D√≠a para Apoyar a Hait√≠ con la Cruz Roja Canc√ļn

Dear Cancunenses,

Ma√Īana¬†es el √ļltimo d√≠a para donar a Hait√≠ por la Cruz Roja. Me parece que cierran a las 9 de la noche.

Les urgen:

-Pa√Īales (En Walmart del centro, pregunta a una empleada en la secci√≥n de beb√©s, y te dar√°n toallitas h√ļmedas en la compra de un paquete de pa√Īales.)

-Gerber

-Jab√≥n de ba√Īo

-At√ļn en agua

-Bactrim (Yo compré algo un poco más económico ayer, pero es la misma cosa.)

-Avapena

-Cubrebocas

Si no cuentas con $$ esta semana, puedes apoyar con tu tiempo. Necesitan gente para recibir donaciones y para empacar.

¬°Gracias por el apoyo!

Tearing Down the Ombligo Verde to Build Cancun's new City Hall

For those of you don’t know, Cancun seems to have outgrown its Palacio Municipal (City Hall), which is currently located on Avenida Tulum.

A new real estate project has begun in Cancun over the last few years, right by the bullring and near the entrance to the hotel zone, on the lagoon. It’s called Malecon Cancun (Cancun Boardwalk). Malecon Cancun will have new office buildings, high rise apartments, and also was supposed to have the new Palacio Municipal.

Around summer of 2009, it was decided that the new Palacio Municipal would no longer be built in Malecon Cancun, supposedly because developers didn’t want the locals running around where the fancy-schmancy foreign investors were.

Soooo where did they decide to put it? In the Ombligo Verde! (Yes, Ombligo Verde means “Green Bellybutton”‚Ķ I guess because it’s green and it’s in the middle of the city.)

Cancun pretty much has 2 large green areas‚Ķ one is Parque Kabah, an awesome park with botanical gardens, lots of animalitos and great areas for jogging and exploring. The other is the Ombligo Verde, which is about 1 minute from my house. It doesn’t have much in it currently, but it sure is nice to drive by!

So, instead of turning it into another nice park area, it will now be used for the Palacio Municipal. Here’s a before shot, with the Ombligo Verde¬†in the foreground:

 

After:

Isn’t it nice how they start taking trees down from the inside first, so that nobody can tell what’s going on?

Here’s what’s gonna go down in the end:

 

And here’s how the Cancunenses feel about it:

ombligo verde cancun

Hang in there, Parque Kabah! You’re all we have left!

Candy and Serenades: Every Girl's Nightmare for just Two Dollars!

Let me begin by saying that I have a lot of love and respect for the taxi drivers in Cancun. After 5 years of taking 2 or 3 taxis a day, I have had many a fascinating conversation with these fine people, and they are typically very respectful and friendly. That being said:

Ew Ew Ew Ew Ewwwww! Today’s commute was a horrific experience.

Normally, I love being carless in Cancun. I don’t have to hunt down parking spaces at Plaza Las Americas, I don’t have to try to read other drivers’ minds since apparently there are no traffic laws in Cancun, and I don’t have to pay “mordidas” (bribe money you pay to traffic cops to get out of a ticket‚Ķ even when you haven’t done anything illegal).

Thus, I am dependant on taxis to get almost anywhere. It’s not as bad as it sounds because you get pretty much anywhere in downtown Cancun for about 2 dollars.

Today, I hopped into a cab to go to work. About 5 minutes later, the cab driver offered me a Halls candy. I thought, “Golly gee, what a nice man. Still, I’m chewing gum, so I’ll pass.” I politely declined.

When we arrived at my office, the driver once again offered me a Halls.

“No, but thank you! Have a nice day!”

“Come on‚Ķ just try one.”

“Um‚Ķ no really‚Ķ it’s cool.”

“TRY ONE!” The driver now had an eerie glare and was shaking the Halls package at me.

“No thanks! Have a nice day! Bye!” I slammed the door and ran into the building.

Thank goodness I was sitting in the back seat! For years I always sat in the passenger seat. Since Cancun taxis are collective, that allowed the driver to pick up 2 or 3 more people in the back of the taxi, so long as they were going in the same direction.

I stopped sitting in the front seat a few weeks ago, when a charming taxi driver thought it wouldn’t be awkward at all to sing to me the entire way. That morning, I got to hear 4 songs by Pedro Infante (a famous Mexican actor and singer from the 40s) along with an original song that the driver had written for his daughter’s wedding.

That day, I was stuck between three thoughts. First, how does one respond to a serenading taxi driver? Second, how fast can I get out of this situation? Third, this guy has an amazing voice!

Since the serenading taxi driver incident, I always opt to sit in the back seat.

What have I learned from my taxi experiences? Ladies should always sit in the back seat, and nobody should ever accept candy from strangers.

Things I Did at Mexican College that I Wouldn't Have Done at American College

-Turn in¬†a title page and a folder¬†with EVERYTHING… even if it’s just a half-a-page homework assignment.

-Print everything… even if it’s just a half-a-page homework assignment.

-Make copies at least once a day, since there are no textbooks.

-Go to school without a backpack, since there are no textbooks. Yay!

-Live off-campus, since there are no dorms.

-Take classes with the same group of 20 people for 6 hours a day, 5 days a week for 4 years. You get to know people pretty well! Miss you guys!

-Argue with the professors.

-Write a thesis, take a cumulative final exam, or have at least a 90% average in order to graduate.

-Set aside about half an hour for printing out anything. (go to library, ask for computer time with your ID card, save file to computer under “my documents” with your name, pick out correct printer to send it to, retrieve ID card, go to copy center to pay for the copies and a folder¬†and receive¬†a receipt, walk across campus to the systems department, hand in receipt, tell guy at computer the name of your document, find out it wasn’t saved correctly, start over. Once at systems department for a second time, guy prints out document and ¬°voila! Half an hour later, you’re done.) Alternative printing¬†options include:

              1. asking a friend with a home printer to print it out and bring it to you. They will either forget or run out of ink.

              2. own your own printer and have all of your classmates asking you to print their homework every day.

-Go to the beach for an hour when a professor doesn’t show up.

-Be “cleansed” in an ancient Mayan ritual with your classmates.

-Desperately try to find a kind classmate with extra carspace every night, since no buses go by at 10 pm and you’re in the middle of nowhere.

-Put up with the deafening noise of the bug repellent machine that goes by every night.

-Lose, on average, about 2 hours of precious time each day waiting for professors to show up.

-Give a power point presentation at least once a week. Can’t get enough of those power point presentations.

-Have professors that find it completely acceptable to give a power point presentation where you just copy pasted from an article on the internet (blue underlined original hyperlinks still shamelessly in place).

-Go straight from class to the best nightclubs in the world on Friday nights!

-Have a professor who only shows up for 2 classes the entire semester and still keeps his job. (He was an important guy, apparently.)

-Have to cook, set up, and clean events for up to 200 people… without being paid. It was¬†a “course requirement”.¬†It took me about 2 years to realize that¬†you could just not go, and nobody said anything.

-About 150 internship hours a semester, plus 400 hours of community service.

-Go on class trips to see waterfalls and ancient Mayan ruins.

It was the best four years of my life, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Best Day Ever for Less than 3 Dollars: Cenote in San Crisanto

I couldn’t resist posting this!

Last year, I traveled to the coast of Yucatan, Mexico to visit my fiance’s family in a small fishing village called Chabihau, just about 4 hours from Cancun. On one of our days there, we drove to a neighboring village called San Crisanto, where they’ve recently started promoting a cenote tour.

For those unlucky folks who don’t know what a cenote is, it’s pretty much just a natural well. The Yucatan Peninsula has no normal rivers… just underground rivers. Throughout the Peninsula are thousands upon thousands of openings in the limestone, called cenotes (“seh-NOH-tes”). Many are in caves while others are completely open.

Anyway, we got to the site and paid $30 pesos each (less than 3 dollars!!) and got into a teeny tiny rowboat:

Our guide took us on a slow yet beautiful ride through a man-made stream through the mangrove forest, explaining along the way that the area was completel virgin, and no motor-boats were allowed. (The water would be too shallow anyway):

There were tons of awesome birds and cool bugs to be seen in the mangrove forest! This little guy followed us most of the way:

About 20 minutes later, we were there! They had set everything up pretty well, with docks and a palapa:

The gaping hole in the water below me is the opening to the underground river system:

Fiance and cu√Īado (brother-in-law) going for a swim, but actually freaked out by the massive fish swimming around (2 feet long… eek!):

Mi Suegra relaxing on a rock ledge:

Great day:

Overall, an awesome day for a great price! Let’s hope the rest of the peninsula takes the hint and starts creating great tours with minimal damage to the ecosystem, like these guys did.