Weekend at Sandos Caracol All-Inclusive Resort

This weekend, Jorge and I went with some of our friends to Sandos Caracol Resort in Playa del Carmen for my friend Juan’s birthday. We’d been once before, and we LOVE IT! It’s an all-inclusive eco-resort, and they’ve done everything they can to leave a lot of the native surroundings intact. Most resorts here tend to cut down everything to make room for villas, pools, bars, etc. This hotel has done the same, but still left behind lots of local mangrove all over the property.

This means lots of wildlife roaming on the resort grounds, a creek running through the middle of the resort, beautiful mangrove scenery and 2 gorgeous cenotes.

I love the layout of the hotel. Many resorts here have a bunch of builings set in a semi-circle in front of the beach, with the big pool area in the middle. This resort is a bit different, with small villas spread out along winding paths throughout the property, with restaurants and small pools nestled in there. It definitely makes things feel a lot more private.

24-hour outdoor buffet? Yes, please!

View of the mangrove from my favorite bar

The spa has a sauna, showers, jacuzzis and hydromassage pool with beds that you can use FOR FREE!! I have definitely spent a few hours here πŸ™‚

People in Mayan costumes hanging out in the parking lot before a show πŸ™‚

A 100% Mexican dog breed, called a Xoloitzcuintle, known for being used by the ancient Mayans and Aztecs

The adults pool, where we usually spend most of our time

Gringation, living the life

The main outdoor buffet often gets special visitors...

"I like to move it, move it"

The hotel just got a new kids' water park this year, called Splash.

Getting a little better at taking nighttime photos...

Freshly rolled cigars

Las Mascaras Mexican restaurant

The resort is currently completely renovating some of their guestrooms, mainly the ones closest to the beach. They’re going to be bigger, more modern and more eco-friendly. The main pool will also be bigger. AWESOME!Β  (The renovations in no way affected our stay, btw, and everything still looks attractive!)

Mr. and Mrs. Gringation

During certain seasons, Sandos Caracol gives special discounts to locals. We got an all-inclusive deal for $650 pesos (about $50 US) per person per night. Not too shabby!

The staff is incredibly friendly and the grounds are impeccable, yet natural. We’ll definitely be back a third time!

Check back later this week for pics of our hotel room, and the great idea they have for keeping guests eco-friendly!

Getting Ready for My Wedding

Just got some more wedding pictures!!! Thought I’d take advantage to give a shout-out to some of my amazing vendors.

Photographer: Sarah Winfree (my sister!)

Hair: Tai Spa in Merida

Dressmaker: Becky Winfree (my mom!)

Makeup Artist: Vanessa Dominguez Alvarez (check her out on Facebook) Here’s some more of her work: (JLo! Seriously! Hands that touched JLo’s face have touched my face!)

Anyway enough famous people. On to my photos…

I also got professional photos of my flowers! I’ll be showing those next week. πŸ™‚

Just Thursday

Outside my window.. Sunny, just a few clouds
The time is.. 3:45 pm (I’m late on this today!)
Today I feel.. a little worried and stressed, but happy in general.
I am thinking.. that office jobs have a lot of drama! Need to try to stay out of it πŸ™‚
At the moment, I am thankful.. for my new husband, who cleaned the house yesterday AND put away my laundry. πŸ™‚ And for our new AC!!
I am going.. to stay at my in-laws’ house tonight and tomorrow while they’re out of town.
I am wearing.. take a wild guess… uniform.
I wish.. I had the money to start doing what I really want to do. But hey, saving up is all part of the journey, right?
I am reading.. Patricia Cornwell’s Book of the Dead
I am working on.. not a lot. I ran out of activities to do at work. Seriously.
I am hoping.. that Project Runway is good tonight. Only 1 good episode so far this season… depressing.
I am hearing.. my boss complaining about something.
I bet you didn’t know.. that today at work we had to go to a mandatory Alcoholics Anonymous presentation, and it was actually pretty interesting!
One of my favorite.. drinks is a mojito
My weekend plans include.. going to an all inclusive hotel in the Riviera Maya with my friends!
If you want to participate in Just Thursday, make sure to link up at Murdock’s Mama!

How to Install AC in Mexico

Looks like the AC Guy has a pretty long ladder, right?

WRONG! He was actually precariously balanced on THIS:

Ladder balanced on the rusty awning bars above my front patio.

I was praying nothing would go horribly wrong… and all was miraculously well. Thank you, God.

So anyway, we finally have our AC πŸ™‚ I can go back to sleeping bundled up in pijama pants, cuddled up with multiple blankets. No longer do I have to sleep spread-eagle on my back. Yay!

**I know it doesn’t look level, but it is. The ceiling has a slight slant to it.**


How to Make an Amazing Dinner With No Stove

Jorge and I have developed a bad habit of eating dinner while watching TV (his fault) and of ordering takeout too often (my fault). So the past 2 nights, we’ve made an effort to cook our own meals and eat them at our table (yay! We have a *plastic* table now!).

Since we have some pretty awesome wedding gifts and a small but charming front patio, we decided to take advantage and do something cool. The end result was pretty awesome.

We ran out of gas in our small tank, so using the stove and oven was out of the question. Thank God we have this:

Sliced zucchini topped with feta cheese... yum! The recipe called for eggplant, but the supermarket didn't have any, so I improvised. I think the zucchini turned out better anyways.

Dinner looked like this:

Zucchini turned out great:

Homemade guacamole, Caesar dressing and CHILE MAYONNAISE!!

MMM dinner! Quesadillas, caesar salad, zucchini with feta, and canteloupe juice... all of the dishes, drinkware and serving dishes were wedding presents πŸ™‚

So lucky πŸ™‚

Your Advice: Getting Used to Your Neighbors

Ok… I feel like a mean, petty and immature neighbor.

Here’s the deal. I guess since nobody had lived in my current house for a few months, people got used to parking on the street in front of it.

When I moved in, people still parked there, and I just assumed it was because they thought the house was still empty.

Two months later… they KNOW we live there. The people who usually park there have actually seen us walk into and out of our house. There’s someone parked there about 30% of the time.

This is the front of my house. It's fairly narrow, so one car parked in front of it pretty much blocks everything.

For some reason, this really bothers me.

The worst part is that I actually LIKE it when they park there. I have no car, and I rarely if ever need that space. It gives me more privacy, the dogs no longer have a view of the street (so they don’t bark as much) and having a car there scares away potential robbers (even though I doubt they exist in my neighborhood, but you never know).

I guess I just feel kinda annoyed that nobody thought it necessary to ask me if it was ok.

But I can’t say anything, because the conversation would go like this:

Me: Good morning! So I see your friends have been parking in front of my house…

Neighbor: Sorry! Since there wasn’t a “No Parking” sign, I didn’t think it would bother you. I’ll tell my friends not to park there anymore.

Me: Oh, it’s ok! I don’t mind if they park here.

Neighbor: So what’s the problem?

Me: Uh… just came over here to tell you that you’re a jerk for not asking me first.

Anyway, this morning as I was walking out the door to go to work, a lady parked her SUV in front of my gate. As I locked the gate, I gave her a look. Kind of a cross between a casual glance and a death stare, thus making her believe I wasn’t necessarily angry, but that I was confused as to why she was there. As I walked down the street, she moved her car. I felt like kind of a jerk, but hey, at least I felt acknowledged.

Jorge doesn’t seem bothered by the parking issue.

Am I being petty, since I really don’t mind anyway? Is it acceptable to park in front of someone’s house without asking?

My Wedding Bouquets

Just came across these leftover photos from the morning after my wedding.

Since a few of you asked to see more pictures of my flowers, these are the best I can do for nowΒ haha. The only flowers we really had were the bouquets, and only 1 table arrangement.

My bouquet

My bouquet up close - roses, freesia, tulips and orchids

bridesmaid's bouquet - roses and freesia

Our Beautiful Custom-Made Bed

One of my best friends has a boyfriend who is just learning carpentry. Last Christmas, he showed me some photos on his cell phone of tables he’d made, and I was HOOKED! I asked him right away if he could make a few things for our new home.

Since Jorge and I have very different styles, we knew it would be hard to find furniture that suits both our styles, so hiring Leo to build custom-made furniture was perfect. Jorge likes very modern, streamlined, minimalist decor. I prefer a more colorful look with lots of textures, and my favorite thing is rustic Mexican furniture.

Anyone who lives in Cancun knows that it’s HARD to find good furniture! There are lots of stores that sell cool-looking things, but a closer look shows poor quality with plastic-y materials. The only store that has good furniture (in my opinion) is Liverpool, a higher end department store… but it’s EXPENSIVE.

So what did we do? Jorge and I went to Liverpool a few months ago and took pictures of things we liked. Some of the headboards we loved cost THOUSANDS of dollars. No thanks!

We showed Leo a few pictures, and a few weeks ago we got this….

Anyway, we love it! It has all the rustic Mexican charm I love without being too heavy, and it’s sleek and modern enough for Jorge’s taste.

Guess how much it cost? $2500 pesos! That’s only about $200 US dollars πŸ™‚ For the headboard and the base. AND it was the first bed he’d ever made. Amazing job, Leo πŸ™‚

Leo told me yesterday that he finished the nightstands to match!! Can’t wait to see how they turned out!

If any of my readers in Cancun or Merida want Leo’s info, let me know.

Cheester Pasta

Last night, Jorge and I went to dinner with 2 of our best friends at one of my favorite restaurants… Cheester!

Cheester is a great casual outdoor restaurant that sells ENORMOUS pastas. Customers can write all over the walls, and the menu is written on a chalk board inside. It’s ALWAYS full!

First, they bring you rolls with a DELICIOUS habanero sauce... this sauce is so spicy, you can't eat more than a few drops of it! πŸ™‚

The lamps over the tables are made of plastic funnels πŸ™‚

Juan and Viri ordered the Don Corleone pasta... this is also Jorge's favorite!

I ordered Margarita pasta (and shared a little with Jorge, who'd already eaten dinner). Lots of cheese, red sauce and pesto! Mmmm! Definitely a serving for 2 or 3 people.

Juan, Viri, Jorge and Gringation

Good luck getting a table! Only downside is that this place closes at 11 pm… very early by Cancun standards.

JustΒ Thursday

It’s Just Thursday again with Murdock’s Mama!
Wanna play along with Just Thursday and be entered to win a gift certificate to the place of your choice?
Just link up to Murdock’s Mama!
Outside my window.. there’s a pretty big flock of black birds circling over the school beside my office. Kinda creepy. Other than that, beautiful blue skies with cotton-candy-esque clouds.

The time is.. 9:33 a.m. central time

Today I feel.. happy with life, but kinda dazed. I’ve been translating so much lately that my brain is pretty fried.
I am thinking.. about how I still call my husband my “boyfriend”. It’s only been a few weeks haha I’ll get there.
At the moment, I am thankful.. that the electricity in the new house got fixed yesterday! Thanks for recommending your handyman, Lauren!
I am going.. to an all inclusive resort in a week and a half!
I am wearing.. my work uniform, including new pants and shoes! I no longer look sad with a dingy blue skirt and broken shoes haha
I wish.. we had 2 TVs. Jorge and I don’t exactly have the same taste in TV shows… except for Parental Control on MTV, but you can only watch but so much of that.
I am reading.. Book of the Dead by Patricia Cornwell.
I am working on.. a 3-page translation for work.
I am hoping.. that we get an AC unit installed SOON, and that all the doggy pee makes it to the backyard today, not my living room.
I am hearing.. people in the office chatting.
I bet you didn’t know.. That we finally have a table and chairs in the house! Ok, it’s a long plastic table that I bought last year and left at my in-laws’ house… plus 4 wicker chairs and a tablecloth they lent us… but still!!! Now I can have people over and they’ll have somewhere to sit! The wicker chairs are actually pretty cute, too.
One of my favorite.. pizza places from my childhood recently opened at my favorite mall in Cancun… Oh, Sbarro’s, how I’ve missed you!
My weekend plans include.. work Saturday morning… then whatever the heck I want to do. πŸ™‚ We opted to stay in last weekend, so maybe we’ll cut loose this weekend *fingers crossed*