Cenote Verde Lucero

This past weekend, my in-laws, Jorge and I decided to travel in search of adventure in La Ruta de Los Cenotes (The Cenote Route), located just south of the town of Puerto Morelos about half an hour from Cancun.

La Ruta de los Cenotes is a small highway that heads further and further inland from the coast, bordered on either side by dense jungle. Along the way, you’ll see rustic signs pointing toward dirt roads leading off the highway to take you out to adventure parks, eco hotels and beautiful cenotes. (If you’re lucky, you might see some unique Yucatan wildlife crossing the road! We saw a pisot and a tarantula.)

After checking out some eco cabins, artisan shops, local farms and winding dirt roads through the jungles of the Yucatan, we finally came across the stunning Cenote Verde Lucero (Green Star Cenote). We got there late, but decided to go in and explore anyway. The cenote had a zipline, a small cliff, bright green waters, several small caves and a beautiful canopy of trees. There were a few groups there already, and they were having so much fun I knew I had to come back soon and spend an entire day here… maybe bring some sandwiches and sodas and 20 of my closest friends.

An entire day at this cenote is only $80 pesos per person (about $7 US dollars). We will definitely be back here with friends and family, although I can’t promise I’ll be doing any cliff jumping!

Disclosure:  I am being compensated for my work in creating and managing content as a Community Manager for the Mexico Today Program.  All stories, opinions and passion for all things Mexico shared here are completely my own.

Bungee Jumping at Cancun’s Playa Tortugas

So I was organizing all my old photos this weekend (a huge chore) and I came across these babies… some guy bungee jumping at Playa Tortugas in Cancun’s Hotel Zone.

Playa Tortugas is one of the prettiest public beaches in Cancun with some great bars and restaurants, but we never go because it gets super crowded!

I told you it was crowded.

The guy bungee jumping took a good 5 minutes to work up the courage to jump, but the crowd in the water cheered him on!

Working up his courage...

There he goes!

Flying back

And the crowd goes wild!

Have you been bungee jumping? (I’m way too chicken.)

Around the House

Jorge and I have been spending the last few weeks trying to get the house together so we can finally actually USE the house instead of spending most of the time watching TV upstairs.

Currently our living room has our nice new sofas pushed face-forward against the wall because the dogs are home alone during the day and we don’t want them jumping on there. We also had our coffee table recently finished… it’s STUNNING! (and currently residing in our back room where all our storage stuff is) I’ll try to remember to post pictures of it soon.

In order to reclaim our living room from the dogs, we have to spruce up our backyard to make it liveable for them so they can stay there during the day. Luckily our backyard already has nice shade from a small tree whose branches spread out over most of the yard. Right now it’s half gravel, half dirt… we plan on changing it to half patio, half grass, with some nice plants thrown in there. We also desperately need to paint the walls.

As you can see, it needs work. Hopefully by the end of this weekend, it will be a miniature doggy paradise (or next weekend, depending on if we can find someone to lay the floor by… today)

So that’s the plan for the next few days: create incredible backyard for the dogs, reclaim living room, live happily ever after.

Oh, and my neighbor across the street gave us a plant in a hanging coconut. It’s the cutest thing ever! We hung it from the tree in our front patio and it’s started to bloom:

So that’s what’s going on around our house. Do you have any house projects right now?

Christmas Trees and Crocodiles at the Sumidero Canyon

As much as I love the immense All Inclusive resorts, Caribbean waters and boisterous nightlife in my current state of Quintana Roo, the lush state of Chiapas holds what many believe to be the most impressive natural beauty in the entire country.

Chiapas is filled with tall mountains, sparkling waterfalls, ancient Mayan ruins, colonial cities and small mountain towns untouched by modern culture, the perfect place for an adventurous getaway. A few years ago, I got to see them all… and I’ve been dying to go back ever since.

Misol-Ha Waterfall

One of the state’s most impressive natural attractions is the Sumidero Canyon, whose stone cliffs reach heights of more than 3,200 feet. On my visit, our group got to take a boat tour along the river that winds through this breathtaking canyon. We drove to the town of Chiapa de Corzo, where we hopped into some boats and headed down the river.

Chiapa de Corzo central square

Our boat ride began on a wide stretch of river, flanked by soft mountains on either side. Once we passed under the bridge, I began to see the steep rock walls that this canyon is known for.

After a few twists and turns, we came across the canyon’s deepest point. This natural gateway is one of the symbols of the state of Chiapas, proudly displayed on its state seal. A simple photo doesn’t come close to describing what it feels like to see this in person, looking up from a tiny boat in the middle of the river. (Somewhere in the back of my mind, I could hear Wallace Shawn screaming “the cliffs of insanity!”)

My favorite part, however, was probably El Arbol de la Navidad (The Christmas Tree), a unique waterfall spilling down the side of the canyon.

The rest of our boat tour is filled with tiny caves (including one with the Virgin Mary), rock islands and even crocodiles.

Can you see it?

Chasing flocks of birds with a motorboat was fun, if not somewhat frightening.

The Yucatan Peninsula, where Cancun is located, is almost completely flat with hardly any hills, much less mountains and cliffs. The fact that I hadn’t seen mountains in years made this trip all the more exciting for me. I hope to go back to Chiapas with Jorge someday, and take our time to really explore everything this state has to offer.

What’s the most beautiful place you’ve ever traveled to?

Disclosure:  I am being compensated for my work in creating and managing content as a Community Manager for the Mexico Today Program.  All stories, opinions and passion for all things Mexico shared here are completely my own.

Girls Night Out at Barezzito

This past week, my friend Juan was out of town and Jorge was sick, meaning Viri and I had to fend for ourselves in a very rare “Girls’ Week”. Tuesday night we did something we haven’t done in years… go out to a club without any boys! A group of us went to Barezzito, a chic lounge in downtown Cancun with live music, contemporary design and an outdoor terrace with amazing views of the lagoon and Hotel Zone on the horizon.

Turns out lots of other friends ended up being there as well. I ran into a friend from the office, as well as Jorge and Cesar, two of my best friends from college.

Cesar, me, Jorge (not my husband, another Jorge)

The live band that night was very good! I had no idea there was a Spanish pop version of the song “Going to the Chapel”, but it was pretty catchy.

My friend (and former roomie!) Cyndi has a birthday this month… meaning that on any Tuesday during the month of August, she can order a free bottle at Barezzito and only pay for the drink service. The table ordered whisky, which is surprisingly popular here in Mexico. (All my Mexican friends love whisky, but I can count on one hand the ones who enjoy a good tequila shot.)

Viri and Cyndi

The following night, Viri, Cyndi and I got together for a Twilight movie night. We watched Eclipse. Friends, pajamas, sushi and Taylor Lautner (or Robert Pattinson, depending on who you ask) all make for a fun evening.

What’s the best girls/guys night you’ve ever had?

Baby Sea Turtle Release at the Ritz Carlton Cancun

Step out onto a quiet beach in Cancun and the Riviera Maya on a summer night, and you just might spot a female see turtle laying her eggs in the sand. This summer alone, I’ve had several friends mention that they’ve seen sea turtles laying eggs at night on several beaches in Cancun’s Hotel Zone.

Lots of development and activity, however, has made local beaches unsafe for the turtle eggs, and many resorts are now looking for a way to restore balance by finding the turtle eggs and giving them a safe home until they hatch. The hatchlings are then released into the Caribbean to try their luck on their own.

I was recently invited to the very first Baby Turtle Release of the 2011 season at the Ritz Carlton Cancun. Even though I’ve been living here 6 years, it was the first time I’d witnessed one! PR Director Paulina Feltrin gave me a tour of the beautiful hotel and explained about their Turtle Camp, run by Juan de Dios.

The Ritz Carlton has been helping the baby turtles for more than 13 years! They patrol the beaches at night searching for nesting turtles, then recover the eggs and bring them to safety at their Turtle Camp, where they can rest safely for 45 to 60 days until they hatch.

Each mound of sand is a nest of turtle eggs, labeled with info like the type of turtle and predicted hatch date.

The baby sea turtles are always released in the evenings to increase their chance of survival from predators, although it’s estimated that only 1 in every 1,000 sea turtles will survive to adulthood.

After a glance at the Turtle Camp, Paulina led me down to the beach area, where a large crowd of Ritz Carlton guests had gathered to share the experience.

It was a beautiful and peaceful evening, perfect for a turtle release.

I could feel the air abuzz with excitement and curiosity. The adults were snapping photos (note: no flash allowed!) while the kids were peering into the basket of sea turtles as Paulina explained the process. Sea turtles were then passed around to guests, who were careful to hold the baby turtles by the sides of their shell.

And then… they were off!

Some of the baby turtles were super-speedy, swept away by the gentle waves within seconds. Others took a bit longer, but eventually made it to their destination… the Caribbean Sea.

I couldn’t help but notice how tiny and fragile they looked compared to the waves, and I wondered what adventures they’d have on their first night in the sea.

Fun Fact: Many locals rely on sea turtle nesting habits to determine how strong hurricane season is going to be. This forecast is generally more accurate than human weather forecasts! Rumor has it that according to nesting sea turtles, 2011 is not going to be a strong hurricane season in Cancun and the Riviera Maya.

Disclosure:  I am being compensated for my work in creating and managing content as a Community Manager for the Mexico Today Program.  All stories, opinions and passion for all things Mexico shared here are completely my own.

Operation Chile Cat Part 2

Two weeks ago, Jorge began Operation Chile Cat to rid our front tree planter of cat poop. With just one night of chile powder set around the ledges of the planter, it seems we were partially successful. As it turns out, we had TWO neighborhood cats pooping in our planter, and now that number has been reduced to ONE.  *evil grin*

Saturday night we heard about 10 minutes of yowling from outside, and I just chalked it up to some “naughty business” going on with the neighborhood cats. Jorge looked out our front window to see 3 cats sitting outside our front gate, looking at our house and yowling. I think they’re on to us.

At the recommendation of my reader Johanna, we decided to kick it up a notch by using coffee grounds. Last night, Jorge poured chile powder and coffee grounds around the planter, then sprinkled some in the dirt.


Game on.

How to Speak Like a Mexicano: Chancletazo

In yet another one of the fascinating mysteries of Mexican slang, I bring you… the -azo.

This phenomenon is quite possibly my favorite part of learning Mexican Spanish. It’s not something they’ll teach you in school, even though it’s part of everyday language. I think the reason I love the -azo so much is because it’s so incredibly convenient, yet we have nothing like it in English.

Here’s the gist of it: Add the ending -azo onto any tangible noun, and it will translate to something like “a punch/hit/slap with a …”

I’ll give you some examples.

Mi hermano me dio un codazo = “My brother hit me with his elbow.”

Le dio un cabezazo al balón. = “He gave the ball a hit with his head.” (Often used in soccer, it’s the equivalent to the English term for heading the ball.)

A "cabezazo" by Chicharito (the David Beckham of Mexico)

My favorite is chancletazo, from the Mexican slang word chancleta, meaning “flip flop”. Jorge uses this one A LOT when killing cockroaches. Le voy a dar un chancletazo! =  “I’m going to smash him with my flip-flop.”

A few other examples:

sartenazo = a blow with a frying pan

rodillazo = a hit from the knee

toallazo = a towel snap

puñetazo = a punch (from the word puño, meaning “fist”)

avionazo = an airplane crash

There are other more specific uses for this ending, but I won’t confuse you with the subleties quite yet. 🙂

Bottom Line: Add the -azo ending onto ANY TANGIBLE THING and it will make sense. Anything that could possibly come into physical contact with you. Seriously.

Yucatan’s Fishing Villages Are Making Money

Set on the Gulf of Mexico, Yucatan’s northern coast is filled with small towns and fishing villages, each with their own charm and natural beauty. In this region, you’ll find brightly-colored salt lagoons, refreshing cenotes, palm tree forests, small Mayan ruins, tiny restaurants serving freshly caught seafood, relaxing beaches and even migrating herds of flamingos in the summertime. Several of Mexico’s most popular celebrities have even built luxurious homes in this secluded and tranquil area.

The local villages are home to hard-working fishermen as well as vacation homes owned mostly by tourists from the nearby colonial city of Merida. In the past couple of years, however, this breathtaking area has fallen under the eye of home buyers and tourists from other parts of Mexico and the world.

The town of San Crisanto has begun to take full advantage of its stunning natural attractions, opening a new tourist center where guests can explore the salt lagoon and purchase tickets for a fascinating mangrove and cenote tour.

San Crisanto's new tourist center

Dzonot Tzik cenote in San Crisanto

In the neighboring village of Chabihau, foreign travelers have begun to use local builders to construct immense vacation homes right by the beach, drawn to the area by the charming, friendly and quiet atmosphere. These homes also help to create permanent jobs, as most owners hire locals from Chabihau as caretakers for the property while they’re gone.

This beautiful compound-style home has been recently built, with several buildings set around a sand-filled courtyard.

A new beachside vacation home under construction

This multi-level beach home caught my eye, with several open-air terraces, palapas and pergolas.

As a frequent visitor to this area, I’m excited to see that others are finally beginning to discover it and help the economy grow. The Gulf coast of the state of Yucatan is filled with fascinating attractions that the locals are thrilled to share with anyone passing through.

Where would you build your dream vacation home?

Disclosure:  I am being compensated for my work in creating and managing content as a Community Manager for the Mexico Today Program.  All stories, opinions and passion for all things Mexico shared here are completely my own.

An Insincere Apology to Cat Owners Everywhere

So Jorge hates cats. This hatred goes all the way back to childhood, when the neighborhood street cats would tear open his family’s garbage bags and litter the remains outside their front gate.

In our current neighborhood, several of our neighbors have cats that they let roam free. We didn’t have a problem with this until they started pooping in our planter.

Tired of cleaning up cat poop (why does our life seem to center around animal feces?) and having a smelly front patio, Jorge came up with a Master Plan.

Chili powder.

Excited and with just a hint of crazy in his eyes, Jorge picked up a small bottle of chili powder at Walmart last night. It was time to put the Master Plan into effect.

He scattered a line of chili powder around all the edges of the planter so the cats would have no choice but to land in it if they wanted to poop in our dirt. I heard him mutter, “Espero que esos cabrones vengan HOY.” (“I hope those bastards come TONIGHT.”)