Sunday at Cancun’s Playa Delfines

Jorge and I spent Sunday at Playa Delfines (Dolphin Beach) in Cancun. It has been years since we hung out at the beach in the Hotel Zone! Usually we prefer Isla Mujeres, Playa del Carmen or Puerto Morelos, but I’m glad we finally came around and decided to enjoy our city for once.

Our Backyard Makeover: Before and After

So waaaay back in August I told ya’ll that we were going to redo the backyard, which we did! I hadn’t gotten around to taking pictures of it until this weekend, mainly because I am stuck in the office during daylight hours. But now I finally have the “After” shots!

Here’s the “before”:

And here are the “afters”…

Unfortunately, the grass was damaged by the recent “Backyard Pool” incident. Then again, it wasn’t growing in well to begin with! If anyone has advice on growing grass, I’m all ears.

We’d also like to paint the walls white, and eventually remove the potted tree and potted bush. We’re still thinking that one over, though… we really hate that tree, but it does provide good shade. We’d replace the tree with my new orchid tree. After my last post on it, a reader (Thanks, Pauline!) identified it as an orchid tree, not a plant, which is very exciting! No shade from that baby for a few more years, though. 🙁

The total cost for this makeover, including palm plants, grass, dirt and patio, was somewhere around $300 US. Not bad, eh?

Jorge Probably Just Knows Me All Too Well

Remember how Jorge and I went out to a bar this weekend? Well I was super tired and left early around 2 am. Jorge walked me out to get a cab and told me “Don’t forget to call me when you get home so I know you got back ok!”

Well… I forgot.

I probably forgot because I was busy keeping the dogs from slamming into the back of my knee and causing me to collapse on the tile floor (happens a lot when I walk into the house).

Then I went straight to sleep (and by “sleep”, I mean read Hunger Games in the middle of the night) and turned the sound off on my cell phone so I could sleep in the next morning without interruptions.

Aaaand Jorge called me 10 times.

Finally around 3:30 a.m. I noticed my cell phone was lighting up, so I answered. Jorge told me he had been calling me non-stop and was really worried for my safety. How sweet!

OH. WAIT.

If he was so concerned about me being assaulted by a taxi driver and/or home intruder, why did he not come check on me after AN HOUR AND A HALF of not answering my phone?

I mean… I would have felt bad that he had to cut his night short because I forgot to call him when I got home… but still!

Then today my cell phone dies at the office (grrr). I just get an e-mail from him saying, “When you didn’t answer my calls today, I was worried you were kidnapped by a taxi driver.”

And yet he never showed up at my office to check on my safety.

I mean… I would have felt horrible that he had to take a bus to my office to check on my safety because my cell phone died… but still!

And this is exactly why I shouldn’t be trusted with a cell phone.

**Update:** I just confronted Jorge on this via e-mail, and his response was “Well if you’re kidnapped by a taxi driver what can I do? It’s not like you’ll be at home when I get there to rescue you.”

Touche.

Dear Chaac, Thanks a Lot.

After a week of lovely weather, Saturday afternoon was suddenly filled with ridiculous amounts of rain. Strange, since rainy season is now over. (Here in the Yucatan Peninsula, we like to attribute these shenanigans to Chaac, the Mayan god of rain.)

Luckily our house doesn’t flood, but several hours of non-stop heavy rain did cause my backyard to look like a pond:

Aaah, paradise.

Luckily the rain cleared out by Saturday evening. We had to cancel our plans of going to a nightclub in the Hotel Zone because of flooding, but we did get to go to one of my favorite downtown spots, Ora Si! Mariscos y Chan Chan (horribly long name, great place).

With the sun shining and the birds singing, on Sunday Jorge and I toured the Hotel Zone a little (our new Sunday tradition), then went to his aunt’s house for fried fish, pico de gallo and tacos.

In the end, a potentially wasted weekend was saved by sunshine once again!

My First Alux Encounter

When I first moved to Mexico, I was fascinated by all the stories about run-ins with ghosts, hauntings and mythical creatures. Being the skeptical American that I am, I brushed it off as a cultural difference for several years.

But now… I’m starting to realize that Mexico is just filled with some crazy, crazy stuff.

Long-time readers may remember the stories about the mythical Yucatan alux (pronounced “ah-LOOSH”) that friends and family had told me. The stories made me start to think, “Maybe there’s some truth to this.”

And then on New Years Eve, I’m pretty sure I saw one.

Jorge and I were riding in a 15-person van from Cancun to Chabihau for his cousin’s wedding. During the 4-hour drive along the highway, we pass through mostly jungle with a few small villages along the way.

Around 7 pm, it was already dark. We were just leaving one small Yucatan village and entering the jungle again, going slowly because of the village’s speedbumps. Up near the driver, I saw the head of a black figure standing right by the van, in the middle of the road. From the height, the shape of the head and the way it moved, I immediately thought it was a child, except it was … blacker than black? As in I couldn’t even make out features or anything, just an outline filled in with entirely black. I was unsettled and wasn’t sure why.

As we passed the thing, I turned back and saw that the figure was actually hunched over and huge. It was shaped more like a dog than a child, but at the same time the street dogs in the Yucatan aren’t giant or black (at least none that I’ve seen!) Plus… dogs just don’t move like that.

I later told Jorge and his family that I’d seen an alux, and they didn’t seem the least bit surprised.

Mexican Traditions: Cake and the Baby Jesus

Those of you who took high school Spanish might remember a popular Latin American holiday: El Dia de Reyes (or “Three Kings Day”).

Falling on January 6, this holiday is celebrated throughout Mexico. The three “Reyes Magos” (aka the Three Wise Men) bring gifts to little kids, Santa-Clause-style.

Another popular tradition on El Dia de Reyes is cutting the Rosca de Reyes (King’s Cake). If you find a tiny plastic Baby Jesus in your slice of cake, that means you have to bring tamales for everyone to enjoy on February 2nd, El Dia de la Candelaria (Candlemas Day).

This past Friday, my office department ordered our Rosca from a popular local bakery called Tere Cazola, complete with cream cheese filling. (yum!) I did not get the Baby Jesus figurine at our office Rosca-cutting! Saved!

My Jesus-less slice at the office

In the evening, however, Jorge and I were invited to a get-together with some of our friends. I wasn’t feeling well and stayed home, but Jorge cut my piece for me. Turns out I  got the Baby Jesus and will be one of the lucky 3 friends bringing tamales to our get-together on February 2nd.

My coworker's slice of Rosca, complete with Baby Jesus

In other words… El Dia de Reyes is a great excuse for Mexicans to throw TWO parties: the rosca-cutting on January 6th, and the follow-up tamale party on February 2nd. Gotta love Mexico, right?

Hopefully I’ll get to blog about all my tamale-parties on February 2nd! Can’t wait 🙂

20 Pounds To Go!

You may remember that back in December I had made the decision to see a nutritionist to lose some weight after a shockingly traumatic run-in with a sales girl.

I have to go in to the nutritionist for a weigh-in every two weeks, and the following day she sends me a new menu to follow.

Jorge often helps me prepare my breakfasts, lunches and snacks every morning for me to take to the office, and he always says, “This is SO MUCH FOOD!” And it is. This is seriously the best diet ever… I spent all day stuffing my face, except now I’m eating mostly fruits and vegetables (as opposed to my previous diet of cinnamon rolls, Domino’s pizza and cheese). Last night I even made some fish tacos with tomato, cucumber and chipotle mayo. AMAZING.

I’m supposed to lose between 1 and 2 pounds per week, so I was happy to lose 4 pounds after the first two weeks! Hurray!

The second two weeks included my Christmas trip to the US and a weekend in Yucatan, plus my gym was closed for the holidays, so I didn’t lose any weight this time around. I didn’t gain any, either, which quite frankly is a miracle considering the amount of Christmas cookies, burritos and soda I had while away from home… so I’m happy!

My mom and dad also bought me some very cute gym clothes for Christmas this year and I no longer appear homeless when working out.

At 4 pounds lighter I’ve already had several comments that I look thinner, so now it’s time to keep it up!

I used to look at thin girls and think “I hate you”. Now I look at them and think “I’m going to be so much hotter than you in a few months”.

Honeymoon in Rio de Janeiro: Ipanema Sunset

Last night I realized I hadn’t finished showing you guys our honeymoon photos from Rio.

The photos today are very special to me.

Here’s the story behind them: Jorge and I had just been through one of the worst days of our lives as we missed our flight back to Mexico. I’d spent all morning crying at the airport and making desperate phone calls, then we went back to our vacation apartment for an afternoon nap. We woke up late afternoon, still with no idea how or when we were going to get home, and walked out toward Ipanema because that’s where the Subway shop was (extra vacation days = poor).

When I saw the sunset on Ipanema Beach, I knew that this was the reason we’d missed our flight. God wanted us to see this…

Año Viejo: New Year’s Tradition in Yucatan

For New Years, we once again went to the fishing village of Chabihau in the state of Yucatan to visit Jorge’s family. This year there was even a wedding! Jorge’s cousin Yeni (pronounced like “Jenny”) got married to her long-time beau, Armando.

We also did some crocodile watching out on Chabihau's salt lagoon

I’d heard before about a special tradition in the Yucatan known as “Año Viejo” (“Old Year”), but this year was the first time I got to see it. On our ride from Cancun to Chabihau, we passed through several villages that had dummies set out by the front gate of the homes. These dummies are known as “Años Viejos“, and they’re filled with rockets and fireworks.

Read that again… rockets and fireworks.

On December 31, the Año Viejo dummies are set out by the front door, and at midnight they’re ignited in the street to represent the end of the “Old Year”. Make sure to keep your distance! It can get pretty loud.

An "Año Viejo" in the town of Cansahcab, Yucatan

From what I could gather from Jorge’s family, it seems Año Viejo is a popular tradition throughout the Yucatan Peninsula, as well as in the state of Veracruz.

Since I was at the wedding at midnight, I didn’t get to see the Año Viejo lit up this year, even though we did have some regular fireworks and sparklers. Oh well, there’s always next year!

What did you do for New Year’s?