Travel Safety in Mexico vs USA

I recently read an amazing article that talks about a topic very near and dear to my heart: the safety of Mexico.

The US, Canada and beyond have been flooded with news stories on violence in this country, even though expats and travelers to Mexico have seen with their own eyes that just like any other country, the violence is reduced to certain people and certain areas.

The Lonely Planet article mentioned cites numerous statistics comparing Mexican travel destinations to US travel destinations… and the results are quite surprising.

Next time someone tells you Mexico is dangerous, show them this Lonely Planet post.

Lonely Planet Travel Writer Provides Facts About Safety in Mexico
, via Mexico Today

 

Barcelo Maya Resort: The Beach

I have a confession to make… Playa Norte (North Beach) on Isla Mujeres is no longer my favorite beach.

The beach I went to last Wednesday “blew it out of the water” (pun intended).

When we went to the Barcelo Maya Palace Deluxe resort for my cousin’s wedding (more on that later), I wasn’t expecting to find such an incredible beach. So, so many palm trees. Pool-like water. No seaweed. Breathtaking.

Even though there were so many of us in the water, several schools of large silver fish had no qualms about swimming around us, between my knees, and along my feet. I was actually screaming, smiling and jumping up and down out of sheer joy. Why can’t every day be like this?

Somebody please slap me if I ever decide to move away from the Caribbean.

What’s your favorite beach in the world?

Family Vacation Photos!

As I’ve mentioned, my cousin got married last week in the Riviera Maya, so Jorge and I have spent our evenings and weekends traveling down to Playa del Carmen to hang out with my family. My parents, oldest sister, brother-in-law, cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents were here, and it was a BLAST.

We had countless dinners on 5th Avenue in Playa del Carmen, and we spent all day Wednesday at a stunning All Inclusive resort. I’m really sad it’s all over!

To be honest I didn’t take as many pictures as I would have liked, mainly because I forget about the camera when I’m having a good time. Still, I did manage to get a few in there.

I’ll share the wedding pictures later in the week, but for now here are a few of the family!

Jorge, my cousin Shayne, and my brother-in-law Michael at Tequila Barrel, PDC

My sister Noelle, my cousin's (new!) wife Joelle, her best friend Jillian, and me at Tequila Barrel

Jorge and I with the newlyweds and their friends at Blue Parrot nightclub

Jillian, Joelle and me after a few tequilas

Jorge the beach bum

Me and my sister Noelle

Me and my mom

Brother-in-law Michael, sister Noelle, parents, Jorge and me

Grandpa and Grandma dancing up a storm

We danced, we dined, we partied, we relaxed, we talked… and I miss them all so much right now. But oh man, what a week!

 

Spring Break in Mexico? Yes Please.

This week, I was excited to sign on with the Mexico Today program once again! Over the next few months, I will be sharing the occasional link to posts on the Mexico Today website (in addition to my “normal” posts on “hard-hitting” topics like the beach, my weird neighbors, and spiders).

Today I’m sharing a short but sweet article on something I have experienced first-hand:

Mexico Remains a Top Spring Break Location

50,000 Spring Breakers in Cancun and the Riviera Maya alone! After Jorge and I went bar-hopping in Cancun’s Party Center back in March, I can see why.

In fact, I think all 50,000 of those Spring Breakers might have been at Coco Bongo that night.

So tell me, amigosWhat’s the craziest thing you’ve done during Spring Break?

Family Dinner at Yaxche Mayan Restaurant

Even though my family and my in-laws speak different languages, they still have a fun time when they get together!

Tuesday night we all met up in Playa del Carmen for dinner. We decided on a restaurant serving Mayan/Yucatan cuisine. It had always attracted my attention, plus I thought it would be cool for my in-laws to be able to explain a little about the dishes to us.

Yaxche looks beautiful from the outside, with eye-catching modern style with a Mayan twist. Stepping inside was no different, with Mayan artwork all over the walls contrasting with contemporary light fixtures.

I was so excited looking through the menu, seeing all my local favorites. I had such a hard time deciding that I ordered two dishes!

Euxiquia (Xcatic chile and potato soup)... spicy and amazing!

If you've never heard of panuchos, you've never lived in the Yucatan.

Several people in our group got the Queso Relleno (stuffed cheese), with Edam cheese, ground pork, olives, capers and raisins, with a side of “Mayan rice”. Sorry for the bad picture:

My suegra said that the restaurant’s recipes had the same ingredients as the more traditional, homemade versions, but the presentation was quite different. Despite the unique twist on her old favorites, she still liked the food very much.

Jorge and I would like to come back to this restaurant on our own sometime. It would make a great date night, and there were so many dishes I didn’t get to try. The service was very friendly and helpful, and the price was about $350 pesos per person, including food, drinks and a 20% tip.

It was great for both families to spend some time together. My suegra is already planning a traditional Mexican dinner for my parents next time they’re in the area… complete with mariachis!

Have you ever had Mayan cuisine?

The Downside to Expat Life

My family came to visit this week.

My cousin got married yesterday in the Riviera Maya, so my parents and oldest sister have been staying in Playa del Carmen. We spent the whole weekend together, and I’ve been making the 1-hour bus ride from Cancun to Playa every night to have dinner with them. Yesterday at my cousin’s wedding, we got to spend the whole day at a luxury resort with many of my grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins. It has been a tiring but amazing week! (Yes, I will have lots of pictures and stories for you over the next few days!)

An unbelievably good-looking family! (minus the red-eye)

But yesterday I had to say goodbye. My parents return home today, and yesterday was the last chance I’d get to see the rest of the family before they head home later in the week. (I will still get to see my sister and a few cousins over the next week, though.)

Expat life is thrilling in so many ways… the cultural exchange, overcoming personal challenges, exploring a new country, transforming into a stronger person than you ever knew you could be.

But I miss my family.

Since I began working almost 3 years ago, I only get to see my family once or twice a year. I call my parents regularly and text a lot with my sisters, but it’s never quite the same as in person.

When I’m in Mexico, I miss my family. When I’m in the US, I miss my husband and my friends.

No matter where I am, I’m always missing somebody.

And that is the biggest downside to expat life.

 

Yucatan Food: Cayumito

One thing I love about living in the Yucatan Peninsula is its amazing fruit. Recently, my suegra gave me one that I’d never even seen before: cayumito.

My suegra had gotten the cayumito from a friend who had recently traveled to the nearby state of Campeche. She told me the best way to eat it is to cut it in half, then use a small spoon to scoop out the insides.

Cayumito seeds

The texture of the cayumito was like a grape, but the flavor was sweeter. I’m a huge fan of fruits, and this one did not disappoint!

What’s the weirdest fruit you’ve ever eaten?

 

 

Spider-y Nightmares

**Warning: Do not scroll down if you scare easily. Heck, I probably won’t even look at this after I post it.**

I’m not normally a very squeamish person, and critters don’t bother me too much, except for the occasional flying cockroach (evolution’s biggest mistake). I’ve even gotten up close and personal with a wild tarantula the size of my face.

However, there is one creature here in Mexico that I can’t stand.

When I first moved to Mexico back in 2005, I was living in Acapulco. In my bathroom, I would frequently find these giant, grayish spiders on the wall. (Maybe 2 or 3 a week)

The only way I could describe them was “giant bathroom spider that looks like a hammerhead shark”.

I spent all yesterday debating if I wanted this on my blog because even pictures of it freak me out.

When I moved to Cancun, my giant bathroom spider problems seemed to be over… until I started going to Chabihau to visit Jorge’s family. In Jorge’s parents’ vacation house bathroom, I have seen 2 of these things over the years. I can’t go into that bathroom without scouring the walls for hammerhead shark spiders. I even saw 1 in my in-laws’ Cancun bathroom once.

Yesterday, however, while researching some crazy ants I saw at the park this weekend, I accidentally stumbled upon a tidbit of information that gave me the chills for the rest of the afternoon.

They’re not spiders.

They are “Tailless Mexican Whip Scorpions“.

The good news is that Wikipedia says they’re harmless. Whatever, they’re still terrifying.

*shiver*

What’s the craziest creature you’ve ever seen?

Getting Used to Solo Adventures

I’m a little sad lately.

Jorge graduated university in December, and he started his first job in early April, which is very exciting! He works the morning shift, so he’s always home in the evenings when I get back from work. We still get to see eachother a lot, which I’m very grateful for.

The downside? Jorge works weekends. Our fabulous weekends traveling to places like Holbox, Playa del Carmen and Isla Mujeres are over, at least for the next few years. Since his shift starts at 7 am, we can’t stay out late on Friday and Saturday nights anymore. Well I can… he can’t 😛

As passionate as I am about tourism… tourism never sleeps. Employees in Mexico’s travel industry typically only get 1 day off a week (sometimes no days during high season), and it rarely falls on a weekend.

So what have I been doing with my weekends without Jorge?

  • Intense Saturdays at the gym
  • Church every Sunday
  • Running Sunday afternoon
  • Lots of TV

Not bad, but I really miss my adventures.

Last week I got so frustrated that I just went to the beach myself, something I’d never done before. My next stop was Surfin Burrito (because you can’t go into the Hotel Zone without a little somethin somethin from Surfin Burrito). Spending a day with myself wasn’t half bad, but I really did miss Jorge.

Some pics from my solo trip to Forum Beach in Cancun’s Hotel Zone:

I’d love to turn to my friends for some fun weekends, but most of them are married/have a boyfriend, so it’s hard to convince them to have a girls’ day. My amazing single friends mostly work weekends.

Feeling a little lonely.

Do ya’ll have any other great ideas for solo weekend adventures?

How to Speak Like a Mexican: Desvelado

The Spanish language has many words that don’t exist in English (and vice versa), and one of my favorites is desvelado.

The word desvelado comes from the verb desvelarse, meaning “to stay up late”. So desvelado (or desvelada, if you’re a lady), the adjective form, means something along the lines of “tired from staying up late”. Something we’ve all experienced, but there’s no exact word for it in English.

Here’s a version of one of my favorite songs, Desvelado, sung by Victor Garcia. The song is about a guy who is desvelado because he spends his nights wandering the streets, looking for a woman whose voice he heard on the radio.

Victor Garcia won second place several years ago on the show La Academia… kind of like the Mexican version of American Idol. He also looks a lot like my husband, Jorge. So that’s a plus. I chose this particular video because it has a lot of “Mexican” stuff in it like a cheesy set and cowboy gear, plus what Mexican song is complete without some whistles and yells? Love it!