Retail Therapy

Yesterday Jorge and I headed out to several Cancun malls and Home Depot to do some shopping for the house. (More on that in a later post… for now let’s just say I have a lot of organizing to do this week.)

I dressed up all cute in a new outfit, paired with my favorite pair of sandals. These sandals are at least 3 years old, and I even wore them at my wedding!

Sadly, while we were walking around, one of the sandals broke. Luckily there was a Zingara store nearby, so I went straight there to find a fast replacement for my favorite sandals… and bought almost the exact same thing.

Old broken sandals on left, new sandals on right

Jorge wanted to stop by a Quicksilver store to check out some shorts, so we made our way to Plaza Outlet. I spotted a Guess outlet store and decided to go in to see if I could find a replacement for my Guess wallet, which has looked like this for the past 3 months:

🙁

Much to my delight, Guess was having a 2 for 1 sale on wallets! After looking at tons of different colors and models, what did I do? I once again bought the exact same thing… twice.

The old, broken one is on top.

I got a regular size wallet for day-to-day (bottom left), along with a larger clutch wallet for going out (bottom right). I’m going to miss the little heart decal (yes, I’m like an 8-year-old girl), but I love that the new wallets are a little larger. I considered white and black wallets as well, but I just love the gray!

Is it still successful shopping when you leave the mall with multiple versions of what you walked in with? I say yes.

Hey, this girl knows what she likes!

Are you loyal to a certain item or brand?

Gringation’s Blog Updates

Things have been very busy over here in “Gringation-land” over the past few months, and I love it!

Here are a few updates so you can see what’s going on with the blog behind the scenes:

 

New Website

I have a pretty cool new blog layout, which many of you have asked me about it. No, I did not design it myself. I have absolutely no talent with anything involving colors, design or computers. The setup and layout was all done by my friend Carlos Flores (zr.drgn@gmail.com), and it’s beautiful! Thank you Carlos for such a speedy and attractive setup. (And a special thanks for answering all my stupid questions.)

The amazing blog header was done by Angie of Strosgirl’s Designs. The mini-me in the header looks just like me! I even have the same bikini, sarong, purse and flip flops. Perfect.  It’s gotten so many compliments!

 

Sponsors

If you look to the right-hand side of the screen, you’ll see that there is a new area for blog sponsors. (The “Your Ad Here” buttons were also designed by Angie!)  My very first sponsor is photographer Monica Lopez, whom you may remember as the photographer for our Trash the Dress shoot.

Monica also photographed my cousin Shayne’s wedding in the Riviera Maya this May. Click here for the professional photos!

Monica is also doing several weddings for friends of mine throughout 2012. So exciting! Go ahead and check out her site (Jorge and I are on the main page!!) by clicking her icon in the sponsors section.

If you’re interested in advertising on Gringation’s Blog, you can check out my Sponsors and Advertising page.

 

Blogging by Gringation That’s Not Here

Lately I’ve been doing more freelance blogging, which I’m very excited about. I’ve already posted a few of these on the blog, but here’s a full list so you can check out some more of my travel writing. Just click on the image to follow through to the link:

A Weekend Getaway in Akumal (on MexicoToday.org)

Cancun As I See It: An American Testimonial (on CancunIsSafe.com)

Top 5 Tips for Summer Break in Cancun (on CancunIsSafe.com)

My Whale Shark Tour post was featured on the Dreams Resorts blog!

 

Twitter

I now have over 1,000 Twitter followers! Nothing too important there, it’s just kind of exciting. You can follow me at @CancunGringa

 

It has been so cool to see this little blog grow, grow, grow over the past few months.  Thanks so much to all my long-time readers and my newer readers for all the support, comments and e-mails. I’m passionate about showing the world how much I love Cancun and Mexico, and I’m so glad you all have let me share that with you.

The Marina at Dreams Cancun Resort

As a grand finish to my whale shark tour posts, here are some photos of the beach at the Dreams Cancun Resort and Spa. We used Solo Buceo dive tour company, which is located right at the resort.

**Fun fact: I used to intern as a concierge at Dreams Cancun way back in 2007!**

It was the perfect place to begin and end our day.

Isla Mujeres Pics and My Dream Home

On the way back to Cancun from our Whale Shark tour, we swung by one of our favorite places: Isla Mujeres. The Solo Buceo tour guide team provided us with lunch and snacks to eat on the boat while we cruised along the Isla Mujeres coastline.

We rode by Playa Norte

Then we made our way to the south end of the island, which I’d never seen from the ocean before. There was lots of lush greenery and a few tiny islands. I was in love!

That's the Cancun skyline on the horizon.

We even got to swim a bit just off the coast. Even though the water was crystal clear, it was also quite deep!

Nadia and me

But my absolute favorite part was spotting my dream house. My long-time readers know about my obsession with houses (I blame my parents), and this one, although under construction, did not disappoint. It was set right on the edge of a rocky peninsula, bordered by turquoise on two sides. It even had a few palapas and pergolas being built.

Tomorrow I’ll post some pics of our arrival back to Cancun and dry land. WHAT A DAY!

Where would your dream house be located? (Would it be a hurricane risk like mine?)

 

Swimming with Giants

Every single time I’ve gone snorkeling, whether it be in Belize, at Xcaret, at Xel-ha or in Akumal, I’ve experienced a kind of claustrophic panic. As soon as my head gets underwater, I flip out. Usually I’m able to relax after a few minutes, but snorkeling is still an uncomfortable feeling for me.

When Jorge, my friend Nadia and I decided to swim with whale sharks this weekend, I was so excited but mostly nervous! I’d never snorkeled in more than 10 feet of water before, much less in the middle of the ocean with no land in sight. Or swimming alongside a 30-foot fish.

At 7 am Sunday morning, we made our way to the Solo Buceo dive center located at the beautiful Dreams Cancun Resort and Spa in the Hotel Zone.

Our early-morning boat ride was much bumpier than I’d anticipated, and I realized it was my first time being so far away from shore! It was a scary but fascinating feeling.

Me and Nadia, ready to go!

It took us about an hour to get to the area where the whale sharks hang out. Since we were one of the first boats to arrive, we spent awhile circling the area and communicating with other boats looking for the whale sharks. Once a boat had found them, we saw all of the other boats racing toward the area, where there were about 50 whale sharks.  Beautiful.

Several couples came along with us on the boat, and the guides would take us out into the water in teams of 2. When we spotted a whale shark swimming nearby, the boat would head it off, then the guides would jump in with 2 people and swim along with the whale shark.

Since we were a bit nervous, Jorge and I waited until last. We both panicked a bit when we jumped in, but once I was able to slide my mask on and put my face underwater, the guide pointed toward my right and I saw it, swimming underneath us. Pepe (the guide) grabbed my hand and pulled me forward, and we were able to swim on top of it for awhile before it disappeared into the depths of the ocean.

Jorge and I getting ready to jump in!

Nadia looking much calmer than I could ever be

After the first round of swims, several of the people on our boat got seasick and just waited it out. The rest of us jumped in several more times. On my 2nd and 3rd swims, we tried to head off a whale shark but it went another direction, so we had to look for another one! Both times, another whale shark came swimming right at us. Since the water is so clear, I could see the whale sharks coming from quite a ways away. I can’t begin to tell you what it feels like to have this giant fish swim right at you, mouth gaping open.

Since I don’t have an underwater camera I couldn’t take any photos (fail), but here’s a shot from my friend Kelly McLaughlin so you can get an idea of just how amazing these things look:

Photo by Kelly McLaughlin

On those last 2 swims, I got to swim along just a few feet from the whale shark for several minutes. The immense gills were fascinating, and the spots were sparkly, like they’d been bedazzled by a 12-year-old girl. After we stopped and the animal swam away, I couldn’t stop looking at its huge tail!

Even though I was planning on being frightened and out of my element, it was a surprisingly peaceful experience. The whale sharks are calm, slow-moving creatures and we never once felt in danger. My guide Pepe was also great about guiding me along and pointing everything out, so I never felt lost out on the open sea.

Jorge and his guide swimming alongside a whale shark

The ocean itself surprised me almost as much as the whale sharks. As we were snorkeling along, the water was so incredibly clear and intensely blue. Rays of light shone through and disappeared way down. Even with such clear water, I couldn’t see the bottom. I can’t even imagine how deep it went.

Gringation’s Whale Shark Tour Tips:

  1. Put on sunscreen before you leave the house, or bring bio sunscreen. I was too lazy to put sunscreen on before leaving the house, and our guide told us that once you’re on the boat, it’s bio sunscreen only. And today I’m paying the price. So much sunburn. Ow.
  2. Bring an underwater camera. In a way I was glad I didn’t have one because it was one less thing to worry about while I was swimming, but trust me, you’ll want those underwater photos.
  3. The boat ride is bumpy and uncomfortable (but worth it), so I wouldn’t recommend this tour unless you’re in decent physical condition.
  4. Sunglasses!
  5. Dramamine!

We stopped by Isla Mujeres on the way back… I’ll post those pics tomorrow!

For more underwater pics and a video, check out Kelly’s post: Swimming with Whale Sharks Cancun