You Know You’ve Been Living in Mexico Too Long When…

Yesterday morning as I went downstairs to make breakfast, I noticed a few signs that made me realize just how Mexican I’ve become:

1. I heard the neighbor’s rooster crowing in the distance

2. I saw a pan full of leftover refried beans on the stove


I think I’m turning into my mother-in-law.

Gettin’ My “Spa” On

My mom has dozens of vintage mason jars on her bathroom shelves, which she uses to hold toiletries like q-tips, cotton balls, nail files, etc etc etc. I fell in love with them, and she told me I was welcome to take a few back to Mexico after Christmas.

Offer accepted!

I also just happen to have a huge bag filled with seashells from Chabihau that I’ve been trying to use up… perfect. 🙂 (Side note: If anyone in Cancun needs seashells, I can hook you up. I have hundreds.)

I put 2 mason jars on top of the toilet tank, and another on the shelves by the sink in my bathroom, which is feeling more spa-like every day!

Thanks to my mom for the mason jars and to my mother-in-law for the shells!

I’m Back and I Have Christmas Pictures!

Jorge and I just got back from a 9-day stay in Richmond to visit family for Christmas. My sisters came up from North Carolina and a bunch of cousins were there, so it was a great time! The first few days (including Christmas), we stayed at my grandparents’ house, then moved to my parents’ new loft apartment in downtown Richmond for the rest of the trip.

I didn’t take too many pictures because we were mostly busy just hanging out, so I tried to tone down my blogger habit of documenting every little thing. Here are some of the pictures I did get… (Please forgive the below-par photo quality. I got a new camera and it’s amazing, but I’m still having a hard time getting the angles right.)

Grandma Brown directing Jorge in the kitchen

Gang of wild turkeys on the golf course outside my grandparents' house

On Christmas Eve, almost all the girls my age from my church showed up. With everyone all over the place, it's rare to see us all together. I've known all these girls since I was born 🙂

A lot of the townhouses in downtown Richmond had these wild, thrown-around lights. I kinda love it.

My sisters and I have a tradition where we take pics walking down the stairs on Christmas morning. I'm sure my mom has some better ones on her camera.

My cousin's son Christian riding his new scooter

My mom with my cousins Aubrie and Lynnsie

Cousin Lynnsie with her son Christian

My cousins Aubrie, Meghan and Lynnsie

My photographer sister Sarah giving my mom a quick photography lesson

Noelle, Grandpa and Jorge playing with Christian's new toy (I like to call this one "How many engineers does it take to work a tape measure?")

Jorge helping Christian with his new video game (Jorge's area of expertise)

My mom, my sister Noelle and my dad helping out in the kitchen

I miss the malls in the States!!

Another pretty mall pic

Jorge and I walking around Carytown, a fun shopping street in downtown Richmond. I loved the vintage clothing stores, while Jorge spent some money at the used video game shop.

The train tracks and overpasses in Shockoe Bottom, downtown Richmond

My favorite building, the old train station in Richmond

Gotta love my "winter" clothes... mixing a summer skirt with a jacket, boots and tights. You do what you can when you have no winter clothes haha

My family: Noelle, Daddy, Mommy, me and Sarah

The whole family (minus brother-in-law Michael): Noelle, Mommy, Daddy, me, Jorge, Sarah and brother-in-law-to-be Jared

While I was there, I was tempted to consider moving back to the States. Amazing shopping, great restaurants, my family, drinking water straight from the tap… who could say no? Still, I’m more in love with Cancun. Jorge and I talked about it and decided that we’ll just try to visit the US more often.

I hope everyone else had an amazing Christmas!


Handling Sandy Hook while Living in Mexico

The Connecticut school shootings on Friday really shook me up. I spent Friday afternoon looking at news sites at work, reading updates and crying at my desk.

The weekend was alright. I got my mind off it for the most part, but there were many moments where I found myself in a bit of a zombie-like state. Anytime I hear any kind of reference to kids or playing, my mind immediately flashes to those classrooms for a brief instant before returning to normal.

Reading about the heroic acts of the Sandy Hook staff has helped restore my faith in humanity. I think those stories affected me more than the shooting itself.

After having several conversations with groups of Mexican friends (where I mainly kept my mouth shut and just listened) and seeing Facebook posts from many foreign friends, it seems the rest of the world is appalled at the lack of restrictions on gun ownership in the US. At the same time, many friends mentioned that Mexicans also have easy access to guns, it’s just not the legal kind… so why do these mass shootings keep happening in the USA, but not in Mexico or elsewhere? (with the notable exception of Norway 2011)

I hear people are starting to blame video game violence, TV, movies, etc, but here in Mexico they’re much more exposed to violent images. Here, you can buy a newspaper off the street and open it to find pictures of maimed corpses, yet Mexicans don’t go around shooting up schools and movie theaters. Why America? I don’t know.

Even though I live in Mexico now, my heart is still with the US and I’m so proud to be American. It’s a hard time for us all, I guess.

How are you coping?



A Romantic Christmas Surprise

Jorge and I didn’t buy a tree during our first 2 Christmases as a married couple, mainly because we knew we wouldn’t be home on the 25th because we always travel to the States.

This year, we’d also decided not to buy a Christmas tree and just hang up the usual outdoor lights. On Friday night, however, Jorge came home with a surprise Christmas tree for me. It turns out he’d been hiding tree decorations and lights for the past week!

He had asked me awhile ago what my favorite Christmas colors were, so he got me gold and red. I was so busy at the time when he asked me that I didn’t stop to think why he would ask me that. It was a good surprise.

On Sunday afternoon we finally got the chance to decorate it. It took awhile because one of our series of lights wasn’t working, so we spent several hours going to Cancun grocery stores in search of Christmas lights. (Every single one was sold out… what the heck??) Luckily Jorge’s dad had some extra lights, so by early evening we were good to go!

Apparently Konan thought I was taking a picture of her.

The “presents” (which are actually just empty boxes I wrapped) are there to hide the tree base, which is being propped up by a can of tuna. The tree guy who screwed the tree to the stand apparently didn’t realize it was lopsided. Whoopsie!

With the lights off 🙂

I love walking into my living room to the scent of Christmas tree… even when it’s 85 degrees outside.

What colors did you use on your tree this year?


A Weekend of Triathlons and Tacos

This weekend is gonna be just a little bit crazy!

Sunday morning I have to leave Cancun at 4 am to go to the Xel-Ha triathlon. No, I’m not participating (I have a fear of bikes), but I will be part of the “press”. (How fancy does that sound?)

In the afternoon, Jorge and I will be in Playa del Carmen for our favorite event: the Taste of Playa Food Festival!!! Bring on the tacos, sliders and sample size margaritas. I’ve been waiting a year for this.

If you like running, swimming, biking or margaritas, you follow along with my adventures this Sunday on Twitter with @CancunGringa or on my Gringation Blog Facebook page.

Wow. Done.

Sorry about the lack of posting over the past week or two. Life has been BUSY (a very, very good kind of busy with mini-vacations and lots of new projects). I’m kicking myself that I didn’t set up my Gringation Facebook page sooner because it has been a great way to share my adventures when I’m not able to do a full post.

One major thing that happened recently was…

I reached my goal weight!

My nutritionist had recommended that I get down to 24% body fat, and 30 pounds of fat later, I’m finally done!!

The new dieta de mantenimiento (“maintenance diet”) has been a-ma-zing. The fat loss diet never left me hungry, but it is so weird to be eating 3 TIMES as many carbs as I used to. I also get 2 cheat meals a week, plus the occasional brownie, should the opportunity present itself. When I saw the list for my new diet, I actually got tears in my eyes. It was so much food. I’ll be honest, most days I don’t eat all the portions I’m supposed to, and that’s 100% ok.

I’ve also been keeping up with my workouts. Today I ran 2K without stopping for the first time ever! A new record! Then I ran/walked another 6K after that. What a morning.

So here are the before and after pics for today…

Before: 160 pounds and 35% body fat

After: 130 pounds and 24% body fat

Aaaaand the face…

Before: 160 pounds

After: 130 pounds


Thanks to all my readers for the amazing support, e-mails, comments, workout tips and compliments. Ya’ll are THE BEST.


Read more about my weight loss journey with these posts:

Weight Loss Before and After: Part 1

Weight Loss Before and After: Part 2

Weight Loss Before and After: Part 3

Weight Loss Before and After: Part 4

Weight Loss Before and After: Part 5

Weight Loss Before and After: Part 6

Weight Loss Before and After: Part 7

Weight Loss Before and After: Part 8