December Beach Day in Cancun

The past few months, Cancun has been beaten up by ridiculous amounts of rain. We managed to escape a hurricane yet again in 2013, but we had to deal with several weeks worth of significant street flooding. Now that I’m working from home, I don’t get out nearly as much as I’d like to because it’s just not worth it to leave the house most days. Today, however, was different.

After being stuck indoors Sunday through Tuesday, I smiled when I woke up to a bright blue sky this morning. Jorge and I decided it would be the perfect chance to go out and explore the Hotel Zone on my lunch break. And it was.

We went to Chili’s at Plaza Forum… not the most creative choice, but Surfin’ Burrito was closed for the day and Chili’s is one of the only Cancun restaurants with an ocean view. This was the view from my seat:

After lunch, we couldn’t resist stepping onto the sand to sit down, relax and take a few pictures! These are all from between Forum Beach and Chac Mool Beach in the Cancun Hotel Zone (just outside Plaza Forum and Salvia condos).

Sometimes during a particularly bad rainy season, it’s hard to remember that I live in a really cool city. It’s impossible to make weekend plans because most of the time they will be cancelled. Even if it’s sunny when you step out to go to lunch, the streets might be too flooded to make it back home by the time you’re done eating.

Today was perfect, though.

Foodie Paradise at Taste of Playa 2013

Jorge and I don’t have the most “sophisticated palates” (a term for all the foodies out there). At our house, we eat a lot of quesadillas, sandwiches, cereal, fruit and salads. Our oven is used exclusively for storing tupperware. We (ok, “I”) spend a significant portion of our food budget on ordering sushi.

That being said, I know a good bagel when I try one, and Jorge can taste-test a beer with the best of ’em.

This past Sunday was our 4th year in a row attending Taste of Playa, an annual event in Playa del Carmen where the city’s best restaurants and bars set up stands to serve their favorite recipes. Taste of Playa gives Jorge and I the chance to be “foodies for a day”, pretending we know what we’re talking about as we feast on fancy french desserts, oh-so-trendy reinvented Mexican cuisine, artisanal chocolates, organic recipes, and some of the strongest alcoholic beverages I’ve ever had.

My favorite item were the macaroons by Café Antoinette! Jorge and I tried a maracuyá (passion fruit) flavored macaroon, and it was one of the best things I’ve ever tasted. We also split a jamaica macaroon (pronounced “ha-MY-ca”, it’s the Spanish word for a flavor taken from hibiscus flower… popular for Mexican drinks) which was pretty spectacular, too.

As for the rest, I’ll let the pics speak for themselves!

Fish Fritanga: Authentic Mexican Seafood in Cancun

I’ve been gone from the blog awhile… lots of work, lots of trips, but now I’m back. It looks like I have finally caught up on all my work. (Famous last words, amiright?) If you want to catch up on what I’ve been doing, I post mostly to my CancunGringa Instagram account now. Still, I really miss blogging and hopefully now I can get back into it.

Back to the blog post at hand… A few weeks ago, Jorge and I had a lunch date! We used to go on dates all the time, but lately we’ve been hanging out more with friends on the weekends. We decided to revisit Fish Fritanga, where we had gone once with my blogging buddy Ang and her fiance (now husband!) and loved. Fish Fritanga is a little bit expensive, in my opinion, but it has the best seafood I’ve ever had in Cancun. It tastes just like the freshly caught seafood we eat with Jorge’s family in Chabihau, Yucatan, so it must be authentic!

It’s located in the Hotel Zone, about halfway between Plaza La Isla and Plaza Kukulcan on the lagoon side. From the street it looks like a tiny takeout place, but if you head downstairs you’ll find the main restaurant and bar area with palapas on the sand and views of the Nichupte Lagoon.

It looks empty in the pictures (and it was), but that’s only because Jorge and I got there early. The big lunch crowd came in as we were finishing our meal, around 2 pm. Since we got there before the crowd, we picked a table right by the lagoon/marina/mangrove and got to watch the little fish swimming around.

We started off with some guac…

And I couldn’t resist asking for a mojito, which had some words of wisdom to offer:

"A veces no hacer nada es hacer algo" (Sometimes doing nothing is doing something)

For the main course, Jorge got his usual ceviche, while I got my favorite: chilpachole soup!

If you’re ever in Cancun, Fish Fritanga is one of my top restaurant recommendations. (My 3rd favorite!) Authentic Mexican seafood, great outdoor atmosphere, and an easy-to-find location right in the middle of the Hotel Zone.

 

Ceviche and Sunsets on Isla Mujeres

Work is fiiiinally starting to slow down, and I’m back to share some more of my adventures with you guys! Two weeks ago, Jorge and I got to go to Isla Mujeres with some friends for a fun Sunday afternoon. The other two couples with us weren’t as familiar with the island as we were, so we got to show them some of our favorite spots.

We also stayed until dark, which is something we’ve never done before.

First was my favorite part: the ferry ride! Seriously, for the absolute best Caribbean Sea views, grab a camera, get a seat on the top deck of the Ultramar ferry and thank me later.

 

Next was a little walk through downtown Isla Mujeres. I love all the different kinds of island transportation.

 

And of course, I tried to get a few pics of the downtown Isla Mujeres lifestyle. I’m working more on getting pics of people and things instead of just scenery and alcoholic beverages…..

 

For lunch we went to my favorite place: Jax! Upper story terrace with ocean views. Sadly I only got 1 pic because I was too busy stuffing my face with a Coke float and ceviche. (It was ridiculously hot that day.)

 

After lunch, of course we walked up the street to Playa Norte (North Beach). I really need to stop going to Isla Mujeres on weekends. So. Many. Boats.

 

We spread out our sarongs in the shade of a palm tree and took turns going into the ocean to cool off. As the conversation flowed, we found out that one couple used to live in the same apartment the other couple lives in now. (It was the first time the two couples had met.) Cancun is really, really small.

 

A few of use bought some ankle bracelets from a vendor walking along the beach. Here’s mine (still wearing it now)!

 

A few hours later, we saw the sun going down over the water and moved closer to shore. This is really sad, but I had no idea that you could see the sun set from Playa Norte. Cancun sits on the eastern coast of Mexico, so we can see sunrises but not many sunsets. Isla Mujeres is an exception.

 

Once it started to get dark, we walked back downtown to one of Jorge’s favorites: the delicious and super-cheap Los de Pescado, a fish taco and burrito joint right by the main square. Then it was back to Cancun on the ferry, where we came within inches of crashing into a pirate ship. (I can’t really elaborate much more on that story… it’s exactly what it sounds like.)

Hasta luego, Isla Mujeres!

 

 

The Cancun Blogger Goes To… Los Cabos???

I haven’t been posting regularly for a very long time now, but your patience will be well rewarded!

As many of you know, I’m now working as a copywriter and blogger for Sandos resorts. One of the many perks of my new job is that they’re sending me on trips to all their Mexico resorts to get to know the hotels. In early May, they opened the new Sandos Finisterra Los Cabos, which is where I am right now! I’ve never been to Los Cabos before… my first time on the west coast of anything, and my first time seeing the Pacific Ocean.

Get ready for some pics!

I’ll start with pics of the resort itself. It’s one of the first all inclusives in Cabo San Lucas, and it has an amazing location on a hill between the ocean and the Cabo San Lucas marina. I’m in love with it. With its desert-style gardens and huge rocks, it’s a far cry from Cancun.

 

My first morning I got invited out on an ATV tour through the Baja California desert. It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done! We played around on the desert then at the beach.

Not a real wink... maybe too much sun? haha


Saturday night… a sunset sailboat cruise to Land’s End Arch. I felt like a Kardashian.

Full moon rising at sunset

 

The resort’s sales director told me and my coworker Enrique that there was a beach formed under the arch. This only happens every few years, so we had to go the next morning to make sure we could see it before it disappeared for another 6 years or so. First we had a boat drop us off at the nearby Lovers’ Beach:

 

Then we crossed to the neighboring Divorce Beach. At the back of the beach was a thin strip of sand along a rock wall that led to the arch. The problem: The waves would crash against the rock, then fall back and expose the sand. We had to time it perfectly and sprint through the temporary mini-beach, but it was worth it because we got to be one of the lucky few who can say they stood under the Land’s End Arch:

 

I have 5 more days here, so there will be more photos to come! In the meanwhile, I’m posting a few pics a day on the Gringation Cancun Facebook page.

 

Flamingo Watching in Chabihau, Yucatan

We just got back from yet another awesome weekend in Chabihau. Jorge’s been going his whole life and I’ve been going for 6 years, but it feels even more like home now that we’ve bought land there.

I have a bunch of stuff to share from our latest visit, but I’ll start with some flamingo pictures.

I’ve mentioned before that the Chabihau lagoon has tons of flamingos, even if they never venture too close to shore. This time, Jorge’s cousin Jimmy offered to take us out in a little boat (known as an “alijo”) to go out onto the lagoon to see the flamingos up-close. I’d been waiting for years, so I jumped at the opportunity!

The lagoon (technically it’s a salt flat) is only about 2 – 3 feet deep, despite it’s large size, so Jimmy was able to take us all the way across the lagoon gondola-style.

 

My favorite thing about the lagoon is all the birds! Before we even got to the flamingos, we saw this one huge group of pelicans and sandwich terns. Jimmy says they always hang out at this spot around sunset.

 

Think we scared them away, though…

 

About half an hour later, we’d reached the other side of the lagoon. I could see hundreds of flamingos way out on the horizon, and we had to speak very quietly so we wouldn’t scare them off.

 

Jimmy had warned us that if they saw us coming, they would start to walk in the opposite direction and it would be impossible to get close enough for a good picture.

Sure enough, they saw us coming from far away and did their best to keep their distance.

Still, thanks to some great maneuvering by cousin Jimmy the boatman, we were able to sneak up on one group by hiding behind a mangrove patch then sneaking closer.

 

Once they spotted us, they took off flying. But that’s ok because sometimes the in-flight pics are the best ones.

 

We decided to take advantage of the daylight we had left to sneak up on another group of flamingos. Again we snuck around a mangrove patch.

 

BAM! Close enough for some clearer pics!

 

After a few seconds, though, we were again spotted. The entire heard began to walk away to the left.

 

We followed alongside them (still from a distance) as best we could, but after a few minutes they got sick of us and once again decided to fly off.

 

It was starting to get dark, so we finally left the flamingos alone and headed back home to the other side of the lagoon. The sunset made for some nice pics!

 

Have you ever seen flamingos before? Where?

 

Mayan Ruins in the Cancun Hotel Zone? Yup!

The past few weeks have been ridiculously busy (in the best way). Jorge and I are working a lot and taking lots of little vacations as always, so I have tons of pics to show you guys.

Today I’ll start with a day trip we did 2 weeks ago. It was a Sunday afternoon with not much to do, and I was dying to get out of the house. Naturally, I talked Jorge into taking me out into the sunshine to visit some Mayan ruins in Cancun’s Hotel Zone.

 

Yes, that’s a giant Cancun resort in the background. (The Iberostar)

Not many tourists know that we have a pretty big Mayan ruins site right here in the Hotel Zone. I asked Jorge why nobody ever came to Ruinas del Rey (took me 8 years to do it!) when it’s right here, really pretty and so cheap. In all his wisdom, Jorge told me that it’s probably because no tour company can sell it because you can just take a 5-minute bus ride, so nobody advertises it.

Well, here’s us advertising Ruinas del Rey!

 

 

We only saw maybe 5 other little groups while we were there… but what Ruinas del Rey doesn’t have in people, it makes up for in iguanas.

So. Many. Iguanas.

 

Ruinas del Rey is 500 meters long (about 1/3 mile), so there’s quite a bit to explore. I had always figured it would be a small site, but I was wrong!

 

Have any of you guys been to Ruinas del Rey yet?

Cancun Spring Break Safety: Partying with Marines

Every single year the US and Canadian media start bashing Mexico right around Spring Break. It never fails. This year they grabbed on to a news story about a shooting at a Cancun bar. (Which, by the way, happened in a bad bar in a bad neighborhood and was just bad guys shooting bad guys, nothing to do with tourists or even innocent locals. I understand this kind of stuff happens in every city.)

Anyway, to combat the unsafe image of Cancun that many foreigners now have thanks to inflated media reports, the government has decided to send in the marines to Spring Break.

THE MARINES.

A little added police presence might be a nice way to help Spring Breakers feel a little safer, but I don’t think anybody feels good when they see dozens (seriously, dozens) of marines in fatigues carrying very, very large guns.

The past few times I’ve been to Party Center, I’ve seen lots of these guys:

 

I’m sure the city of Cancun has the best intentions here and really does want the tourists to just feel safe. Back in the States, if I were to see a pickup truck filled with men in fatigues and helmets carrying giant guns, I would instantly assume we were in a war zone. Mexico’s different though, and here that’s just how the authorities like to drive around. (I think they think it makes them look cool.)

It’s normal here in Cancun and doesn’t mean anything bad, but unfortunately I don’t think most tourists are used to seeing this:

 

What do you guys think? Would marines make you feel safer or less safe?

Cancun Spring Break 2013: A Local’s View

This year, Jorge and I had decided that we wanted to check out the Spring Break 2013 atmosphere in Cancun. We’re 27 years old now (!!), so we figured we should go to Spring Break before we got too old and started to look creepy.

Turns out that wasn’t a problem.

We went on a Friday night and were surprised to see that Party Center was PACKED, but not with crazy 18-year-olds like we were expecting. Most of the people we saw in the street were about our age (mid-20s) and there were plenty of people in their 30s, 40s and up as well! (There were college kids, too, just not as many as we were expecting for Spring Break.)

It was also about 80% guys. That’s good news for the ladies, I guess.

Proof of all the guys

 

Even though it wasn’t a typical “Spring Break” crowd, it was still a cool atmosphere! And now we know that we’re free to go back to party no matter what our age.

We spent the night at Mandala, which I’d never been to before. Soooo many people! I didn’t have the best time mainly because of the music. Anyone who knows me knows that I HATE techno music with a burning passion. Unfortunately, clubs have started playing almost entirely techno songs over the past few years. I just can’t have fun with techno music playing. Had to fake it most of the night before they finally played a few hip hop and pop songs around 2 am.

Musical preferences aside, Mandala was still a pretty cool club.

And just to show you what Party Center looks like during Spring Break, here are some street pics:

 

Have you been to Spring Break in Cancun?

Kites, Clouds and Empanadas in PM

Jorge was in Merida all weekend (getting the papers signed for our land in Chabihau), so I found myself with nothing to do on Sunday afternoon. I texted my friend Viri, who said she was planning on going to Puerto Morelos for some beach time and late lunch. Count me in!

Table, chairs and umbrella for $100 pesos! Plus our cooler full of stuff from Oxxo

 

The weather was stunning when we got to the beach…

Divers and a cooler... typical Puerto Morelos behavior

 

But as soon as we sat down, the clouds covered the entire sky and didn’t move for the rest of the day.  It was still beautiful, though!

 

We saw a few families out flying their kites, too! Wish I knew how to do this

 

After the beach, we went to this little place…

 

…for some of these!

 

Overall a great day, even with the chilly weather and looming clouds. Puerto Morelos isn’t my favorite beach in the area (I tend to prefer less kids and less people), but it really is gorgeous and tons of fun!

Have you been to the beach at Puerto Morelos? What did you think?