Why I Can’t Compete with Mexican Women

My first clue was 9 years ago at university here in Cancun.

In 1st semester, my Mexican classmates would frequently ask me, “Laura, where are your earrings?” “Laura, why didn’t you do your hair today?” “Laura, why do you have huge bags under your eyes?” So for the past 9 years, I have made sure to never leave the house without earrings and concealer. The comments have almost entirely disappeared. (I still don’t “do” my hair, though, because I’m not sure what that means. Now that it’s super-long, nobody says anything, so I think I’m ok.)

On Saturday, Jorge and I went to a wedding. I put on a pretty dress, strapped on some nice sandals and covered my face in exorbitant quantities of makeup. This time, I was determined to get it right.

And yet, once we were at the reception, I looked around me and saw scores of Mexican women with beautifully crafted makeup designs. We were surrounded on all sides by immaculately blended smoky eyes, perfectly glossed lips and expertly placed lashes, all complemented by skin-tight cocktail dresses, push-up bras and sky-high heels. These women are good. My makeup looked bland and colorless by comparison. So what is a girl to do? I rushed to the ladies room, where I had to wait for two tween girls to take some selfies before I achieved mirror access, then I put on as much eyeliner as my eyes could handle. Better. But still not enough. Eyeliner was all I had in my arsenal, so it would have to do for now. I swore that for the next big social event, I would attempt a smoky eye.

Today, it’s happening all over again. The internet at my house is down, so I had to rush to Starbucks this morning to start work at 9am. I barely had time to wash my hair before I left the house, but I did manage to shower and miraculously iron my shirt. So here I am right now, sitting at Starbucks, with a naked face and damp, tangled hair. This Starbucks, however, is a fancy Starbucks. The people who come here are Cancun’s elite… or at least, they pretend to be. The women here have perfectly straightened hair and brightly colored wardrobes that look anything but effortless, or sometimes expensive workout gear paired with a full face of makeup so they can look spectacular during a session at the nearby gym. When the men walk past my table in their tightly-fitting button-up shirts and overly gelled hair, overpowering scents of Lacoste and D&G reach my nostrils for a brief instant. My ears are filled with the sounds of the baristas preparing Pumpkin Spice Lattes, the giggles of 30-something Mexican trophy wives, and the over-enunciations of Mexican businessmen trying to impress their colleagues. It’s a fashion show, and I showed up unprepared.

And surprise, surprise… once again, I’m the only female in the room with no earrings.

 

A Cancun-Style Fairytale

In summer 2005, I left my family and friends behind. At age 19 I had moved to Cancun, a place where I didn’t know anybody. My first memory of the city is riding in a van from the airport to the downtown bus station. The van passed through the entire length of the Cancun Hotel Zone, stopping to let off other passengers along the way. The city had me hooked immediately. From that first van ride from the airport, I was mesmerized by the glittering lights of the huge beach hotels. This was where I belonged.

This week, 9 years of exploring, writing and learning have culminated in something pretty cool: one of the biggest travel publications in the world has named me a Cancun expert.

I’m thrilled to announce that I’m the Travel + Leisure Cancun Local Expert!

It’s every travel writer’s dream to write for a huge publication like Travel + Leisure, and I’m beyond happy to be working with them. I’ll be sharing my Travel + Leisure articles periodically on the Gringation Blog Facebook page so you can see even more of this city that I love so much.

They also have an extensive list of other great travel experts in different cities across the globe, which you can see here. I’m in good company.

From confused teenage American in 2005… to top Cancun travel expert in 2014!

Thanks to my parents for going along with my crazy move to Mexico, to Jorge for always being there to convince me I’m superwoman, to my boss Michele Kinnon at BuyPlaya Real Estate for recommending me to Travel + Leisure, and to all of my Mexican friends who have showed me what this culture is all about over the past decade.

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?

How to Speak Like a Mexican: La Última y Nos Vamos

Here in Mexico, you can often hear the expression “la última y nos vamos” (last one, then we leave) in reference to one last beer before heading home.

LIES.

Last night Jorge and I went out with some friends and decided to stop by one last bar, where our buddy Carlos said, “la última y nos vamos”.

Then, this showed up at our table:

There were only 3 people drinking beer.

By

How to Speak Like a Mexican: 8 Days a Week

There are 7 days in a week. I can prove it:

  1. Sunday
  2. Monday
  3. Tuesday
  4. Wednesday
  5. Thursday
  6. Friday
  7. Saturday

I can even prove it in Spanish:

  1. Domingo
  2. Lunes
  3. Martes
  4. Miércoles
  5. Jueves
  6. Viernes
  7. Sábado

And yet, in Mexico they typically refer to a week as “8 days”. Guess how long 2 weeks is in Mexico? 15 days.

Wrong, isn’t it? Well, maybe not.

Let’s say you’re talking to your friend Pepe on a Sunday, and you decide to get together again on the following Sunday. In English, we would say, “next Sunday” or “a week from today”. In Mexico, however, they might say “domingo en 8 días” (Sunday 8 days from now).

Turns out that in Mexico, they count the current day as well.

So if you’re planning coffee with Pepe 1 week from today (a Sunday), you would count the following days:

  1. Sunday (today)
  2. Monday
  3. Tuesday
  4. Wednesday
  5. Thursday
  6. Friday
  7. Saturday
  8. Sunday (the day you want to hang out with Pepe)

So next time a Mexican tells you they’ll see you in 8 days, they mean they’ll see you this day next week!

Beach Day With Some Amigos

I haven’t been posting as much lately because I’ve been ridiculously busy (a very very good kind of busy, even if it drives me crazy sometimes), but I did get some free time this weekend to go to the beach with some friends. We went to Forum Beach in the Cancun Hotel Zone on a whim, and it was such a cool day.

Here come the pics…

My amigo Miguel

Missey and Miguel

Me and Missey

Missey and me

Who do you like to go to the beach with?

My Mexican Friends Were Right All Along

I tried sushi for the first time about 5 years ago, and it was love at first bite.

In Mexico, sushi is served with two kinds of soy sauce:

  1. Soy sauce with lime
  2. Soy sauce with jalapeño

I have always been enamoured with the lime soy sauce. (Seriously, don’t even try to give me sushi with regular soy sauce. It’s kinda gross.) The jalapeño soy sauce, however… not so much. I always thought, “Jalapeño soy sauce? What’s wrong with Mexicans?”

Then I started ordering a sushi roll that came with a side of chipotle mayo. HEAVEN. DIVINE. That little kick of spice was just perfect. Just the lime soy sauce was no longer enough to satisfy my weekly sushi binges. I NEEDED spicy with my sushi.

Then yesterday, I realized I had evolved to this:

My new-found need for spicy sushi has now led me to actually using the jalapeño soy sauce I used to make fun of Mexicans for. (bonus points if there’s chipotle mayo AND jalapeño soy sauce)

I’m becoming one of them. This should automatically qualify me for Mexican citizenship.

Somebody slap me when I start putting ketchup and worcestershire sauce on my pizza.

Need more proof I’m turning Mexican? Check these out:

 

What We’ve Been Up To

I know I’ve been writing a ton about our little adventures over the past few months, but I haven’t talked much about the day-to-day lately. With Tulum vacations and hanging out on Cancun beaches, what have we been doing between our mini vacations?

This semester, Jorge got a teaching job at a Cancun high school. He’s teaching calculus, geometry and physics, and he seems to really love it. I’ve seen him tutor his cousins before, so I knew teaching was really his thing. It’s fun to hear him talk about his students (he has over 40 students in each class. Yikes!) and to see him grading papers and making lesson plans at home. So proud!

For a few years, my goal has been to get enough freelance writing work so I can quit my day job and work from home. As much as I like my office job, it’s my dream to be able to go on tours, on vacation, etc (and write about it!) without having to limit myself to my vacation days. In the past few months I’ve gotten a few new freelance jobs, and it looks like I might be very close to my goal. Unfortunately, right now this means that I’m working 4 jobs!! I get home from work and continue working on the computer every evening. It’s been tiring, but I still enjoy it. Writing about being on vacation isn’t so bad!

A few weeks ago I also got to meet a blogger who I’ve known online for 3 years! Ang (of Football, Sushi and the Pursuit of Happiness) was staying at a Cancun resort with her fiance Steve. We got lunch at Fish Fritanga, which I hadn’t tried before but it was amazing, then went to Plaza La Isla to walk around and have some drinks.

The dogs have been pretty good, too. My idea of relaxation is being able to hang out at home with these lovely ladies…

Konan caught sleeping in our bed

Dolly with the puppy dog eyes

Suki in her favorite sleeping spot... on my purse

We also went to Cozumel over the weekend for Carnaval, and we got to snorkel with starfish! Pics to come. 🙂

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.