Just Chill

The past 2 days have been pretty stressful. Not bad at all, just stressful.

I’m sharing with you the image I use to relax. It reminds me of why I’m living in Cancun (beach weekends) and what my professional goals are (7-day beach weekends).

I use this image (taken on Holbox island) as my cell phone screen saver.

What relaxes 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.

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

Father’s Day in Puerto Morelos

Jorge and I spent all day yesterday with my suegros for Father’s Day. After a call to my own dad (miss you!), we had tacos de lechon for what can only be described as pre-lunch.

After a quick siesta, my suegro wanted to go to Puerto Morelos for lunch. (Mexican lunch is around 3 or 4 pm.) We drove half an hour down the highway and looked around for a beachfront restaurant.

We tried a fun place called La Panza Es Primero (The Tummy Comes First), but decided to only get appetizers because the service was snail-pace slow. The food was delicious! Jorge and I shared a spicy seafood soup that was amazing, but the poor service was too much to handle.

La Panza Es Primero

La Panza Es Primero menu

For our real lunch, we went to the popular Pelicanos restaurant, right by the main plaza of Puerto Morelos. I had a Cuban sandwich that was to die for!

Pelicanos

Sorry I didn’t get any food pictures, but here are some shots from our day in Puerto Morelos, Mexico:

What did you do for Father’s Day this year?

Day Off on Isla Mujeres

 

**I’ve been featured in a guest post at CancunIsSafe.com again!! Check out my Top 5 Tips for Summer Break in Cancun.**

 

Jorge’s work schedule was changed to the evening shift, so I didn’t see him much at all during the week. However, they gave him Sunday off, which is also my day off! Hurray!

There was beautiful weather on Sunday, so we took the ferry over to Isla Mujeres for a much-needed beach day on Playa Norte (North Beach).

Here are the best pics of the day:

On the ferry

On the ferry

Marina

Our palm tree

My question for you today: Have you gotten sunburned yet this year? (’cause I sure did!)

 

Barcelo Maya Resort: The Pool

Today I’ve got more photos of the Barcelo Maya Palace Deluxe resort in the Riviera Maya, where we went for my cousin’s wedding.

Not much to say here, just daydreaming about one of the biggest pools I’ve ever seen. 🙂

Where would you most like to be today?

If you haven’t seen the resort’s beach pictures yet, click here. You’ll be glad you did!

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?

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?

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?