Showing posts from June, 2008

Arrests in Murder of Canadian in Cabo

Here's a short update on the case of Bouabal Bounthavorn, the Canadian killed at a resort last month in Cabo San Lucas. According to reports, two men have been arrested for the murder in what was reportedly a botched robbery attempt. One Mexican man and one American man are charged in the homicide of Bounthavorn and the non-fatal shooting of his girlfriend Masha Heikali after targeting them for robbery. It is alleged that they had been following Bouabal as they believed he had money and or drugs in his hotel room. Before the arrest, an American man who had been held as a witness was charged with giving a false statement to police about the incident.


I am frustrated. I'm looking, searching, digging for any kind of information about the Gay Pride Parade that is supposed to be happening tomorrow in Cancun. Pride Week was always one of the best times of year when I lived in Toronto. A festival celebrating open minds and open hearts where anything goes and it's all about the love (well, the love, the booze, the parties, the shiny bodies), supported by the government and attended by gay and straight alike. It was always well organized and a very visible celebration of the rights and freedoms of sexual orientation that people fought so hard for. You couldn't walk down the street without seeing a flyer, a billboard, a banner, whole newspapers advertising the upcoming festivities, I always knew I could find something fabulous happening on Church St. in the week leading up to the big parade. The parade is famous for drawing over a million visitors a year, with very few (if any) instances of violence or problems. I could …

A Little Drop of Rain

I got wet today. Very, very wet today. Wet like wading up to my knees in water while carrying Max, a purse, a knapsack and attempting to actually get the umbrella to do something to protect us from the torrents kind of wet. This is why we have cheap plastic chanklas (sandals) to wear around town and why my summer time pants are always capri length, no harm done. Well, except for the fact that I was soaked to the skin, my uniform was plastered to me with rivulets of water pouring down my face and the back of my neck. Useless umbrella. Perooooo, Max and I have decided that rain is fun and even though we (he) might be a little scared of the thunder and lightning, we (he) knows that it's just birdies playing soccer and scoring GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLS in the sky.

And rain makes the green grow! Look at these shots of the back yard. The one on the left was taken on May 29 (remember how excited I was about rain?...mmmm, I'm over it) and the one on the right was taken today,…

Vive la France!

This one is for Fned.....I haven't found an "I Heart Paris" shirt yet, but Max's school celebrated the French Revolution today.

Just the facts?

I like/love/hate to read the news. Sometimes it is an obsession with me, other times I don't read any news for weeks at a time. Mostly I read the local news, there are lots of Cancun newspapers to choose from. Unfortunately, like other media outlets, they are not always accurate nor do they agree with each other. Por Esto will say one thing, Novedades another, wading through the mess to come up with some sense of what really happened can be very challenging. It is also frustrating that I cannot seem to find a 24/7, "News to the Minute" website for Cancun. The news websites are just copies of the actual newspapers printed that day so no "Late Breaking" information is available, you've always got to wait for the next day to read about what is happening today. I've found some sites that seem to be making an effort at bringing up to the minute news, but they are small and it seems they are just starting out so some days they are just not on their gam…

Positively Positive

I am on a quest. A quest for positivity. I have had my troubles with depression, but even on my worst days, I find something positive to think about. Usually it's Max or the beach or the weather or the flowers outside, but I can always find a little piece of joy even on the worst of days. Finding the light in a sea of dark can be difficult, especially when those around me are crying the blues or nagging or complaining or kvetching about every little thing. I know some people absolutely revel in finding the negative, they are the black to my white, in even the best situations they can find something to moan about. Someone a couple of weeks ago suggested that I was TOO positive, though I just don't think that is possible.

I am not naive. I understand the problems of the world and society and Mexico and Cancun. I read the papers daily, I know that the world is falling apart around us, but it's been doing that for thousands of years and we must still move forward, what&…

I'm a Sentimental Fool

I won't bore you with the details of Max's fabulous show on Saturday, but I will share a short video of his performance of "I'm a Believer" (really, it's short, less than 40 seconds of cuteness and sappiness on my part).

I went, I saw, I cried like a big sucky mama. Oh the pride in my little Elvis wannabe, what's going to happen to this sentimental fool of a mom when something BIG happens? I'm going to be a puddle at his high school graduation if my tears at these little events mean anything. I'm pre-ordering my medication, don't worry, I won't embarrass him. Too much.

Does anyone have a hanky?

Raising Multilingual Kids

A few mommies out there have asked for support or advice on raising a bilingual child. I am by no means an expert, but I've got three plus years of living with a bilingual kid and watching his development step by step. As an English teacher by day, I am probably a little bit over-aware of grammar and vocabulary, so I watch his every move quite closely. It's not necessary to be a "Grammar Queen" to have success with bilingual kids, just speaking in your chosen language consistently is the key.

There are many schools of thought on raising multilingual children, the two most prevalent being "OPOL", "One parent, one language" and "home versus community". We are using OPOL as it fits our situation perfectly. As the native English speaker in the house, my relationship with Max is strictly in English. This was harder at the beginning than I thought it would be. When we are out in the community, it can be very difficult for me to speak to …

Song and Dance Man

Our Gang
Max's School Buddies/Fellow Dancers

One of the things I really love about Max's school is how much they dance and sing. And I don't mean just movin' to the groovin', I mean choreography, rehearsals, costumes and performances. I grew up dancing, I started when I was four years old, competed internationally, dance was my university major and I didn't stop until an injury put me out of the game at age 24. My brother is still dancing professionally , he's been living and working as a dancer in Los Angeles since 1990. My dad does two musicals a year with the local theater company, singing mostly but he's not a bad dancer at all! Hubby used to be a folk dancer, in fact he toured Mexico with a performance company. So, song and dance are in our blood and I am thrilled that Max is being introduced to the world of theater at a young age.

Tomorrow is the big end of year event for his school and they will be having a performance in the large theater at t…

The Blahs

Oh rainy season. Brings on the blues and the blahs. You make plans for fun stuff and end up stuck inside all day with a hyperactive three year old. Blah. When it rains even just a little, the SkyTv loses the signal so now you are stuck inside the house with a hyperactive three year old who can't watch Spongebob. Blue. You plan a romantic interlude with the Hubby and the thunderstorm scares Max so bad he HAS to sleep with Mommy. Blah and blue. You get a little sliver of blue sky and sun and you pack the beach bag only to be forced back inside by dark clouds ten minutes later. And now you have a hyperactive, tantrum-throwing three year old with wet shoes, no Spongebob and a fear of thunderstorms screaming "I WANT DA BEACH!". BLAH BLAH BLAH.

Rain, rain, go away, come again another day. But not this weekend, we really need some beach time!

I No Did It!

Observing Max develop language skills in both English and Spanish is really amazing and at times, really amusing. He's incredibly keen on learning correct verb tenses, practicing new ones all the time. In English he's using past, present, future and continuous tenses (though still learning new vocab at the same time so it's tricky), he's almost better than a lot of my students. He is still only three though, so the process is just that, a process. He'll slip, forget, use the wrong tense, use the wrong word and very very rarely he'll use the Spanish word. He just doesn't mix his languages, a common concern for bilingual parents or people interested in starting the process. He gets upset if WE mix our languages or if I speak Spanish. He goes downright crazy if Hubby chooses to speak English to him, it's a riot to watch him freak out.

Hubby: "Let's play cars Max, and we'll speak in English"
Max: "Papaaaaaaa, noooooo! Vamos a …

Father's Day Road Trip Part One

Ok, we're back on track with Blogger's ability to upload photos, yay!

Let's go back in time, just a couple of days to Sunday morning. Seeing as it was father's day, we knew we would be getting out of town, this time Hubby's call as to where to go. He suggested Tulum and thus our plan/non-plan was born. Pack a beach bag and hit the road. Tulum is about two hours south of Cancun so the portable DVD player came with to entertain the three year old with a short attention span. Of course, just as we hit Playa del Carmen it started to rain, but we knew just to keep on going and we'd get through it.

We arrived in Tulum about 11 am, paid the 50 pesos to park and walked into the entrance. Not quite Disney, but not really rustic either, we saw a Subway and a little mini plaza that kind of took away from any mystical properties this Mayan site might have presented me otherwise. The first thing we saw were "Los Voladores de Papantla" or "The Papantla F…

Technical freakin' difficulties

ARGH. I've been trying and trying to get my pictures uploaded for Part One of the Road Trip, but Blogger is apparently having a bad Monday and I just keep getting error messages. So, hang in there, pics and post are coming, just maybe not until tomorrow.

Meantime, I am SORE. My whole body hurts from our little adventure yesterday, I feel about 85 years old. My shoulder and neck hurt from playing "catch" with Max and Mimi on the third floor balcony and me on the beach. Duh, I haven't played ball since I was a teenager, what was I thinking? I think I tore a rotator cuff. Lower back hurts from carrying Max when he refused to walk, hips hurt from power snorkeling away from barracuda and I ache all over from four hours in the car.

I think a hot bath, a massage and a sleep are definitely in order. I will try again later for the pics of the adventure, but for now I am stepping away from the computer before I smack it.

Father's Day Road Trip Part Two

Part two you say? Yes, part two, cause part two of our father's day road trip rocked and it deserves to go first! Part one will come tomorrow, I promise, and you really won't miss the story without it.

When we finished baking in the sun near the rocks of Tulum (oooh, foreshadowing part one), we thought we might like to check out Akumal as we had never been before and were up for some beach time. And hey, wait a minute, we actually know someone in Akumal who might be able to give us a tip on where to find some beach! I whipped out my magical cell phone and called the lovely Mimi of Jonna and Mimi fame. Instead of getting directions to a public beach, we got an invitation to visit them at their private beach, fab-u-lous! Into our trusty Tracker and off down the highway to Akumal we went.

What a beautiful spot, I have total beach-living envy. Jonna and Mimi were more than welcoming and Max was charmed immediately by gifts of cars, parachute men and a Slinky. The dogs were s…

Mmmmm, Cemitas.....

I was starving when Hubby picked me up from work today and he came up with the brilliant idea to hit one of our secret little hideaways in Cancun for big, honkin', ginormous cemitas. Cemitas are found in a few states in Mexico, but their fame seems to come from Puebla, Hubby's home town. Cemitas are similar to tortas only in that they are sandwiches, other than that, the flavours are quite different.

The cemita's distinguishing feature is the delicious sesame seeded egg bread they are served on, thought to have been introduced to Mexico by Lebanese immigrants. The fillings are typically milanesa (breaded meat fried to a deep golden brown), pata (pig's feet), quesillo (just cheese and lots of it) or something as simple as ham. The bread is hard, but seems to have a sweet flavour. The toppings on a cemita include fresh avocado slices, panela cheese, Oaxaca cheese (or other string cheese), onions and "papalo", a fresh herb that is quite similar to cilantro. …

Kitten Break

The last few days have been pretty heavy in my blogosphere, writing about a tragedy has taken its toll on me, I've spent so much time reading news, forums and answering emails that my brain hurts. Hubby and others have mentioned they are concerned for me with the attention on the blog, especially after reading a report linking the governor of Quintana Roo and my blog in an article about fighting bad publicity for Cancun. Hubby also heard my blog mentioned a few times on the radio today. I won't stop writing about the sinking of the Sea Star, but will only post when something ground breaking comes to light. For now, with all due respect to the people involved in the Sea Star, I am going to move on to something a bit less serious. If you are looking for stories on the sinking of the ship, scroll down or look to the left bar for previous posts.

And now a walk on the lighter side with kittens! Buzz and Ziggy are growing like weeds, causing havoc, learning how to climb the sta…

Port Captain's Preliminary Report on the Sinking of the Sea Star

Vicente Arturo Martinez Morales, the captain of the port of Puerto Juarez, has made a preliminary report on the partial sinking of the tourist boat that took the life of a young girl. A press release from the Cancun Convention and Visitor's Bureau attempts to clarify the issue of overcrowding on the boat and determine possible reasons why the catamaran began to sink. I would like to clarify that I cannot be responsible for the accuracy of the report, I have cited my sources and leave it to you to believe or not believe what the media outlets are saying.

The original Spanish version can be found here, I find it interesting that they have not posted an English version. Here is a rough English translation. Highlights from the report include:

1. Official capacity numbers from the Department of Naval Engineering allow the Sea Star to carry a total of 250 passengers. The Maritime Safety Certificate only gave permission to carry 80 passengers and three crew members to the protected ar…

Boating Accident Victim Dies in Hospital

I am sad to report that Lisa Chung has been taken off life support and has died in hospital. My thoughts go out to her family and friends. The eighteen year old high school graduate was the victim of an accident on board the Sea Star catamaran while on a snorkeling trip in Cancun.

The young woman's family have contacted me and asked me to help locate a man who tried to help her. If anyone has any information on another passenger who helped pull Lisa from the water, please contact me and I will connect you to her family. One of Lisa's friends recalls a young African American man wearing blue swim trunks being there and assisting, if you think you may know him, please let us know. Click on my profile to get the address.


A Wet Commute

This morning around 6 am we had a little rain. Really, just a little, normal, 10 minute summer rain in Cancun. From experience, I knew that even just a little sprinkle would cause havoc on the streets, so I took off a little early and drove with camera in hand. Yeah, yeah, I know, but it's not a cel phone and I wasn't putting on lipstick! Is it illegal to drive and take photographs? Well, maybe not illegal, but not exactly easy either. My five minute drive took me 15, here's some pics that will explain why....

So, if that is what a little rain does, can you imagine Cancun after a tropical storm? This city is so young and just oh so wrong in terms of urban planning. The new president of Cancun has made a whole lot of promises about the streets, let's see if he can actually make some changes before we need to take a kayak to work.

Sea Star Sinking Follow Up

Normally I don't follow a story quite this closely on the blog, but with all the emails I have been getting, I feel compelled to continue with the tale. Just a couple of stories to share today.

The first thing that must be addressed is the tragedy that has hit one young woman's family. According to close friends of her family, Lisa Chung is a wonderful young lady, just having graduated from high school with honours. Apparently she is a very good swimmer and is not afraid of the water. She was flown back to Texas last night and is in the hospital there. Family and friends are hoping for a miracle and a full recovery, I wish them all the best in this difficult time.

One parent of another passenger who was close to Lisa writes: "She still does not know what actually happened to Lisa after she was trapped under that boat in the water. My daughter does recall there being an African American guy in blue swim trunks who helped her out of the water and it is believed that he…

Update on Tourist Boat Accident

Today's morning newspapers brought a tragic update to the story of the tourist boat that was involved in an accident on Saturday in Cancun. Lisa Chung (newspapers are saying "Cheng" or "Wong" but one of her classmates emailed me her correct name), the 18 year old woman who was reported to have had a heart attack has been pronounced brain dead in Galenia hospital. My deepest sympathies go out to her family and friends in this horrible time.

There is still not a lot of clear information about what exactly happened to cause "Sea Star" to sink, the reports vary from paper to paper. There are a lot of suggestions that the boat was indeed overloaded and short staffed, but other sources state that they were within regulations. Some suggest that the injured teenager was snorkeling at the time and was hit when the boat lost power, others seem to say that the boat was under sail at the time.

I've been receiving emails from family members of the students w…

Tourist Boat Sinks in Cancun

photo courtesy Por Esto

The sinking of the tourist boat "Sea Star" in the Cancun hotel zone is today's front page news. The 250 person capacity catamaran owned by Club Lagoon was traveling between Cancun and Isla Mujeres with 220 on board when apparently a loud noise was heard. The passengers panicked and ran to one side of the boat as she began to go down. People began to jump overboard when they realized what was happening. There were a few minor injuries, some broken bones and panic attacks. Por Esto states that a tourist suffered a heart attack during the event, the woman remains in hospital today. Quequi alludes to one person dying, but they do say there is no official corroboration of that rumour.

There are some great photos of the boat by Armando de la Fuente here at CaribeInversion. The blogger there suggests that the boat was overloaded and did not meet safety standards with regards to life vests and equipment. He further suggests that this is common pract…