Showing posts from 2009

Cancun Beach Recovery Dec. 22/2009

The Cancun beach recovery continues on its merry way, working south down the hotel zone strip. Incredible changes? Yes! Controversial? Of course. It's impossible to know what the long term environmental impact will be, but in the short term, this is a project that will keep a million people in the state employed. No beach, no tourists, no tourists, no jobs, no jobs, no food, no food, crime goes sky high. I'm split on this one to be honest, love it and hate it at the same time. The beaches look incredible and I am happy that tourism will come back ($$$), but I hate what this is probably doing to the reefs where they are dredging up sand. Anywho, what I think is neither here nor there, it's not going to change matters so we might as well enjoy the benefits of the project which are really huge, stunning beaches.

I went out to the beach this morning to see what I could see and was once again amazed by the progress. I stopped by Playa Marlin (the public access beach by…

Holiday Greetings from Canucka and Family

The very first Simpson's episode from years and years ago starts with Marge writing the family Christmas letter, "We've had some sadness and some gladness this year...", a classic TV moment. This time of year I seem to take on her raspy voice in my head, though I refuse to wear the blue beehive so I thought I might write our own family Christmas letter.

Dear Friends and Family,
Ho ho ho, feliz navidad! It's been an odd year, one of changes and struggles, two steps forward, fourteen steps back. Hubby and I both have new jobs, my switch a bit more complicated than Hubby's, in fact the change for me was probably the most difficult hurdle we faced this year. Who knew that taking a step forward was going to cause so much stress? I'm happy with my new challenge and enjoying the work so all the hassles were worth it! I will miss teaching and want to send a special greeting to all my old coworkers, love you all and I want to say thanks to my new coworkers for…

The Paper Chase Continues

It would have been really nice to think that after chasing paper all over North America for my FM2 for almost three months that I would be done and could just settle in to a "work/get paid/work/get paid" routine. But oh no, of course not, life in Mexico can't be THAT easy. To work in Mexico you need paper on top of paper and copies of the copies.

When I got my first job here years ago I had to register with "Hacienda", basically the Canada Revenue Agency (IRS for you Americans) and with IMSS (social security). That makes sense, you work, you pay taxes, easy. There are some not so easy parts attached to this though. You have to bring piles of ID but as a foreigner we have different ID that can be confusing for some poor office drone who is accustomed to Mexican after Mexican just coming in with their IFE card (national identification, like a voter card). The biggest confusion is the "apellido materno". In Mexico, everyone has two last names, the …

Back to Back

A long time ago in a galaxy 2382 kms away, I was a dancer. No, not THAT kind of dancer, a ballet, tap, jazz, modern, Hawaiian, Scottish fling kind of dancer. I started young and spent my childhood in classes and travelling for competitions and when it came time to go to university, I chose to study a BFA in dance. That dream came to an end when I had a bad fall and put my back out of commission, ending my life as a dancer forever.

I was forever in and out of physical therapy, massage therapy, shiatsu, acupuncture, moxibustion, cupping, if it was going to ease my pain, I was doing it. After a few years I started doing yoga and pilates and trying to gain strength and mobility again. When I arrived in Mexico, it all kind of went out the window for a variety of reasons and I have not been taking care of my spinal health. The only exception was during my pregnancy when I thought my back might implode with the pain of carrying that load. I saw a chiropractor two or three times a week …

Ironwoman I am Not

I was a busy lady last weekend, jetting south (ok, there was no jet, just a funky old VW convertible) to Playa del Carmen for the Riviera Maya Jazz Festival then over to Cozumel for the Ironman. Part work, part pleasure, though I guess calling it "work" would be a bit of a stretch. My dear friend LisaLoveLoca joined me in the adventure, picking me up in Carmen (yes, the car has a name) on Saturday morning for a kid-free weekend.

La Rana Cansada

We arrived in Playa in the early afternoon and checked into our hotelito "La Rana Cansada". Heather had recommended the place and it was perfect for us. Cute little garden with birds singing, a resident doggie named Jazz, a swan towel on the bed, and at 500 pesos, not a bad deal. We dumped our bags, got in our swimsuits and set out into the wilds of 5th Avenue. My online friend Janie was staying in Playa and we made our way towards her hotel to see if we could find her. Behold, Janie and her husband were on the beach w…

What's Up With Canucka

Well hi. I haven't disappeared completely, here I am! And I can finally share the skinny, give you the scoop, let the cat out of the bag as to what I have been up to and why I haven't been posting. Four score and....ook, about three months ago a company approached me about coming to work for them. After five happy years of teaching, I wasn't all that interested in making the move. A little negotiating here and there and they made me an offer that was tough to refuse and I accepted the new position. No more pencils, no more books, no more getting up at the butt crack of dawn to turn "boos" into "bus". I quit my wonderful teaching position and said goodbye to some of my oldest friends in Cancun.

I knew that the toughest part of making the move was going to be immigration, it's always stressful and never seems to go the way it should for me. The company promised that they would take care of all the arrangements and we moved forward with all the …

Cancun Beach Recovery Update

Just a real quick update on the beach recovery project in Cancun, things are moving along! I went out to have a look at the action this week and my jaw quite literally hit the ground. I started talking to myself, just one word over and over "!" We had been in the area a week previously and the difference is astounding. Check out these before and after pictures (as close as I got to being in exactly the same position, close enough that you get the general idea). These photos were taken from the Playa Cabana beach club behind The City discotheque.

Lifeguard Chair Before
(there is literally zero beach below there, water
was crashing against the wall)

Lifeguard Chair After
(Just a bit more beach)

Looking towards Punta Cancun Before
(here you can see the water hitting the wall)

Looking towards Punta Cancun After
(can't even see the sea!)

This is truly an impressive project, incredible what they can do in a week. The project is full steam ahead now, all the…

My 3 Best Kept Travel Secrets

My friend Steven who writes the blog Travel Ojos nominated me to share three of my best travel secrets on A Canuck in Cancun as part of Trip Base Blog tag. The final list of travel secrets will be published in a special blog post and shared everywhere! (Now I am not sure I want to tell, the point of a secret is shhh, right? Just kidding of course, happy to share a couple off the beaten path places that I love). If you are a regular reader of this blog, you've heard me speak of these places before, but let's share the wealth, shall we?

1. Isla Holbox- Awww, my happy place. This small island off the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula is relatively undiscovered. No huge resorts, no theme parks, no timeshare salesmen, just small palapa style hotels on an unbelievably gorgeous stretch of beach. Holbox is best known as a jumping off point for swimming with whale sharks, a once a year phenomenon that will knock your socks off. It's also a great place for bird watching, with a …

Lionfish (Pez Leon) in Quintana Roo

The first time I heard about the "pez leon" was in this post from Anna, a fellow ex-pat in Mexico blogging in Cozumel. Since her post in April, I have read various reports of lionfish problems in Quintana Roo and today I had my first up close and personal encounter with these deadly reef assassins.

A bucketful of deadly beauty

We were having a lovely day on the beach in Puerto Morelos when we noticed a man going in and out of the water with a net and a bucket. We didn't think too much of it until a news crew showed up to interview the man. (An "only in paradise" news crew in bikini and swim trunks no less). I got my metiche (nosy) nose in the mix and approached to hear the interview and get a peek in the bucket. I saw the most beautiful fish, striped like a tiger with gorgeous wing-like fins. I promptly stepped back when I realized that I was looking at the deadly "pez leon" or lionfish. There were five in the bucket and the man said that there w…

I Need a Little Something from Canada

This is what we call a shameless plug. Begging perhaps. A little cry for help. My good friend Matt from Toronto and his fiancee Kate have created a little ditty and entered the video into a contest to win a trip to Mexico. Now, I must admit, I'm being a bit selfish in my request for your votes, I would be the biggest winner in this whole thing as I would get a visit from some great friends from Canada! Oh sure they could win a free vacation, but I'm betting they'll bring me some Triscuits if I ask real nice.

Check out their video, it makes me smile!

Now, head over to the Hilton contest site and give a big thumbs up vote for "Why Kate Deserves to Go to Mexico" (you can vote once a day, more if you go to a different internet cafe every hour). You could help these ever so lovely people escape the dreary Canadian winner and help me get a little bit of love from home. (And Triscuits.)

Vote for me! Er, I mean, vote for Matt and Kate!

Vicks on the Soles of My Feet

After my little adventures in chasing Ida last week, I've come down with a nasty infection. Now, logically I know that it is a myth that you get sick from being wet or cold, you get sick from coming in contact with germs and bacteria, but regardless, I am blaming Ida. Wading in flooded streets just to run to the corner store, going to the beach to capture waves on film and getting a wee bit wet, then the ins and outs of air conditioning inside/humid and warm outside, somewhere along the way my system lost its ability to fight the germs and here I am at home with a nose full of mocos. It really hit me like a tonne of bricks, totally fine and healthy as a horse on Sunday night, a tickle in my throat Monday morning and by Monday afternoon a full on "Ithinkimgonnadie" sicky woman moaning on the couch.

I thought I would be ok just using the usual remedies, lots of liquids, echinacea, vitamin C and rest. And of course, Vicks Vaporub. If you live in Mexico, you know that Va…

Hurricane Ida a Non-Event in Cancun

Well phooey and phew. "Phooey" because we had such an exciting build up and then nada (we like a little storm excitement around here), "phew" out of relief that nothing horrible happened. Hurricane Ida has come and gone from Cancun and the Yucatan Peninsula, making her way into the Gulf of Mexico. We did have a lot of rain this week, but not what I would consider "hurricane rain" and certainly no wind came our way. Even when she was at the closest point to Cancun, we were dry and wind-free. Friday and Saturday brought much heavier rains than today when she was supposed to make her biggest impact. There was some serious flooding downtown, but that's it, no pasa nada! Back to real life, school and work tomorrow and hopefully sunshine will be returning very soon. Usually after a big storm we're back to blue skies fairly quickly, I suspect by tomorrow (Monday) or Tuesday the tourists will be bronzing their backsides on the beach once again.

I t…

Tropical Depression Ida- Cancun Weather

The last few days we've been watching the storm named Ida as she has made her way north over Central America. Yesterday it was a category 1 hurricane as it hit Nicaragua, lost strength over land and was downgraded to a tropical storm, then further downgraded to tropical depression. It is now moving into the Caribbean Sea and making its way to the Yucatan Peninsula. There is a lot of speculation about what may happen over the next couple of days, all we know for sure is that we are going to get wet! It's been raining all week and today it has really been coming down hard. Streets are flooded and word on the street is that tuna is a hot item in the supermarkets. The civil protection agency has put the state of Quintana Roo on low level alerts (green alert at the moment), advising the population to prepare for some bad weather.

In looking at the various weather sites, it seems there is no definitive forecast for what Ida may become in the next couple of days. Lots of specul…

Cancun Beach Recovery Has Begun

After many set backs and problems and a pile of political back and forth, the beach recovery project has started in Cancun. I took a little trip out to the hotel zone today (Sunday) to see what I could see and to try to get some pictures. What luck, I could see, I took photos and I chatted with one of the guys working on the project!

Today they were working behind the Sunset Hotel. There was one large boat, two mid-sized boats and one little "panga" out in the water. Large pipes were coming from the big boat to the shore where several pieces of sand moving machinery were waiting. The man I was speaking with told me that there are two of the large boats, moving back and forth between Isla Mujeres and Cancun, taking turns bringing sand to the hotel zone. The large boats weigh about 15 to 20 tonnes when empty and are carrying 5000 cubic meters of sand with each trip. Unloading the sand onto the shore takes about 45 minutes to an hour, quite an impressive feat. The two mi…

Keeping Busy in Cancun

Busy, busy, busy. I haven't been this busy in a long time, I'm invigorated and exhausted at the same time. Life is all over the place and so is my mind. Still waiting for immigration papers, Max got sick, lots of writing to do and a couple of side trips, a bit of a crazy week.

Chichén Itzá

Monday and Tuesday I checked a couple of big things off my "must do" list by visiting Chichen Itza and Il Kil. Yep, six years here and had never been, just tough to do with a small, energetic child. Chichén was better than I even expected, after all that I've read and photos and videos and personal accounts, it held up to the hype. Il Kil was incredible, the "Shrangri La" of cenotes. The Mayaland Hotel was peaceful, full of green space, fruit trees and birds. A lovely, exhausting couple of days.

The Cenote Il Kil

Max got sick on Thursday night, woke up Friday morning with a fever. I had to stay home with him, poor little guy is just a different beast when he's…

Michael Jackson is Coming to My Party

When Michael Jackson passed away, Max was a pretty confused and curious kid. Number one, he didn't really know who MJ was and number two, he didn't understand why mommy was crying like a baby over the man. My parents were here at the time and we watched the memorial service together, mourning the man who had played a huge role in my childhood. Max had a million questions. "What's in the box?", "Why is Michael Jackson in the box?", "When is he coming out of the box?", and so on and so on that lead to difficult conversations about death and dying.

Aside from having to explain the whole idea of passing away, I took the opportunity to give Max a little music history lesson. From "ABC" to "Man in the Mirror", we watched the videos, watched MJ's evolution and learned all about "Billie Jean". We talked about the message of the songs and Max was really into everything that Michael had to say. Every day Max woul…

Apostilles in Canada....No existe!

My first few years in Mexico I would hear other ex-pats talking about getting their documents "apostilled" for immigration. I had never been asked for such a thing and had never even heard the term. I learned that an apostille is an internationally recognized form of notary, basically a stamp that indicates that a document is legitimate and legal. The apostille process was introduced to the world in 1961 with the "Hague Apostille Convention" in order to reduce the heavy amount of paperwork and expense needed to fully legalize a document for international use. Apostilles are applied to paperwork such as birth certificates, marriage and divorce certificates, bank statements and educational documents.

I always wondered why I had never been asked for such a thing, but just counted myself "lucky". My luck ran out this year. In the process of changing jobs, after six years of FM3's and FM2's, immigration has asked for my education documents, fully …

6 Years of Living in Mexico

Don't let the title scare you, this will not be a recounting of the last six years of my life, I promise! October 10th 2003 I boarded my flight to Cancun from Toronto thinking I would be returning to start again in Canada. I had no idea that I would be starting a whole new life in a different country, this was just supposed to be a vacation! One thing led to another and here I am six years later, happy and calling Mexico "home".

I'm a much healthier person than I was six years ago, about 25-30 pounds lighter, no anti-depressant medication, no heavy drinking and overall a much more positive person. I'm a mom! That's probably the biggest difference, sometimes I wonder if the changes in myself are a result of the move, or of becoming a mother or a strange combination of the two. I've got patience like I never had, running the rat race in the big city and the "now, now, yesterday!" kind of life didn't allow for a lot of "ni modo" …

Monday Mix

Well hello Monday and hello readers. I have been totally slacking on the blog front, just not feeling really "bloggy" lately. Seems to be going around, in reading some of my favourite bloggers I've noticed similar comments about just not feeling "it", I wonder if it's a moon phase?

Things around here are moving ahead, perhaps not at the pace I would like them to but ahead nonetheless. I've hit a block on the immigration front, for the first time in my six years here they are asking for documentation of my education. Of course they give me a very limited time frame to get these documents, making me extremely tense. In the 20 years since I graduated high school, no one has ever asked for proof! It's not like I carry my transcripts with me. So I've got friends and family in Canada jumping through hoops to get the papers, get them apostilled/notarized and sent down to me as quickly as possible. Once they get here, I'll have to have them t…

Snorkeling Garrafon Park, Isla Mujeres

Living here for the past six years, we've done a LOT of things, seen so much, but we had never been to Garrafon Park on Isla Mujeres and I have always been curious. We got some freebies to head over on the weekend and thought it was a great way to celebrate Hubby's birthday. It was a jam packed day, we started by swimming with the dolphins at Dolphin Discovery then made our way over to the absolutely gorgeous Garrafon to do a little snorkeling, graze on the buffet and hang out in the panoramic pool. We had a great time, not much more I can say than that, I think the pictures tell the story better than I do.

The view of the reef at Garrafon

The zip lines over the sea

School of pretty fishies

Fishies having a little nosh on the barrier rope

These little guys kept banging right up on my lens

I LOVE these blue guys, always sticking together

My super snorkeling guys

A rare peek at me, Canucka, hanging in a cave

The highlight of the snorkeling part of the day was chasing a HUGE, I mean g…


I must admit to being a bit scattered lately, big life changes have affected my focus and ability to concentrate. Everyday a million blog posts go through my mind and slip through the cracks, ending up as vapor in the humid air. One of the problems is that I can't yet write about what I really want to write about so nothing gets written! Soon, precious, soon. In the meantime, here's a few things that have been happening lately that I can actually share with you.

1. Another baby, another caesarean. A lovely friend of mine had her baby girl this week, congrats amiga, I can't wait to meet her! Throughout her pregnancy she was insistent on having a natural birth and I supported her fully. Unfortunately there is a huge problem here in Mexico, doctors almost always insist on c-sections. I don't know anyone who has had a natural birth, even the women who wanted one so badly get laid out on the operating table in the end (myself included). The c-section rate is one o…

Renee Wathelet- A Tragedy on Isla Mujeres

Last week a terrible tragedy occurred. A Canadian woman living on Isla Mujeres was brutally murdered in her home by a young Mexican man who had been her acquaintance. I did not know Renee personally, only peripherally through her blog and twitter. After reading some personal accounts from bloggers who knew her (Dentro del Jardin and IslaZina), it sounds as though she was a person I would have liked to have spent some time with.

Of course this event has stirred the media, leading to the inevitable "Mexico is dangerous!" comments that come from the masses who have no idea what they are talking about. People who have never been to Mexico form opinions based solely on headlines without taking the time to investigate what exactly happened. There have been a few, I mean very few instances in recent past where Canadians have been killed in Mexico by violent means. Compared with the millions of Canadians who have visited without incident, I think that is a pretty low number and …