Showing posts from 2011

Cancun New Year's Eve

Why is that gringa taking pictures of underwear?

New Year's Eve, always a day filled with high expectations of big celebrations and the promise of a fresh start in a new year. Everyone and every place has their own traditions and the rituals in Mexico offer up some unique fun!

The Foundations. Choosing underwear colour is of prime importance. Since the beginning of December the stores have been filled with displays of red and yellow "chones" (though why the bras are all "B" cup I will never understand). Looking for passionate love? Red is for you. Looking for prosperity and success in money? Yellow panties will help fill your wallet.  
Clean start. Begin the new year preparing your space for new things, clean your house from the inside out, sweeping the old out the front door. Burn incense close to midnight as a cleansing ritual. At the toll of midnight, open the door and symbolically sweep out the old and throw a bucket of water out the window. Throw twelve coins…

Cancun Christmas Posadas

The "pastorela" of good and evil
It's "posada" time once again in Cancun! In towns with a bit more history, this would mean embracing the traditional events of the season, children going door to door with "La Rama" singing for coins, neighbourhoods filled with processions of candle-bearing folks singing the "Pidiendo Posada" song and sharing ponche and hot chocolate, recreating Joseph and Mary's search for shelter. This is my ninth Christmas spent in Mexico and I must be honest....I've never experienced the "traditional" posada! It may exist, probably does, but "posada" seems to have a different meaning in modern Cancun. In my experience, there are three kinds of Cancun posadas.

1. The House Party Posada

Any excuse is a good excuse for a fiesta, and Christmas is as good as any. House parties flourish at this time of year, friends and family gathering together to eat, drink and be merry.  I've only been to one …

A Yucatan Wedding Road Trip

"You must come to a wedding with me in Valladolid".
"Is that an invitation?"
"No, it's a command, you ARE coming with me". 
And so went the conversation a few months back with one of my dearest friends. Her husband is from a small village in the Yucatan and his sister was getting married and apparently it was imperative that I attend. Fun! Road trip with a bestie, explore the village of Chichimilá, a weekend in Valladolid and my first Mexican/Mayan wedding? Of course I was in!  
City Hall Chichimilá
I had been to the colonial town of Valladolid once before for a quick visit, but I had not been to the nearby village of Chichimilá. I was tickled to discover that the name Chichimilá means "ver pezón duro", yes, "look at the hard nipple".  (Really, you can't make this stuff up my friends).

The wise women of Chichimilá
We set off on the free road a few hours later than expected, driving into the setting sun. It's a couple of hours to…

The Big Reveal

Why is Canuck so smiley?
Soo, I think it's time we played a little catch up. I've been pretty "blog blocked" lately, banging my head on the keyboard and virtually crumpling non-existent balls of paper and throwing them in the trash when I couldn't get the words to come out right. I had lost my voice. Have lost. Had lost. I guess we'll see if it comes back to me as I write this.

This last year has been so full of issues and dramas and changes, it's been tough to write about the daily goings on or adventures and NOT mention personal stuff. It's all so tied together, my trip out of town alone without Max because it's Daddy's custody weekend. My visit to Valladolid where I had fun but missed someone very much. My phenomenal escape to Tulum with someone amazing. There were a variety of reasons I wasn't sharing the personal, some valid, some I'll have to talk about with my shrink, but I guess I am ready to come out of the dark, find my voice…

Best Riviera Maya Video Ever

Every morning I start the day checking the bazillion social network accounts I work with on Facebook, Twitter, and G+ in addition to my emails and Google Alerts. This morning I came across a video on one of my Riviera Maya pages that simply blew my mind. Not only is the video technically beautiful in gorgeous HD, but in a very eerie way it is an encapsulation of my life here in the Mexican Caribbean (and it was made by fellow Canadians). Every step the hosts took were on paths I have gone down before and plan to visit again. I have a friend coming down next week and the itinerary I have set out is pretty much exactly what is in this video, Tulum, Coba, eating in Playa, snorkeling, cenotes, it is spooky, this video seems to have covered my upcoming vacation in an extremely precise way, like they were reading my mind.

I feel as though I never have to write another email response to "What should we do in the Riviera Maya?", I can simply forward this video and say "Study th…

Day of the Dead- Festival of Life and Death at Xcaret

"To the people of New York, Paris, or London, "death" is a word that is never pronounced because it burns the lips. The Mexican, however, frequents it, jokes about it, caresses it, sleeps with it, celebrates it; it is one of his favorite toys and most steadfast love. Of course, in his attitude perhaps there is as much fear as there is in one of the others; at least he does not hide it; he confronts it face to face with patience, disdain, or irony." -Octavio Paz, Mexican poet 1914-1998

"Dia de los Muertos" or "Day of the Dead", is a colourful celebration in many Latin American countries welcoming the souls of the dearly departed every year between October 31st and November 2nd. It's a blend of pre-Hispanic and Catholic traditions, incorporating indigenous culture and Christian beliefs in the afterlife. In Mexico it is a time for families to come together, share memories, laughs and good food and drink. Altars are built with offerings for the d…

The Versatile Blogger Award- Aw, Shucks!

Cozumel photographers and bloggers Michael S. Lewis and Jennifer Homsher Lewis of Latin Journeys were kind enough to nominate me for a "Versatile Blogger Award". They are contributing photographers to National Geographic, be sure to visit their blog and check out their gorgeous images! Thanks so much guys, I'll need to take a trip over to my old hometown and buy you a drink or two in exchange.

Now, to keep playing along, I need to do two things, a) write seven things that you may not know about me and b) nominate other blogs for the award. Let's start with the secrets (that are not really secrets since I am about to announce them to you all).

1.  I hate onions. Despise them. Abhor them. One of the first things I learned to say in Spanish was "sin cebolla por favor" ("hold the onions PLEASE"). Except...I like onion rings. Go figure.

2.  I am Canadian but was born on the border with the US (my parents live in Windsor but my Daddy works in Detroit). …

Adios Tropical Storm Rina

Tropical Storm Rina making her entrance on Oct. 27
(thanks to webcamsdemexico for the photo)
She came, she blew, she left. Hurricane Rina/Tropical Storm Rina played more havoc with our minds than our environment this week, teasing us with the possibility of a major hurricane before disintegrating into a simple storm. Yes, the winds blew hard last night, we lost power and we had a terrific lightning and thunder storm, but overall she was just a pussy cat compared to other storms that have passed through Cancun.

Waking up this morning to very little damage and clearing skies, I took a jaunt around town and out to the hotel zone to see what damage she may have wrought. My discovery? NOTHING. A few branches down, trees at an angle but nothing serious at all. The hotel zone was getting back to normal, businesses taking down the boards from the windows and opening for business. Tourists on the beach enjoying the sunshine and surprisingly calm seas. Today I am proud to be Cancunense, the aut…

"La Llorona": A Mexican Legend of Terror

"La Llorona"
(image courtesy
"Mis hijooooos, mis hijoooooos!" the ghostly voice travels through the night sky under the full moon, bringing terror into the hearts of children across Mexico. The cry of "my children, my children" is the lament of "La Llorona" or "The Crying Woman", an ancient tale famous in Mexico and Latin America, told for centuries in a myriad of variations. As we approach the end of October and the "Day of the Dead" and Halloween, it seems an appropriately scary story to share.

Habia una vez...ahem...Once upon a time, there was a very beautiful woman named Maria living in a small town in Mexico. She was beautiful, but she was also arrogant, and was determined not to marry a man from the pueblo, but a man of stature, good looks and wealth. One day a handsome wanderer arrived in the town and Maria set her mind to making him her husband. She used her feminine wiles, knowing that i…

Hurricane Rina Cancun

Hurricane Rina becomes Tropical Storm Rina
Hurricane Rina has now been downgraded to Tropical Storm Rina, great news for the Yucatan Peninsula. The storm is located about 145 km south of Cozumel island and is moving at a pace of 9 km/h to the north-northwest with winds about 110 km/h, with gusts up to 139 km/h. (full story here
Hurricane Rina Cancun Update- Wednesday Oct. 26th 10 pm
Hurricane Rina has weakened to a Category 1 hurricane, with sustained winds of 85 mph, moving towards the Yucatan Peninsula at a speed of 6 mph. Reports indicate that she will likely continue to lose strength and the probability is that she will make landfall as a Tropical Storm. (full Hurricane Rina update here)
Hurricane Rina Cancun Update- Wednesday Oct. 26th, 3 pm
Hurricane Rina has weakened…

Hurricane Rina becomes Tropical Storm Rina

Hurricane Rina has now been downgraded to Tropical Storm Rina, great news for the Yucatan Peninsula. The storm is located about 145 km south of Cozumel island and is moving at a pace of 9 km/h to the north-northwest with winds about 110 km/h, with gusts up to 139 km/h. The alert from the government of the state is still at "orange" level for most of the state, indicating the danger of tropical storm force winds today.

While the disintegration from hurricane to tropical storm is a very good thing, this does not mean that the population should let their guard down. A tropical storm will still bring heavy rains and strong winds and those along the coast must be extremely aware of the danger of a storm surge. We expect heavy flooding in the region today and tomorrow as Tropical Storm Rina passes through.

This morning in Cancun's hotel zone
 (thanks again to Diane for the photo!)
Currently in Cancun it is cloudy with some minor rain and very little wind (downtown at least, h…

Hurricane Rina Cancun Update: Wed. Oct. 26 10 pm

Hurricane Rina has weakened to a Category 1 hurricane, with sustained winds of 85 mph, moving towards the Yucatan Peninsula at a speed of 6 mph. Reports indicate that she will likely continue to lose strength and the probability is that she will make landfall as a Tropical Storm. Cozumel will feel the first effects and the coast of the Riviera Maya and Cancun will begin to experience tropical storm conditions Thursday morning, intensifying throughout the day as she passes. Despite her weakening and apparent disintegration, Hurricane Rina still threatens to bring heavy rainfall to the region and a dangerous storm surge of up to 2 to 4 feet.

The entire state of Quintana Roo is now on "orange alert" and authorities are urging people to remain vigilant in spite of Rina's weakened state. Shelters are open and 4200 people in vulnerable areas have been evacuated. The entire island of Isla Holbox (population 2600) has been evacuated and 600 tourists from Isla Mujeres have been …

Hurricane Rina Update- Wed. Oct. 26th 3 pm

Hurricane Rina has weakened to a Category 1 hurricane this afternoon, though she is still on track to hit the Yucatan Peninsula on Thursday at hurricane strength. Not much news this afternoon, Cancun remains on "yellow alert" while the southern part of the state continue on "orange alert". Though Rina may have lost some of her strength, authorities are urging people to remain vigilant and to rush to finish preparations before the winds arrive. The region should start to feel tropical storm force winds today before the full hurricane force winds of Rina arrive on Thursday. Hurricane Rina is expected to make landfall  in Cozumel before moving north to Cancun.

The weather today in Cancun started out as hot and partly cloudy. I took a trip out to the hotel zone to photograph preparations and found myself very, very sweaty as I tromped up and down the beach in my "Happy Hurricane" boots and wearing my work uniform. The clouds began to roll in towards noon and …

Hurricane Rina Cancun Update- Wed. Oct. 26th 9 am

Hurricane Rina continues her path towards the Yucatan Peninsula this morning, currently a Category 2 though she is expected to convert to a dangerous Category 3 before striking the coast of the Riviera Maya and Cancun on Thursday. A hurricane warning is in effect for the entire coast of Quintana Roo and the state government has issued an "orange alert" for municipalities in the south (elevated danger levels, tropical storm force winds expected within 12 hours) and the central and northern parts of the state are currently on "yellow alert", though an order for "orange alert" for the entire state is expected within a few hours. It appears that Hurricane Rina will make landfall on Thursday on Cozumel before moving north to Cancun.

Towns in the southern end of the state are being evacuated to designated shelters. Tourists in Tulum are being moved to safety from the small hotels on the beach. The island of Holbox and the areas around Chiquila are being evacuat…

Hurricane Rina Cancun Update - Tuesday Oct. 25th, 7 pm

Hurricane Rina continues to strengthen in the Atlantic basin, now a strong category 2 hurricane with expectations of developing into a category 3 Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. At 5 pm CST, Hurricane Rina was located approximately 430 km south of Chetumal (southernmost city in Quintana Roo, the state where Cancun and the Riviera Maya are located).  Rina is moving west north-west slowly at 3 mph, heading towards Belize and the Yucatan Peninsula with winds around 110 mph. Current models have Rina moving towards the coast of the Riviera Maya for a possible strike on Thursday.

At a meeting of the Quintana Roo hurricane committee this afternoon, authorities upgraded the official alert to "yellow" for the entire state, from Chetumal to Cancun and a hurricane warning has been issued. A "yellow alert" signifies "moderate" danger, citizens and businesses must prepare for a hurricane impact within 12-60 hours with a minimum wind speed of 63 km/h. Schools rema…

Hurricane Wilma Revisited

Oct. 21/22, 2005, Hurricane Wilma struck Cancun, parking on top of us and delivering a battering ram of destruction. Every year at this time, anyone who survived Wilma looks back and remembers, the fear, the sounds, the smells....friends and I know that we suffered PTSD and the anniversary brings back a sense of anxiety, a profound feeling that is difficult to describe. This year, I asked some friends to share their thoughts, here's what they had to say.....

"My strongest memories of Hurricane Wilma are not during the three days we were holed up bailing water and listening to that horrible wind, but of the tenacity of the human spirit in the days, weeks and months afterward. Hard to believe it's been six years."- Joyce

"Our front door blew in and the wind picked me up and threw me into the living room. The kitchen cabinet doors, coffee machine and toaster landed on top of me. Then, as the windows blew out, I watched one of our cats, the big black guy Pepe, sail ov…