All posts tagged “Mexico

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Honeymoon Diaries : Novice Wife

I am very excited today for our second-ever Honeymoon Dairy by Novice Wife partly because she and her husband visited Tulum, Mexico (which is the very same part of the world Scott and I got engaged in), and partly because it is a very funny account of how the little snafus make the best memories.

So go read Novice Wife, talking beach bungalows, life without electricity, bribery, margaritas, and human sacrifice…

1 - Deck tub

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Life after Wedding

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me in Mexico

 

As I was writing my Honeymoon Diaries post on “doing” vacations, I started to ponder why I’m that kind of “doing” crazy.

 

Not to justify my own insanity—and it is insanity, as I’m sure you read—but I think this comes out of wanting to squeeze every ounce of amazing out of every moment of traveling.

 

When I’m on a trip, I’m constantly afraid of missing out on something great, I always wanting to be doing, and seeing, and exploring and making the most out of every second.

 

Even if every second is spent at an all-inclusive resort in Mexico.

 

I want to incorporate more of this kind of passion into my daily life, and I think after the wedding is going to be an easy time to start.

 

There is so much I CANNOT WAIT to do come October—some of it productive, like get in touch with a couple of possible mentors and brainstorm and test some new career paths, and some of it is indulgent, like reading magazines again. (God, I miss magazines.)

 

And that’s also part of why I think this honeymoon is going to be perfect for us. One part doing, and one part stopping to enjoy the view (guilt-free) equals a happy life.

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Honeymoon : Brainstorming

The husband-to-be and I have started throwing around some ideas, the result has been the rapid conclusion that deep in the middle of the worst winter NY has ever had is probably not the most neutral time to plan a honeymoon. As in, all we want to do right now is go to places that look like this:

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Big Corn Island, Nicaragua

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Flamingo Bay Lodge, Inhambane, Mozambique by Aquila

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   The Phoenix Resort, Ambergris Caye, Belize by A.J. Baxter

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Koh Tansay, Cambodia by Jason Tabarias  

2310833595_db09b5d998_z Tahaa, Tahiti by Kat Kellner

DSC_0037-2Or even someplace I’ve been before. Tamarindo, Costa Rica by Scott Johnson
 

DSC_0542 Tulum, Mexico by Scott Johnson

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The discerning dilettante gets engaged…

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sunrise over the Gulf of Mexico
right before (after?) ‘his’ proposal

Ok, so this is not really news, I’ve been engaged since December 2008 or September 2009 depending on what you’re counting from. But knowing I don’t want this to turn into yet another wedding blog, I’ve been avoiding mentioning it.

 

Well in the last month or so, I’ve knuckled down to planning, and it has quickly taken my to-do list hostage. It’s been growing increasingly difficult to write a blog about a lil bit of everything, and not include the one thing that’s taking up most of my time and mental capacities. 
 

So let me do this properly and start at the beginning… 

 

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An Unconventional Proposal

The boy and I fell in love during a holiday season, complete with tearful Christmas Eve separation. So it seemed fitting to get engaged then, and I just generally love Christmas. Oh crap, ok, back up further…

 

The boy has been proposing to me since about 3 weeks after we first starting hanging out. Since looong before we were in any kind of monogamous relationship. Oddly, my commitment-phobic self was not scared shitless by this, my reaction was closer to "how long can I delay the inevitable?" Not long, apparently.

 

At one point while talking about engagement and marriage and logistics, I pointed out that I had a perfectly good engagement ring sitting in a jewelry box from my grandparent’s 30th anniversary. I thought it was beautiful and meaningful and it was more than good enough for me. So, cash saved, no excuses from either of us, right?

 

So here comes the part were I decided one happy Christmas that the next year I was going to give him the ring to give to me. I’m a long-range planner, and I figured a year was plenty of time to chicken out if need be.

 

Well I didn’t need it, and the year was agonizing. I watched friends get engaged, get married, I secretly read weddingbee. I also hadn’t told anyone what I was planning. For me, who needs a survey of no less than 3 opinions to buy a pair of shoes, there was something oddly freeing about doing this on my own. Until the nerves kicked in about a week out.

It’s funny, I never got why proposing was considered a hard thing to do. I mean, you’re talking about the person you’re closer to than anyone else in the world. How hard can it be to say something to them, right? Wrong!

 

I swear to god, I was so nervous I went blind. I literally couldn’t see anything. And I had to open all these presents and pretend like I cared. It was excruciating.

 

I had every right to be nervous, because it didn’t exactly go to plan:

me: so he pulls out the little bag with note card and ring box out of his stocking

and he opens it and is like "are you serious?" all like stone cold serious

and then, "but all i got you was this book"

and im laughing maniacally because i think im dying…but trying to assure him im serious

friend: aw

me: so we’re laughing and kissy and he says he doesnt know what finger it goes on and now i think HE’S kidding. and im like, well it doesnt fit anyway

friend: lol

me: and then i think it was just sort of implied that he should ask me properly later…or maybe i actually said it?

it was all downhill

 

Not all engagements are easy…

So uh yea, way to backfire.

 

The next few months were peppered with awkward discussions and analyzing with friends via IM. It was almost like life pre-monogamy…

friend: hand, fair enough, but FINGER?

it’s called a ring finger for a reason

i feel like i’m in a CW show and should be like rolling my eyes and holding a cosmo and saying "men!"

me: hahahaha

this is my life

friend: i wonder if he’s just been secretively kicking himself like "i’m such an idiot! i should’ve done it then!" because seriously, HELLO! DUH!

me: oh totally…i would put money on that

friend: what most guys agonize over you put right in his lap, literally, wrapped up with a bow

me: all i want is for him to ask me (yet again) seriously, so i can respond seriously

friend: if i were you i probably would’ve started crying and been like forget this! the engagement is off you moron! and ran away

hahah well not really, but i would’ve felt like it

me: yea, i had that moment, but i know what it comes down to, is that i had a plan, didnt tell him the plan, and then expected him to know what to do. which is crap.

friend: well to be fair to you, you set it up pretty damn clearly. he was probably just taken aback and everything in his brain slowed down and he blew the moment without realizing he’d blown the moment until after the fact

me: exactly. so now, i basically have to forward him this IM and hope he acts accordingly

friend: precisely

my question is when he said he didn’t know what finger it went on… was he trying to propose then? or was he trying to put it on your finger to seal the deal?

me: probably…and i probably totally blew it, because i said it didnt fit

the only thing i cling to, is that the whole thing is so "us"

 

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Textbook Proposal

After several (months and months) missed opportunities (romantic Valentine’s Day dinner/long weekend!? I didn’t plan that shit because I’m sappy!), a little green box accompanied us on a long weekend to Mexico. I know this because I checked before we left, and quite frankly if it hadn’t moved from where it mocked me on the nightstand I would’ve packed it myself.

 

Funnily, after checking that he had brought it I managed to promptly forgot all about it for our entire trip. (Thank god, could you imagine if I’d spent the whole time looking out for romantic proposal moments?!) It wasn’t until suddenly someone was acting bizarrely (it doesn’t take that long to pick out a pair of socks) before our last nite’s dinner, that I remembered. And I was suddenly very glad that I had made him do this. Because watching him be nervous was so cute. And I felt wonderfully smug in enjoying his nervousness, having gone through it myself.

That is, until he told me he was nervous to fly the next day. And I fell for it hook, line and sinker. And nothing happened, and I was grumpy, and yet somehow managed to forget all about it again as we got up for sunrise on the beach (something I’d been too lazy for every other day). So yea, totally shocked when he busted it out then. Which was miraculous. And fitting. And oddly perfect.

 

And now what.

In the time it took for us to get ourselves engaged, I’ve literally watched as entire engagements and weddings took place. I’ve fought against feeling like a turtle in a race of hares. Because I know it’s not a race. Or a contest. That would be a ridiculous.

I’m starting to see the engagement debacle as a sneak preview for the circular reasoning and indecisiveness I should know by now will characterize any large-scale planning process with myself involved…

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Tequila & me…

…go way back.

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my mango-passionfruit-pineapple-guava margarita,
picasa-ified

I’d forgotten how happy a lovely tequila can make me, until we were reunited this weekend.

A bottle of the stunning and delicious Espolon, and I got acquainted over fresh pineapple, papaya, mango, with a splash of triple sec, lime, lemon, and guava juice.

My rusty mixology skills were jogged by this recipe from Bobby Flay, and I would recommend skipping the simple syrup (unless you really love sugar in an unhealthy way). Frozen fruit is a good way to skip the ice cubes if you’re as lazy as I am and can’t maintain ice cube trays.

Excited to try this excellent tequila on the rocks with just a tropical juice, and maybe some seltzer…

Cheers to milking the end of summer, and drinking in the afternoon.

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On the Road: Our Riviera Mayan Edventure

 

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Tulum Ruins – pc: the dd and sej

 

Edventure was a Trip Advisor word-of-mouth find, and an awesome one. They really were like all the things the reviews say they are like. Super nice, super accommodating, and turned my initial misery into what was, the best day of our vacation. I say misery because, as there website states: “While it may be raining at your resort, it could be sunny at our office in Tulum.” Well, what we didn’t keep in mind, was that it may be sunny at our resort and raining at their office in Tulum. So the rain jackets stayed in the suitcase, and we got drenched while visiting the ruins at Tulum. The ruins that I’d read about being the hottest place on earth and there being no protection from the sun. No protection from the rain either…so I was soo wet and miserable when we headed to reunite with the other couples (who’d gone zip-lining) on our the second part of our “edventure.” I seriously wanted to just go back to our hotel, but was eventually soo glad we didn’t.

 

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Dos Ojos – pc: the dd

 

The second stop involved snorkeling in a cenote (a kind of freshwater cave), which was eventually awesome, after initially forgetting how to snorkel, and having my 10-yr old mask

crap out. At this point my knight in shining armor stepped in–he was a friend of the Edventure family and was tagging along helping on tours while he was in town. An absolute sweetheart, he was completely my hero for letting me borrow his mask while he fixed mine, and just generally making me feel like if I ever needed someone to hang back or help me out, it was OK. An dandy-ish expat with what sounded like kick ass past life, his enthusiasm and love of Mexico and its people was totally contagious. The cenote, Dos Ojos, was insane. Easily one of the coolest places I’ve ever been. We could see cave divers way down in the cavern, and bats flying and roosting up in the eaves.

 

After Dos Ojos we headed to Akumal for lunch and more. I don’t even know if I can describe Akumal in words. Something about the rainy, misty day seemed more evocative that the sun ever would have. The grey and the turquoise ocean looked like a tie-dyed chiffon ballet skirt I once had. Terrible analogy. Look at the photo. Lunch was at La Buena Vida which had good food, generous portions and an amazing beachy charm. It was like Jimmy Buffet level Corona and margarita paradise. They do weddings, and don’t think we aren’t tempted. Frankly, we’re tempted to emigrate to Akumal in general.

 

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Half Moon Bay in Akumal – pc: the dd

 

After lunch we snorkeled at Yal-ku Lagoon, which my boyfriend really loved. He apparently noticed there were apartments that cozied right up to the lagoon, which…well wow, is what that would be. You could go swimming in an aquarium every day. Some awkwardness followed in that we were going to forego snorkeling with the sea turtles in Akumal Bay to save some money and time as we‘d both snorkeled with turtles before, but it was easier for the group of 6 to stay together, so we got brought along turtle snorkeling for free. The boat ride out onto the bay was probably my favorite part of the day, the endlessness of the ocean kept bringing to mind the Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Had we planned on going, it would’ve been disappointing. It was turtle-tagging day for the Akumal Turtle protection patrol people and so almost all the turtles had gone off and hidden themselves, though we did see a crazy beautiful squid. Our guide, Hector, was telling us that they’d spotted a hammerhead the other day (in the area we were not swimming)—a sighting of that probably would’ve made my life!

 

The only downside of our adventure with Edventure—I seriously dehydrated myself and did not put 2 and 2 together until around 1pm the next afternoon. It wasn’t very hot or sunny, so I sort of forgot to keep up with drinking water, especially when one didn’t really know when the next restroom opportunity would be. And when you’re *in* the water all day, you really don’t think about your body not having enough. Thus the 20 hours of sleep that followed before I sorted myself out with about a nonstop liter of water. So my word of advice, bring plenty of water (they have a cooler in the van), and remember to drink it!

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On the Road: Riviera Maya

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Before you read any further you should know that I’m a compulsive over-planner.

When I was a small child there were always charts involved regarding wardrobe choices, lodgings, attractions, etc. And ever since Excel has entered the world, that level of “organization” (I say tomato, you say tomato), can be taken to blissfully masochistic levels.


Therefore, had I know that the Riviera Maya was a region just begging to be spread sheeted I would never have bought our flights. And not as part of a package (because I became overwhelmed with all-inclusive options almost immediately and could not decide on a resort in the 3 hours before our JetBlue vouchers expired at 11:59pm August 4th).


Did I mention I’m also a procrastinator?


The ultimate irony didn’t strike until 3 weeks later when we finally (mostly) committed to a resort that was…Valentin Imperial Maya–my original choice during those frenzied hours on JetBlue.com. So maybe now I’ve learned to listen to my instincts and not untold hours of TripAdvisor-review-reading? Hardly. At any rate, one spreadsheet of 30 all-inclusive resorts later, I had a shortlist. The honorable mentions were:


Xpu-ha Palace.
I wanted to love this one, I did. In fact for almost all of the research process it was the standard which all the other resorts were measured against. Lots of critters for the FI and Robinson Crusoe (or is it Swiss Family Robinson?) bungalows for me. I could live with 2 restaurants and a non-existent beach since the Palace passport and free excursions seemed a worthy trade off. But I just couldn’t get past maxing out our budget for big black fences around an itty bitty pool. Sorry Xpu-Ha and your aviary…that I’m still daydreaming about.
There was Hacienda Tres Rios, part of a nature reserve! But astronomically expensive.
Grand Sirenis.
We actually seriously considered this like an hour after I found a review on TA with mention of a TON of bird species. I mean, haven’t you always wanted to visit the set of the Planet of the Apes sequels?
El Dorado Maroma.
Adorable bungalows. Or plunge pools on your balcony. Awesome deal. Sort of sad that the architectural discrepancy between the Mi Hotelito section and the rest of it is so horrifying it renders me totally unable to set foot on the property.
And lastly, Excellence Playa Mujeres. A great deal had through Amex Wishlist, that I’m still not entirely convinced they’re still not going to call me up and make me use. EPM (oh yeah, the Riviera Maya world is FULL of nonsensical acronyms) is known for its…wait for it…RTTs. Known in English as rooftop terraces, these come complete with plunge pools and giant outdoor beds. After an inappropriate amount of deliberation, this was given up for VIM, which was slightly more expensive but the reviews were more reliable and it allegedly had more animals. Is it obvious that I really wanted to go to EPM? Oh well, next time…
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VIM was stunning and I really can’t complain. Except to say that we weren’t there long enough. After playing Mexican roulette at customs (Scott lost and had all the shit–that’s right, because he was carrying both our bags–searched), we were picked up immediately. Thank you CancunTransfers–way to be completely on top of things, even when we rescheduled our return trip at the last minute!

I don’t understand the people who talk about Riviera Maya hotels in terms of not being close enough to the airport. I get not wanting to spend hours of your long weekend in a van, and probably would’ve regretted staying all the way in Tulum at some point or another, but VIM was like a sneeze away from the airport. I know don’t understand how people stay in Cancun proper without feeling like they’re at an airport hotel.

DSC_0194The driveway from Highway 1 (the Yucatan, much like Canada, really has one road) up to VIM’s “motor” entrance was endless, and I could practically smell the ocean in my excitement (enough research and map-looking-at and it’s like having internal compass). I entertained all sorts of daydreams about borrowing bicycles and riding along the driveway bird watching. Very ambitious, I would later learn. 

DSCF9438The entire place looked just like all the pictures in the best way possible. Complete with champagne. I got off to a responsible start by not finishing it in one gulp. Our swim up suite bred a level of laziness even I have never reached before. (Thank god we never ordered room service, because I seriously think if we had gone down that road, it would have been all over.)

The bed was comfy (so much for the hard Mexican beds rumor), the bathroom fairly luxe (though being spoiled I would’ve liked some tv in the sightlines of my spa tub), and the living area pretty useless, except for widening the distance between everything else and our pool access. (I did watch a movie and nap on the couch once to make it have purpose).

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Being able to walk outside and jump in the pool was literally a lifelong dream I didn’t even realize had never been realized. I mean, what little girl doesn’t want a pool? Especially during hot LI summers when every single one of her neighbors does? Pools to me, are quite literally the point of going on vacation. But I never really experienced what life would be like to truly have one in your backyard. It would be awesome.

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The beach was fairly awesome too. Mexico’s no Hawaii, but it was in serious contention with the Bahamas and rest of the Caribbean, and definitely surpassing California and Australia. And the best part—not a soul to bother you, no one selling anything! Beaches in Mexico are public, so it is surprising, and impressive that there was none of that. The VIM beach seemed to cater to every possibility, with plenty of quiet areas away from the volleyball, water sports, etc. The whole resort was very diverse in terms of people of different activity levels finding something for them.

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Our first morning there, I decided to take a yoga class. I was thinking, resort yoga class, that’ll be easy. Oh hahaha, tell that to “Eduardo” the sexy Mexican yogi a la pretty much every movie that’s ever featured vacation yoga. Hardest class I’ve ever taken–almost as rough as our 12 hour snorkeling extravaganza with Edventure Tours.

DSC_0821 The food on average was good to great. Not bad at all considering what we paid, and there really is something incredibly relaxing about not having to think about how much what you’re putting in your mouth costs.  After our Edventure day, we ate at Ginger, which was our favorite of the restaurants, I could have had a buffet full of their desserts, which sadly was not offered in buffet form. (For more food-related details, check out my review on Trip Advisor.)

After loads of Mexican food warnings, and the solid advice to do daily shots of Pepto, my delicate stomach was probably more affected by the possibility of getting sick than what I was actually eating. We ate all kinds of fruits and veggies (yes, I had salsa!) and drank the filtered(!) water, and for the most part were fine. In fact, there were several nights where I ate and drank such bizarre combinations of things (mudslides and sushi anyone?) that I‘m amazed I survived. (And the not fine could easily have been the antibiotics I’d taken a couple earlier that had, you guessed it, intestinal unpleasantness as a side effect.) I would advise to add some probiotics to the pepto routine and to keep taking both for a week after returning home.

We went in September which was hot, but bearable—you’re in or near the water most of the day anyway, and luckily for us it only rained briefly in Tulum and the morning we were leaving. Or maybe it rained other mornings and I just slept through them, haha.


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From someone who’s been there.
Don’t leave home without :
1) pepto, sunscreen and bug spray
2) a pool float – it’s worth the few bucks to not have to worry about whether or not they’ll be any around
3) singles!!  – the staff is great, and it’s so much easier to tip when you don’t have to track down the cash
4) more than one swim suit – today’s is not going to dry in time for tomorrow in all that humidity

What to do if you’re…
1) Feeling lazy. Book a swim-up suite – you’ll never have to worry about finding a lounger poolside when it’s right outside the room.
2) Feeling adventurous. Try Edventure tours. It really was the best day of our vacation.
3) Feeling thirsty. Find swim-up pool bartender David and ask him for his signature
mango, tequila, and milk concoction. Nothing short of amazing.