Monday, August 31, 2009

Canada Requires Visa for Mexicans- A Real Life Tale of Red Tape

Last month the Canadian government announced that it would be requiring visas for Mexicans to enter the country. They did this with 48 hours notice, leaving thousands of travelers stranded, tickets in hand and no way to get a visa in time. The explanation was that with an increasing number of Mexican nationals claiming refugee status in Canada, they needed to implement the visa system to alleviate the pressures on the refugee system. Shortly after this announcement was made, I received an email from a lovely young woman in Puerto Morelos asking me for help. She was one of the people who had planned for a trip to Canada for a long time and was now left with just a couple of weeks to get a visa. Unfortunately I was unable to offer any assistance, but we kept in touch and I asked if I could do a little interview with her about her experience with the process. Here is the unedited interview with J from Puerto Morelos....

Canuck- Tell me about the trip you had planned to Canada?

J- Well, I've been planning to go to Montreal for years, I have lots of friends there and they are always asking me to come, but I don't know, it was until this year that i had the chance to to go, so, since January I start planning it, with my brother, he goes every year, but this time I told him to come with me, so he could show me around, he was taking a road trip in June - July so we decided to go after, in August, it was also my brother's best friend birthday and since my brother's friends knew he was coming they book him to play in Montreal, at Salon Daomé, We got our American Visa, to get better flights, and I bought our tickets in June. Everything was ready to leave and I was so excited!

Canuck- How long before your trip did you find out about the new visa rules? Did anyone contact you to notify you or did you just happen to find out online?

J-I found out around the 2nd week of July, my cousin saw it in the news and she called me. We tried to go to the consulate, I called the embassy, but we didn't got any answer, nobody received us, in the phone the machine said "if you have any questions go to the web page". I even got the consul in playa on the phone, but she told me she could not help me, because she din't know anything about this, that I had to call the embassy.

Canuck- What steps did you have to take to make the application? What documents did you need to provide and in what languages? How much did the application cost? Did you have to travel to Mexico City for the process? Did you have an interview in person? If yes, what did they ask you?

J- Well, after we find out that we needed a Visa, I got the application forms from the webpage, we start getting all the papers we were asked for.. in the aplication form, requires that we translate any document in spanish to English or french, I was like "!what!!!!" this will be so expensive, to translate all the documents, proof of employment, paycheck, income tax payments, medical insurance, business registration, Evidence of assets in Mexico, bank documents showing financial historyetc, it was a lot of documents to translate. Along with this, a document to proove that with have no criminal record, and another certificate of good health.- In mexico you know, this paperwork can last up to 3 days - We also need to fill the application form plus other documents:

My personal History, include jobs held, periods of unemployment, study, travels, stays in hospitals, prisons or other places of confinement, and periods at home as a homemaker at this point I was getting mad, you know, I felt impotent for not being able to talk to anybody about this, i mean Do I really need to translate everything, we are in Mexico, and every single document it's in Spanish for christ sake... Lucky me I found out that a friend from school was also aplying but she was leaving in one week, she told me she had to fly to mexico city, and make a 16 hours line, spend the night outside the embassy to be able to have a good spot the next morning. well, she told me that nobody in the line had translated any document. So I figure, is not THAT necesary. So I skip this part. Another documents we were asked for was (since we were going to visit friends, and relatives):

From the applicant:
Proof of relationship with the inviter in Canada (e.g. copy of birth certificate, copy of marriage certificate, proof of correspondence, etc.).

From the inviter: An invitation letter stating the purpose and duration of the visit (translation into English or French of this letter is required), a list showing the number of people in inviter’s household, a copy of the inviter’s citizenship or immigration status document, proof of inviter’s income and financial situation

Once we got all of this, we paid the application fee, which was 800 pesos + bank tax = 1050 pesos, we also had to paid the return Airway Bill, wich was 650 pesos, all of this non refundable. We had to mail everything to the Canadian Embassy, including our passport. I also added a copy of our already paid round flight. I work at the mexican government, and also own a restaurant, so I included proof of both, also a letter of my boss saying that i've been working here for 4 years, that I had 2 week holliday, and that I was traveling with my brother, and they expect me to come back to work after that. So once in the mail, we just had to wait. After one week I received a call from the embassy, saying that my aplication was ready but that I need to send the prepaid Airway Bill, which I already had send in the mail, with all my documents. The girl on the phone told me that it wasn't there, that either I send another one or i could come to the embassy to get my papers back. Yeah right, all the way to Mexico city!. so I sent another Airway Bill. at this point I was happy, I tought I got it, so, 4 more days, and the package of my brothers papers arrive, we checked and He got his Visa!!!, we were leaving in one week, but I was still waiting for mine.

Canuck- How were you notified about the results? Did they give reasons for the denial? Did you get a refund on your trip or did you lose everything? Did they say you could reapply for future trips? Are you prohibited for any length of time?

J- It was thursday, my flight was leaving on Sunday, I received the package from the embassy, I was really nervous, I opened it up, and I got a letter from the embassy, that's weird I thought, my brother didn't got a letter. The letter said that they have determined that I don't meet the requirements for a Visa, so therefore my application was DENIED. The reasons was:

-In the application form, I was asked to list all my personal History, include jobs held, periods of unemployment, study, travels, so I did, and in this part I told that I was in canada traveling 10 years ago, and my stay last 6 months, wich is the time I was alowed to stay.
- They were not satisfied I had sufficient funds.
One bank statement had sufficient funds but the last one of course it didn't have sufficient funds, I took some of the money out to change it to dollars I was leaving in 2 weeks! ..... I had cash.. not money in my account, what If I can't use my card in canada... It has happened before.. and the money of the restaurant is not on my names bank account. But, they didn't know this. I didn't get a refund on my trip, but I can still use the ticket for a year, of course paying the difference in the price. The letter said that if I have new info that I wish to provide to apply again I could do it.

Canuck- What are your personal feelings about the visas? Canada?

J- Well, they can do whatever they want, I don't think a visa will stop the immigration, look at United States, visa or not visa, people are still crossing the border. but I don't agree that this was a good way to do it, they should at least give more time to get the visa, it was holliday period a lot of people was traveling there, had planned everythin, payed flight and hotels, and even also maybe the have already bought the entrance for a show or a tour.. The embassy should've give a period of time to get the visa... so that people that already have everything planned and paid could go this time.... I think if I didn't had friends there I would not go to all this trouble to get the visa.. I rather go to the states, they did got me the visa.. and for me, working at a governments office, it was easy to get. But, my friends are waiting for me, so, I'm going to apply again, lets see if I can make it to go in October. Now, I know what was wrong, so that is something I can change, put the money back in my occount, write a letter explaining why it was denied the firs time and see, If I get it.. if not, I'm going somewhere else.. I don't want to stay there, I mean I have my job here, my restaurant, my family. I was In NY a few months ago, and I didn't stay there. But I so want to get a Poutine! ha ha ha ha.

And that was that. Hard working, talented young woman with no nefarious plans to stay in Canada has her vacation plans ruined by a pile of bureaucracy. With more than 200 000 Mexicans traveling to Canada every year, this new visa rule will cause nothing but heartache and trouble. The Canadian government reported that they had 9000 refugee applications last year. So, to try to save themselves from doing paperwork for 9000, now they will have paperwork for 200 000 visa applications. As a Canadian citizen, I am NOT happy with what the government has done or the way in which the new regulations were implemented. Thousands of tourists and business people travel to Canada with great frequency, I don't understand why they need to be penalized for the few that do not have legitimate reasons for entering Canada (and I firmly believe that most who claim refugee status are legitimately in need). I have always been proud of Canada's relationship with Mexico, but this action is only going to strain the partnership. It appears that it is now more difficult to get into Canada than the USA, more paperwork needed and more fees. There has been talk that this is a temporary measure, I certainly hope that is true, I am ashamed of their actions and can only hope that the decision is reversed soon.

Good luck to J and anyone else in her position, I hope that anyone wishing to visit Canada gets the opportunity to do so, without having to jump through hoops and cut through piles of red tape.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Xpu Ha Beach- Shhhh, don't tell anybody!

After our terrific dip in the extremely refreshing Cenote Azul, we popped back onto the highway to head further south in search of a beach. I thought we were close to Xpu Ha (prounounced "schpoo hah") and voila, there it was, not even five minutes away! We made the turn and found our way to the entrance. There was a rope across the road and a couple of ladies sitting at a table collecting entrance fees. As they say, "We don't own the road but we own the rope". They charged us 25 pesos per adult and we were past the barricades and on our way down this road......

The road to Xpu Ha

Whee doggy, almost like off-roading, we were bounced and jiggled around and I swear even with my seat belt on I hit my head on the roof of the car. We found a fairly full parking lot and made our way down to La Playa beach club. We got settled in, ordered a couple of chelas, got Max lathered up with sunscreen (always a battle and a half for some reason) and set him free to terrorize the land. There was some great salsa music playing and we noticed that a band was setting up their gear. When they started playing I was thrilled, they were very good! Nothing like a gorgeous beach, live salsa music and a couple of cold ones to make a Sunday grand.

We chilled, we frolicked, I went for a long walk down the beach. The ocean at Xpu Ha is absolutely, without a doubt, the clearest, most beautiful water I have ever been in. No seaweed, no rocks or coral, no silt, just pure crystal clear blue waters and white sands, quite stunning. It's hard to impress me with beaches now, but this one knocked my socks off (well, if I had been wearing socks they would have been knocked off for sure). Some black clouds started to roll in from the sea, but we pshawed them and stayed put. It rained for a few minutes and then all was clear and hot again. The band didn't stop playing, no one packed up and left, the rain didn't phase anyone. Just another day in paradise.

Live band (can you see the rain drops?)

"Fea" means ugly. Certainly not a word for the beach!

Muchos turtle nests

Ominous looking clouds. You don't scare me Mr. Stormy!

Back to blue skies

Sweet spot behind an abandoned resort

There is a camp ground right on the Xpu Ha beach, we're hoping to spend the weekend there very soon, can't wait to go back and fully enjoy this prime spot in the Mexican Caribbean! This fantastic little place is not very well known to tourists, so shhh, keep it our little secret please!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Cenote Azul- A Refreshing Sunday Dip

Sunday morning dawned bright and hot and as usual we were looking to get out of town for the day. Normally we sit at the computer and make a plan, so yesterday we decided to just hit the road and see what we could see. Hubby is really keen on seeing the ruins of Coba, but in this heat and humidity it just wasn't all that appealing to me but we started driving south in the hopes of finding inspiration. Max was in the back seat chanting "Cenote, cenote, cenote, CENOTE" (yes, he's a bit repetitive and loud sometimes) so once we got south of Playa we started looking for a yep, you guessed it, cenote. We stopped in at Kantun Chi first, it looks like a gorgeous place but it was out of our budget for the day, 300 or 500 pesos each wasn't exactly what we were looking for. We went a few meters up the road and saw the sign for Cenote Azul and stopped in to check out the lay of the land. Hurrah, 50 pesos for adults and 30 pesos for kids, much more in keeping with our financial state. We paid our entrance fee and found ourselves on a rocky jungle path in search of the "sink hole" (just doesn't ring in English does it? We'll stick with "cenote".....).

We passed a couple of small cenotes that were filled with families and kept walking. We followed the path until we found what was definitely the main attraction, a crowd of people set up on the rocks with their lunches and drinks and hammocks, a group of guys on top of a small cliff diving into the cool clear water and a crowd of people playing and snorkeling in the water. At even a quick glance I could see that the water was full of fish, oh joy, oh bliss!! We didn't settle in right away, but continued on the path, finding other smaller cenotes with no people but very pretty views until the path ended and we turned back. We set up camp and jumped into the fray. WOW, oh wow, the water was c-c-c-cold! A very welcome chill on a hot hot day, it took a few minutes to adjust and then we were grateful for the fresh waters. We soon discovered that standing on the rocks meant that your feet would get nibbled by fishies, not "bites" that hurt, but little fishy kisses. I tried to get a photo of the fish biting my feet, but every time they did it I jumped so alas, no foot/fish photos for you. Of course, I do have a few other pics to share.....

Refreshing Jungle Oasis

Max the Super Snorkeler

Lovely fishies (these were not the biters, they were much smaller)

This woman sat like a crocodile in the water,
oh so still, allowing the fishies to come to her
(The little dark spots around her are small catfish)

Catfish...there were hordes of them

A tourist braves the big jump to the
delight of the locals

We hung around for an hour or two then Hubby got sick of the crowds and decided we should move on to the next part of the adventure. I really loved this spot, the crowds didn't bother me, though I suspect it's a much more enjoyable place during the week and not on a family Sunday. It's a very pretty cenote, clean and refreshing, off the real "tourist" track, definitely a locals place to play.

Tomorrow I'll bring you the second part of our day, the "newest" beach in the Canuck line up, Xpu Ha......

Thursday, August 20, 2009

New Olympic Pool in Cancun- Inaugural Day with Governor Felix Gonzalez and Mayor Greg Sanchez

For months and months and months we've been watching the construction of the new Olympic pool of Cancun. What used to be a jungle area is now a community center, with areas for soccer, volleyball, basketball and of course the gigantic Olympic-size pool. We knew they were getting close to finishing the project when they installed stadium lights last week, stadium lights that penetrate our bedroom window so harshly at night that I feel as though I've been caught escaping from jail. Anywho, I digress (lack of sleep). We took a walk over last night to see how things were progressing and we were very impressed by the facilities. We had no idea when things were going to be opening, but the clues were there that it would be soon as they were vacuuming and sweeping and making things presentable all night long.

When I arrived home this afternoon the parking lot was jam-packed with cars and I knew that something was up. Max and I headed over to see what all the hubbub was about and found ourselves at the dedication ceremony, front row center, listening to the Mayor of Cancun Greg Sanchez and the Governor of Quintana Roo Felix Gonzalez speak proudly of the new facility. This was the first time I have been so close to "famous" politicians, and I must say, Greg Sanchez gives a powerful speech. For all the complaints and almost-scandals about this man, he has done some good things in his time in office and seems to be quite sincere in his pride in Cancun (and his accomplishments which he listed in detail).

To christen the new pool, the top ranked swimmers in Quintana Roo were invited to an inaugural race, they all seemed thrilled with the new facilities and excited to be participating in the event. Both the Governor and the Mayor were quite gracious in their speeches, speaking passionately about their desire to create a healthy environment for the people of Cancun and Quintana Roo, particularly creating athletic facilities for young people in order to keep them off the streets and away from lives of crime and drugs. The cynical part of me stayed home today and I was simply proud to be there and proud to be Cancunense and to be a part of a community that is trying to better itself. Viva Cancun! Viva Quintana Roo!

Alberca Olimpica/Olympic Pool of Cancun

Mayor Greg Sanchez (left) and Governor Felix Gonzalez (right)

Mayor Greg Sanchez

Governor of Quintana Roo Felix Gonzalez

Inaugural race

The beautiful new pool

I hope that we and the people of Cancun can enjoy the new facilities for years to come. After so much bad news, it's great to be witness to something so positive for the city and the community.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Molotov in Cancun- Benefit for the Fire Dept.

Molotov, one of the most famous (and controversial!) bands in Mexico will be holding a benefit concert in Cancun this Thursday, August 20th at the Bulldog Cafe. A portion of the show's proceeds will go to the fire department of Cancun, an organization desperately in need of new equipment. Tickets are available in advance for 450 pesos, 500 pesos at the door.

I must admit that my first experiences with the music of Molotov were quite negative, I didn't understand their message and honestly hated the one song that I had heard, "Puto". I was living in Cozumel (my first home in Mexico) and going to the nightclubs where the song was played loud, with the crowd going nuts chanting the chorus. I didn't know much Spanish then, but I knew that "puto" was a derogatory term for a homosexual man and I was completely offended by the whole thing. Since then I have read that the song is not meant to be homophobic at all, the band claims that the word is being used to describe cowards or cheaters. It's still not my favourite song, I'm not totally convinced by the band's denials of homophobia and I am sure that a lot of their fans do use the song to support their homophobia, but I got over my initial repulsion and began listening to their other hits and realizing that they had a lot to say about Mexican pride and politics. One of the songs that I quite enjoy is "Frijolero", a huge hit for the band confronting border issues, emigration to the United States and the drug trade. Lyrics and translation (and an opinionated article about the band) can be found on Be warned, the band uses strong language to get it's point across, not for those who are easily offended.

Regardless of the controversy, no one can dispute that Molotov has a desire to see the people of Mexico to stand up and strive to make Mexico a better place. Sometimes strong words are exactly what is needed to shake things up. I hope the benefit concert is a great success and that the heroes of the fire department get the assistance they so greatly need.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Bad Behaviour- Mexico/USA Soccer

I was rudely awoken from my afternoon nap yesterday by the neighbours screaming. At first I was scared, thinking "What the bleep is going on???" until I groggily realized that it was the Mexico/US soccer game. My second thought was "The players can't hear you $%^#$%". I understand screaming while you are at the game, that's what gives the home field advantage, you let the players know you are supporting them, but screaming while watching something on TV is just ridiculous, what's the point?

Anywho....I'm not a huge soccer fan but decided to get online to see what all the screaming was about. Much to my dismay, I found not only the score, but a whole nasty pile of nonsense that had nothing to do with "sport". The first live chat I found was entitled "USA versus Evil", a lovely way to start my exploration. Within this chat I saw comments that infuriated me, mocking the Mexican national anthem, "jokes" about Mexicans trying to get green cards or making a run for the border, swine flu references (as if swine isn't all over the world) and generally racist words. I posted this on Facebook and the comments I received back suggest that this is simply "trash talk" and it's part of sport, but I really don't believe that disrespecting a culture and a country can be excused for any reason.

I then moved on to other articles that made me just as ill. Reports that Mexican fans booed the US national anthem and threw vomit and urine on a US player. I read of fights and punches thrown and a player strangling another player.

What kind of behaviour is this??? What does it have to do with soccer or athleticism or skill or technique or sport? Discussing this with Hubby he said "It's passion". Really? I thought passion was about "love, like, adore, worship", not about "hate, defile, disparage, disrespect". If one is passionate about their team or a sport, why can't one just support and be positive for their team, why does it have to be about "talking trash" or insulting the opponent? Why can't the focus be on skills and athleticism?

The whole thing has made me quite ill. I wasn't much of a soccer fan before (boring!) but now I am even more against it. I know my son wants to play, but why would I introduce him to such a negative environment? I'm trying to teach him to be respectful to everyone, but apparently "respect" is not part of the soccer world. The behaviour of the players and fans is NOT behaviour I want my son to learn.

While most Mexican fans are jumping for joy today, I think they should be hanging their heads in shame, along with the American fans who showed disrespect not only for a team, but for a race of people. I thought sports were supposed to be about fun, but there was nothing fun or funny about what happened in Azteca Stadium yesterday.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Cancun Events

Hi all, just want to share a few upcoming Cancun and area events, a little bit of this, a little bit of that...

This Saturday August 15th The City nightclub is having a special event and the city of Cancun is plastered with flyers and posters. The Mayan Battle Championships will be the first mixed martial arts event to come to Cancun, big muscle heads hurting other big muscle heads! Not my type of entertainment, but hey, if you like to watch grown men beat the bejesus out of each other while surrounded by drunken macho men cheering them on, you can visit The City on Saturday night. Tickets are available here and here. (Yeah, I really sold that one didn't I? I figure either you like this stuff or you don't, personally I don't have a taste for it, if you do, whatever floats yer boat, come on down!)

Two events that are certainly more appealing to me than the above were announced earlier this month. After the success of Placido Domingo's concert at Chichen Itza, the governor of Yucatan state announced that Sarah Brightman and Elton John will both be presenting concerts at the famed Maya ruins site. I cannot confirm the dates, though Yucatan Today states that Sarah Brightman will perform October 31, 2009 and Sir Elton John will set a date for 2010.

In more sporty news, September 20th brings the Cancun Ironman competition. Biking, swimming and running in paradise, this should be a sight to see. (No singing or punching, at least they're not mentioned in the promotional material).

Yummy in your tummy, the Latin American Food Show is coming to the Hilton Cancun Convention Center September 2-4, 2009. LAFS is an important international trade show, bringing together Latin American food and beverage distributors from a wide variety of countries. If this is like any of the food and beverage trade shows I used to work in Toronto, you'll be full of tasty samples (and flyers and business cards and swag....)

Sticking with food but heading south, the "Taste of Playa" culinary festival kicks off in Playa del Carmen September 5, 2009. My lovely fellow blogger Michele is part of the team that is organizing this new event, I wish her all the best in her venture, I hope it is a great success!

And lastly, a little something just for fun. Apparently Hasbro is developing a Mexican version of Monopoly and giving people the chance to vote on which towns, cities and attractions are included in the game. While my house is not on the list (boooo), you can keep it local and vote for the incredible Sian Kaan biosphere which is located in southern Quintana Roo, or of course, the new wonder of the world, Chichen Itza. The site is in Spanish, but I'm pretty sure that you can figure out that "vota" means "vote", click it and then click the location you would like to see added to the game board. Both Sian Kaan and Chichen Itza are really low on votes, make yours count! I'm really looking forward to kicking the butts of Hubby and Max when this game comes out!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Es Un Pingo

Raising a kid in Mexico is a daily learning experience. Well heck, I guess raising a kid anywhere is a daily learning experience, but for me it's not just parenting lessons, but language and culture lessons as well. There are some expressions that people use that leave me befuddled the first time I hear them though I find myself using them repeatedly once I have learned them. I still don't understand why parents call their children "papi" and "mami", shouldn't it be the other way around? Don't get me wrong, I use them too, but at first it seemed a little odd. Now I call Max "Pa" more often than not and when I talk to little girls I find myself calling them "mami" or "hija" though they are neither my mother nor my child.

A few of my other favourite "kid" words in Spanish....

Chamaco- Used to refer to any child, but more often than not it seems to be used when the kids are being annoying. "Pinches chamacos, siempre estan gritando y llorando", "Damn kids, always screaming and crying".

Travieso- Naughty and mischievous! Dennis the Menace was "bien travieso", "very naughty".

Escuincle- The "escuincle" is literally a dog native to Mexico, but the word is used to describe kids in general as well, usually in an affectionate way. "Mi escuincle es muy listo, puede contar hasta 100 y solo tiene 3 años!" "My child is very smart, they can count to 100 and are only 3 years old!"

Mamitis/Papitis- A "condition" whereby a child is overly attached to "mama" or "papa" and has a case of separation anxiety. "No puedo consolar a mi niño cuando sale su papa, tiene un caso de papitis", "I can't console my child when his father goes out, he's got a case of daddyitis".

Berrinche- Every parent knows this expression, it means "tantrum". "Max, estoy hasta aqui con tus berrinches, callate ya!" "Max, I am up to here with your tantrums, be quiet!"

The latest addition to my kid vocabulary list is "pingo". I've heard it used in reference to Max by teachers, other parents and by Hubby. The sound of the word makes me think of the game on "The Price is Right" called "Plinko", you know, where you drop a disc down a field of pegs and it bounces around like crazy, it's final stop unpredictable. Seemed appropriate for my energetic little guy. I knew by the context of the conversations that "pingo" was akin to "travieso", I thought it was "energetic and a little naughty". When I finally decided to search it and find the exact meaning, my oh my was I surprised by what I found! Apparently in other countries, "pingo" means drug addict or prostitute! I'm quite certain that Max is neither of those things, so I had to dig a little further. Thank goodness for a site called "Jergas de Habla Hispana" which allows you to search Spanish terms by country. Phew, ok, so in Mexico it can mean "naughty child" or "devil", not nearly as bad as drug addled gigolo!

I suspect that over the next few years my school-age slang will be improving (meaning my language skills will be deteriorating!), Max will bring words home from school and I won't know whether to punish him for saying them or give him a high five. Some of them will oh so clearly lead to a time out, but I just know that my little "pingo" will do his best to push my buttons with language he shouldn't be using. And honestly? I'm looking forward to it.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

"Volun-cation"- Make your next vacation count

Want to make a difference on your next vacation? Come to Cancun and give your time to a very worthy organization helping homeless and abused animals. RAP Cancun is holding their annual spay and neuter clinic this October and they need your help. RAP is working with CANDI International in providing free spaying and neutering to pet owners who might not otherwise be able to afford it and are also planning to do some "catch and release" work with animals in the street in the hopes of reducing the population of homeless animals.

Here is the information from their release:

CANDi’s Second Annual
Mexico Spay & Neuter Clinic

CANDi - Cats and Dogs International is proud to announce that our second annual Mexico sterilization clinic will take place October 10 - 24, 2009.

We need volunteers to help us reach our goal of 500 sterilizations! Volunteers are needed to help the animals after surgery, through recovery. The only thing volunteers need to have is a love of animals. Volunteers do NOT need special skills!

This year we are doing a 2-week sterilization clinic in Mexico. Our goal is to sterilize 50 animals per day. The first week of the clinic will be held in the small Yucatan jungle town of San Cosme with outreach in nearby Ignacio Zaragoza (Ochenta). San Cosme is located 1½ hours west of Cancun. The second week of the clinic will take place in Bonfil, a neighborhood just 10 minutes south of Cancun.

Clinic Dates & Details For Volunteers

Week One – San Cosme & Ignacio Zaragoza (Ochenta)
Dates: Saturday, October 10 – Saturday, October 17, 2009
Details: Volunteers will arrive in Cancun on Saturday or early on Sunday (October 10th or 11th). We can help those who arrive on Saturday arrange a room at the Marriott Courtyard for Saturday night. We will leave for San Cosme on Sunday the 11th to go set up for the clinic. The clinic will operate from Monday October 12th through Friday the 16th. On Saturday October 17th we will pack and return to Bonfil. Transportation will be provided.

Accommodations: All volunteers for the San Cosme/Ochenta clinic will be sleeping at the clinic (clean, simple, dorm-style accomodations). We can accommodate 30 volunteers; Pan American Medical Mission Foundation will be donating the beds. We will have a cook to prepare 3-meals a day for us. The clinic has cots and hammocks, bathrooms, a full kitchen (with a microwave), washer and dryer.

Week Two – Bonfil, Cancun
Dates: Saturday, October 17 – Saturday October 24, 2009
Details: This clinic will be held at the RAP Cancun animal clinic in Bonfil, on the south side of Cancun. The clinic will operate from Monday October 19th through Friday the 23rd. CANDi will provide 2 meals a day (breakfast and lunch) to volunteers at the Bonfil, Cancun clinic. Note that volunteers for the Bonfil Clinic will be responsible for their own dinners.

CANDi-CATS & DOGS INTERNATIONAL | Darci Galati, President:
Accommodations: The Marriott Courtyard in Bonfil (10 minutes south of the clinic site) has offered a special rate to our volunteers of $39 USD, plus tax, per room. This is a clean, nicely appointed 3-star hotel with a pool. If you are interested in booking a room please make a one-night deposit by September 16th to guarantee your reservation. In case of cancellation please give 24-hours notice. To reserve your room at the special rate you MUST contact Darci Galati at For more info about the hotel please visit:

Please contact CANDi today to let us know which week you can volunteer for! And please forward this document to your friends; we need everyone’s help!

Note that all volunteers are responsible for their own airfare to and from Cancun. Be sure to let us know if you have any special dietary needs (i.e. vegetarian, vegan, etc.).

Map: To see a map showing both locations for this clinic please visit:

To volunteer please contact Darci Galati at
Fundraising for the Spay & Neuter Clinic

We are running a fund-raising initiative on Facebook to raise money for this clinic. Your donation of just $30 USD will help us sterilize one dog! Our goal is to raise $5,000 USD to offset the costs of the clinic. Please visit our Facebook page, become a member, make a donation and invite your friends to join our cause. Thanks for your support!

Visit our CANDi Cancun Facebook page at:

Our Humane Partners
For this clinic we are partnering with Vet Ventures, Pan-American Medical Mission Foundation, Isla Animals and RAP Cancun Animal Rescue to aid us in helping many of the stray dogs and cats in Mexico.


I've written about RAP in the past and will do so again, they are a much needed organization in Cancun, the problem of stray animals is huge. If you can do anything to help, please do, come down and volunteer your time or donate to the cause, you'll be contributing to an extremely worthwhile cause. Thanks for reading and thanks for your support!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Isla Mujeres Para la Cruda

Summertime, and the living is easy. We had a very summery kind of weekend, no big adventures, just taking it easy in this POUNDING HEAT. I am not complaining, really, I chose to live here for the weather so I cannot complain, but oy vay, it's hot. Like, take your breath away, someone sitting on your chest kind of hot. Saturday morning we went to Mercado 28 to get hair cuts for the boys at the old fashioned barber shop. As with most small town barbers, it's not only a place for a haircut, but a place for men to gather and chat. Saturdays topic was baseball, again, very much like any barbershop. "El Cubano" was there, one of the scouts for the Cancun Tigres and he and Max chatted like old friends. Turns out the playoffs were starting Saturday night so we decided to check out the game. Did I mention it was hot? Did I mention how very very cold and delicious the stadium beer is? Suffice it to say that I drank a LOT of beer and the Tigres won and I woke up Sunday morning "con la cruda" (with a hangover).

There is no better cure for a hangover than floating in the sea and the best place for that is Playa Norte on Isla Mujeres. Off we trudged (well, I trudged, the boys gallivanted) to catch the ferry to Isla. I knew that they had raised the prices of the ferry and expected that, what I didn't expect was that they now force kids to pay as well! So, while two weeks ago we would have paid 140 pesos for the ferry trip, yesterday it was 360, a big difference that really kind of irked us. Anywho, my hangover survived the ferry crossing and we walked to Mocambo restaurant so Hubby could get his ceviche fix. I ordered some food but couldn't stomach it so gave it to two little boys who were selling peanuts, they seemed quite happy with their french fries and fish fingers, my good deed for the day. Finished with lunch it was definitely time to get in the sea so we made our way to Playa Norte near Buho's, our favourite spot.

As soon as I hit the ocean I felt better. I submerged myself and came up feeling like a new woman. I floated, turned myself into a jet ski for Max and floated some more. The ocean felt great, though to be honest it was almost too warm, I felt like the shrimp in the soup it was so warm. We walked around in the water looking for cool spots and when we found one we let out a big "Aaaaah, there it is". If you've never been to Playa Norte, I'll tell you, it's the best swimming beach in the region. Calm waters, no rocks or coral and you can walk out forever and the water is still only up to your waist. Phenomenal. There are restaurants and bars up and down the beach to quench your thirst or tempt your appetite. Vendors sell the usual bracelets, pareos, hammocks and cold cocos. There are a lot of old palm trees lining the beach, something you certainly don't see in Cancun. It's a popular spot for European travelers and back packers, though more and more Americans and Canadians are discovering this little piece of paradise. Don't tell too many people though, new development is already starting to tick off the locals and the die hard Isla fans, we don't need another Cancun chock full of high rise all inclusive resorts. So, SHHHHHH.

This is how you get rid of a hangover

Playa Norte from the water

I am a jet ski


And since it's been a while since I've given you any 360 beach videos, here's a quick one for you.....

D is for Dengue, Depression and Dread

I'm currently sitting in my Cancun apartment, staving off the Covid 19 panic and using all my Jungle Kelly powers to maintain my cal...