Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Punta Venado Beach Club

AT LAST! The Cancun weather we know and love is back and we spent the weekend beaching it up. Saturday we took advantage of the new beaches in the hotel zone, but Sunday we did our famous "let's drive and see what we can see" road trip. We hit the highway and just kept our eyes open for a public access beach that we hadn't visited before. When we were just south of Playa del Carmen we spotted the sign for "Punta Venado", advertising ATV tours and horseback riding, with teeny tiny letters indicating there was a beach club. We headed down the dirt road to investigate what was happening in "Deer Point".

We drove about 2 kms until we saw some horsies and a little hut. We asked about the horses but at $60 USD a pop, we chose not to do the tour. The guide told us that the beach club was another kilometer down the road and it was free to enter as long as we were eating and drinking. Bargain, we like free! The road was surrounded by jungle, just gorgeously green and smelling oh so fresh. When we got our first view of the sea through the palms and ferns, it was spectacular! We pulled up to the beach club, grabbed ourselves a table under a palapa and gazed around at the pretty much untouched spot. We were a little bit south of Playa, a little bit north of Puerto Aventuras, with NO resorts to be seen. We could see Cozumel on the horizon and not much else. The beach was clean (until we took a long walk and got off the main property, then we stumbled on piles of garbage that had obviously come from boats, what a shame). It's not a great swimming beach, it's a "reefy" beach, coral and rocks and shells. Ok for walking or snorkeling though and absolutely gorgeous to look at! They had a little kids' play area set up, bouncy castle, climbing toys and trampolines, Max took advantage of that for a little while. We had a great lunch, the beach club was kind of "chic" considering how remote it was, the menu was not just ceviche and tacos but the prices were reasonable for what we got. My salad with arugula, avocado, asparagus and shrimp was delish!

Hubby went for a snorkel, I went for long beach walks, we took a little trek through the jungle until the mozzies got to be too much, we napped on the beach, soaked up some sun, followed a crab around for a while and got up close and personal with hundreds of snails lining the rocks to the north and south of the beach. An absolutely perfectly lovely day. I won't go on and on about it (hmm, maybe I already have), I'll let these pics do the talking for me.

These snails were crawling all over, slimy beauties!

Hubby going for a snorkel

Our little friend "Crabby"

It was a gorgeous day for a sail

Max checking out Crabby's progress

Yes, I gasped when I saw this view

Jungle shot

Even dead things can be beautiful in their own way

Crabby doing his Panama Jack commercial

Plain old prettiness

The very clean, very well maintained beach club

Heading south of the beach club, NOTHING to see here folks

Natural beauty

We'll definitely go back again, maybe give the horses a ride, get a massage on the beach and relax, relax, relax, it's the perfect spot for it.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Winter of our Discontent

The weather this year has sucked. Really sucked. For months it's been cold or rainy or cold and rainy. We've had more "nortes" (cold fronts) than any year since I've been here and some say more than the last 20 years. I know, it's colder up north, I get that, but up north houses were built to stay warm, have central heating and everyone has nice warm clothes. Here the houses were built to stay cool and we live in tank tops and flip flops. One of my big reasons for choosing to live here was the year round heat and sunshine and this winter hasn't given me much of that at all! When I complain to my northern friends, I don't expect sympathy, truly, they are covered in piles of snow and suffering a million degrees below zero, but they can escape when they go inside. Here, when it's 9 C (50 F) outside, it's the same inside. Shivering, shaking fingers that just can't find the correct letter on the keyboard, icy cold showers and conditioner that is so cold it won't come out of the bottle. Who would ever have thought that in Cancun I would be wearing a wool turtleneck with a fleece sweater over it and a t-shirt underneath, long fuzzy pyjama pants and thick socks and still be cold?

We caved in and bought a space heater. Ludicrous! Space heater in Cancun? Yes, when we realized that it just wasn't going to warm up again we bit the bullet and bought our little life saver. We used it mostly at night to warm the place up before bed, but I'll be honest there were a few days where the chill in the house was unbearable and we sparked it up in the middle of the day. I've gone through more hot chocolate in a couple of months than I have for the last six years. There were days I actually wished I had gloves.

The weather has not been conducive to doing much of anything. Cancun is made for outdoor activities, but in the cold and rain the beach and jungle are really not that appealing. My skin is back to its pasty, white Canadian translucency, desperately in need of some sun! It's been far too long since we've been able to play in the ocean or catch some rays. Our exercise is limited to jumping around to Michael Jackson songs and using online tutorials to learn the "Thriller" dance.

This past weekend we headed over to Isla Mujeres to see some long-lost friends from Canada. The day was kind of "meh", cloudy and not exactly warm. I was wearing long pants and a heavy denim jacket and had Max bundled up. Our friends were quite content in their bikinis while I shivered on the beach! I think they thought I was a bit nuts, but the body gets accustomed to hot weather and can't deal with the chill anymore.

Of course the last couple of days have been nice. "Of course" because I've been at work and Max has been at school. It seems when we do get a nice day it's always on a work day. Murphy's Law is being enforced! I'm hoping, fingers crossed, knocking on wood that the nice weather is here to stay, though the grapevine says we're due for more "nortes" this year. I am sooooo over it though, I am ready for the three-shower-a-day heat again, bring on the humidity, bring on the days hot enough to cook an egg on the sidewalk! I WILL NOT complain about the heat this year, I promise on my honour, not a peep of "Oy vay, it's so hawt, the humidity is killin' me!". My mantra when the heat comes will be "Que rico, que rico, que rico!"

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Almost NOlympics

Ah, winter of 1976. The year Dorothy Hamill inspired the five year old me to wear my hair in that funky bob for the next 10 years. The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat, the days off school to watch skiing and skating and curling. I fell in love with the Olympics that year, Dorothy was my first idol, then the summer Olympics in Montreal ensured a lifetime obsession by giving me (and the world) a little Nadia Comaneci. Since then, I have adored the Olympics, always a pleasure to watch countries come together in peace and share in the love of sport. Families gather around the warmth of the television to cheer on their countrymen and bond over the losses, the wins and the human interest stories.

I was bursting with excitement for this year's Vancouver Olympics, who could blame me? "Canada" and "Olympics" in one easy shot, a way to share my love of both with my son. I wept during the opening ceremonies, I love that Canada had a message about the environment and featured our indigenous peoples. KD Lang blew me away, the effects were great, I enjoyed myself immensely (yes, even through the tears). Unfortunately it was a bit late at night so Max was asleep, but when we awoke the next morning I was ready to watch events all day long and teach my son a thing or two about Canada, world geography and sport. I turned on the tv and went to the station that had shown the opening ceremonies. Nothing. I searched through the listings, nada. How could it be? The Olympics were just starting and we had no coverage? (Grab heart, throw other hand over forehead, weep and cry "woe is me!")

This happened every day. Me with great hope in my heart, seeking some Olympics on tv, online, everywhere. The main online portals had streaming video, sure, if you live in the US or Canada, they were blocked in Mexico. I found a stream for the first US/Canada hockey game but promptly got attacked by a virus. There were a few days where we found broadcasts between 2 and 3 in the afternoon, but never enough and never the high profile events that I wanted to see. I fell deeper and deeper into a NOlympic depression, feeling left out of the whole thing, like being the only kid in class who was not invited to the party.

And then, oh joy, oh bliss, the local channel decided to run the ladies figure skating final!! I wept (ok, perhaps I'm a little sensitive, yes, I cry, get over it Hubby!) and fell in love with Joannie, felt enormous pride in her medal and actually woke Max up to tell him about it. Then a real bonus, the figure skating gala was televised and I was able to weep and fill up my half-empty Olympic heart a little more.

The highlight of the winter Olympics for any good Canadian is the hockey. I will admit, I actually despise the game, but I love Canada and Olympic hockey is much more enjoyable to watch than the fight club they call NHL. I decided not to sit at home and wait to see if it was broadcast, we set off for Hooters (yeah, I know, shhhh) and set up camp with my maple leaf flag flying proudly from our table. A good friend joined us, we watched the game (no sound, argh), and I pretended my Pacifico was a Moosehead. Oh such joy to win that game, my Canadian heart swelled (no tears, we were in public you know!), I got a little tipsy and we made our merry way home.

I watched some of the closing ceremonies (yes, more tears, brutal eh?) and then fell soundly asleep. My NOlympics had changed to the OH!lympics and I was a happy girl. I wish we could have seen more, that Max could have learned more and perhaps found a hairstyle idol of his own but I am happy that he at least got a sample of all that the Olympics are about and a little taste of Canada thrown in. My fingers are crossed that Mexican television gets it together for the London 2012 summer games so we can rock out with the gymnasts and skullers and soccer players (nope, don't like soccer either, but I've got some tears saved up for Mexico!)

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...