Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Totally Random Cancun Mexico Pics

Photos, photos, photos, I am up to my ears in photos of Cancun, Riviera Maya, cats and Max! I just synced my phone to the compu and realized I haven't done a simple picture post in a while, so here you go, ten random iPhone photos from our recent travels.

Kid wants a tattoo, kid gets a tattoo. Grandma said so.

The playa in Playa

Max's First Drinking Contest. He lost. We'll practice.

Oh hello friendly lifeguards. (Max wanted me to kiss them. I didn't follow his orders)

That is one brave iguana. Look at all those scaredy iguanas in the back.

Decapitation (snicker)

Free Bananas Flambe? Well alrighty then!

Ahh ahh ahhh Akumal

How does a boat catch fire in the rain?

Two of my BEST girls and I in Playa (LOVE you ladies)

And there you have it folks, a look at some of the fun we've been having down here in paradise. Well ok, the decapitated doll and the burned-out boat weren't necessarily "fun", but they tickled me enough to take photos of them. Expect many, many more photos soon, I've got Oaxaca this weekend and some exciting adventures planned over the next month, stay tuned!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Mexico Today

"Como una mirada hecha en Sonora
Vestida con el mar de Cozumel
Con el color del sol por todo el cuerpo
Asi se lleva Mexico en la piel"-- Luis Miguel "Mexico en la Piel"

"Like a look made in Sonora
Dressed in the sea of Cozumel
With the colour of the sun all over the body
So Mexico is carried in the skin"-- translation by Canucka

"El Sol de Mexico", the singer Luis Miguel, never fails to give me goosebumps with "Mexico en la Piel". I DO feel Mexico in my skin and am proud to be "Casi Mexicana" and to have a son "Hecho en Mexico". So when I received an invitation to be part of a new initiative in promoting Mexico, I was eager to get on board.

"Mexico Today, in association with Marca País – Imagen de México, is a joint public and private sector initiative designed to help promote Mexico as a global business partner and an unrivaled tourist destination. This program is designed to shine a light on the Mexico that its people experience every day".

I've spent the last month in communication with the PR firm and the more I learn about the project, the more excited I become. We're just getting rolling now and next week I'll be traveling to Oaxaca to meet all the contributors and community managers involved. The list of participants is incredible, the best of the best in Mexico writers, I am humbled and honoured to be included! The people behind Mexconnect, Mexico Premier, The Mexico Report, Spanglish Baby, Mexico Cooks, Countdown to Mexico, Midwesterner in Mexico and Gringation's blog, to name but a few, will bring their expertise and passion to the "Mexico Today" team. How did I get so lucky?

I am so looking forward to meeting everyone involved and I am really pumped to visit Oaxaca! I have many friends who know Oaxaca well and they keep sending me suggestions for the things I need to see (and eat and eat and eat). It's too bad I am only there for a weekend and will only see a small portion of all there is in Oaxaca, but I know my time there will be full of new experiences and flavours in addition to new friends. I think I am going to need an extra memory card for the camera and perhaps one for my brain as I try to soak it all in. I will probably need to loosen my belt a bit too, Oaxaca is a culinary heaven and I may just come back with a few extra kilos on me.

As we launch the project, I invite all of you who love Mexico to join the Facebook page and follow along on Twitter. This is a paid position for me, I do want to be clear about that, but it's also an opportunity for me to share my love and my passion for Mexico, all opinions expressed are my own. I am a very fortunate lady. Join us and spread the love and feeling of "Mexico en la Piel".

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Life in Mexico Continues

"You look so different, my goodness, what happened?"

"Your eyes are sparkling, you look alive and you are actually smiling!"

"Are you going to go back to Canada now?"

These are some of the comments I have been receiving lately since separating from the ex. Yes, I am alive, yes, I am feeling happy and no, I am not leaving Mexico! Why would I leave? My life here is my own, it may have begun here because of the ex, but I created my own place, my own identity and Mexico is in my heart and soul. There are a lot more factors that go into staying here than just one Mexican man.

My reasons for living here are complex at this point, it's not simply "I like the weather", though that certainly plays a part. It's not just the beach or the cenotes or the tacos or the people. Mostly, I just like myself more here. I am healthier, physically and mentally. I don't feel the driving need for more "stuff", more success or to compete with anyone that I felt in Toronto. I am not rich here, nor am I poor, I live pay cheque to pay cheque, but I have no debt (no savings either, but I'll deal with that another day).

My son is getting a fantastic education here, not only academically, but in life and the planet as we go exploring the ocean and the jungle and the ruins as often as possible. He enjoys learning about his bicultural heritage, reading about Pancho Villa and the Mounties, singing "Mexicanos al grito de guerra" and "O Canada!".

Today I read about the riots in Vancouver after the Stanley Cup finals. It saddened me greatly and made me reflect on life outside of Canada. The people rioting in the streets over a stupid hockey match have no idea of the big picture, the world outside their happy little place where the worst thing that could happen to them is the loss of a game (that they didn't even play in, how could they have so much invested in something they don't participate in?!?) After living outside of Canada for so long I have a great appreciation for just how good it is back there. And I also see how few people really understand how fortunate they are. Living as an ex-pat (blech, really don't like that word), I can see the world as a whole, the injustices of poverty and human rights and the life of luxury that Canadians live. If you never leave your cozy little home, you will never see just how good you've got it and you'll simply complain and grouse over the most meaningless things. (NOT everyone, I am well aware of that, there are plenty of Canadians who travel who know what I am talking about and I am pretty sure they weren't setting cars on fire last night).

And so, I appreciate my old life and I doubly appreciate my "new" one (can it be considered "new" after almost 8 years?) Leaving Canada opened my eyes to see the good, the bad and the ugly in life and made me focus on the GOOD. While life is certainly not perfect, Mexico is my home. I enjoy my job, I love my friends, I have exciting adventures and I face new challenges every day. The last two months have NOT been easy, but I will not complain, I will forge ahead, take each problem as it arises and feel better about myself with every issue I can solve on my own.

"Cancun Canuck" is a big part of my identity (not all of it, sorry, some things I have to keep just for me). Take away the "Cancun" part and I lose a piece of who I am. I have some exciting new projects coming up that are a direct result of being "Cancun Canuck" and I can't wait to tell you about them. But that is for another day. For now, "Viva Mexico!", my home, my life, my heart, I won't abandon you (so please keep bringing good things to Max and I, don't disappoint us!)

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Final Countdown

After five long years, kindergarten is finally coming to an end. I know that sounds weird to NOB folks, but kids here in Mexico start school EARLY. Max started at his present school when he was about 18 months old and he's just turned six, ready to graduate from Kinder 3 and start first grade at a new school next year. This week is final exam week (he has monthly exams, but these are the big ones) and we're heavy into study mode. I was a little panicked, but the kid actually knows his stuff, kind of blowing me away actually! Here's a look at some of what he has to know to ace is finals....

"Culture and investigations"- The White Book

From Mexican Independence in September to Father's Day in June, he must know all the major holidays and events and key players. Pancho Villa, the Three Kings, Christoper Columbus, Miguel Hidalgo, Day of the Dead, Mother's Day, he knows his stuff. (A real blessing for me as I prepare for my citizenship exam, I realize I know most of the answers based on our kindergarten investigations). He's also done research on the five senses, the anatomy of the eye, the ear and the tongue, he knows the difference between oviparous and viviparous animals and examples of each, and he's got a pretty good knowledge of insects and spiders.

"Mathematics"- The Red Book

Counting to 1000 by 1's, 2's, 5's and 10's. Writing all numbers as words. Addition and subtraction of three digit numbers and fractions. Roman numerals to 500. Telling time, counting money (pesos and US dollars, a bit of a grrr for me, I had to do Canadian money of my own accord), and simple graphs. Mental calculations and word problems (if Sally has two tacos and Manuel gives her three tacos, how many tacos does she have?)

"Spanish"- The Yellow Book

ABC's capital/small letters. Read fluently with comprehension questions. Take dictation of sentences and stories. Copying text. Verbs and creating sentences using verbs. Must be able to correctly use a dictionary. Interrogative and exclamatory sentences. The parts of a story. Creation of stories. (The letters and writing must be "perfect", makes me a bit crazy truth be told!)

"English"- The Blue Book

Pronouns. Opposites. Spelling of months, days, colours, numbers and means of communication. Vocabulary of farm animals and insects. ALL verbs (that's what it says in the book, though I am quite sure they didn't cover ALL the verbs, ahem, they have a list of 70 that they must know). Present continuous and the gerund. Translation of Spanish into English and English into Spanish. Reading, writing and conversations using all vocabulary learned in the year. (Ok, obviously this is super easy for Max being a native speaker, I'll admit to pushing a bit on our own and doing all the Spanish and Math work in English too).

"French"= The Pink Book

Counting to 50, all colours and shapes. The house, the rooms of the house and furniture. Things you find at a party (different types of food, balloons, toys, etc..) The members of the family. Items you find in school. Answering the questions "Qu'est ce que c'est?" with the response "C'est......". Weather terms. Emotions.Plants and animals. Clothing. Christmas vocabulary. "Ou est.....?" (Where is....?) and the answers "sur, sous, dans". Directions "en haut, en bas, a gauche, a droite". "Combien de.....il y a?" ("How many .....are there?"). "I like/don't like". Food vocabulary. Occupations.

And this is why I have a headache today. Multilingual studies of a bazillion different things with a six year old who rolls his eyes when I ask him a question and says "Duuuuuh, that's easssssssy." I think I'll just hand him his books, let him read through them and call it a day. I am starting to think he has a photographic memory (like his mom), so maybe it's a better way for him to study anyway rather than taskmaster mommy calling the shots. However these exams come out, I am super proud of him and excited for the new challenges ahead of us. (And totally terrified at the same time, the moment is soon coming when he'll know more than I do!)

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...