Friday, October 28, 2011

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 authorities took no risks, they were fantastic about advising everyone of the latest news, warning people to stay safe and protect their homes and families and ensuring the safety of everyone. Citizens did not panic, took care and took cover and started the clean up of blown leaves immediately this morning. The city is back to business as usual and except for piles of leaves and branches waiting to be picked up, it looks as though nothing ever happened.

Since there is little left to say, I will let the pictures do the talking, here's a look at Cancun this morning...

"El Mirador" at Playa Delfines Cancun 

Playa Delfines Cancun 

 Tourists enjoying the sun on Playa Delfines Cancun

 Back to suntanning at the Riu Cancun

Playa Caracol Cancun 

The Riu Cancun 

The Party Center Cancun (ready to party tonight)

It was a fun ride, though lots of work covering a hurricane, I am exhausted! Happy to see Rina gone and to see Cancun back to normal. Come on down, the water is fine, wish you were here!


Thursday, October 27, 2011

"La Llorona": A Mexican Legend of Terror

"La Llorona"
(image courtesy http://tenoch.scimexico.com)

"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 in ignoring the man she would make him hers. The man fell for Maria and asked her to be his, they married and she bore him two children. The man eventually returned to his wandering ways, rejecting Maria and leaving town. Maria became distraught and blaming the children for the loss of her husband, she tossed them into the river to their death. Upon seeing what she had done and realizing her mistake, Maria threw herself in the river after them. After that day, the villagers would hear her cries on the nights of the full moon, "my childreeeeen, my childreeeeeen" as the ghost of Maria searched for the souls of her lost niños.





This is only one variation of many and the origin of the story goes back centuries. One theory is that the tale is based on the history of La Malinche and Cortes, the Spanish conqueror. La Malinche was born to a noble Aztec family in 1505, but was sold into slavery to the Mayans. Cortes, who came from Spain to conquer Mexico,  used La Malinche as an interpreter for her abilities to speak Nahautl and Mayan, and she became his lover, bearing him twin boys. Cortes later decides to return to Spain, announcing his decision to leave La Malinche and take his children with him. La Malinche realizes that she has betrayed her people in helping Cortes in his massacres and calls upon her gods for help. One of these gods tells her that if she allows Cortes to leave with her children, one of them will return and destroy her people. She brings her children to a lake near Mexico City, stabs them with a dagger and throws them in the water, crying out "Mis hijos, mis hijos!" After the death of La Malinche, her ghost is seen on the shores of the lake and her cries are heard for her missing children, giving her the name "La Llorona", "The Crying Woman". (There is no evidence that this tale is true or that La Malinche killed her children, though her role in the conquest is truth).

The story has been told to children for centuries, as a warning for them to behave or "La Llorona will come to take you". Movies have been made of the story, plays are performed every year for the "Day of the Dead" and there is a famous song by Chavela Vargas, "La Llorona", about a heart-broken person begging the Crying Woman to take them to the river. This month a new animated movie, "La Leyenda de La Llorona" was released in Mexico, an adventure story set in Xochimilco following the adventures of children seeking the Crying Woman. I was delighted to take my son to the theater and see it full of families, a thrill to see support for a Mexican-made movie (and a testament to the popularity of the story). This is a vital piece of Mexican culture, I love the legends and love sharing them with my MexiCanadian. If you get a chance, please go see this movie and support the Mexican film industry! And this Halloween or Day of the Dead, share the tale with your children (use your spookiest voice please!)




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.

Disclosure: I am being compensated for my work in creating and managing content as a Contribtor for the México Today Program.All stories, opinions and passion for all things México shared here are completely my own

Hurricane Rina Cancun


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

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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)

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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. (full story Hurricane Rina update NEW PICS)


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Hurricane Rina continues her path towards the Yucatan Peninsula this morning, currently a Category 2 though she is expected 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 (full story Hurricane Rina update)

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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. (full story Hurricane Rina update)


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Hurricane Rina Cancun Tuesday Oct. 25th, 7 am



Hurricane Rina formed as a tropical depression in the Atlantic basin Sunday evening and quickly converted into a category one hurricane on Monday. She became a hurricane after only 21 hours of becoming a tropical depression, the second fastest intensification in history after Hurricane Humberto of 2007. Waking up today, Tuesday, she has gathered strength and is now a category 2.

Current models have Hurricane Rina on track to impact the Yucatan Peninsula and the coast of the Riviera Maya and Cancun on Thursday, possibly as a strong category 3 hurricane. Listening to a radio report this morning, the meteorologist predicted that the movements of Rina will bring her up the entire coastline of the Riviera Maya, all residents of Quintana Roo must take precautions. The government has issued a hurricane "watch" and residents are being asked to make the necessary preparations. Heavy rains and winds are expected but it is the waves and storm surge that causes the most worry in a case like this.

For residents, the precautions include securing outside areas like gardens to ensure there are no objects that may become projectiles, filling tinacos and cisterns (water tanks) to ensure a water supply and so that they do not fly around the neighbourhood. Gas tanks and satellite dishes must be secured. Clear any debris. Indoors be sure to gather vital paper documents in a plastic bag, protect electronic equipment and move delicate items away from windows. Some suggest taping windows to prevent the glass from flying if they should break, others will board up the windows with wood if possible. Be prepared for an electricity outage with flashlights and batteries and a radio, charge cel phones and laptops and have a cooler with ice for food (and drinks). Withdraw enough cash for a few days in case the ATMs go down and fill the car with gas. Ensure your pets are safe, have a place to "do their business" indoors and have adequate food. Contact family outside of the city to inform them of the situation. Foreigners should contact their consulates and update their location. Expect electricity to be turned off in advance of the storm and the "ley seca" (dry law) to be implemented. Monitor the storm on your favourite hurricane site, I am a big fan of Dr. Jeff Masters on Wunderground and of course the National Hurricane Center.

Tourists in the region should discuss with their hotel staff the emergency procedures and ask about the location of the shelters. This information should be passed to family back home and the consulate of your country. Pack your things, secure documents and buy a few essentials like alcohol hand gel, extra toilet paper and non-perishable foods. Hotels will absolutely take good care of you and will have a plan in place to ensure your safety and relative comfort should an evacuation be ordered. (As of this moment there is no order for evacuations). Bring something to entertain yourself during the storm, a deck of cards, books, something for the kids to colour. There is unofficial word that the airport may be closed on Thursday morning, please contact your travel agents to discuss any changes and your travel insurance coverage.

As a resident of Cancun we must always be aware of the weather situation and we monitor storms like this closely. As a survivor of Hurricane Wilma, there is no sense of fear or anxiety, I know we can survive anything, but I must take the necessary precautions. There is NO NEED TO PANIC, we will get wet, we will get wind, but if you use common sense, your physical safety is not in jeopardy. Stay informed, secure your home and your family and do not do anything stupid like go outside during the hurricane or drink yourself into oblivion. Yes, most of us who live here will be passing the time with family and friends, perhaps having a few drinks and playing dominos, but we must be aware that we may need to deal with a crisis at any moment.

I will be posting updates on  my Cancun Canuck Facebook page and on Twitter, if we lose power I'll do my best to update from my phone as long as there is service. Please do not ask me what the effects will be on your trip for next week or next month, I couldn't even guess what may happen, though if you have a trip scheduled this week, I would recommend rethinking your plans.


Tuesday October 25th, 7:05 am CST (please note the date and time of this post as information may change)




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, have not been out to the hotel zone). The feeling here among many is "What a let down!", not to indicate that anyone wished for damages or anything serious, but after so much build up, it's like beating away at a piñata only to have it break and have no candy fall out.





I did an interview with Tom Walters of CTV National News in Canada that aired last night, you can see the video above. Gosh I sound so Canadian, eh? "Tooona". I will never live that down.

I will post any updates as things change and we start to feel the storm's effects. Hoping that we won't lose electricity or internet connections. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

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 relocated to the mainland of Cancun. The secretary of tourism, Juan Carlos Gonzalez Hernandez has indicated that there are approximately 23000 tourists in Cancun and 46000 in the Riviera Maya and that every effort is being made to ensure their safety. Many tourists were able to leave today in anticipation of the coming storm. The airport remains open, though 18 flights have been cancelled.

Cancun tonight (thanks to Diane for the photo!)

Currently in Cancun we have a bit of an "eerie" calm. No rain, no wind, not even a breeze. Quite a pleasant evening actually. The people of Cancun are prepared, settled in and are waiting to see what Rina will bring. The mood is one of "come on, let's do this!" as with days of build up we are all ready to have Miss Rina show herself and move on. I am confident that we are going to be just fine, everyone will be safe and we'll just be a little wet. We still take this storm seriously and are monitoring her movements, but the threat of serious damage and danger seems to have passed. Flooding and storm surge are our main worries. And, boredom as we wait her out.

I will be posting updates on  my Cancun Canuck Facebook page and on Twitter, if we lose power I'll do my best to update from my phone as long as there is service. If I have power and internet tomorrow, I will be doing a live report via Google +, you can find the broadcast on the KOMU live streamcast at 4 pm CST Thursday afternoon. My Canadian friends can see me tonight on CTV national news at 11, I did an interview on the beach this morning with Tom Walters. Stay tuned my friends and to all my amigos in the region, stay vigilant, stay dry and keep me posted as to conditions where you are!

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 as I left the hotel zone the rains came down. It has currently cleared a bit, not raining but definitely cloudy. Here are some photos of the hotel zone of Cancun this morning, anticipating the arrival of Hurricane Rina.

My "Happy Hurricane" boots in a big muddy puddle 

Preparing "The Columbus" galleon for Hurricane Rina 

A little futbol before the storm while workers prepare
"Chilis" and "The Hard Rock Cafe" in the background 

Haagen Dazs is ready, Carlos n Charlies was working on it 

Beautiful surf waiting for Hurricane Rina 

 Surfer may be a little lost in the party center instead of the sea

A smile from a friendly worker removing lights from behind the Hard Rock Cafe Cancun

I am just about ready to leave the office, we are shutting down and will not return to work until Monday. I will continue to update from home on Twitter, Facebook and Google + (after a nap, I'm beat after all that walking in the sun!) My friends in Canada can see me tonight on the CTV national news at 11, I had a nice chat with Tom Walters while I was out this morning.

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 evacuated. Cozumel has halted all small water craft activity and boats are being removed from the water. More than 65 brigades of 700 personnel are prepared to assist in any emergency in the state. Shelters are open and ready to receive refugees. Schools are closed until further notice and the "dry law" that prohibits the sale of alcohol goes into effect at 6 pm this evening (with the exception of the hotel zone of Cancun). The airport remains open though some flights have been cancelled, tourists are advised to contact their airlines or travel agents for information. No orders of evacuations have been made in Cancun though shelters are open and ready.

Boat being secured in Cozumel
photo courtesy sipse.com

Tourists currently in Cancun and the Riviera Maya should continue to monitor the progress of Hurricane Rina and follow the directions of hotel staff. It is recommended to contact your consulate to notify them of your location and let family and friends back home know the situation. Keep travel documents on your person in a plastic bag and have a small bag packed in case of an evacuation (you will likely not be able to bring all of your things, simply the essentials). Bring documents, a change of clothes, extra toilet paper, alcohol hand gel, snacks and something to pass the hours of the storm and avoid boredom. It is important NOT to panic, remain calm and follow the guidance of hotel staff and authorities. While the "dry law" is not in effect for tourists, it is in your best interest to be moderate in your drinking to maintain a clear head in case of a crisis. The hurricane plans and strategies to protect citizens and tourists are well developed and the physical safety of all is of primary concern.

Cancun sunshine over the lagoon 9 am Oct. 26th

Currently Cancun is partly cloudy, the sun shining through, with a light wind. Traffic was light this morning due to the cancellation of classes and there is a sense of calm in the city. Very few windows have been boarded up, though some businesses have rolled out the "anti-hurricane" shutters. The mood is light, the people of Cancun have been through this before and the usual jokes are being bantered about. That is not to say that we are taking this lightly, simply that we know what has to be done and it is "business as usual" for hurricane season. Hotels are securing all areas, bringing in lounge chairs and outdoor decor and taking all precautions necessary to protect their guests and staff. Many businesses are closing early to allow staff to tend to their homes and families

I will continue to update throughout the day on CancunCanuck Twitter, Canuck in Cancun Facebook
and Google +. If anyone has photos of activity in the region, I would love to share them, please contact me through any of the mentioned networks or email CancunCanuck. I will be going out to the hotel zone in a few moments to take photos of preparations.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

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 remain open tomorrow until further notice and there has been no announcement regarding the "dry law" (alcohol sales are prohibited during emergency situations). I have just heard personal reports about evacuations in the Riviera Maya, but nothing official. Authorities are well prepared for these type of meteorological events and the safety of citizens and tourists is paramount.

The view in Cancun on Tuesday afternoon

I took a quick trip out to the hotel zone in Cancun this afternoon, businesses are beginning to bring in outside decorations and secure their buildings. All is being done with a sense of calm, the plans are in place and are being implemented. Traffic was heavier than usual, people are out and about gathering supplies and preparing their homes for Rina's visit. Walmart was busy, but again, everyone was very calm, it did not appear to be "panic shopping" and there were plenty of fully stocked shelves. The current Cancun weather is rainy with a little bit of gusty wind, the storm is still quite a distance away.





The astronauts in the space station gave us this incredible view of Hurricane Rina, you can see just how big she appears from space. She looks mighty impressive! 

I will continue to update local conditions and any progress of Hurricane Rita on Twitter, Facebook and G+ as we receive more news about Hurricane Rina. If I have electricity and internet, I am hoping to have a Google Hangout tomorrow evening as Hurricane Rina gets closer, will keep you posted. Stay safe and dry everyone!

Friday, October 21, 2011

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 over my head and out the window. We fought the wind for the entire night, finally getting the front door nailed into its frame as the eye came over and the wind eased. We were able to tarp the windows the next day. Three days later,while I was prowling the garden looking for him, Pepe appeared out of thin air (as cats do), head-bumped my leg, and life was good......The guest bedroom had all kinds of Ritz Carlton artifacts blown in including Do Not Disturb door knob signs, towels, etc. We were in Florida, not paying attention and flew back the day before. Too late to buy plywood. Anticiclonicas were on the schedule, but not yet installed. Only our bedroom survived and that's where we lived with a mommy cat and her litter surviving on PB&J and bottled water we "salvaged" from the street for the week until the windows were replaced. I know it sounds odd, but it was one of the best times of our lives."- Mel


"We had moved to Mexico about six weeks before getting the first warning about Wilma. We spent the day boarding up the hotel and getting guests out of town on the last flights. We wrapped files, records and computers in plastic and moved them to the second floor rooms. Then we walked through the nearly deserted streets of Playa hoping that Wilma's path would change enough to miss us. We heard someone say that Wilma was projected to come over Cozumel and make landfall. We looked out over the sea at the island of Cozumel directly in front of us. "Shit" we both said at the same time. Welcome to Mexico."--Tony


I can only say that 2005 took me years to get over. Mentally debilitating especially after having been thru Emily"- Kay


"One of the things that I remember the most, after being terrified, was the aftermath. I had only been in Mexico for a short time and thought, OMG they will never get this fixed. It was amazing how they opened up the public phones and allowed everyone to call anywhere in the world for free! You only had 3 minutes for the calls but you could tell your family you were alive and safe. I thought that was a wonderful testimonial for Mexico. The way the people pulled together and shared food and drink was something I will never forget!"- Teresa


"We had just moved to Mexico in August, only to have Wilma hit in October. We have lots of stories of our experiences from that time, but one thing we remember so clearly is seeing how quickly and efficiently Mexico and the Riviera Maya handled cleanup and assistance after the storm. It was especially interesting to watch since less than three months earlier the entire world watched the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and the flooding of New Orleans and saw how badly that was handled. Mexico, a developing nation, handled this crisis about a million times better than the US handled its. We were very impressed with our newly adopted country."- Cheri


"As the news came in we would get our fair share of the hurricane, I started preparing the house for the worst case scenario - my husband took the last flight out of Cancun to attend a job elsewhere, so I was left alone, with the confidence that everything would be fine.On Thursday evening, as the rain started to pour down, and the wind speed picked up, I got in touch with my neighbors and they agreed to come over to my place to sit this one out.... however, by the time they realized it was really serious, their entire yard was flooded and the weather was so awful they never made it over to my place. There I was, about to go through the darkest 72 hours of my existence, alone with a 6 week old puppy to keep me busy.


I saw the wood paneling fly away from my living room window so I started picking up every piece of furniture I could lift ans shoved it all into my kitchen and then I ran upstairs to my bathroom to seek refuge to what turned out to be my worst nightmare. As the storm picked up speed on Friday, the dome on my roof "left the building" and with a huge gap in my roof, the pressure mad 2 windows in the living room downstairs implode so now Wilma literally entered the house. I pulled a mattress into my bathroom and went to sleep, exhausted after fighting the water and wind for hours on end, hoping that it would all be only a bad dream. 


When I woke up several hours later the Eye of Wilma was sitting above us and all was calm, that is when it hit me.. the brick fence around my house was missing... the walls had come down entirely and they were laying below a good meter of water in the yard. the entire first floor was flooded, glass was everywhere, it was a huge disaster zone and we still had half a hurricane to go.. so I just gave up... went back upstairs to read a book and wait it out.


on Sunday morning, all of a sudden all was calm... the sun was shining.... no more clouds or rain, but the sight of the neighborhood was one of destruction, dead trees, devastation and sadness.  I waded through the water towards my neighbors' house, and met several other neighbors on my way over, we all gathered, hugged and informed about the damages we all sustained to our homes. We sat down and prepared lunch, chatted, had a laugh and started planning to help each other out... we agreed on gathering in on particular neighbor's house that had next to no damage, so we could all shower, take a break and have a good meal.the solidarity among us was pulled us through.  


2 days later, my best friend finally got through to my house and the first thing she did was slap me in the face.... they had no clue for 4 days if I was ok... I had no way of letting them know... I promised myself, never to stay alone again during a hurricane, and learned that the material stuff does not matter... I did however have to learn this the hard way."--Severine


Hurricane Wilma is by far the MOST intense experience I have ever had. Today I am feeling the pangs, the twist in the gut, the sadness but most of all the pride in Cancun for surviving, rebuilding and thriving after such devastation. Thanks to all my friends for sharing their thoughts, think of this as a little bit of group therapy if you will. If you have your own experiences to share, please leave a comment, I 'd love to hear from you.



Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Enamorada in Mexico City

Yes, yes, I know this is a "Cancun" blog, but a girl with a passion for Mexico has the right to expand her horizons once in awhile! This past weekend I had the chance to experience a place I had never been before, Mexico City or as it's known down here,  "D.F.". I'll admit I went with some preconceived notions in my head, it's one of the largest and most heavily populated cities in the world and I expected to find a big, bad concrete jungle (with some cool museums thrown in the mix of course, I was starved for "cultcha").

Lake Chapultepec

What I discovered was something completely different. A magical place, all the things I love about Toronto and Chicago and New York City rolled into one with something extra, like a spicy salsa thrown on top of my favourite metropolises. This city is ALIVE, pulsating, vibrant and warm, and yet still somehow laid back enough that I never felt a moment of anxiety or heart-racing panic. Most surprising was just how green it was, soaring trees everywhere, plants and flowers lining the streets and beautiful parks with sculptures and bubbling fountains.

Angel of Independence

I only had one short weekend but I made the most of it, packing in some of the city's highlights and seeing the things that had most piqued my interest. I arrived on Friday night, checked into the hotel and set off for the "Zona Rosa", getting my first glimpse of the famous "Angel of Independence" statue lit up in the night as I walked. I filled my lungs with big city air and felt refreshed as we meandered past packed restaurants and bars filled with young and old alike, bookstores and coffee shops and neon pink "love" stores. I enjoyed tacos on plastic chairs as I let the sounds of the city wash over me, sirens and honking and car accidents and laughter. We found a tranquil bar inside a huge book store and drank civilized drinks and people watched the street below us.  My big city heart was full and happy and I was exhilarated.

Chapultepec Castle

The next day was a biggie, time to see the sights and act like a tourist. We set off early, errr, too early nothing was even open! We had intended to start out at the Museum of Anthropology but arrived an hour before opening time so we crossed the street to Chapultepec Park. The air was fresh (ok ok, I was shivering with cold, my body is definitely accustomed to the heat of Cancun), the sky was blue and it was a peaceful walk through the lush grounds. The princess in me was drawn to Chapultepec Castle, the former home of "Maximiliano" (I knew I HAD to get some photos for Max of "his" castillo). Wandering the halls filled with history and art was a fabulous way to start the day. We headed back to the anthropology museum, an emotional experience for me, the energy in the artifacts was powerful and it hit me right in the solar plexus.

Tlaloc at the Museum of Anthropology

In the afternoon we hooked up with my "amuga" (labeled forever due to an iphone typing error) Cristina of the fabulous blog "Mexico Cooks". We wandered an artist market and she then took us to eat the BEST pozole I have ever tasted. Nap time followed, then a great Argentinian dinner and a night of belting out tunes in a karaoke bar. And not to brag, but I DID win a bottle of champagne in the karaoke contest.

Historic center with the Torre LatinoAmericano in the background

The next day was spent in the historic center, wandering the delightfully crowded streets, seeing the monuments, towering sky scrapers set amidst the old buildings, the cathedral, the Palacio where the President of Mexico delivers his famous "El Grito" speech and spending time in Bellas Artes admiring the murals and paintings. I couldn't resist lining up for a "limpieza" (a cleansing) by a shaman from the Mexica tribe, he banged my body with a small, hard fruit, brushed me with leaves, sprinkled me with some liquid substance and blessed me with abundance, prosperity and love. I've decided I am a firm believer and all those things are coming my way.

Mexican shaman blessing CancunCanuck

It was a jam-packed weekend, full of adventure and energy, physical and emotional exhaustion set in and I got on the plane feeling strangely tired and elated at the same time. Mexico City, my dear D.F., estoy enamorada, encantada! Perhaps the shaman put a spell on me, or maybe it was just the magic of the city but I've left my heart in D.F. and I know that I will be back soon.

(for all my photos, check out my "Mexico City" Flickr set)


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Mexico Today Social Magazine wants YOU

"Mexico Today" launches an innovative social magazine on Facebook!

Many of you know that I am a part of the "Mexico Today" initiative from Marca Pais, a project aimed at promoting all the positive aspects of Mexico through real voices of people with a passion for the country. There are 24 of us lending our expertise and love through blog posts and social media efforts and now you can be a part of this too. The "Mexico Today Social Magazine" invites submissions from anyone with amor for Mexico, you can submit your blog posts or articles to be shared on Facebook and become a part of this great community. This means YOU, from all the ex-pat bloggers I know and love to travel writers to the kid down the street, share your voice! Here's the skinny....

"The newly launched Mexico Today Social Magazine on Facebook profiles stories and submissions from leading Mexico bloggers and influencers, including the 24 Mexico Today Ambassadors. 


This innovative tactic pushes the envelope of what is possible on Facebook, leveraging community participation from fans to produce a dynamic and evolving, socially-curated online publication. The intent is to create a grassroots movement by allowing submissions from those who are interested in Mexico’s culture, the Mexican economy, Mexico’s environment and more.

Help shape the conversation about today's Mexico. The Magazine accepts not only short links, but also longer blog posts. Submit your content today to enter a chance to win a $500 gift card."



What? $500 you say? Why yes! By simply adding your posts to the magazine you have a chance to win! Dig up your favourite posts about your neighbourhood, your favourite Mexico getaway or the taco stand down the street, all are welcome! Head over to the Mexico Today Facebook page and give them your "like", share your link and voila, easy peasy. 

As a social media junkie myself, the project is truly exciting. I invite you to like the "A Canuck in Cancun" Facebook page as well and become a part of my little corner of the network and follow me on Twitter (@cancuncanuck of course). For you Twitter lovers, use the hashtag "#mexicotoday" on your Mexico tweets and be sure to join us for the fast moving Twitter parties, we've got one coming up on Monday October 17th that is not to be missed! Get social, be a part of the community and let's have some fun!

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.

Disclosure: I am being compensated for my work in creating and managing content as a Contribtor for the México Today Program.All stories, opinions and passion for all things México shared here are completely my own.


Monday, October 10, 2011

Living in Mexico- 8 Year Mexiversary!

Cancun Canuck 2003

On a chilly, rainy day in October 2003, I nervously boarded a plane with a back pack and a rough travel plan, not really knowing what to expect when I reached Cozumel. I didn't even know much about my destination, it was chosen with a spin of the globe, eyes closed and a jab of my finger to determine where I was heading. All I knew was that I was on a journey to learn more about myself and the world, meet interesting people and have some fun.

Jumping for joy on Isla Blanca

Eight years later I look back on that day and giggle at myself, if only I had known what was going to come. I am pretty sure I would have packed better for one, moving to Mexico with nothing but a mochila is not something I would recommend for everyone. I've learned a lot in these eight years, about myself, about the world and of course, about Mexico. Here are some lists of eight I've created reflecting on my journey thus far.

Hanging with a whale shark

8 Best Mexican Adventures

- Swimming with whale sharks
- Visiting Chichen Itza
- Camping at Xpu Ha
- Staying at Casa de las Olas in Tulum
- Traveling to Oaxaca
- Discovering Isla Holbox
- Zip lining everywhere
- Snorkeling the Meso-American Reef

Scuba diving & getting some dolphin love

8 Favourite Spanish Slang Expressions

- Ni modo
- Chido
- No manches
- Pinche
- Mocos
- Chamaco
- Que onda?
- Guey

Wild ride in Oaxaca

8 Less Than Enjoyable Experiences

- the dreaded "aguas malas" (sea lice)
- being deported.....twice....
- banking
- stomach parasites and the yearly Vermox/Daxon cleanse
- tabano bites
- the yearly battle with immigration
- Hurricane Wilma
- the birth of my son (to be clear, yes, he is one of the BEST things to happen, but the actual birth event was like something out of an alien abduction movie, shudder....)

Desperately trying to grow gills

8 Things I Have Learned in Mexico

- The concept of "Mexican time"
- A pareo has a million uses
- Spanish
- Patience is more than a virtue, it is a necessity if you wish to accomplish anything in Mexico
- Family is EVERYTHING
- Don't eat ceviche served out of the trunk of a car
- How to swear in Maya
- How to grow gills (Ok, ok, this is just something I wish I could learn so I could live under the sea)


There are a plethora of other experiences and lessons, most of them residing in a private place in my heart. I am a better person today than I was on that cold, rainy day in 2003. Most of what I have learned is about myself and that journey of discovery is still in process. But by far the best thing to come of my Mexico adventure is my son Max. I would not be the person I am today without him and he would not be with me if I had not taken the plunge in moving to Mexico. I can't thing of a better souvenir from my "Mexico vacation" than my little MexiCanadian, glad I chose him over the "One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor" t-shirt.

D is for Dengue, Depression and Dread

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