Thursday, November 17, 2011

Best Riviera Maya Video Ever

Every morning I start the day checking the bazillion social network accounts I work with on Facebook, Twitter, and G+ in addition to my emails and Google Alerts. This morning I came across a video on one of my Riviera Maya pages that simply blew my mind. Not only is the video technically beautiful in gorgeous HD, but in a very eerie way it is an encapsulation of my life here in the Mexican Caribbean (and it was made by fellow Canadians). Every step the hosts took were on paths I have gone down before and plan to visit again. I have a friend coming down next week and the itinerary I have set out is pretty much exactly what is in this video, Tulum, Coba, eating in Playa, snorkeling, cenotes, it is spooky, this video seems to have covered my upcoming vacation in an extremely precise way, like they were reading my mind.

I feel as though I never have to write another email response to "What should we do in the Riviera Maya?", I can simply forward this video and say "Study this". If anyone asks me about safety in Mexico, I can simply share this link. Where to eat in Playa del Carmen? Watch the video. What is a cenote? Watch the video. What ruins should I see? Watch the video. What do you do living in Cancun? Watch the video.

The video is long, 45 minutes, but trust me when I say it is worth every single viewing second. If you want to know why I live here and what I do and what I the video.

Big thanks to Tripulu for creating such a beautiful masterpiece. Next time you guys come down here, look me up, I'd love to work with you! And hey, I feel like Steph is my soul sister, please send her my saludos.

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 Contributor for the México Today Program.All stories, opinions and passion for all things México shared here are completely my own

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Day of the Dead- Festival of Life and Death at Xcaret

"To the people of New York, Paris, or London, "death" is a word that is never pronounced because it burns the lips. The Mexican, however, frequents it, jokes about it, caresses it, sleeps with it, celebrates it; it is one of his favorite toys and most steadfast love. Of course, in his attitude perhaps there is as much fear as there is in one of the others; at least he does not hide it; he confronts it face to face with patience, disdain, or irony." -Octavio Paz, Mexican poet 1914-1998

"Dia de los Muertos" or "Day of the Dead", is a colourful celebration in many Latin American countries welcoming the souls of the dearly departed every year between October 31st and November 2nd. It's a blend of pre-Hispanic and Catholic traditions, incorporating indigenous culture and Christian beliefs in the afterlife. In Mexico it is a time for families to come together, share memories, laughs and good food and drink. Altars are built with offerings for the dead, with "Zempaxóchitl" flowers, candles, photos, tequila and other favourite items of the deceased. "Pan de muerto" ("bread of the dead") is shared with friends and hot chocolate is everywhere. Each region brings their own special flavours to the party, here in the Yucatan Peninsula the "mucbipollo" is prepared (like a large, delicious, scrumptious tamal) and the event is called "Hanal Pixan" in Maya.

While many of the ancient cities of Mexico lay claim to having the best "Day of the Dead" celebrations, here in Quintana Roo THE place to be is Xcaret Park for their annual "Festival de Vida y Muerte" or "Festival of Life and Death". Every year from October 31st to November 2nd, the park is transformed, candles and torches light up the paths, aromatic "copal" smoke permeates the breeze, stunning altars grace the grounds and music and dance performances create beautiful spectacle. Make-up booths are spread around the park, allowing guests to paint their faces like the traditional "calaveras" (painted skulls).  A children's pavilion invites kids to participate in workshops, creating jewelry or playing traditional games. Food stands serve tamales, mucbipollo, tortas de cochinita, hot chocolate and churros (the festival is worth the trip for the food alone!). 

Max and I attended the festival for the first time last year and had a grand time, we were excited to return to Xcaret this year. After seeing some gorgeous "calavera" faces during our first experience, I studied and practiced our make-up and I think we looked smashing (if I do say so myself). I got a lot of double-takes on the hour long drive and the cops at the check point had a good laugh at the painted skull driving down the highway. The event this year was completely sold out, sadly the park had to cancel two days of the event with Tropical Storm Rina playing a little havoc with our weather, so the place was packed when we arrived. Being "experienced" festival goers, we bought our souvenirs first and headed right to the kids' area to grab tickets for the popular workshops. Max made himself a lovely bracelet while I wandered taking photos and running into friends. We gorged ourselves on tamales and tortas, Max asked a GAZILLION questions and we wandered through the park checking out the altars and dancers and listening to music. A very pleasant evening, full of colour and laughs and learning (shhh, don't tell Max it was educational!!!) We'll be back next year (and again and again and again), it's certainly one of the finest events in the region and even worth a special trip during this important time of year. Xcaret is a class act and puts on a wonderful show, "Festival de Vida y Muerte" is an exceptional experience for the whole family.

For more photos, please check out this "Festival of Life and Death"set on the "Canuck in Cancun" Facebook page!

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

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Versatile Blogger Award- Aw, Shucks!

Cozumel photographers and bloggers Michael S. Lewis and Jennifer Homsher Lewis of Latin Journeys were kind enough to nominate me for a "Versatile Blogger Award". They are contributing photographers to National Geographic, be sure to visit their blog and check out their gorgeous images! Thanks so much guys, I'll need to take a trip over to my old hometown and buy you a drink or two in exchange.

Now, to keep playing along, I need to do two things, a) write seven things that you may not know about me and b) nominate other blogs for the award. Let's start with the secrets (that are not really secrets since I am about to announce them to you all).

1.  I hate onions. Despise them. Abhor them. One of the first things I learned to say in Spanish was "sin cebolla por favor" ("hold the onions PLEASE"). Except...I like onion rings. Go figure.

2.  I am Canadian but was born on the border with the US (my parents live in Windsor but my Daddy works in Detroit). It wasn't until I moved to Toronto for university that I discovered (by being mocked relentlessly) my American accent. I apparently kicked that accent in exchange for a very Canadian one if recent video proves correct. "Tooooo-nah". Of course, now I am told I speak "Bien Yuca" when speaking Spanish, so who knows what my accent really is.

3.  I once worked for IBM when I was young. No, not that IBM, the "International Brotherhood of Magicians" IBM. I rode in the back of a Ryder truck for endless hours on a road trip with illusion equipment and several rabbits and doves, to be cut in half and made to disappear while wearing a costume made for a girl much, much smaller than I. Good times.

4.  When I was in first grade I gave a speech for show and tell on how to make beer. My parents received several concerned phone calls. But it was their fault really, they took me on the brewery tour at Frankenmuth!

5.  I have a fascination with ghosts. Since I was a kid, I have been interested in the supernatural. When my family visited England when I was nine, I bought all the books I could find on hauntings in Britain and my parents were kind enough to indulge me in visiting many of the sites. Much to my disappointment, I saw nary a single floating head nor white mist, never mind a howling, bloody ghoul.

6.  I have a "thing" about long hair. It freaks me out. I don't like to touch it or really even be near it, though I swallow hard and suck it up, keeping my mouth shut when friends toss their locks about. I just can't help thinking about a fact I learned in science class that the only living part of hair is the follicle. So, those curls you are proud of are just dead things hanging out of your head. Shudder.

7.  I am adopted. When my parents told me (I was four, had been to church and learned the ten commandments. I came home and asked what "adultery" was and got the basic sex talk and the "you didn't come from mommy's tummy" news). My parents ALWAYS told me how special I was, how they picked me out to come live with them. For a long time I thought they got me at the Humane Society and picked me out of a cage like our dog.

And there you have it, seven random facts about Cancun Canuck. Now, on to the nominations...drum roll please....

The Mexile

Countdown to Mexico

Mexpatriate: In the Key of Steve

Motherhood in Mexico

Erica's Living in Mexico

Gringo in Paradise

Blah blah blah Ginger

Gringation's Blog

Ashlie's Cancun Blog

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...