Wednesday, December 5, 2018

End of Year Review of Adventures

Ahh, 2018, thanks so much for the memories!
Sweating my way through Tulum

I'm a super lucky lady to live in Cancun and this year was blessed with many adventures! In my work as a content creator and writer, I am frequently "required" to play tourist and go on excursions to take photos and video and provide feedback to the tour operators. (I know, poor me, right?) Sometimes the tours are awesome and extraordinary and other times.....meh. Not "bad' just not up to snuff compared to other providers of the same tour.

There are a few tours that really stood out for me this year and they were all provided courtesy by Translamex. The "house tours", operated by Translamex are all TOP NOTCH, reliable transportation, expert guides, good logistics (this is far more important and complicated than most tourists realize) and I know I can count on quality food and beverage. Of course the attractions themselves are bomb, but it's easier than you think to mess up even a simple tour to Tulum. and Translamex do it right, every time!

4 x 1 Tulum, Coba, Cenote and Playa del Carmen

This is an intense day, LOTS to see and do but so worth it for the price! I've visited all of these places multiple times but the Translamex guides always find something new to teach me (Chito is my fave, he has oodles of fascinating tidbits about the ancient Maya). Trying to do all these activities in one day on your own would be pretty complicated for new visitors but has done a bang up job of finding a way to make the day flow seamlessly.

Crazy hair at Coba's Nohoch Mul pyramid

Favourite part: Climbing the Nohoch Mul pyramid

Chichen Itza Tour from Cancun

It's almost embarrassing to put Chichen on the list, it's a "no brainer" for first time visitors and the Mayan ruins that EVERYONE knows about, nothing hidden or secret about it. EVERY Cancun travel agency has a Chichen Itza excursion and they are all just a little bit different, from the friendliness and knowledge of the guides to the quality of the food served. I hate to say it but I have had some BAAAAAAD tours from other operators, but going with Translamex is a guaranteed good time.

Playing with angles at Chichen Itza

Favourite part: LUNCH! Seriously, Chichen Itza is astounding and beautiful and meaningful, but the Yucatecan buffet lunch is da bomb! Translamex nails it with totally tasty grub.

El Cielo Cozumel

I confess, this year was the first time I was able to visit El Cielo in Cozumel! "Coz", as it's affectionately known locally, was my first home in Mexico but El Cielo was always just out of my reach. In 2018 I finally got to  explore this hidden piece of "heaven" ("el cielo" can mean "heaven" or "sky") with In fact, I liked it so much that I did it TWICE this year! Obviously I am a snorkeling fanatic, anything in the ocean makes me SMILE!

Ready for El Cielo with my  bestie Andie

Favourite part: Getting up close (but NO TOUCHY) to a bunch of starfish, super cool!

I have had a terrific 2018, these three tours are just a small taste of the adventures I've had! My wish for you all is to have a 2019 full of travel, adrenaline and love! What's on your bucket list for the new year?

-- These Cancun tours were provided by by Translamex but the opinions are my own.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Rio Secreto Cancun WILD!

Why I Think "Rio Secreto Wild" is the Very Best Tour in the Riviera Maya Ever

Sooo, I love my job. Like, REALLY love my job, I "have to" do all the tours in Cancun and the Riviera Maya, take photos and videos and write about the experience. I mean, come on, how lucky am I? There are moments where I find myself saying "Ugh, really, I have to go to Chichen Itza AGAIN?" but I give my head a good shake and remember that it is a dream job that many would kill for, regardless of how many times I have ridden the bus to Chichen (I've lost count but it's somewhere around 15).

Then there are the moments that are truly extraordinary. I've experienced a few tours in their "pilot" phase, with tour operators working out the kinks before bringing tourists on board. A Cancun tour guinea pig if you will. In April I was invited to be one of the first to visit a new cave system being explored by Rio Secreto and provide feedback about my experience. And I was KNOCKED OUT completely. We were invited again this past weekend and now I feel compelled to share the magic with you all (as much as I would like to have a secret happy place, I'm going to let you all in on it!)

I've been a fan of Rio Secreto for a long time, since our first visit back in 2009 when Max was just a wee explorer! I thought I knew what to expect at Rio Secreto Wild but OH was I wrong. The original Rio Secreto tour is spectacular but dude, Rio Secreto Wild? A truly unique expedition to another world and by far the most natural and awe-inspiring experience I've had in Mexico. Ever. And that's saying a lot!


Max in Rio Secreto 2009
Max Rio Secreto Wild 2018
Breaking it down to the basics, it seems like just another Riviera Maya tour, a visit to a cave, a cenote and a walk in the jungle. So what makes Rio Secreto Wild so very different? NATURE. Real, live, untouched, unaltered, no dynamite, no cement, authentic nature. You won't find handrails or emergency exits here, you are on a REAL jungle expedition. The only light comes from your helmet and your flashlight, there are no spotlights strung up nor signs pointing the way, you follow the guide, a thin line of string and the green ribbons that mark the newly explored path. Less than 50 people have ever seen these caves, no Maya Disneyland here!

This is definitely not a tour for everyone. Physical fitness and agility are important, you'll be biking, walking, crawling and swimming for about 11 kms in 6 hours. And you'll be carrying your backpack with gear, water and lunch, no jungle butlers dahlinks! It's tiring and there were points I thought I might drop in the heat, but with each step forward a new marvel was revealed and I was compelled to keep on rocking.

Bacon speleoothem

To be perfectly frank, I have decided to change the name of the tour to "Holy F$% OMG" because those words came out of my mouth every ten seconds as we got deeper and deeper into the cave system. The stalactites, stalagmites, and speleothems (my fave is the 'bacon' curtain speleothem because mmm, everything's better with bacon) create nature's art gallery. Soaring cathedral-like caves found by crawling through tiny entrances in the limestone will take your breath away. Massive collapses of limestone that allow the jungle and sunshine to break through to the underworld create incredible natural sculptures.

There are ancient Maya relics found throughout the caves, "metates", the remains of cave dwellings and altars to the gods. Bats swoop overhead, snakes slither and spiders build their webs, and the catfish swim around your feet. The song of the mot mot bird echoes throughout the caves, a hypnotic sound that now soothes me to sleep at night and is the soundtrack to my sweetest dreams.

Rio Secreto Wild is an experience that will stick with me forever. I've been thinking about it daily since my first visit, it has had a profound effect on me. Walking on ground that has been seen by so few, untouched and unaltered, permanent and yet constantly changing, slowly over millennia for the caves, rapidly in the case of the jungle flora. Being in the caves has given me a sense of peace and a great perspective on my place in the universe. I am but a blip, but even a single touch of my fingers can alter the growth of a thousand year old stalactite. We are small and our time on earth is short (compared to a cave of course) and yet, we have the power to make great change in the world. Our actions affect all those around us and we must tread carefully in order to bring POSITIVE change. Like a fingertip on a stalactite, our words and actions can halt the growth of the people around us or we can use our power for good!

So there you go, that's why I think Rio Secreto Wild is the very best tour ever in the Riviera Maya. Push your limits and do something magnificent and life-changing on your next Cancun vacation!

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...