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Archive for November, 2009

The other day I was looking at some of my photos and I came across the ones of our day spent swimming with the whale sharks. I decided to record my memories here about that day. We were invited by some friends ( Erika and Carlo) to go with some of our other friends (Lisa and Enrique) on a private tour since Carlo works in the tourist industry and he gets great deals-thanks Carlo! After picking up a couple of water proof cameras at Walmart we were ready to begin this fantastic adventure!

Whale Shark

Up close and personal

Whale sharks are not actually whales but the largest shark and fish weighing up to and more than 15 tons.They are harmless to humans and eat small fish  krill, plankton, and squid that they consume through their sieve like gills. They are  around Cancun between the months of June and September.

Whale Shark

Check out his gills

We arrived at the dock in Puerto Juarez around 8:00 am and set out in a speed boat with our friends, the captain and our guide. We headed past Isla Contoy which is about 1 hour and 15 minutes from Cancun and then our guide started looking for one of these massive creatures so that we could swim with them. Quite quickly our guide located a few whale sharks swimming close by so we proceeded to put on our fins, mask and snorkel. Only two people plus the guide can get in at a time to swim and you must not touch these awesome creatures so as not to disturb them too much. You must also hit the water swimming so to speak.Though they are not very fast swimmers it is very easy to fall behind and get caught up in the swoosh of their tails and it is then impossible to catch them up again.When it was my turn with Cesar , I dove off the boat and I was off— swimming full tilt toward the whale shark with my underwater camera in one hand wrapped around my wrist kicking furiously so that I wouldn’t get left behind. All of a sudden I was side by side, eye to eye with this amazing creature of the sea! It was incredible!! I frantically wound my underwater camera so that i could snap a shot which is no easy feat as remember you have to keep SWIMMING. I thrust it out to the side of me and hoped for the best as you can’t put it in front of your mask and eyes to get the perfect shot 🙂 I then kept swimming and just felt this incredible closeness between him as we connected with each other with our eyes. I finally couldn’t keep the pace up anymore and I stopped as he kept going and left me behind. I swam back to the boat exhausted but exhilarated by the whole experience! Our friends went next while I recovered my breath again.  Then it was my turn again–yipppeee! I once again hit the water swimming this time all of a sudden I found myself above the whale shark looking down at him and I quickly swam to the left so that I would be at his side when he decided to surface; however, when he did surface we almost touched so I swam even more to the left though the urge to reach out and touch this creature was immense! I kept swimming alongside him  until once again I was exhausted.

On the reef near Isla Contoy

Snorkelling

Coral

Coral

After we had all had a few swims we set off  towards Isla Contoy again and settled near a reef to do some snorkelling. I managed to get some great shots as it was a lot easier when you aren’t swimming full tilt alongside your target. Once we were done the captain and the guide gave us some yummy ceviche and beer or soft drinks. We were starving. We ate our fill and enjoyed the boat trip back to Cancun. It had been a truly wonderful day and I will never forget our experience. We plan to do it again next year!

Cesar snorkelling

Cesar snorkelling

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As I mentioned in my previous blog after our day at Playa del Carmen we decided to go to El D’Pa Bistro in Parque de las Palapas.Here is their  link for more information www.eldpa.com/about   They have been around for several years and my husband and I have always enjoyed going there for a glass of wine (me) a beer (him) and escargots. There aren’t many places in Cancun  that you can find escargots so this makes D’Pa a great place to go if you enjoy the “mighty snail”. They are also quite well-known for their crepes and beef bourginon and other french dishes. We always like to sit outdoors on the patio but they also have a lovely large indoor seating area with an upstairs area as well.

El D'Pa Bistro

El D'Pa Bistro

They often have live music later at night but by that time we have usually moved on to another place. On Saturday we went with my Mom and we were expecting some more of our friends to show up but they didn’t-such is the way of Cancun! We ordered two dozen escargots with lots of bread to sop up the butter, parsley, garlic jus and wine and beer to wash it  all down-not a calorie-wise meal at all but as always it was DELICIOUS!! 🙂 Once we realized that no one else was coming we ordered another round of drinks-this time I had a lychee martini (they have a varied list of exotic martinis) and we simply enjoyed our own company as we watched all the cars frantically trying to find a place to park .

Parque de las palapas is always a zoo on Fridays, Saturdays and especially on Sundays as families flock to the “park” (which really isn’t a park per se but more a gathering place made of concrete and palapas).http://www.cancun.com/Editorial/Parque-de-las-Palapas/ to listen to music, eat hot corn on the cob slathered in mayonnaise, cream, chili powder, and cheese or eat quesadillas hot off the grill, or to buy arts and crafts or simply to hang out with your boyfriend (there are never any shortages of young couples making out on the benches 🙂 )

After a few  hours at D’Pa we decided to call it a night and head home. It had been a long but great day out to Playa del Carmen and Cancun. We finished our weekend off on Sunday watching part 2 and 3 of The Pirates of the Caribbean ( I just love Jack Sparrow!) and generally relaxed. Now, I must think of something fun to do this coming weekend! 🙂

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As I mentioned in my previous blog after our day at Playa del Carmen we decided to go to El D’Pa Bistro in Parque de las Palapas.Here is their  link for more information www.eldpa.com/about   They have been around for several years and my husband and I have always enjoyed going there for a glass of wine (me) a beer (him) and escargots. There aren’t many places in Cancun  that you can find escargots so this makes D’Pa a great place to go if you enjoy the “mighty snail”. They are also quite well-known for their crepes and beef bourginon and other french dishes. We always like to sit outdoors on the patio but they also have a lovely large indoor seating area with an upstairs area as well.

El D'Pa Bistro

El D'Pa Bistro

They often have live music later at night but by that time we have usually moved on to another place. On Saturday we went with my Mom and we were expecting some more of our friends to show up but they didn’t-such is the way of Cancun! We ordered two dozen escargots with lots of bread to sop up the butter, parsley, garlic jus and wine and beer to wash it  all down-not a calorie-wise meal at all but as always it was DELICIOUS!! 🙂 Once we realized that no one else was coming we ordered another round of drinks-this time I had a lychee martini (they have a varied list of exotic martinis) and we simply enjoyed our own company as we watched all the cars frantically trying to find a place to park .

Parque de las palapas is always a zoo on Fridays, Saturdays and especially on Sundays as families flock to the “park” (which really isn’t a park per se but more a gathering place made of concrete and palapas).http://www.cancun.com/Editorial/Parque-de-las-Palapas/ to listen to music, eat hot corn on the cob slathered in mayonnaise, cream, chili powder, and cheese or eat quesadillas hot off the grill, or to buy arts and crafts or simply to hang out with your boyfriend (there are never any shortages of young couples making out on the benches 🙂 )

After a few  hours at D’Pa we decided to call it a night and head home. It had been a long but great day out to Playa del Carmen and Cancun. We finished our weekend off on Sunday watching part 2 and 3 of The Pirates of the Caribbean ( I just love Jack Sparrow!) and generally relaxed. Now, I must think of something fun to do this coming weekend! 🙂

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On Saturday my husband Cesar and my Mom and I decided to go to Playa del Carmen for the day for lunch and to walk around on the 5th avenue. We set out at 11.30 am and made the 45 minute trip down to Playa. Once we found parking we set out along the quinta avenida (5th ave. ) for a pre-lunch stroll to check out all the new stores and restaurants as it had been about 6 months since my last visit there. I am always surprised by all the new buildings going up. We saw some new condos and eateries as well as new stores. They all looked very modern. We also noticed lots of new gelato places. You can’t walk very far without passing one.

I am always amazed at how much Playa del Carmen has grown since 1995 when I moved to Cancun. The highway to get to Playa now has 2-3 lanes on each side not like it used to be when each side only hade one lane and there wasn’t a shoulder so driving was always nerve-wracking especially at night as cars were constantly trying to pass each other whether it was safe to do so or not. Playa itself has also grown so much and seems to continually spread out. I remember for years that there weren’t any fast food  chain restaurants permitted and the 5th ave. was less than half the length that it is today.Many of the businesses have changed but there are still many that have been there for years and will probably be there for years to come which is no easy feat in Playa’s ever-changing tourist scene.

I have always loved Playa though I wouldn’t want to live there as it is too small for me but I do enjoy visiting and we often spend the night there in a hotel and go out dancing. They have a great choice of places to eat and lots of really cool bars that have outdoor seating so that you can watch the world go by. We decided to eat in one of our favourite bar/restaurants on Saturday. The Tequila Barrel http://www.tequilabarrel.com/ has been around for several years now and at night they have live music. The outdoor tables are made out of barrels and they have comfy seats and a fairly diverse bar menu for food and drinks. We chose the lunch special for 110 pesos (around 10 CDN) which was a cheeseburger, fries and 2 beers.

Tequila Barrell

Tequila Barrel

After lunch we headed down the quinta avenida again towards Paseos Playa del Carmen (an outdoor plaza) passing more gelato places. We checked out some new stores and then decided to stop at La Bodeguita en Medio http://www.labodeguitadelmedio.com.mx/ which is a cuban restaurant-bar. It is based on the original place in Cuba that was started in 1942 in an old Bodega where it became rather famous. People like Erroll Flynn, Lou Costello and Ernest Hemingway have visited there in the past. I too have also visited La Bodeguita in Cuba many years ago and we had a Mojito and wrote on the wall which is the custom to leave your name on your first visit. La Bodeguita in Playa has continued the tradition of graffiti on the walls so on this visit my Mom, Cesar and I also left our mark while we enjoyed a Mojito.

 

Mojito

mojitos are made with mint, rum, powdered sugar, lime, and club soda.

We added our names

When the mosquitoes started biting we paid our bill and made our way back to the parking lot but not before we succumbed to a mandarin flavoured gelato en route 🙂 It had been a great day and it wasn’t over yet. We arrived home and rested for awhile and then headed off to el D’ Pa  Bistro but I will save that blog for tomorrow.

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I grew up eating Marmite which is made from yeast and vegetable extract and hails from England. It is a gooey dark brown almost black paste that has an intense salty, savoury flavour to it. You either love it or hate it (which is the marketing slogan). and most of my friends do indeed hate it as they didn’t grow up eating it. It is great spread on toast especially if you add cheese. Most people only spread a thin layer on as it is quite powerful stuff but my cousin Graeme and I lay it on thick-as we always say “the thicker the better”. You can also add it to hot water to make a nice cup of broth, or to some of your recipes that call for an asian flavour as it has a somewhat comparable flavour to soy sauce. It is suitable for vegans and vegetarians (which I am not) as a great substitute for bovril.It comes in a glass jar either small or large and now comes in a plastic squeeze bottle–a great idea. I was recently given a squeeze bottle from my friend Maxine when she got back from England-thanks Max!

Marmite

Marmite glass and squeeze bottles with the new Marmite Cheddar Bites and Piccalilli

Marmite is available in many countries and I used to be able to buy it in Canada when I lived there though it was much more expensive than in England. Unfortunately it is not found here in Mexico which means I now have to stock pile it or rely on friends and family who visit England to bring me a jar back. My mom recently came to Cancun and she brought with her a new Marmite product called Marmite Cheese Bites I have one word to describe this little piece  of heaven YUMMY. It is cheddar cheese infused with Marmite and encased in black wax.We are eating it slowly bit by bit to prolong our pleasure.

 When I decided to write this post I was curious to see what results would come back from googling Marmite and I was pleasantly surprised by 566,000 results. I also checked out their website and discovered some more new products like Marmite bread sticks, Marmite rice cakes, Marmite crisps and Marmite cashews. What is a girl to do with all these new Marmite inspired goodies and nowhere to buy them? I don’t think they even have them in Canada yet. Has anyone seen them and if so where? 🙂

I must of course mention Marmite’s inferior knock off called Vegemite that  hails from Australia and it too has vegetable extract as well as yeast extract. It is much weaker than Marmite and has had Brits and Aussies debating which one is better for years and years. My Aussie friend and I have had many heated debates over wine as to which one is superior …which of course is Marmite 🙂

I could go on and on raving about this elixir from the gods but I am afraid that until you try it out you just can’t truly understand what Marmite is all about besides I am hungry now and I think I will make myself a cheese and Marmite sandwich with Piccalilli – another great British product but I will save that for another post. 🙂

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Halloween In Cancun!

Another Halloween has come and gone. 😦  Halloween has always been one of my favourite holidays ever since I was a young girl and not because of the candy as I really don’t have a sweet tooth but I do LOVE dressing up!  Through the years I have been a gypsy, a vampire, Frankenstein’s bride, fire, the ocean, half man-half woman, a leopard, a cat and the list goes on. This year I decided to be a witch again.

Cesar carving his pumpkin

Cesar carving

My husband and I decided to throw a big Halloween bash that took all of last week to plan, organize and decorate. We made creepy Halloween food like guacamole in a brain, 7 layer spider dip, a skeleton veggie dip, and my favourite a skull meat-head LOL. We had felt bats that we made stuck strategically all over the house, a ghost hanging from the ceiling, a head hanging from the ceiling, cobwebs with spiders, carved pumpkins, Halloween music, candy for our guests, ambient lighting and lots of other decorations. We organized a Halloween game and had a best pumpkin and best costume prize and certificate.My husband dressed up as a pirate and my friends were fairly creative this year as well.

My grim reaper pumpkin

My grim reaper pumpkin

Halloween is relatively new to Mexico as they celebrate The Day of The Dead on November 3rd which focuses on getting together with family and remembering the dead; however, some children do dress up now but trick -or-treating isn’t very common. Oh how I miss the trick-or-treaters in Canada!!

 

Our ghoulish Halloween food

Our ghoulish Halloween food

Last year my husband and I went to New Orleans for Halloween. Now, THEY know how to celebrate Halloween!! I recommend that everyone at sometime in their life should make a point of going there.

N'awlins

My costume last year in N'awlins

All in all a great time was had by all! Now the decorations are back in storage for another year and I am already thinking, organizing and planning for Christmas………. 🙂

Some of the gang

Some of the gang

 

Lisa, Erika, Me, and Lis

Lisa, Erika, Me and Lis

 

 

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