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Archive for April, 2010

Last Thursday hubby invited me out for dinner and as we love to try new places we decided to make it even more fun and go to two places that we haven’t been to yet.Cesar loves seafood so we started off at this little place in front of Plaza de Toros (the bullring) called La Playa (The Beach). They always seem to have a lot of people so we figured the food must be good and the prices too.We were not disappointed. We ordered some beers and perused their extensive menu.We decided on tostadas de caracol which is basically a crispy tortilla with seasoned conch, slices of tomato, red onion and cilantro on top. They were HUGE , delicious and very reasonably priced–40 pesos each (less than $4). Once we had finished we paid our bill and decided to move on. We must definitely go back another day. The only downside to the place is that it is located on the corner of Bonampak and Labna so if there is any wind, which there was that day,it whips around and can make eating a tad difficult unless you sit inside.

Tostada de Caracol

La Playa Restaurant

Next stop El Pescado Ciego (The Blind Fish) located on Nader avenue and next to their sister restaurant El Tigre de Toro.A fairly small restaurant with a nice sitting area outside and an impressive menu with surprisingly reasonable prices. We started off with some small servings of shrimp broth (on the house) and then stone crab claws for 150 pesos (less than $15)….absolutely divine! Then we ordered oysters on the half shell mixed with 3 types of cheese and spinach for about 80 pesos (less than $8)…also very good. Unfortunately we were full after that so we couldn’t try their live chocolate clams or other enticing dishes. WE WILL BE BACK!

Crab claws

We paid our bill and left a generous tip as our waiter Jesus had done a great job and had made our experience there even better. After taking a quick photo of the inside of the restaurant we were off just in time since the mosquitos started biting us with a vengeance. If you are visiting Cancun or live here be sure to check out these two places and recommend them to your friends.

Oysters

Inside El pescado ciego

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The last stop on our amazing Easter Yucatan Adventure took us to the cenote Il Kil. After checking out of our hotel we crossed the street and parked in the cenote’s lot just as two very large tour buses pulled in and a huge group of tourists descended from the buses, cameras in hand, rushing towards the very same entrance gate that we were heading to. We all handed our tickets in and were guided through the souvenir store en route to the cenote where luckily we lost about half of the people from the buses as they were waylaid by sales people trying to peddle ornaments, blankets and other keepsakes.We hurried along trying to lose the herd but quickly realized that the cenote was already full of people who had arrived on earlier buses.

Cenote Il Kil from above

As we approached the steps leading down to Il Kil we stopped and first admired the view from above speechless. I had looked at videos on You Tube of Il Kil before we had decided to go but they couldn’t even begin to compare to the sight before us. The crystal blue water, surrounded by vegetation was truly beautiful. We made our way down the steps until we arrived at the cenote’s edge where we joined a crowd of shouting, pushy people. We stowed our belongings and dove into the cool water. Hubby felt cold after a while and wanted to dry off  but I wasn’t ready to leave yet.

Me, floating after everyone had left

As I floated on my back I suddenly became aware of a silence that enveloped the underground cavern. I looked around and to my delight realized that the majority of people had left. I imagine that they were called away to continue on their tour. I relished the silence and swam under the small water falls letting the water crash down over my face. As I surveyed the area around me I couldn’t imagine a more beautiful place, so serene and lush with vegetation and natural beauty.

Loganiza appetizer

Finally, I made my way to the steps to get out leaving behind me a profound sense of peace that I had experienced while swimming in the deep clear water of Il Kil. We made our way to the parking lot and decided to stop for something to eat before heading back to Cancun. We came across a great little restaurant and ordered some local favourites. We started off with Loganiza ( seasoned pork meat sausage) with pickled red onion and then I had salpicon, (shredded deer meat with radishes, cucumber and seasonings) and Cesar had pork leg seasoned with achiote paste (annatto) and sour orange. The food was amazing!!! I only wish I could remember the name in order to recommend them. The restaurant was clean and the waiter was very friendly.It was the best meal of our trip.

Salpicon de venado

We headed for home feeling refreshed and relaxed and the topic of conversation on our drive back? Where should we go next?

Pork leg Yucatan-style

Here is a link to a short video that we took while we were away http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pokOWLwbFp4

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 Continuing on describing our Easter Yucatan Adventure I will pick up where I left off which was when we discovered Hacienda Tepich after visiting the cenotes at Cuzama. Thirsty and hungry we were thrilled to find this beautiful old hacienda off the beaten track. We climbed the steps and marvelled at the beautiful stone-work and orange and yellow painted  walls as we entered a small room set aside for a restaurant. We ordered some cold beers and tried to make a decision about what to eat. Their speciality was rabbit and there was rabbit pate, rabbit stew in pipian sauce and many other variations of Thumper but I decided to order pavo en escabeche which loosely translates to turkey in a pickled sauce…it tastes a lot better than it sounds. Cesar chose the pork in pipian sauce which is made from pumpkin or squash seeds that have been roasted and ground up and combined with several spices. It has a fiery, nutty taste.

 

Hacienda Tepich

After we had finished our meal we stepped outside to admire the view and we were fortunate to run into the hacienda’s current owner, Sr. Vargas Mendez ,who proudly explained to us that Hacienda Tepich was originally built in1749 and that he had owned it for the last 20 years. He pointed out the gardens that had bitter lemon, lemon trees, and bitter orange trees along with many other plants, bushes and flowers. It was all very beautiful and I felt transported back in time as I imagined how the hacienda had been in its heyday. As Sr. Vargas  pointed out the wooden beams and other areas he explained to us that most of the hacienda’s current structure is as it was since 1749. For years he has worked to try to keep up Hacienda Tepich as it once was many years ago.We took a several pictures and thanked our host and set off towards Chichen.

Lemon tree

We had a booked a night inthe Hotel Dolores de Alba in Chichen Itza http://www.doloresalba.com/indexmain.htm#chtza for about $60 CDN and when we arrived at Chichen I was surprised at how much the town had grown since I had last visited ,which was many years ago, when I took my Dad to see the ruins. We checked in to our clean, simple rooms and had dinner…nothing special and very over priced. After dinner we sat by one of the two swimming pools that they have to relax after a long day. Now, I must mention their pools. One of them is your basic everyday pool but the other is really quite amazing.It is an ecological pool that has been made utilizing  a natural reef from millions of years ago. There are holes and tunnels and it is filled with natural water. At night the lights give off the illusion that you are staring at the moon’s surface. I just had to get in! I swamaround passing my hands over the reef’s surface and marvelling at nature’s wonders.

Entrance at Hacienda Tepich

After drying off it was time for bed and we drifted off into a deep sleep the kind that you experience after being outside all day. In the morning we had another unforgettable meal at the hotel and after checking out we headed to Cenote Il Kil, our last stop on our cenote tour.I will stop here and finish our Yucatan Easter Adventure in my next blog. I would like to say thank you to all of you have been reading along and commenting and sharing this great experience with me.

Ecological Pool

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Now, I know that I was supposed to pick up where I left off describing our Easter Yucatan Adventure and talk about the Hacienda Tepich but I feel compelled to rant  as hubby is tired of hearing me curse and generally bitch about our current situation. What situation is that you may ask? Rain, rain and the leaks that go along with it!!!!  It all started Tuesday afternoon when the heavens opened up and dumped an ungodly amount of water on Cancun. It didn’t just rain it poured and it hasn’t stopped since then. Anyone who has ever been to Cancun knows that rain and Cancun do NOT mix. The drains quickly fill up and the streets become flooded and cars are abandoned as brakes fail and engines come to a screeching halt. Garbage bins float down the street and people wade through the water trying to get to their destinations hoping that a taxi or truck doesn’t soak them as they plough through the water.

You may be thinking to yourself what is she going on and on about 2 days of rain is nothing? Hey, I agree with you I am originally from Vancouver..I know what rain is…rain in Vancouver can last for 30 days…that is one of the reasons I left  but there is rain and there is RAIN.Tropical rain is a whole other ball game. It is torrential rain that usually strikes quickly and then ends but when it doesn’t stop that is when we get into trouble.

Many of my friends have often joked that I must be cursed as since moving to Cancun in 1995 every single house/apartment I have ever lived in leaks!!! Some worse than others like my last place my friend Lisa and I would have to literally bail out our apartment with buckets and stay up all night otherwise our furniture would float away.Not fun! I now live somewhere else and we own our apartment and I was promised that this place was leak free…a huge selling point for me.But no… alas it is not leak free! Fortunately for Cesar and I when hurricane Wilma hit in 2005  we were in Thailand on our honeymoon so we missed out on all the incessant rain which was described by my friend Polo, who was living with us at the time, as “it was like a fire truck was parked outside and had turned on their hose at full blast and directed it at your bodega window”. Imagine that I had a swimming pool right in my house and that was not the only water problem to say the least.

My upstairs balcony..now a wading pool

Years later and after thousands of pesos spent and almost as many promises made by various workmen we are still plagued by leaks!! 😦 Luckily we don’t often see so many days of torrential rainfall but right now the weather is grim.Thank goodness we order a lot of Hong Kong  Restaurant takeout as they have provided us with lots of plastic containers to place strategically around our top floor apartment to catch all the drips. The weather forecast for the next 10 days is more rain hopefully lighter rainfall. After that we will once again go up to the roof and also check the outside walls and try to “find” all the sources for the leaks and pay new workmen  but for now I will just have to cope with wet, dripping walls, light sockets that are leaking water and all the other leaking spots. Answer me this why can’t they build leak free homes in Cancun? What is with the contractors here?

My street before it flooded

Anyway, I am off for dinner with hubby and my Mom, who by the way, has her own leakage problems in her vacation home here in Cancun. I think I deserve a nice glass of wine or better yet a goblet full and a break from mopping. My next blog will be about Hacienda Tepich.

Check out the cars and the waves

Share your apartment/weather gripes here….It really is therapeutic.

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Continuing on from my last blog entry chronicling our trip to visit several cenotes in the Yucatan over Easter break  I will pick up where I left off. We made our way along the path to a wooden staircase leading down to the first cenote, Chelentun,where we were greeted by a huge group of people all toting their cameras and swim gear. Once down the stairs I peeled off my clothing and amidst flashing cameras I dove into the cool crystal blue water.There was a beam of sunlight shining down from an opening above which lit the cavern up and enabled you to see the bottom though the cenote was quite deep. There were stalactites hanging down from above which added to the beauty of this natural wonder.

Bolonchojool

After swimming for our alloted 30 minutes we took a few pictures and returned to our cart.On our way to our next destination we had a bit of excitement as our cart derailed and Luis and Jose quickly mounted the cart once again onto the tracks and we were off again!. We arrived at Bolonchojool unscathed and Luis told us that this particular cenote was a favourite among visitors to Cuzama. We walked to the cenote’s entrance which consisted of a small hole reminiscent of Alice and Wonderland’s rabbit hole. It had a makeshift wooden ladder burrowing deep into the earth. There were people trying to go up and down it at the same time even though there was room for only one person at a time…you gotta love Mexico! I gingerly made my way down encountering steps that creaked and buckled under my weight—eeek!Once I arrived ,again there was a large group of people but I easily ignored them as I was captivated by Bolochojool’s incredible beauty. Amidst stalactites and beams of natural light I again stripped down and swam lost in the purity of this underground world.

Going down the ladder at Bolonchojool

Our last stop on this incredible tour was centote Chak-Zinik-Che. Another beautiful spot where once again we swam and snapped a few photos. Then it was time to board our cart for the trip back which involved stopping the cart and taking it off the tracks when 2 or more other carts came our way as there were only one set of tracks going to each cenote. I was amazed at how efficient our guides were and we were quite amused by the whole experience. As the other carts sped past the Pony Express came to mind. Once we arrived at the entrance I took an apple out of my bag and offered it to Pirata who sniffed it and turned his nose up at it!! My family has a guest ranch and I have never seen a horse who didn’t love a fresh green apple. I tried giving it to one of the other horses and they too declined.Jose told me that they didn’t like apples…I imagine that they have never been offered one before that day.

Chak-Zinik-Che cenote

We thanked our guides and made our way to our truck it had been a truly amazing experience.We were hungry and thirsty so decided to look for a place to stop before driving on to Chichen. We came across a sign for a place called Hacienda Tepich. We followed the signs and were quite surprised when we arrived at an actual Hacienda. I will leave that for another day and another blog.I hope that you have enyoyed reading about our Easter Yucatan Adventure so far.I would love to hear your thoughts.

Pony Express

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As I mentioned in my previous blog my husband and I decided to get out of Cancun on Sunday and visit a few cenotes in the Yucatan. There are many cenotes scattered all over the Yucatan and Quintana Roo and gradually through the years we are getting to know them all. We had originally planned to leave Cancun Sunday morning and go to Chichen Itza to visit Il Kil cenote then spend the night in Chichen and on Monday visit Cuzama and then make the long drive home. Hubby wisely suggested that we visit Cuzama first and then drive to Chichen and spend the night and then go to Il Kil the next day.

We wanted to get an early start so we planned to be on the road by 6am and we made a quick pit stop at McDonald’s and had breakfast on the road…not a very healthy way to start the day, I know, but it was convenient. We turned on the radio and much to our dismay heard that it was actually 7am and not 6am as the clocks had gone forward 1 hour and we had forgotten–damn…one hour lost. We had anticipated a 4-4.5 hour drive to Cuzama  but we were pleasantly surprised to arrive after only 3.5 hours; however, I was none too pleased that we had already spent about $40 CDN on toll highways and consumed 1 tank of gas!

Hubby enjoying a sausage McMuffin and egg

We passed through a town called Acanceh on our way to Cuzama  hubby and I were quite amused to see  their “taxis” which were small motorcycles attached at the back to a box like structure with a seat. It reminded me of the “tuk -tuks” in Thailand except the motorcycles are in front and the ones in Acenceh were much more  primitive. http://www.into-asia.com/Bangkok/tuktuk/ Hubby was using our Flip recorder to catch all of the sights as we slowly made our way through town to Cuzama.

Once we arrived we were greeted by a gentleman who explained to us what to expect on out visit. Normally the tour of the 3 cenotes takes 2.5 hours but because there were so many people due to Semana Santa they had extended it to 3 hours. The cost was 200 pesos (about $17 )  for our guided tour on a horse-drawn cart along an old railway track. Our guide, Luis Antonio, and our “driver” Jose ushered us onto our cart to begin our journey with our horse Pirata (Pirate) leading the way. I asked Luis about the railway tracks and he informed me with a nostalgic look that when he was a young boy his father and his father’s friends used to cultivate “milpa” corn and they put the crude railway tracks down to move the corn from the fields into town. After many years of almost drought like conditions they were forced to seek work in Merida to support their families and they had to give up their families’ business. Now many years later the tracks have been repaired and the carts have been adapted in order to carry both national and foreign tourists to enjoy the natural wonders of that area.

Luis and our cart minus Jose and Pirata

We arrived at our first cenote Chelentun after a rocky ride along the tracks that involved Luis stamping his foot down along the cart at every turn to keep us on the tracks…imagine Fred Flintstone driving techniques. Luis told us we had 30 minutes to explore. We excitedly left the cart and made our way along the path to the cenote.On that note I will end this blog and continue it on another day soon.

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Everybody shout “ROAD TRIP!!!”  Semana Santa (Holy Week) is upon us again and is probably one of the most important Catholic holidays next to Christmas that is celebrated in Mexico and other Latin countries. It starts March 31st and ends April 4th. Neither myself or my husband are Catholic but my hubby gets to enjoy several days off due to this holiday and I get a long weekend. YEAH! As Mexican nationals descend upon Cancun from various places across the country as well as the usual Spring Breakers from the States and Canada we have decided that it is time to get out of dodge at least for two days.Our destination…the Yucatan Peninsula to visit various cenotes. If you don’t know what a cenote is  click here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cenote

I often write about and review restaurants in Cancun as my hubby and I are true foodies at heart; however, we also love the outdoors. I grew up in Vancouver and I remember many lazy days spent at the beach or tubing down the river and of course camping along lakes. Mind you, now when I visit Vancouver I can’t believe I ever swam in these places as they seem so cold now after being here for 15 years. I am particularly fond of fresh water so I always enjoy visiting one of the many cenotes in Quintana Roo or the Yucatan Peninsula. This year as money is somewhat tight  (as anyone living in Cancun can attest to 🙂 ) we made a last-minute decision to go away for the night on Sunday with a friend.

We will be heading out early Sunday morning to Chichen Itza (about 2.5 hours from Cancun) but not to visit the ruins as we have all seen them may times before but to spend the day at the cenote Il Kil which is also an ecological and archeological park. We will be staying at a small reasonably priced hotel Dolores Alba http://www.doloresalba.com/indexmain.htm for about $55CDN/night (breakfast included) On Monday morning we will make our way to Cuzama http://yucatantoday.com/en/topics/cenotes-cuzama where a horse drawn buggy will take us along an old railway track to visit three more cenotes. Then we will make our way home to Cancun Monday evening ready for work Tuesday morning. I will of course blog about our experiences at a later date and include photos. Needless to say I am excited as not only do I love to explore new places but I also LOVE roadtrips…the open road, great tunes and good friends.We have had a rather cool winter that has gone on longer than usual this year so I hope that we are in for good weather.

If you are interested in reading about other cenotes that I have visited you can click here https://ashlied.wordpress.com/2010/02/12/las-mojarras-cenote-instead-of-the-beach/ and here https://ashlied.wordpress.com/2009/10/15/my-weekend-away-part-2/

Where will you be spending Easter this year?

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