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Moving On!

Hi Everyone!

This will be my last post on “Ashlie’s Cancun Blog and other stuff! “which for the most part has been focused solely on Cancun.  I want to write about more than just my Cancun exploits. Don’t get me wrong I love Cancun and it has been my home for better or for worse for 18 years now but there is so much more to my life than just Cancun. So that being said thank you for showing an interest in my often sporadic ramblings about Cancun and I hope that you will decide to check out my new blog: http://travelfoodphotography.wordpress.com/

 

I plan to continue to blog about Cancun but I will also be sharing my love of travel, food and photography. A winning combination don’t you think?

I hope to see you again!

Sincerely,

Ashlie

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A Christmas Story

As some of my readers may remember on occasion I post my Mother’s poetry. She has a wonderful gift and through the years I have enjoyed reading her poems on my Birthday cards, Christmas cards and when I got married.

So I couldn’t think of a better way to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

And this year I think that she really outdid herself with “A Christmas Story” so without further ado I present the following:

 

A Christmas Story

 

TWAS a frosty winter’s night

And everyone was tucked up tight.

When at the door came a rat-tat

Too snug was I to see who’s that.

“Bob Cratchit” the wife said,

With a poke in the ribs,

“You’d better get up

It might be his Nibs!”

So quickly down the stairs I fly

In case it’s Mister Scrooge come by,

It wouldn’t do to have him wait

He’d dock my wage and no mistake!

But on peeping out the door

It was a stranger that I saw.

He had a beard and wore a cloak

And didn’t look like regular folk.

“Kind sir,” says he, in words of old,

“We need to shelter from the cold.

We’ve travelled far and lost our way

And do not have a place to stay.”

So not knowing what else to do,

I lift the latch and let them through.

In came a Lady, heavy with child;

Her face was gentle, sweetly mild.

I begged the Lady to sit herself down

And wrapped her in a shawl I found.

Then stoking the fire, what did I see?

Two pointy feet up in the chimney.

“What the dicken’s,” I cried,

 When out of the flue,

A jolly Old Elf popped into view.

He gave a wink and said with a yawn,

“I’ll nap for a bit, ‘til toasty and warm.

The reindeers stand ready up on the roof,

So, we can dash off in a flash of a hoof!”

 Before I had quite got over the shock,

I heard most distinctly another knock. 

I flew to the door and on peering out

Saw Three Wise Men lurking about.

“If you please, may we enter within,

We’ve followed a Star in freezing wind.”

I had them sit, made everyone tea,

And never was there such a company.

Just when I hoped to have a good natter,

On the doorstep, appeared the Nutcracker.

Moustached and tall, he marches in

And a pretty Miss pirouettes after him.

I draw up chairs, they too sit down,

Crumpets and tea I hand around.

And once again, there was a knock

It was a Shepherd and his flock.

Oxen too and a donkey I saw

All crowded together at the door.

I stood in a daze at the hullabaloo,

Scratching my head at what to do?

Watching an Angel alight in a twinkling

And Rudolph’s red nose merrily blinking,

I began to worry what next there’d be?

P’raps a Partridge in a Pear tree!

I ran to and fro, was all in a dither,

Until the Lady bade me come hither,

“Surely there’s room out in the hall.

You could lay down some straw

And make it a stall.”

That’s what I did, and all was well,

And that’s my Story of the First Noël.

‘Tis time to put this tale to rest,

And wish you Good Cheer

And a Happy Christmas!

 –SADove

Dec.-11-11

 

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Birthday parties are always fun especially when you are a kid! I remember being so excited about my birthday party that I used to make myself sick. My Mom would organize such great parties with amazing cakes, which I don’t think that I could ever enjoy, because I always worked myself into such a state of excitement beforehand.  Those were the days when we lived for our birthdays and for our friend’s birthdays.

Jardin de Fiesta! Party Venue

Two weeks ago we went to a good friend’s of our son’s birthday party. He turned 6. Hubby and I don’t have any kids yet though we are in the process of “trying” –translation…lots of sex! Kid’s birthday parties in Mexico are very different than what I remember in Canada. I have been to a few of them during my 15 years in Cancun and they all seem to have one thing in common. In Mexico a child’s birthday involves the whole family, friends of the family and parents of the children. WOW!!! You do the math…. When I was a kid birthday parties generally meant, a few kids, a theme, games, cake, presents, and then your parents picked you up. If you are already reeling from the idea of the number of invitees now imagine that your child is in a class of 30 kids or so and that the custom is that you invite all of the kids to the party…now times that by parents and friends! Are you starting to get the picture?

Musical chairs

This particular birthday party was held at a jardin de fiestas (entertainment venue), which is quite common, as where in the world would you fit all of your guests otherwise? There was a swimming pool, a basketball court, an area with chairs and tables under a large palapa and a grill. And like most jardin de fiestas they are usually found off the beaten track as savvy investors buy up large parcels of land (cheap) and install a pool, a palapa, or sometimes a large hall to hold various events and then rent them out.

The Birthday Family

For Nico’s birthday they provided home-cooked food for everyone. At other events, which I have attended in the past, they have either been catered or a grill-man has been hired to cook the food at the party, which the hosts have brought in advance. Generally speaking guests bring their own alcoholic drinks but other non-alcoholic beverages are often provided. Last weekend there were about 60 guests of which 25 were children. It was a fairly hot day so the majority of the kids and some parents enjoyed cooling off in the pool, while others played on the jungle gym, while the adults sipped their drinks in the shade swapping stories.

Whacking the piñata!

After filling our tummies with cochinita, pastries and other snacks the games began for the kids. First up musical chairs and then some other familiar games ensued. Next the much anticipated event began—the piñata! All the kids lined up single file according to height (to give the little ones a chance first) in front of the strung up effigy of Batman. A resounding “whack, whack” proceeded as each child took their turn striking “Batman” until finally “he” exploded and candy fell everywhere. In a frenzied-like state the kids fell upon the floor to gather up as much candy as they could hold in little plastic bags.

The piñata aftermath

Once the piñata festivities came to an end it was time for dessert!! As Nico blew out the candles on his Spiderman decorated cake his face was unceremoniously pushed into the chocolaty, gooey, spongy cake, which is the custom in Mexico. For anyone who has never heard of this it is quite normal in Latin countries for the young and old alike. It usually starts off with people chanting “mordida mordida mordida” (bite bite bite) after the birthday song has been sung. The song that is always sung is Las Mañanitas.

Estas son las mañanitas, que cantaba el Rey David,

 Hoy por ser día de tu santo, te las cantamos a ti,

 Despierta, mi bien, despierta, mira que ya amaneció,

 Ya los pajarillos cantan, la luna ya se metió.

Que linda está la mañana en que vengo a saludarte,

 Venimos todos con gusto y placer a felicitarte,

 Ya viene amaneciendo, ya la luz del día nos dio,

 Levántate de mañana, mira que ya amaneció.

Translation:

This is the little morning song that King David sang

Because today is your saint’s day and we are singing it for you

 Wake up, my dear, wake up, look it is already dawn

 The birds are already singing and the moon has set

How beautiful is the morning in which I come to greet you

 We all came with joy and pleasure to congratulate you

 The morning is coming now; the sun is giving us its light

 Get up, it is morning, look it is already dawn.

The birthday boy!

Once everyone had enjoyed some cake hubby and I left and the party continued with Nicolas opening his gifts and as the last guests left the party the little ones were handed small party bags with a few gifts of appreciation from the hosts. It had been a lovely day spent with friends and I was once again reminded of some of the reasons that I love Mexico.

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It’s been a busy 2 weeks since my last post but I  have suddenly found myself with a lot of free time coming my way for the next 3-4 weeks. Hubby and I have been very active lately, running in the mornings and afternoons and I have been going to Pilates classes with a couple of my girlfriends a couple of times a week, with the goal of losing some extra weight that I have dragged around for the last couple of years. Well, not anymore. This morning I fractured my toe (how stupid of me) and according to my doctor I will have to be off my feet as much as possible for 3-4 weeks-OH JOY!! So it looks like I will have loads of time to catch up with my blogging.

What a view!

At the end of April we set off to explore a new cenote for us and an old familiar one in the Riviera Maya. Since it was my Mom’s last weekend in Cancun we wanted to take her on an adventure before she returned to Vancouver. We hit the road early and made Cenote Manati our first stop of the day. When we arrived a tour bus had already beat us there but undeterred we parked and unloaded our snorkeling gear. My Mom decided to forgo the first cenote and instead she installed herself in a nice little restaurant on the beach and ordered a tall cool one. We were anxious to explore the cenote and we saw that they rented kayaks so my excitement grew as I thought that we were in for a great experience kayaking through the mangroves and waterways. We paid 50 pesos for each kayak and paddled off. Cenote Manati is located on the largest cave system of the world and is very picturesque to say the least; the crystal clear water  gives off the illusion of various shades of green and is surrounded by lush vegetation.Cenote Manati received its name because in the past you may have come across a Manati but with increased tourism to the area it is now very unlikely that you will encounter one of these very shy creatures.

Cenote Manati

As we were paddling through the waterways and manoeuvering through the mangroves I felt very peaceful and I was enjoying the physical exercise  accompanied by the beautiful scenery. After about 10 minutes we hit a dead-end and try as we might we just couldn’t seem to find a way to keep going so we paddled back to ask the guide for directions. Much to our disappointment we were informed that you couldn’t go any further so we decided to kayak the same short route again. At 50 pesos a pop per kayak we felt somewhat mislead and we were determined to get some more use out of our kayaks. After we had paddled around some more we ditched the kayaks and armed with snorkel gear we delved into the depths of the cenote in search of underwater life. Once we felt that we had enough we joined my Mom for a drink and a snack and then we set off for Cenote Azul.

Mom chillin' at Cenote Azul

After exiting the highway we found a nice shady spot under a tree and left our truck to make our way down to the cenote. It was a Saturday so understandably there were a lot of people cooling themselves off in the cool refreshing water and working on their tans. My Mom and I didn’t waste any time as we jumped into the water and swam around until we found a rock conveniently in the shade under a large overhanging tree. There we stayed until Cesar joined us and then I set off with hubby and snorkel gear to explore the cenote some more. As we swam around admiring the different species of fishes and underwater nooks and crannies I thought to myself what an amazing world exists below the surface.

Heavenly

As the sun rose high in the sky we began to feel a rumble in our tummies so we packed up our stuff and bid adieu to Cenote Azul and headed to Playa for a well deserved lunch on the beach. It had been another great day in paradise and a wonderful way to spend my Mom’s last weekend in Cancun.

Another view of Cenote Azul

Have you been to a cenote before? Which ones are your favourites?

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I’m a Groupon Junkie. There, I have said it. It’s out in the open now. They say that the first step to recovery is admitting to yourself that you have a problem and then to seek help for said problem. But what if I don’t want any help? What if I like being a Groupon Junkie?
Let’s start at the beginning shall we? February began like any other month with work, play, sleep,and more work but it was that month that I noticed on Facebook that some of my Canadian friends were posting special deals for spa treatments,restaurants  and other exciting promotions from a company called Groupon. I was curious so I “googled” them.  For those of you who are not familiar with Groupon take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with them here. In a nutshell they offer great local daily discounts for a myriad of businesses. Now, I was even more interested as who doesn’t appreciate a good deal? I then wondered whether Groupon was available in Mexico? Much to my delight it was so I immediately filled out the registration form and signed up for their daily email.

Cancun Groupon

At first it all started our rather innocently I would get up in the morning start working, check my emails respond to clients and then open up my Hotmail account to see whether I had any personal emails and I would read about the deal of the day.My first purchase was an introductory package for salsa classes for 200 pesos (less than $20) for 4 classes! We bought a coupon for my Mom, my Mother-in-law, and girlfriend. We had a great time and we learnt the basics steps of cuban salsa. My next purchase was for a discount at a restaurant. After that I was hooked!

Some of my Groupon Coupons

I first began to suspect that maybe  I was in over my head when I realized that after opening my eyes in the morning the first thought that crossed my mind was “hmmm I wonder what today’s deal is on Groupon?” I would fire up my computer and go straight to their website (which I have saved in my “favourites” list) and with great anticipation wait as the page loaded. After scanning the day’s deals I would either hit “BUY” or sit back with a deep sense of disappointment if the deal just wasn’t for me. Then, after buying our tickets to Vancouver for our 1 month vacation in July, I signed up for Vancouver’s daily Groupon email. Now I was really addicted! Deals, deals and more deals to choose from every day!!!

Vancouver Groupon

I finally realized that I had serious problem when I allocated a file to my ever growing stash of coupons. I even added a divider to separate the ones in Cancun from Vancouver. Since February, aside from Salsa lessons, I have bought fondue restaurant discounts (twice), yoga classes, Pilates classes, facial treatments, French, Thai, Brazilian and Japanese food discounts just to name a few. Now, sometimes I don’t even wait until the next morning to check the daily deals. If I am still awake at midnight, and this is hard for me to admit, I will actually turn on my iTouch and go to, you guessed it, my favourites section to check Vancouver’s and Cancun’s deals.

I tell myself that my addiction is harmless. I’m not hurting anyone, it doesn’t affect my work or my relationships so what’s the big deal? I get to try different activities and eat great food at new and familiar  restaurants at a discounted price. In fact, one could even say that Groupon has enriched my life and enabled me to get to know my city(ies) better (one of their slogans by the way) for a very reasonable price. I have read the various articles out there that talk about the possible downsides for businesses who become involved with Groupon but for me, as a consumer, it has been a great opportunity to try new things. I even convinced my reluctant  husband to take some yoga classes with me.

So, I guess what I am trying to say is that yes,  I  confess that I am a Groupon junkie and  I accept the fact that I have a problem but for now  I am not ready to do anything about it. It has been 3 days since my last purchase and that ever-present “itch” to click on BUY is growing and growing and I can only hope that tomorrow’s deals will satisfy my dark urges.

Groupon file

Have you used Groupon before? Do you have any confessions that you would like to share with me?

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Where to start? As I mentioned in my last blog I haven’t been feeling very bloggy lately so that means I have a lot to catch up on now. Christmas and New Years have come and gone and we are already half-way through the first month of 2011. So let’s roll the calendar back to December 23rd, 2010 and begin there shall we?

Top of the Rock

 Photos…..

After the blizzard

Two days before Christmas day yours truly, hubby and my Mom were on a plane bound for New York City. It was my first time there and I was absolutely thrilled as I had always wanted to visit the Big Apple and now thanks to my Mom we were actually going and we would be spending 6 action packed days there over Christmas. We arrived on a sunny, crisp day but by the time we had to leave,  New York was blanketed in snow due to an unexpected blizzard. We took in many sites some of which included walking  along 5th avenue, visiting Rockefeller Center,Chinatown,Staten Island, going up to the observation deck on Top of The Rock, having an incredible meal in Little Italy, shopping at Macy’s, Time’s Square and of course taking in a show.We had a an amazing time and as I had always suspected I loved New York….its energy, its diversity and its people. I even thoroughly enjoyed the blizzard as it had been a long time since I had experienced snow in a city. By the time we left I knew for a certainty that I would be back again and that New York City had not seen the last of me.

Blue Parrot

Once back in Cancun it was time to focus on New Years Eve. We had a full house with friends visiting from various places and on the 31st we all headed down to Playa del Carmen to ring in the new year at the BPM Music Festival at The Blue Parrot.After, enjoying a nice meal we cracked open a bottle of champagne in our room and then slowly made our way through the crowded streets until after a lot of manoeuvering we finally got inside the venue. We staked out an area on the beach and there for the next 9 hours we danced, laughed and celebrated the end of the year until we collapsed exhausted in our respective rooms.

Barrezito

The next few days were filled with work and  spending time with our guests. We had a night out at Barrezito to kick off a friend’s birthday and then on our group of friends’ last day in Cancun we took them to Isla Mujeres where we rented a golf cart, visited the turtle farm, feasted on Tik n Chic and took in an awesome sunset before dropping them off at the airport. Once everyone had gone our place seemed so empty and quiet but not for long as a dear friend of mine, who has stayed with us while visiting from China, returned from a quick business trip in D.F. Next, we continued celebrating our friend’s birthday ( he is like me his birthday is at least a 1 week affair) with a dinner  at Rino’s and finally on Friday a big blow out at Jardin Ixchel.

Tik N Chic-before

So now,sitting here Sunday night,after reliving the last 24 action packed days I can only wonder what 2011 will bring this fortunate Canuck?

Tik N Chic-after

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Who loves Halloween? I do I do! I must confess that this particular holiday has always been one of my favourites maybe because I have such fond memories of it from when I was a child or simply because I LOVE to play dress-up. This year was no exception. Last year we had a party but this time around we decided to hit the streets to see what was going on. I dressed up as Reagan from the Exorcist and hubby went as the priest and I must say we did a damn fine job of it too. We started off at Dubai Terraza with some friends where I enjoyed seeing the Halloween spirit live and well in Cancun.After a few hours we headed over to the ME  for a while and finally we wrapped our night up at a party downtown. I had a blast and my only regret was that it seemed to fly by so fast.

The Excorcist

Next, we headed to Plaza La Isla in the hotel zone where we found some more decorations and another altar.After snapping a few more photos we stopped for lunch in front of the lagoon and had some not-so-great pizza *sigh* and that concluded our Halloween/Day of the Dead festivities for this year.

Assorted goods at Mercado 23

Before I wrap up this blog post I would like to hear your opinions on Halloween and whether it should be celebrated in Mexico? This year I read and heard many complaints by people (hubby included even though he always seems to enjoy dressing up 🙂 ) stating that Halloween is an American/Canadian holiday that has no place in Mexico. In Cancun you rarely see children in the streets trick-or-treating yet the schools have parties for them and they go dressed up. The comments that I heard and read were from angry adults who felt that Halloween could take over the tradition of the Day of the Dead even though the two are celebrated days apart and are very different in nature. I see no harm in celebrating both and learning about each one. I grew up in Canada, a true melting pot of cultures, where we celebrated Saint Patrick’s Day (I’m not Irish), September 15th/Mexican Independence Day (I’m not Mexican) and many other celebrations. I don’t feel that other countries’ traditions have taken over Canada in fact I love that I grew up in a place that embraces all cultures. It has made me the well-rounded person that I am today and I believe it gave me my love of travelling and desire to see and experience new things. So what is the harm in celebrating Halloween, kids here seem to love it and judging by all the local people who I saw dressed up in the clubs a lot of adults do too. Why? Because it’s fun.

Sugar skull at La Isla

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