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Well, hello there everyone!! It sure has been awhile since I last sat down and blogged about my experiences in Cancun. My last post was at the end of June just before hubby and I left for Vancouver for our annual vacation to my hometown. There are many reasons that I stopped blogging for a while which I won’t bore you with today but suffice to say I finally feel ready to blog again. I hope for those of you who take the time to read about my experiences that you enjoy  our latest Cancun adventure.

Last Sunday hubby and I set off in our SUV along a dirt road to the end of Isla Blanca excited because we were going to “fly” that day. Sometime ago we saw a strange “flying machine” high up in the air over the Caribbean ocean and I exclaimed to hubby “I must must  must do that” We found out that a relatively new company to Cancun had brought “paramotor” to our sandy white beaches. Basically speaking a “paramotor”  is a quasi-go-kart for two with an  aircraft-type propeller and a parachute which is attached to it enabling one to fly.

Fly Me Cancun

Cesar getting ready for take off

We arrived at our destination, which was a beautifully untouched area of soft white sand surrounded by a deep turquoise ocean on one side and the calm green shallow waters of a lagoon on the other side. Daniel, one of the owners, explained to us what to do and what not to do on our flight and proceeded to strap Cesar into the “flying machine”. With thumbs- up from the pilot the “paramotor” set off along the beach until it took off and slowly climbed higher and higher into the cloudless blue sky.

Airborne!

When it was my turn I eagerly took my place and as we set off my heart skipped a beat as we left the shore behind us. As Isla Blanca and the people gathered around on the ground became smaller and smaller I felt a sense of utter freedom and wonderment. I marvelled at the beauty that is Cancun. The vibrant colours of the ocean and lagoon where they joined together took my breath away. Suddenly the pilot touched my shoulder and motioned to the right and I saw a huge turtle gliding effortlessly through the water alongside the shore. WOW!!!

Amazing View!

As our flight came to an end it seemed less than the allotted 15 minutes only because one can easily lose themself in the moment of pure freedom and beauty. We landed and after thanking all involved we set off on our way.

Beautiful!

It had been an incredible day. It reminded me of just how beautiful Cancun is, which can be easy to forget when you are working here and living day to day. As I write this I am transported once again into the sky and that sense of utter freedom and endless possibilities.

Videos of our day: Taking Off  and Hubby Airborne

For more info: Fly Me Cancun 

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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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Picking up from where I left off in my previous blog we headed over to 1 of Izamal’s 7 Mayan ruins called Kinich Kakmo which was built around 400 and 600 B.C. It was a hot day (36 degrees celsius) and as we climbed the stairs towards the ruin we started to regret not bringing a big bottle of water with us. We spent some time admiring the structure from days long past and took photos of it as well as the incredible view of the town which from our vantage point was very picturesque indeed.

View of Izamal

We then drove back to our B&B and relaxed by the pool before it was time to go for dinner.As we left the hotel there was a huge clap of thunder and the heaven’s opened up and dumped an ungodly amount of water on Izamal. I felt sorry for  the locals who had looked forward to all of the outdoor festivities in the town square because of the Festival de Cristo Negro. The streets rapidly flooded as people tried to cover their stands up as fast as possible and then seek shelter from  the rain. We had gone back to Kinich restaurant for a quick bite (as I mentioned in my last blog the food is fantastic there) in hopes that the rain would soon stop so that we could see the sound and light show at 8:30pm that is put on every night outside the Convent .At 8:15pm the rain tapered off and after buying our tickets we sat down in the seats provided and with fingers crossed waited until 8:30pm. We had been warned that if it started raining any harder they would have to cancel the show.

Part of the light and sound show

Moonlight over the Convent

 

Miraculously the rain stopped bang on 8:30 and a beautiful almost eerie piece of music started up as the outside of the convent was lit up and in the distance we could see 4 “monks” walking with heads bent down carrying lamps. I was transported back into time as I imagined what it must have been like in the 1500’s.Then part of the wall of the Convent jumped to life as a slide show began explaining the Mayan culture and how the Convent came to be built in Izamal. I was very moved by the show and as it came to an end  with the “monks” once  again walking around the entrance of the Convent it began to pour rain down. We had been very lucky that it had held off for the duration of the show.We made our way to the town’s square and ordered a beer hoping that the rain would  eventually stop. It did!

Paper mache workshop

Suddenly the square was filled with people of all ages  decked out in their finest. Adolescent girls and women alike all seemed to be wearing the highest pair of heels that they could find and as they teetered precariously and navigated the puddles and slippery cobblestone streets I couldn’t help but smile as we took in everything that was going on around us. Around 10pm we went back to our hotel and snuggled under the sheets until we fell asleep.

Cocoyol seed

Bright and early the next day we enjoyed a delicious breakfast and checked out. We made our way to the local Sunday market which was abuzz with people buying freshly cut flowers, fresh meat, vegetables, fruit and various spices and homemade sauces. There was also table after table filled with people while they ate local Yucatecan cuisine sold by the vendors.As we crossed through the butcher’s hall I was amused to note that there was a live band playing at full volume while people ordered their cuts of meat for the week.Definitely not your everyday occurrence.After buying various bags of local chilies and other local delights we left the market 

We had been told that Izamal was home to many talleres ( local art workshops) so armed again with our map we decided to visit two of them before departing this truly magical town. First off we stopped at the paper mache workshop which was part of Don Lorenzo Yanpech’s home but because it was a Sunday he wasn’t working that day but he happily showed us around his workshop and we left with a beautiful paper mache butterfly. Next up we went to a jewellery workshop where Don Esteban Aban specialized in making jewellery made from thorns from the henequen tree and the cocoyol seed. We were greeted by Javier,Esteban’s son, and led out back to the workshop where his father was working on some new pieces. Javier gave us a quick tour before his father took over. Esteban welcomed us with a very heartfelt greeting in Maya and proceeded to explain everything that there was to do with his craft. He was quite the character and I would need a whole blog just to do him justice. Check out this link of a video that we took of him when he sang a Maya song to us. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q23wY3Vp8yg

 After about an hour we were finally able to tear ourselves away and continue on our trip. It was truly fascinating and we had learnt a lot. He is a very proud and interesting man that has dedicated his life to being the best at what he does in his art form.

Polishing the cocoyol seed

Polishing the cocoyol seed

The final destination on our Yucatan adventure was to visit the Yokdzonot Cenote. WOW!! What a beautiful spot. It reminded me of Cenote Il Kil, which we had visited on our last Yucatan adventure in the spring, except without the cascading waterfalls and all the tour buses and people. We paid our entrance fee (just 30 pesos) and climbed down the steep steps until we arrived at the bottom where there was a small wooden “dock”. We were told that we had to wear life jackets 😦 and that it was absolutely non-negotiable…a bit of a bummer especially since I always love to dive down deep into  the crystal clear water of any cenote that we get the chance to visit in Mexico. As we floated on our backs and gazed around us completely alone  I couldn’t help but feel at one with Mother Nature.

Yokdzonot cenote

After drying ourselves off we hit the road. As we made our way home I became lost in my thoughts as I replayed the last 30 some odd hours in my head. What a trip! What incredibly kind and friendly people!What an adventure! What a learning experience! It had been a perfect weekend. But I must confess that before we had even pulled into our parking spot in Cancun I was already thinking of where we could go next…I just wouldn’t be me if I wasn’t!

Some fun with an underwater camera

What places have you visited in the Yucatan? Have you been to Izamal?

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We hit the road bright and early and as the odometer clicked off the  kilometers, leaving Cancun far behind us, I felt that old familiar rush of excitement as we headed into the unknown. Our destination was Izamal ,which is considered one of Mexico’s 35 magical towns, but first we had hoped to explore a pair of cenotes, that I had found on a map, called  Mumondzonot and Lununchan in the outskirts of the small town of Tunkas. After what seemed an eternity of driving down a very bumpy,pothole ridden, dirt road we gave up and turned around but not before we came across an Inukshuk which seemed very out-of-place in the Yucatan. We were disappointed that we hadn’t been able to find the cenotes but without any signage and unreliable directions from the town’s inhabitants it just wasn’t meant to be.

Inukshuk in the Yucatan

We got back on the highway and enjoyed a relatively smooth drive to Izamal.I had found a great little bed and breakfast online called Hotel Macan Che, owned by an American couple,massage therapists by trade, who decided to make Izamal their home. We checked into one of their cozy bungalows with an Asian theme and noticed that other bungalows had names like “Frida” and “Selva”.The bed and breakfast is a little jungle oasis surrounded by lush plants, bamboo, with pretty little dirt walkways and bridges that lead you to the “lobby” and the natural rock bottom pool.For 500 pesos we had a room for the night and a very generous breakfast served the next day, consisting of agua de melon (melon juice), coffee or tea, a fresh fruit plate, and eggs with bacon or chorizo or a la Mexicana. A very good deal indeed.

The grounds at the Macan Che Hotel

By 1pm our stomachs were growling and armed with a map and a restaurant recommendation by our hotel we headed over to Kinich, the largest restaurant in town and by far the most charming little spot to eat in Izamal.Since we were in the Yucatan we ordered several of the house specialties and we were not disappointed. Now, normally I would go into great detail about the food, being a foodie and all, but for this particular blog I would prefer to focus more on what we did and saw in Izamal rather than what we ate there 🙂 Though I must say if you ever find yourself in this magical town don’t miss out on a great meal and friendly service at Kinich

We parked our truck and set off on foot and noticed that there was a hub of activity more than what one would expect in a town with a population of around 15,000. There were lots of stands selling food, clothes you name-it, and rides for children and adults alike. We headed over to the Franciscan Convent of San Antonio de Padua, built between 1553 and 1561, and as I was taking photos from afar of this incredibly majestic building, I noticed a gentleman hovering nearby us. I asked him a question about the history of the building and before we knew it we were being led around the convent and treated to rich, colourful explanations and stories about the history of Izamal. I asked him why there were so many people and tour buses in town and he explained that we were very fortunate as it was the festival of el Cristo Negro (black Christ) and we were lucky because the effigy of the black Christ was currently being displayed in the Convent in Izamal.As our extremely  informative tour came to an end I nudged Cesar, as it had become quite clear, that somehow this very industrious tour guide, posing as a friendly citizen, had “kidnapped” us and was now awaiting some form of monetary compensation. We gladly tipped him as he did indeed provide us with a wealth of interesting information. He was even able to explain to us why the majority of the town’s buildings were painted in a mustard yellow colour, something that I had not been able to find out beforehand with my research on the web.I had found many references to “the yellow city” and sites stating that the town was painted yellow to match the colour of the Convent but nowhere was I able to find out why yellow had been chosen in the first place. Our guide explained to us that the colour yellow in the Mayan culture represents the Maize God (God of corn) and of course maize has always been and continues to be very important in Mexico in general, especially as a food staple; however, unfortunately, I neglected to ask when the Convent had been painted yellow and just how that belief tied in with the dogma of a  Franciscan Convent?  If you have any insight about this subject please share it here.

Convent

After our tour of the Convent we decided to check out one of the 7 Mayan ruins that are located within Izamal. I will stop here and hopefully leave you “chomping at the bit” for more details of our Yucatan Adventure.

Cristo Negro

Please do click on the highlighted links scattered throughout this blog to learn more about Izamal and it’s rich history. I would have loved to delve more deeply into this subject  but as always I am conscious of keeping each blog entry “short and sweet” and besides there are already many well written informative sources “out there” for your reading pleasure.

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As most of my readers already know I recently returned from a three-week vacation  in Vancouver. My husband Cesar and I had a fantastic time visiting  family and friends. Now, I am back in Cancun, back to work and back to blogging but before I start writing about Cancun related topics again I wanted to post two blogs about my trip home. In this first blog, which will be mostly a photo blog, I would like to share with all of you some images of all the great food that we ate while away. As I have mentioned countless times before hubby and I are major foodies and Vancouver is a virtual mecca for people who love food. So, if you haven’t eaten already you probably should as the following images are bound to cause severe hunger pains. 

Eggs Benny on shrimp and english muffins

 

Pho noodles and other Asian favourites

 

Stanley Park hot-dog (slightly distorted)

 

Seared tuna with clams

 

Watermelon salad with goat cheese, honey and pepper

 

Incredibly fresh sashimi

 

And that was only just a few of the amazing dishes that we ate while on vacation!!!! 

Next blog…some of our adventures! 

What is your favourite food?

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My sister Amy is quite the talented photographer and while she was here visiting us she took some amazing photos with her fancy new Sony  digital camera. She had left her larger camera at home and brought the Sony instead. It has some really cool features like the ability to take  panoramic shots as well as the ability to take really natural looking photos in low light situations. According to Amy when she takes a shot in a dimly lit place the camera takes 6 quick individual shots that pick up on all the lighted areas in the frame and then automatically combines them resulting in 1 shot. I was amazed at how well this feature works. Often in low light situations the resulting photograph is either too dark or unnaturally bright if you use the flash. I have selected some of my favourite panoramic shots to share with everyone here. I hope you enjoy them.

Tulum

 Awhile back there was an amazing sunset and my sister took the following photos from my balcony. * Gringanation took some photos as well that day (I believe it was the same day) Indigo Orange Sunset

Amazing sunset

Simply beautiful

The last shot was taken in one of the underground cenotes at Hidden Worlds. I will blog about that day in more detail soon.

Hidden Worlds

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Rio Secreto

Last weekend we decided to do something special by taking advantage of a “cancunense” offer of discounted prices for Rio Secreto! I went with the usual “suspects” 🙂 Cesar, Erika and Fredy. Rio Secreto http://ow.ly/xmB0 is a natural reserve that was discovered by a farmer on his land while chasing one of his animals about 3-4 years ago. It is an underground maze of passageways and thousands of calcified stalactites and stalagmites.

The tour takes you through 600 metres by walking and swimming. When you arrive they give you everything that you will need for the 1.5 hour tour which consists of a half wet suit, a hard-hat, mining light , appropriate footwear and a guide. All you need to bring is your bathing suit and your spirit of adventure.

After our guide had given us some background on the place and shared his deep love of the experience that we were about to have we set off behind him single file until we reached some stairs going down to the subterannean caves. First we passed a small Mayan alter that had been blessed by a Mayan priest and then we arrived at the cave’s mouth. It was amazing! We were told to follow our guide-Pablo exactly in his footsteps so as not to disturb anymore of the natural ecosystem than necessary this included not touching anything as we were informed that once you touch one of these marvelous calcified stalactites and stalagmites they stop growing due to the natural acids on our skin.

As we proceeded all natural light disappeared and all we had were our mining lights and Pablo’s flashlight to lead the way. We arrived at a large open cavern and sat down in about 1 foot of water. Pablo asked us to turn off all of our lights and to imagine what the Mayan priests would have heard so many years ago when they came to this sacred place. We sat in silence and darkness for about 5 minutes listening to the soothing drops of water falling from the ceiling. We were enveloped by the cave and I must admit it was a pretty mystical experience until Cesar’s stomach grumbled. 🙂

We turned our lights back on and proceeded through the passageways at times walking and at times swimming through fresh crystal clear water. You could see where the trees’ roots from above had slowly made their way down through the crevices to find water. There were small fishes, bats (but they were sleeping) and other creatures that shared this wonderful place with us. As we went deeper and deeper I noticed that not only were the caves devoid of any sound except us but also there were no odours aside from our wetsuits. It was an amazing feeling.

An amazing experience at Rio Secreto

An amazing experience at Rio Secreto

Unfortunately you are not allowed to take your own camera but a photographer accompanies you along the tour snapping photos at various spots. Be forewarned Rio Secreto charges you A LOT of money if you choose to take any photos home with you. It is a shame that the photos cost more than your tour. They should make them more reasonable and as a complement to the tour instead of  a “big money maker”. We only bought 1 photo that was put on a disk for us and that cost $25 US–that’s right $25 US!!!! If we had wanted all of them it would have cost $89 US

As we came to the end of the 1.5 hour tour through the caves Pablo asked us to be aware of the differences we would feel as we slowly started coming up. The air became heavier and humid, colours became more brilliant as we climbed the steps up into the daylight and jungle and once again my nose was assaulted by everyday smells. Time had flown by while we were underground and I was sad that it was over.

We took off all of our gear and were teated to a nice healthy light lunch of salad, ham and cheese croissants, and fresh “waters” made from either tamarind, horchata or jamaica (hibiscus). We then picked out our 1 photo bid good-bye to Pablo and headed on our way feeling rejuvenated and alive!

I highly recommend this tour it is indeed an experience that should not be missed. Regular entrance fees go for $49 US or $95 US if you need transportation from Cancun. Our “special” price for locals was 250 pesos (about $19 US)

I would like  to do this tour again one day maybe next time with my Dad or Cuzzy!!

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