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Becoming a Mexican!

So it’s been 4 months since my last blog….and believe me I have started writing on more than one occasion but for some reason or another I never quite finish and eventually they all end up in my virtual garbage bin. I remember starting off my blog posts with such gusto, critiquing restaurants, describing my weekend escapades but never really sharing my opinions of what it is really like to live in a foreign country…Cancun, Mexico. I guess that I was always wary of offending people….which is so easy to do nowadays.

 I have been here since 1995 and I have finally applied for Mexican citizenship (long story). WOW! That means in about less than 8 months I will be able to call myself a Mexican. I am a Canadian by birth but my family are from England and in just 5 years I will have lived in Mexico as long as I lived in Canada….double WOW! So what does all of this mean?? Not sure really except that I feel very proud of my roots and that I love Canada but I also love Mexico too.

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So once I am an official Mexican citizen what does that mean….how should I feel? Will I feel like a Mexican? I will still retain my Canadian citizenship as well as my British citizenship but I will also now be a Mexican. So who am I? Canada embraces their immigrants. My parents consider themselves Canadian….they “feel” like they are Canadian. They have been living in Canada longer than they lived in England. But Canada is such a melting pot of ethnicities so being a “Canadian” means something different  than here. In Mexico, even though I will have the paperwork, I will never truly be viewed as a Mexican. I will always be viewed as a foreigner and treated as thus even though I chose 18 years ago to make Mexico my home.

I speak Spanish fluently, understand, respect and embrace the customs and I am married to a Mexican. I accept the good and the bad…and granted right now Mexico is experiencing their fair share of tumultuous times but at the end of the day Mexico is a country full of noble people and rich in history. And I think that once I am granted my citizenship I will feel proud to call myself a Mexican….even though I may never be truly accepted as one.

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*** I have decided to blog again; however, aside from bubbly reviews of restaurants and weekend escapades I would like to share more personal insights with the hope that I don’t offend anyone.

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On October 8th 2005 I got married in Cancun surrounded by friends and family in the Westin Regina Hotel. It was just 12 days before hurricane Wilma (category 5) made landfall in Cancun and wreaked havoc on my beloved city. Luckily, for hubby and me, we were long gone by then and enjoying our honeymoon in Thailand but for many of our loved ones they had to ride out the storm. That was 6 years ago but still my wedding day is fresh in my mind. I remember people telling me that the first year of marriage is like being on a constant honeymoon but that was not the case for my husband and me. For us it was more like growing pains until we finally settled into a comfortable groove and it was only then that I realized that I was very lucky as I had married my best friend. The following years have just gotten better and better as we make our way through this life together. He makes me laugh (which is so very important), he has my back, and he is a kind gentle, intelligent, patient soul. We are actually quite different from each other in many ways but I think that is what in the end makes us work so well together.

So, on our 6th wedding anniversary we decided to treat ourselves to a weekend away at El Marina El Cid Hotel in the Riviera Maya just 20 minutes away from home.  We came across a great deal on Clickonero for two nights with an ocean view suite and VIP Premium Club status that we just couldn’t refuse. With packed bags we set off Saturday to celebrate our anniversary. I had already done my due diligence beforehand by checking out the hotel on Trip Advisor and as always there were incredibly positive reviews mixed in with some terrible reviews. The most common bad review was about the food but since hubby and I often visit all inclusive hotels in the Riviera Maya we knew what to expect in general.

When we arrived we checked in at the Premium Lounge, which is usually used for time share owners, and also to try and book people into doing a time share presentation. I used to sell Time Share….please don’t hold that against me J so I promptly let them know that a) I was an ex-time share saleswoman and b) I had no interest in being tortured—ooops I mean toured. We were taken to a suite that was more than what we needed for 2 nights but greatly appreciated. We had a living room, small kitchenette, 2 bathrooms, and a large bedroom with two balconies overlooking the ocean. There was even a bottle of red wine and a colourful fruit basket on the dining room table.

We quickly stripped off our clothes and hit the pool. WOW! What a pool! It was huge AND practically empty as we are in low season right now, which suited us just fine as shockingly there aren’t any sun umbrellas at all around the pool just on the beach L We found a few chairs that were in the shade as the sun had begun its slow descent behind the tall buildings of the hotel and we dropped our stuff and dove into the refreshing water. Let me tell you it is a great pool….large, with tepid water, a huge play area for kids and children alike with water slides and a fake cliff that you can dive off into the deep man-made abyss below. I, of course, immediately wanted to try the slide out and dive off the “cliff”. As I whipped down the surprisingly fast slide that at one point I believed I was going to fly over the side, I let out a loud laugh as I hit the water. Next up the “cliff” I dove off and plunged into the separate pool below. After, my adrenalin rush had subsided we ordered a few frozen tropical drinks and settled into our chairs.

El Marina El Cid

Our first night we went for dinner at one of the a la carte restaurants and had a decent meal. Unfortunately the food at El Cid is not that great (just like the reviews stated) neither the a la carte restaurants nor the buffets were much to our liking but since we were only there for two days it didn’t bother us too much. If I were staying for a week I would never survive and would have to leave the premises in search of better meals. The staff on the other hand we found to be very friendly and eager to make our stay a pleasant one. At the end of our weekend we felt rested and content and ready for the work week ahead.

How do you spend your wedding anniversay?

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Another year has come and gone and once again hubby and I will be celebrating by eating pozole and drinking tequila but this time we will be spending it with his family instead of hitting the Zocalo. Viva Mexico!!!

Mexican Independence Day. Viva Mexico!!! Today is a very important day for Mexico and I wanted to share with my readers some historical background on what September 15th and 16th mean for Mexicans and those of us who have made Mexico our home. Tonight my husband and I will be going out for a traditional  bowl of pozole and then we will head over to el Ayuntamiento (town hall) to join in the festivities which include firworks and "el grito" which starts at 11pm and maybe even a stop at a … Read More

via Ashlie's Cancun Blog and other stuff!

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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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It’s been a while since my last restaurant review and not because we haven’t been eating out lately but because I started to notice that for some time the majority of my blog posts were about food. Now don’t get me wrong I love to write about food especially when it is great tasting food but I also enjoy writing about other things as well specifically our little adventures.But tonight, I am going to tell you about a wonderful little spot in Puerto Juarez, right on the beach ,which isn’t exactly off the beaten path, but it is a place where you won’t find many tourists and some locals  might even turn their noses up since it is  more of a changarro rather than restaurant.

The entrance

Hubby and I first happened upon El Sol Naciente a few months ago when we were going to Rescate Malix for their monthly Dog Wash event and we decided to make a quick stop for something to eat along the way. We had often passed by the many small, thrown together restaurants on the beach but this was the first time that we decided to stop. We chose El Sol Naciente for two reasons, A) they had a spot for us to park in and B) I liked the big shark sign out front. Not the best criteria for choosing a restaurant I know but nonetheless that is why we ended up there.Once we parked an eager waiter with a friendly face (Luis) ushered us to our table in front of the water’s edge and after a great meal we knew that we would be back again soon.

Hog Fish/Boquinete

Last weekend we took my in-laws and my Mom there for a late Saturday lunch and at first we were worried about how they would react to such a place but we hoped that once the food was served that they would love it too.Now, let me explain El Sol Naciente doesn’t have any plumbing or electricity and the over head tarp look like they  salvaged it from a garbage bin but they do their best with what they have on hand. A bucket with clean water has a small plastic faucet inserted at the bottom so that clients can wash their hands. They also have a women’s and men’s bathroom, which is clean, but since they don’t have any plumbing there is a huge bucket outside and after you are done you simply fill a smaller bucket with some water and return to the bathroom to pour the water into the toilet to make it “flush”. A tad primitive but let me assure you that they were much cleaner than any port-a-potty that I have been in before.

Pelican and birds

Luis was our server again and once my Mom and mother-in law had made their way through the sand in their high heels to our table we ordered a round of drinks and discussed the menu. My Mom ordered a mixed ceviche and we ordered 2 whole  boquinetes (hog fish) fried with lots of garlic. All of their seafood is delivered fresh from the ocean that same day and you can pick out the fish that you want to eat. They also have live lobster, crab and other types of fish depending on the day.The price per kilo for fish is $130 pesos (about $10.50 CDN/kilo) and for a small ceviche that is 95%  seafood the cost is $90 pesos. They have a full bar and drinks are  very reasonable as well. Our fish was served with all the  cabbage salad, rice and marinated onions that you want and of course tortillas.

Birds

Once again the food was excellent! The fish was cooked just right. It was moist, flavourful and it easily flaked off the bones as we hungrily devoured it.After we had finished our meal we sat back and enjoyed the free entertainment that unfolded before us. While we had been eating a pelican had joined the flock of birds on the beach and children were throwing scraps of food for them and several fights had broken out as they all scrambled for the small pieces of food.I took several photos and I was particularly fascinated by the way that the smaller birds all seemed to point in one direction whether  perched on the small fishing boats tied up along the shoreline or on the beach.

The Gang

As the afternoon came to an end we ordered our bill but before we left  we saved Luis’s cell number as he had a “lobster connection”…a direct line to a fisherman who could sell us  live lobster, conch and fish at an incredibly reasonable rate…Oh joy! What an afternoon…great food, company and entertainment to boot.

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My husband and I absolutely love food. We are dedicated foodies.

 

Foodie:  an informal term for a particular class of aficionado of food and drink. The word was coined in 1981 by Paul Levy and Ann Barr, who used it in the title of their 1984 book The Official Foodie Handbook.Although the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably, foodies differ from gourmets in that gourmets are epicures of refined taste who may or may not be professionals in the food industry, whereas foodies are amateurs who simply love food for consumption, study, preparation, and news.[1] Gourmets simply want to eat the best food, whereas foodies want to learn everything about food, both the best and the ordinary, and about the science, industry, and personalities surrounding food.

Excerpt taken from Wikipedia

Mi Casa, private room

Last week we were invited by two of our friends  to join them at Mi Casa, an amazing restaurant just off Acanceh Ave.,for a degustacion (tasting) that consisted of 7 dishes.We eagerly accepted and at 8pm we promptly arrived at Mi Casa, which literally means my house and this particular restaurant is actually a house that has been converted into a restaurant.Cool! We were shown to a private room where a large table, covered with a pristine white table-cloth sat in the center, surrounded by hundreds of bottles of wine and the odd painting.

Kobe Beef Carpaccio

Our waiter brought us our menus and that is when our true culinary adventure began. We were told to pick 3 appetizers, 3 main courses and 1 dessert.They would provide us with the wine pairings. What was a girl to do with so many tantalizing choices before her? After quizzing the chef endlessly about each dish I finally made my choices but at that moment I knew that I would be back again and again until I had eaten my way through their entire menu.

 

Callo de almeja

We started off with a kobe beef carpaccio marinated in a balsamic reduction sauce sprinkled with sal de gusano (worm salt) and placed on a bed of peppery argula and mounted on crispy toasts that were lightly dressed with a  mustard vinagrette.WOW!! The meat was so tender that it melted in our mouths. It was paired with a flavourful Pinot noir.Next we had callo de almeja (small scallops) that had been “cooked “by marinating them in lime juice, served with oh-so-sweet cantaloupe balls, cherry tomatoes,cilantro and Serrano chiles. The freshness of the scallops and the sharp citrus taste of the lime juice went wonderfully with the sweet melon and chardonnay wine. So far we were thoroughly impressed. We asked the waiter to slow our food service down so that we could truly enjoy and discuss each dish as it came and to give our stomachs time to adjust to each new meal. We were handed a remote control that acted as an electric bell that would sound in the kitchen to let the chef  know when we were ready for our next course. Now that is VIP service!

Salmon Tartare

Next up salmon tartare with foi gras, fennel and avocado,  topped with crispy fried seaweed. Absolutely divine. The delicate flavour of the salmon blended exquisitely with the foi gras. More wine was served! That dish signaled the end of our appetizers. We took a short break and enjoyed each other’s company for a while. Our spirits were soaring partly due to such extraordinary food but also because our waiter was generously plying us with glass after glass of wine. 🙂

Lamb

Our first main course was duck confit sautéed with leaks and arbol chile,accompanied with tender shallots, green beans and potatoes in an epazote butter sauce. The duck fell apart and dissolved in my mouth.Hubby proclaimed, between mouthfuls, that so far this was his favourite dish. By now we were starting to get pretty full and I must confess also a little tipsy.Our next course was  rack of lamb that had been cooked to perfection and served with al dente vegetables and a small lightly battered ball  of pureed potato and cream. Once again the chef had hit another home run. I groaned as our last main course  was served -caramelized sea bass with a spinach risotto. It was almost painful to eat another bite but I pushed on. The risotto was creamy and soft as silk and the fish flaked apart at the slightest touch of my fork.I was barely able to finish the last course.

Duck

Dessert was next. We had originally ordered creme brulee with a mamey fruit sauce but we realized that we would have to forego any more food. There simply wasn’t anymore room. We asked our waiter if we could substitute our dessert course with a glass of Licor 43,a liquer with 43 “secret” ingredients from Spain,that I have often touted as drink fit for the gods. He graciously complied and as we sipped on our drinks with full bellies I  couldn’t help but exclaim ” I have died and gone to culinary heaven!”

Caramelized Sea Bass

Our dinner lasted 2.5 hours and was one of the most pleasurable evenings I have ever experienced. The company was great, the service was first-rate and the food was exceptional. I am often disappointed with the service , food quality and lack of originality in Cancun’s restaurants but our  experience at Mi Casa can only be described as sheer heaven. Our meal came to $750 pesos each plus 15% tip, just over $85 CDN.  We don’t often splurge like that on our meals but in this case it was worth every peso.

*Mi Casa offers regular dining options as well on their menu. Their prices are quite reasonable and comparable to other restaurants of the same calibre but in this foodie’s opinion their food surpasses anything that I have yet to sample here.

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It was 3am and we were deep into our REM sleep cycle  when all of a sudden we were awakened by a huge  “bang”, “crack”, “boom”!!I bolted up out of  bed and hissed at Cesar “I think someone  just kicked down our front door” We gingerly made our way into the living room with our two cats in toe where much to our relief we saw that our front door was still intact and that we were not in the middle of a home invasion. We turned on the lights to see if we could find the source of the noise, scanning for fallen objects, until my eyes  landed on our dining room floor where much to my dismay I saw a huge pile of uplifted tiles, almost volcano-like in appearance, under my dining-room table. CRAP! We stood there for a few seconds until we heard a creaking sound and then some popping as more tiles started coming apart from the floor. The cats freaked out and moved to higher ground as I exclaimed “great, just freaking great!” There wasn’t much else that we could do at that moment so we headed back to bed.
Volcano-tiles

Now, this wasn’t my first tile-exploding experience. In fact one could say that I have become quite the professional  in dealing with shoddy tile work in Cancun.My last apartment had tile- volcanoes (an expression that I like to think that I coined) popping up almost everday until almost all of our dining-room and living-room floor was more like a mine field rather than a home.In our next apartment (our current home) which we own…so no more being able to call a landlord and having them fix it on their dime…we have had our walk-in closet erupt as well as an area below the stairs that leads to our upper half-floor.So,this kid has been around the block a few times. Why does this keep happening you ask? Let me enlighten you. When one lays tile one should make sure that there is enough tile grout between each individual tile so that as floors “flex”, as they tend to do especially in warmer climates, there is enough space between the tiles to withstand the pressure.If there is not enough grout you will get tile-volcanoes! You would think that if I,a simple layman or laywoman,understand this concept then someone who dedicates their life to laying tile would  know this too! Apparently not!

Prep work

So what comes next? A trip to Interceramic where we try to match our current tile with what we already have or in this case find something that goes with our current colour scheme since they have stopped making our particular tiles years ago. After much discussion we settled on some tiles and put our order in for that day. Of course, we really only needed 1 box plus 4 more tiles for the job but Interceramic only sells by the box. We went back at 3pm to pick them up as they had to order them from Puerto Morelos and surprise surprise they sent the wrong colour. After arguing with the salesgirl for what seemed like an eternity, as anyone  who lives in Mexico knows- the client is always wrong, we finally decided that we would go to Puerto Morelos and pick them up.

Lorenzo chipping away

We now had our tiles and we had an albanil (workman) ready to work. Cesar had taped huge black plastic bags in our dining-room entrances to help combat the dust that would be flying around as Lorenzo, our albanil, banged away at our old tiles in order to remove them. Long story short dust was flying everywhere and the noise felt like chinese water torture as he chipped away for hours and hours. He laid the tiles and and we made sure that he put enough grout in between each one. Two and a half days and 2000 pesos later (around $170CDN) we finally have our house back to normal until the next tile-volcano explosion.

Finished product

I must mention that Lorenzo did a great job and arrived on time everyday..very rare. If you need a reliable handyman let me know.

Tell me about your home repair experiences.Have you had tile-volcanoes?

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