Sunday, November 25, 2012

Friday, November 23, 2012

Ahh, Thanksgiving Success!

Started the morning with the Macy's Day Parade, thanks to the hotel getting NY's NBC :)

Then had Mexican for lunch with Nicholas to celebrate. Continued with a long phone call with the Brother and getting in one good political debate with him. Something feels right in the world :)
I observed how people communicated before the internet by joining the family via Skype. 
Finished off with a Skype date with the family at the Thanksgiving table while they had dessert! So much to be thankful for and today was no exception. Being away didn't have to feel far- in fact, it felt like I was right there with them!

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Ruins

So, when we tried to make it to town to rent the car, again, after we had called and confirmed that they would hold one for us, no one was at the office when we arrived. It was locked up with a sign that someone who return at 10:15... AM? PM? Who knows, but it was already 11:45am.
Luckily, we had met a great cab driver and asked how much he would charge if he took us on our itinerary the next day. He quoted a fair price and we told him we would be in touch. While walking along the beautiful white sand, we decided it made sense to go with him. He was affiliated with the hotel, was really friendly and had suggested a way to do our full itinerary, plus more in less time than we had planned. We called him and told him to pick us up at 6am to start our adventure the next day!
Sunday morning, rolled around too quickly, but we were really excited to go to Chitchen-Itza, Tulum, a cenote and more. We both slept on the way to the first ruins- which were 2.5 hours away. When we arrived, in record time, we were one of the first ones there. Brilliant! We got our tickets, a coffee and decided to use a guide to get the most of our experience there. We learned soo much about the Mayans. They were simply a brilliant civilization. They were the first ones to create the zero, their calendars are still exact and their architectural feats are still stumping scientists and archeologists to this day. We also learned there is nothing to fear about the world ending. We are just going through the night phase of the earth and we are about to have a reset. Hence why all the earthquakes, hurricanes, etc. And, why people are focusing more on harvesting solar energy and finding ways to recycle and reuse.
After the informative guided tour at the completely empty Chichen Itza, we headed to the popular, local cenote. I originally wanted to avoid Ik-Kil cenote because of the crowds, but because Jaime planned our day so well, we arrived and there was just one other couple there. They soon left and we had the whole place to ourselves!! We stayed and enjoyed the beauty for a while then headed to our next destination: Coba. We did a brief drive-through of a colonial town, but continued on.
Coba was really interesting, as well. This time, we decided against a guide and walked the front half then caught a pedi-cab for the rest of the walk through the jungle paths. It was perfect to zip us through the sites, get a bit of a guided tour and get us out of there as quick as possible. We still had one more site we wanted to see and we would be cutting it close!
Jaime was surprised that we returned so quickly to the car. He asked if we climbed to the top of the structure, which we did- although raced up and down it was more truthful. So many people were nervously climbing or huffing up and sitting to rest on the way to the top of the pyramid while Nicholas and I powered through non-stop to the top. Took a couple of pics and practically ran down. My thighs are still killing me a few days after the fact, but we didn't want to miss the chance to climb it as this is the last year before they close it to tourists.
We were off to Tulum! Our final destination :) This is the site of the ruins right on the Caribbean- turquoise dream against spectacular ruins! We again powered through this one, as well. At this point, we were getting tired. I should say, I was getting tired and hey, ruins are ruins. Nicholas, of course, would have spent days at each one. He loves the history and is awestruck by these things. I am too, but to a much lesser degree.
After we got some great shots, we got back to the car and got home in record time. After a day in the beautiful weather, sun and lots of exercise, I was hardly surprised that I crashed for over 3 hours that late afternoon/early evening :) Talk about a great day!

Playacar, the first day or so

Nicholas running with volleyball
Nicholas and I spent a long weekend away in one of the most beautiful beaches we have ever been. Not that we have been to that many beaches, but we have seen quite a few and this was by far and away the most breathtaking.
The first time we caught site of the beach and its varying shades of turquoise, I thought for sure it was some sort of green screen! Holy wow! We had wandered into Playa del Carmen for a quick peek at the town and hurried straight to the beach to awe at the natural beauty and sheer crystal awesomeness of it all. We walked in the noon heat all the way back to our hotel just so we never had to leave the view of the water. Worth every wrinkle I earned, for sure!

Lets backtrack just a tad... we got in very late Friday night and the car that we had rented, had gone to another lucky family sometime before we arrived. We were one of 18 people who arrived with a reservation and no car. As you can imagine, people who were in from Argentina, Venezuela, and beyond, were not pleased nor amused that Thrifty left them high and dry. The two guys told us that the company had told them to turn off the lights and lock the doors so they would not have to deal with the two and a half dozen people who were going to arrive tired and angry. Nicholas and I had already made an agreement that nothing was going to ruin our time away so when the two poor guys left working the desk said they would drive us all to our respective hotels (ours close to an hour away), we decided we would take the offer and see about a car the next day. We had the sweetest Mexican man drive us from Cancun to Playacar. Before we left, he asked if it would be OK if he looked for the other couple that walked away angrily to find another car to rent. He told us that all the companies had overbooked and there were no cars at all left at the airport and the cost to Playa del Carmen would be very expensive. Of course we agreed and searched the airport parking lot and curbside for the couple, but could not find them. Again, just a genuinely nice older man. Soon we were off and on our way to the beach town. He was so kind, lighthearted and friendly. Obviously, he could have been annoyed at having to drive people late at night an hour one way and then come back and collect more people who showed up, but he was anything but. He was genuinely sorry about our troubles and said to talk to his colleague first thing in the morning and gave us contact info. First night, ended just right!

Saturday, we spent part of the day out of the resort and the rest at the beach. Nicholas played volleyball for a couple of hours while I swam in the stunning waters. The colors went from an almost transparent blue, to a soft turquoise to a deep deep blue. So gorgeous!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Mexican Holiday

This past weekend was a holiday in Mexico. Nicholas had the full weekend off, including Monday! To take advantage of that, we booked a trip to the Yucatan peninsula. We stayed in Playacar and journeyed to some of the famous Mayan ruins and to a cenote, a deep natural pit/sinkhole that is a natural, cool pool. Cenotes were used, at times, by the ancient Maya for sacrificial offerings.

We had never been to this part of Mexico, so it was new for both of us to explore!

First for everything

This will be my first year without a traditional Thanksgiving. To say I am a little bit sad might be an understatement, but that is the price you pay when you don't live in your home country.
Our T-Day schedule; still in use! 
Even though we have lived abroad for 3 years, the first two years I had my extended "family" of Ashley and Mike close by and we celebrated in Switzerland! It is Ashley's favorite holiday and she has been sharing it with her colleagues and friends since she moved overseas. I have been so blessed that I got to celebrate with them and it always felt like my home away from home. Making the holidays much more bearable- no, scratch that, enjoyable and memorable!
Hall for 50 Turkey day guests! 
Ashley is extremely generous and started out hosting a moderate amount of people her first year, then a larger group my first year and even larger last year. We almost had to stack people on top of each other for them to fit and eat! This year, Ashley truly outdid herself. She hosted a group of 50 this past Saturday, rented a hall and did the cooking herself with the help of Mike and their friend Jeff. Ashley has spread this American tradition to so many people and really shown what it stands for. I have to say, I was so happy to receive all her messages about the preparations and how things were going, but I was also missing it so deeply and sad not to be there. Staying up all night, listening to show tunes (another Ashley favorite), catching up, peeling bags and bags of potatoes and apples and prepping the turkeys.
2 of the 3 birds Ashley cooked this year! 
Some people think that this American tradition is about excesses. To me, it is my favorite because it is a time when your family and friends gather to give thanks and nothing else. There is no commercialization, there is no pressure. It is just a time to be together, share a good meal that many people prepared and remember all that we are blessed with. Whether that be memories, experiences, people, love, or even a thing or two.

Some of my favorite Thanksgivings were when I was little at my Grandma's house with my mom's brothers and sisters and all my cousins. I do not know how we all fit in that house and how there was always more than enough food for everyone. It was a small space for that many people, but because of that, it felt much more cozy and warm :)

This year, I have much to be thankful for. And missing my first Thanksgiving will surely make it more memorable each time I can celebrate it, whether it is with my family or friends. I am extremely grateful that this is only my first time to miss it thanks to Ashley. Stay tuned- I am still searching for somewhere to have at least a turkey sandwich, even if it is at Starbucks with their holiday lattes ;)

Friday, November 16, 2012


A friend recommended that I try out an adorable restaurant in a part of Polanco that had a very NY West Village feel. I have been wanting to try it out, but never wanted to go by myself. Jayme and I had a girls night last night and ate like queens! We started with the tortilla soup and a couple orders of fish and shrimp tacos. The food was delicious and so filling. We might have been able to just have one order of tacos and been fine. It was our last night out for a while, since Nicholas and I will go away for the long weekend and she heads to the US on Monday for Thanksgiving week. Jayme and I have gotten close since taking our Spanish class together and I sure will miss her while she is gone! What will I do when we permanently leave in a few weeks? Bitter sweet traveling the world and meeting so many amazing people. I enjoy every moment while we are in our new places and then feel that small tug at my heart when we leave. At least with technology, it never feels like my loved ones are very far!!

Gourmet Mexico

Saturday night, we met with another couple. This time, the husband attended IMD the year after Nicholas, so we had an automatic bond. They picked us up and took us to a great restaurant with a completely different atmosphere than the night before! This time, it was much more elegant and trendy. We still started off with margaritas and ate delicious Mexican food, but this time with a sophisticated twist. We really enjoyed our night, the conversation and the amazing food. It was fun to have back to back nights with the same cuisine served in completely different styles and settings!

Margaritas and Mariachis

Friday night, we went to dinner at Villa Maria in Polanco with a great couple. J, J and I arrived early to have margaritas and a snack while we waited for Nicholas to finish work. Holy moley do they serve an enormous margarita!!
This was my Tamarind Margarita that was bigger than my head! 
The restaurant is fun. They have signs up all over the place that are hilarious- about drinking and life and plays on words (a mexican favorite) but very very loud mariachi bands playing all night long. It was a bit hard to hold a conversation but we had a blast eating and drinking with great company!

Another Earthquake

The reddish circle is where the epicenter was
Very early this morning, around 3am, there was a magnitude 6 earthquake. I, of course, slept right through it. Nicholas was still working, and was in the office when the building started to sway. When he got home, shortly after the quake, he woke me up to see if I had felt it. Clearly the answer was no, as I was in a sleep stupor. We turned on the news to see that it was a strong one but that all was well in the city.

I cannot believe I missed another one! I am not asking for earthquakes, but if they are going to be so frequent, I would like to experience one- so long as it is just a minor one :)

cuatro estaciones

Here in the D.F., the people say that every day contains the four seasons and it is no joke.
Las cuatro estaciones, de Johannes Itten

The morning is super cold: brrrr, welcome, winter.

The late morning to noonish: ahh, pleasant. (for 15 minutes) hello, spring!

The afternoon: blazing heat. Oh, you're here again, summer...

The evening: brisk chill (nice for about 5 minutes before it gets too cold) hi, fall.

I suffer everyday, because no matter what I wear, I am either cold or hot to the extreme. There are about 20 minutes of pure bliss. I do dress as an onion, as they say here, but my layers are never sufficient enough or are too much! With less than a month to go, I am hoping by the time I leave, I will have gotten down how to dress appropriately here :)

Christmas Season

They still have their day of the dead altars out... 
Here in Mexico, they do not celebrate Thanksgiving, so the day after el dia de los muertos starts the holiday season. Queu up the Christmas tunes, folks. Seriously. For over two weeks now, Christmas music is playing in the coffee shops, stores, and on the radio. Without the stopgap of Thanksgiving, they go straight into the holiday season. I have caught myself singing these songs out loud in the coffee shop all week. I don't even hold back anymore, I have to get them out!! :)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tax Evasion: improving eye sight and culture

That's a lot of musicals! 
I do not believe in tax evasion, but a theater owner in northern Spain came up with an innovative way to avoid the new tax on theaters by selling carrots instead of tickets. With each pricey carrot purchase ($16) you get free admission to a show. Theater tickets are now being taxed at 21% whereas carrots, a staple, are only being taxed at 4%. Say what you will, but this is quite clever. If the Spaniards continue to come up with interesting and creative ideas like this one, they may not have to worry about increasing taxes.

Monday, November 12, 2012

It is the little things :)

Just missing the pineapple! *
Lunch date of al pastor tacos with Nicholas and a short walk this afternoon. Makes for a great Monday!

*Photo borrowed from lauhound

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


This morning I met with an IMD partner from 2011 who lives in DF with her husband and small children. She picked me up and took me to a great restaurant for breakfast where we chatted for several hours and drank a gallon of coffee. During breakfast, she received a phone call from her mom and said she had to take it because her mom never called during the day. They spoke briefly then she hung up. She asked me if I felt 'el temblor'. I had no idea what she was talking about- my Spanish failed me in the moment. She explained what an earthquake was in Spanish and demonstrated by acting it out a bit. I laughed and shook my head, still confused. "No. Ahora? Aq?" I asked. She confirmed that there had just been one and her mom had heard about it on the news and wanted to make sure that her and her family were OK.

Turns out, the earthquake was in Guatemala but was so strong it was felt all the way here in Mexico City. DF actually does have quite a few earthquakes, mostly because it is a city built on an old lakebed and is considered one of the most active trenches in the world; recording more than 90 earthquakes a year. However, most are very mild and people continue what they are doing. After the destruction and death from the famous earthquake that hit in 1985, all the buildings are now properly designed to handle them. Phew! You learn something new everyday. 

*Donde te agarro el temblor? = Where were you during the earthquake (more or less)

OH... IO

Ok, so I did not cast a ballot in OH, but in VA (still much more worthwhile than NYC and DC like previous votes I cast).

If you haven't read this yet, take a second to read why you you should care and love Ohio everyday, not just once every four years! A few I might have left out include the hot dog and Skyline Chili... Other than that, nothing but love.


Four years ago, I worked the Convention for the Senator from IL who was running to be the first African American president and who promised Hope and Change. Four years ago, I woke up very early to try to be the first in my NYC neighborhood to vote for Barack Obama. I, of course, was met with a very long line and was not even close to being in the first hundred even though I was up and in line much earlier than the doors would be. Four years ago, I boarded a train for Washington, DC to join my friends and colleagues, many of whom I had worked with four years previously on a failed campaign, to finally share in the victory of a president we could all believe in. Four years ago, I was filled with Hope and looked forward to Change. Not just in my own country that I love and admire, but also in the world. Four years ago, I burst with pride when my home state of Ohio went for Obama and we all knew then that we had just elected the next President of the US.

Four years have now past. Many things have changed and many people have become disheartened, disappointed and deflated. The hope and change that they had voted for seemed too small. Four years of hardships. I think too many of us have forgotten some of the very big ups:

  1. First thing Obama did on his first day was sign the Lily Ledbetter Bill, EQUAL PAY LAW :) 
  2. Passage of Hate Crime Bill making it a Federal Crime to commit an assault based on sexual orientation
  3. Extend Government Sponsored Health Insurance for 4 million children
  4. Reform of College Student Loans 
  5. Tripled size of America's Service Programs
  6. Rescue of Auto Industry and Cash for Clunkers increased auto sales 
  7. Signing into law the Stimulus Bill- 
    1. single largest tax cut ever
    2. largest investment in education ever
    3. largest investment in clean energy 
    4. largest investment in infrastructure since Eisenhower
  8. Health Care Reform- after 100 years of trying to achieve comprehensive health reform
  9. Appointed two women to the Supreme Court Justices- including first Hispanic
  10. Star Treaty, cutting US and Russian nuclear arsenals by 1/3
  11. 911 Responders Health Bill
  12. Repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell
  13. All American Combat Troops out of Iraq, as promised
  14. Killed Osama Bin Laden
  15. Escalated economic sanctions on Iran to a degree never seen before
  16. Came out in favor of Marriage Equality and same-sex 
  17. Immigration Reform- Stopped Deportation of kids who were here through no fault of own
  18. Stock Market Doubled
  19. Unemployment under 8%
  20. 32 month of private sector job growth
If you want to see more, go here for another list, this time of 50 accomplishments. 

Whether you see the glass half full, half empty or this is the wrong glass entirely for you; I am proud to have cast a vote for President Obama four years ago and today*. 

*Well, last week since I mailed in my ballot. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Great quote that still holds true today:

I met those of our society who had votes in the ensuing election, and advised them, 
One, to vote without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worthy;  
Two: To speak no evil of the person they voted against;
and Three: To take care their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on the other side.
                                                                               John Wesley, Oct 6, 1774
If you have the privilege and right to cast a vote in the elections tomorrow, do not waste that honor. Get out and do your duty. Whether the next president is our current one or the GOP candidate, let's try to follow John Wesley's thinking and respect the votes of our neighbors, friends and countrymen. 

Being outside of the country, it is interesting to see our presidential election from a different lens. The media is saying that "This election is America's choice but the decision affects us all." 

Whoa. No pressure, US. Get out and VOTE! :) 

Thursday, November 1, 2012


Yay! Tomorrow night, Nicholas and I are going away for a long weekend to the beach. The Day of the Dead is Friday and is a work holiday here. Nicholas has been working for two weeks straight, so he definitely needs a break. All we have on the itinerary is to hit the pool & beach, see the cliff divers and eat some good food. I am sure we will have some stories and great pictures to post when we get back. Looking forward to spending time with my best friend!

Dinner with a new friend

Last night, I met up with a new friend from my class to have dinner in our neighborhood. I planned to have a drink and a meal and be home at a reasonable time, but the two of us got talking and we spent 5 hours chatting and laughing! Her fiance had to work late, and as she knows Nicholas is never home, she figured the two of us could spend some time out together. What a blast!
We went to Karisma Cantina had delicious Mexican food and stuck to coronas. At the end of the night, our waiter brought over two shots of really smooth tequila on the house. It was quite good but definitely not needed after all the drinking we did. This morning was a tad rough, as I haven't been out that late on a school night in quite some time. Definitely a sign I am getting older... sigh ;)