New Centro Plaza

As I was sitting here working on the computer Akilean came up to me holding our younger kitten and says to me in his adddorable 4 year old stutter... "Mom there are eggs in the cats tummy and when the eggs break there will be more cats like this one." He said it so matter of fact and excited of his knowledge. It was really cute. I did not have the heart to tell him that Hobbs is a boy. And I certainly did not want to go into the whole explination.

Actually, Akilean had been really cute today. We walked into town like normal to pick up a few things at the fruiteria and some cat food. We walked over to our favorite place to get ice cream and juice. We got 2 bags of juice, one pineapple and one horchata. Then we walked over to see all of the developments at the new park. Akilean looks so cute drinking from his little bag. And his hair really has gotten long. It is usually in a braid but my hands are kaput after the wedding.

The empty space next door to city hall and the HSBC bank right in the middle of town has had a total transformation. We knew it was going to happen soon and we are glad that it is done.

When we first got here, this area was a empty dirt space used mostly for parking. There was some play equipment but it was in really bad shape. The tetter-totter either was missing a seat - YIKES! or missing a handle. The swings were made of that old spintered wood and very few had both sides attached and the monkey bars where missing the rungs to the ladder to reach it. It was a sad site.

About 2 months ago we noticed that there were some changes. It was being cleared and marked out. It was great to see it take shape. And then about 2 weeks ago the chainlink fence that had closed it off came down and it suddenly became more of a plaza. There were the begginings of a nice area.

Well today we got to see the almost finished project. There is a large paved square right off the main road and there are great large pathways leading off of it towards the basketball quart and the old square area. This is right across from my favorite spot for helado y paletas it is called Reyna de Michoacan.

The park has a new play structure that is really nice. It is that sort of plastic that does not get too hot in the sun. That is very important around here. The park by our house is ALL METEL. - It sucks. The other thing that I love about this park is that they did sand underneith the shole area. That is perfect.

There were beautiful Mayan statues around but 1 did not see any garbage cans. Hopefully that will be fixed. This is going to be a wonderful place to hang out. I am sure there will be lost of fun events in the updoming year in this centro.

Everything is almost finished and they are setting up for the swearing in on the new president of Tulum. Marciano is currently the president of the Ejido and won the election by a landslide. He is the very first president of Tulum since it just becamse a municipality last year.

This park goes well with the other new developments that have sped to their completion. For example, the road was expanded from Playa del Carmen, all the way thorugh Tulum and further south towards Carillo Puerto. With this has come more Topes.

For anyone who lives here, they know that sign for Topes (speed bumps) That is because, if you are lucky enough to have a sign at all, it is positioned directly at the tope. This is basically a "here is what you are about to experience" sign as you frantically try to hit the breaks and being unsucsesful, go flying 2 meters into the air in a car the size of a tin can.

My favorite topes are the ones the ones on dark unlit roads with no sign or paint. That is a thrill! Some places are better- the topes have paint, a sign and a warning sign! That is very exciting. So know we have a bunch of topes in town.

There is also a large water feature at the first round-a-bout on the main road. I do not have a pic yet.

Cabanas Copal, Tulum, Mexico

My friends came into town from the USA as we all prepare to head to my good friend Jordan's wedding in Oxzutcab. The first part of this very adventurous week started with stay at Cabanas Copal.

We got some great pictures of Cabanas Copal. I have heard about this place and it is one of the places that seems to be better known and very well advertised. I know that they have a range of cabanas, some with more amenities then others. I have not seen these rooms but I am sure that they are nice.

My friends room was so beautiful. Very simple and fresh. There was a fitted mosquito net (more needed sometimes of the year then pretty) and white sheets. There is no way that you are going to be able to keep sand out of your bed with a sand floor but who cares.

The view of the beach was awesome. They had a slight block in the view from the message cabana but that was fine. The Beach in front of the hotel is beautiful. It is very clean and soft. There are some areas of the beach that are more rocky and not as cleared but this spot was perfect. There were little palapas with lounge chars set around the jungle walk to their restroom was also stunning.
I think that there are rooms that have their own bathroom but this was the least expenive room and it was perfect. There was a very cute little pool area and everyone was very nice.

To one side the beach becomes more rock and hill so that is not the best "walk on the beach" direction. It also gets dark at night so you need to be careful and I would bring a flash light. But the whole area around the hotel was magical.

This reminds me... please do not come to Tulum, stay in an eco chic resort and throw trash and ciggerets on the beach. I saw some people do this and it pissed me off. Even my 4 year old ran after them saying to, "you forgot your garbage." He sould not for a minute

My friends also ate at the restaurant one night and said it was good. They would have walked a little more that night but it was pretty dark.

My friend Alex went camera happy. He was snapping pictures of everything. Perfect by me though. It is good to have them for the blog. Plus I forget a little sometimes just how breathtaking it is here.

Important info about safety in Tulum and the Mayan Rivera and Mexico in general.

There have been countless blogs, articles, forums and talks about if it is safe to travel the Mayan Rivera or safe to visit Mexico or safe to visit Tulum. Almost every article that I have read says the same thing... that at least in most parts of Mexico and especially here in the Yucatan peninsula that it is safe place to travel. It is unlikely that you are going to encounter a drug lord or be kidnapped from your resort.

However, there are many sites claiming that there have been many deaths here in Mexico and I think that these articles have very valid points.

Most of the focus on safety in Mexico has been related to the escalating war on drug trafficking and the cartels. Concern over shooting in the streets and kidnappings have been the thing that most people have been searching for when they landed on my blog. These types of crimes are INCREDABLY rare here in the Mayan Rivera. There are deaths that happen here or crimes that do happen here.

On comment that was left on friends blog referred to a number of deaths that have occurred in Mexico and most of them were related to 2 sorts of instances. 1) when too much alcohol is consumed and accidents take place and 2) and accidents or mishaps cause serious injury or death caused by construction or regulations that would not be allowed in the USA. In both of these cases there have been complaints about reaction and confidence in medical assistance.

Okay... in the first instance--- this is the most common factor in accidental deaths in Mexico and crimes in general. The people who come on vacation here are coming to relax and let loose. The problem is that they forget that this is not Pleasure Island. This is a country and state with laws and rules that all people must abide by. People forget that when they come on vacation and let loose. If you are wasted in a pool- you have a much higher probability in drowning or falling off the balcony. If you are so wasted that you cannot see or walk straight, some one is going to see you as an easy target for theft. And trust me, this is very often NOT someone working at the hotel. Most people I know are not going to sacrifice their job at a resort for some petty theft. Resort jobs are a hot commodity here.

If you are drunk and want to go buy drugs, there is a good chance that you will end up in jail. And especially with the current situation, Mexico is much harder on offenders then the USA. This is not corruption or an attempt to coerce a bribe, but a direct result of how serious Mexico is taking this war on drugs and the need to fix it. Long gone are the days when every single person in the government and police force is on the cartel payroll. Although they still do exist the current and past administrations have been working hard to fix these problems.

The other problem is injury or death caused by accidents. There was a tragic story about a young boy falling down an elevator shaft, another about a child getting caught in the suction of a pool drain and others. These accidents and deaths are very tragic. I think it is important for people to understand that you not in the USA. While I would love it if there were more regulations and safety standards, there are not. That is just the way that it is.

The resorts may have the drains that have large suctions- I always keep my kids hair up when in the pool and no long ties on the suits. Everywhere is mostly tile and seeing as most people are swimming -they are very slippery. On the street, there are large holes random sections of re bar sticking up out of nowhere. This can cause painful and serious injury or death. You have to be aware of this. It took me by surprise when I first got here. But that is just the way that it is. Be careful.

My favorite line in a Frommers book about this area is. I cannot find it s I am paraphrasing here... There is very little law suits in Mexico, but there is a lot of freedom in Mexico. You are free to fall into any hole you want to. Be careful and aware of your surroundings.

Have a safe trip!

I am back with lots to tell!!!

I am back from one of the most memorable weeks of my life. I have so much to tell and show about the last few days that it is going to take several posts. Please stay tuned for all of the details. Let's just say that this weekend included farming, new babies, a wedding, several beers, scandal, a fight, a priest taking off- decorations being hung by 5 frantic white chicks in an ALL Mayan town in the middle of the Yucatan peninsula and the baking of 2 wedding cakes. There were also caves, hiking through ruins, being followed by monkey that swung from 4 meters away, exploring old haciendas, swimming with bats in cenotes, seeing the serpent on the side of Chichen Itza's El Castillo during the spring equinox- you name it, we did it.

Seeing as this was a weekend full of kids, cooking, translating, craziness, fun and a lot of cervezas... it is going to take me some time to get it up.

Sorry for those of you who have emailed with questions about this beautiful area- I will be returning emails soon.

Is it safe to travel in Mexico? The quiz that will answer that questions.

With how many people have been searching "Is Tulum Safe? Is it safe to travel in the Mayan Rivera?" There have been some great blogs about it from all over the country. This is one of the greatest ones. It is from Midwesterner in Mexico. I thought that this would would make everyone smile as much as I did.

So... if you are wondering if it is safe to travel in Tulum or if it is safe in the Mayan Rivera? Here is your test.

The Official Quiz for Determining your Risk of Violence in Mexico
(please answer yes or no to the following questions)

1. I am the head of a powerful drug cartel.
2. I am employed by a recent drug cartel start-up, and my title is “Business
3. Development Manager, Mexico”.
4. I cannot leave the house without my 3 diamond rings, diamond stud earrings, and emerald necklace.
5. I only travel by limo.
6. I insist on wearing shorts, sandals with socks pulled up to mid-calf, a Hawaiian shirt, and a floppy hat at all times, while using my obnoxious American “outside voice”.
7. I have a tendency to flash wads of cash while trying to pay for a $10 peso bottle of water with a $1000 peso bill.
8. I travel strictly using libre taxis hailed off the street in Mexico City, like the green VW bugs, because I don’t want to pay the extra $30 (+/-) pesos for a safer sitio taxi.
9. I am a high-level Mexican law enforcement official actively engaged in the fight against drugs and am not on the narco payroll.
10. I prefer to drive long trips between cities in Mexico only at night, and I am too cheap to pay the tolls to drive on the safe, well-maintained cuota highways.
11. I insist on going out drinking by myself, getting loaded, then stumbling around the back alleys of Mexico City singing “You are my sunshine” at the top of my lungs.
12. I sell drugs to a circle of depressed, soccer-moms in a US suburb, and I am traveling to Mexico to take advantage of the crazy dollar/peso exchange rate to find a new dealer for my drug supply.
13. I am visiting Mexico to conduct a major business transaction for which I intend to convert $20,000 USD into $306,000 pesos in public at the airport currency exchange desk.
14. I ask taxi drivers to take me on tours past the homes of local drug lords, where I get out of the taxi and take photos from the middle of the street during broad daylight.
15. I insist on traveling to parts of Mexico City not mentioned in guide books or specifically mentioned as areas full of criminals, like Tepito, a.k.a. the “Thieves’ Market”.

OK, end of quiz! Time to review your score.

If you answered yes to #1, #2, or #8: I strongly recommend you avoid travel into Mexico, leave Mexico if you are already here, or seriously consider a new line of work.

If you answered yes to #3, #4, or #6: perhaps you have forgotten that you are visiting a country where the daily minimum wage for 2009 is $54.80 pesos. That is $3.58 USD PER DAY at the current exchange rate. Please bear this in mind and stop flaunting your money like a fool.

If you answered yes to #7 or #9: have you checked the exchange rate lately?? During the 8 months we have been here, it has gone from 10 pesos / 1 dollar to 15.3 pesos / 1 dollar. Stop being a cheap ass and spend the extra pesos to pick the safe option.

And finally, if you answered yes to #5, #10, #11, #12, #13 or #14: you are simply not very smart and probably shouldn’t be allowed to travel, period.

I hope this insightful quiz has eased your fears about travel to Mexico, as long as you are not an idiot or a criminal.

This should give you a clear idea of whether you should come here on not. I hope that it was helpful.

Fun festival in town

Tonight Ruben's restaurant was closed so we got to take the kids into town for the festival that is going on. I am not sure what this one is for but... we had a great time. One thing we have learned about Mexico is the understanding of "Mexico time" Now- I knew a lot of this already having a Mexican husband that has not been on time for anything in his life (even an hour late to our wedding- his whole family) But that is just more normal here. You NEVER show up to a wedding on time or you will sit there by your selves for at least an hour or 2.

With all of the fun festivals and carnivals and what not they are a lot of fun to go to but I am more of a at home person at night- when I have the kids. But this night we waited until 7 or 8 and started to head into town.

Now for all of the people that are googling ... Is Tulum safe, Safety in the Mayan Rivera etc. Yes we walked with a 4 year old and 5 year old at night to town (about 20 min walk) on unlit roads and back home without a fear in the world. This town is very safe. I walk all over with the kids and any hour of the day or night and never feel a concern. Just making sure to use common sense.

Anyway... So we walked all over the festival. It is so much fun to see all of the stuff for sale. It is like an entire store unfolds on the streets. This is the place to buy anything and everything that you need for your home or family. Some way cheap and some very nice. There was the household wing, the cloths wing, the toys wing and the food area.

I especially loved the large display of huge knives piled high in brightly colored baskets right at thigh level. Not the smartest idea around a bunch of kids. And these are the places that your kids are running around going crazy- filled with sugar.

We grabbed one of our favorite carnival foods, corn on the cob with mayo and cotija cheese (sort of like a dried Parmesan) We would have put chili on it too but we were sharing with the kids. I am not the biggest fan of mayo but it is a good snack.

the kids played in the courtyard where the band was setting up to play. For a minute I thought that we would be able to see the music but the I remembered... we are in Mexico- the music was not going to start until 11:30. I have kids that are almost catatonic after 9:30. Even that is way late for them. The kids had a great time running around and playing tag.

Akilean and another little boy were playing with cars. Akilean's all time favorite activity. Some day I want to get him a remote control car. he would love that.

After a little while we grabbed the kids and started to head home. We let each of the kids pick out a 20 peso toy. Akilean obviously got a little car and Lena got a hair clip. As is typical with Mexican carnival toys... they both broke by the next morning. Oh well. We had a great time.

After a long delay

Well, 1 thing that I will say about here... they do not let a lot of time go by between your bill being due and it being shut off. But, our anniversary dinner was worth it! Not that it was that extravagant but anything feels extravagant after the budget we have been living on these past many months. The other reason we ran totally out of money is.... We finally paid the 10,000 pesos to legally transfer our land from the ejido to us. This was the final step that we needed to do to fully own the land. (well, that is not entirely true. We still get to deal with Mexico City, and this being Mexico I am sure that this is not done.) But it at least feels done right now and it did take all of our money.

But that is okay. We are back up and going again. I am excited to catch up on all of my blogger friends. This whole blogging thing has really evolved for me. I was never a real blogger or even diary keeper. But I had some cousins start one and I thought that it would be a good way to share pictures with Ruben's family when we moved away. But when we all came to Mexico it became the main way for our loved ones to know we were okay, see what we were doing in this far away place, and to watch just how long we were going to let our son's hair get. -- PS- it is still going. Soon he will be able to donate to Locks for Love 2 times with 1 hair cut. (you need 10 inches) But he looks so cute.As you can see... it is getting pretty long. but it is usually in a braid which makes him look so cute. (I think)

When I first started this blog I did not think that anyone would really read it. I did not think anyone would care. So I just wrote anything that I wanted. Our immigration lawyer said to keep a diary from the time that we left and since typing is easier for me then holding a pen, this works. But I am amazed that on average I have about 60 people a day read this thing. Now granted that is double almost tripled from when I posted about how safe it is here in Tulum and safe in the Rivera Maya.
By the way... Yes it is very safe to travel in the Mayan Rivera.

But the one thing that I have been most surprised about is the amount of friends that I have "meet" There are so many people, people that would like if we met at a party in San Francisco anyway, and here we are in the middle of Mexico meeting on the Internet. There are so many people that are here for me. God bless the Internet. And there are so many people who read and leave comments and have a genuine interest and concern for us. They want to know how and what we are doing and offer suggestions about things that we will like. This makes me very happy. For example, I just found out about the Tulum Social Club. There are a bunch of people who live here, wanna live here, have business or family here or just know that this is a kick ass town. I am excited to find out more about it.

well, anyway, I am going to go catch up on what has been going on in everyone's lives this past week. So it is off to my blog role. :) I just want to say thank you to all the people who do read, who comment and who just see the blog and say.." I hope all is going well for that young lady." Thank you!

And get ready for the onslaught of posts and photos of what we have been doing with our time.

Laundry on the roof and dishes in the back yard

There are something that I really love about living in Tulum. My daily life is so different then what I was used to. For one- the kids being ABSOLUTLY drenched to the bone in the front yard is a daily thing.

The construction of homes in Tulum, especially for rental homes, does not use a lot of extra materials. Things such as closets, shelves, counters or cupboards are simply not the norm. In our old house, our kitchen was literally a small sink that stuck crooked off the wall. There were no shelves in any bathroom nor any.... well, anything anywhere.

Now the house we are in now is so much better. The bedrooms each have a few shelves and a hanging rod and the kitchen has at least a counter! This is very nice. We have made our own make shift stuff around to work for now. But all of this limited counter and shelf stuff has lead me to do things a little differently.

For starters, I have to do my dishes outside, in the washbasin that many Mexican families traditionally wash their cloths in. It works really well and I simply have small table with a towel on it to dry. When I am standing outside on a hot day, thankfully in the shade, taking all the time in the world to do my dishes. I get to relax and take my time and it is not a pain at all. Well, that is not the right word. It hurts my hands like crazy but there in nothing that does not. More accurate is that it makes this chore much more enjoyable.

It has become the same for doing the laundry. We wanted to enjoy our back yard area more so Ruben built me laundry lines on the roof. When I come back from the USA, I am going to bring some fabric to surround the roof. This will create a more private area. That way we can sit up there and make a nice little sit spot and it will be blocked from the street. Not to mention that people won't be able to see my cloths flopping around the roof. It is going to look very cool when we are done

But that is the other thing I love about living here. Hanging my cloths on the cloths line is such a relaxing thing. I mean, I have no rush, I am in the sun, I can see the jungle behind my house and hear all sorts of birds. (those are annoying early in the morning though)

Once I get roof more set up I will take pictures. For now... my cloths are out for all to see. but luckily the cloths dry so fast that I do not really need to worry.

I love living in Tulum.

Another Great Sunday at the Beach!!!

Yesterday was a great day. In the beginning of the day the kids curled up in a fort they made and watched cartoons and Ruben and I laid in bed, drank coffee and watched The West Wing dvds. This is one of my all time favorite shows. I love Washington DC and I love politics so this show was always fun for me.

I especially love watching it and other Washington DC set movies due to the latest trip that I had there with Ruben. It was so amazing. There were a lot of amazing memories but the best was was renting bikes and riding all over the mall late at night and seeing all of the monuments lit up. We had some pretty amazing experiences. Here is the whole story...

This is a few of my favorite pics from the trip.

But anyway... so Ruben and I watched The West Wing, episode after episode after episode. It was great. I cannot wait to see season 5 and 6 again. These are the ones that I have not seen in forever!

We then packed up a some chicken salad, some chips and our massive bottle of water and headed off to the beach. We got lucky that Ruben did not have to work today. When the hotel is not at 100% then they will close 1 of the restaurants and everyone in that restaurant gets the days off. Nice when you have a flat fee pay. :)

The beach was very populated. Sunday's are the day most families spend together. There were lots of kids running around and lots of fruit being sold. We pack our own, but there is nothing like fresh cut fruit on a hot day at the beach.

We built another great sandcastle. The sand here is a lot softer then we are used to so we are learning how to build really good castles here. Ruben kept getting asked where our permit was to build on the beach. :) I thought that this was a really good castle.

The kids ran around chasing a kite. It was really cute. I think that we will have to buy a kite the next time we are in the USA. There is certainly a lot of wind here.
After a while we headed home and finished off our chicken soup we made the other day and watched the movie Casino which I had never seen. It was a great movie.

Our anniversary & a 3 year reunion

Jessica arrived in Playa del Carmen after a bit of drama with the flights. We spent a really nice afternoon in Playa and ate some of my favorite tortilla soup. As you can see Akilean LOVES this soup. And it was the perfect warm up after our late afternoon dip in the ocean.
Once we got the kids back to the house it did not take us long to pass out. We were all really tired from a long day in the sun.

The past 36 hours have been absolutely AMAZING! Yesterday was Ruben and my 7 year anniversary. Now, for those of you who were at our wedding, you are probably confused. Since it was only 3 years ago and in October that we got married. But 7 years ago Ruben and I knew we had to be together. Our wedding came so much later and involved our whole family, so we consider that more of our family anniversary. When you consider that the only people in our wedding were our parents and our kids. :) But March 5th is when we consider our relationship to have kicked off. We knew that this was not some little thing!

So yesterday was the best day. My friend Jessica flew into to town and came to visit. I have not seen her since my wedding day over 3 years ago. It has been so great. And much to my surprise Ruben got the day off work. First things first, we got some tacos from one of our favorite taco stands, (you know the one Mom and Neal) grabbed some beers and headed to the beach.

We went to the beach at El Pariso. There are a few more people down this way and more palm trees on the beach for shade. It was absolutely wonderful. There were a few scary moments when we thought that the clouds were going to take over but nope!!!

Ruben and the kids built a great sand castle and Akilean had a great time playing in it. Ruben thinks that it is his best one to date.

Kennedy and Ruben played soccer on the beach, we got a tan and every one swam in the ocean. It was perfect day. Not to mention that we got a very early start so that is always nice.

After a while we headed home and everyone spent the next while trying to get sand out of their hair. Jessica and I headed into town to look around the shops while the kids played with some friends and Ruben took a little nap. He does not like getting dragged around to all the stores and just browse at all the fun stuff.

Once we collected Ruben, we took the kids to my friends house who was kind enough to watch them for us and we went out to dinner and it was one of my favorites and it was Ruben's best meal yet. We ate at Nero di Sole. This is a wonderful Italian place right in the middle of town and it has such a great atmosphere. The dinner was amazing. They also have a little hotel but I have not seen it or know anyone who stayed there. We have eaten at this spot a few times but we usually get a little pizza to share. This was wonderful.

Our dinner was amazing. We split some marinated shrimp with what was supposed to be feta cheese but it was not. It was probably some mozzerella shreds. Oh well. We also had a caprese salad. For dinner Jessica's red snapper was perfect, fresh and flavorful. Ruben had wonderful steak medalions in a green peppercorn sauce and that was great. and I got shrimp in a garlic sauce. All were served with roasted potatoes and a little veg that was more of a garnish. At the end, even though we were not hungry but Ruben knows that tiramisu is my favorite and it is our anniversary after all.

After our killer dinner we went and had a drink at a few spots in the area. There are so many cute bars that are all closed during the day so I have never seen them. It was really fun. We went to one spot that was going to have a flamenco show but we headed out before that.

We headed home, grabbed the kids and all hung out at the house for a while. It was a wonderful anniversary! Jessica is leaving today to Ozkutcab to see Jordan but I will see them all soon for the wedding.

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