Thursday, December 29, 2011

Life's a Beach!

Adios Cozumel, Hola Cancun!

After four days on lovely Cozumel, I and my BFF arrived Cancun, our final destination of our trip.

Cozumel gave us a whole bunch of unforgettable memories and we met people we will never forget. If someone forced me to pick my three favorite things about our visit to Cozumel it would be: Diving the Palancar Reef, Diego and Eric's family and fantastic food! If you ask me to rank amongst the three, I will have to refuse!

As you might know, we received our PADI Open Water Diving certificates just last week. Two days ago we did our first dive as certified divers. We booked a two-tank dive with the Deep Blue Dive Shop and we found ourselves missing our beloved Dive Master from Tulum. But brave as only unknowledgable can be, we braced ourselves and made our deepest dive to date, with a new Dive Master and a  new dive group. It was absolutely amazing! Aldo, the Dive Master, was reassuring and calm. Our dive group was made up of the two of us, Mike and Rose from Denver and a Canadian. The Dive Shop receptionist, Ricardo, also joined us and added a big smile to the whole experience. We loved every second of it! We still have a lot to learn, but we are starting to understand why people who love diving, love diving!

We were lucky to have such a great experience when diving, but the great experience of Cozumel would not have been possible without Eric, Diego and their family.

Let me introduce Eric. He is a young adult who is still at school, but during his spare time (read school breaks) he works as a receptionist at the hotel where we stayed from 8am to 3 pm, and later at night he works at his family restaurant from 7 pm to 11 pm. It was such a pleasure to see his big smile every morning and he was ever so helpful with absolutely EVERYTHING. No task was too big och too small.

Eric's father, Diego, ran a family restaurant just a block from the hotel. Calling it a restaurant is a slight exaggeration, it's more like a food cart, some plastic furnitures under a plastic tarp ceiling. Diego and family was just as lovely as their son. And they were also ever so helpful and service minded. They made us feel so welcomed, it was difficult to say good bye after our four day stay.

This brings me to the third thing I mentioned, the food! I love good food! Good food can made any day a better day. And if good food is combined with dirt cheap prices, I am in heaven! Diego's family restaurant served the freshed fish and shrimp tacos I have ever encountered. The cost of three hearty tacos was 45 pesos! If you had the pork or beef taco, it would only cost you 36 pesos! Insane! We ate at Diego's everyday except one. I have missed his food at every meal ever since!

While on the subject, I should mention another fish and seafood restaurant on Cozumel. Pricier, but heavenly good was "La Perlita" restaurant. Our hotel manager sent us there for our Christmas Day dinner and  Oh Boy, was it worth every single pesos! I had the best octopus of my life!

I could go on and on about Cozumel, but it's time to leave that island behind, not only physically, but emotionally. We are now in Cancun and about the celebrate New Year's Eve in a few days. Who knows what new adventures await us. The only thing we do know, is that we will fly back to San Francisco from Cozumel on Jan 2nd and hopefully we will have enough time to swing by Diego's for our final meal in Mexico.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Crowded seas

The ocean is vast. Too vast to comprehend. But now I know it can be crowded, too crowded to explain.

Theres and I did our last dive with our Dive Master yesterday. It was us and a Mexican family made up of a father, a teenaged daughter and a teenaged son. The sea was pretty rough, but calm enough to venture out to the coral reef outside Tulum.

All is well until we are realize there is some logistical problems. First of all, the currents were surprisingly strong, secondly, my eqipment was too big and thirdly, three of us (me included) were VERY interested in swimming right behind the dive master. Theres soon realizes that three of us were fighting for the same spot and decided to take a step back. She's very clever. I, on the other hand, am willing to fight for what I want. If you've read my previous blog posts, this should come as no surprise. However, the teenaged son is more than willing to give me a fight for my money. The result is as expected, we were like two swimming bumper-cars throughout both dives (45 min each).

So, we did a two tank dive. Between dives we change tanks, but also got ourselves to a new location. I started to feel a bit seasick, but stupid as I am, I pretended everything was fine. Everyone else looked fine and I didn't want to create a scen. After a while, Theres asks me how I'm doing and I fess up. Appearently I'm not the only one feeling the force of the ocean. She's not doing too hot either but even worse, the father and the son are turning green.

The dive master realizes we were all about to hurl and hurried us into the water. What a difference it made! Everything felt a 1000 times better and the second dive was great. It was still very crowded and at one point the five of us were like rag-dolls in a tumble dryer. It's a good thing I don't have a issue beeing VERY close to people I don't know.

It happened at least twenty more things I would like to mention, but there is no time and I very much doubt there is any interest. All in all, it was fun, funny and a great experience.

One last note. I can't write about December 23rd without mentioning Theres' birthday. I had the privilage to celebrate my BFF in Mexico with gifts, drinks and awesome food. I hope she had a great birthday, cause her happiness means the world to me.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Sun, sand and diving

Greetings from Mexico! And a special shout-out to fellow divers out there!

A few days ago, I and my BFF, Theres, arrived in sunny Mexico. Our flight landed on a sun-drenched Cozumel and one drink, one ferry and one bus ride later, we arrived in Tulum and eventually made our way to Zamas Hotel. As we walked the sandy path leading down to the reception, we found ourselves in our own slice of heaven. After our last trip to Thailand, we were afraid we would find ourselves disappointed if our accomodation in Mexico would be any less than the perfect bunglow we had last year. But there were no reasons to be afraid. Our beach bungalow in Tulum is AMAZING!

But our accomodation is only one aspect to our vacation. Our diving adventure is another. I didn't even know I wanted to dive until Theres suggested it last year. And where better to do it than Mexico? In the company of a couple from Switzerland and our diving instructor, we have learnt all the basic techniques and slowly, but surely, we're starting to feel comfortable and in control of our diving. I will admit that I was a bit overwhelmed after the first dive but maybe I should not have expected to master the art of diving after 2 hours of diving. This afternoon we'll do our written exam and we still have one open water dive to complete, but after that, we'll have our PADI Open Water Certifications!

The only little mishap is that my camera decided the diving was a bad idea. Before you conclude that I must be stupid to expect otherwise, you should know that I have a waterproof sports camera, recommended to use while diving. I'm not sure what happened, but when I opened the battery compartment a small ocean poured out. I'm pretty sure it's not going to recover from it's diving injury, unlike Theres, who is well on her way to full recovery after a very rough encounter with her diving mask.

Enough said, for now. Why blog about amazing Mexico when I can live it?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Happy Holidays!

A tad too early, some would say. Already too late, according to all retail stores. Just the right time, if you ask me.

I wish you all Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!

My birthday was a few days ago and now that that's done, I feel ready to climb onboard the Christmas Express to Santaville. Or to be more precise, I'm soon about to board the Christmas Express flight to Cancun. Unlike last year, I will not be shoveling snow, not be freezing and not be drinking hot beverages by the fireplace. This year I will be diving, suntanning and drinking margaritas in Mexico. I'm replacing the reindeer with a pinata. Instead of a parka I will be wearing a bikini.

The holiday season can be a lot of things. Fun, festive or magical. Unfortunately, too many find it stressful, expensive or lonely. Much of it, I believe, is caused by the assumption that Christmas has to be perfect. The food and decorations need to surpass last year's and should ultimately put Martha Stewart to shame. The gifts need to be the latest/newest/biggest/smallest/coolest thing that has happened since sliced bread. The people around you need to be as many as possible, even if your brother-in-law makes everyone uncomfortable, your cousins haven't spoken to each other all year and your uncle's new girlfriend is a wrench (the brother-in-law, the cousins and the wrench are all hypothetical).

Obviously, there are many who love cooking up a feast, love to find the perfect gift for their loved ones and surrounds themselves with only close family and friends.

Ultimately, I think the Holiday season should be about happiness. Your personal happiness and spreading happiness around you. With this in mind, and heart, I wish you all a Happy Holiday.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Whats goin on..

Saw this video today. It made me sad, but more than anything, it made me angry. What kind of a person are you, if the only way to express your own frustration is through bullying others? What personal background justifies hurting a person over and over again? What is wrong with you if take pleasure in making someone break inside?

I've read the comments people wrote after seeing this video. Many were very encouraging and sympathetic. However, many accused him of being a fake. I don't know what's true or not, and frankly I don't care. This story is not fake, this situation is not make-believe and for every story made public there are hundreds of people suffering in the dark.