viernes negro

courtesy of tallon4.com

courtesy of tallon4.com

I hope everyone who celebrates Thanksgiving had a wonderful holiday with their loved ones.!! I know I did..!! I hope it was complete with turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and cranberries 🙂 This year, I did not make my traditional pumpkin pie. But don’t cry for me, I had some delicious pecan pie with whip cream instead.!! Yummy.!!

And as I sit here this evening enjoying leftovers, I started thinking about all the lovely characteristics that make America umm American. There’s the usual, such as baseball and apple pie, and then there’s the specifics, like New York’s Fifth Avenue, Los Angeles’ boardwalk and Chicago’s deep dish pizza.! But there is also the American ideas and consumer goods that we export around the world like democracy, Coca-Cola, Levi’s jeans, Hollwood movies, and Black Friday.!

“ummm….wait a minute Rose…did you say Black Friday?” Yes, dear reader, yes I did.!! In Mexico, there is an exported American holiday similar to Black Friday, but it’s not called ‘viernes negro’ as you might imagine. It’s actually called “El Buen Fin” or the good weekend. The holiday was created in 2011 in order to spur Mexican domestic retail consumption by emulating the Black Friday shopping phenomenon in the states.! Crazy, no….???!!!

courtesy of metroscubicos.com

courtesy of metroscubicos.com

El Buen Fin is considered a local holiday that commemorates the Mexican revolution. The original idea for the nationwide promotions was to encourage consumers to change their shopping habits and spread out their holiday spending. Thereby bolstering November retail sales and in turn driving economic growth in Mexico.! The four day holiday is held on the third weekend of November, unlike Thanksgiving and Black Friday which occur on the fourth Thursday and Friday of November. This year, El Buen Fin stretched from Friday, November 15th, until Monday, November 18th.

Typically, retailers offer discounts of as much as 70% on a variety of goods, from home appliances to automobiles, while also extending store hours. Publicly traded retailers such as Wal-Mart de Mexico, Organizacion Soriana, Comercial Mexicana, and Grupo Comercial Chedraui usually participate by reducing prices on non-food and big ticket items. It’s a great time to buy a television, just like in the states..!! Also, banks such as Grupo Financiero Banorte get involved by offering their customers several months without interest payments for weekend purchases made with credit cards.! How American is that.?!! Pretty American I’d say.! jajaja….

I remember the first year I lived in Mexico and saw the commercials for El Buen Fin I was gobsmacked.!! I felt like I was back home in the states rather than living in a foreign country.! It was then that I realized, life just keeps proving to me how small the world keeps on becoming. On the one hand, I enjoy the similarities because they provide comfort and camraderie. On the other hand, I worry that one day there will be no more differences to behold between us, no more adventure to be had by us, and no more excitement to wake us up from our doldrums.! And that I hope never happens.! Because to me it is the richness and depth in our diversity that makes this living worth living.! And for that I am grateful 🙂

nombre de mi madre

my mom and dad - one of their last photos

my mom and dad – one of their last photos

It was my mother’s birthday the other day. She would have been 67 years old. And of course, Thanksgiving is around the corner. This time of year, I find myself thinking about her on a fairly regular basis. But it is no longer in sadness that I think about her. I am now able to remember all the good memories and enjoy the remembering. I believe Mexico helped me a lot with that. I know what you are thinking, “Rose, how could a whole country heal you?” Well let me share….

When my mother was pregnant with me, my parents decided on baby names. If I was a boy, I would have taken my grandfather’s name, Tom, or Tomislav. If I was a girl, my name was going to be Maryann or Mariana because my mother really liked that name. There was no reason other than that.! However, on the way to the hospital, while my mom was having contractions, my father pulled a fast one on her.! He decided my name would be Rose, or Ruža, after his youngest sister.!

Really dad.?? And my mom having just given birth to me, agreed with my dad. And so Mariana became my middle name. I have never really liked nor not liked either of my names. But subconsciously I must have had an issue with it. When I was five, I kept telling all the neighbors my name was Lisa. My parents couldn’t figure out for the longest time why everyone in the neighborhood kept telling them how delightful their daughter Lisa was to be around. They thought there must be some ‘lost in translation’ moment. But no, it was me just being difficult 🙂

my mom pregnant with me

my mom pregnant with me

As I grew up, I also began to wonder why children only take their father’s last name. Why was the mother’s last name not important.? I watched all the stories about the Kennedy’s and other wealthy people who did take on both of their parents names.! And I longed for an egalitarian family like that.! Though in reality my mother’s last name was a tongue twister complete with many harsh sounding consonants while my dad’s was more user friendly.

Then a funny thing happened when I moved to Mexico. I had to include my mother’s last name on everything.! In Mexico, all children carry their father’s last name (apellido de padre) and their mother’s last name (apellido de madre). So everywhere I went, I was Rose Maryann Boras Bubičić.!! Well, at least minus all the accents on top. That was never going to translate.!! jajaja… It was a refreshing turn of events.

Of course, having to constantly write, say, and spell my mother’s last name along with my father’s last name, made my mother more real to me. I was not just my father’s child. I was her child too. Along with her DNA, her baggage, her history. They were all part of me too. And in Mexico, I relished being her daughter. Somehow in Mexico, I became more her daughter.

me and my mom

me and my mom

Then another interesting event occurred. At my last hotel job, during my initial paperwork, my first names became switched. So all of my paperwork at the hotel listed me as Mariana Rose, including my email. Everyone at the hotel called me Rose or Rosa still, but all of my documents were listed in the opposite manner. When co-workers would look for my email account, I would have to tell them it was under Mariana which of course produced a conversation.

Therefore, on a daily basis, my mother was ever present during my time in Mexico – through the first name she almost gave me at my birth to the last name which had always hovered in the background in the states. Being in Mexico ended up being more than a journey of coffee and work, but also a way of remembering and honoring my mother through her names 🙂 And with that rememberance came healing.

Tecate take 33

courtesy of tecate.com.mx

courtesy of tecate.com.mx

Happy weekend everyone..!! Feliz el fin de semana a todos..!! I am overjoyed to have reached the end of this week.! It was a long one which was moreover exacerbated by my head cold 😦 sniffle, sniffle… But I am feeling much better now that it is the weekend 😉 And I am definitely ready to mix and mingle with old friends and new.!!

Old friends are great.! They keep you grounded because they are always there to remind you that you are not as cool as you think you are.! jajaja… You have history with them, they know all your jokes, and your quirks. But meeting a new friend is just as exciting.! You get to share your life story with someone new and learn about their journey. Plus, there are new jokes, new places to hang out, and new experiences to share which all lead to an atmosphere of giddy anticipation.! And the best part is you can introduce them to your old friends.!! Hopefully, that magical ‘click’ will happen where you know you have a new recruit to the brat pack, or the rat pack, or whatever pack you call friend 🙂

In this week’s Tecate commerical, that same magic happens to our Tecate men. The commercial is called Tecate – otro amigo or Tecate – another friend. The palpable excitement of a new friend entering their lives is reinforced with every cry of “es hombre“.! But for us ladies, I’m sure we too can cry out “es mujer” every time we add a new gal pal to our inner circle. So let’s drink to old friends and new friends.! I hope everyone has a phenomenal weekend.!! Enjoy.!! Y Salud..!!

p.s. you must click on the video and then youtube to see the video, but it is well worth it 🙂

en la playa…

Akumal Beach courtesy of my friend C.H.

Akumal Beach courtesy of my friend C.H.

When I first visited Mexico, I fell in love with the Spanish colonial towns and coffee farms of Chiapas. Then I fell in love with the international beach scene and charming streets of Playa del Carmen. But once I moved to Mexico, I lost my heart to Akumal. It is one of the most spectacular and magical beaches here on earth. I discovered Akumal through my roommate who was a scuba dive instructor at Akumal Dive Shop.

my roommate P.T.

my roommate P.T.

When I first moved to Mexico, I waited three months for my work visa so I could begin work. In the meantime, I did a lot of walking around, sightseeing, checking on the status of my visa and practicing my Spanish! One day, my roommate suggested I come to work with her. She pointed out that I could sun bathe on the beach, go snorkeling and we could have lunch together. It sounded like a fabulous idea to me as I was running out of activities to keep me occupied. So off we went…

Akumal Beach

Akumal Beach

And I did just as she suggested. I tanned out in the sun. In fact, the photo above is my view from the beach. Heaven!! Later on, I rented a wet suit to go snorkeling. I was in very shallow water and yet I saw so many wonderful creatures – a stingray, a barracuda, countless fish and one marvelous turtle. It was right there next to me! The turtle or tortuga was completely oblivious to me while I was experiencing sheer joy!! What an amazing animal to behold in person! At lunch, we ate fresh seafood and stared out into the magical Caribbean Sea! I was elated that I had chosen to go to Akumal and I never looked back.

me in a wetsuit

me in a wetsuit

Akumal is a small fishing village located about 62 miles from Cancun between Playa del Carmen and Tulum. It is what Playa del Carmen used to be before it became a popular tourist destination – small, intimate, quiet. It is very popular with snorkelers, scuba divers and ‘people in the know’. In the Mayan language, Akumal means “place of the turtles”. Hence, all of the turtle sightings especially during nesting season which occurs between May and October. Turtle nesting season is a fantastic time to go not only to see the turtles’ hatching, but experience turtle conservation firsthand.

courtesy of Akumal Dive Shop

courtesy of Akumal Dive Shop

Akumal is also near the second largest barrier reef which begins at Isla Contoy and goes along the coasts of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras. Therefore, it is the perfect place for open water scuba diving, cave diving and snorkeling. It is possible to even snorkel to the barrier reef if one is not an accomplished diver.

courtesy of Akumal Dive Shop

courtesy of Akumal Dive Shop

The three bays – Half Moon Bay, greater Akumal Bay and Aventuras Akumal Bay – make the water calm and tranquil. This tranquility creates an amazing environment for learners and those who are a little skittish. The dive shop also provides fishing trips, boat rentals, scuba certification and whale shark tours!

courtesy of Akumal Dive Shop

courtesy of Akumal Dive Shop

The whale shark is found in tropical and warm oceans. It has a lifespan of about 70 years and lives in the open sea. However, during June through September, hundreds of whale sharks gather north of Isla Mujeres to take advantage of the plankton rich waters created by the joining of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. The phenomenal whale shark tour is an all day trip from 5:30 in the morning until 4 in the afternoon in Akumal. If you have not taken this tour, I cannot recommend it enough. The exhilaration of swimming near a magnificent creature of that size and strength is life altering!

Akumal Beach

Akumal Beach

Another experience which is truly magical in Akumal is to take a full day cruise on a catamaran. The crew sails the boat and catches fish while you sun tan and enjoy tasty beverages. The catamaran goes along the coast until it reaches the beach of Xcacel or Chemuyii depending on the weather. Then you can swim, snorkel or sun bathe; while, the crew prepares a delicious lunch of fresh fish ceviche, guacamole, salsa mexicana plus fruits accompanied by beers, water, sodas and of course tequila! The amazing experience will have you thinking that you are either Robinson Crusoe or on “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”. Either way, you will think that you have died and gone to heaven! I know I did.

courtesy of Akumal Dive Shop

courtesy of Akumal Dive Shop

There are so many other sights and adventures to experience in Akumal. There is night diving and bull shark excursions. You can even get married underwater in your wedding dress and scuba gear! There are dolphins to see; as well as, lion fish, trunk fish, pork fish and grey angel fish. You will never tire of experiencing this fantastic place called Akumal whether you go to see the turtles, scuba dive or just refresh yourself in the Caribbean. And you will always find yourself wanting to return to this magical place to feed your soul one more time.

courtesy of Akumal Dive Shop

courtesy of Akumal Dive Shop

en la selva…

courtesy of lomas-travel.com

courtesy of lomas-travel.com

I would never classify myself as a ‘roughing it’ travel kind of girl. Camping in a tent (or an RV) has never been on my top ten list. Who am I kidding? It has never been on my top 100 list! Roughing it to me means staying at a 3 star hotel with no room service or hair dryer. I prefer 5 star hotels, turndown service with mints on my pillow, and luxurious Jacuzzi tubs.

Of course, I will engage in natural activities such as snorkeling or visiting ruins because one is breathtaking and the other is historical. Due to these predilections, I have never gone camping or fishing. I have gone hiking once because it involved a seven course breakfast afterwards at the amazingly scrumptious Salish Lodge and Spa at Snoqualmie Falls near Seattle, Washington. Mmmm… delicious. But I digress.

courtesy of lomas-travel.com

courtesy of lomas-travel.com

Therefore, you can imagine my surprise and delight when I moved to Mexico and became more of a nature girl. I enjoyed just relaxing at the beach with my friends drinking beers and eating tacos or tortas. I realized I had just as much fun doing that as sitting at the beach club drinking margaritas and eating ceviche. I ascended (and descended) the pyramids at Cobá and Palenque. I scrambled up and over the rocks along Agua Azul Waterfalls! Little by little, I became more adventurous. Until eventually, I found myself on the jungle tour!!

I have to admit, I have always secretly wanted to be Indiana Jones. And minus the evildoers in the film, a jungle tour allows you to live out your inner adventurer! There are several ATV jungle tours in Cancun and Playa del Carmen. My favorite, however, is ATV Explorer Jungle Tour. They are located right next door to Playa del Carmen and Playacar which is an hour south of Cancun. The excursion lasts two hours and when it does end, you will want to sign up again right there on the spot!

courtesy of tripadvisor.com

courtesy of tripadvisor.com

The tour was one of the most exhilarating adventures I have had up till now. On my first outing, I went with my roommate and two of her friends who were visiting Playa del Carmen. We took a bus to the ATV Explorer Jungle Tour from Playa. After a short walk from Highway 307, we found ourselves inside the tropical jungle. At the registration desk, we met with our guide, Diego. He walked us through the general guidelines and expectations of the tour. Afterwards, he handed out goggles and helmets and then we got to pick out our own ATVs!!

I highly recommend bringing a bandanna or scarf to cover your nose and mouth. You will be blasted by sand, dirt, and possibly insects in your face. Also, wear a bathing suit underneath your outfit because temperatures are usually above 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Once you reach the cenote, you will want to take a plunge into the cool waters. Also, do not forget to bring water. The tour does provide soda and water, but I am a firm believer in always having an extra bottle of water to deter dehydration. You are near the equator and it deserves respect! Ditto on the sun tan lotion.

courtesy of infoanimales.com

courtesy of infoanimales.com

Once we had all of our gear in place, we set out on our four-wheel ATVs into the Mayan jungle. The guide is always first and everyone quickly falls into line. In most parts of the jungle, the path is only wide enough for single file. As long as you can see the person in front of you, no one will get lost. I was usually last in line during our sojourn and a few times I fell behind because I decided to slow down. However, at every fork in the road, the guide stopped if he did not see everyone. Once he saw me, off we went again.

The ATV ride was thrilling! Being in the jungle is a truly magical experience because of all the natural vegetation and exotic creatures that inhabit its mystical interior. We saw lizards, birds, insects, and even a Coati which is also called a Brazilian aardvark. I did not get a chance to see any monkeys on the tour, but I know other visitors have seen them. Our maneuvers through the jungle stopped after about thirty minutes and we hiked a short distance to the cenote.

courtesy of sunexcursion.com

courtesy of sunexcursion.com

Cenotes are amazing underground rivers considered sacred by the Mayan people because they contained their only source of fresh water. Since the Yucatan peninsula rests on a bed of limestone; rainfall, over the centuries, created subterranean caverns underneath this limestone. In some places, the ‘roof’ on these caverns collapsed and created fresh water pools in the jungle. Some cenotes are enclosed; while, some are open. Other cenotes are fairly shallow; while, some are so deep you need scuba gear!

The cenote we stopped at was partially enclosed. There was a smaller shallow part and a much deeper enclosed part. We were given snorkeling equipment and allowed to enjoy the beautiful cool clear waters of the pool. Breathtaking does not do the cenote justice! Even without scuba gear, we were able to go pretty deep and peak into the enclosed part of the cenote. The stalagmites were especially stunning sixty feet below the surface, but appearing close enough to touch in the clear water. I completely understood why the Mayans considered cenotes sacred entrances to the spirit world!

courtesy of lomas-travel.com

courtesy of lomas-travel.com

After the refreshing dip into the cenote, we trekked back to our ATVs and wound our way to another cenote. This underground cavern, unlike the one we had just visited, was completely enclosed and resembled more of a bat cave. In fact, along with the stalactites and stalagmites, there were bats too!! Once I got over my surprise about the bats, our guide brought our attention to the sacrificial altar, Mayan statue, and other relics in the cave. Outside the cave, there is also a burial site of an ancient Mayan priest!

Our guide also educated us about the water and jungle conservation taking place in the Yucatan and within their eco-tours. And then, once again, we were on our ATVs headed back to the entrance. What an incredible journey! Spending the morning enjoying the staggering beauty of the jungle and exploring the unique splendor of the cenotes is truly a must do when you are visiting the Riviera Maya! Jungles are no longer just for swashbucklers, this glamour girl like them too!

Tecate take 32

courtesy of tecate.com.mx

courtesy of tecate.com.mx

Feliz Domingo todos.!!! Happy Sunday to everyone.!!! I hope everyone’s week was phenomenal.! And their weekend was even better 🙂 I know I usually send out a Tecate shout out at the end of the week, but this week was too tumultuous. A Tecate commercial on Friday would not have been sufficient. I needed a major shutdown.! jajaja… But I think now that I have had a relaxing weekend, a Tecate to signal the end of the week and weekend is in order.

The Tecate commercial for this week is called Tecate Naufrago or Tecate Castaway. Basically, it’s the story of a man who disappeared for three years and has now finally returned home. Journalists are everywhere clamouring for his story. He claims that his friends and himself were castaways and survived that long by eating pelicans. And now they have returned home.! It’s the story of a lifetime and even makes front page news.!! Everyone believes the story except for the man’s lovely wife. I guess she has decided his excuse is as bad as ‘my dog ate the homework.’ jajaja… By the way, I love that she is gutting a fish with a knife while she is yelling at him 🙂

I have included Spanish text and English translations. I hope you enjoy the video and it makes the start of the workweek tomorrow more tolerable 😉 Until we see each other again, have a great week.!
Disfrútalo..!! Y Salud.!!

Periodistas: Que comían?
Hombre: Este…pelicano

Periodistas: No se vaya por favor, esepere unas preguntas hey hey!

Hombre: Hola mi amor

La Esposa: Ay miren, ya llego el héroe del momento, que tal el sol, eh? No se te nota mucho lo naufrago, y además los tres compadres, naufrago, como no, que casualidad, la ultima vez fueron tres años desgraciado, que comieron, pelicano? Si tu ni pollo comes Wilebardo.

Hombre habla por celular: “óye creo que ya nos cacharon”

Slogan: Por los que son de carrera larga, Tecate light por ti!

Journalists: What did they eat?
Man: This … pelican

Journalists: Do not go please wait a few questions hey hey!

Man: Hello my love

The Wife: Oh look, It’s the hero of the moment, how about the sun, eh? Not much you noticed while shipwrecked, and also with your three buddies, shipwrecked, of course, what a coincidence, the last three years were so miserable, you ate, pelican? If you eat chicken or Wilebardo.

The man speaks by phone: “I believe we have been caught (found out).”

Slogan: For those who are with a long stroke, Tecate light is for you!

gabacha loca.!!

courtesy of fondos7.net

courtesy of fondos7.net

In my last post, I talked about returning my uniform back to my former hotel. Funny enough, a few weeks before I ended up leaving Mexico, I had a strange experience with my uniform. I have always been mildly intuitive and highly perceptive. Friends have often called me Sherlock Holmes, bruja or witch, or just crazy.!! Oftentimes, I do not even understand why I know, do, or say something until much later on when all the puzzle pieces fall into place.

This particular incident took place at the end of January. I was in our daily morning meeting and nothing was out of the ordinary. At the end of the meeting, the head concierge called me over to tell me I needed to change my blouse. Apparently, my pen had exploded in my pocket and it did not look professional. Of course, I told her I would change it immediately. I usually did not agree with her methods regarding guests, but in this particular instance, I could not have agreed with her more.!

me with a clean blouse

me with a clean blouse

However, I did have one small problem. The women who worked at the ropería or clothing room did not speak English. Usually, I was able to use my passable Spanish to get my hemline resewn or something ironed. But somehow, I felt that exchanging a blouse was going to be a big ‘lost in translation’ deal. So I asked my friend J.A. to help me out with the translation. And he readily agreed.

J.A. had worked at several of the hotel’s locations over a number of years so he was pretty knowledgeable about how the hotel operated and he knew almost everybody.! Sometimes walking around the resort with him, I felt like I was walking with a celebrity.!! jajaja… Also, J.A. was the first person I worked with and he trained me.!! When we worked at the gazebo together, we even called each other ‘mi esposo/a de trabajo’ or my work husband/wife.! When we both moved on to other gazebos and other teams, we still referred to each other as x-esposos.! Even to our guests.!! It made the guests laugh, so we continued to use the reference 🙂

Incidently, J.A. has a beautiful wife who I know very well. It was just in good fun.! So back to the story. J.A. and I met up and he went to the ropería with me. He explained to the lady working there how the head concierge wanted me to exchange my blouse because of the pen stain. She explained to J.A. that I would have to clean the stained blouse myself. She could not exchange a pristine blouse for a stained one. I would have to be responsible for my pen explosion.! She would just loan me a pristine blouse temporarily which I would also have to return back to her in good condition. Ah welcome to Mexican bureaucracy.!!

courtesy of lamega.com.co

courtesy of lamega.com.co

But I had little choice in the matter as my blouse was stained and unprofessional looking. And I, of course, did not wish to engage in an argument with my head concierge as to why I did not exchange my blouse as she had requested. So I agreed.! J.A. reiterated my agreement to the lady working at the clothing room. At which point, there occurred another flurry of conversation that I did not completely understand. But what I did comprehend left me feeling anxious. The lady at the ropería wanted me to leave my passport or FM3 visa as collateral..!! Say what.?!? Que, que??

As J.A. repeated the request back to me, my blood began to boil. All I could think of was how sometimes living in Mexico made me so crazy because everyone followed the rules to the letter.!! Even when they made no sense, even when they were completely unnecessary. Sometimes, they even made up more rules to cover their asses.!! This of course seemed like one of those times to me.! Because really, what was I really going to do with an extra work blouse.??? Sell it..??? On the black market.???

courtesy of keep-calm-omatic.co.uk

courtesy of keep-calm-omatic.co.uk

I looked at J.A. in disbelief.! All I could get out was ‘no’ at first. Of course, he looked surprised. Finally, I found my voice and from out of nowhere I said, “I can’t give any of my ID’s not even for a minute. First off I need one to legally work in this country. I can be sent home and/or get fined if it is not on me at all times. Secondly, I need both to leave the country since I am now a resident. God forbid something happens to me here or to my family in Chicago and I need to leave immediately. I am not going to have time to stop at the pinche ropería to return my blouse.!! No thank you. I will just deal with the head concierge and wear a sweater for the rest of the day.”

J.A. turned to the lady and said nevermind in Spanish and that I was not going to borrow the blouse. At this point the lady looked confused because clearly I had said way more words than J.A. had translated. So she asked him why not. At this point, J.A. looked at her and with all sincerity said, “Gabacha loca” or crazy white girl.!! I didn’t laugh then, I just shrugged my shoulders and left. In retrospect, it was kinda funny 🙂 But more importantly, I did end up leaving a few weeks later unexpectedly due to my father and my storage locker debacle. How had I known? I don’t know. But I had. Hence, all my nicknames. Now I had a new one to add to the list. One gabacha loca coming right up….