Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Random Tidbits

Some random tidbits of the last few days.

Cocktails on a rooftop bar gives us a nice view of 5th avenue, the pedestrian tourist walkway of Playa.

Delicious, decadent, rich, handmade pasta at Util Pasta. I had the lasagna with a 4 cheese sauce on top. Below that is someone else's spaghetti carbonara.

I brought with me my favourite hobby, henna. Here is one of the pieces that I did while one the beach.


Monday, February 27, 2012


Words by Lori; photos by Bram.
Aguachiles is well off the beaten tourist path. Even so, its reputation draws an equal crowd of pink and brown skinned folks. The seafood here is fresh and healthful (ie: not deep fried like most other places). Most of the dishes are some variation of ceviche (fish or seafood "cooked" in lime juice with various veggies, usually onion, tomato and cilantro).

Here, tostadas with a wide array of salsas.

Next two different shrimp tacos; one with creamed spinach, the other with beans.

And the main course, the house specialty. At least a pound of shrimp mounded high in the middle, with pickled cucumber and onion, in a lime and clamato broth. It is served cold with crackers and tostadas. It was too much for us.

Adventure Day part 6: Carnivale!

It was only after the sun set that Cozumel's Carnivale started to kick into gear. There were quite a few little stages set up in town, and various gatherings of locals and performers could be found throughout the day. The main event started later, with live music and another long parade. If anything, the floats and groups were even more energetic and elaborate than what I had already seen in Playa del Carmen.

Even though there was an extra ferry running due to the Carnivale, I stuck with my original plan and took the 9:00 boat back. It was a long, wonderful day and a great experience to have.

As mentioned, I am in fact back in Winnipeg.  However, I still have lots of images to sort through and share.  I'm planning to post a "picture of the day" for at least a week or two as I process through the images and find more favourites, so even though I'm back in body, my creative soul remains in Mexico.

Adiós mi amor

Bram has reached the end of his stay here. I believe he has a couple more stories to tell, but most of the blogging and photo taking here in will be me.

Two weeks in, and my days are becoming pleasantly repetitive. Unfortunately, that doesn't make for great blogging! I wake up and lounge until I'm ready to either jog or do yoga. Have breakfast, usually in, and decide if it's a hammock day or a beach day. Read, meditate, walk, sometimes visit other people. Dinner, then early to bed. I'll do my best to report on particular things, people or events of interest.

Friends from Minnesota arrived last week, a group I'm excited to meet up with every year: Tim, Dee Dee, John and Kari. Until this year, John had decided that Bram was only a figment of my imagination, because every year they would miss each other by about a day. This year we managed to overlap their stays by one evening, so we celebrated by eating (of course!). Our destination was Camaron Caramelo, previously reported on here. This time we tried shrimp tacos and shrimp with rum and bacon. Both were tasty. Not sure if Bram took photos or not!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Adventure Day part 5: the sun sets over Cozumel

Between getting up early to watch the sun rise, catching the ferry, wandering around Cozumel, and exploring San Gervasio, I had probably been walking for at least 5 hours by the time I returned to town. However, my day was not yet over. Just as the sunrise in Playa del Carmen was beautiful, I had planned to shoot the sunset from Cozumel. My initial exploring of the town gave me a few good ideas for vantage points to use for the all-too-brief transition from day to night.

At the end, I lowered the camera to watch the sun splash down into the water. It very much reminded me of when my family went on a trip to Monserrat (a small island in the Caribbean) many years ago. Every night, we gathered on the patio of our villa to watch the sun hit the ocean. It was very much the same feeling, one I will always treasure.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Adventure Day part 4: into the ruins

After lunch, I decided to travel further afield. I negotiated with a taxi to take me out to San Gervasio, a site of Mayan ruins not too far out of town. The cab driver spoke less English than I spoke Spanish, which made the process all the more interesting. She basically had a siesta while I wandered around the ruins.

Most of the area is thick jungle. Stone roads and walking paths connect the remnants of various buildings, cutting lines and curves through the thick growth. It was a welcome change of pace in many ways. There were very few tourists in the ruins, making it some of the most peaceful time I have had down here. The sheer age and state of the ruins was also provoked a lot of introspection; the decay and ravages of time are a reminder of mortality yet the stone still remains, if not eternal then at least enduring.

Photographically, it was hard to do the scenes justice. I have a few more photos that I want to share, but I think they will have to wait for me to get home and have access to more editing options.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Adventure day part 3: lunch edition

Of course, a travel report would not be complete without food.  I wandered just outside of the main tourist area, looking for something that was good but not too expensive. I wound up at a small restaurant, La Candela. I sampled the Aracherra, which came with a lentil soup and a choice of sides. Plus, of course, the obligatory margarita. The house version of that drink is made with lemon instead of lime, an interesting twist.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Adventure day part 2: arriving in Cozumel

After my early morning start, I took the ferry across to Cozumel. It's a smallish island off the coast, a short distance away. As with many of the islands around here, Cozumel is mostly a rock sticking up out of the water; the interior is jungle but the coastline is mostly rock with a fast drop, fast enough that many large cruise shows come in to dock. I started off my Cozumel adventures on foot, wandering around the main town and nearby areas.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Adventure day

I had a big day on Tuesday. I started with an early morning, early enough to catch the sun rising over the ocean. Normally, on vacation, I sleep as much as I can. However, I remember watching the sun rise in Tulum a few years ago, and wanted to make the effort to get up early enough to witness it here in Playa del Carmen.

I'll have another few posts about the rest of my adventures in Cozumel soon.

Food, food, food.

Lori: Monday was breakfast at Carboncitos, a very popular tourist joint for all kinds of things. Bram had an omelet with chorizo , mushrooms and cheese (photo #1). I had the enfrijoladas (photo#2), which is a Mexican breakfast, but more like lunch. Like many Mexican breakfasts, I believe that it makes use of yesterday's leftovers: roast chicken in corn tortillas, covered in cheese, poblano peppers, chorizo and crema.

Lori: Decided on Italian for dinner at Romeo's. A little complimentary bruchetta, followed by wood fired pizza and to-die-for handmade ravioli stuffed with brie and covered in a creamy nut sauce. Good thing a 3 mile run is on the agenda for Tuesday!!

Sunday, February 19, 2012


There is a major festival going on in Playa del Carmen right now. The town square has been transformed into a stage and midway, complete with rides, games, and more. We walked through the square with friends last night, and it was packed.

As with any good carnivale, there are also parades- so far, at least two.

It's a very lively, dynamic event. Everyone from little kids to seniors are out on the streets, dancing, singing, playing music, and having fun!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Too much sun and forbidden snacks

Lori: All week has been a little overcast, so we have spent very little time at the beach. It's been fine, and I'm thankful that I'm here long enough that I don't feel like it's a week wasted. But today... SUN! Lots of it. So after our 3 mile jog we packed up and headed to the beach. Bram wore 60 SPF and I wore 8. We were only there a couple of hours, but the rays were intense, leaving even Bram with a bit of pink spots... so you can imagine what my meager 8 SPF left me with. Oops. Shoulda stuck with the 15 for a bit longer.

Then off to find a snack, and decided on Little Terry's Pork Place. It's a little taco stand that serves fried pork in various forms, including the stomach, skin and meat. Below are the shared tacos with pork that had bits of skin still attached, garnished with fried pork rinds, or as they call them here, chicharrones. Don't tell my doctor!

Picture by Bram.

I was on my own for a bit tonight and went down to the beach to play with my camera. This was an experiment with long shutter speeds, and I am reasonably happy with it. I don't bother to pack a tripod down here, so I improvised with my hat on the sand to get a reasonably stable platform. I think I can do better, but it's a good start.

Fishing for tourists

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Camaron Caramelo

Dinner tonight was seafood. To be precise, shrimp. It was more than a little off the beaten path but absolutely worth the trip.

Lori: I think most of us expect that the seafood in the Caribbean is cheap and good, since we are right on the water. For me at least, those expectations are higher than what I've experienced. Caribbean lobster is very different and not as good as Atlantic lobster, and not particularly cheap. The shrimp is often small and prepared with the shell still on, which I don't care for. I'm not as big a fan of fish, but often it is cooked in too much oil for my taste.

Enter Camaron Caramelo; camaron means shrimp, but I'm not sure if Carmelo is somebody's name or if there's a better translation (maybe Nelba can help us if she's reading this!) (**edit** I rechecked the name, and it is Camaron Caramelo, which literally translated means caramel shrimp. Not sure if that's the proper translation or not.) This new little restaurant has a very attentive owner who is proud of his food, and has a little of what I would expect "cheap good seafood" to be like. Part of that is because it is well off the beat tourist track, so does not have the insane overhead of rent. The other part is that the food is delicious!

Here we have the specialty of the house, coconut shrimp drizzled with a creamy strawberry sauce./end Lori

Lori: And borracho (drunken) shrimp, a mildly spicy tequila sauce. I'm not sure which dish I liked better. Good thing I didn't have to choose, as Bram is very good at sharing! /end Lori