Wednesday, March 27, 2013

52 lists -- week 12 -- list the things that feel like home

for the first 22 years of my life i lived in one place: virginia. most of that time i lived in northern virginia, but my time there was split between two houses. so for a long time, the idea of "home" for me was more about the physical house rather than the home within the house. and since graduating college i've done my fair share of moving around; most of which has happened in the last two years. so, again, the idea of "home" is a little bit hard for me articulate. that being said, there are definitely things in my life that are a part of my happy place -- thinking about them, experiencing them, or being near or in them make me breathe deeply and give me a sense of calm. they feel like how life should always be: peaceful, relaxing, and happy. i love that i've found things that represent home for me, even though i currently live so far away from the place i grew up. i still have these little pieces of home with me wherever i go, so that no matter where i am or who i'm with i can experience my "home".

what makes you think of home?

not all sinkholes are bad: the gran cenote

how many times have you started to plan a vacation or booked your plane ticket only to see your intended vacation spot every time you turned around? as soon as we knew we were vacationing near cancun it seemed like everywhere we looked there were articles about all of the cool things to see and do in the area. a couple of weeks after we booked our catamaran trip, we stumbled across an article about the spectacular cenotes of the yucatan peninsula, and we decided then and there that we had to go see at least one while we were on our vacation.

a cenote is a sinkhole that can be filled with fresh water or salt water. and the yucatan peninsula has tons of them. one of the larger ones, the gran cenote, was a short drive from tulum so we decided to check it out one afternoon.


the gran cenote is located ~3.5 km away from tulum proper or ~6 km away from the beach, so since we already had bikes (100 pesos a day), we biked to the gran cenote after we had seen the ruins in tulum. it's a bit more expensive than we would have liked (120 pesos each, or approximately $10) but it was definitely worth it. especially if you make a whole afternoon out of it.  



the gran cenote is a large, partially cave-like fresh water lake that was formed over the course of thousands of years by limestone eventually giving way and creating a sink hole.   some of the cenote is covered by a large, bat inhabited cavern with stalactites, while other parts are open to the sun. some parts are shallow enough to walk through, while other parts are rocky and deep. the most amazing part? how crazy clear the water is. it had this magical turquoise blue color to it and you could see everything; it was almost like looking through a glass bottom boat that's how awesome it was. 

we went to a couple of other cenotes when we were in puerto morelos as well. one was all underground -- you could reach it by jumping 15 feet or via stairs. and the other was open; again, you could either jump 30 feet down into it or walk down the stairs. both were 60+ feet deep. (we went to both of these cenotes as part of a packaged tour with kin-ha jungle tour. on this half-day tour you drive an atv to the cenotes, go on a zipline through the jungle, get a light snack, and swim in the cenotes for ~400 pesos each. not a bad deal.)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

2013 -- week 12 -- fun with friends: on a mountain, in a garden, & at a concert

i'll admit, when we first moved to tucson i was definitely worried that we'd have a hard time making friends, but fate stepped in and introduced us to some pretty spectacular folks. as a result our time in tucson has been sincerely enriched -- we've done things that maybe we wouldn't normally do (like hike baboquivari), we've eaten food that we wouldn't even begin to know how to make (like mozambican prawn curry), and we've had amazing times and enlightened conversations.

it's so cool to think about the fact that even though there are 6 billion other people on this planet, you can still meet new people that just fit right into your life. like you've known them forever. or you'll be friends forever. people that you can learn from, that you can share interests with, and who can touch your life. we've been fortunate enough to meet some people like this in tucson. and i'm still amazed that it all worked out in the way that it did.

Monday, March 25, 2013

the ruins by the sea: tulum

the first time i went to Mexico i was in high school. i went with my parents to playa del carmen; we stayed in a condo, on the beach, just outside of town. (this was back in the day when playa del carmen was chill and not the touristy disaster it is now.) this trip was kind of a disaster; it took me 12 hours to get sun poisoning and a heat rash. but it was still on these beautiful white sand beaches and turquoise waters.


we decided that since we were in the land of the mayans it would only be appropriate to check out the  nearby ruins at tulum. we were not prepared --it was the middle of july and crazy hot. and truth be told i remember very little from the trip. what i do recall is that the sun was intense, there was no shade, we had no water, and the "ruins" looked like pile of rocks under grass. just another disaster.

two weeks ago, i was back in the land of the mayans; back in august we had planned a couples vacation with one of rcg's friends. right after landing in cancun, we went to tulum for two days -- and we decided to go back to the ruins. i was definitely worried, but it seemed silly not to go when we were staying 3 miles away. so we rented bikes (100 pesos a day) and rode to the ruins. and they were incredible. i think it helped that we had water, it was march and not july, and i was a little older and more appreciative of the history and awesomeness of the ruins. 



the ruins at tulum are super interesting because tulum is the only mayan city on the sea. the ruins are built right on the cliff overlooking crystal clear turquoise waters. 

"los mayans afirman que el camino de tulum, en el mar, se abrirá en algún momento y el mundo cambiará."


there are tons of iguanas that call the tulum ruins home. we even saw two fighting!



maybe the best part of the ruins at tulum: the white sand beach that sits below the castillo. there are stairs down to the beach so that you can swim where the mayans did (and so you can cool off from the intense sun).


it cost 57 pesos to enter. and worth every penny.


Thursday, March 21, 2013

2013 -- week 11 -- the week after vacation is a little boring but has a few surprises!

the week after vacation is always rough -- you're exhausted from your trip, you're trying to get back in the swing of things, and you have to make up for all of the things you didn't do for a week (laundry, checking emails, work, etc.). it's a bummer. lucky for us, we had some pretty cool things happening this week. most notably was watching my friend (via live streaming), who i met freshman year of college, find out where she'll be doing her residency. it's cool because when i met her, she was taking biology 101. and now she's a couple of months away from starting her residency. it's kind of amazing. (and i'm super impressed.)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

52 lists -- week 11 -- list your essentials

is it weird that the first thing i wrote down on this list is sunshine? (the next two things i wrote down: sunscreen and sunglasses. obviously.)

sunshine has been on my mind a lot lately. namely because there is so much of it here. 

i haven't always lived in a place where sunshine was a given, so living in arizona is strange. because in arizona it's weird when there isn't any sun. but i'm getting used to it and i'm loving it. (my skin is less in love with it -- i use a disgusting amount of sunscreen.)  

what's essential to you?

Saturday, March 16, 2013

2013 -- week 10 -- a mexican catamaran vacation!

is it weird that we keep going back to mexico for our vacations? 

 i guess our thinking is that mexico is huge and awesome -- why not explore all of it's bits and pieces? this time we went to the gulf of mexico to spend four days on a catamaran with friends. it was kind of amazing. (minus the nauseous feeling while on the boat and the rocking feeling while off the boat.)

i must admit, i was very nervous to travel to cancun a week before spring break season officially started, but this vacation was relaxing. and we got to see some really nifty stuff. my favorite was our dingy ride through a lagoon to the oldest church in latin america. it was overgrown with weeds and overrun with bats, but it was amazing to see something so old, so unchanged, and so hugely monumental to the history of a nation, region, and people. (history is the coolest.)

click here or here if you are interested in reading more about my 30 days of lists.

and a special thanks to dh for the use of your awesome panoramic photos of isla blanca.