The 42nd stamp in my passport was one of my most exotic: Cuba! My husband and I went last spring, and we were both taken aback visiting a land in the past and attitude towards American visitors. The highlights were definitely the classic cars and a day-long tour we took to learn more about Havana. Our visit inspired one of my first published works comparing 1950s Havana and my city of Las Vegas. Read the full story here…
Self-reflection is an interesting thing, and May’s Travel POTM™ makes me go into a journey thinking of the me of the past. “Professional Travel Girl” is what I named my blog several years ago when I was traveling the world for work in the energy efficiency business. Now, I don’t travel as much in my professional life, yet I am still hungry to explore the world.
Recently, I visited my 42nd country: Cuba (of which I’ll cover in a future post). For a nation to count on the travel list I am constantly hoping to grow, my trip must be more than an airport layover or a train ride across…sorry, Switzerland. There are too many places on my current shortlist, but for now, I can look forward to exploring more of the United States and reliving past adventures in my scrapbooks and blogs.
So, what about the bright photo below captured in Isla Mujeres makes me go into reminiscing? It reminds me of a great trip to Mexico with my dear friend Holly and the day we took a catamaran to the island. We tried on Mexican wrestling masks and sipped on fresh rum-based cocktails. This photo captures the me at the time: fun, colorful, exploring, experiencing culture, and of course, working to make the world sustainable and energy efficient.
It’s good to reflect–and remember two other very different trips to Mexico. If I were to take a photo of the me today, what would it look like? It’d certainly be of Vegas me, a marketing and communications consultant who still loves to travel the world.
During my two years of high school Spanish classes in Texas, my nombre en español was Shannita. As much as I tried to pronounce the words and phrases in Spanish, I was never very good at it. Later in life, I also tried learning via the Rosetta Stone program. I picked up vocabulary words but speaking the language was not a strength. Little did I know how I’d use this knowledge recently on a business trip to Mexico City.
Aqui, I will share my picks for a quick trip to the capital city, one of the most populated in the world. Stay: I was in a southeast part of town in the stylish Live Aqua; it was trendy, very clean, and the amenities (Molton Brown and remote control curtains/lighting) were stellar. The lobby was decorated in books throughout, and the meals I had on property were lovely. It was close to Polanco, an upscale district with beautiful flowers and expensive villas.
Eat: attached to my hotel was Porfirio’s, and it was heavenly. I highly recommend the elote para preparar (done up nicely tableside) and the brisket tacos. The following day, my colleague was kind enough to give me an afternoon tour downtown, and we enjoyed a late lunch at Azul Histórico, which was in walking distance from many famous sights. The ambiance was quite lovely–candles strung up in trees–and the presentation of our tasty mole plates were deftly crafted.
See: no trip would be complete without a drive down the famous Paseo de la Reforma, which is often compared to the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. This was our thoroughfare into downtown, home of the Catedral Metropolitana (one of the largest cathedrals in Latin America) and the Palacio Nacional. Near the cathedral, once can see excavations to pyramids and architecture from earlier civilizations underneath, with reminded me of Rome. Lastly, a jaunt down a pedestrian street brought us to the Palacio de Bellas Artes, which is a beautiful domed building that houses an art museum and theatrical performances.
My sixteen-year-old self would have been proud of the Spanish vocabulary I retained, yet she would have been even more impressed with the exciting, fast-paced capital city. Ciudad de México es muy seguro, moderno y muy interesante. I highly recommend a long weekend visit–hire a driver, and get out into the city!
Although I’ve been to Mexico several times, I hadn’t yet had the opportunity to visit Chichén Itzá. Named one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World, this sacred site has long been on my places to visit. On a recent trip to the Riviera Maya, I joined a tour group and journeyed to the Mayan ruins. As I did when I visited Tikal, I was amazed by the geometry and planning of the ancient people; what a civilization the worshipers of the sun god must have been! This photo was taken from the south side of the main building, Kukulkan, El Castillo.
Instead of a calm vacation where we languished by the beach, three girlfriends and I had an action-packed few days in Central America. We were wonderfully greeted upon arrival at Ka’ana, our lovely boutique hotel, even though this welcome soured by the end of the trip with hidden fees and sneaky charges. We stayed in Casita Two (Xa) and happily explored the grounds and enjoyed the pool area.
Our first full day there, we ziplined through the jungle before cave tubing. I highly recommend our tour company, cave-tubing.com, who picked us up from our hotel and safely delivered us home after a delicious local meal of red beans and rice. At the end of day one, we visited San Jose Succotz, a nearby Belizean village. There, we went shopping for handmade souvenirs and walked around the small community. We treated ourselves to pure sugarcane Coca-Colas and caught a local futbol game. Here, we really soaked up the culture of Belize!
Our second day took us to Tikal in nearby Guatemala, which I’ll save for a future post. I will say that it was magical. The last full day in paradise was spent at Xunantunich—another Mayan archaeological site—which we traveled to on horseback! This last-minute plan of riding horseback from Hanna Stables was absolutely the highlight of our time in Belize. We dubbed our guide Santiago “the most interesting man in the world,” as he shared his family’s history, took us over a hand-cranked ferry to the ruins, and treated us to an incredible meal at the Clarissa Falls Resort. His knowledge and warm hospitality made our trip that much more special.
Our last adventure in Belize was spending a happening Monday night dining in San Ignacio, where we dined at Ko-Ox Han-Nah. This place was worth the trip into town, as we once again feasted on the simple local fare before walking around the city center and enjoying the August evening breeze. (My one caution from this entire vacation: pack mosquito repellent!) While we didn’t get to see the famous Blue Hole, as we flew in and out of Belize City and were on the Western side of Belize, we had an adventure-filled three days in paradise! Belize it…or not!