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Riviera Maya Road Revamp

21 Oct

As Cancun and the Riviera Maya continue to grow and flourish, any local following the #traficun hashtag on Twitter knows just how crazy traffic can get.

Highway 307 has especially affected by luxury resorts, new attractions and the discovery of hidden beaches. This coastal road begins in Cancun and continues south through Puerto Morelos, Playa del Carmen, Tulum and Bacalar, all the way through the entire Riviera Maya.

With more and more commuters, weekend warriors, tourists and locals using this coastal highway over the past few years, traffic jams became so common that the stoplights, intersections and slower speed limits in each town along the road were more of a headache than a help.

A bridges and tunnel system was planned for popular traffic jam areas along Highway 307, like southern Cancun, Bonfil, Puerto Morelos and Playa del Carmen. Cancun kicked off this new system with a tunnel and traffic circle combination at the intersection of Avenida Tulum and Avenida Kabah, whose stoplight used to cause ridiculous lines at rush hour.

Avenida Tulum tunnel in southern downtown Cancun

As you drive 5 minutes south of the new tunnel, the Bonfil intersection is also undergoing the tunnel treatment, making a trip from downtown Cancun to the airport a breeze. (I used to drive through this intersection twice a day, and trust me… that stoplight had to go.)

The soon-to-be Bonfil tunnel

As you continue south along Highway 307 and make your way along the coast of the Riviera Maya, you won’t have to stop or even slow down thanks to the new overpass in the small fishing town of Puerto Morelos.

The convenient overpass bridge in Puerto Morelos is small, yet beautifully adorned!

The most impressive project of all is the new bridge/overpass system running through Playa del Carmen.Driving through this city used to cut 10-20 minutes off of travel time, but not any more. A set of several impressive bridges, combined with many entry and exit ramps, makes it easy for travelers and Playa del Carmen locals to get where they need to go.

Exit ramp by the Playa del Carmen bridge

 

These bridges are perfect for cutting travel time

So far I’m loving this new system! It’s so much faster and easier to get to the airport and travel through the Riviera Maya. No more stoplights for this gringa aventurera!


Disclosure:  I am being compensated for my work in creating and managing content as a Community Manager for the Mexico Today Program.  All stories, opinions and passion for all things Mexico shared here are completely my own.

 

Something to Brag About on Your Resume

10 Oct

If I had any multimedia skills whatsoever, I’d be all over this. Such a cool idea!

CNN Mexico is hosting “ProyectaMexico” (Project Mexico) through its unique iReport program. This project invites people in Mexico to send in their short videos, photos  and audios on their topic of choice, so long as it relates to any of these three categories:

  • The Mexico of Today
  • Sports
  • Entertainment and Culture

Jorge’s school has been big on encouraging its students to compete in the ProyectaMexico program, and many other universities throughout Mexico are doing the same. Contestants will be judged based on things like creativity, originality, narrative, relevance and journalistic development to win an incredible prize that could shape their future.

Budding reporters in Mexico now have the opportunity to show off their skills with one of the biggest news groups in the world, a dream come true for any aspiring journalist. Four talented winners (1 in each category, plus 1 chosen by the public) will get a 3-day trip to CNN in Atlanta in May 2012, and be allowed to participate in a show on CNN Espanol. Now THAT’s something to aspire to!

Contestants have until October 21 to send in their multimedia reports, which will be judged by a panel of CNN Espanol and CNN Mexico reporters. After judging, remaining reports will be up for votes from the public to determine 1 final winner.

This contest is truly the opportunity of a lifetime for the yet-unknown storytellers of Mexico, and a great chance for the world to see sides of Mexico they never knew existed.

Check out some of contest’s latest contestants and their reports on Mexico on the ProyectaMexico home page.

Disclosure:  I am being compensated for my work in creating and managing content as a Community Manager for the Mexico Today Program.  All stories, opinions and passion for all things Mexico shared here are completely my own.

Tell Us Why Mexico Is Awesome

4 Oct

As most of you know, I’ve been working as a Community Manager with the Mexico Today iniciative for several months now, sharing my articles right here on my blog.

Today I’m excited to announce that Mexico Today has launched their Social Magazine on their Facebook site, which now has over 15,000 followers!! Seriously, how cool is it that there are so many people out their who share my passion for Mexico?

From here on out I’ll be posting my Mexico Today articles directly on to the Mexico Today Social Magazine. (But don’t worry! You’ll still be able to catch my usual blogging stories on weekend trips, funny quotes from Jorge and cat feces right here, as always! We like to keep it classy.)

The best news is that now even YOU can post your Mexico stories! Just “like” the Mexico Today Facebook page if you haven’t already, and it’s super easy to share your articles and links.

On top of that, by contributing you’re eligible to win a $500 gift card… and let’s be real, I suspect we could all use $500!

The newly launched Mexico Today Social Magazine on Facebook profiles stories and submissions from leading Mexico bloggers and influencers, including the 24 Mexico Today Ambassadors.

This innovative tactic pushes the envelope of what is possible on Facebook, leveraging community participation from fans to produce a dynamic and evolving, socially-curated online publication. The intent is to create a grassroots movement by allowing submissions from those who are interested in Mexico’s culture, the Mexican economy, Mexico’s environment and more.

Help shape the conversation about today’s Mexico. The Magazine accepts not only short links, but also longer blog posts. Submit your content today to enter a chance to win a $500 gift card.

Check it out here to read Mexico stories from other travelers and expats, or to post your own. Either way, it’s the perfect place for daydreaming about your next vacation!

Disclosure:  I am being compensated for my work in creating and managing content as a Community Manager for the Mexico Today Program.  All stories, opinions and passion for all things Mexico shared here are completely my own.

My Mexico Video (aka “my first and last ever bikini shoot”)

27 Sep

While I was in Oaxaca on the Mexico Today kick-off event last June, I was asked to do an interview talking about Mexico and my city: Cancun. I was a bit nervous as I sat down in front of the camera, but I found that the words came easily to me. Talking about places I love so much was a breeze! The minutes flew by, and before I knew it, the video crew was telling me “Thanks! I think we got it.”

A few weeks later, I got an e-mail saying that Eye Candy would like to do some shots with me here in Cancun. (They call this extra footage “B Roll”… I feel very professional when I say that.) So in August, I spent a weekend hanging out with them in Party Center and on Isla Mujeres. It was a very difficult day swimming in the Caribbean Sea, eating burgers, riding in golf carts and drinking cocktails from coconuts, but somehow I got through it. 😉

This weekend I finally got to see the end result of my “My Mexico” story on Youtube. *drumroll* TA-DA!!!

**Please forgive the horrible face I’m making on the default image… very unfortunate.**

You can also see me and some of my Mexico Today partners in crime in other My Mexico videos on the “MexicoToday” Youtube page. We talk about Mexican beaches, Mexican markets, ecotourism, ancient ruins, and more.

Disclosure:  I am being compensated for my work in creating and managing content as a Community Manager for the Mexico Today Program.  All stories, opinions and passion for all things Mexico shared here are completely my own.

Xcaret

22 Sep

This weekend, I made the quick trip from Cancun to Playa del Carmen with Jorge’s family to visit one of my favorite places in the world: Xcaret.

Xcaret is an immense ecopark filled with unbelieveable attractions. I’ve been there 4 or 5 times already, and I still haven’t seen everything! The park has Mayan ruins, an underground river, a Mayan village, an hacienda, greenhouses, a huge butterfly pavilion (my favorite part), stunning beaches, dolphins, jaguars, sharks, a lookout tower, amazing restaurants, an aquarium… and the list goes on. All this is surrounded by lush jungle and winding paths, making you feel as if you’ve stepped into another world.

This park isn’t just about nature, though. It’s about Mexico. Combining Mexican culture, Mayan roots and the stunning jungle setting of the Riviera Maya, Xcaret is heaven on Earth. (Except for the snake that slithered across my foot at the entrance… sent that thing flying with a high kick and a scream!)

We started the day wandering around the hacienda near the entrance, with beautiful courtyards and unique colonial artwork, followed by amazing views of the Riviera Maya from the lookout tower. Then, we stopped by the orchid greenhouse (WOW) and took a turn on a riverboat.

A few of us jumped into the underground river, where we swam through caves and vine-covered cliffs, exiting into a beautiful enclosed jungle filled with vibrant butterflies. We walked past jaguars, tapirs and monkeys on our way to explore some Mayan ruins, then stopped by Xcaret’s large aquarium.

After a quick dip in the Caribbean Sea in one of the park’s crystal clear inlets, the family grabbed a quick dinner and headed to Xcaret’s famous show. Mayan warriors greeted us along the fire-lit path to the immense theater, where we sat back and watched the Mayan ball game, Papantla flyers and traditional dances from all over Mexico.

The evening ended with the show’s final song, “Mexico en la Piel” (Mexico In Your Skin), which brings tears to my eyes every. single. time.

Exhausted, I took a little cat nap on the car ride back to Cancun, thinking how much I’m dying to go back already.

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You can follow Xcaret on Twitter via @XcaretPark

Disclosure:  I am being compensated for my work in creating and managing content as a Community Manager for the Mexico Today Program.  All stories, opinions and passion for all things Mexico shared here are completely my own.

Mexican Independence Day Parties in the Riviera Maya

15 Sep

While all my fellow Americans are fast asleep in bed tonight, everyone in Mexico will be partying it up Independence Day style. Here, we don’t just shoot off some fireworks, eat some apple pie and call it a night… oh no. In Mexico, it’s not September 15th if you’re not staying up until the wee hours singing banda music with friends, family, or maybe even several thousand of your closest friends. I mean come on, the party doesn’t even officially start until El Grito just before midnight.

Home to some of the best nightlife in the world, Cancun and the Riviera Maya are no exception.

A local Independence Day show in downtown Cancun

In the early evening most Mexicans spend time with the family, maybe having dinner, going to a bar, or enjoying a local Independence Day show. At midnight, everyone crowds around the radio or TV to hear the president give El Grito. Cheers are made, hugs and kisses are given, and then it’s every man for himself. The older crowd will usually spend the rest of the night chatting, drinking and laughing at a friend’s house, while Cancun’s younger crowd will head out to the clubs in the Hotel Zone (if they’re not there already).

September 15 is a great night to explore Cancun’s Party Center since it fills up with both tourists and locals, all looking to celebrate Independence Day the best way they know how. Music, cheers and the green and red of the Mexican flag all come together in a rush of energy. Nightclubs like Coco Bongo, Dady O and The City host excited locals and visitors, and the thrill in the air becomes contagious. This is the best way to experience Cancun nightlife.

Another great spot to celebrate Mexico’s Independence Day is in the laid-back city of Playa del Carmen in the Riviera Maya, where you’ll find a much more casual vibe along with excited crowds. Fifth Avenue and the surrounding streets overflow with partiers. Here, you can grab a beer at a local store and party in the street with crowds of thousands, or duck into a chic yet laid-back tropical bar to celebrate with your closest friends.

No matter where you are in the Riviera Maya on Mexico’s Independence Day, you’ll find exciting parties lasting all night. This is a country that really knows how to celebrate!

**Note: This is a blog hop! Feel free to check out any of the following blogs for more Mexican Independence Day fun! (Listed manually because WordPress is a jerk and won’t let me post the linky… WordPress, I think we need to talk.)

Mexico's El Grito de la Independencia

Celebrating Independence Day Around Mexico

Dolores Hidalgo: Cradle of Mexican Independence

The Story of El Grito and Mexico's Independence Day

United Mexico: Their Independence Day Traditions

16 Tips for a Great Mexican Independence Day


16 Little Known Mexican Facts

The Mexican Tequila Bandera

Viva la Independencia!

Mexican Independence Day Parties in the Riviera Maya

Where to Eat for Fiestas Patrias

10 Ways to Celebrate Mexican Independence

Mexican Independence Day in Cancun

 

 

Chiles en Nogada

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disclosure:  I am being compensated for my work in creating and managing content as a Community Manager for the Mexico Today Program.  All stories, opinions and passion for all things Mexico shared here are completely my own.

New Virtual Tour of Puerto Morelos

7 Sep

Yesterday I came across one of the coolest things I’ve seen in a long time, thanks to a Google+ post by blogging friend Kelly.

Cancun’s OVC (Office of Visitors and Conventions) has recently launched an amazing virtual tour of Puerto Morelos, one of my favorite spots. On the virtual tour, you can see aerial views of the town of Puerto Morelos and its amazing Caribbean waters, as well as some of the town’s most luxurious resorts and tours of several of the area’s famous cenotes along the Ruta de los Cenotes.

Cenote Kin Ha

Designed by Cameleon360, the tour includes aerial views, ground views and of course 360 views. In other words, it’s a heck of a lot of fun to play around with. You can even see my new favorite spot Cenote Verde Lucero from a crazy cool “Little Planet View”:

The tour covers about 20 kilometers (about 12 miles for my American readers), and each 360 shot requires 70-80 different images to create. I don’t know how they find the patience, but I’m glad they did!

Hotel Azul Beach

Rumor has it that soon Cancun will be undergoing the same project, showing the city’s shopping, restaurants, hotels, nightclubs, etc. From there, they hope to move on to Isla Mujeres, Isla Contoy and Holbox, and possibly even Chichen Itza. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to spend a morning of daydreaming at the office with virtual tours of the entire region!

At the moment, you can see this incredible Puerto Morelos virtual tour on cancun.travel or puertomorelos.com

Disclosure:  I am being compensated for my work in creating and managing content as a Community Manager for the Mexico Today Program.  All stories, opinions and passion for all things Mexico shared here are completely my own.


Cenote Verde Lucero

31 Aug

This past weekend, my in-laws, Jorge and I decided to travel in search of adventure in La Ruta de Los Cenotes (The Cenote Route), located just south of the town of Puerto Morelos about half an hour from Cancun.

La Ruta de los Cenotes is a small highway that heads further and further inland from the coast, bordered on either side by dense jungle. Along the way, you’ll see rustic signs pointing toward dirt roads leading off the highway to take you out to adventure parks, eco hotels and beautiful cenotes. (If you’re lucky, you might see some unique Yucatan wildlife crossing the road! We saw a pisot and a tarantula.)

After checking out some eco cabins, artisan shops, local farms and winding dirt roads through the jungles of the Yucatan, we finally came across the stunning Cenote Verde Lucero (Green Star Cenote). We got there late, but decided to go in and explore anyway. The cenote had a zipline, a small cliff, bright green waters, several small caves and a beautiful canopy of trees. There were a few groups there already, and they were having so much fun I knew I had to come back soon and spend an entire day here… maybe bring some sandwiches and sodas and 20 of my closest friends.

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An entire day at this cenote is only $80 pesos per person (about $7 US dollars). We will definitely be back here with friends and family, although I can’t promise I’ll be doing any cliff jumping!

Disclosure:  I am being compensated for my work in creating and managing content as a Community Manager for the Mexico Today Program.  All stories, opinions and passion for all things Mexico shared here are completely my own.

Christmas Trees and Crocodiles at the Sumidero Canyon

24 Aug

As much as I love the immense All Inclusive resorts, Caribbean waters and boisterous nightlife in my current state of Quintana Roo, the lush state of Chiapas holds what many believe to be the most impressive natural beauty in the entire country.

Chiapas is filled with tall mountains, sparkling waterfalls, ancient Mayan ruins, colonial cities and small mountain towns untouched by modern culture, the perfect place for an adventurous getaway. A few years ago, I got to see them all… and I’ve been dying to go back ever since.

Misol-Ha Waterfall

One of the state’s most impressive natural attractions is the Sumidero Canyon, whose stone cliffs reach heights of more than 3,200 feet. On my visit, our group got to take a boat tour along the river that winds through this breathtaking canyon. We drove to the town of Chiapa de Corzo, where we hopped into some boats and headed down the river.

Chiapa de Corzo central square

Our boat ride began on a wide stretch of river, flanked by soft mountains on either side. Once we passed under the bridge, I began to see the steep rock walls that this canyon is known for.

After a few twists and turns, we came across the canyon’s deepest point. This natural gateway is one of the symbols of the state of Chiapas, proudly displayed on its state seal. A simple photo doesn’t come close to describing what it feels like to see this in person, looking up from a tiny boat in the middle of the river. (Somewhere in the back of my mind, I could hear Wallace Shawn screaming “the cliffs of insanity!”)

My favorite part, however, was probably El Arbol de la Navidad (The Christmas Tree), a unique waterfall spilling down the side of the canyon.

The rest of our boat tour is filled with tiny caves (including one with the Virgin Mary), rock islands and even crocodiles.

Can you see it?

Chasing flocks of birds with a motorboat was fun, if not somewhat frightening.

The Yucatan Peninsula, where Cancun is located, is almost completely flat with hardly any hills, much less mountains and cliffs. The fact that I hadn’t seen mountains in years made this trip all the more exciting for me. I hope to go back to Chiapas with Jorge someday, and take our time to really explore everything this state has to offer.

What’s the most beautiful place you’ve ever traveled to?

Disclosure:  I am being compensated for my work in creating and managing content as a Community Manager for the Mexico Today Program.  All stories, opinions and passion for all things Mexico shared here are completely my own.

Baby Sea Turtle Release at the Ritz Carlton Cancun

18 Aug

Step out onto a quiet beach in Cancun and the Riviera Maya on a summer night, and you just might spot a female see turtle laying her eggs in the sand. This summer alone, I’ve had several friends mention that they’ve seen sea turtles laying eggs at night on several beaches in Cancun’s Hotel Zone.

Lots of development and activity, however, has made local beaches unsafe for the turtle eggs, and many resorts are now looking for a way to restore balance by finding the turtle eggs and giving them a safe home until they hatch. The hatchlings are then released into the Caribbean to try their luck on their own.

I was recently invited to the very first Baby Turtle Release of the 2011 season at the Ritz Carlton Cancun. Even though I’ve been living here 6 years, it was the first time I’d witnessed one! PR Director Paulina Feltrin gave me a tour of the beautiful hotel and explained about their Turtle Camp, run by Juan de Dios.

The Ritz Carlton has been helping the baby turtles for more than 13 years! They patrol the beaches at night searching for nesting turtles, then recover the eggs and bring them to safety at their Turtle Camp, where they can rest safely for 45 to 60 days until they hatch.

Each mound of sand is a nest of turtle eggs, labeled with info like the type of turtle and predicted hatch date.

The baby sea turtles are always released in the evenings to increase their chance of survival from predators, although it’s estimated that only 1 in every 1,000 sea turtles will survive to adulthood.

After a glance at the Turtle Camp, Paulina led me down to the beach area, where a large crowd of Ritz Carlton guests had gathered to share the experience.

It was a beautiful and peaceful evening, perfect for a turtle release.

I could feel the air abuzz with excitement and curiosity. The adults were snapping photos (note: no flash allowed!) while the kids were peering into the basket of sea turtles as Paulina explained the process. Sea turtles were then passed around to guests, who were careful to hold the baby turtles by the sides of their shell.

And then… they were off!

Some of the baby turtles were super-speedy, swept away by the gentle waves within seconds. Others took a bit longer, but eventually made it to their destination… the Caribbean Sea.

I couldn’t help but notice how tiny and fragile they looked compared to the waves, and I wondered what adventures they’d have on their first night in the sea.

Fun Fact: Many locals rely on sea turtle nesting habits to determine how strong hurricane season is going to be. This forecast is generally more accurate than human weather forecasts! Rumor has it that according to nesting sea turtles, 2011 is not going to be a strong hurricane season in Cancun and the Riviera Maya.

Disclosure:  I am being compensated for my work in creating and managing content as a Community Manager for the Mexico Today Program.  All stories, opinions and passion for all things Mexico shared here are completely my own.