About Me

Living in the Caribbean is probably like living anywhere else, with the same ups and downs. But it does have its own vibe and flavour and gives me a unique perspective on most things. I'm often sarcastic, mostly funny, always looking for a new adventure. I have not boxed myself into any one category of life. I love a lot of things and dislike a lot more. I write about them all.

Uncommongoods - Quirky, Personalised Gifts You Will Love

I have these stemless wine glasses in my cart
This is a sponsored post that contains affiliate links.

Lately, it has been hard for me to write but this weekend I feel inspired to work on a couple of projects. I have also been puttering around home sites a lot lately, as my mum and I have been on a decor mission the past couple weeks. I love home decor sites and unusual home accessories, and so when I was introduced to this site - Uncommongoods.com - I was pretty excited by some of the cute stuff available for the out-of-the-box kinda person.

For the quirky homemaker, there are some really cute items which can make great gifts for family members or friends who have a bit of an unusual style. The stemless wine glasses in the photo are definitely going to be part of my kitchen and entertainment arsenal, but there are dozens of other great finds on the site.

I took a look through their gift registry and what I like most is that you can personalise some of the items like THIS ONE which is part of their anniversary catalogue. You can check out some other items here.

You can also take a gander to their birthday gifts page, where you can browse through gifts for her for your girlfriend or BFF. Or if you are in baby shower season like one of my friends is now, and you have a shower to go to every 5 minutes and you want to be different and not give diaper cakes, then check out those gifts here. OMG - the stuff there is so damn cute.

There is not just stuff for the house, but you can pick up great jewellery and other types of gift items on the site as well.

I am pretty excited to get the stuff I ordered and will be sure to share them with you once I get them. What I really like is that these are items made by small artisans - they are not big brand/chain mass produced items which you will find in every home. The items are pretty but also are made with sustainability in mind, so environmental impact is low. If you like something a bit unique and love to support the independent artist, then Uncommongoods.com is a great place to start.

Although this post is sponsored, and I have been offered products as compensation, the opinions here are entirely my own.

Bienvenidos a Mexico City - My Memories of Mexico, Pt 5

When I had planned my vacation, the plan was to do Mexico City first and then relax on the beaches of the Yucatan peninsula, but I changed it up – for a good reason . When I tacked on Mexico City to my vacation, there were raised eyebrows and some were outright aghast. “By yourself? You mad?” Surprisingly, one of the reasons it took me so long to visit Mexico, a country that for such a long time had been top of mind for my solo black girl adventures, is because everyone swore up and down it was too dangerous and I should not go alone.

What changed this time? I asked myself the question – Is anywhere safe these days? Less than 3 months after my visit to Paris last year, there was an attack on the City of Light. Of course, I did my due diligence and and did my research research research and I was convinced that with all the proper solo girl precautions, I would be fine.

The only thing that truly worried me about the city was whether I would survive the altitude. Mexico City, as most of you would know, is about 7200 feet or 2250 metres above sea level. High altitude is not my friend for a couple reasons, so those were the real concerns for me, but I survived – again, with solo adventurer precautions in place.

I was overly cautious with my transportation to the hotel and booked the hotel shuttle instead of taking a public taxi outside the airport. The first thing that struck me was how big everything seemed in the city. Driving from the airport to La Condesa, I passed massive office buildings and skyscrapers that loomed over us as we drove through the streets. Driving through the streets though. Mexico City has a population of over 21 million people, and surely at least 20 million have a car because the traffic is MIND NUMBING. I thought my daily commute was bad, but this was horrendous. On any given day, I was trapped in a taxi with a driver who would utter what surely had to be cuss words in Spanish under his breath.

I will admit – the mammoth metropolis that is Mexico City can be a bit intimidating which is why I was so glad I had booked a hotel in the leafy suburban paradise of La Condesa. This was the reason I changed my entire schedule because I really wanted to stay in this hotel and it was not available for my original dates. I did not regret the change because it exceeded my expectations. The neighbourhood, the people, the great array of restaurants within walking distance, the safe and comfortable environment, so much so that I felt indifferent to walking along the promenade after 11pm. Amazing. I was in love.

The fountain just outside my hotel door, along the Avenida Amsterdam


La Condesa is a great neighbourhood for pet lovers. I saw a LOT of pampered dogs during my stay here. 


Love the colour along the Avenida Amsterdam.


Green and serene in Mexico City - steps away from my room.

Secret Swims in Sacred Cenotes - My memories of Mexico, Pt 4


After ruins visiting and temple climbing, we had worked up quite an appetite. Lunch in Mexico is around 2pm, which for me, is late as my corporate body clock operates with a midday lunch alarm.

We headed to a Mayan community where lunch was waiting for us, and boy, did it smell good. What a quaint little set-up it was though – tables and chairs set up under a thatched roof, with some of the cooking being done outdoors in what may have been the traditional Mayan way, but which I am sure was done for the benefit of tourists. Still, it was nice to see the tortillas being fried right in front of us.

Inside our lunch area

Frying up those tortillas - which were really good, by the way. We had seconds and thirds


Lunch was delicious, lemme tell ya. We dove right in to the meal that was piping hot and in ready supply and included tortillas, honey potatoes (nom nom), black beans, lentil soup, chicken in a mole sauce and salads, and of course, there were three degrees of salsa - mild, spicy and muy caliente! lol.

Section of the lunch buffet

About to dig in - so hungry and this was all so yummy

After lunch, a post-lunch coffee (even the Mayan community understands the power of coffee) and a rock in the hammock, we were off to a nearby cenote. The most interesting part of this visit though was the welcome. We were given a traditional Maya shaman welcome, complete with chanting, sprinkling of water, and welcoming words. By this time, I was really a bit tired, but the cenote was calling.

A cenote is a natural underground river caused by the collapse of the porous limestone bedrock. It is cavernous almost, with cool (read: cold) water and which was central to Mayan civilisation, and which they believed was a portal or channel to the gods. These beautiful underground pools are great for swimming, if cold water and bats do not deter you. Shamelessly, bats are not cute to me, and my cenote adventure was quite brief but it was oh so lovely. There are about 7,000 cenotes across Mexico, some more popular than others and which are heavily marketed towards the tourist crowds. The quieter ones, like the one we visited, are just as beautiful. There was a rustic little outdoor shower where we could wash off our Sephora and Bath and Body Works products before getting into the cenotes which are environmentally protected and which generally are water sources for these communities.

Cenotes are environmentally protected so showers before swimming are a must
- to wash off sunscreen, anti-perspirants etc


View from ground level down into the cenote

Inside

Afterwards, we took a slow stroll through the rest of the village which was very different to what one is normally used to and where life is a hybrid of modernity and traditional Mayan culture, and where life is generally much simpler and less hectic. It was a long day, but it was a good day and I took a nap on the way back to Playa del Carmen to relax for the rest of my stay there.

One of the homes in the village - love the decor

Awesome Adventures: Tulum and Coba - My memories of Mexico, Pt 3



The next adventure would be a day trip to Tulum and Coba and a cenote. I would spend the day with a lovely French couple from Brittany, who spoke no English. Bad enough that my Spanish had been dismal throughout the trip, but then I am forced to speak French for an entire day, when I was really trying to focus on my Spanish. Well, the next day, I kept mixing up words with the hotel staff, and that was fun! lol. But what a great couple - we had so much fun!

It is an easy enough trip from Playa del Carmen, and so we were off.

Tulum - Beautiful seaside Mayan ruins. It was a crisp , warm day with blue skies and without a doubt, the best way to see the cliffside ruins of Tulum. While not as large as Chichen Itza, it surely does one-up it with its location, nestled above the clear turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea. If there was any Mayan envy, it had to be all aimed towards the guys at Tulum who had to wake up to this gorgeousness every day.

It was really a beautiful site and surprising that back in the day, people from other cities  across the seas steered little canoes or boats across the choppy seas as Tulum was an international trade hub. The walled city itself traded a lot of tuquoise, jade and salt - I mean - duh.  As with the Amerindians in the West Indies, European diseases via Spain, killed off the Tulum Maya and the ruins left behind remind us of a time when original settlers lived full and rich lives, with their religious practices and simple way of life.

The Temple of the Winds at Tulum - worship of the wind god happened here


One of the ruins scattered on the complex



While I did not take a dip in the waters down below, it sure did look tempting.



Coba -  Much larger and more extensive than Tulum is the Mayan city of Coba, which was an important trade link between the coastal traders and the inland cities. Where Tulum is believed to have a population of roughly 5,000, Coba's population was about 10 times that.  And unlike Chichen Itza, a lot of the site is unexcavated. The site sits against jungle, with much of the structures having been overtaken by nature. The time and expense of archaelogical excavations mean that the majority of Coba may sit undiscovered for years and years. An extensive network of roads linked the inland cities to Coba.


The Oval Temple


Now when I planned this little adventure, my main worry was actually about the cenote visit and the fact that I cannot swim. I did not want to have the adventure be wasted simply because I am a land baby. However, nowhere in the fine print did they say anything about having to ride a bike. The last time I had ridden a bicycle, I was 10 and while a BMX speedster and top (read: only) female rider on my street, quite a few calendars have been ripped up since then and so I am sure I turned white, if that is even possible for someone of my hue, when the man started talking about riding a bike to the ruins. He sold it as "you never forget" and while there was a pedicab option, he also made it seem that I would be the biggest chicken if I did not take the cheaper bike option. Needless to say, after five minutes of cajoling, I was perched on the seat of my rented bike, trying my best to not fall over.  It took me a good 10 minutes to finally be able to pedal down the path without 'breaking my ass' and I was reminded just how much I liked biking. I was soon passing people and snickering to myself about my reclaimed prowess.

Renting the bike or the pedicab is recommended as the site is quite extensive and if you like walking, then great - but it just saves so much time as well. The day was pretty hot and humid as well, so the bike ride worked out better than the walking.

I stopped along the path to look at some of the smaller structures on the site but of course, the main draw is the main temple known as Nohuch Mul. Unlike the pyramid at Chichen Itza, the temple at Coba is still open to visitors to climb. Yes, I decided I would climb it. The structure is about 130 feet high, with about 124 steep and narrow steps taking you to the top. It seemed like a good idea from the bottom but by step 20, I was regretting this decision. This climb is not for the faint hearted nor for someone who is not that thrilled at heights. It is a hard climb up but an even worse descent, and I saw many people literally on all fours going up, and scooting down on their butts. I however took the decision at step 20, that I had seen enough and there is a thick rope in the middle of the structure to help with the ascent and I guess more for the descent.

Visitors making the climb at Coba


Another view of the 130ft high temple at Coba


My female French travel mate, like me, also turned around when the going got rough. But please - do it, if you are so inclined. Where else can you climb an ancient temple? The view from the 20th step was pretty awesome so I can only imagine what the view was like from the very top.

Mayan village and cenote - in the next post. lol. Sorry guys.

Chichen Itza - My memories of Mexico, Pt 2

When I told some people I would be going to Mexico on vacation, everyone assumed I would just be sitting around on a resort drinking margaritas all day. Again, not my style.

One of the main reasons Mexico had always been on my bucket list was because of the many ruins dotted across the country. The Yucatan peninsula is no different, despite the mega resorts lining the coastline.

Chichen Itza is one of the new 'seven wonders of the world'. To get there, I lined up a guide and to get there ahead of the crowds, I was dressed and waiting in hotel reception at 5am. Yes. 5 o'clock in the morning. The struggle was very real! Special thanks to my hotel concierge for packing a lovely takeaway breakfast for me, which came in so handy as the breakfast provided by the tour was not to my liking.

The 5am start is so worth it though because we got there ahead of the hundreds of tourists who start really filling up the place around 10am. Our guide, Marco, an archaeologist , was a treasure trove of information about Mayan history and the history of the site, the excavation efforts etc.

El Castillo, or the Temple of Kukulcan, the massive pyramid which is the centrepiece of the Chichen Itza complex stands at almost 30 metres high and served as the temple to the god, Kukulcan - the feathered serpent god. Every year, during the summer and autumn equinoxes, as the sun sets, the play of light and shadow creates the appearance of a large snake slithering down the pyramid. The various stories recounted by Marco really gave us some insight into the mysteries of the Mayans, who were clearly so far ahead of their time. The engineering mysteries, including the very spooky but amazing acoustics are testament to this.

El Castillo or the Temple of Kukulcan - the highlight of Chichen Itza


Up close - with no crowds

One of the most interesting areas, aside from the pyramid itself was the large playing field with dimensions which make it larger than today's American football fields. Ornate carvings show images related to the game that was usually played there - a game consisting of 13 players, trying to get a solid, heavy rubber ball into a hoop at the far end of the court. The story as told to us was that the captain of the winning team was usually decapitated and offered as sacrifice, as he would have represented the best of the best. The carvings show such a decapitation - creepy. Whether this was true or not, the majesty of the ball court, the perfect acoustics aimed at helping the king 'suss' out his visitors and the carvings throughout the complex - incredible!

Of course, I can hardly share everything Marco told us during the 3-hour tour. I really recommend this tour as there is so much to learn, and the site is really stunning. The early morning tour was worth it as it meant I was back in Playa del Carmen just after lunch time which allowed me to sun and recoup the sleep lost from the early morning start.

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