Four Tips For Eating at a Buffet That I Figured Out During a Vacation in Mexico

January 3, 2018

I spent Christmas on a fantastic vacation in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. My whole family met up there, and we stayed at an all-inclusive resort. And, like many all-inclusive resorts, this one had a lot of buffets.

I haven’t eaten at many buffets since I started losing weight, and the thought of all the buffets was a bit daunting. After all, they Read the rest of this entry »



January 1, 2011

Feliz año nuevo y un próspero 2011!

Ayer fue mordido por un tiburón con dientes afilados. Eso no es cierto. Lo que realmente pasó fue que tiene un pequeño corte en la pierna de una roca bajo el agua.

Yesterday, five of us headed out to some cenotes, this sprawling underground river system that’s unique to this part of México.  There’s underground rivers everywhere, and, in places, there’s holes in the earth that provide access to them.  They look like flooded caves, and the Mayans thought they were sacred places, portals to the underworld.  They go on for miles and miles, cavern after cavern, with these amazing underwater rock formations and tunnels.  My sister Laura, who scuba dives, planned this entire trip because she wanted to scuba dive in cenotes, and the other 4 of us tagged along today and snorkeled.  Laura raved about the scuba dives she did, but I’ll leave the details for Laura to describe in her blog, which she doesn’t have, so why don’t you just go to her website (and, while you’re at it, why don’t you pass it along to all your family and friends that need to find and hire an architect).

First step:  Putting on a wetsuit.  I tugged and pulled and squeezed into mine, and immediately felt more like a superhero than I ever have before in my life.   Here’s me doing my best superhero pose:

It was very snug, but it really wasn’t uncomfortable, although I’d be annoyed if I had to wear something like this while climbing in and out of a Batmobile or fighting hoodlums.  The truth is, I’d be annoyed if I had to climb in and out of a Batmobile or fight hoodlums no matter what I was wearing – I’m sure the Batmobile, like Mazda Miatas, aren’t designed for 6’4″ occupants, and, well, I prefer running from confrontation.

My wetsuit was a size XL, and I’d venture to bet that a year ago, when I was 153 pounds heavier, I would be larger than the largest wetsuit they had.  And while you can snorkel without a wetsuit, there’d be no way in hell I would’ve worn just a swimsuit in front of anyone, including my sister.  Which means that this is an adventure I couldn’t and wouldn’t have taken.

I don’t have an underwater camera, so you’re not gonna see any fantastic underwater shots in this blog, but here’s a little taste of what the cenotes are like (photos taken by either me, Laura, or our friend Lisa):

That’s the entrance to a cenote.  The water is so clear and still that while it looks really shallow, you can basically jump into the water from the step at the end of the railing and not hit anything.  Within feet of the railing it’s 10 feet deep.  A few feet beyond that, it’s 40 feet deep.

We were at Chikin Ha cenotes, but this is a different one that we saw but didn’t snorkel in.  The vines are actually tree roots from the trees above, that penetrated the rocks on their quest for water.

This is me climbing out of that cenote – it literally looked like a big sinkhole (that they had cut steps into, for the tourists).

I’ve never snorkeled before, but thanks to my swimming background, took to it quickly.  It was beautiful.  While cenotes do have a few fish and a few turtles, the reason you go is for the jagged, stunning rock formations, and to swim in these caves where sunlight punches through the rock, providing shafts of light that illuminate everything underneath.  I found an arch about 12 or 14 feet underwater and challenged myself to dive down and swim through it, which I did, and that’s how I got the little cut I mentioned in Spanish at the top of this post.

One of my favorite moments was watching Laura and her diving partners descend into the cave.  There was four of them, and I floated above them as they sank deeper and deeper into the cenote, into the darkness, slowly disappearing from view, until there was only the beams of light from their flashlights dancing on the rocks around them, catching metallic glimpses of each others’ tanks, until the beams became only glowing dots as the darkness enveloped them, until the dots stopped dancing and vanished completely, and they were gone.

A little later, a different group of divers entered a cavern tunnel another way, directly beneath where I was snorkeling, which I realized when the rocks around me started simmering with their air bubbles – bubbles escaping around peaks and edges, fighting their way through piles of boulders.  As more divers swam through, the simmer turned into a full-blown boil, bubbles everywhere, surrounding me, bursting through hairline cracks and cascading around ledges, and after the divers passed, it stopped almost immediately, a return to stillness.

I found this YouTube video that gives you an idea of exactly how otherworldly and magnificent these cenotes are (the music is a little much, but I watched it on mute):

Later today I’m back on an airplane and heading back to Los Angeles.  First, though, I’m heading to the gym.  I bought a 5-day pass when I arrived here, and this is my 5th and final day.  Then, it’s adios, Playa Del Carmen, México!  I hope to come back after I get certified in scuba diving – maybe that’ll be a New Year’s Resolution!

Keep it up, David!

“Quieres Blow?”

December 30, 2010

I’ve been in Playa del Carmen 3 days and so far I’ve been asked twice, on the street, by the same guy, if I wanted any cocaine.  Um, no thanks, I’m good.

The three days have been wonderful.  I’ve been able to take a much-needed break from the mountains of stress caused by being unemployed in Los Angeles (sarcasm) and this is a nice change of pace from the snow and cold of Michigan (not sarcasm).  All I keep hearing and reading about is how there’s rain, rain, rain, rain in Los Angeles, so it sounds like I’m not missing tons, except the friends and family I have there.

My eating in Mexico has been pretty good.  I’m proud of myself.  It hasn’t been easy, especially since I’m dependent on restaurants for pretty much all my food.  But we’ve bought apples and bananas to keep in our hotel room, and our hotel has a continental breakfast (included with our room rate) that has fresh fruit, so I’ve taken advantage of that every morning.  At the restaurants, I’ve been pretty good at scoping out the healthier options, and balanced them with trying things I want to try.  I haven’t been carrying my phone with me, as I don’t get service here, so I haven’t taken photos of most of the food, but last night I brought my camera along to the restaurant we went to, so I snapped photos of everything I ate.  It turned out to be the best meal we’ve had so far.

Here’s the restaurant.  According to their website, it’s pronounced “Jag-Shey,” although I’m pretty sure the locals were pronouncing it more like “Yock-Shey”:

It was a Mayan restaurant, and the menu had icons noting the items that didn’t stray from the traditional old Mayan recipes.  I thought “when in Rome,” and ordered a couple of those.  But before they arrived, I tried a few other things.

The first thing out was a roll, with three dipping sauces – the black was the hottest:

I tried all three individually, but kinda liked it best when all three were mixed together.  It seemed like the green and black ones were salsa-esque, and the white one was sour cream-ish.

My sisters ordered a couple appetizer combo platters to share, and so I tried 5 bites of 5 different appetizers.  I have no idea what any of them are, but they were delicious:

The one at 5 o’clock was similar to a quesadilla, and the one at 3 o’clock was a pork-stuffed pepper that was terrific.  There are marinated onions on top.

For a starter (or, my next starter, I should say), I ordered Shecc (pronounced, I presume, “Sheck”):  It was pieces of pineapple, mango, jicama, and cucumber, marinated in lemon juice, paprika, and salt:

It was light and tasty – the salt and paprika added flavor but wasn’t overbearing.  The menu noted that this dish was “very refreshing!” and I have to agree.

For my main course, I ordered Tikin Xic (pronounced, um, I’ll get back to you on that).  It was fish marinated in sour orange and axiote, wrapped with onions in banana leaves, and grilled.  When it arrived, it was still bundled up in the banana leaves:

And here it is unbundled:

I just looked up what axiote is, and it’s a spice blend, in paste form, that’s very popular in the region, that’s built around annato seeds, which come from a local flowering shrub.  There was also a small piece of corn on the cob, and about a half-cup of rice served in a boat fashioned from a corn husk.  When the plate was set down in front of me, I thought the stuff at 4 o’clock was fruit, but it was actually steamed (or roasted?) vegetables – mostly zucchini, carrots, and onions.  All of it was tasty.  It was delicate, and the fish was flaky and perfectly cooked (I don’t know what kind of fish it was), and I ate all of it.

There was 8 of us at the table, and some of the others ordered desserts.  I tried a bite of their pumpkin ice cream, which was good and tasted like pumpkin, but wasn’t spectacular.

OH!  I promised you gym pictures in my last post!  I have two to share.  Here’s the gym from the street:

It’s called “The Gym” and it’s about 5 or 6 blocks from our hotel.  Here’s their website.  They offer lots of classes (none of which I’ve taken so far), have a nice assortment of cardio machines, and a lot of weight training equipment, which I also haven’t used yet (mostly because I’m trying not to aggravate my healing shoulder).  Here’s the main room – cardio in the back of the photo, weight stuff towards the front:

It’s a gym, as you can plainly see.  It’s been nice to start my days here with a great workout.  Yesterday, I did 55 minutes on the bike, and today, 45 minutes on the Arc Trainer elliptical.

Keep it up, David!

PS – If I don’t blog again in the next two days (and I don’t know yet if I will or not) – than Happy New Year, and I wish you health and happiness in the new year!  KEEP IT UP!

Massage in Mexico

December 28, 2010

Bienvenido a México!

Yesterday I arrived in Playa Del Carmen, México.  Today is my sister’s birthday (Feliz Cumpleaños, Laura!), and she invited family and friends – 9 of us in total, I think – south of the border to celebrate.  It’s a fantastic idea, because with a birthday three days after Christmas (Navidad), she kinda gets the birthday shaft every year – Christmas/birthday combination presents, friends out of town because they’re with family, that sort of stuff.   This year we’re all together, and we’re together to be with her.  We’ve been here 1 day, and so far, so good!

It’s beautiful (hermosa) down here.  Here’s the view from our hotel room:

It wasn’t a great beach day, because it was cloudy (nublado) and a little chilly, but I love the beach here because there’s a little cliff between the sandy part where people lounge and the water’s edge.  I walked along it at high tide:

Besides being my sister’s birthday, today was also notable because I got my first ever massage.  There’s no good reason why I’ve never gotten a massage before – I just haven’t.  But I’ve been wanting to get one for the better part of this year (año), after hearing multiple friends rave about them, and you can’t throw a stone (piedra) here without hitting a massage parlor – or a sunglass store, or a T-shirt shop selling really hilarious t-shirts that say things like “I Heart To Fart” – classy!  So, earlier today, Sarah, my other sister, and I scouted out a couple massage parlors and picked the one that looked the nicest to us.  They offered 2 massages for $50 USD, which we bought.  We then explained that we weren’t a couple, because we wanted to be “separado.”

The massage parlor was tucked away a cute courtyard lined with shops, and we were led through a building into a second, lush, private courtyard with individual massage rooms with curtain walls and canopy roofs.  It was very peaceful and quiet.  The massage itself was really relaxing.  I was kinda thinking before it started that I wouldn’t be able to fully relax because I’m ticklish (cosquilloso), and I tense up when I get tickled.  Yes, I know the masseuse wasn’t going to tickle me intentionally, but the feeling might be similar, especially to a first-timer.  And that did happen a little bit, twice – when she was working on my neck and when she was working on my knees (mis rodillas).  I haven’t experienced other massages, so I don’t have a point of comparison, but she seemed thorough and it felt good.

Oh – another noteworthy part of the day:  A bunch of us joined a gym that’s only a few blocks from the hotel.  I bought a 5-day pass (the total number of days I’m here) for $30 USD.  It’s a nice gym, appropriately named The Gym At Playa.  I’m going back tomorrow, so I’ll take a few photos (fotografías) for the blog.  Don’t know if or when I’ll blog again from Mexico, but at some point I’ll post them!

And my workout today was 50 minutes on the Arc Trainer – I burned over 800 calories!

Keep it up, David!