Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Turning Lemons into Lemonade

Billy and I woke up on Sunday morning with no plans of doing anything special. We soon realized that we had no internet, which for us means no facebook, emails, texting, or tv. I remembered that the last time that this happened, my friend Luke told me to "go play outside," so that's exactly what we did. We packed some lunch, toilet paper, and water, the essentials, and got on the road. I was especially excited about this trip to the ruins, because it was my first time having my new camera. 

Pelicans relaxing in the sun on the Gulf coast.
Billy was such a good sport during the two and a half hour drive to Edzna, pulling over on the side of the road at any sight of picturesque scenery. I laughed that I'm on my way to becoming a bird watcher or something because my favorite shots were those of the pelicans or iguanas. We also came up with the saying "tap, tap" which was our silly, short-hand way of saying, "Take a picture!" Billy wanted a picture of almost everything in sight, so he was constantly telling me to tap, tap. My favorite spot on the drive was obviously where the pelicans were sitting on the posts right off of the beach. I'd like to take credit for the beauty of the pictures, but it really was just that beautiful. 

Welcome sign at Edzna.
Once we arrived at Edzna, we noticed a sign that says "Mexican Nationals and Permanent Residents do not pay an entry fee on Sundays." Soooo… I confidently walked up to the guard and explained that we, the blonde girl and the non-Spanish speaking white boy, live in Ciudad del Carmen, Mexico and showed him Billy's work visa. Although we aren't technically Permanent Residents, I batted my eyelashes, and we got in free of charge! So basically our whole day of fun was FREE! How often can you say that? Also, I was especially excited that I wasn't shy when speaking Spanish, which is a sign that I'm improving. 

Edificio de los Cinco Pisos
Anyway, the ruins were very beautiful. We could only climb half way up the biggest structure, Edificio de los Cinco Pisos, but it still was a beautiful view from up there. The weather could not have been more perfect, although very warm for January. We explored all of the different structures in the acropolis. Billy would read the signs while I frolicked around either climbing or taking pictures. He'd then let me know that I was standing on something holy or where they would kill people, etc. Where ELSE would I be standing? haha Exploring the ruins really is a lot of fun. The first one we ever went to was so small and in the heat of July, so I didn't think it was my thing. Since, we've been to Uxmal and Edzna which have both been amazing. There is so much history, culture, and beauty to experience in the Yucatan. 

There are signs at each structure explaining what they are in English, Spanish, and Mayan.
When we finished exploring the ruins, they have a picnic area in the parking lot with benches, etc. We set up Billy's iPod speaker, our blanket (soon attacked by giant ants), and started grubbing on our lunch that we had packed. It was PERFECT.

Trips like this one to Edzna remind me how fortunate I am for this experience in Mexico. Life is all about your point of view. Since we've gotten back to Mexico three weeks ago, our electricity has been out for three days, our internet went out twice (both over the entire weekend), the pipes under our kitchen sink broke, and so many other small things that could easily be described as frustrating. However, exploring new places and going on adventures that you'll remember for your entire life quickly remind you of what a blessing it is to be here. Life is what you make it people! Go explore. Do something new! Our internet being out (not ideal) ended up turning into one of my best days since we moved here. How's that for taking lemons and making lemonade?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Rosca de Reyes

Billy and I returned to La Casa Roja after a much needed trip to the United States to see family and friends. Our flight home was eventful as the plane was unable to take off because it was too heavy according to new regulations. Maybe our 200 pounds of luggage and gluttonous eating on the trip had something to do with that, haha. They waited an hour and a half for 7 people to volunteer to get off of the plane. Needless to say no one volunteered, and their next tactic was to remove the last 7 passengers who boarded (ahem, Katelyn and Billy.) Luckily they discovered the whole delay was just a glitch in the system, and the plane was not, in fact, overweight. Yay for not getting kicked off of our flight

After an exhausting day of traveling, we were happy to be home with the dogs. That night, we were invited to a party by our friends Rosa and Lillian to celebrate “King’s Day” which commemorates the arrival of the three wise men. I like to write about things that happen here that my readers aren’t familiar with, and this is the perfect example. The celebration of Epiphany takes place 12 days after Christmas on January 6th. During this celebration, people share Rosca de Reyes which is very similar to our beloved king cake! The tradition in Mexico is that you buy/make the Rosca de Reyes (king cake) and share it with friends and family. Each person cuts a big piece of the cake until the entire cake is distributed. 

Like the king cake, Rosca de Reyes has baby/doll figurines representative of baby Jesus hidden in the cake. The cake that we had was so big in size that instead of 1 baby, it had 5. I was told that it is common for there to be more than one doll in each cake to help people to share costs. While each person cuts their piece, we chanted “Tamales!” The people who get the dolls are responsible for providing tamales for a celebration on February 2nd which is Candlemas Day.

The cake itself is also a little different from our king cake. Although it is shaped in an oval ring, Rosca de Reyes is not as sweet as our king cake. It is more of a sweet bread with figs and other dehydrated fruits decorating it. It also had sections covered in a mixture of copious amounts of butter and sugar. Rosa and friends were nice enough to make Chocolate Abuelita, a brand of hot chocolate that is cooked on the stove. We customarily dipped our Rosca de Reyes in our hot chocolate and mmmm was that good! So that’s how we ended our first night back in Carmen, surrounded by friends, wearing shorts and flip flops in January, drinking hot chocolate in 85 degree weather, and experiencing a new cultural tradition. I’d say that’s a good night!