What am I still doing in Cancun?

The adventures of an American single mommy working and playing in paradise.


April 7, 2014
by Kristin Carleen Busse

A Playa Del Carmen Minibreak Weekend

Wow it’s been a long time since I last posted. Bebé and I have been busy with work and school and exciting things like a new big boy bike and a Spring Festival at school.

Last weekend we were able to escape the routine and spend a weekend in a condominium in Playa del Carmen… and we brought a couple of friends along! The condo was not on the beach, but there was a small (and lovely) rooftop pool and a large inground pool. The condos are very new so there wasn’t really anyone else around.

We spend the first day and a half on the roof. The boys loved it.

Playa del Carmen condominiums


The girls loved it too. (Look amiga, we did get the sunset in this one!)

Mexico bloggers

On Saturday evening, we headed to Playa del Carmen for dinner at Don Chendo (Avenida 30 con Calle 24 y 26). They serve delicious Chicago style pizza and other Italian delights like bruschetta.

Don Chendo Playa del Carmen

Bebé was a bit concerned at first because the pizza didn’t look like the kind he’s used to (you know, Domino’s or frozen lol) but after a few bites he said. “Esta pizza esta muy rica!” (“This pizza is very delicious!”)

Don Chendo Italian Restaurant Playa del Carmen

After dinner we headed to 5th Avenue for ice cream and a stroll but sorry, my camera takes crappy pictures at night!

Before heading home on Sunday we hung out at the big pool. There was a couple there but they left about 30 minutes after we arrived (hopefully not because of us). Score! Private pool!

Playa del Carmen rentals 

Cancun Canuck

It was a much needed albeit short getaway. When we got home Bebé expressed that he wanted to go back to the condo!

I hope everyone likes the blog’s new look!

February 25, 2014
by Kristin Carleen Busse

A Long Weekend on Isla Mujeres

A couple of weeks ago Bebé and my mother, brother and I spend four nights on Isla Mujeres. We stayed at Ixchel Beach Hotel. No complaints there. We had a basic room but it was very nice and included a coffee maker (we MUST have coffee available) and a mini fridge. They had beach/pool toys for children and you could exchange your beach towels as many times as you wanted. (We tried to keep that to once a day but when you have a wet, sandy towel it’s nice to have the option.)

When we got off the ferry, we decided that we would walk to the hotel, with a little help from this nice man. I think “crazy eyes” enjoyed his ride.




The first night it rained a little. Just a little.




And the next day it was a bit cloudy but the weather was gorgeous after that.


North Beach Isla Mujeres


We ate breakfast at the market almost every day. Cheap, authentic and delicious!




We spent every evening dining and drinking on Hidalgo. It’s such a fun, lively place and I couldn’t get a good picture so I totally stole borrowed this one from http://www.anthrofieldschool.com/.


Hidalgo night


Bebé spent most of his time on his 6’6″ uncle’s shoulders, but I caught them holding hands here.




One of the best things about Isla Mujeres is, North Beach! Ixchel Beach Hotel is located right on North Beach and they were great about having enough loungers and umbrellas for everyone. We would leisurely move from the pool to the beach and back to the pool again.




Looking up from my lounger…




Bebé was thrilled that Papi was able to join us one day.




This child has loved to sleep on top of people since the day he was born.






The last evening was Superbowl Sunday!

Worlds Collide: Frida + the Superbowl (and a piñata)




Meals: We really enjoyed Barlito, Rolandi’s, the market, the churros guy next to the town square and the baked goods truck guy at the end of Hidalgo. The tostone sandwiches and mojitos at Qubano are a must. So sorry we missed meeting Vivian after hearing so much about her. There are still so many places to try, I can’t wait for out next visit!

It was a weekend we’ll never forget! We miss Grammy and Uncle already.


isla mujeres


February 17, 2014
by Kristin Carleen Busse

Experiencias Xcaret’s Newest Park in Cancun: Xoximilco

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit Xoximilco, Xcaret’s newest park. The original Xochimilco (spelled with “ch” instead of “x”) is located in Mexico City.


Cancun activities


It was awesome! But you probably want to know more than that. The “3-hour tour” (hee hee) takes place on gondola-like boats called trajineras.

This is bascially a big fiesta featuring the best of Mexican culture. The tour started with a cocktail party. I had some esquites (a delicious corn dish) and a paloma (tequila, grapefruit soda and lime juice with a salted rim). Heaven!


esquites Cancun


Before long it was time to board the trajinera. Each one is named for a different Mexican state. Ours was named “Colima”. I have a terrible memory but I remember the name well because we shouted it so many times. “CO-LI-MA!”


new tours Cancun 

Cancun tours


There was tequila and sangrita (my new favorite) waiting for us on the boat. Plus appetizers and aguas frescas (fresh fruit drinks).




It was a blast right from the beginning.  Each trajinera has a host/captain that leads the group in games, songs, etc. The boat is propelled in the same way that a gondola is, so no nosy motors.


Mexican culture Cancun

things to do in Cancun


Each course is delivered by smaller boats that pull up beside the trajineras, so cool! There are other boats that bring beer and soft drinks. There’s even a souvenir boat. The appetizer dish may have been a bit intimidating had it not been for the tequila. (See the grasshoppers and fishies?)


Cancun dining

Nopales, Charales, Chapulines, Tamale & Bolita de Queso Oaxaca


Xochimilco Cancun


Throughout the entire tour other trajineras approach that feature different types of traditional Mexican music. There are also “stations” or stages on the banks of the canal that feature live music. There is literally never a dull moment during this tour.

The main courses were absolutely delicious!


Cancun food tours

Pescado al vapor con epazote, Cerdo en salsa verde, Pollo en mole, Rollo de res en salsa huitlacoche y queso cotija, Camararons en salsa de tamarindo & Barbacoa de carnero


In case you were wondering, there is a bathroom break. I didn’t take a picture of the bathrooms.


Cancun bloggers


After the bathroom break dessert was waiting for us. It was scrumptious! I ate all of mine plus some of other people’s. ha

Note: Xoximilco features special menus for children and vegetarians.


tours near Cancun

Mexican desserts

Flan de elote, Dulce de leche, Cocada, Jamoncillo de piñon, Alegrias, Obleas & Chocolate de metate de Oaxaca


I would recommend Xoximilco 100% to tourist or locals.  This is a fun evening that showcases the best of Mexico.


activities Cancun


January 27, 2014
by Kristin Carleen Busse

A Big Fat Fabulous Gay Wedding in Cancun

OK well it wasn’t in Cancun, it was actually in Puerto Aventuras. In fact my beloved friends’ wedding was the very first gay wedding held at the Omni in Puerto Aventuras. In addition, it was the first wedding Bebé has ever attended.

This wedding took a lot of planning, and I mean A LOT of planning! They had some FIFTY guests that flew in for Wedding Week, and in addition to the wedding, these guys planned transportation, breakfasts, dinners and outings. A logistical nightmare… but they pulled it off without a hitch.

Papi,  Bebé and I met “the boys” two years ago at Xpu-Ha beach, and I pretty much knew immediately that they would be lifelong friends. We were thrilled to be included in their special day. Bebé and I headed down to Puerto Aventuras on Saturday. This is where we stayed… poor us!


Puerto Aventuras hotels


Our gorgeous condo was on the ground floor and literally opened up to the pool. I think I almost like staying in a condo more than I do a resort. We had a full kitchen and I didn’t put any make-up or real clothes on until Monday for the wedding!

So, after a few days of delicious sunbathing, swimming and socializing it was time for the main event! Guests were welcomed in the lobby of the Omni with a cocktail party and mariachis!


mariachis Cancun


The ceremony (Gay marriages are legal in the state of Quintana Roo, hooray!) took place on a raised area of the beach, overlooking the Caribbean… not too shabby!


Omni Puerto Aventuras weddings


same sex weddings Mexico


same sex weddings Cancun


A very special friend of the boys had recently had a baby and couldn’t travel to Mexico… but these two made sure she didn’t miss a thing!


gay weddings Cancun


Papi played during the ceremony and I couldn’t get Bebé to stay in his seat. But that’s OK. :)




I wanted a picture taken with my bubba (oh and Woody) as well.




Presenting… Mr. & Mr.!


same sex weddings Mexico


same sex weddings Puerto Aventuras


After the wedding there were cocktails and hors d’oeuvres by the pool.


destination weddings


destination wedding Mexico


Mexico weddings


same sex weddings quintana roo

same sex marriage in Mexico


I was in the bathroom during the group picture… oops!


get married in Mexico


Then it was time for dinner… which was delicious of course! The tables were set up between the lobby and the pool.


plan same sex wedding in Mexico


The wedding actually took place on Bebé’s birthday, and my friends are so sweet that they gave up a few minutes of the spotlight to shine it on my precious boy. They had Spiderman cupcakes made for him and everyone sang Happy Birthday. He even had a Spiderman piñata at the reception!


Puerto Aventuras weddings


After dinner, of course the fun continued, with dancing and plenty of drinking. I even sang a song as a surprise… Disco Inferno. haha It was a joyous day that nobody who was there will ever forget.

Somebody was pooped!




*This post is dedicated to my dear friends and their unforgettable wedding! May it help you remember your special day when you are old and gray (it won’t be long now). hahahaha

We miss you. We love you.

PS When Bebé and I arrived home the next day… the invitation was waiting for us. Ah Mexico!




January 6, 2014
by Kristin Carleen Busse

Ricky Martin Wins Cancun Over at the Moon Palace



Photo: Palace Resorts


My year ended with a bang… “She Bangs” to be exact! As if seeing Luis Miguel in concert wasn’t enough,  on Saturday, December 28 I had the opportunity to see Ricky Martin in concert, and I got to bring my gurlfriend as well!

I made a special shopping trip for this epic event, and I found the perfect outfit for a Ricky Martin concert… a sparkly jumpsuit. We were invited to a VIP cocktail party before the concert… who knew I was a VIP? It was fancy… lots of drinks (I had five or six delicious mojitos) and delicious hors devours… and oddly enough Krispy Kreme donuts!




Soon it was time to head to our seats and the excitement was palpable. (Plus my friend and I kept saying, “I’m so excited!”) Unfortunately press doesn’t get the best seats in the house, but we had very good seats plus there were huge video screens on the stage. Unfortunately due to the ridiculous amounts of rain we’ve gotten in the last few months the golf course (which is where they concert was held) was a mucky mess… my poor new sandals!

Anyway, once Ricky started we forgot all about our muddy feet and wet shoes! We were a little disappointed with Cancun’s tepid welcome (I noticed the same thing at the Usher concert last year. C’mon people, it’s Ricky Martin!) But Señor Martin worked and worked and left his soul on the stage (as he said he would) until the entire crowd was rocking right along with him.



Photo: Vivo en Cancun




Ricky played all of his hits in Spanish and English. The stage was amazing, and at one point there was a video montage of Ricky doing yoga… naked! (Private parts strategically covered of course.) His male and female background dancers and musicians were of course, top-notch. BTW, Ricky Martin is every bit as good looking as he looks in print and on TV. To quote a comment I saw on Facebook, 42 never looked so good. He made multiple wardrobe changes, as did his dancers. The musicians even changed once. Oh and sometimes he performed barefoot… and then there were the red shoes…





Photo: Vero’s Dad




At one point, a girl actually made it up on to the stage. It was a bit strange. She ran over to him and kind of stood next to him like, “Hi, I’m here.” Security had grabbed her before Ricky barely had a chance to notice. They were already taking her away and didn’t hear him when he said, “No, it’s OK!” He was so going to let that girl hang on stage with him for a bit.

More than one person has asked me which concert was better, Luis Miguel or Ricky Martin? So sorry! Can’t commit… they were completely different, and each unbelieveably awesome in their own way.

I will say though, that Luis Miguel did not do an encore, and Ricky Martin did. That’s just the kind of guy he is.



Photo: Vivo en Cancun


Gracias to Vivo en Cancun, my friend Vero’s dad and Palace Resorts for the photos!

December 30, 2013
by Kristin Carleen Busse

Luis Miguel Charms Cancun at Mandala Beach


Cancun events

Photo: Mandala Beach


Grammy award winning artist Luis Miguel aka “El Sol de Mexico” (The Sun of Mexico) performed at Mandala Beach on  Saturday, December 21… and guess who got to go?

I have always liked Luis Miguel. I mean, what’s not to like? He’s extremely good looking, and then there’s THE VOICE. THAT VOICE. The kind of voice that is one in a billion. You know, like Whitney Houston’s.

Mandala Beach is a beach club, so I wondered how they were going to hold a concert by a major artist there. It got started a little late, OK fine 2 1/2 hours late, but the stage was first class all the way, really impressive. It was set up on the beach, facing south. Of course Luis Miguel was accompanied by the finest musicians and back-up singers.


Luis Miguel Cancun Concert

Photo: Mandala Beach


Let me tell you, LuisMi, as he is affectionately called by his fans, did not disppoint. His voice is impeccable, his smile, electric, and his charisma, all-consuming. He started out singing his up-tempo hit “Suave” and played for almost two hours. He sang many of his hits, Christmas songs, boleros (LuisMi has been credited with bringing old-fashioned boleros to modern audiences) and he even sang a “duet” with Frank Sinatra (think Natalie Cole’s duet with her dad) which was really touching.

The highlight of the concert was when LuisMi brought out a full mariachi.  It was absolutely thrilling and now that I am offically “Mexican”  these traditions are even more special to me… goosebumps!


Cancun Mandala Beach

Photo: Vivo en Cancun


The City Cancun concerts

Photo: Vivo en Cancun


Cancun concerts

Photo: Vivo en Cancun


My pictures were horrible, haha, so thanks to Mandala Beach and Vivo en Cancun for letting me use theirs!

I will never forget my evening with Luis Mi Rey. I’m a fan for life.

December 9, 2013
by Kristin Carleen Busse

Our Weekend at the Catalonia Playa Maroma

A couple of weeks ago Bebé and I had the opportunity to spend the weekend at the Catalonia Playa Maroma All Inclusive Resort & Spa. I know, don’t you feel sorry for us? This hotel is a bit older than some of the others and is more popular with Italians, French Canadians and South Americans, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was very pleasantly surprised.

After passing through the lobby, which has a huge palapa roof, the stroll to the rooms is beautiful… a long stone path through the jungle. In the morning coati’s (the racoon’s  Mexican cousin) are waiting to say “Hola!”. Bebé loved them!


coatis Cancun


The resort has a bit of a hacienda feel, and is extremely well maintained. Our room in the “privileged” section had everything I could ask for… a coffee maker, satellite TV, robes, slippers, etc.


resorts Riviera Maya


Thank goodness we had good weather, because the pool area and the beach are gorgeous. Unfortunately we didn’t spend any time on the beach because Bebé LOVES the pool, but the views were amazing.


Playa Maroma Riviera Maya


Playa Maroma Cancun


pool Catalonia Playa Maroma










Right next to the pool there is a lovely building that overlooks the beach and is home to the lovely La Terraza restaurant, a bar, and a “creperia”, which serves delicious sweet or savory crepes, milkshakes and coffee.


restaurants Catalonia Playa Maroma


restaurants Catalonia Playa Maroma


Due to our “priveleged” status, we has access to all of the ala carte restaurants in the resort. Eating in the restaurants with Bebé was pretty stressful, he isn’t good at sitting still! Booze helped. :)




One day we ordered room service at lunch. It arrived quickly and was delicious.

One of the best things about the resort is the entertainment schedule and staff. There are many activities all day but they don’t interfere with relaxation. Sometimes they play music by the pool, sometimes they don’t. There’s a nice balance. Bebé LOVED the mini disco, which takes place each night before the show.


Catalonia Playa Maroma mini disco


He even won the contest our first night there! Plus when we got back to the room there was a surprise waiting for us.


kids club Catalonia Playa Maroma




The shows were lip-synced, but well done and highly entertaining. The first night the theme was Moulin Rouge and the second night… Madonna!


shows Catalonia Playa Maroma


entertainment Catalonia Playa Maroma


I couldn’t resist.




The resort also has an adult disco, which opens each night after the show. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to go as I don’t think they would have appreciated me bringing Bebé.

We had an amazing weekend. I would definitely recommend Catalonia Playa Maroma and I hope to return someday!

November 6, 2013
by Kristin Carleen Busse

Xcaret Day of the Dead Festival 2013

Once again I had the opportunity to attend the Xcaret Festival of Life and Death Traditions, which celebrates el Dia de Muertos (the Day of the Dead) and Hanal Pixan (the Mayan version of the Day of the Dead). This year’s theme was the legend of Ix’tabay, a mythical Mayan seductress.


annual events Riviera Maya


Each year a different Mexican state is represented during the festival. This year that state was Campeche. In 2003 the vibrant annual festival was declared a masterpiece of oral and intangible heritage of humanity by UNESCO.

“La Catrina” was waiting to greet all visitors.


day of the dead Mexico


La Catrina Xcaret


This year I decided I was finally going to paint my face. Xcaret has little stands set up where you can paint your own face for free. I think I did pretty well for my first time. Bebé didn’t want to paint his face. :( Maybe next year.

I also bought a beautiful blouse with traditional Yucatan embroidery to wear to the festival.


xcaret day of the dead


Before we joined the press tour, Bebé and I explored the festival on our own. He kept pointing and shouting “Calavera!” which means “skull”.


Xcaret Cancun


Each year many altars are set up to honor the dead. Their photo, flowers, candles, their favorite foods and drinks and often personal effects are integrated into the altar.


annual festivals Cancun

day of the dead Cancun


The decorated cemetery is always a highlight, but a strange “fairy” of some sort scared the crap out of Bebé. Frankly I found him to be pretty scary as well.


activities Cancun October

xcaret cemetery

day of the dead face paint

xcaret day of the dead event


After exploring we joined the press tour and headed to a couple of shows. Bebé never sits still for anything, except for live shows. I was a little worried that this one, Réquiem por un Payacho, was too gory for him, but he was only frightened when the characters came too close.


requiem por un payacho

Cancun bloggers


I’m already looking forward to next year’s Festival de Tradiciones de Vida y Muerte. Nice job Xcaret!

If you would like to know more about Xcaret’s Festival of Life and Death Traditions, check out this video:


November 2, 2013
by Kristin Carleen Busse

Market 23: Dia de Muertos in Cancun

The longer I live in Mexico, the more I love Dia de Muertos aka the Day of the Dead. Each year I can’t wait to visit Mercado 23 (Market 23 in downtown Cancun off of Tulum and Uxmal Avenues) because it comes alive with flowers, candy and costumes.

This year I bought zempasúchitles (marigolds), two clay vases (for Bebé’s school altar) and a delicious buñelo (sugary traditional Day of the Dead candy).





          dia-de-muertos-mercado-23-cancun   Halloween-Mexico



The sign says “We have homemade pumpkin, sweet potato, papaya and yucca candy. Very yummy, mmmm.”





I say this every year… but next year I hope to create an altar at home.

Next: Bebé and I visit Xcaret Park for their annual Day of the Dead Festival!

October 28, 2013
by Kristin Carleen Busse

I’m the 10Best – USATODAY Travel Cancun Local Expert

Some of you might not know that in addition to my day job, I have a freelance job. I am the Cancun Expert on 10Best.com, which is a division of USATODAY Travel.

Cancun travel guide


One of the cool things about 10Best.com is that they have an expert on the ground in major tourism cities, which gives their constantly fresh content a real authentic touch. I love the job and it may sound strange, but I have learned so much about Cancun by doing it!


Cancun bloggers


If you or your friends/family will be traveling to Cancun and want to investigate activities, restaurants, nightlife, shopping and resorts/hotels, 10Best is a great resource.