What am I still doing in Cancun?

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

Cancun restaurants

March 23, 2015
by admin
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La Habichuela Restaurant in Cancun

I have lived in Cancun for 14 years, and I have always wanted to dine at La Habichuela, a legendary restaurant in downtown Cancun that has been open since 1977.

The owner, Armando Pezzoti, opened the restaurant in what was once his home. It’s almost as old as Cancun is!

I finally got the chance to dine at La Habichuela, and I’m happy to share that it was worth the wait. This Cancun dining institution lived up to it’s stellar reputation. The restaurant is located on Calle Margaritas in Parque las Palapas.

Cancun restaurants

La Habichuela is known for it’s cuisine, service and ambiance, and it delivers on all three counts. The garden is so charming!

outdoor dining Cancun

Cancun dining

Ordering a margarita is a must. Please don’t order a frozen one. A margarita should be enjoyed on the rocks with a salt rim.

downtown Cancun restaurants

The food was incredible. Really. The dishes, based on family recipes, are prepared with tender care and incorporate Mexican and Mayan ingredients, some of which have been used for thousands of years and have rich histories in Mexican culture. The service is attentive yet not annoying.

seafood Cancun

tacos Cancun

There are so many wonderful choices. It would be a good idea to dine with a lot of friends and share. The Cocobichuela (entree, lobster and shrimp in curry sauce served in a coconut with rice and tropical fruits) and the Kukulcan Pyramid (dessert, drool) should not be missed.

Cocobichuela

desserts Cancun

Of course if you’re not on the mood for a chocolate pyramid, they offer loads of other scrumptious desserts.

La Habichuela actually invented the Mayan coffee, which I missed this time, but I won’t make that mistake again. I’ll try it at La Habichuela Sunset, located in Cancun’s Hotel Zone. Can’t wait!

I want to thank my amiga @CancunCanuck for this photo, and for suffering through this experience with me.

Cancun vacation

March 2, 2015
by admin
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Xcaret Park and the New Xcaret Mexico Espectacular Night Show

We’ve been to Xcaret countless times, but it never gets old. The park is huge and you’d have to spend a few days in a row there to really take advantage of all it has to offer.

I really wanted Bebé’s big sister (she has been here for an extended visit, her first time outside of Cuba) to see Xcaret , especially the new night show, Xcaret Mexico Espectacular, and since she is leaving to return to Cuba soon, we went last Saturday.

After walking through the tempting gift shop (seriously they have the cutest stuff in there) we took the customary arrival picture. Notice the flamingos and parrots in the background.

Hello Xcaret!

Cancun activities

Since I now know the park pretty well now, and we arrived in the afternoon and didn’t plan on doing any of the (awesome) water activities, I knew we wanted to hit the aquarium first, but not before we took some pictures on the ancient Mayan structures that are part of the park.

Mayan ruins Cancun

When we arrived at the aquarium, they were starting a “swim with the sharks” session and Bebé was loving it, so we hung around there for awhile and then headed inside.

coral Cancun

Next we visited the sea turtles. They are sooo big. Really mindblowing.

On our way to the cemetary, we stopped by the beach area. I have never been able to take advantage of this part of Xcaret. It is really beautiful.

Playa del Carmen vacation

Playa del Carmen activities

Then we took a nice hike through the jungle on the stone paths (one must wear comfortable walking shoes to Xcaret) to my favorite part of the park, the cemetary. This is almost a pyramid-type structure, with seven levels for the days of the week. There are 365 graves that symbolize each day of the year, and at the main entrance the staircase has 52 steps representing each week of the year.

Riviera Maya activities

things to do in Riviera Maya

attractions Cancun

xcaret-park-cancun-7

I love this selfie! Check out the sweet-looking tree growing out of my head! It reminds me of the one I took on my friends balcony in Chicago last summer… another happy accident.

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Then we headed to the Mayan Village, just steps away, and got a good seat for the Dance of the Mayan Village, which is truly stunning.

Mayan Village Xcaret

It was now about 5:30pm, and there was so much more to see! After the Dance of the Mayan Village we saw the equestrian show, and went 80 meters up in the scenic tower, something Bebé and I had never done before. Then it was time to get our snacks and seats for Xcaret Mexico Espectacular.

And it certainly is spectacular, breathtaking, awe-inspiring. We hadn’t seen the new version of the show yet, which has been infused with hi-tech elements, but not in a way that takes away from the beauty of the show.

The show begins with the entire audience holding lit candles, including Bebé. Love his face here.

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Most of my photos of the show were unshareable, so I’ll share a few of Xcaret’s pictures.

 

Riviera Maya attractions

Photo: Xcaret Park

Playa del Carmen attractions

Photo: Xcaret Park

voladores de papantla

Photo: Xcaret Park

Cancun entertainment

Photo: Xcaret Park

The show is over two hours long and incorporates some 300 dancers and actors. It inspires chills, laughs, and sometimes tears, and filled me with pride for my adopted country.

xcaret night show

Photo courtesy of Jessica Seba

February 16, 2015
by admin
7 Comments

#BridesBoat #Cancun: A Bachelorette Party *hiccup*

Another one bites the dust! My friend and fellow Mexico travel blogger / social media chica Miss (soon to be Mrs.) Jessica Seba aka @MexicanatheartJ is gettin’ hitched! (Well actually she got hitched on Saturday.)

Can you think of a better place to have a Bachelorette Party than in Cancun on a luxury yacht? I can’t!

So last Saturday Jessica and some of her craziest female (and one male) family members and friends, including yours truly and my mommy, boarded the Sea Horse of Sunset Marina Admiral Yacht Club & Marina for a 4 hour cruise. The first order of the day? Mimosas!

Bachelorette party Cancun

tours Cancun

We were a little worried about the weather… it wasn’t that ideal clear day that you’re hoping for when you have outdoor plans, but we got lucky and it didn’t rain. Plus, no sunburn!

We made our way through Nichupte Lagoon and once we got out onto the Caribbean the games began. I must admit, I don’t normally like games at these event-type parties but I really enjoyed them. Jessica’s cousin did a super job.

celebrations Cancun

Dirty cherades was especially fun. @CancunCanuck shows us here… two (dirty) words!

yacht rental Cancun

Had never played the toilet paper wedding dress game before! And my team won!

 

boat rentals Cancun

Photo: Jessica Seba

The boat was full of social media chicas, so there were a lot of selfies taken… here is @CancunGringa looking gorgeous!

selfies Cancun

And here I am with @BeccaMex…

yachts Cancun

We spent most of the time anchored at the northern end of Isla Mujeres. The island is so very beautiful, even on a cloudy day.

Isla Mujeres

Some of the girls (and the boy) went swimming… here are @CancunGringa and @MarhuBarreto enjoying the clear, shallow water.

North Beach Isla Mujeres

4 hours gave us plenty of time to just hang out and chat too, and of course take lots of pictures and shots… a lot of shots.

@CancunCancun & @MarhuBaretto

Cancun boat tours

@CancunGringa, The Bachelorette @MexicanatHeartJ & @CancunCanuck (and her drink) and I.

Cancun yacht tours

@CancunCanuck & @MexicanatHeartJ

Cancun yacht tours

When it was time to head back the music got louder and so did we. Bye Isla Mujeres!

ocean Cancun

Isla Mujeres

It is really difficult to dance on a moving yacht.

marinas Cancun

I haven’t laughed so hard or taken so many shots in long time. I noticed that in @CancunGringa’s post about the Bachelorette Party, she mentioned that she napped the rest of the day. Some of us had to go home and take care of our kids. But well, she’s pregnant so I’ll have my revenge. :D

Congratulations Jessica! Thanks for including us in your special celebration!

Photo courtesy of Jessica Seba

Photo courtesy of Jessica Seba

 

aesthetic medicine Cancun

January 12, 2015
by admin
2 Comments

Cosmetic Procedures in Cancun

It’s something that a lot of us think about, but don’t like to talk about… getting older and how to look younger. I am part of the generation of sun worshipers… in fact, I used to drench myself in baby oil and lie on a metallic silver blanket every chance I got. I also smoked for years. It’s like I was intentionally trying to cause wrinkles!

I am trying to accept getting older, to grow old gracefully, but there are just some things that are unacceptable. For the most part I can handle the smile lines around my eyes, and my face isn’t that saggy… yet. But it seems like overnight I developed lines around my mouth that were making me really self-conscious. Others probably didn’t notice them… yet. But I could imagine what they were going to turn into if I didn’t do something about them.

I spoke to a friend about it, and it turned out that she has a friend who is a very well-respected (in all of Mexico, not just Cancun) physician who specializes in aesthetic medicine.

Medicial tourism is becoming very popular in Cancun. Many vacationers come from Canada and the U.S. and while they’re here they, you know, get a little something done. Whether it’s a dental procedure or a cosmetic procedure, they have time to rest and recover, and well, if they choose, the whole thing can remain a secret.

That’s where Med Spa Cancun comes in. Turns out my friend’s friend, Jenny Loria, has been the medical director of Med Spa Cancun, located in The Royal Sands resort at km. 13.5  in Cancun’s Hotel Zone, for 7 years. She has been named by Allergan (makers of Botox, Juvederm, etc.) among the 5 best aesthetic doctors in Mexico. She is also one of Allergan’s speakers and trainers in their “Allergan Academy” Training Seminars. She normally assists at 3 worldwide seminars per year, which are held in different parts of Mexico, USA and Europe.

aesthetic medicine Cancun

This lady, my friends, knows her stuff. And her work is natural and subtle too, no fish lips here!

So I figured, if I am going to do anything, I should do it at Med Spa Cancun.

cosmetic procedures Cancun

Med Spa Cancun offers:

  • Visia Facial Analysis (complexion evaluation)
  • Thermage (skin tightening and cellulite reduction)
  • Fractional CO2 laser (reverse premature aging)
  • Botox (wrinkle reducer)
  • Juviderm/Restylane (filler & lip enhancer)
  • Vycross (long lasting filler)
  • Microdermabrasion (skin condition improvment)
  • Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy (skin rejuvination)
  • Mesotherapy (cellulite and reduction treatment)
  • Dzugan Physio Logic (a new logical approach to health)

botox Cancun

Because Med Spa Cancun offers reasonable prices and is located in a resort, they have a lot of repeat customers that return year after year. They also serve guests of other hotels and locals as well.

Who wouldn’t love a place that has a Botox Christmas tree?

dermal fillers Cancun

Oh, are you wondering if I got a little something done??? Well I probably wouldn’t be posting about Med Spa Cancun if I didn’t, but I’ll never tell. A lady never reveals her secrets. ;)

 

Med Spa Phone: 52 (998) 881 0100 ext. 65906 

Med Spa Website: www.medspacancun.com

And here’s a little more info about Jenny… 

Dr. Jenny Loría Muñoz M.D., Director of Aesthetic Services

Dr. Loría graduated as a medical surgeon from the University del Mayab in Mérida, Yucatán. After completing her internship at the Ignacio Garcia Tellez IMSS Hospital in Mérida and her Social Service requirement in Playa del Carmen, Dr. Loría worked as a Medical Director in a Spa and a Laser Clinic and has taken advanced courses in Thalassotherapy, Medical Aesthetic, Cosmetic Laser therapies and Anti-aging medicine. She also has diplomas in Anti-Aging Medicine  and Aesthetic medicine from SCMME (Sociedad Científica Mexicana de Medicina Estética/Mexican Society of Aesthetic Medicine, endorsed by the National Autonomous University of Mexico and UIME) and Spa Administration from La Salle University. Dr. Loría specializes in minimally invasive aesthetic and cosmetic procedures with expertise in Thermage, Botox, Platelets Rich in Plasma, IPL Photo Rejuvenation, Laser Collagen Enhancement and Acne Treatment, Microdermabrasion, Laser Vein Removal, Mesotherapy and SmartLipo. She is U.S.-certified for all FDA-approved treatments. She speaks fluent English and Spanish.

Hard-Rock-Hotel-Riviera-Maya-activities-5

December 2, 2014
by admin
4 Comments

What We Love about the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya

Bebé and I recently stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya again, for four glorious nights! Without recounting every minute of our visit, I’d like to share what we love about this rockin’ resort, located just south of Playa del Carmen in Puerto Aventuras.

The Beach

The kayaks, the snorkeling, it’s all included, and located in a tranquil, protected, turquoise blue cove.

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Someone offered to take a picture of us when we were kayaking. #thanks

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Hard-Rock-Hotel-Riviera-Maya-5

resorts Puerto Aventuras

It doesn’t get much better than this.

Hard-Rock-Hotel-Riviera-Maya-beach

The Pool

It’s huge, features a big swim-up pool bar and waterslide, and has many different sections, so you can choose between peace and quiet and lots of activity.

Riviera Maya vacation

The Entertainment

The kids club has a full schedule of activities, meals and shows all day. There are daily activities in the pool and beach areas. The night shows are thoroughly entertaining. Karaoke with a live band was just one of the highlights. Bebé made me sing and I chose Bob Marley.

kids club Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya

entertainment Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya

The Food

There is a variety of restaurants, not to mention the buffet, room service and the serve yourself snack bar by the pool. In addition, they will grant special requests, for instance, chicken nuggets in the Asian restaurant.

Hard-Rock-Hotel-Riviera-Maya-restaurants

Hard-Rock-Hotel-Riviera-Maya-restaurants-2

They were building the Agave Veranda during our visit, can’t wait to see how it turns out! (Don’t know if she’d like it but I loved this Frida mural.)

Hard-Rock-Hotel-Riviera-Maya-3

Music Lab

And if all that isn’t enough, the new Music Lab is a unique program unlike anything offered by other resorts. Guests can film a music video, learn to DJ or play in a rock band. Professionals help with the process and the best equipment is utilized. In the evening, participants show off their new skills in the Sun Bar. It’s hard to believe, but there is not an extra charge for Music Lab.

activities Hard Rock Hotel

The Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya is a super cool choice for a modern family vacation.

Hard-Rock-Hotel-Riviera-Maya-2

November 4, 2014
by admin
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Xcaret Festival de Tradiciones de Vida y Muerte 2014

Once again Xcaret’s Festival de Tradiciones de Vida y Muerte was a joyful, colorful, creepy, rousing success. Bebé and I attended on Saturday. Each year a different Mexican state is showcased. This year it was Michoacan. The Festival features some 250 exhibits which include theater productions; musical, dance and multidisciplinary performances; audiovisual presentations; a Catholic mass; children’s activities; expositions and exhibitions; a parade (which takes place on 5th Avenue in Playa del Carmen); and traditional Day of the Dead food.

La Catrina (a Day of the Dead icon) is always there to greet visitors at the main entrance…

La Catrina Xcaret

Each year I have more fun getting into the spirit of the event, so I bought a new traditional blouse and put festive flowers in my hair. I planned to get my make-up done at the Ultrafemme stand, where they were doing gorgeous intricate work, but alas, the line was looong, too long to wait in with a 5 year old. So we smeared on some paint from one of the stands they have throughout the park. For the first time ever Bebé wanted his face painted.

Before…

Day of the Dead Cancun

After…

Festival Vida y Muerte Cancun

Normally we go to the cemetary first, before it gets crowded, but since it was Saturday, there was already a long line, so we headed to check out the altars.

altar Day of the Dead

altar Dia de Muertos

Xcaret Festival Vida y Muerte

altars Xcaret festival

celebrations Day of the Dead Cancun

We went to three performances this year, a record for us. The first one was about a family of “calaveras” or skeletons, in other words, a family of dead people. Then we went to see a performance by a Michocan dance troupe and then the Game of Life, a story and performance of an ancient Mayan ball game. The only good picture I got of the performances was this one, of the dance troupe. Both of us loved all of the performances, or shows as Bebé calls them, that we saw.

traditional dance Michoacan

It is important to note that the traditional Day of the Dead food at the festival is absolutely delicious and reasonably priced. I should know. I ate a lot of it.

And just for fun, I wanted to share a few of Xcaret’s gorgeous pictures…

Festival Vida y Muerte Xcaret

Photo: Xcaret

Dia de Muertos Cancun

Photo: Xcaret

Day of the Dead Cancun

Photo: Xcaret

The drive to Xcaret is kind of long from Cancun, especially on the way back late at night, but we might have to attend the Festival two days next year!

Dia de Muertos en Cancun

October 29, 2014
by admin
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Day of the Dead – Dia de Muertos in Cancun

Dia de Muertos aka Day of the Dead, is my favorite Mexican holiday. Before I moved to Mexico my entire experience with Day of the Dead consisted of an ex-boyfriend giving me a sugar skull, and when I first moved to Mexico the whole thing seemed a bit creepy, you know, with all the skeletons and children dressed as dead people.

However after attending Xcaret Park’s Festival de Tradiciones de Vida y Muerte a few times, I have discovered the joy and beauty of Dia de Muertos. This is not a celebration of death, but of life and the eternal soul. On November 1 and 2 each year Mexicans remember their beloved that have passed by erecting altars in their homes and visiting the cemetary to decorate gravesites, often spending the entire night there.

Each year I visit Mercado 23 (Market 23) in downtown Cancun to buy dulces (candy) and Bebé’s Halloween costume (Halloween is becoming increasingly popular in Cancun each year). This year I bought a little face paint for the festival as well.

And of course, I take lots of pictures.

Paper cross…

Dia de Muertos Cancun cruz

Cute couple!

Dia de Muertos Cancun Mercado 23

I just love these! #tinyfood

Dia de Muertos Mexico

Halloween is present at Market 23 as well.

Halloween Cancun

Sweet homemade deliciousness!

Dia de Muertos Cancun dulces

I always wonder what they do with the leftover goodies.

Market 23 Dia de Muertos Cancun

Amigos.

Dia de Muertos calveras

Marigolds, the official flower of Dia de Muertos.

Mercado 23 Cancun

Catrinas.

Catrinas Dia de Muertos Cancun

Mark my words, one of these years, I am going to create altar in our home! (I may have said this last year as well.)

I would also like to share our Halloween/Day of the Dead pumpkin. I was pretty proud of it, but it was rotten and moldy in less than a week. #tropicalproblems

Halloween Dia de Muertos

Bebé’s Halloween costume… it cost a pretty penny but it’s handmade.

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A lovely animated feature film about Day of the Dead was released this month. It’s well worth seeing it in the theater.

Day of the Dead movie

Last but not least, this colorful, animated short will make you fall in love with Dia de Muertos too! Grab a tissue!

 

Stay tuned for the post about this year’s Xcaret festival!

October 20, 2014
by admin
8 Comments

Happy 5th Birthday Bebé

I cannot believe it, but my “baby”, Bebé, is five years old!

Like good gringos, we had a party at McDonald’s to celebrate. They have a private area for birthday parties and they provide music and “party girls” (for lack of better words) to lead games. Bebé was thrilled to be the star of the show and thoroughly enjoyed himself.

In case you didn’t know, birthday parties have “themes” nowadays, and Bebé chose Captain America as his theme. (My “theme” was generally a homemade sheet cake and my grandparents coming over for dinner. I was actually going to make a sheet cake but I was terrified there wouldn’t be enough to go around.)

About 20 kids came, and believe it or not, the party was small and humble compared to what a lot of people in Cancun do. It is not uncommon for a middle class family to rent a “jardin”, an outdoor party facility that has a pool, and pay for catering, a bounce house, shows and entertainment, candy tables and if you’re lucky, beer for the parents.

Guests always receive a gift bag. In this case I gave away little toys instead of candy, which is the norm, because well, I figure they already get candy from the piñata.

Captain-America-birthday-party

Speaking of the piñata, this is what we put in it, the necklaces were a total rip-off but a real hit!

candy-pinata

Bebé asked for black balloons (!!!???) but I told them multicolored would be great. I love balloons!

birthday-party-mcdonalds-cancun

Doesn’t he look miserable?

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living-in-Cancun-3

In Mexico it is customary for the birthday boy or girl (or man or woman) to take a “mordida” or bite of the cake after “Las Mañanitas”, the local version of Happy Birthday is sung. Generally someone shoves their face into is as well but we got lucky and nobody did that to Bebé.

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Of course Papi was there too. I think everyone enjoyed themselves, most importantly Bebé.

Until next year…

living-in-Cancun-1

September 29, 2014
by admin
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A Weekend at Isla 33 on Isla Mujeres

Bebé and I spent the weekend of my birthday on Isla Mujeres and brought along my friend and her daughter. I had never stayed on the southern end of the island before, and wow, what a treat! I love staying on North Beach but the south end is even more laid back.

We arrived late Friday afternoon and after dropping our bags at the condo, we headed to Chedraui for groceries. We woke up the next morning to a beautiful, sunny day.

We stayed at Isla 33, a brand new condominum complex/resort. It’s not even finished yet!

condos Isla Mujeres

Isla-33-Mujeres-2

resorts Isla Mujeres

Check out the view from the pool! (Insert your feet here.)

hotels Isla Mujeres

After breakfast we took a short walk on the path that was recently constructed along the water. The views are spectacular!

To the right…

day trips CancunTo the left…

activites Cancun

All the kids really wanted to do want get to the pool ASAP, but we convinced them to pose for a few pictures.

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Then finally Bebé could jump in! (Who am I kidding? He is so not a baby anymore. :( )

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I’m sure it will come as no surprise that we spent most of the day at the pool. After naptime (for all four of us) we headed downtown for my official birthday dinner at Rolandi’s. I never tire of their bread, lasagna, and outdoor seating where you can witness all the action on Hidalgo.

The central plaza was decorated for Mexican Independence Day.

Isla Mujeres plaza central

The next day there was more pool time and then we headed downtown to grab a cart and take a drive around the island. Both kids fell asleep!

A ride around Isla isn’t complete without this shot…

Garrafon Isla Mujeres

When I went to return the cart I took a few shots on my way to the ferry. I could spend hours doing nothing but taking pictures (and drinking cerveza) on Isla.

Isla-Mujeres-Rene-Renee

Isla-Mujeres-window

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Isla-Mujeres-mural

I doubt we will ever tire of visiting this little slice of paradise.

September 23, 2014
by admin
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TBEX Cancun: Short but Sweet

travel social media convention

A couple of weeks ago I posted about being invited to be a local ambassador at TBEX Cancun, a conference of travel industry professionals in marketing, PR, social media and online community management (I pretty much do all of these jobs in some capacity). So, bright and early on my birthday I headed to the Moon Palace Golf & Spa, and more specifically the Moon Palace convention center to spend just one day at the two-day convention.

Registering was easy, and after the Best Day breakfast I headed to the opening keynote, which for the most part was a discussion about the controversy that had taken place during the planning of TBEX Cancun. I won’t get into it but basically it comes down to… is it OK to swim with dolphins in captivity?

The conversation about responsible travel was interesting albeit a bit vague, mostly because responsible travel is a huge issue/discussion. Things got a bit awkward when a bigwig from Dolphin Discovery stood up to ask some questions, at least for those of us who knew who she was.

I attended three “breakouts”. Each hour atendees could choose from five sessions in the categories of Content, Commerce, Community and two TBEX Business options. It was a difficult decision each hour, because each session applied to something I do. I found each breakout to contain both very basic and more advanced info.

Lunch was fun! I met some fellow attendees and was disappointed that I wouldn’t be around for the speed networking sessions to meet more.

I found the event sparked my creativity, and I can’t wait to use some of the ideas I came up with. I could tell it definitely would have been beneficial to have attended the entire convention, including all of the social events, but at 3:30pm it was time to head to Isla Mujeres for the weekend. More about that later!