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Quintana Roo State

Upcoming Random Events in Mexico City & beyond!

As part of my continuing “Live Vicariously Through My Friends in Mexico” program, I wanted to alert y’all to some upcoming events in DF, Quintana Roo, and Hidalgo state that I thought may be worth checking out. Rest assured I continue to keep my finger on the pulse of kitschy activities despite my absence from Mexico, all in exchange for the small request of merely a few of your cheesy photos to make me feel like I was there. 😉


That’s right folks– the month of July once again brings us the annual Lucha Libre: La Experiencia!! The dates are July 23 & 24 at Centro Banamex. Have you ever thought to yourself, “I wonder what it would be like if a bunch of luchadors and lucha libre super fans got together and hung out for two days at a tradeshow that also has a professional wrestling ring set up?” Now is your chance to find out!! For fond memories of LuchaFest 2009, check out my prior post.

Recall this photo of me with a veritable "Who's Who" of up-and-coming lucha libre stars.

Their Facebook site may merit a visit, as there seem to be some hot prizes & giveaways happening in the final feverish moments leading up to the extravaganza.

El Matador is on the right, accompanied by famous "mini" luchador Mascarita Dorada. (photo courtesy El Matador)

Since you folks let me down on live reporting from the Feria Nacional de Burros (which, btw, was recently featured in the San Francisco Chronicle online!!), I have already nailed down a correspondent for this event. Friend and luchador El Matador, who has also recently relocated back to the DC area, will be flying down to Mexico City for the craziness. Keep an eye out for the gentleman on the right– if you are lucky, perhaps you can get one of his action figures, which currently is gracing my cubicle at work. I have not yet inquired as to whether El Matador will be doing any wrestling here in DC, but I feel like come election time next year, there will surely be some enterprising politician looking for a popularity boost by taking on one of the rudos…!

MEXICAN MICROBREWS: Yes, Virginia, there is a beer besides Corona in Mexico

If you ask the average person about Mexican beer, you’ll probably get an answer restricted to either the Grupo Modelo brands (Corona, Victoria, Pacifico, Negro Modelo, ) or those of FEMSA (Dos Equis, Sol, Indio, Bohemia, Tecate). But a revolution has been brewing, my friends!! (pun intended)

Mexican craft beer festival? Sold!

A number of craft breweries have emerged around Mexico, and they will have their wares on display September 1-3 at the World Trade Center in Mexico City during the Congreso Cerveza México 2011: Por La Cerveza Libre festival. You will be able to sample more than 100 beers for a mere $150 pesos/day (with advance registration)! This event is part of the Gourmet Show that happens at the same time/place– check out last year’s pics here to see if it merits a visit.

WHALE SHARK SEASON IS NOW!! Come swim next to a fish with a 6-foot-wide mouth!

Swimming with the whale sharks off the coast of Isla Holbox in Quintana Roo state in Mexico is one of those wildlife-interaction experiences that I think you have to do at least once, just like a safari in Africa, seeing the giant tortoise in the Galapagos, and visiting prairie dogs in Nebraska. John and I made it down last June & stayed at the Holbox Dream hotel (thumbs up; great air conditioning, which quickly became my main criteria for a hotel on an island in the summer).

We were too cheap to pay for a guide that took photos of us underwater, but check out my friend Joy’s amazing photos or Kelly’s story & pics on their blogs. While the average whale shark is 25 feet long, they can be up to 40+ feet in length– they are the world’s largest living fish! Even the Washington Post is getting in on the whale shark action. They’re really an added bonus to what is already a lovely beach vacation.

The view from our hotel room on Isla Holbox, Mexico

México Desconocido has further tiburón ballena details, for those who read Spanish, and if you search for “whale shark” + “Isla Holbox” or “Isla Mujeres” (the other jumping-off point for tours), you’ll find reams of additional details. In fact, el Festival del Tiburón Ballena is happening July 15-17 on Isla Mujeres.


I will caveat this alert with the fact that I know nothing about this festival in honor of grilled meats except for the announcement on the México Desconocido calendar that is backed up by the announcement on the town of Actopan’s homepageTHIS weekend, folks, in scenic Actopan in the state of Hidalgo, a meat festival (probably lamb) is awaiting your arrival. The website indicates the primary attraction at this festival is the competition to win the title of Best Barbacoyero of the Year. The word barbacoyero is not one I’ve come across before, but I will translate it loosely as “one who makes barbacoa“. :)

This photo seems to confirm the event actually exists, though according to this blog we still seem to be awaiting further details…but last year’s agenda was quite thorough!  So don’t let the silly logistical details keep you away! Commit wholeheartedly & with low expectations- this is my travel motto & it never fails. If you show up in Actopan on Saturday with the goals of eating barbacoa & meeting a talented barbacoeryo, I can almost promise your expectations will be exceeded. 😉

The 2009 logo for the Feria de la Barbacoa was the best I could find, but I felt it lends a certain air of authenticity. Also, please note the ambitious "463rd anniversary". Just think what might be in store for the 465th year!!

In summary, have a fantastic time wearing a mask to wrestle a whale shark while drinking a Mexican craft beer and eating barbacoa. What a summer Mexico has to offer!!

My husband protects me from screaming, naked girls

Today marks the 5th full day of our Yucatan Peninsula vacation, and we’re currently in beautiful Tulum on the east cost of Quintana Roo, Mexico. (Isla Holbox & Valladolid were great; more to come!) We’re staying in a house (Casa de las Olas) on the very south bit of Tulum’s beachfront, literally the last property before the Sian Ka’an bioreserve & right below Rancho San Eric shown on this map.

We have a lovely 2nd floor vista of the beach & ocean, with a balcony whose doors we leave open in hopes of luring any nearby breezes into our non-air-conditioned eco-room. Being good little temporary eco-hippies, we went to bed fairly early last night with hopes of being lulled to sleep by nothing but waves crashing against the beach.

A shot of palm trees, beach and ocean from our balcony at Casa de las Olas

Instead, our attempted slumber was interrupted by screams of increasing volume from the beach. No, it wasn’t what some of you Mexico skeptics out there may be thinking–  these were not screams of narco violence. Rather, these were screams of moron college girls prancing around naked in the surf at midnight.

We both ignored it in silence for a bit. I can understand that when you’re running around in the ocean, drunk and nude, there may be the occasion for a scream every now and then. But it quickly reached the point where I began to wonder if these girls had encountered a new nesting grounds for poisonous jellyfish, or if all of Tulum’s fishermen had suddenly arrived on the scene & had begun to vigorously tickle these twits en masse. Right in front of our window. Ok, I thought silently. That’s enough.

Apparently John sensed my “¿¿en serio??” vibe, as he got up from the bed right about then. “Idiots. They’re probably out there skinny-dipping,” he grumbled.

“Oh, they definitely are,” I informed him. “Didn’t you hear the one shout ‘OMG, are you naked?!?! tee hee hee!'”

John began to glance around the darkened room. “Where’s your camera?” I pointed him towards the camera lying impotently on the side table, with its battery tucked into the charger & rudely suckling away at the house’s limited solar energy reserve…  He reassembled the camera, and headed for the balcony.

“This should take care of things pretty quickly,” he said confidently.

He stood at the edge of our terraza, which as you can sort of see from the photo above, is set back a ways from the actual ocean behind the beach, a few palm trees and the roof of the suite on the 1st floor. Obviously, you’re not going to be able to take a photo of someone in the ocean, much less at night. This much is clear to you and I and John. But for all those girls knew, John was a professional journalist with a telephoto lens. 😉

He began snapping photos with as bright of a flash as our little Canon point-and-shoot could muster. The palm trees lit up brilliantly with each click. It took a couple pictures, but suddenly the girls erupted in a flurry of new screeches of actual concern.

“Someone’s up there taking photos of us!!!!” one yelped. “Aaaaaaaaahhh!!!!” shouted another. Most of their other words of wisdom were conveniently blurred by the sounds of the ocean.

The naked beach party quickly began to shift its location, in so taking with it the high-pitched shrills of tipsy coeds. Who knows where it went, but it was no longer directly in front of our peaceful balcony.

I sat on the bed giggling as John finished his photo shoot and returned to bed. “That was easy. But if they come back, I’m going down to the beach with a camera AND a flashlight.”

“Of course you are honey.”

This was the best photo from "The Night the Drunk Coeds Confused Tulum with Señor Frogs in Cancun"... (and this was only *after* I used Picasa's "I'm Feeling Lucky" photo editing feature, where it magically shows you the photo you meant to take if you were a master of the time-space-camera continuum). :)

John may not having a glowing future as a paparazzi, but if I’ve learned nothing else, it is that he will always be happy to intercede between me and annoying, drunk, naked, screaming girls. :)

Big Pimpin’: Holiday Inn Express, Cancun

John & I have been incredibly lucky to be able to do a *ton* of traveling around Mexico during our two years here. The last item to check off our list has been Yucatan & Quintana Roo states, better known to most gringos as CANCUN. :) Truth be told, I have never had a burning desire to visit Cancun itself– nothing against Cancun, but I’m just not a big all-inclusive, high-rise hotel type, as its Zona Hotelera (Hotel Zone) is largely known for. However, the area around Cancun (a.k.a. the states of Yucatan and Quintana Roo) have a veritable festival of amazing sights, gorgeous beaches, and restaurants that aren’t Señor Frogs. 😉

While it may seem like I have been traveling up a storm, John (bless his little heart) has been trapped at work for many moons. So we decided to make this our last big hurrah– 10 days of vacation, because he deserves it. :) AND we’re belatedly celebrating our two year wedding anniversary (since I was in China on May 22)!  We carefully mapped out our itinerary (read as: sent out rapid-fire B&B/hotel inquiries over the last 5 days) to include 2 nights on Isla Holbox, 1 night in Valladolid, 3 nights in Tulum, and 3 nights in Playa del Carmen.

However, our flight from Mexico City arrived into Cancun Airport around 6PM the first night, so we thought it would be easiest to just spend tonite in Cancun and start the ~2 hour drive to Chiquila in the morning. (Chiquila is where the ferry departs for Isla Holbox.)

In good Midwestern tradition, I felt that we shouldn’t waste money staying in a fancy-pants Cancun hotel if we’re only going to be there for 1 night & leaving early. When looking for a cheapy-but-clean hotel, I have traditionally been a Holiday Inn Express fan due to their combo of free internet, free breakfast, and white sheets not covered in a dirty, skeevy-looking comforter. Also with plenty of beach time coming up, we felt ok with skipping a beach-side locale for one nite.

So it is that we are here tonite, big pimpin’, in the land-locked Holiday Inn Express near-ish to Cancun’s Zona Hotelera. And so it is that I learn that Holiday Inn Express may be a better choice when one is in land-locked southwestern Virginia rather than Cancun, Mexico.

In the event that you decide to consider the Holiday Inn Express for your next trip to Cancun, bear in mind that your views of sunsets & sounds of crashing waves will be few and far between.

Sign of Hotel Big Pimpin #1: this letter we received at check in:

I'm sorry, no electricity from 7-10:30AM...? Hey, I am all for maintenance projects, but I don't think I'm overstating expectations when I say that in paying for a hotel with electricity/lights, I expect electricity/lights during some portion of the morning...?

Sign of Hotel Big Pimpin #2: hotel pool doubles as murder scene for slow-moving mice.

I went to sit on the edge of the pool briefly when we got back to the room. I saw an employee come walking around the right side of the pool, who then began vigorously swabbing (? I thought) the steps along the side of the pool. As she approached me, I said, "Buenas Noches" to no response. I turned away, but then swiftly glanced back to see that what she was doing was SQUEEGEING A MOUSE TO DEATH with a long-handled squeegee. Eew. Uh, we'll talk later. This photo depicts the location of Mickey's death, on the 3rd step.

Sign of Hotel Big Pimpin’ #3: Me drinking high-rent Cris-tal water while wearing my Mexico team colors, sitting on the hotel bed.

That's pronounced Cris-TAL, to you laypersons.

Anyway, I anticipate things perking up when we get to Holbox tomorrow. :) Signing out from Cancun’s finest, the Holiday Inn Express!!

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