Sunday, March 22, 2009

Mexico: Day 5, 6 and 7

Beach. Eat. Shop. Beach. This sums up pretty much days 5 and 7.

Day 6 on the other hand was a great adventure. We went in the wee hours of the morning on a tour bus down to visit Tulum and then Xel-Ha. Tulum is an ancient Mayan ruins site with a significant temple of some sort. It was interesting. We took pictures. I got to tell you, Eliot loves this stuff. As many of you know we went to Machu Picchu which was the whole Incan scene last summer and prior to that we both have done our share. Matter of fact, Eliot has been to Belize and saw Te-Cal which is another Mayan location. Being a religion teacher you may think that I would have a specific desire in the ancient pantheon of gods but in truth, it's cool for about 10 minutes and then it's hot as hell and all I want to do is find a shady area and a cocktail.

Our afternoon, was spent in Xel-Ha which a natural water park. There are so many cool things to say about this place. First off, everything is included. Food, lockers, drinks, alcohol, ice cream, towels, snorkel gear...the list goes on. So there is no worrying about anything. Of course the super cool part is being able to snorkel in fresh water...well snorkel at all. I had never been. I know I am a Florida but it's really never come up. To be honest, most Floridan natives, enjoy the beach in limited amounts as long as there are activities...a walk, a frisbee, a smoothie...we aren't really much for sitting in the heat and getting burnt. In the Westcoast I suppose the snorkeling thing has never really come up. I love it!

It was so neat. I could have done it for days. Xel-Ha also had hammocks to nap in which Eliot did. There was also Cenotes to explore, tropical parrots, jungle, and caves. We totally when snorkel-spulunking. It was awesome. Eliot has promised a trip to a coral reef very soon so I can experience even cooler more colorful fish.

In truth there was a moment, that there was a school of fish and several others all coming at us, or so it seemed and it was fairly intimidating. Imagine giant fish with funny headgear at your windows. I mean it's a little invading. For me there is a dual reaction of absolute awe and a "Oops, uh sorry! Take the gumps to school, don't mind me."

I could tell you about my nemesis on our tour. A pretentious American woman whom if I was a fighting lady I would have smacked at some point. Particularly on our way home when we were taken home in a van separate from the rest of the group because our hotels were had fewer people. Evil lady after several snippy comments during the day, couldn't help but distract Victor the driver by telling him how she had an awful day and that she didn't really think the Mayans had any truth to their practices. Seriously. Sigh. Victor was distracted while driving 5 MPH on the interstate trying to recommend books to Evil lady. But instead of harping on her, I will move on.

Today we got up headed to the beach and were laying under our cabana for about four hours. There was a rainstorm so we moved under the bar and then went back out. We got back to our hotel and showered, napped. We went out for a last bit of shopping and dinner. The Gaurkee's head home early in the morning!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Mexico: Day 4

Ah the Spa. We woke up and had breakfast which oddly I have done every day on this honeymoon. Breakfast is amazing with tons of choices and really the best cafe con leche on Playa. Our hotel owes a chunk of beach with complimentary cabanas for it's visitors so we walked down to the Caribbean shoreline and enjoyed a gorgeous morning at the beach beign waiting on by Pancho.

In the afternoon our Spa day officially began. Spa Itza is a part of the Hotel La Tortuga. Apparently, Eliot had read somewhere that it used to be called Itza Spa but they got tired of all the American giggles, so they made a little change. It still makes me giggle. Our first appointment was for a Sauna, Steam and Herbal bath. We were excorted to the lockrooms to slip into a thin white sheet and robe and then taken to the roof. When we arrived at the roof there was a tiny little hut, much like an igloo, with a even tinier wooden door. They openned it for us and asked us to crawl in. The tiny hut had steaming black rock. Within 10 minutes I had had enough of the steam clean effect and switched over to the Sauna. It was a traditional Sauna with rocks which was not any more successful to me than the hut. You combine an already tropical climate with a person that is from a tropical climate and whose entire bloodline comes from a tropical climate, you can't imagine that a tiny hot box is going to be the highlight.

Shortly after we were taken to our bath. The room was decorated with candlelight and beautiful flowers that were floating in our bath and placed all over the room. We slipped in and relaxed. Our escort took turns giving us head and neck massages. It was lovely. Once we were finished we retreated to our room and took a nice long nap.

Afterwards, we returned to Spa Itza and were greeted by our earlier escort for our Maya Clay treatment. Once again we were asked to remove all our clothing and wear only the light robe provided. Once we arrived to our treatment location there were too twin beds that had simple white towels on them. Eliot and I were instructed to put on the tiny foe-paper underware that only covered what the leaves did for Adam and Eve. We were to lay in our beds head to head. Our treatment specialists entered and it began.

The soothing music was in play and the ladies first began to exflolitate our entire bodies with a concoction that was in a small ceramic bowl. Every inch of us was lathered and then thin foam flipflops placed on our feet and we were lead to the showers. We rinsed phase one.

Once again we were placed on the beds but this time there was no white towel but instead it was yellow plastic seran wrap. Phase two was the Mayan Clay. From toes to hairline we were covered in Mayan Clay. Warm tea bags were placed on my eyes as the process was being completed. Then, like giant burritos the layers of wrappings began. First the yellow seran wrap. Second a canvas weight cloth. Third a leather something or other. (Note I can't move since I was clayed up and I can't see through tea bags, so this is all based on what it felt like.) Finally some sort of straps were placed on top to make the perfect burrito. She whispers in my ear to let me know that she will return shortly. The lights are dimmed and the exit stage right.

Instantly I start laughing. The absurdity of being wrapped up like a burrito in a Mexican Spa. Eliot is over there meditating or something. I believe that this response is...I'm relaxing. I can't really relax. I am naked with a paper thong and wrapped up so tight, plus I can't see a thing. Our Mayan Clay rubber returns and slowly opens us up. It is now that I understand. It is magical. We are bought once again to the showers to rinse. Now we through our paper skivvies and our skin is softer than a baby's bottom. We ahve been restored.

Phase three begins. We are cleansed, softened and now mint lotioned from head to toe. The slight tingly feeling of the lotion is an amazing feeling. Even now, the day after, my skin is still unprescendently soft.

After our Mayan Clay wrap, the pampering continued with his and her pedicures. Not only was this recommended by our very own Tracy but we did feel it was a perfect treat for us considering our love our feet. Eliot had never had one before so that was even better.

I have been thinking about this feet thing. Why feet? Well, feet help you travel from one point to another. Feet always force you to take things one step at a time. To enjoy the journey. Feet hold you up on days that even when your heart or mind can't seem to. So our feet together just makes us remember that we walking together, side by side, in tiny little huts or lathered up in strange clay, together we venture on the journey.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Mexico Day 2 & 3

There isn't too much to report. We have been lazy honeymooners, a lot of sleeping, strolling, and eating. Playa Del Carmen is beautiful and quaint. We are working ourselves up to enjoying the spa in our hotel.

One thing about people watching just to keep you all on your toes. We lay in these bed like pool side loungers. Remember the pool is like a lagoon and surrounded by trees to really ingrain the image. Leaves are falling into the pool all day long. From first thing in the morning until the darkness of the night, the team of hotel workers clean the leaves every 15 minutes. They take the time to get out the pool vacuum, the nets and brooms. Clean. Put everything away. In seconds a lovely breeze hits bring down all the leaves once again. Like clockwork, the team appears again. Get out the gear. Clean. Put everything away. Perhaps it's their hard work that keeps us so unwilling to move.

Food. The food is good. Everything is served with hot sauce which to me a wonderful; to Eliot not so much. Our morning breakfast has been superb here at the hotel but we venture out to the local restaurants for other foodie delights. There hasn't been a bad bite.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Honeymoon: Mexico Day 1

Eliot and I arrived to Mexico yesterday morning. You could practically smell the salsa in the air the moment you entered the airport in Cancun. After a short hour and half stint in the immigration line, we hustled through customs and well then we got hustled. Not really hustled. They line the entrance area with official looking people that are supposedly representing the chamber of tourism in Mexico when in fact what they would like to do is convince you to visit their new resort/condos and listen to the totally free pitch. We did get a map out of the whole thing and the current exchange rate which is really unbelievable.

Now knowing the system we made a beeline through the rest of the not so helpful official not official people and made it outside to find our driver with our name posted on a clipboard. We were welcomed and quickly loaded up to head to Playa del Carmen. As if we were royalty our driver brought us directly to the front door and brought in our bags at the Hotel Tortuga. The hotel is like paradise. They brought us fruity drinks as we checked in and the bellhop escorted us to our room.

Once you enter there is a lagoon at the very center surrounded by beautiful palm trees, lush beds, the bar and restaurant. The lagoon turned out to be a lazy rier that will take allow you to float over and supposedly even leads to the spa, which we haven't ventured to yet. The room is gorgeous, private and perfect.

We dropped off our things and took to the streets, because well that is how we roll. Our first lunch was at the imfamous Dr. Taco which was fantastic. We then strolled the commerical street and bought honeymoon rings since we decided to leave our real ones at home this trip. It was a lovely first day!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

3 days....until Mrs. Gaurkee

I am the luckiest woman alive. Not only do I get to marry my soul mate, the one that completes me, mi "media naranja" (in Spanish means my half an orange)... but I get to have a giant party with all my friends and family. I have been so blessed to have the most amazing people in my life.

I suppose it is natural to have your mind race through your personal history the week you make a huge leap into the world of marriage. On Monday, El and I dine at Le Petite Brigitte's and l looked through high school yearbooks. I looked at all the crazy activities that I was a part of and thought back to some teachers that changed the way I viewed the world (Iles), the land of fictional characters (Palmer/Epstein), the way I spoke (Schelet), the way I saw others (Howard) and my personal ethics (Zulli). They changed everything... but not as much as those friends that have held my hand then and while I grew.

On Tuesday, El and I ate at La Casa de Ortega. It is a lovely little place in south St. Petersburg where they have the best service and delicious cuisine. My mind wonder to my childhood. Growing up with two wonderful parents that always encouraged me and supported me. I thought about those moments of slumber parties and pinatas.

Today Wednesday, as I sit in a room of sophomores tackling a test on Hinduism; listening to the kindergarten giggle by the door, I am thankful for the work that I do. My student forum through me a surprise bridal shower yesterday which still makes me smile from ear to ear. My colleagues that have been amazing during all the planning and the day to day minutia.

I am blessed. I am thankful. I am getting married in 3 days!!!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

10 days and counting...Wedding Planning

10 things that I have learned about Wedding Planning:

1. Send the Save the Date things. It may be a pain in the tush at first but it helps to get everyone's addresses that you think you have correct actually correct. Keep it simple. Send a cute card not some novelty item and even when you think it's simple, take a second and think it through completely.

2. Join some free website like The Knot or Brides. It has a ridiculously massive checklist of things to do by month. You put in all your information and it will organize it for you. Feel free to check off the crap that you are either not going to do or that is just in the way like: Relax, enjoy the day! Duh. You probably won't be walking into the reception with the checklist so just store those sort of reminders in your head somewhere.

3. Watch Bridezilla. It keeps you in check. No real person is that insane. It's TV. They are making it up because they get some sort of throw back. Seriously. Oh and if you are watching some girl lose her mind over something dumb like bathroom baskets and you have no idea what the hell that is, let it go. Chances are its dumb for a reason.

4. Groom can do things. Eliot has been a saint and an amazing partner in this process. There is a reason that you plan to marry this person and if you can't trust him to call and pay the video guy or send a cranky email to the venue, again, then you have bigger problems.

5. Be sure to give your mom some tasks that way she isn't consistently asking what she can do. Whatever you ask her to do more than likely she will enjoy and want to do it so well that it will distract her from other things.

6. Who ever are the ladies that you have chosen to be your lovely maids, trust them. This is kind of like the groom one. You can't trust these women to do things like get their dress, throw the shower or bachelorette party then why are they in your wedding? You have to allow the people that love you to have some say AND there is no reason to lose your mind attempting to control every single little thing.

7. If you say 130, shoot 150 in your purchases. That long lost second cousin twice removed that hasn't seen you in 5 years that you think is never going to make it and you feel like you should invite since you have shared eons of family functions....will come. That nutty neighbor will come. You will be touched and surprised about the people that want to be there. The other option is to go for the tiny wedding, mid-sized is actually quite big range of numbers possibilities. Oh and don't believe those "experts" when they say that only 70% will attend---you can NOT predict people.

8. Talk to your vendors. Email them. Organize their numbers so you can have then handy. Be sure to have clear expectations. Find a friend that you trust and adore; who also has no problem being assertive, to be the contact person on that day. Oh, and be sure that where ever you are having the reception, especially if it's a hotel, that you get a clear idea about the room reservation procedures. Get it in writing. Make then stick to it.

9. Just as more isn't also get what you pay for. I don't suggest breaking the bank but pay the extra to save yourself the hassle every time. In the long run, you will be happier to have a competent florist and a reliable DJ then getting some two for one deal to save a buck. You may save a buck on one end but end up dancing all night to Elvis' least memorable hits.

10. For the love all that is good be sure that you love that man! Be sure that there is no one else you want to be with ever and that every possible conversation that could be had has been had: finances, children, personal goals, family, end of days preferences, religious ideals , is he gay?, does he ever want to be a woman? I mean these days you gotta ask. And I say this because all the crap that one puts into one day for a wedding is exhausting and at times stressful but is nothing compared to a marriage to the wrong person, I imagine. So I lucked out.