Christine Westen


Christine Westen

North America » Mexico » Yucatán » Merida February 11th 2023

Last day of two weeks of vacation. My first flight did not leave Merida until 1 so we had time to walk to breakfast and linger a bit. Cafe Montejo had the honor of the last good meal of the trip. I decided to start easing myself back into the US by having some hot cakes but with a side of fresh fruit and yogurt. Way too much food again but so good. I also had papaya juice which was super refreshing. All morning there was a threat of rain and it held off long enough for us to get back to the Airbnb and then to get into the Uber to the airport. Once on the road it started pouring! I was glad the airport had an overhang for the drop off area! My aunt ... read more
Hot Cakes!
Rainy Merida
Sunny, but smoggy, Mexico City

North America » Mexico » Yucatán » Merida February 10th 2023

For my last full day in Merida I wanted to do some shopping to pick up souvenirs for people, sit in a park and not really do anything else specific. It was a really warm, sunny day and also ended up being the one we did the most walking. The first walk was to breakfast that I thought was good. I had fried eggs on rice with avocado and fried plantains and fresh orange juice. Once we were done eating we walked to the main square and went in the Museo Casa Montejo. This front of this building is the oldest house in Merida. Inside is a free museum offering decorated rooms in the home as well as revolving exhibitions. Climbing to the second floor gives you a nice view out onto the square. From here ... read more
Inside the Casa de Montejo
Temporary exhibition

North America » Mexico » Yucatán » Celestun February 9th 2023

Did you know Mexico has flamingos? I didn’t until I was looking at things to do around Merida and read about Celestun. This is an island about an hour and a half from Merida and I highly recommend going if you are in this area. The highway to Celestun is one lane each way but a very good road. There wasn’t a lot of traffic but I bet it’s busy in the hotter months with people escaping to the beach! Our goal for the day was to do a boat tour of the mangroves and spend time at the beach. We accomplished both. The tour of the Mangroves of Dzinitun was amazing! Our guide, Angel, was very knowledgeable about the wildlife as well as the entire ecosystem of the mangroves. We road in a punt boat, ... read more
So peaceful
Black hawk

North America » Mexico » Yucatán » Merida February 8th 2023

This morning we had another early start breakfast of Cheerios. Our destination for the day was the Hacienda Mucuyche. This is one of many haciendas that were built during the henequen boom of the late 1880s to the 1920s. Henequen is a member of the agave family and the fibers are super strong. It was used to make ropes and bags to store grain as well as hats, handbags and more. The invention of nylon saw the end of the wealth for henequen plantations as nylon was cheaper and easier to produce. Today henequen is still used for hats and bags available for sale in many of the local markets. The other attraction here is the two cenotes, Carlota and Mayan Blue. Mucuyche has been left in its abandoned state and is hauntingly beautiful. The front ... read more

North America » Mexico » Yucatán » Uxmal February 7th 2023

After a quick breakfast of Cheerios we headed out for a day of exploring Mayan ruins. There was quite a bit of fog as we started our drive and I thought it would be neat to see the ruins shrouded in fog. Once we were closer to Uxmal the fog lifted and the sun came out. So no foggy pictures. Uxmal was founded around 700 and was inhabited until sometime around 1000. The city is made up of pyramids and other buildings used to honor Chac, the god of rain. The one interesting feature to me was the many cisterns they dug and used to collect rain water for the dry season. This area of the Puuc region has no natural source of water so to settle in an area without they had to figure out ... read more
Cute little bats
One of many iguana

North America » Mexico » Yucatán » Merida February 6th 2023

My first full day in Merida was a busy one! We started the morning by eating at Chaya Maya, a cute restaurant with a nice courtyard. I had some tacos with turkey, avocado, cucumber, tomato and pickled onions. Also some orange juice that wasn’t really fresh squeezed but still refreshing. And the meal was very filling! The tourist office offers a free walking tour of the historic square and we were able to take the first one at 9:30. Our guide talked about the history of Merida and how it was built on Mayan ruins. He explained all the buildings on the square (mostly I forgot already what they all were) and the style of architecture. We walked a little off the square to two very nice smaller parks. Each park had lots of trees and ... read more
City Hall
Costco Cenote

North America » Mexico » Yucatán » Merida February 5th 2023

By coincidence, I already had a week long trip to Merida, Mexico with my aunt and uncle planned before I won my work trip to Aruba and luckily they were right in a row. Two weeks away from the cold and snow of South Elgin is just what I need! My room at the airport hotel included breakfast. I was disappointed to learn the free breakfast did not include juice. How can you be in Florida and not have fresh orange juice with your breakfast??? I paid for it…. The room had no view and was pretty boring so I checked out and headed to the terminal at 9 for my 12:30 flight. The security line was short and I was quickly back in terminal D, where I again was about as far from my gate ... read more
Nice screened in balcony
Love this pool area
Dinner drinks

Central America Caribbean » Aruba » Palm Beach February 4th 2023

Our last morning in paradise. After another wonderful breakfast buffet we went to take a walk on the beach. The gentle sound of the waves and the soft white sand is something I will really miss. However, we got caught in a passing shower! It started out as a light mist and quickly turned into a downpour. We ran under a tree, which offered little shelter from the rain. Once it stopped we quickly walked back towards the hotel, having to stop under a palapa at the Ritz as the rain picked up once more. After dodging the rain, we decided to sit by the pool for a while. Then back to the room to sit on the balcony for a bit, grabbed some lunch at Starbucks and then had to head down to the lobby ... read more
Cloudy, rainy beach walk
Pool view
Airport hotel

Central America Caribbean » Aruba » Palm Beach February 3rd 2023

Today for breakfast….the buffet! Shocking I know! After breakfast we took a cab to the Aruba Aloe Factory and Museum. This is a really neat place! They have an aloe farm smack in the middle of town and there is a free guided tour. Our guide explained how aloe was brought here from Africa, so it’s not native to the island. However, they now have a thriving industry growing and turning it into everything from sunscreen to deodorant to shampoo. Of course they have aloe gel, but I was amazed at all the other products. The one interesting fact about aloe is there is a very concentrated yellow sap that is part of the plant which is actually a laxative. They make sure to remove that before processing the gel. Wouldn’t want to ingest that! After ... read more
Apparently Radio Shack lives here

Central America Caribbean » Aruba » Palm Beach February 2nd 2023

Today for breakfast….the buffet! Once again the mango juice was delicious. And we were treated to a little rainbow! The only thing on the agenda today was relaxation. The company pays for one spa appointment for each person at the Mandara Spa here at the resort. This was my first time at a real spa and it was so nice. After we checked in we were taken to the locker room to change into robes and then led to the relaxation area. Our individual therapists came and greeted us with Namaste and led us to our destinations. For Renee, that was a mani/pedi, which she says is the best she has ever had and so relaxing! I had the Aruba massage. This involved some aromatherapy, hot stones, warm towels and, at some points, firm pressure. She ... read more
Assorted shells and corals
Beautiful Landscaping at the hotel
Renee and a grackle have a staring contest

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