Let's recap if you're only reading this one:
It all started in May - Vancouver, Brazil, Copenhagen, France, Sweden - big events we were working in each place. Then a summer of festivals and events and now, here we are, Mexico.
A quick run down of events:
There was KulturSYDhavn, round 2. It went well. It was combined with a mobile hacking workshop so that was really interesting, and followed up with my good friend Christian welcoming his daughter, Katinka into the world - congratulations to you all! Then we had a fairly hectic insane fall - a quick trip to Berlin as part of a visit with Nick and Ben - my good Canadian friends who have now twice come to Denmark so that was fantastic. A Copenhagen Burlesque, short but lovely as usual. A new apartment - oh yes, our fabulous penthouse in the sky is now gone and we are on the ground floor of the middle of the city - across the street from Copenhagen burlesque actually and despite the fact that as I type this, 1:50 am on a Sunday and there is a party in the wine bar that's attached to my
computer room, I am super happy. It is a cosy apartment - very small but feeling like home, and right outside is a 'piazza' if you will, Vesterbro square, right in the center of hipsterville, so full of fun shops, bars, restaurants and two theatres that I could walk to in less than 2 minutes if I was really taking my time. It's great! However, moving in has been madness.
During the three month move in period where we had two apartments, we tried to move a bit every weekend, but moving down six flights of stairs is tough, and so is parking in the middle of the city to unload, not to mention moving from 117m2 to 89. So it's been special. Add to that a crazy schedule with workshops in different cities in Denmark, two museums to install our installations at, and an upcoming trip to Mexico and one month to finish it all up in and the stress was high.
Seeing as how we were going crazy, we thought it would be fun to have a housewarming party. On Halloween - hence, our Halloween HouseWarming. It was actually quite perfect and wonderful to see all
our friends amidst all the madness. We actually managed to get everything done, install at the Culture Yard, our Tesla exhibit, the Magic "wayback" Mirror at the technical museum, do workshops in Aalborg and Roskilde and make a Talking Tree for a Culture Night in copenhagen. Not bad! Also we published a new website for the company: www.geekphysical.com
and started a newsletter, you can add yourself to the subscription list here if you'd like: http://eepurl.com/hUM6M
So then...completely trashed and broken, we headed for Mexico.
So this will be in two parts: 1)Mexico, 2)Kennedy Space Center.
Let's start with Miami. Yep, that's just in there for fun. We stopped over in Miami for the night to visit my lovely, inspiring friend Maria. She's the girl who started all the cool stuff that happens in Copenhagen and has been a close friend and role model for me for some time now. She's moved back to Miami in the past two years and so we thought this would be a great time to pop by and say hello. We stayed in her beautifully decorated apartment for the night and got to go on a gallery walk, checking out all the
fun galleries and posh people and hipsters and everything in the art district of Miami. We had a tasty dinner at a cuban place playing loud music and serving delicious food - then we were off back to the airport again to get to Mexico.
Arriving in Mexico and going to my parent's resort - the Grand Mayan, was everything I hoped it would be. Lush, beautiful palm trees and jungle-like environment, over-the-top but still beautiful decorations and sculpted pools and lighting and everything - it was amazing. We spent 10 days in Mexico and it felt like a lifetime.
Our first day Dzl was sick so he slept it off while my parents and I battled jet lag by eating all the Mexican food we could find. Not really - but the restaurant we went to did serve big meals and we were all zombified by the time we were finished. Finding the restaurant however, managed to work up our appetites, as soon as you leave the door to your hotel, (there are many separate hotel like buildings throughout the resort, each with its own huge hut like lid made of leaves) you get lost. It's literally
a jungle with pathways through it - you walk and walk and think you're going the right way and turn to ask people who are passing you, only to hear them muttering, "no honey, we were supposed to take a left back there, or is it there, by that palm tree, or by the flamingos, was it by the pool? Which pool now...?" so we were alone in our wanderings, but we certainly weren't getting far. We ended up at the wrong restaurant - wrong in that we thought it was a different one with performers, but we had accidentally stumbled upon the gem of the resort, "Frida's grill" and this was where we ended up having most of our meals because the food was so delicious.
Our second day began with a trip to Walmart...and ended with us wondering if we were being set up to be kidnapped and robbed. That's timeshare guys for you. A timeshare, in case you're unfamiliar with the term, is roughly explained, a property you buy into, in week long segments. Instead of buying the entire house, you buy one week of the house - or in this case, the resort. Time share
agents are easy to spot and hard to get rid of. They come at you from every angle, friendly, authoritative, cunning, distressed, anything that could work, they try - and they're good. Probably the best sales people ever. And we walked into Walmart with bull's eyes on our wrist - our time share insists on separating guests into categories, regular, time share owners and rich time share owners. We were of the middle variety and as such, had to wearing a screaming red wrist band which of course, was candy for the time share folks. They spotted us right away, and tried to lure us in "we'll pay half your grocery bill". We said sure. My parents... are the time share folk's worst night mare. Both knowledgeable about the time shares and all the ins and outs, one a cop, the other a I-get-what-I-want kinda gal, and experience of many time share talks behind them. We went through Walmart and bought all our groceries, sadly for the time share folks who thought we were probably just shopping for lunch, we were shopping for the entire 10 day stay. The bill was large. Paying half of it wasn't pleasant but they
did it anyway. We agreed, as one must, to a time share talk and a tour, snorkling around the Island Cozumel. Having given them our money and copies of our id we went home. The time share guy...sigh. Dude, if you're reading this... please fix the following:
- Get yourself some official ID (your friend's Walmart ID does not in any way, represent to me that you work for a time share company)
- Your broken-in-half driver's license also doesn't count.
- Photos of children do not make me a)believe they are yours or b)cause me to believe your identity either
- Waving a laminated "Time Share Talk" brochure in my face and saying you "officially have official material with authenticate photos of time shares" also does not convince me. I too, can design, print and laminate myself my very own Kingdom-of-Vanessa and sell rooms to people. The amount of times you use authoritative words does not, in fact reinforce your believability.
Moving on... to say the least, the time share madness was indeed madness but we had a fun tour of several areas by a tour guide who 'guaranteed' us that his 'official' roots
were Mayan. What's up with all the convincing? Strange - but an excellent tour if one allowed themselves a suspension of disbelief. We drove down to Tulum, one of the major Mayan cities which served as a port to Cobá. It was one of the last Mayan cities and was destroyed when settlers brought the gift of disease with them. Our "Mayan" tour guide told us stories of the ruins, its rituals and history. There was a ritual which happened quite frequently, offering up a human for sacrifice to the gods. The entire city would gather and feast and party and then all turn to one man who would offer the sacrifice. In Mayan culture, it was an honour to be sacrificed to the gods. The tour guide told us of the different ways people were chosen for sacrifice. Anyone born on holy days (sometime in July if I remember correctly), girls who were cross eyed, and some others who I can't remember just now. Quite special. We went from there to another area where we were able to see the highly mysterious and well discussed, Mayan Calendar. The area was wooded, with a long trail of trees that we
were cautioned immediately not to touch, since their bark would burn your skin. We came upon a strange piece of rock, quite large and people started taking out their cameras. The guide waited patiently for a few moments and then led us through a pathway around to the other side of the rock and explained that thousands of tourists each year eagerly take out their cameras and take photos of the rock, not having a clue what they are taking photos of, and furthermore, not realizing that the significant side of the rock is the other side, where ancient hieroglyphics are printed on it. It was a good lesson for all of us. We moved on to what looked like a valley of concrete, two sharply angled walls with a narrow passage way in between them. Apparently it was an ancient basketball court, where the winners of the match won the very prestigious prize of being decapitated. Again, with the sacrifice-is-honorable-and-sought-after. Here is where we met the Mayan Calendar (or at least, a copy of it, the real thing was a few meters away, hiding under some protective casing). And here is where we got one of *many* lectures. The
movie 2012, which I have not seen, is quite obviously, a terrible insult to the Mayans. Every tour guide, including our own could be heard lamenting about the ridiculousness of it and telling the true story. The true story loosely translates to, there is a calendar with many dates written on it, and then no more dates...because they ran out of stone. I'm sure they would have made another stone when they needed to. What seemed very apparently however, was this strange set of dates (month, day, year) one after the other, was inlaid into the basketball court, and I could swear, these were simply the dates of the games. So therefore we could assume that the last date was in fact, the last scheduled game before they wrote up the newest season of decapitation-ball; and not the end of the world as we know it. But hey, I guess we'll see how it goes. Happy 2012.
We eventually came to the site of the pyramid, hidden within the middle of the forest, a clearing suddenly appeared, and there stood a huge pyramid. Not Egypt-huge, but pretty big considering all the other surroundings. It rose high above the forest,
and climbing only 1/3 of the way up (it was steep, slippery, with no guide rails or safety and giant cliff sides that led to a rocky death below) I could see far and wide above the forest and surrounding areas. My crazy father and Dzl climbed all the way to the top and my mom, afraid of heights managed a good 1/4 of the way up which was quite a feat on its own considering the steepness of it. We decided after a long day of walking to play the lazy tourist card and take bike-taxis back, which was a lot of fun actually though I felt terrible for the drivers who were working their butts off trying to haul our big butts around. 😊
At this point we were beat, tired from all the walking and climbing and tired after a long day waking up early, so our next stop was welcomed with open arms. We came upon Paradise beach, and were indeed, welcomed to paradise. It was the white sand, palm tree dotted, covered beer hut in the middle of it all, kinda beach you see in every postcard ever. It was beautiful. We changed quickly
and ran into the warm ocean, being rocked by the waves and then retreating to the loungechairs on the beach, enjoying a cold Mexican beer and soaking up the sunshine. It was a perfect moment.
We spent the rest of the trip back talking to the tour guide about his day and how it is with the tours everyday. He had so much energy we were amazed that he does trips daily, and most of them well over 11 hours long. Thanks Mr. Tour Guide, you did a great job.
That evening we relaxed and my parents had a wonderful moment as they found baby sea turtles being hatched on the beach of our resort. A marine guide was there, and my parents got a chance to hold the babies and help them find their way to the water.
The next day was Magda and Al's wedding. We arrived at their resort in good time and upon seeing Magda, we immediately got to breakfast, and had mimosas in true Vanessa and Magda style. The morning was spent getting ready, hair and makeup, which was quite nice because I got to know Magda's lovely friends Jody and Courtney.
We then got the bride ready and headed out for the ceremony. Magda looked amazing, one of those women who was meant to be a beautiful bride in her gorgeous white dress. We headed outside, lined up with the ocean in the background, bridesmaids in pale pink dresses and groomsmen in purple shirts and white shorts, and watched Magda and Al 'tie the knot', or, in this case, 'combine the sand' as a Mexican tradition is to combine two vials of sand, blending your lives together. Of course, Al couldn't get his sand out of the bottle, so we had a much needed comic relief moment as he shook his vial hopelessly until the sand finally decided to make its way out. The whole thing was beautiful. We took some ridiculous photos on the beach (seriously, the photographer was crazy). As a first photo, he had all the girls kneel in the sand. Now... logically speaking, having girls kneel in the sand as the FIRST photo means scraped red knees and legs covered in sand for the rest of the photos. Sigh. Nevermind the truly intriguing shot he took of Magda kneeling, with her dress hiked up well past her
garter belt that he felt the need to lay down in the sand and point the camera upwards to take. Special times.
The reception dinner and party was also a lot of fun. The Mariachi band was fantastic, the food was incredible and the speeches quite moving, especially Al's. I sat at the head table with the bridal party and tried to capture as many fun moments as possible on camera. We ended the evening with a round of dancing in the club next door and Al doing a special dance that we managed to get on video. Nice work buddy.
We spent a blissful day at the pool. After having such a crazy summer, a hectic trip there, and a whirlwind few days, Dzl and I were desperate to just lay down quietly and do NOTHING. Which we did, for an entire day. We ordered food to our lounge chairs, ordered a bucket of beer, slid into the pool when we overheated and slithered out again to dry off and sleep or read. It was perfect. We ended the evening with another delicious dinner at the resort restaurants.
We went snorkelling the next day on yet
another dodgy timeshare deal. It was a 25 minute boat ride which took us out to Cozumel, which should be nearly as amazing as Australia...however, I don't agree. It had fish, yes, but nothing spectacular. We snorkelled, and maybe diving would have been better, but it certainly wasn't comparable to the Great Barrier Reef. We wandered around Cozumel and following the directions of the guy who sold us the tickets, we ended up at a wonderful little family-owned restaurant on the outskirts of town. The food was great and it was fun to see all the families eating there, and the young kid who must have been only about 12, doing a truly stand-up job of clearing tables and figuring out money. We did however torture the waiter a bit, as we asked for beers, (only wanting to get things from bottles) and he ran off, coming back 15 minutes later with Frescas. We looked at him funny and sent him off again to get beers, not realizing that the beverages weren't in the restaurant but rather, in a corner store down the street. So we felt terrible but it was a fun miscommunication. Cerveza / Fresca, I can see
the mixup. :P We finished off the trip fighting off over-zealous sales people in various stores (my parents love this part, they live to talk people down in price and play the game, but I didn't have the energy for it). We went to a tequila store and tasted the beautiful tequilas we've heard about, actually, the only tequila outside of a couple cocktails that we had on the trip. It was fantastic, much more like a fine scotch than the horrible kerosine like substance one receives in a bar when they order 'tequila shots'. It was smooth and full of flavors and there were hundreds of varieties.
The next day was another relaxing day which was again needed after a busy day. One of the things we wanted to do on the trip was have a ceremony. If you have been reading along, Dzl and I got married in 2010. We had our 'paper signing' day then, and a reception party six months later in the summer, and now were having the ceremony part, with my parents, and in Mexico to boot. We decided on going to another resort, Hacienda Tres Rios, which is a nature reserve/resort so
there are a lot of activities like kayaking, trailing bike riding, exploring the Cenotes, underwater caves. We started the day with a bike ride with my parents, exploring the nature park and seeing all the cenotes and seeing all the beautiful flora and fauna, tons of plants, mainly orchids before they are blooming and lots of fun little creatures like frogs and insects and birds. We spent a bit of time by the pool and then Magda and Al arrived, and we went down to the beach. It was beautiful, unlike any other beach I've seen. It was a cove, with cenotes on the sides, and trees growing in the water, which was green and full of life and interesting things. We swam around for a while and then explored some of the caves and cenotes. We then took some two person kayaks and in a true test of does-your-relationship-survive it, both for the newly married couple (Magda and Al) and the soon-to-be-re-married couple, me and Dzl, we went up a crazy curvy impossible stream from the ocean back to where we had been biking in the nature reserve. It was a beautiful trip but completely nuts. We kept crashing
into things, getting turned around, one of us paddling one way, one the other. It would have been a great 'team building exercise'. :P We all survived though and had a nice time in the cenote when we got there, exploring the fresh waters and diving to see what was below. We got back just in time to get ready for the ceremony.
Originally we had arranged to have a full wedding ceremony on the beach but then my credit card wasn't accepted at the hotel (in their defence, they had told me this before but I couldn't get cash out so I had hoped it might work, it didn't). We talked to the wedding coordinator, who was super sweet and helpful and she told us to go have a private ceremony down on the beach. We bought the flowers she had prepared, and had an impromptu service for ourselves. My mom helped me with my hair beside the pool, Magda and my dad were paparazzi, and Dzl and Al followed the mad procession down to the beachside. We laid out flowers and got everyone in position. Magda, having had her wedding days earlier, become "Minister Magda", my mom was the flower girl, Al was the photographer and my dad walked me down 'the aisle'. He of course, started me off with "by the right, quick march" - what we use for bagpiping in the band to get everyone on the same step, and led me to Dzl who waited at the end of the aisle. Magda 'married' us and we exchanged vows we had written together the night before. We focused on having an alternative life - living to love, despite distance and differences, and extending the vows very much to our friends and family because I'm not living 'at home', I'm across the world most of the time so it's important for my friends and family to know how much I care about them and include them in my life, everyday.
It was really beautiful and so nice to have my parents there. Dzl was smart and stopped all the crazy camera work (seriously Magda, you're nuts! ♥) to take me aside for a moment and look out over the ocean and appreciate the moment - the one thing he's taught me again and again. We took a moment by ourselves and then rejoined my family just as the tide was coming in and threatening to wash away the aisle. My parents were so happy, and I was so glad to finally have them there to celebrate my marriage with me. I love you both so much - and I'm so glad you have been so gracious with my crazy travels and living on the other side of the planet.
We got some drinks at the local bar where my dad had his 'two fingers of scotch' (note, on one hand, hold up your first and pinky finger, as far apart as you can and then imagine that much scotch in a glass. Two fingers). We went back to our own resort and had dinner at Fridas (SO tasty!) and a wonderful night with my family and friends. A celebration of togetherness as we celebrated our marriage, spending time with my parents, and of course, Magda and Al's marriage.
The trip ended a couple days later, with one more timeshare talk and tour around the resort resulting in some fun freebies, and some not-so-tearful goodbyes as by now, we've learned what we need to say and what can be unsaid, or uncried, because all these tearful goodbyes are crazy hard. We said cheers with one final pina colada and headed off to the airport. I'm probably missing a thousand fun small details here - or big ones - the fantastic Mexican festival night at the resort, with a huge traditional Mexican food buffet and performances by dancers and entertainers where my dad and Dzl got straw hats and my mom and I got scarfs and we ate wonderful food and took silly photos. Seeing crocodiles and iguanas all over the resort, floating around the infinity pool, making margaritas at the house, getting a fantastic extension of the time share suite so we could spend more days with my parents, the list goes on... either way, thank you for a wonderful trip. We had such a great time and will never forget it.
The next part of the trip - visiting Kennedy Space Center, was best described by Dzl, in his blog post here: http://geekphysical.blogspot.com/2012/01/visiting-kennedy-space-center.html
there's also a short video of our visit on that site.
Thanks for reading... more to come soon!
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