Anchored Away in Cancun

Towards the end of last year, my husband and I (I’m still not used to calling him that) decided to go on a relaxing trip to Cancun.  In case you didn’t already know, Cancun is best to visit in the months of December to February, when the country experiences milder temperatures thanks to the cold winds of the North.  This being their peak season, we dreaded flocks of tourists so we decided to avoid that by going just a bit earlier.  And our timing couldn’t have been more perfect.
One of the many reasons we chose Cancun to holiday in is because it’s undeniably close to the United States.  If we can’t go back to the pristine beaches of Asia, where else could we turn to?  From L.A. we took a direct flight to Cancun, which took about 4 hours and under $300 for a return ticket.  Not bad eh?  And then we landed here.     Luckily because we came at the end of November, we didn’t have to face a crowded island and rub shoulders with other tourists.  There was plenty of space and privacy, it almost felt like the resort was all ours.  We stayed at the Marriott Casa Magna Cancun using our SPG points and we think we made the best choice, because we loved the colonial style architecture and the spaciousness of the resort (compared to the JW Marriott next door).  Going to Cancun cannot be complete without visiting one of the seven wonders of the world.  The Chichen Itza, the world renowned historical city which dates back to 600 AD, was an amazing sight to see.  Walking through the grounds felt different, or at least to me I imagined what it must have been like to live there in that era.
And while you’re in the Yucatan Peninsula, I highly recommend dipping yourself in one of the mysterious cenotes.  The cenotes are natural sinkholes that could be deeper than 60 meters or comparably like a 20 to 30 floor building.  It’s so deep that when you look below all you’ll see is an abyss – dark, mysterious, and scary.  Naturally, the water is cold and will make you shiver on your first dip, but feels very refreshing on a warm summer day.  In the photo below you’ll see all of us wearing life jackets because it’s a requirement. The depth of the hole is not to be joked about.  One good thing I took away from this trip was I learned the Mexican way of appreciating life as it is, and to enjoy the art of doing nothing.  Though we explored the city, we put aside a lot of time to just relax by the beach, play in the pool, or enjoy a good meal.  It gave me a relaxed and peaceful feeling which felt like something I hadn’t felt for a long while.  I’m the type of person who can’t stand sitting by the beach all day – although some people really enjoy doing that, I never understood what good came out of it.  So I can almost say it felt like my first time to go on a holiday.

Travel in Morocco…of a Time Past

Looking outside the moving car window one day during our journey in Morocco, I couldn’t help but feel like being transported back to another age, that of decades ago when digital wasn’t even a concept yet.  As the sun was setting and turning a mellow pink and purple, teenage children were coming out of schools like sheep out of a cage, some of them in groups and most of them looking happily content and talking to each other.  It made me realize how different kids are here in another world, where gadgets are in closer proximity to their faces than real human interactions.

Though there certainly were mobile carriers and data connectivity almost everywhere we went in Morocco, I did not find the urge to look at my phone either, even probably spending the entire day outside without needing to check my phone.  There was a certain peacefulness to the place, even in Marrakech in the midst of the chaotic souk.  Or perhaps it’s because the country is brimming with so much art and color that the people didn’t need to distract themselves from the otherwise gray drudgeries of our familiar world.  I would like to believe that rather than think that the country’s technology has been lagging compared to other first world countries.

If you ask me what I think of Morocco, I would never deny that it is beautiful.  It’s natural rustic beauty is so inviting that I would not mind staying there for a few months just to explore the towns and absorb the culture.  With it’s expansive farms sprawling with olives and sweet oranges, you can tell that nature has been kind to the locals in giving them great harvests, never having to withstand severe winters that take away dear life out of plants.

If you scroll down below, you’ll see some of the photos I had taken from our route from Marrakech to Essaouira.  And if you pass through the goats picture, it’s true – they do climb trees to get some of their favorite olive skins.

The Journey to Ouarzazate

The journey from Marrakech to Ouarzazate is one that I think I will remember for the rest of my life.  If not, it is one of the most scenic routes I have ever taken, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that.

From the city of Marrakech, we joined a group on a tour and all of us went together on a shuttle.  It came as no surprise later on when we noticed that no big buses ever came along this route.  You know why? Because as we climbed up through the Atlas Mountains and onto the side of Ouarzazate, we faced narrow winding roads which can cause you to get car sick even if you normally don’t.

So what’s so great about the journey?  It’s the changing landscapes, from dry arid deserts to cold snow capped mountain peaks, to Berber villages on the side of the road and huge rock formations that seem like pebbles that have been thrown by giants down the hills.

Not only that but you get to see a great deal of Moroccan art in the villages too, and in the market places.  We saw natural crystals being sold on the side of the road, local women making argan oil, artists making water color art with tea and saffron, weaved carpets, colorful tagines, pottery, and so much more.

Scroll down below to see some of the things we saw on our journey, and see why I fell in love with the landscape. 

Opulence and Grandeur of Moroccan Architecture

Over the Christmas holidays I had the chance to bond with my mom and my brother, and visit Morocco for the first time.  I came without any expectations, and left with awe at how beautiful it was.

We flew in to Casablanca, the financial capital, and then proceeded on our journey to Marrakech, Ouarzazate, and Essaouira.  The weather was quite cold at night at 8 deg C on the average, and in the daytime perhaps around 12, so coming in December was not such a bad idea.  It was perfect – much better than coming during the scorching summer.

Most of the Casablanca that we saw was a little dusty, except for the Hassan II mosque that the locals take great pride in, and the Royal Palace.  These two monuments that we came to visit were impeccable, with ornately designed architecture that screams opulence and wealth.  You’ll see their photos below.

Among all of Casablanca’s sights, my favorite must have been the old medina at sunrise, just as the mist was rising.  Being a gated neighborhood, it’s almost empty except for a few older men or women who start their days early.  If you’ve ever seen Casablanca, you’ll probably remember Rick’s Cafe, the cafe made famous by the classic film.  We saw the actual cafe, although according to our guide they never really shot the film in Casablanca…so the cafe now is just an imitation from the film.

New Year, New Resolutions.

2017. What resolutions do you have in mind? Mine, aside from the continuous struggle to be better in all aspects of life, want to accomplish some personal goals I’d rather not say at the beginning of the year. It’s like a jinx the moment you blurt it out to the world. Everyone knows what you desire, and the special bond between you and your secret is lost.

I’d just come back from Morocco, a first for me, and I have tons of pictures on my roll.  Here’s a few black and whites that I love from exploring souks in Marrakech and Essaouira.