To Uncertainty and Beyond...

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Lately, I have taken myself a bit farther beyond my comfort zone. I have gone out of what most people say as conventional. My own conventional, even. I said it before that it is not my thing, but yeah right. Nothing is carved in stone, right? So, I guess for whatever this is worth, I just have to enjoy the ride. After all, it is true what they say that "to [look for] love is to leap the void of uncertainty." And perhaps, thereafter, I can say that I shall have Loved More and Feared Less.

For when you venture into uncertainties, there is always something that is scary and exciting altogether. You hope, you yearn, you bank on chances, you become brave. And regardless of what awaits you on the other side, you can say without regret that you learned, you have outdone your old self, you have accorded yourself a chance at happiness. And that's the best way to go.💙

Let's wait and see. For now, be still my heart. 

Viva Mexico (Mejico)!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Having experienced the Canadian winter, I felt like I needed to get that much-needed sun-kissed, tanned skin. My body was longing for the scorching heat of the Sun!!!

It was about a year ago when my friend Issa asked me if I wanted to join her to Mexico for an all-inclusive trip. Not having the U.S. Visa yet that time, I said "Yes" blindly. Haha. Impulsive, I can really be that sometimes.

But by some twist of fate, Issa couldn’t make it and Carrie jumped into the picture. It turned out the Mexico trip would be our second leg of our unforgettable summer vacation.

I have always heard good things about Mexico – the food, the sights, the beaches but it didn’t cross my mind that the people there could be so hospitable and welcoming just like the people in my own home country.

Mexico had the feel of a second home to me for 2 reasons: First, I understand a bit of Spanish because I grew up speaking pidgin Spanish in the Philippines. One time during the trip, a lady and her kid came up to me and spoke to me in Spanish. Surprisingly, we were able to communicate and converse for more than 20 minutes. Second reason is that I think it has something to do with my skin color. I got the "morena” or moderate brown skin color. So my complexion blends well with that of the locals.

Moreover, Carrie and I agreed that everything that happened in the trip felt like God had knitted it together that we may experience the best of our 4-day stay in Mexico.

For this post, I would like to highlight some of the people, instances or lessons I will never forget during the trip.

·     Coincidences. The greeter who met us at the airport was a half Filipino. How likely could it be that someone who has a Filipino blood would meet us upon our arrival? He is even surprised to know that we are Filipinos. 

·      The Manny Pacquio Fever. From the baggage checkpoint at the airport to the hotels that we visited, people associated us to the world-renowned boxer, Manny Pacquiao. Who doesn’t know him anyway?

·      Cinderella's Missing Slippers (corrected). Sadly, during our first night in the hotel, someone had stolen my slippers by the pool. I knew that someone intentionally took it because there was nowhere we could find the only pair of footwear that I brought for the trip. Eeeeshh.. I had to borrow Carrie’s sleepers for the entire duration of our stay in Mexico. She’s a size 7 or 8 while I am size 6.

·      The Feel of being Señoritas for just 4 days brought to us by the All-inclusive package. That was my first time traveling on an all-inclusive package and I must say, “Boy, am I rich?!” Haha! The first day we got to our Ocean Spa hotel, one of the waitresses approached us to ask if we’d like to have some drinks or pizza or anything from their menu. Imagine us, lying in the couch along the beach, sipping on a glass of piña colada. Ahh.. the Sweet Life. We felt like we had a feeding program for 4 days, which really made Carrie the happiest. Haha! 

    I love that the services were made easily available to us. There are actually bus services that travel to some hotels like Ocean Spa, Sunset Marina, Sunset Royal for free. You can also take the local bus for 20 MXN for 1-way ride if you want to tour around downtown. The party is right where the clubs and business district are located. You could go for Coco Bongo, the famous of all the clubs, I suppose. 

    Click here for more info about the Cancun's tourism.

The Pool View of the Ocean Spa Hotel

At the Sunset Royal Beach Resort

·      The Flattering Compliments. O.K. how do I share this without sounding immodest? Forgive me if I’d have to set modesty aside for a moment. I have never felt flattered that many times in my whole life as when I was in Mexico. I don’t know but somehow, at some point it surprised me that some people “noticed” me there. Or maybe I am not just used to the compliments. Not like I get that all the time.

    One of the unforgettable encounters was with a cute Russian kid whom we met at the tour. He was sitting beside me. And at first, I thought he was the nerdy and quiet type until he talked me first. Then blah blah blah. After a minute of silence, I caught him staring at me, smiling. I asked him, “Why are you looking at me like that?” He said, “I just couldn’t believe you are already ____ years old. Your skin looks young. And your face. (like I don’t want to make it obvious here that I am already old. Haha!) I turned red and thanked him. “Is that a bad thing?” I asked. He quickly replied, “Oh no!” and winked at me. And that ended the short story. Just thought that was flattering. Geez.. Insert face-palm here. As if I was a 16 year-old again! Haha! It's not like I get that compliment everyday! So thank you! Haha!

 Then, I remember the line “I know she’s hot!”. And I choose not to elaborate on that. Errr... it just didn't sound right.

·        The Epic Catamaran Tour. So, it was Saturday and I mentioned to Carrie that I wanted for us to go island hopping. I went to check on the tours being offered by our hotel but I was told that it’s already full. I was saddened but not hopeless. Being the persistent and determined me, I went to check on the nearby resorts for any available slots in their island tour for that day. And thank God I got to book us for the Albatros Catamaran (yacht) tour along with approximately 15 other people. The tour turned out to be the highlight of our Mexico trip. The  yacht had people from all over the world. We got someone from Mexico, Argentina, Spain, Venezuela, U.S.A., Canada, Singapore, Philippines and from Australia. What made it more fun was the crazy company we got with the guys from Australia, who were like the life of the party. But everyone else there was so game and friendly. 

    We snorkeled above 20 feet or so to see the “El Farito” Coral Reef, visited the Isla Mujeres Island and drove around to reach the Punta Sur, where we can view the observatory of the ruins of the Mayan civilization. Later in the afternoon, we had the chance to swim on very lovely aqua blue water about 15 feet deep. I jumped the first time without a vest but then the current was just too strong for me that I needed to wear one the second time I took a plunge. Haha!

She was holding my hand here. No wonder we're mistaken as lovers! Haha!

with our new friend, Jessica

The observatory of the Mayan Ruins

the crazy gang!

What stood out in the tour for me was meeting an inspiring couple Antonio and Rosana, both are scientists, by the way, who not only shared their beautiful life story but also graciously spent their last night in the island with us even if they had to wake up early the following day to catch their flight back to Atlanta. It was such a refreshing experience to know them and learn from their advices on how they have stayed married for nearly 30 years now. Rosana even gave tips for us on how to find our partners too. Haha!

The lovely couple

Bravo to this guy! Try the Mexican Extreme - Good food and live entertainment!

The tour just opened for Carrie and myself more opportunities of knowing wonderful people from all walks of life. We have all added each other on Facebook now. Haha!

         Overall, I would recommend for anyone to visit Cancun to take this tour to the Isla Mujeres. It’s like your Cancun experience won’t be complete without this experience. Also if given the chance, you have to visit Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen and the Chichen Itza to make your Mexico experience more unforgettable.

·      Carrie. Of all the trips we have been together, this I would say is the best trip that I had with Carrie. Through this trip, I have come to realize certain things about her and our friendship. Knowing Carrie to be really particular about not sharing in one plate with any other people, her picking food from my own plate and drinking from my own cup just confirmed to me that she feels that intimately close to me already. 

Another instance I appreciated her all the more was during the time when I nearly got myself drown while snorkeling. She was there holding me up and assuring me that she will just be behind me to look after me. I had a sense of security at that moment. Also, she let me use her pair of SLIPPERS the whole time, which she purposely borrowed from her mom, even if it means it would be inconvenient for her to wear her sandals on the beach. There was even a night when I was pissed because I lost my SLIPPERS and didn’t bring any decent clothes for a night out and she kindly offered that I wear her dress. She’s the one who also patiently agreed to take all my photos even if at times, she should rather sit back and relax. Haha! 

Lastly, I would never forget our last day in the resort. I received a text from 2 of my other friends that got me crying uncontrollably. She hugged me and reminded me of how she sees me beyond my quirks and imperfections. At that very moment, I had wished for God to bless and grant the deepest desire of her heart. After our heart-wrenching drama, she then cracked a joke that got us both laughing so hard. Crazy! Haha!

3 Lessons I learned from this trip:

·      Tolerance is one of the key ingredients to a successful marriage. It is never going to be a smooth sail all the time. You may experience passing through a bumpy road but as long as you hold on to your vows to each other, you will make it through. This is what I gathered from the wise words of Antonio and Rosana.

·      Be Open. Rosana had made a good point about giving online dating a second chance. Eeepss. She said and I now agree, that with our busy life, how and where else can we meet potential partners. We just have to sift through all our options and see who fits best for us. Well, it is just one of the avenues amongst others. Be open and proactive.

·        Wait on God to make beautiful things happen.  Carrie and I had prayed over our Mexico trip. We would always begin our day with asking God to take control of everything and just allow us to experience His wonderful creations. True enough, from the time that we reached the Ocean Spa Hotel to the very last minute of our stay, we felt that everything just fell into the right places. Like funny because we were supposed to pay for our internet for the 4 days but then we thought that we won’t spend that much. Then, someone approached me on our first night and offered to give me the password of the nearby hotel for a tip. Haha! It is as if everyone was purposefully sent our way so we could feel all the more grateful for all the little things.

Cancun is such a breath-taking paradise. And I am very much thankful and blessed to have seen such an amazing creation in its entirety. I will surely go back there someday!

how ironic I was wearing the shirt that had the Brazil flag on it! Haha!

Apologies for the grammatical and spelling mistakes here and there, e.g. Slippers. >.<

Hello U.S.A.

Friday, August 14, 2015

After being in hiatus for weeks, I am just glad I found the time to write about my epic vacation 2 weeks ago! It has been really a crazy July, I would have to say. The house move, the month-end transition and, of course, the happy kind of busy --- my vacation! Woot!

It wasn’t really part of the plan. Some time early this year, my dearest soul sister Carrie messaged me and asked if she could take my other friend’s slot for the Mexico trip since we already paid that package a year ago. My other friend had a blessing that led to a change in her situation, hence she couldn’t come with me. So we thought of going for the U.S. tour first before the Mexico trip.

And that’s the start of our first timers’ experience in the U.S.A.

So we took the Taipan tour (click here for details of the package). We visited a total of 7 cities in 4 days. I personally think it was good enough for us to just have a feel then we know where to go back to in the future.

Day 1: Premium Outlets – New Jersey (Sheraton Hotel)

Nothing much to see, except for some cheap buys at the outlet stores. What I remember most that day was the Wendy’s Strawberry Field salad. We were pretty much on the road during the first day. It’s like a 9-hour drive from Toronto to New Jersey.

Day 2: New Jersey – New York City – Rockefeller Centre – Statue of Liberty – Atlantic City (Sheraton Hotel)

Carrie and I were both excited that day. We’d finally get to see New York – Time Square and the Statue of Liberty! I used to only see Manhattan in big movies and that time I just felt so ecstatic to finally get to see and feel it in person. And when we reached Time Square, I was like “uhm, this is it?” Haha. It’s true what they say that New York is not the cleanest city on earth. But I am happy enough I got to stand where my Captain America stood when he woke up from long years of sleep after his aircraft crashed. Well, at least that’s where the scene in the movie was taken. (I am weird, I know. I am in love with a fictional character.)

We headed to the harbor for the cruise to have the best view of Manhattan skyline and of course, to say hello to the iconic Miss Liberty statue.

Nice shot of Manhattan skyline taken by Carrie

Thereafter we went to the Rockefeller Center to get the overlooking view of Manhattan this time. From there you can see the Time Square, the Central Park and the new World Trade Center, which was erected right at what used to be the ground zero. And I was soo happy to have tasted the famous “New York Cheesecake”! It was like heaven!

New York Cheesecake!

5th avenue

Tah dah! my remembrance of New York! I am Mrs. America!

As we couldn't go to mass then, we visited St. Patrick's Cathedral

We also visited the Sea-Air intrepid museum where they showcased all types of planes and the actual Hubble@25 space shuttle that was used in 1990 for space exploration.

At about dusk, we drove all the way to Atlantic City. From there you can visit a number of premium outlets and of course. You cannot miss the Jersey shore. It was really a lovely evening on the boardwalk. I learned that apparently Miss USA pageant is held yearly in Atlantic City. This explains why at the Sheraton Hotel, where we stayed for the night, there were these displays of the actual dresses and the pairs of shoes that were used by previous winners.

I am too short to be Ms. U.S.A. tsk.. tsk..

Day 3: Atlantic City – Philadelphia – Washington D.C. – Pennsylvania (Sheraton Hotel)

From Atlantic City, we dropped by the Philadelphia Liberty Bell, where one of the scenes in the National Treasure movie was taken. By noon, we arrived at the capital city of the U.S.A. (seriously, once I thought that New York is the Capital. Eeeps!) – Washington D.C. Funny how the weather changed throughout that day. The sun was up high after we went out from the Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. From there, we had our most loved lunch in the entire duration of our trip. Carrie had the mango salad and I had my pizza! We felt the scorching heat all the more when we were outside the Capitol Building and the White house. But then, just a few minutes later in the Lincoln Memorial, it began to rain so hard that we were trapped there for about 30 minutes or so, frightened to get hit by lightning.

Liberty Bell

my sole purpose for visiting the U.S. haha!

secondary. haha!
felt like Charlotte and Carrie in one of the scenes of S&C series.

Although drenched in the rain, we managed to find our way back to the bus. Then we all headed to Pennsylvania to cap off the night. I don’t know what the people think about 2 single ladies going for a trip together because we got this weird funny question from the bus driver at the hotel lobby. He asked teasingly, “are you girls going to be noisy tonight?” I am not sure if it’s just us thinking differently but I could sense he meant something naughty. He added, “are you going to swim at the pool?” Really?! We just laughed about it.

So but anyway, the day before that, my friend Joni gave me a challenge to take a photo with a beautiful male stranger. Given that I am too shy to approach guys, she said I can practice with the task she’s given me. So being the wise that I am, I saw a cute concierge personnel at the hotel and asked for a photo with him. Insert face-palm here. I turned red after that. Crazy!

But... Hold on! That wasn’t the highlight of that night yet. We were at the hotel room 212 at Sheraton. Carrie was taking a shower. I was outside talking to my mom over the phone. I heard Carrie’s voice as if she’s talking to someone inside the washroom. Prior to that, she already complained that one of her pillows had a shoe mark on it like someone had stepped on it or something. Then she hurriedly came out of the washroom, almost crying, asking me to go take a look at something she saw inside. On the mirror filled with mist after she’s taken a hot bath, there was a big “HELP” written with 2 handprints on the side. Skeptic me, I took a small towel and wiped the mirror just slightly on the surface to see if that’s been there for a while. And it looked like it was just written. Imagine the horror in our faces as we packed up our stuff and went to the hotel lobby to request for a change of room with Carrie only on her sleepwear. To our dismay, the hotel receptionist just laughed saying it could be a prank. Well, it was not a good prank AT ALL! Geez!

Day 4: Pennsylvania – Penn’s Cave – Duty Free – Toronto

The last day was a bit of slow pace already because we have come to the tail-end of our trip. We visited the Penn’s Cave, where I saw a wild deer for the first time. It reminded me of the Twilight movie somehow. Haha.

Overall, the Taipan tour was nice. At least now, Carrie and I would have an idea on where to stay longer next time. I mean, not necessarily together again as we would be mistaken to be lovers again. Haha! And for Carrie, she realized that New York wasn’t her dream honeymoon destination after all. Haha! She now agrees with me that for a honeymoon, it would be best to spend it on an island haven or somewhere not AS (corrected) dense as New York. But I’d love to still visit NY on Christmas time where I could play at the famous skating ring where the scene in the “Serendipity” movie was taken or welcome the new year at Time Square. And of course, hopefully by then, with someone special to welcome the new year with, the new yorkers' way. Wink. Wink. Haha!

Apologies for the grammatical mistakes here and there. >.<