Salsa Update

May 30, 2008

I went to Bodeguita del Medio last night and met up again with Yvonne and Gustavo. I got there about 8pm when they were just finishing the class and they were learning a rather difficult-looking turn sequence. Yvonne said that the first hour of class is really basic, just the basic step, but at the end they teach a more difficult move. I think I'll go next Tuesday just to learn whatever they're teaching and to get to know some more people.

In the US the end of the lesson signals the start of the night, but not so here. The end of the lesson is where "all the good salsa dancers" meet and then they head to another bar for drinks and hanging out until 11pm when they come back to Bodeguita to dance.

We stayed at B de M because Gustavo had a dinner he had to attend there, so we danced to salsa songs whenever one came on (the band plays a mix of latin music for dinner, not all salsa). It was pretty cool.

Oh- and I have to change my previous assessment- it seems they DO dance more of the linear/New York style salsa here than I thought before. I guess I just danced with lots of Cuban style dancers on Sunday. I am so happy that they dance linear!!!

Hanging out with Yvonne, Gustavo and Javier was good practice for my Spanish, too. Javier speaks some English, but he said it's hard for him. Yvonne is German, but has been living here and interacting in Spanish for so long that it's easier for her to speak in Spanish than English these days. Gustavo speaks both, but he's happy to speak in his native tongue if everyone understands. So I spent 4 hours speaking in Spanish, it was awesome practice!

Anyway, around 11pm the good dancers came back and the band fired up a set of salsa. Wow. I remember the first time I went to a real Swing club and saw them dancing and I thought, "I have to learn this" because it looked like so much fun. This was the same. I'm probably still more comfortable with Swing than Salsa (I never have to really think about my feet and whether I'm dancing to the beat in swing, in salsa I sort of do), I know that with regular-enough practice it will become second nature. I'll totally be going back there to practice.

I only stayed til midnight because I hadn't intended to stay out all night. B de M closes at 2AM and everyone then heads over to Capitan Tequila because they're open til 4AM. I don't know if I'll be one of those people who stays up til 4, but I definitely will stay til B de M closes.

I'm looking forward to dancing some more! Yvonne is going on vacation for 2 weeks and then she's back for a couple weeks and then she goes to Germany for two months, so I gotta get my face known with her friends so that I'm not relying on her as my "in" with the good dancers! lol.

You Know You're Getting Old When...

May 28, 2008

A couple weeks ago when we were in NJ, Hans used his mom's car to drive out to check on our house. It's a 40 minute drive from his parents's house, so he had plenty of time to listen to the radio.

Suffice it to say that we don't listen much to the radio here (in fact, there's only two stations that we can pick up in the car and one is just talk), so we're not all up to date on the latest pop sensations. Add to it the fact that neither of us care enough to listen to NY radio online or watch American Idol or anything.

So he came home telling me how much he liked that "I Kissed a Girl" song. I was like, "Uh, you mean the one that was all over the radio when we were in college?" I mean, it's only 12 years old...

Apparently that's not what he meant. He meant this new one that's so totally not anything like I had in mind! LOL! It's not that I don't like it, it's just that when I went to look up the old video there were all these comments about how the old one sucked and it wasn't even the same lyrics as this new one...

Man... kids these days! They don't even know the originals.Although, I do have to admit that when I hear "Pressure" by Queen & David Bowie, I sing "Ice Ice Baby" in my head... I guess I'm just not old enough to remember...

More about Salsa

May 26, 2008

Before last night I knew there was a difference between Salsa on 1 and Salsa on 2 (namely the beat that you start on, but otherwise they're pretty similar) but I didn't know anything about this Cuban style stuff. Here's a little sampling of what I am talking about that I didn't know before:

Luckily, I have good follow skills (thanks years of swing dancing) so I can basically fake it once I see the basic step, but it just wasn't what I am used to, so my skill level was lower.

Here's a sample of New York style salsa. This is the kind I am used to doing and really enjoy. Please note that I totally look as sexy as this lady and could totally rock a half shirt like that... lol.

Salsa at Zebra in Tulum

We got back from the US last week and got right back into the swing of things here. Life goes on and now we don't have to go back to the states until August (for a wedding), followed by September (for another wedding).

Yesterday I had another variation on the theme of "perfect day." I slept late (ok, for me that's like 7:45, maybe 8, but still... late's late) and then met up with a couple girlfriends down at Mamitas Beach.

We sunned and swam and gossiped and had a good time for a few hours and then headed over to El Diez for some lovely steaks (try the Vacio... mmm) followed by an order of Flan topped with Cajeta, which is like dulce de leche. Then we went to our respective houses, showered and met up with some more friends to head down to La Zebra in Tulum for some salsa dancing.

I have been looking for the place to salsa dance since I got here. They don't seem to have any dance schools like we do in the states for ballroom dance, so it was just a matter of finding out where the good dancers go and learning the more advanced stuff off them.

We went with Yvonne, a friend from yoga, who is good friends with Gustavo who is an instructor at Bodeguita del Medio. We had tried Bodeguita one Wednesday night and there were like 50 women and 1 man, but apparently on Tuesdays and Thursdays the crowd is better. They have a lesson, but it's extremely basic, so it's not much use for learning about styling or whatever. ANYWAY... I learned that the good dancers go to Bodeguita and when they close around 1AM they head to Capitan Tequila.

La Zebra in Tulum is so nice. They have a nice beach front location with an elegant and romantic restaurant and bar. When you walk out onto the sand, there's a round, elevated dance floor (bisected by a couple palm trees) and a nice stage to the right. I didn't catch the name of the band, but they were excellent.

A fun time was had by all! I got to dance quite a bit, although they dance a lot of Cuban style salsa here and I learned New York style salsa (danced in a slot rather than in flowy circles and all over the place). I figure I'll learn more about Cuban style the more I stay here. I danced several times with a French guy who was a pretty good dancer (he learned in Cuba) but phew! I thought the whole "French people don't wear deodorant" thing was a stereotype... it seems to be not completely stereotype...

All in all, we decided that though this was one variation on the theme of perfect day, we'd like to try another variation: leave Playa around noon and head to Tulum, lay on the beach there, then dinner, a nap on the beach, then salsa dancing.

It's a shame that I didn't bring my camera. I seriously forgot all about it- I guess I just wasn't thinking about this blog! When the band took a break the professional dancers put on a show, which would have been cool to have a video of for the old blog... plus Anne, Becky and I all looked ravishing, so that would have been nice to have documented. We all decided to come back soon and I promise to bring my camera then.

In the meantime, I'm totally going to check out the Bodeguita again. I am so happy to meet some good dancers! It's such a cool way to meet people and I'm always on the lookout for more Mexican friends, how else is my Spanish going to get better!?! :)

Off again to the GWN

May 15, 2008

So we're heading out again this morning for another trip to the Great White North. We'll be in Jersey for a baptism this weekend (and coincidentally by BFF's husband's b-day dinner) but we'll be back on Monday. Why are we going back so soon? Well, we only found out about the baptism about a week before we left for the last trip and Hans is the Godfather, so we sort of have to be there. We didn't want to extend our trip to be 20 days or whatever, so here we are home for a week and then back to Jersey. And I just got re-acclimated to the heat!

Because I know my mother-in-law is dying to know...

May 14, 2008

You may remember my whole hair trauma when I arrived in Mexico. Now that I've been here for about 4 and 1/2 months, I think I've finally figured it out... (fingers crossed)!

When I was in Jersey last week I bought so many different leave in conditioners and other salon-level hair products that it looked like I was planning on opening my own salon when I got back. I tried them all in Jersey, but, of course, my hair acts normal there in the normal water and low humidity. So I was excited to try them in various combinations when I got back to Mexico. Here's what seems to be the best method for getting normal, non-frizzy, non-greasy looking hair while in Mexico (provided you have fine hair that likes to wave but not curl convincingly):

I really like Aveda products, but sometimes they can be really heavy on the hair. Since I wash my hair pretty often here due to swimming in the ocean, diving and sweating at the gym, the Damage Remedy Restructuring Shampoo from Aveda is really nice. It doesn't seem too stripping and it's made from natural plant extracts, which is cool.

Oddly enough, if I follow it up with the corresponding conditioner, it's too heavy. So, I've found that the Redkin All Soft Heavy Cream Conditioner is better. And the best part is that it's available in Mexico. (I haven't seen anywhere, including salons, that sells Aveda here).

The most embarrassing part of the hair regime is that I actually really love the Create Weightless Smooth leave in conditioner by Jonathan Antin. You may remember him as the complete and utter jackass that was starting his own salon on the Bravo series, Blow Out. I was addicted to that show because he was such an immature, sniveling, L.A., bratty hairstylist and it was fun to watch how crazy he would get. I felt truly sorry for the poor people who had to work in his salon and deal with his crap.

That being said, his hair product line totally kicks butt. And it's vegan (which I'm pretty sure any haircare product could also say- I never see eggs or meat or dairy listed in the ingredients of other hair products).

Anyway, this combo actually lets me air dry my hair without it looking like a frizz ball. NICE. and when I'm in Jersey and I blow my hair out (because, let's face it, I'm not using a blow dryer unless it's under 90 degrees or I'm in air conditioning) it looks great, smooth and shiny.

And with that, I leave you with these...

Here's Sascha Baron Cohen as Bruno (the flaming gay Austrian reporter) interviewing Jonathan:

And this one's just priceless:

The Smell of Things

May 13, 2008

Ever notice how much the smells in a particular location create a sensory association with that location? I was thinking about how one of the things I actually love about NYC are the smells and then I got to thinking that it's not just NYC it's lots of places.

In New York I love the smell of the pretzel vendors, a sort of smoky, dry, charcoal and bread smell that is divine. I also love the smell of the nut vendors. They sell candy coated nuts of all varieties that smell lovely and sweet (and incidentally better than they taste). The smell of the subway, or better, the PATH train. It's a dry and warm smell that's particularly nice in the fall and winter when it's a welcome respite from the weather outside. Then there's the halal and falafel vendor carts, a nice middle eastern, curry-type smell. Oh, and let's not forget the shish-kabob vendors with their luscious lamb kabobs. Now that I'm typing this, I'm trying to think if all my smell connections with NYC have to do with food!

In North Carolina there's the smell of the ocean when you've just drove 4+ hours to get there. There's the smell of the inlets and the salt. There's also the smell of the earth that's just apparent when you're outside. When we get to my parents' house it's always nice to take in a big sniff of their yard and it's greeness and aliveness.

Of course there are food smells there, but they're really linked with childhood. The smell of Silver Queen corn ready to eat, my mom's biscuits, my mom's vegetable soup in the winter, mom's chili (you see a theme here?). Then there's the smell of my grandmother's egg house and cooler. They had an egg delivery business so one room was dedicated to the boxes for the eggs. The cooler was it's own building that was refidgerated for the extra produce they grew and had a wonderful smell of fresh produce. That smell coupled with the wonderful cool sensation of stepping out of the near 100% humidity into the refrigeration was marvelous.

Also associated with childhood is the smell of asphalt and gasoline that I associate with the school bus. The smell of old-style carbon copies that reminds me of report cards. The smell of the library (this can be repeated by going to any small, old library) and particularly the card catalog (an old relic these days, I'm afraid). The smell of honeysuckle and magnolia blossoms. The smell of the woods. The dusky smell of the crawl space under the house where there were always hordes of camel crickets.

I wonder what smells I will associate with Mexico down the road. Already I love the smell of the taco vendors (even though I haven't actually tried a taco from them- it has been reported by a friend that they are very good). I love the smell of arrachera grilling and the smell of pastor meat. Of course, these are food things, but I wonder if I'll be nostalgic over other smells that I don't even know about now.

People often talk about the light in Mexico. I can see how that would be something one would miss. I know I would miss the weather. I have gotten used to wearing shorts and tank tops all the time. I've gotten used to going to the beach once a week (at least).

When I was in New Jersey for one short week I missed Mexican accented Spanish. All the Spanish I heard in our old neighborhood was more Cuban or Central American sounding- where they clip off the s's. I know for certain that I will miss certain Mexican foods when I'm back in the states (although someone assured me that now that I know what I'm looking for, if I go to the Mexican part of town I can get some very good authentic Mexican food).

What smells do you associate with Mexico? What smells are special to you?

We're Baaaaack

May 12, 2008

So we've been back since Thursday, but I just haven't felt like blogging! Couldn't say why...

Jersey was a good trip, we saw lots of good friends, shopped, ate, shopped, ate, went in to New York City twice (which was once too many times for me), fantasized about living in NJ for about two days until we snapped to our senses and remembered why we wanted to move to Mexico in the first place! I really love the people there, I have lots of very good friends, but I can't stand lots of other things about it. I guess we're just not ready to move back in the near future (but then we sort of knew that without visiting)!

Oddly enough, we have to go back to NJ this Thursday for a baptism. Hans will be the Godfather (his third such anointment) for his best friend's baby and we need to be at the baptism this Sunday. So, we're popping back for another quick visit.

Other than that, it got HOT while we were away! The temperature has seriously stepped it up a notch. I guess that's it for me for today... I've got to get back to work. Taking a week off means work piles up and now it's back to the daily grind (in paradise, I'll add).