Travel: Quintana Roo, Valladolid, Mexico

I headed to Valladolid from Tulum, about an hour and a half drive on the 180.  I had previously read that taking the 180 would be risky but found it was not at all that bad of a drive.  In fact it was pretty cool and the most convinient direct route from Tulum.  We drove through several small towns with lots of side street vendors selling pottery,  masks, and hand woven goods.  I do however, highly recommend leaving early enough so that you don’t get stuck driving through the dark.  Although I unintentionally ended up driving through the dark 30-40 minutes in, I made it just fine.  Give yourself more than the hour and a half to drive through so you can stop off and wonder around the quaint little towns.

Places to Stay/Sleep: Hotel 41 Valladolid $30.98/n for this price there are no complaints. This location was selected because it was convenient for our path from Tulum (our way in), Cancun (our way out), and the site seeing activities to Chitchen Itza, and Cenotes. LINKS: – AirBnB Link: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/14313437?guests=1&adults=1

Places to Eat: Yerba Buena del Sisal. If you find yourself in Valladolid this place is the only place you need to eat! The colorful decor, the superb service and excellent food options makes this restaurant/cafe our top choice. LINKS: – Yelp Link: https://www.yelp.com/biz/yerba-buena-del-sisal-valladolid Trip Advisor Link: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g499453-d3726356-Reviews-Yerbabuena_del_Sisal_Restaurante-Valladolid_Yucatan_Peninsula.html

  
    

Site-seeing/Activities: Cenote Xkeken and Samula are located about 18 minutes outside Valladolid in Dznitup. The hours are 8am- 7pm. The Mayans believed the gates to the afterlife lay in the cenotes. These natural sinkholes lead straight down into the earth, and are filled with blue-green water and stalactites. LINKS: – Yelp Link: https://www.yelp.com/biz/cenote-xkeken-pisté Trip Advisor Link: https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g499453-d2187522-r340532257-Cenote_Xkeken-Valladolid_Yucatan_Peninsula.html

  
TIPS // DO’S & DON’TS: At present, travelers must press a button when passing through Customs, and those who get a green light are free to go. The unlucky minority who gets the red light have their bags searched. Tipping is about 10%.  Cash is accepted but usually vendors will convert it at a lower rate and it really isn’t in your best interest.  Always check what the currency conversions. It’s always best to bring cash (to avoid ATM and foreign fees) then convert it into pesos preferably outside of the airport and away from touristy areas.  I used XE Currency iPhone app for currency conversion and for language translation I used Google Translate iPhone app.  Hot water appeared to be a commodity out there so always check where you are staying to ensure they have hot water if that is something of importance to you.  I personally didn’t mind since I went during the hotter part of the season. Yelp was pretty handy in finding places to eat.  If you’re a U.S T-Mobile customer your phone usage remains the same at no additional cost.  Therefore, phone calls, texting and data does not change from the current plan you are associated to.  Unfortunately, this is not the case for AT&T customers.  I set roaming off and only used my phone when in the presence of wifi. I typically rent cars wherever I travel but I take caution. I like to get a feel of where I am prior to making a decision but since I’ve been to Mexico multiple times and from Los Angeles, I know I can handle it. It’s always best practice to get full coverage rental insurance but it did cost a whopping $334.16 while the car rental itself was only $68.40 for 7 days. That’s where they get ya! I purchased my car rental and round trip flight through Expedia but found that the car rental insurance they allowed me to purchase didn’t actually cover me in Mexico. So why did they offer insurance? Beats me! With that said always double check the actual coverage prior to making a purchase. I’ve recently been having some really bad experiences with Expedia and may decide to cut ties with them soon. If you have a car you have the freedom to roam around and explore therefore, no need for a tour guide its cheaper to go straightaway to the places you want to see and for the things you want to do. Safe travels ✌️

Travel: Quintana Roo, TULUM, Mexico

Tulum was my most favorited area for site seeing, beaches, food, shopping, and resting. They had it all! If you can, I highly recommend exploring the area by driving or biking around. There are beautiful murals all around town and so much to discover. I also recommend shopping outside of the touristy areas, you can find the same items with better deals when you drive away from the main strip.

 

Places to Stay/Sleep:  Raiz Mistic Bed & Breakfast (AirBnB listing name) aka Fruto Mistico $58.74 A highly-recommended place to stay. This tropical, quaint AirBnB was peaceful, relaxing, spacious and just overall beautiful. There are nice decks to sit and enjoy a nice cozy conversation, tea or breakfast/lunch from the in house vegan vegetarian cafe. Victor, the host was kind, tentative and readily available when needed. This location however, did not offer hot water so if that’s a thing for you, you may reconsider however, that one minor detail didn’t outweigh the entire experience staying at this cute cozy place. My room had a comfortable bed, AC and a hammock with an upper deck I had all to myself. LINKS – AirBnB Link: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/25295623?guests=1&adults=1 Google Map Address: https://goo.gl/maps/Zr2UAkvDxTt Yelp Link: https://www.yelp.com/biz/fruto-mistico-tulum?uid=kw2c_ka8eJnnN8xnWMBiew&utm_source=ishare Trip Advisor Link: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g150813-d13507217-Reviews-Fruto_Mistico-Tulum_Yucatan_Peninsula.html

  
 

Places to Eat: La Hoja Verde an arabian, vegetarian *vegan friendly restaurant that offers the best, fresh acai bowls and smoothies. This very cute place is located right off the main strip Av. Tulum aka hwy 307 on Calle Beta Sur, Tulum. LINKS – Yelp Link: https://www.yelp.com/biz/la-hoja-verde-tulum?uid=kw2c_ka8eJnnN8xnWMBiew&utm_source=ishare Trip Advisor Link: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g150813-d2407730-Reviews-La_Hoja_Verde-Tulum_Yucatan_Peninsula.html

  

Site-seeing/Activities: Tulum Ruins aka Zona Arqueológica de Tulum. Tulum was a seaport, trading mainly in turquoise and jade.  As well as being the only Mayan city built along a coast.  Tulum Ruins was one of the few protected by a wall, made of limestone.  The 13th-century, walled Mayan archaeological site overlooks the Caribbean sea. It incorporates the clifftop Castillo, built as a watchtower. Inland, the Cobá archaeological site has pyramid-shaped temples with views over the surrounding jungle Carretera Federal, Cancun – Chetumal Km 230, 307, 77780 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico. LINKS – Yelp Link: https://www.yelp.com/biz/zona-arqueológica-de-tulum-tulum-2 Trip Advisor Link: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g150813-d153186-Reviews-Ruins_of_Tulum-Tulum_Yucatan_Peninsula.html

  

Touristy Strip off Hwy 15 along the coast offers a modern line of chic boutiques and hotels. Ahau Tulum is a great place to stay if you have a higher end budget. Bungalows range from $100-$700 (depending on room type and season) . The Restaurant offers fresh local wellness foods, yummy smoothies and thirst quenching drinks. In addition, they offer daily yoga and sunrise mediation!

  

Cenote Cristal. What a beautiful, serene, peaceful place to be. There’s a dope platform to jump from or if you’re not so ambitious to do so it’s also a cool spot to swim, relax, and for taking selfies. LINKS: – Yelp Link: https://www.yelp.com/biz/cenote-cristal-tulum Trip Advisor Link: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g150813-d1150241-Reviews-Cenote_Crystal-Tulum_Yucatan_Peninsula.html

  
  

TIPS // DO’S & DON’TS: At present, travelers must press a button when passing through Customs, and those who get a green light are free to go. The unlucky minority who gets the red light have their bags searched. Tipping is about 10%.  Cash is accepted but usually vendors will convert it at a lower rate and it really isn’t in your best interest.  Always check what the currency conversions. It’s always best to bring cash (to avoid ATM and foreign fees) then convert it into pesos preferably outside of the airport and away from touristy areas.  I used XE Currency iPhone app for currency conversion and for language translation I used Google Translate iPhone app.  Hot water appeared to be a commodity out there so always check where you are staying to ensure they have hot water if that is something of importance to you.  I personally didn’t mind since I went during the hotter part of the season. Yelp was pretty handy in finding places to eat.  If you’re a U.S T-Mobile customer your phone usage remains the same at no additional cost.  Therefore, phone calls, texting and data does not change from the current plan you are associated to.  Unfortunately, this is not the case for AT&T customers.  I set roaming off and only used my phone when in the presence of wifi. I typically rent cars wherever I travel but I take caution. I like to get a feel of where I am prior to making a decision but since I’ve been to Mexico multiple times and from Los Angeles, I know I can handle it. It’s always best practice to get full coverage rental insurance but it did cost a whopping $334.16 while the car rental itself was only $68.40 for 7 days. That’s where they get ya! I purchased my car rental and round trip flight through Expedia but found that the car rental insurance they allowed me to purchase didn’t actually cover me in Mexico. So why did they offer insurance? Beats me! With that said always double check the actual coverage prior to making a purchase. I’ve recently been having some really bad experiences with Expedia and may decide to cut ties with them soon. If you have a car you have the freedom to roam around and explore therefore, no need for a tour guide its cheaper to go straightaway to the places you want to see and for the things you want to do. Safe travels ✌️

Travel: Quintana Roo, PLAYA DEL CARMEN & COZUMEL, Mexico

I’ve been to many parts of Mexico and every single trip has been an unforgettable and amazing experience.  My experience with the locals were mostly positive and pleasant.  Mexico is vibrant with culture and has so much history to tell.   Like any other country you need to keep your guard up and be alert of your surroundings. Just relax, enjoy your stay and soak up all of the beauty Mexico has to offer!  My #1 biggest problem was mapping out my AirBnB locations. I consistently encountered discrepancies with the mapped location provided on AirBnB and had to contact each location for the correct address. I found that Google Maps vs Apple Maps worked best in Mexico. I spent 7 days and 6 nights in Quintana Roo, during the first week of November, spending 3 days and 3 nights in Playa Del Carmen (One of those days spent in Cozumel.  Other parts of this trip will be posted separately).  It was still pretty hot, a bit on the humid side, AC was necessary. It rained upon my arrival but cleared up making it beautiful days ahead. *All costs are listed in US currency.

PLAYA DEL CARMEN

Places to Stay/Sleep: AirBnB – Casa De Sal Unit #5 $35.07 very clean, simple, hot water available, AC, refrigerator, small kitchen area combined with living room area, outdoor hammock chair, secure with gates and coded locks, very good location near beach and main street areas.

  

Apartment Tuntun Unit #7 $26.89 generally very clean except for small kitchen area, open space, cute rustic decor, hot water not always available, AC, refrigerator.

Places to Eat: Some of the best food in Mexico is offered right off the street from vendors/carts. I had some of the best Tamales off of a street cart for about 50cents a pop! Don’t forget to ask for the chile!

  

El Sangha Rito the best chicken enchiladas LINKS: TripAdvisor link: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g150812-d7002934-Reviews-El_Sangha_Rito-Playa_del_Carmen_Yucatan_Peninsula.html Yelp link: https://www.yelp.com/biz/el-sangha-rito-playa-del-carmen

Nativo best fresh smoothies and juices. (I requested ice/hielo with my smoothies). LINKS: Yelp link: https://www.yelp.com/biz/nativo-playa-del-carmen-2?uid=kw2c_ka8eJnnN8xnWMBiew&utm_source=ishare TripAdvisor link: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g150812-d12132226-Reviews-Nativo-Playa_del_Carmen_Yucatan_Peninsula.html 

Site-seeing/Activities: Quinta Avenida, also referred to in English as 5th Avenue, is the main touristy area in Playa. It is a pedestrian only, cobblestone lined street that spans from Av. Benito Juarez to 50th Street and beyond. Along 5th Ave. you will find a variety of restaurants, bars, clubs, shopping opportunities and various services. In Playa, nearly everything starts from this street.  Infonavit Gaviotas Gonzalo Guerrero, 77720 Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico had some cool spots with murals under the freeway. Color also spills along 10 Avenida Nte. in Playa Del Carmen. Street art murals line the streets for blocks.

  

Club Mandala: THE BEST NIGHT CLUB in Playa Del Carmen. I went on a Sunday night. I walked over to a free club adjacent from Mandala and although it was packed inside and the music was decent, the vibe just wasn’t there. They always say “you get what you pay for.” On the other hand, Mandala had a $20 cover charge per person but I can honestly say it was worth every penny.  If you’re charming or in a group try to work out a deal as I did with the 2 other girls I was with. They treated us proper! They gave us a complimentary table and waters throughout the night and the DJ played the best dance music! As usual be cautious don’t let them walk away with your credit card and keep an eye on your stuff at ALL TIMES! LINKS: Trip Advisor link: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g150812-d8444946-Reviews-Mandala Yelp link: Playa_del_Carmen_Yucatan_Peninsula.htmlhttps://www.yelp.com/biz/mandala-night-club-playa-del-carmen

COZUMEL

Is a little island off Playa Del Carmen.  You can catch a ferry for about $16 roundtrip. Its about 40-45 minutes one way.  I don’t recommend snorkeling here.  The water was cloudy and there really wasn’t much to see.  It was actually a little depressing seeing that coral and marine life wasn’t as vibrant as it once had been. I paid about $70 for a snorkel trip to 3 locations via boat.  Spend your money elsewhere if seeing coral life is your goal (see my blog on Isla Mujeres, Mexico).  I had a decent meal at a friendly restaurant but really didn’t have an interest to stick around Cozumel long enough to give any further review.

TIPS // DO’S & DON’TS: At present, travelers must press a button when passing through Customs, and those who get a green light are free to go. The unlucky minority who gets the red light have their bags searched. Tipping is about 10%.  Cash is accepted but usually vendors will convert it at a lower rate and it really isn’t in your best interest.  Always check what the currency conversions. It’s always best to bring cash (to avoid ATM and foreign fees) then convert it into pesos preferably outside of the airport and away from touristy areas.  I used XE Currency iPhone app for currency conversion and for language translation I used Google Translate iPhone app.  Hot water appeared to be a commodity out there so always check where you are staying to ensure they have hot water if that is something of importance to you.  I personally didn’t mind since I went during the hotter part of the season. Yelp was pretty handy in finding places to eat.  If you’re a U.S T-Mobile customer your phone usage remains the same at no additional cost.  Therefore, phone calls, texting and data does not change from the current plan you are associated to.  Unfortunately, this is not the case for AT&T customers.  I set roaming off and only used my phone when in the presence of wifi. I typically rent cars wherever I travel but I take caution. I like to get a feel of where I am prior to making a decision but since I’ve been to Mexico multiple times and from Los Angeles, I know I can handle it. It’s always best practice to get full coverage rental insurance but it did cost a whopping $334.16 while the car rental itself was only $68.40 for 7 days. That’s where they get ya! I purchased my car rental and round trip flight through Expedia but found that the car rental insurance they allowed me to purchase didn’t actually cover me in Mexico. So why did they offer insurance? Beats me! With that said always double check the actual coverage prior to making a purchase. I’ve recently been having some really bad experiences with Expedia and may decide to cut ties with them soon. If you have a car you have the freedom to roam around and explore therefore, no need for a tour guide its cheaper to go straightaway to the places you want to see and for the things you want to do. Safe travels ✌️

BEYOND THE STREETS

First off I’d like to thank Amanda Bessette for the opportunity to document Beyond The Streets.  BEYOND THE STREETS displays the graffiti/street art culture and the artists involved (including one of my favorite photographers Martha Cooper) that have made an impact on it.  Located near Chinatown in DTLA featured in a 40,000 sq ft indoor outdoor exhibit.  Check out this awesome display before it ends August 26 2018.

“Beyond the street focuses on artists with a documented history of mark making and rule breaking as well as a current, robust studio practice primarily derived from the graffiti and street art movements.  It is not intended to be a historical retrospective but rather an examination of cultural outlaws who embody the spirit of the graffiti and street art culture. The exhibition includes well known artists whose work is influenced or inspired by these risk takers and whose efforts have elevated the movement to new heights.

BEYOND THE STREETS is curated by Roger Gastman. He is a graffiti historian, urban anthropologist and collector who Forbes says “has made a career of being the cultural connector between street artists and the art world.” BEYOND THE STREETS is Gastman’s dynamic follow-up to Art in the Streets, the U.S.’ first-ever graffiti and street art retrospective which broke MoCA Los Angeles’ attendance record with 220,000 visitors. Known for founding and co-publishing Swindle magazine with Shepard Fairey, Gastman co-authored The History of American Graffiti and co-produced the Oscar Award-nominated Banksy documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop.

Additional curation by Editor in Chief of Juxtapoz Magazine Evan Pricco, author and historian Caleb Neelon, and legendary NYC graffiti writer and historian David “Chino” Villorente. Adam Lerner, Director of the MCA Denver serves as a curatorial advisor. The exhibition is produced by Ian Mazie.” –  Beyond The Streets

ORIGINAL WORKS FROM SHEPARD FAIREY, REVOK, FUTURA 2000, RETNA, LADY PINK, DASH SNOW, C.R. STECYK III, GUERRILLA GIRLS, BARRY MCGEE, CHAZ BOJÓRQUEZ, MISTER CARTOON, LEE QUIÑONES, MARIPOL, FAILE, SWOON, EDDIE MARTINEZ, INVADER, RISK, KENNY SCHARF, JENNY HOLZER, HAZE, FELIPE PANTONE, ANDRÉ SARAIVA, GORDON MATTA-CLARK, STEPHEN POWERS, TODD JAMES, CRASH, DAZE, MARTHA COOPER, TAKI 183 PLUS DENNIS HOPPER, TAKASHI MURAKAMI, MARK MOTHERSBAUGH & MANY MORE.