It’s Actually Sticking In My Head

It’s Actually Sticking In My Head

Spanish, I mean. It’s slowly beginning to stick….. I’ve realised this with how I’m improving on Duolingo. It would give me a sentence to translate into Spanish, and I’d give it a go, thinking that it is wrong…. but nope! It was right! That is happening more and more now which I’m happy about.

I would really recommend Duolingo if you are learning a language. It helped me out a lot at the beginning, and I really just used that and spoke with my fiancé. This was all while I was in China, so it wasn’t possible for me to take classes. So I learned the basics of Spanish just by myself and trying to practice speaking with my fiancé.

Just yesterday I joined a spanish class in the University where my fiancé studied all those years ago. (The private companies are horrendously expensive) This one is extremely cheap for the semester, and  there are 3 other students in my class. I go Monday-Friday 10am-11am. So that’s 5 hours altogether. I’m in the basics level so my Spanish is still low, but I’m just happy that they had a class that I could join.

Today was my first day and it went so so I suppose. There was only 1 other student with me and he could speak more and understand more than I could. I only realised that he has been in the class a while now, and they have gone through half the Spanish book already.  So I joined very late in the semester.

I’m glad I joined but it kind of made me realise how much I don’t actually know. Yeah I know the basics but I’m still messy with tenses and my listening isn’t the best either. The other student was blabbering away and I didn’t understand him a lot of the time. I don’t know whether it was the vocab that he was using which I didn’t know, or that he just had a strong accent and that was why! I’ll pay attention tomorrow and see if I can figure out why!

So tomorrow there may be more students. I wonder how their Spanish is? I hope I will improve a lot in the next few weeks. Or at least get better with the tenses!

Aisling

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My Move To Mexico

For months now, we’ve always had the plan of moving to Mexico. The reason was mainly so I could learn Spanish and then when it was good enough I would have better chances of getting a job related to tourism. That was the plan anyway!

I’ve been here I think almost 3 weeks now. (I’m not really counting). We didn’t bring much with us, just some clothes and what not. My fiancés family have offered for us to stay with them and we are very grateful for that!

We have a lot to organise in the next few months! At the moment I am on a tourist visa, meaning that I can only stay here for 6 months. In order to tackle this, we are organising the civil ceremony so that I can apply for a temporary 1 year visa. In that way I’ll be able to work on that visa.

Second, we are also organising our wedding/gathering/party for early next year. We aren’t planning anything wild, just something in my fiancés parents’ garden. It’ll be a small wedding! And big surprise, my parents are actually coming to Mexico! I spent 5 years in China and absolutely no one came to visit me. ( I had to have a wedding to make someone care about coming to see me).

But anyway, they are coming at least. Finally.

So at the moment we really aren’t doing anything productive. With both of us jobless, we are trying not to spend any money. (That also means not going anywhere either). I don’t really mind, I get to study Spanish more.

Oh, and on learning Spanish….. it’s ridiculously expensive to have Spanish classes with a private language learning centre here. It’s madness!!! Most of them are over 400USD per week!! Now they are intensive classes, but I just can’t afford that. So that kind of annoys me. They are catered to Americans who come for a few weeks to learn. They hike up the price so much though, even my fiancé was also shocked at how expensive they are, especially because a lot of Mexicans wouldn’t even earn that in 1 month.

I’ll try and find classes elsewhere if I can. I know myself that I need to be in a classroom to learn things. I’m bad at self-studying.

Exercise wise, my fiancés parents have a pool so I’ve started swimming for about 3/4 hours a week. I’d like to lose some weight and just get fit. The worst thing is just getting in at the start as sometimes it can be a little cold! But if I swam in a freezing cold cenote, then I can tolerate the pool!

So at the moment we are talking about our wedding, what needs to be done, what we need to get for it, and the civil ceremony and what that entails! AAhh!

Aisling

Playa del Carmen, Mexico (Part 2)

When we travel, we rarely splurge on where we stay. The only exception was when we went to Vietnam and stayed on a fancy boat in Halong Bay: Cruising Down Halong Bay, Vietnam: Our Cruise Boat

My fiancé found a good deal on a hotel in Playa so we jumped at the chance to stay. Because it’s the low season they lowered their prices which we were more than happy to pay!

We stayed at the Occidental Hotel at Xcaret and we really enjoyed it there. The weather was perfect for the two days, and pretty much all we did was relaxed, swam, drank beer and ate food. Also the place is HUGE, with places even off limits only for special members. (They have their own restaurants and pools).  They even have a small shuttle car to bring you from the beach to the main lobby it’s that big!

 

There are monkeys, deer, flamingos and racoons that live in the hotel area and while we were walking back to our hotel building at night we spotted a deer walking among the trees and it was so cool. The buffet breakfast and lunch was also really nice!

Altogether we paid about 80 euro per person per night with food and drink included. So it really was very cheap! I have no idea how much it would be during the high season, and I don’t want to know either! So we were rather sad having to return to our hostel for the next 2 nights.

On our last day we went to Xel-Ha, a nature park where you can do lots of water activites! It was very unique for me, as you’d never find this in Ireland whatsoever. There were cenotes, rivers to swim in, cliffs to jump off, walking trails in the jungle, restaurants to eat at and places to relax. It’s a great place for kids and I’m sure my nephews would love it! Here is the website to check it out: Xel-Ha Park

 

There is a big river where you start at the top and swim down with the current. You can do this by snorkelling or with a floatable chair.  Because the water is mixed with sea water and fresh water, this makes the top of the water cold, but when you put your feet lower  you can feel a current of really warm water! I was shocked when it suddenly got warm around my feet. It was so cool to experience!

After we were swam down the river we got food and walked around the area. We bought a ticket which included food and drink (which also includes alcoholic drinks).

I really enjoyed my time in Playa del Carmen and the surrounding area. It’s much quieter during the low season but I can imagine it could get very busy and noisy in the high season!

It’s nice to have seen a different part of Mexico!

To check out Part 1, click here: Playa del Carmen, Mexico (Part 1)

Where we stayed in Playa Del Carmen: Las Hijas Hostel

We were told by the staff that they were closing and having checked booking.com they have indeed closed, so I won’t write a review for them.

Aisling

Playa del Carmen, Mexico (Part 1)

Before heading to Cuernavaca, my fiancé wanted to bring me to Playa del Carmen for a week. The flights where also cheaper from Madrid to there than to Mexico city. I have only been to areas around Cuernavaca and to Mexico City, so it was nice to see another part of Mexico!

We went during the low season, and my fiancé said there was a marked difference in tourists. I was a little wary of hurricanes (as it’s hurricane season) but thankfully we just got some rain for the week we were there!

While there, we visited the beach (it’s actually much warmer than I expected). Although the water wasn’t crystal clear because of the large amount of seaweed. They don’t exactly know what has caused this influx of seaweed, but I didn’t mind too much! It was still a lovely area!

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Next we visited Tulum with a tour that we booked. There was a big dark cloud on the way so we got caught in a huge torrent of rain and got soaked! Thankfully we dried off quite quickly though! It was very pretty though with the ruins right beside the sea. And I saw plenty of iguanas too.

After Tulum, we headed to Cobá, where we climbed up a huge Mayan pyramid and took some pictures of the area (which is literally jungle for miles and miles). I heard that this area in Mexico is full of jungle, and I always thought that the trees would be towering high above like what you see on tv in the Amazon. So when we were driving literally in the middle of the jungle, I realised that the trees aren’t that high at all. It’s just that it is so dense with foliage. It would be impossible to walk in it. So I was surprised with that!

Finally we visited a cenote, which is a natural pit with water in it. I didn’t manage to take photos because I didn’t want to get my phone wet, but we swam in the water and it was FREEZING! We went to an underground one, so that made it even colder. Some have open tops so the water isn’t as cold. The depth of these can go for 100’s of metres! It was a great experience and I’m glad I did it. Bare in mind, Tulum, Cobá and the cenote were done in 1 day, so we were wrecked when we came back to our hostel!

On our next day trip, we first visited Chichen Itza and I think this was my favourite place that I visited! The pyramid was very impressive! You used to be able to climb up it now unfortunately a tourist fell and died so they stopped allowing visitors up it now. I don’t mind though because I think it would be damaged by the amount of people climbing it. (plus no one will fall now)

There are also also mayan ruins in the area which are also cool to see.

We then visited another cenote, and this time it was an open top one. I also was able to get some photos of this one! The weather was a bit cloudy so the water was a little cold, but not as cold as the first one we visited.

Our last stop for the day was to Valladolid Town, a town that seemed as if it was in the middle of nowhere. It was very cute though and I loved the architecture. We only got to stop for about 15 minutes so we were in a rush to take some nice photos.

The stones that were used in this church were actually taken by the Spanish from Mayan temples to make churches like this one.

Again, another very busy day for us! But next we were going to spend 2 days at an all-inclusive hotel. To read more click here for part 2: Playa del Carmen, Mexico (Part 2)

Aisling

Crisis At The Airport!

So after our lovely time in Madrid, it was time to head to the airport and catch our flight to Cancun. It was pretty easy getting to the airport actually, we just had to take a metro and then a train to it which were both in the same building. So we arrived a little earlier than anticipated.

We find where to check in and queued, all going great! That was until we arrived at the desk. We give the lady our passports and she asks in Spanish “Do you have your flight out of Mexico?” We said no we didn’t. She then replied (all in Spanish so I couldn’t understand what was happening) that I wouldn’t be allowed to board unless I could show them that I had a flight out of Mexico because I’m not a Mexican citizen.  If not then the staff at the boarding area could deny me upon going on board and I’d be stuck in Madrid all alone! Or that I’d be allowed on the flight but at customs in Mexico they could say “No, you’re not allowed to enter because you’ve no exit flight”. ALSO I would be barred from entering Mexico for 5 years!

Now all this was all IF. They may allow me to board or they may not…. She said it would be best for me to buy one. Of course she works there so if she’s saying this sort of stuff then you usually listen to them!

So…. when we heard all this news we of course got worried! We didn’t know what to do! This has never happened to me before, and I’ve visited Mexico twice before. I did have return flights but they never asked for them. So we thought nothing about not having a flight to leave. (Maybe they can see on their computer if I have a return flight or something?)

The lady at the counter said the only thing we could do is try and book another flight out of Mexico so we can show this to the people. We can try and get a refundable ticket. We were very worried at this stage! Will we manage to book one in time?

Off we went to find somewhere to sit and quickly look for the cheapest flight out of Mexico. We got in contact with my fiancés sister and thanks to her she bought a cheap flight to Dallas for me! We definitely owe her big time!The clock was ticking and we saw that not many people were queuing at the desk now. Hurry up so we can show the lady!

We got the confirmation email and we hurried to show it to the lady at the counter so she could change my status on the computer. We rushed through security and found our way to the gate (which involved having to take a metro… how big is Madrid airport??!)

Our next thing was to line up and then (most likely they will ask to see my flight out of Mexico). I get there, and NOTHING!!! They didn’t ask for anything except for the usual things! AAhh! So after all that and they didn’t even ask for it.

So we got on the flight and landed in Cancun airport.  I went through customs for Mexican people as I was with a Mexican person……. and yet again not one single word about having a flight out of the country! He stamped this and stamped that and off we went! AAhh!

It’s not that we were so much annoyed by all of it, it was just the fact that we were stressed out by that lady at the airport even before we left Madrid. Also thankfully we were able to get refunded the money so I didn’t lose it.  I don’t know whether she was having a bad day and wanted to vent it on us or whatever, but in the end all that she said to us never happened. Was she trying to scare us? (She succeeded!).

But anyway, it all worked out ok for us. I hope that doesn’t happen again. Because what if we couldn’t book any flights? If that was the case would they still have let me board? Would I have made it to Mexico and then they ask me?? I have no idea. I’d like to think that because Mexican people are so friendly, and seeing that I was with a Mexican person (intending to marry him) that they would wave me through. But who knows really.

You really don’t want that sort of stress with airlines and flying. So let’s hope that was just a one time incident!

Aisling

Our (Not So Nice) Hostel

You know when you go onto booking.com and you see all these great hostels at a great price? The location is perfect and it looks like a nice place to stay? Reviews are very good with only a few bad ones? Well sometimes it’s too good to be true.

We were going to stay in Madrid for 10 days as my fiancés Mum and Dad were visiting his Aunty, so we decided to stay longer than usual in order to visit a few places with the parents and also his Aunty.

Well, the hostel wasn’t great to be honest. There was problem after problem with this place, and I was pretty happy to have left!

Usually there might be maybe a few minor problems with hostels. But with this one there were tonnes.

1. No lock on the door.

This means that everyone can just go into your room. This is unusually strange. So then of course one night I hear someone enter the room, hear some footsteps, realise that it’s pitch black and they can’t see anything…. so they decide to leave…..and surprise they leave the door open. So I had to get up and close it then.  I really wasn’t impressed with this at all. It’s really not hard to get locks for the doors.

2. You can’t turn on/off the lights.

Room related again. Another surprising thing is that the only people that can control the lights in every dorm room is the receptionist. So they decide the time. It depends on who is working during the night shift, but the lights could turn off at 9:30pm, 10:30pm, 11:05pm or even after 12:00am. In this case the receptionist actually forget they were on……

I can’t understand why we don’t have control of the light swtich?

3. No control over the air-con

Another room one for you! Once again the receptionist is in charge of the air-con. Every night we have to go and ask them to turn it on. The third night we were there I woke up at 5am literally sweating! I was wondering why I was so hot. Sure enough I saw that the air-con was off. We asked the receptionist and they said “Sometimes we turn it off in case the people get cold”.

Mmmmm I’m sure. After that night the air-con was left on. Again, why can’t we decide if we want it on or off?? Do they think we are going to steal the remote or something?

4. Noises everywhere

Because our dorm room was literally, and I mean two steps away from the common area, that meant we could hear every type of noise; chatting, cutlery clattering, the washing machine, the people washing their dishes… everything. Another one that was added was the recent addition of the squeaking of the mens toilet door every time it opened. So that was a new one. I thought ‘they may actually fix it’, but no, it was still squeaking when we left. I’m so thankful that I had my earplugs with me, or else they all would have driven me mad.

5. For the smokers, the entrance of the hostel was the smoking area… which of course means that all the non-smokers  and the people checking in have to walk through the cloud of cigarette/ marijuana smoke to enter. Because it was sort of inside, the smell just lingered in the small area which wasn’t very pleasant.

6. Cold showers

In the ladies toilet there were 3 showers, and 2 of them I liked more than the other one. So the first shower which I had was lovely and hot! No problems! The next shower was also fine. The third one was getting cold just after I put shampoo in my hair, but it wasn’t too bad. It was luke warm. The next one however was absolutely freezing! As soon as I turned it on it went straight to icey cold. I thought maybe it would heat up but no, it just stayed cold. That was a very tough shower as I can’t cope with the cold!  After that one I asked could I have a shower in my fiancés aunts house, I just didn’t want to have another cold shower like that. I don’t even think I rinsed all the soap off my body it was that cold! I just wanted to get out!

So my last shower we were supposed to get up at 8am as we were checking out at 10. I ended up waking at 7:20am and decided to go for one them, hoping the water would be fine.

There was nobody in the bathroom when I entered and I switched the shower on to make sure it got hot. And it was!  My last shower was as good as the first! I’m guessing maybe the other girls use up the hot water, but there should be at least warm water for everyone.

7. Weird people

There was one particular person there that kind of creeped us out while we were there. While we were in the common area, this girl would be walking around with a big fluffy coat on her…. by the way the weather was 30+ degrees, so she looked totally odd wearing this in the hostel. I’m pretty sure everyone was looking at her wearing this big coat.

Also there was something sort of just ‘off’ about her. (The coat didn’t exactly help either)  She would just be walking about the common area, going to the bathroom, walking a bit more…. that was pretty much all we saw her do in the hostel.

Until one night….

So I was in my bed and had to go to the bathroom. It was around 1am I think. I get up and open the door. I walk past this girl and she nearly bumped into me. I wasn’t really paying attention to her or what she was doing, but I was wondering why she was so close to me. I realise that she’s swaying and making a “huh” sound every so often. I realise she’s high as a kite. On what I have absolutely no idea, but she was definitely high. I quickly went to the bathroom and when I come out she has moved over to the fridge and is swaying and doing god knows. I didn’t want to continue watching her.

Then as I walk toward my dorm room she begins to (try) to walk towards me. i rush to my room and  look over to her as she began to bump into the mens toilet.

At least I’m back in bed. Until….. that was the night someone walked into our dorm room. I’m guessing it was her. So of course I was scared then to go back outside as she could be outside being zombie-like.

But the drama doesn’t stop there! I wake up again at 5:30am with someone in the common area shouting! I was half asleep at this stage so I wasn’t really paying attention, but my fiancé also woke up and he heard it. He said that someone from the hostel was shouting at the girl in Spanish and in English. “Get out!!!! You are drunk! You are high! You have to leave!”

Do you think she left? Nope……we get up around 8:30 and guess who we see… the girl with the black coat. She was no longer high, but now she had her pink bag with her and was (yet again) walking around the common area. I’m guessing she was awake for the whole night.

There was another female worker there and she went up to the girl and in English said “You have to leave now. Get your things and go.” The girl started saying that she wanted to speak to the manager as at 5:30am the guy that she was talking to was very rude to her.

“I want to know why he was so rude to me, I was only smoking inside”. (which she clearly wasn’t)

The lady said “He was the manager!”

“Ok, then I need a refund”.

“Fine, we’ll give you your refund but then you have to leave.”

“How much would it be for another night?”

“No, you are not staying another night! There is a hostel across the street, you can go and try to stay there, but you are not staying here”.

“I want to use the bathroom.”

“Again??? This is the second time you have to go to the bathroom”

So she went to the bathroom and came back out. She walked a bit more and then FINALLY she left the building.

The drama was over and there was peace at last! I kind of felt sorry for the girl but at the same time it’s not on getting high or whatever while in a hostel full of other people. She was travelling alone so god knows what bad things could have happened to her. She shouldn’t get herself into a state like that, especially when she couldn’t even speak Spanish. (She tried but the the lady told her to speak English as her Spanish wasn’t very good)

So yeah, it was eventful staying at the hostel. If any of you want to know the name of this delightful place, it’s called the d’hostel.

Would I recommend it? No…. it needs upgrading and looks kind of shabby. Plus all of the problems  mentioned above, there are a few more that I won’t mention as the ones here were the most annoying for me. Although the location was great as it was in the centre and only 5 minutes walk to the metro. So it’s very centric.

Would I stay here again? NO WAY.

Aisling.