The rentals job. And my friend Zach.

So I have been working in Vacation Rentals for about 1 month now. It is a commission only job, meaning I get a small percentage of the vacation rentals I secure. There wasn’t a ton of training or support when I started. It was mostly…..here is the owners list, here is the contract and here are a few leads …and go.

They have sent me quite a few leads, and some of the leads show a bit of interest, some say they are going to book and don’t, some write and say they booked elsewhere, and most just don’t even write back!

These cases make me want to send a follow up email stating that I spent a good 4 hours searching for those places I sent and did NOT get paid for that 4 hours!! How rude are these people!?

I suppose I am just frustrated because I feel like I keep trying and trying and I have yet to make a cent. And its mega stressful because, we are quickly running out of money!
B is working a really great job doing photography for an up and coming company here in PV. He gets a paycheck every 2 weeks and that covers exactly what our rent is per month. So, my job is to make enough money to pay for our bills, groceries, and lifey-ness all around. I am not doing that at all. I am using my visa and spending our savings. Augh. So it is very frustrating for me to go in to that office every day and work and work and work and never make a penny!

I still have my part time wedding coordination job, and thank GOD for them because that paycheck is feeding us right now. And I really enjoy that job too. The people are great, and I enjoy helping at their weddings.

I have started to work my rentals job from home as I have a hard time justifying going all the way to the office everyday. I am all set up here in my office, I have free long distance, a great macbook pro, and peace and quiet all day. (As well as unlimited food and coffee that I do not have to pay for).
But still I am making no money at it. The worst part is when I talk to experienced people in the industry about this they say  ‘Don’t worry, this is normal, it usually takes a good 1 or 2 years to really get good at this”.
WHAT!? Who can just not make money for 1 or 2 years?? How do these people pay bills?

I am going to keep at it and stay positive. But I refuse to accept that I will work for a year and not make money.
I am going to give it all I have and I am going to make some money doing that.

And if I don’t, well…then I will have to re-evaluate this whole thing.
And as always I will continue to update you all on how things come along.

Oh great news too my good long time friend Zach is coming to visit me!!! I am so so excited! Zach is a pilot, and one of those all around cool and really down to earth, nice people. We have been friends for over 14 years!! Well, with gaps of course. But we have always just, gone for coffee, and sat in the car and talked. We have never had the opportunity to frolick on the beach and go on boat rides together!!! EEEP it is so wonderful when friends visit!!

Happy Friday friends!

L

p.s – This is the view from my apartment right now. I do not like those clouds.

Scary looking clouds outside

The Malecon Project in Puerto Vallarta

A lot of controversy has risen in the past week in Puerto Vallarta as the locals watch our old world famous Malecon totally demolished and is now in process of being modernized and re-created into a safer, cleaner and more attractive design.

The city decided to implement the project for a few reasons.

First being that it needs to be fixed as the beach facing wall was damaged in the flooding last year. Second, to create a new modern look to attract tourism and generate more business for the locals.

Locals are angry because the vendors that make all their money on the Malecon were given no notice, and now their hub for making money this summer is not available to them.

They are also angry because the Malecon is a historical part of Vallartas history and charm, and some want to leave it un-touched.

So, days after production began,  a large group of protesters, made up of locals living here in Pv, marched through the streets with signs and a statement to make. (The streets they marched through were cleared for them by the city, which ironically enough, is who they are protesting against. Just saying).

I may get in quite a bit of trouble for saying this, but I don’t agree at all with all this anger and protesting.

I am personally all for this project!

I can definitely understand where the anger and opposition is coming from, and I also understand the argument that the funds could go towards other projects, like the bridge that needs to be rebuilt.

But here are my thoughts about the Malecon:

1) Yes it is affecting local vendors who sell their products, services, entertainment on the Malecon, but first, they are doing everything they can do to do it as fast as possible, as we have seen over the last few days, and it will be a far more attractive and functional boardwalk afterwards which I believe will increase tourism, therefore benefiting them in the long run. And, by working in a public space like that, you do run that risk of having construction projects affect your work, and it will happen at some point, no matter what city you work in, as most popular tourists destinations are constantly working on modernizing  and improving the architecture and developments of their city to increase tourism. So, it’s not that the city is plotting against you and doesn’t care about you, but construction is kind of a constant in a growing city, it is bound to happen at some point.

2) I don’t really believe that this is affecting anything about Vallartas history or culture. The history and culture on the Malecon is in the art, the vendors, the people, the entertainment, the vendors, the business. Not in the layout and structure of the ground people are walking on. The Malecon as they had it before actually separated the Malecon walkers from the businesses with a heavy stream of traffic. And this way there will actually be more space for all those who utilize that space for lucrative means.

3) Protesting after they have already started the project I believe is sort of pointless.  I fully believe that everyone has the right to have their voice heard by the city they pay taxes in, and I believe that it would have been very easy for the city to not cooperate and not close down the streets for this protest, but they did. And even if the protest was powerful enough that they were able to convince the city to go back on the project, the Malecon has quite literally been torn up, jack hammered, etc. They are already fully amidst production, they can’t just ‘put it all back’. They have made an impressive amount of progress in the time they have had, and they have no choice but to move forward at this point.

4) As one of the top tropical destinations in the world, Puerto Vallarta will continue to modernize as any major tourist destination is constantly doing. This has shown to be successful in other popular destinations such as London, Sydney, Dubai, etc. where some of the most outstanding architecture and modern city developments have attracted more and more tourists over the years.  I honestly believe that Puerto Vallarta is smart to stay on top projects that continue to increase tourism. And as tourism is the bread and butter for most of us that live here, isn’t that in turn taking care of us locals?

The malecon before

Construction

Protestors

Police blocking the streets for the protest

The design plans

Yoga dia 2

Yoga Vallarta

I’m only on day 2 of my 30 day yoga challenge and I am already exhausted!

I haven’t done yoga in so long and I forgot how intense an hour and fifteen minutes of Ashtanga flow really is!

Also, I am not a huge morning person. And these classes start at 9am which means I have to be up at 7:30 so I have time to shower, choose a cute yoga outfit, make coffee, feed myself, feed my cat, and have a bit of time to relax on the computer with my coffee so I arrive at my yoga class refreshed like a happy morning person that just goes to a morning yoga class and not flustered and grumpy  like I normally am in the morning.

And the studio is on the other side of Puerto Vallarta which is a good 10 minute bus drive. And these are not the kind of busses you can drink coffee on. Not if you want your yoga outfit to be clean when you arrive.

So yesterdays class was a nice easy vinyassa flow ying yang. Which means we laid around and stretched a lot and rolled around a lot and did a bit of standing like trees. I love vinyassa, so slow and so nice. And it was a lovely transition back to Yoga for me!

Today’s class, the Ashtanga, was extremely hard. And long. I thought that Savasana would never come! It was honestly the most intense work-out that I have had in Mexico to date, and felt even more intense than a similar class in Calgary would, because the studio is so hot! I have never been to hot yoga, but I think I did something very similar this morning.

My whole body hurts and it’s only been 2 days. But, I hear the exhaustion will go away. First when you start you feel tired all the time, and then somewhere along the way it starts to have the opposite effect and give you more energy!

I hope that is soon. Because this afternoon napping is sort of interrupting my work.

(Even though my cat enjoys it).

This Saturday I have a wedding, although I am going to get up early and try my hand at a Zumba class which is a latin/international dance/aerobic/fitness type class! Sounds fun!

Yoga and the noises in the morning. With video!

It is 7am. I am yet again awake at this ridiculous hour of the morning. Yesterday it was the neighbors dog that woke me up. Today it was either a pack of crying babies, or a bunch of cats in heat. I can’t decide which one. But the sound was awful enough to end my peaceful slumber. There is always a wide variety of noises around here in the morning. Amongst cats and babies are dogs, roosters, horses, cars, tropical birds of all kinds, people still partying, random Mexicans yelling, and of course, the church bells. All these noises were charming, for about our first week in Mexico.

Anyway so it’s 7am and I have decided that I am awake and I must stay awake. If I go back to sleep now, I will not wake up until 11am, that is so me.

And I can’t anyway. Today is kind of a big day for me! Today is the first day of my personal 30 day yoga challenge! I have loved yoga for a long time, and to be honest, I haven’t done any yoga here in Mexico yet. I went to one class, but it was all in Spanish and I was too busy trying to copy the girl next to me to really find my zen.

Also, I tried doing yoga at home but I found I had a really hard time focusing. We live on a pretty noisy street and it’s very difficult to calm my mind and really focus. And above all, I am been very lazy the past few months. I have done a little work, a few weddings, seen a few friends, but other than that, I haven’t really done much at all. Sleeping more, eating out, drinking margeritas, and just spending many many lazy afternoons with B doing nothing, walking around, napping, watching movies, etc.

I’ve been trying not to feel guilty about it and trying to remember that, that is why I came to Mexico! Because living shouldn’t be about having 2 jobs and filling every day and weekend with more and more and more. However, I have been feeling very out of shape, and very tired. I suppose that’s what too many lazy afternoons and too many margaritas do to a girl.

So, a perfect opportunity came up through this coupon company that B works for here! 1 month of Yoga at Yoga Vallarta (The only place in Vallarta that does english taught classes!) so you get 1 month of unlimited yoga for only $325 pesos, which is appx $27!

Also, my friend Shannon signed up for the month too, so I have a yoga freind! Yay!

So I will be blogging about my 30 days of yoga, not that anyone would find it that interesting, but then at least I would have some kind of illusion of accountability.

So, here we go, day 1 yoga challenge!

Also, I took a video to try to capture some of those morning noises I was telling you about! It actually sounds quite peaceful in the video, but I’ll have to get it on a day where its even earlier with babies and dogs and the pack of heat cats, haha!

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/5299089/MOV01120.MPG

xoxo

L

10 ways to keep in touch and feel more at home when living abroad

Before moving to Mexico, I had never lived further than 30 minutes away from my best friends and closest family, so naturally it was a difficult adjustment coming here, where I knew no one.

Here are the top then things that have helped me keep in touch and feel at home while living here in Mexico.

10) Skype  – Anyone, regardless of what country you live in, should have skype. How amazing is it that I can have face to face wine dates with my sister, and hang out with my niece, watching her draw pictures for me! And, for FREE! Being able to talk to anyone like they are in the room always makes me forget the distance between us.

9) Magic Jack  – Magic Jack is like having a phone on your computer. First, it allows us to make any call to Canada or the US for free, and talk for an unlimited amount of time any time day or night, always for free. And, it also allows us to have a Calgary #, so anyone back home can call us just like they are calling someone else in Calgary. We have not paid 1 long distance phone bill, and neither has anyone who has called us. Also, we can’t exactly give our bank, doctors, and Alberta Health Care our # in Mexico, that wouldn’t go over well, so it just makes everything so much easier that way too. I think we paid something like $100 for 5 years. I heart my Magic Jack!! However, your computer has to be on for you to receive calls and there is no magic jack for the iPhone yet. However….

8) Net talk – Net talk is a free app on the iPhone that allows you to make free calls anywhere in Canada and the US for free, for any amount of time, any day or night. Anywhere you can get wifi (which in Puerto vallarta, is pretty much anywhere, and for free as well), you can use Net talk. Now, it doesn’t give you a phone number to receive calls, but its a FREE app! I can be sitting at any restaurant or coffee shop with wifi, and talk to any one in Calgary, for free! Hmm, now if only you text with anyone in Canada and the US, that would be ideal….

7) TextPlus4  – Another free app for the iPhone that allows you to text message with anyone in Canada or the US as much as you want for FREE. You just download the app, it downloads your contacts book, and you text away! It doesn’t give you a #, so they just have to reply to your last text to text you. But of course, this is in wifi zones as well. *Unless you have a local phone plan, which surprisingly down here are very expensive! So, now I can talk face to face, for free, for as long as I want, and talk and text on my cell phone all for FREE!! Ahh, the pleasures of technology.

6) Starbucks – Starbucks is reliable, consistent, air conditioned, and for me, full of memories of back home. Having the chance to spend an afternoon in Starbucks with my same old Cinnamon Dulche latte and lose myself in the afternoon really makes me forget where I am and always leaves me with wonderful warm thoughts of home. What if you moved somewhere without a Starbucks? Then you are much braver than I am, that’s my limit, if there is no Starbucks, it’s far too scary and different for me! I joke. Sort of.

5) Visiting home  – Where do those that live in Mexico go on Vacation? Back home to see their friends and family of course! Every one living abroad should have holidays just like everyone else. I planned a trip to Calgary in February after being here for 5 months, and organized the whole thing just like a trip to Mexico, but the itinerary was a little different. (Monday-lunch with family, Tuesday-shopping with sister, Wednesday-Sleepover with best friends, Weekend – Trip to Canmore with the family). Make sure to budget at least 1 holiday home a year.

4) Have friends and family visit you – The good thing about moving to somewhere like Puerto Vallarta, is it’s not hard to convince friends and family to come and visit you. One of my best friends came last month with 3 other great friends, and we did all the Mexican touristy things all over again, and had an amazing week! Being able to share your new life with your besties and family back home is always the best experience!!

3) Wal-Mart and Costco – So convenient, so cheap, always reliable, always the same. I absolutely love perusing the Wal-Mart and Costco. I can spend hours inside just like I used too, and forget everything about the outside world. Nothing better than just a regular Saturday afternoon at Costco!

2) Sex and the City – As many young women do, I have every single episode of SATC, and watch them on a regular basis. Having a SATC night with some wine makes me feel soo at home and happy!! It’s a nice break from Mexico land.

1) Spending time with new friends – This is probably the most important way to feel at home. Going for lunch with some girlfriends, volunteering at charity events, meeting new people, drinking wine and listening to salsa music with amazing people, that you never would have had the chance to meet. These experiences help you understand why you moved abroad, and helps you understand that anywhere you can make really great friends, is somewhere you can call home.

Feel happy living abroad!

Kisses!

 
My blogging friend Lauren wrote about this a few months ago, and I am really starting to understand what she was going through!
 
In Mexico, it is customary to kiss on the right cheek while greeting someone. (That means, go left!) However, there are certain rules/etiquitte that needs to be applied, or you could run into real troubles! (I have learnt the hard way too many times, and 6 months later, I am just getting the hang of it!)
 
Here is a quick and informative Q & A that will assist you next time you are in Mexico!!
 
How does it work?
 
When you say hello to a friend, aquantince or co-worker, take their left hand in your right hand and kiss then lightly on the left cheek.
Repeat the same process when saying goodbye.
 
Things to be careful about:
 
You must say say ¨Hola, como estas?´ before going in for the kiss. If you don´t manage to say it before hand, then you will be talking while they are kissing you on the cheek, therefore you are not kissing them back, but rather talking to them while they have their face pressed up against yours.
So, say hi first! Even if you have to talk at the same time as them, do it!
It´s much better than trying to say the greeting while kissing them at the same time!
If you both go in for the kiss too fast without saying your hello and how are you first, then you end up in a situation where you are just rubbing faces and talking to each other at the same time. Which as you can imagine, gets awkward.
 
Other things to watch for:
 
Do not get your lefts and right cheeks mixed up! I did that the other day and almost kissed my friend on the lips. It was majorly awkward and embarrasing. And, if you do this, laugh it off and do not try to go back and kiss the correct cheek. You would just be exasparating the situation.
 
Another note:
 
Some european countries such as France, kiss on the left cheek, and then the right. We do not do this in Mexico. Just the 1 kiss on the 1 cheek.
 
What if it is my friend, I wouldn´t shake my friends hand!
 
Well it depends how formal the friendship is. But if it is a really close friend, then that wouldn´t be nessacary. This is a more formal introduction to the kiss. So, where do your hands go when its a friend? I typically place my right hand on their upper arm and kiss. Or if you have your hands full, you can just use no hands.
 
What if I have just met them, do I kiss still?
 
Usually there is no need to kiss a strager, you can usually shake hands and smile politely. However if you have spoken with them for more than a few minutes, you should probabably kiss during the goodbyes.
 
Things to remember:
 
When being introduced to a new person, they may be a very friendly person who wants to do the kiss. You have to be on top of things and make the decision of weather they will go for the kiss or not. You have a few seconds to decide if they will, or not. If you find yourself in a situation where they are going for this kiss, and you were not going for the kiss, do not try to overcompensate by kissing more, or kissing on both cheeks or hugging after the kiss, just smile and kiss them back politely, even if a little delayed. BUT, if the delay is more than 2 seconds, just don´t kiss. Because you will then likely have a situation like you just had, where they are now the ones not ready for the kiss. And this is a whole lot of awkwardness for 2 people who have never even met.
 
Is it actually a ..kiss?
 
I don´t really know. Sometimes I just pucker up near their face and make a kissing sound. Sometimes I don´t feel like I should be making a kissing sound. Sometimes I don´t want to actually kiss them, especially if they are new, or a sweaty man.  Sometimes I full on kiss them. I still haven´t really figured that part out. Sorry.
 
Do you ever hug after the kiss?
 
Sometimes. This is another situation where you need to quickly use your intuition and decide if they are going in for the post kiss hug. Generally with good friends, family, closer people that you are more comfortable with, then its safe to assume there would be a hug to follow.
 
Note:
 
The post kiss hug is a one armed polite pat, combined with a very gentle squeeze. Not one of those big long bear hugs, after all, you have already just kissed, no need to go too crazy.
If you find yourself in a situation where you have gone in for the hug, and they haven´t, you will find yourself trying to squeeze the person who is is now backing away. This is very uncomfortable, and really, I have no advice about what to do them. You look kind of silly, and there is nothing you can do about it. Just try to use better intuition next time.
Perhaps it may be benefiical to keep a mental note of those who generally hugs after and those who don´t, so you are more prepared next time.
 
 
I´m not comfortable with kissing everyone all day! Can´t I just fist-pump?
 
Although this certianly is the more sanitary and Canadian way of doing things, that would just simply not fly here. Mexico is a country of love. And manners is of utmost importance to them. My advice is to just, get comfortable with it. The kiss is all about warmth and hospitality , the mexican way!
 
Well I hope I have helped. And provided you with enough laughs and awkwardness to last the whole weekend!
 
Happy Friday friends!
Go and kiss someone!
 
xoxo
L

The good life.

Today is Thursday. B and I are sitting here listening to Bob Marley (and other such great music), drinking home-made margaritas (thanks for the blender Jackie!) and other than that, we are not doing much else. Talking to friends, enjoying a cool breeze in this intense heat.

We have been in Mexico for just over 6 months now. When we moved here 6 months ago, we had absolutely no idea what was ahead. We had just fallen head over heels in love, and something fun and crazy was ahead. And at the time, that was all I knew, and that was all I needed to know.

So, being responsible adults, we said…lets give it 6 months. Then we will go back to the real world and work job and drive cars like good responsible adults in Canada do. I don’t think B ever had the intention of going back. But I really did. I leaned more towards the idea that this was a fun short break of normal life, and work. And that soon enough we would eventually return to the way things were. Because, first, the way things were was not a bad thing. I had an amazing life in Calgary. A perfect little apartment to call my own in a trendy little neighbourhood, a fabulous job, and most importantly the most amazing friends and family that gave me a lifetime of laughs and support. So, for me, the idea was always to…have fun and then go home to my great people, and my great life, after we had a a bit of fun in Mexico.
Go home and live the good Canadian life again.

But as somewhere along the way, everything changed. Perhaps it was seeing how the Mexicans live, and adapting to it. Or, perhaps it was just realizing that most of the world lives like this. Or, perhaps it was finally starting to understand why most of the world lives like this. That and a combination of experiencing a life that I never even knew existed. Like a sense of freedom and happiness that you almost feel too guiltily to share with your people back home.

I am grateful for everything that we have learned, and experienced together. I’m grateful for all the adventures, and all the new friends we have made along the way.

But then again, I am starting to really understand that…life should be this good. Life actually shouldn’t be hard, and we shouldn’t surround our very existence around working hard and making money and buying great things with all the money we made. It shouldn’t be complicated, or hard. Each and every single person I know deserves to experience freedom and happiness.

I have lived my life worried, stressed, a bit panicked about everything, and a little bit bitter that ‘it all had to be so hard for me’.
And, not to be hokey and say I’ve had some kind of revolutionary epiphany, because that’s just too Disney for even me to believe.

But I can say that this past 6 months has really opened my eyes to the world. The things that really matter, the things that are actually devastating, and the stuff that life is made of. The good life.


Happy Labor Day!

Hi friends!

This morning B and I got up early (and by early, I mean 10am for me, 9am for him) and headed over the popular Pitillal market. Pitillal is a small mexican town (or district?) about 10 minutes north of Downtown Puerto Vallarta. The great thing about this place is that it is not typically a place that tourists go. It’s a full on locals hub, where there are no timeshare sales, no ‘special prices for you lady’.
B at the Pitillal market…

This place is amazing, its packed with miles and miles of shopping, more than even I could tackle! Local herbs, taco stands, endless amounts of local food, amazing clothes for super cheap, shoes galore, electronics, hardware stores, treats, fresh fruit, pirated movies, I could go on, they have absolutely everything! Its just complete mexican shopping indulgence everywhere you turn! This place is described as ‘real Mexico’, and it definitely is super mexican-ey!

We stopped for tacos!! (About $1.00US each) mmm…

Tuba stand…(Tuba is a citrusey mexican drink sold on the streets that is so refreshing on a hot day!!)

Pitillal Church (See how full it is, people are standing outside)

Also today in Mexico is Labor Day. This was surprising to me because I have always celebrated Labor Day in early September.
Labor day as you know is a day to celebrate the working people. And the working class make up most of the underpaid/hardworking population here.  This being said, Mexicans have a history of protesting/rioting/fighting for fairness/rights on this day.

On May 1st, 06 in Mexico City  members of Mexican workers unions burnt an effigy representing politicians during a protest march.(Look at that thing, it’s huge!! What a statement!)

And last May over 900.000 headed to Zócalo (town center) of Mexico City to protest labor laws! (900,000!! Amazing!!)

So many people still think of this when they think of Mexico…..

But living here, I have found that Mexicans are some of the hardest working people I have ever known. Everyone working in Mexico, (us expats included) has to work a lot harder to make far less money than you would in Canada/USA. As well, things such as HR, benefits, job security and career training programs are FAR less frequent here. So, it makes sense that the peole of Mexico would feel the need to riot and protest when it comes to their labor rights.
To all the hardworking Mexicans, happy labor day!!!

Despite how hard the people of this country work, Mexico is still named 2nd in the happiest countries in the world.

Hmm. how interesting. What makes a happy country?

What does a flash mob in paradise look like?

Like this!!

(Okay apparently I am not so good at this embedding videos thing, but here is the link…turn up the volume!!)

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xifvx8_flash-mob-puerto-vallarta_travel

The people of Puerto Vallarta organized this flash mob in the heart of the city in an attempt to increase tourism, and to show the world that Puerto Vallarta is an amazing, vibrant, and SAFE city in Mexico!!

I have truly fallen in love with this city over the past 6 months. Not only the fact that it really is pure paradise here, but the culture, and people have really stolen my heart.

I feel so proud to live here and I really hope this video makes it to all those little minions of the American media, who think  Mexico is a scary and dangerous place!

VIVA MEXICO!!!!!!!!!!