Yucatán with Kids: A Travel Guide

Mexico Cassie has done it again. The author of Moving To Mérida: How To Successfully Move To Mexico As A Family has created an excellent guidebook to exploring the Mexican state of Yucatán with kids, naturally called Yucatán with Kids: A Travel Guide. 

This book includes pronunciation assistance for the Mayan place names you will be visiting. It highlights the best beaches, cenotes, and archaeological sites to take your kids. It does a great job of giving pertinent information, like how difficult the cenote is to access, so that you can plan accordingly. It also includes information on haciendas, natural spaces, caves, and inland cities and towns you can take your children, including Mérida and Valladolid. 

Towards the end of the book, Cassie includes two road-trip suggestions for traveling in Yucatán state and surrounding areas. There are notes on food, national festivals, safety and tips for traveling with children. As a guidebook for families with children exploring the area, it can’t be beat.

There were some editing issues that kept me from giving this book the highest rating, however. These are probably things that won’t bother the average reader, but I’m picky. First, the author says she wasn’t going to include pictures because most people would be reading an e-book version. What’s a guidebook without pictures? Since the majority of locations were places the author herself has visited with her family, I’m positive she has oodles of lovely images. And you can absolutely use pictures in e-books. It takes more time formatting, but it would have taken this book over the top.

Then there were some terms that were mistranslated, although they were understandable errors. The first was Río Lagartos which she informs her readers means Alligator river. No, it doesn’t. The word lagarto translates as lizard in English. Since the crocodiles that live there do indeed resemble very large lizards, Lizard River was an apt name. 

Another term that caught my attention was the word sarteneja which the author said translated as cistern. The Spanish online dictionary defined sarteneja as another term for bache (pothole). Further research informed me that sartenejas were crevices of naturally found water deposits. So I expect this is a Mayan term that originally referred to areas where water collected and now is used to talk about the structures that hold water. In my area, these are called aljibes and in areas more central in Mexico, I’ve heard the term pila. 

The third mistranslation was concerning the local sun god, Kinich Ahau. The author goes through the etymology of the word, stating kin means sun, ich means face and ahau means lord or priest. However, ich translates as both face and eye in Mayan. As most representations of the sun god have a sun literally in the eye of the carving, k’inich is thought to be more accurately translated as sun-eyed, rather than sun-faced. 

There were also some proofreading errors that should have been corrected before this book was released. In some places río (river) and ría (estuary) were used interchangeably and lacked accents. Then, when listing culinary delights, she mentioned chicharra and castacán as pork dishes. Well, castacán is indeed a local pork dish. However, chicharra is the word for cicada. While cicadas are, in fact, a delicacy in Mexico, they taste more like shrimp than pork, according to sources who have tried them. I believe the word she meant to use was chicharrón, pork rind. 

Towards the end of the book, it felt like I was reading the author’s travel notes rather than a guidebook. Sentences were incomplete, months and days were abbreviated, capitalization and accents became randomized and well, it felt rushed. There were some items that could have been explained a little better. For instance, she mentions Pueblos Mágicos. Anyone living in Mexico would know that she referred to select towns that received revinalization money in recent years to encourage tourism. However, travelers to Mexico might not have that information. 

All of these petty little negatives should not take away from the fact that as a guidebook for families with children who wish to travel in Yucatán state, Yucatán with Kids: A Travel Guide is top-notch. Available on Gumroad and Amazon.

I received an ARC from the author.

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My husband’s second wife

Wednesday, I had a rather stressful day with the highlight being a rather funny (now that I look back on it) but weird conversation with a woman who claimed that her husband had built our house. So let me start at the beginning. 

I was so excited about The Writer’s Toolkit bonus offers that I broke my own cardinal rule–NEVER use a site you are unfamiliar with to order something. One of the bonus items was a book that looked fascinating. I would have to enter my debit card information to pay for shipping on the author’s site which was off the Ultimate Bundles’ site. Since I had already ordered 4 other books without an issue for other bonus items and I have purchased bundles from Ultimate Bundles for the past 7 years, I naively went ahead and did entered my debit card information on Sunday. 

But, the form gave me an error message. Hmm. I tried again. Nope. So I contacted Ultimate Bundles who said they would look into it. I didn’t think anything more about it until I checked my bank balance on Wednesday. AAAAHHHH! There were two charges to some market in Thailand that totaled nearly $400 (dollars not pesos or whatever currency Thailand uses). 

I disputed the charges through my bank, which promptly canceled my bank card. The email from the bank assured me that I would receive a new card to my US mailing address in a few days. OH NO!  I still haven’t recovered from the last bank card shipping fiasco

I received an email saying that my account would be temporarily credited pending investigation for one of the fraudulent charges, but not the second. I decided to call the bank and ask. I was so flustered, I entered my social security number requested for identity verification wrong TWICE. I hung up and tried later. 

The internet was spotty, so the call quality via Skype wasn’t the best when I called again. I finally was connected to a bank customer service representative who told me he was from Milan. I explained the situation and he did some checking. He shared that something similar had happened to him once and he was so stressed he didn’t sleep for 3 days until the situation was resolved. I certainly lucked out with him. He made a point to make sure that my account would be credited for the second disputed amount as well. Thank goodness!

After that call, I sent another email to Ultimate Bundles to tell them what had happened. They did further investigation and the issue (the site had been hacked) was soon fixed. I was a hero!

Before I recovered from all that, someone knocked on the door about La Yacata business. Remember, I’m still the acting representative, although I’m only officially the treasurer. Anyway, the guy wanted to know about a lot he was interested in buying. I asked if the seller had the blue certificate. It’s a waste of my time if nobody has any papers to verify the lot location and ownership. 

The seller was over yonder as was a woman that I think was his sister. Those two, the original caller, and three other younger guys came to the door and gathered ‘round. The seller then pulled out the old cream certificate, not the blue certificate. When I tell him that the lot is owned by someone else, he says that Chuchi sent him to me to “fix” the situation. He says he bought the lot 20 years ago (the certificate said 2004, but whatever). The woman chimed in and said that she’d already talked to Chuchi as well. 

Remember, Chuchi is the guy who was in charge of La Yacata until the community staged a coup and took control of the Mesa Directiva (board of directors). Then he sued La Yacata for money he felt he was owed. He lost the court case. You can read the whole saga in La Yacata Revolution: How NOT to Buy a Piece of Heaven in Mexico available on Amazon.

The woman then said that her husband had built this house. I asked for clarification. Which house? Why the one I was living in. She even patted the wall affectionately. Really? I asked her if she was married to the man working on the next lot over (who was my husband). She looked confused. I told her that my husband, right there, had built this house. So unless we were married to the same man, her husband hadn’t built this house.

She clarified that her husband was a bricklayer and had told her that he had been working on a two-story house in La Yacata. There are 4 such homes, so there was no reason for her to zero on mine, but it is the nicest one of the bunch and I guess she thinks highly of her man’s skills or something.

Anyway, back to the issue at hand. I told the potential buyer to NOT buy that lot until ownership had been established. Then I told the seller he’d need to speak with Super Prez because I couldn’t do anything more for him. The seller said he’d talk to Chuchi and if Chuchi didn’t figure this out he’d shoot him in the head. The woman reprimanded him saying he shouldn’t say that because if something did happen to Chuchi, he’d be the first suspect. True enough. 

They left and a few minutes later, Azul the vet came with more La Yacata business. I told him I had just met my husband’s other wife and we had a good chuckle. 

The posse came back in the afternoon saying they had talked to Super Prez who told him to work it out with Chuchi. Instead of the lot on the certificate, Chuchi said he could have a different lot. I have a name in the master list for the “new” lot, but since no one’s come forward to claim it, Chuchi may have “reserved” that lot for his peeps. Our records aren’t 100% accurate. Hopefully I won’t have to do anything more with this situation, but that’s a sort of ridiculous pipe dream on my part.

Although I was ready for a nap, the day wasn’t done with me yet. I had forgotten that my WordPress site (this one) was due for renewal until I received notification that my card was declined. Of course it was. The bank canceled it. After a few moments of panic, I realized I could use my son’s card which hadn’t been compromised to pay for the subscription. So I did. Then since he has a Teen Money Account through Capital One 360, it was easy peasy to transfer the money I used from my account to his. Whew!

The last bit of frustration on Wednesday was trying to get my son’s schooling wrapped up. He completed all the courses and the community service (I had him help me with La Yacata stuff for a month). Now he has to turn in these 3 documents. The first has been sent and accepted. He’s currently working on the other two, but the site kept going down. But it’s gonna happen–he’s going to get an official diploma this month! (I’m trying to keep that thought foremost in my thoughts in case the universe is listening and willing to bestow good fortune on him. You all know how official paperwork goes here in Mexico.)

So, finally, if you’d like to get the Writer’s Toolkit now that I’ve personally assured the safety of ALL of the sites included in the bundle and the bonuses, you can still do so until midnight tonight. Despite my little shopping spree in Thailand, it really is an amazing collection of resources for writers (including me). ProBlogger and Kindleprenuer are just two of the big names in self-publishing that share tips and tricks to make your writing a succes in this collection. (Ok, so this isn’t the best sales pitch starting out with disaster, but it is what it is.)

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The Writer’s Toolkit 2021

Recently I started the online course 40 Days to a Finished Book by Leonie Dawson, and so far, it’s amazing. Leonie is somewhat like SARK, whose book Succulent Wild Woman I enjoyed in my 20s, but Leonie isn’t PG-rated. She’s not above using some Australian crassness to keep her students focused on the goal–which in this course is to finish writing a book.

Although I have several books started, I decided to focus on a book designed for working women living in rural Mexico for this course. As you might know, there are some substantial obstacles to overcome to working in rural Mexico. Hopefully, the finished manuscript will help ladies find a way to make a living despite those challenges.

Normally this course is $199, but I got it as part of The Writer’s Toolkit from Ultimate Bundles. So for just $97, I have access to Leonie’s quirky motivation PLUS 38 more resources worth over $5,000. What a bargain!

If you are a writer or would-be writer, I can’t recommend the Writer’s Toolkit enough. It’s an excellent investment in yourself and only available from June 7-11, so don’t wait too long!

As a side note, my book Book Building: A Beginner’s Guide to Crafting Your Book is included in the bundle, so you know it’s quality stuff!

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