Chichen Itza | Mexico

Back in October, Felipe and I boarded a late-night flight and took off for Mexico. While our final destination was Tulum, we woke up early in the morning to make it to Chichen Itza which was not exactly on the way but totally worth the detour. We made it there before most of the buses did and had it mostly to ourselves for awhile.

To ourselves, that is, until the Instagrammers. Within the span of a few minutes, there was a girl with wide-brimmed hat whichever way you looked, usually accompanied by a gaggle of other girls, all taking turns getting the perfect “shot”. I follow my share of travel accounts on Instagram but it was hilarious watching these people in action.

 Imitating the Influencers

Imitating the Influencers

Chichen Itza was a Mayan city on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. Although it’s an important tourist attraction, Chichen Itza also remains an active archeological site. New discoveries are still being unearthed in the area, providing even more insight into the culture and accomplishments of the Mayan people, who ruled much of present-day Mexico and Central America prior to the arrival of European colonists. Chichen Itza was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988 and, in 2007, it was voted in a global survey as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
— History.com
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This is the cenote or limestone sinkhole that attracted the ancient Mayans to the spot for Chichen Itza. Apparently, the water was more clear in the past. Cenotes abound in this region and you can see some of the ones we visited here and here.

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Uncorked Cooking Workshop | Santiago | Chile

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While traveling the world, one thing I have come to appreciate is the vast choice of spices that are available in different regions. Exploring those flavors is one of my favorite things to do while traveling. When researching cooking classes in Santiago before our trip, Uncorked stood out from the rest. I was a bit hesitant at first because of the cost for the package but in the end, it was well worth it!

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Our tour started in the market district of Santiago. Read more about our tour of Mercado Central here. From the markets, we took the train back to the kitchen. We were immediately impressed with the beautiful, spacious facilities. Since we were in Chile in the off-season, it was just the two of us in our class but this gorgeous kitchen could comfortably accomodate larger groups.

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Point Aldeia do Açai | Brazil

Let me tell you a secret. Churrasco (or grilled meat) is not the best that Brazilian cuisine has to offer. That would be açai (ah-sigh-ee). Açai is a small black fruit grown on a specific species of palm tree and sold as a frozen fruit sorbet. You might have seen this advertised at health stores Stateside or on the boardwalk in California but do not be fooled. Unless purchased at your local Brazilian co-op (Dallas), this is likely a sad imitation of this Brazilian delight. Do yourself a favor and try the real deal!

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For me, açai was an acquired taste. My first year in Brazil, before Felipe and I started dating but had already been hanging out in groups for awhile, we met up after work one day to go to Becco do Batman. After we arrived, he asked me if I liked açai. I said sure, trying to be agreeable and impress my crush, and ended up with a large purple bowl of frozen goop. I tried to shovel down a few spoonfuls to be cordial but my body was not having it.

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Once we started dating, Felipe convinced me to try it again one afternoon after visiting his family across town. This açai was different. It was delicious (or maybe I was just tired from conversing in Portuguese and hot from lack of air conditioning). Regardless, it became our weekly tradition. There is one place in particular that has the best açai in all of Brazil: Point Aldeia do Açai. This is our friend. He owns two of these shops.

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Like ice cream, açai can be topped with sugary delights. In two years, I ate a considerable amount of açai and this is the best ratio I have found: peanuts on bottom, açai, peanuts on top, condensed milk. The perfect ratio of salty to sweet. This summer (Brazilian winter), we got to eat açai every. single. day. YUM.

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Philadelphia | USA

In an effort to see all 50 states before we move on, we took a quick weekend trip to Philadelphia. The weather (mostly) cooperated and Felipe learned a lot about American history! We also took a drive to Gettysburg and stopped off in Amish country for while. There is nothing quite like the beauty of fall in the north!

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Los Angeles | USA

I don’t know at what point Santa Monica became the annual Irons family vacation but I wouldn’t change it for the world! We generally travel around the Fourth of July because of my dad’s work schedule. This year, we spent the holiday playing volleyball on the beach!

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