Az-u-lik-it

011bdc3f7377355e9e99b443f009cc147fe769ed37There are some places that — no matter how artsy or what kind of camera you have — just cannot be captured accurately. Azulik is like that.

Yes, that is an OUTDOOR BATHTUB.

When Marco, the front desk extraordinaire, first showed me my room, my mouth was agape. Then I was squealing. Was this my life?

Located on Boca Paila, Tulum’s beachfront road, Azulik is a hotel with entirely no electricity. Their focus is on nature, enjoying the surroundings, and it’s hard not to do just that when you’re there. (You can charge your phone at one plug in the room, at certain times of night, but otherwise you’re best bet is the front desk, where there’s plugs a plenty and the wifi is strongest.)

Azulik is simple — complimentary breakfast is served every morning, consisting of mostly pastries, toast and jams, fresh fruit, and plenty of coffee — but special. It truly is a place to go to feel removed from the world, any outside pressures, and just relax. I’ve experienced no other place quite like it.

Taking daily baths was one of the highlights of my stay. It really slowed me down and calmed me. I would return again tomorrow, if I could.

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As you can see, Azulik is muy romantic. Go with your partner. There’s no showers, just bathtubs. It’s fabulous.

Here’s my tips for your stay at Azulik:

  • Lots of reading material; little wifi means that it’s book time, and reading in bed via flashlight is so pioneer of you!
  • Keep an open mind. Azulik’s beach is clothing optional. Lots of German scrotum to upset you, or not. Bare it all or just enjoy, but leave the snark behind!
  • Rent a bike. Azulik is within a reasonable riding distance to the ruins.
  • Go to Mateo’s. Azulik is close to two great bars, one of which is Mateo’s. Their fish tacos are truly good, if a bit pricey. The chile margaritas are TO. DIE. FOR. Puro Corazon is beside Mateo’s, and both feature live music, both are laid back, with delicious food. There was something about Mateo’s that made me like it more, but both were great, and within walking distance to Azulik.
  • Go to Hartwood. It’s down Boca Paila, almost to the biosphere. We met two foodie friends at the front desk and they’d never heard of the place, so we invited them along. It turned out to be a dining experience to remember, and one of the best meals of our life. Everything is the freshest, and the waiters are superb eye candy.

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Christmas in Santiago

You know you’re headed someplace good when it’s before noon and the music is blasting while you board the plane.

And you also know it’s time to drink!

And so I boarded my Merry Christmas-to-me flight to Santiago, Dominican Republic, where a driver from Coco Tours waited to receive me.

Shout-out to Coco Tours: not only are they the most reliable and highest TripAdvisor-ranked tour and airport transfer company in the DR, they were more than flexible with my travel arrangements and super communicative. If you’re traveling to the DR and need transport from an out-of-the-way airport (like me) or want to hire a private bus driver for the day, Coco Tours is the best. Tell them Loose Gringa sent ya!

I got into the taxi van and we proceeded down Santiago’s mountains to Cabarete, a small beach town in the Puerto Plata province.

Santiago’s Christmas celebrations were beyond crazy — everyone was in the street, gallons of Brugal rum dangling from seemingly everyone’s wrists, music and parties happening all over.

Then blackness.

The mountains enveloped us — hairpin curves and drop-offs I hadn’t experienced since driving the Road to Hana in Maui. With no lights, strays everywhere, drunken motorcyclists, and pedestrians darting from the brush, I was glad we were in a Catholic country, in the hands of a God-fearing man at the wheel, on Christmas day.

2014 and beyond!

Greetings from snowy Boston!

Thank you, readers, for a phenomenal past year. 2014 looks to be even more superb, as next week I embark on an 8-day sojourn to the Dominican Republic’s north coast.

And three weeks after I return from the DR, I’ll be heading back to Tulum for a rollicking stay at Azulik and for another adventure in the Yucatan.

I can’t wait to share with you all my stories, pictures, and places in 2014.

There is SO much more to come and I’m thrilled to share it all with you.

Thank you for reading Loose Gringa and, as ever, stay tuned!

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Rounding a corner to Rincón

Rincón — Spanish for corner — is on the Western side of Puerto Rico, a two hour’s drive from San Juan.

Waiting for us was an enigmatic and as yet faceless man known only as Carlos, whose condo we’d be renting out. I’d texted with Carlos throughout the day and he’d informed me that Rincón was easy to get to, but hard to navigate once there — because the little surfing village doesn’t really have many road names. Using our GPS was useless as well. It was almost as if Rincón didn’t exist. I was intrigued.

One road name stuck out, however, and would foreshadow our entree into town.

IMG_5889Evening fell as we entered the village. We followed Carlos’ instructions of turning this way and that at specific landmarks and against all odds we successfully located a trove of oceanfront condominiums. Carlos met us ever so briefly at the front gate to exchange keys before speeding away in a fancy little car.

We were starving, but before we could leave the house to explore, a little disaster occurred. Not within 15 minutes of us being inside the condo, the toilet exploded.

IMG_5895There was a geyser, a lot of screaming, frantic running … Water gushed for minutes until we finally turned off the water valve in the bathroom. We got Carlos on the horn and he vowed a plumber was on his way.

IMG_5894Treading an inch of water throughout the house, we got the hell out.

But where to go?

The sleepy town of Rincón was almost fully dead, as it was the off-season. Restaurants shuttered and no one walking the streets, we managed to find the downtown area and wandered into a place called Brothers Pizza for a late slice.

The local ne’er–do–wells were congregated there and happy to engage us and provide the evening’s entertainment.

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Greetings from Rincon!

The older gentleman of the bunch asked us to meet him at the pizza parlor the next day at three, where he would feed us moringa tea and it would cleanse us and maybe we’d have some psychedelic experience … I wasn’t really sure what he was talking about.

But you know I was into the idea, anyway.

As for Anne. Not so much.

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