leisure, travel

Hello, Playa del Carmen

In October 2017 I spent few wonderful days in Playa del Carmen. A little bit earlier I received some rather sad news from home. Needless to say, last minute flight tickets to Ukraine, my home country are extremely expensive, so I wasn’t able to go home. But I knew, that I needed some change, at least for a little while. The Caribbean Sea has always been a fascination of mine, and yet I still didn’t have a chance to go see it. I live in big Houston TX, which is two hours away. So the decision was made.

Since late October is not a high season for Playa Del Carmen, I was able to get a really good deal on flights.

I have heard a lot of good things about Playa Del Carmen, so that’s where I headed. To get there I flew to Cancun International Airport. From the airport there it is only a short stretch of 40 min drive to a beautiful coastal town – Playa Del Carmen or simply Playa.

A good friend of mine lives in Playa. He was very nice to show me around. And the first look didn’t disappoint.

The Caribbean Sea was well worth it. In fact it was even better, than I expected: beautiful crystal water of all shades of turquoise. It was truly a dream come true. I instantly felt like one of the characters of Pirates of the Caribbean movie.

We watched the sun set over the sea from The Carmen Hotel patio. In the evening we walked down the beach and later hanged out in the little bar, called Mono Blanco on 38th. Even though I was very tired from the flight, it was a perfect first day. It was so easy to unwind and get into the relaxing mode. Too bad I only had four day to enjoy this place.

During the day two we visited Tulum, a small town on the Caribbean coast. Tulum is well known for its crystal water and beautiful white sand beaches and, of course, for the well preserved old Mayan port town.  The main pyramid – El Castillo (castle), stands on a rocky cliff and overlooks the turquoise sea. It truly is a paradise. After absorbing all that history, we swam in that beautiful water. It was well worth the visit and I sure will be back. There are also lots of really big iguanas, which were chilling in the sun and didn’t pay any attention to curious tourists.

On the way back to Playa, we stopped at Akumal, which is about 100 km from Cancun and about 40 from Playa. The water in the little bay was very calm and clear. Akumal is famous for snorkeling, because this place has a large population of sea turtles.

Granted I only had 4 days in Mexico, I spent remaining two days in Playa, enjoying the beach, drinking ojos rojos (Mexican Bloody Maries) and cervezas, swimming in the sea, eating good food and just relaxing at the beach.

The last day of my trip fell on November 1st, which in Mexico is El Dia de los Muertos – Day of the Dead. During this time, deceased family members are commemorated and remembered with offerings and celebrations. It is a very spiritual and important holiday for most Mexicans. The streets were busy, there were also a few shows of Aztecs traditional dancers, acrobats and performers. Face-painting is also an important tradition. The most common design is to paint the face to resemble a skull – cavalera. It is sometimes accompanied with flowers and nice clothing – those are called cavaleras catrinas (the Elegant Skull) – a skeleton lady dressed in nice clothes and hat. It is a reminder, that regardless of status and wealth, we are all the same and death shouldn’t be feared.

This was an amazing trip. Needless to say, it was way too short and I wanted to do more things and stay longer. I would take a ferry to Cozumel Island, explore Chichen Itza – one of the New Wonders of the World, swim in one of the many breathtaking Cenotes, visit historic Merida, the capital of Yukatan State of Mexico, go to Isla Mujeres, a secluded island of the Caribbean Coast. Those are just a few things to do and see in this beautiful country.

So, I will see you soon again, Mexico!

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leisure, travel

Place of a Day. Magnificent Grand Canyon

It is a very rainy day outside here in Houston, Texas.  End of August is a peak of hurricane season, and this year didn’t disappoint: hurricane Harvey is in its full force, bringing rain, wind, storm and more rain.  It is suddenly very dark and gloomy outside. The plan for the next few days is watching movies, enjoying the rain from the comfort of the cozy apartment and, maybe, looking at the old pictures on the laptop and reminiscing about the beautiful places and good moments, spent out there.

Place of the day – majestic Grand Canyon, truly one of the most spectacular landscapes in the world.

Eight long and exhausting hours on a bus from Las-Vegas, multiple stops and few unnecessary changes of the route we made it to the Grand Canyon.

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The view of one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World did not disappoint. It is quite challenging to describe with words its true beauty, silent and almost dangerous.  This wonder of nature takes the breath away and fascinates. The Canyon spreads so far and I don’t think there is ever enough time to enjoy its spectacular beauty.

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Uncategorized

Power of media

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When I started going to journalism school, I honestly didn’t realised, how actually important mass media are.
Yes, they create public opinion, critisize government, control authority. Yes, it is very important to show real situation, to provide objective explanation of current and past events – theory, we used to study in the class.
But in the same timeI was thinking, this cannot be true, that people believe all the crap, they see on TV.
Most actually do. They don’t care too much and believe in what they want to believe. Even with the development of social networks, numerous blogs and all kinds of new technologies, newspapers and TV-channels still play a huge role in forming the society.
When euromaidan started, I realised, how many of my neighbours don’t know, what is really going on. A lot don’t have internet connection, so they are watching cable TV – channels, owned by our former authority – criminals and killers. Those weren’t news – just a show with not a single word of actual truth.
Another example – Russian mass media nowadays. There are no words to explain, how much dirt I’ve read in the last two weeks. I have an e-mail account at the source mail.ru. So from time to time I would read couple articles. They are provocative and very subjective, but the worst part is readers comments underneath the materials. 400 comments about how horrible we, Ukrainians, and the rest of the world are – that is a little too much. Once I posted a comment, actually a polite one, and was banned from the source for two days.
In USSR time this kind of stuff was called propaganda and it worked perfectly well, influencing society, making viewers real zombies. As russian president is trying to resurrect USSR from the dead, he is using the same deadly tools.
They are saying, we are benderovtsy, fascists, terrorists, who are eating children, drinking blood, killing innocent policemen. Europe and USA are true evil, which are slowly going to their end and deserve it.
It may sound really funny, because some news are just ridiculous (even in the worst scenario, we are not fascists and do not eat children), but majority believes it. The consequences of such propaganda might be very prolonged and dangerous.

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Ukrainian crisis

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I’m originally from Ukraine. And the last few months have probably been the hardest since 1991 – proclaiming independence. When euromaidan started, no one knew, where we would end up. Criminal authority, massive corruption – thats reality. 23 years of independence -it a lot, but clearly not enough for the country with USSR in the past. With no exagaration, most of problems, most issues, that we got now, we inherited from that monstrious country.
The events of the last couple months have showed – this is just the start, beginning of a bloody war with old demons. And its not just words – blood happened. We will always remember Heroes, who died for freedom.
It was hard to believe, that in  21 st century with all the development, new technologies, numerous conventions about human rights, freedom – we are still in the same place and nothing has really changed. People die, rights become violated, countries got occupied (At least one example – Georgia in 2008). And most importantly, those, who promised to guarantee security,are watching it and they ignore it.
In 1994 Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapon ( 4th potencial in the world – after USA, Russia and China) and proclaimed itself as nuclear free, peaceful country. In the case of war intervention or any other military threat USA, Great Britain and Russia guaranted help and support. It was a noble act of a new country and, in my opinion, mistake number one, followed by many others.
Now Russia is the one, who threatens us and the rest of the world as well, even if the rest of the world still don’t realise it. But eventually they will, because like in the case of Germany, ruled by Hitler, the monster will rise and try to consume everything alive around him. Ignoring the small issues – is repeating the scenario, which caused wars.
I’ve never considered Russians as our enemies before, but now i’m saying – they are our enemies. We might not be in best place, but Ukraine is not Russia, i’ve seen people fighting for their freedom as it was their life. And some of them did put their lives for that. We will never forget that.