MONTHLY UPDATE…WHY I HATE TULUM, VIKING HALLOWEEN PARTY, FAMILY REUNION FESTIVAL, + MASTERMIND WEDDING
Welcome! Cameron and I are so excited you’re here. This is where you get the almost real-time, low-down/BTS, + uncensored opinions on all the places we visit.
This edition of the Monthly Update includes…🤯
- Our honest opinion of Merida, Mexico
- Why I absolutely HATE Tulum!
- Dressing up like Vikings in Utah
- Dancing the night away at the Family Reunion Festival
- Attending a 4-day Wedding/Mastermind called Love Amplifier
- Celebrating Thanksgiving with my family in Arizona
WHERE ARE ASHLEY + CAMERON?!
OCTOBER 9TH – 26TH | MERIDA + TULUM, MEXICO
Going from Arizona to Mexico was a little bit of a b*tch slap if I’m honest. First world > third world always does that to me. There’s always an adjustment period, because Americans [aka me] are spoiled [not in a bad way] with exceptional infrastructure, cleanliness, technology, efficiency, convenience, + instant gratification.
First off, I love me some Mexico but unfortunately this trip didn’t leave me relaxed or sun kissed. In all fairness, recovering from a procedure + visiting at the tail end of summer [massive full-body swass] didn’t help our cause. But, I had really high hopes for Merida, because all the photos I had seen had beautiful splashes of color as far as the eye could see. Ummm…not exactly. We found 1, max 2 colorful streets of single story buildings near Centro Historico [where we stayed]. The rest of it was very run down, colorless, + zero sites or sights to see or visit [except for Cathedral Square]. I’ll give it to them though…they’re definitely investing in the entire area though, because we noticed newly installed benches [not even unwrapped yet], lots of yummy restaurants, + heard about the plan to build a tram. A few other things to note…one not so great + the other two very great…it’s a lil warmer than Tulum [yuck], very safe [yay!], + the restaurant scene is on POINT [drool]!
If I’m honest, I was even more excited about my Airbnb find. I thought for sure it was going to rank in my Top 5 finds. Not so fast. Brand-new renovation + the pictures were GORGEOUS! One problem…it was the only renovated place on the entire block. And, when I say brand-new renovation I mean the water wasn’t hooked up to the washer or dishwasher, the dryer wasn’t plugged in, the water pressure was low, + the hot water heater wasn’t working for over a week. The worst part, it alternated between indoor + outdoor spaces, 3 outdoor + 3 indoor, [while it was still boiling hot], + the doors either slid shut, wouldn’t stay shut, or had to be slammed shut due to the wood warping. It was the equivalent of an Instagram house. Pretty with zero function.
We learned the hard way that it’s better to stay in the Northside. One night, we drove up there for a dinner reservation and saw the stark contrast. It was way more modern + manicured. Just the way we like it. I’m assuming our experience would’ve been very different had we stayed up there. So, a helpful travel tip, look for hotels/Airbnbs on the Northside of town instead of around Centro Historico.
Generally speaking, it’s always a pretty safe bet to stay in/near Centro Historico without having to research it ahead of time. It’s usually where all the action is along with the noteworthy buildings + museums. This is the second time in 23 months of traveling where it ended up being a complete bust. Santiago, Chile was our first bust. So run down + dirty. Watch our experience in Santiago here.
After our time in Merida, we stopped by Chichen Itza [Wonder of the World] on our way to Tulum. Chichen Itza was cool, but it’s VERY TOURISTY + expensive for what it is, especially if you’ve visited ruins in other countries. We’re glad we checked another Wonder of the World off the list though.
As for Tulum…it started alright + kept declining from there. I’ve been there twice now, so I have a well formed opinion of the place. Let’s start with the good parts first. Two of our favorite friends, Adrian + Andrea, just finished building their new home and it’s freaking GORGEOUS! Secondly, the white sand beach, after you find a place to access it, is BREATHTAKING. Thirdly, the fashion. Muah! 85% of my wardrobe could be bought in Tulum, but be prepared for the Tulum Tax [aka huge markups]…it’s INSANE!
Okay…let’s talk about the bad + ugly parts now. This is what led me to absolutely HATE Tulum + decide to never return. Two disclaimers, I’ve been to over 50 cities in Mexico + think Mexico’s a hidden gem that’s gotten a bad rep [yes, there’s danger but not like the media portrays it], + I don’t take a harsh stance on a place like this very often [only other one is probably Cairo, Egypt], so let me explain. First, Tulum is basically Burning Man on the beach where people justify doing drugs all day long + claim it’s medicinal or ceremonial. It isn’t. They should just own the fact that they want to do drugs, knock back a few adult libations, lose all sense of time + space, dance to amazing music, take a dip in the ocean, + connect/play with their friends. Zero judgment. But, stop pretending it’s something deeper + super introspective. Tulum is not the setting to do that in. I’m sure there are places there but it’s certainly not on the beach. Second, you’re basically paying first world prices for third world quality everything [infrastructure, water, sewage, wifi, waste management, roads, customer service, etc.] except for some fancy restaurants + hotels. Third, the main road/strip is a joke + lights me up with anxiety whenever we’re on it regardless of high season or not. Fourth, we’ve experienced a massive fire each time we’ve been there. The first one was a pop-up shop full of merchants across the street from a nice restaurant we were dining at. It went up in flames + since there’s only one road we were stranded on the other side of our hotel until 2AM. When it let up, it was impossible to get a taxi so we ended up walking 3+ miles back to our place in very uncomfortable shoes. We’ve since found out that there’s a rumor the narcos did it, since the vendors didn’t pay up. Fifth, every taxi driver charges at least $20 USD to drop you less than a mile away. Sixth, we’ve encountered countless Google Maps inaccuracies [businesses not being open during business hours, businesses saying they’re open but are completely closed down, + dealing with completely inaccurate directions due to the constant new construction…and, these aren’t baby detours either, you have to figure out how to get there yourself with a bunch of one-way streets + cops ready to pull you over for going the wrong way]. Lastly, everything is super inefficient, harder than it needs to be, + every restaurant/club wants a minimum spend and nickels + dimes you for every little thing.
These last two incidents are the straw that broke the motherfuckin camel’s back for me. There are massive corruption + safety issues in Tulum. During our first visit, we accidentally biked down a private road to get to the main strip. Not only did one of the bikes have a broken chain, but we were shaken down by a guy at the start of the road [it wasn’t easy to go back since the bike was broken]. We paid him. Then, when we arrived at the end of the road there was a wooden gate/wall separating us from the main strip guarded by another man. This man tried to shake us down a second time. Cameron told him we paid the other guy + refused to pay again. The guy finally opened the gate + as soon as Cameron got through he tried to shut it and trap me inside. Super scary + not cool. Thankfully, Cameron caught the gate before it closed + wedged himself + the bike between the gate which prevented him from closing it. Who knows what would’ve happened if I got stuck in there? I definitely didn’t want to find out. And, the gate/wall was super tall + completely solid. Zero openings. Sketchy AF.
And, this last time, on Cameron’s actual birthday, our rental car was towed on some bogus charge that all cars need to be 30 feet [that’s a HUGE distance] from every intersection. This sent us on a wild goose chase to the police station, back to the rental car company for the contract, paying a fine, 6 different taxi cab fares, driving 20 minutes to the impound lot only to realize the cop didn’t give us the key to the car, + paying a crazy amount to have the car released from the impound lot. Oh…and it was sweltering hot. No gracias. You could tell it was standard, because there was a line of tourists at each location paying to get their car back. Clearly a cash cow but doesn’t leave a good taste in tourists’ mouths.
This is why Tulum has reserved the number one spot on my brand-new Places I Hate List. Cameron doesn’t feel as strongly as I do, because he’s much better at letting things go, but Tulum has personally exceeded my threshold for BS.
If you’ve been to Tulum, how do you feel about it? I’m curious. Comment below.
OCTOBER 27TH – 30TH | HUNTSVILLE, UTAH
We don’t dress up often for Halloween…but when we do…we dress like VIKINGS! Our friends in Huntsville, Utah [Powder Mountain] know how to throw one hell of a Halloween party. Well, any type of party for that matter, but we tend to swing through on Halloween. Everyone was dressed in custom Viking gear, hair braids, + savage makeup. We danced our butts off to three different DJs + got to connect with some of our favorite humans. As of right now, we’re planning on spending one month in Huntsville, Utah in 2025.
NOVEMBER 1ST – 13TH | AUSTIN, TEXAS
Next, we landed in Austin for 2.5 weeks to watch two of our favorite people tie the knot. And, as luck would have it…another good friend was hosting his 6th Family Reunion Festival the first weekend we were there. SCORE! I love when the Universe serves up one delicious event after another.
Logistically, this was a nightmare. It took months of planning to get everything where we needed it in time. Multiple shipments, + I had to have it all sorted out before I left Arizona for Mexico. Trust me, I love logistics, but this one took the cake. Coupled with two different procedures, different meds, recovery gear, + it was a real logistics par-tay! Thankfully, I persevered + am still alive to tell the tale. Phew!
Family Reunion Festival…MIND BLOWN! Like better than Burning Man in many ways. It was on a property in the middle of nowhere 45 minutes outside of downtown Austin. The volunteers + community of ~90 people created this lil slice of festival heaven for us to play + showcase the group’s talents. Our friend, Karl, holds the vision for these sacred gatherings + hand selects every person that attends. He intentionally caps it at 90, so everyone gets a chance to connect. Any larger + it gets too chaotic + loses the intimacy. The container he created for us was pure magic.
Words really can’t describe it, so it’s better to see it for yourself in this Insta highlight. AFTER you finish reading the rest of the update, of course.
Next, we immersed ourselves in a 4-day love fest, known as the Love Amplifier. Leave it to our friends, Jenn + Alex, to turn their wedding weekend into a hybrid mastermind where they prioritized the guests, cracked us wide open with feminine + masculine workshops, and left us more grounded + centered than when we arrived.
They kicked it off with an Aya Ceremony…kidding a White Party. The bride’s joke, not mine. The next day, we participated in a series of workshops including intentional movement, their signature Vision Amplifier [breathwork + DJ + Vision], tapped into our divine feminine while the men tapped into their divine masculine, held space for Jenn + Alex to step into King + Queen. The third day, we watched + listened to them share the most potent + powerful vows with one another at a beautiful ranch an hour outside of Austin. Then, we danced the night away as each groomsman took their turn on the DJ decks, including the groom himself. And, the fourth day they had a Recovery + BBQ day back at the ranch, but we decided to lay low + finish packing everything for our trip to Arizona.
Originally, we weren’t going to attend the wedding, but after doing a journey with both Jenn + Alex in March 2023, I received an immediate download to change our travel calendar in order to make it happen. And, we’re so glad we did. It was an honor to witness these two amazing humans commit their lives to one another as husband and wife.
NOVEMBER 13TH – 29TH | SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA
After Austin, we landed back in Arizona for appointments, restocking supplies, celebrating Thanksgiving with my family, connecting with friends, + Cameron visiting his boys in Vancouver. As always, it’s never a dull moment when I’m in Arizona.
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we’d like to take a second to express some gratitude. We’re so thankful for each and everyone of you. Thank you, thank you, thank you for letting us share one of the best years of our lives with you. These monthly updates are my [since I write them] fave thing to create, so it means the world to me personally.
In the next 4 weeks, we connect with some more peeps at the Genius Network Annual Event in Scottsdale, take off to Doha, Qatar [country 54 for me], + spend Christmas + New Years in Dubai. Woot woot! Fingers crossed we don’t run into any Airbnb snafus this time. But, even if we do, I can’t wait to tell you all about it! Because, I’ve made a promise to share it all without sugar coating it…the f*cking amazing, the good, the meh, the bad, + the downright ugly.
I sincerely hope you had the best Thanksgiving filled with so much love, laughter, yummy food, stretchy pants, + unforgettable memories with family, friends, and/or loved ones.
We’re beyond grateful for you + your unwavering support!
VIDEOS YOU’LL LOVE
Barbados…their sunset game is on POINT! They even give Arizona a run for their money.
7-day Catamaran in The Grenadines…take me back there now!
TRAVEL HACK OF THE MONTH
TIME ZONE MANAGEMENT
Let’s talk time zone management…minus pulling out your hair.
BIO HACK OF THE MONTH
This month, I’m sharing two of my favorite sleep secrets/hacks for waking up fresh as a daisy.
MACK’S WAX EARPLUGS
They take some getting used to, but let me tell you the adjustment period is well worth it. The short term pain is worth the long term gains. Promise.
Buy one on Amazon here.
This lil guy is ridiculously light + puts out more noise than its older + heavier sibling…the Dohm.
Buy one on Amazon here.
Next month, I’ll share my #1 sleep hack. It’s a controversial topic but has been a game changer in both of our overall sleep quality. And, we have the Oura Ring scores to prove it.
Keep spreading love, compassion, kindness, + joy in the world…we need it now more than ever.
Make the rest of 2023 count!
I love taking time to reflect on the year, make notes of cool experiences, trips, bucket list items, themes, lessons learned, + map out my goals for the upcoming year.
Any positive and/or constructive feedback is always welcome!
Happy Holidays to you, your family, + your loved ones.
I can’t wait to chat with you in 2024!