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Archive for March, 2011

Carnival in Mazatlan – The Return of the Muses

After shaking off all that confetti and getting an ash cross on our forehead, it’s time to share the on-the-ground experience of Dancing Chef Maaike. One of the world-famous Carnivals, after Rio de Janeiro and Venice, Mazatlan hosted a 5-day party all around town. This year’s theme was called ‘the return of the muses’, showing four mermaids: Artida from the Actic, Meridia from the African oceans, Ocasia from the Western seas and Levantia from Persia who inspires people to celebrate!

It started on Thursday March 3rd with the coronation of the King of Carnival, also known as the Ugly King (‘El rey feo’). Friday featured the coronation of the Floral Queen (‘reina de los juegos florales’). The Floral Queen is the first runner-up at the election of a dozen candidates. This year the concert for the Floral Queen was a tribute to the Beattles and Queen, combining a live rock band, the Sinaloa symphonic orchestra, Delfos contemporary dance and the local Angela Peralta opera choir of over 80 members. It was a vibrant concert of colour, sounds and movement with many sing-a-longs, like ‘We will rock you’ where everybody stood up and stomped and clapped to the beat.


On Saturday was the Coronation of the Queen of Carnival with a concert of David Bisbal, a famous Spanish singer. After the concert the newly crowned Queen was brought to down-town Olas Altas beach, to start the Naval Combat (‘Combate Naval’) which is a 30-minutes fireworks show on the 2 sides of the Olas Altas beach.

Sunday afternoon was the start of the first Parade: take a look at the pictures to see the highlights! Between each float there was a troop of colourfully dressed dancers. It was a wonderful family experience which gathered over 35.000 spectators.

The Infant Queen (‘la reina infantil’) was crowned on Monday with the nationally-known band OV7. All the under-18 population was at the concert, followed with a special small parade at Malécon. Tuesday March 8th was the last day of Carnival, with another Parade towards the historic centre.


After all that partying it was time to get back to work and school, since everything gets suspended during Carnival. It was a great time of celebration and joy with the whole family at the Gem of the Mexican Pacific: Mazatlan!!!


Greetings from Dancing Chef Maaike! Olé!!!



There is so much going on around me, so many people and places and different customs, signs I can’t read, I go to places only to find out I shouldn’t be there.

Living in Mexico has its challenges but nowadays its funny to hear myself at the bank or grocery store and in perfect Spanish ask for something while the clerk answers in English or asks for assistance.I encourage their willingness.

Some people are afraid to speak Spanish or even try to understand when someone converses with them.

When I need to call a hotel or a Mexican friend  I usually find that I am speaking much louder on the telephone.

maybe I think they will understand better. They don’t!

Either way communication is probably the single most problematic issue for those living in a foreign country.

I have friends that have actually lived in Mexico for years and still don’t speak the language, then when they call and get flustered or feel taken advantage of I wonder to myself why don’t they just learn to communicate , then they wouldn’t feel so out of sorts.

The problem I see with communication is that people are afraid to use the right or wrong word.

For many years when I introduced someone, I used the word introducir, which I thought in Spanish meant introduce. Not so. The proper word is present( presentar) the other word actually insinuates, well , lets just say ,don’t use it lol.

I admit I use the same word for many things, this, that, those, they are all one word for me, and I am wrong all the time. But I do a lot of pointing and laughing and everyone seems to understand me,because joy is universal.

Forget the traffic signs , no one reads them or follows them anyway and as far as bill boards, you only have to know the difference between banks and beers and condoms to understand what they are selling.

I think the best remedy for poor communication is laughter. When someone knows your trying, people are usually happy to help.

So throw your frustrations out the window, put-on a smile and try today to communicate with those around you in a new and loving hand waving way.

Express and connect with a joyful eye and people will exchange with a wink of approval everytime.

Ole- Leonique

Lela lends a hand this month to Christchurch, NZ

In the wake of the devastating earthquake which rocked New Zealand’s second largest city, Christchurch is left with the painstaking task of rebuilding a city which was hit hard by the 6.3 earthquake on Tues, 22 Feb, 2011.

Images and video footage of the earthquake bring back memories of the Chilean earthquake, with people looking around, not knowing who to turn to or what to do.

Having lived in New Zealand for a total of three years, it pained me to see the distress this earthquake has caused.  Less than six months prior, the same city suffered from another earthquake and the town was only just beginning to rebuild itself and its confidence.

I spent time further south in a city called Dunedin, a gorgeous city, filled with beautiful views, kind people and a port which invites anyone and everyone to visit the charming town.  I had been there with my then boyfriend, a New Zealander who had moved to Melbourne for new opportunities.  We met, fell in love and it was time to meet his family.  When we decided to move to Dunedin, we had left everything behind to start a new life.  I had already left home and had also moved to Sydney.  My life of adventure was well on its way!  Looking for work was easy, I had plenty of hospitality experience, so I joined the team at ‘The Reef Seafood Restaurant’ where I was the supervisor.  I grew to love Dunedin.  It’s people, it’s streets and even it’s weather (picture Seattle rain and its skies times 10!!).

Well, jump forward a good 13-14 years and that relationship did not work out, although we still stay in touch.  I had taken several trips to Christchurch.  I am a secret wine buff (oops, secret’s out!) so I enjoyed taking road trips to wineries in and around the Christchurch area.  Many of you have probably even tried some of the wines!!

As you can see from the map, there are many wine regions in New Zealand and Christchurch is a popular one in Canterbury.

I still get online and look for photos and video of the earthquake, as I find it hard to believe that many of the places that I have been through are destroyed.  Reports indicate that aftershocks are still disrupting many parts of the city, delaying the return of up to 1/3 of its residents.

LELA has chosen Christchurch as her cause for the month of March, and we will be donating 100% of her donations to the Red Cross in Christchurch, as we know they have feet on the ground over there.  We’d like to thank all donors as this cause holds a special place in my heart.

For those who are lucky enough to ever get to New Zealand, you’ll get to enjoy the beauty of its people, its food, its cities and its wine, because anyone who goes to New Zealand and DOESN’T try a glass of Sauvignon Blanc should be locked up!  😉

I’d also like to send all our hopes and prayers to victims of the Japan earthquake.  We are working towards making Lela in April for Japan, but as our planet cries out for help, we cross our fingers that no more earthquakes shake our world and leave others in need.

Sending our love,

Pamela and all the Dancing Chefs