Palmaïa The House of Aïa – Review

I have been to Mexico many times. To be honest I don’t remember if this was my 5th, 6th, or even 7th time, but this is my first time visiting as a vegan. I will preface this review by saying that if you are looking for a budget-friendly vacation, this location is not for you. Palmaïa is a plant-based, luxury, wellness resort. And it is very much a vibe.

This resort is newer and tucked away in a more private area than I’ve been to before. (I’m pretty sure the bus driver had never been there because he had to ask for directions. ) When we finally arrived at Palmaïa, we were greeted with a refreshing glass of chilled, hibiscus tea. The front desk and lobby were beautiful.

Lobby

If you have ever been to an all-inclusive resort, you know that it is standard to receive a wristband upon checking in. What immediately set apart Palmaïa, is that instead of a plastic or a sticky paper wristband, they give you a bracelet with a chip inside that doubles as your room key. (I found the bracelet to be quite fashionable, and also really convenient as it was removable for showering and meant I didn’t have to worry about carrying around or losing a room key.)

Room-key bracelet

After slipping into our bracelets, we were whisked away in a golf cart to our suite. The grounds are sprawling and you can tell they went to great lengths to preserve as much natural flora and fauna as possible. It is definitely the most beautiful resort I’ve been to.

We were greeted at our suite by our Nomadic Guide. For our entire stay, if we ever had a question, wanted to make or change a dinner reservation, or needed help with anything; we had a personal concierge to assist us. (She had me connect to the resort Wi-Fi and download WhatsApp so that we could interact with concierge service anywhere on the grounds.) I didn’t anticipate this service, but I’d say it was a necessity because some of the restaurants were far away and we often needed to request a lift to/from dinner.

A short video tour of our suite

The room was clean, spacious, and gorgeous with an enormous soaking tub and two sinks. (If I’m being nitpicky, the tub was too close to the bed.) There was also a rain shower, which again if I’m being picky, had terrible water pressure. I didn’t sleep well the first night because the mattress was firmer than I’m used to, but I got used to it.

The food at Palmaïa was fantastic. There were 4 restaurants and a food truck, all of which are predominantly plant-based. And this was the sole reason we decided to visit this resort. There were no buffets; every meal was a fine dining experience. Even the food truck had a server who brought you food after you ordered and checked on you regularly to see if you wanted or needed anything.

Food Truck- Chorizo Tacos
Food Truck- Nachos

The main restaurant was Su Casa which was open for breakfast and lunch every day, and some nights for dinner.

Su Casa Dinner Menu
Smoked Mushrooms
Ancestral Grain Salad
Carpaccio
Baked Sweet Potato
Su Casa Breakfast Menu
Eggs Benedict
French Toast
Chilaquiles
Ume Dinner Menu
Ramen (I know that looks like a real egg, but it isn’t!)
Pad Thai
Sushi
Yakimeshi Herushi
Lek Dinner Menu
Pozole
Stuffed Poblano
Plantain Empanadas
Mar de Olivo Dinner Menu
I’m honestly still thinking about how amazing this French Onion soup was.
Capresse Salad
Tagine
Cappelletti (I know this looks weird but it tasted good)
Tiramisu
We also had lots of divine cocktails.

The seaweed was plentiful and the waves were high, so we didn’t spend a lot of time in the ocean.

There were lots of cabanas and every so often, someone would come ask if we needed a new drink.
There weren’t a lot of guests and I assume that is why the pool bar was never open while we were there. We were often the only people in the pool.
One of the many spectacular views
We saw several iguanas wandering around.
And birds!

Aside from the food and general ambiance, Palmaïa had daily activities just like most resorts. But instead of pool aerobics, there was yoga. And instead of a disco, they had a ritual dance class in the afternoon. We took a drawing class one day and a watercolor class the next. (Our nomadic guide also encouraged us to try the Gong Bath, which wasn’t my cup of tea although I was super excited to try it.)

Overall we had a pleasant stay and enjoyed the chill vibe. Although not an exclusively Adults-Only resort, we saw very few children. And because it’s a higher-end resort, you’re unlikely to see any spring breakers there. So if you’re looking for a low-key experience with delicious plant-based cuisine, I’d highly recommend you visit.

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Asking For It

From very early on, women are taught that they need to be hyper-vigilant at all times and to be “safe” when they go out. This ranges anywhere from wearing modest clothing so you don’t attract predators, to carrying your keys like a weapon when you walk to your car so you can fight off a potential attacker.

First, let’s talk about the theory that the way you dress makes you more of a target for sexual assault. Rape literally has nothing to do with fashion. Rape has existed since the dawn of man; it’s even referenced in the Bible. They didn’t have indoor plumbing, proper hygiene, or mini skirts back then, but they did have rape. Let’s also keep in mind that it’s not just adult women who are raped. Men are victims of rape. Children are victims of rape. Women have been raped while wearing a burqa. Because rape isn’t about sex or desire; it’s about power.

Next, I’d like to know why the burden of “safety” is on victims? We are expected to live our lives as though we are constantly at risk of being assaulted or raped.  If you do something as innocuous as walking to your car alone at night; you are somehow at fault for being attacked.  Whether it is a Tuesday evening in December (when it gets dark at 5pm) and you were just leaving work, or 1am on a Saturday night; it makes no difference. What’s interesting is that you don’t often hear anyone blame victims in other crimes this way.  Imagine placing blame on a victim for “getting themselves murdered.”

Rape culture is the idea that rape can somehow be prevented by victims.

“If he/she hadn’t been out all night drinking…”

“Did you see what she was wearing?”

“She said no, but she didn’t really fight back at all; she just laid there.”

“You can’t go traveling alone as a woman!”

“Men can’t be raped; it’s not physically possible.”

“He/she didn’t tell anyone right away; they must be lying.”

These are just a few examples of how rape culture is perpetuated by the masses.  It can be hard to change the mind of a stranger, but sometimes you have the opportunity to change the mind of people you actually know.  A Facebook friend of mine recently commented on a post about rape and had the audacity to suggest that women need to “dress like a treasure” and always walk with their keys in their hand to be used as a weapon.  This wasn’t some anonymous person; this is someone I have known for years.  I felt compelled to respond and point out the flaws in her logic.  If an average sized man were to approach her, even if she has her keys ready; there’s no way she could defend herself.  She’s under 5 feet tall, and also 8 months pregnant. I think if that situation were to actually arise; she would be so terrified and scared for her life and the life of her child that she would not fight back at all.  That would be an appropriate response to that situation for a lot of people; and it would not be her fault. The fault will always lie with the perpetrator.

Five Fashion Trends That Can Stay in 2018

As this year comes to a close, I bid farewell to some of fashion’s most recent tragedies and I hope to never see them again.

1. Giant Bell Sleeves

They’re just kind of silly to look at in real life. I feel like this was something that should have stayed on the runway.

2. Rounded-Hem Tops

This is a trend that I particularly despise. So many times I’ve tried on a top, only to discover it has this extra fabric hanging off my belly like a weird, stretched out apron. Gross.

3. Drop Sleeves

I feel like this was some kind of sewing error that somehow spread like wildfire. It’s particularly unflattering for plus size women who may have thicker arms.

4. Choker Necklaces

As fun as it was to embrace my 90’s childhood love of chokers; it’s time for them to be retired once again.

5. Wide-Leg Pants

Also known as “Maxi Pants” (gross).

2018 gave us a kind of 90’s resurgence with chokers, midriff-baring tops, and high-waisted jeans. In 2019 I’d love to see more of a 70’s vibe. 🙏🏻

The Gold Standard

It’s only been in the past 5 years that I’ve gotten interested in the makeup and beauty industry. Maybe it was the surge of beauty bloggers on YouTube and Instagram or the selfie-obsessed culture we now live in.  I was in my mid-twenties when I started buying makeup, so instead of experimenting with drug store brands and moving up to mid-high end products as I got older; I started at the top.  Most beauty products I’ve tried have not held up to the hype.  I wasn’t terribly impressed by the Urban Decay Naked eyeshadow palettes or Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara.  But one notable exception has been Farsali’s Rose Gold Elixir.  If you’re not familiar; it’s a “24k gold infused beauty oil” that you put on your face.  (That description is straight from Sephora’s website.)  It is a higher-end product which comes with a higher-end price tag.  This 30mL (or 1 ounce) bottle will run you $54.

Rose Gold Elixir is essentially just a serum for your face.  I would put it more in the skin care column than anything else. It’s purpose is to enhance your skin with or without makeup.  Skin care is even newer to me than makeup.  (I’m 30 and only started moisturizing my face regularly in the last year.) So when I learned of this product, I bought it and was pleasantly surprised by how much it improved my skin.  But even more than that, I loved to use it as a primer for makeup.  I was finally able to achieve that dewy glowing look.  (I should note that I have rosacea and that my skin is combination; simultaneously dry and oily which defies logic.)  As much as I loved the product, I did not love the price which prompted me to search for an alternative.

I know it’s common to believe that you “get what you pay for” in terms of quality, but I’ve found that in the world of beauty and makeup that is not always the case.  One of my favorite beauty lines is Milani; a drug store brand.  Nearly all of the products I’ve tried from Milani were high in quality and low in price when compared to higher end brands you’d find at department stores or Sephora.  So it should have come as no surprise that the closest dupe I’ve found for Farsali’s Rose Gold Elixir is Milani’s Prep and Brighten Rose Face Oil. The same size bottle (1oz or 30mL) will set you back only $13.99.

There are definitely differences between the 2 serums that should be noted.  Farsali’s serum did seem thicker and gave me more of a noticeable glow.  It also has rosehip oil.  One negative thing I noticed with Farsali is that it would often irritate my eyes as the day progressed.  (Possibly from my eyes watering, yawning, or rubbing my eyes at some point that may have caused contact.) I haven’t experienced any of the same irritation with the Milani serum, but I will say that although my skin has improved with its use and I love it as a primer for foundation; I haven’t seen the same glow or dewy look that I’ve experienced with Farsali.

I want to give an honorable mention to another product that I tried briefly between the Farsali and Milani serums; Pixi Skintreats Hydrating Milky Serum.  While I did like this product as a primer for foundation, I felt like it dried down very quickly compared to the other serums and didn’t necessarily absorb into my skin or improve my skin at all. When I used it as part of a skincare regimen at night, I noticed it turned my face very red and would sometimes cause irritation or burning.  (If you recall, I have rosacea, so my face already is naturally red and prone to irritation.) The same size bottle as the other serums was $24.

All in all, Milani is a great substitute for Farsali, especially for budget-conscious shoppers like myself.  And also for anyone who has rosacea and looking for products that will play nicely with your skin.

My Body, My Weight – A Journey

I have struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember.  I was a normal weight for most of my childhood, even called too skinny at times, but around age 12 my body started to fill out.  I blame puberty to a certain degree for affecting my hormones/mood/cravings, but I know that I wasn’t very active at that age. I stayed indoors mostly (my love affair with books started around this time- thanks to V.C. Andrews and J.K. Rowling), I drank a lot of soda and I was a picky eater who preferred junk food. When I had to enroll for my first year of high school, I remember dreading the line for the room with the nurse.  It was just a room with a scale and a lady with a clipboard but I felt dread as I walked into that room to be weighed.

I remember my mom once had me stand next to my older sister and put my arm out next to hers.  She wanted me to know that my arm was bigger than my sister’s arm, and that it was a problem. It wasn’t long after this that I went on a diet for the first time. My mom encouraged me to do The South Beach Diet with her. I would continue to struggle through my teenage years to lose weight.

The summer after I turned 15, we got a trampoline. I would jump on it for hours every day, and it was around this time I first started to withhold food. I had watched a Lifetime movie about anorexia and instead of having the intended consequence of scaring me, it inspired me to start restricting. It was the first time that I would lose a significant amount of weight and experience the high of receiving praise about my appearance. When I showed up for the first day of school Sophomore year, a lot of people noticed the changes in my body. I remember how great it felt when someone would compliment me on my weight loss.  I craved that approval and it fed my desire to keep trying new ways of losing weight.    The next year, I got mono and lost even more weight. (My recovery diet consisted of a protein shakes, white rice, steamed broccoli, and chicken breasts every day for months.) Every time I lost weight, I would receive more compliments, validation, and praise. Even when my weight loss was due to a long, excruciating illness.

By my senior year of high school I was waking up at 5am to workout at the YMCA before school. In college I started joining group exercise classes, like Step Aerobics and eventually fell in love with Zumba. I tried everything to lose weight and was never satisfied with my body. I remember one time that I had starved myself for 2 days and being embarrassed by the loud, cavernous screams of my empty stomach in the middle of class.  (I would eventually binge and then feel horrible about myself afterwards.)  I have made myself throw up, I’ve taken laxatives, used drugs, and exercised compulsively to shed pounds. When I was 19, my good friend (who had also struggled with her weight) started taking Adderall.  I was amazed by her weight loss and bought some pills from her to try for myself.  Adderall was awesome;  I was never hungry and I had crazy amounts of energy to work out. I got down to 159 pounds, which is the lowest of my adult life, but it didn’t come without consequences.  One night I laid in bed for what felt like hours, feeling like my heart was going to explode out of my chest.  It scared me so badly that I stopped taking the pills and went back to restricting, binging, purging, and compulsively exercising.

I married my high school sweetheart when I was 20 and I quickly adopted the diet of my twenty-something husband.  (A 5’5 woman can’t eat the same portions as a 6’4 male without gaining weight.  I understand that now.) I gained 50 pounds in 1.5 years.  My marriage was not working, I was isolated and depressed. Living hundreds of miles from my friends and family; I often turned to food to comfort me. Around this time I was also diagnosed with hypothyroidism and although I began taking medication and had regained normal TSH levels; I never lost any of that weight. My husband would make comments about my weight, he would hide food from me (like candy and snack cakes), and it was painfully clear that he was no longer attracted to me. (We separated and eventually divorced.)

From 2012 to 2019 I was hyper-fixated on my weight and advancements in technology fueled my obsession. I compulsively counted calories in MyFitnessPal, eating only things that I could easily identify calorie counts for (mostly pre-packaged garbage like Lean Cuisines and Fiber One Brownies.) I was an early-adopter of fitness bracelets, often going for walks late into the night to make sure I hit my daily step goal. It was an endless cycle of restricting and binging. Later I did the keto diet, which helped me lose weight rapidly enough to slim down for my second wedding, only to gain it all back within 2 years. (The only positive thing about keto for me was the weight loss, everything else was negative. It isn’t remotely sustainable and I felt like garbage 99% of the time. My skin was dry, I had constant headaches, GI issues, and zero energy. I think it may have done permanent damage to my metabolism and maybe even my endocrine system. I lived for cheat days and counted down to the next time I could eat bread. 0 stars, do not recommend, do not try at home.)

I have spent my entire adult life, and most of my adolescence, dieting. I was never concerned about being healthy, I was only focused on the number on the scale and how to make sure it was getting lower. My self worth has long been dictated by those 3 numbers and it is exhausting.

By the beginning of 2022, I was determined to adopt a healthier lifestyle and have a better relationship with my body. But there is a lot of conflicting information about what is “healthy” and what is the “best” diet. The consensus from what I have read and gathered from reputable sources is to eat more plants and less processed food. The more I learned about nutrition, the more I leaned towards eating whole-foods/plants. And the more I learned about factory farming, the more I turned away from animal-derived foods. I quit meat “cold-turkey” and never looked back. I consistently saw studies about dairy, lactose intolerance, and cancer which prompted me to consider giving that up as well. I never though that I was lactose intolerant, but after I stopped eating dairy I noticed a shift. My energy was noticeably higher and the bloated feeling in my stomach that I had come to think was normal; vanished. (I would eventually go down the rabbit hole and recognize the dairy industry for the evil machine that it is.)

As it would turn out, my foray into plant-based eating would coincide with the Great Covid-Quarantine of 2020. Meat prices were skyrocketing and plant-based foods saw record sales. I was making whole-food plant-based recipes at home and falling in love with new foods like tofu. Being a plant-based eater definitely impacted my relationship with food in a positive way. I was eating more food (by volume) but these foods were less calorie-dense so I was losing weight with very little effort and it felt like a revelation. For a while, I felt like I had finally conquered my disordered eating.

But becoming a vegan is not the happy ending to this story, nor is it a magic pill. I would go on to suffer a major depression while battling chronic pain and struggle with my weight again. The surge of new vegan restaurants and options at the grocery store would be both a blessing and a curse for me.

My advice for myself (and to anyone in the same boat) is to be more focused on how you feel rather than how you look. Try not to get hung up on numbers, whether they are on the scale or on the tag of your pants.  I am working on recognizing whether I am eating out of hunger or emotion and recognizing how my body feels when I eat certain things. Having a supportive, encouraging partner who loves me unconditionally has also helped me tremendously.  He has never and would never say anything negative about my weight/appearance or try to degrade me like other loved ones in my past.  But healing my relationship with food/my body is ultimately something only I can do and it may be something that I have to work on for the rest of my life. Be gentle with yourself and know that you are not alone.

Wedding Planning

I have one quick tip for any ladies out there who are recently engaged and haven’t begun to do any planning yet: Make a new email address just for wedding stuff.

The amount of junk email I have gotten from David’s Bridal alone was annoying.  I wish someone had encouraged me to make a wedding email address before I started this process.  I unsubscribe as much as possible, but the emails just keep coming.

And they got way out of control when I went to a wedding fair.  I got put on all kinds of different subscription lists.

And one thing I want to rant about is trying to create a wedding website.  Wedding Wire is supposedly the best free wedding website maker, but after spending the last 3 hours trying to customize my (very basic) website I feel like pulling my hair out. Their site is not user-friendly AT ALL.  If I hadn’t already included the url on my save-the-dates I would scrap the idea entirely. Wedding Wire, why do you suck so much? Why??!  You have put unnecessary stress on me that I don’t need while trying to plan my wedding.  I’m not an idiot, I have a basic understanding of computers.  I was able to use and customize this blog right here on WordPress without any hiccups.

What I’d recommend to people out there is to make a free wordpress site for their wedding instead.