Category Archive for Mexico + Central America

IS IT DANGEROUS TO TRAVEL TO MAZATLAN, MEXICO? WATCH MY DAY OF THE DEAD VIDEO SERIES: SKULL ART, HAUNTED HOTELS.


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At long last… my Gothic Mexico video series is out, on Huffington Post! I’m so proud of these travel videos (kudos to my talented filmmakers, Melissa Rundle and Eric Bergemann).

Watch as I explore Day of the Dead, skull art, and a haunted hotel in Mazatlan. And will you do me a favor, to make me smile? Simply click the Like button below, thank you.

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Every year, Mexicans celebrate Day of the Dead to honor those who have passed and what sounds like a morbid holiday is quite the opposite. All of the imagery, from the skeleton facepaint to orange marigolds, conveys that “the dead can dance.”

I had the pleasure of celebrating Halloween and Dia de Los Muertos in the coastal town of Mazatlan. In this 3-part video series, I dive into Mexico’s dark arts and culture.

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Mazatlan is split into two districts. The luxury resorts are in the Golden Zone, while the Centro Historico holds art galleries and theaters from the 1800s.

I joined an art walk in the Historic District and was mesmerized by the temporary altars. These stands were decorated with real or paper marigolds, photos, favorite foods and belongings. Each had at least one sugar skull, with the name of the dead written on its forehead.

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Many of the stalls in Pino Suarez Market sold skull art. The iconic skeleton lady traces back to the Aztecs, who worshipped a god named “The Lady of the Dead”. In modern times, she is known as La Catrina.

Despite the dark themes, the visuals felt uplifting. The colors and active poses reflect the Mexican folk view that life and death are balancing forces.

There’s even a food for the occasion: Bread of the Dead. Sold in Panama Bakery, it’s airy and sweet, and has a cross-bone on top. Watch me taste it in the video here.

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In the second episode, I tip-toe around the supposedly haunted Hotel Belmar. During the Prohibition, Hollywood stars like Cary Grant came here to let loose. Sometimes, the revelry got out of hand: the Sinaloa Governor was murdered during a hotel ball. Guests have reported inexplicable noises, and visions of a woman in white. Do the ghosts of the past still walk these halls?

Check out the video to find out!

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Night falls, and the Day of the Dead parade begins. Locals gather in Old Mazatlan for the annual procession. They’re put on elegant costumes and painted their faces like skulls. With folk music and firecrackers, the dead have come back to life.

In the final video, I enter the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception, known as the most beautiful church in northwest Mexico. Finished in 1899, there are Gothic and Baroque influences throughout. Light shines through stained glass, forming an outerworldy glow. Locals come here to light a candle, and pray among the gold statues and carvings.

I also give a tour of my hotel, the Riu Emerald Bay. The all-inclusive luxury resort opened only two years ago. Each room has a balcony that overlooks the beach.

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I’d be amiss if I didn’t mention the recent tragedy: last January, Canadian tourist Sheila Nabb was severely beaten in the elevator of the Riu.

The attack renews warnings to be cautious when traveling in Sinaloa. However, my film crew and I never felt unsafe at the resort, which has staff members checking the wristbands of everyone who enters. We kept to the tourist areas and went out in groups, and felt perfectly safe the entire trip.

Many are now avoiding the region, and it’s unfortunate. My videos give a glimpse of the exhilaration I felt here – dancing with spooky stilt-walkers, speeding along the coastline in an open air taxi. With safety in mind, I hope travelers will return to Mazatlan and experience it for themselves.

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I hope you enjoy our work — we loved making these videos for you!

Please take a second to view/share them; just click here for the series. Mucho gracias, and more videos to come.

MAZATLAN ATTRACTIONS: HISTORICAL DISTRICT ARCHITECTURE. PINO SUAREZ MARKET, DAY OF THE DEAD MEXICAN ART & SKULLS.


Goths in hot weather, MAZATLAN tourism, centro historico, plaza machado, plaza mazatlan, old mazatlan houses, mexico tour ATTRACTIONS: HISTORICAL DISTRICT ARCHITECTURE. PINO SUAREZ MARKET, DAY OF THE DEAD MEXICAN ART & SKULLS, food market, souvenirs, mexico dolls, dia de los muertos, sugar skulls

Goths in hot weather, this post is for you! Apologies for the delay in my Mexico travel series. The videos will be up soon.

Here’s a preview of my Mazatlan escapades. In the Centro Historico, you’ll find spook-tacular Mexican handicrafts and architecture from the 1800s.

MAZATLAN tourism, centro historico, plaza machado, plaza mazatlan, old mazatlan houses, mexico tour ATTRACTIONS: HISTORICAL DISTRICT ARCHITECTURE. PINO SUAREZ MARKET, DAY OF THE DEAD MEXICAN ART & SKULLS, food market, souvenirs, mexico dolls, dia de los muertos, sugar skulls

The locals are all-around-the-board nice. Mazatlan is a visitor-friendly area, and you can get by with US dollars.

Dress: h.NAOTO, from Closet Child
Anchor socks: gifted from Sourpuss Clothing
Red purse: Nina Ricci, belonged to my mother until I took it. Here’s a new version of the purse.

MAZATLAN tourism, centro historico, plaza machado, plaza mazatlan, old mazatlan houses, mexico tour ATTRACTIONS: HISTORICAL DISTRICT ARCHITECTURE. PINO SUAREZ MARKET, DAY OF THE DEAD MEXICAN ART & SKULLS, food market, souvenirs, mexico dolls, dia de los muertos, sugar skulls

Rainbow dolls in Pino Suarez market. Can you spot the bloody pig’s head?

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Skulls and bones are everywhere in Mexican art.

MAZATLAN tourism, centro historico, plaza machado, plaza mazatlan, old mazatlan houses, mexico tour ATTRACTIONS: HISTORICAL DISTRICT ARCHITECTURE. PINO SUAREZ MARKET, DAY OF THE DEAD MEXICAN ART & SKULLS, food market, souvenirs, mexico dolls, dia de los muertos, sugar skulls

I talk about dark handicrafts and Catrinas (skeleton ladies).

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After a stupendous seafood lunch (marlin dip – amazing!), I staked out the haunted Hotel Belmar.

During the Prohibition, Hollywood stars like Cary Grant came here to let loose. Sometimes, the revelry got out of hand: the Sinaloa Governor was murdered during a hotel ball. Guests have reported inexplicable noises, and visions of a woman in white. Do the ghosts of the past still walk these halls?

MAZATLAN tourism, centro historico, plaza machado, plaza mazatlan, old mazatlan houses, mexico tour ATTRACTIONS: HISTORICAL DISTRICT ARCHITECTURE. PINO SUAREZ MARKET, DAY OF THE DEAD MEXICAN ART & SKULLS, food market, souvenirs, mexico dolls, dia de los muertos, sugar skulls

We walked around and admired the architecture. Colorful facades. Colonial-style arches. Hidden courtyards and plazas.

MAZATLAN tourism, centro historico, plaza machado, plaza mazatlan, old mazatlan houses, mexico tour ATTRACTIONS: HISTORICAL DISTRICT ARCHITECTURE. PINO SUAREZ MARKET, DAY OF THE DEAD MEXICAN ART & SKULLS, food market, souvenirs, mexico dolls, dia de los muertos, sugar skulls

Above two photos by Frank DiMarco, a fellow journalist on the press trip.

MAZATLAN tourism, centro historico, plaza machado, plaza mazatlan, old mazatlan houses, mexico tour ATTRACTIONS: HISTORICAL DISTRICT ARCHITECTURE. PINO SUAREZ MARKET, DAY OF THE DEAD MEXICAN ART & SKULLS, food market, souvenirs, mexico dolls, dia de los muertos, sugar skulls

Sunglasses: gifted from Erica Anenberg
Bracelets: gifted from Fashionology (crosses and skulls galore.)
Skull brooch with ribbon: gifted from BabyClay (check out their Etsy shop – you can request custom designs)
Dress: h.NAOTO, from Closet Child in Tokyo
Big floppy sunhat: from a street stall in Hong Kong

MAZATLAN tourism, centro historico, plaza machado, plaza mazatlan, old mazatlan houses, mexico tour ATTRACTIONS: HISTORICAL DISTRICT ARCHITECTURE. PINO SUAREZ MARKET, DAY OF THE DEAD MEXICAN ART & SKULLS, food market, souvenirs, mexico dolls, dia de los muertos, sugar skulls

See those two yellow spires? That’s the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception, known as the most beautiful church in northwest Mexico.

MAZATLAN tourism, centro historico, plaza machado, plaza mazatlan, old mazatlan houses, mexico tour ATTRACTIONS: HISTORICAL DISTRICT ARCHITECTURE. PINO SUAREZ MARKET, DAY OF THE DEAD MEXICAN ART & SKULLS, food market, souvenirs, mexico dolls, dia de los muertos, sugar skulls

The cathedral was finished in 1899, and you can see Gothic and Baroque influences throughout. Light shines through stained glass, forming an outerworldy glow. Locals come here to light a candle, and pray among the gold statues and carvings.

Have you ever been to Mexico? What do you love best about the food, culture and people? Let me know in the comments.

Also coming up: New York Fashion Week reports!

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2011 PART 2: TRAVEL TV HOSTING IN TOKYO, MY OWN VIDEO SERIES FOR HUFFINGTON POST AOL, PRESS TRIP TO MEXICO.


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Let’s continue our walk down memory lane, and review the second half of a spectacular 2011.

Sebastiano Serafini and I were guests at Luisaviaroma, an event that brings fashion’s most influential bloggers together. Events included tea with Mulberry, a grand dinner surrounded by animal bones, and haute couture photoshoots in the streets of Florence!

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It’s hard not to love Italy. The food, the people, the fashion and architecture… If you missed it, here are all my Europe posts.

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A few more milestones… I appeared in Bust Magazine, and on the cover of Alt Noir. I’m on another magazine cover in 2012; can’t wait to spill the beans.

Travel blogger La Carmina visits the spy-themed Safehouse in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. bondage beds,  spy-themed Safehouse, american Fashion bloggers, best blogs fashion style, top style blogger, leopard print dress, italian fashion, mod fashion, la carmina, lacarmina, real age and name, la carmina japanese, japan street style, press trips, travel tv host, travel journalist, tv presenter

Later that summer, a dream came true: I have a travel TV show on Huffington Post/AOL! In “Coolhunting Wisconsin,” I discover hip, weird, crazy attractions in and around Milwaukee — such as a spy-themed bar and retro love hotel. Watch the videos online.

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In July, I jetted back to Tokyo to host and arrange the Japan episode of Fuel TV / Discovery’s Strangers in Danger. The BMX stars got saline donuts in their heads, among other daring tasks. (Are you exhausted from my constant traveling yet?)

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The following month, the pretty-boy and I were Guests of Honor at Ani-Jam convention. It was fun to meet all of you who came. I also had a Hello Kitty birthday party at Hollywood club Mr Black, which was featured in LA Weekly.

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Back to Tokyo again, to host/arrange episodes of Food Network’s “World’s Weirdest Restaurants,” and appear on NHK Kawaii TV.

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I spent Halloween and Day of the Dead in Mazatlan, Mexico – hosting a series about the dark arts and culture. All my Mexican coverage is here, and videos are coming soon.

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I haven’t even mentioned the various stops in LA and Vancouver, and my impending return to Italy in January for Firenze4Ever blogger conference…

All in all, it’s been my best year yet! I’m happy with how my work and travels have grown, as well as improvements to the site (loading time, photo quality and styling, etc). And it’s only going to keep getting better. Yarrr.

What are your proudest accomplishments from the past year? Favorite memories? What did you learn, or experience for the first time?

Album of the Day: The Birthday Massacre – Pins and Needles

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DAY OF THE DEAD PARADE, ART & MAKEUP: DIA DE LOS MUERTOS, MEXICAN RITUAL. BREAD OF THE DEAD, CATRINA SKELETON.


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They call her La Catrina, or the elegant skull. She’s all bones, usually clad in a long robe and carrying a scythe. And this is her holiday: Day of the Dead.

On November 1st and 2nd, Mexicans honor those who have passed. But it’s not a gloomy holiday – quite the opposite. Day of the Dead is a vibrant celebration that shouts yes — the dead can dance.

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I had the pleasure of celebrating Dia de Los Muertos this year… in the historic district of Mazatlan, Mexico!

Horse cigar ring: gifted from Erica Anenberg
Dress: gifted from Sourpuss Clothing

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The ritual traces back to the Aztecs, who worshipped a god named ‘The Lady of the Dead’. In modern times, this ghoulish goddess is known as Catrina… And her image haunts every corner of Mazatlan.

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Night falls, and the darkest celebrations begin. Family members visit graveyards, sometimes camping out all night. They pray and share their favorite memories of the deceased.

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But I’m in the mood to dance. So I’m joining the Day of the Dead parade.

DAY OF THE DEAD PARADE, Día de Muertos, ART & MAKEUP: DIA DE LOS MUERTOS, MEXICAN CELEBRATION. BREAD OF THE DEAD, MAZATLAN MEXICO, SKELETON lady, catriona, la catrina, Mexico ritual honor dead, graveyards, altars, ofrendas, sugar skulls, cempasúchil, sugar skull art, calaveras, La Calavera de la Catrina, pan de muertos, skull crossbones decorated bread, day of the dead skull makeup, skeleton woman art statues

Locals gather in Old Mazatlan for the annual procession. They’re put on elegant costumes and painted their faces like skulls. With folk music and firecrackers, the dead have come back to life.

DAY OF THE DEAD PARADE, Día de Muertos, ART & MAKEUP: DIA DE LOS MUERTOS, MEXICAN CELEBRATION. BREAD OF THE DEAD, MAZATLAN MEXICO, SKELETON lady, catriona, la catrina, Mexico ritual honor dead, graveyards, altars, ofrendas, sugar skulls, cempasúchil, sugar skull art, calaveras, La Calavera de la Catrina, pan de muertos, skull crossbones decorated bread, day of the dead skull makeup, skeleton woman art statues

Lively, and slightly scary. (With my talented filmmaker, Melissa.)

DAY OF THE DEAD PARADE, Día de Muertos, ART & MAKEUP: DIA DE LOS MUERTOS, MEXICAN CELEBRATION. BREAD OF THE DEAD, MAZATLAN MEXICO, SKELETON lady, catriona, la catrina, Mexico ritual honor dead, graveyards, altars, ofrendas, sugar skulls, cempasúchil, sugar skull art, calaveras, La Calavera de la Catrina, pan de muertos, skull crossbones decorated bread, day of the dead skull makeup, skeleton woman art statues

I saw many colorful altars to remember the dead. They’re decorated with real or paper marigolds, photos, favorite meals and objects. And, of course, sugar skulls - which have the name of the dead written on the forehead.

bread of the dead, pan de muertos, skull crossbones decorated bread, mexican pastries, DAY OF THE DEAD PARADE, Día de Muertos, ART & MAKEUP: DIA DE LOS MUERTOS, MEXICAN CELEBRATION. BREAD OF THE DEAD, MAZATLAN MEXICO, SKELETON lady, catriona, la catrina, Mexico ritual honor dead, graveyards, altars, ofrendas, sugar skulls, cempasúchil, sugar skull art, calaveras, La Calavera de la Catrina,  day of the dead skull makeup, skeleton woman art statues

There’s even a special food for the occasion: Bread of the Dead! Sold in Panama Bakery, It’s airy and sweet, and has a cross-bone on top. Don’t worry – it’s safe for the living to eat.

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When the party was over, I hopped into one of these pulmonias (open air taxis unique to Mazatlan). Time to crawl into my coffin!

Are you familiar with Day of the Dead? What did you think of the celebrations and visuals in this post? If you have questions, I invite you to leave a comment here or on my Facebook; I’ll be sure to reply.

Song of the Day: Voltaire – Day of the Dead

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