Category Archive for Mexico + Central America

Karisma El Dorado Royale: 10 reasons to stay at this Riviera Maya, Mexico beach resort.

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2016 is already becoming a year of globe-trotting! I spent the first half of January at the sunny Karisma El Dorado Royale in Mexico. 

My travels are typically quite gruelling, but this one was different. For once, I got to kick back and enjoy the beaches, wellness, and all the avocado smoothies I could drink.

And I was overjoyed to reunite with my partner in crime, Yukiro Dravarious. Enjoy our Mexican photo diary, which describes 10 reasons we had a royal time at El Dorado Royale! 

el dorado royale resort

1) The warm weather. Even an icy Goth queen brightens up under warm skies and palm trees. What a treat to wear sun-dresses in early January, while we saw our friends battling the snow in Tokyo and suffering from -15 degree temperatures in Sweden…

cancun luxury resort

2) Easy access. We flew into Cancun from NYC, a quick and inexpensive flight. Karisma’s partner Lomas Travel picked us up, and within an hour, we were settled into our rooms.

karisma el dorado royale

I put on my white sun hat to walk around, and came across a cute white pagoda that matched my outfit. Which brings us to reason number three…

review karisma resort cancun

3) There’s so much to explore. The grounds of El Dorado Royale are huge, and all guests have access to the adjoining resorts too (Casitas and Generations Riviera Maya). If we didn’t feel like walking all the way, we could call for a shuttle or hail one down.

riviera maya beach resorts

4) This ocean view! Our room was steps away from the private beach and waterfront.

tall platform goth shoes

Yukiro wore appropriate shoes for the sand — giant, studded platforms (similar to these black platform shoes.)

travel blogger mexico

This photo says it all. I loved walking barefoot in the sand, and watching the birds fly over the ocean.

white dress sun hat

In January, the weather was warm, but not overly hot or humid. (I wore a white cut-out dress similar to this one by Cushnie et Ochs.)

el dorado health bar

5) Healthy food galore. We had all-inclusive access to the restaurants here — and especially loved the Health Bar. It was our type of dream scenario: you could order as many green juices, smoothies and salads as you wanted!

mexico big iguana

6) Meeting new friends. We said hello to this big, sleepy iguana. And we enjoyed chatting with the staff, some of whom went out of their way to make our stay a pleasure.

giant chess set

There’s never a dull moment when we travel together. Yukiro dominated this game of chess, naturally.

karisma el dorado casitas royale

Ding dong, the Queen is dead.

el dorado Gourmet Inclusive resort

Meanwhile, I lazed on the lounge beds — and sipped a margarita or two.

mexico adults only resort

7) Wellness activities. Every day, there were at least a dozen classes we could participate in, for free.

Yukiro and I felt energized after a Pilates routine that incorporated large exercise balls. We aimed to do yoga every morning on this pier… but to be honest, we never managed to wake up in time for the 8am session…

tequila tasting class

8) Tequila tasting. We learned about the various types of tequilas and sipped each of them. Energizing, in a different kind of way!

karisma all inclusive spa

Our daily schedule looked something like: berries and yogurt for breakfast, Pilates class, fresh fruit smoothies and salads for lunch, 80-minute massage at the spa…

Riviera Maya, Mexico vacation

… followed by a nap by the ocean, margaritas and tacos for dinner!

mexico resort beach

And all this took place in this beautiful beach environment. (This is the east coast of Mexico, in the Riviera Maya.)

Outfit Details: My dress is similar to Cushnie et Och‘s, and I’m wearing this wide brimmed sunhat

karisma el dorado wedding

Guests often come here for a destination wedding. Yukiro pretended to be the evil mistress of ceremonies.

mexican fashion outfit post

9) Day trips to Tulum. While we had fun vogue-ing and relaxing, we also wanted to experience the Mayan ruins and Mexican art near us. The resort’s location made it convenient for us to explore the culture of Tulum. (I’ll show you our excursion in an upcoming article.)

karisma experience instagram influencers press trip

Gracias to Karisma El Dorado Royale for inviting us to stay with them in Quintana Roo, Mexico! I’m not usually an “all inclusive resort” type of traveller, but Karisma changed my mind.

But wait: what’s the final reason to come here? The food is above and beyond anything I expected. It’s worth dedicating an entire post to the restaurants, so this is what I’ll do next.

sunrise palm trees sky

I leave you with this sunrise shot, with the silhouettes of palm fronds.

Have you vacationed in Mexico before — if so, where? Aren’t you glad to see Yukiro back on the blog? 

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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.


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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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

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

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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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