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Whale Shark Excursion #2

So today was Don’s birthday and we decided to do whale sharks again! Because how many times are you in Isla Mujeres during Whale Shark Season?? I was definitely hesitant to do this excursion again because it was costly and I thought it couldn’t get much better, but I am so happy we did! First off, it was a deal where we only had to pay for one person (so it was $120). Secondly, it was a really great experience in comparison to the first time.

So we got to the shop where Ocean Adventures Mexico operates out of around 7:20. We waited here for awhile, finally another person showed up his name was Ron and and he was from Israel. Then a couple from New Jersey came, Aoife and Sean. A family of three and another couple were also with us on this excursion. Right from the beginning this group of people was much more fun than the first group we went with. Our guide was awesome, her name was Gretchen. The captain was also very nice but I can’t remember his name.

Even though Gretchen and the captain both spoke limited English they explained how the excursion would go better than the guides we went with on Monday. The ride to the whale sharks was great; the water looked so calm; it was like glass.

When we got to the shark area we could immediately see sharks swimming in the water. It was so cool.


We were the first couple that got to go with Gretchen. It was so much easier to jump off the side of this boat than the one on Monday. The captain also knew exactly when to tell us to jump. It was awesome. Immediately when we jumped in a I saw a whale shark and I swam with it for a good bit. This time was much more relaxing than on Monday also because it didn’t seem there were as many people in the water. Last time we were getting kicked in the face as everyone swam towards the shark, but this time it was really just me, Don, and Gretchen with the shark. We both took great video and here is a still shot of me and the shark from Don’s video.


On our second jump with the shark I got turned around and started swimming the wrong way then by the time I realized the shark was going on the other way I was so tired. I got a small glimpse of the shark but I was too tired to keep going. My adrenaline was up so high, at first I felt like I could do anything to get to a shark but the minute I realized I lost it I was done and really glad I had a life jacket on. Don swam with this shark for a good few minutes though and he got some really great video, here a few screenshots from the video.




The third dive was by far the best for me and Don had a good view too. When I jumped in I was heading straight for the shark. Gretchen was even giving me a little pull to get there faster. I must have got too much force going though because all of the sudden I was almost on top of the shark! Gretchen pulled me back a bit and I got the best video! Hopefully I can get it a link to it here. It was absolutely an incredible experience.

Here are a couple of videos from the day…

On the way back we had sandwiches and some coke. The water and the sky looked amazing.



Once we got back within view of Isla we stopped at Mia Reef for a snorkel. This is along the same beach as ours and we had been wanting to snorkel here so we were happy. While we snorkeled the captain and Gretchen were busy making ceviche. The snorkeling was pretty good here. We saw a good variety of fish and a couple of sting rays. Once we were done we had some beer and ceviche. Now the ceviche is the only part of this excursion I can say was not as good as Monday’s experience, but it was still pretty good. We were all having fun and when we got back to the port Ron had invited Sean, Aoife and us to a party later at the hostel. The party was not until 11 pm. So we decided to meet up with Sean and Aoife at Bobo’s around 5.

From Bobo’s things got kind of crazy. We started with margaritas. Then I think I went to beer. The guys from the other night at Bobo’s showed up also, along with a girl from California, a girl from Australia, and a few others. We all decided to play Cards Against Humanity. The bartender, Julia, made up a bottle of a shot we would have to take if our card was chosen as the best one in each round. I think I had two of these shots and was thinking “why if I am winning at this game am I having to do shots?!” Needless to say we had a lot of fun and before we knew it, it was about time for the party at the hostel. So we all walked over there. The hostel was so weird from what I remember. It was huge! There were people playing different games like ping pong and I don’t even know. There was this weird bar where we got our beers. There was also a band and a dance floor where no one was dancing. So we went to the dance floor to listen to the band…I think one of the band members was Julia’s boyfriend (bartender from Bobo’s). So a group of maybe 4 of us are on the dance floor not really dancing but talking when all of the sudden I see a cat laying on the dance floor. I thought this was hilarious and of course I wanted to pet the cat and I was so intrigued as to why a cat would be on a dance floor. So I started to bend down to get closer to the cat when all of the sudden I dropped by beer and the bottle broke all over. The cat ran away.

Don and the girl from Cali tried to get help to clean up the bottle but no one seemed concern and I think they ended up doing it themselves. After this we had to go outside to a beach bar because the bar inside closed. We sat outside and there was sand but I don’t really remember water. Out here Aoife and I made plans for the four of us to hang out tomorrow. We wanted to rent a golf cart to go to the Southern Point again to check out the secluded beaches there. The guys agreed and so we have plans for tomorrow!

Living without Cable.


So we have been living without cable since the beginning of August. We held onto it the first week of August for Shark Week. Unfortunately, RCN reminded us why we were getting rid of cable…the cable was out pretty much the entire week. But not only was the cable out, the internet was also. The problem was somehow our cable line had been cut so our neighbors were also without cable and internet. It took so many phone calls and visits for RCN to get their act together. I think it took about 3 phone calls before they realized this was not only a problem for us but also for our neighbors.

Now we are happily living without cable, though we do still have internet with RCN. It has been a pretty easy adjustment, mostly due to our sweet set up. Our HD antenna was working great, but after a lot of thought and research I really wanted DVR. It’s so nice to be able to come home in the middle of one your shows and to be able to start from the beginning because it was being recorded.

In July I started doing a lot of reading about how to have DVR without cable. Tivo was the first and most popular DVR product that I saw, but with Tivo we would have a monthly bill. After more research I found out you could make your computer into a DVR. Basically you install a TV tuner into your computer and watch live TV through it with the help of an antenna.

We looked into 2 TV tuners with the best reviews: the SiliconDust HD HomeRun Dual HD Digital TV Tuner HDHR3-US and the Hauppauge 1229 HVR 2250 TV tuner. Both were very similar but we decided to go with the Hauppauge. It was about $100.

So here’s how we set up…we moved my PC into the living room so it could be next to the TV. My PC has Windows 7 on it so it has Windows Media Center. This is pretty much a free program that you run with a TV tuner. It allows you to watch live TV on your PC, you can watch whatever channels your HD antenna can pick up. It comes with a guide and even the option to record live TV. To use Windows Media Center though you need a TV tuner and that’s where Hauppauge comes in.
After a lot of trial and error we have a set up that really works for us. We ended up moving the HD antenna into our bedroom window that faces south. It gets the best reception here. We taped it with clear tape onto the window. It’s not really noticeable with the blinds. Then we ran a TV cable from the antenna to the PC. We had to purchase this cable because we didn’t have one long enough; I think it was about $30. From the PC to the TV we have a DVI to HDMI cable adapter. This was $18.99 at Microcenter. We bought a wireless keyboard to use as our remote. It’s the k400 Logitech. I like it because it’s small and light and works great.

Once everything is hooked up correctly and you install the Hauppauge driver you’re ready to scan for channels using Windows Media Center. We opted not to download the Hauppauge TV guide & program software because we read Windows Media Center was good enough. So the PC receives the TV signal from the HD antenna and over the air channels are projected on the TV from the computer in HD. It was really easy to set up.

After we had all the channels coming in crystal clear I started setting up our recording options. It’s just like a regular DVR you get through your cable box, except this one is already paid off. You can put in series recordings so you don’t even have to think about it your Hauppauge TV tuner and recorder will just record whatever shows you tell it to. Like most DVR offered by cable companies the Hauppauge is a dual tuner so you can record 2 shows at once. It is freaking awesome. The only thing you have to remember is your shows will not be recorded if your PC isn’t on.

So after about 6 months of no cable, do we miss it? Not really. Rather than spending hours watching really bad horrible reality shows or lifetime movies, I find myself doing other things, like watching Netflix. But really it does feel kind of refreshing to not have access to cable. We are still able to watch all of the shows we were watching when we had cable. We record Big Brother, Survivor, Amazing Race and Grimm right now. We have found ways to get access to The Walking Dead, and we are up to date. We have been watching every Bears game live on free TV, as well as a few Hawks games that have been on WGN. We still haven’t tried any of the websites for streaming sports live because it really hasn’t been necessary…but watch out for that blog later.

Actually I think getting rid of cable has made me watch more TV, but better shows. For example if we still had cable I wouldn’t have time to finish series like Breaking Bad, Orange is the New Black and Parks and Recreation. It’s pretty cool and it’s been going very well.

Set-Up Costs:
$70-HD antenna
$120 Hauppauge TV Tuner
$50 extra cables
$40 Wireless keyboard
—Total: $280

Old RCN cable and internet monthly bill $130
New RCN internet bill $28
Netflix $8/month
Amazon Prime-$8/month
Approx.-$45/month for internet and TV services
About $1000 saved a year!

Our HD antenna.
Our HD antenna.


Our new remote the Logitech wireless keyboard.
Our new remote the Logitech wireless keyboard.




My Interview with my Grandfather, Part 1

In June of 2010 my family on my mother’s side had a family reunion in the Philippines. The reunion was to celebrate my grandfather’s 94th birthday. When my grandfather and I had some down time together I decided to sit down with him and record an interview with him. For the first time ever, I learned things about my grandparents that I never knew. Though the entire session only lasted about an hour and a half, it is something that I will keep and remember forever. I only wish I could have done more.

On April 3rd, 2012 my grandfather passed away. As I write this it is only 9 days since his passing. I miss him terribly as everyone in my family does. My grandfather was a leader, a patriarch, the paterfamilias of his family. Some of my cousins called him the General. Things didn’t happen unless my grandfather made the decision to make them happen.

A quote from my cousin RJ:
“You’ve always been there when we needed you…you gave us advice and tried to show us the better path to live our lives…you never showed weakness until the end…

A role model and a hero…

You will forever be missed and always be loved Lolo…!!!”

Bonifacio Silvano Arzadon Sr. – June 5th 1916 – April 3rd 2012.

(The above video is part 1 of what I believe will be a 3 part video. I will try to get the other parts edited and uploaded soon)