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Frida’s Answer to The Wall between Mexico and U.S…Plus 5 Things To Visit, Eat and Explore in Playa Del Carmen, Tulum and Azul Cenotes

Frida Kahlo, a stoic, talented, resilient, controversial and revered artist and feminist from Mexico, would likely have had plenty to say about “the wall” being built between the borders of United States of America and Mexico. To paraphrase Zen masters, water is stronger than rock. Artists take walls that are divisive and unbending, and transform them into a mere background canvas for a greater purpose.

If your mind is quiet, what they have to say will move you, motivate you, inspire you to be authentic, question, contemplate, and start a new conversation about how we can all make this world a better place, starting with your higher self. The best self you can be. And by example, we raise the consciousness of the planet, moving mountains, and thus transforming walls into a canvas for a new reality.

Let’s continue to explore and respect mother earth and its people everywhere we go. Art, music, mother nature, oneness are louder in their stillness than any wall that has ever been built to divide. The conversation is bringing more and more people together as a backlash. It turned my attention to the beauty of Mexico in a short 4 days worth exploring.20170206_101906Casa de las Flores, Playa Del Carmen, Mexico (all photos by Paula Erskine) A waterfall pours over the staircase wall, with Frida’s artistic attention on a higher plane.20170206_164826

Playa Del Carmen, Mexico…walls become a canvas for a higher message to be enjoyed. Graffiti can be found throughout Playa Del Carmen, a photographer’s treasure. In Tulum we began with a homemade soup before our light trek, then began bird watching.

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In Tulum, Mexico, the walls mark ancient civilizations. Iguanas make these walls their roaming places. Take a “collectivo bus” white van, from Play del Carmen for a little less than $3 U.S. Make sure you bring pesos for better value.20170205_14310220170205_144601Water is stronger than rock and walls…it molds, it soothes…it beckons…it purifies…

20170205_14432020170205_152426After visiting Tulum, we walked towards the closest beach and discovered tejon, which surprised and delighted us. They were very gentle, and liked our cranberries. They are like  Mexican raccoons, also know as coatimundi. They were adorable, and in my experience, ate gently out of hand, but be careful to give these omnivores what they would normally eat. We were quite grateful later to learn that they eat tarantulas too, so for that, we thank them. Time stood still as we socialized with mother earth’s delightful creatures. It was in Tulum that we met this lovely couple, a Canadian artist living in Berlin, with her lawyer boyfriend. We enjoyed chatting with them, and we all agreed that artists and lawyers make very good couples. 20170205_151836020170206_211134At the 3D Museum of Wonders, Kurt Wenner’s art bends walls, taking us out of our comfort zone. Kurt Wenner is a famous street artist and his art was finally recognized and is enjoyed in only 3 museums world wide. Japan, Singapore, and Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. Bring your camera and ask for Gustav, or any staff, who are there to take pictures of you that are mind-bending. It is well worth the $30 U.S., however, Sundays are rumored to be half price. Luckily the museum was open till 10:00pm, we rushed through on our last night in Playa Del Carmen, and it was still very enjoyable. 20170206_20574920170206_205232

Playa Del Carmen has many delicious places to eat, very budget friendly, we loved La Catrina on 4th and 20th…just down the street from the entrance of Mom’s Hostel where we stayed.20170206_11284220170206_104100The view from La Catrina is another wall with even more thought provoking art. An ode to ancient civilizations.

20170206_104357La Catrina makes a delicious breakfast, but they close in the evenings.Mouth watering.

20170206_105331La Catrina’s menu in pesos…bring your appetite!20170206_10572320170207_08395120170207_08385420170207_083848Mom’s hotel is a hostel on 30th and 4th, it is very basic, no frills, but it is clean, and after walking for 2 hours in the heat, walking away from “recommended” hostels on hostel bookers with bed bugs, we found refuge here, without bed bugs. A clean place to to park our stuff and rejuvenate for 4 short days in Mexico.http://www.momshotel.com/ We paid $40 U.S. per night and had no prior reservation. They speak a good amount of English there, and can recommend restaurants nearby where locals go. Like El Fogon https://www.facebook.com/El-Fogon-Playa-del-Carmen-Mexico-113664555317230/20170205_214358El Fogon is on 30th and everything was delicious, we ate there twice which was twice as nice. Two blocks from Mom’s hotel (hostel). Our average dinner cost us about $10 U.S. each with fruit smoothies and guacamole and cactus salad. Many locals can be found here, enjoying a night out with their families.

Then we also ate at Casa Romero Bar and Grill and don’t let the empty restaurant fool you. It is absolutely heavenly tasty, gourmet food, and very reasonable at about $10 U.S. each. The fish was marinated with our choice of butter, garlic and a little bit of chili, and the quacamole with shrimps was to live for. Their lovely family charmed us as the food melted in our mouths. Casa Romero is a hidden treasure in Playa Del Carmen among restaurants.http://casaromeroplaya.com/ Find it on 20th Avenue, between 4th and 6th calle.20170206_19093520170206_19314220170206_19490520170206_190941Casa Romero’s Restaurant walls are adorned with living plants, artfully displayed. They food was cooked to perfection and plated as if we were in a top hotel in Mexico. Don’t let the empty restaurant deter you from dining off the busy areas, it is well worth your tastebuds and budget. We praised the chef personally for the marvelous dinner.

Playa Del Carmen’s beaches are a gathering of beach goers. We can all imagine, a world without walls here. How free it feels to breathe in sun, sky, air, warmth, sea…20170204_153959Azul Cenotes, can also be accessed by collectivo white vans halfway to Tulum, you can line up at the station in Playa Del Carmen, and you can also flag them down. http://www.playadelcarmen.com/blog/cenote-azul. It was approximately $6 U.S., with 4 swimming areas, life jackets and snorkel gear for rent. It was magical. I did some good old fashioned swimming, watched people jump from a cliff, and if you’re really still, the little fish will give you a pedicure. Someone decorated one of the cenotes with rose petals.20170206_12151720170206_12222820170206_12241420170206_101906With a little creativity, we can be like Frida, and rise above the wall to enjoy the history, art, culture, cenotes, sea, and food of Mexico.

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Modelling Bridal Wear for Curvy Women

Modelling Bridal Wear for Curvy Women

This photo shoot was featured in Wedding Bells Magazine in 1992. I was living and working in Chicago for the summer when I was hired for this job in Toronto. The day before, I made the mistake of walking all day long (about 8 hours) in the sun along the lakeshore just enjoying the exercise and typical friendliness of Chicago residents. I got quite red all over which was a big mistake on my part. I took the train from Chicago to Toronto in time for the shoot. I arrived at the shoot but was quite red to which the makeup artist responded that it is almost impossible to disguise a burn (it was mostly my shoulders and chest). The makeup artist was also a brilliant hairstylist but his name escapes me. He did his best, and the sepia coloured film certainly helped disguise the burn, and perhaps create a dreamy mood.

When I saw the backdrop that had been setup for the shoot I was really inspired. It looked like a painted theatre backstage with an antique wood ladder, some large coils of rope, and some movie star lights in the background. The photographer was very in tune with me and established a rapport with me onset. I felt like a princess after the hair and makeup was done. Although this was considered to be an editorial shoot for Wedding Bells Magazine, it did not typically pay alot (about $250 for the day, less 20% agency commission, less the train fare from Chicago to Toronto). The trade off is beautiful photos for my portfolio that I did not have to pay a top makeup and hair artist, and top photographer to make me look as I did. The exposure to many more clients was great for me.

Several years later, I worked with a makeup artist, Paul Venoit, for Pennington’s who had known and worked with me for about 10 years by then. He was shocked to see these photos in my portfolio. He said, “That’s you?! I didn’t recognize you! Do you know how many women walked into my salon with this page torn out of the magazine saying, I want my hair just like this?” Here is Paul in Playa Del Carmen Mexico, where we were meant to meet again. After 18 years of bumping into each other, he definately recognized me that time. You can also find him on past episodes of “Look Like A Star.” They take an “ordinary” girl, and I use this term loosely, who resembles a celebrity and make her over for a red carpet photo shoot in studio. Proudly Canadian show, I must say. My bathing suit is from Marks And Spencer bought in England with a matching robe.

Celebrity Makeup Artist Paul Venoit and former Plus Size model Paula Erskine in Playa Del Carmen circa 2008. It's a small world after all. This picture taken following our humble beginnings working for catalogues, magazines, and major clients together in Toronto, Canada.

Celebrity Makeup Artist Paul Venoit and former Plus Size model Paula Erskine in Playa Del Carmen circa 2008. It’s a small world after all. This picture taken following our humble beginnings working for catalogues, magazines, and major clients together in Toronto, Canada.