Mayan Wedding Ceremonies

The Mayan culture is said to have had its beginnings on August 11, 3114 BC, the date the Mayan world started marking time via the Mayan Long Count calendar. The end date of the Mayan Calendar, December 21, 2012, has caused much controversy and as a result all things Mayan are experiencing a renewed interest, especially Mayan weddings..

In the time of the ancient Maya, marriages were arranged by a professional atanzahab (matchmaker), more a business arrangement than a union of two people in love with each other. As a result, the festivities were less than grand.

Moving forward several thousand years, the Mayans have discarded the practice of arranged marriages and focus on traditional spiritual guidelines considered to be a link to the universe.

Prior to the ceremony, both the Shaman and the couple perform essential traditional rituals. While the wedding site is cleansed at the four cardinal points by the Shaman with the sacred smoke from the Copal tree and the blowing of the conch shell horn, the couple partakes of the ancient Mayans Temazcal (sweat lodge) purification ceremony, signifying new beginnings. Mayan music is performed during the purification ceremony, and as the couple leaves the Temazcal and leads a procession of friends and family to the wedding site, where the couple is married inside a circle of friends and family. The wedding party itself is limited to the bride, the groom and the Shaman.

Unity of all the elements is the core of cosmic weddings. The Mayan wedding ritualaltar is created to represent the four cardinal points - North with red flowers, South with purple flowers, East with yellow flowers and West with white flowers. Candles are added to each cardinal point to represent the four Mayan cosmos gods: Zac Cimi - guarding the west, Hozanek - guarding the south, Hobnil - guarding the east, and Can Tzicnal - guarding the north. In the center of the alter is a sacred candle to bond the couple to the feminine Mother Earth and the masculine Cosmic Energy. And for the gods, on the altar there are the traditional offerings of corn, beans, rice, and fruit .

The bride and groom wear simple natural clothing of white or off white. They are barefoot so they can absorb the energy of the ceremony. A Mayan bride traditionally wore a natural cloth skirt and wedding huipil (an elaborate brocaded blouse- traditionally sewn by the groom‘s mother) and the groom wore an embroidered loincloth decorated with parrot feathers, semiprecious stones and shells. Instead of rings, during the ceremony, the bride and groom exchange floral crowns to celebrate their union. Wedding guests also wore natural cloth clothing in white or cream, preferably barefoot, so they too could share in the spiritual energy created by the ceremony.

For the guests, who often arrived bearing generous gifts, there was a feast of turkey cornmeal steamed dumplings, beans, potatoes and tortillas.

The traditional Mayan wedding does not include designer gowns or tuxedos, diamond rings, 5 tier wedding cakes or 7 course dinner receptions with an open bar. There are no limos, bridesmaids, guest books or pre-nuptial agreements. That’s not to say that in the 21st century the traditional Mayan ceremony cannot be modified. On the Yucatan peninsula, in both Cancun and Playa del Carmen, Real Resorts offer a Traditional Mayan Wedding Package on the beach with a Shaman which is authentic and inspirational. Both the Shaman and the resort staff can guide you to the perfect balance of ancient and modern elements for your Mayan wedding.







Salemi, Sicily has unusual plan to restore historic town center

Salemi is a relatively small town, in the province of Trapani on the island of Sicily.

In 1968 an earthquake devastated the historic village, the heart of Salemi, killing 200 people and reducing villas and public buildings alike to shattered debris. Down the hill, a bland modern city emerged out of necessity for the then homeless Sicilians, but the historic center with it's carriage wide streets has been deserted ever since.

Salemi is taking steps to reincarnate the old town by giving the decaying villas away in exchange for restoration. The city's celebrity mayor, Vittorio Sgarbi, a former national deputy culture minister, is offering 3,000 of the villas for the token price of €1- about $1.75 US. The idea is to attract foreign investors to infuse a renewed enthusiasm for the historic city, coupled with 21st century technology to restore Salemi to its former glory. The Mayor and city council anticipate the restoration plan will elevate Salemi into Europe's newest tourism destination. For the sake of the Sicilian economy, the hope is the project will also employ hundreds of out-of-work locals in construction and renovation projects.

Since the launch of the 1 Euro project in summer, 2008, there has been a great deal of international interest in the Salemi restoration project. Agents involved in the sale report interest from all corners of the world.

David Moss, who runs MIPC, a bilingual Italian property consultancy, is working closely with Mayor Sgarbi and the Salemi city council to assist non-Italian speaking individuals work through the application process.

The project, however, is materializing very slowly. In his exuberance to revitalize the historic town, the mayor announced the program without completing the necessary research, and has since encountered many delays. As a result, the first 1 Euro property has not yet been allocated. The villas will be released shortly in blocks, probably by auction. Anyone can attend and take part in the allocation of properties.

The application procedure still open and is as follows: You will be asked to submit a letter of intent in Italian to the Salemi council. This adds you to the database. The Salemi Council will advise interested parties when to proceed with the next phase, which is to submit a purchase application form for a one Euro villa in Salemi.Once your Salemi property is allocated you will purchase your villa in front of the notary in Salemi. Finally you will need to complete the restoration within two years, using the building codes of the restoration project. Contact MIPC for assistance with the application process. Moss Italian Property Consultants

Shanghai Lilly - Restaurant Review

Back in the 1900’s, Shanghai gained a reputation as a city of adventurers. Missionaries, mercenaries, merchants, grafters, gadflies and gangsters of all types flocked there.

Shanghai's story is one of millions made and dreams lost. Bowed by British guns in the First Opium War, this once sleepy village gained notoriety as the "Paris of the East" as a colonial city of commerce, vice, money and political intrigue. More recently, Shanghai has benefited the most from China's economic reforms, rapidly rising as the shining "Pearl of the Orient." In view of this exotic history, anticipation was high for an evening at Shanghai Lilly’s.

The opulent atmosphere is evident in the restaurant's red, black, and cream-colored dining room . Chinese lantern style lighting, silken drapes, and cozy upholstery encircle the large bronze bodhisattva sculptures.

Shanghai Lilly’s is located inside the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino and offered the promise of excellent seafood. After all, “Shanghai” in Chinese means “to the sea.“

The menu is Cantonese and Szechwan. The presentation of the meal was quite attractive, and included both chopsticks and heavy silverware with a bamboo pattern, The quality of the seafood, however was inconsistent. The coconut shrimp appetizer served with both a hot mustard sauce and a sweet and spicy sauce was faultless. The shrimp was firm and flavorful, the batter was crisp and golden brown and the coconut was plentiful. The lobster lettuce wrap appetizer on the other hand was disappointing. The lobster pieces were miniscule, almost to the point of not having any discernable taste. The romaine lettuce leaves were crisp, but not really suited to the task of wrapping the filling.

The same scenario played itself out with the entrees. The General Tso chicken was excellent. The chicken was succulent and the sauce was spicy with a little “kick”. The Hong Kong noodles were somewhat bland until we requested hot chili paste from the kitchen, and the shrimp, though large, were undercooked.

The restaurant was only moderately busy on this Friday night, and yet the service was minimal and marred by two events. When we were seated, we were taken in by the surroundings and then the menus. It wasn’t until we had ordered our meals that we noticed a rather large stain on the tablecloth (it had been covered by a side plate). In a restaurant of this caliber, that should have not been overlooked by the staff. The second event revolved around the iced tea. A refill was never offered.

On the star rating guide, Shanghai Lilly receives 3 Stars.

Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino
3950 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Las Vegas, NV 89119

Hours:5:30pm-10:30pm Monday
5:30pm-11:00pm Thurs-Sunday

Average Check:$55/person

Visitors Guide - Pahrump Valley Winery, Nevada

The drive out to Pahrump Valley Winery from Las Vegas is just about an hour in duration and wanders thru scrub desert before crossing the Spring Valley Mountains. On this triple digit August day, traffic was scarce, and as Highway 160 seemed to stretch to the horizon, thoughts of pioneers in covered wagons invaded my senses. How did the pioneers do this in a covered wagon? But that’s a story for another day. The promise of a wine tasting in the desert was bound to be a distinctive experience.

How many of us have dreamed of owning our very own vineyard, leisurely strolling among the grapes, dressed in a flowing chiffon gown and wearing a large straw hat that would make Holly Golightly proud? Pahrump Valley Winery fits that fantasy.

Established in 1990, it is Nevada’s oldest, largest and only winery. The winery itself is a distinguishing Mission-style structure with a bright blue roof on the slope below Mount Charleston. The winery grounds include several petite waterfalls, white benches and wagons, but there are minimal actual grapevines, other than a few for show. Grapevines once covered much of the grounds, but as the two-year-old vines were about to deliver their first crop, they were eaten by wild horses.

California growers supply the grapes for the prize winning reds (exceptional cabernet sauvignon and merlot) and whites made with the Symphony grape.

While you are there, try the Symphony wine. It is a sweet white with a fruity texture. Enchanting as well as refreshing..

The tasting room, gift shop and tour all reflect the highest traditions of the contemporary wine culture, including complimentary wine tasting.

The gourmet restaurant on premises, Symphony’s, offers a Continental menu in an atmosphere of quiet elegance. The circular room overlooks the gardens, as does the al fresco dining on the veranda.

This one day trip outside the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas is well worth the time, whether you happen to be a wine aficionado or a novice.

THE GRAPE STOMP, held each year in October, has been a tradition at the Winery for nearly two decades. Two person teams compete against each other to crush the greatest amount of juice. It takes place in a half barrel and points are awarded for the most juiced in 2 minutes. There’s lots of great music, great wine and hand held food outside.


Pahrump Valley Winery
3810 Winery Road
Pahrump, NV 89048

Open 10:30am for Wine Tasting

Symphony’s Restaurant

Open Daily
Lunch hours: 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Dinner hours 5:00 p.m. to Closing, Wed through Sun

(Closed Mon and Tues nights)




Las Vegas to Grand Canyon Overnight Bus Tours


Grand Canyon

Standing in stark contrast to the glitz and glitter of Las Vegas, just 278 miles away, is Arizona's #1 attraction - the Grand Canyon. To enjoy the experience in a short amount of time, an overnight bus tour from Las Vegas is a viable choice.

Day 1

Day 1 starts early with your Las Vegas hotel pick-up. The tour's first stop is at Hoover Dam for photos and a refreshment break. Then on to Williams AZ for lunch at the home of the historic Grand Canyon Railway.

The afternoon is dedicated to the National Park rim tour - Mather Point, the Visitor's Center, Yavapai Point, and Bright Angel Lodge.

Day 2

Day 2 is yours to enjoy the surroundings, with free time until mid afternoon. Visit the Native American gift shops and local restaurants, or try a helicopter view of the area. On your return trip to Las Vegas, enjoy a refreshment stop, and after sunset, there will be a feature film on the bus.

3 Fun Facts about the Grand Canyon

1) In 1540, the first Europeans viewed the Grand Canyon while searching for the Seven Cities of Gold, 2) Approximately 5 million people visit the Grand Canyon National Park per year, 3)The Pueblo people revered the Grand Canyon as a holy site.

Grand Canyon Tour Company []
National Geographic - Grand Canyon Basics []

Grand Canyon Tour Company Contact Page []
National Park Service - Grand Canyon []


Las Vegas, Nevada United States

User Bio:

Anne Adams is based in Las Vegas, but started as a sports writer in 2001 in Biloxi, Miss. Her work has appeared online at, and in "Just Hockey Magazine She holds an Associate of Arts in travel/tourism from West Los Angeles College.

RM Seafood - Simply Inspired!

This bi-level restaurant at Mandalay Bay is the brain-child of one of the culinary world's leading proponents of the sustainable seafood movement, Celebrity Chef Rick Moonen.

The ambiance of both levels speaks to the sea with décor that might be found on an ocean going vessel. RM Upstairs, the more formal restaurant is upscale sleek with it’s mahogany and glass appointments.. Combined with crisp linens and crystal RM Upstairs has the feel of a luxury yacht. The menu, presented under glass, is fun and whimsical featuring Chef's Tasting Menu and A La Carte options, all of which are sustainable..

On the more casual lower level, RM Downstairs is a 200 seat restaurant offering fine dining that has the feel of a luxury liner, and serves state of the art seafood entrees that can be considered as works of art.

In addition to serving exquisite food in an elegant setting, Rick Moonen is an advocate for sustainable seafood. His Mission Statement is very clear: “At Rm Seafood, we are committed to use organically grown, sustainable produce and sustainably caught seafood. We have made a public commitment to solely purchase sustainable wines …and 95 percent of the menu proteins come from sustainably raised or caught seafood. It is our goal at RM Seafood to help our guest connect their individual buying decisions to the health of the oceans and the soil“..


Open Daily from 11:30am-11:00pm

Open Tuesday-Saturday from 5:30pm-10:30pm

RM Seafood at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino
3950 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Las Vegas, Nevada 89119

Average Check:
$40/person (downstairs)
$75/person (upstairs)


Approximately 15 minutes southeast of the Las Vegas Strip is Green Valley Ranch Resort in Henderson. This is a 40 acre Mediterranean-style complex including but not limited to a hotel, casino, pool, spa and a variety of eating establishments.

The dining choices are varied, from Fine Dining to Food Court and appeal to every palate and budget.

Hank's Fine Steaks and Martinis

Sparkling crystal chandeliers, crisp white linens and a piano bar set the stage for a memorable dining experience at Hank's Fine Steaks and Martinis.. The ambiance lends itself equally to a romantic dinner for 2 or a business liaison. As the name implies, steaks are featured, but the menu also includes chicken, chops, lamb and seafood dishes. The bar, famous for its martinis offers 30 varieties

According to Executive Chef Steve Short, what sets the Fine Dining at Hank's and Terra Verde experience apart is that "both restaurants have highly motivated chefs who are able to experiment with products and create new items at will. We use the finest, freshest ingredients in the industry and stay up with current trends." Hank's is AAA rated with 4 stars.

Green Valley Ranch Resort
The District
2300 Paseo Verde Parkway
Henderson, NV 89052

Terra Verde

Terra Verde is a fine dining Italian restaurant evocative of a Roman trattoria and offers homemade Italian specialties. Included on the menu are various pastas, fresh seafood, poultry, traditional pizzas and meat offerings. To compliment your meal, the wine list offers some 1,500 bottles of premier Italian and California wines.

Green Valley Ranch Resort
The District
2300 Paseo Verde Parkway
Henderson, NV 89052

China Spice

China Spice is noted for traditional as well as exotic Chinese cuisine. This upscale relaxed restaurant is decorated in a sea of reds and the menu offers a variety of options for your taste buds.

Green Valley Ranch Resort
The District
2300 Paseo Verde Parkway
Henderson, NV 89052

Sushi + Sake

Sushi + Sake is a contemporary Japanese food restaurant with a menu that includes not only Sashimi, Nigiri, Make and Cones, but also a selection of exotic infused sakes.

Green Valley Ranch Resort
The District
2300 Paseo Verde Parkway
Henderson, NV 89052

The Original Pancake House

The Original Pancake House has earned it's reputation for a wide selection of time honored breakfast favorites. Fluffy pancakes, fruit topped waffles, breakfast pastries, crepes and egg dishes abound. Also on the menu there is a multitude of comfort foods including salads, soups sandwiches and desserts,

Green Valley Ranch Resort
The District
2300 Paseo Verde Parkway
Henderson, NV 89052

Feast Buffet

Feast Buffet is a festival of choices. The buffet offers soups, salads, live-action cooking stations serving American and International specialties. There is an ample array of desserts, and for the health conscious there is a selection of low-carb menu items available.

Green Valley Ranch Resort
The District
2300 Paseo Verde Parkway
Henderson, NV 89052

Tides Oyster Bar

Tides Oyster Bar showcases New Orleans style seafood. at the raw oyster bar with additional menu choices of Po'Boys, pan roasts, and gumbos

Green Valley Ranch Resort
The District
2300 Paseo Verde Parkway
Henderson, NV 89052

Turf Grill

Turf Grill is located next to the Sports Book where menu choices include burgers, classic club sandwiches, Philly Cheese steak, hot dogs, steak and eggs, and other light meals. Eat in and watch the action on the big screens, or take-out.

Green Valley Ranch Resort
The District
2300 Paseo Verde Parkway
Henderson, NV 89052

Food Court

The Green Valley Ranch Resort Food Court is located on the perimeter of the Casino floor with counter service restaurants and general seating tables and chairs for diners.

Outlets in the Food Court are varied, including Capriotti's for deli, Fatburgers for grilled fast food favorites, Panda Express for Chinese selections, and Villa Pizza for an Italian slice.

On the lighter side, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf also offers sandwiches and light snacks, Tropical Smoothie Cafe offers this popular drink and U-Swirl serves this anytime treat.

Green Valley Ranch Resort
The District
2300 Paseo Verde Parkway
Henderson, NV 89052

Samba Brazilian Steakhouse Sizzles on the Strip

Las Vegas is flash, glitz and glitter. And that applies to the hundreds of dining establishments both on and off the “Strip”. The trick is to find a fine dining restaurant with real substance.

Located inside the Mirage Resort is one such restaurant - Samba Brazilian Steakhouse. The restaurant is located on the perimeter of the Casino floor and very reminiscent of Rio. The ambiance is enhanced with bright tropical colors, wafting aromas from skewered meats being roasted over coals in an open Brazilian rotisserie and a pleasant array of wait staff.

Whatever you choice in foods, it MUST be preceded with the Brazilian national drink, a Caipirinha. This is a delightful cocktail made with cachaça, a Brazilian sugar cane liquor, lime juice and sugar. Spectacular!

For the first time visitor, "THE ALL YOU CAN EAT RODIZIO EXPERIENCE" can’t be beat. This is a uniquely Brazilian style of barbecue offering a variety of skewered meats and poultry that waiters carry to your table and carve for you on the spot. These items are served in random order along with traditional side dishes of black beans and rice, sweet fried plantains, creamed spinach, farofa carrots, and a bottomless bowl of "Samba Salad" tossed tableside. This meal is absolutely fantastic ! The meats and poultry were all succulent and seasoned to perfection .

Grill selections include fine dining standards such as whole fish of the day, Rotisserie Chicken with Brazilian Spices and an 8 oz. Center Cut Filet Mignon. Brazilian specialties are highlighted by such selections as Rigatoni Pasta, Mahogany Caramelized Salmon Filet, and Surf and Turf - Australian Lobster Tail and Filet of Beef Gratinado. Wine selections are available by the glass.

Samba Brazilian Steakhouse deserves a 5 “Golden Spoon” rating, for an inspired combination of exquisite food, served in a lively atmosphere by a very accommodating and knowledgeable staff. This is a “must visit” in Las Vegas.

The Mirage
3400 S Las Vegas Blvd
Las Vegas, NV 89109
Reservations: 866.339.4566
Hours: 5:00 p.m. – 10:30 p.m
The minimum age requirement is 5 years old
Attire: Casual
Average Check:$40.00


Casual Sunday Brunch at Cheesecake Factory

Is there anything more comforting than a casual Sunday Brunch? The champagne mimosas, the eggs Benedict, the blintzes dripping in blueberry compote are just some of the components of a leisurely Sunday Brunch.

In Las Vegas, whether you were gambling in the Casinos, catching a headliner show, returning from a long day at Area 51, or dancing ’til dawn, Sunday Brunch is all about pulling together a fabulous look after a late night and gathering with friends or family for a special meal.

Leaving the Las Vegas strip, and wandering west to Boca Park is a superb eatery offering a truly special Sunday Brunch Menu - the Cheesecake Factory!

The décor at the Cheesecake Factory is distinctive and casual, from the Egyptian columns and hand-blown lighting fixtures, to the dark cherry wood and brass accents. The bar is a visual delight with natural light streaming thru the many different colored liquor bottles, and if you are so inclined, there is outdoor dining on the patio, surrounded by misters, adding to a perfect ambiance for a Sunday Brunch. Don’t forget to have a sneak peek at the cheesecakes in the desserts case. Mmmmmmmm.

The menu is varied, the portions are more than generous, and the service was flawless. When you visit try the Monte Cristo! It’s made with French toast, and filled with scrambled eggs, melted swiss cheese, grilled ham and bacon, sprinkled with powered sugar, and a side of strawberry jam. Sensational!!

Additional “bites”

The Cheesecake Factory
The Shops at Boca Park
750 S Rampart Blvd
Las Vegas, NV, 89145
(702) 951-3800
Mon - Thurs:
11:00 am - 11:00 pm
Fri - Sat
11:00 am - 12:00 am
10:00 am - 11:00 pm


BBQ Brilliance in Las Vegas

When traveling through the South, your best bet for authentic and carefully prepared Southern cuisine is any of the many barbecue restaurants that stretch from Texas to Florida. In Las Vegas you have to head to Famous Dave’s BBQ, this one south of the strip on Blue Diamond Highway.

From the moment you park your car, the aroma of slow smoked pork, beef and chicken marinating in Dave’s BBQ sauce fills the air. Crossing the threshold transports you into a lively setting with servers bustling to and from the kitchen carrying huge platters of ribs, generous sandwiches, burgers, fresh salads and comfort food desserts all served up with a smile and toe tapping blues.

Two items that make a BBQ an experience rather than a meal, are the sides, and the sauces. Famous Dave's has five sauces that are to die for! Rich & Sassy,® - Dave's Original Recipe, Georgia Mustard®, Texas Pit®, Sweet & Zesty®, and Devil's Spit® You will find all of them on your table, so make sure you try each of them. There’s also a big roll of paper towels - cause BBQ done right is messy!

Dave’s has taken traditional sides and kicked them up a notch. There is a taste of horseradish in the coleslaw, jalapeno in the beans and amaretto in the apples. Delicious!

Famous Dave’s offers great barbeque and fun. Check out their “U.S. of BBQ” promotion!

Additional “bites”:

Famous Dave’s BBQ
4390 Blue Diamond Road
Las Vegas, NV 89139
Reservations: 702.633.7427
Hours: Mon - Thurs, Sun : 11:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m
Fri - Sat: 11:00 a.m. - 11:00 p.m.
Attire: Casual
Average Check:$40.00