From the mountains to the sea: the journey of Dancing Chef Haley

dancing chef HaleyI have always thought of life as an adventure, so when I decided I wanted to do something outside of what most 19 year old college students do, everyone that knows me was not surprised. This summer I decided I wanted to do something different, so I moved to the island of Cozumel Mexico and become a Dancing Chef for the famous Salsa and Salsa tour (aka best summer job ever).

I was born in the mountainous state of Colorado. I get my adventurous side from my family, because when I was in 2nd grade, seeking adventure, my family decided to move to the sunny island of Cozumel, Mexico. I attended a bilingual school, so I am fluent in both English and Spanish. I lived in various parts of Mexico for 10 years including Cancun & Mazatlán. Growing up in a different culture gave me an exclusive view on life and I am always eager to meet people from all over the world and hear their unique stories. I recently moved back to the United States for college. I am currently double majoring in Restaurant, Food, Beverage Management and International Hotel & Tourism Management.

dancing chef haley with guestWhen I joined the Salsa & Salsa team this summer in Cozumel as a dancing chef, I didn’t know what to expect. I had done my research on the show and the company before moving down to the island for 3 months, and from what I could tell, everyone who had ever attended the Salsa & Salsa show had loved it so I was excited. This job was not only a fun summer job where I could live the island life in paradise, but also a learning experience. Customer service is a huge part of the hospitality industry and working for Salsa and Salsa, I got the hands on experience that cannot be taught at school.

My first day meeting my fellow coworkers, I realized I was walking into a family. From day one, they made me feel like I belonged. How many people can say that after their first day in a new job, in a different country and speaking a foreign language?! I felt like the luckiest girl in the world. I realized working as a dancing chef that you need to treat every day as a new experience because you never know who will walk through your door.

Working for Salsa & Salsa this summer not only taught me the important things in the hospitality industry, such as: working on my personal skills with clients, learning how to do inventory, helping out in the kitchen and seeing what it actually takes to run Salsa& Salsa on a business standpoint, but also fun things like:

  1. I can’t Salsa dance to save my life, but I will have a blast trying and making up new moves of my own with my awesome dance partners.
  2. People can get very creative and involve a lot of “Styling”, as us dancing chefs like to call it when it comes to salsa dancing
  3. You truly can change anyone’s day with a smile (and maybe a couple margaritas 😉 )
  4. Tomatillos are actually from the goose berry family
  5. I will never go back to the old red roma tomato, white onion guacamole ever again

dancing chef haley with group photoThis summer has definitely been an amazing experience not only as being a stepping stone in my career and future, but learning a lot about myself as well. You never know what might happen, and even though you might be given the same show day in and day out, every day and every person walking through our gate is different, and I love the diversity. “The biggest adventure you can ever take is to live the life of your dreams.” – Oprah Winfrey

Con mucho mucho amor,

Dancing Chef at heart, Haley Saul.

Mexico’s patron saint: our Lady of Guadalupe

The Virgin of Guadalupe is a symbol of the Catholic Mexican culture. Since I was a kid, “La Virgencita de Guadalupe” (how I call her in Spanish) was really present in my home and life. I was told that she was the mother of all Mexicans and she would take care of me in times of need.

Back on 1531 when the Spaniards were colonizing Mexico and changing the culture of the indigenous people, there was an indian who only spoke Nahuatl named Juan Diego Cuautlatoatzin, who walked for miles and miles to go to mass (which was only in Spanish or Latin). He was so devoted to his faith that he would make the effort, spending hours going back and forth every day.

On December 9th, 1531 Juan Diego was heading to mass, crossing the hills in the Tepeyac dessert, when a beautiful young woman with dark hair and dark skin appeared to him and told him she was Tonantzin (Guadalupe in Nahuatl). She told him to go to the bishop and ask him to build a church for her in the exact same spot where they were. Juan Diego inmediately went to talk to the bishop who didn’t believe him, asking for proof.

The next day Juan Diego went back to the Tepeyac and told the Virgin of Guadalupe what had happened. She told him to cut the roses that were behind him and collect all of them in his ayate (poncho made of maguey) and take them to the bishop.(It was winter time in the desert, which for the people that have visited that hill around that date know that plants don’t grow without help, especially not roses.) He did as she advised him.

Juan Diego went to see the bishop, assuring he had a proof of Tonantzin’s existence. When he let his ayate loose, the roses fell in the ground showing the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe. The bishop built Guadalupe’s church right on the Tepeyac. Now, 480 years later, “La Virgen de Guadalupe” is displayed in a church called “Basilica of Guadalupe” right by the foot of Tepeyac’s hill. All year round, she is visited by thousands of believers.

This year after 14 years it was my opportunity to visit her again. I cannot describe how heartwarming it was to be in front of her and be able to pray for my loved ones. She is an icon of our culture, her image was printed on the flags that were carried by Miguel Hidalgo in the beginning of the Independence War and by Emiliano Zapata in the Mexican Revolution. The first president of Mexico changed his name to Guadalupe Victoria in her honor.

Juan Diego was canonized on July 31st, 2002 by Pope John Paul II in the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City.

Now after all the religious talk of how much we believe in her I want to share some interesting facts I found while researching details of her story.

The fabric where the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe is has been tested many times by the best scientists in the world, including Nobel Prize winner in Chemestry in 1939 and 1949, Dr. Richard Kuhn (of Jewish origin). He found that the ink was not originated from vegetable, mineral or animal, nor any of the 111 known elements, therefore he concluded that the painting is not from a known origin.

Throughout the many tests that have been run by the image, some interesting facts have been found.
¬  The fabric where she is “ayate” (fabric made of maguey) degrades within 20 years or less. The first 116 years, she was displayed so whoever that wanted could touch her and kiss her, it was not protected from dust, humidity, smoke of candles, etc. She is now 480 years old.
¬  The stars on the blue cloth that is over her are aligned to the sky back in the day of her appearance.
¬  Her pupils show the image of what she saw while she was shown to the bishop.
¬  The temperature of the ayate is always 36.6° C the temperature of a living person.
¬  She was a victim of an attack. A man placed a bomb right underneath her and when it exploded, everything around her was destroyed but she remained intact. An iron Christ that was insfront of her bended.
This story is for you to believe or not. I would recommend you visit her church and see her closely. The science tells us how inexplicable everything about her and her existence is; it is up to you to discover how to explain her presence in your world.

Dancing Chef Stephanie

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