Animal Encounters in Central America

Our third Foreign Correspondent has returned from her travels! Mary, her husband, and her two children traveled to Central America this winter. We outfitted them with a suitcase full of Tea before they left, asking them to share their adventures with us upon their return. Below is part three of their adventure. To learn more about her family’s adventures, check out her The World is a Book blog.

Family Trip to Mexico

During our excursion, we visited the country’s only zoo despite our limited time in Belize.   The Belize Zoo was established in 1983 as a haven for animals used in a forest documentary.   In time, it became a refuge for animals that have been orphaned, rescued, or donated from private owners.

This is unlike any zoo we’ve ever visited.   It currently houses over 150 different animals all native to Belize. Animals lived in thick landscapes much like their natural habitat instead of concrete cages.  The enclosure fences were shorter.  We were able to see most of the animals up close. On some exhibits, we could have reached in and touched them.  Of course we were tempted, but didn’t.

Family trip to Mexico

The zoo was so large, we had to come back a second day to see the rest of the animals. There were no giraffes or elephants here – much to my kids’ disappointment at first.  Instead, we were instead treated to animals we have never heard of or seen before. Ever heard of a tapir (Belize’s national animal that looks like an anteater), a Jabiru stork, a quash (racoon relative) or a motmot (bird)?

Family Trip to Mexico

We also had the opportunity to visit a monkey exhibit in Roatan, Honduras during this trip. I was particularly nervous of letting my kids step inside but was assured the monkeys were safe.  Once inside, the monkeys instantly clamored to find the nearest arm or shoulder to climb on.

Family Trip to Mexico

These animal encounters were one of the trip highlights for our kids.  They were introduced to new animals and learned about the importance of their native habitat.  These were memorable experiences that certainly fostered their love and appreciation for animals.

Visit our Studio T blog tomorrow to learn about the family’s experience in Mexican markets.

The Temple of Masks

Our third Foreign Correspondent has returned from her travels! Mary, her husband, and her two children traveled to Central America this winter. We outfitted them with a suitcase full of Tea before they left, asking them to share their adventures with us upon their return. Below is part two of their adventure. To learn more about her family’s adventures, check out her The World is a Book blog.

Masks in Mexico

In Kohunlich, the most impressive site was the pyramid-like Temple of the Masks. The center stairs were flanked on each side by three levels of sculpted stucco masks at about 6-8 feet high each.  They were believed to represent the Maya Sun God “Kinich Ahau”.  The diverse faces were also thought to represent ancient Kohunlich rulers.

The giant masks were magnificent and remarkably preserved considering they were built around 500 AD.  Some of them still had hints of their original color.  The faces were the only three-dimensional areas.  There were many symbolic messages on the masks with many different interpretations.   We saw the masks up close by climbing the steep staircase.  It was worth the climb to the top for some spectacular views of the forest canopy.

 

View in Mexico

In order to keep up our kids’ spirit of exploration, we engaged them in some activities. We asked them to identify items they saw around the masks and what its meaning could be. Travel after all is a learning experience.

Masks in Mexico

My husband and I knew that visiting the ruins would be a challenge to hold our kids’ interest. They kept themselves occupied by looking for animals and exploring hidden corners.  Sometimes, kids have more important things to discover.

Visit our Studio T blog tomorrow to learn about the family’s animal encounters in Central America.


Exploring Mayan Ruins and Temples

Our third Foreign Correspondent has returned from her travels! Mary, her husband, and her two children traveled to Mexico this winter. We outfitted them with a suitcase full of Tea before they left, asking them to share their adventures with us upon their return. Below is the first part of their adventure. To learn more about her family’s adventures, check out her The World is a Book blog.

Mexico is expecting a record number of tourists in 2012. This is due to the myth of the December 21 apocalypse prophecy based on an ancient Maya calendar.  While we’re not one of the doomsday tourists, our family did visit Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula and the Maya ruins on a recent trip.


Family Trip to Mexico

We chose the Kohunlich (pronounced KOE•HOON•LEECH) archaeological zone to explore.  It was located near the town of Chetumal, about five hours from Cancun and two hours from Costa Maya.

To get there, we took a long tour bus ride that went through many small towns.  Our guide pointed out schools and churches along the way.  We also saw kids selling items on the streets.  It was a good eye opener for our kids, at ages 6 and 9, to see how kids their age lived in this part of the world even if it was only a glimpse.

When we finally arrived, Kohunlich felt mystical and offered some of the region’s best preserved ruins. It was completely surrounded by a lush, tropical jungle where it was eerily quiet at times.  It was remote enough that it wasn’t swarming with tourists.  Its name was adapted from the name “Cohoon Ridge” after the abundance of Cohoon palms throughout the area.

Trip to Mexico with Kids

The ancient city was full of fascinating religious and residential structures to explore – a sunken palace, an acropolis, a ball court, courtyards, temples and expansive plazas.  Archaeologists believed this used to be a regional trading center between 300 – 1200 AD.

Family Trip to Mexico

Kohunlich was elaborately planned with stuccoed buildings mostly painted in red.  It was amazing to see how large they were and the effort it took to build them during their time.  Even with trees and plants enveloping crevices of the structures, we could still envision the grandeur.

We also did an interesting exercise with our guide.  He asked us to close our eyes and imagine being transported back to when this ancient city was thriving with life and visualize their daily routines.  He then played instruments that imitated bird and animal sounds of the jungle.  It provided a different perspective to experience the ruins.

While these ruins involved a lot of walking, the plaza was perfect for kids to run around in!

Family Trip To Mexico

Visit our Studio T blog tomorrow to hear about the family’s adventures in the Temple of Masks.


Tea’s Top 5 Favorite Styles to Buy on Sale

At Tea, we’re passionate about design and style. We get excited to create new collections and to see our hard work come to fruition.  Though we love what each unique items brings to our collection, we’d be lying if we didn’t admit we have some favorites.

Right now, we’re offering an extra 30% off sale, and we wanted to make sure you didn’t miss out on the best deals.  Below is a list of the top 5 staff picks from our Tea sale.

girls dress

1) Paso del Tiempo Dress– Easter is just around the corner, does your little girl have dress yet? We recommend our Paso del Tiempo Dress in Cornflower. This sweet style will only put you back $17, who could resist?

sneaker

2) Simple Sneakers– Truly a timeless sneaker in 4 different styles and colors.  At originally over $40 a pair, you can now get these hot kicks for less than $20 a pair during our extra 30% sale.  Stock up for summer and back-to-school, because let’s face it, your kids will always need sneakers.

boy's wardrobe set sale

3) Caballo Y 62 5-Piece Set– We currently have 3 boys wardrobe sets on sale.  With the extra 30% off discount, you and get these sets for about $60 each! Buy all three for next fall and have your son set for back-to-school in style.

women's sweater sale

4) Las Casa Cardi– If you walk into our Tea Studio on any given day, at least one person (if not more) is wearing our Las Casa Cardi.  This sweater looks luxurious enough to wear out to a party but is comfy enough you’ll want to wear it around the house.  Either way you wear it, you’ll be sure to fall in love with it.  And marked down from$220 to less than $80, this sweater is a steal!

girls sale poncho

5) Dulce Sarape Poncho– This style is multi-season and can be worn during Spring, Fall, and Winter.  Fashion it with short sleeved tops or long-sleeve turtle-necks- it can be worn whenever your little citizen is looking to make a statement.  At $37, this deal cannot be passed up.

Whatever you decide to purchase, be sure to act fast! Inventory is selling out quickly. Use promo code EXTRA30YAY in order to get an additional 30% off sale items. This offer expires Thursday at 11:59 pm PT. No adjustments on previous purchases. Explore our sale for girls: http://bit.ly/uWjrRV and boys: http://bit.ly/sB9xMf.

Share your all-time favorite Tea items in the comments section below.

 

Spring Fashion Report: Photoreal Florals

Nothing says Spring more than some photoreal florals. We cultivated the best of the best below for your viewing pleasure.

floral botanical photo real dresses tunic tops

from top to bottom, left to right: Karen Walker, Stella McCartney, Tea’s Jungle Flower DressDries Van NotenPrada, Mary KatrantzouBasso & Brooke, Peter Som, Jill SanderPeter Som, Jill Sander. View more photoreal prints on our Pinterest.

Liven up your wardrobe with these bright prints. For the bold stylistas, mix your florals with prints and colorful solids.  If you’re a little scared of this trend, pair your floral tops with black skinny jeans or a nude pencil skirt. Either way, you’re sure to make a fashion-forward statement with these photoreal prints.

What’s your take on photoreal florals? Share your thoughts about how you’d wear this style in the comments section below.

Behind the Design: Sunprints

Behind the Design Wednesdays: Every week Tea writes about our designers’ inspiration for our current collection of clothing. Explore all of our Behind the Design posts.

My very talented partner in design, Amber got really creative with the way she created prints for Bali. We loved the photo real trend we were seeing in prints and graphics. To catch the light and airy feel of Bali, she used sun prints to recreate the gorgeous botanicals we saw on our trip.

botanical floral sun print

sun print tunic shirt dress

These designs just feel like Spring.  We imagine wearing them on a stroll to your neighborhood boutique or playing with your kids in the park.  How will you be wearing this style? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.