Thursday, November 29, 2012

WAAAHHH!!!

It's time to go home. Our flight is at 9am tomorrow so we'll be leaving here by 6am. I know I've said this before, but it bears repeating...it should be illegal to have to be up that early.

I can't believe how fast the time has gone. An old cliche, I know, but it's true.

Today has been filled with packing and deciding what to leave behind so we don't have to pack it along next trip. Can you believe we're going home with far less than we came down with? We could probably fit everything into one suitcase. I had to make a quick trip uptown to pick up a bottle of Xtabentun to take home. Laundry and final housecleaning had to be done, but didn't because of the never ending parade of well wishers.

We had an impromptu supper, al fresco, at neighbour Liz's. Neighbours Owen and Bindi joined us. Food was shared, drinks enjoyed, hugs freely given. We've been so blessed to have been given the neighbours that we have.

"Don't worry about washing your bedding, I'll take care of that."

"Towels need to be done, as well? I'll do those, too."

"We'll wash your floors and take care of XYZ."

I hate that they're taking care of my last minute things but if I had tried to skip out of the get together, they would have grabbed me and hauled me back outside. So I thanked them as graciously as I could and enjoyed our last night together.

According to our daughter, the temperature at home is -5,000,000.

WAAAHHH!!!

Monday, November 26, 2012

A-Shopping We Will Go

Neighbour D was incredulous when I told her, last week, that I'd never been to the cruise ship markets so we made plans to go this morning. D has mad language skills and became fluent in Spanish in an amazingly short time so she's a good person to have around when dealing with situations requiring more than basic Spanish. She's able to converse with the vendors to let them know we're not cruisers so "please don't charge us tourist prices." I could say it but her fluency makes her sound more believable than if I tried to tell them.

There are two markets set up for the cruisers. One is set up just outside the Autoprogreso station. I don't know where the other one is but it seemed as though it was only a couple of blocks from the other one. We walked to it and I blindly followed D.

My goodness! What a selection of goodies! Some of it is the same old, same old but most of the tables had similar, but different, products. Jewellery, for instance. One had shells, one had beads, one had silver. Same with pottery, clothing, knick knacks. Same products but with many variations.

I bought 3 wooden carvings. These two are on the long wall that form the living room and kitchen.


The vendor told me what each of them represented. One is the god of love but I can't remember which one and I forget what god the other carving is of.

This guy got lots of attention as I walked around the market with him. Many other carving vendors wanted to look at him and asked what I paid for him. Check out his snake head foot. What you can't see is that he's carved on both sides. He's probably meant to be hung in a window or from the ceiling. He lives on a small, high space between the washroom and our bedroom.


He replaces this lovely painting that I received from Theresa . I've put it in the kitchen and it helps to fill another large space though I still need something else. It's a pretty big area, as you can see.


I also bought some small gifts for the grandkids.

We didn't get to all the stalls. D's daughter is visiting and came along, too. Between what we all bought, we were fairly loaded down. We travelled like the locals and hauled our treasures home on the bus.

I'm looking forward to going back on our next trip down.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Grey Cup Sunday

Today was a big day in the world of Canadian football. The Grey Cup is to the CFL what the Stanley Cup is to the NHL. (*snarky comment...*Remember them? Spoiled brats, all of them. Oops, did I type that out loud?)

We started a tradition the first November we were here by inviting one of our neighbours over to watch it. We're one of only a few in the complex with Canadian TV. This year, we decided to invite a bunch of our neighbours in. I asked everyone to bring a botana and we would also order pizza. Well. Everyone brought more than one goodie so we didn't need to get pizza, after all.

I was cheering for Calgary but, sadly, they lost. I don't really understand football but even I could see that they got outplayed by Toronto. So, congrats to the Argos on a job well done.

We managed to cram 15 people into our little place along with all the food. The living room was stuffed but it was so much fun. It's like being part of a big family. Those who love football were in front of the TV and those who didn't broke off to a little side group and chatted. Lots of laughter seemed to be the order of the day and everyone enjoyed the get together.

We plan on making this an annual event.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Local & Foreign Artisans Market

This is the event a bunch of us went to this morning. It was held at the Bamboo Beach Restaurant from 9 to 11am.

There were lots of neat things, all handmade. Carvings, jewellery, leather change purses/keychains/bookmarks, knitted and crocheted shawls, paintings, ceramics, items to help support the food bank and probably a couple other things I can't remember.



I bought these necklace/earrings sets for myself. (Sorry for the crappy pictures. A photographer I'm not). Oh my goodness. This guy had a fantastic selection of jewellery, all handmade by himself. It was hard to decide what I liked best. The feature I really like about these is that the clasp is that silver circle and bar just above the 3 dangles. The traditional closures that require one to reach behind their necks is a PITA. Of course, it's possible to bring traditional closures to the front but, depending on how a necklace is put together, it can affect how it lies. With my bum shoulder, this kind of closure is perfect!

I also bought a small tub of peanut butter and this very cool purse.



It's crocheted and made with pop/beer can tabs. This is a well constructed bag. The crocheting is nice and tight and even. Whoever made it knows what they're doing. I bought it at the table supporting the Chicxulub food bank. For my Merida/Progreso readers, if you care to, you can save your tabs and donate them to the ladies who do this work. Email me for the contact person's details.

I overheard that this might become a regular event, occurring on the third Thursday of every month. I can't confirm this but it would be great if it did.

After shopping, we all had lunch at the Bamboo. Everyone's meals were delicious, as always. Then it was home to relax. Shopping is hard work, after all.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

When it Rains

Today was cool with lots of drizzly rain this morning. We just hung out at the condo and I took advantage of the cooler weather to do a deep clean on the laundry room.

While it hasn't been overly hot while we've been here, it wasn't a job I wanted to tackle until it was significantly cooler. I don't particularly enjoy getting hot and sweaty.

We use the laundry room for storage and have one of those heavy duty plastic clip-together shelves that don't require any tools to assemble. Everything got pulled off the shelf, wiped down, sorted and re-organized. I discovered I need a couple of bins and hooks to tidy things up even more.

On the bottom shelf, we have a single blow up mattress that we brought down and stored rolled up. When I moved it, a bunch of little dark bits fell out. It looked like mouse poop. I took the mattress outside and unrolled it, unsure of what I might find. Nothing. Nada. I wonder if the little bits were bug eggs.

I also did a deep sweep and mop of the floors and a load of laundry. I spent most of the afternoon working on my Spanish lessons that I brought with me and doing some web surfing.

It's still chilly. We get the welcomed Gulf breezes blow through our condo so it always stays nice and cool even on the hottest days. But, on days like today, the breeze isn't so welcome. Tonight I'm sitting here with sweats and a fleecy jacket on. I could close the windows but that makes it too stuffy in here.

So that was my day. Nothing too exciting but it sure feels good to have that job done.

Meeting Sharon Helgason

Today I had the pleasure of meeting Sharon Helgason, a dynamo who lives in Chicxulub. Sharon is involved with many programs whose goals are to improve life for the local people. Among them are the Food Bank in Chicxulub, education, the old folks' home, providing a monthly food package for about 90 families, Christmas hampers and a breakfast program.

This morning a group of us went to her house to wrap Christmas toys which will be distributed closer to Christmas. I forget how many gifts we wrapped but I think it was around 150.

I'm glad I went. It gave me a much better understanding of what's needed and what's not really practical. An example of an impractical toy is anything the requires batteries. While battery operated toys are very cool, batteries is an expense that many families just can't afford.

She also hosts a conversation hour where Spanish and English speakers can get together and learn each others' language. There was a meeting tonight and there will be another on Wednesday. I'm not sure if it's twice a week all the time or only through the winter. There was only one Spanish speaker there tonight but I was told that there are usually several.

It was fun and informative. I'm hoping to go again on Wed.

In unrelated news, we had a mosquito in the house last night. omg. That little bleeper was relentless. I had several bites before going to bed and received several more while I was trying to go to sleep. I finally couldn't take it anymore and got up. Armed with a fly swatter, I laid in wait for it. Victory was finally mine at 2:30am. But Ms Mosca managed to get 11 jabs in before meeting her demise.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

How Did I Get on Facebook?

In the past week I've acquired a good number of hits from Facebook. I have no idea why. I don't have an account with them. I checked with my kids and none of them have linked me.

This is the first time I've seen FB in my referring URLs and sites. The only thing I can think of is that someone liked my blog enough that they chose to share me. Since I don't "do" Facebook I haven't a clue about how it all works and if there might be another reason FB is showing up in my stats.

Anyone have any thoughts?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Feria Yucatan 2012

This afternoon a group of us went to the state fair, Feria Yucatan. I've been wanting to go since our first November here but it just never worked out.

We took the Autoprogreso. Tickets are 65 pesos each for the round trip. The bus from Progreso runs Fri, Sat and Sun. Departure times from the depot are at the top of each hour, starting at noon and ending at 6pm. Departure from the fair grounds is 6 hours after you leave Progreso. We took the 1:00 time and had to be back at our bus for 7pm. The last bus is the only difference. It leaves the fair at 11pm, so it's a five hour stay instead of six.

Six hours is not nearly enough time. There is sooooo much to see and do. Most of the shows for today didn't start until 4:00 or later and, once we read the schedule of events, I remembered reading that on someone else's blog last year.

There is a multitude of eateries from a regular food court to the vendors selling from their carts. Lots of rides for all age groups, from adults down to the littlies. Shopping, shopping and more shopping...kitchenware, jewellery, shoes, clothes, belts, cowboy hats, trinkets. You name it, it was probably there. Games of chance with prizes that would be deemed totally unacceptable up north. I'm pretty sure the politically correct would be aghast to see toy guns and bow and arrow sets available to be won by/for children. And if you didn't want to try winning them, you could buy them!


I don't know the name of this group of riders. They were a pleasure to watch. Round and round the arena. Back and forth, weaving patterns and crossing over each other. It was beautiful. You can see the horses are running here. Can you also see that the girls are riding side saddle? (Note the gal on the white horse). I swear those young ladies must have crazy glued their bums to the saddle.


One of the filled-to-the-rafters stalls.

It was a great day but we all agreed that the day was much too short so we're considering going in again.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Happy Birthday to Me

Actually, my birthday was the 15th but I partied too late that day to post about it.

The day started with Sr B and I going for a walk along the beach. We usually only go for about 30 minutes so I didn't put any sunscreen on. Big mistake. We walked all the way to the malecon and back and were gone for 2 hours. I got burned. Fortunately, most of the red is gone and it doesn't hurt.

Neighbours Liz and Bindi planned a potluck supper party. I can't remember the last time I had a birthday party. We always do a family get together at home but it only includes our kids and g'kids. We don't have any other family up where we live. Our family do's are wonderful but there's a difference between having cake and ice cream with your children and a party with people your own age. Neither one is better or worse than the other. Just different.

I received a lovely bouquet of flowers, a bottle of Kahlua and a small bottle of Xtabentun, my new favourite sipping liquer. Along with the Xtabentun, I got a necklace with 3 small beer mugs attached that were to be used as shooter glasses. I didn't do shooters. Xtabentun is far too sweet to shoot. Instead of a party hat, I was given a kid's headband with a bow. Too cute.


Liz and Bindi went way out. They prepared enough food to feed an army. And then there was whatever each guest brought. Everybody was stuffed to the gills. Several bunches of balloons adorned the place.  A birthday cake with a question mark shaped candle for me to blow out was the finishing touch. Everyone who lives in our section of the complex was invited and everyone was able to attend.

I felt so spoiled.






Tuesday, November 13, 2012

My Merida Adventure

This morning Bindi and I headed in to Merida on the AutoProgreso. She had a couple places to go to and I tagged along because I wanted to go to Costco, one of her destinations.

The first place she wanted to hit was a jewellery store to see about having some jewellery repaired. The address said C49 X 42 y 44. She said we would get off the bus at 49 and walk from there. The rest of the address didn't say Centro and I wasn't too sure about getting off the bus along C60 but, like Sr B, Bindi seems to have an innate ability to get to wherever she's going, so I didn't question her.

We get off the bus and start walking, hitting a dead end of sorts at about C38. The dead end was a train yard. So around the train yard we went and continued. When we arrived between 42 and 44, we couldn't find a jewellery store. We're standing on the corner inspecting Bindi's city map, trying to figure out where we're supposed to be. A lady on the other side of the street walked past and then turned around to offer assitance. I am always amazed at how helpful the people here are.

Anyways, it turns out that my suspicion was right. Villas la Hacienda is it's own area, separate from Centro and we were a long way from it. I can hear my Merida readers laughing.

So we go back a couple blocks to where we'd seen a taxi parked beside a tienda. We asked the lady there if it was for hire. She checked and came back with a no. The driver was sleeping. We sat down at the little table on the sidewalk to try to figure out what we were going to do...take a bus/combi somewhere or walk until we found a cab.

A young man whom I'd put in his late 20's, came over to help us. Have I mentioned how helpful the people here are? He apologized for his bad English which wasn't as bad as he thought it was. Bindi decided she would try to find the jewellery store another day and that we would just go to Costco. We asked if there were many cabs in the area. He said no and offered to drive us there. He looked hesitant when he offered. I'm guessing that he thought we would be afraid. But Bindi and I both got a good vibe from him so we agreed. We settled on a price and off we went.

Raul said he learned to speak English by watching movies. Really? Wow! After my experience with the movie the other night, and finding out that he learned from movies, I'm sold on the idea. I might have to go buy me some movies with subtitles from the street vendors. We had a good chit chat with him. He got to practice his English and I, my Spanish.

He asked us how we came to be at his house. I think what he was really asking was, "What on earth were you two middle-aged white ladies doing way out here?" LOL The looks we got as we were walking said the same thing.

Raul dropped us off at Costco and just as he was driving off the lot, I realized that I'd left my insulated shopping bag in his van. Darn it! Oh well. I'll call it an extra tip. It's a great bag and I know that whoever gets it will love it.

Thankfully the rest of our day was without incidence.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Low Key Day

Today was pretty low key. Senor B and I went uptown to get a few groceries. It was cruise ship day.

It's pretty easy to spot the cruisers. They're dressed in their finest casual clothes. Clothes that look too new to have not been purchased specifically for the trip. They're loud. The cruisers, not the clothes. They have such a know-it-all attitude and a self-important bearing. Everything about them screams, "Look at me! Look at me!" Gah!

At the store, we decided to try some deli meat. We could see the "Now serving number..." sign but we had no idea where to get our ticket. As we were discussing what to do, the Mexican lady in front of us showed us where the tickets were. The sign said 98 but my ticket said 01. Sr. B and I tried to figure out if the sign started over at 100. The same lady said it would. We were speaking in English but the lady spoke to us in Spanish. Did she understand English or was she astute enough to decipher our dilemma? Hard to say but it does underline the need to always speak respectfully because you just never know who might be able to understand you.

We went for supper with neighbours Owen and Bindi to a little restaurant they discovered up the street a few days ago.  The botanas were plentiful. Chopped shark meat was one of them. It was actually pretty good. We had chicken fajitas as well as fish cooked in garlic. I'm not that big on fish but this was delicious. It was cooked almost crispy instead of the usual soft, squishy stuff. It may have been deep fried but, if it was, it wasn't greasy. Of course, I forgot to take pictures. We looked to see what it was called but we couldn't see a sign. I didn't get the ower's name, either. I don't make a very good reporter, do I?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Lest We Forget


The Remembrance/Veteran's Day ceremony was held at the Bamboo Beach restaurant, in Chicxilub this morning and was very well attended. Both the Canadian and American anthems were sung. The Last Post and Reveille were played via a computer. John McCrea's moving poem, "In Flander's Fields", was read and the computer provided "Amazing Grace" stirringly played on the bagpipes. The restaurant, as well as the street outside, was surprisingly quiet during the 2 minutes silence.

The restaurant provded several varieties of very tasty sandwiches after the service.

Participating in Remembrance Day has always been important to me so I was very happy to find out that a service was being held down here. This was the second year it was held at The Bamboo. I'm hoping it will become a regular thing so I can honour our veterans this way every year.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

AFAD

Tonight a group of us from the complex hired a van to take us to Merida to attend a fundraiser for AFAD. You can see their website here .

There were finger foods, desserts and drinks, including wine. After a few speeches there was music provided by a trio of girls with beautiful voices. They were accompanied by a fellow on keyboard as well as a gal with spectacular saxophone skills.

A few works of art were up for silent auction. There were also lots of smaller items to purchase...t-shirts, keychains, calendars...that sort of thing.

A moving slide-show showcased a few rescued dogs and how AFAD is working to raise awareness, especially with kids.

I recently read an article on last year's event that said the expat community wasn't very well represented. I believe there were only 7 or 9 expats. This year, the representation was much better. Shoot, there were 12 in our group alone.

The only negative to the evening? The people in the back who kept talking loudly enough that it was difficult to hear the speeches. But here's something I don't recall seeing happen in Canada...when the talking became too loud, the chatters were shushed. Those who were trying to hear would say "Shhhhh!"

I know that chatting with friends is an important part of social events but, come on, people! There'll be time for that after the speeches. Give the speaker some respect.

I enjoyed the outing but it was a very loud evening and I was glad to get back to the peace and quiet of home. Well, at least I thought there would be peace and quiet. Not so. Someone across the back alley is playing very loud music with a strong bass.

Meh. Ni modo.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Bond. James Bond

The other night, Senor B and Theresa's husband discovered they had a mutual love for 007. So, this afternoon, the 4 of us went to see the new movie at Liverpool. We lucked out in getting there just as one was starting so we didn't have to wait, at all.

Like many movies here, it was played in English with Spanish subtitles. I found myself reading the subtitles as a way to increase my Spanish skills. But then I ended up missing too much of the action so I had to force myself to ignore the subtitles.

I can sure see how subtitles are a useful tool for learning another language. Seeing the Spanish words and then hearing the proper usage in English helped me to make sense of some things.

Afterwards, we went for a quick coffee at the little cafe on the upper floor. Neither Senor B nor I can remember the name. Shame on us!

Theresa and Husband took us to the spice section which also has other items that are familiar to NOB folks. They also showed us the dried fruit that's been rolled in chili. They claim it's addictive but I have my doubts. As much as I like spicy food, this looks like it could be too much for me. However, we're not afraid to try new things (I do draw the line at bugs, guts and partially developed duck embryos) so I expect we'll give them a go sooner or later.

Senor B and I took the Autoprogreso back and forth. The young lady I sat with helped to make sure we got off at the right place. We missed it by a block but we were early so it was no big deal. To catch the bus home, we had to cross the road...3 lanes of traffic both ways. You pretty much take your life in your own hands when you cross roads here, but we managed without incidence.

Flagging down the bus is difficult at night. I suppose if we lived in the city we'd get used to what the front of the bus looks like. Since we don't, we always end up missing the first bus or two.

For the first time, I experienced the "you're white so I don't understand what you're saying" phenomenon. I asked a 20-something fellow, "Autoprogreso aqui?" He gave me the deer in the headlights look and said, "No hablo ingles." Now it was my turn for the deer in the headlights look. I said, "Pero hablo espanol," and asked him again, "Autoprogreso aqui?" He repeated that he didn't speak English. *long inner sigh* Ok.

We eventually caught a bus and made it home.

We enjoyed hanging out with Theresa and her husband. Hopefully we'll get to see them again before we head north.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A Wonderful Evening

Tonight we joined Theresa of What Do I Do All Day?  and her husband (yes, the elusive and rarely seen Husband does exist) for a play put on by the kids at TTT. You can see the info here .

Oh my goodness. It was great! I'm under the impression that the students wrote it themselves, though I may have misunderstood. I know just enough French and Spanish to get the gist of the non-English parts. It felt like most of it was in English, though, so it added to my enjoyment. Still, the non-English parts were easy enough to follow along. I think most mannerisms must be universal. Everyone knows what a wink, a booty shimmy, or a tantrum means.

The surprise love interests at the end had everyone howling with laughter and the Gangnam style dance was also unexpected.

Whether the students wrote the play or not, the performance was well done and it highly entertaining. Good job, kids!

Afterwards, we went for a bite to eat. I'm afraid I didn't get the name of the restaurant. Senor B thinks it was Amare. The food was very good and the ambience nice. The big tree growing within its walls, its canopy of branches forming the ceiling, was a unique and pleasant feature. During the day, it must feel like eating in a park.

The fun play, good food and great company all made for a wonderful way to spend our evening.



Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Girl With the Magic Fingers



Meet Sochi, the girl with the magic fingers. She's amazing.

She has a fold up table that she hauls over on a hand truck. I have no idea how far from the complex she lives but I think it must be a bit of a walk because she looks a bit tuckered when she gets here.

Senor B and I had booked her for 10am today. We've had her come a few times and she's always prompt. Today was no exception. A big "Hello, it's nice to see you again," accompanied her warm, wide smile.

Her table is almost as big as she is so we help her pull it out of the bag and get set up. Then it's down to business.

She uses a nice glide-y lotion, a metal ball with small spikes and few other gadgets that I saw but didn't take note of what they were. She uses the ball on the bottom of the feet. Eek! It made my feet twitch and I was afraid I was going to kick her!

I get a monthly massage at home so I'm used to them but she went deeper than my guy at home. There were a couple times I winced. She gave my frozen shoulder a good going over. I'm sure I'm going to hurt tomorrow.

I have a bug bite on the back of my right arm that has become very swollen. The red area is a good 4 inches in diameter. Because it's so big, she was concerned that it was a cockroach bite. Say what?! Cockroaches bite? omg. I got it during the night, along with 3 or 4 more, so I'm pretty sure it's just a mosquito bite.

A full body massage takes just over an hour and she charges 250 pesos. Much cheaper than my guy at home and every bit as good. She also has clients in Merida. I left all my business cards back in Canada but if anyone is interested, I can get her contact info. She doesn't speak a lot of English but with the help of my handy-dandy dictionary, we managed.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Quick Catch Up

Well, I'll try to make it quick. I'm not much of a talker in real life, but I can ramble on and on here.

Our flight down was uneventful. No troubles with TSA.

We had some fun coincidences happen:

1) In emailing back and forth with our neighbours, D and V, on the floor above us, we discovered that we would be taking the same flight from Houston and that Senor B and I were seated in the row behind them.

2) While sitting in Houston, Senor B remarked that a lady who walked by looked familiar. I took a look and agreed. It turns out that she was who he thought she was...none other than the lovely Natasha who owns the Cafe Pantleon here in Progreso. We had planned on taking a cab from Merida to Progreso but Natasha, who flew down on the same flight, said she would call her husband and tell him to bring the van so they could give us a ride home. Wasn't that nice of her? We don't even know her except for having eaten at her restuarant a few times. So here's a little shout out for her. The food is delicious and you won't be disappointed.

Cafe Pantaleon
Calle 31 #234 entre 14 y 16
Colonia Benito Juarez
Progreso
Tel: 969-934-0405

3) While on the plane, I had the pleasure of sitting beside a lovely lady named Mary. Turns out Mary was on her way to visit the distinguished Joanna of Writing From Merida . We chatted  about people we knew in common, she personally and me through reading Joanna's blog.
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Senor B and I haven't done too much since we arrived. The first morning here, he went to move his suitcase. He pivoted at his knees and one of them popped. So he was laid up until Sat morning. He couldn't walk very far and what little he could manage was done with a limp. He's walking normally now but he's taking it easy so he doesn't overdo it.

Friday morning I went with D and V, as well as another couple, into Merida. We had hoped there would still be some Day of the Dead activities going on but the square was devoid of any celebrations. We did a bit of shopping and then headed off to Costco for a few things. Not too much, though, because we were riding the bus.

Senor B's knee meant he couldn't go grocery shopping with me so I was picking up a few things at the little store across the street. I'm more than capable of going downtown by myself but the introvert within me kicked into high gear and I just couldn't muster the gumption to go alone. Neighbour Liz took me to Bodega on Thursday so I was able to stock the kitchen with a few things. Today, Senor B and I went uptown for a few more things. Now that I've been uptown, I can manage it on my own. How weird that I need Senor B on the initial trip.

This morning we went for breakfast with neighbours Owen and Bindi. They took us to a little restaurant they discovered. It's called Samak, located on C78. I didn't catch the cross streets but it's north of C27. Cute little place run by Gene, a very personable fellow from Oregon. He's been here for 6 years but his restaurant has only been open 3 months. He made eggs benedict, which isn't on the menu, for Bindi. The rest of us had the all-you-can-eat buffet. Everything was very good.

There was a big revival meeting this morning, at the soccer field next door to the complex. I loved hearing the older hymns I remember from my youth. They were sung with the harmony that makes them so stirring. I'm guessing there were a dozen big Greyhound-type buses that had brought people in.

Ok. That's enough. I said "quick." You got the condensed version of the past few days. I really should have written something daily but my introversion of the past few days made even blogging difficult. I will try to be more diligent over the next 3 weeks.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Tickets Have Been Bought

After several tense weeks of not knowing when Señor B's shift change would start, due to his new position at work, we've finally been able to book our tickets. But because we didn't know when his new shift would happen, we missed out on a great deal with Continental. Oh well. Ni modo.

Usually we take a red eye from our home airport to Toronto and then to Cancun. Then the bus from Cancun to Mérida and then a cab to Progreso. It takes us a full 24 hours to get from our house here to our condo and makes for a very long and arduous trip.

This time, we're doing things a bit differently. We're going to fly with Continental instead of WestJet. We'll leave from our home airport, connect in Houston and then fly to Mérida. The flight is a bit more but we also factored in the bus ride to and from Cancun as well as a night's stay in Cancun, which we always do the night before we leave México, to ensure we don't miss an early morning bus from Mérida. We've heard stories of bus schedules being changed without any notice, leaving passengers in a bind. We prefer not to have our adrenaline pumping too hard first thing in the morning.

Going with Continental will make our travel time quite a lot shorter, about 15-18 hours each way. That might sound like a lot to most, but when you practically live in the friggin' tundra like we do, it's just the way it is.

The only concern I have is going through US security. Señor B always sets off the alarm because of his hip replacements. The TSA has a reputation for being rather intolerant. Señor B doesn't think he needs a letter from his doc about his hips but I think it would be wise to have it. We've never encountered any problems but we haven't gone through US security since his operations. I guess we shall see what happens.

So!...all of that to say...we'll arrive to Progreso late evening of Oct 30 and leave early morning Nov 30.  I can't wait!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Home Safe and Sound

First off, I have to apologize for not posting about our safe arrival home. I'm touched that some of my fans were concerned enough to email me to see if things were ok. Thank you.

We arrived to our home airport late afternoon Sat, March 24 and drove home that day. The weather was nice and it was such a treat that sunset wasn't until almost 8:30pm instead of the 6:30pm that it was when we left the beginning of March. It made the long drive home much more pleasant - more driving in the light instead of the darkness. I love Daylight Savings.

The following Saturday, I made the 5.5 hour drive to my mom's to look after her while she recovered from surgery. She's doing well and I came home yesterday.

I had only one week to put my house back in order after being gone for a month, prepare it for me being gone another 2 weeks and make (and shop for) a menu plan to make freezer meals for Momsie so she doesn't have to worry about that for some time. She has to take things easy for a while so having meals already prepared is as simple as taking them out of the freezer and reheating.

Momsie has internet but I felt that I was there to visit with her, not be on the computer. Plus I was busy cooking and baking. And crocheting. And doing jigsaw puzzles. *grin* So the end result is that I didn't get to posting that Señor B and I had made it home ok.

Now we're all anxiously awaiting the desperately needed rain that's in the forecast.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Last Day Here

Pretty slow day today. We had massages again this afternoon. Oh man. My massage guy at home has competition. The only negative is that she uses a fairly heavy oil and you feel like a grease pit afterwards. And she won't let you shower for an hour after. I guess the scented oils need time to work their magic.

I tend to not be chatty when I'm getting a massage. I like relaxing and finding my place of Zen. But Sochi and I did trade a few words. She doesn't speak a lot of English and asked me about a couple English words and I asked her about a couple Spanish words.

Today is our last day here. We head into Cancun tomorrow afternoon so that we can catch a 7am flight Sat. The day was mostly spent doing up laundry and organizing a few things. We have a bit of left over food...a couple eggs, jam, PB, an onion, a little bit of oatmeal and pancake mix, that sort of thing...so S upstairs will take it to the soup kitchen. They don't mind open packages, which is nice. I hate throwing out perfectly good food but so many places won't accept open packages.

We don't have a phone to call Gustavo for a ride so we emailed him. No answer yet. We might have to borrow a phone in the morning. Hopefully we find a ride so we don't have to hitch hike...lol.

While we've been sweltering in the heat, the folks back home have been dealing with a whopper of a snowfall. Up where we live, snow at the beginning of June is uncommon but not unheard of. So snow at the end of March isn't unexpected, in the least. Still, we had hoped to escape it, especially since it's been an uncharacteristically warm winter and the temps have been well above freezing most of the time that we've been here. We arrive to our home airport about 5:30pm and had planned on making the 3 hour drive home that night. Depending on how things are when we land, we may wait until the next day.

Anyways, cross your fingers that we find a ride into Merida to catch the bus and that we don't arrive to ADO to find out our scheduled time has been cancelled.

Hasta luego.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Paying our Fideicomiso

About a week before we left Canada, we received a bill from Scotiabank Inverlat for our annual fideicomiso payment. There was some discrepency between what they were requesting and what we believed we had already paid so we had our lawyer look into it. She finally got it straightened out so today we went into Merida to make the payment.

We had no address for the bank. All our lawyer told us was that it was on Paseo Montejo, across from the Museo Canton. Senor B didn't seem convinced that I could get us there and back. Oh, ye of little faith.

We took the Autoprogreso in and got off at Chedraui. We hailed a cab but he was in the far lane. We watched him turn the corner, cut through the parking lot and come around for us. Excellent! Step one completed.

In the best Spanish I could muster, I told him where we wanted to go. He got us to the Museo but we couldn't see the bank. He drove down the street a bit farther and came up the other side of the street. We found it! Step two done. Btw...Scotiabank is across from the Palacio Montejo. Now we know.

We had to buzz to get to the upstairs office to see the accountant. Hurray for Spanish. I was able to tell the man on the other side of the intercom why we were there and he let us in.

We didn't see the accountant. Instead it was a young lady who was probably his assistant. Our lawyer said we might end up seeing her. She did some calculations and came up with a price that was 700 pesos higher than what the accountant had emailed our lawyer who had then forwarded it to us. Fortunately, we'd had the foresight to print off the emails. I showed them to the lady who then showed them to the man working in the same room. He confirmed the price in the emails. She prepared the paper we would need to present to the teller and, with that in hand, it was back downstairs to pay.

We weren't sure who we had to pay it to. The gentleman at the front desk looked at it and sent us to a lady in an office. She looked at it and sent us out to the teller. The teller looked at it and took our money. Step three done and the main mission accomplished.

Now we had to find our way back to Progreso. No problema. All we have to do is get down to the Autoprogreso depot downtown. That required crossing the street and looking for a bus that said Centro. Done.

We decided to have some lunch while we were downtown. We stopped at Cafe Habana, on the corner of 62 and 57. At least I think it's 57. Definitely on 62. We had a fabulous waiter who had a wonderful sense of humour and who spoke very good English. The Habana clubhouse with potato salad that we both decided to have was delicious. The cost was a bit higher than the more mom and pop style restaurants but it was still reasonable. Two clubs, two beers and a coke came to 256 pesos. The restaurant was clean and the wait staff attentive. We would eat there again.

After lunch we continued on our way to the bus station. Right across the street from Plaza Grande, on C62, is a great little ice cream store that we almost always hit when we're in the city. I have no idea what the name of it is but they always have pastel pink chairs outside. It was hot today so we decided to get a small treat to enjoy in the shade in the park. That sure hit the spot. As we were relaxing in the shade, cooling off, I watched the many police officers who walked or drove by. Those black uniforms, in the heat, must be brutal. I wished I could have bought them all an ice cream.

We boarded the bus and headed home. Mission accomplished! And almost all of it in Spanish, too. Huzzah!

Monday, March 19, 2012

People Watching

Today was a ho hum, totally boring day so I decided to write about one my favourite things, people watching. Yesterday's trip to Merida provided plenty of people to watch.

One of the things I've noticed here is, that for the most part, little girls dress like little girls instead of trashy pop-star wannabes. Yesterday being Sunday, many girls were in lovely, big skirted dresses. Some girls were dressed more casually in shorts and a t-shirt. Still, I saw a couple of young ladies about 6 and 8 years old with shoes more suitable for adults. Mules with a 2-inch heel on an 8 year old? I'm not a fan.

I watched well-dressed ladies walk by, their noses in the air. "Sniffing pies in Heaven" is the phrase we used when I was growing up. Another mom with a muscle shirt and a mullet coaxing her little son along. Young ladies dressed to be noticed.

One guy had on a sports uniform and was hurriedly making his way to somewhere. Young men in skinny jeans and those ridiculous shoes with the long toe that curls up after much walking, making them look like elf shoes.

Faux hawks, dread locks, hair bows. Something else I've observed, women here all have long hair. Older ladies might have a shorter 'do but it's still long enough to get a roller or curling iron in it. I have yet to see a pixie cut on anyone. The younger ladies all have hair at least shoulder length and long enough for a ponytail.

Shortly after we got to the square, Theresa and I saw a long legged beauty with waist length blonde hair, high heels and a shoulder baring top. She was attracting the attention that she had dressed for. Later, she was joined by a friend who, upon closer observation, was a man dressed as a girl. He had on a little black sequined dress and black heels. His hair was a bit shorter than shoulder length and had the most beautiful curls. His very flat, muscular chest and the beginnings of a 5:00 shadow gave him away.

Theresa and I finally concluded that Blondie was also a man. We couldn't see an Adam's apple, but the hair was definitely a wig and the body shape lacked the softness of femininity. We watched Blondie talking with a man and it appeared that Dude was flirting. Or perhaps he knew Blondie. We weren't quite sure. Then it appeared that Dude finally figured out that Blondie wasn't a female and he got a slightly embarassed look, lowering his head and shaking it as Blondie walked away. It was really quite comical.

Ah, yes. People watching. Always interesting and often entertaining.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Day with Friends

I awoke this morning to Senor B poking me on the shoulder. "It's 7:30," he says. I'm so not a morning person but today was different. Today we were meeting Theresa in Merida. After a breakfast of pancakes that Senor B had already started before I was up (*he's* a morning person), and a bit of tidying, it was off to the AutoProgreso.

As we pulled into the station, right at 10:00 as I had told Theresa, I could see her waiting for us. It gave my heart a lift to see a familiar face in a city that's still not comfortable for us. We haven't had the pleasure of meeting Husband yet. I think he must be afraid of us. Maybe I shouldn't have said that my hair looked like Scary Spice's the other day...lol. Hopefully we'll get to meet him soon.

Being Sunday, the streets around the Plaza Grand (?) were closed to vehicular traffic and there were many vendors in the square. I bought some gifts for the g'kids. Senor B never spends money on himself when we go on holidays but he bought his 4th muscle shirt of the trip. I guess he really likes them.

While we were wandering around, we ran into Paul . I hadn't seen him since the Bloggers Convention in Nov 2010. I was surprised that he remembered us. What a memory he has! Next thing we knew, Wayne was right behind us. I didn't get a chance to say hi to him but I'm not sure he would have remembered me since I hadn't seen him since the 2010 conference, too. I did chat a bit with the two people who were with him.

Theresa asked us if we'd been in the Casa de Montejo. When we said no, she said, "Oh, you HAVE to see it." She was right. It's located right across the street from the plaza. The front is beautiful with its old, ornate rock carvings but that's only a precursor to what's inside. It has many antiquities as well as handcrafted scenes from Mexican history. Photographing isn't allowed so you'll have to believe me when I say it's well worth the time to look at it.

After Theresa left, we stopped for lunch at one of the tents on the street. We had tortas which were ok. A bit too much fat for my taste. It's a texture thing. I get grossed out when I bite into a piece of rubbery gristle.

The bus back to Progreso was packed. It's rare that it's as full as it was today. We learned that tomorrow is a holiday in honour of Benito Juarez' birthday. This being a long weekend would explain all the people on the bus. Many people come out to Progreso, from Merida, on weekends, especially a long weekend.

Supper was at Eladio's with D and V. Eladio's is along the malecon which was bustling with more people than we've ever seen there. Apparently summers are even more packed. Yikes! Anyways, supper was wonderful. The guys each had a stuffed fish dish and D and I had shrimp stuffed with cheese and then wrapped in bacon. It was delicious but quite rich. Prices seemed just a bit on the high side but not outrageously so. We would eat there again.

It was a great day spent with some of our favourite people.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Funky Market

This morning we went to the neighbouring town of Chelem. There's a cute little restaurant called Tacomaya. A few times a year, they host an event called The Funky Market. Various vendors are there with their wares...jewelery, food, clothing, aprons, tablecloths, paintings. Most everything is handmade. The place had a farmer's market atmosphere.

I picked up a couple of necklaces and an apron for myself and a really cute trinket box for our g'daughter's birthday. We bought a pannini to share and a couple of cokes. The sandwich was delicious...spicy but not too spicy.

Senor B and I are getting pretty adept at getting around without a vehicle. Within the more immediate area, anyways. We're not ready to tackle the bus system in Merida yet. We took a combi out to Chelem and back without any problems.

My still very limited Spanish has been useful. I was able to ask the driver if he would be stopping near Tacomaya. I was also able to catch tiny snippets of conversation on the combi. That was pretty cool, especially when the little boy behind us commented on the group of 4 young men who got on. "Oooooo, mucho muchachos."

The afternoon was spent down at the pool. It was quite warm today so there were lots of people down there to visit with.

Tonight we watched the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Can't think of a better way to spend the evening than with Captain Jack Sparrow. *grin*

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Flip Flops and Fun

This morning we went uptown to do some poking around in stores, just to see what different ones had to offer. Window shopping. One thing I noticed is that Mexicans sure do seem to love their flip flops. My goodness. It seemed as if every other store was selling them. And the selection is incredible. Everything from the same old same old to some all tarted up with rhinestones. Regular flats to heels and every colour you can imagine.

We wandered around for about an hour but didn't buy anything, though I did see a beautiful quartz domino set that I might pick up another time.

A quick stop at the grocery store for a few things, plus some window shopping, and then it was back to the condo where we went for a quick dip in the pool before lunch.

D and V had organized a games night for tonight. Supper was potluck botanas under the palapa by the pool. The plan had been to play games there, too, but it was too breezy so we all went back up to D and V's place where Senor B and I learned how to play a dominoes game called Mexican Train. I tied for first place. Talk about beginner's luck. We would have played a tie breaker round but everyone was tired so J and I took the tie and we all called it a night.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Great Day at the Beach

Senor B and I spent the day with G, a lady I met online. G lives here for several months of the year. She lives outside of Progreso and came to pick us up since we're without wheels this trip. She said she'd heard the name of the complex and has driven past it many times but only just realized, about a week ago, where it was.

She no sooner got here and Roberto, who sells fish from the trunk of his car, came. He usually comes on the weekends but we hadn't seen him since we arrived here. We thought perhaps he wasn't coming anymore. We love his sea bass so we were very happy to see him.

G got the 10 cent tour of our condo and the grounds. She was quite impressed with the quality of everything.

Then it was off to her beach house that she and her husband had had built. What a lovely place.

There was a red flowered bouganvillia by the old wooden front door, creating a small alcove. The kitchen, dining and living room are all open to each other. Two walls look like rocks but not rough rocks. They're smoother but still textured. There are little beachy touches throughout...the wavy backplash in the kitchen, a shell pattern stamped into the patio and columns, real shells tastefully displayed on the tops of the planters, in bowls and on shelves.

Upstairs, they have a shower that's somewhat open to the outside that we found absolutely delightful and intriguing. The leaf stamped into the hallway floor looked like it was stamped from a real leaf.

The 10 cent tour of her place gave me some decorating ideas for ours, especially for the very long wall that we have.

She has no back yard, to speak of. It consists of the patio, a pool and a small area of sand. Sitting on the patio, looking out towards the Gulf, you see the vegetation at the edge of her property and the blue/green water beyond that. The sandy beach is beyond the scrub trees but you can't see it. It's a unique look from the usual beach view.

G served us lunch of garlic bread and the salsa that's typical of the area. Simple fare but filling and delicious. She also added garlic to the salsa. Senor B and I love garlic so G is a gal after our own hearts.

Good company, good food and good conversation mixed with the gorgeous view made for a wonderful afternoon.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Has Blogging Opened up the Desire to be Creative?

This was one of the questions posed to me at the Bloggers Conference in Nov. My extremely introverted self doesn't do well with thinking on my feet, especially when I'm in front of a group. I've given these questions lots of thought over the past few months and decided to address them, hopefully a bit more coherently than I did at the time.

I have a love affair with language. I started reading at a very early age and, all through school, tested well above my grade level in reading and comprehension. I was a good creative writer all through school.

Raising children, my life revolved around Dr. Seuss, Rainbow Bright, Barney, don't forget your manners, do you have to go pee, birthday parties, hurry up or you'll miss the bus, no you may not have a sleepover on a school night, your curfew is 9pm, you're not leaving the house wearing that, yes you can use the truck to go to your friends. Reading was limited to magazine articles that could be finished in a short amount of time. Serious reading was of the "How to be a Good Parent" variety. Reading for leisure was all but non-existent, especially when I went back to work.

My brain has atrophied. I forget how to spell words or don't use certain words correctly. It's frustrating to see a skill I once had, faded. Yes, I hope that blogging will see a return of my ability to write creatively. I want people to take pleasure in reading what I've written.

I have an extensive blogroll and enjoy reading each and every blog on it. Some of them are literary masterpieces and I aspire to be like those writers. Others are more informal, like mine. I'm still trying to find my voice. I like the informality of my blog. I've been asked by friends and family back home, "What do you do all day?" so this is my answer to those folks.

If anyone has words of wisdom to share on how to make my blog more interesting (aside from the need to include more pictures), I'd love to hear from you. My email address is on the sidebar if you'd prefer to send your comments privately.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Ticul

After picking up our pulled pork from the little tienda across the way, we headed off to Ticul with C and F, new friends who own a condo in the complex. Ticul is about a 90 minute drive from Progreso and is known for its pottery and shoes.

After passing through Uman, where we had to ask a police officer for directions, and Manu, we arrived at the absolutely charming town of Ticul. The streets aren't very wide and we saw a large number of those tricycles with the passenger seating in front. The lack of garbage lying around was one of the first things we noticed. Perhaps the more residential areas are littered, but the main road into town, and the downtown area, were neat as a pin.

We decided to stop for lunch before we went shopping. Carmelita's Restaurant and Cocteleria was the first place we found so in we went. It's located right on the corner by the main square. There's a huge, old church that we could see across the square from the restaurant.

The food was fabulous, probably the best we've had anywhere here. F had a plate of ceviche, C had a fish dish, Senor B had garlic fish and I had garlic chicken. The botanas were plentiful and we could barely eat all our lunch. While the guys finished their beers, F and I decided to go check out the market that we had spied on our way into town but we got there only to find them closing up for the day. We got an awful lot of looks from the locals, as if we were an oddity in their town. I've read about trips to Ticul on other blogs so I was a bit surprised by the stares.

Back to the restaurant to fetch the guys and then we were off to the pottery stores. Oh my. Such a selection. Vases of all shapes, sizes and colours. Suns, moons, frogs (lots and lots of frogs), butterflies, crosses and other things to hang on the wall. Bowls, trays and coffee table decorations. Every store was just a bit different. Same, or similar, items but in different colours or shapes.

There was a beautiful metalwork wall hanging that held small pottery vases that I would have liked to have bought but the vases didn't come in a colour that worked with my decor. I also found a lovely flamingo that I wanted, since we live on the Flamingo Coast. However, it only came in a set of three and I only wanted one. I just don't have enough space for all three of them. The pretty bird that would have looked great on the top of the kitchen cupboards had to be left behind because it was too heavy. I was worried that it would pull the cupboard off the wall. So all I ended up buying were a few small decorative bowls.

Ticul is a really cool place and I hope to get back there again.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Beach and Nightlife

The weather was fantastic today. I don't know what the temperature was but they were forecasting around 29C. I'm sure it was that warm but the breeze off the Gulf always tempers the heat. Merida doesn't get the breeze that we do so it gets a lot hotter there. I don't know how the folks there survive.

We decided to go for a walk on the beach. It's so much nicer this time of year than it's been on any previous visits. The water has more green and turquoise and there isn't nearly as much seaweed on the beach. The breeze was stiff and the sun warm, the perfect combination for a nasty sunburn if a person isn't careful. I was careful. I got up close and personal with every redhead's best friend...SPF60.

We met up with another couple staying at the complex and chatted with them while we all strolled back to the laneway to the condo. Along the way, we briefly met Jessica who runs a Kite Surfing business. We haven't used her services so I can't offer a personal endorsement, but I did want to give her a mention in case anyone might be interested. Senor B and I both have bum shoulders so I doubt we'll ever be doing any kite surfing. It sure looks like a lot of fun, though.

Oh, that wind. Wanna know what it does to curly hair? Eek! Remember Scary Spice from the Spice Girls? My hair isn't as curly as hers but it was just as wild and unkempt looking. And once curly hair has gone wild, there's just no taming it. Good grief.

After we got back, we had to go for a beer and coke run. There's a cold beer store a couple blocks away and we got the coke at the little tienda across the street. It's just so darned cool to have these things nearby. I've read about street vendors who walk the streets calling out whatever it is they have for sale...fruit, veggies, bread or what have you. Sadly, we live on the back side of the complex with no sidewalk, so it looks like a back alley and the street vendors don't come our way. Imagine being able to buy much of what you need right at your doorstep!

After supper we headed uptown to see what was going on. I've read, on other blogs, about the nightlife at the parks near the bloggers' homes, so I was anticipating some music and dancing. Nope. There was nothing going on. We heard 60's music but it sounded like it was coming from a nearby building that we assumed was a bar so we didn't go over.

There were a few food vendors selling churros, fries and marquesitas. There's a place with tables where you can buy a coke and sit there, if you'd like. You can get your shoes shined. The taxi stand is there. Kids were zipping around on their skateboards and bicycles. We bought a bag of churros (my favourite treat down here) to share and sat on one of those cool two seater benches where we could face each other.

Things are so much calmer downtown in the evening. It's not frenetic like it is during the day. Because it's so much cooler in the evening, we thought this would be a better time of day to do our uptown stuff. The grocery store we've been going to was open, but the big market was not. Nor was our favourite hardware store. So I guess we'll still have to brave the heat of the day to do most of our running around.

We wandered around for a while and then headed back to the condo.

A couple of bars have opened up across the street. Luckily, being on the back side, we can't really hear much noise. Just the beat of the bass. We've gotten used to the neighbour's dogs barking at 6am so we can sleep through that, now. The bass is a new sound so I suppose it'll be a bit bothersome tonight. Thank goodness they're not open during the week.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Pampered Chef Comes to Yucatan

This afternoon I went to a Pampered Chef party at D's place. D lives on the floor above us. It was your typical PC party. Lots of good food and good company. If I understood D correctly, Aura is the first consultant in the area. And, wouldn't you know, I forgot to get her info to pass along to my Yucatan readers. Aura speaks pretty good English but her accent and rapid speech got in the way of me being able to understand her well.

Since we share our condo with others, I didn't want to buy any larger, pricier items and risk having them spirited away, so I puchased a couple of small items. I'm a consultant for Princess House so it was a bit awkward to attend since we pretty much compete directly with each other.  Still, they have items we don't and I wanted to support a fellow female entrepreneur.

In other news, we went uptown today to pick up a few groceries and to see if our bank card would work. We went to a different bank from the first 2 and we were successful in making a withdrawal. Hurray! And we were smart enough to go early in the morning to beat the heat. We were back at the condo by 10:30.

The bank we went to is near the big green building I mentioned the other day which is called City Hall, not the Municipal Building. I discovered that the school isn't housed within. It's actually in a building right beside it. That's why I got confused. I will try to be a better reporter.

The internet was down last night but you all didn't miss anything. The highlight of the day was spending the evening with another couple in the complex. Fun for us but not really worth writing about. Oh, wait. I just did...lol.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Best Day Ever

Well, in the top 10, anyways.

Yesterday, we were introduced to Sochi. Not sure of the spelling but it's pronounced so (like toe) chee. Sochi does massages, manicures and pedicures so we set up appointments for full body massages at 10am today. She asked if we were allergic to anything or if we had metal parts. She uses a magnetic something-or-other and needed to know.

Sochi lives a couple of blocks down the street from here. Friends had told her they would pick her up but they forgot. Oops. She doesn't have a vehicle so she loaded her folding table onto a hand truck and rolled it over. What a gal! She's known within the complex so someone let her in the gate. Her cheery, "Hola. Buenos dias!" at the door let us know she'd arrived.

We moved the kitchen table to make room for her bed and she went to work. ohmygoodness. She's amazing! She uses scented oils which was intriguing. She started with a menthol smelling one, moved on to a lavender one and then used something very warming on my bum shoulder. I was so relaxed and "into" the whole thing that I didn't think to ask her what she was using. I have to get a monthly massage at home to keep myself limber enough to continue working, and hers was as good as any I've had. Senor B enjoyed his massage, as well.

Sochi showed me a couple of exercises to do for my shoulder and one for Senor B for his neck. She doesn't speak much English but we managed to understand each other.

Our massages were about an hour and twenty minutes each. Wonderful fragrances and a couple exercises to do. All done in the comfort of our home. For the fabulous price of 250 pesos/$19CDN each. We gave her 600 pesos/$46CDN for the two of us. My massage back home costs me $80 for one hour. No fragrances and I have to do the travelling.

We're going to try and book her before we go back.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Productive Day

This morning we went uptown to exchange our rental money (USD) to pesos so we have money for now. Senor B tried to call our bank in Canada, via MagicJack, but he didn't have a very good connection so nothing got accomplished. Based on info we've been given about some banking glitches and procedures, we're (naively, perhaps?) confident that our situation is temporary. We're optimistic that everything will work out.

Then we went to pay our taxes at the big green building, whose name I don't remember, at the main square. I think it's called the Municipal Building, but I'm not certain. We can see that there are different things housed within its colourful walls but the only ones we can identify are the tax office and a school.

I've found that a good ice-breaker is to say, "Lo siento. Mi espanol no es bueno." "I'm sorry. My Spanish isn't good." It always makes people smile. Maybe I'm saying it all wrong and it amuses them? Anyways, they're always very helpful and patient. So I said this to the lady at the tax office as I produced the cedula catastral, the legal document needed to pay taxes.  She smiles and says, "No problem," as she takes the papers. She does her calculations, writes the fee on a sticky note and hands it all back to me. Then it's over to the cashier to make payment.

I believe taxes have to be paid by the end of Feb to avoid penalty. I have no idea if we incurred a penalty or not. We paid 263.63 pesos/$20.41CDN. Twenty bucks! For the year! If we got penalized, well, we're sure not gonna complain.

Then we walked around downtown a bit. Senor B wanted to get himself a tank top. Our friend, Dave, who came down with us in Nov, said they're much cooler to wear than a t-shirt. Senor B and I have known each other for 26 years and I've never seen him wear a tank top. He's really been stepping out of his comfort zone as he's getting older. These shirts are colloquially known as wife-beaters but, lest I use a term that isn't in favour, I Googled and learned that they're also called A-shirts, the A standing for Athletic. Ummm...Senor B and athletic in the same sentence? Ummm...sure. Why not?  LOL.

A quick stop at the market to pick up a few veggies and then it was back to the condo.

On our way out this morning, we had planned on going to Bodega to get groceries, as well. At the front gate we met up with D, who lives on the upper floor. He had errands to run this afternoon and offered to take us to the store so we took him up on that.

I've read, on other blogs, that you can call it a good day if you get 2 things accomplished. We got 5. I think we may have set a record. *grin*

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Sunday Tradition

Today was pretty uneventful but my fans back home always want to know what we're up to, so here goes.

There's a little tienda, or corner store, just across the street from the complex. Every Sunday morning, there's a young couple who come with pibil, or pulled pork. They're set up with a metal serving area, like you'd see in a buffet. It's got the recessed area where the meat is, with a warmer to keep things hot. They start selling fairly early, around 9am. We can see them from the stair area so, when it's getting close to 9, we take a look-see to see if they're set up yet. When I checked, I could see people there so I strolled on over. It looked as though they'd been open for a little while because they had less than they usually do. I guess we'll have to start checking on them a little earlier.

The gal weighs out the meat based on what you tell her you want to spend. You can also buy bread and a small bag of chopped onions and habanero sauce is included, if you want them. We pass on the hot sauce...lol. We get the 50 peso bag. It seems to me that the bag was smaller than it was in Nov and the bread was 50 centavos more, each. I hope we weren't victims of "gringo pricing". We got the bag of meat and 3 loaves of bread, each about a foot long, for 59 pesos/$4.60CAN, which was enough for both of us for lunch and one for supper so it's still an excellent price. And it's omg-delicious. This is going to become a Sunday tradition.

It was windy and cool today. I had to put on pants and a sweater. Ok, folks at home are wondering how cold could it possibly be. True, it's way warmer here than there but that north wind off the Gulf is right chilly. And it was a strong wind so, yeah, it wasn't an overly pleasant day. Since it was too miserable to go anywhere, I took care of housework...laundry, sweeping, mopping and all that other mundane stuff. Just like I would do if it was a snow day back home.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Cultural Adjustments

We finally rolled into Progreso last night at about 7:30pm after being on the go for 36 hours. Senor B worked on Thursday and we left shortly after he got home. It's a 3 hour drive to the airport, overnight flight to our connecting city, layover, flight to Cancun, bus ride to Merida and half hour taxi to Progreso. We were beat when we got to the condo and the general lack of sleep (cuz, really...who can sleep on a plane?) made us a little testy towards each other.

On our first flight, we flew with a crew that we'd flown with in November. It made us remark, "You know you're a frequent flyer when..." *grin*

My Spanish lessons paid off during our taxi ride when I was able to direct the driver to our place. It was pretty cool to be able to do that. I have a long way to go before I can say I'm even close to being proficient but being able to communicate, even in a limited capacity, makes me feel a lot less helpless.

We went uptown this morning to go to the bank and get a few groceries. Banking didn't go so well. The bank we usually go to wouldn't process our transaction. We both tried our debit cards without any luck. So we went across the street to another bank. Same thing. The only thing we can think of is that we forgot to let our bank know we were coming and they were denying the transaction. But we haven't always let them know and haven't had any problems before so we're confused. Senor B sent our bank an email so we'll see if it gets straightened out. Fortunately, we had some cash on us so we were still able to get some groceries.

Since we're not renting a vehicle we can't do a big shop like we did in the past. We picked up enough for the day plus a few other items that won't be needed each trip. Things like mayo, butter, olives. We'll have to make more frequent and smaller trips than we're used to. It's just one of those little adjustments to be made when living in another culture. And, hey, it's not like we have a whole lot of anything else to do...lol.

When we had an air-conditioned car, we would run errands whenever the mood hit. Now that we don't have that luxury, we decided that running errands earlier than 11am would be a smart thing. We were gone 2 hours and were about roasted when we got back. Another cultural adjustment to make.

There are 3 little corner stores near us so we can always go there to pick up a few things, too.

Temp today was 35C so that meant a trip to the pool in the afternoon. It was great seeing old friends and meeting some new ones.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Writing my Spanish 10 Final

Today, which still feels like tomorrow because I haven't yet gone to bed from Monday, I'll be writing my Spanish 10 final. I've been doing it through a distance learning school, what we used to call "by correspondence" back in the day.

If I had been 21 or younger, it would have cost me far less than the $500 they charge students over 21. You get a full year to complete the course. For my $500 I'm provided a teacher who I can call or email if I have questions. Lessons are submitted electronically, marked and sent back to me via the school's Dropbox. I can also submit the oral part electronically but I'm a dinosaur and have no idea how to do that, so I call the marker (not the same person as the teacher) and do it over the phone. I'm sure there are cheaper ways to learn Spanish but I need the structure of a class setting.

Arranging to write the exam has been a logistical nightmare. I requested it to be sent post mail. The local school I was having it sent to (I have to be in a supervised setting) gave me their street address which isn't the same as their mailing address. Small town = post office box. After 10 days, it still hadn't arrived and I had a devil of a time trying to track it down. Turns out it got sent back because of the wrong address.

So they've had to send it electronically. Today is absolutely the last day I have to write it. I have to have the course completed by Wed and, since I work Wed, I'm not able to write it then. So now I'll have to get a lesson from the exam supervisor on how to do the electronic oral part. GAH!

To make things even worse, the last 2 lessons were submitted to my marker last Monday. They still haven't been marked and, technically, that all has to be done before I can write the exam. I also still have to do the oral part but haven't been able to get in touch with my marker to do that.

I was on target to have this all done last week which may seem like a close shave to most others but, to my procrastinating self, is looooots of time. Aahhh...the best laid plans and all that. Oh well. I'm going to write the exam and then deal with the rest.

Soooo...if I may toot my own horn...I'm really proud of myself. I haven't told anyone my marks because I don't want to sound like I'm bragging, but I'm certain that all of you who have taken up the challenge of learning Spanish will be supportive. The lowest mark I've received through the whole course is 91%. That was on my midterm exam and it pulled my mark down to 96.5%. My goal was to complete the course with a 97 or 98, which is where I was until the midterm. I'd have to get 100% on the final and that just ain't gonna happen. I do well with reading comprehension. It's the recall to write my own stuff that suffers. Isn't midlife grand? Not! Oh well. My ultimate goal is to be proficient and I'm sure that once I've completed all 3 levels, I will be.

Anyways, wish me luck!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Preparations Have Begun

We'll be heading down in about a week's time so it's time for me to get started on things.

Digging through the stash of sunscreen, I realized that one of them had expired and the spray can of aloe (in case  for when I get a sunburn) had sprung a leak. I learned many, many moons ago, to keep liquids I travel with in ziplock bags and this hard won wisdom paid off. They were all still in the bag from our last trip down so all I had to do was wipe off the bottles and exchange the bag for a clean one. Do you know what spray aloe does when it dries? It's get all gelled. As I wiped it off the bottles, it balled up similar to the way the glue from those infernal stickers on glass items does. Happily, it was much easier to get off but it still took a bit of elbow grease.

My box of stuff-I-want-to-take-with-me doesn't have much in it. There isn't much we need, anymore. Well, actually, there isn't anything we *need*. Now it's just the little things that are nice to have. Like a felt marker. And an apron. And some small Tupperware containers. Yeah, we can get everything we need down there but not all things are available at any given time. Sometimes it's just easier to get it here and bring it with us.

I still need to go buy some school supplies. We always bring some down and take them to Richard and David at Bolom Balam on C80, if we can catch them. If we miss Richard and David, we give the items to a lady in the complex who takes them to a local school.

I've been working on a couple of crocheted sweaters for kids. The second one is almost done and I'd like to get that finished before we leave so I can bring them both, too.

Had to buy a new suitcase because the retracting handle on one got damaged in a previous flight. We got one of those fancy schmancy ones with the 4 caster-type wheels. Sears had them on for half price after Christmas. Our friends, who came down with us in Nov, have them and they're just the cat's bum. We gave the old one to a friend who fills old suitcases with goodies and then sends them to her friend in Jamaica who disperses everything amongst the less fortunate.

I have to get Señor B to pull a suitcase down from the shelf so I can start packing. It seriously takes me a week to pack, even with My Packing List . I'm in awe of Señor B. He can pack in less than an hour. How does he do it? I suppose his lack of hair means no hair products needed and he doesn't wear make-up so he doesn't need to pack that. But his real secret? He doesn't worry about making sure all the other stuff gets packed. Like the sunscreen. And the "pharmacy". And the TP for forays into pay bathrooms that don't always give you enough . All he looks after is his clothes. He leaves all that other stuff up to my much more anal personality to take care of.

I have my to-do-before-we-leave list going and everything's being taken care of expeditiously so I don't have a boatload of running around to do too close to our flight date. I hate that chicken-with-no-head feeling.

Eight more sleeps til our flight and nine more until we hit Progreso. Can't wait!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Baby, It's Cold Outside!

This from the online weather site we use. For you non-Metric folks, the two scales converge at -40.

Summary

Wind chill values of minus 40 or less developing tonight. This is a warning that extreme wind chill conditions are imminent or occurring in these regions. Monitor weather conditions..Listen for updated statements.

Details

Cold Arctic air has moved into Alberta and will cause overnight temperatures to drop below minus 30 tonight. Winds of 15 km/h are forecast to persist into Tuesday morning producing wind chill values below minus 40. Wind chills will warm slightly throughout Tuesday as temperatures rise above minus 30, however, wind chills below minus 40 will return Tuesday evening. At these extreme wind chill values frostbite on exposed skin may occur in less than 10 minutes.
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Since this is supposed to last all week, this would be a good week to be much further south than here.

Friday, January 6, 2012