The Adventures of Small Town Mexico

14 Jan

In the big city parks of Mexico City, Oaxaca, and Puebla we saw pure bred dogs jogging, walking and playing with their owners. I lost count of how many Saint Bernards we saw! With average citizens having disposable income, you too can find Mexican dogs sporting adorable outfits and Halloween costumes on Instagram.

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Mexico City “Dog” Park

In Buena Vista, a small, mostly dirt-road town 12 miles northeast of Bacalar, skinny, pregnant and sometimes sickly dogs run the streets. This weekend Vetinaria Jeanette Basteri Roman is running a two-day free spay and neuter clinic thanks to a $300 donation from a generous sponsor. Eleven dogs and one cat were spayed and/or neutered yesterday. Our pup Frida was among them.

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Frida’s turn.

I’m sure most days it feels like running just to stay in place, but then we all feel like that sometimes. There was a dog in Buena Vista who recently gave birth to ten female puppies. Sadly they all died. Jeanette travels around Southernmost Quitana Roo and is making a difference.

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The conditions might be primitive but the job gets done well.

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Recovery Room.

 

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A traffic jam in front of the clinic.

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Teaching the next generation.

Part of the day included walking door-to-door trying to get folks to take advantage of this free event. It was a throwback to my HIV education and testing days. I love talking to people and seeing them show up later with their dogs was a “high five”. It was a very successful day all the way round. Thank you Doctor Jeanette. Contact us if you care to donate to future clinics.

DOS TORTAS 

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Wisdom of the Red Queen

The Road Less Traveled

7 Jan

I recently read that dogs need two thirty minute walks daily. As a result, I am now doing for the dogs what I haven’t been doing for myself, exercising.

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Hurry Mom lets go!

The road in front of our house runs parallel to the Laguna and is sparsely traveled. Luna and Frida can run off-leash and have a blast sniffing and peeing to their hearts content. Luna is afraid of strangers which makes her act all crazy and aggressive toward anyone we meet. Frida gets stupid around vehicles, so our little Mexican country lane is perfect.

 

 

Lately there’s been holiday guests at the hotelitos up the road and more construction. As a result, walking became less fun. So when I found a trail through the jungle which avoided both, off we went to explore. I do not know who cut this wonderful path or why. Perhaps the nearby campground thought its guests might use it. I have not met another hiker in the two weeks we’ve been walking and the dogs are safe chasing squirrels, agouti, or wherever their nose takes them.

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Entrance to the trail. Luna knows the way.

For me the hike is a chance to be in the moment and relish the beauty of my surroundings. I hear birdsong, my dogs and quiet. Some days I amble, others I walk hard, using my trekking poles to avoid a twisted ankle. The dogs sleep better and so do I.

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Jungle selfies.

Here’s hoping you have a place of peace and renewal and visit it often. If it’s outside and gives a sense of adventure, that’s icing on the cake. On the other hand, if you’re huddled indoors trying to stay warm, you have my blessing. Come to Bacalar.

DOS TORTAS 

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Happy Tropical New Year 2018

31 Dec

Self-reflection and the start of a new year seem to go hand-in-hand. Goals, intentions, plans, resolve, diets and exercise programs are a part of many people’s annual tradition. Not so for me, at least not this year.

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Blooming succulent.

For many years I had the tradition of making two lists.  One was my accomplishments from the past year (courses, travels, projects, books read, etc), which I would compare to my list of intentions written on that January first. The other list was my intention for the coming year which I would then review the following January. It was surprising to compare the intentions and the accomplishments on the first of each year. Something than never made either of those lists was moving to Mexico.

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The entrance to our property completed.

I have been a very driven and goal oriented person my entire life. I never thought I would simply let it all go. There are no more lists, timelines, tracking, or weighing. At least very little. Could it be because I live in Mexico? The tropics? Or because I’m retired? Probably all three.

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Daily showers and everything blooming.

This lovely Mexican culture has definitely influenced the amount of time I spend hanging out in the hammock. Don’t get me wrong, there’s much I enjoy, daily jungle walks, kayaking, painting, gardening and my new found past time, weaving. There are very few deadlines, self-imposed or otherwise, unlike having worked a government job for many years.

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Afternoon showers.

So if I were going to give a few suggestion for 2018, hey, why not? They would be – do less, relax more and spend more time with a puppy sleeping in your lap, hammock recommend but optional. Happy New Year 2018.

DOS TORTAS

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The Adventures of Frida The Mexican Street Dog

24 Dec

Does disaster really come in three’s? I hope not, but at least Frida’s run on near death experiences would be over. This blog is NOT called The Adventures of Frida the Mexican Street Dog, but lately it could be. Having lived through moquillo, (distemper) and recently choking on a dog chew. (The Dog With Nine Lives), what else could possibly happen?

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Somehow she got this down her throat.

The day after the choking scare, I took off with my neighbor and her friend Susan to visit Mahahual, a lovely village on the Caribbean about an hour away. They were on a hunt for a lobster lunch, which is in season, I wanted to hang out with them and get out of the house on a cool, beautiful Sunday. So off we went!

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A lovely view for lunch.

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Abandoned hippie van.

We found a great restaurant where they enjoyed lobster tail and I, vegan tostadas. We were on the way home when Teresa’s phone rang, Lisa was trying to reach me. Our neighbor’s crazy dog (that’s what I call him) reached under the fence and grabbed Frida by the snout and “there was blood everywhere”.

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Guard dog on the Mahahual beach road.

I tend to stay pretty calm, especially when there’s nothing to be done while careening down a Mexican highway twenty minutes out. Lisa and her mom sounded like they had it under control but I could tell they were scared.

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Poor puppy, a pretty big gash in her mouth.

I walked into the house and Frida all but flew out of Lisa’s arms to get to me. A good sign of life. She was still bleeding but not in a life threatening way. I messaged our vet who was out of town. He told me what to do. I think Frida got more sleep than Lisa or me that night. We were pretty shook up.

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Naughty or Nice?

End of story, no broken jaw, she is fine. Crazy dog cut her mouth pretty deep but nothing fractured. Frida just doesn’t know she’s a little dog. Sigh. I think we’ve solved the problem of Crazy dog. Haven’t seen him in awhile.

Happy Holidays all. Things are pretty quiet here, just the way we like it.

DOS TORTAS 

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The Dog With Nine Lives

17 Dec

When an animal is choking, there’s no time to think, you must react. And you better do it quickly. This week my friend pointed at Frida, there was something wrong. Camila doesn’t speak English and the word for choking wasn’t high on my vocabulary list. Frida was pawing at her face and making a gagging sound. She was spinning and pawing and stupid me, I thought she was sick.

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Still the preferred nap location.

Camila then said juguete, which is the word for toy and I realized that my pup had swallowed something and was choking. I grabbed her by the hips (the dog, not Camila) and hung her upside down. The four inch dog chew was barely protruding from the back of her throat and I was just able to get a hold of it and pull. Getting it wedged in there took some doing on the dog’s part. OMG.

As with all near calamities, the impact didn’t hit me until after it was over. I think this dog has a death wish. I once performed the Heimlich maneuver on a co-worker and watched a piece of carrot fly out of her mouth. She claims I saved her life. Maybe I did.

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One of many sleep positions.

After all, I was a Girl Scout and have taken a few Red Cross classes, but never for a dog. Fortunately gravity did its part. A doggy ER is not down the street as it was in Austin.

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Life has been pretty mundane lately and I have been at a loss as to a subject for the blog. I’m just glad it worked out, as this little beat up street dog who was given a 50/50 chance of surviving, has wormed her way into our hearts. I think I’ll be checking out doggie first aid on YouTube and Pinterest. It never hurts to be prepared, especially with a dog like Frida.

DOS TORTAS

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Frida – Mexican Street Dog

10 Dec

This past summer I lost a little dog we adopted from the street, ChaCha. She escaped our yard and got hit by a car. My heart broke and I cried for days. When our friend Carla posted sad pictures of a little dog she found running the streets of Bacalar, I was wary. I wasn’t ready for another heartbreak.

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A bad case of mange.

Carla had to go away for the weekend and we volunteered to keep Frida “on a trial basis”. She arrived and we were totally smitten. Frida moved in like she was home. No questions asked. Smart puppy.

Carla reported that she had taken her to the vet who thought she might have had distemper. Naive and clueless that we are, we thought she was ok after the treatment. Truth is, there is no cure for distemper. She had a head bob and tick in her rear leg. She drank a LOT of water and had difficulty swallowing.

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An infected rump. Who could resist those eyes?

 

The first night we immediately felt that Frida had a fever. Off to the vet we went. She was very underweight. We got the best food we could think of and made a mush out of blended chicken and rice to help her swallow.  Taking turns, it took an hour to hand feed her. As much came out as we put in and we were both covered in puppy schmutz. We were struggling.

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Discovering toys. Her coat much healed.

We took Frida to a veterinary hospital in Chetumal for a second opinion. The sweetest vet sat us down and told us that Frida only had a 50/50 chance of survival. She had to be kept away from our other dogs. She didn’t tell us to put her down, but you could tell that she wanted us to consider it. My heart broke again.

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We decided to fight the good fight and left the hospital with vitamins, wet food, antibiotics and muscle relaxants for her twitching. I continued hand feeding her. She wanted to eat, but was not getting the food down well. I got scared and hopeless, especially since I was leaving for a week in Oaxaca and Lisa would have to care for her on her own. Frida was a special needs dog.

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Caught snoozing.

While I was gone, a miracle happened and Frida began eating. It was slow going. She would lay on her belly and pick up the food one pellet at a time. And boy did she eat. After I got home it was clear that she had gained weight. She had more energy and was so glad to see me.

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And she continues to grow.

I took her for her follow-up visit and the vet was shocked. Frida was declared a miracle. Our skinny little puppy now has a belly. She runs and plays and her head bob has diminished. Her favorite activity is still a nap with me in the hammock. She also loves walks and is determined that Luna will like her. While everyday is a miracle, some days are just better than others. DOS TORTAS 

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Increasing Happiness–Scientifically

3 Dec

This is one of the greatest blog I’ve read. It says a lot more than I could have come up with for today. DOS TORTAS

Surviving Mexico

A few weeks ago, I finished an online course about global poverty.  While I enjoyed the experience, I thought I’d try something more upbeat this time around.  So I registered for The Science of Happiness sponsored by edX and the University of California–Berkeley and was not disappointed.  

Everyone wants to be happy.  Not only do you feel better emotionally, but it provides all sorts of benefits for your physical self as well. Happy people have more friends, live longer, have fewer health problems and generally enjoy life more.  But did you know that 50% of your happiness level is genetic and there’s not much you can do about that.  However, 10% is determined by life circumstances and there are some things you can do about that.  Whereas the remaining 40% is based on your actions, how you choose to live your life.  (See Happiness: it’s not just your…

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Giving Thanks

26 Nov

Having traveled home to Bacalar (seven hour bus ride and 1.5 hour flight), from Oaxaca the day before Thanksgiving, I was in no mood. Thanksgiving takes work, planning, shopping and cooking. Even a potluck has its own tasks and cleanup. Bacalar is not Merida or Oaxaca with it’s large US immigrant population, enough for a restaurant to put on a high-priced, reservation only feast. So we stayed home. Lisa watched no football and I didn’t even think about the Macy’s Day parade, a childhood tradition. Just another day in paradise.

Goddesses in acrylic.

Mind you, I am NOT complaining. We are home bodies and not attached to a particular day to be grateful. I don’t need Christmas or a birthday to buy someone a gift, nor Valentine’s Day to express my love. Everyday is a treasure and I do my best to remember it.

Tiny watercolor and ink sketches.

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The concrete block planter on my roof. My Thanksgiving activity.

Oaxaca was a blast. I learned to step into MY style of painting, listening to what the work is telling me. I was glad for the feedback as I am my own worst critic. The plan is to keep painting and be grateful for what it teaches me. What is your life teaching you?

DOS TORTAS

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Fearless Painting Oaxaca

19 Nov

There is no better place for inspiration than Oaxaca, Mexico. The streets are full of sights and sounds, color and whimsy. So when Connie Solera of Dirty Footprints Studio posted her painting workshop in Oaxaca for November 2017, I signed up! (If you want more of the backstory check out my March 2017 blogs).

 

 

#arthouseoaxaca

Since I am currently busy painting, I will give you a taste of what’s going on with a promise to post more next week. You can also check out my Instagram page dos_tortas.

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A chance to play with acrylic paints.

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There had to be a Guadalupe in there somewhere.

Random thoughts from this week’s workshop:

If there’s water – SWIM – in a pool, pond, laguna, waterfall, river, spring, cenote – move water around…

If there’s music – DANCE – at a party, in the grocery store, mercado, on the street – wiggle your hips, twirl, clap, move your feet, even if no one else is…

If there’s paint – grab a brush, use your hands, and smear some color, PAINT on paper, wall, cardboard, fabric – don’t worry for an end result, or if others will like it – listen to your inner voice, feel, be fearless…

Do it today, don’t wait, your soul is craving freedom. SING, MAKE MUSIC, GET OUTSIDE, RIDE A BIKE. The possibilities are endless.

DOS TORTAS

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No Wrong Turns in Mexico

12 Nov

Murals are an integral part of Mexican culture dating back to the ancients who decorated their homes with frescos that told stories of everything from human sacrifice to everyday life. In the 1920s the Mexican government used murals and even financially supported muralists, Diego Rivera being the most famous, to educate people on the new post-revolutionary order. Murals adorn every village in Mexico with health messages to whimsy.

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Mural in the stairwell of the National Palace in Mexico City. Diego Rivera

Today, whole villages are painted bright colors to create pride and interest for their residences.

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A small village not far from Bacalar.

We recently learned of a mural project in the village of nearby Chacchoben. Guests of our neighbors stumbled upon it by taking a wrong turn, on the way to visit some nearby pyramids. Of course we had to check it out. There are no wrong turns in Mexico.

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The village has been transformed.

A Mexico City artist, Carmen Mondragón, now living in Quitana Roo worked with residents to paint eighty lovely murals on the walls of their village of 1,700 people.

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The artist at work from her website.

The idea was to bring art to the people. There are streets of butterflies, ladybugs, flamingoes, and lovely little Mayan people adorning the stores, school, town square and even abandoned buildings.

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Everywhere we looked were delightful paintings.

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I especially love her people.

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As much as I love to share finds like this one, I cringe to think what tourism could do to this sleepy little town. We saw others taking pictures so word is getting out slowly. I’d love to meet Carmen and sent her a message through Facebook. Fingers crossed. I am off this week to Oaxaca for a week of painting with artist Connie Solera. Just maybe painting murals will be somewhere in my future. DOS TORTAS

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