Merida, City of Wonder

18 Feb

Merida is the capital of the state of Yucatan, and a colonial city of over two million people. The Spanish influence can be seen everywhere as can the Mayan people who inhabit the city. 

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Mayan flower vendor in traditional dress.

The tropical climate, endless cultural events, and low cost of living make it attractive to expatriates from all over the world. Within a few hours drive you can visit several magical cities, flamingo nesting sites, and Mayan pyramids.

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The ancient Mayan city of Mayapan.

And then there’s the pristine beaches. It is no wonder that Merida is one of the fastest growing cities in Mexico.

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Isla Holbox sunset. Not far from Merida.

 

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Renovated Hacienda Santa Cruz, come for dinner or a luxury stay. Painting by Teresa Bland.

There are many wonderful museums.

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Elegant Mayan woman.

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Campesino-Mayan Farmer 

Whether coming for a visit or to renovate and create your own Mexican home away, Merida is a gem.

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My friend’s courtyard art.

A busy place with Uber to help you navigate. Do let us know if you’re visiting. Bacalar is a four hour drive in a first class bus. We just might join you.

DOS TORTAS 

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Art Rendezvous Merida 2018

11 Feb

I love to wander the streets in a delicious city like Merida, taking in the sites and peering into interesting shops.

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Today I happened to glance to my right side and into a large courtyard and saw this….

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A pedal loom.

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Close up of a work in progress.

Not waiting for an invitation, I walked in to gaze at its beauty. As my eyes adjusted to my environment, I noticed large wall hangings, rugs, quilts and tablecloths. It was a store.

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No one jumped to wait on me, as is the case in many shops. No one was eager to practice their English, call me “lady” or begin the high pressure sales pitch. I climbed the stairs to find two salesmen helping other gringos, so I wandered around delightfully ignored. A bright turquoise, my favorite color, wall hanging, caught my eye and I asked where it was from. The salesman shrugged his shoulders and said he didn’t know. Some sales technique! He could have made up a good story. I’d have believed him.

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Won’t this look great in my house?

This beautiful piece wanted to come home with me ❤️. I rarely give in to impulse buying, but….who could resist? Not me! We struck a deal and off I went feeling rather pleased with myself.

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Day Four Hacienda Santa Cruz – SOLD

After a week of watercolor painting, I guess you could call it shop therapy. Saturday night was our show. Sunday morning I am off for Bacalar to my Sweetie and puppies. I am so ready for my own bed. My painting skill grows each year but it’s stressful. Until next week.

DOS TORTAS

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A Busy Week In Paradise

4 Feb

Some weeks it’s laze in the hammock, a puppy asleep on my legs and a movie on the pad or book in hand. This has not been one of those weeks.

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Sorry Frida, not this week.

Friends from Austin visited and we got to be tour guides.

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The magical palms of Kohunlich. Like going to church.

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My rendition of the pyramids of Dzibanché. Love the trees.

Friday night we attended the Baile de Carnaval para Damas “Paris 2018” (Women’s Dance) It was put on by the governor’s wife Gabriela de Rejón de Juaquín. Think Las Vegas meets Mardi Gras meets bachelorette party on steroids. We represented the non-profit Lights of Love Lisa is on the board and a project to renovate the Casa de los Abuelos (Grandparents’ House) for the poorest of the poor in Chetumal is in the works.

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The costumes were fabulous. The First Lady takes center stage.

Yesterday, Saturday we attended our dear friend Gabriel’s daughter’s wedding.

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Congratulations Karla and Jesus. What a fun night!

As you read this blog, I will be on my way to paint in Merida for a week.

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If you are in the area, please join us for our show on Saturday, February 10.

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We will be painting at wonderful Mayapan pyramids where I captured this shot last year.

Stay tuned for more adventures. You never know what we’ll be up to next!

DOS TORTAS 

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Finding Your Voice

28 Jan

I remember kindergarten and the teacher presenting a table of musical instruments for a pint sized marching band. For some unknown reason, I chose the baton to lead the band. I remember my teacher reporting later to my mother in a certain voice that I “liked to be in charge”. It is my first memory of having my voice squashed.

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We are living in inspired times with women finding their bold, beautiful voices. Whether marching in pink hats, accepting awards, or naming their abuser. I understand the old need for self preservation and its long term consequences to our soul, and the heady power of speaking out.

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The orchid in my yard has no trouble finding her voice.

My government job, at times helped me find my voice. I presented at national conferences and brainstormed around tables. I was respected in my field. Then the times changed, the funding dried up and my position disappeared. That’s the way it goes sometimes in a regime change. Also my gray hair made it impossible to find a comparable job. It was time to retire.

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Lisa and my last Christmas in Texas (2012). I was still working and planning our escape.

The question I ask myself and pose to you is, “how do you continue to use your voice as you age?” I find it easy to be quiet and let others make decisions, which affords little personal growth and is plain lazy.

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Retirement looks good on us.

Looking in the mirror, I realize at least two ways I continue expressing myself, one is this blog and the other my budding art practice. Some weeks I know what I want to say and have my topic well fleshed out by Sunday. Other weeks, like today, it appears as I put fingers to keyboard.

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Last night when I couldn’t sleep.

My art is becoming more and more fearless, at least for me. I leave next Sunday for a week of watercolor painting in Merida. We’ll see what shows up. I’m excited. So whether you need to be quiet and listen more, or sing your opinions from the rooftop, please share your thoughts in the comments section. It really is inspiring to hear from you.

DOS TORTAS

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Winter In Paradise

21 Jan

This is our fifth winter living in beautiful Bacalar, Mexico, on the Belize/Mexico border. In past years we’ve had a weeklong “cold spell”which required the addition of a light blanket and a long sleeve shirt in the morning until the sunrise. Our house is screened with persianas (Florida shutters) to protect from rain. We call it “glamping”, (luxury camping). This year has very been different.

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Persianas looking onto the screened porch and out to the Laguna.

With extreme snow and ice storms covering Northern Mexico, the US and other parts of the world, we have been enjoying a very cool, comfortable two months here in paradise. My MIL Alice, skinny little thing that she is, has been “freezing” and has brought out her electric blanket. Lol.

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The view to our front gardens.

Our nights have been in the mid 50s (13C) with lovely sunny days in the 70s (23-25C). Knowing how hot it gets in the summer, we are enjoying every minute.

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The women’s solidarity march in Chetumal 2017 (I’m second from right with Lisa in orange and Alice in pink)

It has also been dry, so my jungle walks have been wonderful beyond description. Watching the dogs cavort, I have been reminiscent of my lifelong predilection for walking.

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Luna heads for our jungle trail.

I used to pick wild blackberries walking down our country lane, crossing the railroad tracks on my way home from school in New Jersey. Those were the days parents didn’t hover fearfully over their children. My first homesick days of college, I walked the neighborhood around my school enjoying the falling leaves and breathing the cool air. In the 80’s I pushed my son’s stroller through the alleyways around our house in Okinawa, Japan, peering in windows, again homesick, but loving my new adventure.

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Summer will bring heat, rain and mosquitoes. Even the dogs won’t walk in a shower. The dirt trail will be a mud slide that will likely shorten our daily ritual. For now I will enjoy the time with the dogs, the temperatures and my musings. When Luna gives me the look that can not be ignored, I will lace up my shoes and head for the door. Seize the moment! for the only thing we can count on is change.

DOS TORTAS 

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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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