Wake Me Up When We Get There

1 Aug

During my time working for the State of Texas, I flew frequently for my job. I arrived at the airport with just enough time to slip on board the plane to Houston, Corpus or El Paso. If meetings ended early, it was easy to jump on an earlier flight. And there was no additional charge!

Mexico City Airport

When 9-11 happened, the addition of a security line increased the amount of time necessary to arrive at the airport. An hour flight from Austin to Houston took so much additional time in a security line, that it was often easier to drive. Fees began to pile on for rescheduling flights. Flying became less fun.

We travel light. Unfortunately Stela had to stay home.

Our recent trip to the United States from Mexico, after a year and a half in quarantine has us thinking twice about the future of travel. Add to the experience is the fact that none of us is getting any younger. There are additional fees for everything, checked luggage, seat selection and even water on the plane. Each airline has different requirements for proof of health, an application to to be downloaded and filled out or paper to be signed. So much screening! To leave Mexico City we had to get up at two a.m. to be at our flight three hours ahead of time. We knew it would be different but nothing prepared us for the actual experience.

Lisa takes a snooze.
Fun times with the grands. Makes it all worth it.

At the same time, we are excited to see family and friends. We can no longer isolate in our jungle paradise, although I will be supremely happy to get back when our tasks are completed and we make our way home.

DOS TORTAS

When The Dog Ate Chocolate

24 Jul

Have you ever have a day that started off one way and ended up in quite an expected place? That was our Friday this week, in spades. We had an appointment for Covid tests in preparation for the trip Monday to the States. Off we went to Bacalar with our house sitters in tow. The plan was to drop them off at the mercado, get our tests and then meet up to show them our favorite shops and explain some of the unfamiliar fruits and vegetables. That was the only part of the day that went according to plan.

We returned home to a peculiar and unfamiliar sight. There were bits of foil wrapping torn up all over the living room. Mmmm. Had someone gotten in the trash?

It seems our house sitters had some lovely good quality chocolate, unopened and wrapped in plastic at the bottom of a backpack, a perfect treasure hunt for a highly food driven, blind pug with an exceptional nose for trouble.

Who knew such a little dog could get in so much trouble.

Poor Luna who we later surmised had nothing to do with the caper, but got caught up in the tsunami of activity that followed. A quick calculation of the amount of chocolate consumed, weight of a tiny pug and the possible consequences, had them both bundled into the car and off to the veterinary clinic.

Luna said she was innocent.

The doctor was in the middle of another emergency and had us leave the dogs for observation. What a crazy day.

Stella and Luna spent the next few hours crated at the clinic and then home, with Stella passing chocolate diarrhea and vomit for the next few hours. The worst part was her inability to settle down, wandering in circles, disoriented and running into things. (Reminder, she is blind). It took until far into the night for her to finally settle down enough to sleep. This from a dog that sleeps most of the time.

We are so grateful that it was not worse. Dogs can die from chocolate poisoning. With two days until we leave! At least our sitters were not trying to find a vet, handle a sick dog and google translate, “damn dog ingested chocolate” in Spanish.

The good news is that the Covid tests came back negative. And I thought I wasn’t going to have anything to blog about this week. A shout out to our sitter who acted quickly and insisted we go to the vet. Disaster averted and two very scared moms relieved.

DOS TORTAS

Breathe Relax Have Fun

18 Jul

This week we pack.

Unfortunately Stela will not be going on our trip to Austin, TX.

Our first trip north of the border in two and a half years has required much thought and planning. Beyond the usual acquisition and preparation of house sitters, the reservations for transportation (air and ground), arrangements for Lisa’s mom, housing and visiting family and friends, we have the fear of Covid swirling in the mix. How will things be different? God only knows.

Somehow lots of hearts have worked their way into our home.

A friend imparted wise words this week as I expressed my fear and anxiety. “If you are overly afraid of getting sick and dying, you will also not be living.” So we will be cautious and do our best to relax.

Our bathroom mural and outdoor reality.

Once the doors to the plane close, I will take a deep breath. Maybe I won’t wait until then. Breathe, relax, have fun.

DOS TORTAS

Buena Vista Mexico

11 Jul

This week we ventured out of Covid quarantine to attend a small village art fair. The thirty minute drive landed us in Buena Vista (Good View) situated north on Laguna Bacalar. The town has mostly dirt roads and the first language is Mayan. Masks in place we wandered, sampled and shopped. Purchases included tamales, virgin piña coladas and a hammock for our dock! There is nothing like Mayan women selling their wares out of a beat up pots covered with a dish towel. There were kids playing, upbeat conjunto music and the opportunity to support local artists. The day couldn’t have gone better.

The largest sunflower I’ve ever seen.
The hammock is huge. Do come join me.
Women in Mayan garb selling honey from the bees that live in their yard, a few blocks from the festival.

DOS TORTAS

Your Life Has Meaning

4 Jul

I read those words this week by Father Richard Rohr, as part of his daily inspirational message. “Your life has meaning”. Some days it’s very hard for me to feel as if my life has had meaning, then I remember

Early 1990s. Weren’t we gorgeous?

I used to work for the City of Austin in the sexually transmitted disease clinic. I gave people the news that they had HIV or some other infection they picked up along the way. I interviewed them as to their sexual partners and who else needed to be tested to stem the spread. I jokingly called myself a sex detective. The official title was Disease Intervention Specialist.

Assured of anonymity, people reluctantly gave over information. I frequently looked for contacts with very little to go on. No name, sketchy address, and sometimes not even that much. FYI, your neighbors will tell anyone your business, where you work, when you’ll be home, at least they did in the 90’s.

1996 Master’s of Education, University of Texas

I think the most amazing experience I had was finding a young girl. A guy came into the clinic with symptoms of gonorrhea or chlamydia, I don’t remember which. The problem is, men are way more likely to have symptoms (discharge, burning) and women can have a silent infection that is only uncovered in a routine physical.

He had gone to a party the previous Saturday with people he didn’t really know, in a part of town he wasn’t familiar with and had sex with a girl who’s name he couldn’t remember, Sara or Susan or something. Sigh. Finding her was a true needle in a haystack.

I asked him all the usual interview questions and was getting nowhere. He then remembered that she might have been a high school student in Georgetown, a community outside of Austin.

1993

His information didn’t really narrow the field much. What to do? My memory is a bit sketchy on the details, but I got the idea to call the school nurse at Georgetown High School. Those were the days when schools had their own nurses. I told her who I was and the oh so familiar story of the Saturday night party. And much to my amazement, a student who fit the description had been in her office that morning complaining of burning in her nether region. Bingo, mission accomplished.

My artwork created with Procreate on my IPad.

I rarely saw clients more than once. I tried to convince them to be safe, selective and sober. Looking for contacts, I thought nothing of walking into a crack house, homeless camp or neighborhood that most folk didn’t know existed. I tried to treat everyone with respect. I really loved my job and felt like I was doing work that made a difference.

Today, living in the jungle in Mexico, I have my memories. Soon we will be heading north to see children and grandchildren. Just maybe I have made a difference there as well.

DOS TORTAS

Not A Netflix Review Blog

27 Jun

If you pay any attention to pop culture, you’ve certainly heard of Billy Porter. I had seen his gender bending dramatic Met Gala entrances but not much else. Then I stumbled upon James Corden’s (Late Late Night) 2019 clip of Broadway Karaoke featuring none other than Billy Porter https://youtu.be/JCbJwsl-vts My new obsession began.

His Internet Movie Database (IMDB) page https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0692039/ lists many talents, performances and awards! Clearly I have been living under a rock!

A year ago Ms. Porter won an Emmy for lead actor in a television drama series. He was up against some heavy hitters who I was much more familiar with. So what was this series Pose?

Forgive me for raving about Netflix again which has been a life saver in a plague. Pose is a step back in time to New York’s 1980’s ballroom scene. Queer folk have always created our own safe places ie Michigan Women’s Music Festival, but gays and trannies seem to do it with more flair (and sparkles).

So be prepared for a new binge watch, although I prefer to draaaag it out 😆. Pose is a glimpse into a rich history, people and culture that few of us are familiar with. The best part is that it shows an uplifting side of a very challenging time for gays and lesbians, the 80’s.

Enjoy.

DOS TORTAS

Out And About

20 Jun

While our state of Quintana Roo in southern Mexico is at code orange for Covid risk, with red being the worst, we are all vaccinated and willing to venture out to try a new restaurant.

New hotels and restaurants are popping up daily on every corner. We don’t eat out much, but I felt like the adventures of Dos Tortas needed a kick in the tuchus. So when a friend recommended Barbanegra Bacalar (Black Beard), a downtown eatery with vegan options, I said, why not. We can certainly use an excuse to take a shower and put on clean clothes.

My mother-in-law Alice is always happy to get out of the house.

I am bad about remembering to take pictures of our food. In this case, the service was so slow, we were lucky to be the only people eating. I had a cauliflower ceviche which was creative and I will make at home. Lisa and Alice were pleased with their selections. Mission accomplished.

Eating out supports the economy and gets us out of the house. Sometimes it’s the diversion that we all need.

DOS TORTAS

I Want To See You Be Brave

12 Jun

As we plan our upcoming July trip to the US to attend to some long overdue medical issues, I find myself awash in fear and sadness. The reports of surging Covid leave me wanting to chuck it all and pull the covers over my head.

I found this timely reminder on Facebook this morning…

In times of trouble, carry on small steps.
Do what you have to do, but a little at a time.
Don’t think about the future, not even about what could happen tomorrow. Wash the dishes.
Remove the dust.
Write a letter.
Make some soup.
Do you see that?
You are moving forward step by step.
Take a step and stop.
Get some rest.
Compliment yourself.
Take another step.
Then another one.
You won’t notice, but your steps will get bigger and bigger.
Time will come when you can think about the future without crying. ❤️

(Elena Mikhalkova, ′′ The Room of Ancient Keys ′′)

We have arranged house sitters and bought airplane tickets. I am working on transportation and housing. One step, one day, one action at a time.

We learned this week of another dear friend whom we saw and hung out with in Austin pre-Covid, is in hospice. She has a neurological illness that the doctors can’t figure out. She was next on my list of friends to ask for space in her spare bedroom. Some days there just are no words.

On Wednesdays I make myself go to my drawing group. It is a brief foray out of the house, that provides social interaction and a break from the sadness. Plus I get to draw naked people! I can see the improvement in my drawing. It’s the little things, the small steps.

Lisa got her second shot. We are now both fully vaccinated. Another step.

Brave by Sara Bareilles is my new theme song. Today’s blog is me being brave, refusing to push down my tears and sadness. One thing Covid has done is bring to light people’s mental health struggles. How could we NOT be sad. I would love to hear from you. We will sit and hold hands together. Small steps.

DOS TORTAS

Life’s Little Delights

6 Jun

On Thursday this week, I was driving along the main highway toward Belize, on my way to have brunch with a friend. She lives alone and is quite isolated. With both of us vaccinated, we had made plans to meet up for some huevos divorciados. I left home later than I intended for our appointment at ten. While mindlessly zipping along, I noticed that the sky was studded with lovely big pillowy clouds against a blue blue sky.

Love these clouds as seen from my hammock.

Up ahead, I saw a motorcycle on the shoulder. It’s headlight was on and facing towards me. I thought it odd and swung the car wide to give him plenty of room.

What I saw next caused me to laugh out loud. The motorcycle was a bit wobbly, as the man tried to set off with an ungainly load. There was a child on the front, the driver and two young women behind him. One of the women was carrying a goat!

Not quite the same but you get the idea. Stock photo.

I have no picture on my phone but a delightful memory. It reminded me of Lisa and my 2005 trip to Thailand. It was our first introduction to scooter culture. It is a fine art, but absolutely anything can be carried on a scooter.

The colors of my art.

So that was my excitement for the week. It’s not much, but I’ll take it.

DOS TORTAS

Death Knocks

30 May

It was a sucker punch to the stomach this week, when I received the news on Facebook that a dear friend has cancer. And not just cancer but stage four, liver, lung and bone cancer. Suze and I have been friends for almost thirty years. We met on a shuttle from the Michigan Women’s Music Festival in the 90’s. My life has been so much richer knowing this crazy woman who makes me laugh. We’ve been to each other’s weddings, and a boatload of parties. We’ve had sleep-overs for New Year’s Eve and watched the Texas low-budget, cult classic Sordid Lives in our pajamas. When she retired from social work, this dynamo took up real estate and sold our home in 2013 so Lisa and I could scurry off to be Dos Tortas in southern Mexico.

In 1999 Lisa and I had a commitment ceremony before marriage was legal. Suze was there.

There was a year of tests that came back negative until they didn’t. No treatment, 3-6 months, get your affairs in order, say your goodbyes.

Suze is the queen of having your affairs in order. In her long career as a social worker, she was the head of Texas Partner for End Of Life Care (TxPEC) which helped develop directives for physicians and clergy to better assistant the dying. It’s because of her fearless advocacy that many have had the hard conversations and their wills are in order.

I am glad that Lisa and I will be back in Texas this summer. We will sit together, hold hands and create final memories. I love you Suze and you will always be in my heart and at least you’ll never have to go on another diet!

DOS TORTAS

Emilie Vardaman

travel and random thoughts

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