A Mayan Exploration

11 Mar

About an hour and a half drive from Bacalar is the town of Xpujil. Like many Mexican villages, it is situated on a major highway. Highway 186 connects east (the Bay of Chetumal) and west (the Gulf of Mexico) at the base of the Yucatan Peninsula and in the heart of one of the most advanced ancient civilization on the planet, the Mayan people. 



One of numerous sites in the town itself. The similarities to Tikal in Guatemala are evident.

I can’t imagine what it’s like growing up with pyramids down the street. Many children in Bacalar have never been out on the Laguna. Do the children of Xpujil study their ancestors? One can only hope.


Calakmul is a huge site. We drove forty miles down a bumpy road. Tour buses are not allowed.

We spent three days and traveled to four amazing sites in close proximity. There is so much to be learned about the massive civilization that connects Mexico with Guatemala, Belize, and Honduras. We truly live in an area rich in culture and history.


Wild turkeys that looked more like peacocks, air plants and passageways to the underworld. Monkeys were swinging overhead.


These three-dimensional friezes were well protected. I could have spent days studying them.

We would like to return to this area in the future. There was way more to digest than three days allowed. Also scroll down to see the bats! A genuine bat cave where a vortex of bats headed into the jungle at sunset to consume mosquitoes. They gave the Austin bats a run for their money. Truly an awesome experience. DOS TORTAS




Moving To Mexico Questions Answered

4 Mar

I was recently asked to contribute my experience living in México to help benefit women who are newly arrived. There are the retirees who move here by choice and those evicted from their residential country. Both need a period of adjustment.

Where do you live?
Bacalar, QR Mexico


A small band of women gather for solidarity with the US women’s march in January 2017 (I am second from the right and Lisa next to me in orange)

How have you created a life worth living here? What did you do? How long did it take?
We were able to create a retirement life in Mexico by living a simple life in the US. For years we used public transportation, ate out rarely, and saved consciously. We used the book YOUR MONEY OR YOUR LIFE. (Retiring To Mexico – Is It In Your Stars?)


How do you follow your passions?
My passions have changed considerably since retiring. I have become a homebody. I paint in watercolor and acrylic which was unexpected.


A watercolor painting from Rendezvous 2018, Merida, Yucatan

I have two rescue dogs which is a completely new experience. Be open to surprises, life will change. (A Funeral For Myself)


Frida and Luna

Are there safety concerns where you live? What do you do to minimize risk?
I have no fear for my personal safety. There are robberies which will always occur where there are poor people. We have a security camera at the entrance to our property because it is a distance from our door. I refuse to live in fear.



La Virgen de Guadalupe is a main factor in nearly all sections of Mexico. Have you adopted any part of this? Are there other Mexican saints that you have discovered an affinity with?


Guadalupe has a prominent location in our house.

The Virgin of Guadalupe played a role in my life way before moving to Mexico. Last summer we visited the Basilica in Mexico City. It was a very moving experience. My collection of her images has gotten a bit crazy. She is my protector and guide. (My Fixation On Guadalupe) I also like the Catrina skeletons.


She Decorates Our Kitchen

What would you tell a woman who recently arrived in Mexico?

Mexico is a very fun and polite country. Make eye contact, slow down, learn to greet people in Spanish, buenos días, in restaurants, on the bus, in the market. If a Mexican invites you to a party, go! Even if you don’t know a word of Spanish. Expect to be hugged and kissed a lot, even by people you don’t know.


Dance Like Nobody’s Watching

Challenges I’ve overcome to create the life we have.

Probably the biggest challenge has been being away from family, children and grandchildren. Travel is not as easy as it once was and the world political climate is not improving any time soon. Our family is spread out, so living in Mexico or the states, is almost the same, at least that is what we tell ourselves. Sometimes I feel sad and I wish things were different, but most of the time, our children are living their lives and we’re living ours and that’s just fine.


FaceTime with our two year old grandson.

Life is good and we are extremely blessed. Is it hard? Sometimes. Did we realize that traveling meant house sitters for our dogs? Not really. Did we foresee the growth in our little village and the repercussions to our beautiful laguna? Nope. Will we spend the rest of our lives here? Who knows. We WILL be happy today, give thanks and love life. Until next week…DOS TORTAS


Happy Birthday To Me

25 Feb

My memory of childhood birthday celebrations is family dinners, with my mother’s lasagna always being my meal of choice. One lean year when I was in middle school I received a pair of oxfords as a gift. No penny loafers for me.


Leaving Austin, Tx in September 2013 for our move to Mexico.


The last garage sale before we left. Our sons and their dad and my DIL and grandson. Bittersweet.

To make up for my lack of childhood parties, I guess it wasn’t a thing in the stone age, I planned my own fun adult parties.


Family portrait for my big 6-oh. A lot has changed in six years.

My annual celebrations included a kite-flying picnic in the park and glow-in-the-dark bowling which was a big hit. We had musical performances on the patio in Austin and even a poetry reading. But the absolute best was my sixtieth birthday in a hardware store!


Treehouse Hardware in Westgate Mall, Austin, TX.

Formerly a Boarder’s book store, Treehouse is an upscale, swanky hardware store. In 2012 it had just moved into its current space and wasn’t doing that great. I approached the staff about having my party in their large central workshop area during store hours. I wanted to promote the store because I liked having it within walking distance of my house. Staff looked a bit confused but seemed willing to humor me. My good friends The Therapy Sisters performed and we served a large sheet cake to all comers. It was a blast and the best birthday party ever.


Not your daddy’s hardware store.

Today is my birthday and Lisa and I have slipped off to a jungle B&B for a few days R&R. No electronics allowed. I’ll be back next week with some great pictures.



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. 


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.


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.


Isla Holbox sunset. Not far from Merida.



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

There are many wonderful museums.


Elegant Mayan woman.


Campesino-Mayan Farmer 

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


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.




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.


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


A pedal loom.


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.


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.


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.


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.



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.


Sorry Frida, not this week.

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


The magical palms of Kohunlich. Like going to church.


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.


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

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


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.


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


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!



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.


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.


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.

Photo on 2012-12-25 at 20.02 #2

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.


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.


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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



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.


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.


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.


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


Recovery Room.



A traffic jam in front of the clinic.


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.



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.


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.


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.



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.



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