Archive | June, 2014

World Cup Football – Just Don’t Call it Soccer

29 Jun

I began watching the World Cup four years ago and became enthralled with the passion, skill and enthusiasm of the game. Soccer as it is called in the US is right up there with watching paint dry for most Americans. There’s the endless running up and down and low score that keeps most people at the chips and quacamole in the kitchen instead of glued to the big screen.

The general feeling among the expats has been to cheer for Mexico, and Central and South America over Europe, Africa and Japan. Of course there’s also the US matches which have been nail biters as well.

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The locals have been quite curious and appreciative as we scream for Mexico. No beers required.

La Playita a great little restaurant for World Cup viewing.

La Playita a great little restaurant for World Cup viewing.

Today is a big game for Mexico which determines whether they advance or stall. EVERYONE in Mexico has plans as to where they will watch the game. A huge screen will be set up in town for mass viewing. Restaurants are advertising take away food so no one is stuck in the kitchen during the game. The energy is electric.

Hotel Bacalar provides food and a beautiful view.

Hotel Bacalar provides food and a beautiful view.

Futol (as opposed to American football) does not play to TV audiences. There are no breaks for advertisers that have paid millions for a 30 second piece of you. There is amazing skill, honed from childhood, beautiful muscular bodies that are every straight woman and gay man’s dream, amazing acting when bumped and tripped by the opposition, and even front page drama when one player has this weird proclivity for biting his opponent.

This week while making small talk with our new young doctor, Lisa asked him about futbol and his face lit up. There’s something about not referring to Mexico’s pride and joy as soccer that is greatly appreciated and shows respect.

So if you’ve never watched World Cup futbol (it only happens every four years), now’s your chance. At least catch the final match on July 13, 2pm CT. Go to a sports bar and pick a team and yell with the crowd and above all, don’t call it soccer.

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Adventure Begins When Something Goes Wrong

22 Jun

When living in Mexico, buying property and building a house, we are ducks out of water, way out. The best way to have things go wrong is to have expectations of how they should go in the first place. Try as we might to be open to surprises, we didn’t see this one coming.

Our house is being built in an ecologically sensitive area. New laws are being enforced and as with any bureaucracy, it’s a moving target. We were told that to avert paying for a very expensive study on our lot, we would have to remove fifteen “protected” palm trees. It mattered not that the trees were planted by the previous owner and that we had no intention of molesting them in the building process. We would have to remove the trees from the lot and replant them after the building permit is granted or pay as much as $6,000us. Huh?

Now try wrapping your brain around moving five 30 foot high royal palm trees.

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It was suggested that we give the trees to a vivero, landscaper, who would remove them for free and sell to a hotel in Cancun. NOT! Fade to me hugging trees and crying.

Six smaller "foot of elephant" palms that also had to be moved.

Six smaller “foot of elephant” palms that also had to be moved.

After having a conversation with Pedro, who does yard work for us, he assured us that, much to our amazement, the trees could be dug out by hand and moved and he knew other workers who would help with the endeavor.

I have never seen men work so hard in my life. They used picks, levers and ropes and achieved the impossible. Lisa’s truck was commandeered and a small front loader rented. The trees were removed and placed in a protected area so they will hopefully survive. We will then reverse the process to place them around our house to provide shade and beauty.

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Even Mexicans scratched their heads as we tried to explain what and why. We decided that it was an opportunity to landscape that we would never have taken otherwise. Hopefully this time next year I will be writing my blog from a back porch in paradise, under my rustling palms. Fingers crossed.

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Making Friends in Bacalar – It’s Not What We Expected

15 Jun

The foreign population in Bacalar is relatively small and varied. US-ers and Canadians make up the majority, but there are also a group of Mexicans from Mexico City who maintain a residency here. Throw in a handful of Europeans and several folks from South America and social gatherings are quite multi-lingual with everyone speaking whichever language they care to practice.

Not all of the expats are retired. There are young families and each new friend opens an opportunity to meet others and travel in a variety of social circles. Many people live here up to six months and return to their home country to work or enjoy a cooler climate than is the humid, rainy, Bacalar summer.

When Lisa and I decided on Mexico, we were clear that we wanted to make local friends and not simply socialize with English-speaking foreigners. We are finding that the lines blurr and it’s more about taking time and getting out, talking to everyone, not being afraid to make mistakes speaking Spanish and always making a point of greeting and saying goodbye to everyone.

Ladies vegan lunch - showing off our culinary talents.

Ladies vegan lunch – showing off our culinary talents.

A chance to know each other better.

A chance to know each other better.

Sunday pancake breakfast and more new friends.

Sunday pancake breakfast and more new friends.

Food is always a way to connect. We are also trying – watching soccer matches, playing cards and learning new skills. Can you tell that our calendar is filling up? Life in Bacalar is looking sweet.

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Finding The Blessing of God in Bacalar

8 Jun

One of our favorite aspects of life in Bacalar, Mexico is finding a basic, inexpensive, hole-in-the-wall restaurant, where the locals hang out and the food is good. One day we asked our juice lady in the mercado for a recommendation for breakfast and she pointed across the street to La Bendición de Dios (The Blessing of God).

Open for Sunday morning shoppers at the town market across the street.

Open for Sunday morning shoppers at the town market across the street.

There are no menus at this comida económica. Whatever has been prepared for the day is what is available, until they run out. Some places operate like a small cafeteria. Waiters lift the lids of several succulent dishes and you make your selection. Meals include beans and rice and sometimes a drink for a price lower than you could prepare it at home.

A quiet Sunday morning.

A quiet Sunday morning.

A great place to people watch.

A great place to people watch.

In this southern region of Mexico, the basic fast food is a taco, a catch-all for chalupas, tostadas, or gorditas. They can be served with different kinds of meat, fish, sea food or refried beans, and topped with avocado, shredded cabbage, onions, cheese and drizzled with crema, a sour cream popular in the area. Add your own salsa for some additional heat.

Homemade tortillas are the best.

Homemade tortillas are the best.

We are always welcomed by Aro our hard working waiter. He zips from table to table, always with a smile.

Our friendly mesero (waiter) Aro

Our friendly mesero (waiter) Aro

With Lisa’s coke and my fresh melon juice, our meal came to $6.50US or 85 pesos. We recommend La Bendición to our friends but have only see a few tourists frequent this great little eatery. The Blessing of God has been a blessing for us too.

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The Check Engine Light Must Be Obeyed

3 Jun

Leaving Austin, Texas last September required leaving far more than family and friends. It meant leaving all those pains-taking connections that took years to build…a hairdresser, plumber, electrician, and above all truck mechanic.

When the red blinky light came on in our precious Ford F150, it was hard not to panic. It’s not like the teeth cleaning or eye exams that we’ve been putting off. The check engine light must be obeyed.

Local expats suggested premium gas but it did nothing to help, so a notice went out on the Yahoo Listserve for a mechanic. Taking the only two we received into consideration, we made an appointment at Nani’s in Chetumal.

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We were told to expect to pay “more” but that they were the best, so off we went on a Torta adventure.

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Every experience is an opportunity to learn new words in Spanish and to stretch the brain in interesting ways.

Alex was there to explain and help.

Alex was there to explain and help.

We left our baby and headed off to the movies!

Loved the movie.

Two thumbs up on Maleficence.

After a long day and many filters changed, the truck runs as well as it ever has. A new resource has been made, yeah! Now for that dreaded call to a dentist.

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