Archive | October, 2017

It’s That Time of Year

29 Oct

It is that season in Bacalar, cooler temperatures and beautiful sunrises. It’s the time of year that those who reside here year round, live for.

 

The Canadians and other part-timers usually show up about the first of December through April. The hotels are full and the restaurants busy.

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In the four years since we moved here, we’ve seen a lot of growth. There are many new hotels and a wider selection of good places to eat. I’ve heard there’s even a Japanese restaurant although we haven’t been able to find it. Lol

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Lisa really appreciates the new Time Out sports bar run by our friend Kim. We get to watch football and the World Series and eat some good food in Bacalar! Imagine that.

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Love love love Mexican murals.

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We are learning to enjoy the Bacalar of today and smile at the “do you remember when…?” reminiscings of those who moved here before us. The only thing you can bank on is change.

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So enjoy whatever is here and now for you. Love whoever is in front of you. Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude. DOS TORTAS 

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Magical Cholula Revisited

22 Oct

Memories can shape our lives. We can run from them or toward them. And if they are significant enough, we can build little alters to them and freeze them in time. That’s what I did to the village of Cholula.

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We never saw the volcano due to the rainy season.

I left home in 1973, twenty-one years old, and went to “study abroad” in Mexico. I lived with a local family, studied intensive Spanish and raised as much hell as I could. In those days it wasn’t much.

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Making tamales with my Mexican family and fellow student Brian.

In 2013, I saw the youthful dream of living in Mexico realized as my wife and I retired and built a home on the southern most border near Belize on beautiful lake Bacalar. It wasn’t colonial Central Mexico, but you can’t have everything. I longed to go back to Cholula and visit my old stomping grounds. Boy was I in for a shock. A lot had changed in forty years.

Dirt roads and hand-made brick buildings have been replaced by cobblestone and cement block architecture. There is a modern indoor mercado that resembles all others in Mexico. People were fascinated by my old pictures but no one could remember where they had been taken.

This was the 1973 view from the Cholula pyramid looking down on the old mental hospital. I was fascinated at the time with the gardens (right) that the patients worked providing their own food and therapeutic activity.

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Today the hospital is a beautiful museum with adjacent park and playground. The university is buried somewhere in the buildings in the distance.

Cholula has become a suburb of the state capital, Puebla. There are trendy restaurants and festivals galore. I think I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn’t  experienced the quaint village it used to be. Frankly I was shell shocked.

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A day trip to an old hacienda was worth the visit to see this exquisite talavera fountain.

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The church of Tonancitla, one of the best of the trip.

Do not allow my letdown get in the way of visiting this magical city. My suggestions are 1) do your homework, there is much to do 2) find a hotel close to the center. The buses are not difficult to maneuver but conversational Spanish is useful. 3) check the weather (duh) Cholula’s altitude is 7,000 feet which makes it a great escape from the hot, humid jungle we live in. There is also a rainy season. Don’t let it put a damper on your vacation. Dress appropriately. Cholula is really a hopping place and well worth a visit. DOS TORTAS

 

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Life’s Unexpected Treasures

15 Oct

I wish I could say that arriving in the colonial city of Puebla was dejavú, but the truth is, nothing looked familiar. I first visited Puebla in 1973, staying in a boarding house for the first month of studies at the University of the Americas in nearby Cholula. In August 2017, it is a bustling modern city that’s kept much of its old-world beauty and charm. We were pleasantly surprised.

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The convent of San Francisco one of the oldest churches in Puebla circa 1535

I had reserved an Airbnb in the historic district and spent a bit more money than usual. We were not disappointed. In Mexico it is common to walk an unremarkable street of high privacy walls and intriguing doorways. We stepped through one of those doors to inner city paradise.

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During our stay, our hosts directed us to the best mole (MÓ lay); is there any OTHER reason to go to Puebla? We wandered exquisite old churches, artist markets, homes converted into museums, and even a free concert. I did not expect to fall in love with Puebla. This city is definitely a contender for retirement locations.

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Tres moles – poblano, rojo and my new favorite pipian (pumpkinseed)

No trip to Puebla would be complete without a visit to La Estrella de Puebla, the Star of Puebla, a very large ferris wheel. After some deep breathing I joined Lisa the adventurer and I’m so glad I did. No fear!

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The weather made this adventure challenging, but we did not give up.

Puebla was so much fun and worth the time. Our AirBnB hosts certainly added to the experience.

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Luis and Malu (who fed us many local delights).

The world is filled with many delightful people and places. Puebla unexpectedly is near the top of our list.

DOS TORTAS 

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Need A Distraction? Get A Puppy

8 Oct

Let me introduce our little distraction from hurricanes, earthquakes and mass shootings, meet Frida aka Puppy Puppy. She is a dachshund mix. Every street dog in Mexico is a mix. You may remember that we lost ChaCha (A Díos ChaCha), a rescue dog that we adopted the month before our July vacation. Three days into our trip, we got the message that she had escaped our yard and was hit by a car and killed. Our hearts broke. Continue reading

Oaxaca – Ruins, Monastery & Crafts

1 Oct

During our nine-day visit in August to Oaxaca City, MX, we enjoyed a second day trip. This time we boarded a van to the ancient city of Monte Alban. “The White Mountain” was strategically placed in 500BC, by rulers high on a mountain, to better subjugate the lands and people below. They ruled about a thousand years. The City was abandoned before the Spanish conquerors arrived in 1521 and because of its obscure location went undiscovered until much later. As a result many royal tombs were found intact with jade masks, detailed murals, pottery and onyx jewelry. We wandered the site and small museum on a stunningly beautiful day to be alive.

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There’s always the question of climbing one more pyramid. What a treat to experience such a breathtaking vista.

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Evidence of early cranial surgery. Some patients actually survived.

After Monte Alban, we continued to Cuilapam and the monastery complex of Saint James the Apostle, a beautiful Dominican cathedral with no roof over the nave. The priests abandoned construction in the 16th century due to the lack of funds and diminishing native population to convert. A small rear sanctuary church, rarely open to the public, was holding a funeral and we entered respectfully amid blaring trumpets and pounding drums.  Love the churches and rituals of Mexico.

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Pope John Paul II landed his helicopter for a visit in 1979.

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A stone baptismal font.

The tour ended with a visit to an artists cooperative. The skill of hand painting takes lots of practice and installs awe. We had so little space in our luggage for purchases and even less space in our house for display. We also had Puebla and Cholula left to visit. Sigh….

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Getting one’s groove on at work? Steady hands and concentration.

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Drunk with all things Oaxacan we reluctantly packed up to begin the next phase of our trip, the colonial city of Puebla! Thinking it couldn’t get much better, boy were we wrong.

DOS TORTAS

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