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Mexico City Day 2

20 Aug

Our second day in La Ciudad we explored the Anthropology Museum and the castle of Chapultepec that offers an amazing vista of Mexico City. Chapultepec Park itself is larger the Central Park in New York. We could have spent the entire week here and not seen it all. There was a lovely lake with paddle boats and of course many vendors.


The Anthropology Mueseum. The two story fountain was closed for cleaning.


Chapultepec Castle.


The French had a big influence on Mexico, not to mention rulership. Lisa loves castles.

Part of the goal of this trip is to revisit my old stopping grounds of 1973-74. A lot has changed in Mexico and the world, not to mention ME. Forty some years later at 65 years old, I am still in awe of this amazing country.

I am having trouble with internet, so the post on the historic district and Teotihuacan will have to wait.  Have a great week.




You Win Some You Loose Some

30 Jul

On Wednesday this week, I lost and found my diamond necklace and had my iPad stolen from my luggage, both on the same day. Travel has its perils.


Winery beauty Northern California.

Sitting on the plane as we landed in Mexico City to start our U.S. vacation, my hand went to my throat and my necklace was missing. With an attempt at no drama, we looked through the plane seat and sent messages to our house sitter and friend who drove us to the airport. No luck. There wasn’t much else to do, so we continued with our travels.



Hours later, Lisa pointed incredulously at my foot, “what’s that?” and there was the necklace tangled in my shoe laces! It must have fallen and in my 3 a.m. stupor, I tied it into the bow! How crazy is that? I was feeling pretty smug at not having gotten upset at the possible loss of my beloved necklace. Not so fast, the day was young.


Blooming artichoke.

Any way you look at it, travel these days is getting more stressful, especially international travel. There’s the luggage, fees, passports, immigration paperwork, security, finding your gate, layovers, delays etc. etc. In our case, all is negotiated in Spanish.


Who doesn’t love goats at a winery ❤️ she looks pregnant.

We landed without further event in San Francisco. The plane arrived thirty minutes early. We slid through immigration and ran to catch an earlier shuttle than we expected for the two hour ride to my daughter’s house. Things were clicking along until I reached into my suitcase to retrieve my iPad. I had it stowed in my checked bag due to newly released security warnings. Drum roll….


The cover was there but no iPad. Our very long day just got longer. Fast forward to today, I have a new iPad and thanks to that mysterious thing called the cloud, my old pad has been erased and a new one restored. I wish I could say that there was no drama. I understand in my head why people steal, but it’s hard not to take it personally. Replacing a device is an inconvenience, not to mention a pain in the ass and an expense. Lesson learned, nothing of value in checked luggage. When we moved to Mexico we had visions of zipping north to visit the grands. Not as easy as we though and one more thing to consider when making plans to retire in Mexico.



Turn Here

26 Feb

On our way to Merida for the watercoloring adventure, Rendezvous 2017, our little band of travels got hungry and began looking for a place to stop. It is a long drive and we had set out early from Bacalar. Casually making a turn off the highway in search of a little village eatery, we were quite astounded at what we found.


The pyramids of Mayapan were not 100 feet off the highway. We had all traveled the route to Merida many times oblivious that this ancient village was hidden behind the trees.


Mexico is like that. Make a wrong turn or a right turn and step into a whole other world.



A winged bird-human.


Posing with a giant carved mask.


My friend Yolanda made the climb to the top of the largest pyramid. We were so amazed at how many times we’d unknowingly passed these pyramids.

We spent a brief time climbing the pyramids and taking pictures, with promises to return when we had more time. I never tire of learning about the Mayan people who lived in the Yucatán so many years ago.




Mexican Expat Life

18 Dec

Sometimes adventure is not WHAT you visit, pyramids, churches, mercados, etc. but WHO you meet along the way. Join the TORTAS as we venture out from our home in Bacalar along the Costa Maya to explore parts unknown (at least to us).


To celebrate a Torta birthday this week, we visited the pueblo of Puerto Morelos nestled between Cancun and Playa del Carmen. Little did we know that this cozy fishing village is an exploding tourist town and expatriate destination.


Guatemalan boys walking the beach looking for tourist pesos.

Something lacking in the far reaches of southern Mexico that we call home, is an English language bookstore. What a surprise to find Alma Libre Bookstore. 


Rob and Joanne Birce

Not only are Rob and Joanne long time residents of this sleepy little town, Rob went to school with our friend and fellow Bacalar resident, Mitch! We were immediately family and Joanne told us all the best places to eat in Puerto Morelos.


Visit their website for all things Puerto Morelos.

At Joanne’s recommendation we dined at La Sirena and met the owner Anthony Chalas from my home state of New Jersey. Greek food in Mexico, yum!


Great artwork for a photo op.


Caribbean sea turtle mural.

On our two day tour of Puerto Morelos, we got to visit the local mercado and meet Ann Trépanier, French Canadian and artist extraordinaire.


Making art from recycled plastic. My kinda gal!

Ann makes “fabric” from heating together layered plastic bags. She is passionate about the environment and the changes she sees in her precious little town due to unregulated tourism.


I wish I’d bought all her bags. Contact her at

There was one more astonishing encounter with a restaurant manager, but that is a story for another day. Travel in Mexico is full of opportunities. Do venture out of the all-inclusive hotel compounds. Not only will you meet lovely Mexican people and fellow fearless travelers but expats from around the world who live, love and fight to protect Mexico’s resources. Do tell them “hello” from




Go Directly To Jail – Do Not Pass Go – Do Not Collect $200

27 Nov

This week The Tortas traveled from Mexico to Florida to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday with  family. Passing through US customs should be a snap right? It can be, unless you forget to eat the apple.


“Where’s the woman with the apple?”

The sign at the Miami airport said to be sure to declare any food in our bags. They made it sound so friendly that we told the agent, rather than act surprised if our wayward apple got discovered during inspection. We were surprised alright, just not in the way we expected.


Stock photo but it looks just like this.

What followed taught us a huge lesson. NEVER leave food in your bag while crossing into the US from anywhere. Stay calm, do not get angry or indignant. Insert “yes sir or yes ma’m” into the conversation at every opportunity. Oh, and stay calm.


The issue was resolved thanks to the “Washington” agricultural sticker on the apple and a bit of groveling on Lisa’s part. There were many people who weren’t so lucky.


The TORTAS hanging out with our son.

The rest of our vacation has gone without incident. Key Largo looks a lot like Bacalar. The weather was perfect. It’s always a joy to visit with family. We’ll be home tomorrow. Gratitude, blessings and happy holidays to all.



Belize – Part Two

12 Jun

When we last saw the intrepid Tortas they had sweet talked their way across the Belize boarder not knowing if they would be allowed back into Mexico. No drama here!! (Belize – Amazing Race Style)


The newly installed Belize sign.

First things first, we are indeed home in Bacalar. Crossing back into Mexico was easy-peasy. No questions asked. Alice got a 180 day visa, viola.


Peacock Palm on Caye Caulker is common in Belize.  They are extraordinarily.

During our three day visit to Belize, we took a tour of the sites which included the Belize Zoo. I had heard good things about it and was not disappointed. It is worth adding to your bucket list of things to do in Belize. For a very small zoo, that’s saying a lot.


It looks like we were close because we WERE.

Belize Zoo

“A non-governmental, non-profit organization focused on wildlife conservation through wildlife rehabilitation and environmental education.”



Rarely seen in the wild tapir. National animal of Belize.


This macaw was putting on quite the show. He came out of his cage to say hi.

The zoo provides educational programs to thousands of Belizan children and educators annually. Teaching children about the animals of their country gives them an understanding of the environment and why it is important to take care of it.  Making even a small donation to support the zoo will make a huge difference. DOS TORTAS


Drama, Drama, Drama

1 May

Adventures can be unexpected and come in all shapes and sizes. But must they include drama? This week I was taking Princesa Luna to the veterinarian in Bacalar. She has a rash and scratches persistently. Luna loves Dr. Joel. He gets eye to eye with her on the exam table and she just wants to lick his face off.


In the middle of the exam, his assistant came in to tell me that the tire on my Ford 150 was going flat. Oh no! I left Luna on the table and ran out to the truck in a panic, to hear a telling hisssssss.


My name-sake. Tire Mechanic and Car Wash Alex

I knew if I didn’t get to the llantera (tire shop) fast, I’d be tasked with changing a truck tire. I have changed many tires over the years. I can do it, I’d just rather not. Returning to the vet’s office, I was in a tailspin. He looked me softly in the eye and said, “tranquilo” (be calm), that he would keep Luna and I should go take care of the tire.


I flew for the nearest tire shop several blocks away and was glad to see an empty bay. Eric greeted me and set out to expertly change my tire.


The Waiting Room

I believe it didn’t take ten minutes to produce the nail that was the culprit, patch the tire and put it back on the truck. The cost? About $3.50 US and about five years off my life.


Service With A Smile

Going into fear and drama over some perceived problem is a bad habit of mine. I would have been inconvenienced by a flat tire but it wouldn’t have been the end of the world. And certainly not worth giving up my peace and happiness. Life in Mexico is much less stressful than in the US. But as the old saying goes, “wherever you go, there you are.” So what drama have you participated in lately? Remember, “tranquilo“.



A Tootle To Merida

3 Apr

Living in the U.S. gives one a certain perspective on automotive travel. It probably has as much to do with traffic, ability to find parking and one’s genetic makeup of hating or liking to drive.


One of the Pitfalls of Driving in Any Country

While living in Mexico is not so different, it really is. For one thing, bus travel is far more convenient, comfortable and cost effective. Five hours on a bus allows you to catch up on your reading and possibly make a new friend. We took a tootle this week and visited Merida, a four hour drive by auto, just down the street and an ungodly distance by my old life perspective.


Sunrise Outside Our Room in Merida

We stayed in our favorite Airbnb, visited Lisa’s surgeon and SHOPPED. I can go to the dark side when visiting a big city like Merida. Shopping is very limited where we live in Bacalar, Mexico’s southern frontier. Although, when Home Depot opened in Chetumal, thirty minutes away, the old timers pointed out how easy we had it building our house now, as opposed to “way back when”.


Finally Found the Illusive Costco!

We got quite lost driving in Merida and spent way too much time in traffic. Remember, when asking directions in Mexico, make sure the person you ask knows how to drive. The little man in the taco stand can not likely give directions, unless he pulls out his iPhone and Google maps.


We Didn’t Overdose Too Badly

After Costco we drove to Progresso, on the Gulf, just for the heck of it. Lunch on the beach proved entertaining; watching people and seagulls.


Lisa Checks Out the Seafood Menu

For the week after Easter, things were pretty quiet in this little beach town.


A Favorite Way To Beat the Heat in Merida

We were both glad to get home. There was a lovely birthday party next door on Friday evening for our neighbor Teresa. Happy seventieth Darling. A relaxing end to a very busy week. DOS TORTAS



The Best Day Ever

28 Feb

This week included the fun celebration of my birthday. I love turning 64 and all the learning opportunities that come with it. We had guests visiting from Austin and it was delightful to see their eyes sparkle as they took in our home and our laguna. Photos can’t compare with direct experience.


Alex and Isa taking selfies at Restaurant La Playita

The fall I took a month ago limited the activities available to us for the day. I decided against visiting the prison in Chetumal where prisoners make and sell hammocks and other artesanias. Too much walking. I’ve also wanted to take my mother-in-law to Mahahual on the Caribbean. There’s a lovely malecón/boardwalk, and we pass an organic farm on the way home. Again, too much walking. So with our friend David driving, we went to visit the Mennonite community west of Bacalar.


David took us to visit a family that he had worked with previously. The dad is an ace mechanic. We got to take some pictures with the family. They gave us homemade cheese and rolls. The Mennonites speak high German and enough Spanish to bring their wares to market.


Cow’s milk cheese and homemade rolls made a tasty lunch.

Life is simple and that includes transportation.


Horse-pulled buggies with blond, blue eyed children checking us out.

The afternoon wrapped up back at home with a birthday cake among friends.


Mocha tres leches mmmmm.

It was such a sweet day. And truth be told. Everyday is the best day of my life.


Falling For Life in Mexico – Literally

24 Jan

Multitasking actually means not fully paying attention to ANYTHING. So this week when I simultaneously stepped over a two foot high curb while looking for oncoming traffic, it’s not surprising that I caught my toe and went down on hip and elbow. 


All sunrise shots taken from the porch this week.

I have fallen three times since moving to Mexico two and a half years ago. Leading an active, adventurous life involves risk.


The first time I fell was a perfect storm of bald bicycle tires, gravel, a hill and a curve. The doctor diagnosed a fracture of the femur and put me in a soft cast for six weeks. We never saw evidence on an x-ray so who knows.


The second fall was during a hike in San Miguel de Allende while visiting my friend Nancy last summer. While crossing a muddy creek, I slipped and went down hard on my knee. Again we had a trip to the ER, x-rays, swelling and additions to our collection of ace bandages.


These hikers were way better prepared than I with boots and walking poles.

Thank God for the loving support of my wife, MIL and friends in Bacalar. The loan of a walker helps me to stay off the ankle and our stairs will keep me housebound for a week or so.


This sweet little ride has seen better days.

I am also grateful for the extensive exercise we do, yoga, calisthenics and recently added strength training. It could have been so much worse. Living an adventurous life is worth preparing for.




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