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The Fatigue of Caution

31 May

Denial – Anger – Bargaining – Depression – Acceptance

We are all familiar with Kubler-Ross’s stages of grief. In the case of Covid19, acceptance has been a moving target. What the heck are we accepting anyway? Oops, that sounded just a tad like anger…sigh.



When I was a kid in the 50’s, eons ago, I had asthma. The doctors had no definitive diagnostic tools and threw everything but the kitchen sink at my poor parents. I slept in an crank up hospital bed since I couldn’t breathe lying flat. For months I wasn’t allowed to get my hair wet. No swimming. My mother, bless her heart, found a dry shampoo to clean my hair. With three younger than me, it must have made her life difficult.


I remember having difficulty breathing looking at this picture.

One doctor wanted to remove my tonsils, yikes. Thank God that didn’t happen. I’m probably one of the few people of that era with intact tonsils.

Then came allergy testing. There were weeks of trays of needles used to insert little pillows of allergens under the skin up and down my arms. My mother would take me for an ice cream sundae after appointments. I cherished the time alone with her. I hated the needles.

The list of things I was allergic to was a mile long, chocolate, chicken, mold, dogs, dust. For a year my mother adhered as much as possible to a strict diet for me (we did not however get rid of the dog). Five children and one a special needs kid must have been hard. Nothing seemed to help my asthma, fatigue set in, and the diet went out the window.


So many pictures had dark circles under my eyes.

Being constantly on guard is exhausting. Whether it’s monitoring a diet or the distance someone stands nearby in the grocery store, it gets old. The stages of grief are not linear. I’m at the point where I want everyone else to be really really careful so I don’t have to be. Is that denial or bargaining? How long can I continue to look over my shoulder? Will I be locked in this house forever?

All I can do is take care of today. Lisa and I talk and make decisions day by day and don’t look back. We also try not to look forward which is very different. We always had our eyes down the road. Not any more.

Please stay home if you can. Take care of vulnerable populations around you. Be especially kind to our essential workers. Know that I love you.


When all is over, I will look for you and I will hug you so tight that we will forget time.

When all is over, I will need you more than ever.

(Translated from The Cathedral Restaurant, Oaxaca, Mexico)


A Lesson from Boredom

23 May

I stayed at home to raise my three children for ten years in the 80s to 90s. I know many women do not find the routine of child care, household chores or family life fulfilling or mentally stimulating. Staying home sounds boring.

Dylan, Cullen, Felice 1986

As my children aged, I went back to school to earn a master’s degree and spent many years working in the field of public health. I’ve experienced both sides of the equation, both staying home and working in a busy career. While I enjoyed my job, the meetings, travel, presentations and grant writing, I’ll take staying home any day.

I used to think that full time motherhood prepared me for the much anticipated retirement, when in actuality it prepared me for the isolation of a world pandemic. Don’t get me wrong, I totally respect today’s parents and the challenges they face that couldn’t have been imagined in my time. I simply mean that I have no trouble filling my days with quiet yet stimulating activity. I am extremely privileged to have adequate income. Living in Mexico means our expenses are few. The gas tank sits full.


I guess we never know how today’s experiences will prepare us for the future. One thing is certain, life as we knew it will never be the same. And in the opinion of many, myself included, that will be a very good thing.


Praying To My Mother

10 May

When my mother was alive she used to tell me that she would pray to her mother, my grandmother. Nan loved to gamble. Bingo was her favorite and nickel slots in Atlantic City. I’m not sure you would call that gambling but it kept her entertained. Mom would go on a cruise, play the slot machines and pray to my grandmother to help her win. I would chuckle and roll my eyes. What did I know?


My first religious experience. 1952 my mother was 30.

My mother and I were extremely different. She was very religious and me not so much. I never got the whole “praying” concept. I figured if God were omniscient, what would be the point? I’ve heard people pray to get things, as if God were their own personal Amazon Prime in the sky. It never made much sense to me.


A bridesmaid in my cousin’s wedding.

I’m figuring out what prayer is for me. It’s about taking stock and being grateful. I’ve been praying when I’m afraid, acknowledging my selfishness, and expressing my desire to learn to be kind. God doesn’t talk back much and that’s ok. Sometimes I need someone to listen.


My mother and I shared a love for dance.

I’ve been thinking about my mother a lot lately and realizing that I’ve had a lot of judgements about her and taken some of her choices personally. I wish we could sit down over a cup of tea, something we didn’t do when she was here. Happy Mother’s Day Mom and to all of you. It’s time to make peace even if our moms are long gone. So I pray to her in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep. She doesn’t say much, but I do think she listens and that’s just fine.



A Plague Of Biblical Proportion

3 May

We all are familiar (or should be), with Charlton Heston in the 1956, academy award winning movie, The Ten Commandments. Playing the part of Moses, Heston hails down locusts and turns water into blood as he blackmails the Romans into releasing the Hebrews from slavery. The plagues do the trick and the Hebrews are released from generations of bondage to wander in the desert.



These days the southern Mexico village of Bacalar seems to be living through its own plague of biblical proportion. Situated on the Lake of Seven Colors, Bacalar has returned to the quiet little village we moved to seven years ago. The streets and park are empty. There has been one reported case of plague number one, Covid-19. The  campaign #quédateencasa or Stay Home along with the lack of tourists seems to be doing the trick. People are hurting but they are not dying in large numbers.


Plague number two is drought. We can’t even remember the last time it rained in southern Mexico. The jungle is brown and crunchy. Crops are nonexistent and the once lush, green jungle is quickly disappearing.

Plague number three, mosquitoes seems unlikely given plague number two. Drought doesn’t usually increase the mosquito population. Each year we anxiously wait for the rain but know that rain brings mosquitoes, dengue, zica, chikungunya and maleria. None of these diseases is fatal, but the plague of mosquitoes is annoying as hell.


I believe that plague number four is causing the mosquito infestation, the fires, Dealing With The Burn. Mosquitoes are driven from lowlands by burning jungle and relocated to Bacalar. We are dealing with itchy eyes, scratchy throat and painful lungs. People are screaming on Facebook but the authorities seem to have bigger fish to fry. Generations of clearing land with fire are not abandoned readily, regardless of the environmental impact.


It’s hard not to take it personally, although locals suffer far more than immigrants. We are hanging in there, not kidding ourselves that “this will be over soon”. Hopefully God is not mad at us, although sometimes it feels that way. 



Dealing With The Burn

26 Apr

This week there have been fires burning all around us. There were black clouds billowing from the landfill across the laguna.


Farmers have used controlled fires to clear fields for centuries in Mexico. When you drive through the Yucatán you see where gasoline has been poured along the sides of the road to clear overgrowth. With the drought we’re having it’s a wonder there’s any jungle left.

At times we couldn’t see the other side.

With my asthma, we closed up the house yesterday and stayed indoors. It was another layer of quarantine.

Clearer skies today.
And some days even that’s not easy.




We’re All Doing Time

17 Apr

Years ago I stumbled upon a most memorable book, We’re All Doing Time, A Guide For Getting Free, by Bo Lozoff. It was a best seller written to help prisoners, prison guards and those living in their own personal confinement (ie. all of us). The spiritual guide offered self assessment, a path to inner awareness and connection and had an introduction written by the Dalai Lama.

I used to fantasize what it would be like to live in a cell with endless time to meditate, read, practice yoga and write. How ‘holier than thou’ was I. Be careful what you ask for.

My mother with her older brother Jack

While my life today is far from a prison, I vacillate between feeling sorry for myself, scared and crying, to acceptance, faith and peace. Maybe the book should be renamed, “We’re All Living With Covid-19”


Uncle Jack turned 100 this past Wednesday

My middle of the night insomniac musings tell me that the only way through this nightmare is by truly caring for one another. We Americans in particular are a selfish lot, every man and woman for him/herself and no one’s going to tell ME what to do. In the coming days, weeks and yes, years, we will be called on to give beyond our present ability. It is time to stretch those atrophied caring muscles and find ways to put others’ welfare before our own. For me it is sometimes as simply as doing the damn dishes AGAIN, without complaining, even in my head.

I’d love you hear how YOU are stretching. Let’s inspire each other.



Te Quedas En Casa (Stay Home)

12 Apr

The Adventures of Dos Tortas has been retired for a year and a half. Up until today, I had not seriously considered continuing our saga. I began the blog in 2012 with the intention of keeping family and friends apprised of our decision to retire and live in Mexico. I was tired of the endless questions all beginning with, “is it safe?”


The blog evolved from chronicling the move from Austin, Texas, to the building of our house on beautiful Lake Bacalar. 


The View From Our Yard


Our House Completed 2015

We continued with our world travels and day-to-day small town Mexico life. Everything felt new and exciting. Eventually we settled into a routine and the search for interesting stories grew tiresome. When I got few Comments or indicators of interest, I decided after six years to retire the blog. There were at least a gazillion blogs at that time offering how to retire and live in Mexico and I felt like mine offered nothing new. Little did I know that I would continue to meet people who had been devoted followers and related how they missed my weekly musings. Who knew?

So for some unknown reason, I feel compelled to share our new boring life in the time of a pandemic, social isolation and lockdown. I read somewhere that it is our responsibility to keep a record of this crazy experience caused by Covid19.

Lord how the world has changed.


In 2019 we lost our beloved Frida to a car accident.

and added Stella, a blind pug to the mix.


Stela is a Gift from the Goddess

I still share photos on Instagram at dos_tortas if you wish to catch up.


If you are new and stumbled onto Dos Tortas, know that there are no politics here. I am completely committed to living a happy life no matter what. So come along from wherever you are holed up and join us to wherever the hell we are going.

Comments encouraged. 



As The World Turns

6 Jun

It has been over six months since I decided to take a hiatus from the Adventures Of Dos Tortas. Life seems to be full of a different sort of adventure from when I first started writing in 2013. At that time we were packing up our home in Austin, Texas to move to far south Mexico. We bought property on beautiful Laguna Bacalar and had plans for a home and simple life. As it is with life in general, a lot has changed. 


Some weather heading our way.

The sleepy little village of Bacalar has exploded with hotels, restaurants and tourists. Exploded is a bit sensational, certainly not like Playa del Carmen or Tulum, but on its way. The Laguna is overrun with boat tours taking guests to “explore” the mangroves. The wildlife suffer as the jungle is cleared. It’s not any different from any part of the world where tourism is the primary industry. Locals are being bought out and little homes are being replaced with all-inclusives. We didn’t see it coming.


The “pirate cove” ruins of a failed restaurant and popular boating destination.

While you might think that we are regretting our move to Mexico, we are not. Due to health challenges and family need, we have spent more than our fair share of time in the US over the past year, both in California (the birth of our granddaughters) and Texas (Lisa’s neck surgery). Both times we were missing our home and wanting to return to Bacalar. Life in the US is no cup of tea either.


Hiking in Austin. Enjoying the weather.

When I lived in Mexico in the 70’s, it was the time of Watergate, Nixon’s impeachment and the Middle East oil crisis with its winding gas lines. I extended my student stay at that time and received a letter from my father (a first) asking me why I was “hiding out” in Mexico.  One of my teachers didn’t skip a beat and instantly replied, “tell him it’s one of the better places to hide out”.


I will continue to hide out, paint, walk the dogs and watch the world turn. Times are uncertain for all of us but somehow writing helps me process. I make no promises to how often or what I’ll blog about. Stay tuned.





Adiós Amigos/Amigas

4 Nov

Dear Followers, Friends and Family, this will be my last blog post. I have been toying with the idea of discontinuing DOS TORTAS for sometime and the decision is final. With over six years, 310 posts, 5,848 views from all over the world, 195 likes, and 341 followers, it’s been a wonderful experience and a lot of fun. I’ve grown as a writer and pushed myself in ways that I wouldn’t otherwise have grown. I remember being thrilled at having 100 followers, woohoo!


Our original route from Austin to Bacalar September 2013

There are so many blogs about moving, traveling and living in Mexico. I have veered off topic quite a bit lately which is death for a blogger. Any “how to” guide will tell you to be narrow in topic and write to a specific audience. I’m afraid that ship has sailed. 

A few things we have learned on this great adventure:

  • Living in Mexico is not easy. There is a gaping cultural divide. It is not insurmountable but there is a price. 
  • Living in a gated expatriate community is not living in Mexico. 
  • If you don’t speak Spanish you better have money to pay someone to help navigate a system that is frustrating and complicated at best and incomprehensible at worst – renting, construction/renovation, banking, immigration, shopping, medical, veterinary, etc. etc. 
  • Air travel back and forth from Mexico to wherever has only gotten more problematic. The easy travel that we imagined no longer exists. Missed connections, flight delays due to bad weather, the cost of rescheduling tickets and the unexpected need for a hotel room adds up. Not to mention the inconvenience of lost passports, credit cards and other identification. 
  • Be fearless no matter where life takes you. It’s so much better than the alternative.


My hard won permanent residency card.

None of this is said to discourage anyone. We love it here in Bacalar and have no regrets or plans to return to the US. Even at 55 and 66 we talk more frequently about aging in place. Illness and disability are probably the main reasons foreigners pack it in and head “home”. Life can turn on a dime. It’s good to have a plan B.


Lisa’s mother’s tumble which resulted in multiple broken bones, surgery and physical therapy.

I would still love to hear from you with questions or comments. I will continue on Instagram at dos_tortas.  With much gratitude, blessings and peace. 



Acts Of Kindness

28 Oct

Today is my last day in California. I feel like I helped get these babies off to a good start, which was my goal. My son-in-law is having back surgery next month and my daughter is healing from PPCM, postpartum cardiomyopathy. They have additional family members coming after we leave. Send prayers.


Dad with the girls, Analise and Sara.

What an exhausting and rewarding experience. I am a bit at a loss for words. It’s time to get home to Bacalar. Lisa’s immigration is due and I am off to paint again for a week in Oaxaca, a commitment I wish I hadn’t made. 


Doctor Max

This morning I went to church and found myself in tears thinking of the families in Pittsburgh who were themselves sitting in prayer unprepared for someone to attack their synagogue.


Our bundles of joy.

And then there was the news story of an 18 year old who drove three and a half hours one way to deliver a favorite pizza to a man in hospice dying of cancer. Acts of kindness are all we really have. Be generous and compassionate, especially to people who are different from you.  




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