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Sometimes Life Is Like That

20 May

 

After a weeklong visit to Texas, we are home in Bacalar. Mother’s Day was spent with our youngest son and family. 

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Lisa, son Dylan, step-mom Terry (our wife-in-law) and myself.

Lisa had a visit with her doctor at the VA (Veterans Administration). The results of medical tests performed in December were finally discussed. The bottom line is another visit needs to be scheduled, probably in August. Let’s not get into it.
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Sophia making silly faces with Grandmas.

We had a happy hour with Austin friends who came to hang out with us. I wish I had taken pictures, but unfortunately did not. It was lovely to visit with folks, some of which drove as much as an hour to see us.  Also a shout out to blog followers Laurie and Ryan who visited us in Austin. Good luck on your plans to move to Mexico.

 

We also saw the movie RBG which I highly recommend. I doubt it will ever come to our local theater in Chetumal so we took advantage of a free afternoon. GO SEE IT!
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A most inspirational and uplifting movie.

We had a relaxing week and are extremely happy to be home in Bacalar. Visiting with family and friends is always fun.
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San Fernando Cathedral light and sound show, San Antonio.

Air travel really takes it out of us. This trip we had long layovers and late flights. It’s time to get swimming in preparation for the Laguna Bacalar open water maratón on June 16. I have been doing some serious slacking. (The Swim Across Laguna Bacalar).
This year is far busier than usual. Sometimes life is like that. Stay tuned and remember to check us out on Instagram at dos_tortas and Facebook @theadventuresofdostortas
DOS TORTAS 
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A Visit To Mexico City Airport

13 May

Many people come for their first visit to Mexico by flying into Cancun and staying at an all inclusive. The hotel staff meets you at the airport and you never have to step foot out of the compound. It may be “safe” and convenient but you’ll have a very sterilized visit to an exciting, colorful country. For the adventurer among you, I’m suggesting a more diverse vacation. Fly through Mexico City. 

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Flights to and from Mexico City connect the world.

The airport is big, modern and many airlines fly here. US airlines – Southwest, Alaska Air, Jet Blue and United to name a few.  Mexican airlines are Interjet, Avianca and Mexicana. There’s probably a dozen more I’m forgetting.
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Restaurant, hotel, taxi? Follow the signs.

All signage is bilingual English/Spanish and there are information kiosks with English-speaking assistance. Surprisingly, the average person has enough English to help you find your way. Everyone is extremely helpful.
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Helpful bi-lingual information kiosks.

There are food courts that might look a bit familiar. At the same time, most Mexican restaurants have an English or bilingual menu.
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This is Mexico?

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Look familiar? All but the cheaper prices.

There are stores with tempting treats to pass the time if you have a layover.
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Candied fruit, a local treat.

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A gift shop for those last minute purchases.

An IMPORTANT thing to remember, no matter your airport, find an ATM and take out as much money as you think you’ll need for your entire trip. Let your bank know you’re traveling. If you estimate your budget and add 50%, you’ll be good. ATM fees can add up. Although if you never leave Cancun, you can usually pay in dollars.
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Make sure your ATM gives pesos. 

From Mexico City you can travel on connecting flights to exciting destinations like Merida, Guadalajara, Oaxaca or Chetumal which is 30 minutes from our house.
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Our house is on the north end of Laguna Bacalar. Chetumal is to the south.

However you enter Mexico, by air, car, boat, bicycle or bus, come for a visit. Mexico is the ninth most visited country in the world, and a great place to retire.
DOS TORTAS
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México Surprises Once Again

6 May

We are not people who surprise easily, but Mexico never ceases to amaze. We have traveled throughout this large beautiful country visiting massive pyramids built by intelligent ancients, walked with our mouths open through churches painted in gold leaf…

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A cathedral outside San Miguel de Allende.

We’ve been delighted by spontaneous parades who’s meaning was lost on us. We’ve attended colorful festivals, watched amazing dance performances and swum in crystal clear waterfalls. But nothing prepared us for the catacombs of Tizimín.
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Sulfur mud baths in Rio Lagartos.

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Agua Azul, near Palenque.

If you’ve been following along, you know that last week we took Lisa’s mom to the coast for a bit of a distraction to help her heal from a broken wrist (A Quiet Week In The Jungle
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After a few days at the beach in sleepy Holbox, we checked in to a lovely vacation rental outside of Valladolid for some day-tripping. We headed to Tizimín to show Alice a 1563 Franciscan monastery Lisa and I visited three years ago on our Yucatan meander (The Yucatan Meander Continues.
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We happened upon a video the night before featuring catacombs in Tizimín. Lisa was excited and with very little information, off we went.
We explored the church, asked directions to the catacombs and confidently headed in the direction we were given. After a half hour of asking more directions and driving in circles, “three blocks, turn left…”. We finally found it.

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I’m not sure what we expected but this wasn’t it. Under a private home, handed down four generations, were caves. The area had been solid rock, and was carved out as a quarry of sorts to build local houses. Artists decorated the walls and wrote on the ceilings. It was big and it was not a burial site.
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Down we went.

 

As often is the case, my limited Spanish left us with more questions than answers. With the difficulty in locating the area, it is certainly not a tourist hot spot, but definitely worth the effort.
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There are animal stone carvings throughout.

So if you ever get tired of sparkling beaches, snow covered volcanoes and deep, cool Mayan swimming holes, head to Tizimín. Be prepared to ask directions and be patient because GPS will not help.
DOS TORTAS
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Mexican Roadtrip

29 Apr

What does one do to rest while recuperating from a broken wrist (A Quiet Week In The Jungle)? Why go on a road trip of course!

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We have the services of a wonderful house sitter and decided to head out. Alice, my 74 year old mother-in-law with a broken wrist, is not able to do anything very strenuous.  What better place to visit than the the sleepy island paradise of Holbox.
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The island of murals.

 We visited Holbox three years ago (Isla Holbox) when our house was under construction. It’s hard to believe it’s been three years. The weather was perfect albeit a little toasty. This time, the island was hit with monsoon-type rains right before we got here. Walking is muddy, slippery and dangerous. We are availing ourselves of the numerous golf cart taxis that provide cheap transportation.
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Alice is agog with so many things to look at. We are here for a few days so no need to hurry. We’ll probably rent a golf cart and tour the island on our own.
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The center square surrounded by shops and restaurants.

There is also a boat tour to see birds and maybe a flamingo or two. Alice will be thrilled. Weather report says no rain for the next few days. Fingers crossed.
DOS TORTAS
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A Quiet Week In The Jungle

22 Apr

While I was off visiting the grands last week (USA Here I Come), all was quiet on the home front in Bacalar, NOT!

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Wrist broken in multiple places.

My sweet mother in law was tripped by her kitty and went down hard on her right wrist. Surgery, pins and a cast oh my.

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Jubal the culprit

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Alice needed an artistic cast.

And if that wasn’t enough, the dog with nine lives is down by one more! (The Adventures Of Frida The Mexican Street Dog)

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Frida

I wasn’t here of course, but story has it that a large swelling appeared under her chin and obstructed her breathing. No time for photos. Poor Lisa having to deal with non-English speaking doctors and veterinarians. She is a trooper.

Frida has visited two vets and we’re still not sure what the problem is. She’s on anti -inflams and has a follow-up on Monday, fingers crossed. We’re ready for a quiet week but then again you can’t pick and choose your adventures and that’s the life we’ve chosen.

DOS TORTAS

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USA Here I Come

15 Apr

When looking for a retirement location in Mexico, proximity to an airport is an important consideration. We had grand designs of easily zipping NOB (North of the Border) to visit family, as well as traveling the world. The tiny Chetumal airport, forty minuets from our house, does the trick. It beats a five hour bus to Cancun which adds two days of travel on the front end. The trouble is, the connections are not always that great, resulting in longer than we like layovers in Mexico City. Sigh. Life is not perfect.

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Chetumal airstrip top left of the page. The plane did a wide loop over the city before heading north.

I decided last minute to take a trip to Texas to visit my kids. I procured a well-priced flight and jumped on it,  leaving Lisa to walk the dogs and hold down the fort. I did not, however pack warm enough clothes brrrr. There was hail last night outside San Antonio!
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A stunning view of the volcanoes outside of Mexico City. Popocateptl smoking above the clouds.

So I’m in Texas for a brief week-long vacation enjoying grandchildren and celebrating our oldest son’s 35 birthday. I have no idea how he got so old.  Until next week…
DOS TORTAS 
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Held Hostage In Mexico

8 Apr

For seven and a half hours, over two days we were held, not at gun point but at pen point at our bank in Chetumal, Mexico. Sign here, and here and here. I felt like I was buying a house. And all because of a TYPO!

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Four years ago after retiring to Mexico from Austin, Texas , we opened a Mexican bank account. Once we had our green cards, it was the first things we did. Mexico has a very clear path to legal residency. If you have retirement income, a job or a familial connection, you can apply and obtain residency. The process is clear, electronic and takes about a month. Imagine that.

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No, not our mug shots.

What we didn’t known until now is that there was a typo on our original account application. The bank’s simple solution, cancel the old account and open a new one. Easy right? Au contraire.

Following Spanish tradition, Mexicans have two last names or apellidos. The father’s first and then the mother’s. On any application there is a box for both. Since we have a different tradition and our passport have only one last name, for some unknown reason, the person who processed our original application put an “X” (or equis as in the beer Dos XX) in the box where my mother’s name should have been. We’re unsure as to why this finally caught up to us and had to be rectified immediately.

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Don’t you love signing documents you can’t read?

Mind you the entire 7.5 hour process was conducted completely in Spanish. My head was swimming and there’s no bathroom in a bank. Our green cards and the fact that we had done thousands of dollars of business with this bank in the last four years did not seem to count as adequate identification and proof of residency. Did I mention the bank holds the title to our property? But that’s another never-ending story.

To our frustration, we could not find our most recent electric bill. Note to self and you who are considering retirement in Mexico, the CFE (Comisión Federal de Electricidad) bill is right up there with your green card as proof of residency. Keep the most recent original in your car at all times.

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In that case, did we have a…
Water bill? Nope, we have a well.
Phone bill? Nope, we pay month to month. ($16 a month unlimited talk and text to MX, US and Canada)
Internet? Cable? Nope and nope. We pay cash to a private server and no cable.
Mexican drivers license? Never saw the need.

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It’s a good thing we left the dogs home for what we thought was going to be a quick trip to the bank.

This went on for seven and a half hours over two days. I must admit, I’ve never met more patient people. We did get it resolved after lots of signing and sighing. They had new software…blah, blah, blah and I’m sure the paperwork for international money transfers contributed to the hostage situation. After all, we could be drug smugglers laundering our millions. We were exhausted but extremely glad to have this straightened out. It might be relatively easy to get a green card in Mexico but it sure isn’t easy to open a bank account.

DOS TORTAS

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Festival de Body Paint

1 Apr

Living in small town Mexico, I wrote this blog three years ago as I longed to find an artists community in Bacalar. Wow have things changed.

The Artistry That Is Bacalar

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Even Frida got in the picture on our Free Walking Tour of Bacalar.

In three years since my post, our sleepy village has grown considerably. New hotels and restaurants pop up daily. There were two articles in the international news this week that mentioned Bacalar as a vacation destination. I cringe. Please stay home.

The Safest Places To Visit In Mexico

Visitors on yesterday’s walking tour were from Spain, Ireland, Australia, and Canada. Rarely do USers come here. It’s too far from Cancun and people do not have enough vacation time.

Yesterday in the Centro there was a Body Painting Festival. It was put on by a group I sketch with on Thursday evenings.

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My friend and full-time resident and artista extraordinaria Yolanda

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The phases of the moon over the Laguna.

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The body as canvas.

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So much detail. Very Mayan.

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A great time was had by all. I love hanging out with these folks. We make art together. As Bacalar grows, not all things have to be a drain on the community and the environment.  People coming together to express love and art has to be a good thing right? DOS TORTAS

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A Tiny House in Mexico Revisited

25 Mar

via A Tiny House in Mexico

I thought I’d update a few pictures of my mother-in-law’s tiny house. It’s been one of my most popular blog posts. 

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Entrance

All is well. Just a stumble. 😂 I even predicted it.

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Tiny House Plans

Alice has been visiting California and missing her cozy nest. Her kitty is also missing her.  I think I know more of what it feels like to be a house sitter as Lisa is away as well. Whatever you do this week, make it an adventure.

DOS TORTAS

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Lightning Strikes Twice

18 Mar

I have experienced typhoons in Japan, hurricanes in Texas and lightning in a snow storm in New Jersey, but nothing like the electrical storm we had this week in Bacalar, Mexico. This was a doozy.

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The evening started with quiet flashes and increased breezes coming from the north. Only because we had just installed hurricane curtains on our screened-in porch, did we close up the house and head to bed. Might as well give these puppies a go. Lord were we in for a night!

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An example of some of the storms that roll across the Laguna.

It wasn’t long before the storm hit. Blinding flashes exploded one after another followed immediately by ear splitting sonic booms which told me that the storm was stalled right over us. My father had taught me to count, one-thousand one, one-thousand two, between lightning and thunder claps to track the storm’s movement. It was right on us and I was glad for the concrete bunker that we live in and our newly installed protection.

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Just in time.

I badly wanted to go up on the roof to watch the storm, but frankly I was scared. Mexico leads the world in death from lightning (National Lightning Safety Institute) and I wasn’t about to be stupid. The lack of grounding wire in many homes in Mexico is likely the culprit, not to mention the spaghetti bowl of dangling wire that can be seen all over most cities.

I checked on the dogs who seemed to be doing quite well considering, battened down the hatches some more and climbed into bed. I fell asleep counting one-thousand one, one-thousand two, as the storm slowly moved away.

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NOT taken during the storm.

The next morning our yard looked like it had been through a spin cycle. Two banana trees came down with their top-heavy load of green bananas, lots of leaves, and a few big branches was all. We had gotten a much needed drenching and overall faired pretty well. It took a few days but all is back in order. Next time I will take pictures.

DOS TORTAS

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