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Embarrassed To Be Happy

17 Apr

With so much pain and suffering in the world, is it super privileged to be content? There are no broken bones, the car is running, we have food and shelter.

I am grateful, and I don’t want to jinx things. I’m not saying that life is perfect. I still struggle with not sleeping. It’s just the way it is. My body hurts from gym work outs, but it’s a good hurt and I’m thrilled with the muscles. Lisa and I have been having date-night once a week. Sometimes it’s the little things.

Moon over Laguna Bacalar.

I’m leaving for California a week from Tuesday and I’m actually excited. Not much really excites me these days. Soon I will be checking the weather, hauling out the suitcase and getting a Covid test. Hi ho hi ho.

Going for a swim.

Until then, I will try to keep the bubble from bursting, however I did buy travel insurance.

DOS TORTAS

Let’s Book A Flight

10 Apr

When we retired to Bacalar, Mexico from the United States, we took so many things into consideration. I was working a job that gave me time to spend researching. Bacalar was thirty minutes from an international airport. We would be able to travel back to the US easily for holidays and visits with family. We had direct buses to Cancun where we could get flights to anywhere in the world. There was one caveat that we didn’t consider, couldn’t have possibly known.The world of 2022 is no longer the world of 2013.

Nine short years. How time flies. I’m not suggesting that we should not make plans because of an uncertain future. The future is always uncertain.

Sitting on my couch looking at travel search engines makes my head spin. Lisa said something his morning that is so true. “You should go. When you get home you’ll never want to do it again.” How right she is. I hate flying. Flights are long (there are fewer route options), expensive and involve crazy people. I also drop my cell phone and loose my headphones. The stress makes me crazy.

I will persist however. I miss my kids. Wish me luck.

DOS TORTAS

Culture Clash

3 Apr

As a US citizen, I find that living in a foreign country (Mexico) is educational, stimulating and often times humorous. At first I thought it was a Bacalar thing, but having visited other towns in Mexico, I know that’s not the case. This week it happened again to my surprise.

Also add the ability to wait.

I remember the first time I went into Parisina, a fabric store in Chetumal. Figuring out how to make a purchase was complicated, confusing and time consuming. I later discovered that the process is the same in the local hardware store and in the art supply store I found in Oaxaca.

This week I stopped to purchase fabric to make a blanket for a dear friend who is expecting baby number five. To my surprise, the store had no cotton fabric. With rows and rows full of bolts of fabric, there was NO 100% cotton. Scratching my head, I wandered the aisles until I found the perfect alternative.

They have a pug!

I took the bolt of fabric I wanted to purchase to a male worker. He took out a hand held device and produced a ticket that I was to take to a cashier. I waited in line to pay the bill. I returned to original guy with the stamped receipt and he then measured and cut my fabric.

This is the same process at a hardware store. An employee pulls your requested item from the back of the store. You receive a ticket which you take to a cashier. The stamped receipt allows you to pick up your purchase. The entire process requires you to wait in three lines, first to be waited on, second to pay and third to retrieve your purchase. As a USer I think I don’t like to wait.

I’m not sure if this process is the norm anywhere else in the world. I love Mexico but it sure does make me scratch my head sometimes.

DOS TORTAS

Persevere

26 Mar

Watching the US Supreme Court nomination hearings this week of Judge Katanji Brown Jackson has been both inspirational and emotional. She gives hope to all women, young people, and anyone who has dreams for a better more egalitarian world.

Reading today that Ginni Thomas, wife of sitting Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas tried in December 2020 to influence the overthrow of US elections made me sick to my stomach. What the heck!

Every day is a new beginning.

My personal takeaway this week is what an anonymous passerby whispered to Katanji Brown as a young, confused Harvard student, “persevere.” I’m so glad Judge Brown did.

We must all persevere. Life is hard.

DOS TORTAS

Which Way To NOT Go

20 Mar

When we retired to southern Mexico seven years ago, the village of Bacalar was quiet and peaceful. Three cars slowing down was a traffic jam. We used to listen to the stories of dirt roads and no gas stations from the expats who have been here twenty years. You would have thought we’d have seen the writing on the wall.

All roads lead from Bacalar.

In the last two years, as growth has exploded, some good things have happened. Well, at least some pot holes are filled. Slowly roads were paved and with the improvements I noticed something that I found unusual. Roads around town became one-way streets. The odd thing is that rather than pointing out which way TO go, the street signs direct traffic which way NOT to go. It messes with my brain, but this week I think I found out why. There are anomalies in Spanish, not found in English, that may explain.

Don’t turn left.

Menos mal, literally “less bad”. means a good thing in Spanish.

Menos mal que, means “it’s a good thing that.”

So something that is good is described by the degree of badness that it has.

Echar (to throw) de menos, less or badly means to miss

Te echo de menos means “I miss you”.

Also, telling time is stated by subtracting quarters of the hour. For example,

Son las cinco, it is five o’clock, menos cuarto, less fifteen minutes or 4:45. In English we would say that it’s fifteen minutes TO five.

Perhaps other languages use subtraction rather than addition to life in general, ie which way NOT to go or the degree of negative a thing is to determine it’s benefit. If anyone can shed light on this observation, I would love to hear it.

Rather than looking at the negative, behind, or ahead, left or right, we work on staying present. “Right here, right now.” Mexicans are also pretty good about living in the moment, when they’re NOT, not turning left. I’m not sure any of this makes sense, but have a good week.

DOS TORTAS

Sometimes Life Is A Miracle

12 Mar

I hate when the week winds down and I have nothing in mind for the blog. Somehow the Universe steps in, like it did today. (Saturday)

I went to the Scotiabank ATM in Chetumal to withdraw cash. One thing we’ve had to figure out living in Mexico is how to economically transfer dollars from our US retirement accounts to pesos for our every day living expenses. There are fees everywhere, bank limits on how much we can transfer, and the exchange rate to keep an eye on. At the moment, the dollar to peso is in our favor, so I thought I’d take out our limit on two different bank cards.

I had recently read that someone using the ATM at our bank had been robbed and I was being extra cautious and staying aware of my surroundings. I took one of the wads of pesos and slipped it into the side of my leggings. The rest was in my purse.

I proceeded into the mall where I bought a pair of house shoes and then walked to the opposite end to the supermercado and began to work my way through our long shopping list. We only go to this store every few weeks and mostly for specialty items (my particular brand of soy milk) we can’t get locally. I suddenly remembered the money in my legging and reached for it but it was gone.

Down near our dock. Gratitude gratitude.

“Stay calm, breathe.” I tried to talk myself down from panic. The wad of cash was 9,000 pesos or about $450 dollars. Was it worth a coronary? I didn’t think so. I continued with my shopping and prayed that whoever found the money, really needed it.

I saw a summer tanager this week (stock photo)

My mind was working overtime trying to figure out what could have happened. I thought perhaps I had dropped the money in the store where I bought the slippers. I headed in that direction pushing my full grocery cart. Suddenly there was a commotion behind me and I turned to see money scattered everywhere and people rushing to pick it up. I realized it was my money, but how…?

Coati. A group ran in front of our car this week. We counted 31 adults and little ones. (Stock photo)

When I walked up and said that the money was mine, all the angels handed over the cash. I got back every peso. I had patted down the wrong leg when I thought the money was gone. The money had been falling from my pant leg as I walked along. Boy did I feel stupid. Mexican people pride themselves in their honesty. However 9,000 pesos could be two months salary to a day laborer. Hard to resist.

Life’s lessons can be painful at times. I’m glad this wasn’t worse than it was. Lesson learned.

DOS TORTAS

Luna Hates Feet

5 Mar

I should have known when Lisa looked at me doe-eyed and said that I needed to “go look at this puppy”, what that really meant. We were getting a dog. All the expats in Bacalar, Mexico where we had retired (2015) told us that we would get a dog, or two. I had insisted no, we don’t want a dog. Silly me.

Luna aka Lunatic, will be turning seven at the beginning of the summer. It’s always hard to tell with Mexican street dogs or callejeros. The breed is dubious, but dogs tend to be scrappy, independent, food driven, and excellent additions to any family when properly socialized and trained.

A typical street dog in Mexico. Maybe Luna’s daddy?

Friends heard crying under their car, only to discover a puppy in a grocery bag. She was full of fleas and ticks and very skinny.

Such a sad little thing.

When we moved into our newly constructed house in Fall of 2015, we had a “no dogs on the furniture” policy. Upon returning from a visit to the US in 2019, we found Luna had become queen of the couch. Our house sitters unknowIngly gave her access and there was no going back. The couch is now her domain and covered in blankets.

Love that puppy belly.

Luna has never been a cuddly dog. She does love butt and ear scritches but on her own terms. Just don’t get near her with your feet! She will grumble and growl, not in an aggressive way, but more like a shots fired over the bow sort of warning. Luna and I have had conversations about how she is extremely privileged and why on earth is she put off by feet anywhere in her vicinity, but to no avail. Sigh.

Luna loves a boat ride.
Her Majesty taking in some rays.

Other than her feet aversion, Luna is a very good girl. She has a big, deep voice which lets passers by think that she means business, which is why people have dogs in Mexico I guess. They are excellent door bells and protection. It was one of our better decisions.

DOS TORTAS

I’m sure of it.

Grief And Gratitude

27 Feb

Two years ago we adopted Stela, a blind pug. I had never been around a pug and had a lot to learn about their quirky nature. One skill she has is to be asleep on the couch, snoring loudly and on her feet a moment later when someone says one of the magic words, outside, potty, snacks, or walk. She’s a zero to a hundred in the blink of an eye kind of gal. Sometimes life is like that too.

Stela loves her pillow.

Last weekend I was blissfully returning from kayaking on Lake Bacalar, Mexico,where we live. I was anticipating the week leading up to my seventieth birthday, and in one misstep, I was sailing off the dock, landing on a pile of rocks, and screaming for my life. No bones were broken but doctor’s orders has me off my feet for 2-4 weeks. Zero to a hundred, but not in a good way.

I fell to the left of the kayak.

On Tuesday, our housekeeper of six years announced that she is pregnant with baby number five and could no longer work for us. While we completely understand it is the loss of a relationship that we were totally unprepared for. As much as I think that the people who work for us are not friends, the flood of tears said something different.

The husband of a friend and former neighbor from Texas lost his battle with cancer on top of the loss of our dear friend Suze the week before (Death Knocks) also to cancer.

On Sunday Lisa went to a celebration of life for her dear poker buddy Steve who died suddenly from Hepatitis C two years ago. He was a good guy.

Steve, Lisa’s Bacalar poker buddy and our friend.

I guess the only way we can be prepared for loss is to live every day fully. Many people don’t make it to seventy. I have a feeling that sadness and gratitude are a part of the aging process no one much talks about. I think fondly of Delmy, Troy, Suze and Steve as I grieve their loss. As for me, I think youth is vastly overrated. My bruised body will heal. None of us will ever be younger than we are right this minute, so enjoy today, live life to the fullest and above all be grateful.

DOS TORTAS

AFTER YOU DIE
Just so you know
after you die
I will not wonder
why you didn’t do
your dishes or
how long it’s been
since you
cleaned your
oven or microwave or
mopped your floors
or why there were
dust bunnies under
the bed and
behind the door

After you’re gone
I will not wonder
how you could
have allowed the
piles of old mail to
accumulate or
why you saved so
many bits and pieces
of this and that or
why you weren’t
more goal-oriented and
well-organized or
why your refrigerator
contained so many
expired condiments

When you are
absent from all your
familiar places
I vow to avoid wondering
why you didn’t
eat less and
exercise more or
why you waited so
long to stop smoking
or drinking or
whatever else was
simultaneously
soothing and
deadly or
why you took
whatever risk may
seem to have hastened
your exit or why
you left so much unsaid
unfinished or
unresolved

I will only wonder
if you knew how much
you mattered to me
just as you are
as you were when we
met in our temporary
human disguises and
laughed in the
dressing room of the
world at how funkily
our skin suits fit
at times

I will wonder and
hope you knew
you were beloved

I will wonder when
we last hugged
and whether you
felt how our
heartbeats
converged
and our bellies
bumped like boats
and then we
both sighed

Marva Lee Weigelt


A Not So Fine Line Between Stubborn And Stupid

20 Feb

Yesterday I was determined to pull my kayak out of the laguna myself. I had been out for a tootle around the neighborhood and was heading in for an anticipated massage, I was having an internal conversation completely ignoring the Four Pillars and acting the fool. “Asking for help” seems to be the one I ignore and has the greatest consequences of late.

A lovely morning to go kayaking.

I lost my balance playing tug-a-war with the kayak and fell off of the meter high dock into a couple of inches of water and a lot of rocks. I’m surprised you didn’t hear me screaming from wherever you are. I am bruised and a bit swollen. We’ll head to get an X-ray tomorrow just to be sure. Fingers crossed I didn’t break a bone. It’s not how I planned to spend my birthday that’s for sure.

About ten minutes before my accident.

I know it is said that an accident is an accident but my own stubbornness contributed. Nothing like learning the hard way.

DOS TORTAS

Addendum: No broken bones. Two weeks of rest, then I can start back swimming. I believe my trips to the gym have really helped. At least if you’ve got to hop around on one leg, it had better be strong.

Just Don’t Look In The Mirror

13 Feb

Somewhere I read once about a woman who had no mirrors in her house. She felt like spending time looking at ourselves was especially hard on women who are pressured to look beautiful, young, thin, etc. I thought it would be a good idea when we built our house in the Mexican jungle, until my wife put the kibash on that idea. Sigh.

We have a mirror in each bathroom. They only reveal our upper torso. You can imagine my shock when going to the gym and seeing myself in a large floor to ceiling. My self image was completely shattered.

My gym outfit.

Looking down I look pretty damn good for almost 70. I’ve lost fifteen pounds (6.8k) since November. I’ve been working out at the gym and in less than two months I can already see definition in my arms. I got my bloodwork back today and I lowered my LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) by 45 points into the normal range. I raised my HDL by 20. My doctor is very pleased. I am thrilled.

While I’m never going to look like the sweet young things in the gym, I am having a wonderful time and I feel great. As long as I remember not to look in the mirror.

DOS TORTAS

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