Tag Archives: Adventure in Mexico

Life Returning to Normal – Whatever That Means

8 Mar

The Tortas have returned to Bacalar after two weeks in cold, drizzle and fog. We loved visiting with friends and family, but we didn’t get the usual lovely Austin early spring. The day after we left, the city was shut down with freezing temperatures and ice. Whew!

Travel is tiring no matter how well the trip goes. Even the young adults sitting behind us on the plane chanting “Cancun, Cancun!” didn’t put a damper on our mood. Earplugs helped.

The sunset leaving Tulum heading home to Bacalar.

The sunset leaving Tulum heading home to Bacalar.

Returning to our paradise means kicking our house construction into high gear. We have met with our architect and a three week deadline is ticking to complete the structural plans. It was fun to talk sky lights, niches and ceiling fan placement. We will walk the property on Tuesday with our builder to discuss house placement tweaks to optimize the view and air flow. While it seems that it has taken an inordinately long time to build this house, blessings can come in disguise. We are finally clear on what we want and the universe is getting onboard.

A built-in cabinet that we will incorporate into the house design.

A built-in cabinet that we will incorporate into the house design.

A huge blessing is the current dollar to peso exchange rate. As we prepare to transfer money to our Mexican bank account, the dollar is the strongest it’s been in 22 years. It means  that our cost to build will be less than when we arrived in 2013. Another blessing being showered on The Tortas.

Sunday morning sunrise over Laguna Bacalar.

Sunday morning sunrise over Laguna Bacalar.

We are happy to be settling back into our routine of exercise, meditation and our daily to-do list…make a dentist appointment, schedule maintenance on the truck, clean out the refrigerator, etc. It’s a simple life and extremely satisfying.
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Cobá Center of the Mayan Universe

26 Oct

Since moving to Mexico, Lisa and I have wanted to visit the pyramides of Cobá. It is north, turn left at Tulum and follow the signs. There was a tropical storm predicted but we were unfazed. The weather in Mexico is much like Texas, wait an hour and it changes.

Entrance

Entrance

We arrived early to beat the crowds. Tour buses can empty out and make even a spacious site such as Cobá (almost 50 sq miles which housed 50,000 people at its peak population) feel crowded.

Walking through the jungle.

Walking through the jungle.

We spent $20US for a tour guide. Ixmael, a local guy who taught himself English. He made our trip fun and answered our endless questions.

A great guide shows us around.

Lisa with Karen Flowers, our friend  from Tulum.

Pedicabs made the trekking easier after climbing the highest pyramid in the Yucatan peninsula.

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Nohoch Mul is 138 feet tall. It will be closed to climbing in 2015.

130 steps to the top.

130 steps to the top.

View from the top with rain cloud.

View from the top with rain cloud.

Cobá has wonderful carvings, columns and early Mayan ball courts.

Put a leather ball through the ring without using hands or feet.

Put a leather ball through the ring without using hands or feet.

Stone columns.

Stone columns.

Carving of a Mayan king.

Carving of a Mayan king.

Watching over a grisley ritual.

Watching over a grisley ritual.

They jungle itself was also amazing.

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Shopping opportunity outside the gate.

Shopping opportunity outside the gate.

Driving home, the sky amazed as always.

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The pyramids of Mexico give us added respect for a country with an ancient history. You’re welcome to ride shotgun with the Tortas as we work our way around the Yucatan. See you next week.

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Sunrise of the week.

Sunrise of the week Laguna Bacalar.

It’s Kind Of Like Camping Only Better – My Dad Would Have Been So Proud

17 Aug

Five children, a dog, occasionally my grandmother and a cousin or two joined our childhood camping vacations. It was partly economical but also for the love of being outdoors. My father grew up as a Boy Scout and loved all things merit badge. I learned to build and cook on a campfire, make a sling for a broken arm and identify constellations.  His rule was to leave the campsite cleaner than you found it. My father’s admonitions live in my heart to this day.

Being my father’s daughter has served me well for living in Bacalar in the southern Yucatan. It’s a lot like camping, only better. The windows to our home are persianas which do not seal out the world.

Our alarm clock.

Our alarm clock.

We hear birds squawking, dogs barking, the roosters greeting the sunrise and an occasional goat braying. It’s not all at the same time, usually.

We choose not to use air conditioning even in the heat and humidity of the summer. We cope as do most people here by keeping activity to a minimum during the heat of the day, jumping in the lake in the afternoon and if necessary, taking a shower before bed. The night seems to cool down just enough and we are up with the sunrise.

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 With the windows always open, you can feel the shift in the wind which indicates a possible shower rolling in.

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 My dad would have loved Bacalar. This past week was twenty-eight years since his death. I still see his gait in my son, and his stewardship of the earth in myself and my children. I hope my children and grandchildren will someday share stories of their crazy grandmothers who lived in the jungle in Mexico with their windows open.

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Adventure Begins When Something Goes Wrong

22 Jun

When living in Mexico, buying property and building a house, we are ducks out of water, way out. The best way to have things go wrong is to have expectations of how they should go in the first place. Try as we might to be open to surprises, we didn’t see this one coming.

Our house is being built in an ecologically sensitive area. New laws are being enforced and as with any bureaucracy, it’s a moving target. We were told that to avert paying for a very expensive study on our lot, we would have to remove fifteen “protected” palm trees. It mattered not that the trees were planted by the previous owner and that we had no intention of molesting them in the building process. We would have to remove the trees from the lot and replant them after the building permit is granted or pay as much as $6,000us. Huh?

Now try wrapping your brain around moving five 30 foot high royal palm trees.

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It was suggested that we give the trees to a vivero, landscaper, who would remove them for free and sell to a hotel in Cancun. NOT! Fade to me hugging trees and crying.

Six smaller "foot of elephant" palms that also had to be moved.

Six smaller “foot of elephant” palms that also had to be moved.

After having a conversation with Pedro, who does yard work for us, he assured us that, much to our amazement, the trees could be dug out by hand and moved and he knew other workers who would help with the endeavor.

I have never seen men work so hard in my life. They used picks, levers and ropes and achieved the impossible. Lisa’s truck was commandeered and a small front loader rented. The trees were removed and placed in a protected area so they will hopefully survive. We will then reverse the process to place them around our house to provide shade and beauty.

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Even Mexicans scratched their heads as we tried to explain what and why. We decided that it was an opportunity to landscape that we would never have taken otherwise. Hopefully this time next year I will be writing my blog from a back porch in paradise, under my rustling palms. Fingers crossed.

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Small Town Living in Mexico What No Starbucks?

6 Apr

When we made the decision to move to Mexico’s Southern Yucatan peninsula, it was for as much of what we didn’t find here as what we did. As I ride my bike around town, I see so many sites that delight my eyes. I don’t want to romanticize poverty, but what you and I might consider poverty has it’s wealth in simple living for many. Enjoy some of the sights of Bacalar as it prepares for an influx of tourists for Semana Santa (Holy Week) leading up to Easter.

One of Many Majestic Trees

Enjoying the Shade in Bacalar, MX

Cenote Azul

Cenote Azul A Swimmer’s Paradise

On the Costera - Spiffing Up for the Holiday Week

On the Costera – Spiffing Up for the Holiday Week

A Small Hang Out for the Hipper Crowd

A Small Hang Out for the Hipper Crowd

Simple Traditional Home

Simple Traditional Bacalar Home

Model of Bacalar Found In The City Park

Model of Bacalar Found In The City Park

Looking For a Bathroom or a House to Buy?

Looking For a Baño or a House to Buy?

One of Ten Speedbumps or Tolpes Along the Highway.

One of Ten Speedbumps or Topes Along the Highway Through Bacalar

Gratitude, Gratitude, Gratitude

Gratitude, Gratitude, Gratitude

A Non-blog Blog

23 Feb

Lisa and I have moved into a new location where we will live for the remainder of time until our house is built. At this time it has no wifi which makes daily communication challenging and blogging nearly impossible. While we will be remedying the situation shortly, everything takes a bit longer in Mexico.

My MIL returns to California this week, and hopefully things will settle down a bit. It has been a whirlwind two months of traveling, moving, sightseeing and either being or having company.

Last night we went to Carnival Bacaler. What fun! I think everyone in Bacalar was there. There was a parade, vendors, a huge pachanga. I will know this is my community when I recognize people who are non-English speaking friends. Soon, very soon.

Thought for the day.

Thought for the day.

Sunrise this past week.

Sunrise this past week.

Worth getting up at 6 am.

Worth getting up at 6 am.

Morning visitor.

Morning visitor.

Missing Texas? Really?

19 Jan

Being visitors in our home country and state has been an unusual experience. With a Walmart on every corner, it is difficult to be interested in the passing landscape of highway travel. Driving in traffic is a universal complaint and a very different experience from Mexico which has its own version of congestion. So what exactly do we miss? Now don’t laugh, it’s the Country Western radio station! Yup, you can’t live in Texas without something rubbing off. I listen to the radio in Mexico, but as in the US, there’s way more chatter than music. I love música mexicana, but I cannot follow the DJ dialogue AT ALL and grow bored and turn it off. We both laughed out loud when we found ourselves b-bopping down the road singing along to music that we didn’t know we missed. After all, we met in a CW bar and started our courtship two-stepping.

So yes, there have been surprises during our visit. One that wasn’t unexpected was the birth of our granddaughter Sophia Aria who made her appearance yesterday. She weighted in at 8lb 2oz. The best part for me was seeing my son fall madly in love with his new daughter. As the father of a two year old son who’s life revolves around all things on four wheels, my son has voiced self doubt at his ability to father a daughter. I think we can set that notion to rest.

Please join me in welcoming the newest Torta.

In love with Sophia

In love with Sophia

Loving Sophia

Diaper changin Daddy 

The Newest Torta

Our First Granddaughter

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SMART or Estupida?

13 Oct

I have always done better with a goal, a BIG goal. At age 40 I got through the coming-out process by discovering triathlons. Bike – Cycle – Run. I completed my first triathlon dead last of all participants. Imagine my surprise when I stumbled across the finish line to a cheering crowd and heard my name called to receive an award (I still have it). I had finished third in my age group of three. I had fun and learned a lot, like the need to get all event details instead of assuming the run portion is a 5k (3.2 miles) instead of 5 miles.

Participating in a triathlon fueled my interest in cycling. My 40s were spent on a bicycle, on long rides with Team Roadkill and by myself. My longest event ride was over two days from Houston to Austin in the MS 150. I had fun and learned to really, really pay attention to the weather and not assume a beautiful Texas spring day.

For my 50th birthday I completed my one and only marathon. I joined a training group that met at Runtex in Austin. I logged weekday miles on a treadmill and weekends with the Runtex group that included an experienced leader. I had fun traversing the city on foot and learned not to blindly trust a trainer. Being inexperienced I could have done nothing else and ended up barely finishing the marathon.

And now, retired at age 61, having spent the last year in training for the monumental task of moving to Mexico, I wasn’t exactly looking for a new goal. My body isn’t so keen on running or spending long hours on a bicycle. I love to walk and have dreamed of a trip to Spain to walk the Camino de Santiago. But nothing immediate, that is until this week.

Being a fan of the book, Younger Next Year by Chris Crowley and Harry Lodge, I am aware that as one ages, it is even more important to participate in strenuous physical activity, preferably with a goal in mind. That’s why when I saw the Paddle Marathon Laguna Bacalar, a race the length of Laguna Bacalar scheduled for May 1-3, 2014, my interest was piqued. I’ve already noticed the progress I have made with my kayaking since arriving in Bacalar six weeks ago. I go further every day with less effort. However, the idea of kayaking 46 miles over a two-day period seems daunting, outrageous, even insane. Which is exactly why I want to do it.

I have a sweet little kayak that is sleek and perfect for the race. Before leaving Austin, I invested in a carbon paddle which is lighter than aluminum, having already entertained the thought of a long paddle, perhaps with an overnight stay. Just maybe this half-brained scheme is attainable. At the least, I will have fun and learn stuff. No permanent damage done? Right?

SMART Objectives
S- Specific – Race (and I use that word lightly) the length of Laguna Bacalar
M- Measurable 46 miles over two days
A- Attainable – which remains to be seen
R- Reasonable – it is doable by others, young enough to be my grandchildren
T- Time framed – May 1-3, 2014

There’s plenty of time to train, so if you’re at all interested, please come join me. There will be a kayak film festival and a week of activities surrounding the event. At the very least, you can wave from the shore with your binoculars as I go whizzing by.

Blue Bliss

Blue Bliss

Kayak in Heaven

Paddle Heaven

Thought for the Day

Life Begins

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