Tag Archives: Chetumal mexico

There’s Nothing We Can Do? I Don’t Think So

22 Jan

The book Sisterhood Is Powerful was my first exposure to feminism. I don’t remember much about the book other than it changed my entire perspective on life. My initial response was anger and then a sigh of relief as the world began to make sense. I wasn’t crazy.


On inauguration day I thought I could skate through pretending it wasn’t happening. Living in Mexico, it is way easier to ignore a lot of the craziness going on in the US. I didn’t take into consideration that the whole world is watching, literally. At my doctor’s appointment on Friday, the waiting room television was tuned to live coverage of the events in Washington. It was like viewing a car accident, horrifying, yet I was unable to look away. The rest of the day was downhill from there.


During the week I had stumbled across a website listing women’s marches scheduled around the world. I was shocked and thrilled to find a walk planned for Saturday morning in Chetumal, a thirty minute drive from our house.


It always starts with a small group of likeminded souls.

I scrambled to get the word out. I badly wanted to feel a part of the the US activities. IMO January 21 turned into a giant “yagya”, a sacred and auspicious ceremony being performed by massive numbers of people all over the planet. It was surely a tipping point. Bacalar had a showing of six women out of twelve! Woohoo.


Our youngest participant.


Getting to know each other over a post walk breakfast.

I don’t see Bacalar as a seat of resistance but I will do what I can to support and assist in any way possible. The most important thing that I saw the march accomplish was to dispel fear. When we are not afraid, we can do anything. Sisterhood really is powerful.



Swan Lake – Lago de Los Cisnes

19 Jun

A ballet in Chetumal? It was a student production with 40 peso tickets ($2.50). I had extremely low expectations. If you have read previous blogs, you know that even though it is the state capital, Chetumal is not exactly the cultural center of Mexico. But we take what we can get from our sister city to the south and off we went our little group of four gringos.


The theater itself was a nondescript building. We took public transportation which was a good decision. There was only street parking available.


Constitution Theater

As with all ballets, the audience was peppered with little girls dressed in their Sunday best.


The doors opened and everyone filed in and got settled. Out came the cell phones. I think some people actually recorded the entire production.


The theater attendees were not well versed in ballet etiquette, which is understandable given the dearth of opportunity in Chetumal. Our little band of gringos led the applause at every opportunity.


Selfies with honorary Torta and neighbor Teresa.

I wish that I had read the synopsis prior to attending. The program was in Spanish of course. With the low lighting and these old eyes, there was no figuring it out. I simply enjoyed the set, costumes, recorded music and performance.


The surprise was that it was wonderful! I was in awe of the young dancers and the professional lead (I am making assumptions here). They got a standing ovation from our little band and none other was more deserved. We chattered all the way home in our taxi how amazing the performance was. The best $2.40 I ever spent! DOS TORTAS




Benefits of Friendliness

1 Nov

Driving in Mexico, we think nothing of being pulled over by youngsters with machine guns. We smile and are relaxed, but then again, we are Dos Tortas.

The upper portion of our hutch. Skylights above add natural light.

The upper portion of our hutch. Skylights above add natural light.

Bacalar is thirty minutes north of the Belize/Mexico border. Because of illegal entry and the smuggling of goods, there is a checkpoint before entering Bacalar from the south. Vehicles are flagged for inspection according to a selection process that is not obvious to us. However, a large black pickup with Texas plates….

The window between our living room and bedroom. There will be a bifold door to provide privacy when desired.

The window between our living room and bedroom. There will be a bifold door to provide privacy when desired.

One week when we were making numerous trips up and down the highway, making purchases for the house and going to the bank, we were pulled over several days in a row by the policia estatal, state police.

Keeping the dogs from digging in the garden. Aren't I clever?

Keeping the dogs from digging in the garden. Aren’t I clever?

The usual questions, Where are you going? Where are you from? What is in the truck?

This time I told the officer that he knew us. I reached out to shake his hand and introduce ourselves. His face lit up with a big smile. He clearly enjoyed our response. Now every time we pass the check point we wave and guess what? They wave back. We haven’t been stopped again.

Day of the Dead. A chance to tell stories and fondly remember our ancestors.

Day of the Dead. A chance to tell stories and fondly remember our ancestors.

I’m sure others have horror stories about being stopped by the federales. Once in college I had a machine gun aimed at my face. Being Dos Tortas or two old women makes us pretty invisible. Not being afraid makes us respected.



Healing a Not Broken Leg – Isn’t Life Amazing?

25 May

Memorial Day weekend 2013, our daughter was getting married. Life was busy with selling our home, getting rid of most of our possessions and winding down our jobs. We went from crazy busy to retirement life in the jungle of southern Yucatan.


Life here is not for everyone. We did not want a large English speaking community with all the amenities of the US. Our nearest city and the capital of the state of Quintana Roo (Row) is about a 40 minute drive. Chetumal (pop 260,000) sits on the boarder with Belize and the Bay of Chetumal. It is not a tourist destination in spite of efforts to make it so.

Museum of Mayan Culture

Museum of Mayan Culture

Chetumal is where we go for medical care. Friday was three weeks since my fateful bike accident and time to return to the traumatologist. Don’t let appearances fool. While the buildings look right out of the 1950’s, the care is top notch.

Clinica Independencia

Clinica Independencia

My experience thus far with medical care has been that it’s low tech but very hands on. Doctors take time. It’s not that high tech isn’t available, MRIs, etc are reserved for more serious situations. Dr Diez-Torres removed my cast, gently manipulated my knee, assessing pain and range of motion. He explained using a model what was going on. Our conversation was in both English and Spanish. We looked at the X-rays again and agreed that my leg probably wasn’t broken. He told me to return to normal activity as I was able and use light weights to do leg extensions to build muscle strength. I felt like I was talking to an equal.


My knee continues to heal. I look forward to swimming and no pain. While life in this corner of the globe is not for everyone, the lack of stress and beauty that abounds makes it perfect for us.


Ah Retired

10 Nov

Two and a half months and we’re beginning to feel the edges of what it’s like to be retired. After a lifetime of “chop wood, carry water, repeat” days begin without an alarm clock or schedule. This week we returned to Chetumal, as my persistent rash is defying usual treatment and we are on to Plan B. We live in such a sanitized world in the US and acclimating to a new environment is a rite of passage for expats here. For some reason the skin really takes a hit. I will never need lip balm again, nor lotion for dry skin, and I will adapt.

Chetumal is the capital city (pop 140,000) of the state of Quitana Roo. It is the source of all things city for those of us living in quiet Bacalar (Walmart, Sam’s, movie theaters, medical, immigration, and live music). It’s a thirty minute drive and Lisa and I are learning our way around as streets are rarely identified and the city layout defies logic.

After a quick visit with Dr. Quintanilla, we headed downtown to El Centro.

Museum of Mayan Culture

Museum of Mayan Culture 

The museum houses both a permanent display of the great Mayan cities and visiting free exhibits. I really enjoyed the Day of the Dead exhibit by artista Carmen Vazquez. Visit our Facebook page to see pictures of her amazing art.

Replica Mayan Village

Replica of a Mayan village


Model of Tikal, Guatemala

Model of Tikal, Guatemala

Mayan Columns

Mayan queen

After our museum visit we discovered a great little Turkish restaurant across the street and treated ourselves to coffee.

Turkish coffee is beautiful little china cups.

Turkish coffee beautifully served in tiny cups.

And now for the best part…we went to our first movie in Mexico…Gravity in 3D (tres day) with Spanish subtitles. With my old person card, we paid about $10US for us both. There were seven other people in the theater. Free museum entry, discounted movies…not bad, and we even enjoyed the movie!

Last night we also stopped to enjoy live music at a restaurant where we are making friends with the staff. Do you believe it, two dates in one week? Ah, we are learning to enjoy the retired life.

Que padre!

Date night with Lisa.

Date night with Lisa at El Pargo

A chance to practice Spanish.

A chance to practice Spanish.

When the mind is like water, calm and peaceful, it reflects the beauty in the world. When it is agitated, you can have paradise in front of you and not see it.

Inicios Nuevos

29 Sep

New beginnings – We marked one month of living in Mexico this week. It still feels like one big vacation. We’re incredibly grateful to have a beautiful home to live in while waiting for our house to sell in Texas and eventually build our home here. Days begin with taking photos of the latest amazing sunrise, yoga, and meditation. Lisa has been working diligently on learning Spanish. She listens to a CD for thirty minutes and has conversations with anyone she comes into contact with. Local folks seemed pleased with her effort and are more than willing to enunciate and use simple language. I am all too familiar with the sensation of one’s head exploding in the effort to learn a second language. It is a necessary part of the process.

We made a new friend, Kathe who lives in Chetumal, about a half hour drive from us. Several years ago, Kathe and her partner traveled from Canada to Panama and back in an RV. She kept a blog which I include here. On her blog she shared a story, “Loose Chickens” by Nancy Vineski. The story was included in Chicken Soup for the RVer’s Soul and made me laugh and think about the choices we have made to live in Bacalar, MX. I include it here. As always, comments and suggestions for future blogs are appreciated. What do you do to rattle your cage? Please share.

Sep 8, 2007
Loose Chickens

By Nancy Vineski

It all started with a few loose chickens. . . .

I was a real estate agent and had gone to check out one of our listed
properties. It was an egg-laying operation, a commercial facility involving
thousands of caged chickens. The warehouse-like building held hundreds and
hundreds of small cages, each containing two hens. The cages were so small
that the chickens were unable to turn around. In front of the chickens, one
conveyor belt brought feed and behind them was another belt that carried
their eggs away. While the plant manager was briefing us, I noticed a dozen
loose chickens and an employee following them and scattering grain.

“Do you need help catching them?” I asked.

“I’m not trying to catch these birds” he replied. “Oh no, we let these
wander around. If the caged ones can’t see a few chickens living a free
life, they’ll lose hope and stop laying their eggs. Without these loose
chickens, the rest will just give up and die.”

Instantly, it struck me how similar our lifestyle was to these caged birds.
How many of us live our lives in cages, looking out and seeing others having
the adventures, living their dreams, being free? I realized that there are
two kinds of chickens: those who live in cages and those who roam freely. I
wanted to be one of those loose chickens!

Within a couple of months, we wangled a year’s unpaid leave of absence from
my husband Tom’s university employers, closed my small business, found
someone to house sit our home, took $10000 out of our retirement savings,
bought an old VW camper-van and set off to explore Mexico and Central

That year stretched into two and we decided not to return to our old jobs.

It’s been nine years now of full-time RVing full-time, exploring full-time
living. The house-sitter became a tenant who became the guy who bought our
house. The camper-van turned into a twenty-five-foot trailer, which turned
into a thirty-seven-foot motor home. And a few years ago our son Bill also
became a full-time RVer – a family of loose chickens roaming free.

Reprinted by permission of Nancy Vineski (c) 2000 from Chicken Soup for the
Traveler’s Soul by Jack Canfield Mark Victor Hansen and Steve Zikman.


Peaceful Beginning to the Day on Lake Bacalar

Some Days Just Amaze

Some Days Just Amaze

With a Good Book

With a Good Book

Loose Chickens

Loose Chickens

The Think You Think You Cannot Do

The Thing You Think You Cannot Do


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