Tag Archives: expat living in Mexico

Life is A Blooming Delight

23 May

We had a bit of long overdue rain last night. There are many flowers blooming, but I thought you might enjoy seeing the orchids popping up here and there. I once tried to raise an orchid in Austin, Texas. Epic fail. It can be done, just not by me.

This little orchid is currently blooming by our dock. It is very fragrant,
Aren’t they gorgeous?

There are more than 25,000 species of orchids worldwide. In the Mexican tropics, where we live, orchids pretty much raise themselves. They thrive in the humidity and shade, clinging to a tree trunk. They are epiphytes, non-parasites, living on another plant, wild and free. They’re a delightful surprise to find while walking around the property, a pop of color and in some cases a whiff of sublime fragrance.

So delicate.
This beauty ( Phaelaenopsis or moth orchid) bloomed for three months in the earlier part of this year.

So kick back. Enjoy whatever is blooming in your life, yard or neighborhood. Life is good and I’m grateful.

DOS TORTAS

Great Nan Is Dead

8 May

My grandmother died a few months before her 95 birthday. I remember coming home from somewhere to my husband and youngest in arms waiting at the door. Before my foot crossed the threshold, my baby blurted out, “great Nan died”.

So many old photos with no dates.

Nan had been sitting on the bed with my mother helping to dress for the day, when her heart just gave out. I would say that it wasn’t a bad way to go, except Nan was mostly deaf and totally ornery. As her 24/7 caregiver, I’m sure that my mother had mixed feelings though she’d never admit it. She adored her mother and repeated frequently how she could never make rice pudding nor potato salad as good as Nan’s.

I was named for my grandmother which didn’t keep our personalities from clashing on more than one occasion. She once prevented my six year old daughter from joining her grandparents for weekday mass because, “you can’t go to church dressed like that.” I had been looking forward to a quiet hour sans daughter. I got mad and told my grandmother to mind her own business. Not my finest hour.

My mother to the left of center. Nan also lost a child to whooping cough and another died at birth.

This Mother’s Day I am thinking of her. She was a single mother during the Depression, working as an operator for Bell Telephone and just about any job she could find, to provide for her family. She loved to drive and frequently flirted with truck drivers by honking and waving. She always had a lifesaver or some other sweet in her purse to delight a grandchild. Nan thought nothing of inspecting me and my four siblings for dirty ears and sending us off to the bathroom if we didn’t meet her standards.

Left bottom was her 81 birthday. She wore a wig because of her thinning pate.

Today her twelve grandchildren (actually there’s two more, but that’s another story)have managed to produce twenty-six grandchildren, and forty-seven greats, as far as we know. Her Irish Catholic blood is passed down from a line of strong women. Her own mother Anna outlived three husbands and was married mother and widowed in one year.

Happy Mother’s Day out there, today and every day, however you mother, whoever you mother, and whatever you mother.

DOS TORTAS

Four generations of moms.

For The Love Of Dogs

25 Apr

I’m not sure when I first started making our dogs’ food. Neither the cheap croquetas sold in Mexico nor the $40 a bag specialty diet the vet offers, fits the bill. I’m too cheap and don’t care to drive 40 minutes if I were low on fancy food.

Probably I just started adding leftovers to their dried food and it took off from there. I have looked at Pinterest and YouTube for recipes but mostly, as with the rest of life, I make it up as I go along.

A sad street dog to a princess.

It’s easy and I probably make a batch about once a week. I label the container, which Lisa appreciates, as sometimes it’s hard to tell what’s what in our refrigerator.

This week we had lots of leftover salad, including beets.

Caveat, I am not a purist. I will not buy them steak. I just want my doggos to be healthy. The truth is, they snarf down whatever I put in front of them, no thanks given, none expected. They’re dogs.

A street urchin to a beauty.

Main ingredients:

Brown rice, stale corn tortillas, cooked barley or raw oats.

Tuna fish, eggs, beans, occasionally meat

Fruit and vegetables- such as grated carrots, apple cores, ripe bananas, etc

Any leftovers, soup, spaghetti, or casserole we’re tired of.

We eat predominately at home, so there’s always leftovers.

Once when our kids were young, we went to the Texas coast for a long weekend. A beach goer walking by and glancing into the open trunk of my Honda Civic, said “You all eat better camping than we eat at home!” Eating a fresh, varied diet has kinda always been my thing. Our dogs eat well, are healthy and we have very few leftovers. Win win.

DOS TORTAS

The truth.

Finding My Way

25 Apr

Swimming has now become a daily routine. I no longer have to brace myself for the plunge into chilly water, as days are creeping into the 90s (32c) on Laguna Bacalar in southern Mexico. The water is getting noticeably warmer and in a month or so, it will feel like stepping into a bath.

I have been working on my swimming stroke for years studying and practicing Total Immersion Swimming. I point my nose toward the bottom, keeping my neck and spine aligned. Catch and pull toward my thigh while cork screwing my body through the water. Pull, rotate, pull rotate, 1, 2, 3. Kicking is not the frantic churning of feet in an effort to propel oneself through the water. Stroke, kick, stroke, kick. It’s a beautiful dance gliding with the grace of a porpoise (at least I try) rather than laying flat like a squat tugboat. 163, 164, 165.

Sometimes I count, sometimes I sing, “Imagine all the people, living life in peace, you ooo may say I’m a dreamer….” I also like to float on my back watching the clouds and the birds. An occasional kayaker passes but for the most part the lake is all mine.

There is one thing, with all this pulling, and singing and counting, I am swimming all over the place. There are no lane lines as in a public pool and I’m not sure if it’s the currents, the wind or my uneven pull, but one minute I’m paralleling the coast and the next I’m heading for open water. I zig and zag and without repeatedly lifting my head, I never know where the heck I am.

My goal is to reach that point off in the distance.

I suppose it’s all a metaphor for life. Some days I certainly am going around in circles. Regardless, when I climb the ladder out of the water, I am flush with gratitude, a feeling of supreme accomplishment and a laugh at not knowing where I am or where I’m going, but so happy to be alive.

DOS TORTAS

Quarantine Penpals

7 Mar
Sunday Sunrise

I had a pen pal in fifth grade. I wish I could say that we still write to each other. I would have a story worthy of the evening news. Truth be told, I don’t remember much of our penship, not even where she lived or how long we corresponded.

Letter to my father.

When attending college in Mexico in the seventies, I wrote a letter to my father. I found it among his things when he died. A keepsake for sure. He had written a letter to me that I responded to. I wish I still had it.

Do we even know how to write?

For awhile I lived in Okinawa, Japan. It was the eighties, before smart phones, computers and instant communication. I hand wrote letters on blue, tri-fold airmail paper. They took awhile to arrive stateside but the fifteen hour time difference made phone calls challenging.

In the time of Covid I have nurtured a few pen pal relationships. One is with a guy I met on our cruise to the Panama Canal a year ago. He and his wife hung out with us on board and we knew they would be good travel companions. Dan likes to write. He sends missives that are entertaining and detailed. He is a good storyteller and together we exchange our lives in lockdown.

Panama City

Someday they will come to Mexico. Perhaps when we are all vaccinated, when Covid cases are manageable and when we can hug each other and go out. Won’t that be grand?

DOS TORTAS

A Very Different Sort Of Weekend

21 Feb

Last week, I was hugging the toilet and not after a night of debauchery in Cancun. Truthfully I’ve never been a debauchery kind of gal, but back in my youthful days, when guys in Mexico would keep the drinks coming, I learned about alcohol the hard way.

Celebrating my 21 birthday in Mexico. Heading out for a night on the town with my best girl.

Now, after living a sedate retired life in Mexico for seven years, I’ve never been this sick. And I’m still not sure what caused the intestinal upset, fever, etc. A course of antibiotics seems to be doing the trick and upping our hygienic game is in the cards. We buy all our produce in a small town mercado. It was probably only a matter of time, although outbreaks of things I can’t pronounce occur in the US food chain all the time.

A lovely small town market in Bacalar.

Wednesday I left for the much postponed trip to the US Consulate in Playa del Carmen, to renew my expired passport. The bus ride was quiet and socially distant. The required masks contributed to the tranquility and I curled up and slept most of the four hour trip.

First trip out in a pandemic.

The little boutique hotel that I had booked turned out to be a real gem. The room was $45US and included a full-on off the menu breakfast. My stomach was finally starting to accept food and I enjoyed it immensely.

House of the Flowers
Seafood soup for dinner. Very typical Mexican food.

Playa del Carmen was hopping and the little I got to see hobbling around on my still painful ankle was mostly mask-less. Turning my paperwork in at the consulate was the easiest and least painful part of the trip. I’m now sitting in the bus station waiting for the return trip to Bacalar. If I had postponed yet again, I probably would have been able to enjoy myself more. And against the voices in my head, the consulate wouldn’t have cared a bit. Oh well, live and learn.

DOS TORTAS

The Best Laid Plans

10 Jan

On Monday of this week, the cast came off my broken leg (Taking Staying Home To A Whole New Level). I had been counting the days, hours, minutes… I had it in my head that I would be able to start walking and getting my life back. How silly am I?

My passport (Living On Borrowed Time) had expired in mid-December and I admit to some anxiety about being without a valid passport while living in Mexico, in the time of Covid. My renewal appointment for April was canceled outright due to the shut down. Finally in December I got a date that I had to postpone after breaking my left fibula. It was only a small break, nothing dramatic. So why was I still in pain four weeks later and wanting to rip the cast off with my teeth!

I rescheduled with the US Consulate for January seventh. I would travel by bus to Playa del Carmen, a couple of hours away. I would spend the night and give myself plenty of time to take a taxi and be at the appointment by noon. Sounds like a plan, right? Crutches be damned.

Sometimes my life feels totally upside down.

Only I didn’t count on the level of discomfort I’d still be in when the cast came off. I must have sprained my ankle pretty badly on top of the fracture. It’s still swollen and bruised. No weight bearing for two more weeks. That didn’t keep me from plowing ahead with my plans. Hotel reserved, check. Bus ticket purchased, check.

https://youtu.be/BEyjS69ZEIQ Hotel Maria Bonita

On Wednesday morning my beloved spouse sat me down and informed me in her most loving, sincere tone, that I was out of my mind. I wanted to object, be right, and revolt, but that small voice that I so wanted to ignore, knew she was right.

How many times has this happened?

We’ve arrived at this place in our relationship after twenty-six years where we trust each other. She’s got my back. I also know that my stupid decisions aren’t without consequences to her. I know I’m selfish, but I try not to be insane. So the best laid plans were cancelled, again. The consulate will reschedule and I’ll have more time to heal. The blog I had hoped to write for today was postponed as well. Oh well, it’s not like any of us are going anywhere any time soon.

DOS TORTAS

Self Image and Aging

25 Oct

This week I bit the bullet, so to speak and started taking blood pressure medication. This is after years of a vegan diet, daily meditation and an exercise regime. Both my parents had high blood pressure. Apparently one third of hypertension is hereditary. Getting older is definitely not for sissies.

Thanks for the genes Mom and Dad. My parents were married 50 years.

I’ve always had enviable numbers. Through the birth of three children my midwives were in awe of my low pressure. Health fairs and work related screenings evoked comments like, “wow, I wish my pressure were as good as yours.”

Keeping track this month.

During the last year or so of routine doctor’s visits, I’ve seen raised eyebrows and looks of concern. Don’t you just hate it? I’ve hunkered down on my eating but had to finally admit that this is as good as it gets. My battery operated home monitor won’t budge. I’ve even changed the batteries and had Lisa take her BP for comparison. No dice, the numbers aren’t good.

My doctor finally said something this week that clicked. He told me to take the medication and monitor how I FEEL. Hopefully my energy will improve. This is a trial for a month, at least I tell myself. Evidence says otherwise. We live too far from a hospital and a stroke is nothing I’d wish on anyone, least of all me.

Our doctor Oscar. Do you have your doctor’s cell phone number?

It’s going to take awhile for my heart to adjust to the medication. I woke the first morning feeling like I’d been hit by a truck. It may take even longer to change my self image.

DOS TORTAS

Self image can be a double edged sword.

Voting From Mexico – No Matter What It Takes

23 Aug

I would expect that everyone in the US and world is aware of barriers currently being put in place to reduce the ability to vote in the upcoming 2020 presidential election.

Living as an expat in Mexico, we’re used to having to stand on our heads to get our voices heard and counted. There are many steps involved. If we can do it, you certainly can, so please get on it.

Our permanent address in Texas is provided by Escapees.com. They are predominately a service provider to collect mail for RVers who travel and live out of their campers.

It’s handy for us. Escapees holds onto our mail until we are visiting the US or have a guest coming down who has space in their luggage.

We use the address they provide on our driver’s licenses, for banking and for voting. Texas, as a red state does not make voting easy. Surprise, surprise. Here are the steps we go through to vote.

1. Download from vote.org a REQUEST for a ballot and fill it out.

2. That request form is then hand carried to the US by a friend who is traveling. (We had planned to be in the US to vote, but Covid-19 changed that option).They will mail it to our county election office.

3. Polk County will then mail our BALLOT to a friend who will send it to us by FedEx or DHL which delivers to Mexico.

4. Upon receipt, we will fill out the official ballot and FedEx it back to Polk County Election Office.

This week I posted to a local FB page in an effort to get ballots NOTB (North of the Border) to vote in the upcoming presidential election. I was dismayed by the following response.

I do not know this person but presume the Biden-Harris frame on my picture had something to do with it. So much suspicion is sad.

If we can do it, you can do it. Please vote November 3, no matter what it takes.

DOS TORTAS

Fvap.gov

Vote.org

Living On Borrowed Time

5 Jul

My passport expires mid-December 2020. I was reminded by a friendly airline attendant the last time I traveled. (Seems like ages ago.) With added security measures, one cannot travel with less than six months left on a passport. You do the math, July! And somehow July is already here.

Leaving myself lots of time, I had an appointment for March 18 at the US Consulate in Playa del Carmen, about a two hour drive toward Cancun. New photos, check, directions to the Consulate, check, application filled out, check, prepaid return envelope from FedEx, check, renewal fee, check. I was all ready.

While giving up my passport always makes me nervous, my research told me that it was a relatively painless process and that I would have my new passport fairly quickly.

Then it happened, Covid and the quarantine. An email arrived the night before my appointment. The Consulate would be closed until further notice.

I have called several times for a status update. Still closed. They will issue emergency passports only. I once had my passport stolen, in Greece. I was issued a temporary passport to get me home to the US. That wouldn’t be bad if I absolutely needed to leave Mexico. The trouble is that the US is not renewing passports either. That means that I could be stranded in the States for who knows how long. Not what I want for sure.

Stela helps write my blog.

I will keep calling but with the cases of Covid going up in both Mexico and the US, things are not looking good. What would it mean if I were living in Mexico on an expired passport? I have no idea. As with so many other things in our lives, I’ll say a prayer and take it one day at a time.

DOS TORTAS

Emilie Vardaman

travel and random thoughts

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