Tag Archives: expat living in Mexico

Sometimes The Most Fun Is Unscripted

15 May

With family responsibilities, children, transportation and husband handled, my daughter and I slipped away for a two day, one night adventure to San Francisco. We stumbled into so much fun!

I had wanted to visit a museum and the Legion of Honor Fine Arts Museum was chosen. Except we didn’t expect the extraordinary Haute Couture exhibit by Chinese designer Guo Pei. There was so much glitz and glamor that I was seeing double. Words cannot describe this amazing collection. I was as close to the Met Gala as I’ll ever get.

Dresses were covered in beads, crystals, shells, mink and intricate stitching. I walked around with my eyes wide and my mouth open. One gown was more dazzling than the next.

Stay tuned next week for our continuing story which includes Harry Potter, Louis Vuitton, amazing food and a trip to Napa!

DOS TORTAS

Make art!

Vacation Nation

1 May

A brief hola from the land north of the Mexican border (NOB). I am engaged with grandchildren and for the next few weeks will be taking a blog break.

Many birds of paradise.

Lisa is holding down the fort and Stella is driving her crazy. So enjoy a few pics from the California coast where I’m hanging out for a few days on a short family vaca. On Monday it’s back to Northern California. Until next week….

Walking to the gym is its own workout.
Playing in the chilly Pacific.

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

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.

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

Pave Paradise And

19 Dec

put up another hotel.

Three new apartments across from us. They’ve been sitting empty and unfinished for a year.

We bought our property in 2012 in Bacalar, Mexico. The town is situated on a pristine lake, the second largest in Mexico. At that time the village of Bacalar was small and not particularly memorable. I always thought that if not for the Laguna, no one would give Bacalar a second glance.

A new Private Property sign and fence near our house. The jungle has been cleared by two men and a machete.

During the Covid shutdown, construction was booming in Bacalar. There are new hotels on every corner, sometimes two. The president of Mexico is pushing the Mayan Train project, a tourist train that will connect the major cities and ancient pyramids of the Yucatán. We’re talking 8,000 additional visitors a day. Those tourist dollars and jobs are hard to pass up.

A hotel has blocked our street. We can no longer walk the dogs along the lovely Laguna coast road.

One of the reasons that Bacalar has been so attractive to foreign residents is the lack of US tourists. A four hour drive from Cancun keeps people with a week vacation in the all-inclusives in Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum. The addition of a fast train will change all that.

Tourists will be funneled to many of the quiet Mayan villages.

Not only will the construction of the train tear up the jungle but it will overcrowd the ancient sites of Palenque and Calakmul. Bacalar may be building hotels like crazy but the rest of the infrastructure is sorely lacking. More tourists means more boats which means more pollution in the water. Seasonal floods are already washing pesticides and fertilizers into the Laguna. The striking blue colors near our house are slowly dying.

Crystalline water that is threatened by development. (2012)

What does the future hold for Bacalar and Dos Tortas? We talk all the time about what will be our Plan B. For now we stay put. If and when the train goes through, we will have to make a decision. Stay tuned.

DOS TORTAS

Sometimes A Distraction Is What Is Needed

13 Nov

Life continues to be about healing from back surgery for Lisa. We are both spent from handling the daily basics. Our wonderful house sitter in Bacalar keeps us supplied with photos of the adventures of Stella and Luna. Maybe we should change the name of the blog.

Stella loves her pillow on our back porch. We are missing our pups.
We know who runs our house. Luna was never allowed on the furniture until a house sitter changed all that.
It’s hard to believe she is blind.

The Broken Cookie

12 Sep

When my kids were little, it was not uncommon for them to have a meltdown at the oddest times. After a fun day at the waterpark, some seemingly inconsequential thing would trigger a full blown scream-fest on the way home in the car. We called it the broken cookie syndrome.

One of my favorite pictures of our kids.

It makes no sense to try and talk a child out of a tantrum. A broken cookie tastes the same as a whole one. But after a day of trying to hold it all together, the slightest infraction ie the broken cookie and the wheels fall off.

That’s what happened to me today. We have been four days of caring for our three year old twin granddaughters. We sang songs, read stories, did yoga, drew pictures, and walked to the park, all the things you do with young ones to pass the day. Let’s not forget naps, baths, and bandaids on skinned knees.

Our bundles of fun.

Don’t get me wrong, this was a volunteer gig to help out their parents. Except, the girls were supposed to be in school all day and our job was to transport to and from, feed them dinner and put them to bed. Easy peasy right? Runny noses from allergies made it impossible to go to school in the time of Covid. We thought they would get better as the week progressed but they never did.

Wonderful artwork by the girls in my journal.

Today I had my own broken cookie. I made a broccoli slaw which was a first for me. Raw broccoli, carrots and a peanut sauce. The slaw was my own version of a Pinterest recipe, substituting what I had on hand. Yummy. It was a bit of work and I was excited for dinner.

Lisa came to ask what she could do support dinner prep and I suggested she slice up some tomatoes and cucumbers for the burgers. She misunderstood and added them to my slaw.

I have NO idea why it upset me so badly. I wasn’t mad at her. But I found myself sitting in the bedroom senselessly boohooing. Dear God what is wrong with me? I blame it all on a broken cookie . The straw that broke the camel’s back so to speak. BTW the slaw was still delish.

DOS TORTAS

Broccoli Salad (This recipe lends itself to many options, adding pineapple or apple is nice too)

4 well packed cups small broccoli pieces, stems removed (~2 small-medium heads of broccoli) you can grate the inner stems too.

1 cup thinly sliced celery

1 cup shredded carrot

½ cup dried cranberries

DRESSING:

½ cup plain nondairy yogurt

¼ cup vegan mayo

3 tbsp tahini (or peanut butter)

1 ½ tbsp dijon mustard

1 tbsp maple syrup

2 tsp white miso (optional)

2 tsp apple cider vinegar

¾ tsp fine grain kosher salt

½ tsp pepper

½ tsp garlic powder

Cheesy Roasted Sunflower Seeds

½ cup raw, unsalted sunflower seeds (or peanuts)

1 tbsp nutritional yeast

1 tbsp olive oil (optional)

¼ tsp salt

Mask Distance Vaccinate

8 Aug

As Austin, Texas moved into stage 5 this week, the highest Covid warnings were put back in place. People have been admonished to cease circulating and cover your face, even if you are vaccinated. And of course, get the vaccine.

We planned our trip from our jungle paradise to the US when conditions had vastly improved and we had gotten our vaccines. Having spent the quarantine to date in Mexico has gotten us used to masking up before going anywhere. Unlike Texas, Mexico has no problems requiring masks. We are hoping that wearing a mask and only hanging with vaccinated, careful people will get us through. Fingers crossed.

Our son building a climbing structure for his kids.

It has been wonderful to see family and a few friends. We had a small outdoor gathering of my former coworkers on Thursday. Many cancelled, however it was so good to see people whom I have known and worked with for over twenty years. Everyone is in various stages of retirement. One couple is visiting from Portugal where they recently relocated. What fun!

Please add us to your prayers as we navigate the crazy times we live in.

DOS TORTAS

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