Tag Archives: Inspiration

Telling Travel Stories – Belize

30 Jul

In 2003, Lisa and I tootled on down to Belize. I had perused a book at Book People in Austin that touted Belize as the perfect retirement location. Why not? We planned our vacation to check it out.

It was quite an adventure getting to our selected hotel, the Black Rock Ecolodge. Belize City was a quick flight from Houston and surprisingly affordable. We hailed a “chicken bus” (third class, no AC) to San Ignacio on the Belize/Guatemala border. The lodge was another seven miles down a pitted, winding, dirt road. We found out later that the taxi driver had a rifle under his seat. The Belize border was not the safest place in those days.

The following morning at breakfast we met a couple of USers who were getting ready to venture back into San Ignacio to join a tour group across the Guatemala border to the pyramids of Tikal. We immediately dropped our non-existent plans, changed into our hiking boots and joined them. Best decision of the trip!

Tikal is an amazing Mayan site. The closing scene in the original Star Wars was filmed here.

The folks that we joined were from across the US and a very interesting bunch. Belize is a small country and we bumped into them more than once and enjoyed their company immensely.

A sunset/full moon sail around the island of Caye Caulker with our new friends.

One of the solo travelers in the group was Joe. He would soon be off to start his tour in the Peace Corps and Belize was his last hoorah. He was partaking of the Belizean rum as if they might run out. I found him to be entertaining and when he talked about his blog, I was eager to follow. I had always dreamed about joining the Peace Corps in my younger days. Following him was my first experience with a blog. After all, it was 2003. He was funny and I looked forward to each post.

Caye Caulker in 2003 and today.

Joe was assigned to Bangladesh and his blog was riveting. He described the poverty and something he abhorred, the violence against animals. However, it didn’t take him long to meet someone and was smitten. She was also assigned to Bangladesh. The blog took a lighter tone as they planned a wedding, in Thailand, in December 2004. If you don’t remember your history, look it up. Their wedding affected us in ways we couldn’t have predicted. Next week I will continue the story of how we followed in their footsteps and traveled to Thailand in 2005 and the surprises that unfolded.

DOS TORTAS

Some People Don’t Live To Seventy

24 Jul

How on earth did I live to seventy? I remind myself frequently that many people don’t get here. You can read everyday in the news where people fall off mountains, piss off the wrong crazy, or just wind up in the wrong place at the wrong time. Living to seventy is definitely a blessing and a gift I don’t take lightly.

Michael on my right. My hand is on the surgical scar where his scull was cut open and stapled together again.

My brother didn’t make it. He had a damn brain tumor.

I do my best to not leave life up to chance. I eat salads, go to the gym and not live in…you know, Croatia, Panama, Sri Lanka, or the US.

On Thursday a rapid home test came back inconclusive.

I know death will catch up with me eventually. This week I had a fever and was certain I had Covid. It’s hard not to be paranoid these days when absolutely everyone I know, including my four year old granddaughters has it. Breathe, relax.

My negative test results.

I’m doing my best to be peaceful and live in the moment, and praying for everyone, including you.

DOS TORTAS

I Hate Scary

17 Jul

My mother-in-law loves scary movies. If you walk past her house in the afternoon, it sounds like someone is being murdered. Well, they are, only on Netflix.

Alice’s little house.

First off, the volume is so loud, due to her hearing, or lack thereof. It’s a good thing we live out in the jungle. Mexicans really crank their music anyway so I think most of the country is already deaf. She fits right in.

Stop in and sit a spell.

We have headphones for Alice when she comes down the hill to watch movies with us. She can adjust her personal volume so our ears don’t bleed.

Alice on her way to vacation in California June 29. Puerto Morelos, Mx.

This week Alice almost died of Covid. She is in California with Lisa. She contracted the virus after a family 4th of July (American Independence Day) picnic. The doctor at Urgent Care declined to prescribe antivirals for this petite seventy-eight year old. Why? We have no idea.

Alice and me during lockdown.

Alice had severe diarrhea which shut down her kidneys. She became septic and critical. I’ve always said that medicine in the US is crappy at prevention but at its best in an emergency. She went from critical to discharged in two days. She is up and able to walk unassisted with a walker and feeling much better.

Lisa cheerleading her mom.

Alice is an amazing, resilient woman. All those trips to the gym paid off! I look forward to hearing screaming coming from her house again soon. Gratitude gratitude gratitude.

DOS TORTAS

Please, please WEAR A MASK

Taking Cold Showers

10 Jul

“Cold showers are any showers with a water temperature below 70°F (21.1C). They may have health benefits. Water therapy (also called hydrotherapy) has been used for centuries to take advantage of our body’s tendency to adapt to harsher conditions. As a result, our bodies become more resistant to stress.” (Google)

I’m not sure the water temperature coming out of our shower is below 70 degrees, but compared to the sweaty jungle temps of Bacalar, Mexico, it definitely feels cold.

Danskin sprint distance triathlon back in the day.

When I was training to run the Austin marathon, our coach suggested sitting in an ice bath. First sit in enough water to cover the legs, then have someone slowly add ice. Amazingly, the process helps tremendously with recuperating from muscle soreness and strain, and wasn’t as painful as it sounds.

Capital of Texas Triathlon May 2003

I recently watched this Netflix documentary called The Ice Dive. A fascinating world record that I have no wish to challenge.

https://youtu.be/0_QWamRowc0

Laguna Bacalar never really gets cold, in spite of what the locals think. Winter is actually my favorite time to swim, as the water feels too much like soup most of the year.

Preparing for the Bacalar open water competition.

Weird as I am, I’ve come to like my “cold” showers. Give it a try. I think the benefits will amaze you. Let me know how it goes.

DOS TORTAS

Checking Privilege At The Door

12 Jun

Life is slowly returning to pre-Covid days which for me includes Thursday night drawing class. This week we had a group of about eight meeting on the second floor over the Pirate bar. We draw with our non-dominant hand, left handed for me, which helps to develop hand/eye coordination.

Left handed drawing.

The evening started out delightfully with a shapely model. All too often we have young, skinny models with no hips or butt. During a break someone turned on music that was louder than I liked. Then the model, while posing for a longer sketching period, began reading aloud in Spanish. With the reading and the music, it was hard for me to concentrate. Then someone lit a cigarette! Yikes.

My head began to spin. Needless to say I’m the oldest artist in the room. I know how old people are labeled cranky or finicky. While I didn’t want to come across that way, it was exactly how I felt!

An enjoyable evening turned into an internal dialogue with the teacher, requesting that the class suit my needs, turn down the music, and NO smoking. I was clearly no longer having fun. So I gathered my things and left.

During the days that followed, I have realized that it is not the responsibility of the group to meet my needs. If someone smokes, I am quite capable of asking them to go outside. I will also bring my earplugs, as I do in the gym, to protect my hearing.

I am so privileged in many ways here in Mexico. An older, white (from the US) educated, wealthyish woman is pretty much at the top of the heap. Time to check my privilege at the door.

Naked reading.

So I give myself permission to leave the class if I need to, without the angst and self recrimination, and I realize that privilege means that something that is a problem for me is not necessarily a problem for anyone else.

DOS TORTAS

The Loss Of An Artist And Friend

24 Apr

When an artist dies, the art that never was is often mourned with as much grief as—if not more grief than—the individual themself. The individual, after all, was flesh and blood. It’s the art that’s immortal.” Esme Wang

Sometimes we don’t know what someone means to us until they’re gone. Filiberto Ayala had more talent in his little finger than I will ever have in my whole body. He also had more heart.

Me learning body painting from the master.
Such talent.

Fili died this week of brain cancer. I never did find out what kind. Coming from a poor, uneducated family, it probably didn’t make any difference to them. Having lost my youngest brother to a glioblastoma, it mattered to me.

He spent days painting this mural in our bathroom. I see him there everyday.
What a gift he gave me.

I had plans to visit him again on Monday. He died that morning before I could get there. When I went to pay my respects, he was laid out in a coffin in the living room with family and friends sitting outside. There was going to be an all night vigil and cremation the following day. I wish I could have stayed. I think it would have been awkward. At least that’s what I tell myself.

His art is not immortalized in museums, but on walls and in our hearts.

Fili’s Facebook page was flooded with photos, accolades, and stories. He was loved by many, an amazing, artist, son, father and friend. Go with God dear Filiberto.

DOS TORTAS

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

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

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