Tag Archives: Laguna Bacalar

A Day To Celebrate Gratitude

27 Nov

My first favorite activity to celebrate the US holiday of Thanksgiving is watching the New York Macy’s Day Parade. I remember as a child, sitting with my dad, who loved parades. Every year we said we’d go and never did. At my brother’s house, the TV is so large you can see the performers’ nose hairs.

Turkey day tradition.
Santa closes the show.

A newer tradition that I enjoy is the Westminster dog show. I caught the end in time to watch Winston the Frenchy win best of show.

Miss my puppers.

Of course the day would not be complete without stories of Thanksgiving’s past. The family memories that we are making and passing down are what it’s all about. “Remember the time…”

We saw a dolphin off the back of my brother’s boat. Lisa got the money shot.
Walking the neighborhood.
What it’s all about. Family and food.

DOS TORTAS

Florida Same Only Different

19 Nov

After two days of intense travel that turned out to be even more difficult than I imagined, we are finally in Florida, USA. If you look on a globe, you’ll see that Bacalar and the Florida Keys are the same latitude more or less. I’m looking at the same swaying coconut palms from our Key Largo balcony.

Raining

There were some sweet moments over the last two days, like visiting with this child on the bus who was intensely studying my art journal. I love kids and am so happy that I have enough Spanish language skill to be able to talk to them.

She intently studied every sketch, turning the pages slowly.
Travel Art Journal
Adiós Mexico

Sunrise in our hotel room in Puerto Morelos, outside of Cancun.

Also the delightful couple who are minding our dogs while we are gone. Ben from Ireland and Katrin from Austria.

We will be enjoying my siblings and assorted nieces and nephews and a grand holiday meal. I’m sure all the crazy travel expenses and headaches will fade into the distance. Not!

DOS TORTAS

A Scary Close Call – Hurricane Lisa

5 Nov

Living in the tropics makes us vulnerable to hurricanes, plain and simple. Over the years we have taken measures to ensure our safety and ability to ride out whatever Mother Nature throws at us.

Facing the Laguna.

After several years of mopping up water on our screened porch, we added hurricane shutters. Our biggest threat is wind. I imagined a branch flying through our screens. Yikes.

“X” marks the spot. At the time this was posted, it wasn’t even raining at our house.
Bacalar waiting for the rain from Hurricane Lisa.

Lisa came ashore in Belize, which is south of us.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=-O11pydzb38&feature=share

Since we are not on the ocean, there is no fear of storm surge. We have built drainage both outside and in. At some point we’d like to add solar as back up. The other option is a generator. In the nine years we have lived here, we’ve been very very lucky.

The morning after.

We finally got some wind and a downpour during the night. My wife slept through it all.

DOS TORTAS

Too Old To Learn Spanish – Not

23 Oct

Some people have a knack for languages. Research shows that the earlier you start, the easier it is to learn. Rolling your r’s and softening your d’s is just some of the oral gymnastics required to speak Spanish.

We drove out of Texas on September 1, 2013. Lisa’s first foray into learning Spanish was translating highway signs. Many were self explanatory. Others not so much.

Si toma no maneja – If you drink don’t drive

No deje piedras sobre el pavamiento – Don’t leave rocks on the highway (sometimes a form of civil protest)

Más vale tarde que nunca – Better Late Than Never

Works for us and it’s free!

After nine years of using the application Duolingo, Lisa can hold her own in most conversations. I joke that I can’t talk about her behind her back any more because she understands almost everything. Her main skill is not being afraid of sounding foolish. I remember overhearing her tell a friend’s Mexican parents to “talk to me like a two year old “. She is not afraid of making mistakes. Locals really appreciate her effort.

Lisa at the pyramids of Teotihuacan 2017.

For me, I lived in Mexico and learned Spanish in my twenties. In the beginning of our time in Mexico, I was doing all the translating. Today Lisa thinks nothing of heading to the hardware store, pharmacy or market by herself. I’m still in charge of phone calls, government documents and doctor’s appointments, although I sometimes need help with technical language. God bless Google Translate.

Living with a Mexican family in 1974.

Living in the country who’s language you are trying to learn helps, but so does determination and perseverance. It is said that learning a second, or third language helps keep your brain sharp and “young”. I guess for us, we’re getting younger every day.

DOS TORTAS

Finding Your People

9 Oct

You’ve probably read about “Blue Zones”. They are areas of the planet where people live longer, healthier and happier. Studies have identified commonalities that we all can incorporate into life to improve health and longevity.

The one important area of the circle that has eluded us has been having a community of friends and family that we socialize with and depend on. When we first explored moving to Bacalar, we found what appeared to be a vibrant social community. There were parties and the potential for numerous friendships, or so we thought. In the nine years we have lived here, much has changed. People moved on, Covid hit and we have grown more and more isolated in our beautiful jungle home.

The view from our porch.

This week the proverbial shit hit the fan. Lisa’s mom has not been doing well since her bout with Covid. There have been multiple doctor visits as we attempted to figure out and give her some relief from symptoms that have put a halt her day to day activities.

Last photo before Covid.

Also this week, Lisa and I both broke out in some jungle crud rash that is itchy, and causing small, burning blisters. I will not post any pictures.

I had a molar pulled due to a broken root. Hopefully I am a candidate for an implant down the road. Again, no pictures.

On top of all of this and more that I won’t go into, the car broke down. Weird smells and even weirder noises is enough to stress us out big time which I’m sure is a no-no for Blue Zone living.

When I woke today my game plan was clear, ask for help. As a USer, lesbian and overall pain in the ass, my modus operandi is, figure it out, do it myself, “I’ve got this”. Well, not today folks.

David, the general contractor who built our house took Alice to her doctor appointment and provided translation ❤️

I had made a friend at the gym who mentioned that he had an auto mechanic. We have found it so important to know people who know people. I called Rod and his mechanic is at our house right now working on the car. We have been loosing sleep over all this drama, which is never a good thing.

A burned out alternator is not in our wheelhouse
My hunky gym rat. Thank you Rod for sending your mechanic.

I’m not sure what’s with us and hunky guys but we are so grateful for the help. The car is fixed and Alice has an inner ear infection which is highly treatable. Breathe, relax. I guess you never know where your people will come from. Relationships of all sorts are worth nurturing and sometimes you do that by being vulnerable and asking for help. Friends can always say no, but sometimes they surprise you.

DOS TORTAS

Life Is Just A Box Of Chocolates

25 Sep

We got home Wednesday from a two-week toodle to the US. I went for my annual physical and a mammogram. We also got ANOTHER Covid booster. The main reason for the visit however was for Lisa to see the orthopedic surgeon for follow-up and release of care. She had a spinal fusion one year ago. We had the appointment booked months out. The doctor’s office cancelled the day before.

Up and at ‘em within hours of surgery 2021.

Trips to the US are quite involved. First there’s the flight. We buy more expensive tickets in order to fly direct, no layovers. Sitting for hours on planes, shuffling through security, waiting in line in airports, taxis and buses, all takes its toll on our bodies. It’s a twelve hour return travel day and that’s only to an hotel in Puerto Morelos. There’s another four hour bus ride to Bacalar the following day. It takes two days of travel to and from Austin.

Puerto Morelos 30 minutos from Cancun airport.

The Veterans Administration picked up the tab for Lisa’s original surgery. There is insurance for procedures that the VA hospitals aren’t equipped to perform. Silly us, we assumed that approving the surgery would include the final release of care appointment. Sigh.

We did manage to visit family and friends, eat some good food and celebrate Mexican Independence Day – Texas style.

A lovely day hanging out poolside.
Dos Tortas with our eldest son.

We are so glad to be home.

DOS TORTAS

We Haven’t Been Arrested Yet Part 3

28 Aug

I have always said that the test of any relationship is to travel together. Managing the twists and turns of adventure can be fun and stressful. We rarely do scripted travel.

Chiang Dao Nest boutique hotel and restaurant.

Our overnight bus deposited us in the sleepy village of Chiang Dao with no taxis in sight. I left Lisa with the luggage and wandered in search of something, but I didn’t know what. I found a clothing store getting ready for the day and explained as best I could to the proprietor what we needed. With an old school phone call, two scooters appeared as if by magic. The drivers grabbed our duffles, loaded us as passengers behind them and off we went careening down the road, hopefully, to our hotel.

Since the day was still quite young, we dropped off our luggage and set about on foot to explore the tropical environment. Unfortunately we forgot to bring a camera.

We passed this temple while walking.

Taking a right out of the hotel entrance, we began a lovely, early morning stroll down a country road in Thailand. The air was fresh and the birds loud. We were in heaven.

The road narrowed to a trail which turned into a rickety stair. There was a sign that we couldn’t read. Whenever we travel, Lisa always poses the question, “Are we allowed to do this?” My attitude is a shrug. What could go wrong? We haven’t been arrested yet.

We climbed, and climbed and climbed over 500 steps, eventually figuring out that we were entering a monastery. Bald men in orange robes were going about their morning routine. Laundry was hung about and incense floating through the air. No one paid us any mind as we continued to climb the stairs.

500 and some up and down.

Eventually we discovered the main attraction. With eyes wide and mouths agog we entered a huge cave filled with gold Buddhas and flickering candles. We certainly weren’t in Kansas anymore. I can close my eyes and still feel that rarified holy environment. I don’t think they let women be Buddhist monks, but I was ready to move in.

It took months before I realized that the Golden Buddha cave was where our friends got married! They didn’t leave a lot of breadcrumbs so I was completely surprised when the lightbulb went off. What a trip! And we weren’t done yet.

DOS TORTAS

Thailand Vacation Location Part 2

21 Aug

When I heard on the radio that the best way to help Thailand recover from the devastating 2004 tsunami was to take our vacation dollars there, I was all in. My friend Joe’s wedding had left breadcrumbs for us to follow. We made reservations at the same hotel in Chiang Dao, Northern Thailand.

Chiang Dao Nest

The flight from Austin went through Houston and on to Tokyo. We had a five hour layover in Tokyo and an additional nine hour flight to Bangkok. The flight is mostly a blur except for being squeezed into a cramped three seat row and a total travel time of almost twenty-four hours.

In Bangkok we hired a tuktuk driver to tour us around the city. It’s a hopping place and we could have spent a lot more time there, visiting temples, getting massages and eating amazing food. After Bangkok the plan was to take the train to northern Thailand. We had reservations at the same B&B that our friend had stayed at for his wedding. All good, except when we went to buy tickets, we discovered that the trains were on strike.

Tuktuks adventure on three wheels.

In case you wondered, we are not high dollar travelers. We fly in the cheap seats and as long as hotels are clean and safe, we’re good. We were bummed to find out that the trains were unavailable but when the travel agent recommended the overnight bus, we though, why not?

Reclining Buda Bangkok

The overnight bus could be a blog post in and of itself. Imagine a double decker hotel on wheels. Seats recline and stack and other than a bit of snoring, we slept like babies rolling down the highway. What an experience!

We arrived at Chiang Dao around 7:00am. Nothing was open and there were no taxis to be found. We also had no idea how far our hotel was. Little did we know that it was the beginning of one of the most amazing days of our lives. Stay tuned.

https://www.chiangdao.com/thailand.pdf

DOS TORTAS

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

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

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