Tag Archives: Laguna Bacalar

It’s Good To Be Home

5 Dec

I left Austin via magic carpet this past Wednesday on the first flight out scheduled for 8:30 am departure. I had a rental car to gas up and return. International flights require arriving at the airport three hours ahead of time. My sleep was restless so I got up and was at the airport waaaaay too early. Oh well.

I arrived to a rainy Cancun which made locating the car a bit of a challenge. Our house sitter had left it for me ten days prior. I prayed it would start, and it did! Much gratitude.

There was bumper to bumper traffic leaving the airport and construction along the Playa del Carmen highway. My gas tank was getting low and I planned to stop on my way out of Tulum. Way too many travelers had the same idea. There were long lines at the gas pumps so I crossed my fingers and kept going. True to the season I hit a thunder storm which slowed my progress. By the time I made it to the next gas station, I was feeling nervous and coming up with contingency plans.

I made it home to Bacalar safely and spent the first few days putting out fires. One of them was no internet and thus the tardiness of the blog. I’m sitting here watching large, fat, black squirrels prance on our coconut palms. Their antics make me laugh, breathe, and relax. It’s good to laugh. Welcome home.

DOS TORTAS

https://youtu.be/zJ6VT7ciR1o

Living Life In A Soap Opera

24 Oct

In Mexico telenovelas (television novels) are quite popular, providing the excitement of rags-to-riches story lines, marrying your long lost sibling, narco kidnappings and medical miracles, to name a few genres. However, as Dos Tortas we do our best to avoid drama in our life, but sometimes the theatrics finds us. Sigh.

Life as a telenovela.

We left our lovely home in Bacalar, Mexico on Wednesday to catch an afternoon flight out of Cancun direct to Austin, Texas. All the signs were good, Lisa saw an illusive toucan on the ride up, which is always a good omen. The rainy dark grey sky broke over Tulum and the sun shone through making the ride much more pleasant. Looking out the plane window as we took off, I saw a beautiful rainbow and we landed in Austin under an enormous orange full moon. Little did I know what was to come.

Not the greatest picture but a dramatic rainbow.

The plan was to get all the pre-op out of the way and relax leading up to Lisa’s spinal fusion on Monday. Ah, the best laid plans.

Hunter’s moon over Austin.

On Thursday I woke with an odd pain in my crotch. It stabbed at me when I walked to perform morning ablutions, how odd. As the day progressed it was clear that the pain was not going away nor would it be ignored, but I tried. By Friday I surmised that I had a stress fracture in my pelvis. I have osteoporosis and this is not my first dog and pony show with broken bones. Miracle of miracles we got in quickly at a local sports medicine clinic. An X-ray confirmed my self-diagnosis. Not one of those times I wanted to be right.

There are not enough curse words in the dictionary for how I felt. The doctor recommended follow-up with an endocrinologist, pain management and rest (about two months to heal). I cannot ignore treatment for my osteoporosis any longer. It seems I am a ticking time bomb.

Thanks to a friend, we have a loaner.

My plans to care for Lisa through her spinal surgery just got more complicated. Good thing we went grocery shopping right off the bat. The friends we are staying with are a great help and it looks like Lisa and I will be sharing a walker. This is NOT how I thought it would go. As with all telenovelas there is always an unexpected plot twist. Stay tuned.

DOS TORTAS

It Pays To Have A Daughter

9 Oct

I read recently that having a daughter adds years to your life. Having one who is a social worker by trade is undoubtedly another bonus.

2015

While visiting California this summer, my eldest initiated the uncomfortable conversation, “Mom, what do you want at the end of your life?”. I, who am rarely at a loss for words didn’t have an answer. I guess somehow I imagined living into old age with my faculties in tact and one day just not waking up? Ha, a fantasy at best, although I imagine it could happen. Truth be told, I hadn’t imagined anything.

Reading stories.

My daughter used to work in an emergency room where families brought in their elders after a fall, stroke or other catastrophic event. When asked how they and their loved one would like to proceed, she was met with blank stares. We are all woefully unprepared. There are so many things our society ignores. We will all be there someday. Best get on it. We need to have a plan, at least a conversation.

This book should be required reading by all humans.

I have on occasion suggested books on Dos Tortas. One that addresses this sticky topic and should be required reading for everyone is, BEING MORTAL by Atul Gawande. Whether you need a framework to talk to a parent, family member or significant other, this is it. Do it now.

DOS TORTAS

My Life Goes Better With Yoga

2 Oct

I was first introduced to yoga about 1972. I was studying at The University of The America’s in Cholula, Mexico where there was a young teacher who did asanas (yoga postures) out on the commons. He piqued my curiosity and I joined his weekly class.

1973 That’s me on the right celebrating my 21st birthday in Mexico.

Over the years, yoga has come in and out of my life. Before we left Austin for the wilds of Southern Mexico, I paid $99 a month and walked daily to the Yoga Yoga Studio for unlimited classes.

Downward Facing Dog variation with bone. Stela supervises.

Having scoliosis, the bones in my spine have realigned themselves and moved internal organs to places they wouldn’t ordinarily be. I am blessed to have been able to carry and birth three babies and live most of my life pain free. I believe that yoga has helped.

Stela waits for class to start.

I have lately returned to morning yoga practice. My body feels better for it. I’ve long given up having to prove anything. While structured class with a teacher would challenge and improve my flexibility, the times we live in don’t lend themselves to group practice. Online classes require watching a small screen and interferes with my peace. Since I am not a newbie I have a routine that works for me.

Stela masters child’s pose.

Yoga keeps my body flexible, relaxed and focused. It is something that makes a difference in my day to day life. I can see and feel the benefits which is motivation enough.

OMmmmmm. *dog yoga pictures taken by our lovely house sitter Lei Chen

Yoga is not for everyone but if you are so inclined I recommend it as a gift to your body and soul that will last a lifetime.

DOS TORTAS

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things

26 Sep

This week we are settled back in Texas waiting for a medical appointment. While sitting out on our friends’ deck this morning with a cup of coffee in hand, I was enjoying the coolness before the Texas heat kicked in later in the day. A hummingbird flew across my line of sight and popped me out of an early morning haze. Staying in the present moment is sometimes illusive, at least it was this particular day. Until the hummingbird that is. Who doesn’t love those tiny blurrs of beauty.

My lovely wife hands me a cup of coffee every morning.

I began to observe and appreciate the sky, trees and general beauty of the Texas hills. I have so much gratitude for our friends who opened their lovely home to us.

Other things that contribute to my joy began to flow through my foggy brain.

Water in all its forms, rain, swimming, showers, and the ocean. Dogs, squirrel antics, birds, and roses with beguiling fragrance. The sky in Bacalar and Texas, sunrises, and sunsets. Then there are vistas, mountaintop, ocean, and even lovely backyards.

Looking for the sunny side of life.
Laguna Bacalar, Mexico

Some days are harder than others but I am always reminded by the evening news, it could be so much worse. I hope you enjoy your day and count your blessings along the way. I try to choose peace. We are still optimistic of seeing the surgeon before leaving Thursday for Mexico. My fingers are crossed so much I think they’re stuck.

DOS TORTAS

Wake Me Up When We Get There

1 Aug

During my time working for the State of Texas, I flew frequently for my job. I arrived at the airport with just enough time to slip on board the plane to Houston, Corpus or El Paso. If meetings ended early, it was easy to jump on an earlier flight. And there was no additional charge!

Mexico City Airport

When 9-11 happened, the addition of a security line increased the amount of time necessary to arrive at the airport. An hour flight from Austin to Houston took so much additional time in a security line, that it was often easier to drive. Fees began to pile on for rescheduling flights. Flying became less fun.

We travel light. Unfortunately Stela had to stay home.

Our recent trip to the United States from Mexico, after a year and a half in quarantine has us thinking twice about the future of travel. Add to the experience is the fact that none of us is getting any younger. There are additional fees for everything, checked luggage, seat selection and even water on the plane. Each airline has different requirements for proof of health, an application to to be downloaded and filled out or paper to be signed. So much screening! To leave Mexico City we had to get up at two a.m. to be at our flight three hours ahead of time. We knew it would be different but nothing prepared us for the actual experience.

Lisa takes a snooze.
Fun times with the grands. Makes it all worth it.

At the same time, we are excited to see family and friends. We can no longer isolate in our jungle paradise, although I will be supremely happy to get back when our tasks are completed and we make our way home.

DOS TORTAS

Out And About

20 Jun

While our state of Quintana Roo in southern Mexico is at code orange for Covid risk, with red being the worst, we are all vaccinated and willing to venture out to try a new restaurant.

Mojito

New hotels and restaurants are popping up daily on every corner. We don’t eat out much, but I felt like the adventures of Dos Tortas needed a kick in the tuchus. So when a friend recommended Barbanegra Bacalar (Black Beard), a downtown eatery with vegan options, I said, why not. We can certainly use an excuse to take a shower and put on clean clothes.

My mother-in-law Alice is always happy to get out of the house.

I am bad about remembering to take pictures of our food. In this case, the service was so slow, we were lucky to be the only people eating. I had a cauliflower ceviche which was creative and I will make at home. Lisa and Alice were pleased with their selections. Mission accomplished.

Cauliflower Ceviche

Eating out supports the economy and gets us out of the house. Sometimes it’s the diversion that we all need.

DOS TORTAS

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

Dance Of The Forty-One

16 May

I remember when the movie Silence Of The Lambs came out in 1991. It starred Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins, who both won Academy Awards and overall best picture. I was probably the only person who found the movie horrifying, I could not watch, averted my eyes and walked out of the theater. I argued with friends who declared it a “great movie”. How could a movie about kidnapping, torture and wearing the skin of a woman be great? Subject matter vs cinematography.

This week I watched a Netflix movie that popped up on my feed, Dance of the Forty-One. In its own way, it was equally hard to watch, but not for the same reason. Dance of the Forty-One is a based-on-reality, Mexican movie by award winning director David Pablos about the repression of gay men in 1901 under the dictatorship of Porfirio Diaz. To my surprise, it was dubbed well in English not subtitled.

https://www.netflix.com/title/80235267?s=i&trkid=255824129

The movie is beautiful and moving. The love scenes are steamy and visceral. It is filmed in Mexico City and Guadalajara and transports the viewer to what Mexico was like in all its elegance and grandeur at the turn of the century. However if you know even a smattering of Mexican history and the cruelty of Porfirio Diez, you know it’s not going to end well.

Lisa and I have lived in Mexico almost eight years. One of our concerns before moving was of course, how we would be treated as a lesbian couple, aka Dos Tortas. While there has been the occasional “are you sisters?” for the most part, we are treated respectfully. One time a waiter was flirting hard with Lisa who of course was clueless. He leaned over and whispered in my ear asking me about her. I declared that she was my esposa. He turned red, sputtered, delivered the check, and disappeared. The more common term in Spanish is partner or pareja, but I was feeling particularly evil that day.

2019 in the Texas bluebonnets.

I don’t kid myself that life for Mexican lesbians is the same as for foreigners. We have friends who are a mixed couple, US’er and Mexican. They have been together many years, attending family functions and living in Bacalar down the street from Sola’s conservative family. Their relationship has never been acknowledged. It is a non-topic, period, end of story. In this case, silence is not golden.

Mexico continues to grow in acceptance and discrimination has been outlawed. Same-sex marriage is legal in all thirty-one states. Gracias to David Pablos for shining a light on a dark time in history. As hard as it is to watch, let’s not avert our eyes this time.

DOS TORTAS

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

Emilie Vardaman

travel and random thoughts

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