Tag Archives: Laguna Bacalar

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

In Search Of Poo

16 Apr

Before moving to Mexico from Austin, Texas in 2013, I had tried my hand at gardening for years with minimal success. Raised, postage stamp, and self watering beds were always fed from the compost in the corner of our yard and the rainwater collected off the roof. We even built a PVC Quonset hut, covered with shade cloth in the summer and plastic in the winter and hung with lightbulbs to survive the occasional freezes of Austin’s unpredictable weather.

One year I had a surprising success with a small bed of strawberries. Our grandson, Hunter would walk in the front door and out the back in search of all the tiny, sweet, red morsels his pudgy little fingers could find. Another year I had a bumper crop of cucumbers and then could never grow them again. Mostly I was feeding the insects. Gardening is both an art and a science, and while I’ve learned a lot, my green thumb seems to be intermittent at best and completely nonexistent the rest of the time.

Hunter and Lisa

I had big plans for coming to the Costa Maya. Surely the tropics would support my lifelong dream of a smaller footprint if not outright sustainability. We would grow our own veggies! We hauled gardening tools and various sundries in our six foot trailer, none of which contributed to our food-growing success.

We do have a lime tree which I planted before the house was built and is producing enough fruit for our use. I have a very sad, sickly avocado and a mango tree that may be large enough to produce fruit before I die.

One sad avocado.

We’ve built a row of beds, hauled in organic soil and again with the shade cloth. Every beginner gardener’s veg, the lowly radish was a dismal failure. Tomatoes, squash, lettuce, and cilantro all withered. This week, with dogged determination, I set off to find manure aka estiércol aka poop (cow, chicken, or goat).

Rancho Bacalar

There are many ranchos out in the less populated areas surrounding Bacalar, how hard could it be to find manure?Our search took us to a corral and house set back off the road looking like something right out of a Texas playbook complete with cowboys, horses and of course, cattle.

Bramin cattle. So beautiful and curious.
The foreman, welcoming and helpful.
Her foal was tearing around not liking that mama is a working girl.

We were directed toward a pile of seasoned dung, filled three trash cans and were off. The foreman told us to come back anytime and blow the horn and someone would open the gate. Mission accomplished. I still won’t hold my breath on the avocado.

DOS TORTAS

MAYBE

Perhaps Swimming

21 Mar

It’s not surprising that reports of mental health issues are on the rise in this time of Covid. When my youngest brother died of brain cancer in 2000, I sat on the couch every night for a year, it was as close to depression as I’ve gotten.

Michael on the left. His hair was growing back after his first brain surgery,

One of the things that pulled me out of the dark was swimming. Last night I found an old diary where I wrote about loving to exercise, specifically swim.

Training for the Bacalar open water competition several years ago.

I moved to Bacalar to be able to swim. I have the answer to the blahs in my back yard, cold water and exercise. I just have to do it. My goal this week is to get up earlier and swim before the wind picks up causing the waves that make it more difficult. The motivation of even ten years ago is more difficult to find these days.

My triathlon days.

Fingers crossed it works. Seems I cross my fingers a lot these days.

DOS TORTAS

Ain’t it the truth.

Like Broccoli Only White

28 Feb

This week was my birthday. We went out to dinner Friday night to one of the new little restaurants popping up in Bacalar. Per a recommendation by our local residential list serve, we heard they had vegan options and good prices,. We dandied up a bit and headed the three miles into town.

A Xolo is a hairless Mexican dog which dates back to the Aztecs.

I am a person who would almost always choose to eat at home, but Lisa needed a break, and Alice insisted on paying, so off we went.

Happy birthday to me.

When I asked the waiter, in Spanish, what was in the vegan tacos, he replied, “cauliflower, it’s like broccoli only white “. I thought I would fall off my chair laughing. He clearly doesn’t have a lot of experience with vegetables! The tacos were delicious with their hecho a mano, handmade blue corn tortillas. I would definitely go back. The music wasn’t too loud. The food was tasty and I’m still laughing.

DOS TORTAS

Garlic Soup (Sopa de Ajo)

31 Jan

Making garlic soup is about as close to comfort food as it gets for me. I have always used it for medicinal purposes as well as a very yummy meal. Just add crusty bread and you have heaven.

Oaxacan sculptor Josefina Aguilera.

I love soup’s versatility and lack of fussiness. There really isn’t a recipe. Sometimes it’s an “empty out the refrigerator” soup before going Sunday shopping. Of course that means you have to have a supply of vegetables needing to be eaten. Carrots are a staple.

Crimini mushrooms in Bacalar, a rare find.

For medicinal purposes, I use an entire bulb of garlic. Anywhere between a clove and a fist-full will work. The soup can be made on the stove, in a slow cooker or, my favorite, the Instant pot. However you choose, the intense aroma will fill your house and possibly the entire neighborhood.

I tend toward Italian herbs, but follow your preference.

The soup base can be made from liquid from having steamed vegetables, canned tomatoes, a purchased vegetable cube, or meat if you prefer. Chicken soup is a time honored cure for what ails you. I prefer a vegetable soup.

I love white beans.

If you don’t mind the heat, add an inch of pealed chopped ginger and/or a piece of fresh pepper. I leave the pepper whole so it can be scooped out and not surprise anyone with a mouthful of fire. Living in Mexico, the shop owners laugh when we buy one Serrano pepper. Compared to the locals, we are wusses when it comes to our heat tolerance.

I don’t guarantee that garlic soup can cure Covid, but it sure couldn’t hurt. There has been quite a bit of research to prove its benefit in fighting colds, lowering blood pressure, improving high cholesterol and a myriad of other health challenges. Have fun and do report back your experience.

DOS TORTAS

Art by me. A Mexican cocina.

A Time For Reflection

23 Sep

It’s Sunday (my usual day of blogging) and nothing has been posted, written or is even dancing around in my head. I am in Bacalar, Mexico to handle an immigration deadline and I will be going back to California in a week to finish the commitment to our daughter and her family. 

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Our beautiful granddaughters.

I think I really want to spend some time this week listening. Our home in Bacalar is such a place of peace and quiet. California with our twin granddaughters and two year old grandson has been a challenge to my sense of calm. I believe that peace is not a matter of circumstances but a choice. My listening is about what I need to consistently make that choice.

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A lovely little shower moving across the Laguna. Can you hear the thunder?

I know this is out of the norm for my blog. It’s where I’ve been lately and trying to decide whether or not to share it. So here goes. What do you do when you need guidance that talking and thinking does not provide?

DOS TORTAS 

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Emilie Vardaman

travel and random thoughts

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