Tag Archives: living in mexico

Watch Your Feet But Occasionally Remember To Look Up

16 Jul

Anyone who spends time in Mexico knows that you HAVE to watch your footing. Uneven urban sidewalks can mean a skinned knee or a broken bone if one gets distracted for a minute. I’ve seen openings in the sidewalk that could swallow a child, never to be seen again. In the jungle a tree root, stump or half-buried rock can take you down.

There are also the delights of looking down. There is a nance tree along my morning walk with the dogs. Tiny yellow fruit litter the ground and are quite tasty. They’re like a soft apple, not particularly sweet with a large seed. Not much to it really but worth trying if you see them in the market.

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I’ve been reading about the importance of biodiversity in our gut. These little fruits are seasonal and local. Children sell bags of them along the highway.

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The occasional snake or tarantula can also be observed if one keeps their eyes peeled during a morning walk.

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Neighbor kids found this beauty caught in our fence last year.

Of course life can not be lived only watching your feet. It’s important to look up at the beautiful sky or miss the rainbow, tucan or storm clouds. Here in Bacalar, we are never at a loss for a beautiful sky. Even during a restless night last night, the half moon glistened across the Laguna at 2 am.

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So find your balance, whatever it looks like, even if it changes every day.

DOS TORTAS

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There’s Nothing We Can Do? I Don’t Think So

22 Jan

The book Sisterhood Is Powerful was my first exposure to feminism. I don’t remember much about the book other than it changed my entire perspective on life. My initial response was anger and then a sigh of relief as the world began to make sense. I wasn’t crazy.

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On inauguration day I thought I could skate through pretending it wasn’t happening. Living in Mexico, it is way easier to ignore a lot of the craziness going on in the US. I didn’t take into consideration that the whole world is watching, literally. At my doctor’s appointment on Friday, the waiting room television was tuned to live coverage of the events in Washington. It was like viewing a car accident, horrifying, yet I was unable to look away. The rest of the day was downhill from there.

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During the week I had stumbled across a website listing women’s marches scheduled around the world. I was shocked and thrilled to find a walk planned for Saturday morning in Chetumal, a thirty minute drive from our house.

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It always starts with a small group of likeminded souls.

I scrambled to get the word out. I badly wanted to feel a part of the the US activities. IMO January 21 turned into a giant “yagya”, a sacred and auspicious ceremony being performed by massive numbers of people all over the planet. It was surely a tipping point. Bacalar had a showing of six women out of twelve! Woohoo.

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Our youngest participant.

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Getting to know each other over a post walk breakfast.

I don’t see Bacalar as a seat of resistance but I will do what I can to support and assist in any way possible. The most important thing that I saw the march accomplish was to dispel fear. When we are not afraid, we can do anything. Sisterhood really is powerful.

DOS TORTAS

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Can You “Plan” Adventure? But Of Course

15 Jan

We have been in our little house along the coast of beautiful Laguna Bacalar in the tropics of Southern Mexico for a little more than a year. The walls have been settling around us. Our gardens are bursting with color from a long rainy season. Life is good.

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Waking every morning to an amazing sunrise.

We left our life in Austin, Texas and made this extraordinary move in 2013 with certain pre-conceived ideas that were completely subconscious. Traveling and living in a foreign country is a great way to hold up a mirror to one’s assumptions. Here are some things that surprised us about our new life.

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Orchid like flowers blooming in the jungle. 

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A stone cross found in Valladolid, Yucatán. 

It’s not as easy to take off for the weekend and travel as we had imagined.

This may be a no-brainer for you but dogs are a lot of work. When we adopted Luna, our first dog ever, she was a throw away street puppy. We didn’t really think through all the ways she would impact our lives. Everyone told us, you HAVE to have a dog. Of course we adore her, but like every other relationship, there are inconveniences.

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A sad little puppy who needed a home.

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Lisa and Luna enjoying tour of the lake.

Leaving our house unattended for more than a day or two is not a good idea. There is crime of opportunity, much like in the US or anywhere else in the world. An empty house is a big opportunity. Since we have chosen not to live with bars on the windows, having a house sitter is the way to go. Finding the right someone takes time. Travel is less spontaneous than we had hoped. Another inconvenience.

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The front of the house.

We have also turned into the proverbial home bodies. The view from the porch is to die for. We can swim and kayak in our back “yard”. The food (my cooking) is the best and our bed is supremely comfy.

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So the “Adventures” of Dos Tortas has been looking more like the laid-back, staid life of Dos Tortas. We are not complaining.

As of today, I am happy to report there are adventures in the planning. Can you “plan” adventures? Stay tuned. We’ll try to step it up a bit.

DOS TORTAS

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The Taco Truck In The Room

13 Nov

Watergate, the scandal that brought down the 37th US president, Richard M. Nixon was at its peak during my junior year abroad in Mexico. All the news I received was filtered through an expatriate viewpoint. I saw almost no US television.

I arrived in Mexico City in September 1973 with the plan to return home by Christmas. You know what they say about the best laid plans.

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Teotihuacan near Mexico City 1973

I fell head over heals living with a Mexican family, traveling by bus and train to pyramids, markets and museums. I decided to stay, study intensive Spanish and continue my travels. I was in heaven.

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Making tamales for my 22nd birthday with my Mexican family and housemate Brian.

It must have been difficult for my parents to understand my youthful enthusiasm. One day I was relating a phone conversation I’d had with my father to one of my teachers. Dad had asked me why I was hiding out in Mexico. My teacher’s response was, “tell him it’s one of the better places to hide out.”

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My parents Bernice and Ken Hoeft. My mother starved herself to fit into this dress.

I cannot blog this week without addressing the taco truck in the room, the US presidential election.The outcome has resulted in a difficult week with many people looking for a place to hide out. I wish I had something pithy or inspirational to say. I believe that difficult times can result in immense personal growth. One way that I contribute to this mess is to refuse to listen to people with different views from my own. I am dismissive and tend to gravitate to like minded souls. It’s time to stand in the flames and really listen to each other. There’s a lot of pain in our country and we will not learn to love each other and heal if we avert our eyes.

DOS TORTAS

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Sacred Icon- The Virgin of Guadalupe

25 Sep

The Virgin of Guadalupe (Mary, Mother of Jesus) is the most revered and familiar image in Mexico. She may be single-handedly responsible for the conversion of Mexico to Catholicism. Devotion to Guadalupe is widespread and overshadows all other saints and even Jesus. So how did she come to grace the walls of our home? (House Full Of Goddesses)

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Brought with us from Texas, this statue replaced a gift from my mother that was stolen out of our yard on Mother’s Day, no lie. The grotto is at the head of the stairs to our front entrance.

As my interest in the sacred feminine unfolded in the nineties, it was not a stretch to see Mary as the modern-day Goddess. My Catholic roots played a significant influence and somehow (to my mother’s delight) this wayward church going girl began acquiring images of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

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My sister-in-law, hearing of the theft of our statue, sent this Guadalupe. She has her own niche in our living room. Hindu goddess touch mine.

Things snowballed from there and Guadalupe moved in.

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I found this print at a thrift store in Texas. She graces our bedroom.

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Painted by my friend Cat Thompson and badly needing a frame.

There are numerous smaller images throughout the house, each with its own story. The most spectacular is the carved, wooden relief that we found in a bazaar in Villadolid during our travels prior to the completion of the house. (Show And Tell Art Purchases)

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All the seller could tell us was that the piece had hung in his home many years and was carved by a man from northern Yucatan.

She was purchased without thought as to where she would hang or if the colors would match, etc. It was purely a gut, “gotta have it” response. The carving was wrapped in newspaper and cardboard and stored until the house was complete.

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She clearly needed a place of prominence.

When we brought the relief out of storage and placed her on the wall, it was an emotional moment. It appeared as if the room were designed for her by her. I believe Spirit moves in many ways. Our home is holy ground on the shore of a sacred lake. We are so blessed. DOS TORTAS

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Don’t Battle The Ants

4 Sep

If you have never read 100 Years of Solitude (Cien Años de Soledad) by Colombian Nobel Prize winning author Gabriel García Márquez (1967), you have missed a magical story that takes place in the remote village of Macondo, in the jungle of the Columbian rainforest. It is one of the best books ever written. Seriously.

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I first read 100 Years of Solitude as an international student in Mexico in the seventies. It had just been translated into English. It is a tale of seven generations of the Buendía family who among other things, have the habit of naming their children variations of the same names. It’s enough to make your head spin trying to keep track of the various players.

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Hibiscus also known here as tulipani.

Eventually I gave up trying to follow who’s who and found that it made little difference. I would never give away the ending other than to say it involves ants.

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The video would not upload.

In the jungle a battle with the ants is a battle you will loose. There’s more of them than us and they never quit. No matter how clean your house, they will scurry across the kitchen counter looking for a nibble or a bug to carry off.

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Volunteer papaya tree growing out of the compost pile.

This week I was sitting on the couch and twice found an ant on my leg. I looked up to see a highway of ants coming from under the dog crate. What the…!!

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Bird of paradise blooming this morning.

They show up quickly having decided that something I thought was mine is really theirs. It’s a wonder they haven’t made off with the dog! Time to get out the trusty vacuum cleaner. The best I can hope for is to discourage them. So far, it’s not working.

DOS TORTAS

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Bark Sniff Poo Repeat

28 Aug

The exercise, entertainment and care of Princesa Luna requires daily forays into the mosquitoey jungle. We clothe our bodies head to foot and douse in repellant, especially at dawn and dusk. I don’t think she appreciates us.

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The lane in front of our property.

This week I brought my camera along. Taking a picture with a dog dragging me along does not lend itself to the best shots.

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There are always flowers blooming. Watch the sharp points on the leaves. Ouch.

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Luna knows the way.

The path is surprisingly refreshing as the hot sun does not penetrate the jungle canopy.

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Why did the tarantula cross the road?

Luna is so curious about everything. This tarantula would not hang around to play.

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Lovely green wall.

There is an open property up the way where Luna and I run and play. I lust after cuttings of this cactus. I must return with my machete, gloves and NO dog.

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The jungle is also home to these amazing blue butterflies. They are the size of your palm and impossible to photograph.

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She doesn’t look one bit guilty. Maybe a little.

If it weren’t for Luna insisting that we go for a walk, several times a day, we would miss so many amazing things. We have seen fox, coatis, parrots and more. I guess life  in the jungle is a dog’s paradise. Ours’ too. DOS TORTAS

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Preparing For Our First Hurricane

7 Aug

As The Tortas approach three years of retirement on Laguna Bacalar in Southern Mexico, our first hurricane was predicted to arrive Wednesday evening with up to 75 mph winds and twelve inches of rain. We live about thirty miles as the crow flies from the Caribbean, separated by water and mangroves and not much else. As with all hurricanes, much depends on their direction and intensity. We watched the sky and prepared for the worst.

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A Beautiful Day For A Hurricane

We hired workers to help us prepare. They cut dead branches, put away outdoor plants and furniture, tied up the kayaks and set sand bags in place. Our concern was for water barreling down the hill toward the house, if we got the foot of rain that was predicted.

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Machetes Were Flying Trimming Trees

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Plants Off The Roof and Kayaks Secure

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Reinforcing the Dock

As predicted the rain started late Wednesday afternoon. And then it stopped. We waited. Everything we could do was done, so it was time for the TORTAS first ever hurricane party!

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Dinner, Dominos and Drinks with Neighbors

During the night Earl turned south and took the brunt of its damage to Belize. Lisa slept through the wind which was hardly more than any tropical storm that blows through Bacalar. We had several heavy showers over the next few days, and that was all. Almost disappointing.

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The Islands Of Belize Were Not So Lucky

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Thursday morning with intense skies and waves.

While we are grateful for the lack of damage we received, we are much more aware of the amount of work it takes to be prepared. In the future, a generator, hurricane shutters and improved drainage could cut the time in half. Lesson learned.

DOS TORTAS

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A Day In The Life

24 Jul

Living on Laguna Bacalar, three kilometers (2 miles) from the pueblo of Bacalar makes for a vida muy tranquilo

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We didn’t know about the magnificent sunrises when we moved here.

Up with the sun about six thirty. Lisa starts the day making coffee while Luna and I walk down to the dock to photograph the sunrise. It’s been our ritual since she was a puppy. She waits at the back door impatiently every morning.

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We watch the fish, listen to the birds and watch the day come alive.

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Our rickety dock.

Meditation and exercise play a daily part of the routine. On this day it was an exercise video with Alice, Lisa’s mother. Luna likes to join in.

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On alternative days we’re off to the gym. This week we had a visit with blog follower Heather and son Jonathan. What a treat when people travel to Bacalar after reading the blog.

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A trip to the pirate fort and picture in front of the mural is a must when visiting Bacalar.

We visited shops featuring local art and sampled snow cones shaved from a block of ice right before our eyes. We had our choice of homemade tropical fruit toppings, pineapple, lime, tamarind, nance and more.

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Light and refreshing, not like the syrupy sweet snow cones we’re used to.

What day would be complete without a parade!

I’m not sure what the parade was for, but we never need a special reason to celebrate life in Bacalar. DOS TORTAS

Be sure to follow us on Pinterest and Instagram at dos_tortas.

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Real World Peace

17 Jul

It’s been a heartbreaking week, month, year. Sometimes I feel guilty that I concern myself so little with world violence; as if watching the news, talking about it and worrying could make a difference. I live in a safe place on Laguna Bacalar in Mexico and feel very blessed and privileged to do so.

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Sunrise This Week

I do my best to be genuinely happy one day at a time. No complaints and gratitude, gratitude, graditude. I figure it’s my best contribution to world peace.

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Garden Delights

Some days all I can do is make dinner, clean the kitchen and love the person in front of me.

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Always Curious Luna

I fool myself into thinking that I actually connect with people through social media and blogging. This week I commit to making three phone calls to have real conversations. How about you? What will you do to connect? DOS TORTAS

www.reallove.com

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By Matt Haig

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