Tag Archives: living in mexico

Just Take The Next Step

5 Sep

We have been NOB (north of the Mexico/US border) for almost six weeks. It has been a full on vaca which includes dodging Covid, eating favorite foods and hanging with the grands.

Up very early for a flight out of Austin.

There’s nothing terribly profound to share. We’ve been enjoying the amazing produce that abounds in Northern California. Figs are in season and are able to be picked off a neighbor’s tree. Heavenly.

One of my favorite fruits.

Temps are a bit lower than Lisa likes, but I am quite content. I just didn’t bring enough warm clothes. Living in the tropics, our wardrobe is limited in that department.

The local farmers market is always a treat.
My art journaling continues. Produce inspires.
Stela has put yoga on hold. Rainy cool weather in Bacalar has her ready to snuggle.

It is such a strange time we’re living in. Lisa’s mom got very sick with the flu. Thank God she didn’t have Covid but there was certainly a lot of anxiety until test results came back. Hang in there. Somehow we’ll make it through.

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

Buena Vista Mexico

11 Jul

This week we ventured out of Covid quarantine to attend a small village art fair. The thirty minute drive landed us in Buena Vista (Good View) situated north on Laguna Bacalar. The town has mostly dirt roads and the first language is Mayan. Masks in place we wandered, sampled and shopped. Purchases included tamales, virgin piña coladas and a hammock for our dock! There is nothing like Mayan women selling their wares out of a beat up pots covered with a dish towel. There were kids playing, upbeat conjunto music and the opportunity to support local artists. The day couldn’t have gone better.

The largest sunflower I’ve ever seen.
The hammock is huge. Do come join me.
Hand made rugs and tortilla warmers.

DOS TORTAS

Life’s Little Delights

6 Jun

On Thursday this week, I was driving along the main highway toward Belize, on my way to have brunch with a friend. She lives alone and is quite isolated. With both of us vaccinated, we had made plans to meet up for some huevos divorciados. I left home later than I intended for our appointment at ten. While mindlessly zipping along, I noticed that the sky was studded with lovely big pillowy clouds against a blue blue sky.

Up ahead, I saw a motorcycle on the shoulder. It’s headlight was on and facing towards me. I thought it odd and swung the car wide to give him plenty of room.

What I saw next caused me to laugh out loud. The motorcycle was a bit wobbly, as the man tried to set off with an ungainly load. There was a child on the front, the driver and two young women behind him. One of the women was carrying a goat!

Not quite the same but you get the idea. Stock photo.

I have no picture on my phone but a delightful memory. It reminded me of Lisa and my 2005 trip to Thailand. It was our first introduction to scooter culture. It is a fine art, but absolutely anything can be carried on a scooter.

The colors of my art.

So that was my excitement for the week. It’s not much, but I’ll take it.

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

Not A Food Blog

8 Apr

There was nothing in my childhood that compared with walking into the house after school and smelling my mother’s spaghetti sauce bubbling on the stove. She learned the art as a young bride in Newark, New Jersey in 1942, living in an apartment complex peopled with Italian immigrants. The women took pity on her, taking her under their collective wings to teach her how to cook.

My parents as newlyweds.

She used large cans of peeled whole tomatoes and small cans of paste to thicken the crimson mixture. Garlic, oregano, basil, bay leaves and an array of Italian spices gave the sauce its deep, rich fragrance. It’s funny how a particular aroma can transport you through time and space. Spaghetti sauce is my mother’s kitchen.

Staples you will find in my kitchen at all times.

I remember returning home as an adult to find a jar of prepared sauce on the kitchen counter. I expressed my shock at her sacrilege, but she only laughed. No longer cooking for a large family, with just my dad and her, she took the easy way. I can’t blame her but it was certainly not as good.

Can’t you just smell it?

I continue to make her sauce recipe. I don’t cook it for hours like she did, and I’m sure it doesn’t taste the same. With my own family, I got in the habit of adding a lot of vegetables, mushrooms, cauliflower, grated carrots or zucchini. It was a way to make it a bit healthier (IMHO) and get vegetables into my kids. But I do still use whole tomatoes and paste and lots of garlic.

Three generations circa 1994.

My daughter always asks me to make spaghetti when I come to visit. In this day when children no longer wish to inherit possessions, my mother’s spaghetti sauce can live on. I think that would make her very happy. It certainly does me.

DOS TORTAS

Life Is A Bloody Inconvenience

4 Apr

Of course we are all living through the biggest inconvenience of the century. For that reason alone, surely we should be able to control SOMETHING! A seemingly quiet day of bread making, art project, and exercise can go in a completely different direction fast.

I have been wanting cinnamon rolls. So I made them!

I can always lock myself in my studio, or escape to my hammock with headphones. Interruptions can be many, boohoo.

Don’t let the sweet face fool you.

I find that living with people, dogs, neighbors, the weather, you name it, can all have unforeseen consequences. Some days I’m ok with it, others, it’s a challenge.

Studio time.

On the scale of introverts to extrovert, I fall somewhere off center to the introvert side. I like being alone. In life before Covid, I scheduled a yearly retreat with paints, knitting, journal and a good book. Long walks, sans dogs are such a luxury.

How can I be so cranky living in paradise.? It’s an art I guess.

Today I make the decision to put my plans aside and do what needs doing, a quick trip to the doctor and pharmacy for my mother-in-law. Bladder infections come on so quickly at a certain age. I’ve managed to swim and the bread is rising. Complaining of any sort is such privileged behavior. If you celebrate Easter I hope it’s a good one. Weather here is lovely. Hammock here I come.

DOS TORTAS

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.

A Very Different Sort Of Weekend

21 Feb

Last week, I was hugging the toilet and not after a night of debauchery in Cancun. Truthfully I’ve never been a debauchery kind of gal, but back in my youthful days, when guys in Mexico would keep the drinks coming, I learned about alcohol the hard way.

Celebrating my 21 birthday in Mexico. Heading out for a night on the town with my best girl.

Now, after living a sedate retired life in Mexico for seven years, I’ve never been this sick. And I’m still not sure what caused the intestinal upset, fever, etc. A course of antibiotics seems to be doing the trick and upping our hygienic game is in the cards. We buy all our produce in a small town mercado. It was probably only a matter of time, although outbreaks of things I can’t pronounce occur in the US food chain all the time.

A lovely small town market in Bacalar.

Wednesday I left for the much postponed trip to the US Consulate in Playa del Carmen, to renew my expired passport. The bus ride was quiet and socially distant. The required masks contributed to the tranquility and I curled up and slept most of the four hour trip.

First trip out in a pandemic.

The little boutique hotel that I had booked turned out to be a real gem. The room was $45US and included a full-on off the menu breakfast. My stomach was finally starting to accept food and I enjoyed it immensely.

House of the Flowers
Seafood soup for dinner. Very typical Mexican food.

Playa del Carmen was hopping and the little I got to see hobbling around on my still painful ankle was mostly mask-less. Turning my paperwork in at the consulate was the easiest and least painful part of the trip. I’m now sitting in the bus station waiting for the return trip to Bacalar. If I had postponed yet again, I probably would have been able to enjoy myself more. And against the voices in my head, the consulate wouldn’t have cared a bit. Oh well, live and learn.

DOS TORTAS

A Smile And A Shrug

7 Feb

Last summer, to occupy the time of quarantine, I mailed art-cards to friends and family. I painted post card sized pictures and mailed them in Bacalar. It’s a fun way to connect and let my grandchildren and others know that I’m thinking about them.

Nights in the 50s have been a delight.

This past week I began to hear from card receivers, my brother, niece, a cousin. Frankly I had mailed the cards and forgotten about them.

I knew that mail from Mexico took its own sweet time, but eight months!

Every few weeks, I routinely stop by our tiny post office and check our mailbox #16. This week, I casually mentioned to the post master, who is quite familiar with my mailing habits, that the cards I mailed in May had just arrived in the US. He gave me a Mona Lisa smile and shrugged. I laughed and went on my way. The trouble is, you can’t have it both ways. That shrug can be both maddening and charming, depending on the job you need to complete, or the deadline you must make.

This week I registered myself and my mother-in-law for a Covid vaccine. The over 60 crowd is up right after medical first responders. Hopefully the appointments will arrive sooner than my postcards. Fingers crossed.

DOS TORTAS

Emilie Vardaman

travel and random thoughts

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