Tag Archives: mexico

A Plague Of Biblical Proportion

3 May

We all are familiar (or should be), with Charlton Heston in the 1956, academy award winning movie, The Ten Commandments. Playing the part of Moses, Heston hails down locusts and turns water into blood as he blackmails the Romans into releasing the Hebrews from slavery. The plagues do the trick and the Hebrews are released from generations of bondage to wander in the desert.

 

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These days the southern Mexico village of Bacalar seems to be living through its own plague of biblical proportion. Situated on the Lake of Seven Colors, Bacalar has returned to the quiet little village we moved to seven years ago. The streets and park are empty. There has been one reported case of plague number one, Covid-19. The  campaign #quédateencasa or Stay Home along with the lack of tourists seems to be doing the trick. People are hurting but they are not dying in large numbers.

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Plague number two is drought. We can’t even remember the last time it rained in southern Mexico. The jungle is brown and crunchy. Crops are nonexistent and the once lush, green jungle is quickly disappearing.

Plague number three, mosquitoes seems unlikely given plague number two. Drought doesn’t usually increase the mosquito population. Each year we anxiously wait for the rain but know that rain brings mosquitoes, dengue, zica, chikungunya and maleria. None of these diseases is fatal, but the plague of mosquitoes is annoying as hell.

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I believe that plague number four is causing the mosquito infestation, the fires, Dealing With The Burn. Mosquitoes are driven from lowlands by burning jungle and relocated to Bacalar. We are dealing with itchy eyes, scratchy throat and painful lungs. People are screaming on Facebook but the authorities seem to have bigger fish to fry. Generations of clearing land with fire are not abandoned readily, regardless of the environmental impact.

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It’s hard not to take it personally, although locals suffer far more than immigrants. We are hanging in there, not kidding ourselves that “this will be over soon”. Hopefully God is not mad at us, although sometimes it feels that way. 

DOS TORTAS

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Te Quedas En Casa (Stay Home)

12 Apr

The Adventures of Dos Tortas has been retired for a year and a half. Up until today, I had not seriously considered continuing our saga. I began the blog in 2012 with the intention of keeping family and friends apprised of our decision to retire and live in Mexico. I was tired of the endless questions all beginning with, “is it safe?”

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The blog evolved from chronicling the move from Austin, Texas, to the building of our house on beautiful Lake Bacalar. 

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The View From Our Yard

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Our House Completed 2015

We continued with our world travels and day-to-day small town Mexico life. Everything felt new and exciting. Eventually we settled into a routine and the search for interesting stories grew tiresome. When I got few Comments or indicators of interest, I decided after six years to retire the blog. There were at least a gazillion blogs at that time offering how to retire and live in Mexico and I felt like mine offered nothing new. Little did I know that I would continue to meet people who had been devoted followers and related how they missed my weekly musings. Who knew?

So for some unknown reason, I feel compelled to share our new boring life in the time of a pandemic, social isolation and lockdown. I read somewhere that it is our responsibility to keep a record of this crazy experience caused by Covid19.

Lord how the world has changed.

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In 2019 we lost our beloved Frida to a car accident.

and added Stella, a blind pug to the mix.

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Stela is a Gift from the Goddess

I still share photos on Instagram at dos_tortas if you wish to catch up.

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If you are new and stumbled onto Dos Tortas, know that there are no politics here. I am completely committed to living a happy life no matter what. So come along from wherever you are holed up and join us to wherever the hell we are going.

Comments encouraged. 

DOS TORTAS

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As The World Turns

6 Jun

It has been over six months since I decided to take a hiatus from the Adventures Of Dos Tortas. Life seems to be full of a different sort of adventure from when I first started writing in 2013. At that time we were packing up our home in Austin, Texas to move to far south Mexico. We bought property on beautiful Laguna Bacalar and had plans for a home and simple life. As it is with life in general, a lot has changed. 

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Some weather heading our way.

The sleepy little village of Bacalar has exploded with hotels, restaurants and tourists. Exploded is a bit sensational, certainly not like Playa del Carmen or Tulum, but on its way. The Laguna is overrun with boat tours taking guests to “explore” the mangroves. The wildlife suffer as the jungle is cleared. It’s not any different from any part of the world where tourism is the primary industry. Locals are being bought out and little homes are being replaced with all-inclusives. We didn’t see it coming.

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The “pirate cove” ruins of a failed restaurant and popular boating destination.

While you might think that we are regretting our move to Mexico, we are not. Due to health challenges and family need, we have spent more than our fair share of time in the US over the past year, both in California (the birth of our granddaughters) and Texas (Lisa’s neck surgery). Both times we were missing our home and wanting to return to Bacalar. Life in the US is no cup of tea either.

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Hiking in Austin. Enjoying the weather.

When I lived in Mexico in the 70’s, it was the time of Watergate, Nixon’s impeachment and the Middle East oil crisis with its winding gas lines. I extended my student stay at that time and received a letter from my father (a first) asking me why I was “hiding out” in Mexico.  One of my teachers didn’t skip a beat and instantly replied, “tell him it’s one of the better places to hide out”.

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I will continue to hide out, paint, walk the dogs and watch the world turn. Times are uncertain for all of us but somehow writing helps me process. I make no promises to how often or what I’ll blog about. Stay tuned.

DOS TORTAS 

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Adiós Amigos/Amigas

4 Nov

Dear Followers, Friends and Family, this will be my last blog post. I have been toying with the idea of discontinuing DOS TORTAS for sometime and the decision is final. With over six years, 310 posts, 5,848 views from all over the world, 195 likes, and 341 followers, it’s been a wonderful experience and a lot of fun. I’ve grown as a writer and pushed myself in ways that I wouldn’t otherwise have grown. I remember being thrilled at having 100 followers, woohoo!

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Our original route from Austin to Bacalar September 2013

There are so many blogs about moving, traveling and living in Mexico. I have veered off topic quite a bit lately which is death for a blogger. Any “how to” guide will tell you to be narrow in topic and write to a specific audience. I’m afraid that ship has sailed. 

A few things we have learned on this great adventure:

  • Living in Mexico is not easy. There is a gaping cultural divide. It is not insurmountable but there is a price. 
  • Living in a gated expatriate community is not living in Mexico. 
  • If you don’t speak Spanish you better have money to pay someone to help navigate a system that is frustrating and complicated at best and incomprehensible at worst – renting, construction/renovation, banking, immigration, shopping, medical, veterinary, etc. etc. 
  • Air travel back and forth from Mexico to wherever has only gotten more problematic. The easy travel that we imagined no longer exists. Missed connections, flight delays due to bad weather, the cost of rescheduling tickets and the unexpected need for a hotel room adds up. Not to mention the inconvenience of lost passports, credit cards and other identification. 
  • Be fearless no matter where life takes you. It’s so much better than the alternative.
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My hard won permanent residency card.

None of this is said to discourage anyone. We love it here in Bacalar and have no regrets or plans to return to the US. Even at 55 and 66 we talk more frequently about aging in place. Illness and disability are probably the main reasons foreigners pack it in and head “home”. Life can turn on a dime. It’s good to have a plan B.

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Lisa’s mother’s tumble which resulted in multiple broken bones, surgery and physical therapy.

I would still love to hear from you with questions or comments. I will continue on Instagram at dos_tortas.  With much gratitude, blessings and peace. 

DOS TORTAS

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Mexico City Day 2

20 Aug

Our second day in La Ciudad we explored the Anthropology Museum and the castle of Chapultepec that offers an amazing vista of Mexico City. Chapultepec Park itself is larger the Central Park in New York. We could have spent the entire week here and not seen it all. There was a lovely lake with paddle boats and of course many vendors.

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The Anthropology Mueseum. The two story fountain was closed for cleaning.

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Chapultepec Castle.

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The French had a big influence on Mexico, not to mention rulership. Lisa loves castles.

Part of the goal of this trip is to revisit my old stopping grounds of 1973-74. A lot has changed in Mexico and the world, not to mention ME. Forty some years later at 65 years old, I am still in awe of this amazing country.

I am having trouble with internet, so the post on the historic district and Teotihuacan will have to wait.  Have a great week.

DOS TORTAS

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It’s All About Relationships

11 Jun

Making the decision to move to Mexico required many considerations. One of them was Lisa’s mom, Alice. Lisa left her California home at nineteen and only returned for the occasional family visit. Alice made a few forays to Texas but their relationship was not close. What to do?

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Lisa and Alice. They’re relationship has blossomed.

Alice was feeling increasingly isolated and her capacity for self care seemed to be diminishing. We felt like she would have a more vibrant and varied life with us and decided to invite her to live in Bacalar. After a rocky adjustment, life has settled into a new normal. I decided to ask her a few questions about her decision to move with us. It was a fun chance to connect and get to know her a little better.

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Alice’s 300 sq foot house on our property.

What made you decide to move to Mexico? – First and foremost to be near my daughter. I never really liked Bakersfield and I was ready for a change. My siblings all have their families and I was ready to do something different.

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A secure front door, media room and tiny kitchen.

How has Mexico surprised you? – I had visions of donkeys and huts. People are poor but they work hard. I am always amazed how kind they are. I like that people are not stressed. It’s such a peaceful environment.

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A porch makes the house feel spacious and comfortable.

What do you like here? – I love my house. I also get to see things I’ve never seen before like pyramids, villages, churches and markets. I would like to do more traveling.

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One of the few tubs in Bacalar, a colorful bathroom and cozy bedroom. A design all her own.

What do you miss? – I really miss driving. (we both laughed, as her driving was a problem in CA) I miss going out at night. Sometimes Bacalar is a little too sleepy for me. Truthfully I don’t miss much. I’m really happy here.

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Saving a visitor stuck in the fence and corralled by the dogs.

We talked awhile and agreed that it’s hard to connect with other foreigners here. People live their busy lives in Mexico much like the US. The responsibility is ours to reach out. It’s not easy but very worth it.

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Advice For Living In Mexico

28 May

What advice do you have for those planning to move to or travel in Mexico? I penned “Retiring To Mexico Is It In Your Stars?” and reposted in July 2016. It has been my most popular blog. It’s worth taking a look back and see if things have changed in four years of life on the Costa Maya.

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Lisa making friends everywhere.

Learn Spanish – Our Spanish has improved tremendously in four years. But not without lots of work. Lisa had zero prior Spanish. Her first words were highway signs as we drove south from Texas. Today she understands almost everything. She will miss words but understand the basic conversation. She also speaks passable Spanish. Lisa is not afraid to make mistakes and will try to converse in all situations. People love her for her willingness and she continues to grow in confidence. We both use the Ap Duolingo. Mexican friends are the best.

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After an hour conversation, a shop owner in Ticul shares local history and gives great discounts!

I had passable Spanish upon arrival. I was worthless on the phone. Understanding was my weakness. I now too understand most conversations. I no longer avoid making phone appointments. I feel confident and am continually improving.

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An international group of friends celebrating our marriage in July 2014.

So yes, LEARN SPANISH. Don’t avoid it no matter how uncomfortable.

Start Preparing Today – I did a lot of research before we took off for Mexico. Many people want to get on Facebook and simply ask questions. It’s lazy and does not prepare you for the strong independent life you will need to lead. If you are planning on living in a gated community with only English speaking immigrants and hiring bilingual help, you will miss much of the beauty that is Mexico. No strong opinions here.

Come Happy – I stand fast with this suggestion. There is so much here that delights, the people, the culture, and the natural beauty. However, like life, the same things that delight will dismay if you take them personally or impose your own standards. The relaxed living means things don’t get done in a timely fashion. The use of plastic is through the roof and recycling cannot begin to keep up. Much of the natural beauty may be littered in trash.

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There was so much trash floating in the water of this little village, it was hard to be here.

Words are incomplete to describe our chosen life and country. It is painful to see the distrust and animosity between the US and Mexico. We are like sibling who’ve had a falling out and haven’t spoken in years for an infraction we can no longer remember. So sad. We will continue to be ambassadors. Please ask questions and suggestion topics.

DOS TORTAS

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Inspiration And A Plan (3)

26 Mar

This is week three and the final week of my #21EmBody paint along. Who knew that a seemingly small commitment could have such a profound impact. But again, isn’t that how life is when you’re open to the unexpected and unplanned?

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BREASTS

It all started when a friend posted to Facebook an invitation to paint, heal and show respect for our various body parts. Mmmm what an interesting idea! The event was orchestrated by Connie Solera a well known artist’s guru. I was intrigued.

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BELLY

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NAVEL

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SPINE

And as I am prone to do, being the Torta that I am, I jumped in with both feet. Paintings are posted to Instagram and Facebook for the world to see. Not only did I get to follow the amazing work of artists from around the world painting the same subject, but I got to see my own work evolve. I have never produced an art journal before, and my 5×7 sketch pad is now a treasure.

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HAIR

I appreciate the many comments from other artists and friends alike. Even last night I ran into a friend out and about in Bacalar who had seen and appreciated my work on Facebook and is talking about picking up a brush.

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EARS

I couldn’t complete this story without a shout out to George W. Bush. Our forty-third has become an amazing artist with no background but a lot of heart. He was making the rounds of late-night talk shows and I caught him on Jimmy Kimmel. He was friggin inspirational. The man is amazing AND funny. I know, who knew?

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LEGS

What did I learn? The creative process cannot be rushed. It forces me to slow my mind and listen to my inner voice. At the same time, I need to NOT listen to the inner critical voice. It showed up loudly when painting my breasts and belly. Especially my belly. That was the hardest. I learned that my work is mine and doesn’t compare at all to anyone else’s. I love looking at others’ paintings of the same subject. Their amazing work does not diminish mine in the slightest. I had so much fun.

DOS TORTAS

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Inspiration And A Plan (2)

19 Mar

The painting challenge #21emBODY with artist extraordinaire Connie Solera continues this week with the prompts EYES, LIPS, NOSE, TOES, SHOULDERS, NECK and HIPS. Retired and living in Mexico, I appreciate the creativity, structure and opportunity to nurture my artistic spark. The idea is to heal our body, one part at a time. I don’t know about healing, but it sure has been fun.

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Hazel Eyes

Staring into my 65 year old eyes, with the wrinkles and skimpy lashes was hard at first. After awhile I became fascinated with me.

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Lips

I used the painting of lips as my experiment with color. I’ve wanted to use myself as the model for this process and a blue painting was my attempt at playfulness.

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Nose

A change from staring a my own face I decided to switch it up again. I choose another nose that is dear to my heart these days. Our dog Luna provides never ending entertainment. This is a replication of one of my favorite pictures of her.

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Toes

Ah, yes, toes. I got down on the floor and played with camera angles to get this upside down perspective. Sketching has also been a fun part of the process. My need to be perfect is falling away.

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Shoulders

Continuing to play with color resulted in this blue/green rendition of myself. I experienced  a lot of shoulder pain at one time and would wake at night with my shoulders reaching for my ears, my body’s response to stress. No more! I’m loving these relaxed shoulders.

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Neck

A bit more stylized, this self portrait hardly resembles me today. It was fun to paint and I added a scarf as an afterthought. You who know me are familiar with my pleasure in making, collecting and wearing scarves .

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Hips

And finally this week, I celebrate my hips. I went to the art supply store yesterday in search of some oil pastels. I’d like to branch out and try new techniques. I like the colors and texture the pastels produced.

As life has spun around me this week, painting has provided an anchor and a focus. I’ve surprised myself with the outcome. I am loosening my grip and need to control. If that’s not healing, I don’t know what is. DOS TORTAS

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Inspiration And A Plan

12 Mar

Painting and being more artistic, whatever that means, has always been a big part of my retirement vision. It’s funny how I’ve had this corner of my brain where I put things for “some day” when I am no longer working. Of course that vision has changed with actual retirement. (Now Is As Good A Time As Any). Joining with other painters for Rendezvous 2015 and 2017 was fun and pushed me to paint but I returned home with no idea how to continue. No clear plan in retirement means trolling Facebook and playing solitaire  

When my dear friend Alison (Deva Designs, San Antonio), posted an invitation by artist extraordinaire Connie Solera to participate in a 21-day paint along, I jumped at the chance. I respond well to pressure and structure.

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I’m all about self-exploration  and making peace with whatever is getting in my way. After all, what else have I got to do? In this case my body seemed like a good healing target. Lots of material there.

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LUNGS for the kicker.

My first day was a blast. I never would have thought to paint lungs. I went in for the medical illustration, a career that I would have loved if I knew it existed. I have recently discontinued all asthma medication thanks to my Mexican pulmonologist. Woohoo I can breathe!

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HEART

A shout out to my Catholic roots. This time however, it’s MY Sacred Heart with no thorns, thank you very much.

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BACK

A bit more playful this time with a selfie in the bathroom mirror. This may be my favorite so far.

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BONES

I started with an X-ray of my pelvis from a fall of a couple of years ago. This painting really took on a life of its own. Some days you have to get out of the way and let the creativity flow.

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HAND

My other retrospection of late has been my relationship with God. This painting is from a pendant, a hamsa, which represents “the Hand of God”.  I like hand images and have a few.

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FEET

Feet are not the easiest subject. I did notice that I hit a wall with each painting, doubting my skill, doubting myself. Mmmm I wonder how often I do that?!

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ARMS

I chose to celebrate the hug, the hugger and the huggie. My life would be so much less without them. My biggest lesson so far has been that I don’t need to compare myself to the other artists. My work (or play) is my own. Please visit, comment and share at #21emBODY on Instagram and Facebook to see the amazing art being produced by participants of this challenge.

DOS TORTAS

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