Tag Archives: retire mexico

The Crying Tree

10 Sep

Just to be clear, the tree wasn’t crying, I was. Day one of our visit to Oaxaca in Central Mexico, about five hours south of Mexico City, we joined a tour with a bi-lingual guide to visit the archeological site of Mitla, a place I had visited over forty years ago.

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The step-fret designs are individually cut stones. No mortar is involved.

We took a couple of tours while in Oaxaca. They were cheap, $20 each for the entire day, cold water provided. The guides were very knowledgeable. We stopped for lunch at great local restaurants and the groups were small, maybe eight people. It helps that we were visiting during the slow season.  It rained most days, but it never slowed us down.

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I kept forgetting to bring my “before” pictures with me.

When I visited Mitla in 1975, it was located off a dirt road in the high dessert. I was in awe as I walked the archeological site. The site hasn’t changed much but boy have the surroundings. It is now situated in the middle of a large community that services the many bus loads of tourists arriving daily. I can’t even imagine it during high season.

On the way to Mitla we stopped at the Tule Tree. I had never heard of it. It is the tree with the largest circumference in the world, 137 feet around!

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Located in the Zapotecan village of Santa Maria del Tule, Oax.

For some reason I was overcome with grief looking at this beautiful 2,000 year old tree. She knew the ancients, saw the slaughter of the indigenous people, lived through revolution after revolution, and now stands witness to the insanity of our times. Maybe it was me, but I sensed sadness and wept. I wonder if she knew an earthquake was coming to her land two weeks later that would kill many people?

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Feeling emotional.

One more stop to see a petrified waterfall. We didn’t quite beat the rain, but it was worth the  trek.

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Sulphuric spring pools to the left.

We had a full day with eight more to go. There was so much more to see and do. Stay tuned. DOS TORTAS

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Lovely Oaxaca

3 Sep

Saying adiós to Mexico City, we headed for the next leg of our tour of Central Mexico, Oaxaca. Part of the goal of this trip is to visit places I loved while in college in Mexico in 1973, I used to travel by train from Puebla to Oaxaca for long weekends to this magical city. Unfortunately the trains no longer runs. Such is progress.

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Santo Domingo Cathedral. Weddings, funerals and quinceañeras.

 

We checked into our AirB&B after a seven hour bus ride from Mexico City. The hotelito was a bit primitive with a hard bed, lumpy pillows and lots of mosquitoes. The location was perfect however, right downtown and the price was right. I felt like I was back in college. Oh well, we survived.

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Botanical Gardens

We explored the city mostly on foot. It was mind blowing and I could write a month of blogs just on Oaxaca. Replicating my old photos has been so much fun.

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This fountain has changed considerably and is now the centerpiece for an amazing museum.

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Courtyard of the Museum de las Culturas

Probably the least attractive area of Oaxaca is the Zócalo. This beautiful park where teenagers came to check each other out under the watchful eyes of chaperones is now a campground for political protesters. I don’t know the details of their complaints but the area is a mess.

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Balancing a basket of watermelon, a young woman plies her wares. Circa 1973

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Another balancing act.  Note her long braids wrapped in ribbons, very typical of the times.

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Today, political protesters have taken over the Zócalo.

The Zocalo is crowded and dirty. For some reason I am having difficulty posting after the video below, so I will end here. Please scroll down and see the photos of the Zocalo today. Lots more on Oaxaca to come. DOS TORTAS

Teotihuacán – The Valley of the Gods

27 Aug

In September 1973, having arrived in Mexico only a few days prior as a foreign exchange student, I joined classmates on a field trip to Teotihuacán, an ancient Aztec city of enormous pyramids in a valley outside of Mexico City. The day was spent in awe for this twenty-one year old girl from New Jersey and began my love affair with Mexico.

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The view from the Pyramid of the Moon September 1973

Today, living in Mexico full-time as a retiree, I got the chance to revisit Teotihuacán.

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We traveled from our hotel in Mexico City via metro to the bus terminal for the one hour ride to Teotihuacán. Having downloaded Bill Bell’s On-Site Guide we had the confidence and information we needed. Recreating the photos was fun. Some of the photo angles are different since there have been renovations to the pyramids.

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Willing to offer my heart as sacrifice after the strenuous climb.

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The biggest change has been the growth of the many towns around the pyramids due to the income from tourism. We arrived early. There were very large crowds later in the day when the tour buses arrived.

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La Gruta

We even ate dinner at La Gruta, an immense cave turned restaurant. I hadn’t thought of the place in years. We ate lunch here as a table full of students in 1973. It was much as I remembered.

We spent two days huffing and puffing up and down pyramids. It was truly a wonderful experience. DOS TORTAS

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You Win Some You Loose Some

30 Jul

On Wednesday this week, I lost and found my diamond necklace and had my iPad stolen from my luggage, both on the same day. Travel has its perils.

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Winery beauty Northern California.

Sitting on the plane as we landed in Mexico City to start our U.S. vacation, my hand went to my throat and my necklace was missing. With an attempt at no drama, we looked through the plane seat and sent messages to our house sitter and friend who drove us to the airport. No luck. There wasn’t much else to do, so we continued with our travels.

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Petunias

Hours later, Lisa pointed incredulously at my foot, “what’s that?” and there was the necklace tangled in my shoe laces! It must have fallen and in my 3 a.m. stupor, I tied it into the bow! How crazy is that? I was feeling pretty smug at not having gotten upset at the possible loss of my beloved necklace. Not so fast, the day was young.

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Blooming artichoke.

Any way you look at it, travel these days is getting more stressful, especially international travel. There’s the luggage, fees, passports, immigration paperwork, security, finding your gate, layovers, delays etc. etc. In our case, all is negotiated in Spanish.

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Who doesn’t love goats at a winery ❤️ she looks pregnant.

We landed without further event in San Francisco. The plane arrived thirty minutes early. We slid through immigration and ran to catch an earlier shuttle than we expected for the two hour ride to my daughter’s house. Things were clicking along until I reached into my suitcase to retrieve my iPad. I had it stowed in my checked bag due to newly released security warnings. Drum roll….

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The cover was there but no iPad. Our very long day just got longer. Fast forward to today, I have a new iPad and thanks to that mysterious thing called the cloud, my old pad has been erased and a new one restored. I wish I could say that there was no drama. I understand in my head why people steal, but it’s hard not to take it personally. Replacing a device is an inconvenience, not to mention a pain in the ass and an expense. Lesson learned, nothing of value in checked luggage. When we moved to Mexico we had visions of zipping north to visit the grands. Not as easy as we though and one more thing to consider when making plans to retire in Mexico.

DOS TORTAS

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You Know You’ve Made It When…

7 May

Lisa and I have always been very self-sufficient women. When we retired to Southern Mexico in 2013 there were many tasks to be accomplished that needed more language proficiency than we had at the time. We got assistance with the initial immigration process, opening a bank account and all of the federal and local permits required for building our house.

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There are some tasks that are worth figuring out ourselves. It improves language skills and confidence. This week we bought a car.

In Mexico, there are two types of residency cards, temporary and permanent. We are quickly approaching our permanent status. As temporary residents we are permitted to drive a car with US license plates. Not so with permanent residency. Besides it was time ro get rid of the truck.

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Mexican green card.

Our trusty Ford 150 pick-up not only carted all our possessions to Mexico, and made two long trips NOTB, but hauled endless building supplies for the construction of our house. With 158,000 miles, it has served us well and we are so grateful. She is however, too damn big.

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Pulling out the drive in Austin 2013.

City driving in our truck has been a nightmare. Mexican cities are old and streets are narrow. Parking is a whole other story. Buying gasoline is our biggest monthly expense. Our plan all along has been to return from our US vacation and begin car shopping.

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Registering the car and ordering our Mexican license plates.

While on our trip, a car was posted for sale to the Bacalar Yahoo Group. It was exactly the size we wanted, a 2008 Chevy Captiva, merlot red, little wagon with ridiculously low mileage.

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Meet Lolita, the newest Torta!

We struck a deal this week. On Friday we managed to get the car registered in our names and purchase insurance all in about three hours. Feeling quite proud of ourselves we headed out for a road trip to Tulum. It’s nice to feel that we can manage basic tasks in Spanish. Our hard work has paid off.

DOS TORTAS

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Turn Here

26 Feb

On our way to Merida for the watercoloring adventure, Rendezvous 2017, our little band of travels got hungry and began looking for a place to stop. It is a long drive and we had set out early from Bacalar. Casually making a turn off the highway in search of a little village eatery, we were quite astounded at what we found.

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The pyramids of Mayapan were not 100 feet off the highway. We had all traveled the route to Merida many times oblivious that this ancient village was hidden behind the trees.

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Mexico is like that. Make a wrong turn or a right turn and step into a whole other world.

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A winged bird-human.

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Posing with a giant carved mask.

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My friend Yolanda made the climb to the top of the largest pyramid. We were so amazed at how many times we’d unknowingly passed these pyramids.

We spent a brief time climbing the pyramids and taking pictures, with promises to return when we had more time. I never tire of learning about the Mayan people who lived in the Yucatán so many years ago.

DOS TORTAS

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A Story Like The Wind

5 Feb

When our children were young, I read them bedtime stories. Little Women, The Indian in the Cupboard. I love to read aloud. Maybe it’s because my dad did too. He read the Sunday comics with a different voice for each character. He should have been a voiceover actor.

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My dad like to read, travel and he liked parades.

For twenty-three years we have continued with the bedtime reading ritual. I read aloud, Lisa listens. I wish I had kept track of all the books we’ve read.

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The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings Series, the Harry Potter books, the seven Chronicles of Narnia, the Eragon series by Christopher Paolini (I highly recommend them although we’ve never read the fourth book.) and two of my favorites, A Story Like the Wind and it’s sequel, A Far Off Place by Laurens Van Der Post to name a few.

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If I had to pick my favorite book of all time, it would be The Far Pavilions by M.M. Kaye. I think I’ve personally read it three times. And many, many more in twenty-three years. Why did I not write them down? I don’t think I imagined I’d be reading for so long.

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Presently we’re reading the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith.

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Not all books lend themselves to being read aloud. Choosing from the adolescent section is a good bet. We’ve slogged through many books that should have been retired early on. We’ve also shied away from anything that might prevent pleasant dreams.

This week I will be in Merida for Art Rendezvous, so no reading before bed. We’ve tried reading over the phone, but it’s not the same.

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So you might try reading someone a bedtime story, a child, elderly person or your spouse. It is the absolutely sweetest experience. And who knows, it could create a lifelong habit.

DOS TORTAS 

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Mexican Expat Life

18 Dec

Sometimes adventure is not WHAT you visit, pyramids, churches, mercados, etc. but WHO you meet along the way. Join the TORTAS as we venture out from our home in Bacalar along the Costa Maya to explore parts unknown (at least to us).

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To celebrate a Torta birthday this week, we visited the pueblo of Puerto Morelos nestled between Cancun and Playa del Carmen. Little did we know that this cozy fishing village is an exploding tourist town and expatriate destination.

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Guatemalan boys walking the beach looking for tourist pesos.

Something lacking in the far reaches of southern Mexico that we call home, is an English language bookstore. What a surprise to find Alma Libre Bookstore. 

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Rob and Joanne Birce

Not only are Rob and Joanne long time residents of this sleepy little town, Rob went to school with our friend and fellow Bacalar resident, Mitch! We were immediately family and Joanne told us all the best places to eat in Puerto Morelos.

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Visit their website for all things Puerto Morelos.

At Joanne’s recommendation we dined at La Sirena and met the owner Anthony Chalas from my home state of New Jersey. Greek food in Mexico, yum!

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Great artwork for a photo op.

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Caribbean sea turtle mural.

On our two day tour of Puerto Morelos, we got to visit the local mercado and meet Ann Trépanier, French Canadian and artist extraordinaire.

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Making art from recycled plastic. My kinda gal!

Ann makes “fabric” from heating together layered plastic bags. She is passionate about the environment and the changes she sees in her precious little town due to unregulated tourism.

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I wish I’d bought all her bags. Contact her at welovepuertomorelos@yahoo.com

There was one more astonishing encounter with a restaurant manager, but that is a story for another day. Travel in Mexico is full of opportunities. Do venture out of the all-inclusive hotel compounds. Not only will you meet lovely Mexican people and fellow fearless travelers but expats from around the world who live, love and fight to protect Mexico’s resources. Do tell them “hello” from

DOS TORTAS

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A Friday Night In Smalltown Mexico

30 Oct

What is there to do for a retired expat on Friday night in a sleepy little Mexican town, far from the nightlife of Cancun and Playa del Carmen? While my wife was enjoying an evening of gringo poker, I thought I’d take myself out for dinner and a walk around the park to see what’s shaking in Bacalar.

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The gazebo in the heart of downtown Bacalar.

It was early by Mexican standards. Families would be out as soon as the sun went down and the evening cooled. Vendors were setting up shop, probably looking forward to the Day of the Dead activities next week. Memorial alters will be on display around the park featuring candy skulls, family photos and lots of marigolds. It is an annual competition and a huge draw that brings people into town to participate or view. There were few tourists about this evening and sales were slim pickings.

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The first vegan restaurant in Bacalar.

I ambled over to El Mango y Chile. I very much want to support local entrepreneurs who try new things that bring flavor to Bacalar. Dani and Jesús, the owners, are go-getters and the food is yummy. They also have a food blog mangoychile.com with lots of healthy Mexican dishes.

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A lovely patio overlooking the Laguna.

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Someone out on a sunset sail.

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A street dog with sweet eyes and a thumpy tail was under a table. I want to take them all home.

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The classic “burger” that come with the best fries in Bacalar.

My dinner was yummy. The location is perfect and I hope the restaurant thrives. No walk about is complete without a stop at one of several new heladerías that have popped up around the square.

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A must stop for any and all visitors. The owner is Mr. Personality and fun to talk to in English or Spanish.

Cappuccino ice cream was the choice this evening before I caught a taxi home. There is probably more action in some of the bars if one is looking for it. I do wish that there were live music and a dance venue, but that would require us to stay up past 9:00. I would consider it, believe me, except in Bacalar, nothing starts until 9:00. Ah, for a night of youthful energy once a week. I don’t think it’s asking too much, do you?

DOS TORTAS visit us on Instagram at dos_tortas

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Home Sweet Bacalar

23 Oct

Returning to Bacalar, the Laguna of Seven Colors, along the Costa Maya of southern Mexico after two and a half weeks in Northern California has been bittersweet. I loved seeing our grandson daily. His eyes lighting up when he saw me was wonderful beyond words. We read books, went for walks and ate Nana-made concoctions for lunch. It is a grandparents’ lament whether you live in the States, Mexico or anywhere the young ones are not.

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Blueberry smoothie for breakfast, yum. Even this picky eater couldn’t resist. Score one for Nana.

Returning to Bacalar has been noticeably quieter than a home with an eleven month old. Residents have a reprieve before high season brings tourists and snow birds. There is less income for locals, restaurants and hotels, but more peace.

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Favorite restaurant El Manatí got a facelift while I was gone.

Weather is divine, upper 60’s (20C) at night and 80’s (31C) during the day with an afternoon shower to keep the garden green with splashes of color.

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Blooms start out white and actually turn pink! Amazing.

Cutting from a cactus that will get very tall.

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Bird of paradise in bloom.

September completed our first year living in our lovely home. We are enjoying the tranquility and continue to marvel at the life we have created. What is in our crystal ball? A family reunion in November and trip to Texas in the spring. For now we are loving everyday from striking sunrise to breathtaking sunset.

DOS TORTAS

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