Tag Archives: southern yucatan

Cobá Center of the Mayan Universe

26 Oct

Since moving to Mexico, Lisa and I have wanted to visit the pyramides of Cobá. It is north, turn left at Tulum and follow the signs. There was a tropical storm predicted but we were unfazed. The weather in Mexico is much like Texas, wait an hour and it changes.

Entrance

Entrance

We arrived early to beat the crowds. Tour buses can empty out and make even a spacious site such as Cobá (almost 50 sq miles which housed 50,000 people at its peak population) feel crowded.

Walking through the jungle.

Walking through the jungle.

We spent $20US for a tour guide. Ixmael, a local guy who taught himself English. He made our trip fun and answered our endless questions.

A great guide shows us around.

Lisa with Karen Flowers, our friend  from Tulum.

Pedicabs made the trekking easier after climbing the highest pyramid in the Yucatan peninsula.

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Nohoch Mul is 138 feet tall. It will be closed to climbing in 2015.

130 steps to the top.

130 steps to the top.

View from the top with rain cloud.

View from the top with rain cloud.

Cobá has wonderful carvings, columns and early Mayan ball courts.

Put a leather ball through the ring without using hands or feet.

Put a leather ball through the ring without using hands or feet.

Stone columns.

Stone columns.

Carving of a Mayan king.

Carving of a Mayan king.

Watching over a grisley ritual.

Watching over a grisley ritual.

They jungle itself was also amazing.

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Shopping opportunity outside the gate.

Shopping opportunity outside the gate.

Driving home, the sky amazed as always.

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The pyramids of Mexico give us added respect for a country with an ancient history. You’re welcome to ride shotgun with the Tortas as we work our way around the Yucatan. See you next week.

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Sunrise of the week.

Sunrise of the week Laguna Bacalar.

You Can Never Have Too Much Inspiration

7 Sep

After the bulb went off over my head about two years ago and I began researching places to retire, I wasn’t 100% sold on México. Lisa and I had made travel an important part of our life. Every trip, Thailand, Turkey, Belize, even the lesbian capital of the world, Provincetown, MA evoked the question, “could we live here?” I guess it was clear that Texas wasn’t our final destination.

Saying adiós to family before leaving Austin.

Saying adiós to family before leaving Austin.

During the research period, a movie came out, with Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, and Dev Patel called, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (for the elderly and beautiful). It isn’t often that a movie has almost all it’s main characters in their sixties and seventies. It also made me laugh out loud.

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A group of aging Brits moves to India to seek an affordable retirement. They discover, that the hotel they are moving into has been photo shopped on the internet by its young and optimistic owner,  played by Dev Patel (Slum Dog Millionaire). His enthusiasm for the future invokes trust (also the fact that they all bought one-way tickets); drama and mayhem ensues.

The south end of Laguna Bacalar.

The south end of Laguna Bacalar.

Besides the joy I experienced watching these characters make choices that transform their lives, there are wonderful inspirational dichos, sayings, that are really the take-away message.

The measure of success is how we cope with disappointment. Disappointment is all about living in the past and wishing things had been different. It took me a long time to figure out that it’s a distraction which keeps me from learning and making different choices now.

There's always a storm somewhere.

There’s always a storm somewhere.

The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing. I have learned along the way the pitfalls of choosing a life based on safety. It is costly and tastes like cardboard. I love to read inspirational stories of people who step out and grow wings.

Harvesting from our property

Harvesting from our property

All we know about the future is that it will be different. But perhaps what we fear is that it will be the same. So we must celebrate the changes. I can never be reminded too often to celebrate the change in this aging body. I am more relaxed and peaceful and that’s big for me. I still exercise but it’s by choice and because it makes me healthier and happier.

Lisa, her mom and me visiting the pyramids of Palenque.

Lisa, her mom and me visiting the pyramids of Palenque.

I am a big believer in filling my life with inspiration. At the same time, I strive to find inspiration in all things. If you haven’t seen The Amazing Marigold Hotel, add it to your list of things that inspire, no matter how old you are.

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And my favorite quote…Everything will be all right in the end and if it’s not, then trust me, it’s not yet the end. 

Today’s Spanish Lesson ¿Dónde está el baño?

18 May

When out and about in the US, one rarely thinks twice about bathrooms, unless you’re at an outdoor venue and forced to use a port-o-potty.

In Japan I once stumbled into a unisex bathroom which was a surprise to say the least.

Japanese Unisex bathrooms contain stalls and urinals.

Japanese Unisex bathrooms contain stalls and urinals.

In the airport bathroom in Istabul there was a sign asking people to please not wash their feet in the sink. International bathrooms are full of cultural experiences.

Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

You can’t miss this sign at a roadside Mexican restaurant.

Outside a roadside restaurant.

Pull over I gotta go.

Living in Mexico in the 70’s gives me a point of reference for baños. It was so much worse then. Public restrooms were hard to come by and toilet paper, as we know it, was not common (newspaper, comic books). A lesson my grandmother taught me, and every woman in Mexico knows, never leave the house without tissues.

In Bacalar.

In Bacalar.

Today, there are clean functional toilets (most of the time) in Pemex stations where you stop for gas. The trouble is, they charge $3-5 pesos, $.25-.40 per use. It is a clear discrimination against women, since men have no trouble peeing on their tires. I’m not sure what’s up with the whole peeing on the tires thing, but you see it everywhere, pull over and pee on your tires!

Then one day I came across this –

They can't refuse you service.

They can’t refuse you service.

Handing a few coins to the bathroom attendant in the bus station, restaurant, government building, grocery store or hotel is the norm. I figure that I can afford it and it’s a way to circulate money to people who’s income it is. It’s the same for the people that pump your gas, sack your groceries or help you park your car (whether you need it or not).

So when looking for the baño in México, remember to bring your tissue and always have a pocket of change, or you too could find yourself peeing on your tires.

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A Favorite Laguna Bacalar Picture

A Favorite Laguna Bacalar Picture

The Expat Community Center – Casita Carolina

20 Apr

When we visited Bacalar for the first time in December 2012 we stayed in a wonderful guest house called Casita Carolina.

Carolina - Queen of Bacalar

Carolina – Queen of Bacalar

As visitors we connected with other travelers and daily life in our soon-to-be new community.

Sunrise Extraordinaire at Casita Carolina

Sunrise on the Lawn at Casita Carolina

This year, as residents, we’ve come to appreciate that Casita Carolina’s also serves as a cultural center. There are monthly opportunities to gather and meet new friends, enjoy musical performances, and celebrate holidays.

Ginger Heat - Delightful Visiting Madrigals

Ginger Heat – Delightful Visiting Madrigals

Every year at the end of February, artists both local and visiting show off their talents at the Art Rendezvous. For a week, they visit sights with their watercolor pads in hand to immortalize the scenes and people of Bacalar. A wonderful sale follows. Anyone can participate in the fun as painter or patron.

Come One Come All

Come One Come All

Resident of Bacalar

Resident of Bacalar

El Mercado

El Mercado

Sights of Bacalar

Sights of Bacalar

We are coming to love and appreciate this wonderful little community that every day feels more like home. Thank you Carolina for all you do for Bacalar.

Small Town Living in Mexico What No Starbucks?

6 Apr

When we made the decision to move to Mexico’s Southern Yucatan peninsula, it was for as much of what we didn’t find here as what we did. As I ride my bike around town, I see so many sites that delight my eyes. I don’t want to romanticize poverty, but what you and I might consider poverty has it’s wealth in simple living for many. Enjoy some of the sights of Bacalar as it prepares for an influx of tourists for Semana Santa (Holy Week) leading up to Easter.

One of Many Majestic Trees

Enjoying the Shade in Bacalar, MX

Cenote Azul

Cenote Azul A Swimmer’s Paradise

On the Costera - Spiffing Up for the Holiday Week

On the Costera – Spiffing Up for the Holiday Week

A Small Hang Out for the Hipper Crowd

A Small Hang Out for the Hipper Crowd

Simple Traditional Home

Simple Traditional Bacalar Home

Model of Bacalar Found In The City Park

Model of Bacalar Found In The City Park

Looking For a Bathroom or a House to Buy?

Looking For a Baño or a House to Buy?

One of Ten Speedbumps or Tolpes Along the Highway.

One of Ten Speedbumps or Topes Along the Highway Through Bacalar

Gratitude, Gratitude, Gratitude

Gratitude, Gratitude, Gratitude

The End of The World As We Knew It – September 2013

30 Mar

We were going through some of our things in storage this week and came across our trusty 2013 calendar. It was the “month-at-a-glance” tool that we used to coordinate our busy lives in Austin and ultimately our escape to Mexico. Having worked for the government for many years, I am a planner, coordinator and timeline kinda gal. The calendar which held our to-do lists (camper shell for the truck, paint bedroom, make appointment to get new wills written) has now become a journal of sorts. We were so impatient to get the house sold, pack and be on our way. The details of appointments, purchases and goodbyes seemed endless. We sure were busy.

If it were the end of the world and future archiologists were digging through the rubble and came across this calendar, it would be clear that something important happened in September 2013. The record of a very busy life seemed to mysteriously end the first of September. That of course was when we hit the road, Mexico bound.

It’s good to look back to get perspective as our ability to be happy in the present moment continues to be challenged. Granted, as we wait to close on our property and begin construction, we ARE living in paradise. Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude.

So what exactly is the complaint you might ask? It seems silly, but we are kinda bored. When living in limbo it is difficult to start long term projects. Getting to know people has proven more challenging than we thought. Everyone here seems just as busy in paradise as we were in the States. I guess it’s time to pull up our big girl pants and figure this out.

So if you’re considering a trip to visit us. Now would be a good time.

The. End of the World As We Knew It

The. End of the World As We Knew It

Ain't It The Truth

Ain’t It The Truth

Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude.

Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude.

Harvesting from our property

Harvesting from our property

A Non-blog Blog

23 Feb

Lisa and I have moved into a new location where we will live for the remainder of time until our house is built. At this time it has no wifi which makes daily communication challenging and blogging nearly impossible. While we will be remedying the situation shortly, everything takes a bit longer in Mexico.

My MIL returns to California this week, and hopefully things will settle down a bit. It has been a whirlwind two months of traveling, moving, sightseeing and either being or having company.

Last night we went to Carnival Bacaler. What fun! I think everyone in Bacalar was there. There was a parade, vendors, a huge pachanga. I will know this is my community when I recognize people who are non-English speaking friends. Soon, very soon.

Thought for the day.

Thought for the day.

Sunrise this past week.

Sunrise this past week.

Worth getting up at 6 am.

Worth getting up at 6 am.

Morning visitor.

Morning visitor.

Holding on to Friendships that Span Time and Distance – The Tortas say Adios

2 Feb
Dear Austin Friends

Dear Austin Friends

Thursday we gathered with Austin friends to share hugs and stories of our new life in Mexico. I am always surprised by the sweet affection of women I have known and worked with for twenty years. There were many promises of visits from these avid blog followers.

Friday morning we squeezed in final moments with our grandchildren before getting on the road for south Texas. The plan was to sleep on this side and hit the border early.

Leaving  McQueeney, Texas

Leaving McQueeney, Texas

Lisa's mom and third Torta Alice with our grandson Hunter

Lisa’s mom and third Torta Alice with our grandson Hunter

We crossed easily at Los Indios, a small border crossing where we were waved through. An hour later we stopped at the aduana and received a minimal inspection. I took my first deep breath of the day as we sailed through immigration. Our theory is that showing our green cards looks very official and clearly states that we are Mexican residents. The fact that we are three older women probably supports that age-old myth that we could not be smugglers.

The drive to San Miguel was smooth, with only one back track. Traveling through the mountains made for a beautiful trip and we arrived on schedule at the home of our friends Judy and Nancy. We leave Tuesday for the pyramids of Palenque and on to Bacalar.

Next week we will report on our stay in San Miguel. Happy Superbowl Sunday all.

Mountains outside of San Luis Potosi

Mountains outside of San Luis Potosi

Over and through.
Over and through.

Our mascota el pato.
Our mascota La Tortita.

The Cobblestones of San Miguel de Allende
The Cobblestones Outside San Miguel de Allende

Chucking it all and moving to Mexico

14 Apr

Spring weekends like this one are frequently thought of as, “the reason I moved to Austin”. Not too cool and not too hot. I enjoy it before the scorching, dry summer starts. On Friday I was riding my bike home from work anticipating this lovely weekend when a thought popped into my head crisp and clear, “we’re really going to do this!”. It made me laugh out loud. We’re moving to Mexico! We’re going to build a small house on a beautiful lake and retire. OMG.

I want to thank my friend Karen. It’s one thing to read a book about someone who chucks it all and moves to a foreign country, but it means so much to me to KNOW someone who’s done it, to talk to them and visit them and say, “I can do this” and then doing it.

We had another garage sale yesterday. Poco a poco, little by little. Time to start seriously packing things that we ARE taking. It will make staging the house for sale easier. Off to enjoy the rest of this lovely weekend. Next spring will be a whole different story.

Lovely Sunrise

Lovely Sunrise

Bacalar Rising

Bacalar Rising – Time for a Swim

So What Exactly Are We Talking About Here?

31 Mar

What is an adventure? When I think about having an adventure, I think of an experience outside of my day-to-day vida loca that is foreign or sometimes a bit scary. The numero uno question that we get when we tell people we’re moving to Mexico is, “Is it safe?” While I admit that everything in life is a risk (when I’m feeling snarky, I’m tempted to say that if I wanted to be safe, I’d stay in bed) some things are riskier than others. When people talk about Mexico and safety in the same sentence, I find that they:

1) don’t really know much about Mexico except what they read in the news.
2) don’t know us very well and don’t consider that we know much about Mexico and have done our homework; and
3) don’t really put risk into perspective.

In 2012 34,767 people died in automobile accidents in the US, almost exactly the number killed in the four year period prior to 2010 in the Mexican drug war. While it’s not a perfect comparison, it’s a bit of perspective. The country of Mexico is big, three times bigger than Texas and the drug war is not targeted at US expats.

In spite of the risk, we still ride in cars everyday and we’re still moving to Mexico.

Dictionary.com states:
ad·ven·ture [ad-ven-cher]
1. an exciting or very unusual experience.
2. participation in exciting undertakings or enterprises: the spirit of adventure.
3. a bold, usually risky undertaking; hazardous action of uncertain outcome.
4. a commercial or financial speculation of any kind; venture.
Obsolete .
a. peril; danger; risk.
b. chance; fortune; luck.

Emilie Vardaman

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