Todays lesson is…Cambio…

That face you make when the teller asks…”Do joo have jor pasaporte?”

“Cambio”

It means to exchange your money. Of any type.

Mostly, when you pay your bill at a restaurant, you MUST request “Cambio” or they sometimes retain the balance as their tip.

Other times, like today for me it means, time to exchange some US dollars for some more fun Pesos.

So, on my way to la playa, I stopped at the local bank which is actually exchanging at a very favorable 12.75 pesos to one US dollar.

So, I take my place in line.

Upon arriving at the window, I hand the teller my US dollars and tell him I’d like to exchange them…to which he asks…”Por favor, tu pasaporte”.

I’m like, “Uh….I’m not going anywhere?”

He smiles that sympathetic smile and says…”Lo siento. Neccesitas tu pasaporte.”

Sigh…don’t forget your passport peeps when you need to Cambio.

Bubbles, Bubbles…Bubbles…

Thank you estudiantes for the 7:30am wake up call…it warms my soul to hear you all having fun.

So, throw open the curtains and HOLY S**T! WHAT, a beautiful day I get!

I do however need to spend some time booking holiday flights for Chy and over for Manhattan to visit brother John for Christmas…and work on two of my businesses…

I snagged her a sweet 1st class ticket using my American Airlines miles…my cost? $11.20…tax…

I, will try out an airline I admire but have never tried…Virgin…looking forward to being introduced to one as well…

As always, I’m hungry…I love to bike around and seek out locals hangouts…wherever I see a cabbie stopped, I do. I ask. If cabbies eat somewhere, I’m betting the odds are pretty good the food is inexpensive AND tasty…

Today, Kash Keken Chuc isn’t packed with waiting hungry locals and tourists…BINGO! I’ve eaten here before when Jill and I visited last year, so I KNOW it’s good.

Check this out…for 65 pesos, I got this ENTIRE meal! Including the cerveza!

I got to meet Martha, the owner. She is so cool. In fact, every Islanean I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting os the same way. The genuinely LOVE what they do, or at least I get the feeling they do. If you engage them in a conversation, first asking them is they speak any English. If they don’t, BINGO! I get to practice harder than ever, my Spanish. They LOVE that we try. I congratulate her on her recent expansion and she beams at it…recognition…it’s SO easy to give, and SO appreciated. Practice it and see where it takes you.

If you absolutely need some American fare, they even have KFC here on isla…

Ok, remember the other day when I told you the Agua dude trolls the neighborhood every morning? Well, here are some additional shots…if you park in a restricted zone, they don’t “boot” your vehicle, they just remove the wheels!

In fact, it looks like no matter what you drive or ride, they LOVE to remove your wheels…

Let’s do a leisurely roll into centro then Playa Norte and see what’s going on today.

Once on playa, I’m gazing into the sea when I begin to see…bubbles…not regular, dip-the-plastic-thing-into-a-small-cup-of-soapy-liquid kind of bubbles…GINORMOUS, people swallowing bubbles.

Behind me is “Maurice” from Paris. He is the source of these behemoth floating transporters of Dawn dish soap. With two fishing poles and a piece of cord tied between them, he has mastered the art(?) of bubble making. He can even make a bubble, INSIDE A BUBBLE!

 Life’s got to be pretty dang rad if your afternoon consists of sitting on a beach in the Caribbean and fascinating tourists and locals alike by…blowing bubbles. Way to go Maurice…

The end of another day in paradise is upon us as the sun sets behind me. Even as it does, the children still play on.

I’m hungry.

Rather than pedal around the neighborhood, tonight I shall walk.

My GPS pointed out a local eatery which she believes is called, “Rauls”. It’s right around the corner from me, and there always seems to be plenty of patrons, so, how can it be anything but good, right?

A short walk later I’m seated when a beautiful woman approaches ans asks if I would like a bebida.

“Tienes cerveza?” I ask.

“Si.” She replies.

“Tienes Sol?” I inquire, to which she replies, “Si.”

Tacos are on the menu as they are most everywhere else on Isla. Heck, anywhere in Mexico for that matter.

I order them…once again, my meeting with hunger pangs concludes faster than I can wipe the drool from my waiting mouth.

I asked my server her name…”Dasiy”, she replies.

“Muchas gracias Daisy”.

She’s the mother of three children ranging from 11 to 19…I look closer at her because she looks like she’s barely left her teens.

After swallowing the last bite, my head and stomach happy, I amble down the short flight of concrete steps grateful for the short 10 minute walk back to my place.

As I stand on my balcony, third cuba libre in hand, I could see it was a cool, calm and clear night over the Caribbean sea. The quarter moon shone just enough light to watch the gentle waves roll inward. In the distance, I could see the twinkle of lights from three passing cruise ships and I wondered, “Where are they headed tonight?”

I guess when they awaken, they’ll have their answer.

It’s cool enough to leave the a/c off and open all the windows…so I turn the iPod on, select some vintage Sinatra, pour another Cuba Libre and have a seat. This, I’m going to enjoy.

Cloudy day in paradise…what to do?

First, wake up and look out the window out to the Caribbean, and THANK GOD. Yeah. Those who live in any such place where they can enjoy a simple, off the hamster wheel life, I envy. Not that it’s always easy, I just envy their choice. They made it in their mind, then they acted on it.

Back to me…I need…breakfast…I need…I need…I need.

Sometimes I am SUCH a needy person…so, I need to satisfy my immediate need…but, with what?

My GPS texts and says, “Hey. I need to go to Cancun…are you interested?”

I’m needy?”

Before I go, I do need to deliver a number of items I packed…cash donations for “Cruz Roja” and “Isla Animals” as well as like, 200 pencils, erasers and sharpeners for a local elementary school…

So, Miss Penny picks me up and we head to my contact for Cruz Roja. His name is Geovanny Avalos. I’ve never met him except on Facebook. I wrote an article about Isla last year which a magazine picked up and paid me for it and I earmarked the funds for Geovanny.

Winding through the streets of Isla making our way downtown gives me the opportunity to be reminded that, people are just…people. And they live their lives the best way they know how. It’s not better or worse, its just, different.

On to Cancun…another opportunity to learn more about the city I’ve come to love…I think one reason I love it, is that it’s SO American. Nearly every type of store in the states also has a presence here.

Then, just when I get comfortable with that fact, I see this…yeah…we’re not in Kansas anymore Toto.

Seriously? A 3 wheeler powered by a Yamaha outboard? I wonder if he just… rides it off the dock to Cancun?

And, while I love Mexico, if you keep your eyes open long enough, you’re bound to experience something…you can finish that sentence.

“That reminds me. All this driving around on an empty stomach is making me cranky GPS.”

But, once again, American influence arrives in the form of Office Max…and, FINALLY! I KNEW there was something wrong with the English language. All these years, we’ve been duped people…so, now you can relax in the fact that you CAN say a mouse is mouses, as a moose is mooses…No? Well, I am.

Penny says she’s hungry as well, and we’re going to put a stop to that like, right now. “Today”, she says, “Will be a special treat.”

“Bovinos”

Those from the states, Las Vegas in particular, will understand this restaurant’s concept as “Texas De Brazil”.

THANK GAWD I was hungry and a little buzzed from this morning’s “breakfast.”

I need no instructions, only a seat to know what to do in this place.

It’s a beautifully developed space, worthy of a Medevial King’s castle. The service competes with both the selection and presentation of its choices, and I highly recommend you find this place. You’ll not be disappointed.

Real Brazilian meat. And TONS of it, come flying at us from all directions as if being delivered by the Flying Walendas. Once your table top place holder is green, a barrage of zig zagging servers all balancing towers of skewered meat in one hand and a razor sharp machete in the other, descend to your table. In impeccable Spanish, they present you with their proudest smile and carving ability. Only when you remember to turn your place holder to red, do they cease like the receding ocean tide.

An hour of this and I’m going to need to practice my siesta skills.

Oh. Wait. I forgot who I was with and why…we’re shopping for finishing touches for her re-opening of “El Patio”, one of Isla’s wildy successful restaurant/bars.

Doing so means we will be visiting what she can only describe as, “The Crazy Store.”

I chuckle.

Neither of us actually knows the name of the place.

Then we arrive.

I no chuckle no more.

THIS place is where Pier One Imports meets Michaels and explodes inside a cavernous, three story facility in the center of Cancun.

Seriously.

Whatever, and I mean that in all sincerity, you want or need, is in this place. Every season, every color, every region, every time period, every room, you’ll find something rare that few will ever have. And once in your home or office, nobody else will either.

Bye bye siesta, hello sensory overload. To see it is to believe it. You just have to go. (These two pics do NOT even begin to describe or cover what you’ll see in this place…)

Time to get all this stuff back to Isla and continue the renovations as her re-opening is…Friday. Halloween. In TWO days…from the looks of things, I’d say, more like the first Friday in December…to which my GPS merely flashes that mischievous, head-strong smile.

If this was Vegas, I’d bet on her making it happen.

The randomness of rambling…

You’ve been warned…today’s post will be nothing more than a mashpot of the past few days…complete with pics and off-the-wall observations.

On Sunday, the typical American will relax and watch TONS of football. Well, I’m an American, so I set off to find a spot covering games. My bike and I roll up to Marina Paraiso. This property is on the Cancun side of the island, and now managed by Brad and Tiffany, who own Barlito’s. Barlito’s was once located on Hidalgo and now, from hard work, smiles, a great product and the universe, they get to work here.

I, get to hang out in the bar, watching football, on the Caribbean, eating fresh grouper and downing ice cold Sols.

There are a lot of businesses on Isla which cater to the touristas…I want one…I think.

A pretty unique opportunity has come my way. Easy tours around the island from the water’s perspective. A local offered me to buy his boat to do so. He DID inform me that it needs a little work to get her seaworthy…hey, I saw “The Shawshank Redemption”…

They tried SO hard to look busy and contain their laughter…

On the Caribbean side there is a vacation rental called “The Shell House”. It’s literally built to resemble a shell. While rolling about on my bike, I discovered there is not only a turtle farm, but a shell house farm. Here, they grow and harvest little baby shell houses to transplant all over the island.

Riding a moto or bike comes with certain, challenges. Like, paying greater attention to your surroundings. Riding a moto or bike DOES allow you to see more of Isla however. Today’s lesson: look ahead of you once in a while…one of these suckas will eat you for lunch…

Here comes a moment of clarity for me. Across from Mango Café is one of the most beautiful churches set on one of the most beautiful plots of land overlooking the Caribbean.

When I took the shot, I thought nothing of it as I was just standing there after breakfast.

Not until I really studied it, did it communicate something to me.

Life is a lot like this shot. In order for us to aspire to become whatever, or whoever we desire, we must climb. The ascent may not always be easy, but the beauty of achievement is that it’s always worth it.

Last year we visited Isla during July and August; the height of turtle season. On the beach late one night we met one of Isla’s patriarchs, Ernesto. He and his family have lived on Isla all their lives and lead the volunteer campaign for the conservation of the sea turtle. While having a beer at Pita Amore, who do I see walking down the street? Yep. Ernesto. He looks deep into my face, then breaks out in laughter and a smile when he remembers me…

I texted my friend Sid tonight that I was going to catch a cab to Pita Amore for some dinner…it’s the qjuintessential stop for anyone desiring a high-quality product made so simply by a CIA trained chef, that is truly worth the stop. The Pita’s are outrageous, and for about $6.00 US, you’re not just eating here once.

Sid is a regular and a personal friend of Ricky’s, hell, anyone who meets Ricky becomes a personal friend…why? Because…that’s Isla. As such, he keeps a few bottle of high-end tequila in the freezer that he proudly shares with anyone who is his guest…tonight, I happen to be one of those guests. And let me tell you, two, wait, THREE shots later, you are sitting on Mt. Kilimanjaro having one deep conversation with the Dali Llama…or God…or…just yourself.

I looked around for my bike, then, after freaking out too soon, I remembered…I took a cab from mid-island where I’m staying into centro tonight. Which means, I’m taking one back as well. There’s something liberating about letting a completely sober guy who speaks like ZERO English drive a 17 year old foreign car through the streets of Isla to get a totally shit-faced Americano home. The trick here is, DO NOT look through the windshield…it will only freak you the hell out, and, unless you’re packed with a bunch of your drunk friends, who’s gonna like that.

 

 

 

 

Rum and Friday…

Alex Trebeck would ask…”Name two things that always go together.”

After spending a few hours on the beach, a lunch and a siesta, the kiddos playground laughter awakens me…hey, I actually took a nap! I’ve never been able to take them because I always have too much on my mind.

I’m not hungry, but the sun is setting and my rum-meter says it’s five o’clock somewhere…My GPS chirps and asks, “What’s the dinner plan?”

“I’m having rum at the moment.” I respond.

“What are you mixing it with?” I’m asked.

“A cup.”

We decide to head downtown and cruise Centro to see what the dinner mood is. Strolling Hidalgo (This Avenida, is more like a ”gauntlet” of restaurants and shops resembling a super compact Las Vegas strip) is always interesting, and when you happen to be strolling with Penny, there are a multitude of owners and managers of establishments who she stops to greet and say hello. That kind of attention comes from a kind and helpful personality.

There are so many places I’ve eaten at as well as so many I haven’t, the choices can be daunting. Another trend I’ve noticed lately, is all the building improvements. All over the island. Either people are making money or a lot of them have won the lottery.

Asia Caribe. Heard about it. It’s been here for years. Penny chats with the owner, Peter, and before you know it, we’re seated at a table.

Again with the rotation?

Everything I’ve ever heard about Asia Caribe is true and whenever I crave sushi on Isla, I now know exactly where to go.

Time for another stroll.

The night air is, cool, like Southern California and unlike the warm humid air I’ve experienced over my past visits earlier in the season. It makes being out totally pleasant.

The crowds are also thinner. Absent is the herd-like cluster of people packed onto Avenida Hidalgo making their way to wherever they’re making their way to.

Another place I’ve always wanted to venture to, but as it is HUGELY popular for the Salsa scene, is, “La Terraza”.

Up  flight of small, concrete steps lands you at the bar and dance floor where the music tempo and heat is intoxicating. Guess what it’s NOT tonight. Crowded. And the sounds of salsa are screaming for us to come up…so, we do.

Penny knows a few people, including members of the band. This band is killing it. They WREAK of Cuban soul and it doesn’t just seep from their pores, it screams from their souls, “Great times are coming!”

 ”Bring us cocktails.”

Don’t ask me why, but every time I see a dispenser like this in Mexico, I ask, “Why?”

The universal answer is, “Mexican Viagra.” Yep. That indeed is a scorpion atop watching over all the unfortunate others inside who once thought swimming in Tequila was cool. Perhaps one day, way out in my future, I will have need for such a drink; but currently, not hardly.

I think it was about 10:00 when the band, finished?

Ah. They finished as the keyboard player was needed with another band at a place I HAVE been and this place is another popular entertainment magnet…”Faynes”.

Packed house tonight. Lots of familiar locals and a large gathering of obvious Americans all having copious amounts of fun, dancing, and liquor.

Before we knew it, Penny and I have been hauled onto the dance floor and just, well, gettin’ jiggy with it.

That, my friends, is what I call a successful bar-hopping, feet moving, bellies full kind of night worthy of seeking again very soon.

What does an alarm clock in Mexico sound like?

Depends.

On what time you came home last night or early this morning…

Here’s some examples-

27 year old bicycle horns honking incessantly as a vendor strolling or pedaling some sort of rusted out 2, perhaps, 3 wheeled contraption selling anything from “Queso!” to “Cacahuates!” to anything else that will bring in a few pesos.

Then, the redundant, but melodical radio announcers voice shreaking over a beat up loudspeaker mounted on top of the “Agua! Agua! Agua!” cart.

Each of these brings some initial confusion, as they begin in the distance, then become increasingly louder with each step or rotation of the sprocket until they stop right in front of your building, until they fade away as they continue their morning journey.

Finally, old reliable…92 roosters all over the neighborhood competing for first up.

It’s slightly cloudy over the Caribbean this morning, and I’m going to take my chances on Playa Norte for a beach day…hey, my skinny, white ass has been sunburned on cloudy days as well, so, what the hell…

My landlord is a totally rad guy…generations of his family live on Isla…his nickname is “Beto”.

After sharing some stories, I hop on the cruiser to leave mid-island and head through town. I’ll make a quick stop and visit my friend Sid Morris to say hello…

Here are a couple of pics of Isla I’ve never before seen. I’m never here this late in the year, so I’m catching a little of the hurricane season. But, what I’ve noticed, and quickly adapted to is that, rain is part of the lifestyle on Isla and no matter who it is, or what they’re commuting on, or how they’re dressed, they press on as if it was a beautiful, bright day. After all, they realize they, live in paradise.

 

After a few hours practicing being a bum, I’m hungry, and since there was no talent on the beach to occupy my time, it’s off to engage in a lunchtime feast…I saw my amigo Polo yesterday on my run, and told him I would stop by and eat today, so I chose his wildly popular, Mango Café.

His menu is simple, Caribbean/Mexican infused, and always fresh. You can tell freshness and uniqueness; all one needs to do is look at the faces of the diners when their choice is delivered and tasted, so, order it all over the course of your visit. Here’s mine…

Polo’s a young guy, newlywed, new father, who is dialed and gets it. He realizes where he is and sells THAT to the visitor. Rain or shine, his beaming bright smile warms the entire room making all who enter feel the warmth that is Isla.

His location is across the street from one of the islands most beautiful churches I have ever seen…and that church rests on a plot of tierra overlooking the Caribbean sea…if that doesn’t coax you to a Sunday mass or two, then you’ll prolly never attend…prolly.

It’s 3:00 in the afternoon and by the quietness, it must be siesta time. The wind has brought in a strong rain and I mount my cruiser to take a leisurely roll along the highway I affectionately refer to as, “PCH”. (For my non-West Coasties, that stands for Pacific Coast Highway) It’s a short ride but I’m sitting straight up all the while being covered by God’s tears… He knows I need them.

Once the day ends, if I’m very lucky, my GPS will text about what we should do when night falls over Isla on this Friday.

For now, I’ll throw the iPod on the Bose and let Old Blue Eyes lull me into a well-deserved siesta while I smile at the sounds of laughter coming from one window and the crashing waves from the other…yes, this is paradise.

High-speed wobbles aren’t just for 30 year old broken down Isuzu’s…

Time.

I can’t get my head wrapped around it here…my phone displays two different zones…my HOME zone, then, for some odd reason, Eastern time.

So, when I look at those times, and I ask someone what time it is, the answer is NEITHER OF THEM!

I’m told Isla is 2 hours ahead of my home zone, and 1 earlier than Easter time zone…but the BEST answer?

“Does it matter.”

You’re hungry, eat.

Tired. Sleep.

Got it.

At some point this morning, my phone chirps. It’s my GPS Penny…she’s my equivalent to “Siri”.

I clear my eyes and read it.

“Good Morning. I’m hungover. Good job Louie.”

“Hahahaha”…I reply. “I just stood up and realized…Whoa, I ‘ve got a high-speed wobble.”

Today was cloudy and punctuated by mild sunshine. A good day for a run.

Then a cerveza…some food…and a nap.

Which I did.

Later in the afternoon, I’m awakened from my nap by the laughter of children. As a parent, there is NOTHING more soothing than to hear a child laughing. It means, at that precise moment in time, all is wonderful in that child’s life. Now, if we can only figure out a way to make sure that’s an everyday occurrence in every child’s life all over the world…

I shuffle over to the kitchen window and slide it open. Children on a blacktop playground playing some sort of “deportes” with a soccer ball.

See, the place I’m staying at for the month, amazingly is right behind the same school Jill and I volunteered at last year! I had no idea about that until this very moment and it’s going to be way convenient for me to walk over and give them the care package I prepared for them…pencils…erasers…sharpeners. Dollar stores in the US are the perfect place to fill those kinds of orders.

Penny texts again…”Staying in tonight.”

So, I’m on my own and since the night air is cool like Southern California and not muggy like it can be on Isla, it’s a perfect night to take a ride through La Gloria and find a great place to feed my face.

A few blocks away I find myself right in front of a popular place I’ve read about, but didn’t know exactly where it was – “Bastos”.

 

Seated at an outside table is my “neighbor” Kris. He’s a teacher originally from Maine, who sells adventure tours in season, in Alaska, and currently teaching at the school behind us.

He waves me over. Just yesterday he commented about how much he loves the food here, so, he offers me a seat, I order a beer, the night’s special and settle in for some conversation.

He’s a lot like my wandering friend, Kyle in that he’s worldly, well-traveled and full of experiences to share.

The sun has set and this sleepy little neighborhood comes to life. Across the street is a “Piano Bar”, which, when I peer in, looks like a typical locals social club. A dozen or so round plastic tables clad in red red tablecloths circled by four color-matched plastic chairs.

Don’t worry…the dog is just hungover, not dead.

A few locals sit steeped in texting conversations, while others, still wearing their moto helmets, laugh over a couple of Sol’s. See? They’re no different from anyone else.

The music pumps and this neighborhood is just now beginning to feel its pulse. People are out, socializing in the street, on their front porches, very young mothers push their babies in strollers, you hear the short “honk, honk, honk” from a bicycle horn from a street vendor while  a few boys holler at each other during an impromptu game of street futbol .

Our meal eaten, our beers consumed, it’s time to venture out into the night and see what else the island and her guests are up to on this small slice of paradise affectionately known as, “Isla.”

All in a day in…Cancun?

I know, right?

Fly across the US to stay on a tiny Caribbean island, then go to Cancun…

I usually begin writing my posts before I begin cocktail hour…but. ..most days find me reconnecting with old friends and meeting new ones…and so the party begins…therefore, my typical day ends with me writing blog entries after my brain has been sufficiently assaulted with perfectly paced, but oh too many alcoholic beverages.

I’ve been here two days and already I’ve shoved a week’s worth of experiences and activities in such a small space…it’s what can happen when you make friends and enjoy their company…so kiddos, today’s lesson…travel…smile…and make  as many friends as you can as this is the essence of life.

It’s morning…on a Wednesday and the rain  has let up. It was a restless night…the winds and rain coming off the Caribbean were brutal and a multitude of unsecured items swirled and flapped outside.

Grey daylight peeks through the windows…I could sure use some sunshine to get started on my annual tan, but until that happens I’ll occupy myself with other activities…my phone chirps…it’s a text from Penny. “Wake up! Let’s  go to Cancun.”

She and Ryan, (Her solo guitarist who relocated here two years ago from SoCal and plays at her locations) decided to spend the day shopping for new ambiance and entertainment trinkets for the new “El patio” grand opening in a week…wait. ..a week? Look at these pics…do you see a restaurant opening? In a week?

Yeah. Me neither…but then again I helped Penny open El patio 2 years ago…and the same thing happened…this woman flat out gets shit done.

Isla is slowly “falling victim” to progress. The previous ferry terminal was original, small and germane to Isla. The new one is, well, gawdy, monolithic, cold and feels like Cancun.

We started the day with a nice ferry ride over under a cool cloudy sky…and, well, since it IS Mexico, it’s time for the obligatory death race in a Mexican cab. Right after acquiring the required amount of liquid courage of course.

Our next stop was “Electronica Gonzalez”. This place is a musicians and DJ’s wet dream. High end toys for beats that satisfy.

Here are a few of the items I thought Penny should consider adding to her restaurants and lounges…

She did not share my excitement for them.

Once this task was completed, the brain trust was hungry. I have an amigo, David Wanamaker, whom I met on Isla at the grand opening of Isla 33 a few years ago. He teaches people how to “SUP”.

No, not as in, “Sup dude?”

Stand Up Paddleboarding.

He lives and owns a shop in Cancun and I had seen him post some pics on Facebook of him eating some outrageous food at a place next door to him called, “The Surfin’ Burrito”.

Our Mexican NASCAR driver knew the place.

On a drive in which I can only describe as “Mad Max-ish”, we arrive, intact.

The food here is awesome. Ordering is similar to how you order sushi at a sushi restaurant. You are handed a sheet of paper and then ”build” your burrito from an array of choices to stuff into it…including the type of tortilla you want!

Here lies one of the great perks of traveling…the food, the people and the experiences you create, are for a lifetime.

We entertained the owners of the Surfin’ Burrito and four guests who decided to try it as well. Two traveling ladies from New York City, AND P Diddy! (Well, maybe just a similar facsimile thereof.)

A while later, David shows up with his girlfriend, sits down with a bucket of iced down Corona’s and well, now it’s a party.

For some difficult reason, this pic does not want to line up correctly…fail.

 

Ryan, P, and, Yours truly…

 

David’s shop…right next to the Surfin’ Burrito…

So, what next?

Penny wants to see a movie…Ryan needs to get back Isla to let his dog out…I get it.

Penny hands him some cab fare pesos, and we get out at the mall in seek of a movie…in a theater that serves crafted food and…liquor!

It’s Halloween season, so I want to be scared; even more than the days cab rides, but nope. Penny ain’t having ANY of that. No matter how I bribe, plead or cajole, it’s not happening.

So, she takes me to a place I thought, was a bar. It was. Sort of. It was actually more of a casino. A rather dull one at that.

She wants to have a few cocktails and try her luck.

I’m not much, hell, I’m not ANY kind of a gambler in a casino, but, cheap cocktails and another shot at some good food? What the hell, I’m in.

She plays a bit, but the love isn’t paying her back, so it’s off to another. Apparently there are four casinos here, and we’re going to visit at least two of them tonight.

This one is much better to her…although I can’t fully describe her gaming style as she claims it’s a “trade secret”…what I can tell you, is that it’s very entertaining to watch.

She’s on a roll…she LOVES the video gambling games…casinos in Cancun contain a lot of the games Penny likes in glassed enclosures, sort of like a human fish bowl, mostly to accommodate smokers. I retreated to a cozy table outside the cancer filled, money-sucking circus and instructed our server “Eduardo” to keep me happy with Cuba Libre’s and miss Penny, with wine…he’s an excellent employee worthy of a bonus tonight.

Think about it…wherever you are…wouldn’t it be way more fun to be gambling with an unlimited supply of cocktails in a casino in Cancun? Hell, I’m from Vegas and I like that bet.

Amply buzzed after losing count of how many cold sparkling adult beverages passed my lips and Penny making some cashola, it’s time to get ourselves to Puerto Juarez to catch the last ferry for the night…as I exit the cab trying to remember how to get into the house, I can hear Penny laughing as they drive away.

Tomorrow is another day and on Isla, I’m sure loaded with new adventures. G’night peeps.

Seeking out “The Joint”.

No. Not the “Cheech and Chong” variety – the actual bar named, “The Joint”.

My friend Penny Deming owns it. As past readers of this blog may recall, I met Penny at its grand opening a few years back.

Perfect opportunity to test out the new bike.

After 24 hours of travel and partying, I was the beneficiary of a not often found solid night of sleep. I peel open the sun-blocking curtains and Hmmmm…looks like it rained last night. My brand new bike’s gonna get all wet.

I’m renting a cool pad mid-island,offering all the comforts of home complete with an unobstructed view of the Caribbean.

It’s cloudy looking out towards Cuba. But it looks like it will hold off for my ride.

GPS. Wish I had it now.

When reaching a fork in the road, as sometimes in life, we are often faced with two choices. You’ve got a 50/50 shot of making the right choice in order for you to arrive at your final destination. Get it right, and it can be smooth sailing; get it wrong and, well, a TON of shit can happen.

Today, I got each choice…wrong. Turned right when I should have turned left. Turned left when I should have turned right. Went too far, but not far enough. “How far do I go?” “Was it this way, or that way?” “Do I turn around? Or continue on?” “What’s THAT road to?”

I hear thunder. Not like, “Out there. Waaay out there over the ocean.”

Over my head.

Following my every wrong move.

Taunting me…”Louie…..we’re so full of rain up here we just can’t hold it a second longer.”

Then…Boom.

It comes.

Oh, but we can’t have just rain…we’ve got to have some more fun.

How about… a 40 mph side draft…

And some man hole sized pot holes filled with rain…and speeding taxis…and, and, wait for it…on the entire island, there are only a few places where these exist, and of course, today, I get to learn of this fact…STEEP INCLINES.

I brought my Samsung S4 phone with me this trip as it’s unlocked and I have an unlimited, international texting plan on it.

I texted my GPS.

I call her, “Penny”.

After she finished “text laughing” at me, she cheerfully guided me…

“No. Too far.”

“Nope. Not far enough.”

“Uh uh. Wrong road.”

“Want me to come get you Louie?”

With each puff of oxygen I ingest, I tell myself, “Ponce De Leon? Columbus? Pedro de Alvarado?”

These were great Spanish conquistadors who sailed across the sea on nothing but guts, a compass and dysentery.

I’ve got a brand new bike, a 4G LTE cell phone, and I’m sure some sort of intestinal fun is in the works, and I can’t even navigate around a small island which, at its’ widest point, doesn’t even span a mile!

After trying to dodge the rain, (Yeah, right), at some point, you just give in to all the obstacles and distractions, the locals laughing at the once again passing gringo, and just roll with it. It’s just rain.

I finally arrive to a chuckling Penny who invites me in and makes me a nice hot cup of fresh coffee…

Thank you Penny.

For not laughing too loudly at me.

Life is sometimes like that.

You have a great plan for achieving your goals.

You start out on a nice clear day, then “It” happens.

You are now faced with some choices. Which ones you choose will determine how and when you reach your goal.

Learn to deal with the obstacles thrown at you and realize, the universe it doing “it”.

Your commitment to your goals is being tested.

You can choose to give in to the obstacles, or you can choose to get past them.

Either way. It’s your choice.

Arrival in Cancun.

I have to say this…customs and immigration in Cancun is always a downer. The immigration agents have a little bit of power, what with their “entry approval” stamp slamming loudly on your passport. I think they all watched the Seinfeld episode about “The Soup Nazi”.

But, this time, it was different. Pleasant is the word I choose to describe my agent, “Elena”. Thirty seconds at most and I was off to collect my luggage then labor in the line for customs.

Ah customs. In Mexico. This is where it gets, funny?

You drag your luggage from the carousel, get in line with everyone from your flight and any others that just landed, then walk up to the 16 year old agent who asks you where you were born and if you have anything to declare.

Simple.

Now it becomes a game show.

If you were not born in the US, you get waved off into “secondary”, where you get to unpack your luggage in front of a customs agent and everyone passing by, for inspection.

However, if you WERE born in the US, you get to stay, and when the agent instructs you, push a little red button on a panel next to him…(I didn’t test taking a photo of it because, well, you know, my luck with authority and all.)

It’s at this point where, for some reason, people nearly wet themselves because they’re freaking out about the result of pushing “el botón”. Almost as if it were that turban wearing Sultan in the glass box at a carnival who can guess your future.

Once pushed, you either get a “green” or “red” light.

As we all know what those two universal colors mean…so, step up and “Push that button!”

You get red and you get to “Step on over here and let’s see whatcha got in there.”

I push. I get green. I get my paperwork back and he waves me off.

I have a favorite driver who works in Cancun. My friend Sid Morris introduced me to him many years ago and, like everyone who knows him, becomes his amigo. He’s nails.

This, is William. He’s a Mexican “Magyver”…and mi amigo.

This year, I’ve decided to do something a little different with regards to transportation on the island. Beach bike. My own.

No. I’m not schlepping one across the USA. I’m buying one at the WalMart in Cancun, then, schlepping it, my carry on, my laptop bag and my over-weight limit suitcase on the ferry to Isla. It’ll be perfect for daytime, non-rainy day transportation to Playa Norte, Centro and just about anywhere else great food and copious amounts of liquor can be found. At night, well, taxi’s are plentiful and I suspect a lot safer.

Once my trip is concluded, I’ve located a deserving recipient to give it to.

This will be my first time crossing the Caribbean Sea under the cloak of darkness. By the time I arrived at the ferry terminal, I was minutes away from the 8:30 departure.

By the way, missing your departure is no longer such a bummer as there is a new bar named “Baja” that will be happy to entertain and relieve you of your new-found pesos until the next one arrives.

 

It’s beginning to rain. I’m debating upper or lower deck for the ride over.

Hell. It’s only water.

Only two of us brave the rain-soaked webbed seats.

This is where a little “life reflection” enters.

Ordinarily, the ride over can be incredibly romantic and fun as you begin to feel the vibe of where you are. The open sea, cool salt air, warm rays of sunshine preparing you for an awesome stay…it’s romantic if you’re with the right person to share it with.

Under the night, it’s even more so. Ultra Mar has installed cobalt blue accent lights on each of her sides which cast a cascade of light accenting up the clearness and shallow depth of the water.

Seeing little Isla in the distance puts her size into perspective. The island lights twinkle punctuated by the blinking lighthouse beacon.

Soon, you will be arriving at the port and disembark onto a piece of earth which will captivate and hold you in her care.

To do this with someone you care for and love, is perhaps one of the greatest gifts you can ever share.

Share it wisely.