The Last Meal…

That’s right. The saddest day. For anyone leaving Isla. We arrive with so many days ahead of us, we forget so many things we wanted to do, people to see, places to visit. And on the last day, we freak out. At least I do.

It’s a lesson in life I need to continue to learn; DO, LIVE, in the moment, for I may not have another.

The moment for me on this morning is…breakfast.

Gabriel the cabbie picked me up on a rainy morning and I asked him to take me to Mango for my “last supper”.

When he dropped me off at the ferry terminal, I was an hour early, so, I managed to relax and enjoy the Pan Francais in relative obscurity. I don’t remember it ever tasting this delicious. But, then again, the last of anything always tastes the best doesn’t it?

Fire! Fire!

Oh man…THIS one is classic!

Penny and I were at Sam’s Club in Cancun, and I just couldn’t resist.

I’ve never actually seen this form of fire suppression, but, well take a look.

Instead of ”break glass in case of fire” to which you would grab a fire extinguisher then run screaming through the store to extinguish any flames apparent… nah, you get to break the glass, then GET DRESSED to FIGHT THE FIRE with an axe or shovel! (BTW, I didn’t see a fire extinguisher in the compartment, so…)

Turning roosters into hens…

Volunteering is ALWAYS a great idea…

And my choice this year was for Isla Animals. I’m an animal LOVER, so it was a no brainer. I started months before my trip by creating a unique vinyl sticker dedicated towards Islaholics and their purchase of them would directly benefit the clinic on Isla.

Here’s the sticker.

And here are the names of the generous donors who participated by their purchase. (Please forgive any mis-spelled names.)

Matthew Garrity
Theresa Gebber
Tracey Gazdik
Lisa Bassett
John Pasnau
Robert O’Hare
Dawn Baxter
Roanne Edmundson
Judith Arnold
BizTech, LLC
Linda Weiss
Terri Huffstetler
David Ross
Deborah Mason
Angelique Carslile
Connie Harris
Brad Peek
Wesley Montemayor
Jon Knight
Kelly Johnston
Paula Ruetz
Amy Moe
Sid Morris
Jill Johnston-Murphy
Penny Deming
James Marias
Dave Rhinehart
Scott Vogt
Eileen Regn

I have owned “pound puppies” all my life. I get it.

All of them have been chipped and neutered. Typically, you take your pup to the vet, drop him or her off, come back later in the day and thanks to the magic of time lapse, your pup is now safe and you can rest assured you have done the responsible thing.

In Mexico, the process is the same, however, you become much, MUCH more involved in the well-being and caring for all animals needing attention. Ever seen the TV series, “M*A*S*H*”?

So, being weak-stomached in matters of health, well, more specifically, blood, after introducing myself to Alison Sawyer, Dr. Jonas from Canada and Dr. Arturo from Cancun, I laid back and observed for a bit. I figured, “Hey, I can bathe ANY dog, so that’s what I’ll so. Yeah.”

Several volunteers were a lot closer over the surgical table and saw me, well, standing there, doing nothing. So, I became the volunteer photographer. Of them, assisting. Which meant, getting closer to the procedure.

Awkward. How is it going to look when an American volunteer passes out on the floor while vets are performing procedures inches away? Would they merely grab my legs and drag me into “recovery” with the other ball less dogs? Step over and around me while performing their task? Or throw water on me AFTER drawing with sharpies all over my face?

Suck it up.

I didn’t pass out!

I hung in there!

I actually moved closer, like a timid street puppy, to see the actual procedure.

Just when I was able to keep breakfast down, I heard someone ask for help in recovery.

Here’s where I met the “recovery king”, Bundy. Who, coincidentally, is the “Bundy” of “Trina and Bundy” of CARM.

This guy knows his stuff.

He taught me how to care for an animal during this short window of anesthesia.

Ticks. Ticks, TICKS. Everywhere. Clean the ears, check the gums, extubate them. Remove the catheter. Clean the new wound.

I’ve never seen animal come out of anesthesia. It’s…awkward to watch as each animal awakens differently…some “head nod”, while others lift their heads repeatedly in a motion which appears as if they are actually looking in the direction of where their um, manhood once was.

After they are reviewed and appear semi-conscious, they are taken to an area where volunteers or even their owners can sit with and love on them to ease them back to reality. Shortly after that, they are sent home with any necessary meds and printed instructions in the event any additional attention is needed.

Mango café provided lunch and nearly 12 hours later, more than 25 animals had been cared for. The goal for the week is 30 per day.

It’s a long day and laborious task that needs to occur more often as the results are clearly benefitting the animals, their owners, and the island which we all know and love so much.

My challenge to all reading this is, DO SOMETHING besides simply enjoy your vacation. Give back. Make a difference. There are plenty of opportunities for everyone to make an impact. It matters not where you live, it only matters that you do.

Thank you Isla Animals.

 

The wheels on the bus…

Oh yeahhhhh…they do go ’round and ’round.

So, Penny, Sweet Pea, Rachel, Amanda and I have been chasing the party bus for like, DAYS. You remember the party bus. It was cruising past my place a few nights ago and I chased it but he never stop for me. I figured it out with a little help from my friends.

Sweet Pea coordinated the outing but FIRST, we drink! At Soggy Peso. Have you ever been to this place? I have. It’s a hangout very popular with many gringos and industry employees.

Penny was in a hurry to get to El Patio, so she dropped me off at the Peso where the party had already started! I mean, COME ON! Nobody waited for me…I know…it’s not always ABOUT. ME.

So, order up some drinks and catch up…

And like a shot from a cannon Sweet Pea (Penny’s General Manager at The Joint), blasts us out of the Peso to the pick up point for the party bus. Oh yeah. “The Bus.”

Have you seen this thing?

It’s…Frankenstein on wheels.

With a 20 million watt sound system and 3 gazillion blinking LED lights.

You don’t have fin on this thing, GTFO of LIFE.

BUT, before we can board, Sweet Pea needs to make a “candy run”. And we also need mas tequila. Or at least…some tequila.

WTF?

A 5 pound bag of hard candy that WE, get to THROW at people as we pass by…and they LOVE IT!

Even Policia Municipal waits for the flying cavities.

So, of course, we GOTTA sit up front, up top. because, YOLO.

This bus fires up like a ’68 Chevy Camaro with a muffler disease and we are off.

We’re going to cruise the entire island.

And throw candy. And drink. And party like it’s 1999!

Oh. That last part was lame.  But the rest, was definitely not.

If you can always remember and never forget the fun you had when you were a kid and repeat it every day, I think you’ll agree living can be so much more “worth it”.

Take a vacation. Let yourself be a kid again. Forget about whatever anyone might say or think…this is the ONLY life each of us gets. And I’m not wasting mine.

Grab a camera and have some fun learning about Mexico and..Isla.

Try it.

LOOK at things differently…once you start doing so, you’ll start laughing more, then appreciating the beautiful simplistic life afforded here. It may also help you appreciate what you do have “back home”. This then, is the essence of Isla’s magic.

A party is where you make it and whom you make it with.

The chico is carrying home lunch…

8th tee box…for Texans.

I don’t even have the words…(You can find THIS and SO much more at “The Crazy Store.”) It’s totally worth the trip!

The “official greeter” when you exit the ferry terminal.

Uh, the “rotation issue” again…anyway, read closely the “Horarios”…everything here is on “MST”.

In the end, there are few things that really matter…one, is that you do.

Simple lunch quest turned “un” simple?

OK…We’re on the cusp of “high season” here on isla.

I’ve not been here during this season so it’s all new to me.

What I do know is lunch can be a bit of a challenge…at least finding a place to get it can be…

Remembering what days, what times each of your fav’s or the ones you want to try are open. Even then, like red stop signs, signals and children wearing helmets on motos, I find that information is more of a suggestion of when they’ll be open.

I wanted to try the burger at BoBo’s…have been trying for a few day now…Sid and I drove by it last night…CLOSED. BUT, open Wednesday at 11:00 am…perfect…lunch tomorrow is set.

I’ll even give them an hour grace period…I hop on the bike and hoof it to BoBo’s at noon…guess what…CLOSED.

Time to grab a coldie and go cool down on the beach and create Plan “B”.

Relaxing on a super soft, beautiful beach with bright blue skies, cool breezes, the sun on your face and Mexico’s gift of cerveza…does not suck.

My beer, on an empty stomach, is finished and plan “B” has arrived.

I’d like a slice, some knots and…another icy cold one for my efforts. Oscars.

Pedal, pedal, pedal.

I grab a seat on those gigantic seats carved from tree bases and request my favorite, Sol.

I look at the menu…panic just grabbed the empty seat next to me and smiles.

I motion the waitress over.

I ask her about what I’d like…she sheepishly points at the upper left hand corner of the menu…”Abierto 5 pm to 11 pm.”

I mumbled something that starts with an “F” and ends with a “K”.

“Firetruck.”

Finish the beer, kick panic in the nuts and hop back on the seat and pedal…need a Plan “C”.

I remembered a Facebook posting for a restaurant I passed a few miles back. It opened last year right after we left. I noticed the windows were open when I pedaled past, so, it becomes my new, and last hope before scrapping the whole idea until dinner.

“Please. Please. Please be open”, wails my stomach.

I step in.

I ask the server if she’s open.

She looks at the clock over our head. It reads 2:10.

She smiles and says, “yes”.

As do I.

I ordered the Arracherra burrito with corn plates.

They make these little desert sized plates from masa, fry them, and serve your beans and rice in them. The beans are the BEST I have ever eaten. “Why?” You ask?

They are infused with the perfect amount of shredded pork. Not so much as to cause un-necessary chewing, but just enough to let you know, “Surprise!”

Once you consume the rice and beans, you can eat the plates!

And they are delicious.

The burrito was very tasty as well. Crisp lettuce, just enough juicy steak, slices of soft Mexican cheese, rolled up then toasted.

It looks like this.

The ONLY thing I would suggest, and it’s just me, is. I feel the presentation lacks some…pizzazz…Perhaps some sprinkling of a red and green garnish would break up the brilliant white quite nice…just an after thought that takes nothing away from the deliciousness at all.

 

Some interesting observations in, and about Merida.

Again…a picture says a thousand words, so with little commentary, I will let those I took that I found amusing or interesting show, rather than tell.

I find great pleasure in “getting lost”. Meaning, instead of flip-flops, it’s Nike running shoes. Then I simply pick a random direction and walk…until the streets are no longer brick pavers, few, if any street signs exist to tell me where I am, I can no longer hear the heart-pulsing thump of street music and the scenery…changes.

If you think about this, it will be a “light bulb” moment for you.

Take the city you live in now.

Go to the center of it; that’s usually the area for tourism. Look around, listen.

Now, start walking until the things you saw and heard, disappear.

You are most likely now in a neighborhood where the people who work in tourism, et al, live.

This my friends is where you’ll actually be able to experience the culture of the city; IMHO, the culture of any city, lies in its occupants.

It’s a very old but cosmopolitan and progressive, pro-citizen city. She feels very much like her far away younger cousin, New York City. With similar named streets all going one way, then another to horse drawn carriages in central park to live theater. She’s almost like a Las Vegas casino in that, once you’re in, you’re going to find it difficult to get out.

But, hey, if you’re having a great time, why think about leaving at all.

All in all, I loved Merida. I will visit again and this time, lengthen my stay.

(Again, despite of uploading pics in the proper format and position, WordPress has a current glich…sorry.)

USA knows these as “Foot Lockers”.

“Uh, dude, you’re chicken, is hanging out.”

If you need a job, they post them at the government center mall.

April 14. Can someone PLEASE get me this for my birthday?

Yup. He’s cleaning the streets.

Look closely…at his chair. It’s an office chair…guess that means he’s open for business.

Even Mexico rushes the holidays…

THIS, is why there is a high season on Isla.

Medical center…check out the prices for some of the services…

I know it’s difficult to gauge their size in a pic, but, they are the size of a Nerf football!

Globally, Merida is a top producer of Hammocks.

I saw the BIGGEST selection of cookware and SIZES of it all in this one, singular location.

Again. Look closely. THOSE black “dots”, are bees. INSIDE the case!

He has NO ARMS. He drives with components of his face.

Typical Meztizan woman.

In the park? Need power? No problem…

All the power outlets in the usual places full? No problem amigo! We fix it for you!

WiFi is free for public use.

In every corner of the square, you’ll find shoe shine stops…people in Merida have very shiny shoes.

Old meets new.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday night in Merida…

Is like, EDC (Electric Daisy Carnival) Mexicana style.

Select, entire streets in centro are barricaded allowing bars and restaurants to double even triple, their capacity. They simply spill out into the street in front of their place with tables and chairs and voila! THEN, it gets interesting…every bar hires musicians…at first, you’ll be chillin’ when the group at your place begins, then you hear another behind you, then another to the left and before you know it, you’ve got to get up and sample them all.

Before I got to get my flip-flop groove on, I stepped into the cathedral on my way, and discovered there was a wedding ceremony in progress. Since the place didn’t fall down around me, I decided to take a seat and enjoy it.

 

Dinner in Merida.

When I was in the maze of driving looking for my hotel, I passed a restaurant/bar called “Amaro’s”. It looked really cool and Cuban.

It just so happens to be down the street so I head over.

I’m not very hungry, but I could use a drink. I walk in and am greeted then seated.

I read the menu, but the interesting part is on the back page.

It tells the story of where we are actually at. We are in the original home built and live in by Don Andres Quintana Roo. That’s right! THE name now has a face.

I ask the waiter if what I am reading is true and he affirms. He motions, “Uno momentito”. And scurries away. When he returns, he hands me a tourist magazine opened to the page telling the story.

I order a simple Caprese and two Cubre Libre’s and start reading.

I’m steeped in history a lot deeper than I realized.

 

 

Off to Merida! Otherwise known as, “Driving in Mexico 101.”

I’ve heard a lot of stories about how fabulous this 19th century is. Steeped in culture, history and modern enough to please even the most discerning foreign traveler. So much so, many have made Merida their permanent home.

Here we come to the driving part, again. It’s such an anomaly in my mind. Adhering to the universal color red, as in octagonal “Alto” signs, or traffic signals, doesn’t appear to be mandatory. Rather, it’s more of a, suggestion.

That fact alone will best serve you to never forget, even when you clearly have the right of way.

Getting from Holbox to Merida Cuota was easy. Just a reverse of what I did to get here in the first place. Since I do have to pass through Valladolid, I’m going to make a quick stop for lunch at Cenote Xkeken, just outside the city limits. Jill and I visited the cenote last year and she fell in love with the family that sets up a lunch stand just outside the entrance of it. As you stroll to the entrance to the cenote, they melodically pitch lunch to you…”Pok Chuk Maya amigos.”

I was happy to be once again greeted by the father, “Edgar”, who when asked, did not remember me. I didn’t think he would. I have just the thing to jar his memory. I told him I would be right back. I huffed it back to the car and retrieved my laptop.

I returned and set it up on a table and turned it on. While it booted up, a small crowd gathered around us as if they had just been introduced to fire.

Once booted, I opened my photo albums and selected the one I needed. Once the photos started loading, it was pure Christmas. Seeing themselves with us on a piece of technology I doubt they will ever have, blew their minds. At once, I was back in the family, and their beaming smiles and giggles of delight made for an awesome welcoming.

Time for some of that outrageous pok chuk, some salsa, corn tortillas made right before my eyes and a spicy black bean soup that let’s you know who’s boss.

Between m our rudimentary exchange of Spanglish, once they discovered I was on my way to Merida, but made this specific stop for lunch, you’d think I just returned their lost puppy.

It is those simple acknowledgements of gratitude which I have forgotten in my daily life, and I believe the big guy upstairs knows that which is why I was sent their once again. He used them to remind me of what I was taught, but had forgotten. Gracias Edgar.

Next up…the road to Merida.