Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Miguel's Next Step

For the last 5 years, Miguel has been mostly busy with building additions and apartments. In between he had Hurricane Wilma and the massive clean-up, a broken ankle that required surgery, and electrical burns to 30% of his body that required 15 days of hospitalization and months of recuperation and healing.

Miguel holds down the fort here when I am required to travel, and that is not insignificant now that we have such a menagerie of animals. He is also very involved in the upkeep of the gardens over at the apartments, resulting in massive bunches of bananas, fragrant jasmine, or plants for reproduction. Of course, when anything needs fixing here or there, Miguel is the guy to fix it.

Now that things have slowed down on the construction/renovation front, Miguel is able to pursue a business in Property Management here on the island. Several of our guests have been telling us that he should be working in this area, but it was never the right time.

But now the time is right, and so, we are proud to announce Capi's Property Management

Miguel will offer his services to people needing the simplest thing (maybe someone watching their home while they go away on vacation) to the complete package of services (home, pool, gardens). Price lists are customized based on need and size of property.

Good luck, Miguel!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Cooped up too long

Thanks to Tropical Storm Alex, which didn't even come close to us, we've been experiencing windy and rainy conditions since Friday evening. We are getting the outer bands of the storm, which means periods of stillness when you think it's over, and then bursts of gusts and howling wind and blowing rain, when you know it's not.

Our guests have been trying to have an anniversary dinner on the beach since Thursday but have had to postpone due to bad weather. At least it's not cold, and the heat and humidity has eased. They still have tomorrow night, fingers crossed for them.

And fingers crossed for the cats too, as they are not used to being inside for so long, and they're driving each other and us crazy with their spats and their restlessness. Minina, the smallest little adult cat I've ever had, is full of pent-up energy and prowls from doors to windows to check on the outdoors. She is also now adept at banging on the folding accordion door leading to upstairs until she unfolds it enough to slip through. Once she is through, it's only a matter of time before Luna, Maya, and Smokey follow. Not that there is really anything of interest up there, I think they just want to go up there because they know I don't want them to. Or they are hoping our bedroom door will be open and they can play or sleep in there.

With guests upstairs, possibly napping, I can't go barging up after the cats, nor can I yell at them to get back downstairs. All I can do is whisper their name and hope they are curious enough to come down and stand close enough so I can grab them. But they are always ready for the grab, and have a good technique going - they back up at the last second and race back up the staircase. They go just out of reach and then peer at me through the railings, taunting me because they know I can't catch them.

Last night I got up in the middle of the night and saw that the door had been pushed open. I didn't know how many cats had gone upstairs, and since there was nothing much I could do, I just left the door open and by morning all but Smokey were back down. We need to figure out some way to latch the door so it can be opened by humans on either side but not by cats. Right now the big water jug is acting as a door stop. I really am looking forward to better weather so I can just push all the cats out onto the back terrace. Maybe tomorrow.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

We should have known better

Yesterday was one of those days where it looked like it could rain, and then it cleared. All day long. So when it came to going out to pick up Milagro's pizza around 6 pm, Loco and I were ready.

The skies to the east were black, and as soon as we hit the main road, I felt a few spits of rain. As we drove, the sky got even blacker, but I thought we might outrun it because to the north it didn't look that bad (and that's the direction we were going).

We pulled into the parking area at Milagro's and I went in, leaving Miguel and Loco sitting on the golf cart. As soon as I'd placed our order, the wind kicked up and the rain came down hard. The guys inside the restaurant put up the doors to close off the open balcony and stop the wind from blowing the rain into the take-out area. I looked outside and Miguel had moved over to my side of the cart.

The wind and rain came harder, and Miguel was now trying to keep dry with a bath towel he'd had on the seat. Loco's face stared at me, he was soaked and miserable. Loco hates water.

And then there was thunder, and as much as Loco hates water, he hates thunder more. In fact, it terrifies him so much that he gets the shakes. But there was nothing I could do for either of them, they just sat there and got soaked. Once you're soaked, you really can't get more soaked. You just get cold.

Finally the food was ready and I tried to decide if I should seek shelter under the eaves where a dozen other people had abandoned their mopeds to get out of the wind and rain. I found a little space behind the water jugs, which protected me from the blowing rain but not from the roof run-off. Quickly I was as soaked as everyone else. I kept looking at the huge garage at Milagro's, and gestured to Miguel to go inside, but he declined. I was tired of rain pouring over me like a shower, so I went into the garage. Why nobody else thought to do that I don't know, because it was perfectly dry in there and there was plenty of room for everyone. Maybe they felt they would be trespassing, Mexicans are very conscious about trodding on private property. Somehow I didn't think the owners would mind.

There is a point in this type of storm where you know you have a window of opportunity to clear out. The wind died down and the rain slowed down. Quickly I joined Miguel and Loco, and we emptied Miguel's pockets into my purse, which was soaked on the outside but seems to be water-resistant inside. Off we went, encountering huge puddles in the road that forced us to drive slowly so the engine wouldn't get wet and stall. And as predicted, the rain stopped and we made it home without more soaking, not that it would have mattered, we couldn't be any wetter. We should have known better than to go out with those black skies.

Poor Loco was a sight, and he didn't appreciate having to stay on the front porch to dry off. After we finished our pizza I took him a small piece, but he was so miserable he didn't even want it. He just wanted to come in the house, and so I gave in. He didn't smell very good, but after he dried off he was fine.

While we were out the cats were all on the back terrace, but the shed was open so they were able to find shelter. When I opened the back door they all came running in, slipping and sliding on the floor as they scurried through the kitchen. It was the kind of evening where you give up keeping the floor clean and dry.

The laundry on the line was soaked, and another downpour around midnight gave it a third rinse. At 5 am I heard the wind start to howl again, and I thought that meant more rain, so I got up and brought in all the wet laundry and put it on a rack in the dining room, with the fan on full. It is still there, still damp.

All day we will be experiencing the outer bands of Tropical Storm Alex. Not a good day for the beach, not a good day to do laundry, not a good day for tourists. But the heat and humidity have gone, bringing a welcome relief to those of us who live here. There is a lovely breeze and for once I'm not sweating.

It's Saturday, the dishes are done and the floors are clean. I think it's nap time.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tricky Coffee

Miguel has a wonderful habit of preparing the coffee maker in advance; all we have to do when we are ready for our morning or evening cup of coffee, is 'push the button'.

This morning I checked the coffee maker and noticed that Miguel had it all ready to go. I pushed the button and went about the morning routine of taking out the garbage and sweeping up the back terrace. When I went into the kitchen all set to pour the coffee, I saw that nothing had happened. It was unplugged.

Why was it unplugged? Because the light doesn't work any more, and more than once we've forgotten to turn off the machine and we've wasted hours of electricity. Miguel's solution is to unplug it, that way there is no doubt that the coffee maker is really 'off'.

So I plugged in the coffee maker and found something else to do while waiting for the coffee to brew. Miguel was in the kitchen starting to make his red sauce, so I helped clean the tomatoes. He reached for something in the dish drainer and a bunch of things fell and crashed into each other, making a lot more noise than we really wanted to make at 6:30 in the morning. As I helped Miguel extract himself from the sliding dishes, I took out the coffee mugs and set them on the counter.

After finishing with the tomatoes I went to the coffee maker but was surprised to find the level showed only 1 cup of coffee. I looked in the back and it was dry, and there was no water/coffee leaking out of the coffee maker. Where had the liquid gone? Where did 5 cups of liquid disappear to?

Miguel didn't know, I didn't know, so we just shrugged our shoulders and I put 6 more cups of liquid in the coffee maker and 'pushed the button'. The coffee maker started its gurgling noises, and I walked away. I walked over to the counter where the coffee mugs were sitting, and they were both full of black coffee.

Ok, who poured that coffee? I certainly don't remember doing it, and Miguel denies that he did it. It does explain where the liquid had gone, someone had poured it already. But who? I think Miguel did it and doesn't remember, and he thinks I did it and don't remember.

The only clue pointing to me is that the level was a bit higher than Miguel normally pours the coffee. The level was at the level where I pour the coffee. But I still don't think I did it.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


Exactly one week ago I was on my way to my aunt's house loaded with potato salad and strawberry shortcake for nine people. Everyone brought something and we feasted on bbq'd beef tenderloin, fresh asparagus, caesar salad, tomato/cucumber salad, and potato salad. Yum! It was a nice family day.

Today I am again making potato salad - but just for two. Pasta salad, tomato/cucumber salad, and breaded chicken to go with the potato salad. Due to the heat all six animals are inside. Miguel is watching soccer, and I've been in and out of the pool. It's our Mexico "family" day.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Border Crossings

I grew up in a border town - Niagara Falls, Ontario. Crossing over to the US was something we took for granted. We either hopped in the car and drove over to shop or go to a special restaurant, or we played tourist and walked across the Rainbow Bridge, stopping half-way to plant one foot in Canada and one in the US while we gazed at the view of the Falls from the bridge.

The Rainbow Bridge has been closed to truck traffic for a few years, so it's the best bridge to use to avoid getting stuck in a long line of trucks that one might encounter at the other bridges. However, in summer, the bridge can be backed up, sometimes for miles - always good to plan on a delay and be surprised when the coast is clear. On Thursday we were lucky, the traffic was very light - no line-up. Had I known there is now a webcam on the bridge, I might have checked the situation before leaving the house. Next time!

Working for many years in the US, I crossed the border every week. I presented my passport and work documents, and was quickly on my way. The US immigration officers at the bridges are used to people crossing for work, the only question I usually got asked was what did I have with me other than lunch?

In later years, the questions became focused on who I worked for, where I was headed, and what I would be doing while in the US. Easy questions to answer - just tell the truth. When I started traveling to the US for work from Cancun, it was harder - officers at the airports were not as used to people coming in to work, and they often questioned why I had the original work document (which clearly stated 'multiple entry') - some wanted to take the document away from me, so I was always a little nervous when entering the US by air. Luckily I was always able to explain the situation to them where it seemed to make sense to them, and they allowed me to enter with my documentation intact.

Now I am simply traveling between the three NAFTA partners as a tourist, but sometimes I get asked more questions than I did when I was coming in for work. When crossing on Thursday, on my way to the airport, the officer wanted to know what I was bringing into the US. As always, I said 'nothing', because I was not leaving anything there. He said that he still wanted to know what I had because I was coming onto US soil and it didn't matter if I was leaving anything or not. So I started to tell him, but he quickly got bored as I stumbled over the a/c testing unit - couldn't decide it if was an instrument or tool, called it both. That's all he wanted to know, along with how I'd met Miguel, and where, and how long we'd been together, and if he was Mexican. Just tell the truth is my motto, there's nothing to hide even if the questions seem redundant.

On the other end, at the airport in Cancun, I was a little more worried about dealing with customs. I had receipts for everything new and I was under the $300 US limit, but I also had a tiny tv that was 8 or 9 years old. The tv is in good shape and I would hate to have it taken from me just because I could not prove that it was old and not worth much. Now that they scan every bag (not just suitcases, they scan carry-on and purses too), I figured they would question the contents of my bags.

Sure enough, as I approached the red light/green light, the woman watching the xrays called over to alert the guy manning the light button that I had something electronic in one of the bags - she wasn't sure what, maybe a laptop (I love that I can understand Spanish). The agent took my form and asked me if I spoke Spanish, and when I said yes, he asked if I'd read the customs form and understood what it said.

Yes, I'd read the form and yes, I understand (I think) what I can and cannot bring into Mexico. Once he had my confirmation that I'd understood what I'd signed, he sent me over to the table to open up two of my bags. The first was the one with my laptop, and the second was the one with the tv. Once the guy saw the tv and I told him it was used, he wasn't interested in checking anything else in my bags. I was free to go. And even though I knew I should be ok with what I was bringing in, I was relieved - you just never know when someone is going to decide to give you a hard time. But honestly, I've found the agents in Mexico to be very helpful - even when they took away my Jerky treats for Loco, they did it nicely and explained why, and that I could buy them in Walmart or next time make sure I brought chicken or pork, never beef.

Immigration and Customs agents in the US at the airports are almost always nicer than those at the border crossings - there are exceptions, of course. But often they want to be helpful, especially when I explain the situation about Miguel needing a visa just to transit through an airport and how difficult that makes it for us to travel together on the cheaper airfares. "Just get him a tourist visa and it will be good for 10 years and you won't have to worry about it", one officer recently advised.

So I think we'll start working on the US transit visa for Miguel. It means a trip to Merida to personally speak with US Immigration, which is a cost and time investment that hopefully will be worthwhile.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The end of another week in Canada

As usual, my time is up before I accomplished everything I'd hoped. Seems something always comes up, this time it was the accident with the deer. Monday was a loss, and this afternoon I'm waiting for a call from the insurance company to find out what they have decided to do about my car. If the repair is going to be too high, they are going to write it off and 'make me an offer'. Hmmm...somehow I don't think the offer is going to make up for the loss of a perfectly good car with low mileage and a great body (the car, not the owner). I should know in the next hour or so.

I promised the kids I'd make pot roast today. I delayed putting in on until 3 pm, hoping we could get the car business sorted out before then, since I really don't like going out and leaving something cooking on the stove. But now the roast is on (and it smells yummy, by the way), and I'm still waiting to hear from the agent.

So, things I didn't get done:

1. Most important, I didn't sort through any of my 'stuff' here, and since I am getting ready to sell this place, I really need to get it cleared out. So probably another trip in the summer is warranted.

2. I didn't eat at Swiss Chalet. I didn't eat there the last time either! This time I actually drove to the restaurant, but oops - where the restaurant should have been was a big mound of dirt. Yup, they tore down the building and plowed the land. Not sure what's going up in that spot. There are other Swiss Chalet's around but it would have meant retracing steps. So I decided on pizza at the corner store instead.

3. I was able to cancel my Canadian health insurance, something I've been trying to do for a couple of years. I tried online (and then they changed the forms and they didn't make sense for my situation), and I called them - neither worked. So today I went in person, and in 5 minutes or less, I was canceled out of the system. Not that I wanted to be canceled, mind you, but that's the law - unless I continue to reside about 6 months in Canada, I am not entitled to free coverage under OHIP.

4. I didn't get to try Mama's Kitchen. I found out about this new restaurant from a business card that Miko left in my car. Miko says it's great Mexican food, similar to Isla. Not that I really need to eat Mexican food while I'm here, but I was curious to check it out and report back to Miguel.

What I was able to do was eat a few dishes of fresh local strawberries. And I made parmesan chicken for Jen, one of her favorite dishes and something I just recently perfected. I also got together with family - we all went to my aunt's house for a nice BBQ and gathering.

I'm actually all packed now, another small miracle. I even have receipts for what I'm taking back. As disorganized I am in my condo, I am very organized in my suitcases. Small miracles.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Officer, a deer hit me

I did not hit the deer, it ran into my car. It hit ME.

I had just visited my car insurance agent in Niagara Falls to pick up the little pink slip you keep in the car to show that the car is insured. 10 minutes later I needed that little pink slip.

I had just driven over the Skyway bridge, and was starting down the exit ramp when a deer showed up in the middle of the highway, and suddenly it ran right at me. Instinctively I ducked, which may be what saved me.

The deer slammed hard into the driver's side, shattering the side window. Somehow I kept the car under control as something whacked me in the side of the head. When I looked up, I was still heading straight down the ramp. I glanced in the rear-view mirror and saw the deer struggling to get up, and finally it did get up. After that I don't know, because by then I was at the bottom of the ramp and had to merge into traffic.

I really didn't know what to do, there was nowhere to pull off, there was nothing I could do for the deer, and I just thought my window was broken. So I drove home, since I just live a few blocks from the exit.

I called Jen to come down and help me because I was covered in glass and really wasn't sure that I was ok. I guess I was a bit stunned, but I got out of the car and then we surveyed the damage.

The entire driver's door was dented in, and the side-view mirror was gone. There was some blood on the frame of the door, but not much - I'm really hoping the deer somehow survived the impact and ran off. We found the side mirror on the floor of the passenger side - no idea how it got there, maybe that's what hit me in the head. Don't really know.

What did I do? I got the little pink slip and called my insurance company, and then the police.

I brushed the glass off the seat and drove to the body shop. Then Jen drove me to the car rental agency. So I'm all set up with a nice new red Ford Focus. Very impressed with how quickly I got through the process - 3 hrs in total, the longest time was waiting for the police to come to my house.

Everyone had a hard time believing that I got hit by a deer in the middle of the day, in the middle of the highway, in the middle of town. How did it get there? I don't know. Where did it go? I don't know. The police officer said that someone had called in a report about a deer on the highway, but there was no dead deer at the site of the accident. Maybe both the deer and I came out of this with just a little bump and bruise, and we'll both be ok. I hope so!
Addendum: The odds of collision with a deer are higher than I would have thought!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Just a little song but it says a lot

I've made some major changes in my life in the last 15 years. Good changes, changes that afforded me opportunities I never would have had otherwise.

Basically, I'm living my life "My Way"...

Giving up my life in Canada and all the physical attachments (condo, car, 'stuff') is a good thing. I want to live in Mexico.

but..."Regrets, I've had a few"...

I don't see my family as much as I'd like.
I miss the selection and prices in stores.
I miss the freedom of driving.
I miss playing tennis.
And I miss dancing.

I used to dance, although not very well - I'm not flexible. But I had fun, and I got exercise, and I even performed in the yearly showcase.

My traveling job interfered with my dancing, and so I gave it up. And then I moved to Mexico, and the hope that I would one day dance again at the studio has been squashed. But I'm there with them every year in spirit, watching everyone onstage having a great time and dancing their hearts out.

To the performers at the Wendy Leard School of Dance - Break a leg!!


P.S. Jonna's comment prompted me to search for the song in Spanish, and I found this rendition, sung by Colette, participant in La Academia (not sure which year). She didn't win, but when I listen to this, I'm not sure why - she was one of my favorites that year, and this version puts tears in my eyes.

Thanks, Colette!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Tough Crowd

Yesterday I flew back to Canada. I flew on a frequent flier ticket with United Airlines. The last time I flew United airlines was just over two years ago, and it resulted in a 3 day weekend delay in Washington DC (Dulles airport) due to a major snowstorm in Buffalo. My Friday night flight from Oklahoma City back to Buffalo, connecting through Washington, got delayed, delayed, delayed...and then canceled due to weather.

I remember standing in the line for Customer Service at Dulles airport, listening to the stories of the people around me - we all had reasons why we had to get back to Buffalo, and few were more important than others - although one woman had a very sick mother, so I felt really bad for her. Some people decided to band together and rent a car and drive, but I thought they were nuts. To drive with strangers, through the mountains, at night, with the amount of snow that had fallen? No thanks.

I remember calling Bennie while I was in line to ask him to help me with a hotel reservation, and he kindly got me all sorted out so that by the time I got up to the counter, all I had to do was get my new ticket for Saturday afternoon and then head to a nice hotel just a short distance from the airport.

The next morning I monitored flights before heading to the airport. I noticed that all prior flights to Buffalo were getting canceled, so before checking out, I ended up calling the airline to see if they really thought my flight would go. Of course they didn't really know, but their guess (and mine) was that it would be canceled. So we ended up changing my flight to one on Sunday at noon, surely by then the storm would be over and flights would resume to Buffalo? As it turned out, it was the right thing to change to Sunday, because that Saturday flight did get canceled and I would have been sitting in the airport for another few hours. Instead, I was cozy and content in my hotel room.

On Sunday I checked out and headed to the airport. The faces at my gate were familiar as most were from the Friday night flight and many had spent the entire time hanging about the airport; they were practically living there by then!

But we had a flight, so we were in a happy mood. Until the monitors showed our flight as 'delayed'. Oh no, surely they wouldn't do that to us?! And this delay was for crew reasons - they didn't have a pilot. Are you telling me that they couldn't have given us a pilot from another flight? We had already served our time, they should have delayed a fresh crowd of passengers and let us go. Buffalo passengers had suffered enough, was our philosophy.

But it wasn't to be, I guess computers can't perform the logic needed to feel sorry for us. So we waited and we waited and we waited for our flight crew. Finally we got our crew, finally we got on the plane, finally we pushed back. Everyone cheered. But wait!

The pilot announced that there was a small system problem, we had to go back to the gate to get it fixed. Groans from the crowd. The pilot said it wouldn't take long. It did, it took 1.5 hrs. And they wouldn't let us off the plane. If anyone got off, they weren't getting back on. A couple of people actually did get off. All huffy.

Finally the problem was fixed and we pushed back again. And then we got in line, there were a lot of planes ahead of us. We had been on the plane about 4 hrs, waiting for repair, waiting in line, waiting to go to Buffalo. But now we were #3, almost there. And...

The pilot came on and announced that he could not take us to Buffalo because now he had been working too many hours and he would be in violation. Oh my gosh! Talk about a furious crowd, that was us. We, who had spent the weekend hanging around living in the same old clothes and looking pathetic at anyone who would listen to our tale of woe, had had it. The natives were noisy in their anger and disbelief. But it didn't matter - we headed back to the gate.

By now it was midnight, no more flights, and no more pilots. We were doomed to spend ONE MORE NIGHT in the Dulles airport. And since my schedule had been to fly to Dallas the next morning (from Buffalo), I told United to just send me back to Oklahoma City, where I'd started from on Friday, and I would drive to Dallas. There was no longer any reason for me to fly to Buffalo. But I still had to wait until 6 am the next morning.

Since it was so late, I elected to spend the night in the Dulles airport rather than wait in line for a hotel and then have to get up at 3 am. I wandered around and found a stretch of seats that weren't separated by armrests, plopped down my pillow, covered myself with my coat, and tried to doze off. My bench was not flat and the ruts and ridges dug into my hips and sides, but I made do. And the next morning I flew an uneventful flight back to Oklahoma City, where I got a very nice rental vehicle (brand-new, fully loaded).

What did I get from United airlines for all my inconvenience? Nothing.

And so, I know that the Philadelphia flight 8080 passengers from last night who kept getting delayed are out of luck. They were supposed to depart from the same gate as me, so while I sat waiting for my delayed flight to leave, I got to eavesdrop on the restless crew who kept seeing new flight times get posted on the board. Their aircraft was in the hangar being repaired, don't know why. Their flight time changed by 15 minute increments, the moaning grew. Some people kept going up to the gate agent and asking for an update. Anything to give them hope that they would actually be flying to Philadelphia last night.

The gate agent got on the microphone with his update. "Is your flight going to take off tonight? I don't know, but if I had to guess, I'd guess that it will go. However, that guess isn't worth anything, because I really don't know. I don't know any more than you know. So that's the best I can tell you."

The restless crowd just had to laugh. The agent understood their frustration, and he knew how to relay to them that it was out of his hands. He had probably had lots of practice working angry crowds. Tough job, I wouldn't want it.

I wonder if they left at midnight as their last posted time said they would. I wonder if any of them got any freebies for their trouble. My guess is that they didn't go. But then, my guess isn't worth anything - I really don't know. Just like that agent.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Jinx around every corner

It doesn't pay to think sometimes.

Recently I was thinking that we'd hit a streak of good luck with healthy animals - it's almost 3 months and we haven't needed to call the vet for anything. Now Cappuchina is ill - she hasn't been herself since Sunday afternoon and if it was going to fix itself, it would have by now. So...a call to Delfino is in order.

We had a different mechanic fix the golf cart last week, a mechanic we'd used years ago before he left the island. He happened upon us in the road where we had stalled, and in less than 5 minutes he had us going again. But he wanted to do some maintenance - change filters, clean the carburetor, and check the valves. So last Monday he fixed up the cart and for the last week we have been able to drive around without having to do our old maneuvers with the fishing line. What a treat!

I waited for a few days before commenting to Miguel, but finally on Saturday I asked him if he was happy with the mechanic's work. The cart had been working so well, who wouldn't be happy? Except...we stalled yesterday. The accelerator cable, which the mechanic had wanted to fix as well but we didn't have the cash at the time. He told us that we would eventually have problems again, and he was right.

I knew I shouldn't have thought or said anything - I jinxed us.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Indulge Me

I love the talent in this show from Mexico "La Academia". Last night was the final, and my favorite group (Equipo Amarillo) won. Three of the young men are from Argentina and competed in past years. But as the name of the show indicates, this was their 'Second Chance' and they deserved the win.

This video is not the best to show-off their voices, but it shows their depth as singers and musicians.

And although they don't dance in the video, boy can they dance. Yup, I'm a fan!

Here's a video from previous weeks of another team - Equipo Verde Militar. They came in fourth last night. This video shows their heart and appeal to the masses.

There, I'm done now. Thanks for indulging me.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Taking a page out of Cappuchina's book

Cappuchina has figured out how to co-exist with the other cats here in the house, specifically Minina and Maya, the two cats who don't much care for her presence. She plays 'dead'.

When the other cats are around, Cappuchina simply lies on the ground and doesn't move. This seems to calm the other cats and although they may sniff at Cappuchina, they don't have the heart to give her a clout. It's funny to enter the kitchen and find two or three cats all lying on the floor - one playing dead and the other two studying the 'corpse' - from a distance.

Last evening Cappuchina was up on the couch with us. Along came Minina. Cappuchina simply rolled on her back and stuck her paws up in the air - "I'm dead, I give", is what she seemed to be telling Minina. Minina settled on the sofa, on her chest with her paws tucked underneath. As time wore on, Cappuchina rolled her way closer to Minina, all the while keeping her eyes closed and her belly exposed. Minina woke up from her slumber to find Cappuchina a little too close. Her response? She closed her eyes and turned her head away from Cappuchina. The message was clear - "I don't even want to look at you".

It's been a wearing few weeks, and today is uncomfortably humid. So I'm thinking I just might spend the day lying around and playing dead. My location of choice? The hammock on the pool terrace, where I can just roll out and into the pool, and then roll back in and close my eyes and shut out the world once again. Maybe after that I will open my eyes and discover that the oil spill has been contained, the wildlife suffering has eased, Miguel has won the lottery, and someone has cleaned the house from top to bottom. And that those near and dear to me who are going through personal 'issues' get it all sorted out and are healed. I'll even forgo the house-cleaning in favor of everything else getting resolved. Sound like a plan?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010



Yesterday the Centro de Salud came around to fumigate. They sprayed next door and other areas on our road, but they didn't come here. We were lying in the hammocks on the front terrace, expecting them to call out, but for some reason they didn't come to our gate. Which means our property is a safe haven for nature's children.

I think the fumigation next door stirred up some critters. This morning there was a HUGE scorpion lying dead by the front door. Not sure which cat killed it, none of them show any signs of having been stung. Miguel saw Smokey playing with it (it was already dead), and later, as I was sweeping it up, Luna swatted at it. Yuck, scorpions are just ugly and those big ones are the ugliest. Luckily they are not dangerous, their sting feels like a bee sting (according to Miguel - I've never been stung although I have had one on me in the middle of the night (a story for another time)).

Having cats inside and out is very handy, because they take care of any invaders. We have Smokey, Minina, and Maya protecting the indoors, Luna protecting the back terrace, and Cappuchina protecting the front terraces. Loco used to stomp on insects too, but now he is older and he isn't interested in anything other than iguanas.

I'm thinking about putting this disclaimer on our website:

Stay with us at your own risk. We are not responsible for the distasteful and spooky things you may witness. We cannot guarantee that our dog will not lick his private parts in front of you. We cannot guarantee that Luna will not pop open your screen door and let in mosquitoes (although we will do our best to confine her on the back terrace during the night). We cannot guarantee that stray cats won't yowl, that neighborhood dogs won't bark, that roosters won't crow - in fact, we can guarantee that those things will happen. We are not responsible for spiders that jump, scorpions that crawl, ants that swarm any microscopic piece of anything sweet you may have left on the counter. We cannot help it if those huge flying cockroaches enter your room as you open the screen door to go out on the terrace - but don't worry, they are plant roaches - also known as Palmetto bugs (a nice way of saying HUGE roaches). We hope the big blue crabs don't climb the plants and clunk around on the terrace outside your room. And if you see a small gecko prowling up along your ceiling, just relax - it's there to help with tiny insect control. Yes, it makes a big noise for a tiny thing, but don't worry - it won't hurt you.

To give you some comfort, we promise to thoroughly clean your room and surrounding terraces every day. We will scoop the dead bugs out of the pool. We will wash the bird poop off the deck. We will sweep up the gecko droppings. We will bath the dog, especially if he rolls in something really nasty out in the jungle. We will do our best to keep you protected from the animal and insect world. But this is the tropics...Nature happens.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


On Saturday evening I took a taxi into town to meet a friend for dinner. After a delicious dinner, around 10 pm, I hailed a cab to take me home.

Recently I've started taking the front passenger seat if it's available. I hate having to scoot over when I'm in the back and the driver picks up more passengers. So even though it feels a bit familiar, I sit in the front if possible.

We had only gone about a block when the driver was hailed by a man standing on the corner. It wasn't obvious to me until the man was already in the taxi and we were on our way that he was drunk. I'm not sure the taxi driver had realized it either.

The drunk yapped at the driver for the entire trip, calling him "Tio", and other familiar names. He talked mostly to himself because I was not going to answer and get into a conversation with him, and the taxi driver just grunted responses to him now and then. "La verdad, no se" (honestly, I don't know). I don't know what the taxi driver said he didn't know, because the slurred speech of the drunk made it hard to catch everything he was asking. And it's not like what he was saying was anything that would make me hang on every word anyway. I did eavesdrop, simply because I'm like that, but it was rather dull.

I was left with the impression that the taxi driver was wishing he hadn't picked up the drunk, but the drunk was smart - he prepaid, so there he sat, alone in the back, talking to himself, and seeming to enjoy himself.

Yesterday afternoon we were driving along the coast and passed a man carrying a heavy load of planks. The man yelled at us as we passed, so Miguel stopped the cart and asked the guy where he was going. "Adelante" was about all Miguel could get out of him - "Ahead".

The man greeted me in English and tossed the odd English word at me as he yapped at Miguel. Miguel quickly realized the guy was drunk, so tried not to get dragged into a conversation with the man, and again, I sat silently and stayed out of it. I don't enjoy speaking with drunks, I don't enjoy watching drunks, and I don't enjoy trying to avoid interaction with them. I never quite trust them, even though most drunks I've seen here seem happy and friendly (there are exceptions, I know).

Finally we got to the corner where the drunk wanted off, so we stopped and let him unload his planks and go on his merry way. I asked Miguel if he knew the guy. Yes, he did - he is a cement mason, a bricklayer. And Miguel informed me he was drunk, as if I hadn't noticed. Many bricklayers drink from Saturday afternoon until Monday afternoon - it's their free time, and getting drunk is their routine, their release from a week of heavy toil in heat and humidity. If I had to do their work, I might drink too.