Saturday, November 29, 2008

Miguel's Island Escapes

I have completed coding all the web pages for both Capi's Apartment and Dentro del Jardin B&B. This was a learning experience for me as I am not a web designer nor did I know HTML or CSS until the last couple of months. I'm enrolled in an online web program and really enjoying it. This was a labor of love, I think both properties are very special.

Miguel's Island Escapes

(The link is also over to the right at the top - "Miguel's Island Escapes".)

It was really fun to do these pages, I hope you like them!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Never cheat on a Cancun taxi driver

Several months ago Miguel and I were standing outside a department store in Cancun, leaning on the row of carts and discussing where to go next to look for the special cream he needs for his burns. Out of the corner of my eye I spotted a man in a white shirt watching us; he came over and I thought we were going to be told to move along and stop leaning on their carts.

But this guy had overheard our conversation and suggested that Miguel check out the pharmacy in the store we were standing in front of. While Miguel was in the store I continued leaning on the carts (we'd been shopping for what seemed like hours, and I was tired) and the guy leaned with me. Somehow I ended up telling the man about Miguel's accident and that he needs this special cream to help with his scars. The guy suggested we go to a drugstore called "Ahorro" - one I'd never heard of before. I was still thinking this was a security person who worked for the store who happened to know a lot about drugstores.

When Miguel came out empty-handed, the guy asked if we wanted to go to Ahorro. We said yes, and the guy took us over to a cab, loaded our stuff in and then opened the driver's side door. At that point I realized this man was a taxi driver - light-bulb moment! So off we went to Ahorro. That particular store did not have the cream but they checked the inventory and told us where to go to find one that did. The taxi driver took us to the next store and we got a tube of cream.

That's when Luis started to have a place in our lives. He told us we should buy two tubes so we wouldn't have to look for it for a while. Made sense, so we went back in the store but they did not have any more to sell us. We ended up driving around for almost an hour looking for Miguel's cream because now Luis had us on a mission - to find that second tube. But it was a cheerful trip - sort of like a tour of downtown Cancun, parts I'd never seen before. And Luis and I got to know each other a little better while we waited for Miguel. We discussed the challenges of multi-cultural relationships. He told me this is how Mexican men are (when discussing certain traits), his wife complains about the same things. No big deal, asi es.

Luis was very personable and he and Miguel seemed to hit it off. By this time Luis knew the details of the accident and a lot of other things about us - our pets, Miguel's homeland (Oaxaca), my frequent trips to the airport, etc. Miguel did ask him right off the bat if his intention was to charge us a lot of money to drive us around, and then they both laughed. No - this taxi driver was genuinely interested in finding the cream for Miguel, and at one store he took out a pen and wrote down the phone number of the store so we could call ahead next time and make sure they had the cream in stock. Just a very nice guy, and we took his number.

The next time we went to Cancun we called Luis and he picked us up at Puerto Juarez and took us to a bunch of places, including a different pharmacy where Miguel was just supposed to check the price of the burn cream. I guess our signals got crossed because Miguel came back with two tubes of cream, at a cost of an extra $150 pesos each ($30 US extra). Miguel was so happy to have found the cream that Luis and I didn't say anything about the extra cost.

Most of our chores done and with just Walmart to go, we decided to eat before hitting Walmart - at a restaurant across the street. Although Luis offered to wait for us to eat, since we didn't know how long we'd be and we didn't have much in the way of purchases, we told Luis goodbye and let him get on with his day.

After eating we walked over to Walmart. We were in the middle of our shopping there when my cell phone rang. It was Luis, wondering where we were and how long we'd be - he was outside Walmart waiting for us. So Luis waited for us and then took us to the ferry. We gave him a nice tip - he'd spent a good amount of time with us, he was almost like family by now.

Luis knew Miguel was going to Oaxaca in October and they discussed that Miguel would call to take him to the airport. But Miguel left really early in the morning and we didn't want to bother Luis that early in the morning - Miguel just took a cab from the street. And when I flew out several days later I wasn't sure until the last minute which ferry I would be taking, so I just took my chances with the street taxis too. Several other trips to Cancun involved larger purchases - fridge, chairs, etc - and we needed a large cab to transport, so ended up using another cabbie. We have about 4 cabbies we can call, and we like to give them all some business as there isn't much now, and they are nice guys just trying to make a living.

Yesterday I had to get my picture taken for my FM3. I told Miguel we should call Luis because he would know a studio we could go to where the pictures would be ready quickly. I pulled out all my papers with numbers and was about to call Luis, when we decided that first we'd just see if we'd get a cabbie who knew where to take us. So I stuffed my numbers back into my wallet and we hopped a cab and he took us to a place across from the bus station. The pictures were a little pricier than usual, but would be ready in 20 minutes. We had a couple of other errands to do in the area and then just waved down a cab in the street to take us to Walmart.

In the middle of the store, looking at light bulbs, we bumped into Luis. "Where have you been, mis amigos? You went on vacation and then what happened to you?" He said he had been going through his cell phone just that morning and came across our number and wondered why he hadn't heard from us. Were we ok? Didn't we like his service? What happened that we hadn't called? We told him that we had just about called him just that day because I said he would know where to take me for the pictures. As proof, I pulled out the wad of papers and showed him that his number was right on top. We made up excuses for not calling him (valid excuses, but he might not think so). We never told him we'd called other cabbies. Shhh!

It was such a coincidence - us standing in the one aisle Luis was in (he was there to buy glue) and bumping into him. When we'd both been thinking about the other that very day, and there we suddenly all were. Of course we told him to wait for us, we were buying a tv and it would be really convenient to stuff all our purchases into his cab and not worry about them and continue our shopping. And of course we had to go to Ahorro to get more cream for Miguel's scars and Luis knew right where to take us. While Miguel was in the store, Luis commented about the last time he'd taken us to that other pharmacy and remarked that Miguel was not supposed to buy that cream there, just check the price. How much more did we have to pay? Crazy man - buying two tubes at a cost of $30 and not thinking about the additional cost. Luis remembered every detail about us - were we really that interesting or did he just have a good memory?

So Luis left us at the ferry with promises we would call him the next time we go to Cancun. And we will...because if we don't, Luis will track us down anyway. Sometimes you just have to go with what is right in front of you. Luis is a great cab driver, down to earth, honest, and he likes us and we like him. Almost family.

What are they doing?

What is Miguel doing?

He's picking his monster melon that he has been growing for weeks (we can't really remember when the plant first set fruit). The melon weighed 2.5 kg (about 5.5 lbs), and yup - we ate it. It was not as sweet as the last one he grew - maybe because it wasn't exposed to much sunlight? Does anyone know if direct sun makes a difference in sweetness?

What is Loco doing?

No, he wasn't sent to sit in the corner for bad behavior (at least not this time). Loco is staring at the wall, because inside is an iguana, and he can smell it and hear it moving about, and he's waiting. Because Loco is convinced he will catch this iguana one day. He thinks the iguana will either be stupid enough to fall down, or climb down to his height, or that he can jump as high as the top of the wall. Loco never runs out of patience watching and waiting for iguanas.

What is Maya doing?

Maya is making herself comfortable on top of Loco's body. She seems to love his soft fur and body warmth, and he tolerates her most of the time.

Pictures I'm waiting to get...

The two baby grey kittens that have been living in the plants on this road. They are probably 3-4 months old now, but still hang together most of the time. The Minina look-alike seems to be their protector - big brother, cousin, father - don't really know his/her role, he might even be an opportunist since the babies do the crying to get fed (and it works), and he gets to eat too.

The babies are often hanging around in our garden - they are safe there although Negra will chase them if they dare come near her food dish. And Luna growls at them, she's letting them know that she was here first so they either accept her position as boss or move along. Since they know they'll be fed, they're not inclined to move along, and that's ok - they are no trouble, and at least they get a good meal every day. Maybe one day we can catch them and have them neutered - they don't seem that wild although I still can't get close enough to touch them. But they sit and stare at me and don't run off, so they are getting used to being spoken to and they know we feed them. Hunger seems to override fear, so there's hope we'll catch them one day. But I need a picture - they are so cute!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Someone's going to get hurt

How many times do you remember rough-housing with siblings or friends and hearing your mother warning..."Be careful...someone's going to get hurt". Mothers always knew when enough was enough and we should settle down, but we didn't - we kept going until someone's head crashed into the floor or something got knocked over. Often someone ended up crying. Mother was right again.

Maya is fearless. Seems she doesn't know her size. Doesn't understand how vulnerable she is to all the bigger animals around her - including us, with our big feet that could crush her in a second.

Maya darts all over the house - ambushing us and popping out from places we don't expect her. Zoom - right between the feet. So far she has been lucky - we're paying attention to every step we make. But her day is coming, unless she changes her ways. The odds are not in her favor, she thinks she's invincible.

The most dangerous thing Maya does is bite on my computer cord. I have that thing tucked in as much as I can, and she still finds a piece to put in her mouth. It's a constant fight with her - as I push her away she thinks it's a game, and keeps coming back for more. I hope she gets bored with it soon - our other cats never paid that much attention to cords.

Another potentially dangerous game Maya plays is attacking the dog. Loco will be lying beside the couch, in his usual spot, minding his own business, and Maya will start crawling all over him. She bites on his feet, his ears, his legs. She nuzzles around his private parts (actually, I think Loco enjoys that part!). She darts up to his face and swats at him and then runs off, only to return over and over. Finally Loco has had enough and he retaliates. He gently chews on Maya, and she rolls around and grabs onto his whiskers, and goes for a ride as he moves his head from side to side. Maya is still smaller than Loco's head, but that doesn't stop her. She bites and grabs harder, and Loco starts with his feet - pushing Maya around, and then pinning her down. So far this is all good fun for both.

But at some point it starts to get serious. And I sit up and watch because I know that "Someone's going to get hurt", and that someone is going to be Maya. Finally Loco is too rough and Maya runs off, but Loco gives chase and pounces - all his weight and his big feet. If Maya is lucky she darts into a small hiding space, if not, she is crushed until I intervene and tell Loco to take it easy. But Loco loves to play, and this is great fun, and his adrenalin is going, and he is torn between listening to me and continuing his game with Maya. And Maya doesn't stop either, not until the one pounce that hurts, when she ends up crying and I punish Loco. The game is over, and see - Mother knows best, they should have listened when I tried to warn them.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

They Found Her!! - Update to post below

Just got an email from my neighbor that they found La Negra. In Cancun. Lying near a car near Mercado 28 - probably tired. She went a long way, but wow - how lucky! We are so happy. I still cannot believe they found her. That dog is one lucky little girl.

Hoping for the Best

As many of you know, La Negra is shared between our house and another family around the corner. La Negra has heart-worm, and was undergoing treatment here, but due to circumstances I won't go into, the woman around the corner decided to take La Negra to a vet in Cancun to complete treatment.

Today they packed La Negra into the back of a truck and off they went to Cancun. My neighbor said La Negra behaved beautifully - probably her first car ride ever.

The vet in Cancun checked her over and determined that more tests and treatments would be needed for several issues, including the heart-worm. They would keep La Negra until Friday in order to keep her quiet (a requirement of heart-worm treatment).

My neighbor had just left my house after giving me the vet's report when she called - in hysterics. Seems the vet's assistant had taken La Negra out to go to the bathroom and the leash broke. La Negra ran off, and is now lost out there somewhere in the center of Cancun, near the bus station. Tulum Avenue is so busy, I can't imagine what it must be like for her out there.

There is not much we can do but hope that she shows up, and if not, that someone kind takes her in. We know the odds are not in her favor. Tonight is a sad night here.

Sunday Grab Bag

Ok, I realize it is now Tuesday, and this blog never got completed or posted on Sunday. But since today is looking like all my other work days, I'd just better post what I've already written and move on. So here was what was in my head on Sunday:

The "Bag" in the title probably should be plural. Today was island shopping day - first the mercado near the house for chicken, fruit, juice, and vegetables. They never have celery and I wanted to make potato and macaroni salad and I must have celery for that - just isn't the same without it.

So we dropped Loco and the stuff at the house and headed to Centro. Might as well make it Sunday breakfast while we're at it, so first went to Alexia and Giovianni's for huevos rancheros (for me) and huevos con jamon (for Miguel). We are so predictable, the waitress just says "the usual?" Once in a while I order something different just to keep them on their toes, but Miguel never varies. Huevos con jamon for breakfast and pescado (a la plancha or en mojo de ajo) for lunch.

Then to the Super Express to pick up the celery and other things that I can't get elsewhere. Every time I'm in that store I'm reminded why I avoid it at almost all cost. The aisles are far too narrow, stock carts and trays are always in the way, and there are too many people not in the least interested in letting on that they see you need them to move aside in order to get through. I used to smile apologetically as I stood there waiting for people to finally move, but now I'm jaded - I give them about 5 seconds to notice, and after that I simply say "Permisso" and they get out of my way. Of course, the stock carts and trays don't react at all, so I'm still forced to reverse my way back down the narrow aisle, leaving me at the mercy of the people who have followed me down and again, are not in any hurry to let me out. Ahhhrrrggg! Just get me OUT of this store!

Still missing a couple of items, we then headed to Mirtita. They didn't have what I wanted either, but I compromised, so I got everything I expected to get, even if it wasn't everything I wanted to get. To get everything I want, I have to go to Canada - even Cancun is lacking in a few things you'd think they would have on the shelves. learns to make do with what is here, and usually it works out and you sort of get past thinking you need certain things.

So today we will make a BBQ meal - sausages I picked up in Cancun, with potatoes done in foil, along with the salads I intend to prepare. Of course, it's noon now and I haven't prepared anything, and Miguel wants to take Loco for his 'tour' of the island, so we'll see how much actually gets done.

And at that last sentence Miguel was ready to take Loco and I for our 'tour'. And so ends Sunday's blog.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


The night before last I woke up around 3 with a terrible discomfort in my stomach. Gastric pain, bloating, and nausea. I was up and down a few times trying to get comfortable, and finally took a Zantec, thinking it was acid irritation from my evening cup of coffee.

About an hour later, I knew it was something more - my mouth was salivating and my stomach was churning. I gave in to what nature wanted me to do and vomited a lot more liquid than I'd consumed in the last few hours. And that started 24 hrs of gastric illness. I was in bed most of yesterday - declined all food and most liquids. Miguel brewed up a tea concoction, swearing it would get me better. It was sweet so I sipped at it all day - by evening it was finally gone.

Delfino stopped by yesterday to pick up a sample of Maya's poopie. She is still going too often and he is going to check for worms (even though she had the meds once). She has been on the chicken/rice combination and nothing else since Saturday, and is full of energy and happy. Her coat is nice and clean and she is running around like she owns the place. Miguel calls her 'bola con patas' (ball with feet) for her fat little belly - she is quite round and does look comical as she tries to run. I thought she was round from worms, but Delfino said she is just 'fat'! Hmmm...must be baby chubby fat (but I still think it's worms).

After sniffing Maya and declaring her well and fit (although possibly still needing meds for worms), Delfino scooped up from her litter box and popped the sample into a baggie and into his backpack. Knowing I was sick, Delfino advised me to take the parasite meds for humans (which he has told me before and although I mean to, I have only done it once). I do not think that is why I was sick, but I do agree I need the meds anyway. Actually, the entire household needs the meds - when one is treated, everyone needs to be treated. And kind doctor that he is, he offered to examine my 'output' as well, if I'd like. Well, what a nice guy, but I had nothing at the moment to give him to put in his backpack and um...I'm sort of private about that anyway.

So I declined Delfino's offer and last night took the meds. The pack said to take both pills at the same time, so I did, against Miguel's wishes. Miguel wouldn't take his until this morning, I think he wanted to see if I survived before taking his dose. And I have survived, and am almost as good as new. My chest muscles hurt from getting sick, but otherwise, I feel much better.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Still windy, Still cold

Geez - can't believe I'm from Canada. The cold wind is too much for me. My wind-breaker is hardly breaking wind (hmmm...THAT doesn't sound right). Try light jacket is not enough to keep me warm, even with my hands tucked into the sleeves. I remember my first November here after I bought my house. There was a house-warming party with a few friends, and it was chilly then too. Delfino and Ana arrived - Ana wrapped in layers of warm clothing, including a long scarf. And she's from Canada too! So it's not just me maybe?

The sun came out this afternoon for a couple of hours and I thought the cold front had passed. But then it came back. The animals are cold too. They are all seeking out fuzzy blanket pieces to sleep on and keep them warm. Loco has crashed on the pet sofa with his t-shirt on. All the doors and windows are closed. I lit a candle in the chimnea to bring a little warmth to the living room.

Maya's new favorite place to crash

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Ok - It's windy!

Last night a cold front blew in from the north. But not just a cold front...also a wind front. Strong gusts of chilly wind blew all night long. When it's windy Miguel props up a piece of plywood on the top level to protect the plants from the wind. All night long that piece of plywood knocked on the roof, echoing down into the bedroom.

The palm tree in front was bent over from the strength of the wind, and at some point I guess it rained because there were signs of it this morning. We actually slept upstairs with the windows open since they are south-facing and the wind was coming from the other side of the house. Other than the noise of the wind, it was great sleeping weather...nice and cool. No need for a fan.

All the animals snuggled into their various sleeping places downstairs. Maya got the laundry room, the warmest spot in the house. We are normally up between 5:30 and 6, but this morning it was 6:15 when Minina started whining at the door that it was time to get up. It wasn't that she was hungry, it wasn't that she needed to go out (she has a litter box). No, she just wanted us UP!

Maya was carrying on like she was going to keel over from starvation at any second. I heated up her food (she is now on boiled chicken and rice, to see if that controls her 'deposits' in the litter box) and she gobbled it down in no time. Good thing too, because Loco was lingering in the background just waiting for his chance to dive in and clean her dish.

We decided to go into town for breakfast, since we had to go in for other reasons anyway. I bundled up in long pants and sleeves and a jacket, Miguel wore his denim jacket, and Loco wore his t-shirt. It was cold this morning, and driving on the golf cart in the open wind felt much colder. But we were off to Alexia and Giovanni, for huevos rancheros (me) and huevos con jamon (Miguel). Miguel commented that it was good the golf cart was running fast rather than slow like it had been a couple of weeks ago. Why does he says these things? He should know the golf cart is listening.

At the restaurant, the waiter placed a plastic cup full of napkins on the table. The wind immediately blew it over and would have blown it away had Miguel not caught it. So we're left holding onto the napkin holder, until the waiter brought a dish of sauce, salt and pepper shakers, and a bottle of sauce, which we used to surround the plastic cup and force it to stay in place.

Tummies full and purchases made, we started back along the east side. The wind was at our backs. Just out of town the golf cart slowed right down. Oh no - don't break down here, now - it's too cold and we have the dog, which means someone has to walk! But the cart kept going, although much slower...and after checking under the seat and not finding anything unusual, we putted along and concluded a) the gas had water in it (we had just filled up last night, or b) the carburetor was dirty, or c) both, or d) some other cause we did not yet know about. It's multiple choice - take your pick.

Reaching the outside road between the curve and Ronco's, the wind blew the cover up on the back seat of the golf cart. It flew up and rested on my head. The back seat is in such bad shape that we couldn't get it back on without a struggle, so finally Miguel just turned the whole seat over and we continued along.

So now we're home and realizing that today's plans to grill are shot, and it's a good day to just stay in and enjoy the climate. Miguel is already dozing on the couch, and I think I'll be doing the same shortly. Living here makes one SO tired!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Wow the week went fast!

I haven't written since Monday. I haven't even wanted to write since Monday, which is unusual for me. My mind seems devoid of anything interesting to say although a lot has happened this week. But probably nothing of interest to anyone other than the inhabitants of this house. But let me see...

Maya is doing well, she has learned how to climb up on the couch all by herself. She also knows how to jump down - her biggest leap was over the dog sprawled below her. She has learned the path from her bedroom to the living room to the kitchen, in no particular order. She constantly wants to eat, which translates into lots of goodies in the litter box - a little too much, in my opinion. So now I'm mixing dry food in with the canned, in hopes it will stick to her ribs a little longer and she will eat less frequently. Her belly is bulging, she looks like you could stick a pin in her and she'd deflate. She loves to snuggle, nestling in the crook of my arm and kneading - someone should tell her there's no milk there. And that position hampers my ability to type, another reason why I haven't written.

Maya cries like a human baby - long, whiney and persistent when she's hungry. That little bitty thing makes a lot of noise! Yesterday she was snuggled in the crook of my arm, and she changed position of her head and lost her balance and her body flipped around and 'crashed' onto the laptop. She cried just like a child would do when it falls down. Boy was she mad.

The best part is that Minina has accepted Maya into the household. No more hisses or growls. It was a funny process to watch, each day showed progress. After the hissing period, it was a possessive period. Everything Maya touched, Minina ran to and either took it away or touched it too. "Mine"! And she'd bat at Maya on her way past, as if to remind her who was boss. Today they both spent the entire day on the back terrace. Maya took the comfy chair, the canvas one with the mat as padding. Minina got the plastic chair, when she wasn't busy watching her geckos.

Earlier this week Minina got sick. She refused food and made gagging/choking sounds. Delfino happened to come by the first day she was sick, but by then she'd been sleeping all day and seemed a little better. He said to watch her and call him the next day if she was still appearing sick. Three hours later Minina looked so sick and miserable that I thought she was about done. I called Delfino but didn't reach him, so I decided to start Minina on the medicine that Maya had been on and Delfino had said I should give to the other cats if they developed the same sickness. The first dose of medication was given around 8 pm, and I slept on the couch nearby in case Minina got worse. By 11 pm she was looking perkier, and interested in watching the walls for geckos, so I went up to bed, feeling that she was on the mend.

In the morning we gave Minina another dose of medication, much against her will. At 11:30 Delfino came to check her out, and she was much better by then. But he said she did not have the same symptoms as Maya and not to continue with the medication, just observe and call if she was not better. But Minina continued to get better, and now she is back to her normal self - thank goodness.

Delfino was pleased at the progress he saw with Maya. He made her a ball out of aluminum foil, wanting to see her play 'like a cat'. And she did her demo, and he was happy. So hopefully Maya will thrive and be with us for a long time. She might even be a good companion for the playful Minina - I am hoping.

On the other hand, Luna continues to be unhappy about Maya, but I think she is gradually coming around as her growls are a little less fierce. I do not trust her alone with Maya at all, in fact I don't leave Maya out when we're not around, but I am hoping Luna will agree to co-exist, as she does with Minina, and then we can all be in the house without being stressed.

Loco was a bit sick this week too - not sure what he got into, if anything, or if it was just sympathy sickness. But tonight he was running and jumping and hungry, so he too is back to normal (as normal as Loco ever gets).

Miguel and I? Well, I don't know what we ate or drank, but by 8 pm we are done for the night (sometimes earlier - we snooze on the couch before heading up to bed). I am really up late tonight, it's almost 9. But after I post this I'm off to bed. Tomorrow is Saturday, and I LOVE weekends!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Capi's Apartment

My daughter is in interior design. I am not in interior design. But I would like to be. I like planning and thinking of different options for space and color. My personal bodega (shed) is stacked with quart cans of paint that I bought to try this color or that color in my house. I think I am finally getting it right most of the time without going through several colors before I find the right one. Most of the time.

Miguel's rental apartment is painted all white right now which means the color has to come from furnishings and accessories. So we went shopping for fabric, and found what we both felt was a cheery fabric for the curtains.

We also found a futon that we thought was the best fit for his terrace sala (living room). But it only came in a greenish fabric - not our first choice, but we decided to make it work. The chairs we wanted did not come in the fabric we wanted, but my daughter, the designer, suggested using pillows to tie the pieces together, and it works.

I am putting together a website for Capi's Apartment (one of Miguel's nicknames is "Capi"). But here's a sneak preview of how it looks. I think Miguel did a fantastic job with the structural design, and we are both happy with the end result. Here are some pictures:

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Legend of Maya

Jorge, our primary albanil, is of Mayan descent. His body has the typical physical characteristics of many of the Mayan people living here. He's short, with a round face and large head. He's not quite as beautiful as this young Mayan girl but he has a strong body from years of hard labor. He's respectful and honest, and family is very important to him.

A couple of months ago Jorge was hired to build a small breakfast bar on the edge of the second-floor landing. Part of the design was incorporating the base of the bar into the existing cement ledge on the outer staircase. Cement work is done in layers, the rough stuff first, and finally the smooth finish. Jorge was working on the smooth finish when I went to Cancun one day to buy more tiles.

When I got back Miguel informed me that Jorge had fallen off the top of the stairs, and had gone to get checked out. He said he'd been reading his newspaper in the hammock when there was a loud crash at the back, but he ignored it thinking a tool or something had fallen. Well, something HAD fallen, but it was a human - Jorge. The height of the staircase to the second level is 3 metres (9 feet). After falling head-first, Jorge managed to pick himself up and get on his moped and drive away.

I was so worried about Jorge, but there was nothing to do but wait for news. About an hour later Jorge came back...walking stiffly and grinning sheepishly. I was so happy to see that he was apparently ok. "What happened?", I asked. Jorge said he didn't really know, he didn't remember feeling dizzy or anything. He had been leaning over the edge of the stairs to put the smooth finish on the outside of the bar when he fell, head first. There was nothing to break his fall other than the fact that his butt caught the edge of a step on his way down, and that was enough to help him land on something other than his head.

Anyone who has watched an albanil perched up on a rickety platform or walking along the edge of a ledge or working on the top of buildings with no safety gear, knows that these guys have incredible balance and strength. Jorge simply lost his balance. Miguel explained it this way...

The Mayan people have big heads, heavy heads. He said that he was told that there are no balconies in the Yucatan because people leaning over the edge would fall, being put off balance by their heads. He said that he always thought this was just a joke, but it must be true because that's what happened to Jorge - his head put him off-balance and he fell. A very experienced albanil took a tumble because of his head.

Well, I doubt the truth in any of that, but Jorge seemed to think it was a possibility, and he does have a big head. And other than some sore muscles and deep bruises in the butt area, Jorge was fine and continued his work. These guys are tough, I give them my full respect.

So...getting to the point of the story. As posted several days ago, our new little kitten has a head that is out of proportion to its body. Our kitten has not yet grown into its head. Today she was leaning over the edge of the couch and Miguel warned her to be careful or her head would make her fall. I was immediately reminded of Jorge's accident, and the name Maya just popped into my head. It was one of those moments when you know it is right. So our little kitten, who was found in the jungle of the Maya, the land of the Aluxes (the plants across the road), will be called "Maya".

Saturday, November 8, 2008

I shopped so long my toenails grew

Yesterday I took a 'vacation' day to go to Cancun to pick up the few remaining things on my list for Miguel's apartment. Zina was also going so she invited me to share her cabbie - a guy who would drive us wherever we wanted to go, and keep our stuff in his car while we shopped at the next store. And Carlos went the extra mile a few times, loading and rearranging our growing pile of stuff, in less-than-ideal weather. He was worth every peso.

I was gone from 9:30-4:30, give or take a few minutes on either end. Apparently long enough for my toenail to have grown long enough to cause pain in my left big toe. Today I cut out the offending fragment. Ah, relief!

Today I'm cold. The weather looked promising in the morning, but by mid-afternoon the wind was brisk and the sun was hiding behind clouds. So I cooked up the stewing beef I bought at Costco - half made traditional beef stew, the other half made beef cacciatore. Crisp fall days in Canada call for beef stew, and this is the closest we get to 'crisp' days here. So the stew warmed my belly, and now I think it's time for a siesta.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Miguel's Projects - sneak preview

Since Miguel's accident last year, he has reassessed what he really wants to do with his work. His specialty is electricity and plumbing, but in truth he could do just about anything related to home maintenance - painting, cement work, yard work. He also enjoys cooking and tossed around the idea of going into the restaurant business, but for now that idea is on hold.

For the last several years Miguel has been building a second floor at his property. The apartment is recently completed and furnished, and is adorable. Miguel's artistic flair shows with each arch and curve and design detail. This weekend I will be taking pictures and putting together a web site for him. The apartment will be called "Capi".

Another of Miguel's projects will be to run a B&B (Bed & Breakfast) here at the house. For the last several months he has been overseeing and working on getting the landing built for a small kitchenette, as well as railings on the staircase. The staircase turned into a much larger project than anticipated, but we're very pleased with the results and it's nice to go up and down the stairs and not worry about tumbling over the edge (or having anyone else tumble over). The railing does not look like the original design, but it is one of a kind, and again shows Miguel's artistic talents. I will be taking pictures of the new spaces this weekend, once Miguel is finished painting the cement stairs and puts the kitchenette together.

I am doing an online web design course, and for my HTML class final project we had to put together a web site with 5 linked pages. So I used the B&B as my project, and although I would really like to enhance the site, I need to learn more about web design before I start messing with it. So here is the link to Dentro Del Jardin B&B as it is today, with additional kitchenette photos to be added shortly.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A day at home

Miguel fixed the golf cart. The spark plug had jumped out of its casing. Not sure how that happens, maybe I don't want to know. He bought a new plug and a tool to insert the plug back in, and I think a mechanic was involved at some point too. But we're back up and running, and as you know by now, it's borrowed time. But we'll take it.

Zina came by today, and we chatted out at the street for a bit. Wayne (Gringo in Paradise) also came by, on his way to the mechanic at the end of my road. It was nice to finally meet him. I showed off Miguel's canteloup, it is huge and is still ripening on the vine.

Miguel finished the touch-up paint job on the stairs, and now we're ready to put the space back together. Or should I say 'together', since we are doing something new with the space.

I worked and cuddled the kitten on and off. Miguel is calling the kitten Pitaya, even though it looks nothing like the fruit. However, it is about the size of pitaya, and the name seems to fit for some reason. So the jury is still out on what we will actually call this little animal, although when I say "Minina" the kitten responds - doesn't know its name but knows the sound of a voice talking to a cat.

Delfino made a surprise visit to check on the progress of the kitten and was very pleased with what he saw. So far so good, fingers crossed we continue to improve and eventually thrive. The kitten is skin and bones under all that fur, and its head looks a little big for its body - just like toddlers do when they reach that age of disproportion. She has big ears too for such a small kitty.

Minina goes from curiousity to hissing at it, and Luna just doesn't even want to be in the house with it around. Loco wants to play with the kitten, but he plays too rough, so he gets very little time. He did the same thing with our other cats, and he still pounces on them but they are big enough to take it. I think he thinks they are just like his other stuffed toys, and he's trying to make them squeak.

Tonight there are about 30 Moonflowers open and the fragrance is wafting into the living room. So sweet, I love this plant. We used to sit and stare at the flower until it opened, something fun about watching it inflate and then pop open (often when attention was distracted elsewhere). I know, we don't have much entertainment here - we make our own.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Random stuff from today

First, the kitty is ok - yeah! We stopped in to see her on the way to the ferry. She was sitting at the door of her cage, lined up against the wall with several other cages. I did not go into the room, just spoke to her from the doorway, and that little bundle of fur recognized my voice and called back to me.

Delfino was not there but his assistant said that she thought he would be sending the kitten home today. I told her we were on our way to Cancun and would check in when we got back. Our hearts were lightened as we headed out.

On the top of the Ultramar, a middle-aged man and woman were standing in front of us, in quite a cozy embrace. I'm not sure if they were slow-dancing to the romantic music or what, although their bodies weren't really moving. Just their hands were moving - patting, squeezing, and caressing each other's pompies (butts). As it neared the dock at Puerto Juarez, the Ultramar suddenly slowed down, and the couple was thrown off-balance and staggered forward. They almost fell. Miguel and I couldn't help but chuckle. So much for the embrace...hehehe...

We took a cab to Parisina to buy some fabric. Almost a new experience for me - we actually got asked if we were taken care of while we stood waiting our turn to measure out the fabric. In most of the stores I frequent in Cancun, it is almost impossible to find someone to help you, and even if you do find someone, they often just shrug their shoulders and claim they don't know, and they make little effort to 'know'. So it was refreshing to see this example of attention to customer service. I hope it catches on!

We then started a two-hour marathon to get some paperwork for Miguel sorted out. He has been working on this since May, and just keeps getting shuffled from one place to another, with a new form to fill out each time. A form that will need to be photo-copied several times; he has a folder full of copies and papers. But it looks like finally we are getting somewhere. Today he had to sign quite a few papers, and then put his fingerprint beside the signatures. Now we wait 20 days to see if the papers are in order, and the signatures all match each other. Fingers crossed, it would be nice to have this task off our list for a reason to go to Cancun.

Next we headed to Home Depot to meet the lawyer to start my FM3 process. I finally got my act together, along with my paperwork, and have a stretch of time where I do not anticipate leaving the country, so now was the time. I hope all will be in order and I will be approved to be here for the next year. We'll see.

At Home Depot we picked up a couple of ceiling fans for Miguel's rental apartment. At Sorianna, right next door, we picked up a pineapple and a melon - we always buy fruit when we're in Cancun, it's one of our habits. We really should have gone to Walmart/Sam's Club/Costco too, but we were tired and wanted to get back to let the dog out and then pick up the kitten. So - another trip is needed, as we have a couple more small things to pick up for the apartment, and then it will be done. More on this and another project later this week.

When we got back to Isla, I got off and waited for Miguel to pick up the two fans. One of the guys who helps with stuff asked if I needed help, and I said that I probably did. With that another of the guys jumped at him and they started arguing over whose turn it was. They were blocking the ramp off the boat, but along came Miguel, with both fans loaded on his shoulder - unable to see much so he just parted the two guys and walked right past all of us. The guys ignored him and continued their spat, so I just left them there and tagged along with Miguel. When we got to the golf cart we were laughing at the site of the two men wildly gesturing at each other and accusing each other of losing the tip. Silly guys, they work together all the time, and tomorrow they will probably be best friends.

After we dropped the stuff at the house and let Loco out, we headed to the clinic to pick up the kitten. The kitten looked much better and was not wanting to stay in the cage. She has spunk and spirit, and if she were a male I'd be calling her Spunky. Right now I'm leaning toward calling her Spirit as it embodies the reason she is still alive. So we'll see how that name sticks as the days go by.

I didn't take a cage to bring the kitten home, just a small blanket. Of course the golf cart sputtered to a stop on the final tope before my house. We had to push, but with a kitten in one hand, I wasn't much help and Miguel ended up doing most of the work. Not one person stopped to offer help, something I find very odd here. I think it is the part of the culture to stay out of other people's business unless asked, at least that is the reason I accept for the lack of roadside assistance. And trust me, we've had LOTS of chances for someone to offer to help.

Miguel stopped pushing at one point. There was a dead cat in the road and since Miguel will never let a dead animal lay in the road to become road smush, he picked it up and put it in the bushes at the side of the road. And we continued on our way home, dodging traffic and making the left turn off the road onto my street with just a few nerve-wracking moments.

So, we're all back in one piece, and settling in. We feel so much better than we did yesterday - the long siesta and going to bed at 8:30 pm did the trick. Now we're just normal tired rather than worn out, and that is saying something after a day in Cancun. Our spirit is restored.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Kitten Update

Well, we had a rough day yesterday with the kitty. By evening nothing was going in or coming out. The kitten was lethargic and looked unhappy; it just wanted to lay in my arms and gaze at me with those big sad eyes. So I called Delfino on his personal phone, which I hated to do but I wasn't sure the kitten would make it through the night. Delfino said he would have to see the kitten at 10 in the morning, and to just give it water. But the kitten didn't want the water, although it did show interest when I was drinking my coffee - maybe the smell of milk or sugar? So Miguel rustled up a concoction of boiled sweetened milk. I know giving kittens milk is a no-no, but it was a desperate effort to get some fluids into its little body. The kitten took a few sips - at least it was a little nutrition.

We took the cage up to bed with us so we could hear if the kitten got distressed. But it was a quiet night, the kitten didn't make a sound. By morning the kitten was very dehydrated but still refused water and even the milk. So I got the syringe and started giving small amounts of water every hour until we could get the kitten to Delfino at 10 am. Around 9 the kitten started crying in its cage, and when I checked, it had had diarrhea all over its blanket, and the odor was indicative of gastrointestinal infection. I cleaned it all up while the kitten just tried to climb my legs. I gave it a bit more water and put it back in the cage and it resettled. I read all about FIP (Feline Infectious Peritonitis) while I waited for 10 am, and got myself all concerned about the possibility that not only this kitten would die of this infection, but Minina and Luna as well.

Finally it was time to go to the clinic. Delfino checked its temperature, which was normal. He said he would put fluids under its skin and start it on medication for diarrhea and that he would keep the kitten for the day.

Tonight when we stopped in, I was pleased to hear that the kitten had eaten in the morning (although it is again refusing food tonight). The kitten looks better since it is rehydrated, and it seems a little stronger. Delfino said he did not believe the kitten has FIP or Feline Leukemia, so that is a relief. Although, he did say that FIP is a big problem here - I had no idea, and that is scary and just another reason to keep the cats inside.

Although we accomplished a lot on the weekend, I did not do as much as I'd planned because I was holding a sick kitty. And today we were planning to go to Cancun for various errands, but after coming back from the clinic and doing a few things for work, we both took a long nap. I guess today is our Sunday - other than washing the floor and doing a few loads of laundry, we didn't do anything. We're exhausted - I think the worrying about this kitten has taken a toll on both of us. And this afternoon Loco threw up, and there is a new little pile of upchucked cat food on the stairs, courtesy of Minina. I don't think either of these animals is actually sick, but I'll be keeping an eye on them.

On the up-side to not going to Cancun, we went into town to get some cash and order another chair for Miguel's rental apartment. While we were driving through town, we ran into a couple we'd met on Thursday afternoon while Loco and I waited for Miguel to run an errand. It was Loco that started it - they stopped to ask if they could pet him, and the conversation just flowed from there. So today we chatted some more to hear how their trip to Chichen Itza had gone, and how their vacation was going in general. We ended up going to Alexia and Giovanni's for lunch, and then taking them to show them the apartment and our home. Really nice people, we enjoyed their company.

I think I will have to drop out of the online course I'm doing right now. I'm now 3 weeks behind due to all the travel and other things going on in my life, and it's stressing me out not to have time to do all the reading or the homework. So...I will take that load off me for now, and focus on the immediate needs here. Sometimes I have to give myself permission to slow down, a lesson Mexico keeps trying to teach me.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Pictures to go with the post below

After I posted today's blog, I took some pictures. Found everyone except Luna - she was out and about, not sure where. Here they are:

Negra with her pillow




Looks like a loooonnnngggg way down

No-name Kitty

Back to 'normal', if there is such a thing

I was away 11 days. I got back Thursday afternoon, and wow - it was cold! Cloudy skies, strong winds - I was wearing long sleeves and jeans and didn't break a sweat.

I arranged private transfer from the airport, and the hefe who was holding my sign called to "Gordo" ("Fatty") to let him know he had a passenger. When I saw "Gordo", I saw why he was called that, but I thought it was cruel. However, "Gordo" didn't seem to mind, and he flashed me a grin as he loaded my bags and took me off to Puerto Juarez. But I mentioned it to Miguel - why do they call people "Flaco" (Skinny) and "Gordo"? He said it is not meant to be offensive, it's just the costumbre (custom) here. I hope he's right. I've heard a lot of waiters called "Flaco", and they were not all skinny guys. Actually, nicknames are so common here that Miguel doesn't even know the 'real' name of a lot of the guys - just their nicknames. One mechanic is called Cepillo (Brush), another is called Pinto (Paint). One Albanil who worked here was called Cilantro, for his green shirt. And so it goes.

While I was away Miguel did an amazing job painting the new staircase (two levels). He also took care of all the animals, the plants, and the golf cart. We were both ready for an evening of downtime after almost two weeks of non-stop activity. I wanted to go pick up the kitten we'd left with Delfino, but decided to wait until Friday afternoon so I would have time to get it settled in and give the other cats enough attention to offset jealousy and anxiety over a new kitten.

So last night we went to pick up the kitten. It is always hard to go to the clinic because there are so many other animals there all needing a home. This time was no different. There were two dogs in cages that just went crazy when we walked into the room - jumping and barking and desperately trying to get attention. "Take Me" they seemed to be saying. There were lines of cages of cats - mother cats, kittens, and a large cage on the floor with 8-10 small kittens the same size as the one we were taking home. Many of those kittens gazed up as us too, and called out. Heart-breaking! To finish it off, there was a cage with a rabbit, and another with a baby anteater. And then wandering free inside the clinic were other cats and kittens, and one dog that Delfino found tied to the door when he got to work one day. Just left there by the owner, and waiting for someone to take him home.

I left the clinic with the kitten, but also with a heavy heart. I guess the spay and neutering clinics are making some sort of difference, but there are still way too many baby animals being born that nobody wants. Animals are not valued here like they are in my culture - I have to accept that but of all the things that bother me about living here, this issue is right at the top.

Miguel is Mexican, and has different views than I do about having animals here at the house (he believes they belong outside), but he does value the lives of animals - all animals. When we're out driving, if there is a dead iguana or bird (or any animal, for that matter), Miguel will stop and take the animal off the road so it is not just pounded into unrecognizable mulch. Miguel was very disturbed at the sight of all those poor animals in cages and it distrupted our sleep last night.

So we brought our little kitten home, and the only reason we did that for this kitten when we've left many others behind at the clinic, was because it was just one, and somehow I felt we needed to find a place for it here. The kitten is hardly any bigger now than it was 12 days before. It sat quietly in the cage in the middle of the living room floor while Loco cried and carried on and tried to open the cage to let it out. Minina and Luna both sniffed around the cage and hissed and growled and left the room. I took the kitten out for a bit but it didn't want to settle with me and Loco wouldn't stop pushing his nose into its body, so I put it back, and it seemed to fall asleep. When I checked later I saw that it had thrown up - probably too much bouncing around on the golf cart and from Loco's inspections.

The kitten spent the night in the back shed, with food, water, litter, and a bed and we didn't hear any fussing all night long. This morning the litter had been used and the kitten was starving, so I gave it some food and a little play time on the back terrace with Papa Loco in attendance, and now it is back in the shed for naptime.

Minina and Loco are sleeping on the blue sofa, Luna is out enjoying the sunshine, and Negra is back on her Ikea pad. The two grey kittens out in the street were both inside the neighbor's garbage bin, and they took off like bullets when I peered in at them. The black cat out in the street that looks like Minina was wandering down the road this morning. Miguel has finished his coffee and internet check, and is now dozing again on the sofa (we were up at 5 am today). I hope today will stay this peaceful!