Thursday, March 19, 2009

Just a little stress

It's all a blur. Weekend guests here for just one full day, barely enough for them to get settled before they had to leave again. One day to prepare the room for the next guests. The same night I started sorting through all the stuff in the dining room - stuff for year-end, stuff that didn't really have a place yet, stuff that will be used one day, just not in the near future. Some might call it clutter. With family coming the following weekend, I knew we'd need the table and vowed to get it cleared off - in an organized fashion so I wouldn't just be moving it from one place to the next. I mostly succeeded.

Then our overnight guests arrived, the day the water stopped flowing from the street. A half-full pool filled with leaves from the strong winds we'd had. A half-full pool with water that was murky due to the sand that came in the water supply from Cancun just before they shut us down. A pool we couldn't clean or fill up. A disappointment for our guests. But they enjoyed the bed and the breakfast even if they couldn't sit in the jacuzzi.

The guests forgot a t-shirt. I knew where they were staying, so after filling up the cart with gas, we stopped by and figured out which unit they were in and left the shirt lying on the patio table, secured by a conch shell.

Crunch time now. Family arriving Friday and Saturday and our closets and drawers are still stuffed with our clothes. We moved the dresser downstairs, and I began sorting through piles of clothes, deciding what still fits and looks decent, what still fits and might be worn for dirty chores, what still fits but is basically so horrible that it just needs to go into the garbage (i.e., the shorts with a hole in the back and worn out elastic that keep falling down - Trash!). Decent stuff that I like but know I am not going to wear go into a pile for donation. And then the pile of clothes we need to pack for our trip to Norway. Warm clothes that we'll never wear here and I have no idea where I'll put them when we get back. We don't have enough drawers to hold all our clothes downstairs, they sit in small piles in the bedroom waiting for me to figure out how we're going to organize. My daughter arrived on Friday night with a large duffle bag stuffed with my Canada clothes. I can't even bear to open the bag. Living in two countries I've basically got a double wardrobe, and now am trying to consolidate into just one. I have too much stuff, and too many clothes, and it takes time to go through it all and decide what I will use here and what I won't. We are buried in clothes!

It would be easier to just get rid of it all and start over, but the thrifty part of my personality says that money isn't growing on our trees outside, my job is not secure, and my clothes may need to last me for a few years. So if it fits and is useful, I should keep it. Those who know me know that I am not in the least concerned about whether it will be fashionable in a few years. That's one thing about living here and not going to an office for work - I can wear what I like, what feels comfortable, and not care in the least if it is an outdated look or not.

I simply do-not-care.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Digging up from the past

I was looking at files on my computer and came across something I'd written almost 3 years ago to the day (March 18, 2006). I probably wrote this blurb to post on a message board (since I was not into blogging then, didn't even know what a blog was 3 years ago). In reading through what I'd written, I found some things are still the same, and some things have changed. I've put a strike-through on those things that no longer apply, and added words that tell how it is at this moment. Take a peek...
Living on Isla reminds me of growing up in the late 50’s. Life seemed simple then (and probably was, since I was just a kid with no responsibilities). Here’s what I recollect of that era, and how Isla reminds me of those childhood memories…

Every day on Isla is summer. I loved summer as a child – bare feet, bathing suits, running through the hose, sweet flower blossoms, birds and bees and butterflies, picnics, playing outdoors, digging in the dirt, getting caught in the rain, puddles, sitting on the curb doing absolutely nothing, riding my bike and going nowhere in particular.

On Isla, my favourite shoe is a cheap flip-flop flip-flop Croc. My ever-expanding garden is alive with flowers, birds, bees, and butterflies…and iguanas and little lizards. The iguanas have names, and they live in their own holes in the top of the unfinished garden concrete block wall, where they hang out all day soaking up the sun. In the garden, plants are flourishing, and some are in various stages of attempted reproduction. Seeds have been planted, and each day we Miguel eagerly looks for signs of new growth. Sometimes the dog has decided that fresh soil is a good place to sleep and has totally disrupted the growth cycle of the seedlings. Or sometimes he decides that he is going to help, and pulls the cuttings out of the pots and chews them up. And then sometimes, a seed pops up where you don’t remember planting one – like the morning glory! Every morning we make a bet how many flowers will be there to greet the day (up to an average of 15 new blooms each morning now!) – the loser has to make the coffee.

There is a dog living at my house. He came uninvited after Hurricane Emily and decided that my house is where he was going to live, despite efforts to discourage him from moving in. When we locked the front gate on him so he would go back to wherever he came from, he simply squeezed in under the gate and settled on the patio, and I think he was laughing at us. Loco was here to stay, he had made up his mind about that! Now he is the block clown – a goofy dog who delights in racing around the neighbourhood street in front of the house playing with any selective dogs or cats that will participate. I am reminded of the days when I was a kid and dogs were allowed to be free. A free dog develops a social network with other dogs – they play together and defend each other when strangers threaten one of the gang. Loco’s routine is to run down the street looking for his buddies every morning, greeting them like they are long lost friends stay close to home unless it’s just to go down to the corner where he checks the rocks for an iguana. He marks his territory and also marks where he’s been just in case another dog is looking for him. If he’s feeling hot after a romp with a buddy, he heads down to the lagoon for a dip (but He HATES his bath at home!). And despite the fact that he is well-fed at home, he is still interested in sampling the (?) tasty garbage that other animals have infiltrated during the night (although he no longer brings those treats back home).

I don’t have a bicycle yet, but I do have a golf cart – one with a personality. Limey has staying power – he is ancient for a golf cart, and has regular scheduled and unscheduled trips to the mechanic every few weeks. Somehow Larry Roberto (my mechanic) always gets him back on his feet again, at very little varying cost. Loco (the dog – so named because he truly is crazy) loves riding on Limey; he has now figured out that the jingle of the keys me picking up my purse usually means that someone is heading out on Limey, and he smacks open the screen door and races to be first on the cart. Sometimes Limey starts right away, other times he has to be coaxed – Loco never loses patience waiting for that engine to ‘roar’ to life – and it’s always sort of a surprise so you have to be holding on in case Limey is going to take off on this particular try.

My favourite thing to do on Limey is just drive around the island – no particular destination, no reason, and Loco loves it too. Sometimes he just sits quietly on the floor facing forward enjoying the view, other times he puts his feet on the front hood, with ears flapping in the breeze and nose taking in all the good (I assume) smells. It’s a carefree, lazy way to spend an hour or so, and makes me feel like a kid again.

I love observing the kids on Isla - they play the way I used to play – with very little structure but lots of neighbourhood friends. They are free to be outside without an adult hovering over them all the time. They can just sit on a curb and daydream, or pick up a stick and poke it in a puddle, or walk around the block doing nothing in particular.

The magic of Isla is destined to change. Progress is change…and much of the progress is desired by the people of the island. In many ways it will make their lives ‘better’, by someone’s definition of ‘better’. I’m sure I will not like some of the change, but for now I’m enjoying the feeling of being a kid back in the 50’s again. And I’ve figured out that, for me, THAT is much of the charm of Isla!
P.S. One of the non-charms about Isla is that WE STILL DON'T HAVE ANY WATER!!!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I need a bath

Did I miss a hurricane or something? Why else would the water from the city have been turned off for 36 hrs or more? Not only do I need a bath, I have laundry to do and floors to mop. Miguel has a pool to clean and top up, and plants to water. Thank goodness we do not have guests here or at the apartment in La Gloria, because we probably don't have enough water for them.

We are in water hoarding mode. The water in the tub is from yesterday morning's bath (oh, it was such a nice bath too). I saved the bath water because on Monday I detected a leak in the toilet tank (water on the floor was my first clue). I shut off the water supply to the tank, which meant we could not flush the toilet. So we've been using the bath water to force-flush the toilet.

Little did I know that even though the toilet is now fixed, we may be close to running out of the supply from our rooftop tanks and we'll need that water in the tub for flushing again.

This weekend my family arrives for vacation. I would really like to clean the house before they get here, and I will be very upset if they cannot use our pool, take a shower, or flush.

I guess I should be happy we have two tanks on the roof because even though it's a surprise to turn on the hose and find nothing coming out, at least we have a reserve. There are some people who do not have tanks, and when the water just suddenly stops running as it did yesterday, those people are simply out of luck.

We had a water problem at this time last year, but it never lasted for this long - usually just part of the day (which was bad enough!). Part of the problem last year was that the pressure from the street was so bad at times that even though we had water coming from the hose, it did not have enough pressure to push it up to the tanks on the roof. We fought the water battle on and off for weeks, switching from tanks to street water and back again as the supply permitted. It dragged on so long and was such a hassle that Miguel finally installed a pump to push the water up to the tanks. However, that doesn't help when there's simply no water to be pushed up. We're stuck until the water comes on again.

I can't imagine what it might be like for hotels and other rental properties. I hope they have lots of reserves, or there will be a lot of smelly people here.

What is the cause of this water problem? I don't know, but last year I felt that it was due to all the construction and cement work (they need water to mix cement). The only day that wasn't a problem was Sundays, when the cement workers were off. For the last several weeks we've had intermittent times where the water has been shut off, but they've been working on the pipelines so we thought it was due to that. Perhaps it's due to an increased demand in Cancun for spring break. Perhaps it's due to increased construction. Perhaps I'll never really know the cause.

All I know is that I hope the darn water starts flowing any minute now as I'm tired of going out every hour or so and looking for a trickle, any sign that someone recognizes that we don't have any water and it's a royal pain in the rear.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Just some things I'll never know

I don't really have a topic to write about, we've just been living life. But here are a few little tidbits from the last few days.

On Saturday we went to Cancun to run a few errands. We decided to call Luis, our taxi driver, at the last minute to see if he could pick us up at the ferry. With just 10 minutes notice, Luis wasn't there when we got out to the street. Miguel said something, handed me his newspaper and walked across the street, where he proceeded to push a car, singlehandedly, down the road. Several times the car just came to an abrupt jerking stop, and the driver asked Miguel to push again. As Miguel kept on pushing, out of breath and running out of strength, Luis showed up, and he grinned watching his customer hard at work. Luis and I hopped in the taxi, and when I looked back, someone else was lending a hand pushing the car. The next time I looked back, Miguel was huffing and puffing his way back across the street, and the car was nowhere in sight. It was one of those times that I'll never know the outcome, because it was 'guy' time to talk about strength, muscles, etc, and nobody was listening to me. All I wanted to know was what happened...why did the guy need a push, and where did he go and how did the car suddenly just drive off? I'll never know...

Our first stop was the bank, where Miguel had some business to conduct. We were in and out so fast that Luis was still cleaning out his car when we came back. As we backed out of the parking space, over the sidewalk and to the street, there was a loud bang and we stopped dead. We looked behind us - nothing. We looked around us - nothing. It seemed like we had driven over a curb or something, but undaunted, Luis just hit the gas and we continued backing up. After we got sorted out on the street, we saw what had happened. A cement top over a hole in the sidewalk had given way leaving a large hole. We were lucky a tire hadn't gone all the way down or we'd have been lifting the car out. A missed opportunity for the guys to show off their strength and then boast about it in the car. Luis seemed unperturbed and didn't even stop to check under the car. Maybe he peeked at our next stop when we weren't looking. I'll never know...

As we drove to our next stop, we entered one of the round-abouts at the same time as a bus from the left side of the car. I held my breath as the bus came within a whisker of Luis' door and then they both took the curve and found their own lane. Luis was chatting with Miguel and never even paused. It takes guts to be a taxi driver in Cancun. Actually, it sort of takes guts to be a passenger.

On Sunday we took a tour on the golf cart and headed down Sac Bajo. Just at the section that curves steeply to the right, with a dip that always makes me lean to the left, we came across a moped that was stopped in the middle of the road. There were two men squatting over the road poking at something. As we drove past we saw that there was a hole the size of a fist right through the blacktop, and it looked hollow underneath. I wonder if that part of the road will be put on a list for repair fairly soon before someone falls through. I'll never know...

On the way back from the end of Sac Bajo, we were being tailed by a golf cart full of beer-drinking tourists, and they were laughing and weaving with two mopeds alongside. Miguel pulled over to let them all pass us, and as they did, one of the guys on one of the mopeds pulled abreast of the golf cart and threw a shoe at the driver. The shoe fell to the road and they all continued on their way, driving very recklessly. I pondered - was the driver too cool to stop and go back for the shoe? Did the shoe belong to the driver of the moped? How could someone just give up a shoe like that? (I'm sure the drinking played a part). As we started driving again, we were passed by a police car, and I was hoping they would do something to stop the drinking and careless driving we were witnessing.

As we reached Playa Lancheros we saw that the police had pulled both mopeds over and were talking to the drivers. I noted that everyone had two shoes. Just a bit up the road the golf cart was pulled over, waiting for their buddies. Everyone on the golf cart had two shoes too. Maybe they stole the shoe from someone else? Just another thing I'll never know...

I can relate

Some days the stage is set for a bad mood, often triggered by a bunch of little things that pile up and irritate the heck out of us.

I suspect the chimp in this story was having such a day...

Angry Chimp

Some days I know how he feels...

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Highlighting a Blog - Jamqueen

I've never met Jamqueen. I believe her real name is Ann. I hope it is, because that's what I call her when I comment on her posts.

Ann's blog is full of pictures of nature and scenery. She is a pro at the macro shot - flowers, butterflies, insects. She recently did a neat blog with a slideshow of butterflies.

Ann's yard seems to be the perfect setting to feed her interest in flowers and wildlife. She lives in a part of the country that celebrates all four seasons, offering lots of photo opportunities. I can't say I miss the snow, but if I did, all I'd have to do would be to jump over to Ann's blog and there would be some photos of what winter looks like.

If you love nature, you'll enjoy Ann's blog. Take a look.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Sounds in the Street

I spend a great deal of time sitting in the living room (my unofficial office), feeding my senses while I work. I face the front door, and have a lovely view of the garden and hedge. I listen to the birds chirping, and the breeze delivers the soft fragrance of oleander, plumeria, and gardenia. I couldn't ask for a nicer work space.

The hedge blocks my view of the street, and it blocks the view from the street, providing privacy to our home. There are many things going on in the street, and I like to try to figure out what is going on without getting up and looking.

A big truck comes by, and I hear the sound of the trash can being picked up and dumped. I always try to beat the garbage truck, having all our trash out at the curb by 6 am so it is taken away the same day and not sitting there waiting for an animal to tear the bags apart. We have a lot more trash pick-up than we ever had, and they come by most days. Sometimes the workers are singing, making an unpleasant job a lot more enjoyable.

A taxi stops in front of the house, signalling the pick-up or return of the family next door, or some visitors for the family. Sometimes the taxi is delivering workers for the tower across the street, as it did late last night. From the bits and pieces of conversation we were able to overhear, Miguel gathered they were there to repair the a/c (I didn't even know they had a/c).

All kinds of mopeds stop in front of the house looking for Miguel. They either beep their horn or call "Capi", over and over until he either responds or they decide he is not here.

Sometimes a car or moped stops for no obvious reason. Are they looking at the pile of wood under the tree and trying to decide if there is anything there they need? Do they have to relieve their bladder? Did they stop to talk on the phone, or to eat, or to make out?

Occasionally I spot people walking by the house...shuffling feet, clomping feet, running feet, depending on the urgency of the journey. Sometimes they are talking. Like this morning - the daughter said it was Thursday and the mother insisted it was Wednesday. "No hija, es miercoles", the mother declared. Well, I wonder if she will apologize to her daughter when she learns she is wrong.

When the wild cats want to let us know they're waiting for their food, they gently call. The baby is the one who usually makes the noise - Miguel says the adult tells the baby to go into the garden and call the humans because he is small and cute and the humans can't bear the thought of the baby being hungry. The adult is right, because this is one of the few noises that gets me up quickly, because if I don't feed them when they're around, they may go off and not come back until the next day.

Some evenings the tamale lady comes to the front gate, and knowing we usually buy her tamales, she calls over and over until we respond.

There are times I'm sitting on the couch with the front door open and someone is out in the street calling "Buenos Dias". I may be in the middle of something or on a conference call, in which case I choose to ignore the caller. The owner of the voice calls out many times over the few minutes they are standing out there. Although they cannot see me, they see that the door is open and that is a sign to them that there is someone lurking around somewhere. Finally they give up and move on.

I'm not the only one listening to the noises in the street. Loco and Negra are always on alert, although sometimes Loco is sleeping when Negra decides there is something out there we need to know about and he is late to join in. Sometimes the dogs bark for things I don't care about - other dogs, cats, or just some silly noise they heard that they think is cause for alarm.

The other night we were in bed and heard people speaking loudly across the street. We didn't bother to get up, but Miguel could tell from the conversation that the people had stopped under the tree and were sitting in the two camp chairs we placed out at the curb for trash pickup. We had cleaned out the shed and decided that the chairs were ready for the trash - worn and rusty and covered in cat hair. We had a little chuckle as we thought about the people getting home and discovering the back of their shorts covered in fur. We also expected the chairs to be gone by morning. But a testiment to how ready the chairs were for the trash - they have been there since Monday morning and not even the garbage men have taken them. Finally today Miguel put one chair on top of the garbage can - we'll see if they take it now.

As I wrap up this post, I am listening to the solitary parrot who flies past our house in the mornings and evenings. The parrot talks away to himself as there are no others around to respond. He seems to be mad because his chatter is quite animated and loud, and he goes on and on as he flies overhead. Around 5:15 tonight he'll be back...yelling all the way.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

I don't get it

Miguel and I don't smoke. Never did, never will. We also don't use drugs. Never did, never will. People who use drugs, people who sell drugs, and people who smuggle drugs are causing a lot of trouble in our world.

Mexico is getting a lot of press over the problems it is having dealing with the drug issue. President Calderon has his hands more than full trying to control and conquer illegal activites related to drugs.

Although drug smuggling is a world-wide problem, it appears that Mexico's particular problem is mostly due to the fact that the market for illegal drugs is north of its border and Mexico is in the middle of the source and the destination.

Northern border areas of Mexico are being reported as dangerous. There are fears that one area is failing in its fight and will fall to the control of the drug lords. There are fears that Mexico as a country may fail.

When a drug cache is discovered, the amount of drugs (and money) that represents stuns me. And that's only what was found - so that means there is a whole lot more out there that is not uncovered and is sold to drug users. How can there be that much market for something that is so bad for you (and society)? Who has all this cash to pay to use this stuff and why would they want to waste their money on it?

Some explain it by saying that when you tell someone not to do something, they are even that more determined to do it, regardless of whether it's good for them or not. Someone I know feels that people who work really hard need drugs in order to cope with the grind. Someone I know feels that people who serve and have served in the military need drugs to ease their minds of what they have experienced through their service in the military. Someone I know feels that some people have such horrible lives that they need drugs to get them through. (these 'someones' do not use drugs).

I guess I'm a black and white thinker on this. Using drugs is illegal, it's bad for you, and it is causing a lot of trouble. I just don't get why people are interested in taking drugs, or wasting their money on something so worthless. But I don't drink either, so I guess there is some attraction that I just am not understanding.

It feels to me like the chicken and the egg - which comes first? If the demand is not there, there will not be a need for the supply, right? it that if the suppply is not there, the demand won't be there?

I don't know the solution, it's beyond my capability to understand all the dynamics. If people want to do something that hurts only them, have at it. But this problem hurts everyone.

So here I am, watching and hoping that others more capable can get it figured out. Mexico is such a beautiful country and it does not deserve what is happening to it for the sake of drugs.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Windy or What?

Wow - I haven't heard howling like this in the house since the last hurricane (Wilma, 2005).

This morning started out lovely, and I couldn't resist taking my book into the hammock on the front terrace. Naturally, the reading didn't last long and I curled up with a couple of pillows and tried to take a nap.

I noticed the wind sounded noisy, yet it was hardly stirring anything at the front of the house. That means the wind was coming from behind the house - a Norte. I gave up on the nap and went inside. The laundry on the back line was dancing wildly. The cats were out there too and scurried in when I opened the door. The wind had a bite!

We went out later in the afternoon and I was glad to have my windbreaker on because I was freezing. We drove along the coast and the sand was whipping into our eyes too. I felt sorry for the tourists - we passed some people on golf carts and a few were wrapped in towels and blankets. I was wishing I had my blanket; the temperature is 15C/60F and with the wind factor, it probably feels about 10 degrees colder.

Only good thing about this - the laundry dried quickly. When I went out to take in the last of the laundry, both Minina and Maya followed me out and they had a great time chasing the leaves around the terrace. In fact, Maya was having such a great time she didn't want to come in; I had to pick her up and bring her in.

Tonight we'll sleep in the bedroom downstairs as it will be quieter. With the door closed to keep out the animals and to drown out the howling, the room is like a little cave. Cozy and warm. A hot bath might feel great too - with lots of bubbles and a book. I think I'll do that right now!