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Thursday, February 07, 2013

Is it Wednesday or Thursday?

Hard to keep track of the days when you have nothing to do. Well almost nothing. I had to think of what I wanted for breakfast and then I had to decide if I wanted to stay at the beach for an extra hour or two. Tough decisions.
Sorry for any typing mistakes in these posts. The spell check in not working and I don't want to spend a lot of time checking typing mistakes.
Yesterday Bena and Zaman went to Chichen Itza  for the day. They had to leave Isla on the 6:30am ferry to get the bus at Puerto Juarez in Cancun. We already went there a few years ago with Mike and Joan so we didn't want to do a return trip. They said the experience was great and they learned a lot.
Robin and I stayed at the hotel and after moving rooms (I have a particular room I like and requested but it's occupied so we are in the one next door and Bena and Zaman are two doors down from us. I worked on my manuscript edits from Arlene (aren't you proud of me Arlene that I am working on my vacation)? I finished all of it. Robin is doing his edits so I'll have some more to do when he is done. He suggested that the Foreword is too long so I've now separated it into a Foreward and an Introduction. I still have to write an Afterword since the manuscript does not seem to be complete. I'll work on that soon.
In the evening, we went to the ferry terminal to wait for them but we saited from 6:30pm till 8pm and they didn't arrive so we went off to La Negrita (almost a hole in the wall). Manuel remembered us and greeted us warmly. We had guacamole and tortilla chips, two extra large glasses of sorrel drinks (yummy for those of you who are Guyanese) that they call Jamaica (pronounced Ham-ai-ca). Then we had a whole fried fish (grouper) which was absolutely delish with some fresh lime juice and fresh salsa piquante with lots of cilantro and my absolute favourite - fried half-ripe plantains. Dinner cost us a whole $20 for two people including tips! The food was so good that alas, I had to pass on a slice of leche flan (similar to a creme caramel) or some Churros. When we returned to the hotel, we saw Bena's room light but they had come back and gone out for dinner. They arrived back a bit later and we had a chat before retiring for the night.
This morning I got up and went for a 90 minute walk. It was blistering hot by the time I returned and it took about an hour for the redness in my face to subside. I continued to glisten (the women in our family DO NOT sweat; we glisten) for several hours. We had a light snack of fruit, yogurt and coffee and then went off to Alexa's for a full breakfast of omlettes and fried plantains - again! The breakfast cost us about $22 for the four of us. Then it was off to the beach till around 3pm. Shower, dress and find a place for dinner (we had some snacks on the beach but no lunch). It seems all we are doing is eating but the fruits are so good, that it's hard not to think about eating all the time.
We'll try a different restaurant tonight but it's hard to decide where to go when there are so many good ones to choose from. Pretty well all of the restaurants serve wonderful food so you can buy a nice dinner for $30 per person or you can try what looks like a non-descript place and have the same great food for $30 for four people. We're choosing the $30 for 4 people option and using our money in other ways. Tomorrow we are going to Isla Contoy which is how I prefer to use my money. Then on Saturday it's an hour's massage on the beach. Yeah. This is doable. 
sandra

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Beach morning; afternoon siesta; Rooftop dinner under the stars

We had a great start to our day. Zaman, Bena and I got up, made ourselves a cup of coffee each and headed to the seawall about 7:30am. Zaman took his Kobo and sat by the beach reading and Bena and I went for a long walk along the seawall and when the wall ended, we joined the sidewalk. It took us about an hour to go and come back.

We had our showers and the four of us had breakfast outside our room in the courtyard area. We had some freshly squeezed orange juice,  yogurt, fresh papaya and some power blend cereal that Bena brought with her, coffee and a bun and some cheese from the Oaxaca region. The hotel does not have a restaurant so all the food we are eating is bought and prepared by us in our room.

Bena and I went off to the North Beach for a couple of hours of swim, sand and sun. Then back to the hotel for another shower and off we went to the market where there are some lovely little restaurants that serve breakfast and lunch. I like to go to Alexa and Geovanny's. We all had chicken quesadillas and tamarind drinks for lunch with a big bowl of guacamole. Then it was back to the hotel for a siesta.

This evening we went to buy some tours for Chichen Itza for Bena and Zaman for tomorrow. Robin and I already went so we are going to hang out at the beach tomorrow while they go off on their little adventure which is about 12 hours to go and return. We also bought tickets for the four of us to go to Isla Contoy which is a biodiverse bird and turtle sanctuary about 28 kms from Isla Mujeres by boat. That will be a full day activity as well.  We booked a massage for each of us for Saturday.

This evening, we were deciding where to go for dinner so we checked out a couple of places. There are many good places to eat so the hardest decision to make each day is where to eat. And there seems to be several more new places since we were last here two years ago. We finally decided on a little place that sells grilled meat in a pita. The smell was so yummy when we were passing that we decided on that place but Bena had a great idea. She said that we should buy the pitas and take it back to the hotel for a rooftop dinner. The Carmelina has an open rooftop where they hang out laundry during the day but is  great place to be stargazing at night. So we bought our pitas and I made a huge bowl of fresh guacamole and we took that and some chips, wine, beer and orange juice (for me) and had a wonderful feast under the stars.

Bena and Zaman have now retired to their room for the night because they have a 6:30am start to their day tomorrow. I think I am now ready for a cup of green tea and bed. It's been a long relaxing day and more of the same tomorrow.

sandra

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Happy Birthday to me and Dad; off to Mexico

My birthday was a couple days ago and Dad's was yesterday. He would have been 82. Several family and friends called and emailed on Feb. 1 and 2 for my birthday. I've been so used to acknowledging both days, I am going to claim them both and I'm sure that Dad won't mind.

For my day, I worked on cleaning off my desk and emails in preparation for 11 days in Isla Mujeres. I am looking forward to some warm, if not hot, weather. The coldest day of winter was on my birthday with a temperature of -32C and a windchill of -42C. I would normally be complaining about the cold but since I am now at the airport in Toronto on the first leg of the trip, I am feeling good that I can leave the cold weather behind. Bena and Zaman will be meeting us there today and they'll spend the whole time with us.

I don't have any plans for the time there . The last time I was there two years ago, I was working on my focus group notes for my dissertation. A few days ago, I was thinking back on that trip and thought that it was only last year but two years have passed very quickly. Last year rushed by so quickly that I can hardly believe what a whirl it was. I will do some edits of my manuscript based on Arlene's feedback. It's good to have someone who knows me but is not familiar with many of the events that I wrote about so she can see areas where I need to clarify or provide more information. This is a learning experience for both of us. Besides the manuscript, I am writing a recipe book which is about 2/3 done. I have to add some more recipes and pictures but I am in no hurry with deadlines. That's a work in progress so whenever I have time, I work on it.

My routine in Isla is this: I wake up, get dressed, make myself a cup of coffee and go to the seawall which is about a minute and a half to walk. Then I watch the sunrise and the tide go out. Then I go for an hour's walk along the seawall. Then back to the hotel for breakfast (any of fresh fruit that I pick up from the market, fresh buns which I get from the supermarket, cheese, yogurt or granola which I get from a small cafe). We usually eat this on the veranda of the Carmelina. Then it's off to the North Beach for a couple of hours to sit under a coconut tree and read a good book. I brought two with me - Healing Remedies and the Vagina Monologues.

At lunch time, we either go to the local market which serves really good lunches or we buy a roasted chicken with rice, corn tortillas and re-fried beans and go back to the hotel to eat that. Then it's time for a siesta - nap, reading, writing or check my email. Then it's a snack in the late afternoon of guacamole which I make. We sit on the veranda and enjoy the people walking by. I might go back to the beach to sit for an hour or so and continue reading or I just listen to the waves crashing on the seawall. If you grew up by the ocean, you'll know how cathartic the sound and smell of the ocean is to soothe your mind.

In the evening, we go off to have dinner at any one of the wonderful restaurants that are on the island. I like Rolandi's for their fresh and utterly tasty caprese salad and their thin crust vegetarian or shrimp pizza with pesto sauce (that's what I ask for). Yummy. We also like La Negrita where Manuel serves the tastiest fried plantains. Or we also like Cockteleria Justicia Social which is a co-op. The fishermen catch the fish and bring it to the restaurant and depending on what they catch, that's what the restaurant serves. The fish is wonderful and fresh and the shrimp civeche is the best you can get on the island. The night is not done there. We usually go back to the seawall for an evening walk or sit and on the way, we get a coffee and a laeche flan or some churros. The woman who sells the leche flan knows when she sees me that I will be buying one of those. I know it's not safe to eat from the street vendors but if you taste her leche flan (similar to creme caramel), you'll understand why I dismiss that caution. So far, I have not been sick from the food in Isla but I suppose there is always a first time.

Soooo, where am I going to eat tonight when I arrive? What will my day be like tomorrow? Where shall we go for dinner? Maybe one question at a time. I don't want to overwork my little grey cells (as Hercule Poirot would say). Come back tomorrow or the next day to see what did. Hasta manana.

sandra