Monday, December 31, 2012
It was hot enough for the iguanas to laze about on the sidewalks.
It was hot enough to lay out on the sand, fly a kite, ride a kiteboard, take a walk, or play with grandpa.
It was hot enough to just hang out with baby and chat in the breeze. 85 degrees Fahrenheit and high humidity is hot - and no snow in the forecast - ever.
Sunday, December 30, 2012
The five-fingered hand of a pelican at sunrise.
The dos lighthouses of Puerto Morelos and dos pelicanos, too.
Moments before sunrise on the beach - the clouds already illuminated.
Those of you who watch House Hunters International might recognize this building.
A woman enjoys the light of sunrise.
The yellow chaise awaits the human.
A young boy at the town pier.
Amy, Ian, and Luke awaiting dinner al fresco at a hole in the wall restaurant named "Tacos.Com." The sidewalk tables were filled when we arrived so they set up a table in the street for us - front row seats! Note the classic VW bug in the background - VW bugs are really popular around here, many are from the 60's and 70's, a few old VW buses too.
Midway through dinner the skies opened up with a tropical downpour so we picked up our plates and moved inside. I wonder what we would have done if there had been no empty tables inside?
It is one of a parent's worst nightmares - to be awakened at one o'clock in the morning by our son who can barely breathe due to swelling and inflammation in his throat. And his ability to breathe is getting worse by the minute. We are in a foreign country, it is late in the middle of the night, the nearest hospital is at least 40 minutes distant, we have no local phone service, and we don't really know where the hospital is other than in which town. So Ian, Amy, and I piled into the car and headed out for help.
We stopped at the local police station but they were closed. At the town square, we found a taxi driver who told us of a nearby open 24-hours medical office. So we made our way in the dark of night to the local neighborhood, the village of Los Pescadores, in this town of Puerto Morelos. We arrived in five minutes at a modest home in this quiet residential neighborhood. After ringing his doorbell a few times, we awakened and were greeted by Dr. Victor H. Ballesteros Q. He warmly invited us in. Amy and Ian's Spanish proficiency was very helpful as the doctor spoke only some English. He proceeded through his competent, calm, friendly and engaged manner, to quickly and efficiently address the problems.
I write this now a day later when remarkable progress and improvement is obvious. The photos were taken the next day during a follow-up visit.
Ian and Dr. Victor Ballesteros.
Sign advertising the location of his clinic.
His clinic and home.
So how do I properly say "thank you" to the man who helped us in our hour of critical need? By spreading far and wide the re-telling of this experience. To me, Dr. Victor Ballesteros exemplified the highest ideal of medical practice and I am so thankful for his talents on that dark and scary night. Thank you, Dr. Ballesteros, I am forever grateful to you.
Saturday, December 29, 2012
Three kilometers west of downtown Puerto Morelos, the area of "la Colonia" has the best fruit and vegetable markets with better prices than can be found in the beach area. There were three of these small markets within a few blocks of each other and even more smaller "tiendas" nearby as well - folks can only carry their goods so far. For comparison, in the United States, outside the main cities, the culture is so automobile-centered that the neighborhood market has mostly given way to large supermarkets centrally located for automotive convenience. It also seems that our fresh fruits and vegetables section has gotten smaller while the processed, prepared, and/or frozen foods sections have gotten larger - more convenience, longer shelf-life, and probably more profit. There were no freezer foods in this market - folks here live on fresh.
This is where the local people shop - fresh and plentiful products at an affordable price. Open air, kids laughing and playing, music blasting - not very many foreign tourists here and even fewer tall ones like me. Many shoppers have been coming in here most of their lives and know each other from their neighborhood.
A mountain of mouth-wateringly sweet mangos.
Crisp and ripe vegetables.
And always, lots of oranges.
This could be a market anywhere in the world except the presence of the large quantities of jalapeño and serrano peppers in the foreground suggests it is probably not in Massachusetts in New England.
It's different to live this way - seldom buying or opening jars or package wrappings - just fresh breads, tortillas, fruits, vegetables, and spices - but I still miss not having a nearby Trader Joe's! (For readers outside the USA, Trader Joe's is a quirky, small, and fun food market found in many of the states.)
Friday, December 28, 2012
This resort compound is a half mile walk north of where we're staying in Puerto Morelos. It's one of the few places that still has large palms close to the water. Many/most elsewhere were damaged in the 2005 hurricane. I chose to photograph here on a windy, cool, early morning so I wouldn't look like a dirty old man. It's a clothing optional resort and most of the guests seem to exercise the option - some look like they probably shouldn't have done so - but that's just one man's opinion.
A private beach compound.
These condos are an unusual design for the beachfront in this town - know locally as Starwars.
I'm guessing but, I think this house was built after the damage from Hurricane Wilma in 2005. It has concrete floors, walls, decks, railings, chimney, roof, eaves - I don't know what the inside looks like but I can guess it feels mighty safe to stay there.
The first footprint in freshly sifted and cleaned sand. The town does this daily along the beach. A tractor scoops up any debris, man-made or otherwise and leaves fluffy soft sand.
Thursday, December 27, 2012
This is the main avenue in town where we are staying. It and two others parallel the shore between the sea and the mangrove swamps - it's a small and narrow town. Walking around in the cool of the morning, I notice lots of varied styles of doorways. Many folks have walled front private courtyards with either beautiful, fanciful, whimsical, or practical doorways.
This one was just built while we have been here. It was a gaping opening, then the craftsmen put up concrete block, covered it with stucco/concrete and installed the framing and doors. Just some finish work remains.
This one opens into the shade of a private palapa.
This one provides some security but also openness and visibility.
And this one - for those who like the sleek, ultra-modern look.
But as they say in real estate, location, location, location always wins - even with simple weathered wood and woven sticks - thirty steps to the water is hard to beat.
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Whether breakfast, lunch, or dinner, our Christmas feast is much like others days - all the above (except the cake) with the addition of rice, beans, squash, peppers, and tortillas. I now classify homemade guacamole as a breakfast food, too - tastes great spread on fresh bread! (So does Nutella , long known as one of our special just-on-vacation foods). To make the Felíz Navidad cake pictured, Amy asked the nice woman at a neighborhood panadería and she made it to order just for us - it's not vegan, but it sure was tasty!
Christmas was warm and sunny here and it was necessary to punctuate the day with occasional sessions of snorkeling, swimming, or sunning. Water temp 78-80 degrees Fahrenheit, air temp the same. I could get used to this..............if fact, I am.
Tuesday, December 25, 2012
Christmas eve on the main plaza.
Caroling on Christmas eve.
Sunrise walk on Christmas morning - barefoot and shorts, I like that.
Looks like most of the fishermen are home with their families this morning.
This "fisherman" never takes a day off.
A sunrise nap - looks like a peaceful way to start the day......
Monday, December 24, 2012
It sure has been windy here the last few days - it's blowing everything around including our sunrise palapa.
The north end of town is mostly quiet and residential, serenaded by the constant pounding of the surf on the reef a few hundred meters off-shore. Although we've seen some license plates on cars from the United States (a very long drive), my unscientific opinion is that this is first and foremost, a vacation town for many native Mexicans who live near here, or have first or second homes here.
This doesn't really look or feel like Christmas eve in the places where I've spent all my life. It is hot here - low 80's Fahrenheit - local folks are out enjoying the beach and the sun - and they've done that every day we've been here so far! They exhibit a "joie de vivre," or should I say, "alegría de la vida," that makes me envious. There are gringos here both on the beach and out and about but they are very much the minority population.
Walking the beach for Christmas - it's better than a wrapped gift box under the tree - and that white stuff in the foreground is definitely not fallen snow.
Sunday, December 23, 2012
This is one of the many things that makes Mexico such a pleasure to experience. Today, we were attracted outside our house by a loud voice coming from a pick-up-truck-mounted-loudspeaker blaring out in rapid Spanish the name of the fresh fruits he carried for sale: "naranja, piña, papaya, mango..." and others I couldn't quite understand in his rapid-fire speech. He was driving along slowly and his two young sons were in the covered back with boxes of fruit for sale.
Saturday, December 22, 2012
So this is it, after climbing 120 steps, I'm standing calmly atop this ancient pyramid structure, Nohoc Mul, built by the Mayans more than a thousand years ago at Cobá on the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. The foreboding storm clouds gather - some say the end of times might be near but, alas, I think not. I do see some people wearing an odd choice of clothing for the climb up a 42-meter high pyramid - long dresses, sandals, lots of people in plastic flip-flops you normally wear at the beach.
Since time hasn't stopped, I guess I'll just get on about my business and finish this blog post.
We arrived early morning before the crowds and buses and at one point, I was the only human on top of the pyramid. But it got busier with each passing hour. It was great to have a mostly overcast sky - it kept the heat at bay for our entire visit. (Click on the panorama above for full screen view).
Some folks marked the end of the Mayan calendar cycle event with arms outstretched to the sky......
...and some captured the event by camera, not sure if posterity would exist to ever view it.....
...and some captured the moment in the bloom of love.......
...and some, with the humor of a dated t-shirt - December 21, 2012.
Some joined hands and prayed together in an unknown tongue.....
... some wore robes......
....and this native Mayan bowed his head in private prayer. It was a good day for all - end of times or not.
So, how do you get there? The access to Nohoc Mul is via a well-traveled path a few kilometers away from the parking lot/entrance area.
Bicycles are available to rent for those who want one.
And pedi-cabs can be hired for the injured, infirm, old, tired, or just plain lazy.
But most just walk. Here's the approach to the pyramid Nohoc Mul. It is one of the very few remaining where humans are still allowed to walk up to the top of it.
The human ants climbing upward.
The obligatory family portrait. (Notice the sensible footwear - alert - old man in socks).
It's a steep climb - many young folks charge up non-stop.
But others stop to rest.
And some lend a helping hand.
Meanwhile, elsewhere on the property, there are thousands of other ruins, very few of which have been excavated. This is a Mayan ball court.......(click on this panorama to view full width)
....and a dead end corridor with a tree taking root above.....
.......and a walk-through corridor.....
...and always, some modern day body art against the background of time-worn steps....
...and a young Mayan child in traditional body art and attire.
Cobá is a wonderful place to visit. Imagine a thriving population thousands of years ago, carving out a life from this sparse soil in the hot and humid climate and then building these great structures with brawn and brain.
.... the sinister looking tour buses have arrived to disgorge their human cargo so it is time to find a bathroom and then depart...
....and hopefully, there would be bathrooms with toilet seats as this shop proudly offers.
I'm glad the world didn't end today - all things considered, it's most often a wonderful place to be.