Sunday, September 28, 2008

Arrests in Morelia Bombing

Three men have been arrested for the Independence Day bombing in Morelia, Michoacan. As suspected, they are members of the gulf coast cartel "The Zetas". The men have confessed and report that their actions were meant to provoke the government, not as a direct threat against anyone in particular. The men claim they did not mean to hurt anyone, that their instructions were to launch the grenades in an area with no people but that they panicked and threw the weapons into a crowded area.

The actions of these three men and the people they work for took the lives of eight people, injured a hundred more and has put fear into the hearts of people across Mexico.

The English news story can be found here.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Two Tulum Resorts Closed

The rumours have been abundant since PROFEPA started closing hotels in Tulum in July, the big question from many people being whether Dreams Tulum would be affected. I've received many emails with questions about this and I really knew nothing about it, rumours only, but I've just read the breaking news that Dreams has indeed been closed today for environmental infractions. Another large resort, the Eurostar Blue has also received notice that 85% of the hotel will be closed. This brings the total number of closures to 14, with the likelihood of more to come.

Please read the full story here in Spanish and a rough English translation here.

Edited to add: Two more sources this morning, Novedades and El Periodico de Quintana Roo.

If You Don't Like It, Leave

In my five years of living in Mexico I've been pretty active on the message boards (and more recently the blogs) for foreigners living here. One of the things I've noticed is that as soon as a foreigner says anything negative about the country, people will jump on them, "If you don't like it, leave" is the common theme, often with much stronger language than that. This is the response whether the person has complained about the food, the culture, the living conditions, way of life or current events.

I am not by nature a complainer. I think my blog is pretty darned positive about my life in Mexico and that is why I was surprised to receive the "why don't you leave" email yesterday in regards to my last post about the news items that I have been reading. I don't believe that the post was a complaint, nor a criticism, it was simply reporting the current events of the day. The person who emailed me suggested that as a foreigner I can never understand the culture or politics (or the gastronomy) of Mexico as I am not Mexican, and if I don't like it I can return to my "safe nest".

I took the email as a suggestion that a foreigner should not have the right to be aware of current events or to report them or comment on them. The stories I posted were completely up to date and they reflect how ALL residents of Mexico feel about crime, corruption and security. I did not post that as a foreigner, gee, things are different here and they are so much better in my "home" country. I simply reported the facts, with legitimate news sources. I think if the person who emailed me had read the links I posted, they may understand that the topics of crime, corruption and security are the number one concerns of Mexicans all across the country, not just lil ole me.

As a resident of a foreign country, it is important for me to learn as much as I can about the country that I am living in. It is important for me to be able to communicate with other members of my community on the big issues of the day. It's really important for me to not bury my head in the sand and pretend that everything is "A OK", just because I am not Mexican and have the option of living in Canada. I have a Mexican job, I pay Mexican taxes, I do not live in an enclave of foreigners, I am a part of this community and I believe I have a right to share the news that affects me everyday. To suggest that because things are bad in Mexico I should leave is very simplistic, just because I have another nationality does not mean that this is not my home. Having a Canadian passport does not mean that I should not be concerned about what is happening here. When people ask me if I ever think about returning "home", I tell them I am already here, I never refer to Canada as "home" anymore. Mexico is where I live, work, love, play and lead my life with my family.

If I were living in Canada and writing a blog I would be posting similar news items. It's my nature, I am a news hound and I care about the place I live in. I did not suggest that Mexico is the only country with issues of crime, corruption and insecurity, but because this is where I call home, and these are the topics that everyone is worried about (Mexicans and foreigners alike), that is what I write about. The same would hold true if I were in Canada, Japan or Australia, I would report the news of the day and the items that affect all the residents of the land.

Do I have concerns about what is going on in Mexico? Yes. Does that mean that I think Mexico is a terrible place? No. Do I think the Mexicans are terrible people? Of course not. Does it mean I don't want to live here? No. It only means that I am a concerned citizen who is paying attention to the realities of life in Mexico and am actively participating in my community to make changes for the better. I am one of millions and millions of people who have the same concerns, the suggestion that because I am not Mexican and therefore cannot participate in the debate is absurd. On this blog I will not criticize the government or the powers that be, the Mexican constitution is quite clear that I am not allowed to participate in that manner, but I can certainly share news, links and information with limited commentary.

And on that note, I thought I would share a video by "Molotov", one of the more controversial bands in Mexico. They don't hold back on their political thoughts, they just let'er rip and this is one of their most famous songs "Gimme tha Power". For the lyrics in Spanish click here, for a rough English translation, click here.

And now I am breathing in......and breathing out.....ahh, that's better. Thanks for reading my rant, you may now return to your happy place.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

In the News, On My Mind

So you've probably figured out that I am a bit of a news junkie. I wish I could post about all the stories I read everyday, but I figure you'd be bored to tears or I would be quietly asked to leave Mexico. Since I'm currently "stewing" about some of the news pieces I've recently read, I thought I would share with you the ones that are on my mind today. Snippets, nuggets, not full stories, you'll have to click the links for the big picture.

1. Security. Cancun has changed dramatically over the last year or so and NO ONE feels secure. I'm happy to have our little Vecinos Vigilantes thing going on in the neighbourhood, but it doesn't look like the mayor is going to be doing anything anytime soon about the city's problems. A report today says "no tiene prisa", "he's in no hurry" to take care of business. Guess we're going to have to do our best with whistles and neighbourhood watch.

2. The bombing in Morelia. A video was published showing very graphic scenes of the bombing as it happened. Can't get the images out of my head. Watch it here but I warn you, it is graphic, click at your own risk. No arrests have been made, though they say people are being questioned. Drug cartels are suspected (can I get a "duh"?), though both of the big ones (La Familia and the Zetas) are pointing at each other and saying "We didn't do it, the other guys did!". I doubt there will even be a clear resolution. Sadly, there will lasting effects for years to come.

3. Corruption. I don't want to get into this too much, writing about it scares me to be honest, but I will just share some links and you can read for yourself. Narco-nomina and 50% of police corrupt. There are more, but I think that's enough for today, I don't want to overwhelm you with my news-junkieness. Use an online translator if your Spanish is rusty.

4. Dead elephant. "Huh?" you say? Yes, dead elephant. I don't know why this one affected me, but it made me really sad. An elephant escaped from a circus in Mexico City and made its way to the highway where it was hit by a bus and killed. The driver of the bus was killed as well and passengers on the bus did sustain injuries. Of course I feel bad for the bus driver, but mostly I am walking around saying "Pobre elefante!" to myself over and over. At least he experienced momentary freedom.

Ok ok, I could go on all day with this but I will leave it at that. If you are interested in reading more Mexico news, check out El Universal for national news or RadioQuintana Roo and Noticaribe for good coverage of local news in Cancun and the Riviera Maya. RadioQuintana Roo and Noticaribe assemble the news from numerous sources and put it in an easy to read format. Most of the local papers have terrible websites, I'm happy to have discovered RQR and NC. There are lots of other papers and sources out there that I do read, but I guess that's fodder for another post on another day.

R.I.P. Elefante.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Crococun Zoo

Yesterday Hubby and Max left me all alone and took off for some father son time at the Crococun Zoo. This is an interactive zoo that is really hands on, you can hold baby crocodiles, snakes and iguanas and feed the deer and monkeys. We've been there a couple of times before and always enjoy it. The last time we went Max was really quite small and not old enough to really understand what was going on. This time he was ready to embrace the joys of the animal kingdom! I got the full report when they got home, Max said the crocodiles were "scary" and the snake "tickled my neck and was yucky", but he had big smiles when he talked about his whole day, I think he loved having some special time with his daddy and the monkeys.

Since I wasn't there this time, I'll just let the pictures do the talking from here....

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Viva Vecinos Vigilantes!

The whistle brigade was put to the test and passed! A short while ago Hubby jumped up from the couch and ran outside, he heard the whistles before I did. I didn't know what was going on until I heard a symphony of referee whistles. I grabbed our whistle and started blowing and could hear the neighbours calling the police. People were running, cars were peeling down the street , whistles were screeching and the chase was on.

A neighbour had seen a young man in a blue shirt and orange cap attempting to break into an apartment three buildings down from ours. The vigilant neighbour started the whistles going and the young man started to run while the neighbourhood came out in force. The police actually arrived about ten minutes later (AMAZING).

While the young man was not caught (yet, they are still looking), he was foiled and scared. The apartment and its belongings were protected and no one was hurt

And that my friends, is what Vecinos Vigilantes (the Mexican Neighbourhood Watch) is all about, keeping the bad guys out of our homes and out of our neighbourhood. There were at least fifteen or twenty people outside, watching out for each other and looking for the bad guy. Four or five people got in their cars to cruise the area looking for blue shirt/orange cap. That is very, very encouraging. While I am not happy that there was an attempt so close to home and so early in the evening, I am thrilled by the response. Gracias vecinos, Cancunenses unidos! (Thanks neighbours, Cancunenses united!)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Yeehaw, I's Going to Americuh!

Soooo, I am going to little bro's wedding!!! Flight to Los Angeles is booked for October 24th, I am really excited, I can't wait to see the family but I must admit to being nervous about going NOB (north of border). It's been four years since I last left Mexico. Four years living simply, four years of living life outside the house in Spanish, four years without setting foot in Target, four years wearing twenty peso chanklas (flip flops) instead of shoes, four years without a York Peppermint Patty (they better still make them!), four years putting the toilet paper in the bin instead of the potty, four years since I've listened to an English radio station. I think I am in for some culture shock! I've never seen a Blackberry, don't really know what a Bluetooth is (is it painful?) and Wii Fit just sounds like bad grammar. I almost feel like I will be stepping into a time machine set for the future. I've been told that Triscuits now come in different flavours, what's up with that? I've been studying the Urban Dictionary, a girl's got to understand the "hip" slang of the day (umm, I guess "hip" isn't really "hip" anymore, is it?).

I have it in my head that I am going to step off the plane and turn into a yokel, head turning this way and that, saying "Gee Ma, will you looky there? Shiny!" and clucking my tongue about the gosh durn prices (and converting into pesos). People will point and laugh at my denim short shorts and tank top and my woven Mexican luggage. Maybe someone will see me in the airport and offer me one of those 24 hour makeovers for a reality show, just because they feel sorry for me. (Now that would be swell! Errr, "swell"? Need to keep studying..)

Ok ok, I am exaggerating a bit. Overreacting maybe. I have a real suitcase and some long pants to wear. But I guess I should find some shoes that aren't made of plastic. I do feel insecure about the whole thing, I mean my brother is a fashion designer in Los Angeles and lives two blocks from Britney Spears, I am going to be a bit out of my league.

So, if you are in Los Angeles at that time and you see a crazy Canadian woman running screaming out of Ralph's because the selection was overwhelming, please say hello and give me a paper bag to breathe into!

Am I feeling a tad bit insecure? Yes, yes indeedy-do I am. Breathing in......breathing out.....I'm ok, you're ok, and gosh darn it, I like me! (Yep, definitely need to update my cultural references....)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Beware the Xtabay!

I love hearing the legends of Mexico, particularly of the Yucatan peninsula which is rich in Mayan mythology. The story of the Xtabay is one of my favourites.....

Once upon a time in an ancient Mayan village in the Yucatan, there were two very beautiful women. The first woman was known to be "loose", giving her favours to many men and she was therefore named "Xkeban" (pronounced ish-ka-ban), meaning "prostitute". The other woman was virginal, never giving herself to any man and she was called Utz-colel, meaning "virtuous, decent. and clean" . The first woman may have been easy, but she had a heart of gold, generously giving food and water to those less fortunate and taking care of homeless and unwanted animals. The virtuous woman was the opposite, a cold-hearted, egotistical snob who never helped anyone except herself. She openly judged anyone who she deemed to not be pure of body and was repulsed by illness and poverty.

One day the villagers were overcome with a delicious fragrance, a divine aroma coming from the home of Xkeban. When they went to investigate, they discovered that she had died alone but her body was emitting a tantalizing scent. Xkeban was buried outside of the village, her funeral attended by only a handful of people. The scent carried down from the cemetary for days aftewards and beautiful flowers mysteriously began to grow on her grave. These flowers were named Xtabentun and are now used to make a fragrant drink of the same name, which when drunk is said to inspire the feelings of passion and love that Xkeban would bring to her men.

The self-centered, judgmental Utz-colel could not believe that such an impure, unclean woman could produce such a fine smell and declared that when she died the village would be overcome with the most delicious scent imaginable. When Utz-colel died, the entire village mourned. She died a virgin and expected to be rewarded in the hereafter. To the surprise of many, not only did her body not emit the scent of flowers, it created a stench so terrible that the villagers became ill. When people brought flowers to her grave, they shriveled and died.

It is said that this is when the Mayan people discovered that true goodness was to be found in the heart.

The tale continues, with Utz-colel finding herself in the afterlife, miserable and bitter about her life of abstinence. She asked the evil spirits to return her to the living world so she could experience the earthly delights of sex and passion.

The modern telling of this tale warns the people of the Yucatan to beware the evil spirit of Utz-colel, now called the Xtabay. She lives in the Ceiba tree and she will try to seduce any man who walks along her path. If the man falls for her gentle words, beautiful songs and come -hither looks, he will find himself trapped forever by her evil charms. The tales state that men that fall under her spell are found days later, covered in wounds like claw marks and cactus scratches and often with their hearts ripped from their chests.

The moral of the story? If the heart is virtuous, kind and generous, you will be rewarded in the afterlife.

***Note: I have heard this story a hundred times and a hundred different ways. My students who are from this area often tell the tale as a warning against drinking, saying that the Xtabay attacks drunk men in the jungle. The Mayan mamas tell their husbands and sons that they better not drink too much or the Xtabay will get them. I think that adds another moral to the story, if you drink, your heart will be torn out of your body and you will suffer at the hands of the women.

If you know any other versions or details to add to this story, do tell, share a comment! My sources are mostly word of mouth (as most good legends are), though I consulted a few sites for the spelling of names. If you think I have something incorrect, please let me know.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Tragic Independence Day

On Monday night all across the nation of Mexico, communities gathered in their town squares to celebrate the independence of Mexico. Cries of "Viva Mexico!" reverberated across the land, leaders recited the famous "El Grito" speech ("The Scream") and the bells were rung in one of the most important and usually joyous occasions in the country. Families gathered together with friends, children waved flags and painted their faces red, white and green and everyone felt the pride of living in a free Mexico.

And then "El Grito" turned into real screams. Screams for help, screams of terror, screams of despair.

At 11:00 pm on Monday night in Morelia, Michoacan, terrorists attacked the innocent revelers, throwing grenades into the crowds, killing seven people (some sources say eight) and injuring more than one hundred others. While no group has claimed responsibility, it is suspected that the drug cartels are involved, though this act against innocent civilians is unusual, even for the violent mafia. The city of Morelia, Michoacan is the home town of the Mexican president Felipe Calderon and many speculate that this was meant as a personal warning to him. Since taking office two years ago, Calderon has waged an aggressive campaign against the drug cartels in Mexico. The cartels have been responding with violence, killing rival gangs in very public displays and taking the lives of hundreds of police officers across the country. This is the first time that an attack has been made on the public, leading some to believe that the violence and terror will escalate across the country.

This news has distressed me and depressed me. I must admit that we did not go the Cancun "El Grito" celebration, partially because I was a little nervous about it not being safe this year. We've been in the past and the feeling you get standing in a crowd of thousands screaming "Viva Mexico!" is unlike any other. Though I am not Mexican, I have felt great pride to be there with my Mexican son and husband. The events in Morelia could have happened anywhere, could have happened here in Cancun. My heart is aching, for the people who were killed, their families, the injured and for the country itself. Independence Day 2008 will forever be marked in my memory, a day of sadness now, no longer of joy and pride.

The following video is a news report of the events of that night, it is in Spanish, but I think even if you don't understand the words, you will certainly understand the significance of the moment.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Wedding Bells!

I am so very excited and pleased today! My brother called last night to tell me that he and his partner of many years are going to officially tie the knot on October 25th. K and J are the perfect match, in that opposites attract kind of way and I couldn't be happier for them. I sooo wish I could be there with them, but there is about 1% chance of being able to come up with air fare for the trip to Los Angeles (little bro is an ex-pat too, he moved to the States way back in 1990). I adore my brother in law J, we have lots of laughs together and he is already a part of the family, though October 25th will make it all "official".

I'm thrilled for them, but saddened that they have to put a rush on the wedding because of the possibility of California repealing the gay marriage law on November 3rd. Why on earth would they do that? K and J love each other, have made a home together and certainly have a more stable relationship than many married "breeders" I know, why would anyone think that they should not have the right to marry? I just don't get why anyone would be against the union of two souls in love!

Felicidades brothers, I wish you a long and happy life together, wish I could be there to raise a glass with you and toast to your future! (You made me cry dammit, I got off the phone and had tears of happiness running down my face. I guess there are worse things to cry about though, so you are off the hook for ruining my mascara.) I love you both.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Becoming Teacher and Mama

Last week I blogged about all the crazy jobs I had and that led to the question of how I became a teacher in Mexico. Good question considering my background, it may have made more sense for me to become a mopatera (shot girl) or professional tequila taster but here I am four years later and I am "Teacher". (Students don't call me by name, it's always "Teacher! What means 'however'/'humble'/hothead'?" "Teacher, is cold", "Teacher, I no understand").

Let's jump in the old time machine back to the year 2004. After living in Cozumel for six months, Hubby and I moved to Cancun for his new job in March. I of course, did not have a job, I was living free and easy on some savings and having a grand time doing it. Come July, the funds had run out and I knew it was time to get back in the job market. Basically I knew nothin' bout nothin'. I didn't really know where to start, we didn't have a computer so I was not tied in to the ex-pat community, the only people I knew in town were from the bar scene and some time share folks. They tried to convince me to get a bar/time share job, but I really didn't think that I would be a very good fit for either. I met with some time share managers and just got a really icky feeling from all of them, they were grilling me to see if I could lie and be aggressive, and the answer was "no" on both counts.

Hubby was discussing my job search with some folks in his office and a really nice British ex-pat said she would meet up with me for coffee to discuss some options. She told me that her nephew had worked as an English teacher when he came to Cancun and really enjoyed it and she recommended I check out the same school. I put together a resume and dropped it off and waited for the call.

Meanwhile, Hubby's family was visiting us in Cancun that same week. It was my first time meeting them and they ALL came, parents, sisters, nieces, the whole clan. We struggled through our language barriers and ended up having a fantastic time together. I played a lot with the kids, it was easier than trying to make conversation with the adults, though when the tequila came out we all managed to communicate and laugh.

Early in that week of in-laws I got a call to go for an interview at the school. I put on my shiny, happy, enthusiastic face and went to meet the director. We had a lovely chat, though I thought afterwards that perhaps I was a bit too shiny and happy. I definitely blathered on and on but I guess that was ok as on the Friday of that week I got the call that I would be starting training the following week. I got the job!

We of course celebrated with the family who were happy to hear that the guera (white girl) wouldn't be leeching off of their son. We spent a terrific day with the whole gang, their last day in town and went home happy and slightly (mm, more than slightly?) buzzed. It was one of those "The Hills Are Alive With the Sound of Music" days, smiling and spinning and happy as could be. We were so happy that Hubby convinced me to try to get pregnant. And so we did.

And that is how I became "Teacher" and "Mama" on the very same day, Friday July 16th, 2004. I love both jobs, they both give me headaches but the rewards outweigh all the pain. I am constantly learning from my students and my son and I am forever grateful to the hands of fate for stepping in to align all the planets in my favour that day. A special thanks to Don Julio for allowing me to open my mind to the possibility of having kids, I couldn't (wouldn't) have done it without him.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Feeling the Fingers of Ike

While Cancun and the region are in no danger from any serious hurricane action from Ike, we are definitely feeling his effects right now. We're just on the fringes of the storm and it's windy enough that the windows are rattling and it's been raining off and on all day. Currently it's coming down strong, Hubby just walked in soaking wet from work. You can feel the low pressure in the air and the animals are staying pretty close to me today.

Ike is only a category 1 at this point, but it has wreaked a path of destruction in the Caribbean. Cuba has been hit very hard, devastating the country after just being hit by Gustav two weeks ago. Pinar del Rio province is the closest point to Cancun, only about 100 miles away. and Ike did some serious damage in that area. Hurricane Ike is moving over the Gulf of Mexico towards the Texas coast where it is expected to strike around Saturday.

Keep watching the skies, the National Hurricane Center and Wunderground have very good coverage of storms in this area. We've got another couple of months left of this season, let's hope it turns into a quiet one after the stormy few weeks we've had in the Atlantic. Cancun and the east coast of Mexico have lucked out so far, keep your fingers crossed!

And please, keep the people of Dominican, Haiti, Turks and Caicos and Cuba in your thoughts today, they are suffering a very bad time right now. The American press focuses on the damage these storms do to oil prices and seems to forget that many people have lost their lives and their homes.

A Little Fall of Rain

With all my worries and stresses about health and life, I knew I needed to get to the beach on Sunday, weather forecast be damned! It didn't look too bad when we headed out, though I think we knew we might see a little rain at some point during the day, it was a little sunny with a few clouds scattered around. Isla Blanca was pretty deserted, not too many others taking the chance. We weren't there very long before the skies really started to change. We could see Isla Mujeres getting rained on in the distance and the wind was moving towards us, but we decided to just wait it out and see what the weather gods would bring us. What's the worst that could happen? We were already wet from swimming, couldn't get any wetter.

This is what was coming our way....

Blue skies still trying to peek through...

Now the rain has dark as the clouds were at a distance, they weren't nearly as bad once they were on top of us. The wind and rain sure felt cold after the beating hot sun...

Hubby pretending that the palapa offered protection, Max wondering where the sun went...

Best thing to do in a chilly rain? Get in the ocean!

Max and I ended up in the sea calling for Hubby to join us. He thought we were nuts, but once he was in, he realized that it was the warmest place to be. The storm passed in about ten minutes and we were back to our regularly scheduled sun and fluffy clouds. Maybe not our best day at the beach, but we had a good time regardless.

A song from "Les Miserables" was running through my head as we dodged rain drops, "A Little Fall of Rain". Rather a depressing song, it's Eponine's death scene, but for some reason it always makes me happy and hopeful and it pops into my brain whenever it's raining.

Hopefully we'll have some happy sunny pics soon, but you know, paradise ain't always blue skies and margaritas!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Teens Be Smart

I really like my job. I meet interesting people with a wide variety of opinions and levels of education, different levels of exposure to the world outside Mexico and varying levels of interest in global issues. I normally teach young adults, in their twenties working in the tourism industry (or with the desire to). Occasionally I get myself a "teens" class, ages ranging from 12-15 which again makes for a very different kind of class. I find myself surfing MTV or Billboard sites and catching up with the lastest video game crazes to be able to communicate with them on their level.

This past Saturday I started a new round of classes with a teen group. They blew my mind. They were far more interested in world issues than in the latest Coldplay release. I wrote "Global Issues" on the board and asked them to give me some examples of the problems the earth is facing. Normally I would be doing a lot of prompting, not only for the English words but for ideas as well. These fabulous teens were on fire, shouting out ideas faster than I could write them!

Endangered species!

The list they came up with was longer than that and they became more specific with every passing moment. I jumped for joy! Young teenagers with knowledge and interest in the world, I couldn't believe it.

The next step in the class was a grammar lesson for "conditionals" ("IF" clauses). These amazing teens were eating it up like candy and spitting back examples before I asked them to.

"If we recycle, the world will be less polluted"
"If we had better education for the police force, there would be less corruption and crime"
"If we educate the people of Mexico, there will be less poverty and unemployment"
"If we don't stop building hotels, Quintana Roo will be destroyed"
"If parents pay more attention to the kids, there will be fewer gangs"
"If everyone voted, Mexico would have a better government"

Who said kids are dumb? This particular group certainly has something special, not only did they surprise me with their level of grammar and vocabulary, but with their vision and interest in the world outside MTV and their Wii.

I can't wait to see them again next Saturday, I think we are going to have a very interesting four weeks together. They were not only smart, they were funny too....

"Teacher, if I pay you 500 pesos, will I pass the course?"

So much for putting an end to corruption. :)

Friday, September 5, 2008

Please Pass the (Smelling) Salt

I had a freaky freaky thing happen last night. LisaLove dropped by to say hi and we were having a friendly chat through the fence. I suddenly started to not feel so well and the next thing I know I couldn't see anything but I could faintly hear Lisa calling Hubby's name and asking me if I was ok. I had fainted! Blacked out, flat on the ground! I remember giving Lisa a cheek kiss good bye then BAM, down. I felt the blood rushing through my ears and everything was spinning and I couldn't see. I could feel the dog licking me (and got the hives to prove it later) but I couldn't do anything to get her off of me or to get up off the ground. Poor Lisa was on the other side of our locked gate and couldn't get in to help me, but she managed to yell loud enough that Hubby heard and came running. He got me inside and onto the couch and got me some water. As my head started to clear I realized that my arms were numb and that my hands felt like they were the size of baseball mitts and feeling really hot. I got up to bed and crashed out and slept like a rock.

I woke up this morning feeling dizzy again and my arms and hands are still numb and tingly and achy at the same time. I knew I couldn't drive nor teach a class as I could barely get myself to the W.C.. I had to call in sick, a bummer as we really need the money right now.

I was at the doctor's office yesterday, going over the test results from this week. No surgery (thank god), but she did suggest a course of treatment that I really don't feel is appropriate, it's time for a second opinion. I'm going to get some blood work done then see a doctor that another friend recommended. If I faint again, I promise to get to the hospital. Right now I am just feeling dizzy and weak (and the hands are killing me, it's the thing that's bothering me the most right now to be honest). I'm going to head back to bed and hope the room doesn't spin, but will take a B plus iron capsule first.

And that's it, no more kisses good night for Lisa, it's the kiss of death! :) (Love ya girl, sorry to scare you and THANKS for being good nagging "mami").

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

My So Called Old Life

This week my boss asked me to fill out an application form "for the files" for the job I have had for four years. It was very strange, I hadn't though about old jobs or references or high school or university transcripts in a very long time, it took me a while to figure out how to fill the thing out. Once I did, it got me thinking about my "old" life, the life B.M. (before Mexico). I realized I had some interesting jobs at some interesting places and I thought I might share a little of my life before becoming "Cancun Canuck". Here are some of my favourite jobs ever.....

1. Co-producer of "Pirate Video Cabaret". PVC or "Pirates" as it was often called was a weekly comedy show in Toronto that I worked on with my now ex-husband and another very funny friend. We were a real variety show, with stand up comics, sketch comedy groups, singers, bands, puppeteers, improv artists, poets, performance artists and short films and videos. This was probably the most rewarding and incredible time of my life, we encouraged new artists, gave a space to established artists to break out of their standard play-to-the-tourists routines and a refuge for "famous folk" to come to a relaxed environment and do their thing. We had many celebs come out and watch or play, our biggest coup was having Mike Myers grace our stage several times. Nice guy that Mike, just a normal, small town Canadian guy who is uber famous and rich! Though Pirates ended when my marriage did, comedians in Toronto still write to me to tell me how much they miss it and I do too.

2. Amusement park ride operator at Boblo Island. Ahhh, the good old days of summer, being fifteen years old at the controls of a roller coaster. This was my first job, a wonderful, amazing first job that lasted for five summers. I thought my $3.15 an hour was gold, I met more boys than I could count and I got a wicked farmer's tan. Boblo Island has sadly closed down and become an island of condos for the rich and famous, but the memories live on and some days I just can't help but sing the theme song to the commercial and flashback to fast coasters and vomit filled spinning rides.

3. Microbrewery tour guide/beer truck driver/marketing assistant/customer service rep. Who wouldn't love to work for a small family owned microbrewery? This is certainly one of the best periods of my life. Being a small company we all kind of did everything, from giving tours of the brewery to working in the tasting lab (mmmm, tasting lab). I miss Upper Canada, lots of good folk, good times and free beer. The good times ended when the company was bought out by a bigger fish, but the fuzzy beer soaked memories live on.

The list goes on, I was a professional dancer, an actress, an extra in T.V. shows and movies, a sketch comedy performer, a performance artist (proudly playing the role of "Gum" in the not so famous piece "The Digestion of Gum"), party planner, talent agent, documentary film research assistant, casting agent assistant, dance teacher, wine store manager, customer service rep for the vintage wine department of the L.C.B.O., a magician's assistant, short film producer, production coordinator, a temp in government offices, a telemarketer (shudder) and a corn detassler. Work stories? Oh, I got work stories. Most of them involve booze or the entertainment industry, go figure!

Now, how the heck did I get a job teaching English in Mexico?

Monday, September 1, 2008

A Little Relieved, A Lot of Questions

The last few months I have been having some health issues. I won't get into the gory details, but things just aren't right. I finally got myself to the doctor last Thursday and she scared the crap out of me. "Surgery" she says. Serious surgery. She said this before any tests had been done, solely from a physical examination. I've spent the last few days absolutely stressing, worrying myself sick about what was to come in the next little while if indeed I needed to go under the knife. Would I be ok physically? Mentally? Financially? How could I care for Max? Would I do the surgery here or go to Canada or to Puebla or to Merida? Blah blah blah, my mind has been awhirl and I've been a bit of a basket case.

I went for an ultrasound today and within two seconds the technician said "Normal". "No hay nada?" I said ("There's nothing?). "No hay nada, todo es normal". ("There's nothing, everything is normal"). Well hrmph. Number one, why did the doctor freak me the #$%#$% out?? Number two, if it's "normal", why am I so sick?

While I do have a sense of relief that the test seems to be normal, I am still concerned about what's going on. I have to return to the doctor and have her look at the tests, but do I trust her? Do I spend double the money and get more opinions? Do I just have to assume that my ill health is "normal"? Does this mean I just have to suffer? Could I ask any more questions? Well, I guess questions are all I have right now, nothing definitive to worry about and no answers.

D is for Dengue, Depression and Dread

I'm currently sitting in my Cancun apartment, staving off the Covid 19 panic and using all my Jungle Kelly powers to maintain my cal...