Thursday, October 30, 2008

I'm baaaaack

Well, my L.A. trip was a little longer than expected but I am back in Cancun now. As I shared in my last post I was supposed to return on Monday, but on the weekend my family and I decided that two days just wasn't long enough. My boss was kind enough to find people to cover for me and Hubby was kind enough to continue to be Mr. Mom with Max. I was able to stay a couple of days longer and just got home last night. I checked the weather first, I swear if it had still been raining I wouldn't have gotten on the plane, but things seem to have cleared up and I haven't seen a drop of rain.

I had an unbelievable time. Definitely suffered some culture shock, self serve check outs at the grocery stores freaked me out for one thing. When did that start?? It had been so long since I had left Mexico that there were a lot of things that I had forgotten about. Clean streets with no potholes, drinking water out of a tap and thinking in dollars. I saw a sign in the grocery store that said "Three Dove Body Wash for $10" and I thought that was an incredible bargain, until I realized I was thinking it was 10 pesos. I guess it was still a good deal, but not quite as cheap as my brain initially registered.

The wedding was FANTASTIC. It could not have been more perfect. We worked hard to get it up and going on time, but all of our efforts were well worth it, I can't wait to share photos with you. One thing I hadn't counted on was how COLD it would be! My lovely halter style dress looked great, but I was shivering. Thank goodness Target was there, managed to find a lovely wrap to wear after the ceremony to keep the chill out. I received some good natured ribbing about not being Canadian anymore, my body just could not cope with temperatures under 80 F, I was shaking like a leaf and my teeth were chattering.

Unfortunately I was sick the whole trip, managed to get a cold the day before I left and just couldn't shake it. I held up pretty well through the wedding with massive amounts of cold medicine, but the next few days were pretty sniffly, sneezy, coughy. I am really feeling sick now, I think I let my defenses down on coming home and my body finally said "HEY YOU ARE SICK" and knocked me out.

I've got a pile of photos to go through and a few observations on this and that that I will post later today or tomorrow. I'm very happy that I was able to spend some very special time with my family and have come back feeling like a new person. Overall, a grand time was had by all. Will be back to a regular blogging schedule now, sorry for the downtime! Pics soon, promise!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Goin' Back to Cali

The time has come, I am off to California tomorrow morning for my brother's wedding. I am nervous and excited, excited about the wedding, nervous about leaving Mexico after so long. This is my first trip out of here in four years, I just know that I am going to be suffering some culture shock. My folks already have all the shopping planned out, here's hoping I don't have a major meltdown in Target with the huge selection of groovy stuff we can't get down here.

It's going to be a quick trip, too quick really. I leave tomorrow and come back on Monday. There will most likely be some tears this weekend, tears of joy (who doesn't cry at weddings!?) and tears of sadness when I leave. I am really looking forward to an adult weekend, this is the first time I will be away from Max for so long and I desperately need a "mommy break". Hopefully the house and my two boys will be intact on my return. I've got some lovely friends helping out with Max care, one in the afternoons while Hubby is working, the other on stand by for the weekend in case there is a break down on Hubby's part. He's a great daddy, but Max is a cyclone, having a back up plan for the sanity of both is a necessity. Good luck all (insert very evil laugh here)!

So, I most likely won't be blogging until my return, I wish you all a peaceful and happy weekend and look forward to catching up with you all when I get back! Hasta pronto!

(The weather outlook for southern California is making me VERY happy, sure looks a lot nicer than what we're getting here!)

The Hammer is Cocked

Now somebody, pull the trigger, put me out of my misery, I am dying here! Six weeks of rain. Six. Weeks. Of. Rain. I can't take it anymore, I am headed for the loony bin! I do not do well in gloomy weather. I do not do well being wet. I do not do well when the skies are constantly grey. I do not do well trapped in the house all day. I am not doing well.

I am thinking that it is actually more than six weeks. It must be. I am growing webs between my toes.

I have hunted for raincoats, none to be found. Umbrellas are a prized commodity, the black market is heating up. I have actually had to turn the heat on in the car to stop shivering after being soaked to the skin.

Nope, not doing well at all. Off to ring out my clothes, again.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Remembering Wilma

October 21, 2005, the fear, the anxiety, the knowledge that something big and bad was about to happen to Cancun was setting in. We had known for a few days that a hurricane was headed our way and we had been warned that it was going to be a big one. No one knew just how bad Miss Wilma was actually going to be.

On Thursday October 20 at 4:00 in the afternoon the government had turned off all the electricity in anticipation of the storm. Tourists had been evacuated to temporary shelters and the grocery stores were running out of supplies. We had stocked up as much as we could, mostly stuff for Max as he was only six months old, diapers, Gerber, etc.. With no electricity we had lost our contact with the outside world, no computer, no phone, just occasional text messages from a fellow Cancun resident who happened to be in Minnesota and was keeping us updated as to what was going on. We had a sleepless, though fairly peaceful night weather wise.

Friday October 21st we really started to feel the storm. The winds picked up, the rain started and we bunkered down to prepare for the worst. Wilma made landfall in Cozumel on that Friday afternoon, but we didn't know that until much later. Friday night was a nightmare, I don't even know if words can express the fear, the nerves, the feeling of impending doom. We had set up a downstairs room as "home base", the room with the fewest windows and the most protected from the wind. The rest of the house was at Wilma's mercy. The feeling in the air was electric, the lowest pressure ever was recorded during Wilma and you could feel it in your ears. The sound of the storm was like a train or a 747 passing within inches of the house, a constant roar. The water was pouring in through the windows, we had a river of water running through the whole house, nothing we did could stop the water from coming in. We spent the night mopping as best we could and keeping Max asleep and calm. Every few minutes we would hear shattering glass and run upstairs to check on the house. With no lights, it was frightening, we couldn't see outside or in, we were trying to preserve the batteries and candles as we had no idea how long we would be without electricity. An absolutely sleepless night of terror.

With the light of dawn on Saturday we could start to see some of the damage Wilma had already brought. The apartment building next door was a disaster, every single window broken, gas tanks thrown across the lawn, tinacos in odd places. Most of the trees were down and so were the power lines. The rain and wind were still fierce so we didn't dare set foot outside. Sometime around mid day things calmed down and we saw people on the streets outside and we took turns venturing out to talk to the neighbours. I recall a woman in a yellow slicker running through the neighbourhood informing us all that this was just the eye of the storm, that it was coming back in the opposite direction and that we should not rest easy, more was on the way. We had maybe a half hour or hour of a respite from the worst of the winds and then it picked up again. Spinning the other way.

For another 24 hours we were basement bound again, with wind and water coming in different windows and continuing to soak us. We ate sparingly and drank only enough water to sustain us. At this point we knew that things were really, really bad. We talked about what was next, would we have a home at the end of this? Would we have jobs? What was happening to our friends? What was happening to the hotel zone? How many people have been hurt? I cannot even begin to explain just how many things we had to be anxious about besides the immediate safety of our family, it was as if our whole world was about to be turned upside down.

When Sunday dawned and things started to clear, we were in a state of shock. We took turns going outside for walks around to see the destruction and to talk to the police and rescue crews. No one knew anything. We heard that the hotel zone was totally blocked with water, no one could get in to even check out the lay of the land. The neighbours started to pull together to try to set things right, everyone helping out with the clearing of trees and debris from the streets and from our yards.

Monday came and Hubby said he needed to go to work. "What??? You can't go to work, there might not even be any work to go to!". He made the attempt anyway (such a Type A personality) but was turned back around again as no one was allowed to enter the hotel zone (he worked at a resort at the time). By this time our cel phones had lost all their batteries and we were seriously incomunicado. I found a pay phone that worked and managed to convince an operator to connect me to the family and it was a great relief to speak with them. I don't think I could have possibly expressed to them what was really going on, I just told them that we were fine, not hurt, the house was wet though intact and the baby was A OK.

Tuesday Hubby again tried to go to work and this time he succeeded. His description of the destruction was unbelievable, pictures and words cannot even begin to describe. He was put to work cleaning out the pool and helping housekeeping start to get water out of the rooms (a bit different than his graphic design position, but he dug in and put his back into it with all his gusto). I stayed home in the heat and humidity and tried to entertain myself and keep a six month old sweaty baby happy.

In the following weeks, we came to rely on our friends and neighbours and our relationships with them strengthened greatly (thanks for the animal crackers My Guey!). Hubby went back to work and luckily was never laid off. I was out of work for a couple of months while they fixed the damage to the school. It was a tough time. We went 21 days without water or electricity, we learned a lot about how to live without. We were smelly and bored, but we were alive and well.

Many people theorize that Cancunenses suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for some time after the event, and I must agree with that theory. Depression, anger, relationship problems and at times euphoria were common among most everyone we knew. The emotional strain of such a catastrophic event may have been worse than the structural damage to the town. We were all put to the test and for the most part we passed. I know the hurricane changed me, it made me a better person, a stronger person, one more patient and tolerant and able to deal with any situation. I feel that after Wilma, I can face anything that life throws at me.

I don't have any of my own pictures to share, but I found this video on youtube yesterday. I cried like a baby watching it. I still get chills and a little bit melancholy when I think about Wilma and seeing this video brought it all back. It's hard to watch (man that music gets me!) but it will give you just a glimpse of what happened in Cancun.

This is another video that I have watched many times since Wilma. The famous Coco Bongo night club created this piece and played it at their grand re-opening and for many months after. It's inspiring, positive and reveals the great human effort that was put forth to rebuild Cancun after being hit by one of the most powerful hurricanes ever.

I know this was long and I don't even feel as though I fully expressed all that I wanted to about Wilma. This was one of the most significant events in my life, how could one blog post say it all?? I still have strong feelings about it, residual anxiety, pride in our community and in our family, melancholy for all that was destroyed and the for the lost innocence of our city, sadness over the destruction of the beaches and for all the families who lived in severe circumstances for many, many months afterwards. I will forever remember Wilma, the good, the bad and the ugly, I've got a story to tell my grandkids from my rocking chair.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Selvatica Zipline Adventure!

We were a lucky little family this week, Hubby got us some free passes to Selvatica, a jungle adventure place near Puerto Morelos that I have been wanting to check out for a long time. Max had been sick for a couple of days, but we decided to go ahead and play anyway, we had been trapped in the house for weeks with all the rain we've been having, we all needed to get out and get some fresh air. We half expected more rain while we were there but chose to go ahead and just get wet if that happened, what's a little mud going to hurt?

The tour included transportation so we set off to meet the van at 10:00 am at the hotel Oasis America. We headed off to the hotel zone to pick up some tourists and then we were off towards the jungle. While we were driving it started to rain and we all just crossed our fingers that it would pass before we got there! We drove down a dirt road filled with nasty pot holes and eventually found ourselves in a clearing with a big beautiful palapa. The sun came out and we were greatly relieved! We got checked in, stashed our bags in a locker and went to get our gear.

Max was thrilled from the start, he got to wear a very cool helmet which he really wanted to keep. He got rigged up in his harness like a pro and was ready to go. I was really pleased to see the sanitary precautions they took, we all had paper nurse caps to wear under the helmets and rubber gloves under the heavy duty zip line gloves, very nice touch. We received our detailed instructions with a big emphasis on safety, again, it made me happy to see how seriously they took things. The guides were fun, and they got some good jokes in, but there was no joking about safety.

And up we went! Climbing a whole lot of stairs up to the first platform, Max was the first one up. The guides were fantastic with Max, they made him and I feel very comfortable with this adventure. He had the biggest smile on his face the entire trip. He'd get to the top of the platform before me and start calling "Look mommy, look, I'm up high!" The zips were FANTASTIC. Twelve lines in all, about 2 kms over the jungle. Some were longer than others, some faster than others, but all were great fun. The guides took a few of us on some "upside down" trips where we just hung from our lines and let them do the braking while we were spun around with our heads toward the ground. That might possibly be one of the most exhilirating experiences I have had. Max decided that he wanted to go upside down too and just went ahead and threw himself backwards in the arms of the guides!! He got huge cheers all around for being such an adventurous and daring little three year old.

After the zip lines we were off to the cenote for a refreshing swim. There was a choice of taking mountain bikes for the 1 km trip or riding in the van. Hubby took the bike and since the bikes didn't have seats for kids, Max and I took the easy way. Max was very disappointed, he so wanted to ride the bikes! The cenote was gorgeous, cool water, beautiful surroundings and a short zip line you could ride and jump into the water. I couldn't get enough of the zip jumps, we had a wicked time! Only once did I land flat on my back, OWIE oh owie, reverse belly flop! The line was too high for me to feel comfortable with Max doing it and again, my little dare devil was disappointed he couldn't do it but he enjoyed swimming in the clear cool water.

We had about 45 minutes in the cenote then back to the main palapa for lunch. We were starving by then and grateful for the yummy chicken fajitas, rice and frijoles. They played the video of our group while we ate and of course, everyone just had to buy it. They don't allow cameras on the zips, you really do need both hands for the adventure. So, I didn't get any shots there entonces the DVD was an essential item, even at $30 USD. We had to have the memories of DareDevil Max flying through the tree tops! As soon as Hubby can get the movie in Quicktime, I'll share the video with you all, it's a lot of fun.

After lunch we were brought back to town by our safe and friendly driver. Max quickly fell asleep in the van, a big day for a little guy who was sick with a cold! Overall, this was a fantastic day, I would highly, HIGHLY recommend this tour for anyone traveling to Cancun or the Riviera Maya.

While I didn't get any photos of the zip lines, I did get some shots in the cenote and of course I am going to share them with you. Here you go, enjoy, will have the video up in the next day or so.

Hubby and Max watching crazy people fly into the cenote

That's me preparing to make the big jump

Always point your toes when flying into cenotes

The whole group watching crazy jumpers

Me and my super fabulous adventure kid

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day- Poverty in Mexico

Today is "Blog Action Day", a day when bloggers around the world are invited to use their blogs to discuss the issue of poverty. Poverty is not a new problem, nor is it isolated to selected countries in the world, it is a global crisis that can be resolved. If everyone did one little thing today to contribute to the life of someone less fortunate, then we can think about doing it tomorrow and the next day and eventually we can put a stop to the starvation of families around the world. Everyone must contribute, even in a small way like writing about the issue and raising awareness!

Poverty in Mexico is an epidemic. More than 44 million Mexicans live in poverty, with poverty being described as living on less than 1625 pesos per month ($128 USD by today's exchange rate). About 15 million live in what would be described as extreme poverty. These are people with nothing, no food, nothing to sustain them, no access to clean water, no sanitary living conditions, nothing. The southern states of Mexico are in dire straits, living in extremely poor conditions and with very little to sustain them. The state of Quintana Roo (where Cancun is located) has a high level of poverty, but nothing compared to Chiapas and Oaxaca. The "lucky" ones have minimum wage jobs, minimum wage being 46 pesos per day. Yes, that's right, about $3.63 USD per day.

Levels of Poverty by State in Mexico

So, what can be done? Well, fellow blogger Wayne on Isla Mujeres has started what he calls "Project Warm Hands", with the goal of assisting the impoverished in Veracruz who have nothing to keep them warm in the cold days that are coming. In trying to do a good thing, he discovered just how many barriers there are to accomplishing that goal, so the best thing to do is visit the blog Viva Veracruz and use the Pay Pal donation button to send even a little something to help out.

Aside from donating through John and Wayne's programs, there are little things you can do. When you come on vacation, tip, tip, tip! Remember how little your service staff is making and give them a hand up. Get away from your all inclusive resort and see what else is out there in the world, spend some money in the pueblas and buy from the artisans. Bring school supplies to donate to the local children. There is an excellent program here in Cancun called "Give a Toy, Get a Smile" which has been helping local kids for a couple of years now with great success. Use that link to see how you can help, there are suggestions for things to bring down with you and there is a PayPal link as well for monetary donations. The City of Joy is yet another charitable institution in Cancun that can always use your help, their website has suggestions on how you can contribute, either with much needed items or a financial donation.

While this blog has been about what's happening in Mexico and Cancun, you don't need to look further than your front door to see the effects of poverty. If you don't contribute to one of the charities in Mexico, do so at home! Educate your children about the issue, instill in them a sense of global responsibility and respect for everyone's right to food and shelter. Smile at the homeless man you usually ignore, donate food to the local shelter or just send a cheque to your favourite organization. Count your blessings, remember that while there may be an economic crisis happening, you are still better off than millions of people around the world. Your stock portfolio may be a bit slimmer than last month, but you've got a roof over your head, food to eat tonight and many things to be grateful for.

Peace to you all, may you enjoy the bounties of your life today and be thankful for them.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Cool Croc

Sunday morning we were looking for something cool to do and ended up taking a private road down near Petempich to see what we could see. Not much as it turned out, some new construction going up, the Snorkeling Adventure (on our to do list), lots of pot holes on the bumpy back roads and this lagoon.....

Now, look closely. See that log in the foreground? That ain't no log my friends, it's just your average, "friendly", Quintana Roo crocodile living free (for now) in his peaceful abode. Well, he was living free, but right behind us was a big new condo building going in, I sure hope this guy fights for his rightful spot in nature!

I wouldn't argue with him, if he really wants the lounger by the pool, it's all his! We chatted with him for a few minutes (from the safety of the car) and moved on by to leave him to his peaceful days, he might not have many more to enjoy with all the new buildings going up. Peace be with you young croc, live long and prosper, I sure hope you've got a spot in the environment!

(And this concludes today's STOP NEW CONSTRUCTION IN QUINTANA ROO message, was it too subtle? Off my soap box now.....)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Five Years in Three Minutes Thirty

Ok, finally got it together, a brief slide show of my five years in Mexico. Well, selected photos, hard to choose from the thousands that I've got and keep it under four minutes! I wish I could have shared them all, but you probably would have been bored to tears. I can only imagine watching five years worth of Aunt Bertha's vacation pics. Thanks for watching if you get through it all, I promise, it's exactly 3 minutes 30 seconds and not one bit more. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

How to Disappoint a Three Year Old

We had one very sad little boy on our hands last night, and two disgruntled parents trying to make him feel better. We had gone down to Playa Marlin to participate in the sea turtle release program. We'd read that the event started at 4 o'clock on the beach and in typical Mexican fashion we went late, just before 5 o'clock. There didn't seem to be any events happening, but we saw an "official" looking guy and asked him what was up. He said he was just waiting for the turtles to arrive and we could just hang on. There were quite a few of us on the beach waiting, and waiting and waiting. Lots of families were coming down and speaking to "official" guy and he kept telling everyone to hold on.

We had prepped Max for what was coming, teeny tiny turtles who needed to be handled very delicately and helped back into the ocean. He was beyond excited, kept asking when he could help the turtles, where are the turtles, when could he see the turtles.

Around 6:30 the action started. "Official guy" started setting up some poles and ropes on the beach and brought out the megaphone. He THEN announced that this was a "private event"! The Boy Scouts (who weren't even there) would be releasing the turtles first and if there were any left, those of us who had been waiting hours MIGHT get a chance to release a baby! He told us to form a line and wait. By now it's dark and Max is really getting antsy. Suddenly we see the Boy Scouts, at least a hundred of them. We were jostled around, pushed around and continued to wait. The first line of Scouts finally got their turtles and away they went, though I couldn't see a darned thing for all the people in the pitch black, no lights allowed. When the clock turned 7:45 and more and more Scouts were coming, we realized that we were not going to get our chance and we had to somehow get Max out of there without having a meltdown.

Poor, poor kid. He thought he was there to do something good, to help the turtles. He was crying and saying he had to help them, they needed to go home and find their mommies. He was saying it was HIS turn. And in my mind, he was right. We got there early, checked in with an official and three hours later we left with nothing except the feeling that the whole thing was very poorly organized. There were a lot of disappointed little kids on that beach. If the official had told us right from the start that it was a "private" event, we would have enjoyed the beach for half an hour and then gone home. Instead, we had to explain to a sensitive little three year old why he couldn't help but all the kids who showed up at the last minute could. Poor guy.

Anywho, always looking for the silver lining, we did get to enjoy the beach at a dusk. We are usually early birds so don't often see the sun going down with all it's pink colours or the moon reflecting on the water. The turtles were released and able to find their way to the ocean (or so I was told, I couldn't see a thing). The turtle rescue and release programs are invaluable and I applaud their efforts, I just hope we get a chance to contribute in the future.

Playa Marlin late afternoon
Looking North up the Hotel Zone strip

Dusk Over Sea

Playa Marlin Looking South

I wish I could have captured the moon's
reflection on the water, it was lovely

Friday, October 10, 2008

Five Year Mexicoversary!

Today it's official, I have been living in Mexico for five whole years. Five years of joy, pain, excitement, terror, confusion, bliss, harmony, stress, boredom, disharmony, peace, change and love. You know, just what all of you have felt in your life in the past five years, normal stuff, but in another language and in a foreign country.

In thinking about how to blog this, my brain jumped from sentimental sop to cheesy irreverence, purely photo post to no pics please, I just couldn't decide how to express all that has happened to me or all that I have learned in five years. And I still haven't, there's just too much to say, I don't think
it's possible for one blog post to tell the whole story. I guess that's why we blog in the first place, to have multiple opportunities to plod through the morass of information and experiences we gather in our journeys of life.

So, I will leave it at this and keep it simple. I would not change a thing about the last five years. I've made a lot of mistakes, but I've learned from them. A lot of bad things have happened to me, but they have made me a better, more prepared human being. I've learned Spanish, I've learned how to be a mom, I've learned how to be a better daughter and sister and wife, I've learned how to cook like a "señora", I've learned how to survive a monster hurricane, I've learned how to deal with parasites and thimble jelly fish and time share sales people, I've learned how to live without luxuries, I've learned how to live without electricity or running water or gas, I've learned to not wear shiny jewelry when snorkeling, not to eat tacos from the back of a van, not to put the toilet paper in the toilet, I've learned about the folk tales and traditions of the Yucatan peninsula, I've even learned a little Maya. I've probably learned more about myself than anything, what I am capable of and what my limitations are and what I need from life to be happy.

Thanks to Hubby and Max and kitties and doggy and friends and family and cyber friends and bloggers for keeping me sane, teaching me new things and helping me through all the trials and tribulations of life in Mexico. This is a journey that cannot be done alone and I truly appreciate the gifts I have received from all of you.

(I guess I went to sentimental sop after all, eh?)

I'm trying to put together a slide show of pics, they'll be coming soon but the net is SuperSlow today! As soon as it's ready, I'll get it up for your viewing pleasure.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Mexican Citizenship Quiz: Part Dos

Living in Mexico with no plans to return to Canada, I do plan on applying for my Mexican citizenship. Technically, the rules state that you must have your FM2 for two years before being eligible to apply, so I've got some time to study for the citizenship exam. And thank the goddess I do, because the questions are getting tougher and tougher!

Back in May I posted the first set of "official" questions potential citizens would be asked in order to receive the blessing of the Secretary of Exterior Relations to become Mexican. A kind poster on CancunCare, my favourite Cancun forum, posted the latest set of questions which were just released last week. The website indicates that they are going to expire in April so it looks like they will be changing the questions every six months.

The questions are TOUGH. Tougher than the last set and the questions are certainly more obscure. I sat down with Hubby last night to look them over and he kept shaking his head. and saying "No manches". He's an educated and intelligent man and he knew a lot of the answers but he said that it seems the test was designed for failure. I would guess that most Mexicans would fail this test. Yes, I believe that we should know about Mexican history and culture and traditions to become citizens, but these questions really seem to be advanced, university level history questions.

So, you think you know Mexico? Let's see if we can answer just five of the one hundred questions. Remember, the test must be taken in Spanish! Alright, alright, I'll provide the English translations for you....

1. ¿En que año creo que el instituto mexicano del seguro social? (IMSS)
(In what year was the Mexican Institute of Social Security created?)

¿A quien se le conoce como "el hombre de Tepexpan"?
(Who was known as "The man of Tepexpan"?

3. Mencione dos de los rasgos caracteristicos de la culture de Cuicuilco
(Mention two characteristics of the Cuicuilco culture)

4. Mencione el nombre de los dos generales que fueron fusilados junto con Maximiliano de Habsburgo?
(Mention the name of the two generals who faced the firing squad with Maximiliano of Hapsburg?)

¿Quien ocupo la secretaria de instruccion publica y bellas artes durante el periodo de 1901 a 1911 y que fue declarado "maestro de america"?
(Who occupied the position of Secretary of Public Instruction and Fine Arts between 1901 and 1911 and was declared "master of America"?)

Toughies. I suppose it's good in a way, it's forcing me to look for the information which forces me to study and learn, but sheesh, I was having such fun learning the national anthem, from the first test this stuff is a big yawn in comparison to marching around the house calling all the Mexicans to join me in war! Of course, in 2 1/2 years when I can apply for my citizenship, the questions will all be different again, but I suspect I am going to need all that time to learn the itty bitty details they seem to be looking for.

So, anyone know the answers without Googling? Jonna, you kicked some butt on the first one, help me out here!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Que Rico los Tacos Rigos!

Living on a budget we rarely ever go out to eat, and when we do, we go some place relatively cheap, but definitely yummy. We've always got to take into consideration our rambunctious three year old too, so no "fancy schmancy" restaurants for us! On Sunday evening we decided to splurge, heck to the budget and went out for tacos. Tacos Rigos is "expensive" for us, but we went for it anyway, the tacos are always yummy and Max likes the decor. I had one bistec, one chuleta and one arrachera taco, Max had two bistec and Hubby had (are you ready for this?), one taco de ojo (EYEBALLS), one lengua (tongue), one suadero (I think it's like brisket) and one surtido (mixed). Ok, seriously, I cannot eat food that is looking at me but he insists it's delish! Hubby and Max split a fabulously fresh glass of mango juice and I had a chelada (beer and lime). The bill was 145 pesos (around $14 bucks), pretty good for all the food we had! Well worth the splurge not having to cook too!

Tacos Rigos, in Cancun since 1988

Always busy (and brightly lit)

Can you see why Max likes the decor?

I heart Chief Wiggum

Max the professional taco eater. He asked for more hot salsa.

Friendly, camera loving kitchen staff

Hubby's odd selection of tacos. Can you see the eyeballs?

And there is your Canucka restaurant report from Cancun. Tacos Rigos is located downtown, close to Market 28, on the glorieta on Palenque. They've got delivery and they cater parties too, I'm always happy to see Rigos at the fiestas!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Kitty Update!

So there was a little mix up on Thursday and the kitties did not get their manhood removed until Saturday. The people at RAP were lovely, can't blame them for a little misunderstanding with all the animals they were taking care of last week! So, when we took them on Saturday afternoon, I was able to observe the surgery on poor little Ziggy! I LOVE biology and have no problem with blood or guts, though it was hard to look in his little eyes and watch him kicking while they were cutting. They had to give him a little extra "goofy juice" to calm him down and complete the surgery, but all went well. I had to ask to see their little testes afterwards (yeah, I'm a sick puppy but come on ladies, I think we've all wanted to see some balls removed, oops, did I cross a line?) Little kitty testes look like pinto beans, in case you were wondering. And no, I didn't take any pictures, though I wish I had.

I was supposed to go to a party on Saturday afternoon, but because of the unexpected operation, I had to stay home with the fur babies for their recovery. Poor kittehs, waking up from the goofy juice had them very confused and disoriented! Their first steps were reallllllly wobbly, Buzz fell over a couple of times and almost went down the stairs, glad I was here. Ziggy had the extra juice so woke up a couple hours after Buzz, one eye shut and his head on crooked. Poor babies needed lots of love and comfort but didn't appear to be in any pain. I snuggled up with them on the couch and just kept them quiet and calm while the never quiet or calm Max went to the movies with his Daddy. Two hours of peace in the house? Whoohooo! Almost unheard of around here!

The next day they were back to their normal funky selves, jumping all over, eating like champs and purring up a storm. Love my (used to be) boys (kidding of course, they don't lose their boyness)! And now, some recent pics of the furry little brothers.

Zonked in the "Recovery Center"

I TRIED to get a nice pic of them together
IMPOSSIBLE. This is as close as I could get.

Just Ziggy, looking contemplative.

A Strange Shot of Buzz. I swear he is not an alien.

And who is this you say? Guest Kitty!
Guest kitty is the neighbour's cat named Mimi
who seems to spend more time in our house than
her own. The furboys like having a lady around. Thank
goodness they are all now fixed, it was like living in a
"cat house" of ill repute here, I was constantly preventing
kitty "love" for a few weeks! I felt like a real party pooper. :)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

It's All About the Animals

Today has turned out to be all about our pets. Buzz and Ziggy have gone off to be neutered, thanks to the fine folks at RAP, a local animal rescue center that offers free sterilization clinics. Our lovely friend Rivergirl helps a lot with RAP and she helped us out big time by offering to take the kitties out to the clinic this morning. Our morning schedule just didn't allow us to get them out for the 7:00 am check in, so we owe her big time. So, I was up early and knocking on Rivergirl's door at 6:15 am with two quiet little kitties in a cage. I pick them up at 4 this afternoon to give them a whole lot of love and reassurance that they have not been abandoned to the wilds of Bonfil (area outside of Cancun). Rivergirl was concerned about both of them being in the same kennel, but they are joined at the hip, I think they would be more scared if they were apart. So, they are in close quarters but at least they've got each other!

Lola (our little mutt) on the other hand appears to be ill. Two days ago I noticed that her fur was coming out in big clumps, her skin was red and she was scratching a lot. She chews at herself, therefore ingesting huge clumps of fur and subsequently regurgitating (too much information?). The vet came this morning to pick her up (gotta love delivery service!) and take her in to be checked out, shampooed, shaved and treated for ticks and fleas. Poor girl, she looked so miserable! The vet's assistant said they'll probably have to give her some pills for the skin problem, hopefully she'll be super healthy again soon. I suspect she has some sort of fungus or something, she lives outside but has no contact with other animals so I hope it's not something worse than that. Waiting for the call from the vet to see how she is doing. Hopefully she'll come back smelling a whole lot better too, lol, I want a shower after picking her up, poor baby was STINKY!

Now the plea for help. RAP (Respete, Ayuda, Protege/Respect, Help, Protect) is a fabulous and much needed organization in Cancun. There is a huge problem here with street animals, an overpopulation of starving dogs and kitties with no one to look out for them. It's hard to travel even a block without seeing some poor animal desperately looking for a meal, most of them ill and un-sterilized. RAP does their best to rescue street animals, sterilizing them and making them well, then trying to find good homes for them. They NEED YOUR HELP! This is a totally voluntary, not-for-profit venture and they rely on donations. If you would like to make a monetary donation, you can deposit directly into their bank account, HSBC #4041225939, company name "Respeta, Ayuda y protege A.C.". If you are in Cancun or Quintana Roo, they always need supplies as well, they have a list of what they need here. There is contact info on their homepage (currently in Spanish but I know an English version is coming). They have lots of animals looking for homes, if you can take in one of these gorgeous little babies, karma will reward you.

So please, find a way to help RAP, or your local humane society. Volunteer, adopt or make a donation, it does a heart good! Love the furbabies you've got and give them a big hug just for being healthy and an important part of your life.

Send healthy, healing vibes to my babies today too, I know they are going to be just fine, but they are still my babies and a mama worries, ya know?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Catching Up

This is what we call a post without a focus, a general wrap up of the current life of the Canucka. Things have been moving along, a lot of my days have been focused on Max and preparing him for his exams. Yes, he is three years old and has exams! His first exam was in English on Monday, yesterday was mathematics and today is Spanish. He passed English with flying colours, now we'll see how he pulls off math and Spanish. We realized in studying that in some areas his English is stronger, in others it's Spanish, I guess that is to be expected. Some folks have responded negatively when I tell them he has exams, that it's too much for a little kid, but I think it's great. It's not a high pressure situation, it's just an evaluation of how well he is learning and it's done in a fun environment. Basically they are preparing him for the future and getting him into good work and study habits, I really appreciate that.

Sunday we went to a baby shower for a friend. I caught up with a lot of friends from the ex-pat circle, had a few beers and cake and some laughs. It was discovered that no one, Mexicans included knew if there was a Spanish word for "baby shower". The invitations I have received here from Mexican friends and neighbours say "Vamos a mi baby shower!". The conclusion was that showers are an American phenomenon that have been embraced down south. And who could blame them? A big party celebrating the birth of your child and lots of good presents? Sounds like a good idea to me. What I like about most of the Mexican baby showers I have been to is that it is often not a women only event, it's a family party with lots of food and drinks, men, women and children included. The silly games still get played, but it's easier to slip away unnoticed and go hang with the kids and men if the hilarity becomes too much.

Monday was Hubby's birthday. We've been really tight with money lately so I wasn't able to pull off a giant celebration, it was just the three of us at home with balloons, arrachera and cake. Max was ecstatic about having a party! He surprised me a few times, number one when HE decided it was a surprise party and hid behind the couch, jumping out and yelling "Sorpresa!" when Hubby walked in. That was totally unprompted, not sure where he got that idea! He grabbed Hubby's hand and wanted to show him everything we did for the party all at once. He then said "Feliz cumpleaños papa, te quiero mucho" ("Happy birthday, I love you a lot") and gave him a big hug and kiss. Hubby actually teared up, sentimental moment when your little guy does that without being asked to. When we pulled out the cake, we had to do the candles a few times, once for Hubby, and several times for Max. When the cake was served, Max cracked us up by chanting (again unprompted) "Mordida, mordida, mordida!", which means it's time to shove the birthday boys face into the cake, which I was more than happy to do.

Last night I met another new doctor, I liked him, he told me nothing which was great. The first doctor jumped to some big conclusions, this guy is sending me for more tests before he says anything which is much better as far as I am concerned. Hopefully we'll get to the bottom of this health thing, I lost another kilogram (2.2 pounds) this past month without making any changes in diet or exercise, I am now less than 120 pounds, haven't been this light since high school!

And that's about it really, nothing very exciting to share. Same old, same old as they say. The weather has been lousy, really rainy which always leaves me a bit depressed. We're seeing some sun peeking out right now, so my mood should brighten too. Hope you are having an excellent hump day!

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