Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Cancun Beach Recovery Dec. 22/2009

The Cancun beach recovery continues on its merry way, working south down the hotel zone strip. Incredible changes? Yes! Controversial? Of course. It's impossible to know what the long term environmental impact will be, but in the short term, this is a project that will keep a million people in the state employed. No beach, no tourists, no tourists, no jobs, no jobs, no food, no food, crime goes sky high. I'm split on this one to be honest, love it and hate it at the same time. The beaches look incredible and I am happy that tourism will come back ($$$), but I hate what this is probably doing to the reefs where they are dredging up sand. Anywho, what I think is neither here nor there, it's not going to change matters so we might as well enjoy the benefits of the project which are really huge, stunning beaches.

I went out to the beach this morning to see what I could see and was once again amazed by the progress. I stopped by Playa Marlin (the public access beach by Plaza Kukulkan and Barcelo Tucancun) and was wowed. Two weeks ago I couldn't walk down that beach, rocks everywhere and water crashing against the wall. Now it's humoungous and I walked all the way down to the Royal Sands. There was a very happy group of guests there as it was the first day they had opened the beach, put out lounge chairs and umbrellas and allowed people to enjoy the new stretch of sand. I drove a bit further south and checked out the area next to Cancun Palace and Le Meridien. The bulk of the equipment is at Le Meridien and the Ritz right now and should be hitting the Cancun Palace and the Marriotts next week (my own guess, I don't have any official word on that). Here are a couple of pics, you can see the whole set by clicking here.

Playa Marlin Cancun Before and After Beach Reconstruction
Playa Marlin Before and After

Beach Behind Royal Sands Cancun
Royal Sands Beach After

Looking out at the beach behind the Royal Sands

Video of the brand new Royal Sands Beach

Whatever you think of the environmental impact of the project, you can not deny that the work is pretty amazing. Now, let's hope they take all the precautions they are supposed to to make it stick and that we never have to do it again! I also urge people to take care of the beach, bring a bag for your garbage and pick up a little bit of what others leave behind as well, keep our beach clean and safe for wildlife and all of us please! I would hate to see all of this being done only to find the beaches full of the detritus of humans.

Peace out!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Holiday Greetings from Canucka and Family

The very first Simpson's episode from years and years ago starts with Marge writing the family Christmas letter, "We've had some sadness and some gladness this year...", a classic TV moment. This time of year I seem to take on her raspy voice in my head, though I refuse to wear the blue beehive so I thought I might write our own family Christmas letter.

Dear Friends and Family,
Ho ho ho, feliz navidad! It's been an odd year, one of changes and struggles, two steps forward, fourteen steps back. Hubby and I both have new jobs, my switch a bit more complicated than Hubby's, in fact the change for me was probably the most difficult hurdle we faced this year. Who knew that taking a step forward was going to cause so much stress? I'm happy with my new challenge and enjoying the work so all the hassles were worth it! I will miss teaching and want to send a special greeting to all my old coworkers, love you all and I want to say thanks to my new coworkers for giving me a warm welcome to their world.

Piggy flu was "News of the Year" around here, the whole brouhaha of H1N1 took its toll on the country of Mexico and certainly on the city of Cancun. Both hubby and I took pay cuts and lost hours for the forced closures of businesses and bazillions of tourist dollars were lost due to the media frenzy. We're grateful that we did not get sick, but saddened by the deaths and illnesses of so many around the world. If I had to find a positive side to the flu, at least I had a lot to write about for a few months!

Max is a pretty typical four year old and he is the center of our universe. And he knows that and uses the information to his advantage! He's a pretty smart cookie, but he never, ever, EVER shuts up! He is doing great in school, at least in terms of his exam results and what he is learning. We get "the talk" from his teachers every week about his behaviour, he bounces off the walls all day and won't sit down to work, but at least he's not a biter or a spitter like some kids in his class. He's still got the same girlfriend, I think they're going on two years now, must be love! He's obsessed with Michael Jackson and his moonwalk is coming along nicely. The genital grab and thrust move is perfected (yeah, we're thrilled).

We had a few adventures this year, enjoying Garrafon Park, Rio Secreto, snorkeling all over the place, cenote visits, a vacation in Akumal with my parents, a trip to Chichen Itza and the absolute highlight, swimming with whale sharks! We are so fortunate to have an abundance of opportunities to explore our natural world and teach Max about respect for the planet and how to enjoy life to the fullest. While life in Mexico is not all sunshine and light, at least we can escape from the negatives and immerse ourselves in the positives that surround us in this beautiful place. While it's easy to become depressed thinking about politics, corruption, pollution, poverty, and crime, we need only look to the natural and historical world around us to find the balance in our souls.

We're looking forward to the new year and the new decade and all that 2010 will bring. From myself, Hubby and Max, we wish you a very happy holiday season and a fantastic new year! May all your wishes be fulfilled, may your cups be full of tequila, may you have sun on your back and an ocean breeze in your hair. Salud!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Paper Chase Continues

It would have been really nice to think that after chasing paper all over North America for my FM2 for almost three months that I would be done and could just settle in to a "work/get paid/work/get paid" routine. But oh no, of course not, life in Mexico can't be THAT easy. To work in Mexico you need paper on top of paper and copies of the copies.

When I got my first job here years ago I had to register with "Hacienda", basically the Canada Revenue Agency (IRS for you Americans) and with IMSS (social security). That makes sense, you work, you pay taxes, easy. There are some not so easy parts attached to this though. You have to bring piles of ID but as a foreigner we have different ID that can be confusing for some poor office drone who is accustomed to Mexican after Mexican just coming in with their IFE card (national identification, like a voter card). The biggest confusion is the "apellido materno". In Mexico, everyone has two last names, the father's name first followed by the mother's maiden name. All ID has both names on it, every form you'll fill out anywhere has the line for it. As a Canadian without a "apellido materno", this has caused several problems over the years. I have learned not to fill in that particular line of the forms as inevitably the entire form will have to be done again as my mother's maiden name is not on my identification. Registering with Hacienda was a few months of battling nitpicky paperhounds and with IMSS it was just a mess. (It doesn't help that my name is easy to spell incorrectly even for fellow Canucks). Between the misspellings and the non-existent mother's maiden name, what should be a simple procedure just turns into a giant headache.

So, I've been registered for years, have my CURP and my RFC and my IMSS, the full abcedario of numbers. The problem I am currently having is that no one can seem to find my IMSS number. I went to IMSS yesterday to get this straightened out. I put on my best Mexicana face and patiently endured more than three hours of waiting in line. When they finally called my number (408), I got to the window and they said "no tenemos sistema, regresas mañana". Basically, the system was down......and has been down for weeks! So why on earth do they allow thousands of people to wait hours in line only to tell them one at a time that the system is down? How about some bristol board and a magic marker for a sign that says "Hoy No" (not today). I truly thought my head would explode. So the battle continues.

The other lovely piece of paper that I need to work is called the "antecedente no penales", a document I had to get from the police swearing that I don't have a criminal record. Last week I spent three hours of my life with that tramite (application), submitting digital fingerprints to AFIS, photos, more copies of my ID floating in the files of the government, I'm surprised they didn't ask for DNA. Luckily I picked up the completed and stamped document yesterday and all was well, apparently I am not an international jewel thief on the run. Aside from the time I spent in lines and the endless copies, this was just about the easiest paper I have ever "tramited" (I'm making up words now).

So, you wanna move to Mexico, are your papers in order? Here are the things I have learned to always carry with me:

1. Passport and two copies of the picture page
2. FM2 and two copies of the picture page, the address page and the latest "proroga"
3. Comprobante domicilio, original and two copies. The comprobante domicilio is a water, electric or phone bill, you must carry one that is recent and it must have your address on it. Some places don't accept phone bills, so it's best to carry water and electric. Funny how this document is requested EVERYWHERE, but it doesn't even have to have your own name on it. Go figure.
4. CURP/RFC numbers
5. Valium and a flask

I am a grumpy girl these days, hours of my life spent waiting in line and chasing paper. I figure once this is all done, it will be time to renew my FM2 again, so I might as well just get used to it. My kingdom for a doppelganger, a clone who is specially created just for lining up for tramites! I'd give an arm and a leg for that, well, at least a piece of my DNA. Clone would smile pleasantly after hours in line, be able to sweet talk the tired clerks or tell them off in flawless street Spanish when the tired clerks become tired jerks. Oh clone, how I would love thee! Alas, clone is just a dream, I must continue the paper chase today and try again with IMSS. Send me any extra patience you've got please!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Back to Back

A long time ago in a galaxy 2382 kms away, I was a dancer. No, not THAT kind of dancer, a ballet, tap, jazz, modern, Hawaiian, Scottish fling kind of dancer. I started young and spent my childhood in classes and travelling for competitions and when it came time to go to university, I chose to study a BFA in dance. That dream came to an end when I had a bad fall and put my back out of commission, ending my life as a dancer forever.

I was forever in and out of physical therapy, massage therapy, shiatsu, acupuncture, moxibustion, cupping, if it was going to ease my pain, I was doing it. After a few years I started doing yoga and pilates and trying to gain strength and mobility again. When I arrived in Mexico, it all kind of went out the window for a variety of reasons and I have not been taking care of my spinal health. The only exception was during my pregnancy when I thought my back might implode with the pain of carrying that load. I saw a chiropractor two or three times a week while knocked up and he did a great job of keeping me on my feet.

Since then I have had pain on and off, headaches and I never feel exactly "right". After last week's incident, it was obviously time to get checked out and start taking care of business. I visited with a great osteopath and this week went for x-rays to check out the ole skeleton. Reading the report from the radiologist was enough to make me paranoid, lots of big medical words (in Spanish of course) which I Googled madly. I have a whack o' knowledge of my inner workings and studied a lot of physiology and biology, but there were a couple of things I didn't quite get. Syndesmophyte for example, a growth on the ligament (yes, had to look it up). Is that bad? Good? Normal? Am I a freak? A hunchback in the making? In the end I decided to relax and look to the experts for an analysis.

After visiting with the osteopath last night, I feel better, concerned, but motivated to make some lifestyle changes. In the most basic of terms, I have C-curve scoliosis and the spine is also twisted and torqued. There are lesions on some of the discs, the discs are not aligned, some discs are degenerating and others are starting to come together. There are some cysts on the lumbar discs that are a bit of a concern, but the osteo is going to get a third opinion on the matter. The radiologist recommended getting a CAT scan, but the doc wants another opinion before sending me for a very expensive test. He said the treatment is the same whether we get the test or not, so it's probably not necessary. (I hope not, 7000 pesos is a bit out of our price range).

For now, the plan of attack is simple. Visit with the osteo once a week for massage and gentle therapies and swim, swim, swim. Once I get strong enough, I can start some yoga and pilates classes and the visits to the doc will go down to once or twice a month. I am very happy with this doctor, he is not calling for prescriptions and surgery, just exercise and care. I am really happy with his prices too, a perk of the job gets me a rate of 200 pesos per consult/treatment, yes, about $15 USD for massage, adjustments, the whole shooting match. Can't beat that with a stick. Now, to find the time to swim without a 17 kg sea monster named Max hanging off my neck, wish me luck!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Ironwoman I am Not

I was a busy lady last weekend, jetting south (ok, there was no jet, just a funky old VW convertible) to Playa del Carmen for the Riviera Maya Jazz Festival then over to Cozumel for the Ironman. Part work, part pleasure, though I guess calling it "work" would be a bit of a stretch. My dear friend LisaLoveLoca joined me in the adventure, picking me up in Carmen (yes, the car has a name) on Saturday morning for a kid-free weekend.

La Rana Cansada

We arrived in Playa in the early afternoon and checked into our hotelito "La Rana Cansada". Heather had recommended the place and it was perfect for us. Cute little garden with birds singing, a resident doggie named Jazz, a swan towel on the bed, and at 500 pesos, not a bad deal. We dumped our bags, got in our swimsuits and set out into the wilds of 5th Avenue. My online friend Janie was staying in Playa and we made our way towards her hotel to see if we could find her. Behold, Janie and her husband were on the beach with another local friend! We spent the afternoon chatting and getting to know each other in person and enjoying the company. As the sun went down, we started to shiver (when your body is used to high temps, anything under 80 F is shiver time) and went back to the hotel for sweaters and jeans. We grabbed some tortas on a back street and made our way towards Mamitas beach for the start of the jazz fest.

Al Jarreau!

The show was just awesome. Huge stage on the sand, great sound and light system and a few thousand people enjoying the performances. A few thousand people sharing one bathroom was not a highlight of the night I must admit. Al Jarreau was a great showman and Herbie Hancock rocked it. We left before the end of the show to try to avoid the mad crush, waltzed back to the hotel and crashed out for the night.

LisaLove and the best tortas in town

The next morning we agreed that coffee was necessary and that cochinita tortas from the street vendors near the bus station were essential. Caffeinated and full of greasy pig, we hopped on the Cozumel ferry and went to sea. Some of you may know that my first home in Mexico was in Cozumel, but it had been about four years since I had been over there. I was completely disoriented when we got off the boat, they've gone and built a whole new ferry dock that left us bewildered. Exiting the ferry dock and seeing the town square, all was familiar again so we set off in search of some Ironman triathlon action.

Rutger Beke Ironman Cozumel Champion

Cozumel was ALIVE for Ironman, it was so fantastic to see so many locals out cheering on the athletes and people from all over the world waving flags in support of their country's participants. I just can't believe what the human body is capable of, the winner finished the race in about 8 hours and 19 minutes. 8 hours and 20 minutes of full out exercise? Zoiks Scoob! I enjoyed my day immensely, though I knew I was going to be sore from trekking all over Playa and Cozumel carrying a heavy pack, purse, cameras, water, blah blah blah.

In "my" crow's nest at Viva Mexico!

What I didn't realize was that I was going to be more than sore. By Monday afternoon I was immobile, screaming in pain and crying pitifully. Hubby took me to see an osteopath and he gave me a massage, some sort of hot suction thingy, a good crackety crack and the TENS. I walked in with a pain level of about 11 (on a scale of 1-10) and left at about a 9. The doc ordered up some x-rays and some pain meds and told me to chill. No salsa dancing, no heavy lifting. Tuesday morning I could not even get out of bed, I was literally stuck, not just painful to move but not capable of moving. I was trapped in bed all day until Hubby got home to help me get out, help me get dressed and to get me the heating pad and liniment. I'm slowly gaining mobility and the pain is lessening, but I am still achy and can only move my neck a wee bit. Will go to the lab for x-rays tomorrow to see if this is disc damage or just a result of gettin' old and being out of balance.

I am soooo not an Ironwoman. Apparently I get injured just watching triathlons.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

What's Up With Canucka

Well hi. I haven't disappeared completely, here I am! And I can finally share the skinny, give you the scoop, let the cat out of the bag as to what I have been up to and why I haven't been posting. Four score and....ook, about three months ago a company approached me about coming to work for them. After five happy years of teaching, I wasn't all that interested in making the move. A little negotiating here and there and they made me an offer that was tough to refuse and I accepted the new position. No more pencils, no more books, no more getting up at the butt crack of dawn to turn "boos" into "bus". I quit my wonderful teaching position and said goodbye to some of my oldest friends in Cancun.

I knew that the toughest part of making the move was going to be immigration, it's always stressful and never seems to go the way it should for me. The company promised that they would take care of all the arrangements and we moved forward with all the documentation. Legally and technically, you must quit your job before you can make the application to change but you are not allowed to start the new job until you have permission from INM. Let's just say that not everyone follows the rules, ahem. A few weeks into the process and human resources contacted me that they needed further documents for the immigration ordeal. Documents that I have never had to produce before and that needed to come from Canada and be "apostilled". I quickly discovered that the apostille does not exist in Canada and went about finding out what I needed to do. Blah blah blah, high school diploma and university transcripts, authenticated and legalized and Fedexed to Mexico (only $500 CAD uh huh). Once here, they all needed to be officially translated and finally brought in to the INM office. I was fretting, stressed, making myself crazy. Here I am getting a job in social media (will get into that in a second) and all my education was in dance. Yes, that's right, I went to university for dance, you know, a wise investment in my future. I thought for sure I was going to be denied and left up the creek without a job. What my education of more than 15 years ago had to do with my current job, I will never know, but in the end the papers were approved and I have my FM2 in my hot little hands again. Thank all the gods, goddesses and powers that exist in the universe, I am not going to be deported and I can work and actually talk about my work!

So, onto the job. My title is "community manager" and I am responsible for writing several blogs (four at the moment) and developing a "social media" presence. In simplest terms, I guess you could say I blog and play on Facebook and Twitter all day, though in reality it's a bit more involved than that. Of course, living where we do, it's a tourism company, hotels, tours and destination marketing. I am trying to accomplish everything in part-time hours (part of the negotiation) and I find myself busy busy busy. I go to bed at night thinking about work, I wake up in the morning thinking about work. It's not exactly a stressful job, but it does take over my brain. Part of my job includes "fam trips" (familiarization trips) in order to be able to write about tours, hotels and destinations from experience. Rough life huh? My job really is about doing things I love, exploring Quintana Roo and the Yucatan and writing about it, photographing it and sharing my experiences.

The only drawback is that I find I have no time (or energy!) to take care of my own blog. After writing all day, I only have enough left in me to take care of Max and have a bit of down time and nothing left for CancunCanuck. I was really hesitant to write about the new job before getting my FM2 in hand, so I am hoping that now that I am FREE to write about whatever I want, I'll get back into the groove again. I miss this blog, I miss catching up with all the other fabulous bloggers that are in my circle and I am going to make a huge effort to get back on the blogging horse. I know, promises, promises, someone kick me if I go too long without a post, 'kay?

Catch you soon, hasta pronto, I hope life is grand wherever you are!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Cancun Beach Recovery Update

Just a real quick update on the beach recovery project in Cancun, things are moving along! I went out to have a look at the action this week and my jaw quite literally hit the ground. I started talking to myself, just one word over and over "Wow.......wow......WOW!" We had been in the area a week previously and the difference is astounding. Check out these before and after pictures (as close as I got to being in exactly the same position, close enough that you get the general idea). These photos were taken from the Playa Cabana beach club behind The City discotheque.

Lifeguard Chair Before
(there is literally zero beach below there, water
was crashing against the wall)

Lifeguard Chair After
(Just a bit more beach)

Looking towards Punta Cancun Before
(here you can see the water hitting the wall)

Looking towards Punta Cancun After
(can't even see the sea!)

This is truly an impressive project, incredible what they can do in a week. The project is full steam ahead now, all the protests that were being put forth by environmental groups have been overturned and the sand moves on. I'll be honest, I am of a mixed mind on this. I know that it is absolutely essential for Cancun to have a beach in order to keep thousands of people employed. I also know that this will have a negative impact on the environment as they drag sand from Isla Mujeres and Cozumel. One can only hope that the partners in this plan do try to minimize the damage to the reefs and the eco-system. On another note, since we have already "been there, done that" with beach reconstruction only to see it disappear, it's essential that the partners follow through with their maintenance plan and to ensure that safeguards are in place to prevent further erosion of the beaches. While I support the project this time around, I would be against them trying to do it again if it fails, throwing millions of dollars away and destroying the eco-system. Do it right, maintain it and bring us all the joy of these gorgeous white beaches (and let us keep our jobs hallelujahamen).

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

My 3 Best Kept Travel Secrets

My friend Steven who writes the blog Travel Ojos nominated me to share three of my best travel secrets on A Canuck in Cancun as part of Trip Base Blog tag. The final list of travel secrets will be published in a special blog post and shared everywhere! (Now I am not sure I want to tell, the point of a secret is shhh, right? Just kidding of course, happy to share a couple off the beaten path places that I love). If you are a regular reader of this blog, you've heard me speak of these places before, but let's share the wealth, shall we?

1. Isla Holbox- Awww, my happy place. This small island off the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula is relatively undiscovered. No huge resorts, no theme parks, no timeshare salesmen, just small palapa style hotels on an unbelievably gorgeous stretch of beach. Holbox is best known as a jumping off point for swimming with whale sharks, a once a year phenomenon that will knock your socks off. It's also a great place for bird watching, with a population of flamingos and other birds gathering on the "Isla de Pajaros" off the west side of the island. To get to Holbox, you have to make your way to the small pueblo of Chiquila, about 2 1/2 hours from Cancun. Once in Chiquila, make your way to the docks and catch a small boat for a 20 minute ride to the island. Be sure to bring cash, there are no ATM's or banks, it's a truly rustic retreat. There are some "high end" palapa hotels like Sandra's, but reasonably priced hotels can be found. To really get in the rustic groove, bring a tent and camp out at Ida y Vuelta's camp ground. For a fantastic meal, you must try the famous lobster pizza at Edelin's, heavenly! This is truly a place to get away from it all and one of the best kept secrets around.

2. Cenote Azul- Cenotes are becoming more and more popular with tourists, especially with the development of "eco-parks" like Hidden Worlds and Aktunchen. For those who don't know, a cenote (pronounced "seh-noh-tay") is a natural sinkhole in the limestone, usually filled with fresh water. They were the main source of water for the ancient Mayans and considered to be sacred places. Quintana Roo and Yucatan are chock full of these wonders, many of them still undiscovered. Cenote Azul is still a local's secret! While you'll pay $50 USD (or more) to go to the cenote parks, Cenote Azul is a mere 50 pesos to enter. Take a walk down a rocky jungle path and before you even see the cenote the aroma of "fresh" will hit you. At the end of the path you'll discover a little Eden, a great place to swim and refresh, investigate the beautiful jungle fauna and even snorkel and chase the abundant little catfish that thrive there. Jump off the cliff if you dare! You won't find many tourists here, but on Sundays the local families fill the rocks around this natural pool.

3. Tacos Rigos- "Que Ricos los Rigos" (how delicious is Rigos!) is the tag line for this taqueria in Cancun. With over 20 years in business downtown, it's a favourite with locals for their delicious and inexpensive tacos. Go for lunch and order from the "comida corrida" menu, a starter (usually three soup choices), a main and a dessert for 53 pesos, a bargoon! I'm addicted to the regular old tacos de arrachera, but Hubby loves to freak me out by ordering the "tacos de ojo" (eyeball tacos). The walls are covered in a huge mural of cartoon characters, bright and garish and ever so fun. Rigos is not too far from Market 28, so we occasionally see tourists in there but it's still pretty much a secret spot for most travellers.

Now, it's my turn to nominate five bloggers to participate in the "Three Best Kept Travel Secrets". I'm going to step outside the box and nominate some folks that are not necessarily in Mexico and not necessarily travel bloggers, I'm just dying to hear what they have to say!

1. Sara of La Gringuita Diaries in Chile
2. Fned of Fned's blog in Paris, France
3. Minshap of Both Sides of the Coin in Puebla, Puebla, Mexico
4. Gary of The Mexile in Mexico City (DF as we say)
5. Mindy of The Rosas Standring Family in Tulum, Mexico

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Lionfish (Pez Leon) in Quintana Roo

The first time I heard about the "pez leon" was in this post from Anna, a fellow ex-pat in Mexico blogging in Cozumel. Since her post in April, I have read various reports of lionfish problems in Quintana Roo and today I had my first up close and personal encounter with these deadly reef assassins.

A bucketful of deadly beauty

We were having a lovely day on the beach in Puerto Morelos when we noticed a man going in and out of the water with a net and a bucket. We didn't think too much of it until a news crew showed up to interview the man. (An "only in paradise" news crew in bikini and swim trunks no less). I got my metiche (nosy) nose in the mix and approached to hear the interview and get a peek in the bucket. I saw the most beautiful fish, striped like a tiger with gorgeous wing-like fins. I promptly stepped back when I realized that I was looking at the deadly "pez leon" or lionfish. There were five in the bucket and the man said that there were a "monton" (a whole lot) right off the shore of the beach. The interview drew a crowd (I'm not the only metiche out there) and afterwards there seemed to be fewer people braving the waters on this beautiful Sunday.

Hard-hitting News Crew

The pez leon is not native to the Mexican Caribbean and is fairly new to this region. The first reports I can find are from the beginning of 2009 when people started to find this predator in the waters near Cozumel. The lionfish is more commonly found in the Indo-Pacific but have shown their ability to adapt to the warmer waters of the Caribbean Sea. There is speculation that the species was released into the Gulf of Mexico after a hurricane hit in Florida in 1992, destroying an aquarium with a few of these creatures and emptying them into the ocean. The lionfish is dangerous as it kills the coral in the reef, preys on other marine life and has poisonous spikes that can do significant damage to humans and could be deadly. The lionfish apparently has no natural enemies in these waters to help control their population and they are reproducing and spreading rapidly.

The CEA in Akumal recommends that divers report any sightings of lionfish but to NOT try to touch or capture this dangerous creature. Several environmental agencies are working together to capture and eradicate the population of lionfish in the hopes of preventing further damage to the reefs and the marine life that make this area home.

photo courtesy NOAA

While this all seems dire and serious (and it is for the future of the reefs), I have read NO reports of humans being harmed by the lionfish in Quintana Roo. They tend to keep their distance from divers and snorkelers and do not aggressively attack, but all who enter the waters in Quintana Roo need to be aware of these creatures. Do not approach them and do not touch them, report any sightings to your dive master or snorkel tour leader. If the worst should happen and you should come in contact with the poisonous spines, seek medical help immediately.

We enjoyed the rest of our day at the beach and yes, we did return to the water, perhaps a little more trepidatiously and more aware of might be lurking, but no little fishies were going to scare us off. We'll be back in the waters soon (and keeping an eye out for these gorgeous killers).

Friday, November 13, 2009

I Need a Little Something from Canada

This is what we call a shameless plug. Begging perhaps. A little cry for help. My good friend Matt from Toronto and his fiancee Kate have created a little ditty and entered the video into a contest to win a trip to Mexico. Now, I must admit, I'm being a bit selfish in my request for your votes, I would be the biggest winner in this whole thing as I would get a visit from some great friends from Canada! Oh sure they could win a free vacation, but I'm betting they'll bring me some Triscuits if I ask real nice.

Check out their video, it makes me smile!

Now, head over to the Hilton contest site and give a big thumbs up vote for "Why Kate Deserves to Go to Mexico" (you can vote once a day, more if you go to a different internet cafe every hour). You could help these ever so lovely people escape the dreary Canadian winner and help me get a little bit of love from home. (And Triscuits.)

Vote for me! Er, I mean, vote for Matt and Kate!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Vicks on the Soles of My Feet

After my little adventures in chasing Ida last week, I've come down with a nasty infection. Now, logically I know that it is a myth that you get sick from being wet or cold, you get sick from coming in contact with germs and bacteria, but regardless, I am blaming Ida. Wading in flooded streets just to run to the corner store, going to the beach to capture waves on film and getting a wee bit wet, then the ins and outs of air conditioning inside/humid and warm outside, somewhere along the way my system lost its ability to fight the germs and here I am at home with a nose full of mocos. It really hit me like a tonne of bricks, totally fine and healthy as a horse on Sunday night, a tickle in my throat Monday morning and by Monday afternoon a full on "Ithinkimgonnadie" sicky woman moaning on the couch.

I thought I would be ok just using the usual remedies, lots of liquids, echinacea, vitamin C and rest. And of course, Vicks Vaporub. If you live in Mexico, you know that Vaporub (pronounced vah-poh-roob) cures all. Not only does it get spread on the chest and back like mom used to do, but under the nose (in the nose in some cases though I am trying to convince Hubby that this is NOT appropriate or healthy) and on the soles of the feet. Soles of the feet? Ok, the first time I heard this I nodded and smiled and smeared baby Max's feet, all the while thinking it was a bunch of horse hockey. Now it's just part of the routine. Why or how it works is beyond me, but we slather the stuff on our tootsies, snuggle it all in under warm socks and somehow we feel better. Chinese medicine indicates that the feet are connected to the rest of the body (reflexology anyone?), so I suppose there is a good reason for it, just seems odd to me. Whatever floats yer boat, eh? (Such a Canadian expression!)

I woke up Tuesday morning feeling worse, having trouble catching my breath so off to the hospital we went. I don't have a GP here, I just rely on the ER if things get beyond my ability to self-medicate. Amerimed ER is our hospital of choice, we never wait to see a doctor and the price is right. Heck it's cheaper than the rate our pediatrician charges for a regular consultation. I paid 400 pesos for an ER visit, yep, less than $40 USD. No surprises in the diagnosis, an infection in the throat and upper respiratory system, antibiotics, painkillers and a decongestant were prescribed and an order to stay home for three days of "reposo" (rest).

So here I am, groggy from meds, walking around on squishy, greasy, Vahpohroob covered feet and trying not to cough on my boys. Drinking herbal tea (specially imported by Rivergirl, thanks amiga!), sleeping most of the day away and reading crappy books. The house is quickly becoming a disaster area, but I just don't have the oomph to get off my butt and clean. I can't smell anything anyway, so if something is rotting somewhere it's just going to have to wait. I'm CRAVING hot n sour soup from my favourite Szechwan restaurant in Toronto, but methinks I'll just have to make do with Hong Kong (not nearly as good). I should be back on non-greasy feet soon, but for now, I am off to bed (yes again, the dishes can wait!) to sleep away the sickies.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Hurricane Ida a Non-Event in Cancun

Well phooey and phew. "Phooey" because we had such an exciting build up and then nada (we like a little storm excitement around here), "phew" out of relief that nothing horrible happened. Hurricane Ida has come and gone from Cancun and the Yucatan Peninsula, making her way into the Gulf of Mexico. We did have a lot of rain this week, but not what I would consider "hurricane rain" and certainly no wind came our way. Even when she was at the closest point to Cancun, we were dry and wind-free. Friday and Saturday brought much heavier rains than today when she was supposed to make her biggest impact. There was some serious flooding downtown, but that's it, no pasa nada! Back to real life, school and work tomorrow and hopefully sunshine will be returning very soon. Usually after a big storm we're back to blue skies fairly quickly, I suspect by tomorrow (Monday) or Tuesday the tourists will be bronzing their backsides on the beach once again.

I took a trip out to the hotel zone this morning to grab some photos and video of the ocean, I was hoping for some waves and got'em! I got kicked off the beach at Playa Delfines by Civil Protection, but snuck back in to a couple of different spots. I'm such a rebel.

Foamy Beach at Playa Delfines

Surfer's Heaven
(though I saw no one foolish enough to try)

I LOVE A Stormy Sea

I wouldn't want to swim in it, but it was gorgeous to look at

And video from yesterday's flooding downtown....

And that's that. My thoughts go out to of all those in Central America who suffered much more than we did here (at least 42 dead in El Salvador) and I wish lots of luck to those still in Ida's path. For those of us in Cancun and the Riviera Maya, we're all good, we're done with Ida and hopefully done with hurricanes until next year.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Tropical Depression Ida- Cancun Weather

The last few days we've been watching the storm named Ida as she has made her way north over Central America. Yesterday it was a category 1 hurricane as it hit Nicaragua, lost strength over land and was downgraded to a tropical storm, then further downgraded to tropical depression. It is now moving into the Caribbean Sea and making its way to the Yucatan Peninsula. There is a lot of speculation about what may happen over the next couple of days, all we know for sure is that we are going to get wet! It's been raining all week and today it has really been coming down hard. Streets are flooded and word on the street is that tuna is a hot item in the supermarkets. The civil protection agency has put the state of Quintana Roo on low level alerts (green alert at the moment), advising the population to prepare for some bad weather.

In looking at the various weather sites, it seems there is no definitive forecast for what Ida may become in the next couple of days. Lots of speculation about her intensity, though it seems fairly clear that she will cross over the Yucatan Peninsula. Currently Ida is "just" a tropical depression, meaning lots of rain but no serious winds. We'll be watching the National Hurricane Center, Stormpulse and Dr. Jeff Master's Wunderground blog to see what develops over the next little while. It appears the worst of the bad weather will hit sometime on Sunday afternoon, with the storm moving into the Gulf of Mexico on Monday. In the meantime, we're sticking close to home, trying to stay dry! Depending on what happens in the morning, we may just be making a tuna run ourselves, though I am not overly concerned at the moment.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Cancun Beach Recovery Has Begun

After many set backs and problems and a pile of political back and forth, the beach recovery project has started in Cancun. I took a little trip out to the hotel zone today (Sunday) to see what I could see and to try to get some pictures. What luck, I could see, I took photos and I chatted with one of the guys working on the project!

Today they were working behind the Sunset Hotel. There was one large boat, two mid-sized boats and one little "panga" out in the water. Large pipes were coming from the big boat to the shore where several pieces of sand moving machinery were waiting. The man I was speaking with told me that there are two of the large boats, moving back and forth between Isla Mujeres and Cancun, taking turns bringing sand to the hotel zone. The large boats weigh about 15 to 20 tonnes when empty and are carrying 5000 cubic meters of sand with each trip. Unloading the sand onto the shore takes about 45 minutes to an hour, quite an impressive feat. The two mid-sized boats apparently take care of the large pipes, while the small panga runs desperately around with a "maya" (that's what the guy said!), a type of fence hanging in the water that they are using to try to prevent the sand from flowing back out to sea during the process.

My contact said they will be working north right now, heading from the Sunset to Punta Cancun (Dreams), then they'll work their way south along the hotel zone. He told me that all of the work in Cancun should be completed in about three months, they'll then move on to Isla Mujeres, then to Playa del Carmen and finally to Cozumel. I do want to be clear, the man I was speaking with was not doing so in any official capacity, so take the information as "word on the street" rather than gospel, I have no way of knowing if his information is totally accurate. Please don't ask me when the project will be at your hotel, I have absolutely no way of knowing that, sorry!

Here are some photos of the big event....

The Big Boys of Sand Recovery

Closer View of the Big Beast of Sand
(it's sitting really low in the water as it was full of sand at this point)

The Pipe Chaser

The Little Panga With Maya
(can you see the dark stain of sand trying to escape?)

Danger! No one was allowed past this point
for obvious reasons

Ta Da! The Sand, The Sand, The Sand is Coming!

How Many Men Does It Take to Rebuild a Beach?

I managed to take some video of the event as well, not the highest quality video, but video nonetheless.

And there you have it, we have begun! In a few months time, if all goes well, if the aluxes doesn't interfere and mother nature keeps her nose out of things, we'll have the big, beautiful beach that is necessary for the future of Cancun and the tourism industry. Good luck team, mucha suerte!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Keeping Busy in Cancun

Busy, busy, busy. I haven't been this busy in a long time, I'm invigorated and exhausted at the same time. Life is all over the place and so is my mind. Still waiting for immigration papers, Max got sick, lots of writing to do and a couple of side trips, a bit of a crazy week.

Chichén Itzá

Monday and Tuesday I checked a couple of big things off my "must do" list by visiting Chichen Itza and Il Kil. Yep, six years here and had never been, just tough to do with a small, energetic child. Chichén was better than I even expected, after all that I've read and photos and videos and personal accounts, it held up to the hype. Il Kil was incredible, the "Shrangri La" of cenotes. The Mayaland Hotel was peaceful, full of green space, fruit trees and birds. A lovely, exhausting couple of days.

The Cenote Il Kil

Max got sick on Thursday night, woke up Friday morning with a fever. I had to stay home with him, poor little guy is just a different beast when he's sick. He's normally bouncing off the walls and non-stop chatter, but he just lay on the couch, all pasty white saying "baaa" like a little lost sheep. Saturday he was still warm, but feeling better so we just kept him home and tried to get him to keep still, but by then he was going a little loopy being cooped up.

I had plans to visit Holkan Kingdom on Saturday and left Max and Hubby to fend for themselves for the morning while I rode ATV's, the Shotover Jet and did a round of ziplines. I got to know some new friends better and had an exhilarating morning, nice adrenaline rush. Body. Hurts. Now. Again, again, faster, faster!

ATV Ride, Yeehaw...
(seriously, I think I said "yeehaw" on the trail)

Today (Sunday!), Max was a bit better and we needed to get out of the house. Thought a bit of fresh air, sunshine and ocean water would do us some good. Puerto Morelos was "tranquilo", calm waters, not too hot, not too windy, Max joined in a few pick-up soccer games with some big kids, I nodded off for a while and Hubby went for a little snorkel. The time change was really noticeable (and disappointing), the sun went down so early! We started to get "chilly" around 4:00 and came home, a bit earlier than normal for us. A much needed day to relax and unwind.

And now I am writing this blog, which could have been three blogs, alas, you get the summary and not the thesis on each topic. I'm sunny and tired and smelling of cocoa butter. Off to try to catch up, unless I just hit the hay. Either way, ciao for now, later skater, catch you on the flip side. (See how relaxed I am after a day in the sun?)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Michael Jackson is Coming to My Party

When Michael Jackson passed away, Max was a pretty confused and curious kid. Number one, he didn't really know who MJ was and number two, he didn't understand why mommy was crying like a baby over the man. My parents were here at the time and we watched the memorial service together, mourning the man who had played a huge role in my childhood. Max had a million questions. "What's in the box?", "Why is Michael Jackson in the box?", "When is he coming out of the box?", and so on and so on that lead to difficult conversations about death and dying.

Aside from having to explain the whole idea of passing away, I took the opportunity to give Max a little music history lesson. From "ABC" to "Man in the Mirror", we watched the videos, watched MJ's evolution and learned all about "Billie Jean". We talked about the message of the songs and Max was really into everything that Michael had to say. Every day Max would talk about Michael Jackson, trying to dance like him, singing "Beat it, beat it, beat it, beat it, beat it, beat it" over and over and over until I felt like "beating" my head against the wall.

Months later and he is still obsessed. He asks me to put on Michael Jackson songs every day. And Michael Jackson is coming to his party. Apparently the whole death and dying conversation hasn't really sunk in. I explain over and over that MJ can not come to the party, that he can not come back to the world, but Max insists that he will write him a letter and he will come back. Max has taken to telling strangers that MJ is coming to the party. In the line at the grocery store. At the bank. On the beach. At school, everyone knows that Michael Jackson is going to Max's party when he is a big boy of five. The other day we were at Coco's Grill and Max made his very first DJ request, running up to the booth and asking the DJ to play all Michael Jackson songs. He then proceeded to dance to "Thriller" and "Bad" and "Don't Stop til you Get Enough" in the shallow end of the pool. (Thank you Mr. DJ, you made a little boy very happy).

I'm not sure when this will pass, though I know it will. I dig that the kid likes the music and the message and he's got some mean Micheal moves. I am just not sure what to do about his party. We could absolutely get an impersonator to come to the party and have a great time with that, but will it confuse the whole death issue? I know that at five the line between fantasy and reality can be fuzzy, and I don't want to destroy illusions or crush the kid, would it be horrible to tell him that it's not the real Michael Jackson? Or do we just avoid the whole thing and get Spiderman? I hate to disappoint the kid, he really really wants an MJ party (and heck, I would have a whole lot more fun with that than with superheroes!), but I don't want to confuse him after months of telling him that he can't come back.

Well, his birthday is not until April, perhaps he will have moved on by then. Here's hoping it's on to something easier to explain, like zombies. In the meantime, we'll continue to practice our moonwalk and play with our pretend chimp Bubbles and carry on with plans to "heal the world and make it a better place".

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Apostilles in Canada....No existe!

My first few years in Mexico I would hear other ex-pats talking about getting their documents "apostilled" for immigration. I had never been asked for such a thing and had never even heard the term. I learned that an apostille is an internationally recognized form of notary, basically a stamp that indicates that a document is legitimate and legal. The apostille process was introduced to the world in 1961 with the "Hague Apostille Convention" in order to reduce the heavy amount of paperwork and expense needed to fully legalize a document for international use. Apostilles are applied to paperwork such as birth certificates, marriage and divorce certificates, bank statements and educational documents.

I always wondered why I had never been asked for such a thing, but just counted myself "lucky". My luck ran out this year. In the process of changing jobs, after six years of FM3's and FM2's, immigration has asked for my education documents, fully apostilled. I started to investigate how to do this and discovered that Canada does NOT HAVE apostilles. Greeeeeeeat. Now what. Googling around I learned that Canada did not sign the Hague Convention so instead of the nice and "easy" apostille, I have had to go through the "legalization and authentication" of my documents. What does that mean? One, I had to get the documents (thanks to a blogger friend in Toronto my university transcripts were obtained, THANK YOU Manolo!). The Toronto transcripts had to be Fedexed to my parents in Windsor who already had my high school diploma. They then had to get the docs notarized by a local lawyer. Next, they sent everything to Ottawa to a company that would take care of the legalization and authentication part of the game. Legalization came first from the Canadian government, and the documents were then sent to the Mexican Embassy for authentication. Fingers crossed, knocking on wood, that has now happened and hopefully the package is on its way to Mexico. The whole process has cost about $500 CAD plus all the courier fees.

But oh no, it's not over when they get here! Everything will need to be translated into Spanish and notarized again. More pesos flying out of my wallet and more time wasting before I can get my papers!

This has been quite the learning experience, and a giant ball of stress for me. Trying to do this from a distance is a killer! I think at this point, I would recommend that any Canadians who plan to move to Mexico start getting all your ducks in a row and find a local authority on the authentication and legalization process. It seems that every person I know has been asked for slightly different documents, so you never really know what you are going to need, but it's best to find out before you get here so you are not taken by surprise. It's time consuming and expensive and stressful.

I will be so relieved when this mess is finally over with, cross your fingers for me everyone!

Monday, October 12, 2009

6 Years of Living in Mexico

Don't let the title scare you, this will not be a recounting of the last six years of my life, I promise! October 10th 2003 I boarded my flight to Cancun from Toronto thinking I would be returning to start again in Canada. I had no idea that I would be starting a whole new life in a different country, this was just supposed to be a vacation! One thing led to another and here I am six years later, happy and calling Mexico "home".

I'm a much healthier person than I was six years ago, about 25-30 pounds lighter, no anti-depressant medication, no heavy drinking and overall a much more positive person. I'm a mom! That's probably the biggest difference, sometimes I wonder if the changes in myself are a result of the move, or of becoming a mother or a strange combination of the two. I've got patience like I never had, running the rat race in the big city and the "now, now, yesterday!" kind of life didn't allow for a lot of "ni modo" that is required for living here (and having a four year old).

I'm stronger physically and more mature emotionally. I explore and have adventures, snorkeling and zip lining and crawling through caves. I faced the language challenge (and continue to face it!), and have reached the point where I can accomplish just about anything I want or need to in Spanish. I forgive myself for mistakes, that's a Mexico development, I loved beating myself up over the smallest of things before the move.

Life here is not perfect, it's certainly not for everyone. For me, I certainly see the problems here, just as I saw the problems in Toronto and small town Canada. I just cannot allow them to become my focus or I will wither away. I feel lucky in many ways to be here, to have some terrific friends and a wealth of nature at my doorstep. I feel blessed by my family. I'm proud of the way my life has changed for the better and feel that for me personally, in my own experience, the positives of living here outweigh the negatives.

So, thank you Mexico, thank you family, thank you friends, I am happy to be celebrating six years of a new life, a new home and a new me.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Monday Mix

Well hello Monday and hello readers. I have been totally slacking on the blog front, just not feeling really "bloggy" lately. Seems to be going around, in reading some of my favourite bloggers I've noticed similar comments about just not feeling "it", I wonder if it's a moon phase?

Things around here are moving ahead, perhaps not at the pace I would like them to but ahead nonetheless. I've hit a block on the immigration front, for the first time in my six years here they are asking for documentation of my education. Of course they give me a very limited time frame to get these documents, making me extremely tense. In the 20 years since I graduated high school, no one has ever asked for proof! It's not like I carry my transcripts with me. So I've got friends and family in Canada jumping through hoops to get the papers, get them apostilled/notarized and sent down to me as quickly as possible. Once they get here, I'll have to have them translated into Spanish and notarized again. Incredibly frustrating, expensive and stressful! Cross your fingers for me please!

On the Max front, things are fantastic! He has gone through a big change lately, especially with his school work. He actually ASKS to do his homework and gets excited when he gets things right. He counts everything, I mean everything he sees and he feels he must do it in English and Spanish. "Max, let's go, get a move on!", "But I have to count my socks mommy!" He had his first two exams last week and did alright, though the teachers said he was just "so so" on his math exam. I was surprised as he had been nailing everything in practice at home. I asked him what happened and he just told me he didn't feel like doing the exam. Alright kid, you're four years old, I hear ya. The most amazing Max moment happened this past weekend, I can't believe the amount of emotion I felt when he really read his first words. We've been working hard on letters and vowel sounds, and on Saturday night we sat with a story and he picked out actual words. His face lit up, tears rolled down my face and we did a little victory dance. He wanted to stay up all night reading, fell asleep with a story at 12:30 am. I shocked myself with just how strongly I felt about the moment. I'm a huge reader and hope to teach him to love it too and it seems we are starting down that path. Way to go Buddy! Any moms of little ones out there, we have been using a website called "Starfall" and it has helped immensely, do check it out!

And lastly for today, it looks like I'll be making a trip to Canada soon. The last time I was there was back in 2004, to show my parents my pregnant belly and to renew my driver's license. Five years later, it's driver's license time again and they won't allow me to renew from abroad, sooooo, guess I'll be looking for a couple of sweaters and that scarf that is buried away somewhere! I won't be able to bring Max with me, we would have to get visas for both the US and Canada for him, a solo trip it shall be. Tim Horton's and Twizzlers and rare roast beef sandwiches and kosher dill pickles and salt and vinegar chips and mint chocolate Peps and a long visit to Shopper's Drug Mart are in my near future, yahoo!

So, hope you are all well, I'll try to get back into a bloggy mind set. Lots of Cancun news to share, I'll hopefully have some time in the next couple of days to spread the word about beach recovery and so on. Ciao for now!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Snorkeling Garrafon Park, Isla Mujeres

Living here for the past six years, we've done a LOT of things, seen so much, but we had never been to Garrafon Park on Isla Mujeres and I have always been curious. We got some freebies to head over on the weekend and thought it was a great way to celebrate Hubby's birthday. It was a jam packed day, we started by swimming with the dolphins at Dolphin Discovery then made our way over to the absolutely gorgeous Garrafon to do a little snorkeling, graze on the buffet and hang out in the panoramic pool. We had a great time, not much more I can say than that, I think the pictures tell the story better than I do.

The view of the reef at Garrafon

The zip lines over the sea

School of pretty fishies

Fishies having a little nosh on the barrier rope

These little guys kept banging right up on my lens

I LOVE these blue guys, always sticking together

My super snorkeling guys

A rare peek at me, Canucka, hanging in a cave

The highlight of the snorkeling part of the day was chasing a HUGE, I mean giganto barracuda. When he turned around to chase me, I had a bit of a panic (silly girl), which you'll see in this video. I crack myself up every time I watch this, such an over reaction to a "little" fishy. Just because he's got a mouth full of teeth doesn't mean that I would be at all tasty to him. Does it?

So, happy birthday to Hubby, I hope you had as much fun as we did, we love you!

Thursday, September 24, 2009


I must admit to being a bit scattered lately, big life changes have affected my focus and ability to concentrate. Everyday a million blog posts go through my mind and slip through the cracks, ending up as vapor in the humid air. One of the problems is that I can't yet write about what I really want to write about so nothing gets written! Soon, precious, soon. In the meantime, here's a few things that have been happening lately that I can actually share with you.

1. Another baby, another caesarean. A lovely friend of mine had her baby girl this week, congrats amiga, I can't wait to meet her! Throughout her pregnancy she was insistent on having a natural birth and I supported her fully. Unfortunately there is a huge problem here in Mexico, doctors almost always insist on c-sections. I don't know anyone who has had a natural birth, even the women who wanted one so badly get laid out on the operating table in the end (myself included). The c-section rate is one of the highest in the world, a frustrating problem considering that it is most definitely about money. Doctors get paid more for surgery than for delivering a baby naturally. I haven't talked to my friend yet to find out exactly what happened, but I want to send lots of healing energy to her and restful vibes to baby girl. I think if I ever have a friend here give birth naturally I will make it a national holiday.

2. Fiesta, fiesta, fiesta. Now that Max is back in school, we're back to kid party hell, er heaven? On the weekend we had a christening, a 3 year old mass (there is always a special mass for children when they turn 3, I'm not Catholic so don't ask me why!) and a 4 year old birthday party. Thankfully Hubby took over the churchy stuff (no need for the inevitable lightning strikes were I to walk into a church) but I did go to the birthday party. Burger King, 20 kids and their corresponding parents, chaos!! It was nice to be able to chat with the parents of Max's friends and discover that we are all dealing with the same issues and Max is not the demon child I sometimes think he is. He's normal, he's normal, hurray!

3. Skool dayz. I'm really proud of my little student, he's made some big changes since returning to school. His teachers say that he is actually paying attention and getting down to work (most of the time) and his writing skills have improved dramatically. He's beginning to read and most impressive of all, he's learning his sums. In the afternoons he comes out and ASKS to do his homework! Huh? Where's my little drama king of last year, throwing his head down on the table and saying "I no can, it's hard mommy!"? It's not all peaches and cream, he still has his four year old days where he doesn't want to do it, but it's a relief that he seems to be really eager to learn most of the time. Homework time sometimes feels like an Abbott and Costello routine, especially when he's working with me on his Spanish homework. "Circle the pictures of things that start with the letter "M"" (in Spanish of course). There are pictures of a moon, a butterfly, a bean and an apple. Even though I asked him to do it in Spanish and to name what the pictures were, he responded in English and wanted to circle the moon. It's hard to explain that yes, he is right, "moon" starts with "M", but "luna" does not. And that "butterfly" starts with "B" in English, and "apple" starts with "A", but "mariposa" and "manzana" start with "M" so he should circle them. We go in circles on things like this, but he's getting there. So, if you see me with a big dent in my head, don't worry, the edge of the table isn't that hard.

And there you have the short of it. Too many other things to talk about and so little time. Hopefully I'll get settled in to a schedule soon and be able to devote more time to blogging and to reading and commenting on your blogs. And oh yeah, responding to emails, returning phone calls and so on and so on and so on......Hope your life is grand, thanks for reading!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Renee Wathelet- A Tragedy on Isla Mujeres

Last week a terrible tragedy occurred. A Canadian woman living on Isla Mujeres was brutally murdered in her home by a young Mexican man who had been her acquaintance. I did not know Renee personally, only peripherally through her blog and twitter. After reading some personal accounts from bloggers who knew her (Dentro del Jardin and IslaZina), it sounds as though she was a person I would have liked to have spent some time with.

Of course this event has stirred the media, leading to the inevitable "Mexico is dangerous!" comments that come from the masses who have no idea what they are talking about. People who have never been to Mexico form opinions based solely on headlines without taking the time to investigate what exactly happened. There have been a few, I mean very few instances in recent past where Canadians have been killed in Mexico by violent means. Compared with the millions of Canadians who have visited without incident, I think that is a pretty low number and not indicative of Mexico being a dangerous place to visit. What happened to Renee on Isla could have happened to her anywhere. I have read about a couple of homicides in her hometown of Montreal over the last few days, but I don't see anyone screaming for a boycott of Canada. This was a very sad, very tragic and violent occurrence, but to somehow blame Mexico for it is absurd. This was an isolated event, involving a mentally disturbed young man, a crime that could have happened anywhere in the world. The perpetrator was caught, confessed and will be going to jail for a long, long time. Yet reading the comments on news stories, you would think that his arrest was a ruse and that the police and authorities are no better than the Keystone Cops.

My wish is for people to think of Renee, think of her love for her adopted country and to wish her peace. Please do not turn this into another reason to bash Mexico, I really don't think that would make Renee very happy at all from what I have read of her. Leave your xenophobia at the door and just send positive thoughts to the friends and family of the victim. Rest in peace Renee, repose en paix.

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...