Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Hurricane Paula a Bust in Cancun, But I Got a Bonus!

I feel like I need a cold shower, I got all worked up just to be let down by the latest hurricane tease Miss Laura. She came out of nowhere, threatened to hit us directly as a category two then poof, gone, headed over to Cuba with her nasty business. Yes yes, I should be relieved and I am, it's just all the excitement of a potential hurricane gets me all giddy inside! I love chasing the storm, reading all the meteorology geek sites, following the funky spaghetti models and contemplating the possibilities. After surviving Hurricane Wilma, all other hurricanes are going to seem like a light breeze and a drizzle, no biggie. Yes, we'll get wet and yes, perhaps some damage will be done but in the end I know that it will all be ok. The thrill of the storm is really in the chase, but if at the end of the pursuit you find out you've been chasing nothing, it feels like that necking session in the car that got interrupted by dad.

Anywho, I went out to the hotel zone of Cancun this morning to see if there were some good waves or any beach erosion as a result of Paula's brush-by. A few waves, nothing major and surprisingly I didn't note any loss of sand, yay! After the millions spent (twice) to rebuild the beach, I'd hate to see it all washed away by one little almost storm.

I stopped at three different beaches and on the third visit my friend Leon and Max stayed in the car. They were good sports, I mean I had dragged them out on a rainy morning and asked them to trek through wet sand, I suppose it was ok if they didn't hit the third beach. I was just going to grab a couple of shots and get back to the boys, when a man approached me on the beach. I was a bit nervous at first, there was really no one else out there and he had a big ole black eye and stitches in his head (I automatically assumed drunken brawl,though I suppose it could have been from a fall trying to rescue a kitten from a tree, my bad). He asked if I wanted to see some baby turtles and of course I said "Si!!". We started walking down the beach and I was relieved to see we were headed towards an obvious turtle nest enclosure. There were a couple of guys helping the wittle teeny tiny babies out of their hole in the sand, hundreds of them! They invited me in to help but I knew I had to run back for the boys for this special treat. I got Max and Leon, we all ran back and proceeded to oooooh and aaaaaah over this amazing spectacle. We've seen babies before at organized events, but have never seen them actually hatching out of their shells!

So, the hurricane was a bust, but I got a total bonus and am thrilled. This year I saw a mama turtle laying her eggs in Tulum, snorkeled with a juvenile turtle and now have witnessed the birth of hundreds. Full turtle circle, it's been a fine year.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

7 Things in 7 Years

Today, October 10th, 2010 marks my seventh anniversary of coming to Mexico. I boarded the plane in Toronto, waved goodbye and set off for my "divorce recovery vacation". Well, recover I did but the vacation has turned into a life. Seven years living in a foreign country has taught me a million things, but since seven is a lucky number, I'm going to share with you seven things I have learned (it's also a lot more concise than trying to make a million point list).

1. Living in a first world country it's easy to forget just how good you've got it. Obviously I still keep in touch with Canadian and American friends and family and I have noticed something big. The "gripes" of those living my old life are small, really, really small yet for those who don't know any better they seem huge. People bitch and moan about not having enough money, thoughts they share from their iPhone, sitting in their climate controlled house, while the kids play Xbox and flip through 300 channels of HD TV on the plasma. They complain about paying taxes but don't understand that they actually get something in return, health care, decent schools, clean streets. If I lived in the US or Canada I would NEVER complain about taxes or a lack of anything material, you are all blessed and need to appreciate all that you have. Living in Mexico where a huge portion of the population lacks drinkable water and any kind of government services gives me perspective. There is no such thing as "poor" NOB (north of the border), even the homeless and jobless have resources that make them rich in comparison to the people living in poverty in other countries.

2. Learning a language ain't easy, but the benefits are endless. After seven years my Spanish is far from perfect, but I am now able to function and communicate and even work in a foreign language. It's broadened my perspective of just how difficult it is for anyone making a change, the refugees and immigrants to Canada and the US have to make huge sacrifices and an incredible amount of effort to learn English, give them a break. The next time I read "Learn English or go home" in the comment section of a news article, I might just go postal. I believe that everyone should have a second (or third or fourth) language, it opens up the world and opens your mind (and studies show it prevents Alzheimer's and increases abilities in science and math).

3. Tacos taste good. Enough said.

4. The ocean is a healer. I know that I NEED the ocean, it's not just a "want" or a "desire", it's a necessity. If I go more than a couple of weeks without swimming in the sea, my mental and physical health deteriorates. The moment I am in the ocean everything gets better, my back feels loose, my nasal passages clear and the stress of day to day life melts away. I truly believe that without the ocean nearby I might just shrivel up and die.

5. Patience is a virtue. (I stole that from somewhere). Coming from big city life where everything was "Go, go, go, now, now, yesterday!", it was a big adjustment getting used to "Mexican time". A two hour wait in the bank or a three week wait for a repairman is the norm. Showing up to a party "on time" means one or two hours after the designated start time. I still don't really like it, but I've learned to not pull my hair out over it. Just say "Ni modo" and don't get your knickers in a knot, you'll just make yourself nuts if you don't relax.

6. Politics are the same everywhere. Right wing, left wing, it truly doesn't matter (though I am still a lefty lefty liberal to the bone). Politicians make promises they can't keep, lie through their teeth and don't give a crap about anyone except themselves. Watching from the outside as the Canadian and US governments "work" leaves me laughing, they're really no different than the famously corrupt Mexican counterparts, they just hide it better and have better public relations people and orthodontists.

7. Life is what you make it (another stolen gem). We all make choices, sometimes without even realizing it. We choose our paths, our friends, our way of life. No matter where you live you can be happy, you just have to find your happiness in that place. If you "hate" a place, you just haven't focused on the positive, there is something good about every city, every country and every person in this world. If we continually look at the negative, we're going to be pretty miserable. Yes, there are bad things about Cancun, there are also bad things about Toronto and Timbuktu. Surround yourself with good people, seek out the positive, eliminate the negative influences that are within your control and appreciate all that you have. Life is too short to spend your days complaining when we all have so much to be grateful for. Look at the poorest of the poor, the people living in rundown palapas with no running water, no electricity, barely enough food and you will still find smiles on their faces, laughing children and love. You've got to accentuate the positive or what's the point?

Well, hm, that post turned out a bit differently than I anticipated, the path it took was not what was planned but I am gong to leave it as is. I think perhaps because today is Canadian Thanksgiving my mind wandered to gratitude. And really, I suspect that is the most important lesson I have learned. Be grateful for all that you have, be grateful for the opportunities that present themselves, be grateful for the problems in life as they give you perspective on the good things, be grateful for the fresh water you have to drink, not everyone has it, be grateful for the food on your plate and most importantly, be grateful for the people around you who love you and whom you love in return.

I am grateful for all of these things and more and I really don't know if I would be if I hadn't made the move south. I too was caught up in the "me, me, me, more, more, more" NOB life. I hope the coming years bring more learning experiences and chances to grow, thanks for the lessons Mexico, one day perhaps I'll be able to return the favour.

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...