I’m back in my home zone… I crank up some Rock-n-Roll on the stereo set, with speakers and wire… it’s Lou Reed’sNew York, on vinyl, this album has been stuck in my head the whole time I’ve been gone. Amazingly all the buttons and knobs magically click into position, as though I’d just turned it all on yesterday. My new goal, well one of many, is to breathe some new life into the cold space… it’s been a little droopy since the quarantine time came around. We used to have fun pArties in here. Now it’s an Art studio and Print shop and that kind of place should be vibrant as well. I feel a new feeling within me, maybe it is a seedling of early Spring, which is officially 46 days away. All of Winter is only 90 days, so, hey! we are right around the half-way mark… I know it’s easy for me to say hey, when I’ve been gone for 31 days of the first part, down in the warm wilds of a Mexican Island. Finding inspiration in a foreign place is easy, you just gotta look around and the same can be said for my most familiar places. Sometimes the familiar can glaze over and You’ll miss the special magics that are there, as well. I was talking to my Friend the other day about this… We determined that it’s even more special to find magic in the every day. I feel like that’s a challenge to mix with the goal of breathing new life and for being aware of the breathing and never taking it for granted. I am reminded now, of swimming underwater for as far as I could and that amazing feeling, which became almost euphoric by the end, of that first breath that You can take and how much air you breathe in… I also think of a whale coming up from the depths to fill its lungs.
it’s hard to keep making a regular blog posting, here in USA, even quarantining in place(s), as I have been, however without WiFi, so I have struggled with making a next one, although I am determined, no matter how unnecessary this all may be! I was almost out of my data-plan, so I had to call up to say what can be done and they gave me another whole amount for free because they said I had used very little in the past. I was just talking to a Friend about how You’ve got to squeeze through the corporate corridors to go to amazing places, those are the worst parts of travel, the airports and the customs and security check-points… the same is true with trying to even get to speak to a customer service representative. This is not something You don’t know, already and each of us has spent too much of our precious time with it already, so I’ll zip it on that topic. My point, in reading back over this, is that the automated system doesn’t give You a free month’s data, only humans do!
I just went out to the edge of the river and caught some solar rays reflecting off of the water and from the sun itself, which was perfectly positioned above the hills across the river to make a really good afternoon glow. There is some powerful magic in that light, another of those self-evident truths, which I mention as though we’ve been talking about self-evident truths all long… haven’t we?
this is the last day of the first half of Winter, tomorrow (Saturday), the second half begins. I am counting two 45 day halves… that is, if my math is correct (see above). Last year we had a one day longer Winter, thanks to Leap Year but this year is just a regular old 365 day year. I am really scratching the surface of useful information… What else? Well, it’s really nice to take a shower without having to worry about getting water in Your mouth. I’ve got work to do and Art to make and I am still sorting out what I did in Mexico for a whole month. I gotta reclaim some creative oomph here in my own home-style location, so I am working on putting down that foundation.
***this is a long one, rambling and mostly accurate. please remember to refresh, as I’ll add pictures soon!
ignoring the title, I will now briefly say that I have just visited (for take-away) my favorite local Taqueria, muy rapido… Taqueria Fast! It was impossible to explain to the People in Mexico that We have very good Mexican Food in my own home town in the USA. At dinner with the Family, one night, for the youngest niño’s 10th Birthday, Tacos were served and the eldest son (22 years old, so not a niño), Alex, asked me if it was my first time having tacos? I laughed and said no! I explained that We have many, many people from Mexico where I live and there is plenty of authentic Mexican Food… He laughed and said, “what have You got, Taco Bell?” neither of Us had much of the other’s native language. I just laughed also and said “gracias” for the Tacos, which were not my first but they were top notch and homemade. What I should have explained was that I hadn’t had Tacos with a Mexican Family in Mexico before, as their guest… I wish that I did have better Spanish, even not so good but more would be great.
it is easy to complain about travel or to make fun of my own Country, whose faults I see, so easily, after being away for just a short while… I have done plenty of both of these and don’t want to carry on with it but I would like to tell about my day of travel and how I finally did return, to Asheville, NC, by 11:45pm on the same day I left Isla Mujeres. Some aspects of this travel day were about as good as they could possibly be, while other were not at all. I left Casa Rolando at approximately 10:30am, after bicycling to the Beach and getting a jugo de naranja, of course, at the Mercado (I told the little Juice Lady, who I visited everyday, “no mas manaña!” She smiled and said Gracias and Adiós!) and I swam in the Sea, from one end of the wide-shallow sea pool at Playa Mia, as I did almost every day (the first two days, I swam at the Playa Norte which is much less dynamic and has all the Boats parked just off shore), to the other and back plus it was my goal achieved, at last, of swimming 31 days in a row, all in the month of January, an excellent personal stArt to this year. I got back to Rolando’s finished cleaning, packaging and showered off then got dressed to travel. I said my goodbyes, which began by me just standing on the ground floor of the compound and saying Adiós! a little more loudly than normal and the People came out from every doorway. They all gathered around smiling and wishing me well. I thanked them profusely and rollered off down the alleyway, Andador 5 for the last time. I immediately hailed a Cab (there is at least one cab per person on Isla Mujeres). As I took a last look down the alley, I saw Mary, ROlando’s Wife, waving and blowing kisses! She said, “We will wait for Your return!” I, for one, am glad they will be waiting… I’ll be waiting, also!
the Taxi driver got me to the Ferry Docks with about 20 minutes before loading for the 11:00am crossing and the helpful Folks who work there, directed me, with care to the right line for the Puerto Juarez docks, where I would meet my Shuttle Bus driver, Juan Carlos, at 12:30pm (I highly recommend Happy Shuttle, if You ever make this trip, they are wonderful and it is reasonably priced for round trip travel from the Cancun Aeropuerto to Isla Mujeres). Upon arrival in Puerto Juarez, I wrote this note to myself: “I made it to the Ferry Docks and now I’m having a lunch… I didn’t plan to have lunch but here I am. I made it on the 11:00am Ferry from Isla Mujeres to Puerto Juarez and I am here by before 11:30am. I love that you can get a Cappuccino and an ArracheraBurrito at the same spot. Now I’ve got to haul all this dang luggage around with me, though… I’d love to send that ahead with the Porters…” after lunch, I wrote, “I am grateful to the gentle breeze, as I sit, way ahead of schedule but otherwise it would’ve been such a rush. I am actually quite relaxed now and once a pass the next stage of this process, once I am able to board the plane, then I can really sigh but I will sigh the most, once back in AVL!” and this one, after Juan Carlo had picked me up: “I haven’t been in Air-conditioning this whole month, not since I got out of the Happy Shuttle at the Ferry Docks on New Year’s Day… now, back in the AC Shuttle on the way to the Aeropuerto and it is a transition between worlds, You see. My Driver, Juan Carlos is quite nice and has left me to write this bit here while He steers the van. He said somesthing about American… I hope that was the airlines, that’s my one! Let me on board, please, for Fortress McMerica! Let me slip through uno mas tiempo!“
I took one long last breath of the warm Mexican air, mixed with diesel fumes (which always make me think of travel) and went in to the sea of human chaos… I queued up for the American Airlines ticket counter to get my boarding passes and was turned away by the Lady guarding it, to go to the touch-screen thingys, which NEVER work, they just don’t… I tried maybe four and finally asked guy standing there for help, he handed the paper piece that I need to fill out saying that I had taken the Covid Test prior to now and that I had a negative result, which I did. Then the Lady let me right through, who had refused me previously. So I stood into the stupid serpentine line, the first of about 40 for the day, and finally got to the desk, where I turned over my passport and paper piece and showed the Lady behind the counter my certified test result from the Centro Quiminco Laboratorio (You only need a digital copy, not paper copies). I got my passes, checked my roller bag and headed for the Mexican security line. Here yet more chaos as a completely un-indicated next step was necessary, filling out a tiny paper piece basically saying what the boarding passes did and no one ever looked at again after the first Lady, who I think is the same security Lady that is at every point, somehow. I got through that with minor difficulty, I had to go through the metal detector twice because I didn’t take out my laptop, thinking it wasn’t necessary any more (they told me not to take it out in Asheville on my way down to Mexico, and as by now I should be aware, the Asheville Airport is an unique set-up and should probably be looked at more closely by other Airports, for its ease of motion)… so I got through that an into the Super Mall section where You can purchase totally unnecessary (No es necesario) items in the most glaring capitalism display available. I was well ahead of schedule, so I had some time to sit and take a breath (masked, of course). I found my gate, which was on the inside, seemingly and had no windows to see an Airplane out there waiting… I thought this was unusual. We went through the line and a Guy came by to ask me a series of questions that I felt like had been asked of me about 10 times already… “Hello Sir, how are You doing, where did You go, did You pet farm animals, et cetera, are You carrying raw meat or bacteria samples?” no, emphatically! We got out into a large exterior area, back into the warm air and all onto one Bus, everybody from the plane that we were gonna be getting on, crammed, not a social distance to be found. The bus drove way out on the runway, to a waiting jet liner, which looked enormous, next to the bus. I was seated in the back, so I got to go in the back door, which I’ve never done before and it was really fun. Once, on the plane, I asked the Steward if we would load out that way in Charlotte, it sure would be a lot more efficient than waiting for everybody to go out the front door… “It’s just something we do in the Caribbean, ” he told me with a smile. I was in a middle seat on the starboard side and after a while it became clear that no one else was gonna sit in my row, so I spread out and even got to draw in my journal book, which is too large to work in with anyone sitting next to me, that was a treat! The flight went quickly and arrived almost forty minutes ahead of schedule but that meant we had to wait for a place to deplane because Our gate was occupied. So we sat out on the tarmac with a lone, loud-ass Baby, yelling “buckle Up!” over and over…
finally we got off the plane and went down through the endless serpentine of the US Customs (I always write Costumes, first), where You take Your filled-out immigration form from the plane that no one ever looks at again. Finally You go to a touch-screen kiosk area and all of these do work, the airlines need to take a note from old Uncle Sam… You scan You passport after finding the proper place to do that, into one of many similar looking receptacles and answer the travel questions again, take Your photo and get a receipt that no one wants to see, either until a man finally takes it at the end of a long hallway, after You’ve been stamped and waved through the first Customs Area. Then You must find Your checked luggage and take it to another conveyor belt where some helpful fellows put it on and then You are free to go to the next whole security check-point, just in case You’d gotten some explosives in between the last several security check points… queue up, queue up… and then all the way to the very back of the Charlotte Airport, Gate W 1325… where I waited, starving, until it was finally time to go home, I felt like Odysseus, there on the boat, with Ithaca in sight… then came the notice that the flight would be delayed… if We had just gone at this time, or it had been canceled then, We could’ve have all gotten on with our lives but they made us wait a half-an-hour, which turned into 50 minutes and then canceled the flight, but in between, a bunch of hapless employees of american airline attempted to do something at the computer terminal that no one could figure out how to operate, with ALL eyes upon them. Then finally a man who had been there before the delay came back and made it work, only to discover that Our flight was canceled… You are welcome to sleep in baggage claim they told us… I was next in line to find out what flight I would be on the next morning, when that area had to close down, so I went to another location and was 17 people back from a desk of airline workers, who one by one left their computers and went home. When I finally got to a Lady there, she asked “how may I help You?”, “well”, I said… “as You may be aware, they have canceled our flight and I need to be re-booked…”. I was finally re-booked but decided to see if I could rent a car and went through yet another serpentine route past the now completely abandoned mall-like airport at 9:00pm on a Sunday night. I went to see about getting my dang bag back and a guy in that area, who was whispering behind a plastic shield told me (I think) it would be 45 minutes to find my bag and I had to fill out some more forms in triplicate, so I asked what happens if I rent a car and get on home, he said the bag would continue on to Asheville, so I left that place and went out in the cold, across the street to the rental car place… I went to the first counter, “May I rent a car to Asheville?”, “Nope, We are totally booked.”, so on to the next guy, same thing… and finally at the very end, there’s a guy at a tiny desk in this huge airplane hanger room with blue artful lighting 50 feet overhead… He says all we’ve got are one-ways to Asheville!! A miracle at the end of this whole process… He asked me who I was with, Hertz, Alamo? No, You’re not with anybody?” “Only me, solo yo…” I used another touch screen because I didn’t have the App and agreed to a bunch of stuff that I have no idea what it was… the Guy was very nice and finally I got my papers and went up the stairs into the garage and found my car waiting for me. I got into and drove around the super-serpentine parking garage area, after not driving for a whole month and finally rolled out onto a highway that lead me eventually back to home… it felt a whole lot like a go-cart ride…
if You have read this far… thank You… this will be all for now! ¡Buenos Dias! ***what I was able to learn is that I will book directly from the airlines in the future (not on priceline or travelocity, et cetera) and I will probably not fly on american airlines again, simply because of their leave-You-high-and-dry and not seem to care about it, which is the modus operandi of all airlines employees. I also realize that the touch-screens for the airlines are a way to diffuse the lines a bit, an extra herding process, put in place through corporate policy. If You didn’t know, I’m not pro-corporate anything… it’s a bland, sterile format.
*** Author’s notification: please be sure to refresh Your browser, or whatever it’s called because I am gonna be adding some pictures!
It has been a stressful build-up to the relief I now feel, after having just taken my third Covid Test, this one, so I can return to my Home, in the USA. By 6:00pm I will know the result and if it is negative, I’ll fly home on Sunday afternoon… I’ll be back in Asheville, NC, before 10:00pm on Sunday, if all the rest of it goes accordion to plan (which for me just involves being in the right places at the right times and the flying machines working properly, et cetera). Taxi to Ferry to Shuttle Bus to Aeropuerto to Aeroplane to USA to next Aeroplane to Home in a ground car… it took all of nine hours to do that list in reverse on New Year’s Day.
I got my negative test result, this evening, as promised and so I am cleared for lift-off on Sunday afternoon, to return, at last to the USA. I rode into town early to get my Covid Test and so I got to see the sun rise out of the Caribbean, which was quite a special treat. Then I stood in line down on Avenida Benito Juárez, reading my pulp fiction novel. Finally it was my turn and so I went in to the tiny Laboratoio office, with two Ladies, one of whom was a translator, the translator also swabbed my nasal passageways and wore at least two pairs of gloves on either hand and then still peeled a sticker and attached it to my sample container. This isn’t really the most interesting thing, I know, but it happened to me and very early this morning.
ILast night as I was coming home from dinner, I saw the Abuelo of this household pulling up his golf-cart along the street outside of the Andador 5 alleyway that leads to it, He had a large package of meat… “¡Carnitas!” he said to me, after the usual pleasantries, “Buenos Noches.” et cetra, so I asked, “Puerco?“, “Si!“, he goes, “tomorrow, Tamales!” and already there is the smell of yummy food permeating this entire building, here, just before dawn. I rode back along the Sea’s edge, hoping to see the moonrise, I could see the glow from behind the clouds, quite spectacularly but la Luna remained hidden. She’s still up there, in the Western sky, behind the clouds, they are splotchy, so some stars do shine through.
Yesterday, after my afternoon swim, during which all I could think about was food, and quite often while swimming in the afternoon, my thoughts have turned to what I will eat next, trying to make my plan, I was very hungry but it had gotten chilly with the strong wind. I walked out of the shallow water and back to my towel and books, it felt like getting out of a Maine lake in Summer time. I thought of all the different places I could go for something yummy to fill my belly but instead, I went again and chose a spot to draw on the Malecon. I have drawn there four times, now, and yesterday’s time was by far the best, not the drawing itself, or how it turned out but the actual process of sitting and drawing, I got into it, the way that I always hope I will, instead of being distracted or not into it.
4 weeks ago, this morning, I woke up to my first morning in Mexico, that was January 2nd, 2021, it seems like a dream that that much time has gone, where has it flown off to? Away with the wind… El Viento is a BIG part of this Island Life, as far as I can tell from my short time here. The people don’t seem fazed by it, nor do they seem chilly. None of the other people at the beach were shivering in their towels after getting out in the wind, with the clouds only letting brief shafts of sunlight through. I was born in South Florida and have always craved the heat. I like a warm envelope all around me. In Western North Carolina, where I have lived for most of 40 years, it hardly ever gets hot, maybe we’ll get one week in mid-Summer but that’s it, which is why everybody wants to live there. Mexico is tricky, you’d hafta have Your own garden, I think, in order to get greens… there is plenty of fresh fruit and peppers, ’til Kingdom come but no collards or kale, not even Callaloo, like the old Jamaicans grew. I know it probably seems funny to read me complaining about a lack of greens but it is a part of a diet that is necessary, and after a month, almost without them, I really start to feel it, especially being as active as I have been here.
one thing’s for sure, You cannot force inspiration to come to You, You can look for it and certainly be prepared for it but sometimes, You just hafta kind of forget about it and then it comes like a bolt, which will jolt You and if You are lucky, You can turn it into a constructive piece of Your Art, whatever that Art may be. I try to live my life in an Artful way, I am fascinated by everything, especially in a place that is not my normal place, where things are done quite differently… there are a lot of aspects of Mexico, from the little, tiny bit I could possibly know, that really fit right into my program but then there is so much more to know and to do and to see. I’ve realized during this time that it is not necessary to make sense of everything, it doesn’t even make much sense to try. of course, we need to know the basic workings of how we keep on moving forward in this World, those are important and I hope they do make sense, to me and to You!
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I went to get mas agua, I was aiming for the Mini-Super Karen Pool, when the Abuelo of the Family that I stay with here, called out to me, “Fil! Fil!” (short for Felipe, although I once did spell my name this way), He told me to just get the water from the big stack of the bottles that the Family has, everyone here lives on the bottled water… “¡Es muy importante, el agua!” I say and they all agree and laugh… Henry, the second eldest son, carries the water up for me, 32 steps to the top, although I have done it, at least twice now… 3 more days I have here, so it won’t be empty when I go, this next 5 gallons. Also, I went to the Lavanderia but the Lavanderia was closed… it was after 9:00am (by a hair), so I thought I’d get that out of the way but they were closed. I rehearsed my line all the way there, though, “por favor lava mi ropa.” it’s only half a block away, so it’s no sweat. While I was out, I saw two of the Dogs of this compound, making their morning rounds… they looked at me as though they recognised me and wagged their tails. I told them to go home! I think I’ll do a lap or two around the Salina Grande and then try the Lavanderia, again…
I rode my bike around the Salina, twice. In the middle of the water, a large swirl of Frigate Birds were taking turns splashing into the water… I reckon there was a fish school there and the birds were having their breakfast. As I finished my ride, I decided to glide down by the Lavanderia and Si! it was open, at last. I ran back up, 32 steps and down again with my bundle… a tiny Niño of the compound, who is always so friendly to me and nods when I tell him something, as if He was wiser than the Abuelo. I said “a la Lavanderia!“, he nodded at me and waved. So I got to the Lavanderia and the Lady there takes a look at me, before I can even ask my question in spanish and says, “Felipe?” “Si!” says I. She weighs mi ropa, I pay her 100 pesos and She says some words that I no comprende and then she holds up 6 fingers, 6:00pm this night, “Today.” says a man in the back. Ok!
Tucked-in beneath the palm fronds’ cast shadow, on the beach with jugo de naranja (NJ Jugo de Naranja!) and some extremely ripe bananas. I had many thoughts on the way here, many were lost but one was that I took the Ocean route out of habit (which had been closed for paving, since Sunday) and so I just kept going and the road was freshly, stickily black-topped but it was open, ¡abierto! It’s another sunny blue sky day… quite a string of them have come my way and I am so grateful. by the afternoon we were in the shit, if You’ll pardon it… A squall had blown up from somewhere… after my second swim, I went again to the Taqueria that I also went to on Tuesday, this time I order Tacos, 2 al Pastor and 2 Arrachera, I got extra hot paste, too and boy were those good, so I ordered one more of each, they were 15 and 25 pesos each, respectively, plus another gobblet of the hibicus tea.
right now a gentle rain is falling, after the squall that passed overhead while I was having tacos… You shoulda seen ’em all scurry, Folks from every direction, on foot and on every known type of wheeled transportation. I rode like the wind and thankfully with the wind at my back… good old el Viento, You never know which way it’s gonna blow. I gotta go to the Lavanderia and pick up my clean and folded laundry, a lot of it will just go right in the suit-bag.
the rain-squall came up quickly and it’s sitting on top of us now but I figure it could be gone just as quickly… I had high hopes of seeing the Full Moon this night, it’s out right now. The rain has stopped but the wind is crazy… wind I can handle. All across the Meteorological Colony, folks are looking out their windows and doors, seeing what the weather is doing now, it’s much more interesting that TV. I feel like this maybe turns into more of a journal entry than anything else… what are the parameters of a “blog”, anyway? Web Log… We bLog. Also, it sure is fun being away from all the other responsibilities of life that allows me the time to work on this but I can’t promise I’ll keep going with it once I’m Stateside, again, and that’s just fine. All of this whole experience feels so much like a dream, I’m glad that I have taken the time to post some new entries here, just to be sure it did really happen… also I have filled up more than half of my 53rd Volume of my journal series, with drawings and writing.
here, again, on yet another gorgeous Caribbean Blue day, sky and sea, the sun shines so brightly El Sol! Gracias. I rode around the whole Salina on the lovely walkway around it, is that also a Malecon, or different (Esplanade) surrounding a brackish pond/lake? I got my jugo de naranja and a puerco quesadilla, I went and spoke to the English language Doctor, who filled in some huge gaps in the information I had at first gotten, from also She and I learned that Dra. Is the Spanish abbreviation for Doctor.
as I begin to prepare for the process of returning to my home, far away in the Northeast and back above the chilly line, I also continue to discover new places and things, secret Arts are everywhere I look! to-day is the 26th day of Jan, it’s the first day of the International Travel Ban, for those non-negative Covid Test result havers… I know there’s gonna be some frustration, at the Aeropuerto, yo!
Here I go for my 26th day in a row of swimming in the aquamarine sea scene, and now 8 days in a row of double swims… thank goodness it’s been so warm. After my second swim I decided to finally try the Taco place on the corner where I turn down a wrong-way street on my bicycle to go back down to the sea wall. it was really yummy, I had an Arrachera (skirt steak) Burrito and an agua de Jamaica Juice (hibiscus tea) in a fish bowl goblet…
Al Pastor, spit-grilled pork, carved off for Tacos, it doesn’t seem to translate further, just know that’s what it is. I called the waitress over and pointing toward a cone of meat on a stick, I asked Her, “what is this one?” and she looked where I was pointing and then looked back at me and then She pointed toward where I had pointed, then She asked me, “this one?” and assuming She was pointing at the same thing I had, I replied, “Si”, so she told me, “Al Pastor” and that’s what it was, I looked it up.
little by little we move together into the Future. The way I’ve been able to piece these reports together (has been exactly that), has been to input some text here and then go do one something and come back to it, also, I take notes, in my journal, on pieces of paper, and of course, the voice memos, when I’m on the go.
the last several days at the Beach have been more and more crowded, I’ve always found a little spot for solo Yo, where I can sit and read and be “safely” distanced from other Humans, the beach that I go to, I’ve realized, is the Locals Beach, these Guys that I stay with told me it’s called “Playa Mia” after that Scuba Hotel that’s over there, across the rickety bridge. I also found out that the Playa Norte ends, according to the map at the entrance, not at the end of the sand but about two-thirds of the way down, then there is more beach, which I reckon is Playa Mia, with a bridge running through the middle of the wide, shallow sea pool, there. I have swum under that bridge, where all the fishes like to swim, more and more times each day and into the place where the sea rushes out and it is deep like a big pool but then gets really shallow, again, where all the snorkel boats come in.
very near to where I stay, they’ve decided to knock a hole in the roof of a one-story concrete building, in between two taller buildings… everything here is concrete and they are either knocking it apart with sledge hammers, or building up new structures. Remember, the Mayans are concrete masters. Well, it turns out, they’ve knocked the whole roof out of that building. Also, just about every street has a Guy who cleans up the concrete chunks and makes little piles or hauls it off in a wheel barrow, bit by bit. It doesn’t happen quickly but before You know it, he’s done the job. I’ve also watched a crew build a small, tiled cool pool (bigger than a hot tub size and deeper but not a swimming pool), by the sea, along the Malecon, when I first got here, the Guys were knocking a hole in the ground and from there they built up the new square of concrete, I saw it yesterday with the water running in it, beautifully glistening on the gradations of blue tiles inside!
the title of this blurbage is “the Lost City of Gold” and I wrote, earlier, that looking for the Laboratorio was like searching for that fabled “Lost City” which probably never existed, except in some Spaniard’s hallucinatory dream-state… well, yesterday, thanks to the wonderful Dra. Shorey, I did, at last locate the correct Laboratorio and will go there on Friday AM for my next Covid test, to get the negative result needed to get onboard the airliner home… the third time is the charm, as They say and You know those They!
*** remember to refresh this page, as I am adding photo-images after publishing the written part.
admittedly, I have very little Spanish and when I have tried to say that to People in the past it has brought great laughter, as the subtleties of the language do get lost in translation. I have been relying heavily on the dang google translator, which really doesn’t get the subtleties, either… Yesterday day morning I cam down, all set to get to the Playa Norte early and as I reached my bicycle, I saw that the read tire was flat… I stood sadly in the gateway with the bike and the Momma of the family, Mary, who was on the phone, saw me and quickly called Rolando over, He and his two eldest Sons quickly came to where I was and assessed the situation. All doing a similar action, looking at the tire, shaking their heads while simultaneously scratching their chins… They all explain at once in Spanish and with gestures, that, for some reason, it cannot be easily fixed and so they will give me another bike… quickly the next bike is brought out, one son on the front tire, one on the back, Rolando with the pump, little tire caps unscrewed and pump attached, tires pumped, can of grease, sprayed on all moving parts… “¡Listo!” Rolando calls, proudly! I am thankful this didn’t take very long as I could see the Women setting the table for the first of at least three Sunday meals, all of which have the table completely broken down and put away and then set back up in between, plus cooking all the food and taking care of all the people.
I’m gonna put something here about the middle part of the day or the time-frame between Sunday morning and Monday night. Searching for the Laboratorio is like searching for the Lost City of Gold… I am convinced it’s out there… but where? And then frustratingly finally finding it, exactly where the directions said it would be, except that the road it’s on isn’t called what it’s called on the computer, in real life… So, tomorrow I go again to see if any actual Humans are there… there is supposedly also a Doctor So-and-So at a Hotel that can administer a test for even more pesos.
if my records are accurate (counting on fingers), I have now swam 7 days in a row of twice on each of those. I have also been swimming 25 straight days in a row, which is certainly an all-time record for me. I would swim every next day from here on out if it were a possibility. I had to take a new route to the beach and back this day, the eastern road is being paved, which starts with a giant mound of tar in the middle of the route and they smooth it out in both directions, on top of some sprayed down stuff, which goes on first, of course.
tonight I tried a next Italian place, down south of here… I started out under an amazing sunset, riding to the edge of the cliffs and watching the Sea, which was an incredible sea-foam color, that seemed to be lit from beneath… there was a Guy on a bench there, near where I stood, he was missing all of it, looking at his phone… I had forgotten my camera-phone, which could only take a picture, anyway, so I just had to soak in that moment, the sky was on fire, the Moon was up over the glowing sea and a warm, warm breeze was blowing all around me, it made me feel electric, like I could float up and ride on a current, like those Frigata Birds, overhead. So I go over to a place that my Dad and I ate at a lot, last year, Basto’s Grill but Basto is closed, I decided to ride back along that wide road that goes around the Salina and see what was there. I came to an Italian Mexican place that had an open table outside (there were two tables but only one was set and because of the pandemic, that was it) and had a look at the menu. It looked good so I sat and took out my booklet. A waiter approached me with a menu and I ordered an espresso, it was delicioso, so I asked the waiter if I could have an American-style coffee (because Mexican-style isn’t available) and then put another shot of espresso inside, he repeated the instruction back to me in a wonderful Italian accent and disappeared. I was surrounded by four Gatos for a while and then a Lady came up and the Cats encircled her and then they all left for somewhere and after a while, the Lady came back. I ordered grilled Calamari and the waiter brought out warm bread and pickled eggplant in olive oil… now, some of You may know of my aversion to eggplant but this was really yummy, in conjunction with the warm bread and olive oil, so I ate all of that. The waiter brought my American-style “shot in the dark” which was also delicioso, the best coffee on this whole island, so far, hands down, down on the ground, supporting my whole self sticking straight up in the air! I ate the Calamari, which was ever-so-slightly breaded and then grilled, it had some anonymous colored shapes under it but I did not ever eat them. Then the waiter came again and told me about a special dessert, the Pineapple crumble with Passionfruit ice cream, which was a lot like Gelatato with watermelon-esque seeds in it… that’s distracting to me, as if it’s trying to prove it’s something unique… I don’t want a seed in my ice cream but what-the-heck? I ate them and the warm pineapple crumble… it was quite yummy. Afterward, I rode back home in this very warm night, under Moonlight with a ring, it was only about 4 blocks away from where I stay.
the Mexican night is thick and deep and filled with delights, fragrant and unknown scents float by upon this buoyant air stream.
the wind blew all night long, el viento, and I went out about 6:20am but the clouds clouded the horizon area all along the east and southeastern edges, so no Southern Cross, again. Other strange shapes were up there, connect-the-dots Star formations I never even knew, there are two or three others that are kite-like but the Southern Cross really stands out when You see it, all right? The sun has finally come up but it’s just too windy to write outside, I put some coffee on the stove, although I am still full from last night’s two espressos and the american-style coffee. I think that it must be all American-style, as we are in North America, they don’t really mean “American” like USA, do they? And besides, black coffee in a cup can’t possibly be so unique to just one country… it must be drip-coffee, maybe that’s it, although that was very hot for a dripper…
This is currently in progress, a huge plume of Frigate Birds was swirling up from a point down South of here, I can see them clearly… then from the North end, there are reinforcements on the wind, el viento!
There are more coming… by the millions, they must be!
I have a tune I’ve been working on, ever since I’ve been gone down to Mexico for the first time, back in 2016, even then I wondered why it had taken me so long to get there. The tune has lyrics, too about that place, which is not really called El Lago del Mar, the Lake of the Sea, or Sea Lake, whichever You please:
If I ever get back to El Lago del Mar,
I’ll be gliding along on the breeze,
I’ll be flying along on the wind and the waves,
I’ll be hopin’ for yourSelf to see!
(it goes on to describe how Our small group made its way across time and space to reach the (now famous) Bar-be-Que Chicken Joint, currently known as Pollo Pollo!
the song includes details of the group’s journey to reach their destination:
You will come to a wide-open country,
You will travel ‘cross the river and back.
You will come to a wide-open country,
it was there that You’ll open Your pack!
Sometimes I take voice memos during my bike ride, an audio note, if You will, that helps me remember my thought-process (even better than the previous way I mentioned, which I still can’t remember, yet), as I glide along beside that sparkly Caribbean. Here are some ones from this day: Today has been the day for stopping along the way, to see what I can say, from certain vantage points… (which is true, I do) I use my own terms, in Ology, which is where terms come from, if You wait and see, in Ology, the place where terms come from… they are made there… unfortunately in Isla Mujeres, there are only three songs in heavy rotation, “YMCA” by the Village People, “Staying Alive!” by… whoever that was and what sounds like the Gypsy Kings, doing their version of the most over-played song of all-times… “Hotel California”.
this morning, I confirmed something that I have been thinking about for a while, there is an easy way down to the little beach at the end of my street and on a calm day like this, I will be able to get into a sandy spot in the shallow water and have a dip… I am also looking forward to this. I love my bike rides to the Playa Norte and those are bookends of my day but in between, there will be other items, that cold cuts that make up the sandwich meats!
it’s a clear blue Caribbean day like I haven’t seen my entire stay, there are usually clouds lurking somewhere and I do enjoy all the types of weather, I love when it rains and swimming in the rain is something I hope to do again. The sun adds sparkles and I know I talk a lot about those but they indicate and/or incite enchantment and that is usually filed right next to delight!
I did go to the beach at the end of the street, it’s at the bottom of some small cliffs and the pathway to the bottom is quite smooth, once I found it. The sand of the beach is the same ultra soft sand of the other beaches and the water, while much more sea-like, is the same lovely blue-green, as a sea should be! I got right out there and an older man came out, too, there were some big corals popping out of the waves but I only stayed where the water was the lightest color, which means sandy bottom. I was out there for a while, then came back in and walked to home and grabbed my beach bag to ride down to the Playa Norte for another Paleta de Oreo, then reading and swimming after that.
When I got back to here, I saw some of the Family down in the main outside part of the compound, the Grandfather had his golf cart loaded up with what I would describe as a catering service, tureens and stacks of platters, et cetera. We exchanged a greeting which changes depending on what time of day, of course, so everyone is always looking around and then saying the appropriate one… “Buenas Tardes” this time. Something was cooking and Rolando was in the back by the grills, I could see his silhouette and then he laughed his big, hearty laugh and a barrage of positive terminologies. I made a gesture to show the fumes from what he was cooking coming to me and I said, “¡muy delicioso!“, Rolando smiled and laughed and nodded from his grilling zone, which is no joke, by the way… he has two of those metal half barrels on legs that are wood or charcoal grills, here He was grilling the fish..
Rolando came up the stairs with a platter for me... He had a BIG smile and a plate with tortillas, rice and corn and salsa fresca (onions, tomatoes and jalapeños) and, "¡Pescado!" He announced... I said, "Gracias, muy bueno!", he laughed again, "¡muy bien! ¡muy bien!" I always get that mixed up, for something like food, it's "muy bien" not "bueno", si? Cooked Fish is what it was, pescado cocinado
I am looking forward to swimming on this day, I am optimistic that it will be my Twenty-second day in a row to swim. I pulled it off, once again, and I’ve also been able to swim twice a day now, the past four days in a row! This day it was no problem to swim as it is absolutely idyllic... the perfect sunny pure blue, everything seems suspended in time and as I pull my arms back to either side and glide through the cool blue water with the impossible sparkles shimmering along the rippled, soft, sandy bottom, I thought of a cosmic turtle's shell, the patterns are of light, that refracts all around me, as in pure delight!
It is late now, this whole day has been a whirlwind, coming and going, drawing, reading, swimming and writing, communicating with Friends and Family, I am grateful for it all. Also for the Sun and Moon and all the Stars, the Sea and the fact that el Viento has chilled out for a few hours, after blowing pretty much non-stop.
Yesterday as I was swimming in the afternoon, I suddenly had a craving for a Ham and Cheese sandwich... I've seen one on the menu at the Mercado but that closes at 1:00pm (Uno hora), so I went back to swimming and walking in the sand. On my way back to home, I circled the lovely Lady of the Sea, who is there on the Malecon, I like to do that and say some blessings as I roll around her. I saw the Food Truck that is always there, so I pulled up and got off my bike, some Guys came out with menus and explained to me what food they had... I order a puerco torta (pork sandwich) and a cappuccino.
I wish I could share the smell of food cooking that is pouring into my space, right now, at almost 10:00pm on a Friday night and the cheering of a crowd somewhere that seems to go on almost all of the waking hours of the day but so far, I have found no source of these multitudes of celebratory sound makers. I went again to the Panaderia, which is open randomly and when it is You'd better queue up quick, it's just two at time inside with Your tray and tongs. The Lady in front of me had each of her 10 pastries tied up in individual bags, when my turn came, I told the Lady behind the counter, "todo en una bolsa, ¡por favor!" please put all of this in one bag.
with each passing day, one less remains before I am to fly home, if all goes according to plan, I will do so on the 31st of this month, if not, then I will make a new plan, it seems pretty straight forward from here but there are new travel rules and I am in an unfamiliar place.
I have managed to publish this before I was ready, so bear with me, as I sort this out, por favor.
Stay tuned for SOON a report on So Many Mini-Supers (one about every half block)!