Tuesday, August 31, 2010

An Isla Morning

Lately, all the trip reports and photos from Isla are making me homesick. I'd love to spend a month on the island sometime soon, but I think our next trip back will be in June/July. I started looking through photos and found some that I don't think I've posted yet.

My favorite time of day on Isla is early morning. I usually wake up with the sunrise, throw on some clothes, and combine a morning walk with a seaglass hunt. Then on my way home, I walk through El Centro, stopping at the supermercado and market for fruit, baked goods, and orange juice. Here are some photos from my Isla morning.

I always notice something on my morning walks that I've never seen before.

The early morning streets are fairly deserted.

I usually make a loop down Medina and back along the malecon. Here's the view looking north toward my seaglass mine!

During my seaglass hunt, I always see this post from the old seawall. It'd be a cool memento if it wasn't too big to take home!

All the beach chairs are lined up on Playa Norte waiting for customers.

The dengue warnings on the square are a reminder to wear that Autan! If we had dengue around here, I'd have it. The mosquitos here right now are horrible! Hope none of us get West Nile.

I'm really curious about this poster. Are they building a new Catholic Church on the island?

The fountain on the zocalo actually looks nice when it's filled and running!

The fruit looks riper in the mercado, but I like taking photos of the signs in the supermercado.

These rolls in the supermercado looked good, but I didn't try one.

This gorgeous hibiscus tree sits in front of a house on Juarez.

I usually walk Juarez on my way back to Playa Norte. I love these inventive parking cones in front of the Hostel Posada.

Once home, it's fun to clean and arrange the day's booty!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Hell Weekend!

Inspiration eludes me this morning because I'm absolutely pooped from the weekend. We mistook this weekend for Labor Day, and now we're bone tired and sore. Fifty something-year old bodies are not meant to do hard physical labor.

When I was in college, fraternities had Hell Week where they put their pledges through hell. Cleaning at all hours of the night, making them do stupid and sometimes dangerous physical stunts, etc.... This evidently was our hell weekend!

A small project turned big and we spent Saturday and Sunday working in the yard. We've hated our front yard landscaping for awhile. I'm not sure when I got the wild hair, but I quickly decided on the exact replacement shrubs on Friday night and we headed to a local nursery and Home Depot early Saturday morning. All the other neighbors call a landscaper and have a crew do it, but saving that money was just too tempting? And I truly thought it'd just be a quick little Saturday morning project.

The feline cashier at the nursery needs some customer service training.

We planted three purple sages in the location where the natty weedy-looking British ruellia were half dead, a torchglow bougainvillea in place of the overgrown hibiscus that turns ugly and burns up every summer, and a desert willow in place of the ugly mound of rosemary and fungus blackened Katie ruellia. The planting wasn't the big deal. It was tearing the overgrown shrubs and tree out. A lot of the widely used tropical plants here in Arizona are just NOT suited for the climate. They die back during freezes in the winter, then shortly after they've made a decent recovery in the spring, they burn up in the extreme dry summer heat. I'm basically tired of the battle and looking at ugly, so we replaced them with plants that will hopefully look decent year round.

One problem of course always leads to another. In the process of digging out the old shrubs we managed to cut the wire to the landscaping lights and also puncture the irrigation tubing in numerous spots. Craig was still out there with a flashlight last night trying to stop the leaks until he can buy more tubing on his way home from work and do the repairs tonight.

After finishing the front yard landscaping Saturday, one thing called for another. We decided to spruce up the pots in the courtyard on Sunday. I turned a hose pot into a lantana planter, and potted a gardenia. And don't tell the Bumpuses, but we once again harvested an agave from their grow farm. This one had sprouted under an ugly desert spoon on the property line and was ripe for the plucking. Since they have weeds higher than their shrubs and their broken irrigation system continues to spout the Bellagio geyser every night at 7 p.m., I highly doubt they'll ever realize we've been kidnapping their baby agaves. In fact, I'm certain they have no clue their agave has ever given birth!

Pot of lantana. The aloe and agave are two of Craig's successful babies.

The yuccas and another baby agave graduated to bigger pots! These were all freebies. I'm amazed at how easy it is to propagate desert plants.

Can't wait for the new gardenia to bloom!

After finishing in the front courtyard, Craig was still inspired, so he disappeared into the backyard and repotted several cacti and ripped out a desert hibiscus that only looks good three months of the year. He's eyeing another red hibiscus that turns ugly every summer, so I'm sure it'll bite the dirt by next weekend. And my next plan is to plant some magenta flowering oleanders along the wall by our patio that will grow tall and hide our view of the Bumpuses.

Just when we were finally ready for a long nap, we discovered a tick in our bathroom. One tick too many! Oh my God! Our house must be infested! When Saby experienced the freedom of running wild, running free in the tall grass at the doggie dude ranch while we were on Isla, she unfortunately became a host for unwanted critters. (And yes, she had on Frontline!) Craig's been battling her infestation since July and thought he got them all, but not so. We found out from our vet that they no longer dip dogs anymore and Frontline is the answer. So off we ran to Petsmart for another round of chemicals. Craig treated Saby and I got busy spraying the carpets and upholstery in the house. I generally don't believe in spraying inside the house, but I also don't like the idea of ticks on my body, not to mention any diseases that might come from that! After fumigating Saby and the house, we relaxed in the pool to give the fumes a chance to die down.

So it's the Itchy and Scratchy Show now. Between the mosquito bites from being outdoors all weekend (mosquitos are absolutely mercenary in our neighborhood right now), Saby's ticks, and all the huge ugly spiders I saw while ripping out the shrubs, I've got a bad case of the creepie crawlies. Scratch scratch scratch!

I think all this newfound energy is a function of getting off some of the prescription drugs I'd been taking. Whatever it is, hopefully it'll last until I get a LOT of stuff done around here!

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Weekly Wrap

Lots of humidity, clouds, and skeeters around here right now which make for glorious color in the sky if you can brave the bites to view the sunsets!

Miss Saby got a brand new toy, a raccoon with squeakers but no stuffing (that way she's not hell bent on removing the stuffing from the toy)! She loves to wear it round her neck like a raccoon stole. Now if we could just train her to do the Charleston!

I fixed a pot of La Bruja's Sopa de Lima Wednesday night! It was wonderful garnished with tortilla strips and avocado!

Could someone please tell Saby it's NOT Take Your Dog to Work day! Actually, I took this photo to irritate my son. I'll put it on his Facebook. He can't stand it when we put a bandana, hat, or anything on what he calls his dog!

And here's what I call the Lazy Woman's Chocolate Sundae. I should have submitted this recipe for the Ixchel's Kitchen cookbook! Ice cream -- it's not just for breakfast anymore!

Have a wonderful weekend. I think we're going to redo some of our front landscaping. The temps are supposed to dip below 100 into the high 90's for two days, so that's a decent time to plant shrubs in Arizona. Hopefully, we'll play at least one of the two days!

For all you friends headed to Isla Mujeres, I'm jealous! Have a fantastic time!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Bonus Day -- Almost Free!

Well now -- everyone's heard a million times about how cheap I am! One of the things I've always been cheap about is paying to walk beyond the little gate at Punta Sur. I never felt the urge since I could see those ugly crayon colored metal sculptures from a distance. One Sunday in July, we were cruising the island in the cart on our way to snorkel at Garrafon Hotel. We both felt the urge for an ice cream and thought maybe there'd be a shop at Punta Sur since it's a tourist trap.

If there was a gelato shop, I missed it, so we bought a couple of cones from a guy with a cart. (And by the way, his ice cream really sucked!) While standing around in the fake village, I happened to notice people going up to the ticket booth to pay for the cliff walks, waiting, shrugging their shoulders, and then going on. So I started walking that way and gestured frantically for Craig to follow!

K-Mart Blue Light Special! Almost free! Actually, it WAS free! So off we skipped on our first tour of the cliff area at Punta Sur. Craig was still a little worried the authorities would chase us down, but I assured him no one was going to run after people in that jungle heat, and besides, they'd just assume we were daytrippers who'd paid the big bucks over at Garrafon Park!

Not to start off topic here, but my first trip to Isla, I assumed these were the Mayan ruins. Don't you just LOVE what they've done with the place! The parked boat is an especially nice touch!

Actually, the figures on the posts of the remaining wall are quite nice!

Back to Punta Sur! I love their gardens out in the tourist trap area.

While we were desperately searching for ice cream, I noticed a sleeping dog. Let sleeping dogs lie!

I love the little windows and fancy trim in the fake Caribbean village!

From the edge of the cliffs, I noticed a beach below. Wonder if there's any seaglass?!!!

Off the paths on the way to the Ixchel ruin, I noticed a collection of pots. This must be a Mayan altar with offerings?

And finally, I saw the famous Isla Mayan ruin for the first time. Not much there, but the trip was definitely worth it! (And I don't mean it was worth it just because it was free!)

The paths are really cool! I love this tunnel through the cliff.

This explains it!

Craig doesn't always carry a man purse, but sometimes as you know, he's my bee-atch. We didn't dare leave the beach bag on the golfcart!

I would have loved to have walked the paths all the way to the Garrafon Park gate, but this is why we didn't. But I did see people making the trek! Only in Mexico would they have a path without a railing where the waves crash over it and dummies could be swept into the sea. This was the day after the unnamed tropical wave had passed, so I imagine the waves were higher than normal.

Notice the waves crashing up over the walkway? It'd be beautiful to walk on a calmer day. Maybe I can sneak in again sometime in the future! : )

Don't cross over that wall, or the guard iguanas will bite you! That's a joke, but recently I got the story about my cousin's wife being bitten on the hand by an iguana in Costa Rica. She fell asleep in a lounge chair at the hotel pool and the iguana smelled banana on her hand and latched on! Ouch!

Punta Sur is always worth a stop if only to admire all the big iguanas. They're everywhere, they're everywhere!

And that, my friends, ends the free tour of Punta Sur! If you liked the tour, you can make your donations to my retire in Mexico account via PayPal. Thanks in advance for your kindness!

P.S. If you're a newcomer to my blog and don't know me, that last little blip is my droll sense of humor. Although . . . feel free to send me money! : )

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Painting Isla


Wall of Cubana

Dock Sunset

Crayola House

Brooms Galore

Hotel Las Palmas

Isla Mercado

Dock Panorama

La Luna

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Ixchel's Kitchen

Got my Ixchel's Kitchen Isla cookbook in the mail yesterday and I'm so excited! Jana Everett Epperson, aka Moongirl, did a fantastic job and now I can't wait to try all the wonderful recipes!

Ixchel's Kitchen includes recipes like So Cal Mex Breakfast Lasagna and Mayan Roasted Chicken Enchiladas with Mole Sauce from Villa la Bella, Casa Sirena's Huevos Divorciados, Hummus from Comono, Guacamole, Sopa de Lima, and Vera Cruz Style Fish from La Bruja, Moroccan Chicken in Olives and Garam Masala from Olivia, Cuban Picadillo from Qubano, Bimbo Dogs by Danny, numerous recipes from Tiffany of Sonrisas Catering, and all sorts of wonderful concoctions contributed by restaurants and people on the island and the Islaholics we know and love!

The cookbook contains everything from Isla inspired cocktails to appetizers, main dishes, desserts, side dishes, and even beauty concoctions like the Tropical Face Mask from Casa La Luz Spa and Jana's own Mojito Body Scrub! Who knew that the multi-talented Jana could do everything from making seaglass jewelry to gourmet cooking to authoring and editing a cookbook! Three cheers for Jana!

The best part is that all the cookbook's proceeds go to support La Gloria English School on Isla Mujeres. The school, founded by Tom and Maggie Washa from Wisconsin who also now live on Isla, allows the residents of Isla Mujeres the opportunity to learn English in order to make a living in the tourist based economy.

Here's the important information -- the link to order Ixchel's Kitchen. It's $30, and as I said before, all the proceeds go to La Gloria English School. What I love about this fundraiser is that you get all the recipes for the food you love to eat on Isla Mujeres. I can't afford to be on Isla as much as I'd like, but I can bring the memories of Isla into my kitchen!

So hurry over to Jana's blog and get your own copy of Ixchel's Kitchen!

(Just click on those blue highlighted links and they will whisk you over there!)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sweet Dreams

I'm a medicated mess! I'm on medications to counteract the side effects of other medications and I finally got to my breaking point this last week. The restless leg syndrome -- yes, I actually have it -- finally put me over the edge! I was in the dentist chair on Tuesday morning and my legs started to jerk uncontrollably at about two minute intervals. The dental assistant was trying to finish up a temporary cap on my crown. Each time my legs would jerk, she'd think she'd hit a nerve! So she was frantically trying to hurry as fast as she could go to get me out of there. With a mouth full of cotton, I couldn't explain what was happening, so I'm sure she thought I was a kicking nut about to go dental on her. Usually when the leg jerks strike, it's in the afternoon when the time-released medication I take is wearing off, but being reclined on my head for two hours with all the blood draining away from my legs not to mention the possible drug interaction with the novocaine had put me in R.L.S. hell. It turned into a Laurel and Hardy scene with the assistant being so frantic to get me out of there that she forgot to do a color match for the new crown and literally did it at the front door in the reception room.

Pedicures have also become impossible. For some reason, the uncontrollable leg jerks always strike when I'm in the chair having my toes done. It always induces puzzled giggles from the Vietnamese toe torturer which turns to exasperation by the time they get to the applying nail polish stage. I literally have to hold my leg down by pressing on my knee in order to keep my leg still enough for them to finish the job.

And it's not just the embarrassment at the nail salon or dentist's office -- it's literally crawling out of my skin on flights and not being able to sit though a movie or watch television on my own sofa without being in misery. And the current medication I'm on just seems to intensify the leg movement rather than suppress it.

So I scheduled a doctor's appointment yesterday to try and solve the problem. My blood pressure, for the first time I can ever remember, was actually too low. I have white coat syndrome (my blood pressure shoots sky high when I enter a doctor's office) and I'm on B.P. medication for high blood pressure, so not even that medication is working properly. My doctor, who is normally extremely nice, seemed a little exasperated by my pharmaceutical complaints, but she came up with a plan to figure out just what the hell is going on! So today I go cold turkey on most of my medications except for the Nexium. The Nexium actually works like a charm. (As it should since it costs an arm and a leg!)

The doctor prescribed a sleeping pill which I was extremely skeptical about. Why add another fricking medication to the mix! But I finally gave in once the pharmacist explained the multiple qualities of the drug that will help with the withdrawal from the other medications and get me through the next few weeks.

I took the first pill last night and it worked. Once I finally drifted off to sleep, I was navigating the streets of Bali in the world's tiniest little car dragging my feet on the ground to brake when I met obstacles. The little clown car had the loudest muffler in the world which actually woke me up at 6:00 a.m.! I'm thinking that loud muffler was my snoring??? HA!

This too shall pass. This too shall pass. This too shall pass.

I go in Monday for bloodwork to make sure the sudden ramp up with the leg jerks isn't due to any underlying condition such as Parkinson's, anemia, kidney failure, etc.... I'm not too worried. I'm fairly confident the leg jerks were brought to me by the miracle of modern pharmaceuticals!

But meanwhile, I'll be cruising the roads of Bali in my clown car every night! Who knows, if we could get this leg jerk thing solved, maybe I might actually be able to fly there someday!