Saturday, December 31, 2011

Just Feel Lucky

There will be no list of New Year's resolutions for 2012!  Mine are always the same.  I usually struggle to keep them for the month of January, then fall off the wagon and roll down the hill. So instead of focusing on a list of tasks to be accomplished in 2012, maybe I should just focus on the many things in my life I'm content with right now. 

I feel lucky!    Like Mary Chapin Carpenter (click on the link!), we're feeling pretty lucky this year.  2011 was a good year for us in the health and fun departments.  I won't bore anyone with a list, but let's face it, compared to the rest of the world, most of us here in the United States have a pretty cushy life.  Sometimes on our travels, I realize that shoes, heat, clean tap water, clothes, food -- all the basics we take for granted here in the U.S. -- are items other people in the world struggle for daily.

So my little resolution for 2012 is to turn off the cable networks (life will go on despite whatever happens in the financial markets or 2012 elections) and feel lucky for the little things in life!

Sunrise . . .

Sunset . . . 

 It's all good!  Best wishes for a happy and healthy 2012!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Scuba Craig

As some of you may know, Craig completed his Open Water Dive Certification on Isla Mujeres in December. After checking around, Craig chose to use Gilberto at Carey Dive Shop. Gilberto came highly recommended by a friend on the island, and Craig couldn't have been more pleased with his experience. If any of you are looking for diving instruction or just an Isla shop to dive with, Craig definitely recommends that you talk to Gilberto at Carey. Their location is just a few doors off Rueda Medina on Matamoras, up the street from Captain Tony's.

Gilberto was patient, thorough, safety-minded, and very knowledgeable, and all the equipment and operation ran seamlessly. Craig thoroughly enjoyed the experience and will definitely be returning to Carey for any future dives on our trips to Isla! One of the little extras Gilberto included was a DVD with photos from Craig's various dives. Here are some of Gilberto's photos.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Cemetery Walk

Sometimes I take living in Arizona for granted, but yesterday on Christmas Day while I was basking in the warm sun on a park bench watching hummingbirds hit the geraniums and petunias in the flower planters, I remembered family and friends were probably shivering in cold and snow back home in the Midwest.  As a good friend used to always say when we'd get together for holiday dinners on the patio -- And THIS is why we live here!  (The friend has since burned out on the summer heat and moved back to colder climes.)

Craig left at 5:00 a.m. to drop Michael at the airport.  He's headed out for 9 glorious days of fun, sun, and ocean with friends in Hawaii.  I would have been insanely jealous if the weather here wasn't warm and sunny right now!

While we were on Isla in December, I wandered into the cemetery one Sunday afternoon.  Craig refuses to accompany me because he thinks I'm disturbing the dead.  This time my mission was to photograph Mundaca's grave, but every time I start poking around the wall at the front of the cemetery, I get spooked.  This time an iguana came down off the wall at me and scared me out of there!  Actually, it also started raining, but I did manage to snap some pre-sprinkle photos.

Here's a little bit of music for the walk.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Feliz Navidad!

While I'm waiting to baste my ham once again with Meyer's Dark Rum, I thought I'd post a couple of videos from earlier this month on Isla.   Early December was hopping with action on the streets and in the zocalo.  Processions walked through the streets accompanied by bands or mariachis, locals danced in the square in traditional costumes, the church held first communions for girls and boys, and kids patrolled Hidalgo carrying decorated trees looking for friendly faces to sing La Rama.

Merry Christmas and happy travels in 2012!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

It's Fredy Time!

I've heard about Fredy's baked shrimp on message boards for years, but somehow I'd never tried it!

This trip, we met our favorite Canadians one Sunday night at Fredy's, and I ordered the baked shrimp.  OMG!  Everyone else at the table insisted on Fredy's signature pork chop, but they were all clamoring for samples of the baked shrimp.  Unfortunately, we were having so much fun, I forgot to take any photos of food that evening, but everyone's food was fantastic!

Shortly after the food was consumed, our favorite mariachi showed up to serenade us.  Then our friend Gail dropped by and ordered the taquitos.  In the midst of all that fun, Craig's girlfriend from the beach came running down the street.  The more the merrier!

Now this little beach has a fat lot of nerve!  First she's making out with Craig on Playa Norte earlier in the day (see the evidence below), then she shows up at dinner uninvited? 

She's a fickle-hearted little thing.  Shortly after Craig gave up his pork chop bone, she took off down Hidalgo on a dead run.  We caught her later in the evening dining on steak with another man at the Argentina Grill.

Craig and I returned to Fredy's twice after that night because I could not get that baked shrimp out of my mind!  The second trip, Craig ordered the Mexican sampler and it was also fantastic!

And here's the photo of the baked shrimp I ordered three times this trip!  It's a wondrous concoction baked in a buttery broth with spinach and cheese on the top.  YUM!  How I wish I had Fredy's recipe!

Fredy's is located toward the north end of Hidalgo directly across from the newly opened Lola Valentina's.  If you haven't tried that baked shrimp or pork chop, stop by Fredy's! I know it'll be one of our first stops next trip!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Food, Glorious Qubano Food!

Sometimes I wonder if the food on Isla Mujeres really tastes that good, or if our taste buds are enhanced due to the fact that we're in paradise? 

Well -- Qubano is definitely one restaurant on Isla Mujeres where the food is amazingly better than any of the similar offerings at home!  This trip we only managed to visit Qubano twice, but both times were simply delicious!

Yum!   We split Vivian's Cobb Salad on our first lunch at Qubano.  As Vivian's sign says, the main ingredient is time and love! 

On the second visit, there was no way I was splitting my lunch with the man in the photo above!

But I did manage to steal some of Craig's watermelon drink!

After perusing the menu board, I chose Vivian's Salad and Craig ordered his favorite Cuban Sandwich.

Vivian's Salad was absolutely wonderful!  The goat cheese croutons on the top -- OMG!  Where can I get THAT at home?

Craig's Cuban was equally satisfying!  (I know because I stole a bite!)

(Stay tuned for more culinary treats from Isla Mujeres.)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Saturday, December 17, 2011

It Only Goes in Reverse!

Isla Mujeres seems to be an epicenter for crazy cars.  Whether it's invention born out of necessity, or just island flair, the island's a great place to snap photos of the many ways motors can be attached to wheels to provide transportation. 

My all-time favorite was one I spotted in 2005 and haven't seen since.  A rather large man with long locks invented his own scooter made from a banana bike (remember those from the 60's and 70's?) and a lawnmower motor.  I remember him zipping into town and up and down Hidalgo on that contraption.  How I wish I had a photo of that big burly guy riding on that tiny contraption that sounded like a hornet buzzing.  Anyone else remember him?

 I know I've seen multiple vehicles of this design on the island, but I don't think I've seen one in the U.S.

Here we have one of many modified VW Bugs.  I'm not sure if the black and white paint is a dalmatian or cow theme.  I think I snapped the photo in front of a house with a black and white spotted garage, so maybe it's painted to match the casa?

I love the upholstery in this car!  T-shirts for the front buckets and a brightly colored pastel Mexican blanket in the rear!

I love the way they turn a car into a P.A. system for all those important announcements on the island!

Spotted this fancy paint job on the street that leads to the beach by Ixchel. 

Now this truck must be in the running for # 1 island beater!  I think maybe it's a large recycling bin?

And all this leads me to my only in Mexico crazy driver story.  I won't name name's, but I suppose many people will recognize the vehicle involved.   One morning, as we were walking to our favorite seaglass beach, we saw a jeep speeding down the Caribe side road.  I suddenly realized the back of the car was coming towards us.  We moved off onto the shoulder of the road to give the vehicle a wide berth.  The situation immediately reminded me of the phrase -- backing down Main Street -- that an older friend of mine used to describe elderly folks in my hometown who were starting to lose their faculties.  Yep, the guy was definitely backing down Main Street!

The driver saw Craig and I huddling off the side of the road staring and decided an explanation was in order.  As he whizzed past in reverse in his shiny white jeep, he yelled out --

It only goes in reeeeee-veeeeeerrrrrsssseee!

(Sorry Curtis.  It was too good to pass up!)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

La Rama

In early December, we started noticing the local kids out on Hidalgo with their decorated tree branches.   La Rama had begun!  The tradition puzzles me since I'm not fluent in Spanish, but basically it consists of kids decorating small Christmas trees or branches with tinsel and ornaments and singing a song for pesos.  I found a translation of the song online.  The La Rama verses go something like this!

Good evening, we say, gentlefolk, the branch comes to sing to you
it comes to sing with honor
to see what you can give us.

Oranges and lemon
lemons and limes
the Virgin is prettier
than all the flowers.

In a small stable
made of lime and sand
Jesus Christ was born
on Christmas Eve.

At midnight
a rooster sang
and in his song said
that Christ was born.

Up in heaven
there's a little stable
where he's looking down
on the little boy (Jesus).

Green grass
covered with dew
he who doesn't cover up
will die of cold.

Give me my bonus
if you're going to give it to me
the night is very short
and we have to go.

The branch is now leaving
very thankful
because at this house
it was well received.

I'm still not sure if the kids are collecting the pesos to keep themselves, or if the money goes into a community fund for a party.  A friend said when the kids are in a group accompanied by teachers, they're probably collecting for a group party. Whatever the tradition, it's fun to see all the smiling faces of children as they sing their song for pesos. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Magic Monday

 Actually, I wish it was Magic Monday so Scotty would beam me up and whisk me home.  It's a travel day and I don't look forward to it.  The party's over and it's time to go home.  I snapped photos all over the island yesterday, so I'll post a few before I start packing.

 Need Nativity parts?

We fear his fate is Christmas goose!

Tiny Hidalgo table.

Don't foul the golfcart!

Costumes galore!

Cemetery angel.

Nothing says Mexico like a big red, green, and white truck!