Friday, April 20, 2018

Plogging your way to a cleaner paradise and to better health

For several weeks we have been reading islander Kai Creamer’s Facebook posts about the next plogging day on Isla Mujeres.

Plogging?” I asked, “What the heck is that?”

Well, according to Kai, it is a movement that started in Sweden and the name of the activity comes from the Swedish plocka up or pick up. 

The activity combines picking up trash with jogging to create the fun and memorable name of plogging.  Many islanders had already incorporated the idea into their daily exercise routines but now they can also join the group for a laughter-filled workout. 

I’m pretty sure some of the items that are found along the streets can be pretty gross, and others quite entertaining. I have on occasion discovered discarded underwear, male and female, that I did not pick up but pondered the possible scenario that lead to the removal of their underwear among the scorpions, spiders, and ticks.

But back to plogging. Every Wednesday the next weekend's route and meeting place are posted to the group’s Facebook page. The distances range between 1.5 and 2.5 kilometers. 

The participants meet at 8:30 in the morning and are provided with gloves, re-cycled plastic grocery bags for the trash and water refills for their personal water bottles from a larger twenty-litre Garrafon

A number of the members bring their own grabbers, those handy devices that were originally designed for people with mobility challenges to reach and pick up items. 

The biggest challenge for the group is getting a supply affordable of the trash grabbers. In Mexico they are hard to find and are expensive. 

If any travelers from the USA or Canada have room in their suitcase for a few of the dollar-store variety grabbers the group would really appreciate your assistance. They each cost around $1.00 to $1.25, although the better-made variety costing around $10.00 each would probably last longer. 

As Kai says, the speed of the activity depends on the amount of trash to be picked up. Sometimes the group is stationary in one area picking it clean before moving on. They generally stop by 11:00 in the morning, and convene at a one of their local sponsor restaurants. 

Both Mango Café and La Tarima offer a complimentary refreshing lemonade for the ploggers. Some of the group will often linger longer at the restaurant to take advantage of the group members discount and enjoying a well-earned late breakfast or early lunch.

On average the plogging events attract around fifteen people but on occasion the group has swelled to as many as forty participants. Kai and the group members are planning a second route for Wednesday afternoons for the folks who for various reasons can’t participate on the weekends or in the mornings. 

Here’s your chance to have a few laughs, get some exercise, and help our island in paradise. 

Here's the link to their Facebook group page for more information.
Photos courtesy of Kai Creamer.

Hasta Luego
Lynda, Lawrie and Sparky

Join the adventure!
Now available as e-books and paperback

Friday, April 13, 2018

Time to take a breath

Just breathe!

Put your feet up, breathe in, breathe out, and relax! 

The high season crowds are starting to thin out giving everyone on the island a much needed break. 

Most of the schools are back in session in Canada, USA and Mexico reducing the thick masses of families traveling to sunny locations for the annual spring vacation.

Dropping off friends at Ultramar boat

There were many afternoons this year when we avoided Centro between the peak hours of eleven in the morning to four in the afternoon, when the fleets of golf carts are at their busiest. 

Sunburnt day-trippers from the Cancun hotel-zone pour off the tour boats and are caught up in the swirl. Typically most first-time visitors rent a golf cart, tour the island, snap a hundred selfies, and get back on their assigned boat by late afternoon. It’s a good way to get an overview of the island, but there is so much more to discover than white sandy beaches and spectacular viewpoints.

Even though the many islanders employed in the hospitality industry love the increase in tips, by the time high season starts to wind down everyone is exhausted and longing for peace and quiet. 

The tempo will ramp again in late June when summer holidays bring North American and European families to the island to snorkel, dive and swim with the manta rays and the whale sharks.

Participants of procession

Last week, just as we were dropping friends off at the Ultramar passenger boats to begin their trek back to their summer home in Canada, we got caught up in the annual re-enactment of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. 

At least two or maybe three thousand worshippers were following the actor depicting Christ, who was dragging an enormously heavy cross. There were Roman Centurions, the Roman judges and officials, and a crowd of followers many who were dressed in period costumes. The event started in the morning and encompassed all three of the larger Catholic churches, ending around three in the afternoon at the large church in the square.

So hot many of the participants in procession used umbrellas
It’s a fascinating contract to see the participants of this solemn religious procession trekking six kilometers under the blazing sun and at the end intermingle with scantily-clad tourists. Just one of the many oddities of living in a tourist destination.

For a few weeks everyone can take a breath, spend time with their family and friends, and rest up for the summer onslaught.  April and May are our favourite months on Isla. The weather is usually hot, sunny, with little or no rain and the streets are somewhat quieter. It’s a perfect time to enjoy our island paradise.

The almost-famous Sparky

Hasta Luego
Lynda, Lawrie and Sparky


Isla Mujeres Mystery Series

Books 1, 2 and 3
 available in e-books, or paperback on Amazon.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Protect your noggin’

Four on a moto common sight on Isla

It’s always a huge surprise for new visitors to the island when they see multiple members of a family riding scooters or motorcycles – and frequently without helmets to protect their heads.

It’s pretty common to see mom or dad operating the moto with one child balanced in front of the driver, and the other parent tightly gripping one, or even two other children in their arms. 

We are so accustomed to the sight we hardly give it a second thought. 

However, not so with a group of caring individuals who decided to encourage a safer environment for the younger generation.

In June of 2014, long-time visitor Andrea Healey and her daughter Danielle Chesney brought much needed medical equipment to Giovanny Avalos for the Red Cross. When they delivered the supplies Andrea asked Giovanny what he saw as the greatest need for the islanders. He replied that it would be his dream to see all youngsters wearing helmets when riding on the family motorcycles.

After their vacation was over Andrea and Danielle returned home and gave Giovanni’s idea a lot of thought. They wanted to be culturally sensitive, and not be the bossy foreigners telling people how to live their lives. 

They started small asking people to purchase helmets at a local hardware store and leave them with at the front desk of Marina Paraiso Hotel. Managers, Brad and Tiff Waring, had generously volunteered to be the collection point for the helmets. The initial distribution was handled through the schools, with teachers helping to identify the students who urgently needed the safety gear.

The second phase of Helmets for Isla was to collect donations and order in bulk from a Mexican company. Their first order was for 50, then the second was 420 and recently another 400 were ordered. In total there has been close to 1350 helmets distributed through the schools, through Volunquest, and through the churches.

Every helmet that is handed out comes with a contract of responsibility signed by the parents. These contracts are all about safety, educating both the parents and children of the importance of a well fitted helmet while riding a moto. But frequently the children won’t use the helmets, because it’s just not ‘cool.’ It’s always a slow process to change the habits of a lifetime.

Islander, Jessica Contreras has recently mobilized a group of volunteers. These locals are not shy about approaching their neighbours asking why their child is not wearing a helmet and educating them about the program. 

Her brother’s company Prisma Golf Cart Rentals generously sponsored a huge banner to advertise the campaign.

Most recently Jessica has been into the high schools and those students are now very motivated to wear head protection since their friend Jorge died in a motorcycle accident on St Patrick's Day. He was not wearing a helmet.

Some of the students do not have helmets, some have helmets that are too small and they have removed the padding so they are large enough to fit on their heads, and some have helmets that are cracked, broken or damaged. Helmets for Isla now has a waiting list of two-hundred and fifty teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17 years old, all of whom have made a written request for a helmet.

As Andrea said, “Our ultimate goal is to have a safe and well-fitting helmet for every child on the island, but are short-term goal right now is to get enough helmets for all of the teenagers who have requested them. We feel if we can get the adolescents on-board then hopefully they will encourage their younger brothers and sisters to wear the helmets too.”

Helmets for Isla is a worthwhile cause. 

If you would like to help out, below are the links for more information.

Hasta Luego
Lynda and Lawrie

Isla Mujeres Mystery Book #3

Murder and mayhem on a tiny island in paradise. 

Available on Amazon as an E-book for $2.99 USD
or paperback for $11.99 USD

Friday, March 30, 2018

On a deadline today! Book #3 Tormenta Isla

Paleta (popsicles) salesmen heading back after along day
Happy Friday everyone, from paradise.

I'm on a tight deadline to get Tormenta Isla Book #3 of the Isla Mujeres Mystery series up and running by tomorrow. 

Today's blog is a few of my fun photos of how people earn a living on an island in paradise.

Felipe and Santiago - fixing a leak in our a/c

Door to door tortilla salesman starting his day before sunrise
Late afternoon - cleaning up the boat in preparation for morning

Beach cleaning crew

Making tortillas at the Chedraui grocery store

Fire fighters disposing of a nest of angry hornets

Hasta Luego, Lynda, Lawrie and Sparky
Tormenta Isla - soon!

Friday, March 23, 2018

Knee Deep in Paradise!

Gonna put the world away for a minute
Pretend I don't live in it
Sunshine gonna wash my blues away

Wishin' I was
Knee deep in the water somewhere
Got the blue sky, breeze and it don't seem fair

The only worry in the world
Is the tide gonna reach my chair

Sunrise, there's a fire in the sky
Never been so happy
Never felt so high

And I think I might have found me my own kind of paradise
Wrote a note, said "Be back in a minute"

Mind on a permanent vacation
The ocean is my only medication
Wishin' my condition ain't ever gonna go away

This champagne shore washing over me
It's a sweet sweet life living by the salty sea
One day you could be as lost as me
Change your geography

Come on in the water's nice
Find yourself a little slice

Grab a bag, pack it light
You never know until you try
When you lose yourself
You find the key to paradise

Hasta Luego

Lynda & Lawrie

(The lyrics are from the Zac Brown & Jimmy Buffet tune: Knee Deep in the Water Somewhere! One of our favourite 'island songs."


April 1st 2018 Book #3

Tormenta Isla 

Friday, March 16, 2018

Sparky’s first book signing & Maxie flys to Arizona

Sparky's first book signing.   
Sparky was the cutest, and definitely the shortest celebrity at a recent Make a Difference fundraiser in support of the Ron Brown Scholarship Fund. 

On Tuesday this week a generous group of people gathered at Curtis and Ashley Blogins’ beautiful Villa la Bella B&B to raise money for the charity. Since its inception in 2010 the scholarship fund has helped seventeen island students to achieve degrees as veterinaries, dentists, graphic artists, engineers and many move occupations.
Richard Lock introducing some of the graduates of RBSF
This year Sparky and I received an invitation to participate with a book signing and a draw for the lucky person who will be ‘Killed Off’ in my Isla Mujeres Mystery Book #4. 

The lucky winner was Patti Packard. She will get a choice of being either a good person or a bad character in my next novel, due out late in 2018. (Book #3 Tormenta Isla is just a couple of weeks away from being published!)

Diego, Thomas and Lynda 
I was delighted to add a healthy donation to the fund on behalf of both myself and my friend Diego Medina. Diego is the talented illustrator of our bilingual book for children – The Adventures of Thomas the Cat / Las Aventuras de Tomas el Gato. We have been setting aside a portion of our book sales for the scholarship fund, and this was the perfect event to present the donation. According to Gwen Brown the fundraiser brought in a little over $8800.00 Canadian. All of the funds will be used for assisting students, nothing is spent on administrative costs.

Thank you everyone who made the event so successful. You can find out more about the Ron Brown Scholarship Fund at Please be sure you click on this link for information about the Isla Mujeres Mexico scholarship program as it is easily confused with the similar sounding name that supports students in Africa.
The day after the fundraiser our other little pooch Max and I went on an odyssey to his new home in Arizona. As I mentioned in a previous blog, Lawrie has been diagnosed with a debilitating disease – PSP, Progressive Supranuclear Palsy. The left side of his body doesn’t get the messages from his brain as quickly as the right side does. PSP creates serious stability and mobility issues for him.

Max waiting for boat ride to Cancun
Having two energetic dogs underfoot is too risky for Lawrie, and as much as we loved the fuzzy little guy Max had to find a new home. Fortunately for us our friend Janet Cummins sent our blog post to her friend Dianne in Arizona. Dianne Stocks who has had other rescue dogs, including her current beautiful girl Willow, agreed to adopt Max.
Wednesday was a tough day for Max and I. He left his island in paradise for the first time ever. Even though I have been giving him an anti-anxiety medication for a few days in preparation for the trip, riding on the Ultramar passenger ferry frightened him. But, by the time we got him loaded into the CARM van and headed to the airport he had stopped trembling and seemed interested in his new adventure. A special thanks to Denise and Mike Burton who helped me get from the boat to the CARM van on the Puerto Juarez side of the trip. Mike, you looked so handsome carrying my purse!

Max - keeping an eye on our wheelchair
At the airport the porters and wheelchair assistants were a huge help to us, bustling us to the head of the immigration line, the check-in line, then outside for a doggy pee break before he had to be surrendered to the baggage handlers. I had to use the wheelchair service because of course two days before I was due to make the trip my sciatica decided to act up, making walking or standing extremely painful. (Perfect timing!)
The American Airlines folks were delightfully kind and accommodating with Max and me. By the time we reached Phoenix he had adjusted to his international traveler status, and was doing just fine when I reclaimed him. My assistance wheeled us both out to meet Dianne and her friends, Laurie and Chris, who had come to pick him up. It was a very emotional meeting for me because I knew my time with Maxie was coming to an end, and Dianne because she was just beginning a new adventure with him. After tearful hugs and goodbyes I slipped away leaving Dianne to get to know her new guy better.  

Dianne and I at Phoenix airport
My return flight via American Airlines was just as easy and trouble free, only this time I was checking an empty dog travel case. That really confused everyone – porters and customs officers alike – wondering if I had an invisible dog. I had the same crew on the flight back to Cancun, and would like to mention Teri who took the time to make my return flight very pleasant and comfortable.
Back on Isla at the Ultramar ferry dock I was faced with a not too long, but still painful walk from the boat to the car park. I turned to one of the baggage handlers that I recognized and asked, “Would you give me and this empty dog cage a lift to the parking lot?”
He laughed and said, “Sure, hop on!”
I finished my two day odyssey riding on a diablito, Isla-style.
Willow and Maxie - worn out by excitement
I’m very happy to be back to Lawrie and Sparky. Thank you so very much to all of our friends and family who looked after my guys while Max and I were traveling. It’s the caring people around us that makes our lives so rich.
Our best wishes to Dianne, Willow and Maxie. We hope life is good to you as well.

Hasta Luego
Lynda & Lawrie

Book #3 Isla Mujeres Mystery
Tormenta Isla 

Friday, March 9, 2018

Hectic time in paradise!

Sunrise from our upper deck - March 3rd
It's been a hectic week but Wednesday was probably the craziest day. Our house was busy with friends coming and going from early morning to late afternoon.

Eileen Regn, H.A.L.O (Helping Animals Living Overseas) stopped in to help with the paperwork for our second dog Max to travel to his new home in Phoenix. Maxie and I travel next Wednesday. It's a bittersweet goodbye to the little guy. He's a sweet boy, but two dogs are too much for Lawrie to have underfoot with his medical condition, PSP, Progressive Supranuclear Palsy. 

Ismael Yam installing our new doors in bedroom/bathroom
Our friend, Neil Fox dropped by in the morning to try and sort out my Facebook account. A nasty virus came through on "Messenger" from one of those - please pass this important information along to all of your friends - group messages, that I never open nor do I pass along, yet my account still got the virus. 

Neil and I are still hopeful we can resuscitate my account with his top 10-hit list of how to kill a virus. In the meantime I can neither answer anything on messenger, nor comment on anyone posts. Please my email address instead:

Beautiful new barn-door for our bathroom
As Neil was working on curing my computer, Gerry Haas and Patty Magrini arrived with a batch of her home made pirogis - she thought we were looking skinny. Yummy treat!  

Thanks Patty! And thank you too Gerry for being her chauffeur.

Richard and Linda Grierson, Lawrie's sister and brother-in-law, popped over to see how things were progressing. 

Then a wonderful surprise in the form of Lyn McGrath appeared at our front gate. She was walking from Centro to her home in South Point and just thought she would stop in for a chat. What a delightful gift to spend some time with her. 

While our various friends were arriving, chatting, helping out, fattening us up and then leaving, two ladies were valiantly trying to clean up the construction dust and grit. The changes and renovations to our lower floor are 99% complete and we are mostly moved in and organized. 

It's odd, we have lived in this house for almost ten years, but now it feels like a whole new location. We have to re-think where to put things. Do we really need to keep that? When was the last time we used a particular item, a piece of clothing, or an odd-ball serving dish? Many, many things have found new homes this week.

Sparky and Max, insecure and hiding under computer desk
Our two dogs are apprehensive about the changes. Why are you moving my bed? What did you do with my toys? 

Max has a new fur-ever home in Phoenix, and I am taking him there next week. He doesn't know of course, but his new roommate is a beautiful young lady by the name of Willow. She has to be one of the prettiest dogs I have ever seen. We are hoping it is love at first sight.

And finally, just as we waved a thankful goodbye to the cleaning ladies for leaving us with a fresh, dust-free home again our good friend and contractor Patricio Yam, and his son Sergio showed up with the new air conditioner for our bedroom.   
Waiting for Max to arrive.
The house had been clean for at least five minutes, and now the chip, chip, chip starts again!  

For those of you that are not familiar with the construction of houses in Mexico almost everything is made from concrete. 

Any changes involve a lot of chipping, noise and dust. We all had a good laugh over a glass of wine about their timing.

That's what we love about living here, the caring and helpful family, friends and neighbours. 

Cheers Lynda & Lawrie

Lawrie - trying out our new bistro bar stools in the kitchen

Make a Difference – Tuesday March 13th
An evening of support of the Ron Brown Scholarship Fund.
Come join Sparky and Lynda Lock
5 – 7 p.m. at Villa la Bella B&B
$25 USD per person

- Book signing by Lynda Lock, author of the Isla Mujeres-based mystery series. Enter Lynda's contest to be the next character to die in her new novel.
- Music by Jeff Current
- Cash bar; one free margarita or beer courtesy of Villa la Bella.
- Appetizers 
- Meet some of the RBSF graduates

The Ron Brown Scholarship Fund has been set up to honor Ron’s memory and his commitment to the island of Isla Mujeres and its people. On his behalf, our goal is to provide financial assistance to promising, dedicated students in order to further their education and enable them to improve their lifestyle. We feel this opportunity will not only benefit the students, but also their families and in turn, the whole community. To date, the fund has helped 17 young Islenos fulfill their dream of higher education.

How to get tickets:
In Advance

RSVP Here: (Cash collected at door)

Contact Gwen Brown at

Can't make it but still want to help: 

Coming Soon Book #3