Friday, February 17, 2017

Feeding time at the zoo


While typing out a list of ‘how to’ instructions for friends who are baby-sitting Sparky and our house for a few weeks, we noticed we had included a number of references to critters other than Sparky.  There are a myriad of instructions on the care and feeding of our free-roaming collection of pets that inhabit our small bit of the island.

Geek the Kitchen Gecko
We have Geek the Kitchen Gecko, who lives behind the fridge, and gives me a loud chuk, chuk, chuk greeting every morning when I turn on the coffee maker. Geek doesn’t require a lot of maintenance, except he likes a shallow dish of clean water to be available on the kitchen counter. A few times when he has tried to catch a drip from the kitchen tap it has resulted in a traumatic drop into a slippery sided enclosure with no traction for his Velcro-like feet. Rather than chase a panicky lizard around the sink, we have settled on letting him use the former-hand soap dish as a drinking bowl. Occasionally we pull the fridge away from the wall and vacuum his house, taking care not to suction him up with the poop. In return for our acceptance of his requirements Geek the Gecko does his best to eliminate mosquitoes and ants. 

King of the Beach - Thomas the Cat 
Before our famous seventeen-year-old Thomas the Cat passed away in April of 2016 there were a succession of kitchen geckos who had a brief and tension-filled existence.  We intensely miss our Tommy, but the household geckos had a disco party in celebration of his passing.

Stumpy the Iguana is about 15 years old 
While Geek patrols the interior of our house, the larger lizards inhabit underground burrows outside. There is a herd of about twenty five iguanas that mooch bits of fruit, veggies, and left-over pet food. They are similar to beach dogs, keeping a watchful eye on movements at Casa Rosa, Casa Luna, our house Casa K’aay Há, Casa Maravilla Caribe, and Punta Piedra. Any indication that someone might be willing to feed them, and the whole group will converge in a scurrying mass hoping to be the lucky one who gets the piece of mango, or papaya. They like to leave the boring broccoli or celery bits for the night-time beach-cleaning crew, the Hermit Crabs.

Hernando the Hermit Crab - we think ....LOL
The free-roaming Hermit Crabs number in the hundreds. They are probably the most labour intensive of our outdoor zoo critters. They require a daily supply of fresh clean water in dishes shallow enough to be accessible to small creatures, an assortment of scraps to dine on, and a steady supply of new shells to move into as they outgrow their current domicile. Hermit Crabs don’t create their own shells and must find larger homes on average every six months. Only certain shapes meet their requirements for comfort and accessibility. 

Hermit crab using a Pond's Cold Cream jar
The black and white turbo snail shells are their favourites, but the Hermit Crabs are in direct competition with tourists who also collect the beautiful and increasingly rare shells. Over the years we have purchased hundreds of substitute shells for the Hermit Crab shell exchange program at our crab-i-tat. The crabs take one – leave one.  We usually mark the purchased shells with red, orange or bright pink nail polish so that we can identify our frequent visitors.  And of course, since they are regularly swapping shells it is virtually impossible to recognize a particular Hermit Crab. You can never be certain of who you are chatting with!

Regular visitors 
And then there are the birds that visit every afternoon for a drink of clean water and a feather-cleaning bath. Soon after we moved here in 2008 we swept out the natural indents in the coral rocks just in front of our house. The birds quickly learned to rely on us for fresh water, happily congregating for a few minutes of social time in the late afternoon before heading to their roosting spots for the night. Even the iguanas, larger Hermit Crabs, or passing cats and dogs drink from the pools.

Sparky - star of Treasure Isla novel, waiting for the sequel
As for the instructions for looking after our almost-famous divo, Sparky, well those took up three full pages of computer printing.  We did mention he is a divo, a pampered, but we think very lovable, brat.

Being zoo keepers at our house is almost a full-time job.

Hasta Luego

Lynda & Lawrie


Join the hunt for pirate treasure on Isla Mujeres

$2.99 USD on Amazon e-books





By sharon on February 3, 2017


I loved this e-book! It was an easy read, I loved the story line, the characters and reading a book about an island close to my heart was a bonus. The story was witty and full of fun facts about the island and its history. I'm hoping for a sequel!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Love is in the air!

Punta Sur, Isla Mujeres
It’s a perfect place for romance – Isla Mujeres.

Sunshine, white sand beaches, palm trees and dozens of locations where you can tie the knot, get hitched, walk down the aisle, go to the chapel, drop the anchor, or get spliced (two ropes woven into one). You could also celebrate your mutual weirdness, or blend your families.

Marry me?
First there are numerous options for the proposal, ranging in price from expensive with the fine champagne, an enormous diamond and dinner at a classy restaurant. Or a spur of the moment sign on the beach using pieces of coral and shells, asking his lady love to marry him. She said, yes! 

The Bachelorette!
Then there are the bachelorette parties frequently featuring the bride, maid-of-honour and bridesmaids wearing matching t-shirts. Hilariously happy, the women ricochet around the island flitting in and out of bars, nightclubs and restaurants, creating their own party wherever they go. Typically the bachelorette bashes are the advance party, celebrating the last few days of singledom for the bride. Occasionally the women celebrate for a week in paradise before returning to their northern homes for a large formal wedding.

Mariana & Chris, beach wedding
Guests arriving for destination weddings are recognizable by the amount of luggage and the fancy clothes draped on over-burdened arms. They disembark the passenger ferries in chatty gaggles of parents, in-laws, assorted relatives and close friends. The groups disembark the passenger boats heading to the host hotel, or perhaps an assortment of private homes rented for the occasion. Once the throng has settled into their accommodations they start the social whirl of gatherings, getting to know one another before the big day. By the time the event takes place everyone is relaxed and sociable, having finally settled into the slower pace of island-time.

Zama's Beach Club decorated for Carly & Simon's day
For venue choices there is everything from the large all-inclusive beach resorts, beach clubs, beach restaurants, or simply on the beach. You can arrange for your guests to arrive by boat, taxi, golf cart or whatever transportation method you can dream up. A few times we have seen a colonial-style, horse-drawn carriage transport the bride and groom from the church to the reception. 
 
Bodas Colectivas 2012
And for the economy-minded the municipality of Isla Mujeres traditionally sponsors Bodas Colectivas, collective weddings, group weddings around St. Valentine’s Day for residents who wish to be married in a civil ceremony.  A decorated bus drives the prospective brides and grooms to the chosen location, and everyone recites their vows together. It’s an affordable and festive event reserved for Mexican citizens.

Goddess IxChel at Punta Sur
And for the younger just-marrieds, a stop at Punta Sur a small gift for the Goddess IxChel is rumored to quickly produce off-spring. A couple of years ago, a thirty-something American woman told us her four children forbade her to even look at IxChel. Every time the woman visited the goddess, she became pregnant. The kids said, “Enough already!”

Golf cart decorated for wedding
We have attended an assortment of island weddings, everything from a handful of people to hundreds of guests joyfully celebrating the happiness of the new couple.  Isla Mujeres, is a romantic destination for the proposal, the wedding and of course the annual celebration of your unforgettable experience in paradise.


http://sunhorseweddings.com/
http://www.mexicoweddings.com.mx/


Cheers
Lynda & Lawrie


    JOIN THE HUNT FOR PIRATE GOLD!






By Isla Breeze on January 5, 2017

What a fun story about Isla Mujeres, Mexico, the island most people who have visited...love!
The story is intriguing, bringing bits of history into the fiction. The story also highlights many of the well-known individuals that live on Isla...if you know them...it makes you feel as if you are a part of the story. The intrigue and the hint of a love tryst lets the reader know that there will be more in the future.
Sparky enters the picture and the dog's adoption reminds us that there are animals on Isla Mujeres available to adopt. Sparky becomes the wonder dog who learns so quickly. This is a fun and fast read for anyone, whether you are familiar with the island or not. It is hard to put down.


$2.99 USD on Amazon e-books

Free downloadable app to read on any electronic device. 

Friday, February 3, 2017

Fleeting images


The bright, the beautiful, the colourful images that come and go are worthy of remembering.

I call this photo  - The Reading Room 
Over the years there have been several ‘authorized’ campaigns to paint murals on private and public buildings on Isla Mujeres. Many of those frescos have survived the salty humid weather, the over-painting of graffiti artists, or removal for new construction projects.  This week’s blog is a remembrance of some of the interesting ones that didn’t survive.

One of the malecon bollards when they were painted as flags
When we first arrived there was a collection of ocean-themed murals painted on the malécon, running along the eastern side of the island. There were turtles, and fish, and other ocean creatures. As those paintings peeled or faded, the next municipal administration repainted everything in a flag motif.  Flags from the countries of the visitors to Mexico. Canadian, American, many European countries, Israel, and all of the Latin American countries adorned the seawall bollards.

2012 Spear Art - La Perla Hotel
In February of 2012 a twenty-something Belgium backpacker, Corentin Binard known as Spear, decided to add his unique brand of graffiti to the island. Situated on the eastside of Isla the three-story tall La Perla Hotel was partially damaged during hurricane Gilberto, and finished off by hurricane Wilma in 2005.  It languished as a crash-pad for vagrants, an unsightly place littered with garbage and beer bottles.
 
More portraits by Spear Art
Arriving on Isla, Spear discovered the crumbling structure and decided he would leave his mark there.  For three wild days working in a frenzy of creativity he sprayed, splashed, dabbed, and painted. He crafted five large, animated portraits of friends on the south walls of the damaged hotel rooms, and two more the north end of the structure. About a month after his marathon of painting the damaged La Perla was knocked down and reduced to a pile of rubble. There are plans for a new hotel on the same location.

Inside roofless building 
Sometime in early 2014 an image appeared inside an abandoned, roofless building located at northern end of the seldom-used municipal airport, near the entrance for the malécon and the Aguakan pumping station. The image stares with a question in her eyes. Perhaps she is asking: why are you here inside this dank, derelict space? Still visible, the image is a faint ghost of the original.

2014 was on the wall at Gabriela Mistral Primary 
Then in the summer of 2014 a large group of artists arrived to embellish fourteen buildings in centro. Almost three years later the majority are still visible, a little paler, but attractive all the same. Two of the originals are gone. The long and colourful ocean creature that swam along the perimeter wall of the Gabriela Mistral Primary School in centro, was the victim of expansion.  The black and white whale-shark swimming with a woman on the Tourism office on Medina Avenue a victim of the hot afternoon sun and tropical storms. Flaking and faded, it was replaced this year with a conglomeration of brightly-coloured mythical figures.

One of our favourites - gone!
In early 2015 a collection of birds, iguanas, hermit crabs, whale sharks, turtles, fish, sharks, and jelly fish flowed along three sides of the retaining wall where the seniors play volleyball. During a tropical rain storm late in October of that year, the wall crumbled destroying the striking artwork. The replacement wall is a plain, vanilla-white structure. We miss the eye-catching images of our local wildlife.

Barbara Siebenlist painting - now at Villa la Bella

Another one of our favourite depictions of ocean-going creatures was painted by artist Barbara Siebenlist on a wooden fence at Antonio Fabre’s studio. Curtis and Ashley Blogin, the owners of the Villa la Bella Bed & Breakfast, fell in love with the artwork and quickly negotiated to purchase the piece for their lobby. Safely sheltered from the rain and sun, it’s a beautiful addition to a handsome facility.

Golf cart rental - mural on fencing
There are other images tucked away behind private walls, or inside hotel courtyards waiting to be discovered. Many businesses located in centro are starting to capitalize on the interest of visitors in the various murals, commissioning paintings for their lobbies, rooftops, fences and buildings. It's an interesting and profitable spin-off of outdoor art.

Now, if someone would start an island-wide mosaic project ….that would be cool, more permanent and just as colourful.

Hasta Luego

Lynda & Lawrie




Get your copy today!
Fun adventure novel set on Isla Mujeres





$2.99 on Amazon E-books
free downloadable app for any electronic device




By Isla Breeze on January 5, 2017
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

What a fun story about Isla Mujeres, Mexico, the island most people who have visited...love!
The story is intriguing, bringing bits of history into the fiction. The story also highlights many of the well-known individuals that live on Isla...If you know them...it makes you feel as if you are a part of the story. The intrigue and the hint of a love tryst lets the reader know that there will be more in the future.  Sparky enters the picture and the dog's adoption reminds us that there are animals on Isla Mujeres available to adopt. Sparky becomes the wonder dog who learns so quickly.



This is a fun and fast read for anyone, whether you are familiar with the island or not. It is hard to put down.

Friday, January 27, 2017

It’s a very fishy island

Fishing at Arrowsmith Banks, 23 miles out -     
Isla Mujeres, just a few minutes away by passenger ferry from the tourist-mecca of Cancun, was settled generations ago by the Maya fishermen and their families. The fishing culture is still very prevalent on the island.

Winter residents - fishing off the dock

There’s fish to catch: You can go fishing with friends, or charter a boat from an islander, or sit on a dock, or stand on the shoreline to catch your finny dinner.

These two guys found a good spot to enjoy the day

Charter boats big and shiny, or small and humble, are docked at the wharves - their knowledgeable captains waiting to take folks out on the ocean for a day charter, or as a participant in an organized fishing tournament.  Unless you are prone to seasickness it’s a great way to get some sun, have a bit of fun, and exercise your muscles while hauling in the tasty treats.

Islander diving for dinner

Some of our island friends free-dive to depths of eighty or more feet to spear a meal. The level of physical fitness required for this activity is astounding. We are the sit-on-a-boat kind of fishing people, and then only rarely. 

School of fish

Fish to swim with: Tug on a pair of fins and add a mask and snorkel, or pull on the full diving gear ensemble and you can cavort with your finny friends along the world’s second-longest barrier reef. With sixty-five species of stony coral, three hundred and fifty varieties of mollusks, and five hundred types of fish the reef is a bio-diverse universe.

Depending on which section of the reef you explore you might find inhabitants such as moray eels, scorpion fish, crabs, lobsters, shrimps groupers, grunts, oceanic triggerfish, angelfish and the multi-coloured parrotfish as well as other creatures such as delicate seahorses.

Invasive Lionfish in tank at turtle farm

The red lionfish, originating in the Indo-Pacific region, has in recent years made an appearance in the Caribbean Sea, devouring many of the reef-cleaning species that maintain the health of the coral. There are annual cooking competitions along the Riviera Maya, featuring lionfish cuisine to reduce the invasive population. 

Although not fish, the reef is host to playful dolphins, giant sea turtles, peaceful manatees, majestic rays and in the summer months the gentle whale sharks.

Local fishermen repairing nets 

And fish to fry. The beaches on the western side of the island are strewn with small boats capable of holding five or six men and a pile of nets. These tough little boats and their hardy owners supply the island residents and tourists with tasty fresh fish whenever possible. When the weather prevents the boats from leaving the harbour the fishermen spend the time cleaning nets or maintaining their boats, or just shooting the breeze with fellow fishermen at their co-ops, cooperativas, located along the western shore of the island. While calloused hands deftly weave the bobbin of nylon yarn, mending rips and holes there is laughter and raunchy jokes. Beers are consumed, insults yelled to friends.

Waiting to go out

Fish can be purchased directly from the cooperativas, to prepare in your condo or apartment. The prices varying according to your island status; born on the island local, new resident, or visitor. The ability to speak Spanish also has some bearing on the prices. However, the fish is definitely fresh when purchased direct from the fishermen.

Yum! At Veradero Cuban Restaurante

Between catching and eating, or photographing and playing with there are lots of fishy activities in and around Isla Mujeres that can entertain and occupy any person no matter what their fitness level.

Come and enjoy a bit of paradise,
Cheers

Lynda & Lawrie


Don't miss this! 
Get your copy today and join the adventure!






By Amazon Customer on December 11, 2016
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

Lynda Lock invites the reader to join the exciting adventures of Yasmin and Jessica as they search for buried treasure on Mexico's beautiful Isla Mujeres. Those of us lucky enough to have already experienced this magical destination will enjoy reading about some of their favorite places. I enjoyed the book's fast pace and I actually learned a thing or two about the Mexican culture that I so dearly love. On my next trip to Isla Mujeres, I plan a treasure hunt of my own - finding that frozen ginger Margarita! 

$2.99 USD on Amazon e-books
Free downloadable app to read on any electronic device. 

Friday, January 20, 2017

Money, drugs and power - or lack of power

It is the fission of fear, the feeling of being a part of something dangerous, but not actually in danger that stokes the internet wildfires. The desire to be a part of the news as it happens: I was there. But I’m safe. I was close but nothing happened. I have a friend who was there and he said …..

TV Isla Mujeres photo, Cancun January 17th
When the recent shootings happened in Cancun the internet blazed with news, comments and speculation. The official reports maintain that the attack was a response to the new governor's anti-crime initiatives. The police headquarters were stormed by cartel soldiers who were unhappy with the authorities. One police officer and three bad guys were killed, and another five were captured. The police and gang members took the fight into a high-speed movie-style chase through the streets of centro, scaring city residents and the customers at Plaza las Americas’ shopping center into thinking they were under attack.

Local kids enjoying peaceful time on Isla
It’s a heartbreaking news story that will affect many of our island neighbours who are trying to eke out a living, to live a happy life, to watch their children grow and have families of their own. This area relies heavily on tourism. Millions of visitors from many countries in the world as well as from other parts of Mexico visit the Cancun-Riviera Maya every year. The stories of fear and danger will dramatically slow or stop altogether the flow of tourists to this area.

Lawrie & Lynda 1991, Switzerland with group of Brits & Europeans
We have vivid memories of 1991, the year of the first Gulf War. Americans were advised by their State Department not to travel to Europe, it was too dangerous. We, as Canadians, were not affected by the travel ban. For six months we explored Scotland, Northern Ireland, Erie, Wales, England, France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Andorra, and Portugal with our pick of accommodations, even the ones that were typically booked two years in advance. In the six months of traveling we met dozens of Canadians, hundreds of Europeans and eight Americans. 

2001, empty Intercontinental Hotel in Bali
In 2001 a few months after the bombing of a night club in Bali, we spent a delightful two weeks in a charmingly generous and gentle culture – when hotels were nearly empty, and restaurants closing due to lack of tourists. Every Balinese national that we met said, “Thank you for coming to Bali.” Their small country was nearly destitute from the drop in tourism.

This isn’t a Mexico problem, it is a world-wide problem. Whether it is some crazy person shooting up a school, or bombing a cultural ikon, or gangs involved in turf wars – it isn’t going to go away. Please don’t let this stupidity control your life.




And other happenings in paradise.

On Sunday night the underwater electrical feed, a cable that runs between the mainland and Isla Mujeres was damaged by a yacht anchoring near Playa Norte, leaving the entire island without power for fourteen hours as the electrical company scrambled to make repairs. Then again on Monday night right around supper time – the power was cut to make additional repairs.  Okay, bad timing for the intentional power outage but when the crews are working non-stop they do what they have to do to fix the problem.

Traffic jam on the water - Sunday Funday at North Beach 
We started to think about the funny and slightly annoying things that happen during a power outage. Money that can’t be dispensed by ATM’s. Gasoline that can’t be pumped into motos and vehicles for a community that habitually purchases small amounts of gas daily. Or the lack of cold beer.

Providing lights for dinners - Ruth Lacey photo
One very inventive owner of a local taco eatery brought an operating moto (motorcycle) inside the restaurant, using the headlight as illumination for his customers. It was a two-walled restaurant with lots of open space for air circulation - probably not the healthiest solution but certainly inventive.

And then there were the teenagers, deprived of the internet or phone texting, who were forced to communicate verbally with family and friends. OMG fourteen hours without updating their Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat accounts, it’s a teenager’s nightmare.

Wind-proof lanterns came in handy during power outage
During the power cuts we realized we were actually well organized. We had propane for cooking. Fifteen wind-proof candle-lanterns normally used for romantic evenings on our patio, plus a dozen spare candles. Six flashlights stashed in various locations around the house, and extra batteries. Bottled water. Food in the cupboard for us and Sparky our short-legged mutt.  A hand-operated can opener. Wine to drink and books to read.  

Avid readers we stopped purchasing paper books ten years ago due to the lack of new material available when living in a foreign country.  E-readers are amazingly handy to have, as long as we remember to keep them charged and at least one or two un-read books downloaded and ready to go. Otherwise, they are just another useless electronic device when the power and the internet are out.
Beginning of another warm and sunny day
We certainly weren’t going to freeze to death in temperatures hovering around the mid-seventies F, or mid-twenties C.  Life was good. We were all set for the current situation.

~

And one final thought regarding the recent incident in Cancun - an interesting quote from an experienced authority.

"Chicago has had close to a 1,000 shootings in the last year," said Walter McKay, a former Vancouver police detective who is an expert on security issues in Mexico. "I still don't see a travel advisory on any websites for Chicago."

"The drug cartels are business entities," McKay said. "They're there to make money. And if they start shooting up and doing this all the time and all the tourists flee, well, what's the point of having the Playa del Carmen area under your control?"   Quote taken from Article by Nicole Ireland


Hasta Luego


Lynda & Lawrie Lock





By Amazon Customer on December 11, 2016
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase


Lynda Lock invites the reader to join the exciting adventures of Yasmin and Jessica as they search for buried treasure on Mexico's beautiful Isla Mujeres. Those of us lucky enough to have already experienced this magical destination will enjoy reading about some of their favorite places. I enjoyed the book's fast pace and I actually learned a thing or two about the Mexican culture that I so dearly love. On my next trip to Isla Mujeres, I plan a treasure hunt of my own - finding that frozen ginger Margarita! 

$2.99 USD on Amazon e-books
Free downloadable app to read on any electronic device.