Friday, June 28, 2013

Feeling good all around (Lawrie’s turn to write)

Captain Lock freezing his *** off in northern BC
Last week I had the experience of a lifetime.  I was privileged to participate in the 4th Annual Reeling for Ronnie Fishing Tournament.

Yeah, I know – fishing, no big deal – but this was different.  I was with a great bunch of guys in northern British Columbia at the top of the Haida Gwaii (former Queen Charlotte Islands) within view of the Alaska panhandle.  

Charter plane then a helicopter ride to the fishing camp
Getting there was no mean feat, involving a charter plane from Vancouver to Masset BC, and then a helicopter ride to the camp.

The West Coast Fishing Club is a floating fish camp that could put any five-star resort to shame with amazing service, and gourmet meals.  For three days we fished for salmon and halibut in a pristine wilderness surrounded by humpback whales, sea lions and bald eagles.

Lots of Humpback Whales playing around the boat
The fishing camp operates on a catch and release program using simple fish hooks, no barbs allowed.  It makes for exciting times as salmon are fighters and frequently a big one will shake the hook loose just as it arrives at the boat!  But usually the guides quickly net the fish, lift them slightly out of the water for weighing, snap a souvenir photo and then release the fish back to the freedom of the ocean.    

Lawrie - Salmon was shipped to his son in Vancouver
For anyone who wishes to keep their catch, the strict limit is two salmon and one halibut per day.  The accepted practice is that all large fish are immediately returned to the ocean, as soon as they have been weighed.  One of the newest guides, fishing during his free time, caught an eighty-pound salmon that had to be released.  The guides are not allowed to keep anything they catch, plus the fish was so big it was considered too important to remove from the gene-pool.  The West Coast Fishing Camp takes a very responsible view of sustainability.  Every year since they opened they have returned more hatchlings to the area than fish that have been caught.  

Richard Lock very good friend of Ron Brown
But here’s the best part about the experience!  This fishing tournament is in honour of Ron Brown a former Isla Mujeres resident.  He and his wife Gwen contributed to a number of charities on the island.  Still in his prime, Ron passed away in 2009.  The event was created in celebration of Ron’s life. 

The Reeling for Ronnie Fishing Tournament raises funds to pay for tuition and expenses for a select number of female students on Isla Mujeres who wish to attend university or college.  Ron’s memory is also preserved in the minds of these young ladies.  It just doesn’t get any better.

The only downside to participating in the event is I live in the tropics twelve months a year.  My blood has thinned out – or whatever.  Cold!  Wow, I don’t think I have ever been this cold.  The average daytime temperature was around 12C, (53F) dropping down further at night.  I’m just not used to that anymore.

The biggest fish for the day ..... 
Everyone was supplied a survival suits by the fishing camp operators.  We had to wear them when we were out in the boats, because the ocean temperature is so chilly the risk of hyperthermia was pretty high if we had experienced an unscheduled dunking.  I had three layers of clothes on under my survival suit and my teeth were clacking together.  I guess this means I won’t be moving back to Canada anytime soon. 

Oh well, I will just have to tough it out in Paradise! 

Thanks again guys, for the great time during the Reeling for Ronnie Fishing Tournament.

Nice warm sunrise on Isla Mujeres June 2013 

Hasta Luego          

Lynda and Lawrie

Friday, June 21, 2013

Horses sweat, men perspire, ladies glow

Offshore fishing near Isla Mujeres and glowing!
“I’m soaked with sweat!”  

My dad peered over the top of his reading glasses, leveling his gaze at his naïve teenage daughter: “No,” he admonished, “Horses sweat.  Men perspire.  Ladies glow.”

I guess I was born a horse.  

I am about 99.5% certain that my very proper, very stern and very formidable grandmother, Nellie Blanche Lyons Gobert, taught my father that expression.  She passed away when I was about seven, but I still remember her upright bearing, and impeccable manners.  She was a school principal, one of the first female school principals in Canada.  One did not mess with our grandmother!

Nellie Blanche Lyons Gobert about 1915
Me, well, I glow, like an out-of-control nuclear reactor.  

Starting about now, June, I usually change my clothing two to three times per day.  From the skin out – everything!  

Normally both Lawrie and I putter around the house, fixing this, polishing that, applying a coat of paint to a scuffed wall.  Doing little tasks.  Tinkering.  

He manages to maintain his cool, barely breaking a sweat.  Pardon me, I meant to say - barely perspiring.  I, on the other hand, have a nice bright pink face, and a good healthy pore-cleansing glow going on. 

Working on our Summerland house entrance 2006
In Canada if we were doing a major project like tiling the bathroom, or renovating the front entrance I could work up a really good glow.  Living in the tropics it occurs more frequently.  

Today I fiddled around with painting one short wall on our upper street-side deck.  By the time I had finished I was soaked through.   

Angel, one of three young guys replacing the netting over our palapas, looked at me with a silly who-me grin on his face, innocently asking: “Tienes mucho calor amiga?”

Si!  You bet your sweet bippy!  Mucho calor!

The cool dude!  It's May and he's comfy in a thick shirt.
The upside is that mosquitoes can easily locate me.  I have a heat-signature that is like a flashing red neon sign.  Free!  All-you-can-eat-buffet.  They bypass Lawrie preferring to swarm my overheated follicles.  If mosquitoes had lips, they would smack them together in anticipation of a feast.  I am certain the local mosquito population is very appreciative of my contribution to their well-being.

Summerland BC - entrance all done!
And to ensure the lovely little mosquitoes don’t over-indulge on my DNA, I spray every bit of my exposed skin with Off Family repelente de insectos.  In Canada, Lawrie pampered me with nice expensive perfumes.  They were always a much appreciated birthday or Christmas gift.  Somehow insect repellant doesn’t have quite the same cache, and isn’t nearly as romantic when received as a gift. 

On some level I think my grandmother would have been proud of me, remembering that ladies glow, apparently we don’t sweat.  But one thing puzzles me.  How did she manage to remain lady-like raising three active children in the early part of the 1900’s when women wore long, hot, cumbersome dresses every day, all day?

Just thinking about that, makes me glow.  I think I’ll go and have another refreshing swim in our pool. 

One small wall - and I'm glowing!

Hasta Luego          

Lynda and Lawrie

Friday, June 14, 2013

Some things never change

Longer days - beautiful weather
Huh!  I’ll be darned!

Scrolling through 20,472 photographs of Isla Mujeres that we have taken in the last few years, I realized that there definitely is a repeat pattern to life here on the island. 

June is prime time for the boisterous political parades.  The campaign for Governor of the State of Quintana Roo was in June 2009.  The campaigning for Presidente of Isla Mujeres occurred in June 2010, and it is happening right now in June 2013.  Typically the state and federal elections are every six years, while local elections are every three years.  The mandate for our local Presidente, Hugo Sanchez, was a bit shorter as the election officials wanted to synchronize the dates, statewide.

2009 State elections

The political parades are entertaining so we don’t mind the noise of the various campaign slogans and accompanying music.  PRI party seems to like rap music similar to Pit Bull, and the PAN soundtrack sounds like One Night in Bangkok, or maybe it’s Putting on the Ritz – one of those.   I find myself humming along as the boom-box golf carts pass by our house, again and again and again.

June is also the time for torrential rain storms interspersed with silky smooth seas and brilliantly sunny days.  In June 2011 Tropical Storm Arlene paid us a visit flooding many parts of the island.  

This year a storm sat overtop of Isla for about a week, before grudgingly moving on to Florida, where it became Tropical Storm Andrea - the first named storm of 2013.  Andrea set records for the amount of rainfall in various parts of the USA, and probably here on Isla.  I have seen reports of up to two feet of rain for the week.  That’s a lot of water!  

2011 TS Arlene flooded streets in centro
So much water that two separate sightings of crocodiles swimming on roadways were reported; one in the hotel zone in Cancun, and one in the area by the Hacienda Mundaca Park on Isla.  

Strange areas such as Captain Tony’s front yard at the higher southern end of the island were turned into lakes.  He and his dog went kayaking - on the front lawn.  

We were wet and cranky, experiencing a bit of cabin fever as we huddled in our house, staring out the rain-drenched windows as sheets of rain obliterated our ocean view. 
Lawrie - clearing street drain near our house
And predictably every year the heavy rains cause migraine-sized headaches for store and restaurant owners in the busy centro area of Isla.  Even though we are an island made primarily of sand and coral, the water doesn’t dissipate rapidly enough.  The various pumps just can’t handle the flow.  This time there was also a problem in the electrical panel for the pumps causing a further delay in reducing the water build up.  Many drainage trenches were clogged with sand and trash.  

In the summer months we frequently check the two large drains a few hundred feet south of our house.  We have on occasion been out there in the pouring rain, rakes in hand, clearing the debris, reducing the accumulating water to a few inches instead of a few feet.  I wonder do we qualify as city workers?  Maybe we will get an invitation to the annual Christmas party?

Swimming with Whale Sharks June 2009
On the upside of June, it is one of our favourite months because the ocean is teeming with sea life.  It is turtle mating season, and the beginning of their nesting season.  June is also in my opinion the best month for enjoying a swim with the Whale Sharks, those graceful forty-foot long submarines that are in truth neither whale nor shark, but the world’s largest fish.  Fewer tourists equal a better experience when swimming with these gorgeous creatures.   In June most Canadians, Americans, and Europeans are enjoying fine weather in their own home-towns.  Later in the summer, when crowded cities heat up, we will see another up-tick in tourism, particularly from European countries.

Turtle tracks in front of neighbour

June is also the beginning of the migration season for various species of ray including the Golden Rays and Manta Rays.  We were fortunate a few years ago to watch as a large group of rays passed our house on the east side of the island.  The females leapt high into the air, contracting muscles, and expelling a cylinder-shaped live baby ray.  The babies’ wings unfurled as they entered the water, and away they sped following the family group.  Pretty darn cool to see!

It’s comforting to know that some things never change.  Next year we’ll be doing most of the same things again; viewing the turtles’ mating season, swimming with Whale Sharks, watching for the migration of rays, and enjoying life with our friends and family. 

Ah, June - beautiful peaceful June.

Hasta Luego          
Lynda and Lawrie

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Blog Stats - 111 countries as of August 1st 2013

Top Four: USA, Mexico, Canada and Russia

Caribbean Netherlands
Czech Republic
Costa Rica
Czech Republic
Dominican Republic
El Salvador
Netherlands Antilles
New Zealand
Northern Mariana Islands
Puerto Rico
Saudi Arabia
Sierra Leone
South Africa
South Korea
Sri Lanka
Trinidad & Tobago
Turks & Caicos Islands
United Arab Emirates
UK (Including Scotland, N. Ireland, Wales and England)
United States of America

Friday, June 7, 2013

Turtle Love: Chuka-Chuka!

Heading out to watch the turtles at Punta Sur
Wine? Check.  Beer? Check.  Cooler? Check.  Wine glasses? Leanne is bringing. Check.  

Pick up Bob and Leanne at 6:00 in the evening. Check!   

An hour before sundown we headed to south point to catch the nature show - turtles making sweet love in the surf.  

We puttered along in the golf cart to the park at the end of the island, and strolled towards the Mayan ruins at the southern tip.  

Dozens of pairs of turtles in the surf.
From a higher vantage point we could see dozens of turtles paired off in the pounding surf, blissfully unaware of being spied upon.  (Is this where the idea for waterbeds came from?) 

Walking further down the staircase and along the cliffside pathway to sea level the individual pairs were more visible to us, but still a long way out in the surf. 

The mating season starts in early May with the arrival of mature turtles, ranging from fifteen-years to eighty-years old, at the south end of Isla Mujeres.   Turtle love, chuka-chuka in Mayan, appears to be a pretty cumbersome business – with the smaller male piggybacking on the larger female.  

Pounding waves not a problem for the turtles
For several weeks the female turtles alternate between mating in the water, and laying the eggs on land.  They can create as many as eight nests per season, cumbersomely digging a deep hole in the sand using just their hind flippers.  Their nests hold on average one hundred eggs, but can have as many as two hundred eggs.  The mating-nesting cycle repeats every two or four years depending on the species of turtle.

Three turtles at Punta Sur
The employees from the Turtle Farm have already been patrolling the sandy beaches late at night, retrieving 1000 eggs so far to be hatched in a safe environment, away from predators both human, and animal.  

Later in the summer the baby turtles will be released at sundown to prevent the predatory birds from scooping up the tasty treats.  

The babies will start the cycle all over again, returning to the same beach in about fifteen years to mate and lay eggs.

Enjoying the evening show

On the evening we were turtle watching a group of six local guys were enjoying an afternoon break, enjoying the show.  

They were sipping on cans of Coca Cola, while we enjoyed glasses of wine or bottles of cold beer.  

A well-equipped tour bus.
When we left south point, the four of us drove to Victor’s Casa Havana, on the east side of the island, situated on the seawall.  Great food!  

The only downside was we left Leanne’s cooler and wine glasses in the back of the golf cart.  

Yep, someone else is now the proud owner of her pretty blue goblets.  

Ah well, it was a fun evening all the same.

Interesting You-Tube video: turtles mating at the Punta Sur on Isla Mujeres, May 2012 – by Matt Swinden

Hasta Luego          

Lynda and Lawrie