Friday, March 28, 2014

Notes From Hell: Casa de la Enfermedad

Asst. Doug Regn, Dr. Lynn Beckmann, and woozy Lynda
For six years we have extolled the peace and the pleasure of living on Isla Mujeres, but these last two weeks have been a living hell. 

It all started with me taking our new adoptee, Sparky, to the free spay and neuter clinic a couple of weeks ago.  At one point in our lives both Lawrie and I were ambulance EMT's so I was interested in the procedure and decided to watch while Sparky was neutered. 

As it turned out he needed more than just a simple neutering as one of his testicles was still inside, and to save future complications it needed to be removed with a more intricate procedure.  I volunteered to hold a light to give Dr. Lynn Beckmann a better view of his insides.  I discovered I didn't have the fortitude to watch while my little buddy's intestines were probed and prodded, and then stitched up.  I had to take several small "sit down or fall down" breaks.  Dr. Beckmann was quite concerned that at any minute I was going to be her next patient.

Sparky - not feeling very well
Later in the day I took our recovering dog home and got him settled for the night.  Around eleven in the evening my heart flipped into erratic beats (atrial fibrillation) probably brought on by stress and perspiring in the hot weather.  Oh joy!  Early in the morning we pressed various family members and neighbours into animal babysitting duties, and headed into Cancun to get me sorted out.   After several hours at the Galenia Hospital, with an infusion of intravenous electrolytes plus magnesium my heartbeat reverted back to normal.  When I recounted my experience of watching Sparky be neutered, the cardiologist reacted in mock horror, placing his hands protectively over his genial area as he exclaimed: "Oh no, you should never watch a family member have that operation!"  

Sparky - swimming too soon after his operation
At this point I thought we were done with the drama.  Not true.  One should never, ever tempt the gods with that type of thinking.  Sparky developed a horrific case of diarrhea.  Oh double joy!  Between visits to the vet with "samples" and other assorted yucky stuff it was determined that he had an infection probably because I let him swim in the ocean too soon after his surgery.  Now he's on antibiotics for the next ten days, and steadily improving.

Chica - not doing very well
Good.  Now we can get back to normal.  Nope!  Chica, our six-year old cat started exhibiting signs of extreme mental confusion.  We suspected she might have a brain tumor and carted her off to the vet for blood tests.  The results indicate she has a liver problem that we think we have caught in time.  She is not eating or drinking much water so the treatment necessitates frequent intravenous re-hydration.   I have her isolated in the guestroom to try and give her a bit of rest from our other two pets.  Last night when the vet came to administer her next treatment she panicked and broke out through the bedroom screen door, leaping off the deck, ten feet down to the concrete patio.   Traitor that I am, I caught her and brought her back upstairs for her medications.  This morning she is limping, apparently her frantic leap to freedom has torn a muscle in her left front leg.  

Dr. Antonio Salas making a house call 
And it continues; Lawrie, who up until now has been healthy, woke up with symptoms of the flu, or food-poisoning, which given my lack of culinary talent could be the real culprit.  

He's feeling miserable, and former ambulance EMT's make terribly impatient patients!  The good thing is Dr. Salas makes house calls, and he stopped by to fix Lawrie up.

Finally, Tommy, my fifteen-year-old cat decided that since everyone else is getting extra attention he should express his displeasure for being ignored.  He vomited his breakfast - all over my toes.  

When will all this drama end?  And you all thought that we were having a nice two week rest from writing this blog, when in reality it has been a living hell. 

The Adventures of Thomas the Cat - bilingual
The one bright spot in the whole two weeks was the arrival of the printing sample of the children's book, The Adventures of Thomas the Cat, that Diego Medina and I have been working on since May of 2013.  As Diego said on FaceBook: "Ajustes menores por aquí, ajustes menores por allá... La muestra del libro ha llegado a nuestras manos, pronto estará disponible para su adquisición."   A little adjustment here, a little adjustment there ...The sample of the book is in our hands, will soon be available for purchase.   

Looking forward to a new and better week.  We want our calm, pleasant paradise back! 

Hasta Luego
Lynda & Lawrie

Friday, March 14, 2014

Taking a holiday for two weeks!

Hola everyone!

I searched my brain for creative ideas for this week's blog - but all that came out was a sizzle and a pop ..... and then a slow fizzle.  Nothing!

It's time to take a short sabbatical to re-charge the brain cells.

We'll be back on Friday March 28th.
Lynda & Lawrie

Friday, March 7, 2014

Colour and Confusion - Carnaval 2014

Every year it's the same.  Every year it's different.  Carnaval; it's a chaos of colourful costumes, confusion, and crazy-loud music.  Thumpa! Thumpa! Thumpa!  For the five days leading up to the forty days of Lent, the island reverberates with fun.

The schedule of events normally begins with the Coronation Dance on the Friday night.  It includes the crowning of kings and queens from various age segments, and finally the crowning of the official carnival king and queen.  In previous years there have been two parades on consecutive days both starting at three in the afternoon, give or take an hour or two.  For the Programa 2011 the parades were on Saturday and Sunday as they were in most other years. However, this year 2014, the two parades were moved to Sunday and Monday.  

Assuming the parade, as usual, would be late starting we arrived downtown at four in the afternoon on Sunday.  I was told by one of the carnival dancers that the parade was over, finished, done.  It had apparently started on time. "Really?" we shrugged, "oh well, let's go meet up with our friends at Jax Bar & Grill." 

Just as the waiter placed our cold beverages in front of us, the official Carnaval king and queen and their dance troupe came by!  Obviously the parade wasn't over.  It was just starting.  Recklessly scrambling down the asymmetrical stairs at the restaurant, I inserted myself into the crowds, hoping for a few good photographs.  

For the next hour several groups danced past, flashing feathers and flounces, gyrating north along Medina Avenue from the naval base towards the Auxles Hotel.  Again, another change.  Normally the groups congregate at the north end and head south towards the naval base.

Perhaps the Carnaval organizers wanted to shake things up a bit just to see if anyone would notice.

Slipping in and out of the crowd as I snapped photos I recognized a number of the participants.  One very hard working woman, possibly the owner of a local dance studio, annually leads her large troupe of dancers ranging in age from five to adults.  She cajoles, encourages, and entreats the dancers to stay in line, keep moving, stay focused, and most importantly - smile.  I am in awe of her patience and talent.  

The costumes for this group were outstanding as always; confections of fur, feathers, pink and blue gauzy fabrics, sequins and face paint.  Her theme this year was jungle cats, big cats, cute and snarly cats. 

Standing on the street and looking back up to the upper deck at Jax Bar & Grill, I noticed one of the patrons tossing multiple strings of Mardi Gras-type beads to the groups below.  

A look of delight brightened the face of the Carnaval queen as she caught one of the flying strands, happily displaying her colourful trophy to the group.  

The man tossing the beads lives part-time on Isla Mujeres, but his primarily residence is in New Orleans.  He wanted to inject a bit of Mardi Gras fun into the event, promising to bring more sparkling beads for next year's parade. 

Look what I caught!
Amongst the other dance troupes this year were several friends: Yadira Velázquez Medina, Jeannie Poot Hau, Bonnie Hamilton and Alexis Graboskie. 

They have had a very strenuous schedule in the months leading up to carnival with dance practice most nights of the week, and then four days of dancing in parades, on street corners and at the official events. 

One troupe of dancers did a special appearance at Richard and Linda Grierson's Casa Luna Turquesa.  
After a few technical difficulties (someone had misplaced the USB  that held their dance music) their enthusiastic presentation got underway.  

In front of Casa Luna Turquesa on Aeropuerto Rd.
The ladies did a spectacular job in the hot afternoon sun.  It was a bit of impromptu fun for the neighbourhood. 

After a refreshing cold drink or two they proceeded on to the next location, Brook Prinsen and Paul Ricker's house, Cas-a-Beer, for more dancing.  These extras dances are how the participants earn money to pay for their elaborate costumes.  The hat, or bucket, or box is passed around through the crowd.  Dig deep folks, and help them out!  Carnaval just wouldn't be carnaval without the various dance troupes.

I am not having fun.
Later in the day when I downloaded my photographs to my computer one in particular made me laugh aloud. One young lad, who was at the head of the largest dance troupe had an expression that said: "I am not having fun.  And you can't make me!" 

I realized his cat costume and annoyed expression perfectly matched my fifteen-year-old cat's expression when he is annoyed.   When the youngster is older he might find the whole parade-thing amusing, but on that day he was not pleased.

Tommy - looks like the young lad in the cat costume
But now everything is finished, the fun, the festivities, and the crazy music. Only eleven more months until the next Carnaval - February 11th to 17th in 2015.  

It's the same, and it's different. Similar events, different dates. Similar groups, different costumes, and possibly different parade dates, times and routes!    

We can't wait.  

Hasta Luego
Lynda & Lawrie

Lawrie dancin' with the ladies at Casa Luna