Friday, January 30, 2015

Get set for a week of world class singin' & fishin'

Sea Mistress - heading out for world class fishing
Holy cow! It's time for the 6th Annual Island Time Fishing Tournament and Fiesta, a week of great entertainment and fabulous fishing. 
This year the fun begins with a special concert sponsored by Casa de los Sueňos on Monday February 2nd, featuring a repeat festival favourite, Jon Stone, and his partner Kristy Osmunson. It's a dinner-auction-concert with tickets sold in advance. Limited supply - get yours now!
For the serious fishing-folks who are participating in the fishing tournament the Tuesday night boat registration and Captain's Meeting will again be held at Buho's on Playa Norte. 
After dinner performers Jon Stone and Lew Brice will be entertaining the crowd, and offering up auction items.

Margarita Madness at the Soggy Peso - Nick, Lew, and Jon
One of the biggest changes in the programming this year is the switch of locations for our favourite event, the-over-the-top-Margarita Madness traditionally held at the Soggy Peso Bar & Grill. This year it will be held on Wednesday Feb 4th at Fenix Restaurant and Lounge, located at Playa Norte. This hugely popular show gets underway at 1:00 in the afternoon, with Jon Stone, Lew Brice, and Joal Rush providing upbeat tunes, and raunchy repertoire until around 5:00 P.M.
Thursday Feb 5th the Little Yellow School House will host their traditional open house day at the school, with the students cooking up Mexican BBQ for visitors. It's a great opportunity to check out their outstanding efforts to educate local children who have physical, emotional, or learning disabilities. The funds raised at various events during the Island Time Fishing Tournament & Fiesta are donated to the Little Yellow School House. It's a win-win situation for everyone. The participants have fun and the school receives a large chunk of money to help with yearly operating expenses.
By Friday night, Feb 6th, everyone will be ready to rock! This year the El Patio Restaurant & House of Music is hosting a big concert with a number of talented musicians including Natalie Stoval, Hailey Steele, Joal Rush, plus Jon Stone and his partner Kristy Osmunson performing as American Young. The fun gets underway at 7:00 in the evening, and I have no clue how late they will rock on! We might have to investigate – just research, you understand.
Getting ready to head out
Are you tired yet? Well, you are not finished yet. There are two more events to take in before the week is finished. 
The Saturday night official wrap-up at Buho's will feature the trophy presentations, dinner, and auction and more great tunes from Jon Stone, Lew Brice, and Joal Rush. I don't know how these guys can maintain their energy to entertain every night of the week.

Lawrie at disco dance with Ashley and her boots
And ta da – the finale! The traditional Disco Dance Party held from 4:00 to 7:00 P.M. on Sunday Feb 8th, at Brisas Restaurant on the beach. It's a celebration of the end of another a great event.
In between all of the entertainment, dinners, and auctions some people actually go fishing! Go figure! 

Why would you want to spoil a completely fun week by heading out at dawn, on a big boat, rocking and rolling in the waves, then stick cold squiggly things on sharp hooks, all just to catch fishies? Dang – some people just don't know how to have a good time.

Sailfish lure

Seriously, this is a great event that benefits many islanders. 

As one of our island “gringo” friends likes to say: “Come on down!”
Hasta Luego
Lynda and Lawrie

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Friday, January 23, 2015

The Price of Dreaming

White sand beach near Hotel del Posada - original lighthouse
Most of us like to dream about a holiday away, somewhere different than our home town or city, perhaps someplace warm to break up the chill of the winter months. 
Dreaming costs money!
Until a month ago our number three spot in readership was held by Russia, just behind the USA and Mexico. Now, with the ruble in a free fall against the American dollar and other world currencies, they barely register anymore on our daily and weekly totals. I guess their vacation dreams have been dashed by the economic downturn.
Tarzan's on the Beach
On the other hand, until a few weeks ago when France was attacked by terrorists we had very few followers of this blog from that country. Suddenly, the French readership has increased dramatically. You would think that they would be hunkering down at home, instead of dreaming of vacations in the Caribbean.

Harbour with Navy boats, and car ferry
Scratching our heads over the sudden shift in readership we compared, via various internet sites, wages and cost of living in Mexico and France. The average monthly wage, after taxes, in France is around $2700.00 (USD) but everything - except of course the nationally protected French wine and bread - is much more expensive than Mexico.
Kite surfing at Playa Norte
Then, when we compared the basic cost of living in either Mexico or Russia a few surprising details stood out. First the average monthly salary for workers in both countries was very similar, hitting around $700.00 (USD). The basic foods such as vegetables, meat, eggs, and bread are similar in prices, but the Russians pay much more for rental accommodation, entertainment, restaurant meals, clothing and utilities. If that's the case there is very little money available for vacations.
The public walkway on south-east side of island
Looking at our readership numbers again caused a bit more head scratching, the Czech Republic followers have also increased substantially in the recent weeks. So, once again we compared the basic average wages and cost of living. The average worked in the Czech Republic earns around $1000.00 USD, but their expenses are slightly higher than in Mexico. It's pretty much evens out.
Sand and sun and surf - Playa Norte
Figuring out why the sudden decline in Russian readership was easy. They have less money to spend on non-essentials. But deciphering why the followers in France and the Czech Republic have dramatically increased ….. not a clue! I guess they finally discovered this part of Mexico, this little island paradise.

Beautiful gate painted tropical orange
Weekly we write about living in paradise on a tropical island, and we love it here, but it is not about a place so much as it is about an individual paradise. Whether your paradise is spending time with family, friends, your favourite critter, a great glass of wine or just relaxing, life is meant to be enjoyed.
Where ever you live, keep dreaming! Eventually your dreams will materialize. We all have our personal notes from paradise.

Hasta Luego
Lynda and Lawrie
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Friday, January 16, 2015

Wbeymar & Karina, a new enterprise

Vivid colours of sunflower yellow, tangerine, and turquoise blue entice passersby into the newly opened Caribbean Brisas Restaurant. 
Recently opened - Caribbean Brisas
Located on the eastern perimeter road about four blocks south of our house, it's a great place for good food and fun people-watching.

Wbeymar Maldonado Silva and Karina Avila Gonzalez, owners of the original Brisas Grill, located on the beach on the west side of Isla opened a second locale this week. 
The new eatery features a simpler menu, with some of the favourites from their original restaurant: fajitas, ceviche, salads, grilled fish and pasta. Wbeymar also added a Philly Cheese Steak sandwich and other snack-type foods that can be enjoyed while basking in the afternoon sun on their large patio.
Wbeymar & Karina
Born on Isla, Wbeymar and Karina were high school sweethearts. They have been married for almost nineteen years and are still happily in love. 
They have three charming children, a son and two daughters. Other family members also live on the island: Wbeymar has two brothers and four sisters, while Karina has one brother.

Evening at Caribbean Brisas - photo from the FB page
Wbeymar has been in the restaurant business for most of his working career, starting at Na Balam as a dishwasher and working his way up to captain of the waiters. 
From there he moved on to the two Rolandi locations, the restaurant on Hidalgo Avenue, and the hotel restaurant in Sac Bajo. 
His next career was at Garafon National Reef Park as the Assistant Food and Beverage Manager.
My favourite Sopa de Limon - available at both locations
Eventually he decided to get involved with owning and operating a business, partnering up with Angelo in their original smaller location on Hidalgo. 
When they parted company Wbeymar and Karina took the plunge and started their own restaurant , Brisas Grill located on the beach a little bit south of Ballyhoo.  

Coming up to their 6th anniversary in business they decided to diversify a little and open a second location – Caribbean Brisas.
Evening at Caribbean Brisas - photo from the FB page
The original Brisas Grill on the beach is still our favourite place to sit with our toes in the sand, watching the boats come and go in the harbour while sharing a tasty meal. However the new location is a nice easy walk from our house, so this might become a new favourite of ours.
If you are touring around the island, stop in and give them a try.
Good food, and very nice people!
Hasta Luego

Lynda and Lawrie

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Friday, January 9, 2015

Unique souvenirs of Isla

A photograph of an iconic location on Isla - great souvenir!
Displays of delicate seaglass jewelery, stacks of quirky hand-painted signs, decorating accessories, greeting cards, and hand-crafted clothing overflowed the tables, that vendors had set up in the municipal plaza in centro.

Another great souvenir - bilingual book
This month the Artists' Fair was held on the first Friday of the month, instead of the first Thursday – that being New Year's Day this year. Since the all-night New Year's Eve party in centro didn't wrap up until late in the morning, not many vendors or customers would have been able or willing to attend an art fair.
On Friday afternoon, Lawrie and I packed up a stack of books, a display table, chairs, tablecloths, banners and assorted other paraphernalia to set up our booth at the fair. It reminded us of when we were still working for a living, attending big conventions and trade shows, lugging in heavy boxes and display items. At least here the location is small and intimate, and we didn't have far to walk. We even planned ahead this time and had a small two-wheel hand-truck for the heavier items.
Island Girl - hand painted fun signs
The fair was busy with friends and tourists, cruising around to examine the various displays. A number of local restaurants had samples of their food for sale at ten pesos a taste. Barlito's, Gringo Burgers, Sonny's Pizza and Due Torri were some of the ones that we noticed - serving up yummy samples of wings, fries, burger bites, pizza, lasagna, and even apple pie. The idea was a big hit with the roving crowd.
Souvenir hunting tourists and locals
In our little location we enjoyed a steady stream of fans dropping by to say hello, or to purchase our book: The Adventures of Thomas the Cat – Las Aventuras de Tomás el Gato

Lior, Isabel and Maya - young fans!
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the story line of this first book, it begins with our adoption of a tiny stray kitten, and ends on Isla Mujeres with the grown-up Thomas making friends with a number of the local animals. 
Written in both English and Spanish, it makes a unique souvenir of your vacation to Isla Mujeres, and is a purrfect gift for the youngsters in your life. 
One charming young lady by the name of Isabel, stopped by to inform me that she owned a copy of the book, and had read it all by herself - several times. Impressive! Being avid readers ourselves, it makes us smile to know that youngsters still enjoy reading.
Sandra showcasing her Yesterday's News handmade items
The second book: The Adventures of Thomas and the Pirate, is scheduled to be published in October 2015. (I have ideas for many more books in the series.) Now if I could only convince Thomas to do personal appearances …....
Whatever your preference for a souvenir, or a keepsake, the Artists' Fair is a great location to find that special item, for you or a friend.
Come join the fun at the next one: Thursday February 5th. We'll see you there!
Brenda LaMonica and Eileen Regn - lots of great ideas for gifts
BadAss Billy Greeting cards - he is the model all the cards

Hasta Luego
Lynda and Lawrie

This week's photo credits: Marcy Watt, Lynda Lock and Tiffany Yenawine Wareing

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Friday, January 2, 2015

Making kids, big and small, smile

Freddy Medina & Yadira Velazquez 
"Santa! Elmo! Mickey! Minnie! Batman!” dozens of little kids ran giggling and laughing towards the parade. 
Participants riding in the decorated vehicles tossed glow sticks, small gifts, and candies into the shrieking hoards.
This was the second year that Freddy Medina and Yadira Medina Velázquez asked us to participate in a Christmas parade wearing the Mickey and Minnie Mouse costumes that were originally purchased for a Hallowe'en party at Villa la Bella. 
Marcy and Chuck - our drivers
The costumes are hot, clumsy, and exhausting to wear but when we see the smiles on the faces of the kids it's well worth the trouble. Behind our foam mascot-heads Lawrie and I were grinning from ear to ear – not that anyone could see our smiles.
Our good friends Chuck and Marcy Watt again volunteered to be our drivers, plus enlisting their visiting friends John and Di Worhaug as the official candy-tossers for our golf carts. Numerous other friends joined in with decorated golf carts, or rode the funny bus. Too much fun!

A little Minnie Mouse!
The collection of vehicles assembled at a wide spot in the road, next door to our house. Everyone was on time! Wow! 
And this year we had two motorcycle policemen assisting at intersections, keeping the parade vehicles together. 

At six in the evening we started off with a flotilla of fifteen decorated vehicles and a collection of motorcycles.
No one had any idea where the parade route would take us. The bus driver and his navigator were responsible for deciding the route. 
It all depended on whether or not the bus could fit in a particular street, or if it would be too narrow. 

Dick, Tony, Paul and Mim
Even with these precautions the folks riding on the top of the bus had to duck a few times to avoid low hanging electrical wires. 
The excitement was all part of the fun as one of the bus riders would yell: Down! 
And then: Okay, clear!

Barlow, Brad, Tiff and Lior
We began by heading south, winding through the various neighbourhoods, up and down streets, around the Super X-Press, past the parks: waving, waving and waving.  Ahead of our vehicle I could see Freddy (Elmo) dancing and waving the entire two hours. That takes a lot of stamina!

Julie, Patty and Deb

Eventually we turned north along Rueda Medina passing the various restaurants and hotels, still waving and having a great time. 

Anna Karina and Lazardo
At the Soggy Peso entrance the parade came to an abrupt stop while one of the ladies on the bus made a mad dash for the baños! Upon her smiling return off we went again, winding our way through Centro, turning the corner at Jax Restaurant and finishing at Brisas Grill on the beach. 
Wbeymar Maldonado and his wife Karina Avila hosted an extended Happy Hour at Brisas Grill for the motley crew, allowing us to unwind, and rehydrate.
As I gave Freddy a hug, and a thank-you kiss on the cheek, I realized he was soaked with perspiration, right through Elmo's thick red fur. 

Have a couple of cold beers my friend, you've earned it!
Freddy and Yadira 
Thanks again for including so many gringos in your fun. Our faces hurt from smiling!
Happy New Year to Everyone
Lynda and Lawrie

This week's photo credits: Deb Rosa Sirenas, Diana Worhaug, Kevin Petty, Marcy Watt, and the Medina family.
More happy participants
Tonda, Tuggi, Kay and Kevin

Mickey, Minnie, Luz Medina 

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