Thursday, December 21, 2017

In the company of new friends at the artist fair

Selection of original paintings by Damien Lemee.   
“When’s the next Artist Fair?”

“I’m coming back to Isla on (insert any date) will there be an Artist Fair that day?”
These are frequently asked questions on the various island-enthusiast Facebook pages.
The Artist Fairs are becoming at tourist draw and as of November 30th the fairs are every Thursday until April of next year. However, it was deadly quiet night on December 14th at the fair, the week before the Christmas rush.  

Val Jukosky bracelet
I was fortunate to have three very sociable and entertaining artisans beside me, to fill the quiet times with laughter. Val Jukosky, Liwlig Larsen, Damien Lemée and I were set-up along a concrete wall in the shadow of the life-threatening coco-bombing palms trees. Each of us had a colourful display of our wares, hoping to entice passersby to purchase an original piece of art, a beautiful bit of jewelry, or in my case one of my new paperback novels or bilingual book for children.
Until recently I seldom had the time to chat with these folks even though I saw them week after week for several years. On this night, there were very few people browsing the displays so we chatted, and joked, and I finally got to know them a little bit better.

Val Jukosky necklace
Val Jukosky is from London Ontario, Canada. She makes beautiful ocean-tumbled sea glass and semi-precious gemstone jewelry. Here's the link to her FB page: Val's Sea Glass 

This is Val’s fifth winter on Isla, her first three years were six months at a time, but now she is here for longer periods. Previously she wintered in Puerto Vallarta and Melaque on the west coast of Mexico. She got hooked on sea glass collecting during her first winter on Isla started participating in the Artist Fairs the next year. Val says she loves being surrounded by water. Me too!  During the quiet times at last week’s fair, Val got busy and created fun, colourful bookmarks for my novels. She made a few and sold them all. They seem to be a hit.

A selection of art by Liw Larsen.

Liw Larsen is from Denmark. She first discovered Isla in 2006. Travelling around the world, she was in California when a friend suggested Mexico. It wasn't on her bucket list but from the very first day on Isla she felt like this was home. She knew she had to come back and stay, but it was September 2013 before she finally returned to stay. Here's the link to her FB page: Art By Liw 
Liw loves the slow life here, just living in the moment with no stress, lovely people a beautiful island and country. “I just love Mexico.” Her paintings are fun, bright and lively. She also has a selection of colourful prints, and has recently started painting mermaids on driftwood.

Damien Lemée was born in France but while traveling in Canada at the age of seventeen he decided to live there. He now lives six months in Montreal and six months on the island.  Here's the link to his FB page: Damien Lemée
The first time he came to Isla Mujeres was in 1998 as part of a band that played a mix of fun, danceable Latino tunes. The band’s name was Proyecto Indica, and included vocalist Lenin Zurita, Andre Hamel on flute and saxophone with Damien as the percussionist. They performed during the winter season for ten years in a number of bars on the island, including La Peña.

Artist, Damien Lemee being James-Bond cool.
Damien’s art includes an intriguing variety of painted bird sculptures made from recycled tires, plus paintings, prints and photographs.

We recently purchased a fun print of a black cat sitting outside the store on Juarez that has three cats painted on the building. Damen said it took his three tries to get the photo. Every time he picked up his camera the cat would leave, finally on the third day the cat waited for him to take his photograph.
Damien's birds made from re-cycled tires
Started by Brad and Tiffany Wareing in the winter of 2011 at the original Barlito’s location on Hidalgo Avenue, the Artist Showcase moved from the crowded corner to spread across the Sócalo in front of City Hall in Centro. Renamed the Art and Food Fair it grew to a healthy seventy-some-odd artists and food-vendors by 2013. Then the municipality decided that inside the Casa de Cultura on the malécon was a better venue. After a short time inside the building, the fair was moved outside to the parking area across from M&J’s and beside what is now the new office of tourism. 

Both Brad and Tiffany have worked very hard for several years, to organize the events, promote them, and deal with the myriad of national, state, and municipal regulations.
For the past couple of years the Isla Brewing Company livened up the drab Casa de Cultura location with their mobile beer truck, selling their hand-crafted ales. They contributed an enormous about fun and energy to the event including stringing overhead lights and providing music. Of course when other vendors plugged in their lights, the musicians their amps, and the cooks their microwaves, the circuit breaker would trip plunging the entire fair into darkness. Amid laughter and loud groans adjustments would be made and the beer dispensing, lighting, music, and food prep would resume. Fingers-crossed Isla Brewing will come back this year. We miss their lively energy. Here's the link to their FB page: Isla Brewing Company

Isla Mujeres Mystery Book #1 Treasure Isla & Book #2 Trouble Isla
The evening of December 14th wasn’t a total loss for me. Besides selling enough books to make it worthwhile and making new friends, I also had a very long and interesting chat with Dante Lopez, the owner of Mr. Opal on Madera Avenue in Centro. He told me a fascinating story about the Mayan culture that might just work its way into Isla Mujeres Mystery Book #4, Terror Isla.
And with that I’ll leave you hanging ……
There won’t be a blog on December 29th, see you in the New Year!

Cheers from paradise
Lynda & Lawrie


Coming soon!  Isla Mujeres Mystery Book #3

Working on Book #3 Tormenta Isla

There's Trouble on Isla, Big Trouble!

Book #2 in the Isla Mujeres Mystery Series

By CA reviews on September 26, 2017

Yasmin and Jessica are back and the gold they found in Treasure Isla is still haunting them, especially when Carlos, their boss at the Loco Lobo, and Yasmin’s new lover, is kidnapped. No spoilers here, but his captivity and the girls’ efforts to free him, with the help of Carlos’s pals—including local Isla Mujeres fishermen and a Mexico City cop—are the crux of this fast-paced story. Lock has created not only a compelling and authentic setting, but a well-developed ensemble cast. The next Isla mystery can’t come fast enough.

$2.99 USD on most e-book distribution systems.

 Book #1 Treasure Isla 
where the fun began!

By CA reviews on September 26, 2017

This was a truly fun in the sun kind of mystery, with an authenticity that was simply captivating. Set on the island called Isla Mujeres, not far from the better-known Mexican resort of Cancun, it follows the misadventures of two girlfriends, who on a drunken binge manage to wander onto the grounds of a cemetery and find a treasure map stuck in a crevice of an old pirate tomb. Jessica, from Canada, and local pal Yasmin both work at a tourist bar/restaurant called the Loco Lobo. Soon their boss Carlos and a handsome attorney named Luis are involved in the girls’ illegal hunt for pirate gold. Toss in a bad dude running from a string of crimes in Key West, and it’s the start of an addictive new mystery series.

         $2.99 USD on most e-book distribution systems.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Celebrations and Festivals for the Holiday Season

2017 December - my guys waiting for the procession
Just photos this week folks ... it's a busy time.  I am pounding on the keyboard to try and finish writing my third novel on schedule.  (We'll see!)

Happiest of Holiday Seasons to everyone, and a very Merry Christmas from Lawrie, Sparky, Max and me. 

Horse procession with Virgin headed past our house

2017 December - some of the 'cowboys' escorting the Virgin

2017 December - Presidente Juan Carillo  waving at Lawrie

2017 December - more escorts for the Virgin

2017 December - riding and phoning! Funny!

2017 December - Polo from the Mango Cafe

2017 December - some enjoyed being in the procession

2017 December - more events

2017 December - Tony Garcia photo


Every Thursday at the Casa de Cultura on Isla Mujeres
I will be selling paperback copies of my novels.
Treasure Isla and Trouble Isla
$300.00 MX pesos ($15.00 USD)
See you at the Fair!

Friday, December 8, 2017

The Gate Crasher

“What was that?” I said, jumping up and dashing outside. The loud crash had all of our friends running for the same location.
That – was Lawrie. He had missed his footing on a short flight of stairs leading from the patio at Casa Dia to the beach. He had done a one-eighty flip mid-air and smashed backwards into an aluminum gate. His head bent the slats, and the force of the blow knocked the locking mechanism off the gate and onto the beach. Anyone who has had a head wound know they bleed profusely. There was blood everywhere.
Fortunately he was conscious, talking, and breathing okay. He could sit up on his own, and there weren’t any signs of broken bones or smashed ribs so we gently moved him to a chair to get a better idea of his injuries. Then we called our favourite island physician, Doctor Greta Shorey.
Born and educated in Britain, Dr. Shorey has lived primarily on the island since 1988. Her son and daughter were born on Isla. Dr. Shorey speaks English, Spanish, Arabic, and French, although she admits the French words get tangled up with Spanish on occasion. She has been trained in five specialties including obstetrics, gynecology, pediatrics, tropical diseases, emergency medicine, as well as being a General Practitioner. She spent three months of her final year of studies working in Africa.
Doctor Shorey quite recently returned to the Island after spending 11 years in Abu Dhabi, starting in a large Canadian run hospital. She worked as a General Practitioner, very involved in teaching the junior doctors. To keep a balance with working in that modern, well equipped, rich facility, she also joined the Red Crescent, doing relief work in Pakistan and with refugees in the border area between Jordan and Syria.
A few years ago the municipality named her Woman of the Year on Isla Mujeres for her dedication to helping families with young children who require medical assistance. 
As her very good friend and long-time islander, Lindell Lehrer said, Doctor Shorey is the only foreigner to be honoured in this way.
And, fortunately for us, she makes house calls!
Our ex-firefighter pal, Chuck Watt, took great care of Lawrie while I called Dr. Shorey and explained what had happened and how to find us. We weren’t at home, but were a few houses away having dinner with friends, or about to have dinner I should say until Lawrie’s impressive display. She arrived quickly and set to work doing a full checkup lasting over an hour. Then she bandaged the large messy gouge in his head and sent him home with instructions to call if at any time he was having difficulty breathing or was distressed in any way.
Her clean, modern clinic is on the western side of the island, near the Salinas Grande. She charges a mere five hundred pesos (about $25.00 USD or $34.00 CDN) for an extensive office visit or a house call. Unfortunately some foreign visitors are under the impression that her services are free. Not so. She has expenses; staff wages, utilities, taxes, equipment purchases and the ongoing restocking of supplies. Besides paying her extremely reasonable consultation fee, you might also consider contributing to her cookie-jar-fund to help less fortunate islanders who can’t afford the medications they require.
Since Lawrie’s fall Doctor Shorey has come to our house every morning to check on her acrobatical patient. He was extremely lucky, stiff and sore from head to toe, and uncomfortable riding in a bouncy golf cart but otherwise doing well. The outcome could have been much, much worse.
His gate crashing was a very dramatic way to entertain a small group of family, friends, and neighbours gathered at Casa Dia for a pre-Christmas get together. Thank goodness he has a hard head. The following morning, we received a care package of dinner goodies from our host and hostess, Brent Curley and Day Grey, including a plate of cookies. Yum!
Thanks to everyone who was so caring and helpful. Lawrie says he has to work on sticking the landing before he tries that mid-air flip maneuver again.

Cheers from paradise

Lynda & the Gymnast

Join the adventure! 
Isla Mujeres Mystery series Book #1 and #2
Available on Amazon or at the weekly Artist Fair on Isla

Friday, December 1, 2017

The funny things that make us laugh

Sunrise - new day, new experiences living in Mexico.    

Living in another country and learning the idiosyncrasies of our new culture is an infinitely humorous experience. Thousands of articles have been written about the never-on-time habit of the Mexican culture. 

The party or dinner invitation says six in the evening but the host doesn’t expect you before eight o’clock. If you are meeting someone for coffee and they are twenty minutes late that’s early, no apologies are expected or given. Civic events are posted as starting at eight in the evening and might get underway by ten. We still arrive on time. It’s a conditioned response that even after ten years of living in Mexico we just can’t shake.

Waiting for 3 hours with friends for a parade to start.
But there are other lesser-known quirks in this culture.

For instance if you purchase a can of spray paint, you must remember to ask at the checkout for the nozzle or at the very least pull the cap off to check. Most of the stores keep the two separated. When we asked why, we were given two different answers. The first reason was to prevent children from stealing the cans of paint, and then sniffing the contents.

The second reason was to prevent older teenagers from stealing the cans to create graffiti in public area. Both sound like sensible reasons. But, there are only two or three types of nozzles so why wouldn’t the kids just keep a nozzle from another can and reuse it? Kids are pretty smart at figuring out the solution to a problem.

Towing service for a moto. 
Another funny little quirk that was really common, but we haven’t seen it recently, was the testing of light bulbs before you left the store. 

Every single bulb was tested to prove that you were purchasing a good bulb. 

Apparently it was to prevent someone returning later with a burned out bulb claiming the new one was defective. It doesn’t happen at Home Depot anymore, but probably is still common in smaller mom and pop operations.

Counting every single whatchamacallit.
Removing coffee pots, toaster, and lamps from packaging to prove that everything is include is still the norm, as is rechecking each individual part of an item that is being returned. We had that joyous experience at Home Depot a couple of years ago when returning a brand new ceiling fan that neither Lawrie nor our electrician could get to operate.

The young woman at the return counter laboriously removed every screw, every washer, and every whatchamacallit, checking it against the master list of parts included in the box. She counted fan blades, knobs, and thingamajigs. She unwrapped the electrical cord and poked around in the Styrofoam packaging. I’m pretty sure the return took three-times longer than the purchase.

Kara bashing the empty birthday pinata!
We have also fallen for the piñata trick. A few years ago I purchased a Cinderella piñata for a family member’s sixty-fifth birthday party. 

I wanted to create a cool cross-cultural birthday experience. We had a great time, kids, teens and adults, bashing the stuffing out of that poor piñata only to discover the doll was empty. 

No one had enlightened this clueless gringa when I happily purchased the empty shell. 

Like batteries for toys, the candies are sold separately.

Ink sold separately.

And our most recent chuckle about our adopted country occurred last week. I had the bright idea that I could create a sticker of Sparky’s paw print to be affixed inside the novels as his autograph. 

After a bit of hunting around we found a stamp pad at Office Depot and proudly brought it home. I had just enough time before the first Artist Fair on November 23rd to ink the dog’s paw, scan and email to a printer in Cancun to create decals. 

The plan was to apply a sticker to the inside of each novel as it was purchased at the Artist Fair. Except, of course, when I unwrapped the cellophane packaging I discovered the stamp pad was just a piece of thin foam inside a metal container – no ink!
Working on the decals for next week's Art Fair

The next few days were a national holiday and the stationary stories were closed. There was no ink available on the island. 

We chuckled and shrugged our shoulders. Oh well, mañana.

It’s what you do when learning to live in another culture. Laugh at yourself, and adapt.

Cheers from paradise

Lynda & Lawrie

$300.00 pesos per book - Thursdays at Artist Fair