Thursday, September 29, 2011

What's the Favourite Colour of a Bamboo Chicken?

Red, orange or yellow!

Green Iguanas (nicknamed bamboo chicken) are attracted to bright colours such as red, orange and yellow.  From personal experience I'd say that this bit of trivia found on a website dedicated to the care and feeding of pet iguanas is correct.  We have had iguanas munch on our yellow hose nozzle, attack the orange handle on the rake, or beg for treats when I wear my red gardening gloves.  But lettuce, cucumbers, and broccoli hold absolutely no fascination for them. Iguanas don't have teeth as such, just bony ridges that can, as my sister Joann discovered, do damage to fingers if you forget to keep those pink-wiggly-things out of the iguana's mouth. 

Iguana salad

They primarily reside in rock piles along the beach, or in empty lots,  But, they will also tunnel under houses, or take up residence in just about anything that can be considered a burrow - such as the large drain on the side of our house.

Their biggest enemy seems to be dogs, especially dogs that are hungry, or dogs that like to dig.  We have seen a few dead, or about-to-be-dead, iguanas being carted off by a dog or two on the island.  Some of the dogs get quite excited, yipping while digging up the burrows, and that's when we use our super-duper water-cannon and chase the marauders away.  However, occasionally the dog is a quiet, efficient hunter and secures his prize before we can interfere.  Score: Dog - 1, Iguana - 0.

Municipality installed iguana-crossing warning signs
Iguanas also have a poor survival record when crossing the busy sections of the island's roadways.  The municipality has recently gone on a campaign to make drivers more aware of many favourite iguana-crossing locations on the island by posting caution and yield-to-iguanas signs.

I was surprised to learn that Green Iguanas are classified as "Threatened" and are so listed on Appendix II of the Convention of International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES).   We have at least 15 to 20 Green Iguanas currently in residence along this stretch of the beach.  It's really hard to get an accurate head count because the little devils all look alike.

One of our resident iguanas enjoying snacks
There is one other natural enemy that I should mention - hurricanes.  The big waves associated with tropical storms and hurricanes can drown them inside their burrows.  Iguanas need heat to be active.

Typically we experience a rapid drop in temperature with storms, making it difficult for the lizard to escape the inundation of water.  So, between dogs, vehicles, hurricanes - and small boys with slingshots - these hapless critters can use a helping hand. 

Treats for iguana at local marina
Keep in mind though they are vegetarians.  Don't feed them cat food, dog food, cheese, leftover pizza, biscuits, or anything with protein, wheat or corn in it.  A diet that contains animal proteins will lead to kidney failure, and this is a terribly long and drawn out way for an iguana to die.  

The fresh fruit or vegetables should be shredded or chopped into small pieces.  Remember they don't have teeth.  Some suggestions on the pet websites include green beans, winter squash, sweet potatoes, yams, carrots.  Fruit can also be offered such as strawberries, cantaloupe or raspberries.  Not my raspberries!  I'm not sharing my imported raspberries with iguanas. I do share the local papayas, pineapples, mangoes, and bananas. They adore bananas.  When I appear with a dish of bananas those lizards run so fast their four little legs barely touch the ground.

A couple of other funny facts about iguanas. 

1. They shed.  Depending on its growth rate and age an iguana will shed from once to many times in a year.  An iguana's skin will begin to turn a dull, hazy shade of grey indicating it needs to shed.  It's a messy affair with bits and pieces hanging off in a state of disarray. The fresh new skin will be shiny and brightly coloured. 

2. The male iguanas have a hemipenis.  That's two - that they can use alternately.  Twice the fun!

3. A group of iguanas is called a lounge of lizards. As my character Jessica Sanderson mused in Tormenta Isla Book #3 of the Isla Mujeres Mystery series, Book; 
My attempt at hand-painting a sign.
She supplied chopped fruits and vegetables to the lounge of lizards in the garden. She’d read that amusing expression on A group of lizards was called a lounge. So, she supposed, a group of lizards hanging around could be thought of as a lounge of lizards lounging in a lizard lounge.  

Hasta Luego from paradise
Lynda, Lawrie and Sparky

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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Why Isla Mujeres?

Wow!  Pink sand beaches that stretch for miles on a narrow scimitar of land in the Bahamas - on a island named Eleuthera.  It fascinated my spouse for months, fantasizing about living on a long empty stretch of beach with no one, or nothing around.  There is a total population of approximately eight thousand people (mainly English-speaking) in this former British colony, with the nearest city of Nassau fifty miles by air.
Whoa!  Stop!  I'm good with rural, or semi-isolated, but not Robinson Crusoe remote.
Caribbean Blues!

In 2002 we fell in love with the turquoise sea of the Caribbean, and the search began for the perfect property for our dream-home.  We had a choice of over 7000 islands in and around the Caribbean Sea including 501 in the Bahamas, 43 in the British Virgin Islands, 12 in the Cayman Islands, 58 in the Turks-and-Caicos, and 81 in the US Virgin Islands. 
Ah, but then, reality pokes it's pesky little head up and says - what about obtaining building supplies for the dream-home?  A construction crew to do the work?  Furniture?  Milk?  Meat? Veggies?  Doctors? Dentists? And what do you do when you finally get bored watching the ocean?  As fascinating as it is, eventually you have to do something else with your day.

Our outdoor decision-making office.
So, when the opportunity happened to purchase a slice of heaven on Isla Mujeres we decided it was definitely worth considering.  We opened a bottle of our favourite wine, took two glasses, and a bowl of mixed nuts and retired to our home office - the lakefront patio.  After lighting dozens of candles and lanterns to set the mood for serious consideration of our future, we started to list the reasons why Isla Mujeres would be a good decision:

1.  close to the City of Cancun, population of approximately 800,000 - with shopping centers, grocery stores such as Costco, Mega Commercial, Soriana's, Sam's Club and Wal-Mart

2. Home Depot, and other large Mexican chain stores for building supplies

3. three excellent, and very affordable, hospitals in Cancun with American-trained doctors

4. only 20 minutes via water taxi (passengers only ferry) to the mainland

New Chedraui Grocery & Super Store
5. only 45 minutes via a car ferry to the mainland

6. easy air access to and from Canada to visit family 

7. easy air access to South America, as we have not had the opportunity as yet to visit that area of the world

8. an active ex-pat community from US, Canada, and Europe

9. pleasant oceanfront temperatures of between 20 degrees C (70F ) and 33 degrees C (95F)

10. cooling ocean breezes, swimming and snorkeling. (We later discovered the sea turtle nest annually in front of our casa.)

11. not much rain, even in the rainy season as the clouds skid rapidly across this low island, heading to the mainland

Four Amigos!
12. electricity available curb side

13. internet service available curb side

14. municipal water system

15. municipal sewer system - for the side of the island where we were proposing to purchase property

16. two gas stations on the island

17. a variety of small grocery stores on the island, and later in 2011 a Chedraui Super Store 

18. a fabulous variety of restaurants
Home Sweet Home!

19. a choice of banking options

20. doctors and dentists on the island with many more available in Cancun

21. The best reason of all, we enjoy the Mexican culture very, very much

By the time the wine was gone and the candles had burned down to nubs we had decided that yes - Isla Mujeres would be the perfect place to build a dream -home. 
It is!  And we are never bored!

Hasta Luego
Lynda, Lawrie and Sparky

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Should have learned Spanish!

Baños?   Gracias!   Buenos días!   Cerveza - por favor! 
We all know those words.

North of Puerto Vallarta before the influx of tourists

Back in 1966 when my husband Lawrie first visited Mexico with a travel agent friend that was pretty much the extent of his Spanish vocabulary.  

Their trip started with Mexico City, then Acapulco, and finally they did the adventurous drive over the mountains to the fishing village of Puerto Vallarta.   Three years later he was on the first jet – with the same friend plus six other travel agents – that did a trial landing in Puerto Vallarta.  The Captain announced over the plane's p.a. system that if the plane wouldn’t fit on the runway they probably would have enough fuel to return to their departure location!  This group of travel agents was on a scouting mission in Puerto Vallarta for future tourist locations when there was only three small local hotels in the downtown area, and nothing but white sandy beaches on either side of the village.

Puerto Vallarta 1980's
My first visit was in 1982 with Lawrie, and two family members.  We had a package deal for the flight and one night in a two-star place north of the hotel zone in Puerto Vallarta.  

About two in the morning there was a god-awful bang and a flash of light.  I thought a revolution had started and tried to dive under the bed.  Oops.  The bed base was made of concrete, no room underneath for a frightened Gringa.  No more sleep for me that night.  
Early in the morning we heard several men laughing outside the hotel.  We looked to see what the source of amusement was and discovered a Mexican utility worker perched on the top of the power pole in front of our hotel room holding a cartoon-style board-stiff dead cat upright by its tail.  Apparently the unlucky cat was the cause of the loud bang.  It had electrocuted itself by touching the power transformer.  The remainder of the trip was very enjoyable and not nearly as heart-stopping as our first night.  We discovered the wonderful Fiesta Americana chain down the road from our two-star place and promptly moved into a two-level townhouse on the property.  Five swimming pools, several restaurants and bars.  Heaven!
Time-Share Hustle in Puerto Vallarta
Over the next twenty-something years we frequently returned to Puerto Vallarta staying in various hotels, condos, and apartments.  By 2002 we were tired of the Puerto Vallarta time-share-salesmen-hustle and decided to try the less populated Barra de Navidad area for two weeks. We flew into Manzillo and took a very long taxi ride to a small one-star hotel in a bay north of Melaque.  The mosquitoes soon drove us out of that hotel and into the town of Barra de Navidad.   

Lawrie's Birthday Treat
Here we stayed in a slightly better place with a great view of the 5-diamond Grande Bay Hotel & Resort perched on an island in the bay.  Lawrie suggested that we take the small water taxi over to the island to check out the hotel, and maybe have a drink in the bar.  You would think that after being with him for twenty-three years, at that point, I would have been able to predict what was going to happen next.  Well it was March, and after all it was his birthday the very next day, and a 5-Diamond hotel really was more his style.  So, yes we moved over the next morning to the Grande Bay Hotel.  Fabulous place!  
About then other family members had purchased property and built homes on Isla Mujeres near Cancun.  We decided that we should spend a week or two in the area to see why they were raving about the Caribbean side of Mexico.   The first place we stayed was at delightful rental cottage on the west side of the island.  This was our first time on the Caribbean Sea.  Wow!  The colours were exquisite.  That clinched it – we were not going to return to the Pacific side of Mexico anytime soon.  A few more trips to Isla to show our Canadian friends the island, and we were completely hooked.  So, when we heard that the ocean-front property, located just two lots north of his sister's house, was for sale we promptly contacted the sellers.

September 2007 - Patricio gives us our house keys.
We started dealing on the property in June of 2006 and by January 2007 had a deal where we could now build our house.  By September 2007 our fabulous local contractor Patricio Yam Dzul had the house completed, under budget and on time! We spent our first delightful winter here on Isla Mujeres from December 2007 to March 2008, arriving back in Canada on March 10th 2008 to a blinding snow storm. That's it!  We were done with winter. We wanted heat!  We wanted palm trees!  We wanted flowers all year!  

In October 2008 we left Canada with all of our worldly possessions stuffed into the Nissan Altima and headed south to Mexico.  (I confess, not all of our worldly possessions were in the car.  We left 54 photo albums and Lawrie's custom-made Tuxedo stashed with family.)  We love it here.  We love the climate, the scenery, the people, the food.  The only challenge we face is the lack of Spanish.  It's a bit frustrating at times to struggle with casual conversations with our local friends.    

Living in Paradise!
So, back to the first sentence …… we should have learned Spanish about 30 years ago when our brains were much younger and we were much smarter. 

Hasta Luego
Lynda, Lawrie and Sparky
Murder and mayhem in paradise.
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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Viva Mexico! Mexican Independence Day September 16th

The sizzling hot food from the street vendors, washed down with glasses of fresh fruit juice, or icy cold beer, kids running free in the town square, music and laughter, flags and banners, red white and green bunting draped on buildings, and soon, the big finale featuring fireworks.  A great way to celebrate Mexican Independence Day.

Flotilla taking the Virgin to Isla Contoy
The week started quietly with the annual Virgin of Charity of Cobre's Procession on Saturday September 10th.  The event began at eight in the morning with the blessing of the statue of the Virgin Mary at the church in the town square.  The beautiful sounds of the parishioners praying ricocheted off the buildings as the crowd followed the procession of priest and docents, from the church onto a flotilla of boats.  The flotilla then headed out to Isla Contoy where the Virgin of Charity will reside for six months in a small chapel to protect the fishermen for the winter fishing season.  There were many small panga-style fishing boats in the flotilla plus an UltraMar water taxi, two large tour boats, a Coast Guard cruiser, and a Navy vessel - all overflowing with the families and friends of the fishermen.
Grandmothers' Association in Parade
Late on Thursday evening, September 15th was the local re-enactment of the day of Grito de Delores.  The Grito de Dolores ("Cry of Dolores") was the battle cry of the Mexican War of Independence, uttered by Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a Roman Catholic priest from the small town of Dolores, near Guanajuato.  

Just before midnight on September 15 th 1810, Hidalgo ordered the church bells to be rung and he gathered his congregation.  Hidalgo is believed to have cried: "Long live Our Lady of Guadalupe, death to bad government, and death to the Spaniards!"   Mexico's independence wasn’t officially recognized by the Spanish crown until September 27, 1821 - after the officials had completely tired of the ongoing war.

Independence Day Parade
Some of other entertaining Independence Day activities included the Viva Mexico buffet dinner at Chuuk Kay Restaurante from six until ten in the evening on Thursday September 15th. 

And there is traditionally a great parade, usually along Medina Avenue in the Centro, on September 16th around nine in the morning. 

More or less. (Más o menos.) The parade will start soon, in five minutes.  It's Mexico - good things happen but at a slower pace. 
Independence Day Parade

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Hey Mister Postman

Many of our island friends are amazed at the things that we receive via the Mexican postal service.  We seem to be one of the only houses to have mail regularly delivered to our door.  We had been told; don’t use the mail, things will get lost, or stolen, or just disappear.  Part of the problem is the lack of visible addresses, or even a consistent method of assigning house numbers.  Our address is actually Lote 3 on Aeropuerto Prolong, but my neighbour one lot to the south is Lote 11 on an entirely different road.  What?  Addresses are so difficult to figure out that bank, water, electrical, cable and telephone statements are independently delivered by couriers hired by the individual companies. 

Postal Delivery Vehicle
 Back in November 2008 when we arrived on Isla to live fulltime we noticed that there was a greeting card in our “buzon” mail box.  It was from a dear friend in Keremeos BC Canada who had addressed the card simply as Lawrie and Lynda Lock, K’aay Ha, Isla Mujeres, Mexico.  She had mailed it on October 31st and it was waiting for us on November 9th.  Not bad!

Lawrie and I had a good chuckle over that and never thought about it again.  Then two weeks later a small packet from another friend Penticton BC arrived – a new calendar for 2009 and a personal note to us.  Interesting!  Shortly after that our accountant in Penticton BC sent down a packet of mail from our Canadian post box.  Maybe we could use the mail service after all.

Andreas making a delivery to our casa.
To put that theory to the test Lawrie proceeded to order a variety of things over the internet from the US, Canada and even China: a case of special engine oil for our Nissan Altima 0/20 weight, 20 yards of Navy Sunbrella and 13 yards of Blue Sky Sunbrella fabric to re-cover our deck furniture, a new Sirius Satellite radio, Sony E-Book, Maui Jim replacement sunglasses, replacement tail light component for the Nissan, medications, Halloween costumes, two Kindle E-Books, clothes for both us, and most recently a box of Pickapeppa Sauces. 

Presently we are waiting for two packages, one from California and another one from Lima Peru. (The Peru package arrived today, September 13th exactly two weeks in transit, it arrived ahead of the one from California.)

Sept 13th Fernando and Hector with our package from Peru

 Sometimes the postal delivery person arrives on his motor-scooter with the parcel and the large hard covered binder that we sign to confirm the delivery.  Or on occasion, as in when we received the Sunbrella fabric, he delivered the 5-foot long roll in a taxi!  When Lawrie and I took the Maui Jim sunglasses to the post office and arranged from them to be mailed to Mexico City for warranty work a few hours later the door bell rang.  The smiling postal worker was there with our package and his receipt book asking if we wanted it sent by air instead of ground delivery.  Apparently he was new to the office and had not asked that question when he charged us 54 pesos.  For another 40 pesos we had it changed to air delivery, got a receipt, and away he went back to work.  We love these guys! 
Lawrie with case of Pickapeppa Sauces

We have been so successful with our mail deliveries we have offered the use of our address to several inland-gringo friends.  I can just see it now – a small warehouse set up in our laundry room with a series of shelves, numbered slots, and a spot for the recipient’s name. 

Maybe we should get jazzy uniforms for Lawrie and I to wear.  Perhaps something in attractive Caribbean blues and greens with Gringo Couriers or Gringo Mail Service embroidered on the pockets? 

National Postal Workers' Appreciation Day
And, because we get such great service we never forget to take the posties their treats on November 12th - Mexican National Postal Workers' Appreciation Day. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

Lupita's Quinceañera

              A little girl becomes a young lady

If you are ever invited to a Quinceañera celebration - go!

Last Saturday Lawrie and I, plus my sister Joann attended this very special event, at the invitation of our friends Freddy and Yadira Medina.  It was the Quinceañera or celebration of the fifteenth birthday for their daughter Danaee Guadalupe. 

Decorations, gifts, and our invitation

This is primarily a Latin American celebration - very different from any other birthday, as it marks the transition from childhood to young womanhood.  The celebration, however, varies across countries such as Cuba, Dominican Republic, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, Ecuador, Columbia, Venezuela and Mexico.

There are generally several parts in the Quinceañera celebration following the thanksgiving mass.  Parts of the celebration are usually previously practiced, oftentimes for weeks in advance, sometimes even months.

Lupita arriving at the church for her thanksgiving mass

At five-thirty in the afternoon Lupita arrived at the church for her thanksgiving mass - done up with chic makeup, elegantly coiffed hair including a tiara, manicure, pedicure and a gorgeous purple and silver ball gown.  She was escorted down the attractively decorated aisle by relatives and her god-parents (padrinos).  As is the custom the tiara had been given to her as a reminder that to her family she will always be a princess.  Or as her stylishly beautiful grandmother Sra. Norma Medina said "a Barbie Doll."  During the thanksgiving mass a nine-piece band sang hymns and
                                                           played music.

Later, around nine in the evening, Lupita's family and friends gathered for the celebration party at the Playa de Mexico beach club on Sac Bajo.  Freddy and Yadira (her parents) plus brother Diego and other family members spent many hot sweaty hours decorating the huge palapa, setting up the bar, organizing tables and chairs for hundreds of guests, and lighting dozens of candles along the pathways.  It looked fabulous.  Freddy's former Soggy Peso co-workers pitched in to help out for the night.  Kash was head waiter, and Freddy's nephew Yo-Yo was the head bartender.  And then the party got started!

A toast to Lupita

To begin the evening music ws provided - first by a disc jockey and then later by Javier and the Band With No Name - to keep guests entertained while they waited for the formal events to begin.  Lupita was at the entrance greeting guests and handing out party favours with her mom, grandmother, and various aunties.  Next was the toast to Lupita - given by Lupita's very tall and very beautiful aunt, Freddy's youngest sister.  She incorporated a short speech and the touching of glasses before drinking a toast to Lupita.

Proud papa changes Lupita's sneakers to high-heels

For me, the best part of the evening was the very emotional and symbolic ritual of the shoe, changing from the shoes of a little girl to the high heels of a young woman.  Freddy got down on one knee to carefully remove the black and white sneakers and replace them with white satin high-heeled bootlets.  He was so proud, so happy, and at the same time tearful to see his little girl growing up.

Freddy dancing with his daughter Lupita

The first waltz started with her dad, and then her padrino, uncles, brother, and finally invited guests. As each man 'cut-in' to dance with Lupita he would bow, extending his right hand, and begin the dance.  When the next man 'cut-in' the dancing partner would twirl Lupita gracefully handing her off to the new partner.  For the final waltz she was handed back to her dad.

The evening then segued into dancing, chatting, mingling, until midnight when the main course was served - a delicious roast pork dinner with all the trimmings.  This lead to more dancing - but by now most of the gringo contingent had given up for the night.  Lawrie and I were the last two stragglers to head home to our beds. The party was nowhere near over!  There were three-year-olds still dancing as we slunk out the entrance around one in the morning. 

Lupita and her many cakes
After we had left there was the cutting of the cake ritual. The beautifully decorated cakes looked so yummy, I was sorry we couldn't stay awake to sample the goodies. This was followed by more dancing until the wee hours of the morning. 

In some Quinceañera celebrations the family and closest friends attend a special breakfast, known as the recalentado (re-warming), in which any food not consumed during the night before is warmed again and served with beer or soft drinks.   

                Groan!  How do they do it?  We are such party wimps.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Bloomin' Bougainvillea

Moving to Mexico in October 2008 I was ecstatic about the gardening possibilities in a tropical zone. I love gardening, and especially love flowers. The entrance courtyard was perfect for a grouping of large terracotta pots that could hold a profusion of flowering plants. The ocean-side of the house had unlimited possibilities for a garden either in pots around the patio, or perhaps a few set into the beach area. We also have two upper decks that would look stunning with terracotta pots overflowing with brilliantly coloured flowers. I could hardly wait to get started.
Bougainvillea sprawling over Maria del Mar Hotel

The first plants that we bought were eight raspberry red Bougainvillea; that ever-present thorny vine that climbs and clamours over houses, hotels, restaurants, and fences everywhere in Mexico. Four vines went into the planter in the carport, and four more into a planter in the courtyard. I had thought to mix in a variety of colours, such as strawberry pink, flame orange and snow white, but decided to stick with one colour and build the colour palette with other types of flowering plants. The plants responded beautifully to their new home, quickly sending up four and five foot long shoots into the air, grasping for things to climb. And then the cooling winter winds started! Disaster!

It turns out that the cool winds that enticed us to build our oceanfront casa on the windward side of Isla Mujeres are hell on gardens. Even though the temperature seldom drops below 20 degrees C (about 68 degrees F) tropical plants are a wussy lot, turning brown and dying back at the slighted dip in temperature, and especially when a cool salty wind blows across their leaves. Even the tough invasive plants such as the Moon Vine, a white-flowered, night blooming and very fast growing relative of the Morning Glory, turn black and wither into the ground waiting for the arrival of warmer weather in April or May. Sissies, they have no idea of what cold really is!

Our Flores de Mayo

But I was not to be deterred! I will overcome this minor setback. Out came the Bougainvillea, and in went a Flores de Mayo (Flowers of May otherwise known as a Plumeria). It did fine, offering a profusion of yellow-orange flowers, until the winds started. At that point every leaf on the plant dropped and we were left with a stark-naked plant to grace our carport entrance for the next six months. I have also tried Gardenias in pots along the outside wall of the courtyard with their heavenly scent perfuming the air, causing passersby to comment on the delightful smell. Died! They hated the winds in the winter, and hated the intense heat of the summers.

Then there was the month of Geraniums - cheerily displaying their blooms from various terracotta pots. Ditto the above results. At some point I even tried purple Chrysanthemums thinking them tough enough to at least survive the cool winters. Nope! The salty winds killed them as well.

My Favourite!  Orange Hibiscus with Red Centre

Finally - Hibiscus thrived on my upper street-side deck, tucked away from the winds. We have had months and months of delightful eight-inch vibrant orange blooms with a deep red centre. Stunning! Until August arrived - nearly killing the plants with the intense afternoon heat. Rats! We moved both pots out to the ocean-side of the house, playing a dangerous game of waiting until the heat abates on the west side, hoping to move them back before the breezes intensify on the east side of the house.

Our Ocean-side Patio

So what does thrive on an ocean-front lot? Coconut palms. We now have five pots of coconut palms on the patio. The upper deck has two recuperating Hibiscuses, and one presently healthy Rosemary plant. The courtyard currently has one palm, an assortment of citrus trees that I am experimenting with, a large pot of orange Canna Lilies, and another pot holding a yellow Hibiscus. So far so good. Not exactly the Gardens of Babylon but it's a place for small lizards, geckos, beach dogs, and cats to lounge.

It's still paradise for us, with or without the Bougainvillea.

Pilates on a Moto

It's new!  It's easy!  And it's guaranteed to tighten up your core muscles (abdominal 6-pack, butt muscles, hamstrings, and calf muscles).  Be the first in your group to try Pilates on a Moto. Our exercise program is available for kids, dogs, men and women.

There are only two pieces of equipment required for this new and exciting exercise - a moto (either a scooter or motorbike will do) and a helmet.  Below are a few suggested exercises:

1.  I-Can-Carry-an 8-Foot-Extension-Ladder-on-my-Moto: Equipment required include the moto, helmet, and an extension ladder.  Hold the ladder with one arm, and get on the moto.  The balance and coordination required to start the moto, and move forward while holding the ladder will give your body a good all over workout.  Watch out for pedestrians and telephone poles while you are performing this exercise!
Exercise #1  I-Can-Carry-an-8-Foot-Extension-Ladder -on-my-Moto

2. My-Friend-and-I-Can-Carry-a-4-Foot-by-4-Foot-Mirror:  This exercise requires the participation of a second person.  The driver mounts the moto, holding it steady while the friend gets on behind holding a 4 x 4 mirror.  When the moto is moving the wind resistance on the mirror will provide a great workout for the rider, and increase his heart rate as he cannot see anything.  This exercise also works well with a 3-foot diameter plastic patio table, large boxes, or ventilation fans.  Use your imagination, try different items to get a full-body workout.

3. I-Can-Push-My-Friend's-Moto-to-the-Gas-Station:  It takes a lot of coordination and balance to perform this exercise correctly as one moto is stopped dead, out of fuel, and must be pushed slowly by the driver of the working moto -using only his right foot - to attain driving speed.  The person on the non-functioning moto will achieve some degree of exercise anticipating the movements of the driver who is pushing him.
Exercise #3  I-Can-Push-My-Friend's-Moto-to-the-Gas-Station

4. My-Dog-Can-Drive-the-Moto: This exercise will require the participation of your canine friend who must keep his or her front feet balanced, at all times, on the handlebars of the moto.  This is a very popular exercise amongst both the gringo and the local community. It gives your pet a complete body workout as well as providing a bit of humorous distraction for other drivers.

Other exercises in our exciting series include:

Watch for our DVD's and with companion illustrated book appearing soon on or Sony Book Store!!!!

 Okay, enough with the silliness. 


Aging Pets:

A few weeks ago I asked my friend Dr. Delfino Guevara - our local veterinary - what happens when one of our cats or dogs dies?  I guess it was on my mind because we were going to be away for two weeks visiting friends in Canada, and I wanted my sister Joann to have the information - just in case. 

Delfino popped by our house with a booklet on pet cremation.  Wow!  I knew it was available in Canada and the USA, but never thought that it would be available here in Mexico.  Delfino said the cremation service employees in Cancun will come over to the island and retrieve the animal, and then return the ashes to the island. The prices were definitely better than Canada.  Depending on the size of the animal, (cat or dog) and whether or not I wanted the ashes returned to me, the prices were anywhere from around $50.00 to $175.00.  Good to know as we have one cat "Tommy" who is 12, a beach dog "Missy" who could be somewhere around 8 or 9 years old, and "Odd" the other beach dog who is probably about 6 years old, and crazy little "Chica" my Mexican kitty who is only about 3 years old.