Friday, July 31, 2015

Landscaping by turtles

Perfect turtle egg-laying weather
Yep, that’s what the title says: landscaping by turtles. 
I know, I know this is the second article in two months about turtles but this is turtle season folks!  
We are in the middle of the nesting season with possibly the largest number of returning turtles since the turtle farm came into existence about twenty years ago. 

Dozens of nesting holes
Hundreds and hundreds of the ladies are nightly digging up the beaches, creating four-foot deep holes on any small piece of sand on the eastern side of Isla Mujeres. The beaches look like a Bobcat earth mover has been at work, operated by someone like me, someone with a very short attention span.  “I’m bored with this hole, I think I’ll make another one over there, oh wait, that’s a better spot.”  And on, and on, into the night.

Sparky checking out the mess left by the mama turtle
A few weeks ago, around mid-night, Sparky our little four-legged alarm system woke us with a woof.  Lawrie and I popped out of bed to investigate the strange noise coming from our ocean-side yard.  It sounded as if someone was shoveling sand, preparing to bury a body.  (You can tell, we read a lot of murder mysteries and thrillers.)  
A quick flick of the flashlight and we spotted a large sea turtle deep in the bushes on the south side of the house, violently flipping rocks and sand.  We wanted to help her find a better spot, but decided that she had to make her own decisions about the suitability of the location for her nest.  In the end she abandoned the attempt and moved on to another place. 
More eggs dug up by another mama turtle
The downside of so much nesting activity is that many of the eggs are not being collected by the turtle farm for hatching in their predator-free environment.  I have recently seen at least six large nests that have been re-dug the following night by another mama turtle, scattering eggs across the beach, crushing the fragile spheres with her large body.  It’s unfortunate.  Presumably the turtle farm hatchery is filled to capacity.  The upside of the extra eggs is the crabs and birds are happily feasting on the embryos, increasing their chances of producing more baby crabs or baby birds.
Mayan Riviera - Sargassum seaweed (Daily Mail photo)
Beside the challenge of finding a suitable place to nest the mama turtles are facing another weird environment phenomenon this year – Sargassum seaweed.  Literally tons of seaweed have been drifting in mats of vegetation and washing up on beaches throughout the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea.  It is an unsightly mess causing problems in resort areas, especially the Mayan Riviera and Cancun.  The Sargassum seaweed is an algae that originates mid-Atlantic in the warm-bodied Sargasso Sea.  The reason for the problem is perplexing scientists and environmentalists everywhere.  The female sea turtles – in their strange turtle-logic - are typically reluctant to cross the piles of seaweed.  It’s probably an old-turtle-tale handed down from generation to generation by the older turtles to the younger turtles.  “Don’t cross the seaweed or you will die.”  This year the turtles seem to be getting over their fear and clambering over the accumulation of seaweed in their search for a nesting spot.
Tracks from the ocean through neighbours' yard into ours.
We have often wondered why the mama turtles seem to congregate on the eastern side of the island, instead of using the longer, flatter, and much softer beaches on the western side, the side facing Cancun.  
Is it because our beaches are more visible as the ladies arrive back at their home base?  Or is it just more expedient after mating to hit the first available beach, and off-load all those pesky eggs?  
The ladies expend so much effort digging in the rocky sand on the eastern side, I would think a few extra minutes spent scouting out a better location would be worth the time – wouldn’t it?  
As you can probably guess, we really enjoy watching the show in turtle season.  They are pretty darn amazing creatures. 
We wish you a long and peaceful life my friends.
Hasta Luego

Lynda & Lawrie

Friday, July 24, 2015

Adventures in Paradise


“Golf cart ride!  Oh, boy.  Can I come too?”  

Sparky yipped, bouncing around as we pulled our suitcases out the front door. 

Thomas yawned, momentarily lifting his head off his pillow, “don’t forget to bring me a present,” and turned his attention back to his interrupted nap on the sofa. 

Don't forget my present!
“Bye boys!  See you soon,” I called to them as I shut the door.  

Lawrie and I were off for a busy two weeks visiting family and friends in Canada, plus an assortment of appointments.  We had arranged with friends Becky and Craig McHugh to stay at our house and babysit our pets: Thomas and Sparky.

Confused, Sparky turned to Thomas, “Where are they going?  Why did they leave me behind?  I usually go with them in the golf cart.”

“Some place different.  It happens every year,” Thomas replied annoyed that Sparky wouldn’t be quiet.  “They’ll come back, smelling differently of other people and animals.  Don’t worry,” he said curling up on the sofa again, “they’ll come back.”

Sparky and Craig reading the pet-sitting manual
The new female human called out, “Sparky, come here.  Let’s get acquainted.”  And just like that Sparky forgot that his people were leaving without him. 

“So, let’s see what this is all about,” said the man as he hefted the thick binder of instructions for babysitting the two boys.  

Comfortably ensconced on the upper deck sofa the humans were reading through the detailed instructions. 

“It says here, when he is hungry Tommy will sit in the kitchen with his back turned.”  The lady called Becky said, “That’s what our dog Saby did when she was hungry.  Oh, and we are to give him a selection of two to three different flavors three to four times a day … Wow!  Spoiled kitty.”

“Meow!” agreed Tommy as he snuggled in for a pat.

Having lunch at Barlito's
By the next morning the household was settling into a routine.  The really tall man, who Sparky thought was named Craig, took him for his first walk of the day.   It was a nice leisurely amble along the sidewalk to the gas station and back, with the occasional heart-stopping moment as Sparky’s best friend Bowser repeatedly crossed the road to check out three construction sites for food scraps.  Thick-bodied and glossy Bowser was not really hungry.  He simply enjoys snacking on human leftovers.

Is it my turn to drive?
During the next two weeks Sparky was entertained with a golf cart rides that might include a breakfast or lunch stop at Barlito’s.  

Tommy was happy hanging out at the house, napping on any one of the three sofas.  

One afternoon Sparky and his human drivers ventured out to the viewpoint at Garrafon Reef Park, enjoying the sight of the beautiful turquoise water with the buildings of Cancun visible in the distance.   Other times they drove through the neighbourhood of La Gloria while Becky searched for fun subjects to photograph.  Colourful clotheslines.  Bright houses.  Painted murals.  Fun signs.   

Sparky checking out his domain  
Whenever Sparky saw human or dog friends he recognized his short tail would rapidly swing back and forth, “Hi!”  The dogs would woof a greeting.  The people usually waved at him, and then quickly did a head-turning double-take.  Who the heck were those people with Sparky?

Late morning before the sun had moved over to the west side of the house, Sparky would lounge on the upper street-side deck, greeting his local fans as they walked past.  “Hi Sparky!  How are you today?”  When Becky or Craig waved back a bewildered look would pass over the person’s face, who are you, they seemed to be thinking.  Sparky thought it was a fun game: confuse the humans.  It was almost as much fun as chasing crabs along the shoreline.

Sparky really liked his afternoon swims and he especially liked searching for crabs in the shallow water.  He couldn’t understand Craig and Becky’s fascination with hunting for bits of coloured glass on the beach.  “Ffpt!”  He snorted, “what good is glass?” “You can’t eat it.  You can’t play with it.  Silly!”

"Are you reading my E-Book?" asked Thomas
In the late afternoon when Sparky and Thomas were lounging with their babysitters on the upper deck it was time for belly rubs and ear scratches.  

Occasionally Thomas would supervise while Craig read his E-Reader.  “Did you order my E-book The Adventures of Thomas the Cat?”  meowed  Thomas, “It’s available on Amazon you know.”  

“Yes, I know Thomas,” sighed Craig, “you have already mentioned that a few times this week.”

“Well, I’m just saying,” said Thomas, a bit miffed that Craig wasn’t more impressed.
"Could you deliver my food to me please?"

During their stay the visiting humans affectionately called the boys different names - names that sounded familiar but were slightly different.  

Spartacus, Spartapotamus, Sparky, or Tommy Boy, Tomas, and Thomasino. 
The boys didn’t mind.  The pats were frequent, the belly rubs nightly, and the love unconditional.  

“So … those other two people … who are they again?”

Hasta Luego

Sparky & Thomas

"So ... those other people ... who are they again?"

Be sure to check out Becky’s blog and her delightful photos:  
Life with Beck

Thank you Becky and Craig for looking after the boys, and for letting us use your photos for the blog.   

Friday, July 17, 2015

Still on vacation from our permanent vacation!

If you are just checking in to see what's new in paradise our humans are still on vacation.  

They told us it is a two-week brain break; whatever the heck that means.

We will be back on Friday July 24th.  
Hope to see you then!

Cheers from 
Sparky (Chispa) and Thomas the Cat.

Friday, July 10, 2015

On vacation from our permanent vacation!

We are taking at two week brain break!

Back on July 24th 2015 with more of our insanely witty blog posts - or something similar.

Cheers, Lynda, Lawrie, 
Sparky and Thomas the Cat.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Spice it up!

No bueno!  Too hot!
Piling the bags of groceries on the counter we started to unpack and put things away, then it struck me how we are gradually acclimating to this culture.  

On the counter were two types of chilies, onions, tomatoes, limes, mangoes, avacados, tortillas and a bottle of our favourite spicy chipotle mayonnaise. 
These are just some of the ingredients we needed to make delicious arrachera fajitas for lunch.  Yum!
Beginning of a tasty meal.
Three years ago when we were touring around Italy, with Lawrie’s siblings and spouses also known as “The Family,” Lawrie and I discovered that we really missed the spiciness of Mexican food – the heat, the zip, the zap.  

The Italian food tasted good, but it used to taste great before we moved to Mexico.  Perhaps we have burnt out the more delicate taste receptors in our tongues by eating hot sauces and salsas.  Now, don’t get me wrong Ghost Chili Peppers, the world’s hottest chili peppers, are not for us!  A bit spicier is good, crazy hot spicy is no bueno!

Living area 2007
The other obvious change in our lives is the amount of colour that has slowly crept into our house.  When we moved here our casa was tastefully furnished in North American colours: black, neutral beige, and of course white.  Attractive?  Sure.  Interesting?  Not so much.  A few years later the main floor sofa and our patio sofa morphed into green, blue and yellow stripes. I have plans for the next reincarnation that include navy, yellow, pink and orange.  

Living area 2015
Our assorted candle lanterns have been spray painted several times to combat the rust and corrosion and each time the colour combinations are more and more lively: green, blue, yellow, orange.  

Even the dishes piled in our open-front kitchen cabinets have undergone a colour infusion from white and whiter to multi-hued hand blown glassware from Guadalajara, hand painted margarita glasses, turquoise plates, and stacks of blue or yellow bowls.

I wanted pink, orange and yellow, this works.
Recently I decided to update a bathroom small cabinet that we had purchased in 2007.  It was painted black, of course.  

I wandered into a local paint store and explained that I needed small cans of perhaps orange, pink, and yellow in something similar to Varathane, but no luck there.  

The new combination - 6 colours.
The clerk helpfully pulled out a selection of 250ml tins of enamel paint in a variety of blues, yellows and turquoise.  Sure!  Why not?  Colour is colour.  

For the next few days I painted and experimented with the various shades, eventually getting a fun result that I am darn-pleased about.  Now I find myself eyeing other furniture items in the house – thinking, hmm, I wonder.

On a grander scale, we could bravely follow in the foot-steps of other pioneering ex-pats and paint our house a multitude of eye-pleasing hues, but to be honest, we are a bit lazy.  On this side of the island the paint takes a beating with the constant but pleasant cooling breezes.  One colour inside and out suits our lifestyle.  Patching and touchups are easier with one shade to deal with – a little here, a little there.  All done.  We are back to reading a book, and sipping on a glass of wine in record time. 

Boats - one of my favourite things to photograph
Less house maintenance also leaves me more time for taking photographs; photographs of my favourite things like brightly painted boats, jazzy houses, and tropical flowers.  

Even laundry hung to dry outside other casas can be eye-catching and bright.  

And then there is our laundry basket.  It is currently filled with t-shirts instead of long-sleeved shirts, shorts instead of long pants, and everything in shades of blue, green, and turquoise to orange, pink and yellow. 

But the one thing that doesn’t change about the laundry basket is the smell!  Canada or Mexico – stinky laundry is still stinky laundry, and needs to be dealt with. 

All clean - hung to dry inside our casa
That’s my next job!  I wisely hang our laundry inside to dry, foiling the attempts of other camera-happy photographers! 

See you next week.

Hasta Luego

Lynda & Lawrie

Don't forget to check our other blog:

September 2015 - new colours