Friday, October 28, 2016

Dia de Muertos

Day of the Dead parade in Spectre 2015 

It’s a case of life imitating art. 

The most recent James Bond film, Spectre, released in November 2015 has an explosive beginning in Mexico City.  The famous British spy chases a bad guy through the historic downtown district while thousands enjoy a Day of the Dead parade. 

It was a fake parade, created just for the movie.

"Now,” according to the Minister of Tourism, “we’ve had to invent the Day of the Dead carnival because, after the James Bond movie, tourists will be looking for the carnival and they're not going to find it,” Enrique de la Madrid Cordero said when speaking to a convention of travel agents.

San Miguel de Allende - 2008, L Lock photo
In Mexico, November 1st honors children and infants "Día de los Inocentes”, and adults are honored on November 2nd as "Día de los Muertos".  The Day of the Dead (People) celebrations in Mexico can be traced back to the Olmec, Zapotec, Mixtec, Mexican or Aztec, Maya, P'urhépecha, and Totonac.  
Rituals celebrating the deaths of ancestors have been observed by these people for as long as 2500–3000 years.  In the pre-Hispanic-era, it was common to keep skulls as trophies and display them during the rituals to symbolize death and rebirth.  The Dia de los Muertos celebrations include building private altars honoring the deceased, using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed and visiting graves with these as gifts.  Some families leave a pillow and blanket outside the family home to provide a resting place for their loved ones.  In many places people have picnics at the gravesite of their family members.
Beauty-School altar Yucatan Living
Many tourists seeking a Day of the Dead experience head for rural indigenous communities in states such as Michoacán where cemeteries overflow with flowers, candles, color, and emotion.  
In Morelia, the capital of Michoacán state, it is evolving into a huge tourist attraction.  Nuevo San Juan Parangaricutiro better known as San Juan Nuevo, located 15 minutes from the city Uruapan features lighting of candles, release of balloons and floating candles, Passage of the Souls walk, a costume contest, music and art.  Closer to home, in Mérida the Passage of the Souls walk has grown to over fifty thousand participants. 
Here on Isla the municipality has created several new events to attract tourists to the Día de los Muertos.
Getty Images - Yucatan Expat
October 29th will feature Flamenco Dancers at the Casa de la Cultura esplanda, that’s the area behind the building facing the ocean. 

October 30th is the Magical Night of the Souls in the main square by City Hall, with troupes of folkloric dancers.

On November 2nd The Parade of Silence, for the passage of the souls begins at the old cemetery at the north end of Hidalgo Avenue at six in the evening.  The route will take the participants down Hidalgo to Lopez Mateos and then culminate at the Casa de la Cultura.

But, please remember folks, it’s not Halloween.  It is a very intimate and personal way of conquering death, by bringing back dead loved ones for a visit with the family. 

November 2nd Festival de las Animas 

Join in the celebrations, but please be respectful of the customs. 

Cheers from paradise

Lynda & Lawrie

Friday, October 21, 2016

Expats in the electronic age

Sunrise a few days ago
One of the greatest things that the tech-age has brought for expats is everyday tasks that used to be a challenge are much simpler to complete.

Affordable and quite reliable telephone service is available over the internet.  With a service such as MagicJack a low annual rate of less than fifty dollars gives service to and from Canada and the USA without long distance charges.  Expats can easily keep in touch with family and friends using an assigned telephone number from their home community.

Hidalgo Avenue in Centro - before the restaurants open up 
Banking of course is easier via the internet with debit cards and credit cards.  However, the island’s ATMs are currently experiencing a problem again with cards being cloned.  It’s a world-wide problem, apparently originating in Venezuela.  We’re fortunate in that we have a local bank account where we keep a small amount of cash, and can pop into the branch for more pesos as we need them.  Our RBC account in Canada allows us to transfer over the internet directly from one bank to the other.  It takes about five days but works great.

Fun colour combination
Shopping on-line is available in most countries but here it’s a big advantage, bringing a wider choice of items directly to our little island in paradise.  Amazon, EBay, Walmart, Costco, and big local chains such as Liverpool offer delivery to the island.

E-books have really made our lives easier.  In our previous travels to foreign countries we typically had one suitcase with nothing but English language novels to occupy rainy days, or cool evenings.  With our electronic readers we can be anywhere in any country, and as long as there is an internet connection, we can purchase a new book. Best invention ever, for travelers.

Door-to-door furniture salesman
Passports, will soon be renewal on-line for Canadians.  For us that would be a big bonus.  No more trekking into the Consulate Office in the hotel zone of Cancun to submit our applications. 

And in case you are wondering why the photographs, which we normally choose to illustrate the article, have this time around absolutely nothing to do with the article …… a picture of a debit card?  An ATM? An internet phone?  A bit boring to say the least.  

Great mural - there are no design committee rules here

So, instead we’re posting a sampling of recent random photos of life on Isla.  


Hasta Luego  
Lynda and Lawrie 

For the iguanas - should be Lazy Lizard Lounge!
This guy likes our loungers - the sign above is for him!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Random thoughts from paradise

Headed our way!
It’s a random thoughts kind of day; thoughts of weather, knees, a novel, and a dog.  

Connected right?  Only in my mind.

It’s the tail-end of hurricane season in the tropics and we still obsessively check the weather forecast, to ensure we don’t get caught unawares.  Zero percent chance of rain, the webpage stated, as we watched a huge black cloud slowly slide towards our house.  When the curtain of liquid hit we scrambled to slam windows and patio doors.  Fortunately our casa was designed as a beach house, tile floors, outdoor Sunbrella fabric covering cushions on concrete sofas, and a wooden dining set that was originally intended to be patio furniture.  Even our artwork is photographs printed on waterproof canvas.  So other than a few puddles to wipe up, rain inside the house is nature’s way of washing our floors.

Zero percent chance of rain  ..... 
Several parts of the island got the same deluge, while it completely missed other neighbourhoods.  One friend said she encountered flooded intersections where the water was half-way up the large tires on her Jeep.  Others had small rivers running through their homes, leaky windows, and flooded pathways.  Fifteen minutes later the rain stopped.  The sun reappeared, heating the freshly washed air.  Just little tropical tempest to keep us on our toes. 

A short time later the rain returned while I was walking Sparky, our Mexican-lowrider rescue dog near Playa Media Luna.  As I dashed along the beach headed for shelter, my foot landed off-kilter in the sand.  By the time I returned home the knee was swollen and not functioning.  I must say, I am particularly fond of wearing a black knee brace paired with large clunky-soled athletic shoes.  It is such stylish look in a culture that worships thin and lofty stiletto heels.

One caring friend, who has had several knee operations, suggested that I should not do stairs with a sore knee. Good suggestion, except our designed for outdoor-living home has a stairway leading from the living/kitchen/pool area to the two bedrooms and upper patios.  Nineteen steps up and of course nineteen steps down.  Need a cup of morning coffee?  Feed the dog?  Let the dog out for a pee-break?  Make lunch?  Answer the door?  Glass of wine for sundown?   Lawrie has been an absolute sweetie doing the fetch and carry thing, but I occasionally need a break from the computer.  

Photo for cover - Tony Garcia
Which segues into the novel part of my random thoughts.  

I started writing a book, called Treasure Isla, a few months ago.  It’s a fun adventure set on present day Isla involving pirates, buried treasure, and islanders hunting for the loot. 

Creating a community populated with fictional people leaves me preoccupied with ideas, descriptions and phrases.  Occasionally when chatting with friends, my thoughts drift away, as I wonder how my characters would react in a similar situation.  

What would he or she say?  Feel?  Do?  These other people have invaded my brain. 

When do I get to paw-print books? Photo by Tony Garcia
And, of course, there is a dog in the story.  

A pure-breed Mexican-lowrider rescue dog, by the name of Sparky.  He is the doppelgänger for our little mutt.  

After Tony Garcia did a photo shoot for the back cover of the book, Sparky has become an impossible divo.  He is anxious to have his own book signing party.  Hopefully the book will be ready for release as an e-book in mid to late November.  The printed version … well, we’ll see. 

Cheers Lynda & Lawrie
& The Sparkinator

I' want to be more famous than Thomas the Cat 

Friday, October 7, 2016

Hey, when are ya coming back? We're ready for you.

Visions of Margaritas dance in your heads ......
The annual winter migration begins soon, and Isla is ready for your return. Restaurant owners and merchants have been busy over the less hectic summer months preparing for your return this winter ….you know, that’s the time of year that you leave the rain, ice and snow, and prepare to be pampered under the tropical sun.  It’s that wonderful time of year, when visions of frosty Margaritas dance in your heads. 

Freddy Medina Independence Day at El Arrecife 
Centro has a number of new places to enjoy an evening out with friends.  In the spring everybody’s favourite bartender, Freddy Medina opened El Arrecife – The Reef. The new bar is a joint-venture between Freddy and his cousin Manuel Figueroa.  It is located in across from the municipal square and above the paradIceCream shop.  The entrance to the second-floor bar is on Hidalgo Avenue, behind the big tree decorated with toy monkeys.  The Reef serves good fresh food, and all the fun that you can handle with Freddy.  Their street-view bar stools are a great location to relax with a drink, and do some people-watching.

Jax Bar & Grill - the big bar on the corner

‘The big bar on the corner’ Jax Bar & Grill at the northern end of Rueda Medina, recently reopened after their annual staff holidays and restaurant refurbishing in September.  

This year’s big project was to redo the upper deck.  Good thing!  We think our dancing contributed to the old one’s demise.  Jax is one of our favourite places for a hearty breakfast, and tasty fish and chips.

Javi's Cantina 

Another new eatery is Javi’s Cantina & Tapas Bar located on Juarez south of Abasolo Avenue.  

Javi’s serves up cold drinks and great food in an intimate environment with live music several nights a week.  Check out their delicious fresh tuna, ceviche, and nachos.  The sliders look amazing as well. 

(We were recently caught on camera, dancing in the street outside Javi's, by the local paparazzi.)

Amar Cocina Peruana
Over a few streets, across from La Tablita’s and next door to Pleacorp (the pool supply place) is the new Amar Cocina Peruana.  

Owned by Catherine Benson, Amar features Peruvian cuisine and a fabulous selection of ceviches.  The food is very different and very tasty.

In  the same area, on the second floor kitty-corner to La Tablita’s is Facebar, owned and operated by Luz Del Alba Hernandez and her sister.  It’s already of favourite of locals for its cold beer, good prices and a ton of laughs.

Directly below Facebar, is a brand new, only open two days bar and restaurant named BE. That's all we know at the moment.  We happened to be driving past with a camera in hand and discovered that the day before the windows were still boarded up, and the next day they are ready to go.

Heading south along Rueda Medina is the ever popular Soggy Peso Bed & Cocktail owned by Mal and Sal Richards.  Closed for the month of September for staff holidays and renovations, they will re-open this week.  Bar service is now also available on the lower area, on the beach.  When you fall out of your chair, after two or maybe three of their famous Margaritas, it’s a much softer landing.  (We don't have any photos, as yet, of the new additions.) 

New and expanded Donosusa
And in the colonias a few blocks south of our house, but before you get to the double ‘highway’ at the Salinas Grande, is Bofitos.  It’s a great neighbourhood location to get simple, yummy food.

Another big change – Donosusa the grocery store near the tennis courts had done a huge remodel. Double in size, new shelving, brighter lights, and a touch of air conditioning.  Good pricing for basic packaged goods, detergents, paper products with a small deli-meat counter, and a cold beer fridge.

There’s probably more, but those are the ones that we’ve noticed.

Counting down the days until everyone is back in paradise.

See ya soon,

Lynda & Lawrie