Friday, August 25, 2017

Just another day in paradise!

Just another day in paradise.    
Sparky and Max, our two island rescue-mutts and I wander down the sidewalk in the semi-darkness. 

It’s the early morning pee-walk-for-pets, the one that happens before I get to enjoy my first cup of coffee. 

I prefer to stumble along the seashore in the morning with the dogs off their leashes, but at this time of year, the beach is a minefield of mama sea turtles digging nesting holes. Some of the holes are four-feet deep, and sometimes the mama turtles are still in the holes.

Sparky and I are restless sleepers. 
Max and Sparky - checking out the turtle smells

He noses me awake well before dawn. Lawrie and Max, on the other hand, could sleep through a category five hurricane and an 8.9 earthquake. 

It takes both of us, Sparky and me, to wake up Max and convince him he has to go for a pee. 

He’s not a happy camper.

Lawrie's photo early in morning
The next fifteen to twenty minutes are a comedy routine of Sparky pulling me, and me dragging Max.
“Come on, Max. Walk a little faster please.” I exhort, followed by “Sparky, slow down. Wait for Max.”

Sparky flips me one of those looks, “Really. Slow down? He’s nearly motionless.”

“Well, Max is just not a morning guy like you, Sparky,” I tell him.  We continue our pull-drag pace a block south and turn to make our way back. Finally, Max is awake enough to pee.

Mama turtle - digging, digging, digging.
As we near our house I can see Lawrie standing in the street, waving frantically at me. “Hurry up!” He shouts quietly, trying not to wake up our neighbours.

“What’s wrong? Is there a problem?” I am about to pick up Max’s hefty twenty-eight-pound body and run home.

“No, no problem. Unless you think a turtle digging in our yard is a problem.” He says with a happy grin.

Sparky watching from our upper deck.

“Come on boys, let’s go!” And surprisingly Max breaks into a run. Maybe he thinks I said let’s eat. The dog likes his food.

We barrel inside the house, scrambling to remove dog leashes and harnesses, but keeping the dogs locked inside. 

We discovered a few weeks ago that mama turtles don’t like being sniffed by inquisitive canines. 

The boys will have to watch with us from the upper ocean-side deck.

This photo has been shared and reshared on web.

And there she is, digging up the back yard. 

During the night she has wandered from side to side, front to back testing the ground before she finally located the deep sand at the bottom of the yard.

Lawrie had, uncharacteristically, woken up when I left with the two dogs and wandered out onto the upper patio to check our neighbours’ beach. 

A few seconds later - same turtle.
There is usually one or more fresh holes every morning. 

Instead, he spotted the mama tossing sand in our yard. He grabbed the camera and snapped a few photos without a flash, but it was still too dark to really see her. 

By the time the dogs and I had returned home the light was perfect for photos. We watched while she dug yet another hole, then moved along and dug another and another.

"What do you want in your coffee, mama?" Ken Jost photo
Familiar guests, Norma and Ken Jost, were staying next-door at MarVillaCaribe. They are also early risers and noticed the commotion in our yard. Ken took some amazing photos as well as videos. 

Eventually, the mama turtle lumbered down the path towards Casa Luna, and then turned right and headed towards the water.

And away she goes around 7:30 a.m.
We don’t know if she laid eggs, but we are watching and counting down the sixty days of incubation. 

Fingers-crossed everything goes well if there are eggs.

So, yeah, just another boring day in paradise. What did you do this morning?

Lynda & Lawrie

Lawrie tidying up the beach.


There's Trouble on Isla, Big Trouble!
Book #2 in the Isla Mujeres Mystery Series
Available on Amazon e-books $2.99 USD

New Year’s Eve is a magical time on Isla Mujeres, especially this year after the stormy events of the past few months. After their chaotic hunt for the pirate treasure, and a close encounter with a serial killer Kirk Patterson, Yasmin and Jessica deserve a lady’s night out.
Hung over from a night on the town, it is late in the afternoon before Yasmin starts to worry that her boyfriend Carlos hasn’t been seen all day. And then the texts start coming:

                            $2.99 USD on most E-Books distribution systems.

Friday, August 18, 2017

There’s Trouble in paradise … big trouble!

New Year’s Eve is a magical time on Isla Mujeres, especially this year after the stormy events of the past few months. After their chaotic hunt for the pirate treasure, and a close encounter with a serial killer Kirk Patterson, Yasmin and Jessica deserve a lady’s night out.
Hung over from a night on the town, it is late in the afternoon before Yasmin starts to worry that her boyfriend Carlos hasn’t been seen all day. And then the texts start coming:

“Give me what I want!”

I’m just darn excited, or as my great-niece, Ellen, says – I’m pumped! 
My second novel, book #2 in the Isla Mujeres Mystery series, Trouble Isla, is available on Amazon e-books as of today. It’s the sequel to book #1, Treasure Isla
Both adventures are set on Isla and feature a group of close friends and an island rescue-mutt, who just happens to closely resemble our little divo Sparky. He’s is a scene-stealer once again.
Then, while I am basking in the after-glow of finalizing book #2, Lawrie grins at me and says, “Now you can finish editing your historical novel, Named by the Enemy
Then start on book #3 of the Isla series, oh and finish the sequel to The Adventures of Thomas the Cat, and start the children’s book about turtles that you and Julie Goth are collaborating on.

Bally Hoo (Lima wharf) featured in Trouble Isla
Ah, the challenges of being a self-published author. 
It sounds so easy, write a little book, and publish on Amazon e-books then wait for the piles of dinero to roll in. Sounds good, right?  Em, not exactly. 
There are apparently over 35 million titles available online and thousands more being added daily. It’s an extremely competitive industry. Sitting back and waiting to be become rich just doesn’t cut it, unless you happen to be as popular as John Grisham or Patricia Cornwell.
Lawrie and I at Javi's Cantina, featured in Trouble Isla
So, after coming up with an idea for a book, then writing the story a self-published author also has to be the marketing director, the publicist, cover designer, book designer, editor, and webmaster. Or you can pay people to do these jobs for you before you have sold even one copy of your absolutely-guaranteed-to-be-famous best-sellerSince I am operating on a shoestring budget I get to be the chief-cook and bottle-washer for the Island Tales (or should it be Island Tails?) Publishing Company. 

In my case proofreading is not my strong point. Family members and close friends are repeatedly pressed into service reading and re-reading the manuscript, looking for errors. Thank you again to Linda Grierson, Richard Grierson, Rob Goth and Julie Goth for your assistance. And a very special thank you to Julie's mom, Shirley Andrews who corrected my haphazard punctuation yet again. 
Abandoned condo project featured in Trouble Isla
Then, if the self-published author decides to print that soon-to-be-famous-novel a different set of skills will need to be mastered. Design the book. Find a printer at a price you can afford. Proof the sample. Guestimate how many you might realistically sell. Take the leap of faith and place the order. Get the books shipped directly to your spare bedroom, or shipped in small increments to an organization like Amazon, which by the way will charge for selling, storing, shipping. Amazon will also double your storage fees after six months, and ultimately will kick your unsold books out at twelve months. If you aren’t a superstar, out you go!   
Abandoned hotel featured in Trouble Isla photo 2013
The upside of being a self-published writer is that you get to control every aspect of your work. You are the boss. 
And for the times you are stuck, really stuck for a solution there are writers’ groups comprised of generous people who are helpful to newbie authors like me, offering insights and advice on a wide range of problems.
Fortunately, Lawrie and I have a bit of experience in managing small businesses and the same basic principles apply; the end goal being to make more money than you spend. Soon, one day, maybe. But in the meantime, it’s an enjoyable adventure learning fresh skills and meeting different people. 
I hope you enjoy my newest novel Trouble Isla. Sparky and I had a lot of fun writing it. Book #3 Tormenta Isla will have something to do with a hurricane and you will meet our two newest additions to the family zoo, Max and EB the cat.  
Sparky and Max using Lawrie as protection from E.B.
Max is another island rescue dog that looks like he could be Sparky’s third-cousin-once-removed, but he is totally different in personality. Except for Lawrie Max is still shy around men. He is eager to please, loves his food, and likes to sleep, a lot.
EB is a four-pound black cat that adopted us a month ago. She then went on a campaign, terrorizing Sparky and Max by sharpening her claws on their tender noses, and sleeping in their beds. The dogs named her EB, short for Evil Bi**h.  
After two weeks of feline intimidation, we begged the local vet, Dr. Delfino, to let us increase the population of his pet sanctuary by one small cat. He reluctantly agreed. He already has dozens of homeless black cats. We happily waved goodbye to EB while Sparky and Max did a happy dance around the cat carrier. 
The E.B. sleeping in Sparky's bed
Five days later she engineered her escape and was back in our courtyard, yowling for attention.
Sparky is depressed; The EB is back! 
Max is scared peeless to be within ten feet of her, but she’ll provide a bit of comic relief for book #3 of the Isla Mujeres Mystery Series.

Cheers from paradise
Lynda & Lawrie

Isla Mujeres Mystery Series 

Available now! $2.99 each, on Amazon e-books

Friday, August 11, 2017

Isla from a kid’s point of view.

Dancing, dancing, dancing - carefree and happy.   
To get a different perspective on life on the island, we decided to write about Isla from a kid’s point of view.  
We asked several of our friends if their youngsters would be willing to answer a few questions. Here are their responses.

Where were you born? 
Cancun and the USA were the most common answers.

Hanging out with friends

How long have you lived on Isla Mujeres?
My whole life, or in some cases the youngsters answered with the number of years. 

It sounds so very grown-up, but from their perspective, it is their whole life.

If you have lived in another country do you miss anything from that country? 

The mountains.  

Interesting enough none of the kids mentioned missing a particular food, which according to our grown-up friends is one of the biggest adjustments they had to make. We have friends who ‘mule’ down a variety of their favourite items every time they return from their country of origin. We, on the other hand, have adjusted to the food and flavours that are available here, with the exception of my favourite brand of hard, salty Dutch licorice. That I get ‘muled’ to us a couple of times a year. It’s a must-have.

Bike riding on the Malecon

Is living on Isla fun?
Everyone answered that one with a big YES!

Why wouldn’t it be?  There are parades and fireworks several times a year for Carnaval, Independence Day, and Revolution Day. Then there are traditional dance groups, musicians, and Carnaval dancers. 

Trick or treating for several days is common

A youngster can celebrate Christmas with their Canadian or American friends, and still convince mom and dad that they should receive presents on the Night of the Kings, January 6th.  Or they can trick-or-treat for Halloween, then continue through November 1st and 2nd, for the Day of the Dead. 

The tradition of trick-or-treating was brought to Mexico by visitors, and the local kids adapted just fine to the custom expanding it into a five or six-day binge of collecting candy and pocket change from tourists.

One of several basketball courts 
What is your favourite thing to do on Isla?
These answers ranged from playing video games, going out for dinner, hanging out at the beach, and enjoying the annual Carnaval dances and parades. 

Us too, except the video games. We’re terrible at those! With a choice of hundreds of restaurants ranging from high-end gourmet to economical home-style, it’s a great way to introduce youngsters to new foods and a new culture. 
Revolution Day parade on Isla Mujeres
Kids can also learn to play baseball, basketball or soccer. Then there is fishing either with a few friends or as a participant in the annual kid’s fishing tournament. Ride a bike. Learn to skateboard. Go swimming, or just chill at the beach. With the exception of a few storms that roll across the island the weather is normally warm, sunny and great for outdoor activities. No snowsuits required!
Playing in Centro

What languages do you speak?
Everyone answered English and Spanish. 

Other languages that we have heard local youngsters speak include Hebrew, French, Italian and a number of Spanish dialects from South American. How lucky for the kids to be fluent in a number of languages at such a young age.

Annual Fishing Tournament for the young islanders

Do you sometimes translate for your parents?  
Most said no, that their parents are bilingual, some said yes their parents are still learning Spanish or that they translated for grandparents. 

We need one of those! We still struggle to learn the language after nearly ten years of living on Isla. A fluency in other languages is so helpful when you travel to other countries. I struggled with five years of mandatory French when I was in school.  Lawrie chose Latin, which strangely enough has been very useful for deciphering written instructions or road signs in French, Spanish or Italian.
Summer fun all year around
Is your best friend the child of a foreigner?  Or a Mexican child? 
The majority of the responses were: I have many friends who are from the USA, Canada, Europe, and Mexico. What a great mix of experiences for island kids.

Where do you go to school?
Most of the youngsters attend school on the island whether it is private school or public school. One is being homeschooled by parents.

Do you like school?
Ha! The answers were pretty plain which ones were boys and which ones were girls. Boys-no! Girls-yes!

Any advice for parents who are thinking of moving with their children to Isla Mujeres? 

Parents, for the most part, answered that question:

Celebrating Independence Day in Centro
Living in Isla is great with kids, safe, and fun. Most of the things I thought I needed to raise a child it turned out I did not need at all. Learning to live simply is the best lesson of all!  

Rent a golf cart, get to know the island and get a house.

Learn the culture, learn the language, and get involved with the island.

Enjoy your week,

Lynda & Lawrie 

Treasure Isla

Have you got yours yet? $2.99 on amazon e-books
Treasure Isla is a humorous Caribbean adventure set on Isla Mujeres, a tiny island off the eastern coast of Mexico. Two twenty-something women find themselves in possession of a seemingly authentic treasure map, which leads them on a chaotic search for buried treasure while navigating the dangers of too much tequila, disreputable men, and a killer. And there is a dog, a lovable rescue-mutt. 

The cover of Treasure Isla has a new look courtesy of one of my favourite mystery writers Carmen Amato. She is the creator of the popular Emilia Cruz Detective series set in Acapulco. 

Friday, August 4, 2017

Saving Lola!

Julie Goth pouring water on stuck mama turtle.   
“Hey Lawrie! There’s a sea turtle stuck between two rocks! Can you help me get her free?”

Rob Goth, our neighbour a few houses to the north of us, stood in our courtyard shouting towards our upper deck. 

It was early in the morning and we still had our bedroom door closed with the a/c running. We hadn’t heard him shout, but the dogs Sparky and Max had. They woofed, and Lawrie opened the door to investigate. 

Julie, Lawrie, and Rob - how are we going to do this?
Then Lawrie yelled an explanation to me and took off, leaving me to scramble out of the shower, toss on clothes, and dash after him with my camera in hand.

When I arrived on the beach side of Rob and Julie’s house, appropriately named Casa de Tortuga, Julie was gently pouring water over the turtle’s head and Rob and Lawrie were discussing ideas to free her. 

The temperature was already a sweltering 30C but felt like 36C due to the high humidity, that’s 86 and 97 in the American temperature scale. 

Rob Goth, sun umbrella for turtle
The turtles can survive on land for short periods to lay their eggs, but the ladies always arrive after dark and usually leave by sunrise.

This poor mama was hot, and getting hotter.
She was tightly jammed in a crevice between a ledge and an enormous chunk of rock. 

Fortunately she was in the upright position, not standing on her head. 

Lawrie suggested lifting her out by her flippers. I said no, that might injure the muscles in her shoulders and then she wouldn’t be able to swim. (What do I know?)

Rob went back their house for small, red and white beach umbrella and a bigger bucket to pour water more over her. 

Rob Goth, hat for him, bigger umbrella for turtle
I zipped up to the street, looking for a local who might know the number for the Tortugranja, the Turtle Farm. 

Tony Gutierrez was passing by, I asked him if he knew anyone at the Turtle Farm, He said yes, and offered to drive over to tell them we needed help.

Other neighbours, Cesar Sepúlveda and Sylvia Leal supplied a bigger beach umbrella, and another bucket. Their daughter Fanny pitched in with filling buckets of water and passing them to Rob. 

Visitors from Kansas City, who were staying at Vidrio del Mar, the Sea Glass house next to Rob and Julie's helped wherever they could. As did a guest from nearby Punta Piedra.

Fanny lugging water. Guest from 'Sea Glass House" helping
Cesar hopped into the family golf cart and drove to the Turtle Farm looking for help, not realizing I had already spoken to Tony Gutierrez.

More people arrived, everyone curious and trying to be helpful. Some of the new arrivals took turns pouring the water over her head and body, hoping to prevent heat exhaustion. 

Lawrie and I both grabbed large coils of rope from our house. 

More helpers arriving
Cesar and Sylvia contributed flat tie-down straps used for holding cargo in place.

It seemed like forever, but in reality it was probably about thirty minutes before the turtle farm employees arrived. 

They decided to lift her out by her flippers …. as I said, what do I know? (Yes, honey, you were right.)

The guys used the tie-down straps instead of the rope because the thin straps were easier to maneuver between the turtle’s body and her flippers. 

Success! She's moving.
Then Luis, Amado and Emir lifted her, one on each side and one grabbing her shell behind her neck. The first attempt didn’t work, Amado asked for a hammer and chisel, thinking to chip away a bit of the rock. 

Rob reached in and suggested they give it one more try, poof – she was out.

Cheers erupted, everyone grinning like little kids at the circus. 

Turtle guys and helpful visitors - hold her for a minute

The mama started off but she was dragging a strap still attached to her front flipper. 

Three guys struggled to hold her back while another (Luis maybe?) undid the strap. And then she was off.

Amado escorted her to the water’s edge, waving her a farewell.

Everyone happy and turtle headed back to ocean
It was heartwarming to see so many people from Canada, the USA, and Mexico come together to help this one creature. 

The next day was Rob Goth's birthday and as he said, "This was the best gift I could have dreamed of."

A really big thank you to the Tortugranja employees from all of us.

As we headed home, carrying two really heavy coils of rope, I turned to Julie Goth and Sylvia Leal, “Hey, what’s her name?” I asked, pointing at the retreating turtle.

Amado escorting 'Lola" back to her home.
“Lola!” They yelled back.

From all of us, happy travels Lola, and for heaven’s sake, watch where you are going!

Hasta luego,

Lynda & Lawrie

The numbers for turtle emergencies: 

998-134-0712   Kai Creamer

A further update, today Aug 5th Capt. Tony Garcia found another mama turtle stuck near Casa Coral. 

He was able to rescue her as well. Might be an idea for home owners on the Caribbean side of the island to do a morning check for trapped mama turtles.  Better than letting them bake to death in the sunshine. 

Have you got yours yet?
Treasure Isla is a humorous Caribbean adventure set on Isla Mujeres, a tiny island off the eastern coast of Mexico. Two twenty-something women find themselves in possession of a seemingly authentic treasure map, which leads them on a chaotic search for buried treasure while navigating the dangers of too much tequila, disreputable men, and a killer. And there is a dog, a lovable rescue-mutt. 

The cover of Treasure Isla has a new look courtesy of one of my favourite mystery writers Carmen Amato. She is the creator of the popular Emilia Cruz Detective series set in Acapulco.