March 2024 Highlights

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March was even less interesting than February as I was making up for several slow months of work. My schedule continued to revolve around Pilates. I really started to break through some walls, finding myself stronger than I ever have in my life. I have so much to say about how hard it is to be an eagle in a world that only values hummingbirds, but that is a post for another day.

The only thing of note for March is I bought my plane tickets for my trip to Canada in June. In January, I’d made contact with housesitters in France, so I’d just been waiting for the budget to reset itself to make firm plans for my trip. It will be very strange to go back.

This was my favourite photo from March. I was just roasting some chiles for salsa when I noticed that my habanero was literal fire!

I finished the Beartown trilogy by Fredrik Backman and my heart still has not recovered.

Finally, Dodger decided she wanted to get more information about scoping but ultimately decided it was not for her.

February 2024 Highlights

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After a slow start to the year, things became to ramp up in February. My best client moved on with short notice, so it was the perfect opportunity to increase my rates and get new clients that would give me more flexibility in my scheduling. This was a perfect example of how being your own boss can be more secure than having a salaried job in the current economy. This is really true in my industry since there are is more work than there are competent people available to do that work. Soon as I knew I would not be getting more work from her, I put out a couple of posts saying I was available and my calendar filled up pretty much to this weekend, May 11th!

I’m going through my photos from February and it really was just the usual Pilates, homemaking/cooking, and cats, so I won’t bore you with the same-old, same-old. The only exciting thing that happened is I signed up for a gardening class! This began the 20th of February and went on for four weeks. It was great to get out of the city those four mornings. The trip all the way to Residencial Xcanatún seemed daunting, but it wasn’t so bad. The Uber ride there was pretty pricey, but I was able to get a ride back to just within the periférico most days and then grab a bus from there. One day, I got a lift straight home since I had to bring home seedlings.

The course was very comprehensive, but I knew that starting a garden right ahead of summer would not be a success, so I was actually a bit disappointed that we started seedlings, which did sprout but which did not survive the first heat wave. I’m going to try again in the autumn.

January 2024 Highlights

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January was a slow work month, which I appreciated as it enabled me to start implementing new routines for the year and focus on my health journey.

The year started off with one heck of an amazing surprise at my very nearby Walmart: they put in an ATM for my bank. 😲 There was an ATM for my bank near old Pilates and my actual bank branch is near new Pilates, but both are still a good 40-minute roundtrip walk. It’s amazing to get to a BBVA ATM and back in under 15 minutes. In a pinch, I could always take out a couple thousand pesos at the till using my debit card, but they didn’t always have that much to give in withdrawals, plus I had to buy something. This is much more convenient!

That Walmart pass service is also incredibly convenient! I can order from other Walmarts that carry products the one in Campestre doesn’t have, plus I get all my heavy things delivered. And the odd day that I’m missing a few things and don’t have time to run out, only having to tip for delivery is pretty great!

I got a bad toothache at the start of January and was once again grateful for the amazing dental care I have access to. I knew from having had similar pain on the other side of my mouth last year that the issue was my retainer rubbing my gum, exposing the nerve root. My retainer adjustment appointment was in a week or so and knowing that I wasn’t in a dental emergency as well as exactly what to do felt like a miracle. I just picked up a tube of this magic toothpaste at a pharmacy, didn’t use my retainer for a few nights, and problem solved. This toothpaste is a miracle. It doesn’t just numb teeth (think Sensodyne); it actually builds up a protective layer around thin enamel.

I’ve had to very slightly change the way I eat, so I’m getting a bit better about meal planning. This menu made me realise I was overdue for a trip to Asianmart, so I headed out there one afternoon to stock up.

Here is just a tiny bit of my haul. I would very quickly come to realise that I was smart in buying the economy-sized tubs of red curry paste and miso!

I cannot believe I’ve never made miso soup at home. It’s one of my comfort foods! It had to jump to $80 a tiny bowl from a restaurant for me to wise up!

One of the many red curry paste bowls of deliciousness I’ve made since my Asianmart trip:

My clients were very generous over the holiday season. I was able to finally pick up a stainless steel skillet with one of the Amazon gift cards I received. It’s my new favourite pan to cook on!

With the balance of the card, I picked up sandals to match a new dress I got myself for my Puerto Morelos trip. 🙂

I bought this puzzle in 2022 and it wasn’t until January 2024 that I was finally able to put it together! The puzzle table went in the guest room so I could keep it safe from the girls! This was a really fun puzzle as it has a surprise at the end, one that actually surprised me.

Speaking of the girls, they love me and are getting along!

I spent most of a Sunday at Mérida’s well-hidden gem, the Parque Arque-ecologico del poniente. It’s becoming increasingly accessible as the bus service improves. I’ll have to remember to blog about that in a few months as more life-changing routes become available.

An amusing find on my walk was the Mérida igloo!

Working here must be a party!

I couldn’t get an Uber back from the park, so I walked all the way to Soriana Canek. I don’t shop much at Soriana here, but I knew they were having a sale on a beer I like, so I figured I should stock up since I’d have a ride home. I also found some beautiful fresh leeks. It had been a bit of a chilly, drizzly morning, so some fresh leek soup with garlicky naan was the perfect lunch after my long walk!

Finally, I did some pretty major cosmetic work in the kitchen in January. I may eventually post a video tour. One big improvement was baseboards!

I was unhappy with how the counters were chipping. After speaking with a few contractors, I decided that since I’m doing a full gut reno of the kitchen within the next five years, I wasn’t going to fix them properly. Enter contact paper. It was such an inexpensive and easy solution that even if I have to redo it one or two times before I redo the kitchen, it’ll still be less wasteful and expensive than my other options, like tiling or doing epoxy. I also added some peel-and-stick tile behind the stove. What an improvement! I love the floor and am thrilled that the counters almost match!

I again switched up the layout a bit and now do all my prep on the metal table.

Finally having a kitchen that I’m almost happy in for the first time since moving in is really helping motivate me to meal plan and cook. I finished off the year with this beautiful meal of failed shrimp tacos. I finished work early and decided that was what I was in the mood for, so I headed over to Walmart Express to get in my walk for the day and pick up everything I needed.

I came home and threw together a gorgeous salsa bandera with mango (I now make it with one whole jalapeño and one whole serrano pepper), a creamy coleslaw (with another serrano pepper), then cooked shrimp and sliced up an avocado. I have had to switch to low-carb tortillas at home, so that’s why you see a wheat one there — I still prefer corn!

I decided to pile everything onto the single tortilla, so I had to eat my meal with a knife and fork. #tacofail🤦‍♀️

January was the perfect lazy start to the year and really reset my batteries.

December 2023 Highlights

(It’s January 2024 and I’m backdating a post for each month that I have not blogged. Please scroll down to see the new posts starting with the July 2023 highlights)

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December was dead quiet and I just needed a proper break and staycation to get caught up things, including spending a couple of days doing house-closing related things. We thought we’d manage to close by the 15th, but alas.

The most exciting thing I did in December was visit the new La Plancha park, which Mérida claims will be the lung of the city. Ha! Just another huge concrete area, but maybe the trees will grow. It does have some lovely walking trails and a kids’ skate park is always a good idea. The lake is also lovely. It’s a beautiful project, truly, but I wish city planners understood how much replacing concrete with greenery would help this city.

I had trouble with Ubers that day, so I ended up taking a bus home, using the bus pass I’d bought way back in July! The new buses are linked to an app. You can check what routes to take and also see when a bus is coming your way. I took the bus again to Costco later in the month and was able to walk out my door, go a couple of blocks, and get to the bus stop just as my bus was pulling up! This ability to time my rides will definitely increase my bus usage as I stopped because the waits before were too long. I like that these new buses allow you to transfer to another bus at no charge, which must be a huge improvement to folks reliant on the old system of having to pay for each bus. These new routes will soon link up with the newly inaugurated IE-tram system. Within the next year, I should be able to walk 15 to 20 minutes to a tram station that will take me straight to La Plancha.

Alma is so droll.

Dodger is so sweet.

For Christmas, I made a delicious ham from local vendor The Sausage Lady as well as a cauliflower gratin (recognise the dish?) and some fabulous coconut sugar and cumin glazed roasted carrots..

I had an appointment with a trichologist in early December to confirm that my alopecia is genetic and not caused by an autoimmune condition. She confirmed as much and was really impressed with how well my hair has responded to Minoxidil, so she recommended I add another product, Nourkrin, to fill in the crown now that the the back has come in and I don’t have a huge bald spot anymore! She was shocked by how dated is my knowledge of alopecia and said she’s convinced I’ll have a full head of hair by next year… The top is still pretty spare (although it has so much body it can be styled to cover the thinner areas), but check out the back! I got a haircut just before vacation, so this is only a month to go from collar length to pony length. I do plan to get it all chopped off, but my hair dresser is on holidays for another week.

In that last photo, I was on my way to bowling. I’m hoping to have time for bowling again now that I’ve completely shaken up the Pilates routine. I’ve changed studios and am taking group classes, offering me a lot more flexibility. My vacation and “sick days” in October sadly caused issues at the last studio and if missing four classes total all year was such a big deal, I knew I needed a change for 2024 as I have a longer trip planned. I’m back to an evening Pilates routine and need to close out this post so I can make dinner and head out in an hour for my first class of 2024!

I will continue with at minimum these highlight posts until I have completed the promised 263 posts. I’m not sure what will become of the blog after that.

November 2023 Puerto Morelos Vacation Highlights

(It’s January 2024 and I’m backdating a post for each month that I have not blogged. Please scroll down to see the new posts starting with the July 2023 highlights)

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I worked excessively hard in November. Thankfully, I had a proper vacation planned for the end of the month! I was supposed to meet a friend at a resort near Cancún, but she had to cancel her trip. We’d both had a feeling that would happen, so I had a backup plan to stay in nearby Puerto Morelos, a not-so-sleep fishing village, and just have a lazy beach long weekend.

As I finalised my plans for that, Alma and Dodger began to bond in Xtiga’s absence:

I know I have a lot of short getaways in my future, so I splurged on a new carry-on suitcase, one size down from the one I took with me to Europe anticipating I’d be dragging it around public transportation.

I also got a new beach bag:

I lined up sitter after sitter and everyone kept cancelling on me. I finally called my handy guy Alejandro and asked him if he and his wife would be interested in a paid weekend in the city. I was so grateful to have someone local I could trust who knows the house and the girls. I’m getting rooted here!

Friday the 24th, I left for Cancún from the ADO station at Altabrisa. I love that Platino service has leg room, so comfortable! I slept hard most of the way!

From Cancún, I could have taken an inexpensive colectivo to Puerto Morelos, but the wait was long. A taxi to my hotel was 900 pesos. I ended up going a block from the bus station and flagging down a not-so-fancy taxi that offered to take me to PM for 600 pesos. Still way, way more than the 30-something the colectivo would have cost me, but have I mentioned recently I was exhausted, plus on vacation? I knew this would be only real big splurge of the weekend, so I gratefully got in.

My hotel was the brand-new Yax Kiin Casa Boutique, no frills, but really lovely. You’d never guess from this view that my balcony overlooked a busy street!

No seaside vacation properly starts without octopus tacos!

I had them at this restaurant a couple of doors down from the hotel. I ended up eating there three or four times!

I then wandered getting the lay of the land and and planning a few activities for my weekend.

First time my feet touched the Caribbean!

Saturday morning, I had only vague plans. I’d tried the night before to line up snorkeling, but the aggressive touts were a bit much and wanted a hefty single premium, even if I joined a group. So in my first walk of the day, looking for breakfast, I was pleased to be approached by a lady running snorkeling tours who was not aggressive. When I said I was single, the captain of a tour spoke up and said I could join an 11 o’clock tour for only $500, fully half what I’d been quoted the night before! I hurried off to have breakfast and pack for my adventure!

This was my first time snorkeling and I can’t believe I’ve never done it before. I was incredible to swim over coral and see fish, including barracudas! But get this. I’ve always been terrified to get into tropical waters because of a fear of getting stung by jellyfish. Not even five minutes in the water on my snorkeling adventure and I got stung, and on the chin no less! My fear was founded! Thankfully, it was only a little sting. The pharmacist I consulted later, as I started to swell up, informed me that the current consensus is to put acetic acid (white or apple cider vinegar) on the sting, so I’ll add some to my beach bag next time I got snorkeling. Yes, I’m definitely doing this again, barracudas and sharks and jellyfish be damned!

The tour was about two hours total. We went out in the water twice in two spots. I was really in my element. If I ended up doing this regularly, I will have to buy long-sleeved swimwear because the reef off Puerto Morelos is a protected area and you are not allowed to wear sunscreen. Since we had a life vest, my back was fine but the backs of my arms got a bit cooked, nothing to spoil my trip, and I did have aloe vera gel with me, but it’s something to be aware of for those who don’t routinely get exposed to the sun down here.

I lazed the rest of the day away, had some good food (so many great options for such a small town!), and watched the sunset on the beach. On my way to bed, I ran into another tout who listened to me and who got me set for my Sunday adventures!

For Sunday, I wanted to spend some time in nature. All the touts had been trying to sell me eco adventures with ziplining and ATVing and a host of other activities, or else booze cruises. I told the Saturday night fellow that I just wanted to spend a day in nature and ideally get a cenote to myself. He sold me on a two-cenote tour with lunch included, promising I’d get some alone time in a cenote.

9:15 Sunday morning I was packed in minivan full to capacity and off we went to Cenote Kin-Ha, which I’d been told had showers, bathrooms, lockers, etc. Most of the “big” cenotes now have these amenities, which makes them easier to visit since you don’t have to worry about your personal effects. Everyone else in the group headed off to do some ziplining while I was taken to the cenote to get a head start on swimming. I took this photo of the entrance at the end of the day. Yes, that’s the main entrance. It is one hell of a fall. I politely declined and asked for stairs. 😂

Muuuuch better!

A photographer followed us all day and took pictures, which we could buy. I was thrilled about that because I wouldn’t have been able to take photos in the cenote otherwise! Look at this! And I had it all to myself for FORTY-FIVE MINUTES. FORTY-FIVE MINUTES. I really got my money’s worth!

I had declined a lifejacket so I could swim unencumbered, so I spent the time doing laps around the cave and diving off the dock since the water is so deep there was no danger. It was the best workout I’d had in ages. I got an additional 15 minutes or so once the group showed up. You’d think I would have been exhausted by that point, but I float so well and am so comfortable in water that that weightless hour with only a few minutes standing on the dock total was more invigorating than tiring.

Next up, we headed to the Blanca Flor cenote. The rest of the group had their own ATV, but I was not interested in driving an ATV, having done enough in my lifetime, so I was happy to get driven! I would like to thank Pilates for my posture!

This next cenote had high jumping platforms as well as a zipline, making for quite a spectacle as young guys did tricks. I just enjoyed more swimming!

We then headed back to Kin-Ha for lunch. Everyone else in the group, mostly Mexicans, had requested the spaghetti with meat sauce. I asked for the pork and vegetables fajitas, correctly guessing it would be a much more satiating meal. The meal looked exactly like I expected and tasted fantastic, especially once I added some picante.

It was then time to head back. I spent almost as much on tips and on the photo package as I did on the tour itself and let me tell you that everyone deserved every peso I spent. What a fabulous day!

It was early afternoon when I got dropped off in Puerto Morelos. I had a shower and changed, then went out in search of a rum-based delicacy, which was easily found.

I made a new friend!

Dinner Sunday night was pizza reminiscent of the one I had in Campeche, but the crust wasn’t nearly as good. Food in Puerto Morelos was pretty pricey, so I was glad that I’d only have to get coffee Monday morning as I came back to the hotel (which had a fridge) with leftovers.

Monday was my last full day and I wanted to visit Crococun, the reptile zoo just north of Puerto Morelos. A taxi to get there was very expensive (400 pesos roundtrip), but it turns out it included the driver’s wait time so that I didn’t have to worry about getting back. The zoo gave me the local rate and said that if I was comfortable with a Spanish guide, I could have a private tour! I had so much good fortune with my excursions on this trip!

This little guy felt almost plasticky.

I walked among crocodiles, but only have videos of that experience, as well as that of feeding some hungry deer.

I saw lots of these when I was snorkeling.

I allowed to hold this adorable baby ball python!

This dog, a Xoloitzcuintli, was so happy to get cuddles! Soon as I showed up to his enclosure, he was begging for attention.

I bought a bag of food to feed a bunch of the animals, including the turtles.

I also fed this coati, who loved to play the same game Alma and I play, where I throw treats away from them and they need to run to find them. It’s extra fun if I manage to throw the treat into a hiding spot.

Once back in Puerto Morelos, I headed to another beachfront bar and this time opted for the best mezcalitas I’ve ever had the pleasure of drinking and some okay shrimp quesadillas (not the restaurant’s fault; shrimp quesadillas are better on the Pacific coast).

Tuesday morning, I had every intention of having a light breakfast, mindful of the long journey ahead, but the restaurant had mole! That’s passionfruit (maracuya) juice. Yum!

The cab driver who took me to Crococun had given me his number, so I called to ask if he could take me to where the colectivos leave for Cancún. We had such a laugh when we realised he literally lives next door to the hotel!

I could have taken a local colectivo/combi to get to the departure area for the Cancún colectivos, but the taxi wasn’t that much more expensive and saved me a lot of luggage handling in the heat. I’d met someone the night before who’d let me know that there were both minivans and minibuses to go to Cancún and that the latter took luggage. A helpful gal at the tourist information area told me that with a nearly 3PM bus back to Mérida, I should consider leaving Puerto Morelos at 11 as I was either going to get to Cancún in 45 minutes or 4 hours. As it turns out, it was the former! There was a colectivo ready to pull out as the taxi dropped me off, so I was whisked aboard and about 35 minutes later, we were at the ADO station in Cancún. I was ridiculously early, but had a Platino ticket, so a few hours of sitting in a comfy chair in the air-conditioned lounge with a good book sounded like the perfect way to end my vacation! I did head out at one point to get lunch. The time flew by, as did the journey home.

Where someone missed me! Alma was mad at me for a couple of days. 😆

I really enjoyed my trip to Puerto Morelos. I did find it quite touristy/expensive with too much English, but I still want to go back! I can’t wait to have a car to be able to travel more quickly around the peninsula. Hope you enjoyed my November post and that it made up for all the nothing in the months before!