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!

October 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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October was difficult.

I had some health concerns that sent me a new doctor who sent me for a lot of tests that resulted in my going to a couple of specialists and getting even more tests. I finally got some answers, am in treatment, and may eventually share the journey because Canadian women my age need to be aware of just how lack of access to adequate healthcare has caused us harm. At any rate, despite how worrisome everything seemed in October, it really wasn’t that bad at all and I’m doing great.

But poor Xtiga did not fare so well. She really struggled with her change of circumstance and even 9 months in, she just was not eating well. Her vet diagnosed her with a heart condition that she has probably had all her life. We got her on some meds that helped for a while. But she was an elderly cat who’d had a terrible recent trauma and she just couldn’t hold on. I made the difficult decision to let her go in October.

One of my last photos of her:

Both she and Bonita now watch over me while I work:

Now on to the better parts of October. I started the final Strike book and absolutely devoured it. I really recommend this series. Books 5 and 7 are my favourites. 6 was a disappointment, but I’m glad I stuck through because 7 read itself.

Our heat wave persisted, LOL:

We had an eclipse!

The office of the first doctor I saw is close to my favourite brunch spot, Las Enchiladas, that I order from a lot but had never visited in person:

I ordered my favourite, enchiladas in crema de chile xcatic with their delicious habanero sauce:

October was the first scheduled maintenance of my water system. The filters were barely used. The technician said that the company is growing and they are exploring putting smaller household clients like me on a once-a-year maintenance plan at a lower monthly cost.

I thought I saw a flamingo on my way to Pilates once morning, but turned out it was a giant shrimp 😂:

My girls at the end of October:

If you’ve stuck with me this long, stick with me a bit longer because November’s post is going to, and I say this non sarcastically, be riveting!

September 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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Oy, there is not much to report for September, but I promise, there is good stuff ahead! I was just staring at the finish line of the original three-year house purchase and doing the final big income-earning push before I could reap the rewards of all my toil!

I did make it out for tacos at least once:

Forget ducks, getting your cats in a row is where it’s at:

Sadly, the English bookstore Between the Lines announced its closure, so I took an afternoon to get a big load of discounted books. I happen to be well into that top book of the pile at the time of writing this post.

Around the corner across from Santa Lucía is a new kinda weird but fabulous restaurant that serves Thai-inspired noodle dishes as well as Swedish meatballs. I’ve eaten there twice now and love it! The food is fresh and full of vegetables. This is their pad Thai:

Spa day at the dentist came with a fabulous new view!

I wasn’t able to resist one of those sketchy ads on Facebook and to my delight, my order came quickly and was just as advertised! Isn’t this cute? I love it for when I have cold coffee.

August 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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August was the month of Barbenheimer! I’m mad I wore this dress to see Barbie rather than my pink gingham similar to the one she wears in the movie. 😆 I saw the movies on back-to-back days, so that was a fun weekend!

I don’t usually get popcorn, but I did to see Barbie. This is cheese-flavoured popcorn with cheese Ruffles mixed in. Mexican junk food is amazing!

I usually get my movie ribs at Chili’s, where I always get a giant margarita!

Those of you who follow me on Instagram probably remember how my front door lock broke in August. I just love how everything here runs on Whatsapp so efficiently. I found a local locksmith through Google, Whatsapped him my photo, promptly received a diagnostic that I needed to replace the mechanism along with a very reasonable quote, and not even 30 minutes later, he was leaving my house, the job done!

Another service I love is Uber Flash, for getting packages across town without you. I’ve done shopping on days where my cleaning fairy is here and sent the shopping home in its own Uber for her to put in the fridge while I went on to another store. In August, I wanted to buy this dish from an online seller across town. Since the value was so low, he was comfortable calling it an Uber and I was comfortable transferring him the money from my bank account. We would not have made the transaction if I had to pick up or he had to deliver.

My girls in August:

My big virtual challenge for 2024 was to walk from the southern to northern tip of mainland Great Britain, Lands End in Cornwall to John O’ Groats in Scotland (where I was last in July of 1998!). In August, I was halfway there, in Yorkshire, where I spent the early months of 2016. At time of writing, early January, I’m 96% of the way there with only 56KM to go! I started in March and am therefore going to complete the journey two months ahead of schedule.

I’m afraid September won’t be much more exciting as house closing plans began to ramp up in August and I was extra focussed on making as much money as I could to put towards closing fees now that I had a better idea of what those would be.