The Last Ride

Today was my last ride on the beach. 🙁 It was just Sue and me. We cantered a tiny bit, but were content to mostly just amble and talk. She leaves on Friday and we have one more activity planned before then.

I came in ravenous and with no pressing workload, so I pulled on a pretty dress and headed to town for lunch on the Malecón. For the first time ever, I decided to take a pulmonía there. I almost burst out laughing when the driver quoted me $70, telling him he was crazy and that I could get to Mega for less than that. Suitably chastened, he dropped the price to $50, which still felt steep, but was acceptable. We had a nice conversation on the way there and when we pulled up to the restaurant, I had to gently refuse his marriage proposal. I think that was my fourth one this winter… 😉

El Fish Market impressed me so much the first time I went that there was nowhere else to consider today since I wanted something special. I opted for the “brochetas mixtas” (mixed brochettes) with sweet peppers, onion, shrimp, chunks of salmon and mahi-mahi, and “callos,” which turned out to be scallops! I declined the potatoes and asked for some tortillas instead. Not a problem and… the chef subbed a lovely salad of romaine, tomato, onion, cucumber, and lots of avocado! Wow! I hadn’t seen a salad on the menu that seemed “subbable” for potatoes, so I’m glad it’s an option. There was some of their really good coleslaw and, surprise, they make their tortillas in-house on a comal. I am certain of this because they are just like the ones I make at home, drier and charred around the edges, and puffy in the middle almost like a pita. The fish and seafood were fantastic and very generously portioned. Two people could have had a decent lunch of this if they had the potatoes instead of salad. I added a cold Pacifico and a generous tip to come out having spent $220 (17CAD). Might as well enjoy the good life while it’s affordable!

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I then meandered my way back to the embaracadero, popping in at Ley for a few sundries.

I’ve got less than a month left…

Mercuriality

It was incredibly windy yesterday, with huge waves breaking on the beach and a storm warning for today. It made for a very dramatic ride.

I woke up really early this morning and when the sun finally rose, it wasn’t sure what it was doing. It would shine for a moment and then be blocked out by heavy grey clouds that would spit angrily. This went on all day.

Because I had worried about losing power if there was a storm, I only had a very light load of work that I was able to complete by about 10:00 this morning, and that included an unexpected proofing project that had dropped into my inbox around 7:00. I puttered all through the rest of the morning and into afternoon, then decided to go out.

Even though there was more blue sky than cloud cover, it was still spitting and quite cool as I reached the nearly deserted beach. Semana Santa is coming up fast, so I might as well savour these quiet beach days while I have them. No restaurants had seating set up on the beach and some were cleaning up palmas from their palapas. So the beach saw some action that I missed in the last 26 hours.

I came off the beach at the Goat Island causeway and headed towards home. The empanada guy was coming out of someone’s yard as I did so and I called him over to see what he had left. It’s a good thing I don’t run into him often because I cannot resist his fruity flaky treats! His empanadas are basically a folded over circle of pie crust with a jammy filling. Today, I went for strawberry. They taste best with a cold beer, so I stopped off at the Mercado Isla de la Piedra, a tiny shop kitty corner from the butcher shop, to get a few Tecate Light. They don’t carry Pacifico, but otherwise have a good selection of beers for such a small shop, including XX in cans.

Here’s a map of my world (and my walk today — click to embiggen):

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A Usually Special Morning Made Extraordinary

I’ve been riding every Monday morning since I got here. It is a cherished couple of hours out of my week. My riding group is wonderful and there’s something to be said about riding down a beautiful palm tree lined beach with a tropical sun beating down on you. Our guide, Daniel, has even let us go out on our own a few times so I have gained more experience and confidence on a horse.

Such was the case today. It was just Sue and me, so Daniel told us to go on and he’d join up with us for the ride back. The weather was just perfect, with a cool breeze and fluffy white clouds. Our horses were chomping at the bit, so we loosed the reins, dug in our heels, and let them fly.

On the trip back, Daniel asked why we didn’t want to go back through the forest and I explained that it’s because of the mosquitoes. I then told him all about the mosquito-borne disease from Africa that has reached North American shores and is causing babies in Brazil to be born with little to no brain. We then talked about the cost of life in Canada and the shock I’m going to experience at produce prices. Sue can follow a little bit and we’d frequently break to have her repeat words and make sure she was following the conversation, and we’d do the same for Daniel with English words.

As we were nearing the end of the ride, we came across a giant green coconut right in the middle of the road. Daniel scooped it up. When we got to our hitching posts on the beach, he set the coconut on a stump he uses to help people mount the horses, pulled his machete out from under his horse’s saddle, and hacked at the coco until there was a drinking hole. Sue and I split it and we both raved at how fresh and cool and flavourful the coconut water was.

But Daniel wasn’t done! He then used the machete to split the coco in two and hacked off a bit of the husk to make a spoon. He then fed us the coco meat! I’ve never had green coconut meat before and it was marvelous. I’ve heard it described as slimy, but it wasn’t unpleasantly gelatinous at all, very cool and smooth and sweet and filling.

Such a special morning deserves a special lunch so I’m off to the beach for a beer and something shrimpy!

So I Finally Had a Shrimp Burger at Tony’s…

Today was another very full day! I got my work done ahead of the deadline and waited for my client to confirm that he had received it, which he normally does promptly. Half an hour later, I got an email asking where the work was. I had successfully sent it, so I went to downdetector.com and learned that Gmail was having serious issues. So nothing I could do about it other than slip the job into a shared FTP folder on my server, Skype my client to let him know where to find the file, and to wish him luck with his email issues.

The not fun part of the day done, I had a late breakfast and then greeted Janet around 10:30. It was just the two of us again today for riding, but we didn’t go out on our own. Daniel was in a feisty mood, with today’s Spanish lesson being fall of naughty words! That Monday morning hour and a bit is so special and magical. As if riding on a beautiful tropical beach wasn’t enough, we get the linguistic lesson thrown in as a bonus. I really treasure my Monday morning ride.

I got in around 12:30 and put together a few things so I could run a very specific errand in town. First stop on the other side was lunch! I’ve been hearing so much about the shrimp burger at Tony’s in the mercado from several unrelated sources, including Chris and Juan, that it was time to have it even if the last thing I needed after all that holiday food was a burger!

This is what I got for $60:

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I like how they avoid having to wash dishes…

It’s pretty clear from the picture that the burger is all about the bun. There were barely any shrimp (related, I’m sure, to the shrimp fishermen having a hard time this winter), but what was there was perfectly grilled and fresh, so points for that! There was also lettuce, tomato, and crema. I found that it was missing something and I was about halfway through when I realised that all reports of the shrimp burger had it with avocado on top. What was there was delicious. I like how the bread was toasted and there were definitely some spices or seasoning, plus the veggies were very fresh. I’ll have to try again on a day when Tony himself is cooking because while it was good, I was underwhelmed after all the hype.

Next stops were the two Parisinas (fabric stores) near the Mercado. One has more fabric, the other has more notions. I was looking for fabric for head scarves. I was a bit disappointed by the selection of fabric at hand, not finding any stretchy cotton, only polyester, but I came out with enough satisfactory material for eight scarves for just $120 between the two stores. I’ll have three in solid colours and five with patterns.

I was carrying a rather heavy bag with a scarf pattern; sample scarf; and two dresses, one of which I was hoping I could add to my order (hemming and straps) and the other being the model, so I didn’t do any other shopping and instead headed straight for the seamstress. It’s not my fault that my favourite nieve de garrafa vendor was on that route… 🙂 I haven’t been there much this year and I was still recognised! The owner told his helper to give me two scoops of prune and one each of my two other choices even before I had ordered! So that was four scoops for the price of three. They are small! Four scoops is less than a standard scoop of ice cream, and not nearly as rich since there’s no cream in them. I sat on a bench in the Plazuela Machado for a break to eat my treat.

From there, it was a few blocks to the Costura Express on Carnaval. The lady I had spoken to last week wasn’t there, but her sister was. Between my Spanish and her limited English, we figured out what I wanted and she even called her sister to confirm my order and find out if she could do the dress, too. Yes, for $80, which puts that dress at the same price I would have paid if I had bought it finished. Perfect! I really understood their conversation, including where she bargained the dress price down for me since I had the fabric for the straps. I will get to pick up my order on Saturday! I’m so excited since I’ve been wearing the same three scarves for ages. The new scarves will be $70 each, plus $15 each for the fabric, for a total of $85 each, 5USD at the current exchange rate. I paid 30USD each for my current scarves! It will be nice to have that dress finished, too. I’ve worn it strapless around Isla, but it’s way too casual to wear into Maz.

I then headed back to the mercado to pick up some fruits and veggies, stopping at a few vendors until I got most of what I wanted. I was ready to drop by this point, but still stopped in at the Ley on Melchor Ocampo, which has been totally revamped! I got some more fruits and veggies (half each of a cabbage and pineapple) and meat.

Thankfully, my friend Sue was on the lancha coming home, so we were able to walk a good part of the way home together, giving me something besides my exhaustion and heavy bags to focus on! 🙂 I got in, had a break, then made a ginormous veggie and beef stir fry for dinner. I really like how the beef is sold in such thin strips here since it marinates in no time. I just threw it in a bowl for about 20 minutes with a minced clove of garlic, the juice of two (tiny) limes, soy sauce, and sushi vinegar and it came out so tender and flavourful!

No map of my day, sorry, since Google Maps aren’t cooperating. It was about a 5KM excursion.

Now, time to unwind so I can get to bed on time and be up and at ’em for 5:30. It is going to be a tough day tomorrow because there will be no power on the whole Isla after a transformer blew up in the Colonia yesterday (a guy who lives two doors from where that happened told me all about that on the lancha coming home). Needless to say, I’m worried about work. Hopefully, TelCel will work well enough for me to get through my day. I am also going to try plugging my modem into my inverter to see if my TelMex connection could work that way (the only reason it would be down, I’m told, is for lack of power, so…). My truck battery has a full charge, so I’ll have enough power, even if I have to charge my laptop for a bit. There’s no sense fretting about this until power actually goes down tomorrow. I’ve been told the outage will officially be 6AM to 2PM (my entire shift!), but that, in fact, it shouldn’t take more than three to four hours. We shall see!

A Very Special Ride

It was just Janet and me to ride today and Daniel decided to let us go out on our own!!! He must have told me, “¡No caiga y no te mates!” about ten times to me before we went out. That means, don’t fall and don’t kill yourself! LOL!!! Janet didn’t get that warning since she had her own horse for twenty years!

We had a lovely time riding along the beach, just chatting and taking a break from our Monday Spanish lessons. 🙂 It was a pretty cool (by Maz standards) and overcast day. The horses were feeling lazy since Daniel wasn’t there and so we only got in two short canters.

When we got in, Daniel had us dismount, then changed his mind and asked us to take the horses to a place on the beach where he ties them up. So we got back on, happy our ride wasn’t quite over.

Then, Janet came back to my place to get her things. I needed to go to town, so I asked her to wait while I changed so I could take the (expensive) lancha over with her. On the way, we ran into Sue, who is waiting for internet installation, hence why she didn’t go out with  us. I got a tour of her newly renovated one-bedroom suite. It’s really lovely, with impeccable decor.

I was going to grab a bus right at the embarcadero, but Janet suggested she show me where her seamstress is since I’d asked about her. The lady spoke good English and I had her examine one of my headscarves to see if she could make me some if I provide her with a pattern (which I have) and fabric. Yes, and for only $70 each! I am going to raid Parisina next week and hopefully get enough fabric for ten scarves!

Then, Janet offered me a tour of her house! She lives in Playa Sur, a suburban neighbourhood. The house she and Grant are renting is huge and rather close to what I’m hoping to find in Mérida, with white walls and lots of dark wood, as well as an interesting floor plan. I was impressed.

(Their dog remembered me!)

It was almost 2:00 by this point and I really needed to get going since I was going all the way up to Rico’s for coffee and then on to Soriana to get holiday meal things. Conveniently enough, the bus I needed was coming up Miguel Alemán as I reached it and I successfully waved it down! That saved me quite a bit of walking because I expected to have to walk to the Mercado to grab it!

It was a long bus ride, but since I got on so early in the route, I had a window seat. I timed my getting off chime almost perfectly and got off just three or four businesses before Rico’s.

Thankfully, they had Veracruz this time! As she was ringing me up, the cashier complimented me on my piercing (which was lovely of her!) and asked me where I got it done. Not in Maz, sorry! 😀

Then, it was time to make a decision. Even though I hadn’t really eaten yet today, I didn’t really have much of an appetite so I thought of getting back on a bus to go to Soriana. But it was so cool and overcast that it seemed a waste not to get some exercise out of this weather, so off I went, promising myself an ice cream if I did so!

Well, I passed Ta’Loco and decided that I was peckish enough for a couple of tacos. I fell into the plate of cucumbers with salsas and found my missing appetite! The meal was exactly what I needed, not too heavy, healthy, and super cheap, only $37 with the tip!

I still had room for that ice cream, of course, so I went to Thrifty’s and decided to try their amaretto ice cream, which had cherries, nuts, some sort of cakey bits, and, of course, almond flavour. Dang!

By the time I made it to Soriana, I was pretty tuckered out and hoped that I’d find what I needed there, otherwise I would have had to double back to Mega. I went to the deli counter first and looked at the hams, finding one for a full $200 less than at Mega. We’ll see how it tastes! I also bought cloves and dark beer to cook it with, but struck out on molasses. The beer was funny. I wanted just a single bottle or can and ended up picking up this imported beer bottle from Germany with a label written in German only! I can very barely sort of fake my way through reading German and the absurdity of wishing there was a Spanish translation was not lost on me!

I then picked up a few more odds and ends that I needed and was beyond ready to call it a day. Of course, this meant that taxis were severely lacking. I must have waited fifteen minutes for one, and, yes, I crossed the Soriana parking lot to flag one down on Rafael Buelna!

Here’s some of the change I got at Soriana. At the top, a $10 coin, as I’m used to seeing them. Below, a brand new shiny $10 coin. I like how they mellow in their old age!

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For Ed, here is a map of my day:

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There was activity at the house as I pulled in with my taxi since Wandering Mike is coming to stay in the little suite for the week and my landlady’s mother was getting it ready. This means no loud parties over Navidad, yay! I can’t imagine wanting to stay in that suite super long term like the nut did last year, but it’s awesome for a week or so since you get a kitchen in addition to the bedroom and bathroom for much less than the price of a hotel room.

I took the opportunity to politely complain about my lack of hot water situation. I didn’t really notice that the water heater wasn’t working well when it was super hot out, but now that it’s chilly in the evenings, I do. My landlady is going to have a ‘suicide head’ (I think that’s what the Gringos here call them), an electrical on demand water heater, installed shortly. I hate to make a fuss and I understand that wanting hot running water is a Gringo thing, but a hot shower is the ultimate residential luxury to me. I could have dirt floors and no glass in the windows, but if I have unlimited hot water, I’m happy!

After hearing Sue and other renters complain about how slowly things get done at their places, I’m once again grateful to be here in my ugly bunker of a house. My landlady is great about getting stuff done. Even though I said that I don’t need this problem fixed this week, it very likely will be!