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 MalecĂłn. For the first time ever, I decided to take a pulmonĂ­a 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!