A Perfectly Mundane Day in Paradise

I was up and at ’em this morning because I knew I was facing a very difficult transcription job, my first one since mid-October (not counting a tiny easy one I did in Nogales). I’m officially back at work full-time! Anyway, I knew this one was going to be a bear and the best way would be to chop it up into bits and give myself good breaks.

I stopped around 9:00 to get some fruits and veggies and then I headed down the street to the butcher shop to hopefully get pork chops for dinner. They only had one, so I decided to save it for lunch another day and instead do chicken tonight, since I am insane. I have no problem buying pork from that shop because it is prepackaged and frozen. Chicken gets chopped up in front of you and the less I say about the process, the better. 🙂 I plan to do like last year and get my chicken cooked for me from the Chicken Lady on weekends, but she wasn’t working this past weekend and I wanted chicken. It was $49 for two huge chicken breasts and a good sized pork chop. I didn’t take note of the price per pound, but I did the math last year and meat is way cheaper here than what I pay in Canada, even for pork, which is a decent deal back home.

I got home and got to work on the chicken. I’m used to the orange colour of the flesh, but had a hard time getting past the odour last year, the main reason I gave up buying my own. But this chicken didn’t have that smell, yay! I chopped it up and threw it in a bowl, then doused it with some Italian dressing. I happened to have an unopened bottle left when I was packing and I use it almost exclusively as an easy chicken marinade on days when I’m not feeling too creative.

Once the chicken was in the fridge, I went back to work before changing into jeans because I was going riding at 11:00! It was just my friend Joan and I today because Janet only just arrived and Sue won’t be here till the 4th of December. Well, there was a family from Chicago, too, but our groups got separated because Joan and I are way more experienced. It was fun to catch up with Daniel and, like last year, our ride doubled as conversation lessons! We also got in two canters and got a chance to see the new pathway under construction near the beach. I’d call it a boardwalk, but it’s made of sand. 🙂 I’ll hike out there another day and get pictures.

Even though we only wanted to be out an hour, we were out almost two! Time just flies when you’re on a horse, even if your creaky body is protesting. 🙂 I cannot get jaded or blasé about how amazing it is to canter down a palm tree lined beach with a glorious tropical sun beating down at me. This is the Good Life I’ve heard so much about!

My bad knee was completely locked up by the time we returned (I have to remind Daniel to get me another saddle; I had a hard time with the stirrups on this one last year, too), so it’s a wonder it didn’t collapse when I dismounted. I should learn to dismount from the other side, even if I’ll get odd looks. But it makes no sense to drop onto that leg since it’s a recipe for getting hurt. Anyway, I was pleased by how easily I was able to mount and dismount, as it showed me that I’m in better shape than I thought I was!

I was famished by this point, so I headed home to make a quick lunch and get back to work. By 3:00ish, I only had an hourish left, so I headed to the beach for a beer, chips, and salsa. I was disappointed that my pico de gallo had no peppers in it and the server offered to either have serranos added to it or to bring me another salsa that is spicy and I could mix the two. I decided to go that route and the combination was very yummy! I can’t believe food not being spicy enough is now a problem!

While I was enjoying my snack, there was a group of drummers making music with a few gals putting on a dance performance. I left them a tip, so my break cost me all of $70 for booze, entertainment, food, and tips! I love it here! 🙂

When I got in, I made the final push on work and finished at 6:00. For dinner, I sautéd a chayote with some onion. Dang, I missed chayote! I made sure to cook the chicken well past the point I would have called it done back home and it was very tasty! I added an avocado squirted with lime juice as a side. Since dinner was so reasonable, I had a small bowl of the pineapple coconut yoghurt I also missed as dessert!

Ringing In the Last Ride

Today was my group’s last riding session till November. 🙁 I had a new, wonderful horse, but a really bad saddle I had a couple of weeks ago whose stirrups twist my bad leg. So it was a rather 50/50 ride, half great fun on a good horse and half agony no matter how much our guide tried to adjust to adjust the stirrups. It was a gorgeous walk on the beach with the super high rough waves beside us and almost no one out since swimming is prohibited.

We only rode one hour, but made it count with a lot of cantering. Even though my stirrups sucked, I felt safe on the horse and went at it, hanging onto the pommel for dear life since my stirrups weren’t worth anything! 🙂

My guide didn’t like my dismounting technique and tried to show me how to do it. I cobbled together enough Spanish to tell him that I have a bad knee, he has a bad saddle, and I couldn’t dismount properly because my leg had seized up. I hope I didn’t make him feel too badly and I emphasized that I still had a great time!

We all gave him an extra 100 pesos as a thank you gift and he was quite touched. He refused to give me a goodbye hug, saying that we are going to see each other on Isla in the next month. He’s such a good guy.

After riding, my friend S and I went to Carmelita’s to meet ‘her’ jewellery guy. I had mentioned to her on Saturday that I’ve been looking for a snake ring for years. I stopped biting my nails in December 2011 and after the one-year mark, I wanted to buy myself a ring to celebrate. But I don’t like to just go out and looking for something like that; it has to find me.

So whenever I ran into silver jewellery vendors, most notably in Nuevo Progreso and Pensacola Beach, I shopped hard, to no avail.

The problem is I know what I want and I won’t spend money until I find it. I was looking for a snake and had a very particular idea of what I wanted said snake to look like.

So S told her jewellery guy that her friend with big fingers was looking for a snake ring and he said that he would bring a selection with him for me to look at today. That would give him an idea of what I’m looking for and he could search in greater depth if I didn’t like what he had.

Well, he had one that not only fit, but that I liked! It’s a bit bigger than I had in mind and it is not real silver, so it’ll only last so long. But I got it for just 100 pesos (down from 150), which is a very fair price.

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This one will do just fine until a real silver one finds me. And who knows, I might have slightly smaller fingers when it does. I have dropped a whole ring size (from nine to eight) since I started looking!

Monday Ride

Mondays are usually my quiet day, so I was happy when riding day changed to it. However, I am having an INSANE Monday! I’m working on a standby project for which I need to be chained to my desk in order to start files immediately when I receive them in order to send them back as fast as humanly possible.

Thankfully, a time zone difference meant that the riding block could still be accommodated, so I got some much needed social time and exercising.

At one point, Janet commented that my English was a bit strained and that I was searching for words. I’ve been doing a lot of transcripts lately from non-English speakers and was working with Hebrew this morning, so I’m finding English to be rather muddled today! My Spanish was in fine form, though, and I chatted at length with our guide about my work and home back in Canada. The informal language lessons are a real bonus!

Unfortunately, the ride wasn’t so great. I rode Diamante again and he was just not there today. He would occasionally stumble, try to trip the other horses, buck, and just stop randomly. I cantered a few times, but he wasn’t in the mood and the rides were not smooth to the point where I was worried about falling off. I requested a different horse for next week and will get one.

It was still a pleasant couple of hours, though! The beach was gorgeous and we did a brief spell through a coconut grove. What a life!

Horseback Riding, Safari, and Language Lessons

Well, it’s been another amazing day on Isla! I went riding for the second time and our one hour ride turned into TWO! Wow! We were taken all over Isla to the point that most of us were completely lost. Remember, Isla is not actually an island and there is a lot of ground to cover!

We started on the beach.

Heading onto the beach for the first part of the ride. We did lots of cantering!

Heading onto the beach for the first part of the ride. We did lots of cantering!

Love low tide on the beach.

Love low tide on the beach.

What a great surface for a canter!

What a great surface for a canter!

As if any reminders were needed that I have the best life ever. :D

As if any reminders were needed that I have the best life ever. 😀

And then we headed inland.

Heading into the coconut grove.

Heading into the coconut grove.

We saw several coati (téjón). Our guide was adamant that they are not raccoons and I look forward to telling him next week that they are in the same family as raccoons. 🙂

Fields of squash.

Fields of squash.

And then our ride turned into a safari. I wasn’t very quick with the camera, unfortunately.

We passed a turtle.

We passed a turtle.

Mrs. (?) Turtle posed for a picture.

Mrs. (?) Turtle posed for a picture.

I saw cranes and FLAMINGOS here!

I saw cranes and FLAMINGOS here!

I saw where mangoes come from!

Heading into the mango grove.

Heading into the mango grove.

It felt like a whole other world in there!

It felt like a whole other world in there!

The mangoes are just starting to come in.

The mangoes are just starting to come in.

We did some literal bushwhacking:

Heading into the bush. Our guide was ahead hacking a path with a machete!

Heading into the bush. Our guide was ahead hacking a path with a machete!

These cacti looked like an alien creature.

These cacti looked like an alien creature.

We came to a part of Isla that was once used for playing baseball.

We emerged on a flood plain.

We emerged on a flood plain.

The remains of a horse.

The remains of a horse.

More of the alien cacti.

More of the alien cacti.

Coconut graveyard.

Coconut graveyard.

We passed a people graveyard.

The old cemetery.

The old cemetery.

And came to a new graveyard. I was riding in the back and the guide yelled out “Chica that speakay Spani, comay translate!’ (with all due respect to him and his accent!). We all joked that our rides are just a cover for language lessons!

The new cemetery. The folks resting here are all immediate family of our guide.

The new cemetery. The folks resting here are all immediate family of our guide.

Those of us who had been to New Orleans were reminded of its graveyards.

Those of us who had been to New Orleans were reminded of its graveyards.

Heading back towards the main road.

Heading back towards the main road.

This truck is just like mine. It once passed me on The Road and the driver yelled out 'Hola, gemela' (Hi, twin)!

This truck is just like mine. It once passed me on The Road and the driver yelled out ‘Hola, gemela’ (Hi, twin)!

Pretty flowers at the stable.

Pretty flowers at the stable.

Pretty dang good value for 100 pesos, huh?

I’m not nearly as sore as I was last week at this time as my saddle and stirrups were much more comfortable. My horse was a little headstrong, did a lot of head tossing, and was uncomfortable to ride at walk and trot, but was soooo smooth at canter! I could have cantered all afternoon on him!

We’re riding again on Monday. Can’t wait!

Back in the Saddle

My friend Janet organized a beach trail ride for today with two other friends and myself. This was her first time inviting me and we are going to try to make it a weekly event for the four of us since we get along well and the cost is only 100 pesos for an hour!

There are lots of horses on Isla, but some are better cared for than others. The ones right on my street are sickly and dirty with protruding ribs. I would not have felt comfortable riding such a horse.

Lending a sharp contrast, the horses we rode today appeared nearly as well tended as any horse I’ve ridden back home. They were obviously well fed and groomed and had decent saddles.

Janet is a very experienced rider, having owned a horse for years. Next up with experience was myself, and then one lady who has been riding casually on Isla the last few years and another lady who has only ridden two or three times.

Our handler paired us with a mount suited to our experience and off we went to the beach. I regret not bringing my camera because what a memory that would have been, the tide low, the sky bright blue, and the palms and ocean framing us. Wow. How did I get to be so lucky?!

We mostly walked and trotted, but we did get in a good canter in both directions. It was absolutely exhilarating!

My horse, Diamante (Diamond) and I fit well together. I had no trouble posting at trot and was well seated for an exceedingly smooth canter. My only complaint was the stirrups digging into my ankles since I had to wear my Keens, not having had the foresight to bring my cowboy boots to Mexico.

Our guide was hilarious, joking about how lucky he was to be riding with four gorgeous women. Between our guide’s limited English and my Spanish, we were able to banter back and forth, learn about each other and Isla, joke, and have a great time.

I still have no complaints about my Mexican life, the recreational opportunities available to me, or the cost of living. 😀