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Month: February 2020

It’s a whole new world

It’s a whole new world

29-Febrero-2020, Sábado. Mérida, Yucatán

It’s a whole new world to explore. Today we checked out the markets. Vamanos al mercado! (Let’s go to the market!) English is not widely spoken here in Mérida. I NEED TO LEARN SPANISH.

Across the street from Burger King is the Rectoria El Jesus Tercera Orden.

Baroque style Rectoria El Jesus Tercera Orden. Construction started in 1618.

Across the small square from the Rectoria El Jesus Tercera Orden is the Gran Hotel. Next time we stay here. Great deal only $5USD more per night. Gran Hotel Across the small square from the Rectoria El Jesus Tercera Orden is the Gran Hotel. Next time we stay here. Great deal only $5USD more per night.

As we were admiring the architecture a local gentleman kept talking to us. We were thinking he was giving us the hustle as a tour guide. Turns out he was a genuinely a nice guy. He talked us into going a half a block out of our way to see the architecture on the Mercado Principal Taller de Arte Maya – Hunab Ku.

Hunab Ku is a Colonial period Yucatec Maya word roughly meaning “The One God”.

What a find! The store was like walking through a Mayan cultural art museum. It’s an old home that has been made into a shop.

Back on our way to the market….

In the 16th century the Catedral de San Ildefonso was built on the site of Mayan ruins T’ho. If you look closely you can see Mayan glyphs etched in some stones. The Catedral de San Ildefonso, seat of the bishopric of Yucatán, was the first cathedral to be finished on the mainland of the Americas. Ground breaking 1562. Completion in 1598. (36 years)

Adjacent to the Cathedral of Mérida is the Passage of the Revolutionand Museo Fernando García Ponce.

Passage of the Revolution
The statue slowly turns to chrome

The Casa del los Montejo was built between 1542 and 1549 by the Montejo family ( conquerors of the Yucatan Peninsula). Possibly the only example in Mexico of a civil house built in the 16th century Plateresco style.

Many of the sidewalks are extremely narrow along the heavy traffic streets. they are built for the smaller Mayan people not the big gringos like Dale and I.

We made it to the market section of the city. To say it was huge is an understatement. The flowed from block to block building to building.

The booths seemed to be loosely organized in product sections. The trick is to find the section you are looking and then try to decide which of the 10+ booths to buy it from.

The crowds were overwhelming 1.1 million people in the city of Mérida. At least half of them were shopping today!

Food or Pets? Live animal section.

Cages are sold in the hardware section. That’s a few rows down. Fried fish section is adjacent to the live animals section …. Ugh germs!

Back through the clothing section to the hardware section.

And then there was the purse section, the uniform section that had the orange jumpsuits trimmed with reflective material, the underware and bra section, the meat and poulty section, the flower section, the children’s backpack section, the manicure section, the photo section, the gold section, the silver section, the cell phone section, and on and on.

Heading home. It’s way past siesta time.

After una siesta we were off to Plaza Grande for our evening walk.

Buenas noches

Pok-Ta-Pok is ceremonial ball game played by the Mayan with great honor, The game began once the priest had finished the purification and the invocation of the gods. Essentially a solid rubber ball, weighing up to 9 lbs, is bounced between teams while trying to knock it through a hoop, only using hips.

It’s miraculous players didn’t leave the ball court a bloody mess with all the sliding onto the cobblestones in an attempt keep the ball bouncing instead of rolling.

The second demonstration was a fireball version of Pok-Ta-Pok. Hands were used to toss a fireball through the hoop.

All in all it seemed a little sacrilegious to play Pok-To-Pok honoring Mayan gods in front of Catedral de San Ildefonso. But hey, the Mayans were here first weren’t they?

Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)

I’m not sure how everyone could tell Dale and I were tourists. Was it because of my sleeveless shirt, sunglasses, hat, canvas bag and camera? Because of Dale’s Ron Jon shirt, shorts and baseball hat? Or because we were at least 8 inches to a foot taller than a lot of the locals.

I tried talking Dale in to buying a Guayabera, also knows as camisa de Yucatán (Yucatán Shirt) or wedding shirt.

Towards the end of the 1800’s the Guayabera was the shirt of choice for upper-class Yucatecans who brought them on frequent trips to Cuba. Since the ’70s the Guayabera became so popular a slogan was born: Yucatán is the door to the Mayan world, and Mérida the world capital of the Guayabera. Guayabera Jack is one of the oldest producers of Guayabera shirts and owes its fame to the quality of their materials and artisianship.

Huipil – traditional Yucatán dresses. The huipil has been worn by indigenous women of the Mesoamerican region (central Mexico into Central America) of both high and low social rank since well before the arrival of the Spanish to the Americas. It remains the most common female indigenous garment still in use.

I’m amazed at how they can keep them white! I sure couldn’t.

The road to Mérida

The road to Mérida

28-Febrero-2020, Viernes. Mérida, Yucatán

Gracias Cozumel por permitirnos vivir brevemente entre ustedes en su encantadora isla. Espero con ansias nuestro regreso.
Thank you Cozumel for allowing us to live briefly with you on your lovely island. I look forward to our return.

We sprung for a taxi leaving the Casa Cereza rather than roll the little wheels on our suitcases down the streets and sidewalks. $2.50 USD

The MSC Meraviglia docked at Cozumel last night. It is the cruise ship that two other nations refused dockage due to corona virus fears even after the sick crew member had a confirmed diagnose of common seasonal flu. Mexican President Lopez Obrador said Mexico had to act with “humanity. Passengers will be let off the boat today.

8:00AM departure on the Ultramar ferry. Yesterday’s El Norte was still blowing at 16 mph and gusting to 20.  Waves were rocking the ferry enough to make boarding it a bit of a struggle. The captain had to bounce bow and use his thrusters to move the ferry off the pier for departure.  I’m glad neither Dale or I are prone to seasickness. There was more than one feeling of weightlessness as the ferry porpoised its way to Playa del Carmen across the 5 foot high 6 second duration swells.
Ferry was $20 USD for the two of us. If we had local cards (expats living here) it would have been $6 for the two of us.

9:30AM quick stop for breakfast and a cappuccino across from the Palacio Municipal

10:00AM arrival at the ADO bus terminal for our 10:30AM bus to Mérida. Tickets were $50 USD for the two of us.

The bus ride to Mérida was not scenic. All this land was torn up and fried by the meteor which destroyed the dinosaurs 66 million years ago. Forested, trees grow between rocks in soil until they deplete the nutrients and die or fry up and die from the heat. I saw one small herd of Brahman cattle. Couldn’t help wondering what exactly were they eating?

I have a lot of admiration for the Mayan culture for them to establish a strong presence here in this bleak land.

Our bus seats were in the second row from the front. Close enough to hear the bus driver sing his way to Mérida.

Our new home sweet home at $48 per night. Good deal. Breakfast included.

The hotel is quiet and clean. The matrimonial sized bed (double bed) will fit us just fine. It’s been a long time since I’ve slept double in a double bed.

After a brief rest we walked the perimeter of the Centro/downtown area. The architecture, markets and food here are supposed to be amazing. Our walk and supper was just a tease.

Buenas noches

The little guy starts running faster as the seconds count down.

Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)

Mérida is the capital and largest city in Yucatan state of Mexico. (Bigger than Cancun) The Mérida metropolitan area has more than 1,161,000 people, ranking 12th in 2019 among the most populous Mexican cities.

The city, like much of the state, has heavy Mayan, Spanish, French, British, Lebanese and to a lesser extent Dutch influences. Mérida has the highest percentage of indigenous population within any large city in Mexico. The Maya are approximately 60% of the population.

Dive another day

Dive another day

27-Febrero-2020, Jueves. Cozumel

Dive another day. An El Norte swirled in last night. The harbor is closed. Our final dive here in Cozumel was cancelled 🙁 Mañana we leave for Mérida.

Our last walk aboutFinal glimpses

My favorite hacienda.

The top of the door in the below old hacienda wall is about even with Dale’s shoulder. Perfect height for the Mayan peoples.

About town

I really love this mural. This is Cozumel to me more so than any other mural.

Buenas noches

Huichol bead art. Woo Woo. The Darth Vader mask the bead lady was working on last week is finished! Could be yours for $800 USD

Good night Darth.

Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)

In the Huichol culture, there can be no art without religion or religion without art. Religion is not a part of life. It is life. The gods are everywhere including the trees, hills and lakes. Even the lowly stone has a soul. These intensely religious people immerse themselves throughout their lives in this awareness through ritual and the execution of sacred symbols. Both colors and designs are important.

The Huichol refer to themselves as Wixáritari (“the people”) in their native Huichol language. They live in the Sierra Madre Occidental range in the states of Nayarit, Jalisco, Zacatecas, and Durango (north central Mexico). Huichol is recognized as a national language in Mexico.

Huichol beading is a style of beadwork. Beads are placed onto the wax and pressed in. The specially formulated wax mixture does not reject the beads as it hardens.

Other traditional Huichol art includes the Ojo de Dios (God’s eye) and Nierikas (yarn paintings).

Carnaval takes its last breath

Carnaval takes its last breath

26-Febrero-2020, Miércoles. Cozumel

There is not a description that can bring you close to the reality of Carnaval. There are experiences that have to be lived firsthand in order to feel the collective enthusiasm and become infected with good vibes.

Carnaval takes its last breath 💃 🕺 Tonight was the final Carnaval event, the Award Ceremony and Traditional Burning of Juan Carnaval.

Setting the stage

I have come to realize that a scheduled event always starts 1 hour later than publicized. I of course arrived for the scheduled time. The ‘Toot Toot’ song played 4 times before the event started.

A lot of money was awarded in a plethora of categories. Here’s just a few of them.

concurso de alegóricos – allegorical contest

Allegory (I had to look this definition up)
An allegory is a work of art, such as a story or painting, in which the characters, images, and/or events act as symbols. The symbolism in an allegory can be interpreted to have a deeper meaning. … An allegory, meanwhile, uses a particular metaphor throughout an entire plot.

concurso de comparsas – comparsas contest

Comparsas (I had to look this definition up too)
Group of people parading together at a popular party in disguise, often in costumes of the same type.

concurso de disfraces categoría de mascota – costume contest pet category
Dale’s favorite ‘Eco-Pops’ (the outhouse guys) won the ‘Funny’ award.

Sarah’s favorite float, the T-Rex, won the ‘Fantasy’ award.

Trophies were awarded too.

Part of Carnaval is centered around a Mestizo character named “Juan Carnaval”. Legend has it that Juan Carnaval had sex with over a thousand women from eight countries, with whom he had countless children. He was stabbed to death by his jealous wife.

Juan Carnaval

Juan Carnaval’s comical will and testament is read on Ash Wednesday where he leaves his inheritance and recommendations to politicians and personalities of the community.

Will and testament read by the Rey del Carnival (King).

A stuffed effigy of Juan Carnaval is burned every year for the cleansing of the carnavals’ and community’s sins. Gone are all the bad vibs!

It started to rain so it was hard keep the Juan Carnaval buring. One fireman was squirting lighter fluid on on the fire from a can. I think my dad told me never to do that.

And so it ends. Carnaval takes its last breath.

Buenas noches

Ladies Salsa Dancer Trophy

Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)

Carnaval 2021 will be February 10-17. Start planning now!

Martes de Carnaval

Martes de Carnaval

25-Febrero-2020, Martes. Cozumel

The term ‘Fat Tuesday’ is not a really Latin country thing. In Cozumel, it is simply the name of a bar restaurant on the Benito Juarez Park plaza. In Mexico today is called Martes de Carnaval (Tuesday of Carnaval).

Carnaval troupes have been performing on corners through the city for the last 24+ hours around the clock. Dale and I were awakened to a drum troupe at 2:00AM on a corner a block away. We’d have gone to watch it but were concerned we’d scare the snot out of Sarah if we woke her coming back in the middle of the night.

Faces of Carnaval

Mariachi pants – horse head rivets

Staging the Parade

The parade staging area gave me an opportunity to look up close at some of the magnificent floats. Wish the day was sunnier. The floats shimmer when the sun comes out behind the clouds.

Vendors

Down to the Details

Another round of way to many pictures 😉

LOL. The parade is coming back. We can tell by the vendor stampede. There was a race to get out of the way.

vendor stampede

The parade looks much more vibrant once it gets dark. About 50% of the groups heading north cut out before turning around and coming back south. Some dancers looked as fresh as they did starting out. Others looked exhausted, having given it their all.

Two reasons the parade moves so slowly: people are always running out and taking pictures with the characters or dancing with the dancers (especially the scantily clad ones).

Crowd shots

Thanks Cindi Trautwein for the below crowd pictures.

Buenas noches

Sweet dreams.

Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)

‘Mardi Gras’ is French for Fat Tuesday. By its Latin roots ‘Mardi Gras’ means the ‘removal of flesh/meat’. Mardi Gras became a holiday in 1582, when Pope Gregory XIII placed it on his Gregorian calendar the day before Ash Wednesday. It first appeared in North America in the late 17th century with the LeMoyne brothers’ claim on Louisiana. Although carnaval is widely celebrated, ‘Fat Tuesday’ is mostly a South American, a USA (New Orleans) thing and several other places.

The Tobins, we celebrate Fat Tuesday. Un ultimo pecado …… (One last sin.)

Great marketing by Oreo. Cookies and milk packaged together.

The traditional colors of Mardi Gras and the beads started with the king of the first daytime New Orleans Carnival in 1872. “He picked the colors to represent royalty: purple for justice, gold for power and green for faith.

In some countries, the today is called “Shrove Tuesday” after shrive, which means “to confess.” “This refers to the unofficial custom of going to confession on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday as a way of shedding sin and guilt before the spiritual journey of Lent.

The masks worn during the celebrations were to escape class constraints.

The Money Bar

The Money Bar

23-Febrero-2020 Domingo, Cozumel.

The Money Bar is exactly that … a money bar. Money-only bar. No credit cards accepted. It has a small reef popular for snorklers but the weather today was not in our favor.

Buenas noches

Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)

Cockroaches are believed to have originated more than 280 million years ago, in the Carboniferous era.

Because they are cold-blooded insects, cockroaches can live without food for one month, but will only survive one week without water.

A cockroach can live for a week without its head. Due to their open circulatory system, and the fact that they breathe through little holes in each of their body segments, they are not dependent on the mouth or head to breathe. The roach only dies because without a mouth, it can’t drink water and dies of thirst.

A cockroach can hold its breath for 40 minutes, and can even survive being submerged under water for half an hour. They hold their breath often to help regulate their loss of water.

Cockroaches can run up to three miles in an hour, which means they can spread germs and bacteria throughout a home very quickly. A one-day-old baby cockroach, which is about the size of a speck of dust, can run almost as fast as its parents.

There are more than 4,000 species of cockroaches worldwide, including the most common species, the German cockroach, in addition to other common species, the brownbanded cockroach and American cockroach.

The American cockroach has shown a marked attraction to alcoholic beverages, especially beer. They are most likely attracted by the alcohol mixed with hops and sugar.

Sweet dreams zzzzzzzzzzzz

Here’s another picture just to help you sleep.
Let the Good Times Roll

Let the Good Times Roll

22-Febrero-2020 Sábado, Cozumel.

One of many pop-up dance troupes through out San Miguel between now and the end of Martes de Carnaval (a.k.a. Fat Tuesday).

Clown troupe at the Municipal Market.

Saturday Night – The first of the 3 Carnaval Parades. (Tonight, Sunday and Martes de Carnaval.)

Daddy and daughter off to see the parade

Anticipation is building

And so it begins 💃 🕺 💃 🕺 💃 🕺 💃 🕺

The parade rolls north up Avenida Rafael E. Melgar from Parque Quintana Roo to Plaza de las dos culturas. 1.5 miles up one side the parkway turns around and rolls 1.5 miles back down the other side the parkway.

🎶🎵 Let the whole world know that here is more!… Cozumel is carnival! 👑 🎉🌊💃👨 🎤🎭🎊

Many of the floats tossed beads and candy. Some tossed plastic Carnaval 2020 cups and balls.

OMG! I caught a ball and was going to give it to a child. Sarah quickly stopped me.

Whoa!

Intermission – The first half the parade ran from about 6:30PM to 7:30PM.

I couldn’t figure out why many of the vendors were vending bags of eggs. Ahhhh. Kids were having egg fights. The eggs were filled with confetti.

After a short intermission of fireworks, about 8:30PM the parade started coming down the southbound side of Avenida Rafael E. Melgar, our side.

and there was sooooo much more.

The End.

Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)

Carnaval de Cozumel is one of the top carnivals in Mexico. It has been around for over 140 years making it one of the oldest in the country.

It is one of two festivals in the Yucatán Peninsula that has preserved traditional expressions of historical value and has become an event of heritage for the state of Quintana Roo. Carnaval de Cozumel is distinguished by its long history, its cultural aspects, its organization, and its family character.

Just hanging

Just hanging

20-Febrero-2020 to 21-Febrero-2020, Cozumel.

Sarah!
Jueves – Day pass to the luxury, all inclusive Park Royale.
Viernes – Discover scuba with Eric Sr

Buenas noches

Oopsies. I just noticed my camera is only good to a depth 65 feet. Guess I shouldn’t have had it at 90 feet.

Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)

In terms of biological diversity, Mexico is said to be home to 10% of the world’s biodiversity.

cookie and snack diversity en la casa
Crowning Carnaval

Crowning Carnaval

19-Febrero-2020 Miércoles, Cozumel.

And what to my wondering eyes should appear? Hi Sarah!

Crowning Carnival

The to-be royalty arrive.

The Queen of Carnaval is crowned first and then she crowns her King.

The King and Queen of Carnaval preside over the crowning of the other royalty.

Combs or bobby-pins to hold the crown on???? Definitely bobby-pins. Sarah’s trained eye from having been Miss Rice Street and working with the West St. Paul Royalty picked that out quickly.

Quick stop at the grocery store to pick up milk, bread and cereal.

always something new to see – enchilada craisins.

Buenas noches

Squirt 81

Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)

Dale still makes the best grilled cheese sandwiches in the world.

Odds and Ends

Odds and Ends

18-Febrero-2020 Martes, Cozumel.

Odds and Ends …. a.k.a. laundry day. Just a bunch of totally random stuff I’ve been collecting.

Cement window wall and railing styles. Just a few examples of the cement window wall and railing styles around the neighborhood.

More Traditional style

Contemporary style

Railings

Transportation

Carrying stuff – Very resourceful carrying things on scooters. The best I’ve seen for carrying stuff is sheet panes of glass. Missed that shot.

Passengers – Children learn at a very young age how be a passenger. Simply amazing. Remember trying to keep your kids in a car seat? The max I’ve seen on a scooter is 5 (2 adults, 2 small children and a baby) plus a dog. Missed that shot too.

Lanes

Random Picts

There’s no good way to dispose of junked vehicles.

Joy rides

Marina and local police. Cozumel is a very safe place. There is a strong presence of military police and local, state and federal police.

Local police drive small cars like the one below or pickup trucks. I haven’t seen one on a motorcycle or scooter. They always have their roof rack lights blinking, not like in the USA.

This guy is waving to me ’cause I waved to him. (He’s not hiding is face. Just a bad picture.)

According to one of our local Mexican friends, if there is a dead body discovered on Cozumel it is dragged it over to a beach at Playa del Carmen and left for them deal with. The last time it happened was several years ago. A ‘scout’ from a mainland cartel came over and was stirring things up a little too much. One of the local, Cozumel cartels killed him and put a sign on him and left him down by the marina. Local officials found the body and unofficially moved the body and sign to a Playa del Carmen beach.

Buenas noches

Lets talk about food!

mixed seafood ceviche (no, I didn’t order it)
Ceviche is marinated in lime juice, cilantro, onions and tomatoes. It comes in pulpo (octopus), pescado (fish), caracol (conch), camaron (shrimp) or mixto (mixed). If you get the little conch eyeballs and mouth parts in you ceviche it’s called tuchitos (“little boogers” in Mayan)

In case of Montezuma’s Revenge while on your vacation, drink one part of Coca Cola and fresh lime juice to get a happy tummy.

Americano cut vs Mexican cut of meat
In big grocery store two cuts of meat are available; Americano cut which is thicker Mexican cut which is thinner. Only the prime cuts come in both cuts.
Elote (Mexican grilled corn)
Served smothered in mayo, sprinkled with cotija cheese plus a little hot sauce. Yum. The corn is not sweet here like it is the USA. It’s a little tough too. Good roughage.

Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)

Almost all the barber shops have the traditional red white and blue barber poles.

In 1163, Pope Alexander III ordered monks and priests to stop performing bloodletting anymore, so barbers started offering the service instead. During the treatment, barber-surgeons would give patients poles to hold, the original barber poles.

The look of the barber pole to indicates that they were prepared to bleed their patients (red), set bones or pull teeth (white), or give a shave if nothing more urgent was needed (blue). Spinning of a barber pole sign is meant to move in a direction that makes the red (arterial blood) appear as if it were flowing downwards, as it does in the body. The pole itself is said to symbolize the stick that a patient squeezed to make the veins in his arm stand out more prominently for the procedure. The original pole had a brass wash basin at the top (representing the vessel in which leeches were kept) and bottom (representing the basin that received the blood).

Dale thinks he needs a haircut. I’m encouraging him to grow a pony tail and work on a man bun.

We’ve become scuba snobs

We’ve become scuba snobs

17-Febrero-2020 Lunes, Cozumel.

Eric http://ChallengeDiving.com what’s holding up the show? The lines about 9 vehicles deep. (New officer at the gate.)

Hey you! You stole that cart from Bodega Aurrera. That’s either one hell of a walk with the cart or you put it in a pickup truck. I know it wasn’t on your scooter. Mr Aurrera probably hasn’t been down here for a while.

Siphoning gas to fill the tank. I was wondering how he was going to pour the gas in when he walked by with the container. Icky

Once again I have lied in this blog. You ARE going to get more scuba pictures. It’s just too cool. We went through some giant coral formations at Planacar Caves. My poor camera just can manage pictures of the big stuff. Todays pictures are from a different section of Cedar Pass reef. More small coral and different fish. Thanks Eric Jr for the pictures.

Small coral formations https://youtu.be/bUtTNHl27Dg You can really see how strong the current is.

Sea Anemone https://youtu.be/-MKQLuyziGs

Un-puffed puffer fish (porcupinefish) https://youtu.be/IgqYtQqBM6Q

School of Barracuda https://youtu.be/B74QTHfXw1c

Sleeping Shark https://youtu.be/xXOFKx_0iqw

Filefish https://youtu.be/AJO6Cxv03f4

Queen Angelfish https://youtu.be/UQr35vsy5Ck

Flounder https://youtu.be/6qifzWAEj7w

If Sunsets restaurant wasn’t along the way home we would make it home faster. It’s hard to pass up 2 4 1 happy hour when we are walking home mid-day in the heat.

We’ve become scuba snobs.

Sand Dollar Sports is right next door to Sunsets. They share patio access to a little reef. Sand Dollar Sports offers snorkeling, snuba and scuba access to the reef. Below is a group of people from one of the cruise lines gearing up for I’m guessing a ‘discover scuba’ class.

Buenas noches

She’s baaaack! Just in time for Carnaval. You can’t even tell where she broke her arm.

Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)

Termites which build these arboreal nests are called Nasutitermes walkeri and Microcerotermes. The arboreal nest is generally connected to another part of the colony in the root crown of the tree. These termites have mud tunnels to connect from the ground to the upper tree canopy. They can also have a maze of tunnels underground.

Scoot’n Around

Scoot’n Around

16-Febrero-2020 Domingo, Cozumel.

The Disney Cruise Ship is in the downtown harbor today. (Jim and Susan, this pictures for you.)

Scoot’n around. Scoot’n around. Scoot scoot scoot’n around.

And we are off north on Melgar as far as we can go.

Cozumel Country Club and Audubon Preserve

Past some of the industrial section

Southwestern side of Cozumel, rounding the tip then heading north up the east side.

Bufadores (Snorters a.k.a Blowholes )

Hard life for plants here on the east side

They got themselves a pig. A fresh one. Doesn’t even stink. It’ll be gone by nightfall.

Coconuts Restaurant is really coconuts.

View from our table

I looked down and there were chickens next to me!

But I hadn’t seen anything yet……. Looking across to the other table. One of the women was suddenly topless.

Her friends started join her….

I was going to join in but I was too busy taking pictures.

OMG!!!!! There’s going to be an encore!!!!

LOL. The staff suggested they move to a more scenic location for the picture. They walked right by our table. I followed them. And about a dozen men too.

It was a prettier location. (all but 2 were completely nude)

This poor lady was having trouble getting her thong back on. She put it on backwards first. Since she was standing right beside me and I’ve never worn a thong before, I asked how you tell the front from the back. She explained the decoration goes in front. Her husband had to help her.

Back in the city back running with the pack. It’s a live video game.

How things change. When we first got here we were afraid to cross the street. And here we are cruising Melgar!

Buenas noches

It was closing in on sunset as we started walking home from dropping off the scooter.

One of the biggest flags I’ve ever seen.

Rounding another corner we noticed the flag was being taken down and hurried over to watch. What do you do with a flag that big?

Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)

Mexico’s flag is made up three vertical stripes. The left green stripe stands for hope, the middle white stripe represents purity, and the right red stripe represents the blood of those who died fighting for Mexico’s independence. The picture of an eagle eating a snake is based on an Aztec legend.

In the fourteenth century, a group of Chichmecas (warrior nomads) called the Aztecs (or Mexicas) settled in Mexico when they saw an eagle (representing the sun) standing on a cactus (a symbol of the heart) clutching a snake (a symbol of the earth or Quetzalcoatl)—an image which is now depicted on the Mexican flag.

Kicked out of the nest (republished)

Kicked out of the nest (republished)

15-Febrero-2020 Sábado, Cozumel. (Republished – this time with pictures)

We have been kicked out of the nest now that we have completed our PADI Open Water certification. Eric Sr passed us off onto his son Eric Jr so we could have experience with a different divemaster.

One more day of diving pictures and then diving pictures are on a hiatus. (Thanks Eric Jr for helping take pictures and movies.)

Swim through

There are a bunch of bricks on the ocean floor sprinkled here and there. In the early 1900’s a ship in heavy seas lost part of its cargo. One of the reefs is named Palancar Bricks because there are so many bricks spilled in that area.

Divers come by and rearrange them to spell words or make pictures. Not sure what is spelled below.

You can’t tell from the pictures but all of these fish are 18 inches to 2 feet.

Fishy links

https://youtu.be/max5Io15crg

https://youtu.be/NeLCMr8u_tg

https://youtu.be/QkHyWoZ1gzM

Large eagle ray at Cozumel Cedar Pass Reef. https://youtu.be/oslK5Ey-ACI

I forgot my sun hat so we took a taxi home.  Our siestas started early today.

Buenas noches

Love this lady

Earlier this week she started on a Darth Vader helmet.

Tonight I see it is completed and on the shelf for sale.

Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)

Yesterday we dove in a group of five plus a divemaster and today we dove in a group of three plus divemaster. The maximum divers a divemaster can lead is eight.  Eric Sr told us when he started the ratio was one dive master was 25 :1.  He said it was a nightmare. Novice, newly certified divers were in groups with expert divers. It was hard to keep the group safe, under control and together.   Thinking herding cats.

Another interesting thing Eric Sr told us was that there are only 300 diving licenses for Cozumel. This means that a maximum of 300 client divers may dive on any given day. Divemasters are not included in the diving license count.  Snorkel boats don’t have license restrictions other than boat capacity.

Diving licenses cost $10,000 USD. Eric Sr owns his boat the Sleeping Shark and 10 licenses. Today we had 9 divers, four dive masters plus the captain on the boat. The other divemasters pay a fee to rent space and licenses to take their clients out on a boat if they do not own one.

70% of the earth is covered with water. Non-diver, I hope you enjoy your 30%.

Feliz día de San Valentín

Feliz día de San Valentín

14-Febrero-2020 Viernes, Cozumel.

Feliz día de San Valentín (Happy Valentines Day)

We celebrated by taking our first dive as PADI certified open water divers.

Lead weights used to help control buoyancy and trim. Some weights are placed in shoulder pouches of your BCD (buoyancy compensator device) vest and others in pouches at your waist. The old style dive belts with lead hanging from them aren’t used much anymore. The integrated BCD weight pouches are safer and more effective for weight distribution/trimming.

Along the way

We were on the outskirts of hell today and below is the picture to prove it. It was so hot walking home from the dive it felt like our clothes were being flat ironed right on our bodies.

Valentine’s Supper

Nothing says I love you like splitting a hot dog from a street vendor for Valentine’s supper. Romantic, sitting at this little stand right there on Avenida 30. Out there for any of the whizzing by scooters to hit us. 🙂

We’ve been walking by this hot dog vendor every night since we got here. He always has a line waiting for food.

We had ‘The Works’. A nice, toasted hot dog bun, slathered in mayonnaise, grilled hot dog wrapped in bacon, mustard, giant squirt of hot sauce completed with a heap of grilled onions. Divine!

Buenas noches

Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)

My fingers looked like moral mushrooms after getting on the boat from the second dive.

Blood vessels just under the skin constrict as an involuntary nervous system reaction to skin’s immersion in water. This causes the upper layers of skin to pucker and wrinkle.

We know how our fingers shrivel up when wet, more research is needed to validate why.

We’ve mastered the style of Mexican living

We’ve mastered the style of Mexican living

13-Febrero-2020 Jueves, Cozumel.

This is turning into a food blog

We went out to breakfast for a change. I got a traditional Yucatan breakfast. Scrambled eggs with chaya, fried plantain, chilliquias and black beans.

Chaya (Cnidoscolus chayamansa) is a shrub native to Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. It sometimes called or tree spinach.

Chaya is a good source of protein, vitamins, calcium, and iron; and is also a rich source of antioxidants. Raw chaya leaves are toxic as they contain a glucoside that can release toxic cyanide. Cooking is essential prior to consumption to inactivate the toxic components. Cooking destroys also destroys stinging hairs. (I should have checked out wiki before I ordered it.)

We’ve mastered the style of Mexican living. Can’t make it past 2PM without a siesta.

Jack Hammer completed the tiled wall!

Fitting in the second to last piece of tile.

The crew currently working on the condo is a lively bunch. Music playing all the time and the crew singing along. Loudly and laughing. I find it entertaining. Dale, not so much. I will agree though that it was a bit disruptive during our mid-day siesta today.

Cena (Supper)

We had supper this evening at la Kondesa. (.7 mile walk one way) Lovely restaurant with great ambiance.

The cat came with the food. She followed the waiter over and placed herself between Dale and I as the food was put on the table. Her ploy worked. I did feed her.

When our table was cleared the cat left, watching for the next waiter to serve food.

All restaurants have one or more pets.

Grocery Store

For people who eat out almost everyday we sure seem to go to the grocery store a lot. I can honestly say I haven’t cooked a meal since we came to Cozumel. Dale has done the cooking. (Thanks Dale)

I just like to look around.

Buenas noches

This design doesn’t seem well thought out ?

Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)

Mexican laws state that tequila can be produced only in the state of Jalisco and limited regions in the states of Guanajuato, Michoacán, Nayarit and Tamaulipas. It is made from a single type of agave plant – the agave tequilana (blue agave).

agave tequilana (thanks wiki for the picture)

Mezcal is a Mexican distilled spirit that is made from the agave plant. It does not have the restrictions tequila does.

Agave plant

El Centro. Three tequila shops within two blocks. The trendy new tequila flavor is peanut butter tequila. I’m not trying it.

Certified

Certified

12-Febrero-2020 Miércoles, Cozumel.

Our morning walk, along the way

This super yacht has been hanging around the harbor. It’s the only one we’ve seen so far here in Cozumel. Not like Exhuma Bahamas.

Plvs Vltra – Private. Not for charter. 5,000 mile range. Sleeps 12 plus 19 Crew.
https://www.yachtcharterfleet.com/luxury-charter-yacht-35277/plvs-vltra.htm

I finally found sombreros for pidgeons. I bought a dozen. All I need to do now is catch them and glue the sombreros on.

Men at work.

Certified!

Certified! Completion of the written test. Dale and I are graduates of the Open Water diver class for recreational scuba diving. We can now rent tanks and dive world wide.
Thanks Eric! You have been a great instructor. challengediving@gmail.com

Dale and I are a pretty good match. He and I got the exact same score on each set of exams, but got different question wrong. The exact thing happened we we took our USPS Navigation certification tests!

Buenas noches

Cozumel is filled with murals. Just like I finally had to quit obsessively taking pictures of VW Bugs, I had to quit obsessively taking pictures of murals. Here’s just a few.

Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)

Artists in Mexico can pay their taxes using artwork. ( I’m not sure if any of the above murals were ‘tax payment’.)

Kids! Send money!

Kids! Send money!

11-Febrero-2020 Martes, Cozumel.

Kids! Send money! Just wondering if this would work. We are having too much fun.

Casa Cereza (Cherry House)

La Casa Cereza where we are staying is alive with color.

We have only seen one fly the entire time we’ve been here in Cozumel. I’ve heard there are mosquitoes around but we haven’t seen any. La Casa Cereza is well made with simplistic beauty. Even in this well made home sunlight streams along side the door.

I’m pleasantly surprised I haven’t seen cucarachas in la Casa Cereza. This is extraordinary for a southern climate home where cucarachas are a fact of life.

Now ants, they are an interesting lot. There was an ant freeway from the bathroom light switch to the bathroom door. By the time I got the bug spray they were gone. Ants pop up briefly at various locations then quickly disappear. I think they are having rave parties.

Neighbors

Corpus Christi Church

Valentines Day is in the air

Buenas noches

A ferris wheel along with other amusements are in town for Carnaval.

The ferris wheel is powered by an old 4-stroke engine and pullies. The guy sits on a seat, puts it in gear and runs it like a car (while playing with his cell phone).

Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)

Caesar Salad Was Invented in Mexico
Legend has it that Italian-American restaurateur Caesar Cardini invented the salad in 1924 in Tijuana, Mexico. According to The Telegraph, Cardini owned a restaurant in the tourist destination to “attract Americans frustrated by Prohibition.

What do you call a rooster looking at a lettuce?
Chicken-sees-a-salad

Skip the Caesar salad. I want desert.
Walking On The Moon

Walking On The Moon

10-Febrero-2020 Lunes, Cozumel.

WOO WOO. Today we completed our PADI Open Water skills certification. (We take our written test Wednesday). Aquaman came out for the big event.

The guy to the left in the orange vest was checking license of all the dive masters and boat operators.

There were over 50 boats in the area where we entered our dive.

Walking On The Moon

Rolling of the side of a dive boat into the water is exhilarating! Full of anticipation you transcend from a heavily weighted into weightlessness and an alien world.

Do you know why divers roll backwards of the boat?
If they rolled forward they’d smash their faces on the floor.

skills testing at the surface

I’ve pretty much given up ‘trying’ to take pictures of fish. If they drift by me I’ll try to take a shot.
Así es la vida (This is life)

walking on the moon
baby barracuda in the deep blue sea
swims so wild
swims so free
The dive has come to an end. Signal for boat to pick us up.

Homeward slowly

Nachos at Sunsets. Jeronimo gave us 2 for one beer even though it wasn’t happy hour.

There is a small reef at Sunsets. As long as I was still wet from the dive I waded in and checked it out… Not much for coral but there was a lot of fish.

New uses for old dive tanks

Buenas noches

Jack Hammer is still at work on the tile. It’s been about two weeks since he started.

He has been working with a grinder that has no guard, with no eye protectors and no ear plugs. It’s kinda like giving tools to a 10 year old. Glad to see he has a safety line today. I’m not sure if it is tied off or if the other guy is just holding it. I suspect the later. 😮

Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)

The Mesoamerican Reef System (a.k.a. Great Mayan Reef) is just off Cozumel’s southwestern coast. It is the world’s second-longest coral reef system (only Australia’s Great Barrier Reef beats it) spanning about 600 miles along the coasts of Mexico, Belize and Guatemala to the coast of Honduras.

The average temperature of Cozumel hovers near 80 degrees year-round and the waters have 150-250 feet of visibility. The clear water helps sunlight hit deeper depths of the water, allowing coral to grow deeper and be more protected.

Today’s dive was a little murky and not sunny. It’s breath taking when it is sunny and the water is clear.

Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones

09-Febrero-2020 Domingo, Cozumel.

Game of Thrones. The votes are in. 💃 🕺 💃 🕺 💃 🕺 💃 🕺

👑 Rey and Reina del Carnival Alondra de la Rocha and Jorge Martin🎉
👑 Rey and Reina del Alegría (Joy) Diana Cárdenas and Víctor Cruz 🎭
👑 Rey and Reina del Fantasía (Fantasy) Laura Díaz and Oscar Zavalegui ✨

The performance was two hours of high-energy, non-stop, no intermission awe and amazement. Each king and queen candidate strutted their stuff for 20 minutes and four costume changes, with several different dance troupes. The square was packed for the performance. I had to raise my camera above my head, point, pray and shoot to take pictures.

JLo and Shakira we great Super Bowl halftime entertainment but queen candidates out danced them.

The problem with point, pray and shoot. You never know what you are going to get.

The above dance troupe was comprised of niñas (young girls). I’m guessing they are probably 12 – 14 years old.

Not all the dancers were young trim and svelt. A hand full of dancers looked to be my age and some were twice my size. They were all beautiful. I know I couldn’t dance like that. You go girl!

At some point I just quit taking pictures to simply enjoy the show. I can hardly wait for the Mardi Gras Parades!

Buenas noches

HAHA! The Hooter’s owl is a giant bobble head. It bobbles in the breeze.

Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)

Mexico is the world’s largest producer of silver (5600 MT) followed by Peru (4100 MT) and China (3600 MT). There are many beautiful pieces of silver-jewelry and silver statutes in the stores of San Miguel.

Every breath you take

Every breath you take

08-Febrero-2020 Sábado, Cozumel.

Every breath you take….. comes out of a can. ~21% oxygen and ~79% nitrogen. Same as the air we normally breathe.

My cousin Mark and his wife Tanya the Terrific are avid divers. They hooked us up for snorkeling with the dive master they use the first full day we were here on Cozumel. After snorkeling one day …  We Mary decided we need to do the Discover Scuba class. And then we Mary decided we needed to get PADI Open Water certified

Today was our fifth day of diving and our second day of our PADI Open Water Certification class.

I took a lot of pictures today but only few turned out … camera lense without a zoom, drifting speed, I needed to be lower in water, cloudy day, no flash light, crappy photographer … Oh well, I got what I got and then there’s mañana.

Taking picture of a reef is like taking pictures of the grand canyon or mountain range. You really have to experience it.
Looking good Dale!

It’s tough to decide if it is more fun to swim above the reef or along the wall or bottom. You see more detail the lower and closer you are but the panorama from above the reef is breath taking.

The current so strong in one area my water shirt was flapping in the wind water current.

Below is a No Stop/NDC (No decompression) time table. It very simplistically states that if you dive to a depth of 35 feet you are relatively safe to remain there for 205 minutes without having to go through decompression. It also implies if you have equipment failure you can swim rapidly to the surface with minimal decompression risk. (There’s a bit more to this, but close enough.)

I was surprised at how long we could actually dive without worrying about decompression. Our dives are approximately 50 minutes to an hour in length and we dive twice each time we are out.

And when you are only halfway in you are neither in nor out

Both sides

picture of the day
Two women trying to take a picture of the same dog. Me, I’m taking a picture of the women taking a picture of the dog. But since the dog is in it I guess it really makes three women taking a picture of the dog.

Pre-Mardis Gras party at the convention center

Buenas noches

Statue commemorating scuba divers.

Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)

The red poinsettia (which the Aztecs called cuetlaxochitl) originated in Mexico and is named after Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first United States ambassador to Mexico (in the 1820s).
This is the only poinsettia I’ve seen in Cozumel.