The first reservation I made was for about a week at Casa Mexilio in Merida
We will hang out in Merida and visit museums and restaurants and find out what the city has to offer.
I made a car rental reservation with a company called Easy Way. for March 16 for travel into the Yucatan and we will keep it until we return it at the Cancun airport on April 3.
Our first stop in the Mayan Ruin country. Uxmal will be our main target but we will visit other places on the Ruta Puuc and perhaps visit a cave. Going for a guided hike is also a possibilty. We will stay at the Pickled Onion.
After a long drive south, we will stop at Eco-Habitat for two nights in Xpujil to visit Calakmul. From this town it will be an hour drive to the reserve and then another hour to get to the ruins. This was one of the real political powerhouses in its heyday.
The beach is next. We will stay at Maya Luna, an off the grid place consisting of four casitas on the beach and a restaurant.
Bacalar is next. It is famous for its lagoon of seven colors. We will stay at Casa Choo This will be the only time on this trip that we will rent an apartment. We are going for a more social expedition staying in rooms and small hotels.
Our last two nights will be at Casa Kay. It is a nice place at the beach after a long drive from Bacalar.
As you will see below, not everything went according to plan.
Friday, March 10
We are in Mérida, Mexico. . We arrived Tuesday early evening and breezed through passport control and customs, found a taxi, and came into town uneventfully. Roger was waiting for us and took us in and got us to our room. We had been told by the taxi driver that the weekly danzon event would be held at the local Santiago park, so we were abuzz with plans to find a bite and go dancing.
Thursday, March 9
I am going to jump in here to say after developing a cough and achy muscles I used a covid test and it had came up positive. Dawn had tested negative the day before and I, with the same symptoms, was positive. We contacted our host and what followed was a long day of figuring out what to do. Roger told us to stay in our room and his helper, Gabriella, would bring us coffee and later breakfast. He came back with a plan. He would move us to the top floor room where we would stay until we were covid free. In the middle of this discussion across the courtyard, my doctor's nurse called in response to my note that i had sent them on Patient Gateway.
Jan Hendrix Expo
Wednesday, March 8,
Before it became clear that we had Covid, we walked to the Zocalo and visited the Casa Montejo, a restored colonial mansion that also houses temporary art exhibits. Atlas, by Jan Hendrix, was an amazing exhibit. He was born in Holland but has lived in Mexico City since 1978. It is another example of art celebrating the natural world. The work is mostly black, white, and silver. Some of it is richly detailed etchings on silver plate, some is intricate embroidery. A free-standing sculpture of stainless steel-in the courtyard invited visitors to enter its curved, perforated space. I could not resist doing a little improv inside the sculpture. All the work has a lace-like, meticulous quality that must be extremely labor and time intensive to produce.
Dawn! unable to resist improvising in the sculpture
Are you shooting this, Stephen?
Etched on Silver
Finely embroidered with two colors of thread.
View from the top floor of Casa Montejo overlooking the Zocalo
Saturday, March 11
I think I am going to stop publishing the travelogue after this entry. It is too unreliable for messages about health. At the moment, we are doing well. We did not get the Paxlovid that our doctor at MGH wanted us to get, because it is not available here. But, thanks to Luciana who had a contact in Mérida, we now have a Mexican doctor who came to the house. He is prescribing drugs that have alleviated our discomfort, and who can direct our care if one of us takes a weird turn. He is about to become the doctor of our host because his doctor just retired suddenly, and Dr. Anthony will be the one who decides when we can leave quarantine. So I need to concentrate on getting well and the logistics of continuing our journey under these new circumstances.
We will continue to write when we can. We hope to get to the stories about the vultures that seem to be hanging over us since Cuba.
As always, thanks for reading and thanks for all the well wishes.
Much love to all,
Stephen and Dawn
Our Penthouse and Quarantine Spot
We moved to this casita-like room with the railing where the Vultures sat
that is fifty-four steps up from the street
which we have only been allowed to do once on our way up.
Tuesday, March 14
Hey, we are back. It is now morning, and we are on a cusp. Dawn is going to shower, get dressed and use one our two remaining tests to see what her covid situation is. I am waiting for Gabriella to bring me some meds to see if I can get my sluggish system to work again. Perhaps the meds we are taking and certainly the lack of exercise has done me in. Soon, our future will roll out in front of us.
But we have spent the past days, trying to emphasize the present. That means being aware of everything. We are warm, perhaps too much so in the late afternoon, but it cools off nicely in the evening. We are still healthy although a little more precariously so. We are together. That is for sure, but we are used to that.
Well, it didn't work out exactly as we planned. Dawn did test positive, but now has fulfilled the time requirement that allow her to leave quarantine as a masked person. I have also, but I am stuck in the room as my system recovers. But Dawn gets invited out and goes with Roger and Jorge to the comedor where we first ate when we arrived and danced. She takes the food out because she doesn't want to remove her mask. She returns and we finish the movie we were watching. Then to bed and tomorrow will be a new day.
Wednesday, March 15
This is the first time I can go downstairs and pour my own coffee. Then we went out, of coursed masked, for breakfast, got some pesos, and took a long walk today.
I think we have escaped them. Turkey vultures have been circling overhead in Havana, Trinidad, La Boca, and now here in Mérida.
When we came down with Covid, I thought uh-oh, they're waiting for us to become carrion, their next meal. However, today, after six days of quarantine, we are out! I felt like a hermit crab emerging from its shell! Having walked only from bedroom to bathroom to deck for six days, we were out of practice. I did do my home workout/yoga practice once I felt well enough during quarantine. So today we took almost a five-mile walk, doing the Paseo Mantejo with its old colonial mansions that have become either hotels, banks or other businesses. There's even a Walmart in what looks like a former museum. Coming back to the deck and sitting here this evening, I see no vultures. Good sign. Not ready yet.
In la Boca, the birds would be flying below our level up on our deck as they cruised around the town looking for a meal, so I thought maybe they had forgotten about us. But when we were in quarantine and I was on our patio, I looked up behind me and saw the three of them, (Are they always three?) on the railing of the deck above me. Not flying around pretending to be interested in something else, but just sitting there, just checking me out, fifteen or twenty feet away. Almost all of me thought that this was funny, but the other part was kind of shocked. I turned back away from them and then they just flew away to the house across the street qnd I guess started bothering someone else.
Finishing up in Merida
Wednesday, March 17.
This was our free day to walk around Mérida with our masks on. We walked along the Paseo, the city's fancy blvd.
The monument Patria, our turn around point on the Paseo
Plaza St. Lucia, with a lot of activity at night
Later, we took an evening walk. We were trying to get back into shape for the next leg of the trip, visiting the Mayan ruins south of Mérida.
Mexilio Airbnb Review
We started out in the ancestor's room, but ended up in the top floor room, the "penthouse" because we had to go into quarantine. This was the best room possible because it had plenty of light and was very airy. The view over the city was nice, and at night it cooled off nicely. It worked for us and would be very nice for anyone visiting Mérida. Roger, Jorge and Gabriela took very good care of us, especially Gabriela who brought us food, liquids, and a cooler with ice, etc. She also went out to get us medicines as well. The Santiago neighborhood with its park and Mercado and weekly Danzón is interesting and enjoyable while being just a few blocks from the Zocalo and all its activities
Tomorrow, we will rent a car and head for some of the Mayan Ruins of the Yucatón peninsula. We are on schedule again, but just a bit shaken.
A great breakfast to send us out of Mérida
Thursday, March 16
The day called for us to have coffee, breakfast, pack up, pick up the car at Easy Way, pick up our bags back at Roger's and head to St. Elena to stay three nights at the Pickled Onion. Once we were there, we would take a swim, have a drink and eat dinner and go to bed. Easy day.
And it was. Maybe the Renault Duster was a surprise, a mid-sized SUV instead of the small car that I expected. A little big for us and now we are driving around in something we would normally scoff at. Did I mention that it was brand new. 57 kilometers on the odometer.
The pool is nice with a hammock hanging over one end of it.
Dawn in the hammock over the pool at the Pickled Onion
We had dinner early and shared the terrace with one other couple. The major language of the present group staying here is French, the guests are probably mostly from Quebec. After dinner, a little reading and then in the middle of the night when I awoke it was as dark as I have ever seen it. I saw not a glimpse of anything until I found the bathroom switch, and completely silent. Not a noise, whisper, car or truck. Just quiet.
Friday, March 17.
We did one thing today. We went to see Uxmal (oosh-mal). We took pictures. We got hot. The car thermometer said 40° Celsius. We marveled.
Pyramid of the Magician
Palace of the Governors
Stephen at an arch
Pyramid and the ball court
Dawn in front of the Palace
Looking back through to the quadrangle
Ball Court with Goal
We got a picnic hunch at the Pickled Onion which we ate near a parking lot. Okay but not the best. We passed on the Chocolate Museum, too indoors.We got into the pool when we returned and were in and out until dinner.
Saturday, March 18.
We tried to see the other four small places on the Ruta Puuc. One was closed and we spent only a short time at Kabah because it was overrun with school kids. We did cross the road to see the the big arch which I am glad we did. We had much fewer people at the other ones. It was another hot day which drove us back to the pool for a cool down. We had another nice dinner at our place. The pickled onion although small is really a resort. We just get to hang out and then when it is time for dinner, just walk over to the dining porch. After we return in the afternoon, our biggest decision is what is going to be our one cocktail for the evening.
Another view of the Arch
A big-nosed face
The wall of masks under reconstruction
The big arch at Kabah at the start of the road to Uxmal with Stephen sitting in for scale
Long Drive to Xpujil - Ecohabitat
Saturday, March 19,
We had another fine breakfast. Dawn did yoga by the pool. We paid our restaurant tab by credit card and were off to Xpujil. A four hour drive that surprised us quite a bit. The landscape was green with ranches and farms and much of it looked prosperous. There were hints of Vermont. Places were painted, the animals looked heathly and even fat. The road was good for the first three hours, before giving way to surprise potholes. It was all twolane with no shouilders and sometimes the bushes would creep ijnto the road. We stopped for gas at the first and only gas station that we saw in four hours. It is possible that until we got down to Xpuji we did not see a billboard.
We went out to a take out pizza place with an automated pizza oven. It has a conveyor belt that pull the piza through the small, one at a time, oven. It wasn't bad.
Our casita is hidden behind our car and is back in the woods.
Sunday, March 20,
We are staying at the EcoHabitat, basically a twoor three -casita motel, tucked back from one of Mexico's biggest trucking highways. We are here in order to visit Calakmul, a challenging two-hour drive each way into the jungle.
Monday, March 21,
At breakfast this morning, I mentioned to our host that it was my birthday. Half an hour later they showed up at our casita, guitar and flowers in hand, and sang us a beautiful Mexican birthday song. Stephen and I were both in tears at this unexpected act of human kindness. The flowers are a gorgeous, copious bunch of lilies, professionally put together. We got a selfie of Elisabet, José and us to remember this sweet moment.
José, Elisabeth, birthday girl and Stephen
The Symmetry of Hats
We started the drive from Xpujil over to Mahahual by stopping after a few miles to get gas. Coming out of the gas station Dawn realized that I had left my hat behind. I did it in the same way that Dawn had left hers behind the day before on the wy to Calakmul, by hanging it on the top of the mirror. The hats in both cases were too high to be seen by the last minute room check. It is easy to feel after having to go back for something that your whole life is behind where it should be. This idea fades by itself, but before that, it can feel like there are two of you, one drving along the road twenty minutes ahead and your own self toodling along right here now. It all has the touch of Quantum Mechanics, but then almost all weird ideas call upon that physics for justification.
First I need to say that Stephen has done all the driving on this trip so far. We paid for me to be a second driver, but until I get a cataract fixed, I am not super confident in my vision. In a pinch, with plenty of light, I can certainly drive. So yesterday was another four hours to get here, although the road was mostly excellent compared to the frequent potholes encountered the prior two days.
Mahahual is a major although small resort town, hosting big cruise ships and all that goes with them. We drove through it, and soon the buildings became sparser, the road sandier and had more holes as we drove south. Now we are at the secluded eco-hotel, Maya Luna, with its staff of three, one dog, and a child, and only a few guests. Electricity is all solar, and the Internet access surprisingly good!
EcoHotel Maya Luna
We start off with another picture of Dawn.
Dawn in another hammock in front of our casita with the sea behind
We had to relocate this morning. We went to the blue house from the pink house because the water stopped working. But our new house, while being almost exactly like the old one, was an improvement in all the little ways it was different. It had more light, a better view from the rooftop terrace, a better section of beach in front and the battery pump for the drinking water worked better. The wall hanging in our new room is beautiful.
Our new place
You have probably read about the mega seaweed infestation on the coasts of Florida and the Yucatón. It is pretty gross. Our host Jair or one of his crew cleans it up every day on our little beach front, but the odor lingers. This is probably another global warming phenomenon. The water here is downright warm and so shallow, you can walk very far before it gets above the waist. There's lots of karst underfoot so we are happy to have brought water shoes with their grippy, protective soles. Today was a pretty lazy day, although I did get a yoga practice in on the roof of our casita azul.
Stephen at dinner
Cloud at dinnertime
Thursday March 23,
Mayan and modern art
Having visited several Mayan sites now, I borrowed a book here on Mayan civilization, architecture and art. The most interesting part was the concluding speculations on why these communities disappeared. Everything from disease to climate change to tribal warfare to revolts by the workers was hypothesized. Probably some combination of all of these brought the communities down.
Although this is hardly a new idea, I was fascinated by the similarities of Mayan design and modern art. Abstraction and repetition of forms stood out to my eye. Although there were plenty of sculptural depictions of human and animal forms, they were surrounded by pure design elements in repeated patterns. Often the animal/human forms themselves appeared in repeated series such as the tortoise heads on one of the structures. Although some of these forms had religious implications, I think humans have always had some need for pure aesthetic expression
Arch over the Road, reminding us of the Mayan arches at the ruins
We took a road trip down to Xcalak, a town near the bottom of our peninsula. Too much further and you would be in Belize. On the way down, we drove on the coast road for a half an hour before cutting over to the highway. We got to see the estate of a former president of Mexico. We are not sure which one, but if he came to visit his palace he might be arrested for misdoings during his time in office. Xcalak has a population of 325 and is the last undeveloped for tourism towm on the Mayan coast. That is exactly what it looks like. Besides a couple of dive shops with rooms to let there is nothing for us to see. The place we stopped at for a beer had good snacks and we met a couple looking for some diving opportunities.
In the afternoon, we walked up the beach a little bit to an area that was protected from the sargassum by a small point. Also, there was more sand on the bottom. I tried my hand at snorkeling. At first there was nothing but soon I started running into schools of medium sized silver fish with a thin yellow stripe down their sides. I thought their were millions of them until I turned around and found that they were swimming in a circle around me, so just thousands. If I would swim into them they might change directions or once half of them did and that would create a moment of chaos. I eventually got over near some rocks and found a bunch of the small highly colored fish that I remembered from Hawaii. I think sargent majors and some kind of angelfish. Tomorrow I will bring Dawn over to this area. This is all at a depth of three feet or less. We now figure that the terns and pelicans that are fishing here are just diving into these tight schools and grabbing a fish by luck, good for them not so much for the fish.
Friday, March 24
Morning Views/First Our Pot of Coffee waiting for Us. Then View from the Breakfast Table
Dawn and I went back to snorkel. Dawn got to see the schools of silver fish but I could not find the other colorful fish for her. I had a moan moment when a group of anglefish went by organized as a vertical wall. The fish are the shape of squares rotated 45°s so they looked like tiles on a wall . I have not yet been able to find a picture on the internet to help explain this. I will keep looking.
Today the painting crew was here and in one day they prepped and painted two casitas. After dinner I noticed one guy still painting in the dark with a headlamp. All the furniture from the bar room was out on the porch because they were prepping that room. We ate in two rocking chairs using small tables that Jair brought out.
We have not mentioned this yet, but the place has been taken over three weeks ago by a new owner. We think it is a resort group so there is new money to upgrade and make changes. Yesterday anothr crew was running internet cable so they could install TVs in the four rooms. Times are a-changing. A pool is planned. At the moment, we are the only people here. There have been some cancellations, but a couple is coming in for the weekend, (maybe).
Saturday, March 25
Here at Maya Luna, there is a constant wind. It's a little hard to get used to, although the heat might be brutal without it. The only escape is to be in the casita with windows and doors shut, and that's not much fun, so we just live with it.
I did snorkel yesterday morning and love the shallow warmth of the water. Although I swam with schools of small fish, I never managed to spot the fancy ones that Stephen saw.
There was so much wind today that we made a video and later took some pictures. You can see how much we are in the jungle. The place is just hidden at the edge of the water.
The wind changed and brought the seaweed into the cove. In the distance you can just see the palapas of our place. This is what the beach looks like if you do not clean the beach
Dawn taking a break
Stephen's punk do
Our Modesty Doors
The newly painted yellow house through the outdoor dining area
Dining porch with hidden Dawn
Dining porch with wind screen down
We went into Mahahual to check it out. We parked the car and walked along the pedestrian only road that parallels the beach. I think it was a non cruise ship day so the place was pretty empty. There was not really any public beach that we could see. The town was just cheek to cheek beach clubs with bars and restaurants attached. Some of the beaches were protected by floating sargasso barriers. I think we are spoiled in beaches in other places in the world like the French island of Guadeloupe. There, for example Perle beach is a mile long with a group of restaurants at one end. No loungers, no waiters, no hotels, just beach and surf.
Perle Beach on the French island of Guadeloupe
So we are on to Bacalar, with its Lagoon of Seven Colors. For the first time during this trip we will have a kitchen and a coffee maker.
Thursday, March 29,
We are in Bacalar, the town of the lagoon of seven colors. We have been here since Tuesday and just settling in. We have a house called Casa Choo, that sits in a little garden next to the owner's house. We haven't taken pictures yet but we will. We got up early today and walked down to the lagoon and watched the sunrise.
Before Sunrise with the French Group
Just Before Sunrise
Sunrise Through the Clouds
Sunrise Finale for Us
We are staying in Casa Choo, run by Michel and Betsa, up in the neighborhood away from the lagoon, but near the fruit and vegetable store and the car wash where we got our brand new rental washed.
In the morning, we see a beautiful plant outside our screened in porch and walked by short coconut trees ready to grow some large coconuts, and a small house that has probably been here for a while. Wednesdays are strange in Bacalar in that they close the operation of boats on the lagoon to give it a rest. They discovered that during Covid when everything was shut down the lagoon recovered its animal population so they are trying to continue that recovery. It is unclear about swimming. I did a lot of research on Bacalar before we came here and I saw no references to this. It must be new.
One day a gardener was working in the yard, raking up leaves, etc., when he began to prune the palm tree. The palms fronds, which look light and lacey, turned out to be heavy because they crashed with a thump as they landed. He also cut dowm a bunch of Coconuts, twenty five to be exact. I know this because he threw two away, but two of them and presented them to us to drink, and later Michel counted twenty one to take to the bakery who used them to make cookies. He got some cookies in return which he also shared with us. The next day he did a recycling run, saving the beer bottles for another guy who was building a wall using them. i don't remember what he got for them but I think it was bread.
Michel is a Canadian ex-pat that has beeb down here for thirty years. When he bought the land that the two houses are on, it was just jungle. Now it is part of the town. He was a political and economics journalist. He spent time in Burma and Vietman. Before that he was a child film actor. Now he runs a BnB which he built and has a garden. He has two rescue dogs and a cat. He very casually found us many of the things that we ended up doing, although I found the sailing myself on Airbnb.
Our House is on the left with Michel and Betsa's on the right.
Their house at night with the swimming pool on the right.
Our Screened in Porch with View of Garden at breakfast time.
A Very Large Bird of Paradise (Lobster Claw) next to our porch
Walking Around Town
Coconuts When They are young.
A Small House in the Neighborhood
Public Access to Lagoon on Wednesday
Dog in the Botes de Leche Restaurant
We Visited the Eco-Park
We had a good start. We talked our way in fot ten pesos each because we are old. The walk is a square. It is about 200 yards out into the water, then 200 yards in the water maybe ten feet up parallel to the shore, then 200 yards back into the trees and then 200 yards back to the start.
Dawn, now with her swimsuit on. Look on our last page for the whole story.
Looking two directions from the walkway
Enjoying my day on the lagoon
Sailboat, about the same as we will use the next day
"Plastic Lasts Longer than Everlasting Love", a sign near the Lagoon at the start of the walkway
First we had to get the car washed. It was still coated with sand from Mahahual and I was worried about the finish of this new car. There was a car wash right on the corner but he never seemed open. We have been searching for one since we got here and finally thought we had found one about ten blocks away. Dawn found out that they had recently closed and now sold plants. In fact the woman tried to sell Dawn one. On the way home from this latest failure we saw that finally our guy was open. We pulled over and saw he was working on a car.
That one took about a half an hour and ours took over an hour to complete. We were running out of time until our sailing appointment. Dawn went back to Casa Choo to change her clothes and get ready.
When she returned, I went and did the same. He was still at it. Dawn went back to organize our bag so we could just throw it in the car and go. She looked up the word for appointment so she could explain that we had to go. He wanted to finish. We negotiated from twenty minutes more to five. Then he had to go next door to the store to get change. Finally we got the car and drove to the sailing location.
The next part I will try to make short. At 2:23, we started get messages that our meeting place had changed, but each message had a different location. I texted Laura to find more details and we exchanged a set of totally of weird emails. They made little sense. Finally, back at the original spot we met Victor and the day of sailing commenced. What had happened, we found out later, was that she dealing with Airbnb about some technical details of their page and I had inadvertently been included. It was all kind of irritating but all smoothed over in our extraordinary day of sailing.
It was the perfect combination of getting to know each other, swimming, talking about the lagoon, learning how to sail this small boat, silence, listening to the boat sounds. After our second swim in deeper water, I helped Dawn get back into the boat by pushing her up from the bottom. After I was unsuccessful in getting myself back in he showed me a trick. He told me to reach up and cross my arms. He took my hands and in one swoop pulled me up. I twisted as I came up and ended up seated on the hull. Halfway up I thought to myself this is never going to work. Actually, Victor did not tell what was going to happen, so ending up seated was a total surprise. I am just going to have to learn to trust people.
After that Victor helmed the boat as he took us to the various cenotes that are part of the lagoon and then return to the dock. A glorious day on so many levels.
The Hobie in the dock
Oh Captain, my Captain
Having a great time
From the helm
Sailing with Victor/Airbnb Review
What a wonderful way to experience the magical lagoon in Bakalar! My husband, Stephen, is a sailor and wanted to get out on a boat that he could helm. We splurged on a trip for just the two of us, well organized by Laura and professionally skippered by Victor. Neither of us has sailed a Hobie cat before. It was speedy and fun.
Victor is knowledgeable about the birds, the mangroves, cenotes, and local history. He speaks Spanish, English, German and French. . It was a pleasure to converse with him,and he helped me with my mediocre Spanish. Stephen enjoyed spending some time at the helm, with Victor's expert guidance. We also anchored and swam a couple of times. All in all, it was a wonderful way to spend an afternoon on the lagoon of siete colores.
On our last day I took a short video of this hanging mobile in the Casa Choo garden and played around with it a little. The Music is Bartok. I think it represents the Magic of Bacalar and really the magic of the whole trip. We have one more stop to go as we leave Bacalar and drive up the coast to the Blue Kay Condo at the Secret Beach.
Puerto Morelos and Home
We have moved up the coast from Bacalar to stay near the Cancun airport to prepare for our leap home on Jet Blue. We found a place on the beach with a great view.
View from our balcony
There are no big hotel, restaurants, stores or bars. Just couples or families hanging out on the beach with the kids body surfing in the water. We did find a larger place when we walked twenty minutes up the beach, but it was still pretty sedate. We did very little here. I worked on getting our boarding passes which included filling out a long form for the CDC.
A beautiful family restaurant, Siete Lenguas, with different takes on traditional Mexican food. The photo is looking past Dawn out to the tree lined street in Puerto Motelos.
The last Morning in Mexico
Wrap-up Thoughts from Stephen
I am going to go first and let Dawn have the last word.
I should have brought the cigar light usb adapter for the rental car. I thought that our USB A and C adaptors would work, but they didn't. The car seemed to be in the Android world. But I did bring a battery pack that powered the Iphone when after a day of navigating its battery was done. So that is a draw. The water shoes worked great. They protected our feet against various hard surfaces both above and below the surface. The new water filter worked great the few times it was called into service.
I learned some things on this trip: First, when Dawn has an idea I need to pay attention. Especially when something is going wrong and I am frantically figuring out how to make it right. This almost never includes asking for help. Dawn does, and knows how to do it. Secondly, I am going to cut back on the amount of time I allow to make our flights. In Cancun, we reached our gate a whopping two hours before the plane was to start loading. Just too much.
Here are some highlights of the trip besides the ones that Dawn will list:
Getting the taxi to the Fabrica del Arte and then getting him to return to pick us up.
Sitting in Biology class in Spanish learning about all the bones in the body with high
schoolers in Havana.
Walking into the Ojo del Toro restaurant in la Boca in Cuba.
Dancing with Dawn our first night in Mérida with a big orchestra playing danzón music.
The Pool at The Pickled Onion.
Climbing to the tops of the ruins at Calakmul, the only place that allowed it.
The Coffee Pot and milk pitcher waiting for us when we went to breakfast at Maya Luna.
Remembering at the last minute on the airplane to answer the questions on our MPC app and take some new photos of us. I was prodded by our seat mate who was asking us questions about returning to the US. When we got to passport control the app wanted us to retake the pictures. It seemed a nuisance but we did it anyway. The app accepted our new photos, then immediately processed our information and gave us a QR code. The mobile app lane was right in front of us and there was no one in it. We walked down to the front where there was a guy directing traffic. He asked us if we had a QR code and I said yes. He asked us to wait a minute and then directed us to lane 25 with 2 people in it. It looked like we have just cut a line with 250 people in it. I looked neither to the right nor left because I did not want to make eye contact with any of these people. In two minutes we were through.
Wrap-up Thoughts from Dawn
This was a long, interesting, and sometimes challenging trip. Stephen did an amazing job planing this complex itinerary. But for me, I think staying longer times in fewer places works better. Clearly getting Covid took its toll wth its exhaustion and malaise, as did the six days in isolation. For me, once again, the highlight of the trip is interacting with people, whether Cuban, Mexican, or other travelers from France, Germany, Finland, the USA. We found people to be kind, compassionate, and interesting.
I made a list a few goofy errors that I made on this trip, maybe related to being older, but I have to laugh at myself.
We walked at the Eco-Parque at the Lagoon. I hadn't realized that we could swim off the boardwalk there so didn't wear my swimsuit. As you can see from the photos, the intersecting boardwalks are very long, so we stopped at a corner where we could see no-one in either direction, and I proceeded to change into my swimsuit. i was so anxious about doing it fast and discreetly that first I stepped into the wrong leghole. Then took it off and tried again only to find that I had it on backwards! On my third try, I got it right! The only living things that may have observed this embarrassing confusion were the birds and maybe a crocodile in the Mangroves below.
I forgot to buy coffee for our last two days at Playa Secreto where we had a little kitchen. So we stopped in a town en route, and I went into a convenience store asking for cafe molido , ground coffee. The clerk showed me a large bag, so I asked for something mas pequeño. He showed me small packets that contained enough coffee for three cups. I bought two. When I got back to the car, Stephen said I should buy two more, so I did. Well, when morning came, we went to make the coffee in a pourover filter and discovered that it was instant, soluble in Spanish. I had assumed it was ground because I had asked for that. It was not very good
Stephen had chosen for lunch in the part of Puerto Morelos that is not right on the water so we had to make a U turn from the main highway to get to a place. I was looking at the map on the phone and completely missed that U turn. Now we had to go quite a bit farther before we were able to turn around and get back to the restaurant. It turned out to be worth the extra travel time. We were the only non-Mexicans in the family run place, and the food was great
Well, one morning I actually saved the day. The route to return our car to Easy Way Car Rental was kind of tricky. We did everything correctly until Stephen missed the turn into the car rental place itself which was just a dirt road and came precipitously in the middle of a curve. So we pulled into the next driveway which luckily was another car rental place. It was the kind of situation where it looked like we would have to drive on a huge loop thruogh road construction for at least another half hour to return to the correct entry which was only a few yards away by foot. I told Stephen I would get out and talk to a person at the other rental place. She spoke fast Spanish and no English, but I managed to explain the situation. She said we could park the car there and walk back to the Easy Way car rental place. I think this must happen with some frequency. Lo and behold, it worked! The guy at the gate of Easy Way teased us saying we would have to drive an hour to get the car back to their lot. But instead we walked down to the office and we presented the contract. Someone then walked back with us to the car in the lot next door, inspected the car and right from there drove us to the airport. Phew! That saved a lot of time and aggravation.
Aside from wonderful people and mostly great food and Margaritas, there were many highlights on the trip. To mention a few:
Albaro picking us up on that hot, dusty road out of La Boca, Cuba and taking us to Playa Ancón
Sailing and swimming on the stunning colored lagoon with Victor in Bacalar
Visiting the impressive Mayan ruins throughout the peninsula
My birthday serenade and flowers from José and Elizabet
Ocean swimming with perfect sized waves our last two days at the Playa del Secreto
Doing yoga on the roof of our casita at Maya Luna
Going to Havana's Fabrica del Arte
About to Head Out the Door of Blue Kay
Now on a Jet Blue flight heading to Boston, I look forward to seeing friends and family, daffodils and tulips in our garden and doing lots of laundry! Thanks for reading.
After all those sunset and sunrise pictures, We think this is the best. It is off our own back deck in Roslindale.