Friday, September 23, 2016

Sí Señor, We Have Pally Olly

Last night we had drinks on the mirador and a large group of squawking parrots flew over as if to bid us "Vaya con Dios".  There were a total of 13 in all. We don't know if the odd man out was a young parrot or a parrot that had lost its mate...I'm not up on my parrot culture.
As usual, Terry slept and I was the girl on the bus reading "The Girl on the Train", never being the one to nap and possibly miss something of interest. I did see some awesome birds out my window when we passed through the jungle. Some were blue and some were tiny and red/orange. I have no idea what they were. We arrived in Playa on time almost exactly 4 hours after boarding. We walked from the bus station towards 5th Avenue and the beach and found a cute little hotel for about $30 per night.
Hotel Courtyard

It had a pool and a nice shaded courtyard. After seeing the room, we took it. It was extremely quiet, although it fronted a busy street two blocks west of 5th Avenue. We took a walk down 5th Avenue and ended up having fish tacos, mojitos/beer at "Yo Amo Tacos" for lunch. In true Terry fashion, we bought beer at the OXXO and headed to the beach for an afternoon of beach, beer, and sun. Walked around and came in and napped then dressed and headed to dinner. We ate at El Oasis - ceviche mixto, coconut shrimp and seafood paella. It was all very good and we thought reasonably priced especially considering we were in Playa. Rather than eat directly on 5th Avenue we ate just a half block off, ie, big difference in prices. Our first night was an early one.

We spent the next two days eating, drinking, walking and beaching. For a short vacay, it ended up being super nice. I searched Playa for Jalederas de talavera but never found them, even though each vendor would assure me if I came into their shop they had them.

Our second night we ate wonderful Italian food and did the bar thing. Terry drank a really nice pale ale...several actually. We went to a really crazy, weird bar then thought we were going salsa dancing. When we got to the salsa bar, it was filled with beautiful and awesome dancers - all Mexican and all very good. We just watched.
Terry liked the pale ale so much that after breakfast and before we walked to the bus station the next day, we went back to the same bar and I had a couple of margaritas and Terry ordered a pale ale...while he had the drink menu right in front of him. The waiter was totally confused, "We don't have Pale Ale, Sir." He named off a number of beers they did serve. Silly us....ahhhh.....they had no pale ale, but
"Sí Señor, we have pale ale (pronounced Pally Olly!)."

Pics out and about in Playa del Carmen

Taken June 2016 in Playa

Taken Sept. 2016 in Playa...that's Bepto Bismal...again...eerily similar!

The souvenir we just couldn't drink before leaving for the airport...reluctantly poured the  tequila out to bring it home

Sign at the coffee shop

Our Happy Place

Friday, September 16, 2016

Taking Care of Business and Familair Faces

We knew our trip to Mérida was going to be a short one. We didn't know how much free time we would have as our primary purpose for heading south this time was to take care of banking business. We had received notification from the banco they needed documentation. The documentation wasn't something the Mx. bank actually needed or wanted, except that it was all part of complying with the USA/FATCA requirements. Originally we tried to contact the banco by phone and email, but to no avail. They needed us to show up in person. At first we kicked around the idea of going into Cancun and handling it at a branch office. We were told it was better to do in Mérida. We were in! And it was a good thing we traveled on to Mérida on Sunday. The plan was to get up Monday morning and spend as much time as needed to handle our business.
Going to the banco means we dressed up. That's what you do. I had on a skirt and Terry had on long shorts and a collared shirt. This was "official business" we were handling. 
While walking down Calle 59 in the center of centro, ran into Ernesto. As has become customary for him and us, he gave me a bracelet he was wearing and Terry gave him pesos in exchange. As always, he asked about his hermana and her kids.
Back to the documentation. The whole idea was to fill out a one-page form in Spanish of course, provide proper documentation to indicate we were who we said we were, and sign in front of a bank official. All to prevent the Mexican bank from having to withhold 30% of our balance and submitting to the US as if we hadn't paid taxes on the money in the account. Not something Mexico wants to do, but something the US is behind. We started out early enough and arrived at one of our bank branch locations, one of the big ones, on Paseo de Montejo shortly after 9::30. We waited a very short period of time before we were next in line for service. We had an exchange in Spanish and we could sense right away there was a look of "I can't help you". But he went and consulted others and about 20 minutes later came back and said we needed to go to the location where we opened the account. It's another story but when we opened the account we were up in the northern part of town...not a part of town we can walk to nor a part we frequent often. So we walked back down Paseo first and took care of other bank business - paying our fideicomiso. It was disappointing because they've changed their procedures and you no longer go to the back door and ring the bell, go up the dark back office stairs into the office where stacks of papers are piled up 2-3 feet on the desk. I kid you not. But that was fun and a little mysterious. Now you just go to a teller with your account information. But it was nice because the annual fee was less than what we had paid last year. Maybe they gave us a discount because we paid a month early. We don't really know why. 
So about an hour and half into our business day, we had gotten the fideicomiso paid and still had our mission unaccomplished. We hailed a taxi and went out to the small branch where we had opened the account. We waited for service about 20-30 minutes and then sat across the desk from a young, very professional account officer that took care of us. We both had the impression somebody from the other location had contacted him. It was as if he was expecting us. We had to give him our passports again so he could copy them, we had to provide our social security numbers, and Terry signed the form in his presence. We had bills with us from both the US and MX with our addresses on them as we didn't really know what all we may need. We also both carried our actual social security cards. But we didn't have to use any of that. I wrote down his name just in case. I don't know why or what I would need it for, but I have it. And he provided us with a copy. Done deal. We were through. 
From there we caught a taxi to the one place in all of Mérida that we are aware of that sells talavera tile. It was the place Paulino took us to purchase our kitchen tile. I was looking for Jalederas de talavera....cabinet pulls of talavera for the cabin remodel back home. No luck but it was fun to look around at all the gorgeous talavera tile. And, we had recently read an article where Paulino's name was given as the general contractor on a house remodel in town. It made us want to contact him and congratulate him. We hadn't really needed him for work on the casa in a while, but we missed seeing him and catching up on his whereabouts. 
It took us a while to find the best place to catch a bus back downtown. Terry started getting a little grumpy. Luckily we succeeded in catching the bus, and once we got back downtown we went and had a great yucatecan late lunch. Needing coffee at the casa, we walked over to Santiago for coffee and toothpaste. Would you believe when we left the store, we looked up and there was Paulino driving down the street? I think we recognized each other at exactly the same time. He pulled over as fast as he could. We talked for awhile and got to hear a little more about what he has been working on. It was super nice to see him. He will always remember us and the gas tanque story...we were two of the craziest, and stupidest Gringos he had ever met. And, funny thing about us is that we agreed with him. I know Paulino will never forget that story.

Terry and I had a discussion about the fact that it was Monday and our official business was complete. Do we stay around or head to the coast? By the end of the day, we had visited Julio's antique store and chatted with him. We had seen Ernesto, Paulino and Julio all within a few hours of arriving. We felt fortunate. So we purchased our bus tickets for Playa del Carmen scheduled to leave out on Tuesday morning at 6:40 am. 
That would put us at the beach before noon! 

Monday, September 12, 2016

No..not on Sunday

It's Monday morning and I'm sitting here in my happy of many! We arrived in Mérida yesterday for a short visit to take care of some business. FATCA sucks for honest people except that it gave us a good excuse to come to Mexico.

We weren't particularly excited about air travel on Sept. 11th. God Bless America, please. And traveling on Southwest is usually fun and games. But out of respect, they were particularly solemn on the flight from HOU to CUN yesterday. But to digress just a little and lighten up this post I will tell you - 
Don't travel from the US to MX on a Sunday! Here's how it worked out.

We got up at 4 in the morning and left El Campo at 4:30 to give us plenty of time to get to the airport and make our traditional morning stop at the Pappasito's in the international terminal for a most excellent Bloody Mary or two before boarding. It just makes the flight time go by a lot faster and more carefree. Somewhere along the way we realized the whole Sunday morning/no sale of alcohol thing was in force but we also convinced ourselves that it didn't apply to international airport terminals. Well, it did. The last teaser was the big chalk board sign in front of Pappasito's that read "Build your own Margarita"...left over from Saturday obviously.

Fast forward from a very pleasant flight down, the quickest entry and exit through customs ever, a walk to ADO and only a 20 minute wait for the bus to Playa, a short walk through Playa to the other bus stations (yes, it rained on us and we made a couple of wrong turns but so what). We walked into the bus station at 1:27 and a bus was leaving for Mérida at 1:30. We made it. So all in all we made the quickest trip possible for us cheap travellers from El Campo, TX to Mérida, Yuc. ever. The bus trip is 4 1/4 hours and we made it about 5 minutes earlier. That put us disembarking the bus at 5:40 in the evening. In Merida, they quit selling alcohol at 5:30 in the evening Sundays. It's the can buy alcohol in the mornings but can't after 5:30pm.

The moral to this story is: Do NOT fly from the US to MX  on Sundays. Fly from MX to the US on Sundays! Now go make it a fabulous Monday.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Police Encounter and Getting Our Carnivore On

Bus Station Blues
We had found out how easy it is to take a directo Noreste bus to/from Tizimín  last time  we were here. It's about a 2-hour drive on a bus with a/c and even a bathroom - we aren't used to that on the Noreste buses, all on a new highway. The Noreste station here is a little bit of a walk for us...about 7 blocks east and 10 blocks north, but nothing we can't handle.  Nobody goes to Tizimin unless they live there or have relatives there. Except for us.

Yesterday we decided to go. We had two reasons for going. Tizimín is in the middle of ranching country and we were wanting beef. Secondly, there are leather shops and shops that carry western hats, belts, handmade western shirts with yokes and snaps, spurs, etc. Everything for the cowboy. We wanted to see what we could find. Other than that, Tizimín is pretty well known for being a connecting point for heading to the north coast beaches. 
Terry slept and I looked out the bus window as usual. I was amazed at the lack of barbed wire fences. All the fences are rock walls, mostly just rocks piled on top of rocks. Occasionally, you will see mortar used between the rocks but most times not. Also, each ranchero we passed had a house and their own cathedral, always identifiable by the cross.
Looking out the window
Our bus driver was running at break neck speed. That is until we were flagged over by a state police just outside of
Tizimín. We had a good bus driver. I didn't want him in trouble with the law. Not to mention I wanted to make it toTizimín  for a steak. He talked with the policeman and then another vehicle was either flagged down or stopped for some reason. After about 10 minutes our bus driver boarded the bus and we were off again. He was speeding though I am quite sure.
Los Tres Reyes
When we arrived we headed to the town square and ate at Los Tres Reyes. It is on the square opposite the church. Terry did in fact eat steak and it was very tasty. I ended up ordering chicken fajitas. We both ate so many botanas before our meals arrived we could have asked for doggy bags. It was all very good. 
El Parque
Western Store...Closed
Just a street we walked
In Centro
We don't know if it was because it was Friday, because it was hot, because it was siesta time or what but all the shops we wanted to go into were closed down. We walked around town, dodged a few raindrops, then headed back to the bus station for the return back on a 5pm bus. 
The Church on the Square

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Learning English While in Mexico

We took the ferry over to Playa del Carmen from Cozumel for a day of lying on the beach and sunning. Same day I was taking shots of Pepto Bismol from taking shots of tequila the day before. We took a walk to the bus station, not because we were leaving, but because I needed to go the the baño.  If we would have been operating on all cylinders we would have purchased bus tickets for the next day's trip and saved 50% off the price for purchasing earlier but we weren't and we didn't.

The next day we said hasta luego to Cozumel and then Playa and caught a 10:30 bus for Mérida. The timing of our trip was perfect as we figured out beforehand that this bus would leave Playa and head directly for the cuota by way of the new highway and not even stop in Valladolid. It was the fast bus. We bought our usual snacks:water, Cheetos, cookies and Takes but no plaintain chips (big disappointment!) and while waiting for the bus we exchanged a few words with the little boy with the broken arm while he was tormenting a chihuahua dog being tightly guarded by it's female owner. I thought the little boy was traveling with the woman but later realized on the bus he was just quick to make friends.
He and his dad sat behind us on the bus but the boy quickly moved to the seat across from us. It was easier for him to ask if he could share in our snacks from there. Terry gave him cookies and we quickly made a friend. When I took his picture he wanted to know if I had any juegos on my phone he could play. When I told him no he told me to just download them. :)

Miguel was nine years old, had big brown eyes that he batted any time he wanted to make you smile, lives in Cozumel, and was traveling to Mérida to visit his abuelos. We quickly started using Miguel as a learning opportunity to study our Spanish. He and Terry played word games all the way into town. He knew quite a lot of English but we both had to laugh when Terry told him the English word for ballena was whale, but he corrected Terry and said, "'s NOT's WHILE." 
Miguel's dad offered to hail a taxi for us, but we explained we were fine walking. He moved on with Miguel following. Miguel turned around and ran to us and gave the customary kiss on each cheek to me and hugged my neck. We had to laugh as we often think the one thing missing is not having children living next door to us to help us with our Spanish. But, if it was Miguel next door we would be learning the correct way to speak English instead! 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Slugs Slither into Mexico

The Meet Up
Back at Cindi's house, after Reif and Kerin's wedding, plans got underway for the First Ever Slug cruise. Terry and I knew there was a big chance we would be in Mérida come June so we told the Slugs we would meet them in Progreso rather than make the actual cruise. Well, it didn't quite work out that way. James, Robin, Cindi and David were the cruising slugs while the rest of the slugs stayed at home and lived the slug cruise vicariously through texts and pictures. Southwest raised airfares when June rolled around and the only decent flight Terry and I could get had us flying to Cancun on a Monday. Ok --- we will meet the cruisers in Cozumel on Tuesday rather than meet them in Progreso on Monday. All was good.
Terry and I made a trip to Matagorda to say good bye to Craigerly and kids before heading south. This was on Friday. While texting with Cindi along the way, she mentioned seeing us in Progreso on Tuesday. She also thought we were driving to Mx. via Matamoros.  I'm only mentioning this so you get the full picture...this is what happens when slugs make plans. We were able to make a last-minute flight change and we flew out on Saturday for Cancun. Thank you Southwest! We were also able to add two nights to our $25/night room at Alberto's in Cozumel. We would be in Cozumel from Saturday until Wednesday so as long as the ship made it to Cozumel on one of those days we would meet up. 
Monday rolled around and sure enough - there was a ship from Galveston in port. It was a great day and having only two ships in port made it extra nice because it wasn't crowded at all. The day started off with Margaritas at Pancho's Backyard and some shopping.
Started off with Margaritas at Pancho's Backyard
We moved to downtown and the girls went shopping while the guys hung out at Wet Wendy's.
Buying bolsas at Victor's
The jewelry stores were empty so us girls got the VIP treatment when we entered each shop. Cindi, Robin and I went to check out our cheap digs and then went to Victor's tienda for some wheeling and dealing on Robin's bags purchases. We met back up with the guys and moved on to the Cuban place and had mojitos and a few beers.
Then we moved on to the Thirsty Cougar and had shots and a few beers. James had on jeans, boots and a western straw hat so wait staff had it in their heads that he was somebody famous. We just rolled with it. Then, they thought I was Diane Keaton and James was Michael Keaton so that got us the tequila shots. 

We eventually headed back to the cruise terminal and sat at Fat Tuesday's watching the dancing butts until Robin popped out of the cake and we said our good byes. 
The Dancing Butts at Fat Tuesdays  

We are ready to do this one again!
This made the fourth time Terry and I met cruisers in Cozumel. Love doing that! We took our walk back to a bar with a nice balcony overlooking the departure of the cruise ship and took pictures of the departure.
Bon Voyage
Our night ended with delicious fish and coconut shrimp at La Mission, talk about the cruising slugs, and more margaritas. Let's just end our night there. As for the cruising slugs - the adventure continued and we heard they made it to Progreso with just one sprained knee amongst them.
Robin popped outta the cake