Monday, July 25, 2011

Our ''Casa Renta''

With our car packed we say goodbye to our little three room seaside apartment, and our new found friends. Leaving the sand streets and ocean breeze, we make the thirty minute drive into the vibrant city of Mérida. Our Casa Renta is located in Mérida’s Centro Historico in an area of renovated two hundred year old homes. This area is commonly referred to as “Gringo Gulch”. Less than twenty years ago the colonial facades and the city captivated the hearts of a handful of Norte Americanos and Canadians who scooped up the crumbling centuries old structures for what now seems like a few pesos and an expat haven was born. To the young locals the Centro meant Grandma’s old house with peeling paint, ancient walls, outdoor kitchens, minimal bathrooms and poverty. The young families desired Norte Mérida, the Mall, Sam’s Club and Golf Course Subdivisions, copycats of North American suburbia.

Fast forward to today… The beautifully restored homes line the streets and the splendor that is Mérida lives on. Mérida has the largest amount of colonial architecture in Mexico outside of Mexico City. No longer are these wonderful crumbling homes available for pesos, but many are still much less expensive than homes north of the border.
Eduardo welcomes us to our Casa Renta, opening an ancient door to dark wood beamed twenty foot ceilings, the floors gleaming with hundred year old French pasta tile. Deep fuchsia ginger artfully arranged in a clay pot adds to the ambiance. The mouth of a concrete jaguar spills cool water into the turquoise pool. Through the inner courtyard past the pool graceful aches lead to the Casita where a master suite with an indoor/outdoor shower offers a quiet retreat. From the rooftop terrace we have a sparkling nighttime view of the Cathedral.

For information on renting or buying a house we can recommend Leann Roberts with Mexico International. She was our agent when we rented this house. Her contact information is:
Phone: (999) 920-6856
Fax: (999) 920-6856
Cell: (999) 223-2536

Friday, July 22, 2011

Little bundle of joy

 By now it may be apparent to you that we have a little dog, Adie alias Gringa Dog. I like to refer to her as a “late in life, only dog”. I can relate to Gringa Dog’s life as I was a later in life baby girl with siblings much older than I. Ty was adamantly opposed to having a pet, every time I mentioned it he would rattle off his list of reasons not to have a dog (sorry cat lovers but I’m allergic). So with our offspring grown and out of the house we lived our contented life with the freedom to travel, sleep in a queen size bed and walk freely around the yard barefoot. Then one day our daughter came to our house with a tiny eight week old bundle of black fur. Since she and her family obviously did not need another pet I basically took that little bundle off their hands (they would have had a hard time getting her back once I held her). Ty’s acceptance of this tiny creature was met with not just No, but Hell No! I rattled off all sorts of promises, she would sleep in a crate, I would pick up her little presents, she would go to obedience classes, and he would hardly even know she existed. She at not even a pound a half showed a feisty determination to wriggle right into the heart of her new Daddy, and she now has him tightly wound around her furry little paw.

True to my promise; she has partaken in not only obedience classes but also therapy dog training, agility and canine freestyle dance classes. She rides securely in a car seat when we travel, she is fully crate trained but sleeps between us on our new king size bed, she enjoys leisurely strolls from the security of her canine stroller and her toy basket runneth over. So you can imagine in contemplating our move to Mexico, medical care for Gringa Dog was near the top (well maybe the top) of the list.

Enter Dr. Tony, Dr. Wilson and the amazing staff of Planned Pethood (Calle 10 No. 344 x 3 y 3-C Colonia Gonzalo Guerrero. Mérida) . I am pleased to say Gringa Dog has received excellent care, grooming and boarding, and he makes housecalls. Of course being the well taken care of pooch that she is, her Royal Canine brand of dog food is sold by Planned Pethood.

Planned Pethood does not exist just to offer medical care to pampered pets; Kudos to Dr. Tony and his staff in conjunction with other organizations who offer free spay and neuter clinics throughout Yucatan, working tirelessly to reduce the dilemma of Mexican street dogs and cats through education and sterilization.
We sleep better knowing our Gringa Dog is well taken care of here in Mexico!

And she loves taking a siesta in a hammock

Saturday, July 16, 2011

In a bar in Acuña............

called Ma Crosbys. Well, not exactly. As far as I know it has never been named Ma Crosbys although affectionately called that by most people. The real name is just Crosbys. Everybody has heard the 80’s song by George Strait called ‘’Blame it on Mexico’’ that immortalized ‘’Ma’’ Crosbys Bar, Restaurant and Hotel in Ciudad Acuña, Coahuilla, Mexico.  The bar was opened in the early 1920’s and stayed in the Crosby family until 1987.

Sara and I were fortunate enough to spend a good part of our teenage years living in Del Rio, the Texas town that borders Acuña, as a matter of fact that is where we met. Even after we married, we never missed a chance to go to Crosbys whenever we went back to Del Rio. Everybody around there knows about Crosbys and in the days before 9/11, drug cartel problems, and bad press from the media local Texans would often go ‘’across’’ to shop, very likely ending up in Crosbys for a great meal and a few drinks.
As a teenager I remember going to Acuña with my Grandpa and Grandmother (actually my step Grandmother, Nelberta) when they were in town from the ranch. Sometimes my parents were there and  Mom and Nelberta would shop while grandpa found a cool place to sit and drink a cold beer. More often than not, it was at Crosbys. I remember well sitting there with him in the bar listening to the two old guys playing their guitars and singing. He would talk with them in Spanish and always requested that they play ‘’El Rancho Grande’’. I think it was probably in those days that I knew that someday, I’d live in México. Before we left he would always discreetly tip them very well. He told me that one of them had cancer and I got the feeling that he had known them for a good many years. I don’t ever remember hearing him refer to the lady that owned the place as ‘’Ma’’ Crosby, she was always Mrs. Crosby. And so it has always been with me.
The Crosby family no longer owns the bar, Mrs. Crosby has been gone a number of years, the hotel was closed a long time ago, and as far as I know the bar and restaurant may even be closed due to the lack of business. But the building is still there, on the corners of Hidalgo and Matamoros in downtown Acuña. Maybe someday when the cartel situation straightens out and tourism picks back up, things can be back to normal. I’d like to take Sara there one more time.

The picture below was probably taken sometime in the early 70’s.  The lady on the left is my Grandmother Nelberta, and the lady on the right is Mrs. Lillian ‘’Ma’’ Crosby.

Note: The photo of Mrs. Crosby belongs to my mother, The top photo is not mine, it was taken off the internet.

Friday, July 15, 2011

No Events

I click “Hotmail” in the morning as pale yellow and orange swirls in the eastern sky.  My sleepy eyes scan my inbox. There it is, staring at me for another day, my email calendar “You have no events scheduled for today”.
I could change this I know. I could schedule in:
 Take Gringa Dog out for her morning business.
 Wash coffee cup.
 Check Email.
 Call Ty.
 Make bed.
Walk the beach to see what the tide washed in.
Somehow my pea brain does not need an alert for these things, so again in the morning I will see “You have no scheduled events for today”
With Ty back in the states I have been doing my needlepoint and taking in the warm Yucatan sunshine.

Yesterday I watched three graceful sailboats glide in the turquoise water. The gardener working at the house next door singing a Mayan folk song caused a smile to cross my face as I pulled a thread through the canvas.

This may be boring for some of you, not for me, the beauty is in taking in the details. Watching the changing shadows of clouds on the water, the soft rustle of palm tree fronds, the crunch of seashells under flip flops. Watching fisherman cast their nets.  Being totally amazed by the intricate weave of the cotton hammock I’m lying on.

My landlord saying to me ”I have a bubble if you would like to bob in the sea”. She’s British you know!
This is a long way from my Day Planner being attached to me like a life line. I loved those days as well, but I’ll take the hammock by the sea, thank you.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Run in with the law

What would I be doing now if my life had not changed so drastically? I check the weather for Midland, Texas and I know exactly what I would be doing. The aroma of stew in my big copper pot would fill the air and my well-seasoned black skillet would be steaming with golden cornbread. I would be curled on the end of my sofa cuddled up with Adie, knitting Ty’s other sock.  I sat on the terrace in the cool gray dawn, Iguanas clicking to their mates and considered the events of yesterday.
The tenants here at Casa Rosa had decided to meet for breakfast at Taco Maya, a great little expat owned café which serves up mouthwatering breakfast burritos.  I decided to walk and flag down a passing Collectivo (used primarily by locals)because I also needed to stop at the Mercado for some fruit. While this seemed like a good idea I discover the fully loaded vans race by and a blonde Gringa flapping her arms doesn’t seem to faze the drivers.
I greet other pedestrians with a friendly Buenos Dias, including a young Mayan couple with two small boys so close in size they may have been twins. I smile and tousle the hair of one, his black eyes smile back as he flashes me a toothy grin as I wipe the moisture off my brow. To my left I realize a black double cab pickup is pulling alongside me then cuts me off as it pulls onto the shoulder. The uniformed police officers greet me with Buenos Dias , using a mixture of hand gestures, Spanglish and English I explain I am meeting mi amigas for breakfast at Taco Maya, I hold up my small colorful shopping bag  Mercado, fruitas” I say.. The driver smiles and motions to the back seat, I nod as the policeman in the passenger seat exits the vehicle and gentlemanly opens the rear door. Reaching inside he begins to shift the clutter around, making room for me to sit. I climb in next to the bullet proof vests and automatic weapons, we continue our friendly conversation as I am chauffeured to El Mercado by officers Jose’ and Jose’.

Taco Maya in Chelem

Saturday, July 9, 2011

A Seashore of Condoms

Sadly, Ty left this morning for 2 weeks back in the U.S.. Adie and I stood on the sand street in the dark and waited with him for the driver. I'm all stocked up on groceries and neccesitos, diet coke, smokes and coffee. At dawn I watched not one but two large white cruise ships anchor at the tip of Progreso's long pier. The Carnival is in town.

Later, Adie and I headed out for our morning beach combing. After the strong waves of the Norte the beach is completely different than a day ago. Crossing over the jetty I spied what appeared to be a bright blue condom, attached to the sand and blowing in the breeze. As I scanned the shore I could see the beach was littered with electric blue condoms.

We continued on our search for shells and sea glass, being ever so mindful of the transparent blue bulges on the beach. We walked further and explored the new mounds of shells. Adie braves the chilly water to bite at the waves as we continue our walk. Soon I bend to pick up a pretty shell, hoping it has made the journey, tumbling through the waves unbroken. The shell was broken , but resting under it was a smooth and frosty piece of turquoise sea glass. I think often we reach for something in our life but come up with something better.


Ok, back to the electric blue condoms. Come to find out they are not the result of an oversexed cruise party; they are Portuguese Man of Wars. What is a west Texas girl to think when I'm used to seeing tumbleweeds in the sand.

Beach Dog

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Casa Rosa

Our home in Mexico will be Mérida but when we arrived we felt like some beach time and relaxation was in order so our home for the month of January will be with Karen in a quaint oceanfront apartment. Karen purchased a rundown property and has been renovating and working her magic to make it a wonderful place to enjoy Yucatan’s North Gulf Coast. The accommodations are simple and clean. We have the second story apartment with a wall of windows facing the sea. Karen is an on sight owner from England; it is a pleasure getting to know her. The other apartments have been rented for shorter stays by folks escaping the harsh cold of the northern United States. The view out our window is in a constant state of change. Morning wakes cool as clouds hug the turquoise horizon.We watch in the early morning light as the first fishing boats head out for the catch of the day. A trio of pelicans flies overhead on their way to breakfast. The tide is out and I can see from the terrace the seashore littered with tumbled shells. There is a constant breeze, well sometimes more than a breeze.

Casa Rosa is the pink building on the right. This is the ''street'' view

The Gulf during a ''Norte''


The Gulf view during normal times

Chelém is a real, Mexican fishing village, with a small square where families gather in the evening, deserted houses line the sand streets, used by Mexican families during Semana Santa (Easter) and the hot summer months. Expats have found Chelém offers a tranquil and inexpensive alternative to life in the United States.

This is the town square or Plaza in Chelém and also the front of the mercado

The owner of the property is having a pool built and every day the workers come, men of small build and dark skin with bright white smiles. I watched one of the men cut a perfect circle in the concrete using a hammer and chisel. Another man in artisan fashion applies play dough blue concrete to the inside of the pool. I listen to the Mayan chatter, very distinctly not Spanish. I watch these men artistically doing menial labor and think of their ancestors creating a calendar more accurate than the one we used to count down our departure for Mexico.