A Travellerspoint blog

Over a month in Paradise

Week 6

sunny 32 °C

Here part of our entertainment is taking the bus to and from town. They come by frequently alternating with the combis. There are some that you wonder how they are going to make it without breaking down. The gears are grinding and there are holes in the floor where the large stick shift is. One day you think it is just going to fall through to the road! The other part are the different seats the driver has. Some being held up by jerrycans and whatever else they can find; some have wire chairs and others have a t-shirt decorating the seat! You just never know. There are times when the characters that are travelling with you are part of that entertainment value! You just never know what kind of ride you are going to get.

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Check out the drivers fan

I find myself doing things I never do at home such as playing euchre and bingo. I enjoy it here but wouldn't be caught dead playing bingo; here it is for charity. The cards are reused year after year and instead of stamping shells, black beans or the odd Canadian penny; for a series of 12 games. All a bit of fun. Sharon found a new location this year and the number of games has tripled to 6 a season. I believe we had a record number attend; it could be due to the lovely setting at the back of the 'La Antigua' restaurant, by the pool!

A new Thai restaurant opened between Chalem and Chiburna only a few months ago that is getting all the raves but it is an adventure in the dark to get there. Lorraine decided we should venture out and see what all the talk is about and hired our trusty driver Carlos to take 10 of us there for dinner! We were not disappointed. The owners are such a wonderful couple who moved here from Calgary only 6 months ago and opened this place originally just for take out but have expanded as a restaurant to four days a week and now with the help of locals have expanded to Tues- Sat . The biggest disappointment is that they are not closer to where we live. They are considering serving food in Progreso once a week at Silcer Beach Club. We will certainly be keeping an eye on that announcement. They used to own a restaurant in Calgary where her family still owns 7 in the area covering all sectors of the city without competing with one another! So if you are from Calgary I am sure you have eaten at one of her family's places.

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Plenty of food for 5

A few years back I discovered the Slow Food Market in Merida and to my surprise Lorraine had never been. So when said she wanted to go I jumped at the chance to go too and show her the way! I also thought it was a great chance to eat at the Korean restaurant there. We dragged Austin along to carry her purchases. By the time we arrived at 12:15 many vendors had run out or were scarce, but this didn't matter as our main search at this market was basil plants. Not only did we find two plants we also found someone selling homemade pesto. Dara had gone to the MEL for a lecture and called once he was done, just as we were getting off the bus, so he joined us for lunch! Younghee Korean restaurant. They are now open Wednesday to Saturday after retiring from their full time jobs.
We tried this date tea for the first time! Quite interesting and tasty.

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this is where I found the basil
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check out the hair long enough to pull back.
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Some of these vendors do come out to our Muelle market giving us the opportunity to buy their food. I am sure you are aware of the 'slow food movement'.
Slow Food is an international movement, based in Italy, which promotes local production of food, preservation of regional culinary traditions, and healthy eating. Slow Food Yucatán is an official chapter of the international Slow Food movement.

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I had seen these 'milpa' tomatoes in France before but never anywhere else; they are a creole variety. Here the Mayans call them 'molpec'. They existed here before the colonization of the Americas and are now being grown again.

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Dara's new girlfriend at the foodbank
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Posted by OhUiginn 11:49 Archived in Mexico Comments (1)

Our first big Norte

Week 5

sunny 25 °C

When I can't sleep at night not because of noise I focus on the waves to lull me back to sleep and if that doesn't work; read!
My night was interupted several times by my husbands phone telling him the battery is low. I finally woke him to get it plugged in; only to be woken up again by a whimpering dog outside my window. He obviously was trying to get to the beach and my gate was closed. He tried this yesterday as well but whimper long enough that I was unable to get back to sleep.
It is nice to have Ian and Sheila back here but without their long time friends Maggie and John. Maggie isn't well and will be staying home this year. We will miss them this season for sure.

This week there was a large influx of people arriving from up north. this was felt both at the knitting and euchre where we had 7 tables! I think that might be a record. We had a lovely visit with our longtime friend Claudia Mejorado; Erika's sister who came with her baby last week. It was nice catching up with her news and hearing her improved English. Our neighbour Sharon joined us at dinner, for the lovely 'chiles rellenos' from the 'Cocina Economica' Dona Mary! they are always so good from there. Photo was not taken for some reason!

Woke up to a super calm day! I wonder if this is the calm before the storm. This year there have not been many Norte and we have only experienced one. We have had rain but mostly in the evening.

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When 'Nortes' arrive it is big Netflix time. We have been intrigued by the one show that I am sure isn't available in Canada called "the Americans' about Set in the early 1980s during the Cold War, The Americans is the story of Elizabeth (Keri Russell) and Philip Jennings (Matthew Rhys), two Soviet KGB officers posing as an American married couple living in the northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C., with their children Paige (Holly Taylor) and Henry (Keidrich Sellati) and their neighbor Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich), an FBI agent working in counterintelligence.

Another activity we do with a Norte is go into Merida where it will be lovely and cool to walk around the city. Dara has hurt his foot so is not able to come so Sheila, who just arrived this week was keen on going in to get to her usual haunts.
Unfortunately there was the Marathon with it ending at the main square and therefore not allowing vendors to be there until 12:30; but the city hasn't set up their stands so once they are able to sell there is a mishmash of set ups. I did find the one vendor I like with amber and other intriguing jewelry with her husband there he was able to make the earrings I had asked her a few weeks back. This is the lady I have mentioned before in previous years who blesses her pieces before giving them to you. She remembers me year to year with such a wonderful warm hug. There are a few others that greet you with enthusiasm every year too.

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IMG_7652.jpg The new giant conversation chairs in Santa Lucia plaza
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Walking around the Historic district of Merida

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Here is a sample of some favourite Yucatan dishes. At the Chaya Maya restaurant.

The first GORRO Girls meeting since my arrival down here, was yesterday; though a very small group I still got an order for my crocheted hats. She wants it in a colour that I am unable to find at my usual shop. Every year I say I am not making anymore of them but people come up to me asking for them. What to do? what to do?

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My walk along 53 to the Merida English Library

Since it was only about 10 blocks for me to walk to my supplier for hammock cotton I took a different route than what I normally do; along 66 from 53 to 65. Take a look :

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Check out how small this house is

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If you notice this strip of homes are similar; it would have been originally one family home that was then divided as easy son married. They are now sold separately!

Posted by OhUiginn 08:34 Archived in Mexico Comments (1)

The End of a difficult year!

Lucky to be in the sun and heat! For a 4th week

sunny 32 °C

As we come to the end of a difficult year we hope this next one will not be too difficult to deal with considering who is entering the White House in a few weeks! We can only hope it will not be as bad as some are predicting.

Our friend Lorraine had been celebrating Hanukkah and so I decided it would be nice to have a dinner together on one of the 8 nights and make latkes. They brought their homemade menorah over and we celebrated with them but I didn't get a photo of the actual latkes. They turned out delicious if i may say so myself!

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I walked along the beach to Linda's place and discovered that she is only 2.5km away! I must do this walk more often. I turned out to have walked 9.3 km in the end! I just don't do this everyday! I love walking around in Progreso and Merida as i am constantly finding new things. You'd think it would get boring but it never does!

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Walking around Progreso and on calle 23 towards the end of this road (that i have never been to the end) we discover this lovely mosaic) Linda knew it was there from her daily walks and was keen to show it to me.
A new Oxxo opened and it is quite nice and big. there is an interesting story about this building. They bought this and started to take it down only to be fined as it was a historical building and they were ordered to return it to its original design and so now it is quite spectacular.

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this is the story!

Normally, when a historic property is illegally torn down, the historic protection agency INAH files a complaint and at most, fines are paid. But when the convenience store chain Oxxo tore down this 117-year-old Casa Escalante to build a corner store, a federal judge issued a landmark ruling. Oxxo will be forced to rebuild a replica of this house.
The house, at Calle 76 and 27, was one of the first properties built in this port town. Oxxo leveled it in 2014, which INAH declared a criminal act.
The lawsuit was batted around in federal court for a little over a year.
The judge’s order to rebuild the home as it previously appeared was until yesterday unheard of in Yucatán, the local newspapers report.
Casa Escalante was the port city’s first shipping and customs agency, José Gabriel Escalante y Sucres, and remained in the hands that family’s heirs until 2014 when they sold the property to Oxxo.

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My Huevos Motuleno
Arriving in Progreso after having a lovely breakfast at Davids it had been raining here but not where I was. It was a surprise to see so much water on the streets
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After our weekly game of Euchre I said to Dara we should go for fish and chips and just as we are waiting for it to be time to go our caretaker shows up with a lovely plate of fried fish!

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I sit here typing and suddenly there are runners coming along the beach and keep going back and forth. Oh wait this is an actual race as they all have numbers on them!

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The funny thing is Facebook informs me that this is an annual race and I was just as surprised December 31st 2015! Told you I can't remember things!

Happy New Year in the Yucatan!
We celebrated at Austin and Lorraine's along with several other people. Don't ask me to remember everyone's names! I know Linda, Brooke and Don's name. I am sure there was a Mary as there are so many of you and let's see if I can put them all together. Well all I needed to do was to look up the fun game we played. It was a list of things each one of us did in our past and you had to go around and guess who did what by asking each other. This forced you to mingle and I love games that do that. So here are the names of the people on the piece of paper. I did manage to get them all in the time allotted. There was a Bud who kept a clean driving record by talking his way out of traffic tickets! Keith managed to drive a stock car at the age of 16. One that I didn't know and this is probably one of the only photos taken of Linda; she appeared on the cover of a magazine wearing a bikini! Yes our Linda! Maybe that is why she doesn't like her photo taken anymore! Another interesting one was Don hitch-hicked for months through Europe and North Africa but turned down going to India, instead returned to Canada to do him MBA! Did he make the right choice? Mine was the year on the 'hippie skip' (ship misspelled but of course understood) sailing on Sofia across the high seas! And last but not least was Dara's Shikoku Pilgrimage that he is about to repeat this year.

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After dinner we did a fun 5 pin sand-bottles with coconuts bowling! After a few turns one of the coconuts started to leak and spew out milk all over the place . We had a blast!
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The evening ended with the burning of the old man but not before we whacked it for our candy.

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Another tradition that continues is the burning of the “old year.” The figure is normally a life-size image of an old man with used clothing, stuffed with cotton and firecrackers. It is placed outside of houses for several days before December 31st, to be burned at midnight as a symbol of leaving behind the past and everything that happened in the previous year. The families and neighbors usually get together to see him “go off” on the old night.
Some prefer having a piñata in the form of the old man, or maybe representing a political figure or famous character. it’s also burned at midnight on December 31st. (But we did it at 10pm)
The origin of this tradition is not known, but it is widely accepted and has a lot of symbolism, because the fire is a transition ritual burns and purifies and regenerates energy.
For those who don’t like firecrackers, the piñata can be without them and filled with candies to share instead. (As we did) In recent years we have also seen paper balloons rising to the sky during the night as a symbol of good luck and petitions for the year that is about to start.

A fun tradition that is easy to do here as we are able to be outside! Not something easily done back home! LOL

We will start off the year with a film Merida at the VIP theatre with Austin Lorraine and the lovely Linda I met at the Toronto Airport who is here for the first time! This is the way to watch a movie: leather reclining seats with a menu to choose from and get served at your seat! All this is only 6$ with our seniors discount! The choice was 'Snowden' or Rogue and since I am not a Star Wars fan nor are the others (except for Dara) you can see who rules in choices! I really enjoyed how they told this story especially since we knew what it was about. It made the whole thing quite clear! Too bad Obama hasn't pardoned him. He continues to live, happily with his girlfriend in Moscow!

A walk along the beach is in order today and then I'll meet up with Brin at Silcer beach club. The walk didn't happen due to lack of time and Silcer was closed! It will have to be for another time. I love the faces they have decorating their beach!
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We wandered down to La Antigua for a beer. They have a lovely selection of artisan beer and for the season there is one nice bock beer that is flavoured with real chocolate from the region. My friend had the stout but said there is another one she prefers. Sheena and Adam will be delighted with these new beers!
http://yucatantoday.com/cerveza-ceiba-authentic-yucatecan-beer/?lang=en

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After three hours of chatting and getting caught up with one another as it had been two years since we saw each other or even heard from one another! Hearing about her adventures of a year in Cuba and her trek around South America , over that time, made me want to do more than just coming here! I decided to walk home along the beach. It was 5pm so it had to be a faster walk as the sun would be setting soon. It was also challenging as it was high tide and so there was lots of walking in the water where the beach had disappeared but with the sand bags in the water it made for comfortable stepping stones. I did make it home before dark. It is about 50min from the start of the Malecon.

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Posted by OhUiginn 06:39 Archived in Mexico Tagged yucatan progreso chicxulub Comments (0)

Week leading up to Christmas

Week Three

sunny 29 °C

As I sit here listening to the lapping of the waves and seeing fishing boats going by I can't help but feel fortunate to be so calm and relaxed here in Chicxulub.

This week has been a busy one leading up to Christmas as I am sure it has been for all.

Liam arrived in Los Cabos after a long technical delay in Newark. He will spend Christmas with his grandparents alone for the first time. It will be special time for him.

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We started off the week attending a posada in Chicxulub. We hadn't been to one since we lived in Mexico City with Brendan 30 some odd years ago! Not sure why we never attended one in Los Cabos! It was very different from the one we had attended before and we were confused as to the meaning of the red skirts and the scarves on the head. The boys were wearing floor cloth ponchos. There were others with Christmas hats and red scarves. We had plenty of lovely angels of all sizes. It started with mass followed by the procession around the village looking for a place to stay! It ended it with a party at the D'Mar centre where we always have the Muelle Market! Here there was a lovely stable set up for Mary and Joseph. There were gifts for all the children. The handing out of gifts followed a little choir singing (now I know why the red scarves). Awaiting the tedious handing out of gifts using a raffle style took a tole on us and we didnt' stay for what was to happen next with the dancing by the ladies in red skirts and scarves on their heads. The other tradition that we didn't get to see was the piñata breaking by the children. I'm sure that would have been chaotic but fun.

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I went back to Merida for a nice visit with my friendly dentist Peniche whom informed me that i did not need an implant just yet. It is great to have a dentist not in a hurry to do procedures. Walked around Centro and the Plaza Grande enjoying the day!
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Muelle market: This was the busiest Christmas market since the start of this market. It must be that this place really is getting more popular and the marketing of the event is working. I was able to sell all my gnomes and all but one kitchen set! I do know of someone who will likely buy the one left as it is their favourite colour! (Sheila, yes I am talking about you!) I also sold my sample sun hat and have orders for three more. I shall have to get busy making more of the kitchen towel sets. I am really doing well this year. I will have my three families taken care of in no time! There will be plenty left to help the Chicxulub Foodbank with all sorts of other activities.

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We found out that it was our Cuidador Marie's 46th birthday and that her husband had arranged for a serenade to happen at 11pm. We invited them to celebrate on our patio where there was plenty of room. The daughter and daughter in law arrived with the pizza etc and set them up ahead of time. All this was a surprise so we had to be careful. It all went very well and she was awoken from her slumber after a few songs. He then joined us for the feast! Dara and I are fluent in Spanish but have a difficult time understanding them as they eat their words when they speak. We are constantly asking them to repeat themselves but we are getting better every day. This was exaggerated by the music being played as we chatted.

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Christmas Eve: We planned a cocktail party with a few friends I prepared all sorts of things with some failures; brownies were burnt and fudge never really set! I then forgot to put them out for everyone in the end. Except we had a second party planned with our caretakers and their family were invited to come by to receive their presents. I thought that they had decided not to come as my understanding was they were going to her mothers home. It turned out they went briefly there and came right here. They were all dressed up and looking like they were ready for a party! By this time I had put away all the left over food. This really did work out best as I then came out with the food presented in a way that it no longer looked like left overs and had the chance to also present the deserts. They devoured most of what was on offer! It was a delightful time and it was a nice way to end Christmas Eve. I got the feeling they were here to party late but we were too tired to stay up past 10pm. As it turns out we should have partied all night as our neighbours certainly did and so we didn't have a good night sleep. Well they did stop around 5:45!!

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Christmas Day: The morning started off with our usual Sunday breakfast of bacon and eggs. We then started calling and texting around to our kids when it dawned on me that there was a new feature on Facebook messenger that allowed for a group video chat. We then planned on us all joining in. I unfortunately didn't get in touch with David in time to participate. This was so amazing: Greg in Malindi, Kenya; Liam and my parents in Los Cabos; Brendan at home in his new condo in Ottawa; Sheena at Adam's family home in Stittsville; and last but not least us on the beach in Chicxulub! It really made my day! I had been feeling really sad not being with family up to that point and this made up for it all! We ventured into Merida to an open house we had been invited to. But before heading over I thought it might be nice to show Dara the nativity scene in the Plaza Grande! To our surprise there was the Sunday market happening as well. The vendors were a bit sparse but still I did see some of my friends.

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To end the wonderful Christmas day we headed to Faces for our Christmas dinner, not before taking a well needed nap ( I rarely take a nap but when you've had a sleepless night it is necessary). What a wonderful meal and entertainment from the local. Walking to the corner to catch the bus home we stumbled upon a lovely decorated house on calle 23 we stopped and chatted with the lovely family including the 95 year old grandma! We complemented them on the decorations which combine the Mexican nativity scene with a Dickensville.

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All day when I'd seen a small child on the bus I handed real maple candies to them. Luckily I had two left on our last combi-bus home.

Boxing Day was to be a quiet do nothing day with a visit from Lorraine in the morning. She came for toast and fig jam i had given Dara for Christmas. It was delicious. No way can we make it through this whole jar!

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I had texted with Erika a few days ago about getting together today but hadn't firmed up anything. Well with one small text and they were out here within two hours where we met her delightful little baby Santiago or Santi for short! They joined us for dinner and brought a wonderful "Tres Leches desert". it was so nice to catch up with them and their plans. Unfortunately Erika was unable to get posted to Merida airport as an air traffic controller so they are having to move back to Los Cabos for a few years. They are ok with that as long as they get to return in a few years when it is time for Santi to start school.

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Posted by OhUiginn 06:30 Archived in Mexico Comments (1)

Week two

The week before Christmas

sunny 29 °C

Week Two in Yucatan

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I said when i landed in Merida that it felt like I was home and that continues to be so. There are two places other than Canada where I feel at home that is Mexico and France.
I connect with the people in both places as well. Very different cultures but both so much part of my life!

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View from the beach looking in!

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Walking towards our home on calle 54


It is hard to believe that a wash cut; a pedicure and waxing my eyebrows upper lip; only cost me 20$. It is worth going weekly just to get your colour varnish changed as the pedicure alone is only 6$. The next on my list is a massage. I think I will have one weekly this trip. So I am behind on that one!

I woke up early today and thought I would go for a nice walk on the beach and a swim in the ocean but once Dara awoke and headed to the shower all my thoughts of what I wanted to do disappeared and I found myself in the shower and then it came to me what I really wanted to do. Ah well a walk along the beach can still happen and it did! I really enjoyed the supper low tide giving us the extra beach to walk along. Dara accompanied me without putting his big toe in the water! The quiet and peacefulness of the morning was such a delight! Went as far as the Hum's place and back which is just over 2K. It was warming up quickly. I think I should do this every morning before my breakfast! Get walking before spending time on the internet. I must try and do this early as once 9am hits it is too hot for a walk along the beach.

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The seaweed was incredible. Yet a few days later it is all gone!

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Here are the finds along the beach! Who knew red peppers grew in the sand!
It took me awhile to get the heron to fly off he kept running away! Can't seem to upload videos. My one minute videos are too large! Hello get wit the program!

It isn't just the expat community we spend time with it is also some locals. That's what I look for here.

High Tea in Merida: Every month someone hosts the International Woman's club in their home; from 5pm to 7pm.

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The house beside the big one was where we were!

The December one includes the spouses. It was to be held at the publish author Joanna Gracht ( https://writingfrommerida.wordpress.com/2016/12/19/los-alebrijes-a-new-restaurant-in-merida/) but it had to move to her daughter in laws home Jeanette De Rosado. It really was nice to see some familiar faces and a few new ones.
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Our friend Valerie Pickles was in attendance and informed us of her good news (for her not the rest of us) that she had sold her lovely bed and breakfast spot ( http://www.thepickledonionyucatan.com/) We loved going there in Santa Elena whenever we or our guests went to visit Uxmal. She will have a huge adjustment to make not having that to occupy her time. She has purchased a beach house in Celestun and hopes to rent a small place in Merida so that she can take advantage of the cultural life it offers.

The other big thing that happened as a result of attending this lovely evening I received an order for one of my sun hats and a bag made by the lovely Coop ladies of Chixculub; only to have that order increased to 15 pieces the following day!

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My friend that ordered the bags

I couldn't wait to tell Carmita the news as soon as I got to the foodbank. This month for the first time I had the honour of checking each family in. It wasn't as easy as it sounds. I had to try and remember those families who were missing at the Xmas party so as to give them their hamper and tell the four families that they no longer qualify to receive assistance. I didn't catch them all. It is so humbling to provide food to the really needy families.

Next on our list this week was The Barlovento Children's Christmas party for the "special needs" kids of the area. The school they attend has 180 kids and this year for the first time the area restaurants have decided to share in the hosting of a party. 20 kids are chosen for each location and donations come in for the kids from the community. Seeing the excited faces as Santa's helpers handed out their gifts. For many of these kids this is all they will get! One family we saw were also at the event we attended in Chicxulub last week.

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Followed by being invited into Carmita's family home for a beautiful Veracruz fish dinner. Silly me forgot to bring a phone for pictures. (So did Dara).

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For those who aren't familiar with this dish, It closely resembled this photo.

We were accompanied by a few other Canadians: Sharon and Kaye; a couple from Kamloops Linda and Larry (aka Lord and Lady Kamloops as David has christened them). It was a lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon. They had set up tables in there front terrace where Carmita, her husband Milo and one of her daughters Mali sat with us speaking Spanish and English. The other daughter had to take care of her little one. It was so nice to spend time with locals, especially this very giving family.

For a desert the daughter had made a lemon pie with raspberry coulis. It was almost like a key lime pie but not quite. Apparently they make pies and sell them so I know where we will be going to buy our next desert! (We have our caretakers birthday happening this Thursday so I think we'll get her something there).

It is a shame that all attending aren't fluent in Spanish so we were back in forth with the languages. Carmita has come along way but needs lessons. Dara hopes to get her here for that soon.

With the drop in oil prices there have been so many people affected by it here in Mexico. This family is one of them. Her husband, Milo had to take a 35% cut in an already low salary. How can they make ends meet? The sale of 15 bags will certainly help. Let's hope for a big sale at the Muelle market on Thursday.

We ventured into Progreso to find lights and a few things for our boxwood tree. I couldn't believe how much it had been picked over since the sale started on Saturday. I got 4 meters of lovely cotton for 3$. Yes you read that right. I tried to find a circular piece for my round table. No luck. It is starting to feel a bit like Christmas!

When I travel I alway take the three Inuit decorations I have representing my three kids. I've had them for over 20 years. I also brought along my new yearly Swarovski snowflake and the lovely hand made crossstitch 'partridge in a pear tree ', by Lauren, that Dara had on his wish list!

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Look how small our 'tree' is. It is a boxwood and will keep it going for awhile!

Posted by OhUiginn 08:17 Archived in Mexico Tagged yucatan progreso chicxulub iwcmerida Comments (1)

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