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About Casita Paraiso

We have always journeyed together in our life, which is probably why our marriage has lasted for more than 32 years. Not to say we haven't had any breakdowns or bumps along the way. We most certainly have, but if we work as a team the work is easier. We love our family and we share our passions with each other, our latest being this project of purchasing a little Mexican casita on the Caribbean coastline and making it our own....our home away from home! Can't wait to spend time here with family and friends who will help fill this little casa with love! We feel very blessed indeed!

Musings on Mexico

“I just want to live happily ever after, every now and then.”
Jimmy Buffett

When I think of my time in Mexico, this is how it makes me feel. Like I’m in my happily ever after…….at least until I have to return home and back to reality.  Not that my reality is harsh, but I’ve been working for a very long time and I’m looking forward to when everyday is a Saturday.  Still, I won’t complain because I’m thankful that we have this little slice of paradise we get to taste every now and again.  I’m grateful that I have a job to return to with accruing vacation hours to use on my next trip. Someday, in the not too distant future, I will retire and take some very large bites out of that piece of pie!

Now that we are more settled in at Casita Paraiso, life in Chemuyil is enjoyed at a nice and easy pace. Unless we have an appointment (which are very few and far in between) or are meeting someone to go out to dinner with, we seldom look at our watches. Whether we’re in the pueblo, walking from shop to shop or sitting at the beach with our feet in the sand, and floating in the Caribe – all is right with the world. No worries, just in the moment of happily ever after.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Carey Buchfink

 
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Posted by on November 18, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Casita Paraiso – Chemuyil, Quintana Roo, Mexico on the Yucatan Peninsula

Welcome to Casita Paraiso’s new website and blog! We hope you enjoy it. This has been and still is a work in progress. Everything in life is worth working for, as difficult as this is to do sometimes. With a little patience and perseverance, and of course a support system, we can make it happen. That’s how we finally came to making a dream come true and buying Casita Paraiso! Here’s our place in the beginning…..

………and Casita Paraiso today!

This blog is my very first. I’m blogging our hobby, the journey of our love of traveling in Mexico and how we found our way to become homeowners of a sweet, little casita near the beach on the Caribbean coast in a town called Chemuyil. We’re located between Akumal and Tulum with thick jungle surrounding us and the beautiful white sand beaches with it’s turquoise warm waters splashing at our feet!

 
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Posted by on October 18, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Linaya’s First Casa Trip

August 8 – 20, 2011

I haven’t done a trip report for a while, and I’m sorry if it gets a little long-winded, but this trip was different and very special. Most of our trips are a mix of work and pleasure, but definitely a working vacation. Especially for a certain someone we all know. I won’t complain a bit though! I’m loving how things change and improve with each visit.

This trip we shared our piece of paradise with our 7½ year old granddaughter, Linaya. We arrived in CC after a wonderful weekend in Colorado for Mark’s mom’s 80th birthday and family reunion. Mark had to head home for an appointment Monday morning, so he would join us in a couple of days. We were very exhausted girls, but so excited! She didn’t sleep on the plane, even after a 4 hour night and then the Denver airport at 6:30am. It was a good flight and we got through immigration which was slower than I’d seen it in many trips, and customs finally after that. Easyway was really busy too, so that took longer than usual. Got a great little standard, basic Nissan Tidda for $324 for 10 days. Still, we can’t wait to have our own vehicle there!

As I drove down 307 with Linaya in the backseat playing DSi, my adrenaline kept me awake – and the chatter of my sweet granddaughter gave me energy. I was hoping she’d make it to CC, but she was finally falling asleep by Puerto Aventuras. Fifteen minutes later I pulled up to Leo’s Pizzeria and she awoke groggily but quickly with excitement. While we waited for our pizza to take home, she was thoroughly entertained by the geckos all over the walls. We walked over the Super Pool Express and got some milk for coffee and cereal in the morning and bevvies to go with the pizza. I tried to buy some Sol, but cases were locked. What? Oh, that’s right! When you’re away too long you forget the rule that you can’t buy any alcohol after 2pm on Sundays.

When we pulled up to the house, Linaya said to me, “Oh Noni! It’s more beautiful than in the pictures!” That just melted my heart, and knowing that we have this place not only for us and our grown children, but for her too. The house was sparkling clean and welcomed us – it just felt so good to be home in Mexico! We had our pizza sitting in the dining room under dim lights and it felt like we’d been here together before. Bedtime came and those puppy dog eyes talked me into her climbing into bed with me and watching Finding Nemo. Of course, I fell asleep…..into a sweet slumber. Not without turning on the a/c though, since it was really hot and humid. My pet peeve with a/c is it’s really difficult to regulate. I’m either too hot or too cold, like Goldilocks I’d prefer just right. It’s also noisy, but I tried to convince myself that it was like white noise. Still, I had sweet dreams.

Monday we got unpacked and organized, taking it slow as we were all traveled out. In the afternoon we went to Xcacel and Linaya loved it! We played in the waves, jumping them and squealing and checking out the iguanas. Playing in the sand and watching sand crabs peek out from their holes. Monday evening I cooked a light dinner and did a bit of putzing around the house while Linaya entertained herself with her electronics – a Dsi. Sometimes those things drive me crazy, other times they do provide a good babysitter. It did afford me time to do some quiet thinking and planning which is adding to Mark’s honey-do list. The neighborhood was dead quiet and it seemed strange to me. It was my first time being there in August. There were a few people around but we all seemed to be busy and on our own schedules. I’d had the opportunity to meet the Bettisworths in Fairbanks recently, but we only crossed path once while there unfortunately. These 10 day trips go too fast!

Mark arrived on Tuesday and we went up to Playa to meet him. There wasn’t any traffic and the driving was stress free being low season. With no stopping, we arrived at the ADO station in 30 minutes and timed it perfectly with his arrival. I always take the right at the light at the Holiday Inn and scoot to the bus station that way. Saves a bit of time, although driving all the way down Juarez is like eye candy, with all of the colorful sights! We stopped at Soriana’s for big grocery shopping before heading home. Mark unpacked and took some time to get reacquainted with the casa and the little things he wanted to accomplish on this trip. For once, the man is going to relax! Time for a quick dip in the Caribbean. It was after 5pm, so Xcacel was closed, but we managed to squeeze in a quick trip up the beach at the Bahia Principe. It may have been low season, for all of us northerners, but the Mexicans from other states were visiting as well as the locals taking in relaxing beach days. It was really hot after all! Our temp on the patio was reaching the low to mid 90’s, I think the beaches were around 87 – 90 with not much of a breeze at all. Anyway, the Bahia is a nice beach to take small children and young/early swimmers to. They have this area that is cordoned off with these strange looking sandbags, that protect you from the surf. Besides my favorite Akumal Bay, this is another option and it looked like you could even use the beach chairs, since it was low season. There are a lot of fish swimming around you in this giant pool and that was fun for Linaya to see. She was learning how to swim last summer and then the long winter helped her to forget everything. It was here at the Bahia ‘pool’ that she got her groove back and became comfortable with swimming again. She was so pleased with herself! It was so much fun to see her enjoy the beaches. The waves were a bit much but we had fun holding hands and jumping them.

We went to the Tulum beach one day to visit Margo and I had the most wonderful massage! What I’d really like to do is have a massage at the beginning of the trip and one at the end. Margo has great technique and such a healing touch. We ate lunch together at Ziggy Beach. The food was great, but the waiter we had was not. He knocked over a smoothie on us and didn’t even bother to clean it up or bring us a wet cloth. I did ask him for another one and he had another waiter bring out. Strange! Se la vie! Perhaps the manager would like to know though. Margo ordered the crab burger, I had a crab/mango salad and Linaya ordered a Margherita pizza. The food was good though and we had a nice visit, despite a tired, grumpy (& slightly bored) little girl at this point. She had after all been traveling with her Mom for 1½ weeks to Florida prior to our trip to Colorado and now Mexico. Time for lots of patience and TLC!

The next day we stayed home and kicked back waiting for the a/c repairmen to come. One of our units had frozen up. It ended up needing a full servicing, which we hadn’t done since 2008. Yikes! If you haven’t done this yet, you should. It was about $120 for the service and two guys spent 4 hours or so on it. You should also check the filters periodically for dust collection in the meantime. We carved out the wait time as well and had already planned a stay at home day. Linaya met the girls and the little boy next door (who is a cute, little pistol) and we had fun playing charades and trying to understand and learn each other’s language. Since we were unable to go to the beach, this was the perfect passage of time and experience for her on this day. We did lots of little things like replace weather stripping, hang a couple of hooks behind the door for the Swiffer mop and broom (what a great space saving spot!) and reorganize shelves in the kitchen. We thought a lot about future projects, too.

We saw Edwin, the lobster guy, and we bought 6 lobster tails (for $180 pesos) from him and cooked them on our grill. We ate most of our meals at home on this trip, which really encouraged us to look at the kitchen space. It’s been a real plus adding the outdoor kitchen counter and BBQ as we can prepare much of our dinner outdoors and of course, that’s always the meal where you make the most mess. This is such great added space when we have company over.

We spent a day up at Akumal, which turned out to be one of Linaya’s most favorites. She didn’t get the hang of snorkeling yet as she still has a fear of ‘not breathing’ underwater. I think she needs to do more swim lessons here in the NW and more trips to Mexico with her. She was content playing in the water with a kickboard and a giant blow up Orca, which looked funny in Caribbean. She met some darling kids that were here age from California, one a girl named Katie who was just her age. The girls ran about from shop to shop with 50 pesos apiece and Linaya returned with a ukele. After 6 hours of rotisserie cooking myself in the sun and breaks under the umbrella, it was time to go home as I had returned to the casa with hot, sunburned skin. Coincidentally, they were staying in a house on Belize. The mum and grand mum were originally from England, and had these lovely accents.

We decided to stay out of the sun the next day and drove out the Coba road for fun and to look for lighting. The fan over our dining room table went out, so rather than replace it, we decided to take the easy and cheap way out for now and replace it with a gourd light. We’d been eyeing them for a couple of years, but didn’t have a spot for one until now. There is a small hut on the right hand side of the road in Macario Gomez just next door to the older gentlemen who makes the beautiful carving reproductions. There’s a lovely Mayan couple who live here with their two daughters. Linaya enjoyed a leisurely visit with the little girls who lived there and their adorable kittens while we waited for our lamp to be finished. I’d asked about adding shells to a particular light I liked and they obliged my request right on the spot. So, if you’re looking for a gourd light, I would recommend this family business.

We stopped along the way home at the Honey Store and bought some candy, some of their amazing aloe gel for sunburns and finally, they had HONEY! Did you know that they actually make the honey there? If you haven’t been here, you’ve got to check it out. The small hard sesame-honey candies are delicious! The gel is amazing and takes the heat right out of sunburn. I found this product several years ago and Keri Kunkle can attest to its healing qualities! There are lots of new places out on the Coba road, even during low season. I can imagine what it will be like come high season. It’s always a nice drive to take. We topped off our afternoon with ice cream in Tulum. If you haven’t been to El Michoacan across from Charlie’s, you are definitely missing out! Not only do they have the prettiest and tastiest helados in town, but such a nice place to sit out front to people watch or in their backyard garden, which is beautiful and shaded.

We had arranged to do a turtle walk at Xcacel for a Monday evening. Linaya was eager to see turtles nesting and wished she didn’t have to wait. Besides she was privy to conversations we’d had with various people, Margo included, that all you really have to do is walk along the beach at night. We heard reports that this was a fabulous season with many turtles and nests doing their thing along the Riviera Maya. Plus she was pretty adamant about watching this happen under the full moon as it did in one of her story books. We met up with our new friends from California at the Lol Ha and started walking down the beach. There were so many nests everywhere this year that you had to constantly change your path as you walked through the sand. We came upon a beach patrol who had a bucket of baby turtles and that was exciting for the kids. Eventually, we hooked up with the folks from CEA and they also were releasing some babies into the sea. As we turned to walk back we saw a giant sea turtle digging her nest with a small crowd around her. This was happening right on South Akumal Bay and up against some stairs that led to a villa. We watched patiently for a while and she finally got frustrated and left, crawling about 15 feet to the south where she started to dig again. We got the attention of the CEA team and they asked how long she’d been at it. Although it was a Saturday night and not a scheduled ‘tour night’ they shared great information with us. The female turtle was now in that ‘trance’ mode and Linaya actually got down in the sand on her hands and knees, looked into her face and watched her as she laid egg after egg into the deep hole she’d dug. We lucked out and had our own turtle walk and best of all, it was free! Perfect, as most of you know it’s been a sparse few years for the economy and we’ve been directly affected. By the way, Xcacel is now charging $30 US per person for the turtle walk. I am certain that the money goes to a good cause though. Children 8 and under are free.

Monday came and we ended up running a few errands in Playa in the morning and going to Puerto Aventuras for lunch at Gringo’s Catina formerly known as Gringo Dave’s. We’d not been before and were curious to check it out and of course, see the dolphins. Puerto Aventuras is a gated community with a marina, Dolphin Discovery, golf course – it seems like its own little city and sort of reminded me of Lido Island, Newport Beach, CA back in the day with a little bit of funky vibe. There was a strange scum that floated on the surface of the water, which Linaya told us that she learned it was the dolphin’s skin. A dolphin sheds an entire layer of skin every two hours.I didn’t remember seeing this when we went to Xel Ha, but I imagine there are seasons where they shed more just like a dog would.

Quite naturally Linaya wasn’t interested in food, but walked around looking at the dolphins while we sat under an umbrella having some ceviche and cerveza while watching from our table. She had her camera with her and our budding photographer was enjoying herself immensely.

It wasn’t long before she asked if she could swim with dolphins, and how could I say no? We asked about the next swim time and we were going to miss it if we didn’t hurry! Linaya made it in the nick of time and soon walked into the water with us watching from the sidelines. What a brave little girl! In she went……dolphin heaven! This was the other ‘highlight’ of the trip for her and for us to watch the smile on her face!

We walked around the marina afterwards and came across Captain Rick’s Fishing and thought about how much fun it would be to go out fishing next time we’re down. We’d only been out on a small panga type boat of Akumal before and I believe at about the same price or even cheaper with a group of people. Check out this boat and it’s name. Kind of apropros under the circumstances. We’ll have many opportunities to go out fishing in the future.

After the past couple of days and the fact that Linaya was able to meet her two vacation goals (the turtles and the dolphins), we decided to pass on the walk at Xcacel. Considering the economy and our lack of non-discretionary funds, it worked in our favor to see the turtles other places we went. Later that evening, we tried El Mariachi in Tulum one evening. I wish I would have stopped in at an internet café for reviews first. It deceives you with its colorful and attractive façade and its busy look. The service was extremely slow, the food expensive and bland. We ordered the surf & turf plate to share and there was more garnish on the plate than food. As we sat and waited, we saw other unhappy faces around us. Not a good sign and in retrospect, we should have gotten up and left. Almost two hours and $60 later, which is expensive for two meals in Mexico, we went home and drowned our sorrows in ice cream.

Monday evening Mark and I went on a date. Linaya went over to hang out and watch movies with Michelle. We went to La Zebra in Tulum for an evening under the full moon and a light dinner and some mojitos. I love theirs as they make them with pure sugar cane. It was low season and we knew it wasn’t likely we’d be finding any live music on a Monday night. What we didn’t realize is that we’d be thoroughly entertained by a turtle coming up to lay eggs. There were only about 6 patrons that evening, including us. We were talking with the waiter about the turtle season and what a good one it seemed to be. We had seen many nests on all of the beaches we’d visited. All of a sudden, I was the first to notice her crawling up towards the restaurant and alerted the waiter as he’d just started to leave and go for our drinks. Eventually as she neared the restaurant, the waiter asked if we minded them turning off the lights and of course, we replied “please do!” We continued to watch as she’d set in for the dig. She had yet to settle into the ‘trance’, when some yahoos were walking towards the beach with a flashlight. They continued onto the shoreline where they stayed a few minutes and turned around to walk back through the jungle area between La Zebra and some cabanas. They spotted the turtle with their light and continued to shine it in her direction – into her eyes. We all yelled at the passersby but by this time the turtle had stopped digging her nest and started to quickly retreat to the sea! Then we couldn’t believe what we were seeing. The guy started chasing the turtle. By this time we are yelling at him again. Finally one of the patrons we’d visited with earlier and who was closest, bound down the stairs of the deck and across the sand to stop him and explain to him the problem he was causing. Sheesh! I was so surprised that he wouldn’t know that this was wrong. Hadn’t he read anything? Or heard anything? Obviously oblivious! We were sad to see her frightened, I wonder if she came back out later that night. I am hoping that the restaurants, hotels and property owners in the area, including all of us, better educate our family, friends and guests about the protection of the turtles and this ecosystem that we’re all a part of.

It was so wonderful to spend some time at the big cenote, Xhunaan Ha, which is out the jungle road behind Chan Chemuyil.  It was a very hot, humid Sunday afternoon. There were several of the local families there having a great time, but it didn’t feel crowded. After much contemplation, Linaya decided it was time to get rid of her fear of deep water. There’s a rope that goes from one side to the other and with Papa easy talking her across, she made it! We brought a couple of kickboards and bunch of noodles and ended up sharing them with everyone. How I wish I knew the language! I’m so impressed with those of you who speak Spanish even fairly. I get by, but I would love to find more time to learn and use both Spanish and Maya.

The only real work we did this time was some pruning of our bougainvillea and mandevilla. We cleaned out the beds on our patio really well and added some pretty white rock that we’d gotten up in Playa at the place that Joe and Renee first took us too, Cupulas y Bovedas. They have a wonderful selection of rocks and amazing selection of tile. Their prices are pretty good, too. I seem to make a trip up here every visit and they seem to know my face now.

That’s about it…..time to start planning for the next trip. I’ve already got a suitcase started with a few new things for the casa. I know that my tan is fading faster than my memories. As fall sets in, the planning and the memories will keep us both warm!

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

A summary of our second trip to our casa

October 2008 – Another successful trip to Casa Paraiso!

We arrived at the airport Tuesday afternoon around 1:30pm and got the green light at customs after “showing” the curious customs officer what was in all that luggage we had. Gave him my spreadsheet of items new & used and the receipts and prices totalled. He liked that I was so organized…….it is helpful for us too as we try and remember what all we have taken to the casa. Easyway was there to greet us and took us back to their office for a cold mini Sol and away we went in our VW Pointer wagon. Mark was thrilled about that since we had originally booked the Tsuru special. The car is older, a bit funky and lacks ammenities such as good A/C and music output, but TODO BIEN.

Down 307 we head and stop to fill our bellys at El Oasis which is next door to the old Telebodega – yum! Then we stop in at at our favorite Hellabodega (the nickname we’ve given to Telebodega) first thing to replace the airbed that I have grown so tired of. It didn’t take us too long to figure out what we wanted in a King size bed (which you need if you’re 6 ft tall or over). We also got the wood bases. We did the two twins with the option to put them together for a king – works great! Then we hit Soriana for a few basics like milk for our coffee, beer and water, yogurt, lunchmeat, cheeses and fresh rolls. I really like this store a lot -a great alternative to WalMart. We arrived at our casa and the rest of the days all seem to run together as we were busier than heck!

SOME HIGHLIGHTS –

Our beds arrived and we enjoyed putting the rooms together and hanging the new curtains made by Mark’s sweet mommy!  The curtain rods are bamboo and the rod holders came from the carpenter in Francisco Huy (on the Coba road). The great deals on bedding from all of our favorite discount stores and my TJ Maxx $20 lamps worked out great! Mark finished our closet organizer that he built from pine and stained a beautiful dark tone.  We used nice bamboo poles (purchased at a furniture store in the Centro Maya mall) for the closet rods. We’re planning on the louvered doors in the future to finish it off.

Our dear neighbor Gustavo (and we met his adorable, sweet wife Ena at the party) came over and helped communicate with our neighbors Marco y Mary about finishing our side of his wall and installing a gate. So, that is taken care of and what a relief!  Now Falcon Home Remodeling can complete the great job they did on our patio wall.  I can’t wait to get plants and have so many ideas for completing our backyard oasis.

Monday morning of Mark’s 53rd birthday we woke early and went to Xcacel for a lovely walk down the beach. It still amazes us that we have stumbled upon our own little piece of paradise here. We took a swim at 7:30am in the Caribbean Sea laying on our backs with the sun behind us and the moon still high up in the sky in front of us.  Amazing beauty!!!  We were in such bliss as we began walking back to our car swinging our coffee cups in our hands…….then realizing the car key was in Mark’s mug was now somewhere in the sand.  We looked behind us to see some of our footprints had been washed away!!! Our hearts sunk and we began searching…..but gave in as it was like looking for a needle in a haystack. We walked back to the casa and called Easyway. They rescued us with a new key a few hours later! And no charge on our credit card for that service!!!  Great car rental company! HIGHLY RECCOMMENDED!

Our daughter, Amanda and her boyfriend arrived on Monday evening, muling down another 150 lbs. of goods.  We ate dinner at El Fogon in the colosio – their food is awesome as usual and the price can’t be beat. They are on 30th and have two locations – one north of Constituyentes and the other south of and close to Juarez. It was great having the kids come down to check out the house and show them the ropes as they both work for Alaska Airlines and will likely use the place occasionally.

We drove out the road to Coba and found a huge place in Macario Gomez to get ironwork. We wanted to get the gate ordered and installed, but knew we had little time left. We asked how long it would take and he said about a week – told him we needed it done sooner since we were leaving on Friday. It was delivered and installed 28 hours later! Wondeful work and service, excellent price! I’ll post pictures soon.

Also, picked up a couple of stools on the road to Coba from the same carpenter where we purchased our Adirondack style chair.  $330 pesos each. There’s a great nursery on that road also that I want to go back to with some awesome prices and a decent selection for a small operation. There was an adorable baby coatamundi handing out in the nursery.The Mayans out here in these villages are quiet and speak no English, but they are pleasant and very patient people. Bring a translator. We have a little Franklin one that we couldn’t do without!

We ate in Akumal one evening with Amanda and Peter and enjoyed a quiet, stormy evening at the Lol Ha. I  really love the tropical type storms that pass over. Being from Washington, we are really used to the rain, so warm rain is a special treat. The contrast of the bright, turquoise water and the dark skies is beautiful!

 

Oh, almost forgot – on the road to Coba we saw a tarantula the size of a salad plate cross the road. Wow! Mark and Peter actually saw him first as he made his way under the car and I then looked in the rear view mirror watching him complete his journey across the highway.  He was HUGE!

Our last day we got a load of dirt (love the light colored soil) and Mark, Peter and Dale Campbell our neighbor across the street hauled ass and shoveled and wheelbarrowed a 7 cubic meter load into the front yard. Gustavo gave us some nice low lying plants and Mark put them in and accented them with some citronella candles and a couple of big, old conch shells. This all as we were packing up and closing down the house. I was running a couple of errands to the pueblo back and forth and coming back on the jungle road, the car died!  It sparked and when I saw a few flames, I freaked……grabbed my camera and the shovel I’d just purchased for the guys and jumped out of the car. I was relieved that all the laundry in the car didn’t go up in flames as I walked back to the casa. Fortunately I was only about a block and a half away. When Mark opened the hood, he saw that the battery had been installed backwards!!!  Ugh! Here we are, in the midst of this busy morning of departure and now this!  Once again Easyway to the rescue with a new car for us in plenty of time to get to the airport. TODO BIEN!

NEW FINDS –

Empanada Joe’s in Tulum pueblo – Great coffee, empanadas and beverages like aguas frescas and smoothies. The hibiscus cold tea is delicious!  And they have free WiFi! Nice place! (Sadly, this place is now closed.)

Cocopesa in Tulum pueblo – We went here to order tierra (soil) and found that they have an awesome selection of tools and hardware as well at paint and many other things. They had 20% off anything Truper that day and every Saturday they have 30% off. I bought a shovel and a garden rake, each around $10, actually less with the exchange (which was better than we’d all seen in a loooong time!). There’s a woman named Sahara that works there and speaks very good English and is a joy to talk to about everything! Sweet lady!

New hardware store in Chemuyil pueblo – well new to us actually. I guess they’ve been open for quite a few months but we just found it.  It’s just around the corner from the big grocery that is just east of Leo’s. They have a lot there for a small hardware store. We needed another shovel on the last day to move dirt and it was also a great price – around $10 also. We seemed to have to run over there a couple of times for some items and it’s nice to do business in our local town. In fact, we have decided that we wouldn’t make any special trips to Home Depot in Cancun for anything ever again. They really don’t have all you need and it’s much too far. Only reason we went was we were going to the airport and Costco anyway. I did find a really good floor squeegie there though. We actually find the same issue here at our local Home Depots too…..and prefer McLendon’s which is an original local hardware store (small chain) that has been around for many decades.

Well, that’s all for now……there were so many fun times and great meals, some of which were prepared in our own cocina. We had a really wonderful time meeting so many new neighbors and friends. We are loving this new phase of our lives and feel ultimately blessed!

 
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Posted by on October 28, 2008 in Uncategorized

 

Our first trip to meet our new home in Mexico

July 2008 – Phsew! You all may be saying the same thing after you read this lengthy report, but it covers 10 glorious days in paradise. I apologize in advance for possibly too many details, or for not doing it in parts, but grab a beer, pull up a sit and hope you enjoy it!

Where to begin? I wish that I would have done a daily journal as my “new” 50 year old brain is not as sharp in memory retention as it once was.  This was our third trip to Quintana Roo and we would have never in our wildest dreams imagined having our very own little piece of paradise!  It was Akumal that really touched our hearts on our first trip and now how wonderful to have found the neighboring town of Chemuyil to become our home away from home.

We arrived in Cancun at 4:45pm, went through customs with 4 very large suitcases that were all 50 lbs. give or take some ounces.  The lines went very quickly and we got the green light – GO!  Onto Easyway for our car rental which was also fairly quick and they even gave us each a cold mini Sol while we did the paperwork.  Great service, great car for our purposes…..we were delighted they gave us a VW station wagon as we were only expecting the basis economy car.  Do check them out!

After months of anticipation and waiting we were on our way to one of the greatest adventures of our lives!  The traffic in Playa is brutal nowadays and that took awhile to get through at that time of evening.  We arrived at Jeri and Steve Sayers a bit late for the 4th of July BBQ and we felt so welcomed being able to meet many wonderful neighbors.  We had just missed Nolan and Farrah from B.C., our Canadian neighbors to the north of us……..and I’m sure we missed others those last couple of days as we saw new faces driving past our casita waving.  It was energizing to see how busy everyone was!

We got our keys from Rob after Jeri had made numerous attempts to get them during the week. We’re very glad Rob was there! We opened the front door to our casa and we were pleasantly surprised to see it sparkling clean and so bright looking! We had originally seen one of the houses on our own that was sitting wide open last fall as Bill and Rob were away in Chetumal getting everything set with IPAE. Thank you Claudia & team for having the house in such lovely condition for our arrival!  Although we were running on only 3 hours of sleep and had been up since 3am Seattle time, we were so jazzed to finally be here!  I had to almost pinch myself. We blew up our aerobed and pulled out our novels that were hard to focus on as we continued to talk about what the next day’s plans were. Sleep came and so did morning!

Here’s a picture of our casa in the beginning…….

We woke early and checkout out our new place well, now that it was daylight. It was 7:45am, Saturday and we were on the road again. We stopped at the Turtle Bay Café in Akumal for a hearty breakfast that would last the day. This is a great spot to have a bite to eat and with decent prices……and free wi-fi. Back up to Cancun to Costco as we wanted to check out pricing on mattresses and see what they had in the way of other furniture, patio furniture, etc. We ended up buying a large cooler, a couple of beach chairs and a supply of liquor to bring back home to the states.

Next stop the glass factory and bought a beautiful set of 6  blue rimmed glasses and matching pitcher with a sailboat and palm trees etched into them for $300 pesos. We then went into the Teak Factory, Caribbean Home and a couple of other muebles (furniture) stores in the strip mall next door. Got some ideas but since we had just begun and weren’t familiar with pricing yet we decided to keep looking. Ended up next at the old Telebodega (which I wouldn’t recommend) as it was a very hot store with no A/C. Left there after a brief run through. By this time we were getting hungry again as it was around 3pm.  We no sooner pulled out of the parking lot and there was El Oasis right next door.  We’d wanted to go here on previous trips but never did find it. Great tacos and salsas!  We each had 2 tacos and a beer.  It was a really nice atmosphere even if it is on the highway and they have really cute young waiters.

Next stop – the new humongous Telebodega store!  We probably spent close to 2.5 hours in there looking at appliances, furniture and mattresses. They have great prices and a good selection. The stove and refrigerator we wanted had to come from Cancun and they were to be delivered on Monday. We did end up with ceiling fans and a microwave, so at least we could heat up water for our French coffee press that we brought with us as a temporary café station. Oh, and we got a nice blender too!  It’s stainless and was $53. We found overall that small appliances and electronics are more expensive in Mexico. Last stop Soriana for some housewares…..after browsing through City Club and Coppel. We bought cleaning supplies, dishes and a few grocery items. The mall is nice with internet access in the food court and at the Italian Coffee Company and lots of A/C, so it’s a great place to escape the heat of the day, too.

By the time we arrived back home to Chan Chemuyil it was after 6pm. After unpacking everything, we went into the pueblo and ate at Leo’s ordering up a couple of beers and the pizza with langosta and camarones – delicioso! What a busy and very productive first day.

Sunday we had a leisurely morning around the casa and went for a walk around the “hood” to see all the activity and check out the cenotes. We ran into Maggie packing it in to go back home – she was so sad to have to leave this very special place. We chatted a bit and hugged. We headed back to the casa afterwards, thinking about how we’d feel a week later when it would be time for us to leave.

We decided to take a drive into Tulum and picked up a few housewares at a little abbarotes tienda, found a number 5 Talavera tile to hang for our address and picked up a roasted chicken at a place on the West side of the highway and ate it curbside with a cold beer. We decided to take a drive out towards Coba to see what artisans and craftsmen we’d find. Some places were closed since it was Sunday and there was not many people traveling the road. We were on the hunt for furniture and we came across a place in Francisco Huy that is right next to a mini-super and the store was being minded by a young Mayan boy about 8 years old.  Although it was difficult to communicate we really had fun trying and using our translator and learning. Everyone we met was always so patient with our clumsiness and effort of trying. They had beautiful things there – armoires, tables, chairs and some great prices. We got a lovely Adirondack chair for $600 pesos. We checked out a nursery in Macario Gomez, but weren’t ready for plants on this trip.

Back home we unloaded our small shopping spree and headed to the beach at Xcacel for the rest of the afternoon. Splashing and jumping in the waves never felt so amazing.  It was good to be back at this lovely beach we first came upon last fall. To think that this is our neighborhood beach was such a good feeling. How lucky we are! The water must have been 85 degrees. And then we got some showers that actually felt really wonderful. We saw Carol and her son Wes and hung out with them for awhile. We chatted about our plans for our casas and enjoyed getting to know one another. We ended up making dinner plans with them and going to eat at La Cueva del Pescador in Akumal. This was a favorite for us as we’d eaten there on our last night during the previous fall visit. I had the Arracherra (melts in your mouth!) and Mark had the grouper. We had a couple of margaritas and left there very satisfied! Our bill for the 4 of us was a mere $640 pesos. Another peaceful sleep in our new casa.

Monday we got up as usual between 6 and 6:30am. We needed to run some errands and be back for the appliances to be delivered by Telebodega between noon and 6pm. Headed into Tulum again to Boxito (pronounced Ba-shee-to) in search of a ladder and a mirror. Found great prices on both. The combination ladder (step to 7ft. high/extension to 12ft.) was unusual as we hadn’t seen one of these in the states. Cost = $810 pesos. We later saw the same ladder at WalMart for $1021 pesos. The mirror is an arched shape with lovely etching and was only $280 pesos.

Mark drew up plans for our closet organizer. We stopped in town and in my Spanglish, we asked two women taxi drivers where we could find wood. She gave us directions and we figured out that it was at the south end of town. We spoke with a Mayan man at the Madereria Cahuacan in our both of our own languages what we needed and agreed to pick it up later. Mark returned in the afternoon with that handy VW station wagon – what a great car!  Meanwhile back at the casa, my handyman decided to hang up the ceiling fans and although it wasn’t difficult for him, he said that paying someone to install them is well worth the money if you don’t have the proper tools. Next we wanted to install our lovely bathroom fixtures that we brought from home. They are a charcoal colored wrought iron with a simple floral motif. He was removing one of the old porcelain towel hooks on the wall next to the sink and it promptly fell off and hit the sink, cracking it!  Well, that new sink we’re wanting is going to be installed sooner than we’d thought. Pretty darn handy, eh? The rest of the job went well and we did a bit more nesting around the house for the rest of the evening. The appliances never made it, so we had to get more ice for the cooler. Mark went over to the pueblo for ice, beer and picked up the “Mexican” pizza from Leo’s for dinner. We had another restful night (as restful as one can be on an aerobed) in our casa.

Tuesday, July 8th and I am officially 50 years old!  I know some people don’t like sharing their age, but I am happy to be where I’m at right now.  Beats the hell out of the alternative! So, the one thing I didn’t want to do on my birthday was go shopping but you can’t always get what you want, so a shopping we will go.  PDC was hectic and busy as usual, but I did find my first item for hanging on the wall, a beautiful handpainted crucifix.  We were also looking for lamps, but nada. We finally found Rumbo Deco, (which is just south of Juarez y 30th) and their furniture is beautiful!  Severin was in Switzerland (?) but we met her wonderful husband. We are going to order the futon sofa sleeper soon so that it’s there when we arrive in October. The wood and finish work is beautiful!  It was really pouring down rain in Playa and as we headed back south to Chemuyil, the skies cleared again. We freshened up and headed over to the Lol-Ha to meet up with all of our great neighbors for a birthday celebration. We had some drinks and appetizers and then headed to La Cueva del Pescador for more drinks (damn those margaritas are something else!) and a wonderful dinner. I had the lobster and as usual it was muy delicioso!!!  The food and the service there are really great!  A fun evening was had by all……even the teenagers, who had their own table next to ours. What great kids!  It’s nice to see them getting to know each other and hanging out too!

Next morning we had fuzzy heads from the margaritas, so Mark decides he needs to “work it out” and sweat the impurities from his body. He got to work on the wood we picked up for the closet organizer. I assisted his efforts for awhile as his go-fer and then headed off to the beach in Akumal to rest in the sun and the sea washing away the effects of the night before that were still somewhat lingering. Oops, but how to get there? In the name of safety we left the car at the Lol-Ha the night before and took a cab home. I walked out to the highway to catch the collective or cab and instead along came Sergio and Hilary! The beach was a good place to be as so many folks were there that afternoon – Jeri and Steve and the kids on their last day, Vicki and Curtis and their kids – and then Carol and her son, Wes came a bit later. I swam with my first turtle in Akumal Bay that day so I was a very happy woman!

When I arrived home (dontcha’ just love it!) Mark had made some good progress and finally our appliances had arrived!  We were both pretty exhausted and decided to run into Tulum and grab some dinner at Charlie’s and check email at the Internet café. We were back at the casa and in bed by 9:30pm. Another peaceful, dreamy sleep.

Thursday morning I went over to the pueblo and went to Pastor Gambor’s Panaderia (Bakery). What a nice man and he sells a nice assortment of fresh and muy delicioso pastries and breads!  Do check it out! I also went to pick up some laundry we had done for a mere $40 pesos. If you have delicates or things that you really cherish, I would probably wash those by hand and hang dry.

Our appointment with the Notario in Cancun wasn’t until 5pm but we wanted to leave early enough so we didn’t have to stress out about time.  We followed Claudia’s instructions and parked at the Las Americas Mall and took a taxi from there.  Good thing – you think the traffic is bad in Playa.  It was nice to relax and take in the scenery of this bustling city.  We arrived quite early and talked with a taxi driver who spoke great English – we must have looked a little lost to him – and he told us where we could get some good eats.  From the Notario’s office – head east to the corner and walk 3 blocks north. Turn left and in the middle of the block you will find a small seafood restaurant that was actually quite good and our bill for lunch was $55 pesos!!!  We each had the special and had already two soft drinks we’d purchased at the corner store. We got back to the Notario’s office which is beautiful and air conditioned, so we were feeling relaxed by this time, when in walk some gringos – I knew they had to be from Chan Chemuyil.  It was Bruce and Sandy who we met for the first time. Very nice people……sorry we couldn’t make it to their open house on Sunday as we were leaving.  Look forward to meeting them again next trip hopefully.  Everything went quick and easy at the Notario’s office and then we headed off to Home Depot for more supplies and to shop for lamps……still nothing in the lamp department.  We got back to the casa around 9pm and went straight to bed as we were pooped!

Friday morning we were up and out the door to Akumal Bay for our fishing trip! Two young pescadores that work at La Cueva took us out for a 3 and half hour trip in a partially covered panga boat.  We weren’t out for 10 minutes before Marked hooked a 3 foot long barracuda. They troll a lot faster for fish there than we do up north here for salmon.  We were thrilled to see big sea turtles up close and out in the sea swimming along. It was also great to see our beach from a boat.  When you get past the Bahia Principe and starting at Chemuyil Bay, the beach becomes very secluded and you no longer see resorts and condos……it’s really quite peaceful.  Just after we passed Xcacel Beach Mark hooked a grouper.  That fish must have weighed 35 lbs.  It was huge! After all that the guys asked if we were ready to snorkel.  We stopped at a reef just off Tankah Bay and snorkeled for about 30 minutes.  It was really nice, saw lots of fish and it felt so good to cool off!  We hopped back in the boat and trolled back up to Akumal Bay losing an even larger barracuda on the way.  Well, it was a great trip and we’d definitely do it again.  It was nice to be out on a boat, that was a first for us in this part of Mexico.  When we got back everyone was checking out the “catch of the day” and Carlos from La Cueva wanted to know what time we’d be back for dinner.  We went back to the casa, did a few things and got cleaned up for dinner.  We ran into Kathi and invited her to join us for dinner and Carol and Wes stopped by too and we asked them to come along as well.  Our grouper was prepared in 3 different ways – grilled in butter, grilled in garlic sauce and also a curry sauce.  Muy delicioso! The bill was for $220 pesos for the 5 of us – charge was for the drinks only. I was going to get Mark an award of a La Cueva del Pescador T-shirt but they only had mediums.  Hopefully when we return in October they’ll have his size.  He’s got to have one to go along with his fish stories.

Saturday we met with Joe and Renee in Playa to pick out a the bathroom sink (thank you Mark for the breaking the old one).  They are such wonderful people to take the time out of their very busy schedules of getting homes ready for everyone!  This place is awesome and the prices can’t be beat.  We bought our new sink and light cover for the front porch for $620 pesos!  On the way back Chemuyil we stopped to have lunch at Lucy’s Kitchen – great shrimp tacos and black bean tostadas!  Darn, no room for ice cream!  Today was particularly hot and humid so we decided to head off to Xcacel for awhile.  The water was perfect and it was late in the day so it was much quieter here than the Sunday before.  As we were leaving we met Glenn Walker and his daughter Laura at the beach……if there were only enough time to visit with everyone.  His wife and other children were at home taking a siesta so we hope to meet them next time.  We decided to check out the buildings where the turtle camp was taking place.  We met a very nice young woman from Mexico City, Antionette, who spoke English quite well and she told us we could come back in the evening around 8:30pm for the official Turtle Walk.

We went home, showered and Mark started putzing around the casa and I went over to the pueblo to get dinner.  Ended up at Leo’s again and got chicken fajitas for me and arracherra for Mark.  I met Dawn and Terry Thimesch who had just arrived the night before and were having dinner.  When you see a couple of gringos in town at that time of evening it’s easy for us to assume they must be some of the new neighbors.  We chatted a bit and it was so nice meeting both of them!  I had gone over to the store and picked up a six pack of Sol to go with dinner and saw Glenn and Laura again…..and we said another quick “hola”.

After dinner….and to the beloved turtle sanctuary beach, Xcacel. OMG!  This was one of the most incredible adventures I’ve had so far and right on “our very own beach”!  There was a group of about 8 young folks (backpackers I’m assuming) from Europe who were staying in Tulum and another couple a bit younger than us.  We walked along the beach under the moonlight – no flashlights needed – and our first encounter with the turtles was with about 100 baby loggerheads that had just hatched.  They were so cute and so lively.  Much later in the evening they would be released into the sea.  About another half mile down the beach we hit the jackpot!  There was a green turtle laying her eggs.  One by one the eggs dropped, sometimes dropping quickly in 3 or 4 in succession into this perfectly shaped hole that the turtle digs.  Once the turtles are in their trance-like state of laying eggs nothing else matters.  We were gathered around her quite closely and kept very quite whispers.  A small flashlight was placed so that you could view her laying the eggs – over 100 per night and she will do this for 4 or 5 nights in a season. You could only take pictures if you weren’t using a flash.  I hadn’t had time nor could I figure out how my new camera worked in the dark w/o flash, but the couple we were with took pictures and she will email them to me soon hopefully.  They also are interested in renting our casita!  Nice people from San Luis Obispo, California.  Anyway, we never imagined that this turtle walk would be a for sure deal – it was the most incredible thing I think I’ve ever seen in my life, besides of course the birth of my children.  It was such a peaceful and wonderful way to spend our last evening in Chemuyil.  Just another example of how lucky we all are to have a little piece of paradise here!

Sunday morning our last morning in Chan Chemuyil and we were sad that the time had come to go home already. Those 9 days and nights went much too fast!  But, with that realization comes the wonderful feeling of knowing that we get to come back again and again.  We pack up, leaving lighter than we came and head off to the airport.  We realize we hadn’t eaten breakfast and it was now lunchtime, so we decided to stop at the Lol-Ha and have lunch.  Well, who do we run into again but Carol and Wes.  We had a craving for hamburgers and my, did the Lol-Ha burger ever satisfy me for the rest of day.  I also finally got to try those mango margaritas that I’ve heard so much about from Jen.  Yummmy! We enjoyed our last visit at the beach and headed to the airport.  Again, everything went smoothly and we hung out until boarding time.  It was such a good feeling to think about how pretty seamless our plans and our trip went.  While we didn’t get everything done we wanted to, we can add them to the list for next time.  Like Carol said, it is so cool to just run into neighbors all around “the hood”, in the pueblo, at the beach and the stores.  It was yet another special feeling knowing how blessed we are to find such an amazing place to call our home away from home.

So, to all of you who we met……..Jeri, Steve, the Sayer kids, Joe & Renee, Shelly G., Kathi Knedlhans, Maggie aka Kat, Vicki and Curtis and their kids, Carol and son, Wes, Paige’s mom Gayle, her next door neighbor and friend Barb, Claudia, Rob, Bill and his adorable girlfriend Anna, and Bill’s son Chaz and his cute little girlfriend, Steve and Paula from Xcalak, Allen and April Gordon (they have the house with the cool looking shutters), Bruce O’Connell and Sandy Trujillo briefly at the notario, and Mimi and Lowell briefly at the Sayer’s party – Cheers!  Here’s to an incredible group of people that make up the very special Chan Chemuyil!

Thanks again to the BG Realty team for helping us make this happen!  We love our house and look forward to the October meeting to work together on making this one of the best communities in the Mayan Riviera!

If I missed anyone, please forgive my incontinent memory.  Sorry for rambling on, but it is SO nice to relive the memories…..and now back to packing again for the next trip!


 

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2008 in Uncategorized

 

Yal Ku Lagoon, Akumal

I think Yal Ku Lagoon is a great place to visit for many reasons and it’s a perfect half day adventure. On days when the surf is a bit rough this little bay provides calmer waters. I’ve only been twice and would go again. The last time we went it was somewhat stormy and cool elsewhere. This is a wonderful place for beginning snorkelers for this reason. The entry is easy as you sit on a stairway or platform to put on your fins before dropping into the water. There are lots and lots of fish!I love the cave formations and valleys and felt comfortable swimming in between them  and how it felt adventurous. You will notice an oily look to the water – this is caused from the freshwater meeting the saltwater and it does diminish visibility. The park setting is nice with lovely statues (which I think are done by Fransico Zuniga) and there’s a snack bar & refreshment stand there, but I’d recommended bringing your own lunch and refreshments as it’s a bit pricey for what it is. There are nice shady spots for a tailgate picnic or have an inexpensive lunch at Lucy’s Kitchen before leaving Akumal.

Admission is about $7 per person. Go early to beat the tour buses. I think you can return later in the day after a siesta if you want with your bracelet. Yal Ku Lagoon has bathrooms, change-rooms, lockers and they rent snorkel equipment.  There’s also a snack bar. They also stock life-jackets if you require any.

How to get there – Go through the archway at Akumal and follow the road all the way past the condos and eventually you’ll come to Yal Ku near the end of the road.  It is about 3 miles.

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2007 in Uncategorized

 

A very special second trip to the Yucatan Days 11 & 12

Today was our last full day at our home in Akumal so we decided stay at the condo, relax in the sun and do some snorkeling in the bay.

Jill and I found our way out to the Gorgon Forest in Half Moon Bay – it was beautiful. This was probably one of the calmest days in the water so we were able to see a lot of sealife. Still no turtles, but at least we got to see them from the shore feeding in the seagrass area in the mornings and evenings. It was after all the end of the turtle season. I also decided on this last day to download all of my photos onto my laptop and give my new Olympus 770SW the plunge. It is waterproof rated to 33 ft. deep and it worked!  Pshew!  Better safe than sorry as in previous experiences.

We also prepared for the trip home reluctantly. Mark had to go into town to get the tire repair before turning in the car the next day and while he waited he found one of the great massages that we’d read about for a mere $33 for an hour! He said it was definitely one of the best he’d had. Lucky guy! We were so busy having fun this whole time we forgot about our massages we wanted. Again, another item for the next trip’s itinerary.

By the end of the day we were ready for a great meal and decided to spend our last evening at La Cueva del Pescador in Akumal. This restaurant was on our list of places to go, so this was our last chance. The service and food was outstanding!  We ordered lobster, grouper, dorado and a couple of pitchers of margaritas and it was all so delectable! The band was not your typical touristy mariachi band, they were talented classical musicians with sweet music for our ears and our hearts. We were feeling quite happy and loopy when we left and also a little melancholy that our time here in Akumal had come to an end. Talk about saving the best for last.

We wake with a little heaviness in our heads and our hearts. Our last beautiful sunrise……and we’re packing it in.  It’s going home day……boo hoo!  But, all good things must come to an end.  We will forever be touched by our experiences here in the Roo. We loved it the first time, we love it even more now.  We’ll definitely leave a piece of our hearts behind to be tended again and again. We missed Steve being here with us…….as he was always on our minds and will forever be in our hearts.

May the wind and waves of the sea wash away the pain and may their footprints in the sand lead Jill and Sara towards new horizons at each new dawn. Love lives on!

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2007 in Uncategorized