Cozumel- chaos, colors and closeups

Well, it has been quite a week for me here on the island of Cozumel.  Some good, some bad, one moment where I snapped and then the realization that I should return to my roots; taking photos with my new camera and putting it all down in writing.  A full circle of events that got me sitting back at the computer to put it all in perspective.

It started out by someone bringing me my favorite candy from the states by way of Tulum (they kept them in a cooler).  Then she was nice enough to bring them over to the house, how selfless was that for a person on her vacation?  I’ve been rationing them out daily knowing that they are more traveled than the average U.S. citizen, which, somehow, makes them taste even better (thanks, Becky).

Then, last Tuesday afternoon,  the email came that told me that my book was to be put on the back burner, for now, until all requested changes were implemented.  I knew it had all happened too quickly and simply.  So I sent a copy to a good friend of mine who edits for a living and, to my dismay, she immediately agreed with them.  So, okay, back to the drawing board, and with a bit more urgency.  I do want to be published for something other than a few short stories about women’s lives.

After that I did what one should never do when upset.  I went out for a day of determined fun due to my disappointment. That’s never a good combination.   That, in turn, led to using my camera in creative ways, with one, or two, slightly regrettable moments while taking photos of the customers.  Most were good spirited, a few were surprised, but one gentleman’s expression told me it was time to pack it in and head home.  I decided he was right.  But, it was what happened next that caused the snap.

First, a little back story.  I take taxis about three times a week.  Now, when I take a cab a long distance there is one driver that I call who is always prompt and courteous. Otherwise, I just stick to the drivers standing about.  With them, on average (about once every other week) a driver tries to make a bit more profit.  Unfortunately, this average changed last Tuesday.  In the morning, about 10:30, I had been grocery shopping at Chedraui.  I’d bought a bit more than expected so I took a cab.  Forgetting the rule to barter before getting in he attempted to tell me that he didn’t have change for a hundred pesos.  We’d driven six blocks and it was late morning.  Since I hadn’t yet received the disappointing email I handled it well.  I simply stood with the money in my hand until he found the change that I knew he had.

Then the email and my friend’s confirmation.  So, out I went for that day of fun.  Several hours later, as mentioned, my disappointment needed to be brought home and dealt with in private.  So I stopped at the Mega and asked the driver how much he would charge me to take me home.  I was remembering to barter and I was proud of myself.  Now, I live in Corpus Christi across from the church, not a long drive, but too long a walk in the sun.  He announced that the going rate was 100 pesos.  Even though I heard him, I was sure I hadn’t and asked again.  In a clear voice, and in perfect English, he repeated that the rate was 100 pesos.  Now, for those who don’t live here, the going rate would have been about 20-25 pesos for a taxi on the street, and a bit more for one waiting at a place such as Mega.  But, not 100 pesos and that was the moment I snapped.

Out came my camera.  I took photos of him, his cab, the other drivers who were now coming closer, and their cabs.  It all ended with every one of them refusing to drive me anywhere, which led to my sitting in a cab in protest.  I wasn’t going to move until he took me home.  Problem was, he now had me too.  He then insisted on 80 pesos and, now that I was a bit nervous, and protesting in his cab without options, I reluctantly agreed before things escalated further.  And, for anyone who is interested, I’ve already spoken with someone who has lived here a long time and she assured me that I should not do that again.  And, since I haven’t snapped in the four years I’ve lived in Mexico, I probably won’t.  But, I do miss those old protest days.  I’d just forgotten, for a second, that I wasn’t on the streets of Cleveland in 1969 and the old hippie in me had arisen.

After a day of rest and reflection I realized that I needed to get back to what is so good, for me, about living on this island.  The ability to write, and rewrite, in a peaceful, garden environment, and the ability to take pics of all the colors.  I, usually, have simple needs. For my health I chose to focus on the wondrous flowers we have here with a camera that allows for closeups.  For me, beauty heals all and that beauty is what I decided to share with you in the hopes that, when you have one of those weeks, you too can remember why we are all here on Cozumel.  Salud!

There’s a new place in town……….

I currently live on the island of Cozumel and a few weeks ago a friend asked me to join her at a new sports bar.  The place had just opened, a good friend of hers was the bartender, and she wanted to show her support.  Always happy to tag along I was brought to the No Name Sports Bar on Melgar, just across the street from the Mega.  It’s a cozy place with lots of tables and televisions as well as a horseshoe shaped bar and a backdoor peek at the sunset. It is the newest place in town to get that sports fix that so many seem to crave whether residents, or tourists.  I was, as always, introduced to just about everyone in the place and I did what I usually do, I just sat back and enjoyed. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I returned just a few days back with my camera.  I thought I’d capture a few pics of the place and the people during the game so that I could pass the info along.

Jan, the bartender, greeted me at the door as soon as I walked in.  She’s quite friendly, remembered me, posed on request, and then  brought me a drink in a matter of just a few moments.  It doesn’t get much better than that.  And, since it was a Monday night, I had assumed it would be a good night to check out how quickly other folks were discovering the place.  Meanwhile, since I was still ahead of the game, I stepped out their back door for a second to take a few shots of the sunset. I have a new camera that I’m still learning about and I decided it was good practice. There is a pool bar out there as well as a great view of the ocean, so I clicked away for a few moments without ever having to leave the doorway.

Not long after that people started to arrive to stake their claim for viewing of one of the four flat screens.  Single guys, groups, couples, and a few solo customers began to fill the place.  Many seemed to know each other, but there were some, like me, who didn’t know everyone’s name.  Still, I’m happy to say, I felt included and the folks were quite friendly.  They easily agreed to have their pics taken, and a few even decided to take that extra step with the experience.  I’m speaking of one particular table where the guys just decided to regress a little and have a great time.  They were having fun, and  shared  contagious smiles, which is always a good combination.

Now, I didn’t stay for the whole evening, and, to be quite honest, I have to admit I’m not a football fan.  In fact, I’d been a “football widow” for enough years that I’d have to be hard pressed to enjoy the game.  But, I like new places and friendly people so I managed to stick it out for about an hour, or so.  I talked with a few folks briefly, had another drink, and was able to leave before the real cheering began.  In fact, I wish I could tell you who was playing, but I’m not even sure.   There’s a reason I’m not a sports writer.  Still, a good time was had and I’m glad you came along.  Salud!

p.s. I am never compensated for these little tidbits, but I do like to share good experiences!

My couch floats……….

Although it was only about 4 in the morning,  something woke me up.  Maybe it was the tongues of my two dogs, both trying to climb into my bed, both shaking apart. Or, as I quickly figured out, maybe it was the storm itself.  It only took a second to realize what was happening since lightning brought my bedroom into full view and I hadn’t flipped the switch yet.

I got up, threw  a robe on over my man-sized t-shirt and headed out to the living room.  Now, I’d spent the last two days on my hands and knees using our beloved “acido” to wash the floors.  I’m not a big fan of the discoloration the tiles get in the cracks down here in “the tropics.”   But, as clean as they were, I still couldn’t understand why the tiles were reflecting the windows so well.  And, my couch seemed to be moving; something was definitely not right.  So, I turned on the lights.  That was when I saw the water and there was a lot.

You see, I live on the island of Cozumel, Mexico, and we have the appropriate weather that comes with our little bit of paradise.  Usually it is quite lovely, but we do have our moments  and this was one of them.  What I call home happens to be a cute, but small apartment located on a second floor in the Corpus Christi neighborhood of San Miguel.  It only has two  rooms, but with a galley kitchen, a bath, and it all comes with a huge cement deck. The deck was definitely the reason I took the place.  I’ve been busily filling it with plants,  furniture, and whatnots and, soon, there will be a mural painted on one of the walls, it’s going to be perfect.    But, at about 4 this morning, perfection was far from my mind.  In fact,  I wasn’t too sure of anything other than the fact that my floor was getting washed, again.

My place is quite inexpensive, which is a good thing since I live on a teacher’s pension.  But, that old saying that you “get what you pay for” applies.  My kitchen sink leaks a little, as does my toilet and, apparently, my roof, walls, and windows too.  Ironically, what doesn’t “leak” are the storm drains on my roof deck.  Due to the screening that my landlord put over the holes, all it takes is a single leaf laying against the grate and all the water backs up.  On more than one occasion I’ve stood in the pouring rain clearing off the leaves and all of the other bits of stuff that can accumulate on a deck so the drains can do their job.  I also worry about my landlord’s home downstairs since all the water is probably not just laying quietly on my deck.  Since so much leaks from my roof into my apartment, I can assume that much would leak into his if I didn’t keep the grates clean.  So, I try to keep ahead of the flood.

But, this time it must have been raining for quite a spell before my dogs got me up.  The water was coming in from all angles, the roof, windows, walls, and underneath my doors due to the disabled storm drains.  Oh, and let me mention that, once I came back inside from clearing them off, I noticed that my couch was now in the middle of the room.  I felt relief knowing that, in case of a true flood, my little couch was still big enough to hold both me and my dogs.  Sort of a Noah’s ark, but with pillows.

Out came my collection of flood materials.  My mop, broom, and all the towels I could collect. I started to “sweep” the water out the doors (I have another smaller deck out back) and then laid down towels to try to stop the small amount that was still coming in.  I also put a couple of ice cube trays underneath my flat bottomed couch to help it to stay in one place and dry.  Meanwhile my dogs were smart enough to stay on the elevated section where my kitchen and bedroom were.  They just stood there and watched.  Actually, my Metta gave up altogether and went back to her dry bed in the bedroom.  I have smart dogs.

Now that the storm has passed, here I sit writing down the experience.  I do try to talk about all the good stuff, and there is a lot, but it hit me that a good dose of reality is sometimes necessary as well.  Still, I have a hot cup of coffee, a dry bedroom and bed, and two happy dogs now that the lightning has stopped.  My floors are cleaner than they’ve ever been, and my deck is too.  So, all in all, it’s still paradise, just with a lot of damp towels and well placed fans.  Salud!