Cozumel’s Passion Play

It’s Semana Santa (Easter week) here on the island of Cozumel.  And, with Mexico having one of the world’s largest Catholic populations, it is quite a sight to behold.  Between the crowds of tourists (I hear we have 90% occupancy) and the crowds of the faithful, let’s just say that it’s a good idea to give yourself some extra time before going anywhere.  But, in this case, I consider myself quite fortunate since I live directly across the street from a large Catholic church in the so-called Corpus Christi neighborhood.  That gives me the extra benefit of easily walking over to photograph one of the local customs, the Passion Play.

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, the Passion Play is a reenactment of the  trials and suffering that Jesus endured just prior to the crucifixion.  Now, this is not to be confused with “The Passion Play,” which, up north, is also a dramatic interpretation of the same events, but that play uses professional actors.  Our little production consists solely of devout parishioners dressed in homemade clothing to depict the historical time period.  These folks may indeed share the passion, but little to no formal training is either expected, or required, which leads to a sense of reality that I, personally, enjoy.  Picture this: altar boys, dressed in white and carrying candle, are then followed by Christ, joined by the two men who were crucified along with him, and all are led down the road by Roman guards while Mary and the devout walk behind.  The guards soon stop, flog him, and force him to wear a crown of thorns and carry a wooden cross.  Today this procession was also followed by well over a hundred local folks and a pickup truck with loud speakers that played somber music.  It really is quite an event to see.

Now, without me rambling on any further, I think I’ll just let my photos tell the rest of the story.  I’ll start with a few faces in the crowd, work up to the nervous antics of the participants just prior to the event, and will end with the Christ, himself.  I hope you enjoy and let me also take a moment to wish all of you a meaningful, and peaceful, weekend.  Salud!

 

 

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Back to Buccanos Bar & Grill

tin lizardMonday was my birthday and I decided to spend it quietly.  I might live on an island filled with possibilities, but it just seemed to be a day to spend at home.  So, after a morning swim,tree I lounged on my deck, did a bit of gardening, and a little light reading.  When it got a bit too warm  I went inside, put on the air conditioner and watched some classic movies with my dogs complete with a great big bowl of popcorn, we shared.   All in all, it was a good day!

fountainBut, when I woke up the next morning I had an urge to go to one of my favorite places,boat and chair  Buccanos.  A great little beach club located on the northern side of the island that has all the food and activities that one could hope for here on Cozumel.  I’ve been there before, and even wrote about it a couple of years back, but it is just such a lovely place that it seemed time to take another look and share it with you.  If you’ve been there, this will help remind you of why you went in the first place.   If you haven’t stopped there yet, maybe this will help show you why you should include it for your bucket list.

birdsNow this business is not new.  In fact, once known as Club Cozumelsign Caribe, they’ve been around for so long that they have a list of celebrities that have visited including Jackie Onassis and Princess Grace.  Yes, it really is that special.  Located on a quiet strip of land right next to the blues of the Caribbean, it has lots to offer including a lush view.  That view was what I was after so I grabbed a lounge chair on the beach under a palm tree for shade.  I could see both the ocean and the folks coming in from one of the seven cruise ships that had docked here for the day.

staffMy waiter was Tony and he was by my side in a matter of a fewmother and child minutes with a big smile and a friendly manner.  I started out with some coffee and settled back for a bit of people watching.  After snapping a few pics of the tourists, and finishing my coffee, I then headed off to take some photos on the grounds before the light got too harsh.

muralThere are lots of choices for photos at Buccanos, which is one of thegrotto reasons I enjoy visiting.  The owners really know how to make the day special with plenty of those little touches that combine the colors of the tropics with the beauty of the man-made.  Colorful murals decorate the walls, large stone arches give way to scenic walkways, huge vases are filled with flowers, and there’s even a grotto with a waterfall and a giant tin lizard.  In fact, everywhere you look there is something special that will make you appreciate island living.

poolNow, in addition to just wandering about snapping photos theremassage are lots of activities.  There is a large pool, snorkeling, massage options, great food, and cute little shops.  Oh, and that pic on your right is of my luncheon choice, lobster with mac & cheese, two of my favorite foods.  Pure genius was at work the day they came up with that combo, it was excellent!  I did everything but lick the bowl.  Once finished I did a bit of reading and then headed off for an hour of snorkeling.  I lobster mac and cheesewasn’t worried about my stuff since the staff makes sure to keep an eye on things for you.  So, without worries, I leisurely swam about checking out all the colorful fish and coral.  The current was strong, but I swim in the ocean a lot, so I wasn’t concerned.

Back in my lounge chair I spent another hour with a bit of reading.  Then the cruise ship dining roombenchcrowd was starting to thin so I just sat back and watched folks reluctantly pack up their things.  Another hour of that and it was time for me to go too.  I paid my check, reluctantly packed up my things as well, and headed for a taxi.  Like a little kid I shuffled down the road that takes you past a fountain, a wall climbing challenge, and more Bougainvillea than you could possibly imagine.  Finally, a cab stopped and I headed off to a friend’s home.  She’d promised me a free massage for my birthday and I just couldn’t say no.

wood benchNow, this is where I would usually sign off, but I have to say that after my perfect morning I also got the most relaxing massage I’ve ever experienced.  Yes, it was a free birthday gift, and, no, I wasn’t asked to write about it.  But, it was just wonderful so I’m going to mention it anyway.  For a deep tissue massage, let me recommend Barefoot in Cozumel, a local  business that can be found on Facebook.  That’s all I’m going to say since I really don’t accept suggestions, or compensation, but I do still like to pass on good experiences.  And today was  filled with just that, good experiences.  My birthday wish is this:  I hope all of you can have a day like I just did.  We all deserve it!  Salud!

p.s. I don’t receive compensation and I don’t write upon request, I just like to share good experiences!  And, if you’re thinking about going somewhere on the island and want to get an idea of what’s in store for you, just type the name of the place in the search bar above.  If I’ve been there I’ve written about it and included pics.  Happy hunting!

Special thanks to Lynda and Amethyst

 

 

 

my sanctuary

As an expat living on the island of Cozumel I had quickly learned that, in spite of all the activities we have to offer, sometimes it’s just nice to take it easy at home.  So, about two years ago, as a woman on a budget, I rented a small apartment in a great location with a lot of potential.  My landlord is quite accommodating so he’s allowed me to paint and decorate the interior to my preference.  But, then I focused on the reason I rented it in the first place.  It has a huge ‘L’ shaped deck out front (and another smaller one in the back), which is good since I have four dogs, but it needed something.  It was long, white, and hot even though it has a nice little overhang in the center.  So, decision was made, plain and hot had to go.  I gave it a lot of thought, but almost immediately realized that the changes I envisioned would take some time due to said budget.  I love animals, plants, and tropical colors, and scratched my head for a while to figure out how to put it all together.  But, now (with the exception of the deck floor) it’s complete, thanks to muralist Mariano Petit de Murat, a wood craftsman who is known as “Carpenter Chris” (and his assistant), lounge furniture from Mega, and plants from the local landscape shops.  If you like what you see, and the work Mariano and Chris have done, I’ll put their contact info at the bottom of this piece.  Otherwise, this will be yet another photo blog that will show you how it all turned out from start to finish, including a towel covered couch for the dogs (yes, they’re spoiled).  It took two years, but I’m a happy woman with a pretty little sanctuary.  I also included some pics of my first guests, Dan, who came in on a cruise ship yesterday (carrying Miracle Whip and Butterfingers, huge thanks) and Jean, a lovely woman I’ve had the pleasure to spend time with lately, she’s been a great friend.  I hope you enjoy, salud!1

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p.s. the muralist and graphic designer, Mariano Petit de Murat, can be found on Facebook under his name, if you’d like to contact him for work just send him a message on his FB site…………..Carpenter Chris can be found on ave 10, across from a lavenderia with a blue sign, just turn onto ten from 11 sur, go past the graveyard and look for the blue lavenderia sign on the right and he is directly across the street……..they are both so nice, very talented and quite reasonable!

An eastside perspective

beach entranceThere is so much beauty on the island of Cozumel that words often aren’t enough.  Thankfully, I take a lot of photos.  We’ve had some lovely weather this past week and I’ve had the opportunity to go to the eastside, twice.  That’s where the beaches stretch for miles, the waves crash to shore, and there are enough little beach clubs that assure you won’t go hungry, but spaced far enough apart you can just enjoy the sound of the surf if you choose.  With that said, I’ve decided to make this piece a photo blog. I’ve included some pics of the scenery, the folks, the activities and, hopefully, captured some of the ambiance found on the “other side” of Cozumel.  Like I said, words often aren’t enough, but maybe these pics can help.  I hope you enjoy, Salud!ocean and rockscrazyguyswithsailswoodbeach sleepercoupletourist traplyndalynda on beach by woodmoped girlbetterflowerwater through woodguitar manbeach tent

Going to the jungle

plantsWell, as I’d written several posts back, living in paradise, on the island of Cozumel, can have its ups and downs.  Several weeks past I’d hadlightleaves one of those “down” times, but, as always happens here, many members of our community stepped in to help.  It’s what we do here.  Here’s a quick example, when I’d needed an interpreter, my friend (and landlady) stepped up.  When she had her surgery, I helped her with her daily chores.  Of course, that’s just one example, but I’ve also been on the receiving end of assistance through dengue and a couple of other tropical experiences, but was able to help a couple clean their home after a flooding and watch another friend’s children.  It’s a nice feeling to know that folks care and help is so easily passed around.  Just one of the many reasons that living on the island of Cozumel can be such a great experience.  But, back to my story.

flowerandsilverAfter a rather unpleasant event I’d experienced not too long ago, I received words of encouragement, a flood of emails, folks casually stopping by, one group of very determined women who showed up at my eyeofgoddoorstep with some ideas, and another friend who offered her home in the jungle to just kick back and relax.  I want to say thank you to each and every one of you, and then show some pretty pictures of where I was able to go where it all just came together.

My friend, Moya, and her family, invited me out to their home in the area of the jungle called Las Fincas.  The home is lush, quiet, and a photographer’s dream.  Both Moya and her husband, Sergio, design and hammockbuild houses plus Moya is quite the interior decorator as well, so words alone wouldn’t do their home justice.  As a result, they’ve been kind enough to allow me to post some pics that I took with my new camera.  I think those will help you to understand my point, which is, nature, and friendships, heal all things.  And let me tell you, they have a lot of nature and are truly good friends.

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neighbors2When you first arrive you drive past some homes of other local residents.  They are quite different from bougenvillaewhere I stayed, but they are surrounded by the same beauty.  Tropical foliage of every kind imaginable, bursts of colors from the Bougainvillea, Birds of Paradise, Morning Glories,  a personal favorite, and a whole lot of flowers that will remain nameless, solely because I have no idea what they’d be called in either language.  After going past some of the neighbors we turned into a long driveway, drove past multiple areas with some completely natural and others nicely landscaped.  There are chickens, horses, and a couple of dogs that are very protective of their family.  But, after a few treats and the tossing of some sticks and coconuts, we got to be good friends.

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a2I was able to spend the next four days just relaxing, reflecting, taking photos, talking with Moya, and even had the theboyfriendopportunity for a couple of mini photo shoots.  One with her daughter, Aisha, which was just spur of the moment.  That lovely face you see on the left has no makeup, was not prepped, nor was photoshop necessary.  And, before I get any questions, yes, she has a boyfriend.

I had another shoot with a group of horse racing enthusiasts who are getting their horse, la Fercha, ready for a race to horsedesignbe held here on the 16th of March.  They board la Fercha and her mother at the stables on the grounds.  A great group of guys who just love the sport, and the horses.  I’ll just post one of la Fercha here since I’m hoping to go to the race itself and will put the rest altogether in that blog.

It didn’t hurt that Moya is a good cook either.  And, to top it all off, she is a night person and I’m a morning girl, so we didn’t bump into each other except for the middle of the day when we would have pleasant chats and drink tea, which was, I was assured, the real thing since Moya’s country of origin is England.  Since I’m a complete coffee addict it took her a few days to convince me, but it was delicious.

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buddhainsideMy last night there a mutual friend, Tammy, came out to visit and the three of us went up to the roof where there is a flower1large cement tub that Moya had filled with hot water and surrounded by candles. Friends just talking with the sounds of the jungle around us and the stars overhead.  Now, I ask you, can it possibly get any better than that?  After five days and four nights I felt like a new woman, or at least an improved version of the old one.  My mind was calmed and I could not only see the light at the end of the tunnel, it was bright.

So, thanks to friends, life is good again.  I still have to pay my bills, go to doctors, and pick up dog poo, but I wouldn’t want to do it anywhere else.  Cozumel is my home.  Salud!

IMG_0421p.s. a special thank you to: Moya, Sergio, Aisha, Lesli, Don Pedro, Donna, Sandra, Jean, Leonna, Jerry, Tammy, Richard, Carol, Myrna, Nelda, Larry, Rick, Tracey, Paula, Valli, Karen, Deborah, Luh, Maria, Joey, Mike, Joyce, Monica, Lynda Lee, Christi, Kathy, Kandy, Corki, Laura, Amethyst, Mary, Zazzu, Mariano, Sarahi, Roberto, and Edgar. A special loving thank you to Melinda, my oldest friend who has had the patience of a saint to hang in there, for 52 years, with the poster child of Murphy’s Law, wow!  I guess it really does take a village sometimes, but what an example of the kinds of folks who’ve chosen Cozumel as their home, yes?

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sunsetting at the money bar

mb2Okay, so I’ve not quite been myself lately.  Suffered some losses, which I handled badly.  Found myself a bit frustrated with a few of the local customs, which is something I need to get over, it is Mexico after all.  So this expat decided to do mb1something I almost never do, went to a well-known restaurant/bar/beach club to do a little dancing, take a few photos and, basically, try and get out of the rut I’ve been in.  And, I’m happy to say that it worked, for a while anyway.  Let me tell you what happened.

mb8I went to the world-famous Money Bar, which is located 1.5 miles south from Puerta Maya (the main cruise ship dock).  The poor taxi driver was really trying to beat the clock for me since I was hoping to get a few pics of the sunset.  I’d was originally hoping to go with a friend, but some things fell through at the last moment, so a cab was my only option.  But, to his credit, and without disobeying too many speeding laws, he got me there just in time.

mbsunsetFirst thing I did was head to the restaurant terrace for that sunset shot.  Lined up with about half a dozen others, we clicked away until there was nothing left.  Then I began to focus on the folks there and there were a lot.  Eating, drinking, many wearing those balloon hats that are always mb5fun to see.  And all were waiting for the band to set up.  While they were doing that I took the opportunity to walk around to different tables and ask if I could take their pictures.  Once again, no-one said, “no.” But, here is where I’ll apologize for showing mb4so few, it was hard to choose since everyone was clearly in their best vacation spirits so there were smiles all around.  And I must have taken a hundred shots.  Unfortunately, I won’t be able to show them all, but I think you’ll get the idea of the festivities.

The band was quite good and folks were immediately up and dancing.  A little reggae,mb3 a bit of rock, it was a nice eclectic mix and it attracted folks of all ages.  And, I’m not kidding.  There was a little girl about 6 or 7 and a woman who must have been close to 80 and she had as much energy as the little girl.  It was a lot of fun to watch.

mb7And, speaking of eclectic, what a mix of folks.  All ages,mb15 ethnicities, couples, singles, groups large and small.  There were the surfers, the business men, the young (newly in love) couples, a clown who was making the balloon hats, hippies, dive masters, you name the type and they were there.

mb10While the band took a break there was a group of young local boys called the “Crazy Breakers.”  And I really hope I have their name correct, someone please mb11let me know if I don’t.  Talented guys who flipped, stood on one hand, did circles on the floor and, basically, demonstrated that gravity has no effect on them.  They put on quite the show and for tips only.  I really hope people dug deep, they were that good.

mb12mb6After that I ran into a few people I know and we talked a bit.  I actually let someone take a picture of me with Paco, a very interesting local personality.  Yea, that’s us on the right.  I took some more pics of my friends, and then it really was time for me to get home.  I’d given up my night owl ways over a year ago, and hope to get back with my usual program soon.  But, in the meanwhile, it was a great way to forget about any and all issues, at least for the evening.

Before I end this though, I want to mention that the service staff was gracious, themb13 mb9customers were fun, the music was great, and the break dancing was impressive.  Not bad for a single night on the island of Cozumel.  If you’ve never been there, I highly recommend it.  Oh, and they have great snorkeling in the daytime, and hammocks where you can just rock away your problems.  In fact, the next time I go, I think that is exactly what I will do.  Just lay in a hammock and stare at the sea.  Somehow all seems to get better when I do that.  Salud!

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p.s. I never receive compensation, and I don’t intend to promote, I just like sharing good experiences!

 

 

Musings, cleansings, and does anyone have the pope’s phone number?

When I was living, and teaching, back in Ohio I was often called “Murphy’s Pal.” It was a reference to my seemingly tight alliance with the laws of Murphy.   I’ll give you a few examples in a moment.  But, now that I live on the island of Cozumel, it would seem that all my problems would be left behind.  And many of them were,  which is merely a snarky nod to my ex-husband.  Of course, in all fairness, he’s probably just as happy I’m down here as well.  But, as I’ve said many times, how bad can it be when you have beaches to walk on with turquoise waters on one side, and flowing palm trees on the other.  The point?   Well, we have some rituals down here that might just help lift my curse, or at least help me to identify what the heck it is that I’m doing.  And, to top it off, we have some great, and incredibly patient, folks down here that are willing to try to help out when and where they can.  One of the perks of being an expat here is the warm, and loving, support system.

Now, about that curse.   Let me start with my last two years.  To keep it simple,  I’ll just make a list:  dengue, sun poisoning, shingles, wiring transfer issues, one attempted theft, and a misspelled tattoo.  There might be a bit more, but I’ll spare you the details.  And, since I’ve written about most of these issues already, let me just tell you about the tattoo.

Yes, I’m one of those people who likes to get tattoos.  I have no idea where that came from, I certainly was not raised to ever think that tattoos were a good idea.  And, while teaching at a university, I had to hide the lovely flowers I have inked on both my wrists, they didn’t think it was a good idea either.  Now, the ones on my wrists are of  morning glories, flowers that can flourish  just about anywhere and are difficult to kill, so they are symbolic, to me.   The university, at least for the first ten years, or so, didn’t appreciate the symbolism so I had to wear long sleeves, no matter the temperature.  However, I didn’t stop there.  Since I’d acquired those I went on to get a couple of  small literary tattoos.  A horn from the book “The Crying of Lot 49,”  which I highly recommend if you are into post modern literature, and the word “Birches,” the title of my favorite poem by Robert Frost.   There is a small bird on one shoulder (remember the “Free Bird” stage?) and a small yin yang symbol on the other.  I’m sort of  a walking hippy canvas.

Now, about my newest.  Let me start by saying that, due to the above wiring transfer issues, my money is extremely tight.   But, as a lover of words, and linguistics, getting significant phrases becomes important somehow.  Especially when times are a bit tough.  I had two in mind and both are by Friedrich Nietzsche.  My favorite quote is:  “You must have chaos within to give birth to a dancing star.”   But, I couldn’t afford that many letters if I wanted to eat something other than beans and rice for a week.  So, I settled on “There are no facts, only interpretations.”

Now, this is where the fun begins.  I’d sat with the artist, wrote out the phrase, had him write out the phrase.  Had him do it again.  Had him do it two more times to decide upon the font.  It was perfect.  I’d worn a t-shirt so that he’d have easy access to my back, we settled on the price and away he went.

So, imagine my surprise when I get home and hold up a mirror to another mirror and see this:  There are no facts, only interpotations.    And, yes, you read that right.  So, where did I go wrong?  Well, there are a few issues here.  Let me ramble for just a bit.

First of all, there was a time on campus when I taught a class called “Body as Art.”   We’d explored the reasons that folks throughout the ages have felt a need to decorate themselves.  We discussed brandings, tattoos, forms of “self-mutilation” such as bones, necklaces that heighten the neck and so on.  We also discussed the class systems involved, the need for tribal identification, tattoos used to promote fear in our enemies, brandings to beautify ourselves, or show status, or property value, and I could go on, but, well, you get the idea.  In modern times I have a strong belief that tattoos help us to become more individualized in an overcrowded, and often dismissive society.  In other words, we are less invisible.   Now, those are just my beliefs, but I’ve heard many other beliefs as well.

But, back to where I went wrong.   First of all, although I spent very little, I’m sure a steak dinner might have been a better choice considering my current means.  Secondly, who the heck decides to get wording tattooed by someone whose first language is not English?

So, what does the title of this little piece have to do with anything?  Well, friends have come to my aid and one of them has a crystal that removes curses (think dengue, parasites etc.) and another is making arrangements for me to see a Mayan shaman for a cleansing ritual that also removes curses.  Do I think I’m actually cursed?  Well, I like to think of myself as open-minded, so, maybe.  But, I also confess that I tend to just do things at the spur of the moment.  And, although I am well-educated, no-one has ever accused me of having any common sense whatsoever.   That just didn’t come with the package.  But, I live here now and I think that participating in these rituals will be both enlightening and could well make me more aware of my surroundings and my personal habits.  At this point, couldn’t hurt, yes?   But, and this is meant in all respect, I love the new pope.  But, if anyone happens to have his phone number, I’d be much obliged.   Salud!

p.s. I will be writing about the rituals, and then, a week or so after that, I will be focusing on a home based new restaurant and another new local coffee shop that the island now offers.   Meanwhile, I think I’ll leave the tattoo just like it is, it seems to make people smile, and that’s a good thing!

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