Internet regained and golf balls lost

And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of [golf balls], and their nets were breaking. Luke 5:4-6

Another day in paradise. We keep waiting for the big heat to make it too hot to golf, but every day so far has been perfect. So we continue to go out and walk 18 holes of golf.

Because of the early night yesterday, when all the naughty kittens went to bed early without their internet, we were up early by our standards today. I went downstairs before 7 and was surprised to NOT see MaryLou sitting at the table working on her computer. But by the time Dave and I had poured our first cup of coffee she was back from the golf course restaurant; the restaurant only opens at 7, but she’d managed to publish her blog post using the club’s internet from out on the patio. I suspected that our internet failure was related to the date — so I ‘WhatsApp-ed” Mario (the guy from whom we rent our place) and asked if perhaps he had ‘forgotten’ to pay the internet bill. And by the time Ken and Dave and I had finished the first nine holes I had a reply: Yes, the internet would be available again within 10 minutes.

So while Kaaren and MaryLou puzzled, the boys were working our way around the course. (And yes, it IS work — by the time we finish walking 18 holes we are exhausted and hot and tired and ready for a cold Modelo Especial on the patio.)

The fairways on the course are plenty wide, and it’s rare that an errant drive goes into someone’s backyard or hits a house. But there are plenty of hazards to lose your ball in — sand traps and ponds strategically placed halfway down the fairway where your drive might end up (like the eleventh hole), or protecting the greens. The par 3 seventeen is probably the hole that has claimed the most balls from us — partly because the scorecard says the pin is 160 yards from the tee, and we seemingly can’t reach it even when we hit 190 yards! I carded a 6 there yesterday, and a 7 today! The water is barely a foot deep, but the base of the pond is quicksand! Often I can’t even see the ball by the time I get to the pond — it’s disappeared in the quicksand. And if I DO see it and try to fish it out with my ball retriever,  I risk bumping the ball before I can scoop it, and then it’s for sure gone! You’d think that we must be spending a fortune buying more balls by now, but not so. As we make our way around the course we are approached by the greenskeepers who work here, offering us “bolsa de bolas” (a bag of balls) — a dozen for 100 pesos. Not bad. About 50 cents per ball — and some of those balls likely are ones you yourself lost in the pond!

Fishing for balls near the 17th green.

We had lunch on the patio after our game. (Ceviche for me.) Then Ken and Kaaren hightailed it home — they are expecting guests from Winnipeg to arrive later this afternoon. I showered and had a bit of a nap.

I went downstairs at around 5:00 and Dave and I watched the last two episodes of Narcos Mexico. MaryLou came back from the gym just in time to see another shootout on the TV. I tried to order pizza online when the show was over, but after carefully filling out the online form the Domino’s website reported a ‘temporary’ error — please try again later. Well, it was late enough already! So I called the number and ordered in English from a Spanish order-taker. I wasn’t quite sure what she was asking, but at various times I told her what I wanted to order, my nombre (name), my dirección (address), and my número de teléfono. And sure enough, 25 minutes later the motorcycle pulled up at our door and delivered what I had ordered.

After supper Dave and MaryLou watched a movie on TV. I had seen it before, so I disappeared upstairs and diddled around with my wordpress plugin that I seemingly can’t figure out how to program. It was midnight by the time I had given up on that project for another day, and had listened to the fireworks outside my open patio door, and had written this LONG post about nothing! And THAT is what I did on the first day of February here in Merida.

A Day Off

It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. Psalm 127:2

Today I had a “Rudy” day. During breakfast MaryLou was busy looking up art galleries on the internet, and mapping out a route for a day trip for Dave and herself. Although Dave wasn’t feeling 100%, by mid-morning he and MaryLou were out the door, taking an Uber to downtown Merida. I stayed home, determined to get my coding project completed by the end of the day. While I made some progress, I was NOT able to finish the job.

It was another beautiful sunny day here, too nice to sit inside all day, but that’s what I did. After lunch I decided to wash my bedding — and I hung my blanket out on the balcony where the bright sunshine and a gentle breeze would air it out. Our washer is upstairs in my bathroom and the water flow isn’t that great up there — so it takes a long time to do a full load, mostly because it takes that long to fill up with water.

Pepe came by late in the afternoon. He parks one of his three cars next to our place because he only has a two-car garage. And he takes his car to go to a gym every day — he goes for two hours, seven days a week, and has done so for about 25 years. I was sitting by the kitchen table, next to an open window, and when he came by after parking his car we had a short visit through the screen window. I’m hoping to have a ‘real’ visit with him one of these days.

The Driedgers were back before supper. The reviews of their trip were lukewarm — lots of walking, some galleries were closed, others were small, the lunch at a seafood place was great. Dave and I watched another Narcos episode while MaryLou went upstairs to look at all her photos from the day. Mealtime with the Driedgers is rarely a ‘together’ thing — usually you make your own and you eat it whenever you feel like it. And so it was today.

Unfortunately, some time after we’d watched Narcos, our internet failed again. Dave found the Jets game on our TV, but our picture kept freezing and when he finally gave up in frustration, and tried to get it on his iPad, that too soon stopped working. Our internet was down. Now what?

That made for another quiet evening here. No internet, nothing to do. By 9:30 it was off to bed. I think the Driedgers were tired from their adventures in Merida, and I couldn’t continue working on my project either. So another early to bed.

Hot as Summer, Cold as Winter

And when ye see the south wind blow, ye say, There will be heat; and it cometh to pass. Luke 12:55

The Neufelds arrived at our house just after 9:00. The boys went to the golf course while the girls puzzled and made potato salad all morning.

When we teed off there were two older women ahead of us and it looked like we might have a slow round today — waiting for those two to get off the green ahead of us every hole. But either those women weren’t as slow as we thought they were, or WE were even slower!, because we rarely waited for them for the rest of the front nine.

Water hazard on eleven.

The women left after nine holes leaving no one in front of us for most of the back nine. I was doing my best to keep my scores down to one more than Dave on every hole (Ken doesn’t record his scores). I still have not broken a hundred on the course — and maybe I never will. But I’m having fun trying.

I think it was around 1:30 by the time we were back at the house. MaryLou and Kaaren had lunch waiting. Potato salad and chips and some Mennonite cheese and cold cuts. We visited for a while after lunch and then the Neufelds left. Dave had a short nap. When MaryLou went to the gym Dave and I watched another episode of Narcos. It was dark by the time we had leftovers for supper. I FaceTimed with Alex and Max — got caught up with how they are dealing with the crazy cold temperatures back home. I think the local forecast for today was supposed to be near 30, but actually it just didn’t seem that hot out on the golf course. A light wind and big shady trees lining the fairways helped. The forecast for the coming days (and weeks) is more like the low to mid-thirties. And the forecast for Steinbach is quite a bit milder than it’s been for the last few days there.

After supper we watched another movie from our list. “The Hate U Give”. MaryLou had finished reading the book by the same name today. The movie was pretty good; at least none of us fell asleep watching it.

It was after ten when we finished the movie. While MaryLou puzzled we discussed the movie. Then it was bedtime. Early to bed, early to rise…

More of the same

Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees… Hebrews 12:12

After breakfast we went golfing. All three of us. By now most of the workers at the course know us, many greet us by name. MaryLou went home after the front nine and Dave and I continued on. By now we also know the “trouble spots” on the course. There are a few holes, especially on the back nine, that are quite a challenge. The par 5 eleventh has a water hazard right at the halfway point that has swallowed up quite a few of our balls. And the par 3 seventeenth, which the card claims is 160 yards, has a water-and-quicksand pond protecting it — and it seems even a 175-yard shot may not make it to the green. Few of our tee shots have reached the green safely. So that gives us something to talk about as we sweat our way around the course. And my little golf lesson from last week, along with some great tips from Dave, give me something to work on, even if my scores are not getting better. All three of us complain about our sore feet but so far we’ve had no issues with drooping hands or weak knees, so that’s a relief!

After our golf game MaryLou joined us on the patio at the clubhouse for lunch. Our old friends, Michel and Angela (from Ottawa), joined us as well. They rent a house about half an hour north of here, near Progresso, but are members at this course and drive down here to golf about 3 times a week.

Back at the house, I showered and sat around downstairs for the rest of the afternoon. I tried to do a bit more work on the website I’m working on, but didn’t get much done. At around 5pm I re-watched the episode of Narcos I’d slept through yesterday evening. Then we put on our jackets (it was quite hot during the day, but had cooled off nicely for the evening) and walked to the front gate. Dave ordered an Uber to take us to a Walmart not too far from our place.

When we got there we walked around the mall and sat down in one of the outdoor restaurants and had dinner first. Then we went to the Walmart grocery store and tried to find all the things on our list. When we were done we took our bags back home in another Uber and MaryLou stashed the groceries away in our fridge. By now the Jets game was over and although the updates Dave reported during dinner had looked a bit grim for the Jets, it turned out that they won the game in a shootout. Dave reviewed the overtime win on his iPad. By then it was ‘overtime’ for me, too. I went up to bed. The internet was so crappy I couldn’t watch the CBC National on my TV, but I probably wouldn’t have made it through the first few minutes anyway. Zzzzzzz…

Golf, lunch on the patio, beans (again), and Narcos. It’s a beautiful day in the neighbourhood…

Take thou also unto thee wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentils, and millet, and fitches, and put them in one vessel, and make thee chilli thereof, according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon thy side, three hundred and ninety days shalt thou eat thereof. Ezekiel 4:9

Yesterday’s huge rainfall and windstorm littered the streets and the golf course with palm branches and leaves. This morning the sun was shining and the country-club workers were hard at work, cleaning up the debris. It’s encouraging to see that the neighbourhood and the golf course are being maintained. Every day there are crews fixing up or painting or tiling the floor in the clubhouse store or renovating the cart garages, etc.

On the way to the course. (That white building behind me is our house here.)

When the Neufelds arrived at our house this morning and the boys headed to the golf course, the temperature was a lovely 24 degrees. And no wind! Probably our nicest day (for golf) so far!

The caddies brought our clubs out from the storage shed and we headed out to hole number 10. The front nine was closed for maintenance today. So we golfed the back nine twice.

Dave and Ken at the 18th tee.

When we got to the 18th hole for the second time around I sent MaryLou a text message telling her we were nearly done. Kaaren and MaryLou had spent the morning puzzling at our house. Now they would join us at the clubhouse patio for lunch.

The Neufelds went back to their place after our lunch and we sat around at our place. We’d had lunch rather late, but by six o’clock we were ready to eat again. There had been talk of taking a cab into town to do some grocery shopping and maybe even see a movie, but by the time evening rolled around we were too comfortable, too lazy, to leave the house. What do we have in the fridge? Well, we still have a pot of leftover chilli — let’s heat that up. According to Dave, “allegedly” chilli gets better each time you re-heat it. (I’d heard the same thing about borscht but I’m quite sure that even if I had to lie on my side for three hundred and ninety days, I still wouldn’t eat borscht!) Our chilli supper was at least as good as it had been when Dave first made it.

After supper we watched the Jets lose to the Flyers while MaryLou tried to find a quiet place to work upstairs. After the game we switched back to Narcos. First we re-watched the episode I’d slept through yesterday, after which I slept through the next episode. Sad! But what the heck, we’re “on holidays”. Off to bed. I put on the CBC National but as I write my journal this morning (for last night), I couldn’t tell you what was on the news.

“Olé!” at Plaza de Toros de Mérida

…And I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lambs or goats. Isaiah 1:11

Rain coming down (this if from our balcony)

A cool Sunday morning in Merida. I made it downstairs just in time to see the beginning of my favourite Sunday morning show, CBS Sunday Morning. Today they celebrated the 40th anniversary of the show. I think I’ve watched it regularly for at least half of those years. By the time that show was over and the political talk shows started MaryLou was out the door on her way to the gym. Dave and I switched to watching a couple more episodes of Narcos Mexico. While we were so engaged, the rain started. And it rained. Hard. Steady. Prolonged. MaryLou was stranded at the gym. Our power went off several times but it always came back on again a moment later, often blinking off again just after we’d re-queued our show on Netflix on the TV.

All smiles before the cruelty begins.

Finally the rain slowed down enough for MaryLou to make a dash for home. After a quick bite to eat, we got our raincoats on and headed out the door. We took an Uber taxi to Ken and Kaaren’s, arriving there at 3:00. Snacks and drinks. Then a brisk walk on a very wet and rundown sidewalk to the Plaza de Toros, about a mile away. There were a few protesters holding big banners and posters standing at the corner. We followed the crowd to the entrance around the back of the round stadium. Ken had arranged tickets for all of us and soon we were through the gates and heading up the ramp. Our seats were slightly discounted because they were on the “sunny” side of the stadium. The sun was not very interested in seeing a bullfight today and for most of the event it stayed hidden behind the clouds.

The seats were basically painted numbers on the tiers that encircled the dirt ground of the stadium. Steep and VERY crammed together. We’d be cheering on the matadors “cheek to cheek”. For a short while I thought I might be lucky and have a bit of extra room when the 3 spaces next to me remained unoccupied up until 4:30. But no, just as the trumpets and drums started their opening fanfare, I lost the space beside me and a little bit more when 3 guys with tickets for those seats squeezed themselves between me and my neighbours.

The floor of the stadium bowl was decorated with flowers and coloured paper — it was the 90th anniversary of the bullfighting ring in Merida. The sun came out for a minute or two just as the event was about to begin and was greeted by great applause from the crowd. And after about 20 dignitaries had had their photo taken at centre ice (okay, centre dirt), the first bull was introduced by a guy carrying a big poster with the bull’s name and weight and other important info on it. The two main matadors were introduced; each would get to fight 3 bulls. Each matador had 3 ‘assistant’, or junior matadors on his ‘team’.

And then the big gate opened and the first bull came charging out into the arena. He put his head down and ran at each of the ‘stations’ located around the circumference of the arena. Behind the stations were three ‘assistant’ matadors, who came out and teased the bull into charging at them but then quickly ran and hid behind the protective wall that marked their ‘station’. After the bull had run at each man in the ring, two guys on horseback came riding into the ring. They were the picadores and they each had a big lance. The horses had heavy padded protection. The bull was goaded into charging at the horse, and when he did, the picadore jammed his lance into the top of the bull’s neck. This injured the bull and made him even madder. Then the three ‘assistant’ matadors each tried to plant two banderillas, sharp barbed sticks, into the bull’s shoulders. That wounded the bull and made him more angry. The main matador then did his ‘dance’, with the bull charging at his red cape which the matador waved and swung around to anger the bull. Finally the bleeding animal was put out of its misery when the matador rammed his steel sword into the top of the neck and down into the heart of the bull. The huge animal either sank to the ground or toppled over, dead.

That’s how ONE of the matches ended, with a quick death to the bull at the end of the ’round’. The rest of them were less ‘clean’ and the team needed more than one quick stab to get the bull to capitulate. Then two horses with a small cart were brought in to haul the dead bull out of the arena. A crew of sweepers and shovelers came in and scraped the ice (oops, I mean they swept the sand and dirt) and a guy with a pail filled with white chalk re-painted the concentric circles on the ground, and the whole affair began again.

It was, of course, mostly a big ceremonial dance in which the matador preened around the ring, swishing his red cape at the bull, coaxing “olés” from the audience, while the angry wounded bleeding bull slowly tired and finally collapsed and died. All the odds were stacked against the bull. In the first fight the bull actually tripped up one of the ‘assistants’ and pinned and gored him against the wall of the ring. The injured man was quickly helped out of the ring and taken away. (I think he came back near the end, watching from the sidelines with a big white bandage over his nose.) But otherwise, it was really no contest. Whenever the ‘maestro’ or main matador tired a bit, his assistant matadors rushed in to distract the bull and give the main man a little break.

It was interesting to watch the ‘fans’. They got very quiet and ‘respectful’, shushing the talkers when the ‘sacred’ final stab of death to the bull was about to take place. But they also booed and whistled when the matador ‘missed’ the mark and merely wounded the animal, and more swords had to be brought in to finally finish the bull off. The two guys who were squeezed in next to me could speak English and were happy to answer my questions and explain what was going on when I asked them for clarification.

A little rain fell in between two of the matches, which also elicited a boo from the crowd as they all scrambled to put on their rain jackets or plastic ponchos. But it went as fast as it came just in time for the next fight. After witnessing four of the six fights we’d seen enough. We carefully negotiated our way out, trying our best not to step or fall on people as we worked our way to the exit. By then it was dark outside. We walked home, stopping for a bathroom break at the Neufelds’ before continuing on to a restaurant near the Santa Lucia square.

At Chaya Maya for dinner

“Chaya Maya” was a restaurant that my neighbour Pepe had highly recommended. We got a table and ordered our meals. Not bad. We discussed the evening’s “entertainment” before planning our day for tomorrow. The ladies were disgusted by the bullfight. The men less so, but agreed that now that they’d seen one bullfight they really wouldn’t have to see another one.

We said goodnight — and arranged that Ken will be at our place tomorrow before noon and we’ll go golfing — and then the Driedgers and I got an Uber and headed back towards home. We asked to stop at the big Costco, but when we got there it was closed. So where might we find a store that sold wine and beer? How about the big Liverpool store in the Galerías Mérida mall? Yes. We found the ‘spirits’ department on the second floor of the big Liverpool department store and were about to select a few bottles when a clerk came and informed us that in Merida there is a law that no liquor can be sold after 5pm on Sunday. And that was that! We ordered another Uber and got a ride home.

Dave and I watched one more episode of Narcos before going upstairs to bed.

The internet is down. What do we do now?

He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Isaiah 40:29

I woke up early. Then I turned over and went back to sleep. Then I woke up late. Eight-thirty. High time for our special Saturday morning breakfast. But first a coffee at our house.

I’m getting a 30% discount on all my Uber bookings this weekend. I’m not sure I deserve it. We probably should have just called an Uber to take us to our breakfast place but we decided to walk instead. The sky was overcast. The temperature just right for a walk. But we old people all have foot problems and the walk was painful and painfully slow. But we got to see another side of life here in Merida — quaint little booths set up along the way, little ‘cantinas’ with plastic tables and chairs and folks eating fried chicken. At least that’s what I think they were eating. We walked on the shoulder of a very busy highway.

When we got to our destination — a breakfast restaurant and bakery called Los Benes — we were not disappointed. It is a very pretty restaurant and the food was great. The restaurant was full, with people lined up outside the door.

After breakfast we took an Uber taxi to a big new fancy mall that our golfing friends had told us about. The Driedgers had driven past the mall a few days ago and discovered that the road from the mall to our place was only a short distance down the highway from our place. So we advised our Uber driver where to turn, even though his phone map was telling him a different direction. And that’s how we managed to got a good tour of the jungle and the countryside near our place for no extra charge.

But eventually our driver managed to zigzag his way through the bush and got us to the mall. Yikes! what a mall! It is huge and brand new and very modern. I think Trump should start thinking about building a wall to keep out-of-work Americans from running across the Mexican border and starting a new life here in Merida! I’ve now visited several malls here and I don’t thank Winnipeg’s malls are anywhere CLOSE to the scale and the luxury that we’ve seen here.

The Driedgers get reacquainted.

Our first stop was at the Telcel phone store to see why not all our phones are working as they should. Turns out that MaryLou’s phone was out of data. So for a few bucks she topped it up.

MaryLou also managed to find a couple of 1000-piece puzzles that she and Kaaren can work on while the boys golf.

We checked out the cinema — matinees are about $3 and prime time tickets double that. There was a man-made lake behind the mall, with many mall restaurants looking out over the lake. Water-skiers were getting towed around the like by a ‘zip-line’ kind of deal.

We wandered around on our own for a while and then met at the pre-arranged time just before lunch. It was raining outside, a first for us! Pouring. Dave had bought a few Krispy Kreme donuts so we decided to sit down and enjoy them while we waited for the rain to stop.

We got another (discounted) Uber back to our place. We got dropped off at the little super-minimart. We went into the store and bought a few supplies. When we got back to our house and opened the fridge to put away some of our groceries, we realized that our power was out.

When neighbour Pepe walked by I asked him about the power outage. Not at all uncommon. Every time it rains one or more old transformers break down because they get rainwater into them. I asked how long this might last. Oh, says Pepe, probably it will be repaired by around 7pm. The neighbours already had their portable gas generator going. At first it didn’t seem like such a big deal, but as the afternoon went on we began to think about supper options and how we might deal with a very dark evening.

What can we do? Can’t get on the internet. Our phones were all down to less than 50% battery life. So we sat around looking blankly at each other. No TV. No internet. Maybe soon “no lights”. That would make Dave’s plan to cook a big chilli supper quite a bit more challenging!

I read my Kindle for a while. We hadn’t planned to golf today, but eventually we realized the power would not be restored before early evening — and the cooler temperatures seemed to say we SHOULD golf this afternoon.

MaryLou joined us on the golf course. We played a quick nine-hole round. It was a fun time — not so good for our already-tired feet, but oh so good for poor bored gringos who don’t know what to do if they lose their internet and might actually have to talk directly to each other.

When MaryLou got back to the house after golf the power had just come back on. Great! She put the laundry in the dryer. Dave made gin and tonics. Our day was back on track.

For supper Dave made a big pot of chilli. We enjoyed the chilli together with a salad which MaryLou prepared. Then it was movie time. Whose turn to pick tonight?

In the end we decided to watch a newish movie, “Bad Times at the El Royale”. It was long and a bit weird, but we stayed awake and quite enjoyed it. A little cake from yesterday, with a scoop of ice cream, for dessert.

After the movie MaryLou went up to bed while Dave and I watched Saturday Night Live. Then I went up to bed as well.

Tomorrow we plan to watch some of our morning shows before going out for brunch and then heading down to Ken and Kaaren’s. And then? Olé Olé!

Dinner guests

Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. Genesis 9:3

Another cool morning here in Merida. The locals are wearing sweaters and jackets and the talk is that it’s one of the coldest Januarys on record. Could’ve fooled me. Another GREAT day for golf.

We had a lazy morning. When I got downstairs Dave and MaryLou were watching a movie on our big TV. I had a bit of yogurt and what was left of the pineapple. And coffee. After the movie we each went our separate ways. I was up in my room trying to work on my website in between internet outages. Dave started watching the Narcos in Mexico series on Netflix. At some point before lunch MaryLou stopped threatening to go to the gym and just up and went to the gym. Dave fried up a couple of burgers for our lunch. We were expecting Ken and Kaaren to show up around one o’clock. Ken had a busy morning trying to buy tickets to the bull fight we’d seen advertised on our city tour of Merida.

When the Neufelds arrived at our front gate they the guards demanded that Ken leave his driver’s license at their booth as security. Weird. Kaaren joined MaryLou at our apartment while Ken, Dave, and me headed over to the course. Eighteen holes. A light breeze. Cloudy sky and coolish temperature. No profuse sweating today. A perfect golf day.

We golfed eighteen holes without every really waiting for anyone ahead of us. When we finished we parked our clubs and carts with the caddies and sat down at the patio for some beer and peanuts. It turned out that it was happy hour from 4-9 today, so our bill came to $3.50 for three beers! We should’ve stayed longer but the girls were all ready with supper and needed us to hurry home.

After showers and another drink back at the house it was time for supper. MaryLou had been busy preparing a taco salad for the group. We filed by the kitchen counter filling our bowls and then sat at our table. The table-talk was mostly about the challenges being a vegan, and why someone would want to be one. How do we feel about killing animals and eating them. Some of us wondered whether or not it was a good idea to go watch a cruel and disgusting bull fight during our stay in Merida. But all of us enjoyed the delicious taco salad MaryLou had made for us — including the hamburger meat we sprinkled liberally over our lettuce and tomatoes and “green herbs”!

Pepe came by and saw the five of us sitting around our table — he stopped outside and visited for a while through the screen window. After a small dessert of fancy chocolate cake MaryLou bought at our corner store this afternoon, our guest said goodnight. We’ll see them on Sunday.

When our guests left MaryLou headed upstairs to her room and Dave and I continued watching Narcos on TV. By 10:30 we were both barely keeping our eyes propped open and we too went upstairs to bed. Tomorrow we’ll probably go out for breakfast — bacon and eggs for Saturday morning. As it should be.

A Bus Tour of Merida

Nevertheless, the people who live in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large; Numbers 13:28

It was quite a bit cooler here today than it’s been since our arrival. GREAT golfing temperature. But no golfing today. No, today we are heading into the Merida city centre.

After breakfast I tried to set up my computer so I might be able to sit out on our balcony and work on my projects. So I rigged up my extension cords, etc, only to confirm that there really is NO internet access at my end of the balcony. So Plan B — I’ll use my little work desk in my bedroom. That seemed to work for a while. So I fiddled with my web project. One step forward, two steps back — that’s how that project is working!

We got a message from the Neufelds — Ken has booked a city tour on an open bus for one o’clock. Be there by quarter to. So at 11:30 I had lunch (leftover pizza from nearly a week ago!). Then we headed out to the front gates to catch an Uber. Today the car showed up pronto — a little too quickly for some of us. But in spite of inner city traffic snarls we made it to the meeting point at the Santa Lucia plaza with minutes to spare.

Since we were the first stop on the tour, we had our choice of seats. We made ourselves comfortable near the back. The driver made a little circuit and picked up enough other tourists that the bus was nearly full. A woman sat in the middle of the bus with a microphone and gave us the play-by-play in Spanish and in English.

Monumento a la Patria
The Monumento a la Patria (Monument to the Fatherland) is located on Paseo de Montejo in one of the busiest roundabouts of the city of Merida. Carved in solid stone, this monument tells the story of Mexico, from pre-Hispanic times to the first decades of the 20th century.

The tour took a couple of hours and covered a good section of the city centre and beyond. The tour guide pointed out many important official buildings, but also many beautifully restored older homes. The main boulevard led out to the perimeter. Big traffic circles featured monuments and statues.

After the tour bus brought us back to where we’d started we walked the 2 blocks to the home that Ken and Kaaren are staying in. It is a lovely home with a private pool and a nice kitchen and several areas with seating for visiting. Which is what we did. And then we walked across the narrow street to a little hole-in-the-wall “restaurant”. The cook seemed a bit flustered by our showing up there — but offered us two different options when we asked if we could get something to eat. We ordered both. Then a man who could speak a bit of English came from an adjoining room. Drinks? Cerveza? No, sorry, no. No license. Ken asked if we could bring our own. The man seemed a bit unsure, but decided that would be okay. So Ken goes across the street to his house and comes back carrying 3 glasses of beer. Kaaren and MaryLou share an ice tea. When the food arrives we get four plates, two with something that resembles ‘spring rolls’ (but they’re not spring rolls) and two plates of little ‘mini-pizzas’ (but they’re not mini-pizzas). But the food is good. When we’re done we go across to the house to pick up our things. We arrange that the Neufelds will come to our place tomorrow right after lunch.

As we walk along the sidewalk Dave suggests we try taking one of the local buses instead of calling an Uber. Great idea! We walk a couple of blocks until we reach a one-way going north, the direction we want to go. We stop a young lady on the sidewalk and ask her for help hailing a bus. We explain that we want to go to the large “Chedraui” grocery store. The girl flags down a bus and explains to the driver where we want to go. Yes, he nods. We thank the girl and get on the bus. The fare is 8 pesos each — just over 50 cents! The bus makes a few stops along the way, but the trip is not much slower than if we’d taken an Uber. And when google maps on my phone shows that we are very near the grocery store and I suggest we get off at the next stop I see the driver signalling me in the rearview mirror — he’s looking after us and motions that we should get off at the next stop.

While Dave and MaryLou start the grocery shop I run across the parking lot to a big sporting goods store to buy some new golf gloves. Then back to the grocery store where the Driedgers are about ready to go through the checkout. Dave calls an Uber while I get a bit more cash from the ATM in the store. When the taxi arrives we plop all our groceries into the trunk. We ask the driver to not drop us off at the front gate, but rather to take us to our house.

The groceries get packed into the fridge. It looks like beans will be on the menu for a few meals in the next little while! Dave and I plunk ourselves down and look for something meaningful to read on our phones. MaryLou disappears up the stairs. I soon head upstairs myself. As flaky as the internet here is at times, it will take the rest of the evening to post my journal for the day. Ah, but it’s Mexico and there’s nothing pressing on the agenda. We’re in Mexico!

We’ve Got Visitors!

Use hospitality one to another without grudging. 1 Peter 4:9

I had to get up a bit earlier than usual today. I went downstairs and had a cup of coffee. Then I walked over to the golf course clubhouse and had another cup of coffee and an order of toast there. I had a golf lesson scheduled.

The driving range.

At 8:30 Miguel, my Spanish, as in ‘from Spain’, instructor started my 30-minute lesson. I told him I wanted to learn how to hit my long irons straight. So that’s what I worked on. And I THINK the lesson will pay off. At least now I know what I’m doing wrong and how to ‘fix’ it.

I didn’t always hit the ball down the fairway. Too often this is how I found it.

When the lesson was over Dave was sitting at the restaurant, waiting for me. Time to go golfing for real. So we walked the front nine. And I practiced what I’d learned. It didn’t always work. A few too many times i ended up finding my ball out of bounds, deep in a scrubby bush. I will not be a quick fix!

I didn’t get a photo of our guests so here’s a great stock photo that will represent them. (I’ve blurred their faces to protect their identity.)
We were on the ninth hole when I got an email. Ken and Kaaren are on their way over. Good timing! So we finished up the hole and sent MaryLou to the front gate to meet them while we put our clubs away. Dave and I rushed back to the house to have a quick shower before lunch. But when we got to the house we were locked out. So he called MaryLou and got her to come back to the house and I ran to meet the visitors. They were just through the front gate when I got there. I hopped into their Uber car and rode back to our house with them.

We sat around in our place for a while and discussed what to do for the rest of the day. After a refreshing drink we decided to go back to the clubhouse and have lunch there.

Ken at the #3 tee.

After lunch we got Ken registered as a member (for a month) at the club. By around 4 o’clock it was time for another nine holes. So MaryLou and Kaaren went back to the house to visit while the boys went for a quick nine-hole round. The first couple of holes were busy so the starter sent us to hole number 4.

When we completed nine holes Ken and Dave took the clubs back to the storage lockers at the course and showered there. I went home and showered. I put in a load of laundry and then FaceTimed with my mom.

Dave made us some tequila drinks for happy hour. Then we walked to the front gates and called a couple of Ubers to take us to the Hermano Republica restaurant for supper. Cheeseburgers and pulled pork sandwiches. Craft IPA brews to go with that. We said goodnight to our visitors and they headed back to their place in Merida’s city centre.

Back at the apartment it was movie time. Dave’s choice tonight. “The Sisters Brothers”. Rotten Tomatoes might give it a 85% favourable rating but it couldn’t keep our attention for any sustained period of time. Nod, nod, nod. Let me check my phone. What’s happening on Facebook. Scrabble, scrabble, scrabble. Bloop, bloop, bloop. So before we could add a few snores to the soundtrack we turned the TV off and headed up to bed.