Merida 2019

A winter in Mérida, the cultural capital of the Mexican state of Yucatán, with the Driedgers.

A rough start…

Another trip, and so another online journal about it!

After a miserable weekend at home, suffering a brand new cold (probably not helped by all the snow-shovelling I did), I was a bit concerned about how I would handle the 4-and-a-half hour flight to Cancun on New Year’s Day. I was packed and ready to go by 6:30am. Speaking of packed and ready to go, I had packed everything I would need into my golf bag and a small backpack. On Monday afternoon Robert D stops by with a luggage scale — and lo and behold, that big heavy golf bag weighed just over 20kg. The Transat Air website spelled out that ONLY golf equipment would be allowed in this oversized bag — and gave specific limits for clubs, balls, and shoes. I was counting on that NOT being an issue.

So I left Steinbach early Tuesday morning. The temperature was minus 30. I couldn’t breathe through my nose and I had a headache. I drove to my sister Irmy’s house and picked her up. She would take the van back to her house and then go back to the airport next Sunday to pick up the kids when they return from their two-week vacation. They would drop her off and then take the van back home to Steinbach.

Check-in went way better than I’d expected. No problem with the bag being just a bit OVER the limit, and no problem with all the extra clothes and shoes I had packed in there. I got a window seat next to a young couple and tried my best not to cough or sneeze in their general direction. I think I snoozed a bit on the flight.

When we got to Cancun I disembarked and more-or-less walked straight to and through customs. As I entered the baggage hall a woman was just unloading my clubs from the oversize chute. I walked out into the warmth of the Yucatan. I passed a very long line-up waiting to buy bus tickets from the ADO bus ticket counter. I had read that I was better off buying tickets out where the busses are — and getting on the next available bus instead of waiting for the one I bought the ticket for. But when I got to the ADO bus parking lot I was told they had no tickets for sale there and that I would have to go into the terminal to buy my ticket. I whined a bit, and asked them to please not make me drag my (very heavy) golf bag all the way back into the terminal and stand in that long line. And one of the bus drivers had pity on me and said hop on. His bus was actually heading to Merida (where I will be going this coming Sunday) but he explained that he would be making a stop at Terminal 2 (we were at Terminal 4) and there I could buy a ticket (122 pesos, or about $8.50) right at the curb and hop on the next bus going south to Puerto Morelos. And it was so. In fact, while I waited the 6 minutes for my bus to show up I chatted with another tourist who had been given quite the run-around and now finally bought a ticket to Puerto Morelos as well, but his departure time was 45 minutes LATER than mine! Poor guy.

My bus dropped me off at the bus stop in Puerto Morelos. Taxis were waiting to take us to our various hotels. I hopped into the first taxi and for 35 pesos ($2.50 Canadian) I was delivered to my little Airbnb apartment near the beach. Easy trip here and quite a bit cheaper than the $80 shuttle service lots of tourists take from the airport.

My apartment was just like the website said it would be. Small, but clean and in a decent location. I on the other hand was feeling miserable. I opened up my big golf bag and found a pair of shorts. I may not put my long pants back on again until the day I fly back home.

I sent a text to the kids, telling them I’d arrived and gave them the address. Less than half an hour later I spotted them walking up the street. Their taxi had dropped them off at the corner. It was great to see them, and especially Max (who is the happiest and most joyous person in the universe and who’s love for me is matched only by mine for him). He is having a GREAT holiday, loving Mexico, hanging out with mom and dad every day all day! We scouted out my place — big backyard with a hammock and swings and chairs under the shade of a thatched roof. And then we took a walk around the neighbourhood. It’s half a block to the big central square. An OXO grocery store is just at the corner. We went around to the next block and got a table right on the street at a large and very busy pizza joint. We had to wait quite a while for our two large pizzas, so we had lots of time to catch up and hear about all the adventures the kids have had in the last week and a half. Turns out that one pizza would have been sufficient. I took a box of leftovers home.

I was feeling terrible — I couldn’t breathe through my nose and the flight had really buggered up my ears which were still feeling plugged. So the kids wished me a good night and caught a taxi back to their hotel. I fell into bed — it was before nine o’clock. I woke up occasionally (mostly to blow my nose!) but didn’t get out of bed until noon the next day.

Down for the count

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…

I got a text from Alex at around 9am. They were having breakfast. What about me? I was still in bed. And I planned to stay there for a while. I didn’t get out of bed until noon. By then it was pretty clear that the kids should stay at their hotel and do their own thing — and I would spend the day resting and trying to get better. And that’s what happened.

I showered and went across the street to the fruit and juice shop and bought a litre of grapefruit juice. I washed down a piece of leftover pizza with that. Then back to bed for the afternoon. I got up again a little after 7. I talked to Alex about plans for tomorrow. Then I took a walk outside — I went down my street and out around the main square. Still lots of action out there. That pizza restaurant had a long line of waiting customers. Busy, busy. I stopped in at my corner grocery store and bought a couple of cokes and a couple of bottles of water. And a yogurt. And a phone card. So now I have a Mexican phone number. And a bunch of data. All set! Under $20.

Back at the house I had some of that yogurt and another piece of pizza and a coke. I was feeling a bit better, but still had a headache. I sat in the living room for a while, but the light was poor and I was trying to read the Spanish on the phone company’s website to figure out exactly how much data I had just bought! Oh well. I turned out all the lights and headed back to my bed. But instead of going to sleep I took out my laptop and wrote my journal for the past two days. It was almost midnight by the time I was done. I was feeling a LOT better than I had for most of the day. I sure hope this thing is behind me now.

Back among the living

…for a living dog is better than a dead lion. Ecclesiastes 9:4

I’ve been sicker than a dog, and I ain’t lion. But when I woke up this morning I could sense that I was heading in the right direction. MUCH better than the last couple of days.

I made myself a cup of coffee and ate a bit of my yogurt. Then I packed a small bag (my trunks, my sudoku puzzle book, and an extra shirt) and trekked out towards the resort where the kids are waiting for me. Three kilometres south of my place. But the morning temperature was ideal, the sun not yet high enough in the sky to get at me over the tops of the jungle that lined both sides of the narrow road. When I got to the resort gates the gateman nodded at me and said Hola. I just walked right in. Alex and Max and Tim were waiting for me. We headed into the breakfast room and sat down at a table. Max was happy to show me the buffet and all the individual stations where one could order ‘custom’ options. A crepe filled with nutella for him, one filled with peanut butter and banana for me. A few maraschino cherries to make it look nice. A pound of bacon on the side for each of us. Now THAT’S how you start your day here in Mexico.

After breakfast we headed up to the room to change into our swimsuits. Then down to the pool where Alex and Max had reserved 4 loungers earlier (much earlier) this morning. And then off to the pool. Nothing better than for Max to be ‘thrown’ around in the pool — and he always comes up with a big smile on his face, ready for another throw. When the aerobics instructor woman started up her disco music and led the aerobics ladies (that’s what they were, all ladies) in various aerobics/dance moves, Max was in there like a dirty shirt. Not just dancing, but singing along enthusiastically with Pharrell Williams’s song “Happy”.

Because I’m happy
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do

By the time the sun had worked its way through the #50 sunscreen I’d slathered on my nose it was time for lunch. Lots of choices. Max’s favourite was the bacon-wrapped hotdogs. My favourite, too.

After lunch Max and I headed up to the room. Max showed me all the things Santa brought to Mexico for him. One gift was a ‘Scavenger Hunt’ card game. I think we played that for at least an hour — not according to any ‘Scavenger Hunt’ rules, but rather by some new rules that Max had made up.

Alex came to get us when it was time for an afternoon ice cream and espresso coffee. Lovely. And then off to the beach, where not only had Max collected quite an assortment of seashells, but now he invented a game which made use of all the seaweed that the waves had brought in to shore. The guy has creativity to match his energy. And he’s ALWAYS got a big smile on his face. By now my horrible cold was but a distant memory. It was no match for all the fun I was having.

At around 5:00 it was time for me to take the walk back to my apartment. We arranged that the kids would come to my place tomorrow and spend the day at MY part of town. The road back home was a bit busier with traffic than had been in the morning. But in about 30 minutes I was back at my apartment.

I wandered around town for a while. I ‘found’ the big new grocery store that my Airbnb host had mentioned in her email. Pretty nice. It has a little deli and a sushi bar and a ceviche bar and a crepe bar — and some Czech beers and Mendoza malbecs. I could manage living here for a couple of months.

Later in the evening I ventured out again, this time down the OTHER direction. I ended up eating some delicious pork tacos at a small restaurant down the street from my place.

Back in my room, I wasted some time scanning the ‘internet TV’ options on the television. Mostly Fox News and YouTube. Eventually those 90-second clips in between spinning ‘busy’ cursors got a bit tiresome and I showered and sat down and wrote my journal for today. And now I’m caught up.

A day in Puerto Morelos

We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick: Numbers 11:5

By the time I got out of bed this morning the street outside my apartment was already fully alive. Street sweepers, delivery vans, families and dogs heading for the beach, the construction guys doing a reno next door, the juice man across the street already a quarter of the way through his mountain of fresh oranges. Because of my cold, which was getting better every day, I still didn’t have much of an appetite. I ate my yogurt and drank some of my grapefruit juice and called that breakfast.

I lazed around the house for most of the morning. I called my mother who was a bit distressed about why her credit card wasn’t working. Then I got into a Low German email exchange with my brother. I tried to sit in the ‘palapa’ in the back yard but the cloudless sky made today feel quite a bit hotter than it has been here so far.

The kids were coming at around 1 o’clock. The plan was that they would spend the day here in Puerto Morelos with me. I tried to buy some more beer at the corner grocery before they arrived, but the Mexican version of the brinks truck was there filling up the ATM machine. That meant that 3 guys with their automatic rifles were blocking the whole back third of the store, including the beer coolers, while they were busy with the machine. I tried to get one of them to hand over a six-pack, but he wasn’t in the mood to serve customers.

When the kids arrived we all went out to the hammock and garden chairs in the palapa. Alex was hot and uncomfortable — bothered by the heat rash she gets from too much sun. It turned out that the fan parked at the back of our hut didn’t work, so we went back inside. My little air conditioner, which I hadn’t used until now, soon got the place quite comfortable. Tim and I went to get some chips and beer and I got a couple of tacos from a little food shop on the street. Max was tired — they had had their usual active morning at the pool — so he watched a bit of TV and pretended to have a nap.

At around 5 the heat of the day was behind us and we went out for a walk. We headed to the beach. Boats were coming in, some fishing, some snorkelling. The two long docks had fishing poles sticking out on either side. Families were still sitting under umbrellas in the sand or playing in the water.

We wandered around, looking at restaurants and checking out the little tourist shops in the town centre. Max found a shark-tooth necklace. Tim and Alex did not find dishes that would quite go with the rest of their home decor. I had fun watching Max try to build a seaweed wall that would hold back the waves as they came into shore.

Eventually we found the recommended seafood restaurant. We got a table and a friendly waiter helped us decide on what to order. Max’s shrimp cocktail was okay, my fried fish was good, the big plate of ceviche we all shared was very good. Some of us had an ice cream cone on the way home.

After the kids had taken the taxi back to their resort, I sat in my apartment and enjoyed the cool(er) breeze that was blowing through my screen doors. I watched a bit of news on TV. Caught up on the latest emails. And because I was so tired from doing nothing all day, I went to bed.

One last swim at the Now Jade

And he shall spread forth his hands in the midst of them, as he that swimmeth spreadeth forth his hands to swim… Isaiah 25:11

Saturday. I slept in again — only woke up at 9 o’clock. I putzkied around until 10:30. Then I went outside and started walking to the kids’ resort hotel. It’s a 3km walk from my place. It wasn’t as hot today as it was yesterday — quite pleasant for the walk.

When I got to the hotel I changed into swimming trunks and joined Tim and Max at the pool. Max has ‘inherited’ a big pink donut-with-sprinkles floatation ‘tube’. We played in the pool for quite a while, and even tried playing in the waves at the beach for a while.

Soon it was lunchtime — a delicious cheeseburger for me, bacon-wrapped hotdogs for the others. After lunch we were chased into the room by a terrific downpour that lasted about 10 minutes. But only 10 minutes. And then the disco thumping boom-boxes started up again and the pool party continued.

Max and I went for a small ice cream cone and I had another double espresso at the little cafe near the pool. Then back to more swimming. Max has really developed as a swimmer these past couple of weeks — much more confident and stronger.

I said goodbye to the kids. It’s been so great to spend time with them for the last few days. They had a great time here — but they are ready to go home tomorrow and get back into the routine of work and school and their life at home. I will miss them very much. But I too am looking forward to tomorrow; I will say goodbye to Puerto Morelos and get my first look at my place in Merida where I will spend the next couple of months.

I walked back to my apartment. I wasn’t at all hungry after my big lunch and decided to skip supper. I opened a cold beer and turned on the TV. I watched a couple of Netflix shows tonight. Then I found the NFL playoff game on a streaming site on my laptop and watched the last half of the Seattle-Dallas game. I’ll miss tomorrow’s games because I’ll be on the bus all afternoon.

So that’s the end of the first chapter of this “holiday”. A bit of a shaky start, but things improved mightily from there. The kids will have one last morning to enjoy the pool and the buffet breakfast at the Now Jade resort. I hope their trip home goes “swimmingly”.

“Welcome” to Merida

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed… Romans 8:18

Sunday today. Last day in Puerto Morelos. I got up and slowly started packing. I had thought I might even by a cheap bag so that I wouldn’t have to cram everything back into my golf bag for the bus ride to Merida, but in the end I just jammed it all back into that golf bag — it weighs a ton, but they don’t worry about ‘overweight’ on the bus.

Then I went out for a morning stroll. I wanted to have a nice cup of coffee and maybe a bit of breakfast. Again it was a beautiful day. Other than that one downpour at the hotel yesterday, there has been no rain and the temperature now is perfect. The forecast for Merida is sunny and 26 for the foreseeable future.

I had a nutella crepe and a double espresso at a cafe. I still wasn’t very hungry so I didn’t even finish the crepe.

Back at the house I wrote in the guest book and tidied up a bit — tried to put everything back where it was when I arrived. I texted with the kids — they were waiting for their shuttle bus to take them back to the airport. We’d be leaving at about the same time — they for home, me for further adventures in Mexico.

I dragged my bag out to the side of the street and locked the house up as per instructions. I waved down a taxi and got a ride to the bus stop on the side of the highway. The taxi driver was very excited that I was a golfer and that I was going to a golf resort for the next couple of months — and had to show me lots of photos on his camera of himself on a golf course with his golfing brothers. Ah, I guess we golfers are a fraternity of sorts.

The bus that took me back to the airport came soon, and the ride to the airport was about 25 minutes. I already had a ticket from terminal 2 to Merida so I ‘parked’ my big golf bag next to a garbage can and stood and waited for about half an hour. Just before it was time to embark I decided that I’d better buy something to eat — it was supposed to be a 4+ hour trip and although I wasn’t hungry, I had eaten so little for breakfast. So I had a not-very-good airport hotdog and grabbed a bag of nacho chips and a coke for the road.

For all the “seat selection” options online when I had booked my ticket, in reality that meant nothing. I ended up next to a young man who didn’t look like he really wanted to talk. But as we rode along I struck up a conversation and we ended up talking the whole way to Merida — making the time pass quite quickly. The guy was from Russia, had moved to the U.S. when he was 20, was a medical health researcher at Rochester University, and was going to Merida for a scientific conference where one of his students was presenting a poster. By the end of the trip we were friends.

I got to the Altabrisa bus station and looked around for a taxi. Not many. Other passengers (not all were getting off at this stop) were meeting friends or relatives with cars. Some were on the phone calling taxis. I wondered what to do. But then a taxi pulled up and I loaded up my stuff and explained where I wanted to go. Twenty kilometres at 10 pesos per, he said. In the end his phone GPS led him too far, to the wrong entrance to the country club, and necessitated a very long detour to get back to where I really wanted to go. We arrived at the front gate and after some minutes of checking to see who I was and where I belonged, they let us through. It was a bit of a long winding complicated drive to find the house, but eventually we did. And as I got out of the taxi I recognized the guy standing next to his car in front of the house as ‘Mario’, the owner of the house. So he was here to meet me! Great!

I paid the cab and we went inside. Dusk was upon us. Mario welcomed me in and began showing me around. Hmmm… Okay… The photos had presented a very clean modern-looking apartment. In actuality the place looked rather tired. Lights were dim and many burned out. The kitchen didn’t look like I would like to cook in there. But the bedrooms upstairs looked okay — big “newish” beds.

After a quick tour I wondered where I met get some supper. Oh, oh. Another problem. Nothing around here is open. And there’s really nothing in the house either. But how about you order a pizza? How about YOU order one for me? Mario phoned about 5 options and ended up with nothing — either they were closed or they didn’t deliver this far. Maybe we will need a car for our stay here?

Then Mario tried to show me how to watch the NFL game on TV. But after a couple of minutes of pretty great action that too ended — the ‘pirated streaming’ site he’d found was not reliable. Ah, but you can watch Netflix. And why don’t you download the Roku app so you can use the bedroom TV. And is it okay if some workers come here tomorrow to repair the broken railing around the balcony? And here’s my WhatsApp number if you need to contact me. And then he was gone. And I sat there. It was 6pm and I was alone with zero options ahead. Well, I had that little bag of chips from the bus station.

Meanwhile I had confirmation that the kids had landed in Winnipeg. It was starting to snow pretty hard, but they made it home safe and sound. That was good. And then while I was trying to figure out what Netflix show I might spend the evening with, Dave D FaceTimes. So I spent an hour giving him a virtual tour and communicating my disappointment.

Finally, in the end, I decided that it might be best to go to sleep on it. Maybe my attitude needed an adjustment. Maybe tomorrow, in the light of day, I would see the place in a different light. Maybe the golf course would be so glorious as to balance off the disappointment of the apartment. So I finished my little snack of chips and went to bed.

Taking stock

I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.[YIKES! Really?] Daniel 10:3

The alarm rang at 7:30. I was half sort of expecting workers to show up on my balcony early this morning. I should have remembered: I am in Mexico. But now I was up. I got dressed and went downstairs. Breakfast? Nothing to see here. I repaired one of the blinds which was rolled up backwards so that when I left for my morning walk I could do so with a clean conscience.

I walked a few houses down the street and got to a gravel track that cut between two holes on the golf course. At the other end of the track was the clubhouse. I went to check it out.

The name of this country club and golf course is La Ceiba. I stopped in at the restaurant and got a coffee to go. Then I went to the pro shop to ask about golfing rates and stuff like that. The people in the clubhouse more-or-less answered my questions but it didn’t really make sense to me. One game was supposed to cost me 2000 Mexican pesos. But for 9000 pesos I could have as much golf as I wanted, including golf cart, for a month. So as long as I golfed more than 4.5 games per month I was ahead buying the monthly pass.

The golf pro sent me to see the woman in the main office. So I did. Of course she could not speak or understand English, but a lovely young girl who was ‘visiting’ with the woman spoke perfect English and acted as the translator. As I said, really no new information here — she just confirmed what the pro shop had told me.

I went into the restaurant where Omar, the very friendly waiter who had given me my coffee earlier, took my breakfast order. I hadn’t eaten since that bag of chips yesterday early evening, and not much for a few days already. I was hungry. The big plate of scrambled eggs and ham with toast and jam satisfied that. Alex, the young translator, came and sat down at my table and told me all about the golf club and how nice the people are here and I should really take up golfing here.

When I got back to the house those balcony repair guys were just getting started. I watched for a while as they jimmied their arc welder by connecting the bare power wires directly to the line on a hydro pole right next to the house. Free 220 volts I guess. But they unhooked it mighty quickly when the welder started smoking like crazy!

I could see that was going to be an all-day task. After sitting at my computer and catching up with the news I went for another walk around lunch time. This time I headed in the other direction, back to the entry gates. Just outside the gates is a little mini-market. I browsed around in there for quite a while — trying to take stock of what they had and what they didn’t have. No beer or wine, for example. Not a lot of meat either. But some fresh bread, butter, yogurt (turned out not-so-fresh), chips and cokes. I bought some of each and threw in a homemade paper-wrapped ‘tostada’ and went back home.

I was on the computer again for a while. At around 5 o’clock the welders on the balcony were done. They cleaned up their ladders and equipment. A freshly-painted thick black iron railing now protects the gringos who rent this place from falling off the second-floor balcony.

The workers sat down on the floor of the car port and waited for Mario, the owner of the apartment, to come and inspect the job and pay the guys. I was ready for Mario. I had prepared a long list of things that the apartment needed and things that needed fixing or replacing. So when he was through with the workers, I had it out with him. He could see I wasn’t very happy and he promised that he would do his best to make things right. He took out his phone and took a photo of my lists and then went through the items and made a big checkmark next to most of them.

I told Mario how frustrated I had been without a vehicle and without food yesterday. He said he was driving into town and if I wanted I could catch a ride in with him. I did that.

I spent nearly 90 minutes at the big Chedraui grocery store in town. Toilet paper, soaps, detergents, sponges, paper towel. And fresh fruit and yogurt and cheese and beer and wine. I stopped at the ATM before going through the checkout and took out a small loan to pay for the cartful. Then I pulled out my phone and got an Uber car to take me and my groceries back to my house.

I rearranged all the various hot sauce condiments down into the bottom shelf of the refrigerator so I would have room for all my new stuff. Then I ate that little ‘tostada’ that I’d bought earlier for my supper. It was okay, and easily enough to satisfy my hunger.

I sat on the couch and watched the NBC Nightly News and then the CBC National on my appleTV. I Facetimed with Alex and then later, with Dave and MaryLou. And I was tired. And I had a headache and my nose need regular blowing — maybe that cold is still in there somewhere.

I went upstairs and got ready for bed. I wrote my journal. Somehow things got a bit better today. I’m still not thrilled with the place, but I think we can probably make it work.

Dry bones at the country club

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones. Proverbs 17:22

I woke up with a splitting headache. A sinus headache. It didn’t matter how often or how hard I blew my nose, each time the relief faded within minutes. I always tell people who are interested in travelling that it is NO fun to be sick at home, and it is quite a bit LESS fun to be sick in a foreign place. Luckily I haven’t experienced a lot of illness on the road — more often I have a “merry heart”. But on this particular trip I have had my share of drying bones. I thought I might have beat it back in Cancun, but since Sunday I’ve felt crappy.

I had eaten my portion of yogurt and had one of my doughnuts for breakfast. I couldn’t make myself a coffee because I had no mugs to drink it out of! So I was sitting on the couch, holding my aching head and feeling might sorry for myself when I heard someone’s keys in the door lock. And in walks a young Mexican girl. Permisso? We looked at each other in surprise for a minute. She was carrying a bag with cleaning supplies, so right away that endeared her to me. I welcomed her in. Regina, or as they say here ‘Rrrah-HEE-na’, got right to work. She marched upstairs and ripped the bedsheets of the beds and threw them in the laundry. The big heavy drapes in my room got tied into a big knot so the sun could shine in. She found a big yellow bottle of cleaning solution in the bin in the bathroom and proceeded to scrub the toilet. (The toilet hadn’t been used — it doesn’t flush so I’m not that interested in using it until that little detail is resolved!)

Okay! Mario (the owner) is getting right down to work. I had warned him that when my friends from home show up here on Sunday they are going to turn right around and go somewhere else if a lot of things don’t improve at this place. I guess he had taken that to heart.

Around 1 o’clock Regina is done with the upstairs. (I really don’t know what she all did up there, but I could hear a lot of busy-ness up there and it sure smelled like cleaner in the house. When she came down to do the kitchen and the car port I took my lunch (bread with ham and cheese that I had bought at the corner superette) and sat outside on our new (and now clean) balcony to eat it. Not that I can taste anything — I can hardly talk and breathe at the same time, never mind TASTE food.

I’m not sure what exactly I should be expecting from this cleaning — there’s only so-and-so much that ‘cleaning’ can do. The seriously corroded sinks and taps and drains and anything else made of ‘metal’ are going to look like crap no matter how much ajax you wipe over them.

Shortly after lunch Regina announced that she was finito. Completo. She phoned Mario to report. Minutes later he comes roaring up in his shiny new black jeep. He jumps out of the car and announces “It’s Christmas!”. Apparently he comes bearing gifts. And sure enough, that long list of things to fix or replace or provide that I gave him yesterday will not be a bit shorter. A chair for my bedroom, light bulbs to replace SOME of the missing or burned out ones, a new plastic dish rack, and wash cloths, and coffee mugs, and a new toaster oven, and even a brand new hair blower. So now Mario and Regina are busy unpacking and ‘installing’ the new stuff. And I’m sitting there, all schnuffed up, feeling miserable, and trying hard to demonstrate a “merry heart”.

When the two of them are done they leave, but not before Mario informs me that an electrician is on the way. He arrives shortly after Mario leaves and installs a dimmer switch on the fan in one bedroom and a remote control variable speed thingy for the fan in ‘my’ bathroom. This is so they don’t have to be either off or going full blast and sounding like a helicopter taking off. He also changes some of the bulbs. And then I point out that my toilet doesn’t flush and that the sink in the kitchen doesn’t drain very fast. He says he will fix that, too. But after at least 45 minutes with a propane torch and a couple of big pails and pipe wrenches, he announces that he cannot fix that toilet. Mario later informs me that the toilet will likely need to be replaced. Oh good! That way I won’t have to walk through the Driedgers’ bedroom to use their ensuite in the middle of the night!

Mario returns a few more times before the afternoon is over. He is determined to provide us with watchable TVs. Okay, I brought my AppleTV from home and have it connected to the big nice TV in the living room. But both bedroom TVs are just hanging on the wall — without anything to watch on them. So Mario now finagles with several ‘Roku’ kits, trying to get them to make the bedroom TVs into ‘smart’ TVs. In the end, after a couple of trips back and forth, he gets the one in the Driedgers bedroom working. Of course ALL the TVs will have some pirated Netflix account, and most of the shows will have Spanish titles so we’ll need to guess what we want to watch before finding out what we’ve selected.

Then Mario does something really special for me on the downstairs TV. He has brought his ‘Rocket’ connector and account for us to use. The AppleTV gets disconnected and now we need to wait until the internet signal is strong enough (it ‘fades’ regularly) and if one is patient and doesn’t hit too many buttons in rapid succession, ALL the major sports (Deportes, in Spanish) events in the world can be watched on that big TV! Nevermind peliculas (movies) and HBO, etc.

When Mario leaves it is getting dark outside. I’m exhausted. Not from working hard but from holding my head up and trying to breathe. I lie down on the couch and play with those new channels. I keep losing signal and having to start all over again — what’s my code? — and then when I get back ‘on’ I have to navigate through a thousand channels. I could get pretty much EVERY NHL game that was being played tonight except the only one I cared to watch. So I started up some old Reese Witherspoon movie and promptly fell asleep on the couch. When I awoke I opened my laptop and went back to my good old reliable streaming site and watched the Jets beat the Avalanche in the third period. I think somewhere in there I had another doughnut. But not a lot of appetite, and not a lot of enthusiasm in general. I turned off the various light switches, some of which actually work the lights, and headed upstairs. I could now take out my contact lenses without worrying about the helicopter in the bathroom blowing them where I would never find them again. I made sure to spit the toothpaste into the one spot in the sink where that dribbling tap might actually wash it down the drain. I ‘borrowed’ the Driedgers’ bathroom one more time today. And then I went straight to sleep, holding onto my throbbing head and wondering how I was going to survive this night. What would I do if it really became unmanageable? No one to call. Don’t know the emergency phone number. Don’t know where the nearest doctor or hospital is. Maybe I’d just step out on my balcony (with its nice new shiny black heavy-duty railing) and yell “Ayuda mi!”.

Well, I didn’t have to do any of that. Sleep managed to keep the pain at bay for most of the night. But there was no denying it — my bones were getting SERIOUSLY dry.

The English Patient

And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope. Romans 5:3,4

So this morning I awoke and NOTHING had changed from last night. My head still hurt like crazy, I was hacking like an old smoker from Woodridge, and I couldn’t breathe through my nose. And my bones were BRITTLE dry. Nothing was looking like a “Hallelujah, schöner Morgen” to me!

I put my contacts in and went downstairs. What was I gonna do? This could NOT go on like this. I looked into the fridge but saw nothing that appealed to me in there. My goodness, what did I buy all those beers for anyway? Haven’t had one since Saturday night! A bit of yogurt and a quarter of a banana and that was breakfast. No enthusiasm to make my first cup of coffee here.

I stepped outside. I was determined to do something about it now. Across the street the neighbour was polishing his car like he does every morning. I walked across to say hello. He looked at me all friendly, but couldn’t understand a word I said. I tried a bit of Spanish. Doktor? (see how I spelled that?) Hos-pee-TAL? Mi infirme. Mi cabeza no gusto. Ayuda mi? He motions for me to wait, says he will get Anglais person.

A moment later out comes the younger man who lives here. I explain the problem without my special Spanish accent. He is kind and understanding. Do you have allergies? My wife gets sinus headaches from allergies. No, I’m quite sure this is from the cold I picked up a week-and-a-half ago. He suggests that I not go to the hospital. He explains that many Farmacias here have a doctor in them that can prescribe medicine. Wait a moment, I will be right back. He goes back into the house.

I waited many moments. Maybe he’d forgotten about me? I could hardly stand to stand out here so long, but the temperature was just right, with a very light breeze. Finally the man DOES return. He’s apologizes, says he’s made a lot of phone calls, and gives me a piece of paper with the ‘nombre’ and ‘addresse’ of the Farmacia YZA. He assures me that this one has a doctor there.

I Uber a ride. Not a long wait — about 7 minutes and the car is at the front gates to the country club. But of course those super high-security guards won’t let him in. He phones me. Spanish, spanish, spanish, spanish. Mi no comprende. Solo Anglais. PLEASE wait for me there — don’t leave. I start running the 800 metres to the front gate. I’ve made it so much progress today already, I don’t want to lose this guy. And I’m lucky. When I get to the gates I hand my phone over to one of the guards in the ‘out’ booth and ask her to please tell the caller that I am ‘aqui’ (here)! She doesn’t understand what I’m telling her, but takes the phone and then I see that she is talking to the guy in the car across the road at the ‘in’ booth. Whew! I hop in the car and give the guy my little paper from the neighbour. He nods, and we’re off.

But he doesn’t follow the address that I’d punched in as the Uber destination. No, he knows of a Farmacia that is much closer. Oh, oh. When we pull into the parking lot (“See! Farmacia YZA!” he says, proudly), I ask ‘Doktor aqui?’ Hmmmm… Don’t think so. We both go inside to ask. No, no, no. After the pharmacist gives Mr Uber a long schtreepful we get back into the car and go back to the main road. Eventually we find the correct place. Mr Uber doesn’t offer to wait for me — he’s already frittered away too much time for this fare.

I go in. Two very Spanish ladies don’t have a clue what I’m asking about. They say ‘Momento, por favor’ and a minute later in walks a lovely young woman. She announces that she is the doctor. Oh boy! I sure hope my Spanish will be enough to ‘esplain’ what is wrong with me. I pay the ladies at the counter 45 pesos for the referral and then Ms Doktor and I go next door to her office. She is very friendly and she speaks very good English. The visit is surprisingly professional and thorough. The English patient is weighed, measured, probed, and swabbed, and I get my arm all pumped up to make sure whatever is in there isn’t causing my headache. She looks at the back of my throat and says something about mucous. Okay, we’re on the right track. She puts pressure on my forehead and sinus areas. Yep. You’ve got an infection. You will need antibiotics. I will prescribe. A lot of writing and then she goes over it with me. Not just antibiotics, but THIS for your mucous and THIS for headaches and THIS for pain and THIS to dry out your sinuses. See? I really was quite sick! But now I am SET!

She comes back into the Farmacia with me and helps select all the right boxes of pills. She writes instructions on each box: this every 12 horas, this 1 x dias, etc. I’m impressed. And I can’t wait to get going with the medicine! I quickly added a new toothbrush and toothpaste to the bag of drugs, paid about $35 CAD for the works, and walked out. Already I was feeling quite a bit better. At least now I had a plan. And I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to keel over and die here just yet.

I walked back along the main road for a block or two. There were some huge fancy buildings across the street. A casino, a Costco, a big new fancy modern shopping centre. I walked across the road and into the mall and sat down in a little coffee shop. I ordered a cafe americano and a bottle of agua. Then I opened up some of my packages and took the first steps to my recovery. Ahhh!

I confirmed another Uber to take me back home. This time the driver spoke English, and I got some valuable info from him as we drove back. He dropped me off at the front gate and I walked back to my house. The neighbour was nowhere in sight. I went into my place and had the rest of my pill breakfast. And a chocolate doughnut (that’s the last of those!).

I sat down on the couch. “Nuscht met en teks!” Take it easy. Rest. Why not write the journal entry for yesterday now that you can bear to sit up for a while. I was on the phone, FaceTiming with Dave when I saw my neighbour slowly walking by the apartment. I hung up and rushed outside to thank him. I invited him in and gave him a full report. He was very pleased that he had been able to help, and he offered that ANYTIME I had a question or problem I should give him a call. We exchanged phone numbers. ‘Pepe’, as he introduced himself to me, had been a pilot for over 40 years, spoke good English, and knew lots of Canadians who came to live here in this country club every winter. He actually tried to make a call to his friend Jack from Edmonton, in order to introduce me to him. Jack must have been out on the golf course. Still, it was encouraging for me to hear that there were other Canadians in the area — and that Dave and I would probably meet some of them when we go golfing here next week. I thanked Pepe again for being a friend to me in my hour of need.

So my head still wasn’t feeling that great, but my disposition was 100% improved. A little less ‘tribulation’ and a whole lot more ‘hope’!

Later in the afternoon Pepe came around again — this time with his buddy Jack. So we chatted a while and that felt good. I’m sure we will be seeing a lot more of both guys in the days and weeks to come.

Just before 4:00 I made myself a ham and cheese sandwich. That’s more like it. Already the pills were having an effect. But I decided not to go out (to the clubhouse) for supper. I did a bit of work on my computer and made myself a bit of supper while watching the Nashville @ Chicago hockey game on that fancy new TV thingy Mario installed yesterday. When the game ended (in overtime) it was quarter to ten — time to take my next dose of pills. I could feel that the first dose had warn off. I wrote my blog and then shut things down downstairs and headed up to bed. I’ll try to watch the CBC National on my bedroom TV before calling it a night.

Here’s hoping that the tribulations are over. See ya tomorrow.

The Road to Recovery

Arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth; for I will give it to you. Genesis 13:17

I woke up with a SPLITTING headache. I didn’t even feel like getting out of bed. So much for those pills the doctor prescribed being an ‘instant’ cure. Even though I woke up at around 6:00am I didn’t drag myself out of bed until after 9.

I showered and went downstairs to gobble up another dose of the pills I got yesterday. Then I went back upstairs and gathered up my laundry and put it in the washer in the bathroom.

I decided that I would get myself off the couch and go to the little ‘superette’ at the front gate before lunch. I picked up some more pineapple juice and a few other things. I noticed that there are two woman in the small room behind the store who are COOKING stuff. And there were people sitting at little tables on one side of the store — like there was a little ‘café’ there. So I picked up a hamburger and took that back to my house as well. Not bad. The walk and eating something substantial actually made me feel better!

Jack from Edmonton stopped by in his golf cart and introduced me to his wife Gerry. They are snowbirds who’ve been coming down here for about 10 years. The first year they were here they rented the house that I’m in. Then they built their own place. Jack and Gerry golf every morning. Jack offered to help out in any way he could — if I needed a ride to Costco to go shopping, or if I was interested in renting a car for a lot less than the big rental companies charged — well, Jack had connections.

After lunch I went for another long walk — this time around the front nine holes of the golf course. That also made me feel better. The course is quite a bit better than what I had imagined and there are many very lovely homes in the development here.

I think the physical exercise actually helped to improve my sinuses and for sure the walk improved my attitude.

I went back to the superette to buy some bread but they were sold out. No problem. I’ll come back later. And at around 5pm I did. And then they HAD freshly-baked bread. The bread is great, and it costs 4 pesos! 27 cents. I went back to the house but decided that I now felt good enough to go back to the clubhouse at the golf course and have supper there.

I wasn’t very hungry, and told the waiter to bring me something ‘small’. I got an order of fries and chicken fingers to go with my Modelo Especial. Great! Couldn’t finish it, but I gave it a go!

Back at the house I tuned in the Jets game on TV and worked on a web project while I watched the game. Both didn’t turn out as well as I had hoped. But the Jets have another game tomorrow, and I’ll have another try at coding in the morning.

So it’s not quick, but it IS working.

New friends in Merida

Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats… 1 Corinthians 6:13

I woke up with a headache. What else is new? I had some nice bread with butter and mango yogurt for breakfast. And for the first time this year, I made a cup of coffee. Not bad either! Then I swallowed my assortment of pills and waited for the Tylenol to kick in.

I spent all day inside. I worked on a computer project and made quite a bit of headway. So I actually enjoyed a lazy quiet day here. At around 5:00pm I decided to walk to the superette at the front gate. On the way there I ran into Jack (from Edmonton) who was working on his golf cart. So now I know where Jack and his wife Gerry live. Right on the main road, in a lovely home they built about 10 years ago. And while I was talking to Jack another couple drives by and pulls over. So I get introduced to Jack’s friend Joseph and his wife Heidi — from Switzerland. And then Gerry comes out — she’d been inside napping when the phone rang. It was my neighbour Pepe’s wife Kiki calling. Would it be okay if they would also ask their new neighbour Rudy to join the gang for supper tonight?

I walked to the store and bought fresh bread for tomorrow’s breakfast and a Kitkat for a little treat before bedtime tonight. Supper was supposed to be at around 7pm — late for all us old folks. I THOUGHT that supper was going to be at Pepe’s house, but just after 7 he comes knocking on my door — are you coming? Yes, of course. Do I need to dress up? No, you’re fine. I walk across the street and into Pepe’s garage. Kiki is waiting in the car. I get in and get introduced. We drive to the front gate. Along the way we stop to pick up Jack and Gerry. On the other side of the front gate is another car with another couple, Doogie and Joan. They are Canadians from Sherbrooke, Quebec and they will join us. Kiki gets out of our car and jumps into theirs, and I move to the front passenger seat. It’s a LONG drive through many small side streets to get to the restaurant. But along the way the conversation begins, and both Pepe and Jack enjoy answering questions I have about Merida and the things I see along the way.

We end up at a small Italian restaurant. A large booth has been reserved for us. The others sit on either side, and I pull up a chair at the end, with Doogie and Jack on either side of me. And that’s how we spent the next 3 hours. My fettucini and camarones (shrimp) was excellent. The lasagna that a couple of the others had looked very good too. But as good as the food was, the conversation was great. In the end we split the bill 7 ways and headed back home via a much quicker and simpler route. (The restaurant was in fact not that far away from the Altabrisa bus station where I arrived last Sunday.)

And so tonight I not only had a great meal, but I made a bunch of new friends here in Merida. I almost forgot about my headache until I got home. I washed down a dessert of pills with some pineapple juice and sat down to write my journal. Things are looking up! (I’ll save the Kitkat for another night.)

Saturday Morning in Merida

And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain. 2 Samuel 23:4

Today I woke up and felt great! No sinus issues, not even a little headache. By 7:30 the sun was up and starting to dry up the puddles on the road — I guess we had a little shower sometime during the night. I made the bed and showered. I hung my towel out on the balcony to dry in the morning sun. Then I went downstairs for breakfast. I only remembered that it was Saturday and that I had planned to go to the clubhouse for Saturday morning bacon and eggs AFTER I’d already made my bread and butter and cheese and yogurt and fruit breakfast! Oh well. Maybe I’ll go there for lunch.

I puttered around all morning. When my neighbour Pepe came by I stopped him and asked about refilling my water cooler bottles. I knew I could phone the corner store and they would deliver a full one and take my empty in trade. But I didn’t feel comfortable enough to try ordering in Spanish, and no one at the store speaks English. Pepe immediately took my two empties and put them in the trunk of his car. Hop in. We drove to the store to buy water. Pepe showed me where they stored bags of ice, so I bought a bag of that too.

I don’t do water like this at home, so I had no idea how to get a big 5-gallon jug of water upside-down into the dispenser. Pepe tackled it no problem, and we only had a SMALL puddle on the floor to clean up. I also mentioned to him that I was expecting Mario, my landlord, to come and fix my toilet today. Pepe wanted to see the toilet. We marched up the stairs. He asked me to bring a bucket, and then showed me that when you dump a bucket of water into the toilet it flushes just fine. So it’s not plugged. No, Pepe said, the problem is that there is so much lime in the water that all the little holes around the rim of the toilet are plugged, so not enough water is getting into the bowl when you flush. If Mario doesn’t come through today, Pepe will ask one of his workers to come fix the toilet on Monday (Pepe has a TEAM of workers–cleaners and electricians and carpenters and plumbers–because it turns out he has more than 20 homes that he owns and rents out and which he manages).

Okay, it looks like my new friends will look after my every need!

It seemed to me that it was a bit warmer today than it has been the last couple of days. I went to the clubhouse to check it out — to see how much busier it is on the weekends. Very much busier! A full house. I sat down inside and ordered a hotdog and fries and a couple of Modelo Especials. And I watched the men at all the other tables. Lots of tables pushed together so the golfers can sit in groups of 8 or 12. Loud. Lots of laughing and cheering. Everybody knows everybody. And the Mexicans ALWAYS shake hands when they say hello and again when they say goodbye. Enthusiastically. Vigorously.

The clientele here today was not poor people. Everyone had proper golf attire, even fashionable attire. Like a Scottish hat and knickers. Or lots of Titliest golf hats. Mostly long pants. A bag with their golf shoes on the floor beside their chair. And they were all eating and drinking, but the food was mostly small plates of shareable stuff — most of which I had no idea what it was. I think I saw a plate of beets! Yuck! One guy must have had a hole-in-one and was busy ordering more champagne for his table and getting hugged and congratulated by everyone in the room. It was great! A good feeling of ‘community’ among the Saturday morning golfers.

After sitting there for a couple of hours, I took a walk in the neighbourhood. LOTS of very large and beautiful homes here. Most have 2 BMWs and a Porsche parked in the driveway. Nobody drives old ugly cars here.

Back at the house I had a FaceTime call with Alex. And then Mario came zooming up in his Jeep and took a brand new toilet, still in the box, out of the ‘trunk’ and put it in my garage. He’ll send HIS plumber guy to install it either tomorrow or Monday. When Mario left I got myself set to watch a couple of NFL playoff games — so I had to find channels on my big TV that would show them, and ones where the connection was good enough so I didn’t have to watch spinning cursors every few minutes. But if you want something bad enough, eventually you will have success. So I did.

In between the games I made myself a ham and cheese sandwich and opened up (finally!) one of my two bottles of wine and had a glass of Malbec with ‘supper’. Great. A little headache had returned earlier in the day, but really I think I’m nearly 100%. By tomorrow for sure!

While the first game went my way, the second game not so much. But I sat up until 12:30, working on the computer and then writing my journal. But now that that’s done, I’m off to bed. Got a song in my head:

If today was not an endless highway
If tonight was not a crooked trail
If tomorrow wasn’t such a long time
Then lonesome would mean nothing to you at all.
Bob Dylan

Well, tomorrow the Driedgers are scheduled to arrive, and that’s not such a long time; and then lonesome will mean nothing to me at all! I’m looking forward to their company. And I can’t wait to get out on that golf course!

And then there were three

[Three] are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

Well I woke up Sunday morning with no way to hold my head it didn’t hurt.
And the coffee I had for breakfast wasn’t bad, so I had one more for dessert.
Then I fumbled in my closet through my clothes and found my cleanest dirty shirt,
Then I washed my face and combed my hair and stumbled down the stairs to meet the day.

I’m telling you, this journal almost writes itself! Especially if you let Ecclesiastes (was that really a person? or was it a tribe of Israel?) and Kris Kristofferson write it for you.

But I DID wake up with a bad headache again. And I did make coffee and hold my hurting head and watch my Sunday morning shows on TV. And after a couple of hours the headache subsided a bit and then the first NFL playoff game of the day started and I was back in the groove. I’ll tell you who WASN’T in the groove: Philip Rivers and the Chargers. Yowsers! Losers!

Well I’d eaten almost everything edible in the fridge and what with the Driedgers expected to arrive late afternoon by bus from Cancun I thought I should really stop at a grocery store on the way to the bus station and get some provisions for a couple of meals. I was nearly out the door when the phone DINGS!! We’ve arrived! We’re at the bus station. Shoot! How did they make it to Merida so fast?

So I ran to catch my Uber and we drove down to the bus station. And there they were, hack en pack, patiently waiting for me to show up. MAN it was good to see them! My friends are here! Let the party begin! But first we gotta get those HUGE bags into the little Uber car. No chance that would work with the car I came down with. I sent him away and called another Uber, specified “Necesito un auto grande para mucho equipaje”. But when José arrived his car was no bigger than the first one. Well, we didn’t have all day! And José was determined to get this fare. In the end we jammed the big suitcase and the golf bag into the trunk and José took the laces out of his brand new boat shoes and tied them together and then tied the trunk lid down on the bags that were sticking out the back. Vamos!

No passports had to be shown and no one was frisked by the over-zealous security at our gate. We unloaded the Uber at the house. Dave and MaryLou were both all positive about the place. Well THAT’S what I need — someone to pick me up when I falleth. Stop being such a negative-ninny and adjust your attitude!

Okay, nothing in the fridge. How about we go to the clubhouse for supper. Good idea, except that after a bit of unpacking, by the time we got to the clubhouse it was 6:15. The good news was that they were open until 7. The bad news was the kitchen closed at 6:00. “No problem,” say the Driedgers. “We’ll come back tomorrow. We’ll go somewhere else tonight.”

And so it came to be that we flagged down another Uber and got a ride into town. We got a table at the Texas Roadhouse, the first restaurant that I could identify as a restaurant on the road in. We ordered and had a fine time talking and eating for the rest of the evening.

When we got back to the house it was time for the Driedgers to rest their weary bodies — they’d gotten up at 2:00am to go to the airport. I think that’s about when I went to bed last night! They had had a very L-O-N-G day. As they went off to bed I sat down and wrote my journal.

I took my last antibiotic pills tonight. I still have another box to go, but now I suspect that it is the pills that are causing my headaches. We’ll see. Surely a great game of golf will make all things right. I’m looking forward to it.

And we golf…

How beautiful are thy feet with shoes, O prince’s daughter! the joints of thy thighs are like jewels, the work of the hands of a cunning workman. Song of Solomon 7:1

Other than the fact that both Dave and MaryLou now suffer from Plantar fasciitis and are either sitting with an ice pack under their feet or hobbling down the road like a couple of wounded Canada geese, we are off to a great start! And things will get better. Dave, who should have brought his ‘newer’ sandals, is doing his best to ‘walk different’, and MaryLou intends to set up that brand new rowing machine that is just taking up space in our apartment — and the rehabilitation should take no time at all. And don’t even get me started about their jewelled thighs…

We had a morning coffee at the house and then went to the clubhouse for breakfast. “Oh what a beautiful morning, Oh what a beautiful day. And I’ve got a beautiful feeling…” sitting outside on the large patio and having bacon and eggs with a cup of coffee while watching early morning golfers duff balls on the driving range.

After breakfast we went to see the boss lady who would sell us our monthly club memberships. Well actually, the boss lady no speaky no English, but she got the very attractivo Maria who hablar Anglaise muy bueno to sell us the memberships. Great. And with each membership the spouse gets to use all the facilities (and even golf) for free. Excellente! MaryLou mucho pleased!

So after those formalities were over Marylou headed to the gym (included) and Dave and I went to the first tee. Although both of us hadn’t hit a golf ball for a number of weeks, no one was killed or injured when we teed off — so we were off to a good start. And by the time we reached the second tee we’d caught up with the group ahead. That is how we hooked up with a couple (from Ottawa) and made it a foursome. We played a very enjoyable nine holes. Nine, because the back nine apparently gets a little maintenance treatment on Mondays. Oh well, we were okay only golfing nine on our first day. Although the weather was fantastic, there were a few times when the sun came out from behind the clouds and that warmed us up good and proper. It was time to cool off on the clubhouse patio with a beer.

Back at the house we sat around and visited for a while. After a little happy hour and a shower we walked to the minimarket. We bought some snacks and got a couple of SIM cards installed in the Driedgers’ phones. Then back to the house to put our groceries away.

Shortly before 6:00 we left for the clubhouse again — this time for supper. Because the kitchen closed at 6pm yesterday we thought we’d make sure to be there a bit before six tonight. And we were. Unfortunately, when we got there we were informed that the cocina (kitchen) was closed on Mondays! What? Again?

It’s a good thing we are so relaxed and patient and easy to please. No problema. But what to do? Well, the neighbour lady drove by in her van and when her boys told here that we were looking for a restaurant suggestion she recommended one not far from our place. Hermana República. That gave Dave a chance to see if his new phone card and Uber account worked. It did. The restaurant was just down the road from our country club. And it was fine! Great local beers on tap, burgers and sandwiches and stuffed peppers. Followed by a short Uber ride back to our place.

Just before we’d left home Dave, who was checking out the big TV discovered that our fancy TV thingy gave us access to MANY brand new movies — movies that in many cases are still showing in the cinema. Now, as we walked back from the taxi drop-off to our house, Dave suggested one of his trademark ‘who-will-pick-tonight’s-movie’ selection system. Okay, how about alphabetical, suggests MaryLou. That would mean Dave first, followed by MaryLou, and then Rudy. Great idea.

Tonight MaryLou chose to watch the movie “The Wife”. It was a fine movie, and we all enjoyed the evening. Our TV is great. Our food and drink is great. Our weather is great. Our golf is great. Our feet — well, they are beautiful with shoes. Let the good times roll.

Seventeen holes of golf, a Jets game, and a movie

He that hitteth the ball into the long grass doth suffer to take a penalty stroke; but he who maketh many putts shall rejoice with delight. Hezekiah 17:2

Had a cup of coffee at the house before Dave and I walked down to the clubhouse for a breakfast of toast and jam. And soon we were on the first tee. We’d played about 4 holes when someone on the fairway beside ours called out to us. It was Michel, the retired fighter pilot from Ottawa whom we’d golfed with yesterday. He was by himself today — his wife Angela was busy doing some accounting — and so he hooked up with us for the rest of the round.

It is a LONG course. And with the sun shining down on us, it was a LONG walk around that course. Hard on the old Plantar fasciitis! There will be ice packs on some aching feet tonight! And we actually skipped hole #6 which was getting a bit of a do-over on the tee-box. And sure, there was a nice breeze by the time we’d made it to the back nine, but the wind was warm. And it isn’t a very ‘easy’ course either — I’ll be happy to break a hundred golfing here.

It was around 1:00 by the time we were back at the clubhouse. Time for lunch — hotdog for me, cheeseburger for Dave. And some cold Modelo Especials.

Back at the house I was expecting our friend Mario, the landlord, to come by. I’d sent him a text in the morning, reminding him that we still needed some ‘repairs’ and supplies here — and he’d replied that he was going to look after those things today. Well, I think we’re learning that in Mexico ‘today’ doesn’t necessarily mean that it will happen on THIS day. Mario never showed up.

I showered and did a load of laundry. The Driedgers went to the minimarket to see if they could straighten out their phone card business. When they got back things were not much better than when they’d left an hour ago — the guy at the store spoke no English and the phones still couldn’t phone me or each other. Manana.

We went back to the clubhouse for the third straight evening, hoping to get supper there. Today it was open, and so was the kitchen. Fish tacos and salad. Not bad.

Then back to our place to watch the hockey game. Again, that super-cool TV thingy we have gets us access to EVERY NHL game in the universe, EXCEPT the one going on at the BellMTS Centre in Winnipeg. Thank goodness that a guy can still find a couple of decent streaming sites on the web. And so we watched and listened to the Jets beat Las Vegas.

After the game it was time for our nightly movie. My turn to pick. We have so many great new movies available, how could I go wrong? How about if we watch “The Favourite” tonight — it’s getting a lot of Oscar buzz and I’ve only heard good reviews. Hmmm… I’m not sure what the Driedgers thought of it, but I’d say this movie missed the fairway by quite a bit. Out of bounds! Two stroke penalty.

It was midnight by the time I found the appropriate Bible verse for today’s devotional and summarized the day’s events. Tomorrow we’re going to the city centre; we’re signed up for a historical (hysterical?) walking tour of Merida. I’d better head on upstairs and rest up my weary feet.

The Wikipedia Tour of Central Merida

Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide… Micah 7:5

This morning after breakfast we went on a “Free Walking Tour of Merida.” We got an Uber to pick us up at the front gate and drive us smack dab into the middle of the city. He dropped us off at the Santa Lucia park, where we joined about 10 others to wait for our tour guide.

These “free” city walks are very popular in many of the major cities around the world. The Driedgers and the Nikkel have been on many of them. Most of them are VERY good. Many of the walking tours I’ve been part of feature a tour guide that is knowledgable and entertaining and easily worth the suggested ‘tip’ you pay at the end of the tour. “Merida Walks” is new in Merida. There are other city tours, but our free walking tour was a new business.

Our tour guide strolled into the park carrying a big pink umbrella. He gathered us around him at a few minutes after 10 and we all introduced ourselves to each other. He began by pulling out his picture book and giving us a short history lecture about the square we were starting from. And then we were off to the next ‘highlight’.

The group consisted mostly of German university students who were on a little furlough or holiday from school. A couple of them turned out to be more knowledgable than our guide, who came from Mexico City and had been in Merida for just over a month. Our guide seemed to enjoy giving us the history of the ‘fathers’ of the city of Merida. Well, it wasn’t the most interesting or entertaining city tour, but it DID get us into the heart of Merida and gave us an excuse to walk around a bit, and to enjoy a nice lunch in one of the city squares.

After lunch we looked for a Telcel phone outlet that would help install SIM cards and configure them for Dave and MaryLou. We got that done. Then we “Ubered” up to the big Chedraui grocery store and picked up some supplies. Mario, our landlord phoned, saying he was at the house with some plumbers to install the new toilet. Great!

When we got to our apartment Mario was gone and the toilet was still in the box in the garage. Oh, oh. But he texted, saying the plumbers needed some more parts and would be back soon. And they were. And they installed the new toilet. And it works. And they still need to fix the water dripping below the kitchen sink. Maybe tomorrow.

We had the fixings we needed for supper in. MaryLou made salads for each of us. Dave and I made grilled ham and cheese sandwiches.

After supper Dave watched some of the Raptors’ basketball game. MaryLou and I worked on our respective computers. Then it was movie time. Dave’s choice was “Leave No Trace”. It’s the story of a father with PTSD and his 13-year-old daughter. They are living off the grid, trying to survive in the woods. The movie was pretty good.

“Night snack” was a brownie with ice cream and a small glass of Baileys. By midnight it was time for bed. Tomorrow: back to the golf course.

Golf, laundry, dinner out, Jets game

In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty. Proverbs 14:23

I slept in this morning. By the time I was downstairs drinking my coffee Dave had already been up for over an hour and had finished his breakfast. MaryLou had already written several long articles and read a couple of books on her kindle.

As soon as I had put away my breakfast dishes we were off to the golf course. We got the caddies to get our bags out of storage for us and checked in with the starter. And just like that, we were off!

Today I played with one of those deep fluorescent red balls for most of the day. It’s actually a bit harder to ‘find’ it in the grass, but once I’d started I thought I might as well continue. It didn’t help my game, and it didn’t survive 18 holes, but it IS something I can say about the game today.

On about the 12th hole we caught up with golfers ahead of us. And we slowed down. And then the two guys on our tail starting posturing their impatience. And then Dave asked them if they’d like to join us. And they did. And they were fun to golf with — both were hitting the ball well, and the one guy was 81-years-old and hit the ball as far as we did and wasted no time on the course.

I was trying to break 100, but scoring a ten on hole 11 pretty much kiboshed that idea. And then I donated that nice red ball to someone’s swimming pool on about the 16th hole.

At the seventeenth par 3, Jerry, the 81-year-old took a couple of nice photos of Dave and me on the green.

After the game we went to the clubhouse for a cool refreshing cervesa. Then I went back to the house to shower and do a load of laundry. Dave is all gaga about showering at the country club. MaryLou was riding the stationary bike at the country club gym. Man, we are living the good life here!

I spent most of the afternoon working on the computer. Just before six we called an Uber and went into town for Mexican food. The restaurant that Dave had chosen didn’t work out for us — they told us their kitchen was closing shortly so only drinks there. We walked across the parking lot to the Italian restaurant. They were waiting for us. Many waiters hovering over us, just itching to take away an empty plate or bring us another drink. My food was very good.

We got back to the corner store (where the Uber picks us up and drops us off) and walked back to our place (about 800 metres). It was MaryLou’s turn to pick a movie. But the Raptors and the Jets were playing tonight (not each other, but each in their own sport). So MaryLou soon headed upstairs to do her own thing. And I was working on my computer and listening to the play-by-play on Dave’s iPad.

I was too tired to continue. I actually had a little nap downstairs on the couch until about 10:30. Then I went upstairs and got ready for bed. I wrote my journal, tried to watch the CBC News, and was asleep by 11:30.

Mirth and Merriment in Merida

Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry: Ecclesiastes 8:15

Friday. A ‘lazy’ Friday in Merida. No golf this morning. No tour this morning. No agenda. I like that. Things are getting better here every day. We’re getting quite comfortable with our apartment and with our surroundings. There are still a few things that need a bit of help in here but now that I have a new (working) toilet, life is pretty good! And the Uber thing is so good we’ve more-or-less given up on checking out a cheap car rental.

We had breakfast and then settled into our respective places. Reading a book or a short story. Working on the computer. Checking out Colbert and the sports highlights from last night. Looking up the best place to eat and what to do on the weekend. We’ll likely not golf Saturday and Sunday because the course is so busy with Meridians on the weekend.

MaryLou went to the gym for an hour. When she returned we made sandwiches and had lunch.

Dave had suggested that we try golfing in the AFTERNOON for a change. Maybe the temperature would be a little cooler. Maybe the course would be virtually empty and we could finish 18 holes in 3 hours. And that’s what we did and it turned out to be a GREAT idea. We both had some good holes, but in the end I was nowhere near breaking a hundred and Dave ended his round with an atypical string of mis-hits. It’s a good thing we are so easy-going. It’s a good thing that the waiters working the patio bar are so friendly and quick with their service. “Man hath no better thing under the sun, than … to drink…”

Speaking of which, it’s Friday. And after far too many missed opportunities, tonight we were going to have Friday Night Pizza Night. I wasn’t quite sure that my very limited Spanish would be enough to order in a pizza, but it turned out that Domino’s has an online ordering site that works just like it does at home. And 30 minutes later a delivery guy on a motorcycle roared up to our apartment. And a ‘grande’-size turned out to be just about exactly two times as much pizza as we would eat tonight. “Man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink…”

Movie time. MaryLou’s turn to pick. But MaryLou was down for the count! Feeling poorly. A bit of a sore throat. Oh, oh. Hope she’s not getting a miserable cold. She opted to head upstairs and go to bed early. Dave and I would have to “be merry” on our own. Dave suggested a violent but highly acclaimed movie — MaryLou wouldn’t want to watch this anyway, so maybe it would be the perfect time for us to watch it. “Mandy”, starring Nicolas Cage. We watched for nearly an hour. The movie was far more BORING than violent! Not only was there no bloody action; there was NO BLOODY ACTION! Skip it. What else can we watch?

We settled on “Fahrenheit 11/9”, the latest Michael Moore documentary. Well THAT movie WAS scary! Scary what has happened to politics in the USA! Scary how much the Trump phenomenon has parallels to Nazism in 1930s Germany.

Time to call it a night. I went upstairs and brushed my teeth. I watched the CBC National while I wrote my journal. Tomorrow’s plan was to take a trip up to Progresso, the beach town about 25 minutes north of here — but we’ll see how everyone feels in the morning.

Flamingos, Salt Flats, Mayan Ruins, & Ceviche in Progreso

And their south border was from the shore of the salt sea, from the bay that looketh southward Joshua 15:2

Saturday. MaryLou organized a day trip to Progreso, a port city 30kms north of us. So after breakfast we were ready to go. I heard Pepe the neighbour outside and went out to ask him about taking the bus. He wasn’t keen on it. He offered to take us to the highway and we could either wait for a combi or bus from there or just call an Uber. When we got to the highway we decided to just get an Uber.

The Uber taxi dropped us off at the town square in Progreso. We started walking towards the beach. It was VERY ‘touristy’ — with small shops along both sides of the road and hucksters beckoning and inviting us in at each one. And there were LOTS of tour operators selling ‘packages’ that would take us to any or all of the places that were on MaryLou’s list — and most offered even more stops than we were interested in. After enquiring at a couple of them we settled on a ‘private’ car with a driver to take us to see the flamingos, the salt flats, and the mayan ruins at Xcambo. It would be about a 3-hour excursion.

Our ‘salesman’ took us into his office where another guy ‘sold’ us the tickets. He then summoned a car and driver. While we waited for the car to arrive I scouted out the large indoor market we were in. There were many little food stalls and most looked to be quite busy. I bought a pork taco and a coke and finished it just as the car and driver appeared.

Our driver spoke VERY limited English. But with the help of our translator apps on our phones we managed to get a few questions answered. Our first stop was to see the flamingos. We drove along a narrow bumpy road that led into a huge marshland. We found some flamingos, but they were WAY out there — too far for my phone camera to get a good photo. But MaryLou had her SLR camera with a telephoto lens and was able to zoom in quite close. After a few minutes we got back into the car and drove back to the main coastal highway. As we drove east we saw many large and beautiful homes along the coast. Our driver said there were many Americans and Canadians who owned properties here.

After driving for about 40kms we turned off the highway and went inland. Just a mile or two in we saw lots of flamingos standing in a row — and this time they were MUCH closer to us and we were able to get good photos. We continued for another kilometre and came to the “La Rosada” pink lagoon salt flats. The driver parked the car and we wandered around the shores of the small square salt mining lakes. Many of the little lakes are filled with red plankton and shrimp which gives them a red and pink colour. We spotted a few more flamingos out in the distance. There was a little cantina selling drinks and oranges. Peeled oranges with a sprinkle of chilis on them — not bad, according to Dave and MaryLou.

One more stop on this tour: the Mayan ruins at Xcambo. We stopped to pay the National Park entrance fee (75 pesos — about 5 bucks) and drove in. The site is actually a relatively small archeological site. A couple of pyramids, a large courtyard, and some surrounding walls. We climbed the tallest pyramid. I chased a couple of big iguanas around. Then I bought an ice cream cone from a little ice cream wagon in the parking lot and we got back into our taxi and headed back to Progreso.

Back in town we headed right back to the beach. The Driedgers went to the massage tent out near the water and I wandered around for a while. I walked to the long pier. The pier in Progreso is the longest pier in the world, jutting out into the Gulf of Mexico for a distance of 6.5 km. It needs to be that long because the coastline here is so shallow. I saw the big cruise ships parked way out there at the end of the pier. I watched semi-trucks and trailers and cement mixers going back and forth out to the end of the pier. I saw the malécon, the long boardwalk that follows the coastline and beach. I heard lots of loud Americans (and probably some Canadians, too) making fools of themselves on the street. I’m sure the prices at the shops were at least triple the regular rate because the cruise people were spending a day in town.

I finally sat down at a table in a restaurant near the massage tents. I ordered shrimp ceviche and a lime margarita and watched people on the beach. After about an hour the Driedgers were all limbered up and rejuvenated from their massages and they joined me at the restaurant. An early supper, but enough food that we would not be very hungry later in the evening.

After we paid the bill we walked back along the main road looking for a grocery store. We stopped at one and bought some supplies, and then kept walking until we got to another (larger) supermarket and bought a few more things, items that weren’t available at the first store. MaryLou ordered an Uber car and we got a ride back to our home in La Ceiba. Some fresh bread and a small container of ice cream from our corner superette and then back to our place.

We had a little happy hour and got on our devices. Dave found the Jets game on his iPad and watched that until things were looking so bad for the Jets he closed up his iPad and invited MaryLou to pick a movie to watch on TV tonight. They settled on an Icelandic film with English subtitles. I was sure I’d seen it before so I went upstairs and showered. I had some leftover pizza and a cold beer, not because I needed it, or because I was hungry, but because it was just sitting there in the fridge and I needed something to do.

After the movie I wrote my journal and looked at all the photos we took on our ‘field trip’ today. By 10:30 it was getting pretty tough to keep my eyes open.

Ten degrees cooler and a few raindrops

The fountains also of the deep and the windows of heaven were stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained; Genesis 8:2

I think the high temperature here in Merida today was 24 degrees. (it was 34 degrees yesterday and it’s been in the 30s for most of our days here.) The locals here are all wearing jackets and long pants. The usually very busy Sunday at the golf course didn’t happen today — most golfers will have thought it too cold to golf. The sky was a bit grey and cloudy most of the day. All very unusual for what we’ve come to expect here. But for us Canadians, it was still a fine ‘summer’ day and we sure wouldn’t trade it for the MINUS 25 that it is in Steinbach right now.

I was up at 7:30 and downstairs just before 8, just in time for “my Sunday shows”. We had coffee and watched CBS Sunday Morning and a bit of Face the Nation. Then we walked over to the golf course clubhouse for breakfast. That’s when we realized that there were no golfers out today! We had sort of decided that our golf days would be Monday to Friday, leaving the weekends for Meridians. But since there was no one here, and the coolish temperature was ideal, a refreshing change from the usual heat, we should golf today. And since our clubs and shoes are stored at the course we didn’t even have to go back home after brunch. The boys dug our clubs out of storage and fixed us up with pull carts and off we were.

We had a very fine afternoon of golf. When we finished putting out on Hole #2 we felt a few raindrops. As we pulled our carts to the tee boxes on the third hole it actually felt like we might get a bit wet! The wind had picked up and tiny drops were pelting us. We weren’t far from home — should we make a run for it? Dave noted that we were not made of sugar, and argued that we should just play golf — the rain might easily go away as quickly as it appeared. So that’s what we did. And that’s what the rain did. Gone. Just like that. “The rain from heaven was restrained.” And it didn’t come back for the rest of our game, or even for the rest of our day.

We were wasting no time on the course — making good time. Twice we caught up with golfers ahead of us and both times they let us play through. We were back at the clubhouse for aprés golf Modelos by 3pm.

I FaceTimed with Alex and Tim and Max for a while from there. The are doing well and staying warm. It was good to see them and talk to them.

Back at the house I did a load of laundry as we watched the last quarter of the NFL semi-final between the Saints and the Rams. Rams won in overtime. Then it was time for supper. We took an Uber back to the Texas Roadhouse, which is near our place. We figured we could watch the Patriots/Chiefs game there while we had supper. Which we did, sort of. We ended up NOT sitting in the bar so the TVs were a bit far away. No big deal. It looked like the Patriots had the game well in hand and we were busy enjoying our meals.

When we returned to our apartment MaryLou headed up to her room to work on her computer while Dave and I finished watching the game. It turned out quite a bit more interesting than we expected, with the Patriots winning in overtime.

After the game Dave watched one of his shows and I wrote my journal. And then it was time for bed. All that walking on the golf course and the fresh (cool) air makes a person good and tired — and perhaps that is why all three of us have had good sleeps here. (My headaches which bothered me for most of the week went away yesterday and I am feeling great.) Tomorrow it’s supposed to be another ‘cool’ day before we go back to the ‘normal’ warm temperatures here. I think we might take a bit of a walk out to Dzibilchaltún, another archeological site with Mayan ruins and temples and even a museum. Google maps says it’s just outside the northern entrance to our country club, a 4km walk from our apartment. A day with a projected high of 27 degrees and a heaven that is ‘restrained of rain’ should be just about PERFECT for another interesting walk.

We’re heading down the road to ruin(s)

In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old. Amos 9:11

Another ‘cool’ day in Merida. Cool here means that the locals all wear jackets and the snowbirds have a couple of hours after the morning shower where they’re not bathed in sweat. Twenty-six degrees. A good day for a long walk. That was the plan.

After our visit to the Mayan ruins at Xchabel I thought we might as well visit another archeological site just down the road from our golf course. On google maps it looked to be about a 3km walk to Dzibilchaltún. There we could see the ruins and maybe go for a swim in the ‘cenote’ (sink hole). One of my new neighbour friends said the museum at the site was pretty good too — well worth the price of admission. And so we got all ready to hike out there. But just then Pepe, the neighbour, comes walking by. I tell him what our plan is and he immediately offers to take us there in his car. We oblige.

When we get there the ‘parking lot’ is empty. We are told the museum is closed on Mondays. The admission is about $15 CAD. Really? Is it worth it? Oh well, we’re here now. Might as well go in.

We enter the ‘park’ and the first thing we see is a big pyramid to our right and a long ‘step-wall’ across the big rectangular courtyard. And Dave sees colourful birds. He requisitions MaryLou’s ‘real’ Canon camera with the zoom lens and starts sneaking up on the birds. I climb up the big pyramid for a look from on high.

From there we walk through the site. Apparently the Spanish invaders broke down many of the ancient Mayan structures and used the stone to build a big fancy chapel in the middle of the site.

An ornately carved stone gate leads to the sacred pool that is the cenote — used by the ancient Maya for sacrificial offerings. I walk through the gate and there it is: a stunning blue and green pool with crystal-clear water and beautiful lily-pads in the middle. Tiny fish come to nibble on my toes when I did them in the water. There are two people swimming in the pool. MaryLou quickly changes into her swimsuit and joins them.

Next I climb up the big long wall that looks like ‘bleachers’ for the audience to sit on and watch a Mayan soccer game.

I wandered around the complex for a while. There were many smaller ruins and platforms scattered around. Presumably these were the foundations for homes of the lesser citizens of this Mayan ‘village’.

And at the far end of the park, about a kilometre down a white limestone road, is the famous Temple of the Seven Dolls, so named because of seven small effigies found at the site when the temple was discovered in the 1950s. Supposedly on the day of the vernal equinox the morning sun rises and shines through it directly to the pyramid at the other end of the road.

It was around eleven o’clock by the time we were ready to leave. And by then there were quite a few more visitors to the site. I wanted to make a little side trip to the village of Chablekal — maybe have lunch at a cafe there. It was in the opposite direction from home, but only a kilometre or two. We started walking. Luckily for us, a ‘moto taxi’ came along and we took a ride. A moto taxi is like a ‘tuk-tuk’ in Thailand — a motorcycle that’s been converted so that there is a little carriage behind the driver with a bench seat for two or three people.

We were dropped off in the centre of the village. We started looking for a cafe. We asked a few locals for directions. But we found no suitable place for lunch. Little grocery shops, and even a guy frying chicken, but no place to have a taco or tortilla and a beer. So we took another moto-taxi back to our country club.

The back entrance to our country club is quite a long way from our apartment. By now the ‘coolish’ day wasn’t so cool anymore. It was a long hot walk back. It was 12 o’clock and we had certainly earned our cold cerveza!

We hadn’t seen quite enough devastation and destruction for one day so Dave and I decided to golf nine holes and make it a complete disaster. Which we did. Right off the first tee we lost a ball and when we started looking for it the guys at the tee box behind us sent the marshal after us! So now we had to golf under pressure! By the end of nine holes I was out of all the nice new Titleist balls I brought from home. I have one faded orange Volvik and two scarred found TopFlights — I will have to buy a bag of used balls from one of the Mexicans who’s fishing them out of the quicksand in the water hazards before my next round.

After golf I had a quick shower and then it was time for supper. We Ubered to the Altabrisa neighbourhood and got dropped off at the big Plaza mall. It turned out to be the WRONG place — not the place Dave had in mind when we set off. But there were a bunch of chain restaurants and we were hungry. We got a table in a ‘Mexican’ restaurant — where a lovely young waitress who didn’t know a word of English smiled and nodded at us as we asked about each of the items pictured in the menu. I wasn’t sure what I ordered but I ate it all and it wasn’t half bad. After supper we walked to the end of the mall where there was a big supermarket. We needed a pot so Dave can make his morning porridge. Found one. Bought it. Ubered back to our place. Picked up another bag of ice at the mini-super at the front gate and walked back to our apartment in the cool of the evening by the light of a full moon.

My turn to pick the movie tonight. But here we sit, each of us busy on our own device. So many photos of ruins to look through. (If you think there are too many in today’s blog post, be thankful that I did not include all my blurry flower pictures or any of Dave’s 230 blurry bird pictures!) It was still early but evidently the activities of the day had taken their toll on each of us. Dave was snoring quietly on the couch. MaryLou’s MacBook was in danger of sliding off her lap onto the floor. I gave up and surrendered to the inevitable. I would write my journal entry tomorrow. Which I did.

It’s getting warm!

And the LORD appeared unto them in the plains of La Ceiba: and they played golf in the heat of the day Genesis 18:1

After breakfast we decided to go golfing. MaryLou was going to join us for nine holes — her first time out on the course. The morning temperature was perfect. But by the time we passed a group of VERY SLOW old-timers on hole number 5 it was really starting to warm up. MaryLou quit after nine holes but Dave and I carried on.

We made good time around the back nine. As we’d arranged before MaryLou went home, we would call her when we got to the eighteen tee — so she could come join us for lunch at the clubhouse. By the time we called her we were VERY hot, VERY hungry, and VERY thirsty. And when we finished the hole and wheeled our pull carts back to the storage room MaryLou was sitting at a table on the outdoor patio, and the cold beers were being delivered. Perfect.

We were joined for lunch by our old friends from Ontario, Michel and his wife Angela. When they heard that Dave and MaryLou wanted to go grocery shopping after lunch, they offered to take them to the grocery store, since they were planning on going there after lunch, too. So while the others shopped, I went back to the house.

The Driedgers returned, carrying in bags of groceries. The Ontario couple had even given them a ride back home. We had happy hour and sat around for a while. Then MaryLou got busy in the little kitchen, cutting up veggies and making spaghetti and meat sauce for our supper. Considering that we really don’t have much in the way of pots and pans, she managed to make a terrific meal for the three of us.

After the dishes were washed and put away we sat down for our evening movie. My turn to choose. We watched “Beautiful Boy”, a sad but true story about a father and his addict son. During the movie we realized we had missed texts and phone calls from Ken and Kaaren, who had arrived in Merida at around 6pm. Well, we connected with them and discussed plans for tomorrow.

By 11:00pm it was game over. To bed. The heat had taken a lot out of us and the forecast for tomorrow is even hotter! Yikes!

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!


blurry-couple
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.

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!

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.

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!

“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.

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.

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…

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…