Merida 2019

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

Going home

He stretches out the north over the void and hangs the earth on nothing. Job 26:7

I woke up early. About 5 o’clock. I’m in a very comfortable king-size bed in an airport hotel in Cancun. I just lay there, thinking about the last couple of months. It’s been a very good winter. The only thing wrong is that it’s STILL WINTER!

At eight o’clock I went down to the restaurant. Dave and MaryLou were already seated at a table, drinking orange juice and coffee. I ordered breakfast. And just like that, the Driedgers were off — catching the 9 o’clock shuttle to the airport. We said goodbye and I went up to my room.

I had 3 or 4 hours to kill. I went for a little walk. I read the news on my computer. A second 737 Boeing has crashed. Nope, I’m scheduled to fly home on an Airbus. I got a text from Dave: all was good. They’d cruised through check-in and customs and were about to board their flight — on time. Bon Voyage!

I still wasn’t so sure that my flight would be on time, and I really didn’t relish the idea of standing in a long line at the check-in dragging my overloaded heavy golf bag around. I caught the one o’clock shuttle — and road to the airport with the same Avianca airline crew. When I got there I was surprised that there really was no line-up at the check-in. I WAS surprised when the agent told me that without that little customs paper I had filled out on the flight in. I didn’t recall getting it back when I arrived here on January 1. What now? The agent directed me to the ‘immigration’ booth where they would make me a new paper. For a fee. In Mexican pesos only. Oh oh. Here I thought I was so smart, getting rid of all my pesos, and only $30 US dollars in my wallet. I argued my case for a while, but that only stood to make me late for my flight. I left by big bag leaning against the wall and hurried off to find an ATM. I ended up getting $30 US worth of pesos from a porter who was only too happy to make the deal. Back to immigration. The girl at the desk is in no hurry to help me now. She takes her time leafing through a pile of papers, counting to herself. Finally I get my important paper, fill in all the proper blanks, get the girl to stamp it, and I head back to the check-in counter.

I was a bit worried that my golf bag would be over the weight limit, but the agent just tagged it and sent me to the oversized bag drop. Then through customs and into the boarding lounge.

I didn’t have to wait very long. I watched the Transat jet pull up to the terminal. The bags came off, then our bags went on. Then I joined a bunch of Winnipegers, and even a few Steinbachers, in the queue to get on the plane. I don’t really ‘get’ why people board a non-stop flight from paradise to the frozen north wearing shorts and flip-flops — I sure hope whoever is there to greet them at the other end is duly impressed and has proper clothing and footwear for them for the ride home.

Our flight left early. And it landed early. Cool! I waited patiently for my golf bag to appear at the over-sized baggage door. When it finally showed up it had clearly been opened. It was all twisted and lopsided and didn’t roll properly. Oh well, what could I do about it now. (I’m quite sure it was a customs inspection — my neatly folded golf shirts were now bunched up and the golf bag zippers were all open, but I don’t think anything was missing.)

max-with-welcome-signI was pulling my bag through the door and looking down at my phone, texting Alex that I was through customs and she should drive the car up to the… and when I looked up, there were Tim and Alex and Max, waiting to meet me! Max was holding a huge pink sign: Welcome Home, Opa! — little balloons taped all over it and a drawing of Opa and a golf club and ball. Max was almost as excited to see me as I was him! Marvellous!

We made a pit-stop at the drive-thru at McDonald’s on the way home — I hadn’t eaten since breakfast (my lunch money went instead for that little Mexican customs paper!). And then I was home! On the counter was some coffee, bread, cheese, sandwich meat, and cookies, courtesy of Alex. And several neatly stacked piles of mail and flyers.

So that’s it for another online trip journal! It’s usually fun to do this, but I’m also happy to be able to NOT do this for a while. So, unless the snow and cold last longer than I can, I’ll leave you to read something more interesting for a while. And maybe I’ll see you on the golf course real soon. Here’s hoping!

Merida to Cancun

But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Romans 8:25

It’s “moving” day. Today we take a four-and-a-half hour bus ride from Merida to Cancun. When I got downstairs this morning MaryLou was sitting on the couch with her computer, surrounded by luggage. Two huge golf travel bags took up prime space in the middle of the floor. I made one last pot of drip coffee and ate a bit of yogurt. I took out the garbage. The three of us sat around for a while, waiting. Was it too early to book our Ubers? According to Dave’s googling, there was a breakfast place near the bus station at Altavista. We could get our rides to the bus station, and then one of us could watch the bags while the others went for breakfast. With all our big heavy bags we would need two taxis, maybe even three. At around 8 o’clock Dave and I each ordered an Uber.

We’ve almost always booked our taxi to pick us up at the front gate, so we need to walk for about a kilometre to meet our driver. We do that because often the price is a bit cheaper, but mostly because it is a hassle for Uber drivers to get through the high security at our front gate, and then it can be a bit tricky to find our apartment. The route that google maps suggests inside our country club is a long way around even though there is a shorter more direct route. And our house is at a corner with a hard-to-find house number. So it’s faster for us to just walk to the gate. But this morning, with all our luggage, that was not an option.

“My” Uber car arrived first. I loaded my clubs into the back seat and put the Driedgers big suitcase in the trunk. And off we were. I was at the bus station by 8:30, an hour before our departure time. I waited for the Driedgers to join me. And waited. They were supposed to be right behind me. Nine o’clock. Still waiting. Finally, at 9:10, they pulled up on the parking lot. After circling around in the country club for 10 minutes, not able to find our apartment, their first Uber had abruptly cancelled and left. When the second Uber showed up and started doing the same thing, Dave started running around, trying to chase the car down, which he finally managed to do. Of course the golf bag didn’t fit in the small car’s trunk, so Dave had to sit in the back seat with that big bag over his lap for the ride to the bus station. By the time they arrived they were visibly frazzled. What an exercise in frustration! And now there was no time for a nice morning coffee. Dave ran across the street to the Oxxo convenience store and came back with a couple of Kitkats and a small package with four mini-donuts. So much for our breakfast.

The bus ride was uneventful. Long. Air-conditioned. Loud Spanish movies playing on the TV. The nice elderly Spanish lady sitting beside me kept ‘helping’ me fill in the sudoku puzzles I was working on.

At 2:30 we arrived at the bus station in downtown Cancun. We picked up our bags and dragged them into the main hall. I soon found the booth where I could buy bus tickets to the Cancun airport. It was leaving in 10 minutes. Great. Not a long wait — certainly not long enough for me to get in line at the little Subway booth and order a “Milanesa de Pollo” sub sandwich! No breakfast, no lunch!

The bus down to the airport was a half-hour ride. On the way there I called the Courtyard hotel where Dave had booked a couple of rooms for us for tonight and asked where at the airport we might find the free hotel shuttle. Terminal 3, gate 26, I was told. I asked how often the bus comes around and was told the wait would be between 5 and 30 minutes. Great! I was hoping for five!

Our bus stopped at Terminal 4 first. Then Terminal 2. Finally, with only the Driedgers and me still on the bus, we got to Terminal 3. We got our bags and hurried to gate 26. Was the big white shuttle bus parked in stall 26 ours? There were rows and rows of shuttle buses and taxis and lots of tourists mulling around on the big parking lot. I checked with one of the porters. Nope, not this bus. But soon — 10 or 15 minutes.

When our shuttle still hadn’t arrived after 20 minutes, we asked again. Yes, it is coming — 10 minutes. That continued for more than an hour. At one point Dave called the hotel, just to confirm that the bus was coming. Yes, it will be there in 10 minutes.

Eventually our shuttle DID come. We piled our massive bags on top of the small black leather luggage neatly stacked in the back of the van and joined a nattily dressed flight crew for the short ride to the Courtyard hotel. Check-in was quick and painless. We hauled our gear up to our rooms and half-an-hour later we were sitting at a table on the restaurant patio, next to the outdoor pool, ordering our breakfast/lunch/supper. The air was lovely — not as hot as Merida, with an ocean breeze under a cloudy sky. Our dinners were lovely too, albeit quite a bit more expensive than what we’ve become accustomed to in Merida. Well, this IS an airport hotel in a resort town. And we’ve had a long day. Worth it.

After dinner the Driedgers enjoyed some time in the outdoor hot tub. I went up to my room and flicked through the channels on the TV. Dave came by for a beer at around 8:30 but didn’t stay long — he was tired and it was time for bed. We’ll meet for breakfast tomorrow morning. The Driedgers’ flight is scheduled to leave before noon; mine four hours later. Well, that’s what we are HOPING will happen. When travelling, it’s better to be flexible and exercise patience!

Goodbye to Merida

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 Timothy 3:1

Sunday. Our last day here in Merida. Our last day in the La Ceiba Country Club. Our last day to golf before Spring arrives in Manitoba. Our last.

Sometimes good movies don’t have a happy ending. So it is with our golf story here. Just because there were more bad shots on the last day than on the first (or maybe on ANY other day!) doesn’t mean it was as a bad move here.

We woke up, had coffee, and got our golf shoes on. Dave really wanted to get out on the links early this morning. We had a quick bite to eat, got our frozen water bottles out of the freezer, and hurried out to the golf course. Oh no! A big group of guys and their caddies were lined up at the first tee. Our friendly starter saw the look on our faces and suggested we go to the tenth tee and play the back nine first. Good deal.

I had quite a few balls in my golf bag — not all of them very good balls, but more than I would lose today. So today I didn’t spend a lot of time looking for balls that rolled off the fairway. Still, to have my first THREE shots go into the bush was a bit excessive. Not a very good start to our final game of the winter.

I’d like to say that things got better after that, but that’s not entirely true. I followed that up with some good shots, but even more bad shots.

When we got back to the first tee it looked to be all clear ahead. But we caught up to a FIVESOME on the second hole, and the marshall sitting at between hole 2 and 3 encouraged us to play number three, then stop for breakfast and come back and finish later. We saw all the carts lined up on the next couple of holes and followed his advice.

Back at the house we cooled off a bit. The very high humidity out there this morning was actually more uncomfortable than the hot sun at midday. We watched a bit of Face the Nation on TV. We waited until we were nicely cooled (and dried) off. Then Dave went out to look at what holes four and five looked like. All clear. Let’s get out there.

Most of my drives were quite a bit better after the break, so that was somewhat encouraging. When we got to the ninth hole Dave sent MaryLou a text to come and join us at the clubhouse for lunch.

Lots of golfers sitting around the tables inside the restaurant. We too opted for an inside table today — it was pretty hot out there. I ordered my last order of ceviche from the clubhouse restaurant. I’ll miss our clubhouse lunches.

We took our golf bags home and dropped off our pull-carts at the caddy shack. I showered and through in one last load of laundry. I had just put that load into the dryer when Dave announced that they were out the door, getting an Uber to go see a movie. I hurried down to join them.

We went to the City Centre Mall, not too far from our place. Movie tickets are about four dollars, and the medium coke to go with the ticket was another four. Good deals, but hardly worth it today. The movie Dave had selected, “Cold Pursuit”, a Liam Neesom film that proved all the Liam Neesom stereotypes true, was terrible. But the seats were great, the theatre was air conditioned, and the coke was refreshing.

After the movie we went back to the Querreke restaurant, right there in the mall, for our last Merida supper. Curried chicken pasta for me, and a pizza for the Driedgers. Delicious.

When we got home from the movie I took my laundry out of the dryer and started folding and packing it into my golf bag. I will come home with my backpack and the golf bag. That means my golf bag is dangerously close to being over the weight limit. We’ll see how that goes over at the airport on Tuesday. I also had to write a review for Airbnb in regards to our apartment and our experience here — and I sent a goodbye text message to Mario, our host, and another to Pepe, our friendly neighbour.

MaryLou was also packing, but we all interrupted our preparations to sit down and watch another episode of the second season of Mrs Maisel. Great.

I stayed downstairs for an hour and a half after the Driedgers went up to bed. I wanted to finish up the partial bottle of red wine and maybe watch a rerun of Fareed on CNN. I finally shut everything down and went upstairs to write my journal and then call it a night. Got to get up early tomorrow to get a cab to the bus station for our 9:30 bus ride to Cancun. I’ll see you tomorrow.

Keeping (my) cool

A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back. Proverbs 29:11

Saturday morning. Bacon and eggs? Well, not at our house this morning. We’re winding down. Trying to empty our fridge. We’ll go out.

Dave and MaryLou wanted to see if they could get massages one last time here in Mexico. Dave found a place in the Las Americas suburb that looked like it might be a possibility. He tried calling but only got an answering service. We decided to take an Uber and check out the place — and find a breakfast place nearby while we’re at it.

Well, the massages wouldn’t happen in Las Americas. But breakfast would. We enjoyed a pretty nice brunch in at the Green Cafe, including ‘divorced’ eggs, a vegetarian omelet, and waffles with fruit and whipped cream.

The Driedgers were considering taking a cab back up to Progreso where massages on the beach are easily available any time. But MaryLou had a business card from the place in downtown Merida where she’d been with her sister Kaaren a few weeks ago. She gave them a call. Yes, they were open. Yes, of course they spoke English. Yes, they would recruit a second masseuse so that both she and Dave could get a massage at the same time. MaryLou made the  appointment for 5:30 tonight. That would work out great. We would drive into town and go out for supper after the massages.

We took an Uber back to our house. It was another hot day. Dave suggested we go for a quick nine holes. Sure. We took our frozen water bottles out of the freezer and walked our pull-carts over to the first tee.

My game hasn’t changed much in the last couple of months. I seem to alternate between playing one or two holes well, and then getting myself into trouble and blowing up on the scorecard. Dave, however, has played some great golf, especially early on. Unfortunately, in the last couple of weeks, too often his scores have been closer to a hundred than to 80. This afternoon was an exception. Dave was playing a great game! Then on hole eight a series of less than stellar shots spoiled what might have been. Dave was NOT happy. Another errant tee shot on the ninth, which has given Dave more than his share of aggravation, made for a very disappointing finish. We pulled our carts back to the house. Golfing is hard work.

Back at house we had G&Ts and licked our wounds. Soon it was time to get ready to go into town for those 5:30 massages. We walked to the front gate and waited for our Uber. The cab ride into Merida took about half an hour.

Once there, I went for a walk while the Driedgers got rubbed. I checked out the central square where they were setting up for another Mayan ball game for later in the evening. I sat and watched locals and tourists enjoying the evening air in the Grand Plaza. Then I wandered down to the Santa Lucia plaza and found a little table where I nursed a cold Dos Equis and watched hip-hop dancers practicing their routine on the big stage.

After their hour at the massage place was up, the Driedgers made their way to the Mercado-60 food court. I sent a text message to our friend Mario, asking if he was working there tonight, and if so, perhaps we could meet with him. No response. We walked around in the inner courtyard, looking to see if maybe he was around. Nope, not tonight.

The Mercado-60 has about 10 or 12 different food booths surrounding a bunch of picnic tables in the middle. I ordered a wood-fired pizza; the Driedgers joined me at my table with some burritos. We sat for a while and watched mostly young back-packers all around us. It appears that the Mercado-60 is a busy meeting place for young people. And that was our supper. Time to say goodbye to Merida and head home to our apartment.

Our Uber picked us up outside the Mercado. As usual, we walked from the front gate back to our house via the cart path under a starry sky. The air was still warm, maybe 24 degrees. When we got back to the house we headed to the fridge and had some of that ‘home-made’ chocolate from last night for dessert. Not bad! A little ‘grainy’, but not bad.

Dave got comfortable in his spot on the couch and started up the TV. Maybe we should watch that “Bumblebee” movie. Hmmm… Why are all the opening credits in Chinese? Lots of sound and fury blared out of the TV speaker as the CGI robots chased each other around and blew stuff up in Chinese. He watched for a few minutes and then went back to the main menu. What else have we not seen?

I went upstairs, opened up my patio door and turned on the A/C for a while to cool down the room. It was too early to go to bed. I turned on my Netflix and started watching the Icelandic movie the Driedgers had recommended. I was too tired to write my journal. After half an hour I turned off the TV and the A/C and went to sleep.

Tee to Green, Bean to Bar

How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than [chocolate] to my mouth! Psalm 119:103

After breakfast the three of us made our way to the La Ceiba Golf Course. I went to get the pull carts while Dave registered us with the starter. By now we know the routine. And as tricky as that first dogleg right used to be when we first arrived a couple of months ago, somehow we now manage to play on the fairway without any trouble at all. Now if only I could say the same about my putting…

Once again we got stalled behind some VERY slow golfers on the fifth hole. It might have been that we ‘sort of’ hit up on them after watching them fart around on the green for about 10 minutes, but when we pulled our carts up to the tee on the sixth, the ladies graciously waved us through! And it was clear sailing after that.

MaryLou left us after the first nine. Dave and I continued. Once again, a couple of women in the carts ahead of us seemed to be more interested in visiting than in playing golf. And again, after watching and waiting and watching and waiting, we managed to scare them off the green and they let us pass.

After the round I took a walk to the mini-super to pick up some fresh bread for our sandwiches. I showered and then lazed around for the afternoon. Dave was doing a crossword and watching the Jack Ryan series on Amazon Prime. I watched a bit too, although I may have napped more than watched. In fact, with all that ‘doing nothing’, we almost missed happy hour! We had to more-or-less guzzle our caesars and run to the front gate to catch our Uber so we wouldn’t be late for our six o’clock booking at the Fela Chocolate Shop.

MaryLou had booked a visit to a local chocolatier to learn about the history and traditions of chocolate in Mexico. This wasn’t really a ‘tour’ — it was an ‘experience’. We would learn by DOING.

We were welcomed into the little shop by Beatrice, a ‘grandmother’ who explained that she and her husband were the third generation of chocolatiers in the Fela family. She introduced us to her husband, and to her soon-to-be daughter-in-law, who served us small sugar-coated cocoa beans while we waited for the translator to arrive. Although she was expecting one more participant, our ‘lesson’ began promptly at six o’clock when Beatrice and the translator took us to a small upstairs room where place settings had been set up for us. Beatrice used posters on the wall and a book with photos to ‘teach’ us about the cocoa plant and the production of chocolate. She would point and explain, then wait for the translator to repeat what she’d said in English. About 15 minutes into the talk, Chris, a young man from Cincinnati joined us. By now we were all taking turns DOING stuff.

First we stirred the chocolate beans as Beatrice roasted them in a pan. Soon the room was filled with the sweet aroma of chocolate. Then we each got a handful of roasted beans and began peeling them. The lovely daughter-in-law brought us some delicious cocoa tea and a chocolate croissant to fortify us for the work ahead.

Then we took turns crushing the beans with an ancient ‘rolling pin’, resulting in a kind of chocolate paste. We made that paste even finer with a mortar and pestle.

Then added flavours to the bitter dark chocolate mixture: unrefined sugar, cinnamon, almonds, chiles, and more. We kneaded the chocolate ‘dough’ with our hands, mixing in the extra ingredients, stopping to sample the mixture and adding more sugar according to our tastes. Then we used a metal ring to shape the dough into three or four round ‘cookies’. We wrapped each cookie in a small square of wax paper. The cookies were soft and shining with cocoa oil, but Beatrice explained that in about an hour the chocolate would become hard just like a chocolate bar.

And that was the ‘tour’! We took our little bags of roasted beans and chocolate ‘cookies’ downstairs. While we waited for our Uber to come pick us up, the Fela family and their translator visited with us. MaryLou bought some nicely wrapped chocolates from the display. We all posed with Beatrice for a ‘family photo’ and got a big hug from her as we said good-bye. We had had a most interesting evening. I was so glad MaryLou had arranged and booked this for us. It was a lovely intimate ‘authentic’ experience.

The Bella Roma restaurant was not far from the Fela house, although our Uber driver had a bit of trouble finding it. We’d been to this restaurant with Ken and Kaaren a number of weeks ago and although they didn’t serve pizza, we decided to make a return visit. We sat outside on the large patio and enjoyed the warm night air under the stars. The owner of the restaurant introduced himself and explained the menu options to us. Dinner was good; pasta and shrimp for me, lasagna for the Driedgers. We opted for a little shot of liqueur instead of tiramisu for dessert. Then we Ubered home.

And that’s what we did this Friday.

 

A return visit to the city centre

Let beer be for those who are perishing, wine for those who are in anguish! Proverbs 31:6

Dave and I went golfing this morning. Got some pars. And some eights. I guess that’s just how it’s going to be.

After our morning round, as I was taking my clubs back to the caddy shack, I stopped to have a chat with an elderly couple from Montreal who were eating their lunch at the pool. They are originally from Switzerland, and have rented the same apartment here for the last ten years. Right now they were enjoying a visit with their children and grandchildren — there were 4 or 5 little kiddies jumping in and out of the pool and playing on the play structure nearby. It is a pleasure to meet older folks who are happy and enjoying life.

I had sent MaryLou a text and she joined us at the clubhouse for lunch. She went to the gym after lunch and Dave and I went home. I had a little snooze upstairs until I was disturbed by our neighbour guy who comes once a week to mop our floors. So I sat on the balcony and worked on a crossword until he was done.

At six o’clock we took an Uber into the city centre. I don’t think I’d been there since Ken and Kaaren left. We went to the Le Pigua seafood restaurant, our third visit there, and shared three seafood dishes. Then we walked south along Calle 60 for about 2 kilometres, back to the little corner pub near Ken and Kaaren’s apartment. Along the way we (finally) stopped in at Mercado 60, a little “food court” tucked in beside the road. It’s the place where our Airbnb host, Mario, has a few restaurants. We walked in, took a look around, thinking that maybe we’d find Mario there. We didn’t, but we were surprised at how nice the place was — lots of food booths, lots of customers, a ‘happening’ place. We just might have to make a return visit and have dinner there before we leave for Cancun on Monday. We continued our walk.

It was Jazz night at the Cantina El Dzalbay. We pushed open the saloon doors and went inside. The room was crowded and hot. A 3-piece combo was playing as we made our way up to the rooftop to enjoy the cooler night air up there. Of course the band finished their set a few minutes after we’d sat down and ordered our drinks. Luckily Dave and I had each ordered a LARGE beer which would last us until the break was over and the band started up again.

Soon it was time for us to go home. MaryLou ordered an Uber and we had a long quiet ride home. The car dropped us off at the mini-super and we took a shortcut home, walking along a cart path on the golf course, listening to the neighbourhood dogs barking as we walked in the dark. When we got inside, Dave and I each had a small glass of wine before I went upstairs to watch the ‘At Issue’ panel review the days events in Canadian politics. And then to sleep.

Training for the Triathalon

Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath. 1 Corinthians 9:25

When I got downstairs this morning the Driedgers were already both in the kitchen, cooking up their breakfasts. Two is company, three’s a crowd. Actually, even TWO is a crowd in our kitchen.

MaryLou, who has decided to join the boys at the golf course for the first nine holes on alternate days, was the first one ready to go this morning. She was sitting on the couch in her golfing outfit, waiting for Dave and me to get the show on the road.

BUT IT IS RAINING! Yeah, that’s right. Raining. Today is the first day since late January where the forecasted high is UNDER 30. Twenty-nine. And rain. ‘Tis an opportunity not to be missed. The road outside our windows was a little damp from some early morning precipitation. No rain as I ran ahead and registered the three of us, but as we lined up at the first tee the starter pointed at the sky and said something about lluvia. There were rain clouds up there.

By the time we finished the third hole there was a fine mist coming down pretty good. We were wet. I finally unfurled that cheap plastic poncho that I got at the Bethesda Tournament last summer, but by the time I figured out which end was up and where the arm holes were, I was sopping wet. So were the Driedgers. But we pressed on. And the rain stopped. And started. And stopped.

After we putted out on the ninth hole Dave handed MaryLou the little golf bag that he’d been portering for her and she headed home. Dave and I soldiered on. And we were not the only ‘crazy’ golfers out there. A woman and her caddy stayed right on our tail ever since we snuck by them in that downpour on the fourth tee. And a man with a pull-cart did his best to stay ahead of us.

When we finished the round we rolled our pull-carts back to the house so we could disassemble our gear and let it dry out in our carport. I put in a load of (wet) laundry. I phoned the mini-super and had another big jug of water delivered to us. We made sandwiches for lunch.

After lunch Dave and I sat around downstairs and rested from our morning exercise. More crosswords. More looking at our computers. Waiting for happy hour. When the appropriate time arrived, Dave started up our Rocket-TV. The internet was a bit flaky (what else is new?) so there were quite a few stops and starts, but we plodded our way through the movie “Mary, Queen of Scots”. Then it was time for supper.

A little after six we got ready to go into town. We took an Uber to the AltaBrisa mall. Dinner at P.F.Changs. Then off to the bowling alley for our second sporting event of the day.

I rolled my first ball right down the middle, knocking down all ten pins. Great start. Unfortunately my success was short-lived. Although there were times when the pins ‘shuddered’ a bit as my ball came rumbling down the gutter, clearly I was no match for either of the Driedgers. The practice they’d had when they visited these lanes a few weeks ago really paid off for them tonight!

In front of the bowling lanes were a few well-worn pool tables. Before leaving, Dave and I played a few games while MaryLou took a walk around the mall. We played for about an hour, the minimum amount of time we could ‘rent’ a table, which gave us sufficient time to figure out the ‘slope’ of the table! Today pool was likely my strongest sport. Perhaps, after I’ve had a little taste of the Manitoba winter, I should take a drive down to Steamboat Springs, just west of Denver, and sign up for the annual triathlon there.

Well, after all that physical exercise, it was time for a treat! Fortunately there was a Dairy Queen kiosk just outside the pool hall. Chocolate dips and a waffle cone. Maybe the highlight of the day!

We Ubered home. Dave tried to entice MaryLou to join him on the couch for another episode of Mrs Maisel but she was too tired and went to bed. I tried valiantly to keep Dave company, but that didn’t last too long either. I went upstairs and tuned in the CBC National so the ‘At Issue’ panel could bring me up-to-date on all the shenanigans going on in the Trudeau government. Ah, the universe is unfolding as it should.

Walk the talk

Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left. Proverbs 4:26

When I went downstairs this morning there was no one down there. What’s up? Okay, no internet, so MaryLou has gone to the clubhouse with her computer. But where was Dave? There was a bit of coffee still in the pot, so I helped myself to that.

Dave came down the stairs. He was heading to the clubhouse, joining MaryLou for breakfast there. I decided to take a walk in the opposite direction, out to the front gate and down the highway to the Carl’s Junior about a kilometre down the road. While I sat there with my “breakfast burrito” and coffee I logged onto their wifi and sent out a few emails. On my walk back I stopped at the mini-super and picked up some essentials (bread and coke).

Back at the house MaryLou was getting ready to go into town on a shopping trip. Dave and I sat around doing crossword puzzles. Still no internet at the house, so I fired off a message to Mario, our landlord. Sure enough, it wasn’t long before he replied. Yes, he would look after it. Time to pay the monthly internet bill, I guess. We had the same issue at the beginning of last month.

Just before two o’clock the 3rd red light on our modem started blinking. The internet was back on. Mario was already texting us, confirming the same. Dave and I were just on our way out the door, going for an afternoon round at the golf course.

The course had been very busy all morning, but at this time of day it was all ours. It wasn’t too hot, although it seemed humid to me. By now we know how to deal with this — we each have a frozen water bottle which becomes cold water as we walk around the course. Usually we can count on the beer cart somewhere on the back nine by which time our water is gone.


Dave was still fighting with his swing, alternating between long straight drives and losing an occasional ball in the bush on either side of the fairway. And I was still three-putting every hole.

It has been a unique and special time for Dave and me on this trip, one that I don’t take for granted. We’ve been out here for three or four hours almost every day, walking and talking and golfing. I golfed a lot at home last summer, often three days in a row, but nothing quite like this. Every day, the same course, the same golf partner, the same schtick. We don’t have to spend a lot of time wondering or discussing what we’re going to do today. We know. Simple. We’ll go golfing. Of course MaryLou has paid the price for that, which is no small thing. Sure, she’s kept herself busy with her computer, researching and writing. But I know she’s very much looking forward to next week, when she can have her Dave back, when she can get back into the routine of her busy life at home, when she doesn’t have me fussing and putzing around, getting in her way, and doesn’t have to listen to my smart-ass comments.


Me and Fernando, one of the many friendly staff at our golf course who know us by name and always greet us with a “Buenos Dias” and a smile.

After our round we went home, showered, had happy hour. Gin and tonics today because we’re out of hot sauce for our caesars. At around 6:30 we headed back to the clubhouse. We’ve actually never had supper there; I think we tried once, only to find that their kitchen was closed. Not so today. All three of us ordered pasta with shrimp, each with a different sauce. All good. Worth the walk.

Back at the house I tried to find the Jets game on our TV. No luck. Dave watched it on the iPad. MaryLou was exhausted from her shopping trip and went up to bed. I clicked around on the TV for a while, but I too was tired. Lots of walking today. I went upstairs and tried writing my journal. Nope. Internet was way too slow and I was running out of steam. I queued up another Bruce Cockburn album on my phone, put in my earbuds, and soon fell asleep.

Twice around the back nine

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the [holi]days are [soon coming to an end]. Ephesians 5:15-16

But all things should be done decently and in order. 1 Corinthians 14:40

So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. James 4:17

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love [to play] good [golf]. Hebrews 10:24

Whoever is slothful will not [improve] his game, but the diligent man will get [better scores]. Proverbs 12:27

Rudy on the green

This morning at breakfast MaryLou asked Dave what time we were going golfing. When Dave hemmed and hawed on that for a while, MaryLou, who had to decide if she was golfing with us or going to the gym, pronounced 9:30 as today’s tee time. Oh boy. That didn’t give Dave much more than an hour to finish moving his coloured tiles around on his iPad. But he agreed and so MaryLou went upstairs to get ready.

I went to register the three of us at the course office and gave the ‘ticket’ to the starter. He told me we’d be playing the back nine today, since the front nine was undergoing the regular weekly maintenance. Fine. I rolled my pull cart under the shade of a big tree next to the cart path and waited for the Driedgers to show up so I could direct them to the number 10 tee. MaryLou soon joined me in the shade and together we waited for our fearless leader to make his arrival. We were just about to head back to the house to check on him when he showed up. All set?

The back nine at our course plays a bit tougher than the front for me. It is a hundred yards longer, and there are a couple of holes that have given us more trouble than any on the front nine. So when MaryLou left us after the first time around, Dave and I went right back to the tenth tee for another go at it. After all, after this week it may well be a LONG time before we get a chance to golf again.

Dave has been tinkering with his swing a bit the last few days. That means that sometimes his shots have been as long and as straight as I’ve seen. But working on that ‘adjustment’ means an occasional shot goes awry. Dave is not happy when that happens. And it happened a few times again this morning. But Dave is a “diligent man” who works at his craft, and even when he’s not at his best, somehow his score consistently betters mine. Still, I was not unhappy with my game today. Even with a very unfortunate TEN on my last hole, I finished eighteen holes with another sub-100 score. It is fun to play “good golf”.

It was one o’clock when we finished. I sent MaryLou a text and she joined us on the clubhouse patio for lunch. I’m going to miss that patio, too. After lunch and a shower, we were back in our places with bright shiny faces. MaryLou was busy working on her computer upstairs. Dave had an afternoon nap on the couch. I listened to tunes on my headphones and started another crossword.

At 4:30 it was time for caesars. Dave called MaryLou down from her upstairs office and she joined us for happy hour. Then we watched one of the movies Dave has saved in his list of Favoritos on our Rocket TV. Today’s selection was Julia Roberts in “Ben is Back”, another unsettling movie about parents and their drug-addicted kids.

After the movie Dave got busy in the kitchen. Tonight’s menu would feature “Dave’s Special (boiled and then fried) Hotdogs” and a side dish of pork and beans.

After dinner MaryLou headed upstairs to do laundry and Dave won more ‘virtual money’ by moving those tiles around on his iPad while I did the dishes. (I am definitely NOT looking forward to the snow and cold that awaits me at home, but I will be very happy to not have to see tiny parades of ants marching around the sink and up the wall!)

It was around 8 o’clock by the time the dishes had been “done decently and in order” and were put away. I sat down to look at my photos from the golf course and to write today’s “devotional”. Dave was into another TV series. (MaryLou must have gotten sidetracked on her computer upstairs.) I poured myself a glass of wine and visited with Dave for a bit before going upstairs to watch the CBC National in my bedroom and calling it a night.

Second last Sunday in La Ceiba

An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. 2 Timothy 2:5

The countdown is on. It’s our second last Sunday morning here. I was downstairs and had my first cup of coffee in time for the 8:00am start of CBS Sunday Morning. I watched all of that and then the political news show, Face the Nation, after that.

I’d brought a book of 50 New York Times Sunday crosswords along on this trip, and for the first two months here we had hardly touched it. Today Dave and I made up for that, spending a few hours on crosswords, only taking a break for lunch (leftover pizza).

We finally put our puzzles aside at around 2pm and decided to go out and shoot some golf. It was calm and HOT today, so we took extra water along and decided we would play it by ear. Maybe nine holes, maybe only three. But once we got out there it was WAY more manageable than we’d expected. Yes, it was hot, but it was a DRY heat! And there was NO ONE out there besides us. So we played nine holes. And then we played the other nine.

It seems a bit unfortunate that Dave and I can’t both have a great game on the same day. Why is it that whenever I’m playing crappy Dave breaks 90? And the few times that I’ve shot under a hundred Dave has had bad luck. That’s how it was today when I shot a 97.

iguana on green number 7
We used to get all excited about these miniature stegosauruses on the course — now they are as common as gophers are on the Apache Creek course in Phoenix!

After we got back to the house we sat down and cooled off a bit. Dave made caesars and watched a bit of the Raptors’ game on TV.

After I’d showered we went out for supper. Today we went to the big new Harbor Mall, not too far from our place. We ended up sitting outside on the patio overlooking the pond and fountains. Dave kept us up-to-date on the Jets score, and I guess they and we were both winners tonight.

When we got home Dave found the second season of “Mrs Maisel” on Amazon on our TV. So we watched the first episode of that — and MaryLou and I only slept through a wee part of it. Shortly after ten I was up in my room, typing away on my computer, trying to quickly write my journal entry before the sandman got the better of me again.