Merida 2019

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

A Day Off

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Internet regained and golf balls lost

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

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

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

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

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

Fishing for balls near the 17th green.

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

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

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

Sights and sounds of a Saturday in Merida

Against whom do ye sport yourselves? against whom make ye a wide mouth, and draw out the tongue? Isaiah 57:4

When I got up this morning it was foggy outside. Birds were chirping and singing as they played in the trees and bushes outside my patio. Hummingbirds were zipping from flower to flower in the bushes across the road from me. According to my grade six teacher, fog in the morning meant it would be warm in the afternoon. Hot and humid is what it turned out to be.

We were going to go to the little deli cafe at the end of our driveway for breakfast this morning. We had just started walking when our neighbour Pepe came by. He offered to give us a lift. When we told him our plans he poo-pooed the idea and told us we should rather go to the restaurant at the gym he goes to every day. It was across the road and about a kilometre down the highway.

Breakfast at the gym wasn’t as good as it had been at the Los Benes restaurant we went to last week, but it was okay. When we were done we walked across the highway and started for home. I stopped at the OXXO convenience store and topped up my phone card — $20 and I’m good for another month! Lots of data and unlimited calling and texting in North America.

We stopped at that little deli on our way home, just to confirm that it really wasn’t a good breakfast place. Hmmm… Looked like a nice little French ’boutique’. Quiche, assorted coffees, cheeses … and the woman behind the counter spoke English. Maybe next time.

Back at the house we finally turned on our air conditioner. While MaryLou hid upstairs in her room, Dave and I took turns napping in front of the big TV while Rickie Fowler tried to hang on to his lead in the third round of the Phoenix Open.

At around 4:30 I showered and got ready for the evening. Dave booked an Uber to take us to the Neufelds’ place in Merida where we would have supper. Along the way we asked our driver (a woman, a first for us) to stop at a wine store so we could pick up a bottle to bring to the dinner. She did a U-turn and pulled up in front of a big grocery store. Dave and I ran in and got supplies while MaryLou and our driver showed each other photos of their families on their iPhones.

We got to the Neufelds’ a bit before six o’clock. We joined Dave and Debbie, their guests from Winnipeg who are staying with them for the next week and a half, and soon were seated around the large round table in the patio next to the pool. Kaaren had made pasta and salad and we had a nice visit.

By seven o’clock it was time to make our way to the big plaza in the centre of town. We’d been told that there would be an exhibition of the ancient Mayan ball game, called Pok-A-Tok, and we should be there early to get a good seat. The plaza was a 15-minute walk from the Neufelds’ house. Bleachers had been put up in front of the big church in the square and the roads had been cordoned off. We clambored up the bleachers and sat down. It looked to be an event for tourists; Ken’s Winnipeg Jets t-shirt was recognized and acknowledged by English-speaking spectators around us.

While Merida officials set up barricades which would define the field of play, a mariachi band across the road was serenading a bride and groom and their wedding guests as they made their way out of the cathedral where they had just been married. What a mix of cultures. Christians and heathens sharing the same space. Spanish trumpets and Mayan flutes and drums competing for the attention of the visitors.

Well, not surprisingly, the Pok-A-Tok game did NOT start at 8:00pm. No, here in Mexico one must learn to be patient. Mañana. When the wedding party finally left, and the heavy rubber ‘game ball’ had been passed around in the crowd, the ‘opening ceremonies’ began. A dressed up old man lit a special fire in the middle of the street and held it up to each of the four corners of the world while a lady ‘essplained’ things over the microphone. A row of maracas and another of conch shells lined the street. Finally, after much formality, the players ran into the square. Four were painted up in blue, the other four in red. Dave said it was shirts vs skins, but no shirts here.

A big pole with a hoop thing on top was set up in the centre of the square. Then the player, using only their hips to strike the heavy rubber ball, volleyed the ball back and forth, scoring a point if they got the ball through the hoop at the top of the pole. It is said that in ancient Mayan times the winners (the losers?) literally lost their heads playing this game, as a sacrifice to the gods. Well, we’d already witnessed enough blood and gore at the bullfight — never mind the beginning, middle, and end of each Narcos episode — so thankfully tonight’s game ended with a pyrotechnic display where they lit the ball on fire and then ‘volleyed’ the ball around like they do in volleyball warmups. And that was that!

As the crowd dispersed the surrounding streets were filled with people. Many streets were closed to traffic so it was a bit of a challenge for the Uber driver whom Dave had summoned to find us next to the Burger King. Our driver actually spoke pretty good English, an anomally here. And as we drove the half hour ride back to our place he told us about how he and his sister had been on the cover of Forbes magazine, how the cartel in Mexico City had caused him to lose everything because of his ‘fame’, how he was rebuilding his construction company here in Merida and all he needed was some good investors, and that he was also “a healer”! Yes, he was an instructor in the arts of reiki and reflexology and various other new age treatments. When we got to our little superette we made our escape.

The heat and the excitement of the day left me in no shape to blog before going to bed. The batteries in the remote control for air conditioner in my bedroom were dead so I opened the patio door and turned the ceiling fan up a speed or two and went to sleep.

How super was that?

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds James 1:2

Super Bowl Sunday. The heat is on here. Instead of watching my Sunday morning shows, we’re going golfing! We’d decided to hit the links early in order to try to finish before the heat of the day would be at its peak. Ken got up early and took the 30-minute Uber ride out here, arriving at 7:30. On his way in he saw that the fairways were empty. As he and Dave and I walked to the clubhouse we were looking forward to a quick 18 holes on a beautiful Sunday morning.

When we got to the clubhouse we were surprised to see LOTS of golfers out on the putting green and lining up at the first tee in carts. Families. Parents with young children. Huh? So before we went any further and got our clubs from the storage shed, I went into the pro shop to make sure we’d be able to golf today. No, sorry. It is a tournament. It is closed today. And tomorrow. And the day after tomorrow.

I complained that we hadn’t been informed — that one of our group had gotten up really early and taken a long taxi ride out here. (Ken, who should have been most upset, seemed to be okay with this turn of events!) The big boss apologized to me, showing me the poster on the door that announced the tournament, but only in Spanish. But we could golf after one o’clock on tournament days. In the heat of the day.

We turned back to the house. Ken changed out of his golf shoes and went to the club gym for a workout before heading back home. I decided to take some photos of all the flowering trees on the walk back to the apartment.

In the afternoon we tried to watch the final day of the PGA golf tournament on TV, but our TV was having a bad day and the internet connection was causing the picture to freeze. We would reset the modem, restart the TV, navigate to the right channel, watch about 3 minutes of golf ‘action’ (if there is such a thing), and then it would freeze again. Frustrating.

It was hot enough in the house that we finally closed the windows and started up the air conditioners. The one in my bedroom needs a remote to turn it on and adjust it, and the remote wasn’t working. I ‘borrowed’ the AAA batteries from the downstairs TV remote and that fixed it. When I opened the front panel on it I saw a thick matted layer of dust plugging up the filters. The same thing on the air conditioner in the other bedroom! So we spent a bit of time removing the filters and cleaning them.

MaryLou was doing a load of laundry, and noticed that the dryer wasn’t really drying the clothes. No hot air in the dryer. Dave noticed that we didn’t have hot water either. And when he tried lighting our stove, that didn’t work either! He checked the hot water tank in the car port and noticed that the pilot light was off. Out of propane. I sent Mario (the owner) a text. Thankfully he replied almost right away. Yes, he would have to order more propane for tomorrow, but in the meantime he could switch the connection to the not-quite-empty second propane tank. I also complained about our TV signal, hoping he could do something about that.

When Mario arrived he hooked up a TV antenna to our big TV and showed us that we would be able to watch the Super Bowl in Spanish that way. Yeah, well, not REALLY what we were after. But okay, you’re trying. Then he handed me a crescent wrench and told me to switch the propane tanks — he couldn’t do it because he had a big hangover! And he left. And Dave and I switched the connection, found a lighter upstairs in the bathroom, and lit the pilot light.

Back inside on the couch in front of the TV, I kept trying to get the golf on TV working. Our internet TV system has access to ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox channels from all the major centres in the states. The golf tournament was on NBC, but most of our NBC stations were not working today. I kept trying different cities — and eventually I got one that worked! And THAT is why Dave and I sat there in our nice and cool air-conditioned living room with hot and cold running water and watched what turned out to be a VERY exciting final round of the Phoenix Open! So exciting that we missed the beginning of the Super Bowl!

We were invited to the Neufelds’ for a Super Bowl party so as soon as the tournament on TV was over we high-tailed it out to the front gate to catch an Uber taxi to downtown. Not a lot of traffic today — everyone is inside watching the big game. When we arrived at the Neufelds’ we headed upstairs and joined Ken and Dave Wiebe in front of the TV. In Spanish. The game is the same, but the announcers are Spanish and all the stuff in between is Spanish, too. The Super Bowl ads which usually are more interesting than the game? Nope, not on ESPN Deportes. The six ex-NFLers who “C’mon man!” for a couple of hours before every game and again in between the two halves? Nope, don’t get that either. Thankfully, we were able to see the very exciting halftime show, when what’s-his-name from Maroon 5 orchestrated his own “wardrobe malfunction”! Yeah, it was quite the ‘super’ bowl. In the end, the best quarterback in the history of the NFL finally managed to throw a touchdown pass in the final quarter, to lead the best team in football to a win over the LA Rams. 13-3. Hard to believe, but there was more scoring in that demonstration Mayan ball game we witnessed here last night! Ah, but the pizza was great! (Even though the oven in the Neufelds’ house wasn’t working either! Hope there’s a big sale on propane tomorrow.)

And the company was great, too. We said goodnight and took an Uber back to our place. A quiet walk from the front gate to our house in the still-warm evening. Dave watched an episode of a Vikings series on Netflix. I went upstairs to bed.

Lunch with Renan

The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. Song of Solomon 2:12

I went for a walk this morning. I stopped by the golf course to make sure the tournament was still happening. The putting green was busy with parents and their young children warming up before the official tee off. The day was warming up too. By the time I had walked a little loop in our country club the golf tournament was in full swing. I stopped to watch 3 young girls, maybe about 7 or 8 years old, putting on the first green. They were dressed in the latest fashionable golfing attire. Their pull carts were parked around the green, with big sun-umbrellas mounted on each cart. While the girls were making their putts, their pretty young mothers were waiting in their carts, parked on the cart path. Each of them was also nattily dressed, and busy swiping and tapping away on their iPhones. And at the next tee were three dads with their young boys, doing the same.

A beautiful residence in La Ceiba, our country club.

There are only two golf courses in Merida. One is just a mile or two up the road. It is a state-of-the-art Jack Nicklaus course. One of the top three courses in all of Mexico. Green fees are $275 US on weekdays, and nearly double that on weekends. Plus caddie fees. Our course is ‘the other’ course. It may not be as ritzy as the first, but the clientele here has money. There are some VERY lovely homes on our course, and looking at all the BMWs and Mercedes in the parking lot, there are a lot of rich folks from outside our country club who play golf here.

I walked through the front gate and out to the highway. Clouds were keeping the sun from making a walk unbearable. I stopped in at a Carl’s Jr, about a kilometre down the road. Air conditioning. Coffee. Wi-fi. I FaceTimed with Alex and Max — they were making the most of a “snow day”, cleaning up Max’s room, sorting all his lego into cubbies by colour and arranging piles of old toys and out-grown clothing for the thrift store. They had little sympathy for me and my complaints about the heat.

Back at the house the propane truck showed up. They took our empty tank away to get it refilled — they will return it tomorrow and expect cash on delivery. I sent Mario a message to let him know the terms. Then it was time for a quick shower. We had a 2 o’clock lunch appointment at a seafood restaurant in downtown Merida with Renan and his new bride. Renan was a former student at the SRSS. We’d had a very nice visit with him and his parents and two brothers about 12 years ago when Sue and I and the Driedgers were in Cancun for a holiday. Dave had made contact with him now again and arranged to meet him for lunch.

Our lunch was excellent. Renan ordered several different plates of shrimp and we all shared. He brought us up-to-date on his family, his work as a lighting designer, and his bride. Lizmar is a dancer and a dance instructor, with many teachers working for her. We discussed the bullfight (they had been at the same one we were at a week ago) and the possibility of going fishing out in Progresso. It was a fine way to spend the afternoon; neither of them had to work today, it being a National holiday here in the Yucatan.

We left the restaurant and walked a couple of blocks to a mall. Dave was looking for a New York Times Sunday paper but all we found were lots of Spanish magazines. We took an Uber back towards home, stopping at the big Chedraui grocery store to shop for supplies along the way.

I had a note from Mario — he had delivered the cash for the propane and left it for us under the cup on the window sill beside the door. Got it. We sorted the groceries and packed them into our fridge. Dave made gin and tonics and it was time to pick a movie for tonight. After much clicking and browsing through the hundreds of options on our TV, he decided we would watch the first episode of each of three different series and then vote on which series to watch. So that took up the rest of the evening. Ultimately we decided on “The Kominsky Method” and we watched the first TWO episodes. And then it was time for bed. Turn off the downstairs air conditioner. Turn up the bedroom ceiling fans. Open the patio door. The night air is still warm but sleep will come quickly.

This is what we did Tuesday

Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you. John 13:10


When I went downstairs this morning I knew something was different. As the saying goes, the lights were on but there was nobody home. But no, I mean that literally. The lights were on but where was MaryLou? Unlike every other morning, she was not sitting at the table, deeply engrossed in doing research on her computer. Maybe our internet is down and she’s gone to the clubhouse to access it there? But no, I had just updated my journal and the internet was working fine. It wasn’t until Dave came downstairs to join me for a cup of coffee when I remembered that MaryLou was leaving early today to go on a ‘house and garden’ tour of the homes of the rich and famous in Merida.

So it was a quiet morning at Bugambilia 10A. I did a load of laundry and tried in vain to figure out my coding project. Dave watched the sports and shpott highlights from last night’s TV shows on his iPad. The propane guy returned our filled tank and hooked it up for us. Other than that there wasn’t a lot of action in our place — Dave and I sat on our respective couches while the air conditioner hummed, keeping the air in our place breathable.

Soon after Dave and I had finished our lunch MaryLou got home from her expedition. She made herself lunch and disappeared upstairs. Today was the last day of that family golf tournament that had messed up our daily routine for the last 3 days. I’d been told that we could golf anytime after 1 o’clock. And by now there was a bit of a breeze and some occasional clouds, making the temperature almost bearable. We should go golfing!

All morning Dave had regularly interrupted his online scrabble game by reading a book. He made a lot of headway in that regard. So when I asked him if he wanted to go golfing he said, “Sure, but lemme first finish my book. I’m almost done — I have 10 pages left.” Great. I went upstairs and did a sudoku. When I went back downstairs, thinking that surely Dave was now getting ready for golf — “voot, voot, voot, bleeble bleeble bleeble”. There was his big fat novel lying beside him, still 10 pages to go, while Dave was playing that damn scrabble game on his phone.

Finally, at 2 o’clock we were off to the golf course. We got our carts from the storage lockers and signed in at the front desk. And with no one in front of us, and a slower threesome behind us, we bashed our way around the front nine in an hour and a half. And the temperature was just fine! I think it was around 31 degrees with a breeze and none of the heavy humid air we’d had all morning.

A foursome of inconsiderate (probably Canadian) old farts cut in front of us just before we got to the 10th tee. Oh boy. Wait, wait, wait. And when they are finally out of our way on the fairway ahead, BLOOP! Instead of chasing them with a terrific tee shot that rolls up just behind them, we duff one into the reeds in the water hazard 30 yards past the tee. Good thing there’s no one behind us to see that! After following the old guys for a while, we skipped a couple of holes and jumped past them on hole 12 and were back at the clubhouse by 5:00pm.

After golf Dave walked to the mini-superette at the front gate to pick up more supper supplies for MaryLou while I went home to shower. By the time I was out of the shower our dinner guests had arrived. Downstairs, MaryLou had arranged seven dinner plates around our little dining table. She’d converted our kitchen counter to a buffet of fixings for tacos. And as we sat down to dinner there were reports from MaryLou, Ken and Kaaren, and Dave and Deb about their morning ‘house and garden’ tour in Merida.

At seven o’clock it was time to start up the TV and find the Jets game. Or should we watch the Raptors? Well, why not both! We’ll just flip back and forth during the intermission. It seemed that everyone was tired tonight, so at the end of the second period our company said goodnight and headed back home. Too much excitement from the early morning tour? Or the heat of the day? Well, anyway, we were out of wine. And tomorrow’s another day. Ken and Dave W. were talking about coming back for an early morning golf game.

I went upstairs and watched a bit of the “highlights” of Trump’s “State of the Union” speech before going to bed. I guess he hasn’t wrecked it completely, although there doesn’t seem to be a lot of ‘unity’ in the union. Oh well, I’m sure we’ll get the full analysis tomorrow when Dave queues up the late night talk shows on YouTube.

Golfers golf and cookers cook

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace. 1 Peter 4:8-10

Shortly after Dave and I had eaten our breakfast, Ken and Dave W. arrived. The four of us were going golfing this morning. Dave W. hadn’t brought clubs along so he was going to borrow MaryLou’s carry-bag and augment her selection of clubs by borrowing from Dave D. We checked in at the pro-shop and to see what the non-member rate for a single game was. Dave W. paid 1200 pesos (about $85 CAD) and we were off.

It was a warm morning, but not too hot for golf. Dave W. said he hadn’t golfed for quite a few years, but right from the first tee, he hit the ball well and played a good game. We all had a very good time — so good that I forgot all about taking a photo of the four of us. The two Daves were occasionally sidetracked a bit when they heard or spotted a bird — Dave W. is a birder and Dave D. is a wannabe birder. Dave D. had a birdie on the 12th hole. The goal is to see if by the end of our stay here he can birdie every hole. I’ve been marking the score but unfortunately I’ve not kept all our scorecards, but I’ll start keeping track now.

After the game we sat in the shade of the clubhouse patio and had hotdogs and beers. The wives were off on their own adventure today — they’d signed up for a ‘food tour’ where they went to a market to buy the supplies for a meal they would prepare and have for dinner. So the boys were on their own for a while.

Dave W. and Ken went home after lunch. Dave D. and I sat around in our place. At around 3 o’clock, the gardener who takes care of the yard across the lane from our place knocked on the door. He is a friendly young man who greets me with a smile and a wave whenever I see him. He introduced himself. I managed to figure out that what Angel was saying to me in Spanish was that Mario, our landlord, had asked him to come mop our floors for us. MaryLou had complained to Mario that we didn’t have a mop and pail and couldn’t clean our floors, so instead of providing us with the tools, Mario had arranged for this man to clean our floors for us. Okay.

While Dave and I drank G&Ts on the balcony, Angel mopped the whole house with some kind of strong-smelling cleaner. Dave and I were looking online to see if there was a movie playing at one of the many nearby Cinemexes that would interest us and play at a time that worked with our schedule. We decided on “The Mule”, a Clint Eastwood movie that we actually can watch on our fancy ‘Rocket’ TV. I’m not a Clint Eastwood fan either, but we really wanted to see a movie in a Merida theatre, and this one was playing at the brand new (and nearby) La Isla Merida mall.

Our Uber delivered us to the mall about 15 minutes after the listed start time for the movie, but with all the previews they played before the actual movie began, we missed about 5 minutes — and we figured we could see what we’d missed on our TV when we got home. The movie was okay, better than I expected. It was in English with Spanish subtitles, which worked out good except for when the Mexican drug smugglers were speaking, which was NOT translated with subtitles for the audience, but left us wondering what they were saying. Well, probably nothing nice — they were the ‘bad guys’ after all.

After the movie Dave realized he’d missed a call from MaryLou. He called her back. She was home. Earlier than we’d expected. Had had a great time. Had shopped, prepared, and eaten a fine Mexican meal. Well WE hadn’t eaten yet. We went to the big (but mostly empty of customers — this is a very new mall!) food court and ordered Pad Thai from one of the booths and complemented that with fine IPA craft beers from another booth. When we’d eaten we went to the Telmex phone shop to see why I couldn’t call my mother with my phone. Our $15 cell phone plans include unlimited calling to anywhere in North America. I had tried calling home a few times, but always got a Spanish recorded message before the phone disconnected. The clerk at the store, who also spoke very little English, finally concluded that I was not dialing enough zeroes in front of the country code — problem solved! I dialed 001 and Mom’s number and got — a busy signal! Well, at least I THINK the problem is solved.

Dave bought three doughnuts from the Krispy Kreme shop and we took an Uber back to our place. We got a little update from MaryLou and ate our desserts before Dave queued up tonight’s Netflix episode of “The Kaminsky Method”. I ran upstairs and tried calling Mom again — and Voila! The phone works. All good at home. Lots of snow. The ladies in the ‘big room’ are working on another puzzle. Brother Walter has arrived in Colombia for a month-long adventure there while his wife Angie is looking after the chickens and playing with their new dog. Dad is enjoying the daily ‘entertainment’ at the personal care home. Good to talk to you. Goodnight.

We watched TWO half-hour episodes tonight. The show is well-written and quite entertaining, but that’s all we could stay awake for tonight. Off to bed.

No birding, no birdies, and chicken salad sandwiches

And these you shall detest among the birds; they shall not be eaten; they are detestable: the eagle, the bearded vulture, the black vulture, the kite, the falcon of any kind, every raven of any kind, the ostrich, the nighthawk, the sea gull, the hawk of any kind, the little owl, the cormorant, the short-eared owl, the barn owl, the tawny owl, the carrion vulture, the stork, the heron of any kind, the hoopoe, and the bat. But of the leftover chicken ye shall eat chicken salad sandwiches. Leviticus 11:13-19

I should have had more than just a little bowl of yogurt with my coffee this morning. But Dave was in a hurry to get to the golf course while the morning temperature was still bearable, and MaryLou was joining us for the first nine holes. As it was, I had to hurry get my clubs and lather up my nose with sunscreen to catch up with the two of them waiting for me at the first tee.

Things started off pretty well. I parred the first hole and bogied the second. MaryLou had her best game since we’ve been here; she has always putted well, but now she’s getting good distance on her tee shots as well. Dave had 5 pars and 4 bogies on the front nine. But things took a turn for the worse after MaryLou left. Hmmm…

Dave began the back nine with two sevens in a row. I had my second 8 on number 14. By now it was close to noon and the light breeze was losing the battle with the hot sun. I was losing the battle, too. By the time we got to the treacherous number 17 par 3, that cold Sol I drank back on number 12 was long gone. Too long. I was feeling poorly. Heat stroke. Dehydration. Or just exhausted from too many triple bogies to care. I smacked a few balls into the water and another couple into the bush and stumbled back to the clubhouse.

After many glasses of water and finishing off the 1.5 litre Coke in the fridge, it was time for lunch. We made sandwiches from the leftover chicken. I was starting to feel better.

By now it was 2 o’clock. Dave, who was a bit sorry that Dave W. had decided NOT to go birding, changed into his trunks and he and MaryLou went to the pool for the rest of the afternoon. I sat in the air-conditioned house and did a little computer work and a couple of sudokus.

Around 5:00 the Driedgers came back to the house for happy hour. Dave flipped through the channels, looking for one that was airing “Jeopardy”. Nope. Well let’s see what time the Raptors are on TV.

We walked to the superette at the front gate and ordered an Uber. It’s a LOT cheaper to get a ride from the front gate, which is a 10-minute walk from our apartment, than to have the taxi come pick us up at our apartment. And it usually takes more than 10 minutes for the Uber to get through the high security at the front gate. The security guards first have to call the house to make sure we’re expecting someone. Then the driver has to leave his driver’s license with the guards, and one of the guards records the license number of the car. So we have learned to make our pick-up point just outside the front gate and meet the Uber there.

We got dropped off at the Galerías Mérida mall, not too far from our place. The mall has many shops on two floors, surrounding an indoor (the only) ice rink in the Yucatan.

There are several restaurant options — and tonight we decided on sushi. Unfortunately our waiters could not speak any English, and we couldn’t speak any Spanish, and none of us could speak Japanese. So somehow we managed to order 3 different sushi options and 3 beers and a glass of wine. Dave tried to get our waiter to speak into the Google Translate program on his phone but we were unable to figure out why he got served two Bohemias when he only ordered one.

I didn’t overeat on sushi, so I was looking forward to a nice chocolatey doughnut for dessert. Dave went to look for the Krispy Kreme shop while I went to look for a place to buy deodorant. When we met back at the side of the ice rink we’d both struck out. We took an Uber back to our place.

We were soon in our respective seats in front of the big TV. By now the Jets were well on their way to losing another game and the Raptors had won theirs. We queued up two more episodes of “The Kominsky Method” and were in bed by eleven o’clock.

Friday (Night Pizza)

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of pizza. Ecclesiastes 3:8

I had ‘a day off’ today. The Driedgers were outta here bright and early this morning. They were going to join up with Ken and Kaaren and Dave and Deb to go on an art tour in Merida. And this little piggy stayed home.

That’s what I did. I stayed home. I putzed around and I made a sandwich for lunch and I read a bunch of stuff online and watched a few tutorials about using Ajax with WordPress. I had the ceiling fan on and the air conditioner off and stayed reasonably comfortable all day.

The Driedgers were back at 3 o’clock. They stumbled in, all hot and sweaty and tired, and nearly collapsed. MaryLou went upstairs and Dave fell asleep on the couch. Whew! Must have been a pretty serious art tour!

After things had calmed (and cooled) down a bit, Dave made Caesars for us and we watched two more episodes of “The Kominsky Method”. Well, it turned out that Episodes 7 and 8 were final two of the season. So much for that series. Now we’ll have to find something new to put us to sleep each night.

I ordered a pizza online from Dominos — including a big Pepsi and box of chocolate-covered ‘schnetje’ for dessert. A guy on motorcycle delivered my order about 20 minutes later and we had Friday Night Pizza.

After supper we had an intense discussion (well, I was getting ‘tense’) about whether it is appropriate for teachers (and board members) who are paid by the taxpayers in their community to send their kids to a private school. And because this is MY journal, I can tell you that after some heated discussion on the matter, the Driedgers were both duly impressed with the logic of my point of view and eventually came around to my way (the correct way) of thinking.

MaryLou went upstairs to write her blog post while Dave and I, against our better judgment, watched the latest ‘bird-brained’ Netflix movie “Bird Box”, starring Sandra Bullock. It was over by around 10:30. The Driedgers went upstairs while I listened to the rhythm of the ceiling fan and wrote this journal entry. Whatever this page lacks in photos (me sitting on the couch with my computer?) will surely be made up for in MaryLou’s post about their art tour. Stay tuned.

Saturday: puzzles, bacon & eggs, golf, dinner.

And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? Psalm 39:7


Saturday. Bacon and eggs day. Another lazy morning. For Dave this is typically a New York Times crossword puzzle day. So far we’ve been unable to find a place that sells the New York Times here in Merida. I brought a book of Sunday puzzles along from home, but until this morning Dave had been unwilling to do “an old” puzzle. While Dave worked on puzzle number one, MaryLou was getting close to finishing the 1000-piece puzzle she’d bought for her and Kaaren to do together. I made two small pots of coffee before walking to the mini-super to pick up fresh bread and a couple of bananas. When I got back I fried up a panful of bacon and a couple of eggs and made myself some toast. Dave and MaryLou each cooked up their own eggs and joined me at the table.

While I cleaned up the dishes, MaryLou headed off to the gym and Dave went back to his crossword. It was getting hot. The forecast was for overcast skies and possible showers starting at 2 o’clock. That would be a nice change!

The Neufelds arrived a little after one. This morning they had said farewell to their guests, Dave and Deb, who had taken the bus back to Cancun and are flying home from there tomorrow. Kaaren and MaryLou got right to work on that big jigsaw puzzle while the boys went to the golf course. We had to wait for a while at the first tee — the guys in the two golf carts ahead of us were learning how to golf. We asked the starter if we could jump ahead and start at the fourth hole, but he said that only the two guys would be golfing, that the woman was just riding along. So we stood and waited. And waited. And it didn’t get any better. By the time we’d putted out at hole number three we’d had enough. We skipped number four only to catch up to another slow group a couple of holes ahead.

By the time we were halfway through the first nine those clouds that had been forecasted appeared. That helped to lower the temperature a bit and made for a very pleasant afternoon. The golf course marshall came around at hole eleven where we were once again standing and watching two couples ahead of us giving each other golf lessons. The marshall pulled them off to the side and motioned for us to play through. Nice.

After the round we had a quick beer at the clubhouse. Then we went back to the house and discussed supper plans. We took two Ubers to the Italian restaurant where my new neighbours had taken me when I first arrived here in Merida. I had called ahead to make a reservation for five but when we got there we were the only customers and we had the big outdoor patio all to ourselves! So we had very attentive service from the five waiters who watched us from the bar. The food was good, the conversation even better. Dave ordered a tiramisu and five spoons for dessert. Then we called up two more Ubers, one to take the Neufelds back to their place in downtown Merida, and one to take the Driedgers and me back to La Ceiba.

Another day, another round of golf

Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you an holy day, a sabbath of rest to the LORD: whosoever doeth work therein shall be put to death. Exodus 35:2

Oh, oh. No rest for us golfers THIS sabbath…

Our fancy ‘Rocket TV’ thing stopped working today — I guess Mario hasn’t paid his monthly subscription fee and so now we DON’T get all the channels in the world. Well, at least we don’t get any of my Sunday morning talk shows and we don’t get Sunday afternoon golf. Now what will we do?

Well at least there is still an unfinished puzzle in the middle of the room. And Dave has just barely cracked open the Dan Brown paperback he found among all the Spanish self-help books on the shelf under the TV. MaryLou has columns and books and blogs to write. And I still haven’t figured out my Ajax-Wordpress coding thing. So why don’t we do that today…

MaryLou went to the gym around lunchtime. Dave and I decided to go golfing. Dave really wanted to fry up a hamburger but I convinced him to join me for lunch at the clubhouse before we started our golf game. We shared an order of shrimp tacos and watched a bit of the PGA tournament at Pebble Beach before getting our pull carts from the storage lockers.

The first tee was busy so the starter sent us out to hole ten. Great. We walked around the back nine and made good time. We were maybe only going to golf nine holes, but things were going so well and the weather was almost comfortable, so after finishing the back nine we just carried on teeing off on the first hole. By the time we finished all 18 holes we were exhausted. Golfing is HARD WORK!

When we got home MaryLou had completed the puzzle. What’s for supper? We need groceries. Can we Uber into town and do both?

And that’s how we ended up at two fine Mexican institutions: Dave finally had his hamburger at TGIFridays and then we went grocery shopping at Walmart.

MaryLou had made a grocery list so it didn’t take us long to zip through the aisles at Walmart and fill up our grocery cart. When we got to check-out we were told that all the carefully selected bottles of wine in our cart would have to stay there. Oh, that’s right. You can’t buy booze after 5pm on Sundays here in Mexico. We should have remembered that — we’ve had this happen to us before. I guess that’s the Mexican way of keeping the sabbath holy! Oh well, that gives us an excuse to go grocery shopping again. So no clinking bottles in the trunk of our Uber on the ride home. And no need to have him deliver us and our groceries right to our door. He dropped us off at the front gate and we carried our two small bags of fruits and my new deodorant back to the house.

No Netflix tonight. My feet hurt and my wrist hurts and I’m too tired from all that hard work on the golf course today. I’ll write my blog in the morning. Goodnight.

Perseverance

For the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity. Proverbs 24:16

It was another slow day in paradise. After yesterday’s hard workout on the golf course, Dave and I were taking a day off. We needed a break. Our bodies need a ‘recovery’ day. So even though it was a very pleasant (cloudy) day, we didn’t take advantage of it. After breakfast each of us found a quiet corner to do our own thing. I was too tired to write my journal last night, so I did that this morning. And I had a little FaceTime visit with Alex and Max. I started reading a new book I downloaded to my Kindle.

Around lunchtime, Dave and MaryLou headed out to the La Isla mall to do some shopping. I set up my laptop on the kitchen table and went back to work on my coding project.

The cool thing about writing computer code is that it’s okay if you make a mistake. If you make a mistake no one will get mad at you or yell at you or mark your work with a big red X. No, when you are programming you get to ‘debug’ your code. It’s a normal part of programming. Everybody does it. I sort of wish all my mistakes were like that. It’s true, I was getting quite frustrated with my project — I just couldn’t get it to ‘work’ — and I knew that it was my responsibility and that ultimately I would have to figure it out and fix it. And that’s what I did today at a little before three o’clock. I found the error — I had omitted one little comma — and I fixed it. And after hours and hours of looking through website tutorials and trying a hundred different things, it WORKS!

Pepe was walking by my open window just about that time. I had just poured myself a celebratory Modelo Especial. He stopped to chat. He suggested that maybe a bit later he might take us for a tour of that big fancy golf course a couple of miles north of us. So when Dave and MaryLou got back from their shopping trip I let Pepe know that we’d be ready to go whenever it was convenient for him.

Pepe came by just before 5 o’clock. MaryLou decided she’d rather stay home, so it was just Dave and me on the tour. We drove through the front gates of the 8-year-old country club and stopped at Pepe’s twin brother’s house. Antonio is a member of the exclusive club. He would show us around. The Jaguar Course is a signature golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus. It is ranked as one of the top courses in México.

We started by walking a few of the holes on the course, which is closed to golfers on Mondays for regular maintenance. There had been a major tournament here on the weekend so there were quite a few club marks and divots on the fairway. But the grass on the course was lush and green.

We went for quite a long walk, and by the time we got to the clubhouse and the big sport complex in the center of the country club it was getting dark. Antonio took us into the lounges and the gym and the Mark Spitz swimming pool and the clay and hard surface tennis courts. It was all first-class and very impressive.

Antonio called his wife to come pick us up from the country club. We squeezed into her car and she gave us a ride back to where Pepe had parked his car. We said goodbye to Antonio and thought that was the end of the tour. But Pepe had more to show us. He drove around the exclusive development and although it was quite dark by now, showed us some of the very expensive homes there. And then we went to an apartment complex where Pepe owns a suite which he rents out. So we took another walk to see the gym and the pool and the man-made lake, etc. It was getting close to 7pm. MaryLou was already texting, wondering where we were staying and what about supper.

We drove back into our La Ceiba country club and parked the car. We thanked Pepe for the tour and said goodnight. But no, we’re not done. Pepe wanted to show us HIS home as well. So we walked across the street and were invited into Pepe’s home. It turns out to be quite an unusual building. His house is octagonal, with a central courtyard. It’s really a lovely home, and Pepe and his wife Kiki were proud to give us a tour. We finally bid another goodnight and got back to our house. I think MaryLou had watched a movie and a mini-series on her laptop while we were gone!

Dave made special (boiled AND fried) hotdogs to go with the authentic Mexican salad MaryLou had learned to make on her recent cooking tour here in Merida. I made caesars.

After supper MaryLou went upstairs while Dave found a basketball game on his iPad. I cleaned up the dishes and went upstairs to look at my photos of the golf course and listen to music.

I went downstairs for the (Krispy Kreme) night snack. I ended up watching the Whitney Houston story on Netflix before going to bed. Patio door is open, screen door is letting some nice night air into the bedroom. I’ll go to sleep thinking about missing commas.

Cheeseburgers, beers, and pants that are too loose!

Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat, for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags. Proverbs 23:20-21

We had an early start this morning. Ken was at our door before eight o’clock, ready to hit the links. I had to gulp down my coffee and had no time at all to do a suduko in the bathroom. Off we were. MaryLou wasn’t going to hang around the house by herself either — she was taking an Uber into Merida to spend the day with her sister.

There was a lineup at the first tee. The four old guys ahead of us didn’t exactly have an auspicious start to their game. It looked like we might be in for a LONG day. But after a few holes it became apparent that while the foursome ahead wasn’t very good, we had our own challenges. Sure, we waited at every tee, but it seemed the more exasperated and annoyed we were, the worse our own tee shots were. So we just shut up and golfed.

The early start was meant to minimize our time in the hot midday sun. It worked for a few hours. But by the time we made the turn at hole 9 the heat was on. I finished my bottle of water early and was already looking forward to the beer cart by eleven o’clock. I’ve noticed that my shorts are hanging looser every day — with all this daily hard work and massive amounts of perspiration it seems to me that I MUST be losing weight. That’s encouraging. Too encouraging. It gives me license to order a second beer with my big cheeseburger and fries at the after-golf lunch at the clubhouse patio. Something’s wrong here. My head tells me my pants are loose because my shorts and belt are expanding in the high humidity. But my gut says — oh, never mind what my gut says. I’ll see how the pants fit after I’ve laundered them.

I shot a hundred today. Not bad, but it’s not “breaking” a hundred, which is my goal. But if having fun and getting good exercise is the measure of success here, I’m doing okay.

After a leisurely lunch Ken dropped his golf shoes off in our car port and took an Uber back to his place. I showered and threw in a load of laundry. We’ll see if the shorts come out fitting a bit tighter. (I know my ‘souvenir’ Merida cotton t-shirt sure fit a bit tighter after the first washing!)

Dave started another crossword but got interrupted when his iPad need some attention. I phoned the mini-super to order two more big jugs of water and a bag of ice. The guy on the delivery motorcycle showed up minutes later and I got him to hoist one of the big jugs up into our dispenser on the counter for us. Dave tipped him 30 pesos for his efforts (about $2 CAD — on top of the $5 for the water and ice!)

MaryLou arrived mid-afternoon. She’d had quite an interesting morning, visiting an artist and checking out her art pieces and listening to her story.

I went upstairs and took care of my laundry and read my Kindle on our balcony where the dark rain clouds were making the temperature downright comfortable. I don’t think we had a single drop of rain, but it sure looked like we might by late afternoon. It was after four o’clock when  Dave called me back downstairs for happy hour. I sent another text message to our landlord to ‘remind’ him that we were still waiting for our Rocket TV to be re-activated. I was pleasantly surprised when he replied, saying ‘try it now’. We did and sure enough, it was working again! Great. Dave was hoping that we could get the Jets game on one of the channels tonight.

Soon MaryLou got busy in the kitchen, making a salad and cooking up some spaghetti and meat sauce. Our kitchen doesn’t have a lot of utensils, but MaryLou managed to find what she needed to get a meal on the table.

After supper, and another fine discussion, everyone was soon back at their stations. Dave worked on that crossword puzzle while he watched the Jets, and MaryLou got caught up with the latest news on Facebook. After I’d finished doing the dishes I went upstairs to watch the CBC National and write my journal. I’d gone to bed rather late last night and so after a bit of TV and reading a few more chapters in my book, I called it a night.

Will you still need me, will you still feed me…

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12

It rained last night. There was water on the balcony railing. And it was cloudy when I awoke. I made coffee for Dave and me — MaryLou had gone to the clubhouse for a better internet connection.

I was a little after nine when Dave and I went out for a quick round of golf. We first stopped at the course office to pay for another month’s membership. It was almost ‘coolish’ and we even had a few sprinkles of rain — not enough to get wet, but enough that we had the first nine holes to ourselves and made great time. We had planned to only golf nine holes, but because it had taken us 1.5 hours to golf nine holes we decided to continue on the back nine.

We caught up with some other (older, slower) golfers on the 10th hole, and so we skipped holes 13 and 14 and finished before 12:30. Dave had a birdie on the par 3 Hole 17 (probably our least favourite hole). I found enough balls in the water hazard on hole 18 to compensate for the balls I’d lost today. And the weather had been great for golfing — only a few raindrops and the rest of the day was cloudy and comfortable.

After golf we picked up MaryLou and walked out past the front gate, to the little cafe in the almost totally empty strip mall at the corner where our driveway meets the highway. The lady in the shop brought us her little handmade menus and Dave and i ordered cappuccinos. The shop owner took quite a long time to make us our food: a croissant with ham and cheese for MaryLou and me, and a baguette sandwich for Dave. But the coffees were great and the sandwiches okay.

We had dinner reservations for tonight at the La Pigua seafood restaurant in Merida, where we planned to celebrate Kaaren’s birthday. On our walk back from the lunch deli cafe we stopped at the mini-super and MaryLou bought a small cake and candles to take to the restaurant tonight.

Back at the house I continued reading my book for a while. Then I actually had a little nap. I set the timer to wake me up at 4:30. I showered and went downstairs for happy hour. Soon it was time for us to make our way back to the front gate to pick up MaryLou’s cake and catch an Uber to the restaurant.

MaryLou had made reservations for us — but that probably won’t have been necessary. There were hardly any other diners in the restaurant. Our table decided to order a variety of seafood dishes and we’d share them all. So we sampled octopus, shrimp, scallops, crab, and fish. All good.

Then the waiter brought out the birthday cake with a big sparkler candle on it. That candle was more like a small fireworks display than a candle. The waiters opened the big glass doors to let the smoke out after the fireworks died down!

We Ubered back home. The air was cool and clean as we walked back to the apartment. Dave settled into his spot on the couch and continued watching “Better Call Saul” on Netflix. Marylou went upstairs to see if she could find tickets online for a symphony concert on Saturday. I wrote my journal and then went to sleep. I’ve got an early morning golf game scheduled for tomorrow.

Fun times on Valentine’s Day in Merida

How beautiful and pleasant you are, O loved one, with all your delights! Your stature is like a palm tree, and your breasts are like its clusters. I say I will climb the palm tree and lay hold of its fruit. Oh may your breasts be like clusters of the vine, and the scent of your breath like apples, and your mouth like the best wine. Song of Solomon 7:6-9

Okay, I guess we didn’t have quite THAT MUCH fun today!

I had just barely finished eating my bowl of yogurt this morning, when the Neufelds were knocking on the door. Rise and shine. We’re going golfing. We’re going to skip the heat of the day and go early today.

On the way to the course we were met by a LONG string of golf carts carrying women golfers to their tees around the course. Oh, oh. Looks like there’s a women’s tournament on today. I hope we don’t get shut out again.

We checked at the starter’s desk and were told we could golf the back nine this morning. Whew! Well at least that’s better than no golf at all!

So we got our golf carts out of storage and put on our golfing shoes. We filled up our water bottles and went to the 10th tee box. Two (not very speedy) elderly couples were doinking around on the forward tees just ahead of us. Hmmm… Could be a S-L-O-W morning. But we were patient and in the end the golfers ahead really didn’t slow us down all that much. Dave even added to his list of birdies on hole number 12.

When we finished nine we were directed to continue by replaying the back nine. The ladies’ tournament would be playing the front nine until at least noon. Ken wasn’t interested in repeating what we’d just completed. He headed for the showers. Dave and I thought we might as well take advantage of the slightly cooler morning temperatures and give it a go. But the golfers ahead were not playing any faster, and when a cart pulled up to the tees and the guy suggested that if we came back at 1pm we’d have the course to ourselves, well… We parked our carts in our carport and decided to go for brunch with the rest of the gang.

But Kaaren and MaryLou were just getting ready to go for a swim in the pool and sit in the sun for a bit. And Ken was still in the showers. Dave went to meet the girls and make a plan.

It was Valentine’s Day — I’d suggested that Dave and Ken should take their wives out for a nice brunch. I was happy to stay back, but in the end we ordered two Ubers and all five of us went to a waffle shop at the big new mall not far from our place. The food was okay, if not exactly ‘exciting’. After brunch Ken and Kaaren went back to their place and the Driedgers and I went back to ours.

As soon as we got home Dave and I went straight to the golf course and teed off on hole #1. Yeah, now there was NO ONE else on the course. And although it was the heat of the day, it wasn’t “unbearable”.

We started the round off playing okay, but when we got halfway around the front nine, the wheels came off. We both played TERRIBLE. What is going on? What are we doing out here? It was PAINFUL. Discouraging. Frustrating. We couldn’t wait to get off the course!

I returned my clubs to the storage shed and went back to the house. Our neighbour’s worker, Angel, was already busy washing the floors in our place. MaryLou was sitting at the table, waiting for him to finish the upstairs so she could go change into her swimsuit and join Dave at the pool. I went out on the balcony and read my book.

When the Driedgers came back from the pool we had happy hour. I went upstairs and showered. Dave and MaryLou FaceTimed with Hans and Chris in Phoenix while I took advantage of the coolish late afternoon temperatures and read my book out on the balcony.

It was already quite dark outside when Dave called me down for supper. MaryLou was heating up bowls of leftover pasta. We ate. Then MaryLou went upstairs to work on something and Dave got the Jets game going on his iPad while I washed the dishes.

While the Jets were struggling, I wrote my journal and looked at my photos. I was feeling quite tired from pulling my golf cart around the course in the heat of the day. Around 8:30 MaryLou reappeared and Dave invited her to join him to watch a Valentine’s movie that he had selected just for her. Uh-huh. I gathered my stuff and went upstairs. I finished writing my journal and then got out my Kindle and read until I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer.

Friday, the Ides of February

When times are good, be happy… Ecclesiastes 7:14

Our internet is a bit slow tonight, so I’ll be quick: I golfed, I had a hotdog (perro caliente) for lunch at the clubhouse, got home and showered, napped, happy hour, went to Ken and Kaaren’s and then out for pizza and a little country and western music at a small corner bar after that.

Hooray for the weekend!

One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Romans 14:2-3

Saturday! Finally! The weekend is here. Don’t have to go to work today. Besides, there’s a big-time golf tournament so the course is closed to us today. So what should we do??

The plan was to go out for breakfast, but by the time all was said and done today (and there was a LOT said, even if not too much ‘done’) it was closer to ‘lunch’ than to breakfast by the time we had our bacon and eggs. Well, not exactly bacon and eggs either.

We Ubered a mile down the road to Los Benes, a breakfast place we’d visited a couple of Saturdays ago. I wasn’t completely surprised when we got there and had to go sit outside for a while to wait for an available table. No problem. We’d waited this long!

After breakfast the Driedgers made a visit to Walmart to shop for groceries while I went back to the apartment. I washed the dirty coffee cups in the sink and had a phone call with Alex. The kids are having a quiet weekend at home, enjoying the break from another busy week. They get Monday off because it’s Louis Riel Day in Manitoba. And it seems there’s a bit of relief from the extreme cold — so spirits are up.

Soon the Driedgers arrived with bags of groceries to put away. By now I was quite into my book — I actually haven’t read hardly at all for a couple of years, and I’ve been sidetracked with my coding project for too many weeks — but now I’m into it. While the Driedgers went to sit by the pool for the afternoon I sat upstairs and finished my book. Small Fry is the 2018 memoir by Lisa Brennan Jobs, the daughter of Apple’s Steve Jobs (voted one of the Ten Best Books of 2018 by New York Times). It was a great read. And I’ve already started the next book — one that Alex recommended today when we talked on the phone. The Driedgers are gone for much of the day tomorrow, taking in a symphony concert in Merida with Ken and Kaaren, and that will give me lots of quiet time to read (after I’ve watched my ‘Sunday morning shows’, of course).

Around 4:30 it was happy hour here at La Ceiba. We finished off the margarita mix today. I don’t know if we’re going to buy more tequila — I think we prefer G&Ts. Dave watched a couple of episodes of ‘Better Call Saul” on TV and MaryLou started getting supper ready. She’d bought a couple of kitchen gadgets as well as all the ingredients needed for a stir-fry. It seems that since she went on that ‘cooking tour’ she’s inspired to try some new things in the kitchen!

Dave was sure hoping for a good Jets game tonight, so even as he queued up a movie for MaryLou, he kept one eye on his iPad. By the time I’d cleaned up the dishes and the kitchen they were too far into the latest “Dragon Tattoo” movie for me to follow — so I wrote my blog while ‘Lisbeth’, the heroine, overcame near insurmountable odds and kicked and punched her way to victory. Not so for the Jets — they lost another one, this time in overtime. Oh well, let not the one who abstains from faithfully watching every game pass judgment on the team that loses.

Okay, it’s nearly ten o’clock and the evening breeze coming in our screened windows is (finally) cooling things down nicely. And although our ‘internet-TV’ is stuttering just a bit right now, I’m sure whats-her-name who played the Queen Elizabeth role in that other Netflix series is surely going to get even with the bad guys who are shooting up the screen right now.

All’s right with the world. Even if the good guys don’t ALWAYS win. One more glass of red wine and I’ll call it a night!

Sunday at the movies

I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. Psalm 101:3

Sunday morning — I woke up at around 5:30 and read for a while until I got sleepy. The next time I woke up it was 8:30. The Driedgers were on their second coffee and finished breakfast. CBS Sunday Morning was already in progress on the big TV.

The Driedgers left some time mid-morning, heading into the city centre to see a violin concert with the Neufelds. I watched my show and then continued reading my book. I made a sandwich for lunch and then found the golf channel and watched that for a while. I was hoping to go see a movie this afternoon, but the only movie on my list was playing at noon, and I’d already missed that.

I took an Uber into town at around 3:30. I went first to one movie theatre, hoping I’d see something on the playbill that might interest me — and when that disappointed I walked across the road to the big convention centre. There was a new cinema there, but again the times weren’t right.

Movies are cheap here in Mexico — five bucks or less! And the theatres are all brand new and quite nice. Dave has been itching to go see a movie ever since we got here — but the problem is that right now there are not a lot of good movies to see. It’s a dilemma for a good Mennonite like me: bargain prices but nothing worth seeing!

I took an Uber to the brand new Harbor Mall — I wanted to see the mall anyway. I already knew that the movies were more-or-less the same as what the other two theatres were showing. I walked the mall and ended up having a coffee and reading my book for a couple of hours.

At six o’clock I took a ride to the new mall near our place, La Isla Merida. I was surprised that the mall was busy — the last couple of times I’d been there it was right after the grand opening and there weren’t a lot of shoppers there. But tonight it was very busy. I went to a Mexican booth in the food court and had a plate of tacos. Then I bought a ticket to go see “The Green Book”, a movie I’d first seen in Palm Desert. (Hey, I’d rather see a good movie twice than watch a ‘worthless’ movie once!) The theatre was quite full too, and I had a good time. The people around me seemed to be enjoying the movie, laughing at the funny parts even though they had to read subtitles.

After the movie I was going to get an Uber back home, but the rates were double because of high demand. No problem. I ordered a coffee at the Starbucks and waited about 10 minutes until the surge was over. I got home at around ten. Dave was just watching the end of the final episode of “Better Call Saul”. The golf tournament was being replayed on the golf channel, so we watched some of that before going to bed.

How do you beat the heat?

For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; James 1:11

Get up early. Golf as soon as it’s bright enough to find the ball. That’s how we beat the heat today.

I got out of bed at 6. Dave wanted to go golfing at 7. I made coffee and had my yogurt and half a banana and was ready to go by 6:30. We were not the only ones who’d thought of an early tee time today, but we really never had to wait for the two gentlemen ahead of us.


We were at the ninth green when MaryLou texted that Ken and Kaaren had arrived. Ken met us at the first tee, and we golfed the front nine again, since the back nine was closed for maintenance today. By the time we were halfway through the round it was warming up quite a bit.

And then the wheels came off!
And then the wheels came off Dave’s game — or at least his golf cart!

After the round we had some cold beverages on the patio at the clubhouse. MaryLou and Kaaren joined us. Then we went back to our place and I showered while Dave made caesars for everyone. And that was lunch!

We took two Ubers to the Altabrisa region of Merida where we were all hoping to see an afternoon matinee at the cinema. Ken and Kaaren and I hadn’t seen “If Beale Street Could Talk” so we bought tickets for the 2:00 showing. Dave and MaryLou bought tickets for “Capernaum”, a Lebanese movie that’s nominated for an academy award for best foreign film. They were told that the subtitles would be in English, but after the opening credits everything was in Spanish. They ended up going bowling while the Neufelds and I sat through our movie. Well, after a million previews of upcoming movies, the movie that STARTED playing was “Bohemian Rhapsody”. But the other patron in the theatre (yes, there was only one other person in the lovely big air-conditioned theatre) rushed out and complained and got them to stop the wrong movie and start the right one. Lucky for us! All three of us sat there and looked at mostly close-ups of actors who were working their way through a VERY slow-moving plodding plot.

After the movie we met the Driedgers sitting in the foyer working on a crossword and reading a book. The Neufelds went home, and so did we. First a quick run through the big grocery store to pick up more supplies, and then an Uber home.

By 5:30 we were all back in our spots doing what we do. Dave on a crossword, MaryLou catching up on what she’d missed on Facebook today, and I wrote my journal up until this paragraph.

After supper we tried watching a movie. We started watching the recent documentary about WWI, but lost interest pretty quickly. Dave clicked through our list of new movies. Nothing. MaryLou went upstairs. Dave found the first season of “The Sopranos” and we watched the first episode. Hmmm… Maybe it’s a bit dated? I’m not sure we’ll continue that.

By 9:30 it was time to call it a day. Especially if we get up to go golfing at 7:00 tomorrow morning. Goodnight.

An Indian Fundraiser

So Laban gathered together all the people of the place and made a feast. Genesis 29:22

We had a bit of an early start this morning. Dave and I thought we’d really beat the heat and get out there BEFORE seven. As it turned out, I think we made a wrong call there. I turned out that it was incredibly humid and we were sopping wet almost before we started. And we had to tee off on number 10 because the front nine was so busy! And we had to wiat for a foursome ahead of us right off the bat! We waited and waited at number 10, number 11, and finally at number 12 we jumped ahead to hole 16.

When we finished hole 18 we continued on to hole number 1. Somewhat surprisingly, once the sun came up it got more comfortable! It seemed that the sun heated up the air so the humidity decreased, and a gentle wind made conditions way more manageable.

After golf we went home just as MaryLou was leaving for the gym. We showered and read for a while.

For lunch I made a grilled cheese ‘deluxe’ (as in, it has sandwich meat on it too) sandwich. My afternoon reading was interrupted by a couple of short naps. At 4 o’clock Dave fixed us happy hour drinks. And then it’s time to get dressed and order an Uber to take us into town. We’re going out for dinner together with the Neufelds.

We leave the house at 5:45 in order to catch an Uber at 6. The roads into Merida are busy and the ride takes 45 minutes. We arrive at a nondescript-looking exterior of a private home. We’ve got tickets for a fundraising dinner to raise money for the English library here in Merida. Inside the house is dark, with candles set on the tables. We exchange our tickets for “reserved” notes that we are to place on the plates where we want to sit. It’s a huge home and there are settings for about 80 guests here tonight.

We wander around the 3 or 4 large rooms that have big round tables set for tonight’s dinner. It’s dark — the only light is the candles on the tables. And it’s very warm in the house — so we’re looking for the ‘coolest’ place. Either right by the front entrance, which will be busy, or right at the back, next to the patio doors leading out to the swimming pool. We settle on the latter.

Soon the place starts filling up. Lots of elderly English library enthusiasts. We put our ‘reserved’ tickets on the place settings on either side of us to save a spot for Ken and Kaaren. They will be our ‘buffer zone’. Already we’ve had to explain that we’re saving seats to a number of interested (and interesting!) guests.

A man from, well, he’s originally from California but he’s NOT from California but he’s lived in Montreal but he’ll soon be living in Merida for 10 months of the year, joins our table. Then a couple from Sarasota takes the remaining two seats. By the time Ken and Kaaren arrive the place is full! And we thought it would be a small affair — MaryLou had ticket #12!

Drinks are included, and so before the dinner officially begins we are served wine and beer. And at some point the lights come on (must be a circuit breaker problem — they go off and on again later in the evening). And the air conditioner above us fires up. We’ve chosen good seats, here next to the open door where we’ve got a nice breeze every once in a while.

Finally the dinner begins. We are called, table by table (oh no, we’ll be one of the last tables!) to come to the centre courtyard where a ‘buffet’ of food is available from a big round table.

The food is not too bad! The drinks are good. The Neufelds do an admirable job visiting (mostly listening) to the people beside them, but eventually the conversation around the table splits into two groups: Americans and Canadians.

Dessert is served. A little glass of rice pudding with sliced almonds (or at least that’s what I thought it was). And then people begin to leave. And soon we do too. Dave orders an Uber and soon we’re back home in La Ceiba. No time for a movie tonight. We’re booked for an all-day tour to a hacienda and a cenote pool tomorrow and we’ve got an early start.

Hacienda Tour

And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:12

This morning we got up early. No coffee. We took an Uber into Merida, to the Starbucks at the Gran Plaza. We had coffee and pastry while we waited for our shuttle to come pick us up. The shuttle picked up 6 others, including Ken and Kaaren, and then drove south of Merida into the country. About 45 minutes later we arrived at a “hacienda” — which was also a museum devoted to the henequen plant from which sisal fibre is extracted. Sisal was a very important crop here from 1850 to about 1950 — as it was used to make rope and sack cloth before the invention of nylon.

We got to the hacienda and traded in our coupons for a wristband. After a short wait we were introduced to Juan, our English-speaking guide for the day. He took us through the museum, showing us both primitive (Mayan) and modern industrial methods of making rope from the sisal plant. The hacienda is a big ‘ranch’ which is completely restored by the current (second) owner of the property.

After the morning tour we were taken to a cenote (sinkhole) where we could climb down steps carved into the rock to reach the underground pool.

After swimming it was time for lunch, which was served by the hacienda’s cooks in a large dining hall. It was around 3pm when we climbed back into our shuttle van for the ride back to Merida.

The Driedgers and I were the last ones off the bus. We made a quick stop at the grocery store for a few items and then took an Uber home. Although we’d turned all the A/C off in our apartment for the day, with the blinds drawn and the door closed all day it was surprisingly cool in there.

We had happy hour and caught up with all that had happened in the world since the last time we’d logged into Facebook. Dave had made a list of movies and TV series that we should watch, so we started on that.

We tried the first episode of one series but switched to another series after that. We watched the first two episodes of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” before heading upstairs to bed.

Morning golf, evening blues

You shall make the robe of the ephod all of blue. Exodus 28:31

Thursday. Ken and Kaaren arrived at our place just before 8 o’clock. It would be Ken’s last golf game here in Merida. They are leaving early Saturday for Cancun and home to Winnipeg from there on Sunday.

Kaaren and MaryLou spent the morning visiting while the men went golfing. When we got to the course we were informed that there was a women’s final championship happening on the front nine, so we would be playing the back nine today. So that’s what we did — and we played the back nine twice. The temperature was moderated a bit by some occasional clouds and a very nice breeze, so it wasn’t until the last few holes the second time around that the heat started to slow us down a bit. And if any of us was hoping that after a month of fairly regular play we’d be improving like crazy — well, that isn’t really happening. Some good holes, some disappointments. Golf is like that.

The girls were already on the patio, enjoying gin and tonics, when we got back to the clubhouse. Dave and I stashed our clubs in the storage shed. Ken would be taking his clubs back to his place in Merida. We joined the girls and rehydrated. We ordered our food and had a nice visit in the shade under a big noisy fan.

Ken and Kaaren
After lunch we went back to our place. The Neufelds ordered an Uber to come and pick them up, including Ken’s golf bag, to take them back to their place.

I’d had a few interesting text messages from Mario, the guy we rent our apartment from. Apparently someone is interested in buying ‘our’ place. Yesterday a car with three women pulled up and asked us how long we were renting it for, and that the place was for sale, but that they were having trouble connecting with Mario. So I had arranged that the real estate agent could have access to the place to show it to them today from 11:00 to 1:00, while we were out for lunch. Now as we took a look around our place, it didn’t look as though anyone had been here. I went upstairs to shower — and of course THAT is when the real estate lady and her client showed up! Dave invited them in, but explained that the upstairs bathroom was occupied. But the house-shopper didn’t even go upstairs — she came in, walked into our little kitchen, took a look around the place and left about a minute later! Hmmm…

Around 4pm we had happy hour and watched the third episode of ‘That Marvellous Marla Maples’, or whatever the title of the series we’re watching is. Then it was time to walk to the mini-super and get an Uber to take us into town.

We arrived at Ken and Kaaren’s just before seven. From there, the five of us walked half a block to the corner bar, Cantina El Dzalbay, where tonight was ‘Noche de Blues’ featuring a band called Bad Whiskey. Should be good. We wanted to get there early enough to get a table downstairs where we could see and hear the band.

The band turned out to be two Mexican guys. And unlike other nights when the Neufelds had visited and found the place packed with English-speaking ex-pats and the music was great, ‘Bad Whiskey’ only spoke Spanish. I heard the phrase ‘blues acoustica’ a few times. One guy with an acoustic guitar, the other one with a case full of harmonicas. I think the first song they played was an old Dylan song. Okay. Not exactly BLUES, but it WAS acoustic. A song or two later there was a Muddy Waters tune, and another by Eric Clapton. But mostly they played Dylan and Beatles songs. And then a Creedence song. And although the beers were pretty good, and the big semi-cooked hamburger I ordered was edible, when ‘Bad Whiskey’ played John Denver’s “Con-tree Roads” we’d heard enough.

Santa Lucia square at nightWe took a walk down a couple of blocks down to the Santa Lucia square. Thursday nights are special there — a big stage, and bleachers and lots of chairs set up, for a weekly free performance of ‘local’ music and entertainment. And the square was packed! Mexican music. Accordions. Strumming guitars. Even a big band. We stopped to watch and listen for a little while. Then we went back to the Neufelds’ place.

Before we got into our Uber for the ride home, we packed a couple of grocery bags of bottles from the Neufelds’ fridge to take with us. With only one day left before they leave here, we were the beneficiaries of their ‘over-buying’ and were happy to help them out. It was a quiet ride home followed by a quiet walk from the superette to our place. When we got home we unpacked and stashed away our ‘groceries’. MaryLou went upstairs while Dave and I sampled the Baileys before we too headed off to bed.

Friday Night Farewell

Finally, Neufelds, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you. 2 Corinthians 13:11

We’d finished breakfast, watched all the YouTube late night talk show highlights, caught up with all our “friends” on Facebook, and settled comfortably into our regular positions. I was in the middle of fixing up a mini-crisis on a website when MaryLou came down the stairs, ready to go to the gym. And THAT’s when Dave suggested we go golfing this morning. All three of us. Okay. It didn’t take us long to shift gears and just like that we were teeing off on hole number one at the La Ceiba Golf Course.

Another (surprisingly?) nice morning here. Sun shining, but not too hot. Birds singing. Trees shedding their blooms in the gentle breeze as Spring is about to spring. MaryLou, who hadn’t golfed with us for nearly a month, was hitting long and straight off the tee. And so were Dave and I. And with no one ahead to hold us up, and no one behind to pressure us, we had a lovely walk around the front nine.

MaryLou bid us adieu after nine and went home while Dave and I continued to hole number ten. More of the same. By now it was around eleven o’clock and it was warming up a bit. I’d finished the water in my water bottle and was happy to see Joaquín come around with the beverage cart at the twelfth par three. By the time we got to the last couple of holes the heat was beginning to take its toll. So it was especially satisfying for me to NOT blow the last hole and finish the round with a score of 96, breaking a hundred for the first time since we’ve been here.

It felt great to be back in our air-conditioned apartment. Dave fried up a hamburger and I made myself a sandwich, and after a refreshing shower we were back to our stations. Then it was happy hour and another episode of Marvellous Mrs Maisel.

Dave and MaryLou reflect the setting sun on our evening walk through the golf course.

MaryLou had been busy organizing supper plans for today, and by six o’clock we were in an Uber on our way to a pizza restaurant about halfway to Ken and Kaaren’s place where they would meet us halfway! Which they did. They arrived with another goody bag of leftover condiments and groceries for us. They’d had their final home inspection and were packed and ready for their bus ride to Cancun tomorrow. Friday Night Pizza would be our “last supper”.

It’s been so good to have the Neufelds here for the past month. I’ve enjoyed getting to know them better and will miss them. Ken and Kaaren have invited us to join them for a number of tours and adventures. Ken and Dave and I have golfed quite a few games together, and Kaaren’s company has been a life-saver for MaryLou, who otherwise has been the lonely ‘golf widow’.

We said goodbye and while the Neufelds ‘ubered’ south back to their place for one last night in Merida, we headed north to La Ceiba. Our Uber driver tonight was a dentistry student who was eager to practice his English. He dropped us off at our mini-market where I picked up the essentials of life (bread and Coke) before walking back to our place. It had been a ‘good Friday’.

A lazy Saturday

The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied. Proverbs 13:4

I made a pot of coffee when I came downstairs this morning. And then I made another one. And then Dave decided we should go out for breakfast. So we did. We ‘ubered’ down to Los Benes, a fine Mexican breakfast restaurant just down the road from La Ceiba. Thankfully, no wait list at the entrance. We got a table and ordered our eggs and toast. When MaryLou asked our very attentive waiter if we might have some jam for our toast, he politely informed her that yes, we could order that, but it would be an extra charge. No matter, says Dave, just bring us some jam. After waiting much too long for that jam to appear, the waiter finally emerged from the kitchen with two plates of sliced ham. Dave and MaryLou look astonished. NO! not ham — JAM! Oh, our waiter says with a look of utter embarrassment. He disappears into the kitchen and soon returns with two paper cups of ‘jam’ and many apologies for his misunderstanding.

After finishing my huevos revueltos (scrambled eggs), I took an Uber back home while Dave and MaryLou took another Uber to the grocery store.

The Driedgers went to the pool for the afternoon and I spent much of the rest of the day fixing up some website issues and watching golf on TV. This weekend’s PGA tour event is being played in Mexico City. That means that even if our fancy ‘Rocket TV’ stutters too much due to internet hiccups, we can get the tournament on ‘regular’ broadcast TV, but with Spanish commentary. Well, it’s not really such a big deal that the announcers are whispering their play-by-play in Spanish rather than in English — either way, it’s a fine accompaniment for an afternoon nap.

Soon it was happy hour again — and another episode of “Marvelous Mrs Maisel”. Dave had replenished our supply of wieners and buns and was eager to fry up some hotdogs for our evening meal. While I cleaned up the supper dishes Dave took an inventory of the movies available to us on our ‘Rocket TV’ for tonight’s viewing pleasure. After much clicking and browsing his first choice turned out to be a bust: the Spanish subtitles did not help us to understand the Danish dialogue. Back to the main menu. His next choice was “Brother’s Nest”, an Australian film. Too bad there weren’t subtitles for that one! It was labeled a ‘comedy/thriller’, but I didn’t catch the comedy and I dozed off before it got ‘thrilling’. When I came to, MaryLou was gone and Dave was watching yet another show. By ten o’clock we’d had enough ‘entertainment’; Dave turned off the TV, grabbed his Dan Brown book, and headed upstairs to bed. I followed soon after.

Oscar Night in Merida

Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness 1 Timothy 4:7

Sunday morning. I read my book for a couple of hours before getting out of bed and heading downstairs. Coffee, yogurt, and bread with peanut butter. At eight I turned on CBS and we watched Sunday Morning. Oscars, Oscars, Oscars.

Dave: We should go golf nine holes. So we put on our golf shorts, dabbed a bit of SPF-50 on our nose, made sure we had a 50 peso note to tip the caddy, and off we trudged to the course. Whenever the sun came out from behind the few clouds that are up there, it was hot.

It’s a short walk, maybe a hundred yards down our road, to the golf course. We take a cart path between the ninth green and the first tee, then pass the starter’s booth and the pro shop, past the large putting green, to the clubhouse. The patio at the clubhouse overlooks the driving range, and many mornings there are a couple of golf pros giving lessons there. The caddies usually see us coming and by the time we reach them they’ve brought out our clubs and pull carts. We store our golf shoes with our clubs, so we sit down and change out of our sandals and then go back to the starter’s booth at the first tee.

MaryLou was joining us for the first nine. We waited for a family, a couple and their two girls, who were ahead of us. Oh boy. I hope they can see us standing on the tee box with our hands on our hips, waiting, because they are all over the fairway and it looks like Dad’s giving lessons along the way. It’s a fine way for a family to enjoy the afternoon, but they really should let us play through.

But they didn’t. So after finishing hole two the three of us skipped a hole and it was clear sailing from there. But it was HOT. MaryLou went home after we finish the ninth, but Dave and I decided to continue on and do the back nine. Thankfully it got a bit cloudier and for much of the back nine we were quite comfortable. We even had a few raindrops for a couple of minutes on the sixteenth.

It really is very lovely here — little yellow kiskadees, red-headed woodpeckers, white herons, lazy iguanas sunning themselves on the rocks beside the cart path, beautiful homes lining the green fairways, protected from our errant shots by lush trees — giant ceibas, royal palms, and even some tall bamboos — and every so often, just for contrast, there is a tree in bloom — yellow, red, pink, orange, purple, or white flowers. Glorious!

When we got to the eighteenth tee I sent MaryLou a text and she joined us on the patio bar for lunch. Ceviche camarones (shrimp) and a Modello Especial. Great. I Facetimed with the kids for about half an hour after lunch. They, together with a group of their friends, are ‘stuck’ in Grand Forks for an extra long weekend. The wind and snow has closed the road going home, so Max will get to play in the pool with many of his friends for an extra day. Fun times.

Back at the house, we showered and rested from our hard work on the course. Dave made caesars for happy hour and we watched another episode of Mrs Maisel while the Raptors lost their game and the Jets were getting ready to lose theirs.

MaryLou made pasta with meat sauce and a salad for supper. When we’d finished eating it was time to queue up the Academy Awards show.

For the last ten years, maybe twenty, I’ve watched as many of the Oscar-nominated movies (if not all) as I could before the awards night. I’d seen most of this year’s list, although I did not see the Black Panther movie. Of course, the Driedgers seem to watch all the movies all year through, so for them this is no big deal. There were few surprises during tonight’s show. In the end I guess everything turned out the way it was supposed to. After it was over MaryLou went to bed. I sat on the couch until Dave, on his way up the stairs, woke me up and told me to go to bed. So I did.

A bit of housekeeping

It will be on the seventh day that he shall shave off all his hair: he shall shave his head and his beard and his eyebrows, even all his hair. He shall then wash his clothes and bathe his body in water and be clean. Leviticus 14:9

By the time I got downstairs this morning Dave had the coffee made. While the Driedgers made plans for an excursion I ate my yogurt and half a banana. I had two important things on my agenda: laundry and getting a haircut. By the time the Driedgers left for a day trip into the city centre, I had the first load in the washer.

After catching up with all the Oscar scuttlebutt from last night, I read my book. Once my second load of laundry was in the dryer I walked to the mini-super at the front gate. I had been feeling a bit sorry for Dave and MaryLou — they were going to go for a long walk up and down Paseo Montejo, the main street in the city centre, and I thought it would be way too hot to do that in the middle of the day. But now, as I walked out of our country club, it didn’t seem that hot, especially when the sun went behind the clouds.

There was a hair salon in the little strip mall at the corner, where our long driveway meets the highway. I thought I might try to get a haircut there, but when I got there a sign on the door announced that as of February 25th they were closed! Good timing! I called an Uber to come pick me up on the highway. On her last visit to the big Chedraui store, MaryLou had noticed a barber shop right there in the grocery store. I would try that.

Although the woman cutting my hair couldn’t speak a word of English, together we managed to find a bowl that was just the right size. I’m not very fussy about haircuts and usually prefer speed over small-talk. (Why is it that hairdressers and dentists want to talk talk talk?) Not too much talking going on here! This woman would get a big tip from me — I gave her nearly twice the six dollars she charged me.

I ordered and ate my lunch at the deli counter. Then I bought the last four chocolate-covered donuts from the in-store bakery, picked up a few grocery items, and took an Uber back home. I had barely stashed my donuts away when Dave and MaryLou returned from their outing. They had also picked up a few groceries on their way home; I added the chocolate donuts that Dave had bought to the box of donuts I’d just put in the fridge. Looks like we have dessert for tonight taken care of.

Dave and I went for a quick nine holes of golf just before four o’clock. Great golfing temperature. Quick round. A couple of pars for me. When we got back we had happy hour. We watched another Mrs Maisel episode. Then I went upstairs to “bathe my body in water and be clean”.

For supper Dave made hotdogs and MaryLou a salad. When we’d watched the final episode of season one of Mrs Maisel we queued up the next series: season 3 of “True Detective”. If the first episode is any indication, we’ll have no trouble staying awake through this series. After the show Dave and I did a bit of research to find out who sang the opening and closing songs of tonight’s show. The music was great!

I finished off the evening by watching a bit of news up in my bedroom before falling asleep in my nice fresh and clean bedding.

And now for something completely different…

Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? Isaiah 43:19

No, I’m NOT doing a new thing. I’m having too much fun doing the same old same old. Sure, it makes for a very boring journal entry, but I’m okay if you don’t read this.

I had another good day today. Here are the highlights:
breakfast, golf with Dave, lunch on the clubhouse patio, shower, reading, happy hour, Facetime with Max, supper at a restaurant, groceries from Walmart, Uber home, watch “True Detective”, watch the Winnipeg Jets lose, bedtime.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Early Morning Golf

If you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Proverbs 3:24

I was awake early this morning. When I got downstairs Dave was making coffee and MaryLou was upstairs getting ready to go golfing. Okay! By seven o’clock we were teeing off. The conditions were great, even if not all our shots were.

MaryLou left us after nine, but Dave and I pressed on. By the time we were done I’d broken a hundred again. We parked our clubs in the storage at the clubhouse and headed back home. It was 11:00. Nearly time for lunch. I made a quick trip to the mini-super to get some sandwich fixings.

Dave suggested we watch another episode of “True Detective” after lunch. We were all ready to begin when Dave decided that he should have a little nap first. Okay. I read my book and MaryLou continued working on her computer. After Dave’s short nap we got back to our places and Dave queued up the program on our TV. We watched a couple of minutes and then the picture froze. Oh oh. Internet is flaky. Restart. We got a few minutes further into the program before it froze again. After at least 5 starts and stops Dave turned the TV off. Not working. Now MaryLou decided to have a nap. I tried reading for a while longer, but soon I too was fast asleep on my couch. So that’s how we spent our afternoon!

“True Detective” on TV

A couple of hours later we gave it another try. Dave made caesars and started up the TV. Better. Still not perfect — but now we got at least ten or fifteen minutes between restarts. We watched two episodes before supper.

MaryLou made 3 little salads and we each helped ourselves to leftover pasta, warmed up in the microwave. After supper I did the dishes and MaryLou went upstairs to work. Dave was busy playing games on his iPad. I figured if the Driedgers were done watching TV for the evening I would use this opportunity to watch the movie “Wildfire”, which the Driegers watched a couple of weeks ago.

Dave hung around for a while before heading upstairs. I enjoyed the movie quite a lot — although it was quite a bleak story. I noticed that our ‘Rocket TV’ had a bunch of new movies listed in the menu, so after my movie I watched a new documentary about the “Panama Papers”. At around eleven o’clock I shut things down downstairs and headed up to bed for yet some more “sweet sleep”.

We go to the zoo

In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. Acts 10:12

Dave’s and Rudy’s tee shots end up side-by-side.

Dave and I went golfing early this morning. The conditions were great — not too hot, a light breeze. Too bad we had to stand around and enjoy it while we watched the jerks ahead of us taking their sweet time. We finally had seen enough and at hole 7 we jumped past them to the ninth. And from there on it was clear sailing.

When we got home I ordered a big jug of water and a bag of ice from the mini-super. A guy on his motorcycle delivered that a short while later. We had lunch. I called my mom. Dave wanted to leave by 1:30. We ordered an Uber and got a ride into Merida. We were going to the zoo!

The zoo is surrounded by a large park in the middle of the city. Entrance to the park was free. We saw lots of kids and old folks sitting in the shade, enjoying the day. The ‘animals’ part is near the back. You could smell it as we got closer. The number of animals in the zoo is actually quite impressive! Lots of exotic animals, all in small cages, one right next to the other. You don’t have to do a lot of walking to see the whole thing. It’s actually a bit depressing. The animals all seemed to look a bit sad, pacing their cages in the heat of the day, and the zoo visitors didn’t look too much more enthused! Dave had budgeted about an hour there — and I don’t think we over-stayed.

Well, that still left quite a bit of time before our 6 o’clock movie, which was playing in a large mall not too far from the zoo. What to do? We don’t really want to sit on a hard concrete picnic bench at the zoo all afternoon. We took an Uber to the mall. Surely we would find a nice pub or restaurant where we could relax for a few hours and visit over a cool drink.

When we got to the mall all we found as far as restaurants went was a big food court. MaryLou took a look outside to see if perhaps there were some better options across the street. No, it seems we are in a bit of an industrial park. There was a door next to the back entrance that led to a casino. I checked with the security guard and was told that yes, there was a small bar and restaurant upstairs. And that’s how the three of us found ourselves sitting at a small table next to the constant jingle jangle cacophony of banks and banks of VLTs. At least the drinks were cheap!

About an hour before movie time we headed downstairs to the food court. I was really interested in trying the “Los Trompos” Mexican food, but after a few samples from a Chinese food booth next to Los Trompos I changed my mind and opted for that. So that was supper.

We went to buy our movie tickets. The movie was a National Geographic documentary called “Free Solo” (links to the National Geographic website). It won the academy award for best documentary. It’s about a guy who climbs the face of El Capitan, a cliff in Yosemite National Park in Northern California. Apparently it is one of the most challenging climbs in the world, and this documentary is about a guy who attempts to climb that cliff without safety ropes. One mistake and he will plummet to his death. Talk about “death-defying” feats! I’m not really all that keen on ‘defying’ death — I don’t even understand WHY someone would WANT to do that. But I must say, I found the movie exhilarating and my palms were sweaty for most of the hour and a half. The guy may well be crazy, but the movie is very well done and captures the extraordinary feat. I felt like I too was up there on the side of that cliff.

After the movie we stopped to buy some more Clamato juice at the Chedraui grocery store in the mall before climbing into our Uber for a long quiet ride home. Our driver seemed to have a tough time following Siri’s directions but eventually we arrived back at our little mini-superette. We walked to our apartment from there and didn’t sit around downstairs for very long before heading off to bed. I tried to watch a bit of The National on my TV upstairs, but the internet was slow — too slow to upload my collection of ‘zoo’ photos — so I turned everything off and went to sleep.

The waiting is the hardest part

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with [some golfers] one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 2 Peter 3:8
And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? Psalm 39:7

MaryLou and her caddy/coach.
MaryLou and her caddy/coach.

I was up early and at around 6:30 I went downstairs to make coffee. MaryLou had already been sitting at her computer for an hour and a half, as she does every morning. When Dave joined us there was still a question as to whether we’d go golfing this morning, but after he had cooked up his pot of steel-cut oats and had his morning mug of coffee and Baileys he felt sufficiently fortified and ready to hit the links. MaryLou would join us for the first nine holes. We collected our assorted frozen bottles of water, lathered up in SPF-50, and marched out to the clubhouse. Unfortunately there were several groups ahead of us on the first tee. The starter came over and suggested we golf the back nine first: the ladies in the foursome ahead of us were VERY slow, too much bla-bla bla-bla. So that’s what we did.

When we’d finished the back nine we continued on to the first tee. Now we would be waiting. And waiting. The three jerks ahead, each in their own golf cart, were all over the course. And when they got to the green they slowly shuffled on, lined up their putts, lined them up again, rolled the ball in the general direction of the pin, rolled it a bit closer, rolled it a bit too far, watched one of the other guys roll their ball at the pin, etc. Ho-hum. While Dave and I watched from the second tees, a 140-yard par 3, they each helped the other guy FIND their ball after their first shot, before each taking a turn at trying to get their ball onto the green. Unfortunately one guy had landed his shot into the sand trap at the front of the green. He tossed the rake out beside the trap, grabbed his club, and took a HUGE whack at the ball. Sand sprayed out onto the front of the green but the ball stayed in the trap. He flailed at the ball again. Lots of sand sprayed out onto the green. Still no ball. He dug FOUR big ditches in that trap before the ball finally soared out over the green and onto the lawn of the home behind the green. No raking the trap after the landscaping he’d done in there. No, after all three had nicely taken turns putting their ball all around the hole, the again ambled off the green, back to their carts and on to the next tee. It would be a LONG morning!

Too long for us! We were waiting halfway down the fourth fairway, standing and waiting in the hot sun, watching these hackers doinking around on the green ahead. What a joke. We considered skipping this hole and jumping ahead of them, but the four ladies taking turns dribbling their ball off the tee on hole number five looked to be even worse than these guys. Hopeless. What’s the point? We put our clubs back in our bags and towed our carts back home. Maybe tomorrow.

I made myself a sandwich for lunch. Dave fried up a burger. I showered and put in a load of laundry. Then I came downstairs and checked out my egret photos and worked on a crossword puzzle. Dave, ensconced in his usual spot on the couch, alternated between reading a page or two in his Dan Brown novel and sliding little coloured tiles around on his iPad game. Just before two o’clock MaryLou came down for a few minutes to make herself a sandwich before going back up to her room.

Then Dave started up our TV — time to watch a few episodes of “True Detective”. We were about halfway through our episode when Angel, the worker from our neighbour’s house, came by to do his weekly mopping of our floors. So I took my crossword upstairs and sat in the warm afternoon shade on our balcony while Angel cleaned the house. When he was done we continued our “True Detective” marathon event.

We had the last of the eight episodes left when it was time for supper. We walked to the mini-superette and took an Uber into the Las Americas development across the highway. The Bella Roma was a ‘sister’ restaurant to the Antika Roma in Altabrisa we’d visited about a month ago. Friday night is pizza night. The wood-fired ovens wouldn’t start up until 8 o’clock, so we ordered drinks and shared a salad while we waited for our pizzas. Very nice little restaurant. Food was good. Service very good.

Dave, Rudy, and MaryLou at Bella Roma

By 9:30 we were back home. We’d made a pitstop at our mini-superette to pick up some freshly-baked brownies and a quart of almond ice cream. Dave had the Raptors game on the big TV and the Jets hockey game on his iPad. Both games were close, with the home teams (the good guys) winning in the last minute or two. There was much joy in Mudville tonight!

The tension of two close games finally over, it was time for dessert and the final episode of “True Detective”. Dave called MaryLou down from her room and spooned out the ice cream over our brownies.