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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Internet regained and golf balls lost

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

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

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

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

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

Fishing for balls near the 17th green.

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

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

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

A Day Off

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

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

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

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

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

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

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