Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas in Cozumel

Christmas (although I only really felt Christmassy for 24 hours) has been nice in Cozumel. People here are pretty religious so Christmas is a big thing. Most celebrate on Christmas Eve. I went to a friend's house for Christmas Eve and ate chili's stuffed with cheese and rice - very nice. I stayed up talking until 2am which is pretty late for me. I enjoyed spending Christmas with one of my new close friends. I have to say I did miss family. My parents went to church with my brother and his new girlfriend. They did all of the usual things on Christmas Day - family gathering at my uncle Rob's House; lunch at home - I imagine they all sat around and watched television having over eaten in the evening; Boxing Day with Judith and Robin.
So last night I decided to walk around town tonight practicing with my new camera - taking shots of Christmas in Cozumel. I took a little video of this Santa - I pass this house every day on the way to yoga and see Santa rocking away:
video
The town square has a big nativity scene:The main Ocean Drive is festooned with street lights:A huge tree, complete with snowman family, stands by the Ocean just West of the main square:Lots of Church Services (and no Mam and Dad, I did not make it to Church but I do now have the schedule on my refrigerator - which is a step closer):I'm looking forward to a year even more full of changes next year. My fortune cookie today said 'don't let doubt bar your progress' - a good piece of advice for 2009.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

2008/9

Here I am sitting at my computer thinking about the New Year and its Christmas Eve tomorrow:)

We had a last yoga class for 2008 last night and Selene suggested that over the holidays we sit and write down a list of the bad things in our life from 2008. For for me these are mostly to do with negative thoughts and feelings - insecurities/ self doubts. I made a pretty specific list.

She then suggests that we go to a quiet place and read this list and make a conscious decision to say goodbye to those negative patterns - I think I'm going to find a nice quiet area of beach and burn my list and perhaps tell those feelings I have no time for them any more - if I'm going to be talking to myself it will have to be a pretty quiet area of beach!

Then we are to put together a list of things we'd like in our lives in 2009. My dreams for 2009 are pretty simple. I'm going to meditate on that list, in the sun and then again try to manifest those wishes by saying them out loud. I guess praying is what I'll be doing.

This has been a pretty mad year for me. I feel very contented since I moved to Cozumel - but I still think I have a lot of fucked-up-ness to let go of. 2009 will be an interesting year.

I think I'm going to take a day between Christmas and New Year to go to the beach and meditate on throwing out the old and being brave enough to press ahead with the new, because I have friends in town over New years and I think things will be pretty hectic.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wind and Kite Surfing

Miguel had an ear infection and was not able to dive for much of last week and so when I heard that there was a Kite and Wind Surfing Competition near to my hotel I called Miguel and we went to check it out:
http://www.cozumeldigitalcreations.com/video/client.php?title=annavima.mov&code=5228429284
Those are my feet walking through the sand (notice the lack of any nasty blemishes). It was a nice day, despite Miguel sneaking off to hide and taking lots of video on me! We didn't manage to get much of the kite surfing but, believe me, it was pretty cool. This was on Friday and the wind was pretty good. It had calmed down for Saturday which was a bit of a fly in the ointment for the competitors.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Rich vs. poor

Its funny, since I've been in Cozumel I have not missed my NY salary. Now, by New York standards I was not wealthy by any means, but if I was careful with my money I could go on nice vacations/ holidays several times a year. I could afford to buy myself nice clothes. If there was something I wanted I could usually buy it and pay for it later without too much to worry about. I could eat out with friends whenever I wanted, buy nice birthday and Christmas gifts for friends. I earned more than anyone in my family and most of my friends in the UK: I guess its not that nice that that meant something to me - but it was somewhat of an accomplishment. I'd set out to do well in business and I had. BUT I became very disallusioned (not sure how the heck you spell that word) with wealth. I found wealthy people to be not at all content. I found myself reading books on Buddhism and the connection between mental anguish and the material world - always needing to be better, richer, have more possessions is not good for the soul - I agreed with this.
When I left New York part of what I was making a conscious decision to leave was the materialism of the city as well as my healthy New York salary. Its funny, yesterday was the first day I had anything like a pang for my wealthier past. My friend's Christine and Cat are coming down for New Year and its suddenly struck me I could look online for clothes and have them shipped to Christine for her to bring down. Suddenly I was crazed by the urge to spend ridiculous amounts of money on clothes as I trawled through Banana Republic, J Crew and French Connection's web sites. Then I realized that my Abercrombie sweat shirt had not made it to Mexico with me. Suddenly I desperately needed THAT sweatshirt. Also that day, I'd had a telephone call with my mother, who is now retired but running an increasingly successful child psychology business. Currently she has two part time jobs (1 & 1/2 days a week) I think which will pay her more money in a week than I make in a month. Don't get me wrong - I'm really proud of my mother and not jealous so much as feel like as my parents get older I should be the wealthier one so that, if I need to look after them one day, I am able to. Well that, and again I guess, a pride thing.
I also got an e-mail from my friend Lisa telling me her kids would miss me at Christmas time and it reminded me of how I would love to get them nice Christmas gifts. My mum also told me that she and my aunt had talked about how they would miss my gifts this year (I guess I'm the only one who buys them girly gifts - from NY too - which was nice for them). All of these things just hit me, as things I missed, a little yesterday.
Its funny though - I earned good money today and yesterday at work (we work only on commission so it varies) and really since I've been here money has been fine.
I don't really recall wanting to do something but not being able to because I didn't have enough money. Most of what I do here does not cost a lot. It is bound to be a little difficult for me when I see Christine and Cat who are living my old kind of lifestyle, but on the whole I think I have gained more than I have given up. There is no need for me to feel like I have to spend money and go out to dinner every night. Cat has already told me that she wants to have a really relaxing time and have a detox and I know Christine understands and respects what I am doing. Its me hankering after my old ways that worries me, not Cat and Christine. I guess its a bit like being an alcoholic in a bar. But really, who needs a bunch of new clothes, or to eat and drink tons! I have to admit that I recently spent $20 on two Clarins lip glosses which is not really in keeping with my new lifestyle - but I do like to buy myself little presents from time to time.
In summation - I'd say I had a little panic attack about not being wealthy anymore and then decided all is fine. I have no debt, money in the bank, air miles to fly to New York, a brother who works for BA and can get me free flights home and a pretty darn good lifestyle down here. If my parents get sick I have time to go home and be with them, and they don't need money. I have not been stressed since I arrived and smile everyday on the way to work. Right now I'm off to meditation to work on my manipura chakra. Life is good - but I may have to re-read some of the Dali Lama's books to calm my little material desires.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

26 Again


So a few weekends ago I went out to a party and then Carlos and Charlies with my friend Jimena (on the right) and her two friends from Mexico City. Jimena is only 26 but very mature for her age and with my immaturity we're pretty much the same age:) There girls are all gorgeous and skinny and I felt like a bit of an oldie. I'm usually not a big fan of Carlos and Charlies but this was the 5 year anniversary and it was a little less crazy than usual (or perhaps that is just because I said my goodbye's at midnight. Anyway a very nice night out being 26 again! Of course the next day I had to have a long afternoon snooze!!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sophia's Birthday Saturday

On to more savory topics, this weekend was Sophia's Birthday. After a week of pretty much no work, I'd decided to officially take the day off. Of course the referral couple I'd planed to start on Sunday decided to move their dives up to Saturday. They wanted to start at 12.30 and during my briefing at Sunset beach realized that they did not have their booties. There was nothing for it but for them to go back to the hotel to get them. So an hour later we were in the water. At 4 I was just finishing up after the second dive.
I try to be very relaxed when I am teaching but after saying my goodbyes I dove into me car, careered home in/ out of the shower and was on the ferry by 4.45 - phew - not bad going. I kind of like the ferry journey to Playa. I tend to watch my i-pod on the way there, it like time stands still for 45 mins and you can feel like watching 45 mins of True Blood is a very useful way to spend your time.
Hans and Allie met me off the ferry and we walked up 5th Ave. Playa is getting BUSY! We stopped for a glass of wine in a posh wine bar on 5th and then met Sophia, her boyfriend Graham and other friend (who's name escapes me) in a nice little Italian restaurant.
I'll be honest I ate like a pig. I'd been eating at home all week. Baked potatoes and tuna, pasta and sauce and the odd fish taco. Also that day all I'd managed to eat since breakfast was a snickers bar. So I inhaled dinner (as well as some bread and cheese in the wine bar earlier!). Hey its good to over eat from time to time.
At 10.15 I was flagging. I have to admit I REALLY like to sleep on the ferry on the way home. I get three seats and lie down and pass out for 45 mins - the sound of the engine is very soothing, as is being rocked side to side. I kind of left the group a little earlier than I could have because the ferry usually loads at 10.40 (leaves at 11) and I figured I could squeeze in an extra 20 mins sleeping. The journey was as good as usual -a fantastic 1hr 15min cozy sleep.
It was a very nice evening with good friends. Felt just like being in New Jersey for the night. HAPPY 30TH BIRTHDAY SOPHIA!!!!!!!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Third Nipple...

Today I saw my first, third nipple. I was standing minding my own business, passing the time of day with Jose in the dive shop, when in walked a guy asking to rent snorkel equipment. I glanced over - normal looking guy - BUT HOLD UP - what was this. I was confronted with, not 2 BUT 3 nipples. Here is what I saw:Luckily I was not involved in the whole snorkel renting transaction because I was in deep thought - was it a real nipple just like the other two? As you can see from the diagram it did not have its own boob. What do you think of this? Does anyone else have any third nipple experiences?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Feet... Be Responsible

Those who know me will know that I have a bit of a thing for feet. I've been known to go off great guys after a day at the beach when a fungal toe nail has come to light. I once spent two hours watching a guy I liked snoozing with no socks on trying to reconcile myself to his knarled feet. I can't stand nasty feet touching mine. You get the picture.
So you can imagine my horror when during a yoga class I glanced down at my big toe - there it was A TOE WART (Veruga in Spanish). It was pretty small and toe colored but all the same - there it was.
Denial came first, then blame (I remembered setting up a pose with my head lent back staring at the bottom of a co-classmate's foot soles - big black verruca - I MUST HAVE CAUGHT IT OFF NASTY FOOT GIRL - you know who you are), then shame. Uuurrrgghh how could this happen to me. I'm so careful - it is for this reason that I bought my own yoga mat and I always wear protection (flip flops) in public showers.
OK so no use crying over spilled milk, I reasoned. I had to go to the pharmacy and explain my nasty situation. I was given a bottle of liquid and told to apply it once a day. I figured once every two hours might be more prudent in the circumstances.
You will all be relieved to know that the said affliction has been removed. I have a little scar which is well on the way to healing. The world has almost returned to balance. In a few weeks I will have forgotten this unpleasant little episode.
This has been a pretty traumatic experience for me and I would like to ask everyone to take a little look at the soles of their feet. Anything worty down there? If so its contageous and very easily treatable so please act responsibly and deal with the situation.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Exercise

Well these past three months have been a bit of a bust exercise wise for me. The last month in New York was too hectic and since I got here I've just been a bit apathetic (its too hot, too humid, I have too much to organize, its my first week of work, there are no good gyms - bla, bla, bla). Well the time has come to kick all of those excuses to the curb. I do not need a gym to work out. I have running shoes and free weights and I know exactly what to do with them.
So today I finished work early came home and changed right into my running gear. OK lets see what I can do. It all started well. But after 15 mins things started to get tough (bear in mind that only three months ago in NYC I was running 40-50mins each day before work). OK I decided, its the first day. Tomorrow I'm going to aim for 20 mins, then 25, 30 and so on. Its always difficult to move from tread mill to street and after a 2 month break what did I expect.
Refusing to become disheartened I walked briskly home and pulled out my free weights. I have all of the old work out schedules that I did with my personal trainer Anna in NJ and did a thirty min upper body routine. In less than 1 1/2 hours every day I can run and do a weights routine - also I have yoga.
I love my yoga class and rely on it for upkeep of my general feeling of well being but it is not pushing me physically. I think my arms may be sore tomorrow but Its nice to have made the first step back int0 a regular exercise routine.

Out with friends

Friday night I headed over to Playa for a girls night out. Sophia was back from NJ (with a new book for me!); Allie met me from the ferry and we walked up to Sophia's new gym to meet her. Sophia walked us round her gym and I must admit I was filled with the desire to get back into my crazy exercise routine. Just look at the locker rooms:

And the new state of the art equipment would put even the best NY gyms to shame. Unfortunately Cozumel has no such luxury gyms. In fact I have yet to find a gym with a working treadmill! There is a gym being built just behind Chedraui though. Apparently this gym will be around $80 per month. When I start earning some money this will be well worth it. Once I'd recovered from the envy I felt over Sofia's gym we went off to meet Katie for dinner at Babe's, a Thai restaurant on 5th Ave:
Left to right: Katie, Sophia and Allie
Katie, Allie and I split a bottle of wine. Sophia brought news of friends in New Jersey. Katie is a, very nice, friend of Allie's. She Russian/ Georgian and is the only girl/ person I know who thinks Bull Sharks are 'cute' and is scared to death of butterflies. I would not have believed this if I had not seen her screaming and fleeing in terror from some beautiful red admiral butterflies the last time we all went cave diving together. We then decided to take a stroll down 5th Ave to a bar on the beach for a drink before my ferry. Sophia had problems getting out of her chair after a killer work out with her personal trainer (yup jealousy is a terrible thing), and swaggered down 5th like a cowboy:)
We sat at a bar I'd been two a number of times with Allie. Normally we are either the only table or one of two or three groups sitting on the beach. Tonight we had to wait for a table. It seems the high season is hitting Playa Del Carmen before Cozumel.Allie looking beautiful on the beach
I took the 11pm ferry which was fine. I slept most of the way and was in my bed proper by 12. On Saturday morning I dragged myself into work but it was Javier's day and so I was out of there by 10. I jumped into bed for an hours more sleep (loving these mid day snoozes) and then headed off to see Monica. I was very happy when Monica suggested that we head to the beach and a bar called the 'Money Bar' for lunch.
Beach at money bar
We ate too much, and then retired to sun loungers to digest the food and discuss our weeks and plans for the weeks to come. We definitely decided to try to go diving together next weekend. Its been a while for Monica and she needs a refresher but I think she'll be a nice dive buddy:Monica in the sun
We also went swimming a few times. The Ocean was flat calm and you could see pipe fish and others schooling below. Monica is truly one of the most content people I've ever met and a pleasure to spend time with. We pretty much share the same views on many topics and have no problem filling hours musing over exercise, relationships, ways to make money while not working too hard, spiritual stuff. Its nice.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Relaxing weekend

I was able to take Sunday of work; Hans is back in NJ for the week so Allie decided to come over for the weekend. We had a really great time. First a glass of wine on my balcony and then dinner at Especias. 1.5 Tequila LoungeEspecias is on 5th Street on the corner with 10th Avenue. I recommend this restaurant highly. I had a shrimp curry and Allie a tuna steak. Very tasty. There was also a guitarist who sang 'Piano Man' in Spanish. Probably some of the best food on Cozumel. By popular demand I brought my camera along:
After dinner we retired back to the balcony for another glass of wine and a debrief on the 7 days since we'd last seen each other. It had been a busy week. I'd started working, Allie had started German classes. We also like to trade yoga stories. Allie is studying to be a yoga teacher and I like to hear what's she's learned and there are were some interesting anecdotes from my week of classes with Selene.
On Saturday morning we had breakfast at Jeanie's Waffle House (great freshly squeezed orange juice) and then drove to the East side of the Island via its Southern point. Driving South we stopped to look at (and feel) blow holes on the craggy shore line. The rocks on the water's edge cover underwater caves and holes in the roofs of these caves blast out air and spray every time a wave floods the cave. When the wave ebbs back to the ocean a vaccum is created in the cave and air is sucked back in. The air sucks in and blows out with quite some force. Allie had previously described this on her blog as sounding like the ocean was breathing - pretty cool - like a sleeping dragon. Its a reminder of how powerful, as well as peaceful, the ocean is.Then we went to my favorite beach spot - Punta Morena. As you can see the beach is pretty crowded: I love to watch the surfers off to the left and then swim off to the right of the point. We didn't swim today because, although the air temperature was around 82 degrees, there was a cool breeze and we decided drying off might be a little chilly (we did not want to risk goose bumps - I know my friends freezing in NY will appreciate this).

Friday, November 7, 2008

How I'm feeling about my move to Mexico

I feel very at home in my new apartment. I keep things very clean so there have been no roach sightings for weeks.

I sleep very well. In New York I would fall asleep staring at my ceiling fan and in that moment before I'd drop off I'd feel very lonely. New York is a very anonymous city and you feel pretty insignificant there. Here I tend to go to bed not long after finishing yoga or Meditation, or hanging out with friends. I fall asleep feeling well with a cool wind breezing over me.

Which brings me onto yoga and Meditation. I'm pretty much going to class ever day during the week. Its affecting me quite profoundly. On the physical level I can almost feel all of the bones and muscles in my body pulling back into place after years of being hunched over a computer in an office. On a spiritual level things are definitely moving. I have always found patience and acceptance of things 'just as they are' to be very difficult. I'm a fixer and standing still is not always comfortable. Through the chakra work we've been doing I've been able to vent a lot of my frustrations and this has brought about subtle changes in my ability to trust that all will turn out, as it should, in time.

I've made some really nice friends. Of course I have Allie and Hans in Playa and some potentially close friendships developing here. Hoping to spend some time with Allie this weekend.

Being in the Ocean every day is an amazing meditation in itself - I love letting my body float to and fro in the surge off sunset beach. Diving is a time when I am right there in the moment (Zen and the art of scuba diving!). Teaching people to dive tends to bring about excitement and happiness in them which leaves me feeling pretty warm.

What do I miss. Well this is a tough one. I miss my gym and wish there was an air conditioned gym with a treadmill close by. I miss the food in the US - but am loosing weight as a consequence which is no bad thing. I miss friends: Jose, Fernando, Michele, Jeff, Stuart MacD, Carey, Gina V, Christine N & A, the guys at work. I definitely miss my little family at SCB. I also miss my friend Catherine who's working in Germany now. I miss our long talks over glasses of wine, good music and cheese or Sushi. Cat you need to get your flight booked to visit!!

Work

Well I've been working this past week. I really enjoy it. We stand around the pool in the mornings attracting people to take advantage of their free scuba lesson and then dive with them off the beach. I worked almost every day this week. I've had two very nice customers who I really enjoyed teaching - I think they got a lot out of the classes. My co-workers do not get along well but so far it has not caused me too much angst. I'm lovong the peaceful feeling I get from diving every day and its nice to be in a situation where a good mood really affects the money you make. It really does pay to be in a good mood in this job.
My hair has been very dry but I've come to realize that if I rinse it in fresh water immediately after I get out of the ocean it is not too bad. I also have a routine now of putting my sarong on after diving so that I don't mess up all of my clothes. One of the girls from yoga, Sarah, is a massage therapist at Sunset Beach, and its nice to be able to chat to her after my dives.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Majahual

Because I'm starting work on November 1st I decided it would be a good time to have a mini vacation (when I start work I will only get 1 day off a week). I recruited a few friends. Initially Allie, Hans, Josie, Miguel, and Miguel's friend Petros were to come, but Miguel developed an ear infection and, as Allie and Hans had been without electricity for the week, Hans decided that he could not justify taking the time off work. So it turned out that only Josie, Allie could make the trip to Mahajal. I was quite happy that it was to be a girls weekend as I thought the three of us would probably gel better as a group and be more inclined to sit around doing nothing when not diving (I really wanted to relax). So on Saturday morning I took my car over to Playa. Had a nice lunch with Hans, Katie and Patrick, met Allie from yoga and collected Josie from the passenger ferry. We were on the road by 3 and in Majahual by 7. Of course it was very dark by the time we reached our hotel. The manager lead us to our room by flash light and although we could tell that we were on the beach we had no idea what that beach was like. We ate at the hotel - just snacks as we were not that hungry. Hurricane Dean hit Majahual last year and devastated the town . This was very visible on the way through town and we wondered how the hotel grounds had fared. In the morning we all woke up early and were excited to open the door onto a beautiful sunrise over a peaceful bay:The ocean was calm and we all went for a swim as the sun came up. Josie turned out to be the bravest and swam confidently into a bed of seaweed which threw her into the type of girly panic that would befall any self respecting female surrounded by slimy clingy seaweed:) The sun came up over a beautiful (though pretty unkempt) beach. Flowering vines grew on debris left from the hurricane. Crabs scuttled across the sand - burying themselves in little holes - we pondered whether these all connected under the sand into a little crab kingdom. Allie discovered that if you wobbled your belly on the deck chairs you could hear the coffee and orange we'd drank at breakfast sloshing around - yes the air was charged by the level intellect generated by the morning discussions on the deck of our beach bungalow. Abel had procured a fishing boat and some tanks and picked us up at out hotel. As we waited for him Josie realized that the clocks had changed the night before. This placed Abel in the unusual position of arriving early. We had two boat captains and a guy named Rick, who'd just joined us for the ride. Abel seemed well - a little older and shorter hair (also less blond). He was pleased to be spending two days diving as he'd been spear fishing to earn money all year (no money to be made from tourism following Dean). Spear fishing sounds tough - you have to swim out to the barrier reef - an hours swim and then spend hours fishing - often dangerous, he reported getting attacked by a moray eel, interested in his catch and being trapped in a cave he'd gone into after a speared fish. Apparently 3 men had died spear fishing this year. Abel's wife Catherine and daughter, Luna are well and the family is expecting another addition in December. A boy - name to be decided.
If you are interested in the diving in Majahual take a look at my diving blog. It was wonderful reef and great to dive with friends so I could relax and have fun.
After the dive we showered and headed into town for lunch. This is us on the beach in front of the cafe we chose:After lunch we took a walk along the boardwalk and found some beach chairs and cocktails:We were a little tipsy at this point as the cocktails were PRETTY strong. It was a nice time - we talked about life, gossiped about men and people we knew, bit of celebrity gossip, Allie did some handstands on the beach. As the sun started to set we all got to looking at this tree which was pretty cool. The tree was right at the water's edge and clearly dead. It made a majestic siloette against the sky and ocean.
We ate dinner at an Italian restaurant in town then bought candles and retired, with them lit, to the roof of our bungalow to watch the stars. Because there is little light created by the tinsy town of Mahajal the stars were clearly visible. The heavens twinkled and the Milkyway snaked clearly through the center of the sky. Josie showed us that when you fix a star in your peripheral vision it shines brightly but when you move it into your direct gaze you can barely see it. This would be just the place to come to for a romantic get away. I would like to stay for a week with a hot man and plenty of good books.
The cruise ship terminal opens up this week. It is a shame for Majahual that it is not more accessible as it is a wonderful place to come and relax and dive. Not sure that the cruise terminal will necessarily have a positive impact on the town, but more dive tourism might be a good thing. Abel sent his best wishes to all at Scuba Shack. Check out Allie's blog on the trip too.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Crashing Vicki Paradise's Vacation!

Last week Vicki Paradise (a friend and co-worker from New York) e-mailed me to let me know that she, her boyfriend Eddie and friend Derek would be spending a week's vacation in Playa Del Carmen at an all inclusive resort next week. After a few failed attempts we managed to get in touch with each other and planned that I would visit on Thursday. The plan was that they would sneak me into their resort. I was dubious about our chances of success but I knew that Eddie is a very friendly guy and had made friends with all of the staff so I thought - lets give it a go.
The Resort was in Playa Car - my Dad and I had got lost in Playa Car the night we missed the ferry to Cozumel. Its a big ex-pat community which is more like Miami than anywhere resembling Mexico. I asked the cab driver to drop me off a little ways off the entrance and breezed past security. Vicki was there to meet me with Eddie and Derek and we just walked right in.
I have to say the idea of an all inclusive resort has never appealed to me in the past but this place was nice. There is something very relaxing about not having to think about money and being waited on (especially when you have not paid a penny - the frustrated criminal in me got a kick out of this). Here is me on the beach enjoying a cocktail:The resort was beautiful- after the beach we hung out in the pool;
took in a wedding and jumped in the hot tub at the spa to warm up. The weather was perfect.
At around 6 a tropical rainstorm blew in. This was our signal to go and shower for dinner. We went to a nice steak house restaurant which had amazing fish, then we met some of the people we'd hung out at the beach with for after dinner drinks:I made the 11 O'Clock ferry which is a little late for me but I was in bed by 12.
It was really nice to see Vicki and Eddie - just like old times, very natural. Vicki, Eddie - next time try Cozumel so we can hang out more, thank you for a lovely day:)

New Job

Well on my first day of job hunting I got a job at El Cozumeleno Beach Resort
I start work on November 1st. I think it will be pretty hard work physically. Basically the routine is that we hang around the pool in the morning, encouraging people to take scuba lessons. The pool session is free as part of their all inclusive package and then we try to sell them a discover scuba dive. If they agree we head off to Sunset Beach Club to do an intro to scuba dive:
Cozumel Beaches with something for everyone.
The downsides of the job are that I will have to move 5 tanks to the pool every morning then back to the dive shop and then up and down the stairs at Sunset Beach; also I'll be in the pool every day which will be no good for my hair. The upside is that I think I'll enjoy teaching discover scuba. Its quite a high class resort so the guests seem pretty nice. Also the diving is all in one spot so I can really get a good routine going. Before I start I want to dive the spot a few times. I also intend to work out a really nice discover scuba routine. Its also possible to sell 'Scuba diver' and 'Open Water' courses if we can get people interested. There are two other instructors Fernando and Hernan. I spent a day working with Fernando and he seemed really nice.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

What I've been up to...

HAIR
Well I managed to find a hairdresser in Playa who is very good. The salon is called Blue Coiffure. I had my hair highlighted by the owner, Lionel. He is French and definitely an 'artist'. He's very tall and slim and has curly brown hair to his shoulders. He looks like one of the three musketeers and I could easily imagine him smoking a cigarette from a long black cigarette holder. You feel too intimidated by his coolness to question the fact that he charged almost double what was quoted. What he did do, which is very good, is highlight only my roots. My hair is so dry and damaged that I don't want someone to pull highlights all of the way through. here are the results:It looks pretty natural and just as good a job as Marianne in Hoboken. The trouble is he is also very expensive. Actually just as expensive as Marianne and she adds another process - a conditioning toner. I guess what I can afford in future will very much depend on how much money I will be earning when I start working. I am going to investigate other alternatives next time.

BOOKCASE
I bought this bookcase from the local supermarket today. This was very exciting for me. I love to read and I like to be able to select what I'm in the mood for. My books have been stacked in bags in the corner of my bedroom since I got here and I spent a good two hours today organizing the shelves by subject matter and author. I was very pleased with the results. These units were on sale and I'm tempted to get one more of the tall ones, just so I have room to expand. We'll see though as I want to start tightening my belt and getting used to being on a more limited budget.

YOGA
I started taking yoga at a studio called the Shakti Yoga Center. The Owner and main teacher is a lady named Selen. She is very warm and charismatic. After my first class I was so inspired that I signed up for a month. She practices Kundalini yoga (I have also bought a book on this which I am currently reading). This branch of yoga is designed to work through your spine to activate secretions of the pineal gland (this is nothing to do with the man part it sounds like but a gland in the top of the skull). The belief is that raising the activity of the pineal gland can cause major changes in consciousness. The practice is also aimed at disease resistance - balancing the digestive and lymphatic systems. The practice is very spiritual and also involves much meditation.
Three days a week there is regular Kundalini yoga in the mornings and evenings - I will probably only be able to make the evenings when I start work; then Tuesday and Thursday evenings there are more like meditation sessions focused on chakra balancing. This type of yoga was based on the teachings of Yogi Bhajan. Here are some quote from him:
"Whether you call it serpent power, kundalini, the power of Soul Consciousness, or Divine Consciousness, the gift of this divine energy gives a person equilibrium. You must remember that whenever your mind is in a state of equilibrium, you will be radiant. Your spirit will rise like the tide rises. When the moon is near the earth there is a high tide. The same thing happens to the spirit in a person"
"You are spiritual beings here for a human experience"
And I really liked this one:
"Prayer is when the mind is one-pointed and man talks to Infinity. Meditation is when the mind becomes totally clean and receptive and Infinity talks to man"

SPANISH
I guess my progression here is very subtle. I know a lot of words and so can understand quite a bit if I have time to think. The problem I'm having is making the jump to being confident talking. Tomorrow morning at 9am I'm meeting a Mexican lady who is learning English so that we can practice on each other. This could work out very well. I will also study two nights a week with a tutor (Tuesdays and Thursdays). I also am going to have to commit to spending 1 hour a day either watching Mexican television or using this interactive web site I signed up for called Lomas TV. Lomas is really good because it is full of short video clips with subtitles in English and Spanish. You can slow the speech down, rewind and highlight any word you are unsure of for the dictionary definition.

BODY CLOCK
Those of you who know me, know that I am pretty driven by schedules and my body clock is particularly rigid. In New York I would wake up at 5.30 and go to bed at 9. Here I've decided to wake up at 7.30 and go to bed at 11 (crazy late!). Anyway this is working out well so far and will mean I can work during the day and still do things like yoga and hang out with friends in the evening.

WORK
Well tomorrow is the day I start looking for work. The address on my FM3 has been officially changed to Cozumel and my official receipts are being printed. I've made a list of the shops/ resorts I'm going to target so hopefully I'll be lucky. Tomorrow will be busy. Spanish meeting at 9, job hunting all day and yoga in the evening!

CAT
I have decided not to get a cat.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Gato

I have be thinking about getting one or two cats. There is a cat I really like in the humane society called Celo (which is the word for blond in Mayan).
He is very cute. He's about 1 1/2 years old and plays gently with his claws in. There are pro's and cons:
I would love the company and a cuddle from time to time, he will rid my apartment of roaches; this cat seems very easy going and I bet I could put a harness on him to take him outside. The downsides are that I would have to arrange boarding for him if I go on vacation. He would have to have a litter tray in the house which would take some cleaning; my landlord is OK with me having a cat but the lady who looks after the grounds here, Nellie, has some bad experiences of cats pooing in her garden - so I'd have to make sure that did not happen. He'd get lonely which begs the question would two be better? Philipe, my landlord, thinks one at first so as not to upset Nellie.
Its funny, I think getting cats or a dog is almost like having a baby in a 'scaled down' way. When I got Bigsy and Betts I was with Geoff and so we shared the responsibility. This would be me all on my own. Is getting a pet more of a couple thing to do?? I may leave it a little while. Perhaps see how much time I have when I get a job.

Spanish Classes


So today I had my first Spanish class at a small language school called S.E.A. It was really more of an assessment than a class. My tutor is only 23 and seems nice. Her name is also Ana and she has moved to Cozumel, from Mexico City, to get experience as a DJ. We just went over basics after I did a short paper to assess where I was, skill wise. My first class 'proper' is on Wednesday and then we will decide on a more permanent schedule. I'm thinking of 3 classes a week for now until I start working and then perhaps two nights a week, moving down to 1 when I get better.
Other EXCITING news for today is that the lady downstairs Barbara, was in Cancun this weekend and got me a salad spinner. These are great here as you have to wash all of your salad in a disinfecting solution before eating it. You can soak things for 15 mins in the salad spinner then spin it dry.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

National Association of Women in Business

On Saturday night my accountant invited me to an event held by the National Association of Women Business Owners, Cozumel branch. This was pretty interesting. I sat with Regina and her sister:There were speeches and presentations in Spanish which I didn't really understand but I get about 30% of what is being said and I enjoy listening and trying to put together the missing pieces. Regina's sister Alexandra lives in Guadalajara and has her own business designing and producing purses. I also met a lady, Lourdes who owns a gym near my building (I did check this out and there are no tread mills or working A/C so its not for me.
Anyway this even was populated by the old wealth in Cozumel. The ladies were very well dressed and from what I could make out from the speeches were pretty accomplished women. I may go to mare events of this group. Definitely good contacts to be made here:
I once thought that I was a very good judge of character. Later in life, I have decided that I have a terrible read on people. The woman who won the award for 'heart of gold', for example, looked very dull, adorned in designer duds and dripping jewlary, sitting next to her wealthy American husband. Then they started talking about her life and showing a slide show with pictures of her as a child and as a young woman sitting in a field of grass, then with children, and she looked nice and like her life had been full of adventures - her husband also looked nice as a young man and suddenly I viewed the couple in a very different way. I'm going to have to work on this first impressions thing. I guess its just natural. This was a side of Cozumel I'd not seen before and I was intrigued by these women. I also met a friend of Regina's who was an underwater videographer. She offered to put me in touch with her boyfriend who still runs an underwater videography company. For now I think I want to work as a scuba instructor, but I do intend to give this lady a call and perhaps meet for coffee to get her take on the dive industry in Cozumel and where might be good to look for work.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

New apartment

I finally moved in to my new apartment. With my stuff in it, it looks strangely like my old apartment in New Jersey:
Bedroom:Living room:
Bathroom:Little Kitchen:
Part of the reason it looks the same is that my furniture in NJ was, quite coincidentally, Mexican. I can report two roach spottings. The first was taken care of with a spritz of raid and a flush down the toilet. I think the second escaped from the kitchen after it had been thoroughly cleaned and fumigated with raid. He was in the last throws of death and joined his buddy in the toilet. I've cleaned every inch of the apartment and sprayed raid around the perimeters of the bathroom and kitchen. I'll do the whole apartment, but you have to do it just before you leave as its pretty toxic. I also need to get one of those little plastic covers for the drain in the shower as I think this is one of the main entry points. On Jorge's suggestion I have been pouring a little bleach down there from time to time. I bet the Dali lama would have a similar view on roaches as he does mosquitos if he lived in Mexico. Now I have my apartment sorted out I can concentrate on getting a Spanish tutor and starting an exercise regime. I think I will start yoga next week.

Cave Diving

Well part of the reason why I have not blogged for a while is that I have been taking a cave diving course on the mainland. This course was fun, but goodness, was it hard work!! Allie, although already cave certified joined me for the class (see my dive blog for more on the diving).
The cenotes are in the jungle:
I saw my first tarantula. Apparently a male - I forget the name of the breed. Our cave instructor Steve used to have a pet tarantula so was able to tell us a bit about this one. The first clue that he was a male was the fact that he was out during the day. Once sexually mature, these guys live to mate (not unlike their human counterparts!). Steve's speculations were confirmed when our frisky little guy came out for a wonder - Allie spotted that his front legs had two little hooks on them. They use these to hang onto their lady when mating. I say lady, but the female tarantula is a little impolite, in that once she's taken advantage of her hapless mate, she tries to eat him. Apparently the average male tarantula mates between 4 & 5 times before getting too old to defend himself against his evil bedfellow. Hey a girl's got to eat, right?
Anyway Steve told us that these guys are very slow moving and will only bite if you try to pick them up (nothing could be further from my mind). The bite is apparently no worse than a bee sting. The dive briefing continued but I couldn't help keeping an eye on our new friend - just as well as his path would have taken him right over Allie's feet. Pretty cool experience. Not sure I trust Steve's bee sting analogy though.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

More settling in...

Well I put a deposit down for my apartment. I move in next week which will give me time to clean it and move in over a full day - right in time for the guy who's apartment I'm staying in to return.
My landlord comes from Belgium and owns a small language school where he teaches locals to speak English. Its mostly locals who work in the tourist industry. He has said that I can sit in on the classes if I like. This might be an interesting approach and what I'm also thinking is that I might find someone who wants to help me with Spanish in exchange for me helping them with English.
Jorge showed me how to refill my phone with the tecel cards - but please no one leave me a voice mail because I don't know how to answer it.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Bananas & Roaches

Bananas:
I have had a few problems since I have arrived here and one of the more minor - but vexing problems is that of banana storage. I'm not a big fan of AC in any event but am also on a very tight budget - so I run fans in my apartment. Unfortunately the heat in here greatly accelerates the Banana ripening process - they were over ripe within a few hours of my getting them home. So I figured OK then I'll out them in the fridge - now this fridge seems to be cooled beyond reason. My poor over-ripened bananas just went dark brown and look inedible. Does anyone have any ideas?

Roaches:
Sadly roaches seem to be a way of life here. I have been told to spray Raid liberally around the apartment perimeter and pour bleach down the shower drain at night. I've really only had one roach attack. He was in the shower and that's exactly where I wanted to be. Now I'm no stranger to roach warfare but the guys I've dealt with in the past have been 1/2 cm long (about the size of the word 'long'). I would stand on or otherwise crush these nasty little things and flush them down the toilet. Now their Mexican cousins are the size of small rodents and I cant bring myself to stand on one (I'm afraid that it will jump up and manage to get on me). So I ended up arming myself as best I could with the weaponry available in this apartment: air freshener and a shovel. I managed to stun him with the air freshener and scoop him into the toilet with the shovel. I feel he may have survived and be somewhere very far away from here smelling lavender fresh.
Any further advice on keeping these guys out and/ or dealing with them when found?

Things are going well...

So I had a good day today. Roberta gave me some details of an accountant her husband uses, Regina. Regina is awesome - she is originally from Guadalajara and speaks fantastic English. She's going to help me register with the tax people down here (hacienda) and help me with some FM3 issues. The best thing is that she is around my age and is going to introduce me to all of her friends. I am very excited to meet another potential female friend on the Island.
I also was pleased to find that a friend Monica, who is impossible to reach by telephone has started working at her old job next door to Scuba Shack. She was really pleased to see me today and had some really positive advice on working.
I also found out information on the course I have to take to register to teach in the Marine Park. You have to pay for the course at the bank so I did that and am actually going to sign up tomorrow. Its in October so it gives me some time to learn more Spanish and study some of the materials friends have from previous courses. The latest info is that there is no exam which is amazing news! - if true. If there is an exam I will manage. One of the dive Masters from Scuba Shack who I have known for years is going to take the same course as me so he can help me out.
I also committed to renting an apartment in this building and am excited to move in. Its on the third floor so feels a little safer. Its bright (painted white) and has a safe built into the wall which is great.
The only fly in the ointment was that I lost my ATM card. This pissed me off a little but I called my bank, got it canceled and am expecting another one soon. I figured what's the use of letting this get me down - there's nothing I can do to change the situation.
I'm taking a cave class with Allie this weekend which should be fun. Also Hans is going to do a pre-course dive with me so I can go over some stuff which will be great.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Fiesta -Mexican Independence Day

Punta Morena - Adriana Sole Durazo
Yesterday Josie and I drove to a beach on the windward side of the Island, Punta Morena. This is a surf beach - and later in the day we did see two surfers - other than that it was pretty deserted. We went to a beach Club where they have chairs and had a few sodas in the sun. Actually I sat in the shade because I'm in no real hurry to burn like a crisp and I like to snooze in the shade. The water was beautiful and we had two long swims - there are far more waves on the windward side of the Island (hence the surfing). I wished I'd brought my camera and mask and snorkel. Miguel has been scuba diving over there. I think that might be a little risky with the currents so I think I'm going to leave it until I know someone who has A LOT of experience on that side, as it looks pretty scary to me.
Last night we went out with Miguel, Petros & Elvia. It was the eve of Mexican Independence Day and pretty much everyone on the Island was congregated in a lot near Chedraui (local supermarket) where there were children's rides, food and beer stalls and TONS of people - all locals. I saw one guy who was taller than me and then realized that I was walking in the street and he was standing on the sidewalk with a 1/2 ft advantage:) The mood was great, tons of families (I have been warned on several occasions now that Cozumel is renowned for great fertility!). Actually one of the things I really love about Mexico is the importance they still place on family.
I tried a Marquesita which is like a crape which they make on hot plates in front of you and then fill with cheese and roll into a crunchy cheesy tube - pretty good. I also ordered a chelada , which is usually a beer with lime and salt. This one came with dried chili around its rim and I'm not sure I'm up to that taste yet. At about 9.45pm there was some reading of the Mexican Declaration of Independence, followed by the anthem of Cozumel and then the Mexican National Anthem. At 10 there was a firework display, which was beautiful. When the fireworks were over there was a bit of a crush to leave. Mexico became independent in 1810 so in 2 years that will be 200 years of independence. [Live+México+-+16+Septiembre.bmp]

Sunday, September 14, 2008

First day 'alone' on the Island

Reluctantly I left Allie (thanks Allie for bringing me back to sanity after my initial freak out), and Playa Del Carmen. I counseled myself on the ferry that it was to be expected that I would feel lonely in my first few weeks on the Island. I thought about the Dali Lamas teachings on emptiness and decided some solitude would do me good.
I got back to the apartment, chained up my bike and went to check that my car was still where I'd parked it (yup). I then bumped into one of my neighbors an American from New Orleans called Dina who is living here with her sister Cathy. We chatted for a while and she invited me to hang out with them whenever I wanted. I then bought some drinks and came back to the apartment. I'd just settled down to start updating my blog when Miguel called. Did I want to go diving in 20 mins. Let me think - HELL YES!!!
I'm not on the kind of budget where I can dive off boats, so I was pleased to hear that the plan was to grab a ride on a little zodiac boat 200 meters out off the scuba Shack pier then follow a coral wall down to the pier at Papa Hogs and take a cab back. Another exciting thing about this is that I will be able to make the first entry on my SCUBA DIVING BLOG.
We dove with an American guy Jim, who's house Josie (Miguel's girlfriend and good friend of mine) is staying in and also a Mexican friend of Miguel's -Petros. After the dive Jim & Josie invited Miguel, Petros, his wife Elvira, their 4 year old son and me to his house for some food. We had cheese tacos and baked potatoes and they ate meat from the grill. Petros and Elvira were really nice. Elvira does not speak a lot of English so she might be a good person for me to practice my Spanish on. I left at around 7, because I'm tired and wanted to start to unpack a little. So my first day of loneliness was not too lonely at all!!!

Initial thoughts/ feelings on arrival in Cozumel

It felt good to finally make it here after missing one ferry and having to spend what should have been our first night on the Island in Playa Del Carmen.
When we finally did arrive we went right to the house that a friend had lined up for me. It was a beautiful house, with a cool roof top deck and swimming pool, but I was really concerned about it's security. I was aware that I was probably being paranoid but in view of the fact that it was my personal safety and entire worldly possessions that were at risk, I decided to err on the side of caution and move to the apartment of an American friend who will be in the States for the next three weeks. This place feels much safer. It's small and in a gated complex with bars at the windows and doors. I have a very small room mate - a little gecko who spends most of his time being yellow as this is the color of the walls. Miguel has told me that gecko's are great to have around because they kill roaches (enough said I'm completely sold). I tried to photograph my little security guard but he was too small and far away. After one night in the new apartment Dad and I headed over to Playa Del Carmen to spend his last night with Allie. We had dinner at El Cuervo Del Chango (the Cave of the Monkey) which is one of my favorite restaurants in Playa. We split a bottle of wine and ate fish. Dad liked this meal best in Mexico. We went to bed pretty early. Dad left on the morning of the 13th. We had breakfast in a cafe on the beach and talked for an hour or so and then Allie and I said goodbye to him at the bus station. I watched my Dad leave with mixed emotions. I'd really had a good close time with him during our trip, but having a parent around in Cozumel was making me feel like a child, if that makes sense and I needed to be on my own so I could get to the business of settling in.
I think when I first arrived here I had a bit of an emotional crash. I was physically and mentally drained and arriving at a house that felt unsafe made me feel very exposed. I think I'd been so busy building up to leaving and then throughout the entirety of our trip I'd not had a chance to really process what I was doing. My first day here felt a bit like crashing into a brick wall. What am I doing, how am I going to cope without my friends in New York who've all kind of become like a little family to me. I know myself enough by now to know that exhaustion does not have the best affect on my ability to rationalize!!!
SO I decided to spend a few days in Playa with Allie relaxing. It was good not to have to cope with sleeping in an apartment on my own. We also went to the beach and met up with our other friend from New Jersey, Sofia and hr boyfriend. Sofia was a great calming influence because she's gone through the whole process of working as an instructor down here. She's also made me confident that if it does not work out for me here in Cozumel I could always get a job in Playa (in fact I'm pretty sure she could actually help me get a foot in the door in a shop in Playa through her contacts. I also met Allie and Han's friends Patrick and Katie who were really nice.
I had the most AWESOME pedicure in the world from a guy called Robin at Spa-Itza. He spent about 1 1/2 hours making sure that there was not a trace of dry skin on my feet. My feet are now baby soft.
I'm still forming some views on what I think it might be like living here. Its going to take some time to get used to the cultural differences. I'm realizing how important many of the things I'd taken for granted in New Jersey actually were to me.
Oh I also bought a bike so I don't have to drive everywhere.

Chichen Itza

Well I've got a little bit to catch you up on. Chichen Itza was pretty impressive. This is the main pyramid - towering into the sky, it was used to read the seasons of the sun and stars. Standing at its base it almost seems to touch the clouds in the sky. Apparently during the Spring and Winter equinoxes the zig-zag shadow cast by the stairway appears to slither like a snake (Kukulcan was a god in the form of a rattle snake decorated with feathers, that the Mayans worshiped). We decided to pay a guide, Carlos, who was of Mayan decent. This was not particularly expensive (after a little negotiation) and really brought the place alive. We visited the great ball court. We were told that the commonplace Mayans were not usually expected to be able to reach heaven. I think there were 5 exceptions to this. The three I remember were, by dying in childbirth, battle or by winning the annual ball game. Athletes trained year round to be allowed to compete with each other in the ball game. The athlete who managed to score the most goals by hurling a ball through these stone hoops was given the supreme privalege of being sacrificed to the gods with a guaranteed place in heaven. Now there is some faith for you. You have to appreciate that the priests were pretty darn smart sun worshipers/ astronomers. For example they knew when there would be a lunar or solar eclips and would tell the people 'today I will command the sun to go out'. You can see why the people were in awe of such miracles.
We enjoyed talking to Carlos who was pretty knowledgeable and enthused about Mayan history. He was interested in the British Druids also told us a little about his family, which was nice: