Wednesday, October 29, 2008


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...

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.

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.

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"

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.

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.

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!

I have decided not to get a cat.

Monday, October 6, 2008


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.