Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Our Wall is Finished and we LOVE it

At last the wall is finished. We're so pleased with it. Unfortunately the tree may still have to go to make room for the sewerage, but BF is going to build a little walled bedding area on the inside of the windows and we're going to plant bogenvelia to make the front look nice.

Here is me modeling the wall:

Sunday, December 6, 2009

We have plans

The architect got very excited when a Gringa walked into his office and then very disappointed when he discovered that I did not want him to design my whole house but only transfer my own basic sketches:Into blueprints for the house:You can see that we are trying to save some space for a small garden in the back, with a covered terrace outside of the kitchen. The second floor will have three bedrooms in roughly the same places as the three rooms (kitchen, study and living room) on the ground floor. The architect did have some good ideas on placement of closets for the second floor which was good.

We will be waiting until January to put in our planning permission application to City Hall as the planning permission only lasts for one calendar year. If we did it now we'd have more fees to pay come 2010.

The wall is now almost complete. I had taken some earlier pictures but was worried about the overall outcome, so waited to post them until now:
We decided to put a facade of rocks on the front face of the wall. Our reasoning is that paint and cement take a beating from the sun and a rock front will take far less maintenance. The rock face sold in the hardware stores is really expensive but luckily BF's brother had a connection with a rock guy so we got a good deal. Its not quite finished but I really like the way it is turning out and the best part - zero maintenance!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunday on the Land

Today we met with the builder and tested the size of the car port space against the car. Looks like she'll fit. I had been teaching an architect to dive a few months ago and he suggested that we stake out the plans we'd made on the land itself and walk from room to room to see how it feels. We did this today and it all looks great. It was a good exercise too because we were able to see that the car would be a little squashed in the front and have made the decision to move the whole structure 1 meter back. The next two weeks should see the completion of the front of the wall and hopefully by then we'll have the planning permission to get started on the house.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Land - More Progress

We're making progress. As you can see we have three sides of the wall in place. Thanks to the hard work of Josie, Julio's mom and sister and of course me we've filled a lot of the land so that flooding is more under control. Julio chopped down the tree at the left in the front. The only tree we have left is the one on the right with the sign on it. We had to cut through a big root of this tree for the wall in the front and for what will be the sidewalk, but that was two weeks ago now and the tree still seems healthy. I'm happy this tree will be staying as it is one of the reasons why we chose this plot of land. We going to grow some kind of flowering plant up the tree so the front of the land looks pretty. Next week the builder will start on the front of the wall. We're buying some natural rock for the front so that we don't have the problem of having to paint it and the maintenance involved in sun cracked paint. We had a look around at tiles this weekend which was a little bit exciting. Planning bathrooms will be fun.
Today I went to see an architect while BF was at work. I'd drawn up some plans for how we want the house and he's going to draw them out properly so that we can take them to City Hall to get planning permission and within the next two weeks we should be able to start work on the house foundations. All pretty exciting stuff - stay tuned for more!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Zen Buddhist Retreat

Last year my mother went on a retreat to a Zen Buddhist monastry and so on this most recent trip to England I signed up for Throssel Hole's introductory retreat. I arrived there early after a drive with my mam through some pretty dramatic scenery. I was greeted by one of the 4 monks who had been assigned the task of running the retreat for the weekend. The retreat was to be a silent retreat, although the monks is not a silent order.

The Abby is surrounded by well kept lawns which are full of rabbits grazing in the sun. It was a bit nippy (after all we are talking England in October), so my strolls outside were limited. That first evening we were given a presentation on how to meditate and set about the first of many meditations in the meditation hall. I really liked the feel in this hall. The big statue of Buddha dominated the room and during meditation the place was overtaken by silence. There were 9 people on the retreat and that night we all slept in the meditation hall. I was worried I would not sleep well but I actually slept like a baby. My bed was closest to the alter and there was something nice about sleeping under the big lit statue of Buddha. It felt like sitting under a giant Christmas tree and during the night monks would come and light incense under the Buddha - I guess I fould the smell relaxing.
I enjoyed the silent part of the weekend. The Abbey had been my first stop in England after New York and my head was buzzing with thoughts of BF, and experiences of the last few days. It was good to decompress. The schedule on the retreat was fairly strict. Morning meditation at 6.30am followed by service at 7am, breakfast at 8, a talk on some element of spiritual practice, a work duty (I got to carry wheelbarrow loads of rocks up and down a hill - it was good to be outdoors though and the body heat generated by the hard labor was welcome!). Then lunch, an other work duty, meditation, evening service and bed.
I did not love the rigid routine although I can see that for some it might be easier to meditate in a situation where everything around you is being taken care of. I enjoyed the silence but found it hard to be around people all of the time. I believe I am a bit of a loner in that it is very important for me to spend a few hours by myself every day. It is good for me in Cozumel that my BF works so many hours as I am left to my own devices for most of my day. I found that during the odd 15 mins of down time at the Abbey I would go off and find somewhere to sit alone.
I found the meditation easy the first few times. After a while my back started to hurt and I found myself longing to leave the Abbey and sit on a comfy chair, eat what I wanted when I wanted etc.
It was an interesting place though and I wonder how it would be to submit yourself to a regime of Zen meditation for a longer period like a week or a month. The Abbey would have been nicer in warmer weather too as the walk from the meditation hall to the common room was along a corridor which was almost outdoors with a flagstone floor which was very cold to walk on.
I prefer my meditations with Selene in Mexico, on the whole, although am certainly considering making the odd Zen meditation part of my weekly routine.
I would recommend the Abbey to anyone interested in Zen - but go in the summer and take a good pair of slippers!

Friday, November 6, 2009


I did have a wonderful trip back to England and New York and will write about it soon. I just wanted to get some pics up of the land as people have been asking about it:)

Back in Cozumel

After a month of being at home in England (via New York) I am finally back on my little Island with my BF. It was wonderful to see my BF again as the month appart was very difficult (thank goodness for skype!).

Its taken a week for me to get relaxed into the pace of life here again, get over my jet lag, get back into a healthy eating and exercise regime and get my stuff in some state of organization. Those of you who know me well will know that I am not a happy bunny when things in my life are not in a state of good order. Just before I left the Island the external hard drive on my computer started to overheat. Good timing, in a way, as I was able to buy a new drive in the US and bring it back with me. The frustrating thing has been setting the thing up. I'm almost there and for now have worked out a system for cooling my old external drive down with fans while it is at work. Life is returning to the kind of order I can deal with. The Archers (my favorite radio show) is again accessible and I am happily able to watch my favorite TV shows again. I'm back at yoga and meditation and my yoga studio has added three new classes which I am really excited about. Work is slow but set to pick up by the end of the month, which gives me a nice easing in period. We have a tropical storm approaching us right now, which is bringing a lot of rain with it. Great weather for tidying the apartment, cooking and getting some work done on my computer.

Apart from seeing my BF the most exciting thing about being back has been seeing the progress on our piece of land. BF worked hard while I was away, buying materials, organizing contractors and generally supervising the building of the wall which will surround our property. The wall is 2.4 meters tall (the tallest it can be without a more detailed and costly planning permission than the one we have). Anyway building work has gone well. All of the labor has been paid for and we have most of the materials. Here is the foundation of the wall:
The wall that you see on the right hand side of the back of the land is on the property behind ours and we plan to build our wall right up against it. We don't want to share any wall with our neighbors so that we can do what we want with it. Here is the first part of the wall built:
The gaps you can see have now been filled with rebars and cement to make the wall strong. The contractor has also made it round most of the back of the property and part of the other side. It has been an expensive job and has taken probably as much materials as it will take to build the ground floor of the house. When the contractor is finished building the wall he will cement over it to make it look nice and protect the bricks. We'll build the front part of the wall with rocks so it looks nice and doesn't need to be painted every year or so. We're very pleased with it as we both like our privacy. It will be wonderful to sit in our own little private back garden:)

Unfortunately the tropical storm which will be with us into next week has put a halt to building work for the time being. I am pretty calm about this though. A friend advised me to keep all thoughts of finishing our house out of my head. He said if you get excited about completing in any kind of time frame you will be faced with dissappiontment after dissapointment. Very good advice - slow but sure, I'm just excited that the building of our new home is underway!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Progress on our Land

We hired a contractor to do most of the clearing, but two days ago, aided by two of BF's friends, we removed two truck loads of undergrowth and trash from the middle of the land. I helped initially but after the first tarantula limbered out of the branches, I decided to retire. Hard work I do not mind, but tarantulas clawling on me is something I cannot do! My retirement was well timed because the tarantula's husband or wife was discovered soon after. On the up side, we found two tortoises (one was a baby). I hope they stick around when we're moved in.

Yesterday my current landlord was having a wall demolished on his property. Our land has some very large slabs of flat rock in the middle of it. We will build our foundation on top of this rather than dig it into the land. This will mean a small wall (about 1.5') that will need to be filed with rocks. We decided to take the rubble from the wall onto our land. 30 buckets and 3 car loads later, with aching limbs we managed to accomplish the small pile of rocks you see in the center of the 'after' picture. Poor BF carried most of the buckets, but I would say I carried a good 1/3 of the total, and I have the sore muscles to prove it. The pile looks bigger in the flesh!

Here is a rough sketch of the wall we are planning (this should keep the dogs/ poop off the land):
I'm off to England for the month of October, leaving BF in charge of the project. I'm hoping the next update will show quite a lot of change, but I've been counseled by my friend Fernando, that when you are building a house you have to not focus on it becoming completed, just take things little by little as there will be MANY set backs!!!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Juice Fast Over!!!

My 5 day juice fast is over and I feel great - super healthy both physically and mentally. It made me think that people who follow macro-biotic or raw food diets may have something. I'm resolved to try and keep my diet more healthy and well proportioned. Eating enough to sustain your body without overeating and making yourself sluggish while digesting food. I'm resolved to stay off the coffee and diet coke for good now and no more pre-dive chocolate bars.
I would say though my skin has retained a sensitivity to the sun which I think may have some from some deficiency due to relying solely on juicing - or perhaps some nutrient has done that. Going to go back to juices for breakfast from time to time and plan to do another fast in the New Year, but perhaps with porridge for breakfast so I can continue to dive.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Juice detox day three

Today was the best day so far. Last night I went to yoga and meditation. I think the yoga really helped to work some of the toxins out of my system and my nasty headache started to lift. I slept really well last night, aided by a torrential rainstorm. This morning, I made a beet, celery and apple shake for me and BF. He's being very supportive and joining me for my morning juice. I felt full of energy on the way to and at work. We had some clients who one of the other instructors will teach and one client for me on Sunday. I'll prefer diving on Sunday as it is my last day of fasting.

When I got home after work (at 10.30am! just like to throw that in to remind myself of how lucky I am) I prepared for my salt water flush. I made 1 liter of water with just two teaspoons of sea salt. It was such a horrible prospect to drink this mix that I decided to add a little freshly squeezed lime juice. Actually it was not so bad. The idea is that the stomach can only hold two cups of liquid. I drank 4 which flushes the salt mix right through your intestines flushing out any matter. Within 5 mins the salt water mix began to take effect. No stomach cramps or pain but out it all had to come. No more food in this lady - jut freshly squeezed juices!! It feels pretty clean and I feel full of energy.

So far this has been an interesting experience. I think it is a great exercise in mental control. This is one of the aspects useful to yogis in fasting. You need to mentally be in fasting mode. It will be intolerable/ impossible if you are continuously thinking of chocolate or marmite on toast or... (you get the idea - I cant bear to write any more about delicious foods). You need to be in flight mode. Once I get on the airplane, I don't think of the hours of long journey I have ahead, I just concentrate in the now and then on sleep, actually. Or the frame of mind you take to the dentists - just concentrate on other things until it is all over. Actually because of the nutrition you are getting from the juicing real HUNGER is not a huge problem. A juice or water will keep hunger at bay for the most part.

Another aspect of fasting is that the clearing of toxins also clears out emotional baggage. I have to say that after the excesses of my trip to New Jersey and Sue's stay I was not feeling to hot mentally. I was worrying feverishly about things which weren't worthy of the worry. Now I feel much more at peace. Going to yoga again tonight. Tonight's class is an advanced class so it will be much more physically taxing. Still when it is over I intend to flop right into bed.

In retrospect I think it would have been a good idea to prepare for the fast by excluding coffee, fatty food, etc. from my diet - this would probably have aleviated most of the headaches of days 1 & 2. It is clear to me now that living as I do in Cozumel not only makes me feel good, but it is almost necessary for me. I can't cope with the way excessive living makes me feel and I can't cope with New York or England without excessive living. My body is not designed to be able to cope with all of the rich foods and alcohol. I get easily depressed when I live like that and honestly the only way I can get through the days living in a big stressful city like New York is rewarding myself with a big fatty meal with friends and definitely far too much alcohol. Even one glass of wine at night is enough to send me off balance, into a pre-depression worry, the next day.

So this has been a great experience so far and one that I will repeat, probably in November as work is too hectic in the New Year and fasting will not give me the calories I need to dive every day.

There is one little downside to all of this goodness and that is that I am starting to take on a reddish color from all of the carrots and beet juice I am consuming. I'm going to concentrate on green vegetables this evening!!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Day 2 almost over

Its almost 6pm on the second day of my fast and I am still nursing an almighty headache. I am hoping that yoga tonight will help work some of these toxins out of my system so that the headache leaves. My BF made today much more bearable by collecting three fresh coconuts for me. I drank one fresh, right off the tree and another a little later with strawberry and pineapple juice. A great cocktail mix BTW!!
I have to say I did not anticipate this headache and I am also feeling mentally groggy. I think I will walk to yoga tonight because driving seems to require a little more concentration than usual. I am drinking plenty of water and this week I may buy some Ice Lollipop makers as the pulp from the fruit juices I'm making would taste great frozen.
two days down three to go. Tomorrow will be like cresting the hill. I do not know how Allie managed to do this for 10 days. I am going to feel a tremendous sense of satisfaction after 5.

Day 2 am

Well yesterday I went on to drink:

4. cucumber and lime
5. lettuce, tomato, cucumber and mint
6. pineapple, strawberry and flax

I felt OK when I got into bed - a little tired but not super hungry and then my goodness, through the night did I feel bad. All of my body ached (joints and muscles) and I had the worst headache. A bit like the worst hangover in the world without the nausea and dehydration. I also feel a bit emotionally weak. Detoxing is supposed to clear all of the toxins from your body AND mind though, so I hope to feel like a ray of sunshine by next week. OK off to make a breakfast juice.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Well following a general decline in the healthiness of my eating habits and a very indulgent weekend in New York, I have decided to detox my body. I am doing a juice detox. Mostly juiced vegetables that are good for detoxing your liver. Today so far I have eaten:

1. apple and carrot juice
2. beet, radish, carrot, apple
3. pineapple, flax and celery

I figure I will have two more juices before bed.

So far it is OK. Food has always been an issue for me. I've struggled with crash dieting, a touch of anorexia and overeating (I was once 50lbs overweight). Its always been a battle. Its 4pm now and having consumed liquids only does not feel so bad. I'm sweating a lot which may be the start of the toxins exiting - or just summer in Cozumel. My throat is also sore - which could also well be a little bit of detoxing stating and I have a headache. I'm planning to be on juice for 5 days and then I want to do two days with porridge for breakfast, juice for lunch and something simple like brown rice and veggies for dinner. Looking forward to my body feeling clean and healthy.

My liver is probably thinking - what the hell is going on - ooohh lots of healthy stuff!!!!

OK I can't eat but I can lie in bed and watch an episode of Buffy the vampire slayer.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


As a youngster I was a Member of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society. I loved to listen to whale song and read all about Marine Mamals. However I had never heard of the most recent guests to the Island. Last week a pod of 'false orca' were spotted off Cozumel. Here is a link to a video posted on utube by the Marine Park:

They look a lot like Dolphins and are actually part of the same family (delphinidae). BUT they are much bigger:

As its name implies, it also looks very similar to an orca and, like the orca, the False Killer Whale attacks and kills other marine mammals.

From Wikipedia:

The False Killer Whale has not been extensively studied in the wild by scientists; much of the data about the dolphin has been derived by examining stranded animals.

Although not often seen at sea, the False Killer Whale appears to have a widespread, if rare, distribution in temperate and tropical oceanic waters. They have been sighted in fairly shallow waters such as the Mediterranean Sea and Red Sea as well as the Atlantic Ocean (from Scotland to Argentina), the Indian Ocean (in coastal regions and around the Lakshwadweep islands) and the Pacific Ocean (from the Sea of Japan to New Zealand and the tropical area of the eastern side).

The total population is unknown. The eastern Pacific was estimated to have in excess of 40,000 individuals and is probably the home of the largest grouping.

The false killer whale and a dolphin have mated in captivity and produced a fertile calf.[3]. This is apparently the first mating between two different species that has produced fertile offspring, i.e., without postzygotic barriers. This offspring is called a 'Wolphin'.

The False Killer Whale has been hunted, but not extensively, in the West Indies and Indonesia. In Japan, a small number of these cetaceans are killed every year.

False Killer Whales have long caused anger amongst fishermen fishing for tuna and yellowtail. The dolphins take the fish from the longlines used by the fishermen. This led to a concerted effort from Japanese fishermen working from Iki Island to deplete the species in the area - 900 individuals were killed for this purpose between 1965 and 1990.[citation needed]

Several public aquariums in the world, including Seaworld Orlando have False Killer Whales on display.

Recent evidence indicates the insular population of false killer whales in Hawaii has declined dramatically over the last 20 years. Five years of aerial surveys undertaken from 1993 through 2004 have shown a steep decline in sighting rates. Group sizes of the largest groups documented in surveys were almost four times larger than the entire current population estimate [4].

On 2 June 2005 up to 140 (estimates vary) False Killer Whales were beached at Geographe Bay, Western Australia. The main pod, which had been split into four separate strandings along the length of the coast, was successfully moved back to sea with only one death after the intervention of 1,500 volunteers coordinated by the Department of Conservation and Land Management.

Just prior to sunrise on 30 May 2009, a pod of 55 False Killer Whales was discovered beached on a sandy beach at Kommetjie in South Africa (latitude 34° 8'3.98"S, longitude 18°19'58.22"E). By 9 a.m. already 50 or more volunteers had arrived to help swim out the whales into the ocean. Many more volunteers came throughout the day to offer their services. Late morning a decision by the authorities asked all volunteers to stabilize the False Killers Whales on the beach. No further attempt was made to take the whales into the open sea. At approximately 4 p.m. after considerable debate by all the authorities present, the decision was made to initiate euthanasia by shooting the whales; approximately 44 whales were killed. Fortunately, due to the efforts of the first volunteers in the early morning, some of the 55 False Killer Whales survived.

It clear from this event that not much is known about these mammals. Why they would find themselves in such a predicament? How long can these animals survive at the water edge? What options are there to get them back into the ocean? What are the options of handling these whales? How best to take care of these whales while rescue operations are put in place? What are the signs of stress in these mammals? How does one minimise the stress levels? How to keep the pod in communication?

We understand that these whales need to be turned on from one side to the other every 20 minutes to reduce pressure on their internal organs. That they need to be kept cool if in the sun and hydrated.

For example in the case of the beached whales in Sydney on 23-24 March 2009, the 11 survivors from a pod of 80 whales that beached themselves near Margaret River on Australia’s west coast were pushed back out to sea on the 24th. The long-finned pilot whales were loaded onto trucks at Hamelin Bay where they had come ashore the previous day for their release at a better spot 20 km away. Flinders Bay was picked because it is deep, sheltered and far enough from the original stranding site to deter the whales from coming back on shore. "There’s a juvenile in the middle of the pack as well, which is good", Department of Environment and Conservation officer Laura Sinclair said. "It’s looking more positive. They’re not meandering back to the coast." Margaret River schoolchildren were among the 200 volunteers keeping the whales wet so they didn’t dehydrate and die. Some stayed up all night to help in the rescue effort. Individuals measuring up to 6 metres long and weighing up to 3.5 tonnes were hoisted in a sling onto a truck for the trip from Hamelin to Flinders. They were penned until the pod was back together and then released together. From the above example. it is clear that whales can survive even road journeys if cared for properly.

The planning for the same incident: A spokesman for the WA Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) said they were trying to herd the remaining group together to form a pod they hoped to entice back out to sea by the morning. DEC Incident Controller Greg Mair said veterinary assistance had been organised to assess the health and well-being of the remaining whales as well as equipment to try and take them back out to deeper water. “The main strategy is to re-group the animals, which are spread over five to six kilometres of beach, into one pod and hold them overnight in Hamelin Bay until day-break when they will be transported by truck to Flinders Bay for release,” he said. “This method has been chosen to ensure the whales’ greatest chance of survival,” he said. He added that a scientific team was collecting samples from the dead whales for testing as part of research into what causes whale standings. The DEC said long-finned pilot whales tend to strand both individually and in pods, and the last time the species stranded in WA was in 2005 when 19 beached themselves at Busselton. Of those, 13 were successfully returned to the ocean It is the second mass stranding of whales on Australian beaches this month.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Weather Guide to Cozumel

I figured I'd impart some of what I've learned over the last year on the Island - weather wise:

January - March: Cool mornings, afternoons in the mid 70- mid 80. Often nice beach weather, ocean a brisk 79 and often with strong currents. Pretty busy season for tourism here on the Island.
April - May: Mornings can still be cool but often 80/90 in the afternoon, the evenings still cool off nicely. Ocean is starting to warm to the 80's and the currents are starting to die off. A beautiful time to visit Cozumel. The winter high season stats to taper off and things become less crazy on the Island.
June - August. Very HOT. Not good for people without air conditioning. This would be the time I'd most like to come on vacation if I was staying in an air-conditioned hotel (aren't they all). The Ocean temp is up to 82/83. Great for diving, warm water, warm surface intervals, warm nights out - no sweater for dinner. August does start to cool off noticeably. The rainy and Hurricane seasons officially begin in June. I think this year has been particularly dry but August has brought a good few storms which start to give relief to the heat. Tourism fairly high with Texans escaping their summer heat!
September - October. Peak rainy season. I arrived in September last year and it rained almost solidly from September 15-Oct 15. The ocean is still warm for diving and the air temperature is still high. Good to visit if you are lucky enough to miss the rain. Low season - great deals to be had if you don't mind a little rain between your sun.
November- December. Tail end of November stating to really cool off. Sweaters and jeans creep into every day use. Less rain. Mornings and evenings cool but often very hot beach days. The Ocean starts to chill back to 79 by the end of the year. December is a high month for tourism which stays high through April spring break.

I've been lucky enough so far not to have experienced any real hurricane activity. This winter is expected to bring a moderate to strong El Nino (a periodic warming of the seas in the eastern Pacific). This can often suppress hurricane activity, so hopefully this will not be a bad hurricane season.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Clearing Land

I usually have the day off on Sundays, but this week I had to work as some divers we'd been working with wanted to take a private boat out. This meant that BF and his mother went to our piece of land ahead of me and started to clear ground. When I arrived I was already exhausted, but I got working. Actually it was not as hard as I'd thought it might be. We concentrated on the front part of the land. This area was mostly grass and small plants. Lots of aunts and bugs, but when I am hot and tired I find my tolerance rises to things that would normally make me scream like a girl:)BF's mom barely makes 5' tall and she's well into her sixties, but my goodness can she clear land. She made mince meat of a small tree in minutes with her machete. She grew up in the jungles of the Yukatan and the family would chop old dry wood to take into town and sell. This lady may be up in years but I would not like to cross her!! Anyway after several hours of back breaking work for BF and his mom and about an hour from me, the front part of the land (where we will have a little 6' path of garden, and a drive for the car, is clear:My future mother in law looked exhaused but her eyes were sparkling. I think she enjoyed hacking away at those branches. Perhaps it reminded her of days gone by or perhaps she just enjoyed helping us start work on building our home. I plan to go back on Wednesday and do some more work. Hey its good exercise too.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Carriage Horses Cozumel

If you have ever been to Cozumel you will have seen the carriage horses lined up on the main road, by the Ocean down town, waiting to give rides to tourists - mostly from the cruise ships. I feel very bad for these horses, as they are often mistreated.
Anyway yesterday I was sitting in my car (watching buffy the vampire slayer on my ipod) waiting for diving clients when a horse carriage in front of me toppled over, spilling its passengers onto the sidewalk. The carriage landed on it's side on top of the poor horse, who's body was pinned betwen the two wooden posts which attach the horse to the buggy. I jumped out of my car and over the overweight tourists on the pavement to see how the poor horse was. Obviously in distress he had the whole weight of the carriage on top of him. Luckily about 6 of the cab drivers from accross the street rushed over and helped lift the weight of the cart off the horse, while the driver tried to keep him calm and held his head. After much struggling the horse was released from it's harness. There is no quick release on these harnesses so the carriage had to be pushed further on to the horse to get the buckles undone.
My heart was in my throat as I watched the horse struggle to get up. The first attempt failed and he hurt his back slipping onto the poles. The second time he made it. What a lovely animal. He stood calmly while the driver re-arranged the harness on his head and then allowed himself to be led over to a tree to be teathered while the carriage was righted and the damage assessed.
It seemed like the horse escaped unscathed, although he really did not walk far enough for me to see if any of his legs had been lamed. Ofcourse the driver reharnessed the horse to pull his carrige back home.
I would ask any visitors to Cozumel to think twice about taking these carriage rides. Take a cab or a nice long walk around town. Here is an article written by the Cozumel Humane Society on these animals.
People can be so heartless when it comes to animals - it really makes me sick.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

We're buying some land.....

One of the things I wanted to do if I decided to settle in Cozumel was buy some land, with a view to building a house. I'm 37 and, although I did briefly own an apartment from the age of 18-23, my assets currently amount to a car, a computer and some fairly sexy dive gear.
Anyway BF and I decided that buying land was a sensible way to go. We searched the Island tirelessly for the ideal spot. Let me tell you, it is difficult. Land falls into 4 rough categories here on the Island:

Jungle: Anyone with a 10 year plan and a little cash to risk should think about buying land in the Jungle. We've found plots as big as 30 meters x 20 meters selling for as little as $15,000. People are buying these plots and building like crazy. Some really interesting neighborhoods are likely to develop with properies boasting nice large gardens. I love space and I also love peace and quiet and so was initially attracted to these pieces of land. There are, however, some drawbacks:
  • No electricity, water or sewerage. These will likely be connected at some point in the future if enough people build property in a given area, but there are no guarantees. Could be 6 months, 6 years or never. It is possible to dig a well - and find good water. Electricity can be difficult though. Solar panels and wind generators are expensive and limited in capacity.
  • Mosquitos - the jungle mosquito is significantly larger and more ferocious than his down town brother. In town, trucks spray bug spray at night to keep the little blighters under control. not so in the jungle. My skin has become pretty immune to the city mosquito, but the jungle variety leave huge weilds on my skin. They are bigger, meaner and more prolific.
  • The distance to town. We have one car between us. Neither of us really wants a scooter and biking it into town would be a pretty sweaty task in the summer.
Down Town/ Town Center: Unfortunately due to Cozumel's popularity as a vacation destination, down town prices have been forced through the roof by wealthy Americans buying up land (I appreciate I own my job and actually just being here to this fact as well). A piece of land measuring 20 meters x 8 meters, will set you back $70-80,000. Simply out of the price range of anyone living on the Island and earning local wages.

Neighborhoods / Suburbs: Land is very difficult to come by in nice neighborhoods. Often land sales are opened up to only certain categories of worker (like hotel staff). BF's mother lives in a nice neighborhood but finding a plot of land for sale at a reasonable price is extremely difficult.

Government sponsored developments: Several large construction companies are developing neighborhoods in areas just outside of the suburbs. These neighbrhoods look a little like the English council estates. There is a very small house on a piece of land flanked very closely on each side by an identical very small house/ piece of land. The added incentive with these pieces of land is that locals are able to take a loan from their own social security funds to finance the property. This is a pretty inticing deal, especially as the building company will readily finance the balance you need to buy. What is the catch?? Well BF and I were a little short on the cash we would have needed to pay for the property outright and it turned out that the building company loans applied extortionate rates of interest and rediculously honorous payment terms. We very nearly did this as there were a number of properties on street corners with larger pieces of land. It was only when we discovered the rediculous terms of the builders loan and reasoned that we would actually be paying for a building that we intended in the most part to demolish and re-build that we decided to go back to the drawing board.

And so it came to pass that on one sunny Sunday afternoon we decided to go on a real hunt of the neighborhoods. It was this day that we stumbled on a neighborhood that we really liked with two blocks of empty lots for sale. The price was high but something that we decided we could manage. Here is the piece of land that we are in the process of buying:and again a few steps in with BF in what will be our yard/ garden. You can see from this one that it is a fairly decent sized piece of land:We are pretty excited. The street is currently dirt road...But we are told that a proper road surface will be laid this or perhaps next week (we are on Mexican time after all).
Our first project will be to clear the land. An advantage here, over jungle, is that the land has already been partially cleared. We'll be out with machetes on Sunday. I will definately try a little clearing, but think I might soon become, cool drinks and pizza delivery person.
After clearing the land we want to build a big wall around it. Firstly because we like privacy and secondly in the hope that any building supplies that we store inside of the wall will be relatively safe. Then on with our house. We will build a first floor to begin with and then eventually a two story, 3 bedroom home. I also have a secret scheme to make a third floor palapa hang out. But that is way down the line.
Exciting stuff - more to come.

New Fruits

Food here in Mexico is OK. When I used to come here on vacation I used to love it, but now it has become a bit 'samey'. Everything served with tortillas, cheese, lime, salt lots of oil and chili peppers. Its tough to cook in the summer because our apartment is so HOT. My BF and I have 2-3 favorite restaurants which we go to quite often. We have menu favorites and because I am vegetarian my choices are limited - in short food is becoming dull.
The only exception to this, is fruit and I have recently discovered two new fruits:

Pitaya (five star fruit rating - a must try)
I love this new fruit. It comes from a climbing cactus, that grows on walls trees etc. It is a beautiful bright pink on the outside:
And white with little black seeds on the inside:
It is about the size of an apple. You peel the fruit with a knife and eat the flesh inside. It is really delicious. Its so different from any other fruit I've had that its difficult to describe it. The flesh is a bit like melon in texture with tinsy little black seeds that just give it a little crunch. It's as sweet as a strawberry but quite a unique taste. I love them as is, or blended with ice 'pitaya water'.

Tuna (one star fruit rating)
Also the fruit of a cactus, (as opposed to a tasty game fish). I was very excited to try the tuna, following my experiences with the pitaya. Sadly I was sorely disappointed. Dull green on the outside:
and... dull green on the inside:It is filled with pretty large hard seeds that you would not want to swallow. I would not bother with this fruit. Unless I had a bad tuna, when it comes to cactus fruit, Pitaya is the way to go.
There are many other fruits that BF will buy and make me taste. Nothing very nice as of yet but I plan to give each of them a write up.
There is a store that I call at almost daily to buy a mixed fruit salad and some fresh juice or another. We like watermelon (sandia), pitaya, and strawberry (fresa) so far. I did try chaya water and it was OK. The chaya is a green leafy plan a bit like spinich. Very good for you, I expect, and taste wise it is definitely manageable. Next time I plan to mix it with orange or pinapple.
More exotic fruits to follow.....

Friday, July 17, 2009

Terapia Holistica

Today I decided to visit Eduardo (Jesus Eduardo Orduno), a holistic therapist operating in Cozumel.
Eduardo lives near town and gives his consultations under a roof top palapa with drapes covering the sides for privacy and shade. As a starting point he asked me why I'd come to see him. Actually I feel happier and more peaceful now than I have in a very long time, but I still have some nagging insecurities and in general desire a higher level of peace in my life - so I thought 'what the heck' lets give this guy a go.
Eduardo explained that he worked with 27 (somewhere in that region) points in the body where the spirit/ soul and the body connect. At these points it would be possible for him to detect problems in the psyche. He uses a dousing pendulum at these points and if the pendulum swings back and forth, all is well. If it moves in a circle then there is some blockage. He then works with glass slides containing flowers and metals. He places these on your hips, belly button, throat, and between/ above your eyebrows (third eye). These also operate to re-balance any abnormalities. I was asked to breath slowly with my eyes closed and hold my breath for a few seconds on the inhale. I did a little mantra meditating as I listened to the birds singing in nearby trees. Eduardo found no real problem areas, although reactions suggested I often had a troubled mind.
The end of his treatment is to place his fingers at your inside elbow and ask his pendulum which flower essences will assist you. He narrows down from 100s of flowers by asking his pendulum yes/no. He was a lovely spiritual guy and by the sounds of it provides healing to a great many souls in distress. I enjoyed the experience a lot. All of my flowers had properties such as, forgiving myself, accepting past 'mistakes' as learning experiences, letting go of self doubt, being happy in the now etc... He said that I was operating at a pretty high level, spiritually, and that the flowers he'd given me showed that. Apparently there are levels/ steps of healing and I'm operating one the highest level. That's nice to hear because after all of these years its kind of how I feel.
So following this process the soul lets Eduard know which flower tincters to add to a small bottle. He gives this mixture to you as part of his serivce with directions on taking the drops every so often (the dosage is also determined by your spirits needs comunicated by the pendulum), but generally once every 1-3 hours, 6-12 times a day.
It was a pretty cool experience and I would recomend it. Lets see how I feel taking his flower mix. All of their properties promote exactly what I want to accomplish. I think just the act of thinking about your goals at prescribed times through out the day is a good one. I guess its a bit like meditation beads. You meditate with a set of beads and soon just picking up those beads assists you to a medatative state of mind. The taste of the drops may do nothing more that: remind you of your goals and inner beauty, or they may indeed possess properties which heal the soul.
If you are feeling low or have any specific problems, worries or depressions, or like me just searching for more balance, I would recomend Eduardo. I will report back.

One other thing that Eduardo sugested is that for general skin health a glass of carrot juice a week is a must - this is a real wrinkle reducer/ preventer. Say no more - as soon as I got home two glasses of freshly juiced carrot juice.
Oh yes he also said not to worry abou the pre-cancer cells on my back - they were healed and would not return.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Bird Update

So my little friend never did come back. I had a look on the internet and think that he is a love bird. I hope he made it to the jungle and found some little love bird friends.

Skin Cancer

So I'm going to be like one of those people who have had a tracheotomy due to throat cancer and stand up on buses to warn people about the dangers of cigarette smoking.

When I was in New York last summer friends (applying sunblock for me) noticed an odd looking bit of skin on my back. Just above an average sized freckle this piece of skin is about 6mm x 4mm and looks like a fresh scar. Before I left NY it seemed to have faded so I stupidly ignored it instead of going to a decent specialist in New York at a time when I had health insurance. Anyway a few months ago I became aware that the said mark was still at large. I didn't like the look of it so I went to see a local doctor here who'd helped with my chest infection. His best guess was a fungal infection. 10 days, a course of fungal cream and $90 later this was ruled out as a cause.

After much searching I found a dermatologist in Cozumel. Her diagnosis was, as I feared, pre-cancer cells. She prescribed a 30 course of 5% Fluorouracil cream. This is a topical anti cancer agent (chemotherapy cream).

I was not convinced by this doctor. She had many certificates on her wall but did not use a light of magnifying glass or any of the usual doctor tools to come to her diagnosis. I find these things comforting. Anyway I came home and did some research on the internet. I'd been avoiding this so far because I did not want to scare myself. It looks like I probably have a Actinic Keratoses legion. Only 10% of these ever become squamos cell carcinomas (cancer) and the cream she'd prescribed was a pretty common treatment with a reported cure rate of 80-90%.

I was a bit freacked out at this point and really wanted to have it removed and sent to pathology, afterall psoriasis orr eczema can often be mistaken for Actinic Keratoses. After much angsting, and correspodning with a dermatologist in Playa who confirmed the treatment as valid, and discussing the matter with a friend in New York who'd used the cram for treatment of similar legions before, I decided to go with the treatment my Cozumel dermatologist recomended.

I have just finished the treatment. The cream basically burnes the affected area away. I went back to the doc and she said she could not tell if the legion had been cured until the skin healed. Another course of a different cream for 10 days should do it.

So I will find out soon if it has gone. Either way I think I am going to consult with a dermatologist in England when I get home in October.

What steps am I taking to avoid more damage to my skin? Well I work as a scuba instructor and am in the sun a lot so I bought three dive skins. These are t-shirts made of a lycra type material with a UV protection factor of 40. I wear these all day when I am at work to keep my back out of the sun as well as factor 80 sun block on my face and ears. I have always been very careful about applying sunblock to my face - purely driven by vanity but I would always leave out my ears. Ears are aparently a common place to get skin cancerr so they are now part of my regime. I reapply sunblock each time I get out of the water and always keep a bag containing a selection of sunblocks in my car.

I am lucky in that I was not really exposed to the sun in my teens when most damage occurs. In my 20ies though I was a bit of a sunworshiper and also spent a little bit of time on sunbeds. Unfortunately I will probably never know if this was a pre-cancer or something more inoccous, but I figured either way I need to look after my skin more.

So I wanted to ask people to be more responsible in the sun. Apply sunblock regularly and wear a t-shirt if snorkling or surfing. I work in a hotel and see badly burned people on a daily basis. Burning on the first few days just seems to be part of their vacation routine. 'No use in crying over spilled milk', they say but it takes just a little bit of effor to protect your skin and its well worth it.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Little Bird

Today was just like any other - actually I was a bit more tired than usual, having just spent two days teaching an advanced open water class. When I opened the gate to the yard outside of my apartment I heard an unusual bird call. I looked up into the tree and there was this little colorful bird. Obviously an escaped pet:

He was very interested in me and I wondered if he was hungry. Probably if he'd escaped from a cage he would not know how to feed on his own. He did look a little fluffy and young. So I tried to tempt him down with bread crumbs. I then walked up to the roof and held my hand out to him. I was within about 5 inches and he was quite comfortable. Honestly I was just a bit scared of being pecked or I might have coaxed him onto my hand.

After consulting with Julio I grabbed some gloves from the car and re-attempted contact. This time I was armed with papaya. He was really interactive but very warey of my hand. Twice he jumped onto my gloved finger to take some of the papaya. The second time I moved him closer towards me and he got scared and flew into the higher branches of the tree.

I then decided to stop molesting the little guy and left the papaya on a branch for him to eat. After my afternoon snooze I went back outside but he seems to have gone.

I feel sorry for birds that are kept in captivity, on the whole, although my friend Fernando has a little bird who is a real character and thinks he's one of the family.

This little guy though is clearly domesticated and I'm worried he will not be able to survive in the wild. Part of me wishes I'd been braver and grabbed him to keep him safe from the nasty big Mexican birds and part of me thinks he'll be better living free, even if it is a short little existence.

If he's around later Julio may try to catch him. Either way I really enjoyed my encounter with this little bird.
Does anyone know what he is????? Or have any views (preferably informed) on whether or not he's likely to be able to survive in the wild?

Friday, June 26, 2009

Parents visit

YES I'm still alive. I've just dropped my parents off at the airport in Cozumel after a weeks visit. Pretty tearful dropping them off and no sooner had I pulled out of the parking spot I was in, did I get pulled over by the federal police. My car carries New Jersey Plates and a Mexican permit which has expired. The law here is that you do not need to renew your car permit if you have a valid FM3. Unfortunately the Federal Police are famous for not knowing this. Anyway luckily for me I was very tearful when I was pulled over. I find tears are very helpful in these circumstances. I used the quite genuine tears for my parents departure to convince the federal police to let me go on my way with not much bother.

So PARENTS VISIT. We had a really lovely time, marred only by the heat (oh and mosquitos). My parents are not used to extreme heat and relaxing into an Island pace, lounging by/ in the ocean took them the whole time they were here to get used to. Even then, frequent trips into A/C buildings were a must. My parents skin, unused to evil mosquito bites, became very sore and swollen when they were bitten (unused to having to lather on bug spray at sun set and in the mornings in the garden, they were bitten frequently).

The flight from England is pretty grueling, although THOMPSON AIR now offer direct flights from London to Cozumel. After a 10 hour flight they were exhausted. I'd booked them into a hotel called Hacienda San Miguel. Its a very good choice if you are visiting Cozumel and want to be in walking distance of town but in a quiet setting. They have well kept gardens filled with, red flowers, well groomed bushes, little lizards and lively humming birds:

Here is a picture of their room:

We spent many mornings drinking coffee and talking on this little terrace.
It does make me very sad that I do not live in the same country as my family. I also have a great fondness for England, although I have to say I didn't much like me for most of my adult life in England although there are many reasons why I choose to live here and not there.

Why not England or New York??
  1. I think I had a hard time with the transition into adulthood in England. I didn't much like myself there and going back reminds me of that me.
  2. Really I think its true to say that I have struggled with a pretty serious alcohol problem for much of my adult life. Having struggled over the years to get on top of this and perhaps even just as a function of getting older I've pretty much conquered this but again the prospect of moving back to the UK scares me because drinking, as a way of life, is how I know living in England. Pretty much all of my old friends drink, a lot, socially and I'm not sure I could slot back into that without it becoming a problem for me.
  3. England is cold and the Ocean is freezing. I love diving and swimming and even just looking out over the tropical waters of the Caribbean.
  4. The only way I could afford to live in England or America is by working in an office. Not to put to fine a point on it, I find this way of living soul destroying. I can't do it anymore.
  5. Now this one is a toughey, but MEN. Now I know there are some wonderful men in England and in the USA and many of them are my friends, but I have again and again been devastated by the behaviors of men I have chosen to become involved with. Sex in the City is a pretty accurate portrayal of the dating/ relationship scene in New York. I know bad relationships are everywhere as well as here in Mexico, BUT here I have been lucky enough to find a lovely, wise, honorable and caring man the likes of which I've not encountered before. I think my man is one in a million and probably nothing typical of Mexico BUT I'm going to stick my neck out and say that in my view big cities attract (or create) f**ked up individuals who go around treating each other terribly.
  6. I love my simple life in Mexico. I've stopped living like a crazy worker aunt. I have free time for yoga, meditation. Sometimes it can be uncomfortable to just relax without filling my life with work, stress, teaching, but I'm learning a lot about myself.
Things I miss about England and New York
  1. My FAMILY - I miss my parents brother, and extended family a lot.
  2. FRIENDS - I have the most wonderful friends in the whole world in Newcastle, London and New York/ New Jersey (as well as a few others scattered across the States and the world). I miss you all terribly and hope to maintain annual month long visits to the UK, via NYC.
  3. I miss the English countryside and North Eastern British beaches. The Jersey Shore, Lake George, the Berkshires
  4. Marmite, white bread, salt and vinegar McCoy's crisps. NY pizza, sushi, health food, bagels
  5. Joico hair products, discount shopping
  6. ENGLISH - I'm still struggling with Spanish - I miss being able to interact with everyone around me easily.
So it was lovely to spend a week with my parents and sad to see them go. Next time they will avoid the heat of June, July, Aug and September. I'm also pleased I will be seeing them for a good three weeks in October.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Moon

Tonight we had the most beautiful moon. The moon is full this Saturday so it is already pretty big. I've never seen such a halo around the moon. It was really beautiful. Julio and I climbed up on my roof to take photographs.
You will be looking at the same moon in Newcastle, New York or Berlin, but I bet yours does not have this amazing halo. Hopefully my yoga group are doing a full moon celebration on Saturday. It is likely that the halo will stick around until then - I'm guessing it is caused by humidity...

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

It just been a matter of days since swin flu registered on my radar...

...and already the effects are taking a serious toll on Cozumel. The Cruise Ships upon which many rely for income have imposed a 2 week ban on stops in Mexico.

Yesterday I went to Playa Del Carmen to pick up some stuff and say goodbye to my friend Hans. I'd decided to do some beading on the ferry which soon made me very sea sick. In a rush to get onto dry land I left my nice pink butterfly beach bag on the ferry. All that was in there was a bottle of water but I was sad to loose the bag. Hans made the comment that it was a timely reminder of the impermanence of everything. I agreed tha it was indeed.

It was a growing dissatisfaction with the materialism of New York that was the major motivator for my move to Mexico. I wanted to be free of the insane drive to acquire more money, power and possessions.

When I arrived here life became simple. I've had a very peaceful seven months. I've been blessed with Selene, a wonderful teacher of kundalini yoga who has taught me much in terms of yogic theory and meditation practice and I have had more time to devote to reading -much related to spirituality. I've made good friends and met a wonderful man who is wise, kind and content.
Recently, however, I have begun to develop a bit of a preoccupation with the future: looking for land to build a house on, decking out my apartment in nice furniture, angsting about whether or not children are in my future. They are all forms of the grasping for possessions that I was trying to move away from.

Right now is a low few weeks work wise in any event. Its difficult to say how this swine flu outbreak will affect Cozumel at this stage but I think it is safe to assume that the effects will be serious. With North America and Europe advising travelers to avoid Mexico, the tourism, upon which Cozumel relies, is likely to dry up to next to nothing for a spell.

So far in life I have been very lucky with work, in that since the age of 17 I have always had a secure well paid job. Not so now. We have clients to take us through this week but then the likelihood of earning nothing at all for the near future.

I have savings in my bank account which puts me in a better position than others. The distress I felt yesterday related to the fact that I will probably have to start living off my savings for some time, rather than immediate pressure of no money to live on, like some of my friends.

I remember, as a little girl, I would embark on ambitious building projects. I'd have visions of grand, billowing tents and set to work on creating my visions with only a cloths horse and some sheets and blankets (perhaps a few card board boxes). My mother told me that she would dread these creative urges of mine as invariably I was not able to conjor my visions and ended up in bitter and inconsolable disappointment.

I believe that I've continued with this pattern through out most of my life. Following unattainable pipe dreams and encountering disappointment after disappointment. Now though I fell my perception is changing. I am truly beginning to realize that attainment of external, material goals rarely makes for happiness. The Buddhists believe that such grasping is at the route of all human suffering and I think that I have moved beyond just understanding this to making it a reality in my life. So I am viewing the forthcoming time as a reminder to live in the now.

My boyfriend, of course, takes this all peacefully in his stride. He's seen a few hurricanes in his time and has gone through this all before. I once asked him if he'd ever wanted to be rich and he just laughed a 'don't be absurd' laugh and said no.

To my parents and more conventional friends - don't worry I am not planning a life of poverty. If things get too bad here, we'll come up with a game plan.

For now though I'm seeing this as an opportunity for growth. Rather than building castles in the sky I'm going to enjoy all of the free time I'm likely to have. Exploring in our kayak, studying Spanish learning more about my boyfriend and friends. I've just started designing my own jewelery and plan to enjoy rekindling the artist in me.

I am sad that I'm unlikely to be able to see my parents in two weeks but thankful that they are healthy and that I am able to talk to them often on the telephone.

I'm avoiding 'what ifs' and thinking too far in advance.

As to the swine flu its self I am overwhelmed with the amount of media coverage, and information which is flying around on the internet. Right now I feel pretty safe personally. I'm pretty healthy and on the grand scheme of things think that the odds of getting sick or dying are slim. Honestly there is so much speculation out there that its tough for me to form a view on any of it.

So I will keep you all posted on how thing progress both in my life and in Cozumel (probably more now than before as I'm likely to find myself with much more free time on my hands!!)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Swine Flu

Swine flu went from something I had heard a whisper of last week to something pretty serious withing the space of a week. I've read a lot about this flu on the internet. Around 100 people have died in Mexico City, and now there have been cases in the US, Spain, Scotland and perhaps Manchester. Obviously I am very saddened by deaths of people in Mexico City, but having lived through the mad cow era in the UK and anthrax scares following September 11, I tend to take a pretty philosophical about these things. If its not something you have control over then don't worry about it. I'm afraid I've developed a bit of a tendency to hide my head in the sand during world crises.

Two things that have personally impacted me on this occasion:

Two of my very dear friends who lived in Playa Del Carmen have decided to move up their leaving date. They are expecting a baby and for unrelated reasons had made the decision to return to the US. I just got a phone call 10 mins ago telling me that they've decided to leave today, for fear that travel may become increasingly difficult over the next month, as a result of the spread of swine flu. A wise move (and when an unborn baby is involved I think caution is the best way forward) but its meant that I didn't get to say goodbye which has kind of hit me hard today. Its made me feel a little lonely here in Mexico. I still feel very happy in my choice of lifestyle and just in myself at peace and content, but increasingly recently, I've been missing my friends in the US and UK. Other than the friends who are now leaving I suppose I have begun to develop one or two close friendships in Mexico (and of course my boyfriend who is my best friend ever). Teaching by the pool one day last week I overheard one of the guests listening to Led Zeplin - this reminded me of living in England and of all of my friends from Uni and I suddenly became not 'homesick' but 'friendsick'. Then with my only really close friends leaving Mexico this feeling got worse and today - well I'm feeling a little bit alone.

I also spoke to my Mam - my parents are planning a trip to Mexico on May 11th. I am very excited about this, but my mam said today that her friends have been calling her telling her not to come. I kind of poo poo'd this but now it seems that there is a real possibility that travel to Mexico might be seriously impacted. The European Union health commissioner has advised Europeans to avoid nonessential travel to Mexico. I hope this does not affect my parents trip as I really want to see them (although I don't want them to get swine flu).

This brings me back to the feelings I had of remoteness right after September 11th when I was marooned in Brooklyn on my own.

There is also the issue of the impact all of this will have on tourism to Mexico and the impact that that will have on my and other's in this region ability to earn money. Coupled with the US economic situation and media coverage of drug wars here in Mexico I worry about falling tourism.

Ak I'm being a big baby I know and I am incredibly lucky with the life I have here. As usual I'm just going to trust that this will blow over. I'm about to deliver a bottle of fresh orange juice to my boyfriend who is sick (excuse for a big hug) and then head to pilates and yoga to put my mind into a peaceful state.

Going to miss my friends though!!!