Mar 22, 2009

Our Caribbean Beach Home...

This is now the street we live on. We are #179 Jungle North. Ours is the reddish one with two windows on the front.
When we first got here a year and a half ago, the yellow palapa next to ours (far side) was the only one being built. By that spring, there were three more under construction. This has been a busy and noisy winter as our street now has 14 new palapas. The last three available lots on our block will be starting construction this summer.
Of course we are not finished. Hmnnn... We will be adding some more landscaping and garden planting out front.

Our (close to) beach front House... From our front steps we are a 1 1/2 minute walk to the Caribbean water. I counted it out, 160 steps -- about 400 feet. Just far enough to be sheltered from the salt and sand that blows and close enough to hear the waves lapping on the shore.

Our jungle view -- as you may have gathered from previous postings, we back on to the jungle. Our back yard is a mostly clean pallet of gravel, that we put in after we cleared the swamp that was there when we started. We saved a few larger trees, and then tried to build some garden around them. Along with our neighbors Bob and Dot with whom we share our sections of the back yard, we (Susan and Dot) have added about 75 different plants, many from other gardeners in PaaMul and some from the very economical nurseries around here. Things grow well here in the tropics and we hope it will thrive. Fortunately, our neighbors, Doug and Darla, who live here full time, and are avid gardeners, have agreed to add some water to help our plants through the dry season.

The Inside Scoop.

Several people who have read this blog and then come to visit, have said that it is more than they imagined. Perhaps they are being polite and complimentary, but I have a hard time finding angles to photograph that represent the whole thing.
Here are three pics to represent some of our palapa interior.
The lounge and kitchen still need lighting and cabinets.
The baƱo is a composite photo to show the wide view.
The loft shows our guest quarters for the moment.

Colours... For followers of this blog, you may remember some of our tribulations about choosing colours of tiles and grout. The same happened for our paint colours. We had a few ideas, a bunch of paint chips and still, it wasn’t until we tried our fifth colour that we settled on this interior colour. Amarillo Neapolitano is the boldest of the lot and when we add some wall hangings it will be done for now. Good thing about paint - you can always change your mind.

A palapa is an odd kind of thing. Essentially it is a grass shelter (a big grass shelter - ours covers about 1000 sq. feet, plus loft and balcony.)
It is partly a spiffy tropical home with tile floor and counters, full kitchen and bath, living and dining areas, storage room, laundry, sleeping loft and balcony. It seems out of place to me that someone parked a trailer in our house! So maybe, it is really just a partly walled covered parking garage. Most of the palapa owners here have integrated their trailers as part of the permanent fixtures, and many have taken steps to blend them into the over-all appearance, with paint, wood or stucco coverings. As we are full-time rv’ers and will be taking our trailer with us when we leave, it is just a trailer parked in a grass palapa for the winter.
And certainly much more than just a trailer.

Mar 15, 2009

Hurry HARD!!!

“You can’t take the country out of the boy” the saying goes. Even here on the Caribbean sea.
I grew up in a small town in Saskatchewan. Winter evenings were spent either at Stotski’s pool hall or more usually at the village social center, our little curling rink. Almost all students from grade 7 to 12 were involved in curling, and then in our senior school years, we were drafted to teams for the two big bonspiels, the farmer’s and the town- spiels.
In grade 12 I was chosen to play for our Buchanan High School team along with Russell Shukin, Alex Kozlow, and Jimmy Shushetski. As I remember, we did okay in the regionals in Yorkton that year, but did not advance to the Provincials.

I have only played a few games in the many intervening years, but I have maintained my belief that curling is one of the most skillful, strategic and exciting games of all. So once again this year, I followed first the Scotties, the Canadian Women’s Curling Championship and, just finishing tonight, the Tim Horton’s Briar Canadian Men’s Curling Championship. Many of the games went down to the classic last rock. In the semifinal, Manitoba's Jeff Stoughton made a double raise and stick with his last rock to defeat Ontario's Glenn Howard. Wow! Tonight's final was an easy win for Alberta’s Kevin Martin’s team which set a record of two straight years without a loss in the round robins and the play-offs.
Back in my day, the Saskatchewan team of the Ernie Richardson, a farmer, along with his farming brother and two cousins dominated Canadian and world curling. To this day, Ernie’s is the only team to win four world titles. We all tried to emulate their flamboyant (for its time) style, chin tucked broom sliding, and noisy wapp-wapping of the narrow corn brooms.
Nowadays, the big-name teams are playing almost year-round, with mind-boggling precision, and those funny little brushes. If you have the time and patience to learn to play, or to follow the curling game, it will impress you with the chess-like complexity and the athletics.
And you can yell until you are hoarse, “Hurry! Hurry hard!”


The march of March has begun. The snowbirds are now leaving for the north, or talking about departure dates and routes.
Of the 180 sites here about 30 are occupied through the summer. The rest of us are seasonals.
Our neighbours Bob & Dot crept away at dawn yesterday, anxious to get back to BC. After a full winter of building their palapa, they are returning to more construction work, continuing with the cottage they are building in Gibsons. Then they will be preparing their boat for the sea. For several years, they have been living most of their summers on their live-aboard boat. Nice life balance, I think -- winters on the Caribbean beach, summers on the waters of the BC coastline.
Our own departure will be in about 10 days. After the exhausting months of the construction, and a couple of enjoyable visits, we are enjoying this period of relative calm.

Mar 11, 2009

I touched a monkey...

... last night, and I liked it!
I was musing with Susan and Juliet, that I had never touched a monkey. That evening we went into town and I met my first. Lolita, a white-tufted-ear marmoset dutifully posed for three photos and earned 100 pesos for her handler.
So small, so fragile, sooo cute!

Another fish in the sea...

Our daughter, Juliet, escaped the Great White North for a 10 day visit. Again it was low key and relaxing, mixed in with a few outings. The big discovery is that Juliet takes right after her mum --like a fish to water, literally. I am not a great water person (higher up the evolutionary scale, I insist.)
Juliet donned mask and snorkel for the first time, and away she went, steaming around the reefs in search of her genetic ancestors, the pretty little fishes. It was a first for Susan, as she always has been the first in the water and the last out, until now.
They explored our own beach, Yan Ten, Yal Ku, and then for her birthday, Xel-Ha, where after a full nine hours, they could have swum some more.

Back on land, we spent a morning at the Coba ruins, this time covering the whole site with the help of rickety rental bicycles. (recommended.) Juliet climbed the great pyramid, Nohoc Mul, tallest in the Yucatan. (Susan and I had done the climb last year,) and spent time reading the many signs and crawling over smaller ruins.
My own favorite photo was this one of the tree bark. Very reminiscent of the Tony Onley print that we have in storage in Canada.

Carnival touched down in Playa in a small town way, with a week of street markets and stage entertainment. Very loud, colourful, and exuberant. On the stage we saw one of the most bizarre costumed performances I have ever witnessed - wild dancers led by a geriatric couple in fat costume who were the king and queen of something... ¡Aplauso, aplauso!