Feb 26, 2008
We finally got our contract signed (and notarized- a much more involved process than in the US) with our landlord, so we were able to go over to Cablemas and set up an account. Now we just have to be at home between 9 and 2 for the next ten days until the guy comes (and you thought the one day range that they give you in the US was bad)! I'm looking forward to watching some TV- it's like a free tutor!
I signed up for a membership at The Gym. After a failed attempt at going to Muscle Beach Gym (dude, they don't have AC, I need AC if I'm going to be working out like that), we decided to check out The Gym, since that's where most of our friends go.
It's a super nice, though small, gym that has all the amenities that you'd expect in a top notch gym (save maybe the steam room and sauna, but it's 85 degrees and humid outside). I have been using the weights and running on the treadmill. I took a yoga class once and it was good, I just find that I squeeze in the gym where I can to fight insomnia- more about that later.
I had read about podrunner a while ago but never tried it. Recently I downloaded a bunch of their podcasts. They offer about an hour of techno music at a steady beat so you can run along. I could never run with music before because I would change pace to keep up with whatever song I was listening to, so it became like interval training every time! Anyway, I've been digging running along with my podrunner while I read the spanish subtitles for The OC or That 70's Show on the TVs in front of the treadmills. Reading in Spanish really distracts me because it takes a lot of attention to read it before they change to the next line!
For the last, say, year and a half, I've suffered from mild insomnia. Basically, if I don't do some sort of exercise every day that gets my heart rate up (20 minutes on the treadmill will suffice) I inevitably will wake up and be awake for between 1-4 hours at night. It is a supreme pain in the ass. At least it's not like Ambien-requiring insomnia, it's just "get off your fat ass and do something" insomnia... I can handle that.
Let's see, anything else? We went to Akumal again on Sunday, but the video we shot was crap, so don't be expecting another little video of the turtles any time soon. Also- Hans' mom gets into town tomorrow night, so we might head down to the Sian Ka'an Biosphere to see how the beaches are there. We'll probably also hit some ruins along the way, lunch in Tulum at Pollo Bronco (por supuesto), maybe hit a beach club, probably eat some tacos al pastor somewhere... you get the idea.
I guess that's it, as my brother-in-law would say, we're just "lifin' it."*
*© 2008 Jim Brice. All rights Reserved. Duplication of this term is prohibited without express written permission from it's creator.
Feb 23, 2008
Earlier in the week my friend, Miguel, called to ask if I wanted to do a snorkeling photo shoot. Turns out that they had a German freelance photographer who had come over to Cozumel with lots of Mares equipment and he wanted to get some shots to hopefully get on the cover of some German dive magazine.
It's not hard to twist my arm when you're talking about fun in the sun (and the possibility of scoring some free gear), so I hopped on the ferry and met up with them over at Roberta's Blue Bubble Divers.
We headed down to the park at Punta Sur to see if we could get some nice snorkeling shots, because apparently the reef is super nice down there and not too deep. When we got there it looked like they could hold a surfing competition there were so many waves! The park was closed for snorkeling (and we wouldn't have been able to see anything anyway because it was so rough) so instead of just turning around and heading back up to town, we decided that we should use the opportunity to do some shots of some clothing that the photographer had brought, too.
So we geared up and did some silly walking and jumping around on the beach.
I have learned two things about modeling that I didn't know before:
1) It's really hard not to feel like a total dumb ass while you're frolicking along on the beach, and besides, how do you frolic "normally"? I mean, who frolics?
2) There's a reason they're all 6 feet tall. My new model name is "Stumpy McShortsville."
In the past I have had an addiction to America's Next Top Model, I'll admit it. I think it's cool to see how much models actually have to go through to get a good shot. Now that I've actually tried it, I realize that it's actually quite an accomplishment to become a super model. I also realized that you really need to have a big ego, which- despite all my natural-looking frolicking- I don't really have, because I'm not sure real models feel like dumb asses all the time or they wouldn't do it!
Anyway, after we made complete fools of ourselves on the beach and felt sufficiently dorky, we decided to head back in front of Roberta's where there was calm water and at least a hint of coral.
We swam out to where the water was about 15 feet and Gerald, the photographer, got on the bottom with a scuba tank while we repeatedly dove down 15 feet and swam at him. After about 1/2 an hour of that my ears were really getting tired! It's one thing to dive down a couple times, it's another to do it like 50 times!
Anyway, we ended up with some nice photos- here's hoping that they get into the German magazine!
Feb 20, 2008
I didn't take this picture, God I wish I did! It's originally from the Playa.info forums. I thought I should post it here in case you needed to staff up with some slaves.
Feb 19, 2008
So we went back to Hospiten Riviera Maya today to have a follow up appointment. The doctor did all the regular check up stuff (vitals, listening to inhalations and exhalations, thumping on Hans' back, etc.) then he looked at the x-rays again and ordered another round of blood work.
Turns out it's just viral bronchitis that is causing the fever. He sent us home with a prescription for an expectorant (his coughs changed from dry to mucousy the other day) and some other stuff that should help with the fever.
His fever was down this morning, but the doctor said to continue taking the meds for a few days. The blood work he ran today ruled out an infection.
Everyone we talked to since he got sick said, "You'll KNOW when it's dengue." Apparently you feel like your bones are going to break just from the pressure of your body laying on the bed!
Feb 18, 2008
A couple weeks ago we decided to check out Akumal and our new underwater housing for our video camera. Akumal is a small bay where there is a sea turtle sanctuary. You can wade out into the water and snorkle with the sea turtles and the sting rays.
There are tons of pelicans and I love watching them dive for their lunches. We even saw one dive into the side of a boat. Luckily, he was ok, but noise of his head hitting the side of the boat was pretty loud!
There were lots of kids around (mostly speaking Italian). At one point I was drifting back and forth between napping and laying in the sun when this little guy, maybe 3 years old, squatted next to my head and said something in Italian. He scared the crap out of me! Of course, he was almost as scared as I was when he realized I wasn't his mom! Lol!
We made this little video with the new underwater housing. I hope we don't make anyone motion sick... it has a mirror that reflects the video image, so to follow the turtle you have to go opposite of the direction it looks like the turtle is going... It took us a while to figure it out. Actually, I'm not sure we ever really figured it out.
The pelican clip is from the little point and shoot camera, which is why the aspect ratio is different, making it look a little blurry. And yes, that is a kid's song... what?
Feb 17, 2008
Last night we got home from Coffee Cafe and hanging out with friends and Hans' dry cough started to become really irritated. By about 11pm he had developed a fever, too. By midnight he was achy and had a headache. We immediately thought it was dengue fever.
Dengue fever is a type of fever caused by a virus transmitted by mosquitos. There has been a 600% increase in dengue fever cases in Mexico since 2001 and we know at least 6 people who have had it here. There are four types, one of them being potentially deadly, so we knew that we needed to get to the hospital and get it checked out (assuming it was dengue, after all).
So, this morning we got up and headed over to Hospiten Rivera Maya on the Carretera Federal. The hospital is clean and new (a little over two years old). After giving them a credit card with a $500USD deposit, we were shown directly into the Emergency Room.
Within a couple minutes, Astrid, our nurse showed up and asked a series of questions about Hans' state in Spanish (see, I come in handy sometimes... lol). Then she took his temperature and blood pressure.
A few minutes later the Doctora came in. She asked him several questions in English, listened to his chest and breathing, looked in his ears and down his throat and decided that he should take some paracetemol, have an x-ray and get some blood work done to see if it was a fever caused by infection or virus. She also decided he should have a nebulizer to alleviate his dry cough. (poor photo quality because it's a cell phone photo)
As soon as the nebulizer was finished, he headed off to get his x-rays. There were a couple minutes of confusion when the technicians tried to read the x-ray and saw his nipple rings for the first time!
Anyway, long story short, the Doctora decided that we should go home and Hans should take some more (stronger) paracetemol and to come back in the morning. No conclusion for today and certainly no diagnosis of dengue fever yet.
In the meantime, we bought the first and second seasons of 24, so we'll be plenty busy until the next doctor's appointment. And no diving today... Oh, and the nebulizer, emergency room visit, drugs and blood work cost us less than $200USD... we aren't in Kansas anymore, Toto.
After my long rant about West Charlotte High and the article written in the Toronto Star, the reporter who wrote that article contacted me about publishing my blog entry! Pretty cool! You can read the edited version of the blog post here.
Feb 11, 2008
My mom just sent me a copy of an article written in the Toronto Star about the education system in the town where I grew up, Charlotte, NC, and more specifically about the high school I attended. You can read the article here if you want, it's excellent.
Anyway, the point is that I was one of the kids that grew up during a time that Charlotte was focused on integrating the school system actively. I had to wake up early and ride the bus for an hour as I was bussed from my middle class, white suburban home to the lower class, black neighborhood that housed my school.
I went to progressive elementary and middle schools that didn't believe in AG and remedial classes. Instead, they put the AG kids next to the remedial kids in desk clusters without telling them that one was "smart" and one was "dumb." The idea was that the kids that excelled would help the kids that were having trouble. They were very integrated schools with about 50% white kids, 40% black kids and 10% international immigrants/refugees (mostly Asian/Vietnamese at that time, but would probably have been Hispanic today). And you know what? It was awesome.
Going to a completely integrated school is what made me the person I am today. I grew up with lots of friends of all different races and never thought anything about it. In short, my experience is what everyone hoped could be achieved when they got out and marched and sat in at Woolworth's during the civil rights movement. It was the whole point of Brown vs. Board of Education.
But by the late 1990's, Charlotte had become a banking hub for the US. That meant that lots of people moved in from other parts of America. They didn't like that their kids had to be bussed across town. They wanted the school system to function the way that it did in their home towns. So a judge reversed the order to integrate the schools and Charlotte's school system went back to being neighborhood-based.
Now, the wonderful, integrated schools that I went to are poor neighborhood schools full of poverty-stricken black students. Their test scores have plummeted. Perhaps it's proof that the dream that our parents had about the effect integration could have on black test scores failed. But to me that's not the point. The point is that now students in Charlotte are going to school with kids that look just like them, who have the same amount of (or lack of) money and come from the same housing situation. In short, they're no longer learning about tolerance and racial integration.
This whole story makes me want to cry. Seriously, it makes my throat get choked up and makes me get tears behind my eyes. How can people be so blind?
When I moved to NJ I remember feeling like there just weren't any black people. It's not that there weren't, I just didn't see any in my daily life. When I went back to Rutgers in Newark to study Spanish again, it was weird, suddenly I felt comfortable and like I was home. It's because I was unconsciously used to seeing black people everywhere, everyday.
My husband gets tired of hearing me talk about it. We don't have kids yet, but eventually we will and it is so important to me that they know about other people. It will take a supreme effort on my part, driving them from town to town, to involve them in extracurricular activities that expose them to people of different races. I thought about moving to a town that had more racial integration or was closer to Newark, anything. See, in NJ you live in a Black, White, Asian or Hispanic neighborhood and those are the schools you go to. Anyway, it makes me sad that today Charlotte and New Jersey are the same.
I feel extremely blessed to be raised in a time when the adults felt strongly about civil rights and actually walked the walk. You can't tell your kid that everyone is made the same and that skin color is just skin color and expect them to grow up not having some reservations about people who are different from them if you don't give them opportunities to experience true integration. How can people expect their kids not to believe in stereotypes if they don't have experiences that prove that stereotypes are just that?
Ugh. I feel very bad about this and also powerless. Ok. Rant over.
Feb 8, 2008
One of the things that I love about Mexico is that vendors come around on bikes selling stuff that you need. This guy has a horn that he squeezes while he rides around. He occasionally shouts out "AGUA!" For 4 extra pesos over what it costs to take your bottle to the store to exchange it, you can run down and exchange your empty Cristal bottle with him for a full one. I'll gladly pay 4 extra pesos for home delivery, thanks!
And, when you have the super ghetto, manual water pump that we have, it pays to have Cristal water. We don't have the flipping over issues that those crazy expats over at Dropped In had because we're ghetto like that. Now, if we could only get rid of our Electropura bottle so we only had two Cristal ones.
Feb 7, 2008
Well, if there's one thing that I think most Americans are looking for in the upcoming election it's change. I think we're all burnt out on the current political situation in the US (I'd say that if you're choosing to live outside the US right now, like us, you're probably REALLY burnt out). My sister sent me this video. I basically feel like whether it's Hillary or Obama that's the final democrat candidate, either way it's going to be change and it's going to make history if their elected- and that's cool. This video almost made we want to cry, though. It's so well done and his speech is so moving. Man- leaps and bounds from Bush's public speaking skillz!
Feb 6, 2008
Our phone is a VOIP phone with a New Jersey number. So far this week I have been called once by a woman in a call center, twice by Senator Robert Menendez, once by Hillary Clinton and once by Bill Clinton all asking me to vote in NJ's primaries for Hillary.
I guess Obama lost my number? Hello, McCain, are you there?
Yeah, we know who's got the big bucks alright...
Feb 4, 2008
Ok, on the heels of Mexico Way blowing up the gas truck and then Cancun Canuck switching from Zeta to some other company (undoubtedly higher in the alphabet than Z), we ran out of gas last week... or the week before... which should give you a clue into how much I love to cook.
For the last week+ we haven't had any hot water or any cooking gas. I was telling a couple friends about it and happened to say "We've been showering with cold water, but at least it isn't winter!" when one of them leaned forward and whispered to me "It IS winter."
Anyway, last Monday I stopped by the Zeta gas store (because they don't answer their phones- no seriously)and put in a pedido (request). They said they'd be by the next day between 8 and 3. They didn't come. So I went in again on Wednesday and put in another pedido. Same story, they didn't come. So I called on Thursday afternoon on the hope that they would answer. They did, I put in another pedido and they said the same story. So they didn't come and I didn't think anything of it. My parents were coming into town, so I figured I address it all again this week.
Then we got home on Saturday afternoon and there was a little door tag informing us that Zeta gas had been by but we hadn't been home and could we please put in another pedido. *sigh*
Alright- I'm off to call Zeta gas again...
Sorry for the short blogging hiatus, my parents came to town for the last few days. We did lots of stuff like scuba diving, cenote viewing, ruins walking, yummy food eating and souvenir buying. All in all it was a nice trip and I think the 'rents left feeling like we're going to be fine here and understanding why we want to live here. (They even said we should sell our house in NJ at a loss! Not sure we're going to go there yet...)
A couple years ago my dad got Open Water certified, but he never did any ocean dives, just dives in the quarry to satisfy the open water requirement. He was supposed to dive with us in South Carolina one time, but he couldn't clear his ears and that fell through. Then he was going to come to Cozumel with us last September to dive, but he couldn't find any reasonable, last minute flights. He finally got to see what it is that we think is so wonderful about the underwater world!
We decided to dive with Scuba Playa because our friend, Sophia, works there. We signed dad up for a refresher course where he went over theory and got in the pool and checked his skills. Then we joined him at noon and went on a shallow dive. He was very impressed with his instructor, Yanco, and felt like he received better instruction here than he did from his first teacher in Charlotte.
Meanwhile, we had deposited my mom at Kool Beach Club, where she could enjoy the beach with a waiter who could bring her anything she needed and even adjust her umbrella for her. She seemed to enjoy herself (and we strategically placed her next to the guys who rent the catamarans so she could have a good "view" if you know what I mean...).
My mom is in a wheelchair, so figuring out what would and wouldn't work here was a bit of a challenge. For instance, the Holiday Inn in Playacar has completely accessible rooms and bathrooms, so she was able to wheel in to the shower. However, they did put this tall toilet seat on top of the toilet that had handle bars and it made it really difficult for my mom to get up onto the toilet. My parents had to special request that they put the normal toilet seat back on.
Also- that's pretty much the only handicap accessible bathroom in all of the Riviera Maya. I might be wrong, but none of the restaurants or beach clubs that we used had any wheelchair-friendly facilities. We managed to work it out because we could help my mom transfer or climb the odd step or two. We managed. I can't imagine how much tougher it would be for someone in an electric wheelchair, but I'm sure it can be done. We saw a couple other tourists in wheelchairs while we were hanging around 5th Ave.
We also dove the second day and then went to dinner. On the third day we went to Grand Cenote so they could see where people cave dive. Then we headed back into Tulum to have lunch at El Pollo Bronco, delicious as usual. After lunch we headed out to the ruins at Coba. After a hot walk around Coba, we headed back to Tulum and had dinner at Zamas (it's pricey but the food is good and the view is unbeatable).
We dropped them off at the airport this morning. They said they want to come back and that they were thinking that maybe Wednesday was a good time for their next trip! ;) I think they might have caught the bug...