Sunday, November 20, 2011

Memories and Photos

I still remember when we were circling Cancun Airport because it was raining so hard the pilot didn't want to land. He finally gave in and landed. When we left Cancun two weeks later, the pilot couldn't take off because the airplane toilets weren't working properly. After an hour of sitting on the plane the maintenance guy told him the toilets would probably work at about 16,000 ft , so we'd take off anyway and see if they worked! Thank goodness they did work.

I wanted to go to this restaurant I'd heard about on YouTube called La Cueva de Chonga. It took us two weeks, but we finally found it. The food was great and it had the most amazing kitchen. A pond ran through the center of the dining area with about ten turtles and fish cruising around. I'm so glad we found it.

I bought four of these amazing Mayan gourd lights. Each one has a special meaning . . . courage, wisdom, love, friendship, etc..  They came with a little light fixture wadded up inside the gourd. When we got home we realized the "light fixture" was an electric cord, a socket, and a plug. Joe had to wire them himself. So far they haven't caught fire!

I can still almost feel my two massages. They had a deal '2 massages for 50 bucks'. I asked if I could have 2 massages on different days because Joe didn't want one, and they agreed. Man that was great! Just laying on that table on the beach . . . the ocean breeze fluttering the white curtains and tickling my skin. Heavenly. Each massage was an hour of bliss. When I waddled back over to our beach chairs Joe laughed at me. I should have done it immediately after arriving.

A couple of nights before we left we went out to dinner with our Friend Janine, whom we'd met at Starbucks. After dinner we went to her really cool apartment on 5th Ave. It was right next to a bar that had a band every night. That night we sat up on her balcony overlooking the street and the band, and drank a bottle of Jayson Zinfandel. It was magical. She even had dark chocolate . . . yum. It got a little scary when I shut the sliding glass door to the balcony and locked us out. After several panic stricken moments she found a window that wasn't closed all the way and climbed through. Eso es Mexico!

I uploaded photos for this trip's blogs, so please take a moment to check them out. Until next vacation, Adios and Via con Dios.

Heidi and Joe

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Edgy Side of Playa Del Carmen

After having been here for two weeks you are beginning to see a layer not so obvious at first glance.

We wandered into the less touristy area at night trying to find a chicken BBQ restaurant. It was a little scary on the darker streets. We decided to come back the next day in broad daylight and have lunch instead. By-the-way, it was delicious. Whole chickens BBQ'd to perfection, and served with bowls of spicy stuff and fresh tortillas. Bottles of coke with straws was a novelty to me, but everyone did it. Maybe the bottle rims are dirty?

The storms come in so fast I can barely get my camera in time to catch the sun still shining as the black clouds stampede in.

We were at this fabulous fish taco stand the other day. It's on the beach access road. We laughed as six teenage boys ran off the beach, stuffing necklaces and bracelets in their pants, and dove behind the cars in front of us. The beach police cruised by slowly on their quad-runners. After they went by the boys popped out of hiding, dusted themselves off, and went back to work with no one the wiser as to where the jewelry had been stuffed. Note to self!

A popular tank top here is one that says "I love (heart) shoes, bags, and boys". This shirt is in practically every shirt store window. The other night an overweight, hairy man was squeezed into this tank top and had cut out big circles around his chest. Talk about low class! He was with a large loud group of men who mocked and made fun of everyone.

Captain Jack Sparrow came by my porch yesterday! I swear it was him . . . or maybe his look-a-like :)  He was amazingly good. He had the whole swaying movements and everything, you know the way Johnny Depp would lean back and raise his eyebrows when he talked. Very cool costume and everything. Joe thinks it was Johnny Depp incognito as himself..

This one made us both laugh for some reason . . . the other night we saw a giant cockroach trying to cross fifth avenue without getting stepped on. The funny part was he had a cigarette in his mouth. Those who noticed stepped around it to let it cross. It would have been a great Marlboro commercial.

A favorite beach bar is this funky bar at the north end of the beach called Cannibal Royal. It's three stories tall and has the design of a ship. Interesting people watching there. Absolutely beautiful view!

Everywhere we go people say "Hey Cowboy" or "Mister Texas" because Joe wears a cowboy hat all the time. It can really get annoying after awhile, as they try to use this one liner over and over again. The other night he left the hat behind and it was miraculous. No one bothered him or yelled out "Cowboy". It was great.

We have discovered this awesome side street that is an artisan market on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. They sell all kinds of funky stuff you can't find elsewhere. Joe bought me a gorgeous pair of conch shell earrings, and I got him an arrowhead necklace. Well, we're off to finish our time here with style . . . fish tacos, beer, and another massage on the beach. Thanks for traveling with me again!

Wine opened: Perry Creek Altitude 2401, '05' Zin . . . very, very nice. Strong heavy plum with a subtle smokiness. A special purchase from the winery owner's private stock. The last bottle is Modus Operandi, '08' Cab . . . still a little tight with a hint of citrus at first but settles down to a softer oak/cassis finish. And YES I do bring my own wine from home! Bikinis + sundresses + flipflops + mask/fins/snorkle + wine = less than 50 lbs.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Things That Make You Say "What The Heck!"

To this Californian, there are some things that just strike me as odd, out of place, or just surprise me.

For example in CA Tang is almost nonexistent . . . at least among adults. Here the grocery store has 5 feet of shelf space, top to bottom, dedicated to all of the various Tang flavors. I didn't even know it came in any other flavor than orange!  And then there is the popcorn. ACT II microwave popcorn comes in about 10 flavors (chipolte, lime, cheese, caramel, etc).

Sitting on swings at the bars is really a novelty. Not so sure how that works if you get drunk, but it's fun sober . . . especially at Senor Frogs. That place is a riot! It's expensive, but worth it for entertainment's sake.

We hear 'Hotel California' at least once a day, but the one that made us laugh and say "what the heck!" was when the Peruvian band was playing it with their native instruments. It was actually very pretty as an instrumental.

A huge apartment/condo complex, off 5th ave, has balconies like cages. The whole building is lit up with red lights . . . everywhere. Joe calls it the Devil Hotel. But that's not the weird part! Each balcony has it's own full size silver mannequin. The residents have free rein to dress up their own mannequin any way they want. It really almost defies description. The garb ranges from scuba suits to burlesque. Really weird in creepy way.

The other night we were at the Dirty Martini, with the gang from our hotel, when a big pick-up truck pulled up. It had an enormous tree root in the back that had to have had a crane to put it there. It was bigger than the truck! Roots stuck out at odd angles.
As soon as we realized it was a carving everyone spilled out of the bar onto the street to get a better look. It was absolutely phenomenal. Leopards, alligators, Mayan warriors, skulls, and Mayan symbols made a story. The artist explained it is for sale for 30,000.00. It took him 2 years to carve. (If you want to buy it, just comment below and I'll hook you up). It's purpose is to be in a large room with a huge piece of glass on it and "Viola!" it's a table.

I like friendship bracelets. My young friend, Isabelle, makes them for me all the time. When I saw the intricate friendship anklets/bracelets here I couldn't resist, so I bought one for a dollar. When the same girl came down the beach the other day I decided to buy more, so she stopped and gave me two big bundles to choose from. All of a sudden she grabs the bundles and dives halfway under my lounge chair. I turned to look at her curled up in the sand next to me, and she shakes her head and puts her finger to her lips, "Shhh". So I swivel around and see the beach police cruising down the beach looking for street vendors who had snuck onto the beach. Her two friends were laying flat behind a stack of cushions. After the police went by she popped back up and we finished our, what I now realize is an illegal, transaction. She smiled her thanks and sauntered off down the beach with her buddies.

Wine opened: Jayson Zinfandel . . . fabulous! Very rich and creamy with hints of chocolate and heavy berry. This was a gift from Telan, my PT intern and greatly enjoyed on the balcony of Hotel Freud with our new friend Janine. (For other wine notes backtrack to my blogs from this trip as I just added them this morning).


Monday, November 7, 2011

My Favorite Things!

Que Padre! (How cool!) This is a favorite saying of mine. Another good one is "Eso es Mexico!" meaning "That's Mexico". This is used whenever something breaks or does not go as planned. An example is I can't use my spellcheck here because my blog spellcheck is in Spanish while I'm here.

Oscar is still our favorite bartender in Playa Del Carmen. We call his bar 'Oscar's bar', but it's really called Las Deliciosas and is located on 5th past Constituyentes. The other favorite bartender was on Cozumel, at a little whole-in-the-wall fish-n-chips cafe. His name is Freddie. It is in the central park of San Miguel. Great fried red snapper and crunchy fries . . . the diet is out the window.

Favorite dinner place is La Parrilla. We like the food, the service, and the view of 5th Ave. The best part is the almost continuous Mariachi band standing on the street facing the restaurant. We love the chicken tacos.

Pizza . . . Bar Dello Sport located on 5th and 32nd. Thin crust pizza prepared by Chef Simone, an Italian. As we sat and ate pizza, and drank beer and wine we listened to two tables of Italians waving their arms and talking.

Best live music is a tough one because we couldn't possibly hear 1/3 of the bands here. That being said, for our tastes, we love FAH Restaurante Bar. On 5th, between 8 and 10th. It is completely open air. They pull canvas across the patio when it rains (which is frequently) . . . though that can turn into a circus show in-and-of-itself, especially when the canvas collects the rain and it sags heavy over the guest's heads. A waiter takes a folded up chair and pushes up on the canvas to get the water to pour off in massive waterfalls. The whole time this is going on the band continues to play under their meager shelter. Early in the evening they have a one man show with guitar. Later they bring in the full band with a 5-10 minute break. The cervesas are extremely cold. Speaking of cold, the other night I was so visibly cold the owner gave me her satin jacket to ward off the chill in the air. That night we were trapped there for awhile because the downpour wouldn't let up. We would have been soaked, and we had umbrellas. The food's okay, but their menu is hilarious . . . I took a photo. It means "Being fat isn't a sin".

Joe and I love to check out the hotels wherever we go. The choices of where to stay here is only exceeded by the number of places to eat! Unbelievable variety. If you like massive decadent hotels you will find lots to choose from. If you like it so cheap you have creepy crawly visitors, you'll find it here. For us we still like Playa Palms, our little condo complex the most. The rooms are spacious and have kitchenettes, and balconies or porches. The staff is so friendly and helpful. We have this amazing lady cleaning our room who makes a different design with our towels every day. I have taken photos of them all.
When I wake up the staff is cleaning around the pool and when I go to bed they are still cleaning. The narrow space where the 39 rooms face each other has a winding little swimming pool going right up to the edge of the sand. The beach in front of Playa Palms has so many palm trees and umbrellas it's hard to find a sunny spot. Hammocks are everywhere. If you like camping this is your place because it has the sounds of camping. For example my neighbor just now came out and asked me if he could hook his e-book reader to my computer to charge it. I loaned him my Nook charger. Two couples from the neighboring porch are smoking cigars, playing Rolling Stones, and laughing in that goofy way people do when they are just starting to unwind. They got here this afternoon.

The owners have all been here this week for their annual gathering. We weaseled our way into their party . . . it's an art. One owner showed me his room on the top floor at the very front of the hotel. It is gorgeous, partly because they have such a nice balcony. One by one they are changing all of the windows with triple pane glass to block out the noise.

Wine opened: Twisted Oak Petite Syrah . . . Smooth with heavy plum/berry notes

Well, I'll write later, Heidi

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Vamos a La Playa!

The sun is out, the sea is calm and clear, the beach is gorgeous, and we are happy :)

We've never been to a place quite like this. It is an extremely touristy town, but not just Americans. This is a hot spot for Europeans, Asians, and Mexicans. A couple we befriended were Ecuadorians living in Chicago (computer industry) here on vacation! Apparently the aggressive salesmen are not locals either . . . meaning they are not Mayan. The majority are from central or southwest Mexico, especially Mexico City. A Mayan-run store confided that these newcomers have ruined the tranquility of Playa Del Carmen, Riviera Maya, and Isla de Cozumel.

Private residence

Another less expensive private residence

It reminds me of Hawaii. The property is so expensive that the locals (or me) can't afford to live here. They all works 2 or 3 jobs and charge a fortune for everything. Let me give you some examples in US dollars so you don't think I'm exaggerating;

Starbucks coffee mug = 16.00
Negra Modelo = 4.00-6.00
One scoop of Ben and Jerry's ice cream = 8.00
Jet Ferry one way to Cozumel = 12.00 p/p
Cover charge for disco next door = 12.00 (45.00 all night w/drinks included)
T-Shirt 15.00
Fillet Mignon = 28.00
2 tank dive = 80.00
2 bedroom/2 bath condo next door to our little hotel = 800,000.00
Top floor/same floor plan = 1 million

Fortunately Joe and are used to living on the cheap and we share our meals. So those are the 2 negatives . . . moving on!

I'm in Disneyland/Las Vegas Mexican style. We don't go to cruise stop destinations, so this is probably normal. The streets are immaculate, the service is outstanding and shops are glittering. The restaurants are done in a combination of Italian and Carib. All are open air (except one English tavern on a back street). The seating sprawls out onto the sidewalk. Mariachi bands and an eclectic mix of solo artists roam the streets continuously.
Music is constant and everywhere. The other night we were sitting at a table people watching when an ancient, probably over 90 years old, man came by with an old wooden cart with wooden wheels. On top and on the sides were wooden slates of various sizes. He stopped in front of us and pulled out his drum sticks and began to bang out a tune and sing his heart out . . . I think. Not absolutely sure because the music from our cafe drowned him out, but he was adorable. Everyone tipped him generously and he creeped onto the next cafe.

Our favorite restaurant has a low balcony overlooking 5th avenue (as the local T-shirt says "there is more than one 5th ave!"). The best Mariachi band plays there almost all night. Que Romantica! Right now I am sitting in front of Starbucks sipping a mocha and watching two German girls with their babies taking a break on a park bench. A stunningly beautiful lady in a casual floor length gown is sitting next to me with her laptop on her lap. Her long black hair is coiled up on top of her head. Joe and I like to guess where people are from. The shoes are usually a dead give away. The Europeans wear really odd shoes. And they smoke . . . a lot.

The police presence is very good. It can get crowded and has the potential to get rowdy. Drinking alcohol in public is illegal here, and the police enforce it. With machine guns. I only saw one couple with alcohol and the police asked them to throw it in the garbage. The man hesitated, but the wife dragged him over to the can and made him do it.

Wine opened: Michael David's Sloth (Zinfandel). . . Rich robust jams, shared with the Ecuadorians and Grace fell in love with it (made her husband take a picture of the label so she could buy it).  Also opened Renquist Zinfandel . . . started off very good, but lost its gusto overnight even though I kept it refrigerated. Next time I'll be sure to enjoy it the same day and not pour large glasses.
Well the beach beckons . . . Hasta luego, Heidi

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

We're Here

Hola Mis Amigos!

Guess what . . . I finally feel like I speak Spanish. I'm not fluent by any stretch of the imagination, but I can converse. I'm especially good at protecting Joe from the predators (aka~street vendors). They see him coming a mile away, and he's so sweet. He can't untangle himself! I start with "No thanks" and proceed until I get to "Absolutely not, ever".  That usually does the trick.

We've been having a great time in spite of the weather. It's been raining off and on since our arrival, but it's still warm. We both have umbrellas, ponchos, and waterproof pouches for the camera and the laptop. The standard gear for tropical adventures.

On our first night here we went to eat at a "typico" restaurant on 5th ave. That began a series of shocks to our senses. Playa Del Carmen is NOT the sleepy little beach town it used to be. The streets are pedestrian only on 5th Ave. The shops are elite and very expensive . . . higher than California prices!

In our past experiences, Halloween here has been a somber experience. It is a couple of nights before a very important Mexican holiday "The Day of the Dead". Normally the 31st is the evening for preparing the shrines of dead relatives.

Although this happened in almost all the stores and restaurants, we were surprised at the massive number of children dressed up in really detailed costumes. I took several photos. I would hold up my camera and ask permission and the parents would hurriedly pose their children for the photo shoot. Sometimes the whole family would be decked out.

Our hotel is adorable and immaculate. It literally is on the beach. The way it is designed on a narrow lot creates a bounce for noise, so earplugs have been a must. At 1:40 am, I was startled awake by extremely loud mariachi music. My first thought was "I thought I turned off the alarm clock" located next to my ear. It wasn't my radio. It sounded like a full mariachi band was on our patio. I peeked out our sliding glass door and you guessed it! . . . a real mariachi band was on my porch! I absolutely couldn't believe it. The next day I mentioned it at the front desk, but they were just as surprised as us.

Tuesday was spent slogging in water and shopping at Walmart. We stocked up on Negra Modelo, tortillas and peanut butter. We have made our first friend, Oscar. He's a 20 year old bartender at this cute little street bar. He doesn't speak a word of English, so we love him :)

We had planned to go to Cozumel on the jet ferry today, but the weather is still blustery, so we'll go tomorrow. The most stunning news of all is that we haven't been in the ocean yet! That's unheard of for us. We usually swim regardless of the weather (just ask Mom and Jeanette).

Wine opened so far: Modus Operandi '07' Cabernet Sauvignon . . . fabulous! Smooth, yet rich.  Renquist Petite Syrah . . . nice caramely, jammy, hint of tannins.
Well we are off for a walk so I close for now, Heidi

Monday, October 31, 2011


hello travel buddies!

we are finally enroute to mexico. right now i sit here on the floor below the illustrious 'united club'. an airport employee told me that if you get real close to the doors you can get free WiFi. he's right :)  as i look around i see several other people with laptops loitering in the 'secret' free zone.

we were scheduled to leave 2 weeks ago. i rescheduled to accomodate my boss, which was a good thing because 2 storms went to the same place and we missed them. hurricane rina lingered a little longer than joe liked, and then she made a u-turn! so again we rescheduled for today. it's clear skies now, so we're off to mexico.

hopefully our hotel has WiFi like they said they do.  i'll write when i can.  my computor is all charged up now (joe found a plug by an electric car--under the WiFi club).  we are going to board soon.

hasta luego, heidi

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Operation E-Book Drop

I'm thrilled to announce that I am partnering with Operation E-Book Drop. This is a list of enlisted military personel currently serving our country who love to read. They sign up, and willing authors respond by sending them an E-Book for free. So far I have sent a free book coupon to 48 military men and women. I only have 100 more to go!  This is how it reads;

Hello Major Jane Doe,

I offer you this free ebook through in thanks for serving in our military and protecting my freedom. I truly appreciate your commitment to the USA.

H. Schussman

Free coupon code is #####, just click the link below to see what I'm about and click Counterpart to see what the book is about. I hope you enjoy it and that it gives you a moment to escape your responsibilities. All I ask is if you like my book please recommend it to friends and family back home . . . . please write a review if you have time. Thanks.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Another review!!!

As I share this with you, I realize I have not put any of my reviews up on my blog for you to see!  I need to remedy this error . . . Here's a review I received today . . .

"I honestly enjoyed this thriller of a book. Well developed and interesting characters and storyline. Once you get into this rabbit hole you’ll enjoy spending time as the plot twists and turns. It grabbed my attention from the start and held it throughout. I look forward to the next effort by this talented writer." JH

And a few others . . .

"A great fast read. Kept my intrest the whole time. It had everything from action to romance. If you liked the movie true lies you'll like this book. Can't wait to read her next book!" KH

"I really enjoyed this book. Could not put it down. It was very exciting and I fell in love with the characters. Can't wait until her next book." JL

"I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was gripping from the beginning, and fast moving without losing you in the plot twists with a tasteful touch of romance. I await the sequel." DD

"I loved this book. It was a fun read with lots of twists and turns. The characters were fun (or detestable!), but certainly interesting. The scenic descriptions were easy to picture in my mind's eye. The plot had me going from the beginning. I think this would make a great movie! Can't wait until Heidi's next book comes out." ML

Great Quote

Loved this quote from church on Sunday:

In 1980 a young man from Rwanda was forced by his tribe to either renounce Christ or face certain death. He refused to renounce Christ, and he was killed on the spot. The night before he had written the following commitment which was found in his room:

“I’m part of the fellowship of the unashamed, the die has been cast, I have stepped over the line, the decision has been made- I’m a disciple of Jesus Christ. I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away or be still.

My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is secure. I’m finished and done with low living, sight walking, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed vision, worldly talking, cheap giving & dwarfed goals.

My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions are few, my guide is reliable, my mission is clear. I won’t give up, shut up, let up until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up for the cause of Jesus Christ.

I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till everyone knows, work till He stops me & when He comes for His own, He will have no trouble recognizing me because my banner will have been clear.”

Monday, September 26, 2011

Coupon for Counterpart

Hello everybody! I 've generated a coupon to "purchase" my book for free to those who read my blog. The website for my book is .  Once you decide on the best reader format for your needs, you go to purchase and find the coupon box and enter NM87K.  Please get my book . . . the main reason I write is to intertain you.

Happy reading, Heidi

Saturday, July 30, 2011

COUNTERPART; my newly published novel

my book was just published on smashwords last week ( ).  yesterday i received notification that COUNTERPART made it to the highest level . . . the "premium catalog".  this is great news because it means my novel will be available in pretty much all ebook formats (amazon/kindle, barnes & noble/nook, apple/ipad/iphone, diesel, scrollmotion, kobo, and sony).  it is super easy to download onto your pc at home using pdf or the adobe reader ( ).  i think the adobe is a nice reader for a pc.

so enough of the techno garble!  i'm so excited to have finally published my novel. i especially wanted to thank you guys who have faithfully read my blog, given me feedback and encouragement.  when you try to get a publisher or an agent to read your book and they won't even consider it, it can be absolutely depressing.  whenever i'd get a comment from one of you, i would tell myself "just keep trying, eventually you'll make it".  well i never did get a publisher to read it, so i finally took matters into my own hands and teamed up with the strictest self publisher i could find - smashwords.  they have been wonderful. one of their recommendations is to market my novel via a blog. well that's easy :)  i already have a blog with over 160 followers.

so let me tell you about my book . . . it's an action/romance, or maybe it would be better to call it espionage/military/detective, though one of my editors thinks it's a comedy/espionage.  hmm, maybe i'm not being very helpful.  in reality i had one of those crazy chase scene nightmares like the movie "the smith's" or "bourne identity", and i woke up with my heart racing.  i got up at 3 in the morning, wrote it down, and that is what my book is based on.

the main character, Sport, is a feisty young physician who accidentally stumbles onto a plot to assassinate our president.  she seeks the help of a cia agent, Sean, (who just happens to be handsome) and he takes it to his boss. this unfortunately is a very bad move.  his boss is the bad guy. now they are both on the run. they accumulate a ragtag team of military men to stop the ultimate plan which is to kill the president.

one aspect of the book that really speaks to me is the ethnic differences between Sport (half african american and half japanese) and Sean (an american mutt with a strong pride in his irish heritage).  they are both very attractive.  they are both fiercely american.  they are also perfectly happy being single, until things start heating up.

this brings me to another aspect of my novel that makes me happy.  these two never have sex during the book!  i was so surprised because they are so into eachother.  but they simply don't have time to press that issue as they are running for their lives.  for some reason i find this appealing.  i'm sick of books and movies where they force a sex scene just be modern, when we are shaking our heads at the silliness of that actually happening while everyone is trying to kill them!

i also like the cats.  Sport has several cats who somehow end up having a character part in the book.  they each have a unique personality.

well i could go on and on, but then there'd be nothing left to read :)  by-the-way i should warn you that "COUNTERPART" is a large novel.  so please go to my smashwords webpage, disable the adult filter at the bottom of the page (PG for scenes of violence), type in counterpart and click search, or click the link above.  read the first 20% free and if you like it, you can buy it for only $2.99.  just remember it is an ebook, not a paperback book.  you are NOT going to get a book in the mail after you buy it!!!

i hope you enjoy it and don't forget to give me a review when you finish it.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Montezuma and Mexicali photos

this is the longest it's ever taken me to post photos . . . 3 weeks! i have lots of excuses, none of which would interest you :)

my memories have become rose-colored for the most part. for example i don't remember it being as hot as it was. maybe i acclimated, or i've expunged it from my mind. somethings won't fade, most of which i've written about. a few lingering memories are;

there are no building addresses . . . no numbers. they just say on ocean street, on the right, past the alley, up the stairs, (a really cute clothing shop, by-the-way). or turn right at the giant oak (cut down ten years ago), 2nd house on left . . . and that's where the mailman would deliver a package. packages take a very long time, if ever, to arrive. i'd like to say this was the case in tiny little montezuma, but it's all of costa rica. the government tried to change it once and the people rebelled.

one night, while we were walking home, we saw flickering lights. we stopped and tried to figure out where it was coming from on the beach hillside. finally we realized they were fireflies! i saw a firefly once in tennesee. this was a swarm. i can't believe fireflies exist.

sadly a drunk has stuck in my mind. perhaps it's because i saw him on you-tube before i left . . . 'the montezuma drunk'. he would stand in the street and sing off key. he has a big fuzzy beard and a pot belly. one day while we were visiting with a nicaraguan family, we noticed him crawling across the sand to get to the bar. nobody seemed to pay any attention to him as they stepped around him. he crawled about 20 feet in a half an hour. when we left he'd fallen asleep on all fours. so sad.

one night at base camp in mexicali we heard the kids start chanting "eat it! eat it!" naturally this drew the attention of the adults. apparently a large grasshopper had wandered into camp and a boy picked it up bravely.
the youth pastor stepped in to control the situation by starting a dare fee . . . anybody who wanted the teen to eat it had to pony-up 5 bucks. 25 bucks later the kid popped the live cricket in his mouth. i didn't see because i was too busy laughing at the spectators. all the girls had their hands up to their faces and were making little squealling sounds. the guys were grimacing, but leaning into the circle to watch. the adults were shaking their heads and laughing while looking away in disgust. tim is such a good pastor :) a little crazy, but that works with teens.

the last day in mexicali was the usual 1000 plus crowd for the annual fiesta. this year we got to see our old ministry site family; jose, daisy, ashley, and shayla. they came to the fiesta to see us. ashley is getting so big and she is so full of energy.

lastly, i loved this little burrowing owl. it was to the left of our base camp gate. everyday, always at attention, it stood next to it's burrow seeming to pose for photos.

well thanks for your time and friendship. i loved all your responses to my blogs. i wish more of them had been done on this blog site, so all of you could read them! until our next adventure, hasta luego.

heidi and joe

Saturday, April 23, 2011

home sweet home

we made it! my camera dock didn't! which means no photos until the youth group arrives tonight. i will send out a notice to let you know when i've posted the photos.

it was a different mission than usual. we had no idea that a big group of youth from nebraska would be there, and honestly we were a little ruffled at first. after the first day of watching them race around and
play in the dirt playground under the blazing heat, we were thankful for the nebraska kids. our seniors team could not have managed that for long:) towards the end of our time there over half of their people got sick, and they turned to us for help with a little translation. it allowed us to bond with them. now we look forward to seeing them next year.

terri and i stayed over at the women's shelter most of the day. our goal was to get to know the 4 women. i did about 10-15 haircuts, a manicure, and a pedicure on the ladies, their kids,
and the 15 orphans that took their afternoon meal and nap at the women's shelter.
terri did too many manicures and pedicures to count. by the last day it was like a big slumber party . . . all of us giggling and pampering each other. the final afternoon they made terri and i sit still, and painted our toenails with little daisies. unforgettable experience to have had the tables turned so neatly like that. i hope my daisies stay on for a long time to remind me of those women.

one lady took my heart. vanessa wouldn't speak or meet my eyes at first, but she warmed up after i cut her hair in long layers. she looked like a movie star. then i did her daughter's in the same style. she mentioned that her hair was dry from using bar soap on it. that night we made a walmart stop and bought two giant bottles of shampoo and conditioner. she screamed with delight and clapped her hands when she saw the conditioner. when i left behind my own orange nail polish they hugged me. i guess women are still women, even during tough times.

i fell in love with one boy who'd been abandoned by his mom, 14 years old, named leonzio. he showed such an interest in my cutting hair that i gave him the scissors and walked him through cutting terri's hair (not an easy hair cut). he did a good job! i figured i'd have to repair it later, but it was fine. the oldest boy in the house was ramon. ramon had a mohawk. when i left on wednesday 4 other boys also had mohawks:)

the women to pray for are lupita #1, lupita #2, vanessa, and jaqualine. this is first time in jaqualine's life that she's been united with all four of her children at once. they'd been there a week or so. lupita #1's been there for 2 1/2 years . . . the house mom. the amount of food prepared and clothing washed reminded me of the old movie "yours, mine, and ours". it was all managed with military precision:)

Monday, April 18, 2011

show mercy, do justice, walk humbly


we arrived at the mexicali border at about 10 pm sat night. seven of us in two rental cars. before crossing over, dan (our fearless leader)
followed his instincts and double checked the paperwork to confirm that we had the mexico auto insurance, which is required. he'd asked for it in san diego, but further scrutiny revealed that we'd not gotten the insurance. dan called fox car rental and they said "you'll have to come back to san diego or go to phoenix". let me remind you how late it was on a saturday night. after 1 1/2 hours he finally got insurance online for less money and we crossed the border. we were exhausted.

next day we set off for our new mission site to go to church. went the long way and arrived a little late like half the congregation. it was a great service! afterwards we went outside and were surrounded by a swarm of children. about thirty . . . mostly boys. a youth group from nebraska was there for vbs (surprise!), so we toured the facility that houses the orphans, and got a glimpse of the women's shelter.

our base camp is pretty much the same as usual,
thanks to the efforts of the base camp team who had to clean up and repair everything because of the massive earthquake that hit last year right after we left. apparently the upper parking lot split open and sulphur water bubbled out for 3 days. the huge trailer that houses our freezers and refrigerators slid of it's foundation. when we arrived it looked normal :)

today was our first day at the women's shelter. i did 5 haircuts and terry did 3 manicures and received a manicure from one of the teenage boys. incredibly nice people. basically four little families living together at the shelter. our sports team went out into the pueblo and invited the local boys to come play ball with them. at first no one seemed interested, but after a couple of kids joined them it opened the floodgates. they had about 25 young men from the community come out and play soccer, basketball, baseball, and red-light-green-light. of course this meant several young girls showed up to watch the gringos run around. i started weaving glittery curling ribbon in their hair (thanks lori and lora for the idea). next thing you know terry and i had a line-up of girls wanting ribbons. it was awesome!

lot's of hugs and kisses, heidi and joe

Saturday, April 16, 2011

san diego

we are going through our usual culture shock, this time in san diego.

thursday night we stayed at double tree cariari in alejuala, costa rica. i highly recommend it. what a beautiful hotel. the bed was absolutely heavenly and the service was excellent.
they had a nice pool with immediate towel service and if you shaded your eyes the attendant would drag a huge umbrella over for you and set it to cover just your eyes. amazing! it seemed even more awesome following our little hotel. we had no windows, just screens to 'help' keep the bugs out. we didn't need our key because it was so easy to push open the screen and unlock the door. we had hot water one time and it was so hot we couldn't take a real shower. we stood to the side and splashed the water on ourselves. how odd that we should be so frustrated with the inconvenience of hot water! the water came out like a garden hose, but it would occasionally shoot out a jet of water. i swear there was a camera waiting for me to let my guard down! i had to ask for my sheets to be changed after a week because i could smell them =( definitely a different experience here at double tree!

now we are in san diego, california, at another hilton. certainly not the caliber of costa rica, but the bed was comfortable. the san diego marina is so pretty. they had a regatta while we were there and i thought the street mimes were excellent. joe and i felt like a couple of yokels because we sat and watched a cruise ship back away from the dock. it seemed so decadent.

yesterday when i was walking off the airplane i twisted my hip and now i hobble everywhere i go. i can't tell you how thankful i am that i didn't hurt myself in montezuma. it would have been disastrous . . . no exaggeration. fortunately i got a good night sleep. it didn't solve my hip pain, but sleep is always good for healing. last night we were starving and tired, so we went with the recommendation of the hotel and walked to this little drive-up mexican food place. oh man . . . it was the best mexican food i'd ever had. ever! or maybe i was tired and hungry :)

well now we head off for mexico . . . a bold and dashing adventure . . . right?


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

goodbye montezuma!

it´s our last day and i´m blogging because it is blazing hot outside and this is about the only place with air-conditioning in this town. it costs 1000 colones-about $1.50 for an hour. maybe i´ll pay for another hour and just lay on the tile floor.

we just came from the waterfalls by our hotel and stopped here on our way through town.
when we finish here we´ll head over to joe´s favorite beach for some wave action, then maybe we´ll go over to the other little red rock river. maybe we´ll find time to stop at ylang ylang for a glass of malbec. tonight looks like it will turn into a farewell party for us. trying to squeeze as much as possible into one day.

joe got stung by a jellyfish yesterday. we were pretty worried about it because it seemed severe, but it just faded away in about 3 hours. he´s lucky.

tomorrow we´ll head over to san jose and stay the night. friday morning we´ll catch a plane to san diego and stay another night (our 31st year anniversary for when we started dating). on saturday our church group will pick us up and cart us off to mexicali for our annual short-term mission trip. we´ll be there one week. the computers are sketchy at best, so we´ll see if i can write. our ¨plan¨ is to work at an orphanage that also has a women´s shelter. not far away is a men´s shelter also run by the same church family. it´s different than usual and we are very excited about the change.

for awhile i was distressed over the lack of any apparent people of faith here in montezuma. as i mentioned, the only church is closed except for funerals. i prayed a prayer of sorrow for this. the next day we went past the soccer field, and there was a church gathering on the field. the next morning the hotel housekeeper noticed joe's bible, and started a conversation about how she and her bible study group were studying revelations.
later we were sitting in town admiring a hand-painted sign and i noticed, next to the signature, was a fish and in cursive it said Jesus Christ lives. a huge map of the town has a little note in the bottom right hand corner ´God bless montezuma´. that afternoon as we walked down the beach we came across a man carving a massive totum pole with writings in six languages on it. he introduced himself to us as luis.
we asked if he was the same luis who painted the map and sign. he was. we exchanged blessings and smiled pretty big as we walked away. last night a tourist asked us to explain why god let bad things happen to good people . . . right in the middle of the street! i wish people would ask easier questions:) we said ¨shit happens¨ on earth, but heaven would be better. i told her that God understood her anger and would love to hear from her, and she started bawling. i think this town is ripe for a major revival.

like i said, don´t know if i´ll write again or not, but i probably will.

love ya´ll heidi and joe

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Nearing departure from Montezuma

random things lingering in my mind . . .

we saw another clan of white faced monkeys at the beautiful ylang ylang resort. they were cavorting about on the sidewalk. i got some great photos of them.
a youngster was climbing the shade umbrella at a table (unoccupied) and running as fast as it could to make the umbrella spin, then it would leap off and grab a branch, jump to ground and start over. they drew a big crowd, but people here are very respectful of wild life. nobody tries to feed them cheetos like over on the mainland!

i have a favorite spot that reminds me of my childhood in trinidad (northern california). i sit for hours and sift through rocks looking for the elusive agate. the beach is called red rock beach. it is fed by a river with a series of boulder rapids. it's all shaded.
yesterday while we were there joe noticed a huge school of sardines in the surf. as we stood there and watched, the pelicans started coming in to feast and then the surface of the water looked like giant piranhas were eating the sardines from underneath. the school of sardines shrank before our eyes. this all attracted the next predator . . . the fisherman. it was literally the first time i'd seen fishermen.

when it rains here the crabs flood the streets, restaurants, and hotels . . . i'm glad we're on the 3rd floor:) the streets have so many crabs it is difficult to walk without stepping on one. they are brown with bright red legs. sometimes they get feisty and rear up on their hind legs. they're not any better at this than they are at crossing roads . . . they always fall over backwards.

i've mentioned the division of people here: rasta/dreadlocks/artists and working class/poker game/older guys. the other day we were walking by the soccer field and saw it was lit up, so of course we climbed up the rock hill to the main entry and watched the game. we couldn't figure out who the teams represented, but we noticed the red team was smaller, faster, and had dreadlocks. the blue team was heavier and older, but better. it was a very heated game with a crowd around the field (and a dog running around the field). later we found out that it was a spontaneous game between the "reggae guys" and the "seniors". score 6/4 . . . seniors won! apparently these games just randomly pop up when the mood strikes.

a mango fell in my lap at a restaurant the other day. we moved out from under the mango tree, and ate the mango a couple of days later. yummy. mangoes are everywhere.

everyday, everywhere we go is a workout! at night my legs literally quiver when we climb the stairs to our place.
i get calf cramps every night. after we played at the upper waterfalls with our zip-line tour, we had to go up stairs carved into the cliff wall. the 4 young men just took off up the hill. i was determined to keep up with them . . . i lasted about halfway up and i stopped and gasped for air with my quads trembling. they kept going. joe, wise man that he is, stayed back with me. i took off again and only stopped 4 more times to pant. you should have seen me going up the stairs to our room that night!

i realized that the howler monkeys that sound more like screaming humans are indeed the children of the family who runs the school. i feel like calling national geographic and sharing this phenomenon. sometimes my friend at work calls her children monkeys. i thought that was cute, but now i see that she may be telling the truth. these little guys can be quite intimidating as they corner joe and attack him with their dragons and dinosaurs.

i'll try to write again before i leave.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Screaming Good Time!

hi ya'll,

we went zip lining today. mom and mom, maybe you shouldn't read this next part . . . i'm just saying! anyway, most of you know what a zip-line tour is.
it's insanity. joe and i went with four other guys up to the very top of the cliffs of montezuma, had harnesses attached to us, and then they attached us to these cables that go from one platform to another through the jungle, spanning canyons. the only thing slowing you down is your gloved hand on the cable. the platforms are so far apart, that there are times when you can't see the next platform. when you get ready to go they attach your harness to the cable and let go and . . . ZIPPIDY-DO-DA, off you go flying a thousand feet above the rivers and waterfalls.
when you come careening towards the platform they reach out and grab you and release you for the next cable line. a couple of them where so fast that i screamed from the adrenaline rush while laughing. then we went to the waterfalls and jumped into the pools of water, shook off the water, and finished our 'canopy tour'. the last zip was crazy. i started rotating about half way through. it was a slow spin but i couldn't control it because it was a 'no brakes allowed' cable. unfortunately i stopped on my own before arriving at the platform, and a very very nice young tico rescued me:) the guys had to rescue themselves.

times out