Saturday, November 4, 2017

Ilsa Mujeres, Round Two

It’s always easy to book the earliest flight out of Sacramento. It’s not so easy to get up at 3:00 am. This time we flew United and that was a good decision. They didn’t wait until 24 hours before our flight to tell us we had to pay a couple of hundred dollars extra to sit together like American Airlines. United lets you choose your seating ahead of time. The only downside is they didn’t give my luggage a seat. My suitcase got left in San Francisco. On a positive note I feel vindicated for all the years that I have packed a full change of clothes, swimsuit, sarong, incidentals and vitamins in my carry-on. I had everything I needed… except the two bottles of wine in my suitcase. Fortunately it arrived at the hotel the next day.

By the way, we’re back on Isla Mujeres. This little tiny island is on the Caribbean side of Mexico. It’s incredible how safe it is here. Obviously you can get in trouble if you look for it, but it doesn’t come to you. I like that. Bill came with us this time, so we treated him to a special dinner at the hotdog stand. These aren’t just any hotdogs… these are wrapped with bacon and grilled until the bacon is crunchy. Then it is placed in a grilled bun and smothered with sautéed onions and jalapenos. That was Monday night.

Karina, my Guatemalan daughter, arrived on Tuesday night on the ferry. She came off the ferry with some guy pulling her luggage for her. As soon as she saw Joe’s face, she snatched her bag out of his hand and said goodbye. She thought Joe was going to be mad at the guy for picking up on his daughter… lol. It was pretty cool to introduce her to the Caribbean. Her reaction was priceless when she followed our lead and took of her shoes off. She stepped down into the silky white sand and said, “Oh wow, oh my gosh… oh,” and then she giggled as she wobbled after us in the shifting sand.

The next morning she stopped in her tracks when she saw the brilliant turquoise sea. “Look at the colors!” Of course this was followed by boldly walking into the ocean with the three of us… well ‘bold’ might be pushing it. Within fifteen minutes she’d mastered floating on her back and half an hour later she swam all the way out to the buoys.

This is always an interesting time of year to visit Mexico. The day of the dead (Dia de Las Muertas) is important everywhere, but in the more touristy places they combine the American Halloween customs with theirs. Starting on October 30st the kids begin shamelessly begging for candy at all the gringo hangouts dressed up in ghoulish outfits. On November 1st the local cemeteries are crawling with family members with buckets of paint and fresh decorations. This is the day devoted to the children who’ve died. Teenage dancing groups perform in the streets… first they sway back and forth like ghouls with heavy serious music. Then they change the tempo and throw back their scarves to reveal skeleton painted faces and whip into a frenzied dance. Nov 2nd is the day for deceased adults.

We were sitting upstairs on a terrace listening to a singer strumming his guitar, when he was suddenly drowned out by a performing group working their way down main street. He stopped and went to the edge to look over. We all followed suit. We’d just paid our bill so we went down and joined them for a bit as they swayed to somber music and then broke into dance.  Then we went and watched the little children drive tiny motorized cars around the church courtyard. Finally we headed back to the hotdog stands and ate dinner sitting on plastic stools and juggling messy dogs, napkins, Styrofoam plates and a brisk breeze. (It’s a skill developed over many years of travel!) Mind you, this was all after sunset. Because of the island heat, this town doesn’t come out of hiding until dark.

Joe has gotten his usual teasing from the vendors about his cowboy hat, “Hey Texas, hey cowboy! You wanna buy some tequila? Cigars? Dope?” So what’s this mean? Do Texas cowboys come here and drink tequila and smoke cigars or weed? Bill and Joe have a standing bet about how many times someone will ask Joe if he wants tequila. But if he’s not wearing the cowboy hat, they ask him if he wants to go snorkeling or fishing :)

We got to see our friend Mario on Tuesday while we were waiting for Karina to arrive. He is just as on fire for the Lord as always. It was fun to see him get all riled up and excited as he told Bill his testimony. At first Bill was interested, but then Mario kept getting closer and closer. For someone intense like Mario, having them inside your personal space can be too much. When we saw him later, his way of introducing himself to Karina was, “Do you know Jesus?” Karina was a little overwhelmed… hehe.

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