Posted by: lianadevine | 16 February 2008

Nothing Ever Happens

Days at the beach pass pretty much the same…getting up before it gets too hot, showering in the beach baño while looking out at palm trees and azaleas under a clear blue sky, drinking morning coffee on the beach. Noon comes before you know it, and now it’s a beer under the palapa, watching people and parasailers go by. By dusk, we’ve had a light meal and watch a little telenovela, conserving sunjuice by going to bed before we have to turn on any lights. Tomorrow will be another identical day.

On one of our trips to check email, we read that Walter and Gill are headed our way. The timing is almost perfect and coincided with our plans to connect with Harry and Maryann. Walter also makes an astute observation, on reading our blog, that life at the beach is like a Seinfeld episode, where nothing ever really happens. No wonder he’s anxious to come and find out for himself.

While waiting for these latest flexible plans to come together, we passed a couple more weeks of such idyllic-yet-Seinfeld “nothing” that included:

They Paved Paradise to Put in a Parking Lot: The early morning quiet was broken by the sound of a chainsaw from the beach next to our camp. We watched in horror as a fine old pine tree was cut down and bucked up. As I ran out to take some photos, The Big Pine comes downI called out to Bob, “How do you like them paving paradise to put in a parking lot?” He replied,”I hate it”. It is rumoured the restaurant and shops of a ritzy condo complex will be built on this lot, effectively eliminating local access to the beach.

Photo Shoot at the Beach: On a couple of sultry afternoons, as Calvin and Bob were people-watching and I was on the beach with Spike, there were two models doing their cat-walk in the palapa next door. Their skimpy white outfits Beach Babesshowed a lot of tan skin; nice contrast, according to the guys on my side of the fence who like to gawk and talk.

Topless Soccer: Another day, Calvin had to fix Bob’s binocs in time to observe the co-ed game of soccer between shirts and skins that took place on the beach just out of bifocal range. Hmmm….no photo available.

Living in a Bus on the Beach: With few expenses and no income, but plenty of time on our hands, we turned to projects and crafts to fill our days. Together we decorated some photo frames with sand and shells to give to our friends at the beach on our departure. I worked on a photo album while Calvin built a cathair brush, Calvin’s Cathair brushawning puller and footstool and fixed Bob’s gas line and CD player, which hadn’t worked in over two years, having been damaged in the hurricanes. Was it any wonder that the first tunes out of Bob’s door was Jimmy Buffet?

Cyberspace now farther than ever: Our “local” internet shop closed for renovations, forcing us to trek into Playa del Carmen each day to check email. Physically, this wasn’t far, but because of the traffic on narrow congested streets that have not been improved to handle the explosion of people and vehicles over the past 5 years, it became a half hour journey in and out, and hours driving around in circles on one-way streets, looking for parking. In Calvin’s opinion, Playa is the worst Mexican city for traffic he’s experienced to date (and we’ve driven in 29 of the 32 Mexican states).

Green Tortoise Encounter: We expected Shaunna and Lyle’s return from their Green Tortoise “Pyramids and Playas” tour to Belize and back, so we packed a little cooler with refreshments and waited for almost two hours at the highway intersection near our camp. We were just about to give up when we both spotted their big green bus at the same time. I leapt out to flag them down as they slowed for the tope while Calvin drove the Thing to the side of the highway ahead. Lyle saw the crazy woman jumping and waving, and pulled over beside the Thing. We had a quick hugOne More Hug on the road, and though we tried to organize a get together either in Cancun or Playa, the fates were against us.

There Was a Reason Why: The next day, while I cooked lunch on the outdoor stove and Calvin was working at the table alongside the bus, a white van pulled into the beachcamp, turned toward us to back in and park, but stalled, spewing smoke inches from where we stood. It was Sandra and her family, on their way to find some good ceviche at the beach. Calvin came to the rescue, diagnosing their failed waterpump and, after filling with well-water, advised them to head straight to the highway and call a tow-truck. We told Sandra we’d drop in and see them the next week when we came to Playa.

Good Karma, Bad Karma: The next Tuesday, we gave a lift to a man carrying a heavy box full of carpentry tools. As we dropped him off in downtown Playa, I gave him some money to buy food, in case he didn’t find the work he was after. We decided to look SandraSandra at Casamara up, at the hotel she owns just off the Strip in Playa, Casamara. After a tour of this oasis in the middle of Tourist Mecca, she invited us to stay for lunch, which we gratefully enjoyed with her, her dad and step-mom. On leaving Sandra’s, we found a traffic cop just writing up a 600 peso ticket for parking illegally. “No offense meant”, but he would go away for 200 pesos, so Calvin decided that was the best way to handle it. Later that week, the lavanderia beside the former internet cafe turned all my whites yellow, and in bleaching them back to white, ruined a new blouse and shortened the life of the elastic in our underwear. But two days later, when we gave a lift to another man carrying about a dozen grocery bags back from the bus stop on the highway, he gave us his blessing, so I guess our karma is back on the good side.

Free Food and Beer: Luzi loves to cook, and since the beachfront restaurant she and Juan owned was destroyed by the hurricanes two years ago, she has had little chance to feed people, other than Bob and the construction crews from nearby condo complexes. So she started a little spree of sending food our way with Joaquin, who delivers Bob’s lunch every day. We had some delicious ceviche, Snacking on Cevichecoconut milk still in the coconuts, spaghetti with albondigas (Mexican meatballs), various caldos and sopas. I had to tell Luzi to stop or we would get fat, but we did arrange to have her prepare a meal for our last night in camp. Calvin had done several fixes around the camp, and we are sure this was Juan and Luzi’s way of repaying us.

Suppose They Gave a Party and Nobody Came?: We invited our beachcamp friends to a Canadian dinner, planned for the night after the state elections. Since liquor cannot be sold around an election day, Juan’s bar would remain closed over the weekend, and they planned to go to Cozumel. Luzi asked us to change to the Tuesday, when they would be home from the island. Sure, no problem, we’re nothing if not flexible, right? But they didn’t go to Cozumel after all, and on the Tuesday, had an emergency in Valladolid where their older son is going to university. So our dinner of spinach salad, real USD barbecued beef, wild rice, broccoli casserole and sandia (watermelon) mousse for dessert, waited an hour before Bob, Joaquin, Calvin and I went ahead and ate. We got the message later that they were staying the night in Valladolid, so we replayed the leftoversJuan and Luzi at their private diner for Juan and Luzi the next evening.

Significant Spanish Smalltalk: Away from the Tourist Mecca Resorts, we conversed with the locals exclusively in Spanish, a great opportunity to improve. We learned about the hurricane damage and cleanup, how much construction tradeworkers make, and about the mysterious sirenas just offshore who have the tail of a fish but the hair and chichis of a woman. I just about busted out laughing – pun intended – as my tipsy weekend fisherman friend told me about this.

The Despedida: Saturday February 9, a month after leaving Bacalar, we set out for Puerto Morelos to pick up Walter and Gill at their all-inclusive resort. We brought them back to our humble beach paradise and soaked up some sunLeanne and Gill enjoy fresh Coconut milk and cerveza in the morning. Around noon, we fed them the batch of Frijoles Charros we had prepared the day before – like chili con carne, frijoles are better after their flavours blend. We tidied up the dishes while they siestaed on the beach, then it was off to Playa del Carmen to pick up Harry and Maryann, who had bussed in from Cancun. We anticipated it was a long hot, dusty trip, so welcomed our latest visitors with refreshments in the parking lot.Mexican Welcoming Party Down the Strip we went…how many times now for Calvin and I?? Back at our beachcamp, we introduced Harry and Maryann to the locals and our amenities, then enjoyed Luzi’s now-famous ceviche followed by a typical Yucatecan meal of salbutes and panuchos, both delicious variations on the theme: what can I pile onto a tortilla without it falling off? The Dessert Queen provided the evening’s finale with a no-bake Pastel Frio, a layered cake of lemon cookies sandwiched with sweetened condensed milk thickened with lime juice. We said our goodbyes to Walter and Gill and packed them off in a cab back to their resort, then settled Harry and Maryann into our bus-house for the night. Our poor-man’s version of the Pyramids and Playa tour would begin early the next day.

With the beach lifestyle we’ve been living, where it’s “nothing to do and all day to do it” I’m sure I’ve forgotten some event or detail. But such were the days of our lives…

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Responses

  1. Sandra kindly left us this comment, which I have copied to here:

    “This two angels helped me fixing my Van to get back home from the beach. I was very honored to have their visit last night when they rented the studio for the night. I found Leanne swinging in the hammoc looking at the palapa ceiling with a big smile. They stayed at the room where everything started in casamara.

    They are an adventurous, generous, interesting, smart, helpful, kind, loving couple. Buen Viaje!”

    Thanks for your kind words, Sandra – I wish everyone we know could spend a night with you at Casamara! It’s beautiful! Leanne


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