Friday, December 21, 2012



Yes, tonight is pizza night for the campers at the park. A caravan of three cars drove down to Leo’s Pizza for our Friday night get-together, but this Blog actually goes back to the night before last.

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After “Happy Hour” Wednesday night, Helen and I went for an evening stroll around the dolphin pools of Puerto Adventura, a few miles up the coast. I’ve mentioned this place before as it is an “upscale” condo and hotel establishment for the more fiscally endowed. There are several marinas that have large yachts moored. There is a great golf course, but we have yet to see anyone on it. And there are pools for dolphins, sea lions, and manatees. We have yet to see the manatees, but we did see the others. There are shops and restaurants around the perimeter of the pools, and outsiders, like us, can stroll through and spend a few bucks, or more than a few bucks.

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Clothing here is priced outrageously high and there are very few things that you can buy here that you can’t get for half price or less just down the street. The restaurants are different here than elsewhere, so everyone at the campground comes over once in a while to partake of a more Gringo type of food. Helen had a grouper fillet and I had chicken parmesan. It’s one of the very few times we were not served some kind of salsa and tortilla chips. Instead we were given warm bread and REAL butter, a nice salad and a well presented entrĂ©e. Service was great and the food was excellent! The price was only a little bit high, but well worth it, considering what we got for food and ambiance.

Chronologically, the cenote dive would come next, but I covered that yesterday. Someone is getting all fouled up and I think it might be me! OK, now for today, Friday, 12/21/2012.

Helen and I started the day with a beach day for the dogs and people reacted the way they always seem to. One girl dug her phone out of her pocket and took a few pictures. The three dogs never fail to amuse the people walking the beach. This is where the new picture for the blog heading came from, compliments of Gerry Arndt, our next door neighbor.

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Here we’re trying to line up the dogs, and this photo shows more of the beach.

Later, I headed up to Playa Del Carmen to do some shopping, bringing back fresh whole milk for Gerry and us, a commodity we insist upon. I mentioned in an earlier blog about the milk sold in cardboard boxes. It doesn’t require refrigeration until open and can remain in the cupboard for quite a long time. Too bad that it tastes so bad. I also got a few more things, but nothing important. I did stop to get some cash out of the cajero (ATM). Then I paid for another month here at the door of paradise. We will remain here AT LEAST through most of January. Every day we do not move the motorhome, we save a bundle.

At around 5:00 PM, we all left for pizza. Helen and I varied from the past ordering one with peppers, onion, mushroom and sausage (Italian). I think it was better than the Leo’s special, but Helen prefers the special. I can easily live with Leo’s special, so that’s what we’ll do next week. This weekly ritual is another fun part of being here. There is a nice group of campers and we seem to get along well. We have friends in the States who would fit right in with this crowd.

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After the pizza, we all take a walk around the small town. We walked by this electrical connection and we guys were amazed at what passed for wiring here. The wires on the left come directly from the overhead wires and what you see is the connections that lead to the meters. Some heavy rubber gloves and some cable with alligator clips and there is no need to have metered electricity, as long as you remove same before the meters are read. The thing is……..this panel is only a few feet above the ground and could EASILY be touched by a youngster.

The coming days may prove to be interesting. Last year, there was a great influx of Mexican Americans heading home for Christmas. Here, on the Mayan Riviera, we understand that the influx is one of MANY campers pitching tents on the beach and possibly getting rowdy. It seems that a truckload of port-a-potties was delivered yesterday and then later taken away. Is this to accommodate the crowd? Also, the road from the highway to the campground has been free except for weekends. Campers get back in at no charge. However, people coming to the restaurant or to the beach have to pay a toll to use the road. The coming days will tell the tale.



Thursday, December 20, 2012

Swimming in the cenote at Aktun Chen


A few of us had a most excellent adventure to the Aktun Chen cenote near Akumal. Shirley, Rob, Helen and I drove the 16 miles or so to Indiana Joe’s Adventure, where we got to choose between three possible tours, a dry cave tour, a wildlife tour, or a cenote tour.

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Here are the intrepid foursome, obviously well prepared for the dive. Well, not exactly………we could use our masks and snorkels, but swim fins were not allowed. A buoyancy device was mandatory. We would get wet, but there would be no diving here! I was badly disappointed, but by the time we reached this point we had already paid our admission.

The cenote is much like the Devil’s Den in Florida, except that you enter a world that is all cave with a shallow water level. Oh, it might be possible to dive deeper is you are allowed to wander “out of bounds”, but the area we traveled was shallow enough to touch bottom much of the way. Also, there were many places where the roof of the cave came very close to the water and we were cautioned to watch for low clearances if we should attempt a dive. All the pictures of the “dive” were taken after our first time through, with the guide. I realized that an underwater camera was not REALLY necessary as I thought that I could traverse the route while keeping the camera out of the water.

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This is where the tour began, but the picture was taken after we got back. I had every intention of making the loop a second time, but the guide offered to take a few pictures for me so I could be in the pictures. This is HIS cenote and he knows it very well, so as we went around a bit, he moved in shallow water and unknown paths to get pictures as we went along. There was a certain amount of fear in me that he would trip or otherwise end up with the camera in the water, but my worries were for naught.

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You can tell that this is “after the fact” because except for me, there are no dive masks in evidence.

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Here you see Helen and me at “Kissing Rock”. It’s a column of rock coming up from the bottom to form sort of as table a few inches under the surface. That white mass in front of Helen is the rock.

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And…’s the proof that “Kissing Rock” works, though Shirley and Rob were a bit skeptical.

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They quite obviously didn’t remain skeptical for long. In fact, if they were not sitting in the cold water, Helen and I might have had to throw cold water on them. He must be younger than I.

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This is very close to the end of our tour. My core body temperature was falling into the upper 80s. The ripple you see in the water is actually caused by my shivering.

An interesting note: Before entering the cenote, we are told to take a shower and use the mens’ and ladies’ rooms. Then we slip into the pristine waters of Aktun Chen cenote and discover that it is the living quarters for a population of bats. Any of you who know about bats knows about the guano that builds up at the bottom of bat caves. Here it doesn’t build up, it drops into the waters of the cenote and flows underground to the sea.

In spite of my early grousing about the mandatory float and the ice cold shower and the frigid ( to me ) water. I had a great time and now look forward to more visits to the many cenotes that dot this area, even though I know that the temperatures I endured today are the same at all the cenotes and I will have to endure them again.



Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Celebrating another day as a beach bum.


Not a lot doing today. I made some progress in ordering parts for the motorhome. After checking everything out, here’s what I did.

First, I checked with FedEx to find a GOOD way to get my parts from the USA to Mexico. The parts will be shipped to my son in Clermont, Florida, be repackaged and delivered to the FedEx office in his town. It will be delivered to the closest FedEx depot to me, which is 14 miles away. I will check the tracking and pick up my parts when I know that they’re near.

Then I went on-line to order the parts and have them sent to Clermont. They will be shipped tomorrow, but so close to Christmas I’m not sure what the delivery will be.

I sent an email back to FedEx in Clermont and my son, giving them the exact address of the FedEx depot down here. What could go wrong??? I probably shouldn’t ask.

A couple of nights ago we had a terrible time with the campground electricity. The voltage was going from about 88 volts to 148 volts that I personally measured. One camper has a digital readout that went to 180 volts at one point. I have a surge protector that I bought last year, but used for the first time when this problem started. It worked well and it would shut off power when the voltage went below 102 or above 132 volts. The next morning somebody fixed it. A palm frond fell on the wires and shorted out some ground or something. One camper had their inverter and microwave fried. The smell of something burning woke them up from a sound sleep. I guess the smell of smoke would do that. Sadly, the young couple was heading to Miami in the morning to catch a flight back to Europe. The repairs will hacve to wait until they return.

Unfortunately, my Surge Protector has failed, though it did live long enough to prevent any damage to our motorhome. I called the manufacturer and talked to Tech Support. The technician had several theories about why it wouldn’t work, but I went through the trouble shooting section of their literature and could dismiss them all. He asked how old the unit was and I told him that I bought it before coming to Mexico last year, but actually used it for the first time during this problem. I’m thrilled that all my electricity and electronics have been protected, but sad that the warranty ended last October. I told him that I realized that it was out of warranty and also told him that since I live only an hour away from the plant, I would bring it in for repair. HE told me not to worry, that they would stand behind their unit.

My other job around the campground is one shared with a few other campers. We have three dogs and walk them up the road, well away from the campground. However, there are several (4, 5, 6 or more, I can’t tell) dogs who live at the resort as “junkyard dogs” and they prefer to do their business in the camping area. So…….we dig a hole and bury the ……….excretion. Several of us have shovels and others have used mine, so I cannot complain about the campers, it’s just the way it is in Mexico. It’s a dirty job, but somebody has to do it!

Then, there is the awesome fishing. What is truly awesome is that  a fisherman of my experience comes back without so much as a bite, time after time. Today I walked down the beach and actually had the chance to hook a big one. What did I do? As I saw it going  after my lure, I quickly yanked it away so it couldn’t hook itself. “It”, was not a fish, but an immature brown pelican. I have seen seagulls and pelicans tangled in line and it’s not pretty. To untangle seagulls on the beach back on Cape Cod, it was a two man operation. One held the seagull’s head down with a shovel while the other tried to avoid being bitten while untangling the line. They are NASTY animals with a VICIOUS temper.

Pelicans look so adorable with their big brown eyes. One of the immature ones was swimming within 8 or 10 feet of me, hoping that I would reel in some morsel that I’d give him. I confess that if I did catch a fish I probably would have tossed it to him, but I’ve seen pelicans close up and they have a nasty tip on the end of their bill which could take out a nice piece of flesh. Today, no one got hurt, or fed, either.

Tonight, the plan is to drive down to Puerto Adventuras, wals around after dark and see the lights, and then have dinner at one of the many fine restaurants that surround the Dolphin/Seal/Manatee encounter pools.


More tomorrow.



Monday, December 17, 2012

Akumal Snorkeling


This morning six of us went snorkeling at Akumal, an area way down the road (10 miles) where one can generally dive with sea turtles and stingrays. We were not disappointed! Although there were a lot of people at the beach, we were not crowded on the snorkeling grounds. We saw several sea turtles, one large one with a remora attached and we saw a stingray with a blue runner (a fish) keeping it company. Actually the fish was staying near the stingray because when the stingray kicks up the bottom as it feeds, it often scares up a shrimp, small crab, or other tidbit. Then the blue runner zips in for a bite. I don’t know what the remora feeds on as the turtles are eating grass off the bottom and I’m not sure that the remora is a vegetarian.

After the swim, we took a table at the nearby bar and quaffed a few cool ones.


From left to right: Helen, Rob, Shirley, Brenda, and Gerry.


From left to right: Me, and Helen

In addition to the fish and turtles we saw underwater, as I was walking back along the beach there was a large bonefish swimming only about 3 or 4 feet from shore. In Florida, the bonefish is a prized target for some avid fishermen because it is hard to catch. They are extremely shy in shallow water and a noise in the boat or a sloppy cast can send a whole school of bonefish heading for deep water. Here was a very good sized specimen swimming along a very populated and busy beach. It was quite a surprise.

We all had a great time and I’m sure we will be doing it again. Of course, we have snorkeling right off our beach, but the first reef is not too interesting and the second reef is a long way out for snorkelers who do not have a dive flag buoy with them, and NO ONE down here uses a dive flag for snorkeling. It wouldn’t be so bad, but there is some boat traffic between the two reefs and it would be all too easy to get hit. We didn’t have a dive flag with us at Akumal, but no one else did either and we could keep our eyes out for a boat as we were only out a few hundred feet.

Just another day in paradise.


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Almost Shamed into Blogging Again


There have been comments made about some of us (I’m not the only one using Brenda’s Blog) have been taking advantage of Brenda by passing some of our responsibility off onto her blog. Well, that and that her blog makes us look inept. Of course there are some things that we did that didn’t show up on Brenda’s Blog.

I didn’t mention the wild thunderstorm we had a few nights ago. It sure got our dogs’ attention. Jodie was huffing and puffing like she does when we’re on the road. Sandy was trembling like a leaf. Coco was oblivious to anything happening at all. I had all three on the bed and when the storm finally passed, I wanted to get on my side and go back to sleep. Jodie wanted nothing to do with moving and she gave me quite a growl. When Jodie is comfortable, she DOES NOT want to be disturbed. She expresses herself with a loud growl and sometimes with teeth bared. She has never bitten anyone or even snapped at anyone, but the growl and bared teeth get my adrenalin going. I threw her off the bed and out of the bedroom. Coco hadn’t moved and Sandy was moved to a better location and I went back to sleep. A few hours later I had to get up, and when I did, there was Jodie, on the bed, and cuddled right up to Sandy. The odd thing about that is that if Jodie was on the bed first, she would growl if either Coco or Dandy even touches her.

Of course, we continue to take the dogs to the beach and they attract people each time. You may be surprised to know that pictures of our beach beauties are probably being sent all around North America and to Europe.


Here are a group of people watching the dogs chase the balls. The two people in the distance are from Germany and are staying at the Catalonia Resort just up the beach. We seem to see them every day that we take the dogs down and the gentleman will toss the ball a few times himself. 


This is, of course, Coco. Do you think this breaker bothered her at all? Not a chance. In fact, all three dogs take the surf in stride, buried one moment and after the ball after the wave passes.


This is what happens when Helen throws the ball so far out that the dogs can’t see it. It’s the first time it happened and I’m sure it was because of the size of the waves. A dog eye level, they couldn’t see the ball. There was a Mexican or Spanish couple standing next to me and I said in my best Spanish “ I need another ball for my wife”. They both laughed, either because my Spanish was good enough or because they were too nice to embarrass me.


This is how it usually goes. Helen throws the ball and it’s every dog for herself. First one to the ball (Sandy) gets it.  Then Coco gets the second ball and Jodie either chases the third or ignores it.


This is Brenda on the right and Gerry on the left talking to someone walking the beach. Brenda is the one who write the blog that I often refer to. Yes, I’m lazy, but Brenda does a superior job and I can’t come close. She may have been an English Lit teacher in a previous life. The people walking the beach come from the Catalonia-Royal Tulum Resort  a few hundred feet up the coast. We found out from one couple that all the guests wear color coded bracelets so the staff can tell at a glance what language is spoken. Clear is English, Yellow is Swedish. Blue, I think, is Italian, but there are many other colors as well. As I said, people from all over North America and Europe flock to these shores for a winter break.

Helen and I have come to think of ourselves as intrepid travelers, having come all the way from Central Florida to this Mayan Riviera. Then, we see something like below.


This German built land machine pulled in a couple of days ago. The young (by my standards) German couple are on a trip from Alaska to Patagonia. I believe that the shortest rout would be close to 12,000 miles, but they are not taking the shortest route. The husband told me that they have spent over 14 months in the USA, and planned on spending about a year in Mexico. I have no idea how much time they spent in Canada or will spend in the Central and South American countries, but this is a journey without parallel. We have seen a few other travelers with much smaller rigs, like on a Range Rover, but they were only headed from Alaska to Costa Rica…….only. To see more about this kind of truck, visit




Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I May Never Have to Blog Again!


If I play my cards right and camp in the same campground as Gerry and Brenda, I might not have to create my own blog. Today, Helen and many of the girls from the campground took off for a “Girls’ Day” in Playa Del Carmen. It gave us guys the perfect opportunity to do what we have learned to do best……..nothing. In fact, I got a little behind in my work today, so I’ll have to do nothing for most of the day tomorrow.

In all honesty, I DID walk the dogs……and I fed them. When I woke up around two in the afternoon, two were on the bed with me and one was on the floor beside the bed.

I downloaded the pictures taken during the day and found that they just HAD to be posted, but I was too slow. Brenda, again, did a most excellent job of documenting the girls’ day in town. I’d hate to try to duplicate her efforts, so visit her blog for the insider’s view of the day.

You will not be disappointed! Thank you Brenda!!!!



Monday, December 10, 2012

Yet….Another Day at the Beach


Yesterday we again had the dogs at the beach. This time we were accompanied by our campground neighbors Brenda and Gerry. I took a lot of pictures and Brenda apparently took a lot of pictures and we all had a good time. We met a fellow named Emilio, from Rome, Italy who is in the area with his girlfriend and his grandfather. He delighted in taking a number of pictures on his iPod. HE even tried to contact his girlfriend to have her join us but she could not be reached.

Brenda has a blog and did a much better job of our day than I could, and, I get to be in one of the pictures. You can check out Brenda's Blog,

I may default to “Check Brenda’s Blog” as my entry while we share the same campground. Don’t just check out the one’s with the dogs and us, check her earlier blogs to see about the area and the humor of getting a parking ticket in Playa Del Carmen.

Thanks Brenda!!



Friday, December 7, 2012

Another Day in Paradise…….again


I feel so fortunate to be spending time with my best girl and my three dogs here on the Playa south of Carmen. Yesterday was a busy day for me, running errands and shopping, but when I got back to the campground we fed the dogs and walked them, then took a ride just a short way to Puerto Adventuras. It was about a 2.5 mile trip. Puerto Adventuras is a multi use facility with a large number of condos as well as rental units. They have a marina with some large cabin cruisers capable of long ocean voyages. There are several large lagoons that house a number of dolphins, seals, and manatees. People can snorkel with all of them……for a price. Around the perimeter of the lagoons are many shops and restaurants.  Helen and I chose one for dinner and had an excellent meal.


It was getting dark as we left and lights were coming on, lighting the pathways and the important parts of the area. We had three dogs at home and we had to get back, but we will go again and plan to stay longer. The entrance is free, so we can go in and see the dolphin show or just mosey around. We can also go later and take in the evening ambiance.

This morning we took a walk down the beach as I wanted to check out the rocky looking area at the end of the beach. Right in front of the campground the beach is beautiful, mild waves, much sand, and no fish. At the end, there  are rocks reaching into deeper water and there was a lot of activity as small fish were being chased to the surface.



Today, as anyone in Dardenne Prairie would know, is Friday Pizza night. A dozen of us went to Leo’s Pizza for some pretty good pizza.


Here are: L to R..Jerry, Paul, Brenda, Gerry, Glenn, Maureen, Christine, Anne standing behind David, Percilla, and Robb. Helen, of course, is behind the camera.


What a surprise finding such delicious Italian Pizza in Mexico!

We are extremely comfortable here and have no immediate plans to leave. We have a secluded beach front and yet we are only 20 minutes from Sam’s Club or many other stores in Playa Del Carmen. Leche fresca (Fresh milk) is available everywhere and that’s important after spending weeks where it was not available. Though some people don’t mind, Helen and I couldn’t develop a taste for the reconstituted milk in unrefrigerated boxes.

I am afraid that at some point I will wake up and find that this has only been a dream.


Monday, December 3, 2012

Another Day in Paradise!


Yes, another day enjoying the air and water of Eastern Mexico. We started the day off by taking the dogs for a swim, though the only one who swims just for the joy of swimming is Jodie. Even in the pool, she will often go for a lap or two around the pool just for the swim. Coco and Sandy are only in it to fetch and retrieve. They all had some good exercise anyway and after a bath and a towel dry, they were worn out.

Helen and I didn’t mind leaving them while we went up to Playa Del Carmen for some shopping and Chinese food for lunch. As we left the campground on the road to the highway, we saw a young couple heading away from camp. We waved and then though about offering them a ride. I backed up and we made the offer and they were happy for the ride. That’s how we met Janya and Vladimir from Russia, a very nice young couple just married in Mexico. Vladimir studied English in college, so we were able to chat very easily. Since they were also heading to Carmen, we drove them all the way and it wasn’t out of our way at all.

Helen and I did some shopping and stopped for lunch at a little Chinese restaurant. My meal was pretty good and the spring roll was one of the best I’ve had. Helen was not as pleased with hers.  Since my last trip to Carmen, we are always sure to put on our seat belts. I’ve been stopped twice now and have not gotten a ticket yet, but there’s no use pushing my luck.

We hit several stores including a Super Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club and stopped on the way back fo ten gallons of purified water. So far, on this trip, I’ve done very well using the local water with a cup of chlorine to a tank o0f water. At the kitchen sink there is a filter that removes the chlorine taste for drinking water and water to the ice maker. However, we were told that the water here is SO bad (and a bit salty) that we prefer to be safe. We pay 10 pesos for a 5 gallon jug, or about 72 cents. That compares to $6.86 at our local Lowe’s in Inverness.

We got home and fed the dogs and walked them and now we are waiting for the 4:00 PM Happy Hour with many of our fellow campers .



Saturday, December 1, 2012

Spending the Days in Xpu-Ha

After spending a week at the Mecoloco Campground north of Cancun, we drove about 62 miles south to a beach-front campground only 15 miles from Playa Del Carmen and it is truly beautiful here.


This is located on a coast known as the Mayan Riviera. Between here and Playa Del Carmen you’ll find many very plush resorts. Even at the campground there are jet skis, paddle boards, kayaks and more. There is a fully staffed PADI scuba shop and you can set up for a fishing trip as well. Helen and I went snorkeling yesterday and were a bit disappointed as there was not a lot of fish on the reef closest to shore


The dogs have been having an incredible time in the surf and people walking the beach stop to watch them and take pictures. They are amazed that the three dogs take the surf so well. Even when the surf breaks over their heads, they are not at all daunted. They retrieve the tennis balls over and over and won’t quit until we finally take the balls away. After we wash them off and dry them, they zone out on their beds, tired, but apparently happy.

Percilla and Robb, who we met at Isla Aguada are here an, in fact, came about a week ahead of us. The report of the campground was such that Helen and I decided to bypass this one. Percilla emailed me that the campground book is outdated and that there really is water, 30 amp electricity, and a sewer connection.


Here Robb and Percilla are enjoying the Mexican sun. They are Canadians from Winnipeg and are much heartier stock than I, as they go for a swim each morning, often before my lazy bones are out of bed. I have to be coaxed into the water in the afternoon when it gets warm enough for me.

Beyond Robb and Percilla is another couple, John and Peggy. It seems as if they have been every place where Helen and I have traveled, except for Newfoundland. Not only have they been to the same states, but to the same cities with similar experiences. What I find shocking is that they have spent time in our area of Florida and have canoed ALL the rivers in the county and the area. They even found a campground just around the corner from where we live but didn’t know about! We went SCUBA diving from Anthony’s Key, Roatan, Honduras and so did they. We spent some time in Punta Perula, and so did they. Last night Robb, Percilla, John, Peggy, Helen, and I went to a little town about 15 miles away for some “really good Mexican pizza”. It was very good pizza and we followed that with a stroll around the small town. They had one road closed for a birthday party for some child. There were large blow-up slides and such for the kids to play on and every one seemed to be having a great time. It was nearly a full mo0on and it was a nice night for a casual walk.

We’ll be here for another 5 or 6 weeks, so we’ll have plenty of time to visit the ruins of Tulum and check out some of the cenotes, or as we call them in Florida, sinkholes.