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 entrée. 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.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012



Yup, we’re in Cancun, state of Quintana Roo, Mexico, traveling from Chitchen Itza yesterday. Apparently the state of Yucatan, where Merida, Progreso, and Chitchen Itza are located, is well funded. The infrastructure (roads) are excellent by U.S. standards. Also, the number of yachts, some of them very large, at the marinas in Progreso suggest that some of the population is very well off. Yucatan is known for its lack of criminal violence as there seem to be no ties to the drug trade. I’ll try to catch up after being lax in my blogging, but there has been so much going on.

Going back to Progreso, we took a ride to the Malycon in Progreso which is a walkway along the waterfront. Robb and Percilla were with us and we saw a lot of “tourist trap” businesses that thrive at the base of the pier where the cruise ships dock. Did I mention that the pier is now about 5 miles long?  I drove by the area the day before and I could see the Carnival cruise ship WAY out there.


Unfortunately, as we walked we were inundated with peddlers wanting to sell just about anything. We went into one of the restaurants and several peddlers accosted us at our table. More of them could see us inside and tried to sell something from the street. We bought nothing and soon returned to the campground.


The weather was very comfortable and the four of us gathered outside the campers in the late afternoon for a soft drink and snacks. They headed out to Chitchen Itza the next morning.


Another day, Helen and I went to the Mayan ruins of Dzibilchatun. You can pronounce it any way you want, but I found that double chin worked for me.


This structure is the “Temple of the Dolls”, called that because archeologists found 5 figures that looked somewhat human, but I saw the picture and I think the archeologists were at sea too long, like the old sailors who saw manatees and thought they were mermaids.

I came away from this site with more of an understanding of the Mayan culture and the Spanish culture that came after it. There was not a lot of restoration here as much of the stones used in the temple were used to make Spanish Missions and churches. The ruins in Merida, a few miles away are almost completely gone as so many churches and cathedrals were constructed by tearing down Mayan temples. Mayan writing can still be seen in the rocks used to construct such buildings. One of the greatest travesties here and at other sites is that the conquerors destroyed the written history of the Mayans. In all the world, there are only three books from the Mayan people and they are spread around museums in Europe.

Next on our travel list is the city of Pisté and the Mayan site of Chitchen Itza, perhaps one of the most famous Mayan cultural centers.


Helen and I in front of the northeast corner of the Great Pyramid. This Mayan city once covered several square miles and housed thousands of people. Interestingly, the upper classes lived in stone buildings while the “peons” lived in wood and thatch buildings. I found this particularly interesting because the same is true today. There are some very fine houses with new Audi or BMW cars out front. However, away from the main street you can find many buildings such as below.


As I was walking around the back streets of Pisté, a young boy of three or so was hanging out the door of one of these thatch and stick homes. He spied me and exclaimed to someone inside “Es Gringo!!” I’m glad I made his day.

In any case, Helen and I had excellent guides for our tours of both ruins. The guide here went into great depth on the scientific and mathematical genius of the ancient Mayans. The Great Pyramid is built with great precision to the seasons and the position of the sun, moon, and stars. They predicted a solar eclipse years in advance and missed by only four minutes. There is so much to tell and so many pictures that it is impossible to capture in a blog. Please, read the book “1491, New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus” by Charles C. Mann. It will give you a whole new insight on how Europeans took over the New World.

Then it was on to Cancun, and I will cover it next.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Our first days in Progreso


At Isla Aguada, we were camped beside Robb and Percilla for the week. On Sunday, they left earlier and made two stops before getting to Uxmal were we met up again Sunday evening. Monday morning, Helen and I took our tour of the Uxmal pyramids and temples and then Robb abd Percilla followed us to Progreso. I believe that the campground is actually in Chelem, but it doesn’t matter as we’re only a short drive to Progreso.

The entrance to the campground is from a very narrow street and in order to get into the campground I had to brush up against the beautiful bougainvillea bushes. I didn’t realize that under the pretty blooms were several lines of barbed wire fencing. The side of the RV got scratched pretty bad and I’m not sure I can buff them all out. Given my choices, I would rather go where I want than worry too much about the cosmetics of the camper.

The first order of the day was to make a permanent repair to the air line. I looked at the hole and it was not in a position where it was abraded or subject to heat. It just blew. Using my sometimes trusty GPS, I went to Home Depot to get fittings to fix the break. They had some small PVC unions that you just insert the ends and you’re done. I didn’t think it would fare well at 130 psi. I wanted a brass connection where there are ferrules. You slide the cap over the hose and then put on the ferrule. When you tighten the cap, the ferrule is drawn into a tapered section that crimps the ferrule and seals the connection. All they had at Home Depot were flanged fittings. Surprisingly, all their copper pipe and tubing are in inches. Tubing was 1/4, and 3/8, and pipe was 1/2, 5/8/ and 3/4. Also, there was a LOT of copper pipe, much more than I’ve seen in a Home Depot closer to home.

The best I could do was come away with a short section of plastic tubing with a working strength of 130 psi and a bursting pressure of 500 psi. The air tube in the RV fits into the tube VERY tightly and I had to put some effort into inserting my green tube into the repair section far enough to feel comfortable. Then I added small hose clamps to hold it all together. I honestly feel that it will hold, but I will convert to the brass union when I get the chance.

One great thing about this campground is that there is a cell tower about 100 yards away. The signal to my Telcel stick is so strong that I was finally able to upload blogs and use my Phone Power system to call home. I wondered how I would know when my time would run out and I found out the hard way. I was chatting with my son for a while when the line suddenly went dead. I clicked on Google and there was a message from Telcel that I’m sure said that I had to add minutes to my system. I drove out of the campground heading for Progreso and as I entered the main street I could see lights in the other direction. I drove down and was able to “recharge” my internet stick at the Farmacia. Driving back to the campground, I wondered how long it would take for the credit to go through. I tried to call my son again and it went right through. I’ve got to admit that the system for adding minutes to your cell phone or internet stick is great down here. Shortly after we started the new conversation the line died again. I went back on Google expecting to see something from Telcel. Instead there was a message from Phone Power saying that their internet phone system was down. I wrote a quick note to my son and realized that it HAD to be time for bed.



From Isla Aguada, Campeche to Uxmal, Yucatán


On Sunday we were to leave the lovely campground of FREEDOM SHORES and the delightful hostess, Thelma. Of course, not everything goes as planned. We were all set to move, but the air system that powers the brakes and suspension was not getting to its normal pressure. The rear air pressure gauge has been reading zero for a few days and I felt that since the system, as a whole, was functioning properly that it had to be a problem with the signal to the gauge. However, this time even the front pressure was low, so I shut the engine down and I could hear air rushing out of someplace.

I donned my FPC blue coveralls and prepared to get in place under the motorhome. I ran the engine again and shut it down and dashed under the coach. The air leak was not coming from the area I suspected, but high above the engine. Oh, no!!! Not under the bed again!!! Yes, under the bed again. Fearing the worst, I opened up the access panel to the engine and had Helen run the engine for just a moment. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the leak was just under the access panel  only a few inches from the sensor that feeds the gauge. With little to work with, I ran electrical tape around and around until it was built up enough to use a hose clamp. After starting the engine I found a small leak and another hose clam took care of that. Satisfied for the time being, we started our 200 mile trip to Uxmal, (pronounced oos-mal).  After some miles, the rear pressure gauge showed a decrease in pressure, hovering around 60 psi, so the red warning light would go on and off, but never dropped too much. I felt comfortable continuing to Uxmal. It was a good choice as there were no problems.

Uxmal is a Mayan ruins where several pyramids have been discovered and to some extent, restored. We were in time for the light show Sunday evening, but to be honest, I didn’t get much out of it. It was all in Spanish and the story was not understood at all by me, though the light show was interesting.


The next day we went to actually tour the area and we were not disappointed. We were among the very first to enter the grounds and we had the sense to hire a guide.


This was a very wise decision as he was extremely knowledgeable on the Mayan culture and the history of this area. Uxmal means three times, for this area was settled and deserted three times over thousands of years. It thrived during periods of much rain as the only water source was rainwater stored in a vast number of cisterns. During periods of prolonged drought, the Mayan people would venture back into the jungle to places where water was available. Later, a new group would move back during rainy conditions and build new temples on top of older ones.


This is the Dwarf Pyramid, supposedly built for the gods in one night by a dwarf working with a large number of elves. It has the distinction of having a round or oval base and structure instead of the rectangular construction found elsewhere in the Americas or the world. Also, standing where the photographer stood, clapping your hands gets an echo that sounds like a bird and is supposed to be the call of the Quetzal bird.


Viewing this building, we were told that the ground we were standing on was actually on the roof of other buildings below. The the guide led us to the side and showed us two more levels below. On the lowest level was a round hole that archeologists drilled to see how far down the ruins go. They determined another 29 feet or so.


This is the main pyramid and the only one we were permitted to climb. Helen and I passed on the climbing part. In fact, we opted to take the graded path around the pyramids to avoid some of the long steps we took on the way in. The above picture is the only restored face of this pyramid.


This picture is taken of the same pyramid as above, but in the original state. The truth is that many of the hills in this area are actually temples or pyramids that have yet to be restored. The Yucatan people of today have no idea of just how much of a Mayan civilization is covered by the hills and vegetation of the state.

There is so much to see that this short discourse cannot do it justice. Our friend Sue recommended the book “1491'’ which is a comprehensive study of the Americas before the coming of Columbus. It makes the case that the Americas were more advanced in many ways at that time than Europe. To see the unbelievable extent of Mayan temples, built by hand, using hard rock for tools…….well…it’s mind boggling.

Since the air pressure was no problem on the way to Uxmal, I decided to wait until Progreso to do a more permanent fix.We are in Progreso now I have fixed the air line. In another blog I will talk about Progreso and Mérida.



Monday, November 12, 2012

Isla Aguada


We are spending a week at the beautiful Freedom Shores of Isla Aguada. This is just off route 180, the main road between Mexico City and Campeche or Merida. From the campground we can see truck after truck heading further east along the Yucatan peninsula.


This is the beach through the windshield. It is really beautiful, but if I hear one word about a hurricane we’re out of here! There may be a tide, but I can’t discern a high or low tide, though I can see the current passing by. Each night around sunset dozens of hungry birds gather a hundred yards out to feast on the small fish. We find that the odd looking pelicans display an amazing dexterity in the air and are very efficient at catching fish. How that can glide, inches above the water for such log distances is awesome.


Sunset from our “patio” looking over the bridge from the west.IMG_9108

Our accommodations as seen from the beach. When we arrived here on Sunday afternoon, the place was jumping. There were several campers and there were people in the motel behind us, which is part of the compound. In addition, a lot of local people walk down the lane beside the compound to use the beach. Monday morning there was a couple from Winnipeg and us, and that’s the way it has been ever since.  They are a quiet couple, so all the noise around here is cause by our dogs, Coco in particular.

The worst thing is that the internet wifi advertised is not in service. My Telcel works on and off at random moments. Though the political ads drove me nuts when we were in the states, I WOULD like to know who gets elected in Florida and the Nation.

OK, this part is being written at the end of the week, Saturday evening and we’ll be leaving for points north east in the morning. It has been a mosdt enjoyable stay. This camp is immaculate with the help sweeping constantly. The staff is very polite and anything we ask is quickly granted. Thelma, the owner, is something special! This petite woman is in charge of the whole place and she does so like the captain of a ship. Everything is under her ever watchful eyes and nothing escapes her. Her restaurant, “La Gringa” is excellent. I looked at the menu tonight, but I just couldn’t pass up the shrimp one more time. EXCELLENT.

In the morning we will head for the ruins at Uxmal (pronounced ooos-mal). Bob and Pricilla, the folks camped beside ue will meet us there. There is another site of ruins on the way, but the books say to see the lesser one first, because you will never return after seeing Uxmal. I think Bob and Pricilla will try to stop if they have time. Helen and I choose to bypass and go to the better ruins. Does that make sense? It sounds funny talking about the “better ruins”. In the AM, I will take care of the de-camping ritual outside the camper while Helen battens everything down inside.

That said, it is now Saturday 11/10/2012, a little after 7:00 PM CST, but I have no idea when I can actually post this due to the terrible Wifi/Telcel stick coverage. Even when I borrowed a Moviestar stick from the management, I still couldn’t post a blog.


Trying to post again, 11/12/12

Friday, November 2, 2012

Notes from Helen

Hola to all my friends!

Paul and I crossed the border into Mexico on October 25th. We spent our first night in the city of Saltillo then traveled on, heading south to the City of  Queretaro. In Saltillo we we able to obtain our Mexican cell phones as ours were rendered useless the minute that we crossed the border. In Queretaro, we bought a membership to Sam's Club. This was recommended to us by frequent travelers to Mexico as Sam's Club carries so many of the items that are familiar to us in the States, and are otherwise hard to find in Mexico.

We arrived in the city of Puebla on the 28th, which just so happened to be our 45th wedding anniversary. Paul surprised me with 2 dozen roses that he had purchased from a street vendor. Had to do a little adlibbing to come up with a vessel for the beautiful roses and this was the best that I could do..................a "camper vase"!


Our campsite is actually in Cholula which is just on the outskirts of Puebla. The park consists of 3 grassy courtyards all contained behind a gated wall. One of the courtyards is totally empty so we are able to let the dogs off leash and have them chase the ball till they are tired out. Since there is so much to see and do in this area, we decided to stay here a while. 


Puebla is Mexico's 4th largest city and is surrounded by mountains including the Popocatepetl Volcano. It is a very sophisticated city with a lot of history and is known throughout the country for it's food. The country's national dish, Mole Poblano, comes from here. The historic central area is elegant with a distinctive colonial flavor.



We spent a day walking around the city and taking pictures of the ornate centuries old cathedrals, the parks with their prolific trees all bearing exotic flowers and fruits, and the colorful colonial buildings with their outside cafes. At one of these, we enjoyed tasting some of the local traditional soups.


We were also privy to seeing local  groups perform their traditional dances and theatrical performances in the city's plazas.




The area is full of festivals and celebrations. The ambiance is every where.............even to the Sweet Shops which display the carefully sculpted skulls made of sugar. A fun and lively place to be this time of year despite the moniker.................Day of the Dead.



This is the time of year that the people Mexico celebrate their deceased loved ones in a holiday known as  "Dia de Muertos" of the dead. This is celebrated by the building of altars to honor their departed. These altars are usually built in households but can also be found street side and even in local plazas. The altar, dotted with candles, contains the photo or the portrait of the deceased.Offerings are placed on the altar by friends and loved ones in the form of flowers, fruits, sweets, and breads.................usually those favored by the deceased. Marigolds are the traditional flower used on the altars and fields of them can be seen growing in the surrounding area.




We were honored to be invited by the owner of our campground to visit the altar his family had made for his father. Having nothing else to offer, we left a half dozen of our anniversary roses to honor his memory.


We found that Cholula is home to the largest pyramid in the world. It is not as tall as Egypt's tallest, but it outranks it in volume. We entered into one of the underground tunnels................there are over 5 miles them.


All, of course, are not accessible. Most of the ruins remain under ground, but scattered throughout the hillside we could view sacrificial altars and plazas that had been is a work in progress.




When the Spanish came, 60,000 to 70,000 of the indigenous people were slaughtered in the tunnels of the pyramid. This was their most sacred ground, their religious focal point, and to add insult to injury, the Spanish conquerors built their Catholic church atop their holy ground. There is currently a movement to educate the local people that they are NOT Hispanic Not Latino, but are the surviving descendants of this once proud and prospering populace. 

Hope you are all doing well...............will keep in touch................hope you all do too!