Rubber Legs and Ruins: Conquering Cobá

July, 2003. I got up bright and early, ready for Cobá. I had asked the bus driver on the way back from Tulúm about the bus schedule to Cobá; he told me that they left the town of Tulúm at 7:00am. So at 6:40am, I was outside our hotel, waiting to catch a combi to Tulúm.   A bus stopped first, with “Valladolid” written on it, and I asked if he stopped at Cobá. Wouldn’t ya know it – it did!  So, off I went, on my way to Cobá! I lathered up with repellent along the way; those nasty mosquitoes weren’t going to slow me down that day!

At 7:45, I was dropped off three blocks away from the entrance to the ruins; the driver told me the first bus back to Tulúm was at 11:00. The ruins opened at 8:00, so I walked slowly, eating my sandwich along the way. I was not only the first one in, the tricycle taxis had not even arrived to set up their stand within.   This was great! I was alone to explore the jungle paths, in search of spider monkeys and whatnot. I walked at a snail’s pace, trying not to make noise, listening to the sounds of God’s creatures all around me. Continue reading

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The Perfect Plop

There is something so satisfying about a good, heartfelt plop. Coming home at the end of a stressful day, kicking off your shoes and throwing yourself/ plopping on your comfy bed. “Ahhh!”, your entire body says cheerfully!

A cat plop is something like that, only better. It’s the feline version of a happy dance. A cat plop signifies a deliriously happy feline. Maybe kitty was eating an entire freshly caught fish or a can of tuna, or simply the fact that Mommy and Daddy are home, and said kitty is happy. PLOP! – is the happy sound that precious furry body makes as kitty enthusiastically throws him/herself down, purring loudly for all to hear. It’s usually followed by a bit of a body twist, as if the bed/couch/floor is part of the plan, giving kitty a back massage. Some cats plop more than others. Simba, she had it mastered as a kitten.

When Simba and Guerita were kittens, it took Simba longer than it did Guerita to adjust to us and their new home. Guerita trusted us within days, walked around with her tail up; it took Simba a couple of weeks to feel at home. They had their own room and they had each other, and they had Mommy and Daddy time.

It was during that Mommy and Daddy time that Simba began to plop. She would jump up on our bed – which was supposed to be a no-no, but when we saw that she just wanted to get in front of the fan, we relented. She caught on that it was okay, so she continued to jump on the bed – but added an audible “plop” to it! She was officially our Little Plopper!
As Simba was the introvert of the kitties, it was only through her plops that we truly ever knew how content she was. And she plopped quite often! I remember when Simba snuck out of the house and got herself pregnant. My mother-in-law told me that afternoon that she had been asleep in her bed that morning. She heard a loud plop, looked at the foot of her bed, and there was Simba! That was a laugh out loud moment; although my mother-in-law had never been privy to our Simba plop stories, as soon as she said “plop”, I already knew the end of the story!

She mostly plopped for Daddy, but she plopped for me as well. she also reserved happy plops for when her Weeta came to town.

Simba was the Queen of Plops to the end. On her last night with us, she was too weak to walk. but that night, she wiggled her body up to mine, then wiggled her way over to snuggle up to Vidal- all night long. Although she no longer had the strength to pick herself up to stand, let alone plop- we knew that was what she was doing. she was giving us her final plops; letting us know how happy her life had been, and how much she loved us.

Truly our little Simba was the Plopmeister herself; the Queen of Plops. Now she is plopping away- her own “happy dance” in heaven, teaching all the other kitties how to truly express their joy!

You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy… Psalm 30:11

PLOPSimbaBelly

I’m soooooo happy!!!

 

 

 

 

Road Trip, 1987 – Adventures with Ma: Finding our Roots in Chavinda, Michoacán

The Great Bus Ride

Early the next morning, we headed to the bus terminal for the next part of our journey: Zamora, Michoacán. We had been told to take a first class bus on either the Estrella de Oro or the Estrella Blanca bus.  Cousin Lu had warned us against taking the second or third class buses, as we would be riding with the chickens, according to her. We were also told those would be the quickest, as the other buses made lots of stops. The terminal was huge, the bus was very comfortable. We sat back and relaxed for the ride, I had the window and Ma had the aisle.  The bus departed promptly at 9:00am, out of the parking lot, onto the street, around the corner… and broke down with a flat tire.  It took about 5 minutes for us to find out what had happened, as the bus had just stopped moving.  I remember looking down and seeing the driver standing by the side of the bus, casually smoking a cigarette, as if just taking a break.  An hour later, we were off.  The drive was peaceful, the occasional slow-moving vehicle slowed us down to a crawl at times, until the bus driver yanked the wheel and pulled a Speedy Gonzalez and passed around it. Ma occupied her time by chatting with a very nice university student from Uruapan with a nice, almost angelic face, who sat across the aisle from her. A couple of backpackers joined in the conversation. As it was too difficult for me to lean over and be part of the conversation and not wanting to be rude by asking everyone to repeat themselves, I occupied my time by staring out the window, enjoying the scenery and taking the occasional photo to prove we had been there.  All would turn out blurry with a green tint from the window, making it seem more likely that we had been on a bus on Mars.

 We drove through the countryside and past small towns… well, sort of.  Continue reading

A Pile of Rocks In The Middle of a Field on the Side of the Road: The Dominoes of Stonehenge

A BIT OF CULTURE NEVER HURT ANYONE

June 4, 2004.  There were only a few Must Sees for our England portion of our Europe trip; quality time with Naomi was #1 on that list, anything else was just whipped cream on the banana split. London came in second, with Stonehenge (okay, and eat fish and chips, too) not far behind. As it turned out, we would get to see both places with Naomi, putting the cherry on top of the whipped cream on the banana split (and served with fish and chips). I have often said that most people really don’t take advantage of what is at their backdoor. While that is not necessarily true for everyone, I have heard many people say that often tourists knew more about their city then they did, as more often than not, tourists do a bit of research on where they are going before they get there- I’m referring to educated tourists and not the Ugly American tourist who have given the rest of us a bad name. It seems to be that when you grow up surrounded by so much cultural heritage, that you become blind to it. Naomi had stressed to me that she was not much into culture/history the way I was; she was quite aware that I could be something of a history addict. Having been born and raised in a city less than 200 years old, it is really no wonder that I was starved to be wandering around a land which had thousands of years of history. I have wandered around ancient Mexico; I was ready for the Old World. I don’t expect others to share my enthusiasm for history, but it is a treasure when they humor me; Naomi was willing to go with us to Stonehenge and get a little cultured with us. Continue reading

Cuba’s Southern Gem: Trinidad

 

Cuba, 2000: The day tour was called ‘Trinidad and Cienfuegos’, a tour to the southern coast of Cuba. Our first stop was at Cienfuegos, once called ‘the Pearl of the South’, and it was immediately apparent why. It had very well preserved old mansions by the sea, as well as a lovely main square with a colonial theater. We drove through a couple of blocks to gawk at the old mansions (more like palaces), made a quick stop to tour the interior of the Thomas Terry Theater with its original everything from chairs to décor; then we were off.

The main focus of the tour was Trinidad, about an hour away from Cienfuegos. I knew nothing about Trinidad, knowing the name only for its more famous tocaya (person/thing sharing same name), the famous Caribbean island. While I had initially gone along for the ride for amusement, I would return twice for the pleasure of wandering its lovely streets. Trinidad was nothing if not lovely, with cobblestone streets and colorful colonial buildings well-preserved; it came as no surprise that it proudly carried the title of UNSECO World Heritage town. Continue reading

The Great Mayan Race: Family, Snorkeling and Culture in 48 Hours or Less

 

My cousin Maggie’s birthday is this week, so this one is for her!

2002: I was in the Mayan Riviera with Vidal for slightly over three months before Mom came to visit; she and cousin Maggie came for a three night stay in our hotel. As they arrived early, we had a nice lunch and a relaxing afternoon by the pool. As the hotel grounds there were huge, there was hotel transportation from one end of the resort to the other, great especially for those of us who want to make the best of every minute and not be late for dinner. We met up in the lobby and got on our “train” to the restaurant. We dined in the specialty restaurant, having a nice Mexican meal while strolling mariachis played at each table, with a gorgeous view of the sea; a wedding party had arrived to have their small reception there.

We left the restaurant about 8:00pm, had to walk past two buildings to get to the transportation pick-up spot.  We knew Ma and Maggie would be exhausted, having had to be at the airport at 4:30am, and would be too exhausted to make it to the 10pm nightly hotel entertainment. But- God didn’t want them to miss out on a good show. Continue reading

Antigua: Guatemala’s Colonial Gem and Putting our Backpacks to Rest

August, 2002. It was chilly, although the elevation was only 5,029 ft – just over 1,000 ft less than the day before, but 5,029 ft higher than what we were accustomed to, just the same. Over a much needed cup of Guatemalan java, I perused my newly acquired used, dog-eared Guatemalan travel guide book (an ancient Rough Guide), to get ready for our day of exploring Antigua.  Guatemala, that is; not to be confused with the island of the same name.

Continue reading