Check out February 2010 now.
Friday, January 1:
A new year! Best wishes for a prosperous, healthy and happy new year to everyone. To all our friends and family, we miss you all and hope that 2010 brings us all closer together. A best new year’s present ever, my friend Judith came to Akumal to visit for the day. She’s been in Playa del Carmen so arrived this morning in time for coffee and stayed through the day. We had a nice swim, snorkeled enough to show her the turtles and some reefs, had dinner at Jenny’s (the local yummy diner), and then played charades in the evening. It was so great to catch up with all she’s been up to and to start the new year by renewing the connection to home.
Saturday, January 2:
Manejabamos vuelto Judith a Playa despues de una mañana tranquilo con yoga y una desayuna deliciosa hecho de Adam y Ana. We drove Judith back to Playa after a quiet morning of yoga and a delicious pancake breakfast compliments of Adam and Ana. In Playa we had to deal with getting a new spare tire for our rental car. A young fellow named Gilmann was working at the Blueway Office in Playa and it was a pleasure to be able to negotiate with him. He remembered us from our car switch back in November at the resort office. I do wish I had a picture to post of him as he is most personable and agreeable to deal with. He was definitely a highlight of the day. From the car rental office we went grocery shopping and then did what we could to corrupt Ana whose eating habits are usually truly commendable, being strictly vegetarian and for the most part avoiding ill prepared, microwaved foods, by taking her to a well known, disreputable establishment for cheap ice cream sundaes. Unfortunately she had already had ice cream at a classy joint in Akumal before we went to town and so our plot was completely foiled although we did manage to get this picture of our attempt.
Sunday, January 3:
Adam’s birthday! Hannah made crepes in his honor, then after a quiet morning we drove to Tulum to have a really wonderful lunch with new friends from the biblioteca. We felt honored to be invited and ended up having a very delightful afternoon full of lots of spanish with english intertwined. The food was fabulous and I reveled in the opportunity to have real conversations mostly IN SPANISH about school, politics and life. ¡Fue el dia perfecto!
Monday, January 4:
A low key day at home and finally back to the library starting up more regularly again. Hoy para Ana fue el primer dia a la biblioteca y ella le gustó mucho. After the library we walked into the town for a celebratory dinner out in honour of Adam’s birthday. Lucy’s Too was closed so we went to the Mayan restaurant where I thoroughly enjoyed the food.
Tuesday, January 5: Nadamos un otra vez finalmente. It hasn’t been great weather lately and so we haven’t done much swimming. It was nice to get back to it. Before swimming, Hannah and I had a beautiful long walk south along the beach further than we’ve gone before. It was nice to explore a little further a field.
Wednesday, January 6: Hoy hubo una fiesta en la biblioteca en honor del Diá de los Tres Reyes. Algunos estudiantes de la universidad de Michigan había ayudado construir algunos equipmente de juego y todos de ellos atendieron la fiesta. Hubo mucha gente a la fiesta.
Thursday, January 7: Hemos tenido un viaje a Playa del Carmen para comprar y comer almuerzo en la playa. Ana no habia visitado allí antes y fue divertarnos mostrar la ciudad a ella.
Friday, January 8:
Today we went exploring to a new beach down the road. It was stunningly beautiful with the softest sand ever! Appropriately it has become a protected beach with an inexpensive entrance fee to support a lifeguard and some infrastructure to maintain the area. In the jungle behind the beach is a small ceynote, and so we had our first experience swimming in a ceynote which was kind of fun. Este ceynote es probablemente unos de los mas pequeno que se podría nadar en y ahora todos de nosotros querimos perdir uno que es mejor para nadar.
Saturday, January 9: We started this rainy day with a walk to the library under our umbrellas, hoping to arrive in time for the english classes. When we arrived there were only three children there with Carlos and no English teacher. Apparently car trouble and rainy highways kept her home in Cancún. So Hannah left but Robert and I stayed and did our own version of english/spanish class with Nayla, Laisha and Maria (aka Jacqui). If nothing else, we all laughed a lot. En la tarde manejemos a Tulum pero no hay mucho había ver o hacer con la lluvia.
Sunday, January 10:
It was cloudy and cooler and so we settled on a beach walk from Akumal Beach to the south, just intending to head out and see how far we could walk. The almost white sand is beautiful and soft to walk on, although in bare feet today it was colder to step on the sand than to walk through the water washing up on the beach. That’s how warm the water is here. Fuimos todas la distancía a uno de los grandes hoteles a la sud de aqui donde caminamos por el hotel y tomamos el autobús del hotel a la entrada de la carretera. It was fun to see the mammoth scale of the whole place.
Monday, January 11: Hoy nadamos en un ceynote en la selba cerca de Chemuyil. This particular ceynote had entrances to three underwater caves which are apparently all connected to about 25 km of underwater rivers. In the pool where we swam it was really crystal clear and not too cold, despite the cooler weather. There were tons of little fish that were small but beautiful to watch the way that they swarmed around catching the light. Some of the catfish were sizable enough to look scarey and apparently they would actually let people touch them. The closest I got was to take a few good underwater pictures.
Tuesday, January 12:
A friend we’ve made here, Ellie, arranged for me to go to the Montesorri Kindergarten that her son attends in Akumal this morning. No one else wanted to join me so I walked into town and met up with Ellie and then we headed over to the school. At the school Ellie introduced me to Graciela, the principal before we spent a bit of time officially observing in each of the three classrooms as well as the English classroom where each of the students are pulled out of their regular classroom to spend an hour each day. The school itself is beautifully laid out with four separate large circular huts, apparently originally with palapa roofs which had to be changed to cement so as to be approved for a school. The equipment in each classroom is very typically Montessori with small child-sized tables and chairs and shelves full of specialized, developmentally appropriate toys and activities. The number of children in each classroom was minimal, with both “guides” and aids working alongside them. The students were clearly engaged and for the most part, happy. In each classroom we were quietly directed to chairs where we could sit, fairly unobtrusively and observe, though not interact with, the children as they went about their classroom “work.” Esta fue un a visita muy interestante. En la noche cominamos a la pueblo para comer a Lucy’s Too. Ana’s friends had recommended it, specifically the fish tacos but we weren’t overly impressed. For one thing, although we arrived during “happy hour” in time for half priced bar drinks, only the alcoholic drinks were half price. So Hannah’s virgin margarita was double. That didn’t make much sense at all to me and didn’t really set the right tone for the meal. The food was good, but the portions small so in that sense over priced. As always though, we had fun and enjoyed the ambiance.
Wednesday, January 13:
En la mañana Hannah y yo fuimos a la kindergarten publico con Carlos. We went to the biblioteca expecting that he was going to read to the students, but when we arrived as well as a big book for him to read he had a little English book on body parts which he asked if we’d like to “teach.” We suggested doing a song with the kids instead and so together Hannah, Carlos and I taught three different kindergarten classes how to sing “Head, and shoulders, knees and toes…” We’re going back next week to try it again and maybe expand the vocabulary into a simple game of “Simon Says.” It was particularly interesting to see the stark difference between the public kindergarten and the Montessori kindergarten that I visited yesterday. Oddly enough, the two are side by side on a city lot. More on all this to come on my main blog page soon I think as it has all given me lots to think about.
Thursday, January 14: Adam and Ana left today. It was hard to let them go, especially knowing that we won’t see them again now until probably in July. Before he left Adam really wanted to go back to the beach at the park down the road and so even though the weather wasn’t perfect for it, we made the trek. Adam, Ana, and Hannah body surfed it the waves the whole time. Despues de la playa, Robert y yo manajamos con Adam y Ana a Playa. They caught a taxi from there to the airport.
Friday, January 15: En la mañana tuvimos una clase de español con Carlos a la biblioteca. We are going to meet with him two to three times a week and see if we can’t start improving our spoken spanish a little more, although I must say that Hannah’s spanish is progressing in leaps and bounds.
Saturday, January 16: This morning Robert and I went to the biblioteca to sit in on the English classes and see how we could help out. We didn’t add much to the kids English class but were able to get really involved in the one for the adults. There were just four moms, so after a brief start with the teacher we broke into two groups, me with Reina and Mirna and Robert with Leticia and Patricia. It was really fun. Cuando le pregunta a Roberto lo que le gustó mas esta semana el me dijó – la clase de ingles con las madres.
Sunday, January 17: He decidido a correr si puedo y hoy fui para a corre para el segundo veces. Actually truth be told, I’m walk/running and as long as it doesn’t hurt my feet or my knees I’ll try to keep it up. Running, combined with the yoga I’ve been doing, should work well to keep me in shape. The best part today was that Hannah joined me for most of my run, which was great.
Monday, January 18: Hoy tuvimos el segunda clase de español con Carlos a la biblioteca. Nos estamos gustando mucho tener las clases con el porque reimos mucho y aprendemos mucho a la mismo vez. After the class we went for a beautiful snorkel at the beach before racing home for lunch and then heading back to the biblioteca to get started on the book project that we’re trying to do with the kids.
Tuesday, January 19: Tuvimos en otra clase de español con Carlos. Hannah fue a la biblioteca pero Robert y yo querimos some time at home.
Wednesday, January 20:
We won’t have our car much longer and so decided to go off exploring today to see more of the area. Someone had told Robert about a beach called Soloman’s beach and so we went off to find it, which we did indeed do. Off down a little road to a private gatehouse where we were told that it was safe to park. We were directed to the public access to the beach down the way. The beach was indeed lovely, though not all that different from Akumal beach except that much of it is taken up by private housing, with signs telling you exactly that. Although there was a small public area and most of the rest of the beach was pretty deserted, we found it generally uninviting. In the end we came back to the beach her at Akumal and had a really lovely swim.
Thursday, January 21:
Tomorrow our latest neighbours upstairs leave to go back to Boulder, Colorado. They’ve been really fun to have around. Sue reminds us all of Mary Laird back home. She is vivacious, fun, and wonderfully extroverted. We loved running into her out and about and always felt so welcomed every time we did. This evening they invited us up to see Ron’s pictures. He’s a business consultant who sells photos on the side. We weren’t upstairs for all that long but we all really loved the opportunity to see the pictures. It provided us all with a really quick, intense lesson on photography. I feel like I have a whole new perspective on how we ought to be taking pictures. He had some great underwater shots too. Sarah, James, you should see his barracuda pictures. And his turtle pictures actually showed the red in the turtles! Sue and Ron had two 21 year old sons traveling with them. It was intriguing to meet Eric and Kyle and see the great bond between the two step brothers. We would have liked to have gotten to know them all more.
Our time at the biblioteca was pretty low key. I had forgotten that Thursdays are catechism class days in the pueblo so not too many children turn up at the bibioteca. I managed to feel really useful though in the time that I spent with one little girl who is struggling to learn to read.
Friday, January 22:
An unexpected trip into Tulum to find a dentist was unfortunately necessary once again, this time for me after a tooth of mine broke off last night. It took some time to come to terms with needing to just go and have it done. I felt quite frantic about needing to find an english speaking dentist so that I could be exactly sure of precisely what he or she was going to do. It was odd to watch myself and my reaction to it all. In the end, the dentist, Dr Emilio Navarrete Demara, although he actually spoke only a little english, did a really excellent job of calming me down. He asked if he could have a look and promptly got to work rebuilding the tooth with a special resin. All for less than $80! Then we went out for a celebratory lunch.
Saturday, January 23:
The biblioteca had a special party today as a group of students from Cancun were invited down to meet the children from Akumal. We were invited, asked to help teach a song, but arrived feeling sort of out of place and not very useful. There were a lot of children and it seemed like the organizers had a pretty full slate of activies on the go and so we left and went into Playa to pick up groceries. It seems like the spring heat is already settling in and so once back home it was nice to just be able to stay in our “compound” and enjoy the breeze off the water.
Hablamos con Adam, Ana y Sarah todos juntos porque Adam nos llamaba en Skype, y puse a Sarah en “speaker phone.”
Sunday, January 24:
Today we returned our rental car. Now we’re on foot which is actually good because it is much more the way that people here live. Cars are expensive and given the incredibly low wages, they are truly beyond what most people can afford. Besides that, we found our car was sitting gathering salt most days. Clearly a luxury we can manage without for now. Other than that, the day was a quiet one at home. I got going with a new website (Promoting a Culture of Peace) that I’ve volunteered to help out with. I managed to finish writing and publish a blog post on my home page, one in a series of posts I’m intending to write about what I’m learning here in Akumal. We did some exercise, including yoga which I’m actually sticking with. And then tonight Hannah caught up with Carlos and his family on the beach and so invited them, along with Laisha and Magdelena back home for snacks. Apart from my spanish understanding being almost non-existant after working hard at writing in english all day, it was really fun to have them here.
Mañana voy a empezar leer solo los libros español durante un tiempo. Necesito mas practicar. I need to work for more total immersion!
Monday, January 25:
¡Feliz cumpleaños a mi hermano Doug! Tiene tres nuevos nietos para que hacer este año muy bueno. Today there was lots of excitement at the biblioteca as the children received presents and clothes from the Cancun students that had visited on Saturday. I had fun too because I brought along my computer and had several different children take turns typing in answers to questions. One little girl whom I hadn’t met before, when asked what she would wish for if she had one wish, typed in that she’d want a laptop. It was very sweet.
Tuesday, January 26:
¡Feliz cumpleaños a mi padre! ¡Tiene 87 años y todavia tiene todos sus mármoles! ¡El es increíble! Today we had a second trip to the Tulum dentist as Robert lost a crown on his tooth for the second time, this time while enjoying Hannah’s well prepared picnic on the beach, tucked in against a rock wall so as to avoid the whipping sand. With no car we had to take the collectivo which is always an experience in itself. The adventure was fun and actually got us out into the evening. Unfortunately Robert couldn’t eat for two hours after having the crown glued back into his mouth, so we didn’t take advantage of wonderful choice of restaurants in Tulum. Hannah and I did manage to squeeze in having mangos on a stick though.
Wednesday, January 27: We slept in late today but still made it to the library in time to meet up with Carlos for a trip to the “kinder.” Carlos is doing an amazing job of slowly integrating us into actually being able to help out in the classroom.
Thursday, January 28: A special treat today as Robert has decided to write the daily journal in poetry form:
Friday, January 29: A day off from the biblioteca which is hard to do as it would be so easy to go there every day. We all agreed to go and just hang out at the beach something that actually we haven’t spent a lot of time doing, but the wind picked up, clouds rolled in and in the end we didn’t actually stay for very long.
Saturday, January 30:
As we sat drinking our morning coffee and eating our breakfast, one of our neighbours came over to say good-bye. Dan is an inner city pharmacist from Rochester New York with great stories to tell and an absolutely wonderful delivery. As always when we meet people like Dan and his wife Pam we are reminded of how fortunate we have been on this trip to be truly delighted by the many, many people that we are meeting along the way.
This morning we went to participate in the English classes at the biblioteca and ended up being asked officially to take over the classes until the beginning of April. We’ll be gone for two weeks at the beginning of February but have agreed to offer classes twice a week from February 17th through to April 1. It should be both a challenge and a great deal of fun.
Sunday, January 31: We spent the day packing and getting ready to leave Akumal for the next two weeks. It is both exciting and scary to venture on but I’m glad to know that we’ll have this “home” to come back to.