Monday, March 1: Hannah has two exams coming up this week and so today I bailed on going to the library and chose to stay at home to help Hannah study for Science. I was impressed at her persistence and with how much she really knows. She did a lot of studying on her own and then still stuck with it with me for at least a good eight hours. We had fun.
Tuesday, March 2: Tomorrow Hannah’s four girlfriends arrive. I think we’re all quite excited and ready for a “hit of home.” Hannah wrote her English mid term at our friend Ellie’s house today and will do her Science final tomorrow in the morning. With a little bit of school out of the way, she’ll be able to have a couple of days off to enjoy her friends though she’ll still have to put in some school time over the next two weeks while there here. To date we’ve now been away for six of our ten months, so 3/5 of our trip done, and only less than half her course work completed. She can’t take off too much time.
Wednesday, March 3:
Las chicas llegaban. What a scene. We picked them up at the airport on Wednesday in the late afternoon. Robert and I were sitting on a curb back a ways, trying to stay in the sun before it set to soak up the warmth while Hannah was up leaning on the fence that everyone walks past as they come out of the airport. Some young mexican guy was hitting on her so they were chatting away in Spanish (I am so jealous of how easily Hannah has picked the language up and is now pretty fluent while I still struggle to put together a sentence.) Then Robert and I saw Rosie’s head above the crowd and before we even had a chance to check for the rest of the crew she looked around, saw Hannah down the way, and SCREAMED, ran towards Hannah, at which point Hannah saw them all, screamed too and ran around the fence to get to them. They all ran towards her, dropping all of their bags stuff all over the walkway, still screaming and by now also crying! As they were hugging and crying and hugging some more, all of the taxi drivers hanging over the fences started cheering and whistling. It was hilarious. They caused quite the commotion. We let it go on for a minute and then made the girls gather all their stuff up so the rest of the mob behind them could get past. Anyways now they’re all here so we’re once again on a holiday from our holiday.
Thursday, March 4: A first at the playa for the girls. As we promised, they were able to see turtles when they swam. Unfortunately they also got a little too much sun so tomorrow they’ll hopefully take our warnings about how hot the sun is here a little more seriously. In the evening Rosie & Lucy outdid themselves by cooking up a great salmon dinner — a wild pacific salmon from home! What a treat.
Friday, March 5: I’ve had a whole unexpected week off from the biblioteca. For some reason I have just had a tough time this week with the fact that I really can’t speak spanish. I’m so frustrated with how slowly I’m picking it up and how bad I really am at it and so I just couldn’t bring myself to keep putting myself in situations where I just don’t understand what people around me are saying to me. So I’ve been hiding out at home but I’m not proud of myself for it at all.
Saturday, March 6: Robert is now writing songs for our English class at the biblioteca. It is great fun. We had a good turn out but missed Reina, one of our regulars.
In the evening las chicas decided to go out for dinner. It was fun to see them venturing out into “adult” kinds of things. Robert and I stayed in and watched a movie but by about 11 started to worry that we hadn’t been precise about when we expected them back. Before we were too worried they arrived back, thrilled with themselves. The whole dinner out on their own had been a fun escapade.
Sunday, March 7: Sarah’s 16th Birthday…. and she had it away from home. We tried to do what we could to make it special but of course being 16 the group of them really just wanted to go off to Playa. So they had a good day I think. They took the colectivo down to Lauren Cryder’s resort, the huge Bahia Principe, and found Lauren. They hung out with her for a bit and even managed to go and help themselves to food after participating all out in the water aerobics… ah, a little hit of the all inclusive for Hannah.
But, unfortunately they did stand out and so eventually the security guards got around to looking at their wrists rather than just the rest of them, and asked for bracelets. Eventually they were escorted off the property. So they taxied into Playa and did a little retail therapy to deal with the stress, then taxied home again just in time to roll in at their curfew. Robert and I did our own little excursion into Playa to shop for his birthday present, a new smaller sized suitcase. It was a treat for us to be there on our own, as much as we really do love being always the three of us.
For dinner they needed to do the grown up thing and have dinner out yet again, after all it was Sarah’s birthday. At 10:59 I was just wondering if they’d make that curfew when they waltzed on to the deck to strip for a late night dip in the pool. I love that they are so able to enjoy everything they take on. I appreciated that they were pretty upfront about that the restaurant hadn’t had any qualms about serving them each a drink.
Monday, March 8: “MATCH DAY” for Sarah’s med school class and so for Robert’s birthday today our big excitement was to check in with Sarah and James at 9 am Vancouver time just after she opened her email to find out where she will be doing her residency for the next five years. We were more relieved than surprised to have her matched to her first choice, Obstetrics and Gynecology at UBC! We are so very thrilled to have her and James staying in Vancouver for this next stage of their life. It was indeed a best ever birthday present for Robert on this, what he claims is his viente-siete cumpleaños; just getting younger every day. To celebrate, he and I made our first trip to the Turtle Bay cafe for lattes- after our skype conversation with Sarah and James of course. Can you believe we’ve been her almost four months and we haven’t done that yet? It was quite lovely and to top it off, I connected with the diving woman and have started to set up a possible dive.
Jim and Cathy Cryder, with Jamie, Lauren and Rachel managed to get themselves out of their really amazing, exclusive resort to come and join us for dinner. Hannah took them on a snorkel tour first to show off our turtles, even found the “off duty” ones outside the ropes and then we had a wonderful visit with them. It is SO wonderful to have friends from home visit.
Tuesday, March 9: A slow day here today. Cierra is suffering a bit with a sunburn, probably the worst of the group as yet and so they are all happy to cover up a bit more and stay close by. A few of the local boys, men really, seem to have noticed our chicas and so Robert and I are both feeling our overly protective parenting urges blossoming. Despite that, I spent the day on my computer trying to set up a blog for the http://wartoystopeaceart.com site, which I managed to completely crash and then fully restore after 8 pm, the blog part that is. Robert went off to the beach and then watched Sarah, Rosie and Hannah whip a team of young Mexican men in a beach soccer game. His comment: “Rosie is such an amazing athlete! Hannah and Rosie together were awesome to watch.” Sarah apparently doesn’t really even play soccer but looked great out there too.
Wednesday, March 10:
Colectivo’d (is that a verb?) to the “body surfing” beach today and it was a truly perfect day for it. There were huge waves and a lovely breeze but it was hot enough to love being in the water and then delight in the shade and cooler water of the ceynote. Some of the girls got fed up with the strong waves ripping our bathing suit tops off and so we ditched the tops and enjoyed a more european approach to sun bathing. Apparently it isn’t actually legal to swim topless in Mexico but even the beach security on his ATV didn’t seem to mind.
A small turnout at our clase de ingles despues de la playa, pero trabajamos duro. Oher than our english we all seem to have lost some enthusiasm for being there.
Thursday, March 11: Everyone got a tad too much sun yesterday and so today was a stay at home day, with only little trips out to our turtle beach.
Friday, March 12: The girls packed up mid morning to venture off again to Playa…the pull of shopping and dining out beckoning. Robert and I, finding ourselves alone, decided to give the lagoon a try.
There have been big waves out in front of our place the last few days so we weren’t sure how the lagoon would be, but we’ve made friends with a lovely woman who has a house on the lagoon and so with free entrance now, even a short dip is more possible now. It wasn’t very calm but we scrambled over a few rocks and found a way in. The water was pretty murky but we got some exercise and enjoyed the fish at the far end, away from the waves. It was nice practically having the whole lagoon to ourselves. We definitely need to get the girls out to see it.
They arrived home pleased with their purchases. They’d had a good day. Lunched out in a restaurant on the beach and enjoyed the whole adventure. In the evening they curled up and watched a movie.
Saturday, March 13: I love so much having visitors from home! Today we had not just “our” girls, but also my sister Louise and her husband Eric. They are in the area at my cousins wedding which due to unforseen circumstances Robert, Hannah and I were invited to but missed. That’s a long story for another time and place, though we’re still hoping to catch up to Joanne, Dave, Wendy (the bride) and Rolfe (the groom) later next week.
At any rate Robert and I were delighted to arrive home from a long talk with Leo at the library, to find Louise and Eric sitting on our deck chatting with Hannah. After catching up a bit, we all walked off down the road to swim at the lagoon. Today swimming from Wikki’s was not such a great idea as it meant Eric had to snorkel quite a ways to get to where the beautiful fish are. With hindsight, it would have been a better idea to send Eric in through the official Yal Ku lagoon entrance. Anyways, we all had fun and, thankfully, Eric survived! It was perfect for the girls who had a great swim and spent a good chunk of the afternoon swimming through tunnels and chasing fish. Rosie told me when we all got home that she was glad that I had (more or less) made her come. Eric got more exercise than he bargained for but was a great sport about it all, even walking most of the way home barefoot in his wet swimsuit until the girls caught up with him and Hannah loaned him her crocs. After a snack and a rest, Louise braved the turtle beach with me where we did find one smaller sized turtle in the rather murky water while Robert and Eric sunned themselves on the rocks. Then home for a big dinner with all of us before putting Louise and Eric back into a cab for a ride back to their resort. The girls were all off to bed by about 9:00 which either meant we bored them to sleep or wore them out!
Sunday, March 14: We were all up early for a trip to the ruins at Tulum. The girls weren’t as impressed as we had thought they might be, but luckily the beach was open and so at least we got to swim in a really stunning location. By 10:00 or so Robert and I left the girls so that they could have a day on their own. He and I had a great lunch in Tulum, on the recommendation of the cab driver who picked us lost walking to Tulum from the ruins. The restaurant didn’t look like much but the food was superb, maybe the best of the trip. From there we meandered home. The girls had a great day sunning on the beach, then shopping in Tulum before dinner out. Unfortunately they arrived home later than expected so Robert and I took on our “nasty parent mode.” In the end, after a few tears, I think we’re all on the same page.
Monday, March 15: We needed to make sure that the girls had at least one camerone dinner while they were here so Robert and I coletivo’d into Playa for a few groceries. I ended up being more excited about buying new flipflops but hey, priorities change when you’re trying to travel light so that each and every purchase is a huge ordeal.
The girls were required to stay close to home after last night so it was primarily a beach, tanning, swimming pool day for them.
Tuesday, March 16: Today is the day that Hannah met the boy of her dreams. She came home from their last minute shopping spree to Tulum, they just had to go and spend every last cent and clearly the highlight was running into and talking with a young man that all of the girls agreed is stunningly beautiful. And from Caye Caulker to boot. How perfect is that for her?
My highlight was the amazing fish dinner that Sarah cooked for us all!
Wednesday, March 17: Our beautiful, wonderful chicas had to leave today. To make the most of their last few hours they decided to stay up all night last night. Rosie wasn’t feeling all that great and fell asleep during a movie, Cierra, Lucy and Hannah made it til about 2 am and Sarah lasted through until about 4 am. Regardless they were all up at 5:30 am to watch the sun rise on the beach, which turned into hanging out in the rain. In the morning they wandered here and there, saying goodbye to a few friends, stocking up on candy for the plane, repacking; all this between catching bits and pieces of sleep where and when they could. At 12:30 the girls said goodbye to Hannah and Robert, tears all around, and piled into the car. I got them safely to security in time for their flight but was sad to see them go. It has been a great two weeks with them all. We’ll miss them tons!
Thursday, March 18: It seemed amazingly quiet here today. We took advantage of the rental car and went to Casa Ceynote, an absolutely beautiful bay that looked like a really gorgeous place to snorkel but we decided to wait an snorkel later with Joanne, Dave, Wendy and Rolfe, my cousins who joined us for dinner.
In the afternoon we had a great snorkel with all of them, then home for a really wonderful visit over dinner. I hope we see more of them once we’re back closer to home.
Friday, March 19: Robert and I went into Playa just to do errands today. We thought we might find a nice hotel for our last night but everything seemed expensive or not very nice so we’ll stay here through to April 1.
Saturday, March 20: We’re still trying to teach English at the biblioteca, in fact that’s about all we’re doing anymore there as we wind down and get ready to move on. This morning we had a class with the children and then just a couple of people show up for the adult class. I guess we’re not really too good at this. We’re having fun but maybe moving too quickly, with not enough of an overall plan to make it really work. Carlos says people are just too busy with work, but who knows for sure.
After the class Robert and I went back into Playa to exchange his suitcase for one that is a bit more skookum.
Sunday, March 21: I am so sorry that I don’t have a picture of the highlight of the day. (Lawrence, if you read this, maybe you’ll send me one as you were truly it!) Hannah met Lawrence last week in Tulum and today as he was on his way back from Playa to Tulum, he came by to visit. It was kind of a rainy, crummy day, not great for the beach and so we were really happy to have her bring him home to hang out. We enjoyed getting to know him a bit, such a delightful and interesting young man. He taught Hannah a few things on the guitar and shared some fun stories with us. We’d love to have him make it to Vancouver one day to visit us there. (Lawrence, you would truly be welcome any time!)
Monday, March 22: ¡Feliz cumpleaños a Mirna! We were delighted to be invited into the pueblo for a birthday party for Mirna tonight. After a wee bit of confusion about what we were invited to and where it was all happening, Mirna arrived home from Playa with her daughters Michelle and Monashe, and we enjoyed a taste of the evening in the pueblo, so different from this side of the highway. There everyone is out on the street, strolling by. We sat at a table on the roadside eating really delicious food and bantering back and forth in a mix of spanish, english and even some mayan, all with family members coming and going. Mirna has 11 brothers and sisters and with some of them married, with children, it was hard to keep track of exactly who was who. When she started to cut the cake, children drifted in off the street and slices were just passed around. We loved meeting her mom and her tia. Tia Guadlupe speaks mostly Mayan I think and loved that Hannah tried so hard to understand. It was such a treat to get to experience it all.
Tuesday, March 23: Robert and I had an amazing snorkel today at the beach. I keep expecting it will start to feel always the same or mundane, but it just keeps getting better and better. Today we saw THREE spotted eagle rays, two were huge. We haven’t seen any here before at all though Robert did see one in Belize and we all saw one from the dock in Caye Caulker. Here’s a “borrowed” video from asands on Flickr.
Wednesday, March 24: Math all day but Hannah is doing a great job at sticking to it.
Thursday, March 25: This was our PIRATE day at the biblioteca. We had so much fun and all in spanish too. I’ll post a few pictures and let them speak for themselves.
Friday, March 26: The biblioteca had a lovely surprise goodbye party for us today. It was very touching. Many of the children were there and they each took turns saying thank you to either Robert, Hannah or me. Then they presented us with a plaque to hang in the appreciation garden.
Afterwards we went by Mirna’s shop for ice cream where we met a lovely young couple, John and Jen. We’re having such fun at the ice cream stand. It is hard to believe that we didn’t know Mirna worked there until only a month ago, although from the amount of ice cream we’re all eating now, it’s probably a good thing.
Saturday, March 27: Today we thought we were supposed to teach our last English class, but when we arrived, the library was holding a bazaar to sell used clothing so we shopped instead. Life takes on a different rhythm here and not speaking the language well as yet, certainly keeps us out of the loop.
Back at “the compound” our new friends Jen and John dropped by to chat. We had a lovely late afternoon snack with them and then walked out for ice cream as they headed back to their resort.
Sunday, March 28: One of our most social days yet. We had Mirna and her girls over for brunch and when her friend Claudia came to pick her daughter Stefanie up, she ended up joining in and helping with some translating. We had a wonderful time.
From brunch, we were off to the beach to meet up with Carlos, Carlos and Belen. While there Robert and I ran into Jen and John again and so stopped for a good chat with them. We are constantly amazed at how much we like the people we meet out traveling.
In the evening we finally had Ellie, Pablo and Niko over for dinner. I enjoy them so much that I’m really sorry that I didn’t organize this months ago. I would have loved to have gotten to know them better.
Monday, March 29: This was supposed to be a diving day today but it didn’t work out mostly because it was a really perfect day for diving. I’ll definitely have to come back to Akumal, not just for the people we’ve come to know, but to get into doing some diving.
Tuesday, March 30: Worked with Carlos on the book all morning and then a quick trip into Tulum to have some picture printed up. When we got back to the condo, Julia and Steve were here swimming with their boys so we ended up having a lovely chat over a glass of wine. We so love hearing people’s stories. Like Jen and John, this is yet another young couple we’d love to stay connected to.
Wednesday, March 31: Goodbye Akumal! We’ve all loved being here. We’ve made some wonderful friends that we hope we won’t lose touch with. We don’t know when we’ll be back but we do hope that the friends we’ve made will keep in touch. We fly out of Cancun tomorrow, arriving in Rome just before noon on Good Friday.
Today I finally got the order in for the book we’ve been making for the biblioteca. Carlos Canul, the Assistant Director, deserves a huge thank you for all of his hard work editing our still,