November 1: My worst swim ever, also probably my worst spanish day. I just wasn’t really understanding anything that anyone said in spanish. I think probably I was dehydrated after the hike yesterday and so I spent most of the day laying about not feeling great. Honestly though, this isn’t a bad place even to not be feeling well. Marta and Victor came by to visit Kim and Rafa. Kim cooked a beautiful lunch and we spent several hours together. Before and after, I just slept.
November 2: We drove to the market in Manacor then on to Ponto Cristo for lunch and some sight seeing. We’re starting to shop a bit for a few souvenir type things to send home in our box which we hope to mail this week. The prices in Ponto Cristo were good even for lunch, though I may finally be tiring of the Mallorcan-type pizzas I’ve been eating everywhere. We had dinner in the evening with Kim and Rafa. I was happy too to finally catch up with Judith on Skype.
November 3: A day at home to catch up on photos, blogging and for Hannah to do school work. Talked to Christine and Wes on Skype this morning. We are still amazed at how easily we can stay in touch with people from so far away.
No new pictures today so this one is from yesterday when Robert and I walked up to the fort here in Bendinat and took some pictures of the graffiti.
November 4: Winter is definitely trying to get a grip on the island. We’re determined to keep swimming for as long as we can though and so today with the wind swinging in more from the north we decided to try swimming off of the beach at Illetes. Kim and Cobo came with us though Kim had to leave early which just confused Cobo. The water was definitely a little cooler and pretty churned up. We got bounced around but had fun all the same.
We can’t seem to get enough of Palma, the beautiful old stone alleyways, the restaurants tucked in to courtyards, the terraces and balconies, the colourful shops and the wonderfully ever-changing street scenes as stores open and close at odd hours throughout the day, street performers trade off corner beats, school children spill out onto the streets and parents shift back and forth from work to play. The smells and sounds mix it all into an enchanting scene that I find myself wanting to completely soak up. So today we parked way out of Palma and just let the late afternoon turn into evening as we walked and ate our way through the “mazeness” of it all. I love the surprise of coming across places that we’ve been before, this time with a sense of where we actually are. Robert was happy to revisit his favourite hamburger stand. We re-found the cheapest gelato stand and also bought some chocolate coated pastry.
November 5: Today we went shopping for new shin pads for Hannah and shoes for Robert at the Decathalon store. I suspect Decathalon is a big European chain but it seems to have pretty good quality stuff and reasonable prices.
From there the highlight of the day is that we went to Bellver Castle which was ordered built by King James II of Mallorca in 1300. It is distinct in that it is a circular Gothic castle, maybe the only circular Gothic castle…. ah the downside of not being able to read all of the literature about it. Currently it houses a museum which does offer descriptions in english as well as catalan, german and spanish but I found very little information about the castle itself. The space was beautiful and again, echoed with history that you could actually feel. The castle sits up on a small forested mountain between the harbour and the main highway from our side of the island into Palma, so the 360 degree view is spectacular.
November 6: We made it up and out early this morning for the Algaida market but it was a dud so we decided to drive cross-country to catch the tail end of the market at Binissalem. The drive was really beautiful. Some of the roads we’d been on before but today the lighting was perfect and we had the roads completely to ourselves. A real highlight was walking by a lovely little local winery where we were invited in to taste wine.
November 7: Hannah hasn’t been feeling well at all these last few days. We tried to cheer her up with a little “retail therapy” but even buying her a backpack didn’t really help. So we brought her home to rest and Robert and I set off again to shop, an uncharacteristic outing really. We found a large Walmart type store, Alcampo where I am happy to report that Robert did not like the shoes. We revisited Festival Park, a rather dead and unattractive outlet mall and ended up not purchasing anything. It was a fun outing though, a nice diversion from the sudden downpours of the rain. With all the talk of “the crisis” here, it was interesting to see the Alcampo mall packed with shoppers.
November 8: Hannah played soccer in the morning. Robert and I went into Palma Nova for an early morning walk and to find a coffee. Ended up in yet another shoe store, still checking out shoes for Robert…. and I bought sandals. We came home to a wonderful Spanish lunch with Kim and Rafa and then went for tea in the countryside with Rafa’s friends Andreas and Flor.
November 9: Port o Pi shopping center. Robert bought shoes which of course, he’ll probably return. Robert swam in the morning but it was cold. I opted for a nice long walk the roundabout way to buy groceries.
November 10: Acludia market, Port de Acludia and a picnic at the entrance to Cap de Formenter. This was a fabulous trip with a good market and a fabulous drive. We had a picnic lunch at the entrance to the Cape, with amazing views.
November 11: Way too cold for swimming today but I tried anyways. Then spent the rest of the day warming up. After yesterday’s adventure we stayed more local except for an afternoon/evening trip into Palma. Hannah did her shadowing for Planning 10 at International House, where Kim works. Kim arranged for her to shadow a young, energetic English teacher who works more with children. The experience was fun for Hannah. She enjoyed “playing teacher.” When we met up at the end of the evening, we decided to go to Akbar’s in Portal Nous for a final East Indian meal before we head to Mexico.
November 12: Today is our 27th anniversary! We celebrated with a trip to the post office to ship home a 20 kg box of stuff, all the things that we thought we’d need for our 10 months away, but don’t. It will be much better traveling from here on with lighter baggage. After stumbling through our spanish exchange at the post office we celebrated with a coffee at Maria’s kitchen in Palma Nova and then did a bit of shopping for cards. I can feel us all winding down as the weather cools off and we start to get set to leave the island. To top it off Robert went for a swim and got a good jelly fish sting and I spent the evening trying to pretend that I’m not coming down with a cold.
November 13: I was home with a cold today but managed to drop by Ágora Portals school anyways just to have a chance to meet one of the Special Needs teachers there. If I wasn’t feeling crummy, I’d be thrilled to have finally started to have some exchange with a school “away”. After that I had a low key day, just a trip to the post office with Hannah and an afternoon nap. Dinner in the evening with Kim, Rafa, Marta, Victor and Pacha.
November 14: Hannah wrote her first away midterm today. James, our upstairs neighbour, agreed to invigilate it and it seems to have all gone well.
November 15: We’re packed and ready to go. We’ve definitely decided that we won’t say good-bye here; we plan to come back. Kim and Rafa had a great lunch and we finally got to meet their friends Scott and Cindy. What a delight. We’d love to be staying longer to get to know them too.
November 16: One day in Madrid is just not long enough.
November 17: A day of traveling back in time. 10.5 hours on a plane is far too long! But the final reward of being here in Mexico is great. The air is warm and humid. Our resort spectacular.
We had fun in Madrid but no time to do much at all before we left in the morning as it was an hour metro ride back out to the airport. There was so much to see but the memory that is going to stick is Hannah throwing away her favorite shoes so that she has room in her backpack to carry juice with her to the airport.
Wednesday, November 18: We woke up this morning to paradise I think. In the evening we did a family “spinning” class before dinner.
Thursday, November 19: I suspect the days aren’t going to vary here much from day to day while we’re at the resort for this next week. So far we get up, eat, lay on the beach, eat, lay on the beach some more and then eat again before we go to sleep. There is a great crew of program staff people who try to motivate us to get up out of our beach chairs and play games. I also went off to a “fit ball” class which was different and fun. Robert played water polo and bocchi on the beach with coconuts.
Friday, November 20: Robert and I woke up and rushed off to a “spinning” class with Adrian before breakfast while Hannah did the teenage thing and slept. We walked into Puerto Aventura today but it is small with not much happening. Mostly it is too hot to be out in the mid day sun. It will be interesting to see if we can get motivated to do more once we arrive in Akumal next week.
Saturday, November 21: Kayaked through the lagoon and then out past the beach. Later Robert was swimming and swam with a sting ray for a while while I joined Hannah at a water polo game followed by beach volleyball. We’ve met a nice family from Canmore, Alberta. It really is the people that we meet that make traveling fascinating.
Sunday, November 22: We’ve had a really lazy day with only good swimming to break up the meals. The reef that we’re swimmig over is fabulous and it seems as if every day we seen new kinds of fish.
Monday, November 23: Ricky, one of the program staff asked Hannah to be in the show tonight. She’s not allowed to tell us what she’s going to be doing. This is such a perfect place for her though I’m not sure how we’re going to be able to get her to leave with us tomorrow.
Tuesday, November 24: Moving to Akumal today. We’re saying good-bye to program staff and new friends that we’ve met here at the resort. We’ve had a fabulous week. We’re excited though to be heading out to our next adventure.
Wednesday, November 25: So we’re clearly suffering from “post all-inclusive syndrome.” Although it was tough having to eat three huge meals every day, sit on the beach and have drinks with tequila constantly being brought to us, and then managing to stay awake for the evening show, we survived it. Hannah too put up with being one of the only teenagers at the resort; you can probably imagine the attention and one-to-one play time with the program staff. It was pretty intense for her having to be on for pool volleyball or morning stretching on the beach followed by pingpong tournaments, dart tournament or water polo with barely enough time to squeeze in lunch with her parents before heading off to afternoon beach volleyball usually followed by a soccer game. The last night they even dragged her up on stage to participate in a comedy skit. Poor thing. So much attention. Worse though, in the end we made her leave. To be honest, today we’re all in shock here back in the real world. Now we’re in a much larger place, no longer just a cramped hotel room, but with no entertainment and we have to do our own cooking. We have all been reluctant to take off our tacky green bracelets, just in case the resort should happen to email and invite us back.
Thursday, November 26: And so we are settling in here. We have a great space, a two bedroom condo on the water again. It isn’t a beach but a five minute walk either direction takes us to one beach or another. We swam this morning in Half-Moon bay and the current and reef were a bit scary for me. Later in the day we swam at Akumal beach with turtles! It was very cool. Now we need an underwater camera.
At Half Moon Bay we met a lovely woman from Texas, Maria. She was here on her own so we invited her for “Thanksgiving dinner” with us in the evening. We had a lovely time getting to know her a bit.
Friday, November 27: Today we had a meeting with Carlos at the biblioteca about volunteering. We start on Monday. I’m excited to be getting going with doing something beyond entertaining ourselves. To be honest I’m a little nervous. They deal with up to 40 or 50 kids a day in a little tiny space and none of them speak english. What on earth are we going to do? Robert and Hannah will be fine because they can both be so silly and laugh so easily. I figure that between now and Monday I either need to get fluent or really loosen up. Despite all that I am looking forward to it and I know that after the first couple of times I’ll be just fine. I think I’m going to look for a puppet or some kind of prop today when we go shopping. Just anything to create a distraction.
After our meeting we went back to Akumal bay for a good long swim before sharing a bottle of wine upstairs with David and Dianne, lovely folks from Alabama.
Today we saw six more turtles in the water. They are so amazing!
Saturday, Nov 28: My niece Tara and her husband Corey had their babies yesterday afternoon. Julia and James are both small but doing well from the sounds of it all. Wish I was there to celebrate with them.
Had a shopping trip into Playa del Carmen today so that among other things Hannah could buy a couple of soccer balls to donate to the biblioteca. This time we walked down 5th Ave. Robert found a guitar store and so is now entertaining the purchase of a small guitar.
Sunday, Nov 29: Today was a lazy day. I read most of an English novel, we did very little exercise, and spent the day lying about gearing up for our adventure tomorrow.
Monday, Nov 30: Our first day volunteering at the biblioteca, a real venture into Spanish immersion. I found it fun but frustrating. Hopefully it motivates me to get on with learning rather than shutting down. I listened to a few children read, helped one young girl with her division homework and then a small group of girls tried explaining to me that they were going to come to our house and sing. They were very patient and repeated what they had to say many times in many different ways. It was fun to have them eager to have me understand. So I think that they plan to show up at our houe at 1:00 tomorrow afternoon. This has something to do with collecting money and the church but beyond that I’m not quite sure. Shall plan to be home tomorrow at 1:00 and see what happens.
Wrapped up a great month with happy hour with David and Dianne. Wish we had a picture of them to add….maybe we’ll get a chance another time when they visit in Vancouver.