May The Force Be With You

image387624864.jpgHow lucky am I? Jean got me an early Father’s Day gift: The Millenium Falcon Legacy Edition from Hasbro. Something like 25 different button functions, lights, a dozen or more actual sound samples from the movies (IV, V, VI obviously) and Han and Chewie. No, Lucas may not play with it when I am out of the room.


image398246888.jpgI walk Maruska in the mornings now. Gets us both out of the house, which is good. Leash optional, floppy cowboy hat to keep the bugs off or rain drops at bay. Fresh black rasberries for my cereal or yogurt.

The garden is doing well; pumpkin vines are happy, as are the tomatoes…and weeds. I’ll have to get those tomorrow morning.

Castillo de Arena: Day Seven, Eight

image473923346.jpgTook it very easy (can it get any easier?) Friday. Drove in to Progresso for dinner.
Learned that the power outage wa caused by some 46 year-old guy attempting to steal electricity from the pole at the entryway to the drive. Pulled the cable, electrocuted and then hung himself in the process. Macabre.
Left right on time for the airport Saturday morning. Or, we would have except the car battery was dead. Krissy and Megan had left not an hour prior. Tried popping the clutch on the little piece of pavement that served as a parking area. Called the rental place. Called the house owners. Left voicemails. More clutch popping. Pushed the car down the drive to the road. Still no luck. Flagged down a couple people, no jumper cables, but good intentions. Tried a few more times to pop the clutch. Jean took a ride towards Telchac with some fishermen to seek jumper cables. Dave has been calling his people the whole time. People from Washington DC to Hong Kong know that Dave is stranded with his frazzled friends, Ed and Jean, on the Yucatan Peninsula. Finally a nice looking sedan stopped and a couple somewhat advanced in years produced a set of jumper cables and our wind-up whined to life. We thanked the couple profusely and endeavoured to rendezvous with Jean. She met us on the road to Telchac in the fishermens’ truck. The quickly receding high keening of our engine was the only trace of our misadventure in the Yucatan. We’re an hour late in starting.

Now our mission is “tear ass across Mexico,” which we do, pushing our toy car to the limits of it’s little engine, tires rotating well past the speed they should. We made up the time and got to the airport on time, Jean dropping us at the fermi al while she returned the car. Zipped through Health Check (checking for signs of H1N1), got our boarding passes and on to Security. Through just in time despite Jean being random-bag-searched. Duty-free, restrooms, a hurried fast-food lunch. A gate change and we’re bound for Dulles.
Now we’re something like 30,000 feet in the air and half way to home.
We both miss the kids something fierce.

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Castillo de Arena: Day Six

image1555913257.jpgJean got up early to take Kate to the airport in Merida. I woke at 7 and swam in the ocean, came back and made coffee. Jean got back around 8. I made bacon and eggs, sat out back. Captured some audio samples of waves, palm fronds blowing in the wind. Dave saw a Ray in the shallows.

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Castillo de Arena: Day Five

image1523627010.jpgA lazy day, Kate’s last. Dave is hung over. Swimming in the ocean, Rummikub, Bananagrams, drove to Telchac for more water with Megan. The power outage the night before spoiled most of our chicken, so we had a mishmash of hot dogs, chicken, veggies and rice.
More celebrity, I had a funny one this time, trying to get my team to guess “Tony Almeda”, not knowing WTF this guy was, not having watched “24”. “a common Italian name, three sylables shortened to two, often a pizza joint guy, sometimes Luigi!” Laughter, histyrical laughter. Despite my best efforts, Megan and Krissy fairly rocked for our team and won by a lot. Had a lively balloon volleyball game with half the participants in chairs. More Rummikub, sleep.

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Castillo de Arena: Day Four

image356952298.jpgTuesday same as most, incredible weather. Jean and I headed to the beach to snorkel. We headed out far into the shallows to find some marine life, but we found none. Good swim though, probably nearly 1000 feet out.
Started listening to Alvin Prentice. Dave made some great burgers and we two ate them.
Jean and Kate headed to Progresso to get some veggies for the pasta primavera for dinner. Dave made up some water balloons to greet their return; we rained a watery salvo down on the grocery bearers, scaring Jean something serious, because, as she explained later, she was so used to large “bangs” being something dangerous in third world countries.

We drove to Xcambo, a nearby Mayan ruin, less than three kliks away. Free entry, no climbing restrictions. Rather sparse, hot and buggy, those that didn’t get blown away by the wind.

I listened to Alvin Prentice until early evening; Kate made Pasta Primavera for dinner.
After dinner we adjourned to the roof to observe the sunset, huge cumulus clouds glowing pink in the the sky, gusts of wind becoming ever stronger.
As the sky faded, more and more stars peeked out until the sky was speckled with light. It was amazing, and we stayed for nearly three hours. Too windy for swimming, we went inside and didn’t stay up too late. Lost power around 3:00am, but got it back by 6:00.

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Castillo de Arena: Days Two-Three

image913468518.jpgHangover. Snorkeling to look for the rays Jean saw, warm water. Drove to Progresso, all six of us squished into Krissy’s ride, tight but at least it’s a real car. Good AC, hard to go slow, front speakers that work, a quiet ride.
We stop at the banco, stumble down to the most touristy restaurant we can find and plop down. Nice thatched roof, removable windows in the pavillion. Tourist prices, but still reasonable for us. Dave gets baby shark enchilada. We all get variations on the theme of Mexicana. Jean slips into drowsy sleep on the table.
We head back towards the highway and to the Bodega for supplies. In a stupor we gather meal makings, whatnot. Huge like Price Costco.
That evening we make Greek Shrimp kebabs and chicken with rice. I moved the grill from the side of the house to the rear to get a goo view of the ocean while cooking. Turns out there was a reason the grill was on what I discovered what was the leeward side of the house; the winds whipped across the landscape, keeping me from lighting the charcoal, 30-40 mph. I moved it back to the side and

Awesome! We play celebrity in a remarkably well matched game Another night of imbibing, and eventually swimming in the ocean.

Monday that catches up with me. I briefly think about work ; no Data here from AT&T and I briefly DT’d for lack of internet, information. Dave too. I read Red Prophet through start to finish.

Dave and I make a second trip to Progresso, to get a few more things. So a good bit of money later, we headed back.

Pizza for dinner, individual ones we decorated to suit. A rousing game of pictionary in which Megan and Krissy seemed to take on some odd telepathy in drawing and guessing. Dave was funny. Guessing for the word Jean was drawing, “Audience”, he got everything but. “the crowd” 45 seconds, “the participants!” 30 seconds and panic, “the people who buy the tickets!” 5 seconds, “tickets!”. Laughter.
Took it easy that evening, watched Alien.

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Castillo de Arena: Day One

image882694901.jpgArrived around 12pm local time, picked up our rental. Jean made sure to show the luggage to the renter’s so they could give us the right-sized car, hence they gave us the smallest street legal vehicle, shoving our suitcases into the “back” and back seat, keeping Dave company.
Our drive began with an adventure of attempting to leave the airport. It took 45 minutes. Like that episode of Scooby Doo where the Mystery Machine can’t leave town, no matter which way they drive.
Our drive from Cancun to The house, supposedly only a four hour one, ended up being about 5 1/2 and went like so:
12:00 – land
12:30 – picked up rental, ATM broken (windows had crashed)
1:00 – attempt to leave airport, Jean thinks she’s lost travel planner
1:45 – we successfully left airport
(car cannot exceed 60mph without flying apart)
2:00-5:30: hours of hot montonous driving , only back speakers work, can’t find fm tansmitter for iPod. Have to skip lunch b/c we’re running late. Can’t get ATMs to work; PIN incorrect? Can’t get phone service to call Bank. Dave’s cash saves our butt with tolls.
6:00: We’re here! Met Jorge to get key.

So indeed we are here. So many vacation houses with funny entrance signs. The water is aquamarine and slightly murky, getting darker further out. The hardy grass in the yard grasps itself in the tightly clinging net of roots spread across the sandy yard surrounding the house.

The wind comes in gusts, but calms down as we stash our stuff and head further down the Road to Telchac Puerto to get some dinner and whatever we can from a minimart. Town is some 16 kliks down the road. Stray dogs everywhere. People riding bicycles holding babies in their arms, hanging out in cybercafes with 1990’s tech, crumbling an run down buildings. Jean doesn’t blink twice. Speed bumps everywhere! Several police cars. We stop at the first minimart and get some staples. The MM smells odd. Dust on some packages, flies on others.

We push on to la plaza mayor and park. Town is going to sleep; the restaurants closing around us. We go to a place right off the square and eat a great meal. The kids ride around on bikes, play in a skate park. Music echoes through the sparse square, the folk come an go. A food cart opens up and a kid starts cooking tamales.
Sated, we head back to El Castillo de Arena.

We cracked open some of the duty free liquor we bought. We explored the vantages in the house; the rear patio, rear deck, and spiral stair around front to mount the roof. The nearly full moon bathes the low brush landscape awash in the warm breezes. High clouds scoot across the sky. Phenomenal. Gorgeous.

Krissy, Meghan, and Kate arrived around 11 and the craziness begins. Can’t remember how late we stayed up, but it was enough that I slept in to late morning 🙂

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image680798082.jpgBeginning our journey to our rental, Sand Castle Shores, near Telchac Puerto in Mexico. Jean is hyper, Dave is funny and I need more coffee. Here we go!