It’s Auction Time…

No…I haven’t fallen of the end of the world just yet. Although I have been in a whirlwind and probably came close. February was one busy month around our house. I’ve been writing on the second story for my next volume of the Mystery Collection. The first story is finished and resting for the moment. I’ll revisit it once all three stories are done.

Our writers’ group at the library had grown and we now have a pretty steady group of about ten writers. I’ve been put in charge of organizing the meetings so the workshop moves at a pace where most of us have an opportunity to read each week. So far, things have been pretty smooth – so I guess I must be doing something right.


 The Reading Room at MEL and  Part of  The MEL Writers’ Group 

The Yucatan Symphony is back in full swing with performances four weeks in a row – then we take a month break for other events and Holy Week. Starting symphony again in April and May and ending with the opera performance of Don Giovani in June.

       OSY  – The Yucatan Symphony Orchestra

Meanwhile…The Merida English Library is having an auction in March to generate funds for the renovation and expansion of the current facilities, which are badly needed to host more lectures, children’s activities, writers’ workshops, book signing events and other functions.26221131_1760907013949192_4248082050194665371_o


               Architect’s proposed library expansion 

I volunteered to help secure donation for the auction. I did this when I co-chaired the Santa Fe Opera Christmas Dinner and Auction for four years with Isabel Jewell while running our country inn and restaurant in New Mexico. I have to admit I’ve never been too shy about asking people and companies to donate. I remember one year when our business donated lodging in three luxury suites for two nights plus champagne four course dinner for six and full breakfast for six each morning. The package reached a final bid of $10,000 – but the people who won the bid never used the package. The point is…the funds went to a good cause and everyone had fun bidding.

I also collected romantic getaway packages from six Relais & Chateaux resort properties in various locations of the USA, Bermuda, Puerto Rico and Canada/ BC. However, it has been ten years since all that took place and I wasn’t sure I still had the knack to twist a few arms, but felt the need to give it another shot.

I was able to acquire the following items in only two weeks:

A Contemporary Painting / Christofle Silver Platter and Fruit Bowl/ Two Frette Spa Robes, plus Two 1&1/2 hr. Spa Massages/ Gift Certificates of Dinner for 2 at Oliva Enoteca and Apoala restaurants/ Breakfast for Two at Latte Quattro Sette / Art Nuevo Dinner Ring in silver and turquoise/ 2 sets of cufflinks (carnelian and sterling silver & lapis/malachite w/ gold and silver) / Vintage Japanese Kimono Haori Jacket (black silk)/ and last but not least – Two nights lodging at The Fearrington House Relais & Chateaux in North Carolina.


I currently have two books available to purchase at the library: Tales from a Country Inn and the D.G. Heath Mystery Collection. Each selling for $250 pesos. I decided to dedicate $100 pesos for each book sold to the library expansion funds. I’m not going to get rich and neither will the library, but every little bit helps.



      Available at the Merida English Library

Several others have acquired numerous fantastic donations and I’m sure the auction on March 13th will be a huge success. Tickets to attend the auction are currently on sale at the Merida English Library.

See how a prompt can lead me – Prompt:  “I couldn’t see them, but I knew they were there.”

Hot! It was a sweltering inferno, making it difficult to breath. The sweat dripped from every pore of my body like slime oozing from a snail that someone had just doused with a dash of salt. I tossed and turned in the canvas cot draped in mosquito netting. The night sounds of Africa’s evening predators sounded in the distance. The screeching and screaming of the hungry hoards as the searched for an evening meal, sent chills through my limp torso and my brain, with a sense of fear, had ceased to function.

It was the middle of May in the Serengeti National Park located in the Mara Region of Tanzania, not far from Lake Victoria. This was our first experience of traveling on safari and an opportunity to view the great migration of the Wildebeest. Numbering over a million, in the vast plains area of the park, they headed north across the dry savanna grasslands. “Soon the monsoons – soon the monsoons,” our guides kept saying. That appeared to be the only English they knew. I felt like a wildebeest searching for water in this parched and cracked land of red soil and golden waves of dried grass.

The Maasai people first described the area, as siringet, which means “the place where the land runs on forever”…(5,700 sq. miles of forever). I have never felt the finger of God as Adam did on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. However, when the clouds rolled over head in monstrous billows of charcoal grey stretching for miles, thundering and swirling as they threatened to release a torrent of H2O, we knew we were in for the beginning of the first monsoon showers that can last for days at a time. Night had fallen quickly, but still no hint of moisture – nothing to bring cooling relief.

Then without warning came the chilling roar of an African lion nearby. This was not the MGM lion – this was the real thing. It was followed by a chorus of greetings from several other nocturnal carnivorous predators now circling our campsite in the dark. God’s creatures were closing in to punish us for invading their sanctuary and fowling it with our presence. They had already marked this area with their scent. We were not welcome.

There – in darkness – black as pitch – I couldn’t see them, but I knew they were there. Like the human animal that I am, my sense of smell detected strong odors of urine. The lions were marking a circle around their prey. Our guides had vanished. We had been left as a sacrifice to the gods of the siringet.

                                                              The End (Literally)

Last night was Open Mic Night for writer and others who want to read to an audience. I always try to take something I’ve written. Tonight is dinner at home. Thursday is Merida Writers’ Group at 1:00 pm then pizza on the roof at Escondida that evening with friends.


Mel, Eddie and John waiting for the second pizza to arrive. This is a medium size. We ordered half and half ( Chelsea and Central Park – these are New York style pizzas with a thick crust and lots of different toppings. They hope to have a wine and beer license soon.

Symphony and dinner out on Friday night. Our friend Catherine arrives from the US on Saturday and we’ll do dinner out on Sunday with her before she embarks on a ten day trip to Pueblo, MX and Veracruz with a group of women. We’re invited to a party on St. Patrick’s Day, so the social calendar for March is starting to fill.

Thanks for letting me rattle on. Not that anyone really wants to read all of this colossal gibberish, but writers have a passion to write and we need to realize that passion at the expense of our readers.

Bless You!


Just when you thought the holidays were over…

Looking for a Holiday?

Get ready to try the month of February. It’s true! Even though February is the shortest month of the year, you can’t beat the number of recognized holidays I found. Don’t you just love Google?

I decided to give you some choices – for all you party animals looking for an excuse to celebrate something.

Let’s start with February 1st – why not?

National Freedom Day is an observance in the United States that honors the signing of a resolution that proposed the 13th amendment of the nation’s constitution on February 1, 1865. Abraham Lincoln, who was the president at the time, signed the resolution to outlaw slavery.

Now that you’ve kicked off the month with one celebration, let’s move on to:

February 2nd.

Groundhog Day or Ground-Hog’s Day is a popular tradition celebrated in the United States and Canada on February 2nd.

It derives from the Pennsylvania Dutch superstition that if a groundhog (DeitschGrundsauGrunddaxDax) emerging from its burrow on this day sees a shadow due to clear weather, it will retreat to its den and winter will persist for six more weeks, and if he does not, due to cloudiness, the spring season will arrive early.

This was also my grandmother’s birthday – so we kept her inside if the sun was shining. I’m not kidding – mom and dad wouldn’t let her out of the house. But we always had a big birthday party and dinner in her honor which she didn’t want to miss. People do the strangest things. My parents weren’t from Pennsylvania, nor were they Dutch.

Oh well…on to February 4th. Rosa Parks Day

Rosa Parks was born on 4 February 1913 in Tuskegee, Alabama, and died in 2005 at the age of 92 in Detroit, Michigan. She became renowned for her refusal, on 1 December 1955, to change bus seats to allow a white person to sit in the front of the bus. This happened in the city of Montgomery, Alabama. Rosa was arrested and charged with a violation of the segregation law of the Montgomery City Code and was fined $10 plus court costs.

Rosa Parks said later, “I had not planned to get arrested. I had plenty to do without having to end up in jail. But when I had to face that decision, I didn’t hesitate to do so because I felt that we had endured that too long. The more we gave in, the more we complied with that kind of treatment, the more oppressive it became.

Something to celebrate and remember the next time you hop on a bus. Cheers to Rosa Parks! Talk about going out on a limb in those days!

Next is a holiday you may not be familiar with if you are living in the USA.

February 5th 2018 – Mexico’s Constitution Day 

February 5th is the official date when the Mexican constitution was formed in 1917 after signing of a convention by Venustiano Carranza. Up until 2006, the day was celebrated in Mexico on 5th February itself. However, following the new labor law, the day is now celebrated on the first Monday of February, irrespective of the date. The day is celebrated to commemorate the formation of a new Mexican constitution.

The constitution of Mexico has undergone several changes. In 1910 the people of Mexico began getting restless with the old constitution established in 1857. This led to the Mexican Revolution in 1910, resulting in the ouster of General Diaz, who was known to be an oppressive ruler. What followed was a series of fights among the Mexican rulers themselves, resulting in assassination of quite a few political leaders. Sound familiar?

In 1913, Pancho Villa formed a huge army which fought inside forces on the side of those in favor of a new constitution, namely Venustiano Carranza. After a long struggle, Pancho Villa was successful in ousting the rebellion forces and Venustiano Carranza was sworn to presidency. Later, in 1917, Carranza signed an important convention which resulted in the formation of the new constitution. The new Mexican constitution laid emphasis on land reforms and fair land distribution among the poor. The constitution is in effect to this date.

The day is one of the major public holidays in Mexico. All the offices, schools and most businesses are closed on this day. The day is celebrated with grand parades across the nation, much like the celebration of Constitution Day in other parts of the world.

A lot of music concerts and other festivities are also arranged on this day, and people can be seen enjoying the day with great pride and honor. Sale of liquor is banned 3 days prior to the day up until the day itself. Exchanging of gifts and pleasantries is also not uncommon on this day, as this is one of the most important festivals in the country.

This is a day of fiestas and mucho celebrations. Come join in the fun!

We now switchback to the USA and…

February 12th – Lincoln’s Birthday.


You can enjoy a little celebration on this date or wait until later on President’s Day – February 19th. But who’s counting?

February 13th is Mardi Gras! – 2018

Get out your bangles and beads and don your most outlandish costume – feathers and sequins rule the day.

Carnival is a full week of celebrations, fiestas, musicals, parades and food culmination on Shrove Tuesday the day before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. It’s party time around the world. Some of the largest carnivals and most amazing cities to celebrate in are Rio de Janeiro, South America, New Orleans in the USA and Merida or Mexico City in Mexico.

Ash Wednesday is usually a quiet day of reflection. However this year it falls on February 14th, and we all know what day that is.


Valentine’s Day!


The Legend of St. Valentine. The history of Valentine’s Day–and the story of its patron saint–is shrouded in mystery. We do know that February has long been celebrated as a month of romance, and that St. Valentine’s Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition.

From Feb. 13 to 15, the Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia. … Emperor Claudius II executed two men — both named Valentine— on Feb. 14 of different years in the 3rd century A.D. Their martyrdom was honored by the Catholic Church with the celebration of St. Valentine’s Day.

Don’t forget to purchase roses and chocolates for that special someone in your life and remember “Love conquers all.” Especially with a little champagne.


Not that you don’t have enough to celebrate on the 14th, it is also; Arizona Statehood Day

Don’t get too excited. Here are a few facts that might spur you to celebrate anyway.

Arizona is 103 years old this February 14th.

It took 56 years to gain statehood – that, my friends, is perseverance.

Congress wanted to combine Arizona with New Mexico and admit it as a single state, but the people living in the territory of Arizona were not going to have any of that.

Arizona officially became a state on February 14th 1912.

Arizona had only 200,000 residents on that date in history.

It became the 48th territory to become a state – making it one of the youngest states in the union.

February 15th – Susan B. Anthony Day

Let’s go out on a limb for the ladies on this one. You don’t have to be Shirley MacLaine to know who Susan B. Anthony was or to celebrate her date of birth and her accomplishments.

Susan Brownell Anthony is best known for promoting women’s rights and starting up the women’s suffrage in the United States. She was born in west Grove, Massachusetts, on February 15, 1820, and devoted most her life to anti-slavery and women’s rights, including the right to vote. She died on March 13, 1906 in Rochester, NY.

February 16th, 2018 – Chinese New Year’s

If you’ve been saving those fireworks from December 31st, now is the time to put a little sparkle in your life. Light then up and celebrate Chinese New Year’s – 2018, the year of the Dog according to the Chinese zodiac calendar signs.

Personally, I was born in August 1942 – the year of the Horse. However, my partner found his way out of the womb in August 1946 – a year of the Dog. This is his year for luck and good fortune.

We also celebrated Chinese New Year’s in San Francisco in 1970 as a newly joined  couple, and consider that as our anniversary (48 years and counting). And yes…we are both domesticated. What Chinese zodiac sign or you?

February 19th, 2018 is Presidents Day

I told you it was coming. This covers a lot of birthdays lumped into one. Take your presidential pick! (Just not Trump – he wasn’t born, he was hatched) – just like Humpty Dumpty.

Hang on to your hats! February 22nd is the day we all appreciate. It’s Margarita Day! Yippee!

I knew you would like this one. No need to force you into celebrating, just point you in the right direction to the nearest bar. Well, we have our favorite here in Merida and you can rest assured we will be celebrating. After all… we haven’t had enough holidays in February – have we?? Cheers!!

Ooops! I almost forgot: February 24th is Mexican Flag Day. Yikes!

Viva Mexico!!!!


The beginning of a new year is a time to reflect on our accomplishment in the past year. Time appears to fly by so fast that we seem to forget the amazing progress we have made. Although we are all looking toward the future, it is time to do an about-face and reflect on the positive aspects of the previous year. Try doing this for yourself.

Our accomplishments in 2017:

  1. After living in Merida for five years and slowly working on our casa, John was finally able to get his kitchen remodeled last year.



  1. We also raised and sloped the kitchen portal floor to keep rain water from draining into the kitchen. It was a small engineering feat but we managed to get it accomplished.
  2. The two tall palm trees in our small pool courtyard were beginning to cause problems – invasive roots, messy flowers and fruit falling on the walkway and into the pool, and dangerous heavy palm leaves dropping from twenty feet above without warning, was an issue resolved – we had them cut down and removed – resulting in much less stress and maintenance. The pool garden courtyard has developed a tranquil setting without fear of being assaulted by giant palm leaves.DSCN2218
  3. We helped our friend Catherine fined a home here in Merida and, while she was back in the states, we were able to get it furnished and decorated for her return in December.
  4. John was able to scrape, seal and repaint 50% of our interior walls – a chore that is necessary about every four or five years due to the ground moisture that wicks up the limestone walls – very common in humid climates.
  5. We purchased two new comfortable chairs for our bedroom.
  6. We have accomplished getting our orchid plants established and they are thriving well in the back garden with new flower stalks appearing for 2018.
  7. Although we clean the house every week, we make a point to start from the floor and go up, giving it a thorough scrubbing and dusting before the New Year begins. Pots, pans, dishes, glasses, cupboards, drawers, ceiling fans, lamp shades, A/C units – etc., etc., etc. You name it – it has been cleaned. To make that point even clearer – John is a Virgo.
  8. We were both given a clean bill-of-health to start the year 2018. No major illnesses this past year – we both suffered Dengue fever in 2016.
  9. I was delighted to publish my first two books in the same year. Tales from a Country Inn came out in April and the D.G. Heath Mystery Collection was released in November 2017.


I hope to have another two books published and released this year.

  1. We traveled to Campeche in November for a short three day visit to the UNESCO World Heritage city. It was most interesting and fun – excellent accommodations, food, service and historical sights.


I’m sure I’m forgetting half a dozen more accomplishments, but suffice it to say, it was a successful and enjoyable year in spite of all the political turmoil in the USA.

So…now we move forward into 2018 with a positive outlook and more things to accomplish – start making your “bucket list” today. We have! And when you reach age 75, just staying up past midnight is the first accomplishment of the New Year. Yikes! Next year will I’ll be 76 – but who’s counting?

Feliz fin de año 2017!

A traditional saying in Mexico – “Happy end of year 2017” – is like saying you are happy that year is over (and you have lived through it). You may also say “Feliz año Nuevo” – either expression gets the message across.

New Year History

Have you ever wondered why we celebrate the beginning of a new year on January 1st? Well, hold on to your hats my friends. I’m about to give you a little history lesson.

According to the Haab Mayan Calendar, that follows the cycle of the earth in relation to the Sun, the New Year does not begin on January 1st, but actually on July 26th each year. Ooops! Did you sleep through that one? Don’t worry, you can celebrate next July.

However, our Gregorian calendar, that dominates how most of the world calculates what day of the year it is, is through a system inherited from the Romans. The Mayans recorded time using a series of up to 17 cycles, linked to the movements of the Sun and Moon and included the transits of planets and constellations.

Thus, July 25th (El Dia Fuera del Tiempo -The Day Out of Time), is considered more important for the Maya. That is their day to give thanks and to reflect on what has been accomplished and the lessons that are still to be learned. It’s considered a “link day”, when new ventures should wait for the energy of the New Year; it is also a time when anything can happen. Well, after all…I am a mystery writer.

The Resolution

So…now you are linked to the Mayan Calendar – but let me take you in another direction – and the tradition of making a “New Year’s Resolution”. It is said that the Babylonians were the first people to make New Year’s resolutions, some 4000 years ago. It is also recorded that they were the first to hold celebrations in honor of the New Year. However, for them the year began not in January but mid-March when their crops were planted and new life and growth would begin.

This is not a joke I promise – but take you pick…you have three months out of the year to consider – or you could just celebrate all three – there are more but that would put us on overload.

The Babylonians made promises to their gods at the start of each year, to return borrowed objects and pay their debts. The Romans followed in their footsteps and made offerings to Janus, for whom the month of January is named.

I hope I haven’t totally confused you, but I found my research most interesting and wanted to share it with you. New Year’s Eve is the last day of the year and the first New Year’s Eve festivities can be traced back to celebrations in Europe, that date back to before Christianity spread.

In 45 B.C., New Year’s Eve was celebrated on January 1st for the first time in recorded history. That was the year that the Julian calendar, of Julius Caesar, replaced the traditional Roman calendar. Are you still awake? I hope so.

Fireworks! Don’t worry…I’m not even going to go there – well, maybe just a little. Suffice it to say – Fireworks first came from China and spread across Persia through the Ottoman Empire, Africa and into Europe.

Here in Merida, the main plaza becomes a sea of humanity gathered to watch the fireworks display launched from the top of main cathedral…but I’m jumping ahead.


We began New Year’s Eve at Amaro Restaurant on Calle 59, along with perhaps 200 other dinner guests. Everyone was decked out in their holiday best. Our favorite waiter, Enricque, helped us to secure a table on short notice, when we decided it would be better to dine out than to eat at home. Little did we know that we would end up in the center of the courtyard (one of the best tables in the house).

Amaro’s is located in one of the oldest houses in Merida. The elegant 18th century colonial mansion was the birth place and home of Quintana Roo, who has a state in Mexico named after him.


Our friends Catherine and Marty joined us to ring in the new year. Some of our symphony friends also joined the celebrations.



It was a delight to see two fellow authors Joanna Van der Grach Rosado and Marianne Kehoe and their husbands Jorge and Jim at a table nearby.


It was 9:30 pm as the crowd began to gather.



Live entertainment and great food food added to the evening festivities.


We began the evening with a delicious guacamole and chips – John and Catherine had the Anchara Steak – Marty ordered the stuffed avocado w/ grilled shrimp. Eating salt cod is another traditional Yucatan dish for the holidays. However, I chose the Chicken Frajitas. Tradition just flew out the window. For dessert we all had the restaurants famous Tres Leches Cake. Followed by a glass of Champagne and 12 grapes.


The eating of twelve grapes at the stroke of midnight is a tradition that started in Spain. Each person is supposed to eat one grape at each stroke of the clock on a countdown to midnight, while making a New Year’s wish with each grape. This is not an easy game to play, and twelve seconds isn’t a lot of time, but the shorter your wish and the smaller the grape, the easier it is. You are even allowed to repeat the wish more than once.

As for me – I’d rather drink my grapes – preferably the ones with bubbles.

Colors are also associated with the New Year. People decorate their homes with colorful banners of red, yellow, green and white, strung here and there in fiesta fashion.

And here’s one tradition I bet you didn’t know – the color of a woman’s undergarments can indicate her wishes for the New Year. Red if she is seeking romance, green represents a wish for financial gain, and white indicates her desire for a long and healthy life. Perhaps we should inform Victoria’s Secret and see what they come up with for their next fashion extravaganza. I’m not sure what happened to the Yellow, but the red, green and white are the colors in the Mexican flag.


Now you’re talking. Blazing in all the evenings glory, the main cathedral becomes the stage for a display of fireworks on a grand scale at midnight. Families, vendors, expats and tourist converge on the Grand Plaza to watch the spectacle they have been waiting for. The smell of gunpowder drifted on the air above the restaurant as hundreds of gala fireworks burst with sparkling colors in the night sky to the gasp and cheers of the crowd. Children just love this part – and believe me, they are up and out to see it even at the age of two.

My Two New Year’s Resolutions

I will strive to do whatever I can to make this world a better place – to help those who are less fortunate – to spread joy, love and happiness wherever I am – and to work for peace and harmony for all humanity.

I will do my best to write more Amazon reviews on books I have read, and give other writers the recognition and reward they deserve for being a part of the literary community and sharing their stories with us.


Adios 2017 – Hola 2018…

Saturday – Dec. 23rd

Before we say goodbye to 2017, let’s take a quick ride down Paseo de Montejo Avenue. After all…the city spent a lot of money on new decorations and lighting – it would be a shame not to share it with you.

As we wander through the Romaté and the hundreds of people out for the free Christmas entertainment, we locate our horse and carriage waiting at the entrance gates. This is our annual trot down the “avenue of lights”. The horse was a brown and white paint and the carriage was decked out for Christmas.




Our friends got to watch where they were going – we got to see where we had been,



Tree trunks were wrapped in lights and the branches twinkled with flickering luminescence on both sides of the divided roadway.




The leisure ride took us around the Monument of the Patriots (or Monument to the Homeland) and back down the opposite side of the street.

A shower of fireworks launched from the top of the Hyatt Regency Hotel just as we neared and frightened our four legged guide, so we pulled to the side of the road until he had adjusted. The driver explained that his horse was a new one.

Sunday – Dec. 24th

Christmas Eve arrived overnight, and we were busy all day getting dinner prepared for our guests. As usual, I set the table and John did most of the cooking.


This is the one time of the year that I make my “salty caraway crisp” to nibble on with cocktails.

Caraway Crisp Recipe:

 1 cup butter

1 cup crème cheese

¼ cup heavy crème

2 ½ cups sifted flour

1 Tsp. regular salt

1 egg white 

Caraway seeds

Coarse salt

Cream butter & cheese, add cream, add flour & salt.

Chill till firm & form into 2 or 3 rolls 1″  in diameter.

Wrap in wax paper & chill till hard.

Cut into ¼ ″ slices & place on greased cookie sheet.

Brush with egg white, sprinkle with coarse salt & caraway seeds.

Bake at 350° for 20 minutes – or until the edges start to brown.  

I mentioned in my last blog post, that I would attempt to get some food photos. Thank goodness I don’t work for Gourmet or Food and Wine Magazine – I would be out of a job in no time flat. However, here is my attempt at cookbook photography.

The contented foursome await the dinner bell, as the chef and his assistant are dancing around each other in the kitchen. Guests arrive at 6:30 pm. Dinner ended at 11:20 pm.


1st Course:  Beet Salad with lettuce, toasted pine nuts and Gorgonzola cheese



Main Course:  Beef Bourguignon with new potatoes and gingered baby carrots ‘a la Julia Child.’


Dessert: Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake in a toasted Gram cracker  crust with whipped cream

By the time we got around to dessert, my focus was not so good, but I blame it on the camera…and the wine. Why not?

New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are up next. This old dog needs a rest in between, so I will bid you Happy Holidays until January 2018. Hope you enjoy a good D.G. Heath mystery story between the holidays. (Ho-ho-ho).


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year’s!

It is time to end this crazy year and get on to the next. Where the time goes, nobody knows. I won’t spent the time and energy trying to recap the year in a nutshell. However, you can rest assured that it was filled with a whirlwind of excitement, travel, laughs, accomplishments, friends, food, love and adventures. Which just goes to prove that retirement, rejuvenation, and reinventing can improve not only your life, but the challenge to live in happiness and fulfilment.

I want to share with you the holiday spirit here in Merida. The avenue, Paseo de Montejo, is ablaze with lights and poinsettias. The city has spent much time and effort to inspire the joy of the season. This is a completely new lighting installation for 2017. We will be taking a horse and carriage ride one evening this weekend to enjoy the sparkle of this installation. Photos to come later.

The Liverpool Galleria Mall is sparkling with Christmas decorations from one end to the other and is full of shoppers carrying bags loaded with gifts, as Christmas carols float on the air above the ice-skating rink. Fountains bubble and spray as colorful lights dance on the waters and kids ride the little train around the upper level while their parents shop. We are planning to make one last trip to the mall and I hope to have photos to share in the next blog

In the main plaza or Zocolo, trees twinkle with hundreds of lights surrounding the life-size nativity scene in the center, and the atrium walkway between the Macay Museum and the main Cathedral, dazzles with a display of ever changing electrically, digitalized patterns of light.


The music starts ad the show begins.


The crowd gathers to watch. The lights in the windows of the building across the street change from red to green.



The passageway is filled with light and music as the display reaches a climax and begins again. The people are dazzled by the artistic performance.


The Christmas tree, at the Palace of the Governor, stands stately in the central courtyard, where all can visit.


We barely made it there before they closed the building at 9 pm, and were able to take our friends on a tour of the magnificent murals in this beautiful building with its great architecture.




The Main Plaza was a fairyland of twinkling lights.DSCN2100

Trees  that circled the lifesize manger were covered  in illumination.


The camel, horse and even an elephant were transportation for the three kings who came bearing gifts.

Once again we were delighted to gather with our friend Peter for a holiday dinner in his charming old casona here in Centro. His home is over 250 years old; and with grace and texture, it exudes an ambience of an elegant lifestyle long past. The sturdy bones of this mansion, with its aged patina, embraces the warmth, culture and character of the Yucatan. I was able to capture a few photos before other guests made their appearance.

Peter’s home is filled with art and antiques

The main garden courtyard is filled with green trees and flowering plants, surrounded on all sides by the living areas. A lily pond with goldfish and white lilies is approximately 20 feet by 10 feet and three feet deep.

DSCN2077 To the back is a second courtyard where the pool is located.


The dining room, with its 12 foot high doors, opens to the pool and the lily pond on each side, offering a wonderful cross-breeze most of the year.


Temperatures that evening were in the low 60s, so the doors remained closed. The huge table, centered in the dining room, can seat sixteen to twenty people comfortably, and there is a large kitchen further back with a big center island. The guests (who were mostly Spanish speaking) were all delightful and entertaining and as always willing to help us with our Spanish.

At Casa de Colores, our residence, it is our fifth Christmas in the Yucatan. It’s hard to believe that we arrived here in August of 2013. However, we only purchased our Christmas tree two years ago.


It’s not a green tree, but an architecturally designed, handmade Christmas tree that fits well in a small space, and can be stored from year to year. Just what two retired men can handle – no ornaments to pack away, no lights to remove (it came with them attached), and it separates into three pieces. We cover it with a plastic bag to keep the dust off and store it in our guestroom.

I made the decorative swags that hang on our front door with items purchased at Triunfo on Paseo Montejo. Those too are covered and stored each year.


Pointesetas by the pool and and under the palms in the garden, create a Christmas atmosphere and add to our holiday spirit.


This year we are celebrating Christmas Eve dinner at home with friends. John has planned the menu and is excited about preparing the meal for six. We begin with a salad of diced beets, Gorgonzola cheese and toasted pine nuts on hearts of Romaine and drizzled with a balsamic vinaigrette.

Followed by a main course of Boeuf Bourguignon, braised in red wine with bacon, onions and Crimini mushrooms, served with boiled new potatoes and baby carrots in butter. The wine we selected is a 2015 – Casa Madero Merlot, from Mexico (of course).

And last but not least, a dessert of pumpkin cheesecake in a graham cracker crust with toasted pumpkin seeds, accompanied by at Cune Manchuela a Blanco Semidulce wine from Spain. Food shots will appear in my January post, if I don’t forget to take them.

Our Christmas gift to each other will be a trip to Antigua, Guatemala in the summer of 2018. We’ll be celebrating two birthdays, five years of living abroad, our sixth wedding anniversary, and 48 years of life together (all in the same trip).

When I met John in 1969, I was 27 and he was fresh out of college at 23 – it was the month of November in the magical city of San Francisco. We returned to the scene of the crime, and were finally married in that same city in August of 2012. It seems like it was only yesterday – time has a way of playing tricks on us.

Picture 020Photo of us – May 1994 –  25 years ago…

And now my friends, it is time to say farewell to 2017 and usher in the New Year with hope and determination to make changes for the best. And that reminds me of this famous quote:

“God give me the strength to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Forward we charge…and as Yoda would say, “May the force be with you.”

DSCN2124 (3)The Merida Boys – Photo – Dec. 2017

We really haven’t changed all that much since 1994 – maybe a little shorter, a few pounds heavier, and hopefully a lot wiser.


From the Merida Boys (David and John)

Campeche…Day Three (short day)

Another beautiful morning and our last day in Campeche. Today we decided to have breakfast at Luan’s restaurant on Calle 59 (the restaurant street). John had read about their waffles and pancakes (just what the doctor ordered before ending our visit).

They didn’t open until later in the morning so we had plenty of time to pack our luggage. Christian, at the front desk, agreed to store it for us until departure time (check-out is at 11:00 am). We had scheduled a 3 pm departure with ADO.

Luan’s tables were set in the street under umbrellas, offering some coverage from the sun. We both ordered the waffles with fruit. They came with blueberries, strawberries, dollop of sour cream and a pot of honey. We were both surprised by the large serving. It was a leisure breakfast with good, rich coffee.


The waffles were great, but in a humid climate, if you don’t eat them quickly, they tend to become less crispy.

Two American women sat at a table near us and a third lady from Germany joined at another near-by table. We aren’t shy, so the conversations flowed easily between tables. They were all headed to Merida, so we offered advice on what to see and where to dine during their visit.

Bidding them farewell, we stopped at another church full of artist and folk-art. Walking around town, viewing more of the architecture, we located a bench in the shade where we could people watch and allow the waffles to digest, then headed back to the hotel to check-out and deliver our luggage to Christian for storage until after a late lunch.

Christian had suggested a local restaurant called La Parroquia. It was only a block and a half from the hotel, so we wandered over. This place is open 24 hours and has a large menu to select from. We always enjoy experiencing restaurants where the locals like to eat, and this place was no exception – we were the only Anglos in the place.

John had a breaded chicken breast and I ordered the Tomal Colado (masa stuffed with shredded pork and red onions wrapped in a banana leaf, steamed, and served with a smoky tomato sauce)…I would not be hungry on the ride home. Both were accompanied with guacamole, chips and a basket of hot tortillas. Three bottles of mineral water and a 15% tip brought the total to a little more than $300 pesos. Sorry no photos – my  camera was packed in the luggage.


We noticed this charming home on our walk to lunch. Note the architectural detailing.

We waddled back to the hotel and they called a taxi to take us to the bus station. Our timing was perfect. We were sitting in the two front seats with an unobstructed view of the highway and surrounding countryside. There was a short rain storm between Campeche and Merida, but it was not raining at home.

Checking our emails after unpacking, we noticed a note from the German lady. “We are here at Oliva’s. Come join us for dinner if you can. – Stephanie (the German one).” Actually, the American women were named Stephanie and Gloria…from Portland, OR and San Antonio, TX – long-time friends.

We quickly changed clothes and walked the two blocks to Oliva Kitchen. They were not there. Then we realized that they must be at Oliva Enoteca, and walked another three blocks, where we found them seated at a table for six. It was an enjoyable evening and the conversation flowed like a good vintage wine.

Stephanie from Germany has already left the Yucatan, but we are having one last dinner with Gloria and the other Stephanie on Sunday before they depart and head off in different directions.

Back in Merida, the new Christmas lights had been installed. The city went all out this year with amazing light displays all along Paseo de Montejo avenue for miles, and down calle 60 to the main plaza.


The Remate was transformed into a dazzling explosion of lights in Santa’s Village.





The large golden ornament of lights is also a walk-through tunnel, and round balls of light hang from the trees and rest on the ground like snowflakes.


The stands are busy with shoppers looking for that special Christmas gift, and there is a lot to select from.


The stage is set and ready for the entertainment to begin at 9:00 pm.


The people are arriving early to get a good seat in front of the stage with the huge Christmas tree behind them.

The final season’s performance of the Yucatan Symphony was Friday, and we have a “fiesta party” to attend this Saturday, so it looks like a busy weekend. Hope you have enjoyed following us on this little trip and if you get the chance, you should visit Campeche.

Happy Holidays!

From The Merida Boys

Campeche…Day Two

Rise and shine! It’s day two in our Campeche holiday. Wouldn’t you like to wake up to a five foot, colorful Piñata filled with delicious candies hanging just outside your balcony doors?


We headed off to have breakfast at the hotel restaurant – pasted the Piñata. The hotel has numerous courtyards offering secluded spots to relax, read a book or write a story. The main courtyard has an old well in the center. It was once open to the sky.



The pasta tile floors change patterns from space to space, appearing like brightly designed rugs.


The pool area was inviting, but the water was far too cold for both us and the single woman having her hot cappuccino as she soaked up the warmth of the morning sun.


Several  newer rooms were added around one courtyard that we passed through on our way to the restaurant.

I ordered the Chaya and cheese omelet. Chaya is a native plant that taste like spinach, but is poisonous if not properly blanched before using it. This was accompanied by hot tortillas and a serving of black, refried beans. Café Americana and a glass of Agua de Chaya, sweetened with honey from stingless-bees, charged my energy for the morning round of sightseeing.


As you can see – John had the fruit plate with papaya, banana, apple and pineapple and a bowl of granola with orange juice and coffee.

First stop: Casa Number Six – the red house located on the main plaza.


This is a stately old casona (built in the 1500s) has been restored with original furnishings, high ceilings and decorative stenciling. The kitchen stove used wood for heating.


This was also a day for going to church. We don’t attend church, but we enjoy visiting them when traveling and marveling at the architecture. Don’t get me wrong – we are believers…we just don’t believe in “organized religion.” However, our first stop was the main cathedral with its twin bell towers – rather stark, but still quite impressive.



There are numerous churches around town, so one could spend the entire day touring if so desired. Here are some photo clips from the other four that we visited.

One church we stopped into was no longer a church. but was used to house numerous artist, who had booths setup to show and sell their wares – hats, shirts, belts, scarves, blouses, sandals and much much more.

Fort San Miguel, located at one end of the malacon facing the Gulf of Mexico, was one of the main forts built to protect Campeche residents from the raiding pirates. The walls were lined with over twenty canons. It now serves as a museum.

After our self-guided tour of the fort, we were ready for lunch. Seafood was on our brains, so we headed to La Palapa del Tio Fito, located right on the water with a great view. Go here with an appetite since the servings are large and also well prepared.


As you can tell, we arrived just as the restaurant opened to be sure we would have a table close to the water and a view of the Gulf.


We started with the pescado ceviche a large bowl of fresh fish, perfectly marinated with cilantro and lime – excellent! This should have been our complete meal – but did we stop? No, no, no.


John ordered the shrimp salad, again quite large and sufficient to share. There were large cubes of avocado, shaved red onions, cilantro and at least 20 or more very fresh medium sized shrimp served on a small platter.


I ordered the red snapper filet with Veracruz sauce. In most restaurants this would have served two persons. It was served with yellow rice and assorted fresh vegetables. (Sorry, no photo). Go here for excellent seafood , atmosphere and very good value – (11am to 6pm only – not open for dinner.) From our table on the veranda, we watched the fishing boats come in with their catch-of-the-day, and could see the restaurant refrigerated-trucks lined up to load their supply of seafood for the evening meals.

After a three hour leisure lunch, we needed to take a walk along the malacon. We had the taxi drop us off a few blocks from the hotel.


The city was well fortified as you can see. I got a shot of the colorful and artisticaly designed Campeche sign,with John standing at the far end – if you can see him.


It was three o’clock and time for our siesta – remember our motto…eat/sleep. eat/sleep.

Nighttime is magical in Campeche, so what better way to start the evening alfresco than to enjoy a glass of vino tinto and a bit of guacamole while overlooking the main plaza and cathedral? Casa Vieja del Rio is just the place – in spite of their cover charge.

It’s nothing to brag about – but the atmosphere makes up for the added cost.




It was early evening and we were about the only table on the veranda, but they didn’t rush us. John was enjoying one of our several glasses of wine, before heading off for Calle 59 – the pedestrian street where several blocks are dedicated to dining (day and night). We never have trouble getting a table because we dine early (7 pm). This place is jumping about the time we are ready to turn in for the evening. Please note the wide sidewalks. This is street dining – Not sidewalk cafes.


La Parrilla Colonial was our restaurant choice for the evening. They have restaurants in Merida as well as Campeche, but this one has a menu that acknowledges its Campeche roots. John had the brochette, consisting of shrimp and deliciously tender pieces of beef, bell peppers and onions all cooked to perfection and excellently flavored.


This dish is flambéed at the table before serving. The show, however, did little for the flavor as well as the sauce that was poured over it setting it on fire.  I had the chicken fettuccini with an Alfredo cream sauce. The chicken and sauce were good, but the pasta tough and rubbery. John thinks it was cooked earlier and possibly dipped in boiling water to reheat. Whatever was done they really need to improve the pasta quality.


There was never enough room for dessert but we both ordered a cappuccino to linger and people watch.

Our next day would be a short one. Our bus departure was at 3:00 pm. However it was a most interesting morning, so I will save it for the next post.

Before you head out the door for dinner I feel it my duty to remind you that these dinners and lunches with beverages and tips, were under $40 and $50 usd for the two of us, and our junior suite at the hotel was $75 usd per night. Vacationing on a budget is easy and enjoyable when you do the research.

Day Three is next! It’s time for lunch and I don’t want to miss a meal.



Campeche…a small wonder!

There is no way to write a short post about Campeche. Small though it may be – not as large a Merida – it is big, in what it has to offer. This post will need to be split into three parts. I hope you will continue to enjoy the story.

Campeche by the sea…

It’s Monday morning and the bags are packed. I always try to take more than I will need but this time we are traveling light – after all, it’s only a three day trip. We will be returning on Thursday afternoon. We don’t need to call a taxi. Our street is a main thoroughfare for taxis and buses. All we need do is step out the front door and flag one down. However, John will most likely phone our regular taxi driver, Manuel. He takes us everywhere and even waits for us to shop, then brings us home again. The bus station, for the ADO bus we are taking, is several blocks distance, so with our luggage, it is easier to have transportation. Dragging a suitcase around behind me for ten or twelve blocks is not the way to start a leisure escape to adventure.

DSCN1960Luggage by the door


You may not see it, but Manuel is smiling – he is always smiling! He has driven a taxi in Merida for over 30 years (not this one) – he is proud of his new taxi., and so are we…it has air conditioning that works!

The ADO bus station is always clean and comfortable. Even though we purchased our tickets several weeks ago at the ticket office near the Hotel Fiesta Americana, we arrive early to be on the safe side. A great number of people travel by bus in Mexico – just like they used to do in the US on Greyhound buses. However, it’s wise to purchase tickets well in advance – buses can fill up quickly. As we are both over 70, we qualify for the INAPAM discount for senior citizens. That makes our tickets $113 pesos each way (per person) – or approximately $12 USD round trip. It takes around two hours, riding in air conditioned comfort to travel from Merida to Campeche on the Gulf of Mexico.


We arrived in Campeche around 4:30 pm and checked into the Hotel Socaire.


Our junior suite was ready and inviting. We unpack our huge amount of clothes, stored them away and stretched out for a short siesta on a most comfortable bed before showering and dressing for our first night on the town.


It was a short walk to the main plaza all decked out for the holidays. We visited the main cathedral and headed for   Marganzo’s, one of the most highly recommended restaurants in town. Our table had a great view of the original old wall around the city to protect it from invading pirates, and the restaurant was open to the street.



I ordered a crab cocktail and John had a plate of thinly sliced octopus. Both were delicious.


Cocktail filled with crab meat with chips and white wine /  octopus with a sauce I can’t remember and a little Bohemia oscura (dark beer).


My main course was the coconut shrimp served with an apple chutney – great taste!


Eight large shrimp is no small serving.


John ordered a large serving of butterflied shrimp with rice and veggies.

Now you know why this post is going to be cut into thirds. You are probably already grabbing you sweater and heading out to the nearest restaurant. I will give it a rest – without mentioning dessert and start the next one with breakfast at the hotel. I mention to a friend the other day that we would eat and sleep, eat and sleep  and eat and sleep. In between, we roamed the streets and did some sightseeing…then slept some more. I love retirement.


I said goodnight to my new friend, before heading back to the hotel. He is a bronze statue of a local fisherman, wearing his straw hat, with his catch-of-the-day resting by his boot covered feet.


We saw several fishermen in the same outfit the following afternoon. But that’s getting ahead of myself.

Buenos noches amigos – hasta mañana…


No Rain on this Parade…

The morning was crystal-clear and the temperature hovered in the mid-60s – it was a perfect day for the parade as excitement filled the air.

The Porto-potties had been delivered and placed during the night. All the streets to be used were cordoned off – no traffic. The silence was amazing – almost eerie. The distant call of a Mot-mot bird drifted on the morning breeze as we sat having our first cup of cinnamon flavored Mexican coffee. We have become very native when it comes to some of the simple joys of life like our morning coffee or afternoon siesta and Horchata smoothie.

Off in the far, far distance, we could barely detect the low rumble of what appeared to be drums. We quickly fixed our breakfast as the tempo slowly increased and the parrots scattered from hiding in the trees and took flight to escape. The bugles sounded and the parade had begun.


I don’t think there is an age limit to participate in a parade. You just have to be willing to march miles while carrying a drum and keeping time with the other boys (or girls). Be sure to have extra drum sticks – You can’t stop to pick on up if you drop it. That’s the job of the stickman on the last row.

Now these ladies mean business. They aim to please.

This no ordinary parade. It is a celebration to commemorate the Mexican Revolution started on November 20, 1910, when liberals and intellectuals began to challenge the regime of dictator Porfirio Diaz, who had been in power since 1877 (a term of 34 years known as El Porfiriato), violating the principles and ideals of the Mexican Constitution of 1857. – Sounds like the USA today – but that’s another story.

There were many costumes in all different colors – these people love a parade.

These women know how to twirl and whirl those skirts. They’ve had lots of practice.

This is a national holiday in Mexico and everyone is in the holiday spirit. Thousands of people participate in this parade every year. It begins at the Monument of the Patriots on Paseo de Montejo (a block passed Walmart) and continues to the main plaza or Zocolo in the center of The White City (Merida). This as a walk of 18 very long blocks.


Snazzy uniforms for this drum and bugle corps. These guys know how to dress.

When it came to color and music, this parade was up to par with some of the best. Although there are no actual bands marching, the numerous drum and bugle corps make up for their absence, aided by a caravan of pick-up trucks and other vehicles, equipped with monstrous speaker systems, blaring dance and marching music.


The peasants are revolting! But they look so cute dressed in white and carrying fake rifles.


Please note the girls all wear their hair in a single braid. When it is not braided, it leaves their hair long and wavy.

The State Police lead today’s parade, followed by the Federal Police, the Municipal and City Police. The Fire Department, Sheriff’s Department, First Responders and Rescue Squads also participated – even the canines made an appearance. But my favorite were the dance groups and the ones in traditional costumes.DSCN1906

The Dream Catchers really in step. with the music.


This little Dream Catcher caught my eye and .


The Umbrellas of Mexico – Now there’s one I bet you didn’t think you would see. I give it the award for most inventive.


These are my hat check girls doing their special rendition of the Mexican Hat Dance. It takes a lot of concentration.

There was not a school in Merida that didn’t have an entry, sporting the school’s banner and required uniforms. They march in military fashion with precision movements (to the best of their ability).DSCN1895

No. It is not Sally Rand – but I call them the Fan Dancers. The boy on the right is there to protect the birds of a feather flocking together. The truck on the left was blaring the music  for the marchers.


The Pom-pom girls were a little off on the count. It is a two handed move but one hand didn’t remember that. May she was just tired.


I think the scarf dancers had had too much vodka in their orange juice.


Now you really got us in a mess! This is supposed to be a red bow…what were you thinking? Fake it! Just fake it…there’s only eight more blocks to go. No one will ever know.


Construction workers in their green and orange vest complete with hard-hats and mask had their own group represented. They were carrying various tools – picks, shovels, saws, etc.

The parade lasted from 7 am until 10 am, when the last of the marchers passed our doorway. There was a good turn-out and now that siesta is over, the parties will go on until the wee hours of Tuesday morning – usually with fireworks at some point in the night. I hope you enjoy these few photos I was able to snap.DSCN1948

Even the buzzard got a birds-eye view of the parade sitting on the tower near by.

Happy Thanksgiving to all – even if you don’t celebrate it.

Picture 020

David (D.G. Heath) and John ( Chef – John Johnson III)