Monthly Archives: June 2012

Bienvenidos a Miami

Well, you might have heard the Miami Heat made it to the NBA finals last week.  All season Mark had watched their games and for the last month he had been studying the schedule and trying to estimate when the finals might be, which games would be in Miami, and if we might go.  And to go back even further, for years we had daydreamed about hopping over to Miami for the weekend from Akumal, since Miami is a direct, hour and a half flight from Cancun. So now was the perfect opportunity.  We gambled a little by waiting until Game 5. The series score was 3-1, Miami, so we knew that we had a chance of seeing the championship game.  And we got lucky!

We flew into Miami the day of the game and checked into our snazzy party hotel in the heart of South Beach (the hotel had a DJ spinning in the lobby, and free mojitos during happy hour).  We grabbed some dinner on Ocean Avenue and then took a taxi to the arena, just a few minutes away.  It was a gorgeous, clear warm night and everyone was super excited. Quickly we realized that of course all the fans were wearing white to support the home team. Duh–we forgot to wear white! Oh, well. They gave out white Heat towels to everyone and we tried to blend in.

We had bought our game tickets just a couple hours before on a ticket broker website, and were pleasantly surprised at how close we seemed (though we were still very high up!).  Right away we spotted Chuck Barkley and Shaq on the court, doing interviews. Soon we saw the ESPN crew, including Magic Johnson, set up in the box over the court.  Then both teams came out to shoot around, and we were giddy with excitement.

Chuck and Shaq

The fans were amazing. We’ve heard Miami fans were fair-weathered, but the people sitting around us were great.  There were about five different groups (young and old) and they all had season tickets so they had sat together all year. We were impressed that they didn’t “sell out” their championship game seats. They were die-hard. One of them had the most adorable one-and-a-half year old, who was totally into the game and dancing during the time-outs. They told us he had been to every game this season!  Pretty amazing, since the games usually start at 9pm. He almost made it to the last quarter, but fell asleep.  One tiny African-American grandmother next to us was totally into the game. She was a big fan of Mike Miller and kept yelling, “It’s Miller Time.” As he kept sinking his three pointers she started dancing around and yelled, “I just can’t be still!”

The game was action-packed, too. Even though The Heat had the lead the entire game, it was still full of exciting shots and amazing dunks. I suppose that’s all I will say about basketball because I barely know the lingo…but I have to admit, I had so much fun watching basketball (who would have guessed?).

We really enjoyed watching the players celebrate as they realized they won, especially Lebron. He was giddy and bouncing around and picking up his coach and fellow players. It was pretty cute.  I was really happy for him. Then there was a big party which started at the arena but pretty much lasted all night. As we poured out of the stadium we could tell that the whole city of Miami had watched the game, and everyone was driving around honking and hanging out of their cars, screaming.  When we got back to South Beach it was the same, so we just wandered the streets enjoying the festivities.  Such a fun night for the both of us!

The next day and night we enjoyed South Beach. It is full of such a wonderful young, diverse (but especially latin), and beautiful group of people, and the people-watching was fantastic. We basically wandered around the shops, restaurants and bars all day around Collins and Ocean Avenue, and relished being in a culture so completely opposite to Akumal. We sure do love contrast!

We accidentally paid for our most expensive drinks ever by ordering two mojitos at the Cardozo Hotel.  We knew they were going to be pricey, but when the bill came at $50 for two drinks, were were shocked. Still, they were pretty big drinks, so we were sure to drink to the very bottom!

Me and my twenty-five dollar mojito

Saturday we checked out of the Chesterfield and drove south to the Keys, another place that we both had wanted to visit for many years.  First stop was lunch in Key Largo (yes, we of course had to play the Beach Boys’ Kokomo song a few too many times on the road).  We made a detour in Islamorada where we fed some gigantic tarpon and pelicans, and then we drove down to Key West, the southernmost point of the Florida Keys and also of the entire eastern seaboard.

Key West is our kind of town. Mellow and relaxed, surrounded by water, but with a wonderful little strip called Duvall Street that is packed with restaurants, bars, shops, and full of people looking to have fun.  We had a full day and night on Duvall Street, including amazing sushi and the obligatory cheeseburger in paradise at what is claimed the original Margaritaville.

This was a bar completely plastered with one-dollar bills. Mark did the math (it took him awhile, his built-in calculator was running a little slow) and estimated $100,000 were on the walls!

We hadn’t booked a room in Key West, and were a little worried that since it was Saturday night we might have trouble. But as soon as we drove in and picked out the part of town we wanted to stay, we spotted an adorable bed and breakfast that had one room left. It was super cute and we wished we were staying longer.

The next day Mark went for a run and I walked over to Hemingway’s old house, where he lived in the 20s and 30s. It was such a treat.  Restored the way it had been when he had lived there and full of fifty cats that were genuine descendants of Hemingway’s famous six-toed cats, the house had so much charm. Walking through his writing room gave me chills and lit the fire in me to get my act together!  I also learned more about his life in Cuba, and now I need to go see his house there, too. Put that on the list!

Sloppy Joe’s Bar–Hemingway’s old hangout

What a wonderful weekend. By Monday afternoon we were back home (after picking up Pancha from the doggy hotel in Playa del Carmen), just in time for my Monday English class.  Now it’s back to the grind, I guess! This last sign sort of sums it up:

Finally, here is a video of the Heat Band on game night:


Posted by on June 27, 2012 in Uncategorized


Back in Akumal

Well, it’s been quite awhile since my last post, and I know my two faithful readers (our moms!) might want an update.  I cheated a little by just uploading photos of some of our events in Northern California last month. We had a great time visiting some of our friends and family up in Big Bear (Shannon), Pacifica (my mom and sister), San Francisco (Adina), Los Altos (Rhodes et. al — if this was not a G-rated blog Mark could tell you some stories….), Healdsburg (Steve and his family), and Mammoth (the bump crew!).  And it was bittersweet to say goodbye to the family and friends in San Diego, but on June 1 we arrived back in Akumal for the summer.

And now more than ever Akumal is feeling like home, and I suppose technically it’s the place we are spending the most time in, so that qualifies as our default home right now, huh? It sure feels like it.  I admit it sounds a bit cheesy, but as soon as we arrived we felt embraced by the warm tropical breeze, the beautiful turquoise water, and the laid-back pace of life.

Immediately we were welcomed back in the Akumal community, for better or worse!  The waiters at Lol-Ha definitely were happy to see us, and we have been spending a lot of time at Tequillaville, a bar/restaurant in Akumal Pueblo, since they show all the NBA games.  In fact, the other night a girl was proposed to, and somehow she dragged me up along with the owner of the place so we could dance on top of the bar. Pretty hilarious!

And Panchita is really getting into her groove down here. At first she was timid and yappy and clearly confused about what the heck we were doing here, but now she’s learned to enjoy chilling under the palapa and paddleboarding.

I started teaching my local English class and all my students returned from last year, plus a few new ones. They are so cute, and often stump me with “Why is the English language like that?” questions. My answer is always the same, “I don’t know!” 🙂

I also started working with a Spanish professor once a week, who is “refining” my Spanish, as she kindly puts it.  She’s amazing, and our classroom happens to be a cafe overlooking the dolphins in Puerto Aventuras, so it’s quite a pleasant tutoring session!

Mark is, of course, working out like a maniac, and after a shopping spree at the sporting good store (including his new weighted jump rope), his outdoor gym is all set up.

And the past week has been full of fun and revelry for Paola and Troy’s wedding, which happened just a few miles away. It was such a blast to have fifty of (their) closest friends visiting. One of them was our old roommate Ulrike, who made the major effort of coming down for the weekend and leaving behind her two small children. She was a champ and in the 48 hours she was here managed to fit in lots of snorkelling, swimming, running, palapa time, and many drinks, too!

The wedding was a wonderful success.   The ceremony and reception were both at beautiful sites and the party was pretty out of control! Here are a few of the more tame photos.

Not much else to report. Basically, we are both happy and settled here for awhile!

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Posted by on June 20, 2012 in Uncategorized