Some stories from the summer

Can’t believe it’s Labor Day Weekend already. The summer tourist season is officially over and things are quieting down even more than usual.  The winds have died down, too, and without a breeze our condo is HOT!  We try to spend as much time as possible in the “refreshing” 88 degree water, but alas, we have to get our work done. Both of us hunker down next to our high speed fans and try not to be too grouchy with the heat. Mark still won’t let me turn on the air conditioning because of the environmental impact, but we’re surviving. Neither of us wear anything but a bathing suit all day.  Pancha uses minimal energy by laying under my fan and saving her beach romps for twilight when the sun is almost down.  That all sounds pretty miserable, but in fact, we both just love this climate (weird, I know).  Anyway, I thought I’d share a few of our summer stories in this blog, in case you are curious.


One very memorable night happened a couple of weeks ago.  Merly and Orlando, a local Mexican couple that owns a fruit stand in the Akumal pueblo, invited us to their son’s baptism. We only know them from our fruit shopping, but they have always been friendly and last year when Merly was pregnant we talked a lot about the upcoming baby. Well now Axel is a year old, and her older son is turning five, so Merly and Orlando planned a Baptism/Birthday Party for the two of them. We were honored to be invited, and had no idea what it would be like.  First was the mass.  It was at 5 o’clock on a Saturday. We cruised into the pueblo and hopped out of the car, and there was Merly and her family, all dressed up. She welcomed us and we sat in the second pew right behind her. Her husband asked me to be the photographer, and handed me his digital camera.  The service was about an hour and involved anyone who happened to be at the church (it seemed like many of the townspeople were there just for the mass).  They invited several people up to do readings, and Merly tried to get me to go up, but there was no way I was going to stumble in my gringo accent while reading biblical passages in Spanish!  Still the service was lovely and everyone was so welcoming to us obvious foreigners.

Then was the party. I imagined it would be ten or twenty friends and family members gathering for some cake, but boy was I wrong.  She said it was in the “cancha” which is the cement basketball/soccer court in the center of town. This pueblo doesn’t have a plaza, so the cancha serves as a gathering place for people in the evenings. When we got to the cancha we were shocked to see tables and chairs for 250 people, a giant jump house for the kids, numerous tents covering serving tables for the food, elaborate cakes, waiters, a DJ, and three fancy pinatas.  The party went on for six hours, and included tons of food, drinks, entertainment (freaky clowns and lots of pinatas to destroy), dancing contests for the kids, etc.  We met some nice people, including the sweet godparent couple and a very drunk uncle/cowboy from Panama.  Basically everyone in the town was invited, and it was a great party!

The freaky clown pinata

Hurricane Ernesto

We also experienced our second hurricane last month, Ernesto, who passed through on August 6.  The anticipation was more eventful than the actual storm (technically it was only a tropical storm when it passed through Akumal, though it was at hurricane wind speed level about 40 miles south of here).  No one was evacuating so we stayed put, too, but we were a bit disconcerted when the Mexican Federal Military knocked on our doors at 8pm and recommended that we evacuated or otherwise, just be advised that we were on our own.  By then it seemed too late to evacuate (the storm was supposed to hit with a few hours), so we just shut the hurricane shutters and hoped for the best.  The storm surge came all the way up to the terrace a few times, but water never entered the condo, so that was that.


I’m continuing to teach my English class every Monday to the locals who want to learn.  Most of my students are the hotel maids, along with a few maintenance men and hotel reception workers.  They are so sweet and slowly becoming less shy around me. They’ve been asking me funny things like “What does holy shit mean?” And when I explain it to them (and by the way, this phrase really is odd and makes no sense literally) they tell me that’s what their gringo boss says all day long! They have also been teaching me some words in Maya (their native, indigenous language), and we started talking about the Mel Gibson directed movie Apocalypto, which was filmed in Mexico and is in the Maya language.  So last week they all came over on their lunch break and we watched it at our condo. Mark downloaded the version that has English subtitles, so they listened in Maya and we read the subtitles in English.  If you’ve seen it, you know it’s incredibly violent, and my students knew I wasn’t crazy about violence.  So whenever a violent scene unfolded, I winced and they watched my face and laughed. There was so much laughing going on that you would have thought we were watching a comedy!  Anyway, it was a really fun afternoon!

Paddleboarding Adventures

We bought a second stand-up paddleboard this summer, which is better suited to catching waves, and Mark has been having fun surfing on the little waves that pop up into our bay from time to time.  Now that we have two boards, we’ve been going paddleboarding together, too, which is really fun.

Although as Mark says, I’m a paddleboarding liability!  Last month we did a long paddle to a couple bays south of here, and the plan was to paddle for an hour or so, have a floating picnic, and then paddle back.  Mark had all the gear tied to his board and all I had to do was paddle along beside him on the shorter board, which turned out to be tough.  We noticed a tiny set of waves was coming through, and Mark wanted to try to surf them, so we swapped boards and he headed over there. I paddled around the set, and thought I was fine, until somehow I got sucked into the break. A wave hit my board sideways and everything fell off (snorkels, lunch, beers, the waterproof radio), and my board also floated way.  I panicked, and yelled to Mark, “What do I do?” And he yelled back, “Get the board!” So I swam to it (note that these waves were tiny, maybe one foot tall, but were breaking on very shallow reef so I was getting all beat up). I finally made it to my board and tried to collect all the gear floating around.  Mark came to my rescue and grabbed the rest of the stuff, secured it to my board, and we headed back out. About thirty seconds later another wave hit my board and knocked me and the stuff off all over again. I screamed at Mark, “What do I do now?” and he said, “Just get the fuck out of here, I’ll find all the gear.” 🙂  It was pretty funny! Somehow I managed to get myself and the board out of the waves, and I waited patiently in the calm water outside while Mark got knocked around and collected all our gear again!

Last week we finally convinced the dive shop to rent us tanks, and we went on our maiden solo scuba trip. We loaded the paddleboards up with full dive gear, paddled out to the deep, and went diving by ourselves. We didn’t go too deep (around 30-40 feet). There is a decent reef right outside our bay where we saw lots of fish, a turtle, a grouper, and some pretty coral.  Pretty neat!

The only problem was that when we surfaced, suddenly there were waves lining the entrance back into the bay. This is very unusual (and were caused, we realized later, by another hurricane that was north of us). With a heavy scuba tank and BC balancing on my paddleboard, needless to say I was very nervous to paddle in. We paddled around for awhile and Mark studied the waves, picked the best spot to head in, and then said, “Go now!” I was so scared, and paddled my little heart out, but made it in without falling off my board.  Phew!

Turtle hatchings

Every year we see turtles laying their eggs on the beach and babies hatching from their nest, but this summer we’ve seen more than all the other years combined. This is mainly because we’ve figured out which beaches have the most turtles. Here are a few pics and videos.

Henning and Brandi seemed to attract turtle nests like crazy!

Mark and Henning swam with a group of baby turtles on their first venture into the sea:

Small World

Finally, this little anecdote reminded us what a small world it really is.  Even though Akumal is in a tropical area, you might be surprised to know that there is a not a lot of access to fruits and vegetables here. This soil is not very rich and this peninsula is quite different from the farming areas northwest of here.  All the fruit and vegetables we eat are usually trucked in from central Mexico, and there are often slim pickings (mainly just bananas, tomatoes, avocados, and oranges). However, over the years more and more produce is making its way here, and I’ve discovered shops where I can buy more fruit.  Last week I came home with a bag of nectarines, and as Mark bit into the first one, he commented on how much it reminded him of growing up in Kingsburg, in the Central Valley, the tree fruit capital of California.  The next day he ate another one, and as he picked off the yellow sticker on the fruit he gasped. Yep, you guessed it. These nectarines came from Kingsburg!

Alright, that’s all for now. Headed to a gringo party in the jungle this afternoon. If it’s hot here, it’s gotta be blazing there….but planning to spend all my time in the pool!

a nice sunset a few days ago


Posted by on September 2, 2012 in Uncategorized



This summer started off with a bang (Paola’s wedding) but then quickly slipped into a slower pace. I wondered how I would handle the monotony of quiet Akumal life for the next two months. And then suddenly that all changed when Meg called me on July 22, two weeks before her due date, to say that she was in the hospital ready to have the baby.  I was surprised, nervous and excited, and twelve hours later I was on a plane to San Francisco. Luckily (for me, not for Meg) the labor was long and slow and when I arrived Meg was still many hours from delivering.  I don’t know what I expected, but seeing my little sister in a delivery room about to give birth was such a moving experience for me.

12 hours to go

All smiles on our end!

I still think of her as twelve years old, and we kept joking, “Babies having babies!” But she handled it like a real pro, and John says she was quiet as a mouse as she pushed baby Della out the next morning.

I stayed in Pacifica for two weeks and totally enjoyed every minute with Meg’s growing family: my new niece Della, my recently acquired niece and nephew Gaby and JT, and my brother-in-law John.   I helped as much as I could to make everyone’s life easier while they adjusted to a new baby and all that brings.  It sounds funny (and not like me at all), but I truly enjoyed being helpful and needed, and was happy to shuttle kids to gymnastics, take them for walks on the beach, and fill them with junk food (donuts, McDonald’s, and Taco Bell were our most common meals).

Noni is loving this!

It was Gaby and JT’s idea to throw Della a surprise party when she first came home. They carefully picked out balloons that said “Welcome” and “Good luck!” They were so adorable telling everyone at the store that their two-day-old baby sister was coming home!

I also enjoyed quality time with my sister.  The first night they brought Della home John had a cold and was coughing a lot, so Meg sent him to swap with me on the couch. So Meg and I slept with Baby Della the first night. Meg was up feeding her most of the night, and I would look over at her every once in awhile, wishing I could help, but then of course nodding off again.  I definitely got the “full” experience!  Since Mark and I are not planning to have our own kids, I really appreciate getting this close to the action.

We took Della out for lunch when she was six days old. Is that wrong?

It was so hard to leave them, and I hope to go back soon for another visit. Already Della is growing so fast!  I can’t wait to see them all again, but I’m grateful I was able to share all this with them.

a few months earlier


Posted by on August 26, 2012 in Uncategorized


Nocturnal Visitors

I have always been enchanted by nature and the wild creatures living within it.  Growing up in Pacifica, it was always a big event if I spotted a deer or an owl in the backyard. At the county park I sometimes glimpsed coyote or a bobcat.  As I moved further south to San Diego, I relished the dolphins that often showed up in the surf and the PB parrots that flew by from time to time. This year living in Rosarito I loved seeing the many gray whales migrating north.  This side of Mexico has even more marine animals to enjoy, and that is a big reason why we’re here. Swimming with whale sharks, schools of tropical fish, eagle rays, and turtles is truly amazing. And this summer, actually just this week, I am reminded of all the natural wonders that exist on land as well.

Our condo is right next to a jungle, which is full of lots of nature.  Since we arrived we’ve seen our fair share of insects and reptiles. We’ve seen three snakes, dozens of iguanas and geckos, and six scorpions. Here’s one little snake that we found in the condo. He was small and harmless (sorry the video is so shaky, I’m not a very calm videographer when it comes to snakes!)

All the scorpions, unfortunately, were found in our condo. In fact, in our bedroom.  We are slowly getting less shocked when they show up in our house, and Mark has become an expert at killing them quickly with a newspaper-wrapped book.  But sometimes you just don’t see them until it’s too late.  Last week a scorpion was dangling on the inside of a clean towel, hanging outside the shower. Unknowingly I wrapped the towel around me and wore it for about 10 minutes as I dried off.  When I grabbed the end of the towel to take it off, the scorpion stung me with its nasty stinger.  Even though I didn’t see it, I knew right away what had happened, and I screamed for Mark to come and check under the towel. There he was, ready to strike again. Mark caught him and kept him just in case I had a reaction to the sting.  The sting hurt like hell for three hours, part of my arm was tingly and my mouth and tongue went numb, but eventually the pain subsided and I don’t even have a mark now.  Guess that means I’m not allergic to scorpion stings, which is good.

The offending scorpion–he (or she) was about six inches long.

So, probably some of you are wondering, why the heck do they live in a place where there are scorpions running around? Well, the jungle and the sea bring more than just scorpions.  We have seen some other critters that make it all worthwhile.  A couple nights after the scorpion sting, we heard some noise out on the patio. Often there are hermit crabs crawling around at night, and they sometimes bang against the window with their shells, so we figured that’s all it was. Then we saw the security guard on our patio, stooping down to pick something up. We thought, “Why would he be picking up hermit crabs?” And then we looked in his hand and he had a couple of baby turtles!  They had just hatched from their nest right in the sand in front of the condo, and instead of running towards the sea they were attracted to our lights.  We jumped up, turned out the lights and then scurried around the patio and the rest of the beach collecting baby turtles with the security guard. We placed them in a bucket and after a half an hour we had about 17. A typical nest yields about 100 babies, but rest had made their way safely into the sea. So we took the bucket back to the water and released them one by one into the waves. It was a completely moonless, cloudy night, so we could barely see them enter the water, and then they were gone.  I wish I could have taken photos but the flash would have blinded them. But here’s an old photo and clip of our first turtle hatching experience in Akumal five years ago.

But that’s not it!  Last night about 1:45 am Pancha woke us up, barking. She often barks at the guard walking by or a passing raccoon, but this time her bark was different.  She didn’t go charge at the window like usual; she just made short little barks every few minutes.  I looked out the window but couldn’t see anything, and I didn’t really want to go wander around by myself outside because we had just come home from seeing Savages at the movie theater and I was paranoid that drug cartel kidnappers were outside.  So I tried to shut her up but she kept on barking for two hours.  Mark was irritated, too and neither of us slept much. Around 4am we finally started hearing a noise outside. It was the sound of bushes moving and then the banging of hard plastic.  Clearly something was out there. Finally we spotted movement next to the plastic chaise lounge right on the sand next to our patio.  Whatever it was, it was huge! At first I thought it might be a large cat (rumors are there are jaguars still living in the jungle), but it was actually bigger than that. Then it lifted its spotted head and I thought, “Of course!” It was a giant green sea turtle digging her nest right next to our patio.  She was huge–probably six feet long and three feet wide, and the hole she was digging was three feet deep.  She was using her flippers to dig in the sand, and had sort of wedged herself under one of the lounge chairs. She happened to have chosen a spot in the sand right under our red light (the red light apparently doesn’t disturb turtles, and now we know for sure!) so we could see her perfectly. Mark crept out there and helped move away the chair so that she had more room to dig. She looked exhausted, but kept digging, taking breaks to rest and breathe deeply.  After awhile she stopped and crawled away, without laying her eggs. Apparently that wasn’t the right spot. We watched her crawl around the beach for a little while longer, considering other nest sites, but eventually she went back into the water and swam away. When she left we saw why she was so tired.  She had dug four different holes while she was there–you could see her path in the sand–but she didn’t leave eggs in any of them.  She must have been out there for hours, which explains Pancha’s unsettled barking all night!

We didn’t want to disturb her by taking photos, but here’s a stock photo of a similarly sized green sea turtle on the beach.

Turtle tracks the morning after

This morning, even though I had only a few hours of sleep, I was still energized by the magical visit by the mama turtle last night.  My next wild animal sighting, I hope, will be a monkey. My Spanish tutor says that there is family of spider monkeys living in Puerto Aventuras, so I will try to find them!

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Posted by on July 18, 2012 in Uncategorized


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



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Posted by on May 29, 2012 in Uncategorized


Meg’s Shower

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Posted by on May 29, 2012 in Uncategorized



One huge plus about living in Rosarito is the proximity to our friends.  It’s been great to reconnect with so many people.  We thought our friends might be hesitant to cross into Mexico to see us, but happily many have made the trip, and we’ve enjoyed entertaining south of the border!  Our first guest was Andrea, who bravely walked over the border by herself, made her way the three blocks to downtown Tijuana, and caught a local colectivo (bus) down to Rosarito!  Way to go, world traveler!

Next Paul and Carolina passed through on their way to the Guadalupe Valley for some wine and food tasting. It was great to see them, too, and we had a fun night at Tapanco.  Then Mark’s dad Nick came down while I was away, and the two of them reportedly had a perfect 24 hours that included cervezas in the hot tub while watching gray whales swim by, lobster dinner at Puerto Nuevo, and breakfast at our new favorite beachfront restaurant, Splash.  Nick also braved the public transportation and found his way back over the border by foot. He’s still got it!  Next Johnson and Jenny showed up. Baja is their old stomping ground, so we enjoyed their favorite spot in Puerto Nuevo, Ortega’s, along with a few other nice spots along the coast that day.

Finally Shannon, Venti and Guppy showed up on Cinco de Mayo (which was pretty much a non-event because this holiday is really only celebrated outside of Mexico, in the US, by a few Mexicans and a lot of white people!).  Still, we had a blast with them!

We also had fun on a night out with some new friends, Alejandra and Miguel. They took us to the VIP Room at the movie theatre in Tijuana. For the price of a regular ticket in the US we enjoyed plush leather recliners and a waiter who took our drink and popcorn orders through the movie. We saw Comando Especial, which is the Spanish name for 21 Jump Street. Pretty hilarious, actually!

I  also love being close enough to visit friends up in San Diego. Adina and her family came to San Diego for a week’s vacation, and I met them in Cardiff for a day.

And it’s been great to be so close to Paola! We had a great time beach cruising around PB the other day.

We even rode past our old house on Sequoia Street. Ah, the memories!

Mark and I checked out the Guadalupe Valley a few weeks ago for some wine tasting and a concert. Here are some pictures:

So, this little test of trying out life in Rosarito went pretty well.  We are packing up soon for a few weeks in the Bay Area and Mammoth, and then in June we head back to Akumal for the summer.  But we will probably come back to Rosarito after that.

Here’s one last video of Mark surfing the other day.  Having a nice little wave all to himself right out front is definitely something he will miss!

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Posted by on May 6, 2012 in Uncategorized


Life in Rosarito

It’s been about a month and a half so far in Rosarito.  We are having fun exploring the area. Here are a few stories.


There’s a small bay and fishing village just half a mile north of us called Popotla. After all the years that Mark has surfed in Baja, it’s pretty amazing that he never discovered Popotla until now.  I imagine this is what Puerto Nuevo, the lobster town further south, was like 30 years ago.  The road off the highway is not marked, but as you drive down it you discover about 40 different businesses all squeezed onto a tiny road that spills onto the sand. Don’t let the sand stop you–everyone just drives right on the sand and parks their cars there.  It’s the closest beachfront parking space we’ve ever seen.  Along the sand and the little road before the sand are taco shops, fish vendors, and seafood restaurants, all offering fish caught that day (probably that hour).  The boats drive right up on the sand to drop off their catches, and then the fisherman jumps out of the boat and runs over to his truck to pull the boat out of the water for the day.  It’s such a simple,  low-food miles, authentic little village. Very Steinbeck-esque.

Yesterday Mark and I spent the afternoon there. This week is Easter Week, known as Semana Santa, and Popotla, like the rest of Rosarito, is bustling with tourists.  Not your typical spring breakers, though. The tourists are all Mexican families from inland cities like Tecate.  The beach was packed with extra vendors selling anything from belts to cotton candy to garlic, and kids were being guided around on the backs of sheltand ponies.  Guys on mopeds would drive up and down the beach selling pizza, too.  And a couple of horse riders would cruise by from time to time.

Mark paddled out for a surf, and even though the beach was packed, not one surfer was out (these tourists don’t surf much).  I had planned to bask in the sun and read my book, but didn’t read a word because the people watching was so interesting!

Here’s a video of us driving out of Popotla.

La Sala Tinta Theatre

I read about a concert in Ensenada, and convinced Mark to check it out with me last Saturday night. We’re both so glad we did.  It was in the Santo Tomas Bodega de Vinos, which is an old wine warehouse in the middle of downtown Ensenada.  The old brick building was huge and full of giant wine barrels, old-fashioned tools and wine making apparati.

The theatre inside the warehouse was beautiful, and we perched at the front of the balcony to enjoy the vocalists, two of which were world class opera singers, born and raised in Tijuana.  During the intermission yummy wine, cheese, and desserts were served. The whole night was beautiful and not at all what we expected to find as part of our stay in Baja California!

Here’s a video of the choir singing the title song, Noche de Ronda:


And we are very excited about our new family member, Pancha. After a year without a constant companion (except of course for our foster dog Isha), we were both ready for a new pup, and now that we got our overseas travelling out of our system for a while, it seemed to be the right time. We were looking for a dog that could match our lifestyle, which Diego did so well, so of course we were looking for someone like him.

We found Pancha after about a month of looking at shelters and rescue groups. She is a two year old Pomeranian mix that was given up at a shelter in Orange County.  She’s pretty adorable, and has adapted quickly to our life.  She is already very attached to us, and follows us around the house faithfully.  She is a snugglebug and loves to cuddle.  As we get to know her she is showing that she is playful and energetic at times, too.  Unfortunately, we took her to visit some of our canine friends yesterday and she doesn’t seem to be too friendly with other dogs, so that’s a big issue we need to work on.  She still has a lot to learn, as I guess so do we!

She has a beautiful multi-colored fox-like coat, but we shaved her just to see if she could pull off the shaved look. We think she’s pretty cute both ways.

Pancha el natural

Pancha’s summer cut

Catching up with Friends and Family

We are loving being close enough to hop up to San Diego for a night, and have had fun seeing our family and friends.  We got to celebrate Mark’s mom’s birthday last month, and have been slowly making the rounds on all of our friends.

That’s all for now. Thanks for stopping by!


Posted by on April 8, 2012 in Uncategorized


Back to Mexico

After spending a month in Takapuna, we thought long and hard about where to go next.  With the whole world to choose from, it was hard to make the decision. The original plan had been to settle down on a south pacific island for the next few months, but that wasn’t going to work since those islands didn’t have the community (or internet access) we were looking for.  While we both love Akumal, right now is the high season and everything is totally booked, so that was out. Both of us have been feeling the need to settle down, get more comfortable, be closer to friends and family, and have our “stuff,” so we thought, why not try Rosarito?  Yes, Rosarito, Mexico, as in just over the border from San Diego right next to Tijuana. We have been thinking about Rosarito as a possible new home, so we decided to use the next three months as a trial period. If we like it, maybe we’ll come back here in the late fall to start up a semi-permanent winter/spring residence here.

There were lots of condos for rent since there is not much tourism going on in this part of Mexico (you may have heard there is a little bit of a drug war going on in Tijuana).  While we are concerned about safety issues, before we arrived we spent hours reading and corresponding with both Americans and Mexicans that live in Rosarito, and we think that it’s not an issue that will affect us personally.  We’ve been here two weeks so far, and already we feel very safe. We avoid going to Tijuana, and are mainly staying around the south side of Rosarito, where there are plenty of shops and restaurants to keep up occupied for now.  I feel comfortable driving by myself (our beat-up truck is the perfect Baja car) and everyone we have met is nice and friendly and oh my god the food is so good (and cheap!).

And we love our condo in the Calafia Towers.  We have an amazing view, with dolphins and seals going by every day. Yesterday we also saw our first whale. Pretty neato. The community area here is also amazing–with beautiful walkways, six jacuzzis, two (freezing) pools, and of course, the beach.  The oceanfront gym is a huge plus (which of course Mark uses every day and I have even been known to set foot in), and there is a large lounge downstairs with pool tables, ping pong, fooz ball, etc.,  that we are already enjoying.

Mark and I are playing tennis together. So far I’ve been a big girl and haven’t pouted too much when I lose. He also discovered a left surf break called Popotla, which is just north of us, and it has a great little fishing village attached to it, which has great “autentico” seafood restaurants and taco shops.

The best part is that we are less than an hour away from San Diego (well, it’s a quick drive south, but the north-bound border wait can be hours). We plan to visit as much as possible. We surprised the Vargas/Jasner/Wilson clan a couple weeks ago, and it was great to see the family.  We headed up about a week ago for Mark’s birthday–golf at Torrey Pines and dinner in La Jolla with all our friends. Then back to Mexico the next day.

It’s a nice balance of mellow-Mexican life with US amenities and friends and family nearby….I think this might work for awhile!

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Posted by on March 13, 2012 in Uncategorized