Monday, July 20, 2009

What's New

Here I am out with some of my friends enjoying a fine dinner. We had a fun time, but leave it to me to eat spaghetti all week and then go out to an Italian restaurant. I was pasta'd out but the steak was delicious. The wine was tasty in the moment, but I suffered for it the next day. Left to right, Ula, Beryl, Debi and Lin.

These are my melons. (Got your attention?) I planted the seeds from a canteloupe and this is the first photo in a series I expect will show how melons take over my life.....if this is anything like growing squash, that is.

I just cannot get the photo of the pitaya flower! I have hope for this bloom, for the first time the entire growth didn't fall off after flowering. We may harvest ONE pitaya after all!

To follow up on the water problem from two weeks ago, here is a photo of the sidewalk which was repaired just today. The street repair crew fixed the asphalt the day after the pipes were changed. The sidewalk guys came today and patched it. Of course I also photographed the asphalt, but I imagine this is enough to bring closure for you.
In case you were wondering, the new street pipes did absolutely NOTHING to help the water on its route to the rooftop tank. The plumber never came back, but in his defense, he didn't know what the problem was and he admitted it. We waited for him in vain for two stormy days, though didn't really expect him to show up since he drives a motorcycle. Pablo ended up jiggling the bobbing thing and the tank filled up.

Moka (r) and Mokito (l) are a little disappointed. They were expecting some catnip but Mexican Customs confiscated it. They hope it gave the agents headaches when they smoked it.

It's a flower! No it's a papaya! I am excited about these little papayas on the tree. When I found Hawaiian Strawberry Papaya in Guatemala, I ate a few and saved the seeds. I have my fingers crossed that they grow up healthy and delicious.

Does this post seem a little scattered? Perhaps that is because it is exactly how I feel. It is a pleasant little space in my head, but it just doesn't get a lot accomplished. I thought I would post an update.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Wishing for Water in the Well

I probably shouldn't read my horoscope at all, but definitely not in the morning. Today it said that the planets would cause a disjunct day and due to unexpected occurrences I would not get my work done. My work is writing. I have been writing most of the day, but the average is two paragraphs or half a page of notes before I get distracted and stray off on to another unrelated topic and start writing something else. That is often how my day goes. I am getting used to that.

But then there was this: we had a water overflow problem this weekend and a plumber fixed that yesterday. Today we ran completely out of water. Japay, the water company, sent two guys out at 4pm. They asked if it was maybe the 'flotador' (bobber) in the 'tinaco' (water storage tank) and I said "No, that was repaired just yesterday and the plumber noticed the low pressure."

So one guy walked across the street,assessed the situation, and said, "Well, we are going to have to dig up the street and change the tubería (pipes) as there is probably a leak." Probably? Wouldn't they want to check the actual tinaco and house piping, at least take a little peak, before tearing up the street on a whim? Then they asked if I would be home in an hour so they could return with the equipment they need. I was thinking: Oh great! Jackhammers at the end of the day should please the neighborhood. Well they came back in fifteen minutes with an axe, a mallot and some pipes and tubes. Guy #1 had the street ripped open in a few hacks of the axe and sure as hell, water was geysering up into the sky. I snuck a few photos. When I went back out a few minutes ago, Guy #2 showed me the rotten pipes. They look like they may be from the Mayan Pre-Classic era. New pipes are being installed as I write this.
Look at the monster I created!
The remnants of pipes sitting next to the mallot below are the ancient tubes that were discovered here today.
So they are finished and gone. The water pipes from house to across the street fresh and new. The problem is we still don't feel the water pressure going up the other tubes and into the tinaco. I am going to have to just have faith, hope and keep my fingers crossed on this amazingly rapid and extensive road/water pipe repair and hope that due to the time of day, lack of rain, and high heat, perhaps water pressure is low everywhere right now and with some patience we will back on track in the morning. If not there may be another chapter to add.
If my neighbors are reading this, the guys said tomorrow someone will be by to patch the asphalt on the street and my sidewalk. I am not placing bets on the mañana plan, but I am hopeful.
To top off my day without purpose, I was expecting to spend the afternoon writing and reading, and three students who had abandonned swim class a month or more ago called and wanted to return to classes. Today. The weather held out and perhaps they all just felt like a swim in the 'hood and needed Pablo's great exercises and obstacle courses.
La vida te da sorpresas, sorpresas te da la vida. Wish me luck. Use water sparingly.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Wow! What Weather!

It happened so fast. At 2:45pm Saturday it was 36°C (96.8°F), sunny and hot. Pablo was teaching a class and in the pool. I looked at the sky and saw clouds in the distance so I went to the computer to check the weather satellites and the cloud cover looked dense. I went upstairs to rescue the laundry before the rain, and saw big black clouds marching toward us. As I collected our clothes the wind picked up. It picked up the mats, the balls, and the pool toys and flew them around the patio. It tossed big tree branches into the back yard.

Then the rains came. By 2:55pm it was 25°C (77°F). The temperature had dropped over 20°F in just ten minutes. It poured down hard, sideways…directly into the living room, bypassing the door’s double rain guards, gushing in at the corners of the door creating a lake in two rooms. It rained hard for about half an hour, accompanied by sharp lightning and earth rattling thunder. The rain lightened up but it continued to rain steadily for at least an hour. It’s the longest hardest rain we’ve experienced this year. The streets were flooded, as usual. It was the first time the entire back yard became a swimming pool. I’ll admit we have one trouble spot in the yard where rainwater collects for a while after a heavy rain, but the ground was saturated yesterday and the water had NO place to go. The swimming pool is nearly full to the brim. I would venture to say we received nearly four inches of rain in less than an hour.

At 4pm the 24 hour temperature low was recorded at 21.5°C (70.7°F). This is a typical low temperature for us IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT. Not in the middle of the afternoon. The rainy season, adrenaline fodder.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Oxkintok Ruins

Flamboyan in bloom on the road south of Mérida on Sunday, July 5, 2009.

It’s been a while since we’ve gone exploring on a Sunday. This past weekend we packed up a carload of drinking water, some tunes and headed south of Mérida about 75 kms. to the Ruta Puuc where the hilly landscape is literally dotted with ruins, cenotes and underground caverns (grutas). Our entertainment along the way was watching the thousands of butterflies flitting about the blue sky. Neon green and yellow, orange and blue….they were so plentiful and amazing that we got sidetracked and got carried away photographing them.

I'd brought along the wrong map. All maps are not equal here in México. I am rather particular about mapping, having something of a navigational fixation. Some maps of the Yucatán are too old to show the last ten years' improvements, or worse don’t show which coastal roads have been completely washed out over the same time frame. I had what I call a ‘high hopes’ map. It showed new, beautiful (non-existent) divided asphalted highways. Periféricos and connecting roads that are still blueprints awaiting approval, signatures and lots of official stamps in some government office. It is disappointing when the actual roads don’t coincide with the fantasy map highways. But we keep driving in the direction that feels right and always end up somewhere!

This time we accidentally stumbled upon the massive and surprisingly impressive ruins of Oxkintok. There are thirty groups of buildings which we saw on both sides of the 4 km. gravel road we drove toward the entrance.

This sign will tell you all about it. I was impressed with the great informational signs that explained the buildings throughout the ruins.

Oh, you don't read Mayan? Well, I guess you will have to read about OXKINTOK on the Mayan Ruins Explored site in English if you want to see what an excellent excursion it is.

We didn't stop truckin' after exploring the first ruins, we continued along the Ruta Puuc to Kabah and Sayil. Those posts will appear later this week. First I try to make sense of what I saw, do some extra research, and sift through the zillion photos we always take before posting. Uxmal is the most popular site along this route, but we decided to save it for another day. Another day later in the afternoon when we can tolerate the heat, then cool down with a cold drink awaiting the evening sound and light show. When we passed Uxmal it was high noon, and as you probably know, only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noon day sun. We opted to enjoy the air conditioned comfort of crusing the butterfly road around the Ruta Puuc loop until we found some lesser known ruins with more shade.

What is wrong with this picture? Improper footwear for ruins climbing, no hat for sun protection, and no bottle of water to prevent dehydration. Who is this, some stupid tourist?

Nope, it's me. Truth is, I did have a bag I carried with waters and books. I could have used my ankle high tennies and a cap though. It was brutally hot.