Drawing competition in Santa Elena

Now I have a little more time I thought I would do a fun thing in the village. I set out three categories based on age, one for ninos (children) up to the age of 13 and two categories for young and adults ,for a drawing/painting competition.

Mi Pueblo Maya

Mi Pueblo Maya

I passed by the local mayors office to see if it would be O K to have the prize giving in front of the palacio . With his approval I promptly pasted all the information outside, on the wall ,so the villagers could read and hopefully participate .

Next a visit to the schools passing out the information. The participants then had 10 days to do a drawing or painting .

The children had to draw a humming bird and the two young and adult categories one being of a bird and the other , my pueblo Maya.

winner of Mi Pueblo Maya

winner of Mi Pueblo Maya

As the closing day was drawing close I was getting a little concerned as there was only one drawing and so another trip to the schools to remind them and gave them two days extra to bring in their drawings. The children were a little shy to participate as this was something a little unusual .

Oh my goodness ,then I was inundated !

My task was then to select 1 st, 2nd and 3 rd prize winners in each catagorie

Saturday was the day of prize giving and I tried to co herse  the mayor to help give out the monies but I think he was busy so his secretary volunteered instead .

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One family was really happy their son won a prize and thanked me for giving motiva tión for the children      Ahhhhh! I thought ,how lovely, a forward thinking family … How lucky is this boy to have such caring parents .

I explained to all the participants that this will now be an annual affair and they have a year to practice and improve

I hope I gave some the inspiration with the small exhibition of some of my paintings. Lets see what next year brings!


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Dia de los muertos/ day of the dead

This year ,as the last ,the wonderful displays that they used to do in the village did not happen. So sad really as everywhere else there seemed to be the celebration… but of course  it always comes down to politics. Nevertheless I set up a small altar in the display area as you enter into The Pickled Onion

One of the ladies  in the village is well prepared to supply the flowers for the people in the village that do prepare their alters in their homes . I asked Maria if  I could go to her garden and take photos of course she kindly said yes and escorted me to her home and her back garden which was a sight worth seeing


a view of Marias garden of flowers with limones in the foreground

a view of Marias garden of flowers with limones in the foreground

Below you will see more of her garden

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This year … again to my trusty manager I was able to celebrate a lovely night in one of Meridas most beautiful homes….. Guests were made up mostly of expats to which most I did not know. and the place was heaving with people The food was great and wine free flowing … but below are photos showing our preparations for the event .


Here I am !!!!

And some friendsDSCN2102DSCN2100DSCN2101

Also a few photos of  house .

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More photos of the altar at The Pickled Onion and one from a Merida restaurant

A Merida restaurant Altar

A Merida restaurant Altar

The Pickled Onion Altar

The Pickled Onion Altar

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Dentists….. a trip to the Dentists in Yucatán

Going to the Dentist in Yucatan

Because I live in a very rural area questions arise from tourists as to how one obtains medical help or other services such as dentists etc.

The closest for a doctor ,that is reliable for me, is in Ticul. There is a doctor in town but if you can find him and also at the health dept there is always a young doctor who has just left university and comes to Santa Elena to do the 2 year practicum.

But what I will talk about today is dentists.

When I first arrived and living in Ticul I went to the most modern office where the young man was very good and thorough… he then took on the job as Mayor for Ticul therefore his practice was kind of forgotten .

I then began building the business and so I began to neglect my teeth although they never gave me any pain , it took 8 years up to now until I realized that I have now time to take care of me!

I choose a dentist in Merida, Diana , on recommendation of one of my guests who had not only come on holiday but made the trip mostly to have dental work done.

Diana Navarro my dentist lady

Diana Navarro my dentist lady

I finally began my treatment in May…… I had lots of fillings dating back 50 years ago and we all know that in those days they used mercury. So the marathon was on to refill but of course again we know that even if you have fillings, your teeth still decay underneath.. mind you I thought 50 years was a good stretch! Although when I mentioned the amount of work I was having done to my brother he was suprised as he always thought my teeth were good. But isnt that normal … what you see on the outside is not always what is going on , on the inside!

I found Diana,s office quite easily behind one of the big Malls north of Merida and next to the Clinica Merida , one of the big hospitals they have in Merida.

Her office was on the 5th floor of the building , quite modern . Diana surprised me by greeting me in English  . She is young modern  lady with a young family  and very pleasant and as I got to know more with my visits I am always greeted with a hug and leave with a hug. Never have I had these kind of greetings from previous dentists… it make one feel  very welcomed.

She is kind, courteous ,always a smile and gentle human being…..

I have had to date four refills ,4 root canals,6 caps and not one iota of pain! For the root canals I went to a specialist , Edgar, who again spoke excellent English, was charming and gentle .

So here we are in October and next week will be the last fitting of the final caps…it has been a long journey with all the trips into Merida every week but I was able to combine , visiting with friends, shopping for the restaurant, car serviced etc so not really a waste of time.


I know I could not afford all this work in such a short time in Canada and I feel each experience here in the Yucatan is a blessing .

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Red Moon , Full Moon

Full moon , Red moon.

Yesterday September 27th we were witnesses of a wonderful phenomena which they say will not happen again until the year 2033 another 18 years to wait.. Not sure if that would be possible for me to see again but one never knows.( Hey wait a minute that would make me 86 of course I am going to see it again)! So I thought I had better get outside and enjoy the few hours that this would take place .


It is not unusual to have amazing night skies, and especially when the moon is full , it lights up the pathways and gives a night time glow .


The moon rises

The moon rises



It wasn’t certain that the skies would be clear as the weather forcast was predicting heavy rains which could move into a cyclone. I was so happy when I saw the clouds clearing in the early afternoon and knew it would be a clear night.

I wandered off to the back of the property, with my camera in hand and made myself comfortable by slinging up a hammock in the Casa de hamacas that I have at the back . I settled in the hammock listening to the night sounds. So peaceful and relaxing doing my best not to fall asleep.


The moon finally showed itself…… big and bright and little clouds to get in the way .


Later I moved to the front parking lot where I stood and watched for ages . I marveled at the milky way so bright and clear , the stars were in abundance as too were the fireflies .

The start of the eclipse

The start of the eclipse



It was amazing ! As I have mentioned before I am not really a photographer just a point and shoot and I found it difficult to keep my hands steady but I hope you enjoy the few photos .


A shaking hand produced a few moons

A shaking hand produced a few moons

nearly got a good photo

ec;lipse finishing

ec;lipse finishing



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Dengue and Chikungunya ? Do I have one or the other?

The good news is that I did nt have either Dengue or Chikungunya (which I really knew deep down). Because I had similar symptoms , headache ,muscle ache in the upper torso,a slight fever, and a really bad  cough ,automatically the staff gave me the diagnosis  of one or the other . Surprising how, if one lets it happen , how fear can take over, But I know how the village people re act and the more dramatic a situation the more they like it… or if it is not dramatic enough they add to it .

For example , when we had the extreme heat in May and June my feet decided to swell a little. One of the ladies in the village saw them and said to me Valerie I have medicine in my house for this… drop by and I will find it for you.I took her up on this and happy with the results… but the next thing I heard in the village was that Dona Valeria is retaining water and she is dying !!!And that is why she is building a house so she can die in peace there…. it is so funny to hear stories like this but I guess that is what makes a village colourful .

But to continue with the Dengue or Chikungunya episode . For me to have a fever is very rare I think only 5 times in my lifetime as this happened . I spent nearly the whole day in bed with fever up and down and coughing seemed like non stop. In the end Hilario, my general manager, insisted that he took me to the doctor.

Of course I knew this would mean and injection first then the tablets for later .


The doctors diagnostic… a case of Bronchitis ! Phew that was a relief ! But as I mentioned above I knew it was not going to one of the dreaded infections as I have people come by to constantly spray and in-between times the gardeners do it also. I hate to spray as the chemicals are quite strong and to be honest if I was living here alone I would not do it … but having this kind of business one has to be aware of the guests and make them as comfortable as possible.

So for those of you who are not too wise about Dengue or Chikungunya either one of them are not very pleasant

Symptoms are sudden fever and acute aching of the joints and headaches . The mosquitos that are the culprits are usually the ones that are around in the day time .The mosquito becomes infected when they have fed from  persons that are already infected… and pass the infection the next unexpected culprit .We do have a few cases in Santa Elena but nothing compared to the city of Merida . But it is always wise to carry you repellent with you especially in built up areas .



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Frida Kahlo celebration

I was so looking forward to the Friday night celebration of Frida Kahlo in Merida. It was going to be a dress up …… come as Frida Kahlo or Rivera ,her renouned  husband painter.Her work is becoming more famous now than her husbands although he always thought she had amazing talent as did her many admirers .

My friend, Joanna Rosado, and fellow blogger …. writing from Merida….. invited some friends to celebrate with homemade delicious Chile in Nogada and it was going to be held in their school ( ITT Merida )to be able to accommodate all .





Because I have more spare time now with having Hilario as my general manager , who incidentally does an amazing job,I thought I would really get into the swing of the dress up and take advantage of it. I took off a photo of Fridas clothes and marched down to the local seamstress , I picked out the fabric for the skirt and within a few days it was ready. I had already picked out a blouse to wear from my closet but then I got more inspired and decided to make one to go with the outfit .

As I am in Merida quite often I took the opportunity to buy some trinkets…. Frida liked a lot of rings having one on every finger…. now this fashion is popular with young and old alike. I picked out the funkiest I could find , rings, necklaces, bracelets earrings  etc . It was becoming quite fun. Then next into the cosmetic shop to buy nail varnish … you know the bright red type, lipstick and of course the black pencil to make the infamous eyebrows . The more stuff I bought the more I was getting quite excited at the thought .

Joann gave me a braid… this is where I fall short , as I was not going to paint my hair black so a blonde Frida Kahlo look alike it would have to be.

I went into Merida the night before to help as much as I could with the preparations . I was going to make the flower arrangements  for the tables and was looking forward to doing my bit.



Jonna and I head off to the flower shop to buy the flowers which Joanna had picked out the nice colour scheme. And so the work began .The kitchen was abuzz with many workers helping out preparing, cutting and chopping etc and after two days of preparation the time was near.

Joanna with her painting

Joanna with her painting

Joanna put on her display of her latest painting which was beautiful. An inspiration of Frida from the back view and a tattoo like design of her eyes and brows on her back.

So time for dress up . I had mentioned to the staff that no one would recognize  me very easily, which is what I wanted… For most it worked and it was fun to watch the faces of the ones that finally realized who I was.


I had not known that as I was preparing my costume that there would be prizes but to my surprise I was the winner of the most original then a second prize was for the most colourful and a third prize that went to be shared with the women in pink.

Fridas in pink

Fridas in pink


Las Fridas

A very fun event and one I hope to attend more of now that I have the free time.

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Never say never

My mother and father took their  first cruise in 1961 to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary .It was going to be an elaborate affair as my mother packed her fur shawls , long evening dresses ,her imitation diamond tiaras whilst my father was packing his dinner jacket and bow tie. In the early days of cruising this was the normal attaire for dinner EVERY night.Every  meals served at the table and waited upon.

The ship set sail to see the wonders of Egypt along the mediterranean seas. I dont remember taking in too much interest as they were about to leave. All I was thinking was a week on my own….

They arrived home with stories of their trip and souveniers . The one that sticks out in my mind was a leather red and Green ottaman that had to be packed tightly with old clothes and newspapers to Puff it up …. before we could sit on it… This came from Egypt .

The cruise industry has changed since those days…. they have become more affordable for the working class… ( oh my parents were working class but mum liked to think she was a bit above , at times ) the rules are more relaxed, no indivdual tables dinning with the Captain… Buffet style breakfast and lunch .So where is all this leading to.? Well I said I would never go on a cruise… I have said never to a few things in my life but finished up doing it…


The opportunity came about because a friend of mine, who lives in Merida, asked if I would like to join her( she was really looking for a room mate ) on a cruise that was leaving from Progresso … I had seen this a  couple of years ago and thought it would be interesting as it is geared to the Mexican tourists and would be a neat way to be involved with the culture and learn more spanish .

So I took the bait and said I would go along, knowing that my trusty general manager was up to speed in accepting reservations etc meaning that I did not have to partly work as the last getaway I took. Ah! this will be freedom for me!

The Price was unbelivabley cheap ! It was leaving Progresso north of Merida and heading for Gran Cayman islands,Roatan, Belize ,Cozumel and back to Progresso taking 8 days in total. T he embarkation was a bit haphazard but we made it on board .. the cabin was tight squeeze especially as my room mate is well, a Little overweight but we managed !

Previously I had taken off the internet the ships diagram of all the floors so I dropped off my bagage and went off exploring . I was looking for the spa!!! I figured the first day is a sea day and that is the day I pamper myself. I booked this .day with a massage, manicure, pedicure and hairdo… and a couple of more massages for the rest of the week and the hairstylist for the one night formal dinner that was scheduled . This was going to be a me week …. I said to myself as the bill mounted up … you deserve this Valerie ! Then I realized it had been more than 9 years since I had a manicure or a pedicure…. Darn right Valerie you do deserve this , laughing silently!

IMG_1159 IMG_1133

It was a pleasant trip , the staff were great, the food was good, the trips were enjoyable

I made new friends , had wonderful experiences …swimming with the sting rays  in Gran Cayman ,was way too cool !


The ruins of Lumanai in Belice are spectacular !






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Cozumal I am not sure I would be in a hurry to spend time there , even though it is not far from where I live.

So all in all very pleasant and relaxing… would I do it again?

Never say never .

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A visit to a typical Maya family home

If you are interested in how the Maya live in the traditional way there is a lovely family in the village that open their doors for you to enter and visit with them.

Hernando in his  backyard

Hernando in his backyard

Hernando will receive you at his front gate. He will escort you into a typical Maya house where he will explain the reason that they built the houses in an oval shape.It seems each corner , each piece of wood, that they used to build ,as a significance .The rounded part being taken from the half moon . The four strong thick posts that hold the roof ,representing the four corners of the world . He will show you how best to sleep in a hammock for adults and children .


demonstrating the hammock way

He will take you to see his wife making handmade tortillas over an open fire.

Making handmade tortillas

Making handmade tortillas

Then a trip into the garden where he will demonstrate how to make rope from the Henniquin plant .

Henniquin demonstration

Henniquin demonstration

Then onto his small altar where he explains the work that the Maya gods do.

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All in all it is a great experience and you can enjoy it too.! If you would be interested just get in touch with me and you can either walk down by yourself or if you need someone to translate either I or Hilario would be more than happy to share the experience with you . It would be our pleasure.

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So much time has passed since I wrote anything on my blog It is hard to believe how quickly it goes

Where I left off was , I think ,way back in early Feb . After checking my dates it was Dec when I last posted….

Wow!I had no idea it had been so long!

This year I went to the pre carnival dance in Merida put on by the Red Cross and the event is for only women.. The costumes and the dancing was amazing! Such creativity !

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I am a member of the I W C (international womens club) although I must profess you will not see me at the meeting or participating in the many wonderful programs and charity work they do. Living at least one hour away and with having the business it makes it difficult at times. But this time I promised my self I would go as a member of the I W C to the pre carnival .

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I did not realize we were going to dress up but someone had a T shirt for me and a few others ,that had thought the same as me. So we doned our costumes and off we went.


The girls actually won the price for the most comical…. And I think that was the first time in the history of the I W C that they had won a price .

As mentioned in a previous post about the old beetle I had re painted and “done up” with hopes of renting it out to tourists that come without a car. Well this did not really work out … I decided I did not want the liability if anything had happened whilst driving out and about. I lent it out to some lovely friends of mine to see how it would be for them. Sort of a test drive. Well they came back after quite an adventure and informed of what needs to be done…. The husband knew quite a lot about Beetle Bugs. So after this run I decided it was not worth it … What did I do with my lovely beetle that had worked so hard for me over the last 8 years? I sold him! But he is still in the village as one of my staff asked if he could buy it from me…. He loved the colours and was delighted with his purchase.

I did shed a tear as he was driven away… it had held so many memories for me. I have never shed tears over a car before so that caught me off guard.


I sometimes see him driving by at night ,with all his family in the car, going for a spin .So I know he has gone to a loving home.

The next project started not long after saying goodbye to the Beetle. A new house !

In the beginning there was only earth

In the beginning there was earth!

No not to rent out but for me! I now have a lovely bathroom with a jaccuzi tub ( oh such luxury) a separate bedroom with closets. Although I still prefer to sleep in the hammock. A kitchen where I can now make my breakfast without disturbing the boys in the kitchen as they prepare breakfast for the guests . An area with lots of light so I can continue my painting and my work area , computer etc and a small seating area. Oh yes and patio doors from the bedroom onto a small patio. Wow ! I am in heaven! The project started at the end of March and by the end of June I was moved in and my old house re vamped ready for the high tourist season again in July/August .


It took two workers  from the village ,3 months from start to finish…. they did an awesome job!

So we now can offer two family rooms that sleep up to 5 people

And we re vamped two more rooms adding extra beds to accommodate up to 4 people.

The other news is I now have a general manager who is excellent and makes my life so much easier. Instead of everyone coming to see me to ask what to do I give Hilario the information and he takes it from there.IT was just becoming too much for me to deal with the overseeing, reservations and shopping for the restaurant. So one could say I am now officially semi retired and it feels so good.

I managed a short visit to Canada to be with my 90 year old aunt and I returned with her where she stayed with me for a week. But after being on the property for only two hours the poor thing fell and fractured her arm. But again luck was on our side


I whisked her to a doctor in Ticul , had her x rayed and as luck would have it , it was the day a bone doctor came into to Ticul from Merida( he comes once a week) so he strapped her up and we were back home in 2 hours.


It did not hamper her mood though she ploughed through and was joking and chatting up the boys…. They loved her!

I have learned how to facetime on my new ipad so now I can talk with my daughter

I have lovely new space to live in

The business is booming

Life is good and I am forever grateful

So who ever is watching over me a big Thank you daily I will say to you

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New Look V W Beetle



car and louis miguel 001



It only took 9 months to have my car repainted… quite a long story but I won’t go into that now… I will however say that I eventually took it out of the hands for one painter and passed for another…. Sad thing is that when it arrived at the 2nd painter there were lots of parts missing….lights, indoor door covers,windscreen wipers and the list goes on .

But I am happy I have it now…. If anyone can remember how it looked before…. then you will know why it needed repainting… I decided to change the colour from white and have something …. well I guess you can say a little more showy.

Apart from new paint I also had all the interior upholstered now if only I could get the other things to work… like the seat moving backwards a little. After driving my V W cross fox… pumpkin is her name.


Pumpkin 1


… jumping back into the Beetle I cannot believe how I had driven miles in it AND carried cement,toilet sets,tiles,electrical,foodstuffs and lots more. But now it will be used to rent for the tourists that would just like to have a ride in her or for those that come without a car and want to see the Ruta Puuc.


Pumpkin 2


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