Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Year's Resolutions

Resolving to do something (anything) as part of some silly New Year's Eve proclamation of intent has never worked for me. It's not that I don't get things done. It's that making unrealistic promises to myself, such as "I'm getting off sugar"just sets me up for failure. I'm NOT giving up sugar. I will honestly try to reduce my consumption, but there's simply no way I'm giving up chocolate. At this stage of life, I'm not going to deprive myself of such little pleasures even if it shaves a few days or months off my lifespan. I mean, isn't dark chocolate healthy? Like red wine?

However, there are some things I (we) need to get done in the coming year. So, I resolve to make the best attempt that I (we) can to:
  • Starting one room at a time, go through every closet and drawer, emptying and boxing all but non-essential items.
  • Have a huge yard sale to try and make a few bucks off another man's treasure.
  • Anything not sold goes to Good Will.
  • This is a BIG one - sell a condo that we own, even if it means taking a hit. Like everywhere, prices have gone down -WAY down. 
  • Plan for an estate sale when we have a firm date for moving to Mérida. We have a few nice antique pieces that someone else can enjoy for years to come. Upholstered furniture (thanks to los dos perros y el gato) will probably go to Good Will, unless someone wants to go to the expense of re-upholstering or slipcovering. It's good stuff, just worn.
  • Pray - every day - that the Tampa to Progreso ferry becomes a reality in 2012.
  • Complete the photography course (so far, I've finished 3 of 12 modules with fairly good success)
  • Work diligently on Español                  

Friday, December 16, 2011

New York Times - 36 Hours in Mérida

Pastel mansion
photo with point & shoot Jan 2011

Elisabeth Malkin spent 36 hours in Mérida and managed to pack quite a bit into her brief visit to our city. The 3/4-page article appeared in the December 4th issue of The New York Times. One has to agree that such a prominent spread in the Times is not to be taken lightly. Three colorful photos at the top of the page include a table full of food at Chaya Maya, a folk dance presentation, and a group of people bicycling on the Paseo de Montejo. She describes Mérida as "a languid city of pastel mansions and evening promenades"and states that "the city, now one of the safest in Mexico, is an architectural jewel."

I couldn't agree more. In fact, it has been said that Mérida is THE safest city in Mexico.
Will a feature article in the Times generate increased tourism? Let's hope so. Tourist dollars are good for Mérida and for Mexico. Narco violence has taken a toll on the tourism industry and without help from sources like Nancy's blog The Truth About Mexico  (Mazatlán) and videos like the one below, Mexico will continue to suffer. I found this video on You-Tube and it had only 118 views. Feel free to help spread the message.

Monday, December 12, 2011

My first "submitted photo"

The first module of my photography course consisted of ten photo-shoot scenarios, in which I had to pick from a list of  photography equipment, lenses, etc., and defend my choices. The second module assignment was more technical. I actually had to use my camera for four exercises, all on manual mode, that included various aperture, shutter speed, and ISO settings. I then had to describe the changes observed in each photo as the settings were changed. I spent almost an entire day working on this assignment, which also included a photograph of an "object" from around the house. It was to be simple, yet artistic. My first try was a shot of an interesting bottle of men's cologne sitting on top of the toilet tank, along with a small burning candle. I suppose the title would have been "toilet water." Not good. I then thought of shooting a scene that appeared to be black and white but was actually shot in color. Below is my submission.

Espresso with slice of lemon and morning paper

My tutors comment: "Very cool, looks like a shot from some old 40's detective movie." I can't say that was the intention, but hey, I'll accept his observation. I suppose the headline about gunfire prompted his association with a detective movie. I was thinking more along the lines of contradiction - something as innocent and relaxing as an espresso alongside the harsh reality of the morning's headline.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Catedral de San Ildefonso makes it on "The Dish"

While browsing one of my favorite political blogs from the past (I say past because I no longer have much interest in US politics),  I was surprised to see a photo of the cathedral in "The View From Your Window" feature of Andrew Sullivan's blog, The Dish.  Scroll down the page on the link for December 3 and you will see the photo. There is an ongoing contest to see which photos are published and eventually make it to a nice coffee table photo book.

There's something a little strange about the photo. Can you see anything unusual? I'm a little curious to know who might have submitted the photo. Could it possibly be that Governor Ivonne Ortega Pacheco snapped the shot from the balcony of the Palacio del Gobierno? After all, it would be the view from HER window.  It's doubtful, with her tremendous responsibilities, that she would have the time for such trivialities.  I've been tempted to submit something from Mérida but now someone has beat me to it. Congratulations to the anonymous submitter.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Doña Tere's, coffee beans, viveros & random photos

Just more of my random shots

One of the nice things about meeting new friends in Mérida, especially those who have lived here for a while, is that you learn about some really good places to shop or eat that are off the beaten path and that would take some time to discover on your own. One such place is Doña Tere's, a favorite Santa Ana cocina economica, which has been featured in Yucatan Living. Besides the fact that we can walk out our front door and be there in less than two minutes, the food really is quite good - simple, yet flavorful, home-cooking. Just order from the blackboard, grab a cold soda or bottle of water from the fridge, and you are quickly served a bowl of black bean soup, the entree (usually chicken or pork), a serving of rice, several slices of fresh lime and pepper and a bowl of warm tortillas. All for about 25-35 pesos, depending on whether you order the half serving or the whole serving. I ordered the half serving on two occasions and walked away completely satisfied. Try to get there before 2:00PM as this is a favorite eating spot for students and albañiles working in the area.

Another great find was a shop- in Itzimná I believe- that sells fresh roasted coffee beans from Chiapas.  It is imperative to be able to find good coffee, because it is doubtful that we will be able to get shipments from Nespresso to Mexico.  Plus, we should be supporting the Mexican economy now that this will be our new home. I don't have the exact address but will be happy to find it if anyone is interested.

Ruben accompanied me to a couple of viveros (nurseries) where I purchased some new plants for the garden. Both were just a short drive from the Centro and the prices were considerably cheaper than similar size containers in the US.  Now I just have to learn which plants are not targets of the infamous leaf-cutter ants.