December 31, 2010

Facebook neurologist

Dr. Jose Yupit is a Facebook friend. He was my neurologist nearly three years ago when Dr. Salas admitted me to Galenia Hospital in Cancun for a suspected exacerbation of multiple sclerosis. He also is certified in Internal Medicine. So he was the man my surgeon, Dr. Jose Manuel Mendoza, wanted to do a work up on me. And he sure did! Best physical I've had in a decade!
I did not mention any of the aches and pains and annoyances I am having. He diagnosed a sinus infection and inflamed kidney the old fashioned way, without scans or specific X-rays. And I have had flank pain and an annoying post nasal drip which he discovered by poking and looking. So...
He has given the go ahead for the surgery, with the stipulation that the anesthesia be "regional" and not general. That translates to an epidural spinal block under sedation. He thinks this will be less of a shock to my nervous system, more kind to the dopamine receptors. So I will see the surgeon, Dr. Jose Manuel Mendoza, again on Monday and will will discuss the prices at the various facilities he uses. I talked to Mendoza a bit last nighton the phone, so I know what we will talk about.
From the 70 dollar x-rays and 100 dollar lab work, to the 35 dollar EKG, it has been a pleasure. I paid Dr. Yupit 90 dollars for his thorough work up and written report to Dr. Mendoza. I would have spend more on my Medicare co-pay in the US. It is reassuring to know my ticker is fine and what my dosing for Avonex (beta interfeon 1a) the MS drug should be before and after surgery. No one at the Cleveland Clinic paid attention to that detail for the last two procedures I had there.
It is also reassuring that Dr. Yupit has not entered the pages of Facebook for two months. Facebook friends know that kind of detail about each other. "I mean to, but I get too busy,
he says.
And another Facebook friend, Tammi Lewis, returns from Sandusky in time for the New Year with three months of that MS drug. Life is good here in Mexico.

December 26, 2010

Forgiven: Dance Partner

It had been a while since Punta saw her dance partner. He begged her forgiveness.
And so they made up. Sergio, a native of Chile, had been moved to dance with Punta seeing the story of Carrie, a Chilean golden retriever on You Tube.
So Christmas was good to Punta and she once again had a dance partner. Feliz Navidad! Oh, they are still not ready for prime time!

December 24, 2010

Police presents

Near the Christmas donkey ride in the park, next to the new mini-soccer stadium for the 4-8 year olds, next to the new gazebo, will be the new police mini station in La Gloria. I caught it on cell phone as workers topping were it off yesterday. Feliz Navidad, a la policia!

December 21, 2010

Running on Empty - cranberry sauce

So you're about to do it again: Cook a bird and then, last minute, open a can of cranberry sauce. Of course, you could cook berries and making 'em poppin' good. But really, now, you know yourself! Or maybe you know me. And this is what I did today, even though I am picking up a turkey dinner At Vivian's Qubano on Saturday.
I saw kumquats, really sour ones, at what we shall call LoLo's Mestiza: A woman not of pure Maya extraction from a Maya village that sells fresh fruits and veggies on a corner near LoLo's place. My Mestizas didn't have them; they had kohlrabi, but that's another story.
So, I took about 8 of the kumquats, and cut them in half and removed the seeds, Then I quarter ed the halves and put them in a pan with a good bit of sugar and about 5 minced garlic cloves. And boiled! I had also put some celery tops in there, to soon be fished out.
When they seemed done, I added a can of Ocean Spray cranberry sauce and cooked it all up. It's done when the colors blend.
THEN, add some deveined and diced celery. I added three stalks. And about a half a jicama, sliced, julienned and then finely diced. A teaspoon of nutmeg. Stir is all up and refrigerate.
Cranberry sauce never tastes as good as does a cranberry relish! Are you really just going to open a can of sauce now that you know?

December 18, 2010

Merry Christmas!

May all your Christmas Dreams come true!

December 14, 2010

A torment of noise

What was all the brouhaha about in Centro yesterday? Here's a little back ground. The mayor (presidenta Alicia Ricalde) entered into an agreement with the bus company to put combi vans on the streets. Since the bus never got enough riders to fill a van, the cabbies see this as the mayor chasing after a way to put then out of business while rewarding an inefficient private operator.
They had just re elected their leader and the company had just put its combis on the street. Only one thing left to do. Turn it over. Then, the gendarmes were called in. The police batons were like the drum beat for what unfolded.
The issue is about the mouths that are fed by cab fares. Based on ridership habits, it is hard to imagine islanders herding toward the vans. They might feel different if their own drivers were behind the wheel. This excellent montage of the day's events: Click - Courtesy TV Isla Mujeres.

December 13, 2010

Ghetto furnace

I have fired up the stove in an effort to bring some warmth into the house. It's going to get a degree or so below 50 degrees Fahrenheit tonight.
When I was a reporter, I covered too many tragic deaths - by carbon monoxide poisoning or fires caused by people whose heat had been shut off trying to keep warm . In the case of public housing projects, heating systems all too often are in shambles and not repaired.
And people in that situation tried to use stove tops and ovens to keep warm. Hence the term, ghetto furnace, for trying to get warm in a cold spell.
Since we don't have heating systems in paradise, this nor'easter is a long term job. So I can't just cook a little something and expect to get the place truly warm. No, this is a job for DOG FOOD!
In a dutch oven, cook black beans to start. They take a long time and in cold weather, soaking isn't needed. Just cook them in a lot of water to start. Put in several cloves of garlic. Dogs like garlic and it is a natural tick repellent. If this were mosquito season, I might make some human food with a lot of garlic!
I also cut up a six ounce pack of hot dogs, aka vienna sausages, sliced thin. Boy, it's really starting to smell good. I figure they can cook forever and maybe therefore will fall apart.
At this point, I add some more water and start looking for veggies. A vacuum box of mixed veggies is good.
And it cooks some more, providing some warmth and making Punta go antsy in anticipation. She knows one of her food batches when she smells it.
I had been a little preoccupied, so I hadn't make this in a couple weeks. There was the half can of pork dog food in pork and rice gravy from this morning. So I threw that in.
And now, when it looks about a half hour from done, add rice and water. Hmm, there's five-day old potato/chicken salad, too! Toward the end, a couple whole eggs, crushed in their shells. A protein rich stew!
What more? Oh, with all that flavor going on, a little sweet nutrition never hurts:
There's left over sweet potatoes from November still...Punta's gonna love this. And the air is warmer and more humid for creating a ghetto furnace with an actual supervised cooking pot on top of it.

December 12, 2010


It's officially finished, but workers were polishing the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church "El Sagrado Corazón de Jesús" on Sunday, the Feast Day of the Virgen of Guadalupe. It's two short blocks from Zina's Guest House.

December 9, 2010

Backside of "Jesus"

Workers are crawling all over the rear of "El Sagrado Corazón de Jesús" (Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church) to be dedicated Christmas Eve in La Gloria, just a couple blocks from my house. A couple blocks in another direction, a gazebo is being finished in the park. A sculpture of the Virgin Mother and Baby Jesus is already installed in the park. It's beginning to look a lot like December, here in La Gloria!
At the SuperXpress the other night, just before closing time, two cashiers in elves hats begged Diane and me to buy Hershey cookies in chocolate. Two bags for only 10 pesos. They went on and on! Well, I asked the fatal question, and yes it was true, they get a commission on each two they sell! It's Christmas on the island for sure! So, we bought. as my Tweets yesterday hinted.

December 6, 2010

Hearing aids trauma

There is a liquidator in South Dakota that has one pair of Widex Senso Diva estate hearing aids that are identical to the pair of which I lost one. No, he's not budging from the $1500 asking price! His client's estate paid more than double that. Of course, that was three years ago!
So, I have been playing with others and truthfully, the ear piece variety is not so great here. The shape of my ears, "curvy" is how the audiologist described them, make the piece fit tight and gives me an earache after a time.
So I have been carefully looking at eBay sales. And researching. I like this approach, cheaper yet on eBay. The little ear bud, retractable by the wire, is the kind Bev Caldarelli had just gotten when I was in Malvern. So...stay tuned. Bidding ends tomorrow! Boomers, listen up. You are going to need them soon, too!
And the spare I'll have...goes to Blackie, my Mexican neighbor and sport fisherman guide. He was helped by the cheapie one I brought back in October, just to see if he could ever hear again after not hearing from the left ear for 20 years after a lobster dive near Contoy Island. We'll help him get it calibrated with a new ear mold in Cancun.

December 1, 2010

Taxi cab questions

Tourists are planning their trips to the island and asking how much to pay a cab. Someone suggested yesterday that to go to the Villa Vera area from Centro, you should just give the cabbie 15 pesos when you get there and get out of the cab!
Let me suggest that if you cannot afford 20 pesos, the tourist rate, you might consider a stay-cation. I mean, that's $1.50 for a cab for you and your honey to get out of the chaotic reconstruction of the main drag in Centro!
The recession, a decline in tourism, the rise in gasoline prices and related cost of living increases, has made this a difficult time for the cab drivers.
Many have left the island. Owners of the cars and union licenses, have gone from 12 hour shifts in which they collected 200 pesos, to 16 hour shift in which they are charging the drivers 300 pesos. It is hard with the population being as it is, underemployed, to collect the rental and gasoline money!
So, the first $25US collected, goes to the cab owner. I, as a local, don't feel in the least put out, to pay 100 pesos to someone who takes me into town, gets me past the construction, waits while I hop into the Seven-11 for the ATM, and takes me home. That would be $7.50 in US terms.
Yes, I have a reputation of being thrifty amongst my friends and detractors as well. But I am a reasonable person. I don't know how or why these cabbies continue to drive. But some do and we are lucky to have them.
So, if you are going to, say, La Gloria, from Centro, consider 20 pesos to be a fare rate, and a more just one. You are arriving during a deep recession in Mexico, one with inflation like you have not seen oversees, with gasoline prices higher than in the US, and people with families to feed and electric bills, unlike anything seen virtually anywhere else in the world, facing the drivers. And yes, the rest of us here as well.

Construction on Isla Mujeres

The bad news spread like wildfire yesterday. The reconstruction of our " front street," Avenida Medina, was out of money less than a quarter of the way through. Six weeks ago, I heard the same thing about the new hospital and church in La Gloria. That was the subject of another blogger, but as soon as I came back from my late October trip to Ohio, I took a picture of the church, intending to blog about it myself. Then I asked a couple locals if they thought the projects would be done by the end of the years, as officials had promised.
"No problema," they answered. Really?
It hardly seemed doable and since I was on a blog block, I didn't rush to blog about it. Then, Ric and Christina came for two weeks and watched from the rooftop. As they got ready to check out last weekend, they noted that the view from the top suggested the church was nearly finished.
Hey, so does the street view!
Located on the corner across from the Bead Ladies Taller, "El Sagrado Corazón de Jesús" church, The Sacred Heart of Jesús, is now getting finishing touches. It will seat more people than the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Centro, where the celebration of the feast days began last night.
The Sacred Heart of Jesus also has additional space for meetings and classes. Work has slowly been going on inside the hospital too, and outside, where and ambulance dock ramps have been added. Never underestimate the construction possible when the municipal president and president of the republic of Mexico are of the same party!