Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Hola from Progreso, Mexico

"You're going where, for how long??" Pepper is not amused by our plans to escape some of New Brunswick's winter. We are heading to Progreso on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico for two months.

Clearly, he thinks we won't have enough to do while we're gone, so he made sure we have a toy to bring with us. I'll miss the fur babies a lot, but I know they'll be well looked after.

We left Fredericton on January 16. Not much snow in sight here...

A little bit more here...look at the long straight trail of the power lines.

I think this is the St. Lawrence River, but won't testify to that.

Flying into Toronto for an overnight stay. Not much snow here. You can see the CN Tower in the distance...

And it was a smooth and easy trip to Merida, Mexico, the capital of the state of Yucatan. Merida is called the "White City" and I guess this might be why. We look forward to exploring it once we get settled.

The airport in Merida is about 30 minutes from Progreso. We were met by Leticia and her husband who have been handling the details of our rental on behalf of their neighbour. Leti speaks excellent English having gone to Chicago for a year when she was 16 on an exchange program.

Welcome to Progreso!

Not a great view of the house, which is called Cachorros, meaning "puppies" in Spanish. That is somewhat fitting as there are dogs (strays and pets) everywhere.

Jim checking out the kitchen...

Nice, bright living room...

And the lovely patio and pool area where we have been spending most of our time...

We soon discovered that there is a kite boarding school nearby and have enjoyed many windy days watching the kite boarders fly through the waves and the air!

Progreso is a port of call for Carnival cruises, so this has become a familiar sight every couple of days. The town is very busy on these days, and it's a good day to stay away.

At Barb's friend's (Lynne's) suggestion, we headed to the nearby town of Chicxulub to visit the local market. The market is held every two weeks and it's mostly frequented by Americans and Canadians. This made buying stuff a lot easier. Our first day at the grocery store was trying, when we were tired and confused by the language.

We will definitely be going back to this market. We bought honey, fresh veggies, bread, and fish. Next time, sausages which Lynne bought. They were excellent.

One grocery store find...Strongbow! That price is in pesos. 15 pesos = $1 Canadian. Strongbow for $1?? Count me in...and then count me out. No original dry Strongbow. I tried two different kinds but they were pretty sweet.

Hola! My first walk on the beach. Each day it increased as I discovered more things and got more comfortable with our surroundings.

The area where the kite boarders meet...

Although not noticeable here, the road along the beach is littered with...litter. It's really sad and was quite a bit of a turn-off in the first few days. People just leave bags of garbage or diapers or anything. That combined with bugs in a less-than-clean house, limited water and a few other minor things didn't make for a "love at first sight" experience.

Some of the houses along the beach are lovely. Many residents live in Merida and come to the beach in the summer to escape the city heat. During the winter months, they rent to tourists.

Our back gate with the red arrow...

We have lots of space and the covered area has been really nice on the 30+ degree days.

Our usual partners in crime, Barb and Ed; it was their idea to come here. Much as we all love Savannah, it was just too cold the last year we were there.

The sun sets very early and it sets quickly. By 6:15 p.m., it's dark.

 We've seen not only kite boarders, but this contraption as well...

Jim reminds me of a little boy wanting to go outside to play. He loves to observe...

See that long, long pier in the background? The Progreso Pier is the world's longest at 6.5 km. Because the waters around Progreso are shallow, it was built to allow large container and cruise ships to dock further out.

My discovery one morning, as the length of my walks grew, is that there is a boardwalk (or malecon) about 20 minutes from our house. How pretty! It takes you right into town.

There is graffiti everywhere, but some of it is beautiful.

I left the malecon once I reached the pier and ended up in front of this building. I wasn't really sure where I was so I took a photo as I noticed it had the address on it. I retraced my steps and looked it up once I got home to get my bearings. Some of the streets are pretty sketchy, so I've been mostly keeping to the beach.

Time to have some friends over...

Barb and Ed, of course...

And their friends, Lynne and George, and George's sister Mary and her husband, John, who were visiting from Arkansas. It was a lovely evening with old friends and new friends!

It's hard to tell if these boats are abandoned or still being used for fishing...

My walk has now extended to the pier and beyond...

A pedestrian pier on one side and the pier for vehicles on the other. The only vehicles allowed are those that have business at the wharf. No tourists here.

And if you go under the pier, you pop out on the main malecon and the public beach. This statue is of Juan Miguel Castro, who was instrumental in the development of the port of Progreso.

Many of the shops do not open until later in the day and some only on cruise ship days.

The malecon is a popular area for tourists, as well as for locals and families. Pigeon feeding is an amusement everywhere in the world!

This is the town square in Progreso with the municipal offices built in 1885.

I love these little chatting chairs!

Also located in the square is a taxi stand. We've been trying to figure out how we can work the zero tolerance for drinking and driving in Progreso with the fact that we're 3 km from town and most likely would want a drink at dinner. Barb and Ed hopped out to see if they could find an English speaking taxi driver who can be our designated driver while we're here. Success! They met Ramon who has given them his phone number and now we're in business.

Luis is a local fish seller who appears at our back gate every few days. We bought some shrimp and they were delicious!

Jim is out and about and doing his own leisurely walks on the beach. He feels no need or desire to come with me on my "route marches" as he describes them.

Even though I've taken to doing pretty much the same walk each day, the scenery is always different. These pelicans have taken over this boat!

I noticed this lighthouse from afar and made it my mission one morning to find it. It's actually several blocks back from the water. What kind of lighthouse is that?! It was built between 1885 and 1891 and is 120 feet high. Probably it was nearer the water then.

It was time to put Ramon, our taxi driver, to the test. He was on Mexican time so arriving punctually wasn't his thing, but he did arrive. Ah yes, my once-a-trip (at least!) photo of Ed somehow getting shanghaied into holding Barb's purse. He is even colour coordinated!

Our destination was Eladio's Bar on the malecon. We had been here for most of a week and still hadn't had a margarita. That wouldn't do! This is a popular restaurant with tourists and locals.

It's also big...and has entertainment from 3:00 until 6:00 pm, which was really, really loud. We could hardly talk to each other.

Once the entertainment ended, the margaritas and tapas took over. That was one yummy margarita and lots of free tapas with an order of drinks. We weren't sure what we were eating, and some of it we liked better than others, but we enjoyed the sampling.

It was a lovely evening to sit with friends and enjoy the surroundings...

Sister wives with a little margarita glow...

The guys were looking pretty glowy was well...

All of a sudden this adorable boy pops up from somewhere and the next thing we knew we were buying bracelets. He knew just enough English to make a sale and was totally adorable. The price? My bracelet was 40 pesos (less than $3) but for me, that night, a was 30 pesos ($2). Oh gosh, who's going to bargain with him? Here you go...take 40. Barb was buying a bunch of bracelets to take home, but I'm not sure we ever got around to bargaining. He was just so cute.

My purchase...good memories!

I love this photo so much. We had such a great evening...look forward to going back and also trying some other places.

Hmmm...we got home and found a cucaracha in the kitchen. Jim to the rescue! The house is much cleaner after we had Jose in to clean and there has been a noticeable reduction in bugs. We are still dealing with limited hot water, but that's highly overrated, right?

Saturday morning turned out to be clean up the beach day. I was so happy to see this. There is so, so much garbage.

There are stray dogs everywhere in Progreso. I've taken to putting dog biscuits in my bag for my morning walk. They won't eat them in front of  you, but I've noticed they are gone when I return. There are many, many dogs living under the pier but I've also glimpsed a guy who appears to be living under there as well. People seem to look after the dogs as best they can.

The malecon on a Saturday morning. Vendors were starting to set up kiosks along the beach...

Sunday morning was Ed's birthday and we woke up to this. Actually in the middle of the night we woke up to rain coming in the bedroom door. What a blustery day!

The kite boarders were loving it. This guy took quite a hard landing but popped back up and carried on. Brave!

Dinner for Ed's birthday was at Crabster. It's a good restaurant and they're big on presentation. My order of coconut shrimp. I really wanted that coconut and made several somewhat successful attempts to get some of the meat out.

I've hardly walked along the beach itself. Instead I walk along the beach road. The beach is covered with tons of smelly seaweed and a lot of garbage.

But there are still treasures to find like these beautiful perfect shells...

Or a broken's sad really. I'm getting more accustomed to it but it's hard to comprehend.

Now this could be a beautiful house, but I can't tell if it's been abandoned or is being built. You see a lot of that.

Many, many dogs...the pets are usually distinguished from strays by the fact that they're wearing a collar.

The walk to the pier is 3 km one way and I've been trying to do that most mornings. Everyone is very friendly and you are often met with a smile and a "buenos dias!"

The fisherman at work...

A beautiful house close to the pier...

And a beautiful bougainvillea that I've been admiring every time we go by.

We've been here for two weeks and we're now settling in well. Bugs, tepid water, garbage...all part of a different culture. We've both said in the last couple of days "this place is growing on me!"

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