Quarantini – Surviving a Pandemic On the Road

We were in Cancun, Mexico, when we, like the rest of the world, were ordered to stay en la casa (indoors).

At first, we thought, “Wow!  What a great opportunity to be productive!” We envisioned  John snapping and crafting perfect National Geographic photos, while I was writing the great American novel and drawing a flawless comic strip worthy of syndication. We, like the rest of the world, thought that the pandemic would last only a few weeks and welcomed the short-lived quarantine conditions that would make us be disciplined and time management ninjas. Wishful thinking, huh?

Falling for Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres (Island of Women) is one of the best kept secrets on the Mexican Riviera. It is a wonderful little island just a few miles off the coast of Cancun. If you are looking to relax in a hammock on the beach or by a pool, it has a vast selection of picturesque hotels and resorts to make it happen. If you are looking for adventure, the diving and snorkeling is superb. If entertainment is your pleasure, the Isla night life is electrifying…you won’t be bored.

Por Favor, Señor Postman

John and I have an irrecoverable case of wanderlust. And frankly, we are kind of glad we do.

Last week, in Mexico City, the affliction led us to the most beautiful building that we have ever seen, ever! And, get this, it was a POST OFFICE!

We were looking for the Palacio de Bellas Artes (which was right around the corner, we just hadn’t gone far enough yet). I was a little put out with John, because his directions weren’t working so well. We needed a shady place to fully see Google Maps on our phones, so I ducked into the first big building that had open doors. I almost dropped my phone when I took a look at the place. I couldn’t move. I was mesmerized. Forget directions!

A few seconds later John found me and as he glanced up from his phone, he too was paralyzed and struck speechless.

We stood there for a while like two yokel gringos, then I spoke up, “I think we just warped into a Harry Potter book or something. We are definitely not in Texas anymore. What is this place?”

This is what addled us and made the term “eye candy” seem like an opulent 10-course meal. If you tell me that these images don’t absolutely WOW you, you’re blind. 

Walking the Talk

We can spot tourists a mile away. The Barefoot Diary definition of a tourist is not quite so tame as Webster’s cited above. Come on, you know what I’m talking about. Tourists are those people, clad in flowery shirts and big hats, cameras in hand, that wander around the world in flocks taking selfies, slowing down and meandering against the flow of foot traffic, spilling food and drinks because they can’t keep up, while exclaiming loudly, “Wow! Will you look at that…we’re not in Kansas any more!” In fact, nowadays it’s not a good idea to even look like a tourist. Not only are they a nuisance, but they are often the targets of pickpockets and petty thieves.

Phooey! We never, ever want to be labeled as tourists. EVER! This is why no matter how lost we are, we always try to “look” like we know where we are going. It’s why I don a carefully concealed fanny pack (that John hates) rather than a purse or back pack. It’s why we generally never run with “herds” of people and never do guided tours. We consider ourselves, uh, sophisticated travelers…globetrotters…experience creators…adventure junkies…anything but tourists!

Painting the Town

We love art. 

In fact, prior to leaving the United States we had started a collection of some pretty incredible pieces. So it makes sense that we are “in love” with San Miguel because it is an artist’s mecca. In fact, here, you don’t even have to venture inside galleries to see amazing artwork…all you have to do is walk down the street!

Because of the efforts of an innovative woman named Colleen Sorensen, the colonia Guadalupe area of the city is an imaginative world of colorful expression that makes you go, “WOW!” But it wasn’t always like that. In fact, prior to 2013, street art was not permitted anywhere in San Miguel. 

When Colleen moved to San Miguel from Texas (a lot of great things and people come from Texas…wink!) she created the Muros en Blanco project and championed the very first Street Art Mural Festival. During this event artists got together for three days to create a little magic on the streets of the city. 

Holy, Holy, Holy

One of the coolest things about our travel lifestyle is getting to experience the holiday traditions of the countries we visit. We’ve been fortunate to celebrate two “biggies” (Christmas and Easter) here in San Miguel. After strolling through San Miguel’s streets, parks and colonnades adorned with poinsettias and ornate Christmas decorations, I figured that Easter was going to be something spectacular. Believe me, it was over the top. Way more than anything either one of us have ever seen or experienced. 

Mexican Mask-erade

Many of you know that I used to be in the theatre. I acted, did radio/voice-over work, directed and taught theatre for many moons in a previous life. In fact, I go all “apey” when an artist “becomes” someone or something else and then performs in the new façade. When a person puts on a mask, a miracle occurs. The wearer enters a new world where fantasies, rituals and dreams come to life. To me, whether it’s an actor on a stage or a masked performer at a religious festival, it’s the ultimate creative expression. Right up there with cartooning and karaoke singing! I love it.

So when our new house sitting friends, Sandy and Rob (BritsHousesitting.com), invited us to accompany them to the San Miguel Mask Museum, I was thrilled. Another house sitting couple, dear friends from our Xcalak sit, Manuel and Xochitl (www.wanderingfolks.com), just happened to be passing through San Miguel at that time and joined us for breakfast and then the tour. 

Great food, great friends and, of course, touring a magical place that honors my very favorite artistic expression…well, it doesn’t get much better! We had a blast.

Plastic Madness

We rarely rant and rave about issues that are pet peeves, irk us, or even send us into orbit. Don’t get me wrong, we have very definite opinions about things that are going on nowadays, but we tend to keep our mouths shut. We’re not Tweeters, and you’ll never see an emotionally charged political or religious rant or rave from us on any of the social media platforms. 

How I Became a Polyglot…Lost in Translation

One of the coolest things my mother did for her children, as we were growing up, was to make our birthdays an extravaganza celebration. Our special day always had a theme with hand-made invitations, costumes and decorations. My brother, Dub, has a birthday in October, so his parties centered around cool weather things. One year he had a Football Party and we welcomed the star quarterback of the local high school team as the celebrity guest. Another year his party had a TV Heroes theme, and everyone dressed as their favorite TV idol. I was Morticia Addams and Dub was Napoleon Solo, the Man from U.N.C.L.E. 

My birthday is the end of August so we had all summer to make plans. Where most little girls had pajama parties or celebrated Barbie along with their birthday, I had super events that included a Hawaiian Luau and a Mexican Fiesta. 

For my 9th birthday we had the crème de a crème of all parties, with a United Nations theme. It was the rage of the neighborhood, because everyone dressed as a delegates from a different countries. We tie-dyed an old sheet and I draped it around myself, Super-glued a fake jewel to the center of my forehead and became the delegate from India. Dub represented Mexico, touting a sombrero, serape and a moustache, drawn on with an eyebrow pencil. I was a ravishing Rani, and Dub was one cool hombre. 

The Finer Points of Poinsettias

My mother had a brown thumb. She was very talented at things like typing (90 wpm!), speaking perfect conversational Spanish, and throwing one heck of a party. But gardening was just not her thing. In fact, one year for her birthday my brother Dub and I chipped in and bought her a book entitled, Plants You Can’t Kill. Of course, being a super mom and a very gracious lady, she opened the package and exclaimed, “Awww, thank you so much. It’s exactly what I wanted!” Yeah, right.

But as soon as Thanksgiving was over each year, for my mom, a botanical miracle occurred. While Daddy was climbing into the attic to pull down ornaments, snowmen, nativity scenes and Santas, Mama was as the local garden nursery buying poinsettias. She loved them and believe it or not, amazingly, both of her thumbs turned green as she managed to keep them all alive throughout the holidays. We always had a gazillion of them placed strategically around the house in shiny foil-covered buckets. And that wasn’t all. We had poinsettia tablecloths, glasses, decorations for the tree, plates and even bath towels. One year she hit pay dirt and came home from the A&P grocery store with poinsettia toilet paper. While most people complain that their family trees have a few nuts, or lemons, or even bad apples, ours was no different, with the exception that every December each crazy branch was smothered in poinsettia leaves.