Tuesday, June 23, 2009

March 4, 2008

Hola everyone! Here's another update whether you want it or not!

We last emailed you from Tulum in mid-January. We're still floating around the east coast of the Yucatan peninsula, in Mexico's state of Quintana Roo, the major towns of which are Cancun and Chetumal. Our daily grind is coffee/breakfast, swimming, lounging, exploring, eating, sleeping, etc. Two unusual circumstances have superimposed themselves upon this routine: a mystery tropical illness in Steve's gut, and Ginny's sister's delivery of Steve's accordion, which included a scouting trip to Belize.

1) Steve's Mystery Illness:
In late January we were staying at our public beach in Tulum. Steve decided to make a fire and test out our new grill set-up consisting of a rusty grill and a couple of tentpoles we scrounged. The entree: a delicious (in Steve's opinion, not in vegetarian Ginny's) fish. We drove into town to find a massive political rally going on and almost everything closed, including the pescaderia (fish store). Fortunately some fishermen were lurking in the alley, one of whom was eager to sell a barracuda he had hanging off the fence in a black plastic bag. Steve jumped at the chance at the scary and sometimes poisonous barracuda. (They say that when the fish is caught some organ must be pulled out and chewed raw to determine by the taste whether the fish is safe to eat.)

With half a barracuda proudly swinging from Steve's hand we returned to camp, Ginny expressing concern about the possible poison and Steve insisting that "sometimes you just have to trust people." So the fish was fried and eaten over two days, with some but not necessarily enough ice in the meantime. The second night Steve became very sick, even fainting once. In the morning we went to a hospital where Steve consulted a doctor while Ginny was beset up by a very drunk, bloody, and friendly man. The doctor prescribed this and that. (Here Ginny wants to insert false information regarding bleeding eyeballs but Steve insists that this be omitted.)

We took a flea-infested room in Felipe Carrillo Puerto in celebration of Steve's illness and Ginny's anniversary of birth. Steve got better, then worse again. We went to Chetumal and parked the truck in the front yard of an alcoholic named Victor to whom we had given a ride a few days prior. His kind neighbor, a doctor, suggested blood and stool tests (which indicated Salmonella poisoning), prescribed more medications, and warned us to leave Victor's house because his drug-addict brothers would soon relieve us of our few but precious belongings. These medications didn't cure Steve either, but we subsequently went to a vastly more expensive doctor in Cancun, and Steve now suspects himself cured.

2) The Amazing Accordion Courier:
After months of longing for his accordion, Steve decided he could live without it no longer. Despite the severe space crunch in our Isuzu pickup he requested the services of Ginny's sister, Carley, a world-reknowned accordion courier :). What luck, she was available! On February 11th she arrived, accordion in hand.

Carley stayed until the 20th, sharing in many delightful adventures. We took her to our Cancun home of MecoLoco (a trailer park amongst Mayan ruins) and introduced her to the friends we could track down in our one day there, including our old friend Javier and a couple who are rescuing sickly stray dogs, bringing them back to health, and arranging international adoptions for them. (Let us know if you need a dog!) To fill out her ten days with us we all went to Tulum, Felipe Carrillo Puerto, and beautiful Lake Bacalar where we took a three-wheeled bike for a joyride, justifying our nickname: Los Tres Bandidos. We then entered Belize!

Belize is so amazing that, as Carley says, "Even the garbage looks like butterflies!" In fact, we could only stay four days without spontaneously combusting. It gained its independence only in 1981 and seems to be a very new and hopeful country. The wonderful people are an unlikely mixture of Africans, Mayans, Chinese, Hindus, Europeans, and (best of all!) Mennonites! They speak English, Spanish, Chinese, German, and various Creoles. All these disparate peoples seem to tolerate and even like each other! Finally, a place in the world for Los Tres Bandidos!

In Belize Los Bandidos visited a Baboon (actually howler-monkey) Sanctuary on the Belize River and made friends with the proprietor, a 24-year-old guy named Shane whose job is to hang out with his monkey friends and show them to people for a small fee. The Bandidos swam in the river after being assured the crocodiles stay away from the swimming hole due to a distaste for people. Then we went to the town of San Ignacio, in the hills, where the bandidos foolishly hoped it would be cooler. It is an endearing and surprisingly touristy town in western Belize. It is the start of the Ruta Maya, a canoe race that we've considered participating in. The bandidos stayed there two days, exploring a 1,600-foot waterfall and a cave with a river flowing through it. The ancient Mayans considered the cave to be the passageway to Hell and sacrificed mainly children there. After San Ignacio we zipped Carley back to the Cancun airport, packing in as many mini adventures as we could along the way.

We've been so unsuccessful at leaving Quintana Roo we've decided to give in and spend some time on the island of Cozumel, famous for its excellent diving. We write this from the upstairs apartment of our new Cozumeleno friend, Pepe, a very peppy and hospitable soul who sells puppets and other trinkets to the thousands of cruise-ship tourists that pass through every day.

Such are our latest adventures, best told in our captioned pictures, the last 80 of which are new (you can click on the first new one- "diving instructions..." to see the larger image, then use your right and left buttons to flip through the pictures). They may be found at:http://picasaweb.google.com/ginnygoon/MexicoTrip, (We have also uploaded a video of a magical plant which apparently lives only in the Baboon Sanctuary here:http://s233.photobucket.com/albums/ee87/ginnygoon/ ?action=view&current=magicplantcloseup.flv )


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