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Amy F. Quincy Author/Freelance Writer

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Mexico

Gringa Goes Sightseeing

dd6Halloween weekend I dragged myself off the lounger, tore my eyes away from jade colored waves (the water’s more green than blue here, hence the name “the Emerald coast”) and left the conch lined walls of the Casa Solana property. Having seen many of the Mayan ruins and other more “official” sites last year, I told Neydi there was only one thing I definitely wanted to see – the Day of the Dead festivities.

El Dia de los Muertos – the Day of the Dead – is a beautiful Mexican holiday steeped in tradition that takes place around our Halloween. Both holidays have skeletons, yes, but they couldn’t have more different meanings. To get a better idea of the significance and meaning of the holiday, check out last year’s post here.

dd8Hanal Pixan is the name of this festival in Merida, the capitol city dd11of the Yucatan, about 90 minutes or so from Casa Solana and Chuburna. The focus of the festivities is on the various altars (ofrendas) to commemorate lost loved ones, complete with offerings of food, flowers like the Mexican marigold (cempasuchil) or photographs of the deceased.

dd16I know my mother will laugh at me, but what I found the most dd15wonderful was (of course) the food. It was all free! Women made fresh tortillas over open flames next to many of the altars and Neydi would just shout “dos, por favor!” as we went by. They were still hot and often covered in pico or lime which I learned basically goes with everything.


I’m having too many technical difficulties trying to write much more from here so I’ll let the rest of my pictures do the talking. Enjoy, assuming I manage to get them loaded.

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Snippets from Solana

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Ricky
Jeff with Oliver
Jeff with Junior

It’s a new day here at Casa Solana and there’s no shortage of fur babies. Meet Ricky. Like me, he’s a paying guest. Turns out in addition to running Casa Solana for humans, Jeff is also a dog groomer, trainer and pet sitter extraordinaire! Here he is with Junior,  a salon client.

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Did you know that a breeze through palm fronds sounds exactly like running water? The first week I just thought our neighbor took very long and frequent showers. I still have to open the door to make sure it’s not raining.ss5

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The sun flirts with me at sunrise and sunset, kissing all the clouds and making them blush, but never actually letting me see her.ss4

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Here’s a decorative plate that was in my room. May you heed its advice wherever you are!ss2

Serene Solana

unnamed (7)I imagine if you are going to follow along on this journey with me, I should start by introducing you to the other inhabitants of Casa Solana, the heavenly seaside vacation rental where I have planted myself for the next month. For those of you who don’t know, I’m in the Yucatan peninsula on the Gulf of Mexico (in the northeast corner of the country and about as far away as you can get from where Hurricane Patricia made landfall, thank goodness).

Casa Solana is owned and operated by Sonya and Jeff Damon. I’ve yet to meet Sonya, she goes back and forth between here and Canada, but Jeff has proven to be a wonderful host on his own. I’ve even given him a title. Here at Casa Solana he’s the Chief Creative Solutions Director in charge of Handicapped Services.  The property is now littered with little makeshift devices: pieces of red or yellow rope to help me reach some switch or pull a door or gate closed behind me. There’s even hockey tape on a door pull so I can get a better grip. Being from Florida, I called it hurricane tape, but was corrected, dontcha know, by the Canadian – it’s hockey tape.

Me and Neydi
Me and Neydi

Neydi is the local Mexican woman I met last year who, having the somewhat rare commodity of a vehicle, is solely responsible for getting me out and about, though I don’t plan on doing much of that. I mean c’mon, the ocean is in my backyard.

With Lydia
With Lydia

Neydi and her sister, Lydia, have the task of making sure I don’t starve. And Neydi’s daughter, Sarahi, is helping me work on my Spanish. It’s a family affair.

Solana
Let’s play!
unnamed (3)
One-eyed Weenie

Best of all, even though I’m without Frankie, I still have puppy love! Meet Solana, the mystery mix (Pit Bull/Boxer/Terrier?) who is tireless in her love of fetching the ball and Weenie, the sweet, one-eyed pug who has an endearing way of cocking her head so she can see. I already feel myself growing attached.

Even though I purposely didn’t make any sightseeing plans so I’d have plenty of time to write, I can already sense time slipping away from me. I think all I accomplished yesterday was starting a new book and staring at the surf. So, I’m making the following disclaimer about my posts: they’ll be less cohesive and themed and more like short snippets and photos. Turns out, I’ve taken my time problem with me. It evaporates just as easily here as it does at home. It must be a disabled thing. It’s time consuming to get ready in a different environment! And all that mindless staring at the horizon doesn’t help.unnamed (6)

 

Sola!

unnamed (1)So, I’m in Mexico. In honor of my solo adventure I’m re-running a post about being brave. You should try it. And it doesn’t have to be jumping-out-of-a-plane-scare-yourself-half-to-death brave. Maybe it’s just going to the movies by yourself. You know your comfort zone. Push it.

And next time you’re feeling like Chicken Little, think of me negotiating a foreign airport by myself. Sorry don’t worry, Grandma. It’s actually easier by myself because everyone rushes to help me. It’s how I know that human beings are basically good. A disabled woman traveling with friends is presumably taken care of. A disabled woman traveling alone is a universal sign, like an S.O.S. Just ask the two friends who traveled with me through that cluster you know what of an airport in Mexico City. (Sorry again, Grandma.)

Everyone may think I’m brave, but traveling alone is actually in my comfort zone. Now, public speaking … I think I’d rather jump out of that plane.


Original Post: Be Courageous 

A friend called me last week, upset that she had to cancel our plans, but much more distraught over the reason why. She was exhausted by work. Physically. Mentally. Spiritually. Her job, it seemed, was eating her soul. Well, perhaps I’m being a little dramatic about it. So I guess you can see where I stand on that subject.

If my life could have a theme, I think it would be that life is short. I’ve always felt this way. Even before becoming disabled. After all, I did quit my own soul-sucking job when I was twenty-seven to bike solo throughout Europe. Then again, I stayed for the money for years before quitting, socking it away and planning my escape while driving home every day miserable and in tears. So, who am I to advise?

But, I’ll do it anyway. Maybe, the question for my friend is — is it worth it? Is the trade off of investing more of your time in this unfulfilling place all for some nobler cause? I think, in her case, it is. And we’re talking about sticking it out for less than four months anyway! People can survive a lot for just four months.

In my case, I stuck it out much longer. But I’d like to think my plan was that much grander, too. And what about now? Now that I’m in a wheelchair? You better believe I think about that trip all the time now and am filled with gratitude that I had the guts. What if I hadn’t gone? I had some friends making bets behind my back about how long I’d last. In case you’re wondering — those are naysayers. What if I’d listened to the naysayers? “Aren’t you worried about the gap in your resume?” they asked. Look at me now. Do I seem concerned about the gap? And it was a big one. I was gone for close to six months.

I have another friend who just quit managing a restaurant she’s owned for twenty-five years. She had to listen to lots of naysayers. I tried to be the voice of reason. “Think of it as simply making space. You’re making more room in your life for the things you really want to be doing.”

And these courageous acts don’t have to be as huge and life changing as the ones I’ve described. Heck, brave for me nowadays is rolling into the Subway at the gym and ordering from a stranger who I hope will understand me and be patient while I fumble through the transaction.

I was at the gym last week, using the only machine I felt comfortable with and suffering from a severe case of gym-timidation when in rolled my friend Dani. (I’ve written about her before. The girl with Spina bifida? Who’s blind?) Well, you haven’t felt cowardly till a blind girl in a wheelchair taps her way right past you to try out several different machines. So what’s my excuse? Or yours, for that matter?

I guess what I’m trying to say is, in the words of my friend Michele and Nike, do it. Whatever it is. Take a deep breath and go for it. And in the words of that overplayed song that I love, I wanna see you be brave.europe2europe


 

Fantastica!

Well, so much has happened, I have some catching up to do. For those that haven’t seen the multitude of pictures on Facebook, here’s where I’m staying. wpid-20140922_123245.jpg I miss Bella and Frankie (and you too, Mom), but there are plenty of cats to keep me company, even if they are a little stand-offish. wpid-img_20140922_084224.jpgWriter pals Carol and Laura stayed with me the first week. We saw Merida, the capital of the Yucatan. We saw Mayan ruins, mangrove forests, and traditional markets. All things I may (or may not) post about. Those two proved to be superb and skilled travel partners. Here’s a picture of the three of us. wpid-wp-1411995993647.jpegBut they’ve gone home now and I’m by myself. Yesterday, I managed to get down to the shore with my new friend, Nadine (in Spanish, it’s Neydi.) This is the Gulf of Mexico and the Malecon (or boardwalk) just outside my door. These pretty shots were taken by Laura earlier.wpid-wp-1411996237600.jpegwpid-wp-1411995777718.jpegwpid-wp-1411995906354.jpegA strong Mexican man wheeled me through the soft sand, no problem, but once there I had to employ the old scooting technique. As a result, my body’s a little banged up. I’m sore enough that I’ve decided today is pool and ceviche day (there’s a great local place that delivers). Here’s me in the Gulf.wpid-img_20140928_181313.jpgWe had a little scare when I dropped my $300 prescription sunglasses in the surf. After looking in the not very clear water for about ten minutes and drifting about a block from where my wheelchair waited onshore, would you believe Nadine came up with them? I squealed at the top of my lungs and kept shouting in English that I couldn’t believe it. That’s when I learned the important Spanish exclamation – fantastica! The day was capped off by laying in the sand listening to the sounds of a Mariachi band drift from a restaurant across the street. And trying a local meringue sweet sold by the vendors walking up and down the beach. Here are some not-so-pretty shots of Nadine’s, but I share it in the spirit of capturing a moment of a trip fantastica!wpid-20140928_152101.jpgwpid-20140928_152052.jpg

Mexican Moment

For those of you that don’t know – I’m in Mexico. It’s a little surreal because once I became disabled, I thought I’d never travel internationally again. A long flight and the inability to get up and walk to the airplane lavatory conspired to clip my wings and limit my adventures to the contiguous forty-eight. Never say never.

Turns out that most flights to Latin America are doable. Shorter flight times coupled with a few layovers make it all possible again. And as some of you have heard, I’d love to speak Spanish fluently.

So, here I am. For the next month. Writer pals Carol and Laura have joined me the first week. And thank God I had them to travel with.  The Delta flights were as expected. But look at what greeted me in Mexico City on the first Aeromexico flight.IMG_6655723843398The posts will be shorter, but sweeter. Fewer catchy openers and cute endings, but maybe some good pictures. And this one is to be continued. Right now there’s a margarita with my name on it.

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