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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Greetings from Yelapa Mexico

I’m sitting on the patio of our Casa in Yelapa, Mexico with wife Michele.   It’s sunny, the temperature is in the low eighties, the palm trees are swaying and the ocean is calm and inviting – just another shitty day in paradise.

The fact that Michele is here at all is considered by many a miracle in the same category as making  the lame walk and the blind see.  In fact, before we came there was active betting to see how many days she would last.  The smart money was on two days - no it’s only two days until we return home – and she’s talking about wanting to come back – for an extended time.

It’s not that Michele doesn’t like to travel: she just doesn’t like to travel with ME!  Forty years ago our marriage nearly ended on our honeymoon when she swore she’d never travel with me again.  Evidently forever is 40 years – the same amount of time the Israelites wandered around in the desert.  She claims I’m high maintenance – I don’t think it’s that I’m high maintenance – it’s just I tend to panic a lot.  My friends are constantly amazed that I find my way home after an adventure, when I get lost going to the corner
The Yelapa Water Taxi

This is my sixth trip to Yelapa.  I first came to study Spanish.  I didn’t want to be in a big city, so when I found a Spanish school on line in a quaint little village accessible only by water taxi I signed up. 

As soon as I arrived I thought I had made a terrible mistake - it was so small.  There are no cars; only burros and the odd ATV – and of course lots of burro droppings on the road.   My Spanish teacher had billeted me with Irma and Angel, who have several casas that they rent out.  Irma and her husband don’t speak a word of Spanish.  I only spoke a few, and those nobody understood.  My Spanish teacher was nowhere to be found: she’d stayed back home to search for a missing cat.

My room was small, but clean and bright with a huge tiled bathroom and shower, and Irma’s cooking was to die for. It took a day to quickly realize that I’d arrived in paradise.
Aviva, Cecily and Cassidy
The next year I talked my daughter, Aviva, to come with my two small granddaughters, ages 3 years and 6 months.  That was an adventure – my daughter seemed to have a pathological fear of Geckos and spent her time chasing them around with cans of Raid. Yelapa soon became a Gecko free zone. She’d send the three year old to check the bathroom for bugs first thing in the morning and told her to wake her grandfather if she found one.  But in the end Aviva sort of fell to Yelapa’s charms (in hindsight, she claims).

Senor Curt and his latest flame
CuShe stayed for a week, followed by my friend Curt who came for a week.  Curt fell in love with the place and plans to return with his wife.  When Curt left another friend, David, came and was so enamored with Yelapa  he brought 10 of HIS friends down the following spring, and so it goes.

 Dave Billman and the Giant Alien Egg

The only one who resisted Yelapa’s charms was my wife.  So we were all surprised this spring when she announced she wanted to go with me to try it out for two weeks.

We’ve made an offer to rent a brand new Casa (more like a house than a vacation property) across the street from where we’re planning to staying for three months next winter.   It’s a new home, two bedrooms, living room and dining room and is guaranteed to be mosquito and bat proof.

So, as my friend Dave dryly remarked.  “I guess Michele likes it down there.”
AThe New Casa

NEXT:  Batman & Santa - Vampire bats and aging hippies

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Bring on the Clones!

While I was standing there an older thin guy walks up and stares at me and says, “I know you!”
Now those of you who know me know that if my own wife and kids walked up to me unexpectedly I wouldn’t recognize them.  In fact there were several times I actually walked by mother on the street without recognizing her.  So it could be very possible that I do know this guy -in fact he sort of looked familiar.
“What’s your name?” he demands.
“Jeff,” I reply
“Jeff who?”
“Jeff Groberman.”
“Where are you from?”
“Are you sure?”
I always love it when someone asks that sort of question.  So I stand there for about 30 seconds pondering it.
“Pretty Sure, “ I reply.

The more I stare at him the more I realize why he looks familiar.  He looks just like me!

“Well you got an exact double in Montreal.”
“I get that a lot,” I reply. “There’s a lot of me’s running around the world.  They cloned me – punched out dozen of me  - like Gingerbread men.”
“Really?” he asks.
It turns out that the guy is a doctor originally from Montreal now living in Baton Rouge. 
“You Jewish?” he asks.
“Yeah.  You?”

Now those of you who regularly follow my misadventures know how directionally challenged I am.  I still can’t find the exit from the baggage area – at least I haven’t got tazered yet.  But this guy is so clueless I’m concerned for his safety, and hoping that there’s no stapler in the area.  He can’t even figure out how to take his bag through customs and put it on the conveyer belt to his next Canadian destination.   
I take mercy on him, and tell him I’ll help him to his gate.  The guy has got THREE big bags – each weighing a ton. 
“What have you got in there?” I ask, dragging one oversized bag off the carousel for him.
“Just some instruments I need for the hospital.”
“What a complete Cat Scan unit?”
“You never know what you might need.”
This ought to be fun clearing customs.  I help him fill out the form he should have filled out in the airport and head for the customs guy. 
“You guys travelling together?” the customs official asks.
“Not really.” I state.
“Then why you up here together,” he asks looking at us.
“It’s a long story,” I begin.
“I don’t care,” he snaps. “Just gimme your brother’s declaration form.”
I hand him the two forms.  The guy glances at them.
“How come you got different last names?”
“He likes to go by his maiden name.” I respond.
The official, shakes his head, thinks it for a minute then decides it’s not worth pursuing further and waves us through.

I put his luggage on the conveyor belt, walk him to his gate and bid him farewell.  I notice he’s going to  Newfoundland where somehow I figure he’ll fit right in.

Now it's home and off to Yelapa with my wife Michele who is taking our first major trip together since our honeymoon - 40 years ago!  That ought to be interesting. 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

A walk on the Moon

Santiago Island is unlike anything we've previously encountered:  no sea lions, no iguanas, no boobies -no anything.    Sullivan Bay looks like a combination of the surface of the moon and Mars: a huge black lava field in the foreground and barren reddish hills in the background.  The lava field is a result of a recent volcanic eruption:  recent, Pablo explains, is a
mere two hundred years ago – barely yesterday in geological terms.  We’re about embark on an hour hike to the red hills in the distance, then on to a bay on the other side of the island.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

"Water Water Everywhere and Not a Beer to drink" - Samuel Coldrfridge

"Chuck" Darwin


We land in Puerto Ayora   on Santa Cruz Island.  We’re told that the purpose is to visit the Charles Darwin Research Station situated at the edge of town – we know that’s an excuse to get us out of the way so they can re-provision the ship’s beer and wine stock.  Amid all the pens of tortoises of all ages and sizes is a bust of Chuck Darwin himself.  I always associated him with monkeys – not tortoises and turtles – shows you how little I know.

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