The Akumal Social Club

La Cueva del Pescador, the local hangout

Nov. 15, 2009

Around happy hour time, I walked by La Cueva the fish restaurant/cafe hangout for CEA volunteers and there was Alex with two guys. They invited me to join them. One was Wendell, the other Alan. Both live here. I had no money with me, but Alex said I could run a tab. Nice chatting with some Gringos my age who live here —  Alan all year, Wendell, 8 months — he can’t take the sweltering summers. Alan is quite slim and Wendell joked that Alan weighed 300 lbs when he arrived but spending the summers had reduced him to his present physique.

Wendell paid for the whole table, including my margarita. He said, “Hey I live in paradise — my treat.” Later we went to Alan’s where he had cooked some freshly caught shrimp. He has a nice little apartment in Akumal town and makes lovely furniture from jungle wood. He has all kinds of orchids attached to branches that sit in his window. He gave me some lovely black bean and chicken soup. He’s a good cook.

Earlier in the day I had a lovely swim from the kayak.  I dock to the buoy and jump in. The water is wonderful — healing, refreshing, soothing, peaceful, beautiful, warm — my personal spa and rejuvenation. To continue my work as the turtle police, I swim around the other snorkelers to make sure they’re following the rules. They were. There was a giant turtle with a large, satiny yellow fish on it’s back — a remora? And a smaller version of the same with blue stripes. It was quite spectacular. The satiny yellow fish looked a little like a shark.

Everything you need is a stone’s throw from the dorm — a grocery store, dress shop, wonderful bakery and lots of souvenirs, jewelry and folk art, and, of course, the local cafe hangout. I went shopping at the little dress shop. They have beautiful cotton things and I found a camouflage dress I really like and spectacular parrot-feather earrings. I asked if they had to kill the parrots to make the earrings and they assured me no. I think I’ll buy them.

Nov. 17, 2009

(Left to right) Paul, CEA director, Charlene, Alan, Alex with camera, Carlos, Maggie, Tami at Alex's birthday party

Yesterday was good. Alex’s birthday and a dinner party at La Cueva. She received a hummingbird painting done by Carlos the CEA accountant, a lighter decorated with a gecko from another friend, Maggie, pretty blue flower beaded earrings from me and I forget what else. Paul, the CEA director brought her a little key lime pie from the bakery — these are delicious — and that was her birthday cake. There were about eight of us: Alan, Carlos, Maggie, Tami, Paul, Me, Alex, Charlene, who is in a wheelchair. La Cueva can’t get around to putting a ramp over the small step so it’s handicap-accessible, so we took some tables and chairs from the closed bakery and put them just outside the restaurant. La Cueva was packed to capacity and beyond.

The electricity was off most of today. We noticed this when Epy the water-quality volunteer from Finland filled a blender with fruit, oats, milk and vitamins and then found there was no electricity. He tried shaking it up in a yogurt container. I went back to buy the camouflage dress, but couldn’t use my credit card because the power was off.

Today the “presidential suite”– an empty room I noticed, which is five-star compared to the dorm — has been vacated by Dario’s friends who were here for the weekend. Now we’ll see if they let me have it. I’ll even offer to pay more if there’s a problem. The dorm is okay, but the kids sleep late in the morning so I feel required to creep around, and everything I have is zipped up so I’m zipping and unzipping and trying not to make any noise. The floor is also still questionable, so I am loathe to open up my suitcase on it to try to find things. I’m getting more organized and have rolled up all my clothes.

Tonight there was a going away party for Maggie, who has lived here six-plus years and worked as the librarian. She lost her job and is going back to Texas. She’s very sad to leave. I met a bunch of other people and saw Marti, the yoga teacher who lives here

Ahmed gives me a kiss.

November 18, 2009

What could be better? I’m sitting here with my coffee and key lime pie — real whipped cream — at my laptop in the cool comfort of the office with nothing to do but work on my blog. No beach patrol till 1 p.m.

Decided yesterday to let go of wanting the presidential suite or whatever. Talked to Alma, the office administrator and volunteer coordinator, who explained the situation here with the rooms. They have another big group coming and have to move Alejandro, the turtle volunteer who’s here till March. Anyhow, it’s complicated and I have no idea what room I’ll get, but she assures me I will get one this week. I’m okay with the dorm, but would like my own space, but at this point . . . Whatever. I’m very pleased with myself that I’ve adjusted to the dorm.  At first I thought, “I can’t do this.” Now I know that I can.

Tonight Alex is having her final margarita. She heads back to the states tomorrow. I’m sorry to lose my new friend. It’s also Maggie’s last night and she’s tearfully making her final goodbyes. Maggie was also a former CEA volunteer in the turtle program, staying up most of the night and getting the eggs from the nests to protect them. She said she loved it.

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