Thursday, March 31, 2011


Without fanfare or rhetoric, I think we all know the benefits of conserving water, no matter where you live. Now that the hot weather is definitely upon us here in the Yucatan, our water usage increases dramatically.

Because of the intense heat, we shower more often, have to change clothing two or three times per day depending on personal preferences and activities, the washing machine seems to never stop going, pools, ponds and water features require high maintenance and extra water to make up for the rapid evaporation that takes place, our personal water intake increases as it essential to remain properly hydrated, and basically, everything just starts to dry out from the never-ending intense heat of summer. Every plant and shrub requires daily doses of water just to survive the heat.

At my home, we practice water conservation and recycling year round. The rinse water from the washing machine is diverted through a hose that is used to fill several buckets. This water is then used to water plants, wash down the patio, and the front sidewalk and street to help keep the dust and dirt to a minimum. I can’t tell you how much water this recycling method saves.

The rinse water from the washing machine does not, repeat, does not harm the plants! In fact, the soapy water discourages insects and other "creepie-crawlies" that would otherwise snack on your plants or become homesteaders and make a neat little nest in the plant itself.

In the kitchen sink, we keep a plastic basin to catch all water coming from the tap and to wash dishes in. We rinse our dishes with water direct from the faucet and the rinse water is then caught in the plastic basin and recycled. When the basin is full, it is emptied into a large bucket and that water is used to water the plants with. Any and all water used in the kitchen is recycled in this manner. Fruits and vegetables are soaked in water with an iodine-based antibacterial (Microdyn) added to the water to kill any lingering bacteria. This water is also recycled and becomes a cool refreshing drink for the plants!

Recently, we noticed something growing out of the dwarf bouganvilla plant. (I’m not sure how to correctly spell bouganvilla and when I looked it up, I couldn’t find it!!) It looked like something other than a weed so it was left alone to see what might become of it. Low and behold, it was a tomato plant! It was not planted purposefully, but apparently a seed or two was in the basin that was transferred to a bucket and that water was then used to water the plant. The seed took, and I will soon be enjoying a fresh tomato salad from the garden! Like I said, conserving and recycling water can be fruitful. Here’s a picture to prove it!

(And by the way, the tomato is a fruit, not a vegetable!)

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Personally, I am really excited about this bit of news that was recently (March 16, 2011) published in the Tampa Bay Area news media. I recall the original ferry service in 2003, which went “bottoms up”, and the one in 2008 that did the same. I was fortunate to take these trips 6 times before they stopped sailing.

It is tailor made for me. The ferry service leaves Port of Progreso, Yucatan, and arrives in the Port of Tampa, Florida about 36 hours later. Each port is only 30 minutes from my home in Merida, and my condo in St. Petersburg. From Tampa, Florida, to my condo in St. Petersburg, it is a $30.00 limousine ride.

I recall that you could carry almost as much luggage as you could haul, and with no weight restrictions. That may change though. Cost “back then” was $250.00, subsequently increased to $300.00, ROUND TRIP! It included a cabin with private bath and shower, and 2 beds. Quite small, but hey – it was only a 36 hour sail! The round trip fare also included all your meals, served buffet style (of course), and the food was really good!

If you brought your vehicle, that was extra. Lots of folks from the Yucatan did bring their vehicles and upon departing Tampa, headed directly for the areas beautiful beaches and/or Disney World and all the other attractions in the Orlando area, which is about an hours drive away. It was a great thing for us living here in the Yucatan. It was also a very inexpensive vacation for an individual or a large family when compared to air fares and car rentals in the US. In addition to passengers and vehicles, the ferry also accommodated cargo, thus adding to the economy of the Yucatan. Limes were a primary source of cargo, and the shipping company increased their revenue which helped keep passenger fares down.

The ferry was actually quite comfortable and there were many activities to meet everyone’s needs. There were some activities for kids, a disco in the evening, bingo and other cruise ship activities during the day, a full casino, shops, you name it. Just like on a big cruise ship, only scaled down in size, but not spirit. The same is promised for this new adventure.

I’m keeping my eyes and ears open and all my fingers crossed in hopes of learning more about this “probable” adventure! I do so hope this happens


You can read more about the proposed ferry service here: (cut & paste)

Sunday, March 6, 2011


When I first started visiting Mexico in the mid 1960’s, you could walk in any farmacia (pharmacy), and buy whatever medication(s) you needed without a prescription. There were limitations on purchasing high potency pain relievers and psychotrophic medications. However, if you wanted medications like those and didn’t have a prescription, all you needed to do was take a stroll down to the cantina section of town where street vendors were more than happy to fill your requests.

We hear so much about the drug cartels and violence in Mexico these days that many would-be visitors are staying home. I am pleased to report that all that craziness is far from where I am living. Merida remains a safe place to visit and live. A recent article in the Washington Post tells it like it is. Read about here:
In Merida, and almost every other pat of Mexico, there seems to be a farmacia on every street corner. Competition is keen, just like in the US. There are farmacias that sell only generic medications at discounted prices. There are several large chains that compete by offering in-house specials and membership cards for additional discounts and premiums. Another gimmick used by the major chains is having a small office attached to their particular store, and staffing it with a medical doctor. You can see the doctor for the equivalent of about $2.00 - $2.50 US dollars. Another large chain offers the same service, but for FREE! The large chains have just about abolished the “mom and pop” operations, but a few still remain. And of course, we have several farmacias that sell only herbal medications, and I know of one that sells products only for the skin.

In August of 2010, a new law was passed that required a doctor’s prescription to purchase antibiotics. Apparently, so many people in the country were over-using and abusing antibiotics that the general population built up a resistance to them, and it was becoming harder and harder to fight infections. However, most other medications are available without a prescription.

I recently had a sinus infection and knew from past experience that I needed an antibiotic to get rid of it. Because of the new law, I had to have a prescription. I went to the free doctor at a farmacia near my home and was pleasantly surprised to find that the very nice young lady was actually a licensed physician. She proudly displayed all of her diplomas on the office wall. For free, she gave me an upper respiratory exam of the eyes, ears, nose and throat. She checked my throat and neck area for swollen lymph glands and asked if I had any other concerns. The doctor gave me prescriptions for three medications, and I am now free of the sinus infection I had.

If I had a serious medical issue, I would only go to Star Medica Hospital here in Merida which is staffed by some of the absolute best doctors I have ever encountered in my life. If I had a relatively minor medical issue, such as a sinus infection, I would not hesitate to go back to the doctor at the farmacia. Eligibility is based only upon your showing up. You do not have to be hooked up with any insurance program or any Mexican Social Medicine Program. If you’re sick, just go. What a great system! Competition is good for everyone.

You can still buy most medications over-the-counter. They are first class quality, manufactured by major drug companies. So, if you re thinking of visiting or moving here, don’t be overly concerned about obtaining the medications you need. They are here and they are readily available. There is a wide variety of pharmacies to choose from including the pharmacies at Sam’s Club, Costco, and WalMart.

And yes, prices are (generally) less than what you would pay in the US.

Stay healthy!