Thursday, May 26, 2005
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
I brought over May and 1/2 of April and will post here until I figure out where I'll transfer the travelogue.
Thanks to MB for all her offers of generous support; I'll be emailing you! :)
In deciding what I want to do with this website (move to WordPress, upgrade TypePad, where to host, etc.) I found a nifty statistical tool. I still have NO idea what I'm going to do with this site and have also found that "www.harvestmoon.com and www.greenschool.com" have been purchased so then there is the whole CREATING a new domain name problem and honestly I'm just NOT that talented. When we lived in California we legally homeschooled by creating a private school in our home (R4/PSA option) and called it the "Green Very Green Unschool". Boys picked that one. So if I go with new software I'm going to need a new blog name. I created a quickie blog at blogspot but I can't figure out what happens when you get a certain size with them - do they cut you off? What do they do? What are their limits? They're Google now, but does that make a difference?
We were supposed to try to go to Chichen Itza today, and as it is overcast it would have been PERFECT weather, but I've come down with tremendous nausea so we're putting it off for tomorrow. Jamie seems to be recovered. Completely. He isn't expending much energy, but he is able to stay out of bed all day without even thinking about it.
Today I SO hope to figure out a host, blog software and if the WWW will help me, a domain name for our travelblog. Please? Pretty please?
Sunday, May 15, 2005
Jesse wants to learn to spell. Actually, he said he'd like to be able to "write" but I know he can write, so I thought maybe he meant spelling. I suggested he decide how many words/day he wanted to work on, then wrote the words (in English and Spanish) and suggested he write the words over and over (page for each word) and test himself on how well he remembered. Better ideas? As soon as Jesse got his page, Pike immediately asked for a worksheet with math problems. I actually turned him down and said, "no, I really want to get going. I felt like such a Bad Homeschooling Mom - to tell my boy that NO, he could NOT have math problems to work on. Well, I really wanted to get going. With these four, once one of them distracts you with one thing, by the time you get it, the others will be off in adventureland and you'll never get them headed out again.
Ellen started something this morning that not one of the other kids has done. She is reading to me. She picks out a book that I've read ad nauseum to her, and she goes through each page and "reads" the story to me. It is so cute and I am loving it. I've read that this is so normal with kids, but not one of mine has done it yet. The other kids love to read (though truly, Jesse is the only fluent reader) and will spend hours looking at books, but not one, until now, has decided to share their stories with me. It will be interesting to see how Ellen learns to read. Jesse is a sight reader, Pikey phonics and Sissy is doing phonics along with Pike, but I'm not sure that is her way.
Today Jamie felt well enough to do a day trip. We headed down the coast towards Tulum to Yal-Ku. It is reported to be something like a "poor man's Xpu-Ha". It is a lovely lagoon that opens to the sea; there are turtles that will come in (but we didn't see any) but the clincher is that young children can walk around the many limestone paths that wander about the lagoon and watch the tropical fish. The boys have had a blast swimming out to the reef with me and we can snorkel and look at the amazing fish, but the girls just aren't able and we don't have tiny masks anyway. So the girls had a blast; I had a blast (cause for some reason, the normal heart-stopping anxiety that attacks me in open water didn't happen in the lagoon); Jamie had a blast and the boys had a blast.
The title of this post refers to Celia Cruz, and whenever I see sugar" sand, I think of Celia Cruz. The beach (bay next to the one we're staying at) is full of sand that is so sugary, when wet, it is the consistency of wet flour. I'll have to take a picture next time we go AND I'll have to bring some back. It is so amazing. Last time we went, we took Jamie. He and the boys went out to the reef and snorkeled a LONG time while Sissy, Ellen and I chatted with the (buen mozo!!) Argentinian we'd met there once before and his co-worker. They are so nice to the girls and love talking to them. Ellen was not a happy camper when we left.
I can't believe I haven't shared this with family and ANDREW, but Pikey got his ear pierced. It was one of the days that I was keeping the kids away from the trailer while Jamie dozed, but after I'd ascertained that he wasn't going to die. I'd passed a "body piercing" shop numerous times on our rounds of Playa del Carmen (doing errands) but it was never open. When I spotted it open, I asked Pike if he wanted to go for it and he did; so while I held sleepy Ellen and scared Sissy and Jesse ran about like he does when he is stressed/worried about physical pain, Pikey calmly and bravely, took the needle and got a piercing. I wish I had a camera; the piercing person was a very very pregnant tattooed lady. It cost 250 pesos (you all don't need the conversion, right? 11 pesos/1 USD) and I had to go to the cajero (ATM) to get money. Afterwards, Pikey sat entranced, counting money... Pikey's heaven. Piles upon piles of money...
Friday, May 13, 2005
Thanks for the emails and comments - Jamie was in bed all day today but he didn't sleep all day and the doctor came by and examined him and we got Internet access again and while he is getting depressed about being sick, I see that he is slowly, VERY slowly getting better. Tomorrow he gets his last shot (and honestly I'll be glad; I keep waiting to hit a bone or really screw it up) and the same day he'll start oral antibiotics. I don't think he'll EVER self-medicate again.
Kids are doing really well; they play in the beach and under the trailer in the sand and sun. Sometimes they even play in the pool. Today I was able to take the kids to a nearby (within walking distance) beach and tomorrow will drive everyone in the northland insane with the beautiful pictures.
We'll probably be here at least another week (if not more). Once Jamie is able to get out of bed and has the energy, we're going to do a little exploring of the Maya Riviera. It is reported to be exquisite here. From the immediate area, I won't be surprised.
Thursday, May 12, 2005
We have kind of been in limbo here; waiting to see if Jamie is going to get better or not. He has had a couple days in the past 2 weeks where it looked promising, but he would only be out of bed for a couple hours and then spend the entire following day in bed. Today, for the first time, he was up in the morning and stayed out of bed pretty much all day long. He snorkled with the boys out to the reef and had enough energy afterwards to stay out of bed; laying about in recliners at the poolside. I am really hoping that this will be his "turn-around" day; the doctor felt that he would be feeling MUCH better 48 hours after his first shot, and that was last Friday. So, I'm cautiously hopeful.
We lost our free Internet connectivity and are arranging to use one of the permanent resident's WAN to connect. If we don't have connectivity tomorrow, I'll probably go into town and use a cafe. We haven't been doing much; I don't feel comfortable leaving Jamie alone until late afternoon; when he is usually awake (he generally sleeps off and on all day), so we hang out at the trailer; the kids play in the sand and we hit the pool once or twice. I don't know why, but the kids generally prefer the mud and sand at the trailer to the pool. Easier for me to keep an eye on Jamie, but weird. They've been constucting elaborate castles and towns and villages at the back of the trailer and I hope there isn't a HIGH percentage of salt in the limestone. :)
If Jamie has indeed, turned the corner in his illness, we will probably be here for another week and a half; he gets his last shot on Saturday and will be evaluated by the doctor to see if he wants him to go on oral antibiotics. By then, he will hopefully be well enough to make some day trips and we can see more of this area than the trailer park. :)
We are all getting brown as can be and have adjusted (except Jamie, who spends all day in A/C and as such, doesn't have the ability to adjust) to the heat and humidity. I am surprised at how we've adapted; I never imagined I could deal with heat in the 90's and 100's (F) and humidity in the 85-90% range.
It really doesn't seem like anything has happened; we spend each day hanging outside the trailer; reading and creating and waiting for Jamie to get better. There is apparently a new Typhoid vaccine and I'm seriously considering getting it (it is not for children according to the doctor) but since we're planning on being out of Mexico by the end of June I'm not sure it would be worth the money (600 pesos) or time.
Monday, May 09, 2005
Well, he is definitely on the mend. And the best part? I get to stick a LONG needle in his ass daily. If that alone isn't compensation for simply putting up with him, I don't know what is. Almost makes all the doctor bills and medicine bills worth it. Because the Internet world simply can't get enough of his ass, I simply have to share another. Tomorrow I'll get the kids to take a picture of MY handiwork.
I need to decide if I'm going to stay with TypePad or not. I'm almost out of disk-space (50MB) after 6 months of posting. I would also like the ability to customize my website and upgrading in TypePad will only give me 100MB and double my yearly rate. I have a server I can park everything I need on it, but really suck at design (which is why I went with TypePad in the first place). Any ideas? I need probably a gig of bandwidth and 200MB of storage. I'd like to put everything in Movable Type (and TypePad is either MT or really close to it) and make the site prettier.
The kids have been having an absolute blast playing in the limestone sand and mud under and about the back of the trailer. They've created cities and towns and horse homes. I didn't think we could get stressed out, being on permanent vacation, but the past few days have shown me that we were VERY stressed for the two weeks before Jamie saw a doctor. The kids are playing together again; are creative again; are no longer bored and I'm no longer playing the role of Shrew. And hey! I get to stick a long needle in his arse daily! Last night I downloaded some clips from Bachata Rosa (I've had the song "Bilirrubina" stuck in my head ever since I started with the needles) and the kids were dancing to them. I dowloaded clips from all the songs just so I could watch their craziness. I LOVE this album; have since it came out, but long ago lost the cassette. Now I'm going to have to find it.
I eavesdropped on the kids yesterday while they were playing. The boys have teeny tiny beer bottles that they've been collecting all over Mexico. When we got to Guadalajara, they found them for FIFTY CENTAVOS EACH (and had paid up to 4 pesos each previously). They were in beer bottle heaven. I think they got 10 each. The girls have lost many of theirs over time...
S "Hey I'm going to get my baby! They're selling beer!"
(in high pitched baby's voice) "OK, I'll go out and buy some beer!"
P (show the baby his wares) "This is some kind of beer that starts with an N - I'm not sure what it is but it is strong. This is Sol. This is Corona. This is (ad naseum). This is Whiskey. It is SO very strong."
S "What would happen if she (her baby) tried some whiskey?"
P "She'd get drunk. They're all very so strong beers."
P "Which one sissy? Both of those are worth only one of these. One of those are worth one of these. These are stout baby sized or diglet sized. So if you're not going to get one sissy, then i think I'll just pack up."
S "Pikey, i would like corona."
P "No, corona is not for sale."
S (points to another)
P "No, never ever in my whole life Double X. Double X is so valuable. I should never have to say that. Sissy stop playing around and get something."
S "Actually i don't feel comfortable doing this You're so rude."
(this then disintegrated into crying Sissy and Pissed off Pikey
Saturday, May 07, 2005
So how was *he* sure he was sick? He didn't want coffee in the morning, and the lovely eau de garlic that I wear like a sleeve repulsed him. The garlic aversion? I can somewhat understand that. But coffee? Not CRAVING a hot cuppa morning noon and night? That was a sure sign for me. When he told me that, I immediately started scouting a doc.
I laughed yesterday. I didn't realize how much his being sick had affected me; we have been in a parallel universe where he spends All Day Long in bed (were this *my* parallel universe, I'd call it "pregnant") and I snap at the kids All Day Long. Yesterday, after downing 2 Ensures (he ended the day with FOUR Ensures) he began to come out of his coma of pain. I was able to joke with him and laugh. It sounded so foreign to me; my laugh, that I realized I've been somewhat stressed. And that explains why, in a world of vacation, on the beach, I'm stressed.
Last night I was up til 2 or 3am reading The Big Yellow House. I have a new love. She is simply amazing with words and her kids do so many of the same things as mine, I no longer feel like such a failure. I went WAY back to the beginning of her archives and did not manage to get to bed until 3am. At the beginning of her archives I thought, "well, she has SEVEN children, I'm *sure* they go to school" only to find that not only does she homeschool; she UNschools. To a certain point, I gather. I have always tried to aim for non-coercive parenting, but I think it is either impossible or terribly un-realistic in a large family. I've also been comforted by her screaming toddler, because that is Ellen. She has turned from opinionated to SCREAMING, TANTRUMING 3yo seemingly overnight. I remember this with Sissy; I don't know why I thought Ellen would skip it just because we're traveling in Mexico. Her boys are very much like mine also (minus a "twin" set) and it is so nice to see that they are not aberrations.
So Jamie is better; I get to learn to shoot him up this morning, Ellen is "normal", the boys are, well, boys and I can see the light. No, it is not an oncoming truck. They don't use headlights in Mexico. :)
Friday, May 06, 2005
Everywhere we go, I call it Paradise, so while this is paradise, we'll simply call it the "Caribbean". The days are falling into a pattern here; it is blistering hot in the morning and midday and around mid afternoon the clouds, thunder and lightening roll in and we have a lovely thunderstorm. Just what the kids were missing; rain and puddles and mud.
Getting a doctor referral here is interesting. I headed to the office to pay the next week and see what they had to say about doctors. On the way, I passed one of a thousand "South Dakota" license plated cars and their palapa. The reason that "South Dakota" license plates are humorous is that everyone fulltiming (without a stick home) uses either Texas (Escapees) or South Dakota (a myriad of forwarding services) to create a US residence (without living there). So you see lots of people with HEAVY southern accents and South Dakota plates. I'm starting to pine for that "Fargo" accent. Anyway... They turned me onto "Dr. Carlos" but didn't have his number. "Check at the dive shop", they advised, so off I headed. Found the guy at the dive shop but he didn't have his number BUT he knew a nurse who sometimes worked with Dr Carlos and sent me over to her palapa. She had Dr Carlos's number and did me the favor of calling him herself. He came over (he makes HOUSECALLS - or in our instance TRAILER CALLS) and he spent a good 30-45 minutes with Jamie, examining and taking history. Would you believe that he disagreed with the self medication? How strange!!! :) He said that his current symptoms are being masked by the antibiotics so he suggested lab work.
Today we did the lab work (470 pesos) and are awaiting the results. They'll fax them to Dr. Carlos and he'll then pop by and give us his diagnosis and recommendations. Jamie is the worst he's been yet; Dr. Carlos suspects salmonella, but is waiting for lab work to confirm. Anyway, hopefully, we'll have a plan of action by tomorrow.
Thanks to everyone who has commented. Aunt Kathy; good to see you're still here (and if I never responded to your Easter email, consider it an aberration. Thank you SO MUCH for your email; it was wonderful to read. I know you're supposed to take lacto bacillus with the antibiotics to replace the good bacteria that the antibiotics are destroying, but I don't think the yogurt down here has live acidophilus down here. I found a "natural" store today and will check there tomorrow (didn't have time today).
MB, I'm not even close to bilingual. I sure wish I were. I get by after spending 3 years traveling around the south of South America (Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Uruguay, some of Brazil). I spent 1987 to 1990 traveling and as a result, learned Spanish. That is the best (though loneliest) way to learn a language, IMO, but you might find you will have a "street" grammar. We actually considered a 4WD, but didn't think we'd EVER be on roads we'd need it for. After driving our Westfalia over many roads that required 4WD (but the Westy wasn't), we naturally assumed the Ford would be just as good. I'm sure that all the places we got stuck with the Ford would have been easily passable in the Westy. Course, the Westy couldn't haul anything other than a red wagon, probably. :) If you're thinking about going ANYWHERE remotely off pavement, I'd eat the weight and get 4WD. Never thought I'd say that before. I'd like to come back here; be on the road permanently, but I'm not sure how (other than workamping or hosting a campground) we could financially manage that. We're still thinking about getting a place in Canada for 6mo and Mexico for 6mo, but right now it is hard to see anything further in the future than Jamie getting well. :) Who knows. I'd LOVE to come back next year. Assuming we leave this year. :) I do hope we catch up somewhere along the way. Thanks for the author referral; I'll see what we can find on the Internet. I was thinking of hitting Chichen Itzá but not sure about anything else. We'll see.
Mom and Dad; thanks again for the cake; when Jamie gets better we'll make it to celebrate. Pike said that this was his best birthday! :) He LOVED (as I'm sure you imagined) his present. We went to the bank the next day to get a 100 peso coin - they have recently started State Coins; we got Jalisco. Yes he did get the card; thank you so much!
Several people have asked about schooling. We have always followed an unschooling philosophy, which basically believes that children do not need to be taught to learn. We believe in facilitating their interests and providing opportunities to delve into subjects but don't encourage or force any "educational" moments. That does not mean that they are ignored; rather, we look for interests that they have and try to provide "more" and opportunities for them to explore their interests. They have learned math from cooking and money. They have learned spelling from writing. They have learned writing from making comic books. They have learned reading from being read to. The 10yo is a pure sight reader. He could read "neighbor" before "as". The 9yo is a phonics reader. They have learned history from being read to and from wondering where different words come from. They have learned science because they are curious. :) They have learned about physics from thunderstorms. I think you're getting the idea now? :)
Well, it isn't any typhoid I'm used to, but he says that it is Typhoid/Salmonella. Anyway, he should feel better in 48 hours. 600 pesos for the initial TRAILERCALL, 300 for the followup tonight and 100 for any subsequent. The symptoms were really weird; not the typical typhoid symptoms but that is due to the self medication. Chrissy and Chet, who had INCREDIBLY BAD typhoid in Africa are probably scratching their heads wondering what the hell this sissy Mexican typhoid could be...
Eight more days of shots; one shot a day. I really should have ordered the contacts.
(luckilly, he's still too sick to realize I've just plastered his fine ass all over the Internet...)
Wednesday, May 04, 2005
For the first time in over a week, Jamie felt well enough this morning to watch the kids while I went for a walk. It has been an enormous amount of time since I was last able to go for a walk. I headed south ; down the beach but when I got back Jamie informed me that north was the direction of a walk he'd read about. Tomorrow I'll head northwards. :) For the first time since leaving Puebla, we had BLUE SKY today! Blue sky and white clouds and it was beautiful on the sea...
I saw an enormous amount of flotsam (is that the term for garbage from the sea?) stung all along the beach. It was simply amazing. The owner of the RV park, Pepe, has been asked to allow residents to do beach cleanup, but the garbage collected is very expensive to discard, so he has discouraged the project. Tomorrow I'll have to take some pictures of the garbage to even out the picturesque beach scenes.
When I got back, Jamie was still doing well, but not up to par, so we decided to go swimming. First he, then I, swam out to the reef to check out the coral and the fishies. As it turns out, he went out just a tad further than I did and was able to see enormous quantities of fishies, where I saw good numbers of fish. I have to admit that each and every time I enter the water I have a horrid "Jaws" fear. Despite some 15 years of competitive (AAU and Masters) swimming, I am a scardy-cat in the open water. Were it not for a kindred scardy-cat, I probably would not have had the courage to venture out. She was down for the day, having taken a cruise from New Orleans. Were I on a cruise ship, I'm not sure I'd have the vision to look for a secluded beach. The fish were lilac, purple, blue, yellow with black zebra stripes, transparent, yellow and white. They were amazing. The beachfront stays rather shallow for quite a ways until it encounters the reef where waves swirl and break in a frenzy. I was trying REALLY hard to stay away from the reef; you could see parts of it sticking up out of the water.
When we decided to come back to shore, we were surprised to find how difficult it was to swim back. The waves were large swells and would pull you back towards the reef. It was still an amazing trip. Many of the divers in this area rave about this reef; they say it is unique (in many ways, I'd suppose) that you can SWIM to the reef (and fish) instead of sit in a boat for 1-2 hours GETTING to the reef.
After lunch we decided to try to hit Cobá, one of many local Mayan ruins. They are supposed to be similar to the architecture of Tikal (where I REALLY wanted to go, but seeing as it is in Guatemala, and we will probably never get there) and the entire site is estimated to be 50km² in area and over 6500 structures. They have uncovered what seems like only a handful. Before entering the site, we doused our heads with water and it was very pleasant and "cool" walking through the site. It is about 2km from the entrance to the big pyramid (supposedly the highest on the Yucatan) and we all walked it in comfort. We passed a few structures but were trying to get the girls to the pyramid before the park closed and didn't do much exploration of them. There are no placards at the sight; no signs or information or guides, so it was nice to have the Lonely Planet guide with us to explain a bit of what we were seeing. Ellen stayed at the bottom of the gigantic pyramid while the boys and Sissy and I headed to the top. The view from the top was spectacular. We could see for miles and miles and kilometers and kilometers (don't want to leave the Canadians out) and all we could see was sky and jungle canopy. One of the smaller pyramids we'd passed could be seen sticking up out of the canopy.
We read in The Lonely Planet that there is a road, built by the Mayans that runs from Cobá to almost Chichen Itzá; some 100km. On the way back, we were a bit pressed for time and Ellen was done. Since the ruins are so spread out, many of the local Mayans hire themselves out to drive tourists around on tricycles and also rent out bicycles. He wasn't happy to take the 35 peso fare, as the normal is 50 pesos RT, but since we only wanted the return, he finally, with chiding and encouragement from his cohorts, decided to take the 35 pesos. Jamie was livid that he was asking for the full 50, but if I'd had it, I would have paid it.
The kids had a blast on the way back. We tried to talk to our guide about Mayan history and what life was like for typical Mayan children (back in the day) but he had no knowledge of Mayan history. He said that the language (which he speaks) is slowly disappearing also. Tomorrow we will vege and try to encourage Jamie to visit a doctor.
Tuesday, May 03, 2005
While Jamie has been rather sick this last week, and decided to self medicate (with CIPRO!!!) and really, to my mind, is no better, and has been staying inside the A/C trailer all day long and I haven't wanted to do any of the sightseeing I'd planned cause I don't want to leave him out of it, and damn, but will he EVER see a doctor (cause they're SO inexpensive down here) and stop self-medicating with outrageously harsh antibiotics so he can actually TREAT whatever is wrong with him...Golly, I'm at the end of my rope on this. We're not much of a medicating family and I'm really wondering at his self-diagnosis of bacterial bugs in his gut plus the fact that he didn't even talk to the person at the pharmacy about what dosage to get and how long to take the CIPRO. I guess I just have to trust that he knows what he's doing.
At any rate, the kids are getting a really good rest from traveling, but they really haven't been outside the park. There is no city here; just the trailer park; the city is about 15 minutes by car north. They've been having an absolutely lovely time with some girls they've met down here and Pike insisted on inviting them to his birthday.
For weeks he's been asking when his birthday will arrive and yesterday was the day! We headed to town to a couple stores to pick out his cake (our normal tradition is for him to help make it) and by the afternoon he couldn't wait any longer to celebrate. Jamie and I were taking out time coming back from the sea/pool and he decided to clean the trailer and do the dishes so all would be in readiness for the celebration.
Papa and Tata will be happy to note that he got his cake. They were so worried we wouldn't provide him with a cake, that they gave him a box cake and powdered sugar just in case. :) I spent hours walking around in the heat and humidity looking to replace a beanie bear (Poopsie) that was taken from our camp in Ixtapan del Oro and finally, for the exorbitant sum of 120 pesos, found a bear. It didn't cut the mustard for Pike so today Jamie found seven bears on EBay and when we get to the states, he'll get his bear. Ellen is LOVING the bear he didn't appreciate. :)
Today it rained. It has been thundering and lightening for the past two days and today we got a really good rainstorm. Puddles around and the temperature dropped about 20 degrees. Amazing.
Anyway, not much to say; we don't do anything but hang around the sea/pool/trailer and I read constantly, hoping Jamie will be getting better. He swears today that he is, in fact, getting better, and tomorrow I hope we can go to Cobá (pretty close-by ruins in the style of Tikal, Guatemala) or an island preserve off the coast of Cancun (no, not Isla Mujeres or Cozumel). Hard to believe life could be so boring here on the Mayan coast. :)