Friday, April 28, 2017

“Long live Art, Love and Freedom!” Muralist, Barbara Siebenlist

Mural across from Casa Sirena Hotel 
Barbara describes herself as a nomad, a self-taught painter, a tattoo artist and muralist. 

Her creations on Isla Mujeres are all vastly different and stunningly beautiful pieces of art, many containing a message from the artist to the viewer.



Photo provided by Barbara Siebenlist 


One painting is splashed across the white, curved building that overlooks the malécon, across the street from Casa Sirena Hotel. It is an eye-catching collage of underwater creatures, land inhabitants and two dark-skinned beauties. To my eye the partially submerged goddess on the right represents mother earth, with fish swimming around her shoulders and lizards adorning her hair. 

New mural on Poc Na Hostel - L. Lock photo
Another mural with a diving theme flows along the street-side wall of Poc Na Hostel. 

Fish, jellyfish and sharks float past the divers. The ocean inhabitants swim among discarded plastic bottles, aluminum beer cans and plastic bags. 
Poc Na mural - Photo from Barbara Siebenlist


In the centre of one diver’s regulator is the green-arrowed symbol for recycling. Clever!

Two other murals decorate the inside refuge for stray kittens and the main entrance at Clinica Veterinaria, locally known as Delfino’s.  Grinning cats, big eared pups, and wide-eyed kittens play amongst colourful wildflowers and butterflies. Their expressions seem to say, “Please give me a home and love me forever.”

Clinica Veterinaria - L. Lock photo

Born in the city of Viale, Entre Rios, Argentina, Barbara’s passion for art began as a young child, it was her form of refuge, her secret obsession. 

After finishing her high school education, Barbara went on to study medicine. 

With little time for anything but studying and classes, Barbara let her artistic talents lie dormant for a number of years. 

In 2008, around the time that she first discovered Isla Mujeres, she created her first island mural for the Poc Na Hostel.

Clinica Veterinaria - L. Lock photo

For Barbara capturing images on murals allows her to convey her message to the public. Her creations are not locked inside museums or art galleries for a few people to enjoy. They are outside, available to all who pass by. Her paintings help her to continue traveling, discovering new stories, and ideas for future murals.

In a month she will be leaving Isla again, going on a trip.  But as she says, “I never go, I always come back.”

We’ll be waiting to see what’s next from Barbara Siebenlist and her dazzling creations.


Hasta Luego  
Lynda & Lawrie 




Available on Amazon e-books $2.99 USD
by Lynda L. Lock



Treasure Isla is a humorous Caribbean adventure set on Isla Mujeres, a tiny island off the eastern coast of Mexico. Two twenty-something women find themselves in possession of a seemingly authentic treasure map, which leads them on a chaotic search for buried treasure while navigating the dangers of too much tequila, disreputable men, and a killer. And there is a dog, a lovable rescue-mutt.

Trouble Isla is the upcoming sequel .... and fingers-crossed will be ready for launch by August 2017.  Cheers Lynda 

Friday, April 21, 2017

The evolution of Bobo’s almost gourmet Bar & Grill

Bobo's Bar & Grill on Matamoras in Centro
Bobo’s Bar & Grill started as a pocket-sized, take-out location on Isla Mujeres; a place with fish so fresh it was swimming an hour before it hit the plate, and chips so yummy we couldn’t stay on our diets.

Now it’s a two-level eatery that spills out on to the street, with a quirky wooden sign ‘torn’ in half. 

On one building the sign reads Bo, and on the adjacent building Bo’s. The sign is a humorous improvisation to placate a neighbour.

Cocktail time with friends
In the summer of 2009, Brian Kerr leased the former location of Lolo Rapido on Matamoras Avenue in Centro. Employed as a wine sommelier at Sutton Place in Vancouver BC, Brian discovered this little piece of paradise while on vacation. He decided to take the plunge, to be an entrepreneur. Isn’t that every man’s fantasy? To be self-employed on a tropical island in the Caribbean Sea?

In the beginning the business was primarily take-out, until Brian managed to squeeze a couple of tables and eight chairs along the edge of the narrow, busy street.  Then he expanded to a neighbouring property to include a bar with additional seating, and the two-part Bobo’s sign. 

The newest expansion - upper level
A year later Ben Coleman and his partner Vicki Dupuy became entwined with island life. The boy from Birmingham Alabama and the girl from New Orleans had originally met at a Saint’s football game in her home town.  

Both worked for ATT, Ben in outside sales and Vicki as a manager.  Frequent visitors to Isla Mujeres, and regular patrons at Bobo’s they struck up a friendship with Brian Kerr.

One Sunday afternoon while immersed in the warm Caribbean water at Playa Norte, near Fenix Restaurante, Vicki asked Ben that life-changing question.

“Why can’t we live here six months a year?”

Almost gourmet!
Becoming partners with Brian Kerr in 2013, Ben and Vicki moved to Isla Mujeres and became full-time islanders. Bobo’s Bar & Grill went through another transformation. 

The rooftop junk-collecting, storage-area was converted into comfortable open-air seating. More stools were added along the upper edge giving patrons a view of the action on Matamoras Avenue.  The kitchen was re-done, and the downstairs bar enlarged, just a little.

Next, mixologist Lory Manzo was hired to update the beverage menu and train the bar staff. Bright and bold murals were painted by islander Barbara Siebenlist Palomar.  

Summertime special drink

And on Wednesdays and Fridays live music is provided by The Caribbean Beats Band.  With the recent addition of Chef Nick Altringer from Minneapolis, the modest little fish and chip take-out has become in Ben’s words, almost gourmet, and a very happening place. 

Check out their signature drinks and their tasty new menu.

We’re still fans of the fresh fish and chips.

Hasta Luego
Lynda & Lawrie




Summertime a muddled cucumber and vodka-based drink with a splash of Tabasco, adding extra spice and flavor.  It has become a favorite for Bobo’s regulars.



Fresh and Tasty it is a muddled mint and cucumber with brown sugar, vodka-based drink, topped with sprite and soda water.  


~

Treasure Isla - perfect read for a rainy day.


Treasure Isla is a humorous Caribbean adventure set on Isla Mujeres, a tiny island off the eastern coast of Mexico. Two twenty-something women find themselves in possession of a seemingly authentic treasure map, which leads them on a chaotic search for buried treasure while navigating the dangers of too much tequila, disreputable men, and a killer. And there is a dog, a lovable rescue-mutt.

$2.99 USD on Amazon e-books.  
Free App available for download, to read on any electronic device.

Friday, April 14, 2017

The Silly Social Side of Paradise

Turquoise water and sunny skies  
Isla Mujeres has an eclectic mix of residents. 

There are the folks who were born on this island nestled in the Caribbean Sea, as were their parents, grand-parents and several generations before them. 

There are the long-time resident expats, arriving in the early 1970’s to add their flavour to the island mix. A number of the younger expats married islanders and started families of their own. There are tourists who return year after year for an annual holiday, some for over thirty years.  And there are the newbies, the folks who have just discovered Isla Mujeres.

Mary & Charlie 2017, Bloody Mary Goodbye Party at Jax
In amongst the mix are a few hundred foreigners that have lived here part-time, or full-time for ten, fifteen or twenty-odd years. 

Many of us have become friends as we sort out the intricacies of living in a foreign country. Learn the basics of the Spanish language. Or navigate the laws and by-laws of the municipality, the state, and country.


One of the many Super Bowl parties at Charlie & Mary's

Right from our first year on Isla, Charles and Mary Simpson made us very welcome in their island home.  Well-known for their Bloody Mary Sunday morning get-togethers, or their spectacular Super Bowl Pig Roasts, Charlie and Mary were a fun-loving fixture at every gathering. 

Now, after eighteen-years of island life they are off on a new adventure. As of this week they have sold their home and are moving to Florida, closer to their children and grand-children.

Lawrie, Steve and Charlie - going fishin'
We will always have great memories of both Charlie and Mary. 

Memories of deep sea fishing on Charlie’s boat. Calm seas, with not a breath of wind, gorgeous sunrises, sea turtles, dolphins, and tiny iridescent-blue flying fish skimming over the water ahead of the boat. 

And we fished, reeling in fat Tunas, sleek Wahoo, golden coloured Dorado, and Rainbow Runners. The first fish might be caught at nine in the morning – and a minute later the first cold beer would be cracked open.

Charlie being the girl on their team
We have wacky photos of Charlie wearing a woman’s shawl as a skirt. His Cornhole bean-bag team, made up of he and Ron Berge, was required to have one woman and one man. Charlie circumvented the rules with panache. 
There are photos of Mary and Charlie in Hallowe’en costumes sprinkled throughout our collection as well as pictures of Charlie’s 80th birthday, and Mary’s 75th.  

Mary’s trademark is her beautifully coordinated outfits. I have a chest of drawers full of shorts and t-shirts. 

Mary has dresses, shoes, shawls, and jewelry all organized by colour and style into easily accessible outfits. 

Mary and Charlie at Villa la Bella party
And who hasn’t noticed Charlie’s gold fishhook piercing his left earlobe?  

Our social gatherings will certainly be a little less colourful with their departure.

Your many island friends wish you fair winds and following seas.  You will be missed.

Hasta Luego
Lynda & Lawrie



The Morning Shoppers - Charlie, Gary, Dave, Barney, Lawrie























~

Treasure Isla 

$2.99 USD on Amazon E-Books

Where do you think the gold might be buried?


Treasure Isla is a humorous Caribbean adventure set on Isla Mujeres, a tiny island off the eastern coast of Mexico. Two twenty-something women find themselves in possession of a seemingly authentic treasure map, which leads them on a chaotic search for buried treasure while navigating the dangers of too much tequila, disreputable men, and a killer. And there is a dog, a lovable rescue-mutt.



Friday, April 7, 2017

Meanwhile back on Isla Mujeres Mexico ….

 
Dinner with family at Rolandi's Isla Mujeres March 2017
We’ve been away from our little beach house on Isla Mujeres a lot lately.  

First we spent three weeks wine-touring in Argentina, returning mid-March, and then we were off again for a week to John and Maia’s wedding in British Columbia Canada.





Sparky - laying on my lap when we returned home 
Sparky our almost-famous, rescue dog is still miffed at us for disappearing not one once, but twice this year. He had two fabulous sets of babysitters while we were traveling, but now that we are back he’s demanding a lot of attention.   

In mid-February to early March the weather in Argentina was warm much like Mexico as they were still in late summer going into early autumn.  

British Columbia Canada on the other hand, in late March going into early April, was cold damp, and chilly as the temperature struggled to rise above ten degrees Celsius (about fifty on the Fahrenheit scale.)  We’re just not accustomed to the low temperatures anymore! 

Sunset in March on Isla Mujeres
While island friends tortured us with Facebook photos of beautiful, sunny weather we bitched and complained about being cold. 

Our discomfort was partly our own fault for not purchasing the necessary items to bundle up and stay warm. 

Lawrie wore sandals the entire time, except for the formal part of the wedding ceremony. 

He was unable to convince his feet that they should be stuffed into stiff, unyielding shoes. I kicked off my shoes at the wedding once the dinner was served.  What a pair of beach-bums we have become.



Lawrie the MC at John and Maia's wedding - in sandals

With only two days of sunshine in amongst the fog, rain and drizzle, John and Maia got lucky for their special day. Sunshine!  

And a week later the day before we left was also sunny and slightly warmer.  

Everywhere we went people were hidden under cozy jackets, scarves, and hats. One restaurant provided fake-fur wraps to patrons who wanted to have lunch outside on their patio. 

Fake-fur wraps for outside patio
At the end of the day photographers gathered along the ocean shoreline, snapping pictures of the spectacular sunset similar to the eye-popping colours of an Isla Mujeres sundown. 

However, we have never seen Isla’s well-known photographer, Tony Garcia, bundled in quilted jackets, insulated pants, and waterproof boots!



Tony Garcia - Frank Papak photo


Meanwhile back on Isla Mujeres the temperatures were flirting with the lower thirties Celsius (mid to high eighties Fahrenheit).  Hot, sunny, and breezy! 

Now we know what it feels like when we torture our northern friends with pictures of people wearing shorts and bathing suits in February. 

Doesn’t mean we will stop tormenting you, it just means we can empathize a tiny little bit…maybe, until we forget what it was like.

And as a last ‘gotcha’ our Air Canada flight from Vancouver to Cancun did not have heat inside the aircraft. 

Cold! Oh, my goodness at the end of the five and a half hours we were darn near frozen solid. When the doors opened on the aircraft we were truly happy to be back in the land of warmth and sunshine.

Lawrie - happy to be back in the land of sunshine

Despite the chilly weather we wouldn’t have missed John and Maia’s wedding for anything.  

It was a beautiful ceremony connecting two extraordinarily happy people and their blended families.   


John & Maia Lock - We wish you endless happiness.


Hasta Luego
Lynda & Lawrie

~

Who's going to find the treasure first?



$2.99 USD on Amazon e-books

Treasure Isla is a humorous Caribbean adventure set on Isla Mujeres, a tiny island off the eastern coast of Mexico. Two twenty-something women find themselves in possession of a seemingly authentic treasure map, which leads them on a chaotic search for buried treasure while navigating the dangers of too much tequila, disreputable men, and a killer. And there is a dog, a lovable rescue-mutt.


Friday, March 31, 2017

Travellin’ to paradise, past and present

UltraMar docks at Puerto Juarez on the mainland
Living on an island in the Caribbean Sea, there is only one way to get there – by boat. Be it passenger vessel, car ferry or private yacht, we all have to cross the water. Okay, one or two lucky people have small private planes that are permitted to land in the seldom-used, almost-defunct airport. But the rest of us peasants cross by boat; big boats, little boats, private boats or commuter boats.

New boat the Bo Hengy II - Doris Nielsen Nickel photo

Every couple of years we see a new addition to the fleet of passenger ferries bringing people to this little piece of paradise. 

The vessels are getting bigger and bigger to accommodate the increase in visitors. With the newest arrival the Bo Hengy (presumably pronounced Bo Henry) each crossing can transport 408 visitors to Isla Mujeres.


Photo Credit unknown, posted on Recuerdos de Isla Mujeres!
Before the UltraMar started business the only passenger service to the island was provided by Ausencio Magaña and his family members. Their fleet included the La Carmita, a banana-shaped boat that rolled and wallowed in the seas creating havoc with the tender stomachs of landlubbers and tourists. The preferred place for locals to ride was in the stern, well away from any seasick travellers. 

2002 Caribbean Miss
The next Magaña ship was La Novia del Mar and then the popular La Sultana del Mar.  A fourth boat, La Dama Elegante, was equipped with a six foot (2 metres) by two foot (60 cm) glass insert for viewing the sea life. A sunken shrimp boat, the Blanca Beatriz was rescued from near Isla Contoy, and refurbished. Although that vessel was primarily reserved for circumnavigating the island with sightseers.  

In 2002 our first trip to Isla was on the Caribbean Miss owned by the Magaña family.  

This modest craft held maybe forty people and a bit of cargo. I have never been sea-sick, but the combined diesel fuel vapours and the slight rolling motion pushed my tolerance to the limit.  


2005 UltraMar passenger ferry
When we returned in 2005 the first UltraMar catamaran was in service with interior seating for fifty or sixty people.

2009 saw the arrival of a larger catamaran for UltraMar with upper deck seating and a capacity of about 200 passengers. 

Three larger boats holding up to 265 people arrived in 2011 with flashy blue underwater LEDS lighting up the nighttime crossings.

Flashy underwater LEDs on UltraMar boat

Still not enough to deal with the thousands visitors, UltraMar put the Bo Hengy into service this week.  The company didn’t even have time to paint the new ship in the distinctive blue and yellow corporate colours.

This week is spring break for many schools in Canada, USA and Mexico. The lineups will are huge, but with the new larger ship in service hopefully traveling back and forth to the mainland won’t be a problem. Although we typically hide out at our beachfront home during this crazy time of year.

We have sand, sun, and cold beer all within easy reach. No need to leave home.

Hasta Luego
Lynda & Lawrie




~

Treasure Isla



Treasure Isla is a humorous Caribbean adventure set on Isla Mujeres, a tiny island off the eastern coast of Mexico. Two twenty-something women find themselves in possession of a seemingly authentic treasure map, which leads them on a chaotic search for buried treasure while navigating the dangers of too much tequila, disreputable men, and a killer. And there is a dog, a lovable rescue-mutt.

$2.99 USD  E-book edition available on Amazon


Friday, March 24, 2017

Eating and drinking our way across dog-friendly Argentina

Park pooch at San Rafael Argentina
We spent a week exploring in Argentina, sightseeing and eating our way across the province of Mendoza. There are amazing wineries, fabulous restaurants, and dogs of every size, shape, colour and variety.

Using the Petit Suter Hotel in San Rafael, as our base we investigated the surrounding area. Situated in the semi-arid southern region of Mendoza province, San Rafael has a population of around 170,000 inhabitants. It’s a vibrant community with lots of amenities including several gourmet restaurants. A wide and delicious selection of only Argentinian wine is sold in every corner store. No imports allowed.

Wine, wine and more wine!
While exploring the various communities we saw a well-balanced interaction between the residents and the street dogs. Strays usually stake out their territory by napping in doorways of restaurants, stores and gas stations. 

Many locals stop to give the dogs a bit of food and a pat on the head. The snowy winter months would be harder for the animals but right now the strays are in good condition, with no sign of scrawny moms scavenging for food so that they can feed their babies. This is one of the most dog-friendly countries we have ever experienced.

Gas station dog gets a handout
As mentioned in our previous articles the roads in Argentina are well-maintained, but directional signage is very scarce. It makes for interesting daytrips. 

We’d head out with a destination in mind, only to find ourselves in a completely different hamlet. 

As long as there was flavourful food and tasty drinks at the end of the adventure we were happy.


Plate-sized hamburger

In one instance we headed south-west from San Rafael towards El Nihuil via highway #173 and instead arrived in the town of General Alvear on highway #143 a good bit east of our original destination. That gave us a good laugh while we searched for a local restaurant that was open for lunch on a Saturday. 

Again we stopped at the corner gas station, asking for suggestions. Just a block away was a local eatery serving dinner-plate sized hamburgers and litre bottles of Andes beer. 

The food was tasty and the owners friendly. The street dogs politely waited for handouts.


Another afternoon, Carlos, the owner of the Petit Suter Hotel suggested that we drive twenty kilometers west to the next village Veintecinco de Mayo (25th of May) and have lunch at his favourite restaurant, the Villa Bonita. The route was fairly straightforward enabling us to find the eatery without traversing the Andes in search of the village. 

We enjoyed a hearty meal of meat, stewed and covered with a pastry crust. 

Hi!  Want to share with me?
My body was craving dark green veggies – broccoli, spinach, and asparagus. Lawrie, on the other hand, was as happy as a pig-in-poop with the menu choices of meat, meat and more meat.

I bundled up the left-over beef and carried it back to the gas station dog near our hotel. He was a very happy mutt that day. 

A few days later we were headed back north to Mendoza City, the past week having passed in a blur of food and wine. 

On our way north we veered into the Salentein winery for one last chance at purchasing our favourites. On the off-chance we asked if we could have lunch in the restaurant. We hadn’t thought to make the normally required reservation. 

Salentein Winery lunch.
Fortunately for us the young woman who manages the bar-restaurant remembered us from the previous week. She said she could squeeze us in – yippee!  

Another amazing lunch served with delicious wines and an outstanding view of the snow-capped Andes Mountains.

It was a darn great way to end our adventures.

Hasta Luego from Paradise
Cheers Lynda & Lawrie





~


How would you locate the hoard of jewels and gold buried on Isla Mujeres?



Treasure Isla is a humorous Caribbean adventure set on Isla Mujeres, a tiny island off the eastern coast of Mexico. Two twenty-something women find themselves in possession of a seemingly authentic treasure map, which leads them on a chaotic search for buried treasure while navigating the dangers of too much tequila, disreputable men, and a killer. And there is a dog, a lovable rescue-mutt.

$2.99 USD Kindle e-books on Amazon