Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Grandma Duty


My gratitude blog post for this final day of November is about being a Grandma.  This morning (and tomorrow morning) I have the pleasure of driving my granddaughter, Reneya, to her math class at the middle school, and then after that's over, driving her to the elementary school.

She's the only one in her class advanced enough to go to a special math class (following in her mother's footsteps!) I'm very proud of both my grandchildren and their many achievements.  But mostly, I am so grateful that I've lived close enough to see them through all their many milestones.

Now my grandchildren are 12 and 10 and don't really need a babysitter any more. Megan told me that where they need the most help is with rides...  unfortunately, driving is one of my least favorite activities, especially in winter.  However, the weather has been unseasonably warm for this time of year, so driving has not been a problem.

It was an easy drive to get Reneya to both her math class and her regular school.  While I was waiting, I got a good start on my steps for the day and was able to explore a new area.  I even had a flamingo siting:

Here's a photo with both my grandchildren and all my children from our Sunday Thanksgiving family celebration:

I am one lucky mother and grandmother!

And so ends November and my gratitude month of blogging. I like this daily practice because it reminds me to be on the lookout every day for things I'm grateful for. 

December will be a busy month with more travel, holiday activities, and I'm even teaching two classes, so I'm not sure if I'll be able to keep this habit up, but I'll try.  It's a definite pick-me-up to highlight something I'm grateful for each day and family is at the top of that list!

Monday, November 29, 2021

Girls Gathering Greatly

Today, my gratitude blog post honors girlfriends! I've posted a couple of other times about my "GGG Group.  Well, tonight was one of our gatherings. Food, drink, and conversation. What could be better?

Thanksgiving week continued tonight with delicious appetizers, main dishes, and desserts brought by this amazing group of ladies. Everyone is energetic, creative, independent, and intelligent.  I love these monthly get togethers where we can talk about anything as we share a meal together.

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Getting a Carpe Diem Tattoo


"Getting a Tattoo" wasn't really on my bucket list until my daughter, Megan, became a tattoo artist. Since "Carpe Diem" is my motto, and Megan designed my original Carpe Diem emblem, I thought it only fitting that she give me that same symbol as a tattoo.

I'd been worrying about the pain, especially on my neck, but I really liked the idea of having the tattoo hidden under my hair except for times when I want it to show with my hair up.

This also was the perfect way to spend the $100.34 that I earned from blogging for the past 15 years. I wanted to spend it on some kind of Carpe Diem experience and getting a tattoo is not only out of my comfort zone (in more ways than one) but it epitomizes Carpe Diem!

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Holiday Lights


Today I'm grateful for the beauty of holiday lights! I don't have a picture of my own house to post right now, but, thanks to my generous housemate, John, it is also decked out for the season! There's just something so magical about Christmas lights.  It's kind of like living in a fairy tale.

Tonight, Scotty and I went to Olde Town Arvada to witness the lighting of the town's Christmas Tree! Check it out!

Friday, November 26, 2021

Scotty Time


Playing Computer Games

It's almost midnight and I've been "binge-playing" computer games with Scotty for hours. I interrupted our game because I didn't want to miss my daily blog post.  Even though hardly anyone reads these posts, I have my little OCD-ish goal to post something I'm grateful for every day in November.

So today I'm posting a quick one about one of the things I'm most grateful for..  the time I get to spend with Scotty.  

Neither one of us particularly like being single, but I have to admit, I love getting undivided attention and unlimited time with my youngest son when he visits.  I love my married kids, too, of course, but I rarely get one-on-one time with them, and I really treasure these visits from Scotty.

He's working on a Electrical Engineering master's program now and I have been reviewing his  thesis and giving him feedback. It's been a very long time since I was in college, but since I got my degree in Electrical Engineering myself, and have experience in editing, it's nice for me to feel like I can provide some input.  And Scotty says my interest, questions, and input have been helpful!

Even though the game-playing seems frivolous, a lot of the games require problem-solving skills, so it's still a good brain workout.

But whether we're pigging out, binge-watching movies, playing games, or discussing the latest political drama, I love spending time with Scotty and feel so grateful for the close relationship I have with my youngest son.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Turkey Trot


2021 Turkey Trot with Scotty

Today I'm thankful to run a final 5K with Scotty! This was probably the 5th of 6th Louisville 5K Turkey Trot I've run and it's always a wonderful Thanksgiving morning tradition. 

2011 Turkey Trot with Matt & Scotty

I gave up running a couple of years ago, but it was really fun to get out this morning with Scotty, and even though we walked for a good part of it, we ran most of the last mile and it felt great!

I've always wanted to do one more 5K after the doctor told me to stop running.  I was going to train for this one and try to do it in under 30 minutes, but Scotty reminded me that I'd be mad at myself if my back started hurting again.  

I knew he was right about that, so instead, I suggested we try and walk fast and see if we could do it in under 40 minutes.

When we had less than a mile left, I suggested he run ahead and video me running in for my last race. It was good to have that feeling one more time of running though a finish line! And I don't have my exact time, but it was under 38 minutes! Nothing to brag about, but well under my 40 minute goal!

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Preparing for Thanksgiving


Tomorrow's Thanksgiving! Scotty's taking the red eye from Ohio and arrives bright and early tomorrow morning, so I need to get some sleep!

I've always been a bit of a traditionalist. Thanksgiving is about family togetherness, eating, laughing, playing games, and gratitude.

However, Thanksgiving has gotten progressively untraditional over the years.  My kids are grown and two of them are married with in-laws..  my grandkids have 7 different grandparents! So for them, trying to see everyone can be stressful. And now with Covid still being a "thing," we are not even considering a great big combined Thanksgiving family get together as we've tried in the past.

I am going to see all my kids and grandkids, though, even if it won't be all together at a "traditional" Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. We have some different family events planned for the week that Scotty's in town, so rather than one dinner, I'll have a whole fun week of celebrating!

To be honest, none of my kids are big turkey people. Even on many of the years we have been together, they've preferred to experiment with some other main course, like goose, or salmon.  Come to think of it, my kids are sort of the opposite of traditionalists. They like to do things differently from year to year. And they are always trying new things. They set a good example for me and I've become more adaptable myself over time.

Even though Scotty and I won't be having a "traditional" Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow, I have been preparing by making some of the dishes that I know he loves..  crab quiche, tuna fish casserole, roasted sweet potatoes, and salmon! And I just read this morning, that the first Thanksgiving probably had a lot of seafood..  so we probably are being much more authentic with our very fishy menu!

So, yeah, we won't be having a huge turkey and cranberry sauce family dinner tomorrow, but if all goes the way I'm hoping, the week will be full of all the parts of Thanksgiving that I value most: family togetherness, eating, laughing, playing games, and gratitude.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Hiking with Mary

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm in the habit of walking at least 10,000 steps every day.  I've written about this often and it's an exercise habit that I really enjoy. 

I0,000 steps is about an hour and a half of walking and if I can get those on a scenic trail, even better! Today I had both the beautiful scenery and good conversation with my friend, Mary, the whole time.

Mary led us to Panorama Point, where this photo was taken, and then we went on further up the mountain for some good views and exercise.

Though it was a little windy, it wasn't too cold and I felt very lucky that we didn't have any ice or snow on the ground, even though we're in the latter half of November!  It's been unseasonably warm and dry this year..  not good news for the skiers or others that are depending on water.  It certainly makes it a lot easier to hike, though, without worrying about ice or snow.

The hike was the perfect length for getting in 10,400 steps and getting back exactly in time for the appointment I made at Xfinity to return equipment for cable service that I no longer get. (This has been something I should have done over a year ago..  I hadn't even realized I was getting charged $6/month for equipment I didn't even know I had!) Anyway, I was happy to get that little errand completed as well!

Today I'm grateful for completed tasks, the health to be able to hike, the beautiful Colorado scenery, and mostly for my friend, Mary, and her wonderful listening and conversation skills!

Monday, November 22, 2021

Resources for Language Learners


Today was one of those really productive days! It was nice and sunny and I listened to Spanish podcasts (Duolingo Spanish and Learn Spanish & Go) for the full 90 minutes I was walking.

Last night I watched the movie I am Sam in Spanish (with English subtitles) on Netflix. It's really cool that I can pick to either listen to them speak in Spanish or have subtitles in Spanish so I can be continually learning as well as enjoying binge-watching a show. 

And while I was on this Spanish immersion roll, I went ahead and used the SpanishDict app to quiz myself with their 1000-word Beginner Spanish. I really like how they repeat any words you miss more often as you continue to go through the flash cards.

I know almost all of the words, but there are still some that I misspell or am continually mixing up, so it's really great to review them until they just become rote.

And, of course, I continued studying in Duolingo, making it Day 990 in my streak. Ten more days until I hit 1000!  

There are lessons and stories, but I especially like the Duolingo stories which always end with an amusing little twist.  "Eddie" is my favorite character. He's a single Dad, the father of "Junior" and he's kind of a dork. (I always feel a bond with dorks! I'm a dork myself, obviously. Only a dork would feel a bond with a fictional dorky character.)

In one of the stories, Eddy and Junior are dancing choreographed dances at a live band concert (I think that band was called Hot Pink from Japan).  Another father was there with his daughter and he was surprised that Eddie was there with his son because he said it was a band for girls.  But Eddie wasn't embarrassed or discouraged. He just said he thought it was for everyone and kept dancing.  In another story, Eddie's ex came into the gym with a hot guy, so Eddie tried to impress them by running fast on the treadmill.  He ended up falling and then was embarrassed. It turns out the hot guy was his ex's gay cousin who thought Eddie was cute.

All these apps are great for vocabulary, grammar, reading, writing, and even listening skills, but the area I have the most trouble with is conversation skills! It's so hard for me to speak with any fluency. However, ConversationExchange is another free app that allows you find a partner who you can practice with! In my case, I'm looking for a native Spanish speaker who wants to learn English.

I had a ConversationExchange partner a couple of years ago, but I was embarrassed at how bad my Spanish was, so we only met a few times.  It's time to try again. I was even able to narrow it down to find people in Costa Rica. Maybe I'll get to meet whoever I pair up with in person when I go out there in January!

I'm just floored by how many wonderful resources are available for learning Spanish, even while I'm here in the US.  Today I'm very grateful to be living in this digital age where there are so many amazing resources available to us for learning!

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Home Sweet Home

 I woke up early this morning so I could enjoy my final walk along the beach at sunrise. It was a cloudy and windy morning, so not as spectacular as other mornings, but still left me with a feeling of awe as I watched the waves crash towards the shore.

My flight home didn't leave until 3pm, so I enjoyed a leisurely morning walking and lounging on a recliner studying my Spanish vocabulary. I'll be in Costa Rica for all of January, so I'm more determined than ever to keep improving my Spanish.

The Cancun airport was a bit of a zoo with long security lines, but I had given myself plenty of time, so the flight home was incredibly stress-free. It was a direct flight, left right on time and there was literally no line going through customs back in Denver.  

I was able to catch the Skyride bus and my friend, Glenn, met me at the Park'n'Ride to give me a ride home for that final last mile. An international travel day has never been so easy! In fact, I wasn't even cold! (One of the difficulties with these winter snowbird trips is that I usually arrive back to the Colorado cold without a winter coat! But my double layer of sweaters worked fine tonight.)

I had a burst of energy and immediately unpacked and put all those damp clothes right into the washer. Ah! A washer and dryer at last! One thing about the humid climate is that, without a dryer, my clothes always were damp and some were taking on a mildew-like odor. I've never been so happy to do laundry!

I've written each of these blog posts very quickly without a bit of creativity or flair. Erma Bombeck would be disappointed. I'd been thinking that perhaps I'd write a book about my snowbird adventures, with Mexico being the first chapter.  However, I've realized this trip has been very devoid of drama! No big adventures, no big problems, no big love interest..  It would be a pretty boring story.

Still.. I'll consider it a writer's challenge to see if I can improve the quality of my blog posts and introduce some kind of conflict or dilemma.  In reality, my only dilemma is trying to stay warm and figure out where I'll eventually retire.

Even though I loved Mexico and will be back, I've ruled out Playa del Carmen as a place to buy a snowbird home.  It seemed like more of a party vacation spot than a retirement spot and, as much as I enjoy international travel, I don't think anywhere outside of the US will ever feel like "home."

The truth is, after living in Colorado for over 27 years, I doubt anywhere else will ever feel like home.  So right now I'm grateful for a wonderful 3-week Mexican vacation, and very grateful for a safe and uneventful trip home for Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Last Night in Mexico - At the Westin Resort & Spa, Cancun

I've had an American Express Bonvoy Credit Card for a number of years that comes with an Anniversary stay at a 5-star hotel. Normally, I'd save that stay for a time I'd be with someone else-- it seems like such a shame to be in a beautiful hotel alone. But if you don't use the free night, you lose it, so I decided to enjoy my final night in Mexico at the Westin Resort & Spa, Cancun.

After enjoying an all-you-can-eat full breakfast at the Marriott I stayed at last night, getting my Covid test and all the paperwork completed for my flight tomorrow, I caught a taxi to the resort.

Even though check-in wasn't until 4pm, they held my luggage, and I was able to enjoy the pools and the beautiful beach. I got my daily 10K+ steps in such an iconic setting and it was a beautiful sunny day. Knowing I'd be back in Colorado tomorrow, I really wanted to savor every bit of the warm sun and beautiful beach.

Did my walk in Cancun along the ocean's shore

At 3pm, there was a fun margarita-making demonstration with free margarita samples! 

Margarita-making demo!

And it got better! I got a room with a beautiful view of the ocean. I can hear the waves while I sleep! The room is huge with a beautiful comfy bed (two actually..) and the big bathroom has a tub and shower. (I do like a relaxing bath!) 

View from my window

I checked Bumble and matched with a good-looking expat! Maybe I'd at least have a date at this romantic place..  I asked if he'd join me for dinner but, alas, he had other plans for tonight.  

Even though I feel a little sad about not being able to share this beautiful experience with someone else, I also feel so grateful that I'm able to experience it myself.  How wonderful to end my trip in such an idyllic setting!

Friday, November 19, 2021

On to Cancun

This morning I left the posh Vidanta resort and took a shuttle up to the Cancun airport. The driver was nice enough to drop me off at the Marriott hotel that I'm staying tonight.  Yes, my last two nights in Mexico are going to be spent using some of my Marriott points.

Since I had so much of the party beach scene while I was in Playa del Carmen, I'm keeping it simple for these last couple of days and just enjoying the ease of hotel life.  Warm weather,  a gym, free breakfast, and a pool. Life is good.

I still got out to my daily 10K steps by exploring the area, but most of the day was spent lazily studying Spanish, catching up on email, and making a couple of calls with peeps back home.

Love Bougainvillea!

Interesting artwork found on my walk

Most of the afternoon hanging out by the pool

The not-so-good news about this hotel is that there is a very loud, unhappy baby in the next door room. My ear plugs have gotten a lot of use on this trip!

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Final day at Vidanta

This morning my ankle had some kind of problem and I thought.. This may be the day I miss my 10K steps!  I limped my way towards the beach and, lo and behold, the pain went away! It was a miracle! I was even able to do Zumba again, and then, later, water aerobics.

I trekked back to the room to shower, change, grab a bite of lunch and get to Texas Hold'em by 2pm. I ended up coming in 3rd and they had free drink tickets for 1rst, 2nd, and 3rd place! Yay! Another free tequila sunrise!

Nancie and I went out to a way-too-expensive dinner at La Cantina, but the food was good and they had the traditional Mexican atmosphere with Latin dancers and singers.  

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Zumba and Tequila Sunrises by the Pool

 Since rain was in the forecast again today, I got out as soon as I could to do my 10K+ walk all around the premises here at the Vidanta resort. I got to the main pool just in time for 10am Zumba! How energizing! It had been awhile since I'd done a Zumba class and I remembered what a great pick-me-up that was!

Amazingly, even though it had been overcast and threatening rain the whole morning, the sun started to come out!

I cashed in on my free drink from my ping-pong win with a tequila sunrise by the pool. Between the heat, the exercise, and no food in my stomach, all it took was one drink for me to feel quite relaxed and happy!

Nancie opted in for water aerobics, but I decided to take advantage of another happy hour drink along with guacamole and chips!

I walked back to the room to shower and change so I wouldn't miss poker again. It turns out they were playing Blackjack today rather than Texas Hold'em.  

I did quite well and, in fact was ahead for the final hand.  Everyone else went all in..  I should have matched the highest bet, but instead I went conservative, which was dumb seeing as it's not like I could cash in my remaining chips...  so, I could've won, but..  instead I came in second.  Oh well. Still a good showing.

After Black Jack, I enjoyed watching the Pool Game antics and playing bingo.  It felt great to have such a relaxing, sunny day!

Logged more than 18K steps today!

Ah, that tequila sunrise tastes good after Zumba!

Water Aerobics


Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Rainy days at Vidanta's Mayan Palace

It's been raining every day lately, here in beautiful Mexico. That usually includes a torrential downpour, which is kind of cool, except if you're outside when it happens.

Last night the big storm came just as Nancie and I entered the (very overpriced) restaurant we were having dinner at. It was a pretty restaurant, but very hard to hear each other talk over the pounding rain.  It let up enough for us to get back to our rooms without getting totally drenched, but unfortunately, rain was in the forecast again today and every day for the rest of my visit out here.

This morning, we had some fun, though, before we got the afternoon showers.

Yay! Flamingos!

A lot of lemurs roam the premises here

Can you see Mr. Crocodile?

That hammock is too waterlogged to get in!

Up close to an iguana

Fun scheduled activities! (But I missed Texas Hold'em today)

Beach Jenga


Nancie and I joined a ping-pong tourney and I won! A free drink was the prize! (Note: We were the only two people in the tournament so we had great odds of one of us winning!) 

I was all excited about a 2pm Texas Hold'em tournament since I've been studying up.  However, at 12:15 we were supposed to go to another "not-a-timeshare" marketing presentation..  another vacation club deal much like the thing I did to get the cheap Xcaret tickets.

We did get a free lunch, but I told them up front, I wasn't interested in a vacation club and that I really wanted to go to the tournament at 2pm.  We'd barely eaten lunch by 2 and the saleswoman had just started her spiel. Nancie said she'd stay and I ran off, but, alas, was too late to join the poker tournament.  They said there'd be another tomorrow, though, so, I'm looking forward to that.

Poor Nancie was stuck for another 2 hours with the sales people. They really don't let you go..

The heavy rains hit again, so the afternoon was pretty much wasted for both of us.  At least we had some morning fun!

Monday, November 15, 2021

Checking into Vidanta Mayan Palace

 Today I moved from the cozy condo in the heart of 5th Avenue to a swanky resort in Playa del Carmen called the Mayan Palace.

I was already maybe an 8 on a scale of 1-10 of being in a touristy location. Now I'm a 10. This is a huge resort and, of course, everyone who is here, is vacationing, so not exactly a "local vibe." Still, it's beautiful and relaxing, and I'm looking forward to the lush surroundings.

About a year and a half ago, my friend, Nancie, asked if I'd want to share a room with her here. She'd found a good deal on VacationClix, so, of course, I accepted. Mexico in winter? Count me in!  We thought for sure Covid would be a thing of the past. Unfortunately, it is not. Fortunately, our trip didn't get cancelled, but there are some restrictions as far as masks indoors, etc. We also have to take a PCR test to get back into the states, but that's fine.  Really, other than wearing masks, I don't notice much of a difference from other vacations. 

I bought myself a pretty purple mask today and a pretty purple sun-dress on 5th Avenue along with a few souvenirs, had a final lunch at the cheap taqueria near my condo along with the daily Haagen-dazs ice  cream that I've been indulging in lately.

After lunch, I caught a taxi and arrived about 25 minutes later to the resort. From there, there was a shuttle to the lobby of the Mayan Palace. The grounds here are full of walking paths, a golf course, several swimming pools, restaurants, and, of course, the beach.  I won't have any trouble getting in 10,000+ steps each day exploring (and inevitably getting lost).

I did a quick little tour of the grounds and now waiting for Nancie to arrive. The days have been overcast and rainy lately, but still warm (at least compared to Colorado!)

I've gotten caught in two massive downpours, though, and my shoes are starting to stink! The clothes and bathing suits that have gotten wet never seem to dry..   As wonderful as it is to "live" right by the beach, I guess it does have its downsides.

I'd originally planned to meet with a realtor out here who was going to show me a condo that was walking distance to the beach. I told her I wanted to see what I could get for $200K and this one was $195K.

 However,  I decided to rule out Playa del Carmen as a place to buy property.  The culture really is much more of a younger, party crowd.  I love that there's a lot of diversity and people from all over the world, but most of them are vacationing, so it would be tough, I think, to foster any long-term friendships or relationships.

Still, I could see continuing a traditional vacation to Mexico every year!

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Last night in Quinta Avenida Condo

The inside of my Airbnb

I love listening to the storm tonight as I'm snug and dry in the condo. I can still hear the party sounds from the bar next door, but the storm also is helping deflect the usual loud party that's always in earshot.

Though I'm leaving this Airbnb tomorrow, I'll still be in Playa del Carmen. I'm just moving up to a fancier resort. Nancie found a good deal on TravelZoo and asked if I'd share it with her, so that's what prompted this whole trip.

Even though I've been living in relative comfort, my life is about to get 'upgraded'! I saved the luxury part for the end of the vacation, but I feel like I've already taken part in much more luxury than usual..  I've eaten a lot of delicious food, splurged on ice cream almost daily, and have had more than my share of laying around.  I'm feeling decadent and lazy.  For the past couple of days, I've even taken afternoon siestas!

I think the sleeping pills I've been taking at night have made me sleepier all the time.  Every day, when I've come home from my 10K+ walk, I've felt lethargic and haven't done much of anything.  Here it is 7:30pm and I can barely keep my eyes open!

I know I'll still be able to go to the ocean at the new place, but today I packed a lot in, knowing it would be my last day here.

I feel so lucky to be enjoying this wonderful warm weather in November! I don't know if it will always be Playa del Carmen, but I think Mexico in November is going to become a new tradition for me.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Goddess Connection Games


I'm always on the lookout for new experiences, so when I saw an announcement for Goddess Connection Games on the Playa del Carmen Expat Girls Group, I decided to check it out!  Not only would this be an opportunity to do something new, but I'm always interested in meeting people and fostering connection.

Julia, the hostess and facilitator, had been through a transformation of sorts and is interested in helping women discover their talents.  Since I've toyed with the idea of hosting retreats, I was curious about the activities / games.

There were only 5 of us, and Julia admitted to being a little disappointed at the relatively low turnout. I know that feeling! But even with only 5 women, I found the afternoon interesting and enlightening.

The "games" were not really traditional games, but more sharing with one another.  For example, the first exercise was one where you paired up and one person spent three minutes telling the other all the things she loved about herself.  Then the other would reflect back what she heard.  

We all had the chance to partner with one another throughout the afternoon with various exercises that allowed us to open up and be vulnerable about our lives.

I think all the women who came to this event were people who like to try new things, were open-minded, and non-judgmental.  It makes sense because the description of the event would resonate with that personality type.

I felt a little out-of-place being the only "older" woman, a clear generation older than all the rest. However, I don't know if that's just my own insecurity. None of them seemed bothered by my age and they certainly treated me as an equal.  I really have to work on not worrying about age!

Really, overcoming our insecurities was sort of the theme of the whole event. We have to be free to be ourselves without fears.  I think age can help with that.  I have become less worried about what others think as I've gotten older..  but partly that's because I think I've become more invisible as I've gotten older.  There really isn't anyone I'm trying to impress anymore.  It's freeing but in some ways, I feel like I'm not even in the game.

In any case, the afternoon was an interesting exercise of discovery of others and self. 

Friday, November 12, 2021

Meeting People

Love my daily walk on the beach

A lot of police out today

5th Avenue is always lively

My week of private Spanish lessons has come to an end. I'm about half-way through my time here and one of the challenges for myself has been to talk to people every day, preferably in Spanish.

Today, I met 3 people: 1) Alberto, who turned out to be a priest, 2) Jose, a 24-year-old guy who kept trying to convince me to have a beer with him, and 3) Christine, a young woman from the UK who's working out here through January.

I still have mixed feelings about being out here alone, but it does help push me to meet other people.  Christine was eating alone at the restaurant that I went to for dinner, so I asked if I could join her. We had a great conversation and she told me about Yoga on the beach tomorrow.

Meeting strangers is getting easier all the time, especially in a place like this, that just seems like one big party that we're all attending.

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Going Dancing


One of the things on my todo list at all my Snowbird spots is to "Go Dancing." I love to dance, but this is definitely a stretch goal when I'm in a new place and don't know anyone.  I'm also much more comfortable with swing dance than latin dances, but, hey, I can do Zumba, and I've wanted to learn the bachata.

When this ad was posted on a Playa del Carmen group that included dance lessons, I thought.. this is it! I bravely walked to the Palm Hotel ready to shake my latin booty and found out that they had changed the event's time and location due to rain.  

The new location was further away and meant I'd have to risk getting lost at night in Mexico, but I'd already mustered the courage to do this, so I didn't want to back out. 

Once I got to the new location, Buzos, I found one of the dance instructors and she welcomed me.  Many more people showed up, most of them young, attractive and ready to dance. 

The instructors gave us a demo of the dance we would be doing:

Wait. What?

I'm supposed to do that sexy dance? As if it wasn't awkward enough that I was the only old, white lady who was a complete newbie..  and I'm supposed to dance like that with a stranger?

Well, believe it or not, there were more men than women in this dance class (that never happens back home at the Avalon).  Also, no one was paired up, so women rotated every minute or so throughout the class. Despite my awkwardness, each dance partner was very friendly and accepting.  By the end of the lesson, I was dancing just like the woman in this video!  (OK, maybe not exactly like her, but close!) 

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Getting to know German


My Spanish tutor, German

It's taking me years to learn Spanish, but it only took me a day to get to know German! Yes, as I mentioned yesterday, my new Spanish tutor's name is, "German" (pronounced Hair-maan).  Today was my second day learning from him and I really enjoy the individualized practice with conversations.

I have to admit, it's frustrating that I still have so much trouble understanding German, even when he's speaking slowly. And I'm even worse at speaking. Sometimes I think studying Spanish is a just a futile exercise.  I don't think I'll ever become fluent unless I live in a Spanish-speaking country and really force myself to interact almost exclusively with locals. 

Still, I don't want to give up now.  At this point in life, the thing that matters most about any goal is that I'm having fun and enjoying the journey.  Even if I don't become fluent, I am enjoying getting better.  I just have to try not to be frustrated or impatient or embarrassed by all my mistakes.

Anyway, German is a fun and patient maestro. Even though I don't understand him half the time, I enjoy listening to his stories because he's quite the story-teller with his expressions, voices, and mannerisms.

Here's a little video with us speaking Spanish (unfortunately, it doesn't include the aforementioned funny expressions..  maybe I'll record one of his stories tomorrow.)

Tuesday, November 09, 2021

Learning Spanish with a Tutor

Today's blog post is going to be a quick one because I'm tired.  But I promised myself I'd write a blog post every day in November, thinking that it should be easy given my time is completely my own.  Here I am with time to do anything I want, yet I'm still having a hard time finding time to write a simple blog post!

Similarly, I wanted to spend time every day speaking Spanish while I was in Mexico. This turned out to be more difficult than expected because..  I'm still really bad at Spanish!  Here in Playa del Carmen just about everyone knows English, so as soon as it's obvious that I don't know Spanish well, people speak in English.  However, I've been telling people that I want to practice Spanish, and they are very accommodating. And even though they usually rattle off some very fast Spanish that I can hardly understand, I usually get the gist. The good news is,  I'm a lot better than I was last year.  The bad news is, I'm not nearly as good as I want to be.

Today, I got a private tutor, German, who I met with from 8-10am this morning. I really liked our session and I could understand everything German was saying.  We spoke only in Spanish and even though I know my grammar was all wrong, it was great just getting the practice of speaking and listening to a native speaker.

Then I got the opportunity, once again, tonight.  My friend, Jack, is getting private Spanish conversation practice with a native speaker, Maria, from Columbia, and he invited me to join along on his session with Maria tonight.

It's a little ironic that while I'm here in Mexico, I'm speaking Spanish over a Zoom call with a friend from the US and his tutor in Columbia.  It goes to show you that in today's world, we are able to learn and practice a language from anywhere!

Both German and Maria spoke very slowly, using easy vocabulary, and enunciating their words clearly... not at all like the "real world." And still, I didn't understand them completely,  but I know the more I practice listening and speaking the easier it will get.