Bruce and Mary have executed their “Escape to México plan” and are now embarking on their month of decompression on the Gulf of México coast just outside Chicxulub Puerto.
Overlooking the Gulf of Mexico in Progreso
I am up at 6:45am on this day in February, 2008, feeling great after a good night’s sleep. I have quit my coffee abstinence with a pot of good old Mexican Joe. I’d quit several months ago in an effort to get my 140/90 blood pressure down. I know I’m in shape and fit, personal trainer that I am. I am confident my BP will come down, here in México.
Our first morning we must walk the beach and we do so. The sand is coarser than the sugar sand of the Caribbean coast but finer than the pacific coast and the ocean is greenish blue and a little murky, not the crystal clear aquamarine we’ve enjoyed in Playa del Carmen or Cancun, but it will certainly do. The coastline is fully developed with old and new beach houses of every style and painted in vivid Mexican hues. The only thing they all share is their concrete construction. We meet some neighbors on the beach, French speaking Canadians (we will find that 9 of 10 English speakers here on the coast are Canadians) who have been doing extensive remodeling, having made, by their estimation, 30 trips to Home Depot in Mérida. When I ask of their transportation, it seems they think it is a good deal to rent a car for the three months they are here for $2100US. Okay. We take our leave to get ready for Jaromey’s orientation tour and grocery run.
We sit in the shade, in 90 degrees, and watch Jaromey pull into the gravel parking lot in her little red Ford Fiesta. We quickly tell her that the construction next door, which was an issue on the ride here last night, was no problem this morning. Little did we know that they just hadn’t gotten to the 150 DB tile cutting stage, yet.
We cruise into Progreso via Chicxulub’s main road, a very colorful ride that strays only a block or two from the ocean. We find that Chicxulub blends into Progreso and not even Jaromey is sure where one begins and the other ends. Suddenly we find ourselves in downtown Progreso, a port city of 50,000 souls and Jaromey is weaving in and out of this crazy Mexican traffic, which I have no desire to ever drive in, while she is conducting a flawless travelogue. She points out the best internet café, the bus depot, several fun joints, favorite restaurants, and at my request a popular gym in town.
We stop at La Habana, a wifi restaurant right on the malecon and break for a late lunch. Jorge, who becomes our friend over the next month, gives us the access code and we’re on the internet with our laptop. I quickly fire off emails to the family to let them know we’re in one piece and then join the women in conversation. I inquire into Jaromey’s background and this fascinating woman, fluent in three languages, takes us on a journey that begins in Ottawa with a successful hair weaving business for cancer patients to exotic family trips that would find their two boys playing soccer with the locals in the Sahara desert to a stint teaching English in South Korea with the boys mainstreaming in a local school. In 2003 she ended up in Playa Del Carmen. For cost of living purposes she made her way here to Progreso. Her property management business started with the simple offer to look after a house for a friend. Now she handles 33 properties.
The bill comes and before I settle up I ask for some tip advice. Jaromey says 10% for everything and don’t over-tip, as it is a disservice to the locals. She goes on to explain that over-tipping will cause service providers to ignore locals in an effort to solicit gringo business. Works for me.
Jaromey whisks us out to the Wal-Mart owned Bodega Aurerra, at the edge of town next to the highway. We stock up on beans, rice, peppers, tomatoes, papayas, mangos, jicama, and most importantly, tequila and beer. Everything is really cheap, except beer! That deserves its own post which it will get, later. Mary and Jaromey chat all the way back to the condo with no clue then, of the part they would play in each other’s lives in just a few months.
Back to what we’re calling home now, our beach condo, Mary gets a meal cooking and joins me on the patio to sip cervezas and watch the sun sink into the Gulf of México. Our conversation is relaxed as we recount the day all the way up to chopping up the most brightly colored and succulent red, green, and jalapeno peppers we have ever seen. This first day of our escape to México has been nearly perfect.
Thank you for visiting gentle reader. Please join Bruce and Mary as they explore the Gulf Coast on this, the decompression part of their escape. Soon they will have to prepare for real life, in México. Stay tuned to see if what they learn vacationing can really help set them free in México. All comments are very welcome and will be acknowledged in real time. Adios!