the places I visit on the island paradise where I live

Nov 1, 2019

Day of the Dead

Pan de Muerto for the Day of the Dead at Chedraui
One of the many reasons I love living here is most things are predictable. I love the rhythm of the different holidays for different months. Carnival, Easter, Independence Day, Day of the Dead, and finally Christmas with lots more holidays thrown in between.

Walking through Chedraui this afternoon, the guys were setting up for the Day of the Dead festivities. Out comes the Pan de Muerto and the candles to honor those who have gone before us. It is a happy, but solemn time as we contemplate our loved ones who have left this life. 

Candles on display at Chedraui

It coincides with our Halloween, so I had to assume they have the same roots, so I did a quick wiki search and sure enough, Halloween is the day before All Saint's Day and is the Day to remember the hallows, or saints - to honor the recently departed. More info on the history of Halloween can be found here. But how many of us knew that? To me, Halloween was more about trick-or-treating, decorating, carving pumpkins and playing pranks. I had a vague sense of its larger meaning but never really thought about it much.

I love that living in Mexico, I get to know about the roots of the traditions. Christmas is not Xmas and Halloween retains its religious significance. On our local Cozumel Parks and Tours Facebook page, I found this ....

Photo courtesy of Cozumel Parks and Tours
with this description ...

We celebrate the Day of the Dead to remember our friends and family even when they're gone, we prepare their altar with their pictures, favorite flowers, toys and food to let them know their essence will always be in our hearts and minds.

We also get to eat Mucbil pollo. In the Yucatan, Dia de los Muertos is called Hanal Pixan and we eat a traditional dish made from corn and chicken that includes chicken bones inside. The chicken bones represent our dearly departed and we eat it for the Day of the Dead. I love it, even though it sits on the stomach like a ton of bricks. I look forward to going to my sister-in-law's house to have some again this year, just like the last 12 years. 

The link here is in Spanish and is a recipe for Mucbil pollo from Merida.

Jun 6, 2019


Chica I on left 

All dogs know what happens to each other, did you know that? I do because Mariana came to me today in the parking lot. She always comes to see me, you see, but this time it was different. She jumped up and put her arms around me and gave me an honest to God hug. And then she started to whimper. Real low and down in her throat, and I thought she wanted me to comfort her. But she continued to jump up and down and hug me and make noises. I realized she was trying to tell me something, and then it hit me. She was telling me how sorry she was about Chica’s passing. She was trying to comfort me. Even Chaparo came to see me. Now he never leaves his post by the cashier in the lot. Never ever. Mariana continued to jump and next thing I knew, my red shirt was all dirty and my jeans had streaks of mud and when I left, I discovered my left arm was full of scratches, scratches in the shape of two swords crossing one another with a line below. What did it mean? What was Chica trying to tell me?

But let me back up. I am getting ahead of myself. Mariana is a bull terrier with beautiful eyes the color of honey. They were green when she was a baby and she is a real beauty. I wanted so bad to buy her for my mother-in-law when her dog was dying a few years back, but the owner wouldn’t sell her. He would rather leave her to guard the parking lot. The guy who works in the lot told me she has bitten some of the customers, but I find that impossible to believe. I have always loved her, almost as if she is one of my animals reincarnated. That is how close our bond is. She lives in the parking lot where I park my car when I go to the bank, which is almost every day. My name is Luh and I own an interior design and furniture store, a small business with only my husband and me and a few employees to run the place.

Chica passed away last week. She was the runt of the litter, the smallest of six Shar-pei puppies born in our house 13 years ago. The first puppy came when I returned from Burger King one evening, after picking up take out. I got to the gate and my husband ran out and said, “You’re a grandmother.” He really yelled it, but that is the way he gets sometimes. I guess it is the Latin in him. People have compared his accent to Ricky Ricardo from I Love Lucy, but I think that is a little unfair. I understand him perfectly, but we have been together almost twenty years and I understand him and spend lots of time translating his English to others.

I just looked at him, “Liar,” I said. “Now why would you go and tell me something like that?” I had good reason not to believe, as the future mother Alex was standing right behind him at the gate, looking fatter than usual, but other than that, pretty much the same.

But I ran in anyway, bags and sodas in a cardboard box that ended up on the floor with the drinks spilled, running toward the plastic swimming pool we had prepared for the puppies to arrive, almost as precarious as the cardboard box that held our drinks. Now I have to admit, the vet told me not to put in towels, but I had done it anyway. If there is one thing you will learn about me, I don’t listen very well.  It isn’t anything personal. And in between the towels, I heard what sounded like the peeping of a chicken and then a head popped up, all black with its nose smashed down, even looked kind of like a little chick. Legs thrust out with tiny little nails on the end of each precious paw, I watched in wonder as the living creature attempted to move forward. Alex jumped in and I threw the bag of food in the air and jumped in too. Oh my God, it was a living breathing puppy. I really was a grandmother. But before I could have another thought, another puppy started coming out and Alex looked at me. I could tell she wanted me to help her. Panic-stricken, I screamed, “Moises.” And he took over, bless his heart.

He delivered six puppies in total, broke and opened every sac, cleaned them up. Alex did a really crappy job of cutting the cords. Well, maybe she didn’t try at all. We ended up using a scissors. The first puppy was bigger than the rest and black. The second was fawn, but the third puppy was very small and did not move.  Moises couldn’t get her to breathe. I called Dr. Julio on his cell and he was at the house in five minutes. He grabbed her by the legs and tossed her outward. Whack and out flew something from the puppy’s mouth. He explained later she had fluid in her lungs. Small and delicate, barely moving, we named her Marie Antoinette, but for most of her life we called her Chica. She was so small, but she was a fighter.

A few hours later, six puppies slept in the swimming pool, but as the hours went by and they woke up to feed, I knew we were in trouble. Their little nails and Alex’ much bigger nails scratched the sides of the pool and we heard a big swoosh, as the pool collapsed. I jumped in to hold the sides as the air went out, afraid that the falling plastic would suffocate the tiny puppies. Moises made a dog bed from a cardboard box and put in a call to the carpenter.

“He needs to build a better house for these puppies,” I said, as we transported them to their cardboard home for the night.

Dec 30, 2018

Dzul Ha Memory & Happy New Year

Dzul Ha photo from Denise Shannon
Sometimes the end of year brings back nostalgic memories. Today I saw a few photos posted on Facebook by Denise Shannon of one of our favorite old haunts. It was called Dzul Ha and back in the day, it was a great spot for lying by the beach, a few drinks and a beautiful snorkel experience. You won't find that place anymore, as now it is the location of the Money Bar.

The difference between then and now on Cozumel is significant. Those of us who have been around twenty years or more remember a much different island than when we arrived. Cruise ships one day a week, laid back places for local families to enjoy the beach on Sundays, waiters we all knew by name at every place. The old Carlos and Charlie's, Coconuts (thanksfully is still pretty much the same, thank God) and Dzul Ha. 

Back then the local people were mostly from the Yucatan Peninsula. If they had grown up on the island, they still had family in Merida, Valladolid or other Yucatan towns. Women still wore the traditional Mayan dress with the pretty slip that showed from underneath. We had no OXXO's or 7 Elevens, but instead enjoyed small mom and pop abarrotes at every corner. We knew each other by name.

I called it Mexican Mayberry, as there was definitely a party line about what went on. We couldn't go out on a Saturday night, without everybody discussing it on Sunday - what we wore, where we went. When I brought my Mercedes from Miami, it was the talk of the town.

I miss those days. I can say a lot of things are better. They are. Remember the roads were impassable in October when the rains came, with so many pot holes in the roads.  But the sense of comradery and family values were more apparent. Children were delighted with small toys. People smiled and spoke to one another everywhere.

We still experience this Cozumel in a lot of local places, but the island has grown. Cruise ships have been the most defining thing that has changed the island. Most of the small abarrotes stores are gone. The island is full of 20 to 30 year olds from all over the country and all over the world.

So on this end of year, I say Happy New Year. I wonder what the new years ahead will bring. But I do want to shed a tear for those things from the past that brought me so much joy, like Dzul Ha.

Mar 31, 2018

Coconuts and More

Susan, Jerry and I
It has been an absolute age since I posted on either of my blogs. I can't exactly tell you why. I have plenty of material. I guess it is just frame of mind and having them for so long, I needed a break. But we have had visitors to the island over the last few months. It always makes me appreciate this island I live on a bit more.

Photo credit by Susan McClung
The third set of friends from my Holland America Veendam cruise from 2016 that went to Canada and New England came in last week on the Nieuw Amsterdam. It was great to see Susan and Jerry. Susan provided these photos. We did the obligatory lunch at Coconut's, one of our favorite places. Food is spectacular. It is fun and the owners so nice.

One last photo of my friends while here. Seems like they had a super good time! I know I was glad to see them.

Photo credit by Susan McClung

Dec 9, 2017

Business Moves: Moving Forward

The Magic of Design Furniture & Interior Design is having their annual sale. Lots of goodies to be had including art, accessories, lamps and furniture. We have all the in-stock inventory on 30% to 70% off. 

We are now doing eight different properties for property management, one condo that gets rented short-term, two houses that get rented long-term and the rest we care for the houses for their owners. We also are doing a lot of construction for these homes. Moises has a great contractor working with him. It is going very well.

Modloft living
We also have taken on a lot of new lines of modern furniture. Don't forget as well, we still have our upholstery shop and we have a wonderful line of blinds and shades from Gabin. Gabin also makes wonderful awnings.
Change is around the corner We can't say just yet, as we need to finalize all the details, but there are going to be some exciting new ventures for The Magic of Design. 

May 14, 2017

Mattress tips 101

Showroom at The Magic of Design May 2017

Mattress Tips 101:  Mexican size vs. USA size

Article reprinted from May 12, 2017 from Cozumel 4 You

Luh McDevitt takes us through the difference & provides base & sheeting tips…

 When I first came to Cozumel in 2000, I sent a container down with my US size king mattress and two twins that were for a trundle bed. I continued to buy sheets in the states and bring them with me, so it never occurred to me to be concerned about different size mattresses or sheets. Not until 2005, when we started importing furniture from the states.
The first US beds that arrived from Ashley, I tried shoving the Mexican mattresses in to the wood frames of the bed and they didn’t fit. The king mattresses could be turned one turn to fit, but the box springs were too wide and too short. Those can’t be turned. Even worse were the queens. I remember an especially tall man in Puerto Aventuras who was renting, screaming at me that the bed had a 4” gap at the end.  Why couldn’t I find a mattress that fit his US made frame?
Therefore, we began to sell two types of mattresses, those for Mexican beds and those for US beds. The reality is, and I am going to do this in metric, a Mexican king is 2.0 meters wide x 1.90 meters long. A US mattress is 1.93 meters wide x 2.03 meters long. For some mattresses, if they have no direction, it really doesn’t matter. But for some spring type mattresses, there is a direction to the mattress, so if you turn it one turn, it will feel different sleeping on it. For memory foam and memory foam gel, there is not a direction so I recommend you can turn them one turn to place in a Mexican frame, if it is mattress only for a platform bed. But that won’t work for box springs as they need to be placed on the bed frame perpendicular to the headboard, so they work the opposite way of the slats of the bed. The only kind of solution to this, and I don’t highly recommend it, is to place a piece of plywood between the slats of the bed and the box springs and run them parallel to the headboard. (I am sure by now this makes no sense at all. Sorry, but it much easier to explain by demonstration.) The only real problem with this solution is with all our humidity is having a solid piece of plywood under your bed is not a great solution.
For queens, there is no solution except to buy US mattresses as the ones from the states are 13 cm longer than Mexican mattresses. That’s right. A Mexican queen mattress is 1.50 meters wide x 1.90 meters long. A US queen mattress is 1.53 meters wide x 2.03 meters long. That 13 cm really is a big difference, over 4 inches. You end up with a big hole at the end of the bed.
The other problem is the sheets don’t fit either. Now if you buy Mexican sheets from Chedraui, for example, they will probably be Mexican size. If you have Mexican mattresses, they will work. Thread count is usually not good, and the sheets are scratchy. But if you are like me and want better thread count sheets, then I haul mine down from the states. For our beds that we sell are US sized, the US sheets and bedding work perfectly. Then you only need to take in to consideration the height of the mattress, which effects the width and length you need of the comforter or duvet. Maybe we can save that for another post.

We no longer buy many Mexican mattress sets, and encourage our customers to buy their Mexican size mattresses and foundations wherever they like. If you buy only headboards from us, that works too. But if you want to be able to enjoy your US bedding and sheets and sleep in style, you can get US sized mattresses from us. Our mattress, foundations and bedding are all US sizes. And if you have a question about this, feel free to stop by and I will explain it to you in person.comforter or duvet. Maybe we can save that for another post.

Modern bed at The Magic of Design May 2017

Consejos básicos sobre colchones: Tamaño mexicano vs estadounidense

Luh McDevitt nos describe las diferencias, y consejos para bases y sábanas…

Cuando llegué a Cozumel en el año 2000 envié un contenedor con mi colchón estadounidense tamaño  “king” y dos colchones individuales para una cama rodante, doble. Continué comprando mis sábanas en los Estados Unidos y trayéndolas conmigo, por lo que nunca me preocupé sobre las diferencias en los colchones o sábanas.  No fue sino hasta el año 2005 que comencé a importar muebles desde los Estados Unidos.
En las primeras camas que llegaron de Ashley de los Estados Unidos, traté de empujar los colchones mexicanos en los marcos de las camas y no cupieron.  Los colchones tamaño “king” podían ser volteados en una dirección para acoplarse, pero las bases de la cama eran demasiado anchas o demasiado estrechas.  Esas no es posible voltearlas. Es incluso peor con las camas  matrimoniales . Recuerdo particularPor lo tanto, comenzamos a vender dos tipos de colchones; aquellos hechos para camas mexicanas y aquellos de camas estadounidenses. La realidad es que, y voy a hacerlo con el sistema métrico: una cama “King” mexicana es de 2.0 metros de ancho x 1.90 metros de largo. Un colchón de los EEUU es 1.93 metros de ancho x 2.03 de largo. En el caso de algunos colchones, si no tienen dirección, en realidad no importa. Sin embargo, para algunos colchones de resortes, éstos tienen dirección, así que si usted le da una vuelta puede sentirlo distinto al dormir. Para el colchón de espuma con memoria  o de gel con memoria,  no tienen dirección por lo que recomiendo que se les de una vuelta para poder adaptarlos en un marco de cama mexicano, si es que éste es un colchón sólo para una cama con base estilo plataforma. Pero eso no funcionará para las bases de resortes ya que es necesario colocarlos en forma perpendicular a la cabecera para que funcionen de manera opuesta  a las tablillas de la cama. La única solución para esto, y francamente no la recomiendo mucho, es colocar un pedazo de triplay entre las tablillas de la cama y la base de resortes, y dirigirlo de manera paralela a la cabecera (estoy segura que esto no tiene ningún sentido. Discúlpenme, pero es más sencillo explicarlo demostrándoselos) El único problema real con esta solución, es que con toda la humedad que tenemos un pedazo de triplay bajo su cama no es realmente una gran solución.hombre alto en Puerto Aventuras que rentaba una propiedad, y gritándome que la cama tenía un espacio de 4” al final. ¿Cómo es que no podía yo conseguir un colchón que cupiera en su marco de cama traído de los EEUU?
Para camas matrimoniales no hay solución alguna salvo adquirir colchones de los EEUU ya que ésos son 13 cms más largos que los colchones mexicanos. Así es. Un colchón matrimonial es 1.50 metros de ancho x 1.90 metros de largo, Un colchón matrimonial estadounidense es 1.53 metros de ancho x 2.03 de largo. Esos 13 cms son una gran diferencia sobre las 4 pulgadas. Usted termina con un gran hueco al final de la cama.
El otro problema es que las sábanas tampoco quedan bien. Ahora, si por ejemplo adquieren sábanas mexicanas en Chedraui, es muy posible que sean tamaño mexicano. Si cuentan con un colchón mexicano, éstas se ajustarán bien; pero los hilos no son buenos y las sábanas se sienten ásperas. Y si usted es como yo y quiere sábanas con hilos de mejor calidad, entonces me traigo mis sábanas de los EEUU. Para las camas que vendemos que son tamaño estadounidense, las sábanas y ropa de cama procedente de los EEUU funciona perfectamente. Entonces, sólo es necesario que tome en cuenta la altura del colchón, ya que tiene consecuencias en el ancho y largo de la colcha o edredón.  Posiblemente dejemos el tema para una ocasión futura.
Ya no compramos juegos de colchones mexicanos y  sugerimos que nuestros clientes adquieran sus colchones tamaño mexicano y las bases donde lo deseen. Si usted compra las cabeceras con nosotros, eso también puede funcionar. Pero si desea disfrutar su ropa de cama estadounidense, sábanas y dormir con estilo, entonces puede obtener colchones estadounidenses con nosotros. Todos nuestros colchones, bases y ropa de cama son de tamaños estadounidenses. Y si tiene dudas sobre este tema, siéntase con la libertad de visitarnos y se lo explicaré personalmente.

Mar 5, 2017

Carnaval 2017 First Post

Sunset on first night of Carnaval 2017
Moises and I probably haven't been to Carnaval together in about 15 years. He went a few years back with his dad and stepmom. He made reservations at Chi downtown and said it was great. So when our new friends Liz and Walter wanted to go to Carnaval with us, we decided to book a table at Chi.

Chi sign from our seats
It was a great decision. Laura, the manager, is so nice and accomodating. We paid for a table ahead and when we arrived, we had probably the best seat in the house. Well, actually, all the seats are great. You get a table and chairs outside, but then Laura brings out seat cushions to sit on the concrete abutment and enjoy the view.

Everybody waited patiently for the parade to start. And even though it wasn't the biggest parade I have seen, it was fun. First night is always a bit sparse anyway. But we had a great time. 

Vendor selling goodies along the Malecon
Liz getting ready to take photos

Selfie of us

We had an awesome time with Liz and Walter and would definitely go again. More Carnaval posts to follow with the Parade!