Sunday, June 22, 2008

Voyage To Turquoise Waters of Half Moon Bay, Akumal (Day 2-3)

Half Moon Bay, 12/2 Wednesday

The inexorable forces of jet lag forced us from our comfortable bed just after sunrise. After marveling at the early morning beauty of the Caribbean as viewed from our balcony, we took a brisk walk to reacquaint and acclimatize ourselves to our Half Moon Bay neighborhood. As we walked, we found flowers of the most intricate design blooming profusely in a multitude of colorful patterns. We also discovered banana and coconut trees growing nearby, and the ever-present geckos scurrying along the whitewashed walls of the condos. After our walk, we drove to Akumal to visit the Super-Chomak and the competing Super Pueblo markets. As it was Wednesday, we were able to take in the open-air fruit and vegetable market across the street from the Super Chomak. There, we were able to buy a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables to compliment the canned goods and staples purchased from the two market places. We especially bought a lot of "cerveza fria". We like Superior the best, but Modello and Tecate are also excellent. We would have consumed Dos XX, but we can get that in Oregon.

After shopping, we stopped at "la officina de cambio"(exchange office) and changed some traveler's checks into pesos. Here we noticed more slowing of time, as the clerk was in no hurry to exchange our money. It felt good to be a part of the slow down, and we had no trouble adjusting. We returned to the condo and spent some glorious hours on the patio drinking cervezas and relearning how to relax. Later that afternoon, Karen and Mary bargained with an old Mexican who had walked up the beach selling silver bracelets and chains. Like most of the locals, he was very proud of his children and grandchildren, and responded enthusiastically to our questions about them. Although our speaking abilities in Spanish were quite limited, he patiently made polite conversation with us. At the conclusion of the bargaining, done mostly in Spanish, Mary offered him some pencils and notebooks that she and Tom had brought to give to schoolchildren. She let him know that they were for his "ninos". He was so touched by this gesture, that he gave her two free bracelets. Later, other local children came up the beach and we gave them school supplies also. They returned in a few hours and sang for us, and we gave them a few pesos. Most of us had our first extensive snorkeling experience that day. Half Moon Bay is rich in intricate coral formations that provide homes for hundreds of different species of large and small tropical fish. We saw large purple and blue fish, stripped fish with florescent colors and pronounced dots, and many others, large and small, representing every color of the rainbow.

After snorkeling, we realized that we really did remember how to relax, and so we drank some more cervezas until time to prepare dinner. We cooked up some black beans and rice, and served them with fresh salsa made from the vegetables purchased earlier in the day and some fresh tortillas. With cervezas and fresh limes to drink, we enjoyed a hearty meal. The moon rose full on the evening water, further lifting our spirits and making us feel especially fortunate to be in such a paradise. Later that night, we walked on the full moonlit beach and rediscovered the endless, fascinating energy that this special place always offers.

Chemuyil, 12/3 Thursday

Up to this point, the weather had featured puffy cumulus clouds accompanied by warm breezes and temperatures in the low 80's, and a few rain showers on Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday morning dawned without the usual clouds, and the temperature increased as a result.

We started with an outstanding breakfast at "La Buena Vida", and then returned to our condo for a morning round of snorkeling. Some of us were lucky enough to see some gigantic parrotfish displaying their beautiful rainbow colors as they fed on the coral with a distinct crunching sound.

In the early afternoon, we traveled to Chemuyil to shop in a more native environment. Our first stop was the "tortilleria" where we bought the last half-kilo of tortillas, generously offered to us by a native lady who had actually bought the last tortillas available for the day. We realized that we had to be there earlier than 1:00 PM, if we wanted to get any fresh tortillas. When we exited the "tortilleria", we found ourselves surrounded by children who had seen our bright red Tusuro drive up. The native children always show a fascination for the "gringos". Next, we went to the "panaderia", where we acquired a delicious variety of baked goods, hot out of the oven. We couldn't refuse anything he offered, and wound up buying several dozen items to the owner's amazement and delight! Then it was on to the "mercado" for some inexpensive Superior cerveza, and some black beans. Our accompanying gaggle of children increased in numbers as we traveled. Our last stop was the "fruteria", where we loaded up on more fruits and vegetables for our future dinners and salsas. We were delighted to find that we could actually converse in Spanish at all stops and make ourselves understood.

After shopping at Chemuyil, we returned for another round of snorkeling. I made a wonderful discovery of a large, beautiful pink conch shell buried in the sand. After carefully inspecting it and determining that there were no "occupants", I captured it and brought it back to shore with me. What a wonderful memory of Half Moon Bay and the many treasures within!

That evening we put together an exotic meal of "papas Mexicana" (potatos with fresh salsa). We included rice, refried beans and a fresh fruit salad. Margaritas and Mai Tai's were mixed, and dinner quickly became another Fiesta! In the middle of preparations, Shelley and I had to make a run to the Super Chomak to get more cheese, avocados and limes. We found that you can't have too many fresh avocados and limes. They are tremendously delicious here, and we ate copious amounts of them. Once again I had the fun experience of conversing successfully in Spanish with the clerk at the meat and cheese counter.

That evening after supper, we relaxed outdoors under a full moon that was throwing a beautiful silver streak across the waters directly towards our condo. Preston and Tom discovered crabs and other night creatures occupying the sands near the beaches. They had a lot of fun exploring them with their small flashlights, but were careful not to disturb things too much or hurt anything. There is no more beautiful place on earth than Half Moon Bay when lit by the full moon on a soft, tropical December night. We all sat in silence and realization of how fortunate we were to experience such beauty.

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