Saturday, September 01, 2007

isla holbox

Isla Holbox has been an interesting place to be so far. The island is made of sade washed up from the ocean because of a lagoon, and anchored in place over the years by a variety of plants and their root systems. It is accessible only by boat. (Addendum: There is also a small jetport, but that's ridiculously expensive.)

We arrived here Thursday after a flight from Newark to Cancun, a two-hour drive through the outlying regions of Quintana Roo state, and then a relatively quick -- 15 minutes, I think -- ride on a speed boat, followed by a three- or four-minute jaunt on a golf cart to Amigos House, where we are staying.

We've established the general lay of the land while we've been here, finding our way to the hotel where almost everyone else is staying, and to the center of town, where the restaurants and other businesses that cater to the turistas are located.

We ate lunch Friday at a place called Chonchy's. The service was slow, and some meals came before others -- a definite departure from restaurants in the United States -- but the food was excellent. Evangeline and Rachel ordered quesadillas, I can't remember what Natasha got, and I ate some fajitas.

Actually, I was especially pleased with myself. I don't speak Spanish -- not really -- but I know enough that I was able to order my food, and the girls', correctly, and to compliment the cook when she came out to see if we liked it, or if there was anything else she could get us.

At the Cancun Radisson where we ate lunch on Thursday, Evangeline ordered a salad, and was confounded when the waiter brought out a plate of sliced tomatoes and mozzerella cheese. She quite clearly had been expecting lettuce, but that wasn't a part of the deal here. It may be that since it's a cold-weather crop it's not available here. Yo no se. But I have noticed that she's trying to stick to more familiar or "safe" foods, like quesadillas.

Natasha's brother Kevin has impressed all of us with his apparent facility with Spanish. He has trouble understanding what people say to him, but having grown up in the Southwest and making trips to Mexico regularly as a student at Flowing Wells High School, he knows abit and can make a guess at a lot more.

I've been doing all right. Twice I've been able to explain that Mi ija necessita ir al baño; ¿donde ésta? among other things, but my Kreyol keeps wanting to come out this way, as I've seen or heard happen many times when multilingual people speak. Thus yesterday I said about lunch, "Me gusta anpil," and last night nearly confused the waiter by asking, "Garçon, mas tostadas, sille vous plait." ¡Hay caramba! as absolutely no one in Haiti would say.

Last night we had pizza, and once again I found myself missing my homemade sourdough crust. The crust here was thin and flaky, and in some ways made me thing of a very large tortilla chip. Ma said it probably had pork lard in it too. The cheese was of one variety, and the sauce was fairly bland. The toppings made it interesting, though -- jamon, vegetable, and lobster. I've never had that on pizza before.

Amigo House is a two-story residential building with three other buildings on site, including a laundry room, a kitchen/living room, and the quarters the owners use when they are here. The main building is a frame of palm tree trunks nailed and spiked together, with walls of plaster. It comes complete with TV sets in each room, plus air conditioning and a fully functional kitchen.

And now it's time to wake the kids.

Later

It's now afternoon. The girls and I just got back from a much smaller lunch than yesterday's, at a luncheria where we spent 54 pesos -- about $5 -- on a pair of quesadillas for the girls and something which name I can't remember, for myself.

We spent most of the morning with Ma and Tracy, who rented a golf cart to drive around the island and see what it looked like.

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