BOLT Reviews: Cenote Santa Barbara

Words and pictures can not fully express the magic I experienced on our recent trip to the little town of Homun and the Cenote Santa Barbara.

A cenote is a natural pit, or sinkhole, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater. The regional term is specifically associated with the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico, where we are currently living.

The Maya believed cenotes to be a gateway to Xibalba, the underworld, and the god of rain, Chaac, was believed to live at the bottom of these sacred wells. The Maya performed rituals and ceremonies at sacred cenotes to ask for rain and good crops.

Cenote Santa Barbara has three really beautiful and accessable cenotes. We were able to explore and swim in all three. The stairs down to the cenotes were well designed and very stable they all had hand rails. This was not true for the cenote we visited in Valladolid and I chose not to risk going down.

To get to the first cenote you could ride a bike or the horse drawn cart. It’s a fun less than 10 minute ride, whichever you choose.

Our friends and we swam in all 3 cenotes. The water was cool but not cold. For me it was a relaxing and healing experience.

We ended our day at the restaurant on the premises. We were able to choose from many delicious options of Yuccatecan style food. Admission to the cenote, including lunch was 290 pesos, less than $15 USD!

For more information about these amazing gifts of nature visit https://theculturetrip.com/north-america/mexico/articles/mexico-s-cenotes-hidden-gems-of-the-yucatan/

BOLT Reviews: Playa Bonita Beach Club

Just a short 3o minutes away from Mérida, Mexico is the city of Chelem. This sleepy little pueblo is home to the perfect spot for a getaway.

Playa Bonita Beach Club is the perfect spot for a day trip. For only 100 pesos (about $5 usd) you can spend all day on a comfortable beach lounge.

There is a lovely little pool, changing rooms and very clean restrooms.

I was especially delighted by how good, I mean really good the food and drinks were. There is a full, moderately priced menu. The waiters were attentive and friendly. You can have your food brought to your oceanside lounge or table.

I enjoyed a lovely walk along the beach and several people were actually enjoying time in the waves. All in all I spent a perfect day at Playa Bonita Beach Club. I can’t wait to go back!

If you have a special getaway spot in the Yucatan or wherever you are, we’d love to hear about it. Comment here or write us at BOLTraveling@gmail.com

Nuestras Primeras Dos Semanas en Mérida

Tomorrow will be 2 weeks since our arrival in Merida. Because of Covid concerns we haven’t done much exploring yet, outside of getting to know our new neighborhood. Here is a summary of our first two weeks in pictures.

First off, We love our little orange house and the small compound in which we are living.
There is a lovely park one block away with walking trails. I am really enjoying my morning walks an seeing my neighbors and their dogs.
There is a GREAT BIG mall within walking distance too. It has EVERYTHING including an enormous supermarket (Soriana).
There are all kinds of restaurants in the area including a pretty good pizza place (yes, they deliver).
Equally close is another, smaller, mall with a fully stocked Walmart.
There is a beautiful community of Black folks here. They had a gathering in the park on Sunday which included a toy drive. Kathy enjoyed meeting some new folks and seeing some old friend and dropping off some toys.
We have a tortilleria right across the street from us, which is wonderful.
The place I was most excited to discover was right next door! There is a wonderful little tienda that sells fresh fruits and veggies, and egg. They even have a butcher!

So, our new life in Merida is comfortable, quiet and beautiful…all we could ask for during these difficult times. We look forward to exploring and sharing more as the weeks progress. Stay safe! Love and light to all!

?!Merida!?

My friend, Olivia, gave me the inspiration for this week’s blog post. She asked some great questions which I will answer here.

The value of questions!

How was your time in Vietnam? It was wonderful! Vietnam handled the Covid crisis very well. It was very safe. Da Nang is beautiful and affordable. However, we came for a month and ended up staying for 10. We were concerned about having to review our visas every month and the strong possibility that we would eventually be denied.

Beautiful Da Nang!

Will you ever return to Asia? We hope so. We love Asia, especially Thailand and Malaysia. Plus there are several countries we still want to visit (India, Sri Lanka and Cambodia for sure). But if 2020 has taught me anything it’s that nothing is for certain.

Yep!

What was your impetus to move to Mexico, in the middle of a pandemic? How did you choose Merida? Merida is one of the safest cities, not just in Mexico but the world. While the pandemic is of course a concern, we chose Merida because of it’s relatively low Covid numbers, thriving black ex pat community, affordable housing and proximity to family and friends in the U.S.

In or out of a pandemic Merida is very safe!

How are you feeling today? We traveled for 2 days, 4 planes plus all the packing and preparation. We are exhausted and jet lagged but grateful to have arrived safely. We tested for coronavirus before leaving Vietnam and were both negative. We plan to isolate for the recccomended 10 days and will wear masks and practice social distancing until further notice.

Covid Testing, Family Hospital, Da Nang

One question Olivia didn’t ask but I wanted to share on briefly is: What was traveling like during a pandemic? It was really surreal and a bit anxiety producing. Most of the airports were REALLY empty until we got to Houston. We treated ourselves to better seats, lounges and a hotel stay during our Houston layover. We wore masks at all times and my hands are so dry from all the washing and hand sanitizer. Overall our travel was a positive experience, for which we are very grateful!

Ho Chi Minh City International Airport
All Nippon Airways Ticketing Desk
Vietjet Travel Lounge (only 3 people there, including us)

Thank you Olivia for helping me to clarify what I wanted to share today, our 5th day in beautiful Merida.

Casa Dulce Casa

On Becoming a Doula!

Before I even knew what it was called I long wanted to support a woman in giving birth. Last week my dream came true!

It was a wonderful experience! A birth doula is a trained companion who is not a healthcare professional and who supports a woman through pregnancy, child birth and the postpartum period. Doulas can also provide support through other significant health-related experiences, such as miscarriage, induced abortion or stillbirth, or non-reproductive experiences such as dying.

My dear sister friend blessed me with the opportunity to perform doula duties for her throughout her pregnancy. She gave me permission to share these photos. I couldn’t have asked for a better mother for my first doula experience!

The mom did an amazing job! We took this picture on the way to the hospital. Labor had begun.
The Miracle of Birth!

For the past 6 months we studied and prepared for the birth. We read lots of articles and books, watched YouTube videos and most importantly, took a course in hypnobirthing. I was there for the actual birth and am also providing support to the new mommy and baby.

Birthing Day!
1 Week Old! Mommy and baby are doing well!

I am really excited to be starting a formal course of study to become a certified doula. I look forward to being of service. Just call me Granny Doula!

BOLT: Reflecting Gratitude

As I walked along the beach this morning in Da Nang, Vietnam I was reflecting on how grateful I am for our time here. We planned on a month but it’s almost a year, thanks to Covid.

I’m grateful for sheltering in a place that took the virus seriously, where everyone wears masks and respects social distancing rules when in effect.

I’m grateful that I am here with my beloved, Kathy, and that we both remained physically healthy and mentally well.

I’m grateful for time with family. While we may not be related by blood I have truly found family here.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to do something I always wanted to do: support another woman in birthing a baby. I’m a doula y’all! Look for a blog soon about this experience.

I’m grateful for some amazing sunrises, wonderful adventures and beautiful sights to see. As our time here is winding down (we leave in early December, details soon) I wanted to express my gratitude to Da Nang for helping me to #findbeautyeveryday

Thank you for allowing me to share my gratefulness. I’d love to hear what you are grateful for.

The Magical World of Zoom

At dawn today I participated in the opening ceremonies of BLU via zoom. I was able to represent the far east with an altar dedicated to our ancestors, family, friends and community. It was an amazing experience, connecting with my sisters in the U.S. all the way from Da Nang Vietnam!

Later in the morning I had a good time laughing with the fabulous Jazzie Mas at her virtual comedy show, also on Zoom.

Then at noon today the Brothas and Sistahs of Da Nang group got together for a virtual brunch. It was wonderful to see everyone (we haven’t seen each other since lockdown began July 26).

I’ve played games at Zoom meetings and been to Zoom birthday parties. I use my free Zoom account to connect one on one with friends and family. Zoom is a real blessing for those of us in recovery. There are 12 Step Meetings for every fellowship!

This pandemic is awful. I never want to forget all who are suffering. For me, Zoom is one thing I am grateful for. It’s made these difficult times a little easier.

If you have any questions about using Zoom or connecting with any of the groups I mentioned email me at boltraveling@gmail.com

I’d love to hear about your Zoom experiences!

Good Morning Vietnam!

I love mornings here in Da Nang. No matter how early I’m up there are folks up ahead of me. The markets are bustling at 6am.

The coffee shops and bahn mi stands are also up and ready for business by 6.

But the thing I love most are mornings at the beach. I went today for the 5:18 sunrise, enjoying the beauty of the path leading to our local beach.

The beach was already crowded. The sights of families swimming, elders exercising and crowds of people briskly walking bring me joy.

Perhaps this is not scientific but I think that the Vietnamese commitment to community and wellness has contributed to the low Covid numbers. As beloved and frequently used as the beaches are when ordered everyone respected the closing of the beaches and following the rules was the norm.

Kathy and I are so grateful to be in such a safe and beautiful place during these difficult times. We hold all in our prayers and meditations. We surround you all with love and light. We pray for an end to this pandemic. We pray for the dismantling of systemic racism and injustice. We trust and affirm that healing is happening and change is coming!

Please visit, like, subscribe and share Kathy’s YouTube Channel. She is offering excellent tools for dealing with these time. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGchxaPN1j9p0PjVDyu2a_A

Change is Possible! Don’t give up hope!

Kathy and I were talking this morning about revolution in all it’s forms. We are tired and heart broken. Tired of the killing of black folks. Tired of police brutality. Tired of injustice. As I despaired over the state of the United States and what is happening there, Kathy reminded me that change does happen. As I expressed doubt that unorganized uprising can effect change she reminded me that the truth of revolution is that it is often unorganized. As I expressed anxiety that people will be hurt and die she reminded me that dying can be a revolutionary act and that dying is not the worst thing that can happen. Ultimately she reminded me of the revolutionary changes achieved as a result of the Civil Rights Movement. This post is hopefully a reminder for us all.

In March 1965 these folks braved Billy clubs, tear gas, dogs and a racist governor who empowered a racist sheriff to do anything he could think of to stop those unarmed, non-violent people from walking to the capital of Alabama for their rights. They marched for 54 miles over 5 days.

In March 2015 Kathy and I repeated that 54 mile walk. We marched with foot soldiers who had been on the original march. We marched with young people, students and families. We marched because we wanted to honor and give thanks for those original marchers and the changes they wrested from the hands of the powerful.

We marched with Ms Annie Pearl Avery. She is a life long civil rights activist. Ms Annie Pearl was on the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Bloody Sunday 50 years ago. She was beaten and jailed. She didn’t let that stop her. She made the Selma to Montgomery March in 1965 and she was with us every step of the 2015 march!

We met Julian Bond, who is a reminder that change can come about in many ways: political, street activism, education and more.

On the way we stopped at the memorial to Viola Liuzzo who lost her life in 1965 during the original Selma to Montgomery March. Driving back from a trip shuttling fellow activists to the Montgomery airport, she was shot by members of the Ku Klux Klan. She was 39 years old.

We marched to remember, reconnect and restore. We marched because the fight for civil rights and social justice is far from over.

We made it! 54 miles from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama! “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” -Margaret Mead

In 2015 President Barak Obama gave a speech on the Edmund Pettis Bridge. He embraced Congressman John Lewis who was beaten on that bridge 50 years ago. Change does happen!

Don’t give up hope dear brothers and sisters. “It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.” -Assata Shakur