A Personal Mechanic: What a concept!

Have I raved about our mechanic yet? I know I’ve told all my friends how amazing and awesome he is. When I rave about him, it’s because I’ve never had a “personal mechanic” before. The closest we came was the neighbourhood mechanic where we used to live in Calgary. He rocked! He was honest and if he couldn’t fix something he’d look it up or just tell us and refer us to the dealer. That happened once. He actually did fix the problem at a much lower cost than we were quoted by the dealer, after studying a you tube video.

That was a bonus, because that mechanic was so close we could drop off our car and walk home. We knew he’d charge a fair price. However, I would never go so far as to call him a personal mechanic.

I think of the many personalized services we use. We are both known to become attached to our hair stylists. I was very sad when my dentist retired, and I’ve only just found a dentist since we’ve moved. (Scratch that off of the “to do” list.) I was devastated when my doctor quit her practice, and thrilled that I’ve found a doctor I like on the island.  Now I can add “personal mechanic” to the list of services.

I don’t know about in your country, but in my country the mechanic fixes the car and services it when needed. The mechanic doesn’t return the car to you washed and detailed. I’ve never before had a mechanic drive me to the airport, complete the service while I’m away and pick me up at the airport when I return. The mechanic doesn’t stay late at work to finish up with my car because he knows I need it the next day, then return it TO MY HOUSE when he’s finished the job. Apparently, in some countries, this is what you can expect from a personal mechanic. In my new country, that’s what I’m getting from a personal mechanic.

To say that I think our personal mechanic walks on water would be incorrect. He would drive on water!

 

Puerto Montt

I think I should write about the cruise before I forget everything. Our first stop on the cruise was Puerto Montt, Chile. We tendered into port and went through a passenger control area. We didn’t have an excursion booked, so we hung around for awhile trying to get wifi. We didn’t have much success so we carried on, walking up the street towards Angelmo market.

Puerto Montt was established in 1853 and was largely settled by Germans. The population today is just over 200,000.

The street itself seemed to me to be one great, long market. The vendors were all in very open spaces, selling various crafts and clothing made from alpaca or sheep wool and jewellry with lapis lazuli, the national stone.

Street vendors in Puerto Montt
Street vendors in Puerto Montt

I’m not much of a bargainer or much of a shopper for that matter, but our traveling companions certainly are. I was trying to keep up with the men, who marched on ahead towards the destination with barely a glance at the lovely merchandise along the way. I was also trying to keep track of the women, browsing around behind in the numerous stalls. There were some tense moments when someone wanted to make a purchase and her husband was far ahead and out of sight with the Chilean pesos. One of her potential purchases was abandoned when the lady selling shawls wouldn’t come down on the price. “Is baby sheep!” she explained. Fair enough!

I did make a purchase. I had to! There was a beautiful shawl with my name on it and some lovely woolen scarves that I knew my son and daughter would use.

When we finally reached the end of the Paseo del mar and found Angelmo market, we were treated to a picturesque harbour with lovely brightly coloured fishing boats. The market was full of restaurants and fish smells. There were the largest, happiest sea lions I’ve ever seen basking near the pier, enjoying the attention of all the tourists.

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On our walk back to the ship we saw artists, musicians and more vendors selling everything from spices to art and music cds. We came away with a few pesos, but this would be our last Chilean port.

How the April Challenge is about to become my year long challenge

I talked about “cruise weight” and my April challenge to take it off. In the past 25 days I’ve been working out, swimming, watching my food intake and keeping a record of everything.  I’ve lost two pounds. I lost two pounds in the first week. I weigh in regularly and I’ve still only lost two pounds. Clearly I need to do more…or eat less.

I’ve also been monitoring my blood pressure, which hasn’t been a problem in the past. After three weeks of regular exercise and moderate eating, my blood pressure is high. This can’t be happening!

Who am I kidding? The cruise weight is gone and my clothes still don’t fit like they used to. The truth is that I gained about ten pounds in the first year we lived here, before we even went on a cruise.

Technically, I’ve gained 15 pounds, but that wouldn’t be a fair assessment. I unintentionally lost five pounds in the 2 or 3 months before we moved. I gained that all back in California eating gourmet meals and drinking too much. It was an unwinding and recovery period before we got on with our lives.

Those ten additional pounds came after living here, despite a routine that includes a daily swim and yoga.

Since it took a year to gain the ten pounds, I can’t really expect to lose it all in a month. That’s why my April challenge is going to become my “Spring challenge”. If I’m not successful, it’s going to be a year-long challenge and to be quite honest, a lifestyle change. My current level of eating and activity appears to be fine for maintenance. If only I could get to the weight I want to maintain!

I guess for starters, I could cut down on the wine with dinner, or the happy hour cocktails. I’m also hoping that as the iguanas become more active in the summer months, my regular sprints down to the pool to chase them away will help burn off some “retirement weight”.

My other challenge, in addition to getting fit and losing ten pounds, is to write a weekly report about my progress, or lack thereof, in hope that it will motivate me!

 

Cruising; Yes it is for us!

We embarked on our South American cruise with great anticipation, but also some trepidation. Would my husband enjoy spending time at sea with no control over the destination? Would he enjoy the elaborate meals every evening and the dress code? How would we survive two weeks in closes proximity to the same group of people every day and evening.

I suppose a lot depends on the cruise line, the friends and the destination. We had good luck with all three. It also helped to have a balcony.

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First of all, Princess provided a wonderful cruising experience. The food was phenomenal and the service matched. I’ve used two other cruise lines and this one compared favourably. I found myself looking forward to perusing the dinner menu each evening and choosing something delicious  to go with the wine. Sometimes we would peek at the menu in the morning so we could think about our choices during the day. You might say we all love to eat.

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Secondly, the friends on our cruise are old friends and dear friends. We all respect each others space and privacy, but we love to do things together. We’ve traveled with them before and we knew we’d have fun.

Third, we were traveling in a part of the world where we had never been and where we could see things from our balcony that we’d never be able to see otherwise.  We were visiting new countries. We were able to unpack our suitcases and hang up our clothes, come back to our own rooms every night, yet still travel to four different countries.

The balcony was a serious bonus, but now I consider it a necessity for cruising, at least for a cruise longer than a few days. The sights we could see from our balcony were amazing on the days at sea, and had we not had connecting balconies where we could call each other out with a cry of “Whales!”, we may have missed a lot.

I will admit that probably all of us gained weight and we still talk about the “cruise weight”. Still, on our last day, we lamented the fact that we would soon have to disembark. We were already planning our next cruise.

 

 

April in Cayman

I haven’t been posting and I really don’t know why. I started to post a series on the South American cruise, which I will finish. I interrupt that series and fill this long vacant spot with a new post about life, especially April, in Cayman.

As I’ve mentioned before, we’ve been away a lot in 2016; seven weeks to be exact. It was truly a pleasure to return home from a month away and find the loveliest weather. We have been here in April before, but not in a few years. I think last year at this time I was visiting in California, and the year before that I was probably packing up my house in Calgary.

The weather right now reminds me of April in Calgary. No, I don’t expect a snow storm any day now, but I really don’t know what to expect. We’ve had days where the air conditioning doesn’t come on much, and we’ve had days that remind me of the heavy, humid days of July and August. We might get a rain shower, or we might have a lovely, breezy day of relatively low humidity.

The evenings have been beautiful, and the bugs aren’t always bad. We drove home from an evening out with the a/c off and the windows open. We sat out last night enjoying a glass of wine with the neighbours.  I can enjoy a swim any time of day; it’s not too hot at noon and it’s not too cool in the morning. We aren’t the only ones appreciating the island’s weather!

This season we kept hearing how quiet it was for tourists. Cab drivers weren’t busy in January and February. Our friend visited in February and we did not find the popular spots to be that occupied. March and April seem to be more promising for those in the tourism industry. Maybe the various spring breaks are a factor. Maybe Canadians needed some sun and sand to escape the doom and gloom of the current economy. I only know there are people and tourist buses everywhere. The beaches are busy and there are cruise ships every day.

By being away a lot of January, then March, we missed a lot of the regular island activities: Legends tennis, A Taste of Cayman, the Orchid show. We are back in time for some things, though. The drama society opening of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat was last week. The musical is playing throughout April and as always, they are doing a stellar production. Slow food day is coming, and we’re seeing a lot of upcoming activities being advertised for the next two months.

April brings back significant memories here. It was in April five years ago that we came for a visit to look at real estate. By the time we left we’d purchased our condo. We came for Easter one year with our son, before he left home. It was our first Easter without our daughter, who was in the middle of exams at university. Last year, although we had already moved here, April felt like the start of our permanent life here. We’d spent several weeks in California and finally came home to get settled into a life routine here.

This April is a new start of sorts. I’ve made April my “30 day challenge to a healthier, fitter me” month.

Since moving here, we’ve fallen into some habits, good or bad. We have time to cook and to eat well. We enjoy our meals and our wine. I’ve tried to keep up a routine of workouts and swimming, but when I look back at what I used to do, I’ve fallen behind. Some of our friends had to lose their “cruise weight” but I had cruise weight and more. It didn’t help that we had a steady stream of visitors in the last part of the year. As wonderful as it is to show off our island, my workout routine suffered and we ate out more than usual.

This April is about finding ways to fit in exercise every single day. I don’t always wake up feeling like a swim, but will fit it in later, or I’ll try to do a workout, including weights and core exercises, that gives me the same overall benefits. I think I always eat healthy, but I’m trying to eat and drink a little less.

April is a month to ourselves. It’s a chance to get back in touch with friends and with acquaintances that could become friends. It’s a good time to catch up on appointments with dentists, physiotherapists, hairdressers. It’s a chance to prepare for the next wave of visitors, and to develop some good lifestyle habits before our next trip. It’s a time to enjoy whatever each day brings. In fact shortly after starting to write this post we enjoyed some random fireworks from Seven Mile Beach!