Tag Archives: Puerto Penasco



I am in Mexico.

Yesterday I told you about what a perfect weekend we’re having here in Puerto Penasco, and I also shared that we are co-habitating with a roach the size of a Buick.  Last night, our paths crossed again (cue horror movie music).

Let me begin this story by telling you that we almost didn’t make it out for dinner because I was so enraptured by the sunset. Clouds in the sky over the ocean = fantastic sunset.  (No clouds?  Eh, the sun goes into the ocean, blah blah, it’s fine.)  But last night’s sky looked as if it were on FIRE with pinks and oranges and reds all striped over each other, and every minute it changed, and then it got darker and then there were hues of purple and even the shape of it changed.  I tore myself away from the first part to smooth my hair and apply some mascara, and on the drive up Whale Hill to the restaurant, I just kept ooohing and aaaahing because it was seriously A Moment of Extreme Beauty which I will always remember.  The restaurant was full; we drove down to the malecon and I snapped a beautiful photo of the brilliant sky over the parking lot next to Flavio’s.  I know that doesn’t sound exactly “delightful” but I was really happy with the juxtaposition of this amazing effect of nature over a dusty parking lot full of old cars—the light and shadows were so cool.

We had a terrible dinner at Mary’s Seafood.  Almost inedible.  I gave them a brutal yelp review, which was well deserved. Thumbs up for a fantastic margarita and good service though!

We arrived back home, turned on the kitchen lights and EEEEEEKK!!!!! Buick the Roach was sniffing at a small spot of bacon grease on the stove top.  My mind did this amazing analysis of the situation, sort of like what Sherlock Holmes does in the recent Guy Ritchie movies.  Everything slowed down.  I considered attempting to pull a spatula from the jar of utensils which was situated BEHIND the roach and that scenario played out with the roach running away.  I surveyed the kitchen island to my right and saw nothing useful in killing/stunning a roach.  So I picked up the heavy ceramic spoon rest and SMASH!  With the agility one would expect from a person who has just consumed a plate of heavy fried seafood and a margarita as big as her head, I hit Buick with that spoon rest, screaming out a warrior’s cry, “HIYA!!!”  And much to Hubby’s and my chagrin, the spoon rest broke in two and Buick ran back into the hole behind the cupboards, laughing and calling me nasty names in Spanish (words that cannot, dear Reader, be repeated here).

The spoon rest was placed in the trashcan after a brief discussion about trying to glue it back together and rapidly coming to the conclusion that spoon rests are completely unnecessary objects and whoever invented them should be ashamed of themselves.   We hope the condo co-owner who buys these silly decorative items will not miss the Very Important Spoon Rest.

During all of this excitement, we noticed the windows whistling.  We slid open the glass door to the beach, and HOLY MOSES, the wind was INTENSE.  Amazing might be the better word.  All outside condo lights were off, but the moon was shining so brightly that the entire beach was illuminated.  I stepped off the patio onto the sand and instinctively spread my arms out to feel the strong, warm wind.  It buffeted my entire body—that’s how powerful it was.  Hubby came out and put his arms out, too.  From nine til midnight I sat outside in the wind, listening to music on my headphones and occasionally following the path made by the moon down to the high tide, rolling up my pant legs to wade into the warm ocean.  It was simply glorious. If anyone was watching from their patio, they probably were concerned for this middle-aged, clearly-deranged woman who kept walking down the beach to visit the night ocean.

The only bad news from the weekend (apart from Buick escaping) is that all attempts at protecting my face from sunburn failed.  I’m as pink as a pig, which is bad enough on its own but also typically results in a big nose pimple.  That should be popping up on Thursday morning as I head to work (I am subbing at my year-round school later this week).  I swear to you I applied sunscreen and wore a hat and stayed mostly in the shade.  It honestly feels quite lovely to be in my fifties and not really care what people think anymore.

I will end by telling you about the book I’m reading and cannot put down.  Through Painted Deserts:  Light, God, and  Beauty on the Open Road is written by a modern-day philosopher and all-around-super-smart guy named Donald Miller.  His writing is beautiful and honest and thought provoking–I am smitten. I watched a recent interview where he caught a lot of grief by saying he doesn’t really feel God when he’s at church.  Though he is Christian (and my beliefs are a bit of this and a bit of that) I found him simply charming and relevant to my world view.  Here is a passage from the book which resonated with me today:

“It’s interesting how you sometimes have to leave home before you can ask difficult questions, how the questions never come up in the room you grew up in, in the town in which you were born.  It’s funny how you can’t ask difficult questions in a familiar place, how you have to stand back a few feet and see things in a new way before you realize nothing that is happening to you is normal.”

I find this to be 100% true, which is why I love to travel.  Getting away gives my mind space to question, space to forgive myself for not leading the perfect life, and space to imagine.  As much as I love getting away, I love returning home with the hopes of trying to be just a little bit better/different/happier.



Esther Williams


MI am in Mexico.  All day I’ve sat under a turquoise umbrella next to the ocean, catching up on back issues of Esquire Magazine and watching the birds.  The osprey seems intimidated by the crowds on the beach, but must be really hungry since he swoops over us, clucking in an irritated manner, then dips his beak quickly into the sea for a fresh fish, flying away to his perch in the desert.

Much like the osprey, I get annoyed when the beach is too crowded.  We’re so often lucky to have this slice of paradise all to ourselves, and when we have to share, it isn’t easy. Today I stand on our condo patio and look to the left.  Then I look to the right. There are umbrellas and pop ups for as far as the eye can see!  Yet each group is quiet and peaceful and as happy as I am to be here.  Thank you, Universe!!!

Hubby and I almost didn’t come to the beach yesterday.  The last time we were here (just three weeks ago), the people on the beach were obnoxious.   I love when the ocean is as smooth as glass, yet that causes sound to travel too well.  Everybody was so loud! The three condos to the right of us housed a huge group of friends with sooooo many little boys running around unattended.  They ran through our yard and even stood on the beams of our stairs.  The parents (mid thirties to mid forties) played loud music all day and night.  To the right of us on the beach, a group of young people appeared each day. They were crass.  While swimming in the ocean, one very large girl (who needed a much larger suit) yelled, “I’m peeing!” to which her friend gladly yelled, “I’m peeing, too!” Every other word (always yelled) was a curse word.  They had loud music which competed with the loud music to the left of us. Let’s just say these folks were harshing my buzz.  Add to that a swarm of mosquitoes that tortured us while we were sleeping and a roach the size of a Buick who waved to me from the kitchen sink taunting, “Neener neener, neener!” as he ran into a crack between the cupboard and the dishwasher.  Oh, and I almost forgot the group of nude teenage girls we walked past on our morning walk. They were standing up (nude) taking selfies and didn’t even seem to notice us.  It wasn’t sexual, but there were families nearby and it just felt wrong.  Let’s just say I wasn’t in the mood to come back to the beach after all that crap.

BUT I’M SO GLAD WE DID!  The weather in Phoenix today:  100 degrees.  The weather at the beach today:  80 degrees.  The ocean is sooooo warm, and we are water logged from swimming so long.  The waves are medium-ish—not so big that it’s hard to get in, but big enough that they bounce you up and down in such a relaxing manner that you never want to get out.  The stronger tide brought in a bunch of seaweed, but we don’t mind and even had a little bit of a seaweed fight.  Which was fun for about one minute, and then I splashed and floated and swam, my body held up by the salty sea so light and buoyant and graceful that I felt like freakin’ Esther Williams.

And last night the full moon was AMAZING.  It looked red as it came up over the desert (it is the Strawberry Moon, you know) and then shone so brightly onto the beach that we took a walk, no flashlight required.  Tonight we will drive up Whale Hill to Casa Capitain where I will order my favorite shrimp tacos and a margarita as big as my head, and Hubby and I will admire the views of the sparkling Sea of Cortez and the twinkling lights on the malecon of this sweet little town.

La vida es buena.  Life is good.



Chivalry is Not Dead


I am in Mexico.

Hubby and I are having a very relaxing, quiet weekend at the beach reading books, doing crossword puzzles, and taking long walks on the beach with Ruby the Wonder Spaniel. Hubby is always so pleasant to spend time with and is such a gentleman. He doesn’t mind if I fill his pockets with seashells on our walks, insists I share bites of his mango bought from the beach mango man, and today during our walk asked me, “May I hold your bag of hot dog shit?”  I tell ya, chivalry is not dead.

Today I did something I haven’t done since college!  (Nope–nothing illegal.)  I lay out in the sun in my swimsuit.  GASP!  (So politically incorrect! Forty lashes with a wet noodle!) The wind was cool, my skin was pale, and it just seemed like the right thing to do.  The chaise lounge was so comfy, and I immediately felt my bones go to jelly.  I felt so warm (but not too warm) and felt so in the moment.  I was almost dozing off when I began to notice the weird noises being made by all the patio umbrellas:  tap-tap, tippety-tap, tap-tap, tippety-tap.  I focused again on being in the moment, but that’s when Ruby came over to lay beside me.  Her wet dog smell wafted over me in what must have been a visible cloud . . .  and then she began to lick my legs.  ARRRGGGGG!  When I heard the nice vendor man asking me if I’d like to buy some “yewelry,” I knew it was time to give up.

Thinking back through the years (and looking down at my wrinkly hands), I’m pretty sure I kept up that sun worshipping hobby through my twenties.  Please remember it WAS THE STYLE then (think Miami Vice and Baywatch)!!!  My goal in college was to be the tannest girl at ASU—and I think I pretty much was.  So that’s why now my skin is leathery and spotted and well, would I have listened if anyone had tried to tell me what lay ahead? Probably not. Being tan made my teeth look whiter, my eyes look brighter, and my hair look blonder.  In 1984, I thought I was all that and a bag of chips.

Last week I also did something I hadn’t done since college:  I met with four old friends whom I was close friends with in high school and college.  These guys were the sweetest, goofiest, smartest bunch . . . though not the coolest boys in school.  Somehow we lost touch, and life went on, but I always hoped their lives were going well.  Last week, I was invited to happy hour last minute by my friend Gail, because two of the guys were visiting from out of town.  I was really nervous, but I think it went well.  We’ve all changed tremendously in 35 years, but we laughed remembering our high school shenanigans and all those summer tubing trips down the Salt River.  I’d always avoided school reunions, and most of that was due to the fact that the only thing I’d accomplished since high school was creating and raising my three beautiful children. So many people from my class have done so well, being doctors, lawyers, and Indian chiefs (ha) and well, my CV is not very impressive.  Last Tuesday at happy hour, none of that seemed to matter, and it was great to see their faces again.  I enjoyed our time together and hope we can make it a regular thing.

So I hope you’ve enjoyed this latest installment of Cheers Darling in which we’ve learned: Don’t worship the sun or your skin will get leathery when you are old, beauty is fleeting, good friends don’t care if you’re Important in the World . . . and if you’re on a walk and your husband offers to carry the plastic bag of hot dog poop . . . always say YES!



Interpretive Dance


I am in Mexico.

Hubby, Ruby the Wonder Spaniel, and I drove down Saturday to our tiny condo on the beach in Puerto Penasco (or as I like to call it, Heaven).  All is the same as when we left it in October.  The majestic osprey perch on their post overlooking the ocean, venturing out to fish at sunrise and sunset.  Pelicans fly by in (mostly) groups of odd numbers, and the ocean waves roll in and roll out, just like always. Small pods of dolphins play just beyond the reef, and vendors walk slowly by pedaling their silver jewelry with tired smiles.  The sun shines brightly over the beach, making diamond patterns on the surface of the sea.

We’ve been doing this trip for many years.  I first visited this beach when I was 13 years old, and it was love at first sight.  Lucky for me, Hubby feels the same way, and every chance we get, we make the four-hour drive to our favorite place.  Each time it goes like this:  We unlock the front door, I jump up and down for joy a few times, we unpack the car, take off our shoes, open cold bottles of Mexican beer, and walk out into the warm sand.

One thing I love about visiting this beach in January is how deserted it is.  There are a few “regulars” who quietly read on their patios, waving shyly from afar.  Look east.  Look west.  Nobody on the beach.  Not one soul!  This weekend it seems there are fewer visitors than usual.  Ruby and I took a shell walk and to my chagrin, she took a HUGE poop.  She looked up at me happily, but I was mad. I hadn’t brought a bag with me because she’d already pooped twice today:  once in Gila Bend and once in Ajo!  There’s nothing a dog enjoys more than pooping in unfamiliar territory.

Anyway:  We were a good five-minute walk from the condo, so lucky me, I see Hubby appear on the patio ready to come down and join us.  I wave my hands and get his attention. I yell “BAG!!!” but the wind carries my message away.  Hmmm, this was a tough one.  I think hard and begin spelling out B-A-G with my hands and body.  “Good thing the condos are all empty,” I laugh to myself.  Hubby shakes his head, hands in the air. I decide to reverse the letters.  Again I spell B-A-G, this time with more emphasis. Still he shakes his head.  I point at Ruby, then pretend to scoop something from the sand.  THAT DID IT! Thank goodness, because my next move was squatting in the sand and pretending to do the deed myself!

And well, golly, that’s when I noticed several people out on their patios, hands shielding their eyes to get a better view of this chubby blonde woman doing what must have looked like some strange sort of interpretive beach dance.  Oh, well.  Hubby brought the bag, Ruby felt lighter, and I did not have to walk all the way back up to the condo.

Last night we had a yummy dinner at Flavio’s on the fish wharf.   How weird to be some of the only Americans out on the town on a Saturday night!  It occurred to me many people might be participating in the Women’s March in Phoenix that day, but also Google weather forecasts told us to expect rain (only sun with weather in the seventies).  Today Hubby flew his two-stringed kite, requiring me to wade into the chilly tide pools to help relaunch after many crashes.  (If that’s not true love, tell me what is.)  Ruby is all smiles, though her bad hips prevent her from chasing the birds as she’d like to.  I missed the cats so much in the night that I balled up my sweatshirt and placed it between our feet at the end of the bed and slept soundly pretending they were with us.

If there was a better weekend to escape from the world, I’m not sure when it would be. But after all that’s happened in our country in the past few months, isn’t it nice to visit a place that seemingly remains the same?  I’m trying hard to not feel abject terror about recent changes in our great country, and every day it feels like an awkward balance of getting along, being heard, deciphering news, and taking care of business.  It’s important to just get up each morning, put your shoes on, and place one foot firmly in front of the other. I’m realizing as I write this that lately at home I’ve been doing a strange sort of interpretive dance, and it’s not a happy one.

With Love and Hope,


On Mexican Time


You know it’s time to come home from the beach when you’re out of dog kibble and clean undies (at least that’s how I know).  So we will head back to Tempe after lunch.

Nature called early this morning and since I was up, I stepped onto the patio to see the sunrise.  I love to sleep in, and feel a bit guilty that I always miss the sunrise over the ocean. My conclusion is it’s highly overrated; it looked EXACTLY like the sunset last night, except on the other side of the beach!

It’s been a lovely, perfect weekend.  Yesterday I spent hours in the warm ocean, the water so clear I could see all sorts of fish flitting around my legs. I felt like I was standing in an aquarium!  Jolly Sergeant Major fish the size of half dollars floated about my feet, kissing the bright blue polish on my toenails.  Chubby yellow-and-black striped, they are the most colorful fish you will find near the shore in Puerto Penasco.  I noticed many small bubbles on the water and Hooray! A school of small tube-shaped green fish had arrived!  They float just under the surface and are elegant in their shape and color.  (I have looked online and cannot find the name of these fish.)  I saw swarms of tiny brown fish, then larger trigger fish.  Hubby placed in the water the remains of his mango on a stick and the Sergeant Majors went crazy, taking small bites and swarming the fruit like bees.  (We love the mango man who brings us sticky treats of mango sprinkled with chili pepper and tamarindo syrup.)  Later in the day, we got the kayak to the beach just in time for Hubby to chase a large pod of dolphins moving quickly towards town.

Monday was a perfect day.  I walked the beach searching for shells and was lucky enough to find FOUR of my favorites, the trivia solandri, or “coffee bean” shells which resemble pink coffee beans and are quite rare.  Then I spent some time choosing which mansion I will buy with the profits from my latest invention, the square glue-stick.  After many recent classroom crafts where the rounded ones roll onto the floor, I’m certain my invention will be quite the success and we can upgrade to a beach home with a garage and an outside shower (don’t you love an outdoor shower?).  You may recall my best invention to date, the concert diaper, which alas never attracted interest from investors, but I’m sure would have had lots of takers at last week’s Lumineers concert where the line to the Ladies Room was a half hour long.

Thanks to the Universe for giving me this peaceful and restorative weekend with my best friend at one of my favorite places on Earth:  Puerto Penasco, Mexico.







I am in Mexico.

We always come to the beach for Fall Break, however, this year, it’s just Hubby and me. Our children were too busy to accompany us, and you know what?  We’re having a lovely time just the two of us . . . along with Ruby the Wonder Spaniel.  She is having the time of her life chasing bird shadows, digging in the sand, and knocking over our full beer bottles. She swims gracefully around us in the ocean, her ears floating so elegantly on the water that I’m sure she thinks she is a mermaid.  Mer-dog?  Mer-spaniel!  Today as I sat in a warm tide pool, she rhythmically wagged her wet tail toward me, sprinkling sea water on my sun glasses. Good dog!  Ruby has a new BFF named Barley. He is a one-year-old Cairn Terrier who touched noses with her and smelled her behind so sweetly that it made me smile.

We’ve traveled to this beach so many times that I go into autopilot as I pack for our long weekends away.  Saturday I had extra time to putter since Hubby had to answer a few work emails before we left town.  I actually remembered the binoculars, the mustard, my toothbrush, and the plastic bags for poop detail. (I have no idea why I forget these random four items 99% of the time.)  Finally we were on the road!  We were two hours into our four-hour journey when I yelled a very bad word followed by, “I FORGOT THE KEY!” Hubby voted we return home, but since I was behind the wheel, I had executive decision making power. I was just sure that one of the condo windows would be unlocked, or that our neighbor would be home with our spare key.  Nope.  Thank goodness for Pablo, who is our property manager.   He arrived in 15 minutes with a spare key—my hero!  Finally we could begin our vacation!  We threw back the curtains, and slid open the glass door to see a pod of dolphins swimming by.  HEAVEN.

Now about the beach:  There are seven or eight different family groups with small children playing ball, tossing Frisbees, paddle boarding, and frolicking in the ocean.  There are many cute dogs, and I am happy to report, everyone seems to be on top of poop duty. There’s nothing grosser than setting up your umbrella, laying out your beach towel just so, then settling in just to have the rich scent of fresh poo waft into your nostrils. Our next door neighbors this weekend own a gin distillery and bar on Congress Street in Tucson. They are very interesting, so polite, and have great taste in music.  My only complaint is Frank Sinatra singing Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas at 9 this morning as we were sipping our coffees and enjoying the ocean views.  So there you have it: I’ve heard my first Christmas song of the holiday season on a hot morning at the beach.





Beach Rumpus


Come here. Yeah, you.

I want to whisper in your ear. I’m dying to tell someone my news . . . but I’m afraid if I announce my news too loudly, I’ll be jinxed. Things will fall apart. It’s happened before. It could happen again.

Okay, are you ready? (stage whisper): I’m going to the beach on Sunday!!!

Yep, it’s true. Not only do I get to go to my FAVORITE Mexican beach, I also get to go with some of my FAVORITE people. Hubby, William, Eve, Ruby the Wonder Spaniel, and I will pile into our tiny Prius and head south toward the border early Sunday morning. I’m looking forward to packing light, like I did in the old days. In my pre-marriage days, I’d pack a backpack with a swimsuit, a towel, a pair of jeans, a tshirt, a jacket, a pack of gum, and a toothbrush. What more could a girl need? I’m aiming for that + food + soap + my laptop + books. Alas, we will only be there for a few days, but we all have school or work and besides that, our cats miss us if we are gone too long.

I have so many things to do before we leave on Sunday:

Clean my house (my super-clean neighbor is going to cat sit for us and I don’t want her to be disgusted, AND my sister is staying here one night while we are away).
Buy groceries.
Pack sheets and towels.
Bake cookies (my people enjoy their sweets).
Lose 20 pounds (I am too fat for the beach).
Buy tequila (saves time on errands once we have arrived).
Buy a cute new swimsuit.
Stop by the library to pick up a good book.

And then, in the morning, my family and I will pile into our private boat, and we will sail off through night and day and in and out of weeks and almost over a year to where the wild things are. Let the wild rumpus begin!