En recuerdo de mi amigo, Ed Hoffman

27 01 2011

Ed con amigos a Cantina Habenaro

Para mí, tal como para muchos puerteños, este pueblo fue amor a primera vista. ¡Excepto! — esa monstruosidad chillona de color azul fluorescente en avenida Rojo Gomez. ¿Cómo se mantiene a flote ese lugar?

Por entonces yo no podía saber que ese bar — upa — ¡restaurante! — dilapidado y chabacano se convertiría en mi oasis social en
Puerto Morelos – mi refugio y lugar frecuentado – mi sitio favorito para un vaso de vino tinto y una conversación fácil, sea insignificante o
filosófica….

Simplemente un paseo seguro – con excepción, tal vez, de los taxis que van a toda velocidad – por media calle, durante el día o después de la medianoche – durante la temporada alta, llena de turistas (sangre nueva para los chistes viejos de Ed) o durante el verano bochornoso con solamente algunos residentes locales matando mosquitos…Y Ed – el centro de todo. Adorable y gruñón, pero siempre listo con una sonrisa de bienvenida: “Hey, this is your table!” “Too bad we’re open!” “Best mojitos in town!” “Try the mango margs!” “We’ve got ribs tonight – Did the recipe myself!” “Band starts in 30 minutes!”

Los que me conocían en mi Otra Vida saben que yo era empresarial, estructurada, super-organizada. Después de jubilarme, de descubrir
Puerto Morelos y de algunos años duros, me enamoré – me enamoré con la Vida –liberé mi cuántos-años-tendrías-si-no-supieras-cuántos-años-tienes otro yo con sus faldas cortas, el rock and roll antiguo, metal pesado y  el ¡baila-baila-baila! Y un catalizador principal
en esa transformación fue Ed Hoffman, los amigos que se reunían con él y los momentos magníficos que creaba en Cantina Habanero.

Ed siempre va a tener un lugar especial un mi corazón así como en los corazones de los muchos miles de personas más que sonreirán al
recordar  “su noche especial” en Cantina Habanero con tal Ed Loco – bailando a Vertigo 777 o disfrutando de Mark Mulligan o del Hombre Orquesta con los Altavoces en los Pantalones – o de los artistas Jan o Don o Bob. Y ellos se recuerdan con quién estaban – y el resplandor de las estrellas aquella noche….

Jessily y Jeremy van a saber que su papá era amado, pero comprender completamente la magnitud de ese amor va a ser una lucha – el número inmenso de almas que tocó su padre y la diferencia que él hizo, la dicha que él trajo a las vidas de tanta gente por todo el mundo – simplemente por ser “Ed” y por crear el atmósfera y la comunidad – la familia – de Cantina Habanero.

A pesar de lo gruñón que podía ser a veces, Ed Hoffman era mi amigo muy querido. Lo extraño al fondo del bar, pero en mi corazón lo estoy abrazando en una luz dorada de amor – junta, por supuesto, con una nube de su máquina vil de humo falso – y estoy visualizándolo dentro del cielo brillante de azul cristalino de Puerto Morelos. Y sé que siempre que necesito una sonrisa, puedo visitar mi corazón y traer las memorias mágicas creadas por mi amigo, Ed Hoffman de Cantina Habanero.

Gracias, Ed…hiciste mi vida un poco más brillante.

Thanks to my daughter, Jessica Dover a professional translator, interpreter, and Spanish teacher, for this translation. Please click the link to her website, Alma Luna.

For the English-language version or to see more photos, check out my previous post.

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En recuerdo de mi amigo, Ed Hoffman

21 01 2011

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For me, as for many Puerto Morelians, this village was love at first sight. Except! — that gaudy florescent-blue monstrosity on Rojo Gomez –how does that place stay in business?

Little did I know that this ticky-tacky dilapidated bar – oops — restaurant! — with its crabby owner would become my social oasis in Puerto Morelos — my Safe Haven and regular hangout – my favorite spot for a glass of vino tinto and easy conversation, fluffy to philosophical….

Simply a safe stroll –except, perhaps, for careening taxis – down the middle of the street, during day or after midnight — High season ripe with tourists (fresh blood for Ed’s old jokes) or summer sultry with only a few Locals swatting mosquitoes…. And Ed – center of it all. loveable curmudgeon but quick with a welcoming smile: “Hey – this is your table!” “Too bad – we’re open!” Best mojitos in town!” “Try the mango margs!” “We’ve got ribs tonight – Did the recipe myself!” “Band starts in 30 minutes!”

Those in my Other Lifetime knew me as corporate, structured, ultra-organized. After retirement, discovering Puerto Morelos, and some rough years, I fell in love –in love with Life – – releasing my how-old-would-you-be-if-you-didn’t-know-how-old-you-were alter ego with short skirts, old time rock ‘n roll, heavy metal, and dance-dance-dance! And a major catalyst for that transformation was Ed Hoffman, the friends he brought together, and the magnificent moments he created at Cantina Habenaro.

Ed will always have a special place in my heart as well as in the hearts of the many thousands more who smile when they remember “their special night” at Cantina Habenaro with that Crazy Ed – and dancing to Vertigo 777 or enjoying Mark Mulligan or The One-Man-Band-with-Speakers-in-his-Pants – or performers Jan or Don or Bob – and they remember who they were with – and how bright were the stars that night….

Jessily and Jeremy will know their daddy was loved, but fully embracing the magnitude of that love will be a challenge  – the vast number of  souls their daddy touched and the difference he made, the joy he brought – to the lives of so many people throughout the world – simply by being “Ed” and creating the atmosphere – the community – the family – of Cantina Habenaro.

As grumpy as he could sometimes be, Ed Hoffman was my dear friend. I miss him at the end of the bar, but in my heart I’m embracing him in a golden light of love – along, of course, with a poof from his vile  fake-smoke machine– and visualizing him within the brilliant crystal blue skies of Puerto Morelos. And I know that whenever I need a smile, I can visit my heart and bring back the magical memories created by mi amigo Ed Hoffman at Cantina Habenaro….

Thank you, Ed….You made my life a little brighter.





Miscellaneous Musings

3 08 2010

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This blog has morphed into more of the “weird and wonderful” than “the food” of Puerto Morelos – and having been in “immersed” in Merida studying español for three weeks, I now, more than ever, appreciate my home’s eccentricities…. Merida is hot, beautiful, and historic (did I mention hot?).  A lovely family shared their lives with me during these weeks, so I didn’t realize how much I missed Puerto Morelos ‘till I returned. The sight of the Puerto Morelos water takes my breath away! And yes, it’s hot here, too.

My amigos here say the only changes are that more and more locals and seasonal residents are vacationing in cooler climes. Having been gone, however, I see some wonderful additions to our village and The Colonia.

 After three weeks of Spanish study, I learned how much I don’t know – – yet it’s a start – poco y poco, as they say – and I’m determined. So my first day back included a visit to The Colonia, not only for fresh-squeezed orange juice and guacamole makings, but also a little practice in hablando español ….

 One thing hasn’t changed – the potholes – well, perhaps they’re a bit larger and deeper. But I discovered a delightful new tienda specializing in locally created clothing and art. The owner and seamstress will greet you, and next visit, I’m getting a cool beach cover-up. But on this first visit, I couldn’t resist a delightful child’s purse and two mermaids created by Aleandra. (I’m a sucker for mermaids as well as local art – my condo is filled with works by Ale, Susan Harrison, Daryl Eady, and Heidi.)  

And my favorite fruit-and-vegetable mercado, La  Merced, has expanded its offerings – an in-house kitchen and bakery.  I discovered that it pays to speak Spanish, even as poorly as I do –Gabriela, bagging groceries, pulled out chips and a sample of her salsa verde – and then a complimentary sweet bun – so I came home with snacks and tomorrow’s breakfast!

Then a stop at my favorite tortilleria – thick and warm — not quite as good as the cooked-over-the-open-fire ones by my Jungle Spa amigas – but way-better than the average tortilla!

And – – who says nothing’s changed?! – Neon green cardboard at street corners – Vente de Garage — a garage sale in Puerto Morelos?! Gotta check that out – my treasure: three DVDs with the Spanish subtitle option — only 50 pesos!! A fun way to continue my education.

And the delightful empanada place in the lot next to the police station – as far as I can tell, it still has no name – has upgraded its signage – still the same wonderful food at more-than-reasonable prices, however.

Have been craving Cantina Habenaro’s pizza and Ed’s famous fries  – I satisfied the pizza craving Friday night while enjoying Vertigo 777.  If you like muy picante, ask for the Mary Special –pizza with all their fresh veggies including habenaros and pepperoni. Tonight –papas fritos!

For lunch, I finally tried hard-shell tacos at JJ’s Kitchen –and now see why everyone’s raving about them. They were even better with the homemade habenaro sauce. And Ed gave me a generous test-try of BBQ ribs with homemade chipotle sauce. I’m convinced – returning to JJ’s – often.

 My current-favorite word in español – “naco.” So what is naco? Actually, even in English, there’s not really a definition for “tacky,” you just know it when you see it. Today, Ed was saying that he works hard at what he does – “It’s not easy being cheesy.” So to experience the ultimate in naco – tacky – “friend” Cantina Habenaro or JJ’s Kitchen on Facebook.  Naco! And, if you’re even slightly twisted — way-fun!

 And a reminder – a stop sign in Mexico:  merely a suggestion.

 I mentioned to someone that I’m getting a bicycle, as sometimes I’m in a hurry.  Does anyone else think that’s funny?! “Hurry” — “maybe I’ll get a bicycle”….jajaja (that’s español for hahaha) Smile.

Perhaps my next Blog update: Things I love about Puerto Morelos….





Puerto Morelos Fishing Tournament — Cacophony of Sensory Delights

29 06 2010

Tournament trophies

Festivities include bikini dance contests

Beer flowing. Scent of hot-fat churros blending with boiled corn and crunchy pork rinds. Nutella in a crispy crepe.  Mango and jicama with chili and limon. Swim suits and halter tops. Wet tee-shirts. Lithe bodies and beer bellies. Energy, laughter, joy oozing through every pore….

There’s no feeling quite like a Mexican fiesta, yet I’ve not experienced anything like this Puerto Morelos fishing tournament. Semana Santa (Easter Week) comes close, yet this fishing event generates even more intense adrenaline-filled excitement, possibly because of the weekend time-frame.

A bull-horn kicks off the Saturday morning start with a resounding Boom!  117 fishing boats – opulent yachts to the most mundane nearly-rowboat. Sun high, anticipations higher  – contestants shoot off to sea with strategies and favorite spots in sharp focus. The rest of us drink beer, shop the stands, eat outrageous gut-bombs, and laugh with friends. I’m secretly hoping a small, local boat will snag the winning catch.

The first evening’s weigh-in brings mostly Dorado, lots of disappointed sighs,  a few cheers, excited laughter, and of course, no scarcity of scantily clad young women representing some of the sponsoring organizations – the newspaper Novedades, Corona, Coca Cola, Sea Do….

The Saturday night viewing stand in Town Square sports an interesting  array of entertainment, from modest Yucatan Dancers in native Maya dress to teens in hip-hop resembling Village People. There’s the crowning of Princess Puerto Morelos, a young lady donning a banner and crown to reign for the weekend. And more beer, food, crafts, and booths. Bands play until 3:00 am — I hear it at my condo half-a-kilometer away.

Fishing boats again take off, 7:00 am Sunday – bringing in their Best Catch at 2:00 for the final weigh-in. Neighbors Maurcio and Martha invite me to their family table under the giant canopy – someone staked out this prime location early in the day – and its loaded with Bacardi Anjeo, mixers, ceviche, salads, chips.  I  gratefully accept.

Cheers and excitement to the side, so with drink in-hand I climb makeshift bleachers to view the clearing below – Am I really seeing this? Three-year-olds in bikinis. Judges include Princess Puerto Morelos and one person I know, Danielle of Arte Boutique (does she realize what she’s about to do?) along with a couple others. Emcee is Carlos of male stripper fame (an entirely different, yet fascinating, story). He’s impressive with bronze, buff body bulging from the wife-beater sleeveless tee with Alligator Gym logo and white crop pants. The wee ones dance with wild abandon – – no self consciousness of the hundreds of cheering fans surrounding and towering above. Winners are selected. I wonder about the criteria.  This is a serious — not a feel-good, everyone’s-a-winner — activity. Carlos parades three little girls around the ring and out the gate.

I’m in awe — taking deep breaths — as the next group enters, the girls seeming to be around five. These little ladies are ready and, unlike the younger set, each dances individually. The judges’ selections are brought center stage. But no! Boos and hisses – although I don’t understand Spanish, the feeling is unmistakable – the crowd is not pleased. Three now-self-conscious five-year-olds chew their nails in center ring. Carlos confers with judges – their decision is final. Girls are marched around the ring and out.

On to pre-teens. Age 10 going on 18 – dance moves I’ve certainly not considered – no shyness – heads high and proud – bodies undulating sensuously and provocatively. Where are their mothers? On the sidelines, providing pointers.  I’m getting a clearer understanding of Mexico’s high early-teen pregnancy rate.  Next are girls about 15, with attitude.

The day could not be more stiflingly hot and humid, and  I’m crammed among a growing mass of sweaty bodies. So I make my way back to the shade of the rum-and-coke table. As the age categories increase, I hear the crowd wildly clapping. Cheers. Hoots. Cat-calls. I’m obviously missing quite the performance. 

People suddenly morph to the nearby pier, beside which a tall wooden pole with flag atop has been set into the water. Greased pole contest — clearly, another crowd-pleaser. The teams dive in. Four sturdy young men stand chest-deep in the sea, arms interlocked around pole and each other. Three more climb onto their shoulders, also interlocking arms. Now the competition becomes interesting as lithe, monkey-like boys scramble up wet bodies – and yet more – until the grease does its work. All crash down. Team after team. Splashing to defeat. No one makes it to the tip – yet somehow a winning group is selected.

Excitement builds. Time for the fishing awards.

There’s a scurry around the table of tournament trophies — oversized replicas of Dorado, Marlin, Barracuda — along with giant checks symbolizing the grand prizes , up to $100,000 pesos and a new car! Dignitaries on stage include not only Emilio Muñoz, general coordinator for the Fishing Tournament and its surrounding Navy Day Celebrations, and the Delgado for Puerto Morelos, Pancho Mendoza, but also Governor of the State of Quintana Roo, Félix González Canto.

The well-endowed young ladies in their cheerleader-style semi-ensembles hand giant-fish-head trophies to the actual presenter, the Governor. The winning team from each category comes front-and-center, some with children-in-arms.  A lot of prelude – and at last, with a speech by the Delgado – Grand Prize. The crowd wildly chants – Puerto Morelos! Puerto Morelos! Puerto Morelos! Don Pepe! Don Pepe! Don Pepe! For the first time in the history of this tournament, the winning team is local – sons of grocery owner Don Pepe Espinosa. Not one of the small boats, but homeboys — nearly as satisfying….

It’s Sunday night. Crowds dissipate. A few food carts remain. A moist breeze rustles the coco palms. Raindrops fall….





A Magical Zack Experience

11 04 2010

Zack singing with Maribelle and his mom, last year about this time....

 Anyone who lives in or has visited Puerto Morelos probably knows Rosy (Juicy Rosy’s Juice Bar) and her delightful son Zack who lives with several challenges, one of which is blindness….

 We all know how much Zack enjoys music, and he was at Hotel Posada Amor with his mom last Thursday listening to a local band. I was wearing oil of lavender as an attempt to ward off mosquitoes as well as a sarong skirt sporting a mariposa/butterfly motif. Zack and I hugged, with me chatting —  Hola, Zack  ~ Buenas noches ~ ¿cómo estás?  In usual Zack-style, when he is pleased he begins to sway and smile and speak — and this evening, saying more to himself than to anyone else:  Flores ~ mariposas ~mariposas ~ muy mariposas….

 If only we could all be as special as Zack….





Energy Conservation Awareness

16 02 2010

According to large posters around town, Carnival was to begin at 7:00 in The Square….complete with a beauty contest and crowning of Princess Puerto Morelos – young girls in ball gowns. A Must-Attend event!

 There’s a massive stage on the basketball court, yet by nearly 7:00, it doesn’t look as if any major production is happening soon. The area, however, is filled with parents strapping stilts onto children’s legs and helping with elaborate costumes. Not sure what happened to Carnival, but I hear that the elementary children will perform and hand out flyers to promote the upcoming School Benefit Musical. I notice a few random, hand-made posters about Energy Awareness.

 So – kids are milling, parents are hovering, and a few of us are seated on the bleachers… at 7:00 pm, the lights — go out! In the infinite wisdom of the planners, the performance coincides with International Energy Conservation Awareness Hour – and the show goes on in the dark – Children high-stepping in stilts, brochures in hand, but distributed only to each other because the tourists, now nervous, have disappeared – and I’m on the bleachers laughing laughing laughing – where else but Puerto Morelos….

 I love this town.