Mexican Cooking, Travel

Letting The Soul and Spirit Fly in Cozumel

Smell the Sea, Van Morrison quote. Carribean ocean. www.alvaradofrazier.com
Smell the Sea, Van Morrison quote. Carribean ocean. http://www.alvaradofrazier.com

…the end of summer. Too short for some, too long for others.

Road trips, camping, Denver, Cozumel, writing, reading, plays, and actually working out at a gym for three months consistently (hey, quite a feat for me) filled my summer.

I did manage to write my way to Cozumel but I still have plenty of writing to do. For now, I’m looking past the rejections emails from literary agents and concentrating on the few who wrote ‘good rejections.’ You know, those that give you positive input (not that they have to, but that’s always a bonus). 

But back to Cozumel or as the Mayan indigenous say, “Cuzamil,” which means the island of swallows. The island and sea are beyond “nice.” The ocean and beaches refreshed my eyes and spirit.

To get an idea of the island, here are some photos I took.

We (my best friend Pati who I met 20+ yrs. ago in an airport) mistakingly thought we arrived when we flew over Cancun. That place is huge compared to where we were actually going. Cozumel is a small island, population around 100,000, surrounded by the Carribean Sea.

Flying into Cozumel, Mexico
Flying over the Carribean Sea into Cozumel, Mexico http://www.alvaradofrazier.com

Stepping out of the airport proved frustrating with all the timeshare people rushing at you, on a ruse to get you a taxi, but really it’s to sign you up for a tour. Okay, so we got past that and stepped out into a wet oven of humidity.

The Cozumel Palace hotel was so unassuming from the entrance, but when those glass doors opened, we were met with a gorgeous view of the infinity pool stretching to the equally beautiful ocean. That and being embraced with cool air conditioning, an iced drink, and flowers made us forgot the airport arrival and weather.

View of the Carribean from the room, Cozumel Palace, Mexico
View of the Carribean from the room, Cozumel Palace, Mexico

Now, I’m of Mexican descent, so I arrogantly think I know Mexican food. It turns out I don’t know much about authentic Mexican food from Mexico. What I know is Mexican American food from California, Texas, and New Mexico.

Here’s the breakfast I chose, because of the name: Huevos Divorciados (Divorced Eggs). A thin line of black beans separate the two eggs and tortillas but the different salsa’s blur the line. There was also the traditional Mayan dishes: Poc Chuc (pork in source orange and vinegar marinade), Xni-pec salsa (haberno based), meats with achiote (annatto) and most foods topped with queso Blanco.

Huevos Divorciados-Divorced Eggs, www.alvaradofrazier.com
Huevos Divorciados-Divorced Eggs, http://www.alvaradofrazier.com

Forays into the town when the heat died down resulted in plenty of shops to see and a very nice gathering place in the center of town.

Clocktower and dancing fountains, San Miguel, Cozumel, Mexico. www.alvaradofrazier.com
Clocktower and dancing fountains, San Miguel, Cozumel, Mexico. http://www.alvaradofrazier.com

Although Cozumel is known for its diving and snorkeling because of its many reefs and cenotes, we didn’t partake of that, mainly because our hotel tour didn’t offer it during our stay and the other reason was because we don’t know how to swim. The activity we did partake in was a visit to the KaoKao Chocolate Factory.

I love chocolate and I was in heaven learning the history of cacao, grinding the beans, and making my own cacao bar. We had a tasting of twenty types of chocolate.

The cacao beans are ground three times in a hand cranked grinder until a soft paste forms. You knead it into a ball, press down, make a thumb imprint in the center, add pure vanilla, and knead again. Add whatever you like after that: ground nuts, chile powder, cinnamon, raw sugar.

Making cacao bar at KaoKao Factory, Cozumel. www.alvaradofrazier.com
Making cacao bar at KaoKao Factory, Cozumel. http://www.alvaradofrazier.com

The result was my own 70% dark chocolate disk with cinnamon which I patted into a disk and packaged to take home. This disk can be melted into two cups of hot milk or water.

KaoKao Chocolate Disk - www.alvaradofrazier.com
KaoKao Chocolate Disk – http://www.alvaradofrazier.com

Vacations over and now it’s back to work. Here’s a photo of our last sunset over the Carribean.

Sunset over Cozumel, Caribbean Ocean
Sunset over Cozumel, Caribbean Ocean

I hope you enjoyed the photos.

resort at Cozumel, Mexico
Books, Travel, Writing

Writing My Way to the Island of Cozumel

resort at Cozumel, Mexico
Dolphinaris Cozumel Island Mexico, photo by Susanne Davidson, flickr.com

 

I’m feeling optimistic for a better month on this first day of August. Maybe by day 31 it will be a different story, but for today I’ll take optimism.

July was a rough month for a lot of people and for the nation. Some people unplugged, some dug in, some lamented and others did all three. I’m somewhere in between, with a sprinkling of ‘counting my blessings’.  

During the last two weeks, I’ve read numerous blogs and I’m surprised how some writers can put out daily posts. Most of my writing has been confined to revising a work in progress, completing a short story for submission to an anthology, and reworking my query for Brenda Drake’s next #PitchWars2016.* And in between that, organizing our writer’s group retreat for October. I’m exhausted.

My work in progress is about a young woman who works at a botanica, or herb remedy shop, and concocts a ‘love potion’ that goes awry. Parts of the novel take place in Oaxaca, Mexico. I haven’t been there but I’m seriously considering taking a trip, especially after researching the pyramids and the city itself. I’ve added several pins to my Pinterest storyboard.

I’m working feverishly to get through another round of revisions so I can relax on a trip to Cozumel, an island off the Yucatan peninsula in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. I love that name, Quintana Roo. I understand that Joan Didion gave her daughter that name.

The sea beckons, although I can’t swim. Maybe they have adult floaties so I can pretend to snorkel at the reefs and see the giant turtles. Or I can sit on the beach with a fish taco and a drink.

I plan to climb the pyramids of Tulum and explore the San Gervasio Mayan Archaeological site, although this particular pyramid looks eerie.

Tulum Pyramid, photo by K. Bauscardt on flickr.com
Tulum Pyramid, photo by K. Bauscardt on flickr.com

For sure, I’ll take the two books I’m reading, “Pierced By The Sun,” by Laura Esquivel. It’s very different than “Like Water For Chocolate.” The other novel is by Helena Maria Viramontes, “Moths and Other Stories.” I’ve read two of the author’s other books and find her writing visceral and engaging. Not anything I’d expect from a Cornell University professor. 

And in the evening, I’ll put on my dressy sandals and dance to the light of the moon (or the overhead lights, whichever comes first).

So after this short post, I’m back to re-writing so that in a couple of weeks I can enjoy this view:

Cozumel sunset, photo by Cristopher Gonzalez
Cozumel sunset, photo by Cristopher Gonzalez

 

*If you’re a writer of Middle Grade to Adult fiction, this pitch opportunity may be for you.

See you at the end of the month. Be well.