The “dashboard” of my blog software allows me to see the countries where people are viewing my posts, typically 15 or more. I can’t tell who the readers are, but in the case of a few countries I have a pretty good idea… Philippines, Canada, the UK, Germany, France, Belgium, New Zealand, Australia, Jersey Island, Japan, Norway… to name a few that cause me to smile. I am clueless when I see Korea, China, India and a number of others.

The only way that I know with certainty that a post has been read by a particular individual is when they make a comment. Recently this comment caught me by surprise:
“I love the stories you tell. They are so persuading and realistic. My mom makes me read for an hour for home school, so I always choose your stories.” – Olive

Olive is 10 years old. We have known her, her parents, and her 13yo brother Liam since she was a toddler. Early on we happily assumed the role of their “adopted” grandparents, Papa Pete and Grandma Chris, including them in family gatherings and pictures.

The same day that Olive posted her comments (there were three of them) she sent me an email message, “Hi Pete, I sent you a comment and I just wanted to say I love your stories…” She added that she would like to talk. I called her Mother, Jenni, who was aware that Olive had reached out. Jenni said that Olive had some questions and just wanted to talk about some of the things that she had read. Olive was especially taken with the post, “Through a Child’s Eyes”. She discusses her readings with Jenni who shared with me a few of Olive’s reflections:

“Through a Child’s Eyes is how I really think. I agree with the description about time, especially about the birthdays. It’s really how time works for kids.”
“He says things I’ve never thought before, but he explains all the pictures and all the things that have happened in his life.”
“I like his blogs because it’s not thoughts I would think that he might say out loud… I wouldn’t know that he’s thinking those things…”

Wow… Olive, at 10 years old I would never have known that you were thinking those things either! Perhaps you have hit upon an idea for those like you who are spending so much time being homebound.

Jenni arranged a “Facetime” session which allowed for some real-time questions, answers, and just plain conversational catching up. Jenni added some insights about both children. Olive is a big helper at school and has the gift of foreseeing problems before they arise. She is in the 5th grade and loves to read. Mom requires an hour of reading each day from both children and Olive chooses “Papa Pete’s blog”. Liam is 13 and a huge “bookworm”, often reading mom’s novels and books when she has finished with them. He is a deep thinker. Big concepts and heavy topics are comfortable for him. Both children speak French fluently.

For her part, Jenni is thrilled that the writings are both informative and challenging for Olive. She absorbs the vocabulary and is excited to learn about new places and experiences.

I asked Jenni if it would be ok to feature Olive in a post. She and Olive were thrilled. I am thrilled to share something that is not about covid-19, the economy, or politics.
Recent news programs have highlighted teens endlessly partying away their Spring vacations, intoxicated and oblivious to the looming pandemic. The stories are deemed “newsworthy” because of the controversy and ire that they generate. However, Olive and her brother are the real story. They are examples of the millions of young people who are guided by parents who care… parents dedicated to raising thoughtful, moral, and well educated children. They are the next generation, the one that will have the tools and know-how to fix the problems that we have left them with.

Peace Everyone. Pete

PS. This post was the result of a comment posted by Olive. I read and enjoy every comment that readers make. Most readers remain silent, some of you comment but occasionally… a few of you regularly. My number one commentator was my 94 year old Mother, Pauline Schloss. She rarely missed an opportunity to throw in her “2 cents”. Mom was proud of me but in her eyes I remained her willful child. We clashed on politics, and she was ever concerned that I was too much the risk taker. She thought I should have been a teacher, to which I would reply, “No Mom, I’m a lawyer.” It’s funny how our impressions of others change but slowly. For most of my life Mom saw me as a bit of a spendthrift with a poorly developed work ethic. My posts provided her with fresh insights into me that she treasured. Mom died March 24th. Christine and I are grateful that we were able to spend time with her a few weeks ago when she was still her sharp and alert self. The day that we left her side she was transferred into the care of Hospice. Her decline to a peaceful and painless death rapidly followed. But for the pandemic related “social distancing”, her funeral would have drawn quite a crowd. As it is only 3 were permitted to attend her funeral Mass. I am at peace that Christine and I could not be among them. When things loosen up we will drive to her home near Chicago and retrieve some personal effects. I will take some time to sit by the final resting place of my Mother and Father, expressing my gratitude for everything and forgiving them for anything.

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The closest that she ever came to flirting with an untruth was to claim that she was 5’2” tall. The only sign of anger that she ever gave was to include middle names when calling any of her four sons… Peter Michael, JD (Christine), Patrick Joseph, PhD (Maureen), Philip William, CDR USN Ret. (Kathy), and Paul Kevin.

Born in 1925 to Lebanese immigrant parents, Joseph and Labibe Frances, her heart was forever connected to her West Virginia roots.

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Her parents valued education and encouraged her to explore life pursuits unfamiliar to most women of her time. She sought a career in Physical Education, receiving her Master’s Degree at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. It was there that she met her soulmate, Peter Schloss (1922-2009).

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He too was the child of immigrant parents, Germans from Russia, and hailed from North Dakota. Fresh from his duties as a soldier in the European theater of WW2 he arrived at Madison to pursue post graduate work in Physical Education. Their origins could not have been more different. Arabic was the language of her home and German the language of his. She from the mountains of West Virginia and he from the plains of North Dakota. Nevertheless, education, athletics, and their shared Catholic faith were the bridges that joined Pete and Pauline’s otherwise contrasted lives. They married in 1949 and moved to Illinois where they made their home and pursued their careers.

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In the 1950’s Pete and Pauline became the proud parents of 4 sons. The “6 PS’s” made their home in South Holland Illinois, moving to Crete Illinois in 1966. Pete and Pauline remained lifelong residents of Crete, and parishioners at St. Boniface Catholic Church in Monee, Illinois. Pauline retired from her teaching position at Thornwood High School in 1988, and Peter preceded Pauline in death in 2009. Pauline’s indominable spirit and extroverted nature kept her engaged in many of her favorite pursuits, golf, bridge, Women’s Club, and cheering on her favorite teams from the Universities of West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Notre Dame. She was also blessed with the love of her 9 grandchildren and 26 great-grandchildren.

In her later years, Pauline assumed the role of family matriarch with accomplished grace. Her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren made their homes across the United States, but it was Pauline and her home in Illinois that continued as a bond for the family. She will be missed, but her legacy of love and devotion to family, friends, and community will live on in those whose lives she touched.

Peace Everyone. Peter Schloss

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NBC, CBS, FOX, NPR… Our eyes are glued to a world caught in the grip of seismic change. For most there is anxiety, for some it rises to fear and even panic, others are fixed with disbelief and disgust. This is not a time given over to the more moderate and passive emotions. But what about the children. What does this life appear like through their eyes.

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Recall if you will life as a 7 year old. The first 2-3 years are a haze of dim recollections, virtually no solid memories. The entire conscious experience of that child is compressed into a span of 4 years. Through the eyes of that child it takes FOREVER until the next Easter, birthday, or Christmas arrives! Those events will have only occurred 4 times in her memory, only celebrated at that point every quarter of her lifetime.

Put into perspective: I will soon celebrate my 68th birthday. For me birthdays are separated by only 1/68th of my lifetime… only 1.5 percent of my life now passes each year. For the 7 year old a year feels nearly 17 times longer. When a 7 year old looks back to when he turned 6 it is the equivalent of me looking back to when I was 50. Imagine the span of time and the experiences that occurred from then until now and then understand that this is what 12 months presents for that 7 year old child.

We live in a time of uncertainty that will pass and then normalize within the next 1 or 2 years. However, for the children a year or two can permanently define a childhood.
A child wakes in the night gripped with fear. Clutching a blanket to her cheek she wanders uncertainly into her parent’s bedroom. “Mommy, I heard a noise and I think it came from under my bed.” The mother gently raises her head from the pillow and with the lilt of a knowing smile screams, “SNAKES, I KNEW IT!! THERE ARE SNAKES UNDER YOUR BED!!!”

Absurd? Isn’t that what we do when in the presence of our children we glue ourselves to every “Breaking News” story? Do our children have the capacity to understand the anger, frustration, and fear that their trusted adults mouth? There is another option.

Recently I have witnessed afternoons where children are taking walks with their parents. They play ball together in the yard. One gentleman was building a fire in his yard that might serve to toast marshmallows and perhaps make “Someores” this evening. Parents are listening to their children’s questions and answering them. Neighborhoods are being rediscovered by parents through the eyes of their children and children through the eyes of their parents. These fortunate children and their fortunate parents may remember this as a time when life went on hold and it was a gift that will be remembered and shared as… “I remember back when your great-grandfather and I…”

Peace Everyone. Pete

PS: I share this wonderful and timely bit of prose written by Kitty O’Meara:
“And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.
And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.”

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The last few weeks have been tough. The Chinese might say that Christine and I are living in “interesting times”.

Her 101.5 year old Father recently passed away. Earlier this week we traveled to be at my 94yo Mother’s side as she faces end-of-life issues that have taken her from the home she loves into skilled nursing care and Hospice. Her nephrologist opines, “2 weeks, maybe 2 months… but it will be a peaceful passing.” Christine is home uncomfortably recovering from shoulder surgery that occurred yesterday and I have an orthopedic consult on Monday for a similar problem. As with so many others, we have both taken “social distancing” to heart courtesy of covid-19. For us this means temporarily becoming “virtual parents and grandparents” via Facetime.

I find that I am drawn to each “breaking story” of the emerging pandemic. A few years ago I read an excellent book, “The Great Influenza”, by John M. Garry, that chronicled the Spanish Influenza Pandemic of 1918.

My interest in those events is not casual as it has spanned decades to my pre-teen years. In the early 1960’s my family lived in South Holland, Illinois. At that time it was deemed the “Onion Set Capital of the World”. Instead of the rows of subdivision houses that now define that community there were endless rows of onion sets growing in expansive farm fields.

 

Migrant workers annually swelled the little community and briefly caused a shift in the demographics from primarily Dutch immigrant roots to Mexican ones. I ran those fields and explored the forests beyond. It was in those woods near Thornton Illinois that I came upon a long forgotten cemetery.

Then there was barely a hint of a road through an overgrowth of saplings, vines, and trees. However, among the thicket I saw an irregular array of tombstones. Some from as early as 1910 and others dating to the late 1920’s. What captured my attention were the dozens of graves that dated to around 1918, most of which were younger adults and children.
Returning home I told my parents of my “find” but drew little interest and no information from them. The South Holland Public Library (where I was a “frequent flyer”) offered no insights. It was not until years later that I learned of the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic and connected the dots to that abandoned cemetery.

The internet provided a little more information: Mount Forest Cemetery was founded in 1909 as a Negro cemetery at the southern extreme of Cook County. It closed in 1939. During the pandemic of 1918 a portion of the cemetery became a potter’s field for some of Chicago’s African American influenza victims.


(All images in this post are from the internet.)

Statistics, whether about the Spanish Influenza Pandemic or covid-19 are faceless and nameless. In 1918 the world population was 1.9 billion, with the United States population standing at about 105 million. Today, those numbers are about 7.7 billion and 350 million respectively.

In 1918 nearly a third of the world population is believed to have contracted the virus and the mortality rate is estimated to have been around 3 percent. Covid-19 is believed to have a 2 percent mortality rate. I have heard folks say that 2 percent is no big deal. However, when one applies that to current population figures a different image emerges.
Estimates place the world death toll in 1918 at up to 50 million.

The United States suffered over 500,000 deaths. Covid-19 seems to be just as contagious but slightly less deadly. Nevertheless, with a population density that is 4 times greater than in 1918 it is little wonder that health experts have been alarmed from the beginning. If 30 percent of 350 million become infected and there is a 2 percent mortality rate then the bottom line reads 2 million Americans might perish. What these “numbers” fail to take into account is the impact upon the lives of those who spend weeks and months struggling through recovery, unable to work. Approximately 30 million Americans are without health insurance. For them a health crisis is also a financial one. We face a health care system likely burdened beyond its capacity.

While the “statistics” are sobering, it is my memory of that cemetery that remains foremost in my thoughts. Each one of those tombstones was a real person and behind that person stood a grief-stricken family.

Prudence dictates that we listen to the experts… take to heart the mantras of “social distancing” and conscientious attention to hygiene. In 1918 Philadelphia and St. Louis were the 3rd and 4th largest cities in the United States. In the face of that emerging epidemic they took polar opposite approaches to the contagion. St. Louis imposed a shutdown of large events and gatherings. Philly hosted a huge War Bond Parade (over 200,000 in attendance) that became a hotspot for community contamination. More than 12,000 died of influenza in Philadelphia while the toll in St. Louis was 700.

Prudence is not panic. Panic is a shopper mindlessly buying a basket full of toilet paper that they have no logical need for.

Panic is shelves being emptied of every form of canned good in a frenzy of impulse shopping. Again, the lessons of 1918 can be instructive. The virus will run its course. There will be disruptions, but it will not be apocalyptic. Panic buying does nothing tangibly beneficial for the shopper, but damages those who might need just a few rolls of that TP. Panic is a sad but understandable feature of what occurs when we abandon our consideration for others to join the stampeding herd.

Then there are the profiteers: Stories are surfacing of those who seek to turn social misfortune into personal gain. There is the “entrepreneur” who saw an opportunity to make it big by driving 1,500 miles and stopping en route at every pharmacy, Walmart, Target, and “Dollar” type store that he passed. He bought over 17,000 small bottles of hand sanitizer at a cost of a dollar or two each and then began reselling them on Amazon for up to $70.00 apiece. This outrageous example of gouging resulted in Amazon quickly closing his account. Now he is stuck with all of those dispensers while others in need of the product go wanting.


There is the “Christian” televangelist who sells toothpaste on his website, implying that it will immunize the user from covid-19… and the popular internet conspiracy pundit who preys upon his listeners by peddling phony virus “cures”. What of the “talking heads” who make brash and irresponsible claims for the purpose of stirring up controversy to drive up their ratings?
These are the human viruses that infect our society and for which there will never be a vaccine or a lasting cure.

Peace Everyone… and don’t forget to wash your hands. Pete

PS. A metaphor: Walking through a forest with his eyes closed a man bumps into a tree now and then. He is unaware of the forest that surrounds him until he opens his eyes. Without broad testing of the public we remain ignorant of the extent of covid-19 infections that run through our communities, aware only of those most critically ill.

William Alden Nichols, a charter member of the “Greatest Generation”, passed from this life on February 24, 2020.

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“Bill” was 101. He was preceded in death by his wife of 74 years, Doris Irene (Robinson) Nichols, son William A. Nichols Jr., and daughter Lelani (Albert) Himegarner. He is survived by his daughters Kathryn Wimett, Christine (Peter) Schloss, and son Robert “Bob” Nichols. In life he was a blessing to his grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren.
Bill lived a storied life which included his presence as one of the first members of the United States Armed Forces to occupy Hiroshima at the end of World War 2. For pictures and to read more of this man’s remarkable life please see the tribute posted in celebration of his Centennial Birthday:
http://mediationkc.com/2018/11/11/november-11-2018-william-alden-nichols-100-years-and-counting/
Peace Everyone. Peter Schloss

It has been a week since we returned to Kansas City and the time seems right to conclude the experience with some reflections.

First of all, it was not a “typical” trip for us. Since retirement 5 years ago the majority of our trips have been 4-6 weeks long, a few as long as 12 weeks, but none that I recall of just one week. VSecondly, we prefer to be “on the move” rather than stationary as we were in Cozumel.

Finally, we aren’t usually “beach people”, but find that the mountains and interior spaces are more to our liking. What was typical for us is the search for the unusual. We certainly found this over the course of our week on the island.

Ventanas al Mar, loosely described as our resort, was an exceptional experience but not for everyone. It is located 12 miles from town and is the only hotel on the east side of the island. There is virtually nothing but beach and waves washing the shore for miles to the north and south.

Electricity was furnished by a generator. The occasional flicker and “lights out” never lasted longer than a few seconds but gave a slight insecurity about continued reliability.
At most there were 40 guests which is near capacity for this small hotel. The staff of 4-6 was attentive and very friendly. They also cautioned us that the tap water was untreated and not fit for human consumption.

Our room was basic and pleasant. Glass doors opened to a sandy area above a cliff overlook.

This is the first place in Mexico that the morning sun illuminates.

The sound of the surf was constant and loud like a pulsing rocket engine. After 3 nights the roar was no longer a novelty and we began closing the glass doors at night. This had the unfortunate effect of denying us the pleasant breeze that made the night humidity more bearable. The hotel’s air conditioning system is turned off during this time of the year.

Breakfast (included in the price of the stay) was a pleasant fruit forward affair that included eggs and house made tortillas. Dinner was optional and we took advantage of it 5 of the 7 nights.

Our room cost $144.00 (US) a night. The dinners and drinks added another $450.00 to the cost of the week. Not unreasonable, but then hardly “cheap”.

The night before our return to the States was Valentine’s Day. The staff went out of their way to create a magical dinner experience with an excellent meal served under holiday lights, poolside, to the sound of a local music talent. We will remember that evening as the highlight of our stay in Cozumel.

The occasions that we dined in town were pleasant. One evening we enjoyed fine dining at a steak restaurant located at the farthest edge of the tourist area.
On another occasion the sought out a “locals’ favorite”. I doubt that it will ever make it on the list of cruise ship recommendations, but the mountain of roasted meats was astounding, excellent, and served at an incredible price. About $12.00 total for the two of us, beer included.

In an earlier post I chronicled the saga of our rental VW “Bug”.

There was a second rental car: A trusted local became aware of our experience and offered to secure a rental car for us for the last 3 days of our stay. He called a friend in the local car rental business. As intermediary using his cell phone he passed my questions on the friend and responded to me with the answers… “Is it a good car?”, “Si!”, “Do you take credit cards?, “Si!”, “Does the price include ALL insurance, taxes, and costs?”, again “Si!”.
The agreed price was 800 Pesos a day. For an additional 200 Pesos (cash) he would deliver the car to us at the hotel. Cool!
He arrived at the agreed time with the car, tailed by a young man on a scooter who would drive him back to town. From there things became a bit annoying and unsettling He wore a shirt with a rental car company insignia, different from the company name emblazoned on the side of the car. The paperwork bore the name and contact information for yet a third company. “That will be 2,400 Pesos, cash, plus 900 Pesos for insurance” said he as I immediately protested the price increase and change in the required method of payment. We finally settled on the 1,100 Pesos a day and agreed that I would pay for the rental in cash but at the time the car was returned. He did take an impression of my credit card “For security”.

But for a few dents and scrapes the car looked ok, certainly a huge improvement over the “Bug”. The rental worked out fine, but again there was an overriding sense of “What if…” that lingered until the car was returned. Incidentally, the return was not at a rental office but at the side of the road near the airport where we were instructed to wait for him. He would arrive by motor scooter piloted by his young friend. So much could have gone bad, but it ended well.

As a cruise destination Cozumel, like so many others, is packed with high end jewelry, perfume, and liquor stores. For each one of those there are another 25 souvenir and tee-shirt shops.

It seems that every local there is engaged in the art of separating tourists from their money. I quickly wearied of it and found little to recommend in the tourist district except for passible eating, a cold beer, and the occasional interesting street performance.


Mexicans that we encountered outside of that district, most notably Pedro at the San Gervasio Maya Ruins, were pleasant, kind, and helpful.

The traffic was brutal and unpredictable. There were motor scooters everywhere, often with as many as 4 people on board. Toddlers hung over the handlebars like hood ornaments.

We once saw a family of 5 traveling on a single scooter. toddler hanging on between dad and the handlebars, a young boy sandwiched between dad and mom, with an infant strapped to mom’s back.

Will we do it again? Possibly, but not the same way. I think that for a 1 week trip we would arrange 4 of the nights in a high-end “all inclusive” mainland resort and the remaining 3 would be on the island at Ventanas. I also think that we would explore the possibility of working in extra days for a side trip to one of the monumental Maya archaeological sites. For now we have our travel sights set on other destinations.

Later this year we plan a two month trip with our camper to Labrador and Newfoundland Canada which is the easternmost point of mainland North America.

I will probably work in a solo trip or two, and overshadowing everything will be the construction of our vacation home about 25 minutes south of Breckenridge Colorado.

Until later… Peace Everyone. Pete

It is Tuesday, February 18th and we have been home in Kansas City since Saturday. It is good to be home, and a few days of “down time” after our week in Cozumel feel good. I intend to post some summary thoughts about our week on the island, but for now I want to address a particular experience off the Yucatan Peninsula.

The island of Cozumel is located approximately 12 miles east of the mainland and 50 miles south of Cancun. The island is 30 miles long (north to south) and about 10 miles wide. It is highly developed on the west, but virtually undeveloped the length of its east shore. Its chief economic driver is tourism. The name Cozumel is derived from the Maya language “Ah Cuzamil Peten” which means Island of swallows. Which brings me to its Maya roots and history.

Central America and the Yucatan, the area that was eventually the heartland of the Mayas, was populated over 10,000 years ago. By 2,000 BC settlements were established and the people were cultivating crops, developing pottery, and producing art. Cities and large monumental structures were developed by 750 BC. A complex system of phonetic and hieroglyphic script, the most elaborate in the Americas, was in use by 400 BC. Around the 3rd Century BC the Maya City of El Mirador had grown to cover an area of well over 6 square miles. It was one of many Maya cities connected by a well-developed system of transportation and trade. A number of cities in Mesoamerica ranked among the largest in the world in both size and population. The Maya civilization was among the most advanced in the world in astronomy, math (perhaps the first in human history to employ the use of zero as a placeholder), and agriculture. It has been estimated that over half of all crops cultivated world-wide trace their origins to agricultural Mesoamerica where maize (corn), beans, squash, tomatoes and peppers were first developed.

On Thursday Christine and I visited the Maya archaeological site, San Gervasio, located in the center of Cozumel. Small by the standards of better known Chichen Itza or Tulum, it was nevertheless very important to Maya women. Here the sun rose first in the land of the Maya and women sought to make a once in a lifetime pilgrimage to the shrine of Ix Chel, a goddess of fertility, childbirth and arts of the home. It held this status for approximately 1,000 years until it was abandoned around 1550 AD, perhaps because of a smallpox epidemic of Spaniard origin that decimated the island. Archaeologists have identified 3 mass graves on the site that appear to contain the remains of disease victims.
The original site extends over several square miles, but the restored portion that is available to the public is much smaller. Restoration was conducted with the assistance of archaeologists from Harvard and the University of Arizona.
Here is a map of the site:

A virtual tour is available online.
( https://www.capafilms.com/360/chan4/ )

Admission to San Gervasio was a very reasonable 183 pesos (about $10.50 US). Visitors are free to wander the grounds on their own, but we had been encouraged to avail ourselves of the assistance of one of the guides.

My school derived notions that pre-Columbian America was a land of primitive savages had already been turned upside down and inside out.

(See http://mediationkc.com/2019/12/12/chile-before-chile-santiago-december-10-2019/ )

What was “new” to my understanding came in the form of our guide Pedro, a young Mexican who self-identified as Maya.

Through him we learned that a distinct Maya culture continues to this day. Pedro is a handsome young man with a winning smile and a baseball cap worn backwards. He spoke excellent English which we learned was largely self-taught. What is more, Pedro’s first language is Maya, his second Spanish, English is third, and he is currently working on learning Mandarin Chinese!
Pedro accompanied us for over an hour and provided a detailed explanation of the history of the site and his people. Pedro identifies as citizen of Mexico, but he speaks with great pride of his Maya language and heritage, much as I would of my own German and Lebanese roots. Over the course of our tour I often found myself doing a double-take that accompanying us was a bristling intellect disguised by loose slacks, backward cap, and a very relaxed bearing.

Among the buildings and structures that we visited were the small house shrine,

The altar platform,


The residence of an elite family,

The elite family shrine,

The archway and road to the coast,

The “Temple of Bats” (so named because when it was discovered it was full of them),

The celestial observatory,

The Palace and central plaza.

There was more, but our favorite part of the day was making the acquaintance of a delightful modern Maya gentleman.

Peace Everyone. Pete

PS. The Maya elite were highly literate. Their books were written on a form of paper that folded much like a map does. Only three examples exist today because of the efforts of conquistador bishops that resulted in the destruction of all of their literature.

In my youth a catch phrase for regret often started with the words, “But it sounded like a good idea at the time.” Yesterday we found those words still ring true.

Recall that we missed our appointment to pick up the rental car on Saturday due to the late arrival of our plane. Fortunately, we were able to reschedule the car for Monday. I had reserved a newer VW GOL, standard shift, no ac, but good serviceable transportation at a fair price.

We arrived to pick up the car. In front of us were two American gentlemen, each about 60 years old, who had just returned a car complaining of some safety issues. They were quickly given a substitute vehicle and left. Focused on our business, I virtually ignored the discussion between them and the manager.

When I originally reserved our car I had asked if one of the advertised VW convertible “bugs” was available. On Saturday it was not, but it was Monday and one was available, gassed and ready to go for the same price as the more pedestrian GOL. Hell Yessss I thought!!

I entertained visions of my more reckless days… Sunglasses on, top down, my love at my side, buzzing down the road in a real classic with the wind streaming through my thinning white hair. We signed the paperwork, captured the keys, and walked around the block to the lot where our dream VW was parked.

So it was a little rough around the edges. Heck what 20+ year old car wouldn’t use a bicycle cable and lock to hold down the hood. Who really needs a working seatbelt… or for that matter a speedometer. Using a blowtorch to convert a sedan to a convertible speaks of creativity and enterprise. The windows don’t roll up, so hand signals easily substitute for a non-working left turn signal. This is going to be FUN!

When the attendant began his walk around checklist for visible damage it began to occur to me that it would have been easier for him to check-off the non-damaged areas. With each checkmark I smiled and gave an understanding nod. When he had significant difficulty starting the car Christine began shooting me concerned looks. Heck, that overwhelming odor of raw gasoline only meant that he had flooded the car. “Christine, it has a REAL carburetor, this is part of the charm of timeless German engineering.”

We seized on the opportunity to leave the car on the lot to walk the pier and cruise dock area of west Cozumel.

We have not been here before. But we have been to Cozumel’s clones in St. Thomas, St. Maarten, Ketchican, Juneau, and a dozen other places where huge ships disgorge cash laden tourists as prey for vendors who stand in the shop doors ready to pounce. I have marveled that a commodity that is as “rare” as diamonds can be offered in such an endless supply by so many shops worldwide.

We made short work of our sojourn through the markets and decided to seek out a beer before returning to our little “Luv Bug”. As luck would have it a promising bar was just ahead and the two Americans were each having a beer, fingers wrapped around the biggest burritos I had ever seen. They waived us over to join them. We were scarcely seated before that began to share the saga of rental cars #1 and #2. I vaguely recalled their complaints at the service desk about rental #1. However, I now learned that they had only gotten 2 blocks in #2 before the clutch did a complete fail. They were forced to push the car half up on a sidewalk to avoid blocking traffic. Clearly, the Universe was telling them, “no car rental for you”. Damn the bad luck for those agreeable fellows. They were waiting for their gals to come back from shopping and explained that they had decided to catch a cab to the resort on the east side of the island. Small world, they had rooms at Ventanas where we are lodged! We promised to continue our visit over beer there later in the evening. Back to the VW.

I got it started, barely. Finding reverse, first gear, and second gear became a game of “hide and seek”. Turning the steering wheel between 10 and 2 o’clock had absolutely no effect on the direction the vehicle travelled. There is much more, but suffice it to say my delusional bubble had popped. Within 5 miles I executed a U turn (given the steering, it was more like a cursive “W”) and much to Christine’s relief I announced that life is too short and I didn’t want to make it any shorter. We returned the car and caught a cab.

Back at Ventanas we were greeted by the two Americans and found that the rental car perils we shared made for big smiles and fast friendships. Al and Elizabeth are from Minneapolis and their good friends, Rick and Holly are from Denver. The world shrank just a bit more as we discovered that they were staying in rooms that adjoined ours! The tone for the evening was set for wine, dine, tequila and talk. My jaw dropped when we learned that Rick and Holly had owned a log home a stones throw down the road from where we are building a vacation home in rural Colorado. What a coincidence!… as if running into them at the car rental place, then the bar, and then finding that they are among the 34 guests at the same resort where we are staying wasn’t coincidence enough.

Later, our cadre grew by one more couple. Tracy and Mark from Springfield Missouri. During the evening we discovered that Tracy’s favorite uncle is Scott Sifferman… who 40 years ago was my friend and classmate throughout 3 years of law school. Damn, but you just can’t make this shit up!

Peace Everyone… and as Eddie in San Juan Puerto Rico told me in 2018, “Pete, In life there are no coincidences.”

PS. It is worth remembering that had our plane landed on time, or our car rental been perfect, none of this would have happened and we would have been poorer by 6 friends never met.

Some days play out like a short story. Sunrise is chapter one, and the epilogue is written by the glow of a full moon. In between are vignettes that are the moments of the day.

Sunday was not a page turner. There were no “white knuckle” experiences. It was just pleasant.

Lounging on the beach.

Sharing the pool with the neighborhood Iguana.

Lunch at “Coconuts”, the local “dive” where the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs are celebrated… along with every State that has ever issued a license plate, every venue that has sold a tee-shirt… and every woman who has worn and then left her thong or bra.

Sunday is the one day each week that there are few (if any) landings by cruise ships. Instead, for the locals it is a day of rest and an invitation to “tailgate” on the shores of the eastern side of the island.

No cares, no worries, no stress, “no te preoccupies”… Just a mouthwatering grilled octopus for dinner.

This is the land of endless Summer… let tomorrow take care of tomorrow.

Peace Everyone. Pete

PS: It has been about 2 months since I last posted my “Thoughts”. We have been consumed by the holidays and remained close to home. I have not been idle. Over these weeks I have worked to assemble my travel posts into bound volumes for each of our children, our parents, and us. I have occasionally been asked, “How long have you been a writer?” Honestly, I have never considered myself one.

In compiling my writings and selected pictures I have been surprised by the volume of material. The hard bound books are 12” x 12”, and Volumes 1-3 are back from the printer. I am working of Volume 4 and I anticipate that the project will exceed 700 pages. Maybe I am a writer.

PPS: This is not a commercial enterprise. The books are expensive and only worth it as away communicating life as we know it to lives that follow us, as yet unknown.

Pete