"I cannot live without books: but fewer will suffice where amusement, and not use, is the only future object." -- Thomas Jefferson

Monday, January 28, 2019

Staycation - Fiesta Inn

3/12 Staycation: Fiesta Inn

Fiesta Inn
Calle 5 B #290A x 20A y 60
Colonia Revolucion

999 964 3500

443 137 8728

Being a tourist in your own town is one way to see and do things you have on your to-do list but didn’t get around to.

Vacations are also often full of surprises and Staycations are no different.

For all my research and planning, I forgot my pajamas, one of my OTC medicines and a few other things like the tour company did not take credit cards. Luckily, I could use another piece of clothing as sleepwear, Chedraui’s was right next door, and my friend had enough cash to get us through the weekend.

Expectations can be useful or counter-productive. I had high expectations regarding my stay at Fiesta Inn in norte Merida but found the stay a bit odd.

It started with the entrance. You enter the hotel from the street and need an escort to the reception desk one floor up, because until you get your key card as an official guest, a key card is need to put into a slot in the elevator to get it to function. I do understand that the system is part of the hotel's security operations.

The first floor is the reception area, lobby area, the bar, the cafe, and the business center.

Then, once in the room, another 3rd floor room, my lucky floor, you see the wash basin sitting outside the bathroom with a sliding mirrored wall set in front of it. At first, it seemed innovative but even if I carefully washed my hands, water still spilled onto the counter that held the hospitality items, and the mirrored wall was eventually shifted aside and hardly used.

The card system was frustrating. You had to leave the card in a wall slot near the door to keep the lights and AC on. When you wanted it dark, you had to turn off the lights individually, but if you turned off the light over the basin, you could not use any of the lights in the room. The only way to use the bed light was to turn on the basin light which can be too much light for late evening reading. Plus, if you didn’t want AC, you had to turn it off manually. It got confusing.

Fiesta Inn has the smallest bar I have ever seen. It is an island right next to the reception desk and serves as part of the entrance to the cafe just beyond the bar.

On the plus side, the floor staff, room service staff and reception staff were prompt and helpful. Also the room was clean and the AC worked well.

More pluses -  Fiesta Inn is next door to Gran Museo Maya. Chedraui, a grocery store, is one block over. Gran Plaza and Merida Gallerias, two shopping malls, are close by and Costco is nearby, if you like shopping. Also, you can catch a bus on Calle 60/Avenue Technologico to centro.

Norte Merida is a modern development with highrise buildings, good sidewalks, but little else to see. Can't help but think it is rather sterile.

On my first night, the kitchen provided a great dinner: Sopa Xóchitl (shredded chicken breast, vegetables, rice, avocado, and savory spices), Fajitas de Arrachaera Pollo o mixtas with refried beans and guacamole. Room service is one of my favorite pleasures when away from home.

I usually check out the cable channels on the hotel’s television. I guess I am hard to please because even with 34 channels that featured soap operas, “News”, movies, cartoons, comedies, history and nature channels with some shows dubbed or subtitled, I found little of interest.

But, I got lucky. I had just watched the movie “New Year’s Eve” at home on DVD, it was showing on one of the channels, dubbed in Spanish. Since I was familiar with the movie’s various stories, I enjoyed watching it again, in Spanish.

Another positive, there was a coffee maker in the room and you could call room service for more coffee packets. But, they did not have decaf coffee packets.

Friday night was spent exploring the area, while I had a great walk, there was not much to see other than shopping malls. While the sidewalks were great, the area is not designed for pedestrians. Be careful crossing the streets.

Saturday morning, I went out again to explore before my friend arrived. When she arrived, we took a swim in the hotel's outdoor pool. While the pool was not very deep or long, it was clean and pleasant. Towels were provided. I love hotel pools.

After the swim, we visited the Gran Museo Maya.

The El Gran Museo del Mundo Maya is a wonderful building. I appreciated the design in many ways. The architects beautifully incorporated a walking ramp with a staircase.

Various plantings dot the wide upper and lower plazas. The entrance and foyer are open and combined with the windows that surround the building give a sense of space. Friendly security guards assist you with interactive exhibits and guide guests along the wide corridors from one exhibit or other areas.

The outer design of the upper portion of the museo is symbolic of the Ceiba tree, central to Mayan mythology.

"La Ceiba and the sacred tree connects the world with the underworld and the sky and the shadow as ineffable value in a sun-scorched land but refreshed by the breeze." -- Designlike)

I spent most of my time in the first exhibit about the Chicxulub crater, a crater formed on the Yucatan peninsular by the impact of a giant meteorite or comet billions of years ago. The impact caused major changes in the environment causing of the extinction of the dinosaurs and more. The crater had been "discovered" several times in past but it's existence was not officially announced until 1981 by Glen Penfield and Antonio Camargo, Pemex employees. (See wikipedia link below.)

For more information, consider visiting the Crater museum at Parque Cientifico Technologico de Yucatan.  

At the exhibit, I saw my first meterorite. The displays were attractive and informative. Several were interactive.

Then we moved on to the Mayan exhibit. I still find it hard to grasp the scope and diversity of the Mayan civilization. It is going to take years to really understand Mayan history.

The exhibition is well done. Several exhibits are interactive and some displays are beneath the floor under glass. There are replicas of Mayan writing on stone and in rare book form, and various representations of Mayan life. The wall plaques are in Spanish, Mayan and English and some exhibits feature recordings in Mayan.

From the upper windows of the museo, you can see the Fiesta Inn.

One surprise find was a statue outside on one of the museo's lower plazas, it is dedicated to Yury Knórosov who deciphered the ancient Mayan language. What made the find more surprising was the man in the statue is holding a cat.

We had an early dinner in the hotel’s cafe. We were their only customers, so we got a lot of attention. My red snapper with steamed vegetable was very good. My friend enjoyed her “special” fajitas and margarita.

On Sunday, Tours Sol de Turquoise picked us up for a tour of Dzibilchaltún and Parque Arqueologico de Xcambó, two ruins less than a hour from Mérida. We spent a lot of the day walking but both sites were fairly easy to walk.

Dzibilchaltún (Lugar donde hay escritura en las piedras/“place where there is writing on the stones,”) is my favorite ruin. I've been there four times already. On each visit, I have had a different experience.

On my first visit, I was there at 5:00 in the morning to watch the sun rise and shine through the windows and door of the Temple of the Seven Dolls. This biannual event, on the Spring and Autumn equinoxes, highlights the skill and knowledge of the Mayans who studied astronomy, math and other topics. The cenote was closed and the museo was under construction.

The Temple of the Seven Dolls got its modern name because of the seven small carved figures found during excavation of the temple.

On my second visit with my niece, we walked the whole site and saw lots of iguanas and butterflies. We climbed the seating areas and were shown a small alcove where a carved stone had been found and was now in the museo. We dipped our feet into the cenote and fish nibbled our feet.

For those with trouble walking, the main pathway, called a Sacbé, is a roadway made of white stones which may be difficult for those in a wheelchair.  Getting down to the cenote is difficult.

Then, we went to the museo. I like the layout of the museo. A person in a wheelchair may have difficulty coming down the stone path leading to the museo but the building has wide doors and a wide floor plan and there are bathrooms at the site.

In the museo, there are many examples of carved stones and graphics that tell stories or glorify Mayan gods. The seven figures found when the Temple of the Seven Dolls was excavated are displayed.

On my third visit with my sister and her husband, we walked the site, inspected the stelaes and the Spanish chapel set in the Mayan game field. They went swimming in the cenote. From where I sat, I could see fish and other aquatic life in the water.

On my fourth visit, I treated two Méxican students studying English to a tour. Getting to the site was an adventure because on the day I choose to go there were no tours or autobuses going to the site. We ran to a calle in Centro to catch a collectivo to Chabekal, a town near Dzibilchaltún. From there we took a motor taxi.

I enjoyed showing them the site.

On most of my visits, I have taken a picture of a particular cactus.

March 2018

On this visit, the area around the Temple of the Seven Dolls had been cleaned and you could get closer for a better view of the temple. I loved it. It was as close as I had ever been to the temple.

This time I saw a turkey buzzard come to its nest atop the temple and a red raccoon-like animal (could be a coatimundi) burrowing into the soil for grubs.

Set back from the sacbé is a replica of a Mayan home with a yard, and various everyday tools on display. There is more to see and I have yet to see it all.

From there, we went to Techauc Puerto to see Parque Arqueologico de Xcambó, one of the lesser-visited ruins in the Yucatan.

As you approach Parque
Arqueologico de Xcambó you will see salt ponds alongside the road. Xcambó residents harvested salt thousands of years ago and many still do today. Xcambó was a Mayan fishing village as many of the villages along the Gulf of Mexico are today.

The site surprised me. It is big. It is set in woodlands with mangroves nearby.

It runs lengthwise, so when you see the first part of the ruins you are not prepared for the various stone buildings and steps you find further as you walk down the road from parking area. While the walk is easy, wheelchairs may have difficulty with the stony road.

As I walked among the various "rooms," it made me wonder how the rooms were used.

Visiting Xcambó made me want to understand the various types of stone construction methods used by the Mayan over time. It seemed to me that these structures were made in a different fashion.

I loved the woods. Walking about the ruin surrounded by trees gave me a sense of peace.

We completed the tour with lunch at a Progreso restaurant where we had delicious soup and hardy fish and shrimp tacos.

Sunday evening, my friend and I kept running down the hall every 30 minutes, in our nightwear, to look out the window trying to see the lunar eclipse. I got lucky, for a few seconds the clouds cleared and I caught a glimpse of the early phase of the eclipse before the clouds blocked the view. The cloud cover was impressive, it went on for miles.

As with vacations, I came home exhausted and dizzy with a brain full of wonderful experiences.

Other Resources:

Gran Museo Maya


Chicxulub Crater

Parque Cientifico Technologico de Yucatan





Parque Arqueologico de Xcambó


Updated 1/29/19, 1/30/19

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Tuvok's Special Scrambled Eggs

Still cooking recipes from my Star Trek Cookbook by Ethan Phillips and William J. Birnes. Tuvok, from Star Trek Voyager, is played by Tim Russ.

Tim’s Special Scrambled Eggs 
The secret to my scrambled eggs is the texture. By adding ⅛ cup of whole milk to 2 medium or large eggs, I lighten up the eggs for a pinch of any spices such as parsley, rosemary, or thyme. My typical breakfast is a chicken or turkey sausage, scrambled eggs, wheat toast, maybe a waffle or pancake, and coffee, not Vulcan mocha.

Phillips, Ethan. Star Trek Cookbook (p. 47). Pocket Books/Star Trek. Kindle Edition. 

While Tim's scrambled egg recipe does not differ much from my own. I had never used Rosemary or Thyme in my scrambled eggs. In addition, I use a dab of milk not 1/8 of a cup. The two changes made the eggs creamier with a different taste.


Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Coffee Limonade

I admit, I questioned the idea of coffee lemonade/limonade, but I tried it and liked it.

But, of course, I adapted the recipe to fit my circumstances.

Warning: I used instant decaf coffee :-)

Coffee Limonade
(Adapted from: https://www.thedailymeal.com/recipes/lemonade-coffee-trend-jump-recipe)


8 oz decaf coffee, cold (add 1 heaping teaspoon instant decaf to coffee cup, add 8 oz hot water)
A dollop of lime juice concentrate (my brand is pre-sweetened)
A dollop of water
Sugar to taste
Ice cubes


Allow hot coffee to cool.
Add coffee to a tall glass.
Add lime juice concentrate and water.
Add sugar, if needed.
Add ice cubes and stir.

Beet and Bean Spread

Beet and Bean Spread
(Adapted from: http://www.ww-recipes.net/2019/01/weightwatchers-adzuki-beet-pate-recipe/)


2 medium beets
215 grams of 430 gram package of white bean mash

4 Dollops olive oil
8 Dashes Garlic powder
8 Dashes Onion powder
2 Tspns Rice vinegar
2 Tspns Balsamic vinegar
S/P to taste


Wash and clean beets.
Pierce beets with a fork.
Place beets in microwavable container.
Microwave 12 minutes on high.
Use fork to pierce beets to see if they are soft throughout. May need to cook a few minutes more if beets are not done.

Let beets cool.
Use fork to carefully peel skin off beets.
Some skin may remain.
Cut beets into small cubes.
Use masher to mash beets.
Use fork to mash beets, again.

In a skillet, add 4 dollops of olive oil.
Add 8 dashes of garlic powder.
Add 8 dashes of onion powder.

Add vinegar.
Simmer and mix ingredients together for just a minute or two.
Remove skillet from stovetop/hotplate and reserve.
Add 215 grams or 1/2 a package of 430 grams of prepared white bean mash to mashed beets.

Suggestion: add the amount of prepared white bean mash you want, more or less.

Stir beans into mashed beets.
Add skillet mixture to beets and beans.
Add S/P to taste.
Stir ingredients thoroughly to mix together.

This is a hearty spread. But, you need to be careful handling cooked beets, your fingers get red and anything else that is touched by the beet juice can get red.

Serve with Tortilla chips or thick crackers and a knife to spread the beet/bean spread onto chips/crackers.


Updated: 2/15/19

Friday, January 18, 2019

GERD - Gastroesophageal reflux disease

As a mature female, I may occasionally post articles on aging and health.

The list below is incomplete but is meant to highlight foods that aggravate GERD and those that are relatively safe to eat.

I, now, adapt some recipes to make them GERD-Friendly.

  Recommended Foods to Avoid and Those that are Safe to Eat.



Caffeinated Tea
Carbonated Water



Citrus Juices like OJ
Grapefruit juice
Pineapple juice








Hot peppers

Spicy foods

Try to Use These Foods



Other fruits



Lactose-free Milk



--Grilled, boiled, baked, poached




Not on list




Mayo, Mustard, Sauces

Special Note:

While I will be labeling some recipes as #GERD-Friendly, they may contain items from the "NO" list because if a person can reduce their acid production substantially then they may try to use some of the forbidden items sparingly. But, if any food item increases acid production, do not use them.

Other Resources:


Watch for updates.

Updated: 2/15/19

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Jack Monroe's Creamy Salmon Pasta

This has been an interesting recipe to make. I learned to make a fish paste and fish “dumplings.” Sounds simple but it involved a lot of web searches and research.

I used Jackie M’s recipe as a guide to make the fish paste, later I tried tips from RedCook to make fish balls.

The fish paste worked well with Jack Monroe's Creamy Salmon Pasta.

Fish Paste
(Adapted from: https://jackiem.com.au/2015/05/19/how-to-make-fish-paste/)


a can of salmon, drained
3+ TBspns of flour
and a bit of water


Basically, in a bowl, add enough flour and water to the salmon and mix the ingredients thoroughly by hand until it is a smooth thick paste. Store the fish paste in the frig until ready to make Jack Monroe’s recipe.

I am math challenged and even with metric converter apps, my eyes roll when I try to convert grams and milliliters into ounces etc.

Unfortunately for this recipe, the conversions only confused me.

So, I went with my instincts.

Also, I forgot to use a smaller form of pasta like penne, I used spaghetti, vegetable flavored spaghetti. Pasta in smaller forms are easier to coat with sauce and extra ingredients don’t get lost in the pasta.

Jack Monroe’s Creamy Salmon Pasta
(Adapted from: https://cookingonabootstrap.com/2018/07/24/cheap-salmon-pasta-recipe/)



1 8oz package spaghetti
Olive oil
1 8oz can of mushrooms, drained
2 dashes onion powder
2 dashes hot pepper sauce
1 palmful of parsley
1 capful of lime juice concentrate
3/4 of 242g or 8.5 oz bottle of plain yogurt
1 heaping TBspn of salmon fish paste
S/P to taste


Add spaghetti to a pot of boiling water. Add a dab of olive oil.
Cook spaghetti for about 8 minutes, check doneness. Spaghetti should be easy to chew. Cook a little longer, if not done.

In skillet, add mushrooms, onion powder, hot pepper sauce, parsley, lime juice concentrate and S/P.
Stir thoroughly. Heat on low simmer until spaghetti was done.

After spaghetti is done, turn off burner but keep spaghetti in the pot.
Add plain yogurt and salmon paste to mushroom mixture. Stir mixture thoroughly, turn up heat to a full simmer.

Drain spaghetti and add to mushroom mixture.
Stir and toss thoroughly to mix sauce with spaghetti and warm up all the ingredients.
Taste the mixture. Add more fish paste and/or plain yogurt if needed.


Using Red Cook’s tips (https://redcook.net/2009/02/01/making-fish-paste/) as a guide, I made some fish balls mixed with bacon bits, onion and garlic powder and placed  them in boiling water for 5 minutes. Hmmm, while the flavor was good, they were a bit gooey, I had hoped that there would be various ways to cook fish balls but these are like dumplings.

I also tried frying them but if I had had smoke detectors, they would have sounded off an alarm. They are dumplings period.


Friday, January 4, 2019

Recetas de una Mujer Maya Moderna

Recetas de una Mujer Maya Moderna:
Easy Modern Mayan Recipes
by Sokky Yah


Now available from Smashwords at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/915152.

With over 35 simple recipes made in the tradition of the Mayan in the Seye Pueblo in Yucatán, México. Also, included are a few short stories by the author about her life in the pueblo.

Included are recipes for pork chops, chicken, spaghetti, desserts, soups, eggs, sandwiches, potatoes, and salads. Find recipes for Cotzitos, Gorditas, tortas featuring chaya, corn, and vegetables. Also, included are two recipes by the author's friend, Alan van Bogegraven.

Más de 35 recetas sencillas hechas en la tradición de los mayas en Seye Pueblo en Yucatán, México. Además, se incluyen algunos cuentos del autor sobre su vida en el pueblo.

Se incluyen recetas para chuletas de cerdo, pollo, espaguetis, postres, sopas, huevos, sándwiches, papas y ensaladas. Encuentre recetas para Cotzitos, Gorditas, tortas con chaya, maíz y vegetales. Además, se incluyen dos recetas del amigo del autor, Alan van Bogegraven.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Happy New Year 2019

Happy New Year!!!!!

Updated 1/2/19

Two friends came over to celebrate the New Year.

I had warned them I already planned to make a black-eyed pea dish, and a pasta recipe from my new Star Trek Cookbook by Ethan Philips and William J. Birnes.

Plus, I was going to attempt to make some of the “mocktails” from ecookbook. The ecookbook was a Christmas present and it has been a blast to read. Now, I was going to try some of the recipes.

The ecookbook has over 300 pages and is full of stories about all the Star Trek shows. Various characters offer their favorite recipes. Ethan Philips played Nelix on the Star Trek show Voyager and he offers many of the recipes Nelix “prepared” during the show.

While Philips and Birnes playfully make these recipes seem "Alien", they are regular recipes.

Many recipes are simple like Tim Russ’s (Tuvok) Special Scrambled Eggs or too complex for me, like Icoberry Torte.

Many recipes make tongue-in-cheek references to various Star Trek shows, like “Quadrotriticale Bread”, a reference to the original Star Trek and the famous episode The Trouble with Tribbles. While this is a bread recipe, it does suggest using some unusual ingredients like pressed black olives.

While I enjoyed reading the recipes and will probably try to make a few more, it was the "mocktail" recipes that intrigued me. Special effects technician, Alan Sims, offers recipes to make some of the famous drinks in the Star Trek series.

While I made several of these “mocktails,” I did not drink them. I wasn't sure all of them are drinkable.

Andorian Ale

Gallia Nectar

Romulan Ale

I tried to make Synthehol but need to work on it some more. Plus, I think I can do better with the Gallia Nectar.

I was glad my friends were coming. Holding a New Year’s Day open house was a tradition of my mom’s, so was serving a dish made with black-eyed peas.

The night before, while I sorted out and prepared many of items I would serve, I began to prepare the Black-eyed Pea Salad (See recipe at end of post.)

I followed the instructions for cooking the black-eyed peas using my hotplate. I thought I got it right.

I stored the peas in the frig and would finish the recipe in the morning.

But, in the morning the peas just did not taste like they were fully cooked.

So, I had to add water to the peas and microwave them at least 3 times at 6 minutes each time. Finally, they tasted cooked.

But, then the original recipe did not specific a particular vinegar. So, I felt a taste test was required. I tried a sample with apple vinegar, Nah, no good. Then, one with Balsamic vinegar, Nah, so-so. Then I tried red wine vinegar and that tasted better.

In the middle of all this, I had a minor health crisis and spent at least an hour in the bathroom.

The beans overflowed in the microwave. I had to go feed my friend’s dogs. I had made a fish paste for another recipe because I had confused two recipes. But, still given that I have had many kitchen disasters in the past, I still had 2 hours to get things done.

So, I did not worry except for a few minutes when I locked myself out of my friend’s house while on the patio feeding her dogs. I had no cell phone to call anyone. I couldn’t climb the walls or find another way out.

Here I was about to entertain my friends for the first time and I was stuck on my friend’s patio. Eventually, I got help and returned to continue preparing for our lunch.

I continued making the black-eyed pea salad and preparing the appetizers.

The apartment was clean and the fans were running. Things went well.

My friends were amused watching me make the Star Trek “mocktails” that were undrinkable. We had grape juice and later champagne as our beverages.

In addition, we all enjoyed the appetizers and the black-eyed peas before we began to make the meal, Commander Benjamin Sisko's Bajoran (Deep Space Nine) Mushroom-and-Peppers Ratamba Stew. As usual I made adaptations.

Because I could not find spinach linguine, I bought spinach fettuccine. It came in a bag of pre-rolled bunches.

In compliance with GERD diet modifications, instead of tomatoes, I added a tomato bouillon to the pasta water. Plus, I used onion powder instead of whole onions.

It came out very well. Plus, it had an "alien" look because the tomato bullion made the spinach fettuccine look yellow.

It was a good meal and a good day with friends.

We are each on an adventure.

Black-eyed Pea Salad

(Adapted from: http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/HNFE/HNFE-320/HNFE-320-11/HNFE-320-11.html)



2 Cups fresh, shelled black-eyed peas, washed

1 220g can of corn, drained

1 Cup bell peppers, diced

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper 

4 dashes onion powder

Note: Original recipe called for 2 TBspns of olive oil and 1 Tspn of ground cumin.


In a colander, wash peas.
Pour peas into saucepan.

Cover peas with water with an extra 1/2 inch of water above peas.
Bring to a boil.
Turn down heat to a simmer.

Simmer for 1 hour until peas are soft not chewy.

Drain and allow to cool.

Add to medium salad bowl.

I prepared this recipe in two and more stages.

In the morning, I wasn't happy with the peas, they seemed uncooked. So, I added about 1/2 cup water to the peas and microwaved them 3 times at 6 minutes each. Finally, I liked how the peas tasted.

Then, I added the corn, bell peppers, vinegar, ground black pepper, and onion powder. I mixed the ingredients thoroughly.

To me, the salad tastes fresh. I tried the cumin but it has a different flavor.

Note, I used various bell peppers, red, green and yellow. It gave the salad a holiday look.