Monthly Archives: September 2012

My Brush with the Centro de Endoscopia del Sureste

Ever have the feeling that you’re not feeling right? That heartburn that won’t go away no matter how many chiles habaneros you don’t eat?

You read up on the symptoms online, right? Then you make your prognosis/diagnosis. Hmm, that set of symptoms sounds about right so I must have this.

OK. First step, get a professional opinion.

Luckily, as with most Yucatecan families (and I count myself among those lucky enough to have an extended Yucatecan family) there is a doctor in the family. In this case, not only a doctor, but an ear, nose and throat specialist called in Spanish un otorrinolaringologo. Sounds like an exotic tropical Cuban tune, but once you enter the dimly lit clinic on Calle 57 you realize that although the ambience is definitely 1967 post-revolutionary Havana, there will be no music on this occasion.

The visit to the family otorrino (the shortened version is the more accepted term for his specialty) confirms my suspicions – and nagging dread – that an endoscopia must be endured. His medical prescription goes beyond just those 10 letters and stretches it out to a whopping 26 letters; I need an esofagogastroduodenoscopia.

It gives me heartburn just thinking about it. Hell, it gives me heartburn just spelling the damn word.

I make the appointment at the Centro de Endoscopia del Sureste, the location near Avenida Itzaes, not the Altabrisa one, because my doctor says that the newer one has some deficiencies. Not one to ask what those might be, I readily accept his suggestion and make my appointment with the nice ladies at the reception area who tell me what I need to not do before coming to my appointment the following day at 11 AM.

On the day, Better Half comes with me as one needs to have a designated driver for the entertaining post-endo drive home, as some grogginess might still be there and your reaction times might be a little slow when driving through a glorieta with 57 other drivers in a hurry. We sit and wait in the dimly lit room, the air conditioning on and everyone talking in whispers. The ambience is peaceful, almost disconcertingly funereal. Some very old people are sitting around waiting for their turn to be prodded, perforated or penetrated – in a medical way of course. No one looks happy to be there.

A drink is offered; a most disgusting clear liquid that ‘cleans the pipes’ so to speak. At least that is what I am told. Better Half and I check our email on our iPhones.

A loud – no, very loud – woman and her even louder daughter break the tranquility of the office and the old man a few seats away wakes with a jolt, his elderly body moving from a collapsed inflatable human to soldier-straight in about 2 seconds. The woman and her daughter provide all manner of personal details to the counter ladies in a voice that can probably be heard at the Plaza de Toros a good 15 blocks away in García Ginerés and their evident and complete lack of concern for their surroundings is astounding. From their look, their tone and their loudly-shared information which would make identity theft a piece of cake, we can surmise that they are of the so called clase acomodada, that breed of Meridano who has the oblivious self-confidence and indifferent arrogance of those born to have a muchacha, a mozo and a chofer at their beck and call 24/7. After a few minutes of teeth-gritting conversation, they also fall silent and poke at their phones.

Finally, thankfully, my name is called and I am directed to a small room with a hospital bed and instructed to remove my shirt and put on the classic hospital gown that everyone has come to know and love featuring it’s stunning pastel tones and daring back-cleavage-exposing aperture. A catheter  (is that what they are called?) is placed on my hand, inserted into a vein and a syringe attached. The liquid is yellow-green from what I can see. I onehandedly play with my iPhone and take pictures of myself while I lie there waiting for something to happen.

It does and I am wheeled into the operating room where Dr. Peniche Gallareta, whose brother I know from my days in the printing business, welcomes me as the intern rolls me on my side like a beached walrus, folding and placing my arms just so. The good doctor also chides me after finding out how long I have had my heartburn issues. If there is one thing I love about doctors and dentists, it’s how they manage to scold you when you finally do go and see them.

Yes, it has been a while.

Yes, I should probably have come earlier.

No, actually I never floss.

In any case, the syringe is injected, I am given something plastic to bite on, the doctor asks how the sleepiness is coming along and before I know it I am paying at the counter. I have NO recollection of the endo-process, the wheeling back into the little room, the removal of the afore-mentioned SexyBack gown, putting on my shirt or walking to the counter. My first memory is of paying the bill!


Now, I must take the beautiful color photos of my charming insides to a specialist so he can tell me what comes next.

I can’t wait.



The Casual Restaurant Critic VS Bisquets Bisquets Obregon

The mediocre food you can overpay for at Sanborns and Vips has some competition; the new Bisquets Bisquets de Obregon in Merida’s Monte Cristos neighborhood. If you are fan of lackluster, clueless service, food that is both bland and ridiculously overpriced, along with tasteless Mexico-City style bread that is presented in a basket for you to choose from as if it was boulangerie quality flown in fresh from Paris this morning, then you will love the new Bisquets Bisquets restaurant.

Among other things to intensely dislike: the very bright fluorescent lighting that highlights the garish colors and hard surfaces that even McDonalds would be hard-pressed to match; the clueless servers who seem to have been selected based on their lack of inherent waiting ability, the hard, understuffed, vinyl coated benches that take uncomfortable seating to a new low and of course the afore mentioned bread. Also the entire property surrounding the building has been tree-cleaned making the Bisquets Bisquets brand an important contributor to the continuing warming of the formerly white city.


Traveling to Chetumal? The Restaurant Critic Recommends…

There’s not a whole lot to motivate you to want to go to Chetumal, the capital city of the neighboring state of Quintana Roo unless you have business with the state government there or are enroute to points further south via Belize. As a city, it has a somewhat provincial feel completely unbecoming a state capital. Everything there revolves around government jobs, real and imagined and the economy is based on the circulation of  government money. Also, as part of the now historic so-called zona libre, exempt from taxes levied against consumers back in the day, Chetumal became synonymous with cheap imported stuff that folks from Merida would drive hours for to buy and smuggle back into the Yucatan. Smuggle, because there was an actual border checkpoint on the Chetumal and Cancun highways where these entered the state of Yucatan. Cheeses from Holland, candies from all over, cookies from Denmark and butter in blue cans from New Zealand all became staples in the Yucatecan diet in the 60’s and 70’s, long before Costco, Sams and Walmart. Or Pacsadeli.

Enough with the history already!

Nowadays Chetumal will remind those who have lived here for some time, of a late 70’s, early 80’s Merida. There is nothing historical to look at really, except for the occasional wooden house, a tradition that made the place charming but wiped out by a hurricane in the 1950’s and never rebuilt. Everything is modern, square, unimaginative concrete with garish paint and horrific signage everywhere. There seems to be a problem with providing folks with garbage containers and so garbage can be seen most everywhere, including among the mangroves at waters edge. Chetumal is a popular place for folks from Merida to go when they head over the border into Belize to buy inexpensive Chinese junk and for Beliceños who want to step up and out from their border area to see something more modern. Granted, the state of Quintana Roo is one of the newest states in the United Mexican States (official name of Mexico did you know) but still, and for the same reason, you would think a somewhat more dignified city would carry the label of state capital.

On that 70’s-80’s theme, the fancy restaurant described a continuacion, is very much like what the Critic recalls from fancy restaurant experiences in Merida 30 years ago. The formal service, the elegant table-side dessert and salad preparation, the hygiene-challenged, poorly lit and charmless bathrooms completely at odds with what is happening out front, is a throwback to an earlier, less sophisticated time at least in terms of restaurants.

El Faro

El Faro, which means The Lighthouse, is undoubtedly one of Chetumals’ better restaurants. Ask a local which place is the best and the name will come up. Featuring formal service, lots of glassware and cutlery, real tablecloths and the stuffy feel of a tropical restaurant gone formal, the food is presented in a way suggesting that the chef or whoever is in charge of the kitchen has seen a few magazines and websites. It is good without being great and combined with the attentive yet cool service, the experience is decent enough.


Bucaneros surprised the Critic because not only was the food great, but also the service was the friendliest experienced at any commercial establishment in Chetumal. Highly recommended for fun ambience and tasty, generously-portioned seafood creations including seafood-stuffed queso relleno!

My Two Centavos on the US Election – Romney vs Obama

Yesterday, while folding shirts I took the opportunity to listen to the keynote speeches from both the Republican and Democratic conventions ie Mitt (Mitt! Mitt!! Mitt!!!) Romney and Barack (4 more years! 4 more years!) Obama. I had a lot of shirts to fold.

First I watched Obama. Watched Michelle introduce him and actually teared up when she introduced him as “the love of her life, the father of their children…” as the man came on stage to thunderous applause. I’m a sap, I know. But can Anne Romney pull this off with any credibility? Obamas speech was, like practically all his speeches, well crafted, delivered with passion and eminently listenable-to. At the end, the kids came out and I thought “this is the man they accuse of being a Hitler, a communist, an atheist, destroyer of families, job eliminator and Muslim?” It’s just racism, plain and simple. They hate the fact that he is black and that says a lot about the good old U.S. of A. which has become a bipolar nation in severe need of a natural disaster to bring everyone back together under the same flag.

Of course there were things I didn’t agree with such as his pandering reference to the energy companies (“clean” coal – what the hell is that) and the continued insistence on being the greatest nation in the world. Um, no? But in general, the speech this man delivered made the time spent folding shirts pass quickly and effortlessly.

En cambio, although he also got thunderous and adulating applause, listening to Mitt Romney’s sappy story of his family’s life and their ‘struggles’ and the use of every cliché (“like every good American” “real American values” “we came together after the election because we are a good and generous people” etc ad nauseum) available to his speechwriters who must have just graduated from middle school in Kentucky, interspersed with crowds chanting “USA, USA” in a manner that suggested the sound might have been added later, actually made folding the shirts a boring tedious task as I was constantly seized by the urge to throw things at the computer. What people see in this uninspiring, white-bread, OBVIOUSLY fake human being is beyond me. Also, when I did glance at the computer screen, there were lots of closeups of very white people; the only blacks I saw were at the beginning, when a few black secret service dudes were there to control the enthusiastic white folks.

No comparison whatsoever. If millionaire Romney and his lackluster campaign wins the presidency, it will be a sad (and eminently boring) day for the USA and sadder still for the countries both to the south and north of the border of the ‘greatest nation on earth’.


Obama –

Romney –

Comic Relief –