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June 2018
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A Few Days in Morocco


The experience of traveling for a quick six day trip to Morocco (from England where I was visiting my mother) was very much worth it.

The first day,  I was up early and spent most of it on a bus crossing the High Atlas (868 hairpin bends on a very narrow road). The bus was First Class Direct, but it still took five hours to go 180 km.  The hands in the photo belong to the lady sitting in front of me. I loved the design on her hands and after trying to do so surreptitiously over her shoulder, got up the courage to ask in pidgin French if I could take a photo.img_1457

There was lovely scenery as we climbed about 7500 ft into a pine forest, then through a dry barren rocky landscape with adobe mudbrick villages. The houses are built one on top of another, huddled against the outcroppings.  Finally the bus descended onto a wide plain with an almost dry riverbed, passing crumbling remains of ksars, the adobe palace fortresses of Berber chieftains.

Ait Benhaddou is one of the finest remaining ksars, now partially restored by UNESCO.  After all that traveling, I was in no mood to do anything except relax, so I got up early and left this pretty little hotel and neighboring mosque to walk over to OLD Ait Benhaddou.  To get img_1495here I had to go into Ouarzazate, a large town built almost entirely since 1920 as a French administrative center controlling the south and Sahara. The town is now famous for huge film studios specializing in desert classics.  From there, a taxi back up the road 40 km and down the narrow track to this rather isolated and very peaceful village. (That is, except for the gaggle of tourists who just arrived…their voices echoing around the hotel.  All I can do is hope they’ll find their rooms and settle down!)

When I told my host Aziz I hadn’t liked the designs they offered at one particular hammam, he took me next door to meet his Berber neighbor Semia. She offered to demonstrate for me how they create the beautiful henna designs that the women wear on their hands.

img_1490I watched as first the henna powder was kneaded and pounded with warm water, until it smelled like grass clippings and had the texture of whipped cream at the “stiff peaks” stage. The design comes as a black plastic stencil, which I am assured is the correct traditional Berber way. Semia and her very strict-looking mother sat me on the floor, back against the couch facing the TV and began to very thoroughly plaster henna paste over the stencil. It all took quite a long time, while I watched Alice in Wonderland.

Once they were satisfied, first feet, then hands were encased in two layers of plastic shopping bags. Then I was buried in quilts and blankets to get REALLY hot and marinate for two whole hours.  While Mother Aisha finished plastering and bagging me, Semia cooked Berber flat bread filled with dried sheep, sheep fat and her own special spice mix which sounds awful but was really delicious.  As I had no hands, she sat and fed me bites followed by sips of mint tea. It was as if I was a baby again.

Waiting for the henna gave me plenty of time to talk to Semia in a mix of English and French.  She is 30 years old and won’t marry because, she says, Moroccan men want to control every detail of a woman’s life.  Her sister works, and Semia stays home to take care of her two small children. She says she hardly gets out of the house.  Her father is retired with a very small pension and life is very difficult.


Finally just as I could stand or rather sit it no longer, the big reveal. Blankets off, stencils peeled, excess henna scraped off with a knife, skin rubbed with baby oil and instructions not to bathe.  Semia and I are now lifetime buddies, too. She gave me a pretty headscarf and some of her spice mix, and I gave her a fistful of dollars, feeling inadequate to have nothing more.  Of course, I left with promises to return to Ouarzazate for a real local experience in her company.


I toyed with the idea of not coming back.

This is my sheik as he invited me to move in as his 4th wife. Okay, maybe not!

You can always recognize a tour guide because they are the only ones dressed as Berbers.  This one took me on a tour through the date palms and olive groves of the large Skaura oasis, with many old kasbahs which guarded the camel caravan trade routes from the Sahara to Marrakech.

From there to the oasis of Fint, a much smaller oasis but with dramatic black volcanic outcroppings. It has been much used as a movie set.

One of the photos is of a little “fixer upper”….no doubt soon to be a luxury vacation home for the Italians, French and other Europeans flooding into the area.   This is near where I’ve been staying in Ouarzazate.


The next day, I got back on the bus, back over the High Atlas and enjoyed a brief sortie into the souks of Marrakech. And now, back to England and back to Merida!


Carlos Hassey Esparza

Carlos Hassey EsparzaThese are sad times at Tierra Yucatan.

Our friend and companero Carlos Hassey Esparza passed away suddenly on Saturday morning.

None of us can believe that he won’t come walking through the door to make us all smile with his ready jokes, good humor, kindness and generosity. Carlos was loved and respected by all who know him, an old school gentleman who is enormously missed. One of the first to join our team at Tierra Yucatan, his passing has left a huge hole in our office. I know all of you who know him or worked with him will feel his loss.

RIP Charly.

More Magic in the East

market23 Sept: Leaving beautiful Bukhara behind with a bit of a sigh. I would have liked a bit more time to explore and to SHOP. So many carpets, forged knives, incredible hand embroidery, silk and more silk, but it is time to go, and we head for the hills. After the green fields full of melon, tomato, cotton, corn and the many apple orchards around Bukhara, the Kizilkum (Red Sand) desert begins again. Today we are travelling north east and into the low mountains. On the way, we make a stop at Chashma Spring, sacred to the Zoroastrians and to many locals for its crystalline water known to cure all ills. We see the locals coming with plastic bottles to fill and take home. The spring is interesting because it is very like our Yucatecan cenotes, and is also said to have been formed by an asteroid fracturing the earth’s crust, creating underground rivers. And here I thought that only happened in the Yucatan! Above the spring, on the hill, we are shown the remains of an adobe fortress believed to have been built by Alexander the Great around 330 B.C.

yurtcampAbout 4pm, finally, we arrive at the yurt camp. Sadly, there are now no nomads in Uzbekistan. So the yurts are not exactly authentic… a little bit kitsch, but interesting to see. The Uzbeks have always been a settled farming and trading peoples, but the Kyrgyz, who were once nomadic, were “encouraged” to settle during the years the area was part of the Soviet Union. They still live here, but now in scattered farms, and yurtinteriortheir huge herds of black/brown goats and sheep graze far and wide on the brown grass of the hills. We are four “girls” to a yurt. Our yurt is quite roomy and comfortable inside, and pretty, too! I love looking up at the many wood spokes supporting our dumpy felt Hobbit house. Next on the agenda, a camel ride on a beautiful furry dromedary with eyelashes to die for. As it turns out, a camel ride is a bit like a pony ride. We are led, five at a time, around a short loop of trail… that was quite enough! It’s been a long time since I went for a pony ride! Right afterwards, we climb up on the goatshighest dune to watch the sun set. My fellow travelers are all keen photographers, and it WAS a pretty sunset.

After dark and after dinner, we listen to a singer who accompanies himself on a sort of fish-skin guitar with dirgelike doleful music. It is not hard to imagine words, especially after the free bottles of rather crude vodka which accompanied dinner.

“It is so cold and the snow is so deep….the camel has died and now we will have to eat the baby camel…now how will we collect firewood?…I hate living in a yurt.” Ah, yes… vodka is great for the imagination.

4 Sept: I slept very well in the yurt. It was a perfect temperature… not too hot, not too cold. A few of the group are beginning to have wobbly innards, but for me, so mullahandcatfar so good. Today, we go to Samarkhand, which is about a 5 hour drive. After the bus ride, we get to Samarkhand around 12:30, and start a city tour at 2 pm. Samarkhand has truly amazing historic monuments which seem scattered over a large area until you get the hang of the route. The second day they were quite walkable actually, especially because our hotel is just across the street from the Registan complex.

The first stop on our tour was the burial place of Timur (Tamerlane), the great ruler of Samarkhand. We couldn’t resist watching while a group of local ladies posed for their photo op…but surprise! They were just as fascinated by us, and made us join them for the encore photo!

6 Sept: We got for a morning tour, this time around the Registan. These are three of possibly the most beautiful mosques (also known as madrassahs) in the world. One is still in use as a Friday Mosque and the others are the domain of the ubiquitous artisans, including miniaturists, antique sellers, carpets sellers, sellers of embroidery, marketand all of it of very high quality. Next we see the Bibi Hanum mosque and after that, we get a free afternoon to wander around. On this afternoon our group split up, the majority going back to Tashkent a night early, to go on to Kyrgyzstan tomorrow. Six of us stayed on together for a last day in Samarkhand.

7 Sept: I apparently ate something which didn’t agree with me on my last night in Samarkhand, and spent the day stretched out on my bed drinking green tea, reading a bit, and sleeping. It was a free day and not being up to shopping probably saved me from myself. At 4 PM, we boarded the very impressive high speed train to Tashkent. The train is spiffy, new and Spanish-made, with pretty air hostesses and a small snack served on the 2.5 hour 200 kph run. We were met at the station and chauffered back to our group starting point, the Hotel Uzbekistan for one last night of luxury. The luxury included a king size bed, white duvet, and a 15th floor view over Tashkent. I was finally feeling better, but still ready to crawl between the snowy sheets for an early night. Tomorrow I will be starting my solo trip to Ferghana Valley.

9 Sept: It isn’t that they don’t have a Sept 8th in Uzbekistan. I have lost a day somewhere. It is easy to do!

walledcityOn September 9, Hamid, my driver, arrives to pick me up. It’s a nice change to be able to ask all the questions you can ask because there are not 17 of you. So many questions about life here! And of course, I have a lot of questions about real estate. Although the government owns all the land, home ownership rates are very high. On the breakup of the Soviet system, everyone got the chance to buy their home for a very low price (a few thousand dollars) and low interest loans are available. Hamid is also curious to know about how WE do things… how I manage rentals, the buying process, costs of real estate. It turns out that some things are universal.

We talk all during the drive to Ferghana, which is the center of Uzbekistan’s silk and cotton production area and a very odd shape. Ferghana is a sliver of land poking north east from Tashkent between Kazakhstan and Kyrgystan. It crosses Uzbekistan’s highest major mountain range through an arid pass with a lot of construction going on. The road is being improved (it needs it!) and a new railway section is being built with the help of China and is almost complete. The area is dry and dusty, but in winter it is often snowed in by the severe weather which blows down from Siberia for around 40 days of the year. It makes me glad I live in the Yucatan!

And here I will leave you. Stay tuned for the next blog post, when I will take you to the potteries, spend a night in Ferghana and see silk from beginning to end at a Yodgorlik traditional factory.

Magical Places

A New Part of the Globe

The adventure begins! The names Samarkhand and Bukhara have always sounded magical to me, and I am finally off to explore a new part of the world!

On August 26th, after a week with family in England, I boarded a direct flight to Tashkent on Uzbekistan Airways. I was due to meet my fellow travelers on August 30th. Heading off for three days alone in a very distant city where I speak no common language was a little daunting, but exciting. As it turns out, as with most travel worries, my fears were unfounded. The weather on arrival was warm and sunny, and I was met by helpful English-speaking taxi drivers who organized me and got me to my charming small B+B close to the main bazaar.


Tashkent is big and beautiful, with wide avenues, lovely architecture, and many parks and big trees. The climate can be very hot in summer and very cold in winter, but Spring (April and May) and Fall (September and October) are the months to be here. Lucky me!

Traveling the globe with Tierra YucatanBy August 27, I was settled in to a very comfortable single room at Hostal Gulnara. I quickly got to know some of my fellow travelers, and was amazed by so many adventurous single people going all over Asia alone on extended trips. I right away became good friends with Pip, an Aussie in her 60′s who is on the road for six months. She had already crossed China and Mongolia, and my first foray into the city of Tashkent was to help her get her month-long Iranian visa. We both love textiles and for the next two days had a great time in the Bazaar and on a visit to the Museum of Applied Arts. Both places gave us a hands-on chance to see amazing silk and cotton fabrics, both new and antique. We also learned to get around on Tashkent’s phenomenal Metro, an underground subway decorated with beautiful tile and definitely the way to get around. The Metro is both easy and cheap (it costs less than $1 USD to go anywhere in the city).

On August 30, I transferred to Hotel Uzbekistan, a huge and quite comfortable hotel (pictured below) in the center of the newer part of Tashkent (Gulnara was in the “old city”). In the afternoon, I took a bus tour of Tashkent. This weekend was a holiday for Uzbekistan Independence Day and everyone was in their sparkly Sunday best.

August 31 found me off to the airport for a two hour flight on an Ilyushin twin propeller plane to Urgench. Tashkent is on a major river with large irrigated farms for quite a distance around. Here they farm cotton, watermelon and corn. The fields are all lined with poplar trees (for building houses) and mulberry trees (to feed the silkworms). There is also the “Red Sand” desert, which goes on and on until one gets close to Urgench and Khiva. I took the bus from the airport to Khiva (about 20 minutes) and we Hotel Medrassah in Khivachecked into a magnificent old medrassah, now a very comfortable hotel. I have the afternoon free to explore. Khiva is small and easy to see on foot. In fact, I don’t remember seeing a car. It is an open-air museum, in effect, although people DO live there. Khiva was important in Silk Road days. The magnificent 14th century buildings have been allowed to decay during the time Uzbekistan was part of the Soviet Union and during that time, religion, while not prohibited, was definitely discouraged after 1920. Because they were built of adobe and soft low-fired brick, the old mosques, medrassahs , city walls and minarettes were soon in ruins. In the 1970s, Russia sent experts and donated the funds to restore the city, which is now truly spectacular.

September 1st was Independence Day and the town was filled with Uzbek families enjoying the old town. All the ladies were in bright colored dresses with much sparkle and sequins, with trousers to match underneath and bright head scarves.

On September 2, I was on the bus right after breakfast. The little children everywhere were off to school, dressed in their uniforms. The littlest girls often had two big pom-poms of white ribbons in their hair. Everyone was so friendly and almost everyone wanted to practice their English with me. “Hello!” “Where are you from?” “What is your name?” …just like the village children in Yucatan. English is spoken widely here, and there is a great emphasis on languages in college. They particularly emphasize Our bus going through the desertEnglish, French, German and Japanese.

The drive from Khiva to Bukhara is long and a bit tedious. Once we are out of the irrigated area around the Oxus River, it is desert all the way and a bumpy road almost all the way to Bukhara where we arrived at around 4 PM.

I’m still on this adventure and not home yet… stay tuned for more reports from the road in Uzbekistan!

Yucatan Ferry Service

Yucatan Ferry ServiceFinally, the much-promised and much-awaited ferry service between the Yucatan and the United States seems to becoming a reality. It’s not here yet, but serious progress has been made.

A few weeks ago, the investors in this project asked for input and were happy to get over 2000 responses. Below are some of the questions that were posed and the answers from the current investor group.

One very large remaining question is the US port and Yucatan port. United Caribbean is still in negotiations with the ports and is therefore not able to declare the ports at this time. As soon as the ports and confirmed, we will update you with that information.

Here’s Bruce Nierenberg, Chairman and CEO of United Caribeean:

We will have a nice introductory offer for our first time users when we start. We will also have discounts, which will be based on seasonality and time of travel.

We intend to make it possible for those customers who use the ferry regularly to get the best prices, best discounts and the most benefits.

I will make sure that people who responded to our questionnaire or who send me their email addresses now will receive the introductory offers first as an appreciation for their help with the surveys. We hope to be ready to begin bookings in October 2014 for April trips. Those offers will include upgrades, special rates on cars and goodies on board.

We expect the round trip fare for the ferry, including a cabin and all food and entertainment on board, to start at $350 USD per round trip. Cars will probably cost $95 USD one way. Again, frequent users will pay lower rates. We have even discussed the idea of super special rates by buying ticket books in advance that will provide the lowest possible rates, guaranteed space on certain dates, and the lowest car rates.

Most Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Can we bring small pets? Yes.

2. Can I bring extra stuff for my residence in Mexico other than luggage and what fits in my car? Yes. We will have special personal cargo bins that can hold up to 1000 lbs, including bulky items like bedding, appliances, even a refrigerator. We will rent the bins one way for $95 USD.

3. Can I bring an RV? Yes.

4. Motorcycles? Yes.

5. Small boats? Yes.

6. When will the web site be up? It is already being prepared. We will have a preliminary site up by the end of August that will have show schedules and prices. We will send out an email to everyone when the site is ready.

7. When will bookings start? Our target is October 2014.

8. When will first voyage be? Our target is April 2015.

9. Will this be a year-round service ? Yes. We are planning 2 round trips per week between the U.S. And the Yucatan, 52 weeks a year.

10. How will we be able to book? Online thru the website, and through major online travel sellers like Expedia, Orbitz, etc.

For more information or to get on the mailing list, you can contact:

Bruce Nierenberg
Chairman CEO
United Caribbean Lines
1369 Lexington Ave.
Davenport (Orlando) Fl. 33837
(321) 427-0332

Always Something New in Yucatan

Star fruit surprise in YucatanSomething new every day!

I thought I knew my little village after living here seven years, but…surprise! I was in Izamal today listing three pretty lots on the outskirts of the town, and after finishing the photography and getting the lay of the land, so to speak, I stopped at a little stall to buy a bottle of fresh coconut water.

Fresh coconut water for $1.50 a liter, cold and delicious.

Next to the coconut man, was a star fruit man… a first for me. I’d never seen someone selling star fruit here. Of course I bought a half-kilo of star fruit and curious, asked if they were imported. “No”, responds the very nice man. “I grow them myself nearby, in Tepakan.”

Who would have thought it? Sweet, juicy fresh star fruit on my doorstep at $1.50 for this plateful!

Time for FBAR

Filing your FBAR tax return in Mexico

It’s FBAR Time

We would like to send out this friendly reminder to everyone about the important FBARs (Foreign Bank and Financial Account Reports) Tax Deadline. The deadline for the 2013 reporting year FBAR is approaching – June 30, 2014. The FBAR is required to be Electronically Filed this year, by the due date.

If you or someone you know has a foreign financial account, take note! And it does not have to be just a personal account. Sometimes having signatory authority or a beneficial interest over a foreign bank or financial account also has reporting requirements.

Last year, the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts, FBAR, (Form TD F 90-22.1) was changed to FinCEN Form 114. It is a disclosure report form required to be filed with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network under the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) on or before June 30th each year. This year the Form 114 cannot be mailed and must be submitted through the BSA’s e-filing system.

Note: The IRS can levy a $10,000 penalty, per account, for a late or inaccurate filing.

How Do I Know If I Need to File?

You need to file this disclosure if at ANY time during 2013 you had foreign bank and/or financial accounts that, when combined, exceeded $10,000 (even if it is was just for a moment.) And this value is a cumulative number. For example, if you had four foreign accounts at $3,000 each, you would be above the $10,000 number and need to complete an FBAR form reporting all these accounts or risk a $40,000 penalty.

What is Considered A Foreign Account?

A foreign account meets the following criteria:

  • It is not a U.S. institution or a branch of a U.S. institution
    -A Bank of America account located at a Bank of America branch in France is considered a foreign account.
    -An account at the First Bank of France at a branch located in the USA is not considered a foreign account.
  • You are assigned a customer ID or account number

    -Money or metals held in a safe at your home in Yucatan is not considered a foreign account.
    -Money or metals held at vault, in which the foreign institution has an ID number for you, is a foreign account.

If the account with the foreign institution holds money, tradable securities (stocks or other investments), insurance/annuity with a cash value or precious metals, or the like, you may have a filing requirement.

When in Doubt, Disclose!

Beginning July 1, 2014, banks around the world will be coming forward to the U.S. with information on their U.S customers. That is when the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or FATCA, goes into effect. Currently, there are new streamlined procedures that minimize or waive penalties for unreported foreign accounts. However, if you come forward after the United States begins investigating the bank where the account is held, there are new higher penalties which can be 50% of the highest balance in the account(s)!

If you are not certain whether you should file, don’t wait, ask your accountant or the IRS now!

This announcement has been provided by our friends at Dillinger Carter & Associates, an international tax accounting firm out of San Francisco, CA

Democracy Alive and Well

Democracy in YucatanEach year, the Economist Intelligence Unit, a forecasting and research group owned by the same media company that publishes The Economist magazine, puts out their Democracy Index. This index “measures the state of democracy in 167 countries, of which 166 are sovereign states and 165 are United Nations member states”. The index rates countries on 60 indicators based on 5 categories: electoral process and pluralism, civil liberties, functioning of government, political participation, and political culture.

In Mexico, the COPARMEX (the Management Confederation of Mexico) teamed up with consultants to produce a list of Mexican States based on their scores according to this Democracy Index. As you can see below, our fair state of Yucatan scored the highest out of Mexico’s 31 states, which we consider quite a distinction. Out of a total possible points of 10,000, Yucatan State scored 10,000… a perfect score. Hard to believe, but there it is in black and white.

Here’s the link to the entire listing:

By the way, you might want to bookmark this website. The website serves up daily translated articles from some of Mexico’s most respected magazines and newspapers, all on the subject of Mexican politics and economics. As expatriates living as guests in this country, most of us cannot get involved in the politics of Mexico. But because it IS now our country in many ways, it isn’t a bad idea to stay up on the latest events and trends. Unless you are very comfortable reading Spanish, this website can be helpful in that regard.

Back to Yucatan, the top of the list. We couldn’t be happier to see Yucatan at the top of this list, as it portends a continuing stable economic future for this part of the world. As always, Yucatan continues to be a good investment!

Roger William Lytle

Roger William LytleSeven months ago, I celebrated the birth of my first grandson, Roger William Lytle. A beautiful baby, always happy, he was a joy not only to our family but to everyone who met him. I was lucky to spend a week with him in Dallas at the end of March. On April 7th, Roger died suddenly and unexpectedly, leaving us devastated to be without him.

Although you didn’t know our baby, if you’d like to participate with us, we ask that when you see the chance to do some small act of kindness for someone else, take that chance. Do a good deed or perform some act of kindness in honor of Roger Lytle today. If you’d like, email to let his parents, my wonderful son and daughter-in-law Zac and Heather, know what you did. They will read the messages to cheer themselves up when they are blue.

The following is the eulogy written by one of their friends and read at the memorial at Twelve Hills nature trails…a cold late afternoon, but the sun came out for us:

When I first heard that Heather was pregnant, I have to admit, I was a little jealous.

But it wasn’t jealousy in the way that aging single women often are envious of their
pregnant friends. No, I was jealous of that baby. Usually, when I’m trying to explain
how great Zac and Heather are to people who don’t know them, I just tell them that
every December, they have a holiday party wherein they invite all of their friends
to come over and make Christmas cards for political prisoners. They’re the most
loveable pair of do-gooders I’ve ever had the privilege to know. They’re the type of
people who make you feel like a better person just by virtue of knowing them. And
besides that, they are so much fun to be around. They have a way of making you
feel entirely at home in their house and in their presence. So yes, I was envious of
that little baby because being born to two such amazing people is like winning the
lottery. What a great life this kid would have.

At Heather’s baby shower, we all wrote little messages to Roger, and I wrote,
“Hi baby, you are so lucky because your parents are awesome!” What I couldn’t
understand until later is how unbelievably lucky Zac and Heather are to have Roger.
And we’re all lucky to have known him.

We’re all here because we love Zac and Heather, and we love Roger.

On the death of her daughter at age 14, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton wrote, “Love enjoys
and triumphs for eternity.”

Roger is gone to heaven in God’s eternal love. And I think that means the love we
feel for him also is eternal. It’s here right now, and it’s with us forever.
And there never was a baby more loved by so many people.

Everyone at Parkland watched Heather grow bigger and bigger and bigger
throughout her pregnancy. When Heather was admitted to the hospital, her friends
watched the heart-rate monitor and cheered her and Roger on. Her friend Elizabeth,
who also is a doctor at Parkland, slept in the call room down the hall from the
delivery room to make sure Heather and Roger had the best care and their preferred

He weighed nine-and-a-half pounds when he was born the afternoon of Aug. 25, and
he was so beautiful. Now, I’m not saying that Zac and Heather aren’t good-looking
people. But I had to agree with Heather’s mom when she said the other day that
it’s a marvel such a beautiful baby was born to the two of you. I have to agree with
Heather when she said that Roger is an even better person than she and Zac. Such a
sweet, precious boy.

Zac and Heather are the most laid-back parents I’ve ever known. Some friends and I
once saw Zac at a party down at the Santa Fe Trestle Trail, and when we asked after
Roger, he goes, “Oh, he’s asleep in the van.” They were very European about it all.

And they were very generous in sharing Roger.

When Heather had two months of night rotations, lucky friends and neighbors,
including myself, got to act as what Heather called “surrogate mothers” to Roger.
He was such a good baby and a joy to see, always looking around intensely, taking
in everything around him. There was nothing quite so wonderful in this world as
seeing him smile or hearing him laugh.

There probably are a few of you here today who don’t know the Lytles all that
well but maybe had the pleasure of holding Roger or playing with him at some
neighborhood event where Zac and Heather were volunteering. I know you’re here,
as we all are, because Roger touched your life. And I want to say thank you to Zac
and Heather, on behalf of Oak Cliff, for being servants to our community and for
sharing your beautiful boy with all of us.

Roger attended his first bike race, the Tour of Austin, when he was a week old.
More recently, Zac would show up to the Thursday night bike races at Fair Park
sometimes not knowing before he arrived exactly who would be watching Roger
during Zac’s hour-long race. He didn’t have to worry about it because we practically
fought to serve as Roger’s domestique, there to bring him bottles, protect him, love
and entertain him, even though none of us could figure out how to use those hippie
diapers. Roger was a “junior race promoter,” as Zac put it, doing his duty as head
baby in charge at Spookycross and the Tour of Corsicana.

Roger loved the outdoors. “Any time he was upset,” Heather says, “you could just
take him outside, and he would brighten up.” He loved seeing flowers and would
always grab for them. Heather’s mom gave them an orchid plant, which they set in
their breakfast nook, and Roger could sit in his chair and just stare up at the orchid
blooms for a long time while they were preparing his food.

He loved to watch the hennies in the backyard and to feed the ducks at Kidd Springs
Park. Heather first brought him here to Twelve Hills Nature Center when he was
three days old, and they came here on walks many, many times. They also went on
hikes to Cedar Ridge Nature Preserve and walks at the Dallas Arboretum.

Roger got to have Thanksgiving and Christmas at home with family. He got to see
snow in Dallas. Zac tells the story that during one of the ice storms this past winter,
he bundled Roger up in his little fuzzy bear suit and walked to a friend’s birthday
party with Roger strapped to his chest. Zac says he slipped on the ice and “busted
his ass.” Roger didn’t even wake up.

Roger was a traveler. He traveled in utero to Colombia and Nova Scotia. After he was
born, he traveled to San Antonio many times. Recently, he went to England, where
Zac and Heather both have family. He got to meet three of his great grandparents.
While they were in England, Heather, Zac and Roger spent a magical day at Kingley
Vale National Nature Reserve in West Sussex. It was one of the happiest days of
their lives, and it was particularly special for Zac, because Roger’s namesake, Zac’s
late grandfather, Roger, used to bring Zac to Kingley Vale as a child. Now Zac and
Heather plan to return to Kingley Vale to spread Roger’s ashes.

In England, they took Roger on hikes in the countryside and to the sea. There are
pictures of Roger on a pebbly beach, crying with his feet in the cold, wet sand. Later,
at a sandy beach in England, he had fun knocking down sand castles.

Roger really started to eat a lot of solid food in England. He tasted lamb stew that his
great grandmother made, as well as curry, fish and chips and English breakfast. He
loved English food so much that he gained more weight during that one-week trip
than he had in the previous two months.

Even though he was only 8 months old, Roger experienced many forms of
transportation. He never even cried during the nine-and-a-half hour flight to
England. He’s taken the London Underground, a gondola down the Thames, trains, a
ferry, busses and bikes.

Roger liked to be read to, and his favorite book was “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.”
He loved music and he enjoyed sing-a-longs in Zac and Heather’s living room. By
the way, he also swam in a dumpster pool BEFORE it was cool for babies to swim in

He loved to watch older children run and play. He loved seeing baby Catalina and
was among her first visitors. He got to meet and hold hands with baby August down
in Austin. He loved playing with baby Will. And when baby Hannah was born at
Parkland, she was in good hands with Roger sitting in the red chair to watch her
monitors. Right now, Heather’s best friend, Roger’s godmother Vanessa, is possibly
in labor with her baby, Jeremiah.

Roger was absolutely doted upon by all of his grandparents and his aunt and uncle.
The Lytles had been planning to take a trip in May to Iceland and then a trip to visit
family in Minnesota in August. And they were busy planning their move to Malawi in

Now that Roger is gone, everything has changed. Nothing will ever be the same
without him here. And we are so sad. We miss him so much. Our hearts are broken.
But Roger was here. He was here, and he made the world better.

In true Lytle fashion, Zac and Heather asked that this be a day of kindness in
memory of Roger. I think we can do better than that. Baby Roger makes me want
to be a better person in general. He was so easy to love, and he brought so much
joy to everyone he met. So I say, let’s all try to be like that too. Spread joy. Love one
another. Remember that you’re here to do good in the world and to love. Roger left
us tragically too soon, but in his short life, he accomplished that.

Yucatan Honey

flowers in Yucatan
flowers in yucatanIf you drive almost anywhere on the Yucatan Peninsula right now, you will be greeted by yellow flowers along the roadsides as far as the eye can see, signaling the end of the “rainy season” and that the tajonal is in bloom. The state of Yucatan is famous for its honey and the honey made from the tajonal flowers is the first major Yucatan honey crop of the year. Our local Yucatan honey is strong and sweet, and is usually bought in bulk to blend with more neutral flavored European honey. I try to keep honey in stock at the office at all times. I recently purchased honey from my Maya friends at Hacienda Tabi. They live there and are certified organic honey producers. Come by the Merida office of Tierra Yucatan on Calle 66 at Calle 49 and pick up a bottle. Take some of the Yucatan home in your suitcase! It is easy to do and it is permitted through customs without a problem. There’s nothing that warms you on a cold winter day like a cup of tea sweetened with Yucatan honey!