Mexican Moniker - To Match a Tropical State of Mind


It had been 12 years since Patrick had been on a boat in Isla Mujeres and 20 since I'd frolicked in Mexican time too long between fiestas.

"Jacqui," my husband called to me from his hammock suspended over white sand. Before the lime of my first margarita had even puckered my throat, Patrick decided I needed a Mexican persona for this trip and disregarded my formal staid given name, "Victoria," for the more sultry-sounding, tropical moniker, Jacqui. I choked on the tart drink in my mouth and rested the icy cold glass against my too-white-for-this-new-personality thigh wondering if I could live up to the image the name evoked as it rolled off his tongue.

"What should we do tomorrow?" We'd just come out of the tepid water and the hammock under me had barely ceased swaying. Saltwater still dripped from my hair after a plunge into the sapphire colors beyond where we lounged. Right then seemed perfect why did I want to think about manana?

Like when water is added to dried chilies and warmed in the sun to produce the base for mole sauce, the Caribbean Sea of the Mayan Riviera transforms me into a different personality Jacqui, and I instantly feel like I'm a whole new being a woman who sips margaritas on the beach before noon with a hibiscus flower tucked behind her ear. However, I can only sustain my Jacqui alter-ego so long, as too many margaritas in the hot sun lead to a painful morning. The Victoria side of me longed to go explore.

"How about a dive?" I asked. I might have been loving the new relaxed version of me, but I didn't want to miss a single moment underwater by lounging on the beach, so the next day I kicked against a strong current in the same salty waters I'd watched the sun rise over just a few hours before.

Sultry seduction was not only on the beach in Mexico but in the water as well. In front of me, a black and yellow angelfish chased its mate around the reef and when he caught up to her, rubbed his flat body against hers in affection. I followed behind voyeuristically to see where they went but Patrick, who glided beside me, grabbed my hand and pointed above. Caught in the shafts of light between ocean floor and surface, a ray flew through the water. Sapphire blue stripes ran along its four-foot wingspan, blocking the sunlight. Behind him trailed a series of smaller rays that I could only imagine were its mate and family.

I smiled at Patrick and squeezed his hand.As we kicked farther down the reef, two yellow starfish lay entangled with each other on the hard coral floor. I was not sure if one was crawling over the other or not, but I prefer to think they, too, were holding hands.

Dangerous long dark spikes of sea urchins shot out from an expanse of beige hard coral looking like an underwater firework but acting more like a barbed wire deterrent. I knew to touch was to invite trouble and remembered the howling pain of having to dig broken barbs out of a crewmember's foot with tweezers and a scalpel years before, but something caught my eye just under the explosion of spikes. I swam a little closer. Patrick yanked my hand and pulled me back. We could not communicate through words underwater, but I'd seen that look on his face numerous times before. He knew my curiosity was going to get me into trouble.

I shook my head and pointed to the crevice just under the wall of sea urchins, pleading my case with my eyes. Patrick's jaw tightened while he bit harder on his regulator, but his attention went to where I pointed.

Poking out of the dark space were two coral-colored long antennae. These were thicker than the black of the sea urchin and waved in the strong current that passed over us.Behind his mask, Patrick's blue eyes twinkled the same color of the sea. He dropped my hand and swam closer. Cowering under the coral, protected by the wall of poisonous barbs, was a lobster as big as the pineapple I'd seen being cut to garnish the pina coladas sold on the beach. Patrick's arm shot forward to grab dinner. The lobster backed farther into the hole as the sea urchins swayed closer to his bare hand. It was my turn to yank him back, and he recoiled quickly. He cocked his head to the side, corkscrewed his body to try a different angle, but it was no use. The lobster was protected and out of reach. Resigned, Patrick shrugged and swam on, his attention now focused on a green sea turtle that glided above.

It was that lobster I was thinking of later that night when we strolled onto a rust-colored tile patio overlooking the ocean and fell into a chair exhausted.

The menu read Seafood Pozole de Mar with no description of what was in it, but when the waiter brought the enormous earthenware pottery bowl steaming with flavors of chili and the sea, I knew the local fishermen had been more successful at snatching the lobster out of its home than we had.

It was then my two personalities integrated. Jacqui picked up her margarita to toast the fabulous day, and Victoria dipped her spoon into the spicy tart broth eager for the taste of Mexico.



2 tablespoons olive oil 2 onions, chopped

1 head garlic, peeled 2 carrots, chopped

1 stalks celery, chopped 1 teaspoon sea salt

4 lobster tails, shelled *shells saved 2 pounds shrimp, shelled and deveined *shells saved 2 limes, juiced

12 cups chicken stock or water 1 tablespoon Mexican oregano 2 tablespoons tomato paste

4 jalapeas, chopped

1 bunch cilantro, leaves and stems separated

1 tins hominy, drained

2 pounds red snapper, cut into 1-inch cubes


2 avocadoes, diced

2 limes, cut into wedges

1 head romaine, shredded

10 4-inch tortillas, cut into strips Vegetable oil for deep-frying Sea salt


Heat one inch of vegetable oil in a large saucepot over medium-high heat to 350 degrees. Stack the tortillas and trim the round edges to make a square. Slice into ¾-inch strips. Fry 1/3 of the stack at a time, turning with a slotted spoon until crisp and golden. Pull from oil and drain on a bowl lined with paper towels.

Sprinkle with sea salt.


Saute onions and garlic in olive oil over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Add carrots, celery, and sea salt and saute for 5 minutes. Cut the lobster shells in half and saute in vegetables along with the shrimp shells for 5 minutes. Juice the limes into the shells and burn off for 2 minutes. Add chicken stock, oregano, tomato paste, jalapeaos, and cilantro.

Reduce to medium heat and simmer 45 minutes. Strain through a colander into a clean pot and simmer 20 minutes more. Add the hominy, red snapper, shrimp and lobster into the broth and simmer for 5 minutes until shrimp is cooked through.


Serve with diced avocado, lime wedges, lettuce and fried tortillas on the side.

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St. Patty's Day cocktail | Canva

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2 oz Irish Whiskey

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3-4 oz orange juice

Orange wedge(s)


Fill a cocktail glass with ice and add whiskey, Blue Curaçao and orange juice. Stir well and garnish with a fresh orange wedge.

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This drink is not Irish, but its green color makes for a perfect St. Patty’s Day drink to enjoy at sea. Using the same ingredients but replacing whiskey with tequila, try another easy twist on the classic recipe for a Tequila Sunrise. Sail off toward the horizon while enjoying this beachy beverage.


2 oz Blanco Tequila

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The beach at Fleming Villa | Source GoldenEye

In my quest for the best Caribbean Rum, I’ve sampled a few. From Appleton to Ron Zacapa rum, my tastebuds have celebrated the luscious flavors borne from fermenting sugarcane into smooth amber elixirs.

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James Bond Dr No Poster Credit Flickr

Our story begins in 1939, when a London journalist named Ian Fleming joined the British Navy Intelligence Service. His unit specialized in military espionage and covert plans to thwart German aggression in Europe and the Caribbean.

During World War II, Fleming was engaged in Operation GoldenEye, and in 1942 he was sent to investigate suspicions about Nazi submarines in the Caribbean. During this deployment, he became enamored with Jamaica and vowed to live there some day.

When the war was over, Fleming returned to Jamaica and bought 15 acres of plush land that was once used as a donkey racetrack. In 1945, he built a house not far from the banana port town of Oracabessa Bay, and the seaside property became Fleming’s tropical sanctuary where he could focus on writing and the discrete task of taking previously tight-held secrets into a public, fictional genre.

He named the estate GoldenEye as a tribute to his Navy service and began working on a book that evolved around the dashing spy and Special Agent 007, James Bond. This protagonist would emerge as the amalgamation of agents he’d met during his maritime service. As an avid birdwatcher, Fleming took the name for his lead character from American ornithologist James Bond, an expert on Caribbean birds, who wrote the definitive field guide, Birds of the West Indies.

Fleming’s first spy novel, Casino Royale, was published in 1952. This book and all 13 in the James Bond series were written in his bedroom at GoldenEye. Three of them — Dr. No, Live and Let Die, and The Man with the Golden Gun — take place in Jamaica.


Chris Blackwell | Credit GoldenEye

Not only did the breezy island life at GoldenEye inspire Fleming’s novels, but so did his fetching neighbor, Blanche Blackwell. She was the muse who helped spark his creative drive. The Blackwell family had lived in Jamaica since 1625, exporting bananas and coconuts and crafting a distinctive brand of rum.

Blanche’s son Chris Blackwell grew up between England and Jamaica, and in his childhood spent a good amount of time with Fleming. In 1954, after Blackwell got booted from an elite British school for rebellious behavior, he came back to the island to get involved in the family rum business. Contrary to plan, he followed his instincts and made a career choice that would dramatically alter the global music scene.

For a while, he kicked around working as the aide-de-camp to the governor and as a waterskiing instructor. But after hearing the blind pianist Lance Heywood play at the Half Moon Resort, Blackwell recorded the musician, and in 1959 he launched a music studio called Island Records. In sync with his unconventional style, it became known for discovering and nurturing innovative performers who had been shrugged off or overlooked by bigger record labels.

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Throughout his success in the music industry, Blackwell remained in contact with Fleming and his projects. When the first Bond movie, Dr. No, was filmed in Jamaica in 1962, Blackwell was hired as a location scout and consulted on the soundtrack. Sir Sean Connery, whom Blackwell had met during the filming of Dr. No, remained a friend until his passing in 2020. Using a family recipe, Blackwell launched his boutique rum in 2008 that is distributed around the globe.

Live and Let Die was filmed in 1973 on the Blackwell Estate, which now includes The Fleming Villa. Scenes from the movie were shot near GoldenEye, Blackwell’s luxury hotel in Jamaica. The latest Bond flick, No Time to Die, returns to the exquisite Jamaican backdrop of GoldenEye, and the production team was treated to a supply of Blackwell Rum for inspiration while filming.

TO CELEBRATE 60 YEARS OF JAMES BOND, a special bottle of Blackwell Rum has been released, along with a new memoir by Chris Blackwell, The Islander: My Life in Music and Beyond. If you’re cruising around Jamaica this winter, cue up some Bob Marley tunes, open a bottle of Blackwell’s 007 Rum, and shake it (don’t stir) with pineapple juice and ice to create the GoldenEye Cocktail. And if you’re nestled in at home in a colder climate and dreaming about the Caribbean, we suggest watching a Bond flick and warming up with the Toasted Toddy.

GoldenEye | Credit GoldenEye



-1 part Blackwell Rum

-1 part pineapple juice

-Lime or pineapple wedge


Shake together and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lime or pineapple wedge

Toasty Toddy | Credit GoldenEye



-3 parts Blackwell Rum

-2 teaspoons brown sugar

-1 1⁄2 parts fresh lemon juice

-6 parts boiling water


Add all ingredients to a mug, except for the water. Pour in the boiling water, Stir well to blend

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