Sunday, December 22, 2013

Conversation with a 7 year old

She was sent up to the house to eat her supper, we had already eaten, she didn't want to eat alone and wanted me to sit with her, I went. Remember she is 7.

Her: it was a blessed day today wasn't it?

Me: It sure was, absolutely beautiful

Her: Do you like working for my mom?

Me: I sure do, we always have fun

Her: You and I have very good luck

Me: How so?

Her: You have a very good boss and I have a very nice teacher, we are both have very good luck

Me: Yes, you are so right

Her: Remember last year when I taught you how to make quesadillas?

Me: I sure do, they were good, you're going to be a good cook like your mom.

Her: It's such a shame you have to go home to Canada, but you have too because you have a family there, thats for certain.

Me: Yes I would miss my family very much if I couldn't go home

Her: Would be nice if they could come even just for a day so I could meet them, I could play with your grandson, I am very good with kids, I am only 7 and I am an auntie

Me: I know you would be a wonderful little companion for him, maybe someday they will come

Her: Do you want to play Barbie Dominoes with me?

Me: Tomorrow we will play Barbie Dominoes.

Her: I can teach you to read too

Me: ok, we'll do that too. (she knows her alphabet)

 All of us North Americans are here for a different reasons.

 Some are medical refugees (Americans), these are people that have high medical needs and have found that the medical here is cheaper and the medical services are more accessible than at home.

Others are tax avoiders', don't need to elaborate on that

Others came here a long time ago as draft dodgers and are now here illegally 

Others are here just because it is cheaper to live here than at home, mostly retirees, there are other places that are cheaper (Most Asians counties) but Mexico is easier to get too and faster to get home should an emergency occur.

Others are here to soak up the culture, artsy type people.

I sort of fall under the last category. I want to learn all about the Mexican people, I want to learn the language so that I can sit with the old timers under a mango tree and hear stories of how things used to be and how they have changed. I want to know why they do the things that they do. My roots are here, I am of the first generation in my family that was not born here, I feel I missed out. Call it research if you will. 

Can't help it that part of my research is swinging from a hammock on the beach chatting with my Mexican sister and eating shrimp all day, or playing Barbie dominoes with a 7 year old. Now if I can just find some government agency to give me some grant money for this study....sigh.

Now, I will admit that to the "average human eye" (these are the eyes of people that don't fall under that last category) it may sometimes (ok...almost always) look like we have too much time on our hands. I assure's all research. (my font has a mind of its own sometimes...just ignore it and it will go away) 

Gluing fake eyelashes on a coconut......seriously, once you start gluing things with a hot glue gun you just can't stop yourself.  


Barbie Dominoes......research 

studying the tide....... it came under my  hammock today

Sunrise study...

and of course the ever ongoing verb study.....hey, its not all fun and games here, work work work. sign....

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Let there be light

Three weeks of mananas ago I had asked my Plumber/electrician guy to come install some outdoor plug ins. He had done such a good job of fixing my hot water shower last year, it only zaps me once in awhile.
He finally showed, with his tool box and the standard 5 gallon pail and a mile of homemade extension cords, he first plugs his phone in and the music starts. He has the same music as me...old stuff, in English that he can't understand,  It's 8 am.

I lust for one of these

Add caption

He works slowly and methodically, enjoying his music. I sit on the step with my dictionary and blabber with him all day, he corrects my Spanish, helps me look up words, spells words for me, we tell stories, we talk about food, weather, the problem with women, the problem with men, our dreams ( I have a dream of having lights outside someday), his friend stops in and visits, he wants to learn German because his grandma is German, he knows how to say " asshole" in German but doesn't know what it means. We make plans to get together hopefully to give him a better vocabulary. He leaves.Dude and I talk about traveling, he tells me he is going to Nayarit tomorrow, I lend him a camera, he like to read, I lend him a Spanish book, he lends me a hammer. I make milkshakes with frozen fruit for lunch, we go through my verb  book, he says present tense is really all I need. I tell him I want to go to Italy some day, he misunderstands and thinks I've been to Italy, we decide maybe learn past tense as well. Another friend stops by, he's learning English online, we laugh at silly words that don't translate in Spanish, like "cowboy" and "hotdog".
 Dude  leaves to get some screws,  I snoop through his tool box, he comes back in an hour. " will I have lights before Christmas I ask?", " maybe by New Years" he says. I tell him how I discovered a box of little hooks with sharp little points that go through concrete in his tool box...he tells me they are mine, I paid for them when I gave him money to buy supplies, this will change my life,  that and the borrowed hammer. I run into the house and hang my calendar up, yup this will change my life.

2 new plug-ins get installed, a little ditch gets dug to bury cable, then we hang a chandelier from the mango tree, ( a very Mexican chandelier...not a Chrystal one, that's a different dream)  this involved a tall tall ladder and miles of cable and a lot of those fancy little hooks, I am still sitting on the step chatting with him and directing the placement of the ball, the chandelier still gets hung crooked but I don't mind, I'm so excited about all this. It's 8 pm when he is finally putting the last plugin in, it's dark, he uses his phone as a flashlight, "would be nice to have light out here wouldn't it?" I say. Haahah we laugh. 8:30 pm, we hold our breath and plug the lights in, nothing blows up, I am so excited about my Chandelier hanging from the trees, in glows in the dark like a twinkling star, we stand in awe. "Maria's dream is accomplished" he says. We laugh and decide as soon as I have a table and chairs outside we will celebrate with a supper. We have one light that still needs to be moved but it's late and he is leaving early tomorrow morning for his trip, I want to pay him but he says no, I can pay him when he is done. This is smart, as this will ensure that he comes back. I sit on my back step and stare into my sparkling back yard for half an hour.

Pretty sweet

Now....more exciting news, I was gifted this broken table and 3 broken chairs a few days ago. We were cleaning up the pile of garbage and storm debri behind the restaurant and found these. My Mex brother says it will be my Christmas present from him, he has a friend that works in a glass shop on the mainland and will get the glass cut for me. He will outfit the chairs with wooden backs and seats and then I will "art  it up". He laughs and says it will  be muy muy elegant.  Imagine this table under my chandelier. We'll see how long this takes.....shall we have an online wager. I say February 1.

 I go to bed and realize that I haven't spoken a word of English all day....or left my house. I bolt out of the house just before sunup the next morning, I walk right into the sunrise. One day of not being on the beach was noticed. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

First day working

I ended my morning walk at the restaurant, just as a load of people walked up and asked if we were open, they were hungry for fish, it was decided we are open. The water guy got called, the tortilla guy got whistled down, I'm told not to pay him because we want him to come back in a few hours....if you don't pay him he is sure to come back, I have so much to learn. 

Someone gets sent to buy shrimp, he comes back with nice big shrimp, but they were not cheap, 140 pesos a kilo, why has the price of shrimp gone up? I dice tomatoes, chili, onions, cucumbers, grate carrots, and pulverize crackers for breading fish and shrimp. Nothing has changed, the knife that had a broken tip last year is still there....still broken, the yellow rag is still there, the pila still keeps overflowing, we are still short spoons and the teeth of most of the forks are still bent, the plates are still all different and beautiful, the one little coffee cup that still has a handle is still there, and just like last year the dog is pregnant again, and just like last year I handle the chili too much and my left hand is on fire for the rest of the day. Phrase of the day is "don't trip"..... extension cords everywhere. The view from the hammock is still the same and I like that nothing has changed. 

Our group of customers are from Durango (thanks to the new road) and they brought tents, they will camp under our palapa tonight, I'm jealous, it's so beautiful with all the Christmas lights at night. Guessing we will be serving them breakfast tomorrow. ...... I won't be there I am heading in to the mainland tomorrow to see if I can get some kitchen cupboards made. I think it's time for some real cupboards and then upgrade to real glass dishes, including glass wine glasses (I'm exciting about that....because I drink wine like once a will understand my excitement when you see my new Mexican glass wine glasses)  Don't worry it won't get too fancy here.....something like this. This house will always have the ranchero fancy for me....except for wine glasses.

These are the kitchen cupboards that I want, except I want to add a 3rd shelf...a skinny one for plates

 I have a guy lined up to put some shelves in as well, hang a plant, put some hooks in the ceiling so I can hang a lamp, hang a higher clothes line, hang a light outside and hang a hammock. Hanging stuff is a problem because of brick and concrete, he should have been here 1 week of tomorrows ago. He'll come. Yet. Next year I am bringing a rock drill with me....remind me about October to buy one.
oh...totally off subject, had a big cockroach in my bed last night. I woke up at night  and thought I felt a cockroach on me, (not sure how I knew what that would feel like)  sat up and turned the light on but didn't see anything, went back to sleep. This morning as I come out of the bathroom I see a big cockroach in my bed.....I slept with a cockroach all night. I was right, there was a cockroach on me, when a cockroach is on you even if you have never felt that before it is a distinctive  feeling and you will know that it was a cockroach. This didn't even freak me out too much. A few years ago I would have destroyed my bed looking for it, maybe even set it on fire to make sure it was gone. I've come a long way. I am however a bit nervous about rats this year. I have seen 3 dead rats on the street in front of my house (flattened by cars) never seen that before. When I lived on the beach I saw a couple of rats in a big wood pile, other than that I have never seen a rat here. Let's keep it that way. Oh....I've also seen rats at night by the dock a time or two..or three.

Last night  I woke up and heard a noise in my back yard, a rustling of a plastic bag kind of sound. I get up and look out the window, and see nothing. I go back to bed, but again it sounds like someone is eating a bag of chips....rustle rustle of a bag and then crunch crunch, I get up again, turn light on and look out the window, see nothing. I turn the light off and pretend to go to bed, rustle rustle, crunch crunch, I peek out the window and see 2 racoons eating from the bag of stale Totopos (chips) I had thrown in the trash, I decide  I don't care and go back to bed.  I lay in bed and listen to rustle rustle crunch crunch, rustle rustle crunch crunch.....I decide I do care, I get up and shoo them away. I feel like such a meanie, but until they learn to chew with their mouth closed there will be no eating chips while I sleep. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Spanish Immersion

My day starts with a cup of coffee on my front step waiting for the sun to rise. My garden is missing flowers, I think more gardenias would be nice, and what are those red, white and pink flowers we have at home called...I can't remember their name, need some of those. I'll think of it yet. My walk on the beach at sunrise was outstanding, it always is. I catch some fishermen just bringing in their catch, I am reminded of Peter, James and John, I think they would have looked like these guys, burned dark from the sun, feet showing years of wear from the salt water, lean,  strong, with ripped abs from pulling heavy nets, they would have smiled just like these guys did, such a noble way of making your living....I feel like I am witnessing something sacred when I see the net hauled in.

I spend the rest of the day at my "sister's" restaurant, she is closed during the week these days, not enough traffic on the beach. We hang out all day, friends and family come and go. While we are talking we clean the kitchen and she gets her laundry done. We tell stories and laugh, we get pedicures, do laundry, eat  beans and machaca tortillas.

 There are two washing machines going, (because one washes but doesn't spin and one spins but doesn't wash) a foot bath tub is plugged in, dogs running around our feet, a Christmas tree is decorated, lights and tinsel hanging everywhere, enough extension cords running under our feet to tangle up a village, drinks are spilled, there is a dirty mop hanging from every tree, a naked Barbie laying in the sand, wet underpants fall on the ground off the wash line, someone banged his head on a hanging pot, the dish washing pila over flows....extension cords are now laying in water, no one notices, we talk about turning the restaurant into a grand elegant hotel, we draw some serious plans in the sand, we are going to hire a decorator and only rent to fancy people, we talked about how old we all were when we got pubic hair, we talk about fighting with kids and their homework, we talk about underpants, (under pants is always a hot topic) new shoes, short hair vs long hair and whether men like women with fake eye lashes or not, and who is fatter, Americans, Canadians or Mexicans, and whether Mexicans are fat because of the Coke or the tortillas? We decide Canadians are fat because of bread and Americans because of french fries.

 We discuss why the fridge stinks, whose horses on the beach are cleaner and how often we think they should be bathed, and where are the lifeguards going with that kayak. I get invited to a wedding in Durango, (road trip)  I want to see the new Durango bridge so I say yes. I'm told to buy a long black dress....I prefer red, it's decided I will need to learn to dance, lessons will commence pronto, maybe I'll get fake eye lashes (not). I'm given a Spanish lesson, there is a long discussion first about the alphabet whether the I comes before J or Spanish teachers aren't sure about the order of the alphabet....hilarious. I love these people. 

Beach dogs had a lazy day too

Friday, November 29, 2013

Friends in high places

Sunday I head into Maz to attend Spanish church, they have moved to a new location, I have a photo of a map and an address. Along the way I ask 3 people for directions and they all send me in a different direction. I find the church and I am late but I am not. (Mexican church always starts late) I am greeted by friendly familiar faces. The worship is incredible, ,the songs are familiar and I feel Jesus' presence. My Spanish however needs some Spanish brain isn't turned on yet, I remember that I forgot my Spanish verb workbook in Canada, I'm annoyed at myself.
A friend invites me to her mother's house for lunch, she lives close to the Island docks. We take a bus. It's her brothers birthday....and it's a party, I am introduced to about 20 people, my Spanish brain does not keep up. In true Mexican tradition tables are set up in the middle of the street, even a tent (because it's blitzen hot) cars have to detour and they do so without issue and without being told, there are no signs, no police officers directing just happens, it's how we party here. The cake is beautiful, the carne asada tacos are awesome, I underestimate the salsa roja, my eyes and nose start running, I overcome, ceviche is great, (but no one makes it like my Mex. sister) the beans were a new recipe for me, they were awesome. 

The vanilla cake was great  and the ice cream was cool and soft. Once again my Spanish is frustrating me, maybe another Spanish immersion school is needed.....but isn't that what I am doing right immersion?
On my walk home I see another party on the street, and that street is blocked too.....I'll try this when I get back to Canada, just to see how it would go over. 

I have friends that live in high places...really high, high up Ice box hill in Mazatlan, I choose a blazin hot day to visit them and the hottest part of the day to make the climb...what can i say, they are just that special. I pick up 2 slices of pizza and eat them as I climb up. This is a good system, to refuel as you are burning energy, and it slows me down...all that swallowing and breathing you know. Dried and cracked back iguanas scurry as I stumble up the steps. Climbing these rock steps makes me think of my time in Peru, sure glad I went there when I was still young....would die there now. I think of ice cream, I should buy these friends a pail of ice cream so that I can always have a big bowl when I get to the top, but the thought of carrying a pail of ice cream up here isn't good. Could it be any hotter? Has it ever not been hot when I climb up here? It's always hot getting up here. I get to the top and am awed at the view and forget about ice cream.

There are 72 steps going up to ice box hill, of course once you get to these steps you are already halfway up

The view

The view from their living room window. The malecon (sea side walkway is 13 miles long, the longest in the world, is beautifully painted and is so nice to walk day or night

More malecon, great for walking, rollerblading and biking

The Mexican flag

 We have a good visit. We drive down (yes I got a ride down...not up lol) to our favorite papa loca place and eat an amazing papa first of the season, it did not disappoint. Never mind that I just had 2 pieces of pizza....I worked those off, my body didn't even feel them. My friends brought a pencil to make a mark in the doorway for every papa they eat this season, I choose not to count mine. Why is it so comforting to sit at a plastic table on the busiest corner of this big city, eating and talking while the traffic roars by, a mixture of cars, chili trucks, motorbikes, dust and buses.....oh the buses, roaring, honking (because this speeds up traffic), as exhaust fumes float in we eat our papas and talk about how great this country is....and how great the papas are, the chaos around us is there, but the peace of Mexico rides you though it in soft waves of familiar comfort. There is comfort in knowing that when we come back next year, the marks in the door frame, the same waitresses and the same papas, and the plastic tables will still be there. ..... and the buses will still speed up traffic. Things don't change very quickly here, and I like that.
I am alone on the boat across the water to the Island, I love the lights of the shrimp and tuna fleet in the port. The tuna fleet is parked until after new year's. They light the port up like a Christmas tree. The breeze on the ocean is so welcome....I wish I could sleep there, on the boat. I should have bought a fan while I was in town....surely it will cool off soon. Walking home I notice Christmas trees are up in some houses....doors and windows are open in our homes. 3 stumbling drunk cowboys pass me, there are arm in arm singing a love song, they don't notice me, a dog barks in the distance, I hear the surf, the chicken place is still selling chicken, 4 guys are playing basket ball on the court, some friends are eating on the street in front of Patty's, there is the usual cowboy tailgate meeting in front of Los mangoes, aside from the dog barking and the surf....not a sound. I know I have coffee, cream and toilet paper at home, so straight home I go. I wish I had a pail of ice cream. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Sitting at the airport I tell my shoulders to relax. I reflect on how many hands it has taken to get me here. Friends and family members picking and dropping me off at bus depos, airports, the golf course, someone picks up my mail, someone deposits money, someone mails my christmas cards, delivers gifts, emails me important stuff, someone waters plants, ..... I think at this moment someone is tiling my bathroom and someone is missing his grandma when he wakes up. I regret that this grandma is a phantom that comes and goes like a surprise schnook. I'm tired, my shoulders are tense, my hands looks like I've been in a cat fight, my big toe nail is blue, I'm dehydrated but I need coffee to make it through my 7 airports in the next 4 days. I think of my new swim suit in my carryon, will I wear it this year. Right now I can see me jumping  in the ocean. I really do. I can't wait to see the ocean.I stop in Louisiana for 4 days to visit some friends, we are connected by our mutual love of golf. I am toured through 4 golf courses and the country side, I see old plantation homes, winding bayous, alligators, rivers, lakes, and the ocean. I see furniture and household fixings to fit the finest of southern homes in the grandest fashion. I eat chicken and pork gumbo with bread that I will never forget, I eat shrimp stew, and a smorgasbord of so many things I can't even spell or tell you about. But let me tell you about the hotdog that I will never forget. A little hole in the wall, and 2 young men with an amazing idea named "Botsky's". It is a little gourmet hotdog shop. First you choose your dog, then you choose your toppings and your sauce. I choose the alligator and pork dog, it's about an inch think, for my toppings I choose red beans, tomatoes, guacamole, onions and for my sauce I choose spicy chipotle.......I will never be able to explain to you how great it was, the dog, the toppings, the sauce and the homemade was perfect and won't be forgotten ever. What a great idea.4 days gave me just a little taste of the south and I will be back for more.  Must come back to see yous  ya'll. I imagine how great it would be to see this place from the back seat of a bike. (sigh)

A plantation home

A alligator getting some sun

If you are ever in Lake Charles Louisiana take the time to have a hotdog at "Botsky's". I recommend the "gator"


I arrive, fast off the plane, I have no luggage. My Mexican brother hustles me into his truck as I in hale deep the soft humid air, I think I can smell vanilla. It's hot, hot and very special kind of hot.  We are in a hurry, it's his father's (my Tio) birthday and there is a party happening on the beach. There are apples rolling around on the floor around my feet. It rained yesterday, the road is a mess, we pass a tractor pulling a dead cow with 8 cows walking behind in a procession. Brother whoops out the window at them in greeting. We struggle with the road and decide to take the beach.

Arriving at sunset....pinch me

 The sun is just setting and I am in awe and humbled at how blessed I am. Brother updates me on the Island gossip, this is why he is always the one to pick me up, gets to tell me his side first. We race along the beach dodging boat anchors, I can't believe I am here. He has been given orders to drop me by "our" sister's restaurant. A very excited 7 year old almost throws me over with her hugs and won't let go, we all group hug. I am told to go home and drop my bags off and come back for the party. I am soaked, it's so hot. Locks have been changed in my house, why? who knows, but my Tia across the street has the keys. My garden is a jungle, I am in awe again. In my house there is a new kitchen table, freshly  built, I smell sawdust, and a quapa tree planted right in front of the house that will block my view one day why? Who knows. Every item in the house is coated in dust, this will take a week to clean but i have a party to go to. I find a pillow and wipe down the futon, this will be my bed tonight. My hair is dripping down my back, my t-shirt is soaked. It's hot like no other hot. I wipe down, roll up my pant legs and find a dry t-shirt and head to the beach....slowly. Many hugs along the way, by now it's dark and I like it,  it's peaceful.

I see lights twinkling in the dark and hear the music above the surf as I approach the restaurant, I feel so at home. Nothing has changed and I like that. As everyone hugs me they all comment on my long hair and how skinny I am, no worries though, they will fatten me up, in one night keeps ending up on my plate. We joke saying there is no food in Canada. My 73 year old tio dances all evening, it's his party. He dances with his wife, with his grand kids with his daughters, nieces, sisters, he loves the attentions and the applause. Grand kids take turns with the mike singing him songs, he's so happy and I forget how hot it is. I can't believe I am here. This party will go on into the night, as my Tio is doing the Mexican hat dance  I sneak away, I've been up since 3 am, a nephew gives me a ride home on his quad. Once home I realize I need toilet paper, coffee and cream, (the necessities)  I walk to the store. It's  still hot but I am no longer sweating, I must be adapting already. From my house to the store it's a meet and greet parade for me. As always there are new babies and many new puppies and people's houses have been painted but not much else has changed and I like that. I fall asleep to the distant soft sound of the surf, roosters letting me know I am in Mexico and the occasional kid whooping in the street, I sleep soundly on the futon.

My house cleaning went very slowly as I keep getting interrupted, I don't mind. I haven't gotten into a normal routine yet. I need  to find  a new system for storing my clothes, lots of them got mold stains from the humidity.First morning walk on the beach was pure bliss, I am humbled again at the faithfulness of God and am ever so grateful. To be able to say that I am living out my dream life is humbling....who am I to deserve this?First sunset is breathtaking, how can it be that the surf and sunset can be so different each time, I never get tired of it...never.  

November 11th, wherever you are....never foget

All is well in mi casita

I'll work on getting some color in here this season

there is so much going on in this tree

regardless of what you washes up ashore it's always beautiful, I think if I took a picture of a horse turd at the right angle and right light on the beach it would be beautiful.

Monday, November 25, 2013

I'm baaaack!

First....sorry for not writing and staying connected, I haven't disappeared, just didn't have much to say. For reason I won't  get into this space is not supposed to be about my work and since that's all I did all, I really didn't have much to write about. I had a garden as usual and 3 chickens but wasn't able to spend  much time at home. My garden had to fend for itself,  thank goodness for some decent rains this summer, it still produced enough to feed me all just didn't look as pretty. I had enough tomatoes to make a lot of salsa, and even freeze a lot. For the first time ever I had a great crop of cucumbers and carrots, beets and amazing garlic, other than that I didn't have much. Peas and beans died due  to neglect and squash got planted so late it didn't produce, except for zucchini....any monkey can grow  zucchini?

My chickens survived just fine and greeted me every day when I came home from work with their chatter and with 3 eggs. 3 chickens gave me plenty of eggs to share with my neighbours. Louise was the same from last summer and she was very friendly but Veronica and Betty were new and didn't warm up to me at all, I just didn't spend enough time with them like I did with Louise last summer.

I didn't knit a stitch, read a book, paint a thing or touch my sewing machine, didn't even bake bread or make a pie. Seriously....just work. Made one road trip in July to see my daughter and grandson and they came up twice, and aside from maybe a handful of quick lunches with a friend that is about all the socializing I did too.

All work and no play isn't so bad when you can let your mind drift off  to a land of sun, sand and surf and know that there is an end to the work, and once it's's over for 5 months, and then it is all worth it and I wouldn't change a thing.

I'll leave you with some shots  of the summer

I love taking photos from the bug's view....from the bottom up

Aside from the horse he has the whole farming thing figured out

Like I said nothing overly interesting ....... yet. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The return of the wandering heart

This wandering heart is back home in the great north, thank goodness all who wander are not lost. I won't blah blab too much about my trip but I do have some nice shots too share. It started in Arizona, then to California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia and then into Alberta. We took the long scenic route, it was a 9 day journey.

Been waiting for gas long?

Have you ever fallen in love with a tree.....I fell for this one. 


To my American friends, you have a beautiful country. We had wonderful weather and met only wonderful people on the road and off, it was an amazing trip. I usually travel by plane and in doing so have missed out on seeing your country. I've just gotten a small taste of it and I want more, I will be back. Thank-you for your hospitality and stay proud.