Saturday, March 30, 2013


How does one say "all hell broke loose" in Spanish? No se. My day today was wow wow wow Wow WOw WOW! but it was good!

The morning started off pretty normal, we were prepared. There was a fast trip to the market in the morning (5 am) I did not get to go as I am still a rookie, you have to be at least amateur for this kind of intense market shopping...remember anyone that is operating a restaurant this week (which is almost everyone) was at the market this morning getting supplies for the day just like us, and everyone wanted to get there and back as fast as possible before the lineups at the ferry docks get long and the ferry boats get do this you do not take a rookie with you to help, especially not one who answers most questions with "what?" and every order is followed by "like this?" and then the famous "no se nada".

I stayed home and drank coffee and watched the sun come up.
We all had our specific jobs assigned to us and we were set up with our own work space and were working in an assembly line sort of way....and then we lost our smooth rhythm and we all (without saying anything) reverted to a new tactic...a new game plan, and we all did it at the same time. It went something like this.

Waitress - "I need 3 shrirnp ceviches"prep girl #1- " I need more peeled shrimp for ceviche"...she throws a bucket of shrimp into my pila ,"peel these for ceviche"dishwasher girl (me) "ok dokie" I start peeling
Fire stoking girl (dude got laid off weeks ago) " I need more clean platters for fish"Dishwashing girl "ok dokie" I do a circle around the kitchen, find a dirty platter and push my shrimp aside and wash it. I wonder where all these people in the kitchen came from.Prep girl 1 " I need shrimp"Fish cleaning guy  " I got it" and moved into my space and starts peeling shrimpPrep girl 2 " I need shredded carrotsdishwashing girl "I got it" and started shreddingWaitress "I need 3 lemonades"Dishwashing girl " I got it"...and started squeezing limesFire stoking girl "I need 3 corbina" ( a fish)Fish cleaning guy I got it, leaves shrimp and runs to gut some corbinas, I start peeling shrimp againWaitress ,"we need spoons"Dishwasher girl -digs around dirty pile of dishes..."don't have any", goes back to peeling shrimpwaitress #2 comes with a handful of dirty spoons..."what did you do yank them out of the customers hand while they were eating"
Someone yells."I need a knife" if I had a peso for every time someone asked me for a knife today I would have made more pesos that the bathroom attendant.
Bathroom attendant yells' "we are out of toilet paper" ( yes we have a bathroom attendant..we are that classy)fish gutting guys yells I got it....takes off running to the store and has the carrot grater in his hand still Then someone forgot  the beans on the fire and someone spilled the rice, the sink overflowed, the mens urinal got plugged..not sure with what, I almost cut off my sister's toe (you had to be there), someone accidently got some sand on a plate of beans. We discovered that when someone uses the new sink my water in the pila stops running...not annoying at all.

In the end we were playing musical chairs with our work stations, when one person couldn't finish something someone else stepped in and finished the job. At one point there was  a stranger at the sink peeling shrimp...have no idea who he was, he was there and then he was gone. I wish I could have kept track of how many kilos of shrimp I peeled or of how many fish we killed...a lot. My hands got shredded  from the shrimp and the carrot shredder but well sterilized from all the lime squeezing, we went through 25 kilos of limes today....of 25 kilo that were bought this morning there may be 10 limes left. Imagine how many limes Mexico goes through during a Semana Santa.
To someone passing through it may have seemed like crazyness in our kitchen but it really did all work very well, we even had time to have some fun. At one point a very beautiful girl in a bikini came through to use the bathroom....(I am laughing so hard I can hardly type) I heard the fish cleaning dude first..I thought he had cut his finger, next the fire stoking team...."Someone call the fire department"  lol, we all stopped what we were doing to laugh at each other's reactions. Her beauty was appreciated by all of us.

Let me tell you about our bathroom attendant, she is 7 years old, the same little 7 year old that played in the water all say yesterday, (she has a beautiful tan today). That little wild child sat in the bathroom all day (all day), the deal is if you eat in our place you get a free bathroom pass card for your table, if you are not eating here you pay 5 pesos to use the bathroom, the 7 year old will take your money. She also is in charge of making sure it's clean and there is water for flushing. I went to use the bathroom and she tried to charge me 5  pesos, I said I'll pay later, which was fine with her, she as so cute, she said "oh wait, let me first check to make sure it's not a pig sty" She checked and said it's good and there is paper too". So professional she was. She did an awesome job all day and she made 200 pesos and never once came out to complain, she was brought a plate of food, and poked her head out when she needed more toilet paper and didn't even loose her cool when the urinal plugged.

At about noon I came out of the kitchen to walk to the  tide line to take a photo of the beach when I went to get back I couldn't get through the restaurant, tables were scattered everywhere, the place was packed with people. Mexicans don't mind being squished into tight spots, they don't mind if their table is up against the next table, they don't mind if their neighbour spills into their space. They are used to never having their own space, they all just become friends. North Americans would have been horrified in our restaurant today. As far as I know we did not have any problems, I don't even think I heard a baby cry.
We were packed full from noon to about 5:00 pm, at 7 pm when I went home there were a few people that had stayed behind the crowd to spend sunset on the beach.

I sat on my back steps and just stared into the sky at the stars when I got home, just so thankful for the opportunity to be here. The traffic passed by my house and a few times I had to laugh. I saw trucks with the boxes full of people, families with children, lawn chairs and tables, going home after a long day the beach. I even saw a chili truck, a chili truck  here is like a grain truck back home on the farm, the back was full of people laughing and chatting...heading home. What an awesome way to spend a vacation. Most of these people come from inland somewhere and don't get a chance to go to the beach every often or even never. I imagine myself as a kid, growing up on a farm the word "vacation" was a very foreign to us, how excited would we have been had dad loaded us into the back of his grain truck...grandma too, and some cousins, as many people as we could fit and head off to the nearest beach. We would have gladly driven 5-7 hours to get to the beach, lunches packed and coolers of cold drinks....oh yeah.

Tomorrow I don't work because I need to get house packed and cleaned but  I will wander over to the beach, my family wants to cook me my last supper....and now I start to cry. 

Here is  a photo of the traffic on Thursday on can only imagine what it looked like on Friday, no I wasn't there I snagged this from the Noroeste website.

Friday, March 29, 2013


Once again the beach was a little busier than yesterday but yet not crazy...crazy is still to come. On my walk through the village going to the beach I noticed that anyone living alongside the main street has also got a booth set up in front of theri house selling anything from strawberries and cream (yup) to tamales to cocos to used clothes, ceviche...anything. There was a big chili truck that unloaded it's wares on an empty lot and was selling kitchen ware stuff, pots and pans, dishes, cutlery, plastic container of a sizes, soup bowls, pot name it they had it.

MY sister's 7 year old jumped in the water at 11 am and came out just as I was going home at 7:00 pm, she is a little shark. I love watching the kids play here, it seems growing up on a small Island makes them do things to the extreme, (not really the word I want), with more heart I guess is more like it. I've watched them play beach volley ball and soccer and football on the beach and regardless of age they all play with everything they have, never holding back, they always play as if they are playing for gold. If there is one kid on a team that is a tourist or not from here you can pick him out, he just doesn't have the drive..or heart.
I watched families set up camp in a small space, maybe an 8 x 8 feet of space and the whole family started a game of soccer and played as if the gold metal was at stake. Dads were sliding and rolling in the sand, summer salting, running in the ocean with clothes on to get the ball. Entertaining their kids with more heart than I have ever seen.

We have the Marines, and police and The Red Cross patrolling the beach on foot,  they have stopped allowing vehicles.
 Today I saw something and I was a bit dumbfounded and so I didn't get a picture. I saw the lifeguard on a guad with policeman on the back and he was holding what looked like a deer...yes a deer, so because that would have been impossible I thought it must have been a dog...they must have rescued a dog in the water.
As I am walking home at sunset I stop at my old house on the beach where some friends are now living and they are sitting outside watching the sunset and the last of the people walking home, they offer me a glass of wine...yes I need wine after my busy day, I'm exhausted. They tell me that it was a deer that was rescued iin the water. For some reason there was a deer swimming in the ocean (clearly lost) the guy on the boat that pulls the banana boats scooped him out into his boat and then the lifeguards and police escorted him off the Island....or maybe they are enjoying deer tacos se. Remember deer here are a lot smaller than in the north where I come from, they are the size of a big dog.
As I walk home from there I hear an auction...yes it sounded like a Mexican auctioneer...imagine. Could it be an auction? I follow the sound. Yes it's an auction, I"m watching a Mexican auction...what next? The guy with the chili truck full of wares is not auctioning off his stuff. He puts stuff in a plastic bag and auctions it, if no one bids me puts more stuff in the bag...and so one. I watched a lady buy a bag with 5 ceramic mugs for 40 pesos. So cool. The auctioneer and the ringman took turns, maybe to save their voice. If you think the Mexican speak Spanish fast....go to an auction. I didn't dare bid on anything for fear of having misunderstood. It was entertaining.
After I got home I did some laundry, I have to do laundry at night now because during the days the birds are eating mangoes in my mango tree and shitting on my laundry on the line so I now have to hang my laundry out at night and then bring it into my house in the morning to dry, it just doesn't dry at night.
And now I have to get ready for Friday....we are expecting CRAZY!

Thursday, March 28, 2013


The municiple garbage guys can't keep up so my Mexican cousin had to come and take our garbage away, and he has a new companion.

 He also installed out new sink which he built for us, where does that black pipe go? Just into the ground, because it is an all sand base the water just gets absorbed. The square box on top is where the soap is kept....we are thrilled. I have watched Mexicans wash up before a meal, I've watched mothers nearly scrubbing the skin off the little kids before they get to sit down and eat. My sisters boys will come in to eat and nearly have a bath, first they'll take their t-shirt off and wash face, head, neck and arms and then dry themselves with their t-shirt and then put the t-shirt back on. Having a sink instead of a barrel will make it so much easier.

not sure where this little guy is going, maybe he is trying to rent out his horse too, everyone here has entrepreneurial spirit

The life  guards spend Monday and Tuesday erecting their booth, today they spent it getting the roof on and painting it. 

You can see (kind of) our lifeguards get around by guad and they have flashing blue and red lights on it just like the police because usually they are police moonlighting as lifeguards, they can and will arrest you. Last week I saw them make a quick phone call and within a few minutes 3 police trucks came with 11 officers and many many big big guns and they walked into out restarataunt and arrested 3 guys that had been smoking marijuana in the beach. Days before that they arrested a local fisherman right beside us for smoking marijuana. Life guards had given him a warning or two already. Despite of what people think it is still illegal to smoke that crap in public...especially the beach. 

Raspados....what the town of Concordia is know for, aside the furniture...a raspado is a snow cone , a cup of shaved ice topped with the topping of your choice, anything fruit flavor has small chunks of fruit in it as well. Of course the Mexican favorite is chili/salt/lime

The real beach boys.....I counted 4 bands like this, this is music that doesn't get tiring. Mexicans love their life banda music, I didn't hear any getto blaster music...only live music like this....and they can't help themselves but dance when they hear music like this....that includes our kitchen staff

not overly crazy yet....yet

Boy next door with his apron on.The mexican boys grow up as macho as can be, they are expected to be "macho" from  the time they are little but I like how they are secure in their machoism to put on an apron, carry their wife's purse or sit down at their mom's sewing machine to make their pants a little tighter, or go to work with  a tinker bell backpack (because that's all that was available) 

Off the subject of Samana Santa a bit. If you want a good look at how the Mexican boy becomes "macho" I recommend you read "The boy kings of Texas" by Domingo Martiz, it's a sad eye opener to how the  "majority" of boys grow up. Not all of course, a few things were clarified for me while reading this, it explained a lot for me as to why the young men are the way they are. (remember, my father grew up here and he brought some of his growing up scars to Canada with him as well)  It just makes me love the little kids here all the more.
Another good read about Mexican culture and some history is "The rain of gold" by Victor Villesenor....good good book, I promise you won't be able to put it down...and it's a true story.

There ..... that's your homework. Maybe I'll do a book club post.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


This is so cute, my Mexican sister's nephew and some of his buddies built this little shack to sell cocos from and rent out the jetski. Now imagine being 17-24 years old and hanging out here on the beach all week, I know some of these young men a little and there will be all sorts of shanigans happening here. There are selling cocos but they had a fire going and were cooking something the other day and came to borrow a knife sharpener, a spade, and some tinfoil yesterday. 

you just have to love their little table

This is the boys right next door to us, they've been over to borrow some things as well, when they built this I said to them that they were having way too much fun to call this work.

a little more people than will progressively get busier and then on Saturday....all hell will break loose

This is our only rag, we use it for everything...everything, not a half hour goes by without someone asking "where is the rag?", it is the ugliest dirty clean rag I have ever seen, I was repulsed by it at first until I got to know and see how often it was scrubbed with soap and bleach, it really is always clean, it just looks so disgusting. Yesterday I said "oh how I am going to miss my beloved rag when I am gone" (in Spanish of course) and we all laughed and now they all call it ,"maria's beloved rag". All day we talk about all the things I am going to miss when I am gone because I leave here on Sunday the 31st....yup, my time here is up and it is sad, very year it gets a little sadder to leave. I am sad to leave but happy to see my other family. It really is always a "basket case" of emotions to leave one home to go to another, there is even some guilt involved. I swear when God gave man the burden of toiling with the earth in the garden of Eden after the great fall from grace he gave women the burden of guilt. We feel guilty when we love and guilty when we don't, when I don't feel guilt I even feel guilty for that. It's a mess. It's the price I pay for having 2 homes....for now I am ok with that.

my beloved rag

cocos arrived yesterday morning, every 20 feet or so on this beach there is someone selling cocos, I suppose after Samana Santa all the coco trees on the Island are bare...
This is how you build new bathroom stalls. First a guy digs 2 (about 8 feet deep) holes with a spade, remember it's all sand here, then the holes are lined with stacked up tires and then the toilet is cemented in....thats plumbing. 

lThen the walls are put up

then you wait for cement to dry
The end of the many pictures do I have of this guy coming and going...lots

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The calm before the storm

I plan on giving you the pay by play on Stone Island beach. Being Monday today we weren't expecting it to be too busy, but we were stocked and organized anyway. As we were eating breakfast in the morning we were feeling pretty proud of all our new upgrades, new roof, a second bathroom stall is being built as we speak, we have some new table cloths, and new aprons, a new shelf in the kitchen...we were feeling pretty first class and then one of us found a little rock in the beans..ops, and then one of us found a peanut shell in the fresh cheese..ops, we all laugh, and then I remembered last week visiting a fairly posh restaurant in Mazatlan with some friends and one of us found a piece of carrot in the it can happen anywhere. 

This is at about noon, the boys next door rebuilt their palapa that got washed away a few days ago, they worked all day, singing, dancing and laughing at their misadventures, one guy tore his shorts and came over to borrow a pair of shorts. They had a hand saw and a machete as their only tool, one of my sisters boys finally went over there with his chainsaw (which was a bit over kill) once done they came over again to see if one of us had better handwriting they had to write up their sign...I'll try to take a picture of it today, it's very cool. You have to admire the entrepreneurial ism of these kids. 

About noon...a little busier than normal, but this is the calm before the storm, the weekend will be crazy. The city of Mazatlan is expecting 400, 000 people to visit, that means the population will double, not all these people will find their way to the Island

we did however run oout of cocos, the nearest tree was climbed and robbed of it's cocos