Saturday, January 10, 2015

When you get up early

When you get up early

The same shot, the one on the left is taken through my sunglasses, the one on the right is the real thing

Left shot is through my sunglasses, right one is the real thing

Seriously this was an incredible morning 

A Marlin Taco....or 5

Today I take a short walk on the beach in the morning, cowboy is just bringing his horses in, there is a little baby lagging behind, again. He waves and yells "Welcome Maria". I can 't believe the beach is  so different each day, I can't explain it. Would I ever get tired of it?

I get home and do the last of my laundry, every piece of cloth in this house has now been washed, by hand, by me. Leaving a house empty in this humid climate is very smelly, I should install some fans, that might help, I should get going on that, it could take a while. I should ask that guy, the one that installed my lights last year, the ones that don't work now, because the plug in and sockets are all rusty. Rusty like my hair brush, cheese grater, paper clips, nail file, and all my bobby pins.

I don't eat much breakfast, just 2 bananas, I have an appointment for a massage and a chiropractic adjustment, I can't turn my head without feeling like I am over stretching a tight rubber band, this is normal for me after a busy golf season. I take the tourist ferry across, it costs more but it's closer to where I am going. I want to take a bus downtown because I don't want to arrive all hot and sweaty. I remember the driver from last year, he washes his change with a lime once in awhile, The lime is the reason Mexico doesn't have Ebola, or H1N1, or pig disease, just put a lime on it. Lime cures all. You can even soak raw fish in lime and eat it, it's called ceviche.

I get to down town, I'm a bit early, time to go to a bank and stop at the fabric store to eye up some cushions for my living room. Is it cheaper to buy some already made or to make some, or will I just buy the fabric and procrastinate making them until the last week I am here, sounds about right, just buy some already made is say, but then there is less choice of color, pattern, fabric, however with this many choices it will take....forever. Just buy some. Not today, just looking. What else did  I need? I left my list at home. This is normal.

My massage is great, as his hand glazes over some "flabby" parts, I wonder if he is thinking "this girl could do with a little less tacos"? He's right, I would be fine with less tacos, I should start taking better care of myself, I should eat more fruit, the fruit here is great, I eat a lot of it, but as a snack in-between meals, I should eat fruit for my meal. I'll start today, I'll stop at an El Dengue and have a yogurt and fruit smoothie for  lunch. He has a hard time doing my Chiropractic adjustment because I won't relax, I apologize and we try again, no go. He leaves me in the room to "breath" a bit, he finally gets it. This is normal too. He suggests another massage next week, If I must. I walk out feeling better, not great, but better.

I head to the beach, I need to catch a north bus to go check up on my phone situation, whoa, wait, what's that? Marlin taco special, with beans, soup, chips and dip and a drink for 60 pesos, right in front of the ocean, I sit myself down at the very front table facing the ocean. I plow my way through a plate full of marlin, beans and tortillas, soup and chips before I remember......yogurt smoothie!! Dang! I just don't care about the "flabby" parts  right now, the waiter keeps calling me "his pretty". This place is FINE, the tables and chairs are wooden and not wobbly, the Jamaica is served in a big glass glass, not a stained plastic tumbler,  the marlin is perfect, the music is nice, the volume is reasonable, and the view worth a million bucks.....did I mention the waiter calls me "his pretty". I like this place. If they had cake I'd move in here and live here....ohhh and free WIFI with no code needed. I think I should write a  book about the food in Mazatlan, I think I could be called an expert foodie. I know where they make the best yogurt fruit smoothies, haven't been there yet, but I know where it is. I 'll get there yet. Not my fault there is a taco stand on every corner.

I finally get on a north bus and we cruise down the malecon, I see the city is redating the malecon, I thought it was fine the way it was, they've planted big coco trees in the meridian. I get off and have  to walk about 3 blocks in, good, need  to walk off my tacos, how many did I eat, 2, 4, gasp....was it 5, if I walk 1 block per taco does that zero it out, I doubt it.

 I see the old "San Diego" Hotel is getting a makeover, i hope they leave the old traditional tiles on the outside, I already don't like the new modern marble looking tiles that are going up, hope they leave the row of colonial rocking chairs in the open lobby. I walk past the Dodge dealership they have the most beautiful outdoor showroom in the world...I think.

About half way there I catch a whiff of carne asada, I see a taco stand across the street, the smell is incredible, it's floating across a 4 lane street and almost makes me forget that I am not hungry. Then I see a fruit smoothie place 2 doors from the taco stand, who would walk past this smell and get a smoothie instead of tacos, somebody that's really daft that's who. However, a smart person would have 1 taco and a smoothie, that might be a compromise I could live with. How does carne asada smell so good here, it's just marinated thin beef strips, maybe it smells this good in Canada too when we BBQ but we don't do it on every street corner we do it in the privacy of our fenced in back yards. Our country is too sterile, it never smells like anything.

I get to the Telcel place and the "Engineer" tells me that yes he can unlock my Telus Iphone, I leave my phone with him and am to come back tomorrow, would you believe that the first thing i think when he tells me that is....."Marlin tacos by the beach again".....that smoothie place is a little out of the way, ah ha, and that other place just lines right up, it's right where I catch the bus, unless I take the village ferry, then the taco place would be out of my way...a  bit, and the smoothie place a bit closer, a bit. Life is so hard here.

I stop at the market, I have an inflammation in my lower back, apparently a concoction of red cabbage, pear and lemon is supposed to help, there is no red cabbage in the market. I'll try my fruit/veggi guy that lives on my street tomorrow,  them I remember that he told me yesterday that he would have beautiful papaya today, great, while I'm running around Mazatlan my beautiful papaya is cruising around Stone Island, hopefully he will have some beautiful papaya left tomorrow as well.

I'm on the ferry home with my neighbor who is my land lady's oldest son, (my roommate's brother) he is a tuna fisherman, all tuna boats are docked right now until January, but some are working on board doing maintenance, he says he's been on board painting all day, aside from one little spot on his pants, which could be a bleach stain, he has no paint on him, and he smells as fresh as a daisy patch, and his hair looks perfect, he must be a different painter than i am. He gets off on the colonia side and says he wants to ride his bike the long way around to get some exercise...ah ha, I think you're up to no good, ...painter man. He better smear some paint on himself before he goes home.

On the way home I see a new hamburger stand ``hamburgers lucky``, I have never had a hamburger in Mexico. I've always thought that hamburgers are for babies that haven't discovered tacos yet, but, could I be missing out on something? Maybe hamburgers here are like hotdogs, totallllllly different.

I'll leave you with some random shots of Mazatlan

Sunset from the Malcon

New palms lining the malecon, Palms were donated by the Ejido from Stone Island

Plaza Republica

I love interesting door, here is a tree root growing out of the wall

So much going on here

From the top of Icebox Hill

I've been back to the Telcel place 2 times since then and my Iphone is now unlocked and has a Mexican Telcel chip in it and works fine.

Have not had a fruit smoothie yet. But I know where they are.

They did chip away all the old traditional tiles on the Hotel San Diego, I saw them shovel the broken tiles into a barrel, had I had a truck I would have asked to have the barrel, they were all broken but would have made a great tile mosaic project in my back yard. I remembered later that I could have sent my Mexican brother with his truck. All the updating and renovation that is going on here this season is an attempt to built up the tourist industry that has been destroyed by the media in the last few years. It saddens me that they feel they have to tear down the traditional Mexican decor and replace it with a more modern look. The Golden Zone already doesn't look very Mexican with its Mac Donalds, Dairy Queen and Applebees restaurants and huge places like the Rui, the San Diego was still a reminder that this is Mexico. oh well....that's my rant. Just don't mess with the taco stands. 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

How I Got A Room Mate

Many times people ask me what I pay for rent, what kind of deal do I have, do I pay year round, do I pay utilities? I don't like to answer any of these questions. Mostly because it causes problems in the Mexican community. They all have a place for rent, or have a family member or a friend that has a place that they would like to rent out. Regardless of what I tell them my rent is they will give me a "better deal", they always have a "better deal". To the gringo community what I pay for rent is irrelevant, it means nothing. Should I move out and you move in the rent will change, it may go up it may go down. Even if the house next door to mine is exactly like mine the rent will be different. Rent is whatever you can negotiate with the owner and what you negotiate will depend on the family's needs at that time. After you make the deal those needs could change and then so will your rent, usually without notice. If this happens it does not matter if your deal is on paper or verbal, you have no recourse.

This year my family's needs changed, so did my rental agreement.

When I first rented this place my land lady asked if she could keep the one room as a storage room. As her children moved out over the years they left behind "stuff" that they wanted her to keep for them (yup, know all about storing stuff). I didn't need the extra room and so I agreed.

Soon as I arrived I noticed a car and a motorbike parked in my driveway, which I recognized, they belonged to my land ladies youngest son. He is 26, I have known him since 2007. I saw that a kitchen and a shower and a toilet had been installed in the "storage room", clearly he was living in there. Remember, Mexicans don't need as much space as we. A whole family can live in your living room.

At first I got all "Canadian" and was really annoyed at the breach of our deal, at him moving in while I was gone. He was smart, he waited a few days to come around, probably working up the courage to face me. Meanwhile the locals all knew he was living there and were wondering what I would do. They were very curious but didn't want to come right out and ask. They asked "how is everything at your house?", "Any problems at your house this year ?", and of course "if you have problems at your house this year I have a place to rent". Everyone was acting all concerned. My response was simply "nope no problems".

I had time to think, time to feel convicted, time to ask myself some questions. "why can I not share my space?", my Mexican friends and neighbors, and my adopted family here have shared everything they have with me, their food, their homes have been opened, their lives are totally open to me, they share things with me that I do not write about on this blog, and I can't share one room? Am I not here to submerge myself in the Mexican culture as much as possible? I often speak of my heritage here, my roots are here, but yet I want to stay separate from them?  Shame on me.

When he finally came around he was rather sheepish and I felt bad that he so felt bad. He asked if it was ok if he "stayed" here "sometimes". We chatted and we made a "deal".

He will be living here and his girlfriends will "visit" sometimes. Yeah yeah,  I know how girlfriends "visit". We have established boundaries, that I already know will be broken, we've discussed how many people is a "party" and what volume of music is considered "too loud". All of these will all be breached at one time or another, some were breached that very next weekend. However, our communication is good, everything gets addressed  and I always have to remember that this is how the Mexicans live and I am now living the Mexican life and I like it. He is part of my family. And you cannot choose your they say.

There are perks to having a roommate, his brother calls him my secretary, and he's been called my door man. If you come to my house and I am not home he will tell you where I am and will tell me who was by when I come back. He helps me with my cell phone and  installed Mexican aps on my Iphone, he was a huge help in getting my (our) internet  installed. When he is at the super deli he texts me asking if I need anything.....that's when I order a watermelon. (just kidding) When his girlfriend cooks (when she's visiting) he proudly brings me a plate. He gives me a ride in his car and will lend it to me (I'm waiting until he fixes the brakes) He is very eager to help me with whatever I need. He went away one weekend, at first I was happy he was going away, it would be quiet like it used to be, but by Sunday I realized that I actually missed him. He is a part of my life now.

The locals are still making sure that I know that if I "have problems" at my house they all have a way out for me, some are curious as to how often the girlfriend "visits", I just say "yes she visits". His mother has made it very clear that if he gives me any problems she will kick him out. She comes by often to check if he is cleaning, "so that it doesn't stink", yeah I know what she is checking for.

We have had some funny moments. This house didn't really have electricity for 2 people, it barely had electricity for one. I could never be in the shower and have the stove on at the same time, the breaker would flip. The first week our breaker and lights flipped on and off like a Christmas tree gone crazy, I always had the candles ready. We've had water overflowing in the back yard due to one turning the water on and not telling the other. We've had a few too many people over and then accidentally had a party, it happens. It's all good. It's Mexico. 

My room mates Volkswagen, named "Bowtcho", his other car is a BMW which he usually keeps on the other side (Mazatlan) A beautiful old BMW, the kind I would buy.

And his helicopter, that's what it sounds like

Fish that was prepared by his girlfriend, a prefect little tin foil package ready to put on the grill

Ceviche also a gift from the visiting girlfriend.....I like her

Bought a BIG cake of fresh cheese  (queso fresco) off a guy on a motorcycle (not the helicopter) and now that I have a room mate I can share too, 

This is what I do with this cheese, this is my favorite lunch or I eat it with crackers in the evening, sometimes with a glass of wine. Or I put it on almost anything I cook, eggs, potatoes, even on top of soup.
Just to be clear, he has his own kitchen and bathroom in the room that I never used (the storage room) and it has its own entrance that opens to the front yard, my entrance opens to the backyard. Which makes the front yard now his, I still have my backyard to myself. This was a fairly standard Mexican house where you could walk right the house, in the back door and out the front.