Tuesday, February 7, 2017

...it Just Took AWhile

I've been going to the National AAA baseballs games in Mazatlan since 2000, I am a Venados fan and very much a fan of the grilled sausage at the stadium and of their hotdogs. However for some reason it has taken until now to figure out where the really really good seats are and how the seats are numbered. Turns out the most expensive seats are not the best seats and the seats with the best view are not the funnest seats. I have found (with the help of friends) the seats with a great view and that are fun and economical. 30 pesos. Yup, the 30 peso seat is the best seat in the stadium.  It just took awhile.

I have studied the Mazatlan bus system also since 2000 and can finally say I have triumphed and can travel throughout the city via bus, well I always could, but with usually a few hiccups, the hiccups are getting less and less. Each bus has its route and a schedule but it's not written down anywhere in a handy laminated 4X5 card (which we would all love to have) 
Over the years I have occasionally stood on a street corner and done a "bus study" and made a list on a small piece of paper only to lose the paper or to find the ink has faded on it when I needed it, like ink does here. It may have taken years but I have it figured out....mostly. When in doubt the best way to find out what bus goes where is ask the person standing beside you. The locals all know the routes, it's common knowledge to them and they are always very willing to help.
 I have had great bus fun over the years, met wonderful interesting people on the bus. I have never seen a bus system anywhere that appears to be this chaotic and crazy but yet so very efficient and economical. 7.50 pesos will get you clear across the city. The cholos bus will take you from central to the edge of town ( a 1 hr ride) for 7.50 pesos, another 7.50 pesos will get you back to central, that's a 2 hr city tour for 15 pesos. Where else can you get a bargain like that anywhere. It just took awhile to figure this out.

Cilantro, never used to like it. Not one bit, didn't even like the smell of it. But it was stubborn and it just kept showing up in my food, year after year after year, there is was, looking all green and smelling all funny pretending to be parsley. Slowly, ever so slowly it woed me, now I'm a fan and I know that you can't eat some things without it, like ceviche, salsa mexicana, pozole and so on, I am a fan, I even grow it in Canada now. Have to have it. It just took awhile.

The locals eat everything with lime. Everything, they squeeze it on their tacos, in their salad, in their pozole, on their chicken fingers, shrimp, beef, fish, beer, on a cut finger, on a mosquito bite, their kids school whites, socks, shoes, blouses, there is no end to lime use here. Again, I didn't like it at first but couldn't escape it. Now, I love it on pretty much everything too and I miss it when I am in Canada, we have limes there too but I can't afford to buy them. I sure do like me some lime. It just took awhile.

Mariachi music. Used to find it annoying when I was sitting at a table eating my meal and chatting with friends and then a mariachi band would show up and play at the next table so loud that your glassware would shake and your table would start rocking. It was loud, and the songs seemed so long, I would sit with my North American friends and roll my eyes. I know...how rude. I have learned to appreciate this custom, it's Mexican art, it's a tradition and a part of the Mexican culture, one that I can now love. I look forward to hearing them. It's nice to take a break from conversation and eating to just lean back and listen. 
If you stop and just listen then it is not an interruption anymore, it's a part of your meal. I love them now and even recognize some of the most played songs now. It just took awhile.

Swimming. Can't believe it took me this long. I didn't learn to swim until last year, I have a dear friend to thank for this, she knows who she is. I miss you. I have grown to love the ocean but with a deep respect for it. I have a lot more to learn but I have come a long way. I am in the water almost every day now. I love the smell and feel of it on my skin, I love smelling it on my sheets and my clothes. I just took awhile.

My Spanish....ehhhhh, it's coming but it too is taking awhile.

Because I am backtracking a bit here I'm going through old photos. 

I used to go to my Tio's plantation every Monday with them and help them on their farm, the highlight was always eating fresh tortilla a la Rancha out there. Fresh hand made tortillas on a fire. You know that smell of fresh bread coming out of the oven? This is intense like that but with out that yeast smell, the smell rolls over you like soft delicious little mini waves. It's a smell that you cannot mistake for anything else. 

A few old bricks makes an instant fore pit

An old disc plate seasoned with some lime

A pair of hands that know exactly how the dough should feel

You had to be there to understand the taste and smell

These were good seats 

I always forget to get a picture of the sausage

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Follow me to work

I manage to fanagle by bike over my stairs and through 2 gates without  scrapping a knee or spilling my bag of oranges I am bringing to work. I pass Terri just opening her shop, she waves and hollers, I wave and holler back, I miss walking, you talk to people more. Monica is hanging laundry out...always, Erika yells...hey its Maria, they all holler "hola" I holler back. Esmelda is sweeping the sidewalk at Carmalitas and Arturo is listening to classical music today under his palapa as his grandkids are playing at his feet, his wife is sweeping the yard, how does she keep her yard so immaculate.

The staff at Amaitlan are sweeping horse poop off the sidewalk, concrete sidewalk is just not practical when horses are still a mode of transportation.
Behind the Molocay I almost collide with a motorbike, thanks goodness he was on the ball, I sure wasn't.
The sand behind the Puesta del sol is very soft and thick, sometimes I can make it around the corner if I have lots of speed, I dig deep for that 5th gear in my legs and  I almost make it but Domingo is washing his truck in his driveway and his dog is in the street, I slow down and then can't get going again. I may as well stop and chat now. I chat with him and his wife about all the Christmas holidays plans they have and about their trip down. (they are from Lake Chapala)  I have to get going or I may be late. Now it's up hill a ways, my thighs are on fire by the time the ground levels out, it's a good feeling.

Trailers of tourists are already arriving, 2 trailers passed me, all Mexican. The Mexican tourist sure have stepped up to fill the void after the American media cleaned out the American tourists a few years back....they are coming back slowly.

As I peddle along the straight going to to Los Chivos  I once again thank God for leading me here, how great is this life, going to work with my bathing suit on under my clothes, I look left and see ocean, I look to the right and see ocean. I have my knitting in my bag in case it's not busy and my swim suit on under my dress. God is good.

As I pull in I am greeted by all, everyone seems so happy to be at work. David is re plastering the bathroom, my brother and his banditos are putting the last touches of the palapa and prepping for tiles on the floor. Breakfast is being cooked, I can smell eggs.

We rake the sand,  sifting out any garbage, wash chairs and tables and then wipe them down, fill all the napkin holders, arrange the tortilla baskets, make sure the mayonnaise/ketchup/and salsa is ready. Get all the coco tools out, machete, knife, big scoop spoon, salt, lime, and chili. We fill the drink fridge with beer, soft drinks and  juices. We make sure the bathrooms are clean and the dish washing station has soap and water and I make sure it has the proper waste baskets, one for fish bones, one for fish guts, one for paper garbage, one for organic garbage, not sure why I bother with this, this only stays organized like this if I am the only one doing dishes, if we get busy and everyone helps out with dishes everything gets thrown in one bin. This is me....trying to change things...again, sometimes I don't listen to my own advise.

Once we are all ready we sit in hammocks, Maria and I knit, we all chat. We chat about ways to increase business, we chat about different ways of cooking  (Canadian/German/Mexican) we chat about life on a tuna boat, about the need for women to paint their nails in Mexico, the need for some (most) Mexican men to have more than one women...why is that? (it's a long story) We chat about young kids smoking these days, women smoking, young kids wanting designer clothes, why men drink beer, and why is that women walking by in the long red dress not wearing any underwear...at all, and why was the man in our group the first to notice this, this was the funnest discussion, by the time we were done with him he wanted to lock himself in the kitchen.

And then the people came. I had a table of people from Spain, here on vacation visiting a relative who lead them to Los Chivos. Kids were fascinated by the cocos but didn't go in the water (it was rather cool and windy)

I had a tables of about 13 (all family) from Chihuahua, when I told them that was where my family is from it was decided I was family, I had so much fun serving them. I laughed and joked all day. They ate a lot of shrimp.

I had a table of people (a family, all adults) from Mexico City here on vacation staying at the the Estrella del Mar. They had been partying there with some Canadians over Christmas and since I am Canadian they also declared me family and invited me to eat  and drink with them (but I was too busy). They drank a lot of beer and danced (we have music) and played in the cold cold water. And then drank more beer.

I tell our management committee that we will soon run out of beer, no one listens to me.
My young co-worker has a problem with a table, he comes to me for help, they don't speak Spanish. So I take over, a young Canadian couple here on a week vacation, here for the 3rd time, but first time at Los Chivos, they have done all the touristy tours over the years and are now hitting the streets on their own.

A chevy Safari minivan and a Chevy Blazer pull onto the beach, on the roof of the safari are chairs and a kid laying on his stomach (I'm not making this up) they drive to the end of the beach and I count as 21 people pile out of these 2 vehicles, the little kids come out single file and run straight into the ocean in their clothes and they don't come out until sun down. They don't need anything from us, they have 2 soccer balls, a table, chairs, heavy coolers, pots and big bowls, music and food and drinks. Their fun entertains me every time I look up. If my parents would have taken us to a beach this is how we would have gone. Hill billy style.

And then, surprise, we ran out of beer. Big kafuffle, how to get beer fast? By now the banditos have all gone home, taking their trucks and quads with them. A few phones calls are made but no one is available to bring beer. It's decided my young co worker with borrow my borrowed bike and head to the store and while he is gone I will tend to his tables. "We are also low on coke" I add, no one listens to me.

Halfway through the day I serve my first plate of "camarones capeados" (beer battered Shrimp) oh my gosh, where have you been all my life? My Mexican sister never made these. This may change my life.

When things finally slowed down a bit we all takes turns sitting down to eat. Today we had chicken strips, rice and beans. Not store chicken strips, a real chicken breast cut into strips and breaded. Yum.
As the sun start to set everyone packs up, clothes and towels are wrung out, showers are taken with the garden hose out back, empty beer cans are gathered from the sand.....and the exodus starts, my favorite time of day (after sun up). We break and all scatter into hammocks and chairs and watch the sunset until it fades into the dark.

Once the mountain of dirty dishes are done (we lost control of the dishes at some point), the garbage is taken to the bin, the coco debris is raked up, tables and chairs are returned to their places, the kitchen is cleaned, the music stops. As our crew leaves to go home I take a quick swim in the dark. After a day of running up and down the stairs it feels so good to have a soak in the salt water, even if only a quick one. I put my dress back on and get on my bike and peddle home as fast as I can praying I don't hit a rock in the dark, this is Stone Island after all.

The best seat in the house

Unless of course that lazy waitress in laying in the hammock there

When it's high tide you can jump from your table to the water......it's a swim up bar

Sometimes the waitress hangs her dress on a nail and goes for a swim, no waves makes for nice clear water.

ops, looks like I already posted these pictures, I guess I need to review a bit before I start posting. 


Yikes, I've been away for a long time. If I still have readers, I thank you for waiting, if you've moved on I don't blame you.

I have no excuses, no fancy story as to why I didn't write. I wasn't stranded in the Himalayas without internet, didn't crash into the ocean and had to swim my way to Canada (what a cold swim that would be), I didn't break my fingers in a golfing accident (hey, it can happen) Didn't get lost in some rain forest (I wish) I just plain and simple didn't write. My life did take a little bit of a different turn (will get to that later) and I did get busy but not any busier than anyone else. I won't bore you with all my petty excuses.

So.....where to start? Do I back up or just move forward? I'll start by backing up a bit, I had some posts from last winter already written but just not posted....I know!!!! Stupid!

Shall we just pretend the little gap didn't happen and move forward? I say yay.