Thursday, February 28, 2013

the better bedroom

Remember this?

Here's the new paint job in the bedroom.  It still seems a bit on the blue shade to me but Mr. C says no, it's quite creamy.  I like it much better.  Less Mexican motel, more monk's cell!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

an even dozen

It has been 12 jam-packed days since my last post.  I was reminded of my laxity at a gathering last evening at one of the puestos by a couple of my loyal readers.  OK, folks!  Here's one for you.

When last we talked, Alex was about to fly in from Los Angeles.  We drove up to Manzanillo to greet her.  She arrived in good time, looking splendid and eager for a little R & R.

First thing was, of course, Friday night at Dago's.  She greeted old friends, met some of the new folk in town.  Saturday we listened to the opera (Carmen) and played dominoes.  Sunday we played more dominoes and went to Fernando's puesto for our usual comida, followed by more dominoes.

Monday it was tiangues, where she first heard these little  chicks peeping their hearts out.

I guess this is an early harbinger of Spring and Easter!

Monday afternoon we took off for a 2-night stay at La Posada.  Mr. C and I had immigration business to take care of.  We checked in ~ our room was #6, right on the end overlooking the beach in front . . .

and across the garden to the beautiful sala where we had breakfast and played some snappy dominoes.

Monday evening we found a really terrific Argentinian restaurant, El Gaucho,  a few blocks away.  Great food, fine service, terrific chimichurri to drizzle on the beef.

Tuesday morning we were up and out to get to immigration before it got too crowded.  We were in and out in an hour, then to the bank to pay for our immigration card, back to the office for another wait.  It took about two hours, start to finish.  There was one tiny glitch; I started my renewal process one day too soon so couldn't get my temporary paper.  I had to go back on Wednesday morning to pick it up.  Not to worry; we were staying another night anyway so we could do some major shopping in Manzanillo on Wednesday morning.  So it was back to the hotel for lunch and yet more dominoes.

It was at about this time that Mr. C began to feel poorly and took to his bed, where he stayed for the next 18 hours.  We had planned to go to dinner at Toscana's to celebrate Alex's birthday but it was clear he was in no shape to celebrate anything.

 After a little glass of wine and a gorgeous sunset,  we went by ourselves.  This ocean-front restaurant has a perfect setting, a big, wide open dining room, excellent food and a very relaxed and friendly atmosphere.  We lingered over a lovely dinner; lots of catch-up girl talk.  We got back to the hotel around 10 PM; Mr. C was sound asleep.

Wednesday morning he soldiered on but it was clear he was not feeling well.  We packed up and left the hotel, went back to immigration where it took about 10 minutes to transact business.  We decided to just head on home as it was clear Mr. C was in no shape to shop.  When we got here, he went back to bed and slept for several more hours.  Our dear Chuy, meanwhile, had cooked us a big pot of chiles rellenos picadillo so dinner was ready.  Alex and I headed down to the group domino game.  About in the middle of the game the earth gave us a couple of pretty sharp jolts; 5.3 earthquake, centered due south of Tecoman in the ocean.  We were up in a mirador so we went downstairs and waited to see what else might happen.  The water in the pool was sloshing around but nothing more.  Pretty soon we trooped back up, finished our game, and reminisced about past temblors including "the big one" in 2003 that flattened blocks of ancient adobe houses in Colima and killed many people there, in Tecoman, and even in Armeria.  We were in Guadalajara at the time and I'm just as glad.  Folks here are still spooked about it.

Thursday we swam at Jack's, played dominoes down at Charlotte's, and got dolled up to go out to dinner with friends.  Great evening over at the Jacaranda in Armeria.  It's one of our favorite spots.

Friday was more of the same; swim, relax, read, play dominoes up on the 3rd floor.

And Dago's, of course.  There was a big crowd again.  Good food, as usual.

By the time she was ready to go back home, Alex had lost her I-live-in-a-cold-climate-and-spend-all-day-in-an-office pallor  and had picked up a nice bit of tan and had finally relaxed and begun to enjoy the place.

Happy Birthday!!

By Saturday morning, the day of Alex's departure, I was feeling a bit queasy.  The "jippy tummy" had hit me.  So I didn't drive to the airport.  I bid her farewell here, went back to bed and slept for a couple of hours.  By the time Mr. C returned, I was feeling better although didn't want anything much to eat.  On Sunday I was restored to fine fettle and went down to Fernando's for some lovely fish.

Monday's post-tianguis routine included a group domino game held, this time, at Chuy's puesto (a different Chuy), the same place mentioned above where the party was held yesterday.  It was quite cold on Monday afternoon with a very chill wind blowing off the sea.  We sat huddled around the table, wrapped up in sweaters and shawls.  Oh yes, it's winter.  I almost forgot.

Yesterday we ran errands, did laundry, all that boring, mundane, must-do stuff.  Then around 4:30 I went down to join the party.  Here's some backstory on how this got set up.  There is a little town outside Colima called Comala.  On the square there are a series of restaurants set up along the portales The drill is that you order drinks and the botanas are free.  All sorts of snacks appear on the table; tacitos, quesadillas, guacamole con salsa, tostadas, flautas, you name it.  It's along the lines of a botanero.   Chuy  ~ probably egged on by Neighbor Nelson ~  decided to try it here.  There were 40+ gringoes gathered for a very fine time. He wants to do this every Tuesday; perhaps twice a month would be enough for me. Mr. C didn't make it this time but, with enough persuasion perhaps I can get him out in a couple of weeks.
That's Neighbor Nelson in the black/white shirt

L to R:  Paul, Aline, Frans
Blanche (in the white top; she hosted the earthquake domino game)
Suzanne and Daniel ~ building new house
This falling behind business is not a good idea.  It takes too much work to catch up.  I'll do better.

One more thing, and that's to do the book reports.  I finished  Bring up the Bodies, the second in Hilary Manel's trilogy, Wolf Hall being the first.  Again, thoroughly absorbing.  She writes the best historical fiction i've ever read.  Next I read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.  Very, very disturbing.  This story is going to stay with me for a long time.  Now reading the third in the Matthew Shardlake mysteries by C.J. Sansom.  Also set in Tudor England, in and around the court of Henry VIII.  Also excellent.  When I finish it I think I'll move on to Louise Erdrich's The Master Butchers Singing Club.   Or perhaps something else.  It's such a luxury to have all this time to prop up my feet and give myself over to books!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

real estate decisions

We had a very interesting walk-through with the real estate chaps this afternoon.  The house looked  beautiful; Mr. C cleaned  the screens and windows and the light flooded in; I tidied up everything I could think of, putting things back where they belonged or, better yet, getting oddments and endments out of sight.  Chuy came today and both Mr. C and I agree that we shouldn't have people in the house except on Tuesdays when she has made everything sparkle.

The visit was very informative and gave us a road map toward a successful sale.  The house is in a prime location, one block from the beach and two blocks from town. Apparently there are more buyers inquiring about propoerties "in town" rather than out in the colonia. So they are optimistic about our chances for selling. We have decided we will put it on the market next January (2014) as the sale season here is January - May.  We will sell the house fully furnished; chairs, tables, cushions, pots, pans, glassware, garden tools, sheets, towels, etc.  In the spring when we pack up and head home we'll take with us those precious goodies we want to have in the US, including art work, Mr. C's favorite Calphalon pot (!), those gorgeous rainbow plates I brought down some years ago, some books.  The rest we'll turn over to the new owners.  There are cosmetic repairs that Fernando needs to finish but we'll have him do them after we leave.  These repairs are simply the result of living in a climate with so much moisture in the air that everything gets corroded and cracked.

Tomorrow morning he'll show up early to repaint our bedroom.  I have never been thrilled with the aqua color I chose a few years ago.  It reminds me of the walls in a Mexican motel whose rooms are rented by the hour.  I picked a new color, perhaps a boring one, but I'll like it better.  Here's what it looks like now:

The new color is called Porcelain, a nice creamy shade.  It will lighten up the room and match the new bedspread.  Well, if I don't like it I'll just repaint.  I'll take some pix tomorrow and you can see the change.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

getting ready

There's a whole lot of hustle and bustle in the house this weekend.  Screens and windows getting washed, some cosmetic painting ~ a bit here, a bit there, just to make things look better ~ and the small bedroom downstairs cleaned out and set up as if for visitors.  Then the downstairs guest quarters tidied up and made ready for a real guest who will be arriving on Friday.  That would be daughter Alex who will spend a week with us.

The rest of the dusting and cleaning is in preparation for a couple of local real estate agents who will be coming to look at the house.  We have been thinking of putting the house on the market for at least a year so we are taking the first step.  We are not in a hurry, and are not going to sell it this season or perhaps even next, unless we get an offer we can't refuse.  But we do need to get serious about all of our Mexican real estate holdings ~ one house, one lot.  Not much.  But if you have property here you really need to be here to take care of it.  And it is a full-time job once you get here.  This means being present EVERY YEAR, despite having a caretaker.  That cuts down on travel anyplace else.  So if we sell here, we can always come down and rent for a few weeks.

I'll be interested in hearing what the agents have to say.  I'll pass it on, you can be sure.

Friday, February 8, 2013

the new gate

 The gate has been hung and painted and looks quite spiffy.  The whole thing makes the street look less like it's been abandoned.  Ours is the only house on the block.  There is a large vacant lot to the southeast, a walled-in vacant lot to the west, and only a small house on the corner to the north.  Now our lot at least looks cared for.  It is painted what we thought was the same color as our garage and front doors.  We ordered two liters of what we thought was the same color  but when Fernando opened the cans they contained two different shades.  So he just mixed them together and this is what we got.  It's a bit more red than the other doors but I like it better.  Of course we could never get that same shade again so I hope we don't ever need to repaint or touch up!

Opera tomorrow is Donizetti's Elisir d'Amore, live from the Met at noon, my time.  I am looking forward to my Dago's shrimp salad!

And speaking of shrimp,we made this delicious shrimp and pasta concoction for dinner Wednesday night.  We used an old recipe for clams but substituted shrimp since we can't get clams here.  It is loaded with garlic, red pepper flakes and roasted cherry tomatoes ~ also impossible to find but we came across these at WalMart up in Colima and paid a pretty peso for them.  Extremely yummy!

Monday, February 4, 2013

comida at El Barcel

We have started a mini-tradition of going down to Fernando's puesto on Sunday afternoon for a delicious comida of fish and a variety of other tasty treats.  I love fish and would eat it two or three times a week if Mr. C would agree, but he's more a meat-and-potato kind of guy although he's happy with pasta or other things.  The fish is always tender, sweet, succulent.  And Chuy is a wonderful cook.  We have decided, jointly, that it's the best fish restaurant ever, anywhere.  Let's share the glory; Dago does shrimp like nobody else and Fernando does filete de pargo like nobody else.

The bar at El Barcel

The kitchen

The view

The bocas

These are the traditional snacks in most of the restaurants here; jicama and cucumber sprinkled with tajine, a salt-lime-cayenne pepper mixture. But Fernando makes his own and it's much, much better.

el plato  

 Here's what we ate, from the top, clockwise:  guacamole, orange slice and cucumbers, waldorf-style salad, chicken salad, rice, steamed veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, chayote), and the beautiful, garlic-y fish filet.

I didn't go to tianguis today since I was getting ready for a domino group this afternoon. But last week, when I went with Carolyn, a previous resident who was visiting from the US, she took this great photo of the hat market along side the road.

All you cowboys and cowgirls, take note.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Happy 66th

I miss you every day.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Friday, February 1, 2013

at day's end

This is the time of year when we get the most spectacular sunsets.  It's a combination of the angle of the sun plus a scattering of clouds that blow up around 5 o'clock.  Every evening is yet another glorious show of color.  I'll check out the view from Dago's tonight.

The other news is that Fernando and his crew have finished (well, almost) the new wall and it looks quite good.  What's left is a bit more painting and the gate, which is being built by a local carpenter and may be ready as soon as Tuesday.

Tejas to go on little roof

Juan finishing the entry roof

Tejas completed

Almost finished
Toward the house

Tomorrow's opera is Rossini's Le Comte Ory, a delightful bel canto comedic piece with the incomperable Juan Diego Flórez in the title role. The Countess Adèle is being sung by a young South African soprano named Pretty Yende.  Hear them both in a rehearsal for this performance here. It might tempt you to tune in. I'll be front and center myself.