Sunday, March 31, 2013

saturday scenes

Happy Easter to one and all!  Here are some notable scenes from yesterday's revelers.

Yesterday morning this little truck pulled up and unloaded its cargo.

Several hours later the driver returned and loaded it  up again.  This was the cargo.

Finally, everyone was in and they were off!  The final count was 4 adults in the cab and 12 kids of assorted ages in the back.   NOTE:  It is said that on the test for a Mexican driver's license there is the following question:  How many persons may you legally transport in the open bed of a truck:  (1) 5; (2) 3;  (3) 2;  (4) None.  According to Fernando, most people think the answer is more like 8 or 10!

I hope they had a wonderful day at the beach, all 16 of them, and that they got home safely!

Another interesting conveyance was this old Tecate® beer truck that had been converted to a rolling motel.  

The solid roof had been removed in favor of open air roof that was covered by a tarp at night.  I don't know how many people were living in it over the two or three days it was parked across the street, but furniture was moved in and out, food was prepared next to it and handed into the back.  Then yesterday it was packed up and away it rolled.  Again, hope whoever was in it had a fine time.  I must say that the weather has been cooperating perfectly; sunny, clear, breezy, not at all humid.

More of the same today.  I had a quiet night at Patty's.  Mr. C reports that the disco finally shut down sometime after 4 AM.  I don't know it it's going to crank up tonight but if so I'll go to Patty's again.  Meanwhile, we'll go to Fernando's for an Easter comida this afternoon and, if I can get the car out of the garage and make my way through the traffic I'll go play dominoes this afternoon with Charlotte.

This second week of holiday, known as Pasqua (as opposed to the first week, Semana Santa) is usually much quieter with no disco and smaller crowds.  We'll be spending most of our time packing up the house in preparation for our departure three weeks from today.  I don't even want to think about it . . .

Saturday, March 30, 2013

good Good Friday

Early last evening I decided to walk down to Dago's to get my shrimp dinner and bring it home rather than stay there.  Wow!  There must have been 100 people in his puesto, both down at the shore and in the upper restaurant.  The place was in full "feed the multitudes" frenzy, so I turned around and went to Fernando's.  There were probably 150 people there, too, but he has twice as much space and it runs like a smoothly oiled machine.  So I ordered my dinner and sat surveying the scene while nursing a very cold Victoria beer.  The proprietor came over to chat; he's been doing a very brisk business during this holiday week and was very happy.

After dinner, Mr. C. drove me down to Patty's and this time the gate was unlocked and I got in without any problem.  She and I sat up in her mirador at the edge of her garden and watched the sunset and the goings-on among the campers along the shore.  It was a beautiful, warm night and a real pleasure to sit and chat with her.  We don't see her nearly enough.  i finally turned in about 10 PM and slept, undisturbed, until almost 8 AM this morning.  I had deliberately stayed awake all day yesterday on my pitiful 3 hours of sleep so I would conk out easily last night.

This is the beach view of early morning beach walkers from her mirador.  Not too shabby!

Early morning walkers

Looking north
And here's a shot of Patty's lovely garden.

We've been to some really fine parties held in this lovely home.

I get to go back here tonight.  Oh, lucky me!

Friday, March 29, 2013

where is everyone?

These are views from our front balcony at 10 AM yesterday morning.  Very unusual for the Thursday morning before Easter.  Usually when we go to bed on Wednesday night the place is deserted, but in the morning the little lot across the street is crowded with tents and the streets jammed with cars.  Not so this year.  Here's last year; you can see what I mean.

Much doom-saying by such as Jack, that it's going to be a bad season for the puesto owners who make the majority of their money during these 10 days.  In fact, I went down to Fernando's for lunch (delicious shrimp taco and cold, cold beer) just to be sure he at least made 45 pesos!

However, by 2 o'clock, things were looking up (for them-not us!).  But still not as crowded as last year.

Still no tents, but lots of cars, and it got worse as the day went on.  I went down to Charlotte's for dominoes and when I came back the streets were so clogged I could barely get through.  Before the music cranked up for the night I headed down to Patty's where I had been invited to sleep only to find that the key she had given me wouldn't let me in.  So home I came and lived through the first night of the full-blown disco.  The music was so loud that the vibrations set off our car alarm warning beeps. It finally quit at 3:45 AM only to be followed by a half hour of a brass band either practicing, winding down, or playing for a party at the end of the street.  They finally got tired and quit.  At 7 AM this morning some joker turned on a car stereo and I was awakened by really bad ranchero music at full volume.   But, hey!  Only three more nights, and I AM going to Patty's tonight and she'll be home to let me in!

The opera tomorrow is La Traviata with Diana Damreau as Violetta and Placido Domingo, a tenor turned barritone for this role, as her nemesis, Germont.  I hope the disco will put a lid on it long enough for me to listen.  I will probably go down to Dago's tonight so I can have my "Opera Salad" tomorrow, but I'll check the crowd level beforehand.  Mr. C is a bit under  the weather with a bit of the jippy tummy so he'll stay home and sip broth or some other exotic dish. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

lunch in Suchitlán

Before I detail our delightful (and delicious) lunch up in Suchitlán last Thursday, let me note for future reference that one of the "music" venues has opened up this afternoon.  There will be three such spots at our end of the malecon;  the disco, a botanero next door to it that is featuring "music", and El Faro, a restaurant of sorts that's right next door to that and has its own sound system.  So we will have three separate enterprises playing three separate turntables to give us three separate blasts.  I think it's El Faro that's up and running right now.  As I write this the house is shaking with the force of the bass.  Lovely.

We drove up to this charming village at the foot of the volcanoes to enjoy a splendid lunch at Los Portales, our favorite restaurant in an old coffee plantation.  We went with Frans and Aline, friends who live here.

Aline is French Canadian, Frans is Dutch,  It all makes for fascinating conversation held in a potpourri if accents.  I had my usual ~ birria ~ as did both F and A.  Mr. C opted for chili relleno picadillo which he pronounced good but nowhere near Chuy's 5-star!  The town was quiet and almost deserted and we had a pleasant stroll around the traditional jardin.

We got back home about 5 o'clock after a really lovely day.  On the way out of town we passed another restaurant none of us has been to and declared we'd do lunch again next year at that new spot.

Meanwhile, read this book.  Save Kleenex® for end.  Brilliant.

ready for the closeup

Yesterday afternoon the realtor came to take pictures of the house for an eventual posting.  In preparation for this scrutiny we spent all morning stuffing things in cupboards and drawers.  Tuesday is Chuy's day to clean so, with all three of us focusing on spic'ing and span'ing the place, it looked quite presentable.  Now if we could just keep it like that.

The Easter crazies are about to begin.  Oh goodie.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

early morning visitors

This mom and her two kids come down to our neighborhood every morning for a look around.  The pups are about three months old.  While the mom takes a rest the pups play in the field next to our house, explore the garbage cans and have a generally good time.  We don't know who they belong to but they look well fed and healthy.  After about an hour, mom has had enough and the three of them turn around and walk back to wherever they came from.  Dog business.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

it's all about the car

Fernando checked with Don Elias who assure him that the car would be ready on Wednesday morning at 9 AM.  So the Che-RO-kee was in front of the house at that hour and we drove off to Tecoman, hopes high, to get the car.  Lo and behold, it was ready, golpes gone, new paint job, clean as a whistle.  That was step one in the great car sage.

Step two was today.  We drove up to Colima to the Toyota agency for a 45,000 mile check.  I had called for a sita and had been given 9:15 as the appointment time.  We arrived, got checked in, and when asked for a taxi to take us in to town, were told that the agency offered taxi service and if we would wait about 20 minutes the driver would take us wherever we wanted to go.  So we cooled our heels in the v. plush waiting room and soon were summoned to a Toyota Highlander for a quick trip into downtown Colima.  We walked the portales, then went over to Los Naranjos (the Orange Trees) restaurant for a tasty breakfast of chilequiles con queso fonda for Mr. C and just plain old huevos revueltos a la Mexicana for me.  Then we started walking, looking for a museum we had been to in the past that was filled with interesting paintings.  We didn't find it.  Instead, we found one focused on folk art that was quite wonderful and I'm glad we went there.

By now it was 12:30 and time to go back to the Toyota agency.  First we stopped at the tourist office to get a map of all the museums in Colima to see where we went wrong in our search for the place we were actually looking for.  We found it on the map; we had missed it by about one block!  We  got a cab and returned to pick up the car.  Yes, it was ready and ended up costing us less than we had originally thought. We drove up to the local WalMart, did a bit of shopping and headed home. It was an all-around successful day.

Tomorrow we go up to Manzanillo to pick up our new immigration identification papers. This is where the car issue gets really sticky. When we arrived in Mexico in December, our car permit was legal, based on our FM3 status. The FM3 was legal until March 18. (The car status is tied to the FM3 status.) However, the Mexican government, in its wisdom, had dispensed with the FM3 designation and people who have had an FM3 for at least four years are bumped up into a category called Permanent. Now here's where the Catch 22 comes in. Persons in the Permanent category are not allowed to drive foreign-plated cars. That would be us, with a California-plated car. So we came in legal but, as on next Monday, are driving an illegal car. You can "nationalize" your foreign-plated car but, if you do so, you cannot take said car into the US. What to do, what to do? There is NO grace period for said cars belonging to foreigners who are not in this country permanently. We originally got an FM3 because we own property here and you get a break on capital gains when you sell. The FM3 suited us perfectly; you were allowed to bring in a car AND goods to support a private household (some furniture, sheets, towels, etc. that you would use in your home) without paying duty. No longer. So between tomorrow and next Monday we are presuming our car will still be legal since it's "importation" date in March 18. After that we are driving an illegal car. I am going to be completely paranoid until we cross the border into Arizona.

As a result of this unanticipated turn of events we are going to head home early, leaving here probably on April 21. I am just hoping that, if we get stopped on our way north we can argue that we're heading for the frontera to get our car out of Mexico. The cost of nationalizing our car would be, according to a quote I got, $11,000 USD. No thanks. So we will just drive the car as little as possible and hope that what the legislature in Mexico City has dreamed up has not filtered down to the cop on the beat.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Don Elias

Don Elias is the owner of the car repair place where we have the van lodged.  The repairs ~ totally cosmetic ~ were to be finished on Monday.  Fernando drove us over to his shop Monday afternoon at Don Elias's assurance the car would be ready by 5 PM.  Fernando showed up in his Cherokee (pronounced cher-O-kee) on time to take us over to Tecoman.  The car, alas, was not ready.  "Mañana," said Don Elias with a smile and reassuring nod.

Today I went down to play dominoes at 2 PM and segued into the botanero at 5 PM while Mr. C waited for Fernando's signal that all was ready.  However, Don Elias reported that things were not quite ready but would be so tomorrow, Wednesday, and we should come back at 9 AM.  We wojuld not be so eager to get this done except that we must take the car to Colima for its 45,000 mile check up at the Toyota shop and  to immigration to finish our business there.  If the is car ready tomorrow we'll do Colima Thursday and Manzanillo on Friday.

What one learns living here is the art and necessity of patience.  Don't ever think that mañana really means "tomorrow."  It really means sometime after right now, perhaps the next day, or sometime in the near future.  Or not.  I love it.  Unless, of course, your water pump isn't working or the toilet is overflowing all over everything, or the 'fridge is thawing at an alarming rate.  Then mañana better mean "right now and no fooling around with this 'later' stuff. " And sometimes it does.

We'll be ready by 9 o'clock when Fernando has said he'll be here to pick us up in the Cher-O-Kee to drive us to Don Elias's shop.  Let's hope there are no more mañanas  because we don't have many more days to waste.

Monday, March 11, 2013

biblioteca Las Palmas

This is a photo of the front of our little library.  The gringo portion is on the right side, behind the palm.  Today was a work day to get ready for the installation of our new wooden shelving.

This old wooden shelf will be moved and the new shelves go in its place

We took all the books off of this tall shelf and two smaller shelves and piled them up on the other side of the room to leave lots of space for our new units.  This wooden shelf stays although it will be repositioned.  The new shelving will take the place of this one and the old metal book case to its right.

After moving all the books, we swept the floor and left it ready and clean for the new furniture.

New shelving goes here

Tomorrow Bob and Roger will assemble the shelves in the library room and  Wednesday afternoon the bibliophiles will return to reshelve and PURGE the books that, over time, have been infested with termites, gotten water damage, been nibbled on by any variety of insect, or are the second or third copies.   We'll probably actually have extra room!

Last night's excitement included a blackout at about 8:30, just as we're getting ready to have a little supper.  We scurried around to light candles all over the living room and it actually looked quite pretty.

It was very, very dark with no moonlight and a cloud cover so no stars.  We looked out toward town; pitch black.  Just as we're settling in for a romantic candlelight supper a deux, on come the lights.  What a shock after such soft, flickering light.  Nobody knows what happened to send the whole town into the dark; downed lines?  sabotage?  Probably an iguana chewed through something.  There have been a couple of very brief outages today, too.  But we'll be prepared if it happens again tonight.

Friday, March 8, 2013

a very quiet week

It's been a very quiet week here in the Mexican tropics.  We took our car in for a spa week last Friday so have been keeping very local.  The van needed to have a few nicks and scrapes repainted and repaired and it's a whole lot cheaper to do it here than at home.  Mr. C has spent his time puttering in his garden, checking on the progress of his Mexican Sunflower and tomato plants.

 He has a lot better luck growing them in pots than in the ground.  They are so bright and cheerful.  He planted several tomato plants but only two came up and one of them isn't looking so hot.  But this one, now about 4' tall,  is a cherry tomato with, so far, 5 little fruits that just may survive and ripen.

Monday I went to the tiangues with Mrs. Neighbor Nelson.  The mangoes were again in great, golden piles and I bought several.

They are as sweet as can be, deliciously firm, the perfect texture for Mango Chutney.  Among the other treats were these beautiful berenjenas, each carefully wrapped and displayed.  I bought a small one to make a tian with zucchini, onions and tomatoes.  Probably tomorrow night.

 A big box of beautiful, not-too-ripe bananas was selling for 2 pesos each.  Couldn't resist.

I've been swimming every morning around 11 am when it's not too hot.  Pool is a perfect 84º.  Then lunch.  Then an afternoon of quiet reading (just finished The Master Butchers Singing Club by Louise Erdrich and am now deep into Blood, Bones & Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton) and napping.  It's sort of nice not having a car and being tempted to tear off somewhere.  Instead, if we want/need anything we stroll up to one of the little markets in town and make do with what we can find.

We think the car will be ready tomorrow but, if not, by Monday.  That afternoon I am going over to the local gringo library, Biblioteca Las Palmas to clear off some old, badly rusted metal shelves to make room for nice, new wooden ones built by a couple of the local gents who (got) volunteered for the job.  Tuesday the two of them with help from others will assemble  the shelves in the library space, and Wednesday all us bibliophiles will return to  restock the shelves and clean up the place.  This little library is such a great resource for all to use without cost or much oversight.  It's all on the honor system and, after almost ten years, it's still going strong.

Opera tomorrow is Verdi's Don Carlo with Ramon Vargas in the title role.  It starts at 11 AM in New York, 10 AM here, and 8 AM on the West Coast.  That's w-a-a-a-y to early for opera, but I have my opera shrimp from tonight's Dago dinner just in case I decide to tune in.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

not your usual house pet

This youngster has taken up residence in the new tejas roof over the entry to the lot next door.   But the real reason I took this picture was to illustrate the fantastic power of the zoom lens on my new Lumix camera.  He's actually about 50' away.