Monday, December 30, 2013

still raining

It has now been raining for three days, not heavily but lightly and steadily.  Jack said 2 1/2 inches.  We can always "use" rain but it puts a "damper" on social activities such as walking anywhere.  But the zillion shades of green are truly dazzling.  Despite the rain we drove up to Colima yesterday to visit the BIG supermarket to get things like heavy cream, good butter and good olive oil.  In and out in less than an hour, although the round trip takes about 3 hours door to door.  And yes, it did rain on the way.  So we are not the only ones who are getting soaked.  We went down to Fernando's for comida and sat well back from the edge of the overhang.  Amazingly, there were quite a few people on the beach and in the water. 

We went to the tianguis this morning, mainly to buy the ingredients for Chuy's chiles rellenos for dinner on Wednesday night.  Also picked up some beautiful strawberries for ice cream!

Looking at last year's blog posts, it rained at this same time.  I guess this has become an annual thing.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

El Real in the rain

On Thursday afternoon the skies darkened to the shade of good grey flannel, the winds came up and, pretty soon, the rains were upon us.

It rained off and on all night, not heavily but I could hear it pattering in the fronds of the palm tree outside our window.  Friday dawned grey and damp.  We had made plans to go out to El Real for comida with two visitors from Milwaukee.  We decided that, what the heck, it's either lunch here or there and there seemed more interesting! 

Off we went to Costa Dorado, one of several very large, palapa-roofed restaurants along the beachfront in El Real.

The place probably holds 300 diners when full; it's absolutely enormous.

But yesterday, a wet, cloudy Friday, there were only about 20 people there, all clustered down at the very front looking out at the dark and choppy sea.

My restaurant review goes like this:  pretty setting, terrible food.  And it came highly recommended by Chuy.  We all agreed that a meal at Fernando's puesto was far, far superior, cheaper and much closer to home!   And no leftover shrimp for my opera salad; it's Tosca today.  It's still overcast and cool; soup perhaps. 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

the blackout Christmas

Yesterday afternoon we got a completely unexpected invitation to share Christmas dinner with two of our favorite gents. We were planning to have some leftovers along with the eggplant I bought on Monday. Nothing to rave about. They, on the other hand, had cooked a turkey and all the trimmings. How could we resist? I was planning to take along the trusty camera to record the event. Then I thought about available light. We'd been having outages and brownouts all day. By 6 PM electricity still hadn't come back on. With flashlights in hand we arrived at their lovely home, overlooking the sea, in time to watch yet another spectacular sunset. Mac lit a few candles and we sat down to a really wonderful meal, finished off by a delicious pecan pie. It's good to know men who cook (I happen to live with one)! At about 9 PM the lights came back on and we could enjoy their brilliantly lit Christmas tree. We left with full tummies and hearts.

Last year was the first Christmas here without my sandbox playmate who had died the previous August. Her daughter and son-in-law were here then to close up the house, take care of all her possessions and scatter her ashes. It all went by in a blur. This year is different. There are no distractions, no tasks to perform, nothing to keep my attention focused somewhere else. I miss her very much, more this year than last. I had the same reaction when my sister died; the second Christmas was much harder. The phone call and invite were just what I needed to add some merriment to the day.

 Thank you, Mac and Juan.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Shepherd by Frederick Forsythe

We used to listen to this beautiful reading every Christmas Eve via our shortwave radio.  Now we can listen, courtesy of YouTube.  It's our Christmas Eve gift to everyone.  Enjoy Alan Maitland, one of the CBC radio's great voices.

The Shepherd by Frederick Forsythe

Monday, December 23, 2013

Monday's harvest

No problem with the keys today.  Off we went this morning to the tianguis, list in hand.  Managed to find everything we wanted, which wasn't much because we had been in the super mercados.

Our usual vendor had Roma tomatoes for 15 pesos a kilo or about 50¢ a pound.  It's true that they are not juicy and flavorful but they make dynamite sauce.

Down at the end of the walkway was this pile of clementinas, juicy as all get-out but also loaded with seeds.

Gorgeous radishes for your Christmas posole.

For dessert or to throw on the grill or to put into a salad, your sweet, juicy Christmas piña.

And finally, to amuse the children who will be guests at your Christmas party while you toss back the odd margarita, a piñata to stuff with candies and other treats.


Saturday, December 21, 2013

nut harvest

The above title has more than one meaning.  First, Fernando and his son were up in the coconut palms harvesting both fronds (for palapas and coconuts for the putesto.  But second, he's really to old to be climbing 20+ feet up a ladder for this.  Get the guy with the dog who does it barefooted and carries his machete in his mouth!

We took a little recon trip this morning, out to Boca de Pasquales and El Real, scouting the perfect restaurant.  We've been invited out for a meal at a spot of our choosing.  We don't want to go into Manzanillo, Tecoman is kind of boring, so we thought a seaside place (with a real roof and floor, i.e. not a puesto) might be nice.  Boca de Pascuales is a very popular surfing spot and has one very popular eating place, Las Hamacas.  It's a huge, 2-level place that seats 1000 happy eaters.  We've been there once and although we remember that the food was excellent it's just too big.

So we drove over to El Real, a lovely oceanfront town about 2 miles south of Boca.  Its sea front has probably a dozen very nice looking restaurants, all open to the sea, most with palapa roofs.  We were actually looking for a certain one, El Oasis, that we've been to a few times.  It's at the far south end of the town and, unfortunately, appears to have fallen on evil days.  I remember it having the most beautiful palapa I had ever seen, wikth little dormer windows woven along the top to circulate the sea breezes.  But now the tables and chairs are all beat up, there was nobody in the kitchen although a shirtless gent assured me they'd be open in about 15 minutes.  If we go to El Real, we'll drive by but probably move on to another place.  El Real itself looks very prosperous although there are many SE VENDE signs on houses along the ocean front.  Its main problem is that the whole town floods almost yearly during particularly high tides.

Last night's dinner at Dago's was not the best I've had.  He wasn't there doing the cooking.  The shrimp was tough and so salty I almost didn't eat it.  And we were the only gringos there except for one of the J Boys (Jeff).    I brought the leftovers home and they had a good washing before joining the salad mix at noon.  Still way, way too salty.  I seem to remember this happening last year and I subsequently requested no salt and things got better.  I'll do that next time.  I don't know if folks are deserting Dago for another Friday place; I'll ask around.

Friday, December 20, 2013


On Wednesday we took off early for Tecoman to take care of several bits of business.  First stop was at the bank to pay our annual bank trust fee.  This year it took only two employees (one who knew what to do, one who didn't) and 30 minutes and we were out the door, paid up for another year.  Next we went to the bacon/cheese shop for some Mexican cheddar (white and mild) and yummy bacon.  To a different bank for a wad of pesos.  Since I missed Monday's tinaguis in Armeria because of the lost keys saga, we stopped in at the Tecoman offering instead, bought a few veggies and some fruit, then headed for the Bodega supermercado for the things we had forgotten on our first trip.

Among the things on the "to buy" list were lightbulbs.  Since these will disappear from the shelves in another couple of weeks here as well as in the US, we bought all they had on the shelf ~ seven 60W bulbs.  Nothing higher and no 3-way.  All gone.  Hoarded by people like us who HATE those curly things.  Thanks a lot, Congress.  We now have enough to get us through this season, I hope, providing they don't salt up and blow out.

Dago's tonight for our usual dinner with the local crowd.  And tomorrow will be my first opera, A Midsummer Night's Dream.  The season has officially begun!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

the tropical malaise

Just as they always do, the tropical blahs came on me this morning.  I'm usually OK for the first 48 hours, then I get so tired I can hardly stand up.  All I want to do is sleep.  So I did, most of today.  Chuy came and got the house all tidied up for the next few days.  Santorini, the water company, delivered two big garaphons of drinking water, so they know we're back.  Beer guy won't come until Friday.  I spent the afternoon in a rotation of dozing and listening to my book.  By 6 PM I had finished the book and had had several hours of restorative sleep.  It's hot and humid and I just don't feel like doing anything.

If you've ever lived in Berkeley or Oakland, this book will bring you home.  Marvelous, clever, inventive, thought- provoking, hilariously funny, unspeakably sad.  I loved it.  Next book is Kate Atkinson's newest, "Life After Life."  NOT about Jackson Brodie.  I'll report.

Right now, at 8 PM, it's time to sleep some more.  Tomorrow is going to be a busy day.

Monday, December 16, 2013

it's always interesting around here

Since it's Monday, that means tinguis, except today.  I was up, (cold) showered, dressed and ready to go at 9 am.  However, Mr. C had misplaced the car keys and we weren't going anywhere.  It took an hour to find them. Where were they, you might well ask?

 On top of the bedspread but, since they are the same color, almost invisible.

 Meanwhile, a technician from Global Gas arrived to check out the connections and gauges for the gas tanks.  No problem there; it's in the lines.  Just as he left, Elias showed up ~ we weren't expecting him until 4 PM this afternoon ~ and started chipping away at yet more cement to get at the copper piping.  All in all, it was a good thing we were here, even though we are without any fruits or veggies.  But we don't have any gas to cook anything, either.

 Tomorrow we have to go to Tecoman to pay our trust bill after which we'll head up to Colima to the big supermarket.  Or not, depending on how long it takes at the bank.  We go through this every year; nobody has ever seen this transaction before and the whole banking staff has to gather around the window to watch.

Mr. C went downstairs to fetch some things to bring up and found a 3' snake in the guest room closet.  It was stretched lazily across the clothes rod.  Yikes!  Mr. C took down the slider's screen door and propped it up over the closet opening to keep the little fellow from fleeing and hiding someplace else.  He is now standing guard outside the bedroom door so it doesn't get out until Fernando can get here and dispatch it somehow.  I'll try to get a photo of it.  I don't think I've ever seen anything more than a tiny garden snake so I have no idea what it is, where it came from or how it got into the house.  And to think!  I was going to go down and get a blouse out of the closet this morning!

With Mr. C waiting on the side, three great brown hunters ~ Fernando, Elias and a third intrepid chap ~ went into the closet, found the snake and did what they had to do.  It's called a culebra ratonera,  rat snake.  Not venomous but not cute, either.

I think we're going to have gas.  Hot water.  Hot food.  All is good here at the beach.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

sun up to sun down

Sunrise somewhere between Sacramento and Los Angeles, courtesy of Southwest Airlines.  The van picked us up at 3:45.  Classes are out at the big U so there were students as our co-passengers, on their way home for the holidays.  They included one young man who stumbled into the van, trailing great clouds of alcohol, presumably as a result of his end-of-term celebrations.  He promptly fell asleep.  We checked ALL our luggage (four pieces) FREE.  Bumpy but beautiful (see above). Then over to Alaska for the flight to Manzanillo.  When we boarded in Sac the temperature was 41º.  When we landed here it was 84º.  I like this better.

 Just a couple of glitches when we got home.  First, no gas so no hot water and no cooking.  Unfortunately it may be a break in the line but that's to worry about another day.   A nice cold shower is good for the soul.  Second, a HUGE spider on the kitchen wall which, this morning, has disappeared and I'll probably find it on the plates when I open the cupboard (I'm waiting a few days1).  A few light bulbs blown, some salted-up in the sockets, no toilet paper.  Otherwise, all was prepared for our arrival.  Chuy had made her world-class chiles rellenos, there was indeed lots of cold beer in the fridge.  It's good to be here.

Here's our first sunset of the season.  And there will be many, many more. 

Today it's off to Tecoman and La Bodega for a car-load of supplies!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Thanksgiving and so on

Let me just say right off that yes, I have been neglectful to a serious fault, since putting up my pix of "the boys" almost three weeks ago.  I took many photos during our Bozeman sojourn but, alas, they are on the "big" iMac and I am using the Air®.  The big computer is all packed away because we leave TOMORROW for the beach house.  I think the photos may still be on the camera (also packed) so when we finally get settled I'll check that out.

Meanwhile, I'm happy to report that we had a wonderful visit with family and friends.  NPW in UK:  everyone did his/her baking as promised.  NN:  the Hutterite turkey did not disappoint.  The weather was gorgeous; bright and sunny every day although very cold.  Nights clear and very chilly.  I saw several deer, including a young doe who picked her way delicately across the meadow in the snow.  We saw lots of deer tracks on our walks.  The dogs love rolling in the snow; canine snow angles.

On Cait's advice we decided to leave a day early.  Saturday flights were jammed.  So we packed up and went to the airport early Friday morning but, alas, we didn't make it onto the plane.  A quick check showed there were 15 open seats on a 1 PM flight to SLC out of Butte.  Alex drove us up, we bid good-bye and checked in.  When I inquired I was told that several others were waiting for a non-rev spot on the flight; there were not enough seats on an earlier  plane so just have a seat and see what happens.  We did and here's what happened.  The plane arrived from SLC, the passengers got off, and about 20 minutes later an announcement said that our flight had been cancelled due to mechanical problems.  Now what?  We decided to spend the night in Butte and try to get out early the next morning.  I called Cait and reported this; she did a quick flight check and reporter there were absolutely NO seats Saturday or Sunday out of Butte. 

So Alex, now half way back to Bozeman made a big U-turn and  came back for us.  We decided then  go to the Bozeman airport and rent a car and drive to Salt Lake (the car rental in Butte would not rent us a car we could drop in SL).  At 7 am on Saturday we headed off for SLC, 400 miles away and we had to get the car checked in by 2:50 PM or pay for another day.  At 80-MPH, the speed limit in Utah, we made it by 2 PM on the dot.  We checked into a hotel for the night and were at the airport on Sunday morning by 7 am hoping to get on an 8:30 flight.  There was one seat left, which I took, and was home at 9:30 (one hour time change).  Mr. C got on the 11 am flight and was home by 12:30.  Meanwhile, as I backed the car out of the garage to head off to the airport I cut it a little close and ripped off the right side mirror.  Frazzled, to say the least, i picked up the weary traveler who asked what had happened.  I think I replied in a too-loud voice, "Don't ask!  Just get in."  He drove home.

The last two weeks have been spent getting ready to head south tomorrow morning.  Haircut, pedicure, packing, cleaning the house for guests.  We are NOT driving this year.  We'll fly to Los Angeles at 6 am tomorrow morning ~ the shuttle picks us up at 3:45 am ~ then on out of LA to Manzanillo at 10:30.  Fernando will  pick us up at 4 pm (Central time).  Chuy will have our chiles rellenos picadillo ready and waiting along with a nice cold Indio to wash it all down.  The temperature is forecast at 87º!

So will begin our 12th season.  I'll let you know how it all goes.