I’ve Been Remiss….. or … Dia de los Muertos

I’ve been away waaaay too long. Not sure why. Maybe I just lost my creativity for awhile…or maybe I just got too busy enjoying my new life in Mexico to write about it. I’ve taken lots of pictures of different events.

So. I guess I’ll have to start blogging about some of them.

I’ll start with Mexico’s celebration of Day of the Dead on November 1 and 2: Better known to the locals as

Dia de los Muertos.

On these days they celebrate the memories of their past family and ancestors. Some actually believe that on this day some may decide to come back to visit. Many people go to the graves of their family member(s); take with them some of their favorite foods and beverages. We have a friend here, Francisco, who takes the afternoon off from working, goes to his father’s grave with some tequila, sits and talks to his father and “shares” the tequila with him.

Actually, American-style Halloween has taken a tiny foothold here for the children. Basically they go to the expat’s homes usually by invitation and trick or treat for candy. Now that Ajijic has a Walmart, there are costumes galore for them to choose from. We had some children come from the complex where we live, but we also had some come from a futbol team whose coaches live across from us. Mike was totally in the spirit of the evening by dressing for the occasion. When they’d come to the door he would jump out of the guest room window from behind the bushes and try to scare them … didn’t work.

November 1 is the day for honoring children who have passed away. Parents go to the cemetery and leave a trail of candies and the child’s favorite things from their grave back to the house. This way, if they should return on that night, they will be able to find their way home.

November 2 we went to Chapala to walk down Calle Cinco de Mayo which had the most elaborate shrines and activities for Dia de los Muertos. Many of these shrines honored families and others where in remembrance of celebrities and dignitaries from Chapala area or Mexico in general.

You’ll notice the picture of the shrine to Cantinflas….there is more information on him at http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0134594/

Cantinflas - Mario Moreno Reyes

If you’re old enough you may remember seeing him in very old movies, most memorable to me is the original Around the World in 80 Days.

 All during this season you will see what are called Katrinas. These are sculpted skeletons, usually female, dressed up like real people. They come in all sizes…

teeny, like my little one for Boonie

and huge like the one in Chapala on the main crossroads into town,

and … ahem … living …

like this guy who talked, walked and generally scared the patootie out of some people. He was very interesting. I believe he was a living shrine to his grandfather.

And then we had the “walking dead”. All along Calle Cinco de Mayo  we met people dressed up as skeletons representing various specific people or even just groups of teenagers out enjoying the night.

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And then, of course, there’s the Girl and the Ghoul.

Hasta luego!

A Walk Through La Floresta

La Floresta is a neighborhood on the east side of the village of Ajijic. It is right next door to our little puebla of San Antonio Tlayacapan. Our neighborhood of Los Lirios is one long block from the eastern edge of LaFloresta.

Mike and I walk through here regularly on our morning walks. This post will just show you various homes and things we see on our walk. In subsequent posts I’ll discuss various choices of security and the various types of driveways.  Yep, I said it … “Driveways”.

One side of Camino Real

The main road through La Floresta is Camino Real and is an extension of Ramon Corona (our street in San Antonio Tlayacapan) to the east and Constitution in Ajijic to the west.

All of the streets are cobblestone and then they add speed bumps to rattle your teeth even more.

Most of Camino Real is a boulevard, with a large walled center section where one can walk, walk their dogs, or as you will see, post their horses for hire.

Walking path in the median

There are trees growing in the middle of the street, protected by a rock ring. Sidewalks wind their way around trees. Did I mention, it’s illegal to cut down a tree here without special permission from the municipality? In many cases you will find tree roots taking over where a wall lost it’s battle. Makes for interesting views.  If a tree has died and is not in danger of falling on anything, residents just plant a vine at the base and before you know it, you’ve got a lovely vine and flower covered dead tree.  Everything is lush…remember, springtime year around.  Many of these flowering plants have no dormant season.

Also, there is a yacht club and lakeside hotel in La Floresta too. There are $500,000 USD homes and homes for $150,000 USD. Large and small, well-kept and a little run down. Many of these homes are owned by wealthy Mexicans, some who live in Guadalajara and come down to lakeside for the weekends. There are also a couple of nursing and assisted living homes. One has a basset hound named Whiskey.

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Hope you enjoyed your walk through La Floresta with us. We certainly enjoy it. Almost every day.

San Antonio Tlayacapan

Our Little Village of San Antonio Tlayacapan

We try to walk every morning and have several routes to choose from. This post basically will have pictures of our walks through our little village of San Antonio Tlayacapan.

Mike usually walks in the street and I walk whenever possible on the sidewalk. I finally figured out that my small feet don’t work too well on the cobblestones in the streets. Mike’s big clod-hoppers work fine.

First of all, anywhere you are Lakeside you will see flowers … lots and lots of flowers. All colors. All shapes and all sizes. We also notice that most homes are behind a high wall or wrought-iron fence … sometimes very colorful or covered with vines. We see narrow cobblestone streets. Beautiful nice homes and a very crude fisherman’s hut. The malecon on the lake boasts beautiful views and a park and walking trail …  and it was a cloudy day when these pictures were taken in August, 2011.

There is the obligatory church and jardine (central garden square). The school, the bus that runs from Jocotepec to Chapala to Guadalajara and back.

There are all sorts of sights to see. This is where we live.  Just watch …. and enjoy. We do.

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Rodartes visit Lakeside

August 17, 2011

Each Sunday we head out about 9 AM northward toward Tlaquepaque to worship with the church of Christ in Tlaquepaque.

Because of the August rainy season, the church is meeting in the home of Jose Rodarte, their minister and missionary supported by Eastside Church of Christ in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Jose Rodarte

Tiny membership, during our first Sunday there were about 12-15 in attendance. There are about 4 men who conduct the service. Someday we will actually remember their names.

Thankfully, there is one young woman who speaks English very well and she was helpful with finding the songs. We don’t have our numbers down yet. Jose was gracious to have the 3 points of his sermon on the white board in both Spanish and in English for our benefit.   Kay is pleasantly surprised that she is understanding more than she thought, although not as much as she’d like. And since that first Sunday, he has provided us with his notes in English so we can follow along for the full 1 hour and 20 minute sermon. And, Trevor Rodarte has sat with us. Trevor is 11. Although we don’t communicate well, we manage to get the songs found with his help. He’s a very sweet young man. And he knows more English than he lets on.

Trevor Rodarte

The first Sunday, we can bearing gifts for Trevor, age 11, Cars II hotwheels, Eastside Youth Group T-shirt and sweatshirt. He immediately put on the sweatshirt — and it is AUGUST!!!

Nellie Galiana Rodarte

Nellie is age 3. Mike had bought a little sundress for Nellie with large pink and green tropical flowers on it. Kay knit a sweater and cap to match. Nellie was grinning in spite of being tremendously shy. Then the big gift for Nellie. A pink poodle with a purple and red dress and hat (see the family picture at the bottom). Now she was thrilled to see us. Maybe she won’t be so shy from now on.

Kay gave a Spanish language version of Focus on the Family’ The Truth Project to Jose and explained that this was a very very good teaching tool for those who might be skeptical about the “truth” of Christianity.

The following Sunday, Nellie shook Mike’s hand and he melted. He’s in love for sure. He told Kay later that if she’d sit in his lap or just give him a little kiss on the cheek he’d buy her anything she wanted. I don’t blame him. She’s a real charmer.  After we had unpacked more things, we brought some Veggie Tales movies for Trevor and Nellie and also Focus on the Family’s Froggy World DVDs.

We invited the Rodate’s to come visit our home in San Antonio Tlayacapan the next Wednesday. Mike wanted some input on the tiengue (open air market) and how to select a good papaya and mango and explain to us what some of the vegetables and fruits were that we did not recognize.

After the market we drove to the pier in Ajijic to show them the lake, the malecon and Vino Blanca.

Nellie and Vino Blanca

 After introductions to Vino Blanca we walked on the Malecon to a playground where Nellie and Trevor played for a while.

After about 1/2 hour of play we went back to our house, had some hamburgers and hot dogs, then Trevor, Nellie, Sophia and Kay went for a swim. Mike got in for awhile but spent most of the time talking with Jose. Nellie was very hesitant to get into the pool at first but after about 20 minutes we managed to get her into the little float ring Mike bought for her. We had a great time in the water for about an hour.

Later we said our goodbyes until the following Sunday. And Nellie has been friendlier each consecutive Sunday…and Mike likes that a lot.

Trevor, Pink Poodle, Jose, Sophia & Nellie

Setting up Our New Home

Saturday, July 30, 2011

After our much needed sleep, we woke up to a beautiful sunrise.

Not having any food in the house, we opted to go to Donas Donuts on the carreterra (main road through town). Donas is the Spanish word for Donuts, it’s not the owner’s name. We learned when we were here last year that this is the place the gringos go to “solve the worlds problems.” Most Saturday mornings it is packed, but this morning we got there before the crowd arrived. I was so hungry I got 2 glazed donuts and a cappuccino mocha grande and Mike had 2 cake donuts and a café Americano.  AFTER we sat down we discovered they serve a full el desayuno (breakfast). Oh well, next time.

We enjoyed our donas and took leave to go to Walmart for food supplies. While navigating the Walmart (very interesting how they “order” things), Mike pleasantly discovered that you can buy booze here. All kinds of wine and liquors. Then we find the ATM and stumble through to get pesos to pay for our purchases.

Back home, we decided to “tackle” setting up the house to feel more like home.  The following are pictures of our home after a couple of weeks. We added our own touches and moved some furniture around, but it is basically the way we found it when we arrived. Mark Eager, the owner, had added many beautiful touches since sending us the pictures many months ago.

In the Living Room

LR / DR / Kitchen, very open plan.

Terrace

The guest bedroom is on the main floor. This is where all our friends who come to visit will rest.

Upstairs

Master Suite includes office, W/I Closet and Full Bathroom

TV/Reading Corner

We moved our computer into the office and quickly set it up so we could contact our families. We moved the owner’s 32″ TV upstairs to the bedroom and set up our larger HDTV in the living room. We can watch the TV from the love seat and still have so much room to move around. Very nice shelves contain lovely vases and artifacts.

Office

The doors open to a small balcony that overlooks the privada (private street) entrance. The room is very spacious and one of the 1st things we noticed is that the ceiling fan is exactly like the ceiling fan we had in our house in Colorado Springs.

The hallway landing contains a large linen closet which holds extra towels, bedding and now houses our luggage.

Just past the linen closet on the other side of the landing into the bedroom that Mike’s sister, Bettye, will use when she arrives in September. Here we have another spacious room with a queen size bed, overstuffed chair, armoire, walk-in closet, private bathroom and a little private mirador. The large windows overlook the common area where the swimming pool, cabana and outside kitchen are.

Kay loves the headboard of carved lilies and the matching armoire. It makes this room look so comfortable and inviting. I’m sure Bettye will be quite at home in this room.

Now back out to the landing and up the final stairs to the mirador. This has become one of our favorite places. We can see the mountains to the north and a bit of the lake to the south. We can watch futbol games on the futbol field next door.

Looking east

Looking Southwest toward the lake

We were very comfortable very quickly in this beautiful home. And we just had to take a picture of our first home-cooked meal … eaten on the terrace.

Tomorrow we go to church in Tlaquepaque at Jose Rodarte’s home. We look forward to seeing Jose, Sophia, Trevor and Nellie. Mike is hoping Nellie will at least look at him this year.

 We’re bringing presents.

That should help some.

 So, until next time…Mike and Kay’s retirement continues…………………………

Dinner at Yves’

Later Friday evening, July 29, 2011

After leaving La Nueva Posada in great disappointment, we drove a few blocks west to the Ajijic malecon pier and stopped into Yves for dinner and our much desired margarita.

We met Yves and his wife, Nettie, last year while we were in Ajijic on vacation. Mike’s sister, Bettye, knew them when she lived here about 15 years ago.

We were very glad to arrive after finding a parking place near the busy malecon. Friday night in Ajijic was hopping. Just as we arrive, Yves is walking out of his restaurant. We speak and he personally makes sure we have one of the best tables … right on the rail with a clear view of Lake Chapala. After our experience at La Nueva Posada, we felt blessed. He hailed his best waiter and made sure we had everything we wanted. Yves is a very hospitable man.

Crane caught a fish

After ordering our much needed margaritas, we set out looking at the menu, which had changed a bit since last year. We ordered the guacamole for starters. After receiving our HUGE mound of silky guacamole, Mike ordered the Azteca Tortilla Soup and I ordered the nachos con pollo.

Now sitting back to relax, we viewed the scenery around us.

One of the first things we noticed was that Vino Blanca was there … and painted with purple for some reason.

Vino Blanca

Vino Blanca is pretty much the town pet. She has been featured on the internet and the man we knew as her owner, Poncho, was sitting in all his oddness at the table just behind Mike. He would charge $50 pesos for a 30 minute ride in her cart.

Vino Blanca 8/2010

Yves tells us later that Poncho could no longer take care of Vino Blanca and was looking for a new owner.

Pablo Loco, 8/2010

He was thinking of sending her to a farmer for $200 pesos, but ended up selling her to Yves for $1 peso, so now she lives right on the lakeside, eating “taco salad” and getting fat and lots of attention.

Yves told us that at first she wasn’t tethered and would pretty much just stay right around there, but one evening she wandered into a busy street and was hit by a car … thus the “ginger and violet” purple on her injuries. Thankfully her injuries were no more than a few scratches and bruises.

Our dinner arrives and we relish our delicious meal. In spite of the fact that Kay’s Nachos con Pollo had no pollo.

As the sun sets on the lake we realize just how tired we are and leave to head to our new home.

After arriving at #19, we drag our suitcases inside and up the stairs to the master bedroom.

Sunset from the Mirador

Kay hurries up another flight of stairs to the mirador to catch our first sunset in our new home.

Then we both crash, exhausted, in the wonderful king-size bed.

And tomorrow begins our first day as residents of San Antonio Tlayacapan, Jalisco, Mexico.

Mike and Kay’s retirement

to be continued.