Just another average sunset in paradise!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

News from Aticama

I got a great email today from a couple of followers who winter in San Blas/Aticama!  Sharon and Gene travel all the way from Canada to San Blas each year and we met last winter at El Chaco RV park.  They are the couple who first introduced me to Sara. They attended a Thanksgiving party in Aticama and both of my dogs crashed the party.  They reported that both dogs seem happy and healthy and are being well cared for by my friends and neighbors.

I hope to be sharing time with my dogs and friends soon.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The countdown begins

With surgery behind me I have made plans for my return to Aticama!  I had several choices including flying from Tijuana to either Guadalajara or Puerto Vallarta.  In both cases I would need to take a bus back to Aticama.  When I first started checking into air fares flights were available for around $100.  but have now risen to nearly $200.  The good thing about flying is that I could be in Aticama in time for New Years.  The downside is that after airfare, bus fare and hotel expenses, I would be out about $350.

A second alternative came in the form of an invitation to join some friends in their RV for the entire trip to Aticama.  I met Brett, Sharon, Bob and Gloria at El Chaco RV park last winter.  Both couples have large motor homes and caravaned to Mexico all the way from British Colombia  This year Brett and Sharon are bringing their motor home and Bob and Gloria are caravaning with them in a car.

A winter bar-b-que at Hill Top House

As of today,  I have a doctor's appointment on the 2nd and then on the 3rd, my brother and I will drive to Laughlin, NV and meet up with Brett and Bob in Needles.  We will then proceed south to Aticama with a few stops along the way.

Monday, December 17, 2012

What do I miss most?

The sea!

One of my favorite songs is "Cool Change" by the Little River Band.  Following is the first stanza of that song:

If there's one thing in my life that's missing,
It's the time that I spend alone,
Sailing on the cool and bright clear water.

There really is something special being out in the middle of the ocean with the wind and the waves providing the only sounds.  It is really not all that different from sitting on the patio at the house in Aticama.  The surf and almost constant breezes combine to provide a gentle symphony 24 hours a day.  Depending on the season, the rain will join in with a gentle percussion accompaniment.

This symphony includes a great view, fresh air and a feeling of serenity.  I spend 3 or 4 hours each day just sitting there and letting my senses absorb the beauty that surrounds me.

Is it just me or do you think I may be a little bit homesick?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A vacation from vacation?

Living in Aticama is like being on a permanent vacation.  While I spend my days in the house and on the patio, each night I sleep in Dod to escape the mosquitoes and jejenes that are sometimes annoying.  This is really not much different from the time I spent on the road in Dod spending the days outside and the nights inside.

I now consider Aticama to be my permanent residence so traveling North to Bakersfield is like a vacation.  My brother Rick and his wife Karen certainly make it seem that way as they try to discourage me from doing any type of work while I am here.  Like a typical vacation, the food is great, the company wonderful and there are many things to do that are not available in Aticama.

Just like my actual vacations in the past, I will be sad for this one to end but I know it must.  Hopefully in the future I will be able to plan my vacations here just for enjoyment and not medical reasons!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Fast Recovery

When I first noticed that the bump on my head was growing, I went into Santa Cruz to visit Doc Eladio.  Eladio owns the pharmacy and internet cafe in Santa Cruz.  I met him several months ago and we became friends quickly.  After looking at the bump and squeezing it (way too hard for my liking), he said I should watch it for a few weeks and if there was no improvement I should go directly to the U.S.  No improvement occurred so I headed North.

The lump, at its largest, was only about 1 1/4" across and about 1/2" thick.  It also had a hole in the middle which went all the way down to the skull.  I took pictures of it but decided not to save it!  It was pretty gross.

Today is the 5th day after surgery and following doctor's orders, I removed the dressings.  I was totally surprised to see the length of the incision and the 60+ staples used to close it.  The doc who did this is a plastic surgeon so hopefully the scars will subside over time.

I can't wait to see my new hairline after all the twisting and stretching!

While I don't normally wear a hat, I think I will need to decide on some type of head-wear for the foreseeable future.  I can't decide between a hat or a bandanna.  Any suggestions?

The pain following surgery was some of the worst I have felt in my  life,  but after just 5 days it has diminished drastically and I have gone 24 hours without pain medication.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Missing my dogs

Sarah has been with me for almost a year now and one month before I left Aticama, Lobo showed up.  Lobo and Sarah make a great pair and provide me with hours of entertainment and companionship.  They compete for my affection and any time one of them comes over to me for a pet, the other's head is sure to be right there.

Lobo was never very far away from me and he even slept under Dod at night and was right there to greet me each morning.  When I left for Bakersfield I made arrangements for a friend to feed them daily but without me there they apparently changed their habits.  Lobo decided to go on the road and was missing for two weeks.  He finally surfaced in La Palma (a small village about 2 miles northeast of Aticama) and a friend noticed him there and brought him back up the hill.  Sarah, who had always been very timid (almost afraid) of other dogs attached a German shepherd and lost, exiting with a large puncture wound on her shoulder.

Sarah on the day we met!

Now both dogs are hanging out with my neighbors on the hill.  Inland from the house on the hill is an arroyo about 100 yards across.  There are several homes on the hill across the arroyo and a majority are inhabited by Americans and Canadians.  Before Lobo arrived, Sarah would take a morning hike and visit most of the houses around the area to say hi to her dog friends and beg for treats from the neighbors so everyone is familiar with her.  Lobo would hang our with me but after I left, Lobo joined her on her morning walks and became a welcome visitor at many homes.

Thanks to my neighbors I get regular reports on the dogs and am happy to report that they have settled into a routine now and are staying close.  I am really looking forward to our reunion in a couple of weeks.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Surgery Successful!

I came north to Bakersfield in late September to have a growth removed from the top of my head.  Being an optimist, I firgured that it could be accomplished in a few weeks and that I would be home for Christmas.  That plan did not even come close.

My only health insurance is Medicare backed up by Medical and it took 9 weeks to go through all the channels and get approval for surgery.  I would provide details but it makes my head hurt just to think about it!

I am happy to report that the surgery was successful and 72 hours later the pain is subsiding.  Even though the growth was only about the size of a golf ball cut in half, the surgeon had to make several long incisions in order to be able to stretch the skin to cover the space where the scalp had to be removed.

More good news is that two of my Canadian friends are heading south to Aticama shortly after Christmas and have invited me to ride down with them.  Now I can spend Christmas with my brother and his family and be in Aticama in time for New Years.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Christmas comes early in Bakersfield

First, I want to apologize for ignoring my blog for such a long time.  I don't know what caused me to stop posting but I will try to do better.

When I arrived in Bakersfield in late September my plan was to have a growth removed from the top of my head and return to Aticama.  Since this would mean that I would not be in Bakersfield for Christmas, my brother Rick and his wife Karen decided that I should receive my gifts in October.  Actually, the gifts started the moment I walked in the door.  The kitchen counter had been redecorated with 5 big bottles of my favorite scotch:  J & B.  The only thing I could think of to say was: "I like what you have done with the place!"

The gifts started with two great pairs of flip-flops as they are the only footwear I use.  The big Christmas gift was a new laptop computer to replace the one that was stolen in Aticama.  I shopped and researched for almost a month before deciding on the Lenovo.  I had never heard of this brand before  but in a Google search for "Top Ten Laptops"  three Lenovo laptops made the top ten.

This little computer has all the bells and whistles with a 500 gig hard drive and 6 gigs of memory.  It also has a built in camera and microphone so I will be able to Skype from Mexico.  It's so nice to have a wonderful family!

After a month I can report that I am completely happy with the performance of the Lenovo and would recommend it to friends.  I have been busy loading the hard drive with music and movies so that when I return to Aticama I will have mucho entertainment.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Weighting for results

My last couple of weeks in Aticama several friends told me how healthy and thin I looked.  There are two words for thin in Spanish: delgado means thin and flaco means skinny.  Everyone said I was "delgado" which made me feel good about my weight.   I had no idea how much I weighed but I had started tucking my shirt in for the first time in several years which made me realize that I had lost my "gut" even though it was small to begin with.

When I stepped on the scale at the doctor's office I was really surprised to find that I weighed only 175 pounds which is about what I weighed in high school and the lowest I have weighed since.  After checking 3 sites on the internet I discovered that at 6'1", 175 lbs was the ideal weight for my age.  My brother told me that my weight would increase now that I am at his house and eating well again.  I told him that I eat well in Aticama and I think I do.  My normal daily dining schedule includes four meals a day but they are smaller than what I have consumed in the past.  Well, partial results are in: After one week of great food at Rick's I have gained 6 pounds and now have the responsibility to exercise so my weight gain will be distributed over my body and not create another "gut".  

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Grass is always greener

When I am at the house in Aticama I often think about things that I thought I missed from my life in the U.S. : air conditioning; television; internet; shopping and fast food.  Now that I am at my brother's home in Bakersfield, CA I find that I miss Aticama.  Boy am I hard to please!

It only took me about an hour to remember that even with a couple hundred TV channels available, there is really nothing I want to watch.  I have trouble sleeping in the air conditioned bedroom and it is playing havoc with my sinuses.  When I arrived here last week and crashed into bed, it was the first real bed I had slept in in 15 months.  When I sit down at the fastest internet connection I have used in years, all I do is check email and, when motivated, post to my blog.  The access to shopping is great but I have found that I miss walking down the hill and shopping at the small tiendas.  The fast food is okay but it doesn't compare to the meals I cook; I think I may be a little bit lazy.

Please don't misunderstand me, I am happy whether I am in Aticama or Bakersfield as there are things I love about both places.  I really enjoy the company of my brother and his family but I also enjoy the solitude of the house on the hill.  I now understand the philosophy of the "snow birds" who split their time between homes in the north and paradise in the south.  I think I will make a trip north each year part of my future planning!

This is me at my brother's house in Bakersfield.  Still in "short pants" weather as Tioga George likes to call it.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Bus ride from hell

A week ago I decided to visit the U S and take care of a small medical procedure that I have been putting off for a few months.  Although my medical problem should not affect my mental faculties, apparently it did as I made the decision to take a bus from San Blas to Tijuana.

There were two reasons that caused me to decide on the bus: The first was the cost which was only $65.; the second reason was that I could start the trip the next day at 10:00 a.m.  I didn't fully appreciate how tough 30 hours on a bus would be.

We started right on time in San Blas with 6 passengers; stopped 45 minutes later in Villa Hildalgo to pick up another 18 passengers; stopped in two additional small towns for 15 more passengers; and, our last 3 passengers boarded in Mazatlan.  Now there were 41 passengers on a 42 passenger bus.  I was the only gringo and also the only person with two seats all to myself.  I picked the row of seats that abut the outside of the restroom and therefore do not fully recline.

There were three toddlers on the bus and somehow all three were within one row of my location.  Did you know that screams and crying sound the same in all languages?  I figured that they would wear themselves out but they developed a system of trading of their screaming timelines.  The screaming was not the worst part of the ride!

The trip is just over 2000 kilometers in length and we experienced 15 drug checkpoints along the way or one checkpoint every 70 miles.  The checkpoints varied in length of delay from only 10 minutes to over 2 hours.  At the short stops a soldier or cop would just get on and walk down the aisle looking at each passenger.  Several of the stops involved a total search with all passengers required to leave the bus with their carry-on luggage.  Then all of the luggage, ice chests and boxes from the storage compartments was removed and sent through an xray machine.  The actual inspection for the longest stop took only about 45 minutes but the wait in line while they checked the buses that arrived before us was over an hour and a half.

After 36 hours we finally arrived at the final stop in TJ; another hour and I was across the border.  My brother was waiting for me and we drove straight through to Bakersfield.  All in all, the total travel time was 40 hours!  Guess who is flying on the return trip!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A new friend shows up

Last Wednesday when Jesus came up to do some weed-whacking he brought a new puppy along for the ride.  He is about 5 months old and obviously a Heinz 57 type of mutt.  Black, brown and tan coat with a large blot of white centered on his face.  The really special thing about him is his eyes: they are an almost white, light gray similar to what you sometimes see on sled dogs.  His ribs were showing through his short-haired coat but he seemed to be very happy.  He has one of those "propeller" tails that makes a rapid full circle behind him when he is very excited.

Jesus told me that he was living down below me at Bill's motor home and that he would feed him.  Thursday afternoon I took down some food and gave him water.  Early Friday, I could hear him barking so I went down.  I couldn't stand the sad look in his eyes so I untied him and he followed me up the hill to mi casa.  He hasn't left my side since then.  No matter where I go he seems to be under foot.  Sarah is a little jealous and each time I pet him she hops up and demands equal opportunity petting.  They seem to be getting along well.

At night, Sarah has always slept up in the house while I am down in Dod.  Lobo (I forgot to mention his name earlier) chooses to follow me down the stairs and spends the entire night sleeping under Dod.  I swore I would never acquire another dog but I couldn't resist.  Oh well, there goes more money on shots, neutering and food.  Overall a small investment for the enjoyment he is already providing.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Getting tired of storm stories?

I will make this one very short.  It seems that when September arrived, the storm pattern took on a different timing with most recent storms beginning a couple of hours before sunset.  We had another great storm on Tuesday night.

Similar to other storms it started both South and North and centered in on Aticama.  The lightning was awsome as there were several distinct bolts hitting the ground all around me.  When the storms converged on my house, the rain was coming down in sheets (2" in the first hour) and the lightning and thundered continued.  There were several flashes where I could not count to one before the thunder roared.

I was luck to witness two strikes unlike any I had ever seen before.  One struck about 1/4 mile offshore right below the house.  When it hit the water there was a large orange flash followed almost instantly by the loud crackle and booms of the thunder.  A few minutes later, a bolt connected with either the cell tower in town or a transformer and when it did, there was a bright green fire in almost a perfect circle.  All the lights in the village went off for a few seconds and came back on.  A while later, after a couple of more localized flashes the lights went off and stayed off not returning until 10 am the next morning.

I had the opportunity to gloat on the fact that I was in my kitchen watching the storm while reading a book using my solar powered lights!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Designated cooking day

Once a week I like to set aside most of the day to prepare several meals so that I have choices each time hunger strikes.

Bell peppers and onions

I believe that most meals taste better with the addition of bell peppers and onions so each week I purchase a very large green bell pepper, a very large red bell pepper and a couple of onions.  I chop up the entire batch and sautee them in butter until they are just right.  I then fill a couple of sandwich baggies with the finished product and freeze them.  Additionally I fill a couple of plastic containers and keep those in the fridge for daily use.

I can't tell the difference between these and fresh chopped.  I use these in breakfast burritos, spaghetti, rice pilaf, bean and beef burrito filling, mashed and scalloped potatoes and anywhere else that seems right.  This method saves gas and avoids the usual discarding of half used vegetables.  It is also much quicker when preparing meals which means I am apt to use them more often.


Molida is ground beef and it is one of my favorite entrees no matter how it is prepared.  When I buy it, I buy a kilo (2.2 lbs).  When I get it home, I separate it into 8 packages, some patties and some bulk, for later use.  By freezing the patties they are always ready to use and there is no waste.  A kilo in San Blas costs 65 pesos and you get to watch them grind it!

Betty Crocker potato side dishes

Betty Crocker must sell 20 or so potato side dishes with a majority being Au Gratin, Scalloped, et cetera and the minority a variety of mashed potatoes.  These come in a box with a packet of sauce and a packet of potatoes.  When I was at my brother's in Bakersfield I stocked up.  Usually these sell for $1.79 to $2.29 per box.  I noticed a sale at Albersomn's market and stocked up.  All varieties were on sale for $1.29 quite a deal!  Added to that, if you bought 10 items (assorted) you got an additional 50 cent discount per package.  I shopped on a Tuesday for a very good reason: Anyone 60 and over gets an additional 5% discount on Tuesdays!  To make the deal even sweeter, several of the boxes had a "use it now" coupon offering 50 cents off on the purchase of two packages.

I purchased a total of about 150 packages that day and figure that my average cost per package was around  $0.70 and each package provides two meals!  These are ideal for Dod as they almost never expire, they are lightweight, and they are square so they store well in cramped spaces.  Of the 150 packages purchased in November, I am now down to the last 50 or so.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A lizard{s tale

Other than iguanas I haven’t written too much about lizards.  Well I have lizards!  I have lizards in the house, on the patio, in the upstairs yard, the downstairs yard, all the way down the hill to Bill’s casa and both on and inside Dod.  I really like lizards.  They are fun to watch and, bless their hearts, they eat bugs!

I think there may be as many as a dozen different type of lizard here.  I cannot go out without one or two running for cover.  They range in size from about 4” (full grown) to well over 12”.  I am excluding iguanas here as they grow to nearly 5’.

The smallest variety live in the palapa covering the dining patio.  At 4” I figured they were just young until I saw the male display.  He has a pouch under his chin that he expands until it about the size and shape of a quarter.  It is bright orange with variegated white stripes.  The second clue that he is full grown came when I carried my dinner out to the dining patio and couldn’t use the table as the little guy and his girlfriend had commandeered the space.  I can hardly wait for the babies; how small will they be?

One way I have identified several varieties of lizard is with my unintended lizard trap.  For some reason they get stuck in the bottom of the bath tub (no water) and they are unable to climb out.  I tired of lifting them out so I built a lizard (and frog) escape ramp using a piece of wire mesh.  I haven’t found a lizard in the tub since!

One of the most numerous varieties here is the gecko.  Is the gecko a lizard?  Geckos are all over the house living in tight spaces near the floor and also high up in the palapa roof.  You can’t always see them but you can sure hear them.  They make a chirp-chirp-chirp noise and I assume they are looking for a mate as they sing out.  I have a permanent resident gecko in Dod and two or three that live on the outside of Dod.  I think these are the smart ones.  Each night as I am laying in my bunk reading, geckos appear on both side windows.  As the bugs are attracted to my reading light and bounce of the windows, the geckos chase them down.  It is really something to watch.

And, finally, an iguana tale.  The baby green iguanas started showing up a couple of months ago.  I see them all over but am never quite sure if I have seen five iguanas in a single day or one iguana five times.  Last week I was sitting in the front room reading and as I glanced out the door I say one of these babies (about 8” long) casually strolling along the top of the wall.  The babies generally stroll and are not even frightened as you approach them.  All of a sudden, the little guy took off like “a bat out of hell” and ran all the way past the bath tub and hopped off the wall.  I had never seen one move so fast and by careful observation I quickly determined the reason for his haste.  At the spot where he had climbed up the wall there was a 3’ to 4’ garter snake climbing up after him.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A perfect storm

No, not the movie or the book but the real thing.  A few days ago, Francisco emailed me and asked if I had any pictures of storms that I could send him.  The answer is no because I keep forgetting to buy an USB cable to connect my camera to the computers at the various internet cafes I visit.  I will definitely put it on my list for my next trip to the Wal-Mart in Tepic!

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  Does that mean that a thousand words are worth a picture?  Well I won’t use nearly a thousand words (it may seem that way)  but I will describe the storm that coincidentally occurred the same night I read that email.

Each evening I spend the last couple of hours of daylight out on the patio just sitting there looking at the view.  To the north is the house; to the east is a mountain range; to the south is the village of Aticama and a beautiful coastline; and, to the west is the Pacific with great views of the peninsula where San Blas is located.  This particular night as I glanced to the east, there were beautiful gray clouds working their way over the mountain range changing their configuration every few moments.  To the west there were cumulous clouds floating all along the horizon that seemed to be preparing for a great sunset.

Now for the south.  To the south there was an enormous  very dark gray cloud extending from the mountain range far out over the ocean.  The portion that extended over the ocean (maybe 5 miles) was releasing a torrential downpour so thick that it permitted no sign of light from the other side and the surface of the ocean reflected the incredibly dark gray of the huge cloud above.

Closer to the house there were 4 surfers enjoying some of the last waves of the day.  It seems that the surf builds up in the afternoons and often is at its best just before sunset.  All of a sudden as I watched the surfers taking off on the waves a lightning bolt shot out of the cloud and went straight down to the angry surface of the sea.  Using the highly scientific method of one-one thousand, two-two thousand I was able to determine that the bolt was less than two miles away.  The noise generated by the cold air slamming into the void created by the resulting hot air caused by the lightning was at first a loud crackle followed in seconds by a couple of loud booms.  The surfers seemed to ignore it and continued as if nothing had happened.

You may have read my post about seeing 53 individual flashes of lightning in a minute.  That was a completely different type of lightning and the tremendous bolts that struck this evening were only coming down at the rate of one or two per minute which to me made them spectacular.  The normal wind in the evening comes in from the west but this night it was coming from the south pushing that huge cloud inexorably closer to mi casa every minute.  In just a few minutes I could feel small drops coming down.  Normally I wait until about 8:00 p.m. to head down to Dod for the night but this night I thought it might be better to go down a little earlier: about 6:00 p.m. 

I was snuggled down in my bunk in Dod by 6:15 p.m. and it was just in time!  As soon as  I   opened up my book and began reading the sky opened up.  I am talking a downpour!  My uncle from Texas used to describe this type of downpour as being “like a cow pissing on a flat rock”.  Probably not the prettiest picture to envision but a very good descriptive phrase for this particular storm.  Within a hour the winds started.  I would guess that the winds were blowing steadily at 40 mph with gusts above 50 mph.  I have never been in a hurricane and I don’t really think I want to experience one.

In the morning the rain gauge showed that we received over 3 inches of rain during a storm that lasted just under 4 hours.  Unfortunately the road up to the house concurred with the rain gauge and with considerable damage from runoff.  The dawn brought a beautiful sunrise and reaffirmation of why I love living here.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Joe's Market

From the time I was 8 years old until I left home at 18, we lived in a middle income neighborhood in So. Cal.  It was a very quiet neighborhood with little traffic.  One of the amenities was a little mom n' pop store about two blocks from our house.  It sat in the middle of the block in an almost 100% residential area.

The mom and pop were Joe and Bessie (I think) and they were great people.  The little store had all the essentials including a butcher and deli counter.  Of course, the prices were higher than at the big super markets but when you need something and don't have a car, it is neat to send your 8 year old son to the market.  I never minded as there was usually a 3 cent popsicle waiting for me for the short walk home.  Mom would make a list, give me money and send me on my way.  Many times the list included cigarettes and at Joe's Market, that was no problem  Ah, the good old days.

Here in Aticama, I have found a new Joe's Market but here it is Mini-super Mari's.  Mari's is on the highway that goes through town on the corner of the street I take up to my house.  Mari's in run by an old couple who must be well into their 70s.  While they have no fresh meat available, like Joe's, they have the essentials.  I try to buy as much of my groceries from them as possible even though I could save a few pennies by shopping in San Blas.  I enjoy the conversation and the joking around with them.  If mom is handling the counter when I arrive, pop inevitably pops out of the living area to greet me. (A lot of businesses in Mexico are attached to the family dwelling.)

At Mari's, I often see little children who can barely see over the counter hand Mari a list of items and he happily walks around the store picking up the items.  When it comes time to pay, no cash changes hands but instead an accounting ledger book is retrieved from the back counter to put it on account.

I like technology but I love it that the old ways are still practiced here in Aticama!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Another lightning story

Two nights ago we had a really neat thunderstorm.  The lightning went on for hours without stopping.  I decided to count the flashes and came up with 53 separate lightning flashes in one minute!  While most of the flashes were from far away, three of them were so close that when I tried the one-one-thousand method of determining distance, I only got out the first "one".  It was awsome!

After that, I decided to see how few minutes there were without thunder.  As you know, when lightning strikes, the thunder comes just a little later and it continues on for a few seconds.  I was lying there in Dod listening carefully and there was no break in the thunder for 5 minutes.  Before one burst of thunder was over another one had started.

I was still listening to the thunder as I drifted off to sleep.  Who needs sheep to count?

Friday, August 3, 2012

Butterfly Highway

As most of you know, my house sits atop a very high cliff facing both the ocean and the village of Aticama.  As insects travel north they are funneled across the area west of the house which is a greenbelt about 15' wide with the house on one side and the beach on the other.

I have seen probably 20 different kinds of butterflies go by.  As I sit on the dining patio taking in the great view there is constant butterfly action.   It is not unusual to see 6 or 7 different butterflies go by within a minute.  Just when I thought I had probably seen all the different kinds available, two completely new ones showed up.  They range in size from 1" to 5" wingspans and are every color of the rainbow; just beautiful!

And speaking of insects, let me describe the great dragonfly migration.  About two weeks ago as I was sitting on the patio enjoying my morning coffee, dragonflies started flying overhead.  At first there were just a few and all were headed north.  In a few minutes the sky was thick with them.  When I say thick, I am talking about 1,000 passing overhead every minute.  The migration went on for more than a hour.  Some stopped to rest on the palms below the patio and I noticed there were two different types.  I assume they were male and female as they were both the same size with the difference being that some had see through wings and some had similar wings with two large black spots on each wing.

There is always something to do here!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Lightning and more lightning

It has been storming here on and off (mostly on) since the middle of June.  I don't think we have gone more than two days in a row without rain.  It rains mostly at night but the storms during the day are my favorites.  I love it when it is around 90 degrees and it starts to rain.  Standing out on the patio and watching the clouds with raindrops falling on me is pure enjoyment.

I have seen more lightning and heard more thunder in the last 5 weeks than I have seen and heard in my entire life.  When there is a thunderstorm here, the lighting flashes occur about 10 times every minute and can go on for hours.

I am still posting from the internet cafe as my connection on the hill is very ¨"iffy"!  At first my donated computer was very slow but I tweaked it a bit and the speed is much better.  However, I am only getting one bar out of five up at my house and the slow connection drives me crazy.  I will try a more powerful antenna but I do not have high hopes.  I will probably just make do until I visit the US and then shop for a new computer.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Almost online!

My ex-wife sent a computer and a camera to me.  It pays to stay friends with your ex´s!  I had friends coming down who agreed to deliver the packages but they arrived at their house the day after they left.  Well, it pays to have friends.  My neighbor down the hill, Bill, drove several miles to pick up the packages and then several more miles to deliver them to other friends who were coming down.  Everything arrived safe and sound.  I owe a bunch of people dinner!

I need to purchase a wireless receiver before I can get online but I am going to Tepic tomorrow and hopefully by tomorrow night I will be able to sit out under the stars to browse the net.

Monday, July 2, 2012

The rainy season

Well, the rainy season is here!  It first rained on the 16th, not much but steady.  It rained 8 days straight after that with a couple of real storms.  This week is devoted to roof patching, last week was road repairs.  There is always something to do here.

As always, a lot of my time is spent watching the clouds and the ocean.  The hillside below the house is now completely green where it was completely brown less than a month ago.  Some of the new plants have grown to five feet in height in just three weeks.  Looks like I will be surrounded by jungle shortly.

Hope to have my camera and computer on line by the weekend and then I will not have to drive to the internet cafe to post.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Back on line in early July

Well, I feel completely back to normal living on the hill.  No more worries about robbers!  A computer and camera are currently enroute and the internet service on the hill has been improved so I should be able to sit on the patio and do everything I used to do only faster.

We had our first rain on Saturday nite and boy did Mother Nature put on a great light show.  You have seen the great view from the hill.  Well the storm encircled us and I could see clouds out in the distance for 360 degrees.  There were 30 to 40 lightning flashes every minute (no exageration) but most were so far away that you could not hear the thunder.  Several flashes were contained in the clouds without actual bolts hitting the earth.  I watched the show from 1 am till 3 am.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Robbery, the gift that keeps on giving

The past two weeks I have unfortunately let the robbery get the best of me.  Always looking over my shoulder and listening to every sound around me.  That all stopped Sunday when I made a decision: If I continue to be discomforted, they win.  Sunday I made the decision to get back to my normal confident self.  I decided that if a similar situation should arise in the future I will finish the fight no matter what the outcome.  This decision had a very comforting effect on me and now I am content once more.

Many thanks to all of you who have suggested paypal as a solution to my temporary financial troubles.  However, I really prefer to do things on my own.  I am receiving a used computer in about three weeks and when I receive my next social security check I will buy a camera.  After re-reading my post I realized that it did sound almost like I was soliciting help but that was not my intention.

Thanks again to all of you for following the story of my life in Mexico.  I still love it and am very happy to be living here!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Last post for awhile

I no longer have a camera or computer.  I was robbed on Sunday afternoon by three young Mexicans.  I took care of one pretty well but at my age I decided that discretion was the better part of valor so I watched while two of them kept me in a corner wielding broom sticks while the third one took my computer, cell phone, camera and two bottles of booze.  The theft of the booze really bothers me because it was a bottle of rum for Francisco and a bottle of tequila for Weng!

I only have four bruises; five if you count my pride.  Everything can be replaced but it will take time as I just bought the truck and have three more payments on my dental work.    It may surprise you to learn that I have no intention of moving and the only security improvement I have made is a 30" machete that I carry with me at all times.

I will start posting again as soon as I have equipment!


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A truck by any other name . . .

A truck is just a truck.  Not so!  Today our truck allowed us to bring a gasoline powered water pump up the hill and fill both tenacos (large plastic cisterns) providing enough water at my house for watering the gardens,  bathing, cleaning and for the restroom.  The tasks were accomplished in about one third the time it would have taken using the 12v water pump.
Then while we were pumping the water I received a text message inviting me to Santa Cruz for a birthday party for my friend Gabriele.  Without the truck I would not have attended as I would not take Dod down the hill just for a party.

The party was great and I have not laughed so much in many, many months.

Outdoor patio and kitchen at Gabi's house

Left to right - Glenn, Delia, Gabi and her dog Mouse.

They are sitting in the kitchen at Gabi's house.  This is the house that I described in an earlier post that rents for less than two hundred dollars a month including utilities.  Two bedrooms, two baths, a huge yard and patio and on a very quiet street.  The street goes past a mangrove lagoon on its way to the ocean.  Only about 300 yards from the front gate to the beach.  You are probably tired of hearing it, but I love Mexico!

BTW Gabi is moving from this great bargain to house sit for a Canadian couple who are heading north for the summer.  Cost of her new residence right on the beach with air conditioning and swimming pool is zero!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Our Sunday trip to Tepic

Jesus, Yolanda and I hopped into Yolanda’s Honda Civic for a trip to Tepic to look at cars and trucks.  The trip started off good at 8 a.m. but by 9 a.m. it wasn’t so good.  We had just passed the midway point at a town called Jalcocotan (Jalco for short) and her little Honda seemed to be struggling.  We couldn’t tell if it was the transmission or the engine.  She pulled over at a Pemex station and the brakes were hot enough to give Jesus a blister on his finger from just touching the rotor.

The brake fluid pump had died and was causing the front brakes to be on all the time.  Now, please remember we are in Mexico where life is decidedly easier than the U.S. or Canada.  Within 5 minutes Yolanda had talked to two caballeros (gentlemen) in a truck and they drove her to a mechanic in Jalco.  Within 30 minutes the mechanic drove Yolanda back to the Pemex station and we followed him back to Jalco to his home/garage.  In about 45 minutes he was able to back off the calipers on the front wheels and we were on our way very carefully to Tepic.  Total charge for a couple of hours of a very good mechanic’s time was 100 pesos or about  $7.50  US.  I was thinking that on a Sunday in California the charge would have been closer to $200.

We stopped at an Auto Zone store in Tepic and ordered the pump which will arrive on next Wednesday.  About $60.  Then we left her car in the Auto Zone parking lot and took a taxi to the tianguis (swap meet) for cars and trucks.  We stopped by Yolanda’s cousins house first and then by three “cajeros” (ATMs) before arriving at the swap meet.  Total cost for 45 minutes in the taxi = 70 pesos or just over $5.; I love Mexico.
When we were dropped off at the swap meet the first vehicle we looked at turned out to be the one that we bought.  It is a 1991 Toyota 4x4 with a 4 cylinder engine and is exactly what Jesus and I had thought was the best truck for our needs.  You can’t buy the first truck you see, so we walked around for a couple of hours looking at other trucks and VWs for me.  I found a couple of VWs at prices from $800. to $1200.  They were all in okay condition and mechanically very good.

Jesus, Yolanda and I had a long conversation and we decided that Jesus and I are good enough friends that we can share a truck.  The truck was about $2000. more than Jesus had to spend so I agreed to split the cost with him and forego buying a VW.  I get to use the truck when needed (2 or 3 days a week) like for a trip to Tepic and the Walmart or on date night in San Blas.

The truck made it the 35 miles back from Tepic with no problems whatsoever!  When you consider most of its usage will be a 5 mile round trip from Jesus’ house to the Yaka orchard, the 20 mile round trip to San Blas and an occasional 70 mile round trip to Tepic, the truck will probably be driven less than 5,000 miles per year.  BTW it climbed the hill to my house as though it was level ground!  Now Dod can join my Aticama retirement club and will only be used to go on camping excursions and not as a taxi.  Both Dod's suspension and the road up the hill we be much better off.

Jesus and Yolanda and the truck

There are two trees in this picture.  The one in the back has nothing but leaves but the one in the front has only four leaves but about 20 clusters of beautiful flowers.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Buying a vehicle

Even though we are rapidly completing the "empadrado" (a type of cobblestone covering) I don't want to take Dod up and down the hill any more than is absolutely necessary.  What I really want to buy is a little 4x4 truck so I am going to Tepic today for a huge car/truck swap meet.  I have heard that there are more than 1,000 vehicles available each Sunday.

In one week of looking I have found a nice Honda ATV and a Volkswagen bug available locally.

1995 Volkswagen beetle for $2,000. US.  Mechanically perfect with mostly new parts (brakes, clutch, shock absorbers, tires, even seats).  The seller gave me a ride up the hill to make sure it is acceptable.

2009 Honda 250cc ATV.  Only 1000 miles and in perfect condition.  It was fun to ride and made it up the hill to my house with ease but it is scary.  As I get older I seem to be accident prone.  There is rarely a day goes by that I do not have a new scab.  I think the ATV coupled with my accident "proneness" is a bad combination.

If I don't find a better vehicle/deal in Tepic, I think I will buy the VW.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Si bebe no nade!

This means if you drink, don't swim.  It has been a couple of months since a body has been found on the beach below my house.  There was a drowning the other day.  I was watching the sunset and a couple of police trucks were going up and down the beach road shining spot lights over the surf.  When I looked to the north, there was a police boat cruising the coast.  It didn't take long to figure out what had happened.   Two guys from Guadalajara were drunk and went for a swim.  They didn't know the bay and went into the only section of the water with an almost constant rip current.  They were both drunk and only one made it back.   The body washed up two days later right where he entered the water.  "Si bebe no nade!"

Friday, May 11, 2012

Odd and Ends

What do iguanas eat?  Wikipedia says the adult iguanas are vegetarians.  The guy in the photo below eats just about anything.  Yesterday I poured myself a bowl of corn flakes and then added milk.  Even though the date on the milk had not expired, the milk had and came out in lumps.  I took it to the patio and dumped it over the side.  A few minutes later an iguana was enjoying breakfast.

When the corn flakes failed, I cooked breakfast burritos with steak, eggs, tomatoes and onions.  I threw the ends of the tomato in the same spot off the patio and a couple of ends of a sandwich roll.  Within the hour, an iguana appeared and ate both the tomato and the roll.  

It has been getting really hot here.  At night in Dod it is often too hot to sleep.  I have a small fan but it is 115v and only runs for about 20 minutes before running the battery down so I find myself fanning myself with a paper plate.  I came up with a partial solution and another project.

I made a type of wind scoop and mounted it over the rear window.  The prevailing breeze is off the ocean so it is captured by the scoop and blows through the window.  I also now wire the door at a 45 degree angle so that it captures wind also.  I think it was probably 10 degrees cooler last night.  The wind scoop is fabricated out of a black plastic hose, two strips of wood and more of my red vinyl cloth.

Monday, May 7, 2012

More projects

I have a long list of projects but no real pressure to complete them.  Almost every morning I wake up wondering "What will I do today?"  My answer is always "Whatever I want!"  Most days I do complete a few projects and plan projects for the future.  You may recall that it takes me about 20 hours of planning and procrastination to begin a project.

This week I improved my patio desk/bar/dinette and installed a lighting fixture in the kitchen.  Francisco and Bill left me with some 12v fixtures and bulbs.  Since my only source of electricity is a battery powered by solar panels, the 12v system is essential.  I hard-wired the fixtures to the battery and ran the wires from the battery to the dining room (small patio) and to the kitchen.  Now I can read late into the night on the patio and prepare my coffee before sunrise in the kitchen.  The kitchen fixture is on a long cord which allows it to be moved from the kitchen to the upstairs bedroom with no trouble at all.

Kitchen fixture

I have been carrying a roll of red vinyl with me for over 5,000 miles and several months without knowing why.  All of a sudden I knew why!  It was the perfect covering for my desk/bar/dinette.  I like projects that don't take much time or effort but give noticeable results.  Within an hour I had covered the desk top and secured the umbrella stand to it.

With the cement base and the bracket attaching the pole to the desk, the umbrella could withstand 40 mph winds!  The wind was coming in at about 20 mph when I took this picture.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Mi casa es tu casa

I'm sure most of you know this Spanish phrase "My house is your house".  Well, once again this phrase was proved true with my last visit to Tepic.  On Wednesday, Jesus, his wife Yolanda and I went to Tepic to look at a couple of trucks that Jesus wanted to see.  He asked me to join them as he wanted my opinion on the trucks.

My thought was that we would meet the guy selling the truck, go to Walmart and return to Aticama.  Not in Mexico!  It turned out that the guy selling the truck was Yolanda's cousin so before we could even look at the truck we had to have lunch with Chavelo, Isabella and their four daughters.  Lunch was a chicken soup with rice, beans and of course tortillas.  Excellent food and company.  During lunch the conversation included music and when Chavelo learned that my favorite Mexican group was Mana, he put in one of their  music videos and changed seats with me so I could watch the video while I ate.  Next, he wanted to give me the DVD but I fibbed and said I didn't have a DVD player.

After lunch Jesus, Chavelo and I took a walk around the neighborhood to look at a couple of trucks that were for sale.  We stopped at every other house for introductions to neighbors and conversations about trucks for sale.

When we got back to the house, Yolanda's very attractive, 40 year old, female cousin had mysteriously showed up.  Then, in front of the entire family, Yolanda said " David, my prima Maria Lela doesn't have a husband and you don't have a wife."  Maria Lela just smiled!  We are going back to Tepic on Sunday for the car/truck swap meet at the airport and another lunch and meeting with Maria Lela.

Before we left, Chavelo tried to give me a hat and a bottle of Tequila.  I declined both.  Mi casa es tu casa is alive and well in Mexico!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Tastes just like chicken . . .

Yesterday morning I stepped out of Dod and almost stepped on an iguana.  Well, half an iguana.  The head, three legs and whatever was inside the body were missing.  Sarah was just sitting there acting like nothing was up.  I don't know if she caught it or just found it.  She doesn't pay much attention to all of the lizards on the hill but who knows.  When we were camped at the beach for a month, she would bring a dead fish into camp almost daily so I am hoping she just found a dead iguana.

Sorry, no pictures!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

A couple of small projects

Sunday I walked down the hill expecting to find a farmer's market in progress but for the second week in a row, no such luck.  So I went to the local tienda and stocked up on veggies, milk and bread and hiked back up the hill.

I have been contemplating a small rearrangement of the kitchen for some time now.  I can't find a before picture, but the stove/oven used to be in the same cubby hole as the refrigerator.  The arrangement made it very difficult to change gas bottles so I changed it.  I moved the stove/oven to the other cubby hole and moved the refrigerator next to it which leaves plenty of room for the gas bottle and makes for an easy exchange.  The stove/oven in now at Dave height as it rests on a row of  bricks.  When Weng is here, it can be lowered to Weng level in just a minute by removing the bricks.

I needed a new office space so I used a piece of plywood that Francisco gave me to create this:

I just attached a couple of 2x6s to the bottom of the plywood and set it on the wall.  It is very secure but can be easily removed by just lifting it up.  It will also make a great bar and dining table.  I am posting from this desk now but I am having trouble concentrating as the sun is setting and I think it will be a great sunset.

A downhill day in paradise

Downhill days are very important to me.  Those are the days when I take Dod down the hill and usually into San Blas.  Last Thursday was just such a day.

With the difficulties getting back up the hill in Dod, I try to plan very carefully so that I can accomplish all that is needed in one trip.  Sometimes I am successful and Thursday was just such a day!  Here is what I accomplished on that trip:

1.  Took out the trash.  I know for most of you this seems like a minor thing but living on the hill in Aticama the procedure is a little different.  I can remember being 8 or 9 years old and having to haul out the 30 gallon galvanized metal trashcans once a week.  As I grew older the cans became plastic and the shape changed and separate cans for recycling and green trash were added but the task never changed.  Here on the hill we have no trash pick up!

I keep three separate bags in the house and my trash actually goes 4 separate places.  The edible scraps either go to Sara or get thrown over the patio wall where the tejones (coatimundis) remove them nightly; the paper items go into a box and get burned along with the cuttings and leaves from the grounds; the plastic bottles go into a bag to be taken down the hill for recycling; and, all else goes into small bags which accumulate until I go downhill.  On the highway into San Blas there are several blue 55 gallon trash cans in front of houses and businesses along the way.  Unlike in the U.S. these cans are community property and do not belong to the property in front of which they are placed, so I put my basura in these cans along the way.

2.  All drinking water here is of the bottled kind and comes in 20 liter bottles with a weight of just over 40 lbs.  You can imagine that hauling a bottle up the hill from the village is no fun so I make sure I have an empty bottle to exchange each trip I make downhill.

3.  My generator took a dump so it had to be added to my cargo destined for a repair shop in San Blas.  After checking out the generator, the mechanic showed me a screw that was broken off the choke in the throat of the carburetor.  He could either use a rivet to repair it or go into Tepic (60 mile round trip) for a used carburetor which would cost $40. US.  Hey, it's Mexico so the rivet was just fine with me.  While it took 5 hours to fix that was no problem as I had a dentist appointment and some shopping and socializing to do.

4.  The dentist took an hour and a half but I walked away with my new bridge and so far it is working great and will need just some minor tweaking to make it perfect.

5.  The shopping was completed in about an hour as I went to 4 different tiendas (small shops) because after a few months here I have learned where to buy the best items at the best prices.  Paper goods, household items and toiletries come from one tienda; ham, cheese, eggs and smoked pork chops from another; pork and beef from the butcher; and, produce from the Mercado Centro (central market).

6.  With my grocery shopping done I walked back to the San Blas Social Club for a beer and internet.  With all my errands and internet surfing accomplished, I still had two hours to wait for the generator which gave me time for a couple more beers and some great conversation at the Club.  Old friends showed up and I met some new friends.  This is where you catch up on what is happening and get advice on anything you may need in San Blas.

The really good news about Thursday is that when I returned to Aticama, Dod powered up the hill with no slipping whatsoever!  Jesus and I had repaired the two worst spots on the road where Dod normally would have bounced off the ground and spun his drive wheel, there was nothing but smooth sailing.  Since then, Jesus and I have added another 10 square meters of empandrado on the road which means I no longer have to dread the trip up the hill!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Road Repairs

After two near misses at going over the hill, I decided that it is time to do some repairs.  Francisco had a load of rocks delivered for "empandrado" which is a road system with large rocks on the dirt and cementante (a cement like material that naturally hardens) filling in the spaces.

It starts off as just a pile of rocks

This is before

It's a good thing this camera has a fast shutter speed; I was moving pretty fast!

Foreground, rocks in dug out portion;background, hole I dug.

Covered with cementante; looks just like the before picture but without the holes!

The two sections we completed yesterday took only two hours but working in the sun with the temperature in the 80s, it was more than enough work for this old guy in one day.  The breeze blowing through the house seemed to feel better than normal as I settled down for a siesta.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Seven Topes Road

"There are stars in the southern sky, southward as you roam.  There is moonlight and birds in the trees down the seven topes road".  (Paraphrased from the Eagles' Seven Bridges Road.)  A tope is a speed bump.  The road below the house that runs along the beach was formerly without topes.  During Semana Santa (Easter week) there were no topes and the bumper-to-bumper traffic sped along creating mini dust storms.

You can see 3 topes in this picture; there are 2 past where the guy is watering and 2 more in the very bottom of the picture.

As you can see, it is a very short portion of road for 7 topes.

Now, two weeks after Semana Santa, when there is maybe 10% of the previous traffic, someone has installed 7 topes.  These topes are larger and steeper than the normal ones you encounter on the highways sued to slow traffic down as it passes through villages.  Even motorcycles and scooters are forced to come almost to a stop to cross these topes.  We will have to wait and see how long they last!

Monday, April 23, 2012

A bad day in paradise!

Tuesday afternoon, we had to play "musical RVs".  Francisco was preparing to leave on Wednesday so we had to get the dune buggy  back into the RV that serves as a garage; relocate the "garage" next to "Big Fish" and park the RV which will be converted into a farm truck in front of the other two RVs.

The buggy

The garage: Francisco installed a lift up door in the back so the buggy can drive right in.

"Big Fish" under the palapa and the rear of the "garage".

The RV that is soon to be a farm truck.

I volunteered to use Dod as a tow vehicle to maneuver the "garage" (no motor") into the space between "Big Fish" and the sheer cliff on the opposite side.  While Francisco was taking care of business in Aticama I decided to get Dod into position for the move.  I went a few yards down the hill and then put it into reverse to climb back up the hill to a flat spot past the gate.  I miscalculated and Dod slipped!  He almost went over the side of the hill but luckily a tree stump caught under the wheel well and the disaster was avoided.  We had to use the future farm truck to pull Dod off the stump.  Way less trouble than I expected.

It is hard to explain how I can be so happy and yet troubled at the same time.  I went into San Blas today to visit the dentist and received good news.  My bridge will be ready on Monday and if it is all that the dentist promises it will be my last visit!

While I drove to San Blas I had a battery charger for a power tool plugged into the cigarette lighter.  Of course I forgot to unplug it and when I left the dentist my battery was dead. No problem, I removed the battery and carried it two blocks to an auto parts store where it was charged for about $2.50 US.  I re-installed the battery and Dod started right up.  I was going to drive into Tepic from San Blas but with the battery delay I had to postpone the trip.

I had a bad feeling on the way back to Aticama.  I was dreading going up the road to my house.  When I got to the roughest spot on the road, Dod/s tires began spinning and he stalled.  As I drifted down the hill, the brakes would not completely stop Dod's downhill progress.  He skidded backwards and sideways until he wound up leaning against two concrete posts.  Luckily Jesus (the caretaker) is a real "Handy" man.  He had Dod back on the road within an hour.  Only minor damage to Dod.

Photos would be nice but I hesitate to document my screw ups!

Alone on the Hill

After three weeks which can only be described as a whirlwind of activity, Francisco and Bill loaded up Bill'sVW and left for Portland at 1 pm on Thursday.  I say whirlwind because from the moment Francisco arrived he was busy everyday in business meetings, visits to the notario for property and citizenship paperwork, meetings with his partners in a couple of orchards, visits with the administrators of the ejido (political body responsible for Aticama, trips to the orchards with employees, hours and hours working on his dune buggy, a vast amount of time helping me get solar power and pressurized water to the house and, occasionally, taking an hour off to have lunch at our favorite restaurant in town.

Francisco earned my respect through the demonstration of his work ethic.  He earned my friendship almost instantly as we both realized we are like "brothers from different mothers".  We seem to appreciate the same simple things in life and are satisfied with where we are in our lives which seems to validate all of the necessary steps taken to arrive here.

Before you start feeling sorry for Francisco please remember that all of the things he accomplished were accomplished in paradise.  We also took time out for a little recreation and several evenings we had cocktails at sunset on the patio.  Sometimes the cocktail parties extended late into the evening with great conversations and much laughter!

I look forward to his return!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Another project

I mentioned to Francisco that I would like to redo the palapa roof over the dining area.  It was five years old and suffering greatly from the onslaught of comojenes (termites).  The next night, a pickup truck arrived full of palmas (palm fronds used for palapas).  I thought that was great but I was wondering how quickly I would have to start work before the fronds would go brown and not be good for the palapa.

It turned out that it was not a problem.  When I awoke at 7 a.m. the next morning, Jesus (the caretaker) and Javelin (a helper) were walking past Dod.  Neither Francisco or I had mentioned anything to them about the construction but this is Mexico and communication is not always perfect.  Following are some pictures I took during the day.

7:00 a.m.

7:20 a.m. Just before I took this picture the entire roof split into due to termite damage.

7:30 a.m.  Javelin measuring: you see very few tape measures in Mexico.

10:00 a.m.  All but two poles in the construction are bamboo and all of the poles came from the property.

6:00 p.m;.  Finished product: in a week or so, the palapa will be the same brown color of the palmas on the right of the picture.


They completed most of the project while Francisco, Bill and I were on a tour of Camolote which is an area just north of Aticama where Francisco and Bill have a jack fruit plantation.  I forgot to take my camera with me so you will just have to trust me that it is some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen!  Anyhow, the palapa cover is just great and I am sure it will last for years!  Total cost was just over $100.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

More projects

I think I have made it quite clear that I am extremely happy in the hill top house.  I keep getting happier and happier!  On Sunday (Easter is just another day for me in the village) Francisco and I rigged up a 12v pump to pressurize the water system in the house.  I now have the luxuries of a toilet that I don't have to fill with a bucket of water after each use; a kitchen sink with water; and a shower available (cold water only).  But I have my solar shower which I prefer to an indoor shower.

I also have several sockets hooked up for 115v service to run the coffee grinder; charge my computer and provide lighting.  With guests in the house lighting is important but once they leave I will be back to my normal schedule of a sunrise to sunset existence (at least til winter).

Francisco brought out a patio umbrella and we immediately hooked it up to a wall.  The shade was great but the first strong breeze caused it to fall over.  Here are some pix of my Mexican umbrella base:

An old bucket, some pvc pipe and rocks!

I also have a rope tied to a tree down below on the cliff; notice how the umbrella is flapping in the wind?  This is a constant.  This afternoon I will place more rocks around the bucket just for aesthetics.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Semana Santa

Well, Semana Santa has arrived at last.  Everyone told me things would be crazy but it is busier than I imagined. The beach below the house is almost shoulder to shoulder people enjoying the ocean.  Everyone of the ramada spaces have at least one family.  In the spots where there are no ramadas, the cars are parked three rows deep with almost no room in between.  All of otherwise empty spots on the beach have campers; many in improvised shelters with firepits.  There are no sanitary facilities so I hesitate to think what the beach will be like next week.

Tent city

Beach at 8:00 a.m.

Sorry for the blurry picture: but this is the area Dod was parked in at El Chaco.

Before the campers arrived

This is a shot of the beach at 3 pm and it is all I was told it would be.  It is hard to tell from the pix but there are people as far as the eye (aided by binoculars) can see.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Company on the hill

Francisco and his friend, Steve Martin (yes, that is really his name) arrived on Thursday!  This is the first in person meeting with my landlord.  We have discovered that we are very much alike and "hit it off" right away.

 I think of the house on the hill as my personal paradise and was perfectly happy without electric and water to the house as Dod is parked right down the hill.  With Francisco's help we are adding water and electric service to the house. 

Yesterday I removed the stove and oven from Dod and moved it up the hill.  It is much more efficient than the stovetop I bought at Walmart.  Things just keep getting better!

I am really enjoying the company and will be sad when they leave.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Painting projects are almost finished!

The only room left to paint is the bathroom!  After nearly 30 days of thinking about it, Bill forced me into action by volunteering to cut in the edges and corners while I rolled.  It is good to have the project behind me.  The painting was completed a couple of days before Francisco arrived.  He has told me several times how much he likes it.


and after

Uncle Bill lying down of the job (actually painting a porthole)

The floor paint complete with a painted 2" cove base

before and

more before

and after