Just another average sunset in paradise!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Another great day in Aticama

Sunday in Aticama is always good!  I start off with a walk to the Cultural Center for the farmer's market to chat with friends and make new friends.  The crowd is thinning out as the snowbirds head north for the summer.  There will still be about 40 ex-pats living here year round.

After the market I walked over to a friends new apartment to see some of the art work she had done on her walls thinking that I might want to hire her to do some walls in the hilltop house.  It is still possible but I would want to have Francisco see her work before I make a commitment.  After I left Teesha's I ran into 4 other friends on the way home and had to stop and chat.  I love living in a village!

When I got up the hill, Bill was working on his motor home and I had to stop and distract him from his work for awhile.  What are friends for?  When I climbed up to mi casa and opened a cold Pacifico cerveza I went out on the patio to watch the parade of people and vehicles on the beach road below.  I noticed something large in the water and grabbed my binoculars.  It was a whale shark!

This guy was easily the length of two pangas (fishing boats) and I believe they are 20' in length.  The whale shark stuck around for almost an hour using a "lawn mower" movement going north for a couple of hundred yards and then turning and going south for the same distance.  He must have found some good krill in the area as he was following a distinct line in the sea that I think may have been caused by differences in temperature.  I had mixed emotions when he left; I would have watched him if he had stayed for hours but I really wanted to go in the house and paint.

After he left, I went inside and started painting the floor.  As you may recall, I often take several weeks or even months to make decisions on just how to approach projects.  In this case, as in most, I am very glad I did.  Yesterday while Bill and I were painting walls, I came up with the idea of painting a "cove base" of 2" above the floor.  Using the floor paint and a 2" wide brush I was able to paint the cove base at the perfect height and avoid having to cut in the seam at the floor and wall.  It looks great!

Chili dogs for a late lunch and I am now at the dining table in Dod using my free internet and looking out the back window at a beautiful crescent moon, Jupiter and Venus, all in a close formation over a nice (not the best, but nice) orange and red sunset.

Did I mention that I love being here in Mexico?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sarah goes MIA (missing in action)

It has become a habit of mine to go to the Cultural Centro de Bahia Matanchen every Sunday for the farmer's market.  I go mainly just to socialize because I have everything I need and if I bought anything but food it would be just one extra thing to store.  Sarah always walks down the hill with me; we do a little shopping for groceries on the way home; and, walk back up the hill.  I keep Sarah on a leash while at the market and walking through town as there are several dogs that chase Sarah unless she is by my side.

Last Sunday when we reached the beach road and I took off her leash, she took off back to town to pester the oyster divers for scraps.  It didn't worry me any as she often stays in town for awhile and then comes running up the hill to let me know she is home.  I left her on the beach road about 11 am and began to worry when she wasn't home at 4 pm.  Sarah just loves Sundays on the beach and I am sure that she just decided to visit her friends at El Chaco and the people under the ramadas on the beach.  On a typical Sunday there would be 15 to 20 groups of people parked under the ramadas enjoying an afternoon meal at the beach.  Here is what it looked like last Sunday.

Every ramada had a group and there were dozens of other groups who just drove their cars out onto the beach for a meal under umbrellas.  This is heaven for Sarah!  I taught her to sit and look hungry before I feed her and she has developed it into an art form.  She finally arrived home at sunset with a big smile on her face.  I put some food in her bowl and for the first time since we have been together she just ignored it and went under the table for a nap.

She pulled the same stunt yesterday.  We were returning from town with dog food and wine; when I took her off the leash she took off again and this time it was after dark before she returned.  At least I know now that I do not need to worry about her and I fully expect that as Semana Santa approaches she will figure out that she doesn't have to wait for me and head to the beach on her own.

If she isn't careful she may wind up in jail again!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

These are a few of my favorite things . . .

My flip-flops!  My brother and his wife gave them to me for Christmas.  One broke yesterday and it really bummed me out.  There is no where in Mexico that I know of to buy "Reefs".  Luckily I was able to fix it with a needle and dental floss.  I knew that stuff was good for something!

Can you see the repair work on the left one?

Buying second hand clothes.  I like buying second hand because everything is already broken in, shrunk and faded.  I bought three tee shirts last week for $2. each and they are perfect.  I also got an Hawaiian shirt for $1. that probably cost $60. when new.

Making new friends.  It is amazing but I have made more friends in Mexico in the past two months than I made in the U.S. in the past two years.  I know why they call Mexico the amigo country.  

Having no schedule.  Each morning when I awake, I lay in bed and appreciate the fact that there is absolutely nothing that I need to accomplish for the day.  Sure I accomplish things but not because I have to; because I choose to.  

Today I chose to blog.  Tomorrow, who knows?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Cultural Center Yard Sale

The Cultural Center of Matanchen Bay is a gathering spot for ex-pats every Sunday for the farmer's market.  Last Sunday they had a yard sale instead.  All the proceeds from the sale go to buy books and computers for the center to help with the education of the local children.

I went to socialize and because my friends wanted to buy hammocks.  The hammock vendor had to park outside the gates and do business on the street as if he had been in the sale, all of his proceeds would have to be donated.  My friends bought hammocks, blankets and jewelry from him at some great prices.  They had been looking at hammocks at every stop they made in their 5 month stay in Mexico and most were priced over 1000 pesos.  They said that these were the best they had seen and they were only 500 pesos.

"A fool and his money are soon parted."  Like I said earlier, I only went to socialize.  The foolish thing was that I went with a pocket full of pesos and could not resist the bargains.  My purchases included: two wooden chairs with woven reed seats @ $8. each; three brand new Tiki Torches with a bottle of citronella to burn in them for $8. total; 3 t-shirts, 1 Hawaiian shirt and 1 belt all for $1. each.  I would have gladly paid more as it was for a good cause but I am not foolish enough to turn down bargains.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Turn out the lights . . .

The party's over.  My friends Bob and Gloria and Brett and Sharon packed up and left El Chaco early this morning.  I sent them off with some breakfast burritos and in return they emptied their refrigerators and gave all the food to me.  They can't take certain things across the borders they will have to cross to get to Canada and they have vowed to cook no more on the trip home.

We shared many enjoyable times together and had dinner parties almost every night.  We even went up the hill for a barbecue one day.

Enjoying the shade and breeze

They will be back in November to stay an entire month.  This week really wore me out; don't know what a month will do.

Monday, March 12, 2012

San Blas Social Club

The San Blas Social Club is the local hangout for ex-pats in San Blas.  This place would be a success in any town in the U.S. for its eclectic interior, good music, great food and super service.  The owner, Augustin, is from New York as is the chef Phil.  Brett and Sharon, Bob and Gloria, and Gabriele and I went there Friday night for dinner.  Dod was the bus for the evening and once again I was glad that he is so small.  He navigated the narrow streets easily, parked in a tight spot and even made U-turns.

The "Club"  is located directly opposite the town plaza so before we dined we walked around the plaza shopping for gifts for Gabi's friends and relatives back in Germany.  She found some carved turtles for silly gifts and was about to pay full price when I told her that she was cheating the vendor of the enjoyment of bartering.  She explained that Germans are prone to just pay the asking price.  She agreed to try bartering and in no time she had purchased 5 turtles for 12 pesos each instead of the asking price of 15 pesos each.

Gabi and I in front of the street vendors

Brett doesn't look happy that I borrowed his favorite hat.

Dinner was excellent and very inexpensive.  Five of us had the Surf 'n Turf which is a Ribeye steak with three jumbo shrimp (really jumbo) and Gabi had ravioli that chef Phil cooked especially for her.  The beverages included margaritas, cervezas, and wine with the total bill coming to 1255 pesos or about $100. US.  Try to do that in the U.S. or Canada!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sarah goes to Vet

Sarah needed her vaccinations; in fact I think they were way overdue as she is almost 1 year old.  I did a lot of research.  In San Blas there are two vets and I checked with both.  One would charge 130 pesos for a 6 in 1 shot.  The other would charge 100 pesos for two injections that are given 30 days apart.

There is a free clinic in Aticama every couple of months that provides free sterilization services.  The local ex-pat community conducts fund raisers to offset the cost and a vet comes from Tepic (60 kms away) to perform the operations with the assistance of a couple of retired RNs from the north.  I scheduled Sarah's vaccinations for the free clinic on Saturday.  The cost was 250 pesos or about $20. US; much more than the local vets charge but still much less than it would cost in the US.  The reasons I decided to go with the most expensive were 1. the drugs come from Bayer and are the best you can buy and 2. The vet who administered the shots is very professional and he included a shot record in case I ever decide to take Sarah to the U.S.  Sarah was a very good girl when she received her two shots and she didn't even get a lollipop!

The recovery room at the clinic

Esterilizacion Gratuita = Free Sterilization

The vet is in the Bermudas enjoying a lunch of fresh oysters

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Daylight Savings Time

My favorite day of the year used to be the day that we set our clocks ahead one hour so that I could enjoy one more hour of sunshine each day.  Of course I realize that there really wasn't an extra hour of daylight but when when I was going to school or to work I got an extra hour of daylight to enjoy after I got home.  I am definitely a daylight person.  My favorite days are when there are many more hours of daylight than darkness.

What does Daylight Savings Time have to do with this?  Nothing at all!  If you had a blanket and cut 1' off the top and then sewed it on the bottom, you would still have the same length of blanket.  However, in Mexico, the dates for Daylight Savings Time are not the same as the U.S.   While people in the U.S. will set their clocks ahead by one hour tonight, here in Nayarit we will do that on Sunday, April 1.  I am waiting to see if Windows will adjust automatically this Saturday or realize that at my latitude it should wait to adjust until April 1.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Dod moves down the hill

Monday I moved Dod back down the hill to the El Chaco RV Park.  My friends from Canada are stopping here for a week on their journey home.  I had a free week coming so I decided to camp here for a few days to visit with them.  They have traveled to some inland parts of Mexico for the past month and returned with pictures and stories of some places that I may move to during the rainy season.

Brett, Sharon, Bob and Gloria waiting for dinner at the Paraiso Escondido (Hidden Paradise) restaurant.

Even the bad sunsets are good.  

Sarah and I will walk up to the house daily to water the gardens and sweep up the bat guano.  I finally got a photo of the "culprits" resting on the hallway wall in between hunting excursions.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Housing costs in Mexico

A friend of mine currently rents a two bedroom duplex right on the beach about 2 kms south of Aticama.  She pays 4000 pesos per month plus utilities.  That is about $300. US which I think is quite a bargain.  Her landlords want to raise the rent to 5500 pesos a month which would still be a good deal.  She decided it was too much for her budget so she started looking for a new place two weeks ago.  Within just a few days, she found a two bedroom, two bath house with a large fenced yard.  The rent is 2500 pesos ($200 US) and water and electricity are included.  The house is in Santa Cruz (5 kms south of Aticama) which is about the same size as Aticama but with a completely different feel.

While she is giving up the beach front location she will be only a couple hundred yards from the beach and less than a hundred yards from a lagoon that is packed with wildlife.  The house also has a deck on the roof which should be great for watching sunsets.

This guy was working on his tan in the lagoon; he is about 5' long

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Whale watching

Friday morning, Gabriele, Delia, Bill and I went to Miramar to go on a whale watching trip.  It had originally been scheduled two weeks ago but we cancelled to clean the beach.  The trip we cancelled was to leave from San Blas and would cost 1500 pesos.  Delia found the boat in Miramar for just 1000 pesos!  As it turned out Miramar was a much better choice as it is almost 20 kilometers closer to the whale watching area which saved us an extra hour of boat travel each way.

We saw several whales (or a few whales several times) and we experienced something that non of us had experienced before: we were able to hear the whales talking to each other!  The guide said that he thought it was a mother and calf communicating and from the sounds, I think he was right.  The girls both came up with a pretty good imitation of the sound and it almost seemed that the whales were responding to their calls.  

Pelicans did fly-bys all day

Unfortunately, we think this turtle was dying as he was unable to dive normally 

Delia with her life jacket/umbrella

I think this is how our hill looked before houses were built

The hotel Dubai right across from the boat launch

After the excursion we went back to Gabi's house for lunch.  We had some delicious tamales that Delia's sister prepared.  After lunch we went to the sea wall at the front of Gabi's yard and we had another treat.  A whale shark was cruising by about twenty yards off the beach.  All in all, it was a great day!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Farmer Dave

There is so much space available up on the hill I decided to plant some vegetables and flowers.  The soil is not the best so we will have to wait and see what grows from the first seeds I planted.  At the farmer's market last week a neighbor was selling topsoil that looked like a good mixture.  I bought 10 forty kilo bags and it was delivered to the hilltop at no charge.

Once I had the soil it only took a short while to decide that I would build some planters so that the flowers and veggies would be in soil.  With the help of the caretaker we had four built in less than an hour.

Sunflowers and carrots

Sunflowers, asters, cherry tomatoes

Spinach and lettuce

Sunflowers and asters

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Mexican Dentist

Yesterday I made my fourth trip to the dentist in San Blas.  Knowing that I was going to be in Mexico I put off some much needed dental work for a year.  The cost of the work in the US was way beyond my budget.  While it will cost nearly $2,000. dollars here that is just a fraction of what it would have cost.

With the prices here I am able to have everything done that I need.  I will wind up with a bridge and caps on the front ten of my upper teeth.  The lowers will be whitened first and then a color match will be made for the bridge and caps.

Dental work in Mexico is not for the squeamish.  The precautions we take for granted in the US are not always followed here.  The dentist does wear latex gloves but often touches things like his phone or switches on equipment that are not sterile.  Also, during much of the work he did on my last visit he was talking to his assistant about his kids, her kids, the cost to rent a house and many other subjects.

I told the dentist that I wanted a nice smile because I wanted una novia (a girlfriend) and he proceeded to try to set me up with his dental assistant who is 36 years old and divorced.  Who knows?  It is nice to have a dentist who is also your friend.  I told him my friend wants to buy a refrigerator that runs on propane and he said to call him when I am in Tepic and he will drive me around to find one.  I can't imagine a dentist in the US volunteering to do that.

In one month I will be able to show the after pictures.  There is no way I would take a before picture.