Thursday, October 29, 2009

Gabriel Oct 2009

One of the many reasons I love my house in Jocotepec is the neighborhood.
Plain ole middle class Mexican neighborhood.
The kind one is likely NOT to get robbed in.  The kind one is likely to
find a good maid and gardener in.  The kind one is likely to find good
Mexican friends in.  All the good stuff.

In addition to that, a short block and a half away,
the milpas and horses and cows and berry farms begin.
Great for hiking, jogging, running the dogs, bike and horseback riding too.

I had only been running the dogs along the farm roads for about a week,
when one morning I spied the strangest thing coming my way.

At a distance, I determined it was a horse with a hat wearing a hula skirt.
Uh huh.

Trying to be cool,
I demurely averted my eyes until it was directly in front of me before looking up.
The man on the horse, and under the hat, and hidden behind the corn stalks,
adios'd me as we passed.
I could see he was curious about me too.

  I was smitten!

It's been three years, and now when I meet up with him
we happily greet each other by name and stop and chat and often
walk all the way home together talking about the weather,
his day, his animals, how I'm doing, and all the pertinent gossip of the neighborhood.

In his early seventies, he's a soft spoken man with a kind heart and squinty eyes
that sparkle with an uncomplicated, but spot on, sense of humor.
He is wise and ironical and he likes to make me laugh.

He has 2 horses - small Mexican Criollos - and 1 cow.  No chickens, no dogs, no wife.
Every single day he leaves his house on his horse, sometimes leading
another, and rides into the hills where he cuts corn stalks in the milpas for his livestock.

On his return, he passes my house around 5 in the evening.
His 'commute' never ceases to charm me.


Pulling up to his house, he dismounts,
unlocks the front door, and leads his horses - and sometimes
a cow or 2 - through the front door, through the living room,
down the hall, into the courtyard, and out to the back.

I so want to see inside his house, but have
not yet been invited.  Maybe some day I'll
be able to post about how he lives at home.

If I were a man - I could just show up some night with a
couple of cervezas and be invited in - but I'm not and that sure
complicates things, doesn't it?

Is he not the coolest Marlboro man you've ever seen!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

On The Other Hand Oct 2009

 Good advice from Calypso, just what I did. . .

 These were the things on my To Do list for yesterday:
  •  Take car in for brakes
  • Rake the yard
  • Bathe the dog
  • See the Derm doc
  • Pick up boombox - even tho it has not been fixed and I can't find the guy
Who wouldn't crawl under a blankie with a Things-To-Do-Today list like that one!
Only thing lacking is root canal.

On The Other Hand. . .

Xmas card:  Gigi Taylor 2008
  • Good Snowbird friends start arriving in 4 days.  Woohoo!
  • I live in Mexico where everyday is an adventure.
  • Road Trip on Friday with the pals - AND shopping.
  • To Do Lists are made to become Not Done Lists.
  • Life is good, and I'm a lucky girl!!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Today Oct. 2009

It's gloomy.
No sun.
No energy.
No fun.

I'm bored.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Feeling like Santa! Oct. 2009

Meet Madre Mireya!
She speaks some English and has a great sense of humor! 

She and Hermana Miriam, who are both nurses, are now in charge of
La Casa de la Sagrada Familia.  (Click on the link for a previous post with all the info.)
Just the 2 of them!  That means keeping
the home operating, taking care of medical issues, cooking and feeding, and being the sole
fundraisers for the expenses.  Can you imagine?

They have 6 patients living full time at the Casa, there was a man living there
but he recently asaulted the Madre with a hose and was removed by the police.

I just came back from visiting them and brought Sheila with me
who always comes with diapers, cleaning supplies, food, or cash.
Today was no exception.  In addition, I got to deliver a generous cash
donation from one of our fellow bloggers.
Gracias to you-know-who-you-are.

It's always fun to visit La Casa.  The nuns appreciate everything so
much and the patients are so delighted to have someone
new to chat with - or at - depending on the case.
If you live anywhere near here, do drop
by and visit, you won't regret it.  Oh, and tuck a few diapers
(adult size medium)
under your arms or a kilo of rice or a papaya or 2
while you're at it.

We sat down and put together a list of estimated monthly expenses
(These numbers are approximate and fluctuate monthly and are in pesos, of course)
so everyone can see just what is entailed in keeping a
project like this afloat for only one month

Here's how it goes:

Food:  $18,000
Madre says she goes to the Joco mercado on Thursdays between 9:30 and 2
and many vendors give her 'gifts' of food for the patients.  I asked her what would happen if she didn't have any money at all and didn't get any donations from the vendors at the mercado.  She said she can call Don Juan  :)  at the tire shop on the highway and he will give her a few pesos.  If you see her at the mercado, please, buy her a bag of beans or something to add
to her weekly groceries.

Cleaning Supplies and Personal Items:   $18,000
That's toothpaste, soap, diapers and the like.
A diaper manufacturer donates very large bags of diapers to the Casa
and the WM Bodega in Joco collects  them for the Casa.  Each patient
requires a diaper at bedtime and 2 patients need them all day as well.
That's 8 or 10 a day, all going well.

Medicines:   $25,000
Yes, they buy generics.  Medical expenses fluctuate, for example the woman
who fell out of bed needed surgery and extra meds this month.  The elderly patients are on multiple medications for high blood pressure, diabetes etc.

2 Employees:   $16,000
They have 2 employees, a woman who cleans and helps the nuns and a
caretaker/gardener/handyman/watchman who lives with his small
family on the same property.

Gas for Cooking and Bathing:   $7,000
The place is immaculate!

Electricity:   $10,000 
That includes the washing machine that does 10 loads
of clothing and bedding a day - diapers leak!

Gasoline:   $4,000
Which includes taking patients like the woman on the right who fell out of bed
 and had to go to Hospital Civil in the middle of the night in Guad - as well as follow up.

For an approximate total of:
$98,000 pesos a month

One family of a patient is able to contribute $2000/month but the rest must all
be generated by the nuns.  No help from Guadalajara, no help from the priests
or the church in Guadalajara.  They are on their own!

I am working on a fundraiser at a friend's restaurant.  Please stay
tuned for more on that. 

In the meantime, any donations you are able to give can be dropped off at
La Casa or you can email me and I'll take it over. 

If you'd like to donate money you can paypal it to me and I will deliver it like
I did today.  You can get the info on the previous post, either click on the above
link, or go to the picture of the Casa on the right column of this blog and click
on the picture.

Don't be shy!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Ricky Rain Oct 2009

Who would think we'd be getting any fallout from Ricky,
being so far away and all.  But we are.

Sunday I was at Barb's house on the lake in San Cristóbal on the
south shore, and the wind was whippin'.  Churning up the lake and
producing not just white caps, but full-on 'surf's up!' waves. 
I had to wrap in a blanket - and that was IN the house. 
The roof tiles were chattering and some mysterious
fluttering noise was coming from the corner of the ceiling. 
Windows and doors were all open and it was wonderful.

That was Sunday, Monday was a 'nothing special' day weather wise.
Until last night. 

It's now 10AM, Tuesday, it is still raining and it rained most of the night.
Judging by my bird feeder/fountain/dengue petri dish,
we have received about an inch of rain from Ricky, total. 
It's not over yet.

Waiting to hear from Nancy in Mazatlan for her
report on Ricky. 
Nancy, you got some 'splain' to do!  Hope y'all are ok.


Monday, October 19, 2009

The Lake. The Lirio. The Pollution. And The Kayaking Quest To Know More. Oct. 2009

The Lake

Ajijic and Chapala from the air - photo by Gordon the Flying Gringo
Taken from the Amigos del Lago website.

Lake Chapala is a victim of 3 major problems:
The Lirio
The Polution
and - ergo - The Politics. . .

The Lirio.

More lirio.

From Amigos del Lago:

Water hyacinths, called 'lirio' in Spanish, are invasive plants that float on Lake Chapala and sometimes interfere with fishing, aquatic life, and recreational uses.  Lirio is an invasive weed found on many lakes in the world.  It thrives on bodies of water that are polluted.  The good news is that lirio absorbs heavy metals often found in polluted waters and makes them less available for fish and other water creatures to feed on.

The bad news is that lirio is hard to control since it can double in quantity every 15 days!  What would be the 'best' way to control the lirio is a controversial topic.  It can be:
  • Removed and hauled away.
  • Chopped up and left to decay
  • Harvested for fertilizer, compost, or animal feed
  • Sprayed with chemicals to dry it up or kill it, or
  • Eaten by natural predators introduced into the lake
Some of these methods create additional problems, while others are quite expensive to implement.

Ideally, all units of government would cooperate to implement a long-term strategy to reduce lirio by reducing the pollution going into the lake.  The Amigos del Lago, an organization, advocates using natural predators, such as weevils, to control the lirio.  They oppose using glyphosate (a Monsanto herbicide) and got a federal injunction against its use on Lake Chapala in 2006.  Nevertheless, the National Water Commission used glyphosate that year, when the lake was more than 30% covered by this invasive plant.

The Pollution
From the Amigos del Lago website.

According to Mexico’s National Water Commission (CNA), only 8% of the water in Lake Chapala is considered “acceptable.” The remaining 92% is either moderately or highly polluted.

Highly Contaminated

Moderately Polluted


Lake Chapala’s water contains high levels of E. Coli bacteria, from domestic waste. It also contains agricultural chemicals such as DDT, along with heavy metals that include copper, lead, chromium, zinc, and arsenic from industrial sites. One study of the discharges of nine water plants emptying directly into the lake found phosphorus levels 74 times higher than the USEPA standard.

The Kayaking Quest To Know More

Two residents of the Lake Chapala area, Xill Fessenden and Linda Richards - both artists and ecologists - have mounted an ambitious quest to gain more knowledge about the lake
and its environs.  They have begun a 'round-the-lake expedition by kayak and
will be documenting  and photographing their findings. 

They initially put in at 6 Corners in Ajijic and have completed legs, up to
and including, San Luis Soyatlan on the south shore. 
Weather permitting, they are due to put back in in San Luis this week
and travel for 2 days, camping overnight, in order to complete the next leg.
More to follow. . .

Mexican Trialrunner will be following them and posting their adventures 
as well as their findings when completed.  This is an awesome undertaking and they are to be congratulated for doing this.
Safe journey, ladies!

Stay tuned!  More information will be following. 
In the meantime,
please see the Amigos del Lago website for more information
and the results of their very hard work and dedication.

Friday, October 16, 2009

New Money! But wait. . . Oct. 2009

Have you seen our new 
Mexican 200 peso note yet?

It's pretty.

Green and rose colors, with finely detailed art work,
paying tribute to Miguel Hidalgo the father of independence
and cleverly secure from counterfeiters.

Even the Virgin de Guadalupe is pictured.

How cool.

The Banco de Mexico has issued only 50 million of these notes
in order to commemorate the upcoming bicentennial and
the 100 year anniversary of the start of
the Mexican Revolution.

They are expected to become collectors items. . .

Hold it! 

There is a naked lady on it!!!


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

And The Winner Is. . . Oct 2009

. . .drum roll!

First place goes to:  John Calypso - because he said 'healthy' cookies.

A VERY close second place goes to:  Norm - because he correctly identified them as cookies and surely these cookies do have flour, nuts, and butter in them.  No sugar.

And third place goes to:  Sparky because he correctly identified the town where they exist.  Now, is that fair, since he was actually there at the time?  I'll leave it up to ya'll.

These awesome cookies can be found on a regular basis in the village of Tapalpa at a panaderia that not one of us can recall the name of.  No surprise.

They are so healthy that they are almost a cracker.  Made with whole wheat flour, nuts and seeds and with only a little honey.  They have but a hint of sweetness, and are nonetheless crispy, crunchy, and delish.

The 3 women bakers have wonderful imaginations and are very creative, I would call them pastry chefs. They've obviously been professionally trained somewhere.

I've eaten there 3 times now, had a variety of goodies, and not been disappointed in anything so far.  They tend to use way less sugar and goo than normal Mexican panaderias.

These women have the AUDACITY to cool their baked goods on a dutch door shelf, just like grandma used to do, and one hardly needs directions from the plaza. 

To get there, start at the plaza, and walk about one block east on Morelos, which runs off the plaza.  Close to the DIF.

Follow your nose!!!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Friday, October 9, 2009

Through The Eyes Of A Visitor Oct. 2009

 A couple of weeks ago one of my best friends--and favorite paramedic partners--arrived at the airport in Guadalajara for a weeks visit.  I was SO happy to see her, it's been a long time and we've both lost our mothers and moved on into different lives since we last spent time together.

It was her first trip to REAL Mexico.  By that I mean not Cancun or PV or any other resort but to Jocotepec.  WHERE?  Jocotepec!  (Ho co teh pec')  My small working agricultural and ranchero pueblo on the west end of Lake Chapala, the largest lake in Mexico.

  These are some of her comments and observations:

 The lake is HUGE!

Look at the colors!  So beautiful!



Is this the way to the Old Gringo's Club?

OMG, is that blood on this wall?
What do they have, firing squads?
Yup, probably.


Look at that dog on the roof!
Yup, woof-dog, woof-dog.


Steph, taking it all in.


The kids here are amazing.  Some of them are just happy to be playing in the dirt!
They're so happy!

Is that a scorpion?
It's been 6 months since I've had a scorpion in my house.
Steph arrives - and what happens?  This guy strolls in.
Big enough to feed a family of 4.
Rivaled a crawdad in size, we could have made etouffee out of it!


I'm gonna redecorate the kid's rooms! 
I'll take this, and this, oh, and this one too.  And this!  And that!
In the end, she had to buy a big Mexican bag to bring
all her treasures home on the airplane.

This is the best lamb I've ever had!!!

Sure are a lot of characters here.


Last picture before leaving for the airport.

After she got home, she wrote. . .

. . ."The picture makes me want to cry. I can't describe how I feel now that I'm home. LOVED seeing Dave and the kids! But, the trip to Mexico really made me rethink priorities in my life. I think I had everything all wrong. I was scared as shit the first night with all the bottle-rockets going off, and you telling me your list of how not to die right away....But, when you took this picture, I really felt relaxed and appreciative. Life is what you make it, right? I honestly can't wait to come back. You're doing things right girl!"


We miss you, Steph.
Hurry back.  As usual, you touched the heart of everyone you met.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Tapalpa Festival - October. 17, 2009 Oct 2009

L to R:  Maria de las Mercedez Zamora (Administrator)
and Lic. Aida Hernandez (Director)

An extravagant festival is planned for Tapalpa
on the evening of 17th of October.

You will not want to miss this!

It will be the premier of a song entitled "Tapalpa" and performed by the famous
Mariachi Internacional

There will be Dancing Horses
Lariet Exhibitions
Food prepared by the Tapalpa ladies and served in the plaza
Exhibitions of traditional regional clothing
And much much more, not to mention the star of the show. . .
Tapalpa under the stars.

 Aida says:  "Come to Tapalpa on the 17th and sing with the people!"
She cautions that if you plan to spend the night, get your rooms booked asap.


More on Tapalpa - El Pueblo Mágico:


Don't miss a meal at La Troje
16 de Septembre #85 Altos
(01) 343 432 0783


 My pescado blanco cooked to perfection.

Check out this hotel:

La Casa de Maty

(I don't have personal experience at this hotel, 
but has been recommended by friends.)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Why Is This Policewoman Smiling? Oct 2009

It's been a week since I've blogged and I'm back - refreshed, inspired, and full of good new material.

So!  Why IS this policewoman smiling?  I know why. . .

Ok, I'll let you in on it.

First let me say, I'm a paramedic and after working many years in urban California EMS. . .I know a practical joke when I see one in the works!

While waiting on the street corner for my visiting friend Steph to finish taking some pictures in Ajijic, an evolving scenario caught my eye.

See the cop truck on the left, parked neatly at the curb?  About 5 minutes prior to this photo 2 beefy cops parked it there, got out, locked it, turned on their portable radios, and proceeded to walk to the tianguis (open air market) for a bit of downtime cruising and shopping.  Steph, who had been my paramedic partner in California, and I smiled to each other in remembrance of all the fairs and Art and Wine Festivals where we had done the same thing. 

Fast forward 5 minutes. . .

Cop car on the right pulls up and female cop exits the truck.  She then plants herself as look-out on the corner.  Male cop exits the vehicle and purposefully walks directly to the squad truck on the left, inserts long wire down the window into the door, and unlocks the vehicle.  He was IN this car in no more than 2 minutes!!!  Maybe 1.

While he sits in the car, 2 scenarios come to mind:

1.  He will sabotage the vehicle for his co-workers.  Jell the door handles, balance a bowl of water or flour on the visor, turn on all the radios to full volume, windshield wipers, all sirens and lights, and anything else he can think of to startle and embarrass his fellow cops when they turn on the ignition.

2.  Or he is going to move the vehicle and hide it.

I went over to talk to the female cop who chuckled and conspiratorially confirmed that a practical joke was in the works.  Some things never change.  And as they say. . .paybacks are a bitch.