The Second Decade

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The Second Decade

There was so much hype about the new millennium. Would all our computers really crash? Would an earthquake cause California to fall into the ocean? Would the world as we know it come to an end? Thankfully none of these crazy predictions came true.

The first decade in the millenium was an ugly one for me. Plagued with both physical as well as mental health issues, I also faced the loss of my beloved dog Koal followed shortly thereafter by the ending of a more than three decades old marriage.

Along came the second decade of the millenium and life became amazingly brighter. I embarked on a new career in a foreign country where I immersed myself in the culture and learned a new language.

And the people I’ve met, the places I’ve been and the adventures I’ve had! These totally crowd out the two knee replacements and the cataract surgery during this decade. However, the new knees have enabled me to walk for miles pain free. And the eye surgery has eliminated the need for glasses. So even unpleasant experiences have resulted in an increased quality of life.

This decade also marked the marriage of my daughter and the birth of my granddaughter. Tomorrow I am on my way to Ontario to meet Madeline and I am extremely excited. She will be just over six weeks old and this abuelita can’t wait to hold her!

In my travels and throughout the years I am frequently asked “Where’s home?”  I’m never quite sure just what to say. My son’s words echo in my mind constantly. “You’re a nomad.”

Culiacan was where I spent my first year in Mexico. Juan and Lucila came into my life and adopted me. Their children have become my grandsons and I can’t imagine a life without them. I visit them often and always feel “at home” when I stay with them. I’m actually writing this post from Culiacan and am sitting in their living room right now.

Guadalajara was home for almost four years. If the city had an ocean I may never have left. This was also where Pedro came into my life. What are the chances of an orthopedic surgeon winding up in my conversation club shortly after my second knee surgery? Our friendship developed and it was Pedro who found me the opthamologist who did my cataract surgery. Pedro and his wife welcomed me into their home when I had the surgery as I was commuting from Mazatlan (indeed their daughter even gave up her bedroom to me on more than one occasion) and that meant the world to me. So that’s another home here in Mexico.

I’m just finishing year three in Mazatlan. It’s been great but I also don’t feel that this city is home for me. Next fall I plan on traveling for a few months and not really settling down in any one place here in Mexico. I will miss the malecon and the ocean, but I can always come back to visit.

I’m well into this post and you’re probably wondering why I don’t mention Winnipeg as a home. After all I lived there all my life until about eight years ago. And my son still lives there. But each time I return for a visit, Winnipeg feels less and less like a place I’d like to call home. The city has changed and so have I.

This then brings me to Leavenworth, another place that feels like home to me. In the fall of 2018 I was at the Vineyard Church making sandwiches for the dump tour. Across the table from me was Steve. Sandwiches done, a few of us went across the street for coffee afterwards. Steve told us he was from Leavenworth, a town just outside of Seattle, a town I’d never heard of before.

The following summer, my two week visit to Leavenworth turned into four months. I became active at a church there and made a few friends. And I was totally captivated by the splendor of the mountains.

I returned to Mexico for the winter and then went to Winnipeg to spend Mother’s Day with my son. Next stop was Leavenworth where this time I stayed for six months. Not only was I active at the church, but I discovered the Senior Center and all the activities it had to offer. I also got certified as a fitness instructor and began teaching classes. Friendships grew stronger and I look forward to spending several more months there this year.

But the idea of putting down roots again is scary and intimidates me. I have lived in a variety of different places with an interesting assortment of people during this decade. I’m really not sure if I’m ready to settle down yet although it’s getting more and more difficult to say goodbye to people when I’m uncertain as to where the next path will lead me.

This decade is not over yet so I will continue to live in the moment and live my life to the fullest whomever I may be with and wherever I may be. 

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Feliz Pascua….Happy Easter!

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Feliz Pascua….Happy Easter!

The year is 2009 and it is my first Easter living on my own in Winnipeg. It’s been just over two months since my marriage ended. And it’s also my daughter’s birthday. I am living in a cramped one bedroom apartment and have decided to have my kids over for Easter dinner. Kyle is bringing Krista and Kimmy is having dinner with a friend and they are joining us for dessert.

When I moved out, my children insisted that they weren’t interested in any of my English bone china so it all went to an antique auction, as did all the silver they didn’t want either. In anticipation of this dinner, I had gone to a thrift store and picked up four dinner plates and cutlery. Until then I’d been using paper and plastic.

Kyle and Krista had already arrived when my phone rang. It was Kimmy with a change of plans. She and her friend would be joining us for dinner after all. I was delighted but asked that she bring along another dinner plate and some cutlery as there would now be five of us.

When they arrived, I was struggling to prepare a batter for Kimmy’s birthday cake. My ex had dropped my Kitchen Aid when I moved out and it was jammed. Kimmy laughingly picked up a whisk and beat the batter by hand.

We had a wonderful dinner together and sat around talking for quite some time after. And then out came the family photo albums. We all had a great time looking at baby pictures and other memories surfaced as we came across photos taken at such places as Disneyworld and The Alamo.

The year is now 2018 and my tenth Easter on my own. I woke up to a brilliantly sunny day here in Mazatlan. I attended a mass at the Cathedral although I am not Catholic. Then a friend and I went out for brunch to a small Mexican restaurant. We sat in the Plazuela Republica afterwards, listening to a guitarist. Later on today I am meeting friends at another Mexican restaurant for dinner. I also look forward to strolling along the malecon and listening to the waves.

As wonderful as it is here today in Mexico, I would give anything for even just two minutes more with my children back in 2009.

Happy Easter to all of my readers. Enjoy your day with your loved ones.

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A Typical Day

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A Typical Day

Friends from Leavenworth are here in Mazatlan. In our conversation, Dwayne asked me what a typical day for me here is like. Now that is definitely something to ponder. 

We lounged around the pool all day after a sumptuous brunch. While it was a most enjoyable day, Sunday was certainly not a typical day. Rarely do I soak in the rays for hours on end and bask in the sunshine.

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Yesterday was Thursday. I had some errands to run and headed into Centro. Waldo’s was a zoo as usual and the mercado was quite crowded. My next stop was a small cantina where I enjoyed a delicious torta. I always seek out these places where the Mexicans go and am never disappointed in the authentic Mexican cuisine.

I was thinking of going to El Recreo to see a movie after lunch. But I never got there. As I was strolling through Plazuela Republica, I saw some friends from YWAM where I volunteer. The art students were displaying their talent and sharing their testimonies about how they came to Christ. Here are photos of some of the artists and their creations.

Plazulea Zaragoza is another park a few short blocks from where I’m staying this winter. To my delight I could hear the strains of music as I approached. I sat down on a bench and watched a crowd of people salsa dancing. This is a weekly activity here. I was tired from shopping so I opted to watch and not participate.

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When I finally got home, I decided to rest for a while and then venture out for a walk along the malecon. Instead I wound up editing a chapter in my book and then coloring. Yes, I am hopelessly addicted to adult coloring books. Very relaxing.

Next came a couple of phone calls to friends back in Washington. We’re in the same time zone now as Mexico has not moved the clocks ahead yet. Calls to my kids are a little more tricky as they are two and three hours ahead. The time changes here on April 1st.

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It’s now Friday. Breakfast plans with Delmar fell through as did a trip to the aquarium. I just returned from having delicious pozole at my friend Koren’s and am in writing mode. Friends and music are on the agenda for tonight as well as a walk along the malecon. But that could change too. We’ll see how the writing goes.

If there is an event where tickets are required, those times are carved in stone on my calendar. Otherwise, anything and everything is possible.

A typical day.

It’s A Long Weekend Here

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It’s A Long Weekend Here

The birthday of Benito Juarez is celebrated here in Mexico as a public holiday on the third Monday in March. Schools, banks and government offices are closed. But everything else is open. As a matter of fact, today is also a cruise ship day here in Mazatlan when throngs of people will descend on this city crowding the streets, shops and restaurants. I will be headed into the Gold Zone later on as I have some errands and shopping to do. And a movie at El Recreo is in the plans for tonight.

But let’s return to the start of the weekend. On Friday night I attended a marvellous performance of Romeo and Juliet at the Angela Peralta Theater. The dancers were from the Ballet de Jalisco.

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On Saturday morning I went to the Organic Market at Zaragoza Park. It is winding down for the season as the snowbirds are leaving now because Easter is so early this year. Then it was off to Playa Brujas for coffee at Looney Bean and a stroll along the boardwalk with various hawkers trying to entice us into buying their wares. Then it was off to Sabalo Country to Casa del Camarones for some green tequila. After all it was St. Patrick’s Day.

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A delicious lunch at Fat Fish was next. Despite the name of the restaurant, they are renowned for their ribs. Then it was off to a friend’s home in Playa Sur.

The highlight Saturday was the display of fireworks for the Festival of Lights. We sat on the beach and watched this colorful display over the ocean. Very different from watching fireworks back on the flat prairies of Manitoba.

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Yesterday I spent the day with my friends from Leavenworth. They were staying out at Torres in the marina area where we enjoyed a lovely brunch and then a relaxing afternoon by the pool. This is the view from their condo balcony.

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Long weekends here pass by all too quickly. As an added bonus the sunny skies and warm temperatures are back. This will be my last long weekend in Mexico for a while as I am headed up north next month. I wonder what I’ll be doing and where I will be when the next long weekend rolls around.

Who Still Likes To Fly?

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Who Still Likes To Fly?

I used to love to travel. But that was before you had to arrive at the terminal several hours before flight time. Before your bags had a weight limit or a charge attached to them. Before your carry-on became more and more limited in size and number. Before you had to place your electronic devices in separate trays. Before liquids were limited in size. Before sharp objects were outlawed. Before you had to go through body scanners. My knee replacements always trigger their alerts when I walk through the security area.

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I even recall a time when passports were not necessary in order to board a flight. I recall flying solo as a teenager before I even had a driver’s license and the only ID I had was the card they give you when you buy a wallet. Yes I even remember a time when the staff at Customs and Immigration smiled and made you feel welcome when you returned home to Canada.

A few months ago I flew back to Winnipeg after being away for a couple of years. And they ripped me apart. They went through my suitcase and my backpack. They asked me all kinds of questions that I considered were an invasion of my privacy. When the officer commented that I didn’t really spend much time in Canada, my reply was “With a welcome like this, why would I come back more often?”

Mexico has a system where you press a button and getting either a green or red light. In the past seven plus years I’ve always gotten the green light and I hope this continues until this system is phased out in the next couple of years.

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It’s getting a little trickier flying in to the USA since Trump has been around. But for the most part the American officials have been much more friendly than their Canadian counterparts.

I just booked a flight the other day with Interjet, an airline I have never flown with before. I’m off to Toronto to meet my new granddaughter.  I haven’t gone through Customs and Immigration in Toronto in a couple of years but I do recall long lineups in the past. But first I have a layover in Mexico City. The last time I was at that airport was eight years ago, and I expect that it has changed tremendously.

Yes, flying today is certainly more challenging today. But I still love the thrill of racing down the runway at take-off and that upward climb into the wild blue yonder………….. 

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What A Week Or Two!

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What A Week Or Two!

February has been more of a countdown for me. You see, I’d been expecting the birth of a new grandchild and it finally happened on Monday the 26th of February when Madeline Annette made her debut in this world. Exciting! Lots of international phone calls and what’s app messages. My daughter has requested that I post no photos on the internet but I will tell you that Madeline is absolutely adorable and I can hardly wait until next month to meet her when I return to Canada. How the times have changed. I completely understand my daughter’s reluctance to post photos. There was no cyberspace when my children were born, and the idea of complete strangers viewing photos of my granddaughter is quite daunting. However I have been able to show pics to people here in Mazatlan and when I return to Leavenworth in May I will be able to show everyone there numerous photos of Madeline.

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The artesan fair is here in Mazatlan and the timing is perfect. Of course I was on the hunt for baby items and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a pink world out there for babies, even here in Mexico. And my daughter’s favorite color was always pink. Whenever we traveled to the USA Oshkosh was where we’d find pink jeans and pink overalls.

Needless to say, I’ve been finding other things to distract me from the fact that I won’t be headed back to Canada for over a month yet. I went to my weekly Tuesday card games where it was nice to take a break from having my cell phone attached to my ear.

We went to Diego’s to hear some great music by Marco and The Truth. Another unexpected event captured our attention that afternoon. It has been cold and extremely windy here in Mazatlan. The view of the beach was distorted by the sight of a catamaran straggling toward the beach. Thankfully all the passengers had been rescued with only minor injuries reported. We were all quite surprised that the catamaran had even ventured out when all the red flags were clearly visible all up and down the beach. By the following morning, this vessel was in pieces on the beach. Here’s a shot I snagged as people crowded the beach watching this spectacle.

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I also enjoy the weekly jazz jam sessions at El Recreo. While the regular musicians are primarily snowbirds, there are also locals who show up as well. These musical hours are most enjoyable.

My favorite theater is the Platino at Galarias. Comfortable reclining seats, as well as food and beverage service at your seat are great features. Operation Red Sparrow was a great movie, although a little high on the blood and gore for me.

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 I have attended several concerts this winter. I have described some of them in previous blog posts, but the month of March has so far been a whirlwind of amazing performances.

Last Friday we went to a percussion concert at Angela Peralta. In addition to the usual drums, these talented musicians used a variety of household items and textures to create some very interesting sounds.

On Saturday the venue was La Chupiteria to hear some big band music.

Last night, tonight and tomorrow night the concerts are for the Guitar Festival. The ensemble of eight play a variety of classical and contemporary music. The musicians are from Mexico, Cuba and Uruguay. And there is no admission charge for these performances!

This Friday we are attending a dance performance at Angela Peralta. This troupe aspires to tour internationally but the admission charge is a mere 120 pesos or $8 Canadian.

Next weekend the ballet of Romeo and Juliet is on the agenda, again at Angela Peralta. And I cannot even begin to list the other cultural events happening, although the jazz festival is just around the corner.

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But I will publish this post before I get distracted once again.

February……. A Dreary Month?

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February……. A Dreary Month?

This is my eighth winter in Mexico and I can’t recall ever having such dreary weather. Clouds have permeated the skies all month, what the weather forecasters here term as “intermittent clouds.”  My heart goes out to the tourists who have come for only a week or two. It has also been unusually cold in the evenings. I can’t remember the last time I walked along the malecon at night without a sweatshirt. And some of those ocean breezes are quite strong as well.

What do you do in Mazatlan when the weather is so grim? There is a lot to do here aside from indulging in tequila or cerveza at the local cantina. It’s true that there are restaurants and bars in abundance. But February has been the perfect month to immerse oneself in the Mexican culture.

One of my favorite places here in Centro is the Plazuela Machado. While the days are relatively quiet aside from cruise ship days, the nights come alive with a flurry of activity. Music resonates from the numerous restaurants in the square. There are often musicians and dancers performing in the square itself. Vendors have their stalls resplendent with jewelry, clothing and souvenirs. Traffic is quite congested as pulmonias and taxis clog the narrow streets. And holidays find colorful displays of lights and festive decorations.

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Teatro Angela Peralta is conveniently located just off the square. The variety of entertainment here is absolutely amazing. Sunday afternoons feature classical music. I attended a concert of Handel’s water music and the renowned Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra pales in comparison to this performance. On Friday night I attended Los Diez Pianos and was totally enchanted with the music and the vocalists.

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Another favorite venue is El Recreo. I’ve gone to movies and jazz jam sessions here. There are a variety of other activities such as travelogues, fashion shows, yoga, Spanish classes and other musical events that are held here. Also popular is a book swap. The snowbirds all flock to El Recreo during the winter.

Museo de Arte is home to numerous musical and dance performances. Many are free or charge a nominal admission fee. I even attended a play there where the dialogue was entirely in Spanish. Tonight I’ll be going to a guitar festival.

Of course February began with a bang with the celebration of Carnaval. Over half a million people lined the streets to attend the main parade. I also went to the second parade and it too was crowded. The fireworks were awesome and the music was excellent, highlighted by a performance by BandaMS. There were other events held at various places as well. Busloads of tourists came to Mazatlan for this popular festival.

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I did escape to sunshine and soaring temperatures one weekend when I went to Culiacan to spend time with my family. It’s interesting how you go a few miles inland and north and the humidity drops and the heat rises. We spent quite a few hours outdoors as we were at an event at my grandson’s school, the same school where I taught when I first came to Mexico. In this photo my grandson is sporting his medal.

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I belong to a Red Hat group and we get together for lunch twice a month. We all wear purple and red clothing and jewelry. We even accessorize our purses and wallets in these colors. We go to different restaurants and always have our photo taken.

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I also belong to the Mazatlan Solo Snowbird group. In addition to the monthly meet and greet, this past week we went on a day trip to El Quelite. This charming town is one of the magic towns in Mexico and we are transported back in time to a place where the natural beauty has been preserved and there is not an Oxxo in sight.

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I also volunteer in a kitchen at a Christian mission in my neighborhood. At the moment there are approximately 150 young adults from countries all over the world. Some live at the mission and study there. Others come and go for days or weeks. The program offered provides a wonderful opportunity for people to experience life in another culture.

I still play Hand and Foot with my friends out in Sabalo Country. I had never heard of this game until I arrived in Mazatlan almost three years ago. Until then I had only been an ardent bridge player up north, especially in Leavenworth.

One of my neighbor’s has a catering company. In addition to buying delicious prepared food from her, I enjoy her weekly luncheons. In the past there had been a mixed market, but it has evolved more into a social gathering place and a book swap.

If there were more hours in a day, I could be playing bridge and cribbage. I could be attending numerous fundraisers and musical events. I could be spending hours on the beach daily instead of the mere one day at Stone Island earlier this month. I could be doing more exploring on my own although I did get to Villa Union a couple of weeks ago. I could go more often to the air-conditioned malls.

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However I am determined to focus more on my writing. When I am at home, I am working on my book or on a blog post, except for the courses I take on the internet through coursera. I just completed a course from Stanford on nutrition and this week I start a course on relationships from University of Toronto.

The weather this month may have been dreary, but my life certainly is far from dreary.