Monthly Archives: March 2015

I Will Miss You Tlaquepaque

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I Will Miss You Tlaquepaque

I first arrived in Tlaquepaque on October 1, 2011. This is a quaint area that is part of the greater metropolis of Guadalajara. But it has the feel of a small Mexican town and it’s a short twenty minute bus ride to El Centro, an area I have come to know very well.

Tlaquepaque grows on you. I live in the colony of San Pedro, much to the envy of many people. And I will miss this neighborhood when I head back to Canada for a while. Yes, I will miss the climate, but it’s the people and the culture that I will miss the most.

In the morning should I decide I want eggs for breakfast, it’s only a few feet to a tienda. These small corner stores are packed with products. And they are oh so convenient!

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If I don’t feel like cooking, Vic down the street cooks awesome burgers and another street vendor offers an array of tacos, gorditas and tostados. Another lady has wonderful tortas ahogadas. There is a stand with fresh juices. And the tamale truck drives by regularly. Ice cream vendors walk by constantly, and churros are just around the corner.

The people are all so friendly and greetings of Buenos Dias and Buenas Noches are the norm. My neighbor Carlos is always out walking his dogs. People sit out on their doorsteps and congregate on street corners. It is safe to walk the streets here, day and night.

A number of buses stop on the corner of my street regularly. The Zeta gas truck and the water truck drive by frequently. And it is not uncommon to see horses and wagons come by my house as well as cars.

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The Jardin Hidalgo is a ten minute walk from my house. The kiosko often comes alive with music in the evenings, and the street vendors are out in full force. My favorite incense shop is one of the many small shops near the garden. In one direction is the famed El Parian, and in the other direction is the popular Calle Independencia. Tourists flock to this area, especially on the weekends and during the winter months. Artesans display their wares and there are fabulous restaurants and bars in abundance. There is also a ceramics museum.

Also within a few blocks of my house is the El Refugio Cultural Center. The entertainment and displays here are amazing and there is often no charge for admission.

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My second home away from home is a small coffee shop called Jahanve. My friend Claudia brews awesome coffee and her culinary talents are most impressive. I have spent many happy hours over the years here with friends, and Timmie’s in Winnipeg cannot hold a candle to Jahanve.

I will also miss the music of my favorite band Barbershop. Amazing renditions of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Creedence Clearwater Revival are only part of their repertoire.

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I will miss the awesome museums and beautiful parks in Guadalajara. There are gorgeous statues and fountains in abundance on the streets here. The zoo is spectacular and boasts a sky ride and a safari ride.But my favorite retreat is Parque Mirador. The view of the canyon is beyond breathtaking.

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And last, but definitely not least, I will miss my students. Eager to learn and appreciative of my efforts, the hours have flown by all too quickly.  I have taught in private schools, language institutes and companies. My students have included accountants, doctors, lawyers, engineers, computer geeks, business people, teenagers and young children. Hours filled with animated conversation and grammar have sped by all too quickly. We have played games, had competitions, have decorated classrooms for holidays and have even tie-dyed T shirts.

It’s with a heavy heart that I will board a plane one month from today to return to Winnipeg. Today the weather up north is stormy—–snow and freezing rain. I sincerely hope that this will all have disappeared by the end of April.

But I will be returning to Mexico. This country is where my heart lies now. What was to be a one year venture has extended instead to almost five years. And I look forward to many more years here.

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The Countdown Is On

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I can’t believe that my time is almost up in Mexico. It seems like only yesterday I arrived in Rosarito, and yet it was almost a year and a half ago.

I had fully intended to settle down in the Baja. However, after a week of unsuccessful attempts at finding an apartment, I decided that maybe Rosarito just wasn’t the place to hang my hat. While the beach definitely had its appeal, the idea of living in a poor man’s Vallarta did not.

After a spectacular bus ride through the mountains and a rather tedious journey south, I arrived in Culiacan in the face of hurricane warnings. But instead I was greeted by hot, humid and sunny weather. I spent a few days visiting with my Mexican family and then headed for Guadalajara.

I rented an apartment in the same house as I had the year before. I was home. My favorite tiendas and taco stands were still here. The neighbors were the same. The only difference was the newly paved sidewalks and streets, most welcome after having had knee surgery. I quickly and easily found a job teaching in a language institute, and the time has just flown by all too quickly.

My life here in Mexico has for the most part been comfortable and fulfilling, despite the challenges of obtaining a work visa and health care coverage. The stress level is significantly lower due to the slower pace of life. There’s always another bus, there’s always another train, there’s always another day.

I enjoy my classes and have amazingly delightful students. The learning experience has been reciprocal, and my students have taught me a great deal about life in general, not just life in Mexico. And I am so grateful to have had this wonderful opportunity over the past few years.

It was extremely difficult to book that flight back to Winnipeg. While I am excited about seeing my family and friends, as well as my book launch, I am not looking forward to the flurry of other activities that await me. After a prolonged absence, there are medical appointments and financial planning that require my attention.

But I am determined to focus on the more positive aspects of returning to Winnipeg. My son had a house built a couple of years ago and his yard is now finished. I have a lot of catching up to do with friends as a lot has happened in the time I’ve been away. There is a new museum I want to visit. IKEA is applying for a liquor licence and Target has come and gone. In lieu of my usual online church service while here in Mexico, it will be great to attend in person. I plan on going to some of my favorite restaurants with my friends. And a cemetery visit is definitely on the agenda to see family who have passed on.

But today is a beautiful, sunny day here in Mexico and my laundry is drying outside on the line. And I will venture out shortly to my favorite incense shop and then spend some time in the Jardin Hidalgo before I teach my afternoon classes.

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A Park, A Book and A Journal

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It’s a beautiful sunny day and I’m thinking of a million different things I should be doing this morning. I should do some laundry. I should pick up a few groceries. I should, I should, I should. But I won’t. Instead I pack up a book, my journal and of course my cell phone and I head to the park.

I use the term “park” quite loosely. There are very few trees here and there are no flowers. But there are tables and benches more conducive to writing or reading.

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There are two basketball courts across from the table where I am sitting. Interestingly enough, I have never seen anyone play basketball here. Instead, the game of choice is soccer.

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The swings, slides and climbers are always popular among the children.

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But I sit here at a table, alternating between reading a book and writing in my journal. The shouts of the children and the roar of buses passing by are acceptable background noises. Occasionally a dog comes by to check me out and people passing by often greet me with “Buenas Tardes”.

The book I am reading today is about a family in Dublin. The father, an abusive alcoholic, disappears one night and is never heard from again. The wife is left alone to cope with three teenage sons who are resentful and bitter and have turned to a life of crime.

In my journal I am writing about feelings; mainly how I am tired of always trying to do the right thing and banging my head against a brick wall every time. That’s what it feels like. But it’s difficult to look the other way when you see others hurting, despite the fact that they are never there for you when you are in pain. And then they totally ignore your attempts to reach out to them. Life is just too damn short and every moment is precious. Maybe it’s time to change my focus.

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My thoughts are interrupted by the chime of my cell phone. Apparently my daily horoscope has arrived. Groaning inwardly, I hesitantly tap the “ignore” icon and glance at the time. How could the hours have passed by so quickly? Reluctantly, I return my journal and book to my backpack. My students await and I have classes to teach. Life in Dublin and pondering my feelings will have to wait for another time. 

 

So I Went To Manzanillo

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So I Went To Manzanillo

I love my life in Mexico. Tlaquepaque is a delightful place to live. The one drawback is that there is no beach close by. By bus it’s just over five hours to Puerto Vallarta or seven hours to Mazatlan. I decided that the time had come to explore new beaches.

I headed for Central Nueva and boarded a bus for Manzanillo. I enjoyed the scenery as we traveled out of Jalisco and into the state of Colima.

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As well as a popular tourist destination, Manzanillo is also a major cargo port and has a small malecon. The Centro area is that of a typical Mexican puebla with a sizeable mercado and streets lined with small tiendas. 

I stayed at a hotel in the hotel zone area. There was very little within walking distance of the hotel itself; only a small mall and a few taquerias. However when I stepped out of my room, the view was spectacular.

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Steps down from the pool was the beach. The red flags were out and the tide was high. But I really did enjoy the sound of the waves crashing against the shore. This beautiful music lulled me to sleep at night and woke me from dreamland in the morning.

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I also enjoyed seeing the ships at a distance. Some were fishing trawlers and others were cargo. There were no cruise ships in view in the time I was there. Here are photos I took at sunset.

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 There is something so peaceful and serene about watching the sun slowly disappear from view in the evening. Do you agree?