Monthly Archives: April 2015

Back In The Peg

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Back In The Peg

It’s Sunday and I’m back in Winnipeg, or Winterpeg as it’s so commonly called. Only this time there is no snow on the ground. And the temperature climbed to a balmy 20 degrees Celsius, almost as high as our night-time lows in Mexico.

My flights back to Canada were uneventful and actually quite enjoyable. On the flight from Puerto Vallarta to Calgary, my seatmate turned out to be a man from Guadalajara who didn’t speak English. I was pleased that I got to practice my Spanish and was able to help him with the customs forms.

I had a six hour wait in Calgary for my next flight and drank way too much coffee in an attempt to stay awake. I also ran the batteries down on my iPhone, my Blackberry and my laptop. But the flight took off promptly on schedule despite the need to deice the plane. Yes, Canada is not quite as warm as Mexico.

Inside the terminal, my bag was one of the first to come down the chute. David was there to meet me and we headed to Tim Hortons for breakfast. 

Breakfast was yummy but very different from my usual at Jahanve in Tlaquepaque.

I’m staying with my friends Donna and Loris now. It has been so great catching up on everything. As an added bonus, their granddaughter Ella was here. When I left for Mexico she was an infant. Now she walks and talks and just turned two!

Tomorrow all my appointments start and this will be a hectic week. Doctors, dentist, financial planner……….that’s what happens when I stay away for such a long period of time.

Of course the highlight is my book launch next week, and I look forward to seeing old friends as well as new at this event.

Alive Again

 

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A Whirlwind Visit

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A Whirlwind Visit

While I have lived in Guadalajara for most of the past four years, I have never been to Sayulita or Bucerias before. I am currently en route from Mazatlan to Puerto Vallarta to catch a flight home to Winnipeg, and arrived in Sayulita last night for a very short visit with Debbie.

I met Debbie in Guadalajara when she was a housemate for a few days. She bought a house here in Sayulita and has opened a bed and breakfast. Casa Nube is an enchanting place to stay, and I hope to return for a longer visit.

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Debbie is quite the equestrian and here is a photo of her horse that she boards at a ranch here.

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Debbie’s friend Melaney is also here. Melane and I had coffee in Bucerias this morning while Debbie was at her Spanish class. Then we all enjoyed a delightful lunch at a restaurant and were entertained by these musicians who wandered in off the street.

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Bucerias is very quaint, and is a popular expat community. Here are a few candid photos.

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Early tomorrow morning I will be on the road again. I hope to return to Sayulita for a longer visit when I’ll have the opportunity to take some photos of the lovely beach and the centro area.

Reunion in Mazatlan!

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I’m in Mazatlan now and this visit is very different from the usual ones. When I come to this beach area I usually stay at Hotel Playa Mazatlan in the Gold Zone. I spend my days on the beach and my evenings in restaurants and bars in the area. This is vacation time.

View from my room April 16th

However this time I am venturing out of the Gold Zone and the tourist attractions. I am staying with a friend at her condo in a gated community out in the Marina Mazatlan area. It’s extremely quiet and peaceful here, in comparison with the traffic and activity which I am accustomed to.

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And we are relaxing and catching up on the past twenty-five years. Yes…….it’s been twenty-five years since we have last seen each other!

When I was first married, my ex and Larysa’s husband worked together for a while. We saw quite a bit of each other during that time. But then we drifted apart as life circumstances intervened. We last saw each other when our sons wound up at the same high school. So we have found quite a lot to talk about! 

It turns out that Larysa and Brian have had this condo for seven years and have been spending the winters here. And I started coming to Mazatlan when I first began teaching in Culiacan back in 2010. 

Our lives have changed so much in the past twenty-five years. Our children have grown up and are in their thirties. Larysa has four adorable grandchildren!

I updated her on my children, and my grandkitties and grandfishies. Unfortunately my two children live in two different provinces and I’m in Mexico, so I envy Larysa as her family all live in Calgary now.

It has just been the most incredible experience to reunite with a friend after such a long period of time. But it’s very true what they say:

Thank you Facebook for reuniting us! Larysa messaged me a few months ago when my name came up as a suggested friend. And these past couple of days have been truly amazing! And I know that we will see each other again before another twenty-five years goes by.

The Adventure Began Here

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The Adventure Began Here

I am back in Culiacan visiting with my family right now. This is where my adventure all began with my first teaching job in Mexico. The plan was to teach for only one school year. Yet here it is, almost five years later, and I am still teaching in Mexico. When I left Culiacan, I taught briefly in Irapuato. But I have spent most of the past four years in Guadalajara. I lived in San Pedro, a quaint colony in Tlaquepaque. This was like living in a small Mexican town, although it is only minutes away by bus from the hustle and bustle of El Centro.

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Culiacan is in the state of Sinaloa. The climate here is much hotter and humid. But the air is so much clearer here than in Guadalajara. There is no ugly cloud of pollution hanging over the city. Traffic is lighter and the streets are cleaner.

I lived in Las Quintas, and that neighborhood hasn’t changed much over the years. But what has changed is ME! Here is a photo of me in my school uniform taken five years ago. I hardly recognize myself!!!!!

In Staff room at Senda 2011

When I lived in Culiacan, I taught with Juan at Instituto Senda del Rio. He helped me with my Spanish and I helped him with his English. He and his wife Lucila literally adopted me into their family. At the time, they had one child, Juan Carlos. Their family has grown and I now have three amazing nietos. 

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Juan and Lucila were already at work when I arrived on Wednesday, so my friend Juan Pablo picked me up at the bus station. We went to his house where his mom made an awesome breakfast of machaca, tamales and frijoles. His sister stopped by and we all went to Forum, the big mall here in Culiacan. We browsed, had coffee and then it was time for lunch. Here is a photo of Juan Pablo and his mom at Via Verde.

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Later on in the afternoon Juan Pablo drove me to Juan and Lucila’s. We barely had time to unload my luggage and it was time for Juan Carlos’s soccer practice.

We stopped for raspados after. When we came home I finally had a chance to give the kids the bags of candy, toy cars and bubbles I had brought them. Here is a photo of Juan Carlos and Jose Agustin blowing bubbles. 

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Yesterday I went back to visit Instituto Senda Del Rio. This school will always have a special place in my heart. It was nice to see former colleagues and catch up. And a great deal of the conversation was in Spanish now. While I am not yet fluent, I have definitely come a long way.

The time here is flying by all too quickly. On Monday I leave for Mazatlan. I treasure every moment I spend with my family and friends here in Culiacan, and always look forward to coming home.

Don’t Sleep Nude and Keep A Bag Packed By Your Bed

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When I first came to Mexico almost five years ago, people cautioned me against sleeping in the nude and told me to keep a bag packed by my bed at night, just in case. I had forgotten all about that warning until just after six this morning when I found myself out on the street clad only in a beach cover-up and crocs, with my cell phone and keys in my pocket. Yes, the beach cover-up was the first thing I grabbed when I heard my housemate thunder down the stairs screaming that he smelled gas and that we had to get out of our house.

A loud crash had awakened my other housemates, although I had slept through it. Apparently a driver had lost control of his vehicle before crashing into this house.

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The sleepy occupants climbed over the wall to get out into the street. Meanwhile the truck spun around and continued down the street where it sheared off our water meter, struck the main gas line and then came to a stop on top of a hydro pole. The driver sat bleeding on the sidewalk until an ambulance showed up twenty-five minutes later. Rumor has it that the man has since died.

The above photos were taken later in the morning when it was light out.

Back to 6 am now. I sat there on the curb with my neighbor Carlos and his two dogs. I thought of my laptop, my life, back in my room. I thought of all my identification and my bank cards left behind. And I tried not to think of the worst case scenario in which everything would be blown to bits by that gas leak. So many items that would be extremely difficult if not impossible to replace. And I silently vowed that I would have a backpack with these items by my bed at night from now on.

I’m a people watcher by nature. I noticed that residents were quite animated and more concerned with their homes being looted by the police than they were with their homes being blown to bits by a gas explosion. And in our haste to flee we had left our doors open! Fortunately for us there were some honest police near our house. One even went back to lock our door.

The street was like a war zone — a blur of flashing lights, debris everywhere, downed power lines, water in the streets, the putrid odor of gas. 

Later in the morning, I snapped more photos of the devastation. In the following photo you can see some of the downed power lines requiring repair.

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In the photo above you can see the damage to our house where the car hit and sheared off the water meter.

Late in the afternoon, the gas, water and electricity were restored. So apparently things can get done efficiently and quickly here in Mexico, although it is a rarity.

There just never is a dull moment on Calle Zalatitan!

Lago Chapala, Jalisco

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Lake Chapala is a short drive from Guadalajara. If you are from Manitoba, you will understand my comparison of Lake Chapala-Ajijic to Winnipeg Beach-Gimli. Except that the water at Lake Chapala is disappearing from the lake! Three years ago when I first visited this area, it looked like this.

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Today it looks like this.

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However it is still a lovely place for a day trip from Guadalajara. And Lake Chapala also boasts a large expat community. English is widely spoken here as well. A large WalMart is minutes away, in between Lake Chapala and Ajijic, another large expat community. There are numerous restaurants, shops and businesses. I enjoy walking along the malecon and strolling through the tianguis. 

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I decided to play tourist on this visit and made my way to the Chapala Inn, my favorite lunch spot right on the lake. Here I purchased a ticket for the Chapala Express, a quaint trolley that tours the streets of Chapala and then proceeds on to Ajijic. The tour is given in Spanish and I was amazed at how much I understood. And the tour went by a sports park and a cultural centre that I had never seen before. 

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I also spent some time in the church. I love rambling around in old churches in Mexico. The architecture is amazing, as well as the stained glass, art and statues. Fortunately there were few people there so I was able to take quite a few photos. I always limit my photos when there are lots of people focused on prayer.

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On my way back to the bus station, I stopped for a quesadilla and a cerveza by the square. The shade was very welcome and I sat for a while, enjoying the scenery.

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All too soon it was time to head back to the city. The bus station was bustling with activity and the buses were crowded. I boarded a direct bus and was blessed with air-conditioning. Traffic was surprisingly light and an hour later I was back in Guadalajara.

Calle Independencia, Tlaquepaque

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Calle Independencia, Tlaquepaque

One of my favorite streets in Tlaquepaque is Calle Independencia. This pedestrian pathway bustles with activity and music day and night. It is bordered by Ninos Heroes on one end and El Jardin Hidalgo on the other.

I began my stroll on Ninos Heroes, with an Oxxo on the corner and a chicken rotisserie across from it. There is no escaping Oxxo. These stores are everywhere. I then passed a shoe store and found myself in front of Tlaquepulque. No visit to Tlaquepaque is complete without a sampling of pulque, a specialty here.

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Steps later I arrived at the junction of Ejercito, an area resplendent with bars and music. The first of many statues along this street are also found here.

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I then continued along past restaurants, shops and a ceramic museum until I came across these guys.
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There are so many other fabulous ones like these, so I will add more photos.

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 There are several vendors displaying their wares although it is still quite early in the morning. Everything from jewelry to candy can be found here.

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The restaurants are preparing to open for the day, setting tables outside on the street.

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My two favorite restaurants are Casa Luna and El Patio. But there are several more along Independencia as well, some of them providing entertainment by mariachis.
And here is the most famous of the statues along this street.

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A variety of shops sell clothing, jewelry, leather, candy, tequila and decorative ornaments. But ever so popular are the ice cream stores.

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I soon arrive at the Jardin Hidalgo. While the fountains and flowers provide tranquility, this garden bustles with activity day and night. Food vendors offer everything from tortas ahogadas to roasted vegetables. And I highly recommend the churros! There is a kiosko in the square, and the garden is also flanked by two churches.

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I am very fortunate to have lived for the past four years within a fifteen minute walk of this amazing street. It’s no wonder that this has become a major tourist attraction here in Tlaquepaque.