Tag Archives: Mazatlan

My Last Days in Mexico

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My Last Days in Mexico

Easter came early this year on April 1st. Although I am not Catholic, that morning I went to the Cathedral for the mass. Later that day I went out for dinner with my friends to Al Chile, one of my favorite restaurants on the malecon. We enjoyed chicken mole instead of the traditional ham served up north.

On Monday I had lunch at St. Lorenzo with a friend. Then we went to El Recreo to see a movie. A walk along the malecon and hanging out with my neighbors in the evening completed the day.

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Tuesday was supposed to be a beach day. But the morning fog was thick and I settled for a walk on the malecon. The tedious task of packing began that afternoon. Dinner with friends followed.

On Wednesday my first stop was Telcel at Gran Plaza. I had to renew my phone plan. Next was a badly needed haircut. Then we headed to the Gold Zone for one last dinner at Friends. The band that night was great as well.

Wednesday also marked the start of Moto Week, an annual event that attracts thousands of bikers.  

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On Thursday I once again attacked packing. It’s amazing the stuff that accumulates in five months. I met a friend for lunch and went to one last movie at El Recreo.

Friday once again was a major laundry and packing day. I went to my friend Koren’s for one last Friday lunch. Koren is a caterer and on Fridays we would still have lunch there although the mixed market never really did fly this past winter. In the evening I once again hung out with some of my neighbors.

On Saturday we went to Casa Arabe for an amazing dinner. Then we headed to the malecon to watch the motorcycle parade. It went on for hours and it was interesting to see all the customized bikes.

The following morning I closed up my bags and took an Uber to the bus station. I was off to Culiacan to spend a couple of days with my Mexican family. Juan and my three grandsons were waiting for me at the bus station, and we went over to his brother’s house where the kids enjoyed time in a wading pool.

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All too soon it was Tuesday and Lucila drove me to the airport to catch my flight to Mexico City. A few hours later I boarded a flight to Toronto.

Adios Mexico until the fall.

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I’m Back!!!!!

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I’m Back!!!!!

It’s been over a month since I’ve written a post. That’s what happens when you travel and are distracted by things to do and limited internet access. But at least I remembered to take photos, and I am now in the process of organizing hundreds of them.

Here is a Coles Notes version of the past month. In future blog posts I will expand upon my adventures. But I did want to assure my readers that I have not merely dropped off the face of the earth.

I left Mazatlan on April 8th, the final day of Moto Week. The night before I had been hanging out with friends watching the motorcycle parade. Thousands of cyclists converge upon Mazatlan annually and the roar of engines is constant.

I arrived in Culiacan and spent a couple of days with my Mexican family. I enjoyed watching the kids frolic in a wading pool that first afternoon. The following day spring break was over and everyone was back at school. On Tuesday evening I found myself at the airport and boarded a flight for Mexico City.

I had a two hour layover before boarding the next flight to Toronto. I arrived in Toronto at 6 am to gloomy, cloudy skies. By the time my daughter came to get me at the airport, the rain had started. But my spirits brightened when I caught my first glimpse of my new granddaughter asleep in her car seat.

We headed to a mall for a while before heading out on the highway to Frankford. Once at my daughter’s home, I finally got to hold my granddaughter for the first time. It was amazing! This sweet little face gazed up at me with questioning eyes. Who are you? Why are you holding me?

After that any opportunity I had I held her in my arms, whether she was awake or asleep. My daughter is nursing and had expressed milk, so I even found myself giving Madeline a bottle in the aisle of Home Depot one afternoon.

The week I spent with them was a fleeting dream, and I soon found myself on a train heading back to Toronto. The hustle and bustle at Union Station at 5 pm was a tad overwhelming, but I found the next train that took me to a station close to where my friend Deborah lives.

My visit with Deborah was round three of an emotional journey. The first part was leaving my Culiacan family and the second was leaving my daughter and granddaughter. My friend Deborah almost lost her life last year to an infection last year and defied all odds by surviving emergency surgery and then learning to walk again. The time we spent together was special, but I soon found myself back at the airport.

I flew to Vancouver and then on to Seattle. It was a short two hour drive to Leavenworth. The three hour time change took its toll. I crashed for a few hours and then dove right into my usual routine. Exercise class, lunch at the senior center and then a craft afternoon.

Suddenly it’s Saturday and my first week back has flown by all too quickly. Only one photo for this post but many more to come in future posts. So stay tuned.

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.

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.

Carnaval 2018

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Carnaval 2018

Carnaval was held in Mazatlan from February 8th-13th this year. A flurry of activities attracted more than a million people. Hotels and restaurants were packed and the malecon was crowded with revelers. I was fortunate to live only a block and a half away from the malecon so no problems of fighting traffic. As a bonus, I could see the Combate Naval from just down the street.

I chose to pass on the coronations and pageants. But I did attend both parades, one of which passed by close to my house and I was at ground level in the front row. The floats were amazing, especially being illuminated against the darkened sky at night.

In addition to the floats there were marching bands, gymnasts and dancing horses. Of course all the hawkers accompanied the parades selling a variety of products from donuts to glowing swords.

I was delighted to hear BandaMS perform and view the fireworks from the comfort of my front terrace. And speaking of fireworks, the Combate Naval was awesome. A few years ago I went out on a boat to view the fireworks and that also was quite the experience.

I strolled along the malecon nightly and checked out the entertainment. There were numerous stages set up with a number of bands trying to outdo each other. Until around 4 am. Mexicans like to party.

But I must admit that it’s nice to have the malecon back. It’s peaceful and once again I can hear the waves lapping against the shore. Until Semana Santa arrives next month…………….

Who Am I?

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Who Am I?

I’ll be honest. I’m still trying to find myself. Yes, I know that this expression is decades old. But so am I, and I still crave adventure and who knows what else. I have been so many different people throughout the years. Baby to child to teenager to adult to wife to mother to name just a few. Babysitter to bookkeeper to manager to business owner to counselor to social worker to motivational consultant to teacher to writer to fitness instructor to name just a few. But who am I really?

Many followers of my blog know me personally. However there are others from around the world who read my posts and have never met me in person. So this post is dedicated to you. Here is a glimpse of who I am as I travel through this journey of life in an attempt to find myself.

My name is Karen and I was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Winnipeg is the capital city of the province and is smack dab in the middle of the prairies. It is infamous for the brutal winters and has justly earned the nickname of “Winterpeg.” Other than a brief few years in Oak Bluff, Manitoba I lived in Winnipeg all my life until November of 2010.

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I still vividly recall the day I left. First stop was Grace Hospital to say goodbye to my daughter, who was a nurse there at the time. From there my son took me to the airport where another tearful goodbye transpired. I was on my way to my first ESL teaching job in Mexico. I had never been apart from my children for more than a couple of weeks at a time, and this was going to be a ten month separation. I cried all the way to Minneapolis and my first layover on the journey to Culiacan. And I must admit that I am still tearful as I don’t see my children often enough. I love them, I am so very proud of all their accomplishments and I miss them terribly. But we are all adults and we all have our own lives to lead. 

I returned to Winnipeg in July of 2011 and halfheartedly began looking around for a job and a place to live. I also had legal issues to deal with as my divorce decree was nowhere in sight although the marriage had ended in January of 2009. And then I received the phone call.

Are you interested in coming back to Mexico? We have a job opening in our private school here in Irapuato. Really? Hmmmm, teaching in Mexico was to be a one year plan. But the Skype interview went well and a couple of weeks later I was on my way back to Mexico.

It is now February of 2018. And I have retired from teaching. I’m into my third year here in Mazatlan after a few years in Guadalajara. I have also discovered a new summer home in Leavenworth, Washington where I lead an active life including a fair amount of volunteer work. Yes, summer home. Mazatlan is far too hot in the summer.

I have published two self-help books. “When Glad Becomes Sad” deals with depression and anxiety. “Alive Again” deals with separation and divorce. I am currently working on a book of fiction and enjoying writing it immensely. I have contributed articles to books published by other authors, and hope to publish more of my own poems and short stories in the future.

When I’m not writing, my favorite pastime here in Mexico is attending music and dance performances. I enjoy traveling and meeting new people. I belong to a Red Hat group and I play Hand and Foot regularly. I spend hours walking along the malecon. I love the ocean. That is what influenced my decision to leave Guadalajara. I like to watch movies and am hopelessly addicted to Candy Crush. I also take hundreds of pictures with my smart phone. And I have more recently begun volunteering at a Christian mission. And as an aside to my friends in Leavenworth, yes I am still coloring.

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I am forever indebted to former Tlaquepaque housemates Omar and Sean who encouraged me to begin writing a blog on WordPress. And I am flattered that so many people take the time to read my posts. And I now have the time to read other writers’ blogs.

Now that I am retired, my focus will be on my writing, especially my current work in progress.  I have no idea what my next post will be about. I hadn’t anticipated this one until the words began to flow. So we’ll all be in suspense until the next one.