Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The "Daily Grind"

Just kidding about the "grind" part, but just wanted everyone to know that our life in sunny Mexico is not all beaches and palm trees. Damn!!!

Life on Azueta St. is not quite the same as a 5 star resort. We make our beds, cook most of our meals and wash our dishes by hand - no dishwasher, garberator here! I know; life is tough and of course our kitchen is half outside so the sun and breezes blow through all the time.

And we even mop the floors, usually once a day and we even mop the patio. Sommetime soon I'll tell you how dusty Centro Mazatlan can be.

We do our own laundry too - we're one of the lucky ones and our house has a washer and dryer - outside on the patio. It takes foreever to fill so we put a hose in from another tap to help it along. The water runs at about a quarter of the pressure we are used to in Canada.

Mike also uses the hose (with an extension courtesy of the local Home Depot store) to wash the car. I did mention the dust didn't I? He runs it all the way from the back to the front where the car is parked on the street; sometimes the hose joint leaks on the floor then we mop again just because the water is sitting there.

Funny though now that we've figured it out housework in Mazatlan sure seems a lot less stressful than it is at home - and much less time consuming or maybe we are just getting used to the routine including the afternoon Pacifico break at a Palapa by the Pacific. Maybe throw in some bbq'd shrimp or a fresh caught fish and dig our toes in the sand.

Well I guess it's not such a grind after all!!!!

Monday, March 30, 2009


I love flowers, as everyone knows. The house just didn't seem like home without them, so we went searching a few days ago. We had asked around, and were told about the "Flower Market" which really is fascinating. The arrangements are colourful, intricate and huge. Much to big and ornate for our little house, but lovely. I did buy a small bundle, but gave them away as a Thank You to Maria, yet another nice local that has helped us with the gas and water problems we had.

However, still no flowers for the house. We then had to make our almost daily trip to the Central Market to pick up veggies for dinner, and stumbled across a flower vendor. Success! The flowers are really pretty, and my plan is to continue to buy from the same stand. They were only 35 pesos, but I'm hoping for lower by the time we have to go home.

Today is yet another perfect day weather wise, so we've decided to spend the afternoon at one of the local beaches

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Always a surprise around the corner

The other night after dinner under the stars in our backyard we decided to go for a walk and work off the chicken fajitas. We planned on making it to the Malacon to watch the waves on the ocean but were stopped by the sound of a pounding basketball.
We went into one of the oldest b'ball stadiums I have ever seen and stayed to watch a game between Mazatlan and Sonora teams that were playing in the National over 50 years old tournament. Was a lot of fun, ran into our taco stand friend Manuel. Had a few cerveza's - even Sandie and watched the game. Maz. won. Left after the game and by now we had worn off the fajitas and stopped at a hotdog stand for two bbq'd dogs, all the trimmings.

Then we wandered back to the Plaza Machado and listened to a great Cuban band playing salsa style dance music. Great musicians and super dancers. A couple of the local girls were dancing on the stage - it was a good thing their mothers were not their to watch or they would have been grounded for a month!!

Other than the dog and beers it ended up being a free evening of entertainment.

It's always amazing to us just what is around the next corner here.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The price of Food

Mike and I still can't get over how little it is costing us to eat in Mazatlan. A few days ago we went to the market to pick up a few things and realized when we got home how much we had and how little we had spent. The bowl is filled with 3 apples, 3 carrots, 8 or 9 limes, an avacado, more than enough beans for dinner that night, a cucumber and several tomatoes. All this cost us $2.60.

The veggies are soaking in water and a few drops of "Microdyne", a product everyone, even the Mexicans, uses to clean produce before eating it.
Yesterday we decided to have Fajitas for dinner, but as usual, because we seem to shop for food every day, we needed a few things so back we went to the market. The chicken breast we picked up, which was huge, cost us $1.40

Tonight we're going out to dinner with friends - we can certainly afford it!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Shrimp Dinner

Mike and I had a craving for shrimp - Mazatlan is the shrimp capital of the world and the shrimp are available in every size (and colour we found out!)
Off we went to visit the Shrimp Ladies - they set up shop every day and take up more than a city block. They set up tables which are covered with buckets and buckets of shrimp - so many to choose from! Legend has it that they are widows or relatives of shrimp fishermen who have died at sea so the government tolerates them and doesn't chase them away. They have sold shrimp here for years and are an institution.

After making our selection, with the help of yet another new Mexican friend, we headed home to "tidy" them up and ready the barbeque. While Mike deveined them and removed the shells (and I marvelled at the size!), I prepared a couple of simple sauces (garlic, lime and butter for half, and a freshly squeezed orange juice marinade for the other).
Dinner was delicious. We have decided though that next time we only need to buy 1/2 a kilo - we had more than enough. Cost for 1 kg of very large browns was 160 pesoes or approx 13.00. A bit more expensive than our normal dinners but worth it. And of course, if we only bought 1/2 kilo ........ Oh, the 'browns' - some of the shrimp are 'blues'. Beats me, they all come out the same colour when they're cooked!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

All is well

This if for all our dear friends and relatives who have expressed concerns about our safety and well being in the wilds of Mexico - first off we want to thank you for your concern (it is nice to know you are thinking of us!)

But really, please don't fret and worry - we actually feel just as safe here as we do at home on the mean streets of Winnipeg. There are of course problems like in any country these days and especially in the border towns. We are careful of course, and make sure not to walk in questionable areas late at night, just the same as we would do at home. Remember of course, that we do have our huge guard dog, Cujo (formally known as 15 lb Abi) with us at all times to terrorize any banditos who might accost us.

Seriously though, we encountered no problems on the drive down at all, except when Mike was sent into the hood in Albequergue searching for beer and rum. Kidding again - but he did say it wasn't a spot he's planning on going back to. Our neighbourhood here in Maz is wonderful. Our next door neighbour is Elizabeth, and we think she's adopted us. Her english is about as good as our Spanish, but she's always there to help out - even yesterday when Mike was hosing off the sidewalk (to keep down the dust - another subject). Before we knew it, there with E. with her special sidewalk broom to help out. She was also the person who called the gas co. for us. She reminds us everytime we see her that we are 'besina' - not use of the spelling, but it means neighbours, and neighbours are there to help each other.

We've also met a gentleman who seems to own several city blocks in our area, and is the owner of a company several blocks away that make the most stunning concrete counter tops and sinks (established 1872). Ernesto, his partner Jose and Jose's wife Maria have also helped us get settled in countless ways, making phone calls etc. All this just because we live on the street. It's amazing.

Everytime we go out there seems to be someone who wants to teach us something - the young man at the market who introduced us to the lady who sells candied sweet potatoes (to die for) and the man at the Shrimp Ladies who helped Mike pick out our shrimp for dinner last night (more details on the later as well).

These people are all doing this because they want to, not because they are getting anything from us in return. This has been a wonderful experience and one we wanted to share with you.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Getting (Propane) gassed in Mexico Part 2

Well our gas adventures continue, and I don't mean just from the refried beans. We had this great idea to bring our little gas bbq with us so we could bbq up some delicious shrimp, chicken steaks - um, um, um.

But things don't always run smoothly. Got here and went looking for a tank. Was sent to a local hardware store where we had to but wire mesh to cover the grated main door to the house to keep Abi in and saw 20 lb gas tanks just sitting there. Shiny and new just waiting for this gringo. BUT they were empty and they don't fill them, was told I had to go out of town for propane, a local law!!!

Went to a local expats meeting and was told no; Home Depot sells them - EUREKA!! Went to HD and bought a tank but empty, they don't sell filled ones. Suggested a local Gaspasa station a few miles from their store so away we go. Found the store EUREKA - but hold, on no adaptor to fill the tank.

Back online to the local expats and one replied the same thing happened to him and he went back to Gaspasa three times. OK so next day loaded up the dog and away we go. Same Gaspasa store and same guy we saw two days earlier and EUREKA now he found the adaptor.

First though the tank needs to be vented?? So another Gaspasa guy comes along and with a set of car keys undoes the inside pressure valve, dumps everything out and puts the adaptor and pump together on the tank and starts filling it. EUREKA we will have gas. Sandie and I are watching all this from a distance as we are waiting for a Hollywood type explosion at any time and want to be well clear for the blast zone.

But nothing happened; went home with our full tank very pleased with ourselves, fired it up and bbqd some chicken - EUREKA our first success.

Not so fast; the gas gods decided. Just as the chicken was finished flames started to shoot out of the tank connection, turned it off with a set of tongs had another cerveza and another and went to bed.

Next day realized the inside pressure valve wasn't tightened enough with a set of car keys so took a few tools I had, finished tightening everything and now we have gas - for real.

BBQ shrimp, Mexican rice, home made guacomole, and lots of cerveza and limes tonight - you're all invited. We'll dine under the stars about 7:00.

Bring a fire extinguisher just in case. There will be insurance forms for you to sign at the door as we are not lible for uncontrollable gas explosions while you are in our Casita.

Adios for now from Mazatlan.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

|Getting Gassed in Mazatlan PART 1

Well, settling into a 100 year old house is a bit of adventure!
Episode 1 of the 'getting gassed in Mazatlan story'

We need gas to operate the cook top and heat the water. Problem is, we have no idea how much gas is left in the tank, or where the tank is. Luckily neighbour Elizabeth told us the tank was on the roof. Step 1 handled. The gas company (Gaspasa) have trucks driving around the city, but we couldn't find one in our area, so Elizabeth came to our rescue again and called them for us. Elizabeth by the way speaks as much English as we do Spanish. It was amazing - the truck was at the house within about 10 minutes (can you imagine that in Canada) and then the fun started. To fill the tank, a hose (about 150 feet of it) was dragged through the house, and then one of the gas men (the younger, braver one) was boosted up to the top of the 8 foot patio wall. Once he has his balance (!) he makes his way to the roof top. The hose was passed to him and the tank was filled. At this point we enlisted the help of E's daughter, Paulina to translate. The tank was almost empty so we had it filled for 500 pesos (about 42.00) which will last us for 3 months. We hope. If not, we stop cooking and bath in cold water.
Next installment - getting gassed part 2, or, filling the propane tank for the gas barbeque and a few more pictures.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The trip continued - Part 2

Sandie is letting me, the driver do this post. Of course she wrote out exactly what to say and I'm not allowed to change anything. Think she wanted to give me something to do and her fingers were worn out.

New Mexico - still small towns, angle parking and NO people but finally some stunning scenery. And lots of bill coards - hundreds of them, one after another for miles. Our favourites were for Clines Corners (apperently the best fudge in the universe) and the Flying C Ranch - no bigger than a reular truck stop but they have absolutly everything including Mexican and native jewellry (no, I wouldn't stop) firecrackers, snakes ( definitly wouldn't stop when I read that) and much much more all described in detail on hundreds of very large billboards.

But very beautiful; mountains, cactii and colour.

Hotel in Albuquerque was gorgeous, glad we didn't have to pay. Lots of travel when I worked paid off with Sheraton plan points. Wondered if they had made a mistake letting us and Abi into a posh hotel because at this stage we were very unposh after a few days on the road.

On to Arizona - Scenery even more spectacular than NM but still no people. Lots of places to stop in NM and Ariz. but didn't. We were in total drive mode. Were close to Santa Fe, El Paso, Tombstone, Rosswell (didn't want to get abducted) and our favourite - Truth or Cosequences. Yes, the town actually changed it's name in honour of the radio game show from the 50's. Sandie says she remembers it but it's way before my time.

Border crossing a snap - no lineups. Sandie says I was such a smart ass A type organizer, but it all worked. Abi was great again - we think aliens from when we passed Rosswell have gotten into her head - she's been so good.

Spent our first night and the next day in a trailer park in San Carlos on the sea of Cortez. Met a great couple who invited us for dinner in their Rv/House/Castle. They've been on the road for four years - true adventurers compared to us and are on their way to Panama to live. Looking forward to hooking up with them again in Panama; hint hint, nudge nudge.

Left San Carlos on the 10th and drove on to Mazatlan; 9 1/2 hrs later we finally made it. No trouble driving in the city, driving in Winnipeg is good practice and found our house easily ( we'll do another blog on the house in a couple of days)

Total kms driven; 4562. Total hours in the car; 49 hrs

Was it worth it - YES

Friday, March 13, 2009


A bit upset - have typed for ages, hit a button and deleted everything. Oh well, second attempt

It was 72 when we left Yankton, and 85 when we arrived in Kansas. Snow disappeared early in the afternoon. Happy happy.

Kansas is green fields, windmill farms, small towns with old fashioned angle parking on the main streets, and never any people. Where are they? Are they, like Dorothy and Toto not in Kansas anymore?

Then we left Kansas and cut across northern tips of Oklahoma and Texas - flat flat and flatter, cows cows and more cows, and biggest and smelliest feed lots we ever seen. Mentioning smell, lots of road kill, lots of it skunks. Need I say more?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Abi was been a wonderul little dog today, and quite honestly amazed us. After some shuffling about, she has decided her favourite spot is in the front seat, on her blanket, right between us (we lifted up the armrest to make room for her) Hey, we lost our cup holders, but it's worth it. She did all the right doggie things on cue on the "rest stop breaks" and then curled up and napped for most of the drive.

So far, so good!

We made it. The adventure has started, at last.

Yesterday was a long, busy day, but by dinner time we had managed to get everything loaded into the car (the trunk is very full!) and all the last minute house details finished. Dinner was spagetti and meatballs - the last meal from the freezer. The fridge has never been emptier, or cleaner. Part of me wanted to scrub and polish the house from top to bottom, but really, why bother - the dust bunnies are just going to move in during the three months we're gone anyway. So just did a quick once over, and a really good organizational tidy up, so it will look good when we get home (and for the visiting bunnies).

We were on the road by 7:45 this morning - 15 minutes ahead of schedule - and the day went amazingly well. We made it across the border with no problems - first step handled. Then off we went to explore the exciting landscape of North and South Dakota - flat, flat and flatter - no wait, a hill!! Actually, it was really quite pretty, and it was fun watching the snow gradually disappear. By the way, I have never seen as many cows.

We pulled into Yankton, South Dakota at 4:30 and checked into the Super 8 - bonus, free internet! Dinner was an ordered in pizza, now it's a bit of TV and bed! We're all beat - even the dog. Tomorrow is a new day, a day that brings us one step closer to Mexico. Liberal, Kansas, here we come.