Wednesday, November 25, 2009

It's Happened

I headed out this afternoon to do some shopping - needed to go to the market to pick up some veggies for tomorrow's American Thanksgiving feast and to see if the jewellery store was open (I'm supposed to bring hors d'ouevres to the dinner - more on the dinner later and also more on the store - which is never ever open).

Just after I left the house, I stopped to chat to a couple who were 'house' hunting in the neighbourhood. One thing led to another and the subject of hairdressers came up. We found a great stylist last year and plan to go back to him, and of course, I wanted to share our discovery. However, I know his name, I know where his shop is, but do I know the name of the street? Of course not!!!!!!!

It used to drive me crazy when someone would say, "Oh yeah, the vet ... hmmmm.... well you go down the Malecon, yeah about 4 or 5 blocks, turn right at the OXXO store, or maybe you make the right before the OXXO, then you drive for 2 or 3 blocks and then make a right (what, oh yet you're right honey, it's a left) and then you make a u-turn and he's 5 or 6 doors down on the left, I think it's the left, but it might be the right, it used to be a white building. What colour is the building now? Umm, I think its green, or blue .... his name .... well, gosh, I can't remember, but he was just the best darned vet we ever found, did a great job, saved our dog/cat from near death, you'll love him!!!! Sigh .....

It really wasn't that bad but sometimes it felt like it and now I'm afraid I'm starting to do the same. It's just so darned hard, the street names are all unfamiliar, the streets twist and turn, we wander back and forth and never seem to take the same route twice. I find that I can now manage to find my way around and my sense of direction has finally kicked in. I feel quite comfortable wandering around on my own although I confess that once in awhile I have to stand on a street corner until the 'spidy - sense' kicks in. So far it seems to be working and I haven't felt really lost once since we arrived back. Confused several times, but not lost. However, I rarely seem to remember what street things are on. I can walk there no problem, but as for knowing whether the shop I'm looking for is on Belisario Domingues or Melchor Ocampo, not a chance!

So, as soon as I heard myself babbling directions to Tony's I shut up and promised to send them an email, once I got home and looked at my map. We used to carry the map with us at all times so that we could find our own way, and had all our favourite spots highlighted. Think it's time to resurrect it again. Not for us, but for the poor souls who happen to stop us to ask for directions.

By the way, we went to an absolutely fabulous restaurant last night. It was just around the corner from our house ... and that's the funny part because someone said that to me recently and I had no idea where on earth they lived! So once you find the house, I'll give you the rest of the directions.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Sunday Stroll

When we arrived at the Food Festival earlier today, we were a bit too early, so decided to just wander around for a bit and work up an appetite. No problem there, as things were starting to smell pretty good, and we'd already checked out the pastries.

We headed down past the cathedral

passing a Pinata store on the way. Take note of the chicken in the back yard; I didn't even notice him til we loaded the pictures onto the computer!

As we passed through the Plaza Revolucion in front of the Cathedral we stopped to look at the displays honouring some of the heros of the Revolution.

The women kept the men supplied with ammunition. Great job - no danger there at all!

Of course we had to stop to admire the odd ruin

and marvel at yet another wonderful reconstruction

And here it is - our house, up on the hill. We're just a bit off centre to the left hand side, 2 streets down from the bright turquoise building, just below the house with the arched windows. The Casita is a creamy colour and the terrace railing is criss-cross brick. This might remind you of the old series of books, "Where's Waldo?"

OK, it is a bit hard to make out, but trust me, the Casita is there!

The Taste of Mazatlan

I doubt very much if we will be eating dinner tonight.

Around noon today we wandered over to Zaragosa Park, which is about 4 or 5 blocks from the Casita to check out the food - we had noticed signs several days ago advertising "The Taste of Mazatlan". We went with friends and we all came home absolutely stuffed.

The food was varied and all that we tried was delicious. Between the 4 of us we sampled the Paella, Tostadas, Carne Asada and the Marlin Cerviche. The Tostadas were my choice and my favourite - a flat, hard tortilla, topped with shredded beef, lettuce, mixed veggies, cheese, sour cream and drizzled with hot sauce and a flavourful beef broth (I passed on the refried beans)... yummy. We were too full to try the Tamales, athough I did take a picture, and we unanimously voted to pass on the Pozole. How to describe pozole - sort of a soup, with lots of cut up pieces of animal that shouldn't be eaten! In my Spanish/English food translation booklet it says the meat is usually beef or pork. Perhaps but a lot of what went in today's batch was definitely not some of the better cuts! Smells good, but ... must be an acquired taste.

We did have no trouble at all indulging in the desserts, all homemade by the ladies of the Rotary Club and all an individual piece of heaven!

Dinner will definitely be much later tonight, if at all!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Beach Days

It was a busy day on Friday.

We were up early, went to watch a parade, and then headed over to Stone Island with our friends who have just arrived for a 4 month stay. It was their first trip, and I think they were suitably impressed!

It was a perfect beach day; the sun was shining, the water was warm, and the beer was cold.

Stone Island is not really an island; it's actually a peninsula and the beach can be reached by car, but it's a long way around, and we've heard the road is not the best. It's much easier to go to the Stone Island Panga Docks, pay 20 pesos a person, and take the 3 or 4 minute ride across the water to the beach side. The beach is lovely and stretches for kilometers. We will spend a day and walk the length, but yesterday was just a day for settling into our lounge chairs to relax.

We did have several heated rounds of 'chicken foot' dominoes

and Mike and Jerry had several 'swims' in the ocean

while Diane and I eyed the vendors and their wares,

but all in all, it was just a wonderful, lazy day at the beach.

Herbs and Lemons

Last year the search was on for Lemon Juice.

Every summer at home I plant basil, oregano, rosemary and thyme in pots and use them almost daily for one thing or another that's going on in the kitchen. This year, I'm attempting to track down herbs to plant here, but so far it has not been as easy as I had thought. We did find a lovely bunch of oregano which is thriving on the terrace and I have a lead on basil. As for the rosemary and thyme ... well, 'thyme' will tell if I ever find live plants! Sorry, that was pretty weak but couldn't resists it!

In the meantime, I looked up the words for basil, rosemary and thyme in Spanish and headed to the market to see what I could find. It was a successful trip and a very economical one. The bags were large - about 2 cups of dried herbs in each - and each bag was 10 pesos. As our dollar is currently worth more than 12 pesos, that's almost free!

So, I now have some dried herbs and will continue the quest for the fresh, green variety.

Oh, on the subject of lemons, I got really excited one day last week when I popped in to say hi to Alfredo, the owner of our local tienda. I was astounded to see a large crate of lemons in the corner of the shop. I did bring down a small bottle of juice with me, but this was a gold mind - I could squeeze them and freeze the juice - I was set for the season! Alfredo even cut one open for me, so that I could check to see if it looked like a 'real' lemon. It was perfect. Lemons, at last!

However, I should have reminded myself that this is Mexico, and we have learned many times not to get too excited about anything until it's a done deal. These lemons were not quite what I expected. They looked like lemons, they smelled like lemons, but unfortunately, they did not taste like lemons. The juice is very mild tasting and has a much sweeter taste than the lemons we are used to.

I now have 2 frozen ice cube trays of this juice. It's wasn't what I expected, but I'll find a use for it somewhere. It might be good to add to iced tea, along with the regular ice cubes.

And, I will continue the on-going quest!

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Parade

I know there are those who do not believe this, but there are times that I can be quiet and just let the pictures do the talking. This is the Centennial of the Mexican Revolution, and today was the day of the big parade in Mazatlan. We had read the parade was supposed to start at 8:00 am, but by the ever increasing noise levels we think it actually started somewhere around 7. We were up early anyway (the truck, remember?) and it was no big deal. We made it down to watch by around 8and don't think we missed too much.

I loved the dogs who watched us park the car ..

and I loved the parade ...

These were some of the favourites ...

There was music as well, which will come later because to be honest, I give up, it will not load!!

I do gave a question however.

How did they walk in those shoes?!

The Awakening

Last night we decided to go to bed with the windows open in the bedroom. It's been quite hot and humid since we've arrived, not that we're complaining or anything, but we've found that it has been easier to sleep with the windows shut and the dehumidifier running. Now, friends who are full time residents of Mazatlan might scoff at this, as the weather has cooled down considerably from the heat of the summer, but remember, we're still acclimatizing. However, last night was a beautiful evening, with a lovely breeze, and we decided it was time to enjoy the fresh air. I reminded myself before we went to sleep to set the mental alarm clock so we didn't sleep in as we were going to have a busy day and needed to get an early start.

Well, I really didn't need to worry. The roosters started around 3:30 or 4:00. Not too loud, and not a lot of them, but I could hear them. At this point, I'm still sort of sleeping. Around 5:00 more roosters joined in, a great deal more. I'm still trying to sleep, but it's getting harder. Then a few dogs joined the roosters. Sigh, I've now reached the point that I'm more awake than sleeping. But with luck, I can fake it.

However, the neighbour leaves for work about 5:45, driving his very old truck, his very very old, very very very loud truck. Said truck is parked right outside our bedroom window, about 4 feet away. Because it is so old, apparently it needs to be revved up several times to get the engine going. And then, just to be sure that it's really warmed up, the truck is left running for what seems like forever, with several more revving sessions tossed in for good measure.

Just as the truck heads out, rumbling and coughing all the way down the street, another neighbor heads out. He, however, must be having problems with the lock on his car, as the alarm has gone off at least 3 times. Perhaps someone is trying to steal it. At this point in time, I really don't care. I just wish they would do it more quietly!

Here it is, 6:00 am and I am now wide awake. Oh well, the sun-rise is lovely and I did say that we wanted to get up early. Just not this early! Oh lovely, there goes that alarm again!!!!!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Enough with the decorating already!

OK, I promise (maybe), this is the last edition to the home decorating saga. However, this is just another chance to let you know just how economicial it can be to live (and decorate) in Mexico.

The sofa in the Casita is white. We have a dog - who is sometimes sort of white, but usually with dusty feet. Not a good match.

As with the table, there was a plan, which of course changed. Last season we covered the seats with beach blankets, which was a good temporary measure, but not too classy. We decided that this time we would go to the market and purchase several of the colourful Mexican blankets, the ones that the beach vendors tote up and down the beach, on their backs, in the heat. We`re closer to the market and I figured I wouldn`t feel as guilty buying them there as no one would have to lug pounds of them for miles and miles, so that we could make a choice of colours and patterns.

The blankets, while not exhorbitantly expensive, would have cost us around 400 pesos for the two we needed and we`re starting to think like retired folks - the budget and all. There is a department store across the street from the market and I had to go there to buy the oil cloth for the table. While I was wondering around, fondling the fabics, I discovered the perfect blue stiped cotton in the sale bin. Out went the blanket idea, in came the blue cotton.

So, for 110 pesos (less than $10.00) I covered the seats on the sofa, and had enough left over to cover 2 of the existing cushions. I found a remnant of the beautiful Guatemalan cotton stripe that is used in the kitchen and covered another cushion and used yet another remmant in muslin to encase another.

I don`t have a sewing machine, so all the cushions were done by hand, as were the curtains in the bathroom. My fingers hurt.

Which is why the redecorating is over, for awhile. It`s time to hit the beach, or find a pool!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Table

When we came to the Casita last year we discovered the wonderful old table base that Sarah had rescued. Problem was, it had no top. The original plan was to have a circular glass top made, which we all kiboshed pretty quickly when we discovered how expensive glass tops can be in Mexico. However, Mike and I are determined people. We would find the glass, somewhere, we were sure of this.

We also knew that we wanted to paint the table black.

We were positively delighted when we got home to Winnipeg and realized that we could buy our round glass at Pier One, for much cheaper than it was is Maz. We rushed right over, bought the darned thing, and then found that it would not fit it into the trunk of the car. It was returned about 15 minutes after we purchased it, and we were back to square one.

Literally, a square. When we arrived back in Maz, we purchased a 48 inch square piece of plywood from Home Depot (where they are starting to recognize us, by the way!). The original plan, devised over a glass of wine at home in Winnipeg, was to leave the wood in a square, and to tile it. The plan has been revised several times (what a surprise!) and we have now decided to have the square cut into a circle, which suits the base much better than the square, and to cover it with oil-cloth, which is sold everywhere in Maz.

Of course, we don't have a saw, and Home Depot only cuts straight lines. So, we posted a message on one of the local forums, and happy days, someone close to us has a jig saw, and was kind enough to lend it to us.

So, we now have a lovely table, and all it cost was the price of ¼ of a can of black paint, $17.00 for the wood, and 3.00 for the covering. The saw was free, although I do think we owe the owner a cervasa or two.

Martha would be proud.