Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Mike and I were not going to exchange presents for Christmas this year as there is nothing that we really wanted, or needed. Well, to be honest, there is nothing that we needed, but there is always something to want and so at the last minute we changed our minds.

It all started with a visit to Casa Antiqua, a wonderful shop here in Centro. The store is closing and they were having a 50% off sale. We stopped in for a browse, saw these vases, and voila, there was what was to be part of Mike's present.

I had already decided that what I really yearned for was one of the Day of The Dead ladies, so the next day while Mike was golfing, I headed to Michael's to pick one out. Some people think these things are grotesque, but I love them.

The day before Christmas I changed my mind about Mike's gift and realized that what Mike really should have was a round of golf at Estrella del Mar, one of the premier courses in the city.

He usually golfs at Compestre, the publicly owned course, but he and his golf buddies have often talked of playing a round at Estrella del Mar. A round of golf at this course is usually around $100.00, just a bit pricy, however, they have a special on right now for $45.00, which is quite reasonable, given the quality of the course. So, after a quick chat with one of 'the boys' about booking a tee off time, I printed up a certificate and presented Mike with his golf game.

So, a few days after Christmas, he set out with his clubs, and the camera.

Oh, and the vases are now considered a gift from Santa, to both of us!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Well, for all my moaning about not feeling festive, Christmas was lovely! We even had the perfect moon.

We went to church on Christmas Eve, to the "Blue Church" on the corner of 5 de Mayo and Melchor Ochampo. The Iglesia Cristiana Congregacional Church is fondly known as the English Church and has become part of our Christmas Eve tradition in Mazatlan. The music is phenomenal and the hour spent in the church has become an important part of the Eve. Special enough to attend each Sunday? I am not a 'church-goer' but am sorely tempted, if just for the choir and the musicians! After the service we wandered the streets of the 'hood, admiring the decorations and chuckling at the excitment of the children. Christmas Eve is the same everywhere, filled with children that we all know are not going to sleep a wink all night. The balance of the evening was spent with friends and then we headed home up the hill to snuggle into bed and to wait for Santa.

We blissfully slept in a bit on Christmas morning as our neighbours who normally leave for work at 6 am were obviously not working, and we have no little ones to shake us out of our beds. We did have to get up, however, as we were having friends for brunch, and I needed to cook. It was pea-soup fog when we woke up (a "White Christmas" maybe?), but by the time our company arrived at 10, the sun was out and we were able to dine al fresco on the terrace.

Brunch was a strata (recipe found on-line and a definite 'make again'), pan fries, a lovely fruit plate (provided by our guests) and of course, champagne and freshly squeezed orange juice. Not a bad start to the day.

After taking a break to regroup, we then headed down the hill (notice all the ups and downs the hill we take) to have Christmas dinner with neighbours. It was a small group, about 20 of us, and it was wonderful. Our host and hostess provided the turkey, stuffing and dressing and the rest of us brought the trimmings and we dined like kings! One of the guests brought homemade egg nog, 'seasoned' with bourbon and rum and I truly cannot explain how delicious that was!

Boxing Day was to be a beach day, which did not happen. We woke up, looked at each other, sighed heavily, looked at the lounge chairs on the terrace, and stayed home! We needed to regain our strength, prepare for Monday at the Library, Mike's golf on Tuesday, and New Year's Eve which apparently will be here soon!

Feliz Navidad to all, hope your holiday was wonderful and your New Year is filled with Peace and Love.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Just Hanging Around

Well, there are probably all sorts of things I could be doing right now, considering that Christmas is only 2 days away. Christmas, however, is different here as other than one present each, we don't really shop for each other (a day at the beach is pretty much the perfect present) and I don't even have to worry about cooking dinner as we've been invited out. I will make a casserole to contribute to the feast, but that certainly doesn't take a huge amount of effort. We're having friends for brunch Christmas morning - once again, not too much effort and certainly nothing I can prepare today. I've pulled out all the required recipes and Mike and I went out this morning to stock up on all the necessary ingredients for my culinary efforts.

It was pretty funny as Mega was the social gathering place of the week. We ran into someone we knew on many of the aisles - Christmas is Christmas everywhere and the grocery stores are always packed. Mexican parents also looked just as stressed and frazzled as Canadian parents at this time of the year, and the children are equally as excited as their Canadian counterparts!

So, I'm having a somewhat quiet afternoon and have decided that I really need to something productive, other than sitting here listening to Christmas music. The music? Mannheim Steamroller, of course, and also The Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

I really needed to tidy up my photo files and decided to share a few. No particular rhyme or reason here, just photos that appealed to me at the time!

It is Christmas, and the tree went up, once again, in the Plaza Revolucion, in front of the Cathedral. Last year the tree was all coke bottles and I think I liked it better.

The children love playing with the pigeons and I think the pigeons are equally happy. The bread crumbs might have something to with the attraction, however.

I was walking to the Library for my Monday shift and noticed this tree.

It's been quite foggy lately and although the air usually clears by 8 or 9 a.m., early mornings can be a bit fuzzy.

The sky was crystal clear the evening these cruise ships were setting out to ports further south. It really does look like they're sitting on the roof of the Cathedral.

And then, of course, there is the bucket of beer, the favourite of many. I'm not fond of beer, but love the presentation!

Just in case I'm not back before the 25th, Feliz Navidad to all. I truly hope that your holiday season, wherever you are, is filled with love, joy and laughter.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Eclipse

Taking pictures at night seems to be next to impossible for me as I do not have a proper tripod for my camera, however I just had to try one more time.

It was a lovely, clear, evening and we had a perfect view of the eclipse from our terrace. I don't usually stay up that late as our days start early, but didn't want to miss this one. The last time there was a total eclipse of the moon on the winter solstice was in 1638, 372 years ago. The next one matching the date of the solstice will be December 21, 2094, and I certainly won't be around for that one.

So, I'm tired, the pictures of the moon are fuzzy, but it was awe inspiring and I'm glad I stayed up to watch. Now I think I might go back to bed for a bit of a siesta.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sundays at Lety's, Stone Island

Sometimes it is just too easy to get side tracked.

We seem to have developed rather busy lives and the beach days, for awhile, just were not happening. I volunteer at the Library every Monday, and Mike meets with the 'boys', searching out yet another great Cantina for lunch. Mike usually golfs on Tuesdays, my day to wander with the camera, shop the mercada for whatever looks appealing, or to get together with friends. Tuesday is often 'blog' day as well. Wednesday is Beans and Beer. Mike will tell you about Beans and Beer, soon. The men have been meeting for over 40 years (no, Mike has not been there for all 40!), they drink beer, they eat beans, they stop to visit the Shrimp Ladies and then go somewhere else to eat the shrimp. I don't plan anything at all on Wednesday evenings and also didn't feel badly at all that women are not included! Trust me on this one!!

Yes, we do have the other 4 days of the week. However, it is just like life at home - we do the grocery shopping, the laundry, we plan meals, sometimes we even wash floors! And, of course, there are the friends .... which means getting together for dinner, or drinks, or just to be there for each other when needed. Life seems to be filled to the brim these days but we realized that we were missing something.

Which brings us to the beach, the all important beach. We really lost track of this last year, and were starting to fall into the same bad habits again this year. We have come to realize that, as much as we do try to live normal lives in Mazatlan, live here is not normal. This means that it is perfectly acceptable behavious to take a day off and do just nothing except go to the beach and realize just how lucky you are.

We are now doing just that. Every Sunday we head over to Lety's, on Stone Island, where we spend an absolutely delightful day, doing as little as possible.

Stone Island is actually a peninsula, but it is virtually inaccessable by road, and the easiest access is by pangas. Cost? 20 pesos each, both ways - less than $2.00. There are plans in the works to build a development on the 'island' but care is being taken to perserve what makes this such a special place - nothing will replace the small village, the turtle sanctuary, or what has to be the most beautiful stretch of beach we have ever seen.

It can smell just a bit 'fishy' at times as we walk to the pangas, but I seem to have a thing for fishing boats, and have also learned to rather like the 'aromas', perhaps because I now realize just how delicious the fish is!

I rather like the birds as well.

Our favourite spot on Stone Island is Lety's. Lety's Restaurant has been a favourite among the expat community for years and we were all heartbroken when Lety, the matriarch, passed away suddenly last year. Her family have all worked to improve the restaurant and to develop it as Lety would have wished and it has remained a special retreat for all of us. This is not your average 'restaurant' however .... we arrive early in the morning, settle onto a lounge chair under one of the palapas on the beach ... and there we stay, all day!

We play dominos, splash in the ocean, have a truly wonderful lunch, and sometime eat oysters (that would be Mike, not me!).

Lety's is a restaurant, but the 'family' always make us feel welcome, and at home.

I'm going to be honest here .... sometimes we go twice a week! Like I said, we live in Mazatlan, and it's okay to goof off once in awhile.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Lunch at the Market

We needed to make a Mercado run the other day as we were running seriously short of fruit and veggies. I was also looking for a necklace to wear with a new dress to the Christmas party we were attending that evening, but, of course, I pretended that the food was really the reason we were there.

We stocked up on our produce in no time at all and realized that looking at all that food had made us hungry, so we headed upstairs for lunch. There are,I would guess, at least a dozen restaurants upstairs and the food is delicious, and cheap.

I had Milanese de Pollo (thin chicken cutlets, lightly breaded - yummy) and Mike decided to try the Bistek Rancheros (sliced beef in a delicious spicy sauce). Of course, both meals came with rice, and refried beans. I'm not wildly fond of the beans but Mike loves them, so he eats his and mine as well. My meal was 35 pesos, Mike's was 30. There are 12 pesos to the dollar. With a drink and a tip the meal cost us a little over $6.00 Cdn - for both of us!

The view from upstairs is fascinating.

Waldo's, our local dollar store, is always packed:

There are buses, lots and lots of buses:

More fruit vendors, for those who are in a hurry and don't want to go into the market:

Love what they have done on this building to deter the pigeons

however, the grafitti on the building next door is not quite so impressive

This little one was abolutely priceless. She appeared with her broom and dustpan and very studiously tied up around us while we were enjoying our lunch.

Oh, and I did find a necklace, which matched the dress perfectly!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

"Growing" Things

It amazes me how quickly plants grow in Mexico.

Our terrace is so large that we have lots of space for plant life and I've been busy raiding the neighbours' gardens. There are many nurseries in town and plants stands are set up everywhere, but sometimes it just more fun to see what happens when you stick something in a glass of water for a few weeks.

I have no idea what the green plant is called, but these cuttings have been in water for less than 2 weeks and already have a substantial root system. I'll let them swim a bit longer before finding a pot for them, but so far, they look quite healthy.

The Coleus was acquired yesterday. It's not drooping yet - there might be hope for this bunch as well. Of course, if all else fails, they do look rather nice in the vase.

Our favourite plant of all is the 'stick tree'. There is another name, of course, very Latin, but I can neither spell nor pronounce it, so we just call it 'stick tree'. This one is very easy to transplant - cut it from the 'mother' tree and "stick" it into the dirt. No water, no nothing. However, the sap drips furiously and apparently can be poisonous (!!!?????) so I was very careful. I doubt very much that a drop of sap would affect a human adult, but then again ....

So, all is growing well in my garden, except for what is supposed to turn into our Avacado Tree. Children in school can make these things grow, but I, apparently, can not.

We'll give it another month and see what happens, but I'm not counting on harvesting any time soon.