Sunday, December 15, 2013

Roller Art

One of the things we really enjoy about Mazatlan is the wide range of cultural events available to us at a very low cost. We have a world class symphony, a great music school and of course the Angela Peralta Theater which hosts events ranging from modern dance, to flamenco,to a Bee Gees knock off band. Cultura Mazatlan also puts on a number of free events which we try to take in every year. This year we saw a classical guitarist playing at the Art Gallery and a classical pianist also at the Gallery. Then we saw a German Techno Rock Band who were set up at the Plaza Machado, which is about a 5 minute walk fro our house. But one of my favourites is the demonstration of Roller Art. It's very unique. Basically a number of local artists are asked to particiapate. The theme this year was Day of the Dead. Each artist carves a reverse image of their chosen design on a large 3' x 4' board. Then she will ink it with a thick layer of printers ink.
The inked board is then put in a frame on the ground and a paper put over the top and then a board to protect everything and an industrial roller is rolled over the inked board and paper.
And when it is done you end up with a one of a kind ink print that is sold and typically mounted in someones house. They usually sell for 5000 pesos and up depending on the artist and the design. This is our friend, Dave Robb who is very talented local artist holding his finished print.
Something a little different that we have never seen before. And it's all in Mazatlan.

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Hood

Sandie and I have been asked many times what it is like to live in Mazatlan? In particular what is your neighborhood like? Well the area we live in is called Centro Historico. It is located in the old, original, central part of Mazatlan. Many of the homes including ours are more than 100 years old and some even 150 years old. Some of the streets like ours which is called Venus (in Spanish it is pronounced Bay - noose) are very narrow and date back to when the transportation was by horse or carriage. Here is Sandie standing on our street just down from our house. The other street near us is Romanita de la Pena. Again a very old street but with more modern homes. Unfortunatly man of the old homes were torn down in years past and replaced with modern concrete boxes. There is now a Mexico wide society called INAH which is working to preserve the old buildings but unfortunatly many once beautiful old homes have already been destroyed. At the end of Romanita is the Malecon and the ocean. It is about a 5 minute walk for us to go down to see the sunset or enjoy a small beach called Olas Altas. We thoroughly enjoy our little slice of paradise. Sometimes the neighborhood dogs are too loud, sometimes the music is a little loud, sometimes the cars drive a little fast but all in all we are trying to relax and remember we are living the life in Mexico next to the Pacific Ocean so there really isn't that much to complain about in our hood.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Mexico at Last ... Again

Well here we are back in Mazatlan ... Again. This is our sixth winter in Mazatlan! Hard to imagine. It seems like only yesterday we stopped working, got Sandie healthy and drove down here. And Wow were we ever newbies. We didn't know where to buy anything, or how to get anything at all done. Crazy but great times we'll always remember. Well this year is a little different. We have our new house all finished except for some decorating and we are here for seven months. The prov of Manitoba now allows it's citizens to be out of province for a month longer now. So we had to decide if we wanted to come and extra month or stay and extra month. We opted to come early and miss the early cold weather. It has been interesting lets say. When we got here on Oct 5th we found only a few winter tourist already here and of course the folks who stay all year. AND IT WAS HOT< HOT HOT< HOT!!!! Did I mention it was HOT. Temperatures in the high 30's every day and extreme humidity. We were taking 3 -4 showers a day. It was so warm we never actually turned the hot water on, the water in our tinaco (which is a large storage container on our roof) stayed so warm you didn't need to turn the hot water on. Sure saved on gas though. We didn't do very much the first month. It was just too warm to do much. Relaxed and got settled mostly. Caught up with friends and planned a couple of projects for when it got a little more comfortable. And yes we managed to get to the beach a few times. Actually twice as much as last year already as this year we didn't have to be here for the house reno's and Sandie is healed up from her broken ankle. We will try to be more diligent in keeping our blog up to date for everyone this year. We have some projects and things that we will share with you as we go through this winter. And we always like to get comments back if you read this and suggestions as to what you would like to see or hear about while we are here.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Mazatlan 2013

Sandie and I are regularly asked why we picked Mazatlan to live half of our lives and why we would ever actually buy a house here. Sometimes it is difficult to put into words the attraction to this city so we thought we would send along the newest Mazatlan promotion video which says it all in pictures. The people in the video are people we know here in Mazatlan. It is a few minutes long so grab a comfortable seat, a cold cerveza, put your shorts on, turn up the heat to get that local feeling (about 27 deg. today) look outside at the snow and cold if you are up north and enjoy. And maybe The Pearl of the Pacific will lure you down here to.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Arrangements had been made to rent a little house on Ninos Heroes, just around the corner from ours, on Venus, but only for 2 months. We knew the pressure would be on and that we would be busy, but I don't think we realized just how hectic it would be. We simply had to have everything finished by the end of December, or we would be homeless. I was determined that we would be in our new home by Christmas Day. We had accumulated some larger pieces of furniture before we left Mazatlan last spring, and had stored it with friends, but there were still countless things that were needed. We were lucky to hit the sales when we arrived early in November (similar to the 'Black Friday' sales in the USA) and purchased all of our appliances and TV at a considerable savings. It did mean getting up at the crack of dawn to get to the stores to do this, but it was worth it in the end. That was the easy part. We needed tiles, lots and lots of tiles. We found tiles we liked for the floors easily enough, but they were either not in stock, or if they were, there were not enough of them. Finally Jesus took us under his wing and spent the day shopping with us and we found what we were looking for. We then started the search for the tiles necessary for the bathrooms and kitchen. We knew we wanted Talavera tiles, but they are difficult to find in Mazatlan in the quantity we required. We had friends who had `left overs` from their renovation projects and we were able to purchase three different patterns from them, and after more days of searching, found a store that was able to supply us with the plain colours we wanted. Of course, nothing is ever simple and at first they told us that the blue we needed was discontinued. I was quickly moving into panic mode, until we realized that `discontinued`is just another way to say `not in stock`. After what seemed to be forever, but was really only a few weeks, the blue tiles appeared in the store, and we were set to go. The staff at Home Depot were getting to recognize us. We needed light fixtures, ceiling fans, faucets for the bathrooms and kitchen, everything imaginable for building a house from scratch, the list went on and on. Our stack of receipts is close to two inches high! When we first heard that a Home Depot was arriving in Mazatlan and I was a bit put off, it just seemed so `nothern`and just not right. Don`t feel that way now, no way, don`t know how we would have managed without them. Other than the range hood for the stove, and the under the counter lights in the kitchen, we managed to achieve our goal to purchase everything that was required for the house right here in Mazatlan. And so, it is finished, and we are in. We made the move on December 29th, not by Christmas Day, but close to it. We still have things we want to do, and there are blank spots on many of the walls, but it doesn`t matter. We are in, it is home, and we are thrilled.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

So Close, So Very Close

At times, it seemed to take forever, but we were finally almost ready to move in. Everything was covered with a thick layer of dust, but we could see the light at the end of the tunnel. Every night, after the crew left, we came over to clean up. But we never did manage to completely control the chaos. Rubin finished the floors, a special challenge in the living room as we opted to use a porous clay tile around the perimeter of the room. Our home was built in an area that was once even closer to the beach than it is now and there is still a great deal of water in the ground. It was suggested by INAH, the National Preservation Society, that the use of these tiles would allow the water to evaporate and not move up into the walls of the building, which because of their age are considered historic. We have never seen this done, but felt that if it helped preserve the integrity of our home, it was worth the aggravation. We are not sure if Rubin felt the same way! I have to confess I was not too thrilled about the idea, but now that the tiles are laid am pleased with the results. The tiling had been completed in the bathrooms. Notice the dust! Mario and the crew had finally finished the staircase and railings for the upper landing and installed the circular stair case on the terrace to enable us to reach the upper roof top. At the moment we have no plans for this space, but perhaps, someday. Mario is a really nice guy, but extremely unpunctual, and we joked with him about buying him a watch, and a calendar! We learned never to expect him on the day he said he would be at the house and certainly not at the time he mentioned. The staircase was removed after the first installation as it was not level (high frustration level here), but, eventually, the job was completed and it looks great. The generator is 50 years old by the way, it is a wonder any of these men are still alive. Augustine did an amazing job laying the talevara tiles in the kitchen, which we immediately covered with cardboard as there was still other work to be completed. Why were the tiles laid before everything else was finished? We never did figure that one out, and just kept our fingers crossed that the cardboard would do the trick and keep everything intact. Elias, our carpenter, had started work on the interior doors. All of the openings in the house are different, so each and every door was made to measure. We showed him a picture of what we wanted and the doors are perfect. We were unable to save the original exterior wooden doors as they were just too dilapitated to repair, but Elias duplicated them exactly and we are thrilled with the results. We will have him back next season for a few additional projects. The electrician Mike installed the light fixtures and fans and after a struggle managed to get the vent hood installed in the kitchen. Mike, who told us his real name is Javier, works without a level, ruler or tape measure, so getting the fan level was a challenge. That project came close to driving my Mike out of his mind. Martin arrived to do the painting. We knew it was almost time to make arrangements for moving day. There were times we laughed, and times we felt like exploding. I learned a new phrase in Spanish, “Que estabas pensandos” which means "what were you thinking!" and I used it more than once. We arrived one evening to find piles of wet black concrete on the kitchen counters (so much for the cardboard). We realized that when Mike aka Javier figured that when a light fixture or fan was installed, it didn't matter if they were crooked, or if he had left a six inch hole in the ceiling beside it. If it worked, it was “OK”. We knew that eventually the water leaks in the bathroom would be tracked down and repaired. And that the walls could be repainted, again. We discovered very quickly that it was best not to leave the iron workers unattended as they were not the tidiest of craftsmen and they could not seem to grasp the concept of protecting the tiles and walls from the sparks that flew around as they were welding. We are still finding little black spots on the tiles on the staircase. We missed out on a lot the first two months of our trip this year, as we felt that we needed to be at the house every day, or no further than a phone call away. We cancelled plans with friends more than once because someone (that would be Mario) arrived at the house at 4:30 p.m. instead of 10:00 a.m. as he had promised. There were also nights that we were just too tired, or stressed, to go out. But, would we do it again? Definitely, in a heartbeat!!