February 24, 2009

Dining in the street - and fishing on Tenacatita Bay

LA MANZANILLA, Jalisco, Mexico - We took a vacation from The Pink Flamingo in Arroyo Seco for a few days this week, going to the big city of La Manzanilla where we had dinner Monday night at the restaurant owned by the grandmother of our God-daughter, Devani.

Irma and our God-daughter's mother, Mimi, put on an incredible meal for us at a price of about 55 pesos per person. And the nine of us loaded up on chile rellenos and pozole.

For most of the folks - from Hector, New York and Boston - it was their first experience sitting street-side while having dinner.

Crowd at Irma and Mimi's in La Manzanilla
Dinner at Irma's, a half-block from the church

The traffic was quite cooperative, however and though people sitting in the outside chairs flinched a few times when the trucks rolled by, it didn't diminish the meal a bit.

The three bottles of wine on the table might have helped with anxiety, too.

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After the good chow Monday, two of our amigos from the East Coast of the U.S., (Karl and Mike), went out fishing early Tuesday morning, stocked with sunscreen, hats and a small quantity of beer to stave off dehydration.

Oh, and they took fishing gear too, in a panga with the three local Mexican fisherman who took them out.

When Karl and Mike came in four hours later, they swore that they had not caught a damn thing.

Not true it turned out. Not true at all.

Part of the catch - red snapper
Bucket of red snapper

Karl holds his prize skipjack tuna
Karl shows off his skipjack tuna

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In our other travels before heading to the big city, Admiral Fox and I did make a foray out to Playa Chica in Arroyo Seco Sunday morning to check on the status of the surf - and surfers.

The waves were large and some of the surfers were having a great time, even with a relatively short break in the surf.

I was able to grab one photo of a fellow who appeared to be trying to surf sans a surfboard.

Amazing things happen here in Arroyo Seco.

Barefoot surfing in Arroyo Seco
Barefoot surfing?

February 19, 2009

School is out for winter, let the rest of the fun begin

ARROYO SECO, Jalisco, Mexico - The Admiral left this afternoon to take son Dylan north to Puerto Vallarta where he will pick up his flight back to the U.S. tomorrow. He's a little more tan, a lot more relaxed, and convinced that his lunatic parents made a really good choice in deciding to settle in this part of Mexico.

We - the lunatics - totally agree.

Today was devoted to the longest stretch of sleeping this captain has taken in years, a total of 12 hours of shuteye from crashing last night until nearly noon this morning. (There were margaritas involved yesterday.) But then I had to finish version 1.2 of a movie for our Canadian amiga Laura Warner who put on such a great set of English classes for the village children last week that they are still talking about Senora Laura.

Class of 2009
Laura Warner and the Arroyo Seco Class of 2009

The movie is a chronicle of her class and stay, and in its final form should be a complete Fox-Fitzgerald Rockumentary.

At present, it only has three songs - long on the documentary part, short on the rock music. More music will be included in the final cut.

Barra Marina and lagoon anchorage
Barra de Navidad marina and lagoon

With the English classes over, the Admiral and I have shifted back into the go-to-the-beach mode, with side trips to places like Barra de Navidad, a touristy sort of place south of Melaque but very fun to visit.

We stayed at the marina in Barra several seasons aboard our sailboat Sabbatical, enjoying the great amenties of the hotel (pools, hot showers, great food, etc...). We took Hector, N.Y. amigos Mike and Karen Schamel there this past week to give them the tour, along with Cousin Ruth, whose daughters and significant others arrived this week for vacations.

Mike and Karen's daughter, Kathleen, was crew on our sailboat Sabbatical on those sojourns and loved the Grand Bay Hotel and Marina. We think she might love the Pink Flamingo, too.

Tenacatita sunset
La Manzanilla Sunset

Laura, Julien and the sunset
Julien and Laura on Playa Chica at Arroyo Seco

And the cold/pulmonia./cough stuff?

Better it seems, provided there's plenty of sleep involved. Which is why this blog ends right here...

Buenas noches, amigos.

February 16, 2009

Laura's language school is over - but will return again

ARROYO SECO, Jalisco, Mexico - Our Canadian amigo Laura Warner ended up her all-too-brief stay here at the Pink Flamingo on Sunday, after a whirlwind week of teaching ingles to 30 (or more) village children and getting involved in the wedding Saturday night here in the village.

Friday morning - at the end of the last session - many of her young charges said they wanted her to keep teaching next week, and the week after, and the week after, and....

There was barely a dry eye among those of us who helped Laura with the class.

Julien with children
Julien gives a group lesson in English, French and Spanish

One of the helpers was Julien, a surfer who lives part of the year in Arroyo Seco, the rest in France where he works on high-rise buildings doing painting and window washing - on the outside. Despite the strenuousness of his French occupation, he told Laura that the time he spent teaching the children this past week was the hardest thing he had ever done.

This from a guy whose first language is French, Spanish is second and English third.

Julien has been helping nephew Nate to learn how to surf and will soon probably be giving some instructions to Ruth Bills' crew, arriving tomorrow, who will be staying in La Manzanilla, but who we expect to see a lot of in Arroyo Seco

Studying hard and trying to see the board
Trying hard to see the board - and the English phrases

The students worked very hard and although none of them will be giving any major addresses in English in the near future, it helped spark a lot of enthusiasm. We are cautiously planning on seeing how we can conduct some mini-classes in coming weeks and months. Prospective visitors be warned: you might be teaching un poco ingles.

The next few days are dedicated to reclaiming the property and cleaning up after have seven people around for a week. Everyone pitched in very well, but seven people is, well, seven people.

Oh, and Lucky the dog did his part to make life interesting, too.

Eager student
She says 'Good Morning' now, each day as she passes

February 11, 2009

Arroyo Seco children learning English through music

ARROYO SECO, Jalisco, Mexico - The second day of our amiga Laura Warner's classes de Ingles for the village children went well today, with the addition of some American rap music.

Yup, American rap.

Hey! Whatever works!
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The rap was just part of a multi-pronged lesson that included practice with phrases like: I have two brothers and three sisters, I like to dance and My favorite sport is soccer.

What was supposed to be an intimate class of 10 or 11 students mushroomed to 31 at one point, with children elbowing their way onto the palapa at The Pink Flamingo, their notebooks in hand.

Their sincerity at wanting to learn is heartbreaking.

Laura's class
Laura's class in Arroyo Seco

Laura teaching music
Using music as a teaching tool

We have two more days of classes and the children are excited, showing up at the gate promptly at 3 p.m. for the lessons. Laura asked for my dictionary today so she could look up the word in Spanish for 'overwhelmed' because she felt that after two days of teaching so many eager children in so short a time frame.

Still, many of the children linger after the lesson to fine tune parts of what they heard and get ready for the next day's words.

And in the morning, instead of practicing my Spanish as the 10-12-year-olds walk by going to school (as I was doing), now they have instructions from Laura to speak to me in Ingles. And I, of course, am supposed to respond to help them learn.

It's a big school right now, for all of us.

Working in notebook
Student notebook

On an unrelated, yet related note, my doctor has declared me pneumonia-free but did put me on a new drug two days ago that has me on the mend very quickly. These pesky bronchitis-type infections can turn nasty in their tropical climate and my doc said she is not taking any chances.

I agree with that medical strategy.

February 6, 2009

Pulmonia update, and good news around The Pink Flamingo

ARROYO SECO, Jalisco, Mexico - I rolled up the highway to Careyes this morning to check in with Dr. Lupita about my pulmonia and lung infection. The good news is she is nearly sure the infection is probably wiped out. The bad news is that small percentage of doubt means another 5 days of Cefuroxima and an world-class expectorant.

The expectorant, tiny pills called Ambroxol, are potent. One pill had me coughing and hacking hard enough to make the bougainevilla cringe. I won't go into more detail except I will be required to ride with the car window down for a few days.

The doctor did tell me that my pulmonia was not caused by dust, but by an upper respiratory infection that decided to take up residence in my lungs. It could have even been the same infection I contracted in December in Sacramento from granddaughter Kami.

But I am officially off bed rest and officially returned to light duty: motorcycle riding, light duties in the yard, the occasional beer and a generous amount of hammock testing. The Admiral and I were supposed to go to Tenacatita Beach today for lunch, but are sitting waiting for the electrical company to install our second service.

Waiting in Mexico? You are kidding?

bano suite
The Admiral sweeps the completed showers & banos

The past few days has been marked by the sounds of silence - the workmen have left. The showers/banos project is done and with the solar hot water heater installed, there is plenty of hot water. Sometimes, it can be a little too hot, actually.

The only person left working (besides the Admiral and I) is the electrictian, a neighbor, who is doing our job in his off hours from a major project. If the Admiral can't plug in her new washing machine again today, Sr. Electrico better watch out for live wires and stray electrical currents.

Our tile maestro did an excellent job, adding the little touches chosen by the Admiral in just the right spots.

Dolphins at the Pink Flamingo
Dolphins dance at The Pink Flamingo

Next on the agenda for that area is to plant some small trees and flowers: a project our first set of guests is going to get to help with.

Me, I'm staying a little clear of the agave and Yucca plants and will let los invitados take care of them.

This morning I jabbed my calf with a Yucca and the blood spurted six inches. It took several minutes to stop the bleeding and I decided I don't like those spiney little bastards so much anymore. Perhaps they will find a home outside the compound.

We did get the washing machine going yesterday by running an extension cord for power across the property. And when the laundry was clean and hanging up, we truly looked like we fit in the neighborhood and are home.

Mexican scene
Getting the laundry dry the natural way

February 2, 2009

In Mexico, it's called 'pulmonia,' but it is still pneumonia

ARROYO SECO, Jalisco, Mexico - Four days ago I came home from nearby Manzanillo with the Admiral, the Tundra pickup heavily loaded with tiles, grout and adhesive for the banos and showers, a solar water heater - and a shiney new Honda Wave motor-scooter in the back, my contribution to supporting the Mexican economy.

The fact that the exchange rate for dollars to pesos is waaaaay high, swayed me to grab the bike, a unit I have had my eye on since last fall while the rains started in Sacramento.

MIchael on Honda at dealership
At the dealership - while the Admiral paid the bill

Unfortunately, by the next morning when I took my first ride, I had started to feel ill, which I completely attributed to overeating fish at amigo Mario's house, and possibly the two shots of tequila I downed on top of several beers with dinner. Mexico does not encourage moderation for some of us. I did drink some coconut milk that morning out on the ranch tended by our neighbor Chon. It helped at least for that day.

But by Sunday morning, the chills and fevers were bad enough that I resigned myself to heading to nearby Careyes which has a clinic and a doctor who is well respected. She checked me over and within minutes declared I had a lung infection for sure, and a some rattling consistent with pneumonia. The irony is that I have moved to the tropics, only to get a disease I associate with cold weather climates.

Go figure.

But three pills and doses into the medicine, I feel better - not good, but better. The antibiotic must be a whopper. I take a single pill and follow it with a nap for about two hours.

While I slept this morning, some good news was delivered - or perhaps assembled is a better expression. Our plumber and his son put together our solar water heater and promise to hook up the unit today or tomorrow.

Solar water heater means, well, solar-heated water for showers, provided the coconuts from my neighbor's trees don't come crashing down and wreck it. Hmm. Coconuts? They are hanging over my bodega. Perhaps there should be more coconut milk as part of my recovery plan.

Solar water heater from the front
Solar water heater

Solar water heater from the side
Solar water heater tubes