January 25, 2010

A night of nights at Palapa Joe's open mic extravaganza

LA MANZANILLA, Jalisco, Mexico - The open mic night at Palapa Joe's Saturday was not billed as an extravaganza, but it turned out to be one anyway.

The bar and restaurant were packed to overflowing a full hour before the first music set was to begin and the Palapa Joe's crew worked double time - make that triple time - to fill food and drink orders.

Even the sidewalk outside was filled from time to time with people wondering if they could come in and find a place to perch to listen.

As always, Jane Gorby (aka Lois Lane, for her work with the Guadalajara Reporter) introduced the acts and provided clever segues as musicians tried to set up their equipment and do sound checks. She jumped into the act herself with a reading.

The evening was as electic as it was fun, with poetry, ballads, Celtic music, drama and some rock 'n' roll thrown in.

When is the next open mic?

Watch the La Manzanilla message board, but it should be in about two weeks.

Bernardo the crooner
Bernardo croons a tune

Celtic trio at Palapa Joe's
Celtic trio got the crowd tapping its feet

Gabriela reads poetry
Gabriela de la Vega reads her poetry - in Spanish and English

January 23, 2010

Celtic music group a hit at hotel Boca de Iguanas

BOCA DE IGUANAS, Jalisco, Mexico - The Celtic trio of Myranda O'Byrne, Michael Price, and Admiral Sylvia Fox put on a one-hour show Friday afternoon for about 40 in the beachfront bar of the hotel Boca de Iguanas.

While they played, Jimmi Jorgensen and his bartender worked like mad to keep up with the margarita orders.

What a combination - tequila, lime and Irish music.

The songs were all lively and while no one jumped up to do any Irish jigs - or dance a reel - there was plenty of toe-tapping.

The event was part social, and part fund-raiser, for a project to raise money to purchase some guitars. The guitars will eventually be used by Myranda to teach music to children at the Pink Flamingo in Arroyo Seco, where Laura Warner started teaching her English classes this week.

Friday's one-hour gig netted 700 pesos for the project.

Sylvia and Myranda
Sylvia and Myranda

Girls at the Boca bar
Celtic trio fans at Boca

Tonight the trio will be playing at the open mic night at Palapa Joes in La Manzanilla and returns to Boca in two weeks for another gig, and fund raiser.

There is some talk of a few audience participation songs by the trio, too.

No matter what, get to Palapa Joe's early to get a seat.

January 20, 2010

All school, all the time at the Pink Flamingo in Arroyo Seco ... sort of

ARROYO SECO, Jalisco, Mexico - The last few days have been a whirlwind of educational activity at the Pink Flamingo.

First, we had an afternoon and evening cooking class, taught by neighbors Chena and Chon. The couple got four of our gringo amigos working hard on preparing a great taco dinner, with all the attendant sauces and fillings. They eventually fed a group of probably 20 people. And they learned their lessons well.

No one went home hungry Saturday. And not much was left over for the next night's dinner either.

I know that for a fact...

But the classes that started Tuesday were less aimed at the belly and more at the head, as Chief Education Officer Laura Warner began teaching English to a small cadre of Arroyo Seco children. She left her teaching position in Canada - where she taught French and Spanish - to spend the spring at the Pink Flamingo teaching English.

Oh, and she is squeezing in some surfing, swimming, quad-riding, snorkeling trips, too, and, and, and...

Teachers get to have fun, too.


January 16, 2010

High tides on Playa Chica and fresh concrete walls in town

ARROYO SECO, Jalisco, Mexico - The great 'smoothing-the-walls' project continued this morning, with the three-man crew planning a half-day of work. They hope to have the wall next to the palapa finished by mid-day so that this afternoon's cooking class with maestra Chena will have a more attractive backdrop than the tarps we have hanging up to protect the appliances.

It was also payday for the workers, who now have big smiles on their faces after getting paid - in cash of course - by our vecino and straw boss, Chon. I'm still smiling because I paid a fraction of what I would have paid in the U.S. And that included having an electrician completely rewire one side of the property with proper sized wires and receptacles.

It also included having the same electrician go inside of Laura's condominio (Grey Goose Express I) to check out a power problem. After going over the entire house-on-wheels, I went into the bathroom and realized the safety breaker by the sink had flipped.


We also had some great news yesterday. Our amigo Francisco got his immigration status cleared and is back home in the U.S. We wrote a letter to the INS (or whatever it is called) on his behalf.

Admiral Fox detailed out the situation in her blog:

  • Admiral's Log

  • In the meantime, the Admiral and I took a walk to Playa Chica early so that I could try to shake my head cold loose. Somehow in the the past few days I caught a real frozen-north beauty of a cold which has given me a case of laryngitis and headache.

    The ocean air cleared up both - at least for the present.

    Here's a brief video of the waves, which show how high the tides are running this week.

    January 13, 2010

    More work, more noise, more dinero as the walls get beautified...

    ARROYO SECO, Jalisco, Mexico - The workmen arrived this morning right at 8 a.m., trowels and shovels and chisels at the ready as they continued working on smoothing out the walls here at the Pink Flamingo.

    The electrician appears to be done with his work - except for pushing the connections into the boxes. But instead of risking popping a circuit breaker (or zapping myself), I pressed my trusty Honda generator into work today to keep la luz working until he gets back from his lunch.

    Honda generator at work
    Honda generator getting its first 2010 workout

    The generator was one of those pieces of equipment I agonized over purchasing before leaving the states two years ago. It was relatively costly - $860 U.S. - and Admiral Fox and I knew we already had electricity on site.

    Who needs a genset when you have CFE?

    That said, I am soooooooo glad I bought it - and have it. Last year it was cranked up a dozen times as we had semi-regular power outages as work was done on the trunk lines coming into the ranch.

    And as we look at doing work on other Arroyo Seco lots, I think it will come in quite handy again.

    Go little Honda...

    Mud walls
    Slapping on the mud

    What little organization we had here before this was started has given way to a landscape of sand, concrete, wheelbarrows, wire, electrical junctions boxes and assorted tools all over the property.

    But the likelihood is that the walls will be done by Saturday.

    Just in time to start some painting, I suppose.

    January 12, 2010

    From boogie-boarding to the sounds of construction in Arroyo Seco

    ARROYO SECO, Jalisco, Mexico - In 12 hours, we went from a quiet little enclave, mostly interested in how to get sand out of shoes to the middle of a massive construction zone.

    At 8 a.m., neighbor Chon arrived with a crew to begin a stucco-the-wall project that is expected to take all week. At 9 a.m. Rodrigo the plumber arrived, ready to install the new copper piping for the water system.

    And shortly after 10 a.m., the electrician arrived and began yanking wires and redoing power on one side of the property.

    As the joke goes, 'Coffee break is over, back on your heads...'

    That said, the plumber might get done today, the electrician is waiting for the trench to be dug to put things underground and a huge shipment of cement has arrived to slap up on walls to seal them.

    Progress, progress.

    Using head to carry cemento
    Using his head

    Cement pool
    Cement mixing

    Laura's condominio
    Laura's condominio from the roof of the bodega

    As much as I enjoy being in the middle of all this concrete dust, noise and chaos, (Note to readers: That was sarcastic, in case you were dozing), I am going on a foray south tomorrow (and away from the property to get some warranty work done, shop for groceries and hardware, and pick up brother-in-law David at the Manzanillo Airport.

    Maybe it will all be done when we return in the evening.


    January 10, 2010

    Two days of heading to the beach - and 'serious' boogie boarding

    ARROYO SECO,  Jalisco, Mexico - For two days in a row (a record of sorts) the Admiral and I all but suspended our work schedule around the Pink Flamingo property to go to the beach.

    Saturday, we went to our own Playa Chica here in Arroyo Seco with Chief Education Officer Laura, two friends of hers from Canada (Henry and Maureen) and our amigos Randy and Karin from Northern California. The non-Arroyo Seco folks are staying in La Manzanilla.

    We set up a base camp on the beach. (Note to my dermatologist: please check out our shade structure).  Henry and Maureen tried surfing, while Randy and I did our best to boogie board without getting pulled out to sea by a pretty strong rip tide. The waves were huge, too.

    Beach camp at Playa Chica
    Base camp at Playa Chica in Arroyo Seco

    Laura and Maureen
    Maureen and Laura

    Sunday, Laura, the Admiral and I met up with the same group out at Tenacatita for snorkeling and then boarding riding. They came by car, we roared in from Arroyo Seco on the quad (a half-hour ride) skimming along the beaches to Fiesta Mexicana.

    At Tenacatita, the waves were less exciting, but the boogie-boarding still excellent as the video of Henry and Randy shows.

    January 6, 2010

    Typical muggy morning - and then the rain hit! Que es esto?

    ARROYO SECO, Jalisco, Mexico - While Admiral Fox was off playing some music with amigos today at Boca de Iguanas, Chief Education Officer Laura Warner and I made a foray to the nearby town of Emiliano Zapata, a few miles away, to buy paint, bricks and, of course, a delicious rotisserie chicken for dinner.

    Oh! And we needed to buy more Off insect spray, something in short supply in La Manzanilla.

    No problem in Zapata. And they had it in the spray cans. Very efficient.

    But on the return trip we noticed that some of the trucks heading north were using their windshield wipers.

    How odd, we thought? It couldn't be!

    But it was.

    We started getting the rain around 1 p.m. that had apparently begun earlier in La Manz. Not heavy rain, not the kind of rain that even makes much in the way of mud. But rain, anyway.

    And with it, cooler temps and now less humidity than this morning's heavy air that felt like New York City in August.

    Bring on the rain, por favor.

    January 5, 2010

    A night on the town in La Manzanilla, complete with music

    LA MANZANILLA, Jalisco, Mexico - The Admiral, Laura and I left the quiet confines of Arroyo Seco for a fundraiser party at Rusty and Julie Wagner's last night, a fundraiser that was very successful, both financially and, well, socially.

    The music was provided by Willie (of Palapa Joes) on the guitar and amigo Dan on a hot harmonica. And along with their tunes was the singing and guitar music of duo Simone and Mike who got quite a few people out dancing.

    In fact, they got nearly everyone out dancing.

    Yup, even this captain.

    The money raised goes towards the cost of putting on a free spay and neutering clinic in March, an annual event that draws people with dogs from the entire area.

    Last year, the Admiral and I dragged about 24 pooches in for operations from out in Arroyo Seco. Not sure I am up to that task again, but then I don't think there are that many dogs left in Arroyo Seco that need tending to.

    Dance floor at Julie's
    Dance floor at Rusty and Julie's

    Captain's angels
    Admiral Fox, Jane Gorby (AKA Lois Lane) and Laura Warner