December 23, 2012

Quinceañera in Arroyo Seco Thursday and we bring the cerveza

ARROYO SECO, Jalisco, Mexico - The quinceañera Thursday of our amiga Brianda (the daughter of our friends and neighbors Chena and Chon) has been a much-anticipated event for the last year.

For Mexicans, this party is a combination debutante ball and birthday party with a lot of trappings that Americans are more used to seeing at very expensive weddings.

And in our village, everybody pitches in, helping with preparations or simply paying for things. Someone lined up the band(s), a video person, a photographer, and arranged for food preparation, cleaning the town square and - of course - purchasing enough beer for a party in a village of 300 people.

Yes, 300 people. Many of them are children, but still. Watch for Corona stock to soar later this week.

Adm. Fox and I got tapped to bring down the cerveza, perhaps a comment on how much alcohol I usually bring and/or consume when in town. But it means we will be stopping at Costco Wednesday on our way south to load up. There are times when having a one-ton Toyota Tundra pickup really has its advantages.

Christmas tourists flooding the beaches
Besides being the bearers of beer, Adm. Fox and I have been enjoying the beach each day, going down mid-afternoon, often staying until sunset. With Christmas two days away, our beach is suddenly full of vacationistas, many of them from inland Mexico. Lots of gringos, too, with pale white skin one day, lobster-like appearances the next. Ouch.

Regardless, they all love the beach. And the sound of all the children splashing and laughing is great.

We heard the sound of granddaughter Sasha laughing a lot today. We met her at the mall with her mother for a two-hour visit. Between bites of pizza and scoops of ice cream, she and Sylvia did origami and played with toys, including a giraffe hand puppet.

For the record, the pizza was consumed by Sasha, not Sylvia or me. (Damn it looked good though...) But yes, the ice cream was shared by all.

Here's a brief video of our close encounter with granddaughter Sasha. She has learned a piece of Spanglish that we now use in place of goodbye when we leave - Hasta Pasta... Watch for it.

December 21, 2012

A happy start with a new Mayan calendar and new epoch

NUEVO VALLARTA, Nayarit, Mexico - We had a scare yesterday as the new day began on Tonga.

We lost the Internet here in Mexico - and thus our electronic link with our amigos there. If the doomsday predictions were right, the apocalypse would be heading our way, hitting Tonga first.

Tonga, you see, is the first place on earth to see the new day, tucked just over the International Dateline. It is already Dec. 22 there and Tongans are out at the Tongan malls doing their Christmas shopping, busy buying shirts in XXXXXXXXL sizes and other gifts.

OK, they're not shopping at malls (there really aren't any) and Christmas is a religious holiday, not a secular-buy-more-today fiesta like the U.S. (and increasingly Mexico). And even Tongans aren't that big.

Here in Nuevo Vallarta the dawn broke beautifully and it is another day of writing (this counts towards that) boogie boarding and, well, that's all I have planned for today.

Adm. Fox already taught her Zumba class which drew close to 30 people today, all shaking it on the beach right in front of the Bahia del Sol condos where we live this winter.

And we just had breakfast at Moon and the Stars Cafe in the Paradise Mall (where the Internet is still working)
Not half bad as they say in Minnesota. Not half bad.

The cartoon below has been making the rounds of Facebook and other places. And as it references tequila, it is particularly significant to those of us south of the border.

Happy Dec. 21, y'all.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

December 17, 2012

Beach music and Star Trek technology all mixed up

NUEVO VALLARTA, Nayarit, Mexico - Sunday was one of those days that mixed the old with the new in the kind of weird juxtapositions we take for granted in 2012.

Adm. Fox and I took a trip to La Cruz de Huanacaxtle where we went to the market to pick up a few items that are hard to get around here: fresh eggplant, homemade pickles and fabulous fruits.

There are also booths selling jewelery, hats, clothing and dozens of other handmade items.

Adm. Fox checks out some exquisite hand-made glass
Comfort food for gringos... not many takers

The market has a requirement that any items sold there must be handmade - merchants can't go to Wal-Mart and load up on crap to sell.

Because of that, all the art stuff, clothing and food is great - if occasionally a little pricey.

We wisely ate a big breakfast before we went. The various booths selling pastas, sandwiches, fresh vegetable stir fries, and some concoction simply labeled Arabian Food all looked and smelled delicious.

That afternoon we were treated to a short concert on the beach played by a quartet of Huichol Indians. The Huichols are natives of Mexico and produce excellent beaded artwork (some of which was for sale at the La Cruz market).

But I have never run into Huichol musicians before. An amiga from Canada caught the whole affair on her camera and passed along this video.

After this musical interlude, we walked to our condo (100 yards away) for a Skype date with daughter Anne and granddaughters Sami and Kami in Sacramento.

We had a great, clear connection and it was fabulous (as always) to be able to chat over thousands of miles and be able to actually see everyone. We were attired in our beach wear. The girls had sweaters even inside the house.

We only tortured them for a few moments with live video of the surf breaking and of our pool, right below the window. I can hear passport applications being filled out even now.

Here's a short video of that conversation. Very Star Trek.

December 11, 2012

A motorcycle and busy oceanside daze in Nuevo Vallarta

NUEVO VALLARTA, Nayarit, Mexico - Admiral Fox and I have been keeping our usual chaotic schedules but last night took time to go to show at the Vallarta Yacht Club put on by a Vallarta-based performer named Kassiano.

What a character this guy is.

He pulled people out of the audience to sing with him, belted out tunes from Sinatra to the latest music and by the end of his show, had virtually everyone in the room on their feet dancing. As you might suspect, we were right in the thick of things.

Rockin' with Kassiano at the Vallarta Yacht Club
On a break from dancing
We were the guests of Bob and Karen O'Hara who helped make the arrangements to bring Kassiano to the yacht club for a special performance.

When Bob and Karen saw him at a theater in downtown Vallarta, he had his full band with him. Last night it was he, a musician amiga and a guy running a sound board. They sounded like a whole orchestra to me.

At one point the dancing he had the crowd jumping up into the air. I don't know the condition of the knees of the other people dancing, but mine are sore today from the impact on tile floor.

Outside of dancing parties, our days here have settled into a sort-of routine. It's sort of, because if something interesting suddenly pops up, well, there goes the routine.

For Sylvia, Mondays, Wednesdays and Friday's at 8 a.m. she's on the beach right in front of our condo (Bahia del Sol) teaching a Zumba class. Today she added a Tuesday-Thursday conversational Spanish class.

For me, I do my dancing on the computer keys, writing for a few hours (or more) while she is out and about. Or I keep writing until my brain overheats. That happened last week - twice. Or was it three times?

Afternoons we usually hit the beach where the boogie boarding and swimming has been awesome.

On the way to the store
The new additions to our vehicle fleet are getting lots of use, too.

We brought up our bicycles from Arroyo Seco and after some serious wrassling with the Mexican Department of Motor Vehicles, got our Honda motor scooter licensed. Now it's the favored vehicle for all errands, particular for Adm. Fox.

And by the way, there is a helmet law in Mexico. I am not kidding. In a nation where you can legally drive around with an open container of beer in your car, you have to wear a helmet.

Dios mio.

December 4, 2012

Yelapa, Nuevo Vallarta and Sayulita - on the road again

SAYULITA, Nayarit, Mexico - Adm. Fox and I took a sojourn up the highway to the beautiful surfing village of Sayulita today. Last February, when we were there with Mike and Karen Schamel of Hector, NY, the streets were all torn up and the place was, well, a fookin' mess. (Pardon my Irish.)

Today the village streets are all back together and because it is very early in the season, relatively quiet. The streets are not any wider though and the Toyota Tundra almost acts like a snowplow in spots, pushing everything out of its way.

The beach, as always, was fabulous.
Sayulita beach

On the way home we stopped by our storage unit where the day before, Adm. Fox and our new amiga Shania had stopped to put a few things into the locker.

Scorpions beware
They were greeted by a granddaddy-sized scorpion, which they dispatched rather quickly, according to their account of the encounter.

But today Adm. Fox told the front desk people about the critter who had taken up residence (and been evicted) and before you can say scorpion in Spanish (alacran), they were sending over an exterminator to give the place the once over with poison.

He waded in with a tank on his back and started blasting away like Clint Eastwood in a Dirty Harry movie.

I'm pretty sure the unit will be alacran free in no time. But to be safe, I plan on staying out of the place for the next few weeks at least.

We had a few other adventures this past week, including catching a power boat ride on Banderas Bay with Elizabeth and Doug.

We went south to Yelapa and then ran along the coast coming back, spotting lots of wildlife, including a whale, dolphins and some wildly colored fish that came to the surface when we tossed out some bread.

We also stopped by the fuel dock to fill up on our way back to Paradise Village. I was reminded why my only power boat these days has a 35 hp Mercury outboard that sips gasoline nearly as slow as a teetotaler imbibes beer at a frat party.

Here's some photos from that round-the-bay expedition:
Yelapa waterfront

More sourdough bread please...     

Las Animas beach and restaurants