Scorpion

I was sitting minding my own business just after Rosalie left for bed when I saw what I thought was a gecko but turned out to be a scorpion sauntering across the floor. They look kind of funny. I always imagined them walking with their tails up but this one was flat to the floor. Of all the times we’ve been down here I have never seen one. Rosalie has now seen three.

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Okay! How do I deal with this thing? First, call for Rosalie, it cuts my chance of being stung by fifty percent and I know she’s a lot braver than me; yea right! Well, she did stand behind me and urge me on. I decided to use the old glass and a piece of paper trick so I grabbed a large plastic container and moved in. The fight began.

He wasn’t giving up without a fight. When I finally managed to get the container over the beast I could see his stinger bashing against the side of the container and knew that he was a tad pissed off. Next, I bravely slid a thin plastic cutting board under him. Again with a fight. He was a game little bugger and wouldn’t cooperate at all.

When I finally got him under control I took a closer look at him. They are nifty looking creatures with eight legs, two claws and that nasty little stinger.

We took him outside and I tossed him over the gate to his hard earned freedom. Of course, for the rest of the evening I was nervously looking about for more but fortunately didn’t see any. The next morning I was telling Gerry next door about it and told him I had thrown it over the wall into his patio. Fortunately, he didn’t believe I could be so mean.

Believing that to know your enemy is a good thing, I googled ‘scorpion stings’ and logged into the Mayo Clinic web site. It appears that they are no more dangerous than a nasty wasp sting although far more painful.

All we have to do now is find a name for him. Steve would be good but we already gave that to Peter’s squirrel. We are both somewhat leaning toward ‘Cyrano.’ He doesn’t have a long nose but does have an impressive tail.

Thinking back, I should have thrown him over the back wall from our bedroom window with a tiny parachute and instruction to get that f***ing rooster. That would teach him to wake me up at four am.

The experience was a little unnerving but a least it wasn’t a spider.

 

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It’s almost time

Five and a half months have just flown by. Looking back, we did a lot of stuff while we were down here: from horseback riding, trips to PV, eating out and chasing the music, to learning Spanish. It’s been a lot of fun. And then we also had friends and family stay with us or a week or two.

Last weekend being a holiday, there were hundreds of Mexicans from the interior here. The beaches were covered with people having fun. But now they are all gone. We had a drink on the beach yesterday and the whole place seems deserted. There are more stores closed than usual so I think the locals are powering down for the end of the tourist season.

It’s a little strange walking around town. There are very few Nordenoes any more as most have gone home over the past few weeks. Also, we are used to people dropping in as they head uptown, but now, nobody! Gerry and Elaine are still next door and a few other people but that’s about it. We’re starting to feel a bit isolated.

Vic and Suzanne went home on Thursday so the night before we went with them to dinner with friends, Ray and Tere. He is from Ontario and she is Mexican but now has her Canadian citizenship. They also brought her sister Imelda along. They speak English very well and gave us some pointers to help with our Spanish.

We ended up at their home sitting around their pool drinking wine and tequila. We had visited them a few weeks ago and received the grand tour. It’s large and bright because Tere made sure when they built it, that glass blocks were inserted in the concrete ceilings. There is a central courtyard with a large dipping pool and at night it’s lit with fairy lights. It was a good night all around with great company.

Learning a new language has been fun. We have probably doubled our Spanish words and phrases. I can now ask for a beer in four different ways instead of two. I’m very proud of Rosalie though, she doesn’t get stuck very often and when she does we use Google Translate. But it turns out, we can’t totally rely on it.

I came up with my favourite saying “Mi esposa no dice mas” (my wife says no more.) We didn’t think it was quite right but Google Translate said it was, so, good. I used this phrase several times. I did get a few funny looks but mostly I was understood.  It turns out we were right. I was saying, “my wife no says more” After trying a couple of other translator apps I now use the correct way to say it.

There have been a lot of setbacks when learning new words and phrases but we plod on. We have heard things people say, that we thought were wrong, only to find out we were the ones off base. If we do get stuck we ask friendly, English speaking Mexicans for help, who have helped us out many times and seem to love doing it.

This year I was determined to try and use Spanish more, no matter the ensuing embarrassment. The more I use it the more confident I get. I sometimes come up with a Spanish word that has been buried way back in my noggin but then can’t remember what it means.

The problem I have is with understanding when people speak to me in Spanish. They speak very quickly, but I’m noticing that I can pick out more and more words in a conversation now. Numbers still mess with me though. I recently gave a shopkeeper thirty pesos instead of thirteen, he was good enough to give me change, so all was well. Now I have enough money to order two more cervezas in four different ways.

St Patrick’s day

The Mexicans are celebrating yet again. This time for St Patrick’s day. This is in celebration of The St Patrick’s Battalion.  They start at the beginning of the month and continue right through to the 17th.

We started the day before; the 16th. Ron and Julie are here so we arranged to meet up with Pat and Mike for a Pizza in Barra. After Pizza, Mike was feeling a bit under the weather so Pat took him home and arranged to meet us later.

At Lucy’s bar, we had a reservation so we ordered drinks and settled in for great music with Dave Spinks and company. He is really good and I always enjoy listening to him. Who said older folk don’t have fun.

The following videos are not that good. Bad lighting, bad sound and good alcohol were the main causes.

There was a game where we had to take a drink between numbers. We noticed this also included the band. The following video is of a guy from Saskatchewan dancing with Lucy the owner, as well as Dave of course.

Later on, after Pat had returned home, the four of us hopped a taxi to the main square in Melaque. The driver had a rough time getting us there as the roads were crammed with people and vehicles.

Across the square is a ‘churo’ stand. This is a sweet thing similar to a donut and made fresh as we watched. We ordered a bunch of those and then fought our way to the main square.

The place was packed. We could tell by the lack of Nordenos that the season was coming to an end. There were hundreds of Mexicans and their families just hanging out waiting for the fireworks to start. They come to Melaque by the busload. We had warned Ron and Julie to be aware because the fireworks can get a little dangerous.

They started and the fun began. It’s hard to describe as they are not like your basic firework display. These happen mostly at street level and there are sparks going everywhere. Part way through, they set off the skyrockets. These things howled into the sky and burst noisily showering everyone with debris.

Just when we thought it had ended there was a huge boom nearby and more rockets took off. All in all a lot of fun.

The taxi stand was nearby but they couldn’t get out for the crush of people so we started to walk home. As we crossed the square we ran into Vic and Suzanne. We seem to do that a lot. We walked with them until we had to part ways and got home at about midnight. It was a very successful evening. The main event is tonight though so I don’t know what that will be like or even if we’ll go or not. Maybe watch what we can from our roof.

 

P.V.

There was a unique situation where Rosalie and her four sisters were all in Mexico at the same time. The problem was, two were in Puerto Vallarta and three were in Melaque. Further complicating the situation was, that of the two in P.V., one was arriving and twelve hours later the other was leaving. We, however, would overcome.

Brother-in-law Vic arranged to rent a seven-seater van and we started our quest. The van was fine and got us there but it had no rear shocks. There are many, many topes (speed bumps) on the main road to P.V; up to four in each little town we passed through. Most are not well marked and if Vic, who was driving, happened to hit one a bit too hard Gordie and I, who were sitting in the back, tended to head for the ceiling and then return with a spine-crushing thump. There were also road works with unexpected ridges which added to our misery.

Sister-law-Delorie was the one leaving so we spent a day with her in a luxurious apartment overlooking the ocean.

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We sat around the pool, drank wine and generally had a good time. That evening we picked up Marina and her friend Barb and we all went to the Marina for Dinner.

Some of us had been to Victor’s Place Restaurant previously so we knew the food was good and that he dishes out a lot of free booze. In fact, he gave our table two bottles of Tequila as part of the service.

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Victor always greets his visitors personally with “welcome home” even though he hadn’t a clue who we were. Even if we had been there previously he probably wouldn’t have remembered as every time he handed out free drinks he had to have one himself. The thing is he never seemed drunk. He is a very nice man and we would go back again; and not just for the free booze, although that is a strong consideration.

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Delore, Suzanne, Rosalie, Marina and Giselle

Sadly, Delorie had to leave early the next morning. So Vic and I took Suzanne, Marina and her friend Barb to Walmart to get some supplies. We also got their phones hooked up with a Mexican sim card. They got unlimited calling and text in North America plus 2 gigs of data for 50 pesos (about $3.50) for 15 days. We are being ripped off in Canada.

That evening we walked the Malecon and saw some great sights. Firstly, me panicking because we were so intent on the sunset we missed the start of the action. It was cooler then, as we watched the sun go down.

The following morning we pilled into the van and headed back to Melaque and those bone-jarring topes.

Driving and stuff

Rosalie’s sister Giselle and husband Gordie were arriving here on Saturday so we decided to rent a car to pick them up. We asked Suzanne to come along as all three sisters could be together for the ride back from the airport.

The car rental place was in Barra so we hopped on the local “chicken bus” for the trip there. The car cost 600 pesos a day ($41.39) including insurance and taxes.

The car we got wasn’t quite what I had envisioned. It was a micro-mini compact and barely big enough for four people, not five as well as luggage. We decided to try and make the most of it as the two girls and I wanted to go to Manzanillo for supplies at Walmart.

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When we left Walmart with a loaded the car it was apparent that we couldn’t get one more person in, certainly not two with luggage. So, we agreed to take Suzanne and the supplies back to Melaque. After lunch, Rosalie and I headed back to the airport.

After parking the car we went in and expected to wait forty-five minutes for our guests to come through customs and immigration.  To our surprise, they showed up in about twenty minutes. I barely had time to gag my cerveza down. Well, they showed up but their checked bag didn’t. They weren’t amused when I told them this was a good thing, as we didn’t have the room for it anyway. After the required paperwork we took off for home. We are still waiting for their bag but have been assured that it will turn up today.

It was nice having a car so, as we had it for the minimum two days, we went to La Manzanilla the next day for some time at the beach with the rest of the gang. That evening we went for pizza at a local restaurant. This is how they do the pizzas. They were great.

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This was my first experience driving in Mexico so I was a little apprehensive.  However I needn’t have worried. In a lot of ways, it was easier than driving in Canada. For a start, as Rosalie pointed out, the stop signs and speed signs appear to be ‘only a suggestion’ and are basically ignored.

One of the reasons it’s easier here is that everyone is so polite. There are no stop signs at most of the intersections so whoever gets there first goes first and everyone avoids hitting everyone else. No one gets mad, no horns beeping, no angry revving of engines; it’s great! Also when on the highway if someone wants to pass, the slower vehicle in front pulls on to the hard shoulder and lets them by. I passed a cop car on a solid yellow line this way. Well, he did pull over to the shoulder, so I had to.

There are some anomalies though. Most of the major roads through cities have side roads running parallel. If you need to turn left, you have to be in one of these lanes on the right and wait for the left turn signal. It’s a bit confusing at first but you get used to it after a while. It also makes it easy to do U-turn.

All in all, we had a great time and look forward to renting another car soon to do a bit more exploring.

 

St Valentine’s night out

I don’t like St Valentine’s day because I feel forced to acknowledge that I love my wife, and I tell her every day. It’s all about money and I also don’t like the idea of a giant greetings card company trying to guilt me into buying something.

I once went into a store to buy a St. Valentine’s day card,  and was greeted by a garish bright red display covered with hundreds, if not thousands, of bright red cards all saying “buy me, buy me.” Yuck!” I immediately walked out and have not bought one since.

We did go out for dinner on the night though. There were six of us: Vic, Suzanne, John,  Joanna and us. It was a great night. There was dancing and some of us joined Elvis in singing and of course, we drank too much.

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The thing that struck me the most was the diversity of people: Old (mostly old), Young, short, tall, skinny, fat, good looking, not so good looking, but we all had someone we cared about and we were all having a good time. So the evening was worth it.

Anyhoo, enough of that rant. A few days later we invited Vic, Suzanne, Mike and Pat over for dinner. We decided to cook steaks. We had had some a few days earlier that were really good.

Vic and Suzanne showed us the place where we could buy the meat. Six three quarter to one-inch t-bone steaks cost about seven dollars each. (200 pesos a kg or about $13.72) They were so big we ended up freezing two of them. They were both tender and tasty.

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I found this photo online and to us, it’s the epitome of the Mexican attitude. Some have next to nothing but are still extremely happy. Happiness is a state of mind.

Jamaica (Ham-ika) is a drink made from dried hibiscus flowers. We tried it several times and liked it, so Rosalie bought some flowers from the local store and made some. It involves a lot of boiling and reboiling to get the most out of the petals and we ended up with a nice healthy drink for next to nothing.

John and Joanna wanted us to see their place so we met up there with Vic and Suzanne to spend a couple of hours on the beach. I wanted to say that I caught this nice fish but you can see the shadow of the Mexican who really caught it.

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His timing was perfect. There was a school of fish just offshore; you could tell by the way the pelicanos were attacking. As well as the birds the school was also attacked by larger fish and this guy did one cast and caught one!

 

After the beach, Rosalie and I went and got some ingredients for another batch of pierogis as another friend of Vic and Suzanne’s is coming to visit and we are going to get more T-bones. He is of Ukrainian origin so we want to test my skill with the pierogies.

“Love isn’t what you say. Love is what you do”

Winnie the poo

 

More ‘orses

When Christian came by with his horse a while back, Rosalie fell in love with the idea of doing the Sunset Tour with him and a bunch of other people. So she booked the tour and went with her sister Suzanne and hubby Vic as well as our friend Linda.

Christian, his sidekick and partner Gerry and the horses arrived surprisingly on time for Mexico. Then again it would have been embarrassing to miss the sunset. To me, the horses seemed to be very docile and easy to get on with. I ducked out of this one as I’m not sure how my hip would take it. Besides, I had a sinus infection so wasn’t feeling my best.

I watched as they saddled up one by one with Gerry and Christian helping them to get on their horses. Suzanne was a little nervous but Gerry became her protector and gave her lots of reassurance.

They left the house and turned left to head for the beach. As they went along the beach there were tables and chairs in the way so Rosalie steered more toward the surf. Christian immediately redirected her away from the water as apparently, the horses are afraid of the sound of crashing waves. (Woosies!) The tour eventually took them right along the beach toward the other end of town. They wended their way through town and across the canal, hen took the old road to Cuastecomantes.

At the top of the mountain, they stopped to see the sunset and to admire the view of Melaque. Many photos were taken and some beer and water consumed.

As it got darker, they retraced their steps via the beach rather than through town and headed back to our place for some linament and a cold beer.