More hot/cold cultures.

Mexican names are interesting. They all seem to have a multitude of names, but for a good reason. Their first name is their Christian name. This is often the saints day that they are born on. Then they may have a middle name but always have two last names.

The first of the last names is from the father’s side of the family and the second name is from the mother’s side. Women do not give up their names when married. Northerners have a problem when a Mexican gives his or her surname as ‘Bello Ruiz’ they only want one name, not two

The question has been raised as to why Mexicans have such indifference to dogs. It’s because they don’t consider them a person as we do. They are just an animal and have no feelings. They are tied up most of the day and as they get older and become less of an amusement they are put on the roof as a guard dog. They get fed last in a family and only if there is enough food to spare. We may not understand this, the same as Mexicans can’t understand why we pamper our dogs so much and consider them a member of the family. There’s a cultural difference.

When there are no tourists in town the people are openly friendly. They say “hola” without being prompted and generally, they know us. However, when the tourists arrive they tend to tighten up a bit. They are rarely unfriendly so if you say “hola” to them you usually get a smile. They also have a great sense of humour.

You can understand why they get a bit up-tight with tourists when they hear things like: “There are too many Mexicans on the beach” or “Why don’t they learn to speak English or French.” “Why are they so noisy” They are wonderful people and unfortunately some of the tourists are not very nice and act badly, forgetting that this the Mexican’s country, not their’s.  We are all, just guests.

There are 8 paid statutory holidays here. Plus 12 un-paid holidays. There are also 20 festivals that start 5 or so days prior to the actual day. The festival of Guadalupe, the patron saint of Mexico starts 12 days prior to the day.  During the festivals, are when we hear the most fireworks. The priest sets one off at 6 am to call people to church.

Linda, the lady who runs the seminar asked the local priest if there had to be fireworks. He just said “Yes.” When asked if they couldn’t just ring the church bell instead; he just said “No”

In addition to this, each town has its own Saints day. Melaque (St Patricio) has its day on 17th March, St Patrick’s day. Duh!! I have no idea what the day is for us in Villa Obregon or what day next year in Pinal Villa.

Rosalie and I after one of our parties.

We and all our friends here feel perfectly safe. Yes, there are a lot of murders. Fortunately not near us. They are usually between rival cartels, the police or the army. As I’ve said before you don’t hear of Mexicans going into schools, or cinemas, or festivals and just indiscriminately shooting people. They just don’t do that.

We plan of staying here for many years. It’s a great place to spend the twilight years. And that’s what my blog is all about.

Hot/cold cultures

We went to a seminar the other night about the difference between hot and cold cultures. It was very entertaining and very interesting!

If you would like to see the whole seminar just click this link. You can see the backs of Rosalie and me (yellow t-shirt) on th right.

Our cold culture attitudes are all about ‘me’, whereas hot cultures are all about family. We notice this a lot. If a Mexican has to choose between being late for an appointment or picking up the kids, the kids will always come first.

In the north it’s all rush and go, go, go. Money is everything. Time is money.  We are always complaining about something. Mexicans are happy if they make enough to last them the day. If not they are still happy. Not all Mexicans of course. There are a number of real entrepreneurs here.

We often thought that Mexicans lied to us but we now know that that it’s not exactly true. They just don’t want to disappoint us. For instance when we asked if WiFi was provided with our rent we were told “yes, of course.” If we had asked when it would be provided we may have gotten a different answer.

Their families are huge. When a baby is born it has god parents. When it is baptized it has more god parents; or sometimes the same ones. When girls reach 15 she has a quinceañera. This is considered the point that they reach womanhood. We have noticed  this is also the time that a lot of them get pregnant.

A huge party is thrown equivalent to a wedding and is very expensive. To cover the cost they add on more god parents. For the dress, for the shoes, for the beer etc. All these god parents contribute and become part of the family. So now we know why there are some many people at the local parties.

Another thing we noticed is that most Mexicans are less material than we are. Some northern people will go and spend $300 on a carving knife. A Mexican will get one from the market that is just as sharp (we have a couple) and does the exact same job for 80 pesos. We’ve seen the local shopkeepers use them and trust me they are sharp.

Many things that Northeners covert are available here, they have no fancy name attached but work just as well. There is less of ‘Keeping up with the Jonses’. They are just grateful for what they have.

We noticed in the restaurant the other day that one of the tables was new and hadn’t been covered with a table cloth yet. It seemed to be made out of rough sawn palm planks. I made the comment that it does the exact same job as a $2,000 dinning room table in Canada. In fact this one was ‘hand made in Mexico’ so would probably fetch a good price from some idiot back home.

To be continued.

Just another day

It’s Wednesday so the local market is open. We scooted up and got some of our favourite sausages from Leon (he’s Dutch). We decided to check out the rest of the market to see if there was anyone we knew.

As usual we bumped in to all sorts of people. Barb and Dave, Mike and Faye, Diane and Ron and of course Carlos. Carlos sells top quality leather belts, wallets and purses. He speaks a little English and once dropped by our casa for a glass of water. We see him often and consider him a friend. He has a tragic past which I don’t want to get into here.

We took our stuff back to the casa, half a block away, and put it into the freezer and then went up to town for the essentials. We got ten litres of wine, a bottle of Agavero tequila liquor, a case of beer and two cartons of milk. I thought this would last us for a least a few days.

It may seem by my blogs that we drink a lot. Well we do, but we also have people dropping in all the time and we are more that happy to supply them with booze and send them staggering on their way.

When we ordered our stuff I tried to tell the Mexican lady who sees us a lot that we wanted it delivered. Although my Spanish is improving I still refer to Google translate a lot. She had no idea what I was saying so I used the magic English word ‘delivery’ she got that.

They said they would be there in two hours so we knew we had at least four hours to enjoy lunch. We went to ‘Papa Gallo’s’ and quizzed Rafael our waiter, on the proper usage of ‘deliver’. He confused me so much that I deferred to Rosalie and she got me straightened out. Rafael is a really good guy and helps us with our Spanish a lot.

It was two-for-one day for margaritas so, as we do, we ordered a couple and a   plate of nachos. By the time we finished our drinks we found that we could speak Spanish fluently.

We went home and rested in the hammock and all Rosalie could come up with was “Quiero soplar una frambuesa en tu vientre” (I want to blow raspberries on your belly”.) She was hooped! The problem we have now is that we have to go out to a show tonight starring our favourite singer Dave Spinks.

To follow up on dog whistle saga I blew a really loud burst the other day. A guy across the street with a hearing aid jumped three feet in the air and Rosalie leapt up and got me a cold beer. I think I may keep this thing. The dogs however kept barking.

By the way, it was three hours ago and our order still hasn’t arrived. Such is Mexico. The one thing we do know is that it may be late but it will arrive if not today then tomorrow. If it doesn’t arrive by then,  I’ll send Rosalie out to start blowing raspberries.

Our order turned up at 7 pm. We were out so they left it with Gerry next door. The problem was that they couldn’t pick up the empties. So we will just give it to them next time we order.

The evening listening to Dave was great…as usual.

 

 

Shopping and tacos

We need to re-supply so we decided to go to a ‘mini super’ in town. It’s a fairly large store with lots of choices.

Our greatest need was more wine. We had heard that they had the best prices in town so that’s why we chose there. We also needed non-essentials like milk and food. We knew that they delivered but we had never used their delivery before. We told the young lady that we wanted it delivered and she called over a guy to help us.

For a while, he just stood there with our groceries and we had no idea what he wanted us to do. Then, he asked for us to write out our address. So we did and gave it to him. He finally picked up our stuff and went outside.

We are used to things being delivered by a truck later in the day but he loaded it into a three-wheeled bike and waited for instructions. We knew we couldn’t make it home before him as we were walking and it would take us at least 15 minutes. We told him to be there in half an hour and we started walking.

At one point I looked behind us and the guy was following along. We hastened our step and he kept pace all the way home. Next time we take a taxi.

Last night we watched a show on Netflix called ‘Taco Chronicles’. It got our mouths-watering.  It’s a documentary about various taquerias around Mexico and featured ‘La Taqueria al Pastor.’ This is the huge spindle of meat that is heated as it turns and carved to make the taco.

We knew there was one in Melaque so we wanted to try it out. We walked around for a while but decided it might only open when the Mexican tourists are in town. Being a bit disappointed we decided to find somewhere else.

We came across a stand in an alleyway. There are a lot of stands along there so we stopped and ordered. It was run by a single person, Lety. She took our order and made everything from scratch. She also got us a large jug of Jamaica so we were set.

She laid out all the side dishes: cilantro, relish, pico de gallo, chopped onions and of course hot sauces. It’s a bit strange because I have never really liked hot sauces before but I’m starting to enjoy them. Perhaps I’m part Mexican, I know our dad got around a bit, so you never know. Or maybe our Mum…No I don’t think so.

We had ordered two tacos each and it was really enjoyable but we had so much we had trouble finishing them. When the bill came it was for 100 pesos ($6.80) for both of us.

I think we’ll be going back.

Español

When we first came to Melaque 15 years ago, we knew very little Spanish. The first day that the guys went out for breakfast I looked at the menu in consternation. Then I noticed a couple of words that made sense ‘Omelet de champiñones’ I was saved. My cornflake box French saved me.

Rosalie was determined to learn the language and took some courses. I went with her for a few but Classroom learning doesn’t work for me so I gave it up.

Several years later I was frustrated with Mexicans trying to talk to me, so, with the help of Google translate  I made up a little Spanish phrase: “Mi Espaniol es pequito. Mi esposa habla mas” This is not correct but I was understood. (“I speak a little Spanish but my wife speaks more.”) When I first used it the guy said “si’ and went to talk to Rosalie.

Up to this point, I thought that I was too old to learn a new language but this tiny exchange encouraged me and I picked up more as we went along.

This year I decided to try harder to learn, so, now, every day, I dig into it for a least a couple of hours and am picking up more and more. I know hundreds of words by using flash-cards but putting them together to make a sentence is really challenging.

Rosalie rested from the learning process for a while but lately has really gotten back into it. I’m happy about this as she is a great mentor. I give her a challenge though as my pronunciation isn’t that good yet. 

We also use the internet to learn more. In one lesson I had to learn about eight new words relating to location: under, over, behind etc. I put them on flashcards and eventually managed to remember them but it took about a week of daily review. Rosalie did the same lesson and remembered them right off. I’m happy that I have her for a tutor.

She also has a bit of an advantage as she has a French background. As in French a lot of sentences are back to front like Spanish.  As a minor example “I am hungry” in Spanish is “Tengo hambre” which literally means “I have hunger.”

As I walk around town or listen to Spanish conversation it’s like a cloud of words, some I understand and some I don’t. I’m finding that I’m slowly picking out more and more that I do know. This, I think is progress.

My English grammar was unused for a long time so I have had to learn all over again. Now a lot of it applies to Spanish. We were both struggling with Spanish conjugations but have come up with a formula that we found on the internet and it’s helping a lot. It’s amazing that one verb can have as many as 70 different conjugations.

Rosalie said that if I conjugate too much I’ll go blind. I wonder what she means?

Me after conjugating in front of the computer for a few hours.

Now we have to get into subjunctives. I think it might drive me mad. However, there are patterns there also so I think eventually we will get it.

I have found though that the more I learn, the more I want to learn and the more there is still left to learn. I’m not afraid to ask for help or to try a new sentence out on anyone especialy Rosalie. Sometimes I get a blank look but mostly I’m understood. I’ve learned a lot in the past two months and want to learn more in the next three remaining months of this season.

Hasta Luego.

Catching up

We are over the holiday festivities and looking forward to the new year. It’s already been interesting, just a few days in.

It rained. How dare it! We had a fairly heavy downpour a few days ago and it was great. It made a nice change from continual sunshine. We also got a kick out of people running by who got caught in the deluge.

Me in my rain gear buying my camaron

Little Camila next door thinks it’s great fun to sneak up and watch us through the gate. She doesn’t say anything just stares. I think we should be worried. Her big brother Ivan has a three-wheel plastic contraption that he rides outside our place and makes a whole bunch of noise. Mostly he’s a real good kid and it is his country after all. But still…

An iguana who thinks he’s a squirrel amused us for a while by walking along the cable tv lines. I was expecting him to fall off but he seemed to realize his mistake and reversed his course and went home.

Our local squirrel was not impressed.

We went for dinner a few nights ago with Linda, Art and Art senior to their casa in west Melaque. We took a taxi and asked for it to pick us up again at eight-thirty. We knew we were taking a chance on this but what the heck. Eight forty-five came around and we decided to walk.

We got a block away and there was another cab sitting in a side street with a bunch of guys hanging around. One of them was pretty well drunk but the taxi driver was sober so we squeezed by and got in. Before we left, the drunk guy climbed in the front seat and away we went. When we got home a lot of ‘Feliz año’ and handshakes were exchanged but we arrived safely.

Just watched the local tourist cops drive by on their quads. The first one was driving with one hand and texting with the other. Such is Mexico.

Rosalie was also not impressed

I finally signed up for a VPN service today. I’m having trouble getting hockey games lately so this was very important.

I thought things would be a little different this year, but no. The f**king rooster still makes a racket during the night and the ice cream truck still drives by with his insidious music playing. I would be tempted to blow the thing up but he does have good ice cream.

We still use our charcoal BBQ quite a bit. I have to be sparing with the starter gel, not because we are cheap, which we are,  but the stores seem to run out quickly and it’s hard to light it with dried-up tortillas and coconut husks.

I’ve just been trying to delete a period on the computer until I realized it was a bit of dust. I really need to stop drinking.

I’ll catch up again soon. I’m waiting for some other exciting thing to pounce. I just hope it’s not in the form of a spider.

Feliz Año

So, we had this Piñata that we didn’t know what to do with. We had stuffed it with the candies that we hadn’t eaten so it was all ready to go.

I suggested that we get Rubii to help us as she would know what the protocol was. She agreed to meet us at 3:30 for the big event at 4:00.

I had already arranged for Gerry to block our side of the boulevard with his van so the kids wouldn’t get run down. I had also run a cord from a palm tree to our bedroom window.

When Rubii arrived she not only brought Josué her “hombre”,  but a much heavier rope and a homemade ladder. Josué strung the rope to a bigger palm tree and then to a hydro pole on our building. I hauled on it and the rope immediately broke. Rubii toddled off and came back with a much stronger rope.

They brought a pully to raise and lower the Piñata so the kids had fun trying to hit it. I forgot to use it though, I am after all just a newbie at this.

Remember to click on a picture to see the larger picture.

There weren’t as many kids as we had expected but it was our first time. We wanted to have Camila go first as she was the youngest at 3 years old but she was too shy. Another little girl stepped up and started to pound away.

Several kids later, I decided that they were too small to do much damage so I got Rubii’s son, also Josué, to have a go at it. He had obviously done this before as he first pounded off all the glitter and just left the cavity in the centre.

One more whack and the thing fell to the ground and shattered much to the delight of the kids. They rushed in and grabbed as many candies as they could. The little lad across the street works with his parents at a taco stand and missed it all so when he came home I gave home a big hand full of candies.

We had hauled chairs onto the sidewalk so that we could watch the action. After it was all over we sat there drinking and talking until the rest of the crew turned up for appies which we also ate in the street.

Soon the time came for the eight of us to go to Salamandra’s for dinner. Gerry and Elaine had other plans so we said our goodbyes.

At the restaurant, they started us off with a complimentary glass of tequila with lime so we knew we would have fun. Some of us ordered ‘gigante margaritas’ with our meal, and so it began. It was Barb’s birthday so we incorporated that into the festivities as well.

The entertainment and the food were great. The guy singing was was Dr. Lalo Woo who happens to be the husband of Raquel our new landlady for next season.

We left about 10:00 and went back to Bill and Connie’s place to see the New Year in. As midnight got closer the fireworks started to increase so we went down to the beach for the final countdown.

Boom! Midnight! The main event started and the sky lit up with dozens of fireworks as well as many, many globos. Then we were wishing everyone in sight “Feliz Año.” Some Mexicans came by and we wished them the same and got big hugs in return.

We finally started to tire so returned to the casa for a nightcap and a well-earned sleep. What an awesome New Years’ Eve and start to 2020.

Feliz Año to all our friends and family.