Thursday, July 29, 2010

Mexico City - Part 2

After our overnight bus trip and a fabulous meal and some visiting with Cinthia's family, we started our first day with some sight-seeing in Coyoacan.

Coyoacán was home to Dolores del Río, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera (famous artists), and also to Leon Trotsky, and the houses they lived in are now both museums. It is a trendy and tranquil residential area in the southwest part of the city, with parks, squares, and cobblestone streets, and is now a favourite spot for university students, tourists and artsy visitors.

We went to Coyoacan on a Sunday, and the streets were bustling with locals walking their dogs (their pets all decked out in fancy sweaters and doggie clothes), artsy types, along with some tourists.

There is so much to see and do in this area so we decided to spend our first day walking around, eating all the lovely food, and going to the local artisan markets. We decided to save the museums and the home of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo for another day.

Cinthia's childhood friend Berenice,her boyfriend Jesus (Chucho) and Cinthia. We stopped to have some drinks at this outdoor cafe and watch the world go by!

Coyoacan is well known for it's coffee and there is a famous coffee shop called "Cafe El Jarocho" that was recommended to me by many of my friends in MZO from Mexico City. This place is definitely somewhat of an "institution" which was evidenced by the lineup all the way down the block. The coffee was absolutely delicious and we paired it with a "churro" from next door which was a match made in heaven! Churros are a fried pastry that is then sprinkled with sugar. You can then have it topped with melted chocolate, strawberry, etc.

Our eating frenzy had only just begun. I had told Cinthia that I wanted to try as many as the local foods as I could. Our next stop was to try "Elote". Elote is the spanish word for corn and is a very popular street food in Mexico. It is basically corn on the cob, Mexican style. They take regular corn on the cob and then lather it in mayonnaise,grated cheese and of course, sprinkle it with CHILE. It is definitely an interesting flavour combination and I was a little skeptical at first but was pleasantly surprised. Definitely a flavorful snack!

One thing that surprised me about Mexico City was the sheer number of beautiful parks and green spaces.

For those of you who may visit Coyoacan, definitely plan for at least 2 days MINIMUM. There is so much to see and do. After a lovely day eating and wandering around, we decided to go back later in the week and tackle the museums.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Puppy available for adoption

I was walking on the beach with the dogs and found this beautiful puppy on the beach abandoned, very mal-nourished and what appeared to be a very large tumour the size of a cantaloupe. She was covered in ticks and was having a very hard time walking with the large growth. She was very shy and timid when I approached her, but after she realized I was not going to hurt her, she was very affectionate and loving. My heart was breaking seeing her suffer and she was clearly abandoned and living on the beach eating whatever scraps of food she could find.

After much thought and talking with my friend who was there with me, I decided I just could not leave her there to suffer and had to do something. We coaxed her into the car and immediately brought her to my vet. My vet looked her over and informed me that it was not a tumour but a large hernia - the result of being hit by someone/something. She was able to operate and repair the hernia and after a few days of recuperating and medicine to kill the ticks, the puppy came home with me. She is staying with me until we can find her a home. All my friends think that I am going to end up adopting her since I am not so good at this foster thing and always seem to keep them! Since I already have 5 animals, I need to find her a home.

She is recovering from the hernia surgery but in one week or so, she will be fully recuperated and will be able to live a good life. Vacinations and spay surgery will be also be provided.

So, to all my Manzanillo and area readers, please forward this to all your contacts. She is a beautiful and caring dog and once full grown, will be small to medium sized. She is approx 3 months of age. If anyone is interested or wants more info, please contact me at

UPDATE - I have found someone in Calgary, Alberta that is interested in adopting this animal. We just need to find someone that is flying from Manzanillo to Calgary that is willing to take the dog with them. The dog would be flying in cargo in a kennel and all costs/paperwork would be organized and paid for. Animals can not fly unaccompanied which is why I need to find someone that is already going. If anyone can help, it would be greatly appreciated!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Vacation to Mexico City!

I recently returned from a trip to Mexico City with my room-mate and BFF here, Cinthia. She is originally from there so we went to visit her family and go see some of the many amazing museums, architectural wonders and the famous ruins, the Sun and Moon pyramids. I am just going through and editing the HUNDREDS of photos I shot. I will definitely have to blog about it in stages as there is sooooooooo much to share with you!

All in all, it was an amazing vacation. It was wonderful to see where Cinthia grew up and finally meet her VERY LARGE and lovely family. I enjoyed every moment...........every day was chocked full of sight-seeing, trying new foods and spending time with her family and friends. The food was incredible........I have to say that I never thought I liked tamales..........until I tried them in Mexico City. Hmmmmm, still dreaming about them. They are so much different there - super moist and packed full of flavor. Oh, and the lamb barbacoa........that was my favorite local dish. It is a famous dish in the region where they dig a hole in the ground and cook lamb overnight in a pit covered with Maguey leaves. Maguey is a local cactus type plant (cousin of the agave plant used to make tequila). The maguey leaves impart an amazing flavour and the meat is so tender, it falls off the bone.

To start our road trip to Mexico City, we took the overnight bus. We boarded at 9:30pm and arrived there at 9:00am the following morning.

Cinthia was super excited as she had not visited her family in over a year

The seats on the bus were very comfy and extend back quite far. We managed to get a good sleep and arrived in Mexico City reasonably well rested. Cinthia's childhood friend Berenice came to pick us up from the bus station and we immediately went for a hearty breakfast of carnitas (chopped pork tacos), chicharon (fried pig skin) and arrachera (flank steak)tacos. Hmmm, delicious!!! This meal was definitely a sign of wonderful culinary delights to come.

We then went to Berenice's house to shower and change. Her and her mother Hilda, had graciously offered for Cinthia and I to stay the week in their home. Their house is conveniently located three houses down from the house of Cinthia's family. And since 12 people live in Cinthia's house, this was definitely the best option!

We then went to Cinthia's house where I was graciously welcomed by her large family. It was a tearful reunion with Cinthia and her family - it was heartwarming to witness. Of the 12 family members that live there, there are 7 nieces/nephews, her parents, 2 sisters, and one spouse. Her brother and his two children live in another house and arrived later.

Cinthia, with 7 of her 9 nieces/nephews

The children were very excited to see their aunty and the girls had dressed up in special dresses to welcome their "tia".

Out of her 9 nieces/nephews, there are only 2 girls

After visiting and getting to know the family, we sat down to eat a delicious meal of tacos and nopales (vegetable prepared from the native cactus plant - they shave off all the spines). Her mom definitely deserves an award for cooking 3 meals on a daily basis for 12 or more people!

Stay tuned for more of our adventures in Mexico City!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Who's who in the zoo

A few people have asked for an update on all my pets. Everyone in the pack are doing great and adjusting really well to the latest addition - Chikita, a cute kitten that I agreed to foster until we can find her a home. Ironically, I have become a little attached and may end up keeping her!

Chikita - definitely the Alpha of the group. She is super feisty and will not allow my two cats to eat until she is finished her meal. Que cabrona!

This was Chikita's 2nd day in the house. She put Jade in her place immediately!

Leo - the male

Jade, being her usual rambunctious self with Kenya, Leo's sister.

This was a surprise to find Jackson sleeping with Leo. He normally does not interact with the cats at all.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Summer has arrived

Since our first rain of the summer last week, the humidity and heat level have been astronomical. The days of constant sweating and multiple showers have arrived.

Even our canine friends need some relief from the heat. Check out this little dog buried to his head in the sand on the beach. How cute is that!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Crazy crocs

And no, this is not a blog post on those plasticky/rubbery looking colored shoes that many people wear.

As you all know, I used to live in La Manzanilla when I took the Spanish immersion program and it is one of my favorite places to visit. The beaches are beautiful and you can walk for miles.

Recently, I went on my first Mexico camping experience and we camped right on the La Manzanilla beach in this spot. What an amazing place to camp!

The dogs were in heaven. Jade is keeping a close eye on Jackson

When my friends were here in May visiting from Seattle, we rented a car and did a day trip to La Manzanilla. While we were there,they wanted to check out the local crocodiles. I have to say that when I lived there, I never went to see the crocs. The main reason, of course, was my dogs. I think we have all heard many a story about a crocodile killing and eating a dog that got too close.

For safety reasons, they now have a chain link fence separating the crocs from the rest of the population. I stood up on a bench to get a better look at the terrifying creatures. Right away, I noticed a large white cat inside the area alongside the crocodiles. No sooner had I said, "Look, there is a cat inside with the crocodiles", the cat decided to make it's move and get out of dodge. Sadly, it jumped right in front of the VERY still crocodile's mouth. In a blur of white fur, blood and a VERY loud yelp from the cat, the crocodile devoured the cat in a matter of seconds.

I am not sure if I can adequately describe how I felt in that moment and afterwards............disbelief, revulsion,disturbed, nauseous, terrified and traumatized. It is one thing to hear about the crocodiles seeing pets/animals that get too close. It is entirely another to see it happen in front of your very eyes and just a few feet in front of you.

The croc in question, just a few moments after devouring the cat

My visitors and I were all in agreement....we would rather NOT have witnessed the crocodile eat his lunch.

Now, what I want to know is this....What on earth was that cat doing INSIDE the fenced area with the crocodiles????????????????

Friday, June 4, 2010

Another VW and getting a drivers license

I finally purchased another car! I have only ever owned Volkswagen cars so I thought I would continue with that trend. I bought a used 2006 VW from my neighbor the other day and have been busy getting all the paper work done.

It is a great little car and it was owned by a VW mechanic and is in excellent condition. It is so nice to have wheels again!

A while ago, I had rented a car to take some of my visitors from Canada to La Manzanilla. When we were completing the paperwork, the rental car agent pointed out that my Canadian drivers license was expired. Oops, I had no idea but he still went ahead and rented the car to me! After that, I figured, I better go to the transport offices and get my Mexican drivers license. On the advice of friends, I went super early when the offices open. They gave me the list of everything I needed to get a driver´s license: photocopies of my identification (FM 3 visa), copies of a bill in my name where I live, CURP card, lap report with my blood type, and a photo. I had everything on the list with the exception of my CURP card and blood type. Luckily, I was able to get my CURP card in the same offices with copies of my identification and copies of my telephone bill. Apparently, a CURP card is a form of identification here under the National Population Registry (from what I understand, kind of like a census). After obtaining my CURP card, I went to a nearby lab to find out my blood type. They were able to do the test right then and there while I waited. It only took about 10 minutes and they had to test me twice as the lab tech explained that I had a rare blood type so he had to take more blood to confirm. I had no idea I had a rare blood type and when I talked to my father, he was just as surprised as me! At any rate, they put your blood type right on the front of your driver´s license in the event you are in an accident.

With my blood test results in hand, I returned to the transport offices with all the required paperwork. It had been explained to me by several friends here that practically no one writes/performs their drivers test. You are given the option but if you do not wish to, you can hand over a little "extra" and the gentleman takes care of it. So, that is what I did and of course, I passed with flying colors! Then they sent me to the doctor on staff where I thought I would have to do an eye exam. I was wrong - he just asked me if I needed glasses to drive and what my blood type was, and off I went! They then took my photo and issued me my drivers license. The drivers license is digital like the ones we had in Alberta. From start to finish, the process was approx 2 1/2 hours and was approx $700 pesos ($55 dollars).

Once I had purchased the car, I had to go back to the same Transport Offices and get the car changed over in my name and get new plates. Again, you are required to bring copius amounts of paperwork....copies of ID, copies of telephone bills, copies of the original invoice for the car, the old plates, etc. They also have someone inspect the car and take down the VIN and engine numbers to ensure it is not stolen. After a few hours and $4,600 pesos for various taxes, new plates, etc, I was officially the owner of a car.

In other news, my computer is officially dead and cannot be repaired so I have been using an internet cafe in the meantime. I have since purchased a new laptop and a friend of mine is bringing it back from the US for me. In a week or so, I will have a computer again and can get back to posting photos and blogging on a regular basis.