Sunday, September 28, 2008

Que paso?

So many of you have been asking me about Jade and the street puppies. Here is a dog update.

Back in August, I wrote a post discussing the two street dogs and their puppies that required homes. Many of you have been asking me about these puppies and wondering if they have found homes. And the answer is a resounding YES! I am so pleased to report that the litter of 10 puppies by the brindle mother down by the OXXO store have all gone to a loving home. The litter was reduced down to 7 puppies as a few of the little guys did not make it and one up and disappeared (it was the really cute black and white one which we hope was adopted by a loving home).

At any rate, thanks to ex-pat Debi, she has found a loving home for ALL of the puppies! She also brought the mom in to get fixed so she can no longer reproduce. Debi is an ex-pat from Canada who is a HUGE dog lover and feeds alot of the stray dogs around town, brings them into the vet to get fixed, takes sick animals into her home to nurse them until they are rehabilitated, etc. Bottom line is this woman has a huge heart and all of the street dogs that she comes across are well looked after or find the care they need thanks to her tireless efforts.

The other puppy litter of 4 dogs (check out the picture from the previous post), also have found loving homes thanks to Teresa and Steve. Teresa and Steve have looked after the mom and the puppies from the get go and managed to find homes for all of them (including her own home)! She has gone through countless issues with those dogs and many a vet visit.

So, two big success stories in Santiago village! Thanks to all the hard work of Debi and Teresa, 11 street pups have found loving homes. It just goes to show that one person can make a huge difference in whether an animal lives or dies.

Many of you have been asking about Jade, my recent dog rescue off the streets of Manzanillo.

Initially, she was living outside on my porch while I was feeding her, bringing her in to the vet to treat her many medical problems, give her all the necessary vaccinations and trying to get her healthy overall. Now, she is doing really well. She has some meat on her bones (you can barely see her ribs anymore), she is free of ticks and fleas and was fixed recently so she is not able to have puppies. Emotionally, she still has massive abandonment/separation issues and freaks out anytime I leave without her, but I am hoping in time, this will pass. She is very affectionate and follows me everywhere.

Please, please, please let me live inside with you. I will be good, I promise!

I am sure this will not come as a shock, but she is no longer living outside and is now living in my apartment with Jackson and I. She is adjusting really well to living indoors (versus on the streets) although she still trys to eat whatever is in the garbage can. Old habits I guess..... She is very smart and has learned to come when called, to sit, to wait to eat her food until I give the go ahead, etc. She is an amazing dog and I am very happy that she has came into my life. I honestly cannot imagine life without her!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Another birthday!

Today is Jackson's 5th birthday. This week is chocked full of birthdays in my family. My niece, my brother, my father and my dog Jackson.

So today, it is all about Jackson!

Jackson at 2 months old

Ok, I got up the stairs, now you expect me to go DOWN?

I often wonder what he thinks of his new home in Mexico.

Some random musings from the point of view of Jackson

- Why is it so freakin' hot here all the time?
- When is it going to snow?
- I love, love, love the new dog park (aka the beach). Why is the water so salty?
- Who the hell is this new dog in my house with the big goofy ears? Who does she think she is shoving me off my own bed and chewing on my toys? This sure is one long sleep over...
- Why can't I eat the hens on my street?
- How come all the other dogs are not on a leash?

His favorite place in Manzanillo

His new bed that he gets to sleep on some of the time- THANKS Auntie Camelia!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Happy birthday to a special girl

Today is my niece's 11th birthday. I have been thinking of her so much and so I decided to write a little something to honor her today. I have been thinking about all our fun times together, looking at photos and laughing out loud. Doing these simple things has completely brightened my day!

Top ten things I love about this amazing girl (in no particular order):
- she is an old soul and very mature for her age. Some of the things that come out of her mouth are mind boggling.
- she has this ability to make you laugh at any given moment. If she sees that you are sad or struggling, she always trys to put a smile on your face
- she has the biggest sweet tooth of anyone I have ever met. She must have a hollow leg as that girl can pack back more desserts than most adults.
- she has the biggest heart in the world
- she is frighteningly intelligent and perceptive
- she is the only person I would allow to coerce me into going on an amusement park ride, puke my guts out and then continue going on more rides!
- that girl can dance!
- she loves to play cards and can beat me at crib already! Wait until she is playing poker with the family - watch out!
- her wit and sarcasm (she comes by it honestly)
- her big beautiful smile.

Some of my all time favorite moments:
- taking her on her first flight to go to a family renuion. She was three years old and when the flight attendants sat down for take off, she looked at me in horror and said, "Aunty, why are they sitting down and who is going to fly the plane???". Once we arrived at the reunion, my relatives were roasting an entire pig on a spit. She took one look at it and then declared to me: "I am NOT eating any of that chicken!!!" I still laugh out loud when I think of that weekend
- taking her camping, rustic style, in the Rocky Mountains and taking her on her first mountain hike. Hmmmmm, camp fire and smores.
- our girls camping trip with our two cousins before I left the country. Again, in the Rocky Mountains. First experience with a grizzly! Scary, but memorable!
- taking her to Candle Lake with me to see my friend Lisa and her kids
- car dancing to Gwen Stefani and doing our special dance

Here she is on her very first visit to Manzanillo at the age of 3 with my late mother.

Here she is in Manzanillo 5 years later with one of the street dogs she would feed with her own money. She named him "Cutie".

Proving that yes she can fit in Jackson's kennel after many pieces of cheesecake. This was taken at our Canmore family reunion

Goofing around in typical "Grandma Griz" fashion with her cousin

Jackson and my niece at Candle Lake

Her first hike in the Rocky Mountains with Jackson and I

Last summer on our way to the mountains

I miss her so much and cannot wait to see her at Christmas! She is coming to visit for several weeks and I am soooooooooo excited.

Happy Birthday to my special girl. I love you and can't wait to see you. XOXO

Friday, September 19, 2008

Mexican Independence Day

On September 16, there was a major holiday here in Mexico called Dia de la Independencia where Mexicans all over the world celebrate Mexico’s independence from Spanish rule. All over Manzanillo, shops, restaurants and cars were all decorated with the Mexican flag and/or colors of the Mexican flag. On the weekend, we noticed a huge influx of Mexican tourists from this state and neighboring states. The fiesta actually starts on the evening of September 15 and continues well into the next morning/day.

I was invited to the Posdata Cafe by the two young women that own and operate this cafe. They prepared several delicious appetizers for us to munch on while having a few beverages. Pillar, one of the owners, convinced me to try a new drink called a "Paloma". This is prepared with tequila, fresh lime juice, squirt (similar to Fresca), soda water and salt. I had learned several new adjectives in Spanish class that day - one of which was dangerous. When asked how I liked the drink, I would reply "Es delicioso, pero peligroso!". It is delicious, but dangerous!

Denny and Pillar - the cafe owners

There were mostly Mexican friends at this party, so I was able to practice my Spanish a little. I met a new local family, whose mother's birthday coincided with Independence Day. So at midnight, her sons brought out the violin and guitar and played a few songs for her.

The festivities wrapped up around 1-2am and then Denny, Pillar, Cynthia and Nacho invited me to join them at the disco for a night of dancing. Before we left, they brought out the tequila shots. I was able to use that new adjective again - peligrosa! I had a great time, and learned a few new latin dances. We left the disco around 5:30am and it was still absolutely packed. Apparently, it stays open until 7am. I felt like I was back in my early 20's. We all wanted to go grab some tacos before going home, so we headed over to La Sonrisa, a 24 hour taco stand that is one of my favorites. When we arrived, we discovered that it was completely packed - there was not a free table in the entire place! And yes, this was at 5:45am. So, we had to head home........taco-less! It has been a long time since I have stayed out all night - I definitely paid for this the next day and the following day also. I am getting far too old for these kind of shenanigans!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Dog blog

One of my friends calls my website a dog blog as that is all I seem to write about. Well, what can I say, I am a dog lover and my dogs are my babies. And they always seem to give me good material to write about. And today is no different so Lisa, you may want to skim or skip this post today!

When Camelia was here, she wanted to check out my vet's office (if you can call it that) and meet this vet that I refer to as the dog whisperer. We walked down to the corner to take the bus and Jade, the dog I recently rescued, followed us down there in typical fashion. Usually, once I get on the bus, she turns around and returns to my apartment to wait for me. However, this time, she decided to come right on the bus after Camelia and I got on! I turned to the bus driver to apologize and he said not to worry, as long as she did not bite anyone, she was free to ride along. Here is Jade on her first bus ride (that I know of):

Jade and her crazy Yoda ears!

Camelia was amazed at how small the vet office was - it is basically a shoe box and she was blown away that can perform surgeries, etc in such a small space. This would be a real eye opener for our vets in Canada. Unfortunately, the vet was not there but her mom and the many street cats that she rescues.

Yesterday, I was opening the door for Jade to come in the house, and Jackson saw something and tore out the door before I knew what happened. I soon discovered that he was chasing the flock of hens that live on our street. The rooster and hens do not seem to belong to anybody but just walk up and down the street scrounging for food. Jackson has never been trained or used for hunting although that is what beagles are bred for is hunting rabbits and foxes. Well, his hunting instincts certainly kicked in as I soon found him along with a hen he had cornered and he was not letting her get away. I managed to get there just in time before he was able to arrange his own supper! I shudder to think about that poor hen and her demise had I not shown up. As I was trying to grab Jackson to get him out of there, I noticed a scorpion crawling around. It was the first one I have seen since arriving here. I am sure you can imagine how fast I got out of there!

A few of you have been asking how Jackson has been adjusting to Jade, the new addition to our little pack. For the first few weeks, he basically ignored her completely and would pretend she was not even here. For the first time this morning, he acknowledged her existence and played with her for about an hour! Jade is definitely the alpha though - she had Jackson on his back in no time.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Camelia goes to La K'Melia

After Alex's visit here to Manzanillo and his adventures at La K'Melia, the first thing Camelia told me when she was coming to visit was "you better NOT take me there". Never one to back away from a challenge, I sought out to convince her that this was a fun place and I would never volunteer her for the interactive stage show which involves lots of tequila shots, dancing and spinning (note: my fingers were crossed behind my back when I said this). So, on her second last day here, after much convincing, lo and behold, we ended up going to La K'Melia (I can be very persuasive). We went with Stan and MJ as well as my good friend Marta.

They had a great band and the food was great. Basically, they bring out plates and plates of food at no cost as long as you are purchasing drinks. It is a great way to try a number of different local dishes. We tried all sortso of things including ceviche, refried beans, many different kinds of tacos and pig skin. The only thing I was not too fond of was the pickled pig skin. Otherwise, everything else was very good.

We were enjoying the food and the band when it came time for the stage show. They were looking for female volunteers and yes, I just had to point them in Camelia's direction. Trust me, I realize I will pay for this with some sort of retribution in the future. But until then, I still giggle to this day when I think of her up on that stage shooting daggers at me with her eyes!

They gathered all the girls and they went up on the stage. First, they lined up the girls sitting on chairs and had the cute boy waiters do a little dance (including a semi lap dance). I have never laughed so hard in my life - Camelia was absolutely mortified. Then, the boys took the seat and the girls had to dance in front of each one. After this, each girl had to do some tequila shots - Camelia ended up doing 3 (I think?) and immediately after the shots, one of the men picked her up across their shoulders and proceeded to spin her around at full speed for at least 10 rotations. I know what you are all thinking. Where are the photos? Well, I have many but as I always do before publishing them on my blog, I asked for her permission. Alas, I did not get such permission. And she is a lawyer and frankly, I am scared of the consequences. So, I can only show you the "after" picture which is right after the spinning.

This is before the stage show - check out all the food!

Here are the boys doing a little dance in front of the girls. Camelia is sitting on a chair behind the boy on the right side of the frame

After getting off the stage - make the spinning stop!

When it came time for the guys, Camelia immediately pointed out Stan and he went up there. Here he is after several tequila shots. They did at lease 20 rotations for the boys - no mercy!

All in all, I think everyone had a great time and the best part was how inexpensive it was. I think we spent 3 hours there and for all that beer, food and entertainment, the total bill for all 5 of us was about $600 pesos (approx $60 USD).

After her stage debut, I asked Camelia if she still loves me. She said yes, although payback will be sweet. I guess the good news for me is that she has to come visit me again to get her retribution! teehee

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sushi, sun and fun

While Camelia was here, we went to many of my favorite local restaurants. One thing I had been craving since I arrived in Mexico and had not yet had was sushi. Back in Canada, Camelia, her husband and I would eat sushi on a regular basis. Manzanillo has grown over the last several years and now has a few sushi restaurants to choose from.

Camelia loved the name of this restaurant and had to take a photo!

I was contemplating trying this restauarant while Camelia was here visiting, but then Debi and Ron invited us over to their house for sushi. Ron had taken some sushi classes in the past and makes it on occasion. What a feast we had! Ron definitely has missed his calling and must have been a sushi chef in a formal life. Here is a photo of some of his beautiful creations.

After stuffing ourselves with sushi, we went up and sat under the palapa while the dogs played and Jackson swam in their pool. Yes, that is right, none of the humans swam in the pool, but my dog wasn't about to miss out on that! Debi and Ron love to have dogs swim in their pool.

Jackson playing fetch and enjoying their beautiful pool.

The next few days were very hot and my dear friend Christina had invited us to hang out at the pool in the condo complex where I would stay when I came to Manzanillo on vacation. There was no one staying in the condo complex so we had the pool all to ourselves. It was so nice to be able to hang out there during the day as it was smoking hot.

The ocean was like bath water, it was so warm. While watching the waves rolling in, I noticed a large school of something in the water. I was not sure what it was initially but there were literally hundreds of them. I cannot be sure what they were but they looked like small brown sting rays. I had never seen them so close to shore and there were so many of them. Does anyone know what they could be and why there would be so many?

Not a bad view from my lounge chair!

Deep thoughts...

Camelia enjoying a cold one

I love the colors in this hibiscus

Camelia wanted me to show her where my mom's final resting place is. As it was just down the beach from the condo, I brought her down there where we placed some flowers.

Mom's final resting place.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Touring around town

Over the course of last week, I tried to show Camelia my favorite places to eat, the markets where I do my daily shopping, etc to she could get a sense of the community that I live in. Here are some photos.

This is a place I walk by every single day. Camelia took this photo as she thought it was quite amusing. For those of you who cannot read the sign next to the tires, it is a tire shop that also sells cheese, cream, hot dogs, chorizo sausage, meat, chicken, etc. A likely combination right?

On our way back home one day, we ran into this little cutie. As you can probably see, this is definitely not a starving street dog but a 2 month old Bassett Hound named Daisy that is clearly well loved and cared for.

A few of you have been asking about the litter of 10 puppies from the street dog in my neighborhood. Unfortunately, two have since died. I took Camelia down there to see them. They are now about a month old and cuter than ever. My friend Debi who feeds their mom on a daily basis (along with many other street dogs in need) now has two of these pups in our home as they needed some additional medical care due to infections and other issues. She bottle feeds them at home and then takes them to the mother several times throughout the day so they can feed on their mom's milk. And they still need homes - I think there are only one or two spoken for.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Here I am again on my own

Can anyone name that tune and artist?

My friend Camelia left to go back to Canada yesterday. It was an emotional goodbye -the tears were definitely flowing. Surprisingly, there was no drama on the way to the airport this time! Shocking, I know. The week went by so fast and we both could not believe it when it was time to take her back to the airport. She had a great time here in Manzanillo and this was her first experience in "true" Mexico (her one trip to Mexico in the past was to an all-inclusive resort). She said she is definitely coming back and will bring her husband on the next trip. She is going to try and coincide her next trip so she can volunteer with the annual spay/neuter clinic for the local and street animals. This is organized by PATA, the local non-profit animal organization (more on this below).

Jackson and Jade were overjoyed to have Auntie Camelia here as she spoiled them rotten with a variety of dog treats from Canada, new toys, a dog bed for Jade, and lots and lots of loving! They were definitely a little blue today without her.

Auntie - where are you?

Today, I was also feeling sad and a little lost, but fortunately, I had many things to keep me busy. It was my first day of Spanish class. There are three of us taking the class and it will consist of 3 classes per week, 2 hours per class for a total of 6 hours per week (I did not even need my calculator for that one). In addition, there is homework and practice, practice, practice. Today was a great refresher class and it felt good to get back into the swing of things.

I also had a meeting with the head of the non-profit organization PATA Manzanillo today to discuss my future involvement as a volunteer along with a potential project I may become involved in. PATA Manzanillo is a non-profit, all volunteer group of local Mexicans and foreigners dedicated to the welfare of all dogs, cats and area wildlife in Manzanillo. This is an incredible organization that has made amazing progress with the street cats and dogs here in Manzanillo. I will definitely be blogging in detail on this topic in the near future. Stay tuned.

As promised, I will blog a little each day on Camelia and I's adventures last week while she was here in Manzanillo (along with photos).

When Camelia mentioned she was coming to Manzanillo, I warned her that this is the hottest time of the year and the humidity can be very overwhelming. Oh, and to top it all off, it is hurricane season. Alex, my first visitor from a few weeks ago had also warned her on several occasions, and I quote, "Be prepared to sweat". On Monday night, when she arrived, the weather was very pleasant and cooler than normal as it had recently rained and had been overcast most of the day. As we were sitting at the Posdata Cafe on her first evening here, she kept saying that she was not sure what Alex and I were talking about as it was not that hot at all! My reply was "Just wait for it, you will be sweating before you know it!" By day 3, she was sweating bullets like the rest of us not yet acclimatized! The first few days she was here, the weather was definitely not as scorching hot as normal so I decided to show her around the village and the markets where I do most of my shopping, errands and visit a few of my favorite local eateries.

One of our first stops was a local "Deposito" that I go to to purchase my beer and wine along with anything else one might need along the way. This is a convenience store that is very popular with locals and ex-pats alike and sells everything from beer, wine and liquor to the usual convenience items. One of my dear local friends, Marta, is the owner of this store and in addition to being well known in the local community, has become very popular with the tourists for her great service, wonderful smile and her eagerness to please. She also loves to practice her English with the tourists.

If she does not have what you are looking for, she can usually bring it in for you. I was looking for a specific wine the other day and she told me to come back that afternoon and she would have it. That she did.....I did not have to worry about searching all the other stores in the village. Another draw, especially with the ex-pat community that live here in Manzanillo, is that you can purchase a cold beer or two and sit right outside in the shade and take a break before or after your errands and/or trips to the market. My beer of choice costs me 8.5 pesos (roughly $0.85 USD) and she will even give you a beer "condom" to keep it cold.

Here is Jade giving me a hug while Camelia and I sit outside Marta's store having a cold cerveza

There are some retired ex-pats that will spend a large part of their day sitting outside Marta's store drinking beer, watching the world go by and catching up on the latest daily gossip. This is definitely an institution here in Santiago village and you can find her located on the corner of "Hollywood and Vine". You do not believe me? Check out the sign outside her store!

As Marta is a dear friend of mine and she and her store are such a large part of our day to day lives, I had to take Camelia there for a few cervezas. There is nothing better than to sit down in the shade, take a break and have a cold beverage after you have been doing your daily shopping in the scorching heat. Over the course of the week, Camelia and I stopped by Marta's several times!

Camelia and the dogs all having a cold beverage outside of Marta's.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Off to a messy start

After Camelia and I's late night with the vino, we started off day one with some healthy breakfast - my typical morning smoothie. I started off by juicing the oranges and getting everything in the blender. So far so good. Camelia took these photos of the oranges - she liked the color contrast of the green skins with the orange flesh.

At one point, I took my hand off the top of the blender to grab the protein. Ok, ok, I know what you are thinking. Why would you do that? Let's just say I was not on my A-game after our late night vino session. The momentum from the blender unscrewed the blender from it's base and kaboom! Camelia heard me scream and came running.

The "before" picture - so far so good.

And "after" - I was wearing most of the smoothie!

After we managed to stop laughing, operation "clean-up" began. Was this a sign of things to come? And why was Camelia there at all times taking photos? It was like she knew something like this would happen and was camera ready at all times. Stay tuned for more adventures.....

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Enjoying every minute with my visitor!

My good friend Camelia finally arrived on Monday night - one day late but thankfully arrived in one piece with all her luggage. Her luggage was a little lighter than normal as they would not allow her to bring the special dog kibble that I had asked her to bring. Most of the dog treats she brought were allowed in much to Jackson and Jade's delight.

So, in typical fashion, there was a little drama on my end getting to the airport on time. Friends, MJ and Stan generously offered to take me to the airport to pick her up. A few hours before we had to leave for the airport, they picked me up to head to the grocery store to get provisions, beer, wine, and all the necessary things so I would be prepared for Camelia. At our final stop, we had just picked up a case a beer and the van would not start! As Stan was figuring out the problem, my friend Debi called and I told her my predicament. She offered to come and get us and our groceries (that required refrigeration) and drop me off at my friend Winter's house who had offered to let me use her car to drive to the airport. They quickly dropped me off as we were running far behind and I was worried about Camelia waiting at the airport. While I drove at mach speed to the airport in Winter's car, Debi dropped off my groceries at my house, picked up the dogs and took them for a walk. Can you believe how lucky I am to have such great new friends?

I finally arrived at the airport 30 minutes late and in a complete panic. I knew Camelia did not speak a lick of Spanish and would be wondering at my lack of punctuality. As I arrived to the airport, I noticed they were closing everything down, staff were leaving and there was Camelia - the one lone tourist sitting outside with her bags. Poor Camelia! I guess the taxi drivers had all asked her if she needed a ride (one more than one occasion), especially the last taxi driver as the airport was closing up!

It was so great to see her! We made our way back home, changed and then immediately headed over to the Posdata Cafe. The owners of the cafe had offered to throw a welcome party for Camelia and her first time in Manzanillo. All of my friends were there and they welcomed her with a Mexican flag and pin. The cafe owners had made a bunch of appetizers for her to sample while we had our drinks.

A photo of Camelia and I at the Posdata Cafe with her new Mexican flag

We got home from the Posdata Cafe around 1am and then decided to open a bottle of wine while Camelia unpacked her suitcase. It was like Christmas! She had brought so many things for me and the dogs. The dogs got new toys, new dog collars and many different treats. One of the new collars was donated generously for my new street dog Jade by our favorite dog store in Calgary - Unleashed. Thanks guys! I got my favorite bottle of Italian wine -a belated birthday gift! We stayed up very late catching up, visiting and drinking wine. We could not beleive it when we looked at the time and it was 4:30am.

We have been having a great time since she arrived. I promise to post another blog soon with all our adventures and pictures along the way.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Second Visitor!

My good friend C is coming to visit from Canada and I am so excited! She was supposed to arrive last night but had some delays due to some "aircraft maintenance" issues and ended up missing one of her connections. She had to spend the night at a hotel in the US last night but the airline has assured her that they can get her to Manzanillo today, so I am keeping my fingers crossed.

The owners of the Posdata Cafe suggested that they would like to throw a party to welcome her to Mexico. I thought that was a great idea and the party is set for later tonight. All of my new friends will gather there tonight for some appetizers, drinks and meeting the guest of honor.

I feel like a little kid at Christmas waiting for Santa to arrive!