Thursday, October 30, 2008

Adventures with Alex - Part 3

We took a full day trip with friends Stan and MJ to Comala while Alex was here. We thought it would be good for him to experience another part of this great state. Before we arrived in Comala, we went to the La Hacienda de Nogueras which is a restored hacienda just outside of Colima city. It houses an amazing eco-park along with a museum. This hacienda was purchased and remodeled by famous artist Alejandro Rangel Hidalgo. In the museum, there are amazing pre-hispanic pottery pieces dating from 500 years B.C. to 600 A.D. THe museum also features many of Hidalgo's early paintings. They ask for a small donation of 20 pesos per person to enter.

The eco-park was a nice surprise and we saw some beautiful flowers, many varieties of cactus, turtles, birds, etc.

Here is Alex amongst the bamboo. I have never seen bamboo this large.

Next, we went to the small town of Comala. The town is famous for it's cobblestone streets, whitewashed buildings and views of the volcanos. The town is also famous for it's "botaneros" which surround the central plaza. These are pubs where people go to have a drink and receive free "botanas" (snacks), usually with live mariachi music. There are typically many different mariachi bands competing to play their songs. Songs typically cost around $5USD.


MJ, Alex and Stan in one of the botaneros. The food was fantastic and we tried ceviche, enchiladas, tacos, burritos, and guacamole to name a few.

We had a few different mariachi bands play for us.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Adventures with Alex continued

While Alex was here, I tried to bring him to as many different places to eat as possible so he could try as much local cuisine as possible. One night, we were invited to my landlord's place where she had it catered by a local Mexican chef. She served Chiles en Nogada. This dish consists of poblano chiles stuffed with "picadillo" (a mixture containing ground meat, fruits, and spices) topped with a walnut-based cream sauce and pomegranate seeds, giving it the three colors of the Mexican flag (red, green, and white). The presentation was absoloutely beautiful and in retrospect, I wish I would have taken a picture. Here is a photo that I found on the internet so you can get a sense of what it looks like.

It was absolutely delicious and Alex said it was his favorite Mexican dish that has tried so far.

Another day, we met friends Kris and Renee for lunch at their favorite seafood place. It is a little seafood stand on the left side of the road right before you get to Hotel Playa de Santiago called El Aliviane (although I do not remember seeing the name anywhere).

Alex, Kris and Jade

Renee and Kris suggested that we get there early (noon) because if you wait until normal Mexican lunch time (3pm), they are typically sold out of most things. When we arrived at noon, it was full of local people already. They serve almost everything raw in a cocktail glass (small, medium or large) where you can add your own condiments like chile, worstershire, lime, ketchup, magi, etc. Alternatively, you can eat it directly on a tostada. They give you a list of all the fresh seafood that they have that day like shrimp, oysters, scallops, crab, clams,etc.

Here is a photo of my lunch selection which includes cooked shrimp, raw scallops and raw oysters. It was absolutely delicious and the freshest seafood I have ever tried.

Alex and I enjoying a cold beer with our lunch

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Adventures with Alex

While Alex was here, we were invited to a restaurant opening in Las Hadas near the marina called Frida's. It was a great way to meet some new people, both expats and locals alike. It was a very young hip crowd and we had alot of fun.

Alex, Wayo, Chelsea, and Kris

Alex showing his feminine side with my friend Chelsea!

That day, Alex and I were trying to decide whether we were going to do a trip to Guadalajara the next day for some sight-seeing. I had dog care lined up already. However, after talking to some locals we discovered that there was a tropical storm in the area and it would likely be raining cats and dogs there. As such, we decided to change our plans and go somewhere else the following day. However, we had not yet decided where to go. At the restaurant, friends Kris and Renee were telling us about Boca de Iguanas, an eco hotel and resort in Costalegre approximately one hour from Manzanillo near the town of La Manzanilla. It is a resort owned by friends Renee and Rob and they invited us to come out there to check it out. Kris and Renee were also heading out there so we were able to catch a ride out there with Kris.

Alex and Kris's dog (a dog rescue from the street) on the way out to Boca.........somebody was tired from the night before!

Boca de Iguanas is an amazing place! It is a little piece of paradise. There are two cabanas right on the beach and 10 other rooms in the hotel portion that are all designed a little differently. Our room was amazing.......our bathroom was open air concept with bamboo above the shower and tub. It was one of the most amazing and unique places I have ever been to. From our hotel room, we would walk through mangroves to get to the pool and the beach. In the mangroves, we saw large iguanas, spiders, egrets, and even crocodiles!

Walking through the mangroves on the way to the beach

One of the resident crocodiles

The infinity pool on the beach

Alex had fallen through his chair by the pool! After laughing and getting my photo op, I finally helped him out of the chair!

Alex enjoying a cerveza by the pool

Beach shots

The beach was beautiful and we had it all to ourselves until the last day

We were originally only going to stay for one night as Debi was looking after the dogs. However, once we were there, we fell in love with this beautiful place and phoned Debi to see if she would keep the dogs for one more night. She graciously said yes, and we stayed in paradise yet another day. Our last day there was turkey for us!

On our last day, there was a film crew there. Apparently, the reality show "Paradise Hotel" from Denmark was there filming for a few days.

Thanks to Renee, Rob and Kris for a fantastic weekend! And a big thanks to Debi and Ron for looking after my babies. It was their first time away from me here in Mexico and they had a fabulous time! Here are a few photos from their sleepover. They were in paradise also swimming in the pool, playing in their big yard,etc. I don't think they wanted to come home either!

Jade had fallen in the pool by accident while chasing the other dogs - she is definitely not in there because she wants to be!

What do I want?

A friend of mine asked me the other day what it is that I want from life. What comes next for me? What am I doing here in Manzanillo? What I am searching for? Well, I have thought about this long and hard and I think the answer is this. I want love, I want happiness, I want to find someone to share my life with that loves me for who I am. I want to move forward from the past and no longer repeat past patterns. I want a partner who is available, emotionally and otherwise that wants the same things as I do. I want to laugh, I want to enjoy every moment, I want peace, I want balance. I want to cry less and laugh more.

I am not sure what comes next for me. What I do know is that I am taking this one step at a time and trying not to repeat past mistakes. I want to learn the beautiful Spanish language, which is what I am working on. I want to have some harmony in my life where all things in my life are as they should be - nourished and balanced. I want to enjoy every day and every moment. Here in Mexico, I am accomplishing some of these things little by little. I see beauty everywhere here and have wonderful moments of peace.

A beautiful moment on the beach - I love this time of day.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

In memory of my Mom

Yesterday would have been my mom's 55th birthday. I decided to go down to her final resting place here in Manzanillo where we scattered her ashes. I spent the morning down there with the dogs and thought about her, her life, all the things I loved about her and how much I miss her everyday. I thought about all the wonderful memories, including 10 years of fun times here in Manzanillo on our vacations.

Jade and Jackson playing in the ocean near Mom's final resting place

Jackson taking a break from fetch (Mom loved him and would call him her "granddog")

Mom, my brother Trevor, and mom's good friend Wendy in San Francisco for her surprise 50th birthday present. We took her to see her favorite baseball team - The Toronto Blue Jays in Oakland. What a fun weekend!

Mom sitting by the pool on our trip to Mazatlan

Trevor and Mom

Diane, Bev, Linda, me, Mom, Joan and Barb in Manzanillo

Mom in Comala, Mexico giving a present to a young Mexican boy

Monday, October 20, 2008

In remembrance of Oso

Today, one of the dogs in my neighborhood died very suddenly. I still cannot believe it is true. A few days ago, this cute dog (Oso) was following me, Alex and the dogs home. And today, he is no longer with us. Oso was owned by one of my friend's neighbors. My friends saw this dog this morning and he seemed fine and his usual self. A few hours later, he was lying in the street, not able to even lift his head. My neighbor and I had discussed taking him into the vet. We were concerned that the owner did not have the financial means to do so. We discussed expressing our intentions to them. However, by supper time, he was gone, and it was too late.

Due to the suddenness of his death, the speculation is that someone poisoned the dog. Apparently, this has happened in the past in this neighborhood. I clearly have no evidence and am not saying that is what happened. If this is in fact true, I am so disheartened and disappointed in mankind.

This dog was a common fixture in the neighborhood. On my daily walks to and from home, I would see him several times a day. He would come up and play with my dogs, I would pet him, and then he would follow us home. It was like clockwork. And today, we did not see him. He was a part of our lives and I had come to grow very fond of him. I guess this whole situation makes me think about life, death, living in the moment, cherishing those we love in our lives, and remembering what is most important to us. I guess that is the reason why I felt compelled to write about this.

So today, I would like to say that I am thankful for everyone in my life, canines and humans alike. I appreciate every single one of you. You make my life worth living.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

I am back!

No, I have not dropped off the face of the earth. I have received several e-mails wondering why I have been MIA. I apologize for worrying you and being a delinquent blogger. One of the main reasons I have not blogged in the last few weeks was that I had another visitor here in Manzanillo! Another reason was that my landlord moved the modem upstairs to the house that my apartment is connected to and unfortunately, my internet connection is shoddy at best now. I am looking into getting my own modem....until then, my internet connection seems to be hit and miss. I promise I will be back to my usual blogging and will try and make it up to you.

Back to my visitor....Alex phoned me one morning and informed me he was at the airport and on his way here! He arrived that night which was a wonderful surprise! We had a fantastic time while he was here and I have alot to write about. He had been talking about coming back to Manzanillo for a visit (he was here in August) but it was not looking good with his work and business travel schedule. And then surprise - he was on his way! It truly was wonderful timing as I had been feeling quite blue so his visit did wonders for my spirits.

We managed to pack in alot of activities while he was here and we were out of town for part of it. I will dedicate the next few blogs to filling you in on all our adventures.

When he first arrived, we spent the first few days just relaxing. We were able to hang out at the condo complex I used to vacation at and swam in the pool, boogie boarded in the ocean, played cards, etc.

We are both fairly competitive at pretty much everything we do so even our games of cribbage got a little extreme with trash talking and the like. I am now the current reigning cribbage champion!

One of the highlights was the surfing lessons we did on Olas Altas beach in Santiago. It was on both of our "bucket lists" and we decided to try it while he was here. We took lessons with Ricardo from Bora's and he and his friend were good instructors. It was an absolute blast and we loved it. We both managed to get up on our boards several times(which was fantastic as according to our instructors, many people can not even get to a standing position their first time). Unfortunately, I have no photographic evidence of us surfing, so you are just going to have to take my word for it! We both had some spectacular wipeouts but managed to survive the experience, although exhausted and incredibly sore for the next few days. I have a new found respect for surfers and their level of physical fitness.

We also went out to several friends houses for dinner or drinks. Here is the view from my friend's house in Las Hadas. What a beautiful sunset that night.

Stay tuned for more of our adventures....

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Have I Acclimatized?

My dad asked me the other day if I had acclimatized yet to the crazy hot and humid heat that we have been experiencing here in Manzanillo. Many of you have asked me this same question so I thought I would address it in this post.
Since I had only ever been to Manzanillo during tourist season in the past (November - May), I had yet to experience a summer here nor hurricane season. In the 10 years I had been vacationing here, I had only seen it rain once and while it was hot during the day, the humidity was not too bad and the evenings cooled down very nicely. Sometimes, in fact, I remember putting a pashmina or cardigan on when I was out for dinner in the evenings.

One of the first things my local friends said when I told them I was moving here to Manzanillo was, how on earth are you going to handle the heat and humidity of the summer months/hurricane season? Well, now I fully understand why everyone kept saying that to me!

Of course, I arrived in Manzanillo in the hottest month possible and the very start of summer and hurricane season. Clearly, I like to do things the hard way! Bottom line, it is FLIPPIN HOT here in the summer! And so, to answer your question as to whether I have acclimatized, the answer is a resounding NO. I have never experienced heat and the oppressive humidity that is typical of the summer months here. It tends to rain a lot but mostly in the evenings and everyone definitely welcomes the rain as it cools things off for a while.

But one thing I will say, is that I am starting to get used to constantly sweating, only walking the dogs before 9am and after 7pm, having multiple cold showers per day to cool off, and becoming one with the fans in my apartment. One of my friends was shocked when I said that I no longer use the hot water tap in my shower. He said, how on earth can you take a cold shower? Then he came to visit, and fully understood. It is one of the ways to truly cope and cool off. In fact, many Mexicans here do not have hot water at all. It is simply not required.

On a daily basis, I am in awe of Mexican woman who are walking around in high heels and polished outfits, looking completely fabulous without a drop of sweat on their body. I often wonder to myself, how do they pull that off? The answer is simple – acclimatization! One thing I have yet to achieve and may in fact never achieve.

The other day, it had cooled off a bit as it was storming and I was relishing the breeze. Ahhhhh, love, love, love the breeze. When I took a shower that night, I actually used some hot water in my shower for the FIRST time since I had arrived. What a thought!

I am starting to get used the heat a little bit though. I barely use the air conditioner in my room anymore, as I find the fan more than sufficient. I also carry a towel or napkins around when I go on walks to mop off the sweat that is pouring off my forehead. I never knew I could sweat so much.

So, there you have it. This sweaty Canadian is about to go and take her 3rd cold shower of the day!
PS Still do NOT miss winter and snow though!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Meeting new people and yet more birthdays

On the weekend I went to a birthday party of a person I had recently met who is my age. She had a few girls over to her house for wine and appetizers so I was able to meet some more people (both ex-pats and locals). It was great to meet some more women my age. They were wonderful and were an absolute riot. I had been having a rough week and really needed that. It was so good to laugh and it really lifted my spirits. This week I feel like a new person. Last week, I had been feeling really terrible, so much so that my mexican mom brought a doctor over to the house. Apparently my blood pressure had dropped to a super low level and I had to go on some medicine to bring it back up to normal. After a few days of being on the medication, I started feeling much better.

I think being sick and cooped up in the house definitely did not help my emotional state and I hit an all time low. I was talking with a friend of mine and said that I think I am only now dealing with everything that happened. Initially, when I first moved into the house, I was in task mode getting settled, buying things for the house, meeting my neighbors, starting spanish class, etc. Then, I had two different sets of visitors and was busy having fun and visiting with them. Now that life has become somewhat normal, routine and my visitors have gone home, I can no longer avoid everything and have to deal with things. It definitely sucks and is really tough but something I have to go through. A big thanks to "mommy dearest" and my mexican mom who were there when I had a bit of a meltdown. They both lent a shoulder to cry on and were wonderful in helping me through some tough moments. I feel very fortunate to have these people in my life.

I went to another birthday party earlier this week at the condo complex where I stayed every year when I used to come here on vacation. My mexican mom invited me and I had a great time. It was all local people, there was great ceviche, dancing, and one of the men played acoustic guitar and was a fabulous singer. It was also a great opportunity to practice my Spanish. Unfortunately, I do not have any pictures to share as i had forgotten my camera. I know, I will not happen again!

Spanish class has been going very well - I feel like things are starting to sink in a little bit. I am still going 3 days a week and then also spend many hours studying, reviewing vocabulary and verbs.

I went to a woman's luncheon today called Mujeres Amigas. This is a women's group that meets once a month and is a great way to meet other local women. There is also a book exchange where you can find books and magazines in English. They also bring in speakers on various topics. It was nice to meet a few more people in town.

On a completely unrelated matter, the new Starbucks opened last week. I cannot even believe that there is a Starbucks here in Manzanillo now. This town has changed so much over the last 10 years.

And since I have no other photos to share with you, I will leave you with some pictures of my babies!