Saturday, November 7, 2009

Moving Forward

Many things have happened during my absence from the blogging world and I am going to update you on everything. As you know from previous posts, I went through a tough time this summer. The main reason for this was emotional....I think there were many things that I had not dealt with or processed and I needed to do this. I was stuck in a rut of depression and sadness. In addition, two good friends here in Manzanillo left and moved to other countries and as always, it was hard to see them go as they were really supportive friends. During this time, a few people suggested that maybe I should move back to Canada and I seriously considered it. But, I realized, at the end of the day, it has always been a dream of mine to be here and I really want to stay. Also, I realized that my emotional issues would follow me wherever I go - whether I am dealing with things in this country or another country is just geography. Overall, I am doing much better and have learned many things about myself, about other people and feel like I am moving forward now. I want to send big hugs to my friends D and Chelsea who left- I miss you guys so much and wanted to thank you for all your love and support. I also want to thank all my friends from back home who have been a huge support to me this summer - I could not have made it through without you guys.

As for moving forward......

I FINALLY received my FM-3 visa - this allows me to stay in Mexico longer than the regular 6 month stay for a tourist. The process took 3 months from start (when the government received my application) to finish and so it feels great to finally have it in my hands. Now, my work permit is in process so I have been busy sending out resumes and even have gone for a few interviews. I have two more interviews scheduled for this week so I am keeping my fingers crossed that I will find work soon.

I also went to Guadalajara and Tonola a few times to search for furniture for the house and I am HAPPY to say that I finally have all the major furniture I need. I found some great items in Tonola, which is near Guadalajara. Tonola is an amazing, eclectic place full of local artisans with wonderful and VERY economic items to fill a household. I found lamps and coffee tables, end tables, glassware, mirrors, etc and now my house has pretty much everything I need. I am still looking for a few small items, mostly for storage, but finally feel like my place feels like a HOME.

As for the first trip to Guadalajara, I went with my friend Shelley and her son Dylan. We took Shelley's vehicle as we wanted to have room to bring back everything. Driving and navigating to find our hotel in centro Guadalajara proved to be quite the challenge and definitely made us realize that on the next trip we will take the bus! We eventually found our hotel but driving in a city with millions of people and crazy traffic was very stressful! We stopped several times and asked a few strangers for confirmation/directions and everyone we asked were very helpful and we finally found our hotel. We stayed in the Hotel Morales, a beautiful historic & colonial hotel in the historic centro of Guadalajara. It is considered an artistic and architectural jewel of the city. It is a stunning hotel with amazing service and was very economical. It was only $90 a night for a large 2 bed room. I would highly recommend this hotel to people who wish to be in the historic downtown of Guadalajara. The staff there were very helpful and also had great restaurant recommendations.

On the way back from this trip, we ended up getting a flat tire. Unfortunately, neither Shelley nor I could change it but we were fairly close to a PEMEX gas station and one of the men there graciously changed it for us in no time.

As of the end of October, I also have a room-mate! Her name is Cinthia and she has been a friend of mine for over a year now. We have talked about living together forever, but this new place I am in is perfect since I have a 2nd bedroom and it is much bigger than my other place. Over the summer, we became much closer friends and she has been a real rock for me during the tough times. She is originally from Mexico City and has been living in Manzanillo for almost 2 years now.

My new roomie

She speaks very good English but we try to speak only in Spanish so I can try to improve my language skills little by little every day. She is a great room-mate and she prefers to clean rather than cook and I love to cook and hate cleaning so we are a really good match!

As for the animals, Jade and Jackson are doing good and have adjusted to the two kitties that I adopted, Leo and Kenya. Cinthia also has a cat which is going to take some time for all of them to adjust. Her cat is very timid and does not like dogs so she prefers to hide out in Cinthia's room and the dogs and my cats just sit and wait outside her door!

Leo with a choke hold on Kenya

Jade loves to play with the kitties. Here is Leo and Jade in the midst of a play session

I have also been spending alot of time with my neighbors and they have been wonderful. They are always offering to help and often invite me over for ceviche or drinks.

Here is Jasmin and Paola who I talk to on a daily basis. They come by my place every night to see the kitties and show me some new dances and songs they learned in school. Aren't they adorable?

One of my good friends and neighbor Maroco. He makes a killer home-made ceviche almost every week on his day off

Hmmmmm, yummy ceviche. He makes it with shrimp and fresh fish and it is the best I have ever tasted

As my previous post mentioned, a few weeks ago would have been my late mother's birthday. I had a little celebration here at the house with some good friends and I also went to her final resting place on the beach. When I went there, I discovered this beautiful bird which stayed there the entire time I was there.

Again, a big thanks to everyone for their phone calls and e-mails. I really appreciate the support.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Today, I remember

First, I want to thank you all for the e-mails, phone calls, texts, etc. I truly appreciate all of your support and it really helped lift me up. I am doing better thanks to all of you.

Today would have been my mom's birthday. I am going to go to her final resting place on the beach this afternoon. I will remember all of our good times, the special moments and all the many things that made her special. There are SO many wonderful memories.

Here she is in Manzanillo with myself and many of her girlfriends. That was a crazy trip girls! Remember that crazy earthquake?

Here we are cheering on the Calgary Flames during play-off time

The infamous surprise trip to San Francisco for her 50th birthday

And of course, she is the one hamming it up in the glasses at our family reunion

At the Calgary zoo

Friendships and family were of the utmost importance to Mom. She had this amazing ability to bring out the best in everyone. She was able to bring people out of their shells and help them realize who they truly are. There are so many people that had special connections or bonds with Mom. She had this amazing ability to reach people and make them feel as though they had always known her.
We are all better people because of her. And I know that each of our special memories with her will always be in our hearts.

Here she is on the beach with myself and a number of our friends. This is one of my favorite photos.

Today, I remember my mom, my best friend.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Maybe not

Yes, you are right. I DO suck. I have not blogged in a ridiculously long time and have no excuse. Life has been rough, nada mas............and then throw in some computer issues to boot. But just when I felt life had dealt me a little more than I could handle, I went to the therapy.........and what do I see? These are the kind of days that make me realize why I am here in Mexico. Life is pretty good, no??

There was a long time where I just felt like throwing in the towel with this whole blogging world.... the hell with it, why I am doing this?? Does anyone really care? Apparently Jackson does with his constant perfect poses - all the other moments, he is so mischievious, he is on borrowed time- lol

Sorry internet world...and family and friends......aarrrrghhhhhh I am not sure I have a story to tell. And the bottom line is I am not really sure of anything? I am really sorry to have worried some of you. Thanks for your e-mails. I am soul searching at the moment - I hope you can bear with me. I have alot to tell you about and REALLY hope to find the way to tell you. Here I am with a new friend in Barra de Navidad...Until then....................


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Happy Birthday to my favorite girl!

My niece Raquel

Today is the 12th birthday of my one and only niece Raquel. She is the love of my life and always makes me laugh and brings a smile to my face when I hear her voice or am around her. I just got off the phone with her and just talking to her made my day.

Here she is in Manzanillo a few years ago getting her hair braided

End result! Que bonita!

Here is the "princess" at the hospice in Calgary when we had a Mexican fiesta for my mom. She is holding my friend Camelia's puppy Miko

Happy Birthday Raquel. I love you so much and I think of you every single day. You are a very special girl and I am so proud of you. You are a very wise girl for your age and always inspire me. In some of the things you say (and the way you say them), you remind me alot of mom. She would be very proud of the young woman you have become.

I hope to see you at Christmas sweetie. I miss you so much.
Besos y abrazos

Monday, September 7, 2009

Flying Possums

Yes, that is right. I had an up close and personal encounter with a very scary looking possum (proper name is opposum, I believe). My friend had come over for a visit and we were sitting in the living room chatting when out of the corners of our eyes, we both saw something black and furry flying though the air right outside my front door. When I went out to investigate, I saw a large furry unknown animal being held hostage in Jade’s mouth. I was stunned and had no idea what to do. First of all, I had never seen anything like it and secondly, it was sort of hissing and baring really SHARP teeth. So, there I am yelling the command “drop it” at the top of my lungs. Of course, she did NOT obey and proceeded to fling it around in the air like it was a rag doll. Try to imagine me running around my front yard after Jade with a broom (all I could think of) trying to get her to drop the animal. Well, it is not like my neighbors think I am a little peculiar to begin with!

Eventually she drops it and I bring her in the house. Sure enough, when I looked outside a few moments later, the thing was gone. It was lying there “playing possum”. I thought it was dead! I think my friend was relieved that he did not have to help “dispose” of the animal.

Later on that evening, after my friend had left, I heard Jade and Jackson barking like mad. When I went outside, I discovered that the possum had returned and the dogs had him/her cornered in my front yard. It was hissing ferociously and baring its teeth again. So out I run again trying to round up the dogs and get them in the house before they get tore up by this animal. I was not very successful and it took forever to get them away from the possum and in the house. Before I managed to do that, Jade somehow managed to grab the possum in her mouth and ran INSIDE the house…..WITH the possum. I eventually got her to bring it back outside where I finally managed to wrestle her away. And there it was lying there after the whole ordeal, bloody and either dying or "playing dead" again . I was not sure what to do as it was 1am and all my neighbors were sound asleep. I watched it for a while - it was still breathing but was staying put. After some time, I decided to go to bed, assuming it would be gone by morning. Unfortunately, this was not the case and it was still in the front yard. My neighbor happened to be walking by as I was standing there trying to figure out what to do with it. He explained that the name of the animal in Spanish is "tlacuache" and he picked it up by it's tail and brought it to a nearby garbage pile for me.

After this experience, I found this photo on-line courtesy of Apparently, they have 50 sharp teeth! Luckily, the dogs managed to make it through the experience without any puncture wounds.

Any guesses as to what critter the dogs will find next?

Saturday, September 5, 2009

MIA and general update

The reason for my absence is that I have been really ill. After several days of not being able to keep anything down and being violently sick, and after several trips to the doctor and one visit to the hospital, they discovered I had an aggressive bacteria infection in my stomach and that my blood pressure was extremely low. I am now on some antiobiotics to kill the bacteria and other medication to elevate my blood pressure. After several days of taking the medicine, I am finally starting to feel better and regain some strength. The senora that comes by to collect the rent has been dropping by daily to check on me and last night she said I finally have a bit of color in my face. Apparently, I could have contracted this infection from eating "on the street", ie. eating food from a taco stand or something. This infection wreaked havoc on my body and was definitely an unintentional weight loss plan.

A little progress has been made on the back yard. The fumigation guys came to do their thing and told me that the crazy jungle (my yard) had to be cut down and the moutain of rocks removed BEFORE they could properly fumigate the yard. They offered to do that as part of their service for an extra charge. Well, the extra charge was VERY reasonable and since I was not having any luck getting a hold of the gardener that had been recommended to me, I decided to go ahead and have them do it. They have been here 4 times already and still are not finished but they have made some significant headway in the yard. They managed to get all the grass and weeds cut (100 pesos or $8 dollars) and remove a portion of the large rock pile. They also cut some of the trees back for me. I have decided to get rid of all the rocks and they will remove and dispose of them for 150 pesos (approx $12 dollars). Here are some photos showing the progress. It looks like a different yard! They spent several hours working on the rock pile, but have to return a few times more to complete the mammoth task.

What a difference!

Check out the sheer number of rocks to remove

As for the kittens, we have found a home for another one so I am down to two kittens and have decided to adopt them both. I was only going to adopt one but then after talking to others that have cats and seeing the bond the remaining two have, I feel as though they are part of the family and I could not possibly see another one go. Who knew I would end up being a cat lover?

The iguanas that my dogs like to terrorize continue to live in the trees in and around my yard. I guess they must be territorial and are not too traumitized by Jade using them as a chew toy. Here are a few shots I managed to get of them.

I love the colors on this one

A few of you have asked for photos of my new furniture and improvements I have made in the house. Here are a few shots. I am still trying to figure out a paint color. Any suggestions? I am definitely getting rid of the current light orange/peach color.

One of many ceiling fans I had installed. Check out the orange stripe on the ceiling. Do you see why I want to paint?

The new super comfy furniture

I have talked many times about my Mexican mom here on this blog. Here are some photos from my "Mexican Dad" Humberto's birthday party a few weeks ago. It was a wonderful celebration and they are like family to me.

The birthday boy with the delicious "Tres Leche" cake

His grandaughter made the celebratory sign

Grandson Vicente playing in the pool

Four generations here. My Mexican Mom Christina with her mother, her two daughters and her grandaughter.

A few of you have also asked how my Spanish is coming along. It is going well.....every day I learn something new and my speaking is slowly improving. I have started to read my first full book in Spanish - Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse. I have read it a few times in English so I thought I would attempt it in Spanish. I have a feeling I will be using my dictionary ALOT.

As for my FM-3 Visa, it is STILL not ready. Apparently, some of the banking information which I had printed off the internet will not suffice and I need to get them originals or scanned copies of the originals. Hopefully, I will have this all taken care of next week and they will not need anything more. Crossing my fingers.....

Friday, August 21, 2009

Neighborhood Initiation

-ability to drink copious amounts of chelas (beers) and/or tequila until last man standing/sun comes up/need to go to work.
-ability to participate in the discussion (ENTIRELY in Spanish).
-ability to play AND understand jokes (ENTIRELY in Spanish).
-ability to dance to local music without making an ass of one’s self (ok, I do not think I passed this test).

Result: many laughs with my new neighbors, the learning of new Spanish vocabulary (including slang and typical local expressions), a massive tequila hangover, sore feet (and not just my dance partner) AND………………insert drum roll here………………………a sense of community and BELONGING.

Here is how the intitiation came to be. I arrive home from a dinner party at my friend’s house around midnight. A full party is in effect on the street in front of my house with tables, booming stereo, tequila and the works. When I get out of the car, they ask me politely if we would like to join them and if not, is the music and festivities too loud???? They explain that it is the birthday of the senora that runs the shop across from my house. Again, they say that they would really like me to come and they hope we can join them.

My girlfriends politely decline as they need to leave and wake up early for their work. I also need to do some work in the morning but realize this is an important opportunity to get to know my neighbors. I think and analyze and think some more when finally I decide that I HAVE TO go. Unlike my other neighborhood, I feel like an outsider, perhaps because I am one of the only foreigners in the neighborhood. Or perhaps it is because I am a single woman living alone with a bunch of animals. Here, this is NOT typical and I get asked almost on a daily basis where my husband or boyfriend is and why I have so many animals. To add to my “strangeness” factor, I walk with BOTH my dogs daily AND with them both on a leash. Again, not typical in this or most neighborhoods. Admittedly, in my neighborhood, I will see a few locals walking their pets on a leash but this is certainly not the norm. Or perhaps I am seriously overanalyzing this and I do not feel accepted solely because they have not had the chance to get to KNOW ME!!! After 20 minutes or so of internal debate, I decide to go.

I show up to immediate warmth and generosity and eventually find myself dancing in the middle of the street and learning slang, jokes and the idiosyncrasies of the extended family/neighbors in the fiesta. After many cervezas and tequilas, I manage to extract myself from the fiesta at 5:30am! The party continues without me (even though the senora who is the center of the party has to open her store at 7am) but they have left me with an invitation to join them the next afternoon for homemade ceviche. And I must tell you that the ceviche was DELICIOUS and the best I have ever had here. For those of you unfamiliar with ceviche, it is a citrus-marinated seafood dish. Both regular fish and shellfish are used (raw) and they use fresh lime juice to "cook" or pickle the fish and seafood without any heat.

I am so happy that I had this opportunity. It was wonderful to get to know some of these people a little more and I discovered they are LOVELY, real people who are simply wary of newcomers to begin with.

All in all, a FANTASTIC night. I finally feel more connected to this neighborhood and the people that live here.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A year older....wiser?

First of all, I wanted to thank everyone for their birthday wishes over the weekend. They definitely brought a smile to my face. I have been having a really tough time lately so reading all your messages and talking to you guys really helped lift my spirits. Also, sorry if I have not responded promptly to your e-mail messages as I have been having MAJOR computer issues and my laptop has been gone with the repair guy more than it has been with me the last few weeks.

My friend D and I had a joint birthday party at a local hostel here on the weekend. She knows the owner (and he is a fellow Canadian from Alberta) and he said we could have the party there. It is a great spot - there is a pool, a palapa and a kitchen area that we could use. My friend D made one of my favorite comfort foods - perogies. She and Cynthia were up until 4am one night making dozens and dozens of perogies. They were sooooooooo good. A big thanks to D and Cynthia.

Listening to some tunes from one of the musician's from Bora's pub.

Many countries were represented at the party - Mexico, Canada, US, France, England and Holland

The other birthday girl with friend Paco

Cynthia and Diego cooking up some perogies. Hmmmmmmm....

Talia and Derek dancing

Thanks to everyone for coming!

Party end time - this is AM Camelia!

We had ordered pizza earlier in the night from Sam's Pizzeria. The owners are friends of ours and they make the most amazing pizza - Derek is another Albertan and Talia is from here. For those of you from Manzanillo, try their pizza, it is fantastic! They are located in Santiago next to the cemetary if you want to eat there or alternatively, they deliver!

Quick cat update. I dropped off the one kitten to it's new owner last week. It was surprisingly emotional........YES, I actually cried. It is hard to believe how attached I am to the little munchkins. And to think I was not a cat person! Also, one of the kittens ended up at the veteranarian for 3 days as she was vomiting and not eating after the spay surgery. I picked her up the other day and she is doing much better. She is just on some antibiotic medication and I have to clean her incision every day. For those of you who know me, this is NOT an easy task for me.

More good news.......we have found another home for one of the kittens. My friend Sandra told me that that she has convinced one of our friends to take one and he will take it by the end of next week.

There have been some amazing sunsets lately. Here is one from my friend Michelle's house in La Punta

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

And then there were five....

I found a home for one of the kittens! So, my extended family of animals will be reduced to 5 after tonight. I definitely have mixed emotions....I am relieved to have found one of them a home but at the same time am sad as I have become quite attached to the little ones (and I am not even a cat person). The longer I have the kittens, the harder it will be to say goodbye. They have a way of finding a way into your heart.

Yesterday, I brought them all in to be spayed/neutered. I promised the family that was adopting the kitten, that I would have it fixed beforehand. I decided to bring all of them in at the same time as the veteranarian, Dr Gaby, assured me it was fine for them to have the surgery this young. I picked them up last night and here are a few of them recovering.

The one on the right took forever to wake up

Jade decided she needed to keep an eye on them also

So, it turns out I have 3 females and one male. Ironically, the one I have become attached to and will likely adopt, is the male who I have been calling Princess (she or rather HE whines all the time). And the family that wishes to adopt prefer a male. I am not sure what to do - I am hoping to convince them to take a female, especially since they have been spayed.

My furniture arrived safe and sound and I am very happy with it. It certainly has been a challenge keeping the cats off of it.

I am also waiting for the gardener to come by to help me work on the yard. I have taken some "before" pictures so you can see the jungle itself. We have ALOT of work to do!

Not sure what is going on with this gigantic rock pile. Any ideas on what I can do with this? Or should we just junk it?

There is an iguana on the top of the wall - it is black and grey so is hard to make out

So, what do you think? It has huge potential, I think. There is a lime tree out there that I will definitely keep. As for the others, not sure. Any suggestions?