Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Limbo and falling coconuts

I have been getting a bunch of e-mails asking about my moving situation and the bestway to describe where I am at right now is a state of limbo. To date, I have looked at many houses and apartments and the one I like the most and that would be ideal for me and the dogs is the 2 bedroom unfurnished house with the fenced yard that I have talked about in previous posts. I was supposed to find out last weekend if I can rent the house but as of last night, I still do not have confirmation. My friend that is currently renting is going to bring me over to meet the landlord this Saturday and hopefully I can then make some concrete plans.

In a previous post, I was stressing about furnishing an entire house but after much thought and deliberation (and provided I GET the house), I have decided to go for it. I think it is too good of an opportunity to pass up. So thanks to everyone for your advice and thoughts - I really appreciate it! In my current state of limbo over "THE house", I have continued looking at other places just in case that one falls through. In addition, I have found beds and bedroom furniture to furnish BOTH bedrooms at a great price! A fellow Canadian is moving and is selling the entire contents of his condo. I went over to his condo as soon as I heard but unfortunately he had already sold everything, with the exception of the furniture in both bedrooms. The beds are only a few months old and are great quality with frames, headboards and nightstands.

On an entirely unrelated note, one of the things I love about tropical places and Manzanillo, in particular, are the beautiful palm trees.

Often, you see men shimmying up the tree (without ropes) with machete in hand to cut down all the coconuts. It is quite a talent and incredible to watch. Yesterday, I was walking with the dogs near the beach along a street lined with palm trees. I was listening to my IPOD, in my own little world, when suddenly there was a loud thunk right next to me. It scared the living daylights out of me. A coconut had fallen from the tree and missed me by a few feet! Now, those who know me, are quite aware how accident prone I am as evidenced by several concussions in my lifetime. Up until now, I had never really considered being concussed by a coconut, or worse. I will be taking a wider berth around the palm trees from now on.......

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Swine Flu and Manzanillo

I have been getting a ton of e-mails from concerned friends and family about the outbreak of the latest flu virus. From what I can gather, the flu scare is mostly concentrated in Mexico City where they have closed down schools, churches, sporting events and other public places. This area seems to be where the most reported cases have been found. Here in Manzanillo, based on my readings and research, there have been NO reported cases (yet). If anyone knows any differently, please comment below.

In addition, no one is wearing masks here (yet) from what I have seen. For precautionary measures, they have recently closed down some of the schools here. I am not sure if all are closed but my friend's son goes to a private school and they have closed that one down until May 6. Some people are even stocking up on groceries because they are scared the stores will close too! However, there certainly isn't panic or mayhem, simply precautionary measures. I have also heard that the hospitals are prepared if there happen to be any outbreaks here.

If anyone has any other information on the virus and the Manzanillo area, please feel free to comment below.

Here is a fact sheet on the virus courtesy of the Public Health Agency of Canada (thanks Trev).

Friday, April 24, 2009

I think I have found a house!

My life has been entirely consumed by trying to find a house to live in for the past week and I have not been able to do much else. I have been making phone calls, more phone calls, going to look at houses, apartments, reading classifieds, etc. Have I mentioned how hard it is to understand the Spanish language on the phone?

At any rate, my good friend Renee had called in the midst of all this and mentioned one of our mutual friends, a local dentist in town, rents a fabulous house and I have to go see it as the house would be ideal for both me and the dogs. I went and looked at it the other evening and it was pretty amazing. It is a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom house in a very nice neighborhood and the best part is the HUGE fenced yard. It would be paradise for the dogs - they would absolutely love it. Even better, the rent is CHEAPER than I am paying here! The place will be available in early June and I should find out by the end of the weekend if I can take it.

The only catch is that the house is not furnished and I would have to spend a fair chunk of cash to do so since I currently live in a furnished place. But I know that after looking at many places, this is far too good of an opportunity to pass up. As you know, I brought very little with me from Canada - just my dog, some of my clothes, and a few household items (5 large totes in total). This has been causing me a fair bit of stress as I am nervous to invest in furniture and things when I do not know when and how much work I can find work here. I had given myself a year (and budgeted accordingly) to focus on learning the language and immersing myself before looking for work. The scary part is, the end of the year is fast approaching. After talking with one of my girlfriends the other night, I realized that purchasing furniture, having my own things, making a home, etc. are making my decision to stay very real. It is putting money where my mouth is, so to speak. Before looking at this house, I was only searching for furnished places and never really gave it a second thought as to why. Now, I realize that even though I have made a conscious decision to stay, I have not started to lay down roots or commit to anything - other than building and nurturing friendships/relationships.

At the end of the day, I do want to stay and give it a go here on my own. This much I know. I love Manzanillo with all my heart and hope that I can find work here to support myself. What is really comes down to is fear and the reality that I am taking another risk to achieve my dream of being here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Looking for a new place to live

On the weekend, my landlord called and I discovered that they are raising the rent in my apartment to almost double the original amount. Ironically, from May to October, most other people reduce their rent for the summer months. None of my friends and neighbors can believe it, but hey, not all things make sense in this world. Everyone thinks they are crazy to raise the rent, especially since I have been away from this apartment more than I have lived in it (with my school in La Manzanilla, house-sitting, my injury, trip to Canada, etc). At the end of the day, this is for the best as I have been looking for a larger place anyway that is more spacious for the dogs (and when I have guests visiting from Canada). This just gives me the push I need to find a new place pronto!

As a result, I have been busy looking for another place to live. I have a few leads and am going to see another house today which I am very excited about. It is MUCH bigger than the apartment I am in, has two bedrooms, a big yard and the best part is that it is cheaper than the rent I am paying now! It is currently being rented by a man that I had a job interview with a month ago who is leaving for Australia soon. I am keeping my fingers crossed!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Dogs like to spoon too!

I could not believe it when I found them like this!

What are you laughing at? So, I like to snuggle!

So, it is that time of year again for the dogs to be de-wormed. My vet recommends I give the dogs pills to kill any worms/parasites they may have every 3 months. And apparently us humans here in Mexico should do the same once or twice a year. I guess that we could have amoebas or parasites and not even exhibit symptoms. So, a few days ago, the three of us all took our de-worming medicine. Hopefully, we are all now worm and parasite free!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Pippi is that you?

No, that is just the orange in my hair after an unsuccessful attempt at highlights. I went for a haircut and highlights to my usual guy. However, this is the first time I have asked for highlights/color here in Mexico. I THOUGHT I had asked him (in Spanish) for two different color highlights - one was a caramel color and the other was an auburn color. I wanted both colors, but alternating. I clearly must have been in a fog because halfway through the process of him putting in the foils, I noticed there was only one bowl of highlight color. I asked him where the other color was. He was confused and replied that he had mixed the two colors together. ARRRRRRRRRRRGGGGH! Panic ensued but all I could do was wait and see. He kept assuring me it would be a beautiful color. When the foils came off, all I kept saying was OMG. He said to that I was just not used to the change and to go home and see how I felt the next day. Well, since then, I have been in a ball cap! And every time I look in the mirror, I almost have a heart attack.

Now, I definitely take responsibility for the communication error. I am also going to have to step up my Spanish studying. But what do I do now? I have tried calling him to set up another appt to change it. I think he is still on vacation for Semana Santa OR maybe he is just avoiding me! Any suggestions?

Oh, and by the way, the picture really does not do the color justice. It is a bright, coppery orange color.

Monday, April 13, 2009


Lately, I have had more critters in my house than usual. I think it is because my landlord is not fumigating as often. A while ago, I woke up in the middle of the night because Jade was making quite the racket and would not settle down. When I turned on the lights, I saw a large scorpion a few inches from her nose. I thought it may be dead but when I got closer, I realized this was not so as it's tail went up in warning.

A few weeks later, I found this on the wall in my kitchen. Not sure what was going on with it's legs.....maybe spiders practice yoga also.

So my question is this. How on earth are critters of this size getting in my apartment when there are screens on all the windows?????

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Happy Easter

I have visions of roasted turkey, families joining together and of course, chocolate! But alas, not going to happen for me this year. So, enjoy your families, enjoy the yummy food and have some fun (and chocolate) for me!
I think the thing I miss most about Easter is getting together with family. I have many fond memories of holidays, especially Easter. We would all gather together, eat, play cards and have lots of laughs. My mom would always buy little gifts for us, even as adults. In the gifts, there would be a little chocolate but it would mostly be comprised of practical household items. For example, one year I got a set of glass mixing bowls for baking. Very cool...that was my mom - always thoughtful and very practical!

Now I will share a good Easter story with you. I was in my first year university and Easter came along. I took the bus home so I could spend the weekend with my family. It was Good Friday and Mom was trying to convince me to go play bingo with her. First of all, I was completely broke. In fact, I had one more month of rent to pay in my apartment, and I did not have enough money to pay it. I was in a huge bind and I had no idea what to do about it. The way it worked was that my parents scrounged up enough money for my tuition and I was responsible for paying the rest. Well, I had not budgeted correctly and was short for my last month of rent. My parents did not know my predicament and I could not even fathom asking them for the money.

Ok, back to the bingo saga. I do not particularily enjoy the game so was not really enamored with the whole prospect of going. Well, mom was insistent and basically strong armed me into going and told me she would pay for my cards and if either of us won, we would split the money. So, I begrudgingly went to bingo with her. Wouldn't you know it, I won a HUGE jackpot and mom refused to take her half of the money. And not only was it enough to cover my rent for the next month, I would not have to live on ichiban noodles!

Everytime Easter comes around, I think of this story and how I clearly had angels looking out for me (even though I gambled on Good Friday rather than going to church!!)

Happy Easter everyone!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Family visit

In February, my family came to visit me for the first time since I moved to Manzanillo. They have come many times before but this was their first time visiting while I live here. My father, his girlfriend, her nephew and his friend along with another couple came. In addition, my brother was able to come around the same time. Everyone was here for 2 weeks and it was great to see them. My brother Trevor arrived first and stayed with me at my apartment the first night. My friend Shelley offered to lend me her car so that I could head out to the airport to pick him up. Thanks again Shelley - that was so thoughtful of you.

It was so good to see Trevor - it had been over 7 months since I saw him last. When we arrived at the apartment, Jackson just about lost his mind, he was so excited to see him. It was pretty cute actually. That first night, we went out to to Trevor's favorite pub and then went out to my friend's bar . A few of my friends came out that night so he was able to meet some of the people in my life here.

Trevor enjoying a "cold one" on my balcony

Good friends Rob and Mike out on the town with us- fellow canucks

My father and crew arrived the following day and we met up with them at the condo where we have always stayed. Trevor stayed with them in their condo for one week and then with good friends Bonnie and Warren the second week.

On a side note, I managed to see my dad at Christmas time when I went to Canada for a visit. He came up to Calgary one day for a visit and we went out for supper. Even though it has nothing to do with this post, I had to include this photo as it is a classic! We went out for dinner to a greek restaurant and here he is with the belly dancer. Look at that grin! Is that a $5 dollar bill Dad? Tee hee

Don, Dawn, Lorri and Dad enjoying Happy Hour

As always, Trevor had his ball glove and was on the beach every day getting in some play time.

Margaritas anyone?

Boys night out

Good eats

One evening, my friend invited us to go to the local rodeo. Both Trevor and I were not sure about it, but thought we would check it out. No one else wanted to go so it was just the three of us. It was a very interesting experience and I am glad that I went. The rodeo we went to was in Santiago at the Plaza de Toros. It consisted soley of bull riding. Of course, there was a 15 piece band belting out banda music and couples would dance in the stands between bull rides. From what I observed, the rodeo is a big family outing and children barely old enough to walk donned cowboy hats, boots, buckles,etc. It was adorable to see. Here is Trevor with his new friend's cowboy hat. This is one of my favorite pictures - I laugh everytime I see it.

Giddee up!

Of course, a visit to Manzanillo would not be complete without a visit to the local botanero, La K'Melia. This is a place where you pay for your drinks and they continue to bring out plate after plate of yummy Mexican tapas until you cannot eat anymore. In addition, if you recall from previous posts, there is a live band along with other entertainment where they get "volunteers" from the audience and make them do crazy things. I gathered a big group of people together and we went one afternoon. It was a blast - lots of laughs.

Mike, Trevor and Rob

The whole crew came out

My friend Winter aka Mommy Dearest

Trevor and Marta

Since I clearly had this coming to me (right Camelia?), karma stepped in and I was "volun-told" to go on the stage along with 5 other women. You have to do a number of crazy things, including drinking copius amounts of tequila poppers, having a young Mexican waiter give you a pseudo lap dance (with clothes on, of course) and after doing the tequila shots, they do this to you (video shot by Mike):

Trevor and Thomas also had to go up when it was the boys turn. I also have this on video if anyone wants a copy sent to them. I am not going to publish it here since this is a PG site!

Thanks for the great visit guys! I miss you.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

PATA Manzanillo spay/neuter clinic a huge success!

The PATA Manzanillo clinic that I talked about in my last post ended last night. It was a huge success with over 280 animals spayed or neutered at no cost in just 5 days! I believe that the largest number of animals in one day was around 70! Mind boggling, really. In addition to local families bringing in their pets, there were some street animals that were brought in that ended up being adopted! Overall, I found the clinic very inspiring and rewarding. I watched all the vets and volunteers working tirelessly day after day witnessing their passion and love for animals. It was incredibly heartwarming to watch these vets perform surgery after surgery and still have a smile on their face at the end of the day. Not only that, they receive no monetary reward - they volunteer all of their time. What an incredible experience! I ended up spending several days tattooing identification numbers on the animals as well as helping out in post operation recovery. My fellow volunteers were joking that I should set up my own tattoo business here in town. After accidentally tattooing my finger when a dog started waking up from the anesthesia while I was working on her, it was very clear that this is not a new career path for me!

Local volunteers Lance and son Dylan looking after a puppy in the post operation recovery area

Local volunteer looking after a chihuahua named "Bella" right after surgery. This little dog took longer than usual to come out of anesthesia as her body temperature was quite low and the volunteers had to work hard to bring it back up to normal. Socks filled with rice are warmed up in the microwave to help warm up the animals.

Saturday night around 9pm- our longest day with around 70 animals. This is one of the vet students Gustavo using his own body heat to help warm up a dog recovering from surgery while taking a much needed break!

A brief look in the surgical area. Here 3 vets are performing surgeries. Local vet Dr Gaby is seen opposite the volunteer assisting in the yellow shirt.

Here is Marta, a vet from Guadalajara, checking on one of the dogs that just came out of surgery. She is the one who taught me how to tattoo the identification numbers on the animals

Here is a dog just waking up and ready to be moved into a kennel to await her owners to come pick her up. Isn't she adorable?

3 darling puppies that came in with their mom who had surgery.

One of the volunteers Judy looking after this cutie in post operation recovery

We had alot of little cats like this one come through the clinic.

Here are our fearless leaders of Pata Manzanillo. On the left, standing up, is local vet Dr Gaby Leyva along with Renee, organizer extraordinaire. This was taken at the gathering of vets and volunteers last night. They were thanking all the vets, vet students and other volunteers that came out for the clinic.