Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Busy busy...

but not yet working..... How ironic is that? I have been busy getting ready for the move to the new house, trying to furnish the house and many other things. My friend Shelley and I took a road trip to Colima last week to try and knock off some of the purchases on my list. By the end of the trip, her car was literally packed to the roof with our purchases. I still have a long way to go but now have some of the basics. I found a second hand fridge from one of the PATA volunteers for a good price. She is graciously allowing me to keep the fridge at her house until I move. The current renter in the house is going to sell me the air conditioner in his bedroom. This will be a huge godsend this summer as I will be in a neighborhood that is very hot with little breeze. It will definitely be an adjustment from where I am living now. My move date is June 14 and many of my friends have offered to help.

I am also looking after my friend's 5 cats while she is in the United States for 2 weeks. I stop by the house daily and feed them, let them out, deal with the litter, etc. She also asked me to feed some of the street animals that hang around her house. Today, I noticed that one of the roosters really likes cat food and has been eating most of the food I leave out for the street cat. When I tried to shoo the rooster off, he was quite feisty with me and kept returning. Clearly, he does not see me as a threat. So now I am not sure that the street cat is getting any food. Suggestions anyone?

I am also taking on a larger role with PATA and taking on the Treasurer role in addition to my current volunteer activities.

There have been a few new restaurants that have opened in the last little while here in Manzanillo and so my friends and I have gone to check them out. There is a new sushi place in Las Brisas called Yakitori. We have several sushi places here already but since I am a huge sushi lover, I had to check this one out too. The food was delicious and the ambience and decor fantastic. It is right on the beach and the waiters take your orders with hand held digital devices. I really hope this restaurant makes it!

My friends and I checked it out another new restaurant a few weeks ago called Los Coyotes. It is an authentic Korean restaurant and the menu is in both Korean and Spanish. I spoke with the owner and he was explaining how the restaurant came to be. He was working with a large Korean company working on the regasification of the power plant here (official action is finally in place to make the switch to natural gas). It is scheduled to be finished in July 2011. As a result, there is a large Korean community here for a few years and he decided to take advantage of the market opportunity. He recommended several dishes for us to try and it was delicious.

Friends Michelle and Shelley trying the yummy food at Los Coyotes.

Sunday, on the recommendation of my friend Shelley, we rounded up the dogs and went out to El Rio de Mojo. This is a river outside of the city near a tiny town called Chandiablo near the entrance to the foot hills of the Sierra Manantlán.

This river is a place where locals gather on weekends to swim and have small fiestas. You are able to rent a small shanty style palapa for $60 pesos where you can get some shade, cook your food and spend your day relaxing. It is a beautiful spot and the water is great for swimming.

This was my first time here but Shelley said she had never seen it packed with so many families. I think it is a nice alternative than hanging out at the beach....especially since right now the ocean is not ideal for swimming because it is so rough.

Friend's Shelley and Teresa hanging out under our pseudo palapa

You are able to cook on the beach here. We saw other families who brought their own BBQ's or, like ourselves, made our own makeshift BBQ with rocks on the sand and briquettes. We had a delicious lunch of barbecued chicken, veggies and guacamole.

Jackson was in heaven as he loves to swim and immediately went for the water with Shelley's golden retriever Aisha.

Here they are swimming under the watchful eye of Jade.

And here Jade is actually swimming with the other two!

This is a moment where I almost cried out of pride and joy for her. When Jade first came into my life, she was absolutely terrified of water. She would not go near it. Since then, she has learned from Jackson and loves to get her feet wet in the ocean but that is about it. Right before the photo was taken above, Shelley, myself and the dogs were swimming and Jade could not stand being left alone so decided to come in and join us. After that, she swam over and over again. Watching her swim and get over her fear was such a wonderful moment for me!

Unfortunately, our swimming got cut short as one of the local women came up to me and told me that our dogs were not allowed in the water. She told me that is was un-hygienic, dangerous for the children, among many other things. She was so upset and would not allow me to get a word in edgewise. We removed the dogs from the water and went to speak to the owner of the land where we pay our rent for the palapas. He assured us that it was absolutely fine for the dogs to be in the water. They were clean, healthy dogs and he said if we had any further problems, to have them come talk to him. In addition, Shelley had been there on several occasions with her dog with no problems. At any rate, it was a wonderful Sunday spent swimming and relaxing. Thanks for a great day Shelley and Teresa!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Cultural differences

Many of you have been asking me about my love life - or more specifically, do I have one?? I will say that yes, I am back in the intrepid dating scene BUT have decided not to get into details on my blog at this point. Even though I have decided not to comment on these details, I have decided to share a few cultural differences that make dating here in Mexico (in my opinion) refreshing and always interesting!

1. Mexican guys LOVE to dance and are so incredibly good at it. In my dating experience so far, this is often on the list of potential date options. It is just so refreshing to meet guys that actually love and WANT to dance. Finding a guy that likes to dance back home is a rare thing indeed. For those of you that have such a treasure in your life, make sure and tell them, thank you! I seem to remember the typical scene in Canada with only girls on the dance floor (none of the guys could be coerced into dancing)!

2. Chivalry is not even close to dead here. When walking on the street or sidewalks, they will move you to the inside, away from traffic. They almost always open doors for you, they will stand up when you leave the table or room , they will insist on carrying ALL your groceries and bags, and they almost have cardiac arrest if you suggest splitting the bill, let alone paying for it. I must say that I particularly enjoy the chivalry part of the so-called machismo culture here.

3. When meeting men here, I have discovered they will promise the sun, moon and stars to try and please you. For example, the other night I met a young man and we were chatting for quite some time when he pulled out his package of cigarettes and asked me if I wanted one. I responded "no thank you, I do not smoke". At this point, he declared (quite dramatically) that that particular cigarette would be his LAST one…..EVER. I am certainly not naive enough to think that he will stick to this promise, but I found it quite amusing, nonetheless. To my single friends in Canada - can you even imagine a Cdn guy doing this?

Side note: practically EVERYONE smokes here. The majority of my group of friends smoke (both foreign and Mexican) and it is much more socially acceptable than back in Canada.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Summer, here already?

What? No, it can't be. But some random thoughts that tell me it is right around the corner:

• when running into friends, the first thing they ask is "wow, it is hot, right"? Formed as a question with the emphasis on "right"....secretly hoping that someone will tell them they are crazy and it is not yet time for 3 shower min days.

• you start sweating as soon as you wake up and the sun has not even risen yet. Showering seems to be of no use and the cold tap just never seems to produce water quite cool enough.

• you see frogs hopping across the road and other critters emerging from the bush

• people's hair appear to be getting bigger and more unruly each day. Ok, that is just my hair, but you know what I mean.

• you start planning your activities around the possibility of air conditioning.

• you sweep the floor and discover you have another pet in the house. Oh, wait, that is just a giant hair ball and yep, still only have the two dogs.

• you start to wonder if you are experiencing early-menopause and ask yourself if these are the hot flashes your mom was always telling you about.

But it can't be......RIGHT?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Courage wings

I am set to move in to the new place in less than a month and I am feeling quite overwhelmed at the prospect of furnishing an entire house. I was doing fairly well until I sat down to work on the list of all the things I need to buy. My friend Shelley and I are heading to Colima this week for some serious shopping for the new place. Colima is the capital of our state and has a wider array of shopping than we can find here - Sam's Club, Home Depot, etc. It is about an hour's drive away and she offered to take me down this week to continue making headway on things for the house. When I sat down to finalize the list, I realized just how many things I need.....fridge, sofa, sheets, pillows, pots and utensils for cooking, plates, glasses, and the list goes on and on. I guess this is somewhat reminiscent of when I moved to the big city in Saskatoon to start university and moved into an apartment with my friend Tracey. However, I do not remember us being too stressed about it at the time. Mind you, I think we furnished our entire apartment with about $100 and mostly hand me downs from family and friends! And we were more excited about our new found freedom. Ahh, the care free days.....

On another note, I have been getting my resume out there and finally have it fully translated into Spanish. I had budgeted a year to focus on school, learning the language and immersing myself before looking for work. That year is fast approaching (2 1/2 months away) and is definitely contributing towards my stress level. On a positive note, my Spanish is really coming along and I have a few local friends who I only converse with in Spanish now. It is such a good feeling!

Soon, I will be saying good-bye to this apartment and the best thing about it - the amazing view. This view has inspired me and lifted me up on many occasions. I have written many a blog post on my balcony with this as my backdrop.

Bottom line is that I think the enormity of my decision to stay, and more importantly, doing it on my own, is really starting to hit me. My friend Lenise sent me this card back in September shortly after I moved here and left my ex. I still have it displayed on my fridge and have been referring to it alot lately for strength.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Update on several fronts

I have a new place to live and will be moving to the unfurnished 2 bedroom house in mid June. I am very excited and nervous all at the same time! It will be good to finally have a larger space and the dogs will be in paradise with the huge yard. I even have a lime tree in the back yard along with some other trees and flowers. Unfortunately, I have anything BUT a green thumb so I may have to enlist some help on the gardening front! I am ashamed to admit this but once I was given a cactus and I could not even keep that alive. I guess gardening is just not in my skill set.

I also have already started to furnish the place. My friend Shelley let me know about a fellow Canadian who was moving and selling many things in his condo. Unfortunately, he had sold most things when I got there but he had two bedroom sets left complete with frames, headboards, matching night stands and VERY good quality mattresses (which are hard to find here). They are beautiful and very good quality and only a few months old. So, I purchased them at a bargain and then started to organize how to move them. The only catch was I had to move them out of his condo by this past Monday as the new owner of the condo was taking possession on Tuesday. Fortunately, the current renter in the house I am moving to was gracious enough to allow me to move the furniture into the spare bedroom.

One of my friends offered to help me move everything in his truck. I also enlisted the help of another friend since I was unable to be much help with the heavy lifting part due to my foot injury. Well, before the big moving day, he started asking all these questions - how big is the truck, how many truck loads will it take, is there enough clearance in the elevator or stairwells, etc. With some shame and embarrassment, I quickly realized I did not know the answer to many of his questions. As a result, he enlisted the help of another friend (now we have 3 guys for the heavy lifting), and I arranged another truck (just in case it did not fit in the one). Let's just say if it was not for him, there is no way we could have moved everything. We needed BOTH trucks and they were overflowing. The worst part of it was that most things would not fit in the small elevators and had to be carried down 6 flights of stairs!

3 hours later, along with a few trips by me to go get tools and other items from friends Stan and MJ, we had everything moved in to the new house. Well, almost everything. The one bed frame was too large to fit through the door. Yes, I had measured the rooms to make sure everything would fit but I had failed to measure the doors that they would go through! Oops! At any rate, the bed frame is in the car port until we can get back there with my friend's tools to take it apart so that it can fit through the door. It was a long night for my friends and we did not finish until midnight. After a few beers and some tacos, everyone was smiling again. A big thanks to everyone for all their help that night - I could not have done it without you!

I went to the monthly women's luncheon a few days ago and we had a local doctor as a guest speaker. One of the doctor's main topics was the current situation on the swine flu (or whatever I am supposed to be calling it now). She indicated that there have been 9 confirmed cases of swine flu here in Manzanillo to date with no fatalities. She also indicated that the face masks are not effective. As far as a timeline is concerned, she estimated another month or so before things calm down.

Yesterday, I finally met fellow blogger same life -- new location and his brother. He needed some help finding some specific/specialty items that he cannot get in Melaque and so I showed him where to find a few of those places here in Manzanillo.

It was great to finally meet him as I have been a regular reader of his blog for some time now. We spent several hours scoping out what the Manzanillo stores had to offer (or "reconnoiter" as Steve put it)! Clearly, if you have read his blog, it is clear who the good writer is - I use words like "scoping out" whereas he is much more articulate with words like reconnoiter. Strangely enough, I have heard the word reconnoiter used by two different people in the span of this week. It is not only my Spanish vocabulary that is expanding....

It was great to finally meet Steve along with his brother. We had a few harrowing experiences on the road but what would an adventure be in Mexico without a little excitement? We plan on getting together again in the near future with dogs in tow. He has an adorable golden retriever that I am looking foward to meeting.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Back to the beach

I have been getting many questions about how my leg is doing, am I walking normally again, etc. First of all, a big thanks to all of you who have been sending notes of encouragement and support - I really appreciate it. As to my current state of gimpness, I can say that I am walking much better and have much less pain on a daily basis. One of the hardest things about this injury was the lack of mobility, not being able to do things for myself and not being able to go to the beach. The orthopedic specialist said that after I started walking again, I was to stay away from walking on the beach for about a month. That just about killed me as I am used to going there daily with the dogs. And there is something about the ocean that is good for the soul. Whenever I am having a tough time or need to contemplate matters, I go for a walk on the beach. I inevitably feel so much better afterwards. It is just good for the soul, I think. Anyways, not being to go for so long was really depressing and was not only hard on me but on the dogs too as they aboslutely LOVE the beach.

I am happy to report that I am getting better each and every day. I am now walking about one hour a day and am back to walking on the beach again a few days a week. Hooray!

One of my first days back at the beach - the dogs had a blast!

Here is Jackson after the beach - I think he is smiling

After we got back from the beach, my friend and I had a cold beer on the balcony. He had left his empty can on the coffee table and when I came into the living room, Jade had the can on the floor and was trying to lick out whatever she could. Ahhh, your Grandma would have been proud Jade. Sol was her favorite beer!