Friday, July 31, 2009

One year, can you believe it?

Yesterday marked one year exactly from when I arrived in Mexico to live permanently with my ex-boyfriend. I still remember that day like it was yesterday. I arrived in the Guadalajara airport full of hope and love, nervousness, apprehension and excitement for what was to come. I remember waiting for Jackson to arrive in the baggage area and cried tears of relief when he made his grand entrance and was safe and sound. I remember seeing my ex in the airport and the flood of emotions.

It is truly hard for me to believe I have been living here in Mexico one year. I never could have imagined all the things that have happened since I arrived. It certainly did not play out as I had planned. But I must say that I have learned so many things about myself. It has been a year of self discovery and I feel like I have emerged on the other end as a stronger and more resilient person.

I really believe that if it were not for my ex-boyfriend, I would not have had the courage to come down here and live on my own. Only now, can I look at that experience as a positive one - what I mean to say is that the end result was positive. I am here in this amazing country because of him. Naturally, it took me a long time to see the positive in that whole experience! After living in this country alone without a partner, I realize that I am capable of more than I imagined. Sometimes, I lose sight of this and have moments of crippling insecurity and lack of confidence. But thanks to all my dear friends and family here in Manzanillo and in Canada, US and Australia, I manage to pick myself up again with their help. So, a big thank you to all my friends and family for encouraging me, supporting me, listening to me and loving me. I am forever grateful and without you, I cannot imagine where I would be. Also, a big thanks to my friends and family that came down to visit and support me when I needed it the most. Camelia, Alex, Tara, Barb, John, David, along with my family. I also want to thank my new friends - readers of this blog from far and wide that I have not yet met who have written lovely words of support and encouragement. All of you have been a source of strength.

Taking stock of this year, I have gained many wonderful things in my life and for this, I am grateful. My friend Winter (the one I call "Mommy Dearest") and I had lunch yesterday afternoon and she gave me the most amazing gift. She gave me a beautiful ring that fit my finger perfectly. She told me that everytime I look at it, I am supposed to remind myself that I am good enough just as I am and am worthy of love. I was speechless when she gave it to me.....I was very touched and feel very fortunate to have her in my life. She is very much is like a mother to me - she is always supportive and will always tell me what I need to hear, regardless of whether I want to hear it! Isn't that what Mom's are for?

I went through a few of my archived photos from the year that I have not yet published. So many memories! I feel very grateful to be here and look forward to the next year of adventures.

What???? Do I have something on my nose?

The view from a meditation course I took here in La Audencia. It does not get much better than this!

Mom, I really love it here (even if I do have a new sister)

I love this view of the bay from my friend's Mike and Rob's condo

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Finally some progress

Ok, so many of you have been asking about my progress on the house....questions like - am I getting settled, do I have furniture, can I send more pics of the house and yard, etc. The answer is no, I am not even close to being settled as I only have furniture in my bedrooms and kitchen. And the reason I have not sent pictures of my back yard is because when I look at the yard, all I can here is the theme song to "Welcome to the Jungle". It is overgrown and needs some serious work as there are grass and weeds over a foot high. One of my friends went through the yard a few weeks ago with a machete and got it under control but it is now crazy once again with recent rain. The previous tenant did not really use the back yard nor look after it. As a result, there is alot of work to do. I have contacted a friend of mine here and am going to enlist the help of her gardener since I not only have the tools to work on it, I really have the opposite of a green thumb.

So what has been my problem on getting settled exactly? Apprehension, procrastination, feeling incredibly overwhelmed, where do I start, what is my vision, etc. Then, I envitably think to myself.....ok, look at your list where you have prioritized everything and start on just ONE thing. Simple right??? Ok, then, YOU come here and do it.

Do not lose hope on me yet - I accomplished an UNBELIEVABLE amount of things on my list today. Yes, it is true, I am not a complete lost cause. One of my girlfriends phoned me to let me know she was going to Colima (a city one hour away with many other shopping options). So off we went to places like Home Depot, Liverpool (large department store), Sam's Club (similar to Costco) among others. By the way, there was a huge sale EVERYWHERE we went...anywhere from 25% to 50% discount! Love it!

Colima is a beautiful city full of lovely "jardins" like this one

We got an early start and at the end of the evening, managed to arrive back in Manzanillo with her large Ford Truck filled to the brim inside and out with our purchases. Note to all my friends - I put in a record shopping fact, I think there has never been a longer day of shopping EVER in my life. My friend Kris and I started the day out at 10am and finished unloading all my stuff and opened a bottle of wine around 11pm. Good news.........I FINALLY purchased living room furniture! This is a huge step considering all that is in my living room at the moment are dog beds, dog and cat dishes and various toys for the animals.

I am very excited about the living room furniture - it will be delivered to my home in a few weeks (at no extra cost)! I cannot even imagine having something comfy to sit on...... well, other than a dog bed anyway. But a sofa, loveseat and oversized chair will definitely be a step up, don't you think?

In addition to my living room furniture purchase, I purchased many other items for my casa like:

-ceiling fans Note: I had already purchased 3 for the house but that is clearly not enough in this crazy heat and humidity. When I moved into this house, there were not any fans whatsover, just bare light bulbs hanging from the ceiling
-sheets for the guest room (yes, you can now come visit and not have to "camp out" or sleep with me!)
-storage items and organizers

It feels really really good to finally have some major items crossed off my list.

And some more good news....I talked to my immigration lawyer today and my FM-3 visa application has been accepted for processing. I should have it in a few weeks just in time for my birthday!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Jade vs the iguana

The battle continues between the large black iguana and Jade. The other day, I went into the yard and to my horror, discovered Jade had the large black/grey iguana in her mouth and was shaking it violently. This is one of the iguanas in my back yard that she loves to chase and torment - a few weeks ago, the poor thing dropped it's tail while Jade was in pursuit. Unfortunately for the iguana, it was not able to get away this time. I chased Jade around the yard shouting the "drop it" command. Eventually, she did just that and I quickly brought her into the house to give the iguana a chance to flee (if it was still alive).

Once I had Jade inside the house, I went over to inspect the poor thing. It had a large chunk out of it's back where Jade had it held in her mouth. It was still alive but was very still. Eventually, it slithered off and I have not seen it since.

Here is the poor thing after I managed to get Jade to drop it. You can see that it's tail is just a stump - before with it's full tail, it would have been over a foot and a half longer.

As for the cats, it appears as though I am turning into the crazy cat lady! I still have all 4 of them and have not been able to find homes yet for them. I have a few leads but nothing concrete has happened yet. What started out as a temporary situation has turned into much more than that. I am starting to get a little nervous.

They are now in the playful and mischievous stage and like to climb and jump on everything. Today, I noticed that one of them was playing with something green - it was another baby iguana in the house. I tried to get the iguana out of the cats mouth and it hissed at me and scratched me all over my hands. I finally managed to rescue the iguana and set it free outside. Poor iguanas, they are no match for the animals in my house!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Housewarming Party

I decided to have a housewarming/Canada Day/Independence Day party on the weekend of July 4. It was a regular United Nations of Mexican friends came, friends from Canada as well as friends from the United States. Since I still do not have any furniture in my living room, I thought it was the perfect time to have a party - there is no chance of things getting spilled on or wrecked! I received some awesome housewarming gifts....margarita glasses, cutlery, wine glasses, beer glasses and a really nice bottle of Reposada Tequila along with shot glasses. Hmmmm, I am sensing a theme - no plants as housewarming gifts here........I guess they must know how bad I am with plants!!

One of my Mexican friends Sandra decided to make jello shots in honor of the event and did them in festive colors of the Canadian flag (she is half Canadian/half Mexican. She also did some blue ones to include our American friends - so we had them in red, white and blue.

Friends Mike and Omar after one of the shots!

It was a great time and in true patriotic style, we had several Canadian flags throughout the house. Some of my Canadian friends even came dressed in red and white.

Friend Stan and my friend Winter aka "Mommy Dearest" representing the US dressed in red, white and blue.

We were also lucky to have some of my musician friends from one of the local bands that play at Bora's pub come and play a few tunes.

Jackson trying to use his puppy dog eyes to get some of the great food.

My good friend Marta with Antonio

A big thanks to everyone for coming and for the lovely housewarming gifts!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

It's a bit of a zoo

Yes, I still have 6 animals in the house along with a few other unexpected critters. I still have not had the fumigation done so I have a bit of an insect problem. A friend of mine offered to do the fumigation shortly after I moved in but I am still waiting. In the meantime, I have a serious ant problem......little ones and big ones of all different colors. Jade likes to chase them and eat them......maybe she does not have enough protein in her diet?? Also went into my kitchen one night to grab a drink and saw something crawling on the floor that was glowing bright green.

This was what I found - the picture does not do it justice as the two spots that you can see were glowing a very bright green.

I also have a baby iguana living in my bedroom. I just about had a heart attack one night - I went into my room and saw something scurry under the bed that was over a foot long. I finally discovered that it was an iguana...I could not capture it nor could the dogs - if they could fit under the bed, it would not be an issue. So, I thought I would leave my window open without the screen so that it could escape. Two days later, I saw it in the kitchen under the sink. I guess it does not want to go outside?

I also have several very large iguanas that live in the backyard. Jade loves to chase them and bark at them. One day, I went outside and discovered a very large iguana tail in my car port area.....but no sign of the body. I searched the back yard but did not find the body that belonged to the tail. The following morning, Jade was outside and was barking like crazy. When I went out to see what all the commotion was, I realized that she had cornered a very large iguana in the front yard and guess what? The iguana was missing it's tail! I managed to get Jade in the house so the iguana could escape and hopefully grow a new tail someday. Poor thing....

Did you know that some cockroaches fly? Yes, I discovered one of those in my house the other day. Something very large was flying around and when it finally landed long enough for me to see what it was, I saw a very large cockroach. Uggh....

Yes, Raid is a staple in my house at the moment and is used daily until my friend can come by and fumigate. So, if you ever want to see some of the local critters of Manzanillo, just come to the zoo otherwise known as my house!

A few days ago, Jade was quite sick and had barely touched her food for several days. When I examined her, I discovered she had several large red welts all over her body. I figured she might have gotten mixed up with some fire ants in the back yard. But the next day, I realized that she had many more welts - I counted more than 50. So, I immediately hopped on the bus with Jade as well as one of the kittens in my purse and went to see my vet, Dr. Gaby. I got alot of strange looks as large dogs are not a regular fixture on the local buses here nor meowing sounds coming out of one's purse. I decided to bring one of the kittens in just in case it was related somehow. Well, it turns out those welts were not ant bites but a fungus called Hongos. This is basically a mushroom type of fungus that was transmitted from the kittens to Jade. Jackson did not get any (yet) as he basically ignores the cats and does not interact with them. Jade, on the other hand, plays with them constantly and has taken a liking to eating out of their litter box. I know, very disgusting..... Also, it appears the cats have parasites which have likely been transferred to the dogs (and maybe me also). I ended up coming home with parasite meds for the dogs and cats along with medication and shampoo for the Jade and the cats to get rid of the fungus. I had to bath and shampoo all 6 of them with this special shampoo and have to do it 2 more times this week. Bathing the cats was quite the ordeal and the scratches on my arms and hands are evidence of that struggle.

Here are the "little darlings" after their bath while they are drying in the sun. In retrospect, a "before" photo would have been good while they were wet but I think the trauma for all of us resulted in a missed photo opp. And after feeding them a can of tuna, it appears that they have forgiven me.....

As for the abandoned kittens, they are ALL still here at the house. I have not found them homes as of yet. I am feeling a little overwhelmed....what if I cannot find homes for them? I certainly could not put them back on the street.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

And then there were six....

animals, that is. I currently have 6 animals in my house. It is a good thing I have no furniture yet - my house is becoming an animal shelter! My friend Sandra found 4 baby kittens abandoned in a puddle in front of her house on the day the hurricane passed through. She took them in to look after them until she could find a home for them. A week later, she had to go to Mexico City for work so she asked me to take them until a home can be found.

They like to play and sleep on my suitcases!

I was a little concerned at first as Jackson is terrible around cats. He basically goes into hunting mode and terrorizes the poor things. The first few days were definitely a challenge but since then, both Jackson and Jade have come to accept them. Jackson is now indifferent and aloof as he was with Jade in the beginning. Jade, on the other hand, is very curious and tries to play with them. Unfortunately, she is like a bull in a china shop and does not realize that her paws are almost bigger than the cats are! The cats were terrified of the dogs the first few days but since then have become very comfortable and love to play with Jade and her tail.

Hmmmmmm, what is this tiny thing?

Mom, can we keep him?

It has been a week so far but still no homes have been found. We have posted their photos on the animal adoption website here in Manzanillo along with a few other websites. For all my Manzanillo readers, please tell all your contacts so we can find these precious kitties a home. They are still pretty tiny but are growing like weeds. They still fit in the palm of your hand. They are fully potty trained and are full of energy.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

What an experience!

First of all, thanks to everyone for their well wishes and patience with my lack of communication over the last little while. The move, getting things fixed in the house, buying furniture, contractors, etc has been far more work than I every anticipated. Then being bed-ridden for several days did not help matters. I have discovered that getting simple jobs done always seem to take much longer than planned. My "to d"o list seems to get longer every day, not shorter! I have come to realize that if I knock off 2-3 things off my list, it has been a VERY successful day. I have learned alot through this experience and come to realize that if you sweat the small stuff, you will drive yourself crazy in no time.

In the midst of all this, I have also been working on my FM-3 visa. This visa will allow me to stay in the country past the 6 month period you are given as a tourist. Getting an FM-3 is not a complex or difficult process, it just seems that the simple jobs seem to turn into days of work. One of the requirements for an FM-3 visa is that you need to submit a utility bill at your current address in your name. This is not difficult stuff however, since I just moved, I do not have a utility bill in my name. As a result, I have to get a letter from the owner of the house along with a copy of his identification. Unfortunately, the owner lives in the US and has proved to be a little difficult to get a hold of.

Good news-I just got my telephone line and internet line installed a few days ago! What a good feeling to have internet again - I was feeling pretty out of touch and disconnected from my friends and family back home. From all the stories I had heard about getting a phone line installed, I figured it would be some time before this got completed. What a pleasant surprise!

Bad news - my friend Victor was here and had his truck parked in front of my house. When he went out to leave, he discovered that someone had crashed into his car and left the scene of the crime. He cannot even open his car door. I live directly across the street from a little convenience store so we went over there to ask if anyone saw or heard anything. Apparently, no one saw or heard a thing........Hmmmmmm

A few days after I moved in to the new house, I was leaving to take the dogs for a walk with Victor. As I was locking my front gate, two women came up and told me they were with the government and were performing a census. They had government ID and Victor told me they were with a branch of the government (cannot remember the name). They asked if they could ask me the census questions before I left on my walk and I said yes, no problem, thinking it would take under a minute and then we could be on our way. To my surprise, she pulled out a large booklet and 30 minutes later, we were finally done! Well, here is an excerpt of the many questions I was asked.........and YES, this is a true story.

1. How many people live here?
2. What is your marital status and age?
3. How many bedrooms do you have?
4. Do you sleep in your bedroom? - I had to clarify this question because I thought I misunderstood it.
5. Does anyone sleep in your kitchen? - again, I said that I think I heard wrong or did not understand and could they repeat the question.
6. What is your marital status? Again, I replied single. 30 something, single and living alone is pretty rare in this country. I was asked this question 3 times in total, I think
7. Have you ever been pregnant?
8. Do you want children?
9. If so, when would you like to have them? They also wanted specifics, in one year, two years, etc.
10. Have you ever had an abortion?
11. Are you sexually active and if so, do you use birth control? If so, what types do you use?
12. What age were you when you first had sexual relations? Did you use birth control? If so, what types did you use?
13. What is your religion?

Throughout this entire process, I kept saying in Spanish that I thought I misunderstood the question and could they repeat it. Victor kept reassuring me that I had heard correctly. When we finally finished the questionnaire, I was completely dumbfounded and speechless. Victor and I looked at each other and could do nothing but laugh. I asked him if he was sure that was a census questionnaire and not something else. He assured me that it was a census and I had understood everything correctly. He certainly got to learn a whole lot of personal information about me! I explained to him that the census in Canada is much different - basically 2 questions.

Has anyone else here in Manzanillo completed the census? I am curious to know your experience?