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?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Hongos - part 2

If you recall from a previous post, I mentioned all the animals ended up with hongos - aka ringworm (it is a common fungal infection especially in hot and humid climates). Apparently, the cats transmitted this to the dogs - Jade was covered in them and Jackson ended up with only 2 spots. Well, I guess it should not come as a surprise that I ended up with them also! Grrrr....I discovered this spot on my body last week that was perfectly round and looks like someone put out a cigar on my arm. My friend took one look at it and told me I had "hongos". She knew this because she recently contracted them from some puppies she adopted off the street. I later confirmed this with a doctor. So, I have about 10 spots all over my body and am currently undergoing treatment. Ha - just have to use topical medicine but the itching is driving me crazy. Living in a zoo with 6 animals has it's consequences! For those of you unfamiliar with ringworm, don't worry, there are no actual worms involved. The name comes from the fact that, originally, people believed that the infection came from a worm. Although it was later concluded that it did not, the name has stuck.

As for the cats, I still have all 4 of them. A few people have expressed interest but still have not done anything about it - even with my constant pestering. I really hope they will be adopted soon as they are very mischevious and love to climb on things and knock things over (like my friend's TV and my modem).

On a more positive note, my new furniture arrives on Saturday from Colima! I am very excited and will take photos.

Oh, and guess what I found in my backyard yesterday.....a TARANTULA. It was big and scary and you will just have to take my word for it as I was not sticking around to take a photo!