Friday, November 29, 2013

The Biggest News Since......

I'm in love.  There's no denying it.  I didn't see it coming.  But she was blonde and beautiful.  When she walked through the door I knew I was in trouble.  It may have been her eyes that got me at first but in the end it was her personality.  I'm hooked. 

She follows me around like a puppy and I am pretty sure she adores me.  I know for sure that she looks up to me because she stands only 8" tall.

Eva is the biggest news to hit the Ranger household since the new dishwasher.  I mean really big news.

She's taking her first nap on the red couch as I write.  She couldn't sleep on the marble floors because her fur is an exact color match and we might lose her.

Terri went off to volunteer this morning at Amigos de los Animales which is the Humane Society of Mazatlan.  The result is we have a puppy sleeping on our couch this afternoon.

Eva napping in luxury.
Isn't she cute?
Her first bath ever.....I'm pretty sure.... gotta clean those ears.
All cleaned up and getting dried off.
Already glued to Terri's side.
No doubt you'll be seeing more pictures of Eva in the future.  I am sure that you'll be dying to see daily updates on our "wonderdog".  I know that you'll be anxiously awaiting tomorrow's pictures.

It will be worth the wait.

Monday, November 25, 2013

It's Time to Wash Dishes

The big news around our house today is the arrival of our new dishwasher.  For the last five years that we have owned the condo we have not felt a need to install a dishwasher.  Only coming down for three weeks at a time didn't seem to justify the expense.  But now that this is our primary home it was time to make that move.

Dishwashers are not that common down here.  As a matter of fact the Home Depot only carried one model and it did not fit our space under the kitchen counter.  The average price for a dishwasher is over $1,000.00 which is caused by the tariffs charged on imported products.

Fortunately our kitchen was built to have a dishwasher installed.  The wiring, water and drain pipe are already there.  We just needed to find a dishwasher to fit.

Last weekend was Mexico's "Black Friday Sale".  We went to the new Liverpool (like Macy's in the USA) store that just opened in our neighborhood and they had what we needed.  And it was on sale.  There were two discounts offered and when it was all added up including tax and delivery it was $508.52.  What a deal!!!

Our shiny new stainless steel Electrolux dishwasher.   OOOOOOW.
We will have a friend of Manuel's do the installation.  Manuel is our condo maintenance man.  He is the one doing our painting and as all good Mexicans say, "I have a friend that can do that for you".  And in five years he has come through every time.

It has been our experience that the prices we are charged are always fair and sometimes to cheap to believe.  Also if they say they will have it done by a certain time or date their word is good.  (This does not apply to Megacable, but all cable companies everywhere are known for poor service.)

I haven't said much about the new mall that is now open in the Marina development.  When we left last year they were just beginning the building.  This year the anchor store, Liverpool, was open when we came back.  Two weeks ago 57 of the 127 stores in the mall opened.

Our new two story mall "Galleries" just opened.  The multi story silver building on the right is a new university, "Tec Melono" which opened two years ago. The striped building on the right side of the mall is Liverpool, just like Macy's.
We can see the mall from the back side of our condo looking to the Northeast.

This was our first day with no guests in town so we kicked back and were lazy all day.  We did get a nice walk in this morning and we will go feed the Marina cats this evening.

Another nice sunset here in paradise.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Party's Over

It's Sunday morning and all the family and friends are leaving town. Jamie and Dave, Sara and Carol, Walt and Cathy, and Joanne are all headed back to Washington state.  I don't understand.  I checked the weather report this morning and Gig Harbor was 34 degrees with a high of 48.  Mazatlan is 74 this morning with a high of 80 today.  Why would they leave?

Dinner with family and friends.
To celebrate their last night in Mazatlan we went to a concert in the old theater in Centro.  We had all seen Hector Ortiz last year and he was back in Mazatlan this weekend.  The concert was all BeeGee's music and included the symphony orchestra.  It was a great show and we all enjoyed the concert.

A great show in a great theater.  The BeeGee's were "staying alive" in Mazatlan
Three balconies in a horseshoe shape. A beautifully restored late 1800's theater.
After the show we wandered around the square, enjoying more music and the girls did some last minute shopping. 

We are going to miss having everyone in town but we can only eat and party so much before it is time to get back to normal life.

Normal life will include having the condo all repainted.  Thursday, Manuel and a friend of his began the painting by doing all the ceilings.  Now you might ask why I am not painting myself?  The answer is that I can have all 1200 square feet painted for $340.00.  When I can have all that work done for that kind of price I just can't get my butt out of my easy chair to paint.

I am not lazy, I am just supporting the local Mexican economy.  Very kind of me, Huh?

I'm hard at work supervising.  I'm best at that.
Sara, Carol and Dave eating dinner.
We had our final dinner together before the concert.  We have managed to eat our way through several dozen restaurants in the last two weeks.

Brother Dave, Sister Sara and me.

Our taxi ride in the back of the red Nissan truck provided the perfect end to the day.  Adventure, loud music, flashing police lights, tourist watching and night lights, all for 120 pesos (under $10.00 US).

The girls in the back of the pick-up.  A classy ride home.
And of course a final sunset picture.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Shrimp, Shrimp and More Shrimp

It has been a great family week here in Mazatlan.  It's been a lot of eating and talking and sun and pool time and a little drinking.  Terri's niece and nephew have gone home and my sister Sara and her friend Carol have arrived.

13 family and friends having dinner.
Shrimp and lobster are caught right out in front of us in the Sea of Cortez.  Therefore we have been eating fresh shrimp on a regular basis.  I am sure I have put on a few pounds in the last three weeks of eating to much.  But I don't know because we don't have a scale here yet, maybe I can remain in denial forever if we don't get a scale.  I think that's my plan.... no scale, no weight gain.

Yesterday Dave, Tom and I drove down to Centro (Old Town) and went to the "Shrimp Ladies".  There are a couple dozen shrimp vendors that line one side of the block.  We double parked right in front of them (a very Mexican thing to do) and purchased our shrimp.

We bought 3 kilo of fresh salt water shrimp.  That's 6.6 pounds of shrimp for the 11 people coming to dinner at our home last night.  We had a shrimp feast last night that included grilled shrimp and "Shrimp Boil" which is Jamie's specialty.  With all the trimmings to go with the shrimp everyone was "Fat & Sassy" by the time we were done.  But that didn't stop any of us from eating desert.

Our after dinner desert.  Chocolate chocolate  cake from Panamas Bakery.
The party broke-up around 10:30 and I drove Sara and Carol back to their hotel.  The buses had stopped running so I have no idea how the rest of the crowd got home, but I would guess they found a red pick-up truck to get a ride in.  That is not abnormal, we all ride around in the back of red Nissan pick-ups.  No need for seat belts here,  just hold on tight.

Sara's friend Carol had never been to Centro and the Market so Sara and I took her on the walking tour.  We wandered through the Market and I purchased 10 homemade tamales from an old lady vendor.  We checked out one of the many fabric stores and both ladies purchased materials. Sara purchased 2 meters of a cotton fabric for 18 pesos ($1.50 US).  Carol purchased a meter of upholstery material for 29 pesos ($2.30).  In the states it would cost 3 or 4 times that much at the least.

We went to a couple galleries that were in the residences of the artists. We finished our three hour walk with smoothies in the oldest part of Mazatlan, Olas Altas.  While waiting for the bus home we watched the surfers and boggie boarders in the surf.  We just about missed the bus and had to make a last second dash across the street to catch the bus.  FYI, Mexican drivers do NOT slow down or stop for pedestrians. A cross walk really means nothing, you are on your own to watch out and make a dash between cars or taxi's.

What are they?
O.K. Trin what are they and how would you eat these?  These were at the market so they must be eatable.  Just one of the many mysteries we see in the market.

And I will leave you with the view from our deck last night.  Another quiet sunset in Mazatlan.
Last nights sunset over the Sea of Cortez.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Megacable Arrives a Little Late

We are the proud new recipients of the good graces of Megacable.  This evening at 6:07 the cable man showed up for his morning appointment.  We were on day 14 of our patient wait to get our cable TV, internet and home phone. 

We now have high speed internet/wifi in the condo which means I don't have to lean over the railing on the deck to check my email.  Being on the sixth floor is good for sunsets but not so good for our shared internet in the condo.

Terri did a city tour with her niece and nephew today.  She enjoyed her time with them and learned some new things about Mazatlan from the tour guide. 

After the cable guy finished we went out for wood fired pizza.  It's nice to be able to sit outside at 8:00 in the evening and eat dinner.  I am becoming more accustomed to late dinners, the Mexicans don't even think about dinner until after 8:00, maybe I am becoming Mexican after all.

Tomorrow begins a long holiday weekend here.  Lots of locals begin their holiday shopping this weekend.  It's like "Black Friday" in America, but it goes for three or four days here.  Maybe I'll go to the mall. Or maybe not.

So much for today.

Nopales for my daughter Trinity. I had some with my dinner the other evening.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Baseball, Beaches, Bad Drivers and BBQ Ribs

We are in full swing "FFT" family fun time.  The party has begun.  We went to the baseball game last night.  We had fourteen family members and friends watching Mexican Winter League Baseball.  It was a great time and our Venados won 7-1.  It was Wednesday night and the usual crazy crowd must not show up at midweek games.  It was much quieter than normal.  The mascot (a Dear) was even a little less crazy than normal.

Terri's nephew and niece, Cory and Jennette, arrived and we have been getting them introduced to Mazatlan.  That has involved a lot of eating.  We started by taking them to our favorite ribs place.  Cory had two lobsters and a full rack of ribs, I was impressed when he ate it all. Last night it was tacos at  Diagos, which is  a beach  restaurant right on the sand.  We watched a nice sunset and enjoyed our dinner before hopping in an open air taxi to go to the ball game.

Barefoot in the sand on the beach at Cerritos.
The ocean water is more like bath tub temperature than cool.  It is easy to walk right in. 

Jeanette is surprised at the amount of unoccupied white sand beach there is.  It is November but there just aren't that many tourists down here yet.  The first cruise ship in three years was in the other day and it was still quiet around town.

I am happy to report that I have adapted to the Mexican style of driving.  I go to fast, I change lanes to often and I have learned to beep my horn.  I am so proud.  So far I haven't even come close to getting a ticket because I am still the slowest car on the road.  I will have to strive to become a crazy driver.

My sister Sara arrives on Sunday.  She started us all on this Mexican adventure ten years ago.  She told my brother and I it was time to start vacationing together.  Mazatlan was our first big "Family Vacation".  We liked it enough that we have been coming back every year and the group has grown larger each year.  There's something about sun, good food and family that makes it easy to spend time here on a winters day.

The invitation still stands, we have an extra bedroom waiting for you in Mazatlan.  I will guarantee sunny weather if you come.

There is a place by the pool waiting for you.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Mud & Football & Glass Women

My newest lady.
I'll start with the newest addition to my glass collection.  I think she looks good for a dead lady.  Although the condo is full of glass stuff there is always room for one more piece.  I'm just doing my part to  help the Mexican economy and I love the artwork available here.

Sunday was spent watching Seahawks football at the local sports bar on the Marina.  They had all 21 TV's tuned into the Seahawks game.  I got tired of sitting in a regular restaurant chair and went looking for something more comfortable.  This is what I found.

I was the envy of about 40 Seahawk fans as I rocked and watched a great game.  The main feature of this sports bar is cheap beer.  Draft beer is 7 pesos a mug.  That translates to 55 cent beer.  It's cheaper than water or soda.  They have a sign on their front door that says, "Husband Daycare Center".

The food was good and the 8 of us had a nice afternoon yelling at the TV sets.  I'm sure the Mexicans think we are crazy because you should only scream and yell for real football (soccer).

We walked back home for what we thought would be a quiet afternoon.  It didn't go that way. 

I heard the revving of truck engines and went to the East side of our condo to see what was happening.  It was monster truck competition time in the wetlands across the road.  About a dozen 4x4 trucks and Jeeps had assembled for an afternoon competition to see who could cross the wetlands without burying their truck.  We brought out two chairs and our cold drinks.  We were ready for a afternoon of free entertainment.

How deep can you bury your truck?
Approaching dusk and still burying trucks.
As dusk approached more 4x4's arrived and eventually they had 6 trucks buried deep in the mud.  The scramble to tow and pull the unfortunate losers out of the mud began.  As the sun went down and it became pitch black they still had 4 trucks buried. When we got ready for bed they still had two stuck and we thought they would just leave them for morning.  I guess not, they were gone this morning when I looked out at 6:00.

What I learned from watching this spectacle was that Jeeps are way better in mud than big tired/jacked up monster trucks.  We watched a monster truck bury himself 4' deep in the mud.

We enjoyed our sixth floor view looking down on the action.  We will see if it repeats next Sunday.

The weather forecast is for sun, sun and more sun.  More friends are arriving today and tomorrow: Roy, Tom & Diane, Joanne, Walt & Cathy.  Terri's nephew and his wife, Cory & Jeanette will be staying with us starting Tuesday.

Let the party begin.

Friday, November 8, 2013

What's New in Mazatlan

What's new in Mazatlan?  Not a lot.  We have had a restful first week here in our home away from our RV.  We have been real LAZY.

Another boring sunset here in Marina Mazatlan.
The weather has been the big story in our first week.  Tropical Depression 18E turned into Tropical Storm "Sonia" on Sunday afternoon.  It was our first experience with a fullout storm here. We had lots of wind and a whole bunch of rain.  But it was warm rain at least.  The storm blew right through and by the next day it was back to sunny and in the 80"s.  That's the way to have a storm.

Cable companies here in Mexico have learned a lesson in poor customer service from the USA. We were supposed to be hooked up on Monday, than Tuesday, than Wednesday or Thursday.  Today is Friday so  it was time too go visit Megacable.  I have been assured they will do the installation of our TV and internet tomorrow or Monday.  We'll see. 

I have to remember that Comcast took over 6 weeks of promises when we built the Raft Island home.  I finally had to give up on them and go to Dish.  So in perspective, Megacable has 5 more weeks to match Comcast.  The race is on.

And the sunset winds down to darkness around 6:30.
And if you don't like sunsets we'll try a sunrise from the East side of our condo.
Dave and Jamie arrive to spend a night at our home.  They are taking an all day bus ride from Porte Vallarta and will arrive at 8:00.  Tomorrow they are moving to their hotel for the next few weeks.  Friends and family will be arriving all week and we look forward to a fun filled November with all the visitors.

Is my sister a grandmother yet?  We should hear tomorrow.  Otto is due to arrive tonight or tomorrow. If he arrives on the 9th he will be the third generation in a row to share that birth date: Sara, Marg and Otto.

I'll show you my new "Day of the Dead" lady in the next blog.  See you then.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Day of the Dead

Yesterday, November 1st was "All Souls Day" and November 2 is "Day of the Dead".  These are the traditional days that the Mexicans celebrate and remember their deceased family members.  Each place we went last night had a display honoring the family members that have passed.

My favorite display was at the ice cream store.  Even the dead like ice cream.  That will definitely be the case when I am dead and gone.

I'd die for an ice cream cone.
That's me in the mirror.  I am not a dead relative.  Really.
We enjoyed the Artwalk as usual. We saw a few new studios, which really means we got to wander through a few homes in the Centro area of town.  It was great to be in nicely restored century old buildings.

We had dinner sitting on the sidewalk outside of Macaws which is a bed and breakfast inn in Olas Altas (the oldest part of town).  Good music and good food at twilight.  Also good people watching during dinner and on the bus ride home. 

Mazatlan seems to have upgraded it's bus system since we were here last.  We'll see if that means that the 45 cent buses have lost some of their unique character.  As usual we had a crazy bus driver that thought that he was a racecar driver.  It was pretty scary racing through the streets in the dark.  I held on tight and gritted my teeth.  I was glad to get off the bus alive.  Just another adventure in life.

I'll leave you with the smiling face of a beautiful Mazatlan women.  Not bad for a dead person.

Friday, November 1, 2013

I'll Have Real Sugar with My Coke

You know you have arrived in Mexico when your Coke is real.... that would be real sugar.  I'm not sure that I could tell the difference but the ice cold glass bottle is the best part.  We had to dig down through the ice to get the bottle out of the cooler.  The world is complete and all is well with a bottle of ice cold Coke in your hand.

It was a long drive to Mazatlan but Terri drove it all like a native.  That would be foot to the floor fast, pass on either side, honk your horn and maybe on occasion using your turn signal.  She did well.

It is unseasonably warm at 90 degrees and a bunch of humidity.  Terri loves it and I am learning to adapt.  Two showers a day minimum.  We got up early to get our walk in this morning while it was cool, if you consider the high 70's to be cool.

Here are a couple of photos of the sunrise this morning from the East side of our condo.

Just before sunrise facing East.
Looking West at about 6:00 in the morning.
Last night we went down to the pool and dangled our feet in the water.  I thought it might be cool but the water is sort of close  to the outside temperature.  We should have worn our swimsuits.  Maybe this evening we'll go down for a dip.

We're off to the "Artwalk" this evening.  There are 27 studios around town that are open to wander thru.  We've done it several times through the years.  The best part is seeing the old homes where the studios are located.  They are all well over 100 years old.

We may even eat Mexican food tonight.  Maybe a Torta or Tacos.  It's all an adventure so we'll see what happens.