Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Weird and Wonderful Christmas

It's Christmas morning and as I look outside there is no snow.  Instead there is a warm breeze, blue skies and sunshine.  Weird.  It doesn't matter that I knew it would be this way, I just have a hard time getting the brain around this idea.  Sunshine and Christmas.

Being Christmas morning and finding ourselves without the family around we did the only logical thing.  We drove to the Humane Society and walked dogs.  The dogs didn't know it was Christmas but they love to get out of their kennels and to go for a walk.  16 dog walks and we were ready to take our puppy for her walk.

Eva, Terri and I drove North to Cerritos to watch the surfers and walk the beach.  It was Eva's first visit to the Pacific.  She had a great time running and picking up shells.  She didn't like getting her feet wet when the waves rolled in.

A long walk South followed by a long walk North.

These are my feet and the rest of me enjoying the pool on Christmas day.  Again, weird, but very nice.

We had a wonderful Christmas dinner with our Canadian friends, Russ and Karen.  They put on the whole turkey dinner with all the fixings.  It was great food and nice to be with new friends for Christmas.

We have firmed up our Spring RV plans.  We will be leaving Mazatlan around March 14th to head back to Tucson to get the RV out of storage.  We have reservations in Phoenix for some Spring Major League Baseball.  Terri's family will be meeting us there and we plan to see some Seattle and San Diego games.

My final words of wisdom:

And as Santa would say, "Cheers".  Not Ho Ho Ho.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Christmas Tale

Before I begin telling our storybook tale this morning I want to stress that it is a "Tale" and any similarities between this story and real life are simply coincidence.  Any connection between this author, his brother and our baby sister are merely happenstance.  This is just a seasonal story that I hoped you might enjoy.

Our story begins with two young brothers. The brothers were almost twins, being born 11 months apart.  They were a wild pair and their dear mother had her hands full with these two boys.  They spent their hours together causing mayhem and mischief on a daily basis.

After a few years a young daughter was born into the family.  As you might expect she was the "Princess" of the family.  She was a good and sweet child unlike her two mischievous siblings.  As she got nicer and nicer the brother honed their cantankerous skills.

This being a Christmas Tale I will move on to the families holiday story.  It began the first time the Princess saw Santa.  She cried like a baby. That may be because she was a baby.  Each year followed the same pattern, she saw Santa, she cried.

Now you might hope that her brothers would show some compassion and concern for their tiny sister.  That was not the case.  Instead these evil brothers would taunt their sister by giving a Santa type wave and uttering the awful words, "Ho Ho Ho".  At which point the fearful young Princess would break down in tears.  The evil brothers would laugh and think themselves quite clever.

This torture of their tiny sister continued until one day they were caught in the act and punished by their mother.  It was clear that this treatment of their innocent sister must stop.

Now the two evil brothers understood that verbally uttering "Ho Ho Ho" was off limits.  But being the clever young fellows they were the tactics just changed.

Now the brothers would position themselves at a long distance across a room.  As soon a she would look their way they would do the Santa wave and their lips would silently mouth those terrible words, "__ __ __".  The young princess would burst into tears.

Her mother wondered why her daughter was crying but there was no explanation.

And until this very day, over 50 years past, these same two evil brothers will taunt their Princess sister in the same fashion.  They may find themselves at a family gathering or a seasonal occasion and the brothers just can't help themselves.  Their hands still wave that Santa wave and their lips still silently mouth those evil words, "___ ___ ___".

Nowdays the younger sister just shakes her head at her two immature brothers and knowingly smiles.

And as our story ends these two evil brothers and their Princess sister still love each other.

The End

Merry Chistmas Eva

That's our home in the center of the picture.  The only decorations we had brought with us was 6 strings of red lights.  Our deck railing and my tree made of red lights lit the whole deck in a red glow.

As we sit here on Christmas eve morning we have commented several times it doesn't feel like Christmas.  We don't know what a cool crisp morning feels like anymore.  The chance of frost or snow is nil.  Blue skies and sunshine just doesn't feel right at all.  It will be a "strange" Christmas indeed.

To get into the Christmas spirit we went to the "Gala Navidad" concert at the theater the other night. The symphony and a large choir preformed the carols mostly in English.  It was a well done show.

We will be having Christmas dinner with our Canadian friends, Russ and Karen, tomorrow.  She will be preparing a full Christmas dinner with turkey and all the other good things.

We will be missing Christmas with our family for the first time in our lives.  We are already feeling that effect over the last few days.  We knew when we choose our nomadic lifestyle that it would be times like this that would be the hardest. 

As we weight the price of being away from home and loved ones, we have to remind ourselves of all the amazing adventures we have experienced in the last six months.  And we think of our good times ahead to keep it all in perspective.

So after my nostalgic ramblings it's time to tell family and friends how much we love them.  To our Grandkids, we miss and love you most.  To our kids and their spouses we miss you a lot.  To our extended family and friends we love and miss you also (but not as much as the Grandkids).

Our wish for everyone is happiness.  Merry Christmas to all.

Russ & Terri

Eva wishes you a
Merry Christmas and a
Merry Christmas Eva.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Deck the Mexican Halls

We only brought a few Christmas lights with us to Mazatlan. We had no decorations. So as we have wandered around our new city, I have been on the lookout for uniquely Mexican Christmas items to bring holiday cheer to our sunny home.

I found woven Palm leaf ornaments and combined them with ribbon from the fabric store in Centro to make our front door Christmas greeting.

Amazingly they do import "fresh" evergreen trees from the states.  The Mexicans love them and are willing to pay a steep price to have that great smell in their homes.  We could not bring ourselves to buy a tree that had been cut back in the beginning of November.  Here is our answer to a tree.

A small herb plant trimmed as an evergreen tree.  A few sparkly decorations and we were good to go.  Next year I am going to get a palm tree to deck out.  That seems a better way to adapt to our new location.

A Poinsettia is more natural here than at home in the Northwest.
Terri found the perfect fabric to wrap the tree and Poinsettia plant at one of the amazing fabric stores in Centro.  For anyone that sews and loves fabric a Mexican fabric store is like going to heaven.

We have our straw piƱata hung over our dining room table.  My glass bowl is full of red Christmas ornaments.  Once again the fabric store had great material for the table runner.

The woven palm leaves in red and natural colors made a strange topper for one of our lamps.  Sometimes you have to go on a whim, this time it was Terri's idea.

Strange is OK.

Sparkly little trees.
What do you do when you don't have a yard to decorate?  In my next blog I will show you what I did with the lights we brought down with us.

And for my sister..... Ho Ho Ho.  More on that story to come later.

We have had to suffer through a cold spell the last few days.  We actually had rain yesterday, albeit warm rain.  It was down to 72 on our deck this morning.  Last night I told Terri that I was cold so I went outside to check the temperature, it was 76, so I put on my pajama pants so I wouldn't continue to suffer from frostbite.  I may be becoming a Mexican after all.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Row, Row, Row Your Boat

The weather was cool this morning (70-74) so I decided to go explore our harbor in my kayak.  Terri helped me inflate and bring the kayak down to the harbor.  Than she was off to her morning massage.  The water was glass smooth with just a slight breeze, perfect for rowing.

I headed out the channel going to the Pacific but stopped just before the breaking waves at the entrance to the harbor.  I rowed around the El Cid Marina which is right at the mouth of the canal. 

The nice thing about rowing quietly in no hurry was that I talked to a dozen boaters along todays route.

A view back into our end of the Marina.
A portion of my 2.5 hour paddle today was through undeveloped areas of the Marina Mazatlan.  There are miles and miles of undeveloped shoreline that looks a little like jungle from the water level.

I rowed about a half mile up a narrow channel that has a small marina at the end.  Along the way I saw lots of jumping fish, herons of various breeds and a 3 foot long lizard sunning himself in a tree.

There were dozens of pelicans either fishing or sleeping.  I could row right up to them and they didn't seem to care.

Here is a long distant shot down a channel as I headed home.  The condo in the distance is where we live.

Home in the distance.
In the end I had circled the round island right in front of our condo.  I still have miles and miles of channels and canals to explore.  To the north of us the marina runs through a new 27 hole golf course.  To the south are miles of golf courses and homes.  I have a lot of exploring still to do.

Here are some views of our place from the marina out front of Portofino.

Gus Gus Restaurant along the boardwalk in front of our condo, Portofino.
When I got back Eva was sitting out on the deck watching me clean the kayak.  I used the outdoor shower beside our pool to wash the saltwater off before deflating and rolling it up.

Eva supervising from the sixth floor.

Supervision is tiring for a puppy.  It is always best to take a nap following strenuous supervision.  Or I have personally found that a nap is good following almost any kind of work.  Or maybe even the thought of working.

Have I mentioned that I like retirement.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Evil Eva.....But She's So Cute

How mischievous can an 8 week old puppy be?  We are finding out that if it becomes very quiet for a few moments that it is time to go looking to see what she has been up to.  Usually it will involve a surprise.  All we can say is, "Isn't she cute."

Mmm...mmm...mmm, I like toilet paper.
I can say our puppy has high standards.  She didn't just chew up any toilet paper.  No, she waited until there was a new roll of highly prized and rare "American" toilet paper before she attacked.  And it was a full out attack, total destruction. 

She was very happy with her work.

She did not understand how rare "American" toilet is down here.  If she had just understood, I'm sure she would have waited for a roll of "Mexican" toilet paper to appear before she attacked.  She just didn't understand. 

But I forgive her, at least until we run out of our precious commodity.

Eva is all tired out after a hard morning's work.  It's a dog's life.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

So What's for Dinner?

One of our goals for December has been to discover new Mexican restaurants that are not in the tourist areas.  For the last 10 years of being weekly vacation visitors to Mazatlan 95% of our dining out has been in the tourists parts of town.

It was time to move back into the interior areas and dine with the locals.

I'll tell you about two new dinning adventures we have taken this last week. 

The first dinner was not planned but we found ourselves hungry and we weren't near home so we rolled the dice and dropped into an open air taco restaurant.  It was nice and clean and brightly lit up in the dark evening.

Terri ordered open faced pollo (chicken) tacos and I ordered arrrachera (steak) torta (sandwich) the highest priced item on the menu.  When the plates arrived Terri had three loaded tacos ready to be covered in the condiments they brought.  We tested the heat level of each condiment before applying an unknown fire to our meals.  They all passed our tests but I choose to go with a little less burn than Terri.

I forgot to take a picture until we were half done.
Our dinners were delicious and we will go back again sometime to try other items on the menu.  Dinner for 2 including 2 glass bottles of ice cold Coke came to 101 pesos.  Now for your math lesson, 13.125 pesos to the dollar exchange rate.  That's about 76 cents per 10 pesos.  Which brings us to a total of about $7.70 US for the both of us for a good dinner.

Now having gone expensive on our last dining experience we stopped into an even smaller restaurant for our next adventure.  We found ourselves in Centro (old downtown) when it was time to eat after an afternoon of Christmas decoration shopping.

This time our dining room also included the two cook stoves and kitchen sink all in one room.  The whole restaurant was much smaller than my mothers kitchen and dining room.  We don't often think of a restaurant as having the kitchen and dining area all in the same room.  But for the first 2 decades of my life that was how dinner was served at our house.  I guess I just need to adjust my thinking on how a restaurant should be set-up.

Terri ordered three pollo tacos and I was excited to find sopas on the menu so I ordered three of my favorites.  Now after the nice waitress took our orders she put on her apron and became the chief cook.  While another lady prepared all the veggie portions of the meal the chef began frying the tortillas/sopas and cooking the meat portions of the meal.

The great part of all this is that we could watch the whole process.  I guess if we were dining in a high-end restaurant in the states we might be seated at a bar watching the chef work.  It seemed a little different to be doing it in Mexico, but when in Mexico do as the Mexicans do.

After the chef was done cooking she walked 10 feet from the stove to deliver our two very good meals.

This time the cost of our two meals and two Cokes was 90 pesos. Now for you math geniuses that was $6.85 for the two of us happy diners.

Life is good in Mazatlan.  We will have a hard time spending our "Old Age Pension Checks" this month. 

Santa's Coming, But First.....

We all know Santa has an easy gig.  He only has to work one day each year.  The elves have it rough, they must bustle around getting all those toys ready for 364 days.  And then Santa gets all the glory on December 25th.  It's just not fair.

You might ask your self what Santa is doing those other 364 days before his "Big Day".  Is he busy around the North Pole?  Is he overeating to maintain his rotund physique?  Does he spend his idle hours grooming his full white beard?  Is he busy snatching the cookies the elves have just baked?

What is the old duffer doing to pass his time?

As always this blog is on the lookout to find and report the cutting edge news from around the world.  And today I am about to break the biggest story so far.  The news is not intended for younger children because of it's disturbing and graphic nature.  If there are children reading this blog over your shoulder, please ask them to leave the room immediately.

I now have photographic proof and have personally talked with Santa to obtain a truthful and accurate accounting of where and how the mystery man spends his off hours.  To say the least, I am shocked.

A picture is worth a thousand words......

A true and unedited photo of "The Man"
I know my credibility and honesty have come into question following the unfortunate "Mowhawk-gate" incident, but you may rest assured that I did NOT photoshop the Pacifico bottle into Santa's hand.  This is the bold and plain truth.

Santa spends his off hours drinking Pacifico and enjoying the fine sunsets in Mazatlan.  He told me so himself.  It's the truth.

Your author and truth seeker standing next to Santa yesterday. I'm the rotund fellow on the left.
To prove that I had not gone out on the web and snatched a random photo I thought that a personal picture of Santa and myself would be further proof that this is NOT a hoax.

Santa is just another expat enjoying his down time in Paradise.  Why wouldn't he?

There are 24 days in December before Santa's "Big Day" and there are 24 bottles of Pacifico in a case.  A coincidence.  I think not.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

They Share So Well

Yesterday we babysat the next door neighbor boy, Jossia who is 9 months old.  He brought along a stuffed ball to play with.  It didn't take long for Eva to run off with his ball.  So what's a kid to do when they have been ripped off by a 7 week old puppy?  Only one option.  Retaliate.

I'll show her who's boss!
I guess he knew exactly what to do.  "If she can steal my ball, I can have her bone".  All's fair in love and war.  And being a true man he ended up with all the toys.  Score.

The winner of the toy wars.  Eva walks off the loser.
Now I've never let the full truth get in the way of a good story so here is full discloser.  Terri washed the dog bone before Jossia got it.  Really.

Todays adventure started at 9:00am when we picked-up Sheila and drove out of Mazatlan to a public school in the colonias.  It was our first day of helping teach third graders English in a poor neighborhood.  The kids all wear uniforms to school so they all look great.  The class room of 26 kids is small but the teacher has done a good job of decorating it for the kids.

Sheila is a former grade school teacher from Gig Harbor.  She and her husband came to Mazatlan on their sailboat several years ago and she has been volunteer teaching English in this school for three years.  It turns out that her daughter went to high school with our daughter Tamra back in 1993.  Small world.

Now to my description of our morning teaching.  It was a blast.  The kids were amazing and all 26 kids were excited to have us come.  Maybe they were just looking for a break from their regular teacher.

One boy, Edwardo could speak some English and he and I hit it off right from the start.  I have a new best friend.  Maybe he can help me with my Spanish.
Edwardo.  My new buddy and helper.
Between the three of us we taught and danced and sang and had a great time.  We finished the class with them all singing "The Hoky-Poky".  It doesn't get more fun than that.

Terri's fan club.
When the final bell rang about a dozen girls rushed Terri to give her hugs. We can hardly wait till next Thursday to go back to school.

I even got hugs.
Another very, very good day in Mazatlan. 

Here's last nights sunset.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Wonderdog and the Marathon

Eva the lazy dog after a few dozen rounds of fetch.  I've finally worn her out.
Life with a puppy is good.  Life with a puppy is busy.  Life with a puppy is laughing a lot.  Life with a puppy is cleaning up piddle.  Life with a puppy is being adored.  I like our puppy.

What is it with dogs and flip flops? 
Even Mexican dogs know that they are supposed to chew on flip flops.  It must be in a dogs job description.  You'll notice that she has evil eyes when she has a flip flop in her mouth.  I was a little afraid to take it away from her, but I still have all my fingers.

Sunday morning Eve and I got up at 6:30 to watch the 42k Mazatlan Marathon go by our home.  I think she just wanted to listen to the Banda music that the band started playing at that hour.  12,500 runners this year and as usual the top three finishers were from Kenya.  There is always something going on to watch from either side of our home. 

We have six Nordhavn trawlers that just arrived in the marina in front of our place.  I have always said that the Nordhavn dealer would be very happy if I won the Lotto.  I think I would like the 72 that's sitting out front.  Not to big, just bigger than everyone else.  Now to decide which color I want.

My ship just came in.  Unfortunately I don't own it.

No more sunsets to finish my blog.  Now you get puppy pictures.

And she likes to help us read.