Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The little village of Mazamitla

Hotel near town plaza.

The church at the centre of town.

Road that goes around the outskirts of town.

Mazamitla is sitting at about 2200 metres or 7300 feet. This pretty mountain town was about a two hour drive from Ajijic through a number of small villages and beautiful mountain valleys and views of Lake Chapala through openings in the vegetation near the road. As we got closer to our destination, the vegetation changed from dry scrub land to big mountain pines similar to our Pondarosa Pine, and we could smell the difference in the air. We also saw a couple sawmills and guessed rightly that the houses and other buildings would be made, at least partly, with wood.
It was a few degrees cooler than down at the lake, but a local told us that it never gets cold here, after asking us where we were from! We did notice that down jackets and toques are for sale in the village shops! We enjoyed a lunch of cheese quesidillas, beef enchaladas, beans, cucumber salad and fresh salsa with two beer for only 70 pesos or $7. We couldn't have eaten any more!

Mazamitlan January 29

Mexican dogs get cold too! Have you ever seen anything so cute?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Cotton Ball Tree and Power Plants January 27

We went for a walk to the grocery store last night and on the way home came across this tree. We named it the cotton ball tree and I am sure that it's true name must be something close to that. There is a first time for everything!

Earlier in the day we saw some power plants. These are quite common in Mexico, growing on the power lines and of course there is no soil up there, so it seems only logical that they are living off the power going through the lines! We are not quite sure if they help or hinder the power supply.

For all of you that know me, lol!! We are having a great time in Mexico. Love it here!

Our new friend Murf.......

This is Murf, you have met him once before, shortly after we arrived in Ajijic. Jerry and I have become good friends with Murf. Each morning, when his parents let him outside from the big house, he comes over to our little casita to say good morning and see what we are having for breakfast. Then if we are around for lunch, he comes over for that too. And the same for dinner. Sometimes he comes in between too! He is learning to sit and stay (I think his parents have been too easy on him) and it might not look like it, but he really does have good table manners (he waits until we say before he jumps up on the sofa while we are eating!).

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Day trip to Guadalajara January 26

The last couple days, we have just been hanging around Ajijic while Jerry gets over his cold, he is feeling a little better, but still not 100%. He can't understand why I don't get his colds, and I just tell him it's because I have a positive attitude and don't think I will get a cold! I took some time to get my hair cut and yesterday had a massage which was very relaxing. I have also been exploring around all the little shops in Ajijic, very cute.
Today we were going to go to Tequila, but changed our minds when we got close to Guadalarja. We decided to head downtown Guadalarja, and see whats to see!

Birds for sale at the market.

Eating lunch in the plaza.

Guadalarja has about 6 million people, so it is very busy, but we managed to get downtown and find a parking spot without crashing into anyone else. Amazing, really! The drivers are really crazy here, but if you understand how they drive then it makes it easier to anticipate what their next move will be.
Once out of our vehicle, we headed over to the Cabanas Cultural Institute and the Plaza Tapatia. Close by they have a HUGE market where everything is for sale! It was really crazy with vendors and people. We didn't stay long there, but stopped to enjoy a very good lunch and do some people watching on the plaza.
Our trip home was ten times worse than the trip into Guadalarja because the traffic was that much heavier. We have experienced the Mexican squeeze! By the time we got home we just wanted to put our feet up and have a cold one!
Tomorrow we are heading a little west of Ajijic and going to the small town of Jocotepec.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Some sites around Ajijic January 22-23

Ajijic has a lot of dogs, they come in all shapes and sizes. I just couldn't resist getting a picture of this guy. We had passed him several times as we walked here and there. He watches as people and other dogs walk by, and you would never know he was up on the roof because he is very quiet. He is not the only dog up on the roof of a house (or shop), it seems to be quite common to let the dogs get up on the roof.

Chilies anyone?
After refilling our drinking water jug today, we headed over to the weekly market. All the vendors set up their stalls on a side street off the main street through Ajijic. The side street is closed for the day, and people come from all over to shop for fresh produce, clothes, crafts, etc. We got there just as some of the vendors had started packing up for the day, but next week I'll head over earlier in the morning. We bought some fresh prawns ($10 kilo) for dinner, but passed on the chilies because I am not sure how hot they are or what I would do with them. Our kitchen has the basics, but leaves a lot to be desired if I wanted to do any serious cooking.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Back to Ajijic January 21

On the road from the coast back to Ajijic, we climb from sea level to just over 5000 feet. The vegetation changes almost each time we turned a corner in the mountains. This is another flowering tree that I don't know what it is, but they were quite beautiful even though they don't have their leaves yet. I think they flower early to take advantage of all the butterflies around.

We passed lots of fields of sugar cane (they call it jugo cane), agave (for making tequila), and corn in the highlands. Each crop had fields in different stages of growth, because from what we could see, Mexico really has a year round growing season as long as they can get water on the plants. We plan to make a day trip to Tequila and tour the plant where they make tequila and see how they harvest the agave plant.

As we are traveling along, we pass many small and some not so small villages. This picture was taken looking down on a small town, these people would be the one who tend the crops in this valley. It was very picturesque, not the idea most people get when they think of Mexico.

Manzanillo to Bucerias January 19 -20

The beach at Barra de Navidad

We left Manzanillo after breakfast on Saturday morning. Our destination was a small town on the coast called Barra de Navidad. The trip took us through acres and acres of coconut trees growing together with either mango or banana trees. Each time we came close to a small village, fruit stands would line the side the road, huge piles of coconuts, papayas and some other type of squash (I think), all very cheap (30 cents for a coconut).
On part of the trip, the road took us up into the mountains, where it is a bit dryer and pines and oaks cover the hillside. As we drove along, at one point we saw something moving on the road ahead of us. As we came up to it, Jerry swerved to miss it, and we both realized at the last second that it was a tarantula! Hopefully it made it the rest of the way across the road safely.

The southern side of the bay of Puerto Vallarta, away from the sandy beaches.

We arrived in Puerto Vallarta along with throngs of other people and decided that we wanted to stay somewhere a little quieter. So we drove through downtown PV and on to a smaller town about 30 minutes north called Bucerias.

Sailboats in Bucerias at sunset.

Much quieter, less people, but still a very nice beach. Bucerias is also a place where lots of sailboats anchor on their way south. We enjoyed dinner at a small Mexican restaurant on the beach and then headed back through crowds of Mexicans enjoying a carnival that had set up in town. Fortunately, our hotel was far enough away that we didn't hear it. But, as usual, the Mexicans like to have a festival for any reason and they usually set off firecrackers that make a very loud boom. We listened to that for awhile, but it didn't last too long.

Our trip to the Pacific Coast January 18

We left Ajijic this morning to go to Manzanillo. As you can see from the photo above, some of the roads in Mexico are very good, this one in particular. It is a toll road (hence nobody else was on it) and it is very expensive. The cost from Ajijic to Manzanillo was almost $30, a distance of about 300 kilometers. The white and dust you see is a dry lake (very shallow) bed and the dust blowing off it. During the rainy season, June through August, this would be a beautiful lake with lots of birds and flowers.We stopped at a rest area and I wanted to take some pictures of this interesting plant that was blooming. I didn't see the bird until I downloaded my pictures on my computer! There are birds everywhere! I have no idea what type of bird or flower they are, but I am going to look for a book on Mexico's flora and fauna. (NOTE: I found out that these are called colorines. They bloom in the dry season while the tree is otherwise naked, and in addition to being quite photogenic are also edible.)

Arriving in Manzanillo, on the highway as you come down from the mountains. We stopped again at a pull out and took this picture. Most places along the highway where you can pull over have become garbage dumping spots. Mexico has a long way to go in the "put your garbage in the can, instead of out the car door" department! |Most of this stuff the tourists never see.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

January 16th

The town of Ajijic taken from the mountain.

We are still puttering around Ajijic, checking out the different areas around town for shopping and seeing the sights. Today we had the pleasure of dog sitting for John and Marie. Murphy was a very good boy while his parents went to Guadalajara for the day. The tile setter was here too finishing up the stairs going up to the mirador. I think by the time we leave here near the end of February, they should be finished renovating the casita for the next people!
We are planning to take a trip to the Pacific coast on Friday and will be back in Ajijic on Sunday or Monday.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Exploring Ajijic January 14-15

This is our street. Our casita is just to the right of the blue/black car next to where the people are walking. You can see the mirador on the top of the house, but you can't see the house.

Jerry and Murphy.

Yesterday we went for a hike up the hill behind our little casita. We stuck to the path going up, but ended up doing some cross country on the way down because we lost the path. The trail is mostly just a cattle trail and they go every which way. We took Murphy, a little Jack Russell that belongs to the couple who are renting the big house. They are here from Ottawa.
It was beautiful from up on the mountain looking down at the town. The lake looks very inviting, but it is not nice to swim in because the say it is only about 6 feet deep at the deepest and polluted.
Today we went on a tour of some houses that are for sale. We wanted to have a look at different places and what your money could buy. Real estate is very cheap here by Canadian standards, but prices will probably come down because of the problems in the US. There are a lot of Americans and Canadians living here full and part time.
Adios until tomorrow~~!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Mexico at last! (January 10-13)

Our casita.

Sunset in Ajijic.

Our first few days in Ajijic have been spent getting settled into our new house. We are living in a casita, which is really just a VERY small house on a lot with a bigger house, probably used for the maid to live in at one time. The owner recently renovated the casita, adding a living room and a mirador (which is a covered patio on the roof). She doubled the size of the casita by doing this. In the top picture you can see our living room, mirador, and rental car. The workmen are still working on finishing things, like tile and a railing on the stairs going up to the mirador. We have a maid that comes once a week for two hours! and a gardener to look after all the plants. I will post some more pictures when they get it all finished.
On Sunday we took a tour around Lake Chapala (the largest lake in Mexico), which is the lake Ajijic is situated on. We went through lots of little towns, mostly pretty poor. Most roads are good, but off the main road they get very bumpy because they are only made of stone, and the stones are not flat. By the time we got back to our casita, we were grumpy from bumpy roads. But a good dinner of tostitoes and beer, and we are happy again!!
Adios until tomorrow.

January 9th, Olympic Peninsula, Washington

This post is coming to you from beautiful Ajijic, Mexico (pronounced A-hee-hic). We just got our internet installed in our little "casita" so I have a lot of catching up to do. Right now we are enjoying our after lunch coffee and chocolate. We are going to go for a hike on the hill behind us soon, so I will just post for the day where I left off in Port Angeles....

Leaving Port Angeles in the morning on Wednesday January 9, we drove west and then south on the Olympic Peninsula. We had some sun to start, then some rain, then some snow, and finally more rain! On the coast, we were hoping to see some storm waves and we were not disappointed! Although it is hard to tell from pictures,(it was a bit foggy) the waves were cresting about half a mile from shore and were probably in the 30' range. By the time they hit the beach, they had scaled down to 12-15', but still very impressive.

We arrived in Seattle, at Gene and Shirley's house late in the afternoon, and went out for dinner with them to a very nice seafood restaurant on the water, right in front of the yacht club, where we could gaze on all the beautiful sailboats!
I will post again later today, after our hike up the mountain!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


Aboard MV Coho
Empress Hotel, Victoria Harbour

We have started out on trip to Ajijic Mexico. We boarded the Coho Ferry in Victoria, arriving in Port Angeles Washington at about 5:30 this evening. It was smooth sailing for the most part, but we are hoping that the winds the weather man has predicted will arrive tomorrow as we drive down the west coast side of the Olympic Peninsula. We would like to see some big waves and big weather.
Tomorrow night we will be in Seattle , staying at Gene and Shirley Lins house. Our flight to Guadalajara leaves early on Thursday morning.
Hasta la vista!!