Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Off to Guadalajara on New Years Eve

We are planning to visit Guadalajara tomorrow, and will be posting tomorrow evening. Happy New Years everyone!
We went, we saw, we came home and then I downloaded the pictures on my computer and I am not sure exactly what happened at the point, but while I was deleting the pictures off my camera, I also managed to delete them off my computer, and they are not even in the recycle bin where they usually go. Hmmmm, oh well, we are planning to go to Tonala to look around on Sunday and it is somewhat the same as Tlaquepaque (just outside Guadalajara), so I will get some pics then.
As for our trip to Tlaquepaque (pronounced la key paa key), it was somewhat disappointing as far as what we were expecting. From what I have read, Tlaquepaque is the shopping capital of Mexico if you are looking for things to furnish your house. And yes, we saw some very beautiful furniture and art, but not as much as I thought was there.
I made a cake today. We are going to have cake and ice cream with raspberries on top for dessert tonight. Yummy!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Holy Moly!

Monday December 28, 2009
Picking fruit from our trees has become almost a daily event. Up until now, we have been  waiting for the avocados to fall, there was usually one on the ground about every other day. But if we didn't get to if fast, the birds seem to think it was fair game. Soooo, somehow I convinced Jerry to climb up the avocado tree and pick a few, but he just didn't know when to quit! We given some away and have been eating them everyday.... in salad, as guacamole, in sandwiches, but now I am running out of ideas. So checking on the internet I found a recipe for avocado bread (would be similar to banana bread) that I am going to try tomorrow. Sounds pretty good to me! I will let you know how it turns out.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Red sky in the morning.....

Saturday December 26, 2009
Early this morning, as I was still laying in bed (Jerry was already getting the coffee going), I glanced towards our window with drapes still drawn, and noticed the light just starting to come through was a different colour than it normally is. I jumped up and opened the drapes and this is what I saw. I quickly grabbed my housecoat and camera and ran outside and up the spiral staircase to the roof and took this picture. It is the most beautiful sunrise I have seen here in Ajijic, and it only lasted maybe 5 minutes tops.

This picture below is taken looking a little to the north at the same time as the one above. Jerry checked the weather forecast  for today and it said a possibility of rain. So far it hasn't rained but it is cloudy and we only saw the sun for about an hour. Oh well, as least I don't have to put up with freezing rain, or close to freezing temperatures. The sun will come back tomorrow and we can work on our tans again!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Listen to the butterflies.....

Feliz Navidad y feliz ano nuevo 2010

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!! I hope you all are enjoying a beautiful Christmas day wherever you are. Take lots of pictures to make lots of memories!

We enjoyed our traditional Christmas morning breakfast this morning..... ooey, gooey, cinnamon buns with scrambled eggs and coffee, but then I added fresh picked papaya and fresh squeezed orange juice. We Skyped with Phil and Dave and Amy and Ella, got to see all the presents that Santa brought her! We are just waiting now to Skype with Martina and Steve and Aiden in Ireland.
Our weather here in Ajijic is suppose to go up to about 22 Celsius today, we have blue sky with not a cloud to be seen. We will probably take a walk down to the lake later this afternoon and then maybe head over to the plaza to see if anything is going on.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Mexico City Bakery..... yummmmm!

We went here a couple times for "elevensies" while in Mexico City. We got our cuppa from Starbucks down the street. The cake on top left has a price of 160 pesos (about $13.00 cdn)

Breakfast Food

(If you want to get a closer view of any of the pictures on this blog, just click on the picture and it will be BIG)
I have had several requests to post pictures of Mexican food, so here are some good examples..... clockwise from top left....
Chilaquiles Verde with Huevos, Mexican Huevos with refried beans, the cook making our breakfast, and another cook making our blue corn quesadillas at the butterfly sanctuary for breakfast.

Chilaquiles Verde and Huevos: Tortilla chips lightly fried in garlic and onions and smothered in chile verde sauce, topped with melted queso fresco and sour cream, served with fried eggs.

Huevos Mexicanos: Eggs scrambled and cooked with fresh tomatoes, onions, garlic, and chili peppers. Served with refried beans and a tortilla chip.

More pictures to come, stay tuned!

The Monarch Butterflies of Michoacan Mexico

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

This is the day I have been looking forward to for a long time. I think it was over 15 years ago that I first read an article about the monarch butterflies and how they migrate to Mexico every year, flying over 3200 kilometers. This mystery has been slowly unraveled over they years and scientists now think that the monarch butterflies that migrate to Mexico from the US and Canada are the 4th or 5th generation away from the ones that migrated from Mexico to the north. In other words, the butterflies that make the trek to Mexico are the great, great, great grandchildren of the previous generation to have made it. They have never been to Mexico before, yet year after year they fly to the same trees near the small town of Angangueo.

There are so many butterflies in the trees their weight bends the branches. This area is at almost 11,000 feet and gets quite cold at night (when we arrived at just after 9:00 a.m. it was only 2 degrees celius). As the sun warms their bodies, they begin to fly around and because of the numbers, you can actually hear the sounds of their wings.

These butterflies have flown down from the trees to land closer to the ground and are warming their bodies up in the sun. They are still very sluggish, so you have to be very careful not to step on the ones on the ground.

We drove most of the way to where the butterflies are, but then hiked for about 45 minutes from a small village to the oyamel trees where they stay the winter. We hired a tour guide by the name of Martin, 12 years old and very fun to have along. You can also hire a horse to take you there, but we enjoyed the hike, even though it was difficult because of the altitude. The whole experience was awesome, and I would go again in a heart beat!

Teotihuacan, UNESCO World Heritage Site

December 21, 2009
The Pyramid of the Sun, pictured above, is the third largest pyramid in the world. It is hard to get perspective of the size, but look closely and you can see people at the top. Construction was started on it over two thousand years ago by the Toltec people, and other groups of people including the Mayan also contributed to it's construction. It got it's name from the Aztecs, who visited the city of Teotihuacan centuries after it was abandoned.

At it's height, the City of Teotihuacan was home to probably 200,000 people, larger than any European city of the same era. Above is a drawing of the city, showing the Pyramid of the Sun on the right and the smaller Pyramid of the Moon. The street running between them was called The Avenue of the Dead.

Looking up the stairs (about 250) of the Pyramid of the Sun.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Warm welcome for winter solstice!

During the fall and spring equinox, people pack Teotihuacan dressed in white, climb to the top of the Pyramid of the Sun, and with arms outstretched they receive the special energy of the site on that day.

Monday December 21, 2009
On the longest night and shortest day of the year, I would like to wish all our readers a very Happy Winter Solstice and first day of winter!
We are leaving Mexico City shortly, and will possibly be able to blog tonight.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Having fun in the snow.... in Mexico City

After breakfast this morning, we took a walk to the central Plaza, also know as the Zocalo. Because it is close to Christmas, the city set up several areas where people could experience snow.......

ice skating.....

watching the zamboni...

building snowmen...


and our most favorite Canadian pastime.....shoveling snow!
It was really priceless watching the faces of the Mexican people play in the snow!

Cidudad de Mexico... Mexico City

Sunday December 20, 2009
We arrived in Mexico City safe and sound on Friday afternoon. The traffic was horrendous! It is really very interesting how traffic moves at all in this city! We were in a lane coming off the highway that turned right, which is what we wanted to do, but the cars on our right (who were also suppose to be turning right) were trying to move over the the left and the cars on our left (who were suppose to be going left) were cutting in front of us to turn right! What a hoot! Sometimes there seems to be two lanes but all of a sudden there are three lanes of traffic even though there is only room for two! We knew where our hotel was, but it took us several circles around the area until we were actually able to pull up in front and park due to road blocks, one way streets, being in the wrong lane, missing the right turn, etc.!! Our next challenge is to exit the city tomorrow morning. Oh yeah, I almost forgot.... everyone loves to blow their horns!
 Our first tourist experience was to go to the Museum of Anthropology on Saturday. We got there about 10:00 am, by bus, so it was not busy yet. Upon entering the museum, we were asked if we would like to leave our imprint for the day by participating in an origami making project. Each visitor was asked to make something with the origami paper and leave it anywhere in the museum. They had instructions (in Spanish) and I had wanted to make a crane but it ended up being a pyramid.

Just as we were leaving the museum, I took this picture of the origami shapes people had left in the centre of the museum.
We are going out to get a bite to eat, I will post again later today or this evening! I have some great pictures of action on the streets around our hotel. And pictures of ice skating, snow ball fights, snowmobiling and making snowmen! It has been lots of fun having a look around the city today.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The tale of the little rock squirrel.

Thursday December 17, 2009
This is Mr Rocky the rock squirrel, he lives in our yard, and this is the story of how he lost his mate.

One day a few days ago, Mr and Mrs Rock decided to move their three children from their house #1 to their house #2 (they have three houses that we know of). The kids are pretty big already, but they managed to get a hold of them one at a time in their mouths and carry them about 50 meters to the new location. After they were all safely tucked into the new house, Mrs Rock headed out to get something to eat. Unbeknown to Mrs Rock, Orange Cat was watching the house moving with much interest. As she was crossing the big open expanse of the driveway, Orange Cat saw his chance and pounced. I would have tried to save Mrs Rock, but it was too late. Orange Cat was very fast, and jumped over the gate and was gone, Mrs Rock squeaking the whole way. Mr Rock heard the commotion and poked his head out of the house and called to Mrs Rock. He called again several times later that day and then again the next morning. By the afternoon, he knew his true love was not coming back and he decided to move the kids again. One by one, he moved them back to the old house, safely away from Orange Cat, he thought. Then this morning, we saw Mr Rock moving the kids again! And unfortunately, Orange Cat was watching again! We are doing everything we can to discourage Orange Cat from coming in our yard (throwing rotten oranges at him) but things are not looking too good for the Rock family. Hopefully, the kids move out soon and Mr Rock can put his feet up and relax for awhile, at least until he finds a new honey!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Market Day in Ajijic

Wednesday December 16, 2009
It is market day in Ajijic, the once a week market with a loads of vendors. You can pretty much buy anything you need here, right down to the undies! Below, this couple are making chicken tacos to sell, they smelled really yummy!

We stopped at this "shop" (the back of a cube van) to buy some fresh roasted coffee beans... 50 pesos for half a kilogram. That is about $4.20. We also picked up a half kilogram of strawberries (10 pesos) and half kilogram of raspberries (15 pesos).

The glassware vendor, very beautiful glasses and dishes. Check out the glass  red and green peppers!

Last night it rained hard for the first time since we have been here. It was just like home, listening to the rain on the roof, falling on the leaves of the trees and hitting the sidewalk. This morning, everything was fresh and clean, and although it was overcast all morning, the sun did come out in the early afternoon and dried everything up. This evening we had another rain shower. I picked a big bag of the tangerine oranges for our maid to give to the kids at school. She asked for about 30 oranges off our tree, and since we don't have a ladder, we stacked a little table on a chair and I climbed on that to get them down. Jerry was holding the chair and catching oranges as I picked them. Jerry said it would have been easier to just go and buy them at the store!
We are planning our trip to Mexico City on Friday.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Spanish 101

Monday December 14, 2009
Temperature: 24 celius
I have been practicing my Spanish  all morning, working on lesson 9. With my library card (any library in BC), I can log into a web site called Mango for Libraries that has language lessons in Chinese, French, German, Portuguese, Italian and Spanish (Latin American). I can either take the basic course or get more involved with a complete course. I wanted to get the basics this trip. Jerry already knows quite a bit of Spanish, so with both of us knowing some, then we can still practice on each other even after we get back home, and hopefully not forget what I have learned.
I noticed this morning that my Bird of Paradise has a bloom on it. I'll be watching so I can cut it when it opens. They are the neatest looking flowers. Too bad I don't have a nice vase to put it in. I will post a picture as soon as it opens up, right now it doesn't look like much. Above is our papaya tree which I think will have one ready in another week or so. We have a little hummingbird who visits us regularly, making the rounds in our yard. I am not sure of the species, but it is bigger than the Rufous we have at home.
Adios! Que tenga un buen dia!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

We survived the weekend in Ajijic.

Sunday December 13, 2009
Our plans to maybe go away this weekend did not materialize and after reading the local paper we were very glad that we did not go to Mexico City. Since this was the weekend to celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mexico City was expecting an extra 7 million people in the city. Not a good time to visit a city of 14 million (that is the city only, not including the surrounding area). I think there is over 25 million all together.
Friday night in Ajijic was the noisy night, with lots of explosions and loud music and parties at 4 o'clock in the morning. We decided we would head into town on Saturday night to see if anything was happening, but it was pretty much deadsville. Oh well, I guess we missed all the action on Friday night, but I am sure we won't have long to wait until the next party happens!
I can't believe how beautiful the weather has been here. It is absolutely perfect, nice and warm (but not hot) during the day and then cooling off at night to where we need a duvet on. I hope it stays like this for the whole time we are here, you just can't ask for any more.
We will probably go away on Friday this week, first to Mexico City for a couple days, then make our way back towards Ajijic, stopping to see the monarchs. The road trip should take us 5 or 6 days.
Comment answers:
Mexico City would be about an 8 hour drive from here. I will definitely be taking lots of pics. And yes, the hibiscus is in our garden, in the background you can see the poinsettia. We also have a really pretty pink one. Our meals are vegetarian, mostly beans fixed many different ways. We have fresh fruit and yogurt for breakfast, left overs or salad for lunch, and Mexican dishes for dinner. Yesterday I made a pot of chili in the slow cooker and served it with polenta. We have enough left over for several more meals. We also have had enchiladas and tostadoes. We try to stay away from imported foods because they are mucho $$. We have a weekly farmers market in Ajijic on Thursdays, it is less than a 5 minute drive, probably better to walk if it is not too hot outside. It has been so nice having the orange trees in our yard. Every morning we squeeze 4 oranges for juice... ymmmmm... the best way to start the day, even better than that first cup of coffee. So far, the two avocados that have fallen off the tree are not ripe enough to eat, but I will let you know how good they are soon!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Holy Moly, Guacamole!

Friday December 11, 2009
Weather: low this morning was 9, high was 25. If you see anything different on any weather forecast, don't believe it! Although it might cool off tonight to maybe 6 or 7.
Our guacamole tree dropped it's second avocado this morning. The first one was gone when I went outside to pick it up. I really don't know what happened to it, but Jerry said it was either the squirrel who keeps running through our yard (although I think it was too big for the squirrel to carry) or the next door neighbor jumped the fence and got it. Either way, I knew it was just a matter of time before another one landed, and this time I got to it first. Ha!
I took a day off painting today. Although is mostly done, I still have about half a can of the blue/gray and 3/4 of a can of the buttermilk colour. So, I might as well keep going. I was just trying to decide which colour I would paint the hallway going into the bedroom. As promised, I have included in this post some pictures.....

This is the before picture, taken on the day we moved in and ~~

this is the after picture, taken today.
You can still see a bit of the yellow in the hallway behind where Jerry is sitting, so that is my next job. You can weigh in with an opinion if you want.... blue/gray or buttermilk like the fireplace?

This is our side yard and patio, kitchen to the right and living room to the left.

This is the sunroom at the back of the house.
Tomorrow we are going to go downtown to see what is going on in the plaza. Right now there are a LOT of explosions going on, and I expect they will be booming all night tonight and tomorrow night. Probably won't get much sleep this weekend.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Living in Mexico, we are having fun!

Thursday December 10, 2009
I finished painting the living room today. It is soooo much nicer now that the limegreenyellowpuke is gone. We feel much more relaxed and at home. I will finish decorating and putting things back to where they should be and then take a picture and you can see it for yourselves. We had the electrician come by today too to fix a live wire that was sticking out of the wall with a pink plastic bag on it for protection. Hmmmm. Now we have two more lights that work. It was a simple thing, and you gotta wonder why wasn't it done by the owner?

This is the view from the rooftop of the casita. Pretty much all Mexican houses have access to the roof. It is extra living space otherwise gone to waste. Usually they have what is called a mirador on the roof which is really just some sort of roof for protection from the sun and maybe a side or two or three for some privacy. Our casita doesn't really have a mirador, but we can take a couple chairs and table up on to the roof and enjoy the sunrise or sunset. The mountains in the background are starting to turn brown for the winter. During the summer rainy season, this hillside is like a jungle.
Our location is much quieter that when we were here two years ago. There are no roosters or roof dogs. And the propane truck does not come by blasting his loud speaker everyday. We have lots of mature trees around which attract many birds. The rumble of the traffic is off in the distance and we don't really notice. So far we have very little to complain about and a lot to be thankful for.
I promise tomorrow I will post some pictures of the inside of our house.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Settling in to a routine in Ajijic

Coffee tree (bush) in our yard.
Wednesday December 9, 2009
Today was very relaxing. The weather was beautiful, very warm (25) and sunny, Jerry was working on the computer and I was painting our living room. It is starting to feel like home! All the furniture is moved in to the middle of the room, cans of paint are here and there, paint brushes are soaking in the bathroom sink.... feels great!
We started off the day with a Mexican Christmas Party! We were invited out for breakfast and a party by the owner of the real estate company that we found our rental through, same company that we rented from two years ago. It was great to be able to join the staff party, have breakfast and we even each got a token gift! Jerry got a multi-purpose tool and I got a fleece top with a Coca Cola logo on it. I can always wear it on the boat~~!! It is the thought that counts though. Bev Hunt is quite the character, it is hard to know just what is on her mind. She told us when she invited us to the party that we wouldn't be getting a gift since gifts were for staff only. hmmmm
For lunch today, I fixed a big fresh fruit salad with water mellon (we bought a whole one at Wal-Mart for 7 pesos, which is about 55 cents), pineapple ($1.20 at the grocery) tangerines we picked from our yard, bananas and strawberries bought a the local market. Can't get better than that!

Our patio, guacamole tree on the top right.
Okay, so what do you think of this idea? ... I am going to pick the coffee berries off our coffee tree (bush), peel them, roast them, grind them, and then make a cup of coffee.
Next, we have to plan a trip to see the monarch butterflies in Morelia. Apparently the best time to see them is in December, so we will be going soon, maybe as early as this weekend since Ajijic is going to go festival crazy (there will be lots of noise) this weekend because it is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. We'll let you know what we get planned... but of course I should finish my painting first.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Monday, December 7, 2009

San Carlos to Ajijic

Monday December 7, 2009
Trip mileage: 5700 km
Total gas for trip: $235 US
Tolls on Mexican highways: $100 US
Our trip from San Carlos took us through Mazatlan arriving in Ajijic on Friday night. It was two long days of driving on the Cuota (Mexican toll highway), almost a $100 for the tolls, but we arrived safely, tired but glad to be finished driving for now. We spent one night in Mazatlan (all we could take because of the noise and hustlers). Lots of Canadians there with their RV's or staying in the beach hotels. We didn't even get over to the beach, but I don't think we missed anything.
From Mazatlan we drove about 8 hours to Ajijic, most of the area was agricultural, but then just outside of Tepic we started heading up into the mountains to end up at 5000 feet in Ajijic. We tried avoiding traffic in Guadalajara by taking an outside route, but ended up snarled in a traffic jam for over an hour from a bad accident (which doesn't surprise me by the way they were driving!). I was driving, can you believe it? Pretty scary, both for me and Jerry.

Lake Chapala just before an afternoon rain.
Yesterday we toured a few houses that were for rent and then settled on one this morning. Right now we are unpacking and I have a maid cleaning the kitchen and floors for me. I might be crazy, but I am going to be painting the living room! Right now it is a really "Mexican" yellow and I am thinking I will paint it a soft grey to match the marble tile on the floor. That will keep me busy for a couple days.
We have a beautiful garden with three different types of orange trees, two papaya tree and an avocado tree! I'll post some pictures tomorrow.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tuscon to San Carlos Mexico!

Sunset on the beach at San Carlos, just a few minutes north of Guaymas.
Thursday December 3, 2009
We made it! Thanks to Jerry's awesome driving, he drove the whole day (I think he just didn't trust me to drive on the Mexican roads), we arrived in San Carlos on the west coast at about 4:30. The weather is perfect here, but I think the Mexicans think it is a little on the cold side. When we stopped to get our tourist permit, the clerk behind the desk had one of those radiant heat turbo heaters going right on his legs!
Crossing the border was a non event, they just waved us through, no questions, no stopping (except for going over the topees otherwise know as very big speed bumps). Then about 20 km down the highway we had to stop to get our tourist card and car permit. We knew we were suppose to get them but there was no mention of anything at the border and as luck would have it we did everything right.
We are still thinking of what we will be doing tomorrow, but probably stop somewhere between here and Mazatlan. Which would put us in Ajijic on Sunday.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

La Quinta CA to Tuscon AZ

Wednesday December 2, 2009
Trip Log: 3725 km

We left La Quinta this morning about 9:00, nice weather again, for the trip to Tuscon. We passed the Salton Sea first thing, a lake made famous by the fact that it is 235 feet below sea level. After leaving the Salton Sea behind, there is not too much exciting on this stretch of road. We decided to take a little longer and swing down towards the US/Mexican border so we could see the new fence/wall that the American government has built. In this area, it is a very tall, probably about 12 to 14 feet, steel post fence, no way to climb over it without a ladder. We saw lots of border patrol vehicles as well. The black line is the metal fence going along the border over the sand dunes.

Closer to Phoenix, we came across lots of these saguaro cactus, they look so stately standing in the desert. Little birds like making their nests inside the saguaro. The colours in the desert are very subdued at this time of year, lots of greys, browns and pale greens.  Every so often, we would come across a different colour of rock, red like the hillside below or black.

Tomorrow, we are off to Mexico, finally! Seems like it has taken us a long time to get this far, but we still have a long way to go to get to Ajijic and Lake Chapala. We may or may not have internet on the way down, so if you don't see any posts, don't worry about us, we'll just have to play catch up when we get to Ajijic.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Joshua Tree National Park

Tuesday December 1, 2009
Wow, we are already in December. Seems the time is going by too fast, we want it to slow down. But I guess we will have to wait until we get to Ajijic for that to happen, it really does seem like life is slower there.
We are getting ready to go on a little day trip to Joshua Tree National Park. I will post some pictures later today when we get back home.
Back home now... we had a great day, put over 300 km on the car. Joshua Tree was beautiful. We started at the south end of the park, stopping all along the way at each "Exhibit", or explanation of one thing or another. Above is a picture of Joshua trees and the fascinating rock formations common in the park. The rocks look like someone has just piled them there, but they are actually formed by a molten form of rock called monzogranite. As it cools it cracks, then it works it's way to the surface and groundwater widens the cracks and rounds the edges. Eventually soil is eroded away, exposing these beautiful formations. Really, unbelievable. I thought the Joshua trees were pretty neat, but the rocks were very cool!
On our way home, we drove through Desert Hot Springs and saw another unbelievable sight..... windmills as far as the eye could see! We stopped to get some pictures and got blown back inside the car. We can understand why they have so many, but this is definitely a place that would be hazardous to birds. It was really hard to get a picture to show the scope of this, but if you can just imagine that we are in the middle of them and each direction you look are more windmills, that is all you can see, they just keep going and going and going.

Tomorrow we leave La Quinta and head towards Tucson. We will spend the night there and then drive across the Mexican border on Thursday morning.