Family Time

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Family Time

After that whirlwind weekend in Mazatlan, I arrived in Culiacan Monday afternoon. I always feel like I’m coming home when I arrive at the bus station. Culiacan was my first stint at teaching in Mexico. But I left here with much more than just a year of teaching experience and assimilating into Mexican culture. I have this amazing family here who adopted me. They are the reason why I keep coming back to Culiacan. This week is all about family.

Juan and I taught together at Instituto Senda del Rio. We hit it off right away. He was anxious to improve his English and yours truly did not know a word of Spanish. We would meet in the library and he introduced me to wonderful children’s books written in Spanish such as The Wax Man and Chicken Little. 

Our friendship grew and I spent quite a bit of time with Juan, his wife Lucila and Juan Carlos, who had just turned a year old. The family has grown since then and I now have three grandsons and another one due in March.

Juan Carlos is nine now, and plays basketball at Senda. I had the opportunity to watch him play twice this week. I also helped him with his English homework last night. Jose Augustin is six now and likes to cuddle in bed with me in the morning before he leaves for school. To my delight he read me a story in English yesterday. Angel is four and a bundle of energy. He is always full of smiles and hugs for his abuelita.

Juan still teaches at Senda and all three boys go to school there. They leave the house at 6:20 am as classes begin at 7:00 am. Extra-curricular activities begin at 4:00 pm which makes it quite a long day. Then there is always homework in the evening. Sometimes I sit at the table with them and color while they do their homework.

Yesterday I met Marcela for coffee. We taught together at Senda but she no longer teaches there. We hadn’t seen each other in a couple of years and it was nice to catch up. My Spanish has come a long way so we were able to converse in both languages over cappuccinos.

The weekend is here and will be a busy one. The children have activities and I always enjoy hearing Lucila sing in church.

This will be my last post for a while. Next week the nomad is on the move again!

My Bus Ride

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My Bus Ride

I received an email this morning from a friend in Leavenworth. She wanted to know how long I was staying in Mazatlan. Well, you miss a blog post and you lose track of yours truly. Two weeks in Guadalajara, one weekend in Mazatlan, and now I’m in Culiacan. Right now the plan is to stay here for a week, and then your guess is as good as mine. After decades of routines and schedules I am completely caught up in the world of mindfulness and moving along when the time feels right. That’s why I found myself on a bus to Culiacan yesterday morning.

I mus tell you about the bus ride. ETN/Turistar is my preferred mode of travel but my route from Mazatlan to Culiacan has been discontinued. I reluctantly bought a ticket on TAP, on a first class rather than an executive class. The plan was to arrive in Culiacan around 2 pm so that Juan could pick me up after school.

It’s been years since I took one of these, and I forget how annoyingly entertaining it can be. The TV hovered inches above my head. Amazingly enough the movie was in English. No computer terminal at my seat on this bus. I put in my headphones and scrolled through the music channels. Nothing too exciting there. But the air conditioning was blasting and it was only a couple of hours. Suck it up princess.

The bus slowed down on the outskirts of the city and two vendors got on. I’d forgotten how amusing this can be. Vendors are not allowed on the ETN buses.

The first vendor to approach me was a young woman with a basket filled with wind-up toys. I smiled back and shook my head. No, gracias. But she was determined. She must have demonstrated four or five toys before she moved on to the next passenger.

Apparently the toy sales were not doing well. Moments later she was back with chocolate……melted chocolate. After all, the temperature outside was in the nineties before she boarded the bus. Once again I declined her offerings.

The second vendor was hot on her heels. This man had a cooler full of tamales. He wasn’t quite as aggressive and a shake of the head was sufficient enough to send him on his way.

She’s back! Vendor number one was now spouting me the benefits of the cream with marijuana she held in her hands. And then vendor number one was selling honey while she was still promoting her cream. I shook my head once again, reclined my seat, and closed my eyes.

Only another hour………………

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Weekend in Mazatlan

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Weekend in Mazatlan

I arrived in Mazatlan bright and early Friday morning. TAP was not only on time but actually early. I prefer ETN but this trip the timing was better on TAP.

I’m staying with my friend Koren who happens to be an amazing caterer. She kept me well fed on Friday while adjusting to yet another time change and the scorching heat here in Mazatlan. I then ventured out for a walk around the neighborhood after a short nap.

Quite a few changes. New condos, new construction, new park……but I was delighted to see old friends Lance and Daniel. We sat around for a while catching up while watching a glorious sunset.

Saturday morning before it got too hot, I went out for my five mile walk in Centro. I passed by the mercado, the cathedral, Republica and Machado. I had conversations in Spanish with various vendors as well as with others seeking shade on park benches.

Tonight I’m meeting a friend for dinner on the malecon, where we will enjoy the sunset as we dine. Delmer is another Canadian and he and I taught together a couple of years ago here in Mazatlan.

A concert is happening at the park near my house and there are rumors of fireworks tonight as well.

Tomorrow Rotary is having an event at Zaragoza Park. Hard to believe it’s been three years since Steve was manning the barbecues at this annual event. The years are just zooming by way too quickly.

Monday morning I will be on a bus on my way to Culiacan and a whirlwind weekend in Mazatlan comes to a close.

Dia De Los Muertos

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Dia De Los Muertos

I’m back in Tlaquepaque enjoying one of my favorite Mexican celebrations…..Day of the Dead. This is a time when family and friends gather together to pray for and remember family and friends who have passed away. Altars are constructed and food and photos are prominent. Personal possessions are also displayed. Faces are painted and traditional dress is also featured for both adults and children alike. Brightly colored marigolds are everywhere and the cemeteries are alive with celebrations of the spirits of the deceased.

I spent hours walking down Calle Independencia and Calle Juarez taking photos of altars. It was fascinating watching the various artists painting faces of children and adults. The costumes were outstanding and Catrinas were everywhere.

 

In the evening I checked out the amazing altar outside El Parian in the square. An added delight was the celebration inside the government building which featured altars, catrinas and mariachis. In the Jardin Hidalgo a stage had been set up and various singers and dancers performed.

The vendors were out in full force. Food ranged from tortas ahogadas to churros. Other vendors sold everything from leather goods to jewelry. Needless to say, the people watching and photo ops were plentiful. Here are a few:

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Goodbye Again

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Goodbye Again

It’s that time again. It’s time to say goodbye to Leavenworth again. It’s time to say goodbye to all my friends here. The last bridge game. The last book club meeting. The last life group. The last SAIL class. The last music night. The last lunch at the senior center. The last trips on Link Transit to Cashmere and Wenatchee.

I feel like the last six months have been more like six days or hours, not months. Friendships have increased and grown stronger. My involvement in children’s ministry is more meaningful. Leavenworth is really starting to feel like “home” to me after years of traveling, never quite settling down in any one place.

People envy me. They marvel at the places I’ve been and the adventures I’ve had. However this type of life does carry a price tag, and it’s a hefty one. It means that I meet lots of new people, but then there are lots of goodbyes that go along with that.

Of course we always have the option of planning our future. But as Robbie Burn’s once said, “The best laid schemes o’ mice and men gang aft a-gley.” I remember planning a future years ago, when my children were young. But it never included traveling from country to country on a regular basis. In fact it never included living anywhere but in Winnipeg.

The times are different now. My children don’t live in the same province anymore although they are both still in Canada. The idea of Friday night family dinners as well as birthday and holiday celebrations together is not in the plans anymore.

It has been interesting and enjoyable spending special times with different people in different places, but I would give anything to relive just one more minute of family time spent together. That precious time is gone forever.

Alas I must return to the mundane art of packing, another pastime I do not find in the least enjoyable. It’s also a challenge to keep within the 50 pound limit. Gone are the days when the number of bags allowed and the weight carried no restrictions.

Goodbye for now and my next post will be once I’m settled in Guadalajara, where I am looking forward to Day of the Dead festivities.

Apple Days

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Apple Days

Apple Days was held over the weekend in Cashmere at the museum. I found myself volunteering in the Richardson Cabin in the pioneer village. Thirteen people lived in this home, originally built in the 1880s in Monitor, Washington. The home was moved to the pioneer village in 1961.

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The interior featured the latest in appliances and furnishings at the time.

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A number of other activities were held, including a gymnastics display.

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The Boy Scouts were busy making cornbread and apple crisp.

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The staged gunfights were enjoyed by all. There were a few vendors selling everything from jewelry to fudge. A bake sale and a book sale were also popular, as was the cafe with hot dogs and tacos on the menu. The children were enchanted with the pony rides.

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The entertainment also featured a folk singer, mariachis and dancers.

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A big feature is the apple pie baking contest. And I will leave you with this photo of the prize winners.

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Lake Chelan

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Lake Chelan

It’s a rainy evening and I’m quite content to stay in and sort through photos. This also means that I have the time to write a blog post. Looking out the window, it’s hard to believe that last Friday it was warm and sunny.

Last Friday I went out to Lake Chelan. It was nice to get away for the day. Leavenworth was already crowded with tourists coming in for Autumn Leaf Festival. Chelan is quieter at this time of year as most of the summer visitors have departed.

My first stop was the museum. It’s quite a bit smaller than the Waterville Museum but it does have some interesting displays. Here are a few.

I enjoyed a delicious lunch at B C McDonalds and then walked down the street to the church.

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I walked through the courtyard and down to the water. It was serene and peaceful. I strolled along the walkway for a while and then sat down on a bench to admire the view.

I plan to return to Lake Chelan next summer and take the cruise up to Stehekin as time has run out on me this year. Something to look forward to…………