Monthly Archives: January 2018

What To Do What To Do

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What To Do What To Do

Today was supposed to be a beach day. I’ve been back in Mazatlan for almost three months and have yet to spend a day at the beach. Yes, I walk along the malecon every day. But that’s walking BY the beach, not ON the beach. And I go to restaurants and bars that overlook the beach. I even play cards by a pool that has a view of the ocean. But I have yet to feel that cushion of sand beneath my feet.

I had really set this day aside to lie on the beach. But then the clouds rolled in. Then the drop of rain spattered against my bedroom window. Instead I have opted to stay indoors today. It’s actually been a productive writing day. But I am going to brave the rain and wind shortly and head out down the malecon. It’s Wednesday which means that there is a jazz jam at El Recreo. And after that there is a dance performance at Museo de Arte.

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The weather this winter has been strange. Above normal temperatures greeted me in November when I returned. But December was cold and January even more so. Jackets are a necessity once the sun goes down. Jeans have become a regular part of my wardrobe.

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Of course the tourists who come for a week or two still think this is paradise as there is no snow or windchill factor. They are easily identifiable by their pale faces and wardrobe of shorts and tank tops. But even they remark on how the global warming idea has actually had the opposite effect on the climate.

While the weather is not the greatest right now, there is so much to do indoors. Music is everywhere. There are malls and movie theaters. Pre-Carnaval events are underway. Yes, we are only a week away from Carnaval, the third largest celebration of its kind in North America.

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Construction crews are in a frenzy trying to complete the work on the malecon. The parade routes have been announced and it’s imperative that the malecon be open. This season it has been a nightmare of traffic delays and rerouting of vehicles due to the closure of several streets in Centro as well as the malecon itself.

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I think back to gloomy winter days back in Winnipeg. Somehow a little bit of rain and clouds just don’t seem so bad after all.

Saturdays Then and Now

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Saturdays Then and Now

Do you remember back when you were a kid………..Saturday morning cartoons! Somehow it was easy to get up on Saturdays when you weren’t trudging off to school. My favorite was, and still is, Beep Beep The Roadrunner.

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As a teenager, Saturdays were spent hanging out downtown with my friends. We’d take a bus to Eaton’s and meet at the statue. That was THE popular place to meet in Winnipeg. We’d check out clothes and makeup and then snack on fries and Coke in the Valley Room or over at Hudson’s Bay (as it was called back then) in The Paddlewheel.

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In the early years of marriage before kids, Saturdays were spent shopping for groceries and other items we never had time for during the week as we both worked. Stores and parking lots were always so crowded. I much preferred doing my shopping during the week, even with kids in tow.

Once the kids came along, Saturdays took on a new meaning of hectic. I was busy chauffeuring them to activities such as ballet, bowling, music lessons and birthday parties. When the kids grew up and began to drive themselves around, Saturdays became my own again.

Saturday mornings meant garage sales, flea markets and auctions hunting for treasures for my Ebay business. I became quite familiar with the small towns surrounding Winnipeg. But my Ebay business ended when my marriage ended. I lost my storage room, shipping room and supplies and moved into a cramped one bedroom apartment.

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That then gave me the opportunity to teach Aquafit classes at the YMCA on Saturday mornings. I enjoyed this and often went out for lunch with friends afterwards. The afternoons were often spent studying as I was now back at University earning more letters after my name.

When I first came to Mexico, Saturdays were days of exploration as I taught full-time during the week. When I moved to Guadalajara I began teaching in language institutes where I quickly discovered that Saturdays were THE most requested class times.

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I’m now retired and Saturdays are my own again. Mornings are leisurely and then I head out with friends. I’m off to a 60s rock party today in The Gold Zone. I heard this group play in Centro a couple of weeks ago and they were amazing. The 60s was MY decade and the best years ever. And the memories the music conjures up………flower power, free love, hippies, peace, sit-ins, caftans, bell bottoms, love beads and much, much more. 

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Sleepless in Los Pinos

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Sleepless in Los Pinos

I make a point of walking approximately five miles a day to and from my destinations. All other walking is incidental. Amazing what a difference new knees have made in my life. Yesterday I unexpectedly by far exceeded the five miles and I was confident when I climbed into bed that sleep was imminent. I put on some classical music that almost immediately lulled me to sleep.

But it was not a restful sleep. Although I can’t recall the dreams I had, they must have been pretty strange and wild. I awoke with a start at 2:41 am. One of my characters in the book I’m writing was vying for my attention. I soon realized that Lorne was going to win this round.

Karen, you need to listen to me NOW! I have this situation with Misty. I know it should never have gone this way, but it did. I know this wasn’t what you had in mind for me when you first wrote me into your book.

Lorne, shut the F up! It’s the middle of the night and I need to sleep. Your crisis can wait. It hasn’t been put into writing yet.

Exactly Karen! You need to get it down now. While it’s going down. I know your laptop is just sitting there waiting to be booted up. And this is so incredibly important. You don’t want to miss out on this.

I left my cosy bed and plopped down in front of my laptop. It took only seconds to boot up and a minute or so to find my file.

Okay Lorne, let me have it. Just what is so traumatic that you disturbed my sleep?

I glanced down at the corner of the screen and was amazed to see that it was now 4:47 am. More than two hours had passed since I had been so rudely awoken by Lorne. Suddenly I was overwhelmed with fatigue.

I fell asleep to the sounds of roosters crowing outside my window. Yes, my neighbors have roosters. And they crow at all hours of the day and night. But alas they are camera shy.

 

Interestingly Different

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Interestingly Different

I came downstairs to get my coffee one day and the dining room had been transformed into an exam room. An eye chart was prominently displayed on a wall and my friend was seated comfortably in a chair. The optometrist busily changed clunky lenses around until he was satisfied. The exam was complete and the new glasses were ready within a couple of days. Hmmmmmm……… 

 

I love shopping at Oxxo. It puts 7-11 and Mac’s to shame. Milk, beer, wine and more. Cleaning and laundry supplies. Fresh brewed coffee and cappuccino. Cell phones and memory sticks. Bread, cookies, pastry. Fruit, vegetables. Pay your utility bills here. And so much more. These stores are conveniently located on just about every other street corner.

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A friend and I had breakfast on the second floor of the mercado last week. Bacon and eggs, beans, rice and tortillas a mere 20 pesos. Fresh squeezed orange juice 18 pesos.

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The other day a woman came to my house. For a mere 600 pesos, my housemate had a one hour massage, a manicure and a pedicure. I think I need to find some time for this.

Last night we went to Museo de Arte and saw an amazing performance of contemporary dancing. The dancers performed outside on an uneven brick floor. This afternoon we enjoyed a spectacular concert of Handel’s Water Music. The venue was the majestic Angela Peralta Theater. The best part is that everything is within walking distance of where I’m staying this year.

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Carnaval is just around the corner. Last weekend we saw the parade of the king and queen contestants. Today was the coronation. And there are a variety of events yet to come. The large statues are beginning to appear and strings of lights adorn the malecon.

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Ah yes! Did I mention the absence of SNOW? Yes, things are interestingly different here.

This Week In Music

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This Week In Music

One of the things I love most about Mexico is the variety of music that fills the air. When I lived in Guadalajara Mariachi was the prominent genre. But here in Mazatlan Banda is the big one.

On Friday there was a mini-parade for all the candidates for queen and king of the upcoming Carnaval. We viewed this from Plazuela Republica and listened to an amazing band for almost two hours. They only took a short ten minute break and really sang their hearts out.

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On Saturday we went to a 60s rock party at La Chupeteria on the malecon. The group was called The Continentals and their performance was awesome. Three hours of all the favorites from the 60s. The place was packed and the dance floor crowded. Interestingly enough, admission was only 50 pesos (just over $3 Canadian) and included a margarita or pina colada.

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Jazz is the word at La Bohemia on Tuesday nights. This week the music of Santana was featured. Last week there were two keyboards in addition to the brass and percussion. 

This coming Sunday I’m looking forward to hearing Handel’s Water Music at the Angela Peralta Theater.

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My music teacher in middle school introduced me to Water Music and it has been a favorite of mine for decades. I actually have a CD with me here in Mexico that I listen to often.

As I walk along the malecon in the evenings, there is always a variety of music that fills the air…..even karaoke in Spanish as well as in English. 

Today is Wednesday and I’m headed over to El Recreo shortly to listen to some jazz. This is more of an open mic type of thing so not sure just what I will hear today.

This week in music…….banda, 60s, jazz and classical.

Sunrise Sunset

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Sunrise Sunset

Mazatlan has spectacular sunsets. I discovered that years ago when I first came to visit. I’ve seen sunsets all over North America but none compare to the beauty of sunset over the Pacific here in Mazatlan. I’ve taken hundreds of pictures over the years and am still mesmerized by the rainbow of color as the sun disappears into the ocean at sunset.

I’ve never seen a sunrise here in Mazatlan. But I hope to wake early one day and head down to the malecon to view this spectacle and of course take photos. I’ve seen photos others have taken and they are breathtaking.

Of course there is lots to do here in Mazatlan when I’m not gazing at sunsets. On Sunday I went out to Sabalo Country to have breakfast with friends from Salt Lake City. I wandered around Centro after and found some music close to Plazuela Machado. The kiosko at Machado was a perfect setting for young ladies in their ball gowns celebrating their quinceaneras. Fifteenth birthdays are huge here.

On Monday I met a friend for breakfast at the Mercado. Bacon and eggs, rice, beans and fresh tortillas for 20 pesos. Accompanied by fresh-squeezed orange juice. Well worth the trudge up the steep flight of stairs to the second floor.

In the afternoon I went to El Recreo to see a movie called Fireworks. An intricate tale of life in another culture. Subtitles were in English and I am so very thankful that I had that cataract surgery done last winter. No idea what language the actors were speaking.

We went out to a Mediterranean restaurant for dinner and the food was amazing. It’s a small mom and pop place with lovely ambience. The chef is from Jordan and his wife is Mexican. We shared a platter for two that was accompanied by fresh pita bread.

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Tuesday was a busy day. I went to Telcel to renew my phone plan. Next stop was an ATM. Then I went to pick up some coffee that a friend here imports from Chiapas. Home for a short period only to change clothes and then off to Plazula Machado to meet friends. Dinner was at La Bohemia where we enjoyed the jazz performance that included two keyboards along with the usual brass and percussion.

I belong to a Red Hat group here in Mazatlan and our luncheon was at Margaritas in The Gold Zone on Wednesday. We all have a variety of red hats and purple tops and it’s such fun when complete strangers ask to take our photo.

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Back in my own neighborhood later on, I discovered a bakery with delicious empenadas and wonderful cinnamon rolls. I sat at Plazuela Zaragoza for a while before heading for home. And I passed on an event at El Recreo to stay at home and color. Yes I am still coloring. Thank you to my friends back in Leavenworth for introducing me to this relaxing pastime.

My leisurely morning at home is over. It’s almost time to head to the movies at El Recreo again. Tomorrow is a mixed market down the street and a card game. Saturday is a 50s-60s music event. I guarantee that there will be more walks along the malecon before the week ends.

If

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If

“IF” is a small word but it has a huge meaning. The other day I was asked what I would miss the most if I were to move away from Mazatlan. That is an easy one. Definitely the ocean, the beach and the malecon would be what I would miss the most, especially the spectacular sunsets.

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My friend then asked me a more difficult question. “If you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be?” This is a tough one as there are so many places in the world I have yet to discover, and indeed probably never will in my lifetime. I love the water. I find the lapping of the waves to be calming and peaceful. But the splendor of the mountains is incredible. Gazing down into a canyon is amazing. Then there is the crunching of leaves underfoot as the colorful display falls from the trees in the fall. That first sprinkling of snow in winter is magical. Watching nature come to life again in the spring as greenery and flowers appear.

Where in the world can you find all this in only one place? I am still searching. For the time being, I have transitioned back into a snowbird with winters in Mexico and summers up north, lately in Washington state.

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Not a day passes by where the idea of family doesn’t cross my mind. When I grew up, everyone lived in the same city and usually in the same neighborhood. But now the trend is to scatter. While I hop from country to country, my daughter moves from province to province in Canada as her husband is in the military. Interestingly enough, my son has remained in Winnipeg with very strong roots and I highly doubt that he will ever leave.

Family dynamics today are certainly different than they were mere decades ago. While there is still a strong family-oriented presence here in Mexico, I see more of my former students heading to Canada or the USA. The grass is always greener, isn’t it? Many of these students become disillusioned quickly at the higher cost of living up north, and the harsh winters they must contend with. Life runs by the clock and is more stressful. More return to Mexico than actually remain up north on a more permanent basis. From what I see, much of this can be attributed to the strong family ties as well.

My students asked me constantly, “Teacher, aren’t you homesick?” The truth is that I am in a rather abstract way. While I miss people and places, I realize that the life I once led is entirely unattainable now. But I have chosen to leave this all behind in the form of memories. It’s healthier that way. I can fully enjoy the present and eagerly await all the new adventures that the future holds for me. I love the following quote:

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Now, if only Immigration would stop asking me “Where’s home?” when I travel…….