Tag Archives: Culiacan

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 Last Days in Mexico

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My Last Days in Mexico

Easter came early this year on April 1st. Although I am not Catholic, that morning I went to the Cathedral for the mass. Later that day I went out for dinner with my friends to Al Chile, one of my favorite restaurants on the malecon. We enjoyed chicken mole instead of the traditional ham served up north.

On Monday I had lunch at St. Lorenzo with a friend. Then we went to El Recreo to see a movie. A walk along the malecon and hanging out with my neighbors in the evening completed the day.

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Tuesday was supposed to be a beach day. But the morning fog was thick and I settled for a walk on the malecon. The tedious task of packing began that afternoon. Dinner with friends followed.

On Wednesday my first stop was Telcel at Gran Plaza. I had to renew my phone plan. Next was a badly needed haircut. Then we headed to the Gold Zone for one last dinner at Friends. The band that night was great as well.

Wednesday also marked the start of Moto Week, an annual event that attracts thousands of bikers.  

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On Thursday I once again attacked packing. It’s amazing the stuff that accumulates in five months. I met a friend for lunch and went to one last movie at El Recreo.

Friday once again was a major laundry and packing day. I went to my friend Koren’s for one last Friday lunch. Koren is a caterer and on Fridays we would still have lunch there although the mixed market never really did fly this past winter. In the evening I once again hung out with some of my neighbors.

On Saturday we went to Casa Arabe for an amazing dinner. Then we headed to the malecon to watch the motorcycle parade. It went on for hours and it was interesting to see all the customized bikes.

The following morning I closed up my bags and took an Uber to the bus station. I was off to Culiacan to spend a couple of days with my Mexican family. Juan and my three grandsons were waiting for me at the bus station, and we went over to his brother’s house where the kids enjoyed time in a wading pool.

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All too soon it was Tuesday and Lucila drove me to the airport to catch my flight to Mexico City. A few hours later I boarded a flight to Toronto.

Adios Mexico until the fall.

I’m Back!!!!!

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I’m Back!!!!!

It’s been over a month since I’ve written a post. That’s what happens when you travel and are distracted by things to do and limited internet access. But at least I remembered to take photos, and I am now in the process of organizing hundreds of them.

Here is a Coles Notes version of the past month. In future blog posts I will expand upon my adventures. But I did want to assure my readers that I have not merely dropped off the face of the earth.

I left Mazatlan on April 8th, the final day of Moto Week. The night before I had been hanging out with friends watching the motorcycle parade. Thousands of cyclists converge upon Mazatlan annually and the roar of engines is constant.

I arrived in Culiacan and spent a couple of days with my Mexican family. I enjoyed watching the kids frolic in a wading pool that first afternoon. The following day spring break was over and everyone was back at school. On Tuesday evening I found myself at the airport and boarded a flight for Mexico City.

I had a two hour layover before boarding the next flight to Toronto. I arrived in Toronto at 6 am to gloomy, cloudy skies. By the time my daughter came to get me at the airport, the rain had started. But my spirits brightened when I caught my first glimpse of my new granddaughter asleep in her car seat.

We headed to a mall for a while before heading out on the highway to Frankford. Once at my daughter’s home, I finally got to hold my granddaughter for the first time. It was amazing! This sweet little face gazed up at me with questioning eyes. Who are you? Why are you holding me?

After that any opportunity I had I held her in my arms, whether she was awake or asleep. My daughter is nursing and had expressed milk, so I even found myself giving Madeline a bottle in the aisle of Home Depot one afternoon.

The week I spent with them was a fleeting dream, and I soon found myself on a train heading back to Toronto. The hustle and bustle at Union Station at 5 pm was a tad overwhelming, but I found the next train that took me to a station close to where my friend Deborah lives.

My visit with Deborah was round three of an emotional journey. The first part was leaving my Culiacan family and the second was leaving my daughter and granddaughter. My friend Deborah almost lost her life last year to an infection last year and defied all odds by surviving emergency surgery and then learning to walk again. The time we spent together was special, but I soon found myself back at the airport.

I flew to Vancouver and then on to Seattle. It was a short two hour drive to Leavenworth. The three hour time change took its toll. I crashed for a few hours and then dove right into my usual routine. Exercise class, lunch at the senior center and then a craft afternoon.

Suddenly it’s Saturday and my first week back has flown by all too quickly. Only one photo for this post but many more to come in future posts. So stay tuned.

February……. A Dreary Month?

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February……. A Dreary Month?

This is my eighth winter in Mexico and I can’t recall ever having such dreary weather. Clouds have permeated the skies all month, what the weather forecasters here term as “intermittent clouds.”  My heart goes out to the tourists who have come for only a week or two. It has also been unusually cold in the evenings. I can’t remember the last time I walked along the malecon at night without a sweatshirt. And some of those ocean breezes are quite strong as well.

What do you do in Mazatlan when the weather is so grim? There is a lot to do here aside from indulging in tequila or cerveza at the local cantina. It’s true that there are restaurants and bars in abundance. But February has been the perfect month to immerse oneself in the Mexican culture.

One of my favorite places here in Centro is the Plazuela Machado. While the days are relatively quiet aside from cruise ship days, the nights come alive with a flurry of activity. Music resonates from the numerous restaurants in the square. There are often musicians and dancers performing in the square itself. Vendors have their stalls resplendent with jewelry, clothing and souvenirs. Traffic is quite congested as pulmonias and taxis clog the narrow streets. And holidays find colorful displays of lights and festive decorations.

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Teatro Angela Peralta is conveniently located just off the square. The variety of entertainment here is absolutely amazing. Sunday afternoons feature classical music. I attended a concert of Handel’s water music and the renowned Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra pales in comparison to this performance. On Friday night I attended Los Diez Pianos and was totally enchanted with the music and the vocalists.

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Another favorite venue is El Recreo. I’ve gone to movies and jazz jam sessions here. There are a variety of other activities such as travelogues, fashion shows, yoga, Spanish classes and other musical events that are held here. Also popular is a book swap. The snowbirds all flock to El Recreo during the winter.

Museo de Arte is home to numerous musical and dance performances. Many are free or charge a nominal admission fee. I even attended a play there where the dialogue was entirely in Spanish. Tonight I’ll be going to a guitar festival.

Of course February began with a bang with the celebration of Carnaval. Over half a million people lined the streets to attend the main parade. I also went to the second parade and it too was crowded. The fireworks were awesome and the music was excellent, highlighted by a performance by BandaMS. There were other events held at various places as well. Busloads of tourists came to Mazatlan for this popular festival.

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I did escape to sunshine and soaring temperatures one weekend when I went to Culiacan to spend time with my family. It’s interesting how you go a few miles inland and north and the humidity drops and the heat rises. We spent quite a few hours outdoors as we were at an event at my grandson’s school, the same school where I taught when I first came to Mexico. In this photo my grandson is sporting his medal.

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I belong to a Red Hat group and we get together for lunch twice a month. We all wear purple and red clothing and jewelry. We even accessorize our purses and wallets in these colors. We go to different restaurants and always have our photo taken.

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I also belong to the Mazatlan Solo Snowbird group. In addition to the monthly meet and greet, this past week we went on a day trip to El Quelite. This charming town is one of the magic towns in Mexico and we are transported back in time to a place where the natural beauty has been preserved and there is not an Oxxo in sight.

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I also volunteer in a kitchen at a Christian mission in my neighborhood. At the moment there are approximately 150 young adults from countries all over the world. Some live at the mission and study there. Others come and go for days or weeks. The program offered provides a wonderful opportunity for people to experience life in another culture.

I still play Hand and Foot with my friends out in Sabalo Country. I had never heard of this game until I arrived in Mazatlan almost three years ago. Until then I had only been an ardent bridge player up north, especially in Leavenworth.

One of my neighbor’s has a catering company. In addition to buying delicious prepared food from her, I enjoy her weekly luncheons. In the past there had been a mixed market, but it has evolved more into a social gathering place and a book swap.

If there were more hours in a day, I could be playing bridge and cribbage. I could be attending numerous fundraisers and musical events. I could be spending hours on the beach daily instead of the mere one day at Stone Island earlier this month. I could be doing more exploring on my own although I did get to Villa Union a couple of weeks ago. I could go more often to the air-conditioned malls.

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However I am determined to focus more on my writing. When I am at home, I am working on my book or on a blog post, except for the courses I take on the internet through coursera. I just completed a course from Stanford on nutrition and this week I start a course on relationships from University of Toronto.

The weather this month may have been dreary, but my life certainly is far from dreary.

My Weekend in Culiacan

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My Weekend in Culiacan

My travels began with an Uber to Central on Saturday where I boarded an ETN/Turistar at 10:30 in the morning. The drive to Culiacan was enjoyable. Traffic was light and we actually arrived early. Juan picked me up and minutes later I was home with my family.

I hadn’t seen them since April and was amazed at how tall my nietos had grown. At 8, 5 and 3 they are active and rambunctious and I wish I had only a smidgeon of their energy.

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On Saturday night friends arrived with their two sons. While 5 energetic boys played together, we adults indulged in a rousing game of Maraton, similar to Trivial Pursuit but played in Spanish. By some miracle this gringa actually won the game! Perhaps it was all the tacos, Mexican candy and cerveza that fortified me as the game took just short of 4 hours to play.

The next morning we were up early as we went to church. Juan plays the keyboard and Lucila sings. Here’s a shot of Angelito helping out on the keyboard.

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After church we went to a delightful restaurant called La Cocinita del Medio. While we waited for our table, the kids had a great time in the play area.

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Lunch was delicious…………..machaca, frijoles, huevos, tamales and tortillas. On our way back to the car, we stopped to check out some of the animals.

Sunday was Lucila’s birthday as well as being New Years Eve. After a sumptuous dinner and the smashing of a pinata it was time for cake.

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Out came the traditional grapes before midnight. And soon it was 2018, although my two youngest nietos weren’t quite awake at that hour. Indeed Jose Agustin had asked me to tuck him in shortly after 11 pm.

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Some of the guests slept over and the next morning there were 5 boys having breakfast together.

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Visiting with family continued throughout the day and evening. We had dinner with family at the home of Juan’s father. Late at night Angelito was still raring to go and posed for this picture.

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All too soon it was Tuesday and I was headed to Central to board a bus back to Mazatlan. It was definitely the nicest New Years weekend I have had in years and I look forward to my next visit to Culiacan.

Has It Really Been That Long?

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My friend Mitch commented on my wall the other day that it has been just over ten years since the auction closed down. Auctions were a big part of our lives back then. Mitch worked at Wachniak’s in Winnipeg. And my friends and I went to these auctions hunting for treasures for our E-Bay businesses as well as for ourselves. We’ve all had so many changes in our lives since then. Partners, occupations and residences have all changed. All that is left are the memories of another lifetime.

Today my friend Kathy posted that her dog is still enjoying the many toys I gave her when Koal left us. And that was just over nine years ago, although sometimes my heart aches like it was just yesterday. My life has changed so much since then. Travels and people and adventures have made the time pass by way too quickly.

The last time I had Christmas dinner with my children was eight years ago. We actually enjoyed it together a week early, as a friend and I were off to Cuba for Christmas. I envy my friends who are able to celebrate the holidays with their families back home. For me it has just become an impossible dream at this point in my life.

Just over seven years ago I arrived in Culiacan to teach English. Juan was a colleague eager to improve his English, and my Spanish was non-existent. We became great friends and he and his wife adopted me into their family. Indeed their entire extended family has welcomed me. Over time, Juan and Lucila’s family has grown and I now have three precious nietos (grandsons). I am off to Culiacan in two weeks to ring in 2018 with my family. I can’t wait to see how much the kids have grown since I last saw them in April before I headed up north for the summer.

Do you recall that proverbial question that was asked at all job interviews……Where do you see yourself five years from now? Well, five years ago I never would have predicted that I’d be dividing my time between Mazatlan, Sinaloa and Leavenworth, Washington. Five years ago I was living in Guadalajara and had never even heard of Leavenworth.

So now I cannot fathom where I will be five years from now. Can you? But I am enjoying where I am right now………………

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Semana Santa

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Semana Santa

Semana Santa has arrived, that dreaded time of year when the beaches here in Mazatlan are packed due to the invasion of vacationers from inland areas in Mexico. Children have two weeks off from school and the beach is always a popular spot. Of course there is also the added nightmare of the rerouting of traffic in an attempt to alleviate some of the congestion.

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I will be hiding out at the pool in our condo complex for the next three days.

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Then I will escape to Culiacan for a long overdue visit with my Mexican family.  We will attend the procession Friday morning to the cathedral. There are also special masses to be celebrated. Although I am not Catholic, I enjoy attending church and observing the traditions with my family.

Semana Santa is a busy time for all modes of travel, especially buses. Buses are crowded and it’s necessary to purchase tickets in advance, as opposed to merely showing up at the bus station and purchasing a ticket at the last minute, which is usually the norm here.

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When I lived in Canada Cadbury creme eggs symbolized Easter. When I lived in Guadalajara empenadas were prominent. I miss both of these, but I do look forward to a pina colada raspado in Culiacan. But most of all, I look forward to spending Easter with my family. After all, family is what life is all about.