Friday, December 28, 2007

Mascota and Highway 70

I went up to Vallarta a few weeks ago to get my renewed passport with the plans of making a loop thru Mascota and beyond and returning to Melaque via highway 80. I stayed one night in Bucieras before picking up the passport and another night in Autlan on the way back.

Highway 70 leaves Vallarta just south of the Nayarit border, north of the airport and next to the new Vallarta Home Depot. It's about 40 kilometers of small towns and farmland before you start into the mountains. The road is actually very good except they have cut thru some impossible hillsides making yearly roadwork a necessity. Right now (November 2007) they are working on about five major sections both east and west of Mascota. Most of the work is on the west side.

After crossing the bridge below it mostly flat land until you drop back down into Mascota. Mascota is very Colonial in a non-fancy way with one church in ruins looking as if it was a religious center for the area many years ago. Lots of classic construction and cobble stone streets.

Mascota from above

Mascota church

Mascota plaza

Highway 70 bridge

Mascota trip webpage with more fotos

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The real Virgin of Guadalupe celebration

Mexico’s most colorful nationwide annual festival, the celebration of the appearance of the Virgin of Guadalupe, begins on December 1 thru the 12th. This year in Melaque they have been beginning the celebration at 5am in the morning with booming fireworks and audio announcments. Parades almost every day and streets are decorated in combination with Christmas - quite a scene. The fotos below are from last year and on the bottom is a link to short videos of this year.

Horse poop in front of my house

.... and it doen't smell bad either

Melaque, Jalisco Mexico

Friday, November 23, 2007

La Virgen De Guadalupe Spray

If you can’t make it to Guadelupe this year, don’t despair… there is a solution…

The Latino Comedy Project

Burro dice NO!

The tourist police in Melaque provide many services ... including dealing with reluctant residents

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Look what the cats brought home

One of these was ours but at this point I can't remember which. These suddenly started appearing at our doorstep a few months ago and has since stopped - probably because there are no more left in the neighborhood. They also brought home a bird a few days ago but I'm sure the dusters are much slower. Mystery never solved but I'm careful which of the neighbors I ask over.

Another day in Melaque - Costalegre

Sunday, October 14, 2007


This was my second Quinceanera and we got the invitation a few hours before the party. I don't know if that was an after thought or if they were still unsure they could capture the pig that was rumored to be running around the neighborhood early in the morning. The feast included many parts of pig and each way it's cooked has a different name.

A Quinceanera is the turning of age of a 15 year old girl and the celebration can be pretty elaborate - but this was simple. I had only met her parents so buying two blouses sized medium was not going to fit a large girl - I told them I'd help exchange later. The last Quinceanera the girl went to the dentist to get her 3 front teeth fixed.

The house was in the country beyond Jaluco and I was really surprised by the number of mosquitoes and 'no-see-ums'. The bugs finally chased us back to Melaque about sunset

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Mexico arrests 6 caught with more than 52,000 sea turtle eggs

The Associated Press
Published: August 25, 2007

MEXICO CITY: Police arrested six people suspected of trying to illegally sell more than 52,000 sea turtle eggs in southern Mexico, authorities said Saturday.

The five men and one woman were caught Friday transporting the eggs in dozens of plastic bags in the southern town of San Pedro Huamelula, Mexico's Public Security Department said in a news release. The department did not release any further information.

Mexico is a major nesting area for several species of sea turtles, which are endangered and protected by law. Harvesting or selling their eggs is punishable by up to nine years in prison and fines.

Still, officials seize thousands of turtle eggs at markets each year in Mexico, where they are considered a delicacy.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Summer vacation almost over

Well this is the last week of summer vacation in Mexico and the beaches will get quiet again. It's been a pretty busy summer here in Melaque despite (or because of) the heat and humidity.

I got back from 3 weeks in Seattle not long ago and this weather has made me not want to do anything - including Blogging. Even before I left we had a month of overbearing weather - but no hurricanes yet. September is usually the worst month for bad weather so we'll see how global warming effects the west coast.

I walked the beach to Barra de Navidad the other day and that place is getting fancier by the month - and more expensive. Taking the local bus back is the best way to survive unless you make the walk in the morning. Only cost 4.5 pesos.

We have a friend building a shipping container home in Cuastecomate and that has been a very interesting project to watch develope. I've posted comments and some fotos on our Costalegre Message board - Container Living thread

My newest project is to build a ramada (palapa) off the back of our house for shade and rain protection. I got the wood (palm) framework from neighbors who just took down a palapa in favor of brick walls. Will have a couple of local guys do the palapa 'thatching'. Hope to put a brick patio underneath it and have a second outdoor area with privacy. Cool!

Friday, June 08, 2007

Remember US government surplus food in the '60's

Here is the Mexico version - altho you have to pay a little. This foto is of 2 allotments each at 20 pesos so total was 40. The distribution is pretty erratic and sometimes it's just milk or milk with cookies. We were able to get 2 this time because the program is winding down for summer vacation which starts in about 2 weeks.

What am I doing being a small part of this. Well, we have 5 kids with 4 below secondary and all kids are eligible "if they have the 20 pesos". Mari would not think of passing these offers up. 'Desarrollo Integral de la Familia' (DIF) of Jalisco is who provides these foods.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Big Band 30's and 40's Music

I was driving home through downtown Melaque Saturday night after beers at Frank's. The streets and Plaza were full of tourists and locals enjoying the cool of the evening. Passing cars blaring Rancho music I decided to see what was on the radio and ad a another dimension to this interesting scene. To my surprise they were playing Big Band swing and jazz from the 1940's. The local Cihuatlan station plays a lot of music from the US on weekends and even has a news section in English that I've run into but have no idea of the schedule

It's heating up in Melaque - or I should say the humidity is rising. The last two nights required air conditioning to avoid sleeping in a pool of sweat. Hey - only 4-5 more months of it along with higher elecric bills.

Friday, May 25, 2007

The history of Beer in Mexico

by Groupo Modelo

The Spanish Conquest

The first brewery in the Americas was founded two decades after the fall of the Aztec city of Tenochtitlán.

On 16 July 1542, the Emperor Carlos V granted Alonso de Herrera a permit for his brewery on the condition that he gave a third of the profits to the Crown and and undertook to transport the vats and other equipment from Europe.

Two years later, on 15 May 1544, Alonso de Herrera was able to report to Carlos V that the business was a great success. This was confirmed on 5 September 1550 when royal officials were ordered to collect the value of a third of the beer brewed in the city for the Crown.

After this auspicious beginning, however, little is known of the history of beer in New Spain. It is possible that the authorities cracked down on its consumption, and in any case it had to compete with a great variety of traditional Pre-Hispanic fermented drinks.

Among the most popular during the viceregal period were such indigenous brews as chicha, zambumbia, and tesgüino.

The Colonial Period

It is hard to estimate the number of small breweries established in Mexico during this period. However, Von Humboldt's figure of 71,806 bottles of beer imported through the port of Veracruz in 1802 suggests that consumption was not inconsiderable.

Grupo Modelo web site

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Baja California 1952

Just too cool not to post this. The earliest I was there was '62 and no further than Rosarita. This is back when you really had to work to 'do Baja'. it even comes with almost surfing music but neither surf muisc or rock-n-roll had been invented then

This is a short movie made by my grandfather "Ray Haller" in 1952. He and his friends made a trek down from California to Baja California to fish, hunt and explore this region.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Yakult for your Acidophilus fix

So this is our newest thing. They are sold in every store I've been into. A good way to get your acidophilus fix and keep the flora in your intestines balanced. It's not easy to find yogurt or even milk with acidophilus in Mexico - and we don't drink much milk. A good option for those who are lactose intolerant. The little jars cost from 40 to 60 pesos.

Why drink Yakult?

As part of your lifestyle to maintain a healthy digestive system. That’s why. A healthy digestive system is important for your, well… health. Unfortunately, various aspects of everyday life can upset the health of our gut. Common culprits include inactivity, antibiotics, stress, excess alcohol, a poor diet, smoking, overseas travel and lack of sleep.

One key to keeping your digestive system happy despite these inevitable hitches is to maintain a healthy balance of gut bacteria. Your intestines contain trillions of bacteria – more bacteria, in fact, than there are humans on this planet! There are good bacteria and there are bad bacteria, and the two constantly compete for space in the intestines. The key is to help the good bacteria keep the upper hand, thus crowding out the bad guys.

That’s where Yakult comes in. It is a probiotic. It tops up the good bacteria that occur naturally in your system. And it helps keep the bad ones at bay. And by maintaining the healthy balance of the gut flora, Yakult enables your body to maximise its own natural defenses. All from one small bottle a day

Yakult Mexico

Yakult UK

Friday, May 04, 2007

Esperanza and her Blog - Mexico Cooks

A very interesting person that knows Mexico inside and out. Check the link at the bottom for her cooking Blog

Twenty-six years of life in Mexico give me an extraordinary perspective on life, cultures, and cuisines in this complex and glorious country.

I speak native-level Spanish and am a Mexican citizen. Mexican history, native and mestizo cultures, and Mexican esoterica are my passions. Want to know about a custom or a tradition or a festival? Just ask me!

I've eaten in 28 of Mexico's 31 states (plus the Distrito Federal--Mexico City) and continue to be a serious student of Mexico's cuisines. Need to know about a particular herb or regional dish or seasonal meal? Let me know.

I offer specialty guided tours in Mexico, including hands-on culinary adventure tours, extraordinary tours to the homes of artists and artisans, and off-the-tourist-track adventures in the city of Guadalajara and the state of Michoacán. By all means contact me when you're ready for a Mexico you scarcely knew existed.

As you read Mexico Cooks!, you'll discover your own passions about Mexico.

Pase usted--está en su casa.*


Mexico Cooks

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Holy Cross Day (Día de la Santa Cruz)

May 3rd - Holy Cross Day (Día de la Santa Cruz)

Buildings under construction are decorated by construction workers placing crosses made by coloured papers & flowers. Picnics and fireworks follow celebrating this day dedicated to masons & builders. Mari just laughs at another fiesta because there are so many. Another reason to relax, have a good time and close the banks in Mexico.

Friday, April 27, 2007


A couple of days ago I came down with what seems to be my bi-anual bout with intestinal infection - otherwise known as 'the revenge'. This time with a bit of a fever, weakness and frequent trips to the bathroom. Mari thinks it was 'animalitos' or intestinal parasites and amebas. After drinking 2 cups of her Epazote tea each day I'm back to normal much faster than I have been in the past. I've read that some people think the taste of the tea is too strong but I thought it was pleasant - like a strong chamomile tea with a hint of anise.

From the Tropical Plant Database
In herbal medicine systems throughout Latin America epazote is a popular household remedy used to rid children and adults of intestinal parasites, worms and amebas. The plant is also used in cooking - it is said to prevent intestinal gas if the leaves are cooked and/or eaten with beans and other common gas-forming foods. The leaves and seeds of epazote have long been used in Central and South American medicine as a vermifuge (to expel intestinal worms). In Brazilian herbal medicine, it is considered an important remedy for worms (especially hookworms, round worms and tape worms) and is also used for coughs, asthma, bronchitis and other upper respiratory complaints; for angina, to relieve intestinal gas, to promote sweating and as a general digestive aid. It is used for similar conditions in Peruvian herbal medicine today.

RainTree - Tropical Plant Database

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The English-Spanish Dictionary of Health Related Terms

This free to download PDF file is very professionally done and stays simple. I think it's good for generally studying your Spanish or specifically medical if you have an interest.

Here's from the web page ...

The English-Spanish Dictionary of Health Related Terms was developed as an instrument for health care personnel and other professionals working with the Latino population in the United States. The main purpose of the dictionary is to strengthen communication between Spanish-speaking populations and the health workers serving them, and facilitate dialogue by reducing cultural and linguistic barriers.The first edition of the English-Spanish Dictionary of Health Related Terms was based on the “English-Spanish Glossary for Health Aids,” published in 1999 by the Primary and Rural Health Care Systems Branch, California Department of Health Services.This third edition includes nearly 14,000 terms, about 4,000 more than the 2nd edition. The majority of the new terms are related to emergency and disaster preparedness. In addition there is a comprehensive list of terms related to anatomy, signs and symptoms, communicable diseases, chronic diseases, maternal and child health, nutrition, occupational health, environmental health, oral health, mental health, substance abuse, domestic violence, and traditional medicine. Also, many popular terms used in Mexico and Central America to describe signs and symptoms of illness have been included in the dictionary.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A Mexican flower garden

Something about our garden is typically Mexican to me. Even though there is earth to plant the flowers around the perimeter they get placed all over in containers. The lawn can't be used for kids to play but that might be to keep the kids out so they don't destroy everything playing soccer. Anyway, Mari really likes her flowers and we get them for only $20-30 pesos down the street or they are given by friends. Need to buy a few plastic pots so she doesn't start with the pots and pans and old tin cans.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Sonora Auto Permits

"Only Sonora" moves south and it's easier to visit Sonora

Visitors to the interior of Sonora are now able to drive directly to such cities as Guaymas, San Carlos, Hermosillo, Bahia de Kino, Caborca, Father Kino Missions, Magdalena and Santa Ana without the time-consuming process of obtaining a car permit. With the movement of the "Only Sonora" vehicle checkpoint, visitors to the state will no longer have to obtain a car permit in order to travel south of Nogales.

Now, paperwork to obtain the decal for visiting the interior of the state of Sonora will be done at a new checkpoint located at kilometer 98 on Highway 15, just south of the Guaymas-bypass on the road between Ciudad Obregon and Empalme. ( This check point will take paperwork from vehicles that are either entering the free zone to stay or returning to the United States ) The change is effective December 15, 2005.

Sonora will temporarily continue to staff a booth at the 21 Km. checkpoint that will take paperwork from vehicles that are returning to the US.

Minimally, the elimination of this paperwork means a savings of 15 minutes. However, around certain holidays, the measure may save visitors several hours.

The "Only Sonora" program, unique in Mexico, allows Americans and Canadians to visit Sonora without paying the customary (federal) fee of $27. "Our intention here is to make it easier for Americans and Canadians to visit Sonora," said Gov. Eduardo Bours. "This measure should cut anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour off a trip to Hermosillo, Bahia de Kino, Guaymas or San Carlos.

As importantly, it removes psychological barriers -- the less paperwork required for people to get from one place to another, the better. Sonora -- and other "free zones" in Mexico's border areas -- have experienced incredible growth when we eliminate paperwork. By moving "Only Sonora" south, we're confident that we'll inspire new visitors and bring our states closer together."

Travelers intending to go beyond Sonora will still have to obtain a so-called "Banjercito" federal permit.

A permit is not required for travel to Rocky Point and other border cities, which are classified as "free-zones." Required for a permit: proof of US residency; a driver's license, proof of vehicle ownership.

Motorists entering Sonora through San Luis Rio Colorado, Sonoyta, Sasabe, Nogales, Naco and Agua Prieta will not need paperwork for their vehicles, either, if their destination is before the new 'Only Sonora' checkpoint.

"Only Sonora" requires motorists to show proof of US residency; a visa (immigration permit) to visit Mexico; a driver's license and proof of vehicle ownership.

Americans, Canadians and other foreign citizens going beyond the Kilometer 21 Checkpoint into Mexico's interior will still be required to obtain a visa ( immigration permit ), which is valid for up to 6 months and good for multiple entries. The Banjercito booth will remain at KM21.

Neither a vehicle permit nor a visa is required to visit Rocky Point (Puerto Peñasco) and other border cities which are classified as "free-zones".

Friday, March 09, 2007

No-See-Ums (hequenes) in Mexico

August 4, 2001
by Kate Nelson
Scripps Howard News Service

How do I know it's summer? Let me count the welts.

Up and down my arms. Around my ankles. Along my hairline. In a particularly difficult-to-scratch point on my back. And clustered around my belly button.

The "no-see-ums" are at it again. This year's twist was the bite that caused my left forearm to swell up for one day before festering into quarter-sized blisters. Lovely.

The itching sensation of each no-see-um bite can last for a week, and fighting the urge to scratch can turn your brain into a searing mass of agony. You will lose sleep. You will snap at co-workers. You will develop scars that can last for months.

Biting midges of barely discernible heft wreak this havoc all across the Southwest. Dubbed "no-see-ums" in some areas, they're called "hequenes" in Mexico and punkies in Britain. The females, seeking blood to complete their reproductive cycle, feed on pets, birds and, tragically, gardeners.

No-see-ums thrive in coastal areas, so beware if you're a besieged gardener who dreams of getting away from the bugs by snorkeling in the tropics. Yet despite their coastal leanings, they've also learned to like canyons and the shifty topsoil of the desert. In the booming cities of the West, that means they get the best of both worlds: shifty topsoil and lots of blood to suck.

A survival guide:

Kill and repel them:
Hummingbirds can eat hundreds of no-see-ums a day, so hang a few feeders near the nasties' hangouts.

Consider getting a B12 injection to alter the flavor of your blood. Adding brewer's yeast to your diet can accomplish a similar effect. Burn citronella candles or incense. Buy a variety of aromatic oils and lotions to slather on your skin. Among them: Avon Skin-So-Soft; the essential oils of tea tree, lavender or pennyroyal; and a pungent concoction called Buzz Away, containing cedarwood, eucalyptus, lemongrass and peppermint oils, available at health-food stores in wipes, sprays and skin patches. (Smith & Hawken sells a similar mix of eucalyptus, rosemary, bay and olive oils called Bug Off.)

Be aware that some commercial repellents feature the chemicals Deet or Permethrin, which carry health risks for children. And pregnant women should never use pennyroyal.

Some American Indians recommend smearing yourself with bear grease. Navajos fill a tin can with sheep dung, set it on fire and stand in the smoke. Hey, if the biting gets bad enough, give it a whirl.

Treat the wounds:
Stock up on one or all of these: Calamine lotion, Benadryl, creams that contain cortisone or menthol, Anbesol gum-pain reliever, Chloraseptic throat soother, a pocket clip called After-Bite, and an herbal extract called Itch-Away that contains the leaves of grindelia flower, plantain and witch hazel.

I've heard that Old Spice stick deodorant can ease the pain, as can a paste made from meat tenderizer. And never underestimate the power of ice packs and a bottle of your favorite liquor.

Be patient:
No-see-ums are indulging in a breeding frenzy right now. Soon, they'll die off or at least thin out. Afterward, you'll still be here, welts and all.

(Kate Nelson is a master gardener in Albuquerque, N.M. Send e-mail to

Biting midges, Culicoides furens (Poey), are also known as "no-see-ums" in the U.S., "hequenes" in Mexico, and "punkies" in Britain.

Buzz Away, which contains cedarwood, eucalyptus, lemongrass and peppermint oils, is effective against midges.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Into a Desert Place - Good Book

I've had this book for over a year and kept passing it by because it's about Baja which I'm not real interested in living on the central coast of Mexico. Getting a little short of reading material I picked it up a few days ago and was pleasantly surprised.

If you just like an adventure it's good. It also goes into why an unlikely guy would do such a thing, how he builds courage and confidence, goes about getting a bit of money and sponsors ... and then setting off. I'm only 10 days into his trip but expect the rest to be as good as the first 4-5 chapters. - by Graham Mackintosh

Click on the book above and read a few more reviews at

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Playa Azul - Michoacan

This was my second time in Playa Azul and I'm a little more impressed than I was last summer. In the winter there are people there, more businesses are open and they keep the town clean. Last summer it looked abandoned. The beach is long and flat with no protection from the open ocean. We watched a number of fishing pangas struggling to get out over the waves. Had a nice sunset but can't recommend a beach restaurant since our dinner was very average. The food stands in the center of town are good for juice and coffee in the morning.

Playa Azul fotos Link

Intersection where highway 200 turns to Playa Azul

The center of beach activity

One very flat and uninteresing beach

Sun setting from a beach palapa restaurant

Fishermen going out for the evening haul

Monday, January 29, 2007

Playa La Ticla - Surfing the Michoacan Coast

We Just got back from an 8 day trip down the coast of Michoacan to Playa Azul and up to the Patzcuaro area. I'll put the La Ticla and Playa Azul sections here since I don't really have a blog for coastal Michoacan.

La Ticla is off highway 200 between San Juan de Alima and El Faro (the light-house). It has a very interesting new road in from the highway not suggested for large motor homes or 5th wheels. The road is narrow and has a few very tight turns. The beach was full of camping surfers in mid-January so there would be safety in numbers against thieves and trouble makers. Not a real pretty beach but regularly good for surfing.

Playa La Ticla foto Link

Fotos of the surfers

The beach bar

River mouth

Good but not real large surf

Life on the beach

The construction of the house finished in April 2011 and I'm pretty much settled in. As of March 2014 I'm in preparation for rain mode for this coming summer. That includes sealing and painting things and dealing with drainage issues from last year.

Sparks Mexico Web
Manzanillo Information
House building in Pinal Villa

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