Sunday, December 14, 2008

Papaya's in our future back yard

The papaya plant is a large herb that grows rapidly, reaching heights of more than twenty-five feet and producing a soft wood. The huge fingered leaves form a spiral similar to those of the palm tree. The plant grows quickly from seed and bears fruit within a year, continuing to do so for another two years before the tree is cut down. The tree grows best in temperatures of 25°C (77°F)and does not like storms or winds. It also requires good drainage as the roots will rot if they become water-logged.

This papaya field is a block away from the new house and I expect to make use of a few of them. I also hope we have room enough in our yard to grow a few. I've had a few starts before but didn't know that I was tending a male tree that won't bear fruit. Growing tropical fruit will be a gas.

Almost as far as you can see

A couple are ripe so won't be long

Papaya field in Pinal Villa, Melaque, Costalegre

Friday, December 05, 2008

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Guadalupe day, December 12, is Mexico’s most important religious holiday. On this day people from all over Mexico travel to the chapel Tepayac Hill in Mexico City, where the mother of Jesus is said to have appeared before an Indian peasant named Juan Diego back in 1531. Mary told Juan to go to the bishop and ask that a church be built on the hill so she could be close to her people. The bishop, needing proof of this vision, asked Juan to have a miracle performed by Mary. Juan returned to Tepayac Hill and found roses growing where there had only been cacti. Juan wrapped the roses in his tilma (cape) along with a picture of Mary to show the bishop. He was convinced and the chapel was built.

This hoilday has one of the longest celebrations, starting about a week before the 12th with cohetes (fireworks) early morning, evening and just about any time somebody feels like it. In Melaque there will be parades, school activities and feasting on the 12th.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bottles on the rebar Quiz

I've heard tons of stories of why the bottles are placed on top of rebar on the roofs in Mexico. My builder just gave me the only answer that makes any sense to me. No it is not to keep them dry and it's not to bring attention that the house is unfinished. You guys get to make a guess or two ....

No more quesses - OK

Rebar sticking out of the roof makes a great lightning rod .... and either glass or plastic will act as insulators

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Space Needle in Melaque?

If you really need to see the ocean but build on the other side of the highway in Melaque ... this is what you are forced to do. I just wonder after a few trips up those stairs ... will it continue to be used. Then again, they may put a beacon in it and the Bahia de Navidad will have it's first lighthouse.

Space Needle in Melaque

Saturday, November 01, 2008

¡Vota Obama!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Sunday at Tenacatita with Ron and the kids

Ron, a long time buddy, just got down from Seattle and spent a week with me here in Melaque. He and his wife Dora who is from Mexico are moving down once again and he will meet her in Vallarta in a few days. Vallarta has more jobs and they will be working ... but Vallarta is busy and crazy so Ron is not sure. Colima and/or Manzanillo might be the next location if Vallarta does not work out.

Anyway ... Ron and I took the kids up to Tenacatita last Sunday and had a great time. Seven kids total. Bought two barbecued chickens with rice, salad, salsa and tortillas ... to-go in Melaque to save a little money. Then just bought drinks in the restaurant. About 200 pesos in the restaurant and 200 pesos for food to-go with extra salad and rice.

Ron finally bought a digital camera and the last two fotos are his. The first one is mine from the rocky point just to give some perspective of where we spent the day

Tenacatita from up above

The water dogs - Jania, Xiomara and Mia (with a choke hold on me)

The sand fleas - Marcos, Jania and Eddie

Tenacatita, Costalegre, Jalisco Mexico

Barack Obama 30 minute special

If you missed Obama's special last night or would like to watch it again ..

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

'Happy Families' by Carlos Fuentes

'Happy Families' by Carlos Fuentes
By Tim Rutten
October 22, 2008

It once was said of James Joyce that he had abandoned everything about the Scholastic philosophy of the High Middle Ages that suffused his education -- except its basic principles.

Carlos Fuentes, who turned 80 this year, is one of the surviving lions of a heroic generation that brought Latin American letters to global prominence and acclaim. Early in his career, he often spoke and wrote of the long cultural shadow cast by the Spanish Counter-Reformation's vain attempt to restore the lost medieval wholeness that Martin Luther shattered when he nailed his 95 Theses to Wittenburg's church door. All of Iberian culture -- and that of its daughter nations, like Fuentes' native Mexico -- the author argued, was, in some deep sense, the product of Catholic Spain's quixotic quest to put the social and intellectual toothpaste back in the tube.

Though Fuentes, like Joyce, remains a high modernist to the core, it's become increasingly clear that his own literary project -- 23 books now, with more in the pipeline -- is a part of that endeavor. "Happy Families," Fuentes' new book (superbly translated by the redoubtable Edith Grossman) is described as a collection of "stories." In recent interviews, however, the author has called it a "choral novel," which seems entirely apt. Sixteen dramatic vignettes involving contemporary Mexican families -- or people in social arrangements standing in for traditional families -- are linked by poetic "choruses" composed in free verse. The juxtapositions are typical of Fuentes: These are narratives focused deeply on his country's contemporary situation while simultaneously looking back into the traditions of Western letters and expressing themselves in the idiom of continental modernism. Though Fuentes routinely is linked with other Latin American writers of his generation, particularly his friend Gabriel García Márquez, his closest aesthetic antecedents and colleagues are Central European: Bloch, Kafka and, particularly, Milan Kundera.

Full LA Times article

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Bamboo in your yard

We have this beautiful clump of bamboo in the lot nextdoor and I would love to bring some over eventually. The problem is controlling it's growth. We had it in a garden when I was a kid but remember my parents cussing at it after a few years. I've read on the internet you can box it in with metal or cement but may have to go a meter deep. Anyone have experience with it?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Did I dump this Blog - Not really

It's just the construction project has finished it's third week and there were a few weeks before that of gathering permits, finding workers, checking my construction vocabulary and clearing the lots. It's not that nothing is going to be happening but I decided to focus the project on another page.

Building a house in Pinal Villa

It's been a lucky year for hurricanes here on the Pacific Central coast. Norbert took off to the west and then cut back towards Baja. Odile, which almost hit hurricane status died right off Colima so here we sit in the sunshine when were expecting flooding

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Condom-mobile missing in Mexico

October 1, 2008

MEXICO CITY--— Missing in Mexico: One truck carrying 5,000 condoms, 800 HIV tests and a 23-foot inflatable prophylactic.

The coordinator of an HIV/AIDS awareness tour, Polo Gomez, said Wednesday that the ‘‘Condomovil’’ was parked in front of a friend’s house in Mexico City when it disappeared Sunday evening. He believes the truck was stolen, but he doesn’t know why. Police are still investigating.

The truck should be easy to spot. It features painted images of a peeled banana, the exposed part shaped like a condom, and a shirtless man saying: ‘‘I protect myself. Do you?’’

Gomez estimated $19,000 worth of material is missing, including the truck, its contents and sound equipment. The United Nations AIDS program says there are some 200,000 people living with HIV in Mexico.

The Condomovil program has toured Mexico since 1998 promoting safe sex practices while distributing 1.2 million condoms to more than 700,000 people, Gomez said. The inflatable condom was used to draw attention from passers-by.

Gomez said a scheduled tour of Mexico’s south would likely be canceled unless the truck is found.

The group bought the truck with a grant from Mexico’s federal Health Department. The department also donated the 5,000 condoms in the truck when it went missing.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Dengue Inspection

Today we had a Dengue inspection to make sure our yards were not full of water collectors where mosquitoes lay eggs. This was not the usual young kids with bags of mosquito poison to dump in every receptacle including the well ... but just an inspection. I don't gather junk around the house like some in the neighborhood so I WON a certificate that we are Dengue free. Now I just hope the mosquitoes can read.

Melaque, Costalegre, Jalisco, Mexico

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Banamex 7.5 peso charges

I've seen the "warnings" come and go on various ATM machines for over 6 months ... but yesterday was the first time I had to choose ACCEPT the extra charges to continue. Other banks have had these charges for several years. 70 cents is not much but is per withdrawal so makes sense to withdraw the max.

It hasn't been processed thru my bank yet so don't know how/if the fee will show. Probably just as a larger withdrawal than $5000 pesos

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Independence Day - September 16th

On September 16th, 1810, Father Hidalgo started the Revolution that was to lead to Mexico's independence from Spain. He rang the church bells and called on the people to take up arms.

On the night of the 15th, the President comes out on the balcony of the National Palace and rings the same bell that Father Hidalgo rang in his church in Dolores. Then the President repeats some of Hidalgo's words, starting with: "Mexicans, Long Live Mexico!" (¡Mexicanos, que Viva México!).

Flag vendors are everywhere, the plaza, walking the streets and in front of Sorianas. Independence day is the 16th but at midnight of the 15th 'El Grito' will be given from the second floor of the Melaque municipio building facing the plaza.

Both days the stores are not allowed to sell liquor so you'd better stock up for any home celebrations or just go out.
Ok, so my warning about liquor sales was totally wrong as there was open liquor sales both days. I've since heard that even election day there is no restricted sales. Now if I can remember who told me the first tale ???

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Home Made Tamales

Just find yourself a huge sack of fresh corn and a large family and go to work, and everyone did including the three year old. The smaller ears just get shucked and husks thrown away. The husks from the larger ones are cut evenly across the bottom and later stuffed with the ground corn mix.

The corn is cut off the cob and them put in a grinder or blender. A blender was used this time since they couldn't find a grinder. Mix with milk, butter, sugar and a little cinnamon and start stuffing the husks.

They should have had a larger cook pot for as many tamales as they made because the ones on top were not quite done and water had to be added a couple of times so the steamer didn't go dry. Still made a great evening feast !!

Whole family working - more in the wings

Strip the kernals

Stuff the husks

Get them hot out of the pot

Tamales in Melaque, Costalegre, Mexico

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Central Cultural Cihuatlan

The plaque and paintings are on the entrance to the Cultural Center in Cihuatlan that's located on the corner near the central traffic light. I've seen a display of very old Cihuatlan fotos in one building but they were covered with thin plastic that gave off too many reflections to get good pictures. Usually after school classes are held there along with meetings.

Cihuatlan, Costalegre, Jalisco Mexico

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Primary school books

Here`s an assortment of Primary school books that are free from the Mexican governemnt. Usually different colors for each grade - and nice art work. The bindings of these paperbacks are the weak point so every year I drill holes in them so Mari can bind them together with string.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Primary School Stove Fund

Attention: We have reached our goal for the stove. The PayPal page is closed. If you are local to Melaque and would like to contribute to kitchen repairs and/or paint - please contact me. Gracias a todos

We are trying to buy a $300us, 6 burner stove for Primeria Juan Escutia here in Melaque. We've raised about $200 but could use a little more help. Would like to get this stove by next week so I will disable this 'ad' at the end of the weekend (24th). Promise to post pictures of delivery and installation. Any excess money will be used to re-balance previous contributions. - Thanks

Contribute to the Primeria Juan Escutia stove fund via PayPal
.... and see some fotos of the kids

Here's the story (from our Message Board)

There are actually two schools on the campus. Virginia Torres is the morning section and Juan Escutia is afternoon. Each section has a coopertiva of the parents and separate kitchens. Kind of strange but that's the way it is.

The Juan Escutia section does not have enough support to get a new (or good used) stove. Each kitchen is rented out by the school to someone but there is not enough money in it without a varied menu which requires a stove.

Friends and I bought a fridge and blenders for the school last year but this year we need wider support. Maybe the new Rotary can pick up on this or simply the larger population of full time gringos that now exists.

I went to Manzanillo with the woman that runs the kitchen (Mari's sister) shopping for stoves and found that you can buy a basic six burner cheaper in Melaque than the big box stores. Big box stores don't have the variety and very little BASIC.

We found a number of 6 burner stoves at the muebles (furniture/appliance) store about a block towards the plaza from the old Bigotes in the $3000 peso range ($300us).

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Dealing with Telmex

I lost my wireless modem in an electrical storm about two months ago and never considered that Telmex would replace them for free. You just have to jump through the hoops that phone support wants you to and be patient.

In my case I had borrowed a non-wireless modem so I'd not be off line in the meantime. I called them up with the bad modem connected so I could report what the lights were doing and what color. The answer/diagnoses I got was "we have line/switch problems in your area and please wait 72 hours for it to be fixed". I say OK and immediately switch modems and plan to wait 72 hours and call them back. After 4 days I called them back to find that they monitored my line and saw I had Internet activity so the problem solved itself (they sure didn't). This time I had to explain I was using a second modem and that`s when they decided to send a technician. Very nice guy, hardly looked at my old modem and promptly swapped them for a newer model.

For the last few weeks I've also had intermittant or very slow connection speeds and it continued with this new modem. I decided to plug everything into my second phone jack in the living room .... and WA-LA, connected at full speed. I replaced the phone cable and the wall jack and now things are good.

A Dealing with Telmex story - Mexico

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Evening rains

I hear people up and down the coast tell stories of afternoon/evening rains almost like Hawaii. Maybe they are residents or maybe only short time visitors. Don't know but it sure is not that way here in Melaque or even Manzanillo. Proximity to mountains that would draw the rain out, ocean currents, Colima volcano ??

In this area it totally depends on the weather passing by in the Pacific and can rain any time of day or for days. This morning after about 5 days of sun I was awakened at 6am by the sound of thunder which soon turned into a downpour with lightening for about 3 hours. Time to unplug all the electrics

Waiting for the next weather front ...

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Cell Phone Scams

So what are you going to do with a small town Mexican woman even at age 54

Mari won a cel fone in the local school lottery (Nokia no less) and it works fine. I don't know how universal these things are but it was originally Telcel. Soon after winning this thing she gets a message or call stating she has won a new Volkswagen and just needs to deposit $3100 pesos in an account at Elecktra. Supposedly this extra fee was because she didn't respond to the original message and caused a delay.

She asked for the $3100 and I told her they were just rateros on a scam. She called back and they said if she would buy $1000 pesos of MoviStar Cel time she could also qualify. We don't have MoviStar service here and no one sells it. Next it was Telcel so we bought the cards, she gave them the numbers .... and expects to have a new Volkswagen delivered tomorrow.

I figured a lesson of $1000 pesos is better than $3100. I expect no car and her cel cards are or soon will be useless. A shiny new Jetta tomorrow I doubt


P.S. -- No car as of yet but she is working on it so diligently that she almost has me convinced she may get one. Supposed to be talking with a lawyer in Guadalajara. There's lots of stories of this same scam on the Internet
P.S.S -- Mari had to admit finally that was only a lesson. A bit embarrased she was ;)

Return to Mexico

Back after 3 weeks in Seattle feeling that I had very little to say. Anymore stays in the US feel like the twilight zone or necessary business trip. It surely is not a vacation.

Flight costs are up about 20% over last year and connection options seemed fewer. Gas prices over $4 and general costs of everything except electronics well above Mexico levels. But it was good to see family, friends and get business out of the way.

Now just getting used to the heat and humidity in Melaque on the coast and have not used my air conditioning yet. Makes for a few nights of interrupted sleep but electric costs will be down.

So next will be about our Cell Phone scam that I could not talk Mari out of.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Danza de los Pescadores - Veracruz

This is my favorite dance of the Primaria graduation ceremonies that was held last Tuesday here in Melaque. Next year, as the oldest and graduating class, these girls will be in uniform marching which is much less appealing to me.

I focused on the girls but there are also boys dressed as fisherman trying to catch fish in their net (bottom Foto). Girls are just prettier and Lesely was one of the 'fishermens wives' this year. We had to stop by the grocery store to buy fruit for her basket. Amazing what a hairdo and makeup do for these 13 year olds.

There are a few YouTube videos of this dance but nothing I found worth linking to. It's standard for many Baile folklórico groups around the country.


The girls

The girls

The girls

Fish caught in the net

Monday, June 30, 2008

How to cool off in the heat

A $10 plastic alberca from Sorianas, a sun lounge, garden hose and you have a water park (tobogane). I couldn't fit the larger pool in my van that cost $20 but this seem to work for the kids. It's not broken yet. Long summer to go

Melaque Costalegre

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Am I ever going to ground my circuits

I have to make this a project soon. Not only it's tiring but also expensive to keep getting my electronics repaired - if they can be. 3 weeks ago I lost my computer power supply and my wireless router. That was caused by the first rain of the year causing shorts in the towns (Melaque) electrical system.

A few days ago I lost my TV and DVD player due to nearby lightning strikes. They are in the repair shop right now.

I will drive a rod into the ground and run a ground wire to it from the panel but also from the outlets that have electronics - because there are only 2 wires in the house.

I promise

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

I'm Voting Republican

You'll get what you deserve!!

Malagua (jellyfish) and the Barra lagoon

This Sunday we headed for the west end of Melaque beach and immediatly were told by people and even the restaurant the water was full of Malagua (mal agua or jellyfish). This term refers to any sized jellyfish but here they are small and you seldom see them, you just feel the stings. The kids were only in a few minutes and all had multiple small red sting marks.

Marcos showed up about the time we decided to go to the lagoon in Barra de Navidad. Evidently these little drifting creatures end up along the beach due to wind and wave action and don't make it into protected areas like the lagoon.

So we had to rent a table and pay for parking near the Barra swimming beach ... but it's great for the kids and even Mia (3 years) could flop around in the shallows. Bring your own beer and food ... and mangos on a stick are only 5 pesos.

Barra de Navidad lagoon swimming beach

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Red Foot Bridge

Interesting foot bridge from La Boquita beach across the canal to the Juluapan Peninsula on the north end of Santiago Bay, Manzanillo Colima

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Nezahualcoyotl Poem on 100 Peso Note

Nezahualcoyotl was ruler of the city-state of Texcoco in pre-Columbian Mexico. Unlike other high-profile Mexican figures from the century preceding the Spanish Conquest, Nezahualcoyotl was not a Mexica; his people were the Acolhua, another Nahuan people settled in the eastern part of the Valley of Mexico, settling on the eastern side of Lake Texcoco.

Nezahualcoyotl has been remembered as a poet. This is because a number of poems in the Classical Nahuatl language written in the 16th and 17th centuries have been ascribed to him. One of his poems is almost hidden on the Mexican 100 Peso Note

Amo el canto de zenzontle
Pájaro de cuatrocientas voces,
Amo el color del jade
Y el enervante perfume de las flores,
Pero más amo a mi hermano: el hombre.

I love the song of the mockingbird,
Bird of four hundred voices,
I love the color of the jadestone
And the enervating perfume of flowers,
But more than all I love my brother: man.

Wikipedia on Nezahualcoyotl

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Surfing road trip down highway 200

This video is about a surfing road trip down highway 200 with the first stop at Arroyo Seco about 45 minutes north of where I live in Melaque. Pascuales Colima is their next stop - and although the surf does not look great, they are just in time for a local festival. Following stop is Michoacan and playa Rio Nexpa for some good waves and hammock time.

Nicely done video and sure feels like Mexico.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The kids are over

It's the weekend and the kids come over for some space. 15 people living in their little house lately and watching what you want on TV or using the bathroom can be an issue. They also come over for warm showers in the winter, bathroom because theirs is busy .... and to do computer homework (well mostly homework). Tomorrow, Sunday, is beach day.

Kids, Melaque, Costalegre, shoes

Friday, April 25, 2008

Ron with 6 fingers - but wants to come back

He's just a Mexico kind of guy

This is a guy that married a Mexican, still has 2 places in San Miguel, teaches ESL in Seattle and has had schools in Mexico teaching English and Spanish. Could this guy be your teacher. Melaque on the Costalegre is his favorite.

What does that T-Shirt say
Costalegre, Melaque, Mexico

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Coatepec, Veracruz - Pueblo Mágico 2007

I know these tourist produced videos only show the best - but that's what I do with most of my fotos. This one is especially nice and the East Coast is calling. Just that there's so much I haven't seen in Central Mexico.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Gods, Gachupines and Gringos

A People's History of Mexico

The first general history of Mexico to be published in English in nearly thirty years, Richard Grabman's Gods, Gachupines and Gringos is one of the only Mexican histories ever written with the general reader in mind.

Gods, Gachupines and Gringos is written in a radically non-academic style, putting flesh and bones on the dusty figures of the past and shedding light on the common humanity of the Mexican people throughout history, often with suprising wit and humor.

Approximately 500 pages, 6 x 9 paperbound SUMMER 2008

"Sixty Minutes" producer Frank Koughan has called Richard Grabman "The best foreign writer in Mexico". Grabman's website, The Mex Files, reviews Mexican culture and politics, often from a historical perspective. Grabman, who presently divides his time between Mexico City and Mazatlán lived in Mexico City between 2001 and 2005, when he moved to Alpine Texas to work on Gods, Gachupines and Gringos and to look at the border situation. In Alpine, he also worked for several local newspapers. Presently, he divides his time between Mazatlán and Mexico City. Richard Grabman can be emailed at

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Semana Santa en Melaque

The kids have been out of school for a week now and a few days I've become the babysitter including cleaning up, butt wiping, clothes changer and chauffeur. We went to the Saint Patrick's festival for fireworks and carnival, watched cartoons, played computer games .... and went to the airport to pickup Ron and Dora. Kids hadn't been to an airport before.

So Ron and Dora are here and 3 of their family from San Luis Potosi and the house is full, the streets are full and the beaches are full. We had everybody over for asada (bar-b-que) yesterday. We are considering a waterpark outing because it's impossible to get a table in a beach restaurant unless you grab it like 9am

Ron putting it on the Barbie

Kids table

Hot dog

Semana Santa crowds and this is the unpopular end of the beach due to wave size

Friday, March 14, 2008

Gatos Rateros

To those of you that missed the feather duster episode a few months back .... our cats had been bringing these things home and leaving them by the door. Well, it stopped for a few months, (no more in neighborhood?), but last week it started up again with another duster. Yesterday we found a baby blanket by the back door. The cats are fixed so that is not the reasoning. Simply rateros !!!

Stolen feather dusters

You wouldn't think it of him

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Flag folding your plastic bags

A lesson I learned living with my Mexican family here in Melaque. Here's a French how-to video so this is not a Mexican or regional 'thing'

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Afilador - Knife sharpener

I was out in back busy with something and heard a new whistle in the neighborhood. I just figured it was kids with a new toy but Mari came in and said the Afilador is here and asked if I wanted the machetes sharpened. He has a small plastic pan flute that he announces himself with. So for 40 pesos apiece he sharpened my machetes while telling stories and jokes - a real character. 10 pesos extra for fotos ;)-

I hear this guy (or another) can ruin a good kitchen knife so beware !!

Mari talking to the Afilador

Telling one of his stories

Sharpening one of my machetes

Afilador, Melaque, Costalegre, Mexico

Monday, January 28, 2008

What taking back roads can turn into

This we found taking an alternet route from Cuzalapa Jalisco to Santiago Colima after visiting a coffee plantation.   And no, I was not just having fun ... that was the road or river ford.

Cuzulapa coffee trip
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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