Saturday, July 27, 2013

The skies over Pinal Villa

We don't get the sunsets over the ocean like those living in Melaque or Barra do but ours are still pretty spectacular.   A little more to the north over the mountains produce some good ones depending on the clouds.   Lately we've been getting thunder heads over the mountains bringing hopes of rain that only arrives rarely.

I think it was Wednesday night that we had lots of rain, thunder and lightening and I had to shoot a video.   While a few other videos I took are over all more interesting I choose this because  about half way through you can see a lightning strike that looks to land just outside the window I'm shooting from.   I looked around for evidence the strike hit something but nothing.

Pinal sunset

Thunder head over the mountains

From my roof overlooking my Canadian neighbors house

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Green pool - no thanks

This is not my pool because mine sits empty.   Neither I or neighbors are going to swim in a pool out of control.   Mine was not this bad but on the way.   The clear plastic hoses to the filter pump were definitely green.   I've read that Shocking a pool will clean it up but I don't have much Shock left and I doubt the size of the pump is ready to do a lot of work.   The reason it's like this is the temperature here for the last two weeks.   The pool water was actually uncomfortably warm.

So now it's been cleaned with cloro, filter and hoses cleaned .... and we are on day seven without water from the street.   Sorry guys but it's showers to cool off because I'm not going to use cistern water for this.   

Lorena talked to a guy today that was headed to fix the "city" water pump and he said TODAY.   It might be a Mexican manana.   Neighbors are using my well pump because I have so much more water storage than they do and they're a family of five.   I can always get it back if I run out.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Mexican artist Alejandro Santiago dead at 49

I just thought his was an amazing man even though I'd not heard of him before ... and as a pottery/art major in Eugene Oregon, even more so.   Would love to see his work.

OAXACA, Mexico — Alejandro Santiago, a Mexican artist who filled the streets of his hometown with clay figures to represent the migrants who left for the United States, died Monday. He was 49. 
Santiago died of a heart attack, said Emilio de Leo, the Oaxaca state culture director. De Leo said Santiago had diabetes for years 
Santiago, a painter and sculptor who studied in the workshop of Rufino Tamayo in Oaxaca, had shows in Mexico, the United States and Europe. 
His best known work was “2,501 Migrants,” which opened in 2007 in his picturesque hometown of Teococuilco, in southern Oaxaca state. Financed with a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, it was an ambitious work to create an army of life-size clay figures to replace departed townspeople.
Mexican artist Alejandro Santiago renowned for making clay migrants dead at 49 

2501 Migrants: A Journey is a full-length documentary that explores questions of art, and indigenous community in the context of global migration

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Back to Tequila

Tequila is a cool little town and not at all what I remember when we passed through in '98/'99. Back then it looked much dirtier with no sidewalks along the highway and some pretty funky taco stands. Tequila has come a long way even though it seems to be in the middle of nowhere in a very dry valley. The plaza is off to the side of the main church and looks much less like the center of town as in other Mexican towns. They do have functions and meetings there and that's where the Tequila tour buses wait for tourists, but it's almost easy to miss.

Across the main street from the church is the Chapel of the Hospital del los Indios which used to be a Franciscan Hospital for the local Indians. The wide main street is one-way headed toward the church. The sidewalks are wide and lined with shops and seems to be where people see and want to be seen. Lots of country and western equipment stores.

We didn't take one of the distillery tour buses on the plaza as we had run into the Cofradia tour before we got there. Our hotel also had a distillery and tour but they didn't advertise or offer when we checked in. The young girl at the desk preferred to watch TV rather than do some extra business. We were the only ones in the hotel that had close to 100 rooms. Off season I guess.

Main church with plaza off to left

Chapel of the Hospital del los Indios

Inside Chapel of the Hospital del los Indios

The funky distillery tour bus 

Main street as it was getting dark

Need a hat?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Sapo y Gato Amigos

Well not exactly amigos but they don't bother each other.  There are two toads that live in the yard and they usually don't come out till dark.  We were playing in the pool about 6pm last night when I noticed this.   I guess somewhere along the line Tomas the cat has figured out toads should be left alone even though he'll kill just about every other small creature in the yard.  Coyota the dog ignores the sapos as well.   My only complaint is cleaning up their poop every morning.  They must eat a lot of something.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

GEM - Gringo en Mexico

I've seen this character and his program before but think the series only lasted a few years.  Just ran across a rerun on an all Spanish SKY channel.   The program is 3 ways entertaining;  he is a cartoon character, his pronunciation is absolutely terrible .... and he does interesting stuff in interesting places.   The only  gringos speaking Spanish harder to understand than this guy are French and Germans.  At times it sounds like he is reading from a prompter.   I think he really has the vocabulary but hope most other gringos here have a better ear for the language and less like a computer program.

A visit to Real de Catorce

There are a number of these on YouTube if you want to look around

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Pulseras are the in thing

Pulseras are actually bracelets of any kind but the newest craze is these multi-colored cheap ones.  They have "stylish" sayings (de moda) and a package of 12 is only 10-12 pesos at your local store.   Hurry before the fad changes and these fall out of favor.  Mostly kids are wearing them but a number of adults too.   The more the better to be cool.   I have two the kids left in the pool.

Pulseras De Silicon Con Frases De Moda Pket Con 12pzas - 10 pesos

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Pipes of San Patricio

While this doesn't add to the ongoing conversation about where our town of San Patricio got it's name, it is an interesting bit of Mexican lore. In August this group plans to go to Scotland and Ireland for an international competition. My interest in Bagpipes was piqued back in '98-'99 when I saw a group playing on a Xochimilco party boat. Didn't realize till now there is a formal group that performs around the country. Either they hire out for occasions or these folk just like to party.

A Blurb from their website
The Pipe Band of San Patricio Battalion is the only pipe band in Mexico. Founded in 1997, the year that marks the 150th anniversary of the heroic deeds of that group of Irish and Scottish soldiers who fought for Mexico during the American War in 1847. 
The Mission of the band is to spread the music of bagpipes in our country and honor the memory of the members of the San Patricio Battalion who gave their lives for Mexico.

La Banda de Gaitas del Batallón de San Patricio

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

A Limon for Shoe

This limon (lime) tree was root bound in a small pot in Shoe's back yard. Rather than let it die unattended I brought it home along with one or two other plants. At that time it was only about 2 feet tall and probably 2-3 years old. I've had it for 2 1/2 years and it's never had fruit.

Now it's about 2 meters tall, I planted it too close to the palapa and it has spines. Was getting ready to cut it back, wrap it up and transplant it in the community jardine. Last night Lorena noticed a few flowers and the small limon so I decided to keep it until it's fruit bearing season is over. In the meantime I'll eat a few of Shoe's limones and think of him.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Gold Striped Scarab

I never knew there were as many types of beetles as there are. I must have spent 2 hours looking for something similar. I finally gave up and called him a Gold Striped Scarab assuming I'm allowed to do that. This real pretty guy wasn't in the pool with all the others but was in the dogs water bucket. Just a fluke or all the rain (5-6 inches) from Hurricane Erick brought him out? He's running around in the yard somewhere now so my fearful neighbors won't have a story of caution to tell.  At least we were spared the wind last night and are even seeing a little sun today.

Friday, July 05, 2013


Every morning I find bugs floating in the pool. They range from flies, gnats, bees, wasps, dragon flies and various types of flying small beetles. One small beetle will swim to the bottom if he thinks you are after him. So suddenly in the last few days I've been finding these large black beetles and I asked neighbors what they are.

They call them Mayates and they bite and can make you real sick. Most of my neighbors generalize about creatures and are fearful of a number of things that are not harmful like snakes and spiders. One neighbor told me about a person that was bitten by a Mayate of a different color, became very sick for years and the medicine to treat it was very expensive.

I started to search and mostly found Mayate to be a negative racial slur but somewhere in there linked it with a Vinchuca who is a carrier of whatever results in Chagas disease. Chagas sounded exactly what my neighbor described. So I ended up unsure if this beetle could transmit the disease or just a similar one. Anyway an interesting search adventure with some Chagas info below and a YouTube video song which shows the importance.  It may be a problem here.

In Chagas-endemic areas, the main mode of transmission is through an insect vector called a triatomine bug. A triatomine becomes infected with T. cruzi by feeding on the blood of an infected person or animal. During the day, triatomines hide in crevices in the walls and roofs. The bugs emerge at night, when the inhabitants are sleeping. Because they tend to feed on people's faces, triatomine bugs are also known as "kissing bugs". After they bite and ingest blood, they defecate on the person. Triatomines pass T. cruzi parasites (called trypomastigotes) in feces left near the site of the bite wound.
Scratching the site of the bite causes the trypomastigotes to enter the host through the wound, or through intact mucous membranes, such as the conjunctiva. Once inside the host, the trypomastigotes invade cells, where they differentiate into intracellular amastigotes. The amastigotes multiply by binary fission and differentiate into trypomastigotes, which are then released into the bloodstream. This cycle is repeated in each newly infected cell. Replication resumes only when the parasites enter another cell or are ingested by another vector. (See also: Life cycle and transmission of T. cruzi)

Thursday, July 04, 2013


This is my Albahaca or Basil that has produced the best results of anything I've planted by seed with the Cherry tomatoes coming in second. It's really a beautiful plant and great for cooking Italian or anything else. Both I and my neighbors grab leaves as we walk by and eat them raw. Plant smells great too. The flowers are beautiful but that means the plant is going to seed and I read if you cut the flowers off you prolong plant growth. Currently it's about 5 months old

I ran across the web page of Dr. Leslie Korn with a link below who writes a lot about herbs and traditional medicine, much of which is in Western Mexico.

In Western Mexico, particularly in the Bahia de Banderas indigenous peoples use basil as a topical anti-inflammatory, combined either with fresh manteca (lard) or with olive oil. The Basil leaves are mixed in a molcajete with the lard or oil and then applied to inflamed joints such as the knees. Manteca is especially rich in Omega 3's and also has anti-inflammatory properties. This mixture will stay potent for several days when kept cool.
Dr. Leslie Korn - Albahaca / Ocimum basilicum / Basil

Wednesday, July 03, 2013


We have lots of chickens, turkeys and ducks that wander around the neighborhood but I'd never seen this one before. It was out on the main road as we were coming back from Melaque. It is obviously a type of duck but Lorena called it a Pichichi - also known as pijiji, pato maizal, pichihuile or a Black-bellied Whistling Duck in English.

Had no trouble getting close to it but only had my IPhone so borrowed another foto. Also saw fotos of hunters in Colima with strings of these ducks that reminded me when my grandfather use to duck hunt along San Francisco Bay.   The one here is domesticated but there are many in the wild - mostly along the coasts of Mexico.

My IPhone foto

Borrowed foto

Monday, July 01, 2013

A lesson on water

The few storms we've had taught me something I had forgotten, ie; plants love water. It's not that I've been ignoring the garden but it has not had the same amount of water these rains bring. The soil here absorbs water like a sponge and sometimes we don't have street water for 4-5 days up to a few weeks. I'm certainly not going to water anything but potted plants with tinaco and cistern water.

Anyway, I suddenly have a jungle. Have to cut back the limes just to get between them, bananas grew 2 feet in a week, pineapple ripened, papayas getting bigger and my neems are almost ready to transplant. My neighbors who are in Canada are in for a surprise when they come back in November. Their caretaker left for Autlan a few months ago and their garden is out of control but will be impossible in a few months.

The Neems are growing from seeds that fall under my only remaining tree. Five neighbors have them and still have 4 more in the ground. These 5 in buckets are waiting to get a good root system and we'll plant them around the plaza. I'll probably have to get the stakes and chicken wire to protect them from playing kids.

Dalila which turned out to be minimal so far

Neems in buckets

Papaya is finally getting there

Pineapple was small but delicious 

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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