Monday, March 30, 2015

A day on the beach in Barra de Navidad

Big waves and GeoTubes

It seems the whole west coast is being pounded with big surf. Surfers love it here and in famous places like Puerto Escondido. The beach and vacationers ... not so much. Most of the many visiting Barra for Semana Santa favor the lagoon side of the Malecon because there are no waves. Much safer for weak swimmers and little kids.

I wasn't aware of the 5-6 new GeoTubes they have installed. 3 or 4 more parallel to the beach out several hundred feet and 2 perpendicular but on the beach. I believe the perpendicular ones were meant to stop sand moving down the beach toward Melaque but the one below has had unexpected consequences. It has channeled the waves directly at the built up beach behind and laid bare the stone "breakwater".

After spending too much time walking the beach and Malecon looking at the surf and the Semana crowd it was time for some shade, a beer and something to eat. Our usual place is Nacho's who have Estrella and Pacifico and a very nice shrimp brocheta which is nothing like Italian bruschetta. It's simply shrimp and veggies on a stick. I usually don't like most Mexican rice but theirs is dry and very tasty. Picked up a kilo of shrimp at the local seafood store and will enjoy over the next week unless neighbors find out I have them ;)

Turbulence behind the GeoTube

Rocks laid bare

From the Malecon - new GeoTube

Up to 10 surfers out at one point (sorry, no zoom)

Nacho's with waiter Paco

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Chimole Picante

Thinking chimole would mean only one thing I looked it up with Google and it has many meanings. All the meanings are food but the only similarities are it's salsa like. Lorena says the literal meaning is chile molido but molido is usually dry ground to powder but not in this case.

There were about 20 ripe cherry tomatoes yesterday and Hugo said perfect for chimole so into the blender with a couple green chilies, garlic and a little water. Very good but very spicy and the sweetness of the tomatoes disappeared making me think any tomato would work. The chilies were from my garden too.


Very good and very spicy

Made some duros for the kids to sell

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Lets make some bread

I've been working on this for a couple days and the first try was embarrassing, the second was a lesson and the third was decent but needs a lot of improvement. Talking while making attempts would have been like a certain woman in Melaque telling everyone she was quitting smoking and then she couldn't quit. Better just work on quitting and talk about it later. So I made some bread and quit smoking ;)

So the first one didn't rise and I have no idea. The second was way too wet and didn't rise much but it did make a couple of bricks. The third try was a lot drier, rose a lot and resembled a loaf of bread. What I found was parchment paper is heat resistant but not moisture resistant. The paper tears easily when damp and it stuck to the bottom of the loafs. So I'm thinking it's almost a moisture guide for the dough. Maybe an oiled pan but the paper makes it easy to transfer to the oven. Also think my old oven's temperature does not match the dial. A little hotter next time.

It's hard finding the right utensils and materials to work with in Melaque. I'm sure Manzanillo would offer more choices but I'll make do for now. I bought some plastic wrap and it was thinner than thin and totally stuck to itself. I had to throw it out and use a plastic bag. Can't find a good rubber/plastic spatula. No heavy all metal cookware. Pyrex like glass ware are all the wrong shape and size. My local small store had that bread knife and I think she sold it to me for 20 pesos because she'd had it for years and couldn't get rid of it.

Time to take a break for a couple days, maybe look for a few more things in Cihuatlan and try for a drier dough soon. Also need to find some yeast or levadura. I didn't bring a lot down from Seattle. Does corn meal exist here .... we'll see.

My bricks

Just mixed

Rise after 2 hours

Very edible with olive oil and balsamic vinegar 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Water and mud ate my brakes

I've been putting off checking my rear brakes to see why they were making noise. I had new brakes installed and drums resurfaced 4+/- months ago so I was hoping they were just dirty. The problem, at least for my car, is driving thru water and mud every day. 

So I went in to Pancho at 9:30 this morning and sure enough both rear brake shoes were metal to metal. I don't know what it is about asbestos brakes but they sure seem to dislike water. Pancho suggested metallic brake shoes at twice the price of asbestos but I don't see our wet roads going away any time soon. 

The mechanics didn't have a lot of work so he told me to wait. A little over an hour later I was ready to go. Break shoes were 350 and labor was 250 for a total of 600 pesos or about $40 dollars. I can now dive back into my wet streets.

Our road a few days ago

Metallic brake shoes

Cleaned up and ready for new

Drums were still OK

Friday, March 20, 2015

It's the Garden again

The cherry tomatoes are coming out in bunches now and it's like an Easter Egg hunt for Nahima every day she comes over. Right now they are at her eye level but soon she'll be asking for help to reach them. With 6-7 plants I'm gonna need help eating them. The Roma tomatoes are still very small.

Four in a group

The second crop of chilies from seeds Hugo planted. I'm gonna have to make a decent bed for them and try again. This was the only plant healthy enough to produce.

The big Neem came down a few months ago but a 4 foot stump was just taking up room for other things. Hugo excavated around it and chopped it down to about a meter with a machete and then called Juan to come over with his chainsaw. First he's chopping off bark that was below ground and may have rocks embedded and then the saw. He even hauled all the pieces out to the street and wouldn't accept a peso.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Global Warming vs. Climate Change

I find interesting the conversations that come up when trying to answer the question about what might be the cause of this extremely rare weather occurrence that just passed from the Pacific through the middle of Mexico. Most interesting are the deniers who don't seem to believe in Global Warming, Climate Change or even El Niño. For some reason raining when it shouldn't, colder than normal and unusual droughts are better defined as an aberration rather than a pattern ... man made or not. Very strange

There have long been claims that some unspecificed "they" has "changed the name from 'global warming' to 'climate change'". In reality, the two terms mean different things, have both been used for decades, and the only individual to have specifically advocated changing the name in this fashion is a global warming 'skeptic'.

El clima esta loco!

Arroyo Seco was a trickle last Friday

For those that may have missed it, a weather system just came in from the Pacific that dumped 12-14 inches of rain (equal to Hurricane Jova in 2011) on the Jalisco coast over the weekend and continued into Central Mexico. The weather experts say it's a result of  El Niño and the warming of Pacific waters enough to release moisture to the atmosphere. Here we get back to - is ocean warming an aberration or is there a pattern of causation. Then the skeptics say there is no El Niño because an El Niño would break the drought in Texas and California. All I know is nobody remembers much rain in March, let alone a rain equivalent of a hurricane.

Weather system without a name - should have had one

La Manzanilla had 14 inches of rain

I realize we can't run out and do something just because we fear humanity may be doing this to themselves and the planet. Very little an individual can do at all. On the other hand it sounds like science deniers and climate change deniers come to their conclusions from hopelessness. All that does is end the conversation and we might as well throw up our hands.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Lemon Tree Very Pretty

The latest English assignment is sing this song in English. Yari is 12 years old and in her first year of Secondary School. I don't believe she has to memorize it, just sing it. Lyrics are easy to find but the video qualities vary a lot.  Peter Paul and Mary was not real clear and Trini Lopez made it a whole other thing. There were a couple copies of this Brothers Four song on YouTube so I downloaded it and put it on my IPhone for her.

This would have been an extremely difficult assignment for me at that age .... even though Spanish is a much more musical language compared to non rhythmic English, IMO. Her mom was over last night and was writing down words phonetically while I read them but that became a lot of work and we didn't know the value. I'll read to Yari and see what works for her. I think I'll skip an explanation of "But the fruit of the lemon is impossible to eat" because I don't understand it except it's not sweet. Odd choice for a simile but it's just a song.

Lemon Tree by the Brothers Four

When I was just a lad of ten, my father said to me,
"Come here and take a lesson from the lovely lemon tree."
"Don't put your faith in love, my boy," my father said to me,
"I fear you'll find that love is like the lovely lemon tree."

Lemon tree, very pretty, and the lemon flower is sweet,
But the fruit of the lemon is impossible to eat.
Lemon tree, very pretty, and the lemon flower is sweet,
But the fruit of the lemon is impossible to eat.

One day beneath the lemon tree, my love and I did lie,
A girl so sweet that when she smiled, the stars rose in the sky.
We passed that summer lost in love, beneath the lemon tree,
The music of her laughter hid my father's words from me.


One day she left without a word, she took away the sun.
And in the dark she left behind, I knew what she had done.
She left me for another, it's a common tale but true,
A sadder man, but wiser now, I sing these words to you.


Friday, March 13, 2015

Better planning for my tomatoes

I don't know if I didn't remember last year when my Cherry tomatoes grew to over 12 feet or if I doubt they will even come up. Whatever it is I'm going to have to plan better for the next crop because tomatoes go crazy here and they probably will all year. I had so many come up I transplanted a few into buckets and they will use the chain link fence on my driveway for support

The biggest issue is supporting them so I'll build some sort of cage in the planter for the next crop.  Also move my herbs out of that planter and put them in pots As well need some mulch to slow the soil from drying out. The Coco Coir plant near Cihuatlan throws fiber out by the highway and I'm going to ask if it's free. They also sell a Coir powder that is a lot like Peat Moss. A place over toward Barra has cow manure very cheap and I haven't been over there for awhile because of their road. For now we'll just keep tying them up and in a few months redesign their space. 

Planted in January and got our first red tomatoes yesterday

Here's some and I've been pruning the non fruiting branches

This is supposedly the typical Mexican Roma tomato

So may Cherries came up I transplanted a few in buckets

Coir fiber for mulch

Monday, March 09, 2015

El Niño is here

Are we in for a bumpy ride this year .... it sure looks like a possibility. Last year the Pacific had 3 times as many named storms as the Atlantic

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Centre upgraded its assessment from 'El Niño Watch' to 'El Niño Advisory', meaning an event is now occurring.

Simply put, El Niño favors stronger hurricane activity in the central and eastern Pacific basins, and suppresses it in the Atlantic basin (Figure 1). Conversely, La Niña suppresses hurricane activity in the central and eastern Pacific basins, and enhances it in the Atlantic basin 

Typical influence of El Niño on Pacific and Atlantic seasonal hurricane activity. Map by NOAA

Typical influence of La Niña on Pacific and Atlantic seasonal hurricane activity. Map by NOAA

Average sea surface temperature in the tropical Pacific for the week of 25th Feb. Anomalies are relative to 1981-2010 weekly average. Source: NOAA Climate Prediction Centre

What is El Niño

Jeff Masters and Kevin Trenberth talk El Nino

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Doin' the Math

Euriel just paid his entrance fee into Preparatoria (High School) and he got this prep test for the test he'll have to take some time this summer. I think it's only to give him an idea of what the test will be like so memorizing it (20-25 pages) is out of the question. That "simplify" the equation was the first that really stumped me and even though they have answers in the back, it made no sense. It's been too long since I've done the kind of math you only run into in school. I'll have to look for examples on the Internet.

This test has a some reading comprehension but also conditional situations very much like Math but not really. Like logic I guess. Some of those made my head spin but partly because they were in Spanish. Also two very difficult pages of English. The English they teach here is very limited and I doubt they get much conversation or heavy reading experience. Don't know how they are going to read a long paragraph, understand it and answer questions ??? Students put up little English sayings on Bulletin Boards at the school and all are humorous and they had time to research those.

Front page of study guide from Internet
College Board - Puerto Rico y America Latina

As I go through this test and make notes I have to make sure he can't just shake his head YES and move on. He has been a little lazy in school and has not asked me for English help or much of anything else unless it needs the Internet. I mark the multiple choice questions but he is going to get a WHY and EXPLAIN IT. Within the next week I'll sit down with him and see if his brain is a total vacuum or has absorbed some of it. Crossed fingers. What is a disabled kid gonna do if he can't finish school.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Crunchy Crust Bolillo?

I was reading an article in Spanish that was posted on the Cihuatlan Facebook page about The Magical History of birote or bolillo. My translation wasn't going too well so tried to find it in English and sure enough it was on the Guadalajara Reporter, a Blog and a few other places. The story goes that the origin dates back to 1864, when a Belgian named Camille Pirrotte arrived in Guadalajara as a sergeant in the French army. Pirrote was charged with teaching the locals to make French bread, but he soon realized that he could not find yeast anywhere in the city. Pirrote improvised and left the dough out to ferment for a few days, which turned out to be a fine substitute.  

It sounds like some bread makers organization wanted to patent the name Birote because with the elevation and climate of Guadalajara this bread could not be duplicated anywhere else in Mexico. The patent was going to be for Jalisco similar to the Tequila name. But we are at sea level and in Jalisco so bread made here should not be the same as that made in Guadalajara. All descriptions say crunchy outside and soft inside like French bread but I don't consider any local bolillo crunchy. Crunchy only in Guadalajara? Other descriptions also call it salty and I find those here very bland.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Cihuatlán to Tequesquitlán

I've been told a number of times there is a partially paved road from Cihuatlán to Tequesquitlán but have always been unable to find the starting point in Cihuatlán. Yesterday was road trip day with Glen and we decided to go looking. Using Google Maps we could see the two exit roads that meet up just beyond the map below. Very possibly why I couldn't find it before is because the one on the right no longer exists and hasn't for a long time. There's a sign of it but it's totally washed out.

So off we go in the other direction, asked at a store and he drew us a map even though we were only a couple blocks from where it started. Now I have to apologize for not having my camera on the right setting so the unpaved first section with lots of water ruts did not turn out. I figured it out when we were well into the paved section. I wasn't that enthused to make the whole trip and I was a bit worried about Glen's Honda that does not have real high clearance. However he didn't bottom out once so that gives you a clue how serious the ruts were. The whole trip was probably 1.5 to 2 hours not counting the searching. We came back down highway 80.

Road on the right is washed out

We figured the pavement started when we changed Municipios

Some gravel and lots of potholes

Country side after we climbed up out of Cihuatlan

Entering Tequesquitlan

Leaving Tequesquitlan

Cane cutters after a days work

I've been to Tequesquitlan twice before from the backside of Jaluco up through Almolon. Here's a link to one trip including a stop at a Tamarindo packing house - Back Roads to Cuzalapa

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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