Friday, January 30, 2009

Housesitting Jobs

I still can't type because of my fractured wrist. I just want to check in. I got another housesitting job today. This one will be for five months. Lovely home...I feel so lucky. Word of mouth. That is the best way to get a job. Like I said already, you have to go to the area where you want to work and get to know people......I won't be writing much until my wrist heals.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Photos Instead of Stories for Awhile

I am forced to type with one hand now because of my fractured wrist. So I am mostly going to be putting on photos. I miss the writing but I have to follow the doctor's orders.

Hamburger Stand By Chapala Bus Stop

One of the many small outdoor restaurants in Chapala. It is across the street from the plaza. I haven't eaten there but I have heard from friends that it has delicious hamburgers..

Ajijic Flower Shop

Flower shop in Ajijic. There are many shops created in the front of small homes. Usually run by Mexican Women. I enjoy their creativity

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Mariachi Women at La Bodega Restaurant

Okay so I slipped on some cobblestones, slid part way across my lawn, slammed my head into my cement house and fractured my wrist in two places. That didn't stop me from walking the two blocks to the local restaurant and watching the all women Mariachi band from Guadalajara. I had been looking forward to their performance for weeks.

I sat at the bar and ordered a margaretta. The bartender introduced himself to me. He stood close behind me for a few songs. It took me quite awhile, but I finally realized that he was flirting with me. He couldn't be over 45 at the most. Handsome Mexican man. Nice smile. He asked me where I live and when I told him, he asked if I live alone. I said, Yes. Then he asked, Why do you live alone? He seemed genuinely concerned. I have noticed that many Mexicans don't understand the concept of living alone. To them, living alone is a hardship.

He told me that he liked to sing. He sings at the Monday night karaoke....I'll be there next Monday. It is nice to get attention from a handsome man. Who cares if he is twenty years younger than I am? See my post on single people........

I love Mariachi music. It is full of life. All that women in the band and when they all sang and played together, the house rocked. All the older couples were up dancing. There is no way I would venture out onto the dance floor. I would look like an idiot compared to them. I see many of the same couples every time I go there. I call them professionals. One man even brings special dancing shoes, leather soles.

I like living close to the La Bodega. It is just two blocks from my house and now the waiters know my name. I am a local. I belong, even though I can't sing or dance. I am part of their community. This kind of experience isn't possible when you don't stay in one place for very long. I feel safe here too. I don't worry about walking home alone at night. Sometimes the music is so loud, all I have to do is sit in my yard and listen to it. If you don't like loud music or loud noise, don't even think about living in Mexico.

The Doctor's Office Again

On Sunday I tripped on a rock, slid across the lawn for a few feet, hit my head against the brick wall of my house and broke my wrist in two places. I didn't know it was broken until this afternoon. It wasn't healing and I thought I had better see the Doctor.

I walked up to Dr. Leon's office. Waited one hour and he sent me over for an x ray. A very nice man who was waiting in the office offered to drive me the few blocks to the x ray office. He dropped me off there. He also took my house sitting card and said he might call me. He lives in a house with a pool. What good luck.

The x ray took twenty minutes. The technician called a taxi for me and in a few minutes I was back at Dr. Leon's office. I have a broken wrist. Broken in two places. Dr. Leon joked with me about my walking on a bad knee for fourteen months. He said I should have a cast since he knew how hard I was on my body. After promising not to take off the wrist brace, he finally agreed to let me have that instead.

This entire doctor and x ray experience cost me 450 pesos, plus 50 pesos for the taxi. The exchange rate is around 14 pesos to the dollar, making it under forty dollars...... Plus no long wait in either office, no undressing , no getting weighed, no sitting half naked in those cold rooms.......

I am left handed. I hurt my left hand. I won't be typing much for awhile.

Fame and Everyday Life

I had a little taste of fame a few days ago. It had nothing to do with my talent. It was just a fluke caused by my blog and name being mentioned on My readers went from a hundred a day to fifteen hundred in one day. I was overwhelmed by the many e mails I received that day. I was flattered that so many people were reading my blog. I thought that kind of volume would continue from then on. It didn’t. Now I can’t even find my blog on google. A few days ago my blog came up first on the google search engine. So much for instant fame.

I checked out the length of time people spend on my blog. It averages two and a half minutes. What can I say in two and a half minutes? This is the story of our world today. Instant communication all over the world but very little depth. We just don’t have the time to spend because we are flooded with input from the world.

How much can we really influence each other anyway if we have so much coming at us? It is like a river. We are in the midst of it. Other people and ideas are constantly flowing by us. We reach out and grab what we can. But then more stuff and more people flow by us and we quickly let go of the first ideas for the next ones.

Television, especially television news contributes a lot to this state of mind. If we watch the news we are bombarded with input about the world. People come into the spotlight and quickly disappear. Watching television news feels to me like I am in a constant state of emergency. The news today is spiraling down and it takes away my personal optimism. I should quit watching it.

I talked about a book in an earlier blog, The Paradox of Choice Why more is Less by Barry Schwartz. This book has many interesting theories. He says things we all know but rarely think about. Things like, what is happiness? What makes us happy? He says it is all relative and dependent mostly on our internal state of mind. A person winning the lottery is very happy at first. A person becoming paralyzed is extremely sad at first but after a few months, those things don’t even matter. The happy person returns to a former state and so does the sad person. It doesn’t matter that much what is going on in the external world. What matters is how we feel inside. So if you ask me, What is it like to live in Mexico? All I can answer is, What is it like to live in your own head?

Barry Schwartz talks about the relativity of our lives. And this really hits home to me today. When I first put my blog on, just a few weeks ago, I was thrilled that a hundred people read it. After I got fifteen hundred hits in one day and the next day it went down to two hundred, I was sad. If I had never gotten that huge amount of hits in one day, I would have been thrilled to have the two hundred hits…..

Thinking about all of this, I wonder what I can say to people about living in a foreign country. I think sometimes our own minds are foreign countries. What is the cost of living in your mind? Is your mind safe? Is it a good place to live? What is the weather like up there?

I will be surprised if people get through this post. It will take more than two and a half minutes to read. We are so impatient these days. Maybe because there is too much stuff constantly coming at us. I am glad I wrote it though because it reminds me that fame is of little importance. It is like a breeze that floated my way. It had nothing to do with me personally. I am still a good person. I am no different than when I had a thousand readers. My writing hasn’t changed either. The breeze has just moved on.

The most important thing in my life is to remember to be good to the people around me. The maid, the restaurant people and even the people I pass on the street. I like to say hi to people passing me by. I like to see them smile. I do this in the States too, in large cities. My friend teased me about it. But sometimes a smile totally changes a person’s face. I smile and say hello in English or Spanish, no matter how angry or threatening someone looks to me. It is like a gift when that person smiles back and I understand that I had totally misjudged him or her.

I realize that nothing is certain. Everything is in flux and we are here such a brief time. What do we have besides the moment? I say, be kind and appreciate those who come into our lives, even just passing us by on the street.

Simple pleasures. That is my goal. To appreciate simple pleasures. If just one person reads my blog and gets something out of it, I am now grateful for that one person. I am not alone out here in this flowing river. If you have gotten this far in this post, Thank You for taking the time to read it. Patricia

Monday, January 26, 2009

Coffee Shop in Chapala on Sunday Afternoon

I took these photos while sitting at the Coffee Hour with two of my friends. It is just a few blocks up from the lake on the main street in Chapala. All day and well into the evening there is steady stream of walkers, tour buses, and cars coming and going. It is almost impossible to even cross the street. (Pedestrians don't have the right of way in Mexico. You have to just dart out in front of the cars, unless there happens to be a policeman around directing the traffic.)

The fountain is across the street from the Coffee Hour. When I lived in Chapala I went to the coffee shop in the evenings and strolling Mariachi Bands and other musicians would come in to play for the customers.

It is exciting to just sit outside there and people watch. I enjoyed living in Chapala.
In the rainy season the hills turn green. You can see in the fountain photo how close they are to the center of town.

Photos of the walk to my house in Ajijic

I took these on Sunday as I was walking to my house. Now why would I want a car? Oh yes, there is the problem of slipping on the cobblestones.

An Inspired Reader

http://fattykathys-waterwitch.blogspot.comI won't write much today. Yesterday I fell and slid into a cement wall and maybe sprained my wrist. I blame it on these cobblestones. I may have to see the doctor today. But I wanted to put on a very interesting blog. Kathy is writing it. Inspiring.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Boston Deli near my house

I have been sitting at the computer for most of the day. Once I get started writing posts I have a hard time quitting. I finally decided to walk up to the grocery store to get some food. A friend told me about a deli that has only been open a few months. He said it is delicious food. It is in a large open area above the grocery store and next to the movie theater. Last time I tried it, the woman said she was all out of food. She said she had made over a hundred sandwiches that day. She looked tired. But she was friendly.
I got lucky today. She still had food left. I got two large pieces of fried Halibut plus rice with veggies in it and carrots, broccoli and french bread. All for 35 pesos. She still had Filet Mignon left and Shrimps. She only charges 35 pesos for those meals too. No wonder she runs out of food quickly. After she cooked and served me the meal she sat down with me. She told me she had lived in the States for sixteen years, in many of the towns where I have lived. Her name is Gigi. She is probably in her 60's. We didn't talk long because she had work to do. I saw a man about her age inside cleaning. Probably her husband.

I know I will make many more trips up there for my meals. An American man talked with me for a couple of minutes. He said, This is a bad location... Who cares. Bad location, delicious, inexpensive food. Can't go wrong. She stays open until she runs out of food, which is usually around two or three in the afternoon. She is closed on Sundays and Mondays. Maybe next time I will take in a movie. They usually have one movie in English. I think the cost is 25 pesos, around two dollars. It is a comfortable theater. I have only gone once. Not much fun to sit in a movie theater alone, no matter how good the movie.
After eating, I went to the grocery store for milk. As I was walking out, a young woman handed me a sample of Tequilla. Nothing like a shot of Tequilla to finish off a great meal. I walked home, ready to get back on this computer.

Single Men and Women in the Lake Chapala Area

I am single. I have been single since 1991. I understand the problems of being single; doing things alone, making all the decisions and meeting other single people. I like to joke with my friends about being single. I say, The biggest advantage of being married is that you can always blame your partner for bad decisions. There is no one else to blame if you are single.

The statistics are not good if you are an older single woman. I am talking about meeting a man, nothing else. There are so many older single women than men. partly because of wars killing men off and men don't live as long as women and many older men prefer younger women.

When I first arrived in Guadalajara I met an American man my age going through customs. He joked about what he and his friends called, The Casserole Women. He said if a man's wife dies here within a short time a line of single American women show up at his door with casseroles.

I went to a class yesterday and there was one man, a very nice looking, intelligent, single American man teaching it and eight or so women, one other man.... There is a lot of competition here for men.

Sometimes it seems to me that the older the man, the younger the woman he wants. Mexico is a great place for single, older men. There are many single Mexican women here. The older man, even one twenty to thirty years older, looks good to them. The men have retirements and houses. They offer much security. And of course, now that the older man has Viagra, he is ready. I hate Viagra! Why can't old men just age naturally??? Why can't they just enjoy women their own age? I have met several men my age and much older who ended up marrying their much younger maids, twenty and thirty years younger. Sometimes the marriages work out and at other times they are disasters.

I think it would be easier for me to meet a Mexican man and have a relationship. Just give up on American men my age. Forget about them as they chase after the young Mexican women. Several Mexican men in their forties have made passes at me. I haven't responded. I see the pattern though. If I want to have a relationship with a man, I should look to the younger men just as the men do with women. For some reason much younger men aren't so threatened by an older woman. I wonder about this fact. Maybe it is because the older men are trying to recapture their younger selves and they see a young woman as doing that for them.

Some of the problems I have seen with older American men getting involved with the young Mexican women are; The younger woman immediately moves in her family, grown children and their children, if they are old enough to have grown children. The grandparents are on that list too. Families have to take care of the older generation. The Mexican government doesn't. If they are much younger women, then they will have young children to move in with them.

The American man is expected to pay for all these new people in his life. And there is always some emergency that he needs to pay for, such as a hospital bill, new toy for a grandchild, bail bond money for the wife's brother, coming out party for the wife's fifteen year old granddaughter, on and on....The list is endless. Or there is an ex husband standing in the wings, wanting to beat him up for taking his woman. How about that handsome younger gardener, the wife's age? He doesn't need Viagra and he has his eye on the wife. No wrinkles either. And the younger woman is of a different generation and culture and they don't have much in common. Or she is much too demanding for him, even with the help of the magic pill. I could go on and on with this list. I have heard many sad stories from men my age, crying about their fates. Sorry, I don't have much sympathy for them because they have so callously overlooked me.

On the other side, there is such a thing as Machismo. That is why I steer clear of Mexican men, even young handsome ones. Machismo requires that the man is in charge. I have been single too long to put up with that nonsense. Even though I joke about wanting someone else to take the blame for bad decisions, I really don't want that. So I am alone..... I have many single friends, men and women. I do things with them and I am happy for now with this arrangement.

These are my own prejudices and experiences. They don't always hold true. I have seen some very happy marriages between American men and Mexican women. Not a lot between American women and Mexican men. I would like my observations to be wrong. Sorry if I have offended anyone.

From time to time I am going to post photos of the single people I know here, men and women, Mexican and American. If you come to this area you might introduce yourself to them. Most single people here are open and friendly. We like to meet new people. Sometimes it is hard to be single in a married world.

Sharing Good Fortune

Yesterday I had so many e mails that it took me all evening just to answer them. My site went from a hundred hits a day to almost two thousand, in one day. Wow! I was impressed. A friend called me and I told him about all the e mails and hits on my blog. His fearful answer was, No! Don't tell people about this place...... He wanted to save it for himself. He didn't like what I was doing, promoting Mexico and especially the Lake Chapala area. He said, Send them to Guadalajara. Don't say anything about Lake Chapala.

I remember when I was living in Santa Cruz, California in the 60's, 70's and 80's. Many people had those thoughts. Now that I am here, don't tell anyone else. We don't want the place ruined by a lot of people coming in here. That feels extremely self centered to me. And you can't stop change. People are going to come, like it or not. I heard from someone, I can't remember the source, that the expectation is of a hundred thousand new people moving to this area in the next five to ten years. That is a lot of people. Now I see why Walmart built such a monster store. They are expecting that influx.

If I had the money, I would buy a home here. I didn't have the money when I lived in Santa Cruz and I saw what happened to property values through the years. I could have bought a beachfront home for forty thousand dollars but I didn't have it. I bet that house is worth eight hundred thousand now. But I had fun living there and raising my son there. What more could I ask? To be rich? You can't take it with you. All we really have are our experiences and memories anyway.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Today at the Lake Chapala Society

I volunteered at the LCS today, collecting for membership. It is fun. I was never a volunteer kind of person. My own life was so taxing that I didn't feel I had the time or energy to volunteer. But I am enjoying my time there. I feel like part of the community and not an outsider, as I usually feel in the world.

My friend came over and said, I have a new cell phone. It takes photos, and videos and gets on the internet but I don't know how to answer it...... That is how I feel much of the time with this blog. It is all new to me. I am enjoying the process of learning new things, and meeting new people but I will probably mess things up often. Thank you for your responses. I appreciate them. And forgive me for my mistakes.

My E Mails

I have received so many emails that I can't answer them as fast as I would like and I want to let people know that I will answer as soon as I can. It is overwhelming, the amount of responses I have gotten in the past few days. I leave the computer for a few minutes and come back to five more emails. I want to answer all your questions. But I don't have all the answers. I am new here myself, having been in the Chapala area for less than one year .

I think a lot of the questions have to do with fear. Fear of the unknown...I totally understand. I had a lot of fear about moving here. Last week I gave my car away in the States. This gave me major butterflies in the stomach. I have my place up for sale, but nothing is selling in my area. Anyone interested in buying a mobile home in Red Bluff, California? Didn't think so........

I had many fears before I made the decision to stay here and I still have fears. It is like learning to swim. I can't teach anyone how to swim in an email. You really have to just face those butterflies and take action. I would suggest a short trip first.

I never dive into the deep end of the pool. I put my toes in the water first and then a little at a time. (I have visited Mexico for a few months at a time since 1991.) But that is my style. I just want anyone who has written to me to know that it may take a little while for me to answer you personally. I want to keep up with the blog too. Many of your questions will be answered in the blog. And I thank you so much for your positive responses.

I spent two years writing and rewriting a book about living in Mexico. When it was finally done, I couldn't get it published and no one liked it!!! It is exciting for me to be able to write something and have people read it and respond positively.

Thank you. And please be patient with me. I will answer your e mail as soon as I can. Patricia

Jim and Carole's Mexico Adventure

Peter St. John from the Laguna Real Estate turned me on to the blog Jim and Carole's Mexico Adventure. They live in the same area of Mexico where I live. It is an interesting site. The most recent post is on pottery in Tonala. I will check their site often. Lots of beautiful photos on it and useful information. Thank you Jim and Carole.

Jim and Carole's Mexico Adventure

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sunset on Lake Chapala

(Click on images to enlarge)

Touring the Lake Chapala Area

There are several companies in this area that take people on different trips. I haven't taken any tours because of my knee problem but it is finally healing. One day soon I will get on the bus to Guadalajara and take photos to put on this blog. The photos on the posts now were all taken by my son, David Valdez. Besides being a jazz musician, he is very good with the camera, too.

When I first came to this area I took a trip all around the lake. It was exhausting and disappointing. Extremely difficult to do without a car or a tour guide. I went with a few friends and at the first city we were going to have to wait four hours to catch the next bus. We ended up paying a friendly Mexican to drive us in his truck to the next town. It was a bumpy ride and it took us all day to get around the lake. Next time I try that trip I will do it with a tour company.

There is one in town called Charter Club Tours. They have many trips to local areas and towns further away. They have one, two, three and four day trips and sometimes trips for a week or longer. The prices are reasonable. If you are interested in where they are going now, look online at This is a great way to get around and see things, especially if you are afraid to take off on your own.

Ajijic Murals

As I promised in an earlier post, here are more photos of Ajijic murals. There are many murals on buildings and even on telephone poles in Ajijic. Murals almost every where you look. It is a beautiful town, lots of flowers and interesting doorways.

This is one of the major differences between Ajijic and Chapala. Ajijic is an artist's community. A rich artist's community.

My friend, Pat, from San Blas calls Ajijic A Mexican Disneyland because it is so beautiful and unlike other Mexican towns.

Chapala is a busy working man's town. There are photos of Chapala in the next post.

Sometimes Ajijic reminds me of Santa Cruz, California. I raised my son there. In Santa Cruz during the week it was quiet. There were many craft shops that depended on the influx of tourists for their survival. But during the 70's the off season was quiet. The owners of the shops struggled to keep open. When the tourists came in the town would be crowded and noisy.

It is the same here. Week ends are very busy, mostly with Mexican tourists from Guadalajara. They go into Chapala too. Both towns get lively on week ends.

Hotels and houses are more expensive in Ajijic. Most things are more expensive here. I do my weekly food shopping at the outdoor market that happens on Weds. but if I need anything else, I go into Chapala to shop. I think it is because the stores in Chapala deal mostly with Mexicans and the stores here in Ajijic deal with the Americans. I have to remember the rule here in Mexico, Labor is cheaper than things....For example, in the States I could easily pick up a bicycle at a yard sale or thrift store for ten dollars or less. But to have it repaired would cost me several times the cost of the bike. In Mexico used items are hard to find and when found, they are expensive but repairing them is much cheaper than the cost of the object.

I have been looking for a used refrigerator. I can't find one for under three hundred dollars here. I have given up the search. In the States, we have so much stuff. Our homes are filled with stuff and our garages are so full that there is no room for our cars. It is different in Mexico.

I have painted an idealistic picture of this area. There are problems here too. I was at the spa yesterday and over heard two American women talking. One woman said her friend's home was burglarized. She went to the police station to put in a report and while she was at the station they returned and stole her stove, microwave and TV. There are desperate people here as in every other place in the world and these hard economic times are affecting us all.

The peso dropped to 14.12 over the week end. This is good for people like me who had to get money out of the ATM machine but bad for everyone else. I have never seen the peso so low. For years it was around 10.80 to the dollar.

Prices go up too when the peso drops. I feel sorry for the maids and gardeners. They are on fixed incomes which are very low anyway. I don't know how they make it here, especially in Ajijic.

I lived in an American neighborhood last time I was here and I rarely saw Mexicans there unless they were the maids and gardeners. These are the neighborhoods that are targets for burglars. They can get into gated communities. No problem. The safest place I think to live is in a poorer Mexican community and without all the frills we take for granted in the States. Like expensive electronics. I live simply and no one bothers me. I like to live that way. The more stuff you own, the more the stuff owns you.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Chapala Plaza

Tuesday, Jan. 20th. Inauguration Day. I watched TV all morning, witnessing the crowds of people to see the Inauguration. Amazing and inspiring. I only hope that Obama will be able to make the changes he has promised. But I don’t talk about politics or religion. I don’t like to get into controversy with anyone. I like photographing my life here in Mexico. I only mention this because it is of such enormous importance that I would be crazy not to mention it. I hope things will get better up in the States now.

These photos are of Chapala. I went there to take my friend out to lunch for her birthday. She won’t tell me her age but I am guessing early 80s ….. I admire her for making that long trip down. It is difficult for her to cross the street, let alone coming on the plane and through customs with her dog. We ate at an outdoor restaurant at the side of the plaza, Jose’s. It is one of the most popular gathering places for the Americans in Chapala. I see the same people sitting there for coffee every time I go to there.

I also took a photo of one of the dogs at the plaza, and of the main street, the meat market in the plaza and the motel where I stayed for four months when I first came to this area. The rooms are around two hundred dollars a month. They are clean. There is cable TV and it is only half a block from the Plaza. The owner speaks English and he is very helpful, Beto is his name. If you want to find it, just look for the life size cow and horse. If you want to call from the States the number is 01 376 57087.

It was a good day. I like Chapala as much as Ajijic. They have different atmospheres. Like any place, people get attached to one or the other for their own personal reasons. I like sleeping in Ajijic because it is quieter and I like visiting Chapala because there are more Mexicans in the Plaza.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Ajijic Book store and coffee shop

Today I had lunch at a bookstore across the street from the Lake Chapala Society. They sell a small number of books and many magazines. It is quiet and the food is good and inexpensive. I had vegetarian lasagna (At this rate I will never lose weight.)

Upstairs is a drawing class. It wasn't going on when I was there but I went up and saw the space. It is large and light. I don't know how much it costs to take the drawing lessons. But I like the atmosphere in the patio and I like the food. They have other social functions too. Nothing scheduled at the moment but I have seen ads for various book or art related affairs. I took several photos of it.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sunday in Ajijic and Chapala

Sunday. I enjoy Sundays. More people are out and the atmosphere is very relaxed. I took the above photos. The first one is of the sunset from the top floor where I am living now. These photos are in reverse of how they were taken. Evening first, morning last...
The next photo is of a woman I met here on my last trip, Aleene Trammel. She has been coming here since 1981. Her little dog, Tiny almost died one week before this photo was taken. He was banged around at the airport and sent through the x ray machine. Aleene gave him mouth to mouth recitation to keep him alive. You can see the love in her face for Tiny.
She is living in Chapala in a motel. It is where I lived on my first trip. The rooms are around two hundred dollars a month and it is just half a block from the Plaza. That works for an elderly person. I liked it the first trip because I couldn't walk much with my bad knee. It is a clean, safe motel. Locked outside gates at night. The people living there are friendly and helpful.
The next two photos are of a young man who makes jewelry from natural objects, beans, etc. I bought a couple of his necklaces at Christmas time for gifts. Most of them cost 150 pesos. That is well under fifteen dollars in American money and it must take him many hours to make each object. Maybe that is why he isn't smiling. I didn't see him doing any business and he couldn't be making much money with such low prices.
The Ajijic art fair is the next photo. I was taking some photos of it when an American woman yelled angrily at me from across the plaza that I wasn't allowed to photograph the paintings. She also shook her finger at me as if she were scolding a bad little girl. I don't know what she thought I would do with them, take the photos and put them on my wall? Or copy them and sell them? She was extremely rude to me and I quickly left the scene.
I took two photos of murals on the walls in Ajijic. There are murals all over town. I will take more photos of them in the future.

The church bells were ringing in the plaza and I photographed two dogs who were looking up at the church. Those bells are loud. They hurt my ears. I can't imagine how loud they must have sounded to the sensitive ears of dogs.
The last three photos were taken at the morning meeting at LCS. Sunday Open Circle. I was a bit bored, as I usually am in lectures so I took a photo of a friend. He loves flowers. Every time I see him I get flowers from his back pack. So I put them on the table and photographed them. They last longer in a photo. He put one behind his ear and smiled. I couldn't resist taking his picture.

The last photo is the Open Circle meeting in progress. I didn't stay until the end. I went out the back and on down to the plaza for the art show and enounter with the angry American woman....
I went on to the American Legion for afternoon hamburgers and lemon pie with my friends. Again I was snapped at by an angry American woman. I bought two pieces of pie and I asked if she would cut them and put them on four small plates so I could share them with my friends. Each piece was too much for one person. She said, You only bought two pieces, not four. We are all volunteers here and we have to wash all these dishes........ Well, okay, at least she cut them in half. But I was put off by her anger. Okay, more than put off, I was shaken.
Twice in one day I was the object of anger from American women. I felt like I was a misbehaving little girl, doing naughty things..... One reason I came to Mexico was to avoid those kinds of feelings. (Americans are generally far more aggressive and outspoken than the Mexicans.) But it isn't possible to run away from one's interior ghosts. I grew up with a lot of criticism and have never learned to deal with it.
I have to work on my reactions so I don't take things so personally and automatically lapse into defensiveness.

That is the story of my Sunday.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Living Green

I received an e mail from a a woman who has a site about living green. Her name is Heather. Her site is It is an interesting site with lots of ideas on saving money and saving the planet. My friend was here from San Blas for a few days and she talked about our energy foot prints...

I may not be using the right words but she meant how much of the Earth's resources we use in our daily lives. I have been thinking about what I use. Moving here to Mexico drastically cut down on my foot print. This is not the reason I moved here. I hate to admit it but my reasons were purely personal and selfish. I wanted out of the rat race up in the States. I didn't want to continue paying for a car or high energy bills. I just wanted a simple life where I had free time to do as I pleased. I was tired of all the pressures to maintain, like a rat on a treadmill.

Every time I turned around up there I had another unexpected bill or tax....It was out of control and I had this feeling of, Stop the world, I want off..... The side benefit is that I am also helping everyone by my simple life. It is a lesson for me, do what is best for yourself and most likely that will be what is best for others too. Such a simple lesson but hard for a person like me to follow as I have to constantly remind myself that I deserve to have a good life. I deserve to be happy. I deserve to create the kind of world that is fulfilling for me.......I have that here, now.

My Writing Style

Today I received an e mail from a man about my blog. He liked the blog but thought my style was bland. I have not written in a blog before this and I apologize for my style. I had the idea that people scanning blogs had short attention spans and didn't want to read anything that was too complicated. That is an insult to the readers. I see that now.

But I am so cautious of how to write or what to write. I am sending this out into the world and I have no idea of how it will be received. I don't want to offend anyone! I don't say a lot of things that are happening in my life here in order not to upset anyone's sensibilities.....That does make for bland writing. There are other questions too. Like how much of my private life do I want to put up for the world to see? Not that the world cares one little bit. One person may care. And I don't want to offend that one person. People pleasing I guess........ Not a very good trait.......

By trying not to offend anyone I have washed out my personality. I am full of doubts here. I have problems and maybe these problems would give a better idea of what it is like to live in Mexico. I don't know if i will be able to over ride my extreme caution in what I say here. But I will try...... For those people who I might offend. Please forgive me in advance. Patricia

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Chosen lifestyle

There are many ways to live here in the Lake Chapala area of Mexico. As many or more choices of life styles as in the States or in Canada; from the gated communities of the wealthy where the only contact with Mexicans is by way of personal servants to living in Spartan rooms in areas teaming with life where most communication is in Spanish.

This is a diary of the lifestyle I have chosen. I am a house and dog sitter. Sometimes I live in mansions. When I am not house sitting I live in a casita, which is a small two room house in the yard of a mid range home. Many houses here have casitas. They may have originally been built as housing for the maids. Sometimes now they are rented out to the less than wealthy longer term tourists, the snow birds as we are called. We fly in for the winter, mostly from the States and Canada and go home when it warms up in our own towns.

My name is Patricia Walker. I am sixty four years old. I am not much of a joiner although there are many clubs in this area. One could be busy from morning to night time, going from one club, art show, performance or meeting to another. But I rarely go to them. I prefer to take long walks through the village and watch sunsets over the lake.

If you are curious about changing your life and moving to Mexico full time or just as a snow bird, I hope my diary will give you an inkling of what to expect here.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Late afternoon at the Lake Chapala Gardens and the Ajijic Pier

I went to the Lake Chapala Society Gardens around five this evening. The light was soft and brought out all the colors in the flowers and plants. I couldn't resist taking more photos.

I walked the two blocks down to the Ajijic pier again and watched the sunset while my friends went to an AA meeting in the back garden at the Lake Chapala Society. There are many AA, Al Anon, GA and OA meetings here. I think there are AA meetings almost every day of the week. They are large meetings for the size of this town and many of the members have long term sobriety. These are English speaking meetings. The only meeting I haven't seen for people speaking English are NA meetings.

I am not a meeting person. I get uncomfortable and want to be out walking around. I always think I will go to lectures or meetings about various subjects but when the time comes, I pass and go on a walk around town. There are meetings here every day. Clubs galore.

I may go to the camera club one of these days and learn how to erase the photos on my digital camera. I can't go much longer before my camera is full. Too bad I don't have an instruction book for it. I am not cell phone savy either. I don't know how to erase or pick up messages on it. One of these days I will be dragged into the twenty first century. I don't like all these electronic gadgets. They just seem to make life more complicated. But here I am typing away on a blog. I am surprised at myself. Guess I will have to change my self image.
Now I am getting e mails from people from all over the world. They think I am the expert on Lake Chapala and I have only been here a few months. Less than a year total..... Mass communication. A blessing and possibly a curse. I don't want to lead anyone astray. Lake Chapala is my heaven but it might not be yours. My friend from San Blas has told me for years that she had found her PLACE in the world and I was always a little envious when she said that to me. I hadn't found my PLACE until I came here. But my place may not be yours. I can only find answers for myself.

I have signed up to help out on Fridays at the LCS with membership. I am not much of a volunteer either but this community has done so much for me that I want to pay it back with some of my time and energy. I enjoy doing it because I get to meet new people and learn all about them. I like to see what brings them here. Sometimes I think of the underground railroad. Stations along the way. When people ask me online all the kinds of questions about this place I think, I am just one of the members of the underground railroad, guiding people to a new life of freedom. I have a vivid imagination. Don't take me too seriously.

Casa Valdez Studios

My son, David Valdez, set up this blog for me. I am not very computer literate but I am learning. He has had a blog for several years. Jazz. If you are interested in Jazz, click onto his blog:
Casa Valdez Studios

Thank you David for giving me this new interest. I am having a lot of fun writing on my blog. I am easily pleased now that I am away from all the distractions in the States. Every day is a new adventure for me. Just walking the streets of Ajijic gives me great pleasure. So much to see. I have heard that an active mind will stay flexible and young. Seeing and learning new things, especially learning a language, keep the mind active.

No gracias........No dementia blues for me........Give me Jazz instead!!!