Saturday, February 28, 2009

Saturday Morning at the lake Chapala Society

The last photo was taken on my walk home. All the others were taken inside the Lake Chapala Society this morning. I know I am starting to take photos of the same things over and over. One reason is that I can't do much until my wrist and knee heal.
Tomorrow will be five weeks since I slid across my lawn, banged my head into my wall and fractured my wrist in two places. My wrist still hurts so I am trying not to do much. Aside from that, I guess I am a creature of habit. You know the saying, If it works, don't fix it....... That is kind of the way I live. If I enjoy something, then why not do it all the time?
Makes me think of my son when he was a little boy. I had a hard time finding food that he liked. He told me he liked chicken pot pies. I must have served him chicken pot pies for weeks until he complained. I said, I thought you liked them. He said, Yes, but not ALL THE TIME. So my excuse is my physical problems. But in reality, I love my little routines...... I am going to do something different this afternoon. I am going to a concert. Maybe this evening I will have something new to say about my life.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday Night in Ajijic

I haven't written much the past couple of days. But my life is still going along. Quite nicely. This evening I walked to the local restaurant and four of my men friends from Chapala were sitting at a table there. I sat with them for awhile. One man, a Mexican named Ed, had been a dance teacher. I had promised myself to not dance until my wrist and knee healed but I couldn't resist...... I danced a few dances with the dance teacher. What a pleasure it is to dance with a man who knows so much. I felt like I could dance too..... And then I danced with my friend Don, the singer. It was so much fun. I like those odds. So often here it is the opposite, four to six women for every man. I can see why men here have so much fun.

I walked home the three blocks with the moon for my guide. I can still hear the music from my little casita. I hate to think of going back to the States. I am beginning to fall in love with dancing. What a life!!!!! I feel thirty years younger. I haven't danced for thirty years. WOW, it is good to know that I am still alive and I can still dance. And that men still want to dance with me.....

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Cost of Groceries

I went to the grocery store today. I bought a package of four double rolls of toilet paper, one filet Mignon steak, one chicken thigh and leg, enough baby red potatoes for two meals and two cans of beer. Total cost was 60 pesos. Today that is four dollars American.

I had a delicious lunch from Gigi at the Boston Deli; two Halibut steaks, rice pilaf, mashed potatoes, cooked fresh carrots and broccoli and french bread for 35 pesos, two dollars and thirty three cents. I can't afford to eat this good in the States.

Morning Walk in my Neighborhood in Ajijic

I took these photos this morning when I took a walk in my neighborhood. There seems to be something wrong with the lense of my camera. When I take photos of the lake I always have a smudge on the photos. Looks like it is really time to get a new camera.

I was feeling much better after my walk. It is too beautiful here to hang on to a bad mood.

Feeling Blue

It is Thursday morning. I haven't been writing much the past few days. It has been a month and my wrist still isn't healed. I am thinking it may be partly due to using it for typing. So I am not typing much now. I am tired of having these physical problems. First my knee and now my wrist. It depresses me to be so disabled. I haven't wanted to write about how I am feeling. No need to bring anyone else down with me.

I can't travel around and see new things. I am trying to be more cautious so my wrist and knee will heal. I am spending my afternoons sitting in my garden and reading. I am lucky to have the library at the Lake Chapala Society. I am reading The Hacienda a memior by Lisa St. Aubin de Teran. It is about a woman who goes to an isolated ranch in the Andes with her new husband and he leaves her alone in an extremely primitive house surrounded by unfriendly people and no food and her struggles to survive. So why am I feeling sorry for myself? I am living in a paradise with friends, food and comforts. I just have these two physical problems that will heal soon. I need to be more patient!

I spent another Sunday with the Mariachi band at the hotel but too many Mariachi photos on here already.

Last night at the local restaurant there was a four piece string band playing traditional Mexican music. It was beautiful. My friend's boyfriend, the Mariachi singer, joined them and sang some soulful songs. He loves to sing and if he is with us and we are out and about and there is music, he will get up and sing. It is great fun but impossible to be invisible with him around. (I usually like to keep a low profile when I am out in public. Shy is the word some people would use. I would say Cautious.) But he knows everyone in town and is always bubbling over with life. No wonder my friend is so enamored with him.

Someone at the camera club figured out how to get the flash to work on my camera. I tried taking photos but all the camera showed was black, even with the flash. Looks like I will have to buy a new camera. I don't like buying anything. If it costs over a hundred dollars I will obsess about it for awhile, weeks sometimes, just to make sure that I buy the right thing and don't waste money. I rarely buy anything new. I will first try to find what I need in thrift stores or yard sales. Unfortunately thrift stores and yard sales are expensive here. I guess this can be a good quality. It allows me to be able to travel with the money I save. If only I were physically well.......

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Parade

Many dancing horses in the parade

Trucks made into floats. people dancing on the floats.

Children in costumes and riding on floats. The older ones threw candy to the crowd. The younger children just looked confused and overwhelmed by it all.

A lot of cross dressing going on in this parade. Sometimes I couldn't tell the men from the women.

Beautiful floats

I am sure the woman in the picture above is not a man dressed up like one.

Above is another woman I can be sure is a woman.

Not so sure with some of these women.

Or these. But who cares? Men or women, they were having lots of fun.

The person in the above photo is carrying a bag of flour. People were throwing confetti and flour at each other all during the parade. IT WAS GREAT FUN.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Saturday Morning Breakfast at the Ajijic Plaza

These buildings aren't slanted in reality. It is just my camera. I wanted to have a longshot of the plaza restaurant and it is the only one I took.
A Mexican trying to make a living with his jewelry.

Photo of me at the plaza.

I had my friend take a couple of photos of me. The last two here. I usually avoid that like the plague but I thought it was about time I had my picture on the blog. I told her that I didn't like my photos or looking in mirrors.
She said, You do know that is a sure sign of low self esteem.
Yes, I know that. I know myself quite well.
Then she said, I always felt like that in my home in the States. I had huge mirrors in my bathroom that I never looked into but now that I am here and in love, I feel beautiful. I feel like a woman again.
I laughed and said, And what does that feel like?
She said, You'll see when you fall in love and you will fall in love. This is a magical place.
Bless her, such an optimist....... You can see that I still have the brace on my arm. I think the doctor knows me too. He said it would probably take me two weeks longer to heal than most people because I mistreat my body...I have to admit that typing with that hand hasn't been good for the healing process. I am also an impatient person. I don't like to wait. I want to be well and I want to be well now.
I took photos of the murals on the wall there too and a man selling jewelry. It was crowded there this morning. I also met a very nice woman who said she had seen my blog when she was up in Seattle. She is housesitting in a beautiful home here that is for sale. I felt good to know that she read my blog. She seemed happy to be here. She said the house is up a hill so she bought an old car to drive while she is here. She said the insurance was only a hundred dollars a year. Oh yes, I also ran into another woman acquaintance. She said that yesterday she met a handsome American man and she spent the day with him. New possibilities for her......
After we ate we walked to the bank. The local bank is paying fifteen pesos to the American dollar now. WOW....... I wonder when this is going to end......
I talked with a Mexican woman today. She speaks perfect English and has been married to an American man for forty seven years. They seem happy too. They have a beautiful home in the heart of Ajijic. She said that the Mexicans don't save money like the Americans do. They go to the beaches and have fun with it. She said that the Mexicans have been through too many devaluations of the peso to put it in banks and sit on it. I thought about that. My own net worth has gone down by half in the last year or so. Why did I save anyway? I should have been out spending it too. I have a lot to learn from the Mexicans.

Saturday Morning and the Cost of Living

The peso falls a few cents everyday. Today it is 14.81 pesos to the dollar. I am reluctant to get money out of the ATM machine because it will be worth less the next day. So far the prices here have not reflected these changes. It is only a matter of time until they catch up to our valuable dollar. In the meantime I am enjoying my new found prosperity. I don't mind going out at night and having what I once thought of as expensive meals. Last night I went out dancing again at La Bodega. Today I hurt all over, especially my bad knee and fractured wrist. I am going to have to quit the dancing until my body is healed. But it is hard to resist the music.

I have no plans for today, Saturday. Maybe I will walk into the plaza, have breakfast and decide after that. I got a book at the LCS library yesterday, Paradise of the Blind. Written by Doung Thu Huong. It was banned in Vietnam. It is about a young girl growing up in Vietnam in the 1980s. About the crushing poverty and damage caused to her family by the land reform movement. But it is also about what a person owes to his or her family. How much do you sacrifice your own life for those you love? I can understand why it was banned. It shows a bad picture of Vietnam during that time period.

It makes me feel extremely fortunate to be living here now. In the States I would be considered in the poverty zone. Any set back could be potentially devastating for me financially.
I have no health insurance. My knee operation cost me two thousand dollars here. My friend had the same operation at the same time but in the States. It cost thirty thousand dollars! My fractured wrist cost me forty dollars for the doctor visit and x rays. I would guess it to be a lot more in the States. It makes me nervous to be up there. Things happen and in an instant I could lose everything, just from a hospital visit.

Here I can live comfortably on my income. I am saving money every month. Considering that I have no car here and no insurance, no taxes, no heating or air conditioning bills, no phone, no cable television, those things added together are more than I live on here. My only monthly bill here is my rent. Plus the food here is cheaper too. Again I say, this is a great life!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday Afternoon at the Lake Chapala Society

I worked at the membership desk today at the Lake Chapala Society. We don't get much business these days because it is too late in the year. Most people have already joined. People stop by just to talk.

Today almost everyone I met was from Canada. Guess the cold has driven them south. Everyone was relaxed and friendly. I enjoy my time at the desk although I am still not well. I will probably spend the rest of the day relaxing in my garden with Chico. I got some good books at the library. I love to read and this is the only place I know of in Mexico that has such a large English Language library. That is the main reason I joined the LCS. Plus they have a large video library too.

I overheard two men talking at the outside cafe where my table was set up. One man said to the other, What is an expatriate? A man across the room said, An expatriate is a rebel. The other man asked, Is he wealthy? And the second man laughed. No, he can be dirt poor. It just means that he has given up his own country. The first man said, It seems to me that most of the expatriates here are artists, or want-to-be artists, liberals. I don't know if he was meaning that was a good thing or a bad thing. I think he was just stating a fact as he saw it.

Everytime I go back to the States my best friend says I am insufferable for the first month. She says all I talk about is how much nicer it is in Ajijic than in the States. Maybe my mobile home will sell soon and I can become an expatriate too.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Sickness and Reading

It is inevitable that at least once in my stay in Mexico I will get sick. The more often I come here, the less often I get sick. But it happens. I always keep a supply of pepto bismo in my bathroom. One of the topics of conversation I hear in Mexico is people trying to trace the source of their illnesses. If they can be traced to a particular restaurant, word gets around quickly. Maybe that is one of the reasons so many restaurants don't make it here. Always new ones are opening and closing.

When I first came here I always soaked my veggies in the purification solution. I don't bother to do that now. I think my illness had to do with steak too raw last night in a restaurant. But who knows. That is just an idle game we play to pass the time until we are well again.

I hope to be well by tomorrow. This is a light case. My friend Don was dangerously sick for almost two weeks here. He is finally coming around and gaining back the weight.

Maybe, like the song, I was just having Too Much Fun and this illness was a way to make me spend the day at home. I have been sitting in the sunshine and reading an interesting book by Annie Dillard, The Writing Life. I am copying a short passage from it:

"Admire the world for never ending on you--as you would admire an opponent, without taking your eyes from him, or walking away.

One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes."

I hope that you find inspiration in those words too.They could just be about living our lives. I see part of it for me to be about hoarding information on this area of Mexico. I am still getting comments from friends saying, Don't let people know about this place. It will be ruined. I am enjoying Anne Dillard's book tremendously.

My Communications System

I hope that Sue will read this post. She wanted me to follow her blog and I said that I spent too much time on my computer already just trying to download my photos. I thought the problem was a cheap camera but now I am wondering if it is the connection. Most of the time I can't get on at all. I do not have my own line. I am using Wi Fi from my landlord's house. And when I finally can get on, the connection is always very low. Most of the time I have to take my computer into the yard in order to get online at all. I can't get any videos. The connection is too weak. And as I already said, downloading photos takes forever. I am not in this place much so I don't want to invest in my own line. So I make do.

This situation doesn't bother me much because I remember the first trip I took to Mexico in 1990. I stayed for four months in a small fishing village and as I remember I had to travel into the next town just to find a phone and it was very expensive to call the States. That was the hardest part about being in Mexico, no communication with my family! So now I appreciate this limited connection.

I apologize to you Sue for not seeming interested in your blog. And I can't find your blog address anywhere. If you will forgive me, please resend me your blog address and I will do my best to keep up with it. My son also has a blog and I need to make more of an effort to read his too. Also If you come upon mispelled words in my blog it is because my spell check isn't working. I am doing things the old fashioned way, a dictionary. Sometimes I overlook mispelled words. Thank you, Patricia

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Don Wolf Singing at the Gatherings Restaurant and Bookstore

My friend Don Wolf started a singing gig today at the bookstore-restaurant across the street from the Lake Chapala Society. Gatherings, The Pleasure of Meeting. He is only singing in the first photo. But you can see that the tables are full. The food is good and inexpensive, no cover charge. He will be singing there every Wednesday at Twelve noon.
Everyone enjoyed the show. Don sings romantic songs. Especially Frank Sanatra songs. He has a beautiful voice. It was a great success. I hope all his shows are as well attended. It is a small patio and I have never seen so many people there. People talked when he wasn't singing, flitting from table to table. We all had a lot of fun. Don's phone number is : (045) 331 246 8317.

My other friend, also named Don, said that some people at the LCS thought I was his wife, and my friend Inez was his wife and another friend named Sandy was another wife. There are so many more single American women here, as everywhere, that each single man has his own little harem. Don got a real kick out of people thinking he has three wives. Single men here have it made!
The two photos of the paintings, I took upstairs at the bookstore. There are art classes up there. I don't know the schedule.
I finally made it to the camera class. Their solution to my problem was, Buy a new camera! I may have to do that but I hate buying electronic equipment when I know nothing about it. Any suggestions? I also don't want to spend a fortune. I lose things easily. And as you might guess, sometimes I am clumsy. I can even fall upstairs!
It takes me forever to download a photo on the computer. I start the download and go away to clean my house or read a book. It sometimes takes me hours to do a short blog.
Plus I still have my hand in a brace. It is difficult to do just the simple everyday things. Okay enough complaining. It is silly to complain when it is such a beautiful day. Forgive me, readers up north in the snow.
As I was walking home after the show I saw an open house sign. It was for two rentals in my neighborhood which is called Lower La Floresta. I love this area. It is close to the lake and the restaurants and the plaza. I can walk to all my favorite places from here and there are good restaurants nearby. The two places weren't bad and they were 550 American dollars a month. People ask me about the cost of housing here. Most places in my area are more expensive than $550. But I like my place better. I have a garden.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Storm Clouds and the Falling Peso

Coming to the end of the day. I just walked the half block to the water and took these photos. Looks like storm clouds but I don't think it will rain. This is my favorite time of year here, although this year will be the first time I will be here in the summer rainy season. Maybe I will like that even better. I can't imagine weather any nicer than it has been here for the past week or so.
I was here until May 23rd last year and it was getting kind of hot and dusty. Someone today said that this is Spring time for the lake area. I am sitting in my garden and the birds are singing, clouds drifting by overhead. Nice.
I talked with a friend by way of skype this afternoon. He lives in Northern California, where I am going at the end of March. He said it is stormy up there. I just say a prayer of thanks for being here in this beautiful weather.
I am getting used to my little place again. The luxury of the last housesitting job has worn off and now I like it here. It isn't so cold in my place now that our so called winter is over.
It was a quiet day for me. I took a walk, and spent a lot of time on the computer. Rested in my garden area. This evening the all women Mariachi Band from Guadalajara is again playing at la Bodega, the restaurant down the street from where I live. I will meet my friend there.
The peso is falling even further. Today it was over 14.70 to the dollar. I am almost afraid to get money out of the ATM machine. By tomorrow it might be worth less than today. Best to keep it all in dollars for now.

Coffee Shop in the Morning

I stopped at a coffee shop for a cup of chocolate before going to Gigi's for lunch. The second photo is the back garden. This little plaza is within walking distance of my house. As soon as I walked in the door and smelled the coffee I wanted a cup. Coffee grows in the hills around here and it is delicious. But I am still coffee free. I feel great. I just hope I can stay off it this time.
Addictions are hard to overcome. I have been struggling with this coffee addiction for years. I will get off it for a few weeks and then decide, I can have one cup. Before long I am back to two, three and four cups a day. My doctor told me not to drink it because it raises my blood pressure. My dentist told me not to drink it because it stains my teeth. But those things don't matter when I am again addicted. I am nervous if I don't get enough and nervous if I have too much. It is a bad addiction. Hope I can stay coffee free this time.
Do you see a pattern like this with your own addictions or are you addiction free? If so, good for you. I admire an addiction free person. There are so many things in the world that can trap us.