Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Sky Looks Beautiful

We've been busy the past couple days tackling home projects and I didn't have anything blog-worthy to write about. Well, I did run over a pigeon but aren't they supposed to get out of the way when you approach them at five miles per hour? I felt bad but it was gone when I returned and I figure the local dogs had a nice meal.

I was on the roof this afternoon and took a picture where you can actually see the bay. Nice day, eh? If you look closely you can just make out the water. Trust me, it's there. At the base of the mountains. Still don't see it? Between the yellow-orange building and the other with a bit of green. Hey, I didn't promise a good view.

But the REAL reason for this post and what I'm super excited about it THIS:

Tomorrow is exactly one year since we moved into our condo and it's taken us that long to break down and get a satellite. The Wings game starts in less than an hour so I better get moving. I have a lot of channels to search through!

PS - That black container behind the satellite dish stores the water. Most roofs in Mexico have them and when they are empty, we run out of water.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


Last night we went back to the salsa club, but not to dance. They have several flat-screen TVs and always have sports playing, so I finally got to watch an NHL game. Hockey is my favorite sport but it's not very popular here in the land of sand and palm trees. We've seen a lot of basketball but I've been anxious to see my Detroit Red Wings.

While there were a lot of people in the restaurant, the bar was empty and we settled into our seats, directly between the Red Wings game to our right and the Detroit Pistons on our left. I don't know what genius did the scheduling, but the two Detroit teams' games have been at the exact same time. Even the halftimes/intermissions have been coordinated. I nearly got whiplash trying to watch both games.

As I sipped my drink, my body moved to the salsa music and I realized I was in heaven. My two teams in front of me, my handsome husband at my side, and a live salsa band five feet away. When the hockey game ended the bartender switched the TV to the Cubs game and when I told one of the waiters that's where we used to live, he smiled and said they were really spoiling me.

Unfortunately both Detroit teams lost, so maybe I shouldn't have watched. (I'm superstitious like that.) We only danced one song but it was a fast one, and fairly long, and we managed to draw attention from the tourists. The blond kid was playing with the band again, this time with a proper Mexican-style shirt, so I've decided he must live here.

Ibis has today off so we're spending the day poolside at my girlfriend's house. I go there at least once a week but because of his work schedule he's yet to swim at her place. I guess there are a few nice things about living in Mexico...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

More on the Sharks

There haven't been any more attacks but apparently we're still in the news. Today I found an article on the Chicago Tribune's website that goes into more detail than what I found the other day.

Seems there are researchers here trying to determine why there have been so many attacks in the past month. No one has figured anything out but I did hear a grisly rumor. Some people think the mafia has been dumping bodies in the ocean and that's what is drawing the sharks closer to shore.

Note to self: stay away from the mafia AND the ocean. Got it.

UPDATE: Woah, now we're on the front page of CNN's website. We're famous!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Warm Welcome

We've been in Zihua for a year and I'm finally noticing a change in behavior from those I see every day. For the longest time they looked at me with a mixture of curiosity and indifference (if that's even possible), but lately they've taken a step closer.

Unfortunately, I'm not talking about people.

Just this morning two birds flew within a foot of my head while I was on my run and the stray dogs on the corner have decided I'm their new best friend. They follow me down the street when I go for my runs, often staring at my hands as if I'm hiding food. The birds were really weird. They tend to dive-bomb people when they're eating, for obvious reasons, but while I'm running? I got no food!

Yesterday I trudged up the stairs with the week's groceries and as I turned onto our landing to open the door, two pigeons took off from the stairwell. I screamed, they squawked, and feathers flew. (I didn't inhale.) Hopefully I scared them enough that they'll stay out of there.

I know I've complained that my neighbors aren't more friendly and still regard me as an oddity, but I was ok with my former arrangement with the animals!

One weird animal I saw the other day was a squirrel that looked like a calico cat. Squirrel body, cat coloring. I'm scared to think of how THAT happened! ;)

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

Happy Memorial Day!

Mexico does not recognize these American holidays, so I'll be having a happy Monday. :)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

No Beach for Me

Zihua is on the Pacific Ocean and with the ocean comes lots of creatures. Some people don't mind the creatures and throw themselves into the waves with nothing but a fiberglass board to protect them. Me, I rarely venture our past my hips.

Earlier this month the local papers showed pictures of a man who was bitten by a shark and later died. It was interesting to see a 12-inch gap missing from a human leg, but not something I'd like to see in person.

Last night I was at a friend's house and she told me there'd been two more attacks this weekend. Sitting with us was a man from California who'd flown here to surf and we tried to convince him not to go. He said he'd take his chances as long as there were other people in the water, figuring if there were ten surfers his odds were pretty good. It's still fairly early so I don't know if he made it back safely.

Meanwhile, the attacks have made worldwide news. Here are a few links if you're curious. Surfer's Village, BBC (although they don't cover the third attack), and Global Surf News.

Scary stuff!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

I Love the Internet

I feel like I've said this before. My memoir has half a chapter devoted to my adoration of the internet, so I suppose it only makes sense that I'd talk about it here.

Yesterday I tried to find an adapter for my AlphaSmart but the man at the store said they don't exist. "In this store, or in Zihua?" I asked, since most salesclerks are not that helpful and would rather you just leave than make them work.

"Zihua," he confirmed, so off to the internet I went!

Two minutes after googling serial to USB adapter I found many many stores that not only have the adapter I need, they'll ship it to me. Here in Mexico! Well golly gee. Granted it costs $35 to ship a $4 piece of equipment, but since the AS was free, don't mind spending a bit to make it work. I'm sure this won't be the last time I'll need such an adapter anyway.

I was beginning to worry that my new toy would be banished to the closet but now the day draws nearer where I can write (type) wherever my heart pleases.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Paying Bills

Bill paying in Mexico is a little different than in the US. They still want your money, but you have to pay in person and not all utilities are due every month. The only bills we get are the phone/internet (monthly) and electric (every three months).

Last month neither bill arrived and I spent the first two weeks of the month worried that our utilities would be cut off. Yes, I could've gone into the offices but the whole Spanish thing deters me from many tasks that I wouldn't have thought twice about in the Chicago. The phone was cut off last week - but oddly, not the internet - so I brought in an old bill and fumbled through an explanation. The woman scanned the bar code on the bill (much more convenient than rattling off account numbers) and told me the amount due. Easy peasy.

We still haven't received an electric bill so today I plan to go into the office. The main difference between the two utilities is at the electric company you pay at a reverse ATM, rather than dealing with an actual person. An infrared light scans the bar code then a display tells how much you owe. You insert bills and/or coins, then the machine gives you your change. Ibis seems to think I can bring an old bill and it will tell me what we owe.

We shall see.

The phone company does have an automatic withdrawal method but the first month we tried to use it, it only deducted the amount for the internet and the phone was cut off. I still haven't figured out how that happened.

In really exciting news, we've decided to finally get cable! We're still debating between satellite (more sports) and traditional cable (don't know the benefit) but hopefully we'll be running in the next couple weeks. As soon as the NHL & NBA finals are over.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Water is Overrated

Yeah, yeah, we need water to live, to bathe, to frolick in the yard, but really is it that important?

Um, yes.

Ibis had yesterday off so we spent the day doing couple things - we went out for breakfast, ran some errands, then watched the Manchester United vs. Chelsea futbol match in an outdoor bar. The length of the game (they were still tied after two overtimes and it went to extra penalty kicks) forced us to skip the beach, but we arrived home very relaxed.

Until we turned on the water.

Once again, we had none. This was a big problem when we first moved in a year ago and the developers hadn't yet put in the permanent pump, but it's been running smoothly since then. Every now and then we've run out - usually when guests are flying in from the States - but we could rely on it for the most part.

In the past month we've run out of water at least three times per week. We discovered the recent dryness at 4:30pm and it's 10:30am now. There is a water supply from the adjacent building so we can get water, but we live on the fourth floor and have to carry it up, two bucketfuls at a time. At least I'm getting my exercise.

As often happens when the pump runs dry, we ran out of drinking water, too. I don't generally use it for cleaning but when there's nothing else, you use what you have. Fingers crossed they fix it soon.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

What to My Wondering Nose Should Appear?

I woke up this morning to a different smell. An odor that hadn't touched me in months. I went to the window and it didn't register until I saw water pooled on the neighbor's roof and the basketball court at the nearby school.

It rained!

The air smells fresh! No more scents of garbage and dirt and animals lingering in the air. Now it smells like a rain forest. The sun has barely come out and I'm a little concerned how hot it'll get in a couple hours, but for now... heaven.

I also managed to write a bit last night. Not nearly as much as I'd hoped but I'm quite pleased with what I came up with. I'm still getting used to this fiction-writing thing and the pleasure that comes with it. Watching your characters do things you never expected and being able to make things up like pulling ideas from a hat. Today I'll go this way. I don't want to say I felt boxed in with my memoir, but this is a whole new ball game.

Speaking of which, go Red Wings!

Monday, May 19, 2008


I've been going back and forth lately about my writing. First I get frustrated with myself that I haven't been writing outside of this blog and my personal journal, but then I realize everyone goes through periods when they just can't. I don't have the typical obligations getting in the way - family, kids, work - but I do have my own issues.

The past couple months have really taken a lot out of me. All the unknowns with our immigration status, trying really hard not to play 'what if' (one of my favorite ways to pass the time), and still trying to adapt to our new lives; it's all zapped my creativity. I have done a little design work and even that has taken more effort than normal. I'm still thinking about my story and still feel that same excitement I did when the idea first came to me, but I can't seem to sit down and write.

Yesterday was a good example. I finished all the little things I always want completed before writing but ended up watching a movie instead. I worry that my emotional state will have a negative effect on the overall story and I don't want to have to rewrite whole sections because my head wasn't in the right place. Does that make sense?

Tonight I'm going to try again. When I last wrote two weeks ago, I purposely left off in the middle of a scene so I could jump back in without much thought. Hopefully it'll work.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

About That AlphaSmart

I just realized my AlphaSmart has been in my home for almost two weeks and I still haven't talked about it. I was waiting to give it a test drive until my friend left, so a couple days ago I fed him and parked on the sofa.

After setting the time and date - silly thing thought it was March 2000, but the time was eerily accurate - I wrote what I thought would be yesterday's blog post. I didn't write much because I still hadn't tested the whole transfer thing. Good thing, because I never looked closely at the cables and this thing comes with one of those round plugs with pins. A 10-pin, maybe? Not sure. Anyway, my computer doesn't have a compatible hole so now I need to find an adapter. It's really not a huge deal and I'm fairly confident I can find one - we might even have one hidden away in our Box of Cables & Plugs. Even if I have to buy one that's a small price for a FREE AlphaSmart.

I'll post that entry as soon as I get things rolling.

As for my first impression, the keyboard will take a little getting used to but overall I think it'll be a good tool for me. Much better than being trapped inside, especially now that the hot season is on its way.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Verdict is In

Last night.

Me: So honey, I meant to ask you. Why did you put that loose piece of bread in the fridge?

Him: Oh, well. I was going to eat it, but then, well, I forgot about it.

Me: So it wasn't on purpose?

Him: No, I forgot.

(here I explained about yesterday's blog post and how my readers all declared him, if not a genius, smart)

Me: So you're just lazy.

Him: *smiling* I suppose.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Genius or Lazy?

Please note the piece of bread on the middle shelf.

The other day I told Ibis that something in the fridge smelled bad. I keep it pretty clean so the odds of anything rotting in the back are slim to none, but something was clearly unhappy.

"Can you find what's causing the smell?" I asked.

"I'll take a look."

Famous last words. I didn't pay attention to whether he actually investigated the odor, but later in the day I saw this lonely piece of bread. My initial reaction was frustration. Why didn't he put the bread back in the bag when he decided not to eat it? But then I wondered, Did he leave it out on purpose?

I've heard that various food items absorb odors, often when you really rather they didn't, so maybe he was just being clever. As much as I enjoy giving him credit when it's deserved, I can't decide if this is one of those situations.

So what do you think? Genius, or lazy?

ps - For those of you who've heard me speak of it, the big dark object in the upper left corner is our 4L jug of wine.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

You Don't Know What You've Got, Till It's Gone

There are a lot of things to which you could apply that thought. Batteries when the power goes out, toilet paper after your morning coffee, ice cream that you didn't know you're husband finished. I said goodbye to a lot of things when we left Chicago and moved to Mexico, both tangible and not. I knew it'd be hard leaving my friends and family, but I never imagined how much I'd miss Thai food. I've gained a few things in return (mostly intangible) but I still look forward to someday having those former things back in my life.

However, the things I left behind are not the reason for this post. What I'm missing right now is the ability to breathe. Good ol' oxygen, in and out of the lungs. I'm clearly breathing since I'm able to type on my computer, but it's a struggle.

I've come up with a variety of explanations: my asthma is acting up, the air quality has worsened between increased fires and still no rain, or stress is finally taking it's toll. I've done some research online and difficulty breathing worsens at night, which I found out for myself a few days ago. We debated going to the hospital but I was able to calm myself down enough to fall asleep. The trouble with not being able to breathe is you start to panic and then it gets worse. Just writing about it is making it worse.

I haven't exercised for a couple days, figuring the least I move around the better. We have tracked down a doctor and Ibis just called to let me know I have an appointment later this afternoon. I'm not sure what all he can do besides give me medicine to open my lungs, but I'll be glad to find out if it's anything more serious.

For now I'll stick to shallow breaths and try not to get excited.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Back to Reality

Even though I haven't left Zihua, it feels like I've been on vacation for the past week. Going out to dinner and spending afternoons at the beach are typically a once a week occurrence for me, but when we have visitors all that changes. But just because I'm on vacation mode, that doesn't mean the rest of the town slows down.

I haven't posted about fires, the police, or random animals in awhile, but they haven't ceased their shenanigans. Just yesterday we saw half a mountain on fire, we passed a military check-point that included a troop truck filled with armed soldiers, and we had to abandon part of our day because of a possible retaliation killing. Last week men dressed as the federal police killed eleven people, including the two sons of a former mayor, and kidnapped his daughter. They still haven't caught the men responsible so we decided touring the city where that happened probably wasn't the smartest idea. I'm pretty sure the check-point was part of the real police's efforts to find them.

This morning I brought our friend to the airport and on the way back to the city saw burro in the median. Burros are everywhere in Mexico and it's common to see them along the highway, but this was at the entrance to town. Maybe it belonged to the men trimming the trees that are shapes like baskets and roosters (also in the median). A couple blocks further I saw a sheep tied to a tree in front of the bus station. I've seen a lot of goats but never a sheep, and certainly not in the middle of town.

I've seen the usual stray dogs and cats, but today they were all sleeping in whatever shade they can find. It's been close to 100 degrees with the heat index and everyone has slowed down a bit. Even the roosters. Last night when we went to bed it was 85 degrees inside our place, with 80% humidity. Caliente!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Belated Mother's Day Post

I meant to post this yesterday but I've had a touch of food poisoning since Friday so hopefully this is still relevant. Several of my readers have said how they like to hear about traditional Mexican things, so this post is for you.

All my life, Mother's Day has been the second Sunday in May. Easy enough to remember. Here in Mexico it's always May 10th and I thought that was kind of weird, but Ibis told me it took years for him to get used to the fact that Americans don't consider their mothers important enough to dedicate a specific day to them. He didn't say those words exactly but I feel it makes a better point.

The same way we celebrate Christmas and Valentine's Day on specific dates, they honor their mothers May 10th. Mexicans are big on flowers and balloons for their loved ones, whatever the occasion, and Saturday was the mother of all those days, ha ha. There were more vendors than I've ever seen, several concerts here in town, AND strippers from South and Central America! All for Mother's Day. The schools have special events, women in offices get gifts from all the men, then the family takes them out to eat so they don't have to cook.

Our friend who's visiting is a couple years older than my mother and it never occurred to me that people might mistake her for my mom. Then I looked at her and despite the fact that she's over half a foot taller than me, she does have light hair, pale skin, and blue eyes. It's become a joke all week and when the waitress Saturday night told us mothers get a free drink, I exclaimed, "Happy Mother's Day, mom!"

I figured my mom wouldn't mind. :)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Busy Couple Days

I'm just heading out the door but I hate to let more than a couple days go by without posting. We went dancing again last night and between the older salsa songs and our visiting friend, it almost felt like we were back in Chicago at our favorite club Buzz.

Thursday we went to Lazaro for the day to see Ibis' family and get a couple paperwork things done. Our license plates expired in March and we finally got that taken care of. Our nephew is getting huge - it's been a year since we've been here and there's a big difference between 2 and 3 years old!

Today we're going to my girlfriend's for a ladies day by the pool, should be fun!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

A Prodigy in Our Mix

We know our visiting friend from salsa dancing, so last night we went to the one place in town that has salsa every night. We arrived before the band but were assured they would start by 10:30pm. I was a little worried that would mean they'd arrive by then, but the equipment was already set up and they were singing before the scheduled start time.

The band had two drummers and two guitarists, one of whom was the lead singer. They wore coordinating teal short-sleeved button down shirts, white pants and white shoes, and called themselves the Blue Angels. Los Angeles Azules. As they were getting ready to start I noticed a teenager approach the stage and set down an instrument. Not very unusual, considering the surroundings, but he was blond, blue-eyed, and very white. And he wasn't wearing the Official Blue Angels attire.

(For those familiar, he looked exactly like my cousin Thom at that age.)

Now we were curious. He was there with two adults at the table next to ours but hovered near the stage. Just as the were about to begin, he unzipped the case and pulled out a violin.

"Oh cute, he's going to play a song with them," I thought.

Not quite.

Not only did he play the entire first set, he sang along! He looked so out of place; they were all dark with black hair and dark eyes, plus those matching outfits, and he wore a black t-shirt, jeans, and old Vans. But he rocked. I couldn't get over how comfortable he was up there. He couldn't have been more than fourteen years old but he seemed at home on this small stage in Mexico. He even had a couple solos.

We only stayed for the first two sets but I was impressed. This kid has found his talent at such a young age and is working it. Of course I was filled with a millions questions. How did he meet the band? How did they agree to play together? How did he learn all their songs? He appeared to be on vacation (I drew that conclusion from his translucent skin) so none of it makes sense to me.

We didn't dance many songs because it was so hot, but I didn't mind. This kid made my night.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


Guess who has new batteries for the camera?

First, here are my new flip flops. See how my nail polish matches so nicely? I swear it had nothing to do with my purchase...

new flip flops

Next, a candy wrapper purse I bought last Friday night. I didn't mention it before but figured I may as well throw in it there while I'm taking pictures.

candy wrapper purse,candy wrapper purse

And finally. The moment you've all been waiting for... my AlphaSmart!



I'll post some pictures either later today or tomorrow, but I have my AlphaSmart! It's so cute and light and portable and I'm very excited to put it to work. It's the Quick Pad version, whatever that means, and a couple names have come to mind, but nothing has stuck yet.

Any suggestions?

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Holy Guacamole!

Yesterday I did a very stupid thing. It started with the best intentions but it took a bad turn about an hour in.

You see, I accompanied a friend to the doctor, my doctor, because she needed to go and I speak better Spanish than her. Yes, my doctor thought it was funny that after months of needing Ibis by my side to translate, I'm now the translator. So anyway, we were in the doctor's office when I noticed the scale against the wall.

We don't have a scale at home and while I think that's generally a healthy thing, there comes a time when you do want to know how much you weigh. I knew I'd gained a few pounds over the past few months because while my clothes still fit, they take a little longer to get on. I've been blaming the heat and the fact that I begin sweating five minutes after toweling off from my shower (have you ever tried getting dressed while still wet?) but that little voice kept insisting there was more to the story.

In general I exercise regularly and eat very healthy. My biggest problem is portion control. Last month I decided I needed to crack down on myself and whip my butt back into shape. Literally. It all goes to my hips & rear end. I've been making progress and have started seeing a difference, but I still have a ways to go. Cut to yesterday.

I climbed on the scale and kept pushing the little weight further to the right. Everything here is metric so while I knew the number wasn't good I wasn't sure how much I'd gained until I got home and did the conversion to pounds.

Right now, AFTER losing some weight this past month, I'm STILL ten pounds heavier than I was when we moved here. I'm terrified to know what I weighed a month ago! It probably has a lot to do with the fact that we don't eat dinner until Ibis gets home from work, often close to 9pm. I know that's terrible but I really enjoy sitting down with my husband.

I really hope this isn't my age creeping up on me!

Monday, May 5, 2008

New Kicks

I'm really hungry and tired and hot but I thought I'd let you all know that I bought new flip flops today. They have lots of traction so hopefully I won't fall in the middle of the street anymore. Although, the minute I put them on and walked out of the store I proceeded to watch my toes and notice how the polish matches the sandals (pink). That's how I fell in the first place.

Eyes forward!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

I'm Getting a Sally!

I'm not sure if I mentioned but we have another Chicago friend coming to visit this Tuesday. She's staying for a full week, which will be nice because I won't feel like we're trying to cram everything into a long weekend. There really isn't that much to see here but it's amazing how quickly the time flew with my friends last month.

In addition to our friend coming to visit, she's playing courier pigeon. My cousin Jenna discovered that I've been jealous of my friend Janna and her fancy schmancy AlphaSmart, and offered to send me her old one, gratis. We looked up shipping costs from Michigan to Mexico and the cheapest I could find was around $80. Yowza! Something about international rates and it being an electronic device really jacked up the price.

Right about then Ms. Chicago Friend emailed to tell me she booked her trip for this week and the courier plan was put into action. Jenna sent her the AS via Priority Mail and it will arrive at Zihuatanejo International in two days. Yay!

Jenna named hers Sally and my friend Jes named hers Flor, so I've a couple days to name my new friend.

Friday, May 2, 2008

I Suppose I Asked for This

A couple days ago I said I was going to stay inside to avoid all the craziness, and aside from my run yesterday, I haven't left the house. Since Wednesday.

*checks calendar* Yep, it's Friday.

Funny thing happens when you don't leave the house. More accurately, nothing funny happens. Aside from seeing the same stories on CNN a hundred times and emailing every person I know, I don't do anything. The house is clean, the mending is done, I've eaten all the food, and I'm B.O.R.E.D. I bought a workout DVD the other day so I'd like to try that out this afternoon, then there's a going away party for a restaurant owner this evening.

Exciting, eh?

This weekend is a big holiday here in Mexico so I'm sure I'll have more stories for you soon.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Rooster Calisthenics

Staying inside yesterday was a smart move. The most exciting thing that happened was we couldn't cook dinner because we ran out of gas. This morning Ibis had the tank replaced and now we're good for another five months.

Now about this rooster.

While on my run this morning I saw a man carrying a rooster on the beach. Now, roosters are very common in Mexico and while I've seen them in some really odd places, this was my first sighting on the beach. I observed the rooster as the man walked towards an open area and one thing struck me: it wasn't moving. Not a feather. It looked like it had been stuffed. I was actually walking at this point and stared for a couple minutes and he didn't wiggle a toe. There was another rooster in the sand, near where I first saw the man, but that one was clearly alive.

Puzzled, I continued on.

On the way back I passed them again, but this time the rooster was most definitely alive. The man was holding it by the tail while the rooster scraped and clawed at the sand. It looked like he was trying to run. Sand flying, the man held on while the other rooster watched the spectacle.

I told Ibis about it when I got home and he's seen this man before. "He's training the roosters," he said.

"Training? For what?"