Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Sharon and Allen Visit

Sharon and Allen arrived for a six day visit on May 12th. They chose to rent one of the casitas on the ranch rather than stay in our spare bedroom. We took them to Guadalajara for a day in steaming heat but we managed to see all of the sites and ate in a wonderful restaurant called the Adobe which is at the back of an amazing shop. The service and the food were excellent.

We walked for miles around this town as well. Greg and Allen ran or climbed the mountain every morning while Sharon and I ate muffins at the Lake Chapala Society. We played cards and dominoes in the evening. One evening we invited our "new" friends Donna and Douglas over for drinks and munchies and then we went to our favourite pizza place called La Toscana. We ate dinner out almost every night and had a wonderful time one evening at the Chili Bang Bar.

On Sunday we walked the Malacone (boardwalk) in Chapala and ate lunch in an authentic Mexican restaurant along the water.

Greg and Allen took Lucky yesterday to have Dr. Memo remove her stitches from her spaying. She is leaping and running and has become a regular ranch dog and we have no fear now of her getting pregnant by Samson who is her father. Dogs don`t seem to care much about incest.

Sharon came to the orphanage with me yesterday and one of the kids Filiberto really took a shine to her. Sharon is a social worker and I`m sure the whole experience was an interesting one from her professional perspective. While we were at the orphanage, Allen went to the local barber shop for a 4 dollar hair cut and attended Spanish class with Greg.

We laughed and gossiped and generally had a lovely time with S. and A. They left this morning to go to West Palm Beach for their son`s graduation from University. My cousin Shelly arrives tomorrow and we plan to have a ``spa`` type time together with pedicures, manicures and massages planned. Everything is so reasonable here. A manicure and pedicure is 150 pesos about 12 dollars.

Sharon wrote a much too complimentary blog of her own about their visit, but it`s too embarassing to share it all. I have extrapolated some of what she said below:

``How does one describe the magical Garden of Eden........We wake up greeted by the cheery musical orchestra of birds of every colour. The sun is warm and soothing and our eyes do not know where to look first. There is the natural vegetation - mother nature`s gifts - of bushes, trees and flowers. The fragrant smells of these flowers is dizzying. The visual expanse of the mountains, the lake and the charming casitas and the tidy store fronts in town and the proud-standing church in the town square were all delightful to see.

Thanks to Lynne and Greg for this amazing experience and for showing us this beautiful and luscious part of the world.``

I think Sharon and Allen enjoyed their stay. They were a pleasure to host......very generous and appreciative of our efforts.

Did I mention....it`s stinkin hot here!

Monday, May 3, 2010

May 3 Update

I'm trying to work out some sort of training schedule for myself for the marathon(s) this fall. I've been getting my butt out of the door over the last few days anyway. Friday I ran for 40 minutes and then did a combination of running and walking up the mountain. I ran up to the Shrine, then walked to the Cornfield and then the Saddle. Between the run and the climb, I was out for 2 1/2 hours and I thought, as the pain in my legs seemed to be saying, that I should take it easy on Saturday.
Saturday morning my legs were killing me, but I knew if I went our for a walk they'd feel OK. I decided I needed a project so, I walked and photographed the Shrine walk, from our Casita.

I took the GPS along too so I could get some data on the walk. It turns out that the door to door distance is 5k with an altitude gain of a little over 650 feet. 3k of the 5 is from the house to the trail head. The climb is 1k with about a 300 foot climb.

I tried to take each image from where the last image left off. the first few are from the house. I love the picture of Pedro. Pedro is the father of 4 of the folks who work here on the grounds. That is one of his standard stances!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

San Antonio Trip

On Thursday April 22nd, Greg, Lina and I head out at 6:00 in the morning to begin our 17 hour driving trip to San Antonio Texas. Lina is our Spanish teacher and she was going to visit her kids. Greg and I needed to leave Mexico to renew our six month visitor's permit and our car permit.
We passed through several Mexican states of which I can only remember some. We live in Jalisco, next came Aguas Calientes and then San Luis Potosi and Nueva Leone. That's enough geography. The Sierra Madre mountain range was stark and beautiful. We watched the vegetation change and Lina taught and reviewed our Spanish which was an added bonus.....free lessons. We only got stopped by one policia....a state cop in the state of Nueva Leone. He took Greg's licence and said we'd have to back track to the town which was two hours back towards home and go to court the next day to pay the ticket. I felt sick. Lina turned on her charm and of course the fact that she speaks fluent Spanish helped too. The outcome was a good one. He let us go. By the way, we offered to bribe him, but he said he was a new breed of police and that they were working hard to change the image and he didn't take bribes....refreshing.

We got to the border at Nueva Laredo in daylight which was an important goal. Border towns are notoriously dangerous, especially at night. There have been many Narco-trafficking incidents in Nueva Laredo. They made us take off our car sticker and we crossed into the United States without incident. Life changed immediately on the other side. Two totally different worlds with just an imaginary line separating them. Actually they are separated by a river called the Rio Grande on the Texan side and the Rio Bravo on the Mexican side. I have to admit my heart did a little flip at the sight of "more" familiar signs displayed on fast food restaurants and everything written in English!
After the border we still had a three hour drive north to get to San Antonio. We arrived at our Comfort Inn at around 10 p.m. We were sweaty and exhausted. Lina's friend picked her up at the hotel and Greg and I headed to bed.

We couldn't wait to get to the MALL the next morning.....The Gap, Old Navy, Macy's and T.J. Max. We both bought some new shmatas to wear in the heat of Ajijic and sated our need for some good old home style retail therapy. We spent the next couple of days on the famous San Antonio River Walk, truly candy for the eye with beautiful hotels, shops and restaurants all along the banks of the San Antonio River. We took an informative boat tour, we ate, we ogled, we walked and we were delighted by this incredibly beautiful part of the city. Everyone who has never been needs to put it on their "Bucket List."
We also visited the Alamo, had a very lovely reunion with Greg's old working buddy Cindy Leeming who now lives in Florida but happened to see my facebook blurb about going to San Antonio and was going to be there with her beau Ed Womble. Two lovely people. We brunched together and had drinks on the River Walk. Lina took us for a lovely dinner at her daughter's restaurant.

We left the grand town of San Antonio late Sunday morning. We arrived at the border and renewed everything without too much hassle....so great to have a fluent Spanish speaker in tow. We drove until just before nightfall and stopped in Saltillo (they mine salt there) Mexico for the night. We stayed near the square at an old Colonial Hotel.....very different from the Comfort Inn. We got up at 6 a.m and headed out arriving in Ajijic at around 2 in the afternoon. Mission accomplished.

I went for a walk one Sunday morning and just took pictures around town and of the Spring flowers. I've broken them into two albums.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

April 4 Update

I've got to admit, I was a bit worried about having two kids here with us for 10 days. I'm not that good with kids (big surprise right!). What a great surprise for us. Nadia's kids Nicholas and Jacob were a blast to have around. They never did any of that sucky whiny stuff that makes me crazy. Nadia and the kids left a couple of days ago and both Lynne and mentioned at dinner that we missed them all.
Nadia and I did some good training together. Ron and Bev and coming next weekend for a few days. I should get some good runs in with Bev too.
So, I've taken a bunch of pictures lately. I spent the afternoon sorting out 1200 pictures, tossing out about 1000 of them and breaking the rest into albums. I'll post a few now and more later in the week.

There was a very cool reenactment of the whole Easter story here in town. On Palm Sunday, the main street past the town square and into the church was covered in palms and grass and stuff for Jesus to ride the donkey into town.
This Friday, Good Friday was the reenactment of the Crusifixation.

On a much lighter and fun note though are all the pictures we have from Nadia and the boys visit.
The Boys - 

I've got some great pictures from the dinner we had here with all the gang who left to go back home after spending the winter here.
It's spring here too and the flowers are absolutely amazing. I've still got to sort through those pictures as well as some picture of a new born colt. I'll try to get them done shortly.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Nadia 2nd Update - March 31

It's Wednesday afternoon and the boys and I need to pack for our 10am flight tomorrow morning for Toronto. As I sit here trying to decide what to write about I can barely think over the noise.  Birds, hundreds of birds chirping, dogs barking, the wind blowing lemon and lime trees gently and the occasionally lemon dropping to the ground.

What I want all of you to know is that the Mexican people are as warm and welcoming as the beautiful climate. Smiles and twinkling eyes greet you almost everywhere.

We visited an artisan community (Tonala) and bought some lovely pewter, glass at the glass blowing factory, trinkets and mementos at various town markets, walked the boardwalk in Chapala, went horseback riding along the lake, had dinner under a rubber tree (no relation to Trojan, a real rubber tree), watched Jesus ride a donkey over a palm leaf covered road to the community square and Basilica, spent a day at the Mineral Spa and spent 2 ½ hours moving from one mineral tub to another including a mud bath.  God bless the 90 year old gentleman who decided he needed to help me rub mud on my back and butt!

Had a lovely going away dinner party for the departing ranch residents and managed to get drunk on 2 Corona (b.t.w, Corona on sale at the local Wal-Mart, 24 Corona for $16Cdn...no, I don’t have any room left in my suitcase).  The boys 9, & 12 had a couple of massages each! I think I'm in trouble because they are already asking when they can have one at home....
I need to pack and really don’t want to.  Nicholas, Jacob and I truly had the best time.  We managed in our short time ( okay not so short if you ask Greg : ) )to develop a routine... fresh mango’s for breakfast, walks to the mountain, laying by the pool, drinks on the patio with friends at happy hour.   There is no question as to why Lynne and Greg decided to end their search here in Ajijic, its a beautiful magical place that has everything you could ask for, everything except all of you.

A huge thank you to Lynne and Greg for the best 10 days, laughter, friendship, and hospitality. A teary good bye to my great friends and their beautiful new home.

Thank you.

p.s  To those of you with children, I think Greg is turning a new leaf and wants to spend quality time with your kids.  Consider Mexico as a summer camp for your kids!!! Trust me, Greg will love it.  : )          xoxoxooxox
(Greg Note: - Obviously, Nadia spent a bit too loing at the happy hour bar and has me confused with some other kid lover!)

Monday, March 29, 2010

March 29 - Nadia Update 1

Okay, I complain regularly to Greg that he and Lynne had become very lax about updating the blog, after all what did they do all day anyway???
Well, I can tell you first hand that doing ‘nothing’ is very time consuming!!!
The boys and I arrived Monday March 22nd in the afternoon.  Greg picked us up and we drove the 30 min from the airport in Guadalajara to where Greg and Lynne live in a paradise community called Ajijic.

When I envision paradise, this place, the ranch is what I pictured.  The flora, greens, pink, yellow; lemon, lime and pomegranate trees, vibrant colour everywhere you look.  The back drop, the mountains on one side the lake to the other. Breathtaking.

After settling in on Monday and making sure Greg could be left alone with the kids without fear that he would not tie, or duct tape them to one on the nearby trees we began exploring.

Tuesday Greg, the boys and I climbed up the mountain to the shrine. Elevation? From the ‘casita’ to the base of the mountain we had already climbed 200 feet.  We climbed up the mountain to the shrine, aprox., 5700 feet above sea level.  I was breathing hard, and trying to get a deep breath was almost impossible. We spent the rest of the day by the pool and enjoying the day. 

Greg & I ran the hardest 5k (30:30) I have ever run.  5k over uneven cobble stone, uphill and with what felt like no oxygen in 26C heat.
Thursday we went back up the hill.  Greg and I made it up to the corn field, another 20 minutes higher than the shrine.  View, awesome! And cross training takes on a whole new meaning after walking in altitude for 2 hours.
Saturday we ran 14.5 km.  It took 3km just for my panting to subside.  It’s impossible to get a deep long breath. You find yourself panting and breathing hard at the least bit of exertion.  We found a comfortable pace and ran for 1:34

This morning we thought it would be fun to race up the mountain to the shrine. Greg kicked my ass and got there 30sec before me.  I was bent over and breathing hard when I finally got to the top (no comments you perverts).  There was a kid sitting on top of the shrine enjoying a joint eyeballing Greg and I for the nut cases we were.  The kid had ridden his bike up the mountain Some sections of the climb are so steep, I guess you gotta be stoned to ride back down.  Anyway, why not race down the mountain???? I redeemed myself though and made it down in 6min 30 secs!  (Greg behind me : )   )

We checked the Around the Bay results when we got back, we were thinking of you guys all morning.  Congratulations!!! Kind of bitter sweet thinking back to last year when we were both there running the mountain.
If any of you are wondering, the kids are still in good health, and Greg has yet to make good on his treats to duct tape them to a tree, or sell them into slavery to the locals.

We are having the best time.  The weather spectacular, almost 30C everyday.  I honestly can’t thank Greg and Lynne enough for taking us around to the sights and for their incredible hospitality.  This week has flown past, and honestly doing nothing is very time consuming....................!

Friday, March 26, 2010

March 26 Update

Nadia and the boys are here this week and we're having a blast. Her boys are great . . . well . . . . as great as kids can be anyway!!

Truthfully, they are so well behaved it's unbelievable! They are a pleasure to have around. We've done the Wednesday market and the Tonala visit. We watched glass bowls being blown yesterday and picked up tons of Pewter stuff while we were there. The boys are having a great time in the pool.

It's springtime here as it is back in the 'old country'. I think we talked about the purple Jacaranda trees the other day. I took some pictures (for a change) of them and the strangest looking pink feather like flowers I've ever seen. I haven't found out what they're called yet.

I weighed Lucky today. She's up to 28.5 pounds already. I don't know if that's a lot for a 4 month old German Sheppard or not. We're just all happy as hell she's doing so well.

Most of the other folks who spend the winter on the ranch are leaving next week. It'll be a mixed blessing being here alone. It should be interesting.

Nadia is doing the next update.