Monday, October 25, 2010

Marble Walls

I've already posted these photos on Facebook, but here they are again on my blog. I finally have the kitchen walls marbled and they look terrific! One of my neighbours lives in Guadalajara and owns a vacation home here in Los Amores. Darren has access to marble, granite, onyx and other stone through his job. Last year I saw what he had done in his house with this marble. I told him how much I loved it and that I wanted it in my kitchen. Then he told me that this marble is normally very expensive because of the shipping charges to get it to this area of Mexico BUT he had enough left over for my kitchen. I was thrilled and arranged to have it done by one of his Mexican workers when we came back this fall.

Every piece of this marble is hand chiseled by a family in Tepixe de Rodriquez in the state of Puebla, Mexico. Darren told me that this area is a famous place for fossils and dinosaur/mammoth remains. Quite a bit of the marble has fossils imbedded in it but I don't know if any of mine does! Here is a link to a You-Tube video of the marble being quarried and the fossils being documented.

I couldn't believe it but Darren and Francisco (aka Frank), arrived here Saturday morning. Darren had to painstakingly chip off the white paint which was on the concrete walls so the adhesive would allow the marble to adhere to the concrete. As Darren chipped away, Frank placed and sometimes cut the marble pieces to fit. It was fascinating to watch because it was like putting a jig saw puzzle together, or like me packing the van :)

It was all done by 8pm except for washing and polishing it Sunday morning. Every crook and cranny downstairs was covered in fine marble dust, but I didn't care. I LOVE IT!!!

Later this week we are hoping to replace all the wood baseboards in the house with Mexican ceramic tile. Robin and Sergio had all theirs done over the last few weeks. The worker they hired is fairly prompt and needs the work and money. A lot of houses have termites in these baseboards, as did Serge, which is why he had it done. Luckily we don't have them yet, but it is inevitable. We figure we'd better get it done before anyone else arrives and is competition for the workers!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Work, Fun, Paul, Nancy, Tutles!

Whew, we have been so darn BUSY here for the past five days. When we arrived Sunday we managed to empty the van, with help from our neighbours Robin and Sergio. Then we just vegged and hung out with them for the remainder of the evening. It was so great to see them! They had dinner all ready for us, which was so sweet.

Then, we literally spent Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday putting away all the stuff we had brought down. I hauled a Rubbermaid type tall cabinet with us to put in the laundry room. So that took time assembling. It also took hours to clean up the laundry room and finally put everything in a proper place. What a difference in there. I can actually find things now. I really should have taken a photo of the house before everything was organized to show just how much we had to put away. It looked like we had just moved in!

One of my co workers from the bank, Paul, and his wife Nancy, arrived last Saturday along with about thirty other family members and close friends. Their daughter Ashley was married at the Dreams resort in Nuevo Vallarta on Monday. I had arranged to meet up with Paul and Nancy on Thursday. We met at the resort, were introduced to the newleyweds, their son Brandon and a few others in their party and then took off for the day.

Paul told us that he wanted to take everyone to see the turtles being released but was unable to find out where to go. The tour operators at the hotel were not helpful. Of course Gail and I knew exactly where this wonderful rescue program occurs. Turns out it was just about a twenty minute walk on the beach from their resort. We made a quick stop to make sure there would be turtles that evening. The little baby pool where the hatchlings are kept until dusk had lots of little ones desperately trying to escape for their march to the ocean. The volunteers for this program keep them penned like this to help increase their survival rate. At dusk there are less predator birds overhead and the angle of the sun lessens their view of the little ones.

Then we came home for the afternoon. We had a much needed relaxing afternoon. Gail made lunch, Robin and Serge joined us and we sat outside and enjoyed the terrific weather.

As Robin and Serge had never seen the turtle release we decided to meet Paul and his family at 7pm to participate in the release. By the time we arrived back at the turtle nursery the baby pool was teeming. The volunteer worker told us there were approximately five thousand babies to release. Sadly, only 2% survive so they really do need all the help they can get.

I never tire of this amazing spectacle of nature!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

AHHHH Beautiful Bucerias!

We were so glad to finally reach home on Sunday. The drive was great, absolutely no problems. All those worries about the border were so overrated!!
After we left Madera California we continued east towards the Lake Havesu region of Arizona. That is where our friend and Bucerias neighbour Barry lives during the summer. His wife Marilyn stays in L.A. to work from September-November for the school board. They will arrive here Nov. 16. Anyway, Barry is a wine connoisseur and has been buying and collecting very high end wines for years. He stores them in a cellar somewhere near his home in California. He had asked us to take a case down to Mexico for him. We were happy to do it because he is so good to us here and helps us with lots of things. We managed to get 15 bottles of wine, four bottles of Marilyn's coffee flavouring and her SEWING MACHINE in the car! OMG the van was riding inches above the pavement. We had a lovely evening with him and were back on the road early the next morning.

We stopped in Tucson Friday afternoon for a Costco cheese run. What a nightmare! Friday afternoon, rush hour, Costco 12km off the highway and when we came outside were treated to a wind/thunder/lightening/rainstorm. We still had an hour to drive until we reached the border and our hotel for the night. It was not a pleasant drive.

However, the next morning we were over the border by 6:30 and had a completely uneventful drive. We stopped overnight in Guasave at a no tell motel which was clean and somewhat nicer than the place we stayed last year. The redeeming quality about these "sex hotels" is that you get a secure garage attached to your room so the car is safe from thieves and vandals.

The very best thing about the drive this year was crossing the border Saturday morning. What a difference it made in the volume of traffic. When we reached the first city, Hermosilla, around 11am, we breezed through in about 15 minutes vs the usual 30 or more. Then on Sunday we reached Mazatlan at 9:30 and there was so little traffic. I HATE driving through Mazatlan as it is confusing and busy and dirty and just awful. Sunday morning we got through in half the time. So, if we do this drive one more time as I have always wanted we will definitely plan the days the same way.

I will do another post in a day or so detailing our first few days here, but right now I am very tired and need to get some sleep!

We are thrilled to be back in Beautiful Bucerias!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

First Two Days

Wow, we've come a long way in the last two days. Yesterday we were on the 10:30 ferry to Port Angeles. It's always kind of sad leaving Victoria, knowing it will be six months before we return. We had a nice departure, going past the Ocean Point Hotel, where my sister was married way back when!

We had a really quick exit from the ferry and were through customs right away. Last year we were the very last vehicle to get cleared! The weather was awesome the entire way, getting up to 20C. It was a little strange not stopping in Tacoma to see Robin and Serge because that is always the start of our six month adventure. This year, they are waiting for us in Bucerias instead.  We got all the way to Eugene Oregon last night, had a great sleep and were so surprised to wake up to incredible fog and only 7C on the thermometer.

So that was the first three hours of our trip today. We had no rain, just amazing thick fog. Finally, just like magic, when we crossed into California, the sun came out and we've had blue skies the rest of the day. This is the day I will remember as one of scent sensations! Just around lunch time, I said to Gail "Can you smell onions cooking?" She said, "Yeah, onions or garlic." Well, what do you know, just up ahead was a large truck hauling tons and tons of onions. It must have been the sun cooking them up to a smell for me! By this point, just outside Redding California, the temperature was reading 30C. Later on, we passed the usual stinky farms; a factory that must have been making Parmesan cheese, very nasty,; and then then the most wonderful smell of fresh basil. We have no idea what or where it came from, but it was about five minutes of driving in an Italian kitchen! Marvellous!

We drove for just over ten hours today and now are in our hotel n Madera California, with very spotty internet access. Tomorrow, we head south and then east, into Arizona and will spend the night with our friend Barry.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Mexico 2010!

Today is Thanksgiving Day in Canada. We are grateful for many things: Health being Number One of course; then our wonderful friends and family; our beautiful Mexican home; and today the fact that I've got everything in the van! Whoo Hoo! I won't be able to see out the back very well, but I've been forced to learn to use my side mirrors. Today we are cleaning the house top to bottom and looking forward to an early, relaxing evening. We're booked on the 10:30 Coho sailing tomorrow morning to Port Angeles but as we clear U.S. immigration on this side, we have to be there by 9am. I'll try to update the blog as we drive to let you know where we are each night. Adios Amigos!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Getting Ready to Leave

It is so hard to believe that the summer (was it summer?) has slipped away so quickly! It may be partly because of two trips to the east coast since we returned to Canada. In May Gail and I both went to Halifax to spend a couple of weeks visiting her mother, who is now in a nursing home. She has dementia and that was hard to watch. So sad for Gail and especially Lillian.

Then in July I went to Newfoundland for a quick week. It was surreal to go to St. John's and drive past my parents house, knowing it no longer belongs to us. They bought the house in October 1960 so for fifty years that was the family home and of course where I was raised. The great thing was spending time with my family. I stayed with Brenda and Pete; went to visit Janet and Gape at their cottage on the lake (cabin on the pond in Newfoundlandese!) for a weekend; had the immediate family for BBQ at Brenda's so I saw Sean and Dianne. My wonderful Aunt Francie also stopped by for a while; visited with my Uncle Joe and Aunt Peggy.... I also managed to get a quick couple of hours at the annual Harte family BBQ reunion, where I saw and chatted with many of my cousins.  Then back to Victoria and part time work at the bank.

We also completely gutted the basement suite in the house; put laminate flooring down in the kitchen and entrance (to match the living room and laundry room); replaced the bedroom carpet; replaced the kitchen stove and bathroom ceiling fan and completely painted the entire downstairs including the laundry room, front entrance and stairwell. Then our new tenant Judy (who I know from work) moved in. She seems very happy with everything and I hope it will be a good home for her.

I finished work last Thursday and have been busy since then getting the garden put to bed for the winter, organizing what we want to pack in the van (still so much my head is spinning-how can I leave some of the things I still want?) and cleaning the house from top to bottom. This will be our last drive to Mexico (that's the plan anyway). We will leave the van there and fly home in April.

Today we went to buy our out of country Medical Insurance and were shocked to find that it has more than doubled because Gail turned 60 in July. So much for senior's discounts!

We have house sitters arriving from Edmonton a couple of days after we leave. They are retired teachers who want to spend the winter in Victoria to be close to their daughter, son-in-law and new and only baby grandchild.

We are looking forward to our annual and very fun Thanksgiving dinner with our McManus buddies on Saturday. Sunday I'll pack the van and take photos! Monday will be last minute housework and early to bed. Tuesday we'll be out of here on the 10:30 Coho sailing to Port Angeles.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

San Sebastian del Oeste

 On Monday, Robin, Serge, Gail and I drove to the little mountain village of San Sebastian del Oeste. It was originally a mining town built by the Spanish to loot the gold and silver from the Mexican people. The town was founded in the 1600's and had a population then of about 4,000 but now there are only about 600 living there.

To get there we had to drive into Puerto Vallarta and take the back road past Ixtapa, just behind Gail's favourite store "Home Depot" :) and up into the mountains. If you continue on this same road you eventually reach Guadalajara. I had heard about this road but that it was not a good route. Even though it was just as twisty and winding as the coast road, highway 200, there was no traffic so no getting stopped behind slow moving transport trucks. Next year we will definitely take this road for our shopping trip!

So, the town was very pretty and quaint. It actually reminds me of a European village as most of the buildings, especially the church, are so old. The streets are all cobblestone. We stopped in a gorgeous little boutique hotel which had been converted from a hacienda. What a spot! It would be absolutely the most perfect place to spend a honeymoon. The rooms are fabulous and the views of the Sierra Madre mountains from them are spectacular.