Adios por Ahora Mexico!

Goodbye for now Mexico!  It is bittersweet for us to be leaving Mexico as we so enjoyed our time here and made some wonderful friends in the past year.

This is a country that we will visit again as we feel that we just scratched the surface of fascinating places to visit.  I know I have already voiced this but it is worth repeating – everyone, if given the opportunity, should take the time to experience a developing country and immerse yourself in another culture.  If you embrace the ways of another country, you may find that you will be richly rewarded and have a greater appreciation for the wealth we all enjoy in the US, even with what is now happening in the political arena and our economy (and I refuse to expound on that).

Here are just a few things that we will miss:

  • balmy, sunny weather
  • fabulous food and amazing aromas
  • lush vegetation
  • colonial cities rich in culture and history
  • striking churches and historic buildings
  • vividly colored buildings and homes
  • stunning murals painted by local artists on the sides of buildings
  • smiling, friendly locals
  • beautiful children playing outside with basic toys (balls, bicycles, sticks)
  • multi-generations walking together hand-in-hand

I would be remiss in typing this final tribute to Mexico if I failed to mention a few people we met in Lakeside who touched us deeply:  

Our yoga instructor, Ana, was a delightful, inspiring young woman who grew up in the Lakeside area, moved to Canada where she earned her law degree, and walked away from that profession, as her heart and soul drew her to sharing her love of yoga and meditation.  She moved with her husband and baby son back to Lakeside, where she hopes to share the local culture with her child.  Her spirituality and love of imparting what she has learned certainly fed us during our time in San Antonio Tlayacapan.

Me & The Lovely Ana

Tennis seems to be a sport that is embraced in Lakeside, enjoyed by young and old.  Our instructor, Tony, who grew up in Guadalajara, is fun-loving and patient.  He encouraged us and pushed us each and every lesson.  We were thankful to spend time with him over the past several months.

Tony Probably Giving Me a Pointer about My Backhand

Lois Cugini, whose picture I unfortunately do not have, is a pint-size little bundle of energy who moved to the Lakeside area 30+ years ago from Boston, MA and who still has the accent.  She owns a funky little women’s boutique and wine bar in Ajijic, very well respected by locals and tourists alike.

Opus Boutique

Lee and Lloyd are a couple from the Houston area who retired to Lakeside several years ago and are still hard at work as realtors and property managers.  They were our landlords and are a delightful couple.

Me, Lee & Lloyd

Terry happened upon a familiar looking face when he was walking the bicycle path in Lakeside, shortly after our arrival to Mexico.  He turned out to be a man who we became friends with back in Michigan 10+ years ago.  We both took an exercise class he was teaching and it was great fun rekindling our friendship and getting to know his wife Geri.  They have lived in Ajijic for the past 4 years.

We recently house sat/dog sat for them when they returned to the states for a visit.  We must admit that we fell in love with their dog Kai and had some withdrawal pains when our house sitting job ended.  The house they rent is fabulous so I thought I would share the view from their veranda.

And here is the couple lucky enough to enjoy this view every day!

Brad & Geri

And last, but not least from this trio, is our buddy Kai.  It was love at first sight for me when I met him!


Geri and Dave came into our lives a few short months ago but we felt an immediate connection with them.  They come from the state of Washington and were our next-door neighbors for a few months before we left.  They are a dear couple and we will miss them greatly.

Geri, Dave & Me (Me Sans Makeup & Fixing Hair - Yikes!)

The next picture I had to include, as it will forever remind me of Dave.  His favorite expression is “it just doesn’t matter!”, meaning don’t sweat the small stuff.  He has the most positive attitude and we loved spending time with them.

"It Just Doesn't Matter!"

Last, but certainly not least, in our small grouping of friends, is Les and David.

Terry met David when he went to Lakeside on a fact-finding mission the year before we moved to Mexico.  He had been following Les’s blog, which I encourage everyone to read  David is an accomplished photographer and Terry saw him at a local parade and introduced himself.  He said that Terry was the nicest stalker he had ever met!

Les has a quirky, unique sense of humor and a beautiful spirit, and is a fabulous writer. Terry and I are both reminded of Erma Bombeck when we read her blog and she has been told by many that she should write a book.  We think this is a must!

When we told them we were moving back to the states for a time, she wrote us the loviest email as she has such an amazing way with words.  I will quote a piece of it and mirror back to them the same message, as it applies equally to them:

“We became the recipients of an oh-so-comfortable friendship.  The type of friendship that did not need constant attending or constant togetherness.  The kind of friendship that made each encounter, chance or otherwise, like the smile a rainbow brings after a gentle rain.”

Les & David

A few more lines I will take from Les’s email, as I believe it applies to Mexico in general for us:  “Goodbyes are not forever.  Goodbyes are not the end.  They simply mean we’ll miss you until we meet again.”

Adios Mexico!

A Trip to the Dentist

After twelve years of therapy my psychiatrist said something that brought tears to my eyes. He said, “No hablo ingles.” ~ Anonymous

Hola Everyone!  It has been awhile since I have blogged, as it seems that I have become one of those retirees (still don’t like that word!) who has begun to wonder how she had time to work, with all the activities in which we are involved.

Today was the day to experience the world of Mexican dentistry, which has been highly touted as professional and inexpensive.  The particular dentist’s office that we visited was across town, and we would typically walk, as we do so most everywhere, but given other appointments earlier today (yoga and the Wednesday organic market), we thought it best to hop onto a city bus.

City buses lack some of the creature comforts of those taken for longer distances (like the ETN bus we took to San Miguel and Guanajuato), but are serviceable and cost 6-8 pesos (less than $1).  Sitting by the window, on more than one occasion, I held my breath as the driver squeezed by other vehicles, missing side view mirrors by inches!

In the states, we are accustomed to being considerate of those around us and wear ear buds when listening to iPods or radios (except for some who use cell phones and wish everyone to hear their conversation) but in Mexico, anything goes.  An older local gentleman stepped on the bus and proceeded to crank up his portable radio so we all could enjoy the Latin music.  It phased no one around him and I realized that I am becoming accustomed to this type of behavior as well, because in the whole scheme of things, it is no big deal, right?!

We hopped off the bus at our stop and entered the dentist’s office, where we were told by an office staffer that Terry would be passed off to a nice-looking woman dentist and I would have a nice-looking male dentist to take care of my exam and cleaning.  I must admit that this was not the type of comment I had ever heard before when entering a doctor’s office, but was all said in jest.

Both our dentists were professional and efficient and the equipment used was very modern (ultrasonic cleaning method).  My exam seemed very thorough and, at one point, my dentist very kindly asked me if I was stressed, as he could see that I had a tendency to clench my teeth.  Explaining to him that I was recently retired and enjoying the good life; yoga, meditation, beautiful weather, and long lunches with friends, I did not feel the least bit stressed.  I bemused that perhaps watching the meanderings of the bus drivers down narrow streets could be a bit stressful but knew that my teeth clenching originated long before my departure from corporate life.

While still in the chair, I was fitted for a mouth guard, while Terry had a filling replaced after his cleaning, all done with much care.  Surprisingly, this did not take several visits, and had I been willing to wait for one hour, I could have walked out of the office with my mouth guard, but opted to return the next day instead.

Now for the really exciting news, the costs for the services rendered:

Cleaning and exam:          $12.00

Filling restoration:           $28.00

Mouth guard:                    $50.00

Another side benefit was no insurance papers to file.  Needless to say, we were impressed.

We decided to take the bus back as well and hopped on at the nearest bus stop.  Local buses are commonly referred to as “chicken buses” because ostensibly, one could bring their live chicken on board if they were so inclined.  Surprise, surprise, we had entertainment for the ride back in the form of two Mexican balladeers, who apparently used this venue as their side jobs.  The younger of the two stood in the aisle with his back to me, strumming his guitar as he began to serenade the crowd.  Given the swaying of the bus, I was braced to have him sitting in my lap before we arrived at our stop, but much to my relief, he had great balance and his singing was not half bad!

One never knows what they might encounter on a bus trip across the village.  I am secretly hoping for the singing chicken act on our next bus adventure!

Hasta luego!

Sunday Stroll Through Ajijic

People often say that ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’, and I say that the most liberating thing about beauty is realizing that you are the beholder.  This empowers us to find beauty in places where others have not dared to look, including inside ourselves.        ~ Salma Hayek ~

Yesterday we ventured out to get some exercise and experience another part of Ajijic that was beckoning to us.  This village is a feast for the eyes, no matter where one turns.  Given that the rainy season seems to be ending, I wanted Terry to take some photos of the brilliantly colored flowers before they disappeared for the season.  What began as an adventure to do just that became so much more, as can always be the case if we just open ourselves to the beauty around us.

Flowers grow in such abundance here and many times several varieties become entwined, as if they have realized that they need each other’s company to thrive.

As we winded our way up and down streets in search of unusual plants and interesting doorways, of which there is a plethora, we came upon a couple of local girls, one carrying a small bouquet of flowers.  They looked like little cherubs, with their round smiling faces, and Terry tried to communicate with them that he would like to take their picture.  They happily agreed and struck a pose.

Primera Amigas

Faces beamed when they saw their photo and I gave them each a few pesos for allowing us the opportunity. As they turned to leave, I was presented with their floral bouquet, which consisted of a few flowers, leaves, and a white feather.

With pesos in hand, they immediately headed to the corner tienda for snacks.  I continued to carry the flowers with me until they began to fall apart, at which time I set them aside.  No sooner had I done this than we encountered the two amigas again, with their younger sisters in tow.  I felt bad that I no longer had the flowers with me and they immediately saw that this was the case so I was presented with a flor blanca (white geranium), which they asked Terry to pick for them, and a marble.  We all said adios and parted ways.  I secretly wondered if their generosity was due to the pesos presented earlier on, with the hope for more to come.  Nonetheless, it was a beautiful gesture on their part and kept me smiling for quite some time.

As we continued, we discovered some beautiful doorways, of which an entire book could and probably has been dedicated.  Here is just a taste of what one can see around every corner in this village.

Carpe Diem
Galeria Floreria

Interesting Petroglyphs
Flower Capped Doorway

All walls in Ajijic seem to be available as canvases for budding artists and pop up as frequently as many of the lovely flores do with the mixture of sunshine and tropical temperatures.  They are varied and all tell a story, I am sure, although some not as obvious to newcomers such as us.  We discovered many of these murals coming to life with the approach of Mexico’s Independence Day and continue to see them as we explore neighborhoods throughout the village.

Central Figures in Mexico's Independencia from Spain
Upper Ajijic Mural
Mural by Efren Gonzalez ~ Local Artist and Gallery Owner

Who knows what awaits our next foray?  Until then, adios!

Mexican Independence Day

I cry for liberty, I cry for the end of slavery, I cry for independence, I cry for Mexico!  Viva Mexico, Viva!  ~ El Grito attributed to Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla

Today Mexicans around the country are celebrating their bicentennial, 200 years since the beginning of the revolution that resulted in their freedom from Spanish oppression.  A priest by the name of Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, in the pre-dawn hours of September 16, 1810, led the uprising that began the 11 year struggle for independence.  Although he did not live to see the freedom that he fought so hard for, as he was executed in June 1811, he is still known as The Father of Mexico.

Last evening, plazas throughout Mexico came alive with celebrations, reenactments of the struggles their ancestors experienced 200 years ago, along with gastronomic delights, music and dancing. We are told that these festivities should continue throughout the weekend.  We spent a little time in the Ajijic plaza and could sense the pride and excitement of the locals in the air.  At 11pm the church bells began to peal and the cohetes (fireworks) appeared, some beautiful and some just loud, although not as loud as we were warned that they can be during these festivals.  These lasted about 20 minutes, which allowed us to get a good night’s rest (something we were not expecting).

Mexican Flags Flying over the Plaza
Amazing Mariachi Group

This morning, while greeting the day with a wonderful cup of Mexican coffee, we heard drums, as from a marching band.  Terry jumped up with his camera and out the door he went.  An unexpected parade materialized, full of schoolchildren in uniform, marching bands, floats and strutting horses, with their caballeros donning traditional dress.  It seemed that everyone who lived in this lovely village was on the sidewalk, smiling as these angelic children marched by.  Terry seemed to capture the essence of this morning in the faces of the children.

Who knows what this evening’s festivities may bring – more cohetes?  Thank goodness for a white noise machine!

Viva Mexico, Viva!

Mexico Here We Come!

We are all inventors, each sailing out on a voyage of discovery, guided each by a private chart, of which there is no duplicate.  The world is all gates, all opportunities.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson~

We are clearly on our way to our next adventure, no turning back (well not at least until the plane lands in Guadalajara!).  This still seems so surreal to me and I wonder if it does to Terry as well.  Outwardly he seems very calm to me and I probably to him, although if he was sitting closer and the noise of the jet engines were not an issue, he might hear something different.  I feel that I have one foot still firmly placed in US soil and another toe tentatively touching soil south of the border.  I am thinking that it is one thing to be venturing into retirement and another to be doing this by heading out of your native land for a time.  A verse from an Eagles’ song pops into my head “A little voice in my head said don’t look back.  You can never look back.”  So, here we go, as our wheels touch down in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Our flight is 30 minutes late, due to a change in equipment in Phoenix, but still our taxi service, guided by Joseph, is patiently waiting for us as we emerge from customs.  We soon learn that he is the owner of the B&B where we will be staying for the next week, a man who has been in Ajijic 7 years, emigrating from Syria, by way of California.  He is a gentle soul who firmly believes that you should not sweat the small stuff (which most everything is) and that we should keep in mind that we are visitors in this beautiful country and not try to change what is.  We instantly know that we are going to like him.

On our first night we had a lovely dinner at a restaurant named Ninette’s just down the street from our B&B.  Many restaurants in this area have garden settings, as does this one, so the views are beautiful; the staff is amazingly friendly; and the food was “muy delicioso”,  which was an expression I used on the owner with my meager Spanish.  He promptly responded, “So, you enjoyed it, did you?” and seemed to take much joy in tricking me.  We met the wait staff, the owner and the chef and felt like we were one of the family before we left.  We had dined here earlier this year and the experience was as great this time.

We reconnected with a couple (Erin and Kevin) who were most gracious the last time we visited Ajijic and have been more so this time.  They have been instrumental in giving us sage advice in the areas of house hunting, getting a cell phone set up (which has been a test in patience and I believe we have passed), restaurants to frequent, the best shopping areas, yoga teachers, etc, etc.  We already consider them friends and do not know how we will ever be able to repay them for their kindness.  Fortunately, they subscribe to the same theory as we do, to pay it forward.

Kevin has a blog that we have followed for some time, one of many since we entertained the idea of spending some time in this colorful country.  Kevin is very articulate and weighs in on many topics, so I have attached his blog spot for your viewing pleasure:

Erin has a spiritual side that appeals to be immensely so I am looking forward to growing through spending time with her.  She has already given me advice on the best yoga instructors in the area and is practiced in the field of massage.  I feel that we are blessed to have been introduced to this lovely couple.  As of this writing, thanks to the two of them, we have rented a lovely home that we will be moving into this weekend.  As soon as we are settled, pictures will follow!

For those of you who may be concerned about our safety or wondering about how we are adapting to the change in culture, we are doing well.  We have walked the streets of this quaint village after dark and the locals and those who are part-time and permanent transplants could not be friendlier.  It has only been a few days, but so far, so good.

I am attaching a few pictures of Ajijic so you can enjoy the flavor of this area.  Enjoy!

Ajijic Plaza
Colon Street - Quaint and Cobblestoned