Sunday, 4 December 2011

Dec 04, 2011. Hello from the cold (and wet) north. (posted by Shelley)

Well it has been a while since we posted, first our password got changed and we could not get in and since Trev and I have been away it has been hard to get 1. a computer to sit down at and change it and 2. time.

Right now we are visiting with my brother in Canada so I won't but a big post just a quick update. Once I am back home I will do a full update with pics of our trip to PV and all the details about the trip to Canada.

While it is cold and crappy here it has not been as bad as he thought. It is still mild enough that it is mostly rain all the time with only a bit of snow. I don't know which is worse though......gloomy rain but mild, or sunny snow, but cold?!?!?!? They both suck as far as I am concerned!!!!!

It has been great visiting with family and friends though. We flew into Detriot and stayed with Trev's dad for 2 days then headed to London where we stayed with our friends Dan and Jodi. Yesterday (Sat.) All week we have been doing running around and spending time with friends each day. To cap it off a group of us went out for a great dinner at Moxie's for our freind Tanyas's birthday on Friday . On Saturday morning we headed to Keswick to see my brother David, his wife Terena and their son Jacob. We are here until tomorrow morning, then off for lunch with my Aunt Sonia, on to see Trev's sister Sonia near London and then back to London to visit with more friends that we did not get to spend time with last week. Man we are very popular :) We will spend 1 more night at Dan and Jodi's as Trev as a Dr.s appt on Tuesday morning in London then it is back to Sarnia for the rest of the week. Trevor's brother's (Nick) wedding is on Friday night. So this week he has to do wedding stuff as he is the best man. Then is is back home on Monday Dec. 12th. We will be sad to say good by to our friends and family but glad to say hello to sunshine and naps. lol

While we are here Trev has also sold his car (a 59 Pontaic Laurentian). He is very sad to see it go, as am I. But it has gone to some great people that we know so we are happy that when we come to Canada again we can still see Stella and take a spin. We hope that Del and Rob enjoy the new ride as much as we did. Trev decided the only cure for his sadness was to buy a guitar.......can I really say since he just sold his baby?!?!?.....just another thing to pack.

Well that is all for now, it is getting late and we have an early morning to hit the road.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Nov 16 - All A-Buzzzzzz About Nothing...

(Joan here) It all started with a little wasp and ended up with the fire department - yesterday I was sitting reading out on the pool patio and also watching the progress on the casita. The guys have worked hard and its almost finished and considering they have few electric tools really, but a lot of hand tools. They were chiselling out a chanel above the new french doors to accommodate the Spanish-style tiles, and I guess that noise, along with their radio and singing (yes, they sing constantly) must have annoyed some wasps and there was one or two flying around. You would have thought the wasps were pterodactyls the way the workers were yelling and dancing around like a bunch of girls. Jose (our gardener) and I were laughing at their antics, running around flapping their hands around their heads and then they were all huddled in the corner by the laundry room.

I never thought any more of it and went inside as it was getting too hot (yes, and its almost mid-November folks) and to get another drink. About a half hour later Jose came in to say one of the workers had been stung twice and they weren't working now and that the tree where the wasps have a nest would probably have to be cut down. That would be such a shame - its a beautiful African Tulip Tree - dark glossy leaves very like Sumach but with huge cup-shaped orange flowers, just like ttulip. The tree isn't on our property proper, but on the corner outside on the street. Jose took out his bug killer and sprayed where he thought the nest was, but that didn't satisfy the guys as there were still wasps flying around.

I guess they had called Steve (the contractor who owns the business) and he in turn called me to say that the fire department had been called and would probably be here in about a half hour. Well it was about an hour or more later (it was dark now) when they showed up - the workers had long since left. There were hundreds of dead wasps on the ground at the bottom of the tree, but Trevor said there were hundreds, if not more, still further up in the tree, so I'm guessing more than one nest.

The fire department guys got suited up and took out spray things and sprayed chemicals all over the tree and in a whole bunch of holes in the tree then took paper soaked in the chemical and stuffed it in all the holes. They were here for quite a while. Whatever they did worked as Trevor said he didn't see any live wasps today when he was over there and fortunately, the workers came back and are working (and singing) hard.

All in a day's entertainment here in Mexico - and still loving it.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

November 15th Happy Birthday Trevor.

(posted by Shelley) So it was a pretty busy day. First of all it is Trev's birthday today, so happy birthday to him. After a busy day of running around we went to lunch at Ajijic Steak House. On top of the usual home made salsa and chips that you get everywhere we got garlic mushrooms with toast as an appetizer, then the meal was a baked potato and some amazing steaks. Trev had 3 beers (Sol) and I had a ceasar and a pop and the bill came to under $50...not too shabby.

Today we also got our FM2s so it is official......we are Mexicans now :). Tomorrow we will finally be able to go and book our flight back to Canada for Trev's brother's wedding. Just in time since we are off to PV in 5 days and will head to Canada right afterwards.
After finishing up at immigration we went and test drove a car. Since after 6 years there is a regulation that you have to either get your car out of Mexico if it is not from here or pay $3000 to legalize it, we wil need a new car at some point. Plus whenever Trev and I go out it leaves my parents here without a car and vise versa. So there is a 1973 VW Thing for sale that we have been looking at. As much as I like it for Trev and I, I don't think it is the car for us as a family though. My mom would have a hard time getting in and out of it since she is a shorty, plus it is standard which they do not like. And down the road when we don't have the van anymore it needs to be something that they are comfortable in and driving themselves, and this is not that car.  :( We will keep looking though. There are tons of cars and we are not in any great rush for now.

We have made some great progress in the house painting and it is looking soooooo good. We started in the courtyard/ car park and it looks like a whole new house. I will take some pics and post them once it is done, right now it is a bit messy with a concrete mixer from the contractors and plants and stuff everywhere.

While Trev and I were out today my parents stayed home since it is Tuesday and the maid and gardener are in as well as the contractors. Today the contractors were putting Teka (terra cotta tiles) on the patio roof off the castita and in one of the trees outside the wall where they are working there was a nest inside the tree with hundreds of wasps. One of the guys was stung twice but luckily is not ellergic. But they were unable to work there until the wasps are gone since there are so many. So in comes the fire dept. yup......that is you you call for your wasp issues I guess. From what I understand they have to come in and get rid of them. If the tree needs to come down they have the authorization to cut it down without further permission from the government which is usually needed if you want to take a tree down on or off your property. So the fire dept came around 6:30 and suited up. They sprayed the tree all over and in all the holes and then stuffed the holes with newspaper soaked in the spray stuff and stuffed it in all the openings. Hopefully that does the trick since it would be nice not to lose the tree since. I guess we will have to wait and see.

My dad has been asked to sit in on a committee for the subdivision. I won't pretend to know all that this committee is involved in, but he is helping out with stuff regarding the new water storage systems for Chapala Haciendas 1, 2, and 3. I think it is great for him to be helping out and he loves doing stuff like this so he is chuffed to bits. It also gets him out of the house.....he had a meeting today and then another meeting tomorrow. That also gives my mom some time to herself while we are out and he is at his meetings.

I think that sums all that is new up for now. Tomorrow is market day, booking a flight and more painting I am sure. I am shattered just thinking about it, so off to bed.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Nov 8th. Day of the Dead and the pyramids

(posted by Shelley) So it has been a few days since we last posted and it has been pretty busy here. Lots of building going on and the casita is looking good. Trev and I can't wait to get in there and unpack all of our stuff as right now everything we own is still in boxes in my parents spare bedroom along with our king size bed, a huge armoire, 6 foot tall filing cabinet, an amp and a guitar stand with Trev's guitars.....oh ya..and Flash's dog bed. Needless to say it is pretty packed in there. We don't expect to be fully in before we leave for Puerto Vallarta and Canada but when we get back it should be all good to go.

We have not actually booked our flight back to Canada yet since we are in the middle of getting our immigration papers and you cannot leave the country without special permission during the process. If we do not have our FM2s by the time we get back from PV then we will apply for permission to leave the country.

So what is new......our first Halloween was a pretty uneventful one.We bought 3 bags of candy and had one group of kids come. There were about 6 kids and 4 adults. They didn't actually ring our bell but I heard them standing out in the street just yelling "Trick or Treat" and then waiting to see who might come outside with some sweets. They were very excited to get some suckers and then that was it. We were stuck with all that candy. Luckily we got some chocolate and we had no problem getting rid of that :) but none of us eat suckers of the sponge bob square pants variety, so we gave them all to Maria who has kids.

Then on November 2 Trev and I went into town for The Day of the Dead. There was a whole street in Chapala that was decorated with alters for loved ones....friends and family aswell as beloved singers like Mexico's own Selena and of course Bob Marley. It was amazing to see all the work that goes into these alters. Day of the Dead is actaully 2 days......November 1 is when it is believed the spirits of children come back and November 2 is for everyone else. It is not a sad time - more of a celebration. It is thought that tears will make the path to the other world slippery and the spirits will have a hard time walking on it. Once the spirits get here the alters are decorated with their favourite foods and drink, and many people hand out bread and drinks to people passing by. It was packed and just as were were leaving there was a candle light procession with all the teenagers painted in traditional day of the dead face paint.

Trev celebrating Dia de Muertos

an alter for Bob Marley

some kids painted for the celebration

candle light procession, about 50 or more teenagers

On Friday Trev and I finally got to go to the pyramids. It had been postponed a few times as they need at least 4 people to make the trip and it is right in between seasons for the travel agents but this week they had 8 people including Trev and I. The pyramids are about 1 hour and 40 minutes from Ajijic. On the way there we stopped on the side of the road just outside of Jocotopec for a traditional Mexican breakfast beverage. We pull up to a table on the side of the road that has all the stuff you can add to your drink.....cocoa with sugar, coffee, tequila and a few other things. Once you have put your ingridients in the cup you take it over to a white "tent" that is filled with a few cows and you hand your cup to a guy who then milks the cow right into your cup. Stir and drink. Now this might sound gross but let me tell you, it was awesome. For any of you that come and visit we will definitely take you there for your cup of morning joe.

We got to the pyramids and our guide Rosie was great. It was definitely worth going on the tour rather than going on our own because we would not have gotten any of the history on what we were seeing. These  pyramids are not like the Mayan ones that you are more familiar with. These are round to start with. These ones are also older dating back to 1500 BC. There are 3 large round pyramids. Two have been uncovered but the 3rd and largest is still buried. Before the site was protected some of the stones had been removed to build the roads in the nearby village and water has ruined all that was buried inside. Rosie says that due to the high cost it will not be uncovered, but they are still excavating other areas on site. Each round pyramid is surrounded by raised alters that at one point had a house in each one. Each alter was occupied by a different village and the site is belived to be for ceramonial purposes only. Walking around the large round pyramid you see Tequila Vocano. It was pretty amazing to touch stones and walls that were put there so long ago. Definitely worth the trip.

1 of 3 round pyramids, this is the 2nd largest on site

can't figure out how to turn this around but this was taken standing on the largest temple that is still covered.

from this angle you can see Tequila Vocano right behind the pyramid
 On the way home we stopped for lunch and then stopped off at a small village called Santa Cruz de las Flores to check out the church there. It was finished in 1692, and it is amazing. It is all made of stone and covered in carving from top to bottom.

This same day was also Chapala Haciendas annual street potluck. There was lots of food and beer and live music. It was great and we actually knew quite a few people there which was a nice feeling. It was also a chance to meet some new people also. We all had a great time.

Since then we have started painting in the kitchen and Jose, Trevor and my dad are getting the wall around the property painted very fast. Now we are trying to find the right colour for the house. Things are starting to shape up around here.

Monday, 31 October 2011

October 31 - Construction begins ....

The contractors started on Saturday - marking out for the new patio off the casita and measuring and marking for the removal of the windows and the installation of the new french doors. One of the tangerine trees has to come out and one of the pomegranite trees - but that's ok as we have way too much fruit anyway - even though we give bags of everything to Maria and Jose every time they come, we still can't use it all up, so we won't replace them.

One of the bouganvillas, the biggest unfortunately, also had to come down as there is going to be a new hallway from the casita over to the laundry room which will become the casita's bathroom. The old fountain around there also had to come out but we're going to reassemble that in the front courtyard somewhere.

The current front door on the casita is going to be changed to match the new french doors and there is also a door out into the street which will be blocked up completely. The electrical wiring is currently on the surface of the walls so the walls have to be channeled out to hide the wiring and some outlets added, then the walls painted and the floor tiled and we're ready to go.

We also have to move all the potted plants (very large and  heavy) which are around 2 sides of the pool. The surface there is gravel with a channel underneath to take away any excess water from either rain or the pool overflowing, and all the gravel is coming out and the area is going to be concreted so we have a solid surface on which we can put out lounges - and a few of the pots. Currently when we sit out in the sun we sit on the large pool patio which is at the bottom end of the pool, but we are going to put a cover over that and turn it into a bar area so we had to find somewhere else to lay in the sun. For some reason we don't use the lawn area on the far side of the pool????

The work is expected to take about three weeks altogether then Shelley and Trevor can finally move into the casita and we can get Colin's desk into his office - where they currently sleep.

So other than preparing these areas for the builders we have been  busy shopping mainly - we found a fabulous yard sale in Ajijic yesterday and we hit paydirt. The people were unfortunately moving back to Ontario (her husband is very ill) and they were selling EVERYTHING. Unfortunately we were too late for the larger pieces, couches, armoires, etc., but we bought Colin a new golf bag and we got an absolutely enormous pot - almost 5 feet high which is now standing in our courtyard. We also got a large assortment of serving dishes which are beautiful an ice cream maker and a crockpot (halleluya) - can't buy one of those here for love nor money. They obviously brought it from up north. Trevor also bought a bunch of guy-stuff - a box with compartments full of screws and such and a bucket full of other interesting looking stuff. Certainly well worth the stop. We had hoped to pick up a bunch of other things on our list while running around but all the stores we wanted were closed (it was Sunday after all) even the place where we wanted to have lunch so we ate at Mom's instead - nothing special so won't be going back I think.

We had picked up another blue flowering vine from the garden centre to add out front so will have to get that planted today before it wilts in the heat - we waited a bit too long to plant the first two and one of them is struggling now.

When Colin cut down the very large bougainville from near the casita, he cut it into 3-4 ft. lengths and we are going to try and re-root them. Apparently all you have to do is cut a little wound in the bottom and then stick them in the dirt and in 4-6 weeks you have new bougainvilla plants. This will save us a ton as we need to spread them all around the walls both inside and outside down the side street where our walls are quite bare.

So all in all, a very productive time. Will keep everyone posted on the success and wish you all a Happy Halloween.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

October 23 - Sunday - a day of rest

We all had a bit of a lie in today and after breakfast Shelley suggested we go to the malecon (boardwalk) in Chapala for the afternoon, so we headed out around 1:30pm - it's only a five minute drive and it took a while to find a parking spot as everyone and their brother was down there - Sunday is family day in Mexico, but we found a spot up by the Notario's office which is just across the street.

We headed straight for a restaurant which was down by the water and had an amazing lunch - Shelley had cheese stuffed shrimp wrapped in bacon, Trevor had beef brochettes, Colin had a seafood mix and I had scallops. The margueritas were free! After lunch and a number of refreshing beverages the kids set out to walk the malecon, Colin headed for the market (which runs parallel to the malecon) and I headed to a bench to people-watch and take photos.

The sun was hot and sparkling on the water and there were tons of boats out giving people rides back and forth along the lake. There were a lot of people in the water swimming and playing, and on the beach and tons of families just wandering around or sitting like me, people-watching - there were people selling balloons and kids toys, ice cream sellers, musicians everywhere, mariachi and dancers. It was awesome. I took a ton of photos and then bought an ice cream from one of the vendors. It comes in metal cylinders stored in a tub of ice and when you buy one, he takes it out of the container and wraps a piece of firm paper around the base to hold it by - the ice cream is very firm and gorgeous. I got vanilla but it had a huge chunk of raspberry right down one side. I sat in the hot sun and ate my ice cream and then a bunch of people showed up with costumes and music equipment and set up right by the fountain in front of me. They got changed and were just getting ready to start dancing when Shelley, Trevor and Colin showed up so we sat and watched. It was a lot of fun and they did a number of different dances and their costumes were very traditional, huge full skirts edged with colourful edging which they swirled round and round.

We got home around 6pm very tired considering we hadn't done anything but eat and drink - I guess the sun wears you out. But what a great way to spend the day!

Saturday, 22 October 2011

October 22 - The things you find in your swimming pool...

Joan here - Well, we get all kinds of stuff in the pool: scorpions, spiders, bugs of every kind, but today, we had a basset hound! Yes, Flash fell in the pool somehow. We (Trev, Colin and I were in the tv room, Shelley was in the shower and I heard a funny sound that sounded like Flash sloshing in his water bowl, but seeing as that's in the kitchen at the other end of the house, it couldn't be him, so I went out into the hallway and looked out to the pool, and there he was, doing a frantic doggie paddle in the pool and trying unsuccessfully to get out of the water. I yelled for Trev who came running and dove straight in and rescued a very soggy and sad looking Flash. He must have swallowed some water too as he started throwing up a bit. He looks very sad and sorry for himself  but at least he's drying out now. Heaven knows how he ended up there. He does use the pool as his personal drinking bowl so maybe he toppled over while drinking. Anyway, he's safe for now til the next episode. At least for now he seems to be avoiding the pool and is taking his drinking water from the koi pond instead. Don't know why we bother with a water bowl in the kitchen. At least if he falls in the koi pond it's shallow enough he can get out by himself. Dumb dog!

Today is Saturday and Trev is going into the village to the North Shore Autolovers Club or something (some club or others for car enthusiasts). They meet the once a month at one of the bars in town. Guess he's missing his car and like-minded buddies. Don't know if we are going to stay home or go into town with him and then do some shopping, plant hunting or something til he's done. Decisions, decisions, decisions. As long as they don't involve WORK I can hack it.

We (as in Trev and Shelley - I supervised) planted some blue flowering vines this morning out by the front gates so they will climb and cover the walls and ironwork out front. They look lovely and will grow fast now they're in the ground. No painting today though - may be tomorrow.

We had the contractor in a couple of days ago and will be starting on the cassita in the next week or so - there's a fair amount to do - replace the windows with french doors, block off the door to the street, new door to the patio and install patio with roof, install new door to laundry room, along with walls and roof (the laundry room will become the kids private bathroom) There's already a shower, toilet and sink in there and we just have to remove the excess cabinetry. We are also going to have the gravel which is on 2 sides of the pool removed and have the area concreted instead so we can sunbathe there. Right now it's not really usable as it's uncomfortable under foot. Should look good once it's done - the job should take around 3 weeks once it starts.  We also want to put a palapas roof (palm leaves) on the structure out on the patio  by the pool, but it's not the season yet. But Shelley found a company in Florida that makes artificial palapas which doesn't attract scorpions and doesn't have to be replaced every few years so she is investigating If we can get that, we will get the look we want but without the maintenance (or scorpions). The thought of them dropping in my margarita doesn't sound appealing. It may be more expensive initially, but cheaper in the long run.

We decided to stay home after all and have been sunning out by the pool. It got way too hot so we came in to the covered patio to have lunch then I wandered round taking photos. Ah, life is good.