Sunday, August 29, 2010

Not Much New... Well, Chuy Got a Haircut!

Look at this guy...he's getting gray already, but he's only 9 months old! He's a good dog, and he's becoming more affectionate, not so restless. He sleeps in our bed now and can jump up on the sofa and loveseat to cuddle while we watch TV. But why is he getting so gray????

One problem with writing a blog about your life is that sometimes there really is nothing of great significance which happens in your life. That is where I am today. We have settled back in to our Mexican life with nothing earth-shattering to write about. Pixie and have joined Facebook...with some reluctance, but it's interesting to see what all your "friends" are up to... And, there is one other significant thing...we tried ostrich burgers the other night. They were Mexican-prepared and very lean. I was impressed as I was cooking them on the BBQ. Cheap and very lean...very good. Pixie took one bite and said, "Not for me." I cooked her a turkey burger as a replacement. I...being adventurous, ate two ostrich burgers. But...I have to say, they were salty and didn't set that well. Oh well, it was worth a shot. So what else have we been eating? Mangoes...lots of mangoes. They're in season for just a bit longer. I usually get up and cut up a mango and papaya, pour yogurt over the fruit, then sprinkle granola over the yogurt, add a few raisins and walnuts, and that's my high calorie breakfast. No photo of that.

We do have photos of our dinner at George and Kenya's house. These guys have been living here for close to 20 years. They got here when property was very cheap and, intelligently, bought a lot way up on the mountainside, and built a beautiful house with a big terrace overlooking the entire lake. We are friends with them from our Great Books discussion group and have grown closer to them over the past three years. They just got back from the Czech Republic, where Kenya's son lives with his family. George worked in Latin America for much of his workig life, and he speaks fluent Spanish. They have many Mexican friends, one of whom is an exellent sculptor who recently made a bust of George. Here are some photos which capture their wonderful home:

Here's an update on what I've been reporting in the last two posts about the American and Canadian homeowners who bought property in the coastal town of Tenecatita and had their property seized a couple of weeks ago. Well, it turns out that although the land was originally ejito land, a Guadalajara property developer has apparently owned the entire tract of land, legally for about 38 years, way before these people thought they bought the property. Apparently, even though they have legal-looking titles, and they were signed and approved by lawyers, the land was illegally sold. of looks like these people are going to lose their land. Stay tuned...I'll update any new developments.

Two other news developments. You may have heard the BIG news that Miss Mexico, from Guadalajara, won the Miss Universe contest last week. Good boost for Mexico, two weeks before Mexico celebrates its bicentennial on September 16. You may remember that I mentioned before that one does not need a prescription to buy medications at local farmacias. They do have prescription requirements for barbiturates, pain medications and sleeping pills. Now, they wisely have added antibiotics to the list of meds requiring a physician's order. Good news for the people who try to self-medicate.

We have decided to put our house on the market and rent instead of own. Although we love our house, we really don't enjoy the unanticipated expenses that inevitably come with home ownership. In this market, it will likely take some time to sell, and we are happy here in the meantime. Here are some garden photos:

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Rainy Days of August

Those of you who have been following Maine to Mexico since the beginning may remember Danie, Dora and their children. When we rented a house on the west end of Ajijic, from May of 2007 through March of 2008, Daniel and Dora were the live-in couple who managed the property. There are six casas in the compound and a swimming pool. Most of the casas are owned by Mexican families from Guadalajara who used their casas on weekends. We, of course lived in one full time, and Kathy Kinney, an artist form Indiana, also lived in one. We became friends with Daniel and Dora and their family, and we still get together occasionally to celebrate birthdays, etc. Here is a recent photo of their family on the occasion of Jesus' eleventh birthday. From left are Dora, Jesus, Daniel with Yoselin, and Dora's older son Elias. Tonight we are going over to their house (they still live in the same place) for a dinner of tamales and atole (a sweet corn-based drink which is a speciality of Michoacan, Doras' home state). Yoselin and Jesus are growing up!

Before we head over to Daniel and Dora's, we will be attending a memorial service to be held on the patio of the Lake Chapala Society for Rick Sargent. Rick was a friend of ours, married to Mary Alice Sargent, who has been responsible for the Lake Chapala Society's sponsorship of the Wilkes Education Center where I taught English for the first two years I was here. Rick and Mary Alice are from New Hampshire, and we usually see them at our monthly New Hampshire-Maine group where we met for drinks then had dinner together. They have been active in the community sponsoring several Mexican children by paying their educational expenses. Rick died unexpectedly a couple of weeks ago while undergoing surgery to repair an aortic aneurism.

We've had typical rainy season weather since we've been home. It rains most nights, sometimes very hard, then clears by morning, and we enjoy sunny but refreshingly cool weather during the days. We had a pot-luck lunch at our house for about fifty people following our UU Fellowship service last Sunday. We had a visiting minister, Rev. Howard Hunter, visit our Fellowship and speak. Dr. Hunter is a part-time speaker at the UU church in Harvard Square and lives in Rockport, Massachusetts. He has travelled and studied world religions in many countries and is a fascinating speaker. You can see from the photos that we had to figure out a way to accommodate everyone under cover. This was because rain was threatening Sunday, even during the daylight hours. Below is Reverend Hunter with his young friend, Amir, a Lebanese-Mexican professor at a university in Mexico City.

Another event Pixie hosted last week was a surprise birthday party for our good friend Jeanne Haley. She put together an old-fashioned girls birthday party for Jeanne, including games like pin-the-tail-on -the- donkey, musical chairs, Mother may I?, and dropping clothespins in a bottle. They additionally had cake, gifts, and a pinata. You can tell they had fun!

There was an interesting article in the
Guadalajara Reporter this week. It was about roughly 40 homeowners, many Americans and Canadians, in the coastal town of Tenacatita who had their property seized by the Mexican government, even though they thought they had legal titles for their properties. After the 1910 revolution, the government set aside vast tracts of land for the indigenous population called ejito land. No one was allowed to develop this land. Over the years, some ejito land has been allowed to be sold to developers following a complex legal process. In fact, until several years ago, foreigners were prohibited from owning coastal property at all. Apparently, the properties in Tenacatita were built on ejito land, at least that's the assertion. The case will be appealed in Mexican courts, but meantime, their property has been seized. Such seizures have occasionally occurred here at Lakeside. As a result, anyone buying property in Mexico must be very careful to be sure there is no question about the land once being classified as ejito land.

I will close this entry with a few photos we took on a recent walk along the malecon in Chapala. It's always a pleasure to enjoy the lake, the sun, and the many Mexican families who use this lakeside area for relaxation.

Well, I have to include a couple more photos. A couple of days ago, we were dog-sitting for Layla, Chuy's best friend, a golden retriever owned by our next-door neighbors, Ron and Pat. You can see, Chuy enjoyed having a friend to hang with.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Massachusetts to Mexico

Here I sit in Goucester, Massachusetts, with by brothers (from left) Fred and Brackley. We spent our ast two days in the US visiting them and their families in Gloucester. Brackley's wife, Happy, is from the area, and she and Brackley own a home there. Fred and his family were renting a cottage there for a week, so it was a perfect opportunity to get us all together, as we did last year too.

Here, on the left, is Fred and Heidi's daughter, Nora. Brackley and my cousin, Sally, ham it up with copies of my poetry book. Below are Ariana (Brackley's daughter) with Fred, Heidi, and their son Alex. Pixie makes a toast with Happy, and, below, a view of Rockport Harbor.

We drove to Boston's Logan airport last Saturday morning. Everyone who gave us directions claimed it was so easy that I couldn't possibly get lost...but, I managed. Fortunately, our GPS lady helped us find our way, and we dropped off the car without incident, and arrived home about 11PM.

Our house, and Chuy, had been well taken-care-of by our experienced house sitters from Boulder, CO, Mike and Christi.

They were able to stay for the day on Sunday, so we had a great chance to get to know them a little better. They retired early, live a simple, thrifty life, and travel all over the world house sitting for accommodations. They are actually thinking, at some point, of escaping Colorado winters by moving to Mexico, but they are undecided as to exactly where. This trip let them familiarize themselves with the Lake Chapala area, and they seemed to have had a good time.

Of course, when we returned, we had a large stack of mail and newspapers. I thought I'd highlight a few of the headlines in the Guadalajara Reporter to let you see what's been going on since we were gone.


It appears as thought the PRI party (who was the single party ruling Mexico from 1929 to 2000) is regaining ground from President Calderon's PAN party. They won 9 of 12 state governorships up for election. Yet, the three governorships they lost, in Sinaloa, Oaxaca, and Puebla, were as a result of an unlikely political coalition between the right wing PAN party and the ultra left PRD parts. Everyone here is waiting to see who will win the 2012 presidential election. There is speculation that whoever wins will establish a new approach to the drug cartels which have caused so much violence since 2006, when Calderon was elected. Presidents in Mexico are limited to one six-year term.


This is an interesting new policy designed to make it more difficult for the drug cartels to launder money. By placing a maximum of $4000 USD on money changing into pesos each month, authorities hope to reduce the ability of the drug cartels to bring large amounts of US cash into Mexico. Last year, according to the article, 29 billion dollars were "laundered" in Mexico.


The US consulate in Guadalajara issued a warning to US citizens living in the four-state area of Jalisco, Colima, Nayarit, and Aguascalientes, that drug-related violence has been on the rise near Guadalajara and in Tepic, Nayarit. The advisory recommends being aware of one's surroundings and moving away from any perceived disturbances, should one happen to witness something going on. The article goes on to include comments of longtime residents who believe that the advisory was an over reaction and that they feel more safe walking around the streets in Mexico than in many US cities.


The prolific rains during July have spiked the number of reported cases of Dengue Fever from 253, last year at this time, to 640 so far this season. Although the vast majority of these cases appear on the coast of Jalisco, there have been cases near here. The health officer in Jalisco suggests that the warnings issued for each rainy season, already in place, are sufficient this year as well. Preventive measures, such as spraying for mosquitis and warning residents to use mosquito repellent, are the best ways to fight the disease. Dengue Fever is usually a flu-like disease, but far fewer cases are the more dangerous hemorrhagic type.

One thing we are hearing from friends who have traveled to the border recently, is that police officers are stopping and harassing more Americans near the border areas as a direct retaliation for the anger generated by the Arizona immigration law. Feelings are very strong here that the law is unfair and racist. We can expect there to be some repercussions.

So, as you can see, there are always concerns and challenges living in a foreign country, especially when that country is facing a weak economy, mass deportations from the US, and a government trying very hard to wipe out drug violence. Luckily, things are calm and normal here at lakeside. and we are happy to be home.

One last photo: We bought Chuy a stuffed lobster as a gift. He is enjoying his new toy!