Monday, March 28, 2011

More Adventures with My Mexican Dentist

The weather is getting noticeably warmer here as spring has arrived and we still have no rain.  Beginning now is, perhaps, the most uncomfortable time of year here, as the afternoon temperatures reach up into the 90’s with an intense sun, but low humidity (about 25%).  Fortunately, the temperatures are comfortably cool in the evenings and in the mornings when I take my walk with Chuy.  We tend to lay low, often inside under ceiling fans or in the shade, during the middle part of the day. 

The snowbirds who have been here since December or January, including many good friends, are starting to return north now, so there will be less congestion and less traffic.  I think the majority of snowbirds tend to be from Canada, as most of them don’t want to be out of Canada for more than 6 months and lose their health care. 

Our move to the new house is still on schedule for Friday, April 1.  We have sorted out about one third of the things we had stored in the casita because we have no room to store much in the new house.  We gave most of it to a friend who arrived here with very little and needs everything.  We have a nice man, Ernesto, and his son, with his pick-up truck to help us make our move on Friday.  Since we have very little furniture to move, it isn’t difficult; it’s mostly household effects, clothes, etc.  I will post more photos after we’re settled in. 

I’ve decided to have my remaining three, long-ago-filled molars crowned this spring.  I use the same wonderful dentist who so expertly saved Pixie’s front tooth in December, Dr. Alberto Garcia.  I am having three crowns done for a cost of $1450 pesos each, or about $125US. 

This is NOT a quick process, however.  Alberto works in a small office in Chapala.  One morning a week he donates his time to helping the people in the poor fishing village, Mezcala, east of Chapala, to get much needed dental care.  He has to haul much of his equipment from his office in Chapala with him.  The first day we were to begin the work on my crowns, he had to send me home; the building had lost water.  The second time, he took a mold but didn’t want to start drilling that day because he wanted to “study my mold and make a plan.”  Today, I went to start the drilling, and his light over the chair stopped working.  Fortunately, there was sufficient ambient light in the room from the window and a good fluorescent light on the ceiling, that he was able to drill and prepare the first two teeth.  He wanted to do a mold today, after preparing the teeth, but my gums were a little swollen from the drilling, so he wants me to come back tomorrow at 6PM to take the mold.  Then, we have to wait for the lab in Guadalajara to make the crown, by sometime next week.  It's always an adventure. 

I already have two crowns by Alberto, and they seem excellent, identical to the ones I had done in the US when I was working and had dental insurance.   But, as with everything in Mexico, we must learn to be patient.  Things get done, but rarely on the schedule I expect. 

We had to say goodbye, this week to Steve and Susan Barr, our first friends we made here, even before we moved here.  They were both instrumental in our decision to be here and helped to start our Unitarian Fellowship.  They have decided to move to La Paz in Baja California del Sur.  Here are photos of Steve and Susan, and our last dinner club photo, with Jeanne and Paul as well.

Here is a photo I caught last week of our gringo celebrity, Pedro Loco, who wanders around town in his signature regalia.  Sadly, he is apparently now suffering from dementia.  I don’t know who he lives with and who takes care of him, but he’s quite a sight!

Last week, Pixie and some of her women friends enjoyed a Spring Equinox celebration in Riberas.  They conducted some appropriate pagan ceremonies and enjoyed spending time with other like-minded sisters.  Here are a couple of photos. 

On a sad note, we will be celebrating the life of our UU Fellowship member, Sally Kugel, who died on March 20.  She was a feisty, fun-loving woman, who lived her life with gusto till the end.  We will miss her.  It is amazing, but our Fellowship celebrated its fifth anniversary this month, and this is the first time we have had to experience the death of one of our regular members.  

Finally, here is a photo of a balloon vendor at the Ajijic Plaza during one of the many Carnival celebrations before the beginning of Lent.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Back to Mexico; Back to Packing

I returned, this week, from a one-week visit with my family in Philadelphia.  My dad is turning 91 this year and has been having some health issues, so it seemed like a good time to spend some time with him.  He has been a great influence on my life, teaching me to think clearly, and demonstrating with his wisdom and kindness, how to live a good life.  We were able to enjoy some good conversations and memories. 

I stayed with him and my step mother, Joy, in their Bryn Mawr home.  I also got to spend some time with my brother, Fred, and his wife Heidi, in Malvern, and attend a service at their West Chester Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.  One evening, I prepared a lasagna dinner (with two batches: vegetarian and meat) and Joy’s daughter, Beth, and her husband, Brian, brought a flat screen large TV to try out to see if my dad might enjoy it more.  He did, and they stayed for dinner, along with their 27 year-old daughter Melissa.  Everyone enjoyed the lasagna.  Thanks to cooperation from Joy, Fred and Heidi, I was able to maintain my vegetarian diet for the entire week.  Here are some photos from the visit.  I only have a few because I left the camera for Pixie to use so I had to borrow Heidi’s cool camera for these.  Here is me with my dad and my brother, Fred. 

Here are Fred and his wife, Heidi:

Here are our niece and nephew, Nora and Alex:

We are moving to our new house in just two weeks.  Pixie went back to visit the house while I was gone and verified that we have everything we need to live there, but very little extra storage space, so, once again, we have to do a major downsizing.  I actually don’t mind it; it’s liberating to live with just the few things we really treasure, but it is a job which we intend to start next week.  Fortunately, we have a friend here, Julie, who arrived with very little, and we can leave some stuff here in our rental now.  But the next couple of weeks will be busy.

Here, at last, are some photos of the new house:    

You can see from the photos that the house is well furnished and that the garden and pool areas are attractive.  This gate, which opens with a garage door opener, allows us to park inside the compound.  So it’s safe and secure.  The neighborhood is called Villa Nova and it has its own water purification system, and it is reasonably quiet.  We are anxious to be there, but we have lots of packing and disposing of extra things before we move.  It will be good to get moved once and for all!  

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Mexican Wedding

Long-time readers of "Maine to Mexico" will remember Dora and Daniel, our first Mexican friends we met as soon as we arrived in Ajijic.  They were the caretakers of the small rental housing community in which we rented, down by the lake, in May 2007.  They live in a small casa on the premesis, along with their children, Elian, Jesus, and Yoselin.  We no longer live in that house, but we have remained friends with their family, including their extended family in Ajijic for the last four years.  

We did not know that Daniel and Dora were not married, or perhaps they were married in a civil ceremony.  Now that Jesus is old enough to take his first communion, it was necessary that they have a church wedding, and yesterday was the day.  We attended the ceremony at the 16th century chapel on the Ajijic Plaza then attended a fiesta afterwards at an event venue in Chapala.  It was a lovely ceremony, attended by many of their family and friends, as well as a good number of Americans and Canadians who have come to know them over the years.  We know many of Dora's family. I had Maricella, her sister, in my English class.   Pablo works in the meat department of the local supermarket.  We've taken Dora, Daniel, Jesus Yoselin and their nephew, Obert, to the Guadalajara Zoo and have shared birthday and Christmas celebrations with them.  

A wedding is a family affair here, with all ages participating.  All the little girls, I lost count, were flower girls, and the boys and girls helped serve the food at the celebration.  Every one ate, drank and danced into the night, but there was no evidence of overdrinking.  Most of us gringos were beat by 10PM and went home to bed.  But I imagine the party carried on long into the night.  Here are some photos which capture the spirit of the day: 

Here I am with Maricella, one of the best English students I've had here.  She not only studied the material herself, but when I was having difficulty explaining a particular concept, Maricella would make and copy handouts which were comprehensible to the Mexican students.   She and her husband, Salvadore, work in a family restaurant, Tio Domingo, on the west side of Ajijiic.

We enjoyed a dinner this week with an old friend, Marni Johnson.  Marni is a member of our writers' group and writes a monthly column on visiting Mayan sites in The Lake Chapala Review.  She has traveled extensively throughout Central America, visiting Mayan ruins and is very knowledgeable about their fascinating culture.  Marni was also in our political discussion group, and she is an long-time progressive thinker.  Her Mayan paintings are beautiful and original.  Here are some photos of our evening, including our friend, Sheldon James, a former saxophonist in many jazz bands.  You can see a couple of her paintings and some of the artifacts she has collected from her worldwide travels.   

Otherwise, we are still living in our village apartment waiting to move into our new place on April 1.  I am making a quick trip to Philadelphia this week to visit my Dad and Joy, my step mom.  It will be good to spend some time with them.  I will likely see my brother Fred, and his family, and perhaps my step sisters, Beth and Joanne, as well, since they live nearby.  I hope to be able to post some photos of our new house when I return next week.  Pixie is scheduled to visit and take some photos. 

Finally, here is a photo of the lovely old mission chapel where the wedding took place yesterday.  It was, I think, Ajijic's original church, built shortly after Ajijic was founded in 1531.