Monthly Archives: September 2017

Tepic, Nayarit

Tepic, Nayarit

Once again, I am grateful to have a driver. We went from Culiacan, Sinaloa to Tepic, Nayarit. Not as long of a drive as the past two days and most of the roads were pretty good; not as much construction.

The jungly vegetation started somewhere north of Mazatlan and was welcome. Very green and pretty. We drove past what looked to be a like a large estuary where people were shrimp-farming. Lots of folks selling dried shrimp and shrimp tamales on the side of the road. It’s definitely a rainier place, here. We were watching the clouds as we approached Tepic, hoping to beat the rain. Alas, a thunderstorm dumped on us before and during our arrival at Hotel Fray Junipero Serra. So far, this seems like a very first-class place. We have a view of the plaza, a nice room, and there is a restaurant/bar in the hotel. On the colonade of the building are about 20 shoe-shine stations. Am guessing there must be a lot of offices around here with staff with shiny shoes.

We walked around Tepic, looking at shops, wandering. Tim got his hair cut. Tomorrow, on to Jalisco and our new home.


Restaurant dead zones?

Restaurant dead zones?

We spent a night at a hotel in Guaymas. After a long day of driving, I looked on Trip Advisor for a restaurant near our hotel and didn’t see much. One looked good but closed at 6 p.m.. We asked the nice young woman at the desk. She asked what kind of restaurant, and I answered “Mariscos” (seafood). She told me the seafood places were all closed already (this was around 7) and directed us by car to where we could find hamburgers or pizza. We drove and couldn’t find much open (except McDonalds and Dominos). Finally, we spotted a place attached to a motel that looked open but vacant. As we slowed to look, a lady getting into a car nodded and motioned toward the place.

We were two of four customers and were extremely grateful for a friendly waiter, some cold beer and shrimp dinners. Two more people came in before the staff started putting the chairs up on the tables at 8. Guaymas is a town of over 100,000. It seemed odd and sad that we found only one place. I’m sure there must have been others, perhaps in another zone, but wow, it was surprisingly difficult.

I thought our night in Culiacan would be better, given it’s a city of over 600,000. Trip Advisor indicated that there were two decent prospects .5 and .6 mile from the hotel so we set out, across a giant street where a police officer was manually controlling the traffic with a wire attached to the traffic light box. The first place we were headed to was closed. The second, we couldn’t find (gone). We saw one open-air place that advertised shrimp and had some people in it, but the waiter told us they were closing. Nothing else, on a street with lots of stores, traffic, people walking, etc.

Nothing, that is, except Applebee’s. Defeated by our search, we dragged in there and ate dinner. There were about seven employees that we could see and we were two of four dinner customers. The attached bowling alley had two customers as well — a man and his son, having fun.

So this is the year I ate my birthday dinner at Applebee’s, in Culiacan, Sinaloa. A highlight was our waiter telling me that my Spanish was very good. Not true, I think, but I’ll take it.

S.O.B., road signs, etc.

Si toma no maneje

Verdad. One of the road signs here SOB (South of Border, not referring to the US President’s comments about NFL players): If you drink, don’t drive.

Last night was our final one in the US for a year. Wow and yay.

Thoughts from today:

– It seems possible to drive into Mexico without having to actually stop for immigration. Of course, since we needed the stamp on our Residente Temporal visas, we did stop. And finding the place to stop was a tiny challenge.

– There are ugly Americans and we hope not to be them. We stopped at the place where you have to register your car, get a permit sticker and pay a deposit. In line ahead of us were a bunch of people on a bus tour that was taking them to a train ride in Copper Canyon. Why they needed to pay for something, I don’t know. One woman had some kind of problem and kept complaining, making disaparagin remarks as to why more people were not working the windows, then speaking loud English to the clerk. She was made to wait a long time due to either 1) the errors in her paperwork or 2) her attitude. The clerk was very nice to us, repeating a few things to me in Spanish when I wasn’t sure. It seems obvious, but if YOU are nice, people are nice TO you.

– My wonderful husband drove all day, although I think even nervous driver me could have done it. There was a lot of construction, going back and forth from the 4-lane to a 2-lane.

– If you don’t have a horse trailer, you could put two horses in the back of your Toyota pick-up.

– For some reason, the toll booths were not staffed today and we only paid at the first booth. In lieu of the foll collectors, it seemed people were collecting something for a charity. Unclear.

– I liked reading all the road signs. Un camino limpio es mas seguro (a clean road is safer). No maneje cansado (don’t drive tired).

– The construction speed of 60 kph and the “no passing” logo were both only vague suggestions.

We are in Guaymas tonight where we have a view of the water (at a distance) from our room.

Cheers! Tomorrow, on to Culiacan!

On the road again

We took a day off from driving. Spent two nights in Phoenix with friends and had a wonderful time. Great discussions, excellent wine, delicious food, the Heard Museum, drinks at the historic Biltmore (really!), sightseeing, and a Zumba class. What more could we want? Big thanks to our friends and their perky elderly puppy, Sassy, for hosting us.

Currently we are in Benson, AZ, where we had an afternoon’s visit with some of my cousins (including one I had never met). Given I have no siblings and my parents are gone, connecting with far-flung family is very sweet for me. I feel my connection to my blood relatives, however tenuous, and it makes me happy.

Tomorrow, we drive from Benson to Guaymas, Mexico. (See map below.) Onward!

On the road

The house is empty and is two days’ drive behind us. Leaving felt weird — sad but excited that we are on to a year of living in Mexico.

People have frequently asked me, “Aren’t you afraid to live in Mexico?” Not really, but you know what I am afraid of? Driving.

I haven’t driven much the last few years (my husband usually drives when we go on long trips) and, I have to say, driving I5 in California is stressful for me. I passed 1,000 semi trucks today. Or more. There are insane drivers here and it seems like death is imminent all the time. I guess I need more time behind the wheel to get used to it.

Safe and sound from the road, onward we go!

Pantry: today, so not prepared for the Armageddon

If the big Cascadia earthquake comes this week, we’re in a world of hurt. Of course, we would be in a nightmare anytime an earthquake came. But now, after having eaten or given away all of our pantry, we’d be in a particularly bad way. Usually we have a good quantity of dried beans, canned beans, rice, pasta, quinoa, barley, canned tomatoes, coconut milk, potatoes, onions, garlic, soy milk, home-canned tuna (and salsa and pickley things) olive oil, coconut oil, spices, oatmeal, flour, sugar, brown sugar, chocolate chips — pantry staples. Now, we are down to nuts, dregs of various vinegars, a few cans of beans we might in the next few days, some minimarshmallows and rice krispies (can you guess why?) and a box of crackers. The freezer went to the storage unit today so we have no help coming from there.

This winnowing down of our pantry has made me think a lot about how I cook and how I am potentially going to cook differently in another country/another climate.

Now, cooking usually goes something like this: what’s plentiful in the garden right now, and how can I center a dinner around it? Winter squash? Beets? Tomatoes? Kale? Cauliflower? Eggs? Grab it and then look into the pantry. Can I use my produce with rice or pasta or beans? Can I make it into a pizza? Can I roast it in the oven or make it into a soup or curry with a can of coconut milk?

Moving, we won’t have a garden. We won’t have our own chickens. There will be no dinner inspiration provided by something from the yard. We’ll have weekly produce markets (hooray) and stores. And it also seems like most things are in season all the time in Mexico. We will be able to eat the faw-away-from-Oregon foods (mostly fruits?) we don’t eat frequently here: bananas, pineapples, avocados, mangos, papayas, warm-from-the-factory corn tortillas, who knows what else? A new pallette/palate. I’m eager to experiment, to cook differently, to perhaps rethink the well-stocked pantry.

We’ll see.

In the meanwhile, we have no provisions for an emergency. Must be time to get out of here!

In a box to the left

Things are getting emptier at our place, including our chicken coop. Our four Buff Orpingtons went off to their new home and we are down to the last few of the home-layed eggs.

We have taken several Subaru-loads of items to our new storage unit. As I pack, I am thinking once again about “needs” and “wants.” What do I need to pack for a year in Mexico? How many T-shirts do I need? What kitchen stuff? Are most of those things that will sit in the storage unit for a year “wants” vs. “needs?” When we come back, will I wish we had gotten rid of more things or will I be happy to be reunited with the art we love, my winter coat, my few pair of impractical-for-cobblestones shoes, my colorful 1960s Pyrex bowls and our juicer?

I’m starting to have anxiety dreams about packing the car — what if the things we want to bring won’t fit? What will we jettison to the storage at the last minute? Not my running shoes, golf clubs, art suppies, or kitchen knives, I can tell you that.


Sorting, decision-making, boxing, moving.  Busy days here.

Soon, we will be driving … and then sitting on the plaza in Ajijic…where a person might see a great band of school-aged kids who can really play.IMG_1385