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Scenesa

Ajiijc plaza:

JWs spreading the word on the plaza. As far as we saw, they weren’t getting many customers.

Walking.

Near our house:

Our street, looking toward lake:

Futbol field in the AM:

When I tell visitors to bring sturdy shoes, I mean it. Cobblestones!

Street scene.

Our entry-way.

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Beets, thunderstorms, futbol

We have had big thunderstorms the last two nights. Our bedroom only has windows into an enclosed courtyard so we can’t see the storms too well. The lightening sure lights up all the skylights in the house, though!

Sundays, local teams play futbol at a field a few blocks from our house. We enjoy watching the matches. Some of the more entertaining play is during breaks when little kids are out honing their futbol skills. From the lakeside bleachers there is also a lovely view of the hills. Beer and food are sold and it’s a fun time.

And, no matter where I live, I’ve got to have my vegetables. Today, I made a salad with some very sweet beets we got at the farmer’s market. Beets, garlic, salt, pepper, oil, vinegar.

And another rooftop view.

Settling in

Settling in

We made trips to the immigration office yesterday and today. Our Residente Temporal applications are now submitted and we wait to be summoned back for fingerprinting. The process required making copies of various things and printing out an online application. While the wait can be a little long (an hour) at the immigration office, the folks there are efficient, nice, and paitent. It’s advisable to bring a book as their few magazines are mostly from 2010 and 2011.

We met with our landlords yesterday and were pleased to discover that we are all Cubs fans. They lived in Chicago many years and two of their three children still live there. The landlords explained all the utilities etc. to us. My husband had already checked out the reverse osmosis/UV water filtration system and we were excited to confirm with them that the water is good to drink.

I was able to go to Zumba on the Malecon today before our immigration office visit. It was a very fun class and I look forward to returning; it’s held three mornings a week. My husband is going to try Tai Chi. We hope to finish our moving-in tasks soon so we can check out the golf opportunities, other classes, and activities.

After the immigration office, we stopped for a lunch of house-made pasta and then went to the Wednesday market and bought some fresh veggies and fish. Next week, we hope to hit the Tuesday organic market which is supposed to be very close to our house. I think we will eat well here.

It’s a mess but here are some pictures from our new place.

Arrived to our new home, etc.

Arrived to our new home etc.

No offense to Sonora and Sinaloa, but I think Nayarit and Jalisco are more beatiful. We drove from Tepic, a city we really enjoyed, to our destination of Ajijic. The State Department advises against travel to Nayarit, but we didn’t see any problems on the tollroad. I think we only made one stop for gas, where an older gentleman in a pick-up spoke to us in English and told us about his good-looking dog named “Lucky” who was great at catching jackrabbits.

Photo — Tepic — we are not the only ones with plastic bins on our car.

East of Mazatlan, we saw a bunch of roadside stands selling dried shrimp and shrimp tamales. Soon after, we drove along what appeared to be a large estuary. It looked like it had been dammed up in places where people had made shrimp fisheries.

The scenery was very jungly, clearly a much wetter area. We then climbed into a pine forest area, with lava fields, and then into Jalisco and its agave (think Tequila). Alas the tollroad bypassed the town of Tequila and we were on a mission to drive to our new home. Soon, we will have to explore the tequila tasting areas.

Guadalajara had lots of traffic, even on a Sunday. We followed the signs South toward the airport and Lake Chapala.

We arrived to Ajijic only to find there had been a miscommunication with the landlord. We were told to call her shortly before we arrived, which we did (about 2:15). We left a few messages and tried her house. I called the property manager office cell phone (their only day off, they were not happy) and they said one of the guys at the office told her we would be there at 9AM and she waited for hours. :-(. So we waited some more, went to dinner, and then parked by the house again (in a deluge). A gringa neighbor came out to ask if we were the new tenants. She had the landlord’s cell phone number — we called, and she (landlord) sent a friend with the keys. We were in at about 8:30PM. LONG hours of uncertainty, but we hauled our car-top stuff in out of the rain and were grateful to have a bed with clean sheets. We opened a bottle of wine we had brought and relaxed, looking around our new house, figuring out the light switches, seeing what was what.

We slept well to the sound of our courtyard fountain, a ceiling fan keeping us plenty cool. (Temps here, FYI, high close to 80, 50s at night.). This morning, we met our landlord (the male half of the couple) while sitting on our mirador (rooftop deck) with coffee and tea. He shouted over to us from their rooftop. We hope to meet his wife soon (she was at TaiChi when he stopped to talk to us).

Our mission today was picking up our rental contract at the property office, making a trip for provisions, laundry and unpacking. Somewhat accomplished. We had breakfast at a little place called David’s, picked up our paperwork, and then made a Walmart run. Got a laundry basket, garbage bags, cleaning stuff, hangers, TP, pantry staples, etc. On the way home, we stopped at some roadside places to get fruit — berries, watermelon, pineapple.

After some laundry and unpacking, we had a cold one on the mirador and I made dinner for the first time in our new kitchen — just pasta with olives, garlic, artichoke hearts, tomato and fresh spinach. A bottle of Capitello Chardonnay made it better.

Settling in. Tomorrow, immigration office and farmer’s market?

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!