Tag Archives: Mexico

Dancing Leg (not for the faint of heart!)

It’s a wonder I slept last night. I might not have, except I’ve been sick for a couple of days and that’s wore me out. Sickness is tiring; you don’t really sleep, and if you do, you toss and turn or wake up every half hour from the throes of a nightmare. At least that’s what happens to me.

Yesterday, I stripped the bed and did a load of wash. I threw the dry linens on the bed and a few minutes later returned to the bedroom to make the bed. I moved one end of the comforter, about to pick it and the bedspread off the bed. Just as I did, I saw a huge spider on the comforter, screamed for Hubby to come save me, and shook the fabric enough to jostle the evilness to the floor. I screamed again, and he finally came running.

“What’s wrong? What’s wrong?” He’s shrieking, too, by that time, thinking I was having a heart attack or dying, after my recent illness. Perhaps a heart attack was lurking. Spiders are my worst enemy. If they would stay in their own territory and not invade mine, they’d live longer.

By that time, the spider was under the bed. Luckily I had just swept that morning and gotten rid of the dust bunnies. (This is Mexico; there are no vacuums and there are swarms of those grey, lurking bunnies.)

“There it is,” I yelled, a second after I thought it had disappeared for good.

“Oh, it’s just a teeny thing,” Hubby said. Then again, he says that every time he has to kill one for me.

“Get the broom!  It’s right there!” I pointed. I hate it when he uses his hand or a shoe to smack them dead. He pulled a tissue from his pocket and proceeded to chase it across the floor. He did get it, in the end. Mexican spiders are fast, extremely fast. That particular spider was the long-legged type, not a Daddy Long Legs, similar, but of a bit more substance. He squished the body, and I shrieked and averted my head. The sight would be repulsive.

“Hey, look at this,” he shouted. “The leg is still moving! How can that be when it’s not attached to the body?”

Against my better judgement, I looked. Sure enough, the detached thread-like leg was bouncing around, as if trying to find its mother. Or its body?


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I Lost It!

I lost my bank card today! Yikes! (Or, at least, discovered today I had lost it!)

I’m not surprised, actually. I jam stuff into my purse and never put cards and bills where they should be. If I’m at the ATM and someone’s behind me, I stuff even faster and haphazardly so I don’t inconvenient anyone. In the end, I have inconvenienced only me.

Who knows where my bank card disappeared to. Today’s the 17th, and, strangely, I do have the last withdrawal slip, dated the 12th. Funny, cause the two—my card and receipt—are usually jammed in my purse together. Figures I would lose the more important of the two!

This might not be a big deal, except we’re in Mexico. There’s the language barrier, the fact we’re far from home without access to our personal banking personnel and other funds, the very real possibility someone has accessed our account and depleted our funds. And, if someone has scoffed our money, another very real possibility Hubby may expect me to replenish the funds from my money. Another yikes! Oops!

Of course, when I discovered the loss, on the street, outside the ATM, the bank was closed for the day. We headed for our planned dinner, all the while Hubby chastising me. Yeah, but I deserved it, so I couldn’t say much. “You should let me handle the money and the card,” he yakked. Yeah, I guess so, I thought, but I felt a bit of power handling finances in Mexico, since at home, things are: his or mine; not ours.

I asked him if he had his bank card with him. “No,” he said. “I never had one.”

“Of course you did,” I said. “You had one at home.”

“Nope, I never had a card,” said he.

“Yes, you did. It was in your wallet, but no doubt you don’t have it here,” (thinking he wouldn’t carry his entire wallet around in Mexico). He kept insisting he didn’t have a card.

When we returned home, he opened his wallet. Voila, there it was! I kept quiet.

We returned to the bank. “I have to,” I said. “I won’t sleep tonight wondering whether our money is intact or not.”

Luckily, the money was intact. And Hubby’s card worked, despite him not remembering his password or even knowing he possessed the card. I saved the day! I remembered his password.

So, tomorrow we head to the bank again. I hope they can just cancel my card and not have to cancel his card and reissue all new cards, for that will only add to my stress. It was hard enough getting the online access set up and learn the process. If I have to go through all that again, I will scream!

Nothing’s easy in Mexico.

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“I Suspect You’ve Used a Ruler”

I feel an unexpected loss. I equated Dimitar Krustev with Ajijic and winter, for when Hubby and I were there, I took art lessons from him. Granted, Hubby and I didn’t come here last winter, nor did I paint the previous winter (although I had stopped in to visit him),  but I still thought of him. And, despite me not continuing with art when I was back home in Nova Scotia, I toyed with the idea of resuming lessons this season.

A week ago, out of the blue, a friend said, “You did know Dimitar died?”

“What?” No, I hadn’t. I was stunned.

I shouldn’t have been totally surprised; he was 93, after all. I had been meaning to ask that particular individual, one of his prior students, if he had run into him, but I kept forgetting. Perhaps I knew, deep inside.

I’m still upset, still shocked. Still feel a loss.

I wish I could have said goodbye. I wish I had taken more lessons from him; I wish I still could. He was an excellent teacher, and I learned a lot from him.

“I suspect you’ve used a ruler.” I’ll never forget those words and how embarrassed I had been. I couldn’t draw, still can’t, but I can paint okay. My rationale, once I realized I couldn’t draw (for doesn’t that take skill one is born with?), was that I was in Dimitar’s studio for painting lessons, not drawing lessons. Rather than waste precious time drawing during classes, I’d do my drawings at home. From a 4×6 photograph, I’d transfer that image to a large sheet of pastel paper with the use of a ruler. One inch on the photo could equal four inches on the paper. No, I didn’t graph it out, that would be cheating. A ruler was simply my crutch to get the outline to paper—to ensure my measurements were accurate—but I couldn’t let on to Dimitar, of course. He had said early on in lessons that no rulers were to be used.

I carried a ruler—or two—in my bag of art supplies when I went to his studio, ‘cause who knew when one might snap or be misplaced. He had seen them on occasion, for one couldn’t sneak anything by him, but never mentioned them. Sometimes I even used one in class, when I needed to, but always when his back was turned.

So, my drawings were always complete when I showed up for class. (You’d think he’d have clued in to that early on!) And, despite “cheating,” they weren’t always to scale, as he’d point out on occasion. One day, after he had chastised me about my drawing being out-of-whack, even though I had thought it to be perfect (I saw the flaws once he pointed them out), he blurted, “I suspect you’ve used a ruler,” and walked away in a huff.

Dimitar was old-school. You didn’t draw or paint with aids, but, despite him profusely praising my “talents,” he didn’t understand I had none. I couldn’t draw, yet I wanted desperately to paint my grandchildren’s portraits, and I could only draw their gorgeous faces by using a ruler. That was in 2008. Today I have several portraits of each of them, not to mention other various images. Thanks to a ruler. And Dimitar.

RIP Dimitar Krusev, 1920-2013



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More Used Books!

Hubby and I just returned from the used bookstore, one of my favourite places here in Ajijic, Mexico, IF I can wrap my head around the book lice (see an earlier posting of mine)—either pretend none exist, even if I don’t see any, or do preventative treatments just in case. I’m taking the latter road.

So, my “new” books are basking in the sun. I did wipe and shake them when I first got them home. I threw away one dust jacket—what an apropos name—since it was extremely dusty, torn, and dirty. I haven’t seen a bug yet. Keeping my fingers and toes crossed.

Want to know what treasures I found? My most precious find was “The Love of a Good Woman” by Alice Munro (a collection of short stories). Also in my bag were: “The Short Stories of John Cleever” (the book with the discarded dust cover), “The Best Loved Poems of American People,” and the “Kiss in the Hotel Joseph Conrad and Other Stories” by Howard Norman.

To be honest, I haven’t read all the previous ones I had purchased. Sometimes I think I’m simply a book collector, not a reader. But, I will read them, and some I will take home to Canada with me to add to my library there.

Why short stories you ask? I have a short attention span lately—more than “lately,” seems like for the past few years. Besides which, I write short stories; ergo, I like to read them.

Short story collections are hard to find, so I scoop them up whenever I can, especially at the prices here. We pay five pesos (less than fifty cents) for soft covers and ten pesos (less than one dollar) for hard-covered books. What a deal! Can’t pass those prices up!

The sun is shining brilliantly this afternoon. I’m heading outdoors to our luscious patio with a glass of wine. I’ll grab one of the sunbathing books, sit in the sun, and read it (and hope I don’t see a bug that I mistake for a period or a comma). Despite the clock showing 2:11, it’s cocktail time somewhere in the world. It might as well be here. Hey…it IS here. I have the glass of wine to prove it.

Happy reading, everyone, wherever you may be!

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Mexico, eh?

Mexico, eh? Wow! Must be nice! The hot weather. Lolling on the beach sipping piña coladas. Collecting those little umbrellas and fancy straws.

Yep, I’ve been in Mexico for two weeks now, and, I suppose compared to Canada, the weather here is nicer than subzero temps and snow shovelling.

But it’s not Mexico weather!

I’m lying in bed, at almost three in the morning, listening to the rain pelt on the clay-tiled roof and hit the luscious private patio next to our bedroom sliding door. The wind is rustling through the trees and hitting the bougainvilleas climbing up the wall across from me, but not loud enough to mask the intermittent thunder. An occasional lightning bolt flashes into our room. Hubby snores beside me.

This isn’t the Mexico I signed up for. Hubby and I haven’t seen the sun in three days, and we’re missing our early morning exercise runs. To those people back home, none of the above beach stuff is existing in my life. For one thing, we aren’t in one of the hot-spot tourist resorts, so we’ll never be lounging beachside sucking syrupy drinks. But that’s quite okay, since Hubby and I aren’t beach people.

Instead, we’re in our second “home” in Ajijic, which my daughter calls the seniors’ place. The weather should be nicer. This is more rain and chilliness in December than Ajijic has had for many years, and everyone is complaining about their cold homes. There’s no such thing here as central heating. Some lucky ones have electric heaters, with the downside of racking up already sky-high electric bills, but in this abominable temperature, no one will mind a few more pesos. Still other luckier ones are cozying up to their gas fireplaces. Hubby and I, well—we have a different tale. We allowed our long-term renters to remain in our house (complete with two gas fireplace and an electric heater), while we rented a house this season. Unfortunately, our rental has neither a fireplace nor an electric heater, and, because of the direction this house faces, the sun, even when it’s shining, doesn’t even begin to heat the place. We’ve been cold since the day we arrived, despite the 20+ temps outside. The only place we can find warmth is sitting in the car with the heater full blast or snuggling in bed. Restaurants with fireplaces are hard to come by, but we’ve been looking. I’ve been to Walmart numerous times to purchase sweaters and long-sleeved tops and fluffy socks.

We did break down yesterday and called our renters to see if we could confiscate our electric heater, if they weren’t using it, of course. “No problemo,” they said. We enjoyed two minutes of heat from it, until it blew up.

When I disentangle myself from Hubby to look at the clock, I bolt upright when I see the time.

“Do you know it’s ten o’clock,” I say.

“Yes,” Hubby replies. “But what’s the sense in getting up when it’s cold and rainy and there’s nothing to do?”  Poor Hubby, who’s usually at work by eight, has been bundled up reading more books in the last few days than he has in his entire life.

I googled Ajijic’s long-range temperature. Looks like we’re in for another week of this stuff, although the temps for each day are increasing in increments of a degree a day. Wow! We might get warm someday!

I hope Ajijic will soon be back to normal, so I can at least pretend to my buddies back home that I am sitting on a beach drinking piña coladas. Because, despite not boasting a Puerto Vallarta beach, Ajijic is “beach” to me when I bask in the sun  or stroll down the malecón or admire Lake Chapala as it spreads toward the mountains.


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The Star of Bethlehem

Hubby and I walked to the village of Ajijic last night, something we do usually every night and at least once a day, about a 25-minute walk from our home here in Mexico, where we’re spending a couple of months. The bo-bos were out in full force, as they usually are at around 6 p.m., just before dusk. Zillions of those pesky, teeny, almost colourless flies swarm around you, especially about your face. They’re only out for a short time, maybe for a 15-minute period (not sure where they disappear to the rest of the day and night). You learn to keep your mouth shut, wear sunglasses, and swat your hands at them like a crazy person. We cut across the carretera and sauntered down one of the side streets, where the bo-bos didn’t seem quite as bad.

Carefully, so as not to trip on the uneven pebbles and stones, especially me who has a habit of falling every season and tearing my slacks and skinning my knee, we sauntered down the cobblestone road toward the boardwalk. (Yep, my yearly fall came early this season; I fell one morning last week and tore a hole in my favourite slacks and gouged my knee.). The waterfront was alive, a change from the previous night when, for a Saturday, it was dead. Children frolicked in the recently-made concrete play area, including a large, angled dugout about twelve feet deep in the centre. Little kids ran up the slippery slopes trying to get out of the hole, while others on the flat surface grabbed hold of their hands to pull them out. More often than not, the ones pulling ended up sliding to the bottom, too. It was hilarious. Further on, dare-devil skateboarders zoomed up and over huge concrete humps. Bicyclers, even more daring, soared across the high, slanted walls. Up and down, over and up.

After watching for a bit, we walked to the square where more crowds congregated. Tall Boys, a local band, were putting on a free concert. We sauntered around examining wares for sale before stopping at the corner ice cream parlour, which hadn’t been in my plan due an excess 10 pounds I’ve suddenly found myself with. But, oh, the cappuccino cone, full of huge chunks of chocolate—more chocolate than ice cream—was worth it. Hubby selected a bar on a stick, which, unbeknownst to him, turned out to be a frozen banana coated with thick chocolate and nuts. He said it was delicious, if you like bananas. Both for 24 pesos, about $2.00.

The walk home was tranquil and balmy.  Night had fallen. Reddish brown ribbons interspersed with strands of white streaked over the mountains that seemed to rise from the lake’s edge. Flickering lights from the mountains appeared as thousands of stars, but only one lonely, large star twinkled from the massive black sky. “It’s the Star of Bethlehem leading us home,” I said.

I thought my comment quite apropos, since Christmas was two days hence. Hubby, however, said Bethlehem was too far away.

Merry Christmas from Mexico to all my friends!

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Promise Tendered; Promise Taken

While we were in Mexico this past winter, friends casually mentioned needing a cab to the airport, and I immediately volunteered. At the reference to a 6:30 a.m. pickup, I regretted my impulse offer, but it was too late; the words were out. And they were accepted – promise tendered; promise taken.

I’m not a morning person but figure I can manage. If we get up at 6:15 a.m., we can dress, brush our teeth, down our pills with an OJ splash, be at their place by 6:30 and back in Ajijic before 7:30. We’ll have time for our hour-long brisk walk before heading for Open Circle and brunch with our Sunday friends.

I forget we have dinner plans with another couple the night before, which entails cocktails at their home before going to Manix for more drinks. At the restaurant, I drink three glasses of wine on top of what I drank earlier. Luckily, the band quits at 9:00 p.m. and the place empties.

We’re in bed by 10:00 p.m. Hubbie sets the alarm clock before falling asleep. I watch television.

Later, tossing and turning, I wonder what I’ve done. I’m responsible for ensuring two people arrive at the airport on time. What if Hubbie and I sleep through the alarm? What if the car doesn’t start in the morning? This situation is even more stressful than when Hubbie and I return to Canada and we worry about catching our flight.

I doze for several minutes before waking to the buzzing alarm clock at midnight. Hubbie groans, turns on the light, and silences the alarm.

I try to sleep. My head throbs. Twenty minutes later, the radio blasts forth again. Hubbie repeats the process.

That’s when I worry whether he’s set the alarm correctly and whether it’ll work in the morning.

My headache, I finally realize, is an early hangover. I toss and turn; Hubbie is restless, too. At one point, I hear him traipsing downstairs. Three times he’s up for bathroom treks.

I sleep for occasional minutes, but mostly I’m awake. A band marching down our street wakes me at 2:00 a.m., and soon there’s a live concert outside our bedroom, where it remains for too long before the raucous is out of earshot.

Periods of eerie silence are marred by intrusions from barking dogs, catfights and incessant roosters. I compose four short stories in my head. A brainstorm possesses me to write one titled “Sleepless Night” to submit to one of Ajijic’s publications.

At least once an hour I bounce up in fright. With eyes caked shut, I can barely read the numbers glowing on the clock. I still my urges to copy hubby’s forays to the washroom. My head wants to explode.

Hubbie snores beside me. I wonder if I should visit my computer. There comes a point where it’s too late to sleep, but I worry that eventually we’ll drift off and never wake up. It’ll be dark at 6:15 a.m.; the sun won’t stir us.

A last glimpse of the clock reads 5:45 a.m.

The alarm blares. I jump out of a sound sleep. While brushing my teeth, Hubbie appears.

“You don’t have to hurry. It’s only 6:00.”

“6:00! You were supposed to set it for 6:15.”

“I know, but I wanted to make sure we got up in time.”

At 6:15, we’re ready. Our friends live a block away, and it takes two minutes to get there. There’s no sign of life. Did they oversleep? We can’t ring their bell; I don’t remember their condo number.

On the dot of 6:30, their gate swings open. We load their suitcases in the trunk. I hate driving in the dark, even as a passenger, and I hadn’t realized darkness would still prevail at that time.

A skunk skulks on the Libriemento. The highway is bumpier than usual and traffic is horrendous. The drive takes forever. We unload their luggage and hug goodbye.

“Keep writing,” Jim says.

Yeah, no problem: I write in my sleep.

Before reaching the highway, we pass Federale who mill about a car. I cringe, remembering our foreign plates and expired FM3.

The sun shows a trace of its face. The ride home is smoother, even when Hubbie careens around the carcass of a recently deceased horse. A few miles farther, a mangled dog rests by the road. My eyes open at the most inopportune moments.

The skunky smell still lingers on the Libriemento. The morning becomes brighter, but my eyes are heavy and my head hurts. I want to skip Open Circle and brunch and crawl into bed.

Instead, I don my wrist-weights and we go for our walk.  Exhausted, I shower and dress, grab a diet Coke for its caffeine properties, and off we saunter to Open Circle.

“Hey, there’s a taxi stand,” I mumble to Hubbie.

(This was printed in the Lake Chapala Review, May 15, 2012)

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