Monday, February 26, 2007

I’m beginning to look like Phyllis Diller, what with not having had my hair cut for two months, so I decided to go into town today and have that taken care of. I had other things to do as well, and thought I would get all my other business done first. I boarded the bus in San Carlos, rode past Ley, and asked the lady beside me whether she knew how to find a store called Soriana. I was looking for a gooseneck reading lamp, and figured Soriana would be the place to look. She agreed. She told me I had to catch a different bus to get there, and she would show me where. We rode right downtown, to the stop by the Mercado where I would be getting off anyway to go buy some sandals, and she told me to catch the Soriana bus across the street. This appears to be the central bus stop. It’s also where I catch the bus to come back to San Carlos. So I walked across the street, caught the bus to Soriana, which is out in the suburbs, sort of. I could see a big McDonald’s sign in the distance. Unfortunately, it was a wasted trip. The Soriana in Guaymas is nothing like the one in Hermosillo, where I have shopped before. I bought some dish detergent to justify going there, went across the street, and caught a bus back downtown. I found the Mexican flag I had been looking for – three of them, actually, as I had to buy it at a fabric store and they are laid three across the width of the fabric. I could start a little flag store.

Then I walked to the Mercado, to the little shop where I had seen some sandals I liked. The lady in the shop (which is smaller than most bathrooms, by the way) spoke a little English, which was helpful. It turns out I wear size 5 shoes here, which makes me feel ever so dainty. While I tried on some sandals, she scurried around, finding more of them. I finally said “You’re giving me too many choices. If you had just given me one pair, I’d have bought them. Now I have to decide. Oh, dear. This could take some time.” I finally settled on one pair and bought them. My Birkenstocks have chosen this time to fall apart, and I don’t want to ruin them by wearing them any longer with soles that are threatening to come off. I’ll have them resoled when I get back up north. Meanwhile, I have a pretty little pair of size 5s. Heh.

I revisited the stall where I bought my big cazuela the other day, bought two little tiny ones for serving salsa, hit the veggie stall for chiles, garlic, tomatoes, cilantro. Then I went back outside and decided I was hungry, thirsty, and too tired to go looking for a hairdresser. I caught the bus home, and on the way it occurred to me that there’s a salon in a little mini-mall right here in San Carlos. I think I’ll just cycle up there tomorrow.

I promised to tell the story of Totonaka. When I rode into town with my class on Friday, Maria sat next to me. I asked her what Totonaka meant. She said it referred to a group of people who were more or less contemporaries of the Aztecs, but lived south of them. They (the Totonaka) were apparently short people with big heads. Totonaka was also Maria's pet name for her husband (now deceased). Thirty years ago, when they started their business here in San Carlos, they were trying to think of a name for the park. One day Maria's husband came home and said "I've decided on a name, but it's a surprise." When the park opened, he brought Maria over and showed her the sign. She says the place is full of memories.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

I have successfully completed Salsa School. I went to Guaymas on Friday with my Mexican cooking class. We took the bus, all seventeen of us. Just outside town, there was a field in which the floats from Carnaval had been parked, so I got to see the floats without having to actually go to the party, old stick in the mud that I am.

At the market I listened to Maria point out all the various chiles, then bought a papaya and a couple of Serrano chiles for my own salsa. I wanted a pineapple, but there weren't any at the market, so I settled for the papaya. I also bought a cazuela. That's a clay cooking pot. It's glazed on the inside only. You bring it home, wash it, then put warm water and a spoonful of salt into it and set it on the stove to simmer for at least half an hour to season it. I've done that, and now it's ready to use. I saw a taqueria in Guaymas that had half a dozen cazuelas lined up on a stove, all bubbling away with various taco fillings in them. I plan on doing mole poblano in mine one of these days, and it will also be my official bean pot. Meanwhile, it's serving as a fruit bowl until my current batch of beans is gone.

At 3:30 on Friday, the class met again so that we could all taste each other's salsas. My papaya salsa got a hand wiggle from the teacher. (I think that was a B, or maybe a C+.) I got all the ingredients right, and the amounts, so it tasted fine, but I cut the papaya up too small. I was just glad to hear that it tasted right. I'm afraid I'll never be a papaya fan. I can't seem to get past the smell. Next fruit salsa I do will be pineapple, and I'll make sure not to dice the fruit too finely. It was fun to listen to the critiques of not just my own, but everybody else's salsa. Mostly Maria figured they had too much tomato in them, not enough chile, and if she had her way, everything would have oregano in it. Somebody made an avocado salsa, though, that was to die for. We all agreed on that, even Maria. I plan to make one of those every week, just so I don't forget how. And of course there's pico de gallo, which has become a mainstay of my meals.

Yesterday R and I took the bus to Guaymas together, just to shop at Ley (the supermarket), which is in a mall. I saw a couple of hair salons there, tried without success to sneak peeks at customers coming out. Some time this week, I really have to go get a haircut.

Today, we cycled out to the west end of town, near the base of Tetakawa. I've found out what Tetakawa means. The word apparently comes from one of the local languages, maybe Yaqui, and it means goat's teats. I also found out about the word Totonaka, but I'll tell you about that later. Anyway, we went out to the west end on our bicycles this morning, and I took a few pictures of the town from that angle. The sky was very clear this morning, so everything was in sharp relief.
There was a glass-bottomed boat out in the bay, but I don't know how much they could see under the water. The sky was clear, but the water was a little murky.

Now I'm about to give the computer up so R can check out the BBC.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Last night I was so tired, I just couldn't drag myself the length of the park to post. That's because in the morning, R and I cycled out to the estuary parking lot, left the bikes, took the canoe out to the beach, and paddled out through the surf and along to the entrance. We explored the lagoon for about two hours, beaching the canoe now and then to wander around on sand bars, annoy the pelicans, pick up sea shells. When we were actually paddling, we often stayed near the mangroves to get out of the wind, and that was apparently a problem for the egrets. They would take off with a great Squawk and move down to the next tree, then go back when we had gone by. The pelicans, on the other hand, saw us as a potential free lunch (no, that was the buzzards, actually.). The pelicans just thought our paddles might magically turn into fishing poles, so they took turns flying over us, then screeching to a halt in the water about twenty feet in front of the canoe and staring at us with one blue eye at a time. We never convinced them that we weren't fishing, and that no snacks would be forthcoming.

Eventually, the wind picked up in earnest, and we decided to head in. Rather than drag the canoe the length of the beach as we had done the day before, we paddled out through the surf and retraced our trip of earlier in the day. It was not an easy trip. The surf was much stronger, and we kept being swept in toward the shore. We soldiered on until we got opposite the place where we tie the boat, then made an abrupt right turn and beached the boat - almost. Just as we reached the shore, we were swamped. I was fine (except for being wet from the wave that had crashed over me earlier in the trip), but R was climbing out of the boat at the time. He got soaked and tumbled out of the boat rather more quickly than he had planned. His only injury was a bit of a cut on the leg, but the experience was very wearing. We pulled the canoe uphill to the ring, tied it, and cycled home. I had a Mexican cooking class at 3:30. We got home at 2:30, but we needed something from the grocery store, so after I unloaded the paddles from my panniers, I biked up to the store and back. Then I went to class.

There was nothing left of me, I tell you. Nothing. I know we ate dinner, but I'm not sure what it was. I think we both got a bit of sunstroke. We had a good time, though, and my class was the one on chiles, which was just great. Tonight I've made an avocado salsa to have with our chicken, and I used Maria's technique for the salsa I put in my beans.

By the way, the mountain you see in all the pictures of San Carlos turns out to be called Tetakawa. I must see if I can find out what language that is, and what the word means.

This picture of Tetakawa and San Carlos was taken on a day when the wind wasn't blowing. This is what the shore is supposed to be like when you're paddling your canoe along it!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

What a fantastic day. First thing this morning, we packed up the rv and drove out, positioning table, chairs, cooler to make it obvious that our spot was still in use. I stopped in and told Silvano we were going to town for a few hours, just in case there should be any doubt. We drove up the street to the Pemex station, but left again when we saw that a truck had backed into a concrete hydro pole in front of the station and broken it. The electrical wires were hanging below the level of our roof. We went to the other Pemex in town and filled up (we pulled into San Carlos on a fume a few days ago, thought it best not to go any distance like that), and as we drove away we saw that just a few doors down, there was a book sale going on. It turned out to be a fund raiser for something called SBPA, iirc - a local variation on the SPCA theme. This group can't afford to run a shelter, but they do mass rabies vaccinations, a cause that's dear to my heart, and also to my leg. We spent about fifteen minutes rooting through boxes, and we found ten books that we wanted. I went up to the donation box to leave some money, and found an eleventh book along the way. We are now officially Well-Stocked With Books.

We drove into Guaymas and bought some supplies at the Ley supermarket, then turned around and came back as far as the estuary, where we parked and ate brunch. While we were eating, a group of local guys ranging in age from about 15 to 40 started a soccer game in the huge dirt parking lot, cheered on from one side by us and from the other by a group of construction workers on their lunch break. They set up one of the goals about ten feet from our hood, so the team trying to score there became "my" team. While I watched, each team scored a goal, and one player gave the ball a mighty kick and sent his shoe flying.

Meanwhile, a group of three young men appeared and were hanging about the shore near where I took pictures a few days ago. R went out and hired them to get the canoe down off the roof for us. Brilliant move. They had the job done in about two minutes, and we still had energy to actually use the canoe.

Once brunch was finished and the dishes squared away, we cast off in the canoe and paddled through the lagoon in water that was clear and about a foot deep most of the time. The tide was coming in, so we felt confident of the depth. I don't honestly know how long we were out there. We tried to stay close to the mangroves to avoid sand bars, but from time to time we had to do some serious steering to keep from running aground. Our paddling would change to poling, and there would be a hissing sound indicating that we were sliding across the sand. R suggested that the mangroves to our left might be on an island, rather than a peninsula, and we set out to investigate. Eventually, there came a time when we couldn't figure out how to get from where we were to where we could see the deep blue that indicated the channel. We paddled and poled onto a convenient sand bar, and I waited in the bow while R got out and walked on water, or so it appeared. By the time he came back, I had the giggles. We put the canoe in Reverse, found the deepest of the shallow places, thanks to R's reconnoitering, and huffed and puffed our way to the channel , which led by a rather circuitous route to the sea. Along the way we encountered grey herons and white herons (we think), egrets and buzzards, many pelicans, an oyster catcher, something that looked like an enormous seagull, and several kayakers. Everybody was having a wonderful time.

When we got to the sea, we disembarked and took turns dragging the canoe along in the surf. The wind had come up while we were canoeing (one of the reasons we had to do some serious steering), and out at the seashore it was brisk indeed. It was about half a kilometre back to where we wanted to tie the boat. By the time we got there, we had had Lots of Exercise. We pulled the boat up to the stone wall edging the beach, and R locked it there with a bicycle lock. This is how he figured it: There's a remote possibility that the boat may be stolen, and then we won't have the use of it. The alternative is to leave it on the roof, where we don't have the use of it. Now, all being well, we can cycle up to the estuary, go for a paddle, and cycle home - on a day when it isn't so windy!

When we got back to the park, there was a caravan of rvs lined up to get in. Standing room only. We went on up to the other end of the road again, and I went into a dive shop to ask about a waterproof bag. I really want to take the camera out in the canoe, and R has decided that's a good idea. I asked about a waterproof bag, and the clerk pulled one out. LOL. I said I could get my whole canoe in that bag, and did he have anything about a tenth that size? No, he didn't. The other dive shop was closed, so I have a new quest for tomorrow.

We snaked our way through the sea of newcomers at the park and found our site waiting for us. We are all hooked up again, probably not to move for another month. Altogether, it truly was a wonderful day. I am So Tired.

Monday, February 19, 2007

I spent my sixtieth birthday doing nothing spectacular - checked out the local art gallery, did some window shopping, started reading a book by Isabel Allende. I also took the first of the Spanish classes I've seen posted at the office. It was disappointing. It was a class for people who hadn't figured out how to say "Buenos dias" yet, and it really didn't go anywhere. I'll check out the slightly more advanced class on Thursday morning, but I don't expect much.

Before class this morning, I went to the office to pay for another month here. Silvano, the young man at the desk, adjusted our first week's rent to the monthly rate, threw a few extra days in to adjust for the shortness of February, and gave me a Totonaka t-shirt. What a deal. We are all paid up to March 26.

R and I have decided that tomorrow we will unhook the rv and drive to Guaymas, leaving a table and chairs to mark our spot against invaders (It seems that half of Canada is in San Carlos now, trolling for hookups). We will stop at the estuary, tie the canoe to a ring and lock it, then drive in to Guaymas to look around. We will just leave the canoe at the estuary. That way we can cycle over and go for a paddle whenever we like.

Although the Spanish class was a dud, I do look forward to the cooking classes. I'm becoming absolute dynamite at cooking beans, and Maria's classes should expand my horizons considerably. Wednesday's class is on the varieties of chiles, and on Friday morning there's a field trip to the mercado in Guaymas. Each of us is to decide in advance what kind of salsa she wishes to make, and Maria will help us buy the appropriate ingredients. When we come back from Guaymas, we'll all retire to our own homes and make our various salsas. At 330 in the afternoon, we'll get together for show and tell and eat. sigh.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

It's Saturday, isn't it? Maybe that's why I can get the internet from the Turtle instead of having to go to the clubhouse. It comes and it goes, so while it's here, I'll take advantage.

This morning, for the first time, R and I rode our bikes out to the estuary known as Estero el Soldado. It was a forty-five minute level ride from the park, very pleasant. When we got there we were delighted with what we found. There were pelicans, cormorants, egrets, gulls, and apparently plenty of fish. Right after we arrived, a cormorant caught a fish and was holding it above his head. The fish was flapping. Suddenly a pelican swooped in behind the cormorant, reached over his shoulder, and grabbed the fish.

We were only there for a few minutes, long enough for me to grab some photos. Then we cycled home, planning to go back with the canoe. We decided to talk to some neighbours about it - they could drive us and the canoe over in their truck and pick us up a couple of hours later. Then we could leave the canoe in their truck, and they could use the canoe the next day - or vice versa. What a plan. When we got home, I made breakfast while R went to talk to the neighbours. He came back saying you apparently have to be really careful about canoeing or kayaking in the estuary, because if the tide goes out while you're there, you can get well and truly stranded. Sounds as if we need to get hold of a tide table for San Carlos before we get too adventurous.

Meanwhile, though, discovering the estuary has given us a reason to stay longer in San Carlos. We will probably book in for an extra week, which makes me happy. It will give me a chance to do the field trip to Guaymas with the cooking class, and maybe get in one more class after that. Also, we have an interesting destination for morning cycle rides. Maybe tomorrow we'll pack a lunch and do some serious bird watching.
The birds don't seem the least bit skittish. They must get a lot of gawkers. A couple that came along while we were there said they have cycled and hiked around the estuary many times, and that it is well worth the effort. Not that you can cycle "around" the estuary as such, but you can follow several different paths that give you a good half-hour's exploration time by bike, much longer on foot, I would imagine.

Here is my favourite picture. I'm afraid that all the motion did awful things to the focus, but you can probably still get a good idea of what I was trying to capture.
One of these days I'll remember to take along a towel or something to throw over my head while I'm taking pictures. I always seem to be trying to photograph stuff I can't see in the camera. If I had been able to see this, I would probably have swung the camera a little to the right. Guess I won't quit my day job just yet!

Friday, February 16, 2007

I've had fun today, at least this afternoon. The day started out with laundry detail, general housework, then finishing Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (the four-part trilogy) so R can have it to read without having to pinch it from me. I had said I would go on a photo binge, but the laundry/housework/reading stuff took up most of the day, so I limited my binge to in and around the park. I started out with the office building, which contains the clubhouse, where I'm sitting right now.

I have to carry the laptop from where we are parked, which is way at the back of the park, but after the Mazatlan experience, I'm not finding it particularly onerous. There are no iguanas in here, but there is a map of North America into which people have stuck pins indicating where they live. There are so many pins in the southern British Columbia/Vancouver Island area, I couldn't find a place to put one.

I walked out to the road and took a couple of pictures of what we see, including one wall that always amuses me. When we've been out walking or cycling, I use that wall as my navigational aid.

Looking north along the main road, you can see the mountain that seems to be San Carlos's official symbol. There isn't a whole lot to this town, but it's a relaxing place to stay, except on days like today.

We are right across the road from the beach. Since we got back this time, we haven't walked up the beach. That should be on the agenda for tomorrow.

Today, after the housework and reading and picture taking, I went to the palapa for a cooking class.

A woman named Maria apparently does these classes every week for five weeks, then starts the cycle again with a class on the kinds of chiles and what to do with them. That's next week's class, the one I really want to hear. Today's class was on chiles rellenos. One of the women in the park had inadvertently missed the class and wanted the recipe. I told her I would go home and put it in an e-mail to her, which I did. So here is the recipe:

Chiles Rellenos

Recipe gleaned from Maria’s cooking class at Totonaka RV Park

6 roasted, peeled poblano chiles
Filling (cheese/tomato, cooked chicken, cooked ground beef, or whatever)
1 cup flour
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
3 eggs (if I remember correctly), at room temperature, separated
Oil for frying

Have all the ingredients out and ready to go.

Make a small slit in each chile and carefully remove the seeds and membrane. Set the chiles aside.

Make a filling. Maria suggests sliced Chihuahua cheese and diced tomato. You could also use tuna, shrimp, ground beef or chicken. Meat must be pre-cooked.

Lightly stuff the chiles, fasten each of them closed with a toothpick, and set them aside.

Beat the egg whites until they are quite stiff, then fold in the egg yolks – be careful. The mixture should not fall.

Combine the flour, salt and pepper on a plate.

Heat the oil in a frying pan at a medium high setting. You will want a pan big enough to cook two chiles at a time. Oil should be about as deep as if you were frying chicken.

One at a time, dip the chiles in the flour mixture. Coat them completely. I think Maria made the point that they should be completely coated, but not to get carried away. ;>)

Hold the chile by its stem and dip the whole thing into the egg mixture.

Fry two at a time, about 4 minutes on each side. They should be well browned, but not burned. Drain them on paper towels. Serve immediately with a salsa of your choice.

*****So next Wednesday I get to learn all about the various kinds of chiles (I found out today that my two favourites are really the same one. When it's dried, its name changes. Never mind. I'll expand my horizons, learn to make my own Really Good Salsas. There's a field trip to the mercado in Guaymas on Friday. I hope we're still here for that.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

We’ve settled into our permanent (for the next nine days or so) site here at Totonaka, beans are soaking for Just Beans; vegetables and fruit from Tony’s truck have been washed and put away; fish is in the fridge, ready to be cooked for dinner; linens are flapping on the line and nearly dry; and R just managed to get the cable hooked up. He had to go to the hardware store and get an adapter to allow that. Within five minutes of his hooking it up, a handyman from the park appeared with an adapter to do the job for us. We just needed to be a little more patient. We had television last night in our temporary site, but this one was a little trickier. I’m of two minds about the television, being easily seduced. Oh, great. Now I’m humming “I’m Just a Girl Who Can’t Say No!” (or is it Cain’t?)

I thought I had some photos from the last time we were in San Carlos, but it looks as if there are only movies. Tomorrow I will go on a photo binge. Meanwhile, I’ll go back and put some photos in the Alamos entry.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Here are entries for the last couple of days. I'll add pictures to them probably tomorrow - for now I need to catch up on e-mail and boards.

February 12, 2007. Oh, I have a feeling that by the time I can post this, somebody will have sent out the Mounties. Yesterday, I went up to Bodie’s place to write my journal entry, but as it happened, my sister was online and we ended up talking on Skype (and talking and talking, as we are wont to do, being sisters). Suddenly I saw Ian drive by. He was on his way to pick R and me up. Gotta go, I said. I packed up and went to town on what turned out to be a more ambitious outing than I had anticipated. We went down to where all the action is – the Malecon – and up to the ninth floor of the Best Western hotel, where there is a rooftop terrace with a great view of the harbour. I had left my camera in the RV, but now I could actually look at things without peering through a viewfinder, so all was well. Ian has a couple of pictures that he is going to e-mail me. I said I would pass them off as my own, but that wouldn’t be nice – so when the photos of Mazatlan’s harbour appear here, be advised that they are not mine. The men rode the 1944 vintage elevator back to the street. I tried to beat them by taking the terra cotta tiled stairs around and down, around and down, around and down, but they got to the bottom seconds ahead of me. I wanted to use the stairs because I loved their smell. They have a fragrance that reminds me of the California missions. There, I always thought I was smelling traces of incense wafting in from some chapel, but there was no incense in the Best Western. Maybe it’s the tiles themselves – or, as Ian suggested, something used to clean them (how pedestrian. I vote for some substance intrinsic to terra cotta, or to the grout - Eau de Nostalgia).

On the Malecon, I found a vendor who was happy to sell me a shell like the one my grandmother had – this time without any writing on it. I now understand that it is a cowrie shell. We saw the place where the men dive in among the rocks, but the tide was low, so nobody was diving. As we were leaving, a couple of young men said they would dive for us, but we said no, don’t, the tide is too low. It’s too dangerous. No problem! We’re professionals! Right. I can see it now. I would pay some 18-year old hot shot to dive off the tower, he would miss his mark and go splat on the rocks, and I would feel guilty for the rest of my life. Not to mention, he would be dead. No, thank you.

Ian pointed out several statues along the road, and commented that Mazatlan seems to run to statues of people with their privates hanging out. He’s right. Not a fig leaf in sight.

We checked out the cathedral, but there was a service in progress, so we could only see the outside. It wasn’t all that impressive (I fear Winchester and Salisbury have spoiled us). We strolled through the market, but they seemed to sell mostly t-shirts and rosaries there, so we came out without spending any money. Then we bought ice cream bars, ate them, and strolled stickily back to the truck for the ride home. On the way, we stopped at Gigante for some groceries, and Ian came over for a farewell dinner.

He was shocked to hear that we had been in Mazatlan for two weeks and hadn’t ventured down to the Malecon before. First of all, we explained, we would have no idea where we were going – or where to catch a bus to go back home, and Mazatlan is a very confusing place. Also, I hate cities, I said. Then why the hell did you come to Mazatlan?

Oh. Good question, Ian. We came looking for warm weather. If they would take the city out and just leave the beach, the bamboo, the iguanas, and the palm trees. I would like it a lot better. But R and I did enjoy the trip to the Malecon, especially the view from the hotel.

We had an early night, and we left Mazatlan at 8:30 this morning.

Sonora was still in the throes of springtime when we came through in January, and we wanted a bit of summer, so we went south, but now we’re back in Sonora. It’s a little cooler here than it was in Mazatlan, but then we’ve gone inland and up some, to the high desert town of Alamos, and it’s late in the day. We arrived just at sunset. We aimed for an RV park called El Coracol, which is 38 kms from the main highway. When we got there, the gate was closed. There was a sign on it reading “Abierto” (open), and we could see one rig, way back on the property, but we decided the place looked pretty closed to us. So we pressed on to km 51, where Real de los Alamos was listed, only a couple of kilometers from town, an easy walk or cycle. According to our guidebook, there are some interesting things to see in Alamos. So. Here we are, tucked up in our site, ready to go out and watch the stars. We’re far enough from big cities here to have a good evening of stargazing. We have booked in for two nights, after which we’ll head for San Carlos.

When we crossed the border from Sinaloa to Sonora, I had a feeling like the one I get when we’re in England and we cross into Hampshire, or when we go into California, or across the Canadian border and into B.C. It felt like a homecoming. More and more, I’m glad we decided not to go all the way to the Yucatan.

In the morning, when the park office opens, I’ll ask whether there’s an internet café in town, and if so I’ll pack the laptop in there and post this – but I don’t hold out much hope.

February 13, 2007: We did eventually find the internet access in town, but by then it was really too late to do anything about it. This morning started out a little strangely. I got up, went to open the door, and noticed that there was a small car parked right in front of the RV. Just then, somebody said “How are you this morning?” “Well, at the moment I’m still asleep.” He wanted to sell us a tour of Alamos for $30 per person, and the tour was to start at 9:00 a.m. It was 8:20 at the time. He wouldn’t let me say no until he had gone through his whole spiel. Then I said no, and he went away. R and I had our coffee, enjoyed the desert air, did some reading, had breakfast, cycled into town. It was hardly any distance at all, but somehow, once we were there, we managed to lose our bearings and take the most interesting self-guided (heh) tour up and down winding cobbled streets, past lots of housefront shops, getting more and more confused. I bought some flour tortillas at one of those stores that has no door, just a teller’s window. Five minutes later, too late, I happened upon the tortilleria that sells hand-made flour tortillas. We were looking for the central market, the church, the museum. We found the incredibly crowded cemetery instead.

I took a couple of pictures there.

Eventually we found our way back to the main road and went wearily home. When we got there, our neighbours asked about our excursion, and we told them what had happened. Then we settled in for the afternoon. At 2 p.m. we decided to take a one-hour nap. At 2:35 I heard a voice outside the rig. A man said was anybody around, and he hoped he wasn’t disturbing us. Annoyed, I dragged myself back from a sound sleep and went to deal with whoever was trying to sell us something this time. It was the neighbour we had talked to. He had decided he would drive us into town and give us a guided tour. So, once we finished waking up, we hopped into Dick’s car and rode the four blocks or so to downtown, and he showed us which way to go to get to the market. First, though, he drove us up a cobbled road to the top of the mountain (El Mirador), from which we could see forever, or close to it.

We shared the view with a bus load of seniors from Arizona who were on a guided tour of their own. When we came down again, we stopped in at the church and town square so I could take a couple of photos, then went to the market to buy milk and fruit. It was at the town square beside the church that I discovered an internet café.

Unfortunately, my laptop was back at the rig. Dick drove us home. I considered putting the laptop in the pannier and cycling back to the town square,

but I didn’t want to risk that, given my penchant for falling off bicycles. My head may bounce well, but I doubt that the laptop would.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Here are a couple of our buddies, or so we like to think of them. Actually, they're our masters. We exist only to keep their supply of orange juice flowing, but they're so lovely, we don't really mind.

Yesterday was fairly uneventful, except for the cocktail party, and even that wasn’t all that much of an event. One of the local restaurateurs, another friend of Alfredo’s, comes to the park once a year and throws a party to attract customers to his restaurant. One of the neighbours mentioned it to us, so we wandered over. It was held in and around the outdoor room where I had my chat with Luis a few nights ago. They served calamari, mahi-mahi, nachos. Margaritas were dispensed from a pony keg. A trio of musicians played things like Cielito Lindo. A few people danced. Everybody else sat around eating, drinking, chatting, listening to the music. I re-affirmed my total ineptitude at sitting around and chatting with total strangers. After a couple of calamari and a little cube of mahi-mahi, I excused myself and went for a walk, my second stroll of the day out to the end of the beach. When I got there, I found a group of local kids who had parked their jeep by the water’s edge and were lounging on the rocks, listening to reggae. I sat on a rock of my own, watched the water, and enjoyed this little concert without the need for small talk, then walked back to join R for the sunset watch. He had gone. So had everybody else. I watched the sunset, then walked back to the RV. A man passed me, said “Full house tonight.” “Yes,” I said, thinking he meant the party that was. He meant my house. I found R sitting on the patio with four people he had brought back from the party, telling them all about narrowboating in England. They were all poring over maps and photos. We may see some familiar faces when we’re on the canal this autumn.

Friday, February 09, 2007

We had our mystery tour yesterday. Our first stop was at the village Ian had heard about and wanted to explore. El Quelite turned out to be a beautiful little town.

A few years ago their town council decided that in order to attract tourists they should clean up the streets and paint all the houses.
The result is very impressive. It is also a little sad. If only all Mexican towns would develop this kind of civic pride. We visited the town square, admired its bandstand, wrought iron benches, stone fountain. Then we strolled the main street, which has raised, covered sidewalks. We stopped to enjoy coffee and muffins at a café that was just a table set up on the sidewalk outside a private home.

Most of the businesses in El Quelite are house-front operations. I recognized the village laundry by the smell of bleach and the fact that I saw a couple of laundry tubs outside. On the suggestion of one of the locals, we had wandered down a side street for a glimpse of the back gardens. People seemed very pleased to see us and eager to show off their charming homes.

We could see a bell tower way up on a hill outside town, so we decided to climb up there for a bird´s eye view. After taking pictures of the town and surrounding countryside, I discovered that the tiny building adjacent to the bell was a shrine.

The local graffiti artists have been at work in the “fingerprints in candle soot” medium, and they mostly write petitions. I didn’t take a picture of the little Virgin of Guadalupe shrine on the side wall, but I should have. People have crammed their business cards and driver’s licenses into the front of the alcove. It detracts from the photogenic quality, but I guess it helps the Virgin to remember all those names. Or maybe there’s a monthly draw. First prize would be lunch at El Meson de los Laureanos . Second prize would be two lunches at El Meson de los Laureanos.

Which is by way of a segue into the story of our visit to that establishment. As we strolled through the town, we came across a very charming restaurant, and we made a note to come back later for lunch. After our climb to the bell tower, we descended the hill and walked back to the restaurant. It really is a beautiful place. The owner has been at pains to create a cozy ambience. A weaver bird’s nest
hangs from one of the trees, and iguanas mate noisily overhead, dislodging leaves, which then rain down on the heads of the diners (I imagine that’s a seasonal treat). We found a table on the patio and settled in. A very pleasant waitress took our orders - beer for the guys and Mysterious Fruit Juice Drink Containing Hibiscus Flowers for me. Appetizers began appearing on the table – tostadas, salsa, pico de gallo, and then the waitress returned with our menus. We opened them to find that there was absolutely nothing that appealed to any of us. We could see dishes arriving at other tables, and everything appeared to be very heavy. Beef and pork, mostly, tripe. It was still early in the day, and we had had a muffin not all that long before. It was a small muffin, but nevertheless none of us felt up to eating a heavy meal. When the waitress arrived with our drinks, we explained to her that we weren’t going to be ordering dinner. I told her that I would have liked something light – involving maybe fish or chicken. She disappeared.

Another dish materialized, little pancake-like things, sizzling hot and greasy, proffered by what proved to be the owner of the restaurant. Mexican pizza, he said it was, free appetizer before our meals arrived. Cheese and pork fat and salsa. Ah, we said, we’re sorry, but we aren’t going to have dinner. It's a bit early for us to have our main meal. Never mind, he said, I won’t charge you – but.

Whereupon he launched into a loud and overtly hostile speech about how we were in Mexico, not in our own country, and we couldn’t expect to just wander into a restaurant and get a hamburger or something, because the whole idea of traveling is to experience new things and if we didn’t want to experience new things then we should just stay home.

This, by the way, is the short version.

Midway through the tirade, our waitress arrived to tell me that she could get me a chicken quesadilla – which would have been absolutely fine by me, and Ian would have liked one as well – but by that time, it was all I could do not to throw my chair at the proprietor. I said no, thank you, but we wouldn’t be eating, and “La cuenta, por favor.” She looked surprised, but went off to get our bill. When she came back I mustered all the Spanish I could manage, and some that I couldn’t, to tell her that I was sure that the food was fine, and she was a lovely lady who had treated us very well, and none of this was her fault, but her boss was an extremely disagreeable man who had shouted at us and made us lose all interest in eating there. We paid the drink bill, left her a sizeable tip and walked out.

All this was a shame, because it tended to overshadow the pleasure that the town had given us. I’m glad I had taken a lot of pictures.
I can look at them and remember that every village has an idiot, and we just happened to find El Quelite’s.

After that adventure, we headed farther north, to La Cruz, in search of a couple of RV parks R had heard about. He wanted to check them out for later reference. We didn’t find them. Unfortunately, we didn’t have our Camping in Mexico book with us. There was something about “turn left and go ten miles on a dirt road” that R had missed on first reading, which is one reason why we didn’t find the camps. The other reason is that the map we were using showed the toll road east of La Cruz, when in fact it is west of La Cruz, so we suffered from extreme bafflement. Of course, if we had known about the dirt road, we would never have gone looking for the parks to start with. We did, however, have a lovely day’s ride. Ian drove the whole way – quite a treat for us.

Home. Tea. Sunset. That was yesterday.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

It's 9:05 in the morning. I wrote some stuff last night, to be posted in a hurry this morning. I've got to go down to the RV now and wait for our ride.

LOL – I simply have to record this now, while it’s fresh in my head. It’s five minutes to three in the afternoon of February 7. An hour ago, I packed up my laptop and walked down the little hill to come home, having caught up – finally – on reading my discussion boards. I had trouble getting here, as what appeared to be a caravan of oversized RVs had pulled in, and one of them was attempting to squeeze into the spot two down from ours. I managed to sidle around that one, and he finished his inbacking pretty quickly. Then the driver of the 5th wheel who wanted to get in across from us and down one spot started backing and turning, backing and turning. I said to a woman standing nearby that watching that sort of operation made me realize just how perfectly satisfactory a 24’ motor home is. She turned out to be the wife of the man trying to back the 5th wheel in. :>/ Anyway, I came into the Turtle, said good-bye to R, who then left to go surfing (the kind that involves water), and took up my Laundry Watch. I made coffee and went outside to sit in a lounge chair and drink it. I drank it. I moved R’s bicycle out of harm’s way. I poured a second cup of coffee and drank that too. Then I spent a while watching the 5th wheel back and turn, back and turn, and watching all the men within visual range putting their various two-cents worths in. I read my book. Finally, just before I came in and turned on the laptop to make this report, it seemed that my new neighbours had finally got themselves sorted. No, not quite, it seems. Oh, yes – the engine just stopped. There. One hour and ten minutes. I said to the lady of the house that I certainly hoped they were staying for a while, because if all this were in aid of a one-night stand, she must be ready to scream. Yes, they’ll be here for a while, as will their friends that backed in as I arrived, and the friends who have moved in next door to us (where the Dutch couple was, then the California couple - both VW van campers). This one is a Class A about 35 feet long. Its passenger-side wheels sit right on top of the patio. R just came back from his beach adventure. Tony still has not brought my clothes back.

I remain,

Naked in Mazatlan.

Still Feb. 7, but much later:

Hallelujah! He arrived – well, not Tony himself, but one of his minions, at 4:30 this afternoon. We now have stacks of clean, fragrant, perfectly folded laundry. It cost more than a Laundromat would, were there such a thing as a Laundromat in Mazatlan, but I feel as if I got a bargain at 110 pesos ($11ish). All I had to do was fret about getting my laundry back.

An hour or so later, there was a knock at the door. It was one of the men from the park. Had we sent laundry out? Yes. Had it been returned? Yes. Was it ours? Well, yes. That’s good, he said. We got somebody else’s laundry instead of our own. Oh, dear. I gave him the slip of paper that had come with ours, as it had the laundry’s address on it. Poor man went off, knocking on all the doors in the park, apparently, in search of his clothes. Half an hour after that, there was another knock. This time it was the man’s wife, duplicating his efforts. After that, I abandoned ship, went to watch the sunset, only to find that it had been canceled. The cloud cover was so heavy, the sun wasn’t visible, except where it reflected off clouds off to the north and south – second-hand sunset.

I’m going to post this as soon as my internet time starts in the morning (9 a.m.). Our friend is to pick us up at 9 a.m. – of course – to take us on our mystery tour. Ian has heard wonderful things about this little mining town.

“Where is it?” “ Fifty kilometres north of here.”

“What is it called?” “I can’t remember. It starts with an E.”

“Like El Dorado?” “No. One of those names you can’t pronounce.”

“Okay. Have a look at the map.”

“It’s not there.”

“Okay. Have a look at our other map.”

“No. It’s not there. It’s on my map.”

I did say it was a mystery tour.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Aack! As I was closing up yesterday, I heard another ruckus in the shrubbery, and out came Snickers, my provider's dog, with an iguana dangling from her mouth. She put it on the ground and it didn't move. I shooed Snickers away and watched for a few minutes, but there was no sign of life from the iguana, so I gave up. I don't know whether she killed it or whether it fell out of the tree and was killed by the fall. Whatever. Snickers ate well yesterday.

I didn't take the camera with me to the sunset last night, and I regretted it. There weren't clouds to produce the spectacular display of a few nights ago, but there was a haze that covered every bit of the sky and made the sunset colour spread evenly across the horizon. It was altogether different from any sunset I'd seen here. By the way, one of the neighbours told me that the "green flash" I've been hearing about, that occurs sometimes just as the sun is disappearing, is not an atmospheric phenomenon at all, but something that occurs within the eye itself. He says some people never experience it, others see it all the time. Is that true?

I had an e-mail this morning from our friend Andy, who says he and his wife, April, will be in Puerto Vallarta next week. If that's the case, we may amend our itinerary. We are only 400 kilometres from there. What an exciting development!

I've spent most of the morning hanging around the RV, waiting for Tony to show with the laundry. It's nearly noon, and he hasn't. He was supposed to be here between 9 and 10 o'clock. I've decided that Tony has a fetish for the large, worn, and shapeless garments of sixty-ish Canadian women, and I will never see my clothes again. I'll have to do the rest of this trip on one pair of shorts, one bathing suit, two athletic t-shirts, and some underwear. At least I have underwear. ;>)

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Oh, that's better. I just uploaded a photo of Pete the Iguana to the body of the blog, with no trouble at all. I think the problems I was having the other day had nothing to do with my failing mind. Rather, I was Experiencing Technical Difficulties. That's good.

My trip to the fish market today turned out to be a trip to the meat market, which was open this time. More Technical Difficulties, I guess, in my communication with Ian. I decided to just go with the flow. While I was off gallivanting, R went for a swim, complete with fins and body board. My husband, the surfer! I got back and told him I had brought him pork chops for dinner, which he found very confusing, what with thinking I'd been at the fish market.

I also bought half a kilo of corn tortillas from a tortilleria I noticed on the way home. There was one right by the meat market, and I tried to buy flour tortillas there, but they only made corn. When I got to the second place and they didn't make flour tortillas either, I got the drift. I bought corn. When in Rome. Yesterday I bought a cunning little quilted affair like an oversized round pot holder. It's two pieces hemmed together around 2/3 of the circle. You tuck your freshly warmed tortillas into the pocket and it keeps them warm all through dinner. Very clever. Now I have warm tortillas to go with the splendid beans I've taken to making. I'm getting to be an expert. I soak a couple of handfuls of white beans. Meanwhile I put a couple of dried Ancho peppers in water, bring it to a boil, simmer it for a few minutes, remove the peppers, pour the liquid in with the beans, then scrape the pulp off the pepper skin and throw that (the pulp) in too. I add diced onion, garlic, a vegetable boullion cube, diced Poblano pepper, and when the beans are tender I mash some of them to thicken the stew. Perfect.

Anyway, after this morning's expedition we all had coffee and made plans for Thursday. Ian has heard about a lovely little village about 50 kms north of Mazatlan. It's a silver mining town, and we are invited to go explore it with him. I'll be sure to take the camera. So if I'm not around on Thursday, that's why. We're planning to leave about 9 o'clock in the morning. Tomorrow I won't be going anywhere, at least until after Tony brings me my clothes.

February 5, 2007

Yesterday was the first day since we’ve been here in Mazatlan that I managed to Skype. My Texas sister happened to be at her computer while I was posting, so we talked for a long time. I was talking to her and watching the iguanas at the same time. They really were very entertaining yesterday, skittering up and down the trees. It seems to be breeding season. Pete, the big male, is displaying his bright orange wattles at every opportunity, strutting his stuff for the ladies.

This morning we went for a walk on the beach, and I ended up swimming – well, playing in the water – for a few minutes. It was great. As I walked back to the RV, it occurred to me that our holiday is about a third gone, and that I should appreciate certain things, particularly that this day is mine. Every moment of it is mine, to do with as I will. I have no obligations. R may ask me to go bike riding with him, and I probably will, but I don’t have to. If I would rather sit and read a book or go for a walk or play on the internet, I am perfectly free to do so. What a lucky lady.

It didn’t turn out quite that way, of course. Ian dropped by on his way to the supermarket, and we can’t pass up the opportunity to go to the supermarket when Mazatlan’s version of the veggie truck man charges the equivalent of 30 cents an egg. (In Kino I would pay 10 cents). So off we went, and by the time we got back, it was too late for me to post to my journal, so I’m typing the post into my laptop, to be sent off tomorrow morning. Early. Before my day can get away from me.

Now it's February 6. I took a picture of myself blogging, with palm trees sort of in the background, in response to popular demand, and this time I figured out how to upload it. It's not a great picture, but it verifies my presence in the land of sunshine and iguanas.

It's a red letter day, today. Tony the laundry man came around, noticed my huge bag of laundry, and picked it up for me. I'm reduced to wearing my bathing suit as much as possible, nursing the last shirt and pair of shorts along. He will bring back our clothes tomorrow, he says. I understand he is very dependable - unlike certain airlines I've been reading about recently.

I also learned that my provider's name is Bodie. It's odd. I've been coming up here to post pretty well every day for over a week, and we've chatted quite a few times, but somehow names never came up. I got the information from a neighbour who dropped by this morning.

As I suspected, the day is going to get away from me. A trip to the fish market is in the offing. That's good. I can explain to Ian why the meat market was closed yesterday. Apparently it was Constitution Day. I'd have been looking for civic celebrations, if only I had known.

Time to make brunch now. Best wishes from Mazatlan.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Such a social day, yesterday. After our usual beach walk and strenuous afternoon of watching the orioles sipping at our makeshift bird feeder (half an orange), we cycled over to Ian’s for 4 o’clock tea. Ian had got out his Ivan Rebruff CDs to play for me. We all drank tea and chatted, and then he brought out some books about English villages, Stonehenge, and various other things British. While R and I were leafing through them, just about ready to come home, the topic of my first visit to Winchester Cathedral came up in conversation. I ended up telling Ian all about it, including the fact that I wept through the entire Evensong service, and that I then phoned my friend Karen in Canada to tell her what I had just done and ended up weeping all over the phone. As I told Ian the story, my eyes filled with tears again. Sheesh. It must be ten years since all that happened. I think it’s one of the signs of old age, this inability to hide one’s emotions. Not that I wasn’t always a crybaby, but I seem to be getting worse.

We had a throw-together dinner, entertained by some pretty loud music coming over the fence, then I decided I would head to the beach for a few minutes.

When I got as far as Alfredo’s place, there was a man sitting in the big outdoor salon, reading a book and drinking a beer. He turned out to be a local dentist named Luis, a friend of Alfredo’s. On his invitation, I sat down and we started to talk. We talked for about an hour, which is pretty remarkable in that Luis seems to know about three words of English. We talked about the beauty of the sound that the sea makes, about how lovely Alfredo’s park is, about the group next door. The government, it seems, carts people in from all over Mexico to spend holidays at this big “hotel”, for lack of a better word. They were the ones having the loud musical party, and it sounded like fun. We talked about how important music is to both of us.

All the while, Luis’s cell phone kept ringing. He kept taking it out and fiddling with it, putting it back in his pocket without actually answering it. He seemed to be trying to explain to me that the people calling didn’t want to talk to him at all, that they were looking for other people that live at his house. Or else he was telling me that it was some woman calling him, and that he didn’t want to talk to her because she had been ignoring him and he was annoyed with her. Or both. Whatever he was saying, I was only catching bits of it. I told him that his cell phone was just like mine, and he got all excited. Would I show him? Unsure what he wanted, I showed him how to check his messages. “No! No messages!” I scrolled to the call records. “ No! No records!” He was the picture of frustration. Finally, “How do I make it stop?” Aha! So I showed him how to turn his phone off and how to turn it back on again. That led to another conversation about the fact that he hadn’t seen a television until he was thirty, that this new technology was more than he could cope with, that he didn’t know how these young people figured it all out so easily.

Now you may get the idea from all this that the conversation was flowing fairly smoothly, a gracious exchange between strangers, a few rough spots where language got in the way, but no. The fact is, Luis was doing most of the talking, and I was struggling mightily to understand him, but most of what he said went past me like verbal gunfire. I hadn’t a clue. Periodically I would interrupt him in order to explain that. You must keep in mind, I said in my halting Spanish, that I’m only catching about one word in six. He would slap his forehead, roll his eyes, cross his hands over his heart, throw his arms out in an expansive gesture, and Zoom! Off he would go on another tangent, looking at me as if, all evidence to the contrary, I understood what he was saying. At one point I thought he said that his father died a year ago, but when I asked if that was it, he started to laugh and said, no, he died fifty-two years ago. Ah. He died when Luis was a year old.

At the end of an hour, I excused myself and walked wearily home. I must say, the visit was fun, but it was also chastening. I’m thinking of enrolling in a Mexican kindergarten, to learn the language from the ground up.

Oh my goodness. While I was reading through my post I heard a loud skittering sound from the tree a few feet to my left. I looked over, and there was Pete, the Really Big Iguana whose photograph I posted yesterday. He had slid down the trunk of the tree and was sitting on a low branch, huffing and puffing and shaking his bright orange wattle. I think he had lost his footing. He's gone back up to the top of the tree now.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

My attempt at uploading photos to the journal failed, so I´m just going to give you a link to my Yahoo photo album. Let´s just hope that works.

I took a bunch of pictures yesterday, for the first time on this trip. We have been using the camcorder to do film clips, but I really like the stills it takes. When we were north, the weather wasn´t good enough to inspire a lot of photography. I´ll take pictures of San Carlos, Bahia Kino, and probably Alamos on the way back, when with any luck it will be warm and sunny there.

It being Saturday, I´m hanging around for a few minutes, hoping that one of my Skype partners will give me a call. I´ve uploaded the photos with the assistance of my provider´s two kittens, Jose and Hose B, who are looking forward to careers in the word processing field. I´ve come to enjoy my daily visit very much. Snickers, the dog, is friendly, and the kittens are hilarious. Their man is also fun to talk to. R just wanders by on his bike from time to time, making sure I haven´t passed out from sunstroke.

We went for our beach walk this morning, and it was wild. The tide was very high, and the surf was warm and foamy. The waves were huge. There must have been a big storm somewhere, to cause that heavy a surf here. I found a 50 centavo piece half buried in the wet sand, a continuation of the good luck I had last night at Scrabble.

We are invited to Ian´s for tea at four o`clock today. Very civilized. Meanwhile, I have to figure out how to cook the chicken I bought yesterday without turning the whole rv into an oven. Such a problem . This is so weird. My laptop is typing in Spanish again. When I try to type a colon, for instance, I get Ñ. Ordinarily I can´t get Ñ to save my life. I have no idea how to type a question mark, so I can´t ask somebody to let me know whether the link I posted works or not, except like this. It´s a little frustrating, but also an exercise in creativity.

The kittens are biting my knees. I think I had better move.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Happy Groundhog Day, everybody. We don't seem to have any groundhogs around here, but I am trying to upload a couple of pictures I took of the local wildlife. For It some reason, I'm having trouble doing that. I'll keep trying. If you see a picture of an iguana appear, you'll know I succeeded.

Our friend Ian from the other park showed up a little while ago, saying he's about to go to the supermarket - so I'll tag along. We need tortillas and a couple of other things.

We walked down the beach today, toward downtown, to see what was going on with the parasailors. (Is that what you call it? Parasailing? Boat, tow line, parachute, tourist in harness?) It looked like fun. I wouldn't have wanted to be in the tow boat, though. I got queasy just looking at it. The hotel nearby had red flags out, warning of dangerous water conditions - though the water didn't look any more lively than usual to me. Maybe they always have their red flags out.

Yesterday, just as I was putting the computer away, an instant message screen popped up, and it turned out to be my niece in England trying to reach me. We had a great chat for about five minutes, and then I lost her. I had somebody talking to me, trying to keep up with two conversations at once. I probably pushed the wrong button. Sorry, Jayne - call again, okay? It was great to hear from you.

Then I went home and cooked white beans with ancho chile sauce, Mexican rice (like Spanish rice, but here), lobster and shrimp, salad (uncooked). Dinner was excellent.

Okay. Here I go again, going to try to put that photo in before I have to leave for the shopping centre.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

After finally watching the one movie we brought with us, I stayed up until 1:30 this morning, then got up at 7:30. It is now 1:20 in the afternoon. I’m sitting at home, composing this journal entry where I can sit comfortably. When I’m finished, I’ll carry the laptop up to the rig where my provider lives, prop it on the plastic case, and transfer everything into blogspot. First thing this morning, before I could get out for a walk, the veggie man came along, so I spent the next hour and a half washing fruits and vegetables, setting beans to soak, getting shrimp and lobster pieces out of the freezer for tonight’s dinner, chopping vegetables for pico de gallo, making breakfast, eating, washing dishes, gathering laundry in case the laundry man came along (he didn’t). Then R and I rode our bikes up to the end of this road, where the fish camp is. There are a couple of open-air restaurants there, and several people have set up tables in front to sell jewelry and so on to the tourists. I had a moment of what I thought was kismet.

Yesterday, you see, I spent a lot of time working on my mother’s biography, which is also the story of my childhood and that of my sisters. I was thinking of my paternal grandmother’s bedroom, remembering the little table by her window where she kept a rubber plant and a lovely, glossy brown and white speckled seashell about the size of an avocado. When I looked at the vendors’ tables, there were about two dozen of that very shell displayed on one of them. I asked the man at the table how much they cost. He said no, they weren’t for sale just like that. They were for making these – and he pointed at some shells near the front of the table, on each of which he had etched some godawful thing like “Souvenir of Mazatlan” or a dolphin or whatever. He was selling those for 50 pesos and up. Why would anybody do that to a perfectly good shell? Anyway, he wouldn’t sell me an unvandalized shell, so I went away empty-handed. So much for kismet. The experience wasn’t entirely without benefit, though, because it got me thinking about my grandmother and the shell. Where did she get it? Had she traveled? Assuming that those shells are really from these waters (and I know that’s a big assumption), does that mean that she traveled to Mexico, or did she just buy the shell at a shop? I only knew her as a widow of around seventy, and I don’t remember her talking about having traveled in her youth.

People were older then, do you notice? I don’t mean just that as we get older, people look younger to us. That is certainly the case. I mean that even now, when I see a picture of my maternal grandmother (none remain of the grandmother with the shell), she looks like an old lady, and I know that these pictures were taken when she was still quite young.

I am also here to tell you that as we get older, we all start looking alike – at least, that’s the case if my RV park experience is anything to go by. I’m thinking of buying a bunch of name tags – the kind you get at conventions – and passing them around whenever we arrive in a park. I only recognize people, the men in particular, by their RVs and their dogs. I think there are really only about three men, and they just keep changing hats and walking back and forth past me.

Anyway, after our cycle ride we went for a walk up to the rock at the top of Playa Bruja and back, and now I’m going to have a well-earned cup of tea before I go up the hill to post this. I think I’ll be having an early night tonight.

Blog Archive