The Vernal Equinox at La Chole

La Chole is a small community about 20 miles out of Zihuatanejo where an ongoing archaeological site is still being studied.  They have a pyramid, and a ball court and many artifacts from the Aztec era that can be seen in the small museum. As an event was

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Ceremony viewed from top of  pyramid

planned there I decided it would be an excellent location to experience the celebration of the first day of spring with some ancient history.

Six of us set out in the pre-dawn light to catch the bus to LaChole, well as close as the bus goes which is dropping you off in the middle of nowhere just off the highway where we planned to catch the local passajara.  But a car stopped and offered us a ride into the pyramid.  We cheerfully accepted. Saving us much hot waiting time. As we arrived at the pyramid the ceremonies had already started and they were bringing folks to the top of the pyramid in

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Local people performing regional dances

groups of 20. Once on top we were told of the significance of the different areas. As my friend Brenda is Mexican she could translate for us.  We were about the only gringos there. As we came down the pyramid there wre more ceremonies, with smudging and storytelling done with great pride and emotion.

We then moved on to the town for food drink and to watch traditional dancers. I could IMG_1888 (2)have had Iguana stew, but knowing it is illegal to kill Iguanas I opted not to.  The dancers performed regional dances from different eras. It was very colorful and beautiful to watch.  Brenda opted to be blessed

and energized in a smudging ceremony, and both she and I posed with the authentic headdresses of the Aztec dancers.  All in all it was a great day a wonderful way to celebrate spring. Signing off KO

 

 

Carnaval Zihuatanejo Style

IMG_1128Not to be confused with a “carnival” that has rides, or a Mardi Gras Carnival that takes place before Lent.  Which surprises me as this is a catholic country. While it has some similarities to a Mardi Gras carnival, it is scheduled at the whim of the local government and some years not scheduled to happen at all. It would be impossible to schedule a visit around “Carnival Time” because nobody seems to know if, or when it will happen. This year it was scheduled with the 3 day holiday weekend celebrating the birthday of Benito Juarez when town was full of visitors from the interior. .

The festivities began on Friday night with dancers performing on the stage that was set up in the basketball court in the town Zocolo, A Queen was crowned and a King of Ugly or Bad I’m not sure of the translation, all done with ear-splitting, loud and booming music and a IMG_1149short but magnificent fireworks display. The crowd was so dense it was difficult to walk through and it was impossible to get close enough to see the stage.  The back stage had a blinding,continuous, psychedelic laser light show playing.  Everything the Mexicans love in a fiesta was there, loud music, and colorful entertainment. I guess I am now part of the population that “if the music is too loud you are too old”. I’m old, the music was past being musical, it was just LOUD.

There were more festivities again Saturday night, I choose not to attend, but curled up with a good book and tuned up a movie. I learned later the volume of the music was greatly reduced. Must have been as we didn’t hear it at our apartment 3 blocks away..

Sunday was the big parade, a full 2 hours, of very large, creative floats, beautiful dancing-girls and handsome men, charming children, lots of local color, costumes and culture and yes loud music. It was a great parade. One of the best, most fun parades I have ever seen.  There was even parade participants offering spectators small samples of mescal. And of course the fiesta went on until the wee hours of the morning. You just got to love mexico.  Signing KO

We are in our count down phase

Guitar fest is an 8 day series of concerts of talented international Guitar players performed under the stars on the beach and in several local restaurants. The proceeds from these concerts go to purchase musical instruments and scholarships for the young aspiring Zihuatanejo artists. A very worthwhile cause. I only attended one of the beach concerts this year but truly enjoyed it. Following the concerts the musicians usually gather together at one of the local bars for a jam session which I always thought might be the best of the best.  But midnight is getting to be a little late for me these days.

As I sit on my balcony tonight surveying the street scene in Mexico, which is so much different than at home, I ruminate on the many differences. I don’t mean to imply criticism, just amazement.  Everyone rides in the back of pickup trucks, mamas hold their babies and toddlers in their arms in the front seat of vehicles, and car seats are not the norm.  Few people wear seat belts. 3-4 people on a motor bike or scooter is normal, few wear helmets.  Teenage girls hold hands with their friends and with their mamas.  Children play outside until 10 or 11 O’clock at night.  Parents walk their children to and from school, all school children wear school uniforms.  Not all children go to school. 6 people in a taxi is not too many.

I don’t know what all business is transpired in a bank, but the lines are very long and folks wait patiently.  Grocery stores have no concept of “nighttime stockers” it is all done in the daytime blocking aisles to the point you can’t get your cart down the aisle.   To stock the top shelves they just climb up the lower shelves. Eggs are not refrigerated in the stores. You can buy just about everything you need here, but maybe not your preferred brand. USA brands are more expensive, so buy local whenever possible.

Life here is different, slower more and more relaxed. Far less rules, regulations and efficiency.  But it all adds to the charm, according to me.  The senior is frequently frustrated by what he perceives as inefficiency and knows just how to fix it.  But this lack of efficiency keeps everyone working here.

At home when I shop I buy many fruits and vegetables frozen or canned.  Here I buy everything fresh.  Mostly because it is easier.  If I were to go to the grocery store, Mega Soriana and buy frozen items they would be un-thawed by the time I got them back to our apartment in a taxi, and canned good are heavy and have to be carried up a flight of stairs.  So I go to the “Mercado Publico”, just a couple of blocks away and buy fresh fruit and veggies and now I’m even buying much of our meat and fish there.

The Mercado is a cornucopia of sights and smells.  It is the way folks all over the globe have shopped since time began. I find it fascinating, other turn up there nose at it.  Signing off KO

Campamento Tortuguero Ayotcalli Turtle Rescue Center

 

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This who it is all about

The Senior and I had the opportunity to go to the Turtle rescue to help release some hatch-ling turtles and spend the night at the lovely Casa de Tortuga.  All this because I had the winning bid at a Sailfest auction .

I f you have never been there for a sunset turtle release,  go. Go now, go next year but by all means go. Turtle releases are done from August to March .

The volunteers do nightly turtle patrols the 15 Km of Playa Blanca and Playa Largo to locate the female turtles. Then they

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Turtle nests in incubation area

stay with her to protect her from predators and poachers while she lays her eggs and see that she gets safely back to sea to repeat this cycle again.  Next, they move the entire nest of eggs to their incubator area where the eggs are placed at the same depth they were found. Each nest is labeled as to type of turtle eggs and the approximate date expected to start hatching. During prime turtle season, they patrol the beach from 10 or 11 at night until dawn.  This is very important to locate and protect as many turtle nests as possible. The survival rate is only 1 in 1,000.

The night we were there, March 6th, we and about 20 others arrive at a little sheltered

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Standing at the line

class room area for an interesting educational presentation of the life cycle of the turtles, how the waters of Mexico are home to many varieties, and what the general public can do to help more turtles survive.  After a question and answer session, we adjourn to the beach and lined up behind a line drawn in the sand.  Just as the sun is setting, the volunteers place 2 hatch-lings in our bowl, then we are instructed to slide the turtles out of our bowls onto the sand and watch them head

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My two turtles, both were very fast

towards the ocean.  This an extremely important step, and a beautiful site to watch as they move over the sand memorizing this exact location. If she is female and if she

survives to 10-15 years of age, she will return to the very place we released her.  She will come ashore to lay her eggs and the cycle will continue.  If he is a male his sole mission in life other than survival is

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Run for the ocean at sunset

finding a female at the right time.

On this night about 200 hatch-lings were released, some were very quick as if they knew exactly what their mission was, others were slower and a couple didn’t quite know which direction to go, but eventually they all got to the ocean and we wished them success.

We went back to the classroom/store made our donations, bought souvenirs, happy in the knowledge we had done something to help. As this very worthwhile project is funded

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Our quarters for the night

strictly by donations.  We retired to our lovely quarters to relax and sleep as I need to be up at 5  to go on turtle patrol on the ATV.  As it is very late in the season for turtles to be laying, they are only doing one patrol a night, we did not see any turtles or nests.  Still  a pre dawn ATV beach ride on Playa Larga and Playa Blanca offered an exceptional view of a sky full of  stars, than I have seen in years, crabs skittering across the sand and few birds and a

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KO and the ATV

duck or two, a 30 mile round trip that had me back just after first light of day.  Quite the adventure!  One I plan to repeat next year during prime turtle season. Signing off KO

 

Valentines Day and The Street Fair On Calle Adelita

This should have poste on February 15, but for some reason didn’t.

In Zihuatanejo there is so much to celebrate.  Valentines Day is huge among the Mexican population. Temporary Bazaars are set up all along the main street hawking all sorts of IMG_1573of gifts. There are little booths with purses, shoes, lingerie and the more traditional gifts of flowers, sweets and stuffed animals and beautiful wrappings and boxes for the gifts. The restaurants are full that evening, we went out that night with 2 other couples and while enjoying an after dinner we were serenaded by a wandering mariachi band.

The next day was the annual street fair on Calle Adelita, a street well-known for its many IMG_1598little restaurants and Boutique Hotels. This fair is a fund-raiser for the local Bomberos, which translates to: firefighters, EMT personnel and crocodile wranglers when one encroaches into areas where they could become a danger to folks.  Twice over the years I have watched the Bomberos, rope, wrangle and tie up a croc then transport him to a preserve.  This year they were raising money for a defibrillator, a worthy cause. Food and drink was available, as was a silent auction and a 50/50 raffle. Couple of different

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This pair of cuties were some of the dancers

bands played and groups of Mexican dancers performed. Always a fun evening and I bid and won a certificate for a “Tres Leches Cake” which is quite appropriate as my birthday is later this week

I have been attending Spanish classes twice a week and really working at it. I’m not going to be “bi-lingual” but I certainly have improved my confidence in attempting to speak with shop keeper and such, can read menus, signs.  My ability to read it is far superior to my speaking ability.  I’m not finding it easy, but quite a challenge.  I think when I’m back home I will once again audit a basic Spanish Class at our local college just to keep my skills up. Not so much to progress but to keep from regressing. Signing off KO

COMPUTER WOES, SPANISH CLASSES AND SOME MEXICAN CULTURE

I’ve had lot of difficulty with my “blog” program.  I will write several paragraphs and suddenly it all disappears except for the last two characters I’ve typed and at that moment the program will do an auto save.  It should be doing it every few minutes, but it isn’t.  So then I get to start all over again.  I dislike rewriting intensely, I enjoy editing but not a complete rewrite. The result is I don’t rewrite, but get a glass of wine and my book which never fails to please. This has greatly slowed down the blogging.  I did discover a couple of blogs that should have posted and didn’t. Why I do not have a clue.  So from now on I will write in “word” copy and paste on to word press to place the pictures that way I should not loose text.

My “Classe de Espanol” is getting difficult.  We are into past tense of verbs and spanish sentences are constructed differently than English with verbs and pronouns located differently depending on if it is a question or not.  Lots of rules of order plus an ever increasing vocabulary to learn.  It’s tough teaching old dogs!

One of the things I especially enjoy about Mexico is the sounds of the street vendors. Our water is delivered by a young man who honks the horn and calls out “agua keen” and we wave at him throw down our key for him to carry up a garafon of drinking water.. The ice cream vendors use a bicycle bell to announce their arrival, the knife sharpener blows a tin whistle, but many just call out their wares by name in sing song fashion. I hear “cocooooo” from the coconut man and ” bo yeee yo” from the man that delivers our bollio rolls. The Senior thought my idea a little wacky at first but has come to embrace and use it. I have a string bag on a rope with a little baggie for the coins and as he come by I call out to him, drop down the bag from our 2nd story back porch and tell him how many I need. He fills my bag takes the change and I reel up fresh warm bollios. Works great, saves time!

We have frequently bought silver jewelry from our favorite beach vendor and this year while sipping mango margaritas at a favorite restaurant along the water front I purchased several more gifts to bring home from other strolling vendors.  I think is the very best way to shop; let the stores come to you.  Signing off KO

STREET FAIR & MI CUMPLEANOS (my birthday)

 

It was a birthday to remember, one of those absolutely perfect days. After my Spanish

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Coconut ice cream cone

class I hopped on the bus to Bara De Potossi, a neighboring village that was having their annual street fair. About a 20 minute ride and then you get off the bus and climb aboard the “passajera” a lovely spanish word meaning  pick up truck with bench seats in the back. All my connections were seamless and I never had to wait at all. But the best part was the ice cream man was loading his steel tub full of ice cream on the passajera to sell at the fair. The ice cream that comes out of these tubs is the most flavorful ice cream in the world.  And I’m sure it is truly home-made and no chemicals. So I had my cone to enjoy on the trip to the fair. The fair is a couple of blocks long, of hand-made Mexican arts, crafts, food and drink.  I made a couple of purchases and headed back to Zihuatanejo.

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Mexican Bloody Mary’s to go

The Senor picked up the tres leches cake from our auction bid and deliver it to Sr. Pintos restaurant. We had invited friends to join us there to help me celebrate 3/4’s  of a century on this planet. We had requested that 4 bottles of wine and 4 blooming onions be on the table at 7, they came but “on Mexican time”. Considering we were a large group and they had other patrons they did a great job of getting everyone’s food to them in a timely fashion. Their menu is extensive, my food was great, all almost all my local friends were there. Other than 2 extra bottles of wine on our bill it was an absolutely perfect day. I plan on having many, many more just like that.  Signing off KO