LIFE IS NOT ALL A BEACH, BUT GREAT WHEN YOU GET IT

 

We come to Zihuatanejo for the warm weather, but the beach is a great bonus. We are not true beach people, we don’t go to lay in the sun to bake and marinate and work on

IMG_1615
Resort of Puerto Parisio 

our tans. We do enjoy the beach, but don’t go every day even though it is only a block away.  And you ask why?  It’s because we live here 5 months of the year vs vacationing. Much of our time here is spent on the daily tasks of just living, cooking, laundry, errands and Spanish classes .  I will admit we do have plenty of personal time to enjoy, The senor with his TV and I am on my 13th book this season, Larry Mc Murty’s Comanche Moon.  Not usually a fan of westerns, but a big fan of Mc Murtry.

IMG_1618
Puerto Parisio Beahfron

Earlier this week was the Sailfest Volunteers Appreciation party held at a remote beach resort, Puerto Parisio on Playa Larga. Quite secluded and right on the beach where about 75 of us spent a fantastic afternoon eating and drinking the goodies we brought to share and enjoying the pool.

I’m  not sure if it is quicker to errands here or at home. But is definitely less expensive. I My computer wouldn’t  turn on. 50 pesos ($2.60) and 20 minutes of time it was fixed. Next on to the bakery to order my birthday cake.  I had the winning bid on a cake from an  earlier auction.

IMG_1644
the beach at its best! A good book, mango margarita, sun, san!d and sea

My last errand took me to the beach to reserve a kayak for Sunday and while there I went swimming.  Pretty good planing on my part. It did take the better part of an afternoon. But no fossil fuel was expended, I got to swim and logged 3.80 miles on my fitbit. A productive but enjoyable day.  Signing off  KO

 

Sailfest a Busy and Fun Time

 

Sailfest is a week of fun events that raise money to provide school classrooms and other educational needs for the poorest children of Zihuatanejo. During the week there are daily opportunities for sunset sailboat cruises, a sailboat regatta/race, chili cook off, concerts, dances, dinners with mariachi bands, auctions both live and silent and opportunities to purchase T-shirts, hats, cook books, raffle tickets,

51329006_1971266506324247_7986157731729899520_n (1)tequila
The Senor accepting a bottle of Big Boy tequila won on a raffle ticket at M Dock concert

and other souvenirs. It originated with a few of the cruisers (boat folks) who wanted to help and brought down educational supplies and has morphed into a wonderful week with 20 plus yachts and sailboats participating along with over a hundred non-sailing volunteers.  One of the amazing facts about this non-profit organization is that there are no paid administrators or other staff, the only paid staff is the required accountant.

IMG_1512
silent auction

Since I am part of this community for several months I do participate, not only by attending events, but also by manning the sales desk for several shifts. It has been a wonderful way to meet people to make new friends and really feel a part of the community.  Besides it’s just a whole lot of fun.  But more importantly is the benefit to the children.  Many of which have previously been attending schools in sheds

IMG_1503
chili cook off

reminiscent of  a chicken coop now will have a modern classroom with running water for bathrooms and kitchens which can prepare lunches for hungry children. Over 2 million pesos were raised during this week.  Signing off KO

SAILING ON THE PATRICIA BELLE

One of the most fun parts of Sailfest is the Sail Parade where for 300 pesos (less than $15) you can spend a day on a sailing on a sail boat.  The the best thing is all that money goes to build and improve schools for  the poorest children in Mexico, and there are no paid administrators to siphon off the funds.

Faye holding the sign to assemble our group
Faye holding the sign to assemble our group

This morning around 300 people lined the pier waiting for the pangas to take them out to the various boats they has signed up to spend the day on. My companion Faye and I decided we wanted to do the Patricia Belle again because she is such a FUN boat. The Patricia Belle is very large, some 60 feet of deck space and 30 of us enjoyed the captain and the crew’s hospitality. This boat was built some 20 years ago about 10 miles from where I live. Built of timber logged off the captains property behind the Bear Creek Store on the old Belfair Highway in Washington state.

We led the sail parade around Zihuatanejo bay and then out past Ixtapa, paid our respects to the Port Captain then sailed off to do some middle of the ocean swimming. About two thirds of the passengers and all of the crew jumped or dove overboard and swam along side the boat as she gentled sailed on, and I do mean gently as there was almost no wind at all. There are lines over the side that you can hold on to if you aren’t comfortable swimming away from the boat.

Faye and me on the pier after a day of sailing and swimming
Faye and me on the pier after a day of sailing and swimming

We had packed picnic lunches complete with salmon, cheese, capers, olives, crackers, jicama and of course wine  It’s just a fantastic way to spend and afternoon sailing, eating, drinking and swimming in the ocean where the water temperature is about 82 degrees and meeting so many new friends.  Signing off KO

SAIL FEST: concert, chill cook off, auctions

img_0151
M- Dock Band name came from the dock where their boats were parked

Wednesday night was concert with M-Dock, a Michigan based band that we have heard many times over the last few years. While we have always enjoyed the concert the venue was only so so. Food not very good and service extremely slow as probably a couple of hundred people show up. This year the venue was excellent at the Casa de Cultura but the food that a vendor was to provide was MIA and Sail fest was doing the bar and unfortunately it was running out of supplies by 9:00

img_0150
Dancing to M-Dock

pm. But by that time with no

dinner and we had been enjoying wine and beer since 6:30 and even though we were dancing, it was time to leave and get food. Next year they will have the bugs worked out.

Thursday was much looked forward to chili cook off and silent auction. They had a live auction Tuesday evening, but it is a little too rich for our blood so we skip that event.

The Senor danced to much at the concert and was nursing aches and (he hasn’t moved that much and that quickly in the last year) said he wasn’t up to going out and handed me a fist of money and said enjoy the silent auction. So I did!

img_0003
Friends Paul and Faye at Chili cook off and silent auction

I managed to get 6 dinners and one breakfast and a 2 hour ocean kayak adventure for me.   Had 2 mango margaritas, and with the tip went back to the apartment without a single peso, but happy. This guarantees the Senor will take me out to dinner at some new and interesting places and the money goes to a great cause, the poor children of Zihuatanejo.

As the Senor was feeling a bit better today we headed out to Playa Las Gatas. In a drawing I won tickets for the water

img_0004
Me hiding under one of my many sun hats at the auction, note my nails match my ring and my straw.
img_20170210_094647
Playa Las Gatas, wonderful as always.  Signing off KO

taxi so we took advantage of them today. As always we go to Gloria en Mar and visit with Jose our favorite waiter and friend. I tried the go pr again to catch some under water life, but it is a complicated camera for a non techie like me. But as always the beach and the swimming was wonderful, we ate a different type of fish today, good, but not a favorite.

A VISIT TO A MEXICAN HIGH SCHOOL

The money eared from last years Sailfest went to building a high school. The first new high school in over 20 years and this one targets kids who dropped out of school for a myriad of reasons, most commonly financial. They needed to go to work to help support their family, sometimes drugs or pregnancy are the issues. I would equate this somewhat with our  “alternative” schools except that these students already know what life is like with out an education and are now highly motivated to continue their education. They come from very poor families, but are all promising students and this school is free. An unbelievable opportunity for them. Many poor children here little or no schooling past their 12th birthday when they start helping earn an income for the family.

img_0327
The high school

The road to the school high on a hill overlooking Zihuatanejo is probably the worst road I have ever ridden on. Steep, switchbacks and only roughly graded.  Many rocks, pot holes Truly only a road fit for ATV’s and we took a 15 passenger van up to it. The kids come by combi (small van type bus) to the bottom of the hill and walk the rest of the way looking sharp in

img_0341
Young girl narrated program in very good english

 

their school uniforms. A nice breeze blows up on the hill negating any need for air conditioning except in their computer lab. 6 classrooms, 14 teacher and 130 kids who like to try their English with you as do their teachers.

There studies are heavy on math and science with ethics and economics also taught. Art, music, dance and sports are relegated to after school clubs which are all a large part of their

img_0336
Dancers

culture.  The students performed several regional dance routines and performed a tragic play of some of the problems of today dealing with guns and violence.  While it was done in Spanish we all got the gist of it. The “leading lady” played her role with such emotion that I would not be surprised to see her on “the silver screen” someday.

Our second stop was to visit a tutorial school,

img_0339
Dance with machetes

where children come from their regular schools and get additional help, or study time or simple spend time better occupied than “hanging around”.  The primary kids attend in the morning where the big draw is food.  They get both  breakfast and lunch and  for many kids these are their only meals.

They have a wonderful teacher who loves what she is doing and loves doing it in Zihuatanejo. signing off KO

Sailfest 2017 Begins

Sailfest officially began last night with the street dance at Casa Arcadia. We arrived at a little after 7 and the place was packed. Luckily our friends and neighbors had secured a table and I went around and found a couple of extra chairs and joined them. The band was Expressions Inmune  a group of young Mexican kids that specialize in Beetles and Creedence Clearwater type music . They got their start practicing in the street in front of the keyboardist’s mother’s art gallery. Which happened to be directly under our balcony. They would draw  huge crowds to the street to listen to them practice twice a week.Folks both Mexican and gringos would be dancing in the street to their music.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The band when they first were practicing under our balcony

That year Sailfest hired them for their first professional gig and you could say the rest is history.  They now are professional musicians playing regularly 3 times a week at the Baracruda Bar.

Casa Arcadia was packed, but true to Mexican style, no additional staff was put on. I wonder if that is so the regular staff can maximize on tips from a larger crowd. But I always think with more staff and faster service tips would be bigger and less hassle for the staff. Oh well it’s Mexico.

We enjoyed the music and took up an offer to have our portraits drawn for a Sailfest donation. Not bad and I felt he was kind to our age.

img_0138
The Senor having his portrait drawn

Afterwards we went to Don Memos for dinner, one of the best spots for good food and very reasonable. We ran into friends Jim and Linda and took up there offer for us to join them. Doyle had his favorite spaghetti and my preference is always the fish, this time in a white wine sauce. A short walk back and we were home. Just another great evening in paradise.

img_0323
the finished product

Signing off KO

MANNING THE SAILFEST DESK

This is the second year I have volunteered to help with Sailfest. The Senor and I have always been big participants, with one or both of us attending almost all of the events. But I believe since we are here for 3 months I can donate some of my time to this very worthy cause. Among scholarships and other necessities, last year’s Sailfest raised enough money to build the first new high school Zihuatanejo has seen in 20 years.  It is complete with a computer lab. This is in conjunction with donated supplies, labor, etc.making the local people personally invested.

Somehow Faye and I seem to have picked a couple of the busiest days to work the desk selling T-shirts, caps, boat flags, koozies and sail boat rides. It gets crazy trying to keep up, but it’s a wonderful opportunity to meet folks from all over. And very proudly each of our 3 shifts have taken in close to, or like yesterday, the equivalent of  $1,000 US  in pesos. But now it’s time to get back to some serious relaxing so with a group of friends we are headed once again to Escollera and it’s beautiful infinity pool.

Still no internet, going to stop by the office with my phone translator and see when I might expect it. This should be interesting. Signing off KO

Bits and Pieces

As I sort through my pictures I am reminded of the many interesting things I see here. Some things are very much the same as home and other wildly different. The Mexican people want to please, want to make you happy.  Which sometimes leads to great misinformation. If you were to say ” the bus comes here frequently ?” They would agree with you, “Oh yes frequently” even if it only comes occasionally.  Because they answer with what they think you want to hear.  So you have to be careful how you phrase your questions.

“Gringos” are frequently frustrated by what we consider slow service in restaurants, but we forget that food here is cooked from scratch and slow cooking is usually it’s own reward.  They won’t give you your bill until you ask, to give it to you as soon as you are finished would be considered rude, and you could sit for hours after the conclusion of a meal visiting with friends and “no problema.”

Last week at Playa Larga the restaurant dealt with a crowd of 16- 20 of us, mostly single individuals in the most efficient fashion I have ever seen.  They gave each one of us a blank bill (in triplicate), we were to write our name on the top and write our meal order in the center and our bar choice at the bottom.  When it came time to request our meal they took the top copy and we continued to tally our bar orders. At the end of the day it was very easy for all to reconcile our bills.   I always give my name as Catalina, Spanish for Kathleen or Katherine, and they do have trouble with Doyle, absolutly can’t wrap their tongue around that one. Last week my new acquaintance, Heather, gave her name to the breakfast  waitress  as”Esmerelda” but come lunch time at a different location she said “Lolita”.  Simply stated she said “they can’t pronounce Heather, so I can be who ever I want to be.” Love the attitude! Puts me in mind of the old play The Importance of Being Ernest”.

There are not a lot of beggars here but those that do and  are almost always infirm, missing an arm or a leg or blind. No young, able bodied folks with signs saying “down on my luck”. The Mexican people are generous with the folks that have a need and drop a few coins regularly. Signing off with hope for new improved internet manana KO.

 

AS SAILFEST BEGINS

Sailfest is an annual week long event during the first week of February that raises funds to build schools and give educational opportunities for  Zihuatanejo’s poorest children.It originated about 12 years ago by the cruisers, those folks who arrive here and may winter here on sailboats. It does a tremendous amount of good for the community and provides some great fun and opportunities. There are tours of the schools, dances concerts, opportunities to crew in a sailboat race or another day to just go out and cruise about the bay and out to Ixtapa.

Friday was my first day of manning the sales desk.  I teamed up with my friend Faye.and we sold T-shirts, caps koozies and event tickets. Since this was only the 2nd day of sales and Sailfest is still a week away I didn’t think it would be too busy. Boy was I wrong! But it was fun and you get to meet a lot of great, interesting people from all over the globe.

After our shift we went down the beach to the next restaurant and had lunch and mango margaritas waiting to hear from our husbands about their day of deep sea fishing.  They had a good time, but no fish. So we met up with them at Zorrito’s . Then my friend Lori from about 4 years ago in Zihuatanejo called and wanted to meet up. They were at the Flophouse about a block away , went down there and met up with them and friends of theirs and we all returned to Zorrito’s and had this great picture taken. But my internet won’t go in until Monday so I probably can’t add it. Followed by dinner at La Vita Bella, a great restaurant but a little on the pricey side for us. Signing off KO    PS Hope pictures soon, maybe Monday

Stranded by the side of the road!

I woke up yesterday morning feeling just a little queasy and no energy at all. So I laid in bed and read my book until it was time to get ready to go to the Sailfest volunteers Party at Las Palamas. I had looked forward to going to this event being held at a big beautiful new hotel and beach club on Playa Blanca. I was sure I would feel just fine once I got going. I prepared the tapas I’d been asked to bring and loaded up my chilled box of wine and  headed out to catch the bus to the airport, then transfer to a taxi to Playa Blanca. I caught the very first bus that said “Aeropuerto”only to discover it turning off just prior to the Airport. We traveled through several small villages and finally drove 3-4 blocks through a village with only dirt roads where the driver honked his horn the whole way through alerting residents of his arrival and 4 more folks hopped on. one of the ladies asked where I was going and I said areopuerto and she said no and said something to the driver.  I did pick up the word “regresso” and I assumed I would have to ride back into town and catch a different bus that actually went to the areopuerto, but no he back tracked a little and left me off at a side road by a highway with a sign saying Aeropuerto 2 miles.

Now it was too hot to walk there so I went into the gas station to call a taxi, no one working there  knew a taxi phone number. While in the gas station I saw the little bus pull up at the corner where I just standing that said aeropuerto but I couldn’t get there before he left. So I figured another one would be by in about 15 minutes, but in just a few minutes a taxi drove up dropping folks off next door to where I was waiting and I flagged him down and headed out to my party.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Sailfest beach party at Las Palamas Hotel and Beach Cub

What should have taken 45- 60 minutes max had taken me almost two hours. But none the less I was there. I set out my tapas which survived the ride just fine, gave the wine to the bartender to re-chill, pulled out my camera to take my first picture of the lovely place only to discover the chilled wine had sweated all over my camera and the camera was not operating. One picture and it would not  “click” again to take a picture and the view screen was blank.  I got one picture that was it. Still not working today

Still not feeling my best, I choose to spend some time in the beautiful infinity pool. It’s a beautiful spot with  The food was great, but I had no appetite, an open bar but I carried around the same drink all day just not quite able to drink it. It is a beautiful hotel and Beach club with two pools, lovely grounds and ocean front views. While I certainly had a nice time I just wasn’t up to party mode.

I left early and was able to catch a ride most of the way back to the apartment where I went to bed and slept all night.

I feel OK today, but still no energy, finished my latest book and plan to continue watching Game of Thrones the rest of the afternoon. Signing off KO