Monday, December 31, 2012

New Years Re-post

This is a re-post of a previous year's message:

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to everyone! Have a nice safe New Years, call or hug your family and watch as the New Year comes in.

It is a well known fact that fireworks scare away demons here in Mexico so we expect to hear lots of them tonight. I have my earplugs handy if I need them!

Here is a list of Mexican New Years Traditions:

New Years is our chance to get rid of the negative in our lives to make room for the positive. New Years Traditions abound here in Mexico and include:

1) Make a list of all the negative things of the past year and just before midnight, throw the list into the fire. This will rid them from your life forever.

2) Wear red underwear if you want love and yellow if you want money.

3) Eat one grape and make one wish with each of the twelve strokes of the clock as it counts out midnight.

4) Sweep out your house before midnight. This rids the house of the negative forces that have accumulated over the past year.

5) Bringing your luggage outside at New Years will ensure you will travel in the upcoming year.

6) Make an effigy of a hated politician, stuff it with fireworks and set fire to it at midnight.

7) Visualize a huge cloud crossing the sky at midnight. People who are lucky enough to have a glimpse of the cloud are believed to experience good luck in the New Year.

Feliz Año Nuevo

Kitchens are busy here in Hacienda Contreras! Goodies are being prepared and liquor supplies are being measured. The women decided to have an "Appies" New Years where everyone brings their favorite appetizer to Sal and Barb's new common room. We will welcome in the New Year up there. Only a few hours to go! 2013 is just around the corner.

As a side note, many of my Cuban friends are so superstitious that they will not say the word, "thirteen"! If they have a 13 year old child and someone asks them how old the child is, they say, "Ten plus three". They will have a tough time in the next year.

Kevin and Chris have taken a drive to a neighboring town where there is a hardware store to buy stainless steel screws and cable to install Chris and Juan's new solar panel. They brought it with them in order to get some expert help with the installation and today is the day. It will keep us men out of the way of the food preparations and Chris and Juan will not have to share their bedroom with a huge solar panel on the way home. It is a win - win thing.

I want to wish everyone a Very Happy New Years and all the best for 2013. There, I even said the word "thirteen"!

The Cliff

All this posturing and blaming is making me sick. These people are paid to act in the best interests of their constituents so why don’t they just do their job. If they need encouragement, lock them in the room and send in pizza, water and coffee for as long as it takes. They don’t come out except on a stretcher until they have an agreement. Pretty simple. Collective agreements have been completed this way, this is no different. Just do your job.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Market Day And Catching Up

Yesterday was market day in Valle de Juarez so we climbed into the back seat of Chris and Juan’s SUV and headed out. For some reason Chris and Juan have been acting as our chauffeurs so often here that Barb, the park owner, asked if there was something wrong with the Honda. Here is the market and a shot of the local Malecon along the lakeside.


Last night Chris and Juan offered to treat Norma and I to enchiladas. About six o’clock we were heading out when a few others asked to join us. We all headed to the local Valle de Juarez centro and a small restaurant where we stuffed ourselves on enchiladas de queso with a really nice creamy sauce. Thanks guys, it was delicious. This was after Chris and Juan made breakfast of Huevos Rancheros with potatoes and beans for the whole RV park! That was a memorable breakfast!

Today is cooler and overcast and has the makings of a lazy day. We have all been invited to a birthday party for the two year old son of a friend of Sal and Barbs in a nearby town. Many are going but Norma and I decided to stay home. We may fire up the Honda and go back to the centro for a closer look and maybe find some fresh squeezed OJ.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Fallacies About Mexico

Our friend Chris has just published a Blog about fallacies that many people hold about the country of Mexico. Chris has lived and worked in Mexico for many decades and knows what he is talking about. If you want a little insight into the details of wages, education, health care and a bunch more about Mexico, click here.

Village of Concepcion de Buenos Aires

On the way back from the waterfalls we made a small detour to Concepcion de Buenos Aires. They were getting ready for a festival and the streets were shining clean and decorations were being started. We went into the village offices where Chris asked about RV parking. They were told that the police would find a safe place for them to park if they wanted to just park on the street, otherwise there was a place just outside of town where they could pay to park in a quieter area. The Church was all decorated for a wedding that was just about to take place. It is a very peaceful, quiet town. Everyone was very friendly and it was obvious they do not see many white faces. Our little group were the only English speakers in town that day.


Friday, December 28, 2012

La Cascadas Paraiso

Yesterday Kevin and Ruth offered to lead those who wanted to go to a local waterfall. We jumped in with Chris and Juan while Brian and Sue loaded Kevin and Ruth into their car and the eight of us headed off. It was not far but the route went through a small village with tiny streets. Chris commented that if anyone ever tried to get an RV through these streets, that RV would become a permanent fixture in that town as you could never back it out! We found the poorly marked road to the falls and after walking down the last steep hill, got to the entrance which was through a restaurant. We paid our $5 peso per person entry fee and pre-ordered lunch for when we came back.


We were met at the trail by some grazing burrows. The restaurant bar was an interesting feature, looking like it does not get much use. The sign on the wall says something like, “You are responsible for your own actions. Do not look for someone else to blame. Thank you for your visit”. It was a great day. A little exercise and a lot of laughs.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Thinning Out

We lost some friends today! Little Cassia loaded her mom, dad, dog and cat into the RV and they headed to the beaches. They are heading west to Colima and then south along the Pacific to Oaxaca. From there they are not sure but be sure to follow their journey with us on their Blog. I am sure we will meet again!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Eve At Hacienda Contreras

We celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve in the Mexican style here at HC. We shared a communal dinner up in the rec hall in the room that Sal has recently completed. In my “new normal” fashion, I forgot my camera so here are some shots borrowed from Chris and Teresa. Thanks guys and when I start taking my own camera you know you are welcome to my shots.


Here is Chris’s turkey minutes before it went into the oven and Sal’s sister preparing tomales:


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Berry Stand

Teresa was kind enough to allow me to share more of her photos, this time of a berry stand along the road. The berries (blackberry, raspberry and strawberry) were $20 pesos each ($1.50) or three for $50 pesos ($4). They were fresh and delicious!


San Louis Soyatlan

This is a flashback to the trip from Villa Corona to Hacienda Contreras. Norma and I were leading the way with Teresa, Derek and Cassia following in their much smaller Class B Van Conversion. As we passed through the village of San Louis Soyatlan on the south shore of Lake Chapala things got a little hectic. Here are some photos taken by Teresa from her vantage point behind us. Thanks for the photos Teresa!

Just driving along when… all of a sudden a bus passes you with about six inches to spare!


And into the narrow streets of San Louis Soyatlan!


More Highway:


Until finally the slightly potholed road to the RV park. They assure Sal and Barb the road will be fixed “next year” Winking smile


Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

A very Merry Christmas to all my readers!

We are in the Highlands of Jalisco, Mexico a hundred KM or so south of Guadalajara. We are at 7,500 feet and it is mid 70's in the daytime and high 40's at night. Pretty perfect weather. Mexicans have their Christmas Dinner on the 24th and exchange gifts after dinner on Christmas Eve. Santa comes to visit the kids in the form of The Three Kings on January 6 when kids leave a shoe outside their door and the Kings leave a gift. I will be leaving a cowboy boot outside my door!

Tonight is a big communal dinner here at the RV park for about 30 people. Norma made seafood Sish Kabobs. I am taking wine!

A Mexican "Night Before Christmas"

Twas the night before Christmas, and all through la casa, 
Not a creature was stirring, I wondered, que pasa? 
I was hanging the stockings with mucho cuidado, 
In hopes that old Santa would feel obligado, 
To bring all the children, both buenos y malos, 
A nice batch of dulces and other regalos. 
My brothers and I went to sleep in our camas, 
Some in long underwear, and some in piyamas. 
When out in the yard there arose such a grito, 
That I jumped to my feet like a frightened cabrito. 
I ran to the window and looked afuera. 
And who in the world do you think quien era? 
St. Nick in a sleigh and a big sombrero 
Came dashing along like a little bombero. 
And pulling his sleigh instead of venados, 
Were eight little burros, approaching volados. 
I watched as they came, and this fat little hombre 
Was shouting and whistling, and calling by nombre: 
Ay Pancho, ay Pepe, ay Cuca, ay Beto! 
Ay Chata, ay Chopo, Maruca y Nieto! 
Then standing erect, with his hands on his pecho, 
He flew to the top of our very own techo. 
With his round little belly like a bowl of jalea, 
He struggled to squeeze down our old chimenea. 
Then huffing and puffing, a little cansado, 
He picked up a bag that looked muy pesado. 
He filled all the stockings with lovely regalos. 
Then chuckling aloud, seeming very contento, 
He turned like a flash and was gone like the viento. 
And I heard him exclaim, and this is verdad: 
Merry Christmas a todos ... feliz navidad!

Sunday, December 23, 2012


Sal and Barb, the owners of Hacienda Contreras, arranged for a tour of a private mezcal producer. At 11:00 we headed out in a caravan of five vehicles.  It was very interesting and we were able to see the process right from the growing plants, the mashing and fermenting process right to the actual cooking and evaporative process that drips the final product into clay jugs. We sampled the finished product along with some great cheese that Barb had brought along and were invited to buy some mezcal to take home. We had brought our own bottles along for this purpose. My container of choice was an empty wine bottle which the owner happily filled for 120 pesos ($9.50).

It was a family run operation situated on a huge farm in the hills near the RV park. They appear to grow some other crops but their main source of income is obviously the mezcal. One of the owners sons who lives and works in Chicago was there. He says he much prefers Mexico to the USA. It is not hard to see why. Life is so laid back on the farm. Everything gets done but there is no sense of urgency. Everyone, including the few employees, seem very happy and proud of their operation.

After the tour we were invited to the nearby hilltop home of Jesus, one of the owners, to eat the lunches we had brought along. It was nearby but much higher in elevation. The final few hundred feet were on foot, again up a steep hill, and I could really feel I was at about 8000 feet altitude. The house was pretty basic with an outdoor kitchen but had sweeping views of the peaceful surrounding countryside. It was a little piece of paradise! Here are the mezcal photos:


And the hilltop lunch stop. Paradise!


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Villa Corona To Hacienda Contreras

It was not a long drive yesterday but was a little nerve racking. We left VC at about 11:00 and headed in the general direction of Lake Chapala. We followed the south shore of the lake on a narrow secondary highway passing through the village of San Louis Soyatlan. The road through this village was barely wide enough for two way traffic but parking was allowed on one side, effectively making it a one way street. If there was oncoming traffic, one of you had to duck into a parking spot to let the other vehicle pass by, something very difficult to do in a 5o foot long motorhome tow car combination. We had some VERY narrow squeaks but made it through with some very white knuckle driving by yours truly. Theresa, Derek and Cassia were following us in their class B motorhome and Teresa was snapping photos of our manoeuvres, some of which I was going to put on the Blog. Unfortunately, she had a malfunction with her Mac computer’s iPhotos and lost all of the day’s photos.

The road eventually turned away from the lake and got better, at least until we got to the town of Mazamitla where it became a long series of potholes for the last two or three miles to Hacienda Contreras. HC is a beautiful little park almost full of very friendly people. Barb and Sal who run the park are very nice and arranged a mezcal factory tour for us today. More on that later.

We are parked right beside Chris and Juan, our Mexican friends from Monterrey, MX. The spots are very wide, giving us probably 30 feet of our own space between rigs. There is 30 amp power, something very rare in Mexico and the water is good, another rarity in Mexico. Rent is a very reasonable $750 pesos a week or about $8.50 a day. By the month it is even cheaper. We do have electric meters and pay 3 pesos (24 cents) per kilowatt hour for all the power we use. The climate is quite moderate here despite being at 6,400 feet elevation so there is not that much need for air conditioning in the day or heat at night. Christmas plans are being made!