Sunday, February 22, 2009

Arroyo Seco gets pretty quiet

It's been a rolling, 24/7 party since our first guests arrived in early February.

Son Dylan, Cousin Ruth, our good friend Laura, and Dylan's friends from Berkeley, Ginger and Lewis, all helped us beta test the Pink Flamingo, to see if this hairball idea of some type of communal living in this tiny Mexican village is viable.

The answer is a tentative, si.

We all survived the experience, had a lot of fun, and got a ranked list of what's next to make this place comfortable for a bunch of us.

Lights in the palapa.
More hot water for showers earlier in the morning.
Screening in or closing in the kitchen.

Oh, and beds....

Not bad, considering we hit the ground here in late December and had flush toilets and a somewhat functional galley within six weeks. Unheard of in Mexico. Maybe in the U.S.

When I woke up in Arroyo Seco the first day after everyone had taken off, a wave of loneliness swept over me as I realized it was the first morning that no one from my newly acquired extended family would be there to drink tea with me on the palapa.

Having like-minded folks stay with us in Arroyo Seco reaffirmed my commitment to this experiment. I find I enjoy the privacy of my own home but find my life more enhanced when we live in a compound of like-minded friends and family who also like to live cooperatively.

And like to surf, swim, snorkle, boogie board, drink coconut milk, sip tequila, teach English and Spanish, dig trenches, talk with our Mexican neighbors, paint new concrete walls, plant palm trees and sweep a lot of dust off the palapa floor....

After a good siesta that same day, we headed out to have dinner in La Manzanilla with eight of our family and friends from New York, spent the night at Kate's lovely beach rental, then continued the party at breakfast with the Hector cousins as son Dustin did a drive-by on his way to Zihuatenejo to do a week long job.

Today I'm aware how hard it will be to stay focused for the remaining months as I continue to study Spanish.

But I'm also aware that there's no chance that the party won't still be there when I lift my head up from my books.

I had a quick visit with Sasha in Puerto Vallarta on Friday when I drove Dylan up to the aiport for his return to San Francisco. She's almost 6 months old and perfect.

Of course.

And for those of you who have been asking, Michael is much better. Many, many siestas are in his immediate future for the remainder of the cure, but his cough is nearly gone.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Band picks us up to party in Arroyo Seco

It's BIG doin's in the pueblo of Arroyo Seco this week, the tiny rancho we live in just north of La Manzanilla and Tenacatita Bay.

King Kong, Chena's brother, and Veronica, Chena's niece (by marriage, not by blood) are getting married today in an event that should draw more guests than we have residents here.

Cousin Ruth, our friend Laura from Calgary, Dylan's friend Ginger and I have been helping Chena and Veronica make the hundreds of elaborate table decorations for the event. Almost every evening this past week we'd pop in and tie ribbons, glue lace to things, write Veronica and Jose Antonio's names hundreds of times of various decorations. It's been a easy way to get to know some of the women in the rancho and a less intimidating way for me to practice my Spanish. Women will always find a way to communicate. Which we really did at the bridal shower, which was more like a stag'ette party and made me laugh until my face hurt.

A huge tent has been erected in the field behind Chapon's house, King Kong and Chena's father. Apparently the wedding cake weighs more than 6 kilos and has a fountain at the top. The wedding is early evening, the reception will undoubtedly go all night. There will even be security for the village, probably not a bad idea.

Yesterday evening we got home from a nice, long afternoon on the Tenacatita beach with our friends Karen and Mike Schamel from Hector, NY to find that Chapon, the family father of the town (and a more official role as well) had dropped by to let us know that there would be a band at his place and, Laura and Michael thought, that he would be by to pick us up. They weren't exactly sure.

We didn't really understand the full impact of that message --- a lot of language and cultural differences going on.

So, quite literally, Chapon and the band stopped by before sunset and 'picked us up' for the fiesta at his house.

It's the best damn way to be invited to a party, bar none. You're certainly sure you're invited and you party all the way down the street.

After dancing a few tunes in front of our place, one of the 'dancing' horses in town led us down the street with Laura, Chapon and Alfonso leading the parade.

The whole event so far is way out of my life experiences and also so positively overwhelming. It's not always been easy to share a life, day to day, without a common language and cultural background. But last night reaffirmed what a great, amazing decision it's been to make a home in this tiny Mexican village, just minutes from the beach.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

We did it! The toilets in Arroyo Seco flush on Feb. 1!

For those of you following the progress of our building in Arroyo Seco this year, we've made real progress.

First showers! First flushes! First fiesta with the new outdoor kitchen.

A lot of firsts.

Yesterday we celebrated the completion of all the concrete construction with a lot of food for the concrete Maestro and his son, Antonio, who is headed back to school on Wednesday. It's hard to imagine the adjustment of returning to the high school classroom in Sayula after six weeks of really hard work with his father. Perhaps it will feel like a vacation?

The outdoor kitchen has a new brick floor but not much else yet. But yesterday my friend Francisco, a former cook in Napa, and my neighbor Chena pitched in and saved the day.

I was flying solo since Michael has been down and out sick for a few days and unable to help. His soaring fever had me researching all kinds of potential tropical diseases.

Fortunately there is good medical care here and the doctor in Careyes diagnosed him with a lung infection and an early case of pneumonia. He's already on some strong drugs and hopefully on the mend.

So, the construction status is as follows:

Almost all the tiles in the bathrooms and laundry room are down --- and would have been finished today had I bought enough floor tiles. Ugh. Another trip to Manzanillo coming up.

• The new, low water, high velocity toilets flush occasionally. We'll make some adjustments to these high tech things tomorrow and I think they'll be fine.

• My kitchen is getting pretty usable but I have to figure out how to keep the dust down and the flies out. All guests will be required to submit their design ideas on their cocktail napkins, prior to dinner.

The next step? Landscaping! It's a lot more fun here when you stick something in the ground and it just about starts growing that second.

My brother David is visiting right now. Dylan arrives Friday. Cousin Ruth arrives Sunday.

Hopefully that means the construction phase in Mexico is offically transitioning to the vacation stage....