Monday, March 30, 2009

Run, amigos! Run!

Should Mexico export its pedestrian crosswalk signal?

I first saw this crossing signal at least a year or two ago in Puerto Vallarta, strategically located on the crosswalk of the highway between where the huge cruise ships dock and WalMart/ Sam's Club.

A cruise ship lands and I guess hundreds of Americans and Canadians race across the street to purchase what they forgot to bring on their week-long cruise to Mexico.

Or they just want to see what a WalMart in Mexico looks like. I don't know.

But the culture class about crossing the street had become apparent when tourists kept on getting winged (or worse) by the occasional taxi or motorcycle while sprinting across the street.

Mexicans know that it is pedestrian beware. Even if there's a crosswalk, the vehicle has the right of way. Even before the light goes from red to green, cars are racing onward.

The video of this crosswalk signal pretty much sums up the Mexican experience ---- it shows an animation of a pedestrian walking, then race walking --- then sprinting.

Run, Forest, Run!

It could be the icon for the Mexican philosophy of personal responsibility. If you get run over by a car, you damn sure needed to cross more quickly!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

A few weeks of 'almost' normal living

being a key word here.

Michael has been staying put in Arroyo Seco, landscaping, raking, writing, reading, playing his ukelele again, heading to the beach while I've made two forays to Puerto Vallarta to spend quality time with granddaughter Sasha, who is simply grand.

She stole my heart, again, when I waved adios to her on Thursday night and she waved back. In disbelief, I waved again. She waved again. Pure genius, I tell you!

In between weeks in Vallarta, Michael and I have taken several quad trips south on the beach to see friends in Tenacatita and to eat delicious, fresh fish (and drink cold cervezas). Last week a friend in the village gave us a tour of the RV park he and his father are developing on the Arroyo Seco beach.

He's created a natural pier out of dirt and gravel on the back side of the park so that people can sit by the lagoon, opposite the ocean beach, and watch the incredible assortment of birds, similar in type and variety to the Ding Darling Bird Sanctuary on Sanibel Island. The photo is a little blurry (my apologies), but it was delightful to see masses of roseate spoonbills, egrets and herons, other birds yet to be identified.

Each time I discover a place like this, I'm reminded that there is so much more to see here than what we can see on the beach. We are surrounded by hundreds of hectares (much larger than an acre) of mangroves and freshwater lagoons and have much to explore yet. Our neighbors have invited us for a day trip on the quads to show us their favorite places.

I continue to be reminded of what it was like to land on Sanibel Island in my teens as a transported city kid to be shown the wonders of the island by the natives.

Fun then. Still fun!

A couple of quick things to note:

• Today I'm aware of today that I'm to the point of taking the fantastic, fresh seafood for granted.
Yum. No complaints. Michael ordered this shrimp special at the newly updated AltaMira restaurant in El Tuito (about halfway to Puerto Vallarta). The restaurant gave us coupons for free margaritas for our next visit. Not a bad enticement. We'll be back!

• I love a country that allows free tequila and aged scotch samples in the grocery store. No signs warning of the dangers, no ID required. Wanna shot? And this was in the WalMart in Puerto Vallarta!

• Winter is over! It's finally getting what I would call hot and humid. No whining. Just an observation.

Now I'm off to La Manzanilla to volunteer at Cisco's Amigos Spay and Neuter Clinic. Tomorrow Michael and I will truck in a ton of critters from Arroyo Seco. Not that the animals will be thanking us. But the villagers probably will. Watch for a report next week.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The mystery and miracle of a spontaneous life

I think the headline is a little more profound than I'm feeling right now, but today I'm aware of how life works out exactly as it is supposed to, no matter where I was originally headed or thought I should do.

Michael and Karen Schamel, friends from our lake home in New York, enticed us into leaving the Arroyo Seco compound for a few days of rest and recuperation from a load of guests, too much fun and too much polvo (dust).

It was exactly the right choice.

One day we headed out to find a small village recommended by the manager of the B&B we were staying in Comala, north of Colima. We took a wrong turn (yes, I misunderstood the fundamental directions) and ended up in Colima again. We decided, heck, let's just do our quick errand in Home Depot while we're here.

We ran into a friend from La Manzanilla, Jim Ferry, who we didn't realize has lived in Colima for years, who was also shopping in Home Depot.

He tells us the one, incredible, almost-secret best place to have lunch and watch the volcano and draws us a map.

We spent a fantastic afternoon sipping margaritas, eating ribs and watching the volcano burp smoke rings high up on the mountain --- the only people in the restaurant, which overlooks both the volcano and the city of Colima. It's run by an Ejido (Mexican cooperative), which also runs a campground by a sweet lagoon.

When we returned back to the B & B in Comala, even the owners didn't know about the restaurant.

For me, it was another great reminder to let thing flow, that things are exactly as they are supposed to be if I'll just get out of the way and let things happen.

A second miracle continues to be our neighbors in Arroyo Seco, who always reassure us through their actions that we've made a great decision to live here.

Michael and I were headed home to what we knew would be a pile of dust on the palapa floor and wilting plants because Michael has just transplanted a lime tree and some palm trees, a bouganvilla. Last night we discovered that Chon has reinstalled our drip system to keep all the plants thriving, while Chena and the kids swept and mopped every flat, tiled surface. And that's a lot of surface.

Really, it leaves me speechless. And grateful. And feeling like I have a lot to learn about this lovely culture, that would have a family come over and make things 'right' before their neighbors arrive home tired from a three-day vacation.