Saturday, December 25, 2010

Another White Christmas in Mexico

I haven't written a blog since August, since our Tenacatita land was taken by force. Really, I didn't have the heart to write about that --- or anything else. I didn't know what else I had to say. But, finally, here's a quick summary of our year. I'm officially back to the blogosphere.

My brother asked me last night, didn't I miss having a White Christmas, as he's socked inside his house in Ithaca, New York with a 50 percent chance of snow, high of 25 F (-4C), low of 20 F (-7C).

Well, no.

We have a White Christmas every year. White sands on the beaches of Mexico. Works just fine for me, thank you very much.

Last night we were telling Dustin some stories of growing up in upstate New York and how I literally got frostbite most winters, my own version of freezer burn, with blisters across my face after an afternoon of skating on a pond or building a snow fort.

It was a sign, one that I have taken to heart, that a warm climate in the winter is where this body was meant to live.

This Christmas morning we'll meet good cruising friends, Di and Roger Frizzelle of Di's Dream, at the Tulum, our favorite beach brunch place in Nuevo Vallarto (Puerto Vallarta), and belly up to a buffet of tropical fruit (fresh pineapple, papaya, cantalope, watermelon), chiliquiles for Michael and Dustin, followed by a retreat to the beach to boogie board and to digest our food for the afternoon.


Our Canadian friends, Laura Warner (our teacher in Arroyo Seco from last year) and Christina, fly in tonight (with Princessa Mia!) and we'll celebrate Christmas at home in PV with cranberry cocktails, a turkey aracherra on the barbecue and sparklers.

Tomorrow we head out by panga (a stout fiberglass open fishing boat) to a beach restaurant on the southwest side of Banderas Bay, as the Christmas celebrations continue. I hope to head out by a panga taxi across the bay again early this week to visit my cousin Lynn on Yalapa, before we all head south to La Manzanilla and Arroyo Seco.

We'll continue to have a Puerto Vallarta presence this year as we stay with Dustin while he regains his footing from a recent separation from his wife, and we all hope to spend a lot of time with the always delightful Sasha Fox.

While we're here, I hope to finally take those Spanish lessons it's obvious I need if I don't want to bumble through conversations as if I'm a toddler.

New York

Had a fantastic summer there. The weather was the best since I was a child. Sunny. Warm. Followed by Sunny. And Warm. We built a new dock and we spent the summer on it, when we weren't on one of the boats or in the water. I played a lot of fiddle, got introduced to Zumba, cooked a lot of fresh veggies (Corn! Tomatoes!) , spent time with family, made new friends. All in all, a perfect summer.


It was the best semester I've spent in Sacramento, in the 20 years or so we've been living there. We were hosted by our generous friends, Pam and Steve Lovotti, living in their mother-in-law flat above the garage and sharing their kitchen and common areas. We cooked a lot of great food together, had great conversations over dinner at home and at local restaurants they introduced us to around town. They know everyone! We got an ongoing wine tutorial from Steve, who spent 30-some years as a wine buyer in Sacramento for the family business. And we were graciously adopted into their big extended Italian family. Even Dylan came up a few times from Oakland and got enveloped into the fold.

Fall is the time we get to visit with Anne, Sami and Kami, and get caught up on their year. And even Jason showed up, on his way from Detroit to Vail (yes, the geography is a little confusing).

The location was perfect for us --- within walking distance of Trader Joe's, the university, our post office, a direct bus line to the downtown mall where I could get a $18 chair massage to relieve the ongoing muscle spasm in my neck.

I immersed myself in Zumba for the semester, doing a daily circuit of my favorite teachers (and they were great!). In November I got certified to teach Zumba, but so far my preference is to be one of the people dancing in the crowd. We'll see if I get organized and confident enough to do more someday.

But standing up in front of my journalism classes at the university every fall is still comfortable, and always a bit of a surprise after eight months off. The students were enjoyable, we all made the best of it, learned as much as we could in 16 weeks, then called it a success. We have one more fall semester in Sacramento, then we're completely, officially retired from the university.

Watch for notices of the celebration!

Tenacatita and Arroyo Seco

Still a sore spot but here's what I generally know.

Lots of lawsuits. Someone else still has our land (and everyone else's).

The Tenacatita that we knew, the place that was the focal point of our week, an excuse for taking a half-hour quad ride down the beach, eating fresh fish tacos and drinking cold beer, spending the afternoon boogie boarding with our friends, that Tenacatita is still gone.

Almost every day the rumor mill starts and everyone is buzzing that the cyclone fences are down, the armed guards have gone home and we have access to the beach.

All I can figure is someone friends with the Rodenas Corporation, the developer that took over the land, is starting those rumors. Because the fence is still up, access is still denied. If there's a change, we should hear a fiesta roar its way all the way up to the Mexican-American border. But there's nothing new yet. Just a lot of talk and a lot of lawyers charging by the hour. Read the
Tenacatita Bay Bugle or the La Manzanilla Message Board or CyberPueblo (in Spanish) to keep up with Tenacatita news.

Arroyo Seco is mostly unchanged, or if anything, reaping the benefits of the closure of Tenacatita. We have a new gringo family who is expected to start living near us in 'downtown' Arroyo Seco in mid-January. There's a new restaurant on the beach and a local is opening an RV park on the beach. The surf beach, Playa Chica, is still untouched.

We don't have a plan for this season yet, and that's our plan. No plan.

We'll continue to spend time in Arroyo Seco and La Manzanilla, quad where we can, sit on the beach and watch the surfers, visit with our friends up and down the Costalegre.

The goal for me this season is to continue to be grateful for what I have rather than dwell on what I don't have. The meter on my life is running and I don't intend to waste a minute.

To all my friends around the globe; have a great holiday season and know that we'll connect again this year, starting mid-stream in a conversation that continues to flow from year to year. I'm so grateful to have all of you in my life.

Feliz Navidad!