Hope everyone is well and those of you in the UK are not all "jubileed out". Although I am definitely not Royalist I was delighted to see photos of my lovely friend Annie and her daughter Jayne all dressed up for their trip to the picnic at the Palace. Their photo made several newspapers and it sounds like they had a fabulous time!!
We are one third of the way through our house sit and life is good.
Its a real area of contrast between the laguna, the town and the city.
Down here in the laguna there are only a few people who live here permanently mostly those running local shops etc. There are half a dozen bungalow-type places that people come to spend the weekend, Sunday sees a huge influx of people who come to picnic or have lunch in the laguna-side restaurants. Around the laguna are some fabulous houses that sit empty most of the time. Each day we walk past one ( I call it casa amarillo) and it sits empty. It is huge, floor to ceiling windows overlooking the laguna, simple decor and lovely wooden furniture. We chat to the caretaker , Cale, and the people who own it live in Guadalajara and come 2-3 times a year. They were there on Saturday, with their speedboat!! There are also some luxury complexes, one near us is 150 pounds a night and has a "party boat" which looks like a floating lounge. It rarely has any guests. A couple of places have been built and not opened, money laundering!!
Santa Maria del Oro is a typical Mexican small town. Town hall, main square , football and baseball pitches, two churches. Lots of people drive around in beaten-up old pickups loaded with stuff on the back, fruit, corn, people-saw one yesterday with 3 buggies (holding babies) with the mothers hanging on to them!! There are also still lots of people who ride their horses and who look like the Mexicans in the films, complete with lasso -and there are very skilled at using them. There endless small shops-most of which have no signs and some look like someones front room!
The food shops are very similar and sell a limited range so we eat what is there. Likewise with fruit and vegetables -we use what looks good and fresh. Yesterday there was a van selling local strawberries at £1 per kilo.......they were lovely. Shopping takes forever as you buy what looks best in each shop-there is a lovely vegetable shop too and when you buy an avocado and ask for one that is ready to eat you get just that. Not like the choices at home either mush or hard as rocks. Also as the only gringos in town everyone chats to us. It is helping my Spanish enormously, yesterday i bought two new vest tops and the lady said sit down and tell me about what you are doing in Mexico!! I'm also a good customer in the papeleria as I buy things for kinder -yesterday it was pencils and paint brushes.
Tepic is the nearest city and lots of people go there on the collectivo-these are the size of a mini-bus and go once they are filled up. There are loads of them line the square and also plenty of activity. In Tepic there are a few museums, cathedral, main municipal buildings, huge court, lots of shops and places to eat in the centre, proper banks, local market and it is quite big. It is also full of police, local, national and the army-iv'e still not got used to the sight of 8-10 guys on the back of a white pick-up wearing masks and toting huge machine guns.......the guys on bikes are the same. It all looks pretty scary.......the built a prison in tepic and the families of the narcos have moved in , so crime is up!!
On the outskirts there are 3 big supermarkets........including the dreaded walmart. Also there is a "out of town mall" called Liverpool ( it is the name of a shop -a bit like House of Fraser). It is a godsend as it has air con!! Welcome respite after a week of outdoor temperatures of 40+ and indoor 34. Here though you seen the "modern" Mexican, affluent, Americanised with the designer gear, Iphones and eating fast food and some of them are huge!!!
We got our DVD player returned last weekend and a cash refund.......only took 45 minutes!! I got some photos of the children from kinder printed out too.
Then we get back to the laguna and out kids here are jumping in the laguna and trying to catch fish!! Chris bought a rod last week but two trips yesterday and he caught nothing!! Good job I had made other arrangements for a meal!!
Last Thursday Miguel our American friend came down to the laguna for a meal. He is a retired lawyer from Iowa and moved here 5 months ago and lives with a family up in SAMAO. He loved the laguna and we had an evening swim and appreciated some of the things we had started to take for granted. The lovely mountains, the beauty of the laguna, our garden with the butterflies, humming birds and the peace and tranquillity compared to the town. He is doing some adult English classes and also teaches guitar and maths. I went to a different mass (10am) in the other church with him on Sunday. It was better acoustics to hear the priest and there was a choir to add to the atmosphere-what they lacked in quality they made up for in enthusiasm!!
At kinder yesterday I made a poster for the wall with the photos of the children and their names and they look so sweet!! I find though that i spend my time doing more with them in Spanish than i do in English.....although they are improving slightly. At 4 and 5 they are way behind where children would be in the UK. They can just about write their names and the numbers 1-10. They are still struggling to recognise letters in the alphabet ( although they can do A-Z parrot fashion) and none of them can read. But they seem to enjoy the time I am there so that is good .
We have suddenly got a very different house-the weeping fig, having shed all of its leaves and grown a whole new array in less than a week, now provides wonderful shade in the garden so we can sit out during the day. It also shades half of the house and Chris had put up a new tarpaulin to shade the window of our room from the full sun. This now means that we can leave the windows open and get some air movement and although the temperatures are the same it does feel cooler!!
Only downside of using the garden is you have to use bug spray- I got chewed the other day and each time something new bites I get a reaction around the bite. We were sat in the garden Wednesday about 5 when we heard this almighty crack and then a huge thump as part of the tree outside just collapsed. Nothing was damaged but it blocked our exit with the car. Oscar, he looks after the place, was out for the night so it would have to wait till morning. So at 7.45 yesterday Oscar arrived with his chain saw and cut the tree into pieces to help shift it..........in the process ending the life of a huge iguana. Imagine you are safely huddled inside a branch wondering what to do with yourself, you hear a loud buzz and then cut in half by a chainsaw!!
We nearly had an incident on the laguna yesterday. Lexie had tried the day before to swim and catch a duck but was outwitted by it when it dived under the water, Lexie swam in circles for 5 minutes. But yesterday she set off after a mother and 2 new chicks......luckily we managed to distract her with stones and the chick was saved.
I hope I manage to load some photos tried last week and it crashed!! Haven't worked out how to label them yet. So these are early morning cloud, kinder and rainbow pictures