Two Weeks in Mexico
It already seems like a lifetime ago that we left the United States. And yet it’s only been two weeks. If you are fans of our Facebook page, you’ve seen the many photos we have posted. However, in case you missed it, here are some of our favorites, and a few stories along the way.
When we last left you, we had just arrived at our housesitting assignment. We’ll try to catch you up now.
Fiona was our predecessor, and fortunately she was able to stay with us a couple of nights while we got acclimated to everything and settled into a routine. She showed us the route the dogs normally took on their twice-daily walks and introduced us to all the neighborhood animals:
- Lucy, the horse who will trot over for carrots
- Oso, the German Shepherd mix who seems to guard his casa all alone, and who is starved for attention. We always give him a treat and throw a toy for him, if he will let us
- Gus, the loving pit bull
- Layka, the German Shepherd who jumps the wall around her house to follow us home for a treat
Then Fiona spent a couple of weeks in town, meeting us several times for errands. She showed us where Pablo never shows up to work on cars, and then where the Goodyear is where people actually do show up to work on cars, and cheaply! She showed us the apartment in town which we need to check on occasionally. She showed us the store where we need to pay the rent, and the store where we need to pay the security company fees. That one required walking through what appeared to be someone’s living room and through a courtyard. She showed us where we pick up the raw meat and vegetable mix for the dogs, and where the coffee vendor usually parks, and where the different weekly markets are, and where the bank is. Whew! I can’t imagine finding all of those places without her!
Regarding violence in Mexico, well, there’s good news and bad news. Let’s go over the good news first. The bandidos who were robbing some of the homes in the neighborhood appear to have moved on to new targets, or were perhaps arrested. They were typically hitting homes near the main road, so none of our neighbors were particularly worried about that issue. The bad news is that last Saturday night a car was spotted hanging out in one area overnight. Neighbors talked to them, and they claimed to be security hired by the neighborhood. They said this to people who knew better, and who proceeded to call the President of the neighborhood association. But before any official response could be mustered, they did what they had come for and left quickly.
Evidently one particular person in a remote corner of the neighborhood was known for some shady dealings. Federal police had visited his home a year earlier, and there was an incident involving dogs and a colt several months ago. It would seem he pissed off the wrong person as someone shot him in the head while he was leaving his home Sunday at around 10:45am. We are assuming this involved the car which had been hanging around and claiming to be security, but no details have come forth. The neighbors seem to be shrugging it off, as it was a very targeted attack and the target is no longer with us. And if those living closest to this house aren’t worried, then we certainly aren’t!
Police were already patrolling the neighborhood regularly, but we’ve seen a LOT of them over the last few days. Fortunately we’ve got a very alert dog and an alarm system and a house and car that would, frankly, disappoint any criminal.
Speaking of cars, the old Volvo 850 (viejo rojo as Bryn calls it) has been quite the handy thing to have. After Goodyear replaced the control arm and I rigged the seatbelt to work it has reliably taken us to stores and markets and parks. We’re old pros now at quickly recognizing spoken amounts of pesos and producing the correct change. Today Bryn tried on and purchased some nice leather sandals from a vendor at the mercado in Ajijic. We also managed to take Ruby to the vet for some flea treatment and shots and then to the Malecon on the lake for some walking around. We also had dinner that night at the same location. Note to self: ‘whole fish’ means exactly what it sounds like!
Driving in Mexico isn’t too much different than driving in the United States, with a few exceptions. Traffic signs and road markings are more of a suggestion than a rule. Pass when you want. In town, no need to wait for an invitation -- if you have left a car length between you and the car in front of you, don’t be surprised to see someone pull into it. They will expect you to slow down, and you will. The same for pedestrians. The gas stations are owned, staffed and operated by the government. And just like Oregon, they will pump your gas for you. Unlike Oregon, they will also wash your windshield!
Before Fiona moved into town she and Bryn were invited to a party by some neighbors! We had a great time. Jean-Pierre and Yolanda were wonderful hosts. We had burgers and chicken and several great unique pastries and other dishes. The guests were a true cross-section of the area. Expats from the United States and Canada and local Mexicans. At any given moment you could hear conversations in English, Spanish and French! It was a great way to get to know our new neighbors!
Oh, and I almost forgot! We celebrated our first official Mardi Gras in Ajijic! It was on Fat Tuesday. In pretty much every country south of the U.S. this time of year is generally referred to as 'carnaval' and not Mardi Gras, but it's the same pre-Easter celebration. Well, not exactly the same. No breasts were exposed, but there were a lot of men dressed up as women. And instead of beads, they throw flour -- as in, throw it all over you! It was a blast!
I guess that will do it for now -- I’ll leave you with wonderful song about Mexico from James Taylor:
Oh, Mexico It sounds so simple I just got to go The sun's so hot I forgot to go home Guess I'll have to go now