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Friendship – the Loving Acceptance of Another’s Uniqueness
May 31st, 2010 by Les

“You can’t stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you.  You have to go to them sometimes.”  Winnie the Pooh.“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too! I thought I was the only one!” C. S. Lewis.

The people of Ajijic Mexico are what make the town great.  Yes, this is a tropical setting with palm trees swaying on gentle breezes off the Sierra Madres and light glistening off beautiful Lake Chapala.  The inherent friendliness of everyone from the children who live next store to us and their families to the two “sentinels” posting themselves outside their doors each day, on Hidalgo Street, waiving to all who pass by it is a daily reminder of what friendship is about.  A smile and a Buenos Dias begin your day.  Often you see people stop to chat with these two charming gentlemen.  This is Mexico.  This is what brings people back.  This is what makes the quality of life – very different then that of the States, Canada or Europe – what draws people to make this a winter home or a charming year-round residence.

Yes, business owners the world over are friendly.  It is part and parcel of being a good business person.  However, our Mexican neighbors take it a step beyond the norm.  Let’s face it, some of us gringos and gringas….as I mentioned before….have not quite slowed down to the relaxed Mexican pace.  Sad but true, I must remind myself to say “hola” when I open our gate to someone….no matter who it is…before launching into a conversation of sorts (lest we forget I am still learning the language).  Thank goodness I am able to wave my arms about because, quite frankly, I’m sure some of the smiles are generated by my rather confusing “hand jives”.

Smiles seem to come naturally to everyone’s face here (well, most everyone).  Some are more comfortable then others having their pictures taken.  David is always cautious to ask first…”May I take your picture?” (puedo hacerte una foto) before launching in.  Most are more then happy to pose.  Some are a bit shy but usually come around.  David also makes sure, once he takes a picture and if he can find the person again, to give them a printed copy.  Everyone to whom he’s given a picture is thrilled and gracious with their “gracias”.

Below you will see pictures of our young neighbors, our two sentinels, and the coffee vendor, Francisco,  David gets all of his coffee from.  He recognizes us as we traipse through town and always has a friendly “hola” ready and waiting.  A construction worker sifting sand by hand, and other workers on a scaffold nearby and enjoying the whole picture taking escapade.  As well as the friendly barber who cut David’s hair and remarked…as he sat down: “lots of hair!” and upon finishing: “you are a new man!”

They say it takes a village to raise a child.  I think, no matter where you go in this world, if you are a visitor it takes a village to make you feel welcome.  Mexico has this down pat.  SOB (south of the border) remains safe, charming, welcoming, enchanting and fun.

We have a particularly favorite restaurant we fell in love with when we traveled down here last April.  Located on the carretera between Chapala and Ajijic, Pizzeria Toscana has the best and most realistic Italian pizza I have tasted in this area. 

Trust me when I say I know Italian food.  I learned to cook Italian/Sicilian from a lady who spoke little English and whom I watched cook for months on end.  I learned how to make noodles…yes, from scratch.  Sauces, a wonderful treat called Braciolone straight from the Iles of Sicily that started with a hard boiled egg, wrapped in a meatloaf concoction then wrapped again in round steak.  Baked in the oven for a short while and then added to her Italian/Sicilian spaghetti sauce to simmer for hours prior to serving with the obligatory noodles, it was a symphony for the palette upon completion.

This little restaurant has expanded since we’ve moved down here.  From its bright and cheerful tables and chairs, outside fountain and new coffee and mixed drinks bar to its lovely waitress’ and the owner, you can’t beat the food or the service!  A most visit if you are ever down Mexico way.

As you will see by the photographs David has taken during some of our excursion through the village, it is chock full of life and definitely user friendly!!  Viva Mexico.

[Some of you may have wondered where we have been lately.  Our blog site has been astonishingly received by so many people our host provider was unable to keep up with the subscriptions and provide us the services we needed to continue to post.  We have ported over our blog and our soon-to-be-opened online store to a new provider.  Wanting to make sure everything was in order before launching the store and continuing the blog, we waited.  Hope you enjoy the outcome.  If you encounter any problems opening our pages, please feel free to let us know by writing to les@boomerstomexico.com.  Thank you for your wonderful response to our slightly askew of center blog.  We sincerely hope you will enjoy our J. Peterman-style online store once we are ready to launch.]

The kids next door.  We are somewhat of an anomaly to them and yet we always find time for a laugh and a wave.

The kids next door. We are somewhat of an anomaly to them and yet we always find time for a laugh and a wave.

 

Simply the best coffee around.

Simply the best coffee around. Fransico, the owner, has become a friend.

Sifting sand through a hand sieve.  Most of the labor is done by hand and is back-breaking work.

Sifting sand through a hand sieve. Most of the labor is done by hand and is back-breaking work.

These construction workers found the picture taking, of their friend, humorour even when David turned the camera on them!

These construction workers found the picture taking, of their friend, humorous even when David turned the camera on them!

A friendly barber.  Note the barber pole and, if you look closely, the photographer in the background.

A friendly barber. Note the barber pole and, if you look closely, the photographer in the background.

Francisco - the always friendly owner pizzeria owner.

The always friendly pizzeria owner.

Everyone has a smile at our favorite pizzeria!

Everyone has a smile at our favorite pizzeria!

Beautiful and welcoming places to sit and enjoy life while savoring great food.

Beautiful and welcoming places to sit and enjoy life while savoring great food.

Out-of-Body Experiences
May 21st, 2010 by Les

“Talking with you is sort of the conversational equivalent of an out of body experience.”  Calvin & Hobbs 
“If ever I had an out of body experience, I’d try to come back to a different one.” Tom Wilson, American Actor and Comedian

Did you ever have one of those days when you are prone to out-of-body experiences, or, in my case, out-of-mind experiences?  I mean, your walking down the carretera in a small village in Mexico minding your own business when out of the blue someone mentions Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys.  Where the heck did that come from?  Well, it came from David as we strolled he thought of this great band from years ago he absolutely enjoyed that went by that name.  I believe his father, who was Jewish, introduced him to them.

He went on to relate that good old Kinky Friedman ran for Governor of Texas in 2006 against the current Governor Perry and placed fourth in a six person race.  Believe it or not, he went further with the comment saying he also wrote books.  Then the light came on.  I read at least two of his books and loved his “Jimmy Buffet” style of writing.  Detective novels are my favorite source of leisure and he never failed to make it an enjoyable experience.

Which, of course, led me to reminisce about home and how I learned an enormous amount of Yiddish words from some great friends I grew to know while working in Milwaukee?  Of course, and quite naturally, I thought of the pictures we took of the Hotel Italo (don’t ask…just go with my derailed train of thought).

Can you see how easy it was to go from Kinky Freedman and Texas to the Hotel Italo and its Romanesque statues?   Not a difficult leap…at least not for me and David is becoming more and more comfortable with my incoherency.  Perhaps he should be concerned.

Any who and according to David, a lot of the Romanesque statues and sculptures have little boys peeing as the subject.  I know this.  We have art and culture in Milwaukee too.  However he was saying this as I gazed upward at the statues you will see below (ha, ha).

Life is always interesting, often bizarre and frequently curious here in good old Ajijic, Lake Chapala area Jalisco Mexico.  I am sure I have probably added a little quirkiness to the picture since my arrival.  I have noted people often smile and say “hola” and continue smiling as they pass bursting into laughter as they’ve reached at least 10 cobblestones in distance away from us. As you’ve probably guessed, I take that as a compliment.  Also, I might add it helps many of our blog readers (Terry…you know who you are) recognize and follow David…..not stalk….follow!

Oh yes, back to the sculptures atop the Hotel Italo in downtown Ajijic.  Fortunately for those passing underneath said sculptures there is no water connected to these urchins as the streets of Ajijic would turn into fountains that turn off and on at no given time, in no given order, to celebrate no given event….like most of the other fountains here.  (I know I’m off on another tangent – however believe me when I say the fountains all seem to have water but you never know when they’ll be turned on…I love it!!)

Okay, dear reader, I think I out-of-minded my self enough for one day.  (If you read and understood that sentence you are either mad as a hatter or ate a breakfast burrito and are suffering the consequences!) Below you will see the pictures we took of the Hotel Italo and its sculptures on one of our many travels through this lovely village.  Enjoy.  No le estés dando vuelta al malacate porque se te enredan las pitas. (Things shouldn’t be made more complicated than the way they really are.) Viva Mexico!

I rest my case.  Please note...he is taking careful aim!

I rest my case. Please note...he is taking careful aim! I absolutely love the look on his face.

Another of the scluptures that adorn Hotel Italo.

Another of the scluptures that adorn Hotel Italo.

A fierce lion with a porch background.

A fierce lion with a porch background.

Another lion.

Another lion.

I leave you with these lovely bougainvilleas having fallen to ground and resting gently upon the cobblestones.

I leave you with these lovely bougainvilleas having fallen to ground and resting gently upon the cobblestones.

Mazamitla…The Rest of The Story
May 18th, 2010 by Les

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.”  St. Augustine, theologian.

“We eat a lot on trips because we feel our bodies are less likely to become bored if they can pass the time converting food into fat.”  Dave Barry, American Best Selling Author and Humorist.

There are so many things to see no matter where you go in Mexico.  Mazamitla is no exception.  No surprise there.

As Dave Barry says, food is an essential part of traveling and we whole heartedly agree – so much so that we pack a snack to get us from point A to point B…even if it will only take a couple of hours.  With water and iced tea in hand, as well as our “traveling pretzel sticks” we headed up the mountain to Mazamitla.

Our first post showed the beautiful church in the plaza and the surrounding gardens.  This post will give you a glimpse at the buildings and people visiting and living in this lovely village.  It will also give a look at where we ate.  We could not justify eating more than once so we walked around looking at everything as well as keeping an eye out for the best choice in restaurants.

Mexico has many interesting restaurants and Mazamitla is no exception.  Because of the piney woods theme, you will find (and notice by looking at the pictures herein contained) the village fathers carried this theme into the structures that circle the plaza…including the restaurants.

However, the menus were not of the piney woods variety.  Understandable as Mexico has its own wonderfully Hispanic foods.  Oddly, however you will notice – though the theme was piney woods, and the place was decidedly Mexican (as was the food) the name on the restaurant is “Vito’s Bar”.

Throwing caution to the wind and since David was driving, I decided instead of my usual lemonade I would go with a screwdriver.  However, I did not know how to say “screwdriver” in Spanish.  I’m only on Lesson Two of Rosetta Stone…sorry.  The waiter, who spoke no English and me, with my questionable Spanish, did this little dance of words and hand gestures trying to figure out what each of us might be trying to communicate.  I ended up with three glasses….one with ice and two tiny straws…..one brandy sifter with a lot of vodka and one long cool glass of orange flavored drink.  I now know the word for screwdriver is destornillador.  I have been cautioned to realize that I might not receive a drink using this terminology.  I might, with good cause, get an even more confused look from the waiter and could possibly receive a gentile suggestion that I would perhaps want to go to a ferreteria (hardware store) for said screwdriver.  I’ll keep you abreast of what happens in the future.

Getting back to the story at hand, David and I had a lovely lunch on the balcony of Vito’s overlooking all the action in the plaza.  We then walked the streets seeing the places of business, the people enjoying the lovely weather and the sights and the sounds of yet another wonderful adventure in old Mexico.

[Note: We did not make it to the waterfall in the Los Cazos neighborhood in Mazamitla nor did we stop to take pictures of the cabins nestled in the pines on the mountainside on this trip.  Our next trip will take us to those places.  Driving at night can be treacherous on the mountain roads after nightfall – even though well-paved.  Further adventures await us!]

Vito's Bar

Vito's Bar

David enjoying the screwdriver debacle.

David enjoying the screwdriver debacle.

Lovely buildings with Alpine exteriors.

Lovely buildings with Alpine exteriors.

Lots to choose from.

Lots to choose from.

Potted flowers line the porches.

Potted flowers line the porches.

The fountain on the plaza.

The fountain on the plaza.

The creative fence blends in so wel with the building.

The creative fence blends in so wel with the building.

A street full of activity.

A street full of activity.

A sidewalk eatery.

A sidewalk eatery.

Event room at a hotel.  What is unique about this is the open ceiling and how it blends with the outdoors.

Event room at a hotel. What is unique about this is the open ceiling and how it blends with the outdoors.

A blend of planters and children's toys.

A blend of planters and children's toys.

Flowers and unique pottery.

Flowers and unique pottery.

An entrance to a hotel with open ceiling and welcoming design.

An entrance to a hotel with open ceiling and welcoming design.

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