Avoid Fruits & Nuts
Jul 19th, 2012 by Les

Winston Churchill was heard to say: “He has all of the virtues I dislike, and none of the vices I admire.”

“We define ourselves, in part, by the discriminations we make.  The value of what we love is enriched by our understanding of what we dislike.”  David Ansen

You are…after all…what you eat, though the fruits and nuts here are fabulous dahling!  I try not to vacillate, opting quite often to simply spew out thoughts that randomly enter my mind only to then step back and watch the havoc they sometimes reek.  For instance, uttering the words: “holy cow, what happened to you?!” aren’t the best chosen words when a friend has just exited the beauty salon, after spending oodles of money on a new do, and it hasn’t turned out as well as she has expected.

OR…saying: “what were you thinking?”  when someone has plunked their butt on a park bench that holds a sign saying “wet paint”.  Statistics claim that the sum of all the stars in the sky is about four billion and people believe it.  But, when someone sees a sign on a park bench stating “wet paint” we must verify this?

Seriously folks, I’m one of those people who will keep going back and opening the door to the frig when I’m hungry fully realizing food is not going to materialize out of thin air.

Consequently sitting down and writing my likes and dislikes (which will hence forth be called “Enjoyed” or “Found Challenging”) in regard to living in Mexico for the past three years…while sounding simple…well, are simply not…simple that is.

Some of the very things that rang my bell when we first got to Ajijic, don’t even faze me in the least now.  I bring to your attention my attitude toward setting appointments and keeping them.  When we first arrived here I was still operating on American time.  Boy was I ever operating on American time…rigid to the extreme…after all, wasn’t my time important…or that of those making the alleged appointment with me?

You set and appointment and you arrive or they arrive within a time frame of five minutes before or after the time specified.  Not so here.  For instance, we had been having some problems with TV and Internet reception of late…before the rains that is because when the rains are here…reception is expected to deteriorate.  Any who, we stopped at Telecable and asked if they’d please send a repair person out to check the connections to our house and the cabling hanging precariously from everywhere above our heads…to our domain.

David, after making the request got in the car and said someone will be out tomorrow between 10:00 a.m. and Noon or so….without batting an eye.  When we first arrived we’d make sure we were here and ready when the repair person got here.  We still do that.  However, now our expectations are less structured for you see, rarely do repair people arrive on time or, for that matter, on the day specified.  Frequently, especially where Telecable is concerned, we will wait a few days and then, when we are out running errands we will stop again, ask for a repair person…be told they will be out tomorrow and go on our merry way.

The difference between when we first arrived here and now is this…we are not even fazed if it takes three stops at Telecable to get someone out here and the fact that they don’t arrive anywhere near the set time doesn’t bother us in the least.  We have learned to relax and go with the flow.  I think Mexican time should be on the good side of the list as it has taught us to slow down and smell the papaya.

Below are my list of things and David’s lists of things we enjoyed or found challenging in no specific order (except mine come first)…just the order in which they have tumbled out of my head and David’s.  As usual, David’s make more sense … not totally unexpected…don’t you think?:


Found Challenging


Les’ Comments….    
Weather   The weather is supposed to be the best in the world outside of Kenya and it is.
People   Friendly, helpful, fun…especially the children.  Pride in their heritage and a great work ethic (just not time oriented like us gringos).
Culture   Such a fascinating culture, such beauty, such color, such tradition.  Such love of life…parades in particular.
Land   Beautiful mountains, sun kissed shores on LakeChapala and the communities around the lake are fixing up their Malecons where you will see entire families enjoying the lake or people taking a lunch break..playing ball…children enjoying swing sets and simply running or riding bikes.
Restaurants   Great food and so much of it
People are Helpful   You can get your car washed while shopping at many places.  People help with putting the groceries into your car.  Young people and elderly people, particularly at Soriana’s in Chapala where the groceries packers are not paid, need to receive a decent tip.
Cost of Living   Not as low as we had expected, particularly if you are looking for items you want from back home, but certainly less then life in the US.
  Short Changing This does not happen all of the time but, in particular, at the Wal-Mart in Ajijic you must always take the time to count your change.  Not everyone does this, most don’t, but, like anywhere there are those who take advantage of most gringo’s not knowing the coinage.(David)If you get a lot of coins in your change, be extra careful. I once was due 80 pesos in change. The checker gave me 15 2 peso coins. I pointed out that this was just 30 pesos, not 80. She quickly whipped a 50 peso note out of the cash drawer. She had known all along that she was cheating me.
  Animal Treatment Abandoned animals…not just abandoned by Mexicans but by gringo’s as well.  No governmental program requiring fixing an animal and a difficult economy where it is often a choice people must make to feed the family before dogs, cats, horses etc.  (This is a particularly difficult subject for me and is hard to see on a regular basis.)
David’s Comments…    
  Decent meat  -sometimes hard to find Almost no decent meat. Don’t expect to find a good hamburger anywhere. Or a good steak.  Pork and chicken usually are very good.
  Few restaurants with a full menu of good items I don’t agree with Les’ assessment that there are plenty of good restaurants here. There are several with good specialties, but few all around good restaurants. However, there are a lot of restaurants, many with wonderful ambiance.
  Drivers. Double parking. People driving backwards down streets Drivers are unpredictable, zipping in and out of lanes much more so than you would see in the states. Double parking. driving backwards down streets are just part of life.(Les)  Lets not forget the horses, mules, donkeys…etc. 
  Traffic and traffic lights Traffic lights – sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t.(Les) replacing light blubs is not a priority in our little village…guessing works!
  Traffic police Traffic cops. It’s not unusual to be pulled over for running a traffic light that wasn’t even working. Pay 200 pesos, about $16
People are not just helpful, they are friendly   People in the grocery stores begin to know you and your likes. Car wash guys in the parking lot wave.
  Cobblestones Much of lakeside is paved, but the Ajijic village luxuriates in cobblestones as part of their heritage. Loose stones, broken sidewalks, all make falling a common experience – don’t walk and gawk
Cost of Shelter   Unbelievable compared to other places.
Other Expats   Plenty of interesting people to get to know.
English Spoken Widely   Spanish is not really needed.
Activities   More than enough things to do

All of the above are things truly off the top of our heads.  In point of fact, we have thoroughly enjoyed our time in the lovely little village of Ajijic on the shores of Lake Chapala in central Mexico and would, beyond a shadow of doubt, recommend it to those considering retirement here.  Yes, there are problems…no country is without.  The US and Canadian Consulates in Guadalajara are constant sources of information and knowledge and should be used by anyone traveling here.  Most of the other embassies and consulates are located in Mexico City, but are available to you online and a short days travel to that location.   If you are considering moving here…you might want to spend a few months visiting, if at all possible, to see if you will like it  before committing to a longer time frame.

Some housekeeping items….

David has been quoted…you can’t miss it as it is on the first page…in the latest edition of informArt  magazine at .. when you have a moment please visit the website.

Isn't She Adorable!

Second, we have a tiny little critter in our midst again.  They arrive in our yard unannounced, but touch our hearts deeply.  This little girl is an all ebony kitten…if she closes her eyes which are yellow in color…you’d miss her.  She is loving, sweet natured, currently healthy and delightfully inquisitive in regard to all that is around her.  Right now she is spending time in David’s studio so that we might keep her safe.  If you are in the area, won’t you please consider adopting this loving animal??  We are unable to rescue her as we have 3 of our own we have rescued…the limit for the home we will be renting in South Carolina.

If you are at all interested, please email me at or call David at 33.3484.9554 (cell).  We are hoping we can find her a home before we leave as all of the shelters are full and others are dealing with feline leukemia.  So sad.

Those are my thought patterns of today…certainly not tethered in reality…reality is so much overrated…don’t you think??  Below are randomly picked photographs with David’s special insight and style…enjoy!


A Beautiful Bell Shot


A View from the Hill


An Angel


A Walk in the Garden


Sunset on Lake Chapala Drifting over the Mountains

Our Collective Mexico
Jul 4th, 2012 by Les

Last month….in our last blog…we listed our beautiful home in Ajijic for lease.  A wonderful couple were all set to lease it when, for health reasons, they had to step back.  The house on Hidalgo is available again with a mid-September rental date.  If you are interested…please visit last month’s blog to see the pictures and email me at  Thank you.

We can learn a lot from a box of crayons; some are sharp, some are pretty; some are dull, while others bright some have weird names, but they all have learned to live together in the same box.

Charles Schulz said: “I think I’ve discovered the secret of life – you just hang around until you get used to it!”

Mexico is a conundrum of sorts.  The media would like to portray it one way we, those of us who live here see it in another and Mexicans born and raised here are immensely proud of their culture and their heritage.  David and I have been reminiscing about our lives in the tiny village of Ajijic over the past three years.

As you know dear reader, I am somewhat of a sod hemorrhaging from my oral orifice at times thoughts that have no rhyme or reason…except to me….not always…but sometimes.  Words tumble around in my head and spew out of my mouth in random order making sense to me…not to others, I’m afraid.  Being crazy isn’t easy….I persevere.

Living in Mexico has been effortless…for the most part.  The colors of every day life are vibrant…emerald greens, cherry apple reds, luscious oranges (both in fruit and color), rich purples…well, you get my drift…one wakes up to beauty most each and every day.

The weather….it has been said only one other place on this earth…Kenya…has a better climate, is without a doubt phenomenal.  I’ve not researched this but would guess the sun shines 98% of the time here.  Rains usually come at night cooling off days that range in temperature from the 70’s to 90 degrees.  Evenings bring perfect sleeping weather…by that I mean we rarely close our screen doors allowing both the refreshing night air to enter in and the sounds of the evening.  Many an evening we have been serenaded to sleep by a chorus of sounds that are hypnotic in nature emanating not from the neighborhood but from our garden full of seriously happy creatures.

The people we have met have been kind, caring, proud of their country, hard working but ready to…well have a parade at a moments notice.  Good humor abounds.  There have been difficult times over the three years we’ve been here…but not many.  Common sense prevails and most days pass quietly.

Sunday, July 1st,  the Mexican people went to the polls to vote.  Whether for the current ruling party (PAN) or the party that ran this country for over 70 years before this (PRI) and hope is apparent.

Consequently, dear reader, I find it almost (key word “almost”) impossible to verbally describe our Mexico.  A while ago our dear friend Mark and his vivacious wife Emmie suggested we collaborate on a video of our life here.  Collaborating meant Mark supplying his fabulous music inspired by literally tripping on the cobblestones and David putting music to photographs in his grand ability to capture every day life in central Mexico on this lake they call Chapala.  Emmie and I added our collective thoughts….neither of us suffering from insanity…both of us enjoying it immensely.  We will be heading to South Carolina in early September to collaborate often with these two wonderful people and dear, dear friends.

Kick back, put your feet up, give yourself some time (it was hard to put this into a shortened version) and enjoy the Mexico each of us have seen with our own eyes, heard with our own ears and fallen in love with in our hearts….

(The slides from Good Friday show images of what looks like golden statues…those status, my friends, are real people painted that color.  Amazing!)

Viva Mexico, celebrating its past, loving its present and looking to its future!

This may take a few minutes to open….please be patient.  Thank you.

(There will be more posts in July and August talking about the fabulously interesting people we’ve met here that form the expat community.  We will share our thoughts on the things we found hardest to get used to…the things we missed….the new things we’ve tried and liked, etc.  All to come in the months ahead…be prepared!  Les)

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