Friday, September 30, 2005

Big Boy Pyjamas

Now tell me... just how cute is a baby in big kid pj's?

Thursday, September 29, 2005

The Herman Family Visit

Here I am!

Another tardy post! With so much going on it's been hard to find time to get at this computer and pound out some words for you guys!

Rob's parents were here for a two week visit which included a lot of pool paddling, Lucas spoiling, and surprisingly quite a lot of tequila drinking. We are afraid we might have sent Rob's dad home with a new found taste for the stuff...! Lots of fun was had by all. They left amidst a huge storm that rocked the coast for three days straight.

The electrical storms were amazing and even though we are true Vancouverites, you have NEVER seen rain like this! Due to really poor infrastructure, the town is just not able to handle the deluges it routinely gets in the rainy season here. You think Vancouver shuts down in a sprinkling of snow? You should see Zihuatanejo with rain! Most of the roads get completely flooded. There are cars with flooded engines everywhere. Shops close, people go home early, umbrellas are the hot ticket item on the corners. We loved every minute of it. Mom and I were so excited to wear pants and not to have to put the air conditioning on. Lucas went for a fantastic puddle jump in the yard in only his diaper and Rob went swimming in the flooded pool without me telling him to stop cannon-balling because we have to keep re-filling it. We ran through the deluge to eat over-priced sushi at Sushi-ito, a section of Senor Frog's. Such fun. The down-side to the rain was the fact that we had to put buckets up all over our house to collect the rain, our puzzle and Settlers game got really wet, one of the fans shorted out after spewing water out of its base (how safe is that?!) and two bathrooms flooded. Nothing unexpected, really. Ah yes, and another very unhappy and very close encounter with an entire army of cockroaches that decided that damp towels was just the place to hang out in after a good rain. When mom and I went to fold them those nasty cucarachas scattered around the living room and climbed up the walls. Lucas laughed as we ran around screaming and stomping; then just about peeing ourselves laughing. The little girls that live next door thought it was great and decided to play "gringas afraid of cucarachas' for the next half hour. I may never heal from the experience of a two-inch coakroach on the back of my hand. Never.

Rob is off in Mexico City this week at a Food and Beverage Convention. Ok, that's just not fair. When I go to a professional day I have to sit and listen to teachers tell me how to teach better. Rob gets to eat and drink his way through booths and booths of people wanting him to buy their product or service. Justly, Mom and I decided we shoud sneak off to Acapulco for a bit of a shop. There is really nothing to buy here in Zihua and seeing as Lucas' big first birthday is arriving next week, we though we should make the journey.

The drive was breathtaking both because of the scenery and the daring drivers all over the road. People use their signals in ways I am still not entirely sure of. Hazard lights are all the rage here. They can mean, "there's a speed bump coming," or "there's a herd of cows on the road" or "please pass me" or "please don't pass me" or " I just might stop here" or"I just forgot to turn them off." Caution at all costs is my motto! The art of passing on the one lane highways had mom holding on to her holy-shirt bar with white knuckles, but when in Rome... Don't let the motor vehicle branch know or they may revoke my class four! Actually, I think I had several drivers shaking there heads in wonder as I used my signals and actually chose not to pass sometimes! I discovered that if you wait for the next speed bump, you can sneak into the oncoming lane and go over the speed bump just a little faster, thus making your move on whatever cattle-mover, tractor or bus was impeding your view of the coast ;P

Acapulco was really nothing special in our eyes. We had been once before many years ago and seen the touristy stuff, so we were really just trying to get the practical stuff done. Like go to Costco, you know. We managed to fill every nook and cranny of the truck with stuff for Lucas and the house. The bellboys at the hotel were very curious about why two women and a small child, driving a truck with BC plates, were buying large toys and saran wrap.

Tomorrow we will spend the day hiding all our purchases from Lucas' little fingers and Rob's bewildered looks. (He's really not looking forward to moving again and is trying to keep us from buying stuff we'll have to you think he'll find the Costco-sized olive oil?!) We'll also be getting ourselves ready for our visit from George, Justine and Logan who arrive on Saturday. We're sure they'll help us consume a few of our purchases!

I will try and post more photos when I can, but I often don't seem to be able to get them up. Oh, and by the way, I know there must be people reading this from time to time. Drop me a line! It's awfully lonely writing into cyber-space when you're not entirely sure people are reading!

Monday, September 19, 2005

First Step for the Little Man

Sorry I haven't written in a few days. We've had a very busy week with Rob's parents visiting from Vancouver. Lucas is thrilled to have all the attention and overjoyed us all by taking his first few unassisted steps for everyone to see. He walked between Rob and I to get another toy and laughed along with us in excitement when we cheered. Since then he has taken a few more tentative steps, but is not quite ready to give up his speedy crawling around. It truly is amazing how fast he is growing up right now. I feel like every day he is achieving something dramatiaclly new. He "coloured in" a picture I drew for him on the weekend, now says' "da" meaning dog very clearly, and has sprouted teeth faster than a pubescent boy sprouting hair. Mmmm....I guess we still have that to look forward to! He is developing a really great personality laced with minor temper tantrums. He seems to have inherited my goofy sense of humour and can scream along in unison when I do my monkey impersonation. Rob LOVES that(tee hee)! We can't believe that a year has almost passed with him in our lives. We are so blessed and proud; as I'm sure all new parents are!

Yesterday we took the day to drive inland up to a colonial town called Patzcuaro. We couldn't have picked a better day as the town was filled with people, dancers, music, balloons and life for their anniversary celebration. It was one of the most beautiful towns in Mexcio that Rob and I have ever seen, reminding us a lot of San Cristobal in Chiapas. The climate was a little cooler, allowing us to have a lovely walk around the town admiring the architecture and ample crafts for sale. Rob and I purchased an incredible painting of the Virgen of Guadalupe (one of our favorites) to one day bring home. Quite a treat. Mom, of course, went wild buying loot for George, Jus and Logan, as well as a basket for her quilting things and various other little knick-knacks. Rob's parents got their first chance to see a truly authentic Mexican market and town, and were suitably impressed, I believe. Our only regret all day was that we were too full to eat from the abundant ceviche de camaron stands (shrimp cocktail) and we had to leave it until our next visit. We hope to return for the Day of the Dead on the 2nd of November. Patzcuaro is famed for its celebrations. Rob and I can't imagine anything more spectacular than what we saw for the Day of the Dead in Oaxaca, so I'm sure it will be incredible.

Monday, September 12, 2005

How's Mom?

Many of you wanted to know...

I hope this answers it! She's great (and brown as you can see.)

10 hour Chiles Rellenos

In anticipation of the arrival of Rob's parents, I decided that I would attempt at making Chiles Rellenos (stuffed poblano peppers,) a traditional meal here. So after Lucas went down for his nap on Saturday morning, I got going on prepping the meal. I ended up having to recruit both mom and Rob and the recipe still took until eight o'clock at night to complete - with very little break in between! It was a comedy of errors mostly involving ardous meat shredding, copious pepper dicing, dangerous pepper grilling, de-seeding and stuffing, trying to beat egg whites without a mixer and deep frying while trying to keep them stuffed. I got out of touching any peppers due to previous disasters involving contact lenses, so poor Rob took the brunt of it. He tried everything to get rid of the stinging; lemon juice, sugar, soap, no avail. The battering and frying was a scary sight, but in the end the peppers were absolutely delicious and suprisingly not too spicy! For us, anyhow...Pillo woke up in the wee hours of the morning vomiting up stolen poblano pepper ends. Needless to say, we decided that we would not be cooking them again anytime soon.

Friday, September 09, 2005


This little angel has teeth that can really pack a punch now! After waiting months for the gift of pearly whites to arrive, Lucas is using his chompers to chomp anything he can; including mommy. This morning he left me with a good bite on my shoulder not unlike that of a vampire. Broke the skin. Ouch. Remedies anyone? I seem to leave him in tears when I cry out and say no! Notice the glee in his face in the photo? I can't actually catch a picture with is teeth in it, of course!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

A New Home and Fresh Prawns

Well, it's official, we are now moving into town. We are very relieved to have signed a one-year lease. It feels like we have moved so many times in the last four months or so. It will be good to settle in for a while. The new house has three bedrooms, four bathrooms, and two kitchens. Rob is very excited about finally having a a beer fridge to call his own. Although there are a lot of stairs (being on a steep cliff) it is quite baby-proofable with only a few gates. (We hope!) We are pleased that there is a an air-conditioned sitting room and kitchen downstairs so we can seal ourselves away in a climate controlled bubble when the heat gets to be too much. Right now we only have air conditioning in the bedrooms, so cooking and meals can feel a bit like an exercise in patience. The house also has several lovely patios, one of which is completey shaded and has high enough walls that Lucas can putter about outside without danger. We hope to find a swing or something to hang up. We have a small shaded dip pool (we are going to have to take a crash course on pool maintenance I think!) and apparently we are a stone's throw away from Playa Contramar, which is a pebbley beach. It sounds like the perfect place for a quiet dog walk. If we walk in the other direction we can cross over a bridge over the canal and be right downtown. Across the street from us are a couple of nice restaurants. We are all looking forward to exploring the area when the time comes.

Another happy thing; we found the 'real' market this morning. Mom and Lucas and I took a wrong turn the other day and thought we glimpsed some action. So this morning we returned and parked. We were delighted to find queso fresco, brillliant flor de calabaza, fresh corn on the cob, fragrant papayas and HEAPS OF FRESH PRAWNS!!! We couldn't pass by the kilo for 90 pesos (about $9 US) so we came home pleased as could be with our coveted goods. Next week we plan to return to buy some fresh fish for dinner. They scale and gut them for you as you watch. Fantastic.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Topes from hell

It is the strangest phenomenon; Mexico is littered with speed bumps (or topes.) In lieu of anything else resembling speed control, topes pop up where you least suspect them and are rarely marked or even painted. Sometimes they consist of smaller bumps every foot or so for twenty yards or more. They occur on exit ramps off the highway, after lights, on deserted roads, and on the fast routes into town. How ridiculous is it to take the fast route into work in the morning only to have to maneouver over four topes in a four block section?

There are several methods to managing topes; some go slowly, some just keep on driving at the same speed, some drive right around them onto the sidewalk at which pedestrians don't even blink an eye, others, like us, try their best to take them slowly, but have missed seeing several in time and now are sheepishly taking their truck into the shop to get "that horrible sound when we go over bumps" checked out. Oops. Thank goodness there's a Nissan dealership here. You should have seen the look of concentration on Mom's face as she tried to dredge up the Spanish word for shocks!

On the brighter side we have almost signed a contract on a new house for a year's lease. It is a gorgeous thing up a steep cobblestone road perched high on the cliff above the bay of Zihuatanejo. We will be within walking distance of the centro and is also a much shorter commute for Rob. The bay beneath the road is where the boats come in with their catch in the mornings. Chola and Pillo are in for some interesting morning walks! We plan to move on the 14th of October.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Happy Anniversary!

We visited a fantastic restaurant last night to celebrate our third wedding anniversary. The place is called Amuleto and is perched high above the bay of Zihuatanejo. You follow a precarious and steep winding road to reach it. At one point you pass a large mass of rocks that appear to have been left in the middle of the road during construction. The road compensates by widening along this part on either side. Quite frightening if you are driving at a good speed in the pitch black! We passed a racoon (maybe) and later what Rob thought was a ferret but I suspect was a cat with the bad fortune of having lost a great portion of its tail fur!

Amuleto appears to be a private residence. You must book ahead and then buzz to be let in by a security guard. They only have four tables and were quite worried when we booked for 8:30 because they already had an eight o'clock reservation! The view was absolutely spectacular and the food was heavenly. I had eggplant with goat cheese to start, prawns with a mango coconut curry for my main, and profiteroles stuffed with vanilla ice cream. Yum. Rob had tuna sashimi, steak and fries, and coconut ice cream. We also drank a bottle of a surprisingly lovely Texan wine. I believe it was called Zaragoza - but Rob might laugh at me when he reads that!

Amuleto also has five rooms perched on the cliff; they are open entirely to the ocean and each have their own private dip pool. They sound quite spectacular, although a bit remote for my taste. I suppose it would be a perfect honeymoon retreat?

It was a fabulous night in all even though the pressure of trying to add the tip to the bill under close scrutiny by the flashlight-bearing waiter was a little too much to handle by both Rob and I. (We ended up tipping more so it would be easier to calculate! A tactic?!) We would highly recommend a visit for dinner to anyone coming down to see us!

Friday, September 02, 2005

Rare Animal Tracks

Do you recognize the marks of this rare species? Perhaps only a very keen eye will. Look carefully for distinguishing marks such as length of stride, shape and appearance of moisture.

Have you figured it out?

Of course! It's a rare amphibious Lucas who has covertly snuck out of the swimming pool to help himself to a snack. Grapes are a well known treat for this species.

What a National Geographic moment to catch this specimen at its feast!

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Late Nights and Early Mornings

So last night Rob and I were invited to a birthday party of one of Rob's colleagues. We knew that it would start late, so we left the house at nine. We enjoyed a few beer, some very smooth tequila and a whiff of some scorpion vodka (three scorpions in the bottom - drink more than a shot and you'll absorb the character of the scorpions...) ate some cake, sang las mananitas (birthday song) and we were off. As we were leaving at quarter to twelve, everyone began arriving. Ah well; Rob had to get up early for work. Yet the mystery is that so did everyone else, and they were just starting. So after six short hours of sleep we started another day contemplating the wonders of this never-sleeping culture. Or so it seems.