Only Nine More Shopping Days

I cannot recall many books made into films done quite so many times as Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” The Calypso Couple took on the arduous task of watching all (or as many as we could get our hands on) to declare a “Best Production” version.

First published in 1843 “the novella met with instant success and critical acclaim. Carol tells the story of a bitter old miser named Ebenezer Scrooge and his transformation into a gentler, kindlier man after visitations by the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Yet to Come.”

A Crowd Pleaser Contender: Bill Murray’s “Scrooged”

It took Dickens six weeks to churn out this classic and it was an immediate success and money maker. It has been made into operas, stage plays and radio programs as well as numerous film versions. First film version with sound was made in 1935 starring Sir Seymour Hicks as Scrooge.  An early favorite made in 1938 starred Reginald Owen. There is an all-star cast and perhaps that early-on one is best? But we wanted to watch as many as possible reserving judgment. You have to search around for other titles such as “Scrooge” or “Scrooged” etc.

Sir Seymour Hicks, Alistair Sim, Albert Finney, Rich Little, Jim Carrey, George C. Scott, Bill Murray, Henry Winkler, Michael Caine, Patrick Stewart and Mickey Mouse all played Scrooge. Here is a list that is still longer and will surprise you as to the variety of people that have taken the part.  (Look HERE)

We still have a few to watch before announcing our favorite. But maybe you already know yours and would like to comment on it; or perhaps you know of some obscure version not mentioned here? So do not be a Scrooge – get with the program and submit your vote for favorite production of the Dickens classic.  Stay Tuned!

As The Pipes Twist And Turn

A BIG house sits directly to the west of us – we have the same size lots, but that house pretty much covers the entire plot footprint. You might note that in Mexico there is much construction that covers nearly or all of the foot print of a lot. Truly they build on property line to property line and then up.

This BIG three or four story house is for sale and has been for more than a year. Current asking price is $338,000. (Casa For Sale HERE) That is a very large number in our little part of paradise. Realistically it is three blocks from the same Pacific Ocean that fronts Malibu, California. There you can pay two million dollars for an equivalent casa that also comes with a twenty thousand dollar annual property tax bill.

There is little to no zoning/code rules here – and the construction quality (or lack thereof) is apparent with just a little bit of looking. Take for instance this slight-of-pipe feature:

Four 90 Degree turns in the space of two feet – hmm!

What rational thinking plumber would do this to get around an existing pipe – yikes! I could give you a lot of reasons to not spend 338 thousand plus of your hard earned money on the place next-door. The only real advantage is we are nice neighbors (BUT NOT NECESSARILY QUIET).

I HAVE YET TO SHOW YOU the NEW 400 WATT JBL SUBWOOFER – woof woof!

Adding Some Bottom

You can overlook a lot when there is a great view and the sound of the Pacific Ocean filling your rooms (when the music isn’t). Our homes here on the sand must be earthquake resilient, hurricane hearty and salty-humid-air resistant. Those forces aside living at sea’s edge is terrific.

The 320 plus days a year sun bathed location with gentle breezes cleaning away the vestiges of vehicle emissions and brush burners is pretty terrific not even mentioning the fabulous sunsets.  Stay Tuned!

Face of Change

Last night the Calypso Couple attended the gala grand opening ceremonies held on behalf of the opening of the new Rockaway Hotel and shops including a high-tech gym. It does not open without controversy.

The local officials were there. Many of the contractors and their wives. Some press and of course members of the partnership which hails from New York City. There were fireworks, hors d’oeuvres, beacon lights in the street, live Mariachi Band and the elegance of a new stately hotel.

There was an old Rockaway bar and hotel (Rockaway Surfer Village Hotel) on the very same chunk of real-estate (some of Puerto’s best – right across from what was called Rockaway beach, now Zicatela).  The former Rockaway was purchased by the current group of New York Italians about 10 years ago.

Monogrammed Towels – A Touch of Class

For the longest time, the Rockaway which includes a hip-little package store, was a hangout for regulars with a poolside palapa covered circular bar. There was live music and frivolity almost nightly. The crowd was typically blue-collar hippie – guys with ponytails and gals with colorful tie-dyed moo moo’s  - a lot of them cigarette users right up to its end about a year ago.

New Improved Rockaway Hotel. Puerto Escondido

Before the ribbon cutting ceremony one of the partner owners who introduced himself to me as being from New York characterized the change of the Rockaway as “bittersweet”. We agreed.

Only person in the room with a ball cap – hmm your escritor gets caught by the camera..

He went on to explain that since their ownership some ten years back they had difficulty renting rooms due to the reputation and loud nature of a locals bar with live music being in the front courtyard of your hotel room. Only a wild-haired surfer could love such accommodations and they were more likely to be sleeping out on the beach rather than renting a room.

In conversation the owner asked where we lived and when he learned we not only live in Puerto but had spent plenty of nights enjoying the music and libations of the Rockaway’s former life, he remarked, “I guessed when I saw you that you might have been from the old gang of patrons”. Kind of a backdoor compliment I thought – after all I am still the bearer of a hippe ponytail and I guess could admit I dress for the part.

The owner was short, stocky and dressed New Yorker casual (pretty glaring amongst the mostly shorts and Hawaiian shirt crowd.  You could pick the New Yorkers out which was confirmed at the ribbon cutting ceremony which also included a priest (bishop?) in full regalia garb.

In typical Mexican fashion much of the high-tech production was fumbled through. One 50 inch television simply could not be set to play the before and after montage video. I am sure a lot of effort went into the video which was difficult to see on one working 50” monitor amongst a crowd of more than 100. Sorry – the high-tech gear is starting to roll in to Mexico – but few have learned how to use it correctly yet.

Rooms start at $130 USD up to $400.00 for a penthouse suite. You won’t necessarily get a feeling of Mexico at the new, posh Rockaway Hotel, but you also won’t be lacking in stateside accommodations – you pick.

There are several grand hotels completed or in the works here in Puerto.  These accommodations are certainly for a different clientele than the European backpacker to California surfer.

Puerto is changing image (or trying to) with the advent of the almost finished highway which will get Mexico City’s upper crust here in less than three hours where it used to be about eight. There is a lot banking on an influx of high rollers. Time will tell. In the meantime come on down – we will find a place for you ;-) Stay Tuned!

Beware of Vipers!
Roca Blanca

Dateline Sunday Afternoon: We just returned from a 60 mile scooter ride. We visited Roca Blanca which is west of here about 30 miles. It is a beautiful stretch of beach. HOWEVER there is a negative. The tienda owners are like a bunch of vultures coming on to you like you’re road kill. And they are about as pleasant about it as one might expect a hungry vulture seeking comida might be.

A lot of WOW FACTOR at Roca Balanca Beach!

This aggressive behavior makes one uncomfortable. Having experienced their fervor the first time we visited that required moving our car twice. Then we wrote, “Competition for clientele is fierce. Before we could park our car several hawkers nearly prostrated themselves across the hood of our Jetta.”

 This time we were on our puny little scooter – but did not avoid someone rushing out as we had nearly walked to the water’s edge demanding we move the parked scooter to make way for large vehicles wanting to park there. Anticipating this we had parked well away from everything, but…. We ignored this and walked on as we were pretty sure we were parked on public turf and if not we certainly were not blocking any chance for a mammoth bus to swing around and park (wishful thinking on their part in any case).

While the beach is spectacular, after a few minutes walking up the entire area, we decided to head to more friendly climes back towards Puerto.

Tonight there are big doings with the grand opening of the new improved Rockaway Hotel. The weather is as good as it gets (which is Specatcular!). Next time we go beach hunting we will head east on the coast highway. Stay Tuned!.

Follow The Action
Hang On

 While we are working with comparisons about ten days ago someone on our local Forum posted a translated article titled: OECD Evaluation: How does Mexico rate?Calypso Cliff Notes: OECD was created in 1961. It is made up of 34 countries with headquarters in Paris, France. The published mission of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is “to promote policies that will improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world”.If you are above ground you probably know there is a lot of turmoil going on in Mexico right now.  Currently there seems to be a common thread regarding police brutality in both the United States and Mexico. As has often been noted we do not get involved in political matters here in Mexico. Of course we have our positions and even stands.
The following article was copied from a previously published article.

Republished from Proceso translated by Brittany for Mexico Voices. It is word for word save one word which is not supposed to show up in polite society.

Mexico Goes From Bad to Worse: OECD Study

Comparison serves as a tool for knowing if we are okay, if we are staying the same, or improving. Hence, it is interesting to analyze international studies. Let’s see how the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) evaluates Mexico in the most recent examination of its members.


First. Obviously, our country is the most unstable of all the members. Brazil and Russia are positioned slightly better. In contrast, Japan is the most stable. While in the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, and Poland the number of people who claim to have suffered any crime is under 2%, in Mexico, it’s 12.8%, reflecting the severe problem that shakes the Republic, which is also one of the countries lowest in income and equality.

In Mexico, according to the OECD, annual family income is $12,850. That is, of course, if the wealth were shared equally. Since it’s not, the gap between the richest and poorest is very large: the top 20% receive at least 13 times more than the bottom 20%, making Mexico a severely unequal nation.

By that same logic, Mexicans work 2,226 hours a year—the OECD average is 1,765 hours—to make a far lower salary than the other members of the organization.

Although Mexico devotes a large part of its budget to education, the results are extremely low. In fact, only 36% of citizens between the ages of 25-64 have a middle school education, which is far from the average: 75%. This is the country with the lowest education levels in the OECD, while Finland has the highest. Regarding the quality of reading and math levels, the Mexican Republic achieved 417 points, while the average is 497. An important fact is that Mexican women leave school at one percentage point higher than men.

Second. In Mexico, life expectancy has gone up to 74 years; even so, it is less than the average of 80 years. Women have a life expectancy of 77, while men’s is 71. Regarding air contamination, Mexico also fares poorly. The level of PM10 atmospheric particles—those are contaminants in the air that enter the lungs and can damage them—is at 28.9 micrograms per cubic meter, much higher than the average of 20.1 micrograms. Don’t even mention the quality of the water: 20% less drinkable than the average of OECD countries.

Even in personal relationships, Mexicans trust less (as Samuel Ramos and Octavio Paz have documented) than in other parts of the world. In fact, 68% of nationals say they have someone whom they can confide in as needed, while the average is 84%.

One of the great contributions of Mexican simulation is the voter card that one gets because it serves as identification and is free, rather than to exercise the right to vote. Not having a voter’s card is almost like civic death. Nonetheless, Mexico has a participation in elections of 63%, below the 72% average.

Third. Although the previous indicators emphasize that our country has a large window of opportunities for improvement, surprisingly the OECD study confirmed that Mexicans are more satisfied with their lives (82% say they have positive experiences on a normal day—feelings of peace, satisfaction with their achievements, etc.) than the average of 76%.

This fact is worrisome because it reflects either a problem in the survey sample taken by the Gallup polling company or a serious state of denial or avoidance of reality by Mexicans, a large discrepancy between objective quality of life and perceived quality of life. If what Gallup affirmed for the OECD is true, we will have the PRI [Party of the Institutional Revolution] around for awhile, because the most important thing is not the living truth, but the perceived truth.

Mexicans could use the following saying when asked “How are you?”, responding between jokes and glances:

“F—-d, but happy.”

Could it be? END

A lot to think about there and some truth. Stay Tuned!

Comparison Shopping

We are going to do some comparison studies between Mexico and the United States in the next couple Blog entries. I think they are fun. And of course absolutely mandatory when consider taking that giant step – moving to Mexico.

These days Mexico is a less popular destination. We often wonder if we would still have moved here under the current conditions and popularity rating. I am guessing yes, but we know those that have returned to their origin country or even yet a different country due to the lawlessness and killings round these parts.

These issues have not touched us in anyway here, although virtually all our friends have experienced thievery in some form or another while in Mexico. I think our luck is enhanced with good precaution and awareness. We did have the damage to our car incident which would not have gone down that way in the U.S.

My brother-in-law returned to the States after living here for the better part of two years. He will tell you that he returned because he found his two children to be unexpectedly with child (the boy’s wife actually). His daughter has already had her’s and the son’s wife is due any day now – so two new grand kids which have altered his life style. We have an unmarried son that I would dearly love to see have a child, but he seems to be having too much fun as a 25 year old single male living in Southern California. But I digress.

Mexican inflation has dimmed the shine of being here just a bit. It is still costlier to live north of the Rio Bravo – but the gap is ever closing.

Still shining through is our infatuation for tequila. We are not sauce savages or anything, but we like a cocktail or two pretty much daily. We do not add to our consumption on weekends (every day is Saturday here) or holidays or imbibe greater at festivities – just two drinks mostly every day is our habit and limit.

In the U.S. this ritual comes at a price. There the  ubiquitous Jose Cuervo 750 ml bottle is about $24.00 usd. Thus a liter is $32, 00. You can occasionally find liter bottles in Las Vegas and other parts of the United States, where as in Mexico, liter or greater sizes are the norm. U.S. marketers have probably strategized that more bottles sell at the $24 price point than the more costly $32 even though the price per milliliter is the same.

Jarana Tequila which is comparable to Jose Curevo, and a bit more to our liking, costs 109 pesos a liter these days; inflated from 86 a few years back; better than 25 percent increase in that time. 86 pesos was about $8.25 in U.S. dollars (usd) or more than 3 times cheaper here – yahoo! Each visit back to the U.S. has us cringing at the price difference as the ritual continues.

Staring down the barrel of more than 25 percent inflation in the last five years here in Mexico with the change in dollars to pesos, about 1 dollar yielding 10 pesos to its current trend of 1 dollar getting nearly 14 pesos has softened that blow considerably. Lately we have been enjoying a 2.5 year high exchange rate. See for yourself HERE

So that brings us to today’s comparison: Saturday we learned that as of Friday there was a 20% off all liquor at our local Chedraui supermarket (known here as Super Che). We were in need of restocking the bar so the time was most fortuitous.

Off we scooted. Below you see our bounty which was hauled on the little red scooter – a mix of 12 liter bottles of Jarana and Jose Cuervo (we bought all the Jarana available). Each liter bottle cost an average of $5.75 usd! That is compared to the same hooch in the U.S. costing $32 plus sale tax

Clearly a cheerful condition. Cheers and Viva Mexico!

Setting the Tone

Within Pentatonic scales Major Tones will usually sound resolved and happy. Minor Tones will usually sound more sad and dissonant.

In keeping with our music theme we introduce two new categories for your sorting pleasure. Let us start out with some good news and Major Tones.

The weather is as good as it gets right now. Highs are in the low 80’s and lows in the low 70’s – you have got to love that although it puts a different feel on Christmas music which we love here at Casa Calypso – so much of that incorporates snow, fireplaces and sleigh bells on sleds. Christmas music begins here on Thanksgiving Day and ends mid-January.

Yesterday, also a perfect weather day we barbecued fresh mahi-mahi (/ˈmɑːhiːˈmɑːhiː/) or common dolphinfish … Also known in these parts as dorado.  This is a white fish meat and more flavorful than many white meat fish. Yum!

Calypso Couple Cool Patio – OPEN venue

There is a barbecue lurking out there

40 year old barbecue (old enough to smoke)

Fish on! Mahi Mahi or Dorado

Big fishing tournament ended and the crowds heads this way for the holidays. Some photos from the event:

Mucho Musica!

One Way to COOL-OFF

Big Bucket of Coronas

These little ones should have been released.

Fresh from the sea (just a few yards out)

Yum! 100 pesos a plate (7.50 usd)

Guapa Esposa enjoys the day.

No blazing fireplaces or snow scenes here in our little slice of paradise – but we still enjoy the tunes which brings us to another positive: The Pentatonix. A mostly a cappella group of five vocalists originating from Arlington, Texas. We will give them MAJOR TONE status ;-)

The peso to dollar exchange is at a two and a half year high. This offsetting inflation which is close to the same – good for we expats, not so great for our Mexican friends and neighbors.

Time to get out the Christmas decorations.

Stay Tuned!

Luna Rossa Pizzeria

A real wood burning pizza oven!

Pizza is a universal food favorite. Puerto Escondido is no exception to that. There are numerous pie venues throughout our beach community.

The colonial Bacocho is at the western end of Puerto Escondido. Like our area, La Punta (on the far eastern end), there are two main entrances from the Coastal Highway. It has a history of and arguably thought to be the higher end properties of Puerto, although the roads are miserable (especially for a scooter). At the back end (southern) is a mile or so strip called The Rinconada. Think strip mall.

Here there is a branch of the popular Cafecito Restaurant on Calle El Morro along the Zicatela strip. There is a specialty beers store and an upscale market where all-things-Costco can be found. There are designer furniture stores and many restaurants. At the west end is one of the areas better restaurants “Paris”.  About mid-way along the Riconada strip next to Cafecito is Luna Rossa pizzeria. Arguably (pizza always is) the best pizza in town.

Luna Rossa Pizzeria

Luna Rossa changed hands recently. From a dining standpoint it was a seamless transition. New owner and Chef Bruno Agliatti a native of the Piedmont Region of Italy (think wine country), also arguably, serves the best pasta dishes in town.

Chef and Proprietor Bruno Agliatti

Arguments aside Luna Rossa is highly recommended from our perspective and taste buds point of view.

Scrumptious fresh veggies and cheese atop excellent pie crust

Menu Page 1 HERE

Menu Page 2 HERE

Menu Page 3 HERE

Menu Page 4 HERE

Luna Rossa Pizzeria is on calle Benito Juárez 8 on the Rinconada, next to the restaurant Cafecito. Open 2:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Closed Mondays. Call ahead and take out (954) 104 2181

STAY TUNED!

Señor Salud in Costa Chica

Rock N’ Roll provided an early opportunity to become a home owner for me. My first casa was an older two story doll house in Laurel Canyon, in the Hollywood hills. I have stories…but I digress.

Down at the bottom of the Canyon right on Laurel Canyon Boulevard where I would turn up to my street was the now famous and historical Canyon Country Store. It was rather magical even then.

The Canyon Country Store Today

The Canyon Country Store has been the makeshift cultural center of Laurel Canyon for a full century. Immortalized in the Doors song “Love Street,” this deli-market is not a venue, but it’s got historical music importance to spare, and continues to be – as my long ago deceased friend Jim Morrison put it – the “store where the creatures meet.”

A few of my neighbors in 1967

Now here we are The Calypso Couple these MANY years later living at the bottom of Mexico, and we have such a store right here – really. O.K. calling it magical may be a bit over the top, but the fact that I am able to put the two places together in my head is good enough.

The Front of Senor Salud’s

This “canyon” store is in the flatlands far beyond the beach and in the heart of housing; casas built property line to property line. The lyrics from one of my Laurel Canyon neighbors swirls around in my noggin “They paved paradise to put up a parking lot with a pink hotel… oooh bop bop bop – Joni Mitchell’s ‘Yellow Taxi’” Our little ‘country’ store here in Puerto has incense, homemade cheese and handmade soap among other same products.  It is the closest thing to hippie that you will get here in terms of commerce.

The Menu is on the Doors

Today Mexico celebrates the Mexican Revolution of 1910 commemorating the start of the Mexican Revolution. There are parades which include political banners and placards relating to more current events. A good day to stay home for an expat couple.

Our new red scooter (still un-named) makes us more adventurous in that we can usually scoot around or at least to the front of any line of traffic. Of course we can always find a place to park. So in spite of safety concerns on this day we ventured out to get the best baked bread, bar none, in Puerto. This would be at Señor Salud’s little ‘country’ store over in the west end of town. Located in a colonia (fraccionamiento ) called “Costa Chica”.

Señor Salud carries nuts, cheese; coffee; natural tooth paste, soap mosquito repellant; homemade pasta, homemade bread and more. Placing our safety aside we go for the bread.

There is also a narrow window as to if and when Señor Salud’s have fresh baked bread. Currently get there around 9:30 AM and they could be sold out by 10:30 AM. Best to call before going there.

We have tried their excellent homemade cheese and their two varieties of fresh pasta. This comes in a ball-like mass; boil for 9 to 12 minutes depending on your texture requirement (we do the 9 liking our pasta al dente).

The owners are a charming couple. He, best guess is Italian, and she Mexican. It is a friendly zone (as is most of Puerto) and welcome by we gringos that are made to feel a little more like home with the many healthy items and food available there. It is highly recommended. If you have any Doors tunes slide one into your player in front of Senor Saluds – it might just magically take you back to a better time.  PEACE.

El Señor Salud (Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca)

Avenue Costa Chica esq. con Triunfo 441

Fraccionamiento Costa Chica
Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca
Teléfono: 954 582 1581
Email (Correo electrónico): corresevelia21@gmail.com

Stay Tuned we are going to review a fantastic pizza place with wood fired oven.

SEE SHORE

A guitar string broke today – “E” of course (the skinniest one). Things rust here – including guitar strings. Humidity and oxidation are part of beach life.

We had very specific requirements in that we did not want to live at beach’s edge. Our friend Charlie does – yet he is 150-200 yards away which breaks the connection perhaps just enough..

Charlie’s Beach

That said, we like living close enough to hear the waves slapping land. Sometimes we can feel the waves slamming to earth. We realized what a great benefit that is – to hear and feel the power of the ocean without having to live right on the beach is quite the bonus.

We are four blocks up from the Point – lucky to be here.

Our View thru the palms

The Point from our point of view – Casa La Punta Es

 

“I wanted to feel, smell, hear and see, but not see with my eyes and my mind only. I wanted to see with Cante Ista —with the eye of the heart.”

~ Lame Deer, Lakota Holy Man

Stay Tuned!