Bearing Fruit

Today we had a wonderful 12 mile drive on the scooter which included brunch in Coatepec and then a visit to our local market. I am not particularly adept at clipping and using coupons for marketing.  Add to the fact that my command of the Spanish language is marginal at best. Our local (in both locations) super market chain is Chedraui; a very large conglomerate.  They have a number of ways to present a sale or benefit for being a regular customer.

Avocadoes are a life’s blood food in the Calypso household. The price of the emerald green globes has been one of the measuring devices for cost-of-living in Mexico. In the good ol’ days we could buy a pound of avocadoes for about 40 cents on a good day. Individual avocadoes were sometimes under 25 cents (U.S.) for a medium large Hass. This when U.S. health food stores might be marketing the same hass avocado for $2.00 usd.

About a Kilo of Hass Avocados

Today a pound of good looking medium large Hass ‘cados are 53 cents usd. That is under 24 cents usd per avocado.

That ladies and gentlemen is as good as it gets. And lest we forget I was able to use a coupon valued at 12.25 pesos. So one kilo or 2.2 pound or 5/6 medium large avocados cost 6.65 pesos or about 40 cents usd. That is a bargain!

Today the weather is a perfect 78 F; sunny with just a hint of a breeze. I am going to go make some guacamole and listen to some Jackson Browne. Life is good!

Stay Tuned!

Settling In

After a long trip (2.5 months in this case) it takes a bit to settle in. Today Saturday is our 6th day back. We have accomplished getting all systems working. The kitchen functions as usual, although our 30 year old microwave is officially dead. Back in that day our top of the line Panasonic convection microwave was about $700.usd. As I remember this included a week of cooking lessons,  They are more compact and less expensive these days.  We are on the lookout.

I have managed to play five of my six guitars. I have been on a drop D tuning jag. I like the chords that work with that different tuning. My goto guitar is turning from my Taylor 214ce to my newest guitar; a Martin Custom GC DSR. A modest priced Martin that is as far as I can tell one of the best bang for the buck guitars around; as was the Taylor 214.

Simple yet lovely she has nice lines. The guitar is my first all solid wood acoustic. Top is Sitka Spruce. Sides and bottom are East Indian Rosewood with a Rosewood fret board and bridge. I am now in the camp of believers that all solid wood guitars are better than anything with laminated sides and bottom. The sustain on the Martin is quite remarkable. This particular one rivaled all competition until the $5,0000 usd class and up guitars were compared. Color me a happy Martin owner (my second – recently sold my Martin Backpacker).

In other local news the recently devalued peso is presenting some low prices on grocery items. One has to wonder if this is a temporary blip or will the peso never see less than 16 exchanged for one U.S. dollar?

I had to brag to my Capitan, NM neighbor about the price of a 12 pack of Corona beers (George’s drink of choice there). We were paying around $14 usd PLUS tax NOB. Yesterday we bought a 12 pack in Coatepec for $7.43 usd out the door – wow! Avocados which have been on a wicked increase in the last year seem to have settled at a whopping 30 pesos a kilo – but the pain is lessened by the 16 plus pesos to the dollar or $1.87 a kilo (85 cents usd per pound). This works out to about 38 cents usd for a medium large Hass.

One of our choice specialty foods that is just so much better than anything less is maple syrup. In the U.S. the Calypso Couple had resigned themselves to paying 6.50 to 8.50 usd for a rather small bottle – but it was just a necessary expense. We avoided the 18 to 20 dollars usd exchange cost here in Mexico. I mean that is just too much money when pancake syrup costs more than Grand Marnier.

Out the door our yesterday grocery purchases totaled 900 pesos. We came home thinking that seemed high – until we converted that to U.S. dollars coming out to about $52 usd. That equated to not a bad haul and a darn sight better than what it all would have tallied north of the border. Food is still a bargain here in Mexico as was our 300 peso ($18.75 usd) Mexican hotel room the other night.

This is a good time to visit Mexico and even a better time to be living here. Come on down the water is fine (5 gallon garaphon of clean filtered water for 10 pesos (63 cents usd).  Stay Tuned!

Viva Puerto Magazine
Viva Batman Italika

In the what-have-we-been-up-to department: Well mostly living LARGE in the Mexican Beach Colony known here about as La Punta (The Point). This is a community within the Puerto Escondido city that is located at the southeast end of Puerto Escondido. It is in fact at a point at the southern end of the about 5 miles crescent cut into the southern coastline of Mexico. You can see it from Space.  We cannot hide even though our name would lead one to believe we are hidden – far from it.

We coined our very clever house Casa La Punta Es! (Our House IS the Point) I know…you have to first entertain yourself before you can do that to others – what is it, “Do unto others as you would have done unto you.”?

In the news a new tome of Viva Puerto Magazine (and E’Zine) is on newsstands and many public locations around Puerto. It is also available right here by just clicking the link HERE.

Our community is lucky to have such a professionally produced and information packed periodical. It comes out every two months during our high season. The editor in chief is a friend of ours. This revelation should in no way taint our promoting her mag – really we are being quite objective when we praise it. There is also a supplement insert that is produced every month keeping us all informed of what bands and other sources of entertainment our happening in our fair community; again a most useful contribution – thank you Barbara.

Please take the time to checkout Viva Puerto. There is something for everyone in there – even if you are land locked in say, Las Vegas, Nevada or Poughkeepsie, New York ;-)

We have now owned our Italika scooter GS150 (still un-named) for one month as of yesterday. Our first scheduled service was then or 500 kilometers whichever came first.  We were just nudging 400 KM, but felt plenty ready to get the fluids changed. During manufacturing there can be small to tiny metal fragments that should not be swirling around in the lubricants. We have already had an unscheduled visit to replace the turn signal flasher.

Our experience with Batman Italika Service Center continues to be great. While it is just a honeymoon at this point – wow it has been such a pleasure as compared to our service history in Coatepec with our Cruise Azul Zanetti 150 scooter. These folks are the real deal. Attentive, knowledgeable and quick response are fitting adjectives to go along with friendly and understanding.

“Understanding”? I am the first to admit I am NOT the easiest customer to deal with. Oh I am always friendly and slow to anger, but I am also demanding and cruising around with just enough knowledge to be dangerous.

To wit: For our first scheduled warranty service visit we brought our own lubricants. Rest assured this raised some eyebrows in the very professional garage. I peeked in as customers are not allowed in the service area, as is typical of warranty dealerships. I was happy to see one employee and then another actually READ the bottle of Valvoline 100% synthetic motorcycle racing oil. In fairness they do change oil with an equal standard mineral oil (read high quality), but I am a stickler for the slight edge I perceive getting from synthetic oil. They being designed for race engines at a cost near double more conventional oils. I have been using ONLY synthetic oil in my vehicles for years and the motors have never let me down. Our six year old Zanetti scooter engine is as tight and responsive as the day we bought it – maybe even better.

I also brought some very high quality gear oil. The changing of gear oil is not part of their standard routine at this juncture of warranty service. I explained I would like the gear oil changed anyway using the same logic as the need for an early quick change of the motor oil.

The service guys explained the level of gearbox oil was fine. Anita explained that her husband would prefer it be changed – if that is OK. They were totally accommodating and did not charge extra for the unscheduled additional service – in fact they deducted the retail cost of their engine oil as they used mine – Pretty darn accommodating I would say.

Our Italika Service Center Even Gives Riding Lessons

Without sounding sexist did I mention that our first and main contact at the service center is very pretty. OK maybe this is not PC, but facts are facts. Not only is Pricilla lovely but she is very knowledgeable. She makes us feel like we are special customer, but I am guessing it is pretty much standard operating procedure to be great. And in fairness her father (also good looking) is equally attentive and responsive. In his off time he is very much involved with off-road motorcycling (On Any Sunday), always a good sign that motorcycles are his passion.

Priscilla Signs A New Rider Up – Batman Italika Service Center

We were in and out in about an hour. Service included a wash (I did bring it in clean by the way). If you are considering a moto in Puerto – realize having these people in the Hood is a great advantage. Also they explained that they service all kinds of motorcycles – so Yamaha, Suzuki, Honda and even Harley owners do not let all the Italika signs divert you from a great place to get your ride attended to.

Some new restaurants have opened in Puerto – look for some reviews soon!

Stay Tuned!

Make the Sale No Matter What
In Mexico – No Way

Mexico has so much a different character in so many ways. Often they are subtle or not recognized unless you are a veteran expat here. A couple of examples:

We are still reeling from a conversation with an Ursulo Galvan resident (our Hood in Xico, Veracruz). While even the propane trucks include the dangers of burning plastic in their musical announcement on their trucks scouring the Hood to sell bottled gas, there are still those that start their wood fires with plastic bottles to catch the wood ablaze. The fumes from those burning plastic bottles are HIGHLY toxic.

We reminded a neighbor of this danger to not only themselves but their innocent children and grandchildren only to be told, “We Mexicans are used to dying young and do not care about the dangers of burning plastic.” Sadly fatalistic. It is a bit startling to we First World-ers to hear such flippant irrational thinking.

Then this yesterday – We have been scooter shopping with non-toxic dollars burning a hole in our pocket from having sold our Suzuki Burgman 650 a few months ago in Capitan (New Mexico). Actually we started the new scooter search in Xico even lining up possible buyers for our 2008 Cruz Azul scooter to perhaps update our ride in Xico.

But here at the beach we were decidedly wanting a scooter to run around as gas is almost $4 usd a gallon here in Mexico and no end to the rising monthly increases. The truth also is we are lifelong die hard cyclists even taking into account the added dangers of two-wheeling– I suppose not totally different than the Hood-ites logic lacking excuse for burning plastic. I have no defense for adding the danger of riding a motor scooter on the dangerous Mexican highways. I certainly don’t ride bi-wheelers with a willingness to die young (too late for me who turns 68 in a few days ;-)

ANYHOW…yesterday we were getting down to the finals. All decisions made: Honda; Suzuki; Yamaha; Italika; how many cc’s is enough; Japanese or Chinese/Korean or even Mexican motonetas; color; model etc. The winner came up Italika which is now a fully made Mexico product. Early Italika motorcycles were designed jointly with Hyosung of South Korea and assembled using parts shipped from South Korea and China.

All current models, however, are of Mexican design and origin. So yes we went with the homegrown machine (Mexican flag proudly waved here!). Italika maintains a motorcycle factory and parts warehouse in Toluca, Mexico, near Mexico City and commands nearly seventy percent of the entire motorcycle market here in Mexico.

We want the slightly upscale version of our Chinese Cruz Azul which came to us as a 150cc Zenetti scooter. The new Italika will have better lights, sturdier wheels etc. And oh the lovely rich Rojo color will be easy to see and perhaps add just a little bit of an added visibility safety factor.

A Shiny New Italika GS150

We had narrowed the source of our new ride down to two retailers. There is a total Italika store a few blocks up from Chedraui supermarket. Then there is the infamous Elektra super store. We had visited both. Mexico having no restrictions on price fixing or any fair trade laws to speak of enables Italika to demand fixed prices on their vehicles – meaning you will be quoted the same price everywhere.

Kind of like Pemex gas which is the same price throughout Mexico we noted the same retail price and basically the same Sales in all Italika sales outlets. That just left deciding who we liked better as a company and perhaps some individual salesperson that caught our liking.

It should be noted there was a three day ten percent discount sale going on this particular weekend; no doubt end of the model year ‘blowout”. But it did make time of the essence now that we knew exactly what we wanted.

We liked the visibility of Elektra with its many outlets (Coatepec, Veracruz and Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca included). “Grupo Elektra is Latin America‘s leading specialty retailer and financial services company, serving the mass market by providing consumer credit.” A HUGE company. And we had hooked up with Herman the local salesman who was a very nice and helpful fellow.

But alas we had a bit of a “Walmart” like beef with Elektra in that they GOUGE the proletariat with HUGE interest rates. All day long people are lined up like cattle going to slaughter at their bank-teller-window like area in all their stores. This to pay their weekly payments that usually doubles the cost of a new refrigerator, stove, computer, television or motorcycle etc. This does not set well with us –

So off we went to the Italica store to buy our scooter.

A Still better deal this Weekend! 10% OFF RETAIL! $15,749 Pesos

Two days before the exact model was on the showroom floor there at Italica. But no more. The preceding day someone bought it while we were still ‘thinking’.   O.K. we will order one – the details and price having all been agreed upon. It should be noted that while unit and price being equal another advantage of the Italika store was an added included full face helmet – we have helmets but currently are moving them between Veracruz and Oaxaca – so a new helmet was an added enticement. This was not offered in our negotiations with Elektra.

A problem arose. The manager at Italika (called in during negotiations) refused to place an order. He explained it is not workable in their system. They needed a VIN number to write up a sale – huh? “You are refusing our placing an order! We are here with cash…right now. We will pay full price and gladly wait until you get our scooter in house.”

“No, we cannot alter the policy”

We were incredulous. You are honestly turning away our business because of this detail?  You could not write this up and leave the VIN number line open until our scooter arrives or even get a number of the one you will receive?” Nothing doing. Even after a real threat of marching over to Elektra and placing an order. Elektra also were sold out of our desired model, but had no problem ordering. We had established this with Herman only the day before.

So we left in a huff and drove a mile up the road to Elektra across from the Mercado. We waited while Herman closed a deal on a buy on time Toshiba laptop. Herman had advised us that he is there 12 hours a day six days a week! Unconscionable interest contracts and slave driver labor policies – grrrr.

We explained the ‘free’ helmet addition over at the Italika store. Herman fussed around on a computer at the sales table and came up with the same deal – “Write it up amigo!”

We could not believe the casual refusal to make a sale over at the Italika store. We have often encountered this attitude here in Mexico. Take it or leave it is so different than the sale-at-all-costs NOB sales approach.

Deal done! We will show off our new scooter when it arrives early next week (Happy Birthday to me!). Stay Tuned for more Amerika/Mexican differences reported right here.

Our Missing Neighbor

Xico, Veracuz, Mexico: Here in the Hood we are saddened that our neighbor Emilio Cortes is missing. We have lived next-door to one another for 9 years. We watched his daughter grow up.



Emilio has always been pleasant and a gentle man. He always greets me with Don John como esta? As he says this he extends his hand. We shake the gentle Mexican shake (Mexican men do not try and out squeeze the hand of the greeter like U.S. men – perhaps they are more secure in their strength?)

Thirteen days ago Emilio told his family he was going out for a little while. He has not returned. He has no history of this kind of behavior.

It should be noted Emilio has had a drinking problem over the years. It is possible he laid down somewhere and or was very inebriated to the point of having a memory problem?

Of course the family has checked with police, hospitals, dry-out hospices and known places he might frequent.

We want Emilio back home with his family.  PLEASE if you have any information contact us here or see the phone numbers on the flier enclosed.

A better photo of Emilio –

Emilio in 2012


  Stay Tuned!

Moto Review

We have not checked in on our Cruise Azul motor scooter for a while. Also have not reported that we sold our beloved Burgman 650 Suzuki scooter in New Mexico a month ago. It was impossible to get the Burgman in Mexico for a reasonable import fee.

For those that have not been here for these many years – six years ago come October we purchased our 2008 blue motor scooter (better known as Cruise Azul). It is a Chinese knock-off of a Honda 150 cc moto – however built with lesser quality in China as opposed to the more refined Japanese manufacturers – Suzuki, Yamaha and Honda for example.

That October we tossed the numbers around – We could buy FOUR China dolls for one of Honda’s finest. As is often the case, we opted for the cheap route – we would see how it goes. We bought two scooters at Chedraui grocery store in Coatepec. We bargained for a 1000 peso discount (each) buying two – an acquaintance came in with us. We each paid $950 USD out the door. Now we are six years down the road and about 5000 miles later. Not counting maintenance (regular or otherwise) that works out to about $14.00 a month – pretty cheap transportation.

Of course we only ride it 6 months out of the year – but even $28 a month is not bad for reliable transportation.

Did I just write ‘reliable?’ OK well there is some debate on that. With less than 5,000 total miles we have replaced and repaired: new front fork bearing; new battery; new brakes (twice –don’t ask); new brake cable; new starter motor; frame to motor bolt; new rear tire; some wiring problems and as of today a new clutch assembly.

This after doing a recommended 20 + point improvement and care set-up upon purchase. This included changing all hoses and tubes; change spark plug, solder some wiring connections, changing fuel filter assembly, modifying the exhaust system and the air intake box etc. Tear down to tighten and inspect bolts and belt etc.

It should be noted parts are more expensive in Mexico – labor much less as compared to the U.S. In Mexico we have never registered (not required) our 149 cc scooter – so a saving there as well as no insurance cost.

Cruise Azul Circa October 2008

We know a local (here in Xico) mechanic we like.  He is competent and slightly expensive (Mexican expensive). More on this later.

Cruise Azul in the shop yesterday

A little history: Cruise Azul has never left us stranded (mostly). We have had two INCIDENTS: twice we laid the scooter down stopped or nearly so, mostly due to sand.  On one of those spills I had bruised ribs and a scuffed ankle. Anita hobbled on crutches for two weeks (in fairness she has weak ankles). We are fully recovered (except for Senora Calypso’s ankle).

We drove 120 miles one day on Cruise Azul – a lot for a little scooter – sore butts later – not recommended. A scooter here is very handy when parking is difficult to find as well as economical fuel and maintenance as compared to driving a car. It also is a bit dangerous as compared to a car – all factors to consider.

Cruise Azul in particular has a large ‘landing’ space for groceries as well as a nice large box under the seat and ours came with an additional rear stuffing box large enough to hold a helmet or a bag or so of groceries (it has since been replaced with a new one). We could transport 3 bags of groceries or haul a 20 liter bottle of water and more. The design of our scooter is such that it really carries a lot – even more we think than the large 650 cc Suzuki Burgman – the key being a flat floor between the seat and front fork assembly.

We have money from the Burgman sale burning a hole in our pockets! What to buy now? We are again weighing the advantages and not of Chinese versus Japanese (or even German). We are also considering a 4-wheeler to get to-and-from our Rancho up in the mountains.  We would lose some parking advantages as well as needing increased storage area and perhaps more safety issues driving one of those on our Mexican highways. Also have thoughts about a rack on the back of the Jetta that would allow us to transport a scooter to and from Puerto and Xico – that would give us full time usage instead of 6 months per year.

In the meantime the scooter is in the shop: Oil and change; new clutch assembly, installed; throw in 4 Jetta sparkplugs we brought from the U.S.  Oh yeah – we asked the mechanic if he knew where we could get our plugs changed – right here was the answer – cool! His total bill for parts and labor – $1400 pesos or about $110.00 U.S.D.  Not bad ;-)

No fancy motorcycle stand in this garage!

I explained with Anita’s help that I was having a clutch problem – he went right to it.

The automatic clutch assembly is the round protrusion on the side of the rear wheel – attached by belt to a pulley of sorts that is on the crankshaft

We are good to go for another ??? miles. What to buy or do next? Lots to think about regarding two-wheel transportation (or even four). Stay Tuned!

Making Radio Waves

My little corner workstation – Ursulo Galvan, Xico, Veracruz, MX this foggy Sunday morning.

We are getting better with the radios.  I am after all an electronic engineer by education (and much practical experience I might add). The radios to which I refer are ones used to relay Internet connections.  We had a dandy installation between John and Jane’s place (recall the robber’s tienda they lived in across the way a couple of kilometers).

But alas those fun loving, persevering victims, enchanting fellow seniors  and good friends have escaped the house of ladones bounty, moving to safer digs in Coatepec. So we chopped a few sections out of our very tall bamboo mast; lowering the radio to communicate within the Hood and voila we garnered a connection with ease.

Tancho who reads and writes from a mountaintop in Pátzcuaro  turned us on to the possibilities of radioing Internet long distances (in excess of 5 miles). As communication possibilities develop the radios eventually become unnecessary – but before Internet comes to your neighborhood  they are a wonderful thing.

The catch for the Calypso Couple is having to maintain “mainstream” local internet connections at locations wherein we reside for 6 months or less only.  The service providers demand contracts and ongoing connections.  If there is one operating condition in the process of multiple abodes that irritates it is having to pay for ongoing services we do not use. So listen up all you potential part time expats – some of that can be foiled.

We pay for continued water and trash service as well as electric connections in three houses (not counting our storage warehouse in Capitan, New Mexico. You can see the problem – multiple Internet connections really add up and contribute to our services frustrations – hence the radios here in Xico.  We retired their need in Puerto securing a shared connection with our next door neighbors. By the way when we are at our New Mexico casa our neighbor and friend George allows us a logon – ah George he is a terrific fellow in so many ways.

The point here is there are alternative methods to being strapped with ongoing service requirements. It just takes some Yankee ingenuity and friends.

Last night we watched our Cruz Azul soccer team play to a tie on HD television (free air no less). Being connected to the rest of the world makes living outside of the United States a more comfortable situation – rest assured.

We are settling in. Yesterday was the annual Capilla at the top of the drive celebration.  The weather did not cooperate. It was a small and mostly peaceful event (smaller and more peaceful than previous years).

It is cold and foggy this Sunday morning. I will go read my electronic copy of yesterday’s Washington Post and maybe flip through the electronic June Esquire magazine until my Guapa Señora rises. Life is Good – Stay Tuned!

Life Update

We had planned on heading to Xico, Veracruz (our other home) two Sundays past. Recalling our return to Xico last year, it was cold and rainy leaving us wishing we had stayed in Puerto longer. So we cancelled the early departure and will remain here until the 27th – two weeks longer than originally planned.  Follow the sun – the Calypso’s path.

Our Beach Across from Hotel Santa Fe in Puerto Escondido

Jane, half of our friends John and Jane who are living near Xico wrote spontaneously the other day, “Burrr! you two are lucky you did not come back yet”

Because we were nearly packed up to leave we are living a bit awkwardly, not wanting to unpack. Will try and plan this better next year.  In the meantime we are laying low as the town is FULL of tourist enjoying our fair pueblito.

Over on the other side of town Anita’s brother is packing up to head to the States for two months. Sadly he and his mate have decided to leave Puerto Escondido after living here a year and a half. Brother-in-law’s daughter is with child. Grand-parenting is calling, giving him the desire to live closer to Las Vegas and daughter. He will be missed.  We enjoyed having family across town.

We have been shopping online for guitars (yes – more than one). At 67 we have decided to revisit an old hobby with more time to devote to it – time will surely be needed. Author, Malcolm Gladwell says that it takes roughly ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field. Ten thousand regardless of one’s possible inherent talent. We are shooting for something less than being a master at guitar playing.

Willie Nelson’s Classic 1969 Martin “Trigger”

Gladwell studied the lives of extremely successful people to find out how they achieved success. In the early 1990s, a team of psychologists in Berlin studied violin students. Specifically, they studied their practice habits in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. All of the subjects were asked this question: “Over the course of your entire career, ever since you first picked up the violin, how many hours have you practiced?”

All of the violinists had begun playing at roughly five years of age with similar practice times. However, at age eight, practice times began to diverge. By age twenty, the elite performers averaged more than 10,000 hours of practice each, while the less able performers had only 4,000 hours of practice.

The elite had more than double the practice hours of the less capable performers.

Natural Talent: Not Important is claimed.  

This suits me ;-)

I called upon my calculator which revealed 10,000 hours practicing 4 hours a day is nearly 7 years’ time – ouch! Let’s just work on being able to scratch out Neil Young’s “Old Man” as a goal.

“Old man take a look at my life
I’m a lot like you
I need someone to love me
The whole day through
Ah, one look in my eyes
And you can tell that’s true…”

I leave you with this appropriate cartoon about Jimi Hendrix shopping for guitars (he did not have Amazon, Ebay or any other computer shopping place)

Peace – Stay Tuned!

Tragedy in the Hood


Back in 2008 we wrote about the December 12th Virgen Celebration in colonial Ursulo Galvan, in Xico, Veracruz.  We have noted in the past few years spending October through April here in Puerto is a different experience from our time living in Ursulo Galvan. There are not the heavy Catholic overtones of Xico. The religion of surfing trumps Catholicism here in the hidden port.

However all the Catholic hormones of religiosity are accompanied by some serious drinking testosterone of some of the hombres of the Hood. In 2008 we wrote this about some of the local Xico borrachos during the December 12th Celebration:

“Before noon the crowds already started to gather – front row seats were expensive; if one considers the fact time is money. Libations were being ingested even before the clock struck twelve noon – the early inebriated being a symbol of defiance and stubbornness towards all things rational – the social lubricant packaged in spent 32 ounce plastic soda bottles.  The mixture within its chief ingredient being agua ardiente  – sweetened straight alcohol. In the stores they call it Liquor de Cana – in the Hood it is caña or agua ardiente; when not around my Gonzo Compadres, I call it sugar with pure grain alcohol. In the Hood it can be purchased in gallon plastic containers for about 30 pesos….

Police and ambulance vehicles were just behind the ten deep crowds. Inside the rails were the machos and borrachos. Mostly clown like shabby little fellows whose job at this time was to entertain or so they thought. They staggered around as if they were bulls themselves, scraping the ground with a defiant foot, rebelliously rubbing empty 32 once soda containers against the pavement and pulling off their shirts to use as toreador capes. Occasionally a couple hombres would help a third from falling – a sign of their undying camaraderie.  You knew some of these fellows were not going to leave that ‘arena’ unscathed whether the bulls showed up or not.”


This December 12th it was the innocent that were not all going to go home safely.

With a pickup truck as his weapon of choice a 22 year old drunken kid smashed through the barrier assembled to keep the bulls contained within a few corridored blocks.

In the mayhem that ensued two women were injured and a 65 year old Xico man was killed. One bull was hit as well.

The fellow managed to avoid capture and headed off to the pueblo Coatepec, some five miles away. In the meantime it is reported about 40 men with rocks and machetes had formed a lynching party and were in hot pursuit.

Lucky, I suppose you could call it, the young drunk was apprehended by Coatepec Policia. Most likely saving his life.

So a happy event turned dark. The community dance was cancelled and Ursulo Galvan, a community of about 2000 souls went into mourning.

A couple of years ago, just down the road from our beach casa along the street that parallels the beach, in the early evening, Anita and I were on a walk. As if out of a ‘Fast and Furious’ film a drunken man child with his truck came roaring down the roadway veering side to road side crashing into parked cars at breakneck speed. We literally dove for cover watching in shock as the fool and his truck finally met head on with a local bus. A two block run that terrified beach goers. It was surreal.

Even as the reckless truck forged forward side swiping vehicles, a group of men on foot were in chase. After passing us the truck collided with the front of a package store tearing off the front door and continuing on. When the truck came to rest as a hood ornament to the big city bus the angry men and even a few women pulled the borracho from the steaming vehicle and proceeded to beat him until the police interceded. Justice is often swift here in Mexico

Fortunately no one was injured that day. But there had been beach goers returning to vehicles and others walking to local restaurants, some with children that could just as easily have been seriously injured or killed.

Firewater and the natives are often a deadly mixture here in Mexico. Of course this is not limited to our Country. Nor is danger only lurking here in Mexico. During this same week in the wild west of Colorado a kid brandishing a shotgun, stormed a school looking for an irritating librarian.

It is crazy out there. We can all only hope we are never in one of those wrong places to be at the time. It is hard to say how this terrible event in our Hood might affect future Virgen Block Parties. Hug your kids, your parents and your grandparents tonight knowing they are safe from another wild week in America. Stay Tuned!

Taking the High Road

The Calypsos finally made it up to the Rancho yesterday.

We have a casa in the mountains above Xico, Veracruz. The views are spectacular.

A bit of the Southern Panorama

We would describe our Rancho in real estate terms as follows:

1250 square feet under roof three story casa plus decks and more; 3 Bedroom;  separate two station compost toilet building; semi-protected shower and bath area; catch water tanks and pump system; large RV Carport parking; one hectare property sloping to the south and bordered by a wonderful clean river.  The casa comes with a spectacular view of Xico and Mount Orizaba and within the property perimeter are views of the towns of Xico to the south, Xalapa to the northeast, Coatepec to the east and Teocelo to the southeast. The river can be heard the 700 feet from the casa and will lull you to sleep at night. You will wake up to Mount Orizaba filling your room.

Just 2.75 miles between the two Yellow Push-Pins 

A Bend in the Rio that fronts Rancho del Cielo’s  Southern Border

Close-up of those Incredible Pink Flowers

Because the last two miles of road getting there is little more than a burro path we do not visit as much as we would like – it is a glorious spot to rest and relax (from the stresses of retirement and such ;-)

A new improved road which cuts off a mile of the bad road is partially completed. When and if that road is ever completed visiting will be made easier by a great measure. In the mean time we have the BIG White Ford Truck. It is four wheel drive and a behemoth of a vehicle – although the very long wheel base makes for quite a roller coaster ride getting up and down; the Rancho sits a minimum of a thousand feet higher than Xico.

Yesterday we brought help. Our oft used handy-man Stephen and his Aunt took the ride up with us to help with the yard and house work – our principal mission.

Tia Cleaning

Stephen Clears Some Tall Grass 

After 6 Years We Have Access to Our Carport

A Long Wheel Base Makes for a Wild Ride Up and Down the Mountain

We managed a pretty good dent in recovery of the land and casa – but a lot of work remains. We plan on staying put here in Xico until the place is ship shape. Although it is already starting to get cold at night – especially now that the incessant rains have subsided. The clear skies help reduce the air temperature – burr.

2 Meter Wall Holds Back Earth in an Artful Way

Every Piece Cut to Fit – Moss is Added

Someone recently wrote in a comment, “The more I read of you, by you, the more I’m convinced you deserve all the bounty that these years in Mexico have brought you.

What a nice thing to write. The casa we call Rancho del Cielo (Ranch in the Clouds) is a spectacular place to live part time. Deserve it or not, we consider ourselves lucky to be able to visit such a special spot.

The first photos of the work in progress. Next time KITCHENS.

Stay Tuned!