Surfs Up – On the Wall

Surfs Up!

The other day we went to lunch at a new place we had visited just once. We could sit and watch some surfers and waves rolling in.  It was closed – this is often the case here in Mexico – hours are very flexible. Do not come to rely on consistent operating hours – no matter if they are displayed or you have to ask.

We went to another place. We had gone there a few times. An excellent vegetarian burrito, massive in size (we split one) at the cheap, cheap, price of 35 pesos. That is lunch for two for $2.25 usd! Add 20 pesos for a Corona (it was past noon).

At the other end of the restaurant there were a couple of surf boards leaning against a wall. They had prices written and taped to each. One very colorful one caught my eye.  It was a 5 foot 11 inch length board for the low, low, price of 800 pesos (about $50 usd). Those beauties are over $700 usd!

After eating I walked over to take a closer look at the colorful board. This was a Channel Island Surfboard made in Santa Barbara, California – a lovely specimen. It included fins which was noted on the for-sale notice scotch-taped to the board. I am sure Anita thought I was crazy (something she is quite used to). I mean a 69 year old guy eyeballing a new sport vehicle. Is 69 too old to take-up surfing? Probably if it were true.

Color graphics are extra.

But my intentions were related to decorating. We have some tall ceilings and a generous amount of space to add color and even an oddity like a 6-foot surfboard. After all we live at the edge of the Pacific Ocean – lucky us!

I think I have mentioned that we have not painted our stucco’d walls. We opted for color from masks or carpets or how about a surfboard? Yup I liked the idea and the board. I came back to the table with my idea. Anita was non-committal which in her case is pretty much a go ahead.

So I put in an offer of 500 pesos explaining it did appear to be very ocean worthy, but our intentions were to hang it rather than hang-ten in Puerto’s challenging seas. These slabs of designer fiberglass start at around $700 usd new – so it was a low bid. A shot in the dark. The waitress took our written offer on a cocktail napkin – it included our phone number. Did you ever just throw out a number figuring if you got it that cheap – well ok! Where to put it?

Our Recycled Art Board

No more thought on it.

But, the other day a phone call. The owner was accepting our offer. We would be in to get it – yum another huge veggie burrito was in my future. Oh and an ice cold Corona – going with what works!

Not your every day wall hanging!

We got the Jetta out of mothballs and headed into town to retrieve our artwork and a few new garbage cans from Chedraui while we had the car out.

Graphic Artist – Not just my thoughts of a work of art ‘canvas’.


Works of Art – no?

Now to figure out how to mount (hang?) the board (we are calling recycled art). More on that when it happens. Ideas – perhaps you have hung a surfboard? Stay Tuned!

A Shot in the Dark

It was still dark just after six AM this morning. I decided to make some shots in the dark.

First shot of the morning.

We haul our Vitamix blender back and forth between Veracruz and Oaxaca. The thing is too darn expensive to own one in each location.

We brought our new food dehydrator (along with 5 guitars, a large Fender amplifier and two good size Mackie Speakers. What we do not take back and forth is this:

Beans from Chiapas!

We always miss our 22 year old La Pavoni Pub One espresso maker and grinder. Being able to make pro espresso drinks is quite the luxury and sorely missed during times away from the beach. That thing has traveled down from Ashland, Oregon, to Las Vegas; Prescott, Arizona;  Ruidoso, New Mexico; Pueblo, Colorado; Xico, Veracruz; finally to Puerto Escondido. A lot of miles and many flavorful coffee drinks.

We both like a double shot, Anita a latte (more milk) and mine a cappuccino (more foam less milk). Our friend Ron of Ron and Roxanne likes his shots straight up – no milk what so ever.

However you like it, I am a longtime barista. A darn good one if I indulge my ego here just a bit. I can make you your drink. We do not carry as many flavoring syrups as we use to when we owned and managed five coffee carts back in the early 90’s. The coffee is as good as ever.

Here just two weeks tomorrow we have already put in an order with our favorite wood designer for a new door to our utility room. I can now push my finger through the framework that holds a very heavy solid door – so sometime in December a new door and frame will arrive with two more dining room chairs; totaling eight. Plenty to go around.

The wood artisan mentioned he had a couple of tables he had started on spec as samples that he was willing to let go for just about the cost of the wood. We hopped on our scooter and went directly to his shop to have a look.  One must not snooze on offers such as this.

We bought both tables. They needed varnishing and one with drawers needed knobs. They arrived here Tuesday as promised – we had asked for handmade wooden pulls for the drawers. Something was lost in the translation and the metal option arrived here. This will be corrected as we do not like the rather garish knobs.

Pull knobs will be changed.

We also bought a work table or side-table. It is tallish and fits in our mix of workstation tables currently residing in our family room.  One day this setup may move upstairs – but there are projects to be done up there as well as an avoidance of a leaky roof. For now the computer stations area works fine.

The new table puts the pine models to shame and will eventually force us to retire the pine tables and install a complete set of parota wood work tables.

Two of the work tables are sporting our new Mackie monitor speakers. They are a wonderful addition. Very clear, transparent speakers. In conjunction with our 400 watt JBL sub-woofer they play distortion free at some pretty high decibel levels (much to the chagrin of the neighbors I am sure).

Big Enough Mackie Speakers

We have been trying out some of the new restaurants. Being vegetarians and I suppose spoiled to some degree – we are hard to please. So far we have not had much to pass along as wonderful. There is a sandwich shop right on the Zicatela Strip that makes a fine vegetarian sandwich – more on that soon.  Stay Tuned!

Returned to the Scene of Crimes.

We are back. Today we have been here a week. We are settling in fast. Have had three nights with some rain.  This is welcome as it is later in the evening and it cools things down. It is accompanied by gentle off shore breezes – lovely.

Yard work and putting things away or in a place has been priorities up to now. Recall George Carlin’s bits on “STUFF”, we are guilty.

Then there are drip system repairs and of course guitar lessons (plunking right along thank you).

We started watching the series “Mad Men”. This is a 92 episode, seven years running, television series. It is based on the 1960’s. And everyone smokes! But that was a great time in life and fun to revisit. We have seen about five episodes.

Being Sunday which is either a driving day or a day of rest…I am guilty to label it ‘A day of rest’ as what day is not these days ;-)   Do I feel guilty being less of a contributor to the world than whence I was a working stiff? ‘Probably not,’ would be the answer to that. Guilt is not a big plateau on this writer’s plate. It is a relief to not get too hung up on that.

If there is any guilt to be had it comes more via mi guapa esposa who seems to have just one mode from rising to sleep – she is an energizer bunny. This morning before she woke up as I was downing my first cup of coffee and looking around appreciating how things were starting to be organized.

For example: last night we slept in our bed within the confines of mosquito netting and all – clean as a whistle! Earlier in that day I had suggested we pace ourselves on getting that netting strung. She offered up that she had installed it on her own last time and was fully prepared to get it up and operational within a short time. All righty then!

Five nights on our faux leather built in couches is more than enough to fully appreciate the actual bed within the netting – a much better sleep was the culmination.

I wake up before 5 AM. Anita’s internal alarm is set to a few minutes before 8; so I have three hours to wander aimless around the casa or on the Internet. I am reading Wille Nelson’s autobiography as well as a book on healing herbs.

I recently read O’Reilly’s biography on Ronald Reagan, “Killing Reagan”. How he gets those things he churns out on the New York Time’s best sellers list is beyond me. It has to be politics because it certainly is NOT his writing talent, keen insight and or wisdom.

It will take a real doozy of a title to entrap me on any of his future works. Yes I read his “Killing Lincoln” and not his Killing Jesus, Kennedy or Patton. As if that wasn’t punishment enough I started his most recent offering, “LEGENDS AND LIES” – written really by David Fisher. It was just so far from the accepted historical truth that I gave up on it. Enough said.

Speaking on writing, a reader has been taking me to task suggesting, “…talk [ing] in absolutes when they [me] speak of Mexico”. He went on to write, “…when they [me again] are called on it, resort to excuses such as claiming hyperbole, rhetorical, artistic license etc.” OK I probably deserve some of that criticism.

My excuse is more on the line of ownership (it being MY BLOG) rather than any licenses, rhetoric allowances or mistaken hyperbole. You can read more HERE if you have any further interest.

There is no question that Blogging is self-indulgent. Perhaps Flogging the reader would be a better description? Sometimes I can be heard sitting at my keyboard laughing (at my own stuff no less!) I am also the first to admit I am easily entertained except for a distinct lack of interest in horror or sci-fi writing or pictures.

I could beg you and Hank to stick with me here – but begging probably would not help.  It certainly would do O’Reilly no good here. Stay Tuned! (If you dare or care to).

All That Jazz and More

We are back in Puerto Escondido for the winter. Many folks crying the blues about a lack of rain.  It poured the second night we were here (after 11 PM which is always acceptable).

We ran into trouble with the water suppliers. Our drip system had some broken feeders.  They shut-off our water after installing a valve to do this in the street (at our expense – parts and labor about 800 pesos). Our gardening crew find understanding drip water systems beyond their talents.  Small price to pay. We repaired quickly and have water turned back on ;-) .

In fairness 100 pesos of the aforementioned fee was our back due for a party held in October to celebrate the new water department building – “It was voted to contribute 100 pesos.” We can live with that – just sorry we missed the party.

The covering on the windows downstairs worked well. The large blocking tarps upstairs did not.  They provided a dark place for birds to enjoy their berries and seeds.

We misplaced some keys having to cut off a lock with a borrowed tool (from the local ferretería). We have to work better on storing keys. Memory does not always serve after six months.

We have a 3 mb down .333 up Internet connection.  Not like our 10 mb plus in Xico – but we are not complaining.

Sadly an acquaintance and fine fellow, hotel and restaurant owner, was killed while riding his motorcycle on the main highway out by Pochutla – very sad. Steve Posing – you will be missed RIP!

Some child reached into our bodega grabbing a spray can of red enamel paint, tagging our sidewalk, some tile and a couple walls of the bodega – bummer! Reminder to better secure that area.

Several new restaurants to try out – oh boy!

10 days until the Muzunte Jazz Festival (just 30 miles down the road):

We are still a week or two away from having the casa back to normal. We are happy. Stay Tuned!


We are moving on to our winter quarters in beautiful Puerto Escondido. We are never sure about Internet there so we may be gone a while.

A parting gift.

Below are some general observations regarding living in Mexico as an expat. They are in no special order – but something to think about and perhaps comment on.  Maybe you agree.  Maybe you do not. Perhaps you have some sage advice to share?

Stay Tuned!

Mexico Observations:

About half the vehicles on the road have no brake lights or at least one signal bulb burnt out. It would seem that once blown – end of story. Equipment failures definitely not enforced. This kind of puts a face on the NAFTA agreement of Mexican trucks having terrible equipment and safety compliance.

MANY Mexicans simply do not follow through with financial commitments. You can take this to the bank: Unless debt is paid off one will never be able to continue borrowing. Certainly not paying your debt and not keeping your word weakens you. Credit is earned by good faith. Credit is relatively new to the average Mexican. Interest rates are extremely predatory – one might assume to balance the poor payment habits?

Been said before, but, NOISE is a free for all zone here in Mexico – make as much as you want because they do.

Much less road rage in Mexico – couple that with a high percentage of terrible drivers. We assume they simply accept gawd-awful driving habits.

Food is more flavorful, spices a plenty! Meat is tough (good place to be a vegetarian, even better as a vegan). Grocery bills perhaps 20 percent less as compared to the U.S. More if tequila is on your shopping list.

Mexico is more about the Virgin Mary than Jesus. Mary appears very little in the Bible – but she rules the roost here in Mexico.

Mexico’s involvement in religion is worn on their sleeve (at least the women’s sleeves).

Fast food has not caught on beyond the large cities.

Corner markets are probably not operating tax compliant; and they are slowly disappearing.

Mexicans do not really embrace foreigners. However gringos do not feel put upon – they typically do not seem to embrace each other either – not a country of brotherly love.

Animals and pets have it much tougher here in Mexico. Poor people love to own a few dogs – go figure.

The action of NOT LITTERING is 20 years behind Amerika. From our observations the parents are NOT teaching the children; and so it goes.

Building codes are ignored or non-existent. Zoning and Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions are pretty much non-existent.

It would be hard to go back to the U.S. Mexico is a better place for us.


This is a busy week as weeks go for the Calypso Couple.

The plan is to drive to Puerto Sunday. Weather wise we have over stayed our welcome. There is a LOT to do to prepare two houses to be abandoned for 6 months as well as take a BIG payload down to the beach in our Jetta.  It is raining mostly and getting pretty chilly at night. Our little casita is a three season model with several screened only windows and tin roofs.

For the entire month of October the little prayer Capilla at the top of our property entry has been visited daily at 5 AM with a small gathering of mujeres saying the Rosary and singing for about a half hour. A small but dedicated group of ladies. God works or works of God happen in strange ways. It should be noted we hear no male voices – husbands remain home in bed (or somewhere in bed) – go figure.

Yesterday we actually looked at two older Volkswagen Beetle cars to buy – Just what we need is yet another vehicle to add to our two cars, two motorcycles and a behemoth truck. In fairness it was Anita’s idea, which is bizarre because I have ALWAYS been the one to buy our many and varied vehicles over the last 30 years (note: I drove a 944 black Porsche and had a collector’s orange 928 Porsche backup when we started dating).

So no little Herbie  in our car stable this time. Actually Disney’s Herbie was a 1963 Bug. We were looking at early 90′s models (pretty beat up). Recall all those Herbie movies?

This looks very much like the one we Almost bought yesterday.

But seriously it was her idea. The most popular car going up and down the hill to our Rancho is the Beetle Bug – period. Those little cars quite simply are like half-track tanks when it comes to climbing and the outback. We have talked about getting a 4 wheeler to enhance our getting up the mountain – the VW seems more practical.

But soon after coming down from the mile high rarified air we came to our senses realizing we just do not need another car right now – especially one to park for six months. But you get the idea how confused we can get here south of the border and maybe get a hint into why we currently have four houses.

We remain here for advice on living life in Mexico.  Please Stay Tuned!

Hurricanes As A Way Of Life

Sparks, Steve, Hank, Frank and Ania are in the line of fire and on our minds this morning. Patrica is now a category 5 hurricane. News leads like, “Mexico Braces for ‘Potentially Catastrophic’ Hurricane Patricia”.

And Mexico braces for strongest hurricane in Western hemisphere.

And “Hurricane Patricia headed toward southwestern Mexico Friday as a monster Category 5 storm, the strongest ever in the Western Hemisphere that forecasters said could make a “potentially catastrophic landfall” later in the day”.

PV-Puerto Vallarta ; Manz. = Manzanillo ; PXM = Puerto Escondido

The hurricane was located about 160 miles away from Manzanillo, Mexico, at 4 a.m. local time, according to the National Hurricane Center. The Category 5 hurricane’s landfall could be “potentially catastrophic” for southwestern Mexico, the National Weather Service reported, with rainfall totals of 20 inches expected in some areas.

Manzanillo is right where Sparks and Steve live – so we are concerned for them and the others in that area.

Back in June of 2012 we had a direct hit hurricane event in Puerto Escondido our winter home. Being that it was in summer we were not there but watched nervously as it landed a few miles east of our casa with a category 3 energy base.

Not long after becoming a hurricane, Carlotta underwent a period of rapid intensification, with its maximum winds increasing to 95 knots by 2100 UTC 15 June. As it neared the coast, the hurricane turned toward the north-northwest, and the forward speed increased from around 10 knots to 16 knots. Carlotta made landfall in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, about 10 n mi east-southeast of Puerto Escondido, around 0100 UTC 16 June. Satellite imagery showed that the eye became less well-defined just before landfall, suggesting that the hurricane had weakened slightly to an intensity of 90 knots, likely due to the partial interaction of the circulation with the rugged terrain of Mexico. After the center crossed the coast, it turned toward the northwest and moved over the southern portion of Oaxaca and, later on 16 June, over the state of Guerrero. Carlotta weakened very rapidly while it traversed the mountainous terrain of southern Mexico, and by 1200 UTC 16 June the cyclone was reduced to a tropical depression, centered about 60 miles northeast of Acapulco, Mexico.

We did not have electric restored for more than a week.

We ended up with minor roof damage as a neighbors patio flew through our property – little else. But there was a lot of damage in the area.

We think Manzanillo does not have the mountain framework behind them and can only hope that these things usually are lesser than greater in actuality. There is a need for serious warning of course.

As of Friday Morning 9 AM Local Time

Hurricane Patricia, which became the most powerful tropical cyclone ever measured in the Western Hemisphere on Friday morning as its maximum sustained winds reached an unprecedented 200 mph (320 kph). We hope for the best for our friends! Stay Tuned!

Pulling Up Stakes

Being organized is more than a skill. I am convinced it is an inherited trait. My wife got the gene.

I am just an accompaniment to the process of packing it up – believe me.

I am the one that reasons out departure and arrival times – little else. I drive the car. But the real driving force of it all is mi esposa.

Going on a trip evolves for us. Gradually a stack of stuff builds in a corner or corners; that stuff goes.

This trip is more complex because we are going to spend time in two places: Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.A. and then Capitan, New Mexico. We have family in one location and roots in the other.

 Being residents of Mexico for foreigners like us is sort of like living on the Space Station. We return to earth once a year for supplies, then back to our cozy, lofty living South of the Border. We like it that way.

The trip is long and arduous. I am pretty sure Anita looks forward to it because if you are a planner and organized, challenging that skill set is exciting. Truly an adventure.

For me these days the trips seem to come closer together; closer than ever. It seems as if we are arriving only to start working on where we will be next – what with four houses to care for. Houses thousands of miles apart – one of which we have not seen in a year and a half – and time will be added to that until we return to Xico in a couple of months.

We have staked our claims in rather obscure locations. Capitan, New Mexico; Xico, Veracruz and Puerto Escondido (the Hidden Port) are not on anyone’s ten best places to live list. And we like it that way.

And the beat goes on. I will write you next from on the road to Las Vegas –

Bright light city gonna set my soul
Gonna set my soul on fire
Got a whole lot of money that’s ready to burn,
So get those stakes up higher….

Talk to you soon from there. Stay Tuned!

Wave Review

The POWER of Mother Nature was on display. Apparently the huge waves we experienced here in Puerto Escondido, this weekend past, origin was from a storm off the coast of New Zealand. Cruise ships as far north as off the coast of Southern California had to be diverted from these same waves.

Whatever the cause it was a doozy. Sunday morning the Calypso Couple rode our scooter the couple of miles to Zicatela Beach.

Even before we arrived at the southeasterly most entrance to the area we noticed many cars parked along the main highway, Mex 200. Crowds were gathered along the roadway watching the huge waves pummel the beach and beyond.

It was quite a show from up there. When we arrived at the entrance to the main beach area which is about 4 city blocks above the main beach road we were not allowed entrance, stopped by the police. We were told the road was compromised with sheets of water and no vehicles were allowed to pass.

We knew a way down there living here.  We rode back up the highway a half mile or so, eventually arriving at the corner of the main beach drag.  We parked the scooter and walk down to see the waves and the crowds – it was a spectacle.

I TOOK PHOTOS, seen herein as well as a few grabbed from a couple of places on the web. Some of the photos are truly amazing; and yet being there was an added layer of intensity. Feeling those waves crash the earth. Thousands upon thousands of pounds of water crash landing, chewing away sand and streaming water into local restaurants, even across the highway; there were water mark levels on the buildings on the other side of the road. High tide was still to come in the afternoon.

This was a time we appreciated the four blocks distance from ocean’s edge and 60 foot climb required to reach our beach casa. We think we are far enough and high enough back to avoid being swamped any time in the near future – say 50 years or so?

WE HOPE THE RESTAURANTS SURVIVED the water invasion. Being lulled to sleep at night by pounding waves is wonderful.  Life is Good.

Stay Tuned!

BOXING Reaches a New Low

Here locally a new high watermark was reached yesterday at high tide and it is predicted to go yet higher later today. We have been experiencing huge waves on our local beaches. Surfers from all over the world are flying in to catch a ride on thirty-foot plus waves.

THERE ARE PEOPLE in this photo – BIG wave!

Ironically we are hearing many arrived unaccompanied by their surf boards. Apparently in some flights the boards were being brought by another plane-no boards arrived here. You might imagine the frustration of arriving in Puerto Escondido to catch the big ones and not have your surf boards.

We were pleasantly surprised to find a new free air, just stick up an antenna like the days of old, High Definition local television channel; one that was to carry the BIG FIGHT last night. Anita has been using our 32 inch Samsung television as a monitor for her little notebook computer – she gave it up for the good of the game.

The lead-in to the start of the fight was almost as boring as the fight itself. In more technical snafus than missing surf boards there were pay-per-view connection problems that delayed the start of the fight – better it had been cancelled. You can be pretty sure when Justin Bieber and Paris Hilton, new entertainment lows, get more aired time than Robert Di Niro and Denzel Washington THAT SOMETHING IS AMISS.

A BIT OF PERSONAL HISTORY – I am going to be 69 years young in October. I have seen a lot of boxing matches going back to Joe Louis and Sugar Ray Robinson through all the Mohammed Ali fights, Sugar Ray Leonard, Larry Holmes, George Foreman etc. I saw Mike Tyson chewing off Evander Holyfield’s ear. This was not my first time to a big dance, although in recent years I had all but given up on the pugilist sport. Like Howard Cosell, God rest his soul, before me I decided athletes beating each other’s brains out should not be encouraged as we all watched THE GREAT ONE, Ali turn into a quivering, speech impaired zombie; and witnessed other atrocities inevitable from getting beaten in and about the head too often.

But this was the fight of the new century to beat all fights. I succumbed to watching it when it was available free on local television. I admit my transgression. But as is often the case with transgressions there are paybacks. To say the fight was boring is giving it much more credit than it deserves. For most of the fight Mayweather was running from the Pacman – just like the game. there was no toe-to-toe combat – oh no!

My personal score card was the same as two of the judges in the unanimous decision; save the fact my winner was Manny Pacquiao rather than Floyd Mayweather. I mean honestly could those judges have been watching the same fight I had watched? Ridiculous decision – unanimous or not.

These two guys each made three figured millions. There was perhaps a billion dollars in betting and virtually everyone went away bored and unbelieving that this was the fight of the century.

We are going to go look at some huge waves roll in and take it easy today after staying up late to watch the fight – pretty sure it will be my last.

Stay Tuned!