Rescuing Animals Left Behind by Snowbirds

There is a constant problem with a surplus of pets here in Mexico.  And although some snowbirds come and provide help by offering finances, food, even paying for medical attention for those animals that need it (particularly spay/neutering) it seems that others are part of the very problem.  Animals left abandoned on streets, and even in vacated condos and houses.  Realtors frequently enter a recently vacated resident to find a dog, cat or birds left behind by another seasonal gringo.

Spring time, the weeks right before and right after Easter, is the time that Snowbirds start heading back north.  And in their wake there is an increase in abandoned animals.  Likely very much like our own Epic.  Dropped off in the upperclass Racquet Ball community west of Ajijic she found refuge at a construction site.  Neighbours discovered her, looking healthy enough and checked daily for weeks that she had drinking water and food to eat, while they were attempting to locate an adoptive home for her via some online communities.  However, once somebody discovered that she had a gash in her leg that needed attending, John coaxed her into a vehicle and got her to the vet from whence we stepped into the story and decided to foster her until a fur-ever home was found for her.  But then besides opening up our home to her, we decided to open up our hearts to her, too.  And so she became family.  (Maret informs me that I never actually did an adoption story on our Epic.  Hmmm, we’ll have to see about correcting that)

Its fairly obvious when the animals have been taken care of, like they had their family until recently.  Then one day their family leaves them behind.  Alone.  What makes people do this?  Come for wintering in Mexico and serve themselves by getting a cute cuddly pet to feed some part of their ego or emotional need, to turn around and abandon them?  Cruel.

I’ll bet most of those people have mean$.  Yet they abandon creatures that then become a burden to those locals that are less fortunate.  Because many less-fortunate have bigger hearts than those with plenty.  Just seems the way it often is.  Those with less give more.

And so there is Alvaro, near Chapala MX.  He pours his money and love into caring for animals.  Doing the best he can for them, like many other people (both Mexican and northerners) do, too.

Tina here at Perico was made aware of Alvaro, of his struggle to provide some basic comforts for the animals he had rescued.  So her and her friends raised funds and accepted donations of things like mats for the dogs so that they wouldn’t have to sleep on the cold cement.

Everette volunteered (well, actually, our kids volunteered one of their parents and the van!) to drive the donations and a slew of kids along with Tina to deliver it all and get a little tour of his place.




I heard (I wasn’t there) that Alvaro was sooo moved by the generosity of strangers that he was teary-eyed when the kids unloaded our van of dog/cat food, beds, toys, etc.  Money was also available as Alvaro had made appointments to get some of the dogs spayed/neutered…a procedure often offered with a 40% discount by the local veterinarians.

Alvaro showed the group around to see all the animals he currently was taking care of.  And no, the possums weren’t previously somebody’s pets.  Their mama had been killed on the highway.  One of the babies is blind so he’ll keep that one long-term.  The other two he hopes to return to the wild.

Checkout Laars with a baby possum.

He has many varieties of birds and has a constant turn-over of cats, dogs and their offsprings.

Instead of embedding all the videos here I decided to just add links here so you can check them out on my YouTube if you want.

Big Heart

Holding a Possum

Anders gets peed on.



Renewing Our Canadian Passports Abroad: A Mexican Version

With such a large family it can really hurt the pocket book to have all passports applied for at one time…so an option is to have them staggered, but not too much so that keeping on top of them becomes a nightmare.  We had 11 of ours limited to just 2 different expiry dates, but now the eldest two girls have flown the coop and so it is not my concern when they expire, or even if they have them!  (well, actually that isn’t true since they need them to come visit us!)

Everette was heading back to Canada so he just did his Renewal back in BC.  Straight forward and simple…and cheaper!  Well, the same cost as other Canadians would be paying if applying for renewal while on Canadian soil.  The savings, however, didn’t warrant a trip back to Canada so the youngest 3 kids and I did ours here in Mexico.

First step was to get our passport photos taken.

We stopped at a photo shop in Chapala where we met the delightful and talented Paulette.  She made the kids comfortable and welcome, making the photo-shoot easy.

Collage Passport Photos

Although a man at the Cdn Passport office in Victoria raised questions about Everette’s photo being taken in Mexico, he was just an uninformed employee who pre-views to make sure you have all the pertinent paperwork before you enter the actual line-up.  When Everette presented all his paperwork to the actual person that accepts the application or renewal, having the photo taken in Mexico seemed of no concern.  It was signed and labeled by a professional photographer as required and that’s all that seemed to matter.

Since it was years since the last time we had to apply for the kids’ passports I had forgotten that both parents needed to be involved in the paperwork, so I neglected to get Everette to fill in the papers before he headed back to Canada.  So off he went to BC, applied for his renewal.  Weeks later I thought I should get our 4 applications sent in only to (re)discover that I needed his signatures on original papers.  So I waited for his return.

Weeks passed and when he received his new passport in Canada he booked a flight back and we ventured into the big city to have everything looked over.  We had to make an appointment for that.  At the Canadian Consulate located on the 8th floor of one of the World Trade Centers.

Collage Maria Bistro

Arriving early for our appointment we checked out Maria Bistro

Collage WTC

Everything seemed in order; we paid mucho dinero and made a stop at a DHL to have our package couriered off to the Cdn Consolate in Mexico City.

Collage DHL

We couriered them out on April 6/15.  One day to get to Mexico City, one day to return to us at Chapala, the rest was time spent at the consulate.  We received them May 21/15.  Thirty-nine days!! 6 1/2 weeks.

And I’d like to point out that the one Canadian brochure we received about our passports….was in French!!  I got a chuckle out of that.  I guess I need to brush up on my French.


We are thrilled that they were all approved and finally received.  These ones at least are good for another 5 years (mine is good for 10 years) and we only have a few others to worry about I think in year 2017.  All the adult kids can worry about their own.

Because our passports didn’t arrive before our T.I.P. was to run out on our van, our border-run was only partially successful.  Some of us couldn’t cross the border so Everette (& Danaka) did the van business and applied for their own tourist visas*.

By the way, for those that are curious, our T.I.P. costs about $42US (the actual permit) with a deposit of $300USD (either cash or credit card).  Prices are dependent on the age of the vehicle, so I don’t know how the deposit varies.


* Every time Everette (and Mitchell) fly back from Canada, included in their airfare is a new tourist visa for 180 days.  In essence, Everette didn’t need a new tourist visa as he had only been in Mexico 5 weeks.  But as the driver bringing the vehicle into the country (since I couldn’t cross) he needed a visa for the duration of the permit of the van.  A tourist visa costs approx $25US so it isn’t a biggie, but a necessity.


Tequila and el Pajarete

First off….you might be interested to know that tequila is good for you!!  Especially if you want help in losing weight!  Now if only I would enjoy the stuff maybe I could add it to my daily regiment?

Not likely.

Back at the Chili Cook-off  Everette and I sampled some tequila….not our favorite liquor drink but on the map below you’ll see we are basically in the middle of Tequila Country!  There are lots of options and we thought we might just find something to our liking if we tried hard enough.  So there at the Chili Cook-off we were introduced to Sandy y Daniel & their tequila by the same name.



We discovered that when Everette & I look out from Hotel Perico at the morning sunrise we overlook Daniel’s house where we can stop and buzz at the gate, and purchase some tequila right there.  So that’s exactly what Everette did.  Which led him to being invited over for el pajarete the next morning.  “And bring a friend!”

So Sunday morning Everette and Mark headed out for a quick morning drink…often what people here in Mexico will drink for a hang-over!  Some use coffee, many use hot chocolate mix; then you add alcohol (not for kids!) and have milk squirted directly into your cup.  Viola!!

The cow ran out of milk at Daniel’s neighbors so they ventured up the hill behind Hotel Perico to another friend’s place so Everette could get a full one.Collage 2nd farm

You can see from the guys’ faces they were totally thrilled with the experience; new for Mark and not frequent enough for Everette, I’m surmising from his report of how well his day went!Collage CheersWhat Everette thought would be a quick morning drink out turned into a field trip for these two homeschooling dads as they galavanted around the hills here on the north side of Lake Chapala.

Checkout further posts where they learned more about Sandy y Daniel tequila; the business and the life.



Rochatas Bakery

Checking out coffee shops a few months back we stumbled upon Rochatas that Everette had spotted when driving the Carreterra into Chapala.  Usually Everette has seen many people there before so we ventured in, although today we were the only customers.

We were greeted by the owner Marco with whom we had a very pleasant conversation.  We quizzed him about the different art displayed around his place, and what I thought was bead work turned out to be a type of thread work!  Whatever, it was quite gorgeous work!!

Collage Art2

We sat to have our cafes (Marco roasts the coffee himself) but had to try out the baked goods, too.  Sweet and Bitter, that’s the blend.  The cakes looked scrumptious so we ordered a slice of Carrot (zanahoria) and German Chocolate.  Then when we were contemplating ordering a cheesecake (queso) for Toveli’s birthday (back in March) we were treated to a complimentary slice.  Two people, 3 slices of cake….shall we say “Sugar Fix”!?? But amazingly, none of the cakes were ghastly sweet.  A tad on the dry side, but still very tasty.

Collage Marcos

Marcos and his wife run the main bakery in Jocotepec and opened this smaller one in Chapala over a year ago.  They make Special Order cakes, and you can see why they are in demand when you look at the display case!! They have a huge photo album of some of the fabulous cakes they’ve made for weddings, birthdays or any other kind of celebration one could think of.

I wish them well with this endeavor.


Beer Garden

Down by the Bay…where the watermelons grow…

Nope, down by the bay, where town creeps up against the shores of Lake Chapala there’s a Beer Garden Restaurant that opened recently and so Everette and I snuck in there for a late lunch.  Turns out to be a bit pricey but a wonderful location where the breeze flows thru even on a hot day.  Right on the malecon we can people-watch while waiting for our drinks and cheese-with-chorizo fondue.  Nothing like a cheese fondue we would expect to get Up North.  And nothing I’d order again.  Another Live and Learn.  IMG_2315

A place for afternoon drinks on a hot day when you want to enjoy the scenery.  Otherwise, I’d skip it.  Just Sayin’.

Collage Beer Garden