Feliz Navidad

We woke up here in Mexico with a White Christmas……well, the sky was completely white with clouds, at least!  It actually rained (spit) this morning. which is required so that we can enjoy these:

Collage FlowersAlthough we as a family haven’t done gift-giving and such for the past 13 years, the kids wanted to participate with some other kids here in stuffing stockings and giving gifts so they’ve been busy for the past month shopping and creating gifts with their friends in mind.

Collage Kids

 

 

Collage Santa dog

Everette shared his Sewing Needle pantomime which makes people cringe, thinking of him shoving a needle through parts of his hand…..but then it leaves them laughing when he’s slapping his own face.  Many of you have watched him perform this before, so he entertained a new crowd this morning.

Collage Sundaes

Leave it to kids to pick a menu and it turns into Sundae-making!

Collage Laars

Thank You, Tina, for orchestrating this for the kids.  I think they all had a hoot, and the adults were happy to see the children having a good time.  Now to burn some of that sugar off……..

Collage penny whistleFeliz Navidad y una gran felicidad y la prosperidad en el Año Nuevo. 

 

Posada & Floating Lights

All around us are signs of Mexicans and gringos alike celebrating.  Most are celebrating in their own way the story of the Christ-child.  Some just celebrated Winter Solstice.  Jews celebrated Hanukkah earlier this month.  There’s been other celebrations such as that of Lady of Guadalupe.

Whatever and however you choose to celebrate, we can all engage positively with one another.  I think its absolutely ridiculous the recent Facebook posts on whether one should/n’t say Merry Christmas or if it should be Happy Holidays or Seasons Greetings.  Can’t we stop nit-picking and just accept Well Wishes from other people?  Must we criticize?  Must we judge the intent of the greeter?  Can’t we just accept our differences and trust that their intent was to bless us?  To spread some Cheer?Collage reception

Okay, now that’s off my chest 🙂  we’ve had opportunity to attend our first Posada Party last night (23rd) where our young boys danced the night away.  This is their newest thrill and I some how think they are developing a crush on their most attentive dance partner…..the beautiful Tina.

Collage Tina

Posada is from Dec 16-24th,  a procession of a Mary and Joseph looking for a place to stay, where they are turned down time and time again, with more and more people joining the procession.  It ends with the arrival at the church where they finally find shelter…..and mass and a party begin.  Tamales and a hot punch (much like a cider with chunks of fruit in it) are the standard food, though of course cuisine and traditions change not only nationally but regionally.

Our Posada skipped the procession and jumped right to the party!!  Live music was delivered by Jimmy and Noe and a few more of their friends.  Jimmy and Noe had provided music for our Thanksgiving Dinner last month, and they doubled in size for this party.  Now if we can just do something about acoustics in the big hall it’ll be near perfection.  Maybe in time for Valentine’s Dance???

Collage Music

The kids had a ball, and we met many people we hadn’t previously, and of course were able to get to know better some people we  met at Thanksgiving.  Our children buzzed around the room with Mexican children (its neat how they don’t need to share the same spoken language but the language of Love and Fun are universal!!), danced their tootsies off, and chitchatted with the adults.  Anders was even invited to dance with a lady (I’m unaware of her identity). Later Anders was put in his place when Daniel (Texan cowboy singing in the pic above right) was escorting Tina to the dance floor and Anders asked if he could join them.  Daniel clearly told him No! that Tina was his partner, and his alone for this dance!!  Wow, the boy will have to learn real quick.

Collage G & A

So that was on the 23rd.   Today, Dec 24th we welcomed our new friends, the Nichols from Lost Coast, CA who are going to stay here at Perico for a few days so you’ll meet them later.

Then Everette and I took drinks down early to our sitting spot where we overlook the city of Chapala.  It’s where we drink our morning coffee and watch the sun spread across the lake.  It’s also were we park ourselves to unwind at the end of the day.  Today we snuck down there early, and so glad we did.

There was a Mexican family of four down there barbecuing.  We had struggled to understand them earlier in the day when they were inquiring about the bbq.  Now they were successfully underway preparing their evening meal.  We sat to have our drinks.  Then Everette decided to offer them a gift…they graciously accepted.

About 20 minutes later the woman and one of her young sons came over with a plate of food and offered it to Everette.  Seasoned pork (I think) with warm tortillas, s-p-i-c-y sauce and limon.  A few moments later they brought a plate for me.  Insisting that we eat.  Oh so tasty!!

We exchanged pleasantries when we were heading back to our suite and the man seemed seriously pleased that we responded to his Merry Christmas with the Spanish equivalent Feliz Navidad.  Thrilled that we would say that in his own language, and when I attempted  “Happy New Year” in Spanish, oh he was pleased!  It was great to bless his heart with such a seemingly simple gesture.

Tuesdays are usually Movie Nights and the kids were preparing for Home Alone, and as I headed over to watch I looked up to my left and saw this huge glowing blob at the top of the driveway.  What the heck was that?  I took a step back to get a better view.  I quickly called the children and we gathered around that same Mexican family as they attempted to release this hot air lantern, with no success before it caught fire.

They had more pkgs so they invited us to come to the open grass area to watch them hopefully release the next one, where maybe a draft from the grass would help lift it into the air.  But when it was partially filling up with air we spotted a big tear in the side….it would never launch successfully.  So the third (and final??) lantern pkg was brought out, and this is when we discovered that none of the instructions were even

written in Spanish.  Product was made in China so the instructions were in Chinese characters, then poorly translated into English.  That was worth a good laugh!  Good thing there were pictures, some guys who had a general idea of what to do, and a Toveli with slender fingers who gently separated the folds of crepe paper without tearing holes in the lantern.Collage Lantern

The man told us that the reason they were releasing the lantern tonight was in celebration of the baby Jesus….the Light of the World.

Success this third time!  And a thrill to watch my first lantern lift high into the Ajijic air, higher and higher until the paraffin wax ended and the flickering glow extinguished.

Does the lantern fall and land on some unsuspected child’s head?  Laars & I were wondering.

Christmas Preps: Decorating Reception

For years we didn’t celebrate Christmas; tired of the expectations, the commercialism, the whiny kids on sugar-highs, the over-extending of ones family for all the activities at the church where we once belonged.  As fun as Bethlehem Walk was it was outright exhausting, particularly with a cart-load of little kids while hubby and teen kids were intimately involved in the activities.  We baked a thousand cookies over weeks.  Music practices never ceased.

For various reasons we caboshed the whole fanfare.  We tired of the Christmas carols (except for a few of them, and Rita MacNeil is still probably one of my favs since her songs weren’t so worn out!).  We stopped sending Christmas cards and sent out Thanksgiving Newsletters instead (which the feedback was absolutely positive, as so many people get tons at Christmas and nothing the rest of the year) which kept family and friends abreast of our almost-yearly addition of new family members at that time in our married life.

So years of quiet solitude, no tree, no lights, no gifts.  It was refreshing.  No squabbles over who got the nicest gift.  No debt-incurred.  A nice dinner, some games and family time.  And usually some chocolate.

Over the past few years we’ve started to do something for each Christmas.  Different each year, there are no expectations.  No tradition.  For some, that’s almost blasphemous.  Christmas without tradition?!!!  Can’t be.

But we’ve enjoyed it, I think…..kids included.  One Christmas my eldest brother+ came to the Island and did a big scrumptious turkey dinner.  Next Christmas we had an impromptu potluck at our palapa on a Baja beach, a mixture of stuffing and fresh skewered prawns, smashed potatoes and baked yams.  Last year we found ourselves sharing fresh snapper with Matt the Frenchman and Pamela in a Mexican fishing village south of Puerto Vallarta where English was certainly the minority.Collage reception

This year we are at Ajijic with people we met in the spring.  Here in time for preparations……and some decorating!  The kids volunteer to help decorate the Reception hall where we hold Movie Nights.  This is enjoyable for them, these artistic kids.  Their creative juices start, and plans are made for our own suites.  But first, the Reception is complete.

Collage tree

Side note: I found it very interesting that as we sent out less and less Christmas cards the number we received diminished.  Within four years we received virtually NONE.  So much for the Spirit of Giving that everybody else purports, supposedly without any bearing on receiving.  Really???

A FREE Gift to You for Trying Out Nomadic Cards!

Everette and I recently started Nomadic Cards (our name for our involvment with SendOutCards) ‘an online greeting card and gift company with over 100 million cards (and 3 million gifts) sent, making us the largest first-class mailing company in the U.S. and one of the fastest growing network marketing companies in the world. The prompting to reach out and touch someone’s life is something every person experiences. SendOutCards is enabling people to act on these promptings by providing an online service which helps you send personalized, printed greeting cards and gifts as a way to make a difference in the lives of others.’

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Please continue to share Nomadic Cards with everybody you know.

Today I want to make an offer, a Thank You to new customers.  To anybody who signs up as a Preferred Customer ($31) from now until December 31,2014 I will give you an additional FREE account (value $13) so you can Pass It Forward!  Great Christmas gift to bless another person with.

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customer options w arrow

If you want to take advantage of my offer, get started by going to NomadicCards & learn more about the company and opportunities available to all of you.  Watch a short video (or not!) and at the bottom choose LEARN MORE.  There’s another short video and below that there are 2 OPTIONS.  Choose the Customer Options 2 on the right (unless you are interested in making money by being nice to people!!)  and then JOIN NOW as a Preferred Customer.

If you need help PM me via info@nomadiccards.com or my FB pg Karen Schindel Johnson.

Once you’ve got your account set up be sure to let me know you heard of the offer here at Acrobatic Thoughts so I can send you a code for your FREE Account Gift.

This is the perfect time of the year to use Nomadic Cards for sending Seasonal Greetings, but there are reasons to send cards throughout the year.  Learn to listen to your promptings, the niggling inside that says you should contact somebody.  You never know if you’ll be missing your last opportunity with them, or how much they could really do with a cheerful note.

Live to Give

Thanks for Sharing, friends.  

It always feels good to Give.

 

 PS Can you show us a little Lovin’ by going over to Nomadic Cards and givin’ us a LIKE!!  Por favor.

 

Corrales Draws Us In for Christmas

Matt the Frenchman met up with us at our RV Park in Puerto Vallarta along with his new friend Pamela from Wisconsin.  They were recommended a beach about 100km away and after spending one more night at Tachos we got a late morning start heading south for a village, road and beach that didn’t exist on any of our maps nor our 2 different GPS.

But we were told it exists.

The rolling hills allowed occasional glimpses of the Pacific as we traveled Mexico Hwy 200 to the town of El Tuito where we searched narrow cobbled streets for ice and I succumbed to 2 roasted chickens with corn tortillas and hot salsa for $10.  Fast food at its best, lunch at a bus stop on main street.  I don’t know if its considered rude to eat out on the sidewalk like that but Mexicans still said “Hola” and “Buenos Tardes” so it couldn’t be that bad!

Donkey carrying firewood

Donkey carrying firewood

We got directions to head out of town, asking for Corrales in our poor Espanol and using the maps that don’t have it on.  We headed down a narrow road grown in by shrubs to discover it opens up and there are highway signs!  Okay, part of them are missing but the important stuff for us was there.  Corrales!!  That’s where we were trying to get.  It must exist.

A 100 km day seemed like it was going to be a breeze.  I imagined getting to some gorgeous beach in time to bask and swim in the afternoon sun.

Approach into Corrales

Approach into Corrales

Matt and Pamela would have fewer problems than us due simply to height.  They could get the motorcycle in to some very nice secluded beaches.  But Reggie (our van) isn’t as flexible.  So after traveling back and forth the last 20 kms of very rugged roads looking for beach access we asked the people at the end of the road (literally) if we could camp on the beach with their pangas (fishing boats) as we were unable to get under all the growth on the other beaches.

The Bay

The Bay

They were more than gracious.  Maximiliano let us park in front of their store/house, and told us we could put our tents (tienda de campana) in front of the palapa beside the pangas.  Dark was upon us.

We bought some beers to patronize the store we descended on, and we sat on his patio sharing beers and our unshelled peanuts.  Max joined us for the peanuts and a little lesson in language-sharing.  He told us of a nearby faro (lighthouse) and that he’s a childless only-child.  Juke box blasts.

Amazing what we can communicate without sharing the same language.

Sleep was good if you could ignore the crashing waves, the dogs, the roosters, the braying donkeys, and a snoring husband.  Earplugs quiet them all but that donkey is still incredibly l-o-u-d!!

Under darkness of early morning I sneak out to use the banos which kafuffle us.  The men’s with a urinal has a sheet-curtain door.   The other stall with the only proper toilet has no door.  Your view is right out onto a sandy opening in the road where the pangas are, where 3 storefronts face.  Why the ‘door’ for a urinal but not a toilet??

In the dark nobody can really see you in there.  But in daylight one feels conspicuous.  We already feel conspicuous, as if camping in a town’s living room.

Later in the morning we take turns using the bano while several family members stand in front to build a wall.  Jesus notices our situation then instructs the boys/men to pee in the ocean (it isn’t illegal here in this village…it is in PV where Matt the Frenchman got hauled off to jail guilty for that infraction) and the girls/women can use a different bano with a wooden door.  Gracious!!  There are actually 3 stalls at the new-to-us banos.  Women, men, and just a urinal.

We are all relieved, and much more comfortable staying here for a few days now that the banos situation has improved with privacy.  At some point a curtain goes up on the other bano.  We now have options.  None are flushing.  A barrel full of water rests near by with a bucket.  About 3 bucketfuls will get solids down.  Fingers crossed. boy wash fish

Every fishing village has their own system for getting their boats in and out to sea.  Maret & I are fascinated comparing this village with others that we have known.

The pangas are anchored in the bay here at Corrales.  A few are up on the beach.  Under dark the first crews got in a panga on the beach and shoved it out.  They stopped at other pangas dropping men off in different boats before they all head out for the catch.

Others come down to the beach and jump on kayaks, paddling out using their hands or flip-flop to paddle.  It’s a short trip to their panga, then they come into beach and pick up others, delivering them to other pangas.  The kayaks are anchored for their return.  They might be sunk by the time they return due to cracks or holes, but they are tied to another boat or to shore so they can be retrieved.

A fisherman accompanied by his wife and 3 daughters jumped on board their small-motorized boat.  Middle daughter started up the motor after dad paddled them away from shore.  Everybody but mom climbed onto a panga and set off fishing.  Where mom went I don’t know.

Somebody caught a barracuda.  Very big with needle-like teeth.

Somebody caught a barracuda. Very big with needle-like teeth.

Within about an hour and a half the return began with their catch of the day.  Small hammerhead shark, African pompano, Durango, many of the fish we became acquainted with last winter on the Baja.  They sell them to restaurants in the Puerto Vallarta area.clean fish audience

Work done for the day the beer, smokes and joints come out.  I don’t know that they even eat breakfast.  They just start hanging out under the palapa near the store.

Laars awoke with an enlarged gland, Anders with a headache and fever, and Gaelyn with a sore throat.  Kids climb rocks around the point to see what’s there…more rocks, shore and ocean.

Mitchell and Maret paddle out on the surfboards to get a different view.  Later Mitchell takes the kayak out to the other side of the bay and gets uncomfortably close to a breaching whale.  It wasn’t his choice but the behemoths to cross paths there!  We saw some breaches from the beach, wondering where Mitchell might be.  Did he see it, too?  Oh, yeah, Momma!

M& M take Girlfriend out for a sail

M& M take Girlfriend out for a sail

The other kids doodle, more creations on paper, play card games. Laars sits in the shade and builds things with sand, Popsicle sticks, leaves and shells.  Whatever he finds he builds with.  Everette helps a guy fix his roof.  The men repair and/or repair their boats.  Everette and Mitch work on the dory and mend a man’s leaky kayak.

The weather is questionable on Christmas Eve (it rained during the night) but Mitchell catches a ride out with the men to collect their nets and catch over night, so we decide to stay thru the next few days.  We are low on food but we’ll hang around and observe how they celebrate Feliz Navidad.

Mitchell is given a reward for his participation in retrieving the fish and we pay Amelia to prepare us a meal.  It becomes our Christmas Eve dinner shared with Matt the Frenchman and Pam.  Red snapper, freshly ground maize (corn) tortillas, refried beans, hot salsa, lemons with salt.  We feast, and end the meal with peanut butter and Nutella in tortillas for dessert and a game of Dutch Blitz.

Amelia's kitchen fire

Amelia’s kitchen fire

Fresh tortillas

Fresh tortillas

 

 

Our Christmas Eve dinner table

Our Christmas Eve dinner table

Fried Red Snappers

Fried Red Snappers

Anders' meal, putting pieces of fish into his tortilla along with fried beans and salsa.  Roll up yumminess.

Anders’ meal, putting pieces of fish into his tortilla along with fried beans and salsa. Roll up yumminess.

Across the street Oscar shares some cerviche (raw fish dish) on Tostadas while his brother buys  a round of beer. The juke box goes on.  Happiness seems easy.  It’s Christmas Eve.

The ‘party’ disassembles when they carry a man to a waiting truck.  He’s passed out and falls out the front door.  Propped back up they close the door, several men hop in the back of the truck and they head for home.  It quiets down.

We spend much of the afternoon playing in the water with surfboards and body boards.  Jesus arranges for us to take a panga ride out to the faro (lighthouse) and see neighboring beaches.  Beautiful, but the camera battery dies.

Anders and Toveli

Anders and Toveli

 

Jesus from Mazatlan

Jesus from Mazatlan

 

Panga ride out to Lighthouse

Panga ride out to Lighthouse

Back in the village a party gets under way at one of the casas on the beach: girls all dolled up in party dresses; lots of children.; food and fun.  A few Christmas lights glitter but there’s little for decorations, and no big celebration.  There is no church here, no mass.

Music is played in multiple jukeboxes throughout the village, each blaring to out perform the others.

I’m sure Santa couldn’t miss finding this village that’s off the map.

Children are out on the street at 2 am bursting homemade piñatas.  We toss and turn and read the Eve away.  Earplugs don’t help.

The music doesn’t stop until 7 the next morning!!  Then starts up again when the fishermen return with the days’ catch.  Beer, smokes, the day repeats itself.

Matt and Pam pull out of town.  They’ve had their fill of the music.

Matt & Pamela

Matt & Pamela

We have, too, but we’ve got the dory and other water toys down so we stay and play.  Amazed that here we are on Christmas Day, swimming in the Pacific, playing the afternoon away.  We are delighted, hopeful for a quieter night.

Afterthoughts:  Christmas has come and gone another year.  We trust that you embraced those you love with an extra special tenderness this year.  Time flies by and it’s our relationships that matter far more than the dinners and gifts and Christmas trappings.  As the New Year approaches I hope you’ll take time to enjoy those around you.  No matter what you do, reach out and love on those who are within your circle.  And to those not in your circle….at least give a special smile to those you encounter….for some of them that’s the best part of their day.  A smile is a Gift.

GPS Waypoint Boondocking Free camping

N 20.41039   W  105.67173  Elevation 20’