Smitten by a Tree

G & Tree watermarked

Beside our gorgeous Gaelyn stands a new friend who slid right into our family and left a permanent mark.

That beautiful woman is Tree.  That’s what her friends call her, and so we do.

Tree is a teacher by profession, so on her summer break this year she came to spend 6 weeks at the Hotel with her relatives.  But us Johnson’s got the best deal of all, I think.

As a talented teacher she connects with kids, and she has seemingly abundant energy and a burning desire to do activities with kids.  We supplied the kids and she did the activities.

What I love about Tree is she is intentional to connect with each of us.  Her and I had several impromptu chats that touched both our hearts, me thinks, and connected us.  We could have shared for hours upon hours…I think we’ll just have to book a weekend to chat!!

So while Tree was here, she totally unschooled our kids 🙂

  • taught the kids how to play Ultimate Frisbee,
  • did the Ice Block Slide,
  • marathoned thru Jane Austen movies
  • introduced us to Murder Mysteries, two completely different ones.
  • helped Gaelyn start a baking-cookies business,
  • took kids shopping at 2nd-hand stores,
  • did nighttime swims (or in the rain, and with a baby rattlesnake)
  • taught the kids to dance and choreograph
  • shared Pazookie with us multiple times
  • taught Gaelyn to play guitar
  • shared sunrises while she serenaded with her guitar

Last week we had a Farewell Party for her down at the terraza, led by her “Uncle Tommy” who manages Hotel Perico.  He asked each of us to share what we loved most (or will miss the most) of his niece.  And it was quite obvious that in those 6 weeks she was here, she touched many of our lives.

Everyone had kind words to express towards Tree.

Everyone had kind words to express towards Tree.

Her laughter, her sincerity, her exuberance in life.  All so admirable.  I know she will be sorely missed by all my kids.

I, of course, came to tears as I thanked her for her input into our children’s lives.  She says we touched her life….but I think we received the greatest gift of her touching us.

Tree, it was such an honor to not only meet you this summer, but to have intersected here at this moment in all of our lives.  Its not happenstance, it was meant to be.

We Love You.

Tree left us individual notes...her kindness is boundless.  What a kind soul.

Tree left us individual notes…her kindness is boundless. What a kind soul.

Dog Agility and Puppy Love

Hotel Perico was the site for the Agility Jalisco dog event last weekend in which famed Ian Dunbar was in attendance (he was our neighbour for most of the week!).

Our kids LOVE dogs, and especially puppies.  So to have the hotel grounds littered (!) with canines was a little bit of heaven for our kiddos.  At the same time it was a bit of a challenge for the resident dogs here who naturally wanted to protect their own turf from all those intruders.

Epic, still in major training-mode as we’ve (Maret, really) had her less than 2 months, did amazingly well.  She barked at the new vehicles and new four-legged potential playmates that paraded past our suites, but for the most part we passed the weekend with little incident.  Was helpful, I think, that I parked our big van in front of the patio doors so she could see less…but she still heard and smelled tons of attractive things.  Walks on leash were undoubtedly tiring for Maret as Epic had a kazillion new aromas to sniff out!!

Collage Dog staffBack to the Agility event…..our kiddos joined the Staff and had their ‘jobs’ for the weekend. Danaka and Toveli (along with Colleen {left} and E, another traveling homeschooler) were helping with the drinks/snacks and got to enjoy the shade of the terraza (terrace/patio) for the weekend.  Gaelyn & Toveli made posters to advertise the concession.  Gaelyn was in charge of Missy, a rescued dog we’ve had at the hotel for a month+  and Anders helped her parade Missy amidst the attendees in hopes of being adopted (its sounding like she might have found her fur-ever home!!)  Anders put flyers under the wipers on vehicles.  Maret was to keep an eye on garbage, but alas the visitors are so used to picking up dog poop none of them bothered to litter!!  So Maret visited, showing herself hospitable, and took photos/videos.  Laars also cuddled with puppies….a non-official job.  Me?…..I wandered (no staff shirt!), kept my kids fed, and Epic quiet.

Puppy Love.  One of the pups was adopted by a resident here at Hotel Perico so Gaelyn gets to puppy sit India now.

Puppy Love. One of the pups was adopted by a resident here at Hotel Perico so Gaelyn gets to puppy sit India now.

Spectators.  Missy watching, too.  And Tina.

Spectators. Missy watching, too. And Tina.

The official event was Saturday and Sunday.  Contestants came from all over Mexico, Costa Rica, Spain and the USA.  Some of the dogs were taking in their first agility event ever.  Some were so distracted by other scents in the course they just couldn’t stay focused.  There were handlers that totally lost it, their frustration and anger resulting in their own public temper tantrums!!  Pure entertainment, I would say.  Others pushed thru, trying to regain their dog’s attention and finish the course in good sportsmanship even though they were eliminated early in the course.  And some recognized the futility of asking their dog to respond when there was this fascinating new world out there for them to explore, and the handler quit and walked off the course….not tantrum-like but just in total acceptance of that which was out of their control!

It sounded like most people/dogs had a wonderful time over the weekend, in spite of being under direct sun in the heat of the day.  I heard that one dog said, “Forget it…it’s too hot!!” and laid down in the shade of one of the tunnels mid-course.  Smart doggie!!

Collage Dog Jump Collage Dogs jump

Sure, there were winners!  I think the top prize went to the handler/dog in the video I shared above.  But it’s more about the Experience than about the Outcome.  I’d say, the Experience was pretty awesome for all.  They’ve already booked to come back in the winter!

Collage Dog winnersTina & Maret are talking seriously about making some jumps and getting their own dogs trained….potentially for a competition, but more so for the fun of it.  Maybe they’ll be able to participate when they come back in November??


Tequila Dinners

When my sister and brother-in-law (the Lewis’) moved to town and Everette had gone north for work, the three of us were scouting out rental places, looking for a vehicle, getting them familiar with their new surroundings.  We found ourselves going out to eat nearly every day of the week.

Our repertoire of eateries has most certainly increased 100-fold since early March for which I won’t complain….its been a luxury we couldn’t afford up north, but something doable down here….and it brings us great pleasure.

We’ve found some real treats….and some not-so-good.  Of course that goes with the territory.  There is safety in frequenting what you’ve already proven to be of your liking, of both food/service quality and cost.  But I always wonder if my Favourite might just be one more experience away, and so that urges us on to try a new place.

Joanne, Kevin and I stopped in at Hacienda de Don Pedro for lunch one day, surprised to be given a shot of house tequila each.  Joanne and I, not much into hard liquor, took a sip and then poured it into our limeades.  Kevin though, loved the stuff.

We met Don Pedro himself, who spotted our empty shot glasses and ordered us another round.  We tried to decline but with no success….so Kevin ended up with about 4 shots all to himself.  Good thing he wasn’t the driver.

I’d never seen this side of Kevin– loose and happy.  He laughed lots, and talked big with his hands, and it brought happiness to both Joanne and I.  He bought a bottle of the tequila right there and then, and proudly displayed it in front of him, looking longingly for his dreamy-enjoyment.  I claimed dibs on the bottle, once its empty.

don pedro tequilla

Happy with our food, we didn’t order dessert but found ourselves served a cafe liquor which was delicious.  We sipped away, giggling about how wonderful it was to be living this lifestyle here in Mexico.  No busy schedule, nowhere we had to go….except that French bakery just across the courtyard.

And so we did, with  Kevin delightfully ordering in French.  Our lunch finale….perfecto.

So it was not surprising that I wanted to share this wonderful experience with Everette when he returned home.  We made a Date Night with Joanne and Kevin, and with Tom and Jan (managers of Hotel Perico) to actually celebrate Lewis’ wedding anniversary.Collage  Don Pedros

The six of us had a delightful evening.  Food was delicious.  Those that had the daily special of Steak and glass of wine thoroughly enjoyed the steak, very tender and flavorful.  The rest of us had savory foods, too….and were treated to the cafe liquor as dessert.  Yummm!

Well, when Everette spent the day with Sandy and Danielle learning about their tequila business, they warned about even purchasing tequila from Don Pedro as it supposedly isn’t legally made nor sold.  Tequila is a coveted and highly regulated item, along every step of the process from growing/harvesting/transporting plants with their ‘passports’ to distilleries and the following labeling/etc.

For now, I’ll just admire the gorgeous aqua bottle when I get possession of it.  Hopefully it isn’t illegal to have possession of an empty bottle that I never even purchased.

Manicured Palm Trees

Ever wondered how the Palm trees get such smooth and tidy trunks?

Honestly, I’d never thought about them.  I didn’t grow up with palm trees in my evergreen landscape so I didn’t know what a wild palm looked like.  Palms to me were the manicured ones that lined the streets in San Diego and Maui.

Until we watched Juan trim the palms outside our suite here at Hotel Perico.

Collage trim palms

Crashed the Wedding Reception

Smart people invite potentially-irritated people to their loud party to stave off complaints!!

As you know we are part of a hotel-community here outside Chapala where more and more of us long-termers fill up the hotel!  So when somebody reserved the hotel grounds for a lively Mexican Wedding Reception they were warned that there were a lot of us ‘permanent’ renters here, and it would be appreciated if the loud music would cease no later than 2am.  The best plan of action….we were all invited to join them at the reception for dancing and free drinks!!  Less complaints would incur.

Our morning coffee found the soccer field beginning to transpire.  Just the beginning…Collage Set Up

When Everette recorded this in early afternoon from WITHIN our suite, feeling the beat within our bones 

we decided to pack up the family and have an impromptu party of our own down at my sisters place in town.  (Good thing she moved here from Ecuador…now we have family to pester!)

But when it was time to return home we knew we’d be in for some more noise.  Viva Mexico!!

Certainly not in anything like the suits and ball gowns donned by many of the attendees, we used the shadows to join our friends for drinks.

Collage partiers


We watched the boisterous 2-step dancers swirl and twirl to the live music, met cousins (& in-laws) of the bride from USA and Venezuela, and checked out the displays and decorations trying to (unsuccessfully) be somewhat discreet.

Collage Band

Collage CoupleCollage Cake


Everybody seemed to have a great time.  Beautiful bride, handsome groom…festivities until….only MIDNIGHT!

What?  Only midnight?  We discovered that the grooms family owns a baseball team in Guadalajara and they were in the semi-finals the following afternoon.  To be somewhat prepared for the games…they called it an early night!  We were all pleasantly relieved!!