Raw and Cooked

We took Layne to just everyday kind of places.  Markets, coffee shops, new and old restaurants, strolls down cobblestone streets where you walk cautiously in case of dog poops, construction debris and uneven sidewalks.

We want her to picture the kind of things we do, the places we go, so when she’s back in Canada she can imagine more vividly the places and stories we describe.  Some are very gringo and some are not.

We’ve tried out about 4 different butcher shops, all pretty similar to this carniceria but this has become our favourite (thank you, Judy & John) in Chapala.  I sometimes cringe when I think of the (lack of) cleanliness in some of these places, but this is their way, their standard.  I can stress myself out over the lower standards and apparent lack of Food Safety or hope for the best.  I’m hopeful!  So far, so good!!Collage Carniceria

Vacationers are always warned not to eat roadside foods.  But for long-term travellers and nomads many of us throw that caution to the wind, make our own judgement according to our own comfort levels, and savour the flavours that waft thru the air calling our names.

This is our favourite place to purchase roasted chicken (pollo) the next block over from Walmart.  A few times a week we leave the main road and follow the smoke down the bank to this roadside stand where the men are always anxious to chop that creature up for us and throw it in a bag for us.  Salivary glands work overtime on our short drive home where we pull that thing apart, stuffing it inside lettuce leaves with a drizzle of salad dressing and pop morsels in our mouths.Collage Pollo



Chapala, Mexico

Last April we were staying in some apartments for just a few weeks before we were heading back to Canada somewhat unexpectedly.  I made an early morning drive to the airport to retrieve Everette and Mitchell and it was then I realized there was tons of energy in this little town.  Early in the morning, >an hour before sunrise the town is a flitter with street-sweepers, and city workers scooping piles of debris, and shop owners, and so many more catching buses.  Its a town always in motion, or so it appears to me.

We really need to explore it more, Everette and I do!!

So we made a point to while Layner was here.  And this is a bit of what we found in our exploration (besides the coffee shop and Everardo)

Collage Chapala

Chapala is situated on the lake that bears its name.  Laguna de Chapala, Mexico’s largest freshwater lake by surface area but certainly not all that deep, the water level fluctuates greatly affected by the rainy season.  Town has put in a nice malecon to stroll, and a lovely park for grabbing some shade at the end of the main road and beside the lake.  The red building is a restaurant maybe we’ll checkout this year….like me its turning 50!

Collage Iglesia

We peeked into the Inglesia (church) to snoop around, got the closest I’ll probably ever get to a Pope, and surprisingly found the Stairway to Heaven in the hallway as we snuck out the back way (see pic below)

Collage Layne Chapala

I realize we’re in Mexico, we ought to be eating Mexican cuisine, but when one sees a buffet of tempting food and you’re married to my sweetheart who’s always got a hankering for Chinese, well even when we aren’t ravenous we take a break for our first Chinese food (I think) in Mexico.  And other than the ‘chow mein’ really being spaghetti with cabbage, etc the rest of the food was quite scrumptious!  I’m sure we’ll find our way back there again sometime.  Especially since we’re determined to start spending more time in Chapala.


Our (little) eldest daughter enjoys being a barista back in British Columbia but unfortunately at her (young) age she’s had to opt for decaf.  With all things considered, she’s feeling better for some changes in her life, so decaf it is.

Everette and I have our favourite cafe haunts, each for different reasons.  Cafe Grano in Ajijic tops the list for the cafe itself…..and we enjoy when they have thick stiff cheesecake for our sweet tooth.  So when Everette took Layne and some of the other kids to town square to meander around it wasn’t surprising that he sent pics from their stop at Cafe Grano…where they ran into the Sampson family.

Collage Cafe Grano

We’ve been meaning to find a good cafe shop in Chapala, a town both Everette and tend to favour but for some reason we don’t mull around there enough.  So we took the opportunity to do so while Layne was here.  We walked the malecon, explored the lakeshore, ducked in and out of shops.  We found a little coffee shop with a lot of gringos and decided to try it out.

Totally shocked to discover the owner is the first Spanish Everett(e) we’ve ever met.  Here is my Everette with Everardo….who has a daughter named Karen.  He seemed absolutely pleased to have met us, and although we forget what the word was he had a name for “the meeting of people with the same name”.  Layne took the photo, and using NomadicCards Everette’s sending Everardo a personalized greeting card with the photo.

Collage Chapala coffee shop


Ajijic Market

The day Layne arrived was the only day during her stay that we could visit a local market so after a short snooze (she had flown a red-eye) we headed off to the cobble-stoned street flanked by tables crowded with wares.  So much candy for the eyes.

I bought myself a birthday gift of silver earrings to replace my hoops I sadly lost while visiting with my mom  in November.  Layne googley-eyed stones, fabrics and sweets.  We talked with ‘shop’ owners: we discovered we ‘met’ this guy painting spoons at Todos Santos on the Baja 2 years ago!  This day he painted us Lands End from Los Cabos!  But we didn’t buy 😦

Collage spoon


Collage Market

We buy the bulk of our produce from the Chapala market and some from the organic market in west Ajijic but this market is where we pick up a few odds n’ ends and appreciate more the crafts.  We’ve bought blown glass, kitchen gadgets, leather wallets, & jewelry from here.  Its always great to get a treat and a good price 😉 and know that its providing an income for the locals.


My Fiftieth WooHoot!!

I’ve never been bothered by getting older.  One of my inlaws wasn’t bothered by turning 30, but turning 31 was an issue as now she was Thirty-something!!  Actually, I like getting older….I guess I’m hoping to get wiser in the process but I’m not convinced its working and neither is anybody else.  Nevertheless, every year I keep trying!!

So I was looking foward to turning 50, the half-century.  Ok, so for a moment the realization that I am likely now more than half-ways done my life did hit me.  My heart fluttered…what the heck have I done with my life?  But the heart calmed and I went on enjoying the realization that I’ve worked 50 years to get to this moment, and I was going to enjoy it.

I had dreams of grandeur, of a smattering of spoiling, of doing something extravagant and memorable.  I had hoped we would be in Guanajauto or San Miguel de Allende, or climbing the Pyramids of the Sun or Moon.  But reality set in and the costs associated with that and….well, we stayed put.  And let Layne catch up with us here to spend her one week vacation time with us here in Mexico (for her third year!).

Collage Karen

Before we set out for the day we had a little gift-giving time where I opened gifts from our eldest daughters.  Our family tends to shun ornate and go for the earthy, natural products, so Layne picked out a beautiful leather journal for my writings.

Rauchelle had given me a deer jaw-bone carved into a snake pendant for Mother’s Day last year (you can see me wearing it in the above photo), and knowing that I adore turtles she took an elk jawbone and whittled out this for….. “Mommy Mother Dearest of Mine”

Collage Elk jawbone turtle

Rauchelle also packaged up some coffee syrups. Took me until the evening Tamale Party for me to realize why the label said JOKES but I got it.  I might be fifty but I’m no dim-whit.  (JOhnson+burKES=JOKES)

Off some of us went to take in the savoury tastes/smells and colourful delights of the street markets in Tonala, a suburb of Guadalajara.  We poked our noses in stalls looking for gifts Layne could take back to Canada.  Juan Ramon delighted us with his personality & frivolity and soothed us with his solar-heated black rocks as he massaged each of us.  We dug through his pile trying to identify both raw and polished stones, and we bought rocks from him for birthday gifts and keepsakes.  Layne is currently taking a Geology course which has revived her childhood fascination with rocks so she was quite in her glory rummaging thru Juan Ramon’s stall.

Collage Rocks

We treated ourselves to shaved ice (like a slushie but waaaay better) topped with kiwi, fresa (strawberries) and pina (pineapple) but oh where, oh where did that cute snapshot of me and my girls disappear to?  Then we stopped for late lunch….I don’t know what they were called and no photo again.  Argh, I’ve got to have smoother transition between that new iPhone6 and blogging.  Between adjusting to a new tool and the fact that our camera is failing us already, this is frustrating, the main culprit behind why I have been so slow to post on the blog.  Argh!

Collage Market

It was a great day spent in the market,  loving the hubbub, the dickering, the colours and variety….the overall aura of the place.  And as we drove down the main street heading for the highway back to Chapala we bought some shades for the van with the traffic urging us on from the intersection while the saleslady hustled down the road to give us the change…quite a Mexican experience.  Oh, I love Mexico!!

In January our community had a King’s Cake and Anders ‘won’ a baby Jesus (we discovered its also referred to as a ‘monkey’ but I can’t really figure the connection out??) so we were to help put on a party for everybody else with tamales.  Normally it would be on Feb 2nd but it had to be postponed until my birthday.  With full tummies we went over to socialize with our community, and somehow most of my family managed to stuff in a tamale wrapped in banana leaves and a Mexican hot chocolate made by Suzanna, with the touch of cinnamon I so enjoy.

Collage tamales

An already full day we finished it with a viewing of Selma.  We are working thru the list of Academy Awards nominations before the Awards are issued on Feb 22nd.  We’re running out of time 🙂  Get the popcorn popping, Mark D!!