Frida – Mexican Street Dog

10 Dec

This past summer I lost a little dog we adopted from the street, ChaCha. She escaped our yard and got hit by a car. My heart broke and I cried for days. When our friend Carla posted sad pictures of a little dog she found running the streets of Bacalar, I was wary. I wasn’t ready for another heartbreak.

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A bad case of mange.

Carla had to go away for the weekend and we volunteered to keep Frida “on a trial basis”. She arrived and we were totally smitten. Frida moved in like she was home. No questions asked. Smart puppy.

Carla reported that she had taken her to the vet who thought she might have had distemper. Naive and clueless that we are, we thought she was ok after the treatment. Truth is, there is no cure for distemper. She had a head bob and tick in her rear leg. She drank a LOT of water and had difficulty swallowing.

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An infected rump. Who could resist those eyes?

 

The first night we immediately felt that Frida had a fever. Off to the vet we went. She was very underweight. We got the best food we could think of and made a mush out of blended chicken and rice to help her swallow.  Taking turns, it took an hour to hand feed her. As much came out as we put in and we were both covered in puppy schmutz. We were struggling.

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Discovering toys. Her coat much healed.

We took Frida to a veterinary hospital in Chetumal for a second opinion. The sweetest vet sat us down and told us that Frida only had a 50/50 chance of survival. She had to be kept away from our other dogs. She didn’t tell us to put her down, but you could tell that she wanted us to consider it. My heart broke again.

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We decided to fight the good fight and left the hospital with vitamins, wet food, antibiotics and muscle relaxants for her twitching. I continued hand feeding her. She wanted to eat, but was not getting the food down well. I got scared and hopeless, especially since I was leaving for a week in Oaxaca and Lisa would have to care for her on her own. Frida was a special needs dog.

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Caught snoozing.

While I was gone, a miracle happened and Frida began eating. It was slow going. She would lay on her belly and pick up the food one pellet at a time. And boy did she eat. After I got home it was clear that she had gained weight. She had more energy and was so glad to see me.

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And she continues to grow.

I took her for her follow-up visit and the vet was shocked. Frida was declared a miracle. Our skinny little puppy now has a belly. She runs and plays and her head bob has diminished. Her favorite activity is still a nap with me in the hammock. She also loves walks and is determined that Luna will like her. While everyday is a miracle, some days are just better than others. DOS TORTAS 

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Increasing Happiness–Scientifically

3 Dec

This is one of the greatest blog I’ve read. It says a lot more than I could have come up with for today. DOS TORTAS

Surviving Mexico

A few weeks ago, I finished an online course about global poverty.  While I enjoyed the experience, I thought I’d try something more upbeat this time around.  So I registered for The Science of Happiness sponsored by edX and the University of California–Berkeley and was not disappointed.  

Everyone wants to be happy.  Not only do you feel better emotionally, but it provides all sorts of benefits for your physical self as well. Happy people have more friends, live longer, have fewer health problems and generally enjoy life more.  But did you know that 50% of your happiness level is genetic and there’s not much you can do about that.  However, 10% is determined by life circumstances and there are some things you can do about that.  Whereas the remaining 40% is based on your actions, how you choose to live your life.  (See Happiness: it’s not just your…

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Giving Thanks

26 Nov

Having traveled home to Bacalar (seven hour bus ride and 1.5 hour flight), from Oaxaca the day before Thanksgiving, I was in no mood. Thanksgiving takes work, planning, shopping and cooking. Even a potluck has its own tasks and cleanup. Bacalar is not Merida or Oaxaca with it’s large US immigrant population, enough for a restaurant to put on a high-priced, reservation only feast. So we stayed home. Lisa watched no football and I didn’t even think about the Macy’s Day parade, a childhood tradition. Just another day in paradise.

Goddesses in acrylic.

Mind you, I am NOT complaining. We are home bodies and not attached to a particular day to be grateful. I don’t need Christmas or a birthday to buy someone a gift, nor Valentine’s Day to express my love. Everyday is a treasure and I do my best to remember it.

Tiny watercolor and ink sketches.

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The concrete block planter on my roof. My Thanksgiving activity.

Oaxaca was a blast. I learned to step into MY style of painting, listening to what the work is telling me. I was glad for the feedback as I am my own worst critic. The plan is to keep painting and be grateful for what it teaches me. What is your life teaching you?

DOS TORTAS

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Fearless Painting Oaxaca

19 Nov

There is no better place for inspiration than Oaxaca, Mexico. The streets are full of sights and sounds, color and whimsy. So when Connie Solera of Dirty Footprints Studio posted her painting workshop in Oaxaca for November 2017, I signed up! (If you want more of the backstory check out my March 2017 blogs).

 

 

#arthouseoaxaca

Since I am currently busy painting, I will give you a taste of what’s going on with a promise to post more next week. You can also check out my Instagram page dos_tortas.

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A chance to play with acrylic paints.

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There had to be a Guadalupe in there somewhere.

Random thoughts from this week’s workshop:

If there’s water – SWIM – in a pool, pond, laguna, waterfall, river, spring, cenote – move water around…

If there’s music – DANCE – at a party, in the grocery store, mercado, on the street – wiggle your hips, twirl, clap, move your feet, even if no one else is…

If there’s paint – grab a brush, use your hands, and smear some color, PAINT on paper, wall, cardboard, fabric – don’t worry for an end result, or if others will like it – listen to your inner voice, feel, be fearless…

Do it today, don’t wait, your soul is craving freedom. SING, MAKE MUSIC, GET OUTSIDE, RIDE A BIKE. The possibilities are endless.

DOS TORTAS

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No Wrong Turns in Mexico

12 Nov

Murals are an integral part of Mexican culture dating back to the ancients who decorated their homes with frescos that told stories of everything from human sacrifice to everyday life. In the 1920s the Mexican government used murals and even financially supported muralists, Diego Rivera being the most famous, to educate people on the new post-revolutionary order. Murals adorn every village in Mexico with health messages to whimsy.

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Mural in the stairwell of the National Palace in Mexico City. Diego Rivera

Today, whole villages are painted bright colors to create pride and interest for their residences.

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A small village not far from Bacalar.

We recently learned of a mural project in the village of nearby Chacchoben. Guests of our neighbors stumbled upon it by taking a wrong turn, on the way to visit some nearby pyramids. Of course we had to check it out. There are no wrong turns in Mexico.

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The village has been transformed.

A Mexico City artist, Carmen Mondragón, now living in Quitana Roo worked with residents to paint eighty lovely murals on the walls of their village of 1,700 people.

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The artist at work from her website.

The idea was to bring art to the people. There are streets of butterflies, ladybugs, flamingoes, and lovely little Mayan people adorning the stores, school, town square and even abandoned buildings.

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Everywhere we looked were delightful paintings.

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I especially love her people.

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As much as I love to share finds like this one, I cringe to think what tourism could do to this sleepy little town. We saw others taking pictures so word is getting out slowly. I’d love to meet Carmen and sent her a message through Facebook. Fingers crossed. I am off this week to Oaxaca for a week of painting with artist Connie Solera. Just maybe painting murals will be somewhere in my future. DOS TORTAS

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Gallery

Bread for the Dead

5 Nov

Enjoy this blog from Casa Colibrí on Day of the Day events in Oaxaca. 

Pan de Muertos in Tlacolula mercado - October 29, 2017

View From Casita Colibrí

When Día de Muertos approaches, the panaderías (bakeries) work overtime to fill their shelves and counters with Pan de Muertos — an egg based bread, sometimes elaborately decorated, but always with a cabecita (also known as a muñeca), a little painted flour dough head, at the top.

The most intricately decorated bread comes from Mitla.  For a few years, Mitla held a Pan de Muertos fair and competition, with prizes for decoration.  Alas, because their bread is in such demand, the feria was halted two years ago as the bakers put a priority on attending to their customers needs — this is their livelihood, after all!

However, the small pueblo, Villa Díaz Ordaz picked up the slack and last year began holding a Festival del Pan de Muertos.  The village is off the beaten path and the festival hasn’t yet drawn much in the way of tourism, but it’s a…

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It’s That Time of Year

29 Oct

It is that season in Bacalar, cooler temperatures and beautiful sunrises. It’s the time of year that those who reside here year round, live for.

 

The Canadians and other part-timers usually show up about the first of December through April. The hotels are full and the restaurants busy.

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In the four years since we moved here, we’ve seen a lot of growth. There are many new hotels and a wider selection of good places to eat. I’ve heard there’s even a Japanese restaurant although we haven’t been able to find it. Lol

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Lisa really appreciates the new Time Out sports bar run by our friend Kim. We get to watch football and the World Series and eat some good food in Bacalar! Imagine that.

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Love love love Mexican murals.

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We are learning to enjoy the Bacalar of today and smile at the “do you remember when…?” reminiscings of those who moved here before us. The only thing you can bank on is change.

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So enjoy whatever is here and now for you. Love whoever is in front of you. Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude. DOS TORTAS 

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Magical Cholula Revisited

22 Oct

Memories can shape our lives. We can run from them or toward them. And if they are significant enough, we can build little alters to them and freeze them in time. That’s what I did to the village of Cholula.

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We never saw the volcano due to the rainy season.

I left home in 1973, twenty-one years old, and went to “study abroad” in Mexico. I lived with a local family, studied intensive Spanish and raised as much hell as I could. In those days it wasn’t much.

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Making tamales with my Mexican family and fellow student Brian.

In 2013, I saw the youthful dream of living in Mexico realized as my wife and I retired and built a home on the southern most border near Belize on beautiful lake Bacalar. It wasn’t colonial Central Mexico, but you can’t have everything. I longed to go back to Cholula and visit my old stomping grounds. Boy was I in for a shock. A lot had changed in forty years.

Dirt roads and hand-made brick buildings have been replaced by cobblestone and cement block architecture. There is a modern indoor mercado that resembles all others in Mexico. People were fascinated by my old pictures but no one could remember where they had been taken.

This was the 1973 view from the Cholula pyramid looking down on the old mental hospital. I was fascinated at the time with the gardens (right) that the patients worked providing their own food and therapeutic activity.

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Today the hospital is a beautiful museum with adjacent park and playground. The university is buried somewhere in the buildings in the distance.

Cholula has become a suburb of the state capital, Puebla. There are trendy restaurants and festivals galore. I think I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn’t  experienced the quaint village it used to be. Frankly I was shell shocked.

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A day trip to an old hacienda was worth the visit to see this exquisite talavera fountain.

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The church of Tonancitla, one of the best of the trip.

Do not allow my letdown get in the way of visiting this magical city. My suggestions are 1) do your homework, there is much to do 2) find a hotel close to the center. The buses are not difficult to maneuver but conversational Spanish is useful. 3) check the weather (duh) Cholula’s altitude is 7,000 feet which makes it a great escape from the hot, humid jungle we live in. There is also a rainy season. Don’t let it put a damper on your vacation. Dress appropriately. Cholula is really a hopping place and well worth a visit. DOS TORTAS

 

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Life’s Unexpected Treasures

15 Oct

I wish I could say that arriving in the colonial city of Puebla was dejavú, but the truth is, nothing looked familiar. I first visited Puebla in 1973, staying in a boarding house for the first month of studies at the University of the Americas in nearby Cholula. In August 2017, it is a bustling modern city that’s kept much of its old-world beauty and charm. We were pleasantly surprised.

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The convent of San Francisco one of the oldest churches in Puebla circa 1535

I had reserved an Airbnb in the historic district and spent a bit more money than usual. We were not disappointed. In Mexico it is common to walk an unremarkable street of high privacy walls and intriguing doorways. We stepped through one of those doors to inner city paradise.

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During our stay, our hosts directed us to the best mole (MÓ lay); is there any OTHER reason to go to Puebla? We wandered exquisite old churches, artist markets, homes converted into museums, and even a free concert. I did not expect to fall in love with Puebla. This city is definitely a contender for retirement locations.

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Tres moles – poblano, rojo and my new favorite pipian (pumpkinseed)

No trip to Puebla would be complete without a visit to La Estrella de Puebla, the Star of Puebla, a very large ferris wheel. After some deep breathing I joined Lisa the adventurer and I’m so glad I did. No fear!

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The weather made this adventure challenging, but we did not give up.

Puebla was so much fun and worth the time. Our AirBnB hosts certainly added to the experience.

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Luis and Malu (who fed us many local delights).

The world is filled with many delightful people and places. Puebla unexpectedly is near the top of our list.

DOS TORTAS 

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Need A Distraction? Get A Puppy

8 Oct

Let me introduce our little distraction from hurricanes, earthquakes and mass shootings, meet Frida aka Puppy Puppy. She is a dachshund mix. Every street dog in Mexico is a mix. You may remember that we lost ChaCha (A Díos ChaCha), a rescue dog that we adopted the month before our July vacation. Three days into our trip, we got the message that she had escaped our yard and was hit by a car and killed. Our hearts broke. Continue reading

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