Tag Archives: living in mexico

Not A Food Blog

8 Apr

There was nothing in my childhood that compared with walking into the house after school and smelling my mother’s spaghetti sauce bubbling on the stove. She learned the art as a young bride in Newark, New Jersey in 1942, living in an apartment complex peopled with Italian immigrants. The women took pity on her, taking her under their collective wings to teach her how to cook.

My parents as newlyweds.

She used large cans of peeled whole tomatoes and small cans of paste to thicken the crimson mixture. Garlic, oregano, basil, bay leaves and an array of Italian spices gave the sauce its deep, rich fragrance. It’s funny how a particular aroma can transport you through time and space. Spaghetti sauce is my mother’s kitchen.

Staples you will find in my kitchen at all times.

I remember returning home as an adult to find a jar of prepared sauce on the kitchen counter. I expressed my shock at her sacrilege, but she only laughed. No longer cooking for a large family, with just my dad and her, she took the easy way. I can’t blame her but it was certainly not as good.

Can’t you just smell it?

I continue to make her sauce recipe. I don’t cook it for hours like she did, and I’m sure it doesn’t taste the same. With my own family, I got in the habit of adding a lot of vegetables, mushrooms, cauliflower, grated carrots or zucchini. It was a way to make it a bit healthier (IMHO) and get vegetables into my kids. But I do still use whole tomatoes and paste and lots of garlic.

Three generations circa 1994.

My daughter always asks me to make spaghetti when I come to visit. In this day when children no longer wish to inherit possessions, my mother’s spaghetti sauce can live on. I think that would make her very happy. It certainly does me.

DOS TORTAS

Life Is A Bloody Inconvenience

4 Apr

Of course we are all living through the biggest inconvenience of the century. For that reason alone, surely we should be able to control SOMETHING! A seemingly quiet day of bread making, art project, and exercise can go in a completely different direction fast.

I have been wanting cinnamon rolls. So I made them!

I can always lock myself in my studio, or escape to my hammock with headphones. Interruptions can be many, boohoo.

Don’t let the sweet face fool you.

I find that living with people, dogs, neighbors, the weather, you name it, can all have unforeseen consequences. Some days I’m ok with it, others, it’s a challenge.

Studio time.

On the scale of introverts to extrovert, I fall somewhere off center to the introvert side. I like being alone. In life before Covid, I scheduled a yearly retreat with paints, knitting, journal and a good book. Long walks, sans dogs are such a luxury.

How can I be so cranky living in paradise.? It’s an art I guess.

Today I make the decision to put my plans aside and do what needs doing, a quick trip to the doctor and pharmacy for my mother-in-law. Bladder infections come on so quickly at a certain age. I’ve managed to swim and the bread is rising. Complaining of any sort is such privileged behavior. If you celebrate Easter I hope it’s a good one. Weather here is lovely. Hammock here I come.

DOS TORTAS

Perhaps Swimming

21 Mar

It’s not surprising that reports of mental health issues are on the rise in this time of Covid. When my youngest brother died of brain cancer in 2000, I sat on the couch every night for a year, it was as close to depression as I’ve gotten.

Michael on the left. His hair was growing back after his first brain surgery,

One of the things that pulled me out was swimming. Last night I found an old diary where I wrote about loving to exercise, specifically swim.

Training for the Bacalar open water competition several years ago.

I moved to Bacalar to be able to swim. I have the answer to the blahs in my back yard, cold water and exercise. I just have to do it. My goal this week is to get up earlier and swim before the wind picks up causing the waves that make it more difficult. The motivation of even ten years ago is more difficult to find these days.

My triathlon days.

Fingers crossed it works. Seems I cross my fingers a lot these days.

DOS TORTAS

Ain’t it the truth.

A Very Different Sort Of Weekend

21 Feb

Last week, I was hugging the toilet and not after a night of debauchery in Cancun. Truthfully I’ve never been a debauchery kind of gal, but back in my youthful days, when guys in Mexico would keep the drinks coming, I learned about alcohol the hard way.

Celebrating my 21 birthday in Mexico. Heading out for a night on the town with my best girl.

Now, after living a sedate retired life in Mexico for seven years, I’ve never been this sick. And I’m still not sure what caused the intestinal upset, fever, etc. A course of antibiotics seems to be doing the trick and upping our hygienic game is in the cards. We buy all our produce in a small town mercado. It was probably only a matter of time, although outbreaks of things I can’t pronounce occur in the US food chain all the time.

A lovely small town market in Bacalar.

Wednesday I left for the much postponed trip to the US Consulate in Playa del Carmen, to renew my expired passport. The bus ride was quiet and socially distant. The required masks contributed to the tranquility and I curled up and slept most of the four hour trip.

First trip out in a pandemic.

The little boutique hotel that I had booked turned out to be a real gem. The room was $45US and included a full-on off the menu breakfast. My stomach was finally starting to accept food and I enjoyed it immensely.

House of the Flowers
Seafood soup for dinner. Very typical Mexican food.

Playa was hopping and the little I got to see hobbling around on my still painful ankle was mostly mask-less. Turning my paperwork in at the consulate was the easiest and least painful part of the trip. I’m now sitting in the bus station waiting for the return trip to Bacalar. If I had postponed yet again, I probably would have been able to enjoy myself more. And against the voices in my head, the consulate wouldn’t have cared a bit. Oh well, live and learn.

DOS TORTAS

A Smile And A Shrug

7 Feb

Last summer, to occupy the time of quarantine, I mailed art-cards to friends and family. I painted post card sized pictures and mailed them in Bacalar. It’s a fun way to connect and let my grandchildren and others know that I’m thinking about them.

Nights in the 50s have been a delight.

This past week I began to hear from card receivers, my brother, niece, a cousin. Frankly I had mailed the cards and forgotten about them.

I knew that mail from Mexico took its own sweet time, but eight months!

Every few weeks, I routinely stop by our tiny post office and check our mailbox #16. This week, I casually mentioned to the post master, who is quite familiar with my mailing habits, that the cards I mailed in May had just arrived in the US. He gave me a Mona Lisa smile and shrugged. I laughed and went on my way. The trouble is, you can’t have it both ways. That shrug can be both maddening and charming, depending on the job you need to complete, or the deadline you must make.

This week I registered myself and my mother-in-law for a Covid vaccine. The over 60 crowd is up right after medical first responders. Hopefully the appointments will arrive sooner than my postcards. Fingers crossed.

DOS TORTAS

Garlic Soup (Sopa de Ajo)

31 Jan

Making garlic soup is about as close to comfort food as it gets for me. I have always used it for medicinal purposes as well as a very yummy meal. Just add crusty bread and you have heaven.

Oaxacan sculptor Josefina Aguilera.

I love soup’s versatility and lack of fussiness. There really isn’t a recipe. Sometimes it’s an “empty out the refrigerator” soup before going Sunday shopping. Of course that means you have to have a supply of vegetables needing to be eaten. Carrots are a staple.

Crimini mushrooms in Bacalar, a rare find.

For medicinal purposes, I use an entire bulb of garlic. Anywhere between a clove and a fist-full will work. The soup can be made on the stove, in a slow cooker or, my favorite, the Instant pot. However you choose, the intense aroma will fill your house and possibly the entire neighborhood.

I tend toward Italian herbs, but follow your preference.

The soup base can be made from liquid from having steamed vegetables, canned tomatoes, a purchased vegetable cube, or meat if you prefer. Chicken soup is a time honored cure for what ails you. I prefer a vegetable soup.

I love white beans.

If you don’t mind the heat, add an inch of pealed chopped ginger and/or a piece of fresh pepper. I leave the pepper whole so it can be scooped out and not surprise anyone with a mouthful of fire. Living in Mexico, the shop owners laugh when we buy one Serrano pepper. Compared to the locals, we are wusses when it comes to our heat tolerance.

I don’t guarantee that garlic soup can cure Covid, but it sure couldn’t hurt. There has been quite a bit of research to prove its benefit in fighting colds, lowering blood pressure, improving high cholesterol and a myriad of other health challenges. Have fun and do report back your experience.

DOS TORTAS

Art by me. A Mexican cocina.

Voting From Mexico – No Matter What It Takes

23 Aug

I would expect that everyone in the US and world is aware of barriers currently being put in place to reduce the ability to vote in the upcoming 2020 presidential election.

Living as an expat in Mexico, we’re used to having to stand on our heads to get our voices heard and counted. There are many steps involved. If we can do it, you certainly can, so please get on it.

Our permanent address in Texas is provided by Escapees.com. They are predominately a service provider to collect mail for RVers who travel and live out of their campers.

It’s handy for us. Escapees holds onto our mail until we are visiting the US or have a guest coming down who has space in their luggage.

We use the address they provide on our driver’s licenses, for banking and for voting. Texas, as a red state does not make voting easy. Surprise, surprise. Here are the steps we go through to vote.

1. Download from vote.org a REQUEST for a ballot and fill it out.

2. That request form is then hand carried to the US by a friend who is traveling. (We had planned to be in the US to vote, but Covid-19 changed that option).They will mail it to our county election office.

3. Polk County will then mail our BALLOT to a friend who will send it to us by FedEx or DHL which delivers to Mexico.

4. Upon receipt, we will fill out the official ballot and FedEx it back to Polk County Election Office.

This week I posted to a local FB page in an effort to get ballots NOTB (North of the Border) to vote in the upcoming presidential election. I was dismayed by the following response.

I do not know this person but presume the Biden-Harris frame on my picture had something to do with it. So much suspicion is sad.

If we can do it, you can do it. Please vote November 3, no matter what it takes.

DOS TORTAS

Fvap.gov

Vote.org

This Week In Mexico

1 Jul

Calling Mexico home quickly brought us up to speed with a very important international event called the Mundial (pronounced moon dee al) or World Cup (Just Don’t Call it Soccer) which happens every four years. The US Super Bowl looks like Friday night high school football by comparison.

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Time Out sports bar, a fav spot for Mundial viewing,

Mundial 2018 is taking place as we speak in Russia, and believe me, the whole world is watching. The whole world except for the United States that for the most part does not understand nor care much about soccer. The US team did not qualify to compete in this world-wide event, eliminating whatever smidge of interest that might have existed.

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Kim, works hard to keep everyone in beer and breakfast at 9am.

Mexico won its first two matches causing explosive responses around the country. Mexico City measured the equivalent of a small earthquake with fans taking to the street in celebration. To say this is a huge deal in Mexico is an understatement. Do NOT try to get anything accomplished while Mexico is on the screen. People are huddled around their computer, tv and cell phone. Life is at a standstill.

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Even Mexican pups get in on the action.

Today Sunday is also Mexico’s presidential election. Late night comedian John Oliver recently made an attempt to explain the two main candidates. The reactionary candidate reflects all too well the current opinions of our own US politics. With Mexico as the US’s whipping boy, it is no wonder it’s citizens are fed up. Anyone who wants to “fight back” has citizen support.

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Foreigners living in Mexico are prohibited  by law from participating in political activities in any way. We keep our opinions to ourselves and our fingers crossed. Until next week…

DOS TORTAS 
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The Adventures of Frida The Mexican Street Dog

24 Dec

Does disaster really come in three’s? I hope not, but at least Frida’s run on near death experiences would be over. This blog is NOT called The Adventures of Frida the Mexican Street Dog, but lately it could be. Having lived through moquillo, (distemper) and recently choking on a dog chew. (The Dog With Nine Lives), what else could possibly happen?

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Somehow she got this down her throat.

The day after the choking scare, I took off with my neighbor and her friend Susan to visit Mahahual, a lovely village on the Caribbean about an hour away. They were on a hunt for a lobster lunch, which is in season, I wanted to hang out with them and get out of the house on a cool, beautiful Sunday. So off we went!

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A lovely view for lunch.

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Abandoned hippie van.

We found a great restaurant where they enjoyed lobster tail and I, vegan tostadas. We were on the way home when Teresa’s phone rang, Lisa was trying to reach me. Our neighbor’s crazy dog (that’s what I call him) reached under the fence and grabbed Frida by the snout and “there was blood everywhere”.

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Guard dog on the Mahahual beach road.

I tend to stay pretty calm, especially when there’s nothing to be done while careening down a Mexican highway twenty minutes out. Lisa and her mom sounded like they had it under control but I could tell they were scared.

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Poor puppy, a pretty big gash in her mouth.

I walked into the house and Frida all but flew out of Lisa’s arms to get to me. A good sign of life. She was still bleeding but not in a life threatening way. I messaged our vet who was out of town. He told me what to do. I think Frida got more sleep than Lisa or me that night. We were pretty shook up.

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Naughty or Nice?

End of story, no broken jaw, she is fine. Crazy dog cut her mouth pretty deep but nothing fractured. Frida just doesn’t know she’s a little dog. Sigh. I think we’ve solved the problem of Crazy dog. Haven’t seen him in awhile.

Happy Holidays all. Things are pretty quiet here, just the way we like it.

DOS TORTAS 

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Musings

24 Sep

The continuation of the glowing account of our recent month-long journey to central Mexico needs to be put on hold in light of the recent earthquakes. Many of the places we visited are damaged, destroyed or at the very least suffering. 

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The two bell towers of the 16th century church in Cholula that sits on top of the world’s largest pyramid toppled.  Our Lady of the Remedies.

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We visited here three weeks ago.

We are blessed to have a roof over our heads and food on the table. The need is so great and overwhelming in the world that some days I must turn off the news and simply be kind to the person in front of me. It’s all I have. Other days I have more.

IMG_0580We were robbed again this week. While we are certain of the culprit, there is little definite proof. We have increased the security with bars on my MIL’s house and two of our vulnerable windows. Sad, but necessary.

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Security for Alice.

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Enjoy your week. Connect with your neighbor (unless they are the ones robbing you).  Get outdoors. Be grateful, no complaints.

DOS TORTAS 

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