Seven days in Mexico, part 1

When I wrote about looking for suggestions about what to blog about, I got several responses, but the one that caught my fancy [“Quick, there goes barb’s fancy!  Somebody catch it!!”] was from my friend Richard suggesting that I do a post about a week in the life of b. hopkins.  So at the beginning of February this year, I started writing about what the past week had been like. 

I figured I would get one lengthy post, or perhaps two shorter posts, out of it.  What I had neglected to take into consideration is my propensity for going on and on when I actually feel like writing.  And, as often happens with me, the post [like my hair] got longer and longer so that I put it out of mind until I had the time to decide what I wanted to do with it.  [Again, like my hair.] 

While I was mulling it over, I got busy with life, including a vacation in Manzanillo, so you got nothing out of me at all.   But let’s get started on these particular seven days in Mexico…the period from January 28th to February 3rd, 2012. 

Saturday, 28 January 2012

I belong to a women’s group down here called Chapala Gals.  It’s a Yahoo group so there is a lot of exchanging of ideas and information online, but we also have a subset called the Morning Games group.  Pretty much what it sounds like.  A relatively small group of us get together to play games.  No set schedule; no set games.  Whoever wants to host can do so and name the day and the game.  The only thing that remains constant is the starting time of the games:  10:30am.   [Think about it, all my working stiff friends.  Wouldn’t you like to be headed out to play games at 10:30 in the morning??  Retirement is kinda like that…..recess all day with a few chores thrown in.] 

On Saturday, the games were at my friend Barbara Lauer’s house in Chapala Haciendas.  Chapala Haciendas is kind of a northern “suburb” of the town of Chapala, just off the highway to Guadalajara.  As I’ve told you before,  Jocotepec, where I live, is at the very western tip of Lake Chapala.  The lake is about 55 miles long.  Chapala is about 1/3 of the distance of the lake east of me.  See it on the map down there? 

It’s really not many miles [or kilometers] away, but it takes a while to get there because of traffic on the primarily two lane highway that runs parallel to the lake.  Takes me about 40 minutes from my house to the “other” Barbara’s house.  And we sometimes go out to lunch afterward.  It’s a fun way to spend a day.

My friends Vicky, Nancy, “other” Barbara and I had a good time playing Joker while sitting under Barbara’s palapa.  Joker is a card and board game kind of like Parcheesi with a twist.  And don’t know what a palapa is?  It’s like this:


Except at Barbara’s house, there’s not a pool right there, there’s her beautiful garden, loaded with fruit trees and beautiful blooming trees and plants of all kinds. 

Sitting outside at 10:30 in the morning on the 28th of January, you say?  Oh, yeah!  Even by Lake Chapala standards, so far we’ve been having a mild “winter.”  Daytime highs in the mid 70s. 

On Saturday afternoon when I returned from games, my interim gardener, Ruben, was here with his wife Josefina and one of their seven children.  The kids range in age from 14 down to about 18 months.   A different kid comes with them each time.  I haven’t figured out if coming to work with mom and dad at my house is considered a punishment or a reward. 

Today, it was three year old Marcos.  When Marcos first came over with the folks a couple of weeks ago, he was quite shy.  He spoke to me a couple of times, but otherwise stayed close to his dad.  This afternoon, however, he burst through the gate first yelling, at the top of his lungs, “BARBARA!!!  TIA BARBARA!!!”, throwing his arms around my knees like a teeny, tiny NFL tackle.  Absolutely the best thing that happened all day….and the day was pretty damn good anyhow!   

Sunday, the twenty ninth of January: 

At least one day every weekend, I try to get together with my best pals, Kathi, Jonnie, and Sher….or at least some combination thereof.  And because I was busy on Saturday, we chose Sunday for our weekly get together.  This week we chose to eat at the newly opened restaurant of one of our favorite local restauranteurs, Ruben.   [No, not my gardener.]

For many years, Ruben ran a restaurant in San Juan Cosala [about halfway between Ajijic and Jocotepec….consult the map above] next to the hot springs pools [thermales].   Then about a year ago, he ventured into the foodcentric area of Ajijic.  Not sure what happened, but now he’s back on the west end of the lake, specifically in Jocotepec, where he was born, although he lived and worked in California for many years. 

And we’re happy to see him back on this end of the lake.  Not only is he opening a restaurant here, but he’s going to open a boutique hotel.  Yeah, right in downtown Joco!  [“Well, we’re movin’ on up…to the East side….’]  Although Ruben’s moving on up on the West side. 

Because Ruben is Ruben, a restauranteur and born showman through and through, he greeted us each with a kiss and took us upstairs to see what’s there now and describe what he’s going to do.  And then we had lunch. 

Not a lot of choices right now: 

But Ruben still likes to set a nice table, even if the dining area is in what was the parking area of the previous establishment:  

Because we had read a rave review of the burgers, we all had cheeseburgers and they were delicious!  Fat, juicy handmade patties on toasted sesame seed buns, with lettuce, tomato, onion, jalapeno peppers, and, I’m gonna guess, white Oaxaca cheese.  [Mexican cheese is white, not yellow.  And, to my taste buds, Oaxaca is similar to Monterey Jack.]   All ingredients, I am absolutely certain, purchased locally.   No big trucks delivering food supplies to restaurants around here!

So that’s what the first two days of these particular seven days in Mexico were like for me.  Yeah, a bit busier than usual, but good times.  Will I, because I’m a lazy thing, rest on day 3 or are there more adventures around the corner??  Tune in for more updates! 

And here’s your music video for the day:


About Barbara

in april of 2008, i moved from the united states to mexico. during my working days, i held lots and lots of jobs....almost all chosen because they were fun or interesting instead of how much they paid. when i started thinking about retirement (in my 40s), i realized that i would never be able to retire to a country where english was the native language. and although i had traveled to every state in the US -- and lived in lots of them -- i had never been outside the country with the exception of canada and mexico. and since you now know that i could never afford to retire in canada (even to the french-speaking area), mexico won by default.
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4 Responses to Seven days in Mexico, part 1

  1. Gaby says:

    Well gee… and here I thought that I was the one who asked you to please describe your typical daily life! Oh well, as long as we get to peek in & be jealous..

    Sounds like the weekend was fun for you. You’re not socially isolated. You’re out exploring the area. What happens late afternoons & evenings for you? I know you can’t go to a bar in Joco to hang out, listen to music, dance, practice your spanish, play checkers, etc. What do you do when it gets dark out? (you can email me back-channel if you want on this one..)

    ps: vacation in Manzanillo! I’ve just spent most of my Sunday morning looking at rentals there. Looks like a HUGE port city. Where did you stay? What did you do? Did you go alone? Can’t wait to hear about this trip. Gaby

  2. Kathi says:

    Oh yes. No matter what fond memories you have, our Barbara is really really into the retirement dilettante thing. She’s become the hostess with the mostest of Jocotepec. People vie for invitations to her afternoon and morning salons.
    What a babe!!!

  3. Karen says:

    What fun you Chalapa girls are having! I love the palapas. And Ruben’s food sounds wonderful!!

  4. Gigi says:

    Ok so I’m behind reading the bloglist, so am just starting your week. Right off the bat I’m impressed that you began writing about a a timeframe almost a month in the past with such vivid descriptions!! Good for you, tia Barb!

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