What is a Typical Week?

My last couple of blog posts have been complaining about our car woes but I want to be very clear – we are loving our new life here and recognize that we have a purpose here that goes far beyond being comfortable in our wheels.

r-r-2017Last week I made a quick business trip to Canada and returned Sunday afternoon, eager to get back to what is now my normal life.  Every day we go to the orphanage to spend time with children.  I am now on the Steering Committee of the home and we are in the middle of the fundraising season. Our largest fundraiser is in less than 3 weeks – 1500 people will come to eat Ribs and listen to music and hopefully spend lots of money on raffles and 50/50 draws and auction items.  I am chairing the committee for this event even though I don’t have a clue what I am doing – which is kind of how I rolled in Canada too (ie Gymnatics Nationals 2007!).  But what we love most is connecting with the children at Casa Hogar and last week was a typical week in our life there.

GROUP VISITS

On Wednesday we helped conduct a group visit.  All we knew was that a group was coming from the Four Season in Punta de Mita to tour the orphanage.  Shortly after 2:30 a giant bus pulled up – I can’t imagine how the driver navigated through the narrow roads in this neighborhood but the children were pumped to see this bus stopping at their house.  40 top producers of a software company – Qualtrics – poured out of the bus and spent the afternoon playing road hockey and other games and touring the home.  They left a GIANT pile of fantastic gifts – schools supplies and backpacks and clothes and fans.  They also presented us with a cheque for $100,000 pesos.  Veronica asked me to thank them in English and I admit I had a hard time talking as I choked back the tears.    During the winter we have many tourists who visit – they don’t all leave $100,000 pesos but they all leave something – a bit of cash, a bag of toys, some ice cream or candies, always smiles and hugs and pieces of their hearts.  I love looking at the children through their eyes and reminding myself why we moved here.  Thank you Qualtrics – and all of the other visitors who have blessed us this winter, including my own friends Melanie from Weyburn and Alex and Jill from Regina.

CHURCH

Wednesday night we accompany the children to Spanish church.  Nothing is as lively and life-affirming as Spanish church and we love dancing around with the children – and holding young Jose as he inevitably falls asleep in my arms.  As much as we believe in feeding the bodies of these little ones, feeding their souls with God’s love and hope is the most important – and satisfying – thing of all.

ENGLISH LESSONS

We started a new program last week using Duolingo to teach the older children English.  Duolingo is language software that Grant and I have been using regularly to learn Spanish.  It has the capability to be set up as a classroom – using individual lessons and group activities.  This means that we can help facilitate their learning without being fluent Spanish speakers.  And it is perfect for children and teens because it feels like you’re playing a video game.  We worked with Miguel, Rubi, Paolo and even young Edgar last week and they are all eager to learn English – and to help Grant and I learn Spanish. Win/Win!  We would love to invest in a few tablets which would make using this technology much easier so if you have any old ones you don’t want let me know!  For these children, learning English will open doors to working in the tourism industry and it will absolutely change the direction of many lives.

HELPING DAD

The home had a broken Golf Cart sitting in the yard for the last few months and Grant set to work fixing it.  He had a LOT of helpers who wanted to hang out with him and help.

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SWIMMING AFTERNOON

Just like in Canada, teachers here schedule In-service days one Friday per month. Last Friday school was out and we were all invited to go swimming at the Yacht Club in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle.   The Yacht Club is the winter home to many families who live on boats, traveling the world.  The children who live on these boats are home schooled and don’t often get the chance to hang out with other children, so they loved hanging out at the pool with our children.  It was a fun afternoon and we ended by making pipe cleaner bracelets.

After swimming, Grant and I drove Jose home to San Vicente as we do every Friday and visited with young Irandi and her baby Alison.

It was a full week and after dropping Jose off we drove to Nuevo Vallarta and ate pasta and sipped wine in a quiet garden restaurant.  Although we are where we want to be here in Bucerias, sometimes we need to withdraw from the crazy noise of children and dogs and roosters and music and close our eyes and just breathe.  To be together.  To reconnect. To toast this life we are figuring out.  To just be Grant and Karen.

MAKING FRIENDS

Last night we attended a Western Themed party.  We are slowly making our own friends here – some Mexicanos, some Gringos.  I don’t think you could survive here if you didn’t have people to ask the tough questions:  Why does my stove dial only have numbers 1 to 5 instead of degrees?  Where do you buy your spices?  Flour?  Do you eat vegetables anymore? You found dried cranberries? Where? What is your favorite taco place?  And always… did you hear that music last night?

Tonight we will go and pick up Jose and deliver him back to Casa Hogar.  Our week will start again.  We will spar with car dealerships and conduct committee meetings and eat tacos and sweep up the never-ending supply of dust that comes through our windows.  We will laugh with children and maybe cry for them.  But whatever this week brings us, we will live boldly and fully.  We will be grateful.  And we will eat tacos.

You’re Invited to Dinner!

Welcome to my neighborhood! As we settle into a routine here in Bucerias, we are spending more time in our own colonia, Buenos Aires. As you know, we are planning to build a house up the mountain close to La Cruz, but for now we are happy to be renting a house in this Mexican neighborhood. So for the next couple of blog posts let me take you on a tour of where we live and tell you about our daily routine.  First of course is the food!

Morning coffee

 

We always start the day with our coffee in bed or on our balcony, blue sky and palm trees welcoming us to come awake. Breakfast is a vitamin fruit smoothie in the back garden and then we work for a few hours in our office. We have a great setup and as I work I look out the window at the cat on the roof next door or the giant iguana in the tree. Sometimes I take my computer outside to work.IMG_20160303_101548

By lunch time we’re ready to get out and explore the town. Trip Advisor tells me there are 116 restaurants in our little town and we’re determined to get to them all! Most are in walking distance – lots of them offer us a delicious lunch for less than $5. Tortas, tacos, tortilla soup, shrimp salad – those are our favorites.

Some of our favorite Mexican restaurants nearby -you can always count on being entertained by some music or shopping or chatting with a friend while you eat!  We also love the little taco stands on every corner with the Mexican abuelas (grandmas) cooking the best smelling tacos imaginable.

 

Afternoons are spent doing errands like paying bills – remember, only 1 errand per day – and volunteering or visiting at the orphanage. Some days we just explore – driving up and down all the streets in the town.  If we are cooking dinner, we stop at all the little shops to purchase fresh ingredients – just enough for today!  We also purchase food from the assortment of vendors who drive down our street, loudspeakers blaring.  I certainly don’t plan menus far ahead – it’s more fun to be surprised by what shows up each day!

Jicama Guy and Corn Guy stop right outside my door

Fish Market and Fruit Store right around the corner – we bought vegetables and mangos and Red Snapper and cooked up this feast. 

There’s the La Cruz market on Sundays – fish right out of the ocean, vegetables fresh from the garden and organic honey and eggs sold out of the trunk of a car…

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Always great food to be had at the beach….

And of course there’s no end of weird food stuff – a grilled cheese sandwich out of a vending machine?

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Our little Mini Super right across the street may look tiny but it always has just what I need – and we visit it once or twice a day to get 20 litre jugs of water ($2) or bags of sugar ($0.80) or eggs sold individually for 10 cents each.  Fresh tortillas are always warm in the red cooler.  It is open from 7:00 am to 10:00 pm every single day and the sound of its rolling door going up every morning and down every night is all the clock I need to plan my days.  There is something comforting about knowing there is always someone in those white chairs, keeping watch over the neighborhood that I was once wary of but now call home.

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So that’s a food tour of my neighborhood.  Next I’ll show you some of the other sights in the streets surrounding my home.  It won’t be the same without the sounds, but you’ll get the idea!  In the meantime, I’m starving and we have at least 99 other restaurants to check out…..