mazatlan

Black Eyeliner and Beans

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I feel so priviledged to see more of the real Mexico than the average person who goes there for a week! For example, while standing in line ups at the airport, waiting to leave that paradise, I heard many people complain or comment about how there were beans on everything! I hardly saw a bean the whole time I was there! It was an ingredient in an enchilada I had, I think (which was great). I miss the food! Anyways, I have a theory about beans now, that there are a lot of them in Mexico, but the Mexicans are not overly fond of them (no more than anyone else) so they feed them to tourists! This could be part of a cruel joke, or maybe just due to their surplus! :) Mexicans don’t seem particularly cruel, although when dealing with tourists day in and day out, anyone could get grumpy! :) I had tamales for breakfast most mornings (I think I mentioned that already)… here is a picture of what they look like (half-eaten)! They’re made of corn, sometimes with pineapple added (yum).

Tomales

Other observations of Mexico… the women seem quite concerned with their appearance. It is for this reason I say that if you’re a missionary who likes manicures and mascara, Mexico is the place for you. You’d fit right in! I never saw anyone in a regular, plain shirt, baggy pants, or without their black eyeliner (I must have looked not only very fair but also very plain to them)! There’s an awful lot of make up in Mazatlan! And sparkles, and tight pants… you get the picture. Christian ladies were more modest, but still seemed to care what they looked like. This point was driven home recently on my way back to High Level, when I stopped at a Tim Horton’s and observed what the women there were wearing! Dressed like Mexican bag ladies, mostly! :) A lot of solid colours, baggy/comfy stuff and not much make up or fancy hair. Aaaah, I’m home! So, I am forced to wonder why the Mexican women are this way… are the men overly concerned with women’s appearance too, or do the women dress this way out of competition? I have no answer for that! Theories, anyone? The men, by the way, sometimes wear very flashy shirts… rivalling any rhinestone cowboy! In fact, there are lots of Mexican cowboys, and it seems at least somewhat fashionable for ordinary people (non-cow-folk) to dress this way. But I saw lots of average men dressed for work, or in grubby clothes.

So many times I was wishing I spoke more Spanish! I managed to learn about 50 words and a few phrases before I went, and I picked up more while I was there! But the time I wished I knew more Spanish the most was when I was helping Mary at the sewing class. She goes twice a week to a very seedy neighbourhood (“colonia” in Spanish) and helps a lady from Saskatchewan teach a sewing class! Pretty cool! But, the ladies there speak virtually no English, so I was feeling kinda useless. But, the Saskatchewanian woman managed with gestures and hand motions, and most people were able to figure out what she meant! (The pastor’s wife was there also and would translate if we got really stuck.) The second day I went, I started substituting French a bit, or forms of French, since it struck me that the languages really were quite similar! It helped a bit! :) See the pic at the bottom of Mary and Irma presenting a new sewing machine to the spanish ladies… The machines they had were very old and I spent quite a bit of time just trying to get them to work right!

That’s all for now, I guess! Stay tuned for more blogs about Mexico! It’s the most exciting thing I’ve done in a while! Hopefully, you won’t get tired of it!

Sewing class

Land of Contrasts

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I’ve been busy these last few days – sorry I haven’t blogged more. There is one internet cafe on the island, and it’s only open in the afternoons, and we’re often busy doing things… and it’s hard to decide whether to blog what I’ve been up to or go do more things! Yesterday, we went on the dump tour, where we take food out to the people who work-live at the dump. They scrounge for anything valuable that can be sold, mostly raw materials like metals. The men work at the dump and their families live below it. Quite poor housing, but not the absolute worst I’ve seen. It’s shocking how many people live in such poor conditions. It’s a good thing they don’t have winter and can spend a lot of time outside. Most people, the middle class live in cement houses that are 500 square feet. Many others 100. Very small. Kitchens are often outside, with a dirt floor, and makeshift counters. But even so, the women are quite preoccupied with how they look… and the men seem quite concerned with it too. I get a lot of looks and smiles because I am blonde. I really stick out in a crowd (not to mention pale-skinned). I had the lightest hair at the spanish church service! Anyways, I am enjoying everything, even the visit to Casa Damasco today. This is where the people who have no where else to go go. There are mentally disabled people there, and physically disabled. Their families don’t want to take care of them, or they have no family, so they are stuck. There’s a lady there who was brought there by the police because she couldn’t stay at the hospital who has a broken back. She was in a lot of pain last week, but not bad this week, but she is dying. It was pretty clear to me. I cried a little, and just felt that someone should feel for her… but there are 2 people, Juan and Chinita (I think) who live there! They are there almost 24-7 taking care of these people, changing their diapers, doing laundry, cooking… how amazing. So, if this lady dies, she won’t die on the streets or without any dignity. They are going to try to take her to the doctor and get her into hospice care (for the dying) because she is very dehydrated. Hopefully they can do that, but if not, she will die in peace (I think). Very sobering! There were other people there who were lively though, and I played a game of dominos with one!

What else can I say – this place is one of contrasts. “The Golden Zone” where the tourists are, glitsy, shmancy, fake. The garbage dump where people live off what the tourists throw away (because the locals don’t throw away much)… the chain stores like Wal-Mart, Home Depot, and the market where you can buy whole pigs’ heads!! Dollar stores (essentially) and road-side food stands. The beautiful beaches, with local people walking up and down all day peddling their wares. Prices that are unbelievably low, and people who still can’t afford to feed their children. Luckily, Mary’s church helps the people’s needs long before they ever talk about Jesus or try “convert” them.

Anyways, that’s all the time I have… take care everybody!

Golden Zone Street Golden Zone Street

Typical Street Street on Stone Island

Stone Island

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I´m here in Mexico visiting my friend Mary who is living in Mazatlan. Actually, she lives among the locals on Stone Island. It´s a village community, although it may have a population of up to 1000 people (different people say different things). I am having a great time. I´m in a Mexican internet cafe, POUNDING on the keyboard because it is very stiff and weird. Punctuation is not in the right place on the keyboard, but enough about that.

The village is neat, but not clean. There is no dirt, only sand, and it is everywhere. The houses are mostly made of brick, covered in cement, and most are painted very colourfully – these colours are too bold for most Canadians!!! I have seen some very poor neighbourhoods where the houses are made of tin for walls and palm fronds for roofs. Not too many of those. It´s an interesting mix of modern and old, but mostly old. The people seem quite happy (which is something I always look for). We have eaten food mostly from local vendors – mom and pop roadside stands, and the food is excellent. Not as spicy as I would have thought, but lots of corn (as I suspected). I had a corn drink which was great! There are a few tiny general stores where Mary buys things, and they have almost everything – but no D batteries anywhere on the island, needed to pump up the air mattress I was supposed to sleep on! Yesterday we mostly just walked all around the village on the island. Today we did the morning routine – a fruit yogurt shake, coffee with crema (very thick cream) and vanilla powder, tasted very good, a sponge bath and sat around on the outdoor terrace chatting and watching things happen in the neighbourhood. The house across the street was torn down yesterday, so there were things to watch! We got tomales from a man who sells them off a bike – very yummy! Then we went to the beach and sat and talked and read. I have a slightly pink tan despite number 45 sunblock. But I am ok, in fact, I´m great!!

Well, I should get going. We are going to the mainland today, to a nice public square, and just to see the scenery. Hope you are all staying warm. Love and miss you!

Tomale man

Tomale man with his bike!

Poor Neighbourhood

Poor neighbourhood

I’ve Got My Passport!!

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Well, it’s official – I am going to Mexico!! I had dropped off my forms last week to renew my passport and I just picked it up! Woo hoo! I am so excited! I am going to visit my friend Mary, who is living in Mazatlan for 5 months. She normally lives and works in High Level, but she decided to go to Mexico this winter! She’s having quite an adventure, and so I am going to join in! :) She lives in a little apartment above a house, in a “regular neighbourhood” in Mazatlan. No fancy all-inclusive resorts for me!

My flight is tomorrow morning, early, and the plane makes one stop in Calgary to pick up more passengers and then goes direct to Mazatlan! Woo hoo! No complicated transferring! On the way back, it’s completely direct! So I am quite sure that I won’t have any problems or adventures on the way there – just once I get there!

There is a very nice beach there, apparently, so I am looking forward to a little time on it, although I will be doing lots of other things for sure! The daytime temp is about 25 degrees – summer! So, stay tuned as I’ll try and blog as much as I can… Mary’s also got a blog, so you can check it out if you like - http://www.maryslettersmx.blogspot.com Between the 2 of us, we’ll try to keep you up to date on what we’ve been doing! That’s all for now! The picture below is part of Mazatlan, from Google Earth. (Click on it for larger image.) :)

Mazatlan, MX