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February 24, 2008

Here a Grant...There a Grant...Everywhere a Grant Grant

Grant Thacker















     Word travels quickly in the La Penita RV Park, especially if there is a little fun attached to whatever is being discussed.

     One of the women in the park suggested to Carole, Grants wife, that the Park Residents were interested in paying tribute to Grant.  She suggested that the best way to do that was first of all to keep it secret, and secondly everyone should dress and try to come looking like Grant for Sundays Hamburger Night.

     Now let me say, with tongue in cheek, and with deep respect for the man, Grant is not a fashion icon.  Quite frankly, Grant is one who truly dresses for comfort.  I believe some years ago Grant must have purchased a truck load of grey polo shirts, dark colored shorts, black socks, dark shoes, and a few straw hats, and try as hard as he might, he hasn’t gone through that truck load yet.  If Grant is tending to the needs of the park such as fixing a plumbing leak, or replacing a blown electrical breaker, or assisting to park a rig that has just pulled in to the park, Grant is dressed as I just described.  If Grant is going out on the town for dinner (where the waiter lays the white napkin in your lap) or showing up to be surprised at Hamburger Night, Grant will simply select from his closet/truck one of those grey polo shirts, dark colored shorts, black socks, dark shoes and most likely a straw hat.

     Word spread quickly throughout the park, the secret was kept, Grant showed up tonight for Hamburger Night, dressed as he always is.  The moment he saw so many that looked dressed just like him I saw him curl his lip trying to hold back a little smile, but when he saw a few name tags on others that read, “Hi, I’m Grant…Can I help you park your Rig”, He broke in to a huge smile.

     We roasted, through fashion expression tonight a man who has been a kind and gentle friend to us all as he did his best to tend to the various needs of this RV Park that is managed by he and Carole.  He took it all in stride and fired back at us with his usual good humor as cameras clicked and fun was had by all. 

     If we all could pool our advise for Grant it would be; don’t change man, we like you just as you are!

                                                      Grants Slide Show


February 22, 2008

"I give you my word"

Musica de Africa















     Kathleen and I have attended the weekly market on Thursdays in La Penita since our arrival in early November and with few exceptions a group of young Mexican Lads can be seen and or heard at various spots around the market playing their home made drums and other percussion pieces to what they call “Musica de Africa”.  Suffice it to say, they have an awesome beat and sound.  We first saw them perform under full sunshine in early November when the temp was pushing 100 F with 80% plus humidity.  As the beat of their music intensified so did the sweat beading up on their brow.  They generally placed themselves in a half moon sort of position so the hat that they had sitting on the ground for “tips” was easily visible to those so inclined to reward them for their efforts.

     We would always return from the markets commenting to each other how much we enjoyed their music and wishing that by some miracle they might have a CD recording of their work.  It is now four months in to our stay and a week ago at the market I finally was able to ask one of the boys (in the red hat), if they had been recorded.  I don’t speak but a little Spanish and he even less English but he knew what I was asking.  He told me they had been recorded but he did not have any CDs with him.  If I would come to next Thursday’s Market he would have one for me and it would be 100 pesos ($10.00).  I told him I would like, dos (2).

     Yesterday we were at the market; our last one before leaving back for the states, but to our dismay the drum music was not to be heard.  Just before we were to leave the area of the market I heard the music off in the distance.  It was indeed the boys and they were playing to a small crowd who had gathered just outside the market area in the middle of the street.  We patiently waited in the warm sun for them to finish playing and between songs I got the young man’s attention and asked about the CD.  He was extremely apologetic and was trying to get me to understand that he would need a couple of hours more and he would have them for me.  I explained that we were finished with the market and leaving for the RV Park.  He told me that he would find me and deliver them as soon as he could.  I told him our site number in the park and told him to check with the office when he came to the park and they would see that he found me.  (Remember all this between two chaps who don’t speak each others language.)

     Several hours later back at the Park I was visiting outside our coach with several neighbors when I turned to see “Tacho”, (one of the park maintenance men) and the young drummer in the red hat approaching.  Beads of sweat were very prominent on his forehead and he seemed a bit out of breath.  He explained, that he had run all the way from town (a fair distance), because as he said, “I give you my word”.  In his hand were the two CD’s.  I gave him 250 pesos (including a 50 peso tip).

     We have listened to the CD and at first were a bit confused as there are about 13 tracks of various styles of music, (not drum music), but buried near the end are two tracks that without question are from him and his friends.

     How the CD was made, when the CD was made, where the CD was made all could be questioned but why would we?  The two tracks of “African Drum Music” are awesome and we will listen to it whenever we want our hearts to return to La Penita.

     We shook hands and I watched him walk back in the direction of town.  I regret not getting his name, or asking him to sign the unmarked CD’s.  I now have the memory of making a friend of a fine young man, struggling to express himself through street music, making a few pesos, whenever, and however he can, and being proud of who he is and what he does.




Musica de Africa















     Perhaps I'm just another Michael meeting Miguel!      

                                     Michael meets Miguel 







February 16, 2008

Be my Valentine

My Valentine














     Kathleen tells me she remembers the days when the art project in class was to make the fancy box with the slot in the top to set on your desk on Valentines day so your class mates could put a valentine in it with special x's and o's on it if they so desired.  Heck, all I remember is conning some cute thing in my class to make the box for me!

     Valentines day in Mexico was no different than anywhere else.  Flowers were much in demand and finding space at a restaurant required a reservation.  Several of us got together and took our Special Valentines to Dinner.

     Several of our other close friends here in La Penita had other plans so I didn't get to take their pictures but they also enjoyed an evening together.  The following couples found themselves in front of my camera.


Glen and Brenda
















Al & Jean















Barry & Marion













Happy Valentines Day to All our Friends!

February 13, 2008

From Beach to Dinner

Friends on Beach















Friends on the Beach


     It has become common to arrive at the beach and find friends gathering, or if you are first to arrive, it usually isn’t long and your friends will begin to gather.  Pictured here is just an example of today.  Tomorrow is a new day we will probably do it all over again.



Dinner Out


     It is not uncommon to have several couples get together to go out to dinner.  Sometimes it is to pay tribute to a guest of a friend who traveled miles to visit and sometimes it is just to enjoy the company of friends.  Pictured here is just an example of today.  Tomorrow is a new day and we will probably do it all over again.





Friends at Dinner













February 12, 2008

Lovers On The Beach

Lovers On The Beach























Kathleen here,


The plan, always, is to drag our chairs, our books, our sunscreen, and our bottles of water down to the beach and enjoy a lovely afternoon of relaxation. And this we do. The blue sea, endless and beckoning, it’s waves crashing to shore, each with a different style, a different sound, a different purpose. But the many times we have been to the beach, I have yet to pick up a book. I have not closed my eyes for a quick siesta.


I cannot take my eyes off of the surf, as it is mesmerizing. The last time we were there, my attention was given to a couple of coconuts that had found their way to the shore. They were bouncing and rolling with the waves, as if they had together planned a day of fun in the sun.


I imagined them being lovers frolicking in the surf. One was caught by a wave and rode it high until it was dumped onto the incoming rush. He then rolled until the wave deposited him onto dry sand far up onto the beach. His mate bobbed in the surf and caught a wave as she called for her lover to join her. She rolled and bounced, attempting to reach him, but the surf only pulled her back again into the sea. Soon a crashing wave rolled in far enough to catch him; he grabbed it and was washed out to her. They again played together enjoying the cool sea. Another roll of the sea and she found herself on the sand. She watched him as he was tossed about calling to her. Occasionally they both were together either in the waves or on the sand. But never were they ever close enough for an embrace.


This continued for the duration of our visit to the beach. As the afternoon passed, the waves grew stronger and fiercer. One of the lovers got a little too far out. Her mate rolled and twisted on the sand trying to catch an out going wave, only to be pushed higher onto the beach. I could imagine his calls to her as he watched in horror. She continued to bounce and with helpless attempts, she was pulled further and further away. A wave finally caught him and he pushed to reach its peak. He threw himself out to her with a frantic heart and sickening fear. But she was no where to be seen. The under tow had swept her beyond the protection of the small cove and had sent her tumbling onto the rocks. His attempts to join her beyond the barrier of rocks, was in vain.  He was sent rolling, as the waves spit him out onto the sand.


As we prepared to leave, a wave rushed ashore and he soon was on it gaining speed and heading out to catch a climbing roll to the sea.  I turned and watched him, as we climbed the steps to our car. He was bouncing and turning, calling and crying for his beloved.  At last I saw her. She had made it to the safety of the beach away from the fierce waves and the rocks. But jagged rocks now separated them. She was calling to her mate, trying to be heard above the crashing sound. She was safe. Did he hear her? Was he trying to catch the wave that would carry him to her? My hope is that they would find one another and the sun would set as they finally shared an embrace.


George, who has not the imagination that I have, had one remark after reading my story.

“I wonder if one of them could have been Wilson?”


                                                      Slide Show

February 11, 2008

Bebe Karen Michelle Arrives

Welcome Baby















Bebe Karen Michelle Honors RV Park


     What a treat!  Our special friend Cece, the young Mexican lady who is responsible for the pool side restaurant has been doing a stellar job of preparing breakfast’s pool side with her helper Ruebin since our arrival in November, and has been doing so while very much with child.

     A week ago today “bebe Karen Michelle” was born to Cece and Javier.  Javier has temporarily taken over Cece’s kitchen duties and he and Rubin continue to put out some mighty fine morning meals.

     It goes without question that with all the Ladies, and especially grandma’s, or grandma’s in waiting, that for someone as well liked by all as Cece is, there would have to be a baby shower.

     Today the baby shower was held and to those of us who participated it was a special moment to welcome the little Chiquita to the RV Park.  There were gifts to be given for sure but the highlight for most was the opportunity to get that grandma or grandpa fix by holding, but if only, for a moment such a tiny miracle.  Especially for one soon to be grandma and grandpa, Dennis and Helen, who are expecting their first grandbaby in July?


                                                        Slide Show

February 09, 2008

Shoes and Flowers

Shoes Outside our Door















Shoes Tell a Story


    As I was picking up and arranging things outside the motor coach today I looked at the arrangement of shoes that we have outside the door and concluded that with a picture I could claim either that we had a lot of visitors, or that we just have a lot of choices when it comes to comfort in our new lifestyle, especially here in Mexico.  Actually both are true as when our friends do come a calling their shoe style is much the same as ours.  No need any more for the steel toe stuff, or the polished to the hilt boots, or the high heels.  No sir, just give us something that is easy to get the sand out of, easy to climb in and out of on a whim, and just plain feel good when ya’ got em’ on.

Rescued Flowers














Rescued Flowers


     When we arrived here in early November it was hotter than holly, you know what, and there were planters of flowers all along the walls of the pool.  Apparently when people leave for the season they put their flowers around the pool so the maintenance folks who tend to the park in the off season (Mexico’s summer), can water them.  The pots have the names of the folks on them and when they return again in the fall for another year they can go claim their plants and spruce up their pad as desired.  As people filtered in to the park throughout November those plants gradually were mostly claimed, except for a few that totally looked dead or in some cases the folks whose name was on them were for sure not returning to the park and those of us who were “newbie’s” to the park could claim them.  We moved three potted plants over to our pad that quite frankly looked to be on their last leg.  With a little fertilizer and some tender loving care they have thrived and are looking pretty good now.  They didn’t photo quite like I would have liked but from what I have you can get an idea of how they look.  Other photo’s are just around the front of the coach and to let you know that we always have the “Welcome Mat” out!

Fromt of Coach



























February 07, 2008

Road Trip Final Day

As seen from the Road















     In spite of a good nights sleep, my miserable cold is hanging on, and we decided to forgo the Mangrove Swamp boat trip, and just point the car toward our Motor Coach and lie low for a few days.

     Following a so-so breakfast at the beach side restaurant we ate at last night we headed for “home”. 

     The drive North along the coast toward Puerto Vallarta was very light of traffic and the scenery was beautiful.  We continue to be impressed with the quality of the roads in this area.  Following a by-pass of sorts around the down town area of Puerto Vallarta proved to again be a piece of cake and before we knew it we were in the familiar territory of Wal-mart and the airport.  We stopped at Wal-mart to replenish some supplies and check out the cough remedies that were available.

     We felt bad cutting this trip short as there certainly were plenty of little side trips we could have done from the area we were in and we will plan to redo some of this Road Trip and add to it when we get back down here for our next Winter stay.

     If this little road trip did nothing more, it was a success in showing us that we can take off and literally go anywhere on lateral exploratory trips.  The road signs were fairly easy to follow and when we did get a little lost all we had to do was point to the place on the map that we wanted to go and let our Mexican contact pantomime with large sweeping gestures as to where we needed to go to get back on track.

     In the following slide shows, (I broke them in to two shows) are some pictures that represent what we were seeing as we traveled along.


                     Slide Show 1                                   Slide Show 2

Road Trip 2nd Day

A typical Beach Stretch















     We did hit the hay early following day one so getting up early to start day two was fairly easy.  It would have been nice to just lie in bed and listen to the waves crashing on shore but we had miles to cover.

     As far as we could decipher no one in this town including this fine hotel served breakfast so we decided to hit the road and just stop when it looked right.  As we entered the first town on our way down the road I noticed a lot of trucks parked along the road in front of a little restaurant and decided from my earlier days that truckers usually know a good spot.  We were not disappointed.  Our breakfast was served piping hot and a true trucker’s portion.  What more could I ask for.

     We headed off following the hiway signs for Manzanillo and could not believe the quality of the road.  From Cuastecomates this beautiful road both climbed mountains, followed the coast, and meandered through fertile valleys with fields of various vegetables.  There were a zillion places we would have liked to stop and visit but we were on a mission to get to La Placita and check out an RV Park that we had been reading about.

     There was a four lane expressway that by passed the outside of Manzanillo and it sure saved us some time as we went south.  When it finally reached the southern edge of Manzanillo it followed the edge of sand dunes fronting the ocean and was a spectacular drive.  In the next 50 miles we encountered at least four military check points and were waved through without having to stop at any of them.

     The road surface narrowed but continued to be smooth and without too many pot holes.  Kathleen drove the rest of the way to La Placita and I got to enjoy more of the scenery than I normally can when driving.  Interestingly the organized appearance of the scenery changed when we left the State of Jalisco, and turned to a tight against the road jungle when we crossed in to the State of Michoacan.  Without much trouble we found the RV Park we were looking for just south of La Placita.  The road that entered the park was our first clue, in addition to it being a very remote location, that this park would probably not suit our tastes.  We drove in to the park and observed several rigs parked at their pads that were in the 38 to 40 foot class.  There were several people milling about but we were so unimpressed with the location and park we turned around and drove on out.  Maybe some day when it has been further developed we will have to check it out again, but for now we will stay with our current plans for the future.

     It was still early in the day and it called for some discussion and decision making.  We could deviate on our way back and go inland a bit to check out the city of Colima, an interesting Colonial Style city that I had read about, or just head back to our RV park and the tininthewind at La Penita.  Since I have been under the weather with a cold since leaving on this drive we decided it might be best to just head back.

     The drive back and especially around the Manzanillo bypass was again interesting as we were looking at the landscape from a different direction.  Interestingly all of the Military check points were now unmanned as we assumed it was siesta time.  I guess any smugglers or drug runners should know when to travel, huh?

     We decided to bypass the little beach village that we had stayed in on our first night and head instead for Tenacatita, a small beachfront settlement on the Costalegre (coast of Jalisco) located about 27 miles northwest of Barra de Navidad.  Previous research had indicated that when visiting Tenacatita one should bring insect repellant as it is surrounded by mangrove swamps and a river.  This would be new to us as we have not encountered any insect problem since entering Mexico last November.

     We drove through the little town of Tenacatita as we checked out what was available for lodging and restaurants and settled on the beachside hotel, Paraiso de Tenacatita.  $40.00 U.S. for a very nice room overlooking the bay with easy access to the beach and we were set for a good nights sleep, but first we wanted to find a good restaurant and experience a meal that is a specialty of only Tenacatita.  As the story goes, it was a chef, Silvestre “el gato” who had worked on a cruise ship who taught Maria del Rosario of Restaurante Sirenita how to prepare the dish.  As it became popular all the beach side restaurants began to prepare it as well.  It is a fish filet stuffed with chopped shrimp and octopus in an almond sauce, wrapped completely in bacon and covered with more almond cream sauce.  It is a rich and flavorful dish and was just wonderful.  Our young Spanish speaking only waitress Jaillee offered to take our picture and we in turn took one of her.  The smile on her face is representative of what we have encountered everywhere we have been this past four months in Mexico.

     We are tempted to take a one hour guided boat trip through the mangrove swamp and up the river as apparently there are many camen (crocks) and other interesting wildlife to view.  We will see how I feel in the morning and go from there.

                                                                  Slide Show

February 06, 2008

Cuastecomates Mexico Road Trip

From our Hotel Window















     After sitting still in the La Penita RV Park since November 2007 it was time to lock up the tininthewind  motor coach,  jump in the car and head south on Mexico Hiway 200 along the west coast toward Manzanillo, and who knows if all went well maybe even as far south as Zihuatanejo.

     We had told our friends we would be leaving and approximately the day we would be back, and of course we told them if we got in trouble along the way we would e-mail them and they could decide what to do about us.

     We got a relatively early start on Monday morning and the first leg of our trip would be to Puerto Vallarta.  We had made this trip on numerous occasions both to pick loved ones up at the airport and to go to Wal-Mart.  Once we got to Wal-Mart and continued south on Mex 200 we were in uncharted territory.  Unlike me, I had done very little pre-planning as we both decided it would just be fun to “wing it.”  Getting around and through Puerto Vallarta was quite easy and navigating the tunnels that I had read so much about was a piece of cake. 

     The hiway south from Puerto Vallarta was two lanes but in excellent condition as it wound its way along the coast.  At times my mind would go back to my trucking days as this hiway and the scenery reminded me a lot of hiway one going north out of Los Angeles.  The ocean scenery was spectacular.  We left the coast only for about 50 miles as we climbed some pretty high mountains and then dropped in to a very fertile valley with many fields of various crops but especially banana plantations.

     Our destination for the day was to be Cuastecomates, a small community tucked into a small, secluded bay located about a mile west of Melaque.  It features a 300 yard long beach with gentle waves.  There are a number of palapa restaurants along the beach and supposedly one hotel at the south end.  This little out of the way community has been overshadowed by Melaque and Barra de Navedad which are a stones throw away and we were hoping that its remoteness just might suit us and we were not disappointed.

     We arrived in Cuastecomates about 2:00 in the afternoon and although we could see the hotel, decided to walk the beach a little and check out one of the palapa restaurants.  We both had a good meal and then meandered over to see if we could get a room for the night.

     The hotel was certainly not a five star but it looked very elegant perched on the hillside overlooking the beach.  The desk clerk, a young man, spoke no English but was able to communicate to us that it would be $650 pesos for the night.  That is about $65.00 U.S.  Since there were many parking spaces available I assumed they were not busy so thought I would try to negotiate a better rate.  Sometimes we gringo’s do look like an easy mark.  We got the room for $45.00.  It was a huge room, very clean, with a spectacular balcony view of the ocean and bay.  The gentle rolling waves will lull us to sleep as we will simply leave the sliding glass doors open and enjoy the sounds.


                                                            Slide Show


February 03, 2008

What Time Is It?

     For months now when questioning the time we have all been saying, “who cares?”  Just in the last couple of days, time seems to be taking on a little more importance.  Friends ask us, “When are you leaving back for the states?”  We in turn are asking our friends the same question, as to when are they planning to leave.  These questions floating around sure put reality to the fact that it won’t be long and we all will be heading for either the U.S. or Canada.  It will be exciting to finally be on the move again, but it will also be with mixed emotion, as we part company with many special friends.  There are quite a bunch of us who plan to return to Mexico next November and we will have a big reunion then.  Some we may even have the opportunity to visit as we travel throughout the summer.


     Starting tomorrow Kathleen and I are leaving our coach in the protective custody of our neighbors here at La Penita RV Park and we are going on an exploratory trip down the West Coast of Mexico by car.  We really don’t have any firm plans for where we will go, or how far, as we want to be totally free to do as we please.  We plan to return on Friday or Saturday, just in time for us to get ready for a little finger food party we are planning to host for Sunday evening.  One of my RV park neighbors has hired the Perez Brothers to play at a little private party he is hosting and it just makes good sense to host our friends at our place and take advantage of listening to a couple of hours of excellent music.  I have commented about the Perez Brothers in a previous blog.


     Once all of the aforementioned is behind us it will be time to get serious about working on the last of the tanning opportunities and time to start thinking about getting things ready to travel.  The nice part of this life style is nothing is cut in stone but for the sake of planning we will begin our trek north some time near the end of this month.  We were discussing what we are looking forward to when we cross the border back in to the states.  Kathleen is anxious to buy and sample some cottage cheese, and for me I am looking forward to a big North American Breakfast. 


     Will we miss anything about Mexico?  There would not be room enough or time at the moment to write all that we will miss.  This has been a fantastic 1st winter of our new retired RV lifestyle and will be extremely hard to top in the future, but rest assured we will try!


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