Hola friends! The plan was to immerse myself in Mexican culture. As I sat on the porch of El Faro tonight, taking in the surroundings, which included dogs running free everywhere, roosters crowing and families mingling outside of their casas speaking Spanish and laughing, I thought to myself, "yep, I think I've done it." The casa is lovely. And very safe. There were a few complications getting the key from Victor. Victor is the brother in law of the owner in California who lives next door. I can laugh about it now but it was a bit of a unnerving beginning. I arrived in Chacala just before sunset on Sunday and Juan, the taxi driver who picked me up at the airport, dropped me off at El Faro. The casa was dark and no one in sight. We waited around for a little while and Allan (Joy Dancer) appeared telling us that Victor hadn't been around for a few days. Juan asked around town where he was and no one had seen him. It was getting dark and I had my luggage and no where to stay. Juan was so kind to drive around looking for a place for me to stay for the night or at least until Victor arrived. Most of the places were full as this is high season here. We finally found a place called "Casa Iguana" which was very clean and comfortable (see picture below). Lupita owns the place and lives in the larger hotel she also owns down the street. I was lucky to get the suite pictured in the front with the private deck facing the ocean. It wasn't El Faro though. After settling in there, I realized I was starving and wandered down toward the beach to grab a bite to eat. I had no idea where I was going but remembered the place Andee talked about that she loved to eat called "Chico's." Two women who looked like they could speak English were walking nearby and I asked them where "Chico's" was and they said, "we're going there." They asked me to join them for dinner and it turned out they were from BC. Margaret and Diana had been to Chacala many times and were familiar with who Victor was. They told me not to worry, that he was a little unreliable, but that he would show sooner or later. I had a fillet of some kind of fish cooked in a garlic sauce with salad, refried beans and tortillas for 650 pesos (about $6.50 Cdn). It was scrumptious. Oh and 2 Modelos cervezas, just for good measure. We had a nice chat about Andee as they knew her from previous years of visiting Chacala. We were sitting in the very spot where her ashes were spread. It was weird but I could feel her presence. As though she was telling me "don't worry, everything will be ok, this is just how things happen in Mexico". Ok Andee I believe you ........ NOW! But at the time, not so sure. Margaret and Diana walked me back to "Casa Iguana" and we bid our farewells with talk of seeing each other again. We all laughed at the riduculousness of how wide the steps were leading to my little room at "Casa Iguana". It was like they were built for thousands of people. Quite hilarious. I slept like a baby since I had been awake since 3 am that morning to catch the airport bus to Detroit. In the morning, I had a shower and wandered back to "Chico's" for breakfast. I couldn't understand the menu so ended up with quesidillas for breakfast! It was the only word I knew. The coffee was unbelievably good. I haven't been drinking coffee at home for a few months but they didn't have tea so I had no choice. I am so grateful for my ability to be flexible at times like this, and to laugh it off when it's necessary. After breakfast I decided to go back to El Faro and realized I couldn't remember how to get back there! It was dark when I arrived and I wasn't really paying attention the night before. I asked a woman where it was and miraculously she said "I'm going there." I was starting to feel rather plugged into the universe at this point. Linda was on her way to the workshop which was being conducted by Joy Dancer (Allan) who lived in the unit behind me. We walked together to El Faro. To my dismay, no Victor yet. I went back to my room and vegetated on the deck looking out at the ocean and trying to keep evil thoughts at bay about the possibility of being ripped off. I wasn't sure what to do about the room because I noticed a sign that said checkout was at noon. A young woman came to clean the room and she spoke perfect English. She said not to worry, I didn't have to go anywhere. People are so accommodating here. I walked back to El Faro again and halelujah! The door was wide open! I went in and called out "hola" and saw a guy sound asleep on the bed in the second bedroom. I called to him "Victor!" "Victor!" but he wouldn't budge. I tried shaking him awake and still no response. I started to wonder if he was dead. It wasn't funny. I shook him more and finally he woke up. It appeared he was in the middle of changing the sheets on the bed and decided it was siesta. I explained that I had been there since yesterday and he felt very sorry. He spoke pretty good English. He misunderstood and thought I was arriving Monday. I told him I would be back in an hour after I picked up my luggage. El Faro is only about 2 blocks from the hotel but my 3 bags were too heavy to carry even for a short distance. The owner of "Casa Iguana" gave me a ride in his truck with my luggage. Muchas muchas gracias Senor. So here I am. Finally at El Faro all settled in. My first night last night was not very sound because of the roosters crowing all night and the dogs barking. I will get used to it in time I'm sure. Today I ventured into Las Varas to buy groceries. Las Varas is about 5 miles from here and is quite a large commercial centre. There aren't too many tiendas (shops) in Chacala, just the basic stuff and more expensive. I caught the collectivo just outside my door and on the way, who should jump into the collectivo but Victor! He was very kind and took me all around Las Varas showing me the best places to get fresh fruit and vegetables and a few fish markets. Also el banco. Dinero slips through my fingers here as easily as it does at home. No surprise there I guess. He walked me back to the collectivo stop and went on his way. I guess I'm not too mad at him anymore. On the way back we picked up an old man in a wide brimmed Mexican style hat who looked like he was right out of an old Clint Eastwood movie. And he was carrying a machete! Who knows? And I wasn't going to ask! He got dropped off in a remote place and walked into the jungle. Strange. I wish I had taken his picture. I bought 2 lbs of fresh shrimp in Las Varas for 120 pesos (about $12 Cdn). I'm not sure how that fares with back home. Maybe someone could enlighten me. I also picked up some chicken, tortillas, cheese, milk, yogourt, eggs, butter, bread, and vegis. I made chicken quesidillas for supper. I went to the beach in the afternoon and for the first time since I got here, really truly relaxed. I brushed up on my Spanish (hence the picture) and just people watched. I stayed there until sunset. I met John, another workshop participant on the way back and we walked together to El Faro. Now I'm catching up on my blog and am still in my bathing suit. To backtrack there was a parade going on in Las Varas when I was there today. I asked what it was about and was told it was a celebration of the Virgin Mary that had been going on for a few days. Everyone was singing as they walked. It was so spontaneous. I felt lucky to be there to witness it. It's getting late and the dogs are barking again. They seem to get frisky at night. I've only seen one cat here so far. I leave you with the gorgeous sunset from tonight. Enjoy. The kid kicking up his leg could have been me! Sending warm thoughts to everyone at home. Love to all of you. Buenos Noches amigos.