Sunday, March 9, 2008

Feeling Less Like a Vacationer and More Like I'm Home

Here at Casa Monarca there's a resident iguana who hangs out in the drain pipe on the rooftop next door. Kate tells me she appears there on a daily basis because they feed her flowers which have fallen from various flowering plants. Kate assumes this one is the female because the larger male iguana is never far behind. Isn't he a beauty?

Here's Kate feeding Mrs. Iguana with a long pole ....

The other day on my way to Las Varas on the collectivo, I struck up a conversation with a couple of women from Washington State. It was their first trip into Las Varas and it turned out I gave them the grand tour with stops to the most important places like el banco, the internet place, the fish market, and the phone card store. Locals folks nod and say buenos dias/tardes/noches and we are getting familiar with each other. I guess I must look pretty comfortable around here because the fresh crops of newly arrived gringos approach me and ask me questions. I guess I look like I know stuff!

I thought this (photo below) was an inventive way of collecting change from collectivo passengers. It's a painted coconut with the top cut off decorated with colourful marbles. It sits beside the driver on a little stool. Sorry it turned out a little blurry but I loved the creativity. A far cry from the buses at home where you must have the exact change and your ticket or money is placed in standardized holders that beep. Ahhhh ... gotta love Mexico.

I've been getting into some serious relaxation at Casa Monarca. There's a sense of peacefulness here that has been really good for me and has given me a chance to reflect on some of things I haven't been happy with back home. One of those things was my job. Those of you who know me will attest to the fact that I dislike the job that I've held for 8 years. The last few months before I came to Mexico I was sick all the time. I would recover from one thing and a few days later, something else would start. I think I took 11 sick days off from work last November. I had a lot of sinus problems and my doctor set up an appointment for a specialist at the end of March. I haven't had one sinus problem since I arrived here. Stress that accumulates in a person's body can lead to serious health issues over time. Having said all of this, as my departure date of March 6 drew closer, I had a serious look at my options. I have 4 more weeks of vacation owing so I emailed my manager and asked for 2 more weeks. That was denied so I was forced to resign. I am actually relieved. I am feeling positive about new opportunities when I get home. I have asked around here for employment but there doesn't seem to be anything unless you can speak Spanish. You never know what will happen though. I've made some good connections so I'll just wait and see. There are opportunities to teach English. That is something I may consider down the road. Spanish lessons are definitely in order before I come back again.

So I extended my airline ticket, which really wasn't a problem and am staying until March 20. I will be here at Casa Monarca until the 15th and then I spend my last few days in Chacala at Aurora's which is owned by a local Chacala family. Very sweet people. More on Aurora's later ..

I've been settling in with my job decision for a few days now and considering options. Everyone at home is behind my decision. My daughter is confident that I will find something that will make me happier. When I asked my son if he thought I had lost my mind, he said "no, I think you have found it." Here's a few more photos of this lovely place.

Someday, I will look back at this and realize that Casa Monarca was where I found my mind. :)

I have gotten to know the folks from Boston in the next bungalow ... Dave, Jessica and their two girls, Vivian (4 years) and Maya (6 years). The kids are having a blast in that pool! We all went for breakfast at Casa Pacifica a few days ago and here's a pic ... Kate joined us too but her girls were in school. They are leaving to go home tomorrow morning and have had a wonderful time.

On Friday, I attended a "Meet the Students" open house at the school here in Chacala. The students who attend this school are a part of the Cambiando Vidas (Changing Lives) program which is sponsored largely by Americans and Canadians. The school is staffed by volunteers. True teachers who are answering a calling, not just going through the motions. Many children here never make it past grade school due to lack of money. This is a wonderful opportunity for them. Many of them have gone on to university. They are bright and full of hope for the future. The kids put on quite the entertaining show for us on the grounds of the school. Some of the sponsors were in the audience. It was really touching and very funny at times. Here's a few pics to share of the festivities.

Singing ...

Modern dance ...

A contortionist (man this kid was good!)

These kids were watching the festivities and I think are also students here. They were mentioned as part of a group of kids who go around and pick up garbage on a weekly basis around Chacala. Bravo! One of the classrooms is shown in the background.

Traditional dancing ... Ole!

These kids were terrific!

If the spirit moves you, you can offer a donation to this program or even if you want to find out more about it, go to ...

I find the water system in Mexico interesting. Here is a picture of a tinaco (tee-na-ko) which sits on the rooftop next door. All of the homes have a tinaco on the roof. The water is pumped up from the town water system to the tinacos and when a tap is turned on in the casa, a valve opens and the water flows to the tap by gravity.

I'm no engineer but this system appears to work quite well. Someone told me they are put on rooftops as a safety measure in case of hurricanes. The last hurricane which hit here was around 2001 and it apparently did a lot of damage. Luis told me his monthly water bill is around 160 pesos ($16 Cdn). I think I heard that right? I just paid my water bill for last month and it was $80!

I saw Allan and Magda on the beach the other day and Allan caught me again with that camera of his! Don't I look unhappy to be here? :)

The roosters are crowing but it's just after 11 pm. They will be back around 4 am and then again at 6 am. I have no idea when they sleep. While I was writing this, I heard someone practicing guitar from a distance but it was with an amplifier so I could hear it quite clearly.

It was another busy Sunday with the beach full of families. Everyone is gearing up for the upcoming holiday Semana Santa (Easter) where not a room will be found to rent in the whole town. Families from inland all flock to the beach towns for this holiday and the beaches are jammed with campers. I hear it's a lot of fun but a bit crazy for about 2 weeks. I will be leaving just before that happens. I think I am thankful for that but who knows.

Buenos Noches amigos and amigas ... sleep well. We now can enjoy an extra hour of daylight. I hope all that snow I've been hearing about will be melted by the time I get home!


Anonymous said...

Charmaine, I love the pictures of the children. They portray a strong sense of family and community........I like your pic too...and you still look like a Canadian on vacation in Mexico...
With Love

Charmalita said...

The family is everything here and they really take care of each other. That's what I like about being here. It's not like being on vacation. It's like being a part of a community. That's what I meant by "feeling less like a vacationer."