Friday, 28 February 2014

Day 28 - The Weather

It feels almost bad to discuss the weather of Guadalajara, knowing that this year has been the worst winter on record for most North Americans.  That said, even here in GDL, they said that January was 'cold'.  People here had never bought heaters and this year not only did they buy them, but they had need of them!

The above picture is not there to make anyone angry that I live with temperatures in the twenties, daily.  Although, for those of you who know me, this is great for me as I am ALWAYS COLD!  The picture is to illustrate what I find interesting and hard to remember, the hottest time of the day is not noon!  But rather 3-4 in the afternoon!  That is strange for me.  

 The mornings start 'cool' and end moderately.  I love the cool morning, enjoy the hot afternoon and relax in the evening temps.  What has me wondering though is that they say, (they meaning  those from Guadalajara) that it isn't hot yet! May is hot...I shall keep you posted.

Well this brings Daily February posts to and end.  While I have enjoyed this, I am looking forward to only posting weekly.  So see you Wednesdays.  I hope you have enjoyed this month and have felt you know a little more about where we live and what that is like.  Any questions you may have can be emailed to me at dianekoop4@gmail.com and I will gladly answer them, either personally of here on the blog.

Wishing you a spring that comes in like lamb... ... 






Thursday, 27 February 2014

Day 27 - La Terraza


This isn't a great picture of the restaurant but it will illustrate my topic of today sufficiently.  I love that when you go out to eat here, you are almost eating outside.  Most restaurants have a 'terraza' which is like an outdoor patio.  There is something about eating 'outside' without bugs and not feel boxed in.  

On of the ladies from Dallas & Tara's cell group told me that the whole 'terraza' concept is somewhat new to Guadalajara.  The reason being is that the "No Smoking" law came into effect and so they had to adapt.  Technically you are 'outside' on a terraza and can therefore smoke out there.  I don't really care why, I love that they have them.

Another little tidbit of noteworthy information about dining out in  Mexico that is missed when one returns to Canada?  Most restaurants have play areas for children, sometimes even with a 'nanny' to watch.  It can be as simple as a slide and swings, or more elaborate.  Often times it even has a movie going for them to watch.  So generally, kids are entertained at any restaurant, no only McDonald's.











Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Day 26 - The Grocery Store
The Bagger

Another thing one encounters at the grocery store is the bagger, usually a young person (like the girl pictured) or an elderly person.  The 'bagger' does not actually work for the store but rather earns their wage solely by bagging and receiving tips from the customers.  There is no given amount one needs to give, nor is it required that you give.  Although one knows that this is their job, unpaid and they are trying to earn a living.  In Chihuahua a lady told me that her son made more than her, who actually worked for the company, in a day, just bagging.  She also told me that her son, in order to keep his job needed to keep his grades up or they wouldn't let him work.

The next person you deal with is the parking lot attendant.  He, most often, is the one who is 'watching' the vehicles, will push your cart and load your groceries, and directs the traffic so you can leave.
The lot attendant


He also does not actually receive a wage from the store where he 'works' but again relies on what the people give him.  He spends his day in the sun, pushing carts, packing groceries into cars, blowing his whistle while he directs traffic, all in hopes of receiving a few pesos.  

That is a trip to the grocery store.



Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Day 25 - Servicio al Domicilio



The above sign can be seen at most businesses in Mexico.  It says, 'Delivery'.  The first time I saw that McDonald's delivered I was shocked.  Most restaurants deliver, pharmacies deliver, the butcher delivers, etc.  Now the 'how' of this delivery maybe wouldn't work the best in Manitoba, given the weather.  But I bet you you would have guys willing to do it!  The delivery guys weave through traffic like experts




Monday, 24 February 2014

Day 24 - Domingo - Dia para la Familia

The title I gave this post is "Sunday - Day for the Family" because that is very much how Sunday's are here.  Every Sunday the park, pictured above, in front our our 'coto' starts to fill up from early morning.  They come in families, hauling chairs, tables, bikes, toys, and or course, food.  They spend the day there, enjoying friends and family.  You only start to see the exodus of people in early evening, when the sun begins to go down.  This happens not only in the park by our place, but at practically all parks.  Sunday's are their day to enjoy the family without the commitments of work infringing  on their time. 

This leads me to the second part of what I have called family day, it's not only Sunday.  I have found that Latin Americans honour and cherish the family to an extent that we have lost.  There is no place that you can not bring your children, no event where they are not welcomed.  Babysitting is a foreign concept to them.  But not only their little children, teens and even young adults are seen with their families.  They have managed to keep the family unit in tact.  There is a lesson we can learn here.  I encourage you to cherish your families, love your loved ones, spend time together, relaxing and enjoying life! 





Sunday, 23 February 2014


Day 23 - Working Hard

The above picture is the image that is stereotypical of Mexicans.  From my experience it is untrue as are more sterotypes.  Are there lazy Mexicans?  Yes I am sure there are.  I believe this idea came from old western movies which evolved into the idea that ALL Mexicans are sitting beside a cactus, taking a siesta.  Not true,  
As I have mentioned before, I go to the park daily and it is here that I see many Mexicans who are concerned about their health and are doing something about it.  I see all shapes and sizes, jogging and walking throughout the park.  There are also various groups doing aerobics, martial arts, slack lining, and various other types of exercise.  There are also all manner of bike clubs, running clubs and the like.
Aside from exercise, they also do work very hard.  Right outside my 'coto' there is a building going up.  A brick high rise.  Things we do with machine, they do by hand.  Lots of the work is manual labour.  They are hauling bricks, gravel, and supplies up to the third floor with a bucket on a rope!  Don't know how many of us Canadians would sign up for that job!  


I also hear my neighbourhood start to leave as early at 7 a.m. and work till 3 p.m., then come home for lunch only to go back to the office till 7 or 8 p.m.  I hope I have taken a hammer to the stereotype from above.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Day 22 - DOGS

Now I will admit I have never been an animal lover, never had a desire to own a dog, but I think I am beginning to have a serious dislike for them.  Why, you ask?  I think every household here has one if not two!  I know that those dogs pictured above are cute and adorable, I get that, really I do.  However, when you have a back yard like most homes in Mexico have, (see blog post with picture of yard) and are gone most of the day... ...you should maybe rethink the dog ownership thing.  

See, dogs that are 'home alone' bark and not just sometimes, but ALL THE TIME!  I awake to barking, I fall asleep to barking and I live through constant barking.  Now that said, when I go to the park, whether morning, noon or evening, people are all walking their dogs.  So I don't want to make them out as bad dog owners.  I am beginning to think that EVERYONE owns a dog.  So it isn't dogs I dislike, it is the barking.  

I have lived with roosters crowing at the oddest of hours, and I blocked it out.  I lived in front of a hospital where an ice cream vendor rang his bell what seemed like all day, and I blocked it out.  I lived near a by-pass where semi trucks used their 'jake break' so stop and I blocked it out.  I am just wondering when and and if I will block out the barking dogs!  Or shall I end up in a room with padded walls:)


Friday, 21 February 2014

Day 21 - Garbage Day

You are probably wondering how garbage day could be interesting.  Well, it is, on a few fronts.  Firstly, I don't know if it is everywhere in Latin America but it has been the same here as in Nicaragua - the garbage truck's arrival to your neighbourhood is announced by them ringing a bell.  So if you forgot to set out your garbage, you can here the bell well in advance to go put it out.  Love that fact; no excuse for missing.
The second interesting fact is that they separate their garbage in two separate containers.  This is not exactly recycling.  To the right is "inorgánico" which is non-organic garbage, to the bottom is 'orgánico' which is all organic stuff.  These containers in the pictures are all around the park in front of where we live.  Household garbage is to be done in the same fashion. Two containers, with things separated.  Takes a brain adjustment to not separate into recycleables.    
The other nice interesting fact about garbage day is...it happens 3 times a week!  How nice is that?  So, even if you forget, bell notwithstanding, you have 2 other chances in the week to get your garbage picked up.  Luv it!



Thursday, 20 February 2014

Day 20 - No Pica!
Salsas, Chilies, & Jalapeños

Warning: When a Mexican says "No Pica" be very careful.  'No pica' means - it's not hot - as in spicy hot, not temperature hot.  Above are pictures of a FEW items to add flavour to your food.  There is ALWAYS the option of adding chili to your food.  Very rarely, if ever, is the food bland or flavourless.  However, when you ask if something is 'hot', and they say 'No, no pica', use EXTREME caution, as their measure of 'spicy' is on a scale unlike yours.  I ordered a salad at a restaurant recently; I chose a mango dressing.  The waitress informs me that it has a little 'habanero' in it.  I thought, no problem, a little...  Yeah, my lips were burning in no time.  She brought me water, as I can't have bread (which does absorb the burning).  

I am in not way criticizing the spicy food, it is EXCELLENT.  I am just cautioning you that when a Mexican says, 'No Pica' - 'no pica' means it will only burn the first layer of your stomach!  The food is one of the many joys of living here!

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Day 19 - $$$$$


I know we have only been in Mexico for just over a month, but seriously, this converting things in my head is driving me nuts!  What you see pictured above looks like lots of money, but seriously its under a $100.  At lease Pesos are pretty like Canadian money!! All those colours! But I digress, this whole thing of trying to have it in my head if something is expensive or not is gonna be the death of me.  I know that over time I will get to now my prices and I will become more comfortable with living in more than one currency but right now its frustrating!

Anyone want to guess at what the above money is worth in Canadian dollars?

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

DAY 18 - Rejas/ Bars
Gated homes - bars, gates, and 'Rejas' on the windows
Bars and gates are just part of life in Mexico.  Homes have bars on doors, windows and gates that lock at the end of the car port.  I have lived in a home that had bars on all the windows and on the front door.  I have also lived with high walls and razor wire, or broken glass on the top of an 8 foot wall.  It is just a fact of life that one expects living here.  It is done for a feeling of safety.  

When the Reimer's first came to GDL to scout out the land they made a choice to live in a gated community.  Our homes do not have bars on the windows nor on the front doors.  Each family lives in a 'coto' (gated community).  Ours has 75 homes within its walls.  I can walk up to my neighbour's front door without having to bang on a gate, hoping they come.  The original thought was that it would be easier to meet our neighbours and build relationships.  I have to agree.  I love the freedom i have to walk through my little community and greet my neighbours without fear and without bars.
Our street in our 'Coto' 
It is so much easier to relate to people on our street (pictured here) than on the other one pictured at the top.


Monday, 17 February 2014

Day 17 - Horchata

What is Horchata?  It is a staff favourite drink (aside from the standard Coke) to order at a restaurant.  It is a beverage that is made from rice here in Mexico.  Now I know that doesn't sound very good but once you've had it, you like it or you don't.  Although it looks like milk it is actually not made from milk. I have never made it except from a package (like you would get Tang in) but it can be made from scratch at home.  The 'Tang' version is okay but definitely not the same.  Horchata recipes can be found on the web although it may vary from site to site.

If it's not your 'cup of tea' so to speak, there's always Jamaica which is made from flowers!  Or your standard Coca Cola.  I love all three!

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Day 16 - Gloriettas and Landmarks
La Minerva glorieta
One thing that this enormous city is big on is what is commonly known as the 'glorieta'.  This is a circle drive, at a crossroads, which cars flow/fly in and out of!  There is an art form to this 'merging'.  If you don't know where you are going, or are not somewhat aggressive, you could end up circling the thing for quite some time, or not getting 'in' at all!  The purpose (apparently) is to keep traffic flowing rather than having it grind to a halt. Here's an overhead view of a very large one!


Matute Remus bridge on Lazaro Cardenas
This is the most colourful bridge in Guadalajara, and it is located on the major highway that runs right thru the heart of the city. It actually changes to different colours throughout the night. Reminds me of the new bridge near the Human Rights museum in Winnipeg.  

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Day 15 - Language
Bibles
I am constantly amazed that I can read both of the above Bibles -English and Spanish.  When we lived in Nicaragua, way back when, I was often amazed that Ernie preferred to read his Bible in Spanish.  I would often say that my God spoke English.  I loved that I could read my Bible in Spanish, but it was never the same as reading it is English.  My goal this year has been to learn to love reading my Spanish Bible.  I got a more modern version and have come to love reading my Spanish Bible.  My next goal is to learn to pray with the same depth in both languages.

I am in awe that God gave me the ability to understand Spanish.  More and more I feel at ease with it and thank God that I could learn it.  Because you know..."el idioma del cielo es español."  





Friday, 14 February 2014

Day 14 - Dia de Amor Y Amistad


February 14 is celebrated in Canada as Valentine's Day, with flowers and chocolate.  In Mexico it is referred to as the Day of Love and Friendship.  It is broader in that sense and friendships are celebrated and honoured.  Yes, roses are more abundant than ever at the corners but the departments stores have big displays of stuffed animals, little heart shaped trinkets, and red underwear (red underwear brings love or some such thing).

So, Happy Valentine's Day Everyone.  Spread love to those around you whether it's with roses, chocolates or just a smile.  Life is way too short to not tell those you love that you love them!




Thursday, 13 February 2014

Day 12 - A love / hate relationship
Dry mop/wet mop/broom/shoes
You might be wondering what story that picture is telling?  One of the things that our family loved, about living in Mexico, was that you don't have to take your shoes off. Most homes have ceramic tile floors and the weather is such that one's footwear is not dirty.  It is actually rude to remove your footwear in someone's house. Our sons will tell you they are Mexican when they don't want to take off their shoes!
        Now, while I love that (no tying and untying of shoes) I don't much care for the other part - washing the endless floors.  See, while your shoes are not particularly dirty the floors do not remain clean.  There is a seemingly endless amount of sweeping or moping that goes on.  I can hardly fathom how much stuff is in my dust pan (which is the red thing with the handle!) between cleanings.  Now, that said, the houses are not sealed either, so dust gets in fairly easily.  I rethink the "I don't need a maid" thought regularly! 
Upstairs 'sala'
Living Room
Spare bedroom
Entrance
Diningroom

As you can see, we have lots of 
room for guests to come and see 
the ministry in Guadalajara - 
consider yourself invited...


Second extra bedroom

  

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Day 11 - Pay to Park
Getting ticket to parking lot at mall
I can't say as I have ever had to pay to park at Walmart in Canada, but that is not the case in Guadalajara.  However, it isn't  just at Walmart (actually Walmart held off the longest with installing ticket meters).  Most malls have a ticket meter (like you see above) at the entrance to their facility.  After you shop you need to stop at a ticket machine to pay (just like at the Winnipeg airport) then you find an exit, insert your paid stub, and hope the arm goes up to let you out!
The 'out' at the mall
Now let me say, just so we are clear, it's not overly expensive; nothing like a parkade in Winnipeg would be.  You've just got to remember to pay before you reach the gate as you CAN NOT pay there.  The guy you see in the picture - he will send you back into the mall!


Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Day 10 - Flowers and Black Thumbs


Ernie would just love it if I loved to get flowers!  But alas, I do not.  The above pictured flower stand can be found at a major street corner and they can be found throughout the city.  If that isn't any guy's dream (if he has a wife/girlfriend who loves to get flowers), you can also purchase roses each evening at almost any traffic light.  

Now, I did not inherit my parents' love for flowers or their green thumbs - no I got a black thumb!  However, in Mexico I can have flowers in my yard - they seem to grow like weeds.  Below are pictured the few found in my yard which, if I water them, should thrive.  I might need a gardener a time or two as I can't tell a weed from a plant!  






Monday, 10 February 2014

Day 9 - Back Yard - 'postage stamp'
patio doors looking into living room from back yard
back wall of back yard - don't need a riding mower!
the rest of our back yard...
Mostly the back yard provides a bit of green space, a great spot to sit outside and read, and allows (with the patio doors) a fair amount of light into the house. The high wall is typical, and meant for security. Some places have razor wire on top, others have strands of electrified wire. As you can see, we might be drying laundry there at times!

Sunday, 9 February 2014


Day 8 - Coca Cola
Can you say "I prefer Coke!"
For those of you who know me well, you know that I have a slight preference for Coke!  I have a collection that I have nicely placed into storage, and I'll probably begin here again.  My family began it for me with the farewell gift you see in the background.  But, there is NOTHING like a nice cold Coca Cola in a glass bottle!  And for a mere 6 pesos!
supper: anaheim peppers, tortillas, cheese and coke!

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Day 7 - the 'Corner Store'
The OXXO, which is a block from our house
In Mexico most everyone lives within a short walk from an OXXO - which is the Mexican version of our Canadian 7-11. They have your basic needs, food items, fruit and vegetables, milk, eggs, snacks, etc. You can also pay all your utility bills at the OXXO, and you can buy time for your cell phone here. Another alternative, in most cases, is a 'Ma & Pa', or a family owned and operated corner store, which often has similar things. 
a typical convenience store, often called "abarrotes"


Friday, 7 February 2014

Day 6 - Palm trees!

Looking out our back door
I know for some of you, palm trees bring back wonderful memories of sandy beaches and vacations. For me, palm trees mean I am once again living in a warm climate. I love that I can look outside my back window and see this beautiful palm tree. Then I head out my front door, and again, palm trees. Walking down my street, palm trees; actually down almost any street.
Out side my front door
Down our street

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Day 5 -Lunch Time

That is right!  Lunch prep starts at 2 in the afternoon.  I notice it is time to start lunch around this time as the neighbour ladies start coming home from work or picking the kids up from school (if my stomach hasn't already let me know). This is also the big meal of the day, unlike in Canada, where we would have a light lunch (soup  & sandwich).  "Lunch Hour" here is 2 hours, given it is the important meal of the day.  
Frijoles - Beans



So, I am learning many things, about how to prepare meals here.  There are notable differences between Chihuahua and Guadalajara.  But beans are pretty standard in most of Latin America.  I made by sons eat them (back in the day).  I told them they WOULD learn to like beans, as they were filling, nutritive, and always present wherever we went.  We love beans!

 Tortillas



 
Another standard item at any meal is tortillas; just like Mennonites and their bread!  I think corn tortillas might be healthier.  I love em!
The final product!
Well, I did mix countries, as the rice is actually a Nicaraguan dish, called 'Arroz a la Valenciana' (Spanish Rice). I might add that I got a 'good job!' from Ernie, who sometimes tells me "It does taste right" meaning, it isn't like Juanita used to make it (Nicaragua).  Avocado is also a standard when I am eating!  I love it that they aren't as expensive as in Canada!