Sunday, July 31, 2011

UkuAdventures in Mexico: Airport, Customs & Kissercise!

PHOTOS: Mexican Heart Plant, Sponch Truck, Cucumbers & Popcorn!

Dear Blob,
The Free Thrill of LA's now-seeming Cool Breeze is incredible! Yesterday I wore a sweatshirt, zipped through US customs with no searches or issues and invented Kissercise. Kissercise is an ab-workout mixed with smooching (the workout-ee does ab.crunches to meet the pucker of the Kissercise partner).

Thessica's journey was shockingly quick and easy, like a fast-teen getting his first bootycall, but unlike the teen's virginity-loss, it was the Best Airport Experience I've ever had, even though every traveler's bags are hand-searched, another similarity to the teens. HB Larry drove us to the airport and we said Adios, Mexico!

Interestingly, Manzanillo's airport has no checked-luggage x-ray machines, but each bag is human-checked by overly-serious workers, amusingly, keeping absolute professionalism and straight faces as they unpack and re-pack satchels of plastic blow-up toys, liquor & swimsuits. Thessica wondered what the most interesting things they'd found are; I said dead bodies; Jessica thought fetish gear.

I was mildly concerned about the few prescription meds I was traveling with. US law says the traveler needs a prescription from a US doctor, which is ridiculous, considering many travelers live in Mexico and have Mexican doctors. I purchased a blood-pressure med for Ukulad's mom; she pays $80 a month; I paid $1.50, which brought about seething disgust and anger at America's broken healthcare system. Jessaly had no problems with our various meds mingling with googly-eyed puppets and 25 pounds of Mexican floral 'n' fruited vinyl; US customs merely asked me why I was in Mexico and if I had fun.

The weekly Manzanillo-LAX flight erupted into applause upon our landing, not because we had a rough flight, but I assume because folks were so happy to be in LA. It was interesting emerging into the International Terminal, being surrounded by It's a Small World in real life. I realized the melting potness of America, which is the culture of urban America, is the cause It's-Challenging-Understanding-Humans, a nice way to say Racism.

In Mexico, surrounded by mostly all Mexicans, I began to grasp an understanding of Mexicans and their culture and vaguely know what to expect; Mexican Time is real and everyone-but-our-fumigator is on it, Mexican Drivers are extraordinarily bad, either driving ridiculously slow or frighteningly fast, Family is Numero Uno and if you are in a relationship with a Mexican, you are in a relationship with 25 other people as well (Meep! to HB Larry!).

In urban America, particularly LA, every culture in the world is here and humans feel frightened and resentful of those we don't understand, leading to deep xenophobia, racism and isolation of and from one's neighbors. When I say Hi to peeps on the LA streets, they are shocked and rarely say Hi in return. The community of the Barra de Navidad's Barrio will be missed.

It's understandable to want to party with Peeps-You-Understand, but too often in American cities, fear drives human's car-bodies and leads to sense of non-community and non-unity, the biggest problems of LA.

In other news, it's always fab to Return Home!

Love The Ukulady

ps: LAX's International Terminal hosts a medley of Fashion No's, including White-Jeans-With-No-Panties, Daisy Duke jean-shorts with stupid-knitted-cap over perfectly-coiffed model-hair 'n' fur boots & fat-pouch-pants.

pps: Nice to brush my teeth with water from the tap! Nice to not worry about never-before-seen creatures noodling in my space! Nice to not be consta-hot! Meepmazing to wear long sleeves!

ppps: I was confused what to wear last night; I was compelled to wear my swimsuit as I haven't worn much else all week, but it was Cold! Free Thrills!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

UkuAdventures in Mexico: Shrimp-Finger & Giant Cockroach Death-Party!

PHOTOS: Gay Cihuatlan, Buster & Meep, Skwinkles Pocket, Super Mario Bros, Blue Fish!

Dear Blob,
The thing about the tropics is the weird, unexpected things continue to happen after one's seeming-quota-of-weirdness has been filled.

Yesterday I embarked on a shrimp-cleaning activity of shrimp I'd purchased from a Shrimp-Truck. It's nice to have fresh groceries delivered to your door throughout the day. Any cook's wondering of "Hmmm, what to have for dinner tonight?" is answered by whoever comes by: papayas, shrimp, tortillas, flan...

The shrimp needed a full-service cleaning, heads, eyeballs, shells, legs & de-veining. I began the task, intrigued by Work vs. Payoff. 2 shrimp in, I abandoned the high-maintenance sea-snack in favor of easy fish. Then the weirdness; my pointer-finger swelled up like a sausage-pouch and felt reminiscent of a bee-sting.

I've never been allergic to shrimp, although my toxin-sensitive body often decides to become allergic to things all-of-the-sudden; such as when I was enjoying a Fuji apple, driving the LA freeway, when my throat closed up and since then, I've been sadly allergic to all uncooked apples. I attribute many adult-onset allergies to the toxic-waste dumping grounds of LA living.

Shrimp-Finger lasted over 10 hours and this morning, while the swelling has gone down, is still sore. I blame Shrimp Brains, as I've cleaned shrimp before, but not the heads. Shrimp Brain is a good name for a punk-band.

Jessica likened our adventures to a Survivor-like Reality Show, where we have to stay on to get the sack of cash; both of us on the verge of leaving the day before you get the payoff. Her manpanion reminded us there is no sack of cash at the end; simply a lot of good stories, a vast amount of newly-absorbed knowledge and a new body of musical work.

A week past Ready-to-Go, Thessica is joyously flying home today; excited about returning to our respective manpanions, capitalism and our mutual quest for career success. The Ukulady invited you to stay tuned for the continuing UkuAdventures.... In particular, don't miss the upcoming Video for Mexico Enthusiasts! Coming in the next day or so....

Our final days we enjoyed churros many times, caught a few sunsets, ate a final handmade tortilla at Taqueria Ramos & got to hang out with the Brilliant and Wonderful Buster.

For all future housesitters in Mexico, please remember that housesitting is work, paying to housesit in the Hot Season was not my smartest move and Mexico is not for Sissies.

Love The Ukulady

ps: Our Beatles night at Bar ReyMomo was much fun and a Meep Shout-Out to all the wonderful Barra De Navidadians who made us feel so welcome and meepy! We appreciate all of you and enjoyed our adventures immensely.

pps: There is a Giant Cockroach Die-Off going on right now. The porch is littered with over half a dozen crunchy corpses and dying ones keep straggling across the floors inside, expiring on their way to wherever cockroaches are headed.

ppps: When I say Giant Cockroach Die-Off, I mean Giant Cockroaches as well as an Extensive Die-Off.

Friday, July 29, 2011

UkuAdventures in Mexico: Happy Birthday UkuDad!

PHOTOS: UkuParents! Mother Mary Comes to Meep....

Dear Blob,
HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the Best Dad in the World, Mister Michael Lerner, formerly of Brooklym, NY, Mill Valley, CA & currently of Petaluma, CA!

Jessica and I have been creating a lot of music at Casa Azul (it's our Mexican Yaddo) and when I was a kid he used to play the guitar and sing this gorgeous song a lot. We made this for him; Congrats on making it to 65 & getting Social Security!

Tonight we, for our Going-Away Party, we are playing a Beatles cover set at Bar ReyMomo! Hope to see you readers there! 8:30pm.

Love The Ukulady

ps: We are currently all dressed up with nowhere to go; 8am in swimsuits 'n' sunscreen. This morning Fernando was going to take us to Tenacatita, the famed snorkling reef-beach, which evil developers have taken control of, to the dismay of every citizen of Mexico's Pacific Coast. It's still snorkle-able, but no cameras or phones; snacks are the only thing allowed in the gates.

We dragged our late-night meeps out of bed at 8am, I got us hopped up on coffee and Fernando called to say, "Girl, it's going to storm!" but he didn't say girl; that's the sassy black lady in my head.

pps: It's been shockingly rain-free for 10 days and the dark clouds are a welcome respite to the withering afternoon heat.

ppps: Sadly, my mini-Flip video camera has been sacrificed to the Mexican Gods, lost in Melaque, chock-full of footage for a Mexico video; sad meep. Stay tuned for the alternative....

UkuAdventures in Mexico: Happy Birthday UkuDad!

Dear Blob,
HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the Best Dad in the World, Mister Michael Lerner, formerly of Brooklym, NY, Mill Valley, CA & currently of Petaluma, CA!

Jessica and I have been creating a lot of music at Casa Azul (it's our Mexican Yaddo) and when I was a kid he used to play the guitar and sing this gorgeous song a lot. We made this for him; Congrats on making it to 65 & getting Social Security!

Tonight we, for our Going-Away Party, we are playing a Beatles cover set at Bar ReyMomo! Hope to see you readers there! 8:30pm.

Love The Ukulady

ps: We are currently all dressed up with nowhere to go; 8am in swimsuits 'n' sunscreen. This morning Fernando was going to take us to Tenacatita, the famed snorkling reef-beach, which evil developers have taken control of, to the dismay of every citizen of Mexico's Pacific Coast. It's still snorkle-able, but no cameras or phones; snacks are the only thing allowed in the gates.

We dragged our late-night meeps out of bed at 8am, I got us hopped up on coffee and Fernando called to say, "Girl, it's going to storm!" but he didn't say girl; that's the sassy black lady in my head.

pps: It's been shockingly rain-free for 10 days and the dark clouds are a welcome respite to the withering afternoon heat.

ppps: Sadly, my mini-Flip video camera has been sacrificed to the Mexican Gods, lost in Melaque, chock-full of footage for a Mexico video; sad meep. Stay tuned for the alternative....

UkuAdventures in Mexico: Tropical Mexico

Classic Mexico

Strawberry Fresa Bandito


Boing! Delicious!

Barra De Navidad

Thursday, July 28, 2011

UkuAdventures in Mexico: Knocked-Up Barbie & Freelancers

PHOTOS: Knocked-up Barbies, Whore Shoes for People & Dolls

Dear Blob,
Yesterday's outdoor market in Melaque revealed perhaps the most disturbing thing I've seen so far in Mexico: Pregnant Barbie & her Whore-Accessories. It blew my mind.

The sexism and role of females in Mexico has always disturbed me, from my first day in Echo Park, LA, when, browsing the teenage clothing store, I couldn't figure out why everything in my size was far too big; then I realized I was in the Pregnant Teen section. Echo Park's Pregnant Teen store used to have a selection of pornographic tongue rings with slogans like (buckle up), "Cum-Filled" and "Party Girl" next to the Diaper Bags.

Pregnant Barbies come with a removable stomach and were surrounded with cute baskets of pick-your-own-accessories, which included whore-pumps, plastic-furry-go-go boots, cell phones and more; all the things a woman needs.

I've become accustomed here in Mexico, to seeing teen parents. It's the same in LA, although in LA I don't usually see teen dads, which I see a lot here. It's upsetting that Mattel Mexico thinks so little of Mexican girls, urging them to be knocked-up whores. Barbie's purpose was to be a Modern Career Girl. She's s been a pilot, a doctor & the president. No reason she can't be a mother, the hardest job of all, but there's something deeply sexist and misogynistic about selling Knocked-up Whore Barbies to little girls living in a nation where teen-motherhood is the acceptable norm.

In other news, Thessica had a 7 hour beach day in Melaque yesterday, enjoying the calm waves of Chicken Beach, nibbling coconut-honey balls & considering the global phenomenon of networking.

Many travelers and foreigners are cautiously suspicious of locals offering services and hospitality. In America, no one but a hustler would offer a tourist, fresh off the bus, guided tours, a home-cooked meal or a satchel of pot. Certainly there are some hustlers, but the majority of Mexicans are honestly gracious and doing exactly what I do in LA, Networking.

Like LA-ites, most Mexicans are Schmoozers, social busy-bees and many are Connectors, as Malcolm Gladwell writes of in The Tipping Point. Connectors are the peeps who know everyone and can find you a dentist, accountant, great snackery; I'm a Connector.

The locals see potential business opportunities in the gringos, just like I see business opportunities in most people I meet in LA; could be working together for a day, a week or years or sometime in the future. Mexicans are Freelancers, not Hustlers. This is an important Travel Tip! Caution is always good, but Fear is the Dark Side.

Love The Ukulady

ps: Jessica, tipsy on margaritas, made BFF with a little Mexican/American girl yesterday. Callie told us she is 100 years old & friends with mermaids who eat cereal and like juice. She also told us she lives in Hawaii, her dad is bald & her parents have a crush on each other. She was hilarious, adorable and hung out with us all day; we were confused as to the location of her handlers, as she seemed to be alone; it was revealed at some point she was with Mama Mona & her family, the Nanny, perhaps.... I love the atmosphere of trust and safety in Mexico, regarding children. Once again, is it a small-town Mexico thing, or is it cultural?

pps: Pineapple is the King of Fruit with it's Royal Fruit Crown!

ppps: The market has tons of polyester ladies panties for sale, no cotton. Who is designing this stuff? Must be idiots, because polyester and cooters do not go hand-in-hand; tropical heat and the unbreathable polyester must lead to chronic cooter-maladies.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

UkuAdventures in Mexico:Bathing Suit Week!

Dear Blob,
The Grand Bay is redeemed. For $85/US a night, it's a worthwhile respite from reality. Redemption appeared in the form of an expat named Canadian Eric, who lives on his buddy's magnificently decadent yacht in the Marina. The Grand Bay is nestled beside a Marina filled with Bluth-style yachts advertising their locations, from Sausalito (represent!) to Newport Beach and oddly, New Mexico, which I thought was landlocked.

Canadian Eric came upon Jessaly deciphering Grand Bay's map, trying to figure out how to avoid the Country Clubbers. Jolly, bored & friendly, he invited us aboard his yacht for a beer. It was noon. A travel lesson: always take up locals offers of food and drink, with caution and don't get drunk; it's the best way to find out the inside scoop! Canadian Eric was a lifesaver. He gave us the lowdown on how to get HB Larry and Laura into our room undetected: water-taxi to the Marina entrance and at the main pool, tell them you live at Dock C on the Marina. Marina dwellers have Grand Bay pool priviliges.

He also revealed a nearby pueblo for affordable snacks, told us the Grand Bay was over $300 a night 3 years ago, has laid of 95% of it's staff and Mexicans/20-year US citizens by the dozens, who have lost everything in America's depression, are moving home with to Mothers in Barra. Other convo-tidbits include: his 3 years in Barra he hasn't seen one violent altercation, Canadian's are buying foreclosed mansions in Phoenix and Americans are moving to Mexico because they can't afford the US; his property tax is $90US/year. Some interesting facts about Northern teak vs. Mexican teak & their oils, meat-info (bad beef in Mexico, great pork 'n' chicken!) and Jessaly was on her way.

We've shirked regular clothes this week. It's bathing-suit week; my Mexican Semester could also be called Body-Acceptance-Therapy-Time. The longer one is in Mexico, the more obvious what the Essentials are: computer 'n internet, ukulele, recording stuff, bathing suit, bug-spray & sunscreen. Hat, glasses 'n' water.

Energized by Canadian Yacht-Eric, Thessica set off in search of Grand Bay's other swimming pools, which after Labyrinth-The-Movie-like wandering, we stumbled upon. Our new Celine-Dion-Free pool is deserted and delightful and the perfect place for Laura & HB Larry or other sneaky-illegals to enjoy, undetected. There are no hotel security-cameras.

After cooling 'n' splashing, we set off for the gardens, clad only swimsuits; we have become Patsy & Eddie totally. Our Garden-journey took us through manicured jungles to a deserted Bed 'n' Breakfast on the edge of the peninsula with an open gate. We wandered in and discovered a fabulous path to 2 private beaches! One we've named Geology 'n' Biology Beach and is chock-full of fascinating rocks, fish skeletons, spiral shells, dried urchins 'n more. We collected specimens and thrilled, spent the next few hours on our Blue-Lagoon-ish-the movie-but-without-the-child-whoring-Beach, noodling in the ruffled wavelets & viewing sea snails.

Hunger led us to a mini-pueblo, inland from the Grand Bay with a secret entrance in a broken fence, as revealed by Canadian Yacht Eric. We found outstanding $2 burritos, returned to air-conditioning for a respite and spent the evening playing music, eating hotel-illegal Chips brand Chips and singing about churros, faraway in the barrio.

Interestingly, we noticed the hotel has turned the horrible music way down, so either someone at the Grand Bay is reading my blog or our complaints were noted & acted upon!

Today we adventure to the Market in Melaque. We are bringing pre-sealed-hotel butter for Panaderia Estrella's hot, fresh bolillos at 2:30.

Love The Ukulady
ps: I'm a Sweatback; my backpack, while handy, turns me into a Sweatback everyday.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

UkuAdventures in Mexico: Paradise-Hotel-in-Hell & Ear-Crisis!

PHOTOS: Barra Mural, Neighborhood Kids, Taxistand LipPhone, UkuAdventures!

Dear Blob,
Everything is becoming a parody of itself. Jessica's manpanion, concerned with her outrageous spider 'n' flea bites, bought her the gift of several days at the Grand Bay hotel, a Wyndham 4-5 star palatial resort, only accessible from Barra by water taxi. The prospect was exciting and yesterday afternoon, after a successful workday, we schlepped music recording equiptment, instruments & computers on bike to the water-taxi pier.

We locked our bikes at the stand and enjoyed the 5 minute, 10 peso ride, where Roberto, the first of dozens of Grand Bay employees, met us. A golf cart rode us to the front entrance, through majestic garden landscape, to the limestone Beverly-Hills-esque Disneyland. Julio from West Covina (having issues with his papers), checked us in and seated on over-puffed Martha-Stewarty-tacky couches, Hector served us our first and last complimentary pink-frosty beverage.

The first disappointment, but not surprise, was $10 dollar internet access, which they failed to mention, is per-computer. It seems the fancier the hotel, the less free amenities. They also put us in the wrong room, obvious by the Welcome! letter for Senora Roderigo.

Irritated, hot 'n' sheathed in sweat, we headed the pool area, famed for their 5 pools interconnected by waterfalls, slides & bridges. It's certainly unforgettable, with the most Hideous of American Music piped in everywhere, speakers hidden in bushes, blasting horrific covers of Celine Dion, Whitney Huston & bad country music. The pools were sprinkled here and there with Telemundo-beautiful guests, dripping with gold necklaces, giant earrings & heavy makeup. Several pools featured older Telemundo couples making out and dry humping. There's plenty of chaise lounges to find a private-ish place to relax, but no escape from I Will Always Love You & the Titanic Song. It's like an adult Downtown Disney; a quirky, sarcastic artist-intellectual's nightmare.

In fact, as I type from the balcony of our room, I can still hear, instead of tropical birds, bad jazz muzak, which they switch to after the pools close at 8. I repeat, the pools close at 8! Sunset doesn't even happen here until almost 9pm and it's hot throughout the night. Apparently, this place Does have liability insurance.

Crestfallen and cranky, we returned to our room, where I attempted to get water out of my ears with a q-tip, which had the opposite affect and blocked my ear unlike anything I've ever experienced. Now I was in medical crisis. A quick internet search, on our one working computer, recommended vinegar & alcohol poured in the ear. Of course the hotel had neither & medical services are American prices; in utmost ear-distress, I hurried us back into the water-taxi and back in Barra, we unlocked our bikes, quickly rode through town to Casa Azul, which, after the Grand Bay's disappointing Trapped-in-Paradise-Hell vibe, was a comforting sight.

A mixture of vinegar & vodka poured in my ear did nothing but make it worse, as now there was more stuff blocked in my ear. My hearing lost, head resting on the fan, horizontally pillow-like, hoping to evaporate the water with air and the Magic of Gravity, Jessica biked to the Farmacia for a squeezy-pumpy thing. After 20 minutes of squeezy-pumpy ear work, no results and on the verge of crybaby time, we called Dr. Rubio, who had 10 minutes of Doctor hours left.

I Heart the Mexican Healthcare System! That is my new bumpersticker, if I were to indulge in automobile-sloganery. We biked back to town & waited for Dr. Rubio to finish saying no to a bleached-blond peddler of handmade wooden backgammon boards. "Do you need a domino set?" the gringo peddler's partner asked me. "No, I need a doctor!" our ridiculously pre-doctor/medical-crisis theatrical-dialogue.

I don't know what Dr. Rubio flushed out of my ear with saline solution, but it wasn't pretty. Disgusting is the adjective of choice and that's all I'll write. The sensation of saline solution shooting into my ear and Meep-knows-what pouring out, was remarkable; like the awesomeness of a filthy cartoon house and a superior cartoon vacuum instantly, Jestsons-like, cleaning in seconds, complete with a cartoony ping! sound-effect & a sparkly-glisten!

Dr. Rubio is efficient, kind & gentle, with a wall of medical diplomas; everything one wants in a doctor. Ear infection was brewing, she informed me and $30 later, anti-biotic ear-drops in hand, I could hear better than I have in years. Jessica and I dined at Mexico Lindo, a Barra favorite ($3 for 3 large handmade-tortilla tacos!), loaded up on nibblies, as the Hotel prices are expectedly-outrageous (Example: Grand Bay = 1 can (not even a bottle!) of Modelo is almost $5; at the Mercado = 6-pack is $4dollars) and unexcited, returned to Trapped-in-Paradise-Hell Hotel.

Our evenings in Mexico have been spent skyping our manpanions. 5 weeks is a long time to be Ukulad-less and communication-dependent-on-technology is hard on a relationship. Usually Jessica retires to the hammock for her skype-date and I dining-room it up. So the night while pleasant in the air-conditioned hotel room, was marred by our lack of two internet connections. Casa Azul has air-conditioning, but it doesn't reach the bedrooms, so we haven't been using it. It's been fine without it, the spiders being the main source of discomfort. I will doubtfully spend another night here. Jessica can get some work done in a spider-free environment and I will enjoy my final days in the barrio, amongst our friendly neighbors, bike to the market for fresh tortillas in the morning and enjoy ice-coffee with HB Larry.

We are hoping to explore the grounds-area of Paradise-Hell Hotel today, avoid Dry-Hump-To-Celine-Dion-Covers-Pool & salvage what we can of Grand Bay's contrived offerings. I am just not a resort or cruise person. I generally dislike the people I find in these environments and prefer learning about a foreign country by actually being amongst the people, towns and parks. I like luxury, but Grand Bay's luxury is conditional and uncontrollable. Rick 'n' Cathy's Casa Canadian was the perfect balance of luxury & with-the-people-ness. If Casa Azul had a pool, most of our discomfort would disappear.

I'm surprised to find myself so affected by the heat. I grew up in the Mendocino County summer heat, went to Burning Man & always choose death by heat over death by freezing. However, the Mexican summer hours of 1:30ish - 5:30ish, are almost impossible to function in, unless a water source is available for frequent cooling.

I apologize, Readers 'n' Blob, for complaining; I consider my ukuadventures in Mexico a grand adventure and am filled with new knowledge & philosophical understanding of life and the imperfect world. I've contemplated the big questions & have great affection for what I call my Mexican Semester. I spent a semester in Mexico!

Love The Ukulady

ps: Who has advice for transporting prescription drugs to LAX without a prescription?

pps: The Hotel-Room coffee maker was broken this morning. Of course.

ppps: We discovered the bakery of Barra De Navidad, close to the Fish Co-Op. It is awesome!

pppps: We are hoping to gift a couple nights at the Grand Bay to HB Larry & Laura for all their wonderfulness; as there are only 33 rooms of 200 currently occupied; plan-scheming is ensuing....

Monday, July 25, 2011

UkuAdventures in Mexico: Churros, Recycling & Mexican Nails!

The Ukulady on Casa Canadian's Roof!


We Discover Barrio Recycling!

Sopes Lady with the Loco Nails!

Trucker Jessica

Dear Blob 'n' Readers!
Don't Miss Jessica's Awesome and Interesting Mexico Blog!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

UkuAdventures in Mexico: El Salto Falls Adventure Party!

PHOTOS: Truckers! Laura & Ceviche! El Salto! La Rana! Weeble Agua Tree! HB Larry, Laura & Alejandro!

Dear Blob,
What an Exciting Adventure we had today! But First! A quickie summary of yesterday: Thessica recharged her meep-batteries lolling in Casa Canadian's pool, noodling with noodles & eating cookies. We took a quickie trip into Melaque for the ATM, hot, fresh bolillos from the 400 year old bakery and awesome fish tacos, which were fried in a tempura-like batter. The Pescado-Taco man's wife had the most incredibly fake-long-glitter nails, strikingly noticeable as she paddle-flapped sopes dough between her hands.

In the twighlight hour, we played recording studio with Buster between pool-dips. After the rock'n'roll recording sessions, a Taqueria Ramos 'n' Churro stop and many laughs, Buster left us & returned to Cuastecomate, playing hooky from Bar ReyMoMo and worrying his BFF, Memphis Jan, a healer/nurse from Memphis with similar nails as the Sopes lady. Memphis Jan, concerned about Buster's inappearance on Saturday night to work, came to Casa Azul to find him, where she ran into Jessica, who brought her over for a galpal-date. MemphisHealer Jan weaved stories of healing cancer, traveling to "Guad" (Guadelajara), which reminds me of squaddely-quads (fat thighs) and a fabulous thrift store in Mexico. Jessaly perked up at the words Thrift Store, simultaneously saying, "Where?! How Far?" Sadly, the only awesome thrift store in Mexico is 4 hours away.

TODAY: Big Waterfall Adventure!
HB Larry, Laura & Alejandro picked us up at 10am for our adventure to El Salto Falls, 2 hours away. Thessica, bedecked in trucking hat'n scarves, fretted about back-of-the-pickup-travel and bungee-corded ourselves to the truckbed. Alejandro, riding with us in the back, was amused at our actions and I felt comforted knowing his mother, riding in the cab, was comfortable with her son riding in the back of a pickup, unstrapped in. Once we had our pillows properly placed, it was a fabulous and interesting ride, which went by quickly.

One of the most awesome things about Mexican highway travel is the noticeable lack of billboards. I saw, perhaps 4 on the entire ride. We zipped through Manzanillo, the San Pedro/Long Beach of Mexico, being the largest port-city with goods from China constantly arriving. It was interesting to see Manzanillo's suburbs of cinderblock houses; Mexico is the Land o' Cinderblock! From the city, we ascended up a curvy road into the cartoon-green jungles, passing skinny cows grazing on the side of the highway and every shade of green imaginable.

El Salto Falls 'n' Waterpark is a well-worthwhile trip during the hot season. The waterfall is a bit treacherous, with Dangeroso! signs, but I ventured in the swimming hole part anyway, being unable to resist swimming hole beauty. There are parts of El Salto's swimming hole that are very dangerous, with a strong current; it is not for weak swimmers.

At one point Jessica got caught in an eddy, which sucked her under. Laura went to help and was sucked under too! It was scary and dramatic, however, it was not life-threatening, as a saver would only have to pull them downstream a foot to be in calm water. When panicked, it's easy to forget water-safety measures. Swimmers remember, if caught in a rapid or eddy, do not fight the current, but follow it to calmer waters. Jessica lost her cute vintage sunglasses and we all learned a lesson about water-safety; while Mexico is In Charge, Water is Always In Charge.

El Salto's Waterpark is fed by the crisp, mountain water and is unrecycled, but always fresh, entering the giant swimming-pools at the top and exiting at the end. It is full of whimsically shabby slides and structures and reminded me of a Weeble Waterpark. The water was outstandingly refreshing and it was a magical day, feasting on Laura's Incredible Ceviche de Camaron (shrimp!) and swimming in the waterpark pools with Alejandro, who is an exceptional 13 year old. He's sweet, smart, pleasant and funny, rare in a teen.

Mexican children, generally, are amazingly well-behaved and polite. The waterpark was chock-full of Mexican families bbqing carne asada, deep-frying carnitas, playing cards, drinking beer 'n' soda & patronizing mariachi musicians. Hundreds of kids swam joyfully, playing and I didn't see one temper tantrum. Mexican kids are semi-gods, doted upon by generations of family all in the same house, just like in LA. Thoughtfully, the waterpark created a shallow water-trough around the edge of the pools for babies.

There are no lifeguards or safety-people at El Salto; HB Larry revealed that there are no laws for liability insurance in Mexico, hence no lifeguards or water-slide attendants. The slides were ridiculously slow and unsteep, perhaps to keep folks safe, as it is every man for him/herself.

Interestingly it's the cultural norm, according to HB Larry, for the men and women to fiesta separately. Our picknicking neighbors brought this subject up, as a gaggle of drunk men littered Modelo cans and across the pile, the women tended babies.

Other interesting things of note included a redheaded kid, a fabulous blow-up unicorn & a great 'n' horrible story (from HB Larry) about an old, terminally-ill Mexican man who purposely waited by the side of the road until a wealthy-looking car drove by, then stepped in front to commit suicide, assuring his family of financial stability from a payout. HB Larry's friend was the driver, who happens to be the son of the man who invented the microwave; so luckily he had some coin to spare. Insane.

It was a Fabulous Waterfall Adventure!

Love The Ukulady
ps: I got Laura's Shrimp ceviche recipe! Limes cook the shrimp! Incredible! Prepare for a Ceviche party, LA-ites! The Ukulad, sadly cannot eat ceviche, due to acid reflux. He is unable to process onion, garlic, tomatoes, peppers & citrus. He would die in Mexico! Or live on quesadillas & churros.

pps: If I picked up every piece of garbage in Mexico that I'm compelled to pick up, all I would do would be picking up trash. Mexicans are still using, in great abundance, styrofoam plates, plastic cups, utensils & multiple plastic bags for everything, including 1 banana. It's totally distressing. Humankind is F-Meeped. I kept thinking, if this is what's going on in Mexico, what is going on in India?

UkuAdventures in Mexico: Hot Chips, Gas Station Banos & Spanglish!

PHOTOS: Cartoon Car, Exciting Waterfall Adventure Team, Unicorno, Jungle Mushroom!

Dear Blob,
So many fun things to report! The nightmare of the Pulgas is but a distant memory and Mexico is redeemed!

1. Fruita Exotica: There are tons of roadside fruit stands, primarily selling mangoes, coconuts, pineapple, yakal, which looks exactly like durian fruit and citrus. The Fruita Exotica vendors sell grapes imported from LA. Funny.

2. Hot Chips: I've discovered why Hot Chips, extremely popular here, are superior to Un-Hot Chips! A Chip-Enthusiast cannot eat as many Hot Chips as Un-Hot Chips, therefore minimizing pouch-expansion and leaving room for churros!

3. The legless & destitute hang out outside the bank in Melaque soliciting pesos; a better place for them would be the Airport, where departing passengers are more apt to unload their extra coinage before international travel. Get Thee to the Airport, Mexican Beggars! I'll definitely give them my leftover pesos as I'm leaving....

4. Spanglish: This is my new primary language. I would love to read a transcription of the past 5 weeks of my Spanglish, particularly the OC conversation. Most of my convos go like this:
UKULADY: Alejandro, Questa Subjecto Favorito en esquela?! (hopefully: What is your favorite school subject?) (or) La Cascada es el heffe! (hopefully: the waterfall is the boss; meaning, the waterfall is dangerous and in charge.). For the record, The Ukulady studied up to French 4 AP in high school (20 years ago), in hopes of singing French Art Songs and opera, a childhood passion.

5. Gas Station Banos: The Ukulady is a frequent road-tripper, traveling California's I5 from LA - the Bay Area and stops often for gas & restrooms, Loves being the stoppery of choice. Today, on our Exciting Waterfall Adventure (Blob Coming Soon!) with HB Larry, Laura & Alejandro, we stopped at a Pemex gas station with a Kiosko and I popped into the banos, where I automatically looked for the tissue-papery toilet-seat-sheets. Then I remembered I'm in Mexico and it's thrilling just to use a public restroom with a seat! In Southeast Asia most public toilets are holes in the ground with 2 feet-marks painted on the sides. I was glad I do yoga.

5 We heard a real Burro Hee-Hawing today! It was strangely exciting and oddly familiar even though it's the first time I can recall hearing an actual Burro Hee-Haw.

Love The Ukulady

ps: We've invented a new exercise called Truckercise! One executes Truckercise when one is riding in the back of a pickup truck; every time the truck goes over bumps or dips, the rider engages his/her muscles to remain a solid mass of muscle in the truckbed. It's a million-dollar market in Mexico & Alabama! Perhaps Georgia too?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

UkuAdventures in Mexico: Canadians to the Rescue!

PHOTOS: Marshmallows, Horse & Sign saying No Trash, Dead Fish

Dear Blob,
The Week of Mexican Challenges has morphed into a luxury-party! Our New BFF's, Canadian Rick 'n' Cathy, took pity on Jessaly and have loaned us their home for the weekend! Casa Canadian is about 5 blocks from Casa Azul and has a Pool. I've decided a Pool is essential for survival in the Mexican low-season. Casa Azul is pleasant, chock-full of great books & the Magic Garden is delightful, but a Pool Rules the Universe!

I am writing this Blob, bikini-clad, feet in Pool, honey-coconut-ball-snack in hand. I feel very Ab-Fab

Yesterday was a Recovery Day, awash in hammock-lounging, National Geographic Reading & songwriting. We ventured out in the late afternoon, coming upon Laura's hard-partying boss's funeral. There were hundreds of mourners, spilling out of the open-air shack-like church, into the ice-cream-arcade and cobblestone-dirt streets. According to HB Larry, in the first couple minutes of ceremony his Sins were on the table and throughout the 3 - 4 hour event, "He Was Not Without His Sins" came up a lot.

Early evening we biked to downtown Barra, where I visited Dr. Rubio, who is on facebook, speaks perfect English and recently vacationed in Orange County. For $20 she peeked at my weird stomach-rash, declared it fungal in nature, due to the tropical environment and prescribed me anti-fungal/antibiotic crema; all for a grand total of $32 American dollars. About what I would pay in the states if I had Good Health Insurance and minus the hassles of making an appointment, driving anywhere & dealing with paperwork & insurance cards. It was Fantastic! America's biggest flaw is the healthcare system.

We enjoyed tamales, 2 for $1 dollar, from a tamale-trolley in the plaza, picked up our laundry, which was washed & folded for $3 dollars and biked to Casa Azul to pack our slumber-party satchels.

Casa Candian is smaller than Casa Azul, but has the feel of Vacation Luxury, with airy, light bedrooms, eco-fancy-Big-Sur-luxury-style bathrooms, nestled within art-deco-ish curvy walls. Casa Azul is comfortable-hippie-funky; Casa Canadian is Mexican vacation-rental with a sleek Swiss Family Robinson meets Monaco atmosphere.

Deserving of pampering, we star-gazed, lolling in the pool, after sharing a sack of consistently-outrageously-delicious churros. It's the first night we've seen stars! Oddly, it hasn't rained in 2 whole days and in fact, last night it was almost cool! Startled by the sensation, we had goose-bumps when we got out of the pool! It was exciting.

After his bartender shift, Punk-Rock Buster came over, even though Canadian Rick's email specifically said, "No Boys!" and Jessica & Buster stayed up all night recording his punk-rock album. His music reminds me of the Dead Milkmen. I went to bed and slept like a battery-less robot.

Today will be spent poolside with a brief trip to Melaque for money, as the Mexican Tourists have sucked all the money from Barra's ATM's. Buster & Jessica remain horizontal, guitars, microphones & cords strewn carelessly about Casa Canadian

Love The Ukulady
ps: Can we hear a giant MEEEEEEP for Rick 'n' Cathy! MEEEEEP!
pps: Which is not to say MEEEP for Carmen & Sally & Casa Azul; we just needed a little luxury for a couple days and a Pool!
ppp: Interestingly, there are far less mosquitoes at Casa Canadian; less garden, less puddles and moisture for the slutty insects. Another wisdom tidbit from HB Larry! Dude needs to write a book: The Gringo's Guide to Mexico's Pacific Coast.

Friday, July 22, 2011

For My New Blob-Fans: Meet Velvetina Evilwich!

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UkuAdventures in Mexico: Flea Free!

PHOTOS: Children's Mural, Barra De Navidad, Jalisco, Mexico

Dear Blob,
It's glorious to sleep in a Flea-Free bed! Jessica has an interesting flea-theory, a creation myth explaining their brief Casa Azul domination:

Carmen & Sally, the most frequent Casa Azulians, have 2 dogs and Conchita Cat, who get regular flea treatment. While the animals live inside, the fleas hop aboard the pets and instantly die from the flea-treated pet-poison. There have been no succulent Inside Pets during Jessaly's stay and the subsequent time from the furry-pet departure to the fleas explosive appearance, seems to be the perfect breeding time for whatever few fleas were left behind. Instead of tasty dog, the fleas were left with tasty un-flea-treated person and partied like rock stars.

Raise Your Glass! May the Fleas be the final drama of the purported It-Comes-In-3's: Flood, Baby OC Debacle, Fleas!

In other news, Jessica wants to invent the Mosquito-Net Burka. Genius. Another wide-open million-dollar market.

Love The Ukulady
ps: I do have an odd mini-rash on my stomach, which reminds me of poison oak, which doesn't seem to grow in Mexico.

pps: While jogging through the barrio, I've noticed many disabled people, retarded, wheelchair-bound, extremely old; it occurred to me that in the US, we like to hide our disabled away from the general population. I admire Mexican's dedication to their family, no matter what the circumstances, however, they go too far, being obsessed with family. Teens start child-bearing around 14 and having 9 - 12 children is still common. When will humans learn to Balance? Be dedicated to family, but be aware of the World and the population problems facing humanity. Is this the fault of the Catholic Church & it's iron fist clutching Latin America?