I really love my neighborhood! So often in my life, I drive from Point A to Point B and am surprised when I arrive at my destination. I know you are the same. We put our cars – and our minds – into automatic and forget to pay attention to what is happening along the way. That is quite impossible here in Mexico. For starters, if you don’t pay attention to your driving, you will definitely be killed. Cars and motorbikes cut in and out from both lanes and it is every man for himself. Also, there is just so much to see and no matter how many times we drive or walk down the same streets, I notice something new or different or crazy that I did not notice before.
Today I want to take you on a picture tour of my neighborhood. I will barely scratch the surface of what there is to see but I hope you will feel the love I have for this place and laugh with the craziness of it.
The town of Bucerias is divided in half by Highway 200. To the west is the ocean – which of course means this is the area where the tourists and gringos live and visit. There are restaurants and galleries and pretty houses. The main towns square and the flea market are there. It is fun and you can get by speaking English and eating guacamole and drinking cheap beer. There is an OXXO (like 7-11) on every block. One the east side of the highway is the Mexican part of town. Roads are bumpier, chickens are louder and Spanish is the predominant language. There are gringos like us who live here but they are few and far between. The restaurants here are generally taco stands on the side of the road or in backyards. Instead of OXXOs, there are mini-supers on every block.
Grant and I often drive or walk up and down the streets surrounding our house, exploring each block so we know where to find the local mechanic or hardware store or tortilla lady. Today I found a seamstress in a tiny shop – someone I can ask to sew new cushion covers for our garden. Sometimes we look in windows or climb up to look over fences, curious to see how our neighbors live. We feel welcome here, everyone stopping to smile and say “Hola, Buenas tardes”. Children are everywhere and are excited to speak to the gringos. When we drive our convertible around with the roof down, everyone stops what they are doing to wave, and call out to us. Here are a few things you will see when you come to visit us in our colonia.
When you watch an old Mexican movie, you always see vehicles on blocks, covered in thick layers of dust. This is a true depiction of my neighborhood. I now realize that all that dust does not mean the vehicles have been abandoned for a long time – it is just that dusty on the unpaved streets. Here are some of the transportation options around here:
Every block has a VW bug or VW van parked on it – I suspect it is mandatory.
Not all vehicles are exactly road worthy – but no point in getting rid of them.
Horses are almost as common as vehicles – not sure what the laws are for drinking and driving a horse but that horse is looking mighty hard at that sign…
Animals are everywhere – I am sitting at my desk and at this exact moment I am listening to dogs (a LOT of dogs), chickens, roosters, a parrot, and some goats. Check out the tiny chihuahua I am holding – there are more chihuahuas here than Volkswagons!
And lots of cats too….. certainly more dignified
Check out the giant iguana that sometimes lives in the tree next door
You don’t need a mall here – there is lots to be purchased on every block – today we saw fruit and tortillas and bums – and a ton of other stuff. Spices, flowers, pinatas…. what do you need?
A few weeks ago we came upon a woodworker making trinkets to sell at the market. Grant spied an old wood carving of a saxophone player way back in his yard. The woodworker said he had made it 28 years ago and it had stood in that spot ever since. Grant decided we needed the musician in our garden and convinced the old carpenter to sell it. It got a lot of attention driving home in the back of the convertible but it now looks great in the garden. Today we stopped to show the woodworker some pictures of the carving in our yard and he was thrilled! Can’t buy that at Walmart!
This morning we found our new favorite breakfast spot – full breakfast including bacon and eggs and hashbrowns and beans and coffee and fresh squeezed juice and homemade strawberry jam on toast in a pretty garden – for less than $5 – and of course no afternoon walk would be complete without a stop for a taco. (Why does every blog post I do end up being about food?)
A couple of other interesting spots around town.
But there are two places in my neighborhood that I love the most – my church La Fuente Riviera and the orphanage Manos de Amor Casa Hogar. These are the places where my heart has settled and where I both give and receive love when I am far away from my own family and friends.
It is not always easy living in this neighborhood – I don’t sleep that great because of the never-ending noise, I often feel hot and dusty and I struggle to be understood by everyone I encounter. When I walk down the street I risk breaking an ankle on the cobblestones and when I drive down the street I risk ripping the bottom off of my car on the speed bumps. I don’t have a bathtub or a clothes dryer or a BBQ. My kitchen is tiny. But I can truly say that I absolutely love living in this house and in this neighborhood. Every day is an adventure – some good, some not so good – but I have concluded that curiosity and the unexpected life is what keeps us young and engaged in the journey. Never again do I want to move through life on auto-pilot. From now on, I’m going to climb fences, and be bold enough to speak awful Spanish to neighbors and try new food that looks weird. I challenge you to do the same in your neighborhood!