On top of the rock

On top of the rock
Our Cliff

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas everyone!

It is 5am Christmas morning. I have been awake since 3:30 so I decided to just get up. I am curled up on the sofa in our bodega covered with Maurice’s sweatshirts. It is cold here in the mornings! Gees! I thought this was Mexico! Well, I guess it beats 2 feet of snow so I should not complain.

Yes we are still sleeping in the bodega. I know most of you think we have moved up already, but no, we have not. Maurice now has half of the solar panels installed so we are getting close. The electricians and plumbers have a couple more days of work left. They just do not seem to want to finish. They are so close, yet we are having a hard time getting them to show up to finish. You would think they would want their final payment, wouldn’t you? The wrought iron guys are another group that still has to finish their work here. They have to install the gates and finish painting the railings that are already installed. They are also making some headboards for Laguna and Boca that we have not seen yet. The landscaping is coming along amazingly well! Everything looks so good with palms and cactus around. It really brings the place to life. Then there is the big clean-up needed; both inside and out. Last week Jesus (pronounced hey-soos) came to us looking for work as his job in Todos Santos ended. We were thrilled! If you remember we had wanted to hire him a month and a half ago. He will begin with us Monday. We promised him a couple of months work but if things go well we hope we can keep him here. He will be a big help to us. His first job will be to clean up what still remains of the construction…..stray re-bar, some concrete chunks, things like that.

So today is Christmas and we actually celebrated Christmas Eve last night. This was a last minute decision for us. The bodega is a mess since we are in transition and the top is a mess since we are trying to get unpacked. I finally got most of the things for the kitchen put away, at least what we moved here from the storage unit. The thing is we have no counter tops or sink yet so nothing could be washed. I will have to empty all the cupboards to wash everything when the sink goes in but at least I can do that gradually. Anyway, two days ago I said to Maurice, “Do you think we can have Christmas Ever here?” We decided all our efforts would go to make that happen. While I emptied the remaining boxes and tried to get everything put “somewhere” he hung lights and ceiling fans. We pulled it off. Last night we had Keith and Sharon over for our first Christmas Eve at Arriba de la Roca. We grilled steaks on the BBQ and I even found some boxes with Christmas decorations that we had scattered around. We even had a small tree. So even though there were displaced things sitting around, and furniture with no place to call home yet in the middle of the room we enjoyed Christmas dinner with our good friends.

Today we are invited to some Italians that Maurice met a couple of years ago. He ate with them a few times when I was still in Canada and really enjoys them. He is excited to have an Italian Christmas dinner!

For now I want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas, or Happy Chanukah. May the year 2011 be one filled with blessings for you and your loved ones and hopefully it will include a trip to Arriba de la Roca.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A New Life

NOTE: Please read the posting marked 6,737 miles or 10,799 kilometers before you read this. It was posted December 12th

Saturday December 11th marked one year since I quit my career and my life at CHFI. The year has flown by! I can not believe how much has happened and changed in the past 12 months. My “Dream a little dream” bracelet, that was my departing gift, has still not left my wrist. I think of my friends at work almost daily. Thoughts of them run through my mind about a joke we may have shared between us, or an idea, an opinion, or I may just think about people that I truly miss.

Ironically, I spent my one year anniversary, Saturday, December 11th, at a place called La Canada. (Get it?? We moved here from Canada.) This is a local business that holds our storage unit but also is a huge fabulous furniture store. I have dreamt of owning many things under Pedro and Barbara’s roof…they are the owners there. December 11th they had their annual rummage sale. They open up their huge parking lot to anyone who wants to sell anything. There were vendors selling sausages, jellies, pottery, hummus, tortillas, salsas, donuts, clothing….well you can imagine. There were also people like me and Maurice. Too much stuff!! (BTW that is a great Delbert McClinton song…Thanks Maxine!) Since we had “too much stuff” we spent a couple of days going through our storage units and pulling things out for the sale that we knew for sure we could get rid of.

Saturday was a really really busy day. There were hundreds of people who came out for the event. Probably 60% were Mexican locals, and the rest gringos. My friend Sharon came to help me as Maurice was at our house working. We sold so much stuff that we made $12,000 pesos! THAT IS A THOUSAND DOLLARS!!!! In Toronto we had rummage sales that we planned and worked on for weeks and made only $200!!!! I WAS SO EXCITED!! $1,000!!!! COOL!!

Also, I had this rule. If any Mexican came and asked about the price on something that was under 200 pesos I would give it to them. Some of them could not believe it! They would ask again, “Cuanto es?? “And I would say, “Nada...por ustedes, por favor” (Nothing...for you, please) I got so many hugs! The one price exception was a clock that we had 300 pesos on. A guy with one arm kept talking to his sister about it and rubbing his hand on it. He wanted it so bad, I could tell. I figure that some people work a whole day for 300 pesos and I am guessing he did not have that opportunity. I told him “Feliz Navidad!!” He was so happy!!! It was the best day ever.

As a side bar here...I tell you these things not to make myself look like a good person. Trust me, giving away something that I could pocket under $20 does not make me a good person. I tell you these things to give you a better idea of the Mexican people. They have so little and appreciate everything! It may not have even been the gift...it is the unexpected act of kindness that turned out to be the best gift of all.

...Back to the sale....

The highlight of the day though, was the selling of the pink couch. (I am sure you knew that was coming, right??) We kept it wrapped in the plastic it was moved in, but took off the brown paper. So many people wanted it. It was such a gem to everyone. It was also $2,500 pesos which is a lot of money to most here. There was this woman; I am guessing a 65 year old that appeared to be closer to 75. She wanted it so bad and wanted to know the cheapest I would sell it for. I told her $2,000 pesos. She asked if it included both pieces, since it was a sectional. I told her yes, but she still kept asking, like she could not believe it. She left and came back a few times in a matter of 10 minutes and she finally handed me $2,000 pesos and asked if she could come back later to get it. Of course, I said. I now know it was so she could get large men to carry it for her.

During the next 2 hours she brought a parade of people by to show them her new sofa. They were of all ages. The kids jumped on it and the adults smiled at her. She hugged me.

When the time came for her to take it away I hugged her...All I can think of is that now, our pink sofa that traveled over 6,700 miles in its life is starting another journey. It will start to support new people, and new families. It will be loved and taken care of and cherished. It is being given a new life, here in Mexico. Kind of like Maurice and me.

Where’s a live mouse when you really need one!

When Maurice phoned me today while I was in Cabo and asked me to pick something up for him I was not surprised. This often happens as he thinks of an item he needs while I am in town. His request today though, was a little unusual.

“Where are you?” he asked. “Costco” I responded. “GREAT!” he exclaimed! “Can you pick me up a large glass container??” “What kind of glass container?” I asked. “A big one with a cover. Kind of like an aquarium.” “Should I ask why?” I say. “We have a new pet,” he says. “You found a fish??” “No….a rattlesnake.”

Well, as you can imagine that did not excite me as much as it excited Maurice. “A RATTLESNAKE!!! WHAT THE HECK IS THE MATTER WITH YOU!!!???” “It is only a baby” he says, “not more than a foot long. “

“Does it have a rattler???”


“Can it still bite??”


“And you want to keep it in a glass container??”

“Yes, one that is big enough for me to put rocks, sand and live mice in,” he says.


“Yes, please.”

Well Costco had no rattlesnake houses but I did find a large clear plastic box in Wal-Mart. So now we have a rattlesnake in a box. Maurice frantically looked for live mice in some storage boxes we had. Of course he had no luck. He did find out that the snake can live for a month without food. He says that if he can not find live mice for him he will le it go. Gees, that is reassuring!

BTW Retro is not a fan of the snake. I have to agree with him…but I do have to say I peak a look way too often into his plastic habitat! Maurice enjoys that! He giggles and says, “YOU LIKE IT!!!” I guess for our first pet snake it is kind of cute...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

6,737 miles or 10,779 kilometers

Back in 1987 my friend Nancy and I moved from downtown Minneapolis to Lake Independence. We rented a fabulous house there, on the lake, with two large living rooms, both overlooking the water. Since we had never lived in a place with two living rooms before, we needed to get some additional furniture. Lucky for us that Nancy worked at a home furnishings store at the time and got us some great bargains. One of the first things we did was buy matching sectional sofas for our two living rooms. One was a kind of pastel stripe and the other a kind of pink color. This pink sofa was mine. I chose the color because it matched a beautiful antique rug that my mother had given me. The rug had this color of “pink” along with taupe and black and shades of blues and maroon.

During the 4 years that Nancy and I lived in that house we survived many changes. There was an apartment down below that she eventually moved into with her boyfriend (now husband) Wade. Her sofa was too large for the space so she sold it to me and my new roommate, our friend “Hogger”. (Either that or I begged so much that the matching sofas not be separated she left it for us...the truth escapes me!!)

In 1991 I left Minneapolis to move to Clearwater, Florida to finally be with the love of my life, Maurice. Our friend Jack moved in with Hogger and I took all my things with me. Hogger kept Nancy’s sofa...but my pink sofa came with me to Clearwater.

My life in Clearwater was not for long. Suffice to say that in January of 1992 I re-packed all my things and moved to Toronto; Palgrave, Ontario to be exact. Again, all my worldly possessions came with me, including my pink sofa. From there Maurice and I bought our house in Tottenham, Ontario. Again, another big move including the pink sofa.

Over the years we added and changed so many things in our ever growing home. One constant was the pink sofa that sat on top of the beautiful antique rug in our living room. We finally had new pillows made to kind-of update the look since the sofa was still great, but the color "pink" that was rather passé.

When we started clearing out our house for our move to Mexico we got rid of lots of things. We had auctions and rummage sales and I do have to say that the Salvation Army Thrift Stores and Goodwill were the recipients of many things I would have NEVER believed we would have just given away...but we did.

The pink sofa was going to go to Rocco and Donna as they had gutted their basement and were remodeling it. Although we knew they would not keep it there for a long time we were excited they were taking our fabulous, albeit pink, sofa.

Just before we were to move Rocco and Donna found out that the sofa would not make it down and around their steps. O.K. Now what. It was way to good to just give away to Goodwill, and Maurice’s kids could not use it. There was only one choice. The pink sofa was loaded into our 40 ft moving container and it came with us to Mexico in December of 2009.

Minneapolis to Clearwater on a moving truck. Clearwater to Palgrave on a U-Haul. Palgrave to Tottenham in another U-Haul. Tottenham to Halifax Nova Scotia on a train. Halifax to Vera Cruz Mexico, on an ocean liner. From Vera Cruz, on a truck, over the Sea of Cortez on a ferry, to our storage unit in Todos Sanots, Baja Sur Mexico.

That couch was a real trouper. Following me wherever I went. Always there to support and hold me up. There to hold up friends, family, grandchildren. It was always there for me.

It was there to pose for family Christmas pictures on

It was there for kids and grandkids to play on

It was there the "night of"

.....and the "morning after"

It supported "Mexican" costumes....

....and new families

We moved it from room to room...depending on how many people we needed to seat for Christmas dinner

And we held new...

And growing grandbabies on it

But what are we going to do with this integral-part-of-our-life-pink-sofa in Mexico?

Stay tuned.....

P.S. If you think that on December 13th....12 days before our first Christmas without family....that me going through pictures to find ones with the pink sofa on it make me cry, than you are right.......That part of this posting REALLY sucked!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tis the season

OH MY WORD!!! Jingle Bells, We wish you a Merry Christmas, The First Noel...all songs we know by heart. We know the melodies; we know each and every word. So how crazy is it to be in a store and hear these songs, with a little Mexican musical flare to them, and being sung in Spanish. Of course Christmas carols would be in Mexico‘s native tongue....I just never thought about it! It makes me smile! The Season is in full swing here. There are poinsettias everywhere. Fake trees, even some real ones that cost a small fortune and I am sure have a very short “shelf life”. There are inflatable Santas everywhere. There are displays of children’s gifts, Christmas towels and decorations. Oh, the decorations!!! I will take a picture for you...certainly not things you would find in Macy’s, or The Bay. They are very Mexican, which to me makes them very special.


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

So many firsts

Over the past 6 weeks, we have had friends and family visiting us. Each of these visits has resulted in at least one first for us, and of course them as well.

First, there was my mom. Of course, you remember the picture of her in our pool, feet splashing in the water as we filled our hot tub and pool for the first time. She not only got to experience the filling of the pool, she also got to have the first swim.

Next, my sister Barbara was here. She also got to swim in the pool, but this was not a first for us, only for her. (She also did NOT get to swim in the pool for two days when our workers brought their entire families, complete with coolers, and kind of “took over” our pool. Two separate families, two different days, both uninvited, but that is another story.) My first with Barbara was that she and I got to see the first whaleS of 2010 during their migration. This was on November 1st.

Next my friend Jackie came. Her visit was filled with many whale sightings, and of course swimming, too. With Jackie, we had our first turtle rescue. Actually our first and last, as I have not seen a turtle on the beach since she left. We were also SO close to sleeping up on top. We even set up beds. Unfortunately, we had no water, toilets, or electricity, so the first sleep was passed on to.....

Our dear ex-Tottenham neighbors, Rick and Kate. During their visit here we “moved up”. (My last post “First sleep”) After one sleep with them in our bodega, Maurice was determined to get us up on top. So with no electricity, but toilets that flushed we hauled out candles and lanterns and slept “Arriba”.

Our final first was with Rocco and Donna. Rocco is Maurice’s friend who drove all the way down here with him from Canada in June of 2009. Rocco and Maurice worked together for 17 years and are totally simpatico. Donna and he are very special to us and yesterday, sadly, they headed back to Toronto.

We had many firsts with them. We had electricity! Maurice and I ran around screwing in light bulbs to determine which lights worked; many did not. (Guess we have to get those plumbers-who-are-also-electricians back here!!)

We still have no solar but Maurice “stole” electricity from the bodega’s batteries and that worked!!

We also had our first propane experiences: Propane in our outdoor kitchen so we could grill steaks on our new BBQ. Propane in our fireplace so we could eat by firelight, and propane in the firepots that line the edges of the pool and separate it from our living room. THAT WAS COOL!!!...and warm!! They give off lots of heat!

We also ate dinner at our dining room table.

We had music from my IPOD, plugged into our wall that was receiving an electric current from the bodega’s batteries! We were up until after midnight, which is almost another first in itself!!! We experienced what our home really feels like with guests...and no kitchen counters, or sink, or stove, or frig...well you get the idea.

So the next 6 weeks will be filled with a continuing list of firsts. By the end of that time, we should have Arriba de la Roca in full swing! We still have lots of details to finish, furniture to move in, and things to set up and buy. Each day holds a different surprise and a new experience to unfold.

I think life should always be like that, don’t you?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

First sleep!

We finally had our first sleep “arriba”. We have no electricity yet, but we do have flushing toilets so we made-do with some lanterns, candles and flashlights. The moon was one day from being full so the sky was really bright and we could see well, even without the candles.

Our Tottenham neighbors Rick and Kate were here for the big event. We set up some beds, threw some of our blankets on top and they spent the night in Pacifica. Of course Maurice and I were in our room. There are so many windows in our room and the view is so spectacular that I hardly slept. I kept opening my eyes and watching the stars change, and the moon set into the ocean. It was spectacular! Towards morning Maurice flew out of bed to look outside because we heard this “pounding-slapping” noise. WHAT THE HECK?? So Maurice went on a search to find the source. It happened to be rays jumping out of the ocean!! When they went back in they created this “pounding-slapping” sound. It was so loud we were shocked! Maybe it was the atmosphere this day but they sounded so close it was like they were in the pool!

I am sure we are in for many such surprises when we move on top permanently. We have been watching the whales migrate and the day I went to pick up Rick and Kate, Maurice had a show for about 45 minutes. Just below us he said there were whales, leaping, dancing, singing and blowing out air. He said he never saw anything like it. It was almost as if they were performing for him. This will continue until April as they head to the Sea of Cortez and then migrate back to Alaska. This is the furthest distance any mammal migrates, about 6,000 miles in total.

At night we will sit in bed watching the stars, listening to the rays leap in and out of the water, and see the moon set into the ocean. During the day we can view the whale show from our pool, while making splashing sounds of our own.


P.S. Just posted a few more pictures on Arriba de la Roca’s Facebook page. We should be open by mid December….keep your fingers crossed.

Friday, November 19, 2010



3 Sunrises and 26 turtles

My friend Jackie planned a nice 10 day vacation here at Arriba de la Roca. I am sure she expected to be sleeping in her casita at night, and swimming and relaxing during the day. What she did not expect was to be spending 10 nights on our fold-out sofa because we have not finished our project!!

Being a good sport, and a great friend, she was gracious and we had a wonderful time. We watched whales migrate to the Sea of Cortez, had pizza at The Sand Bar, got massages on the beach, visited LaPaz and Cabo, toured Todos Santos and we walked the beach every morning, watching the rainbows and the jumping fish.

Her last day we got up early so we could get our walk in before I had to take her to the airport. It was dawn and the sun had not risen over the Sierra da la Laguna Mountains when we took off for our walk. As we were coming back we watched the sun rise over the peak of the mountain range. It was beautiful. The funny thing is though, that when we walked on we lost the sun behind the mountains again and so we saw a second sunrise in a different spot. To be able to see three sunrises in the same morning we ran further up the beach to the shade so we could see this spectacle of nature one more time.

It was fun.

As we were nearing the end of the beach Jackie looked down and saw a turtle. It was a baby, newly hatched and trying to get to the ocean. The problem is that ATV’s had been on the beach and the turtle was caught in the tracks.
We picked it up and took it to the ocean. We were excited to have saved it!! Coming back, though, we saw more, and more of these babies! Every time we put more in the ocean, we found more. We saved a total of 26 baby turtles on Jackie’s last day in the Baja. It was a gift we could have never ever expected.

Everyday in life is unpredictable and we never know what to expect. When you experience 3 sunrises in the same day, and save 26 baby turtles you look up in the sky and shout, “THANK YOU!!!!”

Our life is full of blessings….my visit with Jackie was one of them.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

OH MAN part 2....

Jesus has a job for 6 months, at least. When Maurice called him to find out how long he would be on his job this is what he told him. Where he is working right now they are building a house. We can not make this kind of time committment to him. For that reason Maurice did not ask him to come help him.

I beleive that he may be brought to us yet...just not right now.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


Today we ran into Jesus(pronounced HEY-SOOS)...of course there are 1,674,221 men named Jesus in Mexico but this particular "Jesus" is our Jesus. He wears a white hat, speaks "rapido Spanish", is very intense when working, and smiles in a subdued way when he is pleased about something. He is not a "normal" employee of Don Jose, our builder, but is hired when needed on his crew. For our job Jesus was here about 3/4 of the time. I would call him "the man in the hat" and Maurice always knew who I meant. You never see him without his white hat.

About 6 weeks ago Jesus was told he was no longer needed on this job. He came to us and thanked us for letting him work on our project. It brought a tear to my eye. He was one of the hardest workers we had and he was THANKING US for letting him work here. The next week we created additional "labor" by adding some stone walls around the parking area and Don Jose brought Jesus back. He is what they call an unskilled laborer. He works hard at what he is told to do but is not a skilled worker. For this reason he makes $2,000 pesos a week, or about $160. For us he worked 5 days a week, 8 to 10 hours a day so he made about $3 to $4 an hour, depending on the day. The skilled labors made between $2,200 and $3,000 pesos a week.

Now the job has ended here for all of these workers. We had a party for them and gave them an envelope with a bonus in it. The 10 guys, which we included Jesus in, that had worked here the entire time got more than the ones that worked here up until 6 to 8 weeks ago. After Jesus opened his bonus he came to our door to thank us. He had owed Maurice $500 pesos ($40) and he had this money out to pay him back. Maurice told him that he no longer owed him the money. The guy actually teared-up and I had to turn away so he did not see me cry. $40 can make a grown man cry! My word!! We are so blessed!

Strangely, all day today I kept telling Maurice to call Jesus and ask him if he could help Maurice carry all the solar panels and racking up on the roof next week. It is a two day job and Maurice cannot do it alone. Maurice said that Jesus had told him he got another job. I kept saying call him anyway....I can be a pain that way. So today in Todos Santos, we run into him. He smiles and comes to the car shaking our hands. Maurice asks him if he may be available to help him for a couple of days. He tells us that he now has a job but it is for little money. He is working 6 days a week from 7am to 3pm for $1100 pesos. OH MAN!! Can you imagine?? That is about $13 a day and about 1/2 what he made working for Don Jose! He would love to earn some extra helping Maurice but since it is far from us there is really no time.

So I start thinking of all the things we could have him do for us. We could keep him busy for at least 3 or 4 months and when we open for business maybe even longer. Yes, I know we cannot save the world but this guy has a family and is trying to make it on less that $90 a week!

We decided that we would "sleep on it" and if we still felt we could afford him and actually keep him busy we are calling Jesus tomorrow and offering to employ him for the next 3 or 4 months. We will tell him that if Don Jose can give him a job we would happily let him go back to work for him, but in the meantime he can work with us. We will pay him what he would make with Don Jose, not the $1100 pesos the person who is totally using him is paying him…or as Maurice says, “Gee some people really take advantage!”

Well since I am writing this at 1 am I guess I cannot "sleep on it". I just keep thinking of the tears in his eyes when Maurice told him his $500 peso debt was paid off....I cannot even imagine how he will react when we offer him a fair job at a wage he is used to being paid. No, we can’t "save the world" but we can try to help those in the world we live in...even if it is only one at a time.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Integrity and honor

In the last few days I have had numerous discussions with other Americans or Canadians about integrity and honor. These conversations are a result of some of the issues we are dealing with now. Of course you know about the evil demon in our fairy tale world. He is still lurking in our shadows. He keeps trying to come up with ways to access what he thinks he is entitled to. Will he ever win? No, but, that does not mean we do not feel him in our sides….prodding and poking….this too, shall pass, and as of now it may have. Time will tell.

Next there is our kitchen “guy”. We were told that our installation was to begin on October 15th. This has been changed to the 23rd, then the 25th, and then yesterday. Each time the change comes with a promise they will really be here “this time“. Each time they do not show I have to call and call and call to find out they are not coming and to hear of another date they randomly pull out of their….well, out of somewhere. Now the new date is today. It is 8:50am. Our workers have been here since 7:30. No kitchen guys.

Some say “that is how it is down here”. I adamantly disagree. We have dealt with probably 40 different people in the building of our dream. To run into 2 that are lacking some integrity I think is a pretty good percentage. (I won’t even get into the story of the original guy from Oregon who wanted to do the project, but that makes three people...one from the U.S. He certainly had the least amount of integrity we have found yet.) I think if anyone, anyplace, tried to undertake what we have done here they may very well run into more people than we have that have caused them concern. The genuine work ethic and the integrity and sense of honor that all the others have, certainly outweigh these irritating few we have found.

How is it down here? It is sunny, even when there are clouds. It is fresh, even when there is no rain. It is free and easy, even when evil people prod and poke at you. It is peaceful, even when we feel anger.

We are so close to being done.

Here is a picture taken from our neighbor’s lot.

We now have railings, and doors and windows.

We have cabinets and showers with faucets.

We have water in our pool.
I have posted 24 pictures on our Arriba de la Roca Facebook page if you want to see more. And if you have not yet said you “like“ our page, please do.

We are almost done and when the process is complete we will walk away realizing how lucky we are to have built our dream here in Mexico and we will always appreciate the friends we have made here.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Where to begin....

First of all I now have my computer back. That is fabulous news! Gateway honored the warranty and one sister schlepped it away from to Mexico for me, and another one brought it back. Now I will try to update you on a month or so of development and activities. Do not fear I will do this gradually, and with pictures.

My mom left last week. The highlight of her trip here, other than pizza night at The Sand Bar (kidding) was the filling of our pool. Maurice hooked up long white tubes into our pila and with a powerful pump, and 5 truck load deliveries of water, he gradually filled our pool with clear, cool, fresh water. Mom and I sat on the rim of the hot tub, where the pipe was laying and played in the rush of the water. After the hot tub was full and it began spilling into the pool we had to get inside the water. We got our suits and went into the very un-hot, hot tub. It was exhilarating and so exciting. The next day we waited patiently for there to be enough water in the pool so we could actually swim.With our green folding chairs sitting in one end of the pool we frolicked in and out of the water. It was cold but my mom was right there with me...swimming in our dream. There is nothing like looking all around you all you see is the ocean. The whales should be starting their migration down to the Sea of Cortez soon. Now that will be a site!!

Swimming on top of Arriba de la Roca and watching nature pass right by you.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Tick Tock (Written on October 24th)

November 1st we are scheduled to have the photographer come to shoot “Arriba de la Roca” for our web site. We should be all settled in, living on top, by the time of this photography session. Besides all the predictable fixing of the paint, cleaning up, poofing and fluffing of the place, we still have:

No solar...it missed the shipment down from San Diego on Friday so we will have to wait a week. Estimated arrival...November 1st. Estimated time to install the system is one week.

No kitchen...they were to begin installation on October 15th...no call, no show. He has now committed to Monday the 25th. BTW, if WE would not have been ready for the installation we would have had to pay a penalty. It was in the contract. They did not think to put the reverse scenario in writing.

No outside doors. All the bathroom doors are installed but we wanted mesquite entry doors and the wood got tied up in customs so they are delayed. Hopefully this week.

No glass in all the door frames around our main room. They say in two weeks they will be finished with all the window installation. Two weeks means the last few days of the week of November 1st.

No path for the Kawasaki Mule. They tore out the old one, just around the curve that hindered the Mule’s climb up the baby camino. They then figured it would still not work if they rebuilt it, so there it sits. No solution. No wall. A mess. I think we have to tear out some of our beautiful flagstone steps to make it work.

No plumbing connections. Isn’t that sh*tty!!!

Two storage units full of stuff to unpack.


Change the date of the photography session.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Here she goes again....

I have to tell you that I have not cried for a long time. It used to be that every time I went "arriba de la roca" I would cry. I could not believe we owned such a magnificent place. It did not seem right that people could own such a spectacular piece of nature. I would have to breath slowly to try and calm myself, yet the tears would come. One day you will be here and you will understand. THEN add to it that we have dreamt about this for 5 years and have been working towards this goal, and the emotions are crazy.

In the past 10 days that Maurice has been gone there has been many things accomplished. Yes, the painting continues. They are pretty much done and they will now spend their time fixing up what the electricians, carpenters and other workers have messed up...of course inadvertently, but never-the-less it needs fixing.

They have put drains on the road. When the rains came we realized that there was nowhere for the water to go so it ran down the sides of the road taking gravel with it. We now have 5 culverts, but a road that is still in need of lots of repair.

They finished our outdoor kitchen Everything needs to be installed but it is in and painted. We also have to have wood doors made.

The carpenters have started installing the closets and the bathroom doors. They look great! It is amazing how much of a difference wood doors make. They are all custom since this was the best way to get what we wanted. You can not find doors at Home Depot for a house like ours...nothing at our place is standard. Of course with me hovering over them they are not happy. "What about this mark?" "I can see a screw here." "Why is the wood splitting here?" Lucky they speak no English, and my Spanish sucks cause they may get REALLY upset with me. They keep trying to tell me it is not finished yet....I have to believe them.

Maurice wanted custom made travertine steps going up to his office and around our bathtub. They were installed this week, too. INCREDIBLE!!! They look so classy!! For a guy who "does not care what we do inside" when he comes up with an idea it is grand!!!

They have also put the black rock facing on the wall behind our bed. We waited for this rock since June! They are large, round, black polished stones, placed on sheets for easy application. WOW!! I can not wait to see our bed up against it! Our green verdigris and brass bed that I will be painting black. That bed. I also had them put some of the rock around our shower entrance since it is all the same room. I will post pictures of everything when Maurice gets back with our computer...O.K. HIS computer that I am using!!!

I have a truck load full of garbage to take to the dump and they still have lots of cleaning up to do. Two weeks...that is when I think they will be close to being done. A guy came today to check out our needs for landscaping...that is fun...


They are now installing the windows and the sliding doors. Virtually all of our openings to the outrageous views are glass. Today two truck loads came, with 10 people and they began the installation. THE WINDOWS AND DOORS ARE PERFECT! They add such an element of completion that I lost it. I think the workers thought I was crazy. I tried to be subtle but I was hugging the woman who owns the company and thanking her SO much for listening to what we wanted and delivering on it! I did not tell Maurice. It will be his surprise when he gets home tomorrow.

Our dream is almost done.

Wait til you see it!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Sans Mauricio

It has been 6 nights since Maurice has left me. He flew to Canada last Wednesday for his neice's wedding. One of us had to stay here and for obvious reasons that person was me. Tomorrow he flies to San Diego to check on our solar shipment and the lucky guy gets to see Claus and Laurie twice in 2 months!! Not only did I miss our family and friends in Toronto, I am missing them in Calfornia,too! He is a lucky man right now!

The obvious issues. I do not speak Spanish and that is what I am forced to do all day. The issues and questions and decisions have not gone away with Maurice. That leaves me to try to figure out the questions...well me, with a few phone calls to our friend Keith. "HEY KEITH!! TALK TO THIS GUY! I DO NOT HAVE A CLUE!! WHAT IS HE SAYING??"

Keith speaks Spanish.

Next issue is having to make those decisions!! I am not sure how Mauricio (his Spanish name) has done ALL this for 7 months. Seriously! Everyone wants an answer and I can see why sometimes he says to me "TELL THEM I AM NOT HERE!!!" The crazy thing is how seldom he does that!!

I have to run the generator to charge the batteries. This has to be done for about 3 hours a day. Maurice has set it up to make it much easier for me then it is for him. The difference is it sits by our door SO IT IS LOUD!!! I try to do it when I walk and then I head up top. This still leaves an hour or two with it SCREAMING in my head. I still have to fill it with gas daily, but at least I do not have to schlep it all the way in the back. That is hard! I think I am going deaf though...


Of course I am here with only Retro. We are really isolated and me staying here alone frightens most people; except me. A worker offered to camp here which was sweet. One of the store owners downtown asked who was staying with me. When I said no one she was surprised. I told her if I am afraid to stay alone in my own house then I am living in the wrong place. It has been great, albeit lonely.

The last issue was that I do not have a computer. Mine is still being fixed and Maurice took his. Then yesterday the local guy who fixes computers, and discovered mine was fired, gave me his wifes. I asked if he had one for me to rent. He, and she both, gave me her personal computer. No charge. I think they were almost insulted I offered to pay. Have I told you the people here are INCREDIBLE!!??...unless they are in my fairy tales..then they are evil. Lucky there is only one evil-fairy-tale person in our world here.

So for now I say good night. I will write more tomorrow and fill you in on what is happening on Arriba de la Roca...our dream come true!

Monday, September 27, 2010


Sundays in Mexico are pretty much like they are in the US or Canada; that is of course if you are in the Sand Bar. Helen, the owner, has three TV’s, all playing different NFL games. The regulars are there on Sundays, as well as “tourists”...groups of “20 something” guys who must notice the “NFL GAMES” sign that is out on the road. In they come looking for a burger, a beer and a little camaraderie. Normally you would not find me in the Sand Bar on a Sunday. I mean without ALL YOU CAN EAT PIZZA what is the point. I do not really need camaraderie, and Maurice and I are pretty darned happy in our world on Sunday. It is quiet, there are no workers and it is a good day for us to be together.

Today was different. I arrived at the Sand Bar just after 10:30am and stayed there until after 6. My word!! Almost 8 hours in a bar on a Sunday. A busy bar! A bar where a few orders of chicken wings, some grilled chicken breast sandwiches, and about 20 cheeseburgers where prepped, grilled, served on toasted buns with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, ketchup and mustard, all my ME! Not only was all the food cooked and served by me, so were all the drinks and beer consumed during these 8 hours.

Gabe, the normal bartender there is out of town for a week or so and I offered to help Helen since she is not a bartender. It was fun! Something different to do with our Sunday. (Maurice was not there as he stayed in the bodega getting ready to head to Canada on Wednesday. He is going there for his niece’s wedding and to visit everyone back home.) So I made drinks, washed glasses, cooked, waited tables, chatted with a bar full of NFL fans and got 320 pesos in tips! 320 pesos!! This is about $25. Funny how exciting it was to count my tips at the end of the day...Then I went to the gas station and spent most of it on gas for our generator.

Let’s see. One gas can will run the generator for about 6 hours. This will charge our batteries for two days as Maurice charges them for about 3 hours each day. So if I was really working here to survive in this world I would have to work, for tips, for 4 hours each day just so we could have electricity. Oh Oh...I have to stop writing this blog. It is 3 am and I need to unplug the computer and turn off the lights....there are no more tips in my future!!

Friday, September 24, 2010


Wednesday night...not a peep. Not a baaaahhhh, not a scream, a whine, a chirp, a cry..nothing. Totally quiet.

Where did they all go??

Back in the earth already?

This is the strangest thing....100's one night....ZERO ZIP NADA the next....



Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Georgette has passed up by. In her wake she left lots of water, tons of mud, some broken palm branches, a very rough road to drive on and frogs.

Frogs?? How can tropical storm LEAVE frogs?? That was MY question.

Monday night we heard them. The sound was such that I had no idea what I was hearing. Sometimes the noise sounded like a sheep “baaaaaaing”. Sometimes I thought it was the wind whistling through the trees. Sometimes it just sounded like a scratchy whine. I heard it throughout the night, along with the rain, but did not wake Maurice. In the morning he asked if I heard the frogs. I exclaimed, “FROGS!” How could there be frogs here. He said he did not know but last year, when he experienced tropical storms there were huge frogs leaping around. Hmmm....

Last night as soon as the dark day turned into a darker dusk they began again. This time there were 100’s of them. The noise was deafening. The sound seemed to come from everywhere. I still would not have thought of frogs, but Maurice was of course correct. They scream, they whine, the sound is a mix between high winds blowing through a pipe and sheep “baaaaaing.” They kept us awake most of the night. I kept saying to Maurice, “WHERE DO THEY COME FROM??” I mean Georgette did not “rain” them here. We live in the desert. Now the pools of water are filled with huge frogs signing to each other like they are in a crazy amount of heat!

Today we searched on line and found that yes, they are frogs. There are three, although probably many more, types of desert frogs. They vary in the manner in which they retain moisture in their bodies, but they all have one thing in common. They bury themselves in the earth and come out when it rains. If you have ever been in the desert you know the earth hardens and then cracks like concrete. Try to dig a hole in this soil and it is very difficult as the earth is too solid. How do frogs bury themselves in this stuff and then come out when it rains??!! It may rain here a couple times a year...or it may rain here once very couple of years, yet we have frogs. Loud, barking, baaaing, whining frogs.

Since we still have lots of water on the ground I am assuming tonight there will be even more of them joining in song. Thank heavens tonight is pizza night. A few margaritas and maybe I will be able to sleep for a couple of hours!

Ribit!....by the way...frogs do not really say “ribit”...at least these crazy-cement-boring-creatures don’t!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Talk about never knowing what a day will bring!!!!....

For the past 24 hours we have been experiencing different levels of Tropical Storm Georgette. This came as a surprise since we have no TV so we got no warning.

FUN!!...my first Tropical Storm!! I am guessing our house “Arriba” is not as happy as I am. We have no windows or doors there yet and the floors are 99% in…the painting is 99% complete and now the whole thing is being battered by winds and rain. Looking out across our land down here I see various sized lakes all over the place. A few months ago we had a large portion of the land in front of our bodega graded and filled with absorbent soil in preparation for storms like this. I am here to tell you clearly we did not do enough grading or bring in enough absorbent soil! Our land and the surrounding areas are swimming in water oozing with mud.

I even got to drive in a tropical storm as earlier today I had to drive to Todos Santos to cover some checks we wrote over the weekend. I needed to exchange USD for pesos. Our money flows from Canadian dollars to USD into pesos….we are often on the loosing end of the exchange rates, but that is a story for another blog. Anyway, for this reason we play the “exchange” game and try to move money when it is the most beneficial for us.

There is construction from here to Todos Santos. Todos Santos is about 20 km or 12 miles from us. They are making a 4 lane highway all the way from Todos Santos to Cabo and we sit on this path. About 80% of this road is now torn up…most of it still unpaved. The ride there, with the rains and the mess took over ½ hour. I am coming back and the rain had taken a short repreive. It is humid so I roll down both my windows. I am driving along in a line of about 10 cars. Everyone is going so slowly. The road is rutted, muddy and dangerous. All of a sudden some guy who must have been VERY important decided to pass all of us. He races be splaying mud and water the whole way. When I realize what is happening the whole side of the truck had already been totally covered in mud. The mud was thrown against the truck, through the truck and out the passenger side window. Everything in between was covered in mud. The steering wheel, the car seats, the dash board, my head, hair, face, my neck, my shirt, my purse, phone..even my bra got mud on it! It was crazy! Maurice could not quite figure out what had happened to me when I got home and climbed down out of the truck!

Now we are inside watching and listening to the storm. It comes in waves. You can hear it beating on our metal roof. There are gusts of wind we feel through the open windows as the storm moves from south to north. Our windows are on the east and west so we can have them open. We are safe in our concrete block building. Retro is on the porch in his cage, climbing deeper into the corners of his cage, but seemingly fine, or we think he would be at the door wanting to come in.

For my first tropical storm, Maurice has lived through them before when he was here alone, I have to say I am enjoying the freshness in the air, the change from hot sun and dry desert. You can almost see things starting to bloom. Tomorrow there will be buds beginning to grow on the cactus. Everything will start to come back to life...a life that only rains like this can provide. All things dormant will begin to stretch, yawn, and wake themselves up; welcoming the change. After a while the sun will start to burn them back into dormancy where they will wait...just like I will...for our next storm.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

You never really know what the day will bring...

We love Sundays and Mondays. The majority of the workers are not here. It is quiet. It is a good time for us to relax or run errands.

Sunday morning I excitedly ask Maurice what “we are doing today?” He pauses, and says...we’ll see. He says that we can never really know what the day will bring. Ya Ya..blah blah..I wanna know!

He is just hanging around so I take Retro up the beach by myself. Then I get back, shower and we are sitting listening to the remnants of a party that began last night. It started early evening...let up around 4:30 am and started again at 7:30am this morning. Music. People. Noise. More music..Folk music. Local musicians playing their hearts out. Come to find out it was the Quinceañera of a local girl. This is the Mexican celebration of your daughter turning 15. It is huge here...much like a Bar Mitzvah, or Bat Mitzvah would be. So we sit listening to the voices and the music that seems to be right in our living room, but in actuality is about ¼ mile away.

So here we are. We are chatting about my fairy tale story and its antagonist. I am hot from my walk with Retro and I am sitting rather unclothed in our bodega. In pulls a Jeep. This is so common, as I have said before. We have many visitors weekly, many we do not know. So this red Jeep pulls in and I say, “Maurice, who is THIS!” He peers out the door and hesitantly says, with a questions mark attached, "The Sheldon’s??!"

THE SHELDONS??!! Keith and Sharon?? Our friends who we caravanned with up to the border with a month ago? Our friends who are in Vegas until the end of October?? Our friends whose plants I am watering and we just spoke to 2 days ago?? YES!! Here they are in our driveway. They decided, spur of the moment, and some 1350 miles later, to come back!! OMG! How exciting for us! Here they are. We go have breakfast, get caught up, swim in their pool, hang around...

Maurice says, See...you never really know what the day will bring! This day brought to us our long lost friends!!

Note to self....

Week of September 19th...Highlight is not pizza night at the Sand Bar. It is the surprise arrival of our dear friends, The Sheldon’s! YEEHAA

Friday night

Back in July I had a posting called “The Milestone”. It mentioned our temporary web site and a couple of other stories. One of the things I talked about was eating goat at a man named Javelin’s house. If you look at the pictures there you will see one of a man with blue eyes. He is the only Mexican I have ever seen with blue eyes. I am sure there are more; it is just that I have not seen them.

His name is Raphael. Last Friday he and his wife, Julietta, (pronounced WHO LEE ET A) came here for a visit. They brought some friends fishing and waited at our place for them to be finished so they could take them back. They sat with us for a couple of hours. It was nice...BUT...I speak so little Spanish I missed lots. At least I was competent at being the server of the coca cola and the cerveza for Raphael and Maurice. When they left they told us they were coming back the next Friday, last night, with homemade tortillas. Of course she did not know that I had attended tortilla school and was a WHIZ at making tortillas!! We said, YES PLEASE!

Yesterday comes. I clean the bodega. Bring out the chairs. Go buy beer, as Raphael likes beer. About 3pm Efram comes. He is the son of Javelin, the man whose place we were at when we ate goat. They have a blanket factory 5 minutes north of here. Efram stops by on occasion. He is WONDERFUL! Seriously!! When Lynda and Scott were here a couple of weeks ago he sold them blankets, a purse, a tablecloth and hammock chair for next to nothing, because she was my sister. We love this guy. Yesterday he stops and visits then proceeds to go fishing. We told him Raphael and Julietta were coming later on. He was surprised!! He was anxious to come back after fishing and see them. He knows they are great people, he told us.

It is 5 o'clock. Here we all three sit. The bodega is clean. The chairs are lined up. We have cold beer. No one is coming. 5 o’clock comes and goes. 6 o’clock comes and goes. 7 o’clock comes and ALMOST goes when in they pull. The have a large, very nice white pick-up. In the back, standing straight up, is their 9 year old daughter, named Julietta, after her mother, so I call her Julietta Dos. I start pointing to my wrist and shaking my head cause they are so late. The funny thing is though, I KNEW they would come. Even after the time passed and we talked about whether they forgot or not...I just KNEW deep inside they would come.

Come to find out Raphael is SO SICK. He is on anti-biotics. He has been sick since Monday. He is coughing and wheezing and is miserable...but they came. They had to come. They told us they would bring tortillas. Not only did they bring tortillas, they brought home made cheese from a ranch where they have friends. They had to drive there to get the cheese which is why they are so late. They invited us to go there with them one day soon. So we all eat tortillas wrapped around freshly made cheese. Maurice was in heaven!! We drink coca cola (ours had rum in it) and we chat. Julietta Dos remembers meeting us at the goat eating party but she does not speak one word of English. She stares at me. (Blonde hair here is a rarity) She is ADORABLE!!! She asks to ride in our Kawasaki Mule. I take her but it is getting dark. I ask her if she wants to drive. Of course I can not say, “Do you want to drive” so we work it out in my limited Spanglish. She is calm, collected, totally fearless, but respectful of the machine. I find out it is the first time she EVER drove anything. Her parents were surprised when she drove us back in the deep dark dusk of the night. She was proud!

Just before they left it was 8:50pm and very dark. She wanted to go one more time. We invited them back next Friday to eat pasta with us and we told her she can drive again then. They asked if they can also bring their two 20-something sons...for pasta, not to drive the mule! Julietta Dos was smiling, a shy, absolute stunning smile. I will take pictures next week and post them. Come to find out her birthday is the day after mine; she will be 10 on December 6th.

Yes, in my fairy tale not all is good. We have run into a character or two that needs dealing with, and we will. But seriously, the people here are genuine. They are honest. They are happy and we have a great life living amongst them. We are totally blessed!

As a post script...every Saturday there is a guy that comes by here. He travels all around the area selling fresh fish out of the back of his pick-up truck. He has coolers filled with various types of fish and shrimp, scallops etc. Today we bought a large piece of sushi-grade ahi-tuna that I will sear tonight for dinner, along with two large fillets of red snapper that we will eat tomorrow. It cost us 100 pesos...about 8 dollars.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Once upon a time….

Once upon a time there was a very honest couple. They had a vision which many thought was rather crazy. They wanted to move to a foreign land and build their dream on the ocean. There were problems and questions and they had many barriers to cross before they could really commit.

Once of the biggest problems this honest couple had was to find a competent team of people to do the job. This, in and of itself was not such a problem as there were many who wanted the work. The problem was who could this honest couple afford? You see, as in many fairy tales they had a big dream...with a not-so-big bank account.

Then one day they found the perfect person. A seemingly kind and honest man who told them he could do the job at a price they were happy with. Since this honest couple’s dream was taking place south of the border they were dealing in pesos, not dollars. Everything was written out...Everything was good. This kind man also agreed to build them a road, which was another one of their problems; carving a road through granite and limestone. Never fear, he said, he is a very knowledgeable man and he can take care of the road for them. This honest couple surely trusted this seemingly honest man. They gave him postdated checks for the building and completion of the road. These checks were dated back in 2008.

Then a funny thing happened. All the checks got cashed, but the road was not completed!! The honest couple was upset. They trusted this once-seemingly-honest man and he took all their money. He told a fairy tale of his own saying that the man he hired to do the work stole it from him so he too, was upset, but he would finish the job.

To complicate things this man, once assumed to be honest and kind, was also going to be the general contractor on the main project. The honest couple knew they could work things out financially since they still had to pay him his agreed upon fee, called “honorario”, for doing this job. They thought if there were any problems finishing the road they could use this fee as leverage.

As in some fairy tales, not everything is as it seems. This once-seemingly-honest man was not what he appeared. When the honest couple used this leverage of withholding some of his fee so the road would be done it was not taken to very kindly by the man. He asked the honest couple, "Don't you trust me??" They had arguments and all was not “pretty”.

Finally in June of 2010 they all came to an agreement. The man came up with a written time frame to finish the road. The honest couple agreed to pay for everything needed to do this job. They agreed that after everything was completed the couple would subtract these paid monies from his “honorario”. The man wrote up a piece of paper and had the couple sign it. This paper said they agreed to pay him his remaining honorario in full, and showed the previous payments he had received. Of course these previous payments were in pesos. The paper was signed. This was one of about 50 pieces of paper supplied to the couple. He gave them receipts and paper for everything. All of the monies in every one of these receipts were in pesos...after all, in their fairytale they live south of the border.

In their fairy tale world all was O.K.

Being diligent people with a not-so-large bank account the honest couple kept track of every peso spent. Well, to be truthful, the honest male in the couple kept track of everything...he is very good at this. One day when going through payments he excitedly exclaimed to his wife that they had paid, and actually overpaid the “honorario” with all of the payments for material and labor to finish the road. The honest couple decided that even though they had overpaid that this was fine. They were happy and would certainly NOT ask the previous-seemingly-honest man for money back. They were happy as they had no more financial obligation to him!

Today the wife of the honest couple was at their friend’s house watering some plants. The husband comes there and asks her how much she thinks the original agreement with the man was for. She answers him...of course in pesos. He proceeds to tell her that NOW this man is saying the agreement was in US dollars. This means that we...oops...this honest couple would now owe him another 30%, since this is the rate of exchange. How could that be??

Come to find out, when he drew up the paper back in June, he put his honorario in USD. The ONLY piece of paper every received from him is USD. He put the money that was paid to him already in pesos, and the money still owed in USD. Since both pesos and USD are written using $ signs it was not noticed. Keep in mind that the original agreement and every single quote or bill or receipt before and since has been in pesos.

When you live south of the border there are a few issues you have to be aware of. One, is you can not tell someone you do not think they are honest. You have to play the game and use rational thinking and conversation. Secondly, everything is in a foreign language. To rationalize in your native tongue is hard enough, to do it in a foreign language is close to impossible.

Right now while this fairy tale is being excitedly typed away, the honest man is outside trying to rationalize with the once-seemingly-honest man. The woman is sitting inside since she could not be kind and rational. She hears soft voices and rational conversation. If she was out there this would not be happening.

One thing I can guarantee you is that this fairy tale story will not end well. The honest couple will end up being screwed by this once-seemingly-honest man. Why? Because he thinks he is entitled. He thinks that the honest couple has more money then he originally thought and that they have build a “better” place then he thought they were going to and he wants a piece of it. Even though he only popped in once a week to see what was happening and did no physical work at all, he feels entitled. At least this is what the honest woman thinks.

Move forward 30 minutes....

The honest man comes inside and the mean, evil, lying SOB is gone. (Oops did I say that out loud??) The honest man says that the evil one thinks that since the couple signed the USD note that is what they have to pay. When he was asked why every other dollar amount was written in pesos he BS’ed something that made no sense.

Anyway the evil one said he would make a compromise in one of two ways. Either split the 30% difference, OR even crazier is he will calculate in his mind how much he thinks the honest couple spent in construction and they will pay him 10% of that amount as his fee!

To stall the inevitable argument the truly honest man says he will go through his papers and they can talk about it more next week. They think that if ANYONE was deserving of more money it is the hard working crew that is actually building their dream!..in 100 degree heat!!..as the once-seemingly-honest man rides up the cliff in his air conditioned vehicle to visit once a week!

Lucky she stayed in the house...hopefully with the honest man dealing with the issue they can all live happily ever after.

"The events depicted in this fairy tale are fictitious. Any similarity to any person living or dead is merely coincidental."

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


It is another night that sleep is running from me. I have been in bed for 2 hours, flipping like a minnow in this heat, so now I find myself on Maurice's computer (mine is still non-functioning) sharing my woes with you. It is hot!! Took a Tylenol PM an hour ago...so now I am yawning, but still not sleepy. Maurice happily snores away, 20 feet from me, as he is in the bedroom, and I am in our living room. If I threw a pillow it would land in the kitchen sink and if I tossed it a little further it would be swimming in the toilet. Such is our life in our little bodega.

We are getting closer, though, to "moving up". We will both really miss it down here. This is only the 7th month that we have lived here but it feels like home and we love it. We may just rent out the whole place up there and stay here and live happily ever after....I think Retro would be happy with that. He has all his favorite spots down here and we wonder what he will do "Arriba". We may just find him back on our porch, searching for his dog house.

We are looking at the week of October 11th to start our move up. We have to wait until the doors and windows are in, and we are hoping they will start to put them in that week. We need the kitchen installed too, and of course all the other services. If we can be in and settled in two weeks I will be thrilled. My sister Barbara is coming to help. Thank heavens! She is organized and thorough and disciplined. She can grab the margarita out of my hand and pull me from the pool when the boxes need unpacking! We still have lots to uncover in those boxes. How much more damage we will find I am not sure. Hopefully we got most of it already as we got our insurance check a couple of weeks ago. They were great about everything and so we ended up viewing the horrible "move" in a more positive light.

Speaking of lights, Maurice is moving around now. I think the light is bothering him so I will say good night for now.

Thanks for keeping me company...sure hope this pill kicks in! Tomorrow is pizza night and I need my beauty rest!!!

P.S. I had to get reading glasses to write this post! I know the light is dim now, but PLEASE! WHAT’S UP WITH THAT!! Reading glasses for the computer!!! Sleeping pills and reading glasses...oh oh...here comes a hot flash!! Maybe it is not really even hot here...maybe it is just me....

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Ahhh … the progress

The terracing is done. They finished it today.

Yes, some of it is way to “rosa” (pink) but everything looks so neat and tidy it is O.K. We will paint some of the facing of the steps the same “grey” that our house is being painted and it should be fine. The fire pit especially, needs grey on the front of the steps, other than that it is beautiful. The surf pounding below you, while you sit in front of the fire, will be spectacular!

We are happy with the color we ended up with for the buildingsexcept we keep changing how many walls will be accent walls. I think we will end of with very few. The windows will all be painted in this beige-y accent color and we chose a color with a little more “rosa” than we would have a couple of weeks ago, but it really blends in well in the overall look.

The fireplace in the main room is gorgeous. It is all multicolored slate, although they still need to finish the opening.The bar stone looks wonderful and they cut pieces of slate to put inside the alcove in the bar, kind of tying it all together.

The shower in “Boca” is very Moroccan looking.Maurice designed it himself and it is quite spectacular. The tile work really finishes it off. This room is done.The floors are in, the walls are painted really highlighting our brick accents...well I guess not done. We still need a sink and cabinet by the shower, closets, toilet and sink in the bathroom, doors, windows….oh well…it still looks good!

Today they measured, for the second time, all the openings for the windows. This is our biggest expense, of course other than the construction. So much of what we are doing will be glass so it is important to make sure we are happy with everything. We have had so many companies wanting this part of the job but no one can do what Maurice wants, until this company.

There is a house not far from us. We heard it sold for over 2 million dollars. It looks great! Very modern; an architectural dream. When we had a chance to get a close look at it we noticed they had the cheapest appearing windows!! We were shocked. Flimsy metal frames, they certainly did nothing to enhance the appearance of the house!!!...that was our lesson...thus, the difficult decision!

Our wooden doors and closets are being made. They will be done in about a month, as will the glass doors. Hopefully the weather will hold out. Even though we really, really need rain, it would be a shame to soak all the fresh paint, flooring etc. before we have a chance to put in the doors and windows.

They started laying the travertine floor in our main room. The pool people are here putting the “inside” finish to the pool, having completed all the “trim” last week. AND...drum roll...they are finishing our road. 18 months after it should have been finished they are working on the road! Not sure how long the process is but it looks great! SO many machines and workers around just to do the first section! Much of the rest will have to be cleared and worked on by hand.

It never ceases to amaze me. Our workers are the best! Even with half the crew left for the finishing work, and knowing that their job will end soon, they are diligent, happy and proud of everything they do. How many people do you know that can say the same thing?

If you have not seen our FB page please check us out. It is Arriba de la Roca....there is also a link on our temporary web site. www.arribadelaroca.com On our FB page I will be posting more photos...if you are interested. :)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Retro’s Fabulous Adventure

This is what Retro knows. He knows me and Maurice. He knows he does not like water and stays away from the surf. He loves sand crabs and chases them and playfully flips them into the air when he catches one. Well, at least HE thinks it is playful. I am sure the sand crab disagrees.

Some things alarm him. He barks when the electricians drive up in the morning. He never barks at any of the other workers; only the electricians. We thought it was something in their truck that made him bark until one day they came in a different vehicle and Retro still barked like crazy. Hmmmm.. Retro knows the beach and on occasion will see another person there. When that happens he stops...stares...and stays away. He has ridden in the truck to go to the vet but he usually is just at home. Sometimes he is in his cage, but usually he is roaming free since he never ventures far.

One day, before sunrise, without his breakfast or walk, we load him into the back seat of the pick up truck. To say he did not want to get inside is an understatement. We had to carry the 50+ pound guy and put him in. He shook for a while, even though his favorite toys were in the back. For 8 hours we drove in the car. We stopped to try to get him to drink water, or go to the bathroom. Nothing. NOW all he wanted to do was be back inside the truck for fear of being left behind…and also so we would remove the leash, which is NEVER has on. For three days there and back, he rode in the truck like this.

I will not bore you with all my cute little “parent” type stories, but these are the things that Retro experienced on this trip that he never knew existed.

At our hotel there was air conditioning. That was nice, but he would not go into the stairwells or elevators. That sure was fun to work with since we were on the 2nd floor!

He did not like the people everywhere.

Grass. He was scared to death of grass and when it was wet with “morning dew” you could not drag him anywhere near it. We had to find dirt or he would not go to the bathroom.

Traffic. Cars frightened him. The highways in San Diego almost gave him a heart attack.

On “Dogs Beach” in San Diego his head was almost spinning off his shoulders. He does not like other dogs, let alone a beach full of them. To us he was funny, but he was really scared so we are bad parents.

Our hotel was by the airport. The planes flying overhead were new to him. Church bells, sirens, horns beeping, bicyclists, motor cycles, babies crying, the commuter train...all freaked him out.

The funniest was when we turned on the TV in room. He stared at the screen and hid behind me. He would peak his head out and growl and then go back behind me and hide. We laughed so hard. He was not smiling. It was a good reminder to us as to why we do not have TV!!

O.K. Maurice just reminded me of the MOST funniest. We were in a large store looking for our Kawasaki Mule. There was a sign the read “Dog Friendly. Feel free to bring them inside the cool showroom.” Great idea! I go get Retro out of the truck and walk him towards the showroom. As the large, motion triggered doors flew open Retro instantly froze!! He then panicked and broke away from me and ran back and jumped into the truck. There was not a chance on earth of getting him into the air conditioned store. He actually stiffened up and could not be lifted or carried. He was not going anywhere near that place.

All things we take for granted or never think about were new to him. It also reminded me and Maurice how simple our life is. We are all back here now, easily slipping back into our life without traffic, airplanes and television. The only thing I wish for is a little bit of that air conditioning...oh, yes..!..that was nice...

Friday, August 27, 2010


My word it has been a crazy couple of weeks!!! I can hardly remember the last posting I did but I know it seems to me like we have lived a couple of life times since then. No one will probably even read this entry because you all gave up on me!! Just in case you are still with me, here is a quick synopsis of the last two weeks.

Maurice, Retro and I drove to San Diego. This 1000 mile or 1600 kilometer trip started out with Keith, Sharon and their dog Dusty. We caravanned first to Mulege, which is about 8 hours away. We chose this spot as our first stop so we could partake in the Hotel Serinidad’s famous Saturday night pig roast; a 43 year old tradition. But after three e-mails, confirming that they were in fact having the pig roast in hot hot hot August, when it is easily 100 degrees on the east side of the Baja, they did not have a real pig roast. As we sat in their swimming pool, sipping margaritas in water so hot it was like a large bathtub, we took it all in stride. They still served us pork; we were just not sure where it came from. It certainly was not from a “pig roast”. I sure had a great suggestion in that idea!!!

We took three days to drive to Tijuana, where we waited at the border for a crazy amount of time and learned lesson number 57 of the trip…never cross into the US on a Monday morning from Tijuana. There we went our separate ways as The Sheldon’s headed to their Vegas home, and us to do our shopping in San Diego.

Our goal was to get bedding and linens for the casitas, finalize our solar and order what we needed, and buy a UTV...a utility vehicle so we can bring our guests up to Arriba de la Roca on our beautiful stone cart path. I also had a list of things I wanted to pick up while I was back in “civilization”.

5 days in San Diego resulted in a truck load of linens, all the fabric for our cushions that will be put on our outdoor benches, (thank you Laurie!!) lots of fun stuff from Walgreens and Target, an order for Maurice’s solar system, a trailer - to replace the one stolen from Maurice in our shipment of goods here, and a Kawasaki Mule with only 200 hours on it. We were thrilled! We did great!! The best part though, was that we got to spend most evenings with my dear friend Laurie, (who I first met when I lived in San Diego back in the mid-70’s) and her husband Claus. They were so helpful to us! Claus is a contractor and took Maurice around to all the best places for “man stuff”. (Claus owns CWLonning Construction and in almost every picture of Maurice since he has moved to Mexcio he has one of Claus’ company shirts on!) Our friends advised and helped us with everything we needed to do. They even gave us a care basket for our hotel room! Every time I get to see Laurie I am reminded why we have remained friends for over 35 years. Every time I leave her there is a large hole in my heart.

Since we came back pulling the trailer, with our Mule, and a truck filled with the things we bought, we planned to do the trip back in two days, with only one sleep over. To drive 12 hours in the Baja is a lot. The road is narrow and it weaves back and forth across the Sierra de la Laguna mountains in such a way that you really need to pay close attention at all times. We knew if we switched drivers often enough we could do it. Day one we drove 12 hours and stayed in Guerro Negro at a place we had stayed when we did this drive 5 years ago. We were tired, but this plan was working well for us. Late morning of day two we stopped at a restaurant we had been at 5 years before. It is on the Sea of Cortez, in a cove, and we thought we could get a bite to eat and let Retro run without a leash. This was something he had not been able to do, as he was relegated to the back seat of the truck. We had some shrimp tacos, ran the dog around and as we were leaving I was getting water and ice for him since it was so hot I wanted to keep his water cool. Even though the heat was stifling but we did not use the air conditioning because we were pulling so much weight through the mountains. We pulled out of the place at 11:38 am. I was driving. When we got to Loretto, about an hour and a half later, we knew we needed gas. Loretto is a pretty big town yet they only had one gas station on the highway. When we realized that we had passed the only station we decided not to turn and go back. We calculate we could made it to Insurgentise, which was another hour or so away.

No, this is not what you think. We did not run out of gas. What did happen though was about 30 kilometers from CIUDAD INSURGENTES I thought to myself, “I hope we have enough pesos for gas or we will have to find a bank.” To use a credit card is a huge disadvantage with the exchange rates etc. Also many stations do not take them. So since I carry the money I go to grab my purse to check, but I can not find it. I ask Maurice if he saw my purse. No. He did not see my purse. Where is it?? We stopped, we search...then logic hits me. It has to be back at the restaurant we left at 11:38am. I had been so focused on the dog and his water I forgot it! It is now 2:15 and we are almost out of gas. We can’t turn around to go back for it before we continue to drive to CIUDAD INSURGENTES, fill up and then had back. UN-FRICKIN-BELEIVABLE!!!! Could I be stupider!!!???? I am sure my husband did not think so...but he was kind and did not say this. The place we stopped certainly did not have a phone to check, nor did it even have a name that we could recall.

To make matters worse, we get to the gas station with no pesos. Maurice fills up and tries to pay with a credit card. Card #1 has expired. Card #2 has an electronic code you have to enter to use it and Maurice can not remember it. Card #3 has not been activated so it can not be used and lastly his American Express expired in July. Thank heavens he found a $100 US bill that they gladly took at the worst rate of exchange ever!

So with a full gas tank we drive back to get my purse, which, by the way, Maurice does not think for a minute is there. He thinks that if I really did leave it there someone took it...although he does not believe I left it there. He thinks I set it on the truck and it flew off.

We arrive back at 6:10pm! 6 hours and 20 minutes after we left! The woman is thrilled to see us as she was so worried about how to find us and get me back my purse. Everything was in place and all this stupidly cost us was 6 hours and 20 minutes, about $50 in gas and it forced us to rent a hotel room since you can not drive when it is dark on these roads, unless you have a death wish. We don’t. Our only option for sleeping was back in Loretto so we trekked back to Loretto, left the main road and drove into the town, (saw many gas stations along the way) found a great hotel, probably 50 years old, had a wonderful meal and discovered a memorable place. My grandfather used to come down from California and fish in Loretto 50 years ago...maybe he stayed at this same hotel....who knows. It turned out well. We were happy, although I now know for the rest of my life I will hear, “Where is your purse?” That’s O.K. he earned that right!!

Now we are back. Back to pink terracing, that should have been beige, back to our lovely pathway that is too small for the Kawasaki Mule we bought, and back to Hurricane season. One is working its way to us…Frank is its name. It is hot and windy but it is now predicted that Frank will probably miss us.

My sister Lynda and her husband Scott are here now for 5 days. They have been touring around and it is fun to have them here. Tomorrow they are going on an ATV tour but I will stay here and water the palms since it looks like Frank is skirting around us so we will not get rain. They leave on Saturday and Maurice and I still have to buy more flooring and tiles so we will head to Cabo. We are trying color number 3 for the outside of our house as we just can’t get it right. This time we will not have them paint three sides of a building before we decide we do not like it!! We might as well just put pesos directly in the fire instead!

See how many lifetimes we had lived in the past two weeks…and I am only touching the surface. If this posting had been done properly you would have so many more details and stories. Why haven’t I posted?? My “mother board” crashed on my 11 month new computer. Lynda will take it back to the US for me so Gateway can replace it under warranty. As of now I am using Maurice’s computer. It is after midnight…he is snoring. I am sweating to death so I thought I would sneak on his computer so tomorrow I can post an update.

Why haven’t I mentioned Retro through all these travel stories?? He deserves a posting all his own…that will be coming the next night I sneak out of bed.

Stay tuned for Retro’s Fabulous Adventure.