The Misadventures of Ghost Dog and The Buddha

Road Trip to Galveston Day 1 & 2

Gassing up

Thursday October 1

I drove to Owensboro (117 miles) and arrived at Buddha’s in the early afternoon. We watched TV until about 5:30 pm when his daughter arrived to fetch a key. After she left, we went out to get a bite to eat at Owensboro’s one and only Sushi place. I knew it was going to be a problem when I noticed the chefs behind the sushi bar were Mexican. I had the Hibachi Chicken. It was terrible.

We went back to Buddha’s place for drinks and more TV. Lucked into a Harold Pinter play on YouTube I’ve been wanting to see: “The Birthday Party”, starring Harold Pinter himself and Joan Plowright, in a BBC production. It was pretty good, but you have to be into Pinter to enjoy it. Buddha wasn’t so he went to bed to read while I watched the rest of the play.

Friday October 2

Cracker Barrel – The Breakfast of Champions

Owensboro. Woke to the news that Donald Trump and Melania Trump both have contracted the corona virus. Is that karma or what?

Got packed and loaded the car. Had to make a pit stop in Evansville so Buddha could see his psychiatrist and check up on his meds. Apparently, I am traveling with a madman. That’s OK. We’re all as mad as hatters here. All the best people are.

We finally got on the road and headed west. I figured to push as far into Arkansas as I possibly could before stopping for the night. We made it to Hope.

We checked in to the Best Western Motel. The maskless clerk kept asking us if we wanted one bed or two.

“Two beds, dammit!” Buddha muttered shaking his shaggy head.

“Do we get a discount?” I asked. “AAA? AARP?”

“Yeah, I’ll give you a discount alright,” the clerk snapped.

“Well, what’s the rate?”

“$75.00 including tax. Do you want one bed or two?”

“Two beds, dammit!”

“OK! Can I see your credit card?”

“Any restaurants in the area?”

“You can Google them and they will deliver.”

“OK. What room?”

“105. Right around the corner.”

Buddha was already heading out the door on his way to the room on foot. I drove around. We unlocked the door and unloaded the car, then took a moment to get settled. Buddha went to get ice.

I Googled the restaurants in the area and found a Pizza Hut and a Dominos. I called both but got put on hold at both places. Well, what could you expect in a little town called Hope, deep in the Arkansas interior? Bill Clinton territory as it were. The town sucked just like Monica Lewinski. Finally, Dominos answered.

“I’ll have a medium Supreme delivered to room 105 at the Best Western Motel, please. When will you deliver it? One hour? Wow! Well go ahead. We will just have to wait.”

While waiting for the pizza to arrive we made the drinks. We had picked up some liquor a few exits back. We got separate liquors because Buddha always buys cheap booze and I can’t stand the whiskey he usually gets, so I get something a little better. Turns out he got Ezra Brooks and I got Jack Daniels.

“Well, hell, if I’d a known you were getting Ezra Brooks, I would have drunk your booze. Ezra Brooks aint bad!”

“No, you wouldn’t! You’re not drinking my booze! You just drink your Jack Daniels!”

“What the hell Buddha? You don’t think I would have replaced your whiskey? You mean to tell me you wouldn’t have shared?”

“I don’t want to have this conversation right now!”

“Why not?”

“Just don’t.”

“OK.”

We drove the rest of the way in silence.

Meanwhile, back in the motel room, we decided to watch a little TV while waiting for the pizza. It was 9pm EST and 8pm Central. Buddha grabbed the remote and engaged the “on” button. TV said, “No Signal.”

“Call the front desk and tell them the TV doesn’t work,” I said.

Buddha grabbed the phone, listened intently, punched the dial hooks repeatedly, looked up wild eyed.

“No dial-tone! Motherfucker don’t work!”

“Call him on your cell phone.”

Buddha stared at the black desk set and started stabbing the numbers into his cell phone.

“Hello? Yeah, this is Buddha in room 105. The phone don’t work…. I’m calling you on my cell phone….OK…OK…Ok. That’s not why I’m calling you. The TV don’t work either…OK….OK…Ok.”

He hung up.

“What’d he say?”

“He said he would come down and try to reboot it himself.”

“Well OK then.”

So, we waited a few minutes, freshened our drinks and munched on some smoked almonds. Pretty soon there was a knock at the front door.

Buddha let in the nigh clerk who again was maskless, but he was at least pretty friendly. He took the remote and began trying to reboot the TV.

About that time, we got another knock at the door. It was Dominos. Buddha answered the door. He paid for the pizza, $20.00 including tip.

The smell of the pizza filled the room.

“Wow, if you are getting pizza, I’m getting hungry.” This from the maskless night clerk.

“You want a slice?” I asked.

“No. No.”

The clerk didn’t have any luck getting the TV to work either.

“Let’s see, the TV don’t work, and the phone don’t work. Don’t you think we should get another discount?” I asked.

“Yeah, I’ll give you another discount. I’ll give it to you right now.”

And with that he left.

Buddha and I just looked at each other and shrugged. Then we devoured the pizza.

A little later on that night the night clerk showed up with our receipt which included our discounts. All in all, an $85.00 room ended up costing us $65.00. Not bad.

We got up early the next morning and hit the road again right after breakfast. It was around Texarkana when the drugs started kicking in.

Next Stop: Galveston

Greetings From Galveston

New Harmony, Indiana

Road Trip

New Harmony, Indiana is a great place for a weekend getaway. It is an easy two-hour drive from my home base of Louisville, Kentucky (135 miles).

Maureen and I set out about eleven am figuring to get there in time for lunch. Only made one wrong turn but, discovered my mistake quickly enough that it didn’t really result in any loss of time. Yes, I have GPS but I usually only consult it as a last resort. I like the challenge of finding places on my own after an initial consultation with the map. I seldom get lost but sometimes I am surprised by my destination. And Maureen was no help as she would be the first to admit she has no sense of direction and seemed to be proud of it.

Sara’s Harmony Way

So, there I was on my own with no navigator. Well, I always say, Id’ rather have a navigator than an alligator. But lucky for me, Maureen was neither of these things. She was a fine traveling companion and lover as well.  I had prepared a mix tape to listen to on our drive and we sang up every song we both knew and were in New Harmony before we knew it.

New Harmony is a small town, a village really, with a population of 850, situated on a stretch of the Wabash River. It was originally settled by a communal German religious group known as the Harmonists in 1814 wo attempted to create a Utopia. This worked for a while and then their leader, George Rapp, took them back to Pennsylvania, where they originated, in 1824. They sold the land to a socialist visionary named Robert Owen who believed in workers’ rights, an eight-hour work day, and communal living. Owen believed in a secular utopian socialism. He rechristened the community New Harmony in 1825. The Owenite community failed in the late 1820s.

The third utopia can be attributed to Jane Blaffer Owen (1915-2010). During her time in New Harmony she brought modern architecture to the town, such as the Roofless Church, the Atheneum and many public art pieces. She created serenity with Tillich Park, Church Park and the Cathedral Labyrinth and has left behind a legacy all her own.

While this is not a true Utopia, New Harmony truly is a unique experience. The village is very aware of its history and has done a good job in retaining its historical character and charm, and maintaining a state of genuine peace and tranquility. It features, public art and architecture, gardens, shopping, fine dining, a wonderful inn, live music, museums, a brewery, coffee shops, nature places, and an abundance of history.

AC Thomas House

So, like I said, we arrived right at noon, with the time change, just in time for lunch. I parked my car in front of the Bread and Breakfast where we were staying (The AC Thomas House) and we walked into to town. The first place we went was jammed packed so we made our way across the street to Sara’s Place. It is a coffee shop on one side and a pub on the other. We got into the long line to place our food order to the overworked barista and finally made our order. I had a panni and Maureen had a grilled cheese sandwich which is her “go to” choice in such situations. We carried our food out of doors to the patio, that’s when I noticed the pub. Say, I said, would you like something to drink? Sure, I’ll have a Hendrick’s gin and tonic, she said.  So, I marched back inside to place our drink orders only to discover they didn’t serve hard liquor, only beer and wine. So, I, ordered a Stella and beat feet out to Maureen to see if she wanted a wine. She declined. We had a pleasant lunch out there on the patio under the warmth of a golden sun.  A few minutes later her friend shows up with his daughter in tow and we make our acquaintances and exchange pleasantries. We are going to meet up with him and his partner later on that evening at the Red Geranium for dinner. Until then we were on our own.

Maureen

We walked around the town a bit and visited a couple of the unique shops along the way. Maureen bought something to wear for later on that night at dinner. We moseyed on back to the AC Thomas house to unload the car and get unpacked. Her friend was going to pick us up on his golf cart a little later and take us back to his house for drinks before dinner.

One of the many cute little shops in New Harmony. Visitors were masked and anonymous

Dan and John own an art gallery in town with many pieces of lovey art. We would visit their store tomorrow. Meanwhile it was drinks at their stately mansion on Main. Then we all piled onto their golf cart for the short ride to the Red Geranium for dinner. 

Time seemed to stand still in New Harmony

The Red Geranium is known for its fine dining and congenial atmosphere. We ate out on the terrace. Food was delicious and the company was solid. We had a lot of laughs as Maureen caught up with her friends. David and John were from Louisville and thy had just moved to New Harmony a few year ago to open their art gallery and to lead a more tranquil life with their daughter. They had started coming to the village as a weekend getaway and fell in love with the place and decided to move there permanently.

Maureen on the steps of the Bed and Breakfast where we stayed

After dinner we walked around the town a bit more. It was surprising how different everything looked after dark. Things took on a more sinister aspect and even the religious art had a pagan look to it. When we got back to the B&B we were exhausted. We quickly disrobed and climbed between the sheets and fell to sleep listening to the strains the mixtape I had prepared which I was able to play on my cell phone. The last thing I remember was Toni Braxton singing Unbreak My Heart before drifting off to La La Land holding Maureen tightly in my arms.

Art gallery owned by Maureen’s friends

Next morning, we were up bright and early as our hostess prepared our breakfast of coffee and quiche. It wasn’t bad but not as good as expected. Today we would explore the village a little more before heading back to Louisville. We walked out to the labyrinth and wandered around there for a while then we came back to town to visit John in the art gallery. Of course, I took copious amounts of pictures which I will now share with you, dear gentle reader.

Dinner at the Red Geranium

What’ll you have?
Maureen in her new outfit
Mysterious Fountain
Baal, Goddess of Darkness

As seen in the daylight….
Guardians of the Galaxy
Wicker Man
Peace, Tranquility, and Balance in New Harmony
Atheneum – Visitor’s Center
Wabash River
Cathedral Labyrinth
The Orpheus Fountain
the Lyre of Orpheus
Go with the Flow
Maureen at the Fountain of Orpheus
Sweet Little Angel
Angel Heart
On the Way to the Labyrinth
Atheneum – Visitor Center
Harmonist Labyrinth
Walking the Labyrinth
At the Center of the Labyrinth
Wait! Don’t go in there!
Beautiful Landscaping
New Harmony Bank Building
Ribeyre School Gymnasium – Main Street
John on his golf cart
Welcome to Indiana
New Harmony

Anna

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On a recent trip to Mexico I had occasion to visit the sleepy little town of Ajijic located in the state of Jalisco. Ajijic is nestled between the Sierra Madre Mountains on one side and Lake Chapala on the other. It is a sad little town that lends itself to cobblestone streets, broken sidewalks, and broken dreams. I was staying at an Airbnb owned by an American ex-pat by the name of Luis. He ran the place with his partner Norma. Norma was a native and spoke only Spanish. I spent three weeks in Ajijic over the Christmas and New Year’s Holidays and got to know Luis and Norma pretty well.

I spent most of my time exploring this colorful little town which was full of shops, bars, and restaurants. One day as I was walking back from the Malecon I stopped in a little bar called La Tia. It had red and white walls on the outside with an American flag hung on one side of the entrance and a Mexican flag hung over the other. Music was pouring out the front entrance from a sound system hidden somewhere in the recess of the tiny bar. It looked rather inviting and I was thirsty, so I stumbled there inside.

There was a gentleman sitting on a bar stool in the middle of the bar. A couple was sitting at a table towards the back. I went in and sat a couple stools down from the guy at the bar.

A cute little Mexican bartender flashed her pearly whites. She had long black hair past her shoulder and was wearing a green plaid shirt with several of the top buttons undone. “What would you like to drink?” She asked in perfect English.

“I’ll have a Corona.”

She got my beer and set it down in front of me and went back to her perch. She was talking to the other guy but he turned to me and included me in the conversation.

“Where are you from,” he asked.

“Kentucky.”

He nodded his head. “I’m from Oregon. Been down here about a week. Waiting for my girlfriend and her daughter to show up. You been here before?”

“No. This is my first time. How about you?”

“Oh, we come down here pretty regular.”

“You must like it.”

“Oh, yeah! We love it! The weather is good, food is great, and the price is right. Most of the locals speak English.”

“Yeah, I heard the natives call it, “Gringo Land.’”

He laughed. He had a bottle of beer sitting in front of him and a shot of tequila. He downed the tequila and chased it with a slug of beer.

We all got acquainted and had a nice conversation. The girl’s name was Anna and I was becoming quite taken with her. I snapped a few surreptitious pictures of her.

“Do you want to play a game, Phil?” she asked.

“Sure. What is it?”

“It’s called 21. You roll the dice. There are three winners. One who calls the shot. One who pays, and one who drinks the shot. Do you want to play?”

“Sure, let’s play.”

So, we each took a turn in rolling six or seven dice out onto the bar from a leather cup. Each time Anna counted the tops of the dice. I won the first roll so I called the shot.

“What shot do you want?” she asked pointing to the bottles of tequila behind the bar.

“What are you drinking?”

She pointed to a bottle.

“OK. That’s the one I want.”

She poured out a shot and set it on the bar in front of us. We rolled some more. First the guy from Oregon, then Anna. At the end of the game the Oregon guy drank and paid for the shot I called. We all laughed and he left. So now I had Anna all to myself.

“So, there this New Year’s Eve Party at Perry’s Pizza I am planning on going to. Do you know it?”

“Si. I have been there before. They have good food.”

“Do you have any plans for New Year’s Eve?”

“No.”

“Would you like to come with me as my guest?”

“Si. I would. That would be nice.”

“Do you like to dance?”

“No, I have two left feet.” She laughed.

Which wasn’t true. We exchanged telephone numbers and became friends on Facebook so we could use messenger to coordinate our rendezvous and sure enough when she showed up at the party and we had a great time and danced all night!

She was a beautiful girl and I went back to bar several more times while I was in Ajijic to see her.

 

 

 

Ajijic Day 14 and 15

Jan 2, 2020 Thursday 10:05 am. Cold and rainy. Rained all night and into the morning. Sound of the rain like gravel on an old tin roof.  Had breakfast with Buddha at Gosha’s. Scrambled eggs, black beans, toast, fruit, and coffee.  Walked home in the rain. Went out later with Buddha to a bar near the Malecon called the Traditional. Had a Corona and listened to some music. Later we walked up to the square and sat on a bench and watched the people walk by. It was a little cold so we walked back home. I finished reading my Raymond Chandler book and watched a movie on my tablet. Went to bed at 11:00 pm and up at 6:00 am, dreams of Anna filling my head.

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January 3, 2020. Meeting Linda Schaefer in Chapala. Linda is a person who I have been Facebook friends with for over 10 years, but whom I’ve never met in person. By sheer coincidence I learned she was traveling to Mexico and staying with friends in Guadalajara. We decided to meet up in Chapala.

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Me and Linda Schaefer

There have been many coincidences surrounding my friendship with Linda. She is friends of friends on Facebook: Firoze Shakir of India, Anthony and Crystal Posey of New Orleans, who are originally from Kentucky. Linda lives in Ada, Oklahoma where I used to live at one time. Oh, the irony abounds.

Linda is a renowned photographer, a published author, and a subject matter expert on Mother Teresa, who she knew personally. I was excited to meet her for the first time in person for sure.

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I took the bus to Chapala and we met at a restaurant on the Malecon.

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Lake Chapala

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Tulasi Zimmer

 

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I had a wonderful afternoon with Linda and her friends. It was a beautiful day, lots of sunshine and warmth. I took a lot of pictures. I stayed until after nightfall, but hurried back to Ajijic because I wanted to say goodbye to Anna at La Tia and I knew she got off work at 8:00. This was the last chance I had to see her before I left town. I made it just in time.

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Ajijic Day 9 &10

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“Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid.”

-Raymond Chandler,  The Fine Art of Murder

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Lunch at the Lake Chapala Lake Society. Had the empandas and a Corona. The Lake Chapala Society is one of the world’ largest expat societies, helping expats from all over the world to integrate into the Mexican Community Lakeside. It is located in the beautiful gardens in the midst if Ajijic. The Lake Chapala Society  offers a variety of cultural, humanitarian and wellness programs. I returned this beautiful spot over and over again during my stay in Ajijic.

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Lotus Flower

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Koi Pond at Lake Chapala Society

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Lush Gardens at the Lake Chapala Society

Dinner at El Torito. New place that just opened up. Had the Steak Tacos and a glass of red wine.  Had a night cap next door at El Bar Co. Jim Beam and soda. Not every place had whiskey, but El Bar Co. did. The next day (Sunday) had breakfast with the Breakfast club a Dona’s.  Open Mic tonight at Perry’s Pizza.

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The Umbrella Academy at Perry’s Pizza

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Open Mic at Perry’s Pizza

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Buddha signed up to do a couple of songs

Buddha signed up to do a couple of songs. We were there til six. Got a ride home from the keyboard player. I was walking  back to my place from the drop off point in the growing twilight. As I was walking I was approached by a cute little Mexican girl who looked to be about 19. She had just left a little neighborhood grocery and was carrying a small bag.  She had multiple  tattoos, and was wearing a crop top top, ragged cutoffs, and lots of chains and bracelets.  She started speaking to me rapidly in Spanish but I didn’t understand her. “No habla Espanol.” I said.

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We stopped in a darkened doorway and she got very close to me and said very slowly, as she pointed her finger first at me then back at herself, “You give me 20 pesos for the food.” I said, ” I don’t have 20 pesos.” She smiled and said OK and continued to walk down the street, her hips swaying as she navigated the cobblestones. I walked back to my place which was about a block away.  I couldn’t help but think of all the possibilities fate had just thrown my way. If she would take 20 pesos for the food, what would she do for 100 pesos? At another time in my life I might have decided to find out. Tonight, however, I let discretion be the better part of valor. But, it was a while before I stopped thinking about her and finally drifted off to sleep.

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Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico Day 8

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Breakfast at Emilia”s

Friday. Breakfast at Emilia’s. Had the Linda Omelette. I just love the way they serve black beans instead of potatoes. I’m reading Hemingway’s Nick Adams stories. I always bring Hemingway with me when I travel. He writes the kind of stories I like to read and the kind of stories I like to write. If you want to learn how to write read Hemingway.

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On the Malecon

Walked with Buddha to the Malecon. He played his guitar. A couple of Mexican boys kept coming up to us on their bicycles to listen to him play. Then they would ride off again making big circles and come back again and stare at Buddha with a hangdog look as if to say, “What are you doin’ here, man?”

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Living room of the Airbnb where I stayed hosted by Luis and Norma

Norma’s husband died today. She works for my host, Luis. It is very sad. Norma is a fine woman and a hard worker. Now her life will change dramatically. It is a sad reminder that tragedy can strike anywhere and anytime. Life can come to an abrupt end without warning.

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The Victoria Hotel

Later in the day I went to a Happy Hour with Buddha at the Victoria Hotel. All they served was beer and Margaritas. I had had my fill of beer already and I didn’t want a  margarita. The bartender, a young ginger in a red t-shirt, tried to fix me a martini. It was awful. It was undrinkable. So, I sent it back. I drank nothing right then, but socialized a bit with the crowd at our table. There were a couple of parties going on tonight but I passed on both. Instead I walked back to the Malecon and took some pictures of the sunset.

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Sunset on the Malecon

Later, I was walking back to my place and I stopped in a little bar called La Tia. It had a Mexican flag and an American flag draped either side of the entrance. Music was pouring out so I hustled there inside.

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There was a gentleman sitting on a bar stool in the middle of the bar. There was a couple sitting at a table towards the back. I went in and sat a couple stools down from the guy at the bar.

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Anna: “Do you want to play a game Benn?”

A cute little Mexican bartender flashed me her pearly whites. “What would you like to drink?” She asked in perfect English.

“I’ll have a Corona.”

She got me my beer and set down in front of me and went back to her perch. She was talking to the other guy but he turned to me and included me in the conversation. Turns out he was from Oregon and was meeting his girlfriend later. He was drinking beer and had a shot of tequila sitting beside his bottle of beer.

We all got acquainted and had a nice conversation. The girl’s name was Anna and I was becoming quite taken with her. I snapped a few surreptitious pictures of her.

“Do you want to play a game, Benn?” she asked.

“Sure. What is it?”

“It’s called 21. You roll the dice. There are three winners. One who calls the shot. One who pays, and one who drinks the shot. Do you want to play”?

“Sure, let’s play.”

So we each took a turn in rolling six or seven dice out onto the bar from a leather cup. Each time Anna counted the tops of the dice. I won the  first roll so I called the shot.

“What shot do you want?” she asked pointing to the bottles of tequila behind the bar.

“What are you drinking?”

She pointed to a bottle.

“OK. That’s the one I want.”

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Interior of La Tia

She poured out a shot and set it on the bar in front of us. We rolled some more. First the guy from Oregon, then Anna. At the end of the game the Oregon guy drank and paid for the shot I called. We all laughed and he left. So now I had Anna all to myself. We talked a little more and I told her about a New Year’s Eve Party I was going to at Perry’s Pizza. She said she had been there before and that the food was good. I asked if she had plans for New Year’s Eve. She said no. I asked If she would like to come with me to the party as my guest. She said she would.  Hallelujah! Now we are talking! So we exchanged telephone numbers and became friends on Facebook so we could use messenger and sure enough she showed up at the party and we had a great time!

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She’s a beautiful girl and I went back to bar several more times to see her.

 

 

Ajijic Day 5

Garden Party

I went to a garden party at Kevin’s. All the best people were there, including a past trade minister from Canada. I started off with a shot of tequila and a beer chaser. Moved on to eggnog which was heavy with rum, then finished off with a couple of glasses of Merlot.

“Doesn’t all that mixing bother you?” asked Alain?

“Never mix never worry,” I quoted Honey from Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.

“Oh! I remember that movie!” Gushed Alain.

“Well, so far so good,” I said.

Happy New Year from Ajijic!

Today is New Year’s Day so I interrupt my narrative to wish all my WordPress friends and followers, HAPPY NEW YEAR!

And I’ll post a few of my favorite pictures from Ajijic.

Happy New Year from Benn and Anna

Celebrating New Year’s Eve with fires in in the street.

Sunset over Lake Chapala

Our Lady Of Guadalupe

Having fun on the Square

Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico Day 1

Drag Show

I left Louisville at 7:30 in the morning on a United Airlines flight connecting in Houston. It was a tight connection and I boarded almost immediately after arriving at the gate. We got in the air with no delay and arrived in Guadalajara on time at 3:30 pm. Off the plane we had to go through immigration and customs. There were long lines but it didn’t take long before I was in the main terminal looking for a taxi for the last leg of the journey to Ajijic.

It was about a forty-five minute ride to Ajijic. By the time I got there and checked into my Airbnb my phone was blowing up by two of my friends who were already there.

“Where ya at, Kat?”

“What’s your exact address?”

“Can you come over now to Bruce’s on Victoria?”

We had plans for dinner as a seafood restaurant that night and then we were going to a “drag” show at the Spotlight Theater later.

So I got my shit together and headed over to Bruce’s house one block away on Victoria Street where my friend Buddha was staying. We got in Bruce’s car and drove to La Pacena for dinner. That was a whole other experience that I’ll tell you about later.

Anyway, after dinner we went to the drag show. Here are some of the pictures.

The show was hilarious and quite well performed. Topical humor, political humor, and a lot of Jewish Jokes. Oh…and the name of the show was, Oy ve Christmas! Performed by The Kinsey Sicks.