On the 16th we went to the Lady Gaga Show sponsored by the Lake Chapala Society. This is a club for ex-pats. They put on shows and have a beautiful compound with many attractions for members and guests. The show was quite entertaining and the performers were excellent.
A conversation with Al Mitchell. While waiting for the Show to start Al and Maureen were conversing. I was just half-listening and sipping my red wine and enjoying the beautiful day.
Maureen: When I broke my foot, I had to wear the black boot of death.
Al: I know people who when they had to wear a boot on one foot would wear one on the other foot just to keep their balance.
Me: Whoa! Wait a minute there, Al! Who do you know that wore two boots?
Al (laughing): Well, I can’t remember their names.
Maureen: It sounds feasible.
Me: Give me a name. Name me one person who wore two boots.
Al (laughing): Well, I might have made that up.
Me: You damned right you did! That is preposterous! Your whole story is preposterous! Caught you, didn’t I?
Me and Al both laughing. We “clink” out plastic cups of wine together and let it drop. So it goes.
Later that evening had dinner at the Peacock Garden Restaurant. Al Mitchel, Maureen, and a few others who were at the Lady Gag Show. Later Cindy Joined us.
What I like about Ajijic is the number of fine restaurants it has to offer and the chance to socialize with friends and meet new people.
Ajijic is a great place to wander around to get to know the area and its inhabitants. It is a charming little village of about 11,000 people. Many expats live there and others from around the globe travel to Ajijic frequently. We had friends that were there so we were able to socialize with them while on our visit.
Below is a working farm just around the corner from where we were staying at La Casa Campbell. We walked by it everyday.
The other pictures depict some of the streets near where we were staying . We were walking distance of Lake Chapala so we usually walked there everyday.
Earlier this year, my partner Maureen and I made another pilgrimage to the land down under (the border) to visit the charming village of Ajijic, Mexico. This was my second visit and her first. In order to get to Ajijic one flies into Guadalajara then taxis the rest of the way from there to Ajijic. It’s 54 kilometers and the trip takes about an hour costing 500 pesos with tip.
Waiting for us at our destination was the owner of the Airbn we were staying at, Lupita Campbell. We were very happy with the accommodations which, to say the least, exceeded our expectations. We had an entire guest house, La Casita, at our disposal which was beautifully furnished and full of art. We also had a fenced in yard with a fountain and a cabaña in the back. From the roof we had a magnificent view of lake Chapala.
Ajijic is wedged between the mountains on one side and the lake on the other. Lake Chapala is the biggest lake in Mexico and is quite beautiful to look at and to visit. It has a wonderful malecon where you can take an evening stroll and watch the sun go down.
The weather is perfect. We were there in January and it was a little cool in the morning but by noon it was quite warm. No need for heat or central air. The hot water heater was warmed by solar power so we had to wait a bit to get a hot shower.
There is a large expat community living in Ajijic supported by the Lake Chapala Society. They are mainly American and Canadians. The locals sometime refer to Ajijic as “Gringo Land.” We have friends who live there and some who travel there quite frequently and we were planning on catching up with them on this visit.
There are many fine restaurants and shops in the village and is a fun place to visit and socialize.
Aunt Renie came to Louisville, Kentucky for a visit. It was in the spring of the year and nearing Derby Day, so I decided to take her out to Churchill Downs to watch the horses run.
We drove to south Louisville where the track is located and parked the car a few blocks away and walked the remaining distance to the track entrance. Aunt Renie is pretty spry for an old lady.
We were both able to get in for the admission price of only $1.00 as we were both senior citizens. Louisville likes to encourage its seniors to go to the track. We made our way through the throng of horseracing fans to a booth where they sell racing forms. I bought one and stuck it in my pocket. Then we walked out to the track and sat in the sun on hard benches and studied the form to make our picks.
We studied the racing form and saw that there was a field of eight horses for the next race. Aunt Renie had never been to a racetrack before so I had to teach her how to handicap the race. I am not an expert myself but here’s how I do it. The first thing I do is to study the form for the information listed about the horses for that particular race. First of all, I look for names I like. Something that clicks. Then, I look at the stats on that horse. Who is the trainer, who is the jockey, how much weight does the horse carry, how many races did the horse win this year, and last, what are the odds?
I take all these things into consideration and make a selection. I picked what looked like a winner: Psycho Blue Boots, the number 5 horse in the 3rd race. I suggested to Aunt Renie that we bet $10.00 to win on the 5 horse. If it won, we would split the winnings. She agreed.
I pushed my way through the crowd to the parimutuel window and placed my bet.
“$10.00 to win on the 5 horse in the 3rd race,” I said. The teller smiled, took my money, and punched my ticket.
The race was about to begin as was indicated by the trumpet call to the gate. I hurried back to where Aunt Renie was sitting and showed her our ticket. Just then the announcer announced, “They’re off!” And the race began.
“On the lead was Solient Green, on the outside Golden Band. On the rail was Shiftless Joe followed by Psycho Blue Boots. Royal Pain was moving up to fourth place, Psycho Blue Boots makes a sudden move…They are in the turn, Royal Pain is in third. Psycho Blue Boots moving up on the outside…now moving in…in the stretch Psycho Blue Boots takes the lead…at the wire…Psycho Blue Boots wins by nose!”
The crowd goes wild. I go wild Aunt Renie goes wild. We are winners!
We won enough on the race we were able to celebrate at one of Louisville’s most prestigious steak houses, Jack Fry’s. We had quite a day at the races and a nice meal to boot.
The next morning, I took Aunt Renie to the airport where she resumed her travels.
I was sitting at a sidewalk table at a café in front of a large window, sipping my whisky and soda. I could watch the passersby on their way home. It was late and everyone had left the café except for me. A tree sat a few feet from me in a large round pot casting a shadow over the empty table sitting next to it. There was enough light to read by. I liked to sit late at night in this café and read and drink my whiskey and soda in peace. It was quiet now that all the other customers had left. There only remained two waiters, one old like me and the other young. The younger one seemed impatient to go home. Probably had a wife to go home to. That was not the case for me nor I suspect for the other waiter.
I noticed out in the street a young man and a pretty girl walking briskly by. I was entranced by the beauty of the girl and I was envious of the young man who was with her.
I signaled the waiter for another drink.
The younger waiter sauntered over.
“What will you have?”
“Another whisky and soda.”
“Don’t you think you’ve had enough, senor?”
I just looked at him. He went away to fetch the drink.
The two waiters were huddled together at a table near the door. They were whispering. Probably talking about me I thought. Probably want me to go. Well, I’m not ready to go.
The waiter went to the bar and poured a shot of bourbon into a tumbler of ice and spritzed it with soda water. He carried the drink outside to where I was sitting. He placed the drink in front of me and said, “Why don’t you just fuck off, old man?”
He probably thought I couldn’t hear what he was saying as I am practically deaf. But I hear well enough in a quiet environment.
The waiter went back into the café and sat down with his workmate. They began whispering again. Probably think I’m drunk and need to leave, I thought. Oh, well, I’ll stay a little longer and have one more for the road.
I like this place. It is clean, well-lighted, and quiet.
I motioned to the waiters for another drink.
“Another whiskey and soda, amigo.”
“No,” the young waiter said. “You’re done. Time to go.”
“Another!” I insisted.
“We are closing now.” He began to wipe the table clean with his towel.
I slowly stood up, looked at the bill he had unceremoniously laid on the table. I pulled some cash from my pocket and paid the bill, leaving a modest tip.
I walked down the street away from the café slowly, a bit unsteady on my feet. I could feel the eyes of the two waiters burning a hole in my back. I wasn’t ready to go home yet. I didn’t want to face my dark room and the empty bed. One more drink, I thought. There must be someplace open tonight. Only thing was, they would unlikely be as clean and well-lighted or as nice as this last one was. I didn’t want any music. No, I really wasn’t in much of a mood to listen to any music. And I didn’t really want to stand in front of a bar. What was it I wanted? Not much. Just a clean, quiet, well-lighted place.
I came to a bar that was open. It had red and white walls on the outside with an American flag hanging on one side of the entrance and a Mexican flag hanging on the other. There was music pouring out the door from a sound system hidden somewhere within the recesses of the tiny bar. Not really my kind of place, but I was thirsty, so I stumbled there inside.
There was a gentleman sitting on a barstool in the middle of the bar. A couple was sitting at a table towards the back. I went in and sat a couple of stools down from the guy at the bar.
“What would you like to drink?” asked the barmaid.
“Do you have any bourbon?” I asked.
“Si, we have Jim Beam.”
“OK. I’ll have that.”
She poured the drink and marked it on the bottle then set it down in front of me and went back to her perch she was sitting on. She was talking to the other guy, but he turned around and included me in the conversation.
“Hey! Where are you from?” he asked.
“From the States,” I answered.
“Well, I figured that. Where in the States?”
He nodded his head. “I’m from Oregon. You been here before?”
“Yeah, I live here now.”
“A lot of ex-pats here, that’s for sure! I guess that’s why they 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.
The barmaid looked over in my direction and said, “Do you want to play a game?”
“What kind of a game?”
“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, why not? Let’s play!”
So, we took turns rolling six or seven dice out onto the bar from a leather cup. Each time the barmaid 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 what 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 the barmaid. At the end of the game, the Oregon guy drank and paid for the shot I called. We all laughed and he left.
In the meantime, the other couple had left and there were only the two of us left in the bar. The barmaid and me. She walked over to where I was sitting.
She was dark and sloe-eyed with long black hair flowing over her shoulders. She was wearing a green plaid shirt with several of the top buttons undone, exposing her ample breasts.
“What’s your name, Gringo?” She smiled broadly.
“Phil,” I answered. “What’s yours?”
“Anna. At least that’s what I put on my Facebook page. You want another shot?”
“No thanks,” I said and then I left. Now, I will go home. I will lie in my bed and try to fall asleep. I will think of Anna and what it would be like to be with her. I am probably not the only one in town who has trouble sleeping at night, I thought to myself. Maybe I will dream of Anna. Maybe tomorrow I will find someplace to read. Maybe a quiet, clean, well-lighted place where I can sit and read in peace.
“At least once every 15 minutes, we need to practice letting go. Bear in your heart no hatred, utter no unkind words, remain always compassionate, with no hostility or ill will. The Seven Factors of Awakening are the practices of love.” – Thich Nhat Hahn
One of the most enriching aspects of our trip to Costa Rica was meeting the wonderful people that live there. They were friendly, hardworking, happy and always smiling. The have a saying in Costa Rica, “Pura Vida,” and it punctuates everyone’s speech. They say it in greetings and in goodbyes and whenever else it makes sense to say it. It means, “the pure life.” And they surely enjoy life in their beautiful country. I hope you enjoy some of the pictures I took of these happy inhabitants.
Fernando was our driver on our first day in country. He picked us up at the airport and drive us to our first destination, the Arena Volcano. On the way we stopped for lunch at Mi Rancho.
This is our guide, Grevien. He took us on a tour of the rainforest.
This is my guide Corry. He took me on a waterfall tour and to the beach.