Saturday, January 29, 2011

Doctors, dentists and sea life

The doctors and dentists here really seem to care about you, which I think they do in Canada as well, they just don't have as much time and it's more regimented there. Two cases in point:
  1. Dr. Aburto is my general practioner. I've had flashes of light in my right peripheral vision for a while, and I saw a local optometrist who said everything's ok. But he really wants me to be seen by an opthamologist, and they are only available in larger centers like Hermosillo and Mexicali.The problem was I needed to take an interpreter with me.

    Last time I went to see him about another matter, he excitedly told me he had good news. On his own time, he had called several opthalmologist's offices in Mexicali and found one where the receptionist spoke excellent English. I was to call and make an appointment with her, then she would translate for me. The doctor himself was excellent and has a complete lab and would run every possible test on my eyes. I haven't made that appointment yet, since I just got back from vacation, but I will.

    He then proceeded to give me directions to the office in Mexicali and to draw a 'map'. The way he does this, both in his enthusiastic directions and his hilarious method of drawing a scrawled line to represent the map, reminds me so much of my dad it hurts. The thing is, with both of them, you never need the scrawled line with doodles, you remember the way due to their dramatic reading.

  2. Break for excellent photos of sea creatures of the Sea of Cortez, taken by Ray Ramirez, captain of the Pancho Villa, and other local divers. Ray said I could use any I wanted on my blog, so thanks Ray!! I'm going out on his boat tonight, we're going to sail around to Cholla Bay and listen to Roger Cline and the Peacemakers for a while. Life is SO good here. Poor Carl's still suffering from the sciatica, hopefully it will get better soon.

  3. I went to my dentist because I've been biting my tongue in my sleep lately. It's because I have to sleep on my back, and when I roll my head to the side, my tongue moves over and then if I have a little wake-up, I bite down on it. Ow.

    I'd been looking around for bite plates and things like that, but decided to talk to him. When I explained the problem, he asked a few questions, then said, "I have the answer!". He brought out a microbead neck pillow. Support when I lay on my back, so when I turn my head my jaw is supported. Eureka! I've ordered one, and I think it's going to work. Meanwhile I'll have to keep up my practice of not letting my head roll, and sleeping like a vampire. 
More pictures!

    Monday, January 17, 2011

    Trip to San Blas

    We had three boxes of kitchen utensils for friends of a friend in Puerto Vallarta, and have been trying to find a way to get them to the couple, Jan and Jess. They live in PV but work fulltime and it's a 7.5  hour trip one way to Mazatlan. At first we thought we'd go down and stay a few days there, but Jan told us PV was full, overcrowded, expensive and no fun. She generously offered her place to stay for a couple of days, but we didn't want to impose, and we've only met them once.

    Anyway, long story even longer, we decided to meet up in San Blas. Carl is ok with riding in the car, in fact it's about the only thing he can do that's not incredibly painful, so this trek was a good adventure.

    The problem is that you can't stop anywhere to take pictures, because the roads either have no shoulder whatsoever, or a shoulder that is used by massive semis travelling at 100 km an hour.

    We saw a lot of Brahma cows- apparently used here because they can take the heat.

    They are not Scottish, however. Indian, I think. I have to admit, I still don't know why that was quite so funny, Cheryl.

    They have a bit of that propeller-head quality about them as well.

    We saw groves of tamarind trees in bloom. Carl saw a pink flamingo fly in and land on a pond, and I saw one at the edge of a pond. It's a huge bird-watching area, and we saw a lot of different species on the drive. If you want to see some of the birds, there's a good slide-show here:

    The scenery was mountainous and green.

    We had a really nice lunch, mine was enchiladas suiza which was a rather wet-looking plate of enchiladas, but whatever the wet was, it was yummy. It might have been a thin chile verde sauce. There were also lots of crisp pickled vegetables on top. Carl had deep-fried shrimp empanadas, and on the road we picked up dried shrimp tamales that were very interesting. We ate them later in the hotel room. Yes, we do have stomachs of iron.

    Here are some images of San Blas. We were sad that we didn't have more time there, but if we had stayed we would have been driving the highway in the dark.

    Saturday, January 15, 2011

    Step away from the candy

    You remember these little orange-segment shaped candies from when you were kids, right? The little sugar-coated devils are hugely addictive. I bought a bag today on my market adventure. Carl got his second shot of anti-inflammatory, then I let him rest while I went out for a while.

    First I went for a short walk on the beach. It's not as nice as my beach at home at all, at all. It's really smoggy here as well.

    I took a cab for 80 pesos down to the central market, hoping to find a molcajete, which is a big stone bowl with feet used for grinding things, and you can bake in it as well.

    Thye have a great fish market there, doesn't smell in the least fishy, and they're selling these wonderful cuts of marlin that look like lean red beef.

    No mocaljetes at the market, so I thought I'd take a bus home. While I was waiting, I gave it one last try and I asked a vendor in Spanish if he knew where I could buy one. He said, go to the end of the block, turn right, take the next left and go four blocks... then he lost me, but I got the impression that what I was looking for would be there.

    Sure enough, there was a restaurant supply store right there. But they didn't have any. Again I asked if they knew where I could find one. This is a big city, and people are less friendly than at home, but she very quickly told me... something, and gestured with her chin. So I walked that way, and in a block I came across another kitchen supply store. And there I finally found my molcajete!

    After trudging another eight blocks carrying the ten pound thing, then buying some oranges and those evil candies, and waiting for a bus for another 20 minutes, I thought I'd grab a cab and head home with my goodies.

    If you want to know more about mocaljetes, here it is: Molcajetes are used to crush and grind spices, and prepare salsas, and guacamole. The rough surface of the basalt stone creates a superb grinding surface that maintains itself over time as tiny bubbles in the basalt are ground down, replenishing the textured surface. As the porous basalt is impossible to fully clean and sanitize, molcajetes are known to "season" (much like cast iron skillets), carrying over flavors from one preparation to another. Salsas and guacamole prepared in molcajetes are known to have a distinctive texture, and some also carry a subtle difference in flavor, from those prepared in blenders. Molcajetes can also be used as a cooking tool, where it is heated to a high temperature using an open fire or hot coals, and then used to heat its food contents. Although true molcajetes are made of basalt, imitations are sometimes made of a mixture of pressed concrete and volcanic rock particles.

    Molcajetes are also used as serving dishes in restaurants and homes. While recipes are usually not stewed or otherwise cooked in them, the molcajete stays hot for an extremely long time, and it is not unusual for a dish to still be bubbling a half hour after serving.

    Tomorrow we're off to San Blas to meet some friends of friends and deliver three bins of their stuff that we carted down here for them . Tonight hockey at the Twisted Mama, the Canadian bar that has a Canadian satellite feed.

    Thursday, January 13, 2011

    Mazatlán January 13

    I feel I must explain why our vacation isn't more dramatic and exciting. I'm fighting a chest cold and am on pain meds that make me sleepy. Carl's back is shooting pain down his butt then down his leg to his ankle if he walks more than a couple of blocks at a time. So no zip-lining for us.

    To be fair, though, we are more drawn to museums and aquariums than karaoke bars and casinos in any case. So here are pictures of the aquarium in Mazatlán (accent on the last syllable, those of you learning Spanish!)

    We figured this guy at 3-4 pounds of spiny lobster.


    Spiny Ray.


    A gar, we think.

    Fishing knots in miniature.

    Moray eels - so cool! Are more than one a slither if eels?

    This mural showed sea life at different depths.

    Wouldn't want to run into him!

    Not likely to see this guy, he's so deep he carries his own light.

    How cute is this guy?

    Don't stick your hands in the crocodile cage. Good advice!

    It's been a nice couple of days here, although it's cooler than we expected. There are a lot of very white Canadians here. We're down in the newer area of town, but we got to investigate old Mazatlán today. It's very peaceful and beautiful.

    head dress at Archeological museum

    Old Square

    I hope they're fixing this place up, it's a lovely old building in disrepair.

    The square in old town, so sunny and pleasant to have a cup of coffee and people watch.

    There's an old opera house here that they restored in 1992. Dancers were stretching on the stage.

    These shots are before the restoration.

    In the archeological museum, a tomb and figurine.

    Obsidian knife.

    A dog!


    A stone vase.

    Modern Mexican coat of arms.

    Dinner time! We're off to Twisted Mama's, a Canadian bar not far from here owned by Cindy from Olds, AB. She's been here 14 years, and we had a great burger here yesterday afternoon. I'm looking to see what fresh fish she has. I had dorado last night at the Shrimp Factory, and the fish here is GOO-OOO-DDD!