Along the Natchez Trace

Monday, February 29, 2016

Who Cut The Cheese

I guess I've got that bug that's going around...  thought I was doing okay...  went to 7:00 mass this morning...  came home feeling tired and pretty much have been sleeping the rest of the day.  I'm sure it's just a temporary thing and I'll feel fine tomorrow.  But no photos taken today.

But.....  I still have my raunchy sense of humor...

Bill & I were in the grocery store yesterday...  it's the old fashioned kind where the shop owners cut slices of meat for you, or you can just buy 1 egg....  (it reminds me of the 1940's store where I lived back then)...  anyway.....   a loud voice boomed...

"Who Cut(s) the Cheese?"

I look up at Bill and we both burst out laughing....

I looked over at the dairy case and sure enough, the shop keeper was reaching into the shelf to retrieve a big wheel of cheese to slice some off for this guy.

I know...  childish humor....  but it did make us chuckle for a while.

That's All For Today!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Lo de Marcos Folklorica...

Our friends, Greg and Francine, whom we met in Costa Rica a few years ago are our next door neighbors here in Lo de Marcos.  They do a very special thing here...  they volunteer at the local high school, teaching English as a second language.  Bill & I listen to their stories about their experiences with both the teachers and the students.  A couple of weeks ago they told us that the high school was putting on a fundraiser...  dinner and entertainment...  on Friday, February 26.  

Of course we wanted to go...  and Francine secured our tickets.  Last night was the big night...

It's just a short walk from our bungalow over to the high school and we arrived in plenty of time for the start of the 6 pm event...
 Here's Francine...  at the entrance to the school grounds...  being greeted by one of the lovely ladies.

 The kids/teachers did a great job of decorating the dining area.  Just to the right of the dining area was the stage where, after dinner, the performances would be.

 Our friend, Memo, joined us at our table.
That's Bill, Greg and Francine and Memo...  Francine is telling us how she's surrounded by all these guys.

 No buffet lines here....  the kids brought everyone's dinner right to the table.  Since this event is about Mexican culture...  dancing and the such...  the meal was posole, (a kind of hominy soup), a chile relleno (stuffed pepper), a serving of rice, and a tossed salad.  It was delicious!  They also served a rice drink and also an jamaica drink (the purple glass).  I should add here that they also brought each table a bottle of tequila, but none of us wanted any right then.

After an introduction of the school personnel (again, here there are 3 speakers...  one speaks Spanish, one French Canadian, one in English.) we knew that they would be other entertainment beside the music folklorica.  

 During the course of the evening there were "adult" games played...  folks from the audience were encouraged to participate in the games.  The games were interspersed among the school entertainment and lots of folks joined in providing entertainment for the rest of us.

But it was the Folkloric dances that we enjoyed the most...
 Bill & I have been to several performances both in South Texas and various places in Mexico and knew what to expect.  Historic regional dancing and costumes from different areas in Mexico.  This is a very small town...  and a small school...  but these kids were quite talented and performed the dances to perfection!

 The costumes were regional also and made the dances totally authentic.

 There were some female singers as well...  accompanied by a nearly a dozen guitars.

 Another regional dance with appropriate costumes...

 And, I believe, the Jalisco historical dancing...  the very region where we are now.

 At the end of the last dance, all the performers came down from the stage and chose dance partners from the audience...  the whole area was filled with the kids in costume along with folks like us, who'd just come to see the show.  It filled the room and even up on the stage.  Quite a festive ending to a lovely show.

It was dark by the time it was all over...  around 8:30 or 9:00 pm.  Francine pointed out to me that all the decorations, including those colorful banners flying overhead were made by the kids.  It was a great fund raiser...  I hope they made all the money they wanted to...  I'm sure they have plans for much needed supplies or improvements.

I know that we had a great time!

That's All For Today!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Good Birding Day

Mostly birds today....  
I took these photos between 7:30 and 10:00 this morning.  While not really overcast, the humidity in the air was so heavy that my camera lens and my eyeglasses kept clouding up.  So while we had a great birding morning, the photography conditions weren't good.

Finally!  The bird we've been wanting to see since we got here in December!  We've been hearing it, and today finally located it.
Elegant Trogon
Very blurry, but I felt lucky to get a shot of it at all...  the foliage was so dense and it was way up in the top of a distant tree.

Actually...  not 1 but 2 Elegant Trogons....
The lower left is identifiable;  the upper right...  let's just say we know what it is.

 Russet-crowned Motmot

A pair of Rufous-bellied Chachalaca

 Orange-fronted Parakeet
No red visible on the bird's head, but this is the most likely ID

 Black-bellied Whistling Ducks
First time we've seen them in the lagoon this year.

 Yellow-winged Cacique
Looks like he's having a bad-hair day...  but that's his everyday look.

And....  my favorite photo of the day...
This Great-blue Heron had nabbed himself a big snake in the lagoon.  We watched him for what seemed like 10 minutes before he finally ate it...  all in one big swallow!  I have no idea what kind of snakes are in the lagoon....  but they must be a tasty breakfast to a heron.

 And...  lastly...  the Chachalacas again....
The End

That's All For Today!

Friday, February 26, 2016

What A Fun Day!

Enough about dogs and all that...  let's move on...  I loved all your comments...  would consider Judy's suggestion that I power wash my sandals, however, they already seem to be on their last legs (so to speak), and that much pressure would probably reduce them to scraps of leather.  So...  I dragged out my Tevas, figuring I'd have the Fashion Police on my tail as I've been wearing them with those sockie kind of things trying to ward off blisters from rough joints.  (the shoes, not mine).  Just sayin'.... I brought 3 pairs of shoes with me and have bought 2 more pairs here (Bill calls me Imelda)...  but...  those favorite ones will remain so until they go in the dumpster.

We (Bill, Memo and I) took the collectivo (van-like taxi-like service) north to La Penita today.  
Yes, it was Tianguis there today....
 Look at all the "customers" waiting to buy some sugar cane...

 Or how about the bazaars?  All kinds of wares, foods, ....  whatever...  for sale!!!!

Some interesting sights...
This picture is for my friend Mitchell....  (he'll understand)
But, really, how many couples do you know that dress alike (clear down to the blue Crocs)?
I can't read what their hats say, but I wonder if it's something like.... "If found, please return to my identical partner who must be closeby"...  or something like that.

Oh yes...  the reason we went to La Penita...
There was a geocache "Greet and Meet" there today.  Only 3 others showed up, but that's okay...  we had a fun time talking about caching...  and Memo got a chance to tell these folks that there are 5 new caches hidden (well...  4 hidden, 1 event) in Lo de Marcos now.  
So...  Memo got his first cache credit....  and even though this one won't bring him a souvenir, he's well on his way in a new "pastime".

And...  since we so close...  just a short collectivo ride down the road, we stopped in Guayabitos at a cache that Bill & I had already found.
 I had accidentally deleted it from my GPS, but that's okay...  Memo had no trouble finding it anyway.  

This cache is called "Stairway to Heaven"...  226 (or 225 depending on which one of us counted the steps correctly)....  steps up, up, up...  to a religious shrine at the top of a hill....
This is considered a church, so in respect, both guys took off their hats...  the view up here is terrific!
We walked back from here to Rt 200 intending to catch the collectivo back to Lo de Marcos, but...  wouldn't you know?  A couple of men stopped by (snowbirds from Canada) and picked us up.  Guys we'd met on our Monday walk, but I can't remember their names.  Small world, huh?

Just a few more photos because I've neglected showing y'all some birds lately...
How many?  I have no idea....  but they've been hanging out here a lot lately.  This is in the same vicinity as the heron rookery I've shown in the past.  

Not a good picture...  but how many species do you see?
Well... there's the Black-neck Stilt, the Snowy Egret, the White Ibis, the Little Blue Heron...  there's a cormorant and a Blue-winged teal...  and a Coot....
I'm lovin' it!

And...  on our way home....
A pair of Black Hawks....

And, if that's not enough...
A Grey Hawk
I know... you see only 1 leg, but he has the other one tucked up in all those breast feathers.

So...  there are still a lot of birds here...  but it changes every day.
We have only 18 days left....  who knows what we'll see in that time?

That's All For Today!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Dog DooDoo....

I've been blogging a lot about all the dogs here.  Yeah, there are a lot of them.  I suppose most of them have homes...  more or less.  Like the big black dog that I think belongs a house or so down from us...  but every morning she's asleep on the curb.  Of course I speak to her as we pass by, but she doesn't acknowledge me.  I look at her carefully...  I can see she has conjunctivitis...  her eyes are kind of matted and I want to reach down and swab them...  even more, I'd love to take her to the vet and really do something about it.  But she's not mine.....  

I can pretty much tell which dogs are well cared for and which aren't.  That big collie-type dog...  how old is she?  She looks really old...  has really matted hair...  nobody ever cleans her up.  And that dog that has a hairless tail?  What happened?  Why is it like that?  

I remind myself that it's a different culture here....   

And when I see a pack of male dogs ganging up on a female in heat, I can only hope that somewhere down the road the owners (of the males) won't have a macho attitude about neutering a male dog.  They do here, you know.  It's like their own masculinity is at stake if they have the balls cut off their dogs.  Go figure....

Okay..  so I'm getting kinda vulgar...  but...  darn it!  Is education possible?

So....  Bill and I are going on our morning walk...  it's not a strenuous walk...  Bill has binoculars, I, my camera.....  we're mostly birding.  I REALLY want to see an Elegant Trogon before we leave.  I'm usually pretty careful...  but this morning I stepped in a big pile of dog shit.

I know...  I could call it "poop"...  I could say "doodoo"...  but...  by the time I figured out that I was carrying along about 10 pounds of extra weight on my right foot, it was so embedded into the tread of my sandals, it was just plain SHIT!

I tried to scrape it off in the way side grass...  I even found a tiny water puddle or two and stomped around in that a few times.  Three hours later we were home...  and I checked out my sandals.

Damn!  Not only was that sandal still filled with dog crap, it stunk like hell.  And you think cat shit is bad!  Okay...  I see that lots of folks actually carry little plastic bags to clean up after their dogs, but...  really?  with 50 million dogs all crapping wherever they want to, does that really work?   And... I've wondered where the heck they put those little plastic bags of dog shit anyway?

Our second walk of the day...  I hit every water puddle I can find.  Not easy when it's noon...  hotter than you can imagine and not only that, I figure the heat is just gonna make my shoe smell that much worse.  We walk the river road...  there's a place at the end to wash the sand off your legs and feet before heading back along the path.  Perfect!  I'm gonna wash my shoe!  Actually, Bill saw a barbed wire fence close by and used the spike to clean around the treads of my sandal.

Good Grief!  He did good...  I quit rolling my eyes...  washed the sand off my feet and finally slipped those sandals back on.  I really, really, really want these sandals to last 3 more weeks!  They are falling apart and now have been impacted with dog crap.  They smell like ... well, they smell like a piece of shit....  I seriously doubt if Desenex Foot Powder can resuscitate them at this point.

Maybe it's time I dragged out my Teva sandals and quit depending on these old Born ones...  but...  geez....  it's hard to give up an old favorite...  despite the aromatic aroma they have been exuding these days.

That's all for today!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Hark! Hark!

Hark! Hark! The dogs do bark,
The beggars are coming to town.
Some in rags and some in tags;
And one in a velvet gown.

Some give them white bread,
Some give them brown,
Some give them a horse-whip,
And run them from town.

I learned that nursery rhyme when I was a little kid, and think of it often here in this little Mexican town.  I started taking photos of dogs probably the day we arrived here.  They lay around in the streets...   they roll around in the dirt....

They all are opportunists... finding food wherever they can.  Even if  it's the grease coming off an outside chicken grill.
Some we see again and again...

 Some seem well fed and well cared for.  Some not so much.
The lower middle picture is Pirate (also known as Oreo), who is my favorite dog in this town.  He lives across the street from the bus stop and often comes over and hangs out, getting petted and made over until the bus arrives...  and departs.

 Some have collars and are obviously well cared for.  Some, like the female at upper right, are heavy with milk and have puppies stashed away somewhere nearby.

 Some look forlorn...  unkempt...  never combed or maybe never even given shots or other care.

 We see cats, too...  but not nearly as many cats as dogs.  Probably no surprise with the number of dogs around.  Sometimes we hear dogs barking in the night...  for hours!  But it's the 3 am cat fights outside our bungalow that wake you out of a sound sleep, raise the hair on the back of your neck and make you think of murder and mayhem.

A couple days ago I blogged about the Spay and Neuter Clinic they have here.  While we don't have any pets of our own, Bill & I both care about the welfare of critters....  and knowing how quickly a couple of cats or a pair of dogs can reproduce... and their offspring reproduce... and on and on...  made it very easy decision to volunteer at the clinic.

Isn't this little guy just adorable?
Cute as can be...  I just hope his folks take him to the clinic when it's time.

So...  the dogs do bark...  the cats get in hellacious fights....   Even the riders on the horses we see don't appear to have whips or even spurs.  And, hey... we've even met a beggar or two here....  but so far...  no one in velvet gowns.

That's All For Today!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Monday Meanderings....

Today marks our 10th week here..  only 3 more to go.  Wherever has the time gone?!?  Our Monday Morning walks with Memo are a real highlight of our time here...

Folks come and go...  their time in Lo de Marcos was up and some had to go home.  Some have other obligations; some ...  who knows?  But here's Bill, Memo, Elaine, Christine, Sherry, and Don.  Even Sherry will be heading back to the States at the end of this week.  

But...  many of these folks have become friends that we'd love to see in the future...
I call this photo...
A little help from my friends....
And I think we really have made some lasting friendships here.

One of my favorite folks is....
Here with her daughter.
Letty runs the grocery store where we shop.  This photo doesn't do her justice...   but she is always helpful when I'm struggling over my (Spanish) veggies....  Maybe one of these days I'll be able to actually converse with her...  but if not, she has the patience to listen anyway.

Back to the sea today...
So quiet....
But it was also kind of windy, so I'm thinking that's why there were no umbrellas at the beach chairs.  Not many folks around, but that's when I love it the most.

In the brackish water, where the ocean and the river meet, the swampland had lots of blue-winged teals, quite a few egrets and cormorants, a few ibis...  and....
We saw only one jacana.
The weather seems to have changed a bit...  it feels like the days are getting hotter.  We saw another motorhome leaving today...  heading back to Canada.  Seems a bit early to us, but maybe they have lots of travel plans between here and there.

My very favorite..  all time favorite!...  butterfly is the Malachite...  it looks like a green Monarch.  I finally saw my first one ever in Mexico maybe 10 or 12 years ago.  When we were staying in Costa Rica we'd see them fairly often.  I saw one here a few weeks ago while we were walking, but didn't get a photo...  today...  
This one flew into a palm tree right outside our deck.  That was hours ago and he's still there!
However...  I think he's taking a long nap.  He/she is just hanging there...  won't open his wings...  won't flutter about.  I keep checking on it....  still there.

So...  doesn't look like there will be any photos of the lovely top-side of the wings...  that gorgeous green color...  oh well...

That's All For Today!

Monday, February 22, 2016

A Day At The Clinic

The Amigos of Lo de Marcos consist of both year-round and seasonal folks who live here.  While the majority of the members are either Canadian or from the USA, there are also Mexican townsfolk who belong.  As I understand it, there are several subcommittees, each devoted to specific needs....  like teaching English as a second language in the schools, repairing the roof on the school or repainting it, or helping folks grow their own veggies.  But the one committee that caught my attention was the group who support the sterilization of dogs and cats in the town.  

They arrange for a team of veterinarians to come several times a year, sponsoring a full day clinic for pets to be spayed or neutered.  While the vets bring most of their medical tools, the Amigos provide everything from thermometers to cleaning agents....  from the razors that shave the area to be worked on to the flea and tick meds after the surgery.  

I had heard about the clinic last month and asked one of the workers if they needed more volunteers and they did.  The clinic was held again today, in the very same library I wrote about a couple of days ago.  Bill & I arrived at 8:30...  just as the first dogs and cats were being registered.

The rooms were being readied....
On the left is the surgical suite...  the vets bring the operating tables as well as their surgical tools.  The upper right is the recovery room....  tables placed end to end...  2 rows of them...  with everything from thermometers to blankets...  there is enough room from about 4 cats or 2 medium dogs on each side of the room.  At the lower right is the "reception" area...  those women take all the information needed for each animal.

One room off to the right side is the holding area for the "patient".....
 These 2 puppies, brother and sister, were quite content to take a nap before their turn came.  The Amigos will provide cages and crates if the owner doesn't have them.

And...  the Prep Room...
Each critter is brought from the holding room into this room...  to be weighed and have their temperature taken.  They are also given their pre-op shot here.  When it is their turn, they will be asleep and carried into the surgery suite.

There isn't any fancy autoclave here...
 But here's Nancy...  she worked the morning shift washing and sterilizing scissors, hooks, and any other utensil the vets had used.  It was a 3 step process...  first the tool went into the "dirty water" bath...  hydrogen peroxide/water solution....  to get off any caked on debris.  Then into the pan in the sink...  another sterilization solution...  gloves necessary....  and scrubbed with a stiff bristled brush... or even a softer bristled toothbrush...  to make sure it was clean clear down to the metal.  Tweezers, with their gripping ridges are checked carefully.  The clean utensil is then placed into another pan of sterilization liquid.  That pan is in front of the vet so he can just take forceps to retrieve what he wants...

 This cat is being spayed...  she's been shaved, cleaned, had antiseptic applied...  the whole nine yards...  and as you can see, there aren't any straps to hold her in place, but each leg has been tied with string so the vet can have access to the right areas.
I think she's tied more to keep her in position rather than as a restraint as she is totally out of it during the entire process.

 This cat (probably the same one as above) is now in recovery.  After her temp and pulse have been checked, she'll be kept warm to maintain her body temperature.  My job was to provide the heat...  socks filled with rice, then microwaved for a minute or so....  they're flexible and contour to the animal's body.  They provide much needed heat exactly where it's needed the most.  So I spent my time making sure there were rice bags available as soon as a critter came out of surgery.
One other thing...  while the critter was still out, if all was going well, the recovery nurse would also check for ticks and fleas...  they'd clean ears for ear mites...  they'd even clip toenails.  Under other circumstances, I guess you could say it was a day spa for pets.  
 We'd met Don on our Monday walks and he's who I'd talked to about volunteering.  Don says he's a floater...  but in truth...  he does a bit of everything, making sure whole process is running smoothly.  

 Gerard is talking to and making over this kitty who would have preferred to sleep all afternoon.

 With the 2 veterinarians operating and their 2 assistants prepping and helping, they sterilized 22 cats and dogs today... I think it was 12 cats and 10 dogs.  They start with the small cats...  work through the males, then the females...  then on to the small dogs, male first, then larger and females.  Without going into all the details, spaying a female is much more invasive and takes much longer than the males.

 All the workers are volunteers....  some with prior training...  some even with nursing experience...  but several have learned it all right on the job.
I didn't get a photo of Bill and his job....  he stayed out back of the building, washing down and cleaning up any crate/cage that needed it.  So while he had a very unglamorous job, it was also a necessary one, and was appreciated.

 This guy, Rob, is instrumental in the area...  volunteering in several towns at several different clinics, in having dogs and cats sterilized.  He's been doing this for nearly 12 years now...  and told us all kinds of stories about his experiences.

 The clinic is free..  well advertised in advance.  Reservations are required due to the time and equipment needs.  The clinic starts at 8:00 (drop off pets), the vets arrive around 9:00....  they work pretty much straight through until done.  One local lady brought delicious tuna sandwiches for everyone and I think most workers took at least a few minutes around noon to grab a bite.  When the pets were dropped off, the owner was given a time to pick them up.  Of course the pet would still be groggy and require watching for the next day or so, but crates were loaned out if needed.

I have to tell you about my friend Memo...
He brought his kitten, Ginger, in to be spayed.  I kept watching for her to be brought in for her surgery.  Hummm...  the kitty they brought in looks like her...  but, nope, they're gonna neuter...  I ask for the name on the sheet (paperwork is meticulous here...  the papers stay with the critter all the way from start to finish)...  Uh Oh...  that's Ginger.  We all bust out laughing...  can hardly wait until Memo comes in to collect her him.  

When Bill and I left it was nearly 4 pm...  all the critters were done, the vets were packed up and ready to head out.  Most of the cleanup had been done.  We were done for the day,  They'll be a few critters that might have the "feel-bads" for a few days, but there'll be a few less puppies and kittens to deal with in town now.

That's All For Today!