Monday, October 31, 2005

Rainy Season

It looks like rainy season is over. Cartoon clouds and lightning bolts illustrated the daily forecast for two months, which always read "scattered thunderstorms".

It didn't rain every day. But when it rained, the skies emptied. If you were caught out, you got soaked. You learned quickly which streets had the best awnings. There was no hope of keeping your feet dry. The roads became rivers and the downspouts were waterfalls for children to play in.

Korah and I had Spanish class together in September. When she found out I was from Alaska, she gasped and said she had always wanted to see the northern lights. Being only 23, she has time to realize her wish. But her comment made me reflect on the gentle, quiet wonder of that northern sky show and the drama of what we were experiencing on our balcony most evenings here in Mexico. The clouds would sneak in quickly from around a hill, the lightning would flash and the thunder would boom in our very building. Once darkness fell, the flashes and bolts of electric light and the crashes of thunder became even more dramatic. I liked that I seemed to be in the very middle of the action.

Back in Juneau, the northern lights seem to appear in the wee hours and on the coldest nights of the year. Watching them is magical but I always want to go back to bed where it is warm.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Two More Hats

It was a hat a day for two days, then we moved into a new apartment.
Whew, settled again! Can I knit now?

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


Dave and I met Matthew Miller at his home in Belize in 1998. Dave was working as a volunteer pilot for Lighthawk. We returned to Belize again two years later and Dave and Matthew have kept in touch. This is what Matthew had to say when he heard that Dave was willing to leave his beloved projects at Chilkat Lake for a school year in Mexico.

"You are such a supportive, willing partner to follow Sarina's wish to spend the year in a Spanish language dominated culture and country. This is the mark of a real man, whose ego is in check and whose soul finds a way to express the unlimited love inherent in us all. Putting your toys aside and being content with sunshine, salt water, new discoveries by walking into the town market and BOOKS to read is a sign that heaven is on earth when we open up and look for it. I'd say you have arrived, my man, and have much reason to give thanks and praise."

I pretty much agree with Matthew. I appreciate Dave.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

A Glimpse at the Economy

A strike was averted this week. The Mexican government and health care workers at public hospitals across the nation agreed to a contract. Wages will rise modestly; benefits have been cut.

A nurse will now be paid 3683 pesos ($344) a month. Salaries for doctors are not much higher. They make 4913 pesos ($460) a month. Retirement benefits are paid after 35 years of service. Pensions have been reduced from 130% of salary to 100%. This public hospital system provides health care for about 40 million of the 105 million Mexicans living in this country. According to Cynthia, my Spanish teacher, many of the taxi drivers in Mexico City are doctors. They make more money in a cab.

The minimum wage is 40 pesos ($3.76) for 8 hours of work. The grocery baggers at the supermarkets are generally school age boys or old women and they aren't paid at all. Knowing that can change your attitude about tipping.

Locals have told me that Puerto Vallarta has a strong economy and that jobs are available. There are a lot of cell phones and new cars about. The neighborhoods do not look wealthy but cruel poverty is not apparent. My world is small though. I have not been out to the dump.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Baby Sweater

I made this sweater for Lilia, who was born on October 5. Her parents are Tino and Blanca; her 6 year old brother is Brian. She will get the hat, too. They are neighbors of ours and Ray and Brian play together, outside in the street. It is likely that Lilia will get quite a few more handmade gifts because a baby is like a blank canvas for me. A baby is a good reason to knit.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Our Domes

Domes are not formal structures here.
Domes are everyday.
It is very pleasant to have so many domes around.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Hot and Humid

The nights are still hot. A sheet will do for sleeping. Shorts are required for decency but clothes really don't feel necessary. My cotton bathrobe from Chinatown is too heavy. The fans have been spinning in the apartment for two months, but it has rarely felt cool. We don't use the oven and I want to climb into the refrigerator. No one here wants to work on the house we see being built across the way.

People seem adapted to the heat and humidity, just like we adapt to the cold and rain of Juneau. The buses and sidewalks are filled with people going about their day. Streets are swept and garbage is bagged. Children in their uniforms make their way to and from school. Families spill out of the houses to sit on the curb and talk to their friends and neighbors. Music pours out of open doors and windows. The fireworks burst from the pirate ship. Always Puerto Vallarta seems to throb with life. It is very late in the evening before the doors of the houses begin to close and the quiet begins.

We choose the shady side of the street and walk slow. We take two or three showers a day. The weather is due to change soon. Walking slow is okay for now.

Monday, October 17, 2005


A walk on the Malecon is a great way to start the day. I am getting out now most mornings. Day breaks late around here, a quirk of the time zone, and we all leave the house at first light, about 0730. Dave and Ray wait on the corner for the bus and I head for the beach, about 8 blocks away from our apartment on the hill.

The Malecon is a paved promenade that parallels the waterfront in the heart of town. The waves lap on one side and taxis rush by on the other. It is a lively, comfortable place. People sit and people stroll, they walk their dogs and run, they carry water bottles and babies, they seem to be going somewhere or not. It is a place that gives this town a center and does it by being on the edge.

We went to the Malecon last month to witness the celebration of independence. Thousands of people were there. Politicians had speeches to give and soldiers beat their drums and waved flags. A huge fireworks display had bloomed from the sidewalk overnight. Huge loudspeakers were everywhere and bands were playing. Vendors had food and drink and eggshells filled with confetti and cotton candy and everything festive for sale. The culmination of the night was scheduled for 1100 pm and by 1000 the crowd was drawing closer to the main plaza. Right on time, the mayor emerged onto a city hall balcony, called out the names of revolutionaries one by one and the crowd, all together, shouted "Viva!" After all of the heroes had been heralded, the mayor clanged a big bell and "Viva Mexico!" rang out over and over. El Grito, it is called. The Shout.

Sunday, October 16, 2005


I love to knit. Sometimes I even need to knit. Knitting has always been with me, it seems. There has been an occasional lull here and there, one here recently in Puerto Vallarta where it has been too hot to knit. It has not been too hot to read about knitting on the web and invariably, one wanders to knitting blogs where the knitting is current and constantly updated and almost interactive. Interesting twist for a hobby with a grandmotherly reputation.
863 knitting blogs in one webring!
So I made a baby hat and I have a blog. Join the crowd. Made with Mexican yarn.

Saturday, October 15, 2005


October 15, 2005

We are in Puerto Vallarta and she is in Istanbul. Simple statement but still a little hard to accept. When she first mentioned being an exchange student, all sorts of thoughts and feelings came tumbling out. What a great experience! You will learn so much. There is so much to see in this big, wide world and you will get to start now. Where will you go? You will learn a new language. Then...wait a minute! You can't leave, you are only 16!

Now a few months later, she writes from Turkey and she is still smiling. "Awesome" is a word that is frequently heard. Turkish is easy. Her emails are full of stories and funny and we are proud of her. She sounds happy. She said "I did a cartwheel on the Bosphorus Bridge".

Friday, October 14, 2005

October 14, 2005

We are here for the school year. Ray is 8 and we want him to learn to speak Spanish while he is young. Dave and I are learning as well, though we expect Ray to catch up with us and leave us behind forever very soon. "What did she say?" we will ask him. He will translate.

The vegetable market is down the stairs and 2 blocks away. Grab a plastic bowl and pick out your food. Nothing is shrinkwrapped. There are no prices posted. It never seems expensive, especially after shopping at Howser's in Haines all summer. We have learned to shop frequently. The food is fresh and doesn't last long at home. When you buy bananas, you are committed to eating bananas. Soon.

More later...