Welcome to the Adventure

Living in Mexico is often indescribable...you just have to live here. I have been journaling experiences for a while, and I hope you can get a feel for stupid-ass gringos trying to get it. But I am still here, and that says a lot for those of us sticking it out, as the payback is what makes life so good here.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The last of California for a while....

Larry is part of the Woelfel clan. It is an amazing family, parents Linus and Rosemary, 89 this year, eight other brothers and sisters, and some of their families, brothers, sisters, cousins galore came to California for Jon and Kerri's wedding. Linus and Rosemary created a family that is most enviable. They should be very proud of how all their children turned out. Everyone of them have amazing, interesting, rich lives, that they bring together, with all their vast differences and experiences and lifestyles (in these uncertain, changing lifetimes), and a family is reborn.

They would so fit into Mexico. Family in Mexico is everything. Nothing gets in the way of family. We know a few large families here, who struggled, succeeded, survived, and they have these same family moments. They all show up for weddings, anniversaries, holidays, birthdays, just for fun days, and party down, just like the Woelfels. Larry's brothers and sisters are as diverse as you can get, and still have a good time at a party. They all bring their rich and interesting lives into ours briefly, and it is amazingly reassuring that you know you are loved by so many people. For us "out-laws", our self-dubbed support group, being in the middle of it can be overwhelming. The love is the glue though. Lots of love.

After almost 20 years, I am just as amazed as the first time. This world doesn't have enough truly good people, but I can say this about Larry's family. They are genuinely good people. And they get down. You have to train to party with them. Either they are slowing down or I am finally catching up to them, but it takes a lot of energy to keep up. They loved the wine country, the brew pubs, the camaraderie of daily changing configurations, (so you can catch up, cause it's harder when you travel in packs of 20), and of course being together. It was fun.

What's Mexican about Californians...

Our go-to friends Karen and Ed, cheerfully picked us up at Carol and Doug's, and chauffeured us to Santa Rosa. We shamelessly take advantage of them, because we never get enough time with them...they drive us so we can have intense catch-up time, and they give us such comfort, thank God for them! (PS why did we not take pictures of you guys)

Susan and Howard (friends from Santa Rosa) arranged a house for us behind theirs. This was a gift from the heavens. We profusely thank Howard and Susan for this house. We gave them Jon and Kerri when we moved to Mexico, as we couldn't loose them in our life.

Teresita, my dear friend/sister, from 16+ years ago, came into my life when she was a teacher with me (before someone unwisely let her go), arrived with her family, Will (husband), and four boys including Andre, Dante (God child), Julian, & Trevian. Because I am a co-madre with Teresita, it is a whole other level of relationship. Teresita teaches in Chico now. She and her family accompanied us to our home in Mexico (and that's a road trip to tell about), in a memorable experience for all of us. We have had truly bonding experiences, gorilla glue experiences. Her family cheerfully shared time with our friends Javier and Julia and their boys Diego and Mateo, because we all just wanted to be together. Not many of us have these friends. I miss them all a bunch, and still am the biggest baby when I have to say goodbye.

We had a chance to see other friends, briefly, and said we would be back...or get your asses down to Mexico, it's not that hard, and "livin' is easy". We said good-byes, and Karen and Ed came and got us and we went back to Oakland. I had an attack of vertigo, and wanted to delay out by a couple of days, and really hang with Karen and Ed more, because we didn't have enough time with them. Mexicana goes bankrupt. No extra days, we had to go out the following night, or chance being cancelled... We all agreed to meet up in Mexico City next year. We find ways.

So when you go home, it is about the family and friends, a characteristic shared by Mexicans. Often during this time it didn't occur to me whether I was in Mexico or the United States (although the cold was a big clue), I felt comfortable in both places, it's not so different as you would think.

Monday, August 16, 2010

California Dreamin' ...Since You Went Away

I am a Californian. I was born and raised in Berkeley, spent 20+ years in Calistoga, and have never lived more than an hour from the Pacific Ocean. I continue to live on the Pacific coast, although now it is Mexico's coast, but the California girl is still there, as I found out. What was the give away? The crusty sourdough bread that kept disappearing off any plate put in front of me. There are PhD theses on San Francisco sourdough bread. There's a reason! But aside from the bread, it was my family and friends who once again reminded me of how special California is for me.

The Sister -The road trip - and there is no such thing as a coincidence....

Carol and Doug were going to be in Glacier the last half of our trip, so the no-brainer, and because they know how to ease us into California, they've done it enough now, we spent our first week with them, on a road trip, to Cambria. Ostensibly it was to see Hearst Castle (the only state park in California to make a profit), and have some fun with Carol and Doug. It was a great trip. That fact that one old friend (Teresita from later in the Blog) had called me a week before from Cambria area on vacation, and then we talked to Larry's brother Ron and his better half, Helen (really Ron, she's rare), and they told us they were coming from Arizona to Cambria for a couple of days before "the wedding", well, it was meant to be. The central Coast of California is a truly beautiful. I really had not explored this area before, except to pass through, and I was astounded at it's offerings and still not be so overrun by tourists to make it seem impossible to enjoy it. See film Sideways (or Men Behaving Badly, my title) for reference.

Old school California always thought Paso Robles was a hick, pass-through town, of farmers. It probably was, but not anymore. OMG, it's turned into WINE COUNTRY.
We had some great wine, fabulous dinners, wildlife galore to watch (even some not so native), and did I mention great wine - and company. Carol planned the whole thing. This is a sister who takes care of her older sister, especially when she needs it. Loved every second. Hearst Castle was a trip. Those of us with "special needs" has the opportunity for a tour of a life time. The four of us had a private tour, given by a working comedian (Hearst is his day job). I hadn't been there in 40 years. Hadn't really changed a bit, but I had. I still think Hearst was mad, but unbelievable, unbelievable. So thanks to Doug and Carol, we had a memorable time, and still can taste the wine.

Cousin Phoebe

Well blank my blank, but who do we all hook up with, but cousin Phoebe. This was a greatly anticipated event, that elicited phone calls and emails days leading up to and following by members of the family. Phoebe met us for dinner in Berkeley with two of her incredibly beautiful, in all ways daughters Alana and Marianna (a third not so near as to make it for dinner, Tayeisha was missed). Phoebe, our cousin of passion, and life- changing-events-Phoebe, was found. What a dinner! We neared epic proportion as the evening moved on, and oh it was fun. We all laughed a lot, even the young'uns. I don't think I had seen Phoebe in 40 years - a life time and a half at least - and we shared stories, 40 years of them. So for those of you out there who might hesitate to reunite with other family members after a long-ass period of time, (we had already had that pleasure earlier, when Carol hooked us up with relatives even she hadn't seen before), well just do it. We need go-to siblings sometimes. And so Phoebe (and the Warbles, and the Dodds) and her family are back in our lives, and we are the richer for it......

To be continued...again

Sunday, August 15, 2010

..and back to Mexico

Just returned from a "way-too-fast" visit with our families and friends, first spending time down in Cambria with my sister and brother-in-law (great trip, more about that later), then up to Santa Rosa to attend our nephew's wedding to his exquisitely beautiful bride. The wedding was lovely, the couple so in love, and the music awesome, it was perfect. The weather was awful though. What can you say. The usual, summer in SF is the coldest winter I have ever been in, is about as truthful as can be this year. The wedding warmed us all with love and happiness, as they should.

It was the trip back, I think, that made us glad we live here for now. The ocean, the mountains, our afternoon breezes, the low 80's weather, with more than a dash of tropical rain bursts, all still very compelling reasons to be here, aside from cheap.


OMG! I missed everyone (and sour dough, and Zinfindel and Pinot). It was way so overwhelming. And that was just with friends. Then 40+ members of Larry's side of the family descended into Sonoma County en masse. Jon is the nephew who married his beloved, Kerri. All the families attending were a deeply moving and meaningful presence for Jon and Kerri. There were memories made this summer.

Kerri and Jon brought together whole generations of family, tons of them, and it was such fun watching all these "in-laws" checking each other out. Thank God every relative on both sides are damn charming people. It was thoughtful as well, as we pondered our aging, and how is it that Larry's parents, near 90, are still running circles around the rest of us. As for the bride's side of the family, they were wonderful. Southern women have their charm, indeed, and we loved Jamie, her mom, and the rest of the crew. They got down with the best of them, and we all want southern accents, please.

And Then...

Larry and I wanted to stay of bit longer, as I had an uncomfortable attack of vertigo. Still hadn't seen all the people we had promised to see, and thought a couple of more days would be a good break. Too bad Mexicana went bankrupt just when we were having this conversation. We didn't really have a choice and we reluctantly, and with relief, got on the plane, after we had been told flights were being canceled. Friend Richard was on plane as well, and we laughed at the dilemma, because you have to. SFO, I'm thinking, wasn't even fueling the plane, because we stopped at Tijuana Airport for gas.

Americans and Canadians, when coming back here, bring way too much stuff. Like we can't live without pickle relish or See's candy, or a hammer drill. We took advantage of Mexicana's dilemma and loaded three suitcases full of stuff, well over weight limits, way over. They did not bat an eye as we checked in. They knew. Even pilots were carrying things, for home, in bags as they boarded the plane. Of course, upon arrival to Huatulco, we knew Peter may be paying Paul. Customs! The bane of all gringos in Mexico, trying to slip in those cat treats, cigars, wine. Those custom guys, who may only get one or two foreigners a week off-season, opened two of the three suitcases. They questioned, charmingly, about whether I could bring in 3 year old cheddar, when one of them spotted the loot for our friend Brook's dog. Those chews. We argued, benignly, that they were really as far removed from a cow, as chews can be. Mad Cow and all, still. They edged them to the confiscated pile ever so slowly, when Larry looked over the label, and found in fact that they were made in Mexico. They handed them back to us, all of us chagrined, all of us. Good laugh though. It's funny how all of us play that "let's see what we can get through customs" game. Don't ask.

So now I have just watched the sun set over the mountains and the Pacific; the waves are pounding the rocks, and Centa is in bed already waiting for us. Nothing like being home. More on California and wedding in next blog or so.....