Spanish Study and Guided Travel in Mexico

spanish teacher in Yelapa and Sayulita, Mexico observes the culture

Chickens, Chocolate and other Monsters – July 2008

on July 21, 2008

 

Chickens, Chocolates and other Monsters- July 2008

Chocolate Tortillas

The family Lufkin came this year again. The last three week intensive wasn’t enough for them. And this time mama, Ali, and youngest daughter, Lara, came. She had a recently healed broken hand, and a twisted ankle slowly mending. They wanted the Family Fun Program. It’s all fun, I told them. But we did 1.5 hrs Spanish and an hour or so activity after class. One day we went to the Tortilla Factory to see how the main industry, the other factory in Yelapa is water, runs.

I made them write some questions for the employee, Esperanza. Of course, dad was going to ask questions that would embarrass the two daughters. “What happens if you add chocolate?” Jorge asked seriously (en serio). “Oh, dad, no, no no!” Lara and Hannah blushed and giggled. Well, Esperanza wasn’t surprised at all. She answered, “Everything sticks to the grill which the gas burners heat. We tried it with quesadillas.” So, no questions are too stupid in Mexico. They’ve probably already tried it.  And you can still add the chocolate afterwards, we told him, who responded with a satisfied grin.

We bought a quarter kilo of hot off the assembly line enchiladas and lunched on guacamole the girls had just made in class. When they ask you at the store, “Cuántos?” or “how many?” don’t answer “oh, 12” like my friend, Diana, did. They eat tortillas by the kilo here. She was very embarrassed as Xochitl (pronounced so-chee) counted each one out, and the women crowded around to laugh and tease her. She tried to enjoy the ribbing, pretending her face was red from sunburn.

XocoDiva – Chocolate in Mexico

One hot humid day before the rains this June, craving the cool mountain air, I fled from Yelapa and jumped on the local bus up to the comfort of San Sebastian del Oeste. It’s a pristine old mining village of 600, settled in the 1600s, only 70 km from Vallarta and up at 4,500 ft. It’s a beautiful retreat to just read a book, walk, watch birds and reflect on life.

As I read in my book, “What the Bleep Do We Really Know”, if you want to change your life, do something unusual. At this moment a table of morning-after partiers arrived at the breakfast café of the Hotel Posada del Sol where I had settled in to try to get some poached eggs. A troupe of Canadians, Americans and a few Mexicans arrived for a weekend together.

Saturday’s plans were a chocolate and wine pairing. I had never heard of such a thing. I had given up wine due to gout; the wine withdrawal just marginally less painful than the gout. Chocolate I allowed myself – only very dark chocolate brought in at my desperate request by the occasional student who offered to bring my vital needs and luxuries not to be found in Mexico.

Somehow I invited myself or was invited to the 4 pm. Wine & Chocolate Pairing at the Hotel del Puente – with only a $10 admission fee. About 25 people attended, seated in two rows along many low tables. Serving plates with carefully arranged chocolates appeared in front of each guest, with a tall glass for red wine, and a smaller glass for white wine. An info sheet claimed that the “Alzheimer’s Association has suggested that consuming dark chocolate, wine and nuts can reduce your chances of developing dementia later in life”. I hope it’s not too late for me! They’re good also for heart health, it continued.

The chocolatier, Charlotte, owns a store called Xocodiva – Artisan Chocolates in Puerto Vallarta, very conveniently located one block from the dock to/from Yelapa. I make this my final stop en route home.  Since discovering it, I seldom let my chocolate cravings go for very long. Given Mexico’s wealth of cacao, it was always a mystery to me why there was not a truly special brand of chocolate for the enlightened consumer here. It’s generally very sweet and granular, not a baker’s quality of dark chocolate. As her ad goes, “In ancient Mexico, the God Quetzalcoatl brought the gift of chocolate to the people… now Xocodiva brings hand-crafted artisan chocolates to the mortals of Puerto Vallarta.”

Charlotte truly is a goddess of chocolate. She explained the facts and how her chocolates were special. Mexico supplies only 5% of the world’s cacao, 85% coming from the Amazon basin and 15% from Trinidad. The fruit of the cacao is yellow, ovular, pear-sized or larger, and grows on the trunk of the tree. The membranous, juicy flesh is used in South America for a drink, while the cacao in Mesoamerica is used for cocoa. The pulp and the beans are fermented together. Afterwards, the seeds are roasted, winnowed and “conched” or ground in a granite stone mill.

Charlotte’s chocolates are darker and richer and better than I’ve tasted elsewhere. Her milk chocolate has 45% cocoa, most meet the minimum 15% requirement. Her dark chocolate is 70% cocoa and to this she adds the pure chocolate “nibs” or chips of pure roasted cacao beans. Her hand-rolled truffles are extremely smooth and luscious. I normally don’t like truffles!  White chocolate is really not chocolate, but cocoa butter, milk solids and emulsifiers – not much point in pretending this will satisfy your cravings! Charlotte only began her chocolate factory here in PV two years ago, and only after a very short couple of years in Victoria and in Vancouver learning the trade.

For wine pairing, the wine should be sweeter than the chocolate. We sampled dry red Pinot Noir from Argentina paired with Xocodiva’s milk chocolate with blueberry and raspberry real fruit, followed by a thick California Merlot with 70% dark chocolate medallions laced with pure cocoa nibs, then a Chilean blend of Shiraz and Malbec and  truffles, and finished with an Expresso Chocolate Flavored Vodka and more truffles. I was chocolated out! For someone who can content my cravings just by walking into a chocolate shop and smelling the chocolate aroma in the area and leaving without buying a single one, this was an orgy of chocolate. I was unrepentant. In fact, one more exquisite pyramid of milk chocolate followed the real Italian dinner that followed at Real Y Mina Italian Restaurante. For chocoholics looking for that fix, check out Charlotte’s Xocodiva at the side of the San Marina Hotel, one short block from the Los Muertos dock, open daily 10 to 10.

Safety in Mexico

Is it safe in Mexico? What about kidnapping of Americans?

Here’s one view of Mexico I share, from a man who sends me his travel blog, of his British group’s motorbike ride throughout the Americas. His thoughts from Tapanga, Columbia,

Mexico was everything we expected it to be and more, with the rich and the poor, superb beaches & mountains, wonderful history but also modern cities, as always though the people are its biggest asset who were so warm and welcoming to us, we were warned so much before entering about all the problems and crime but we saw none of it and felt safe everywhere we went.”

I can travel almost anywhere and feel not only safe, but protected. It’s a place and a culture where people will come to my aid, and extend a friendly greeting wherever I go.

Ode to Odile

A friend of mine, met first in Yelapa and known over 10 years, died on January 10th in Montreal.  She hadn’t told many, including me, that she had breast cancer. I knew she had been doing many cleanses and had stopped smoking. She said with typical understatement that she had been “very sick”. She went back to Canada for the summer, rented her house out, optimistic of a return. I called when I returned in October several times and there was no message and no answer.  I’d like to tell her I remember her kindnesses. I also remember her incredible eye to perfection and her exquisite voice.

Once at Elena and Allan’s wedding I looked back at the restaurant to see what music they were playing, not recognizing the stellar voice. It was my friend, Odile, live. On another occasion, she wrote, directed and starred as Josephine Baker in Paris at the Starlight Theater in Vallarta. A French Canadian, a theatre and art school graduate and seasoned actress and chanteuse, she was a natural and she drew many, despite the fact she was singing in French in a Spanish-speaking country to a mostly English-speaking crowd.

She had many talents and rare gifts. She dabbled in the tarot, the I Ching and had trained in healing rituals of the Sechelt Nation indigenous people on the west coast of Canada. When my mom died, she performed these for me and to aid my mother’s soul passing on.

I have been thinking a lot of her lately, months later after the busy season ended. In fact, I’ve been getting messages from her. Two “friend” networks on the internet, that I’m not a member of, keep sending me notices that Odile has contacted me. “Am I a friend of Odile?” they ask. I was walking past the main cathedral near the seawall (el malecón) in Vallarta the other day, and thought of her again. There was a good place in a small chapel off the main cathedral where I had spent moments to meditate on my mother’s passing years ago, and I headed there. I asked the universe if there was a message. I asked Odile if there was a message, a request of some sort. Instantly, my cell phone rang. It was Pamela, the vet, asking for some medical supplies.

Since Odile’s passing, another two friends resident in Yelapa, one from British Columbia, another from Oregon also passed away; the first from a sudden and fatal heart attack, the other from a severe lung infection. Both had wished to pass swiftly according to family, and both were granted this wish. I’m more aware of life and death here than anywhere else I’ve lived. I feel it’s good to be aware of the time that we have and appreciate it.

Professionalism versus Personalism

Teaching has its challenges. Of course every job does. In a small village, where everyone knows your trade, you can never bask in anonymity, away from your trade’s demands. The vet told me that there’s nowhere she can go without an animal being presented to her or someone describing their pet’s maladies. I don’t pretend that running a language school and teaching Spanish has such urgency, but sometimes the help required extends far beyond the bounds of the profession’s definitions.

Students have come to me late at night to rouse me out from the covers to go to the medical clinic. Parents have come desperate to determine which bug might be the villain and how to remove it from their house to stop biting their children. I’ve helped on shopping trips for supplies to outfox the marauding raccoons. I’ve searched for lost luggage and where to track it down once it’s put on a boat. If I had a peso for every travel consultation, I’d be vacationing in Mexico. I helped sort out the problem when a student grossly overpaid the boat ride and other bills by using $200 peso bills instead of $20 peso bills,  among the many needs.

Most language schools are closed after 7, some don’t even open until 10 a.m. and the message machine is the only contact on the weekend. These professionals after hours are massaging their aches and re-energizing their anima or spirit.  I hadn’t till thought of hanging a “closed” sign out.

The setting creates that dependency here. It’s a small town. Everyone knows where you live, probably where you’ve gone for the moment and what you’re capable of doing, besides what you do.  Class at my home can have that “breakfast club” feel to it, not surprising since I owned a Bed and Breakfast in Canada for 11 years. It’s the kind of school I’d like to come to study in. The walk up the hill is a little daunting the first time, but past trees full of swarming parakeets or jousting San Blas Jays versus the Caciques. The school really is a small palm-thatched hut on the edge of the jungle, but how nice to feel included in nature, squirrels and lizards winding their ways through the trees, along with the birds looking in on our presence. La profesora might have fought off raccoons, invading army ants or dispatched a scorpion or two during the night and look a little weary from the battles fought and won, but where else can you get a story and an education?

Late in Mexico

It seems to us gringos that time is of all importance. I can hear from the retirement camp saying I move too fast, and the other camp saying I’m late! It’s hard to be late when you live at your school. Late is a relative concept in Mexico. Especially here in Yelapa, where everything is done on foot and communication is almost all by word of mouth along the same footpath. Most people here do not wear a watch, and it will be one of the first things shed, along with the heavier clothing. I’m one of the few here who knows the time (but not necessarily the date!).

Then there’s tradesmen late, when a plumber can arrive a year later in September of the next year, as has happened to me in Canada, or carpenters come for ½ hr each day and successfully extend a 7 hr job over 2 weeks as happened to me here. One man told me his ex-boss saw him 4 years later here in Yelapa and said, “Your two week vacation is long over. When are you coming back to work?”

April’s Chickens

I don’t get to go to the Passion Flower Gardens to eat April’s excellent home cooked food very often. My classes run in the late afternoon and her guests arrive at 6, eat everything, and by 7 watch a movie. I can sometimes count on a dessert. Now that classes are mostly done, I can pace myself to get there. I actually showed up early, a few minutes before six yesterday. The friends of the cook had already eaten their blackberry pie and smoked some marijuana (they definitely inhaled). Well, I noticed a  brown chicken on the table – very silently seated right next to the 30 “ TV screen, tucked behind various piles of pirated DVDs and videos. I thought April should know and chase it away.

“Oh, yeah. She’s been there a while. I ate the first 5 eggs she laid, and then Jose (her partner) convinced me to leave her to lay and raise her brood.”

They’re into raising chickens. They started a small coop out front, and even have a fighting cock that’s Jose’s project. They have an incubator, and set some fertilized eggs for her grandson, Chandler, who was visiting a short while back. They hatched and he carried them around and doted over them. They had their own little box they would sleep in.

“Richard came over from Pizota to take care of the place”, she continued. “We forgot to tell him what was what here and he said anytime he sat down, there were chicks jumping into his lap, and he couldn’t understand why.”

This was pretty funny, even without the marijuana. The brown hen sat through it all on the table, unaffected, 10 inches from the TV screen, looking in the other direction, not even watching the good parts of the movie.

It’s not uncommon to see chickens running into and out of houses when you visit the rural area of Yelapa upriver. They often dash in after a bug; or are fed a handful of rice on the floor. I always wait for a reaction from someone who thinks farm animals shouldn’t be in the house. It never happens.

In fact, chickens are highly recommended for every household by the national health ministry. They eat scorpions. Aside from sweeping every corner of your house out daily, “Keep Chickens” are their instructions. They’re also by far the most versatile food item in the country. I’m sure many of you travelers who’ve been kept up at night have relished the thought of terminating the neighbourhood rooster or gallo. They’re oblivious of the hour and very competitive crooners. But as in my favorite child’s song, Doña Cocorica, by Francisco Gabilondo Soler (Cri Cri to Mexicans), the hen tells about papa,

A diario temprano se oye su voz

Y es porque ordena que salga el sol

Every day early you can hear his voice,

And it’s by his order that the sun gets up.

The defense rests its case.

The Poor Iguana Had her Eggs

Yelapa is never dull. One Saturday afternoon after hours of notable encounters and events, I retreated home to work that I am still putting off.  Well, there by my YESI sign on the path, was Pamela, the vet, her mom, her daughter, and a small crowd of children standing under a small tree. “You’ll never guess what I’m doing!” Pamela exclaimed. She couldn’t wait to inform me. She was catching eggs. They were falling out of the tree. “The iguana couldn’t make it to the hospital on time. Está echando huevos. She’s having eggs” Sure enough, in the tree about fifteen feet up was a nice grey and green iguana, about 18 inches long, I estimated.

“Look! Look! She’s ready! She’s laying another one. Look she’s contracting.” Then, “The cloaca is opening. Here it comes!” was her running commentary. There were eggs on the street when some kids ran to tell her about the iguana. A horse had actually even stepped on one and it didn’t break.  I won´t bet that that iguana is going to be normal! But the eggs definitely bounce. They’re quite rubbery.

How many eggs does an iguana lay? Pamela guessed maybe twenty. After gathering small crowds to catch the eggs, and placing each in the growing pile, someone asked if anyone had a pareo, or sarong. I had been carrying around two and half meters of lovely black linen for pants I wanted made. We made lots of bombero or fire fighter jokes, and held out the tarp and made the job of catching eggs a little less a heroic feat of athletics. After over an hour, Pamela and those willing to witness this miracle to its completion, reported over 35 eggs were laid. These eggs are only slightly smaller than a small chicken egg. Imaginate! Imagine carrying that many in your body. Small wonder the poor girl couldn’t wait to find a nice place in a sandy forest somewhere. Or maybe this was once her sandy forest?

Andrea, an elder from the upriver El Paso colonia or district told us her sons had witnessed iguanas laying eggs in the woods in the warm sand. She said it would be about three weeks before they hatched. These eggs were warm. Reptiles are not! Hmmm. Pamela has them at home in her garden. We’ll be watching the calendar waiting for three dozen baby iguanas to hatch and will inform you when to hand out cigars.

Family and Children’s Spanish

I’ve learned lots from the families and children who come here to study. Late April I had Jorge and Ali Lufkin and their girls, Hannah and Lara, from Leadville, Colorado. In June, Kara and Henry’s three children, Max and Alex, twin girl and boy of seven years, and younger Ella, at four years of age, came to school four days a week for a month, 3 hours daily. Gil joined us from the neighbouring village of Boca, a rookie teacher but with a father’s experience of two young boys, almost four and five years of age.

It was as much fun planning the classes and activities, listening to countless versions of children’s songs to find the right one, as it was to respond to the divergent interests and energies of three very physical, creative and responsive children. Then we had a week when another young troupe of two, Calvin and Autumn, aged 8 and 6, joined us with their mom, Pamela from near Virginia.

The Activity Hour usually extended long beyond the designated time daily. We had a blast!  We visited the tortilla factory, watching tortillas come off the gas fired assembly line into our basket; rode burros to an upriver swimming hole, went to Isabel’s beach to snorkel and identify reef fish, made a net to catch insects which were quickly adapted to catch the millions of tadpoles in the lagoon; painted rocks and walking canes, buried each other in the sand and built sand castles, visited Kuka’s farm to see, pet and hold the animals we’d sung many songs about: “Los pollitos dicen pío, pío, pío, Cuando tienen hambre, cuando tienen frío.” The chicks say pee-oh, pee-oh, pee-oh, when they’re hungry and when they’re cold. Chicks pío in Spanish, it seems just to rhyme with “frío”.

For me the highlight was the school visit to the Grade One class. We rehearsed a song, “De Colores” about beautiful people of all colors knowing about liberty and shaking hands, and being brothers, enjoying the beauty of nature. And we added one children´s verse of roosters crowing, chickens calling. We also worked on some pretty imaginative questions; “What´s your favorite game? What pet animals do you have? They sang “Pin Pon es un muñeco” (Pin Pon is a doll) and all twenty of them, answered our questions con mucho gusto- with much pleasure.

Pamela brought a huge duffel bag of skipping ropes, sidewalk chalk, colouring materials and many gifts, which along with other gifts brought by other students amounted to a Christmas in June fiesta for the Grade One class.

For those of you with kids, I can send info for recommended picture, activity and games books and some music, if you write. For those interested in making a donation, we’re raising funds to build a playground set – monkeybars, swings, see-saw, etc.

Mexican Beaded Lizard

A season can’t go by, without me writing about some biting insect or animal story.  I sit presently at my computer with the screen coated with a host of various sized unidentified bichos. As the mayates (quarter-sized brown beefy, sticky flying bug) fly in at me, I pick them up and throw them out again through the same window, almost as fast as they fly in. My joy at this game faded fast, when one of them was holding a small piece of paper with some gem of info.

One of the kid´s games we played this summer was a Bingo with insect names and pictures. There were at least 45 insect names in Spanish. The kids had no trouble with the task. Oddly, a bingo game of body parts doesn’t fascinate them as much.

Tonight at supper, I described a big black alacran (scorpion) that was in my bathroom sink this morning. I told my dinner friends that my students are always anxious and ask about the insects, especially after they read my blog. One woman who has lived here many years said, “The bugs are exactly WHY I came here!”  She topped me with her story of “evil critter of the day”. Un escorpion was in her house. Escorpion is the name the locals have for the Mexican Beaded Lizard, which is not commonly seen.  Oddly enough, the other diner, Ron, who lives up the hill not very far above me, saw one on the trail and his landlord cut one up when he trimmed the buganvilia recently.

The male can be up to 40 inches (90 cm) in length, half of which is tail, and usually weigh no more than 10 lbs (4 kg). They bite, and the lower ridged teeth have a venom gland. Although rarely do people die from the venom, it can be extremely painful.  They are so unique, people breed them for sale. Every zoo seems to want one, and there are even websites selling the venom! They are found on the Pacific side of Mexico from Sonora state south to southwestern Guatemala, and in two drainages on the Atlantic side. They are reported to be active only one hour per day and usually at night. They’re also only seen from April to mid-November. They are called “beaded” since they have a tiny piece of bone in their skin that gives them an armor-plated exterior. They are carnivores but only feed on small animals and eggs, usually below the surface. They attack humans only defensively when humans molest or capture them.

The lady in Yelapa killed the escorpion in her house after a real struggle, and left it dead on the path without a front foot, back foot and head. When she asked the two passers by afterwards what they thought of the escorpion, they said they hadn’t seen it. Mexicans say you have to kill it at its “centre”, which is the hip region (la cadera). Hard to believe that without a head, it could be mobile. (” It’s only a flesh wound!”)  It appears that in true monster fashion, it slunk off into the jungle, and may be back looking for revenge.

Mexico´s Women Need a Strong Back

This title is not news. A handmade tortilla is so much better than a machine made one even with the same “masa harina” or corn flour. So, with the homemade-is-best attitude and poverty dictating life, any houseware conveniences are still antiquated. The washing machine used by my mother was a wringer type – top loading with a central pivoting column in the basin and two rollers up top to press the water out. They sell them here, but without the wringer. Imagine. You load the water and detergent and let the clothes swash around for a while. Then you take out all that clothing, the heavy jeans, the huge sheets, and wring them out by hand!  For this, one pays a price of $250. One could just as easily fill a tub and ask the kids to jump around in the tub with clean feet for 10 minutes and it would do the same. Just hold the chlorine bleach! An updated machine with electrical controls and a spin cycle costs $500. The women buying these cheaper models are the ones who have ten kids at home and could really use the help and labor-saving, but can’t afford more.

I asked why the stores don’t sell the top wringer type. One store owner was angry and nearly threw me out seemingly threatened by a women’s liberation movement I might start. Another store explained that they used to sell them but the women didn’t like the buttons getting crushed. Better a button than a vertebra, I say!

Well, you’ll also find the treadle sewing machine still for sale along side the wringerless washing machines –with the foot pedal, totally mechanical, still in common use today.

Welcome to Tijuana! – Luis’s Tale

Many Mexicans have the dream of living and working “al Otro Lado” – on the other side. An illegal crossing of the border is involved with its risks and difficulties. Many use a “coyote” – an agent- to smuggle them across. My landlord, Angel, has crossed a few times, the last time at least ten years ago. Until recently it cost $1,000 to $2,000/person.

Our friend, Luis, is originally from Tijuana and still has kids there. From the famous Tía Juana – Aunt Jean who sold sandwiches on main street. Must have been pretty good sandwiches. The Manu Chao song goes, “Welcome to Tijuana, Tequila, Sex y Marijuana!

Luis has lived here for 5 years. He just returned to Yelapa, very happy to be back. He had decided in March to go to the U.S. to be with his American sweetheart. Texas Don told me one day, “I was watching TV the other night and heard about a boat of Mexicans picked up off the San Diego coast. I hope that wasn’t Luis.” Well, sure enough! Luis called from jail with a horrific story. One of many you’re likely to hear from any Mexican entering illegally.

He was on a small boat in the Pacific, with a single motor, with capacity for four people. There were fifteen of them, including the coyotes. They were out in Mexican waters and slowly drifted into U.S. waters, trying not to arouse suspicion. The rendezvous boat didn’t arrive and the motor failed. Luis asked, “Is there a Plan B? Surely you must have some kind of safety plan?” Well, no, they’d never had trouble before. For this skilful planning and execution, they charged $5,000 a head. “Coyote” is a term inferring sneaky and clever, not dumb.

They drifted around the first night in calm waters, the second night slightly rougher and the third night in terrifying waters. No one had any food or water, either. That third night someone removed a part from the motor, not having any real idea what they were doing. They sprung a leak and some one bailed the night away. The next morning a boat was cruising nearby and Luis lit his shirt on fire and flagged it down.

Upon arrival the cops detained the lot of them. The coyotes horrifically identified Luis as the driver, and it took a lot of work to convince the cops otherwise. He spent one and a half months in federal prison since now he was a material witness. He was only released on a $5,000 bond paid by his girlfriend. When they didn’t need him to testify any longer, they deported him – personal service to the border where they took his picture and said “adios”.  He went to the bus station and bought a ticket on the midnight bus.

“Sorry, sweetheart”, he said to his gal, “But I live in Mexico and I’m going back to Yelapa.” He thought she’d say “adios” too, but it turns out they’re planning to buy a house, and she’s moving to Vallarta come December. Love conquers La Aduana – Department of Immigration .

About seven years ago I read a Latin American paper in Vancouver that claimed 400 people died each year crossing the border. Those were the official stats. The number is likely quite a bit higher. This story has its happy ending. Many aren’t so lucky. Welcome to Tijuana, Tequila, Sex y Marijuana. Bienvenido a tu pena , Welcome to your pain. Bienvenido a mi suerte. Welcome to my luck. Bienvenido a la muerte. Welcome to death. Por el  pan Americana. For American bread. (= $).

The inequality and conditions that drive so many Mexicans north looking for something better, caused the Chiapas Revolution and will possibly arouse others. Hopefully we can stem that need and that exodus by changing things here in Mexico.

Study Spanish with the Teacher on the Road

Please check out this year’s Yelapa English Spanish Institute offerings at www.talkadventures.com If you have some Beginner level Spanish, bone up with a review and then come study on the road with us and apply it on a guided tour to one of several destinations  – Tepic, San Blas, Laguna de Santa Mario de Oro Patzcuaro (Day of the Dead and the Monarch Butterfly hibernation site), San Sebastian, Mascota, Talpa. (also view at the new www.studySpanishontheRoad.com (under construction).

Chickens, Chocolate and other Monsters

 

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13 responses to “Chickens, Chocolate and other Monsters – July 2008

  1. The writing is really wonderful, and is such a pleasure to read.

    • thanks Velene.. I’m just about to publish another one any day. I’ve been off the habit and I’m SO enjoy writing about what happens here that’s it a pleasure writing. I’m off to Pto Vallarta but will look at your website as I’d like to see what you do too! Really appreciate your comments. saludos cordiales, Juanita/ Jeannie

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