Saturday, April 19, 2008

Sal, Sal, Sal!

"Sal" is Espanol for salt! The Yucatan produces about two thirds of all the salt consumed in Mexico. The Rio Lagarto area at the North East area of the state of Yucatan is where they produce it. Rio Lagarto is a large area and is best known for it’s bio reserve. A facility called “Las Coloradas” is the largest production center in the Yucatan. If you’d like to see more on this facility please click on this link

You are probably asking yourselves why am I talking about salt? Well, when we remodeled the casa we were advised to install a water softener system. It helps to keep the calcium deposits from building up on the fixtures, the tile and the interior of pipes. The system uses sal for the processing of the water. We use about twenty-five kilos (55 lbs) per week at about 43 pesos per twenty-five kilo bag or for my peso challenged friends $4.00US per bag.

I actually started out purchasing fifty kilo bags (110 lbs) but the old back started to protest and reminded me that all the body parts were supposed to be retired! LOL!
Each Monday I dump one bag into the plastic tub that holds the salt for the softener system. Every two months, give or take a couple weeks, I drive over to the Salinera warehouse and purchase ten bags.
This is me driving down Avenida Itzaes on my way to the warehouse.

Yes, my knee was on the steerring wheel! LOL!

This picture is the entrance to the warehouse area. It's called "Centro De Abastos" and it's a commercial area where many items such as fruit, flowers, vegetables, etc come into the city and then are sold and delivered from the area.

After entering the warehouse area there are rows of buildings with loading docks and serious activity going on. Since this is a wholesale area the activity is fierce in the mornings and slowly calms down as the day wears on.

All the produce, flowers, fruits, etc are trucked in from other parts of the Yucatan and surrounding states.

It's just fun to sit and watch all the goings on!

It's a great place to explore but you need to stay out of the way so on to the salinera warehouse.

Here's the Taurus backed up to the dock ready to be loaded. The salt that I purchase is like rock salt.

The interior of the warehouse.

I have never asked how many different types or sizes of salt they have.
These are a couple of guys from the warehouse and they are preparing the mid day meal. I was invited to stay but since the preparations were just getting under way I didn't have the time to spare. Maybe next time!

This handsome man ("guapo" in espanol) is Ricardo who is the boss ("hefe" in espanol).

I feel fortunate meeting Ricardo as he is one of the nicest people I have met since moving here to Merida. He speaks pretty good ingles and he practices his ingles on me. I can only hope that one day my spanish will be as good as his ingles.

He is kind in allowing me to practice my limited spanish with him.

Well, after visiting and getting caught up he has one of his employees load up the salt and I'm ready to head back to the house and unload. Good to go for another two months.

Thanks Ricardo! Muchimos gracias!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Stuff and Memories

I am often astonished by what spurs me to think about certain things on any given day. Music certainly steers the mind in specific directions. Aromas can take us to places we have visited and gastronomic events in our lives. In addition there is the “STUFF” that sits, hangs, and lays around the house year after year. Though often taken for granted as it sits, hangs, and lays around the house it does bring up memories and give us pause to ponder.

Stuff that sparks memories is the basis for this blog.

Our ayudo, Marta, didn’t show up last week which was a bit disappointing but not a catastrophe by any means. We managed to clean the house without her help. Yes, we still remember how! LOL! However, this week when the time for her to be here came and went we both figured that she wasn’t coming again. Or worse, she quit. Yes, it happens, domestic help quitting w/o notice. Unheard of you say? Quitting w/o notice?????? What about a reference, and, and……...not! At $15.US a day none of that stuff is relevant but getting more money is! She showed up a bit late as happens frequently. She has three children and they certainly come first, long before the cleaning of our humble abode.

Anyway before she arrived at the casa, we figured that we’d be cleaning again so Debi and I both started in. I am not vertically challenged so there had been a few tall/higher/upper areas that had caught my attention lately. Why? I have no idea as I seldom see much of anything and that fact can be attested to by Debi. No matter, I got a bucket and rags and the vacuum and started in. No the cleaning isn’t the important part but thank you for thinking I’m a good husband and very helpful around the house. I appreciate the thought but I think the jury is still out on that one! Debi is the judge and jury on that subject as well! LOL! Regardless, the important thing that was happening is that I was picking up the “stuff’ that sits or hangs around. Doing this gave me cause to pause and reflect. Ok, I know what you’re thinking, “that was the end of the cleaning for Tom”! However my friends you are sooooo wrong as I actually finished cleaning everything I had planned on cleaning. And at the same time I got this idea for a blog. Wow, I was rolling, multi tasking and all that! LOL! It was a good day!

Now for the disclaimer…..this blog posting is not intended to prioritize, list in order of who or what we like best, nor does it cover all our friends. I will say that the "stuff" mentioned has been out or hung, or exposed since the day we got them and have never been packed away except for transportation requirements.

We have been fortunate in meeting the people we have as we mosey down the various roads in our lives. We have most excellent friends, outstanding memories, and many people who have played a part in our make up! So to you all, mentioned or not, we love ya!

I am not going to go into a long history of all the "stuff" but I will give a brief ditty on them. Some ditties may be longer than others and may fall out of the “brief ditty” category and for that I apologize! NOT!

The oldest and one of the most cherished items came from our oldest friends Pam and Gary. (Not old in age but in length of time in harness as friends.) Pam was maid of honor and Gary was the best man at our wedding. My nickname for Pam was “legs” as she had a pair of gams that were just too perfect for words. Atta’ girl Pammy! We were caretakers on a 31acre farm right outside the city of Alexandria, VA. We lived in an old two story farm house. The only interior plumbing was the kitchen sink, there was a two holer 50 yards out the back door, and the only heat was a kerosene heater in the kitchen that we put in. It was our hippie haven where all our friends would hang out. Our marriage ceremony was held on the side yard of the house. We decided to move to Colorado and this box was made by them and given to us just prior to leaving. There has always been a place for it. For a long time it was out stash box and we now use it to hold incense.

Their gift was more apropos than we could have ever imagined. Little did we know that the compass points on the lid of the box were a mere glimpse of the travels to come in our lives.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! Also while we lived in Virginia I met another Gary who became my best friend. He has a most lovely wife, Kathryn and he comes from a super family. Debi and I have basically been adopted by his family and we have spent some of the most wonderful days of our lives with them. After our move to Colorado our get togethers were less frequent but nonetheless great! Gary introduced me to Port wine, 1985 Whidbeys to be exact and we have been fellow Port sippers ever since! Ok, maybe we gulp from time to time! LOL! He also got me into a few other bad habits and I love them all!

Wine in general brings to mind many other friends and everytime I pop a cork I think of Randy and Gary. What good times and what great wines we had.

Upon arriving in Colorado the first door we knocked on was answered by Greg! Greg was with Tonya and we all became friends and are now very good friends. We hope to see them down here this year! In the beginning things were a bit rough and thru hard work and keeping to the path we all seemed to have gotten to a place where the struggles are a bit easier and life is good! This photo was taken by them on one of their journeys into Italy. It was one of their favorite pictures and they brought us wine all the way back over the pond. So what’s not to like about that! LOL! How things have changed over the years and how fortunate we are to have them as friends.

Also shortly after arriving in Colorado we meet Jeff and Amber who were friends of Greg and Tonya. We became great friends and we stood up for them at their wedding as best man and bridesmaid. We had so many good times and the memories that we have of them are genuine treasures! KNOTS! They were/are both into fiber arts and that is how they made their living. The three pieces shown were made for me by Jeff. The first two were kind of experimental as he/they were always changing and moving in new directions with their art.

The coil basket below was a standard for Jeff and he was very successful at crafting and selling them. There has not been a day that has passed that I have not looked into or touched this basket as it is my “stuff” basket. I put my glasses there every night and so many other things that I use daily. You can see it's far from empty!

Around the same time we met Rod. He is truly a gem and one of the most genuinely peaceful and good people we have had the fortune to ever meet. He is a wonderful artist and we have many of his wonderful paintings. These are just three of them. Rod’s best work is himself, at least how he shares himself, and being around him is tranquil and loving.

Continuing on with meeting people there was Gene and we actually met on a Park & Rec sponsored rustic Thanksgiving Day event. You know, log cabins in the boonies, cooking the “bird” on a wood stove, etc, etc. It was a great time and he was the catalyst that got me started working for the City from which I retired. This picture was taken when he was on a trip in NY and decided to do some exploring. He wasn’t exactly sure where he was but got to take this picture of this mural that was on the surface of the sidewalk and gave us a copy. His story of the photo along with just being Gene makes us glad that we haven’t had to “Imagine” what our lives would be like if they weren’t touched by him.

Another good friend John along with Gene were my hacky sack buds and we’d hacky just about every where!

To our dog Jenney and to her favorite stuffed animal and the only one that lasted her entire life. I love you Jenney! (Ok, this one wasn't sitting out so I had to get it out!)

To Patt, my sister. I love you!
To my child hood! It was a very good time….thanks Mom and Dad!

To Dave and Elaina our good friends, fellow divers and lovers of Mexican food. Living vicariously thru David’s travels and adventures and seeing pictures and videos of those travels were amazing. The walking stick and the tribesmen are from Africa and are prized possessions.

Bob, our friend and ex-neighbor is one of those people that will try anything, won’t say “can’t” until he tries and is gifted in so many ways. We shared many good times and hopefully many more! Can you say "pork noodle bowl?"

To the Andersons and the great Christmas parties and a darn good daughter that knows how to keep a good tradition going!! Thanks Kris! You da’ bomb babe!

To Richard and Marie for their unending ability to share their most tranquil lives and this dragon from their garden.

So I guess I’m saying that even though we’re far apart and not always or often in touch you are with us and we feel your presence. We have never forgotten nor will we ever forget as you all have been and are part of our journey and will always be part of our lives.
Take care!