Tuesday, August 25, 2015

First Day Of School 2015 - Escuela Del Mundo

Back to school day at our school in the jungle, Escuela Del Mundo. Hard to believe this is the 5th back to school day here in Sayulita.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Local Music Video - John Welsh - "Sayulita"

Kind of fun. Sayulita has been the inspiration for a number of musical efforts. Here is one I just came across. Enjoy!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Habla Español? Oui Oui!

I met my neighbor who lives next to my workshop last week. A French Canadian who has moved to Mexico in retirement. He does not speak English so we made introductions and spoke in Spanish. Speaking to someone with French accent in Spanish had to be one of my biggest language challenges yet. Consider speaking Spanish with Inspector Clouseau from the Pink Panther movies and you will get the idea. Hurts my brain.

Friday, August 7, 2015

The Land Rover Sold! But There Is A Big Problem. We Did NOT Sell It!

Once we purchased our Eco Sport, the Land Rover became our second string vehicle.  It ate a lot of fuel and it was at a point where it always needed something repaired including over $1,000 USD to get the front end rebuilt.  There was a list of other problems as well.  In other words, to fix it up would cost a whole lot more than it was worth.  So what do we do?  We could continue to let it deteriorate parked in front of our house.  We could also take to the border and sell it up in Tuscon, Arizona but the cost of getting it road trip worthy, fuel costs and other expenses made it clear it was not the best choice.  Now what do we do?  Though we loved our Land Rover and had been good us, we had a truck that just needed to go away.

Our hopes were answered when the father of one of Traces's good buddies at school heard we wanted to get rid of it.  He also had a Land Rover of the same model and similar year and he was looking for affordable parts to use.  Perfect!!  The deal was for $2,000 USD.   It just so happened that he was a furniture maker.  Even better!  We had just moved into a new house and needed some things like tables, dressers etc that were surely needed in the partially furnished home we rented.  He would partially pay off the truck with custom furniture and the remainder with cash and in the end all responsibility for the vehicle would be his.  What a great solution!

Getting ready to cross the border in September 2011

We put our furniture order in and he began to work on it when his Land Rover broke down and needed parts.  Being a decent guy, knowing he was in a jamb and understanding that without a truck he wouldn't be able to produce our furniture nearly as fast, I gave him the keys to the truck to begin using it for parts.  Our boys continued to play together and I would see him or his wife at school almost everyday.  We received two great tables and we were happy so far.  All good.

One day I saw on his Facebook Page that he had dislocated his shoulder surfing and only his apprentice had been working on furniture orders.  Why our remaining order was taking so long was now clear. Hopefully, in a few weeks he would be out of this sling and working again and eventually he would get back to work.

This hope instantly vanished a few weeks later speaking to another parent from school when he just casually mentioning that he and his family were headed out my furniture maker's "going away party"?  Going away?  WTF!?!?!?  By this time, he had only partially fulfilled his furniture order and had provided NO cash.  I immediately called him and his phone had been disconnected.  Fcking great!  I headed out to San Pancho to see if I could find him at home but the place he was living was dark.  I did find his workshop a few doors down and saw our sad Land Rover partially dismantled sitting there in the dark.

Just as I was about to leave fuming, when he and his family came around the corner to find me in front of their house.  His pregnant wife, his boy, his baby all piled out of their now perfectly running Land Rover and I settled in for an explanation.  This had better be good right?  Amid frequent apologies he told me of how he was unable to keep up with orders and bills during the time he was injured.  He had a baby coming in a few months and when an offer came to leave and stay with family in Argentina they were quick to take it.  The offer came in and they decided to leave within three days leaving some people in the dark, including some they owed a good chunk of money to.  He assured me that the Land Rover, in it's current dismantled condition, would be fine where it was and they had hoped to come back to San Pancho in a few months once the baby was born and they were back on their feet.  Paying back money owed along the way.  I sat there in the dark with them apologizing, his wife crying her eyes out with no real solutions.  Only promises.  It wasn't like I could just demand my money or even take our truck since it could no longer run.  They were in a bad spot. We enjoyed hanging out with them and having their son over to play with Trace.  He was a Brit and she was from Argentina.  Nice people.  All I could was drive off and hope that all their hopes and promises became reality someday soon after they got things sorted out.

Loading up the Land Rover almost four years ago.
...but it does not end there.

A few months after this family left,  I was again visiting with a parent from school who knew of our Land Rover fiasco.  He knew our story.  Our Land Rover was dead, dissected and left to rot under a tree in a back yard in San Pancho...or so we thought.  This parent told me he had seen our truck on the side of the road in a new location in town.  What?  It moved?  Who did it and why?  It was supposed to stay where it was.  The landlord of the house where the truck was had it moved near the house where he currentlylived and there it sat on the side of the road.  I can understand that if the landlord needed it removed for renting the house he needed to put it someplace but now our sad truck was now in full public view, collecting dust and appeared abandon.  This was not fair to the neighbors or to the very tidy pueblo of San Pancho so Ashley and I discussed having it towed to my shop location that had large lot we could store it on.  The problem was the question of what promises our furniture maker may have made to the landlord if any.  Did he"give" the Land Rover to the landlord for payment of back rent?  Did the landlord think the truck abandoned and felt he had a right to the vehicle.  We still had the title and the car keys but felt like we just couldn't yank it off the street without speaking with this guy first to find out more.  Yes, we still owned the truck but we wanted to do this delicately considering what discussions may have taken place without our knowledge.

We enlisted the same parent from school to help us out since he knew the truck story and also knew the landlord who was in possession of the truck.  As we prepared to contact the landlord we got word that the truck was no longer on the street where it had been.  Had it been towed?  Was someone driving it?   Where the hell was it?  Our names were still legally associated with the truck if anything happened.  Not a good situation to be in.  Turns out another family had it who lived across town.  So, we went to look and sure enough it was where we were told it was except it looked like someone was actually taking care of it now.  It no longer had an abandoned car look with headlights missing, front grill broken and months of debris built up on the hood...it looked... LOVED.

...but it does not end there.

With my friend in tow to translate we visited the family who now apparently now had "ownership" of the truck.  It turns out that the landlord who moved the truck totally overhauled the vehicle replacing missing or non-working parts, cleaned the thing up, got it running and sold it.  Yes, SOLD IT!?!  He sold it for cash and a golf cart trade.  Much better deal than we had struck many months earlier.  We made sure that this family knew we were NOT looking to reclaim the vehicle at this point or demand payment.  We also did not want to deal with the landlord who sold it to them in the first place.  He may have felt he "owned" the truck based on this discussions with the furniture maker and had every right to sell it in some Mexico way.  If there was going to be any discussion concerning the sale of the truck it was going to be between the landlord and this family on their own terms without us in the middle.  We just want to start the process to legally hand over the truck to this new family and remove our names from the vehicle and any responsibilities that we had to it.  We would take the loss, not cause any ill will or conflict.  We felt that was the only way to handle it at this point.

It turns out that this family was very happy that I had made the effort to stop by and did not want to cause any problems.  They wanted to legally import the vehicle into Mexico but the title, which we still had, would make the process much easier.  They have connections in the motor vehicles department who would help them get the process done.  The process is close to being complete now and hopefully soon the Land Rover will continue to live on with a new family and we will see it drive by once in a while.

...and that's the end of the story...we think...we hope.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Watch Chrissy Teigen and Captain Morgan Take the Beach In Sayulita

We have seen Sayulita become the location for commercials, TV and movies.  No, certainly not a sleepy little village anymore.

Who the hell is Chrissy Teigen?  Anyway, Sayulita seems to have attracted the "Captain" for his latest ad campaign.  

ABC's The Bachelor In Paradise has been filming here too.  Ashley will love this one.  Check out this link.  http://www.sayulitabeach.com/playa-escondida-to-be-featured-as-primary-location-of-abcs-new-series-bachelor-in-paradise/  Bachelor in Paradise, will kick off in a two-night event the nights of August 2nd and 3rd.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Circo de los Niños

This post is a long time coming but in reality the training for the Circo del los Niños  program continued until a few weeks ago.

The Circo de los Niños program in San Pancho is how we pretty much spent the first three months of the year.  What is it?  It is best described from their website.

In 2011, Cirque du Soleil co-founder and Creative Guide Gilles Ste-Croix and his wife Monique Voyer approached Entreamigos ( a community center and educational program) with the idea of creating a circus show with the children of San Pancho. With help of some friends from Canada, Cirrus Cirkus, Cirque du Soleil’s program Circo del Mundo who donate some equipments, and the help of 100’s local volunteers, the first Circo de Los Niños Show was presented on March 2011 as a fundraising for Entreamigos.

In the summer 2014, we requested the use of an old warehouse in the village from The Nayarit Government to set up the Circo de los Niños program. Entreamigos had previously housed the project since 2011, but the space had become too small with all the new circus equipment. After an elaborate refitting, the new Bodega Circo opened at the end of October. New teachers were hired to implement a revised teaching program and 67 students registered for the first cycle.

The kids joined the program in January and trained for 3 months for the big production that occurred just before spring break.  Everyone of all skill levels is welcome.  For three to five days a week the kids reported to the new training facility for practice.  They learned tumbling, trampoline, acrobatics, trapeze, slack line and more.  The hierarchy of who does what is decided on who has been in the program for the longest and developed a certain level of skill.  In other words, for the kid's first production the kids did not do too much while the kids who had been in the program since it's creation a few years ago featured prominently in the show.  Lots of work for very little stage time but that is the nature of things.  If you want to do the coolest things and a place in the spotlight then you have to pay your dues for a while.  A good lesson and obvious when you see some of the kids flipping through the air and some having a hard time doing a somersault.  I think Alex loved the costumes and glam of the whole thing while Trace was a little frustrated he needed to be hanging around and waiting to practice the part of the show he was involved with but was glad to be there with his buddies every training session.  When there was action to be had he enjoyed it.  The photos here are from a variety of amazing photographers and clearly some of our own.  

The cast.

Alex backstage.
Trace gets his makeup.

Volunteers keep the kids busy while waiting backstage.

Rehearsal.  Trace in the foreground.

Alex backstage stretching.
Trace backstage.  Yes, this is our son.

Alex backstage at the wardrobe area.
The Circo bodega entrance.

Alex after the final show.

Trace after the final show.

Entertainment outside the venue while waiting to be seated.

Amazing costumes.

Stilt walker outside the performance.

Alex with new and old friends backstage.

Lights, smoke, costumes.
The Circo de los Niños website gallery has an amazing collection of pro shots of the performances that ran for a total of four days so be sure to check those out.  They will certain give you an appreciation of the scope and size of the production beyond the handful of photos of our kids here.  Once the performances were over and the kids, parents and amazing volunteers had a chance to catch their breath, training resumed for the remainder of the school year.  With no performance looming at the end of the training period, the kids were full on training for two months learning even more skills.  Trace preferred the acrobatics since it related well to his love of Capoeira and Alex like the trapeze and silks.

Trace on the slack line, working hard.
Alex acrobatic training.
Trace and his buddies on the silks.

 ...and so it goes in small town Mexico.  I have said it before but the amount and quality of programming offered to kids in the local area is amazing.  It could easily just be limited to surfing and soccer.  To be able to train in a facility like this, get quality coaching and be involved in a production on this level is ridiculously fantastic!  Our kids did not stand still very often the past six months but deserved it when they did.  Training will start up again once school starts and I am sure they will be eager to return to the Bodega Circo and learn new things.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Trace Turns 8!

Trace turned 8 years old this week.  This year he wanted a low profile gig with only a few good buddies over to swim, eat, watch movies, sleep over and have a water balloon fight.  We really don't think he likes a big birthday event with all the attention on him so a smaller party was a good choice.

Pizza time!
All these boys are school amigos and are locals from Sayulita, San Pancho and Lo de Marcos.  They all come over from time to time and are good guests so we were happy to have them over for the better part of two days.  We fed them full of homemade pizza, cake and pancakes.  Lots of legos, water fights and Iron Man 3.

Water balloon fight anyone?

Alex disappeared quickly when an offer from a friend came in for a sleep over so she was not around long.  Pretty good move on her part since there was really no where to hide from this crew.  Ashley and I did not have that option so we kept pretty much to our room until the boys ended up going to bed...but then half of them wanted to stay up and played with legos until close to 3am.  Lots of trips to the refrigerator and the bathroom all night and more than a few bites from of the leftover cake with lots crumbs and frosting on the floor to prove it.

Shaka bro, cake!

What we like about this year's birthday for Trace is that it was simple.  The boys provided their own entertainment and energy.  They are friends.  Remove the parents(mostly), add water, food and movie and these kids are going to find a way to have a pretty good time.  The chemistry is there for a fun time so let it happen.  That's what they will remember.  Many birthdays we attend here are similar.  Simple, fun, social and energized by those in attendance...and no little specially decorated, packed bag full of crap candy and plastic toys from China to take home at the end of the party.  

The Amigos

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The "Vortex" Is Strong These Days

Closing in on four years in Mexico and the "Vortex" is trying it's best to send us packing.  Ashley found this image that speaks of our current situation and it hits home in many ways.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Capoeira Batizado

The kids Capoeira program held it's weekend long workshop and graduation ceremonies this spring.  Alex and Trace have been in the program for over a year and a half and they rarely miss a class.  There are about 8-10 kids who are regular attendees and their instructors, Carisso and Pato, are great mentors to the kids.

The weekend attendees at Plaza del Sol in San Pancho

Capoeira procession down the Main Street in San Pancho
The attendees are from all over Mexico and this year many kids came from other cities to attend.  Needless to say, Alex made a few friends and was sad to see the weekend come to a close.  It was great to see Alex meet other girls her age who have a similar interest in Capoeira.  Capoeira has benefitted Alex in so many ways in regards to her interest in other activities like dance and her circus class.  She has developed strength, flexibility and coordination that she would most likely never developed had she not attended Capoeira.

Alex and Luke

Trace and Daniella
Trace has come to love Capoeira.  It's his "thing".  His best friend from school is a regular as well and the two of them are always given and extra challenge by their instructors.  I rarely see Trace move across a room without some Capoeira move.  Trace has been able to progress quickly with circus class due to his involvement in the class as well.

One of the things I really like about Capoeira and the other activities the kids are involved with is the quality of coaching and instruction.  I have remarked on it before.  The quality coaches I had growing helped shape me into who I am today.  "Carisso" and "Pato" are the kids instructors.  The two are really just teenagers who were handed the entire program when the main instructor had to leave for family reasons.  Carisso especially is very well respected in all instructor circles in Mexico.  During the weekend the kids were also able to learn from instructors from Mexico, Brazil and the United States and it was great to see their styles and enthusiasm.

Big hug for Carisso.
In Plaza del Sol
The long weekend was great and the actual graduation was close to three hours long as the Capoeira community celebrated the adult program's achievements as well. 

Luke, Enzo, Daniella, Carisso, Trace, Alex and Kaudi.  The graduating class with new belts.
One more month of class before they take a well deserved break for the summer.  Once September is here they will be back at it.  It is a special community and I am glad they are in it.  I think I am officially a "Capoeira Dad".  Kind of like a "soccer mom" and will continue to get them to their class twice a week.  Can't wait to see what they learn next year.