All I've got to lose is my pride

When I said that for every one Mexican in Los Cabos, there are six Americans making asses of themselves, I hate to say it, but I maybe should have to include myself in that statistic. (And I'm not Mexican.) You see, I really thought I knew a lot more Spanish than I actually do. Also, we have this horrible pocket dictionary, which I believe is partly to blame for it all and... and... and...

Well, here is a list of things TLBP and I have actually said, in Spanish, when we (obviously) meant to be saying other things:

* "I would like the woman with potatoes, please."

* "And can I have a small alcoholic beverage for the little girl?"

* "I'll have the stone bench with green salsa."

Of course, we're learning, right? We're trying. That's important.

So embarrassing...

And another thing: some of the tourist shops have their prices in American dollars instead of pesos, so that I was going to buy something and I basically thought it was one twelfth what it really cost. I was surprised! I didn't want to pay twelve times the price I thought it was! So, naturally, when we went to another store- the liquor store, to find some of that exotic tequila- I asked if the prices were in dollars or pesos. I mean, the prices seemed too cheap, so I asked. This guy at the store yells at me, in English,

"Don't you know you are in a city in Mexico?!" He seemed to be partly kidding. I said,

"Lo se, pero..." And I couldn't think of how to say, "All those damn tourist shops mix up dollars and pesos and you don't know what's what!"

(Later, TLBP asked me, "Did you call that guy a dog?" No, no, pero is "but"... "Then how do you say 'dog'?" You roll the /r/ more, then it's dog. "Are you sure?" Yes, yes, I'm sure!)

But then, he must have felt bad, because he went out of his way to help us and just showered us with attention. Also, a girl at the shop scolded him. So it was okay. They just had cheap tequila. Great!

* All Mexico entries have weird dates.

La Comida (warning: not for vegetarians)

We love Mexican food, the hotter the better. Even Little Z likes cheese quesadillas. But I think that, as a rule, if you are in a foreign land and you absolutely do not understand what is on the menu, don't order it! Brian ordered something and got this. Not so bad tasting, actually, but he was troubled that he had no idea what it was. It tasted strange. As in, like nothing he had ever imagined. It was a sandwich made of big chunks of of pickled gelatanous substance which he later, after much research, found out was

pickled cow's feet. The funny thing about it was, when he ordered it, the staff at the restaurant asked him if he was sure he wanted it, because the recipe contained this strange seasoning:

They actually gave him the leaf, which he tucked into his pocket. Thinking that was the weirdest part of it, he went ahead and ordered it.

We've had some good meals, too. Almost all of them, actually. Here I took a picture of an excellent omelete at walmart:

And this, which I did not purchase, is various sea creatures at the grocery store:

Everything here is served with beans. And the guacamole is absolutely to die for!

* All Mexico entries have weird dates.

You got the money, honey, I got the drugs!

I went inside a pharmacy and asked, in my horrible Spanish,

“All of these drugs, do I need to talk to a doctor to buy these drugs?”

She stood in front of shelves and shelves of white bottles with labels.


“Yes, I need to talk to a doctor to buy?”

“No, no. No doctor. You just buy them.”

By the way, family and friends, I’m not going to buy them! I bought a drink. I was just curious. There’s an American hospital here, and if any of us gets the infamous Montezuma’s Revenge or anything else, the American hospital will be my source for all things pharmaceutical.

* Don't worry about the chickens.

*Footprints in the sand

Pelican prints on the nicely groomed beach.

* I don't know if I should admit this here, but "Footprints in the Sand" is probably my least favorite poem of all time.

** And please don't worry about the chickens.


Family eating at a burrito joint.

Daddy: "They have their whole menu on the wrappers! Cool. We can study them for next time."

Num num num num...

Daddy: "What's 'lengua'?"

Mommy: "Lengua is tongue. They don't seriously have tongue on the menu?"

Daddy: "Yes. They do. What's 'rez'?"

Mommy: "I don't know. We should look it up later. I'm glad I got the bean burrito."


Mommy: "'Rez' is 'animal', so it's 'Animal Tongue.'"

Daddy: "Well, it's good to know they aren't serving people tongue. I mean, it's nice to know these things, isn't it?"

Mommy: "Indeed, it is."

* Don't worry about the chickens.

A dusty old bus and the deep blue sea

My husband lost all his clothes with the loss of that suitcase, but now is completely excited about purchasing an entire wardrobe consisting only of "Cabo San Lucas, Mexico" tee shirts. So far, the best deal he has found is two for six dollars US. He can also find shorts in the local tourist shops (our abode here is right in the heart of the tourist district) - but underwear, not so much. Our wonderful consierge, Senior Raoul, told us that he buys all of his underwear at- where else? - Wal Mart! Even Mexican Wal Mart is apparently just beyond the borders of town, so we could not walk there, however we had noticed a steady stream of old school buses with different destinations painted on the windows, driving through the one stop intersection. "Wal Mart" was the most common destination scrawled in white paint on the windows. We could be normal tourists and take a cab, but we don't like to be normal tourists, so this morning I- rather nervously, actually- waved at the bus with "Wal Mart" painted on the window and got on!

The man said it was 8 pesos (about sixty cents US), so I gave him a ten piece and he gave me no change and I didn't argue, just went and took my seat with husband and child in tow. It wasn't until the ride back that I realized it was 8 pesos per person, and I ripped the first driver off! Sadly. (The bus driver on the way home was a more assertive fellow. Perhaps this was because he had the Blessed Virgin on his side, in the form of a little gold plate image of her stuck up on the windshield.)

Anyway, the bus ride was very enjoyable. It was clearly an old American school bus and even still had the stickers inside showing school children (in English) how to correctly cross the street in front of the blinking stop sign, which was of course completely missing off of this bus. The bus was dusty, but relatively clean, and just three locals were riding with us on the way there. One of the people was a woman about my age with a three year old on her lap. The three year old was a girl, sleeping rather awkwardly. Behind the two of them, at one point, through the dusty windows, was the sandy beach, the deep blue sea, and a gigantic cruise ship resting in the water. The juxtaposition between the woman, the child, the school bus, and the amazingly large pure white cruise ship on the blue blue sea was something I won't soon forget.

My little girl was beside herself with joy to be riding an actual school bus!

In my normal life, I never shop at Wal Mart because it scares me. This Wal Mart wasn't as big as the ones I'm used to (or the ones I can't get used to, really) so it wasn't so bad. The people were very nice. The one guy was a little too nice, and suddenly started trying to sell us a whale watching cruise. He was a lot like the vipers at the airport, only he was in the beverage aisle of Wal Mart!

On the way home, the bus didn't go exactly the same way, but we got off close enough to our place to make it all worth while. It was quite the nice adventure. Here is my Tender Lovin' Banjo Player's hand, proudly displaying his new pair of Mexican undies:

Muy guapo, ¿no?

* Don't worry about the chickens.

Land's End is a Lie! A quote from a Mexican phone book:

The following is a direct quote from the tourist guide pages of the telephone directory in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico:

"Cabo San Lucas Arch...

This geographic sculptured formation carved by nature and patiently done through many centuries is the only finisterra (Latin word for land's end) in the world. There the land ends and there is nothing more."

So, wait a minute... what? Is it the end of the world? What about the other places called "Land's End"?

All just frauds, I guess. The land just goes on, somehow. You just can't see it or... or... something.

This is the only real Land's End:

Who am I to argue with a Mexican phone book? They speak Latin, after all.

* Don't worry about the chickens.

Day Two In Mexico: Observations

* For every one Mexican in Cabo San Lucas, there are six Americans making complete asses of themselves.

(My husband, sweet man that he is, pointed out to me that these two guys in the picture are not really doing anything wrong. Yeah, well. Okay. They aren't. But it's the substitute teacher in me, looking for future troublemakers. And they are pretty photo worthy, whether up to anything or not. What a hat!)

* The intersection nearest our rented condo is a one- way stop, although it is a regular, + shaped crossing of two streets. There is only one stop sign. We can observe from our balcony as, repeatedly, four cars come to the intersection, one stops, and three others hastily slow down and narrowly avoid a collision.

* The one cross walk with a light (different intersection) has a picture of a running man (instead of our walking man in the US). The running man runs faster the longer the light has been green. (I found a video of it and embedded. The running man is more distinct in person. Watch until the end and notice how fast it goes!)

*This is a place of absolutely breathtaking natural beauty. Pictures will follow, although they may be marred slightly by all of the Americans making asses of themselves...

... or not.

* Don't worry about the chickens.

The room full of con men

Today is the day we came to Mexico.*

We left at 3:30 AM, to make the 6 AM flight to Chicago from Madison. Three miles up the road, no one could remember if we turned the coffee maker off, so we turned around and went back to check it. It was unplugged. Back in the car, and we’re off!

All the flights, everything until we actually got to Cabo San Lucas went smooth as glass. Little Z was so well behaved on the 6+ hours of flying, strangers were telling us how great she was. Which is always nice.

Somewhere along the line, we realized that we hadn’t been the best packers. We had several small suitcases instead of one or two big ones, which meant there was too much to remember and carry- which comes into play later in the story.

I actually got Little Z one of those backpacks with the leash to the mommy, and I attached her by polyester lifeline to my satchel, so we were not far separated trudging through customs and Chicago airport. I don’t think she’s a dog; I just didn’t want to lose her! So I treated her a little bit like a dog. She doesn’’t ever mind that, being part canine in nature.

When we got to the Cabo Airport, we had our customs forms filled out, and there was a part that said you just had to go through customs and be searched if you were carrying any food. I was carrying lots of food. We eat weird stuff like sunflower butter, so I just packed a bunch of food. There was another sign somewhere warning about taking food. When the plane was landing, I saw this prison from the air and said,

“I guess that’s where they put people who smuggle cereal into Mexico!”

As it happened, though, everyone presses a button after they check your passport. If you get a green light, you go through, unchecked. If you get a red light, they search you. Luck of the draw. We got a green light. Yee haw! I smuggled food into Mexico!

We had our mass of bags and Little Z on her leash. I had received instructions from two different sources to march right through this room inside the airport where people would try and sell me stuff, and go straight outside and look for the guy with the sign saying, “Cape Travel,” because I had reserved a ride to our rented condo with Cape Travel. The guy on the phone had said, “This is very important. You must go straight outside the airport. Once you receive your luggage and go through customs, do not talk to anyone. Go outside.”

Well, we didn’t just go outside, because... because... I have no idea how to describe this. The men in this room were so gentle, so kind, so soft spoken. They lured us, they caressed our souls, they made us feel whole again. The fact that we had no sleep in 36 hours helped them a lot, too. I kept saying, “But why would the man tell me not to talk to anyone here, to go straight out the door?”

“Oh, there are two doors. You must go out this one, here. Where are you staying? Oh, yes, Jesse will be your driver... do you know you are entitled to see two whales, free? Did they not tell you this? Whales just like that one over there...” (points to a random whale sculpture hanging from the ceiling). There was a point when I decided we just had to leave, and I started to move forward, all that stuff, and bonk- down went Little Z. She fell because we were connected, and I moved and she stayed still. Well, with a crying baby, you can get out of just about any situation, and we made it out of there- using the opposite door of the one the man said to use- and found the man with the Cape Travel sign.

I don’t know how much detail I should give, by my oh my, this is a land of swindlers! Why in the world would the government of any country allow a room full of vipers to separate you from your ride to your temporary home? The vipers all had official looking name tags, even!

Skip to the van. Beautiful, beautiful drive with some Canadians and Americans. Little Z asleep. Cop cars with all their lights on driving by, every one of them. When we finally got to our condo - just as described, thank goodness- I grabbed the little one sleeping and TLBP got all the bags in such a rush he almost forgot his laptop. It was a few hours later, we realized we were missing TLBP’s suitcase of clothes! Luckily, though, he doesn’t care, because it was all clothes he bought at Goodwill, anyway. We’ve now called the cab (or, rather, the nice guy at the front desk who speaks perfect English and Spanish called) and they never found anything.

Going over all of the events of the day, we believe we probably left the bag at the airport, in the room full of vipers.

I'm sitting by a Palm Tree as I write this. Another day...

* All Mexico entries are delayed one month. By the time you're reading this, I'm back home, freezing my toosh off again. Ufta!

Ye Ole House in Towne

We got an offer that we accepted on the house. Yay! They don't want to close the deal until April 16, though, so it's strangely anticlimactic at the moment. It will be more exciting on April 16. The house has only been on the market for a little over two months. How, you may wonder, did we do it, in this economy?

Home sellers take note:

1. Price the house at $50,000 less than what it's worth.

2. Take advice from the people who post comments on your blog.

3. Stage the house with many monkeys in diapers.

4. Make your real estate agent wear a Buck Dollars Hat for good luck at every open house and showing.

5. Magical thinking.

6. Be sure to list any features which might be especially appealing to a Madison, Wisconsin buyer.

auditory hallucinations part 2

We have an old telephone that doesn't work very well. If you plug it into a phone line, all of your conversations are scratchy. We've upgraded to the wireless phones recently, and LIttle Z uses our old phone as a toy. It's not connected to a phone line.

The game usually revolves around someone on the other end who is sending Little Z some monkeys with diapers. Little Z usually "answers" the phone (the game begins!) and says a lot of unintelligible things into the phone, but usually one can make out, "guy," "monkey," "diaper," and "Okay, bye!" and then she hands the phone off to me.

I often have a moment, just before I put the phone to my ear, when I'm terrified that I will actually hear a voice at the other end of the nonexistent "line". I think it would be a gruff, masculine voice. Maybe he would even talk to me about the monkeys. Should I ever hear that voice, I don't know if I will scream in terror or simply talk to the man about those long overdue monkeys in diapers.

¡Viva México!

I'm going to Mexico! And I couldn't be happier about it!

Tender Lovin' Banjo Player (TLBP) and I have have both always loved Mexican culture: the food, the music, the fiestas, the siestas, did I mention the food? We've gone to Mariachi concerts together and screamed, "¡Viva México!" We've eaten and eaten and eaten. We've tried to take siestas, but somehow, our work places here in the U.S. seem to frown upon that. Yet, neither of us has ever been to Mexico! In less than a week, all that will change. It's about time.

I even spoke Spanish when I was a little kid, but I've forgotten most of it. My friends in preschool were all Spanish speakers, and mi abuelo spoke Spanish, but not so much around me. One of my first memories is actually partially in Spanish. I was at preschool, and we were playing Familia, and this other girl wanted to be mamá en la cocina and I wanted to be mamá en la cocina too, but she kicked me out of the kitchen, and she wouldn't take turns being mamá en la cocina because she thought she was la reina del mundo (hot stuff). Here is a picture of me and my preschool class:

I'm the girl behind that boy wearing all red. Just to my left is Reina del Mundo. I don't really remember what she looked like or anything, but you can just tell that girl thinks she's hot stuff.

I heard that auditory hallucinations aren't as bad of a sign of mental deterioration as visual hallucinations. At least, I think that's what I heard.

When Little Z was a baby (she's only 2 1/2 now, so not so long ago) I would go to her when she was crying. Then, sometimes, after I went to bed and was trying to go to sleep, I would think that I was hearing her crying. I would check on her, and she was sound asleep. But I would still hear her crying. Even when, logically, I knew she was not crying and she was sound asleep, I would hear her. It was clearly some sort of auditory hallucination, but I could never talk myself out of it. I could look at her and see her sleeping, and the second I looked away, I heard her crying. I would fall asleep sometimes and feel like I could hear her crying in my dreams.

Now, with these little chickens, a similarly odd thing has happened. Laying in bed the past couple of nights, I could hear the chics chirping. The really crazy thing about this is that they live in the Organic Machine House, a.k.a. the Barn, and I live in the house, and (it being winter) all of the windows are closed. There is just no way I could actually hear them. But of course, I heard them none the less for knowing that I couldn't hear them.

I could tell myself that my husband's nose must be whistling, but I still fell asleep to the mild sounds of baby chickens.

The virtual trip to Mexico

Hey! In nine days, we go to Mexico! Sort of.

Actually, I confess: we already went to Mexico. Last month. For sixteen days. We had a wonderful time. The place we stayed is over to the right there (my little free ad for the condo, because I enjoyed it so much). I blogged the whole time, but I post-dated all of the blog entries to post one month later. Why? Well, because, not everyone is honest and kind, and the blog is open to everyone, and I've posted pictures of my house, so... I didn't want the whole world knowing where I lived and the fact that I was out of the country. It didn't seem wise. Now, I think it's pretty cool that I post-dated the entries, because I can relive our trip and remember it fondly, starting February 19.

If you are reading about our trip, wondering Who is taking care of those chickens? The answer is: the chickens weren't hatched yet when we were in Mexico. We're already back, you see! And through the magic of Blogger, everything will post a month late (if I did it right).

We went to the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula, to Cabo San Lucas, a small tourist town. Apparently, Jennifer Anniston copied us and came after we were there for a few days. That kind of stuff is always happening to us. She didn't catch a glimpse of us, though. We went incognito as a small Midwestern family of three, with a Pink Monkey.


We ended up ordering our chickens on the internet, because getting chickens in the mail just seemed too bizarre not to try. On a whim, we got the variety pack of twenty-five dual-purpose (those that both lay and are good to eat). Then we got five of the Brahmas. The company threw in an extra dual purpose, and an extra "exotic" chicken. They were supposed to come this week, and although we really didn't believe that the U.S. post office would deliver anything on a Sunday, we built a box to put them in (TLBP built most of it out of an old bed that he built us a few years ago) just in case. We bought heat lamps and feed and feeders and watering stuff, too.

Well, just in case happened! At ten to eight this morning, I was awoken by a phone call from a frantic postal employee in Madison trying to figure out how to arrange us picking up our chickens on a Sunday. She just talked and talked. She was freaked out. I was sleepy. Three phone calls and two hours later, we were waiting for a guy named Guss at the Mt. Horeb Post Office.

Guss was really nice. We could hear the chickens chirping as soon as he opened the truck. They chirp really loudly when they're cold! This is the box they were in.

I took a few videos today:

They are much cuter in person. The infrared makes the video look odd.

We don't know which one is the exotic chicken (or what any of them are, for that matter). We'll just have to wait until they get a little older, and see which one clucks with an exotic accent. "Le cluck!"


I'm sorry I didn't write in my blog today. You see, I was going to write in my blog, but then I got a new issue of The Sun. As is my habit, I waited until the little one went to bed, poured myself a hot bath, and set the magazine on the edge of the tub, opened to the Reader's Write section, as I got ready for my bath. A glass of cheap red wine was also perched on the edge of the tub. Tonight, though, I turned around to face the towel rack and heard a strange noise behind me. When I looked again, the magazine had tumbled into the bath water. No! The magazine was soaking wet. So now, I had to read all of the Reader's Write section (carefully, oh so careful not to rip the pages) before the pages dried and stuck together.

So, I'm sorry I didn't write in my blog today. The Sun was delicious, though. I guess I'm not really sorry.

I was going to write about chickens.

Trash to Treasure

I made this little play stove from garbage. The main part is a white box that had a Christmas gift inside.

The knobs are tops off of soy milk cartons. They really turn. I don't know what that door stop is supposed to be. I thought it would be neat.

The clock is an old watch that I don't like anymore. Then there are some baby bottle parts, too. Those are the big knobs.

Oh, no! Don't cook froggy!

The chef tests out the new equipment.