Buenos Dias Amigos. Well we did come back… finally. Three weeks in Mexico. I am trying to recollect the “there” highlights. There are so many that I will have to consult the photo bank.

Let’s see now… oh yes. Let’s start with the weather just to break the ice. Hmmm. Come to think of it, ice there you have for keeping fresh shrimp and fish cold… and of course for making margaritas. Ice here… you drive on, walk on, slip on, skate on and use to keep the beer cold. Water in it’s many forms and all dependent on temperature.

It was fairly humid, and often with a good dew in the morning, but we didn’t see a lick of rain… or snow because we didn’t even turn on the TV or check the weather. Somebody would say “Oh my, they are having a heat wave back home with +9 or +12.” We did hear “somebody got 14-inches of new snow in one dump,” but that just made me turn over in the sun to warm up my backside.

There were lots of everyday living things that were quite amazing. Like the sun going up and up down so quickly and early. It was so nice to get 12 hours of warm sunlight. Once I spent almost a whole shift in a blanket of ice fog in a camp north of Fort Mac. Almost because one day mid shift we had a break with brilliant blinding blue sky and cold sunshine. That made me realize how much I wanted sunshine in my life.

(top photo) Up on the Roof

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La Peñita breakwater tree

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500 bricks a day

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View from terrace on Ocean View Apartments

Jeannette went to a fundraising fashion show with some friends and had some fun and met some interesting people. There are lots of Canadians and Americans down there who have been going down there for a long time… like 20 or 30 years. Now I understand why. I get it. I get it. I feel like Scrooge and his conversion to Christmas. I have become a lover of the lower latitude at this time of year. We hit absolutely the best time.

I got in on a bird-watching walkabout with some friends while Jeannette and friends hit the market. It was so awesome walking through the jungle on paths kept open by enthusiastic walkers and birders. If they weren’t kept open the jungle would reclaim them so fast it would be a major undertaking to clean them up again. There were a couple of bird brains on the walk who knew the local birds inside out and who would get so excited that it was hard not to share there enthusiasm. I think I got bit by the bird bug. When you see the amazing birdlife and butterflies… in the different environments. Beautiful. Thanks for the bird pics from our wanderings, Myrna.

I got my first tick bite on my tummy under my shirt on that walk. You can feel them bite a bit on their first little chomp and that is when you get’ em. If you don’t they have a natural anesthetic to numb their dinner area so they can chow down in peace. I got 3, Ed got 5 and has had as many as 14. They are no problem any more than mosquitoes. They just eat more and you have to check yourself fairly often. They don’t fly around looking for you. You have to go to them so dress appropriately and use bug spray.

But… enough tick talk.

We took a day trip to the Nuevo Ixtlan Hot Springs. Yup! We travelled over a long and hilly road past Alta Vista and La Cucaracha, through the hot Mexican sun to go sit in hot Mexican water with our hot friends. Rather ironic, but totally wonderful. There were numerous different constructed pools each with its own tap. Some pools were hot, while others just right. It was all shaded by large trees and there were many barbecue pits in lovely isolated spots. We got there early and had our pick of spots, but then lots of others arrived. It got downright busy and so totally different there than here. Folks were drinking beer and eating in the pools and kids were actually running around. This place was on a farmers land and he slowly developed it with others from a nearby village and now it is probably an important source of income for them.

I had a neat musical moment there. Kevin had brought his ukelele and we had it out strumming some tunes. I had my back to the pools when I heard my name being called.

I turned around to see Myrna and Kris in a pool with about a dozen kids and some adults. They wanted me to come down there and play some songs for them. So I did. They liked Old MacDonald and really joined in on the E-I-E-I-O. Then after some encouragement, they sang some songs for us. What a hoot. We cooked hot dogs for lunch and I can honestly say I haven’t had such a memorable hot dog and the ambience.

We went on a boat tour up to San Blas. Yowsers! That was a good day. Bird watching seeing some really unique bird friends, seeing lots of turtles and crocodiles and iguanas. We travelled on brackish sea water and then into fresh water to a little zoo at the halfway point of the tour. The zoo was a little depressing after seeing so much life not in cages. Our river guide, Juan, and our tour guide and friend, Antonio,were awesome in spotting and identifying bird life we missed. We toured the San Blas fortress and old church.

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Pelican Serenade

We saw a lot of birds down there. Most numerous and the noisiest were the migratory grey headed gringo. They travelled in flocks mostly, but there were some solos as well. Very few adolescents inland, but many on the beach. There were a number of places were large flocks would gather at certain times of day. The gringo has the rather large vocabulary, but uniquely they all share a curious greeting call. It sounds like “ware-u-frum.” They have been known to gather at various water holes and beaches where they rest and renew themselves for their return migration. We spotted a large group gathering at a certain watering hole on a couple of evenings. There were Perez Parakeets singing some lovely songs that seemed to excite the entire flock to leave their perches and break into wild courtship dancing while squawking as loud as they could. Unforgettable.

Many other highlights. One sad note in the passing of a special old bird that touched so many for so long with his songs. My hero, Pete Seeger, passed on at 94 last Monday. There is so much to say about Pete. He inspired so many to stand up and be counted and to change things. The bird has flown but his songs lives on.

I came back with a pile of song fodder and was hoping to write some songs down there. I did manage to write one, but there will be more coming. This I know.

Well, my bum is numb and so is my brain and now there are things to do and bills to pay.

We look forward to seeing you sometime down the road. Don’t know where, don’t know when.

by Arturo (aka Arthur White Owl), Spruce Grove, Alberta

Author’s Note: Jeannette and I came down at the urging of friends who have been coming down for years. We left Spruce Grove, Alberta, our hometown just west of Edmonton on Jan 11 when it was -15 C. It was pretty darned awesome to step off that plane into +25 C.

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