scenes from a weekend

Hitching a ride.
Hitching a ride.

We headed back to the picturesque town of Tlaquepaque last weekend.

Hi!
Hi!
Little family, big door.
Little family, big door.

We were surprised to find that festivities related to the Romeria procession we attended the weekend before were still going on.

A friend.
A friend.
Flynn requested this photo op.
Flynn requested this photo op.
An offering.
An offering.
The Romeria festivities continue.
The Romeria festivities continue.
Looking sharp.
Looking sharp.

 

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museums & inpromtu meetings

Trompo Magico is as nice as any children’s museum I’ve ever been to, and $30 later we’re members with unlimited visiting privileges for the next year. We were too busy to take many pictures, but here are a few we snapped.

In a bubble.
In a bubble.
Recording studio.
Recording studio.

 

New friend.
New friend.
Exploring his Midwestern roots.
Exploring his Midwestern roots.
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Doctoring.
Shopping.
Shopping.

We even ran into a few Mexican friends Flynn made last week at a park playdate. And earlier in the day, at a music class, we ran into friends from a different visit to a playground as well as someone who’s from the same town in Illinois where my sister lives. Though it has a population of 1.5 million and all the culture and activities one could want (like, say, an excellent children’s museum), Guadalajara’s shaping up to feel like a small town — in the best possible way.

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a very large religious procession

Every year on October 12, millions of Catholics participate in what is said to be Latin America’s largest religious procession. It’s sort of a big deal. The sale of alcohol is forbidden for the day. People travel from long and far, sometimes on horseback, and then camp out overnight in parks and public squares in order to participate. This year, we were part of the crowd.

Ready to roll.
Ready to roll.

Known as the Romeria, this event involves transporting the revered Virgin of Zapopan from her the cathedral in downtown Guadalajara to her ancestral home in suburban Zapopan. (History and religious buffs, read more here.) Of course, there is much fanfare surrounding this pilgrimage, and frankly that’s what interests us a bit more. There are elaborate traditional costumes.

One of millions.
One of millions. 

There’s loads of delicious street food.

Candy apples.
Candy apples.
Cake.
Cake.
This sweet bread has designs and messages made of fruit baked right on.

Flynn had a nice view of the action.

Hello up there.
Hello up there.

But Jonah and I managed to get up close and personal too.

 

Under dressed.
Feeling a little under dressed.

Since we were out with two little ones, we didn’t stay at long as we might have otherwise liked. We didn’t try as many foods as we could have.  We didn’t interact with the locals as much as would have been ideal. And I’m not going to even mention the parking situation beyond saying that it was not good. But still, we were there, and in fact we were the only gringos we saw.

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to the zoo

A zoo is a zoo is a zoo is a zoo, right? That’s mostly true, although do you remember this sad excuse for a “zoo” that we stumbled upon in Benin? That was most certainly not a zoo. I’m not sure whether Guadalajara’s zoo is any better or worse than most, but that’s exactly the point. It’s a real zoo. We’re so excited to be in the sort of city that has a real zoo!

photo 1

But the great thing about living somewhere like Guadalajara as an expat is that not only does it have pretty much anything one might want, like a real zoo, but a different economy is at work here. So you can buy the fancy package with all the extras — like a safari ride where you get to actually feed giraffes (see above) — for less than the cost of admission to a regular zoo in the U.S. Pretty cool.

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typical lunch

I used to be a pack my own lunch sort of gal, but I haven’t brought a single lunch from home in the almost two months since we arrived in Mexico. Why would I, with food this delicious and cheap?

Calamari tacos.
Calamari tacos.
Drink of the day. I don't even ask what it's going to be. Doesn't matter. It's always delicious.
Drink of the day. I don’t even ask what it’s going to be. Doesn’t matter. It’s always good.

 

Molcajete, basically steamed deliciousness in a pot.
Molcajete, basically steamed deliciousness in a pot.
photo2
Shrimp, shrimp, everywhere.
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Your basic street taco fare.

 

Chilaquiles -- essentially, breakfast nachos. This kind with mole and arrachera.
Chilaquiles — essentially, breakfast nachos. These ones with mole and arrachera.

Don’t be jealous. Just visit. :)

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traditional day

A co-worker  happened to mention that her family has a Friday night tradition: they gather together for pizza and a movie. Hey, we like pizza and movies, and we’re always in on Friday nights anyway. We decided this was a tradition our family should take on too. So we explained to Flynn what a tradition was. He was a little fuzzy on the concept, but he did understand that ours would include pizza and movies, so he was on board. We decided to start the following Friday.

Every day that followed this conversation, Flynn asked, “It is traditional day yet?”

“You mean, pizza and movies? Our Friday tradition?” we tried to correct him.

“Yes, that’s what I said. You’re not listening to me. I said ‘traditional day.’”

He’s not exactly wrong. What’s more traditional in our native culture than takeout pizza and a good picture show?  Frozen. Honey I Shrunk the Kids. Wizard of Oz. Sometimes we even get our pizza from Dominos or Little Caesar’s.

photo (6)
Super Flynn meets a fellow American hero.

Friday is upon us again. Happy traditional day to one and all!

Posted in food, Holiday, Mexico, Toddler | 4 Comments

toddler transitions

Flynn’s been at his new Mexican preschool for about a month now, and according to him, he still has no friends. Every few days he’ll come home and tell us he learned a new boy or girl’s name.

“Oh, is that your new friend?” we’ll ask.

“No,” he’ll say.

“But how did you learn his name?” we’ll ask. “Did he play with you?”

“No,” he’ll tell us again. “I need to learn Spanish first. Then he’ll be my friend and play with me.”

“Did he tell you that?” we’ll ask.

“No,” he’ll reply. “I just know it myself.”

It’s kind of heartbreaking, right? We ended up sending him to a bilingual preschool in the hopes of easing this transition, but it seems that only the teacher knows English. The kids are all there because their parents want them to learn it, but they don’t speak any yet. I don’t think anyone’s being mean to Flynn. And I don’t think he’s unhappy. Every day we ask him if he likes school and whether he wants to go back, and to those questions we always get an emphatic yes.

But still, I  hope he makes some friends soon. Or picks up more Spanish. Actually, both.

 

Posted in FS Life, Mexico, Personal, Toddler | 4 Comments

on day trips with little ones

Unfortunately I can’t tell you much about these prehistoric circular pyramids, because I stepped out in the hall with a whiney one-year-old during the introductory museum video. And I spent the rest of the museum visit arguing with a whiney three-year-old about my decision to deny him a granola bar until we got outside.

He was wearing a much cuter outfit earlier in the day. Don't even ask what happened in the car.
Outside, post granola bar, he was a bit less whiney.

Side note: Flynn was wearing a much cuter outfit earlier in the day. Don’t even ask what happened in the car.

Anyway, we were talking about the circle pyramids. Guachimontones, they’re called. They were only discovered like 10 years ago. I guess they used to be part of some city like this.

Murals, murals, everywhere.
Murals, murals, everywhere. It’s Mexico, after all.

Or so the story goes. Word on the street is that the whole thing is a giant scam orchestrated by the state of Jalisco, which was jealous of other parts of Mexico and their impressive (and tourist attracting) archeological sites.

Baby celeb.
Baby celeb.

Not pictured: the dozens of middle school girls on some sort of organized trip who were much less interested in the pyramids than in getting a photo with the blonde gringo baby. I let them. Why not?

Smiles from all!
Smiles from all!

Afterwards we visited a lovely lakeside seafood restaurant where Flynn insisted on ordering a hot dog, and then proceeded to eat not more than one small bite of said hot dog. Jonah insisted on eating everything he was not allowed to eat, and on banging a spoon on the table much of the meal. Meanwhile, I think our child-free travel companions made the important life decision to hold off on the whole kid thing for a while. Can’t blame ‘em.

Obviously, our kids are awesome. But traveling with little kids just isn’t awesome. Still, we’re trying to force ourselves to do as much of it as possible anyway, because let’s be honest: being at home with little ones isn’t easy either. And we only have two years here to see and do the seemingly endless list of things we want to.

We hope to go on a day trip most weekends, and we’re in the midst of planning our first long weekend away too. But for that one, I’m making sure to find a hotel with babysitting service. Obviously.

Posted in Baby, FS Life, Mexico, Personal, Toddler | 5 Comments

ajijic, where expats abound

Can you spot the grump?
Can you spot the grump?

We decided to take a day trip on our first weekend with wheels. Our criteria: somewhere interesting, but also easy to get to. Many people recommended the quaint towns on the shores of Lake Chapala, an area about an hour’s drive from Guadalajara which is home to thousands of American retirees. We ended up in the town of Ajijic. Despite period foul moods by  certain three and one year olds (see above), it was a lovely little day. We’d definitely trek back (though we might get a babysitter before doing so).

Taking a stroll.
Taking a stroll.
Spotting stuff.
Spotting stuff.

Ajijic looks like you how you imagine Mexico to. Narrow cobblestone streets are lined with colorful buildings and eclectic shops. They were just starting to open for the day when we were packing up to go around 1 p.m.

Color.
Color.

 

Shops.
Shops.

 

Details everywhere.
Details everywhere.

 

Laughs with Dad.
Laughs with Dad.

 

Picture perfect.
Picture perfect.

Of course we picked up some snacks for the road.

Ready to eat.
Ready to eat.

 

Churros, mmm.
Churros, mmm.

Andy read somewhere online that a couple can retire comfortably but not extravagantly in the Lake Chapala area for about $1,300/mo. I wonder how much it would cost to retire extravagantly. In 30 years or so I might just be interested.

Posted in Mexico, Travel | 3 Comments