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Painting the town with Muralist, Chile de Joco - Week 8 3/12 - 3/21 2021

Updated: Mar 28, 2021

I got up early….7:20 am Monday morning because I wanted to send Robin off. He wanted to leave early as his drive to Mazatlan was going to be around 6 hours. It all depends on traffic and how many stops you make. He is traveling alone, not even a pet. We were sad to see him go but happy that we got to spend the time with him like we did. He became a very good friend! We plan on seeing him in Tennessee at some point. He lives in Jackson between Memphis and Nashville. I haven’t been there before so we will definitely take him up on his offer to park the Airstream there for a bit. Maybe a couple of depends on how much food he has! LOL

Later in the afternoon, Robin texted me, “Well, I guess I’m lost. I’m still going north and the road is road good so I shall continue”. Robin’s GPS only works when he’s connected to the internet and so he lost his directions. He took a wrong turn on 15D. Instead of going north to Tepic, he went south to Puerto Vallarta. He continued until he ended up on the narrow streets almost to the malecon. His rig is big and wide especially because he’s towing a Buick behind him. Things got worse and his tow dolly scraped a car. The man started yelling at him. He was blocking traffic too. A good samaritan helped with interpretation and the cops came to tell him to move. Eventually they were able to get to the Walmart parking lot. He called an insurance claims adjuster and settled things with the other driver. He had a semi-restful sleep in the Walmart parking lot. I told him it will make a good song someday.

On Tuesday, a bus load of young boys came with counselors from El Hogar Cabanas Orphanage. Larry and I were up at the gate when they all marched by with the same color shirt and shorts. They were all neatly dressed and their hair was short and groomed nicely. Some said, “Hola'' when they passed and there were a few giggles. I guess their ages to be around 5 to 8 years old. We talked to Teo a little about the orphanage and why they might not be staying with extended family if they had lost their parents. It really opened my eyes. It surprises me that these children have no families that will take them in and love them. I know it’s very hard to adopt in the US. These boys come for the day to swim and play here. They look like they are having the time of their life. I notice that they usually eat around 1pm. Larry went into town to buy a few things and he wanted to pick up small cokes and cookies for them. He asked the counselors if it was ok and they unloaded them from his truck. We don’t think the kids knew we gave them to them.

Later in the afternoon, when Larry and I were in the thermal pool, we saw the 21 boys in the water. It’s a small pool and these kids were everywhere. Plus, I don’t think they got the information about social distancing! In 5 minutes, Larry had 6 boys circling around him. They were speaking spanish and assumed Larry could understand. He tried talking to them a bit but it wasn’t easy. Then one kid splashed Larry in the face! I thought it was hilarious and laughed loudly. Soon after 6 boys were taking turns splashing him. It was quite the show. I laughed harder and harder and then 2 of them turned on ME!!! I guess we found a simple way to communicate. Eventually, we just practiced counting in spanish and english. I find we have the best interactions with the children. They are so willing to try and talk to us. They seemed interested in us. The kids make me happy!

Tino, our Mexican friend, made surprise reservations at La Cima Del Copal. It was a fancy Expat restaurant up on the hill above the many restaurants on the Zona Tourista on highway 23. I loved the surprise. We invited Deb to come along too. It gave us a good excuse to dress up a bit. We forgot it was St. Patrick's day but everyone else remembered. They had live music that was all in english. Everyone was having fun and dancing. We saw an Elizabeth Taylor look alike so, of course, I took a picture! Food was great, the view was amazing, the temperature was perfect and the company was exceptional! Yeah for great new friends!

On Thursday we got up early to go to the Jocotepec Malecon to look for birds and snakes. We brought our bikes too for a ride if we found someplace cool to explore. Well, we were very successful in the snake category. There were literally tons of them out. Many sunning themselves in the water plants. Some were swimming up and down the jetty along the rocks. Larry went to see them in the plants while I walked up further to the rocks on the jetty. I waited and waited until one big one swam by….close enough for my hand to reach in. He looked up and saw my hand coming and he dove down in the water and swam away. What a rush!!! I waited and waited but no more snakes swam by. When I got back to Larry, he was in the water up to his knees!! OMG! I guess he slipped in a bit and decided to just to stay in. Ha Ha Ha... He tried like crazy but never got close enough. Then he tried to pick one up with a bamboo stick….that almost worked, but nope! I told him my stragedy about waiting on the rocks for them to swim by. He wanted to try that. I watched and directed Larry as to when to expect one to swim by….and Bada Bing!!! Larry was fast enough to snag a Blackbelly Garter Snake out of the water! The snake wasn’t as excited as we were. He opened his mouth and tried to bite at us. We grabbed him behind the neck for a short photo shoot. Then I released him back at the dock by the water plants. So exciting!

We went into Chantepec, a small town between Jocotepec and Ajijic. It looked cute and we thought we might ride around. There were only cobblestone roads so we walked instead. It was a super small town but we found the centro and church. The walk around the town was short. We did see a bunch of barn swallows and I got a few nice pictures. We only stayed about 30 minutes….that was enough. Not bad but not too interesting.

We drove a short distance to San Juan Cosala and headed to the waterfront. We were looking for a Malecon. We found a place to park and walked down a creek to the water. They had a long flat beach but no malecon from the side we approached it. There were tons of seabirds and we took more pictures. I chased a bunch of pelicans to make them fly……..So many birds!

They had a small carnival that we investigated. It wasn’t open but 6 mexican children were climbing on the rides. When they saw us, adults, they scattered! I said it was ok and I showed them my camera. The brave young boys climbed back into the bummer cars for me to snap a pic! I liked this beach and this area a lot. We looked at lots on the beach…...we could build something here. I’m always dreaming.

On the drive back, we saw my new friend, the muralist, Chile de Joco painting a wall near Roca Azul. He said that I could help with this mural but we were on the way back to meet Tino to visit and play games. I let him know I could come the next day and to send me a message when he was there. Tino came to our trailer and we looked at pictures from the Guadalajara Zoo that I took the week before. Deb stopped by on her way to the pool but ended up just hanging out with us. We played many thrilling games of Jenga. I lost the very first time I tried! Larry ended the ultimate winner….why does that not surprise me. Good day and good friends!

Friday afternoon, in the hottest part of the day, I got to go meet up with Chile. We stood across the street in the shade to discuss the process of the mural. How he got started painting and what he does at the Cultura Jocotepec. We met Chile by chance when we went into the Cultura Jocotepec. We loved the colorful murals on the outside of the building and wanted to see if it was a museo or art gallery. He started talking to us right away and showed us around. Now….a few short weeks later...I’m standing with a well known muralist, helping with a new creation. It's on a wall across from an elementary school that his son Leonardo used to attend. He also showed me some painting he did in front of the school. Chile said he had lived in San Diego for a while and did roofing. He had made good money but wanted to return to his home in Jocotepec. His family is here and owns some acreages on top of the mountain. His father who is in his mid 80’s still walks the mountain to go to his land and tend the cows each day. Since his heart is getting tired, the kids take turns driving him each day.

Chile’s passion is teaching math and doing art, especially his murals. There are many all over Jocotepec that we see as we drive around. Last week, he went to a town close by, Zapotitán de Hidalgo to do a mural over there. He doesn’t make as much working in Mexico but this is where his heart is. He is a very kind and interesting man. I was worried that I might mess up his art but he says there are no mistakes, just experiences. He says when you paint, you put some of your soul on the wall. Wow!!! I’m really getting to do it. I’m putting some of my soul on a wall in Jocotepec, Jalisco, Mexico!

I spent almost an hour putting blue paint on some childrens jacks. He showed me several images of his idea for the wall. He had sketched it out and used an air sprayer to put on the base coats. We are now using brushes. He says that it will take a week to finish. We were only able to work for an hour because he was called back to the Cultura Jocotepec by his boss.

We have been driving our bikes around in the back of truck for almost a week but they have seen little road action. Saturday, we drove outside of Jocotepec to get on the bike trail along highway 23. We were planning on riding into Ajijic if the trail didn’t get bad. They are completing it in sections. They are many miles that are complete but gaps that are still gravel or with crews working on them. We rode up some random roads to see what we could see! Some had great views. A few had secure housing developments and a few were dirt roads to mexican homes….with loud barking off leash dogs. That's where we turn around. On one of these roads, Larry with his Eagle eye spotted our famous Squirrel Cuckoo!! I got a picture of his head….Fun!

Next, I saw a sign on the highway across the street that said Casa se vende. I made Larry cross the street to go see it with me. As we were looking around, a young woman in a car stopped and asked if we wanted to see the house for sale. Yes!! Her name is Priscila, a realtor and she had just shown the house. She spoke great english and was super friendly. We saw 2 homes that were brand new. One we really liked. We asked her if she could show us some more. I keep having this feeling that we should buy something in this area to return to again.

We continued into Ajijic until we couldn’t go any further. The trail was all torn up. We didn’t want to ride on the road as it can get very busy with traffic. We turned around and headed back….with a short stop at a roadside restaurant for a beer of course! It was right on the corner of Cristina Calle where we had just viewed the house for sale. No one working spoke any English but the waiter understood corona-dos. We had wanted to order chips and salsa but my translator wasn’t working so well. A nice gentleman at the table by us asked if we needed help in english. He ordered our chips and salsa for us! I am amazed on a daily basis how kind the Mexican people are here. They are so willing to help. It was a nice little break after our bike riding adventures.

I had made arrangements with a boat driver on the Jocotepec Malecon to do a ride on Sunday around 3pm. I was hoping to boat over to the 2 islands to see the old prison and church. I figured we would be coming back around sunset and it would be a nice view of the lake. Sundays are the busiest days especially for the local families. I wanted to see the carnival rides lit up too. Max and Jan wanted to come along with us and we were going to treat Tino so he could come. We had brunch at El Patio in Jocotepec with Max and Jan. They love to eat out at restaurants. We hadn’t been to this place so it was new to us. Max even chauffeured us around town! It was a lovely place and the food was very good. I had yogurt con granola y jugo de naranja. Larry and Max had eggs, bacon and pancakes. Jan had a pretty salad. It was all good and then I got a call from the boat driver. He said it would be 6 hours to see the islands. We didn’t want to spend the time or the money so we cancelled. I did however tell the driver, Santiago, we would come at 6pm for a night ride to see the sunset. Max thinks taking a boat from Chapala would be quicker to get to the islands and less expensive.

The islands are closer to Chapala than Jocotepec.

We ended our sunday evening, walking on the Malecon in Jocotepec about 5 pm. It was so much more busy than any other time we were here. The parking lot was almost filled and a guard was controlling how many cars and people were let in. This indicates that it’s not at full capacity. It had enough folks and the energy was good and happy. We strolled down past the carnival rides to the vendors. All the booths were open today. They had a station where children could paint a plastic piggy bank. They had small kid size tables with helpers and all kinds of paint. The kids had small aprons on. It was such a happy sight and it brought back many memories of my days helping at the kiddie tables at the Fourth of July Concert at Sonoma State University or volunteering at the Gravenstein Apple Fair in Sebastopol, California, close to where I lived for 54 years!! Anyways…...I just love seeing this! Larry and I emptied out all or our change and put it in a mermaid piggy bank. :)

We saw a kiddie game/ride that I’d never seen before. It was these huge plastic bubbles that the kids got in and rolled around in a pool. It fascinated me for a long time. I even tried to get Larry to get in the big bubble, I think adults can do it. He told me that sometimes I need to be the one that does the silly stuff and he’ll take the pictures. We both passed on this day.

When we got back to the boat dock, our new friend and boat driver Santiago, let us know that he had more/other people to take in the boat. We understood that he could make more money and we would just need to come back another day for our sunset ride. I have to tell you, I was seriously disappointed. I had put a fair amount of energy into this and not have it work out. Perhaps another day for a boat ride…...but our time here is running out.

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