Connie and Chris, a.k.a. Ladyandtramp, are retired school teachers and happy grandparents, who live 2/3 of the year in a cottage on beautiful Lake Belwood in Canada and the other 1/3 traveling to ‘off the beaten track’ places with beautiful nature. Message
  • Day73

    Mountaintop Retreat

    March 14 in Mexico ⋅ ☀️ 29 °C

    As we near Troncones, from HWY 200, we pass a sign with an arrow that says, Glamping. A dusty road leads upwards into a mountain.

    Since our car was already horribly dusty, curiosity got the best of us and we turned onto the road to see where it would lead us.

    We drove up a steep road and there at the top of the mountain was a little enclave of teepees and rustic buildings. We started to turn the car around and a bunch of dogs started to bark at us. A Mexican came and motioned for us to drive in and see the property.

    Well, we were pleasantly surprised by the beautiful 360 degree views the property had. In the distance, we could see the ocean to the west and a ring of mountains and valleys surrounded the mountain we were on. The man and his wife invited us in, offered us a coffee or a cold drink and we sat admiring the view. Three backpacker/surfers from France and Switzerland were staying there and we all had a great chat about our experiences in Mexico and beyond.

    The man and his wife, Fanny and Oscar, who own the place had built a large sweat lodge, big enough to hold 20 people, and were offering traditional temescal healing ceremonies every week. People who stayed there slept in lovely teepee-shaped bedrooms overlooking the mountains with great morning views of the sunrise.

    Fanny is a herbalist, like our friend Scott. She makes and sells medicinal tinctures and infusions made from local plants.

    We were invited to a celebration of their second anniversary on Thursday. We won’t be going but wished them well.
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  • Day72

    The King of Iguanas

    March 13 in Mexico ⋅ ☀️ 28 °C

    The ad says …

    “Come and visit Chalio the king of iguanas !!!! Access to the iguanary is totally free !!! If you like, you can bring vegetables and fruits to feed them and cooperate voluntarily for the feeding, maintenance and protection of the iguanary 🦎🦎🦎🦎🦎🦎🦎🦎🦎 We are waiting for you”.

    How could we resist visiting the sanctuary after reading an ad like this? And it is conveniently close, a mere 5 km away, in the little village of Boca de Lagunillas.

    The area that we live in is full of little lizards and big iguanas. Believe it or not, iguanas are a traditional food source for the indigenous people in this part of Mexico as they are full of protein and they taste like chicken. We saw a man with a slingshot trying to down an iguana high in a tree. Free food…

    Anyways, there are laws in Mexico that prohibit this practice. Hunting, trapping, and killing of these iguanas is illegal throughout Mexico even though this law is not enforced.

    So off we went to visit the iguanary ( is there such a word?). We loaded up a bag with fruit and vegetable scraps and drove to the sanctuary before lunch. The iguanas are fed every day at 11 and 4 by Chalio, a colourful character who wears a beat up old hat and not so clean clothes. Haha. He lives on a lovely parcel of land beside the river that was once part of a coconut palm plantation owned by his father.

    We actually met Chalio on the road in front of a big gate and he invited us into his beautiful and shaded property. We met a young man who helps him out, Juan, who was cutting up coconuts and placing them on big sheets of plastic to dry. Later, these coconuts would go into bags and sold to make various coconut products. i.e. oil.

    Chalio in his enthusiastic and energetic manner explained in Spanish all the benefits that coconuts offer. It was quite a list. For many natives it is a cheap and healthy food source.

    We asked Juan how he gets the coconuts out of the 30+’ trees. He happily showed us how easy it was to climb up a palm. He said that he uses the bark ridges as steps/stairs. Then, with Juan’s coaching and encouragement, Chris took off his shoes and tried. Hmmmn, not so easy. I think that he was able to go up two ‘stairs’…

    Chalio took the food scraps out of the bag that we had brought and chopped them all up with his machete while telling us all about the wildlife in the area. He offered each of us a drink - a coconut with the top cut off with a straw. We shared a coconut as there is a lot of liquid in one coconut.

    Close to his lean-to, there was a cut tree trunk placed horizontally with a huge termite nest on it. Chalio put water into an empty coconut shell and placed it on the nest. While we were there lots of birds came and enjoyed a feast of termites from his giant homemade bird feeder, as well as a drink on the side.

    On a nearby tree, several hanging nests built by cardinals (?) and caciques were hung at a good level for us to check them out. They are amazing works of art and very sturdy. We had a good giggle because he was using one of them to store his cookies in.

    Then, the moment we were waiting for started. Chalio started to call the iguanas by name, ‘Dolores, Carlos, Roberto, Maria. Come to eat!’ From everywhere, iguanas started to appear! He kept calling them until there were about 40 big and small iguanas all around us eating the scraps we had brought. It was quite a sight.

    The iguanas that live in this area are called Spiny Tailed Iguanas. Adults are brown and have grey and brown rings on their tails. Their backs have soft comb-like spikes on it. Some of the adults were really very large. Young iguanas are green and as they get older their colour changes. Chalio told us that they can live to be 45 years old.

    The iguanas there were very comfortable with Chalio but a little skittish around us. Some were quite curious and would walk up to our shoes. Apparently anything pink looks like a papaya which they like and the iguanas often head straight towards pink shoes or nail polish. To a person unfamiliar with iguanas, that could be a little daunting.

    We thoroughly enjoyed the iguana tea party, but Chalio had more for us to see. He showed us where a crocodile often comes up on the bank of the river. He probably has a name for her too. Where there are iguanas, there are crocodiles hoping for a free lunch. While we were checking out the crocodile nest, an heavy iguana fell from the tree over the river and splashed into the water. Luckily for the iguana, the crocodile was out hunting elsewhere.

    We must say that we were a little concerned when walking under the coconut palm trees. Coconuts are heavy and we didn’t want one falling on our head! According to a study by the University of Florida, around 150 people die every year after being hit by falling coconuts. That’s 15 times as many deaths as by shark attacks!

    Chalio was an entertaining, fun and enthusiastic guide. A lot of tourists would probably not visit this cool place as he only speaks Spanish. He is also missing a few teeth which may be the reason that we didn’t understand him 100%. We got the gist of what he was saying though and were able to ask lots of questions so we were okay.

    We loved every minute of being with this kind and gentle man and will return another day with more compostable food scraps for his iguana family.
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  • Day71

    Cane Toads

    March 12 in Mexico ⋅ ☀️ 27 °C

    Yesterday and today, we rescued two giant cane toads from our pool. The photo makes the toad look like it is normal Ontario size but it was much much bigger. Karen’s toad houses would have to be three or four times the size of the ones she makes for the toads at our cottage.

    Historically, Cane toads, due to their voracious appetites, were used to get rid of pests in sugarcane plantations, giving rise to their common name. They are also called “giant toads" or “marine toads".

    They are very large and females are significantly longer than males. The ones we have seen and rescued from our pool were the size of small cabbages! Maybe 6” long and very fat and flabby. Some can weigh up to 1 kg! They have a life expectancy of 10- 15 years in the wild.

    The skin of the toad is dry and warty and the ones we have seen are a yellow-brown colour, with a pattern. I don’t have a problem scooping frogs out of the pool with my hands but there is no way that I want to grab one of this squishy toads. Our pool skimmer works just fine.

    I did read that if this toad feels threatened, it releases a milky substance that is toxic enough to burn the eyes or inflame the skin unless it is sensed off immediately.

    Once the toad was released, it raised itself and ran, and I mean ran. Not like our toads at home. It was fast! It didn’t really have fully webbed feet, they were more like long fingers. In the morning, we wake up to their deep croaks.

    By the way, this was the same type of toad that that we saw when we first arrived here, hiding under my face mask on an end table. Another night, there was one under the seat cushion. Imagine if we had sat on it!
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  • Day70

    We Saw a Big Cat!

    March 11 in Mexico ⋅ ☀️ 29 °C

    Tonight, we saw a very big cat run across the road close to our house. At first we thought that it was a black lab but it has a very long black tail and definitely was a cat. We asked if anyone on the Troncones Lets Chat board had seen anything similar and someone mentioned a puma and another person said that we may have seen a jaguarundi! We felt very fortunate to have seen this amazing animal!

    Of course, we didn’t have time to get a photo but the photos have some Spanish information given to me re jaguarundis.
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  • Day70

    Woodworms

    March 11 in Mexico ⋅ ☀️ 29 °C

    All the termites are gone. Yay! Carlos did a great job.

    And now, introducing, the wood eating woodworms …

    The first time Carlos came to deal with the termites, he noticed little piles of sawdust on the window sills and on the floor. Upon further inspection, he said that some of the wood that was used for the headers of the doors and windows was infected with the larva of woodworms. He could see the little round exit holes made by the woodworm beetles. When the larva mature (2-5 years), it turns into an insect with wings that lives for a short time but lays eggs in wood to start the cycle again. But while it is in the larva stage, it eats the wood it is in, forming tunnels throughout the furniture or beams. They are not a good insect to have around a house that has a lot of wood!

    As part of Carlos’ warranty, he also deals with woodworms so he started the process of eliminating them. First the wood is sprayed. After a short time, you may notice a dying beetle exiting a tiny round hole. Carlos pulled each one out with a small sharp took like. Then he covered the hole with polyfilla. With some of the holes, he injected a poison into the wood with a hypodermic needle. Depending on how bad the infestation is, different strategies have to be used, but he starts with the least disruptive, for us, strategy.

    After a couple or weeks, we started to notice the sawdust piles in various places again.

    Carlos came immediately and went to Plan B. This involved taking all the wooden furniture outside for 3 days and spraying it thoroughly. Then the window frames, inside and outside, were sealed in a heavy duty plastic. Carlos put pellets between the plastic and added water. A gas was created that infiltrated the holes and killed any larva or beetles that were in the wood. The rooms were locked and had to sit like that for three days. He did 2 rooms at a time so that we would have somewhere to safe to sleep. Stinky stuff.

    He came back three days later, took off the plastic and cleaned up. The furniture was put back into the bedrooms. Then he did the third bedroom. Same process. Our bedroom was not affected by the woodworms so we were okay. Three days later, he came again and opened up the room again. Looks like he got all of them now! What a process but our landlord should be happy with the results. Nothing eating the house from the inside out. The warrantee is for a year and Carlos said to call if ever any little sawdust piles are seen again. Great service!

    While Carlos was removing the plastic, he found a scorpion caught on the blue tape that held the plastic up. We all wondered how it got there and were happy that he hadn’t got stung!

    Have we ever learned a lot about insects on this trip! Thank heavens we are not bothered by little creepy crawlies. In our travels, there have always been strange and wonderful critters unique to the environment they live it.
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  • Day66

    The View from Zihua’s Hotel Irma

    March 7 in Mexico ⋅ ☀️ 29 °C

    Today is the day that our housekeeper and the pool guy come in the morning. While the cleaning was going on, it is always a good time for us to do a few errands. Our helpers can keep an eye out for the goats for us.

    Monday is also the day that the fruit and vegetable market in Lagunillas is on. We really enjoy the drive over the mountain and then shopping in that market for fresh fruits and vegetables. The town is close to the highway to Zihua so we figured that after the market we could easily go to the grocery store in Zihuatanejo. A plan for the day was coming together nicely. On the way back we could stop in at Troncones for anything else we need, like a bag ice and some ice cream.

    A long time ago, I had read a blog about an interesting hotel in Zihua called Hotel Irma that had a beautiful view of the Zihuatanejo Bays. We thought that it would be neat to try to find this hotel and see if the author was right.

    Shopping in the market and in Zihua is a familiar experience now so we did what we had to do in no time and went hunting for Hotel Irma using our handy Google Maps app.

    Hotel Irma sits on the side of a cliff overlooking Playa Madera so up a steep hill we drove. We parked and walked into the hotel and the blogger was right. What a great view! Wow!

    It was lunch time so we decided to eat lunch in the restaurant while watching the activity down below.

    In our photos, you can see the most heavily populated part of Zihuatanejo at the top left. This is where we went before, Playa Municipal, and saw the museum and the statues on the malecon. The curved beach stretching from the center to the lower right is Playa la Ropa. It is the largest of the four main beaches ( Municipal, Madera, Ropa, and Las Gatas) that lie around the edge of the small bay in front of Zihuatanejo.

    Each of the beaches is shaped like a half-moon with steep hills rising in back of it. There are rocky points at the tips of each beach, separating each one from the next one.

    Across the bay, we could see huge homes built into the mountainside. From the big dock, at the foot of that mountain, people can book all sorts of trips - fishing, whale watching, snorkelling, night time dinner cruises, catamaran rides or a trip out to the restaurants on Ixtapa Island.

    The night time view must be something else. Imagine having a two for one margarita at night in this hotel?

    It was lunch time, so we just sat in Hotel Irma’s restaurant and ate a hamburger and French fries while enjoying the gentle breezes and watching the activities on the bay.
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  • Day65

    600 Bicyclists!

    March 6 in Mexico ⋅ ☀️ 22 °C

    We heard about a bicycle rally that was going to start and finish at the Troncones fairgrounds. 600 bicyclists were registered to be in this race. Many participants came from all over Mexico as well as local people from Zihua, Lazaro Cardenas and Troncones. The race was going to take them through Majahua so we walked to town to watch.

    The advertisement said that the race would start at 7:30 a.m. but being on Mexican time, we weren’t sure when they would be coming through town. Organizing 600 people would be a challenge, for sure, but amazingly, cyclists started to come through Majahua shortly before 9 a.m.

    We ordered a coffee at a restaurant in town that had a great view of the ocean and was next to the road and waited in the shade. We followed that up with a delicious breakfast.

    We met a family of about 10 people who had flown in from Tijuana to cheer on a father and his 14 year old son. They were in the 35 km race. The 50 km race was considerably more difficult and went in a different direction. Both races included going up and over a mountain in the heat.

    We wondered how the racers would negotiate a dirt road full of chickens, horses, sleepy dogs and kids but they took it all in stride.

    The family that we met made shakers out of plastic coke bottles filled with stones and as the cyclists passed they all got rousing support from all of us, cheering them on. It was fun.

    Chris wanted to enter with his Speed River Bicycle water bottle, but he wasn’t sure if he or his bike would make it!
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  • Day60

    The Maria Cookie

    March 1 in Mexico ⋅ 🌙 22 °C

    Wherever we have travelled, we have always been able to find a simple, round, dunking cookie that goes well with coffee or tea, the Maria cookie. For us, it has been an old and familiar travelling friend..

    When I was a child, my mother would serve tea after school with a plate of these cookies if she didn’t have home-made cookies. They are round and usually had the name stamped into its top surface. The edges have a fancy design as well. Fun for taking tiny bites. It is made from wheat flour, sugar, palm oil or sunflower seed oil and is usually vanilla-flavored.

    I am not sure what they were called then but I did a little research and learned why they are called Maria’s.

    This cookie was invented in London to celebrate a royal marriage. The Marie biscuit was produced in 1874 by the London bakery Peek Freans in commemoration of Russia's Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna's marriage to Prince Alfredo, the Duke of Edinburgh.

    Although the wedding took place at the Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg (Russia), these cookies were baptized with the name Marie Biscuit, in honor of the new member of the Royal Family, and to drink them with tea, that we all know is part of British culture.

    The English quickly adopted Maria cookies as their favorite, a treat that we have found anywhere we have travelled. In Uruguay, a cookie sandwich was made with 2 cookies and caramel in the middle. Then it is rolled in coconut. In Portugal, two cookies would have a cream between them. There seem to be several variations on the names depending where we have been. Here in a Mexico, these cookies are called Marias.
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  • Day57

    Baby Sea Turtle Release

    February 26 in Mexico ⋅ ☀️ 29 °C

    Mexico has had a dark history of killing turtles for their meat. This practice is now illegal.

    Nowadays, it’s rare that the turtle eggs are left on the beach after the mother turtle lays them. Instead, volunteers dig them up and keep them safe in a turtle sanctuary.

    We went to a local restaurant at 5:30 pm to have a beer and learn a little more about sea turtle releases and watch the process. The turtles that are being released are leatherback sea turtles.

    A young man who was born in Troncones, Juan Carlos, decided that he wanted to help with the survival of sea turtles in the area so he initiated the turtle sanctuary in town.

    During the night during the summer months, turtles come to spawn along the beach, During turtle season in Mexico, adult turtles will only lay their eggs at night, usually from about 11 pm until dawn. This is done by the mother as a way to protect the eggs from predators. Juan Carlos and his team gather the eggs and then bury them again in a safe enclosed place in front of a small hotel.

    Two months later the turtles hatch and this is when tourists can help to put the babies into the ocean in front of Roberto’s Bistro. It doesn’t cost anything but a donation to help with the program are always welcome. Last year 15,000 turtles were helped into the water.

    There are many dangers for baby sea turtles, which makes seeing them hatch quite rare. Baby turtles can hatch during the day, although it is uncommon. It is much safer for the eggs to hatch in the safety of the nighttime when birds and other predators have gone to bed.

    Turtle Sanctuaries and hotels will usually free baby turtles around dusk, and will never release turtles if they can see birds or other predators hanging around.

    We enjoyed watching the whole process and went back the next night to watch again, and have a few tacos while we watched.
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