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  • Day3

    Unfinished Temple of the Precious Blood

    December 13, 2019 in Mexico ⋅ ☀️ 25 °C

    Today, we woke up to the usual morning sounds in Mexico - the church bells, a chucking gecko, roosters and cars rumbling by on the cobblestone street. For some reason, there doesn't seem to be many noisy dogs here. The sun was shining as we walked to Dona Esther’s in the market for breakfast.

    We stopped at a tourist kiosk in the Centro to ask about a calendar of events. Lots of activities will be going on here during the Christmas holidays. The posadas start on December 16 and Christmas decorations are being put up all over the town.

    Breakfast in Dona Esther’s was good old fashioned Mexican fare - scrambled eggs, chorizo, beans and fresh tortillas. A green juice for Chris and a giant strawberry smoothie for me.

    We had an extra apartment key made at the hardware store and walked on to the ruins of a huge unfinished cathedral, Templo Inconcluso de la Preciosa Sangre.

    One minute we we walking on a dusty cobblestone street, admiring a couple of beautiful roosters (fighting?), watching as a cowboy rode by on a beautiful black horse and the next minute we entered the huge stone ruins of what was planned to be the largest cathedral in Latin America. We walked through a stone gate into a lovely garden, filled with bougainvillea and bird of paradise plants.

    I read this little blurb about the church:

    “The first stone of the Preciosa Sangre church was placed right at the end of the 19th century, but most of the rest of the construction dates to the first decade of the following century. The idea came from a citizen who wanted to build another big temple for the town. Construction was halted when the Revolution broke out and probably not resumed because of the continuing post-Revolution conflicts, especially in Jalisco."

    We were lucky to meet a Mexican man, Pedro, who took care of the gardens. He was happy to take us around and point out the details used in constructing this incredible building as well as to give us some Mexican history lessons about what was happening in this area during and after the Revolution.

    At present, one small section of the church has been completed and is used as a seminary for first year (18 year old) students. There is a chapel with a beautiful altar and one of two old statues in the world showing Christ bleeding on the cross.

    As we were coming home, it got hotter and hotter. It is quite cool in the mornings and evenings but a little too hot for us now at around 2 pm - siesta time!

    In the evening, the square was hosting a ceremony for recognizing raicilla makers in the area. Raicilla is a distilled drink made in a way similar to tequila. Here’s a little blurb I found about one company’s Raicilla made from a wild agave plant called Lechuguilla:

    “Estancia Raicilla Lechuguilla is made with the wild agave Lechuguilla in La Estancia de Landeros, about one kilometre above sea level in the Jalisco foothills. The agave used in this Raicilla are roasted in an adobe oven for two days, and Old Jack Daniel’s bourbon barrels are used to ferment the cooked agave. Once fermented, this Raicilla is double distilled in copper alembic stills.

    Estancia Raicilla is made in the highlands of the Sierra Madre Occidental. In 2014, Rio Chenery left New York City for the highlands of Jalisco, Mexico with the hope of making his family’s favorite drink. The legend goes that in the ‘60s his grandfather, who worked for the Tecate beer company, came across a rare agave spirit in the small mountain town of Mascota on a business trip and fell in love with it. The locals called it Raicilla, and over the years it became a family favorite. Estancia Distillery is founded with the vision of bringing this rare agave spirit to the world.”

    I will write another footprint about raicilla in a later blog. It is uniquely from this area.
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  • Day11

    Gnomes, or Mexican Duendes

    December 21, 2019 in Mexico ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    During the past few days, I have been checking stores in Mascota for items to make little Christmas gnomes for gifts. I had brought 3 pairs of fuzzy socks from home and now needed rice, string, thread, something for a beard and noses, decorations, and little elastics. I found most of the items in a store called Todo de Todo. It is like our $ store with a little bit of everything. I had to be a little creative though. Chris found a white fake fur child’s hat that when pulled apart provided me with material for beards, noses, stuffing and decorations.

    Gnomes, or duendes as they are called here, are a part of Mexican folklore. Apparently, a lot of people in the south part of Mexico believe that they are real. I started to wonder if a duende would make a good Christmas gift though...

    Here’s what I learned about them.

    Duendes are known as gnome-like creatures who live inside the walls of homes, especially in the bedroom walls of young children. They attempt to clip the toenails of unkempt children, often leading to the mistaken removal of entire toes... oh...

    Only few grown-ups can see them – unless duendes get drunk. Then they seem to lose all caution. If you catch a duende in that moment, you can keep him and have him do all kinds of chores for you. But, you have to treat him nicely and always offer him the first bite of your food. You do that by throwing it over your shoulder. If you don’t, the duende will get angry and spoil your food. In former times, people used to have a much closer relationship with duendes and offer them food and booze.

    Duendes aren’t very nice to naughty children. In fact, sometimes they kidnap them with the intention of eating them...

    Oh well, my duendes turned out pretty cute so I think that they will bring good luck and good health to the people we give them to.
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  • Day14

    Christmas Eve

    December 24, 2019 in Mexico ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    It is busy in town today! Cars are being washed, people are in lines at the bank and the grocery store (Pepe’s) and we are sure that lots of cooking is happening. Tonight is the big night for everyone and then tomorrow will be quiet. Recuperating from hangovers?

    We were big spenders yesterday (haha) - had our laundry washed, dried, in the sun, and folded yesterday at the local laundry place one block away ($7), bought some coffee from Tepic which the store ground for us ($7 Cdn/kg), bought a bouquet of flowers ($4 Cdn), and ate an early Christmas dinner at our favourite restaurant called El Tapanco. We had an appetizer of squid rings with chipotle sauce, followed by a km rack of ribs, mashed sweet potato and banana and a delicious green salad and a drink ($40 Cdn which included the tip). Today, Chris had his hair cut ($5 Cdn) and we bought 4 sweet grapefruits ($1.50).

    The cleaning lady who lives next door was supposed to come today but asked if it was okay if she
    comes tomorrow, December 25. She has company today - feeding two truck loads of soldiers dressed in full army gear a Christmas lunch! She gave us clean towels and but will clean the apartment later.

    We met some people who were on tour from Puerto Vallarta and they were amazed that we found this town and on top of that a place to stay. In the last two days, two different people have offered us nice apartments to stay in for under $300/month! Our apartment is more expensive but we have a lovely clean apartment in a good location with solar water heating and everything that we need. The owner lives in Guadalajara but is easy to contact and acts immediately re any little issues or wants that we have.

    Last week, as we were walking to the village of Yerba Buena, we passed an open doorway. Chris complimented the lady who lived there by telling her that her flowers were nice. She promptly invited us into her home to show us her Charlie Brown Christmas tree, which she had just started to decorate. Obviously, she was very poor. The floor was part concrete and part dirt, the kitchen counter was a big stump and we have seen better furniture at the dump... but, she was happy to show us her collection of Christmas decorations and wish us a Merry Christmas.

    I decided that one of our gnomes would look nice with her tree and nativity scene, so we took one to her. Well, she immediately recognized us and once again invited us in. Her big son was there but was shy so quickly went into another room. She called him back and Chris took a photo of her with the ‘Good Luck” gnome. She was thrilled and wanted to put it in the manger scene! For sure, she will have a little story to tell her neighbours about the Canadienses who gave her the gnome.

    A restaurant in Mascota, called Navidad, is known for its soup called pozole. Pozole, which means "hominy", is a traditional Mexican soup or stew. Hominy is dried corn that has been soaked in a lye/lime solution. Grits are made from hominy. Pozole is made from hominy, with meat (pork or chicken, or both), and can be seasoned and garnished with shredded lettuce or cabbage, chile peppers, onion, garlic, radishes, avocado, salsa or limes. We got the basic soup as well as a big plate with all the garnishes so we could choose what we wanted in our soup. We managed to eat half of our huge bowls of soup and took the rest home. It is very filling.

    We decided that we would eat a simple dinner at our apartment, play a game of Quirkle and watch a movie. Mascota activities went on all night with bells and fireworks at midnight. Tomorrow should be a quiet day for a reason!
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  • Day1

    Our Flat in Mascota

    December 11, 2019 in Mexico ⋅ ☀️ 16 °C

    Here is what our flat (Calle Morelos #92) and the town looks like. The whole town takes pride in keeping the town in shape. Yes, it is dry time and the roads can be dusty but daily cleaning is obvious. Our flat is amazingly clean. The landlady wants us to be happy. We love it!

  • Day10

    A Horse Cavalcade Parades through Town

    December 20, 2019 in Mexico ⋅ ☁️ 21 °C

    The little town of Yerbabuena is having a horse show today. Horses and their riders gathered in Mascota, paraded through town and then rode on to Yerbabuena . Riders will show off their horses and also their riding skills. All the food for the festival was donated to spectators.

    We were tempted by several people to go but we decided to just watch the parade as it went through Mascota. The horses were lovely.Read more

  • Day22

    Rain, Rain and More Rain.

    January 1 in Mexico ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    We went out for a quick breakfast, along with lots of other people, to a restaurant in the Mercado.
    And as we were coming home it started to rain, and man did it ever rain! It didn’t let up for 22 hours. We were so happy that we had good books to read and enough food for meals.

    The roads here are cobblestone and there are no sewer grates. The streets have been built so that the water runs down in the streets in rivers to other streets and then down to the river. At cross roads, the streets become little lakes. It was something to see. Chris said he wanted to look for an ark.

    As we didn’t have any sun, it got pretty cold too. Our apartment has solar panels so we didn’t even
    attempt to have a shower. Brrr.
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  • Day23

    Last Day in Mascota

    January 2 in Mexico ⋅ 🌧 12 °C

    Well, today is our last day in Mascota. There are several places that we would have liked to have visited but we can’t do everything that we’d like to do, in three weeks.

    The Sierra Lago resort, high in the mountains sounds like a gorgeous place to visit with its lovely cabins and beautiful mountain top lake. The little town of Navidad with its famous homemade ice cream and people of French background. The 7 hour circuit through the mountains to all sorts of hidden towns, lakes and volcanoes. Also to San Sebastien, an old mining town, that has been left behind in time with its mountain and mirador called La Bufa. The verb bufar is the sound that bulls or horses make, a kind of snorting sound. It is called La Bufa because when the wind blows in the mountains there, it sounds like snorting.

    We walked to the bus station and bought our tickets to Puerto Vallarta, where we will meet our friends before taking a taxi to Chacala, Nayarit. Then wandered around to say goodbye to Silvia, our maid, Andreas in the coffee shop, the pharmacist who walks his dog up the mountain to the cross every day, Manuel, the tourist information guy in the centro, Ruben the belt and saddle maker, the tortilla ladies, the ice cream maker on the corner, and so many more. It has been easy making friends with the warm and friendly people who live here.

    While we were in the centre, we met an artist from the States who was looking forward to teaching a landscaping course in Mascota, Thomas Van Stine. He won’t have trouble finding beautiful places to paint!

    Fifteen minutes later we met Jonathan Dahl, an editor and chief of the Wall Street Journal, who was on tour from Vallarta to Talpa. The tour group had an hour stop in Mascota and we think that in the short time that Jonathan was here, he fell under Mascota’s charm, as we have.

    Chris did a last walkabout, while I cleaned out the fridge and did some housekeeping, and then we went out for a dinner at our favourite restaurant, El Tapanco (the loft). The owner is Italian so we had his tasty lasagna with a salad, and a beer for $7 Cdn. That included the tax and tip. Where can we get a delicious meal for that price at home? Even making it at home would cost more!

    We have really enjoyed being here and wish Mascota and its residents a prosperous New Year!

    But we are looking forward to a new adventure with our friends Pat and Gail in the small beach
    town of Chacala in the state of Nayarit.
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  • Day2

    Day 1 in Mascota - A Hike and a Parade

    December 12, 2019 in Mexico ⋅ ☀️ 24 °C

    Our flat is in a great location, only about 2 blocks from the centre so it is close, but just far enough away for some peace and quiet. This is Mexico, you know! Always a cacophony of sounds.

    The first thing that we always have to do, is a basic food shopping. So, we wandered around a bit and found Mascota’s grocery store. It’s not big but seems to have a little of everything, including ... blocks of cheddar cheese! This area is an agricultural area with lots of cows in the valley so there will no problem finding dairy products.

    We couldn’t resist stopping at a taco stand on the way and the tacos were so good. A good decision, as we could not ignore the yummy smells coming from the stand.

    Food shopping was a breeze. If the store didn’t have something, like Bailey’s, the very helpful attendants pointed us out in the right direction to find those things. The people here are very helpful.

    The rest of the morning was spent cleaning everything in the kitchen to our standards. Now we were ready to settle into the next three weeks in Mascota.

    We ate ham and cheese sandwiches and then went out to explore a bit. The town is small but spread out. It is in a valley surrounded by mountains. People have lived here for hundreds of years.

    Last night we could see a lit cross high up on a small mountain, called Cerro de la Cruz. If there is a cross on a mountain there is probably a path leading to it. We walked from the main square, down our street to the beginning of the trail. The first part of the walk is on a rough road and then you go through a small gate to the trail. The path for the first part of the walk is wide and not too steep. About halfway up, 600 stairs (I counted) continue to the top and have been made with the names of Mascota’s families written on the face of the stairs. A cool idea.

    You pass a few horses and a few people walking their huskies and then you reach a place where there is a beautiful view of the city and a small chapel with archaeological finds placed around the site. Then the walk becomes steeper. At the top is the cross and a view of the entire valley. Not a long walk, but we are up about 4,500 ft and I am out of shape. Haha. Good exercise and a reward of a beautiful view at the top.

    We walked home at around 6:30 pm and it was still light outside. Once the sun goes behind the mountains, it gets dark quickly.

    Today is a big holiday for religious people in Mexico - Virgen de Guadalupe Day. I love the story about this Mexican virgin who is loved by all.

    Church bells have been ringing all day and fireworks scaring away evil spirits. In the early evening, people were walking to the centre as a long parade was going to take place. We joined the crowd and enjoyed the closeness of all the people. A real community. So many people were at the church that the service was held inside the big church as well as outside in the courtyards.

    Today was a nice introduction to the lovely little village of Mascota.
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  • Day5

    The Archaeology Museum

    December 15, 2019 in Mexico ⋅ ☀️ 24 °C

    Even though Mascota, is a small town, it has an excellent museum which is located right around the corner from where we are staying and housed in a former mansion. We thought that today, Sunday, would be a good day to learn more about the history of this area.

    We were greeted by a lady who went scurrying off to get us a booklet in English that explained all the displays. It was great having the booklet as the displays, written in Spanish, included numerous photographs, petroglyphs, contents of tombs and more than 600 archaeological pieces dating from 800 BC to 300 AD!

    The exhibits are the result of excavations in the region, some of them supported by the National Geographic Society and led by the American researcher Joseph B. Mountjoy. The archaeological digs were conducted in an almost thousand-year-old cemetery called "The Swamp" - a place that has a great cultural value in the area and believed to be a lake more than 2,000 years ago. Some of the artifacts were also from the sites "El Embocadero "and" Coamajales. "

    We especially liked a petroglyph with a game board carved into the rock called Patolli. Apparently, it was played like snakes and ladders. There were game boards for long games or shorter games. The game involves throwing dice and moving four pieces around the board, any of which can be “killed” if an opponent’s piece lands in the same space. Ancient patolli players, it seems, would bet blankets, jewelry or even their homes on the outcome of the game.

    We weren’t allowed to take photos in a few of the rooms but the ones that we did take are sufficient.

    Walk along river and suspension bridge
    8km in total
    Dinner at Navidad restaurant
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  • Day15

    El Pedegral, Museum and Gallery

    December 25, 2019 in Mexico ⋅ ☁️ 21 °C

    There seem to be a lot of special places to see in Mascota and one of them is about 10 houses away from us, on the same street - the Museum and Gallery of El Pedregal. It is a unique building created by a man who is 85 years old and has lived in the same house for his entire life. This house has to be seen to be believed.

    Mr. Francisco Rodríguez Peña created a one-of-a-kind house filled with stone objects. The stones that he uses come from the beaches in Puerto Vallarta. Some of the stones are big and some are very tiny. They are different colours and shapes and he uses them to create guitars, piñatas, chess boards, pillows, caps, a television and telephones, and more. The tables, the toilet, the sink, even the decorative pillows on his bed! Everything in his house is decorated with pebbles and stones. What a labour of love.

    In addition to these unique crafts, he has a large collection of photographs (of course, in stone frames) of Mascota. Some of the photos date back to 1886! Yes, photographs were taken in 1886 in Mexico.

    In the center of the museum there is a stone wishing well and on the walls in the washroom, various local sayings had been written on little plaques. They were hard for us to understand as they were colloquial expressions. I am sure that the people in Mascota chuckled as they read and remembered the people who had said these words.

    Apparently, Francisco is also a writer and has a written a book about the history of Mascota. This kind and gentle man lives in the house and was our ‘guide’. It is times like this that we really appreciate having learned some Spanish.

    The Pedregal Museum is a visit that you will not regret doing; you will admire the various stone sculptures and you will leave there with a smile on your face.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Mascota, MXMCA

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