August 30, 2008

Chowing down in Casa Boleo

Friday approaches. The Cowboy arrived today with his usual gusto and the dog was happy to see him. The Storyteller and the Cowboy are two of the dog’s favorite people since he lived in Bolivia and Idaho with each of them for extended periods. The dog had not seen the Storyteller for many years and he cried like a baby and wouldn’t stop for about 20 minutes, then he spent the next 3 days lying outside the Storyteller’s door or under his desk. He must think the Storyteller was his original owner.

I have decided that the cook will use her own recipes for a while. I gave her a stuffed bell pepper recipe, and if I do say so the Spanish translation was quite understandable. I asked her to wait while I showed her how to make it, but she took off on her own. I fortunately entered to kitchen just as she was starting to brown the ground beef. I quickly put a halt to that and told her she had to mix ALL the ingredients together: onion, shredded cheese, canned tomatoes, bread, garlic, and eggs with the beef and not cook it separately, but stuff the peppers with the mixture then cook them as a whole. When I came back to the kitchen, she was stuffing the peppers, but the cheese was cut into half-inch cubes, and so I told her she had to take the cheese out and grate it. Finally we got that part done and I left her to bake them in the oven. Esperando arrived and at dinner time I went back to discover she had boiled them all, not baked them. They survived her brutal treatment, but better she use familiar recipes until I have more time to supervise—we’ll just have to suffer through endless meals of delicious fattening Mexican cuisine. She is a fabulous cook left to her own devices. So far we have had corn soup, tortilla soup, scallops with garlic sauce, flautas and tonite we are having carne asada. I have discovered if we barely eat breakfast and lunch, we can have some of dinner without gaining weight.

I brought a Panasonic breadmaker here and we have just had our fourth loaf using the manufacturer’s French bread recipe. It is delicious, although we have been sampling the local French bread from the El Boleo bakery and it is really good too. The cook and the maid like the bread so well thay have asked if they can each take a loaf home with them this weekend. Mike had a stroke of genius buying a countertop ice making machine. It works really well. The only problem we have had so far is that I relocated it to a different countertop and both of us have gone to look for ice inside the breadmaker.

Today the house is literally crawling with workmen to repair the rain damage wrought by the storm in time for the Big Boss’ arrival on Sunday, except now the Big Boss and entourage are not coming after all. Our next houseful will be on the 7th when we will have a full house of Korean visitors. The Canadians are bringing some chopsticks down to make them feel at home, and off course we have the Kim Chee (cabbage marinated in garlic and hot peppers) that we trailered down here in our ice chest. The hammering, sawing, jackhammering and the paint fumes are a bit overwhelming.

It is beautiful outside today. The view from my office window is great. I can see the ocean is a deep violet blue with the brilliant magenta blossoms of the bougainvillea showy in front of it.

August 26, 2008

There's gonna be a floody, floody, floody

Sunday we found out that our next guest would not be arriving as his flight has been diverted to Hermosillo because the Loreto airport was swamped by Tropical Depression Julio. Of course Sunday is the staff’s day off, but we had been grazing on leftover chile rellenos all day. We had noticed many clouds that morning and the air had become remarkably more humid, but we just didn’t give it much thought. Now was our first inkling of impending trial by water.

The internet still isn’t working at our house so we got Hermana and Junior Birdman fired up to fed us some weather info from the internet which described sustained winds from 50 to 85 mph with the storm moving north at 12 mph. The evening was pleasantly cooler, and we spend a good part of it having cocktails and watching the guys with sailboats out in the breakwater tying their boats down. After dinner of yet more chile rellenos we went to bed. I had a hard time getting to sleep wondering what we were in for. At midnight the first serious rain started to fall. About 3 AM I went to see what was happening around the house and that’s when I found the laundry room inundated and water pouring in the back door. The architect had poured the slab level with the door and it was slanting in toward the house. I got Esperando out of bed and we started mopping. Soon Monday morning arrived, but not any household help! They were all in town mopping out their houses. As the wind shifted so did our mopping. We mopped continuously all day in the kitchen, in the living room, the laundry room --and finally our bedroom when the wind truly came up and threw sheets of water under the French doors. The paint on the walls started to bubble with water blisters which grew to 5 or more inches before bursting and spewing water down the walls in the hall, our bedroom and the living room.

It rained like it had in Panama, a tropical deluge of warm heavy rain. The army came in downtown to protect people from crossing the streets. The main east-west thoroughfare here is called El Arroyo and when it rains here that’s where the water runs. Yesterday it had about a foot of running water in it. Ambulances and fire trucks raced around with sirens blaring and car alarms went off. We probably had 6-8 inches that fell at our house in about 24 hours, but were protected from most of the wind until the last 3-4 hours. At about 6 pm, just in time for dinner, the wind stopped, the waves calmed and the rain stopped falling actually rather abruptly. Finally a rest for the weary moppers.

First guests

Saturday night Esperando and I had our first houseguest, the Storyteller from Prince Edward Island. He is a long time friend from many past projects. He forgot to bring the moonshine he said he set aside on his desk to pack, but we had lots of tequila and beer.

We had invited 6 people to come for dinner. In the morning I taught the cook how to make Ann Ward’s chocolate chip bundt cake so she will be able to do that next time we have a party. We kept trying to make the cake then realized that part of the ingredients were in the pantry where the workman were jackhammering a concrete block out. We finally managed to get the those ingredients organized, then realized that we were missing Kahlua. Senor Jueves went to the store to get that and sour cream (which comes in a tin can and isn’t refrigerated, isn’t as sour as in the U.S., and is more runny.) I wasn’t sure if it would work. Then we figured out how to set the oven (fortunately the guide was in English and Spanish) and put the cake in to cook. After an hour the cook came to tell me she was worried about the cake. I looked in and it hadn’t cooked at all—the oven wasn’t even working! Our first big dinner and no oven, oh my!

The architect was here fixing some stuff so I asked him if he could check why it wasn’t working. After about 2 hours he and the electrician finally found some valve that hadn’t been opened, and voila we were open for business after all. After sitting around mixed and waiting for the oven for 4 hours with weird sour cream that maybe wouldn’t work either I wasn’t sure what the cake would do, but it had a mind of its own and rose to the occasion. We had dinner for 6 people and the cook made fabulous chile rellenos for dinner along with beans and rice. We gave her a standing ovation when she brought the tortillas to the table. The cook is a really lucky find and we are happy to have her.

August 22, 2008

We are here

We have been here 2 days now. I was hoping we would have better internet access (as opposed to none yet in the house)so I could start blogging, but whatever. It is just as hot and humid as I remember from the last time. The most amazing thing was the temperature was around 77F for our whole drive down until we were 30 minutes away from Santa Rosalia when the temperature climbed to 102F, dropping back to 97F by the time we got to Santa Rosalia. Everything has gone pretty smoothly. My two domestic helpers, the Cook and the House Maid have been great and I have the added bonus of Senor Viernes II whom I will call Senor Jueves since he showed up yesterday to help move heavy stuff, get groceries, assemble furniture and do other odd jobs.

Our first guest will show up Saturday and we are having a small dinner party for 6 then who are not guests but are heavy drinkers. We will have to make a tequila run. The architect pointed out we have to add the most important loteria card to one of the rooms--El Borracho. We have nominated the guest bathroom for that distinction. Dog and cat have settled in well. I'm not sure what the roses think, but at least they are still alive. Our personal stuff that used to be in the trailer but had to be hauled down separately after all should arrive tonite. It got taken apart at customs, so I am worried what won't be there. I am missing odd stuff from the original guesthouse shipment, unfortunately. At some point when I have a real internet connection I will rehash our trip down here. But for now I'm back to the guesthouse and lunch.

August 12, 2008

Our last day in Denver

Tuesday came and went. I got the pet health certificates which was no big deal, while Esperando went to the foot doctor and then picked up prescriptions. We crossed vehicular paths at Sycracuse Street and waved to each other. Then I came home for my nap while the Texican did more stuff. I felt a little guilty getting a massage and pedicure while Esperando packed the truck up, but its really helped my arm and leg alot today.

Now it is Wednesday. The dentist took an hour of my time this morning, then I ran errands before getting back home. We just finished packing up the trailer which is completely full to the hilt, its just amazing. The truck is going to be likewise as full as possible. I really feel like the Beverly Hillbillies. I am soooooooooooooooo tired of packing, the worst is knowing that unpacking, both our personal stuff and all the guesthouse accoutrements awaits on the other end. Everything that needs to go in the truck now is all last minute stuff--boy there's alot of that too. It is only 3:30, I still need to mop the floor, feed the pets, make dinner, and then we are done for the evening I hope I hope until packing the rest of it in tomorrow morning. We plan to leave at 5 am, it will be a stretch, but I guess it will happen. We will stop in Taos for coffee with Hermana & Company, then proceed to Albuquerque in time for a nap, or at least in time to feed the Pickle Brothers (my new name for the pets, the dog is Sweet Pickle and the cat is Sour Pickle.) Sweet Pickle is highly perturbed, he senses a big change is in the air.

August 11, 2008

D-Day minus 3

Ok the heat is turning up. I feel I have to get EVERYTHING loose packed up today, because tomorrow I will be busy cleaning the house from stem to stern, taking pets for health certificates and having a MASSAGE. I suppose there is really not an exceptional amount to pack but I feel like there are a lot of loose ends yet which I don't have under control--I almost forgot to pack a swimsuit for instance! Of course I am starting the day off in great form with a roaring case of hayfever. Arrrrrrrrgh.

Today Esperando goes to the doctor and gets his final ok for the trip. We have our fingers crossed that that will be the case and that some new wrinkle doesn't develop that delays us again. I also have my final trip to the dentist today although he could squeeze me in on Wednesday, but I really hope that doesn't happen, I just don't have the time.

We had a pleasant little interlude up in the mountains yesterday. Lunch and a little gambling at Black Hawk--I actually won and walked away with $50! Not my normal luck, but really good luck. It casts the week ahead in a positive light.

I also feel my mind shifting from worry about our immediate trip and am casting my thoughts ahead to worry about Casa Boleo. Our first corporate guests (huespedes) will descend on us shortly after we arrive, I think about the end of August. Esperando is making noises about going to La Paz to stock up on food, as well as coupling that with a trip he needs to make to Cabo. Ordinarily that would sound like fun, but it will rob me of some of the time I need to get the guesthouse ready. Additionally the cook and maid have to be organized, I need to come up with a monthly menu, and I also need to start our account with Dali (the restaurant supplier in Loreto). Then it struck me I will have to make an inventory of food so I can keep up with what we are using or not. I think managing the food end of this thing is going to be my worst frustration, not knowing how many guests we will need to feed for dinner, what their food requirements are, if they stay to eat or change their minds at the last minute and go out to dinner (like we did to the staff several times at the Newmont guesthouse in Ghana), how to manage leftovers, etc. Anyway my first huespedes I am sorry to say will be the guinea pigs and they will be coming SOON!

Enough! Enough! I am off to organize breakfast for the Texican and me. Tonight we will have a final nice dinner out at Elways, a great Denver steakhouse.

August 9, 2008

Getting too close

Well, its been awhile since I posted an entry. Only five more days to go to D-day (Departure day!) I spent today shopping and packing. I have two big rollybags full of girl clothes and shoes, I'm sure I won't wear half of it, but I also have to be prepared to go to colder places like Vancouver occasionally. I wish I knew for sure what winter in Baja will be like. I saw where it got down to the mid 40s for about a week last year, that coupled with no heating in the houses could make winter a bit chilly. Looks like mostly it is in the 60s.

We both have a few more doctor's appointments next week, sandwiched between packing up final boxes of kitchen stuff and paintings, loading up the truck which we see as a two day affair, and miscellaneous stuff such as pet health certificates and making sure the wire transfer for the down payment on our house actually makes it to our new bank account in Santa Rosalia (or we will be having a hard time buying our house.)

Denver has had some crazy weather in the last few days. We had quite a thunderstorm last night which resulted in lots of rain downtown, enough to flood some of the streets and the freeway. Thirty people had to be rescued from cars or streams where their cars or bicycles were engulfed The night before when there was a tornado alert (including civil alert sirens going off) my neighbor and I actually watched the clouds rotating off to the south. She's from Oklahoma and knows about these tornado things and thought it was scary.

We are planning to go up to Blackhawk in the mountains and do a little gambling and have a nice lunch tomorrow. Time is running out!! Starting Monday we have 3 days before we hit the road. Our first stop will be in Albuquerque for some good enchiladas, two days of fun in El Paso with Esperando's brother, then on to San Diego for two days before we hit the border at Tijuana and spend the next two days driving down to Santa Rosalia.

The tidal wave is approaching.

August 1, 2008


Lately, ever since I got my nightguard for my mouth, I have been having the wierdest dreams. The dentist filed it down a bit on Wednesday and they haven't been quite so strange, but still I am dreaming more than I used to. According to the dentist it is really common to have wierd dreams, he says he is changing my whole sleep pattern.

My first dream involved Esperando calling to me to observe some cute little dog, saying he wanted one. In my dream I thought, "oh brother here we go again!", because he is always wanting some cute little animal. When I looked down here was this cute fully grown 2-inch high dog running around and barking. It was spotted like a Dalmation but had long hair. I said, "wow, that really IS cute!"

Then I noticed a diminutive little car, in scale to the dog, like a Model-T Ford with sort of a striped awning top on it, and some grownups and little kids riding inside. I want to pick up the whole shebang, but realized they were actually real and no doubt be insulted at this kind of interference. I wondered where they lived and why I hadn't seen them before.

Then this morning when I was out walking the dog, there they were, not the dog but the people. They were normal sized but were driving down the sidewalk in the park in some kind elaborate Model-T bicycle complete with awning--3 adults and about 4 or 5 kids. This thing had fenders like a Model-T but bicycle wheels, and they were pedaling it. The bicycle wheels were spaced apart like a car's wheels and there were two in the front and two in the back and it was as wide as a golf cart with seats and about 1 1/2 times the length of a golf car. I've never seen this thing before, so how did I go dreaming about it? There must be some kind of magic in the air today.

We are now on record for the longest period of over 90F in Denver since 1906. Yesterday, Day No. 18, broke the record and there is no end in sight. Today and tomorrow are supposed to top 100F. It is very dry and hasn't rained here for a couple of months unless you count an occasional 5 minute sprinkle.

Poor Esperando had to have some minor surgery yesterday and is suffering from dejavu. He is grounded for another 10 days, so we will be putting off our move to Baja by a bit. He slept most of yesterday from the anesthesia, but today is chatting his head off on the phone and working up a blue streak. I am going to abandon him at noon for lunch with the neighbor girls.