Monday, February 24, 2014

It's the People

Of course the big news around here is that Chapo Guzman was caught right here in our hometown. Here's a pic of me in front of the Miramar where they nabbed him. He was hiding in plane sight just a few blocks from Police Headquarters.  In fact he was on the Malecon just a few blocks away from our dentist's office where we're headed in few hours. He was the most wanted cartel guy in the world and I guess the big question is....what does this mean for us and Mazatlán? It could be good or it could create another turf struggle for the position he gave up. But I'm betting on the opposite, I think it'll settle things down around here and make the other bad guys be a little more invisible... I sure hope so, this wonderful city needs to catch a break.
I blogged the building we live in the other day but the real story is the people. We have a communal kind of society here, the people are by and large a lot like us....people that need just a little more immersion in life.  Most of our friends are our age or older and I suppose some of you young people that follow this blog sometimes wish you could stay in Mexico for an extended time or purchase a beachfront advice is simple....don't get in a hurry. As much as I appreciate this wonderful life I've carved out if they arranged for me to go back and pound nails and watch my two boys learn the ways of the world as I chased King Salmon I think I'd have to trade time frames....but we can't, we won't, we just watch one sunrise, one sunset at a time....that's the deal.
Tony Mercuro there is my best friend in the building. We're a lot different but see the world in the same way. Tony talks of things, idea's, projects, the human condition.....he's about as interesting a guy that you'll ever meet. I took this pic this morning as he was reading on his deck. He's reading a book about the history and creation of the cotton industry, it follows cotton from antiquity until now. Yesterday he found some wild cotton (that MP says is a type called Kapok) and he spun it by hand into twine, I wouldn't be surprised by the time he finishes the books he has a sweater woven. Tony was with the Marines at the siege of Khe Sahn, two purple hearts and one golden's a privilege to be your friend Tone...
The other night we did a little entertaining, I decided to for go the amplification equipment and just sing to the crowd one table at a time. I've been playing with the P.A. system so much I guess I'd forgotten a bit about the intimacy and rawness of just letting the old guitar go, it was a great night. In the next pic I'm singing to my friends Ken and Mary and her mom Lorraine who is a legend here at the building...I want to be just like you when I grow up Lorraine.
The next pic is my next door neighbors, Jerry and Georgiana....the love meisters.  If  I ever write the final word on love these guys are chapter one. They stand so strong for each other, the openness, the caring and sharing,,,this wonderful pride they have in each other. They have a lot to teach the world and I just want them to know, I'm watching, I get it, I'm trying....And oh, did I mention that these guys know there country western music like I know fishing ???
The guy below is also a neighbor. Mack Lutz is the sports guy around here...if you want to know anything about the Vikings, the Twins or the Uof M Badgers...he's your guy. Mack swims daily in both the pool and the ocean, I call him Aquaman because....well ...he is....Mack had an illustrious college athletic career making him my pick for the Minnesota Hall of Fame.
 Then we have MP and Tony's wife Connie listening to a new song with Marge Hall who is in the best shape of any seventy year old woman on the planet. These three are simpatico, kindred spirits.
Here's a great pic of Roger and Rod who are married to sisters and best friends for sure. These guys fish and get around just about as good as any Mazatlán gringo I've ever met. They're a joy to have around...thanks General for keeping up troop morale.
This is a pic of Zuelamah who works the front desk on most night shifts when we're playing the songs for the bar. She's in her last year of college and intends to go to Law good luck with that deal Zuelamah, it's always nice to have a lawyer on your rolodex....and thanks for being an ardent fan of the songs I sing.
These four guys are our local experts...if you run low on information around here these guys got the answers. Bill Turner has a roadhouse on the Alcan highway and jeez Bill, why'd we wait so long to meet ? I can actually envision that Esso station on the right side of the road at mile 190...wish we'd known you back in the day Bill. Ollie Hanson is one of the coolest and funniest guys I've ever met, he's the kind of guy that I look forward to growing old with. He's a retired fireman from Cranbrook B.C. not far from our old stomping grounds in Mooooontana. Glenn there is a master Chef and just an interesting guy, he cares about people and that goes a long way on my team....and Brian there is musician, enough said...I love that guy,
Phil Horak flipping those burgers there is kinda the straw that stirs the drink around charge of 'special' projects, 'black op's'.  He takes care of all things gambling related and around here that's a big job, thanks buddy for it all, besides friendship....and those two gals are Donla Marquis and daughter Miranda, good Alaskans and wife /daughter of Mr. LaMarina, Jake Marquis who I just don't have a pic of ...but everyone knows him and everyone loves him.
When you hear people say that so and so never had a bad word to say about anybody it's usually not true. Well Barb and Jim Mullin are those people, the nicest most thoughtful folks I know. Here's a pic of them as they got back from a side trip to Mexico City. Jim has the most wonderful sense of humor and it's followed by a funny blink sometimes....hehehehe...
This is just a snapshot of the friends we've made here at LaMarina.....please don't be offended if I didn't mention you, just please know that we appreciate all of you. I'll still be taking pics and I'll sing about you, with you, too you, for you...with love anytime.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Our house

I guess when I tell people that we stay in a 'condo' in Mexico they imagine marble floors and granite counters....well, this is a great place but it's not that. What it is though is what the realtors always say....'location , location, location' and it's people, wonderful friends that we've met who I guess are a lot like us, people that need something else. So this blog is the concrete and mortar and the next will be the people, the most important part of course.

It's the oldest building on our part of the beach. Someone told me that it was designed so that the hurricane winds would blow through it and not into it. Unlike the new high rises here that are cylindrical or as Jimmy Buffet would say 'ugly and square, they don't belong there' our building has personality. Huge common areas with lush gardens and gorgeous flowers, we pick fresh banana's and papaya's right out the front door.
Below is the a pic of our casa and the view from it. We're an end unit on the ground floor ( I prefer to call it a 'garden suite') so we get an extra window and a few extra feet of space. Being on the ground level has it's advantages and stairs or 40 year old elevator rides but we do have a few 'pets' that come with the unit...geckos, a few roaches, a few crickets and of course birds. Pretty cool.
On the far right of the picture above that walkway leads to a palapa that I'm typing this from. It's an absolute treat, sitting outside in shorts with some good Looney Bean coffee listening to the surf and communicating with you...all my friends. At night we hear the surf loudly, we eat breakfast every day on the patio, we had lobster by candlelight on Valentines day sitting outside, alone, just us.
We got our unit from our longtime landlords and friends Geri and Smitty Smith, good Alaskans. And like most Alaskans these guys are practical, this unit is furnished with the best stuff in the building. I told Smitty one time....'hell even our knives are sharp'.  It has everything and I mean everything you need in quality, it's plush but it's perfect....perfect for us. AND it has something that most our neighbors don't, an air conditioner that doubles as a heater for those rare mornings when you really need a few degrees. So mucho gracias  Geri and Smitty, the place is chingnon.  And how about our tree of life, handed paint by an artist I'm in love with.

Finally....finally the other morning I caught a roosterfish. I was blind casting the ranger lure just after sunrise when I saw the take and the fish was ran, it resisted, it roled 100 yards out and I first guyo in 3 years. I land him and there's nobody around to take my picture...and along with the fact that I forgot the camera put me in a predicament. I did the right thing and didn't kill it just so people could see...but I did hold him over my head and hollered at my friend Mario several hundred yards away and then gave him a big kiss and let him swim away. The next day a guy in the high rise on front of me said it was pretty cool to watch me handle ol slimey so reverently. Guess I've arrived in a comfortable place in my fishing life.....hows about a gorgeous sunset to end this blog? soon I'll blog our friends  neighbors, the hearts and soul of our Mexico lives....

Sunday, February 9, 2014

A simple question

The other day a buddy asked me what I was up to. I said I wasn't really sure but then again there's 'not much' or just plain old 'nothin'....and that's when we got invited to tour the Pacifico Brewery, yahtzee, direction in my life AND I've had a nagging question about that place that I figured to get answered.  I always wondered how they get those chunks of key lime out of those recycled bottles that guys like me put there.

The first thing I noticed is that we finally found a place in Mexico that was germ/hair/dirt conscious. We had to wear shoes and pants, shirts with sleeves and hair nets with dust's the most clothes I've had on in 2 month. Here's MPeasy doing her cafeteria woman imitation.
Now I know a little about beer, I drank some once and I got a son who's a budding brewmeister. So I knew about the 'wort' and the hops and the rice and well, the best part was just seeing that some things are international. The apparatus was just like any sophisticated brewery and for once in my life I followed the rules and didn't take pictures. We finally ended up on the top floor of the brewery and overlooking the harbor the views were astounding. Here's MP and Miranda pointing out the highlights of our town.
One time I decided I could catch snook back in the harbor as I'd noticed all that mangrove forest when you fly in. I hired a panga boat to take me and my friend Vinny deep into the harbor at sun up and guess what.....the pollution was astounding. You can see the power plant in the next pic and with no air moving that morning as we navigated deeper and deeper into the harbor our eyes stung, the water got so thick it wouldn't make a wave. I don't have to worry about Vinny ever following my lead again, that's for sure....In fact that day after we left the harbor and anchored up in the cruise ship lane  he told me something I've heard a few times in my life..." there's something wrong with you". But it is a gorgeous harbor.
Finally we get a couple complimentary cerveza and boy howdy were they good and fresh. I had our host Evangalina pretty well warmed up by this time so she let me get a pic with her. I congratulated her on having the best job in Mazatlán.
And she gave me a gift and it just felt right so I added it to the wearable moe-joe I keep on my right arm. You guys that know me well know that I carry what I call my 'bones' in my pocket. They're a collection of things that feel right and connect me to certain people, events and feelings. The idea is that they protect me and it must be working. So now besides trinkets in my pocket I have these bracelets, sometimes it pays to have redundancy. A couple months back I was surf fishing and felt something float by my leg, so I fished the wood beads out and have had them on ever since. The hematite I bought from a friend 7 years ago and the black 'not even once' went on my arm at MP moms house in the early 2000's, it reminds me to work at being the guy I want to be. And now I'm a representative of Grupo Modelo, a walking talking billboard.
So with Evangalina and I getting along just right I ask the question....just how do you get those pieces of lime out of the bottles you recycle ?....Yikes ! I wasn't ready.  She said " you...are you the one who's been doing that ???" I got kinda contrite as she continued...." that's a huge problem for us, we have a man who works day and night removing those limes that thoughtless gringos put in the bottle"!!! " PLEASE don't do THAT again".....jeez, I won't Evangalina and thanks for the tour.

ON a side note... My friend Slah put the coolest video of our marlin trip on you tube. It shows the thousands of dolphins we encountered and even has audio of me, the fishin musician singing.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The old man and the sea

That's what my niece Melonie said about the pics of the marlin we caught when I posted them on Facebook.  And just like that character in Ernest Hemingway's novel I was feeling a respect for those wonderful fish as well as the people who pursue them...It's major league stuff for sure. I'd been out on the Marlin boat maybe 6 times without catching one and Slah had been out 20 times without success so it was a special day when we both caught one. And how couldn't it be when you start the day with the first light like this as we motor out ?
My good friend Tony has a new motor on his boat so he was itching to go and of course Slah is always itching to fish whenever and however...but me... having skippered the big water a bit myself I might have waited for a day with less than 6 foot seas but hey...that's just me. So after and hour and half crawling through the seas we arrive 18 miles out from our place. It's a bit like road hunting in Montana, you get beer and gas and then drive around looking for things.  And it doesn't take long for us to spot the telltale birds that are feeding off in the distance. As we arrive on scene we have a few dolphins in our wake, then a few more and then it's amazing, literally thousands of Spinner Dolphins flying through the air showing why they're called 'Spinner'. It's absolutely incredible how many, how close we were to them. Here's a pic of them which really doesn't do it justice but when I get better Internet I'll post a video I took that's just astounding. I promise.

The theory is that in front of the dolphins are tuna as the mammals use the fish to do their dirty work, slice up the bait into nice eating size. But this day there didn't seem to be any tuna with the dolphins after we fished through and around them for 20 minutes. So Tony says we're out of here and on to look for the Marlin and again we see a few birds in the distance. As we get close we see that 4 or 5 other boats are on them (all bigger than us I might add) and an Aries Fleet boat 1/4 mile away hooks up and his Marlin runs and jumps only a 100 feet away....yikes, it's like Eagle Rock on July 16 1995. Now with all this going on Tony has us 'watching' and I guess I'm not a very good watcher because I'm looking off into the horizon although the fact that our lines are only 40 feet behind the boat should have clued me into how this drill works...Slah sees it first on the port bow, we circle and the fish disappears....mmm....oooops there he is again in our wake chasing the bait and then, disappears. I look off to the right and there he is, we've darn near run over him and he's crashing the bait again and just keeps coming until Miguel gives Tony the 'lure, lure, lure' order and the boat goes from a walloping 20 mph to full throttle. In all my days, out of all the thousands of fish I've caught I've NEVER seen a fish that wanted to be caught so badly. They are just unbelievably aggressive and that makes it sooooo exciting. 
I've been working through a shoulder injury that has me kind of worried and I'll tell you the truth...30 minutes into fighting this fish I was about done up but I knew if  I handed the rod off I'd here about it for the next 1/4 century. So with my shoulder aching and my fingers tingling we finally put this fish to the boat. Here's a pic of Slah pulling on his and the final result. Just magnificent fish is all I can say.

You know one of my sayings is 'you just gotta want to do it' and this Marlin trip was one of those. I know the pics don't look like the water was all that rough but let me tell you....I got a little sun burned and MP asked why I didn't put sunscreen on. I told her 'are you kidding, I would've had to quit holding on". Here's a pic that might give you a flavor for what it was like.
And the 'Jer sea Girl' . She's a 21 foot Invader that's been set up for Mexico. As we say in  Cook Inlet she's a "swimmer' for sure. It's strange to me that with all I've been through with the ocean that here where it's warm (right now the in shore temp is 80 degrees) I just feel more at ease here. Maybe it's my swimming background or maybe just that I've hardened with age and although it still deserves all the respect you can give it this ol ocean is a pretty cool place to be.
And what would a blog entry be without a pic of a pretty girl and an expert fisherman?
The other day we got off the bus on the malecon to go to the dentist. I looked up the beach and holy moly for just a second I thought this could be my sister in law Paula, I mean how many people do you see with that many dogs. Well of course it wasn't Paula....but I gotta tell ya Paula,  we sure wish it was.