Molly Becomes a Mexican, Michael Makes the Margaritas, and Other Tales from Rosarito

Time flies on pelican wings when you’re having fun.  Can’t believe the last post was in January, but the intervening weeks have been filled with both fun and not so much fun – aka, colds/flu.

Still, as anyone more or less retired will tell you, you find a lot of things to occupy the days and before you know it, another month rolls around and then another.  And on the plus side I walked the bureaucratic process with my terrific immigration specialist and got my one-year resident card. I’m now a Mexican, and Michael has mastered the true Mexican Margarita!  We’re set…Viva Mexico, baby!

Lest you think, however, that we’ve been lolling on a quiet white sand beach in a warm winter sun, let me throw some shade on that image.  For one thing, we had all the bad winter storms that hit the rest of the Pacific coast and other places.  No snow and a good thing, too, since I got rid of all my L.L. Bean gear before leaving the northwest.  But everything else – high winds, lots of rain and just generally stay-indoors-weather with intermittent sunshine.  My shorts are still on the shelf waiting for more days in the 70s.

Besides the weather, our idea of “quiet” beach went right out the window when March arrived and we realized our condo is within amplifying distance of the hottest spot in Rosarito Beach – Papas & Beer, party headquarters extraordinaire!  For those who don’t speak the language, “papas” are not old fathers, but potatoes.  Beer and French fries, along with nonstop Margaritas, noise, wet t-shirts and everything else that goes with beach parties.

Spring Break hit us hard the entire month of March with waves of students from the U.S. and Mexico along with hip-hop, DJs, and more cranking up by about 11:00 every morning and running nonstop until about 3:00 a.m. the next morning.  On weekend nights the party included strobe lights shooting over the ocean and into the wide wide skies.  So much for looking at the stars.

The beach regularly fills almost completely on weekends, too, with celebrants and families under colorful umbrellas, sometimes packing their own amplifiers for a different kind of music.  Then there are the local mariachi or brass and drum bands that add to the fun.  They really are fun.  I love their sound. Tubas are popular and are something like the carpet in The Big Lebowski – they just kind of pull the scene together.

We love where we are and the condo itself, but we’ve been keeping our eyes open for a possible shift a little farther from Party Central next year.  I can’t say we weren’t warned because we were.  We just weren’t quite prepared for life in a nonstop carnival setting for the better part of the year.

In other news, we had a chance to meet with the owner of our favorite place, El Nido, which I’ve written a little about here.  Guadalupe Perez is a legend around these parts and a wonderful source of history – his own and the history of Rosarito Beach.  He offered us a tour of his beautiful ranch just outside the city and we spent part of a day there enjoying the vineyard, the peacocks, the sheep, the flowers, the herb garden, the stone chapels, and much more.  The tour ended back at El Nido with fresh margaritas all around.

“This farm is alive!”                                      Michael and Lupe order the drinks

I had intended to simply interview Lupe and write more about the restaurant which is a wonderland, but it turns out that he is not just a man with a story, but with several stories. I’m interested now in the “several” of his life, so I’m saving the writing here for now as I figure out how I want to approach this.  I wasn’t planning to be a full-fledged writer again, but some projects are too alluring to resist.

I’m thinking now about the in-depth approach Tracy Kidder takes with his subjects.  Lupe, as he’s known among friends, is a unique guy and a subject worthy of that attention.

Before I go, let me tell you about our new home entertainment – rompecabezas!  Here’s a sample:

Yes. the fine old way to pass time – jigsaw puzzles.  We found the first one at a local swap meet, brand new, never been opened, and spent 20 pesos ($1.00) for our find.  It was so much fun, we scouted for more and now have a collection, some of which we’ve saved after they’re finished.  I’ve long been a jigsaw puzzle fan, but Michael was kind of new to it.  For a problem solver like he is, it was a natural fit.  And it’s a lovely, quiet, companionable way to while away a few hours.

We send greetings to new and old friends after celebrating both our birthdays, our one-year anniversary, and the joie de vivre of this new life. Moving to another country full time is never perfect but it’s beyond interesting, filled with the small challenges of learning many new ways.  When it feels a little overwhelming, a visit to our neighborhood Tamale Inn makes us forget about the latest mystery (why didn’t we get the light bill, for example, and why does our farmacia have carrot cake but not Aleve?).

David and Nina at Tamale Inn are always happy to see us and they make the best tamales, enchiladas and – oh man – tacos! we’ve found. (We sometimes have them for breakfast!) Who needs Cheers where everybody knows your name, when we have places in Rosarito where we’re welcomed so warmly – “Hey, Miguel and Molly!”

For now, amigos y amigas, we say adios and wish you a happy and blessed spring season and Easter.  Stay open for the next surprise in your own life.  It could be the best one ever!!

Michael and Molly



A Week in the Life: Art, Exercise, Food and Sunsets

Hallelujah! The great storm is over (spread your wings and fly!)  Back in a different lifetime, I lived in Massachusetts and Maine where this old song is a favorite.  I’ve been singing it here because we did in fact have a great storm with high winds, high tides and joking wishes for a cozy fireplace.

The storm and the wishes have passed and life is back to normal with “fair winds and calm seas,” margaritas, sunshine, quiet walks, and the sunsets.  With a clear view to the far horizon, we do see some beauties.  This recent “golden sunset” gave us more than the usual pause.

Michael is the best walker around and has been out discovering new parts of this growing city several times a week.   The mix of urban and rural is without many boundaries as he discovered recently when he hiked through a densely settled section of the city and a short distance beyond to one of the hillsides we see from the condo.

Pix below show one of his artistic shots through a fence to the cuota, the whiz bang toll highway that runs down Baja and in a different shot, the proverbial chicken about to cross the road.   Urban and rural.


Last time I promised a little view of the art center/library very near our place.  For an artist who believes that color is an animal that wags its own tail, Mexico is a paradise of beautiful “animals.”  Colors are in the DNA of the region and for me this speaks volumes.

IMAC is our version of Lincoln Center – the Municipal Culture Institute a block from the beach and home to all kinds of activities, festivals, arts and crafts, dances – the world of cultural and artistic expression.  A recent showing of the Loving Vincent film is balanced by young dancers (and old), art shows, the local library, and the small park where you see the kids, the parents, the abuelas y abuelos sitting on the benches enjoying the sun and a conversation.

This abuela’s favorite bench is the butterfly creation!

The building walls are decorated with lots of art including the lovely undersea series, part of it here.

The picture of the boys is a demonstration of our open air gym equipment.  It’s simple, accessible, free and it works.  Counterbalancing with your own weight is as good as a workout at Gold’s Gym.

Friends often ask me about the food here.  We’re on a hunt for the best and have a few favorites. We’ve also had a few disappointments, but the search goes on.  Of course, there’s some excellent Mexican food, but even better are the dishes Michael cooks, including his late mom’s pork chili specialty.

When we hanker for burgers and fries, we head up to Guerrero St. and Hamburguesa Joy.   For a special evening out, El Gaucho is the place with melt-in-your-mouth Argentinian steaks and sangria.  For breakfast – Mexican or American – it’s El Nido, which happens to be our margarita place as well (but not for breakfast).

El Nido (the nest) deserves a post of its own, so I’ll save more about this restaurant/museum/garden spot until another time.

Until then, adios amigos y amigas!  Vaya con dios…