We went to Leon this past weekend for our nephew’s 5th birthday. He wanted a Pacman theme so his naturally creative mother threw all this together (she is the creative genius behind this piñata). If I ever have children, I plan to just shamelessly copy + paste all of her party themes and crafts.
We went to a hot air balloon festival this weekend, the first ever in Cajititlan, right near where we live.
Adan has been to a similar and much larger festival in Leon many times, and once he got to go up in the balloon. I, however, had never been so close to one let alone 45 different ones before.
There were some really fun, creative ones, like this one from Brazil of the ocean:
We went with our friends Oliver and Ninette and their kids Renata and Mateo. I have to say the only downside of a hot air balloon festival is that if you have ever read and understood the second law of thermodynamics, you know that they can only fly when the air temperature is cold. Unfortunaly, in Mexico, it’s usually 90 degrees by 9:00 AM so that requires this to be an early morning activity, as in, 6:30. For Adan and I, it wasn’t too big of a sacrifice as we live ten minutes away but our friends had to leave their house at 5:30 to make it on time. They’re troopers, and we want to be just like them when we grow up.
It was totally worth it.
P.S. The second law of thermodynamics has nothing to do with hot air balloons. It actually has to do with the temperature at which eggs cook.
P.P.S. My friend Jess had her fourth baby, Ezekiel Scott. He is one hansome baby with his adoring older siblings there. She is one happy mama. And I am one totally proud and ecstatic auntie. Proud and ecstatic and in total AWE of my friend Jess, who is a champ.
I like birthdays. I like them when they’re mine, I like them when they’re other people’s. I like any excuse to eat fried foods and wear a hat. This year, the day started out with Adan bringing me breakfast in bed. Now, breakfast in bed is the kind of gesture that gives you mega points as a husband, even when said breakfast is dry toast and instant coffee, because it’s so sweet and thoughtful. In Adan’s case, he made me real coffee and chilaquiles (#gluten free, vegan, dairy free, paleo), (kidding! The Rosales Kim house will never go vegan, thank you. We heart all things cheesy and bacon-y).
We went out to Chapala for the day, where I got to wear my new birthday hat, because once I turned 30 I felt like I had maybe outgrown the tradition of wearing a tiara on my birthday.
We had great weather (sorry if you are reading this and there’s still snow on your driveway). We went out for an early dinner at 5:30 because now I am old and I should probably start getting used to it.
I landed on Outback for dinner because nothing says Bloomin’ Birthday like a Bloomin’ Onion.
The night before we went to my friend Karla’s birthday party (because all the coolest people have February birthdays, I’m looking at you, Kassi and Jess). It was a flapper/Great Gatsby themed party, and it started at 9 p.m. which if you are not Mexican or 21 years old probably sounds impossibly late to you. And, if you know anything about Mexican culture you probably also were able to guess that a party that starts at 9 doesn’t really start until 10.
As per the party theme, I wore a feather & sequin headpiece made for me by my friend Marichuy.
It was a huge deal, as in open bar, 200 guests, water fountains everywhere and valet parking and bathroom attendants and sushi, and I guess people stayed and partied hard until 5 a.m. I imagine this is how Paris Hilton must celebrate birthdays.
We of course didn’t stay to close out the party, choosing to Geronimo out of there at a little past midnight, but that is because at that hour, being awake seems painful to me. It was a lot of fun, and I’m glad to have been there for my friend on her special day, but truth be told, it was also rather overwhelming, mainly because I’m not party people. I like going out to dinner, or staying in and reading a new book with tea, or taking a walk at the park in the early morning before it gets too scorching hot. I don’t love being at a place where I have to shout over the music to make small talk because any sort of actual conversation is out of the question when Daddy Yankee is rapping in the background. Unlike most people, this is not just a being old thing. I was like this even when I was a junior in high school (ask Matt and Brenda, who would gladly vouch for the fact that my acts of teenage rebellion usually had to do with staying up until two a.m. to finish a Wilkie Collins novel).
Also, when in Mexico, I have the added second language barrier. It’s hard enough to yell and understand each other over loud music in your native tongue. It’s much harder to accomplish when you’ve got the second language factor working against you. Now, my Spanish is fine, I would say on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being fluent and 1 being that I can confidently order at Taco Bell, I am probably a 7. But when there’s a lot of noise or distractions (also talking on the phone is harder because there’s no body language to read), it tends to get significantly harder to focus and I end up taking my cue from the other person. Example: if other person screams something indecipherable at me and then nods knowingly I, having understood nothing, nod back. Or, if the other person screams something indecipherable and then laughs as if making a joke or witty observation I, having again understood nothing, will laugh too. Needless to say, it’s a little tiring to keep up a fake conversation all night long.
Still, Karla is a friend from the small group we go to. This is the group that got me to go to my first ever Super Bowl party, so they are good at getting me out of my comfort zone, mainly because we would do anything and go anywhere to hang out with this group of people. So, totally worth it.
Also, though, any day is a special day when I get to spend it with this handsome dog.
In stay-cation tradition, we decided to visit the ruins of Guachimontones over our New Year’s break. It is the kind of place that most tourists to Guadalajara have been to, but that natives just don’t get around to unless you are entertaining out-of-towners. The Guachimontones were a complex tribe of people that used all sorts of advanced (for their time) tools like Windows 95 and Blackberries. That was before they all died off due to sun exposure. As you can tell, there is no shade at this UNESCO World Heritage site. Shouldn’t the UN be giving priority to archaeological sites where you can safely visit without having to worry about joining the ancient people in their fate?
Truth be told, I was a little underwhelmed by the ruins. I don’t mean to sound snooty or anything but they didn’t really compare with the pyramids outside Mexico City or Cancun. Or, for that matter of pictures I’ve seen of Stonehenge, Machu Pichu or Cairo. Thinking about it, I realized that it’s because all of the above mentioned sites are so impressive considering the tools and the technology available to them that it seems almost natural for conspiracy theorists to claim that they had help from the aliens to build them. Guachimontones on the other hand seems like the kind of perfectly feasible task that a bunch of people lacking the kinds of distractions provided by the internet and surrounded by rocks might achieve. This is mainly just impressive because it’s old and because it really reinforces how important it is to be always hydrated and wear sunscreen when leaving the house.
Also this past week, I had a girl’s night out with some of the ladies from my small group. It reminded me that, yes, men are great. But they are from Pluto, that huge rock that got it’s planetary status taken away, whereas women are from Earth, so sometimes we can’t fully understand one another. Seeing as how I primarily work with men, there are times when I really miss being around girls. We went out to an Italian restaurant to celebrate Marichuy’s birthday (the one on my right) and we had a great time staying out way past our bedtime.
We took a weekend trip to Vallarta for his birthday! Because decade birthdays only roll around once in a decade and you should do something extraordinary to take your mind off the whole getting older business. It’s about a four hour drive to Vallarta from Guadalajara so I stocked up on the really good snacks because if there’s one thing I excel at, it’s picking out road trip snacks. And we all know that snacks are the building blocks of a truly memorable trip.
I love starting new traditions so, like last year, on Monday before heading back home, we went out for a waffle breakfast overlooking the marina. When we got home we watched the movie Elf, after which he turned to me and asked, “do you think maybe you’re part Elf?” I WISH! That would at least give a scientifical reason for my Christmas enthusiasm.
And the festivities marched on and on, I made Mongolian beef for dinner (if you ask me, it would have been better with just half of the ginger that the recipe called for, oh well, next time…). He said it was better than the Mongolian beef at Yakitory (currently our favorite Chinese/Japanese restaurant). Clearly he is blinded by his love for me.
Adan ran a 10k this weekend. Like any good wife would, I showed up at the finish line to cheer him on in the last five feet of his endeavor. I’m so proud and in awe of him for finishing. I have to say, I was very inspired and motivated to never run a 10k. It looks pretty miserable and apparently you’re sore for days after (although, I guess that’s more if you haven’t been training). Yuck.
We made a visit to an orphanage this weekend with our small group. They let us take the kids pizza and soda and hang out with them. We had an early Christmas celebration of sorts, with a few presents for each of the kids. They are a truly enthusiastic and appreciative bunch of children and the staff there runs a tight ship, the house was cozy and clean and the children all seemed happy and well adjusted.
We hope to do this on a regular basis, something we do throughout the year. As anyone that works or has volunteered at a charitable organization would know, manpower and donations always overflow during the holidays and then peter out the other 11 months.
On Sunday we had a guest speaker at church, Luis Floriano, who used to be a part of Fuente and now pastors a church in California. Luis is a truly gifted teacher; I’m sure that if he gave a talk on the black plague I would somehow be uplifted and learn something new about God. Another thing about him is that he’s funny, but not like some of those preachers who almost seem to be doing stand up comedy routines sprinkled with Bible verses. His humor is more self-deprecating and never what he uses to engage the congregation. It’s always a blessing to hear him speak.
On Saturday we drove out to Lake Chapala, about a fifty minute drive from where we live. The lake and the surrounding communities are known for many things. Chapala is the largest freshwater lake in the country. It has also, due to its year round temperate climate, low cost of living and a growing and established ex-pat community, become a huge retirement destination for foreigners. The largely aging population of Chapala and neighboring Ajijic has, among locals, given rise to the nickname Jurassic Park.
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Another notable thing about the lake is, to badly misquote the movie Clueless, it’s a Monet, meaning it is scenic from a distance, but up close it’s a mess. The sad (but true) reality is that water levels have been dropping for the past fifty years and there’s a lot of flotsam and gunk visible on the surface. One wonders whether swimming in it will make you glow in the dark. I will say, though, (and I know this is the kind of statement that is made about every small charming town on the planet) that the locals are very friendly, the pace of life is much slower than in Guadalajara, and it is well worth the visit.