Terrific Tuesday in La Paz

In my last post I complained that all of us ex-pats miss customer service. We want to be able to return items to stores and not be made to feel like we have stolen mother’s milk from a starving baby.

And we want to contract services and have the work done on the day we are told things will be done.

And if we enter a shop and need assistance, we do not want to wait for the clerk to finish jabbering on her cell phone before she helps us.

On Tuesday Mary and I went in to town to pick up my repaired eyeglasses from Optica Valdez, and my repaired necklace from the designer at Artesanos on the Malecon. From there we were going to meet up with Melanie, who was at the dentist, and have a coffee at Cafe Exquisito.

So it went like this:

On Saturday I took my collapsed, broken and irreparable eyeglass frames to the optical shop. Since I still have stitches in my eye from a corneal transplant, I did not want new lenses yet. So the shop assistant and I searched for some frames that would fit my existing micas (lenses). We found a pair of raspberry wire frames. I call them “vintage” in other words they seem a bit outré. She said they would be ready on Monday after 3:00 p.m. I said I would be in on Tuesday morning. I left my old frames and lenses and my business card. No deposit required.

On Tuesday morning when I went back, my glasses were ready. The bill? $300 PESOS, around $25.00!

My $25.00 retro frames

Last week MissMeliss was visiting. She surprised me with a gorgeous necklace I had admired in the Artesano (artisan shop). It is a big shop filled with handmade crafts using materials from Southern Baja. There are black pearls in silver setting. Racks and racks of jewelry made from shells, handmade purses and clothing, replica cave paintings, artisan vanilla and other goodies. All of the artists have their assigned days to be on duty in the store.

The necklace broke the minute I tried to wear it. I went in to the shop a few days later (no receipt) and asked for it to be repaired. One of the artists in attendance called Ivonne the designer. She thought I was a tourist that needed to make a flight and said she would rush over and repair it on the spot. I said I could wait. Later she emailed me and called me and we discussed the necklace. Then a few days later she sent me a text message saying my necklace was ready and she would drive it out to my house. Instead I offered to come in town on her duty day. So on Tuesday when I walked into the Artesano and said my name, I was greeted with a smile and a big hug. The necklace is repaired, and Ivonne added a second set of earrings as a thank you.

My repaired and gorgeous shell necklace

While waiting for us, Melanie had a nice, long, friendly conversation with the parking guard at her dentist’s office, who allowed her to leave her new car there for a few hours. ( Just like any city, parking is a big issue in La Paz, and people will take up all of the spaces in front of an office or shop even if they are not doing business there, and the building owners will have cars towed). He also suggested some places where she might find a battery for her old Ford Explorer. We did our errands, had a coffee, and went back for her car. The guard came over to say no one bothered her car, and he looked forward to seeing her again.

Mary went off to a birthday luncheon with her “Ya-Ya” group. And Melanie and I went to La Concha for a beachside lunch of a tropical chicken salad. The service was slow, but nothing untoward happened, and we lingered.

Next stop: the Quaker state store that was recommended by Juan the parking guard. Did you know that 1991 Ford Explorers have a very small sized battery?

One of the things we do when we are on the hunt for goods is to anticipate all of the questions that could come up. We measure the item we are replacing. Copy any and all numbers, letters and names. As ex-pats we are usually replacing US goods we brought down with us. We may be buying something with a US name on it, but it was either made for the foreign market or manufactured here. So we try to be good Girl Scouts and be prepared.
Good thing Melanie had measured her old battery. Nothing in the Quaker state store would fit.
So off to the Ford dealer. Would you believe it, no battery to fit the old Explorer. He did bring a few batteries out for Melanie to measure. Another customer waiting for parts suggested a place we might try, and the parts man at the Ford dealer called them for us. No go. Maybe COSTCO will have it. There are a lot of old Fords driving around La paz, they all use batteries.
This Tuesday would fall into the category of TERRIFIC!
There are other days when we can find nothing on our list, no one wamnts to help, and there’s no parking.

Sunday at the Beach in El Comitan, La Paz Baja California Sur

We could push it to La Paz!

Sunday at the Beach
By Susan Klindienst Fogel

Sunday at the beach.
What does that evoke for you? Sun, sand, brightly colored umbrellas? Kids yelling, waves breaking? Girls gathered ‘round the lifeguard stand?
Maybe a small plane would fly by trailing a message about Bob’s Lobster Pot, or a yacht would motor by causing some bigger waves to play in?
All of these were part of Sundays at the beach when I was a kid growing up on the New Jersey shore.
Now I live in La Paz, Baja California Sur…right on the beach. I mean my front yard is sand.
There are no lifeguards. There are families that come in their cars laden with coolers, tables, tarps and picnic tents. The kids fly kites, play soccer, and have all kinds of flotation devices. But that is later on Sunday afternoon.
In the mornings on Sunday and all day for the other six days of the week, our beach is mostly deserted. Even though my pool is beachfront I could saunter around on the terrace naked and no one would be there to see me.
Today, we returned home after breakfast with friends. I heard a noise that sounded like a light plane flying low, and looked out the sliding glass door to see a white seaplane skimming the water then landing.
Still dressed in our Sunday go to town clothes ( nothing like what we wore in New Jersey, but still more than we would wear just hanging around the pool…see naked above) Patricia and I went down to the water’s edge. Had we been wearing shorts we could have waded out to the floating plane.
It looked like they were having engine trouble and the tiny waves were enough to move the plane around.
Since we could not wade out (and we badly wanted to) we decided we had seen enough). As we walked back to the house we heard the engine splutter, then stutter, then come to life. The little white plane with yellow trim sped across the bay, making a frothy white wake, and took off.
And here are the pictures I snapped.

Gathering speed to take off, headed for La Paz
They're up and over the Bay of La Paz in El Comitan, heading for La Paz or the open sea!

Green Chile Soup

Green Chile Soup
By Susan Fogel

Lunch is ready!

First off C-H-I-L-E is the way we spell the word that means hot peppers in English. Next, we are using the poblano chile the big, shiny, long, dark green peppers you see in the grocery store. And lastly, some like it cold, we like it hot. That means a touch picante ( spicy hot) and caliente (temperature hot).

This is different from the cream of green chile soup one finds in the Duarte Hotel near Pescadero in California. That’s US California, not one of the states of the Baja Peninsula. We have a Pescadero here in Southern Baja. While this is a creamy, green soup it has no cream in it.

My husband says I can never make enough of it. And he also thinks that what I make is all for him.
The last batch I made was enough to serve six people. I had one bowl and never saw another drop. The morning after I made it, I saw the big Dutch oven on the stove and thought “ I’ll heat up the leftover soup and have some for breakfast.” I lifted the lid to see a shiny, clean pot. He had finished if off.

I marched into the bedroom where the senor was still snoring away and shouted:
“ You ate all the soup !” I said. His response from deep under the covers was “ Well you made it for me didn’t you?”
Well actually no, I thought we would get two meals out of it…silly me. And the soup is the reason for this post.
I mentioned in a few emails that I was making Green Chile Soup. A few friends said to send the recipe; others said they would be right over.

And that is another problem in our marriage: my beloved believes that any and all green chile soup or arroz verde (green rice) is made just for him. He hates it when I make these dishes for company, it means he must be polite and share. And he glares at me if I offer guests seconds. Two Christmases ago I made dozens of jars of the soup as gifts, he hated to see each one leave the house.

So here is the way I make the soup.
4-6 nicely shaped Poblano chiles

Gorgeous, Poblano Chiles

Couple cloves of garlic
Half an onion
Two beef bouillon cubes ( or bouillon of your choice)
¼ cup blanched almonds or toasted walnuts
Cut off the stem end of the chile
Remove the seeds and veins (you may want to wear plastic gloves, they can burn)
Like this:

Gorgeous Poblano chiles

Roast the Chiles on the grill, under the broiler or on a BBQ fork right in the gas flame on you stove until they look like this:

jusicy roasted poblanos
Poblanos cut and deviened

Once you have roasted the chiles put them in a plastic bag to sweat for 15 minutes.

Poblano chiles sweating

At the same time brown the garlic and onions in a Dutch oven
Grind up the bouillon and the blanched almonds in the blender
Add four cups of water and blend again.

After the chiles have cooled enough for you to handle slide off the outer skin.
Then cut them in strips. Toss them in the big Dutch oven brown them a little. Actually you are just tossing them in the olive oil, onion and garlic mixture.

Add the water with the bouillon. Bring to a boil, simmer for 20 minutes.
It will look like this:

Green Chile Soup almost ready

Then puree the soup in the blender until it is creamy. Do this in manageable quantities.
It will look like this:

Gorgeous, Creamy Green Chile Soup

A dollop of sour cream adds a nice cool touch.
Or come to the beach and I’ll make it for you!

Video: How to Remove a Palm Tree with a Pick-up Truck, an Ax, a Friend and a Chain!

By Susan Fogel

El Comitan Real Estate

Early afternoon on a windy, sunny Saturday in La Paz…

 We were just sitting down to a gorgeous bowl of homemade chicken soup. “It looks like something from Martha Stewart Living.” I said to my beloved. “ The white chicken, the clear broth and the gorgeous green vegetables. I hope it tastes as good as it looks.” I was raising the spoon to my mouth when there was a knock at the door.

It was Juan, the  man that had cleaned the hula skirts from our nine venerable  palms. Hula skirts are the dead palms that hang down below the green swaying fronds. They drop off at inopportune times and hit people on the head. Our hula skirts were not  near the danger zone yet, and my lunch was calling. I said  “ No gracias, proximo vez,” Which means: “I want to eat my lunch, go away!” Well it really means: “No thanks,  next time please.”

Well the tenacious guy was not leaving if he thought he could make a few pesos and buy himself some beer.

 So he pointed to our recently decapitated double palm at the end of our row of nine stately palms. This double palm was 30 years old and close to 30 feet tall. But a disease struck many palms in our neighborhood, and this one fell ill and died. Just before hurricane season we had it cut. We feared that it would fall on the house during the storm. It made us sad to see it come down.

  The stumps were about five feet tall, and our dramatic landscape lights were still illuminating the sorry site. Our regular gardener and his two sons tried to dig out the palm, but it was too big and heavy for them. He told me  he would see if he could find someone with a backhoe willing to take on the task.

So the stump stood upright from its three foot deep hole, but no longer illuminated since the dramatic landscape light was now buried in the pile from the hole.

 So back to Saturday. “How can you do this by yourself?” I asked. And Juan replied that he would use the might of his Ford pick-up and a chain. He would be back shortly with the chain. Seeing a chance to get to my lunch while it was still fresh, I agreed to his price of $500 pesos ( about $40 US).

A few hours later Juan arrived with the chain and a friend, an ax and  their determination.

They chopped at the trees roots, dug around it, hitched up the truck and started to tug. Well gravel flew and wheels spun, and the tree pulled the truck smack into its wher e it bounced off the trunk and shattered a tail light. Juan smiled and said “No importa, senora.” ( it’s not important) “Honey”, said I, “Move our car please, I don’t like the way things are shaping up.”

And so he did, thankfully.

I could regale you with more details of this misbegotten afternoon activity, but I  a made a video instead. And yes , Juan is deliberately smashing the back end of his shiny red pick up into the tree trunk.

After he was all finished, Juan said he would be back on Monday to  shorten the stumps, clean out the root ball, and turn them into planter for me. And I did not even have to ask!  Dead palm trunks make wonderful planters, the root ball area is rich ansd fertile.

 The stump is turned upside down, the wide part is the planter. they are elgant, and an example of recycling at it’s best. More ont this tomorrow.

 So here is the video proof…don’t try this at home!

My Blog Was Hacked But Now I Am Back

My blog was Hacked!

I am back! For those of you, my loyal readers, and new ones too, it is true I disappeared. My blog was hacked and malware installed.

 No matter how many times we cleaned it, more malware was there.

  Finally we took the entire blog down and re-started it!

Hackers are criminals. They are malicious, nasty, selfish and immature. What they do is worse than vandalism, worse than trespassing. What they do is more like character assassination. Their actions make it look like their victim has done something wrong.

 My blog was banned from Twitter and I was sent a less than friendly message by the Twitter admin team. I did nothing wrong!

So I am back, do you like the new look of the blog?

 I do! My darling daughter did the work!

 I will be blogging about life in Mexico, and anything else in the world that catches my attention.

 Did you miss me?

 I missed you.

 So please let me know you are there, leave comments.

 I’ll answer them.

But I will not answer or approve those sent by black hat bloggers blogging for companies trying to get back links off my site.

 I am back, I hope you are too!