I should have been writing more often so as to remember the things I wanted to write about, but unfortunately I think that a big case of 'mañana' seems to have overtaken me.
On the second day after our big family took over occupation of this property and the beach in front Bruce and I took a walk up the beach to check out all the action. It was hard to find anywhere to walk because there were so many people doing beach things. We watched a no-holds barred, take no prisoners ‘soccer/rugby/kick boxing’ match. These guys were deadly and there were no rules! They’d jump on each other and wrestle and slam each other to the ground and run someone into the ocean or sit on someone and grind him into the sand – just to get the ball. There were tiny kids all around, oblivious to the game, making sand castles and these guys were merciless. At some point one of the Dad’s managed to get hold of their ball and told them in no uncertain terms that they had to get their asses away from the little kids or they weren’t getting their ball back. They conformed – for all of 30 seconds – then the war was on again.
Every possible kind of vendor is out on the beach: food vendors with shrimp, mangos and fish skewered on sticks. Ice cream carts, cakes, muffins, nuts, candies, coconuts – all being wheeled on a variety of hand-pulled/pushed carts and, of course, there’s the tequila man who pours you a shot and mixes it up with something from huge, heavy containers that he carries on a pole slung over his shoulders. Then there are the souvenir sellers: jewellery, hats, hammocks and beach clothing. It’s an incredibly colourful kaleidoscope of activity.
Coming back from our walk we sat down in a couple of the chairs in front of the house to watch and soak up more of the holiday atmosphere. Immediately, our house guest brought us two beers that were promptly followed by steaks and salads from the charcoal BBQ that they had set up there. Little did we know at this point that this was only the beginning of a very tasty, week-long gustatory relationship with this family!
There are four brothers and two sisters (from an even larger) Guadalajara family, along with various spouses, children and grandchildren. We have absolutely NO IDEA how many are actually staying here, but every night we hear what sounds like serious re-modelling going on in each suite that worried us for a bit. We finally worked it out that we think it’s just them moving furniture and blowing up air mattresses with a huge electric pump.
Each day one of the family groups within the family has the responsibility of preparing comida (the main, mid-afternoon meal) and, whether Bruce and I were on the beach or not, we were supplied with a meal every single day! If we were out on our balcony they’d holler that food was ready and, if not, we’d hear someone coming up the stairs yelling “Li!” and they’d appear with an entire meal in their hands for us! We’ve had tacos with all the fixings, shrimp gratinado, seafood stew, ceviche and I can’t remember what else now – but I haven’t had to cook for a week! (Bruce told the family that I’d have to start cooking soon or I’d forget how to!)
A few of the De La O's (yes, that's their full family neme) speak a tiny amount of English (possibly less than my Spanish) and Bruce is pretty good with his gestures but my Spanish has had a massive workout this last week! In fact, one of the women was nice enough to say as she was leaving that my Spanish is much, much more fluent at the end of the week than it was at the beginning! We’ve spent a lot of time with them, sitting, watching, talking, playing. One of their kids (a 12 year old) had a birthday and we were sitting down there on the beach with them, having a drink or three, when two of the fathers came out with huge, heavy bags FULL of balloons filled with water. Then the fight was on – how to clear a marquee in a flash! There was water everywhere: everyone was soaked and chairs were overturned in the mad scramble but everyone was having a wonderful time.
Fairly early in the week we found that we had a really close connection with this family – and not only because we like them so much! One of the sisters, Paty, and her husband have just finished building a beach house here in La Manz (some of this huge family are also staying with them and some are up on the hill with Sue and Bill). Paty asked where we live and then said “I have a VERY, very good friend – ever since school – who married a Canadian and moved to Gabriola! Maybe you know her?” Well, what are the chances? I mean, there are around 112 million people in Mexico and Metropolitan Guadalajara, where this family is from is, arguably, the second or third largest city with about 5 million residents. We know exactly ONE Mexican lady in Canada and who do you think that is? None other than Paty’s very good school friend who is very close to this entire family! Next thing you know we’re talking about our friend Ana’s mother (who has been sick) and a sister in law who both came and visited our house on Gabriola a few years ago. Go figure – what a tiny world this can be!
On a number of occasions the family would invite one of the strolling bandas over to play at their tent, in which case dancing often followed. We were given a very nice drink one day: tequila, a bit of sugar, a drop of granita (a sweet pomegranate syrup) topped up with coco water. A couple of the guys had brought out a bucket half full of water then when the fresh coconut guy came along the beach they had him empty out a bunch of coconuts into the water to top up the bucket and it made a delicious drink.
One evening we were invited up to Paty’s new house with the entire family – we feel very fortunate and privileged to have been included in their family activities and we also feel we have been very lucky with the quality of our guests this week. After hearing about how bad it can be cleaning up after having dozens of people in the place, everyone packed up all their vehicles and family and stuff yesterday morning after a full week here and headed back to Guadalajara then, with our terrific cleaning lady, Jaqueline, and her two daughters, we were all cleaned up and ready to go again by the end of the same day. Only one suite was in not very good condition, but the others were fine.
So off they all went, leaving Bruce and me looking at each other and saying, “now what?” It feels pretty empty here with our new friends all gone. However, I managed to get past that thought fairly quickly after I spent yesterday doing all the laundry from all five units, though: that’s all the bedding from a dozen beds, 28 bath towels and 28 hand towels, and sundry other items like facecloths and kitchen cloths. There is one domestic washing machine here and a very slow dryer and I was up and down the spiral concrete staircase inside the house ALL DAY LONG! Today my feet and calves really know all about it and are protesting at the abuse.)
Part III of the Easter Week Trilogy follows: Discos, Sisterns and Polo