Thursday, August 31, 2017

August in Oregon: Visiting Family and Camping

Retiring Early Gives Us Time to Travel

Jon & Terry Relaxing at Cotillion Gardens RV Park Near Santa Cruz
     "Retirement Before the Age of 59" means plenty of time to do all the things we enjoy, especially traveling to Oregon from our home in Mexico to visit our children, grandchildren, and my mother and aunt. This August, we enjoyed the trip in our motorhome, up through the coastal route of California and Oregon. We camped with some of our children and grandchildren on the Rogue River, watched the solar eclipse with my mother in Salem, saw our new grandson for the first time, and enjoyed clear, sunny skies and delicious seafood in Florence. August was a good month to be in Oregon!
Camping in the Redwoods in Felton, California
Mendocino, California
Thompson McMenamins with Mom & Aunt Dorothy
Camping with the Kids & Grandkids at Farewell Bend
Cooking Hobo Stew and Hotdogs Over the Campfire
Cooling Off With Jon & Bella By the Rogue River
Holding Our Youngest Granddaughter, Eva
Eva Finally Asleep, Dirty & Content on Daddy Chris' Lap
Granddaughters' Silliness and Togetherness in the Hammock
Michelle & Juliet on the Electric Scooter
I Held Our 2-Week Old Grandson
We Watched the Solar Eclipse in Salem with My Mom, Kathy
My Own Photo of the Eclipse at Totality
Eva Played with Her Great-Grandma Kathy
Forest Fire Smoke Was Bad in Much of Oregon
So We Headed Back to the Coast for Blue Skies & Seafood!
     We are grateful that we planned our "Retirement Before the Age of 59". We'll enjoy Oregon and our family for a bit longer before we return to our home in Mexico.
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Thursday, August 10, 2017

CULTURE SHOCK LESSONS #104: Moving to Mexico--Noisy Roosters, Dogs, & Chachalacas!

Plus Other Daily Sounds of Mexico
Dogs, Rooster, and Chickens in Front of Our Home

     Choosing to retire in Mexico for us meant a decision to live in real Mexico. That meant finding a small affordable, Mexican-style home in a barrio, a Mexican neighborhood. We found our perfect Hacienda-style home at the end of a cobblestone road surrounded by friendly local families and a sprinkling of international expats. An unexpected surprise bonus is that the Cake Lady lives behind us, so we enjoy the aromas of her cakes and breads baking, different recipes each morning. We really love living in our barrio. There were just a few other surprises that challenge our patience.
Roosters Crow At All Hours!
Crowing Roosters
The first test was adjusting to the annoying crowing of roosters. At. All. Hours! I have always despised being on vacation in an exotic place like Hawaii, enjoying a morning of sleeping in, only to be awakened at dawn by a rooster crowing. Then I found we had moved into a neighborhood full of roosters that crow at all hours of the night and day. I thought I would lose my mind when the first one started crowing at 3:00 AM, waking me from a sound sleep, and other roosters followed with their own variations of crowing every half-hour or so until 9:00. Then there was the young rooster, “Junior”, I called him, who was practicing his crow. He would wake up and start crowing if I turned on my bathroom light at 1:00 in the morning. I would quickly turn the light off and mutter, “Shhh, go back to sleep, Junior” and he would quiet after a few minutes.
I am still amazed that I no longer hear the roosters crowing at night. The brain learns to block out repetitive noises during sleep. I suppose it is much like people who say they no longer hear a train that goes by their house every night at 2:00AM. I guess I would miss the roosters if they were gone. They sure don’t keep me from sleeping in until 9:00 in the morning when I choose to these days.
Part of the Dog Pack On Guard in Our Road
Barking Dogs
The second challenge of living in the barrio was adjusting to the loud, sometimes incessant sound of barking dogs. Our neighbors across the street have a protective pack of mutts that vacillates in size from nine to seven, depending on how many passed away that year, whether a litter was born before the mama was spayed, and how many new dogs wandered in to eat or play and never left. The alpha male (not shown) scared me so badly the first few times I encountered the pack, every dog running loose and free to do as they please. When I approached the gate to our home, I would pick up Bella, our dachshund, and just stand still in the road while the large, Shephard-mix faced me, feet set, teeth bared, fiercely barking as if to say, “This is my street and you are not passing me”, and all of his canine pals were backing him up with loud agreement. I wouldn’t pass them until one of the neighbors came out to see what the commotion was about and call off the hounds when they recognized me.
Now the neighborhood dogs know us and greet us with wagging tails. Some even come to us for a belly rub or a scratch behind the ear. These days, when the pack starts their ferocious, noisy, continuous barking, we know there’s a stranger in the area. Those dogs are helping keep the neighborhood and us safe. We appreciate them.
Then there are the nights that a dog starts yapping for some unknown reason and it goes on for hours. I often wonder if the dog's people left it at home alone and the dog is just feeling abandoned. Jon thinks the dog is just yapping to hear himself talk. Whatever the reason, the annoying ruckus can continue for hours. I am grateful that the white noise of the ceiling fan and nightly use of earplugs help me block out the sound of yapping dogs at all hours of the night.
A Chachalaca Eating Berries in Our Palm Tree
Raucous Chachalacas
The unbelievably loud, raucous sound of a flock of Chachalacas in the mango trees next door to our house makes roosters crowing seem pleasant by comparison. About the time the roosters stop crowing in the morning, the Chachalacas start their group “squeaky-hinge” bird calls. These large birds, similar in size and appearance to a wild turkey, are interesting to watch. They are nearly silent as they flap and walk their way to the top of the mango trees to roost each evening. Usually seen in pairs and groups of pairs, they have a quiet, sweet chirp as they communicate with their mates and young. But, be ready for the sound of eight or ten making their morning wake-up calls!
When we first visited Sayulita and I heard a tree-full of Chachalacas singing their awful song, I recall commenting to Jon, “How can people live next to that?” Then we found ourselves living next to that and wondered how we would adjust. We not only adjusted to it, we enjoy them as part of the sounds of Mexico. We just smile when we hear the Chachalacas start their morning chorus, we shake our heads, and we sometimes comment, “There they go.” After an hour of squeaky-hinge birdsong, they quiet. The chickens clucking as they scratch in the flowerbed outside our garden wall and hang out with "Juan the Crested Guan" are the only background noises for a while.
"Juan the Crested Guan" Hangs Out with the Chickens
Other Sounds of Mexico
There are other daily sounds of Mexico that are noticeable and were sometimes annoying when we first moved there. There are the loudspeaker sounds played by vendors selling their wares including three gas truck companies, each with its own unique musical or vocal recording. Other trucks and cars drive with their speakers announcing the sale of produce, seafood, bread and pastries, beds and mattresses, and other necessities for day-to-day living. A scrap-metal man drives his truck by daily looking for discarded junk to recycle, the purified drinking water trucks make their rounds, and the flower man calls through the gate when he has a wheelbarrow full of potted plants to sell.
The Produce Truck Speakers Announce His Arrival at Our Home

     We love these daily sounds, which have become background music of our life. But our favorite is when the Soni-gas truck comes up our street, the speaker playing a woman’s voice singing. Before we have caught the first notes of her song, the alpha male dog outside our gate begins to howl and soon the whole pack joins in, howling a plaintive song. We laugh while the music and howling continue until the Soni-gas truck resumes his travels away from our corner of the barrio. 

     To read more about Culture Shock and lessons learned after moving to Mexico, Check out my  "Healthy Living and Traveling in Mexico #3" eBook on Amazon, Living in Mexico LESSONS LEARNED, available worldwide.

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Happy Retirement and Travels!
Terry L Turrell, Author