Jim and Mindy
in rural
Veracruz, Mexico

- OUR BLOG -

+

Read about our life in little known, rural areas of Veracruz, Mexico. We have been the only Americans living in these areas where cows, chickens, burros, and street dogs far out number our kind...

2006 - Teocelo BLOGS (many pictures) - click HERE

2007 - BLOGS on this page

2008 - Video BLOGS on YouTube - click HERE

 

- a little about us / contact us -

- LISTEN TO THE ANTHEM OF THE STATE OF VERACRUZ -


Here is out vintage Airstream travel trailer in which we traveled to Mexico

and in which we lived for the first two years.


(parked at Rancho San Gabriel near Teocelo, Veracruz)


(present location)


 

THE FIRST SIX MONTHS - 2007

It's been a bumpy road for us the past six months, but finally we are back on-line, and we hope the rough stuff is behind us (see below). We are living in a delightful little town of perhaps 1500 souls about half way between Xalapa and the coast. It's warmer and less mountainous here than where we used to live. This is the boondocks, for sure. Only the main street is paved. That's the main street in the above picture, taken at "rush hour". Now THIS is a traffic jam we can live with. :) There are no street signs or addresses. Everybody knows everybody of course. We have had a warm welcome from neighbors and found a nice four room house with an acre and half of fruit trees to rent for $100 a month -- just couldn't pass up a deal like that.

In January, the rural town where we were living got hit hard by a group professional thieves who came in from out of town and robbed the poor place blind for about two weeks before vanishing as quickly as they had come.  We were on a trip to the coast when they broke into our place. We lost much of what we owned including all our stereo gear, both computers, tools, etc.  It was a bad blow and we are yet recovering.  We found the Winter climate too chilly and wet. We moved about 2000 feet elevation down the mountain toward the coast. Sadly I got Typhoid Fever soon after we arrived, and I was one very sick puppy for quite awhile.  The local water supply is contaminated through we drink only bottled water. How I did contract Typhoid is still a mystery. Many locals in the area have had Typhoid.

The Winter would not have been complete without months of struggle with the HughesNet business office about our satellite internet account. Why they kept "decommissioning" us and not allowing us on-line will never be known as we were paid up with them and the dish was perfectly sighted in. We still couldn't connect to the Internet once this mess was cleared up, however, and finally traced the problem to a short in one of our coaxial cables. Whew...enough already.

It's good to be back! We hope we can post a blog once or twice a week and share more of our new life here. Good health has returned again and life is sweet though energy is still a bit in short supply...

- jim and mindy

 

OUR NEIGHBORS - The Four-legged Ones - 9/6/07

The sounds of roosters crowing, burros braying, dogs barking, and cows mooing are so familiar to our ears that it is really something of a shock to go to "town" where they all but absent and replaced with the ubiquitous sound of traffic. It turns out that that big gang of cows you see coming up the street in the first picture of this blog live right behind us. Their owners walk them out to pasture each morning and back again to their small yard and pens in the late afternoon. There is a lot of mooing till the cows get a nice big basket of corn stalks to munch on and then they retire peacefully for the night. These are primarily Brahmin cows with the long droopy ears and a big hump at the shoulders. The calves are quite irresistible...


- click to enlarge -

Last month, however, three of the calves got weaned and did not accompany their moms out to the fields but were left home by themselves in their yard. They howled and hollered and carried-on for several days and it wasn't so peaceful at our place anymore. Take a look and a listen HERE to a short video clip of this. It is a three MB download and plays in Windows Media Player. Put your player on repeat for a few days and you get an idea... :)

Our neighbors out in back take their cows (or in the case below) two of the kids out for walks frequently in the neighborhood.

|
- click to enlarge -

Street dogs are everywhere in Mexico. No dogs are ever neutered that we know of but allowed to breed freely at least in rural Mexico. In the city, they get picked up and put to sleep as they do in the United States. Some lucky pups find someone to adopt them or at least feed them, many more are left to fend for themselves and it just has to be a rough life. We don't know how many don't make it as of course we only see the ones that somehow do find enough to eat and survive.

When we adopted a street dog we named Bingo, we soon had him "fixed". More than a few people were openly upset by this and kept asking us why. We tried to explain but we are not at all sure what we said had the slightest meaning. When Mindy tried to find a vet to fix Bingo, you would have thought she was asking the vet to have HIMSELF castrated! Not all would do it. It was expensive when we did find a vet to do the seemingly "evil" deed...

Here four street dogs wait expectantly for a hand-out behind a truck which sells fresh fish out of a big tank...


- click to enlarge -

We love street dogs as they are very pacific, often handsome, animals that get along amazingly well together. Mindy always attracts quite a following when she takes our Bingo and Ty out for walks...


- click to enlarge -

Last but not least of our four-legged neighbors are burros, burros, and more burros. In small towns, most folks do not have a car but they often have a burro, sometime even two burros, which are ridden everywhere and used to transport the most amazing variety of stuff. There are many burros on our street, and when they all get to talkin' with one another, the resulting "bray-a-thon" is awesome.

Now burros are cute customers for sure...


- click to enlarge -

... BUT they are also tough. The little fellow in the picture below is carrying one large, heavy rider but didn't show any sign of strain or discomfort. He was moving along at a good rate of speed at a full trot.


- click to enlarge -

Here's another short video clip of our dog Bingo and one of two burros which are kept permanently on our property by our land lord. It is called Burro Baiting. It's a five MB download.

We have taken enough burro pictures for ten blogs, but for now it's Hasta Luego...


- click to enlarge -

- jim and mindy

 

Mystery Frog - 9/8/07

With all the rain we have been having here, lots of frogs have shown up on the scene.  They start in calling each other practically from the first drop of rain that falls.  These critters have amazingly big voices.  Listen to the attached audio clip (in WAV format) of just ONE frog out in our patio area...  It is a four MB download.

From the sound, you would think that whoever is making that sound must be one big frog.  But NO... they are tiny little creatures.  Here is one who got into the house and spent a couple of days crawling about and exploring... and "serenading" us.


- click to enlarge -

Handsome creatures they are, however. How could any potential mate resist?  Here is one sitting on the edge of the sink in the bathroom...


- click to enlarge -

Can anyone identify the species of this frog?  We sure would like to know what to call him or her besides "big mouth".  :)

- jim and mindy

 

Practicing for Mexican Independence Day - 9/18/07

Independence Day in Mexico is celebrated as the start of serious thought and action to overthrow 300 years of rule by Spain and establish Mexico as an independent country.  The year was 1810 when Father Hidalgo uttered from the pulpit his famous "El Grito" (the 'shout' or the 'cry'): "Long live Mexico.  Long live the Virgin of Guadeloupe.  Down with bad  government."   It's a BIG holiday with festivities everywhere (drum bashing parades, patriotic speeches, huge fireworks displays, bull fights, pageants, and non-stop parties).  The local school kids have been feverishly practicing their drums and their trumpets to participate in the festivities. 


- click to enlarge -


The middle school here is about three blocks away from our house. At least two hours a day for weeks have been devoted to serious practice sessions.  This is the country and the level of competing white noise is very low - the sounds of the drums and the trumpets can be heard a very long way away. Everywhere we looked (listened) somebody was practicing.

Even after the main festivities started, some kids continued to practice blasting in right over the announcer and the music. People are easy here - nobody said a word.


- jim and mindy



America's Ninth Birthday Party - 10/22/07

Please forgive the month's delay in putting up a new blog. We have been embroiled in the process of applying for and obtaining our FM3 visas for this year. Since we were both late in applying due to illness and had lost the originals of last year's FM3's in the robbery, it was quite the messy process this time with much extra explaining and documenting to do in addition to the usual long and ponderous process of getting a visa. But there is much more FUN things to talk about...

One of the kids on our street is named "America".  She visits us from time to time with her two sisters.  She turned nine last week and and invited us to her birthday party.  A few boys came but it was mainly her girl friends and family.

Every birthday party and many other celebrations we have been to in Mexico has had a piñata.  It is a paper mache doll stuffed with candy.  It is hung way up high and swung back and forth over the kid's heads.  They take turns taking whacks at it with a long stick as it passes over.  If you score a direct hit just right, the pinyta bursts open spilling candy everywhere.  The mad scramble which follows to pick up the candy is much fun and there is lots of screaming and carrying on...


- click to enlarge -


- click to enlarge -



This next picture cracks us up every time we look at it.  When it was time for the cake and to have some goodies, the kids lined up but it was one line for the girls and a separate line for the boys.  Hmmmm...  We are not sure if all kids this age do this or if this is just Mexico.

 


- click to enlarge -

Grandpa, obviously advanced in age and not in good health, had fallen asleep in his chair during the festivities.  America (on the left) and her younger sister went over and gave him a kiss.


- click to enlarge -

"Felez Cumpleaños! America"

- jim and mindy

This Week in Pictures - 11/3/07

Pictures really are worth a thousand words or so. Here are a few fun pics taken this week...
These two cuties live down the street and around the corner from us...


- click to enlarge -

This is the scene looking out through our front door...
just a couple of street dogs taking a nap.  OURS!


- click to enlarge -

This is Thomas, our neighbor across the street,
all saddled up for a little trip...big guy, small burro.


- click to enlarge -

The beginning of November is one the biggest holidays in Mexico -- the Day of the Dead.  Passed loved ones are honored by beautiful shrines complete with the favorite foods and drinks that the family member especially liked. This tradition started with the Aztecs who had a month long festival to honor the goddess of the dead.  The Catholic church just incorporated this, until today it is a sweet way to remember those who have passed away.


- click to enlarge -

Close-up of the goodies...



The kids on our street just didn't understand what that carved lighted pumpkin was doing on our front porch on Thursday night.  They also could not fathom why we were tying to give them some candy.  We said "Felez Halloween"
but that didn't seem to help either. 
Crazy Gringos...


- click to enlarge -


- jim and mindy

OUR BLOG IS GOING VIDEO! - 3/5/08

There have been two periods since beginning this blog in May of 2006 that we have disappeared for several months from the cyber-radar. Each time we had hit some pretty rough times, but our most recent dissapearance since November of last year is simply becuase life has become so full and fun in our little town out in the boonies that there has been little time to keep up with blogging or much correspondence either. We have continued to take many, many pictures and movies, however, of the amazing and nearly constant goings-on here but have been hard pressed to edit them all and get them posted to the Internet. We have taken to making short videos and/or slide-shows of photographs and sending them to our families back in Texas.

We have now established a "channel" on YouTube and would like to share with you some of these video efforts with more sure to follow. They show better than thousands of our typed words what life is really like here and the many lovable neighbors and burros and dogs and chickens and cows that make our life so rich. Our two dogs, two cats, and several tropical fish share in the limelight too. Photo-ops abound.

Please have a look and feel free to make comments and to "subscribe" to our channel...

http://www.youtube.com/solarhaven2

 

"LIFE IN A SMALL TOWN IN MEXICO"
DOCUMENTARY IS NOW FINISHED
- 3/19/08 -

For about three months now we have been working on a 20 minute documentary of life in rural Mexico which utilizes some 50 still photographs and 30 movie clips taken throughout 2007. t's a view of traditional Mexican life as it has been for many a generation in countless small towns and "colonias" across Mexico.  While small town life is sadly fading slowly away into history in the U.S., it is alive and well in Mexico.

This documentary runs about 20 minutes and had to be uploaded in two ten minute sections to meet YouTube requirements.  English titles have been added to the original so you can get a little idea what on earth is going on.  Our dogs and cats steal the limelight sometimes -- sorry about that.  They insisted on being included. Everybody wants to see themselves in the "movies". :-)

Here are 14 of our neighbors stuffed into our tiny living room
watching the pilot of "Life In Small Town in Mexico" on our TV...


(That's yours truely Jim in the hat at the right -
they call me Jaime here - and my little buddy Manuel.)

WATCH "LIFE IN A SMALL TOWN IN MEXICO"


 

© Jim Phypers 2006-2013