Translation in Process

My aunt asked me if I'd written anything about Mexico yet. I told her about the post I wrote about the Fish Market and how I attributed our discovery of it to her and my uncle.  

Then I took a deep breath and said, "... but I haven't written anything since then because there's just so much to write!" 

I know this might sound illogical to some of you writers out there, but it's true for me. When there's too much to take in all at once, I need to process, either through photography, being in the environment, or discussions with my husband who isn't really listening, but he says "mhmmm" at all the right intervals. Then later, once I've ruminated over what I've learned or how it compares to life in the States or at what angle to approach the topic, I can get to the business of parsing words. The things I've been processing are partly as a tourist visiting the local attractions, partly as an unofficial social scientist trying to make sense of the social norms, or as a new resident learning how household services are set up and handled here. Just setting up internet and getting cell service was driving me to the brink of insanity!

Not far of a drive, I know...

Just when I think I'm getting comfortable with the language, I have an awkward conversation with someone that is speaking too quickly for me to understand, and I can only catch every third word. It's akin to talking to someone with a bad phone connection. Half the time, I'm asking them to repeat what they said or just flat out admitting, "No entiendo lo que me estas diciendo." Translation: "I don't understand what you are telling me." And then they say it all over again -- exact. same. thing. -- at the same speed, as if they didn't understand "I don't understand." At least they're not saying the same thing LOUDER, like we do in the States. So I string together the words that I do hear on the second (or third) delivery of the question/statement, and I smile like an idiot as I try to respond in a simple vocabulary no better than maybe a fifth grader.


Then there are the things that don't need word translations so much as they need behavioral explanations. The one thing I was confused about the most from Day 1 was the "Security" at all parking lots. (FYI: The lots that I'm referring to are pretty safe and I usually park close to the stores and in daylight. I'm also smart enough to lock my car and not leave valuables sitting in plain site.)

SIDE NOTE: Don't EVER park in the lots across the border to keep your car safe. That's like BEGGING to have your car broken into.

Anyway, there are all these old guys wearing hats that say "Security" in English walking around the parking lots with whistles. They guide people in and out of spots, blowing their little coach whistles in some strange code that only they understand, helping drivers out as if none of them has ever parked a car in a parking stall before. I immediately took offense to this practice because, as you might not know, I'm an EXCELLENT parker. I can park on a DIME, bitches! I would come back out of the store to find them standing there, walking up to my car, with that bellman kind of look on their faces, as if I'm supposed to tip them or something. 

Well, apparently I WAS supposed to tip them.  

I pleaded my case to my aunt and uncle. "But I KNOW how to park! And I'm pretty sure that's one of the safest lots in Ensenada." After listening to me, my aunt's voice lowers to a patient tone and responds: "This is how we take care of our old people." 

Punch to the gut.

I'm an asshole.

So now I have a cup holder filled with pesos to hand to the nice old men that kindly watch my car and guide me in and out of my spot and wish me a nice day and "que Dios te bendiga" when I leave the grocery store. 

And then there's my Vietnamese neighbor, who deserves a Lifetime story, I swear.

Yen's mom sent her to the States to go to college. She went into the Navy or Air Force. Not sure which, but I do know she was a military air traffic controller and passed up a hefty salary as a commercial ATC when Reagan canned the union controllers, a lucrative job she could have kept as long as she wanted. But her mom wanted her to finish college, so she stayed in school. She became an American citizen, taught French, came down to Baja for a visit, fell in love, and is now married to a high ranking Mexican military official of some sort that's deployed to Guadalajara or something. Is hard to get the entire story because SHE TALK SO LOUD LIKE VIETNAMESE FROM VIETNAM, so I'm always kind of dodging her dagger-like words.

Yen carries a lanyard of maybe twenty keys around her shoulder like a purse. I only ever see her use two of those keys: One for the villa, the other for the cottage. The house next door is a three story, fully furnished villa (nautical theme, so yeah, maybe she was Navy), complete with the most amazing view from her kick ass terrace. She never goes up there because of her knees. In fact, she hates that whole house because "TOO MANY STAIRS," so she lives in her cottage that's in front of us. That one is also fully furnished, but shabby chic style. Her garage has been transformed into her art studio. There's a small stand-alone casita in between the villa and the cottage with a separate entrance, full bath, and terrace. That's where her houseboy lives.

Oh, by the way... Yen has a houseboy. The word "houseboy" apparently offends people on Twitter, so from now on, I'm calling him her Cabana Boy. And speaking of translation, here's today's second side note. 

SIDE NOTE: According to Wikipedia, a Houseboy is "typically a male servant or assistant who performs domestic or personal chores." That's what he does, so he's a houseboy. But go ahead and be offended, Twitter. It's not like it would be the first time.

Besides the no-comprendo-ing, life could be worse. We could be paying full market price in the U.S. for lobster and shrimp and the catch of the day. But we're not, so we're eating fresh fish pretty much every day, along with lots of fresh cheese, beef, coconuts, mangos, etc. It's like an island vacation, except we still have to hustle and keep work coming in. It really is a rough life. 



beach at ensenada bay lo fi.jpg

Fresh Fish Market, Ensenada

We must have passed it a hundred times in the last month and a half. It wasn't until my aunt and uncle came for a visit this past Friday that I learned of its existence. I knew something like that had to exist in a town famous for its fishing. But with everything else we've been doing, finding the fish market, among other things, was something we hadn't quite gotten to. Thankfully, my aunt and uncle saved us from going another day without that knowledge.

Entrance to Fish Market Ensenada.JPG

The day after my family's visit, I take my husband to introduce him to what will surely become his new favorite place. Right as you drive into the port area of Ensenada, there's a sign for tourist information. before that sign is a small driveway that is at such a slight angle that if you weren't looking for it, you'd pass right by, completely unaware of it, as we had all those times we drove by. From our place further south, there's a left turn lane that looks like it might lead you straight into a wall. Upon entering the small alley way, we come upon several taco stands and some municipal offices. About half way down, there's an older gentleman with a large straw cowboy hat, whistle in mouth, signaling for cars to come in or back up in a tricky ballet that could end poorly were it not for his guidance. It seems like it would be impossible to park our Land Cruiser in the tiny parking stalls, but in it goes.


As soon as we open the car door, we're hit with it: The smell of freshly caught fish. It's not like nasty fishy smell. It's much sweeter than that. Like the scent of dinner and ocean spray mixed together. Watching our step on the wet tile, we enter into an edifice that houses rows of stalls, each occupied by a different fishing group. For the most part, the pricing of the various fish and crustacea is the same everywhere, but each vendor is a little different in their offering. There's also the way they offer that varies. Although I walk in with my husband, the men address me, the woman of the house. At once flattered and overwhelmed, I try my best not to say anything offensive while also trying to remember how to respond to the barrage of sales pitches. I make my best "gringa" impression and sheepishly smile as I say something to the effect of, "Just looking."

And there's a lot to look at.

Fresh Fish at the Ensenada Fish Market

Fresh Fish at the Ensenada Fish Market

My husband does the peso to dollar math and announces that we are the luckiest people in the world. Wee settle on some "jurel", or as we know it in the States, Yellow Tail. It's about $6 a kilo. "I usually pay $18 a pound," my husband tells me in a whisper, as though we're somehow getting away with something. Later that night, he rubs the fish with some lemon pepper seasoning and grills it to perfection. We all sing "mmmmmmm" in unison as we take our first bites.

Yep. Pretty darn lucky.

We're Moving to Mexico!

Crazy, right? 

Well, not really. It's something we've been talking about for years, but we hadn't planned on doing it quite so soon. We expected to make the move when we retired, but then things went sideways with Mr. Jones' partner and company, leaving us scrambling to figure shit out.

One morning, I sat straight up in bed with one thought on my mind. As hubs handed me my coffee (like he does every morning... don't hate), I shared my crazy idea with him.

"Why don't we just move to Mexico NOW? What have we got to lose?" 

Now, I know some of you will answer "Your heads" to that question, but we're not being stupid about our move. Yes, there's trouble. The media's been reporting on it forever. But if you'll notice... not a lot of innocent parties in the reports. If you go looking for trouble, you're going to find it. It's true in Mexico. It's true in the U.S. It's true in any country.

It's easy to see why so many Americans have been flocking to Mexico for so long. Moving to Mexico cuts living expenses more than in half, medical services are top notch and affordable, and the there's the white sandy beaches and warm climate. Although it's long been seen as a retirement destination, there's a new wave of families with young kids moving down there now. Good quality American and international schools are available in most of the larger expat cities that fill the need for the families that are moving to Mexico.

We already had three locations picked out that are safe, have American schools, and are near the beach. We were all ready to go check out houses in those cities when hubs got a call to fly out of San Diego again. I can't tell you how mixed my emotions were about that. On the one hand, hubs had a job offer. On the other hand, we already had our hearts set on moving to Mexico. But since he'll only be flying a few days out of the month, we split the difference and decided on a place on the beach in Ensenada. We'll still be close enough to come up on a regular basis yet far enough away to really be in Mexico and go exploring down the Baja Peninsula.

Ensenada is a huge port city and fills up with Americans every Saturday when the cruise ships come in. I spent a few weekends partying down there in my younger days, I can't lie. But the place we picked is further down the coast at the southern end of the bay, away from the touristy part of Ensenada. And there are some familiar amenities: Starbucks, Jamba Juice, Home Depot, Costco. Kinda funny. It's a pretty active area, which isn't surprising. There's plenty to do: surfing, kayaking, fishing, riding on the sand dunes...

Did I mention the lobster?


Puerto Nuevo Lobster.jpg

There's also a thriving wine country in Valle de Guadalupe just a bit inland. We'll be moving just in time for the crush season, so I'll definitely be doing a little wine tasting. Something I didn't know... wine and food tour companies based in San Diego bring folks down to enjoy the culinary delights of Ensenada every weekend. 

Naturally, I'll be sharing our travels, some Spanish lessons, and tips on the best places to get wine and lobster. Hope you'll come along on the adventure!


Romantic Retreat: Stay on a Sailboat in San Diego

Boat B&B Slipaway.jpg

Have you ever dreamed of sailing off into the sunset? Sleeping out on the ocean? Living the life of a pirate in paradise?  But then your practical side pops up with all the reasons why it isn't practical.  

Still... something inside of you loves the idea of living on a sailboat if only for a moment. The romantic life at sea, wind in your sails, the mist of the sea spraying lightly on your face... sounds so blissfull, doesn't it?

Mr. Jones and I recently enjoyed a sweet sailboat sleepover on the beautiful Slipaway in San Diego Harbor (courtesy of Boat B&B). Take a look:

Mr. Jones and I brought our dinner for two on-board to enjoy in peace and quiet... something we don't get to do often enough with two active kids and a dog vying for our attention. We walked around the harbor and watched the sun set beyond the silhouettes of all the boats in the harbor.

The sailboat gently rocked us to sleep, but not being used to the sounds of living on a sailboat, I woke a few times in the night to the sounds of the motor and other boats. Admittedly, I'm a light sleeper. I think it's from years of raising kids. I highly recommend bringing earplugs if you suffer from the same affliction.

Waking up to the sounds of the ocean was a wonderful way to ease into the morning. We eventually rolled out of our comfy bed and into the galley, which was stocked with fresh fruits, yogurt, juice, and coffee. Delicious!


Boat B&B Continental Breakfast.jpg

While we were sipping our coffee, we devised a plan to buy our own sailboat to run away on. Plan A was to regularly play the lotto. Plan B was to forget about buying a sailboat and just book a few weekends back on the Slipaway. 

The Slipaway is just one of four boats that have been converted into Bed & Breakfast vessels. All boats offer state-of-the-art amenities, fully serviceable galleys, and plenty of topside space to enjoy a romantic dinner. Other boats have room for families to enjoy a unique stay while visiting San Diego attractions such as Sea World, the San Diego Zoo, and our world class beaches. And for the full sailing experience, harbor captains are available for hire to take you out to experience the wind filling the sails.

Whether for a romantic escape with that special someone, a new place to hang out and entertain out-of-town friends, or a close place to stay after a concert at Humphrey's, Boat B&B is a great option. 


What's New at Knott's?

There's been a lot of noise at the back of the park in the last few months, and it's not just coming from the roller coasters!  There's a whole new family friendly fun zone called the Boardwalk, and major updates to the perennial favorite, Timber Mountain Log Ride. 

I recently got to go on a media Hard Hat tour behind the scenes at the popular Southern California theme park to check out all the happenings before the  multi-million dollar developments open to the public. Although they didn't let us go too far into the Log Ride for safety reasons (DARN!), we did get complete access to the back lot area that will be home to the new Boardwalk.

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