Mexico – Driving me crazy – You’re crazy

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Well it’s been four (4) full years of living here at Roberto’s Bungalows in San Pancho and driving full time here in Mexico.

Let me tell you a story that I can’t get out of my mind. A friend and I decided to drive with the wives to San Sebastian which is up in the mountains a few hours away. My friend is a school bus driver and he asked if he could drive, so I thought it would be cool and let him drive.

We take off all happy and excited about our road trip and he tells us that a local Gringo friend from our village let him know some good tips on driving in the area. He tells us that she said if we come upon federal police and Military at road blocks to just drive through and wave and smile and don’t make too much eye contact. He says his friend informed him that they are looking for Cartel members and drugs and not grey haired old American tourist folks.

I get real scared thinking maybe he got his information from the wrong Wacky Gringo. We are having a nice drive when I see up in front of us a road block stop in both directions. There are about 20 military men with machine guns on both sides of the road all looking at our car and there is a big Military truck with a dude with a huge gun mounted on the back of a pickup pointed at the cars going by. My friend Dan says “ok everyone smile and wave and I’ll just drive through.”

Thoughts of Bonnie and Clyde and millions of bullets piercing my body race through my head and I think I passed out, but the next thing I know is we are past the stop. I do remember that I was waving and smiling like I was a little insane thinking it might help. I told Dan that maybe if there was another road stop that we should probably stop. He said NO we’re good.

In about 20 minutes we approach another one and this time there is a cop with a machine gun standing in the middle of the lane with a red flag signaling us to pull over along with the huge truck with the massive gun pointing at us and about 20 military police and there is nobody smiling.
Dan says again “ok we are not going to stop, so smile big and wave.” I know from the look on the guys face with the flag trying to get us to pull over that we are probably going to die in a flury of machine gun bullets. Dan goes around the guy and pulls into the oncoming lane and is waving and smiling and telling us to do the same and quick. The machine gun cop is waving his flag and looking pissed and we go right on by. Dan says as he speeds up don’t look back they are watching us, but they aren’t following us.

I must have not eaten any breakfast, because I didn’t crap my pants, but I did express my thoughts about how dumb I thought that last non stop was to Dan. He just smiled and said hey they probably thought we were just a car full of old stupid Americans that didn’t understand what was going on.

Well the rest of the ride I was terrified that the next road check was probably going to be the end of our lives. I knew they had probably called ahead and said “when you see the black Izuzu SUV with the four crazy waving Americans just start shooting, as they have gone through two stops without stopping.”

Well I’m here to tell you there were no more stops and we got to San Sebastián unharmed physically, but damaged mentally for life.
Do not do what we did! Stop and say hi! They are there to help fight crime!

I have since been through a few stops and have never been pulled over. They just smile and wave you through!

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The Royal Family headed to San Pancho?

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La Patrona Polo Club open soon!
I never really knew how awesome polo was until one evening a group of our guests at Roberto’s Bungalows were heading to a match at the field in town and asked us to join them. I was hooked the first game at La Patrona Polo Club
I have been taking folks from Roberto’s Bungalows out to the huge new project since it began two seasons ago on tours in the Roberto’s custom golf cart about three days a week and have seen the most beautiful transformation of land one could lay eyes on.
I thought polo was a game where the rich Prince rode around on horses and waved at the Royal family in their pretty hats. I couldn’t have been any further from the truth about the very exciting game of Polo.
The new fields are almost done and we are talking International games. There is a regulation field which if you don’t know is 3 football fields long and a football field and a half wide. The game is kinda like NHL and NFL combined with horses running at top speeds and men and women swinging big long clubs and aggressively going for the ball (and I believe the other players heads) and the goal posts with one thought… WINNING!
I am hooked on the game and wish I was 40 years younger and out there riding and playing this high stress game.
I was invited to watch a few games yesterday on the new field. I was so excited and humbled by the excitement of the huge new field and the hospitality of the people who are putting this whole thing together.
The horses are far beyond beautiful and everyone from the spectators to the riders seems so happy to be involved in this sport.
The people in charge beam with excitement and you can see by the smiles on their faces how proud they feel about this new project. I will be one of the very regular visitors with a big smile on my face during most of the International Games! I even plan on turning my Hawaiian shirts in during the games and wearing the Polo attire. Might even buy me a pair of the awesome players leather boots.
Yup I’m hooked and you will be too.
There is also a huge 4 star restaurant for your dining and drinking pleasures. The restaurant decks overlook the three different fields. The International field, the smaller field for games right at the restaurant and a beautiful night field with stadium lighting on the one side of the restaurant. There is one more field for the jumping horse shows.
This is a huge Eco project and I as a San Pancho resident and a member in our family business I couldn’t be more proud of this wonderful project.

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San Pancho……From bracelets to Falafels at the market

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Written by Vallarta Daily News! And some of me!
San Pancho Farmers Market Opens for its Winter Season
Every Tuesday – 9 AM till 1PM or so…..

Area farmers come to the market with organic fruits and vegetables, and many vendors with handmade crafts and lots of different excellent food choices!

San Pancho has kicked off their farmers market for the season, joining other municipalities in the Riviera Nayarit area hosting farmers markets this winter. San Pancho’s market joins other markets such as Sayulita, La Cruz, Bucerias, and Lo de Marcos.

This is the second year for San Pancho’s “Mercado del Sol” farmer’s market held in Plaza del Sol. The market opens every Tuesday morning at 9:00 AM, offering a day of market shopping during the week when most other local farmers markets are held on Saturday.

The Mercado del Sol farmers market currently hosts 70 venders selling organic and handmade foods, arts, fruits and vegetables from the region, and of course live music entertainment to get you in the mood for shopping in the traditional open-air markets that are best experienced in Mexico.

San Pancho is my home and a great place to live, as the peace and tranquility in the town is still uncompromised. San Francisco (San Pancho) is a unique spot, where pristine white beaches meet jungle green, and old Mexico meets a new international fusion.
A great place to stay in San Pancho is Roberto’s Bungalows

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American Burgers in Mexico

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Sound the horns and ring the bells I finally found the cheeseburger I have been roaming the streets and ducking into dark alleys looking for here in Mexico. We here at Roberto’s Bungalows love to eat! We got a tip from Chas and Eva Eller www.charlesellerstudios.com/ about an awesome burger place in Puerto Vallarta. All the tips up to this date have fallen short of a real tasty burger. You should know I have been looking for the ultimate cheeseburger for years. I started looking and even started a blog about it Back in December in 2010 in the San Francisco Bay Area. https://cookinwithearl.wordpress.com/2010/12/
I have spent many years looking for my favorite cheeseburger. For Over 35 years I was known as Cookin’ with Earl in local publications. I was always going to restaurants and doing reviews and in all my years my heart belonged to cheeseburgers. The Burger Bar in San Francisco and Taylor’s Refreshers in St. Helena (had me standing in line many days) held the top spots in the S.F. Bay Area. Well now I have one for you in Mexico called Jean’s located in Plaza Commercial real close to the airport. Hal and Eneida Hilton have opened their burger restaurant called Jean’s (named after Hal’s mother) in P.V. Let me say that the hand patties, the buttered buns grilled and crispy with the shredded lettuce and tomatoes made me melt into my stool. If that wasn’t enough we ordered a malt and a Vanilla shake that finally busted the curse of crappy shakes here in paradise. The California fries brought tears to my eyes, as I was dipping them into thousand island sauce and ketchup. Don’t go to P.V. Without making one of your stops Jean’s American Burgers

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Cirque du Soleil theme park coming to The Riviera Nayarit

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Roberto’s Bungalows which is about 25 minutes away
is proud to announce that
Cirque Du Soleil Theme Park To Open In Mexico
Cirque du Soleil has announced it’s opening a theme park in Mexico that will feature entertainment provided by the circus’ artists.

The park will be located in Nuevo Vallarta, a resort town near the larger Puerto Vallarta. It will be eveloped with theme park operator Grupo Vidanta and construction is expected to finish in 2018.

“Each experience within the entertainment park will be animated by Cirque du Soleil artists and follow a common storyline,” Cirque du Soleil and Grupo Vidanta said in a statement. The theme park “may” include a water park and nature park.

The park will have the capacity to allow 3,000 to 5,000 spectators for nightly performances. Details are still emerging, but rumor has it the plans also involve a water park and nature park. It will be set in Nuevo Vallarta, a planned community 15 minutes from the Puerto Vallarta airport and about 25 minutes from Roberto’s Bungalows in San Pancho.

Until then, Cirque fanatics can check out Joya, a performance and food show developed by Cirque du Soleil and Grupo Vidanta that debuts on Nov. 21 at the new 600-seat Vidanta Theater near the Grand Mayan Riviera Maya resort.

But the conceptual designs are sweet — the sort of eye-catching and whimsical aesthetics we’ve come to expect from Cirque du Soleil.
Gilles Ste-Croix is a Canadian entrepreneur and the vice president and co-creator of Cirque du Soleil is here with me in the blurry photo taken in San Pancho. What a great man he is, as he has shown us here in San Pancho. He has a heart for the children and this year he will put together 3 cirque de niños shows right here in San Pancho.
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Cock-A-Doo-El-Do——–Cock-A-Doo-El-Do

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Roooooster

Roooooster

To loud!

To loud!

When will it stop?

When will it stop?

Ok it’s time I tell my story about living here in Mexico. There is something I really miss about the United States and that would be Peace and quiet! Yes peace and quiet. 

Living in the United States I can’t recall having roosters wake me up in the last 60 years.
Here in Mexico in our little village it just isn’t the same. Two seasons ago my next door neighbor bought a rooster and it was one without a sense of what time of day or night it was. The rooster would Cock-A-Dude-El-Do day and night as LOUD as loud can go. Starting at midnight and 3 in the morning 5 in the morning, 7 in the morning as he wanted to beat all the other roosters in the village to be the first to crow. 

 I went to my neighbor and asked if he would get rid of the rooster, because I owned a hotel next door and he just looked at me and smiled. He could speak no English and With how little Spanish I know it was a dead end talking to this guy! I went back and this time he was a little more understanding, as he nodded much more this time with a bigger smile. 

 Well this went on for months and it got more irritating as the season went on. I had had it at one point and I decided to go over and up the amount of money I would pay or cut the head off that bird. On my way over I stopped and told one of my guests what I was doing and she was smiling and I told her I was going to offer them $150.00 and she said make it $1500.00 and I will pay and maybe I can get some sleep. I told her if I was to offer $1500.00 everyone in the village would buy one hoping the neighbor was getting annoyed. 

 Well I left for my vacation in August and September and to my surprise when we got home the rooster was gone. I thought about asking, but I left well enough alone. 

 Something I did notice was my neighbors across the street had bought a few roosters while we were gone. I didn’t think much of it until the noise level along with their dogs, chickens and dam roosters were making noise now 24 hours a day. Kind of like living in the middle of a Rooster zoo. Well I noticed many chickens running around and even started catching them in my courtyard. Before I could complain to the owners about the roosters I noticed the rooster noise had gotten to a fever pitch.
Well it was time to go have a talk with my neighbors who I really enjoy. 

I sat with the son and asked why they needed 8 roosters and he seemed to act like it was no big deal, as he was telling me about the roosters he said that his daughter had a real hard time sleeping, because of them. Then he said that his grandma who is almost 90 likes to hear them sing in the morning, so she keeps buying more. 

SING? I didn’t know they were singing. I really never thought of it as singing. I just thought it was just a bunch of noise all night and day. every day I see the grandma out front sweeping her leaves and listening to her roosters sing. Well I am not someone to take away another persons joy, so I am just going to let it go and know that I am a visitor in another country. Oh Oh Mexico.
What can I say except…….Cock a doodle do!

Dali Lama honors Founder of Entreamigos as Unsung Hero of Compassion

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Nicole Swedlow with Entreamigos
will be honored for the work she does in San Pancho, Mexico
At the 2014 Event Heroes of Compassion

Nicole is a friend of mine in the village and one with a heart for the children. I understand the trials of a director of a huge non profit, as I was in the center as one in the S.F.bay area for 20 years. This is a job with no hours on a schedule just work. The task at hand is always tasks at hand. To see Nicole on any given day you would not believe she runs such a large operation. She always greets you with a smile that is ready for what you have to say. I have got to see from the beginning what compassion really means. I believe that they have really chosen not only a hero, but an angel sent to San Pancho to change the world one child at a time. Congratulations to you Nicole for a well deserved honor.

Wisdom in Action, a California Bay Area non-profit organization is for the fourth time presenting Unsung Heroes of Compassion on February 23, 2014 at the Ritz Carlton hotel in San Francisco, California.
This event is a celebration of the extraordinary effort of 51 individuals from around the globe who work to alleviate the suffering of others without expectation of reward. In addition to their acknowledgement by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the event is a call to action—a reminder that the well-being of our communities and, in fact our world, is ours to shape through our own daily acts of kindness and compassion.
Although His Holiness the Dalai Lama is a world-renowned Buddhist teacher, this is not a religious or political event, nor is Buddhism or Tibet its focus. The honorees are a diverse group of men and women representing different faiths, countries of origin and ways of working in the world. The characteristics they share with the world include kindness, quiet dedication to others and belief in the importance of caring for our underserved brothers and sisters.

This is the link for a live stream of the event as its happening on the 23rd of February
Unsung Heroes of Compassion
Live Webcast
Wisdom in Action will be providing a live webcast here of the Unsung Heroes of Compassion program on Sunday, February 23, 2014 beginning at 12:50 P.M. Pacific Standard Time.
Individuals can access the webcast from any computer, and we are also encouraging individuals, groups, and organizations to host viewing parties of the event. Hosting a viewing party is your opportunity to come together to witness this special event, hear His Holiness the Dalai Lama speak about compassion and take part in this celebration of the extraordinary effort of 51 individuals from around the globe who work to alleviate the suffering of others without expectation of reward.

This is her story
Nicole Swedlow

Jace and Ali have grown up in Nayarit, Mexico, sharing their mom, Nicole Swedlow, with an entire community. “It isn’t always fair or easy,” says Nicole, “but I hope that they have learned that life and family and work are all inspired by the same seeds of passion and love.”

Nicole learned this lesson from her parents at an early age. “My very first job was picking up nails on my father’s job sites,” she says. “At some point I graduated from picking up nails to pounding them, then to painting and to helping in the construction of homes with my dad. I helped build my family home when I was 14. Three years later, after it burned down, I helped build it again.” Nicole says these skills, along with those she learned in the Girl Scouts— “a little art, a little sewing, a little resource- fulness”—have been key to the success of Entreamigos, the nonprofit organization she founded in 2006.

More than 12 years ago, after completing college in the U.S., Nicole spent time traveling in Mexico. She eventually fell in love with the sleepy coastal town of San Francisco in the state of Nayarit. She says, “I didn’t come to Mexico to start a nonprofit. But I was living in this tiny town that needed and really wanted the opportunities of tourism, but didn’t seem quite prepared to make the most of it. There were serious economic and educational needs in the village, and people arriving in the community who had skills and resources to offer, yet the connection between the two wasn’t happening. It seemed like with just a little impulse or a little bridging, everyone’s best intentions could help San Francisco grow in a healthy, community- centered way.”

Nicole wrote what she refers to as a “mini- manifesto,” an idealistic plan for what San Francisco could be if everyone worked together. She explains what happened next: “A friend who is a former teacher offered to support me for a year so I could try to make my vision a reality. He told me, ‘If you don’t do it now, you will always wonder.’ That is how Entreamigos was born.”

The nonprofit began small—offering community art classes and establishing a store to sell locally made crafts. Other classes quickly followed because, Nicole says, “at Entreamigos we believe that everyone has something to teach and everyone has something to learn.”

In 2009, the Nayarit state government gave Entreamigos the rights to remodel an abandoned milk processing facility on the town’s main street. “The community came together to remodel the facility using a ‘green’ design, and it now serves many purposes,” Nicole says. “Approximately 150 kids use the facility each day for classes in technology, sports, circus, art, or just to read a book in the library or get help with homework. Adults come as well for classes, workshops, and conferences. In 2013, we offered more than 700 classes to the community. One of the hardest things for us to do now is to keep track of it all and to let people know about everything that is happening.”

Nicole explains that she learned a valuable lesson about scale and impact through the experience of Entreamigos’ scholarship program. “At one time in the early years we had 150 kids on scholarship,” she says, “but we really couldn’t keep track of them all. Today we have about 70 kids but we know everything about them, their families, and their challenges. We also know that every single one will be able to go to college if they choose to. That is a generational change that will be of true long- term value in our small community.”
Nicole’s decision to create her family’s life in Mexico was not an easy one. But, in her words, “If you believe in something with the whole of your heart then you have to jump in with two feet and go all the way to the deep end.”