Lots of pictures and videos this time, not much text.
Leslie and I have a freshly painted house — inside and out! The painting crew, led by Enrique and Fabian, did a fantastic job. We were most impressed with the cleanup, both during the project and at the end. They even painted the propane tank blue to match the house!
So the outside is finished but the inside is a different story. Now we have to figure out where all the artwork goes. We may need to supplement our collection with a few works by excellent local artists. I’ll post interior photos when we get some of that work done. Hopefully it won’t be too long, but these are tough decisions!
We’re taking a short break from renovation now. Phase 3 should begin in the spring. That’s going to be upgrading the landscaping, much of which is overgrown, and renovating the front courtyard. Any large-scale planting will probably be done in May or June, closer to the beginning of rainy season.
Ziggy and Marley continue to grow and cause more problems every day. Ziggy loves to chew on our newspapers and on paper towels his fishes out of bathroom trash receptacles. And they both insist on playing with the laces on my hiking boots, which are on the floor in my closet. Do they have real kitty toys? Yes, we bought several! Oh, well.
Marley is definitely a lap cat, and Ziggy is learning as he gets older. They are still just three and four months old.
The painting on our house is almost done, and soon we’ll have great things to show you. But the big news from here is the two kittens — los gatitos — Leslie and I have adopted! Both males, Ziggy is only about two months old, while Marley is three months.
They came to us as Ziggy and Azafrán — not litter-mates but “best buddies” according to their foster caregivers, Kimrey and Juan. We really liked the name Ziggy, and it fits him! Azafrán is Spanish for “saffron.” It’s a pretty name, but it’s a mouthful so we needed to make a change for him. Many thanks to those who offered lots of great options. Our dear friend Jo-Jo suggested Marley so we would have Ziggy Marley! Thanks, Jo-Jo!
They are rescues and seem to love their new home. Of course, they’re kittens so everything is a toy! They come from the Lake Chapala Society, which has lush, beautiful grounds and a number of feral cats. These two are from litters born to those cats. Several other kittens were placed, and at least one of the feral cats has now been spayed.
Leslie saw photos of these two on Facebook and just couldn’t wait any longer to have cats in the house again. Marley reminds us both of our dear Max and Sam, our companions in Illinois. It’s going to be a lot of fun watching these two grow up, as we did with Max and Sam.
I hope we can share photos soon of the house transformation. Then Leslie and I will live for several months (we hope) without any renovation going on. There’s still work to do done, but we need a break! We think landscaping will be next, but probably not until spring.
More good news. I have taken on a new volunteer role that’s interesting and doesn’t take a lot of time. I am translating Spanish news articles into English for local weekly newspaper Seminario Laguna. Okay, not really “translating,” more like “editing,” which is what I do best.
The Spanish-language paper has two pages in English. Along with several other volunteers, I take assigned articles in Spanish, translate them into English using DeepL (which is an outstanding online translation tool), then edit the result so it’s more understandable to ex-pats and other English-speakers. I may get a chance to do some writing also.
Finally, a shout-out to the Chicago Sky, who just won their first Women’s NBA championship! It’s a great day for Chicago sports!
Our home renovation in Mexico continues! Interior painting has started. In about another week, the master bedroom will be pretty much the same color as the new bathroom and the laundry room. That will make the master suite all the same color. The guest bedroom and bath will be a soothing light teal.
But best of all, according to Leslie, is that we’re getting rid of the purple accents in the living/dining room. The main area of our home will be much lighter and brighter, and will accommodate a variety of artwork.
Once the inside has been transformed, Enrique’s crew will start on the outside. We hope everything will be done before the end of the year. Then we’ll turn our attention to the front courtyard and the landscaping.
The second phase of our home renovation has begun. All doors and windows have been replaced and the front entrance has been transformed from black metal sliding glass doors to a standard double door with side panels that open to let the breezes through. The fixed panels are now etched glass with a pattern that matches the windows in the new master bathroom.
Now we can start painting the house inside and outside, which is the second half of Phase 2.
Interior painting should begin by early September. We have chosen a nice neutral color that looks great with our artwork and rugs. The guest suite will be a nice light teal color with darker teal trim. We’re still debating about a color for the master bedroom.
Exterior painting, a nice light blue with white trim, will have to wait until rainy season is over. That’s probably early November. So we hope Phase 2 will be over by Christmas.
What’s next? Probably landscaping. We have a lot to do in the front because all the large plants were removed for the addition of the new bathroom. We also need to redesign the front patio and move the fountain, which right now is in an awkward place directly in front of the main door. Plants in the back are badly overgrown, so we need to look at that too. At some point, I’m hoping to renovate the office area, which doubles as the family room, or TV room. Phase 3 certainly won’t happen until 2022.
Our renovation is almost done and, of course, it’s later than expected and a little over budget. What a shock! We have our rental until Jan. 15 and we hope to move back into our home by then. We’ve got lots of cleaning to do!
The next important thing is to get everybody COVID-vaccinated so you can come visit!
Maybe. The renovation is on schedule. Work on the kitchen plumbing and electrical is done, as is the wall repair and painting. The appliances have been delivered and the carpenter is taking last-minute measurements for the cabinetry. So the kitchen, at least, may be finished on time.
We’ve been picking out tiles and fixtures for the new bathroom, and the old bathroom is almost ready for the washer and dryer. I’m providing as many photos as possible at the end of this post.
In other news, Leslie and I always believed there was a bit of “magic” in our charming little village of Ajijic. Now the federal government agrees. Ajijic was just named a “Pueblo Mágico,” or Magical Village. It’s one of 11 new Pueblos Mágicos throughout Mexico. There are now nine in the state of Jalisco.
This program promotes tourism, especially among Mexicans. So there is some concern about how the village is going to handle lots of new turistas. Parking is quite limited in the village and there are not a lot of hotel rooms available. The upside is that local officials expect a number of improvements — most notably an enormous project to move all utility wires underground. That will likely take years to complete. We’ll see.
Leslie and I have been to several Pueblos Mágicos in the time we’ve lived here. We think this designation will be great for the Lakeside area.
Finally, the pandemic continues. We’ve heard news reports that Mexico has a plan for distributing the Pfizer vaccine early in 2021. We are in the third priority group, right behind health care professionals and people over 80. No discrimination — natives and gringos will all be treated the same. Maybe this is the beginning of the end.
Leslie and I are finally home. After two years of being vagabonds in Europe and The Americas, and 18 months of renting apartments and homes in the Lake Chapala area, we have moved into our house in Ajijic, Jalisco, México.
We have a lot of work to do. First, a complete kitchen remodel. It’s a bit small, so we’re moving the laundry to a space in the master bedroom closet that we don’t really need for clothes. We’ll get a new stackable pair for that location, then move the refrigerator into where the laundry is now. That will open up room for more cabinets and counter space. There’s painting to be done (way too much purple right now) and new plants to add in the garden, and maybe a facelift for the front. But all of that will have to wait until we believe it’s safe to have contractors working in and around the house.
As for the pandemic, our little corner of paradise is no longer virus-free. As of Monday, July 6, there are 32 confirmed and 10 suspected cases in the Chapala municipality (similar to a county in the U.S.), which includes Ajijic. There have been two deaths. The good news is no new cases have been reported to the government in the past few days. There are roughly 50,000 people in the Chapala municipality.
The state government has loosened restrictions somewhat, but face masks are required in grocery stores, banks and other local businesses. Restaurants are allowed to serve dine-in customers as along as there’s adequate separation. We’re still getting food delivered to our house, though.
We’re debating whether to start in-person church services again in August at St. Andrew’s Anglican Church, but it sounds like most of our members are fine with waiting until later in the year. We’ve been doing a Morning Prayer service — Episcopalians will understand that — every Sunday morning on Zoom, and it’s getting better every week. We have anywhere from 30 to 40 people signing in, some from the U.S. and Canada.
The church is not wasting this time, though. We’ve already had big mirrors removed from the north wall of the sanctuary and the whole sanctuary painted. Instead of pews, we have moveable chairs, and until today they had brown upholstery that looked worn on most. Now they’re all a nice dark blue. We got 175 chairs recovered for 300 pesos each. That’s less than $15 USD each.
It’s rainy season here, so heavy thunderstorms roll through almost every night. If they hit before bedtime, we get to see the light show. If it’s 2 a.m., like many nights, then we roll over and go back to sleep.