Friday, January 6, 2012

Catching up in the New Year!

Yes, I know that I have been irresponsible in my posting my blog. If you will give me a few more minutes I will try to come up with an adequate excuse................ Sorry, no excuse comes to mind. I have promised myself many times that I would surely get a blog done.....tomorrow. Well, today is the tomorrow I've promised myself.

We got to Hacienda Contreras on Sunday, December 18th, late in the day, as I reported earlier. The next couple of days were spent getting organized here and resting from the grueling drive from Celestino. On the 21st, there was a feast in the clubhouse of the Hacienda.

From the left, Sal, Kevin, Ruth, Linda, Jurgen you can barely see and Adolph and Millie you cant's see. At the far end is Ulli, Heinz, me, Helen, Sandy, and Sue.

There was a tray of shrimp prepared five different ways and each way was excellent!

A pan of steak and chiorozo (spelling?).

There was a lot of other food as well. If this is Mexican food, we should all be so lucky. Keep in mind that this is only the 21st.

Saturday the 24th, all the ladies were gathering up at the clubhouse to prepare tamales, a traditional Christmas dish. The guys wandered up in time to sample some sopes, another traditional dish, I think.

Here Sal's sister, Juana, and mother Doña Theresa are organizing the sope and tamale work. Doña Theresa was up well before the crack of dawn to take her corn to be ground. From the amount of corn in that big bowl, one would think that the job would never end.

However more hands help make the work easier. Left to right it's Ruth, Helen, Sue, Millie?, Sal, Juana, and Mama.

Helen doing her best to learn Mexican cooking with Jurgan on her right and Linda on her left. The ladies made hundreds (literally) of tamales.

Later on on the 24th, a whole group of us went out to eat at a restaurant right on the plaza in Valle de Juarez. We had a nice meal of enchiladas and very pleasant company.

Nearest the camera is Jurgen, then Sal, Barbara, Robin, Kevin, Me, Sue, Brian, and Linda.

The special was chicken enchiladas and we all had the same thing, varying only in the beverages chosen.

Only after the meal was finished and we were preparing to leave did Barbara thanks us all for helping her and Sal celebrate their 39th anniversary. I did notice that Barb was all dolled up for this dinner and figured that it must be because of Christmas Eve. After the meal, we wandered around the plaza and enjoyed part of a Christmas program at the church. It was a beautiful evening spent with special friends.

A couple of days later we were invited to hike over to the "Castle", an intriguing building we could see off in the distance. It was an interesting building as seen from the campground, but when one gets up close it is really amazing.

The stone work on this building is absolutely amazing. This is the project of a very rich somewhat eccentric man who insists on absolute attention to detail. You would have to see it up close to appreciat the fit of all the cut stone that makes up this complex.

The lower level windows look into the dining room, as this has been conceived as a restaurant with owner's quarters above. The domed room above is actually a small kitchen/sitting room.

This shows the two domes. The larger dome is the bedroom/family room, I suppose. There is a huge bed, bath and shower, refrigerator, fireplace, sofa, and big screen TV. The dome is painted brightly on the inside and the dome shape gives some unusual acoustics. Beneath the large dome is a fully furnished modern kitchen. I was told that he even had a chef in residence in the past, but has not been able to open his restaurant yet. The "castle" and grounds require a great deal of upkeep and we saw a number of people working around. The grounds are beautiful.

In every group you will find a couple of bone heads. Long after the group was led back down stairs and the doors locked, these two (Heinz and Me) came from the other side of the dome to find our egress blocked. Ever dependable Sal ran back up the stairs to unlock the door even as Helen and Ulli were telling him to let us stay.

Walking out from the castle we walk the road of John Deere Tractors. The owner has more than a dozen really old John Deere tractors including some horse drawn machines. There a lot of items, such as swings, around the grounds that are made with ancient John Deer wheels and things. I'm allowed to go fishing in that pond and the only reason that I have not is that I am lazy. I have adopted the manner of "mañana, but I did learn how to put the squiggle over the n.

Just a quick look back.

This is Kevin and Ruth of Travels with Kevin and Ruth fame. I hope you checked his blog for information when I was being lazy. I see that he did 402 blogs in 2010, which makes him one sick puppy!

This is the new Sal Contreras family. Just so you know, that's Sal on the left, Barb on the right, and Donkey Hotay in the middle. Barb thought that Helen might like a donkey, but Helen explained that I was enough ass for her.

"Walking" Donkey Hotay back to his pen.

On the 29th, we were invited to the wedding of Sal's nephew, Luis. Luis is Juana's son. Sal's has been like a surrogate father to Luis since Luis' father passed away.

The chapel was very beautiful adorned with lace and flowers.

Here is Luis' younger brother, Mother Juana, Grandmother Theresa, Uncle Sal, and Aunt Barb.

I have to tell you that this wedding reception was not for Gringos!!! There was a Miriachi Band that was great, BUT SOOOOOO LOUD!!!!! There was all the soda and tequila you could drink and the food eventually arrived, but the music was very loud and intrusive. It was nearly impossible to chat with anyone. SOme of us managed to have a good time anyway.

Helen and Juana movin' and a groovin'

More happy times!!! Behind Helen are a Dutch couple from the campground, John and Anna, a very lively and happy couple.

This brings us to New Years Eve. Not that this blog references all that we did or all that we could have done. There was so much going on all the time and we were ill for a short time so we had to forgo some trips.

Here's Helen taking the covers off the New Years Eve food. Have you noticed that there's always a lot of food?

More food and I will not name the people this time.

Dutch Canadians John and Anna.

The hostess with the mostest. Barbara has been in the center of everything, morganizing, planning and working her tail off. Ex nurse and mother of five, she just naturally worries about everyone. I talked to other campers and we all agree that we have never been at a campground that makes us feel as comfortable and at home as we do here. Keep in mind that with all the campers, we're talking about the whole North American continent, perhaps even Europe. They should franchise Hacienda Contreras throughout the US and Canada.

OK, more food! This was the group outing yesterday. We rode to Mazamitla to eat at the Alpine Restaurant where Helen and I ate early in our visit. It's more fun with the group. What's especially nice is that Sal can translate the menu. Heinz kept raving about the bean soup and
most of us tried it. He was right on!

Helen ahd to check out this atrium with all the plants. She was enthusiastic about so many of the beautiful flowers, but it's unrealistic to believe that we could get them back to Florida.

I found this fuzzy little friend among the plants. What a little doll! Like our three, she loved to have he belly scratched, but can you picture me trying to hold one of mine like that? A very cute little dog with a huge personality.

OK, that's all for today. It might be quiet for a few days until we move back to the coast. Then, we should have more pictures of the dogs, beaches, and (I hope) fish that I catch.



  1. Wow you guys have been busy and looks like a good time. I gained weight just reading this.

  2. Hi guys its Donna, about time u posted, but I can see, fun and Helen busy trying to keep you outta trouble. be careful paul or I'm going to call you Riggs,Jr.
    Continue to enjoy yourself but keep up better.