Virtual Vacation–Ixtapa, Guerrero

Well, with the current gas situation going on, vacation driving becomes a risky venture. Since we are hunkering down in our ol’ ranchito La Yacata, I thought I’d take a virtual vacation this week. Destination Ixtapa, Guerrero.
Ixtapa Island beachEvery couple of months, I’ll see posterboard signs up announcing a group trip to one place or other. Ixtapa is one destination that comes up time and time again.

So why should you head to Ixtapa? Because there’s a beach!  Apparently, the landlocked Guanajuatenses (people from the state of Guanajuato) long for the salt sea air and head to this particular beach by the busload. It’s the 9th most visited beach in Mexico, coming ahead Cozumel but behind nearby Acapulco.

Playa linda Ixtapa 03But Ixtapa is far more than just a pretty beach along the Pacific.

Ixtapa is part of the larger Zihuatanejo de Azueta in the state of Guerrero. The name Ixtapa comes from the náhuatl term Iztal, pa which refers to salt or something white which of course is the perfect name for the salty coastline. It used to be a coconut plantation and mangrove estuary until it became THE place to be sometime in the 1970s. The town was designed by master architects Enrique and Agustín Landa Verdugo.

Mexican Telenovela Marimar was filmed here in 1994 and more recently parts of the 1987 film Hot Pursuit, which is a funny movie to be sure!

Besides your typical beach activities like laying in the sun and splashing about in the ocean waves, there are several other noteworthy tourist attractions.
XihuacanEntrywithRingWhy not swim with the dolphins at Delfiniti? Or visit the Xihuacan Museum and Archaeological Site and see the Soledad de Marciel pyramid ruins? How about a round of golf at the Marina Ixtapa Nautica Golf Club? Or go snorkeling at Isla de Ixtapa? You could always play a little BlackJack at the WinClub Casino or bike the Ciclopista de Ixtapa.

Ah! Now wasn’t that virtual vacation imagining yourself soaking up rays on the white beaches of Ixtapa refreshing? Next time those posterboards go up, I’m going to have to check into the packages offered. It would be nice to get away for a bit.

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National Menudo Month

Did you know that January is National Menudo Month? Seems only a logical choice since December and January are full of festivities and menudo is a traditional cruda (hangover) cure.

Menudo is typically cooked in the biggest pot the chef has on hand. In 2018, Juanita’s Foods in California made the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest pot of menudo. Prepared in a 300-gallon kettle, weighing 2,439 lbs, 980 lbs. of tripe in beef bone stock, 600 lbs. of hominy and 171 lbs. of spices. Now that’s a lot of soup!

For those that have not had the pleasure, Mexican menudo (also known as pancita–stomach) is usually a beef tripe stew with a red chile base, not the Puerto Rican boy band from the 80s.

Menudo takes hours to cook properly, a true lesson in patience. The tripe and sometimes pancita (stomach) and patas (hooves), a whole onion, salt, and an entire garlic head are added and the soup is cooked another 4 to 7 hours. My husband adds avocado leaves and epazote (dysphania ambrosioidesleaves for flavoring.

The guajillo chiles are boiled and the seeds and stems are removed. Once soft, they are blended along with a handful of masa (tortilla dough) or if not available, a generous dash of flour. The mixture goes through the strainer into the pot.

Menudo is often garnished with oregano, onion, lime and a dash of ground chili pequin and served with corn tortillas.

If the chili guajillo is not added, it’s known as menudo blanco.

While I couldn’t find any particular reason menudo would help with hangovers, tripe is a nutrient-dense superfood, specifically zinc, niacin, folate, B12, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese and selenium and a good source of protein. If I were to hazard a guess, menudo helps an ailing body mostly because it is a hot liquid (thus reducing the dehydration often experienced after a heavy drinking episode) and the chili pequin spice perks a body up whether you like it or not!

On the other hand, some of the seasonings used have long been considered of medicinal value. For example, hojas de aguacate (avocado leaves) have been traditionally used to a headache and fatigue and hojas de epazote have been used to treat an upset stomach. So there may be something more to treating la cruda with menudo!

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Gaspocalypse

We are well into week 2 of the 2019 Gaspocalypse. Three days last week there was not a drop of that liquid gold to be found in Moroleon, Uriangato or Yuririra. The roads were eerily deserted. People camped in lines miles long in the hope that maybe tomorrow there would be gas. By Thursday, there was a trickle of gas coming in. Gas stations opened at 8 am and were sold out by 11 am. People waited more than 6 hours in line.

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Never leave home without your garafon of gas!

By Friday, a few delivery trucks were up and running. I saw the coke and Sabritas trucks out. Good thing! I don’t know what Moroleon would have done without their soda and chips. Mass hysteria to be sure! Of course, there is a Corona bottling plant in town. You know the owner of Corona lives in Moroleon, right? So there was never a fear of running out of beer. Whew!

gas ilustration

So how did things get to this extreme juncture with gas shortages now in 10 states? Well, no one is exactly sure. Initially, the well-intentioned president AMLO closed the pipelines to cut down on the out-of-control petroleum theft. Gas was to be brought to the stations via tanker truck under watchful military vigilance.

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Gas motorcade!

There aren’t enough trucks to meet demand so the gas has been languishing away at the port storage facilities. In fact, 60 oil tankers are anchored off-shore waiting to offload their cargo. Some have been waiting more than a month. Thus it remains a distribution problem rather than an actual gas shortage.

It appears that beginning this week the Mexican government will hire privately owned trucks to help alleviate the backup. The trucks will run 24 hours a day and be escorted by military police. Good! Good!

Has this rerouting process and pipeline closures helped with the gas theft? Not much apparently! Gas thefts from pipelines continue in Texmelucan, Puebla even with more than 4,000 additional federal troops being dispatched to safeguard them.

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Nearly there now!

The serpentine lines at gas stations continue. Fresh food deliveries are few and far between. Tourism is way down. Black market gas has reached record high prices on Facebook. Police have been forced to ride bikes on patrol. Superbowl Sunday Guacamole Dip is endangered. Suspected fuel thieves are being branded.

And yet, through it all, Mexicans find a way. In Morelia, mariachis came to party the night away with motorists waiting for the next gas shipment. What was about someone fiddling while the city burned?

Even if the gas shipments are regularized this week, the devastating blow to the Mexican economy will take much longer to regularize. AMLO’s decisions as incoming president are being questioned. The consensus seems to be that things were better under PRI. At least there was gas. Who cares if it was stolen? The devil you know and all that.

This reform went so swimmingly well, I can’t wait to see what AMLO has in store for the national healthcare system!

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Would you like to learn how to survive other catastrophic disasters in Mexico? Check out A to Z Reasons Why La Yacata is the Place to Be in Any Disaster: A Prepper’s Guide to Mexico.atozcover

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Abundance and Scarcity

December is harvest month around here. Even though my husband didn’t plant anything, he brought in a harvest nonetheless. Four or five times a week, he headed to Cerano to see where la maquina (harvester machine thingy) was currently working and asked the owner of the field if he could pepinar (glean). Only once was he refused permission. That day, he had taken his father along and apparently the owner had some beef with him that went back 50 years or so. So no, corn that day.

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The gleaned corn he has been feeding as a regular treat to all the mama goats and sheep we have right now to help increase their milk production so that all the babies become fat and sassy. The then-empty corn cobs have been fueling our fire to keep down the bitterly cold December brought to our mountainous area along with the leña (firewood) from a dead mesquite tree the neighbor cut down a few months back. My husband has been trying to reduce our cooking gas consumption by using this mesquite wood to cook our daily meals. There’s nothing quite like beans cooked over the open flame for taste.

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My husband also bought a costal (feedbag) of purple corn he prefers for pozole. He sold several kilos to some ladies who work with his sister at the tortilleria, but we still have more than half a tote full. And he purchased rastrojo (dried corn stalks) from Panzon (Big Belly) in La Ordeña which will be ground to dust later this month as animal feed.

In line with our end of year prepping, we ordered a pipa de agua (water truck delivery) from the presidencia (town hall). This is the first we’ve had to order in the 6 months since the dry season started due to unseasonally late rains this year. The runoff from the rains kept our tinacos (water storage containers) about half full for some months.

What we didn’t take into consideration in all our prepping was the gas crisis. Yep, 9 states including both Michoacan and Guanajuato (which are the two states bordering us) are experiencing gas shortages.

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Gas stations in Moroleon and Uriangato and nearby Yuriria began running out of gas January 1st. The ones that were without gas first were privately owned gas stations, those owned by foreign investors like Oxxo and Exxon. However, now into the second week of hideously long lines, the Pemex owned gas stations are now outta gas too.

Locals insist that the problem originated when the Nortenos (Mexicans who live north of the border) began their annual pilgrimage back to the United States, filling up their gas-hogging SUVs and mini-vans and leaving locals without a drop of gas. I have my doubts about that since this year there were far fewer returning paisanos (countrymen) due to the US threat to close the border.

Apparently, it isn’t a gas shortage, at least according to government officials, but rather a problem with distribution. The new president Lopez Obrador has begun his campaign to reduce robos de gasolina (gas thievery) by implementing a new system of distribution. While working out the kinks, he has asked the Mexican people for patience.

According to some, there are additional factors causing the gas crises going as far back as 2016 when Pemex reduced production. Of course, the 800% increase in fuel theft under the previous president Pena Nieto, hasn’t helped the supply.

Regardless of the reason, there is no word on when our area can expect gas deliveries again. Grocery store shelves are becoming bare because delivery trucks don’t have enough gas to make deliveries. The cooking gas trucks that cruise around town with their cheery song are off the streets for the same reason. The guy my husband buys corn leaves from is no longer at his usual corner. He wasn’t able to purchase enough gas to fill his tank this weekend. It’s just a matter of time before the buses stop running.

We have enough gas in my husband’s motorcycle for the next 2 or 3 days. The truck and my motorcycle are garaged until further notice. The bicycles have been dusted off. Their tires have been checked and patched. We may need to go low tech for a while. 

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