Tag Archives: life in Mexico

Cuaresma Pool Project

After going back and forth on how we wanted to develop our new lot, we decided that we needed a pool. Thus the digging began. I wanted it to go from wall to wall, but that’s not how it was dug. The total area is about 19 feet by 9 feet, and it’s about 3 1/2 feet deep. 

 The digging took some time, but on Ash Wednesday, we were finally ready to pour the floor. The goal was to get it finished for Semana Santa. 

Since only my husband and son would be working on the project, not a whole crew of coladores (roof builders), we rented the cement mixer to save some time. Well, turns out not all that much time and effort was saved. The mixer was a bit wonky and stopped repeatedly. So a half-day job turned into a full-day effort. And it was HOT, making both workers mighty cranky.

The second workday was brief. My husband decided he had to get his truck paperwork and license plates straightened out that day, so in lieu of actual work, they moved the bricks from the brick pile to the pool floor so that bricklaying could commence bright and early the next day.

My husband is a super bricklayer when he gets started, so the walls to the pool were done in a matter of days. My son prepared the cement mix. My husband did the bricklaying, and tada! 

The enjarando (patching the bricks with cement) is my husband’s least favorite job, and of course, that took the better part of a week. Next, we went on a shopping excursion for some tiles. We only went to 4 different tile shops (which was surprisingly few) until we found something we liked. My son picked out this pebble tile, and we bought some. We had to drive to the warehouse some distance from the store and pick it up ourselves, and the boxes of tile were not exact matches to each other, but they were close enough that it was fine.

Once we got home my husband admitted that he hadn’t taken the floor into consideration when estimating how many tiles the pool would need. That was annoying. So we decided to not do anything to the floor. My husband argued for painting it blue–but since the tile was mostly gray, I didn’t see why we should, so we didn’t.

We also needed a way to get in and out of the pool. So my husband built stairs. I tried to show him on different videos that pool stairs tended to be rounded, but he didn’t pay any attention. 

Making a pool wasn’t enough. We had to make sure that as many insects as possible stayed OUT of the water. So my husband made a screened-in wall that extended from one side of the lot to the other, with a screen door, complete with doggy entrance. Although I wanted to make it permanent and use metal, it was substantially less expensive to use wood. I’m not sure that we won’t have to replace it in the future even if the wood got a coat of oil. 

Then we had to do something about the roof. I wanted to put up laminas transparentes (opaque corrugated plastic roofing), but again, it was out of the budget. I found a UV shade cloth on Amazon and ordered that instead. Again, I’m not sure that we won’t have to replace it in the future, but it’s perfect for now. I can spend an hour or two outside and not get burned to a red tomato hue.

Next, we needed a walkway area. My husband wanted to put down this type of tiny gravel, so we did, but it kicked up a lot of dust. So my son put down a brick patio. It’s not exactly flat, with little hills and valleys, but it will do for now. 

Along the side, my husband planted some of my plants. I hope to be able to get some more macetas (flower pots) eventually and fill the area, but it’s good for now. 

Then we needed to fill the pool. It actually took two full delivery trucks of 10,000 liters each, but there is no leakage, so that water will be good for quite some time. This was the Thursday before Semana Santa, so we beat our goal of “completing” it before the end of cuarema (lent).  

My son and I were in the water splashing around before the water truck even pulled out of La Yacata. Whoop! I love the water. Growing up in the Susquehanna River valley, just a stone’s throw from my grandpa’s river lot, meant I spent a lot of my childhood in the water. We also had a little 12-foot round pool that my brother and I spent our summers in. So it is nice to finally have a way to cool down.

The pool isn’t finished, although we are using it every day. I wanted my husband to enjarar (patch with cement) the walls in the pool “room.” He wasn’t interested in doing that. I also wanted him to tile the edges of the pool. That didn’t appeal to him either. Now that’s he gotten in the pool, he said that the steps should have been rounded, and we’ll need to get a railing of some sort for those. Yep. 

And the pump set up. My husband said he was going to rig it so it would be able to be plugged into the house, thus using our solar setup, but he hasn’t gotten around to that. So after a freak rainstorm the other day, it was no surprise to me that the water turned green. He seemed baffled, though. Shock treatment and running the pump with the generator helped some, but it really needs a more consistent water circulation plan.

So this project was a lot of give and take (mostly me giving advice and my husband not taking it, but whatever). We have something to enjoy in May, the hottest month of the year, and a place I can drown my sorrows daily now that I’m unemployed.


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My Inner Herb Song

So I’ve had a rough couple of weeks, and I expect it will be a rough couple more. Things started out rosy in March, and then I had a birthday—just my 49th, not a milestone or anything, and while I’m ok with my age, it reminded me of all those who didn’t make it to 49 with me. 

But I shook it off and kept moving forward in busyness–until I lost my main source of income teaching online. And I was sure something would turn up, but as the days turned to weeks, and nothing did, well, you can imagine how that weighed on me. (More about that saga in another post). 

Midway through April now, and I’m dealing with swollen and painful joints keeping me housebound, just when I thought to start planting my garden. And looming ahead is May when my son turns 20 (where did the time go?), and my mom will have been gone a year. 

In between, I’ve been working steadily on some plant studies. Yesterday I finished the thirtieth one, which means the first draft of a new herb book will be out soon. 

Chatting with one of my besties, who is also having a rough time of it (aren’t we all?), I mentioned how much I enjoy my herb research. I admitted I even have a little herb song that plays in my head while I look up Nahuatl terms and try to decipher yet another scientific paper on plant properties. 

It goes something like Rihanna’s “Work,” but instead, I sing, “Herbs, herbs, herbs, herbs. I really like them herbs, herbs, herbs, herbs…Digging in the dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt….” and so on. Anyway, it’s a happy little ditty with a lot of repetition and mumbling. 

You may be wondering how I pick the next plant study when there are so many to choose from. After all, Mexico is one of the ten most biodiverse countries in the world. 

Sometimes it’s random. I might see something in an article or in my Facebook feed about some plant or other, and I jump in with both feet researching. But mostly, it’s more of a personal connection that leads me down the garden path of investigation.

For example, last week, my sister-in-law was over, and I, of course, had to show her my plants. She pointed to one particular viney weedy thing with white flowers that sprung up from nowhere and said that that one was for coughs. WHAT! Now I have to look into la artemisia (the plant in question) and see what is to be seen. Very exciting!

Or take another instance. I expect this year to be rather difficult all around with rising food prices and now my unemployment. So I thought long and hard about what would be the best use of the limited growing space I had. While researching native plants, I came across huautli, outlawed by the Spanish conquerors. Now known by its European moniker, amaranto is hailed as a superfood. Well then, I could plant huautli and girasoles (also believed to be native to Mexico) along with maíz, frijoles, and calabazas. And it’s exciting!

Or maybe I’ve picked up another tea concoction for my son to try who still struggles with breathing two years after Covid, and it doesn’t work as well as the last tea. After looking at the ingredients and seeing that gordolobo (Verbascum thapsus) is in one but not in the other–and voila. Gordolobo is a plant that helps his breathing and I’m off to the indigenous herbalist in town to get some and at my computer doing some more research. 

Each plant is like a little mystery waiting to be solved. I try to answer what it is, how is it best grown, how it is used (fresh or dry), and ultimately what is its value. It’s fitting as I putter in my garden, sitting, of course, to spare my knees, with my hair faded to grey and the freshness of youth gone, I wonder: Who is she? What is her value? How is she best grown? And then my little inner herb song kicks in…and it’s ok.


Discover how native Mexican plants can enrich your garden!

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Modern Day Marias–Lynne, the crafter

It’s important to remember that Maria didn’t live in the time of Walmart. Everything was hand-made by the women of her community. Was Maria particularly talented in textiles? Was she an excellent baker? Did she have other creative skills?  Why were these things never mentioned by those dratted bible writers?

Today’s Modern Day Maria, Lynne, meets the arts and crafts aspect of a virtuous woman as described in Proverbs. “She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple. She makes linen garments and sells them and supplies the merchants with sashes.(Proverbs 31:13,22,24)


My name is Lynne and originally from the Oregon and Washington areas but now live just north of Ensenada, Baja California. We are fairly new to living in Mexico as it has only been 15 months. My husband and I met in Oregon and were dating other people but became good friends then later ended up together. We have been together for almost 19 years and married for 18. What is funny is his older sister’s children and mine were friends, such a small world sometimes.

My spouse was not legal and it had gotten to the point he was like in jail in our own home, no more driver’s license, only able to do odd jobs but took care of the house and yard. We were in limbo with the attorney as it took 3 years just to get data/information on my husband and decided life is too short to wait for possibly years with no guarantees for him to be able to get his papers and who knows how much money for not having a sure thing. Played with the numbers and determined we could sell the house and basically retire or semi-retire in Mexico, this would allow my husband the freedom to do as he wants without worries of immigration so we made the decision to move. I knew the final decision came down to me to actually move here but I was ready for us to move on to another phase in our lives even though he would end up having a lifetime ban from the US.


It has been a big change for us but not just from moving to Mexico as much as us being together all the time since I’m now retired or semi-retired (not sure which yet). Sometimes when things are not going just right, he will mention I was the one who wanted to come here but he is happy we did come. We care for each other very much but we both have our days. For my spouse, the change has given him freedom and for me, it has been a transition of working in a more stressful type environment for many years to not working. I’m looking forward to getting into my artsy/craftsy phase of life.


As to family and friends even though we don’t physically see each other very often I feel we make the effort to connect through Messenger or Hangouts via phone and video. We have set dates and times to video with the grandchildren along with talking to the kids, relatives and friends. When we do physically see people it is more quality time. I consider our move no different than if we had moved across the country. I would say if anyone, my mother has been the most difficult over the move. She constantly was making negative comments but over time this has stopped. I think some of it has to do with her seeing us on Facebook everything is going fine. I would say the hardest thing for both of us has been the family (kids and grandkids) not being physically around us especially my husband as we had part of the grandchildren almost weekly in the US, I can go visit while he can’t. We hope to finish getting through the passport process for my husband and see about a visitor’s visa to vacation in Canada so it will be easier for our immediate family to get together.

My spouse’s family are not located near here but have always gotten along with his siblings and children in the US. I have never met his mother or siblings in Mexico. He plans to see his mother for the first time in more than 25 years and the place he was raised this coming year. I’m not comfortable going since it is Guerrero which has had a lot of issues and he hasn’t been there in so many years to understand how it may have changed.

We were fortunate to sell our house in the US and buy/build our home. We are not sure what is next, I may do some part-time consulting in the field I was in – Geographical Information Systems (GIS) or sell some of the Arts & Crafts I enjoy creating. My husband is thinking of working independently as a plumber or handyman. We may look at some other options but are not rushing into anything. Whatever we decide this will supplement what we already are receiving.

The focus for the last year has been on the house but that is finally getting to the point we can start doing other things. We are craftsy people and enjoy little projects. Would like to see Baja and mainland MX over time, maybe do some house/pet sitting. I want to become involved in our community but not sure what at this time, up till now we have just contributed to different groups. I love the idea of contributing time to a group south of here that builds small homes for very poor families up in the hills.

For us, this is our next phase in our life together….


This is so worth it…



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