Senor and Linda Lou have been in Pueblo Alamos, Sonora, Mexico for 8 years.
Every day brings a new discovery.
They are still working on the casa............Senor says, it won't be long.........but Linda Lou says, it won't be long until what..............stay tuned to find out what's next.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Hola


Holy Toledo!
Maybe you are wondering about us or maybe you aren't.

Where did July, August, September and October go?
 They went right by me and maybe I didn't even see them go.



I think you will like these photos, especially those of you who have actually been following the reconstruction mess of this casa.

We now have the rejas in and we can actually lock our house up when we leave it.
These photos are taken from the portal side.

The long window above is where the kitchen will be and NO! I don't have the kitchen yet.
The fake kitchen is working fine with the exception of cookie exchange day when I had to spend four miserable hours baking seventy cookies in a tiny toaster oven.
Believe me, I will be glad to have an oven.

I heard that Senor told someone we would have a kitchen by spring. Well, that was news to me.
We will just see about it.

In fact, just a minute, I will be back. I have been meaning to ask him about that.

Okay, he says it is a possibility......hmmmm, well, he should not go round telling people that we will have a kitchen in the spring if it is only a 'possibility' because that is the first thing anybody asks me....uhm, do you have a kitchen yet?
I think some folks are getting embarrassed to ask.
I just tell them, no, and you will probably be playing bridge in the card room before I am cooking in a real kitchen.

But, look!
Isn't that pretty???
Someday we will have doors, too. 
Wow!






This is the front door and then, the area that will lead out to the street.
 Someday when you come visit you will come in through this door.
Cool, huh?

Okay, check this out.
 Senor is working on yet another fireplace.
 He is the King of fireplaces.
All of his fireplaces draw so well and they really warm up the room which is very nice since we don't have any doors or windows.

This one is opposite the big stone one he built at the north end of the sala.
I will show you a picture of that one in a moment.
Our TV is going above this one.
 We won't have TV, just a screen that he will hook up to the computer or something.
I don't know anything about that really. 
We are going to awl some old doors to cover the screen.

We are putting in the sala floor.
The downside to this is all our stuff is crammed into one little area of the sala.
But the floor is going in fast.
I am still the one acid staining it and Senor is the one marking out the pattern and Marcello and Rosario are actually laying it.

Here is the finished floor in the bathroom 'to be'.
Not too shiny now because the boys are walking on it all the time.
But when it is clean it is beautiful.
There is a poly varnish on top.

Finished floor looking out to the sala.
And below, Marcello is laying the sala floor.
There is the stone fireplace opposite the fireplace Senor is currently working on.




So, there you have an update on the casa.
I know you want an update on our lives as well.
We are ABUELOS!!!!!
A little baby boy, Eli, was born to our daughter and her husband in September.
Thank goodness for skype or I would go completely wacko.
I am secretly planning my next trip to Denver to see him.

Alright Senor says he is starving and we are heading out to La Aduana for food and music and shopping.
Que le vaya bien!
Linda Lou

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

How We Found Alamos


Buenas tardes!
Whoowhee! It is hot here, but clouds are building to the west and I can just see that we are going to get some rain.............some day.

I told you I would tell you how we found Alamos.
I will give you as short a version as possible.
Now, if you were to ask Senor, three hours later you might have an idea of how it happened.
And, certainly, our tales would vary a little.
So, here is my version.

In 2007, August, we sent our son off to college. I was only happy about this because he had chosen the same Colorado college as his sister.
I just knew they would look after each other and things would be fine.

But, of course, I was not fine.
Home alone with Senor, outside Seattle, in a three-story home with an all too empty and quiet lower level where our childrens' bedrooms were and they weren't.

I told Senor (who was not called senor back then), ................just Bill or William, depending upon my mood, on more than one occasion that our home was too big now for us and it was time to move.
I loved the Snoqualmie Valley where we had raised our children and was eager to stay in the area.

One day in October, I noticed for the first time that 'just Bill' was hanging around the house a lot in jeans and t shirts.
 I was used to the corporate three piece suit with collar stays and cuff links.

It dawned on me that maybe he had been hanging around like that for a week.
So, I asked him what was going on.

i retired...............he said...........
Now generally this is something a husband and wife probably discuss and make plans for, but 'just Bill' has a tendency to decide to do something and does it.
Okay, so retired, that's okay, I was still working and not planning to retire and we had savings.
Good to go, but go what? What now?

I am taking you to lunch............he said.
Oh, *+#%................i thought.
Why?

At lunch I was nervous.
You can only imagine what kinds of things were going through my mind by then.

We ordered our food and he looked at me very thoughtfully.

so, you want to move, huh?...........................uhm, yes, i would like to move................well, he said, let's move to mexico.

MEXICO??????

We had been to Puerta Vallarta several times when I was a flight attendant and I had been to Monterrey as a teenager and to Juarez plenty of times. I had driven down the A road in Baja in 1972.
I loved Mexico, but move there? Live there? All the time?
What about our kids? Our family? Our cats? Our stuff?

Well, 'just Bill' proceeded to lay it all out.
If we move to the West Coast of the mainland and stay somewhat close to the border, we can get to our kids (this was my big concern as they were only 18 and 19 years old.)
 Of course! They needed me to be near them!

He said he had been doing a lot of research and he had quite a few towns picked out and we should go and visit them.
when........i said............real soon.............he said........

I was worried about Thanksgiving.
 We always go as a family to a remote cabin in Washington state, a different place each year.
 The year before when our daughter had gone off to college, we flew her back home just so we could go to a remote cabin, no phones, no tv, just us.
On the return drive to the airport, the kids, in the back seat said, Mom, we don't know how to tell you this, we have loved our Thanksgivings, but we don't want to do them anymore.
I was devastated.

'just Bill' reminded me of this and suggested that we go to Mexico and then fly the kids from Colorado to one of the towns we would be visiting and have our Thanksgiving there. 
We could spend a week with them in Mexico and several weeks on either side of their visit going to the towns he would suggest.

He had a list of the towns with him and put it out on the restaurant table.
By now my head was swimming, but I managed to keep it together and after we left the restaurant we stopped at a store where I got all the empty boxes I could.
I had no idea where we were going, but I started packing that night.

Everyone we knew said we were crazy, but the great thing for me was the kids were really excited, it would not be their first trip to Mexico, but holy smokes, Mexico for Thanksgiving.
No more remote cabins where we sit around and bake a lot of cookies.

I took a leave from work, we made a few reservations, got two plane tickets and flew to Hermosillo.

We quickly decided we did not want to live in Hermosillo.
We went to Kino Bay....nope.
We went to San Carlos......no.
Went over to Guaymas...no.
We checked out Ciudad Obregon...no,no.
Drove right through Navajoa and turned east to the mountains to Alamos.

Like every other place 'just Bill' who was now Senor, often Senor sabe le todo or Mr. Know it all, had researched Alamos, and thought it looked like a nice little quiet place.

We got there on the day of the Revolucion.
It was not quiet.
There were crazy people all over the place.
There were what looked like 10 year old kids driving trucks.
There were roosters in all the streets.
People were blowing trumpets day and night.
There was so much noise I could not think straight.

We saw a few houses and I could tell Senor was enamored with one of them.
 He could not stop talking about it.

We once had some land in Santa Fe and he had wanted to build a territorial style adobe on it.
That plan did not work out.
He thought this house in Alamos was so cool and he could do so much with it.

We left town.
I was happy to go.
Too much going on there, I thought.

We went to Guadalajara......too big.
Puerta Vallarta.....too touristy.
Lake Chapala......too lakey.
Ajijic........too something, just couldn't put our finger on it.

Back over to Sayulita, where I was very happy, because the kids came and joined us there.
They surfed everyday and we stuffed ourselves on seafood.
We had our Thanksgiving and we were all together again.

But Sayulita came and went and I could not see myself living there.
Senor suggested we go back to Alamos and have one last look at the 'Ruin'.

When we returned, Alamos was peaceful, the architecture was mesmerizing, the people were friendly, there was something mysterious about the town.
It was old, it was historical, a little magical.
And besides, the Day of the Revolucion only comes once a year, right?

We looked at the 'Ruin' several times.
There were donkeys living in it.
The roofs and some walls were caved in.
The grass was head high.

It certainly looked like a big project and all Senor could say was how he would 'do this and do that', and I knew it was our house.

Eventually we returned to the Pacific Northwest and we thought about this move for a long time.
I continued to occupy myself with packing up the house because I knew we were certainly going somewhere.
By now, Senor was sure about Alamos.
And the more I thought about it, Alamos seemed the place to go.
By March of 2008, it was our house and we came to Alamos in June of that year.

Below is the casa the first day we saw it.

 And I believe I took this photo below the first night we slept in the casa.



So, now you have my version of the story.
Someday when you visit you can ask Senor for his version.
Oh, I think they are pretty close, he just never tells the part about retiring without Permission from his wife.

And see, here we are, eight years later and still working on this casa.
I have never seen Senor happier than he has been these eight years and I am pretty content myself so I think we made a good choice.
Of course, some people still think we are crazy.

Now, look at my baseboard tiles.
 In this photo they are all upside down, the fur' elise, but you should get the idea.
 I suppose no one will ever even notice them but me, but that's okay.
 I love them.



Here Marcello has put in the other wood header over the doorway to the master bedroom.
It is awled pine from an old original  beam in the house.

Everything is covered with a film of dust.
 I will be glad when all the chipping and poking and prodding of walls is done and we can get back to normal, whatever that is.




A lot of that dust and dirt is coming from inside here, the master bedroom, where they have opened up the walls for the windows.
Of course, I have not made the windows yet, but below you will get an idea of what they will be like.
It is fused and soldered glass and will be set in iron frames that will open.
Very rustic, very colorful, very fun.



So, that's how we came to Alamos!
Hope you are having a great day wherever you are!
Que le vaya bien!
Linda Lou

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Alamos, Sonora, Mexico




Buenos dias!!
It is a gorgeous day here, cool right now in the morning, but definitely destined for the upper eighties a little later. But it's breezy, and that cuts down on the heat, so absolutely perfect weather.

If you have been following the blog you may know that I have been blogging now since 2007, when we left our home in the Pacific Northwest and moved to Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.

If you are new to the blog, Bienvenidos!

I am going to spend a little time telling you about Alamos, in this post.

Alamos is located in the southern part of the Mexican state of Sonora.
Approximately 475 miles from Tucson, Arizona, and about 65 miles inland from the Sea of Cortes (Gulf of California), Alamos, is nestled in a semi tropical valley at about 1,450 feet in altitude.

The environment of Alamos is unique in that it is a bio region where tropical plants intermingle with the plants of the desert, especially, the deciduous thorn forest.

Founded in 1684,by New Spain explorers, Alamos was once a north-south Indian trade route and later became a mecca center for Spanish exploration.

In 1775, Juan Bautista de Anza came north to Alamos, and recruited 30 Alamos citizens to join his army which then continued north with riches of freshly mined silver to settle San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Monterrey and later, Los Angeles.

By the late 1700's, Alamos was the richest city in Sonora and it was producing more silver than any other town in New Spain, with a population of almost 30,000.

The unique architecture of the city contained  many details of Moorish, Spanish and Grecian design and wealthy Spanish mining merchants and landowners brought to their large mansions flat roofs, blocks of room surrounded by a solid wall, thick adobe walls and recessed windows. They also included central portals that surrounded fountains and gardens. Arches, beams, and columns were created in Spanish colonial style while Grecian cornices or molds were added. 
Moorish details included intricate ornamentation. 

But with the Mexican Revolution in the early 1900's came the quick demise of the city.
 The beautiful old mansions fell into ruin and people deserted the town. 
It became a ghost town.

In the 1940's an American came to Alamos from the mid west United States and charmed by the city and its location purchased several of the old 'ruin' mansions.

He then invited friends and acquaintances of his to visit his homes and also experience the magic of Alamos.
Many of them also bought properties and restored them.

It is these early American visitors and home buyers who spear headed the revival of Alamos and the promotion of it as a tourist destination.

Today the people of Alamos include families of Spanish descent that go back to the 16th century, the indigenous Mayo Indians, and Mestizos ( mixed Spanish and Indian blood which probably count for more than 70% of the population) and a small group of extranjeros (foreigners).

Around 200 foreigners own property in Alamos and many come to their homes in October and stay until April, taking leave before the summer heat sets in.
In the summer there are only around 40 foreigners who remain in Alamos.

Depending upon which office one visits in the Palacio, it would be learned that around 15,000 people inhabit Alamos, but some will say that includes the entire municipality which is over 30 miles in circumference.
Around 1,000 of these are school age children and most attend school.
There are kindergartens, primaries, secondary schools and a high school.
Tourism, agriculture, construction and mining are the main employers.

There are around 30 barrio neighborhoods in Alamos and while they all seem to run together and you will not see lines of separation, each one is unique, each one is a family of neighbors.

Alamos is a Pueblo Magico which gives it a very serious and valued status in Mexico.
It  receives money from both the State and Federal districts to maintain its beauty and its ability to attract tourists.

The main tourists in Alamos are Mexicanos who come to see this Pueblo Magico.
They come for a celebration, a tradition or festival or wedding or just to walk along the Plaza.
 Alamos has been the location for many films and tele novela soap operas and it draws tourists for that reason as well.

Throughout the year, a tour bus arrives each Tuesday from Arizona, bringing foreign tourists, most of them American and Canadian, for an overnight stay.
Some decide to return and stay a little longer.

During  Christmas, Semana Santa and the summer school holidays visiting families crowd both the Plaza de Armas and the Alameda.
 Street vendor booths are filled to capacity and one can buy everything from hats and clothes to nuts and cotton candy.


The architecture of Alamos draws many tourists and Alamos is also known as the 'City of Portals'. Many of these portals can be seen in the Pueblo.

In addition to discovering the beauty of old architecture, once here people find this is a birding mecca, a city of cultural tours, an outstanding area for ecotourism, with spelunking being one of the most popular sports. Biking, both road and mountain is very popular, dove hunting, river float trips, horseback riding and ecology tours are only a few of the things to do once in Alamos.

Alamos is also very centrally located and is not far from Los Mochis where you can catch the train to the Copper Canyon.
Several beautiful sun drenched beaches are within easy driving distance and smaller Pueblos with  their own celebrations are easily accessed.

Culturally, Alamos is superior for its size, hosting the annual Alphonso Ortiz Tirado Music Festival, and a Pueblo Magico summer event among many others.
 It has an outstanding Museum, El Museo Costumbrista, one of the best in the state of Sonora and a wonderful cultural center, Casa de La Cultura, where students come to study music, theater and arts.
A community center on the Plaza de Armas, the Boors Center, features classes in culinary arts and education for adult women.
These are only a few of the cultural opportunities in Alamos.

Alamos is also a wedding destination for people around the world with its baroque designed church, Iglesia Parroquia de Nuestra Senora de la Concepcion, and beautiful hotels that offer unique reception rooms.

There are parades in Alamos to celebrate anything you can think of and a few of the largest celebrations are Day of Kings, the Alphonso Ortiz Tirado Music Festival, Carnival, Viernes de Dolores, Semana Santa, Cinco de Mayo, Mexican Independence Day, Day of the Dead, Festival de Patronales and the Feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe and the Revolucion. 
Traditions blending Indian and Christian beliefs can be seen through out the year as well.


A view from El Mirador, looking to the west. This is the El Centro district that surrounds the Church Plaza and is the oldest, historic neighborhood in the Pueblo. 
These children are walking through the deciduous thorn forest. When the monsoon rains come in June, June 24 being the official day, everything will turn emerald green and there will be very little room on this pathway for walking.



In this parade photo you can see why Alamos is also called the City of Portals. A portal is an area inside or outside a house that is under a cover or roof supported by columns and beams. The portal provides an area of sun protection and an outdoor living space which is essential in hot climates. 

Calle Obregon, at the end of a parade, the horses and their riders in white hats, always bring up the rear of the parade. Parents go to parades to see their children walk in uniform with their school and everyone else goes to see the horses and caballeros.

Beautiful ornate iron work can be seen all over the Pueblo.



Calle Chihuahua in Colonia Colorada. El Mirador is on top of the hill in the background.

Calle Mina and another beautiful example of an arched portal on the right.

Calle Juarez, in El Centro, with the tower of the Palacio, the government building in the left background.

The Palacio, the office of the Pueblo President is here and all of the government business is presided over in this building.

Calle Obregon and another beautiful example of Spanish colonial architecture.

Many of the streets of Alamos have now been paved with concrete, but quite a few cobblestone streets remain. This callejon runs along side the Palacio to a stairway that leads up hill to Loma Guadalupe.

Calle Commercio, one of many streets laid out in a typical Spanish grid that surrounds the church.  Many of these streets are said to have tunnels beneath them that lead to areas beneath the church.  

Cobblestone section of Calle  Commercio

The church and Plaza de Armas


Callejon de Beso connects the Plaza de Armas and the Plaza Alameda,. Also known as the 'Kissing Alley' 

The gazebo in the Plaza.

The Alameda, or working Plaza, early in the morning before the street vendors have set up their stalls.

Alameda

Alameda

The gazebo in the Alameda.

The Mercado, or indoor market, located across from the Alameda.

Horse stalls in Barrio El Barranco.

Calle Madero, a wonderful blend of Spanish architecture.

Calle Madero leads to the Plaza de Armas.

Madero as it leads one in or out of town. Facing west, toward Mt Cacharamba. 

Calle Campoy, another cobblestone street in Colonia La Colorada.

Calle Durango in La Colorada

Calle Durango

Sunrise in El Barranco

Iron work at the Palacio

More beautiful iron work


Old bricks mix with newer

More elegant iron work


One of many beautiful old stone walls in Alamos.


And look, here we are back to my street, Calle Durango, in La Colorada and my wall is on the right. 

So, that is my little tour of Alamos and I think you can see some of the reasons we live here.

 But there is so much more to it than what you see and read here.

 It is a friendly, welcoming community.
When you pass people on the street they look at you, they smile, they say hello.
They make you feel like you belong here, even if you just got off the bus this morning and they have never seen you before.

Each year we see more cars and more people, the Pueblo seems to spread a little farther, and the music is a little louder, but Alamos still has a mysterious tranquility to it and it feels like home.
It is home.

Watch for my next post.
 I am going to tell you how we found Alamos.

A little PS here for you:
Some of my information came from the Hamma/McGee collection of Alamos Guidebooks,
Alamos, Sonora by John Messina
The Palacio
The Alamos History Association Research Library newspaper clippings
Adios! Linda Lou