Music Makes Life Better

My Mexican band is not dressed in traditional mariachi style but they would do a fine job of singing for their supper on the beaches in that sunny land. With guitar, cymbals, maracas, and their beautiful voices, they can liven up everyone’s spirits.

They came to live with me when they heard that I had given a home to their friends, Annie and Mandilon, whom you may remember from my other post (The Mascot). Now Annie tells them which songs to play and Mandilon sweeps the house in time to their music.

Doesn’t he look like he’s hopping to the music? Housework is so much more fun when there’s good music to listen to.

And where is Annie? She’s busy at the moment  being Sylvia’s mascot in my novel “Orion’s Gift,” where she helps Sylvia find strength in facing some of the many scrapes she gets herself into. It’s good to have a friend, and until Sylvia finds the handsome Kevin, Annie is there for her to talk to.

For an exciting romantic suspense story with drama in Baja, why not have a look at Orion’s Gift. Click here: amazon.com

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Call for Backup

 

When my sister was in Mexico she was fascinated by a scene that unfolded outside her all-inclusive hotel. She snapped these pictures of the baggage truck being loaded, presumably to distribute the bags to the individual residences and suites.

The hotel staff are doing their best to solve the giant puzzle of how to fit 150 suitcases into a space designed to hold half that number.

Juan must juggle the bags, holding those that threaten to slip until he can wedge the next one on top to pin it down. Supervisor Federico, on the left,  isn’t getting involved except perhaps to offer some tips.

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Manuel, in the brighter hard hat, reports to Federico, “The people are expecting their bags within one hour as promised. Should we call for backup? Another truck, perhaps?”

While Federico makes the call, Manuel tells Juan, “Don’t let go of that blue one. Now find a tall one to put in front of it. You shouldn’t have put that one in the middle like that. Maybe next time you’ll listen to me.”

Juan mutters some words that I’m not allowed to print here.

Manuel says, “Now listen! You get these bags loaded or you won’t have a job to come to tomorrow. There are still quite a few bags to load, and the baggage must be delivered within one hour, so do your job!

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Manuel turns to the supervisor who has just returned. “So are they sending another truck, Federico?”

Por supuesto! Of course! What do you think! We can’t fit all these bags into the one truck.”

Bueno. So when are they sending the truck? You know, the bags are expected–”

“In one hour. Sì, sì, sì! I know.”

“But the truck. What did they say? When?!”

Federico shrugs. “What do you think they said? ‘Mañana!’

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Palapas

Building material inside!Cardon cactus

Pablo built the palapas you see in the photos below with very basic tools and supplies. He used a lot of haywire to fasten the cross ribs to the upright support posts and to lash the date palm fronds to the frame at the roof and sides. There were few trees in the region, so Pablo was always on the lookout for dead branches. I think he said he used palo verde branches or trunks for the main upright posts. For the cross ribs and the roofing ribs, he used the ribs of dead cardón cacti. I’m standing by a fairly large cardón cactus in the photo above.

When a cactus died, the inside ribs, usually about 20 of them, dried up and were very strong. Frequently, I had seen Pablo carry a huge bundle of these ribs, 10 to 15 feet long from someplace in the desert where he had found a dead cactus. He also stockpiled a collection of date palm fronds for making the walls and ceiling in much the same way we use cedar shingles to make a shake roof, overlapping them to keep the rain off.

One of the main building materials used in palapa construction is from the inside of the cardón cactus.

One of the main building materials used in palapa construction is from the inside of the cardón cactus.

Palapa under construction. Turkey vultures are waiting for the construction workers to keel over in the heat.

Perfect perches

Perfect perches

Pablo’s eyesight was poor and he was in the habit of carrying binoculars around his neck in case it was important for him to see something.  One day he and two of his sons were working on the roof of the palapa pictured above. A young Italian lady was staying in one of the palapas farther down the beach. She had the kind of body you see in the Sports Illustrated, Swimsuit Edition, and a very uninhibited nature to go with it. The singer Ray Stevens must have known her because just like his “Little Egypt” she “came out strutting wearing nothing but a button and a bow-oh-whoa-whoa.”

Well, it’s a wonder Pablo didn’t fall out of the palapa rafters and break his legs as he felt around, looking for his binoculars without taking his half blind eyes off “Little Italy.” Pablo’s sons didn’t get much work done for the next half hour as she held their undivided attention.

Later, Pablo complained to me, “The one time I leave my binoculars at home….”

La PerlaWhat a place to come for peace and quiet. Or to read about yourself in a romantic suspense story set in Baja.

Orion’s Gift is waiting for you.

Amazon.com

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Spider Hideouts

 

 

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Camped near a beautiful beach in Mexico, we often bought our fruit and vegetables from the produce truck.  One day, I lugged home three big bags of vegetables.

“Coming to the beach?” Gary asked.

“You go ahead. I’ll be down right after I clean these veggies,” I grumbled, slapping at the tiny biting flies. I soon gave up trying to work outside and brought the vegetables into the bug-free trailer to clean them in my little kitchenette.

Done at last! Now for the beach and a cool swim. I hurried outside to bring in my bathing suit from the clothesline we had strung between two coconut palms. I was about to step into it, when I let out a shriek. A brown critter about the size of a wolf spider was waiting for me inside the bathing suit bra.

Anyone passing by must have gawked at the bathing suit flying out the doorway.

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I was late getting to the beach that day, and although the water was refreshing, I couldn’t relax. Other swimmers must have wondered at the woman who kept pulling away the top of her bathing suit to look at her boobs.

That evening, we sat at the kitchen table playing cards and relaxing with an Oso Negro gin and peach juice. I tidied up the last few things before getting into bed.

Gary had just finished brushing his teeth and as he came out of the bathroom he heard me GASP! His eyes followed my arm as I pointed to the corner of the trailer. There, clinging to the ceiling, sat the biggest spider I’d ever seen. The fuzzy dark brown visitor had a body the size of my thumb and could easily straddle a saucer. If I had been a screamer they would have heard me all the way to Mazatlan.

“And I’ve been sitting there playing cards all evening with that thing poised over my head,” I wailed.

I handed Gary the fly swatter. “If it gets away,” I said, shakily, “I’m not sleeping in here tonight and I’ll be on the plane tomorrow.”

“It must have come in with the vegetables,” he said, as he tossed its crumpled body outside.

And where had it been while I sat there cleaning them? I wondered. Hiding in the cauliflower leaves? How close had I come to touching it? Shivers ran down my back.

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The next day we visited an open air market. I admired the handmade wooden cutting boards and picked one up to study the grain. Something ran over my hand. I threw the board into the air and squealed, “Una araña!” The vendor laughed and seemed unperturbed as I pointed to the gigantic spider running in his direction.

I was having serious thoughts of home. But imagine missing all this fun.

Pools and Palms

I was invited to join friends on a holiday, but sadly couldn’t make it. Now they are taunting me with photos to make sure I don’t say “no” next time.

In a setting that makes me think of my novel Orion’s Gift (see cover image at the side), they played at being tourists for a week. My character, Sylvia, didn’t get quite as far south as Cabo, but the general landscape is very similar.

334But let’s leave Sylvia for now. She missed out on Cabo, just as I did.

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Ah … to be lying on one of those lounge chairs until it got too warm and then being forced to jump into one of many pools.

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The Hotel Riu provided all these opportunities for relaxation without the vacationers having to go far afield.

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Breakfast must have been hard to endure in this outdoor setting.

IMG_0001They had a bit of fun reading the sign. In spite of the mistakes, I bet the ice cream hit the spot.

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Looks like I missed a good time in the pools under the palms.

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Something Fishy

 

In coastal towns of Mexico, generally, the tourists swim and the locals fish.IMGP0029a

They make sure their nets are mended before they go out.

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Sometimes the catch is good, sometimes it’s meagre. Notice the white apron to keep the water, slime, and blood off the fisherman’s clothes? The second fellow gets by with a makeshift apron. Nothing wrong with a big garbage bag to use as an apron.

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In the early morning the fish is already for sale at the beach,

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and later at the fish market in town.

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The tourists can buy fish to take to their bungalows to cook, or they can go out to a beachside restaurant and order the catch of the day.

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It’s not terribly fancy, but it’s very tasty, especially when eaten beside the sea from whence it came.

 

Three Treats

Here is a fabulous deal for anyone with an e-reader. For the next month, until May 15th, just in time for Easter and Mother’s Day, my e-books will be on sale for only $1.00. Do you like reading the kind of book where you come away feeling like you’ve learned something new? I know I do. The setting and background in each of my books are very different from the usual.

1. The Wind Weeps takes place on the West Coast of British Columbia and takes you up the coast from Vancouver Island, to the mainland, and north to the Queen Charlotte Islands and back. But it’s not a travel book. The characters live and work on the coast and this is where their story evolves. While I have you in the grip of romantic suspense, you will inadvertently be finding out about life on the coast, at times, on a fish boat and at times in a remote cabin. Ah … a romantic remote cabin. How wonderful! But only if you’re with the right person. For $1.00 you can can enjoy chewing your nails to find out what happens next.

The Wind Weeps

2. If you’ve ever been to the Mexican state of Baja, you’ll enjoy revisiting the trip as the events in Orion’s Gift unfold in that setting. This one is not a travel book either, but you’ll feel as if you’re right there, with my main characters, Kevin and Sylvia. They each are looking for an escape to the unhappy situations they have left behind. The sparks fly and we think they might have found real love at last, but what they don’t know is that their spurned spouses are hunting them down. Discover Baja, a setting that is like a double-edged sword with its natural beauty and its raw harsh elements. Please take the time to see a recent review of Orion’s Gift at Luanne’s Writer Site. 

Orion's Gift

3. Now for something completely different again, we go to Europe in the days before, during, and after WWII. It is not a war story, but a story of a young woman who lived through it, hoping to find the man of her dreams. Timing and circumstances are rarely in her favour, but her love for her children carries her through harder times than she could ever have imagined. Love triangles always end in heartbreak for someone. You’ll laugh and you’ll cry when you read about Julia, but you’ll end up loving her, too.

Front Cover OnlyYou can buy all three of these books for a grand total of $3.00.

Go to Anneli’s Author Page to see all three books for Kindle.

If you have an e-reader other than Kindle, you can buy the books at smashwords.com. Click on the book you want to buy at the regular price and then type in the coupon code to get the bargain price of 99 cents.

Here are the links and codes for each book:

The Wind Weeps Coupon Code NF43D

Orion’s Gift  Coupon Code UQ49E

Julia’s Violinist Coupon Code JH64Z