A Mexican Vacation… and a Coconut Cream Pie

27 Apr


In January my husband and I planned a trip to Mexico.  We used a companion fare ticket from Alaska Airlines and booked a trip to Barra de Navidad that would begin on April 24.  Once the plans were made, life went back to normal… until my Dad’s stroke.  Then the trip that we planned seemed unlikely… and I felt guilty for even wanting to go.

As the date to leave drew near, I spent many hours discussing insurance, surgery dates, payments for care, and myriad other details.   Once that was done I had to believe that my Dad was in good hands and that my husband and I could take a much-needed break.  We left early Wednesday morning and arrived about seven hours later in Manzanillo, Mexico.  A friend of a friend agreed to pick us up at the airport and he drove us to Barra.  We thanked him and gave him a bottle of Oregon wine for his troubles.

After a short rest, we walked down to the beach and enjoyed a beautiful sunset.  Then we bought tamales from a street vendor and ate them while sipping cold Pacifico beer.  That night we went to bed tired but happy.

The next morning I checked email (yes we are tied to our computers) and saw a message from my Dad’s case manager: Dad was taken back to the hospital. My first thoughts are unprintable but I will say, “Thank goodness for Skype!”  Immediately I called my sister and after a while we figured out that Dad had several things going on: dehydration, dizziness, and low levels of sodium.   Dad’s been in the hospital for three days now and I think that he is in the safest place he could be and the nurses at JFK have been amazingly kind and helpful dealing with his family that is so far away.

Since Dad was being well-cared for and I could not do anything for him I did what I do when I need to feel in control: I baked a pie.  This year in our little rental apartment we have a two-burner stove top and a toaster oven.  First I formed a graham cracker crust (with crumbs that I brought from home) and baked it in the little oven until it was lightly browned.  Next I mixed milk, sugar, eggs, and coconut for the filling and poured it into the crust.  We then went out in search of whipping cream to top it off but could not find any for sale in this little town so I had to settle for toasting coconut for the topping.


Even without whipped cream I thought it turned out nicely… but who would get this lovely pie?  I thought of the people that we had come in contact with and settled on a young man who works in a shop that sells beautifully hand-woven works of art.  We asked him about the wall hangings and he told us that some of them had taken months to make.  He explained that many of those hanging had been made by other workers but that he also could weave and he first began learning to weave ten years before.

Maybe I felt a connection to that young man because I too learned my craft when I was young.  Whatever the reason, last night Emile and I walked back to the shop and brought a pie to that young man.   He was there with his girlfriend and as I gave him the pie I tried to explain in my best Spanish that the pie was a gift – to honor the beautiful pieces that he had created.   I hope that he continues to pursue his art throughout his lifetime for I believe it can make all the difference in the world.



“If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you: I am here to live out loud.”  
Émile Zola


10 Responses to “A Mexican Vacation… and a Coconut Cream Pie”

  1. culturemonk April 27, 2013 at 9:25 PM #

    enjoyed 🙂

    • pieadaygiveaway August 8, 2013 at 6:05 PM #

      Thanks… with all that I am going through with my Dad I am just now seeing this. I appreciate your comment very much!

  2. Paul Giancarlo April 27, 2013 at 10:04 PM #

    Muy bonita, Karen! Me gusta mucho tu historia. Espero que todo este bien con tu padre!

    Buena suerte.

    Paul (Pablo) Giancarlo

  3. pieadaygiveaway April 28, 2013 at 8:16 AM #

    Muchas Gracias Pablo!

  4. Ellen Grush April 28, 2013 at 9:26 AM #

    Dear Karen, I’m glad your dad is getting the help he needs. And you’re right, if you were there, you couldn’t do anything to change his chemistries. So relax, enjoy your time with emilie, and BE HAPPY! Love Ellen

    Sent from my iPad

    • pieadaygiveaway April 28, 2013 at 9:59 AM #

      Thanks Ellen. I hope you and Owen (and Savannah) are doing well on your travels! Love and hugs, Karen

  5. Shirley Patton April 28, 2013 at 1:47 PM #

    It’s good to think of you and Emile having a bit of a break and that your Dad is well provided for. Dehydration makes one be ever vigilant as it can sneak up so suddenly. Several of my mother’s hospital stays were brought on by that condition and before it struck, we were clueless. Everything seemed to be going with the usual verve and then a sudden tailspin. Anyway, I’m sure you Dad’s getting back in balance and I hope you’re having some relaxation. You’re all in my prayers, and the pie looks delish! Lots of love, S

    • pieadaygiveaway April 28, 2013 at 7:26 PM #

      Thank you Shirley… I sure hope that he is getting the best of care. The nurses at JFK have always been very helpful and I so appreciate that.
      As for the pie, we saw the young man today and he said it was “Delicioso.” Tomorrow I will bring our ipad droid and show him the post since he said he doesn’t have computer access. Maybe I can put up the name of his shop so folks will know where to find him (I didn’t think of that before!) We’ve got five more nights here… I will do my best to make the most of them. xxoo

  6. Wendy April 28, 2013 at 3:30 PM #

    It’s great to see you and Emile in Mexico enjoying some relaxation — a wonderful gift in the midst of the usual and not so usual swirl of life. Thank goodness for skype and for the “miracles” of modern medicine that are helping re-balance your Dad’s systems and for the care he is receiving. The weavings are absolutely stunning — reminds me how our lives are interwoven with those we care deeply about and sometimes those we know little of. Blessings on you and continue to enjoy. Wendy

    • pieadaygiveaway April 28, 2013 at 7:21 PM #

      Wendy, We are doing our best to relax and enjoy the different sights and sounds of Mexico. Thank you for your thoughtful, lovely words. KA

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