Tag Archives: Melaque

Breaking the Silence

2 Mar

Today I will break the longest silence that I’ve had on my blog. Honestly, I have not fallen off the planet, though it felt like I did for a while.  In the past few months I have made plenty of pies… and I’d like to share some of those photos with you now.

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Putting the finishing touches on a pie.

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Blanca at the tienda gets her Chocolate, Coconut and Banana Cream Pie

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A Coconut Cream Pie for Florina

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Coco and I delivered a Chocolate Cream Pie to Jose and Patty

As you can see, some of those pies were given away in Mexico. Yes, I was lucky to go to Barra de Navidad once again, this time with my kids, Alexandra and Coco. It was so good to see them enjoying the town that I have come to love and find that they are hoping to return. They were comfortable in this small fishing village and were embraced by the same people who have been kind to me.
Michaela, the pharmacist who lives a few doors down from our apartment sat and visited with us many times. She was thrilled to meet my kids and I was happy to see them enjoying her attention.  Then there was Ricardo, our friend who owns a taco stand. When he saw me a few weeks ago, his face brightened and he said, “It’s Karen Amarotico!” We are Facebook friends after all, but I haven’t seen him in a year, and I was touched that he remembered my name. Ricardo and his wife, Nacy, even invited us to their home for a private dinner. The chile rellenos filled with shrimp were delicious and I was so honored to be considered a part of their family!

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And of course, we saw Jose of the Malecon. He’s no longer working in Barra, but rather in the neighboring town of Melaque. Last year, he’d asked me if I could bring him a guitar on my next visit and thanks to my good friend, Tim, I was able to do just that. Jose seemed completely amazed but very happy. It was fun to watch Jose and Coco take turns playing and singing and bridging the language barrier with music.

IMG_1028.JPGMe with Alexandra and Coco
This trip, my kids joined me because my marriage is over. (The details of the dissolution are not important.)  It’s not that I don’t want to be open about the pain and challenges of this phase, but I’m simply learning that my life is not going to be what it was… it will be brand new. And isn’t that what happens?  We think we know what’s coming… but we really don’t.  Yes, John Lennon, life is what happens while we are busy making other plans.  Life also throws curve balls now and then, and sometimes, life sucker punches us in the gut. The pain lessens over time… but it never goes away forever.

Clearly I am not alone in dealing with the pain of loss. It happens to all of us… and if we are open to sharing the pain, then maybe we can show others that while the pain is terrible, it is survivable. If anyone would care to offer the tips, strategies, or words of encouragement that helped them through a time like this, I would love to hear them. Thank you in advance for being willing to share. It means so much to me.

What is most important right now is to say thank you to the many friends and family that have come to my side to help me move forward. You all know who you are, and I am deeply grateful for your support during this difficult time.

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I’d like to end with this quote from Sheryl Sandberg’s Facebook post (following the death of her husband):

“I think when tragedy occurs, it presents a choice. You can give in to the void, the emptiness that fills your heart, your lungs, constricts your ability to think or even breathe. Or you can try to find meaning. These past thirty days, I have spent many of my moments lost in that void. And I know that many future moments will be consumed by the vast emptiness as well.  But when I can, I want to choose life and meaning.”

And as for me, I would like to continue giving away pies.

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A Wonderful Life for Someone else may be lacking one ingredient: You

26 Jan

It's a Wonderful Life

The movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” centers around the life of George Bailey, a man with big dreams who ends up living his life humbly and honorably in the small town where he grew up.  At one point in the film, George contemplates suicide because he is in a desperate financial situation and he has been led to believe that he is worth more dead than alive (via his insurance policy). Fortunately, George is helped to see the true value of his life (the good he’s done, the friends he’s made, the family he is a part of) byway of Clarence, an angel who wants to earn his wings.  In the final scene we witness George Bailey surrounded by his family, friends, and neighbors. They have all come because they heard that he was in trouble and they wanted to help. As George is letting this all sink in, his brother, Harry, raises a glass to toast him saying, “To my big brother, George, the richest man in town.”

The first time I saw that film, I was barely out of my teens.  My Mom had suggested I watch it as it was the late night movie that day and I must have looked a bit sad coming home from a date.  The movie grabbed my from the start and I watched transfixed til the end and hoped that my sobs were not loud enough to wake the rest of the family.  Clearly, the film had made an impact.

Why do I tell this story?  I suppose it is because I am often reminded that it is the little things that we do that really matter the most… the friendships we make, the kindness we offer, the joy that comes from shared experiences… even when things don’t go as planned.  In fact, often those times are the most memorable.

For the past week, Emile and I have been in Mexico and a few days ago we were able to meet up with old friends.  They drove five hours to spend time with us (okay, they were also going to the beach).  Neither of us is fluent in the other’s language… my Spanish is fair at best) but we find ways to communicate.  We spent two days together discovering new beaches: Boca de Iguanas (the sign near the bay there says “No Swimming: Crocodiles”), Tenicatita (no amenities and a military presence made this beach unappealing), before settling at Melaque for swimming, working a jigsaw puzzle, and sipping Modelos.

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Karen and Rosalba;  David, Miriam, Leslie, Rosalba with me and Emile

The day our friends arrived, I made a coconut cream pie to share with them and one of our favorite restaurateurs. Unfortunately, that taco stand was closed that day and so we found another taqueria and made new friends there.  I gave the pie to our waiter and asked him to please keep it cold until we’d eaten.  After our dinner, I went to retrieve it and when he opened th fridge we saw the pie tilted on its side oozing out of the pie tin.  The worried look on his face was instantly removed when I laughed and told him that it was okay… it was after all, just a pie!  As it was a few days before David’s birthday, we sang to him and each enjoyed a bit of mushy pie.  Life is good!

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After David and his family left, we returned to our usual routine… walking the beach… and for me, that also means searching for shells.  As we were standing by a fisherman, I found a particularly strange one and showed it to him explaining that I loved the surprises that come with each wave.  He looked at the shell and said what I had was a “regala de la mar” using the same words as the title of Anne Morrow Lindbergh‘s book, Gift from the Sea.  My thoughts exactly!

Later in the day, we sat under an umbrella and the waves kept bringing up bits of plants.  The tiny older woman who had rented us a table looked so small compared to the task she faced at cleaning the beach (read: impossible), and so for a little while I raked for her. You can imagine the looks I received from locals and tourists alike… but I just needed to do something!  Afterwards, the old woman and I laughed at the never-ending process and shared a moment of understanding. Pretty amazing how easy it is to do that if you give it a shot.

That evening we found our way to our first taqueria bearing a Chocolate Cream Pie.  I’d been told the day before by Mario, our young waiter, that the reason they were closed was so that the whole family could celebrate his 13th birthday. That must have made him feel pretty special!  And I wanted to honor him as well… and what else would I give him but a pie?

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As I close, I want to leave you with this thought: we really never know what another person is going through… and our words and actions may be the one thing that makes or breaks their day. I’m sure it wouldn’t take long to think of a situation in your world needing help.  Maybe you can’t fix it… but it is likely can make a small difference. We simply can’t rely on angels like Clarence to do it for us… sometimes, it is up to us.

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive. Dalai Lama

Day 306: Water Taxi Drivers

6 Feb

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

Today was our last full day in Mexico and we wanted to make the most of it… and for me, that means spending time on the beach.  As the weather was a bit overcast, instead of playing in the ocean, we decided to walk along the beach to Melaque.  It is a nice walk albeit a bit difficult as there is a slope to the sand and it seems that you are walking a bit lopsided most of the way.  Nonetheless, it was delightful.

When we arrived in Melaque, my husband chose to explore a bit more of the beach while I sat and watched the pelicans and the frigatebirds.  The area was chock full of them and I was mesmerized by the sight of the pelicans as they dove into the water, because it seemed that each time one bird dove, four or five others would follow right after in the same place.  It was quite the spectacle!

After a brief repast at one of the restaurants on the beach we decided to walk “home” as well.  By the time we arrived, we were hot and tired and hungry!  But before we could eat I needed to deliver a pie!  We quickly headed to the malecon (the harbor wall) and looked for the vendors that are always there.  However by the time we got there this evening, they had all gone home.

As I wondered who I might gift with a pie I saw a young woman who was busy working at the water taxi desk.  The water taxis take passengers back and forth across the lagoon between Barra de Navidad and the Isla de Navidad.  We have been on the water taxi many times this week and really appreciate the quick and convenient service they offer.

As I approached the young woman,  I could tell that she was apprehensive.  I explained that I was a baker and that I have been making pies every day for over 300 days and giving them away.  Then I asked if there were many taxi drivers still out on their boats and she said yes.  I then set the pie on her desk and asked if she would please share it with them when they came back to the dock.  Still apprehensive, she asked if I was selling the pie.  No, I explained, it is a gift… to show gratitude to God, the universe, etc.  In Spanish she said this type of thing was, “muy rara.”  Perhaps she is right… but maybe someday that will change.  Here’s hoping!

What we are is God’s gift to us. What we become is our gift to God.
 Eleanor Powell

Day 304: David, Rosalba,and Family

4 Feb

Rosalba and David

We met David and his family many years ago when he worked with us as a line cook.  If you know anything about working in a kitchen you’ll know what I mean when I say that one of the reasons that we loved having David on our team was because he was not easily upset.  The heat of the kitchen can do crazy things to a person but somehow David’s temperament was such that he was able to maintain an even keel no matter what happened.  That’s a rare trait in a line cook… heck, that’s a rare trait in most any profession!

David is now living outside of Guadalajara with his wife, Rosalba, and his daughter Miriam.  Since he knew we would be in Mexico, he made arrangements to visit us here in Barra de Navidad this weekend and in addition to Miriam and Rosalba he brought his older daughter, Maria, and her baby, Jasmine.

David, Rosalba, Jasmine, Miriam, Maria, Karen

This morning we went to Melaque, which is located about 5 miles south of Barra.  We sat under an umbrella at one of the restaurants on the beach and spent the day swimming in the surf and enjoying the amazingly beautiful weather.

This evening we let David select the place for us all to eat and he chose a taco stand near the jardin (central garden).  After a sumptuous meal, I asked the waiter to please bring out the Coconut Cream pie I had given him when we arrived.  It was in celebration of seeing David and his family once again – and honoring friendships that can cross cultures and and transcend language barriers.  I am very grateful for the gifts that they bring.

“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.” — Anais Nin