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Fresh as a lettuce : and other delights from Mama's in Mexique

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TODAY'S WORD: fresh as a lettuce

   : to be calm as a cucumber, in French, is to be Cool Raoul (click here).
   : and in Spanish it is to be fresca como una lechuga.


    by Kristi Espinasse

I went to Mexico to see Mama, as we now call her, I and my Mexican brother ("Rocky" in a previous story. Today his identity will be revealed...). Even our sister, Heidi,  is catching on--which just goes to show how far we have come in accepting our mother in the new roles she is taking on in her life. But now that her role as wife has come to an end, we have all been concerned about how she will carry on without Mr John. And when she made the seemingly abrupt decision to leave her condo at the marina to move to the barrio, we were downright alarmed.

Last week, Mom invited us to stay with her in her new casita, located on the outskirts of Puerto Vallarta. There, paved roads end and earthen floors spread out through the lively neighborhood and its eclectic mix of homes, doors and windows thrown open to reveal family life in motion. Not a word of English is spoken. Chickens, pigs and horses roam free along the streets, right past Mama's front door, which she prefers to leave unlocked by day à la "I will not be a prisoner to fear!"

While grateful for Mama's offer to lodge us, my sister and I needed a transitioning phase before spending the night beneath Mama's colorful tin roof. We quickly (and a little guiltily) booked a room at The Marriott, where we could get our dose of hot showers before experiencing Mom's single-tempurature (cold!) plumbing.

There, at the CasaMagna Marriott Hotel and Spa, we would spend the next 4 days as fresh as lettuces beneath the blue skies and warm sunrays of Vallarta. Welcomed by Ernesto (the charming hotel greeter who taught us the wonderful "lettuce" phrase), each day at the Marriott allowed us to relax, while taking care of Mama's paperwork (many thanks to John's belle-fille, Laurie, who took the baton from Heidi, continuing the administrative work back home in Arizona).

It wasn't our first time at the Marriott in Puerto Vallarta, and we recognized so many friendly faces, and were touched when they remembered us back! There was Hilda, the concierge, who helped put me in touch with Lourdes (in charge of the Marriott's social media department. My son Max is looking for an internship. He'd love for it to be in Mexico!). And we ran into Audrey, the wine and Tequila specialist. She is French--from our neighboring town of La Ciotat. Quelle coincidence! She gave me her card and even offered to help put us in contact with her parents, should we decide to move to her hometown).

The cast of friendly characters continued with Francisco at the morning buffet (tamales for breakfast!), Carlos at the terrace restaurant (shrimp fajitas!), and Victor, in charge of poolside refreshments--or swim over to the bar and order a Pina Colada, which Mom did with glee, enjoying it while she floated around the pool and chatted up the guests! Thanks to Mama, our friendships extended out from the hotel staff to our fellow vacationers (a big wave to Kim in California!)

In the evenings we ate at Mikado's -- the Japanese restaurant right in the hotel, where beautiful hostess, Adriana, remembered Mama Jules, who, it turns out, is friends with many of the employees via Facebook. Not to be left out, Heidi and I quickly added Adriana, Hilda, Ernesto, and the others to our Facebook, only to realize just how many of our friends were actually neighbors with Mama Jules!

"Don't worry about your Mama," Francisco assured us. She lives in a place we call 'Beautiful Mountain'. And I live just up the hill!"

As if that weren't comforting enough, we also have Gregorio. Read about our Mexican brother and mystery man at the end of this post! Adios for now and many thanks to everyone at the CasaMagna Marriott Hotel in Puerto Vallarta--"the next best place after Mama's"!



Gregorio, Mama, Francisco, and Heidi. Cheers to the staff at CasaMagna Marriott Hotel and Spa in Puerto Vallarta!

WHO IS GREGORIO? While in Mexico, I posted some photos and a few videos here on Instagram. Some of you were wondering who the dark, handsome man was in those pictures. (I would say tall, dark and handsome, but Gregorio is better known in the ring as "Dragoncito," or The Little Dragon.) He is the state of Jalisco, Mexico's champion for Muay Thai and he is currently Chief of Security for our dear Mama!


Gregorio's next fight is in February 2017 and we are all hoping to be there to cheer him on! If you would like to be there, too, perhaps we could all stay at the Marriott

... and join Mama Jules at the pool, swimming over to the floating bar for refreshments!  What do you think? Let me know in the comments, HERE :-)

It is always good to dream and to have something to look forward to!

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety