Monday, January 30, 2012

San Xavier del Bac Mission

After our visit to San Xavier del Bac Mission on our Thursday road trip, I decided to combine my photos into a slideshow since there were way too many to string down the page in one post. The mission was founded in 1692 by the Jesuit missionary Eusebio Francisco Kino. The original mission church, after multiple attacks by Apaches, was finally destroyed by them around 1770. The present building was constructed under the direction of Franciscan Fathers Juan Bautista Velderrain and Juan Bautista Llorenz by native Indian labor between 1783 and 1797 to serve the Catholics of the San Xavier District of Tohono O'odham Nation. Unlike the other Spanish missions in Arizona, San Xavier is still actively run by Franciscans and serves the Tohono O'odham community who originally built the church.

San Xavier del Bac Mission - create a slideshow with music

My slideshow really doesn't do San Xavier justice, so if you're ever in the Tucson area, it's definitely something you won't want to miss!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

On a Mission

First stop on Thursday's road trip was San Xavier del Bac Mission, just south of Tucson.  We've visited quite a few since moving to the Southwest, and San Xavier is definitely the jewel of the desert.   For the all the historical details, click on the link above.

Since I'm fascinated by altars, figurines, and candles, I love the little chapel situated behind an old iron fence off to the side of the main building.  

 The view through the fence.

 Beautiful bells against the blue desert sky.

The chapel altar.

 Candles and saints.

If you're ever headed south from Tucson towards the border, San Xavier is definitely worth a stop.  It was my second visit and my friend's first, and we both were just in awe.  I'll post more photos this next week.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Roadtrip Fragments

 A friend's in town and we've been having a high old time sightseeing.  We've fired up the old red pickup and every day's a new roadshow adventure.  Before we take off this morning for another fun-filled day, here's a glimpse of yesterday's fun.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Bally Hoo Sampler

I think I've mentioned it before, but Bally Hoo's one of our favorite places to eat on Isla Mujeres.  The food's great, and the views from the table are even better, so what's not to love!  Here's a sampling of Bally Hoo views and dishes.

The view from our favorite table.

Fish and Chips

Mexicana Baguette

Breakfast plate including omelet, fried potatoes, and beans.

Maya Salad with shrimp, sunflower seeds, and tomatoes.

Monday, January 23, 2012

It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Today looks like another beautiful day in Arizona!  Most of our days on Isla Mujeres in November/December were also beautiful, so we took lots of neighborhood walks.  Here are a few more snapshots from the colonias.

This corner tienda got a fresh coat of paint while we were on Isla!

Oscar's El Varadero was just a few blocks north on Medina.

Wonder what this unfinished building was supposed to be originally?  Apartments? Back in 2004, Craig took a little tour of the ruin. 

Where old golf carts go to die?

The neighborhood fruit stand.

Love the matching palm tree!

 A different angle on the La Gloria church.

Guards on duty.

The yellow gate.

Neighborhood tow.  I feel their pain since I have a silver one in the garage at home.

Gate at the end of our street.

I've heard there's a crazy dog behind this neighborhood gate!

Neighborhood snack bar.

Neighborhood clothesline.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Chedraui Report

During our November/December trip to Isla Mujeres, Chedraui opened its new superstore on the island.  From the minute we arrived, all the buzz was about the approaching opening of the store.    One morning in early December when we were headed to the beach, we ran into our neighbors from the condo above us down on the corner.  They were walking to Chedraui because they'd heard by way of the island jungle drums that the grand opening was that morning.

Craig and I gave each other a puzzled look because when we'd walked by that morning, a solitary man was jack hammering concrete in the empty parking lot.  On the way into town in the taxi, the driver brought up Chedraui and told us the big opening was the next day.  Lots of free stuff!  Everywhere we went, people were clamoring about the big day and the date was always different!

Personally, Craig and I would go out of our way to avoid the crowd that might result from rumors of free stuff on a little island in Mexico, so we waited a day or two after the actual opening to check it out.  So here's my Chedraui report. 

Chedraui sits across the street from Isla's field of dreams.  

The actual store is on the second floor, with a parking garage underneath.  The shopping area itself is big for the island, but probably not even half the space of a Walmart Superstore here in the U.S.  

I totally understand the excitement surrounding the opening of the store because it just makes life on the island so much more convenient.  For example, on almost every trip, I either lose or forget an essential item and spend a lot of time walking from one store to the next trying to find a place that sells it.  For example, on our June trip, various makeup items disappeared from my hotel room. On this last trip, I forgot tweezers and ran out of my acid reflux medicine.  In the past, I've searched the island for days trying to replace those type of necessities.  Once Chedraui opened, the selection was right there, and the prices were reasonable.

Groceries, pharmacy, liquor, a huge bakery, sporting goods, toys, motorcycles, beach towels, underwear, clothes, appliances, electronics -- it's all there in a one-stop trip.  And the prices are affordable.  Many of the items that used to require a trip to Walmart or Chedraui in Cancun are now available on Isla, so that saves a day at the beach and the 140 pesos per person roundtrip ferry ride.

I snapped some photos in the produce department of items that were hard for me to identify.  I think the above photo is dried passion flowers.

And some of these are a mystery to me, so help me out!

Moving into the sporting goods area, I noticed some puzzling items I haven't seen in the U.S.

I couldn't decide if these miracle support garments force you to sweat the fat off, or if they're designed to be worn under clothes to squeeze the excess in.  Of course, where the squeezing ends, the bulge erupts, so I'm not sure it'd be a wondrous solution to hide middle age spread.  And the garish red would surely show through a light-colored top.

The same question applies to the bottoms.  I'm not saying I couldn't benefit from something like this if it actually worked, but that neoprene stuff looks itchy!  Not to mention I've worn neoprene knee braces before, and I can't say it resulted in thinner knees.

This is the area of the store that surprised me the most.  Olive bars were the rage when we lived in Bellevue, Washington.  They came and went at many of the local grocery stores when the owners discovered people just didn't buy that many olives.  Then in the past few years in Phoenix, we've seen them installed in the chain stores near us.  And now -- on Isla -- the olive bar!  I'm curious to see if the olive bar will bring in enough pesos to justify the floor space.  The store also has a good selection of cheeses.  It was impressive!

And finally, here are the Coleman foldup beach chairs which Chedraui supposedly does not carry and never even stocked.  So I guess you'll only see it here on this blog.  The mythical beach chairs.   I'm glad I found this photo because naysayers almost had me convinced I was crazy!  : )

We still used the nearby tiendas for quick snack runs and the items we always buy there, but it's nice to know on future trips that we won't have to spend a lot of time searching for items we've forgotten to pack.  And, if we're staying farther out on the island, we won't have to go all the way into El Centro to use an ATM!  It's a good thing!