Wednesday, December 31, 2014

December - This and That

We loved the decorations on this yard that cover all facets of Christmas celebration.  They have a snowman, a Nativity set and a piƱata for their celebration.  

It is tradition at the Tampico Temple to put beautiful poinsettias in the flower bed and to put the life-size nativity on the grass.  We love looking at the decorations as we walk to the temple each day.

Ruben and Claudia were healthy enough to make it to church on December 14th.  

After a trip to the grocery store, Paul carefully washes our food in hot water and rinses it in bottled water.

This beautiful butterfly came for a short visit.

We have a new H.E.B. store in town.  We were amazed at all of the handicap parking stalls that cover the entire length of the store.  As  it turns out, the two H.E.B. stores are equal distance from our house.

Time to change the calendar!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Construction of The Clinic

In October we began to take photos of what we thought was a new house being built but it turns out that it is to be a clinic and it will be three stories high.  We continue to take photos and we are amazed that a large group of men are at work every day and the building is certainly progressing.

28 October 2014

2 November 2014

14 November 2014

19 November 2014

5 December 2014

16 December 2014

22 December 2014

29 December 2014
31 December 2014

Monday, December 29, 2014

Bacalao and the Salad

Hna. Saldivar is a master teacher.  She offered to teach us how to make "bacalao" which meant we were invited to her home to make it with her.  We arrived at 10 a.m. on the day of Christmas Eve and they had already begun one batch of "bacalao" but that was only the first of three batches so we helped in the entire process in one way or another.  Bacaloa is codfish and we had seen it in the store as great salted slabs 1 ft x 3 ft by 1 inch but we didn't take a photo at the time.

So bacalao is the name of the fish and also the name of the salad.  The process for bacalao [salad] begins 4 days ahead of time when the salted fish is put in fresh water and the water dumped off twice a day to remove the salt.  The day of preparation, she took handfuls of the bacalao and squeezed the extra water from it and then we pulled it into little pieces.  This was cooked slowly until golden and then they added olive oil, freshly ground garlic, chopped onions, and diced tomatoes and cooked that for quite some time until the moisture had been absorbed.  Also added during the process were capers and almonds. It is a cooked salad but is not served when hot--we aren't sure if it is cooled in the fridge or not.  We are to receive the recipe some time but for now that's good enough.

Hna. Saldivar said she had bought 4 kilos of bacalao for her family dinner.  We went back for photos and the big slabs were no longer in the store but they had cut and wrapped the fish into smaller packages.

The price is 195.90 pesos per kilo or $13.23 a kilo or $6 per pound.   As you can see, the package pictured here is 2.1 kilos [4.6 lbs.] and costs 413.35 pesos or $27.97.

Barrio Jardin's Christmas Program

The Bishopric had prepared a program that began with the primary children and teachers singing a Christmas song from the Children’s Hymnbook.
The Single Adults had prepared a video by going to the homes of a few older ward members and we think they had asked them what is important to them about Christmas.  We knew those who were filmed but really didn't hear what they said very well because Josh Groban was singing so loudly in the background of the video.  The Bishopric then showed the “He is The Gift” video that the Church has prepared, and is available online. The Bishop spoke for a few minutes and it was time for the Christmas card exchange.  We did not see who received ours.  The ones we received were homemade and carefully decorated with a handwritten message of Christ and the hope He gives us.  Sadly, neither of our cards was signed so we don’t know who to thank.  We then sang “Noche de Luz” [Silent Night] and the prayer included a blessing on the food.  Tables were brought in, chairs arranged, and in a short time each of us received a styrofoam plate filled with black refried beans and tamales.

We enjoyed the evening and visited with the Saldivars who invited us to their family Christmas party on December 25.  I have looked up online and tamales have 175 calories for each 100 grams.  That is a good thing to know during this season of the year.

Walking the Tampico Bridge

We really wanted to walk the Tampico Bridge this year and today was a beautifully sunny day and we got the backpack, put some water and granola bars inside and headed to the main street to catch a bus to the center of Tampico.  We walked under the overpass and curved our way to the bridge. We had the cameras and the traffic on the bridge was busy and cars and trucks whizzed by us and there was a man on a bicycle who greeted us as he drove by on his way up the bridge.

 Paul kept looking off on the other side of the bridge to see things but it wasn’t a good angle so after we had walked most of the way on one side, we hurried across four lanes of traffic and the barriers to the other side to take photos and we walked back to where we had started.  We loved being in the sunshine.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Powdered Sugar Story

I decided to make a carrot cake to take to the Mission Home for our Christmas dinner. The powdered sugar began in lumps and we had to beat it and sift it through a wire net before it was usable. Working with this powdered sugar brought back memories of powdered sugar in Caracas years ago.  Grandpa and Grandma (Ted and Marian) Crockett had come for a visit and she offered to frost a cake.  She got out the electric mixer and before we could warn her, she turned it on.  It was like an inside snowstorm with powdered sugar going everywhere.  They added an extra ingredient in Caracas so it didn't clump but they don't do that in Tampico.  Anyway, after massaging the hard lumps of powdered sugar for a while, we finally had enough and the frosting turned out just great, as did the cakes.  We took the loaf cake to the Figueroas for a Christmas gift with the recipe--she had asked for it while we were in Valles.  We took the square cake to our Christmas dinner at the Mission Home.  Guess what?  Hermana Jordan had made a carrot cake to serve at our Christmas dinner as well.  We served our cake and she saved hers for her missionaries.

Christmas Dinner at the Mission Home - 2014

Crockett, Watkins, Figueroa, Jordan

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve 2014 with the Vergaras

 We spent Christmas eve at the Vergara home.  Hno Vergara’s name is Marcopolo and Hna. Vergara’s name is Berenice. Christmas dinner begins late for most households here and we think they adjusted their schedule a bit for us and we ate at 8 p.m. instead of it being later.  Their son, Eduardo and his girlfriend, Miriam was there plus Berenice’s father.  Our dinner was spaghetti, scalloped potatoes with ham and a pork roast with a banana cake for dessert.  They had several liters of soda for us to choose to drink.  Last year we had gone to the Vergara home on New Year's Eve and had taken our family’s traditional Banana Slush and we offered to bring it for Christmas dinner and they were happy since especially Eduardo has fond memories of the slush.
Marcopolo, Bernice, Eduardo

Eduardo and Miriam 

                                They gave us a ride home about 10:30, and
                           by 11:00 we went to bed even as fireworks continued.