Social Studies in Mexico

Social Studies is another great thing to study on vacation,  especially when you’re traveling internationally. Just to observe the people’s customs is a lot more social studies than you can possibly get when reading about people and their ways. Just wish we could travel to every place that we wanted to learn about.

We very much enjoyed eating Mexican food while we were there. We love Mexican food.  In that part of Mexico and on south through El Salvador, everybody eats corn tortillas. Flour tortillas are a thing of Northern Mexico and, of course, Texas! It’s a treat to have the fresh made tortillas. I enjoyed watching this lady make them.

One of the most interesting things we did on this trip was to visit a Mexican dentist. It wouldn’t have been as interesting if I was the patient, but since I wasn’t I was intrigued by things they did differently from U.S. dentists. My father-in-law has concluded that he can pay for his trip to Mexico by visiting the dentist there. He had to have a crown and some fillings so he spent a few days at the dentist, but she really did do a nice job for him, it seems. John Deere Boy had a tooth that needed pulled, so I decided to give the Mexican dentist a try. She did a right fine job. She was so careful that he didn’t feel any pain. He complained more while we drove to the dentist than he did at the dentist!

JDBoy at the Dentist

But let me tell you about a Mexican dentist, besides being a lot cheaper. The practice we visited had two female dentists, two chairs, one assistant and one exam room. Both dentists worked in the same room. So I sure was hoping that the other patient would be quiet, so that John Deere Boy would become frightened by the other guy’s pain. The door to the exam room stayed opened the whole time, so it was easy to look in at the patients and dentists.

Mexican Dentist Chair

Also there was no glass on the windows in the waiting room and there was a dusty road in front of the office. But I sat in the waiting room for hours and I never felt like I was being choked on dust. I could smell it. They had fans in the exam room to keep the dust out of there, I guess. That was our visit to the Mexican dentist…not to bad. I’m thinking if I ever go back that I’ll go to her too.

While John Deere Boy and I waited during my father-in-law’s dental visit, we went exploring. We watched the school switching shifts. They school half of their children in the morning and half in the afternoon. I don’t know if they divide them by age or how they are divided. Everybody walks home. There were no buses. There were several little shops close to the school that sold drinks and ice cream and things like that. But we only saw three kids of all the hundreds that were walking by stop and get a snack. I thought, that is a lot different than American kids. The American kids would have lines going at the ice cream shop.

We stopped at one some of their little shops and looked at their wares. We were intrigued with the one that sold bulk foods and dog food.

Little shop

John Deere Boy was especially intrigued with their fast food restaurant:


That was grilled chicken that they were selling there on the same dusty road that the dentist was on. It didn’t look appealing at all to us, but maybe that is because we are vegetarian.

We also spent some time checking out a Cathedral. There are many Cathedrals there. Even though Mexico does not have a state church, the population in Mexico is 89% Catholic. It is interesting to be in a country where religion seems to permeate things so much more than in the U.S. For instance, every bus that I’ve ever ridden has multiple Catholic emblems on it: crosses, Mary, etc.

JDBoy in front of Cathedral

On Saturday night while we were there, we had the opportunity to watch a group doing their native dances. I videoed it, because it was so interesting and so loud. They had on large feather head dresses and they were burning incense or something and they were beating on the drums that made your head rattle. It was really quite interesting, but unfortunately those clips are gone off of my camera. I don’t know where they went, but they disappeared. We watched the same type of thing last year, but my husband was gone with my video camera that time. So I’m being very unsuccessful of videoing their native dances. I guess I’ll have to go back for just that purpose!

We also had the opportunity to visit a cemetery. My in-laws had adopted a little Mexican girl from that town that passed away before they brought her home, so she is buried there. I was amazed by the cemetary, but I think the pictures say everything I can say, so here they are:

Mexican Cemetary

Mexican Cemetary

Wealthy Mexican's Grave

This is my final post on our trip to Mexico and I never found a post to put this family picture in, but it shows that we enjoyed ourselves immensely!

Waiting for sunset

Mexico Art

I’ve been being so delayed about getting all of my posts up and now I have things I want to share about what we’re doing now, but I’ll finish my Mexico posts firsts.

I’m not going to make too many comments on this post, just pictures. These are pieces of art that we saw in Mexico. It’s nice that they have artwork on display all over town. I guess that’s because of the tourists. We enjoy many styles of art and enjoyed looking at all that was on display.

Oil paintings for display on the sidewalk:

Mexican Painting

Mexican Painting

Sand Art along the beach:

Sand Art

Sand Art

Sculptures along what is called The Malecon, which is a cement walkway along the beach:

Sculpture of man working in Puerto Vallarta Mexico

Sculpture in Puerto Vallarta Mexico of Couple Dancing

Landmark Sculpture of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico -- man riding seahorse

That man on the seahorse is the landmark piece of art in the area. You can get many postcards with it on.

As you can see, I definitely felt that I could say we got in some art appreciation on our trip.

Geography on Vacation

I think that learning geography when you’re traveling should never be skipped. What better way to learn where something is than go there? Several people have asked where we went. We were just south of Puerto Vallarta. My daughter plotted our flight path on a map. We had to avoid bad weather or some type of turbulance on the way down, so we were routed way inland. That made it a little more interesting. The pilot would announce what city we were flying over periodically, so that was fun and enhanced our geography lesson while we were travelling.

Here is her map.

Zippy's Map of Route to Mexico

For those of you who are now so curious about the Puerto Vallarta area, I found this website that has some interesting info for tourists. Here is the map from that website.

We were down by the Mismaloya/Boca de Tomatlan area.  If you are looking to travel there for any reason, I would highly recommend checking into Mismaloya. There is a nice hotel there. I’ve never stayed there, but I’ve walked around and in it to check it out before. I just like that it is away from the city out there and it is easy to go out to the beach. You can easily catch a water taxi (a boat) and go to villages that have no roads into them. All the travel into these villages is either by water taxi or mule. However from Mismaloya it is not so easy to go grocery shopping, but they have a good bus system there, so it’s not too bad.

This was actually my ninth trip to the area. One of those trips was our honeymoon. You might guess that we love it there! We are very fortunate to have family with a house there and so we have wonderful accomodations when we go down. We have stayed three times in time share though, in Puerto Vallarta and up in Nuevo Vallarta. In my opinion, the neat things to see are not at the resorts, although they’re a nice place to stay. So figuring out a way to get out and about is important to be able to see the habitat and the area around there.

My one, last comment about the area is save your shopping for at home. If you can get away from Puerto Vallarta out to some small villages on their market day, shopping can be interesting. I once purchased a Mexican blanket at one of these markets when we were driving up to San Blas that I really like. (San Blas is another really awesome spot for birding.) I had priced the identical blanket in Puerto Vallarta and it was  double the price there as to what I paid in the village. Of course, you have to “bargain” with them, but even then that was their “best deals” compared.

So my travel advice is, if you were to ever go, find some form of transportation, even if it’s the bus, and get out and see things away from where all the tourists are huddled together. You’ll really enjoy it, at least, we do.

Nature Study in Mexico

Mexico has many beautiful places, birds, butterflies and fish along the Pacific Coast, where we were. There are also whales, manta rays and dolphins jumping regularly.  This is a long post about the nature study that we did while we were in Mexico for a week in January.

We saw many beautiful birds while we there. Zippy increased her list by 17 identified birds: West Mexican Chachalaca, Great Kiskadee, Orange Fronted Parakeet, Purplish-backed Jay, Yellow-winged Cacique, Magnificent Frigate Bird, Brown Pellican, Blue Footed Booby, Streaked-backed Oriole, Inca Dove, Squirrel Cuckoo, Common Black Hawk, Boat-tailed Grackle, Cinnamon Hummingbird, Millitary Macaw, Common Tern and White Ibis.

And then there were a few more that even with extensive internet searches, we have not been able to identify. Here is one of them:

Unidentified woodpecker

It’s obviously a woodpecker, but what kind?
One of the ones that we had many opportunities to observe was the  Orange Fronted Parakeet. These parakeets fly in flocks and we saw them every single day. They’re very noisey birds too, so you always heard them before you saw them. At first, we weren’t sure if we could identify which parakeet it was, because there are several green parakeets down there, but we’re pretty sure we got the right one.

Orange Fronted Parrot

Zippy chose to illustrate this bird in her nature journal.

Orange Fronted Parrot

We also got to watch the Pelicans fishing. That was quite fun. The house where we stayed, was close to the water, so we just watched them through our binoculars and got to see them catch their breakfasts.

We also saw some new insects and spiders. One morning we went on a little walk up the mountainside to see if we could see any new birds. We did get to see the Military Macaws, but that wasn’t our first sighting. What we did find was a huge spider. Their spiders are bigger than ours. We stood and watched it work on it’s web, but we didn’t identify it.


I know some people don’t even like pictures of spiders, but I’m very intrigued by spiders, as long as they’re not crawling on me. I love to watch them weave their webs. We saw some beautiful insects too–butterflies. They are very hard to get pictures of though, because when they’re the most beautiful is when they are fluttering by. We saw several very large butterflies and we saw some just brilliantly painted butterflies.

So if you have arachnophobia, maybe that picture helped to relieve your anxiety, but the next one is what got to me. One of the strangest insects we found crawling on my sandals while we were eating. Fortunately, I wasn’t wearing them.


It was a too-big beetle, at least for my liking, but this is one of the things that John Deere Boy was intrigued with so he drew a picture of it for his nature journal. This is another thing we haven’t identified.

Mexican Beetle

We also saw many, many gorgeous flowers. There were Bougainvillea everywhere we went in pinks mostly, but also oranges, whites and reds.


Zippy chose to illustrate a hibiscus with a butterfly on it.


We also saw hibiscus and we got to go to a little arboretum that had all kinds of plants that were willing to grow in that climate. I can’t read Spanish so I wasn’t sure which ones were native and which ones weren’t, but they were all flourishing. People just have these most beautiful flowers growing on the fences along the road and everywhere. It’s heavenly.


We also saw whales spouting and jumping. That was very special. We saw humpback whales and a gray whale. We missed seeing any manta rays. We were a bit disappointed about that. Maybe next time. We were able to watch a little eagle ray swimming around once.

Humpback Whale

(That picture was taken by my father-in-law. He took a few other of these pictures. –Thanks Papa!– I did not see that good of a sighting of them. But the kids and my husband did.)

We did some tide pooling a few times to see what creatures we could find in and around the rocks. We found some types of anemones and mostly the regular things that you can find in tide pools. The kids found several shells close by. My husband took this outstanding photo of hermit crabs. I just love this photo. What do you think?

hermit crab

And my brother in law found this vacated urchin. I think this one is especially neat too.


The most fun that we had watching creatures was while we snorkeled. Sad to say, even though I’ve purchased multiple field guides at this point for fish, I still haven’t found a good one for that part of Mexico, so we haven’t identified the fish that we saw. We saw several different angel fish type fish. Several were yellows. We saw three kinds of puffer fish. We saw some type of rock fish. I got to see a spotted sting ray. We saw a sea cucumber. And we saw lots of other little brightly colored fish that liked to eat around the rocks. We didn’t have any underwater cameras, so I can’t share pictures of any of the fish, but here is a picture of the snorkelers!


Oh, I nearly forgot. There were iguanas and some other lizard type thing that sunned on the rocks close to the house. They are quite the animal. I’m just not really into reptiles, but they are kind of interesting. They sit there for hours soaking up the sun and then something gets their attention and they scurry away so fast, you can’t believe it. Zippy even got to hold one of the iguanas.


Besides studying things in the field of Biology, we also enjoyed watching the sky. A neighbor to where we stayed shared his telescope with us one evening. So we could see the craters on the moon. We saw Venus and we saw the nebula of Orion. That was special too. We wished we lived in a place where we could see the stars better. Maybe someday.

No pictures of the stars though, but what we did get some nice pictures of was some beautiful sunsets. Sunsets can be so beautiful over the ocean.

pretty sky

John Deere Boy also chose to illustrate one of the sunsets that we saw. Here is his picture:

Sunset In Mexico

We also saw some really neat rock formations. Isn’t it amazing that something like rocks can be beautiful? We serve a God who not only makes the flowers and birds and fish beautiful, but He can make the rocks beautiful.


And here is just, what I thought was a beautiful landscape.


We, as you may have noticed from my last post, couldn’t stay very far away from water. I’ve heard it said that it is good for our nervous system to watch water. Well, I tried to do plenty of that. I don’t know if observing water counts as nature study, but it sure is beautiful. Here are two pictures.

water splash

Water Fall

That last picture is my husband’s favorite from the whole trip. He took it. Those are the same waterfalls that they jumped off of that were in my previous posts.

When we take time to observe nature, we can’t help but come to the conclusion that we truly serve an Awesome Creator. How could we help but worship Him, when we see all that He has provided for our happiness?

P.E. While On Vacation

I tried to figure out which subject to post about first of all the things we learned about while in Mexico. I decided to start with this one: P.E. Exercise should be a regular part of our lives, but often when we’re on vacation, it’s just easier to find time to do it.

The first major exercise we had was to carry our suitcases down the 100+ stairs to the house where we were staying. We had to climb up and down those stairs every day. And I promise, it was good exercise. If I could do that a couple times a day and that  was the only exercise I ever got, I think I’d be pretty fit.

Carrying luggage down staircase

Then we spent lots of time playing in the ocean. Such as running in the waves…

Running in the Waves

…riding the waves…

Riding the Waves

…and falling in the waves.

Falling in the waves

We climbed on rocks…

Rock Climbing

…crawled on rocks…

Rock Climbing

…and jumped off of rocks.

Waterfall Jumping

We snorkeled several days: some of us three and some five.


And we had lots of fun doing nature study on all of these different excursions. So I guess I will post about nature study next.