Seems everyone I know got a puppy over the past 18 months. Sure everyone will be happier & everyone will live longer. And everyone now has a use for left-over plastic bags.

But mechanical pets offer some health benefits too.

The Sony robo-dog responds when stroked, chases a ball and perks up when it hears a familiar voice.

Which do you prefer? Robo or Sasha?



warning – Mexican Dental Vacation

Many travel to Mexico to get dental work done. They walk around reeking faintly of clove.

I had fillings done a number of years ago, very happy with the cost as is almost every tourist getting work done here.

This time my needs were more complex: root canals, post, crowns.

There are now so many dentists in Mazatlán catering to gringo teeth that I had trouble deciding which to visit. The Inn at Mazatlán concierge recommended English speaking Dr. Gilberto Cardenas Saucedo.

He did 2 root canals over 3 appointments. Saucedo’s work seems good to me. But ultimately I was disappointed.

As is so often the case in Mexico, there was confusion over the cost. I thought I was getting a post & crown as well. Later he informed me I was getting the root canals only. I paid about US$210 each for the root canal. A post & crown would cost about another US$300. This cost is not much less than I would pay in Canada. And you have absolutely no recourse in Mexico if the job goes wrong.

My mistake was not getting a stronger referral before choosing a dentist. My mistake was not getting a quote in writing before starting the job.

I still believe in Mexican Dental Vacationing. But next time I will do more homework first.

UPDATE: This price for a root canal turned out to be quite competitive. But other dentists are much more up front with total costs for their work than Dr. Gilberto Cardenas Saucedo.

Next travelogue on this trip >> Mazatlán old town.

podcast – Barbecue Secrets – Ron Shewchuk

Rockin’ Ronnie has done it. Posted his first audio podcast: interviews with barbecue experts, answers to listener questions, great recipes and useful tips and tricks.

You can find it in the Podcasts section of the iTunes music store. It’s free. You can subscribe to get future episodes.
Rockin' Ronnie - Barbecue Secrets - Barbecue Secrets

Ron Shewchuk on iTunes

But first check out his Barbecue Secrets podcast homepage. OPEN icon

travelogue – McCharles family photos, Mazatlán

My nuclear family played “Mexican Train” nearly every night. That’s a game requiring dominos, luck & alcohol.

As I recall it was my modest self who won most nights.

Between games we mostly read, lounged by the pool & walked the beach.

Mom on the beach

See (in a new window) the final batch of annotated photos of the McCharles family trip to Mazatlán . OPEN icon

Next travelogue on this trip >> Mexican dental vacation.

travelogue – Emerald Bay resort, Mexico

In the history of indulgence, only a few improvements have been made since the ancient Roman baths. They already had jacuzzis & running hot maid servicing, for example.

Mom spoke of something new called an infinity pool. I had to see one.

infinity pool

Very cool.

This photo was taken at a new posh resort in Mazatlán.

See (in a new window) more annotated photos of the Emerald Bay resort. OPEN icon

Next travelogue on this trip >> McCharles family photos, Mazatlán.

travelogue – Costa Bonita resort, Mexico

Our second week in Mazatlán we moved to a newer resort, further from the centre of town. Construction is booming here though we cannot understand why.

We were well pleased with Costa Bonita finding it friendly & tranquil.

Costa Bonita means “pretty coast“. For once a marketing name is appropriate as this resort fronts the best beach.

It took me over a week to accommodate to the slower rhythms of life in the tropics. My resting heart rate decreased to synchronize with the surf break.

Where are the beach vendors? Most are several miles closer to the centre of town, at the much busier “golden zone” of resorts.


See the messy balcony bottom centre? That’s our unit. Yvonne found it through her condo time-share association.


A nice touch are the many welded animals decorating the Costa Bonita Resort.



One night peeked at the (open) penthouse while taking sunset photos. (It had just sold for US$460,000.)




Costa Bonita was quite quiet while we were there. Many units were not occupied.


A pleasant stroll down the beach brings you to the surf point restaurant. This is a sprouting pineapple, by the way.


You can rent water toys. Or annoy EVERYONE by renting a noisy quad.


One group of local youth even set up a trampoline. Yes, they were both unskilled and dangerous.


This is the Witch’s Beach.


I kept hearing that Mazatlan is #1 in the world in Coke consumption per capita.


Dead sea turtle washed up on the beach.


A local gringo drove us down to the shrimp market. We loaded up for a feed!


Fishing boats at Ceritos.