No running at 70, more like shuffling

And squatting is just a memory as the darkness edges closer

Two weeks ago I had my 70th birthday, which was lovely, if these things can be counted as lovely, since these celebrations heave us another step closer to the darkness.


Casey, a delicious female friend, said: “You will love your 70s, Chris,” which somehow helped. Might as well enjoy it, I mean there is not much I can do about it at this stage, is there? I still feel fairly good although I cannot squat anymore – it’s just a lean-down kind of thing now.

I still go for runs along the malecón, but to be honest it is more like a quick shuffle than an actual run. I tell my wife it lets me see what is going on around me rather than a blur, as in the past. She just shakes her head sadly.

Just before my birthday, I had what I thought was a great idea: I would sit down and make a list of all those I might have upset over the last 70 years. I would prove to them that I have matured and ask for their forgiveness.

It took longer than I thought, but luckily after a bit of research I found a good number had died, so that cut the list back a bit.

For some reason, none of the women took my calls and most of the guys just said, “Mmmmmm.” One old fellow said he did not remember me doing anything wrong to him, so I reminded him, upon which he called me “a horrible bastard” and hung up.

But the point of the exercise was that I would feel better and I did. That dreadful term “closure.”


One of my birthday presents was a pair of binoculars. I am not sure why the term should be a pair as you only get one, don’t you? The problem with English, eh?

Anyway, this gift has opened up a whole new world from our perch in the sky above El Centro, some of it surprising. For instance, before the binoculars I could just make out in the distance a pretty mother breastfeeding her child. I felt I was seeing the very essence of Mexican life.

With some magnification my beautiful scene became a middle-aged Mexican lady entertaining a small bald man on her lap. Shocked, I demurely looked elsewhere.

However, most of the time I see splendid things with my new binoculars, such as ships arriving and fishing boats returning with their catches. There is also an enormous yacht in our bay so I drip with envy as I watch the on-board activity.

It is I guess, the idle lower middle class looking at the idle rich. The life of our small city by the sea comes into focus every day and I am grateful for the gift.

On a sadder note, I am becoming more and more concerned with the dogs of our neighborhood. There seems to be an explosion of numbers, as every balcony and rooftop has a sad story to tell of chained or restricted dogs left outside with no shade, sitting in their own waste.

Day after day I watch these wailing animals bark away their existence without a sign of kindness from their so-called owners. It breaks my heart.

I know many readers will say that if I don’t like it I should go home because this is Mexico. That was the position we used to take, but now that we have bought here and pay taxes we feel we are a part of this neighborhood.

When I ask the locals why they do not complain about this open cruelty, they simply shrug and say they could never criticize a neighbor, however much they agree with us, because he or she would lose face.

I have called the authorities but nothing much happens. Once someone showed up and took a few pictures of the outside of the house but nothing more. Now I sometimes wish we did not have such a wonderful view of the city, now enhanced by my birthday gift, as we are witness to much more than just the beauty of the glorious Pacific.

We love it, of course, but now with a local perspective.

Christopher Dalton has produced multitudes of commercials as well as 14 movies in Canada and the U.S. He was expelled from every institute of higher learning, forcing him hide out in advertising and movies until popping up in Puerto Vallarta with his long-suffering wife Michelle. Visit his web site

© Christopher Dalton 2016

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  • Pete L.

    I feel your pain about the roof dogs, Chris. They’re all over Mazatlan where I live as well. To those who criticize you for taking issue with this cruel practice I would simply offer to hold their high horses while they dismount. They are missing the point entirely. Surely cruelty to animals cannot be condoned in any culture. And alas, it is a cultural issue which means it will take time to rectify itself, but there is hope. When I first started visiting Mazatlan in the late 60s, litter was everywhere and there was nary a trash can in sight. Now trash cans are numerous and litter is scarce. The same can be said for dog poop. Many years ago the concept of curbing your dog was unheard of here. Now it is common and steadily gaining adherents. We can only hope for the sake of chained and restricted dogs all over Mexico that there will soon be an awareness that this cruel practice too should end. It’s time.

  • A belated birthday greetings. I turn 72 this summer, so I know your pain. It’s an odd new world, age-wise, in which we live. As for squatting, I can squat, and do so three times a week as part of my exercise routine. I have to be holding onto something, however. If I don’t, I tend to keel over.

    “Another step closer to the darkness.” I like that line.

    As for your thinking, even for a second, that you’re going to change in any small way the Mexican attitude toward dogs makes me think you’ve not lived here very long. Hang in there.

  • RichardMahony

    Great article. I too like the line about another step towards darkness.

    One can learn much about humans from the way we treat non-human animals. This is because most adult humans are practised hypocrites, and we cover up most of our cruel and sadistic conduct from our fellow man by carrying it on out of sight behind closed doors. When it comes to the treatment of non-humans, however, humans don’t feel we have to go to such lengths to conceal our cruelty and their indifference.

    The callous treatment of non-human animals in countries under the sway of the Roman Catholic Church parallels the same heartless conduct towards non-human animals in countries dominated by the followers of the teachings of Mohammed of Mecca and Medina. Just look at the way that the peasant farmers of Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia treat their poor little donkeys, for example, let alone dogs. And then the brutal way they slaughter sheep in the streets after Ramadan. Utterly revolting.

    The most intelligent corvids and parrots, dolphins, chimps and gorillas, sheepdogs and poodles, are as smart as the average two-year-old human. But the leaders of Church of Rome, of Sunni and Shiite Islam, of the Russian Orthodox Church, of the Greek Orthodox Church, and of Ultra Orthodox Judaism all continue to teach their followers that non-human animals have no souls, are intrinsically inferior to all humans, and were put on earth to be exploited by humans. The followers of these religions seize on such excuses for cruel treatment of nonhuman animals, conveniently ignoring all the bits in the Bible and the Koran that entreat humans to show compassion to nonhuman animals.

    With regard to squatting, it is essential. Everyone, no matter our age, should be able to do at least fifty full overhead squats, using a handheld towel over our head to maintain tension and keep our hands and arms behind our head as we go down into the squat. Press-ups are also essential, followed by pull-ups. By maintaining musculature doing these exercises, we also help to maintain strength, speed, power and suppleness. Sprint drills continue to be important as we grow old, as do interval training, and uphill repeats.

    The ultimate goal as we age and run is to drop dead either during our daily run or shortly afterwards.

  • Mexicanbeachbum Robin

    Hi Chris, belated happy birthday. I know you must be enjoying those binoculars. I moved from Vallarta 3 years ago and have some things still there stored where i lived, I am coming back for a visit, this time not to work, but to be a tourist and see some sights. I would love to meet you and see what you see through your birthday present. I am buying rain boots too! Will be the first part of July….yuck, but am coming with a friend on her schedule.

  • Douglas Ledbury

    Happy birthday Chris. I turn 70 later this year, so feel free to sugarcoat the new experiences anytime.

  • Christine

    I think you can all do more for dogs/cats if you are interested in participating.One of the reasons l like living in San Miguel de Allende is all of the NGO services for animals and the people who are always working on this. Amigos de Animales here has neutered something like 14,000 animals in the last years. A few weeks ago more than 800 were neutered in a first come/first serve blitz with vets coming in from all over Mexico to help. I worked in a local one where the mobile vet van came in and we neutered 47 in one day. The Mexicans in the ejido/land helped pull this together. Many really do care. The owners are so grateful and caring, bringing their dogs in with a wheelbarrow to cart them home when they are still under the influence of drugs. I am about to help my Mexican neighbors by taking in their 4 to be sterilized at an Amigos Clinic. The SPA here works hard. And this week we just heard that Ecologia, the city body that rounds up dog and puts them to sleep if the owner doesn’t show up, signed an agreement with Humane Society International to participate in a local adoption program. This stuff doesn’t happen overnight and sometimes helping people can change things. If it is seen as help rather than just hostility it can begin to establish a pattern. Think about the ways you can approach the owners of roof dogs with water bowls (I give my empty gallon vinegar bottles to someone who cuts them down for street dogs in hot weather),,,,or some kinds of dog houses. Rome wasn’t built in a day.