Wednesday, March 31, 2010

answered prayers*

Yesterday afternoon I was jolted awake from my siesta by the disco cranking up to test its speakers. It went on for about an hour, then quit for awhile, then started up again, then quit. During this last silence we hurried down for dinner at Puesto El Barcel, basically "Snack Shop", Fernando's enterprise. It was a beautiful, mild evening, quiet and calm. The puesto is almost in front of the disco but we lucked out. Dinner was delicious; Chuy was cooking so what did we expect?

We stayed until sunset, then headed home, still without any sound from the disco.

Around 8:30 the music cranked up and blasted away for 45 minutes. Then all the power went out. Blessed silence but pitch black. I had been reading in the living room. I turned off what lights I thought had been on and went to bed. At 10 PM the music suddenly blasted on again; I could feel the vibrations in bed! 60 seconds later it went off. An hour later it came on again for 30 seconds and went off. This kept going two or three more times; 1:45 AM was the last time. It was down for the count. Every year I pray for either torrential rain or a gigantic electrical outage. See, prayer works.

This morning there were three MexElectric trucks around the electric pole across the street. Unfortunately they seemed to have fixed what was wrong because now, at 1:30 in the afternoon the disco is blaring at full throttle and polluting the lovely day. After tonight I will go down and sleep at friends' house for the next three or four nights.

Today was the Big Pour at the casa. This truck pulled up at 8:30 followed close on by a cement truck.

They raised the hose up toward the roof.

Meanwhile, the cement truck was pouring its contents into the trough in the the back of the hose truck.

Then the fun started when the hose truck driver flipped the switch and the cement shot up through the hose and onto the roof. They started at the southeast end and worked their way backwards to join up with the new roof.

And here's where my camera battery died. But here's what happened. Within 45 minutes three cement trucks had been emptied and a dozen guys had shoveled and troweled the cement into a smooth, even surface. Beautiful to watch. The hose truck folded its arm down, shoved into gear and drove away. Now the surface has to set for 6 or 7 days, undisturbed. Work on the insides of the apartments will start tomorrow. Then the third piece of roof, that part over Jack's apartment, will be demolished beginning on Monday. In another week or so there will be another small pour so I'll be sure to have the battery charged for that.

*With thanks to to Truman Capote

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

B minus 1

Last night we had a gorgeous full moon. This photo was taken from the end of the terraza out toward the mountains.

One more day until Bedlam begins. So this morning I walked on the malecón to see how things are coming along. The disco has wrapped itself up in white plastic sheeting so I can't see into the "dance" floor. I walked through the entrance maze to check out the interior but there were trucks and equipment all over the place so I left. Two men were construction a huge half-circle awning that will lead hapless clients from the ticket booth to the inside. I'll go again tomorrow to see if they've gotten it set up. Loud music has already started from other locations, including the workroom of a puesto owner that's located just down the block from us. This is "learner" noise; the real thing will be 100 times worse.

Puestos are all decked out with bright tablecloths, new paint, new plants, waitpeople in T-shirts and aprons sporting the name of the place, signs advertising their menus ~ pretty much all the same; mariscos, camerones, pulpo, and micheladas, a sort of Bloody Mary made with beer instead of vodka. Beer, hot sauce, chiles, lime juice, salsa Anglaise (Worchester sauce).

Frankly the very idea makes me a bit queasy, but they are very popular and are sold in some places in little clay pots that you keep as a souvenir of your visit to this or that beer tent.

I went over to the casa to check out the roof before tomorrow. It is quite fabulous, the way it has been done. There is a double layer of rebar for extra reinforcement, all tied together and supported on tiny pins that hold it up off the base so the cement will cover it on all sides. The cabling and tubing for electric lines and water will be finished today so all will be in readiness.

When we stayed they we went up onto the roof in the evening for puesta del sol and margaritas, but the roof got so weak and the stairs began to crumble so I refused to go near the place. Next year? Maybe.

We're going to Fernando's puesto for dinner tonight. First time we've tried it. If he or Chuy is cooking, it will be delicious.

Monday, March 29, 2010

the burned-over district

For those of you whose favorite historical era was the late-19th/early 20th, the above phrase is familiar. To those who preferred physics and civil engineering, check here for further information. The photo is of the lot next door, all burned and prepped for the Easter visitors. Before Fernando cleared it off it was heavily overgrown with shrubs and a couple of small trees. This gave refuge to those revelers who wanted to use the lot as a baño. No, no, no. Sorry. Clearing it off is the only way to keep folks from taking advantage of the cover the greenery provided. It is now barren and, we hope, uninviting.

Late this afternoon a truck full of workers in baseball caps and black T-shirts pulled up across the street. They got out carrying rakes and black plastic bags and short poles with either a nail on the end or grippers of some sort ~ I couldn't tell from where I was standing on the balcony. They got right to work, cleaning the streets, the sidewalks, a small empty lot across the street.

An hour later the truck came back, picked up the workers who heaved their bulging bags into the bed of the truck and drove away. If I remember correctly they'll be back again tomorrow to do our street and vacant lots. This only happens at Easter. Otherwise, you got trash on your lot? In your street? Tough! Oh, and here comes the mosquito sprayer truck to douse our dinner in some sort of spray that's probably banned in the US but used here like perfume. I knew they wouldn't let the swarms of bugs spoil the fun.

As I sit at this computer I can hear the disco truck unloading the scaffolding for the speakers and the lights. Tomorrow they will be setting up the "tables" and "chairs" inside the walls. This "furniture" is sawed-off palm trunks in different heights. A beer tent goes inside the disco, too. Now why anyone would pay to go in there is beyond me. You can stand outside on the malecón and get the same deafening noise without paying the 50 peso fee. I checked last year's blog submission to see when the actual "noise" begins. Probably not until Wednesday. But maybe tomorrow evening for a tune-up to see that all the speakers are working at their full million-amp strength.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Palm Sunday

Here in one of the most Catholic countries, this liturgical celebration of the beginning of Holy Week goes virtually unnoticed. And this is not a resort town. It's a real working Mexican village. This morning, no special bells announcing Mass. No parade as there has been in the past, one that included a donkey carrying Jesus through the village to the church. And no little kids waving palm fronds and sporting little crosses woven from palm spears. These are truly coarser times. This lack of celebration may be because our village does not have a resident priest. We are dependent on "circuit riders" who cover several small towns in the area. Today was not our day, I guess.

Palm Sunday was a big deal when I was growing up. My sister and I would get all decked out in our "second best" ~ the best was saved for next Sunday, Easter. On Saturday we would have been commandeered to sit in the Parish Hall and weave those blasted little crosses that were given out at all the Sunday services. Sunday mornings we stood in the vestibule of the church with great baskets of crosses, handing them out with the straight pins used to affix them to the lapels and dresses of the parishoners. The church was all decorated in palm fronds, the vestments were green and gold, the music was majestic . . . but that was a long time ago and in another place.

The town is still quiet and peaceful although there are small knots of day trippers down on the beach and there are a few more cars in town than on a usual weekend. I went down to check out the progress of the tarting up of the malecón and, slowly but surely the tents and concession stands are showing up.

The beer tents are beginning to sprout. Soon there will chairs and tables and giant coolers.

The disco light towers have been set up. You can see our house in the background, the big palapa on top. Now you can imagine the noise!

The jewelry stalls are open for business, selling all sorts of stuff. Much of it is still made from stones and glass, but plastic and artificial materials are starting to creep in. It's cheap, very colorful and fun to wear.

Down on the sand, the chairs have been given new canvas and a new coat of paint for the coming two weeks. They are just awaiting the backsides of the visitors!

There are even these big plastic pools for the little kids.

Meanwhile, over at the casa the crew showed up for work today (at 3-times their usual pay rate) in order to get the roof ready for the big cement pour on Tuesday. The marquesina has all been built and it looks just great.

I missed the last pour ~ we were in the mountains. I'll be here for Tuesday's show.

Friday, March 26, 2010

acquiring antiques

Big remo going on up the street at Jack's casa. He is having a new roof put on the entire place, both wings. This is the second wing with its roof gone.

The first step was to install a forest of wooden supports on the ground floor to support the ceilings.

Then the swarm of workers demolished the old roof, made of poured cement, using pick axes, sledge hammers and, for a day or so, a jackhammer. Then they installed new steel I-beams for supports, new rebar for more support, ripped out the ceilings in all the upstairs apartments, and then loaded big piles of rubble into the beds of various pick-up trucks. One day they had a front loader to relieve the guys from their shovel work!

This gentleman named Pedro, 72 years old, and his son used both their trucks load and haul stuff away to sell as "fill" for sand lots waiting to be built on out in the colonia.

The new roof will have a 12" pitch to it so the rain will run off, not pool up and weaken the structure. It is also cement but has some other materials in it to make it lighter in weight and weather resistant. It is shot out of an enormous hose attached to a machine; takes about one hour to do the roof vs. the three days it took to put on the original roof almost 40 years ago. It's been going on now for two months; another month to go and it should be finished. It's a huge job but is proceeding right on schedule.

All of the above is by way of explaining how we acquired this antique Sunbeam Mixmaster®. Because of all the work, Jack had to clean out all the cupboards and shelves in the various apartments and especially in his own. He came upon this machine that he swears he had forgotten he even had and hadn't used in at least 30 years. Did we want it? Well, Mr. C. is always happy to have a new kitchen gadget (but let's not even speak of the meat grinder!). He has been busy cleaning it up and oiling it in preparation for a baking test ("What do you need for a yellow cake?"). Both of us can remember these gadgets from our mothers' kitchens, although I think I remember one from my grandmother's, too. She had a big, sunny kitchen in her home in Pasadena and this thing sat in the corner on the tiled counter. Now this little old beauty will sit on our counter, along with the very essential liquadora and the Cuisinart®. It will be interesting to see how much we use it.


We had a house guest for a few days last week. Liz flew in from the cold of Baltimore to the warmth of Cuyutlán and we spent five days lounging around, getting caught up (she was here 6 years ago; our toddlers went to the same daycare). We went to brunch at the new beach hotel in El Paraiso; gorgeous setting, good food, good service.

As a special treat, Chuy cooked chiles relleno picadillo Monday night. I bought all the ingredients at the tianges - chiles poblano, papas, zanahorias, jitomates, ceboillas, res molida ~ and took it all to her house. At 6 o'clock she arrived bearing this beautiful olla of perfectly prepared, perfectly seasoned chiles. We all swooned. Or as my friend Patty would say, "We cried out!"

Tuesday we piled into the car and drove her (and two other Cuyutlán visitors) to the airport in Manzanillo. Then we stopped at La Posada (the pink hotel) for lunch before heading back home. Hers was a quick visit but she wants to come back and rent a place next year to get out of the East Coast winter. Who can blame her?

Fernando and Chuy are hosting a little farewell dinner party tonight for several of the "regulars" who are leaving this weekend. Marie is firing up the big outdoor oven and he will roast two huge slabs of Marlin caught by his brother. I'm taking a platter of veggies to roast also. Chuy is making pan de eloté, a cross between corn bread and corn pudding; it's quite sweet and is eaten as a dessert, frequently with some sort of (sweet) creamy liqueur pour over it.

The beer tents are starting to show up along the malecón as the town gears up for the Easter crazies. Pretty soon the disco will begin setting up and I'll go from my sweet self to a raging maniac all in a matter of minutes the first note I hear from the 15' tall speakers. But that's not until next week.

Tomorrow's opera: Hamlet by Ambroise Thomas. Good reviews in the NYT and the New Yorker. Poor Hamlet looks like he's in his pj's; can't sleep a wink. Too much on his mind, I guess. He needs a vacation, somewhere warm and sunny, without his mother.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Ruby turns 5

On Tuesday it was Ruby's 5th birthday and, once again I felt the terrible loss of my sister, her Meme. I called in the evening to express my wishes; she was having a little get-together and, like most hostesses, she was rushed and not able to chat long. She's quite the dresser, isn't she? She said she was happy to be 5 although leaving 4 had been quite traumatic. Unfortunately the gift I sent her (or had Alex send) had not arrived on THE day but I knew it would be there soon.

It arrived yesterday and I got this video of Ruby opening her package. I think she liked it!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Happy Birthday, Benny

Today is a national holiday, the birthday of Benito Juarez. The above photo was taken in our own little village. Almost nothing is closed except the banks and the laundry around the corner. Oh, and the hair cutter decided to take the day off too so I'll have to wait until I can get into Armeria on Wednesday for a trim. There were a few huge tourist buses parked up around the Basilica and the tianges there was going full tilt. There didn't seem to be as many people around today as were here yesterday but more than a normal Monday. Except for the school kids who were out having a fine time.

It dawned cold, windy and overcast this morning for the first time on this trip. We are usually here in January and COLD is the order of things. Likewise bare trees, no grass, no flowers, no dappled sunlight on the road into town. From now on it will be March or April when we visit. It is gorgeous; bright green leaves everywhere, wildflowers, sunshine, warm breezes. This morning was a throwback, I'm sure. We finally got stirring late ~ I didn't want to get out of the cozy, blanket-laden bed! We picked up the car, took it up to the Basilica area where enterprising fellows have a great car wash gig going. They gave it a thorough cleaning, managing in the course of the bath to scrape off all the accumulated petrified bug carcasses left over from our road travels. I stepped across the street and bought a couple more dolls to add to my collection. Almost all that I have I purchased at this little tienda that is crammed to the rafters with "stuff" of all descriptions; dolls and doll furniture, all sorts of toys snf trinkets for the tourists that visit this lovely town.

I see by the automatic time setting on my computer that it thinks it is still in the valley and had not come near Mexico; the time has changed to Daylight Savings. But we don't "spring ahead" for another three weeks; Easter Sunday for us. We are now only one hour ahead of California.

My next message here will be from the beach. We will leave early tomorrow morning, head back to Morelia, then onto Mex 15 to Guadalajara, then take a left turn and head down to the beach. We should arrive mid-afternoon.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sunday in Patz

There were hundreds and hundreds of people out today, it being a beautiful Sunday. Parents, grandparents, kids, babies, families, young and old. They were in the market, in the plazas, in the cafés, both indoor and outdoor, in the restaurants, both indoor and out door, on the streets, on the roads, in the shops. What bustle! We drove out to Tzintzutzan again because I wanted to go to the little market on the square in front of the cathedral. Found what I was looking for. Then back to Capula to see if we could find the "big" craft and ceramic area. Again, no luck. The way in was NOT the first exit. It ended in a dead end. Next time we have to head for the church, always the center of town, park the car and just walk. But even in the zocolo it was swarming with shoppers so we turned around and left. I must say, by way of some justification, that Mr. C is not a shopper. If he's going to J.C. Penny's to buy T-shirts, it's the work of 15 minutes. But to stroll among vendors selling basically the same thing only in different colors and patterns, forget it. He just can't do it! So we returned to our little casita and spent the afternoon reading and relaxing. Not a bad way to spend a day.

I am reading this remarkable book ~ Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann ~ loaned to me by one of the Cuyutlán-ers. Wonderful. I brought several books with me on this 2-week trip, plus several New Yorkers (which Carolyn took home with her, starved as she is for English language reading) and have gotten through most of it. There are a couple of books here in the casita and I will contribute to the fledgling library for future tenants. I have been sitting out on the terraza in the sunshine, occasionally glancing out at the garden to admire the colors and textures of the plants. One interesting one is this blossom that resembles somewhat a Moon Flower but blooms in the daylight and has no scent. There are also pink and white species but they are not yet in flower. Richard has said they basically grow wild; you stick one in the ground and it just takes off without much tending. The blossoms are closed up tight in the morning; by mid-day they are open in this lovely bell-shape, then close up again as the sun leaves the garden. There are also impatiens (impossible to grow at the beach) and cosmos, both of which seem to weather the very cold months without much trouble.

Tomorrow will be the day to get things together, pack up and prepare to leave on Tuesday morning. There is a hair-cutter around the corner; I'm hoping she will be open tomorrow as I am in desperate need of a severe trim. Last minute shopping, trip to the post office to mail post cards, last stroll through the big market, and then it's beach bound. It will be good to get home.

For any of my faithful readers who would like to visit this wonderful place, check out this delightful place to call home for a week or more.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

the cost of salvation

There are all sorts of memory triggers ~ sounds, smells, light, taste ~ that can hit you at strange times and call forth all sorts of remembrances. Venice really does have a magical light. I didn't believe it until I actually saw it. Florence, too. Paris has a smell; it's a mix of auto exhaust, bread, Galoise, coffee and mildew. I have only sniffed it one time outside of that city. In San Francisco while walking from the Ferry Building to the SFMOMA. I was stunned when it registered. Then there's the smell of Kenya; a distinctive sweet smell of burning acacia wood, the most popular and prevalent fuel used for cooking. Having been raised around a lot of churches, the scent of candle wax takes me right back to my childhood. I used to go with my father to a candle factory in the denizens of Olivera Street in Los Angeles where he bought the candles used in his parish. Another is the scent of certain flowers, stock in particular. These pungent, musky blooms that come in pastel shades of pink and lilac put me right back in the reception room in my parents' very large rectory in Coronado. They were nauseous then and still hit me the same way. There would frequently be a big bouquet of stock and gladiola ~ white or a sickly pink shade ~ on the mantle, the remnants of a funeral held in the church next door. I came to loathe the smell of stock and I'm still on the fence about glads. My father was not a "smells and bells" kind of priest so I didn't have to suffer through incense at services. Low church, you know.

When we were out at Tzintzuntzan on Thursday and went into the little church I was instantly alert to the fact that there were no candles burning, no smell of wax, no glow in the dark recesses of the nave. Anyone who has traveled anywhere in a Catholic country and has been dragged into at least one basilica, cathedral or small church has seen the banks of flickering votive candles representing the faith and hope of believers, or even non-believers (show me a miracle and I might believe so I'm lighting this candle to give You a chance). The first time Vicky and I went to Paris we traipsed through probably 15 churches of varying size and importance, from Notre Dame to the tiny chapel on our street. At each place we lit a candle and gave thanks for whatever we felt gratitude for at the time, "Thank You for the Louvre, Thank You for that delicious Cotes du Rhone last night, and Thank You God for everything." (That last bit was the first mealtime blessing we learned as children.) We picked up a long wax taper, lit it from one of the burning candles, lit a new one, blew out the taper, put our coin in the box, admired the beautiful, shimmering light, and went on our way until we found another church and thought of other things for which we were thankful. Mostly for being in Paris at all.

But such a ritual has changed. Now what you find are these battery-operated votives with a slot for your coins which, depending on how much you drop in, will keep one of these abominations going for the amount of time you have paid for.

I stood in this little church astounded at what I saw. No lovely flickering candles, no aura of light against the old adobe walls, no smell of candle wax to tickle the synapses, no mess of melted candle wax all over the place, and no sight of burned down candles to indicate how many prayers have been sent off in search of succor.

I am aghast at what the Pope has allowed.

Friday, March 12, 2010

one more try . . .

This is the third (and last) try to get something on the blog. If this one fails, I'll wait until we get home. The internet connection is very sketchy up here in the mountains and through the thick adobe walls. Let's hope this one works.

Back to San Miguel before proceeding to Patzcuaro.

Our friend Carolyn came in on Thursday for two nights. On Friday we drove out to Delores Hidalgo, the center of the talevera universe. We visited a couple of our favorite resources and did not come away empty-handed. Mr. C espied an especially charming bathroom basin for our upstairs half bath. It got all securely wrapped before I could take a photo but will do so when we get back to the beach. Carolyn was looking for a decorative bowl in which to serve a colorful salsa and found one in a downtown shop. (The other shops we visited are on the outskirts; there must be 30 shops on the road in to town.) She also took me to another store she had been in before and, BINGO! I found some fabulous plates that I bought. Again, they were all wrapped up but I'll photograph them when I get back. Just because I don't need plates is no excuse for not buying them, right? I think I'm becoming the Imelda Marcos of plates. We went back to SMA, went to our favorite fish taco joint for a late lunch, talked, read, rested, and a late light supper and went to bed to rest up for Saturday's trip to the Instituto de Allende's arts and crafts fair.

Craftspeople of every sort some to the Instituto; the fair is set up in the central courtyard, along the terrazas and downstairs in the open-air patio and restaurant. Jewelry, clothing, pottery, carvings in wood and stone,artwork of all sorts, paper maché animals and figures, all sorts of whimsical stuff . . .you name it. The big thing this year seemed to be tiny glass beads made into necklaces, bracelets, fringed belts, sewn onto blouses and shawls. Amazing stuff.

If you wanted buttons, they had buttons. Thousands of them.

Silver anyone? If you wanted silver jewelry, there were at least 25 vendors selling every conceivable design and style.

These little bowls are made out of coconut shells. Carolyn bought me one as a "thank you" for her stay. I will treasure it. She's quite fetching, isn't she?

As we were leaving we were met by this living billboard, the soul of patience and resignation. I did not buy a ticket to the Burro Festival. Perhaps next time.

Carolyn left on the 4:30 PM bus back to Mexico City. She was due to arrive home at 7:30 and, I heard later, she did so. It was fun to have her there for a couple of days. She's an Olympic-caliber shopper with a terrific eye for design and color.

The rest of the time in San Miguel was spent walking around, dining out (Olé! Olé! again for wonderful fajitas) and generally enjoying being there. The apartment we rent is perfectly located, well-equipped, very comfortable. I will miss the morning dok! dok! dok! sounds from the tennis club next door as the early players get in their daily sets.

Tuesday morning we packed up and took off for here. There is a new toll road between SMA and Morelia that sped up the trip by at least an hour. We negotiated the various tiny streets, up and down, and found our rental casita by early afternoon. And what a find it has proved to be.

The house sits at the back of the lot, with a larger casita in front. The lovely, colorful garden is in the middle, blooming with nasturtium, roses, lots of various green succulents and cacti, plus a lemon tree laden with fruit. The fountain is actually a fish pond with about half a dozen creatures swimming around. There is one bedroom with a big, comfortable bed and lots of storage, a living room, kitchen, bath with a good shower. The three main rooms all have sky lights so there is plenty of light. We keep the doors and windows open all day to let in more light and the warm sunshine. This is the view out the bathroom window.

There is a terraza the length of the front of our house where I sit and read in the afternoon. In fact, I got a bad sunburn on the tops of my sandaled feet while sitting there, enjoying the birdsong and the warmth!

The kitchen is wonderful. Big fridge, 2-burner cook top, no oven (but we haven't even thought of using one) microwave. Wonderful colors, good equipment, lots of light. A pleasure to work and eat in.

Wednesday we strolled into the center of town to reacquaint ourselves with familiar landmarks. It has been two years since our last visit. The Plaza Grande is undergoing a face lift; it is all fenced in so we couldn't walk through it. Many of the shops were shuttered. I don't know if that's a permanent condition or merely that it was not yet 11 AM! We'll go down again on Sunday for the big market and check again. We looked in on the hotel where we usually stay; still in operation. Everything looks pretty much the same; red and white paint on every single building. If finally figured out that this is a Michoacan style; all the towns are painted like this.

Across to the Plaza Chica where the post office and public library are. Then up Ahumada to the top of the hill and the Basilica, down Serreto to Ascencion and home. An easy walk, especially if you're not carrying goodies home from the shops. We passed this little collection of shops where, in the past, I have bought many of the paper maché dolls I collect. I'll get a couple of new ones before we leave. They fade something awful in the strong beach light.


I admired the ceramic plates hanging on the walls of the kitchen. I asked Richard, the chap who is staying in the front house, where they might have come from. Capula, he replied. So off we went yesterday morning to see what might be there. First we stopped in Tzintzuntzan to pay a visit to the lovely little church and surrounding gardens. The church and its adjacent convent are surrounded by 400 year-old adobe brick walls weathered to a beautiful shade of tan.


Inside the walls is a garden of ancient olive trees with trunks so gnarled and misshapen they look like something dreamed up by Tim Robbins.

There are two entrances into the town of Capula. We took the second one. We should have taken the first. Ah, the road not taken. So we ended up at the far end of town. The goodies are at the near end. We did a little shopping nonetheless. I bought a, what else? plate. But before you roll your eyes, it's a gift! And some smallish clay pots; at $20 pesos each ($1.50) I couldn't pass them up. I bought 6; they'll look terrific on the wall downstairs, filled with something that I can get to bloom in the salt air. It was only after we got home and I compared notes with Richard that I realized we had missed the best part. We may to back tomorrow or Sunday.

I am so frustrated with trying to get this piece together that I am going to call it quits and either try later or wait until tomorrow. There is much more to tell but it has already taken me almost 3 hours to get this far and I don't want to spend another minute. I have to walk up to the laundry to drop off a load; they've been closed all week but are supposed to open this afternoon. We are going out to dinner tonight so no worry about cooking. Besides, I need the walk to bring back my usual excellent humor.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

from Patzcuaro

Terrible internet connection. Won't take photos, slowest ever. I'll try tomorrow. Took some good pix, tho, and want to get them up. Weather lovely.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

la boveda

On both the stairwell and the landing of the condo we rent are these beautiful, curved boveda ceilings that support little cupolas giving light and air to what might be dark and stuffy parts. These ceilings are so elegant; herringbone patterned bricks, whimsical cupolas on the roofs, light and airy spaces.

We got some chores done this morning. Our friend Carolyn is coming by bus from Mexico City for a couple of days. Last year she and her amor came for an overnight. This year she is coming by herself. (Sic transit amor.) We researched the location of the bus depot. There is mega construction and road work going on here. We were advised not to go the usual route to the station but to take a round about trip to avoid long delays and huge traffic jams. Following those instructions we found it without any trouble. She arrives tomorrow; we'll find her easily. Then we went to the Mega to shop for some basics. For lunch we walked up to our favorite fish taco joint; two fish tacos, cole slaw, an Indio beer. It's good to be back!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

in san miguel

The drive to San Miguel was, fortunately, uneventful for us. There was, though, this remarkable sight of the two volcanoes, one hot and one cold, in Colima. The snow covered one has about half the snow it had when we saw it last week. And the hot one, draped in ash, also had snow on it. But now you can see it's veil of gray while the other is still capped in snow. This shot was taken just outside Colima, speeding along at 70 MIP. Very pretty.

I also took a photo of a big agave field to show how beautiful these blue-gray plants are. The photo didn't come out well at all. I'll try again.

Although it was easy for us, no so for some others. Like the two hapless big rig drivers we saw standing to the side of the road. One of them had been driving the truck that hit a cow. There she was, sitting in the middle of one lane. Not dead. In fact, she looked as though she was just taking her ease. looking around in an attitude of contentment. There was, however, some, um, "evidence" on the pavement that indeed she had been hit. The poor chaps didn't know what to do; both were on cell phones probably looking for guidance and advice about how to cope with an un-dead cow lying in the middle of the highway. Then later on we saw a really bad accident involving several cars and a couple of trucks. It was on the other side of the highway. Lots of police cars, a couple of tow trucks, a long line of stopped traffic.

On a better subject, the fabulous strawberries from this region are appearing in the roadside stands. We didn't stop for any on the way in but will be able to find them along the byways around here. They are so delicious; plump, sweet, juicy.

It's good to be here. Lots to see and do. We'll start in tomorrow. Meanwhile, for a week we have good, reliable internet connection, TV (!) and I think there is even an English language paper. Right now, as I sit writing, the News Hour with Jim Lehrer is bringing me all the bad news. But Sunday night I can watch the Oscars. I haven't seen this rhinestone presentation in years. Can't wait.

Monday, March 1, 2010

scoring big at the tiangues

Tucked in among the stalls for vegetables, fruits, weird herbs and cure-alls, plastic buckets, the chicken man and the fish man and the cheese lady are the clothing stalls. Many of the goods are new ~ jeans, T-shirts, undies, shoes, baby clothes. But the rest are selling used clothes, the seminuevos. This is where the treasures are. All of us have become discriminating grazers over the piles of mostly bad stuff; too much polyester for my taste. When Mr. C was still a Patient I found some great shorts for him in a tiny size and he wore them the entire season. Probably $2. A denim shirt, too. Another $2. Last week Alex found me this snazzy item, off to the side hanging on a rope holding up the canvas covering.

It's made of that gauzy cotton batiste that is so cool and comfortable. Embroidery, sequins, satin ribbon trim. 20 pesos. Cries out for a party. I wore it to Neighbor Nelson's last Monday night. Very pretty.

Today, all of us who go to the tiangues together scored big time except Ms. Neighbor Nelson who just wasn't in a shopping mood. Imagine! Marie came away with a cotton tiered skirt and a camisole top, Sybil with a skirt, capri pants and a blouse, and I got this bright silk shirt. All the buttons, too. 20 pesos - $1.35 at today's exchange rate. I think for the three of us we didn't spend more than $10.

I'm taking it with me to San Miguel. Weather there looks great; warm days, cool nights, no bugs. We'll be on our way early tomorrow morning; it's a full day's drive.