Saturday, April 30, 2011

the last of the last

Last night was the last dinner at Dago's. A good turn out to say farewell to this 2010-11 season. Today was the last opera enjoyed while eating a "left over shrimp from Dago's" salad. Yesterday afternoon was my last domino game and I am now in serious withdrawal. Tonight is the last margarita at sunset from our mirador up on the 3rd floor. It is also the last night we bed down in our lovely house with the sound of the surf lulling us to sleep. I must add to all of this, of course, "until next season."

The town is still hopping with weekend visitors; the streets are clogged with parked cars. But most of them are up in the north end and will be gone tomorrow as the two-week Easter holiday ends. It's quiet down here where we are. This chap in front of our house is the lone hold-out from Semana Santa.

He has shut down his taco business but he and his family are still camping. He'll probably leave tomorrow.

We are cooking the last of a lovely pork loin tonight, and will take the left-overs on the road with us to nosh on along the way. Did you know that you can smuggle arms, drugs, and people across the US border but the INS is death on bringing pork into the US from Mexico? Go figure.

what was she thinking?

This is someone's idea of a very bad joke. Isn't it? No? Oh dear. The hat looks like it's topped by some sort of arthritic antlers.

Friday, April 29, 2011

he seems like a nice boy

I didn't get up in the middle of the night to watch THE WEDDING. I fell asleep after the musical offerings last night; they turned everything off at 2:30 AM. In spite of my absence I read this morning that the show did go on.These two actually talk to one another, look each other in the eye and seem to like what they see. Blessings on them.

Tonight was the last shrimp dinner at Dago's. Good crowd was there to say adios. Seven months and we'll be back to do it all over again. Tomorrow is the last big packing push, then an early dinner, a good night's sleep, and we're off. Both of us are ready. We can take just so much of this laid-back tropical paradise life. It's time to get back to paved streets and high gas prices.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

just when you thought it was safe . . .

. . . to think that the Easter crazies over and done with comes the Festival de Cana (Old Folks Night) on the malecón. Marie and I went down to El Barcel for a cocktail (she had a martini, I had a [not very good] margarita) to toast the end of the season. All the puestos, especially the ones at the southern end nearest our house are set up for tonight's celebration ~ white or colored tablecloths, flowers on tables, set-ups dragged out onto the pavement. Very festive. What else is there? A huge stage with 40 ~ I counted them ~ speakers to blast dance music all over town. Up on the stage, lots of drums and other percussion instruments, 12 guitars, various brass pieces. Since it is for "seniors" I am hoping that it will be lovely old ranchero music. It's due to start in about half an hour so I'll know soon enough. I'm hoping Fernando and his fellow negocios make a bundle tonight. It's really their last chance. Yes, people do come here over the summer, and he will stay open, probably only on the weekends or on puentes (3 or 4 day weekends). I wish them good luck.

The house is almost dismantled. Fans are down, pillows and cushions bagged, closets emptied out, garden and outdoor furniture packed away.

I think we're way ahead this year; there probably won't be a big cleaning spasm at 3 AM just before we leave on Sunday morning for Tepic and the long journey home. I have one more domino game with Marie tomorrow, then we have one more dinner at Dago's, one more Saturday opera ~ Il Trovatore ~ one more night of listening to the music of the surf, and then we're gone. But we'll be back.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

music to my ears

And I don't mean the disco. The music I'm hearing right now is the clank and thunk and bang of the disco being dismantled and carted away! And this being Easter, I am happy to say that there is a God! Last night the electricity went out and stayed off for about 5 hours. That meant that the disco had to shut down 2 or 3 hours early. It's true, I wasn't here to enjoy the dead silence. I was enjoying dead silence anyway. But Mr. C woke up, saw that all the street lights were out and the disco was silent. He thinks it was around 2 AM, but Fernando reported it was earlier, and he was sleeping in his puesto right across the malecón. Both he and Chuy look completely worn out. But he said that he made enough money to cover all his expenses, pay his help, and have some left over. And the Pasqua week is just beginning. He hasn't made as big an investment for this week. It's a different kind of crowd. But he is hoping he'll realize a tidy bundle.

The campers across the street are gone, the street is almost empty of cars, the street sleepers outside our house have packed up and left. There is trash everywhere, despite cans on every corner and 4-times-daily trash pick-up. It's just easier to drop it on the ground than to walk 10 feet and put it in a dust bin. I have seen some city workers walking through the streets with big black trash bags, picking up debris. The side streets are also beginning to reek of too many people in too close proximity without regederas and other amenities. Fortunately it's not too hot and there are good stiff breezes!

We spent the day doing more close-up work, putting things in bags for summer storage. I cleaned out the kitchen shelves and put pots and pans into some sort of tidiness. I've started compiling the "Bring in 2011" list, for instance, caraway seeds, rye flour, peanut butter, horseradish, etc. We can't get any of these things here. Do without, you say? Nonsense. As long as the wheels go around on Vincent we'll bring it all down. I don't how we'd do it if we decide to fly.

Tonight ends my Lenten fast, or feast. I have managed to post every day for the past 40 days. I think I was late once due to no internet. It was a good exercise in discipline and commitment. I am in awe of people who can write every day and actually say something. It's hard. I will do my best to keep it up.

Tomorrow is the last tianguis of the season; Marie and I will stop at the Jacaranda for our traditional bean tacos and a beer after the shopping is done. Best bean tacos ever. And tonight, tacos de lengua for the last time.

We made it through another Easter season. Thank you, Helen and Linda, for giving Marie and me a quiet place to sleep. As far as I know there were no drownings this season. That's always an issue; bad surf, rip tide, non-swimmers, drunks, etc. There were enough visitors to go around but not a terrible mass as there has been in the past. All in all, a pretty mellow holiday.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

ultima dia

I'm about to head down to the quiet of the colonia after what has been a remarkably quiet day. The disco never fired up (after shutting down at 4 AM this morning) and the various street bands were, I guess, sleeping it off. That meant no interruption in this afternoon's lovely opera.

When I got home this morning at 8:30 I noticed that a group had set up their camp on the sidewalk outside our house; Pops was sleeping on the sidewalk and the rest of the family, including kids, a baby, and some other adults, were sleeping in the cab and bed of the truck. They hastened to the door and asked if it was OK to stay there. Sure, why not? You want to sleep on the cement? Buenos noches.

I went down to the malecón a bit later to order some shrimp for my "opera salad"and to gauge the crowds. Not as much as there would be later in the day, but don't forget I had the opera to listen to so had to get home. A note on the shrimp: Dago does it best.

Remember the little Corona cubbies? Here's how they looked today.

Each of these little places sells exactly the same thing, but each is run by a different person. And they all look alike. I guess they depend on family and friends as patrons. Otherwise, how do you choose? Perhaps just the one that's closest when a powerful thirst comes on.

One last look at the campgrounds. Most will pack it up and be gone by tomorrow. Again, taken from the same spot as the last two.

The overall opinion of long-time residents and puesto owners is that the crowds are far less this year. Fewer people actually buy meals or drinks; they bring all their own stuff and only rent the tables, chairs and umbrellas on the beach for the day. This is a huge disappointment, of course, for these people who have worked so hard getting ready for the crowds. This is when they make their money for the entire year. Now we have the week of Pasqua. It's usually a much quieter time with fewer campers, no disco (if all goes well it will shut down tomorrow morning and be out of town by noon). By next weekend we'll have our little village back. And then we leave.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday evening

Last night was quiet and peaceful out in the colonia. The loudest noise was the pounding of the surf in front of the house, and believe me, it was loud. It's remarkable how even the short distance between the shoreline and our house muffles the really sharp "crack" and roar of the breaking waves. But there was not a hint of disco music or any other sort of disturbance. Mr. C reported that the disco finally folded at 4 AM this morning. To give them credit, they didn't start up until after mass was over ~ 3 PM. It has been going on and off since, along with mariachi bands and various street pick-up brass bands. They all seem to play the same tunes over and over so that after awhile I cease to hear any of it. We did have a car alarm out on the street that went off at 12:30 this afternoon and was still going strong when I left the house about 3 o'clock. That really WILL make you crazy.

The crowds continue to pour into town in the morning, spend the day enjoying the sea and some tasty eats in one of the puestos and then head back home in the evening. Many campers, yes, but no where near as many as in years past. Fernando said his place had been very busy for comida and cena yesterday and was doing a brisk business again today. Good for him! I hope he makes a ton of money over these next few days. He has worked very hard to make El Barcel into a spiffy restaurant. He's also astounded by the amount of work it takes to run the place.

After dinner, Marie and I will head back down to H & L's for another good night's sleep. Tomorrow's opera is Capriccio by Richard Strauss. The divine Renée Flemming is singing the role of the Countess. I hope to be able to hear it over the throbbing and pounding of the disco!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

one-quarter full swing

Yesterday I took some photos of the gradual incursion of commerce and humanity on our little village. I didn't get a chance to post them last night so here they are.

First, I remind you of the campers on the north end. This photo was taken on Tuesday.

Here's what it looked like yesterday, from the same spot. That big open space on the right side is now a parking lot jammed with cars and trucks. Don't even think of trying to get out in a hurry.

A further stroll down the malecón and I found the candy man vending his wares out of a wheelbarrow. The vendor himself was nowhere to be found; his wares just sat baking in the sun.

Dago is offering something special at his puesto this Easter.

Despite it all, it is so beautiful down on the beach with all the colored umbrellas and sling chairs just waiting for the revelers to arrive. The puestos, too, were spiffed up and waiting.

On the way home I spott4ed this taco stand in its usual place outside the wall to la casa. This fellow sets up every year, does a good business for three days, then packs up and goes home, leaving the sidewalk and area spotlessly clean.

By yesterday afternoon the disco still hadn't gotten its act together except to wrap the whole thing in some kind of white plastic cloth ~ a step-up from the usual garbage bag look. I had a vague hope that it wasn't going to happen at all. Even when I got home after dominoes, nothing. But at 9:30 it started blasting away and kept it up until 2 AM. Even as I write this it is going full tilt, having cranked up at 10:30 AM. It doesn't seen so loud during the day as it has to compete with other "daylight" sounds. Don't get me wrong; it's still teeth-rattling.

Here's what I saw from the front balcony this morning at 8:30 AM.

And at 2 PM.

Nap this afternoon, perhaps domino game, more reading of David Mitchell's "Cloud Atlas" ~ splendid book. Now to colonia for a good night's sleep. I'm planning on it.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

late night note

It's late. I'm just back from a domino game and need to get to bed. Still no campers across the street but the disco has cranked up and will probably go until the early hours of tomorrow. Full report in the morning.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tuesday's progress toward frenzy

I took these photos this morning of what's happening down on the malecón in preparation for the next few days.

Here's the beginnings of the disco structure. This looks new this year; it's usually just posts dug into the sand and wrapped with big black plastic garbage bags. This looks like it might be a marquée or something. In the dead center of the photo you can see the tilt of our third floor palapa. The conical one to the right is on top of the Oasis Hotel.

Down the way a bit is this string of Corona stalls; each of these little cells will be an beer cubby. They will all sell the same thing; Corona beer in paper cups that get strewn all over the beach and the streets. Lovely.

Next door is the usual pizza parlor selling really bad food to be washed down with either Coke or, guess what? Corona.

The phone kiosk is in case you need to call home for some more pesos to buy yet more Corona.

The campers are now if full evidence on the north end of town. This is a mere fraction of how many will ultimately stake out their 4 square feet of sand where they will eat, sleep, cook and . . . well, whatever, for the next week to 10 days.

Every year, a family stakes out its claim to the area at the end of our street. They come early, set up this huge tent, and live there, on the cement for two weeks. Ostensibly they are a "taco stand" but believe me, you wouldn't want to take your meals there no matter how adventuresome a gourmand you think you are. After 10 days it gets pretty rank around there.

In preparation for the Easter celebration we have a new art installation in town. In fact, it's right across the street from us. It's this porpoise statue. I don't know who's idea it was, who paid for it, why it was put in front of the Oasis Hotel, or why the poor thing is heading inland instead of facing out to sea.

But there you have it. If the hotel put it there to encourage people to stay off the median in front, they've missed by a mile. Ingenious campers will use the base and the statue itself to string support lines for tents and other shelters. On the other hand, it does have a nice smile, don't you think?

Dinner this evening on the terrazzo with Fernando, Chuy, Jack and Marie. Our Cuyutlán "family." End of season and all. Full report tomorrow. Right now I have to go attend to the apple-onion confit that goes with the roasted pork loin. Mr. C made strawberry ice cream for dessert.

Monday, April 18, 2011

at today's tiangues

Even though I didn't buy any (or photo them, either) the beets were gorgeous, with fresh, perky greens and nice firm fruit. Didn't buy any broccoli, either. I came home with two big baskets loaded with the usual week's fare; tomatoes, oranges, cucumbers, a few avocados ~ they're very expensive now ~ some peppers for salsa picante, and some more berries for tomorrow night's strawberry ice cream dessert. We managed to eat all the berries we brought back from San Miguel. I walked up and down the street, looking at all the stalls with their beautiful produce, thinking that in another couple of weeks I'll be doing this at the Safeway and paying about 10 times as much for things that aren't nearly as fresh. But so it goes.

I took a short walk on the malecón to check on the progress of things. Yep, more stalls being set up, the disco is taking shape, and the usual cut-off spot for puestos has been extended down the beach. There are already many campers set up on the north end of town. I guess it's going to happen again this year. Nothing on our street, yet, however. Not until late Wednesday, as I recall from last year.

Note on the local home economy: I paid the electric bill this afternoon. Two meters in our house, one for the ground floor, one for the second/third. We get billed every two months. This bill: $379 pesos or $32.22 at the current exchange rate. We live here for 5 months so we can afford to live there for 7 months on the money we save.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

avant la déluge

Here's our street, quiet and deserted on this lovely Palm Sunday.

And here is the beautiful malecón before it gets taken over by visitors, vendors, and every type of police - local, county, state, federal, army, navy, marine - that you can imagine. I

I strolled up and back this morning, checking out the puestos to see who had done some painting, who had new umbrellas, tables, walkways, etc. It all looks pretty much the same as it has for the past few weeks, except that things look tidier and cleaner. It won't be long before the place is overrun with celebratory humanity.

Yesterday over at my friend MAS's blog she wrote about food wagons. We love the food wagons that are open on the weekend up at the jardin. We get our dinners on Saturday and Sunday at these wonderful provisioners. Pepe cooks barbacoa de res and the family who own Ricos Tacos cook tacos de lengue, my Sunday must-have.

Beginning tomorrow they'll be open every day for two weeks to accommodate the hungry Easter crowds. I'm going to miss these treats, although there is a wagon out on Road 103 in Davis that has all these goodies, cooked by a family from Michoacan. Small world, no?

Tonight's gorgeous full moon heralds next week's Easter Sunday, the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Equinox. This is about as late as it can get. Isn't it a beauty?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

two weeks and counting

I got everything done today that I set out to accomplish. Stopped at the pink Pemex station for gas; get it here for $2.85 a gallon. Of course it's 2200 miles from there to here, but think of the money you'll save once you get here! Did the marketing in preparation for the dinner party. Took Marie to the bus station to get her ticket to Guadalajara. Stopped at the vivero to check out the pots; bought three. Photo tomorrow; they're still stacked in the back of the car. A splendid shrimp salad lunch while trying to listen to "Wozzeck" (Voy-check) but I finally gave up and turned on the "Cosi Fan Tutti." Then over to play a game of dominoes on Marie's porch ~ my luck is a whole lot better than it has been over the last few days.

It's so quiet and lovely right now but it won't last for too much longer. There are folk setting up stands on the malecón to sell beer, micheladas and other drinks. I will go down tomorrow morning and take a photo of what's happening to our little town. It will get completely zany starting Wednesday, last for three or four days, and then everyone will go home and leave us alone for another year, or at least until next Christmas. I'm of two minds about these invasions. I know that this time of year is when the hotels, puestos and souvenir vendors make all their money for the year, so good for them. On the other hand, it is complete bedlam, it leaves the town drowning in trash and filth, and nobody really cares or cleans it all up when the mobs depart, except the neurotic gringos who can't stand the look/smell of the place. I should add, however, that the trash collection has been upped to 3 times a day. The trucks roll through town and pick up everything and cart it away. Cudos to Armeria for financing the effort.

We have had a few mosquitoes buzzing around in the early morning. There will be a city-wide spray any day now. Usually at dinner time. They always do that just before the influx of Easter revelers. Us townies are delighted. There has also been an effort to repair the streets by putting new cobblestones in old ruts. Some chap has been working on the street outside our house for the past couple of days, pulling up the old cobblestones, rearranging them, then pounding them back into the street. I'm not sure it makes any difference in the actual driving ease on the street but it does give him something to do.

More packing up tomorrow. Got the table and bed linens stowed away. Tomorrow it's the plethora of T-shirts and shorts that summer-over here.

Friday, April 15, 2011

the antepenultimate Friday

Yes, after today we have only two more Fridays before we head home. So today, it being the "third-to-the-last" this is what I did. Lunch up at Morelos with three mujeras gringas for chiles rellenos, something this restaurant does only during Lent. I am not a fan of the cheese they use; it's dry and too salty. Nonetheless, it is a lovely dining room, and we had such a good time talking and enjoying one another that I could not possibly worry about the cheese. Then we all went to Patty's for a quick game of Mexican Train dominoes, followed by a celebratory glass of wine. Back home, a quick swipe of the comb through the tresses, and on to Dago's for Friday dinner. Enselada con camerones al mojo de ajo as usual, with enough saved for tomorrow's luncheon salad. Good group was there; it's always nice to see those you don't see during the week. It's a bit nostalgic now, knowing that we are about to go our separate ways and will not gather together again for 6 or 7 months.

Tomorrow's opera is "Wozzeck" by Alban Berg. Way too complicated for me, and way too melodramatic. I may tune in to listen from time to time but I am not going to set aside my entire Saturday for it. I have other things to do, like going to Tecoman to get gas, look for some garden pots to take home, stop by the bus depot so Marie can get her ticket to Guadalajara so she can catch her plane, and do some marketing. We're having a dinner party next Tuesday evening and it's never too soon to start getting ready.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

pix from the party ~ sort of

I already said I did not take my camera to last night's birthday party for Mac. But I do have a couple of pictures to share. First, Mac brought me one of these jalapeño roasters. These delicious little hors d'oeuvres are frequently served at parties here. They are absolutely delicious; juicy, picante, usually filled with cheese and sausage or ground meat. Even fish. I asked Mac how he made them and he said he'd get me one of the sets. So when he was up in Oklahoma a couple of weeks ago he bought this set and presented it to me as a late b'day gift.

When I go to the tianguis on Monday I'm going to look for some big peppers and give this contraption and recipe a try.

One of the goodies I bought in San Miguel was this wonderful bag, perfect for taking to a smart evening soirée.

Just in case you can't tell what the decoration is, it's the Virgin of Guadalupe encircled by little roses with lots of sequins.

Let me tell you, it was quite a hit! Now I have to decide if she will "fit" into my USA life or if she's best left here to be part of this, my other life.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

nick and roger do it again

Another wonderful party at Nick and Roger's house down in the colonia. Everyone who was in town was there to celebrate Mac's birthday. An Italian theme; delicious food, a big tres leches cake, plentiful drink, lots of laughs. A fine time had by all who attended. It's getting to be that time when folks are packing up and heading north so this was the last gathering of the season. Perhaps we will be together again at Dago's on Friday. Then we're getting into the Easter Crazies and most of us will hunker down and stay home. The final time we might be together is the Friday after Easter.

I didn't take a camera but have a couple of pix to post tomorrow. Just keeping up with my Lenten vows tonight. Time for bed.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

back home

It was an easy ride home today, and I'm mighty glad to be here. The beautiful sea breezes greeted us and even though it had been hot here during our absence it is pleasant and lovely this evening. The drive from San Miguel to Guadalajara is not very pretty at this time of year; mostly dun color with the occasional green patch of an irrigated crop. What was really stunning, though, was the sight of a lone jacaranda tree in glorious bloom shimmering against the backdrop of bleak tan. What a show-off!

As we left SMA we drove through Salamanca and Irapuato, the strawberry heart of Mexico. Nothing would do but I must stop and buy some of the delicious little beauties to take home. When we went up last week I bought a kilo in a plastic bag. But the gentleman this morning would only sell me a canasta of berries. Here they are.

Aren't they beautiful? His whole stand was an array of these little baskets or some much bigger ones overflowing with ruby-red berries. I may have missed the high point of the jacaranda blooms but I think we hit it just right for berries.

It's good to be home. Dinner is being served up as I write. I am looking forward to a good night's sleep in my own bed with the delicious sea breeze wafting through our room.

We've been invited to a birthday party tomorrow evening. The delightful Mac is celebrating who-knows-what year. But who cares what year? He's a fellow Aries. The party is being hosted by Nick and Roger so all are assured a very lively celebration. Full report ASAP.

Monday, April 11, 2011

beautiful breads of SMA

We stopped by the Canadian bakery this morning to load up on bread to take back to the beach. A loaf of nutty whole wheat, some rye, and some wonderful little bun that will make delicious salami and cheese sandwiches for the road.

A shopping trip to the Mega, lunch at the fish taco joint, the purchase of a pollo asada to take home for tomorrow night's dinner, a huge bunch of beautiful arugula, and that was it for the day. I must confess that I am not feeling A+. I think it is a combination of altitude and heat, so I was just as happy to spend the afternoon dozing and reading.

Tomorrow morning we will head home to the beach. I am hoping to stop at one of the roadside strawberry vendors; this area is the berry capitol of Mexico, the expertise shared with Mexico compliments of UC Davis.

It's been a great week. Next message will be from Cuyutlán.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

celebrating in SMA

Today being my birthday I got to do exactly what I wanted. First, this morning about 8 AM I was awakened by what sounded like small arms fire. But no, it was just firecrackers going off around town to signal the start of my birthday celebration. I think. Then pealing bells from all the churches in the area; that would be nine of them. I gave up the idea of a lie-in and got up to have some delicious coffee. But I stayed in my jammies all day, reading and enjoying a very lazy morning. About 4 o'clock I began thinking about our evening plans; dinner at Casa Allende, a white-table-cloth restaurant near the center of town. We had reservations for 7 but got there early. There wasn't another soul in the place, but then people don't go out until around 9 PM. This place is quite large, with 3 or 4 different dining rooms and a central bar located under a huge glass dome that floods the place with light. We sat in the smaller front dining room, on the street, by a beautiful tall window. This is a view looking back to another dining area.

I ordered Osso Bucco de Cordero (lamb shanks), one of my favorite dishes of all time. This is the beautiful presentation that was set before me. Note the little rosemary sprig poking out of the shank bone.

It was every bit as delicious as it was beautiful. The rest we will have for dinner tomorrow evening, along with the uneaten portion of Mr. C's pork loin.

So happy birthday to me. It was a fine day, with loving messages from family (I miss you, Vicky) and friends, and a splendid dinner at a lovely restaurant. (I think the reason Mr. C looks a bit shell shocked is that it was his treat and he had just gotten the bill.)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

the saturday ramble in SMA

Another hot day today. Now I know why people stay away from here after about April 1; the temperature starts inching up and the cool mountain air takes a vacation. We ventured out in the late morning, after Trini arrived to do the cleaning. First we headed up to the central park to see if we could find the Italian deli we liked so much. It has moved from our local neighborhood to a new location up beyond the post office. Now you really have to know where it is; the strolling traffic doesn't pass by anymore. But we found it; La Cava in a strange location way off the beaten path. Bought some tomato-infused pasta and a nice chunk of delicious brie. While I did a bit more non-shopping, Mr. C went looking for a restaurant we had found last year and wanted to go to for lunch. I had better luck than he did; he searched everywhere and couldn't come across it. It had a beautiful big patio with jacaranda gtrees and other beautiful flowers and vines. I, on the other hand, found a couple of great things; photos after we get back home. So we decided to go to Hecho in Mexico which is close by our house and very tasty. I ordered a beautiful Cobb salad; Mr. C had a Reuben sandwich.

We sat outside in the patio and enjoyed it all very much. It's so nice to be in a place where you actually have a choice of restaurants that are not puestos.

Home after lunch for a siesta, some reading, and another gorgeous San Miguel sunset viewed from the 3rd floor.

Friday, April 8, 2011

lunch, music, more no-shopping


We hung around the house this morning, reading and enjoying the quiet of this place. Then we stirred into action and got ready to go up to lunch. We took the bus ~ always fun because it doesn't take a direct route to the central station. It winds up and around and over, finally, overloaded with kids going home from school, it crawls up a steep street and ends up near the central market. We walked from there up Calle Loretto to Ole! Ole! for a 2:30 comida. Interior looked just the same; bull fighting posters, photographs, old ticket stubs, and of course, the requisite bull's head jutting out from the wall as though he were plowing through the side of the restaurant.

A new feature this year; a delightful gentleman playing his guitar and singing great old, romantic ranchero music.

He may have been a bit flat from time to time but absolutely lovely nonetheless. He came to our table and asked what we would like to hear. I requested "Gracias a la vida", one of my most favorite Mexican songs. He said he only knew part of it so he played what he could. It was very nice. He invited us to come back on Monday to hear more music. But that probably won't happen; we have to start the pack-up-to-leave routine. Then a few more tunes, we ate our delicious fajitas (for me) and brochetta de verduras for Mr. C. We're polishing off the leftovers tonight.

On the way home we walked through the big central market. Half of it is devoted to tourists' needs; trinkets and mementos of one's visit here. The other half is fruits, veggies, butcher shops, household goods, and, of course, banks of gorgeous flowers.

More stops on the way, first the manta cloth shop, Girasol (sunflower), where I found a pair of pants, then on to a shop near our street where I bought a couple of Freida shopping bags for two Cuyutlán visitors who had admired mine and who each wanted one. I'll mail them when I get home. We also picked up some yummy butter cookies and a couple of croissants at Le Petit Fours, said to be the best bakery in San Miguel. I beg to differ. I like the Canadian bakery better; their whole wheat bread is worth the drive up here!

I have failed to mention the gorgeous jacaranda trees here. We are beyond the peak; the trees are leafed out. But this sight caught my eye; the play of colors was stunning; purple against the terra cotta.

This is also a very Mexican sight. How could anyone possibly figure out which line does what? Es la vida loca.

We staggered home around 5 PM, in the late heat of the day. Yes, it's darned hot here. I finished a book, and then tuned in to the News Hour on PBS. First time I've seen it since leaving home. Great to see everyone again. Then Washington Week. Again, old friends. Up to the 3rd floor to watch yet another beautiful sunset. It's cooler this evening; even a bit of a breeze. Housekeeper comes tomorrow morning so we have to be up and out by 11 AM. Probably up to the centro for a smart lunch somewhere. I'll take the camera.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

the no-shopping bonanza

It's all wrapped up and you can't see what treasures I found, but believe me, for a no-shopping trip, I scored! I'll unwrap them when I get back to the beach and photograph everything.

First stop was a great pottery store in downtown Dolores where I bought three "face" plates, a dozen tiles for the soon-to-be redone upstairs half bath. Next stop was another pottery store on the way out of town; our favorite shop was not open today so we had to skip that one and try something else. Mr. C was looking for a new basin for the downstairs half bath. He found one. And he found some more tiles he likes when we re-do that little bath. So add those purchases to the stash. Last stop was our favorite very high-class talavera place. Some of the stuff at other places is very gaudy (NOSS - Not Our Sort of Stuff) but the Arte San Gabriel has fabulously beautiful things. I have bought many lovely things there; this time it was a handsome plant pot ~ terra cotta and white stripe ~ to hold something pretty up on our living room balcony.

Just think what I could have reported if we actually set out to BUY stuff!

That's how it went on a no-buy shopping spree. Tomorrow it's up to some shops here in SMA for a few tasteful non-buying items, especially some manta cloth slacks. This is a very lightweight cotton cloth that is perfect for the heat here and at the beach. Then we're going to Olé! Olé! for comida and perhaps a stop by the big library on the way home. Lots of paperbacks for sale. Tomorrow the local weekly English-language paper Atención goes on sale. It will fill us in on any music or theater going on in town over the weekend.

Today is the anniversary of my mother's birth. Happy 96th remembrance. My mother would have loved San Miguel. It's her kind of place!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

a slow day in SMA

One important thing I left at home: my computer glasses. I was certain I put them in the computer bag but here I am without them. Makes working on this laptop very difficult. But I will press on.

We stuck pretty close to the house today, resting up from yesterday's long drive. We went out this morning to check out a couple of things; the fish restaurant for fish tacos, cole slaw and Indio beer. Yes, still open. Then up to the main square to check to see that the ATM is still there ~ yes ~ and to locate a new restaurant, Casa Allende. Yes, it's there, quite lovely, and we will go there for dinner on Sunday to celebrate my birthday. It is not one that ends with a "0" or a "5" so how bad can it be?

Then back to find the Italian deli we like so much. It's not there. I checked with the dueña of the fish restaurant. She told me where it has moved; we'll go there on Friday for cheese and sausages. Past the place with all the great oil cloth stuff ~ coin purses, tote bags, etc. Lots of funky clothes, too. Picked up a half of a roasted chicken with roasted veggies (including jalapeño peppers so hot they brought tears to my eyes and a cry for help escaped my lips!).

This afternoon I read, listened to music, fiddled with the TV ~ haven't had one for almost 5 months and hardly know what to do. Got it working but most everyting is in Spanish. Found PB S this evening and watched Ken Burns' "Civil War" for the umpteenth time.

Tomorrow we are going to Delores Hidalgo, home of great talavera pottery. This is the place where I am not going to do any shopping. Just wait until I tell you what I found!

Here are a few photos of the house. By the way, as soon as I laid eyes on the place I sent a message to the owners about reserving for next year. Already the place is booked until mid-April, which will be too late for us next year. So now the hunt begins for next year's perfect place.

Here's the view of a little patio off our downstairs bedroom. There is a bedroom/bath on the second floor but the bed is much too tiny for us. When you have a tall person such as myself, you need a nice BIG bed. We opted for one of the two downstairs guest rooms. Very comfortable.

This is our very well-appointed kitchen; big fridge, good oven, plenty of storage space. There are lots of good markets, including a big supermarket about 1 km. away, plus many smaller markets and the big central market in the center of town. I expect good things will happen here.

The second floor has two large patios; the upstairs bedroom looks out on them.

Then there is a 3rd floor mirador for watching the sunset. Here's a shot taken last evening, looking west from this spot.

And you can see all the neighboring houses from here, too. This beautiful purple bouganvilla spills over the wall into the street; you can see it a block away.

So that's day 1 in SMA, 2011. Tomorrow will bring more delights, as every day here does. And I'll relay them. Right now, it's time to go to bed after an exhausting day of doing almost nothing. That'll do it to you, no?