Water & chocolate

AFTER A FIVE-DAY, unusual dry spell here last week, it’s raining again, which is what the Goddess intends for our neck of the woods through all of September.

And, as usual too, I headed downtown yesterday afternoon for a café Americano negro, which I normally get free at my sister-in-law’s coffee shop. But she closed yesterday to rest.

Seems the Independence Day festivities over the weekend pooped her out. She had to sit with her cigarettes and Coke while watching the cash register fill with tourist pesos.

Darn near did her in.

So I walked to another side of the plaza and sat at a different coffee shop where I had to pay. I ordered hot chocolate. It started to rain. I grabbed my camera and panned around.

You might have heard of our latest earthquake. It did quite a bit of damage in Mexico City, more than the previous one a couple of weeks ago. When it struck yesterday we were in a supermarket in the nearby capital of our state.

I was walking down an aisle, and about five little cartons of something fell off the shelf directly in my path. I had felt nothing, but the store alarm went off, and we had to stand in the parking lot about five minutes.

Then we went back in and finished shopping. It was only later that we learned of the extensive damage and deaths in Mexico City. We had initially planned on making our twice-yearly visit to our condo there the first week of this month.

That was when the last quake struck. It was centered far away in the Pacific and didn’t do much damage, if any, in Mexico City. But our neighbors emailed us it was quite a jolt.

We rescheduled the trip for the first week of October, but now I’m a bit concerned. Gotta do it, however. We’re in the northern part of Mexico City, and our building suffered no damage yesterday. Bet it scared the neighbors, however.

Would have scared us too had we been there. Our apartment is on the fourth floor of a five-story building.

Holiday shots

New Image
The smoker.

THE MASS OF people who crowd our usually tranquil main plaza downtown on the evening of September 15 and all day on September 16 for Mexican independence festivities provide excellent photo opportunities.

On one side of the plaza, the scene is the same every year. A band plays loud music while men — and the occasional woman — sit atop dancing horses. The guys are usually plowed, but the horses don’t appear to care.

The fellow above caught my attention. He appeared sober, did not have a beer can in his hand, but he was smoking. Took me about 10 shots before I got this one.

He and his horse were all over the place. Dancing fools.

screamer
The Screamer.

Meet The Screamer. That’s what I call him. He recently reappeared here in town after an absence of a couple of years. I don’t know where he went, but he’s back.

I don’t know his name. I just call him The Screamer because that’s what he does. He’s a vendor who walks the sidewalks with the basket of candies he’s holding. And, between spells of silence, he screams his bloody head off.

You can hear him blocks away.

I don’t mean that he’s hawking his candy loudly. He’s just plain screaming. Clearly, there is something seriously wrong with him. His eyes are crossed, and his fingers are twisted.

He sounds dangerous, but I do not think he is. My child bride, her sister and I were sitting at a sidewalk table a couple of days ago when he approached and offered his wares. He does not speak well. My wife inquired about prices, and he managed to say something we did not clearly understand.

My wife gave him 10 pesos (about 55 cents), and he handed over four or five of the candies. She was only doing it to help him, so she tried to give all but one back to him, but he wouldn’t have it. He insisted on leaving the small pile.

I interpret that to mean he has his pride.

He didn’t bellow during the sale. I was grateful for that.

* * * *

(Note: To view almost all of Felipe’s Fabulous Fotos, just click right here. You will not be disappointed.)

The duet

FOR MANY years, I’ve been singing that promoting multiculturalism is a recipe for disaster. The keyword is promoting. Putting it on a pedestal.

Nobody has ever paid me a dime’s worth of attention. Nobody has ever flatly agreed that I recall. I get either disagreement or, far more often, stony silence.

It’s one of those topics I occasionally address here that sends most everyone scurrying for the nearest exit.

Saying cultural diversity is bad is akin nowadays to saying Jews were good in 1930s Germany. You simply did not say it. It was/is verboten. Saying diversity is bad today, like saying Jews were good in 1930s Germany, can lead to ostracism, loss of job and murder. This is not hyperbole.

Virtually everyone now says they embrace diversity. Whether they actually do or not is another matter.

Individuals, corporations, universities, you name it. They all will tell you they just love diversity to death.

I’m referring to the Western world. You can see diss diversity in other areas of the world without fear because most of the world understands the value of family and nation.

A cyber-amigo put a smile on my face yesterday by emailing me an article published by the Hoover Institution.

Here’s a key sentence: History offers only a few success stories when it comes to diversity.

More often than not over the centuries, multiculturalism has led to mayhem and murder. I feel vindicated somewhat.

I am not singing a solo anymore. I’m part of a duet.

New ImageThe exit is over to your right.

I left it unlocked for you.

Three dry days

mount

IT’S GONE three consecutive days without rain here, and that’s mighty odd in mid-September. Has the rainy season ended early this year? I rather doubt it.

Most afternoons, after doing lunch at home, I go downtown to enjoy a nice café Americano negro with my Kindle while simultaneously admiring the beautiful babes who walk by. My child bride goes to, but she drives the Nissan because she does different things and comes home later than I do.

It’s not ecological. But I don’t care.

And I usually have my camera. Yesterday I spotted something I’d never noticed before in all the years I’ve walked by the same spot. The mountain in the mist behind the buildings in the top photo. How could I have overlooked that?

On arriving home later, getting out of the Honda, I shot the two photos below for no better reason than the scenes caught my eye, especially the wildly flowering aloe vera bush.

It does this every year. Lasts for a couple of months.

And the final photo shows my white roses. I generally roll my eyeballs at people who post flower photos on blogs because if you want to see flower photos, just do an internet image search, and there are thousands. Take your pick.

No matter. Here they are anyway.

I was inexplicably in a dark mood when I returned home, so maybe I subconsciously thought that snapping the flowers would boost my humor. I don’t think it worked.

I wonder if it will rain today. Cool things off.

vera
The tallest aloe vera blooms are about eight feet high.
rose
My measly white roses.

Nearing the end

gas
Our very large propane tank.
heater
The solar heater is dicey, but it can work. It’s our second. The first was useless.

OUR PROPANE tank is almost empty.

Normally, the response is to phone the gas company, and they send a tanker truck, usually the same day, and refill it.

But we have a problem. There’s a gizmo that sits inside our tank, and it tells us, via a gauge outside, the level of the propane. That gizmo has gone on vacation!

This happened almost two years ago.

Since then, the gizmo decided to start working again, so it’s been filled a time or two. A fill-up lasts almost six months. But now it’s not working again. Our plumber says the gizmo cannot be changed unless the tank is empty.

If you knock on it with your knuckles, you get an empty sound, but there remains some gas in there because the stove and water heater are still functioning fine.

When the gas runs out, we’ll call the plumber pronto. Whether he comes pronto is another matter.

You know how we Mexicans are.

Both our stove and water heater rely on gas.

We have a second water heater — solar-powered — on the roof. However, it’s temperamental. Sometimes the water is blazing hot, sometimes not, sometimes tepid.

The kitchen stove is considerably less of a problem because we have another stove out in the pastry workshop, and it’s on a different gas tank.

And if the solar water heater totally fails, we can always drive the 15 minutes to our Downtown Casita, which is currently unoccupied, to take showers.

A few months ago, our plumber told us that the measuring gizmo inside the tank almost never malfunctions. He’d never known of it to happen. Lucky us.

* * * *

(Note: We have more gas tanks, water tanks and pumps than you can shake a stick at. I could be a survivalist kook.)

The arrival

vista
The view that changed my life.

I’M FOND OF noting milestones.

I just missed an anniversary, but only by three days. My arrival here on the mountaintop on September 10, 2000. I was not entirely new to Mexico, but I was quite green.

I’d lived seven months at a lower altitude, 40 minutes away in the state capital. Four of those seven months had been dedicated to attending a language school because when I got off the plane in Guadalajara I didn’t speak Spanish.

I was a language ignoramus.

My decision to move from the state capital up here was made while sitting at a coffee shop and looking in the direction shown in the photo. I looked at that view and told myself, I’m gonna move here. And I did. Lickety-split.

My first challenge was to find a furnished place to rent. While my town now is chockablock with real-estate agencies and lots of furnished rentals, there was not even one real-estate agency in 2000. I knew no one here, and I had no idea where to start. I was alone, and my Spanish was dicey.

Someone online pointed me to an old Gringo named Gray who’d moved here after the Second World War.  He had married an indigenous woman, and they had multiplied.

Gray had some furnished rentals that catered mostly to the sparse Gringo crowd. I moved into a two-story house on a main drag with furniture that aspired to the junk heap.

The first thing I did was buy a new mattress and sheets. The second thing was to buy an equipal love seat and matching chair. The store here neglected to inform me that the set would be made in and shipped from Guadalajara.

I got it about four months later.

I lived in that rental for two-and-a-half years. My child bride was there the final year while we constructed the Hacienda.

It wasn’t a bad place if one didn’t cringe at the hordes of mice during the rainy season or the two times I found dead rats in the toilet. They had come up from below, and I flushed them back to where they came from.

And there was the matter of the house abutting a open sewer/creek that provided a notable fragrance during the dry months. And the lights went out a lot.

It was an interesting home along the lines of the Chinese curse, May you live in interesting times.

We were elated when we moved into the Hacienda in May of 2003. It’s been a great 17 years here at altitude. The changes are considerable. Plenty of rentals available now. With rats or without. Ten times the number of Gringos. Some people regard that positively. I’m not one of those people.

But I’m glad I sat at that coffee house that long-ago afternoon, gazing up the street. It was a decisive moment.

The photo’s from yesterday. It hasn’t changed much.

Dental adventures

dentist
My child bride gets a root canal.

AS I’VE WRITTEN lately, we’ve been having dental adventures.

The most recent report was just a few days ago in the Good and Bad. And, previous to that, there was A Dental Day. I recently wound up the process of getting a tooth implant, the first of my life, and my child bride will soon start on four implants.

On Monday we dealt with an unrelated problem, one which required a root canal for her. Our regular dentist in the state capital referred us to a dental surgeon, the talented young woman shown in the photo.

Her given name is Nayelli.

While the procedure was under way, I watched from a comfy sofa in the corner, a nice touch you’d be hard pressed to find above the Rio Bravo. I was sipping a strawberry milk shake I’d purchased just down the street.

I tried not to make slurping sounds.

The root canal took less than 45 minutes, and my child bride’s now set to start the implants in two weeks.

The adventures continue.

Falling from heaven

kite

KITES FALL into our yard on a fairly regular basis. They’re interesting glimpses into the culture.

This one fell yesterday. It is, as are they always, homemade.  Three cross-sticks to which is attached plastic from a grocery store bag. In this case, Merza, a local chain. A different color bag, darker, provides strips for the tail. At the end of the tail is tied a couple of leaves to provide some weight and stability.

What you cannot see because I’d already balled it up and tossed it into the trash can is the string. As a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, these homemade kites always have the same weak link, the string, which is sewing thread.

Sewing thread is used, I imagine, for two reasons: It is very light, and if these super-light kites are to soar, light string is required. Also, sewing thread is cheap.

This is a low-budget operation.

Alas, long lengths of sewing thread snap easily at altitude, and the kites fall, often into our yard.

Kids still make their own kites in Mexico. I wish I could return these carefully constructed toys to their owners, but there’s no way to know where they are.

Good and bad

sunrise

WITH SO MUCH bad-weather news happening, I thought it would be uplifting to show good weather. This is a photo taken from our upstairs terraza … a few years ago.

There is other good news. Not weather, dental.

Since I recently had a tooth implant inserted in my upper jaw, we revisited the mouth of my child bride. When we met in 2001, her dental history was typical of Mexicans. When a tooth problem appears, you don’t fix it, you remove it.

Yeah, I know. Incredible.

At 41, she had removed five. All were in the back and not visible when she smiled. The situation,  however, created a problem later due to the spaces, so she got two bridges, also not readily apparent, but bridges are a bother, or so I’m told.

So she’ll be getting implants too, four not five. The dentist said she could easily ignore one at the very back. She begins the process in a couple of weeks, and it will take, as mine did, three months total. This will cost a bit over $5,000 U.S.

We’ll pay cash. Donations accepted via PayPal.

I wonder what four implants would cost above the border. Lots more, I am sure. Likely $5,000 each.

* * * *

Bad news

Now the bad news, also in the medical category.

Recently, I had a sharp pain in my left heel whenever I walked. When I was not walking, I felt nothing.

I visited a clinic here, a hospital actually, that’s part of a church complex. I’ve known two people who died in the clinic, but it’s a good option if you’re in a rush, and it’s cheap.

But that’s not the reason I went. I went because my heel was hurting, and my usual doctor wasn’t available.

The clinic’s right off the main plaza downtown. The doctor consultation was $4. He immediately guessed the problem correctly. Osteoporosis! But I am a poster boy for not having osteoporosis in all categories save one: I’m old.

I am not overweight. I do not drink. I do not smoke. I eat healthily, a salad a day and better. I take calcium tablets. And I’m a guy. Mostly, it’s women who get osteoporosis.

I have a girly affliction!

The Goddess has a wicked sense of humor.

To confirm his guess, the doctor pointed me over thataway to get a couple of X-rays of my foot. Cost of the x-rays: $22. That was done immediately while the doctor sat and waited.

Really.

Seems part of the bone in my heel went elsewhere, leaving a little peak that dug into my heel pad on walking.

The doctor prescribed an anti-inflammatory gel plus pills that do much the same.

He told me to get a glass bottle and rub it sideways over the peak twice daily to make it gradually less pointy.

I have done this now for two days, and it’s really helped. I did my daily exercise walk around the neighborhood plaza yesterday with no problem.

And I’m doubling my daily dose of calcium.

Getting old is a bitch.

* * * *

(Update: Online research, plus having my X-rays on hand, has convinced me that my problem is not osteoporosis but a heel spur, a much nicer diagnosis. Tip of the sombrero to Al Lanier for pointing me toward heel spurs in his comment below. This means the clinic doc misdiagnosed. The good news is that treatment for the two separate conditions is basically identical.)

Fact, Fiction and Opinion Stirred in an Odd Pot

%d bloggers like this: