Odds and ends


As I descend the stairwell just after dawn each day with English muffins or bagels or perhaps a warm croissantito on my mind, I often am crooning Oh, What a Beautiful Morning because it usually is.

Sunny, foggy, rainy or cloudy, it does not matter. I feel good.

After eating an English muffin or bagel or perhaps a warm croissantito, the first task each day is to tidy up. This chore can be short and sweet, or it can be extensive. Naturally, being shiftless, I prefer the former.

The minimum is to shake the cushions on the terraza rockers, sweep the terraza, clean the birdbath, open the yard umbrella, and wipe the glass top of the table beneath the umbrella. The chairs too. During this process I often can admire passing flocks of white egrets, or a humingbird or two.

* * * *

We went to Cuba for our anniversary last April, and it’s about time to plan another anniversary trip. We don’t travel much. We haven’t been in the United States since the Bush Jr. administration. And that won’t change next year.

In spite of having lived in Mexico for a long time, I have seen little of the country. What I have seen has mostly been a result of driving (a) to Texas, seven hours, or (b) to our nation’s capital, five hours, or (c) to the beach, three hours.

All three are in different directions.

odds__endsThe nation outside those routes has pretty much eluded me, so we’ve decided to do anniversaries within our border for the foreseeable future.

First, we considered Palenque for 2013. Then, we looked at San Cristobal de las Casas. Both are in the troubled, southern State of Chiapas, home of self-promoting Subcomandante Marcos of Zapatista fame.

Then our attention turned to Mazatlán on the Pacific coast. All of those places are great, I am told. Actually, I have been to Palenque and Mazatlán, but both long ago before I moved over the Rio Bravo.

But we have, it seems, settled on the city of Oaxaca. My child bride, who has been in every state save Quintana Roo due to her 14 years as a government functionary, says I will enjoy Oaxaca. We will bus to the nation’s capital, and either bus or fly down to Oaxaca. Likely fly down and bus back.

More to come on that after it happens in March or April. Anything will be better than the grim Communist island of Cuba. Few of those poor people sing Oh, What a Beautiful Morning while descending the staircase toward warm croissantitos and orange marmalade, a freaking pity.

* * * *

This afternoon we will be on the plaza downtown selling the best pastries you’ll find in these parts. Do come and purchase, raising my child bride’s spirits.

18 thoughts on “Odds and ends”

  1. Felipe,

    One place we fell in love with on our l-o-n-g drive down through Mexico was Zacatecas. It was charming and had many many cool things to see. If you haven’t been there in a while I highly recommend it.



    1. Mike: Zacatecas is my wife’s favorite Mexican town, and she’s seen most of them. She and I drove up there once, likely about 2004, and stayed a few days. I liked it. It was one of the rare exceptions to our three-route routine.

      Zacatecas has a very Spanish, as opposed to Mexican, air about it. We briefly considered living there temporarily for about a year while renting out our home here, but the folks who were going to rent the Hacienda, friends of ours, changed their minds at the last moment, and we kind of dropped the entire idea.

      Zacatecas is the second-highest major city in Mexico after Toluca. The temperatures can be extreme. It gets very hot in the summer and very cold in the winter.

      My wife mentions going back there now and then, and maybe we will, but not for our anniversary.


  2. During my years in Mexico, I went to Oaxaca many times, and once to San Cristobal (referred to as las Casas by cool people). Many places of interest in Oaxaca and the surrounds, and also in San Cristobal, but the latter is more similar to (where you live) with cooler temps and pine forests. It also has a lot of the smallest people I’ve ever seen, and their roughly woven skirts and vests are just part of their colourful style. I have many fond memories of fantastic sights there.

    I think that if you manage to get to Oaxaca between the endless teachers’ strikes when they destroy one of the most beautiful Zocalos in the world, you will really enjoy it.


    1. Kris: With luck, the so-called teachers will be in their houses plotting their endless revolution for the relatively brief time we will be there. I’ll keep my fingers crossed. And we will get to Las Casas (see, I’m cool) in the future, I’m sure.

      By the way, I edited out your reference to my town because I never mention here where I am specifically. Just part of the wacky Moon mystery.


      1. I just remembered that one of the simple pleasures, and often those are the best ones, that we found in Oaxaca was garlic soup. Still love it!


  3. Diane and I will be in Oaxaca again this winter. We will be there for a month ending in early March. It is a wonderful city and the small craft villages in the valley of Oaxaca are fun to visit. It is one long drive from Minnesota but worth the effort. Maybe our paths will cross this year.



    1. Bruce: I cannot even imagine driving that far. My wife and I drove from here to Atlanta on two occasions long ago, and I would not want to repeat it, even though we really dragged it out with two- or three-day stopovers in Houston and New Orleans.

      We likely will not cross paths down there because I cannot imagine we will be there before early March.


  4. From our experience San Cristobal de las Casas is much less “troubled” than our beloved Pátzcuaro.

    We also enjoyed Zacatecas — the mine tour very interesting. My wife has muchas primas there, so that added to our experience. Family confirmed that it is very cold and even icy in winter. The town had the feel of 1890 and more Spanish like you said. I missed the influence of the indigenous population of Pátzcuaro and San Cristobal — one of the major reasons we chose Pátzcuaro.

    The city of Oaxaca was one of my least favorites. Felt gritty to me where Morela has always felt fresher and cleaner. I was looking for a San Miguel or Pátzcuaro, so I arrived with my uninformed preconceptions. Plus an unpleasant arrival experience at their airport did not help. Food was very good and the ruins very interesting. I’m looking forward to your review of the city.


    1. Patzman: Your mention of the mine tour in Zacatecas reminds me of something funny. We too went on the tour. As I walked through the mine with my wife, an hour or more if I recall correctly, I was thinking that it sure was a dark mine. As we approached the exit, and I saw sunlight, I reached into my shirt pocket to take out my sunglasses, switching from my regular glasses. I discovered that I had been wearing my sunglasses through the entire mine tour. My wife was at my side, and had said nothing to me about it. And she had noticed! I still razz her about it.


  5. Oaxaca and Pátzcuaro are my favorite Mexican cities. San Miguel de Allende can be nice for a couple of days.

    My last trip to Oaxaca was with my Querétaro girlfriend. She soon went back to Querétaro, and I happily stayed in Oaxaca.


    1. Joe: If San Miguel holds your interest for a couple of days, you’re a more patient man than I am. Other than great restaurants that are hard to find elsewhere, I have absolutely lost interest in the place. Plus, I find the huge Gringo presence unsettling.

      Hope you’ve found another girlfriend.


      1. My future wife took me to Mexico in 1995 to Cuernavaca to show me where she was raised. We stayed at Las Mañanitas. Oh my! The peso was recently devalued. What a treat. Then to San Miguel. We went on the house tour. I told her we would retire in Mexico but not here. Lovely town but way too Gringo for us. Personal taste as it works for many. Do miss the restaurants. Will visit again soon.


  6. Years ago in Mexico, when someone looked like a hippie, they were told, you must be going shrooming in Oaxaca. I guess it is also famous for cheese, mole, grasshoppers and other fine cuisine. I’ve been to Chiapas, but never to Oaxaca.


    1. Andres: Mushrooms are good. I recommend them for personal development. Mole is always tasty. I like it. Cheese is iffy for the fat content. I wouldn’t eat grasshoppers, but my wife has. She’ll try just about anything.


  7. I have many friends here that are from Oaxaca. The photos they have shown me and the way they lovingly describe it make me want to go.

    But then again, they are here — illegally. The grass is always greener…


    1. Ray: Tell your friends that you know full well that a decent living can be made in Mexico, which is true, then call immigration, and have them all tossed over the border. That’s my recommendation. But I know you will not do that. Oh, well.


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