Edición dominical

‘Tis the season to light a fire

NORTHERN MEXICO is under snow today. Thank the Goddess that has not happened here in the nation’s middle. It’s never snowed since I’ve lived here, but a couple of years ago snow was visible atop the distant mountains.

It has been unseasonably cold for the first half of December, so I fired up the fireplace today. Some winters I never fire it up, mostly because it’s work and also because it does virtually nothing to heat the living room due to its large size and high ceiling, wood beams and all.

So it’s mostly a fun thing. Looks nice, and you can heat your fanny.

The music you hear is from a tape I bought at Starbucks in Atlanta many years ago. Fa-la-la! Boughs of holly. And Kalamazoo!

Edición dominical

Down the Magic Dirt Road

MAGIC DIRT: the idea that geographical location will automatically transform the behavior of an individual or group of people.

This concept comes to us from Theodore Beale who writes under the name of  Vox Day. I’m reading a book of his that’s titled SJWs Always Double Down: Anticipating the Thought Police.

SJW stands for Social Justice Warrior, those ham-fisted, left-wing fanatics who enforce Political Correctness in the timorous world of white people.

But SJWs are not the focus today. Magic Dirt is. I happened upon this phrase and concept of Beale’s this week and, coincidentally, as if by magic, I had been thinking about something very similar lately.

Beale was born in Boston and now, apparently, lives in northern Italy upon his Magic Dirt. I was born in Atlanta and now, totally, live in the high mountains of Middle Mexico upon my Magic Dirt. We apparently both noticed the phenomenon, but he’s the one who stuck a name on it, not me.

Both Beale and I moved from American dirt to Latino dirt. I think that’s important. I believe that one who moves from American dirt to, say, Canadian or Australian dirt would likely not notice a great difference in dirt quality, its odor, consistency and color.

But does one change markedly on moving to another nation? I think it depends. I have, but I’m not sure to what extent, but it’s noticeable to me.

Let’s focus on moving to Mexico. There are no adjoining nations on earth that are so different, so if you really want a change, just fly over the Rio Bravo. I have long described Mexican life as akin to living in Alice’s Wonderland.

Cats with big smiles and no bodies that live in trees.

I’m sure the degree of change, the effect of the Magic Dirt, depends on how you live here and how often you go back where you came from. It also depends on if you know the language. It depends on the people you hang out with. If you marry into a Mexican family, that’s about as tight as a foreigner can get.

You’ve slipped through a barely open door. If you’re not in the Mexican family, you’re an eternal outsider, an intruder. You do get the smiles.

A Mexican’s face is a mask, and so is his smile.

— Octavio Paz.

If one heads back over the northern border regularly. If you are married to another foreigner. If you do not speak Spanish. These and other elements will affect the effect of the Magic Dirt upon your mind, heart and soul.

How do you know the Magic Dirt is below your fingernails?

One good indication is that the wackiness — often sheer lunacy — of Mexican life ceases to annoy you, or at least to a far lesser degree.

If you wake up due to the 6 a.m. explosions on the nearby plaza but go directly and easily back to sleep, that’s Magic Dirt. If people explain an issue by citing something totally illogical, and you nod or shrug, that’s Magic Dirt.

Walking daily over Magic Dirt can be unsettling, or it can start to feel normal. It depends on the individual, one supposes. And time.

Edición dominical

Two days with a baby

paula

PAULA ARRIVED Friday evening. She brought Margarita with her.

Margarita, 23, is her mother, the daughter of one of my child bride’s many siblings, the sister who lives in the state capital.

Paula, being just eight months old, had to bring her mother along for the ride because Paula does not do much without assistance.

I’m not really a baby sort of guy. They make lots of noise and generally disregard all rules of hygiene and proper behavior. They think the universe revolves around them. Everyone knows it revolves around me.

I’m so not a baby sort of guy that I got a vasectomy when I was just 24.

But Paula is better than most babies, and has created little inconvenience. She does not cry. She does not howl. I’ve seen no evidence of poop or pee since she arrived, though I suspect we must credit her mother for that. Paula minds her own business, but your company is always met with a smile.

If you’re gonna have a baby in your house, invite Paula. She behaves herself far better than your run-of-the-mill kid, and she grins a lot. She is a good-humored child. I even held her a time or two, and it wasn’t that bad.

As I write this Sunday morning, we are preparing to drive to the state capital for shopping, eating at a restaurant and hauling Paula (and her mother) home to their small apartment. The two of them enjoyed a couple of nights at the Hacienda, and I rather enjoyed it too.

Edición dominical

Mexico City lives!

THERE WE WERE, walking down the sidewalk in the middle of the leafy Calle Amsterdam last Tuesday in the trendy Colónia Roma, one of the worst-hit, we had read, areas of Mexico City during September’s killer quake.

We did not see any damage whatsoever.

Quake? What quake?

Not only that, we didn’t spot any earthquake damage at all during the four days we spent in the nation’s chaotic capital.

We go to Mexico City twice a year to air out our small condo and pay a few bills we can’t pay online. About the only thing left in that category is the security service, listless guys who hang out at the entrance to our “gated community.”

This condo, one might recall, is where my child bride lived when we met during a visit she made in 2001 to my mountaintop town. The rest, as they say, is history.

She worked as a civil engineer for the federal highway department, and the “gated community,” a series of five-story buildings, each with 10 apartments, was constructed specifically for, and sold to, employees of the highway department.

Deed at last!

We paid off our unit years ago but only received the deed last Spring. Mexican bureaucracy moves at its own laughable pace.

Aside from airing out the place and paying the security service, we didn’t do much. Washed sheets and towels from the previous visit and hit a few dining spots, our favorites being Rock N’ Burger, a food truck across the street, and a new restaurant a short taxi ride away that serves the best caldo de gallina on Earth.

The caldo de gallina was served at a restaurant named La Jefa. I wrote a review for TripAdvisor, but since the eight-month-old restaurant had never been reviewed, it has not yet appeared on that travel website.

We found La Jefa by sheer luck, walking down the street.

Caldo explained

FYI: Caldo de gallina is chicken soup, but it’s better than your mama’s chicken soup.* It comes with garbanzo beans, rice, and other ingredients, depending on the eatery in question. La Jefa serves a knockout caldo de gallina.

I view our Mexico City digs only as an investment for my wife. It’s worth a good bit more now than when she signed the mortgage in 1997. We spotted a For Rent sign on one of the identical apartments, so we called to inquire.

They were asking 6,000 pesos monthly, which surprised us, favorably. We may rent it in the future, especially when I cannot walk up the four floors due to decrepitude. That day, however, has yet to arrive. I still bound up like a teenager.

Sardine can

The two-bedroom condo is small, so small that it would fit, literally, inside the living room here at the Hacienda. This makes it easy to tidy up. It gives me claustrophobia at times. However, entire families of four or more, plus dogs, live in some of the adjoining, identical units. Incredible.

lr

Here’s the living room. We sit here evenings and watch DVD movies and, like back at the Hacienda, dine on salads made by me.

I remember well the first time I set hoof in this place back in 2001. She had invited me to visit. The furnishings and wall colors were entirely different, but I recall the visit fondly.

Memories

I took this photo that first night while she was in the kitchen fixing something for supper. It’s one of my favorite shots, and she hasn’t changed much in the last 16 years.

Some women age very well.

* * * *

* Unless your mama’s Mexican.