Mexican life

Dream from half a century ago

ROOF
Didn’t envision this half a century ago, but here I am.

WHEN I WAS 22 years old, married to the first of three wives, I drew plans for a Mexican-style home I would have liked to have built. I was broke, of course, so there was no way to do it. I thought maybe with cinder blocks it would be possible.

Cinder blocks?

The plans reflected my thoughts of a single-story hacienda (small h, not big H) that was completely enclosed with an open courtyard in the middle.

Nobody in my family had ever lived or aspired to live in Mexico, so where did this architectural dream come from? I didn’t think of living in Mexico either. I simply liked the idea of that type of house. I wanted it there in New Orleans.

I was a serial renter, not buying a home until I was 42 years old, and I bought it in Houston, Texas, not New Orleans. The house was not Spanish-style. It was a Texas ranch house of medium size, not a ranch house on a ranch, of course. Ranch house is a style: single-story, low roof, yard out front and back.

My second ex-wife lives there today, more than three decades later.

But I am living in a Hacienda with a big H. And, like the one I designed half a century ago, I designed this one too. I used graph paper. My child bride assisted with her civil engineering skills, but the design is 95 percent mine.

Perhaps the design would have more closely copied my ideas of 50 years ago except for one thing: I wanted a mountain view, and for that I needed a second story due to the brick wall that surrounds our property, Mexican-style.

So here I am. In the circle of life. What goes around comes around. If you manage to live long enough, stuff happens. And so on.

Maybe I should have been an architect.

* * * *

Color and current events

New Image
With luck, we’ll start burying utility cables soon, but it’s still pretty.

My child bride is abandoning me today, heading to Querétaro by bus for a belated Baptism and 4th birthday party for a niece named Sophie. I’ll be batching it here until Sunday evening. It will be lonely but quiet.

For years I tried to participate in these sorts of family activities, but I’ve given up. I’m not cut out for endless chitchat and peals of hysterical laughter.

Thursday afternoon I was taking a leisurely stroll alone down a back street of downtown, thinking of the above, when I noticed the scene in the photo. I had my camera. Our mountaintop town is changing rapidly.

I do not believe most, or even any, of those houses up there existed when I moved here over 17 years ago. And the city recently began a major renovation of streets and sidewalks around the main plaza. It will take months, if not years, to finish but we will be so pretty when it’s completed. The downside is that it likely will attract more Gringos.

I prefer they stay put in San Miguel de Allende, being all artsy-like.

Mexican life

Strolling the streets like a Gachupín

IT WAS LATE afternoon on Sunday. We were walking the block and a half from the Hacienda to the barrio plaza.

I was wearing saggy, gray sweatpants, a newer, gray sweatshirt, a gray, wool beebop cap and, incongruously, tan loafers by Dockers.

You look like a Gachupín, said my child bride in español, using the derogatory Mexican term for a Spaniard. Maybe I did.

She is not fond of Spaniards, a sentiment shared by many Mexicans.

It’s similar to how Social Justice Warriors feel about Chris Columbus and the crews of the Niña, Pinta and Santa Maria, hauling their Spanish privilege.

My child bride studied six months in Spain in the middle ’90s. She loved the food but concluded that Spaniards, for the most part, are sangrones. Grumps and arrogant. Her favorite dishes were paella and fabada Asturiana.

She also went to a bullfight in Madrid, more to watch the people than the bulls. It wasn’t until a decade later than I attended my first bullfight. I went with her in Mexico City at the enormous Plaza México.

In Gachupín mode, I continued with her to the plaza where we sat on a steel bench facing the ancient church. I had my Canon, so I shot the video. Were it not for the minivan the scene might have been filmed a century ago.

The church — 16th Century, I’m guessing — is undergoing renovation.

You can’t see it here because they started on the roof. Contributions were solicited from neighborhood residents months back, and we ponied up 1,000 pesos even though we never use the church, and I’m no Catholic.

The music was coming from behind us on the far side of the plaza. Mexicans usually get dressed up on Sundays and walk around their plazas, but the people in our hardscrabble barrio don’t uphold that tradition.

After sitting half an hour, we moseyed home and watched a movie on Netflix. I traded my Gachupín gear for pajamas that were not gray.

 

Mexican life

Lazy Sunday

colorcasa

WE DECIDED to veg out on Sunday. We often do that.

After driving downtown for a restaurant meal at Mexican lunch time, 2 o’clock, we returned about 3:30, put on our jammies, and started a movie on Netflix.

After an hour, however, we got antsy, so we paused the movie (City of Tiny Lights, quite good), got dressed again and headed out the gate for a neighborhood stroll.

I carried the camera.

Generally preferring black & white photography, I made an exception for the top shot because it’s all about color.

It’s a relatively new house near us that was constructed about two years ago. It’s the only casa in the barrio that gives us competition in the color category. But let’s continue on.

mural1

This is a mural right off the plaza. It’s pretty new too. The fellow looking over the mountains is Lázaro Cárdenas, president of Mexico in the late 1930s, and the guy responsible for nationalizing the oil industry, a mistake.

boys

We sat on a steel bench on the plaza and watched people. There weren’t many people out and about, but these two boys were enjoying non-electronic toys.

trio

These ladies were sitting outside a small store.

mural2

This wall facing the plaza is directly next to the 16th Century church. That’s church property behind the wall. Some young folks painted this stuff a few months ago. It includes Pancho Villa and the obligatory Ché Guevara.

I’ve thought about coming down here one night and blotting Ché out, but I likely will never get around to it.

Pancho Villa was no prize either.

door

Before we headed back to the Hacienda, I entered an open building, turned around, and took this photo. I like open-door photos. The entryway gave access to an interior courtyard where local ladies cook and sell grub on Sundays.

Over open fires.

I took about 25 shots total, but I didn’t want to test your patience as most people would do. These are my favorites.

Mexican life

Card from Mexico

bedroom

THERE I WAS, sitting on the green equipal loveseat with my back to the window where morning sunlight was pouring in. My child bride had just made up the bed and departed from the bedroom, leaving me alone.

Well, that looks nice, I said to myself, so I shot a photo.

Another postcard from Mexico.