A capital time

A bunch of bananas in the making.

WE RETURNED from a week in Mexico City last Sunday to discover that we had left home in winter and returned in springtime, weather-wise, at least.

We’ve passed thorough 14 winters at the Hacienda and only twice, perhaps thrice, have we enjoyed a winter without one overnight freeze. The 2016-17 season is the latest.

Alas, spring here is no circus, the worst of the seasons. The only positive aspect is that there are no overnight freezes.

Instead there is dust and drab, brown mountains. What passes for heat in these parts happens in springtime. The fact of the matter is that spring is pretty yucky.

Our capital visit was very profitable. After years of waiting, we picked up the deed to the condo. We hired a guy to lay a nice ceramic floor on the service patio. He also improved the drain system for the clothes washer.

We found a great new restaurant nearby. Fact is the entire area is going upscale rapidly. When I first set foot there 15 years ago, it was ugly and industrial, which is why the colonia* is called Nueva Industrial Vallejo.

My arrival, it seems, on most any scene delivers a certain panache. It happened here where we live on the hardscrabble outskirts of our mountaintop town, and it’s also happened in Nueva Industrial Vallejo.

We fled to San Miguel de Allende to escape Carnival. We went to Mexico City for practical matters. But now it’s time to get down to business. Springtime is for renovations.

Our favorite contractor comes today to provide prices for work here at the Hacienda and also at the Downtown Casita.

Due to the stupendous dollar-peso exchange rate over the last couple of years, we’ve done lots of improvements we likely would not have done otherwise.

And that’s where stuff stands at the moment.

Thanks for passing by.

* * * *

* Sort of like a big neighborhood.

Dos vistas, again

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I CALL MY wife a child bride, but hereabouts some people take the phrase more to heart and actually do it.

Walking around the main plaza the other day, I couldn’t help but notice this young mama for two reasons. One, her youth, and two, she was decked out like a banana.

The age of consent in Mexico varies by state, and can be as low as 12. In the State of Nayarit, it’s set at puberty.

Between 12 or puberty and 16, 17 or even 18, you’ve entered a nebulous zone, depending on individual states.

The entire matter appears to be legally muddy or, as Wikipedia phrases it, complex.

It was her attire that made just a black-and-white photo unfair. I wanted both views, and here they are.

color

The winter scalp

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See spouse standing at rear for perspective.

IT’S A YEARLY ritual, the scalping. Sometimes it’s more drastic than other times. I do it personally, the cutting, not the hauling away. I hire help for that.

The gardening situation here on the mountaintop, more than 7,000 feet above the faraway seas, is problematical. Things grow wildly during most of the year.

Then winter comes, sometimes calmly, sometimes not. Last winter was calm. This one is not.

When winter is calm, a minority of them, plants have a two-year span of glee. This is particularly so for the bananas, which are totally out of place here. Till the first freeze last week, they had soared up to 10 or 12 feet with wide trunks to match.

The freeze burned them to a crisp, well, actually, to a brown sag. Luckily, banana trees, no matter their height, are easy to cut. I use a small pruning saw. Though easy to saw, they can weigh a lot, and they come thundering down.

I dodge like Cassius Clay, like a geriatric butterfly.

Years ago, I drove to the tropical town of Uruapan and bought two cute little banana “trees” in cans. I planted one next to the house, and the other by the Alamo Wall. A friend who had lived in Florida said, “bad idea.” Stupidly, I ignored him.

It was like a ghetto household in Detroit. Babies appeared faster than I can count. I transplanted one out next to the street wall, giving me three banana gangs. In time I hired workmen to put cement restraints around the bases.

Now I have lost all patience. As every year after a freeze, I have cut them down, leaving stumps that rejuvenate themselves. But workmen come next week to cover two of the three mobs with cement and stone. I’ve had enough!

Another troublesome plant that also does not belong here, but is beautiful most of the year nonetheless, is the golden datura, which is also easy to cut.

It wilts quickly in a freeze, and I whack it back to its base. Like bananas, it rejuvenates in springtime.

The photo at top should be panoramic to show the pile’s true dimensions. It’s the biggest ever. Tomorrow two guys come with a pickup to haul it away, somewhere.

Two scenes

OneTHESE TWO musicians were part of a group playing in the plaza yesterday. I was struck by the face of one of them.

And it froze Saturday night, as it often does in winter — wish it wouldn’t — delivering a death blow to the banana trees, which will have to be cut down and hauled away.

They will self-resurrect, a mixed blessing. I took the photo below from the upstairs terraza early Sunday. You’ve heard of a smoking gun. This is a smoking umbrella.

steam