Grape leaves in Guanajuato

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The bar in the Teatro Juarez where Porfirio Díaz once imbibed. Set ’em up, José.

WE RETURNED from Guanajuato yesterday evening. We fled there Saturday to escape Carnival in our hardscrabble barrio where the natives go berserk.

It’s so bad during Carnival — also called Mardi Gras elsewhere — that a high, chicken-wire fence is erected around parts of our neighborhood plaza to keep drunks corralled.

Chicken wire. So we hightail it out of town.

Though Guanajuato is only about three hours away from our Hacienda, it was just my fourth visit, and the first in over a decade. My initial visit was in the mid-1980s with my second ex-wife. We made the obligatory trip to see the mummies who were stacked up against the walls in a carefree manner. Absolutely lovely.

Flash forward about two decades, which was my 2002 honeymoon. I returned to the mummies, but the exhibit had been sanitized. The corpses were behind climate-controlled glass cases. Most of the grotesquery had been eliminated. Damn shame.

We did not revisit the mummies during this trip.

This week we stayed in a great hotel directly downtown because we did not drive the Honda. Driving in the middle of Guanajuato is a nightmare, which is why I had not visited in a long time. The streets are narrow, bend all over the place and often vanish into ancient, underground tunnels. So we traveled by bus.

Visit highlights included dining at a Vietnamese restaurant, something that cannot be found even in our nearby capital city. I love pho. There was also an Arabic restaurant where we enjoyed stuffed grape leaves, pita bread and hummus! Yum.

Guanajuato is hyper-touristy, very different from my initial visit in the 1980s. Especially on Sunday, I felt like I was in Venice, Italy, due to the horrendous mobs of people. It improved on Monday and Tuesday, but not all that much.

It’s a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there, even for Vietnamese pho and stuffed, Mohammedan grape leaves. It’s good to be home again.

Some of the chicken wire is still up, but the drunks have been carted away.

Morgue, jail, home. Who knows?

Ms. bones
In case you missed them at the mummy museum.
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Guanajuato from on high. In color, of course.

Google tofu boy calls 911

I’M A DEVOTED FOE of Google even though it’s hard to avoid online. I have a Gmail address which long was my primary, but I don’t use it anymore though I still have a Google account. It’s very difficult not to have a Google account.

If you don’t have a Google account, you’re cutting off your nose to spite your face. Alas, Google owns YouTube, one of the most interesting, fun and informative corners of the World Wide Web. I love YouTube. If anything has ever been filmed, it’s likely on YouTube.

I never say I’m Googling anything. I do “online searches,” and I use the oddly named DuckDuckGo search engine. It’s very good and not sneaky.

The folks who run Google are the sort of people who are ruining Western Civilization. The same kind of people run Facebook and Twitter, and since one can easily live without those two, I do not have accounts with them anymore. I don’t want to be an enabler.

Enjoy the video even though it’s on Google’s YouTube. Sigh.

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As I write this late Wednesday afternoon, it’s dark overhead and there are lightning flashes. This should not be happening in March which is the middle of the dry season on the mountaintop. Must be that global warming we hear about, eh?

Does global warming cause unseasonable rain? Lord knows. Ask Al Gore.

Why didn’t it storm yesterday, the last and most riotous day of Carnival in my hardscrabble neighborhood? Maybe it would have canceled the ear-splitting concert we endured last night till 3 a.m. Even my earplugs did not fully suppress the godawful racket.

Living in Mexico is not always a sack of tacos.

* * * *

(You may notice that I’ve reverted to a previous look for The Moon. And back are the wise quotes down the right-side column plus links to all manner of fascinating stuff. The same material was available in the last “look,” but it was hidden behind a Menu button. Who bothers to mess with that? Darn few. That’s who.)

Let the good times roll!

carnival
Well, not so much in this photo, taken early today, but just you wait!

IT’S MARDI GRAS weekend or, as it’s called in my hardscrabble barrio, el Carnaval.

I’m an old hand at Carnival, Mardi Gras, whatever you want to call it, due to living in New Orleans for 18 years. You want Carnival, go to New Orleans. There is nowhere else like it, even in Rio where, I’ve been told by a relative who went there, the hoopla is confined to a few square blocks. In New Orleans, it’s a citywide riot.

I would love to experience a New Orleans Mardi Gras one more time, but I doubt that will happen, so I’m left with drunken memories.

Likely would be less fun sober anyway, eh?

Here on the mountaintop, no neighborhood embraces Carnaval more enthusiastically than my hardscrabble barrio. Lucky me.

The banners over streets went up yesterday. The first bone-rattling concert will take place tonight. Then another tomorrow night. Then another Monday night. Then another Tuesday night. And at least once that I recall there was yet another on Wednesday night, a pure sacrilege.

That’s Ash Wednesday, for crissakes! Get a grip.

But when a Mexican faces a choice between the Virgin Mary, the Vatican and a fiesta, the fiesta will often win out. We do love our parties and the incredible racket that goes with them.

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Mardi Gras 1966 in New Orleans with my first wife who was pregnant. I was 21, and she had just turned 20.

Here at the Hacienda we will sleep with silicone earplugs nightly through Tuesday, perhaps even Wednesday if they cannot apply the brakes.

Why don’t we leave town till Wednesday? I stupidly accepted a reservation at our Downtown Casita months ago before realizing the significance of the dates. They arrive Sunday. We’re trapped. I will not make that mistake next year.

Were I still a drinking man, perhaps I would enjoy the festivities, but I’m not, so I don’t. Feel my pain.

Doing time in the State of Guanajuato

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In the jail of Dolores Hidalgo, State of Guanajuato

WHEN LAST we spoke, the Hacienda Duo was hightailing it out of our hardscrabble neighborhood due to the approach of Carnival, which is when our neighbors go berserk.

We stayed three nights in a pretty swanky place off the highway between the Gringo-infested burg of San Miguel and Dolores Hidalgo, which is a bit farther north.

The drive last Sunday was uneventful. We had lunch in a San Miguel restaurant named Hecho en Mexico where we’ve eaten quite a few times.

The following day we drove to Dolores Hidalgo and hit a few tourist spots, one of which was the Colonial building that housed the city’s jail down to 1957. It’s not a place you’d want to be in the slammer, but it’s a museum now. My child bride snapped the mugshot above.

Not surprisingly, it’s not the first time I’ve been in jail.

We dined in the Restaurante Plaza, which faces the plaza as the name indicates. We’ve dined there before, happily. The place where we had intended to eat, a joint called DaMonica, was closed Monday. Dang!

Back in San Miguel on Tuesday, we ate somewhere new for us, a restaurant named La Frontera. It was recommended to us by the inimitable Jennifer Rose, a woman who thinks red shoes are better than bacon. I do not agree.

While Ms. Rose may misjudge the value and/or taste of red shoes, she does know restaurants, and La Frontera was a good call. I had a BLT, and my child bride ate some brisket thing. They were both good, but they weren’t the highlight of the meal.

That was the root beer float. We love root beer floats. The only root beer float my child bride had ever tasted was near San Antonio, Texas, years ago. I have never seen root beer in Mexico. I asked the owner where she got root beer, and she said at the major supermarket in San Miguel.

There are some advantages — few but some — to living in a Gringo-infested town. Having root beer at the store is one of those advantages. I am jealous.

Now let’s venture on to politics. San Miguel hates Donald Trump. We walked through a street market and saw lots of T-shirts on sale that sported (expletive) Trump this and (expletive) Trump that. Tsk-tsk.

We walked around an art gallery and saw a huge oil painting of the great American president, but the artist was really angry with The Donald.

Oh, the ill will at losing an election, fair and square.

Wednesday morning, Ash Wednesday, we packed our bags, hopped into the Honda and headed southwest to our mountaintop home, having avoided the worst of Carnival here, which was the objective, after all.

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Child bride on the cobblestones leading to the hotel.
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Unoccupied edifice near our hideaway hotel.