The Papal proxy, espresso & sopa

blind
The blind musician who’d recently had treatment, it appears.

WE WENT TO a Baptism party yesterday. The guest of honor was a new nephew named Pablo Kareem. He’s a cute, upbeat kid. I tried to convince the young parents not to name him Kareem, which is better suited for a basketball player or a Mohammedan terrorist, but they paid me no mind. Kareem it is. But Pablo first.

It began with a Mass, of course, but my child bride and I skipped that and went straight to the party. It took place in a Salón de Fiesta in the nearby capital city. These are rental spaces that can be large or small, nice or not so nice. Ours yesterday was large and nice, and the event went as they always do. People sitting at tables yelling over the music that’s either blaring from a loudspeaker or tunes from a live band. There was food too.

Yesterday’s was five-star pollo en mole.

It’s not really my scene, as we said in the old days. I usually have to flee after an hour or so due to the racket and my long legs being cramped below a folding table.

I got into the Honda and drove alone to the pink-stone, Colonial center of town. I parked and walked a few blocks to an area known, I believe, as el Jardín de las Rosas. There are lots of sidewalk cafés abutting the Jardín. I sat and ordered a double espreso and a sopa Tarasca, a regional soup that can range from spectacular to so-so.

Yesterday’s was near spectacular. I’m a winner.

I people-watched for over an hour. There were plenty of folks passing by. There were also strolling musicians, sidewalk hawkers and panhandlers. One of the musicians was an old blind singer with a guitar who was being led by a woman I suspect was his daughter.

I gave him 50 pesos, which is far more than I normally tip in those situations, but I was thinking, There but for the grace of God go I, or something like that.

Finally, I got a call from the party. It was time to return.

It was a fine afternoon. I liked el Jardín de las Rosas. My child bride enjoyed screaming over the music to her Mexican abundance of relatives. And Pablo Kareem slept through it all, but he got the Pope’s blessing by proxy. His soul’s a clean slate.

Perhaps mine once was too. I’ve never been baptized.

cafe
A shot from where I was sitting with espresso and sopa Tarasca.

Evening on the plaza

plaza

I WAS WALKING to the Honda yesterday about 6:30 p.m. when I looked over thataway and thought, That sure looks sweet.

Luckily, I was toting the small Fujifilm Finepix camera in my man bag. I pulled it out, pointed, and snapped.

City Hall says our plaza is the nation’s largest after the Zócalo in Mexico City. Maybe it is. Another notable characteristic is that there is no church on this plaza, which is almost unknown in Latin America.

It’s not Terre Haute.

Another waning day

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A waning day makes nice light.

TWENTY-FOUR hours after the last post, I was walking to the Honda again. But this time I was returning from the Basilica.

I had gone there with my child bride, her sister and the nephew we once called The Little Vaquero. But he’s not so little anymore at age 15.

Once a year, the local luminaries pull our version of the Virgin Mary from her high perch in the Basilica and parade her around town upon shoulders. People take this very seriously. Being neither Catholic nor Christian, I view it less as a religious event and more as a tourist attraction.

It was supposed to start at a civilized hour but being Mexicans we got off to a tardy beginning. So tardy that I wearied of waiting and left, which is when I walked down the hill and shot these pretty photos.

The rest of my crew hung around, but an hour later they too tossed up their hands, figuratively speaking, and left. I’m sure the Virgin managed to make her annual trek through the cobblestone streets of our mountaintop town, but none of us bore witness to the sacred event.

Anyway, if you’ve seen it once, and I have, you’ve seen it sufficiently.

A friend of ours, a fellow who went by the nickname of Don Chino, used to manage this event, but he died last year. When Don Chino was in charge, the Virgin headed out the Basilica door with a spring in her step.

Now she has fallen into bad Mexican habits.

R.I.P., Don Chino. We miss you.

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This is not the Basilica. It’s a big church just one block from the Basilica.

Don’t tread on slick ceramic

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Central courtyard of the hospital.

MY CHILD BRIDE stepped into the kitchen from the service patio yesterday morning. It had been raining, and she was wearing old Crocs sandals.

The kitchen has a smooth ceramic floor. Her soles were wet. This is a very bad combination. She took a swan dive, landing on her left arm.

It really, really hurt, she said.

We hoped it would calm down after an hour or two, but it didn’t, so we drove downtown to a hospital connected to a church — Catholic, of course.

Someone saw us rapidly, and an X-ray was taken. No broken bones. Whew! Because, like me, she has never broken a bone in her life.

The arm is inflamed, the doctor said, as he wrote a prescription for a pain reliever. He said she might want to return Monday afternoon when the traumatologist is available. We’re hoping that won’t be necessary.

armOnce again, the Mexican healthcare system makes a mockery of what Gringos endure north of the Rio Bravo.

Here’s what happened. We walked to the hospital reception where there was no line. We paid 70 pesos to see a doctor. That’s about $3.60 U.S. A doctor is on duty 24-7. From the reception we walked nearby where a nurse took her blood pressure, which was okay.

We immediately walked next door where the doctor was waiting. He felt her arm, asked a few questions and decided on an X-ray. We stepped back into the passageway and took a few steps to the right to the X-ray room.

The X-ray was taken immediately, and the doctor reviewed it. No broken bones. That’s when he gave us the OTC, pain-reliever prescription. As we left, we passed by the reception again and paid 400 pesos for the X-ray. That’s about $21 U.S.

The doctor had suggested that an arm sling would be a good idea. Out on the street, we walked to the first corner, turned right, and there sits a small business that sells such things. We bought the sling you see in the photo. It cost 90 pesos. That’s about $4.70 U.S.

A nearby pharmacy sold us the pain reliever for 120 pesos, about $6.30 U.S. Total time for all of this: about an hour. Total cost: about $35.60 U.S.

The hospital is neither a government bureaucracy nor an appendage of the church. It’s a local charity run and funded by citizens.

How’s that Obamacare working out for you? Or if you’re Canadian, how are you liking that high-tax-injected “free” socialized medicine? Chortle.