Water & chocolate

AFTER A FIVE-DAY, unusual dry spell here last week, it’s raining again, which is what the Goddess intends for our neck of the woods through all of September.

And, as usual too, I headed downtown yesterday afternoon for a café Americano negro, which I normally get free at my sister-in-law’s coffee shop. But she closed yesterday to rest.

Seems the Independence Day festivities over the weekend pooped her out. She had to sit with her cigarettes and Coke while watching the cash register fill with tourist pesos.

Darn near did her in.

So I walked to another side of the plaza and sat at a different coffee shop where I had to pay. I ordered hot chocolate. It started to rain. I grabbed my camera and panned around.

You might have heard of our latest earthquake. It did quite a bit of damage in Mexico City, more than the previous one a couple of weeks ago. When it struck yesterday we were in a supermarket in the nearby capital of our state.

I was walking down an aisle, and about five little cartons of something fell off the shelf directly in my path. I had felt nothing, but the store alarm went off, and we had to stand in the parking lot about five minutes.

Then we went back in and finished shopping. It was only later that we learned of the extensive damage and deaths in Mexico City. We had initially planned on making our twice-yearly visit to our condo there the first week of this month.

That was when the last quake struck. It was centered far away in the Pacific and didn’t do much damage, if any, in Mexico City. But our neighbors emailed us it was quite a jolt.

We rescheduled the trip for the first week of October, but now I’m a bit concerned. Gotta do it, however. We’re in the northern part of Mexico City, and our building suffered no damage yesterday. Bet it scared the neighbors, however.

Would have scared us too had we been there. Our apartment is on the fourth floor of a five-story building.

The old woman

oldlady

THERE IS A handful of folks I spot downtown whom I want to photograph. I just need the proper moment.

This old woman was one of them, and she provided the moment on Saturday as she ambled in my direction.

Amble is her top speed. The other is sitting on a stoop.

Another was this old fellow. I photographed him about a year ago. He has since died. Still on my to-do list are a man who makes and sells bows and arrows — he has a great face — and a couple of lovers I call Los Tiburones, the sharks.

Recently, the bow-and-arrow man walked by my sidewalk table where I was enjoying a café Americano negro, so I asked if he would pose for a shot. I offered 10 pesos.

He said he’d prefer doing it when he was carrying one of his long bows, not the relatively short one he was toting on that day. I said okay. I’ll just snap him when he’s not looking. Like my sister-in-law, he sports the nose of an Aztec king.

Los Tiburones are a young couple who’ve been an item since high school. They are now in their early 20s. I’ve been eyeing them for years. The girl is incredibly beautiful and rail thin. Her guy is good-looking too, but in a normal way.

I call them the sharks because they are ever in motion, making them difficult to photograph. Normally, I spot them as they sweep by me, going in the other direction.

The girl’s long hair is sometimes streaked with blue or pink, and she smokes, which is not what a skinny girl should do.

Just sit on a plaza bench, you two, just for a few moments, will you? I’ve never seen Los Tiburones smiling either, but real sharks seem dead serious too.

One day I’ll show you what they look like. Also the bow-and-arrow man with the Aztec nose.

The woman in the photo above is a street vendor. I don’t recall what she sells. She is remarkably nice.

She is so old and feeble, she can hardly walk. Sad.

* * * *

(As always, Felipe’s Fabulous Fotos can be found here.)

Death and cigarettes

A SISTER-IN-LAW lives nearby. Most of the family reside elsewhere. Distance assists good relations.

This sister-in-law, whom I see almost every day, smokes nonstop. It’s not pretty, and it smells awful.

I smoked cigarettes, cigars and pipes for years. I was not a heavy smoker, however, and I stopped in the early 1990s using a tapering-off routine that was pretty easy.

In a supermarket checkout line today I got a good look at a cigarette rack and was amused by the packaging. It was a popular brand in Mexico called Montana.

At least a quarter of a package face displayed a dead rat. Another was a photo of an open human mouth full of cigarette butts, the implication being that you’ll stink like an ashtray, which is quite true.

Cigarette packages, last time I paid attention, simply informed buyers that they’re dangerous. Times have changed.

Candy-Skull-01b-1Of course, tobacco companies do not put photos of dead rats and mouthfuls of butts on their packages voluntarily. They are legally obligated.

My sister-in-law will tell you in all seriousness that she won’t stop smoking because doing so increases the risk of lung cancer. She says  she knows too many people who stopped smoking and immediately died of cancer.

Her twisted logic always leans her way. She smokes to maintain her good health, her stinky well-being.

Are dead rats on cigarette packs in the United States?

* * * *

Speaking of death, our Day of the Dead celebration is about a week away, and the town is putting on its best face.

Streets are being cleaned. Tree trunks are whitewashed. Curbs are splashed yellow, and road stripes are repainted. We look almost new — as new as a six-century town can look.

The Hacienda is getting cleaned up too, unrelated to the Day of the Dead. Workmen are here painting, scraping, cementing, attaching, repairing, all manner of improvements.

It’s a yearly event.

The downside is that I’m trapped here today because much of the work is inside, and going off and leaving them here alone isn’t a bright idea. I don’t know them.

An upside is that I’m killing time by typing away.

And thinking of you.

Memory Lane

WELL, THAT’S enough about you. Let’s focus on everyone’s favorite topic: Numero Uno, themselves.

Here are four of my favorite photos of my own true self. Sure, some have been posted here before. So what? When one focuses on oneself, overdoing is not an issue.

I was young once, but I’m not anymore. I like to look back and think, Gee, is that me?  And it always is.

My life up to this point has been a bit more varied than most. I did not choose that road. It just happened. Some was fun. Some was decidedly not. Booze played a role for a long spell.

But I’ve been a teetotaler now for 16 years, and I’m having an even better time than before. What does that tell you?

With no further ado:

OneSitting in a San Francisco streetcar in 1963. I was 19 and in the Air Force.

I had dropped out of Vanderbilt University about a year earlier — women troubles — and enlisted. Women have long been a curse for me.

It was only when I latched onto a Mexican woman late in life that the curse was cracked at last. Heed this, young men.

twoFlash forward about 15 years, and here I am sitting in a Cessna 172 in New Orleans. The cap was a gag item. I used to fly small planes.

I never mixed booze with planes because I am not totally stupid. I did, however, mix booze with motorcycles on a regular basis, indicating I am somewhat stupid.

Roundabouts the same year, someone took the next photo, likely my second wife. That’s my daughter on the back.

She’s cute, and considerably older now. Pushing 50.

fourOver the last couple of years, I’ve developed a real hankering to buy another motorcycle. I’m not going to,  however, for a number of reasons. My bones won’t mend so easily, and Mexican roads are full of potholes and maniacs.

The previous photos are in time sequence, but we’ll have to back up a bit — about five years — for the following.

threeI love this shot. I’ve even used it as an avatar online.

Note the cigarette and, if you’re sharp, the apron. I like to cook, or I used to. Now I just prefer to be served.

And I used to smoke — cigarettes, cigars, pipes — but I stopped that stupidity about 25 years ago.

The photo was snapped by my Argentine girlfriend atop our penthouse apartment in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Now I’m 71 with a child bride. And feeling fine.

And that ends today’s stroll down Memory Lane. Feel free to post your own old photos in the comments.