THE FAMILY coffee shop was closed yesterday (rare) so I was forced to hit the competition. There’s plenty of that around the plaza, competition, but my favorite is way over there, and it was there where I sat with a café expreso for a spell.
It was late afternoon. And quiet.
I never order café expreso at the family joint because the aging machine does not make good café expreso. But since I was sitting at the competition, I ordered expreso.
It’s a small world, they say, and as I sat there solo my sister-in-law walked by — on the way to her dentist — and a bit later her son, our nephew, the Little Vaquero, walked by in the opposite direction, returning home from the gym. He’s 16.
I also shot the photo below. Like the first, it was while sitting with my café expreso. I didn’t even have to stand up. Call me the Lazy Photographer.
THIS SUNDAY MORNING, I awoke and thought of Sundays of Long Ago, specifically when I was married to my second wife and living in Houston.
We had a routine. I’d retrieve the fat Houston Chronicle from the lawn, pour coffee for the two of us — maybe we ate something too, can’t recall — and back to bed we went for an hour or more, reading the newspaper. It was fun.
I wonder if the Houston Chronicle still publishes a print edition. The world has changed so much in the past two decades. Another former employer, The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, does not. It’s only online.
Just like me.
But this morning, here at the Hacienda, a far cry from Houston and New Orleans in all aspects, after coffee and bagels and cream cheese (lite), I went out the veranda door to do a bit of yardwork.
Madeleine Peyroux was still singing on the music machine.
I deadheaded a few Birds of Paradise. I whacked back one of the small bougainvilleas. I picked up rotting golden datura blooms from the ground in the Willy-Nilly Zone. And I cut stalks of defunct aloe vera flowers.
The weather was wonderful, and it appears the rainy season, which long overstayed its welcome this year, may have retired till June. I pray so.
We have plenty of work planned around here,* and it awaits the genuine end of the rainy season because it’s outdoor work. Not work I will do, of course. Work that people I employ will do, guys who do cement and stone.
And colonial tile.
There are three arches in the veranda, as you can see in the photo. There are potted plants resting on the three ledges below. They sit on a dingy brick surface. In about a week, a guy will come and lay beautiful colonial tile. I don’t know why I didn’t think of this 15 years ago or even last year.
It will be a huge — Yuge! — improvement. I’ll post photos.
In the meantime, I wonder if my second ex-wife still reads the Sunday newspaper in bed. I almost emailed her this morning to inquire. But I didn’t.
* * * *
* More work than has been done by far since the Hacienda’s construction. Roofs will be razed. Stairs will be moved. Floors will be ripped up. The Jesus Patio will be destroyed. Fruit trees will fall. More on all that when it happens.
TRUTH BE TOLD, it was a walk in the plaza yesterday, not a park.
But first I sat a spell on a concrete bench drinking an agua de frutas and watching lots of children playing with toys they received Saturday morning, Three Kings Day, which is the big deal for kids in Latin America, not Christmas, which is a white folks’ fiesta.
Mostly, the children were enjoying new bicycles, scooters and roller blades, and everyone had a smile on their faces.
An exception to smiley faces were the two women in the photo above. They were sitting on the concrete bench facing me across the way.
In the other direction, a pretty girl was selling corn on the cob and potatoes.
After finishing the agua de frutas, I took a walk around the entire, humongous square, and in so doing, I noticed the final scene, which I’ve left in color. What makes it remarkable is that it’s free of power lines. I couldn’t resist that rare photographic opportunity.
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.