Changing times

cine
Well, lookee here! We’ve joined the Big Time.

IN SEPTEMBER 2000, when I drove to the mountaintop in a rental car, there was a shortage of stuff like stoplights, chain stores, Gringos and the like. That has changed.

Now we have stoplights, and most people heed them. We also have chain stores like Walmart’s Bodega Aurrera, Soriana, Oxxo and Coppel, one of which is a sizable department store. We also have lots more Gringos.

When I arrived after living eight months in the nearby state capital, there were about 40 Gringos hereabouts, many of whom were oddballs and lunatics. Now there are 10 times that number. Some are oddballs, but most are normal folks, it seems.

Though I intuit that many vote in the wrong direction, a sort of lunacy.

Way back then, we had a funky movie theater. It had two screens. One showed porno, and the other showed regular fare long after it had debuted at theaters in the nearby capital city. Our theater was old and fun to visit, but it closed about 18 years ago.

The town made a big step forward last week when a movie theater opened that’s part of the Mexican Cinépolis chain, which I hear now has theaters in the United States.

First-run flicks at last. It’s like we’re not in the boonies anymore. The five-screen theater is in a large, new retail area, and other buildings are under construction. The grapevine says that one is a Domino’s Pizza. Just what we need, more pizza.

Mexicans love pizza almost as much as they love tacos, cheese and salsa, especially pizza with weenie and pineapple chunks. This is not Paris.

I’m praying for a Costco, Sears, or perhaps they’ll resurrect Bonwit Teller.

The AMLO sandwich

sandwich
What might have been and what perhaps still will be.

THE POPULIST president Mexico elected last year got off to a rip-roaring start in December, his first month in office. He wasted no time in causing chaos. He’s known by his initials, AMLO.

Here’s what he did, if you can believe it. Mexico has a longstanding and, apparently increasing, problem with gasoline theft by organized gangs. Their favored modus operandi is to tap into a pipeline, preferably in the boonies, and siphon it into tanker trucks.

Mexico is a major oil producer and has lots of refineries.

AMLO’s solution to this problem is to stop sending gasoline via pipelines and to transport it instead in Pemex tanker trucks, often accompanied by armed patrols. The fly in this ointment is that you cannot send anywhere nearly as much gasoline by tanker trucks as you can by pipeline.

This has resulted in severe gasoline shortages in parts of the country. Alas, one of the heaviest hit parts is right here on my mountaintop.

Most of our gas stations are closed all day. The ones that occasionally have gasoline have lines up to a half-mile long. I drove by one yesterday afternoon just up the highway from the Hacienda.

Here is an apt analogy to AMLO’s solution to the pipeline thefts: Say you want to halt bank robberies. The obvious remedy is to remove money from banks, right? Unfortunately, while bank robbers won’t have access to money in the banks, neither will customers.

* * * *

The AMLO sandwich?

Until this situation gets resolved, we’re not wasting gasoline on our habitual weekly drives to the nearby capital city to high-brow shop at Costco and Superama.

We’re sticking close to home. The Honda still has nearly three-quarters of a tank of petrol because I filled up Dec. 31 and have driven little since.

Costco is where I’ve purchased hydroponic lettuce for our nightly salads for years. I used the final lettuce Thursday night. Since no supermarket where I live stocks hydroponic lettuce, I planned to switch to egg sandwiches.

I was planning on calling them AMLO sandwiches.  It would have been a painful transition in spite of the fact that I like egg sandwiches. We are critters of habit.

But yesterday I decided to check the lettuce in our mountaintop supermarket. No hydroponic, of course. The store’s nod to highbrow is some sort of Italian greenery, so I bought four questionable bunches, brought them home and disinfected them.

No need to disinfect Costco’s hydroponic lettuce. It’s fast and easy.

We have bagels for only three mornings more, and the croissants are all gone. We’re just six weeks into AMLO’s six-year term.

This could get mighty ugly.

We are the bourgeoisie, so I guess we had it coming.

* * * *

(Here’s a Washington Post story on our gasoline crisis.)

 

Coffee, cookie and construction

cafe

OUR MOUNTAIN town is packed to the treetops with tourists. Not fond of it myself, but it’s good for the local economy, and I’m down with that.

Much of Mexico goes on vacation between Christmas and New Year’s, and at times it seems they all come here. Many of them do.

Yesterday afternoon, I was sitting at a sidewalk table with a café Americano negro and a chocolate chip cookie from Costco. Most of the sidewalk tables were occupied, and hordes of folks were walking by. It was good people-watching.

Finishing my café and cookie — I ate just one, which is why I am so svelte. I don’t make a pig of myself — I stood and walked across the street and the plaza to the far side where a yuge renovation project is under way.

The renovation is taking a very long time, months, and my video illustrates why. Watch those guys detailing the flat stones of the sidewalk. It will last a century or more.

We don’t do prefab.

Another interesting element is that the construction work is not closed off. Pedestrians walk all around the workmen and through the half-finished street and sidewalk.

In the United States, the area would be closed, and all the workmen would be sporting hard hats. It’s probably more perilous the way we do it, but it’s far more interesting too.

The pear man

pears
Actual Hacienda pears. Ugly but tasty … and organic!

WHILE I HEARTILY dislike having a nasty peach tree in the yard, I don’t harbor any ill will toward the pears.

They are perfectly good pears in spite of the fact that I don’t eat them. My child bride, of course, gobbles them down as she does any fruit within her grasp.

And our pears are organic!

I miss a few things from above the Rio Bravo, food-related things. One is Harry & David. They sell great fruit, especially pears, and their pears are prettier than ours. The other thing I miss is the Collin Street Bakery, especially the fruitcake.

Costco in the capital city sometimes sells fruitcake, and I’ve yet to buy one. Perhaps I should. Most fruitcakes are crap. Perhaps you’ve heard there’s actually only one fruitcake in the world, and it gets passed from one gift recipient to another, eternally.

But the Collin Street fruitcake is excellent. It’s that second fruitcake, the one you can eat.

Most of the fruit trees in our yard were here when we purchased the property. There was also an English sheepdog-watchdog that the previous owner tried to give us, but we did not bite, so to speak. We remain dog-free.

I wish we were peach-free. The pears ain’t bad, however, and, as I said, they are organic!