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!

 

Music and whiskey

TWO HOURS after shooting the video above from the upstairs terraza, I was sitting on the Jesus Patio eating seedless green grapes and listening to the hog next door expressing displeasure with her situation, which she does often.

This is being written yesterday, Saturday. The previous night had seen a heavy downpour that lasted I don’t know how long because I went back to sleep after waking briefly to notice it.

Some things don’t change much in these parts, and the sounds of sunrise are one of those things. Roosters, tractor-trailer trucks on the highway up the mountain behind us, crickets, the loudspeakers of the house-delivery propane trucks.

However, some things do change, and they’re generally for the better. We got some great news recently. An international chain of movie theaters, Cinépolis, is opening here in our mountaintop town. Hooray! Now we won’t have to drive to the state capital for first-run flicks.

The changes that have occurred over the past 17 years that I’ve been here are considerable. There were no major supermarkets. Now there are two. There were no stoplights. Now there are many. There were few Gringos. Now there are way too many!

I wonder how they’ll react to the Cinépolis chain. Over a decade ago, the Mexican convenience store chain Oxxo opened its first store here, and the Gringos, many of whom are aging hippies, went bananas. Egad! Modernization!

We have numerous Oxxos now, including one directly on the major plaza. Another sits on the nearby smaller plaza. Their signs are subdued, not intrusive.

I’m praying for a full-blown Walmart and Costco.

Convenient shopping is a good thing, and it does not detract from the morning views I get from the upstairs terraza, something I love and that never changes.

* * * *

An old friend emailed me this week. I rarely hear from people above the border, so it was a welcomed event.

He and I worked together on newspapers for decades both in New Orleans and Houston. Like me, he is divorced more than once. Unlike me, he is not currently married. He’s three years older than I am, and he lives alone in a home he bought in Colorado after he retired from the Houston Chronicle.

I had sent him a note after seeing him briefly on a Netflix documentary of Janis Joplin who was a close friend of his in high school in Port Arthur, Texas, and later in her early years of fame and drug-addled degeneracy.

My friend is a much-published poet, but not in recent years. He said his life now is mostly whiskey and music. And that all his major life decisions were wrong ones. That last resonated with me because all my major decisions were wrong ones too. Till 1996 when my major life decisions did a 180.

What happened in 1996? I stopped drinking. My friend is 76 years old, and I doubt he will do that.

I didn’t even mention it.

Here’s to music and whiskey! And staying the course.

Change of scenery

houston
Where I lived for 15 years. Houston.
street
Where I’ve lived for 17 years.

THE FIRST five years of my life, I resided in the countryside, a farm not far from Sylvester, Georgia.

The latest census puts Sylvester’s population at about 6,000 souls. Lord knows what it was in the late 1940s when I was toddling around there in the dirt.

My current mountaintop pueblo is home to about 80,000 folks, dwarfing the population of Sylvester, but 80,000 is a far cry from the 6 million you’ll find in Houston’s metropolitan area or even the 2 million in the city itself.

Before moving to my mountaintop, Houston was where I lived and worked. I don’t work anymore unless you count pulling weeds and watering veranda potted plants.

I play and relax.

The switch from Houston to this mountaintop pueblo was a drastic move. I’m a big-city boy. And my child bride is a big-city girl. Why are we here?

Lack of communication.

One morning, about two years after constructing and moving into the Hacienda, we were sitting on the veranda in our wicker rockers, talking. We discovered that we’d both have preferred settling in a big city.

How did we not know this? Answer: I assumed she wanted to live here because relatives live here, especially her favorite sister. She assumed I wanted to live here because I was here and had moved here intentionally.

But we never discussed it specifically. Dumb, huh?

Why not sell the Hacienda and move elsewhere? Actually, about that time, I did advertise it online, and got an offer for twice what we had paid to build this place.

But I chickened out because I love our home, and there is a large city nearby, the capital down the mountainside. But, aside from weekly Costco shopping jaunts, we rarely go there.

We’ve become small-city folks. But every time I see a photo of Houston, I sigh. And she likely does the same when we make our twice-a-year visits to Mexico City, which is where she lived when I found her.

But we can stand in the yard on dark nights and see stars from horizon to horizon. And I never heard roosters at dawn or burros anytime in Houston.

Just occasional gunfire.

* * * *

(Note: We’ll be home this afternoon from San Miguel de Allende where we fled on Sunday to avoid the worst of Carnival in our hardscrabble neighborhood.)