Tag Archives: haciendas

Lazy Sunday

colorcasa

WE DECIDED to veg out on Sunday. We often do that.

After driving downtown for a restaurant meal at Mexican lunch time, 2 o’clock, we returned about 3:30, put on our jammies, and started a movie on Netflix.

After an hour, however, we got antsy, so we paused the movie (City of Tiny Lights, quite good), got dressed again and headed out the gate for a neighborhood stroll.

I carried the camera.

Generally preferring black & white photography, I made an exception for the top shot because it’s all about color.

It’s a relatively new house near us that was constructed about two years ago. It’s the only casa in the barrio that gives us competition in the color category. But let’s continue on.

mural1

This is a mural right off the plaza. It’s pretty new too. The fellow looking over the mountains is Lázaro Cárdenas, president of Mexico in the late 1930s, and the guy responsible for nationalizing the oil industry, a mistake.

boys

We sat on a steel bench on the plaza and watched people. There weren’t many people out and about, but these two boys were enjoying non-electronic toys.

trio

These ladies were sitting outside a small store.

mural2

This wall facing the plaza is directly next to the 16th Century church. That’s church property behind the wall. Some young folks painted this stuff a few months ago. It includes Pancho Villa and the obligatory Ché Guevara.

I’ve thought about coming down here one night and blotting Ché out, but I likely will never get around to it.

Pancho Villa was no prize either.

door

Before we headed back to the Hacienda, I entered an open building, turned around, and took this photo. I like open-door photos. The entryway gave access to an interior courtyard where local ladies cook and sell grub on Sundays.

Over open fires.

I took about 25 shots total, but I didn’t want to test your patience as most people would do. These are my favorites.

The arrival

vista
The view that changed my life.

I’M FOND OF noting milestones.

I just missed an anniversary, but only by three days. My arrival here on the mountaintop on September 10, 2000. I was not entirely new to Mexico, but I was quite green.

I’d lived seven months at a lower altitude, 40 minutes away in the state capital. Four of those seven months had been dedicated to attending a language school because when I got off the plane in Guadalajara I didn’t speak Spanish.

I was a language ignoramus.

My decision to move from the state capital up here was made while sitting at a coffee shop and looking in the direction shown in the photo. I looked at that view and told myself, I’m gonna move here. And I did. Lickety-split.

My first challenge was to find a furnished place to rent. While my town now is chockablock with real-estate agencies and lots of furnished rentals, there was not even one real-estate agency in 2000. I knew no one here, and I had no idea where to start. I was alone, and my Spanish was dicey.

Someone online pointed me to an old Gringo named Gray who’d moved here after the Second World War.  He had married an indigenous woman, and they had multiplied.

Gray had some furnished rentals that catered mostly to the sparse Gringo crowd. I moved into a two-story house on a main drag with furniture that aspired to the junk heap.

The first thing I did was buy a new mattress and sheets. The second thing was to buy an equipal love seat and matching chair. The store here neglected to inform me that the set would be made in and shipped from Guadalajara.

I got it about four months later.

I lived in that rental for two-and-a-half years. My child bride was there the final year while we constructed the Hacienda.

It wasn’t a bad place if one didn’t cringe at the hordes of mice during the rainy season or the two times I found dead rats in the toilet. They had come up from below, and I flushed them back to where they came from.

And there was the matter of the house abutting a open sewer/creek that provided a notable fragrance during the dry months. And the lights went out a lot.

It was an interesting home along the lines of the Chinese curse, May you live in interesting times.

We were elated when we moved into the Hacienda in May of 2003. It’s been a great 17 years here at altitude. The changes are considerable. Plenty of rentals available now. With rats or without. Ten times the number of Gringos. Some people regard that positively. I’m not one of those people.

But I’m glad I sat at that coffee house that long-ago afternoon, gazing up the street. It was a decisive moment.

The photo’s from yesterday. It hasn’t changed much.

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!

 

Golden touch

A few days back. Lots of dangling flower pods.
Golden Datura! Shot on Saturday in a light rain, which you might see.

SCANT GRINGOS live in my hardscrabble neighborhood on the outskirts of town. Plenty — too many — live in other barrios, but few within shouting distance of the Hacienda.

Almost since we built our home in 2002-03, there have been three Gringo residences in our ´hood. There were three back then, and there remain three today.

The other two have seen turnover. Even before we built the Hacienda, there was an old American woman living about four blocks away. She was Judith Deim, an artist of some renown and reportedly an ex-lover of John Steinbeck.

During a recent stop in the Gringo-infested town of San Miguel de Allende, we spotted Deim’s work in a fancy gallery there.

Not really to my taste.

She was 92 when we moved into the Hacienda, and she died three years later, old as the proverbial hills.

Her home became the property of relatives who sometimes were there, sometimes not, I think, but last year a Gringa who’s lived hereabouts a number of years bought Deim’s home and is remodeling it. She gave us a tour a couple of weeks ago.

It was the first time I’d been in the place. Though Deim and I occasionally sat near one another at my sister-in-law’s downtown coffee house on the main plaza, we never exchanged a word. I doubt she knew I was her neighbor.

She was ancient, eccentric and wore no eyeglasses. I, on the other hand, was far less ancient, eccentric and I did sport specs.

The other Gringo house in the neighborhood was constructed not long after we moved into the Hacienda. It is about three blocks away, and the owner was a gay book-seller who came from somewhere in New England.

He was in his 50s, quite friendly and dissipated-looking. I liked him. Unlike most who move here, he lacked independent income, so he tried to scrounge a living by selling books he bought down from above the Rio Bravo. It did not work.

He sold his place to a Gringo family, and moved back to the United States. He died a couple of years later, a heart attack.

The new Gringos were a family who published children’s books, something you can do long-distance. They significantly remodeled their place, and now it’s spectacular.

The couple came with an adopted son in his early 20s. The young man was colossally ill-behaved, and would ride a small bike around the local plaza ogling teen girls. His behavior, it appears, eventually got him into serious trouble.

So the family hightailed it to Uruguay.

Soon after, the now elegant home was purchased by more Gringos, an elderly retired couple. They’ve been here a number of years, and everything seems to be going well for them.

What has this to do with Golden Datura in the photos?

The first Gringo, the bookseller, gave me a cutting from his lawn, and my two datura trees are the result. Every winter, I whack the plants back to the trunk nubs, and every summer they resurrect with a vengeance of green and gold.

The one shown is outside our bedroom window. In summer the aroma of datura sails into the bedroom, and we can hear bumblebees buzzing the blooms.

The top photos were taken this week. The video below was shot way back in 2011.