Sick unto death

catrinaFOR MANY years before relocating to Mexico, I was a big fan of the Day of the Dead tradition. In my Houston condo, I had a ceramic Catrina on my bathroom counter, one that a Mexican crafts store outrageously overcharged me for, which I didn’t know then.

It had been marked up about 10 times. Double is the norm. Those crafty Mexicans.

By pure dumb luck I settled in one of the two most popular and highly publicized towns in the entire republic for Los Muertos, as the Day of the Dead is commonly known in Mexico. The other is Oaxaca.

This really tickled me 19 years ago. Now I’m just ticked off. The tourist mobs have grown to stunning levels and, for that reason, this year we are fleeing for the first time.

We’re riding a bus to Guadalajara late next week.

I have not been to Guadalajara since 2000. Our mountaintop town is located about halfway between Guadalajara and Mexico City. Actually, it’s a bit closer to Guadalajara. In spite of that, I have visited Mexico City a gadzillion times, and I have not returned to Guadalajara since my mother (R.I.P.) and my sister visited in that long-ago summer. I picked them up at the airport there, and then returned them a week later.

We’ll be staying in a downtown hotel that’s two blocks from the Hotel Morales, which is where I stayed three nights after flying to Guadalajara from Atlanta on January 19, 2000. It’ll be fun to take a peek into there for ole times sake. I tried to book a room at the Morales, but nothing was available for the dates of our visit.

We’ll be visiting the famous zoo and eating some Vietnamese pho, which I love. Other than those two things, nothing much is planned. We’ll just wander around. This will be our first trip to someplace “new” since our 2013 visit to Mérida. We don’t travel much.

What I remember most about Guadalajara is the atrocious quantity of pigeons that pollute the downtown plazas. I’m not a fan of pigeons, nasty birds.

But there will probably be more tourists here next weekend than there are pigeons soiling the center of Guadalajara. Gotta pick your poisons.

Evening on the plaza

plaza

I WAS WALKING to the Honda yesterday about 6:30 p.m. when I looked over thataway and thought, That sure looks sweet.

Luckily, I was toting the small Fujifilm Finepix camera in my man bag. I pulled it out, pointed, and snapped.

City Hall says our plaza is the nation’s largest after the Zócalo in Mexico City. Maybe it is. Another notable characteristic is that there is no church on this plaza, which is almost unknown in Latin America.

It’s not Terre Haute.

A full Saturday

saturday
A very lovely morning after a pretty nasty week, weatherwise.

SATURDAYS ARE variable, but some are far more varied, i.e. busy, than others, and this is one of those Saturdays. I pause to fill you in due to my being a sharing sort of fellow.

When Saturday falls on the first of a month, then things get even fuller. There are Saturday chores, and there are first-of-month chores. There are also occasional chores, and one of those fell on this Saturday too.

That was the twice-a-month 8:30 a.m. drive downtown to check my postoffice box. I did that only to discover the postoffice shut due to this also being inauguration day for our new president (ugh!) in Mexico City. Why they had to close the postoffice here is one of those Latino mysteries.

So I came home with no mail, but since I almost never get mail, this is no big thing. That’s right, I get virtually no mail in my postoffice box, not even the Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes.

I also don’t get sales calls at dinnertime.

Saturday morning is when Abel the Deadpan Yardman arrives to mow the lawn. Normally, we’ve ended that by December, but stubborn rains in November have kept the grass green and jubilant.

The first of the month means I check the two cars, the fluid levels, the tire P.S.I., that sort of thing. I did not do that today. Tomorrow is okay.

Saturday morning is when the plants on the veranda get watered, so I did that. It’s also when I shot the photo. It’s a cool, lovely day. I also wiped the Jesus Patio table and web chairs. You can see them in the photo.

Saturday is when my child bride sells her pastries in the afternoon on the downtown plaza, and I accompany her for the first few hours. As I write this, around noon, she’s out in her private kitchen baking up a storm.

Simultaneously, I hear pigs screaming bloody murder next door. They are not kind to their pigs. Sometimes they do murder them.

My neighborhood is not for the squeamish.

Though not specifically a Saturday chore, I washed the Honda because it was grubby due to the nasty weather this week, lots of rain and mud, and one wants to present an elegant face to the world.

And after Abel the Deadpan Yardman cuts the grass and heads home, two doors down, with his weedeater, I upend the mower and hose it clean.

It’s a Briggs & Stratton.

Furthermore, arriving this afternoon while we sit on the plaza hawking pastries is a woman from Santa Fe, New Mexico, who will live in our Downtown Casita for a month, maybe two. She just retired as a therapist. Perhaps she can heal me, make me right.

I’ll drive her to her new, temporary, home with the keys.

Yes, it’s been a very busy Saturday, busier than usual, and it’s only half over. And it will continue till tonight when we climb weary under the goose-down comforter draped over the king bed, and call it a day.

* * * *

(When I retired 19 years ago 19 days from now — yes, Dec. 19, 1999 — I wondered how I’d fill my days. It hasn’t been an issue, to put it mildly.)

 

Bones, hair, cobblestones & cheese

FLY
I was sitting on the Jesus Patio when I shot this guy nearby.

AUTUMN ARRIVES on Saturday, but we’ve already started Fall.

In our hearts, if not in celestial reality.

The leaves are dropping from the peach tree, littering the Jesus Patio, making more work for me, not appreciated.

I like the photo above, so I’ve added it to the header.

Unrelated to fall is that we’ve now entered the third week of my child bride’s broken arm, caused by a fall. The doctor said the cast would stay in place from four to six weeks. We are praying, of course, for four.

The biggest challenge, certainly for me, but for her too, it seems, is her mop of hair. She cannot arrange it to her satisfaction with one hand.

So that leaves me.

We’ve come to verbal blows over this matter.

cdmx
Disheveled on an early morning in Mexico City.

Here she is sitting in our Mexico City condo three years ago. Her hair has not been cut since, so you can imagine. It’s not only long, much longer now than in this photo, but it is quite curly. You might even call it kinky.

We’ve had quite a few emotionally challenging moments due to this mop.

Her getting both her arms back in action cannot come too soon.

Matrimonial bliss hangs on it.

* * * *

And furthermore …

As I’ve written on various occasions, our town is renovating streets, especially around the spectacular plaza.

This has been going on for y-e-a-r-s. Three at least. Nonstop.

street
Just yesterday on the third side of the plaza.

Laying the cobblestones, and sidewalk renovation too, has been completed on two sides of the plaza. Above, you see the third side, and they’ve dug up all the old stones on the fourth, the side that abuts my family coffee shop. We’re in the rainy season, so we have an abundance of mud.

The Goddess willing, this will end before I die.

* * * *

Moving on to cheese

cheese
This is queso seco.

One of the many great things about living south of the Rio Bravo is the abundance of great avocados or, as we call them, aguacates. Another is cheese or, as we call it, queso. We Mexicans love our queso.

Visitors are cautioned to avoid cheese. Sometimes it’s not pasteurized, maybe most of the time. I pay that warning not a lick of attention.

The cheese in the photo is called queso seco or dry cheese. We bought it here on the mountaintop, but recently we found a very small store that sells only cheese on a street corner in the capital city.

The cheese is unrefrigerated, and on our first visit we found wheels of various cheeses sitting on the floor. This would appall a persnickety person, but we bought a quarter kilo, which was exceptionally tasty.

We took it home, ate it happily, and did not die.