Sidewalk shoppers

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SITTING AT A sidewalk table abutting the plaza with a nice café Americano negro and nothing but time on my hands allows me to notice things.

Just up from where I sit are lines of  sidewalk stands where people we call hippies (they don’t care for the term) sell wares like earrings, handmade drums, things you tie around your wrist to look artsy, stuff you move to make the sound of rain, Indian incense, that sort of gear. It attracts tourists, especially on weekends.

I took this shot last Saturday. The two women cannot be from around here. They just don’t look like mountaintop people. They look like big-city gals, maybe from the nearby state capital or Guadalajara or even Mexico City.

I’ve spent 40 years, more than half my life, living in tourist towns. New Orleans, San Juan and now here amid the cobblestone streets and bougainvillea. People from more prosaic spots visit and think, “I could live here,” but then they go home and die in Dubuque.

Overnight in Pozos

View from our hotel apartment.

WE PASSED the 15-year point in our happy matrimony back in April. We had intended to go to the beach for a couple of days for the occasion, but we never got around to it.

Then I remembered our previous visit to a place called Mineral de Pozos. That first jaunt was eight or 10 years ago. It was mostly a ghost town, having previously thrived due to mines in the area, but those good times were long gone.

We hopped in the Honda and headed there this past weekend for a way-overdue anniversary blow-out.

Pozos, as it is usually called, reminded me of Real de Catorce, another ghost town resurrected by tourism.

A Brad Pitt movie called The Mexican was filmed in Real de Catorce. It was a fun flick. Also starred Julia Roberts.

The traffic was insufferable. Can you see my child bride?

But forget Brad and Julia. We’re talking about Mineral de Pozos here. Way back when, the town had another name, Ciudad de Porfirio Díaz, after the old dictator.

During our first visit, I thought, “This place will never get off the ground.” It was primarily shells of old stone buildings, mangy dogs and deserted streets.

We had driven up there from San Miguel de Allende, just for a few hours. We didn’t spend the night.

We noticed a couple of hotels that were under construction. We poked our heads into one during that visit, and it coincidentally was the same hotel we stayed in Sunday night.

Part of our hotel.

It’s called Posada de Las Minas, and it’s a very nice place. The hotel consists of eight rooms and two apartments, the difference being that the apartments are larger and have kitchens.

Since the apartments cost the same as the rooms, 1,800 pesos, we opted for an apartment. The view from the windows and balcony was spectacular, and the hotel has a great restaurant.

Old street goes up thataway.

Since our first visit, Pozos has been named one of Mexico’s Pueblos Magicos. Magic Towns. We Mexicans are fond of thinking ourselves as magic in one way or another.

Here on the mountaintop is also officially magic.

If a Mexican town has a cobblestone street, the chances of the government calling it magic are pretty good.

The designation seems to have given Mineral de Pozos a shot in the proverbial arm because when we returned Sunday, things had picked up considerably.

Of particular note is an art school that’s being constructed on the edge of town, an art school that will be the largest in Mexico and, according to some, the biggest in Latin America.

We drove by the place, which is not yet open. It’s huge and beautiful, as an art school should be. Even the dusty neighborhood is being renovated in spots.

As mentioned, we were there just one night. The bed was comfy, the view was wonderful, the restaurant was delish, and the art school was stupendous.

We’re not likely to make a third visit, however.

It’s just a one-hour drive northeast of the Gringo-infested burg of San Miguel de Allende, which is where we had lunch on the drive up and again on the return trip.

But we’re back home now, and happy for that. And well into our 16th year of matrimonial bliss.

Little plaza in Pozos.

México Lindo

IN SPITE OF our sometimes shady reputation, tourists can’t get enough of Mexico, which recently surpassed Mohammedan-infested Turkey as the world’s eighth-most-favored tourist destination.

A friend recently pointed me to an interesting web page that compared the United States with Mexico.

Among its pluses is that you’re 32 percent less likely to be unemployed in Mexico. Before you pack your suitcase, know that you’ll also earn 70 percent less money here.

Not mentioned on the list is that while you will make less money, living in Mexico is significantly cheaper, somewhat balancing things out, an important detail.

And you’re five times more likely to be murdered in Mexico, or so they say.  While that sounds bad, think of it this way:

If you’re chances of being murdered in the United States are 0.05 percent, then your chances in Mexico are 0.25. Still unlikely. I’ve been here 17 years, and nobody’s tried to murder me.

Perhaps they’ve considered it.

In Mexico, we spend 93 percent less on healthcare. In other words, how’s that ObamaCare working out for you?

We use 85 percent less electricity, and we’re 69 percent less likely to be in prison. Of course, a pessimist will say that’s because most of the bad guys are walking free, and maybe they are.

Or wearing police uniforms.

There are more pluses and minuses. If you want to read the entire list, go here. As for me, I’m staying put where I’m less likely to be in prison, and healthcare is far cheaper.

I hope I won’t be murdered.

Two ways of seeing

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I WAS SITTING on the main plaza with a café Americano negro, a frequent occurrence because I don’t have a real job, when I looked over thataway and noticed this young woman.

She was selling artwork that she’d laid out on a sheet atop the sidewalk, and she had a toddler in tow.

Based on what she was selling and the spectacular colors of her skirt and purse, I’d say she was a Huichol. They tend to come here during the Day of the Dead week to hawk their intricate, beaded artwork to the hordes of tourists.

Generally, I prefer black-and-white photos over color. There are two reasons: Everybody does color, and black-and-white is more dramatic, perhaps a bit old-school — like me.

I decided to offer a choice today due to the color of the door. You might think that ancient door opens into some fascinating realm where rides the ghost of Pancho Villa.

But it’s a bank.

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