Running out of steam?

YESTERDAY, A READER from Tennessee emailed to ask if all was well on my end. The reason being that over a week has passed with nothing new under the Moon.

I rarely remain silent so long, but maybe I will in the future. Am I running out of steam? Perhaps. The older you get, the less steam you generate.

I began this writing effort 15 years ago come January. I started on the Blogger website with a different title. I believe the first post was about a lunch here at home with company, the guests being the inimitable Al Kinnison and his wife, Jean.

(Both of whom are now deceased. They were witnesses at our 2002 wedding. R.I.P.)

Al read it later and told me he liked it. That inspired me, so I soldiered on, mostly writing about my relatively new life in a startlingly different world. Often I waxed lyrical, and people praised it. The list of followers grew, and it was fun.

I permanently pasted some reader feedback on the side column of that blog. Here are just a few examples:

Infectiously personal.

You never cease to amuse and amaze me.

Pretentious dolt!

What a nice piece of heaven you share.

You’re like a drunk uncle.

You’re a right-wing wacko.

You are a treasure on the electron highway.

Dark introspection.

You are so funny. I was snorting in my atole reading this.

You disgust me (a paraphrase).

Later, I abandoned Blogger and switched to WordPress, a far better platform, as it’s called. And by 2011, I had wearied of writing about “Life in Mexico,” which had become routine. The novelty was gone. Anyway, many Gringos here were writing about “Life in Mexico.”

They had that base covered well. One good example is Steve Cotton’s blog where he never seems to weary of writing about Mexico. I admire his stamina.

I tossed my first blog aside and started fresh with the intention of writing not about Mexico but other stuff. Enter The Unseen Moon, a title that came to me out of nowhere in the process of writing The Old Wolf. The phrase was in the final line.

Speaking of The Old Wolf, I began writing short fiction, which I’d never done before. Prior to 2005, with the birth of the first blog, in spite of being in the newspaper business for 30 years, I had never written anything but headlines and photo captions.

I was an editor, not a writer.

Most of the brief fiction is available hereabouts via links. I also jumped into politics, the good sort, the conservative kind. Leftists, being the rabid bunch they are, reacted to type, and I had to block quite a few commenters due to rudeness and curses.

My WordPress list of blocked people is laughably long, all because of ill breeding. Sad.

So, here we are almost 15 years after the start. We’ve gone from the novelty of living in Mexico to fiction to politics, and at times it’s all combined. And I have aged. Fifteen years ago my hair was as much black as white. Now it’s all white, and I’m creaky, sometimes cranky.

Am I running out of steam? Perhaps. But not today, it seems.

See you down the line, but Lord knows when.

Aftermath of the dead

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Our mountaintop plaza Wednesday afternoon.

A WEEK AGO this sidewalk was stuffed with tourists and endless stalls of Mexican handicrafts — the good, the mediocre and the incredibly beautiful.

It was leading up to our annual death fest, Los Muertos, the Day of the Dead.

But it’s over now, and the vendors have gone home, leaving only the tarped roof that extends over most of our huge, downtown plaza, and this too will vanish soon, stored somewhere till Easter Week. Life will return now to normal, peaceful and lovely.

We were not here, the first Day of the Dead I’ve missed in the 19 years I’ve lived on our mountaintop. The overwhelming tourist crowds and, even worse, the traffic jams drove us away. Think Daytona Beach on Memorial Day Weekend.

We locked the Hacienda and boarded a bus to Guadalajara, where neither of us had visited in about 20 years. It was comparatively quiet there in Mexico’s second largest city.

Three nights.

We went to the zoo (excellent!). We visited a Vietnamese restaurant to eat pho (pretty good). We took a tour-bus ride about town (so-so). We walked around a lot.

On the afternoon of Nov. 1, we were in one of the huge plazas in the city center. That’s where I shot the video below. True, I’m no Cecil B. DeMille. I’m not even Quentin Tarantino.

We stayed in a small hotel downtown that was two blocks from where I spent my first three nights after landing in Mexico alone on Jan. 20, 2000, the Hotel Morales. We would have stayed there this trip, but the Morales was booked solid.

Our last evening, we sat in the lovely lobby of the Morales, and I saw that young, weary traveler walk through the entrance at midnight with two bags. They gave me a room near the kitchen due to the dismal hour. It was the only bed available.

I’ll probably elaborate on that in January, the 20th anniversary of my Mexican adventure. I embrace anniversaries, clocks and calendars. I arrived on a Delta jet that managed to get off the ground in Atlanta just minutes before an ice storm closed the airport for days.

Getting out of Dodge for the Day of the Dead was a good idea. We returned Sunday afternoon to peace and quiet. The tourists had skedaddled. Our fleeing will likely become a tradition. If we go back to Guadalajara, I’ll make a timely reservation at the Morales.

It’s a far snazzier place now than it was back then. But it’s sweet to be home now.

Cultural variances in odd spots

I’VE LONG NOTICED the occasional cultural difference where you wouldn’t normally expect it — in the medical community. Isn’t Science Settled? No, it’s not.

An interesting example popped up in my life this week.

New ImageYesterday, I received a minor dental surgery, two stitches. Before leaving the dentist’s office, he gave me instructions, one of which was to avoid dairy products for three days. No milk, no cheese, no yogurt, no nada.

This struck me as odd, but I decided to obey orders, so last night, instead of my usual small bowl of cereal and milk before bed, I downed a croissant with orange marmalade.

Pretty tasty.

But this morning, I decided to do a little online sleuthing because I like my bedtime cereal and milk, and I eat it again for Second Breakfast.

I typed into my search engine (DuckDuckGo, never Google), “What foods should be avoided after dental surgery?” I phrased the question in English, so I received U.S. medical websites. I read three of them, and nowhere did it say to avoid dairy products. On the contrary, yogurt was one of the recommendations.

I then typed the same question in Spanish, so I got Mexican medical websites. The very first one told me to avoid all dairy products. So what’s happening here? Cultural differences is what. I’ve decided to be a Gringo and enjoy my cereal and milk.

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.