You never know where you’ll end up

OR WHO YOU will end up with, for that matter.

There’s a photo of me pasted to our refrigerator door.  I was 19 years old and standing with one of my best friends at the time in my barracks room at Castle Air Force Base in Central California. It was 1963.

The friend, Adrian Landres, died about a decade ago.

I paused and looked long at that photo this morning. What a fresh-faced young fellow I was. I sported a sweatshirt tucked into blue jeans and had a watch cap on my head. I was smiling broadly. I had no clue about the future.

Or about much of anything, for that matter.

Adrian was wearing a slick suit he had tailor-made during an assignment somewhere in the Far East.

If someone had told my smiling self that I would spend the last couple of decades (or more) of my life in the middle of Mexico, married to a Mexican, how would I have reacted? With incredulity, I suspect.

Still in Houston in 1999, I visited bookstores (remember them?) and sat in cushy chairs with Retire in Mexico publications. Virtually nowhere did I see references to the mountaintop town where I now live. I recall just one mention of it that said it was not a popular destination due to its being quite cold.

It can get cold. Bring a wrap.

I imagine that advice has changed lots in the past 19 years. When I landed here, there were about 40 Gringos in residence. Many were quite odd, present company excepted, of course. Now there are at least 10 times that many.

And they’re not nearly as odd.

The place was colonially cute but tatty when I moved up from the nearby state capital (eight months there), and it did not change much until renovations got under way in a major way about two or three years ago.

It started with the streets and sidewalks in the dead center of downtown. That work is still ongoing because it’s incredibly labor-intensive. And just this weekend, the city government began a painting project that will freshen the façades of homes and businesses in the downtown zone, free to the owners.

We are a major-league tourist attraction, and the town fathers want to amplify that. Our “look” is from centuries ago, plus we’re one of the top Day of the Dead destinations in all of Mexico.

This is all fun to watch and, of course, it’s increasing the value of our two properties. Here are photos I stole from an online news website.

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You never know where you’ll end up or who you’ll end up with. Life is full of surprises and unforeseen detours, eh?

Back from the chaotic capital

WE RETURNED Wednesday via bus from Mexico City.

After spending four nights in our condo.

There is good news, ecstatic news for me. We rented the place to a nephew who started this week at the Instituto Politécnico Nacional, a prestigious university that’s difficult to get into.

Our condo is walking distance from the school.

The not-so-good news is that his family views rent as money wasted, so they will be looking for somewhere to buy.  How soon we do not know. We may sell them our place. I hope so. I have left that decision to my child bride.

I vote a resounding yes. She, on the other hand, holds the typical Mexican view that one should never sell property under any circumstances whatsoever.

But she does see the inconvenience of its being in Mexico City.

It seems every visit to the nation’s capital is worse than the previous, traffic-wise. A friend who lives there says that each time a new thoroughfare is constructed, a new subway line opens or a Metrobús route is inaugurated, congestion just gets worse instead of better.

The young tenant and his mother arrived by bus on Wednesday, dumped a ton of baggage in the condo, and spent the night in a nearby hotel. The following morning, we left town, and they moved in.

She won’t be staying. Just him.

So, as things stand, our twice-yearly visit to air out the condo, chase the bugs away, and mop up dust is now canceled. May it ever be so.

I shot the video on our way back. There were only six other people in the two-decker ETN bus. It looks empty because it mostly was.

A few months back, I decided to never visit San Miguel de Allende again. I hope to make the same vow for Mexico City. Other destinations call and, of course, it’s ever spectacular here on my Mexican mountaintop where we live in peace.

* * * *

(Note: In the middle of the return trip, the bus was stopped by immigration agents, and the passengers were asked for identification. They were looking for illegal aliens, of course. It was a first for me and, strangely, we were in the middle of Mexico. It was akin to being in Kansas. I flashed my official, laminated, full-color, photo-included voter ID.)

Look-about in late July

fragment
Even ceramic fragments add to decor.

THIS IS SUNDAY, the day of rest according to Christian belief, but I am not a Christian, so I stepped outside this morning after black café and bagels to attend to mounting chores.

I swept. I watered. I wiped and refilled the birdbath. I doubt the birds care, but I do. Appearances matter. I chopped some green detritus and dropped it into a big trash bin. I wiped the Jesus Patio table, and I swept the veranda.

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Oblong pot of something or other.

We wake every morning in the low 60s, temperature-wise, but by afternoon it’s warmed to the low 70s.

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He scares the snails.

A niece and her 1-year-old daughter moved to town yesterday from the nearby state capital. Her boyfriend left her, so she’s coming here to work in the coffee shop. To complicate the matter she discovered this week she’s four months pregnant, a gift from the same boyfriend, but he’s still gone.

One of my child bride’s brothers drove his truck here from his home in Querétaro and moved the niece’s few and quite humble belongings to the mountaintop. We’ll see how this plays out.

Her mother, my child bride’s sister, has four children and has never been married. I think I see a repeating pattern.

Highlands Mexican life is great weather and nonstop drama.

Most of my chores this morning are behind me, so I’ll shower, dress and slip into a Christian-like Day of Rest. It will be nice. We’ll eat in a restaurant.

Two nights ago, lying in bed reading our Kindles, the both of us, a big storm began outside, coming down from the mountains. The bedroom window was open. As wind whipped outside, it pushed the sweet smell of golden datura into the bedroom from the big bush just beyond. It covered us like Chanel.

That sort of thing can deliver sweet dreams.