Tag Archives: Rio Bravo

Dental adventures

dentist
My child bride gets a root canal.

AS I’VE WRITTEN lately, we’ve been having dental adventures.

The most recent report was just a few days ago in the Good and Bad. And, previous to that, there was A Dental Day. I recently wound up the process of getting a tooth implant, the first of my life, and my child bride will soon start on four implants.

On Monday we dealt with an unrelated problem, one which required a root canal for her. Our regular dentist in the state capital referred us to a dental surgeon, the talented young woman shown in the photo.

Her given name is Nayelli.

While the procedure was under way, I watched from a comfy sofa in the corner, a nice touch you’d be hard pressed to find above the Rio Bravo. I was sipping a strawberry milk shake I’d purchased just down the street.

I tried not to make slurping sounds.

The root canal took less than 45 minutes, and my child bride’s now set to start the implants in two weeks.

The adventures continue.

Church work

church
Scaffolds abut the church as guys do the much-needed renovation.

ABOUT A DECADE back, folks knocked on the gate and asked for a contribution to construct a short bridge over a ravine a few blocks down our street.  It would have solved a serious traffic glitch, so we kicked in 200 pesos.

The work on the bridge began, but it never finished, and remains undone to this day. The traffic glitch lives on.

A couple of months ago, folks again knocked on the gate and asked for a contribution to renovate the church. They asked for lots more, 2,000 pesos, about $115 U.S.

My wife mentioned what happened to the last money we contributed for neighborhood projects. Oh, no, this time it will happen, the folks declared.

Being community-minded and knowing the 500-year-old church on the plaza was on the point of collapse, we handed over the cash, mentally kissing it vaya con diós.

But religious projects trump street work any day hereabouts, so the church renovation is under way, and I have no doubt it will be completed. I am glad even though I am neither Catholic nor Christian. Architecture matters.

In the almost 15 years we’ve lived in our hardscrabble barrio, and the thousands of times we’ve walked the plaza, I imagine we have not stepped through the church doors more than five or six times. The same cannot be said of our neighbors. The church is the focal point of the community.

The weddings and funerals we witness there are numerous. There is no priest in residence, so masses are sporadic.

One cannot help but wonder why the Pope, who is likely richer than Bill Gates, Raul Castro and Carlos Slim combined, does not finance the renovation of his churches, leaving it sometimes to unbelievers like myself.

While walking the plaza this morning, I also shot the photo below. An old, beat-up VW Beetle and an old Chevy Pop like the one we owned from 2000 to 2014. I wonder how often one sees these old Beetles above the Rio Bravo now.

They’re quite common down here even though Mexico halted production in 2003.

cars
History survives in many forms.

The great escape

Steve McQueen made a “Great Escape” over a border. Me too!

WHEN I LEFT America in January 2000, I thought I was merely moving to another country to start a new adventure.

While that was true, what I did not realize at the time was that I, just like Steve McQueen in the photo above, was making my own Great Escape. But I wasn’t escaping from the Nazis. I was escaping from the United States.

When I hightailed it, things were fairly normal above the Rio Bravo. Bill Clinton was president. The economy was running well, and people were getting along pretty good.

There was no Black Lives Matter. There were no Antifa thugs running riot in the streets. There were no geriatric socialist presidential candidates. Conservative speakers were not tarred and feathered on university campuses.

There were no Safe Spaces, and public restrooms were either “Gentlemen” or “Ladies” or sometimes “Setters” and “Pointers.” Humor had not been banned.

Still standing were the World Trade Center in New York, Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin. And nobody outside Illinois had heard of Barack Hussein Obama.

Farther afield, there were no Mohammedan mobs being invited into European nations, nor to the United States either. Gays were not suing Mom & Pop bakeries over wedding cakes.

You got your porno on DVDs through the mail. It took some cash and effort. Nowadays it requires neither.

There was no Twitter, Facebook or iPhones.

Television dramas and sit-coms were not expected to kowtow to thought police. I read recently that the wildly popular sit-com Friends could not be made today, and it’s true.

The cast was all white. They poked fun at ethnic groups. The show’s crimes against PC were relentless, but nobody cared back then. We just laughed and laughed.

Seinfeld too would be verboten.

But the laughter has faded away. You must avoid saying certain true things, or you run a real risk of losing your job and/or friends and your social standing.

Everything went to the devil after I moved south. I’ve witnessed it exclusively via the internet, not in person.

Man, oh, man, I got out of there in the nick of time.

The drop-ins

Here we are! What’s on the stove? Where’s the tequila? Let’s dance!

LIVING IN Mexico can be a challenge. Don’t let anybody fool you with that “it’s magical” hooey.

The pluses outweigh the minuses, of course, but some of those minuses can be maddening, especially to me.

Way up the list is what I call the “Mexican yes,” or as I often say it to my child bride, “el sí mexicano.”

She does not dispute the point.

This refers to the custom of responding positively to pretty much everything. Are you coming tomorrow to fix the faucet? Yes!  Are you coming to lunch tomorrow? Yes! It’s always yes, and it never has any connection to reality whatsoever.

Maybe you’ll come. Maybe you won’t. No telling.

The only exception to this occurs when the positive response is not yes, but no. Are you going to drive my car that I’m loaning you 200 kph over potholes? No!

But, like all Mexicans, I have become accustomed to the “Mexican yes,” knowing that it’s meaningless.

By the way, the “Mexican yes” is just one example of a broader problem, which is rampant lying. This habit stems from trying to make other people feel good on one hand, and avoiding embarrassment to yourself on the other hand.

Mexicans get embarrassed a lot.

Most of the lying falls into the “little white lie” category, the fib. It’s no big thing really, but it becomes a bigger thing due to its being spectacularly widespread.

What all this means is that you often cannot depend on what people say. I am convinced this is a major factor in our not running a First-World economy, which relies on trust.

There is little trust between the Rio Bravo and the Guatemalan border. Probably not south of the Guatemalan border either, but I have never been there, so I don’t know.

I suspect this is not a Mexican thing, but a Latino thing.

But it’s not lying or lack of trust that inspires me today. It’s another Mexican habit that drives me nuts.

It’s the drop-in.

If relatives want to visit, they just do so with no warning whatsoever, and it can happen at any hour of the day or night. And they rarely do so individually or in couples.

Think groups. I call them mobs.

Do they phone first to let you know they’re on their way? Do they wait for an invite? Do they think for a nanosecond that you may be busy with someone or something else? Do they attempt not to come right at a meal time? No.

My wife says this is just part of the culture, and nobody thinks anything of it, including the recipients of the drop-in. Relatives are always welcome. Always!

I very much doubt this. I think the recipients of the drop-in often are faking it to avoid that widespread embarrassment.

We usually end our days the same way. I make a big salad for the two of us. We’re in our PJs, and we sit in our recliners upstairs, eat and watch a movie on Netflix. This rarely varies, and I do not want to hear the doorbell. It will be ignored.

We had been eating our salads for about 45 seconds last Saturday night when my child bride’s phone rang. Here we come! it was said in Spanish, the five relatives driving down from Querétaro.

They were five minutes away. They knew when they left Querétaro hours earlier that they were coming here. They surely knew the day before, but did they let us know? Of course not.

It would have ruined the drop-in!

The five of them sat in our living room for over an hour, shooting the breeze while our salads wilted upstairs. Then they got up and headed downtown at 9 p.m. to “drop in” on other relatives who had no clue they were coming either.

Actually, we got off lucky because they did not decide to spend the night on our floor. The other relatives won that prize.

The drop-in.

Living in Mexico can be a challenge.

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.

Watch your step

THERE’S A street project right off the main plaza downtown that’s been going on since last autumn, which is a long time because the renovation is just two lengthy blocks.

This project interests me, and I take a stroll by there almost every weekday after sitting at a sidewalk table with my Kindle and a café Americano negro.

In the United States, it would have been done far faster, and the entire work site would be blocked off so pedestrians and gawkers like me could not walk all over the place.

Around the workmen. Hopping over wet cement.

Here, no effort is made to keep pedestrians out of the work area, and none of the workers sports a hard hat. The main reason the project is taking so long is that there is little mechanized about it. It’s strictly manual labor.

If a passerby trips on something, falls and busts his noodle, he should have watched where he was going. He does not sue the city. We are not litigious that way.

The work started last year with an extensive excavation. New sewer and water lines were buried deep as were electric cables and wires in fat orange conduits.

Part of the reason the project is taking so long is the detail work, primarily on the sidewalks.

I should have photographed some of the detail, but I didn’t. This is fine rock work that will last a century.

There is sunken lighting for a nice nighttime look.

About the only nod to modernity are wheelchair ramps.

This photo shows the area where most of the stone is being worked to make it usable. It was a rose garden outside the church/hospital to the left before the renovation began.

Big stones are cut to size by hammer and chisel.

The scenes of the first two photos are at the end of the block down thataway, the far side.

We don’t have the reams of rules and regulations here that are so prevalent above the Rio Bravo, rules and regs made necessary by lawyers and government meddling. No environmental impact study was required.

Bugs were just squashed.

Here, if you need something done you hire some guys and do it. There are always guys available, plenty of idle hands of men who never grasped the need for schooling.

Just around the corner from the renovation I noticed this sign outside a tiny pharmacy. Look what you can have done. (Excuse the photos’ blurry edges. I had the camera set for that effect, but I did not notice till later.)

You can measure your blood sugar and blood pressure, or get a pap test.

You can get a medical certificate, maybe to get out of class. A problem with your toenails? No sweat.

A wound will be bandaged, and if you need an injection, they’ll stick you with the appropriate needle.

And all will cost next to nothing, and no pricey doctor reference is needed, but a doctor is likely there. Just go in, pay a buck or two if you want some medical advice or a prescription.

Living here is easy. Even if renovating a street takes forever. It will last forever after it’s finished.

Oh, the irony

MEXICO, IT TURNS out, is not keen on illegal aliens.

At least, the ones who want to stay in Mexico instead of doing the expected thing of riding atop a train to the Rio Bravo, jumping off and swimming across. When they do that, well, no sweat.

We rob them and screw them along the way.

The Trump Administration, a gift that keeps on giving, simply by being in office, has resulted in a significant drop in border invasions. Illegals have second thoughts. Many are detouring to Canada, thanks to young, clueless Trudeau.

But many are Hondurans who, after sneaking into Southern Mexico, are deciding to go no farther. After all, Mexico is a real step up from grisly Honduras.

As a result, crime and social problems are soaring. Surprise! So Mexico is deporting illegals back where they came from.

Sometimes diversity ain’t so sweet.

Figures show that Mexico has deported 16,332 Hondurans since January. More details available here.

Oh, the irony.

All nations need border walls.

Just like home

SEVENTEEN YEARS ago when I packed my two bags and flew to Mexico alone to reinvent myself in late middle age, I arrived in a spectacularly strange world.

Many of the things I was accustomed to simply were not available down here, and most of those things were commercial. I am a fan of capitalism and the goodies it offers.

Flash forward from 2000 to 2017 and — oh, my — how things have changed. Just about anything you can buy above the Rio Bravo is now available Down Mejico Way.

There is even a Mexican version of Amazon.com even though I much prefer our homegrown MercadoLibre.

The list of Gringo chain stores in Mexico is too lengthy to repeat here, and it seems to grow longer each year.*

I was particularly delighted when Bed Bath & Beyond, one of my favorite stores when I lived up north, opened recently in the nearby state capital. I shop there often.

There are eight BB&Bs in Mexico. Six are in Mexico City or its environs. A seventh is in Cuernavaca, the not-too-distant Mexico City playground,  and the eighth is in our capital city, the only one relatively remote from Mexico City.

Why were we chosen over the considerably larger burgs of Guadalajara or Monterrey? God knows.

Mexico commercially improves on a daily basis. You can now get most of what is available to the Gringos up north. Plus, we have great tacos, fresh avocados and beautiful babes.

Best of both worlds.

* * * *

* Very incomplete list: Best Buy, Sears, Costco, Walmart, McDonald’s, Burger King, Chili’s, Sirloin Stockade, iHop, Home Depot, Office Depot, Office Max, KFC, DQ, Starbucks.

(Note: We don’t depend entirely on the Gringos for great shopping. For example, the Mexican chain El Palacio de Hierro — The Iron Palace — will knock your high-end socks off, especially the flagship store in Mexico City’s Polanco.)

Two to tango

WE MEXICANS are really incensed. We have been disrespected, as they say in the ‘hood. Oh, the effrontery!

The pinche (look it up) Gringo President Trump wants to build a wall along the border. What a slap in our faces.

And how undeserving!

We’re mad as hell, and we’re going to stop shopping at Sears, Costco and Walmart. Of course, that would only put the Mexican employees out of work, but it’s a price worth paying, shooting ourselves in the foot.

Those of you above the border cannot imagine how insulted we Mexicans are at this wall idea. Insulted, I tell you!

Here’s a post we might have titled Border Wall for Dummies. It  is the entire nasty matter in a nutshell.

First, both nations are equally — well, almost — at fault. For decades now, both Democrat and Republican administrations have ignored or even tacitly encouraged the immigrant invasion over the southern border.

Second, millions of Mexicans have been sneaking into the United States, tunneling below ground, climbing over fences, flying in with tourist visas and overstaying, backpacking across the arid deserts, you name it.

Some have been my relatives.

And all are in the United States illegally, millions, building neighborhoods, packing “sanctuary cities,” creating Little Mexicos all over the place.

Finding enchiladas has never been so simple.

It finally reached a boiling point for U.S. citizens, and that’s what put Trump into the Oval Office.

Americans are divided almost equally into two camps. On the left are the people who croon Kumbaya, reject national borders entirely and sincerely believe that all peoples, with a tiny bit of effort, can live in eternal peace.

In spite of there being absolutely no historical evidence to support this conviction. Quite the contrary.

It is the addled Flower Power mindset of the 1960s that has filtered down through the generations, and still thrives among a healthy percentage of the population.

These Kumbaya crooners, ironically, are the ones rioting in the streets and punching Republicans in the name of love.

On the Great Divide’s other side are people who believe in borders, who know that a nation is a tribe with a common culture, language, religion, race, something that merits and requires protection.

Reams of historical evidence support this fact.

* * *  *

TWO TO TANGO

Here in Mexico, we have a couple of notorious Gringo enclaves, particularly San Miguel de Allende and Ajijic, Jalisco.

new-imageMexico’s government puts the number of Americans living in Mexico at around 700,000.*

It’s very probable the overwhelming majority are here with visas or — like me — have become citizens, although that’s not very common.

Most are spread out quietly all over the nation, and most mind their own business. Mexican law forbids them from political activity, and marching in the streets waving U.S. flags and demanding “rights” would be outrageous.

You know, like illegals do in the United States.

It would lead to deportation.

Mexicans mostly ignore San Miguel and think it’s a cute place to visit. However, if there were hundreds of San Miguels instead of one, it would be very different.

And it would require hundreds of San Miguels and Ajijics across Mexico to be comparable to what now exists in the United States, to create an equivalency.

If there were hundreds of San Miguels full of Gringos here illegally, refusing to learn Spanish, opening little businesses selling grits, ham and red-eye gravy, there would be a national outcry. We would be apoplectic!

We would go postal!

Then the shoe would be on the other foot, and Mexicans might understand President Trump’s historic trip to the White House with a tad more clarity.

No nation really wants to be multicultural. Just up to a point, it’s interesting. After that, it gets nasty.

(No nation on earth apart from the white populations of North America and Western Europe embraces multiculturalism. Just those lands where hippies reigned in the 1960s. The Soviets shielded Eastern Europe from Flower Power.)

Mexico, in cahoots with the Democrat and Republican political establishments, brought us Trump.

It takes two to tango.

* * * *

* You’ll often read that one million Americans live in Mexico. This is a myth that has existed since before I moved south 17 years ago. I find the official 700,000 number a little difficult to believe, but perhaps it includes part-timers. And perhaps I misread, and it includes all foreigners, not just Gringos.

(Note: I saw on Twitter this morning that our President Peña Nieto has announced a new program to support and facilitate continuing education for young Mexicans who return from the United States. More positive effects from Trump.

(Furthermore, about 60 percent of Mexico’s exports currently go to the United States. Mexico recently announced it will begin widening its trade with other nations. This diversification is a positive thing, bought to us by Trump. )