WALKING AROUND a corner yesterday, I paused to take this photo. This is the intersection of two of the streets that have been renovated here over the past couple of years, street renovation that included the rectangle around the main plaza, work that is on the verge of being completed.
After gussying up the streets and sidewalks, huge planters have been placed in some areas. Some of them have been broken by vandals, but most are intact, often with bougainvilleas like this one.
Bougainvilleas are not fond of living in planters, so we’ll see how it plays out over the long haul. This one seems happy enough.
Later yesterday, I shot the photo below. Our main plaza is full of Yule decorations, huge ones. These figures are likely ten feet tall.
The plaza has lots of such stuff. Elephants, camels, sheep and other beasts and characters, all larger than life. It’s a major tourist attraction. I don’t know what the figures below have to do with Christmas, but it doesn’t matter. They are impressive.
Santa’s trek is just days away and, about two weeks later, the Three Kings come calling and leave gifts for our Mexican kids. Santa ignores Mexican kids, but the Three Kings do not, which is why we love them so.
Their names are Gaspar, Balthazar and Melchior, and they are reputed to be very Wise Men.
STREET RENOVATION around the plaza and some connecting calles has been under way for years, and it appears almost finished.
The four sides of the plaza are done except for a small area on one corner, and they were working like mad on that late yesterday. The section in the photo is finished although it’s still not open to traffic.
I shot this scene with my phone as I was walking to the Honda to return to my hardscrabble barrio on the outskirts of town. It’s not noticeable in the photo, but city workers are busy installing Christmas lights atop the buildings facing the plaza.
And the humongous nativity scene that debuted last year (or the year before?) is going up on the plaza, off to the left of the photo. We have become very festive over the holidays since a mayor who cares about such stuff won the vote a few years ago, and was re-elected last July.
I’m not a yuletide fan due to the crowds, and “Christmas” here does not end on New Year’s Day. It soldiers on till Three King’s Day, January 6, which is when little Latino kids get their goodies.
So I don’t get to emit a sigh of blissful release on January 2, as I always did above the Rio Bravo. I have to wait till January 7 till it all settles down.
Call me a Grinch.
My second ex-wife and I were always at painful odds over the holidays due to her being a Yuletide maniac and my being, well, not. I don’t have that problem with my child bride because she’s more easygoing. She loves me in spite of my numerous social and psychological warts.
Latina women are accustomed to flawed men.
TRUTH BE TOLD, it was a walk in the plaza yesterday, not a park.
But first I sat a spell on a concrete bench drinking an agua de frutas and watching lots of children playing with toys they received Saturday morning, Three Kings Day, which is the big deal for kids in Latin America, not Christmas, which is a white folks’ fiesta.
Mostly, the children were enjoying new bicycles, scooters and roller blades, and everyone had a smile on their faces.
An exception to smiley faces were the two women in the photo above. They were sitting on the concrete bench facing me across the way.
In the other direction, a pretty girl was selling corn on the cob and potatoes.
After finishing the agua de frutas, I took a walk around the entire, humongous square, and in so doing, I noticed the final scene, which I’ve left in color. What makes it remarkable is that it’s free of power lines. I couldn’t resist that rare photographic opportunity.
It was a beautiful afternoon.
HERE WE ARE, the last day of 2017, which was a very good year for me, and I hope for you too. Let us pray that 2018 will be equally good or better.
I’ll be elated tomorrow. January First is always my favorite day of the year because it’s as distant as you can get from the next holiday season. There’s just too much hubbub here, too much traffic, too many people.
I shot this brief video — my videos are always brief — Friday evening. We’re all dolled up downtown. What you cannot see is the humongous Nativity Scene spread all over the plaza, which is over to the right. It’s so overboard that tourists come from far and wide, which was the objective, of course. Bring cash.
A few short years ago we elected a new mayor, one of many since I moved here over 17 years back. The mayors came. The mayors went. And you never noticed a lick of difference … until the last election when we elected a fellow named Baéz.
The huge Nativity Scene is, one must assume, due to Baéz. So is the massive street renovation currently under way around the plaza. Other streets downtown have been, or are in the process of being, renovated too. Lord knows they needed it.
Those Christmas lights on the buildings around the plaza are new too.
The scuttlebutt is that Baéz has wider political aspirations, state or national. That’s fine by me. In spite of his being the candidate of the leftist PRD, I voted for him due to the advice of a local sage (R.I.P.) whose knowledge I trusted.
Tomorrow I awake with a smile on my face. January First. Most of the tourists will be leaving, but we still have another week till Three Kings Day. Things won’t completely return to normal till after that. God give me patience.