Tag Archives: tourism

Just a nice view

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AS I’VE MENTIONED here on occasion, we own a townhouse downtown, and we rent it to vacationers, mostly Gringos.

Shuffling through internet files today, I happened upon this photo taken six years ago, a photo I had forgotten. Our place is one of those white buildings. They almost look like they belong in Greece, I think. Nice mountains too.

We bought the townhouse in 2010 with money I inherited after my mother’s death in 2009. We purchased it as an investment with no intention of renting it, but after about two years of its sitting there, furnished and pretty, we decided to share the joy.

Turned out to be a good investment. We would have paid much less now than we paid in 2010. The dollar equivalent then was about $76,000. Now it would be about $20,000 less. Oh well, you buy your condos, and you take your chances.

But it’s worth more now than we paid, and it’s fun to have.

We also have a condo in Mexico City, which is far smaller. It was where my child bride was living when we met lo these many years ago. We just recently got the deed to that place, so we own three, free and clear.

Actually, she owns them. They’re all in her name.

I am homeless.

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.

Ride to Ucazanastacua

It’s also the road to Cucuchucho.

WE LIVE IN a beautiful area, and some spots approach spectacular, but you have to know where they are.

One is the road to Ucazanastacua.

Yesterday, while my child bride was gossiping downtown with visiting relatives, I decided to take a jaunt.

As you may know, we live near a huge, high-altitude lake. There’s a two-laner that circles that lake, and it’s a nice ride.

But there’s a nearby route that’s relatively unknown. It does not circle the lake, but it abuts it for a spell in a spectacular manner. It reminds me of Route 1 along the Big Sur coast.

Up until about eight years ago, this road was primarily unpaved, consisting of dirt and potholes, only marginally usable. In the rainy season, it was mostly mud.

Then it was paved. It remains, however, little used even though small restaurants are appearing along the way.

I snapped this through the Honda windshield. Lake is to the right.

What the above photo doesn’t show clearly is that along much of the drive, it’s a deep drop-off down to the water. And look! No traffic. On a major holiday weekend.

I did not notice the post till I got home and downloaded the photo. Silly me.
Somebody’s home down thataway.

Being Easter weekend, I spotted a number of crosses along the way. They were decked out in purple crepe paper. The below is not a cross, but it was there for Easter.

Not a cross but an arch.

I stopped at an overlook, rolled down the Honda window and shot this brief video. Bob Dylan was crooning on the car’s music machine and competing with the sound of stiff wind.

I never did get to Ucazanastacua. A sign pointed down a steep road to the water’s edge. I did go through Cucuchucho, however.

And that’s your brief tour for the day. Leave tips in the jar on your way out. A joyous Easter to you Christians. To you Jews, shame on you for what you did! Tsk, tsk, tsk.

No Easter eggs for you people.

The guitarist

EASTER WEEK, or Semana Santa, brings tons of tourists to our mountaintop town. Tourists bring money.

And street musicians hope to score some.

I was sitting yesterday at a sidewalk table with my electronic book and a cup of hot café Americano negro when this old boy appeared and struck up a tune or two.

He got 10 pesos from me, and other tables also contributed.

If I’d had my best camera, the photo would be sharper, but I did not have my best camera. Maybe next time.

Getting stoned

IF YOU’VE ever wondered what a cobblestone street in the making looks like, wonder no more. Behold!

For a few months now, major work has been under way on two streets radiating out from the southwest corner of our spectacular main plaza. It was supposed to be completed by Easter Week, but that’s not going to happen.

A major component of the labor is installing wider sidewalks. The sidewalk to the right side was about half as wide and, of course, that meant the street was wider.

Now the street will be narrower, a trade-off.

That sidewalk surface is just a concrete base now. Flat stone will be installed atop it. It will be quite snazzy.

The street itself won’t be smooth. Cobblestone streets never are, but newly installed ones are smoother than older ones.

Time takes its toll. After about a decade, driving on a cobblestone street goes something like this.

I’m not a fan of cobblestone streets. I prefer smooth concrete or, barring that, asphalt. But our town trades on tourism, and tourists like to see cobblestone streets.

They go nicely with our tile roofs of red clay.

The fact is that our mountaintop town improves yearly. And the same goes for our property values.

Down the mountain

I OFTEN refer to the capital city that sits down the mountain, about 40 minutes from here on a smooth four-laner.

We drive there at least once a week, almost exclusively for shopping. My mountaintop’s shopping is restricted mostly to tacos, tires and rebozos.

My first eight months in Mexico were spent in the capital city where I studied Spanish at a language school while living two months over a garage. I then spent another six months just walking around and living in a rented house.

I didn’t much like the town. Before moving there I read online that it was similar to the American Midwest, sorta dull. It was to Mexico what Topeka or Omaha are to America.

One day I took at bus up the mountain to visit the ancient and very different town where I’ve been a long time now. I liked it. I moved here. Been here ever since. Gonna die here.

However, in the past 17 years, the capital city has improved immensely. I would not mind living there now. I might even prefer it, but I’m not going to move.

Recently, an online piece from two years ago was brought to my attention by the inimitable Jennifer Rose. It describes our capital city in an admirable and accurate way.

Take a look. There are also great photos. The author, Stephenie Harris, claims it’s the most beautiful city in Mexico that nobody visits. And she says why she thinks that is the case.

Living with tourists

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I shot this photo on a sunny day recently.

MUCH OF MY life has been spent surrounded by tourists. There was the 18 years in New Orleans, and now the 17 years in my Mexican mountain town.

It adds up to about half my life. The rest of my adult life was spent almost entirely in Houston, Texas, which is also a swell place to live, or it was when I left.

Not too touristy though.

I also lived almost almost two years in San Juan, Puerto Rico, which is so touristy that cruise ships harbor there.

People come to tourist towns, look around, and say, boy, it must be great to live here. Guess what? It is.

I landed in New Orleans by pure happenstance. But I came to my mountain town deliberately. I will die here.

Surrounded by tourists.

Train times

WE MAY HAVE iPods and iPads and iTunes and even flaming Samsungs today, but we do not have trains. Freight trains are nice, but passenger trains are lovely.

One advantage of being vintage is that you had trains in your life, and now you have trains in your mind.

A railroad track passes directly behind the house across our street. Freights thunder by day and night. My favorite is the 5:45 a.m. Who needs an alarm clock?

Most passenger trains are gone, and we’re left with the occasional line that transports tourists. Alas.

As a child I boarded trains at the huge station in Jacksonville, Florida, and rode 200-plus miles northwest to Sylvester, Georgia, where I stepped down onto dirt.

Grandparents picked me up in an old Ford, and we drove to the farm on rutted, red-clay roads.

new-imageOne evening in 1962 a staff sergeant deposited me at the station in San Antonio, Texas, handing me a ticket and ordering me aboard.

The Air Force paid for a solo sleeper to Rantoul, Illinois. I woke the next morning and watched a forest of white-barked birch trees passing. I’d never seen birches.

Also courtesy of the Air Force, a few months later, I railed from Rantoul to the San Joaquin Valley of California, via Chicago. All the way across much of America.

From New Orleans I would ride the elegant Southern Railway to Atlanta to visit my parents. “Southern Railway Serves the South.” It surely did. But not anymore.

Traveling solo with two bottles of tequila, I rode in a sleeper from Mexico City to Ciudad Juárez. I stood outside on the bucking platform between cars and watched the desert mountains in the distance, which was romantic.

With the woman who’s now my second ex-wife, I took a train from the English Channel to Paris, and a few days later an overnight sleeper to Barcelona.

The following year found me on a train alone from Edinburgh to Inverness and a few days later, with a new traveling companion in the form of a lovely American anthropologist, aboard a train from Inverness to the craggy coast of Scotland.

From there we ferried to the Isle of Skye.

I stood outside, six days later, as my traveling companion, leaned out the train window (just like in the movies) as it pulled from the station in Chester, England, taking her to Wales. My ride, an hour later, went to London.

I never saw her again.

Again with my second ex-wife, I took a train from Los Mochis, Mexico, to Chihuahua with an overnight at the Copper Canyon. After a following night in a Chihuahua hotel, we took a jammed, third-class train to Ciudad Juárez.

That was in the 1980s, and it was my last train ride.

Any ole thing

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BEACH DENIZEN and blogger buddy Steve Cotton recently wrote about the tendency of some Mexico expatriate bloggers to run out of material, letting their blogs lie dormant.

When this happens I think it reflects a lamentable lack of imagination and/or lack of a camera.

Just this morning, while resting on the throne in the upstairs bathroom, I noticed this scene, one I spot daily about that hour. But today it hit me that it’s a bathroom scene rarely seen above the Rio Bravo, so I photographed it.

The upstairs bathroom is colonial tile, floor to ceiling. We have two other spaces that are colonial tile, floor to ceiling.

That would be the downstairs bathroom, which is far larger than this one, and the spacious kitchen.

Making this photo black and white instead of color caused nothing to be lost because the colonial tile is black and white, which was my idea. It was a favorite accent I used when I painted art furniture in a previous life.

The mirror over the sink reflects what’s behind me as I shoot the photo. The light in the mirror is on the ceiling.

So if one runs out of good material to write about, just grab the camera and shoot any ole thing. It’s fun, and then you can blab about it down below … or wherever.

* * * *

To  Mexico City!

Switching gears now, tomorrow my child bride heads off to Mexico City for three nights with a nephew, age 13.

I had planned to go too, but at the last moment I changed my mind, plus they will have more fun without the old codger in tow. It will be the boy’s first visit to the capital.

They will ride the Turibus. They will visit Chapultepec Castle. And they will spend nights at the Casa González just off the spectacular Paseo de la Reforma.

I’ve been in Mexico City a million times. It’s a hassle to get there, and it’s a hassle getting around while you’re there.

It will be the first time in almost 15 years that my wife and I have been separated more than one night.

I’ll be like a bachelor again.