Mexican life

Up in the sky

SUNDAY WAS the final installment of a three-day, hot-air balloon festival in our mountaintop town.

I shot this brief video from our upstairs terraza.

The airport, and that’s using the term loosely, rests on the edge of my neighborhood on the outskirts of town. It’s a dirt strip that goes virtually unused all year.

There is a hangar there, and a DC-9 without wings on display. A funny story that. The DC-9 was brought here on a massive flatbed tractor-trailer some years back.

It had almost completed the trip when it had to make a right turn from one highway to a lesser road just three blocks from the Hacienda. There is an incline to the roadbed and, halfway around the curve, the jet fell off the trailer.

It rolled briefly toward a carnitas stand about 20 feet away. I imagine those seconds were endless to the crew cutting carnitas. It’s not often you see a DC-9 rolling your way.

The jet was hoisted back upon the trailer and continued the short distance to our airport where it now lives.

The hangar there, the DC-9 and, previously, an ultralight service is owned by some well-off individual. The ultralight service has gone out of business due to lack of, well, business.

Once I drove over there to inquire about learning to fly ultralights, something I never got around to, and the fellow let me go inside the DC-9, which was lots of fun.

I have a private-pilot’s license though I haven’t used it since the 1970s. It never expires. I also took a number of sailplane lessons in Central Texas, but I never got that license either.

There’s something a bit unnerving about being up in a plane with no means of propulsion whatsoever.

I skydived once in Louisiana, and I went up in a hot-air balloon once in Texas. Giving my mother near heart attacks apparently was an unconscious, lifetime goal.

And then there were the motorcycles.

She’s dead now, so I’ve quit doing all that stuff.

My father could not have cared less.

* * * *

(Promo! For those of you who have not recently visited — or never have — my SlickPic photos, there is a new look and new photos. The SlickPic Gallery is where you’ll find gobs of photos of the Hacienda through the years, our Cuba visit in 2012, photos of the Downtown Casita (available on AirBnB), my art furniture, Mexico in general and, last but not least, a blow by blow — photo-wise — of the construction of our free-standing pastry kitchen.)

The Odd Pot

Papacito Day

jetSUNDAY WAS Father’s Day, of course. Unlike Mother’s Day, which falls on different days in Mexico and the United States, Father’s Day is on the same day. One wonders why.

I am a father, but my daughter has gone entirely, it seems, to her mother’s side (my first of three wives), and her mother long ago remarried, providing my daughter with a substitute, and he is a very good guy.

That leaves me, apparently, not a father anymore. I have been deleted.

That means, for me at least, yesterday was not Papa Day. It was Papacito Day, which is another matter altogether. Being a Mexican woman’s Papacito is a romantic thing. And being a Mexican man’s Mamacita is too. I am married to my Mamacita, and she is married to her Papacito.

It is not always that way. You can have a Mamacita or Papacito on the side. Even though you can get into trouble doing that, it is fairly common.

We celebrated Papacito Day by dining in a nice restaurant just outside a village near here. The restaurant has an unpronounceable name that comes from our local indigenous people. I think it’s sort of silly to put an unpronounceable name to a business, but it seems to be doing well.

eat2And here is the restaurant. It’s a humble place. The ceiling and the roof are one and the same. Beams and artificial clay tiles. A major storm erupted while we were both digging into plates of breaded fish and guacamole, and a few raindrops fell on my gray-haired head.

* * * *

So you may be asking, What’s with the airliner?

I snapped that shot on Sunday too, as we were driving to the restaurant. Our hardscrabble neighborhood on the upside of town is where you’ll find our airport. It’s a dirt strip, and walking distance from the Hacienda.

A few years back, someone started an ultralight business there for tourists to see the area from on high. In the early days, we often had two-seater ultralights over the Hacienda. But that’s kind of petered out. And we’ve had hot-air balloon festivals at that airport too. But not recently.

A couple of years ago, someone decided to buy an old Aeromexico DC-9 airliner and install it at our dirt strip, you know, just for show. Getting the airliner here was fun. Here’s what happened:

It was trucked here. The wings were removed and the tail too, leaving just the cylindrical body, which was lowered onto some monster trailer and pulled by a semi. It came from the direction of the state capital, and everything was going fine until it arrived at the turn here in our neighborhood. A DC-9 corners poorly.

At the right turn from the main highway onto the secondary road, there is a gentle incline downward, and there is a carnitas stand right on that corner, directly by the highway, and it was the eating hour.

As the airliner entered the turn, it began to roll off its trailer. It landed on the highway with a considerable thump, one imagines, I was not there, wish I had been, and began to roll toward the carnitas stand.

You can imagine the eyeballs of the fellow slicing carnitas as the DC-9 rolled toward him. It stopped just a few feet away. I happened to drive by minutes later and saw the airliner resting on the highway, which is not something you see very often, especially without blood, body parts, mangled luggage and flame-retarding foam.

To make a long story shorter, they got it off the highway somehow, and later installed it on a concrete stand at the nearby airport, and put the wings back on, plus the jet housings.

Months later, I drove to the airport, and the owner was there, the same guy with the ultralight business, and he gave me a tour inside the jet. The seats were missing, but it’s fun to stand inside a bit of aviation history.

I took this shot Sunday, and we continued on to the restaurant with the unpronounceable name, breaded fish and terrific rainstorm.

All told, it was a good Papacito Day.

And I hope I have lots more.