Monday, April 14, 2014

"Under House Arrest"

I can't take credit for the title phrase.  Someone commented over at Steve Cotton's blog, Mexpatriate in the Key of Steve, that with all the people on the beaches for Semana Santa, that they felt they were "under house arrest".  It's a perfect description.

On Friday, our weekly newspaper had an article on the upcoming two weeks.  It explained that an anticipated 60,000 visitors would be here and therefore those of us who live here might need to make some adjustments.  The amount of parking places is not enough for all the cars, hence, could we either use the local taxis and buses, walk but please not to use our cars - especially as this week proceeds.

The hotels ALL have been fully booked for these two weeks as well, not to mention the people who are coming home from the USA who will be staying with family. Get the picture?  People and vehicle gridlock.

My idea - DON'T LEAVE THE HOUSE. It's kind of the mentality when the weather in the USA is going to be bad.  DON'T LEAVE THE HOUSE.

So, Sunday I HAD to leave the house to do some things for others that I had promised to do.  How to get there?  One road has been closed for months that caused all traffic to have to go right through the middle of centro - where the processions of several Jesus were taking place.  Nope, not going that way.  I tried a back road that if you saw a photo of it, you would swear there was no way a car could make that turn and survive.  Yup, that's the way I went.  I didn't see another car......

Just as I thought I had survived NOT getting caught in any Jesus parades on Palm Sunday, uh oh, there was one at the bottom of the steep hill, just between me and where I was going!  Oy vey.  I crept along, in the car, and managed to get to my destination before Jesus on his donkey got there.  AND I managed to get out of there before he got there!  I hightailed it home after that thanking my lucky stars that the donkey and I, along with all the people parading, had not tangled in any way.

Today, I decided to stock up on the essentials in order to NOT leave the house for several days.  First off a stop at the Blue Door Bakery for cinnamon rolls, just in case. (That is the photo at the top)  A stop in the beauty shop to get a little beauty. Then a stop at Bonanza for bread and ginger ale to go with my Capt Morgan's rum, just in case I want to toast the sunset or the birds or the flowers.  Well, you get my drift.  They did NOT have ginger ale.....darn. I wonder how it would taste with mango juice........ewwww.

It doesn't take much for me to be able to hunker down "under house arrest".  I'll let you know, in a few days, how long I've lasted.  Feliz Semana Santa.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Seen From a Different Angle

Someone posted this photo the other day on Facebook.  I clicked on it and realized it is a different angle of a view of my house!  If you click on the photo it will enlarge.

Then, if you look above the photographer's name, directly above it you will see a rust colored wall with a one story and two story house as part of the long wall.  THAT is my property.  The wall looks orange in the photo.  No matter.

I've never seen the property from this direction.  It shows me how many trees and greenery there is between the cliff and the reservoir which is called a presa in Mexico.  My view toward the presa includes the bluffs on the right side of the photo and if I turn left and look West, I see the mountain ranges to Guanajuato.  I probably look that way daily.  It's so, so beautiful

Anyway, I just thought it would be fun to share this beautiful photo that was taken in the Botanical Gardens of San Miguel.  That's something else that is so wonderful.  All the land I see that is undeveloped will remain that way since it is all reserved as part of El Charco Botanical Gardens.

I'm one lucky lady!

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

A WHOLE lot of livin' in THREE days!

Sunday dawned beautiful as always to the sound of fireworks from 6AM to 7AM.  Since daylight savings time started that morning, my body said it was 5AM to 6AM.  The reason?  Often one never knows.  However this time it was the celebration of the statue of Our Lord of the Column being carried from Atotonilco to San Miguel to begin the Semana Santa (Easter) events.

I swear every year I'm going to get up, go to Col Independencia in the dark and await the pilgrims with the statue covered in blessed silk cloths.  In fourteen years, it hasn't happened.  Maybe next year?

So now Sunday is DST.  Yippee.  My Sunday routine is to always watch CBS Sunday Morning and this morning was no exception.  I was pacing myself for the Grand Luncheon for that afternoon at Gayle's place, as we locals call it.  It's owned by Gayle.  It's fancy name is Hacienda de la Montitlan.

I forgot to take a photo of our different meals.  Either pot roast, fried chicken or salmon along with desserts being chocolate pudding cake or key lime pie or an ice cream sundae. In between that dynamic duo was home made foccaccio bread and a tasty salad along with choice of non-alcoholic drinks.

I did however get a photo of two delightful people in our party of five.  Linda and Robert who are still newly weds since their wedding was last summer.  I wrote about it when it occurred.  Quite an event!

It was a fun afternoon of seeing old friends at other tables along with oohing and aahing over our meals.

On Monday, I headed to the Koffee Klatch group with pound cake in hand to "head off at the pass" any attempt at shenanigans by the upstarts in the group.  They loved the pound cake with their cappuccinos, but
they also had OTHER ideas.  Off we went after about an hour of gabbing to Posada Carmina, where, unbeknownst to me, Ron had installed balloons on two tables which ended up seating fourteen people.

 This restaurant is right beside the Parroquia and is forgotten as a place to eat.  It was such a lovely  setting with balconies and gorgeous flowers surrounded under the portico with cantera stone columns. 
 Service was excellent.  Food was good.  It was hard to believe we were in the center of town as we felt so secluded.  The patio umbrellas are something made in San Miguel.  I remember, at least 20 years ago, heading to the airport with three of them, unwrapped, and sending them to Houston as an extra suitcase for $5USD.  Oh my, how things have changed!
Among the fourteen people at lunch who had brought all kinds of lovely gifts were the extra special couple of Dogie and Frank.  The funniest thing that happened all day was Dogie made an off color remark to my son and he turned red as a beet.  I think it's wonderful when a Southern gentleman can still blush.  Dogie got such a kick out of it because she can make her husband, of 42 years, blush often with her candid comments.  Dogie is one of a kind......A true free spirit!  An absolute delight.
The LAST birthday luncheon was today.  Two birthday girls - Shannon with the dark hair on the far right.  And myself.  Shannon is the "baby" of the group.  It's such a fun group of dynamic, accomplished, unique individuals.  In the group is a former antique mall owner from Nashville; a former teacher from North Carolina; an artist who lived in Haiti for 20 years before moving to San Miguel, where she has been 20 years.  Another, owned one of the best women's clothing stores along with an art gallery and designs jewelry here in San MIguel. Last but not least, the baby of the group is an internationally acclaimed photographer who teaches, works with kids in the campo to learn photography and holds estate sales.  She's from Canada originally.

Now, can you imagine the fabulous topics of conversation that we can cover in a couple of hours?  It revs my engine.  I always come home shaking my head at the enjoyment and information that I acquire from this group of women.

Things are now going to slow down to a dull roar.  Almost all the tourists and snowbirds are gone.  The streets are almost empty - believe it or not.  Parking places in centro are available.  Restaurants are semi-empty and we locals are clicking our heels.  The weather today - 75 degrees!  Ahhh, yes.

It's a short lived respite, as Friday night many of the public fountains and altars will be cleaned and lit for the beginning of all that is to come in the next two weeks of Semana Santa.  Some of the traditions that will be seen between now and the Pascua are over three hundred years old.  Some are very emotional and some are exquisitely beautiful.

Easter season is the most celebrated event in Mexico.  Over 20 million people will be either coming to the colonial cities for the pagentry or heading to the beach for the revelry.  Add to that the 300,000 people that are expected to come home from the USA and you've got a whole lot of moving going on.

My intention is to participate in some, close to home and not get out on the highway and go anywhere.

Indeed, with all the livin' in the last few days, a slow down is greatly anticipated.  For someone who a week ago had no intention of even celebrating a birthday, I'm sure glad I changed my mind!

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Let The GOOD Times Roll!

I had decided a week ago to let this birthday sliiiiiiiiiide.  It wasn't one that ends in O or 5, so it is kinda a non-birthday, in my humble opinion.

Besides, to me, at this point in life, EVERY day is a birth day when I can wake up still on this earth!

Then on Wednesday last week as I was leaving Centro, I was "smacked upside the head" by a procession coming down Mesones.  A procession with mariachis, family and a hearse.  They were walking to the cemetery.  Some times I need a visual image to jolt my brain and senses.  This was indeed one of them.

As I drove home, after the procession and traffic had passed, I thought, "Honey, there will be a time of NO MORE birthdays!  You better celebrate each and every one of them."  I listened to my wise psyche.

The fun began on Thursday night with the joy of accompanying my friend Billie, who writes Reservations for One, which is on the blogroll to a benefit and book reading.  What fun.  The benefit was for Mujeres en Cambio, Women in Change.  It raises money for girls in the campo for scholarships to continue their education.  The organization was started about nineteen years ago.  One of the organizers was Marge Zap who is no longer with us.  Marge was instrumental in starting several NGOs (non-governmental organizations) to benefit the Mexican citizens of Mexico.

Billie and I wined and dined and laughed at the humorous book readings.  It was a delight to see many people that we both know along with good conversations.  Thanks to Billie for that delightful event.  It was the first of several more celebrations that will last til next Wednesday!

Geez, I must be getting REALLY old if there are these many celebrations!  Tomorrow is lunch at my most favorite place to dine, Hacienda de Montitlan which is just up the hill from me.  Delicious food, awesome ambiance along with the best service in town!  Notice I used the word, dine?  Indeed this is a 4 or 5 course pre-fixe menu and it is served leisurely.  It allows for conversations that can be heard while watching the trees wave in the wind as the birds sing.  A complete dining experience.

Monday is the wacky Koffee Klatch group.  I have NOT mentioned my birthday to them in hopes that some silly hats or some other ploy won't show up at our tables.  I'm bringing a coffee cake and some Birthday napkins in order to surprise THEM!  Hopefully that will be the case.

Tuesday is lunch with another group of dear friends.  One of which has her birthday on Tuesday, while mine is on Monday.  We try, always, to get this group of compatible, interesting women together.  It's fun to hear about where they are traveling to next or what they are creating or whatever.

Wednesday will be the final celebration for me, thankfully, with lunch with a food writer.  I'm looking forward to that as his writing is delightful and witty.  I've been approached to write a Restaurant Review column for a publication, but that sounds way too much like that four letter word, W-O-R-K!

I guess the bottom line is, If you're alive CELEBRATE!  I am and intend to do more.........wish all of you were here to join me!

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

First Spring..........and THEN Scorpions!

Yes, first we have the joy of the jacaranda trees blooming, the bougainvillea bursting forth and night IT happens!

IT usually happens, for me, in the bathroom.  Why, I don't know.  I've sealed the windows.  I've checked the drain.  I think it's that there isn't a trap on the drain.  WHATEVER, it happens.

Last night while indisposed while sitting in the bathroom, I happened to look up.  Luckily, I had the light on.
THERE as big as life itself.........and, that is BIG!  was a gosh darn rust colored scorpion.  But, it was so big and kinda tucked in the area where the shower curtain hooks are located, that I wasn't sure what it was.

When I was able to get up and look at it closely, I remained calm.  Calm is a big thing for me when it comes to a scorpion.  When I first moved to San Miguel and saw the first one, I screamed so much that two of my neighbors came to see if I was all right.  I was on the roof terrace and dressed, luckily.

Anyway, remaining CALM, I went for the fly swatter.  I have many strategically placed throughout the house.
A VERY important rule.  Then I went back into the bathroom, hoping that it had not disappeared.  Those guys are so sneaky.  They can move faster then a gazelle.  Anyway, it was trying to hide itself.  Against a white fabric shower curtain, it was not possible, thankfully.

I planned my swat.  I didn't want to hit it toward me.  Heaven forbid.  I managed to knock it to the floor where I beat it to death.  Sorry animal lovers, but it was the scorpion or me.  I have been stung once by one and it was nearly as bad as passing the gall stone.  Neither of which I ever wanted to repeat.

The GOOD thing about the first scorpion of the season is this.  Now you're way more careful.  You always have shoes on, for one thing.  You never walk into a darkened room without looking around and up.  You don't pick up a towel and use  without shaking it first.  Ditto with the pockets of pants.

Then you pray for the rainy season to hurry up and get here.  You see my guess is (since scorpions don't talk) that the heat and dryness drives them inside to look for a cooler place until the rainy season comes.

Fortunately I only see them for the couple of months of the year, April and May, before the summer rains.
Of course, if I had my druthers, it would be NEVER!

In the press releases about living in this wonderful UN World Heritage site and artist's colony, I've never seen anything about scorpions.  Let me tell you this, THEY ARE HERE!

(The photo at the top of this post was taken this week.  A man from Bernal, the wool village, comes into San Miguel and sells door stops made as owls and draft stops made as snakes.  I would rather either in my house then a scorpion! )

Sunday, March 30, 2014

ALWAYS a list of blog topics!

I ALWAYS have a list of things to write blog posts about.  Sometimes I do use that list or sometimes something happens to make me change to a more recent topic.

The list as it stands now is Rolly Brook,;  Age is just a number; Employing workers in Mexico; Weather is changing; Gratefulness; and on and on.  Just about the time I work myself through the list,something else happens and I add to the possible blog post list.

Today, I'm going to write about WARS!  Not just any war but the Vietnam War.  Not a topic you would expect me to write about since usually my topics relate to my wonderful life in Mexico.  In San Miguel or whatever the heck I decide  to write about, which is usually positive.

However, something happened last night that has caused me to write this post.  I had a very deep, personal conversation with a Vietnam veteran. He is 69 years old. It was very poignant.  It was similar to many conversations I've had with many other Vietnam veterans over the years.

My connection with Vietnam vets began when I worked for Evergreen Helicopters starting in 1979 shortly after my husband's death.  Many of the pilots that I interviewed and hired had been pilots in Vietnam.  Most of them in fact, from all branches of the military.  Not only did I hire pilots but I hired avionics, A&P mechanics and all the other ancillary people needed to keep those difficult rotary wing planes in the air.

Many of them became good friends to me and to my children.  They became great friends who took them fishing or out to eat or just hung out around our house to add some male attention to their lives.  I was always grateful.  I've stayed in touch with many of them.  Some to this day are like brothers.

As our friendships grew, many confided in me, much to my amazement the horrors they had witnessed and experienced in that war.  Many had emotional issues from those experiences. They attempted to deal with them quietly and in the best way they could.  Even that many years after the ending of the war, these men were still not seen by many as heroes.  Quite the opposite.  It was so unfair.

Fast forward to the late 80's.  I met and became involved with a man who had been a POW in Vietnam for six years.  He lived in a bamboo cage for all those years of his capture.  Even though he was over six feet tall, he learned to sleep with his limbs tucked under his torso so he fit into the cage.  Needless to say, in the time we were together there were many times that these horrors came to the forefront.  He was an incredibly talented custom golf club maker and an extremely intelligent witty person.  However the demons would take over and he would disappear for long periods of time.  It was so sad to me to see the destruction of this man who was filled with guilt for his lost fellow Navy Seals and his wish that he had died with them.  His battles have stayed with me all these years in my mind.  I don't even know if he is still alive.  I've tried to find him.

There have been others and the stories are about PTSD, failed marriages, alcohol and drug abuse, disinterest from the VA, along with much, much more.  It's a human tragedy that is not over!, even now.

I once stopped and talked to men living on the streets in San Francisco.  Three of them were Vietnam vets who had no visible means of support and nowhere to go.  It made me cry, both in sadness and anger.  Many of them are still out there.

I got really mad last night thinking of all the lost years of life for all of these men who went overseas as idealists, ready to do their duty for their country, who had their lives changed, not for better by a war that wasn't even possible to win.  A disgrace, in my humble opinion.

It's no different with the recent  "undeclared wars" that have happened since then.  Lost limbs, lost lives and lost futures.  At least these recent "undeclared wars", the returning soldiers have been honored as heroes and received respect.  However, even today, there are many, due to PTSD and injuries that don't have a normal life.

I guess my bottom line is this.  WHEN are we ever going to learn that we don't have to fight battles for others at the expense of the lives of our citizens, both men and women?  And WHEN are we going to learn the ways to help those who gave so much for us?  Lip service doesn't get it.  Does it?

Saturday, March 29, 2014

"They" almost got me - IN A SCAM!

It's Saturday afternoon  Not much going on.  The phone rings.  I answer and a voice says, Aunt Barbara, this is your favorite nephew.  He said now if you don't know which one I won't be upset.  The connection was bad so I, thinking he was calling from the USA, asked why he was calling on my house phone and not my Vonage line.  "He" said he was in Mexico for a wedding and was in the process of driving to see me in San Miguel!  I was astonished.  He said he'd be here in a couple of hours. Okay...........

Then about forty-five minutes later the phone rings and it is my nephew "Gary" again.  He has been in a car accident outside Leon and hit a BMW and the child in the car has gone to the hospital.  The Federales are being okay but if he doesn't pay for the damages to the BMW he'll have to go to jail.  He said he could get 6000 pesos off his ATM card but needed at least 3000 pesos from me, maybe more.  He said he had a rental car but the insurance only covered him in Jalisco where he rented the car.  But, he pronounced it with a J and not an H. 

During all this he had me talk with a Mexican man and then an American man named Jimbo that said my nephew was in grave danger and he really hoped I could help him.  I was beginning to get suspicious for a couple of reasons.

Right before the "nephew" called the second time, my real niece, his sister, in Illinois had just posted a message on Facebook that he was in Illinois visiting his parents, my sister and brother-in-law.  So I sent her a message asking her if it were possible that Gary was in Mexico but didn't hear back from her..........

Then the third time my "nephew" called and said he HAD to get some money, I told him I'd call him back after I called a friend to see if they could lend me the money.  He gave me a fictitious phone number.  Then I called my sister in Illinois and sure enough, my nephew is there.

I ALMOST got scammed!  I've read these stories before.  And, yet, they were so smooth that they almost caught me.  At the very beginning when he said "This is your favorite nephew", I of course supplied the name!  All were English speaking with no hint of an accent.

Geez.  At one point, they said, "Don't you have at least 3000 pesos?"  I said, "NO, I live on social security.  I'm not one of the rich people in San Miguel."

It's been about an hour since this whole thing started.  Of course it's over now.  But, I thought it worthy to share with you.

The bottom line is, of course, if you hear from a relative unexpectedly - It is probably NOT a relative!