Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Photographing the People of Mexico

It would be easily possible to do nothing else other then photograph the amazing people of Mexico.  I've take a few pictures over the years - like thousands and thousand.

A few days ago going through boxes of photos from the time before a digital camera, it was delightful to
look at a face and remember the story.  Where I was?  What was the situation?  Did I talk with the person or people?

The photos that bring me the greatest joy are the ones of the indigenous peoples in their native dress.
I always ask..........if it is okay to take the photo.  Often, the answer is no, please don't and I respect that.

Back in the 80's, no one wanted you to take their photo.  Its not as much that way anymore.

Chiapas is a whole other world.  In several villages around San Cristobal there are signs as you enter the town telling you NO FOTOGRAPHIA.    And, they mean it.  I saw similar signs in Guatemala as well.
It's hard to not, but I don't.

Last Thursday while sitting and waiting for the parade, I caught a few people who were also waiting for the parade.  Mostly children.  But the treasure photo is an abuela (grandmother) talking to friends.  Her face just
captured me.

Hope you enjoy these few photos as much as I enjoyed taking them.

Viva Mexico!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

An Unexpected Pleasure

While sitting on the steps at the corner of the jardin on Thursday, two young women and several students in school uniforms were sitting in front of them.


We started talking.  Their vivacious personalities reminded me so much of my three granddaughters.
As we talked, I discovered that they are working and teaching at a Christian school out in the campo near
La Paz.

Analyze is 22 years old and from Ohio.  The town where Smucker's jellies and jams are made.  One of four children, she has been in the San Miguel area since July.  She had come down for a visit previously and returned to work for a year doing "mission  work", as she said.  Previously she had spent time doing the same thing in Haiti.  Wow, was I impressed.

Asher was the other young woman.  Responsible, articulate, always watching the kids, I was totally impressed in her maturity.  Asher is from Delaware and here for a year as well.

The stories of how their families have reacted to the independence of these young women to come to Mexico was intriguing.  Their commitment to living in the country and working with the kids in this
school was more then admirable.

Analyze expressed how difficult it has been not to have her car.  But, she explained, she has mastered
the "not very reliable" bus to come into San Miguel. With no phone and hardly internet service, it has to be a labor of love.

I must confess it would never have occurred to me at that age to take on the responsibilities and workload
that they have done.  It would not surprise me to see my granddaughters doing this however.  My oldest granddaughter has worked with my daughter in the summers to rebuild homes for people and all kinds of other projects.

The project is called Mission Mexico.  The name of the ranch that they live at is Rancho Mariposa.

It was such an unexpected pleasure to meet them and some of the students.  It made my day to know
students and young people with such dedication.  I certainly hope to connect with them again, soon.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Marching Along in Mexico on Revolution Day - November 20, 2014

To say that this years parade was different would be an understatement.  No little kids dressed as Pancho Villa and his sidekicks.  Little frivolity.  Kindergarteners add frivolity but only very few, like two, were in this parade this year.

Instead it was marching groups - drill teams, drummers, cheerleaders, senior citizens.............and those that were honoring the 43 students that are missing in the State of Guerrero.

Having arrived early at 10AM to be there for the 11AM parade, the sight of those wearing placards to honor the 43 were the first thing I saw.
Drumming and chanting.  Bystanders watched quietly and respectfully.  They had just walked in front of the Parroquia where banners have been placed on the fence in front at least a week ago, if not more.  You can see those placards in the first photo in the background.

After the group moved down Umuran, I went to look for a good perch where I could sit and watch the little ones come by. 
However, the group that I had seen at 10AM were leading the parade again with the drummers and chanting.
Again, the spectators stood in respectful silence.

Now I know why on any afternoon when I'm home and outside, I can hear drummers practicing, somewhere.  At least twenty drumming groups were in the parade. Of all ages and sizes.  They do love to
drum and march.
Adding to the poignancy of the parade were the special needs children.  Some walking and some in wheelchairs.  It is so touching that they are not forgotten, but get to participate like all the other kids.
Right behind the special needs kids came this truck with a beautiful elderly woman sporting a tiara.  It was lovely as she was followed by older women who were dancing!
Mexican parades are NEVER predictable.  I've never seen this group before in any parade.
In the USA in parades, it is always fancy convertibles.  This just made me laugh out loud.  It carried a precious cargo.
Two little kindergarteners busily eating fresh fruit who could have cared less that they were in the parade!

By now it was almost 1PM and I left.  And so it goes.........when I headed home at 3PM, the parade was still going on.  Women with aprons on were dancing in the street.

Marching in Mexico is for everyone!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

It's NOT Always Paradise in Paradise!

At 7:34 this morning, yes, I looked at the clock, I heard what I thought was a motorcycle revving outside my
bedroom wall.  It went on and on and on.  For once, I had decided I didn't need to fly out of bed at my usual 7:15 to 7:30 routine.

But, I was like the guy in The Christmas Story.  I flew from my bed and tore open the sash, or whatever that sentence is............I DID throw back the curtains.  That's when I saw it!

It wasn't a motorcycle but a guy in the top of the majestic eucalyptus tree on the grounds of the kindergarten going crazy with a chain saw.
Horrified, I grabbed my camera and in my big fuzzy green robe I stepped out onto the downstairs patio to take his photo.

Little "gets my dander up" like someone with a chain saw cutting down an old tree.  Honestly, if I could have knocked him out of it or could have said something to him (I thought of things to say), I would have.

The sound of a chainsaw is bad enough.  They remind me of the times after hurricanes.  After Hurricane Alicia in 1983, when I lived in Nassau Bay, that was the sound for three weeks.  The town had been built on a  former piece of property where pecan orchards had stood along with old, old cypress and oak trees.  It was so sad and discombobulating to hear and see.

The guys are still out there dismembering the stately old tree.  It's been two hours.  I know they are doing it today because the city offices are closed.  I bet money on it that they don't have a permit.  The principal of that school on various Sundays (no municipal office open then either) has managed to have  at least ten huge, old majestic trees toppled.  Aaargh.

Since this area of Mexico has been deforested,  and there are laws to prevent people from removing healthy trees, this makes me absolutely crazy.

And, it's not just in Mexico.  I've always been this way about trees.  I remember an incident when I lived in Houston.  I lived in a townhouse complex.  A resident decided he didn't like the oak leaves falling on his car so he hired some tree trimmers to get rid of this century old tree.  I DID go racing over there and in my best Spanish, stopped them from touching the tree.  I was President of the homeowners association, thankfully.

So, now, you know my weakness.  Take out a tree and you might suffer my wrath.  Ha.

Think I'm going to have to leave the house.  I can feel my blood pressure being elevated.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Street Scenes - San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

There are always soooooooo many things to photograph here in Mexico.  In fact, I usually try to keep the camera on top of all the stuff in my purse so I can get to it quickly.  Sometimes quickly isn't fast enough.

What comes to mind is the time I was leaving a restaurant and saw a camel centered in the door frame going up Correo!  I fumbled and futzed but couldn't get the camera out fast enough.  Then the elephant came by and I DID get a shot of that.  The circus was in town.  They used to parade the animals through town sans cages.  No more.  Now they go on the periphery of town, sadly, in cages.

Anyway, I digress.  It happened last Monday at the Coffee Klatch group,  I heard horses hooves.  Fumbling to get the camera out, horse with rider, after horse with rider was riding by behind the jardin faster then I could get to the camera.  Darn.  I managed to get the last two riders.  They were heading home from the big gathering near Gunajuato where thousands of riders go this time of year for a gathering and blessing.  Now to get to Guanajuato in a car takes an hour.  Can you imagine how long it would take on a horse?  I'll never find out, trust me.  My horse days are over since the last time I was at the butterfly sanctuary.  One has to ride horses up to the 10,000 overlook.........on wooden saddles.  Never again for me.
Later on that day, as I was getting in the car, I looked up at this lovely sight.  A wall with an opening, but no window.  Yes, the sky is really that beautiful shade of blue.  No industry in San Miguel.  I never tire of the color of the sky.

This shot reminds me of being in a village somewhere in the state of Veracruz once where the entire street of houses had collapsed, but the front walls were still there and the window openings highlighted the jungle
behind.  A scene I've never forgotten.

This wall is on Mesones.  One block from the jardin!  I presume the parking lot I park in was at one time a hacienda and this wall is all that is left of it.  Things are definitely built to last in Mexico, even if its just one wall.

Then on Sunday while working up on the roof terrace I looked over the wall onto the dirt path next to my house.  YES, the piles of rubble are still there.  But, a lovelier sight greeted me on Sunday morning.

It was two boys hitting a ball.  They had a bat, a ball and a mitt.   I checked on them periodically.  What fun they were having.  About two hours later, off they went, home for lunch I presume.

It's fun to watch the kids here play with so little.  Once, sitting in a nearby plaza, I watched two boys with a large empty plastic soft drink bottle play for at least an hour with that bottle.  First it was a soccer ball.  Then they pitched it back and forth.  They spun it and a myriad of other things.  Their creativity was a delight to see.

And, isn't that what its all about?  Seeing and noticing the little things as we traverse this earth.  Each and every one of the above events enhanced my life last week.  What about you?  What did you see?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Touched and Honored by Blog Readers

The day started out to be one way, and by the afternoon it has turned into a whole other plan.  Not unusual, to put it mildly.

Yesterday I was making lists in the evening of all the things that needed to be done.  Josefina and Javier were coming.  All kinds of handyman stuff for Javier and a few things for Josefina still to do in the guest house.

Then at 8:15AM this morning the phone rang.  NEVER a good thing for the phone to ring that early.  Yup, Josefina was ill and not coming.  Ok, no big deal.  I can make the bed and do the dishes in the sink that I left last night.

Javier came and we went over his list, which, to be sure he got all eight things done (which he did), he wrote it over in Spanish.  He tickled me so when I asked him to get the standing water out of the sink upstairs.  No, there is not a plug. That would be too easy.  He said, "Ahh yes, casa de mosquitoes"  Made me laugh.

What could be on the list?  Here's some of it.  Touch up the outside wall where the bulldozer threw rocks up against the rust wall and left white holes.  Knock down a hornet's nest.  NO, I don't want to know how to do that or what Javier did to get rid of it.  Pull some weeds.  Cut off a dead limb on the china berry tree. On and on and on.  He loved that he had a written list and didn't have to remember all those things, he told me.

Then I got a call telling me there was NOT going to be the delightful Revolution Day parade today.   I didn't believe it. Every parent and cab driver I asked last week said it was today.   Knowing it has been a three day holiday, I did something I seldom do, I took the taxi to the centro.  A darn good thing.  EVERY parking lot was full.  You can tell when that has happened.  They close their doors.

Went to the Farmacia Ahorra to pick up meds.  Now many stores have a card that you use and ostensibly it is worth something, but I never knew until today what it was for.  The pharmacist rang up my meds and then told me there was enough credit on that card to get them for free!  Woo hoo.  A gift.

That started this part of the day on a good note.  Happily I headed to meet the coffee klatch group who was hanging on the edge of the cafe as the whole town is and was FULL of tourists.

No parade today.  Bummer.......but I didn't let them dampen my enthusiasm for the next event to come.

At 12:30 the plan was to meet a couple from Santa Monica California who have read the blog for many years.  They have communicated with me via comments and emails.  Today we FINALLY met.  How delightful! 
We only got to spend two hours together, unfortunately, but it could have been two days.   I don't think we would have run out of things to talk about.  I so hope that Rick and Lily return again another time.  It appears they will.

It's been an enchanting time the last month.  I've met two other couples as well.  One couple from near Laguna Beach, California along with two others from Cleveland Ohio and Mexico City.  Again, upon meeting it was as though we had known each other forever.  It's a surreal feeling.

I'm so touched and honored when people take the time to want to meet.  It enriches my life to put a face to all the comments.  A really interesting phenomena.

As always, life is good.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Traveling the Back Roads of Mexico!

Nothing makes my heart sing more then to be on the back roads of Mexico!  To see the horizons, the fertile land with brocolli or maize or whatever that is planted for as far as the eye can see and to see the people. 

The last few days I've been on the road for brief periods.  Over to near Delores Hidalgo for some talavera pots to replace some rusted buckets on the roof terrace.  In the distance were rolling thunderclouds.  The mountains were misty so I knew the rain was imminent.  Indeed, before I got back to San Miguel we had a lovely rain shower for a few hours.

Gratefulness flooded me as it tamped down the dirt that has surrounded the house, me and Velcro's paws.
Yes, there have been little dirt prints in the house lately. 

Then yesterday, I headed over to Celaya for shopping at Walmart, Home Depot and Costco.  A stocking up trip so I can be ready for Christmas baking in a few weeks among other things.  Necessary things like plant food and concrete nails.  A ham for a gathering.  Stuff like that.

The drive was exquisitely beautiful as always with the planted fields everywhere.  In addition, the yellow daisy wildflowers are still blooming.  So tall as to almost be a boundary marker for the fields.  It is interesting how that drive is so relaxing.  No towns to drive through so its all countryside.

One new addition to the drive is a huge vineyard.  All the stock is planted on rolling hillsides.  Quite lovely.
Many vineyards growing in this area now.  Close to ten.  The soil and atmosphere here is perfect for grapes.
Think Napa, or, don't laugh, Texas Hill country, which has won many awards. 

A few weeks ago I was on the back roads around San Miguel.  Get away from centro in the colonias  and there can be all kinds of sights to see.
I was passing through Colonia Obraje when I caught sight of something moving in the distance.  At that time I wasn't quite certain what I was seeing.
By now I could see that it was someone hauling chairs down the cobbled road toward San Miguel and the centro.  Either to a store or a home, but since unpainted or unstained, probably a store.
Six chairs being hauled to market!  So many memories flooded my mind.  IF I were still in business, I would have stopped the man and asked where his taller was, what he made and what were the prices. 

There were times in the past, especially over in Michoacan, when I have followed a truck until it stopped to find out where the beautiful things were coming from.  Many a day was spent meeting these amazing craftsmen and women along with seeing their creations.

One of the most amazing stories goes way back into the late 70's when I met Bustamante in Tlaquepaque selling his surreal work.  He didn't have the fancy shops that he has now but was sitting on a wall with his work spread out around.  We talked for quite a while.  To be truthful, I had never seen anything like his work and was so intrigued.  He asked if I wanted to go to his taller to see more.  Of course I said, "Yes". We rode in his old beat up pickup truck to his taller.  It was like being on another planet.  Surreal work everywhere.

Of course today, I couldn't afford any of his work.  His well designed boutiques are not only in Mexico but I've seen them in the USA as well. 

Then there is the memory of my buying clay pots down in centro in San Miguel.  The owner said he would have his man deliver the six large pots that I purchased to my home.  Of course, I thought he had a truck.
Next thing I see as I look out the window a few hours later is an ancient man coming up the steep cobbled road with the pots on his head!  It was a sight that was hard to believe.

Maybe that is why I'm still so happy to be here.  Just when I think I've seen a lot, something else either surprises me since I"ve never seen it before or something I see brings back sweet memories.

Viva Mexico!