Tuesday, July 28, 2015

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico is being "Loved to death"

 On the weekends, the streets of San Miguel in centro have been turned into walking streets.  That has been wonderful.  Centro is so full of tourists that all the hotels, restaurants, parking lots and stores are packed.
I'm not exaggerating at all.  The jardin is full of milling tourists - 99% Mexican nationals.

I laugh when people talk about how many gringos live in San Miguel.  If you lived here you would instantly recognize that we are definitely the minority.  Many of the places I go, I'm the only ex-pat there.  Truly.
 These two photos are of Relox street that eventually intersects with the jardin.  Usually the street is full of vehicular traffic and one cannot stop to take photos of beautiful balconies such as these.  With the streets closed so people could walk around, I was able to get these two photos last week.

The amount of tourists are in direct correlation to the fact that, as the taxi drivers say, as they roll their eyes, "It is vacation"  but the way they say it they drag the word out.  You see, with all the vehicular traffic on the streets that aren't closed, it is total gridlock.  Therefore the taxis are making less, because they can't get anywhere very quickly.  I used a taxi last Saturday night to go to a concert where the entire two hours was the best jazz and blues I've heard in years.  All honoring BB King.  It took the taxi twenty minutes to get from my house to the Bellas Artes.  It is usually a five minute taxi ride.  When I left the performance and needed to get a taxi, I luckily got one immediately.  Something that rarely happens anymore.  One can wait as much as twenty or thirty minutes to get one.  Not good.

Sunday I couldn't get a taxi for up the hill and a store owner noticed me standing there a long time, offered his car! and drove me up the hill.  I was shocked and grateful.  He complained all the way up the hill about the amount of people in town, the traffic, and oh yes, that his white poodle had been stolen.  I commiserated with him all the way up the hill.  Now I know why I avoid centro on the weekends.  It's a madhouse.
 So, I've been spending more time up here on the hill.  The family above discovered the presa while out on a hike with their two children.  It was lovely to see.  It's been a peaceful, enjoyable time to be up on the roof terrace between rain storms.  Great place to read and also, ahem, to siesta.
 While school has been closed, an elderly painter has been busy at work repainting the figure of Montes de Oca on the front of the school.  He has been standing on a ladder that I've been sure would collapse at any minute.  But, so far, that has not happened, yet.
The piece de resistance however, has been this lovely rendition of my view of the canyon!  The previous mural of the children playing is gone which I so enjoyed.  But, I really think this is wonderful as well.

School does not reopen until some time after the tenth of August.  Many people in town, locals, both Mexican and gringos, are holding their breath waiting for town to return to some semblance of normalcy.

For a few weeks at least.  Until the celebrations of independence in the middle of September that go on til the end of September.  Then we will be inundated again.  Yes, San Miguel is being "loved to death".

Monday, July 27, 2015

Sebastian Woodrow

This photo taken on Saturday morning of Sebastian Woodrow makes me giggle each time I look at it.  All boy!

Armed with his new water gun, or squirt gun, whatever you want to call it, he is also outfitted with his goggles that he received last Christmas and his bug catching kit that he got recently.  All his favorite things.

Once he got the water pistol and received admonishments from his Dad as to who or what could be shot with water and who or what could not, Sebastian went upstairs to his room to get the bug kit and goggles.
He obviously meant business.

I could hardly contain my joy at the sight of him as he was outfitted to go into the jungles of the courtyard outside his house.  Anything that didn't move or did was fair game.

Here were some of the admonishments:

No shooting your sister in the face.
No shooting Scout, the dog, when he is in the house.
(Scout wisely stayed IN the house)
IF you shoot a bear, then this water gun is a tranquilizer gun and call
me outside.
IF you shoot a bug, put it in your bug carrying case.

Off he went in search of.............a bear, of course!

With a name like Sebastian Woodrow, Seb as he is called by his sister, has a lot to live up to.  He takes that very seriously too.  With the most amazing imagination and inquiring mind, one never knows what he is going to say or do next.

When I said to him on Saturday morning, "Oh Sebastian, I'm so glad to be here to have breakfast with you", he quickly corrected me and said, "Grammy, it is brunch because we are having pancakes and tuna fish sandwiches".  Luckily, I did not have to have a tuna fish sandwich after the pancake.

Then when he was outside mutilating the flowers and anything else that was not moving in the garden with the force of the water, he was singing.  His father informed me that he was singing in the language that he has invented!

His creativity and imagination could give him the nickname of the Steven Spielberg of San Miguel.  I so hope I live to see what he becomes later in life...........and that his imagination and intelligence is nurtured forever. At five years old, he IS a force to be reckoned with........

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Lightning, Thunder and Rain, Rain, Rain

 Our "usual" rainy season in San Miguel begins mid June and goes through mid to end of September.
NOT this year.  It started in January or February and has rained off and on.  Highly unusual.  Highly.

By this time of the year we usually have maybe,6 or 8 inches.  NOT this year.  At present, after last
night's storm of all storms, at my house it is close to 25 inches!

About two or three weeks ago, I began to hear the waterfall coming down the canyon wall from the dam above in the Botanical Garden.  The presa (reservoir) has been full to overflowing already.  Highly unusual.
This does not usually happen until mid September or so.
Also highly unusual has been the number of electrical storms with big booms of thunder and lots of lightning.

In one storm last week, it went on for hours.  Last night it was close to two hours of continual lightning and thunder.  It did not end until around midnight.  The thunder had started at about 3:30PM yesterday afternoon!  Highly unusual.
While I was out yesterday, I crossed the bridge at the bottom of the presa and was astonished at the river that is rushing through where it usually is just an arroyo with a bit of water, if any.  As I sit here and write, I can hear the rushing water at my house.......a good eight blocks away.

Locals are beginning to complain.  An avid tennis player said yesterday that he had only played once or twice since April.  Golfers are complaining as well.   However, I'm hoping that the farmers are happy.

The corn crops are outstanding.  So are all the other things grown in this area for export.  The wildflowers are higher then the top of my Pathfinder!  Add to that the birds and butterflies are soaring and flitting and loving the cool fresh air and the flowers that are blooming profusely.

Happy days.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Still on My Mind

Two things happened yesterday that are still on my mind.  Both were lovely, positive experiences.  No photos, but sharing the experiences might highlight your day as it did mine.

Arriving at Don Tomas on the jardin for our Monday morning gathering, the place was packed with people in town for the international film festival.  It was a surprise to see so many people still around.  Therefore there were no chairs or tables available outside or inside.  Waiting for a while with others, I spotted a table that was not being used next to a couple.  Timidly, I walked up and asked in my pitiful Spanish if it would be possible for us to use that table.

Imagine my surprise when the man responded in perfect English!  Born in Mexico City, he has lived in the USA, Kansas City, since he was seven years old.  He said of course we could have the small round glass topped table and as I started to lift it, he told me that he and his friend, a surgeon from DF, would move it for me.   Aaah, a gentleman.  They did move the table.

Then a young man around twenty years old who was sitting on a chair, told me we could have their chairs as I protested, "Oh no".  Not only did he give us their chairs, he got one more from another part of the patio and brought it to the table.  I was overwhelmed at their kindness and manners.

Mexican Nationals nine times out of ten will make me feel as though I'm an honored guest, no matter where it is.  I couldn't thank them enough.

Once we were settled the first man from Kansas City struck up a conversation and asked several questions after he had introduced all at his table to us.  I finally asked what his occupation was in Kansas City and he told me that he owned several restaurants.  Ahhh, then the conversation went on for quite a while.  At some point he said, "You are blessed to have so many friends"  By now there were about ten of us around this one tiny table.  I smiled.

Leaving that experience which was still in my smiling mind, I headed to Mega for groceries.  It had been several weeks since I had purchased groceries so it was a long, up and down each aisle, shopping excursion.
At the front of the store there were many people in each line to pay for their groceries.  I found a line and waited.  By now my bad knees were telling me to hurry up.

Just about the time I reached the place to put the groceries on the conveyor belt, a manager came up and said he was going to close that aisle and I would have to go to another line.  I looked over at all the lines with four or five people in the lines and knew I couldn't stand much longer.  So, I did something I've never done before.  I told the manager I have bad knees and would it be possible for me to be the last customer in this line.  He agreed!

Not only did he agree, but he helped me load the groceries on the conveyor belt and then once that was done, he went to the other side and helped the clerks bag my groceries. Stunned does not possibly explain how surprised this experience was for me!

Two acts of kindness in one day.  Wow!  I came home smiling and grateful for the civility and Old World manners of men in Mexico.  Add to that that I'm grateful that I notice these acts of kindness.  It makes life so worthwhile.

Monday, July 20, 2015


It is fascinating how people cross your path, one way or the other, and change your life forever.  Writing the blog has done this many times over for me.  Meeting people who write has turned into delightful friendships.

Enter Todd McIntosh and Shannon Casey - husband and wife.  I met the two of them when they still lived in Patzcuaro but came often to San Miguel for visits.  What a delightful, exuberant and vivacious couple they are to know.

Then about five years ago, while Shannon was trying to save a hummingbird that had flown into their high ceiling living room, she fell off a very tall ladder causing multiple injuries which, so far, has required EIGHT surgeries.   The first few surgeries in Morelia were not adequate so she and Todd sought out the well respected orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Schmidt in Queretaro.  There have been several procedures under his capable hands. Todd wrote about this event on his blog, Life in El Corazon in 2010. 

In order to facilitate all of this, Todd and Shannon sold their home in Patzcuaro for the funds necessary for those operations and moved to San Miguel to be nearer to Dr. Schmidt.

Then in May, another boom.  Shannon found out she had stage 3 cancer! Mixed malignant mullerian tumor (MMMT)  Even though they had signed up for health care in Mexico, it is not all covered by the plan.

Just  imagine the shock when they found out that each necessary chemo treatment would require an additional 15,000 pesos.  They need help.  The funds they had for the previous surgeries have depleted all their operating money.

A website for receiving funds has been set up called Cash for Chemo.  The link is https://life.indiegogo.com/fundraisers/cash-for-chemo.    Please give if possible.  It would be greatly appreciated by this kind and needful couple.

If you're interested in reading Shannon's blog, it is Rat Race Refugee. Both are on my blogroll.

There will be a fundraiser on Friday, August 14th at  La Noche Piano Bar on Zacateros in San Miguel de Allende. I'm working on this event that will have donated items for sale and a fun night for all with great music.  Hope to see you there. More on this as the details are solidified.  

Thanks for taking time to read this and helping, if possible.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

WHAT to write about?

Some people say to me that they don't write a blog because they wouldn't be able to think of enough things to write about on a regular basis.  I have the opposite experience.

Today it seems there are too many things I want to write about - such as, GIFF, the international film festival in town til Wednesday.  Then there are more haciendas to share photos of along with murals that have been recently updated at the school across the way!  Books I've recently read and enjoyed immensely could be a topic since I want to tell you about Eric Larson's new book, Dead Wake about the sinking of the Lusitania.
In addition, I've wanted to write about "remittances", which most US citizens are not even aware of along with some details about El Chapo and cartels.  I don't write political blogs although I often have to restrain myself from expressing my thoughts about things such as Trump and Rove.

But, it's Sunday and I don't want to write anything that is not kind. So, no political post.  Or the other topics.

Rather, I'll just share photos taken on Friday, the day the GIFF started.  It was enjoyable to see so many of the first comers in town.  By the end of the festival on Wednesday, it is estimated that 30,000 people will have come to San Miguel for the event. 
Film stars of the Mexican cinema are being honored.  Turkey is the country being honored as well.  Venues include the area where these photos were taken.  Chairs will be set up for free viewings and concerts.  In addition Bellas Artes, Theatre Angela Peralta and the Santa Ana theater in the Bibliotecha will be showing films.There are even some events at the Cinemark theater at the mall on the outskirts of town.

The photo above made me chuckle as the man is feverishly painting the ticket booth so it can open any minute to sell tickets.  Notice the red paint running down his painting arm.
 While that was going on this immense truck pulled up.  I've never seen anything like it in San Miguel before.
The projection booth for the screening of the films in the jardin was to be lifted off the bed and stood erect
in front of the Parroquia.
 Getting it down and in place took only about 15 minutes!  Amazing.  In the background you can see scaffolding where one of the statues is being repaired.  Of course, the guys all the way up there have no safety equipment on.......
 And, here stands the sign explaining what is going on to those who have no idea.
Humorously, the painter no sooner walked off then people started buying tickets.  Hopefully no red paint descended on their heads.

Many of the streets in centro were closed for the weekend.  "Traffic jam" took on a new meaning.  Stages had been set up for events and presentations.  Red carpets had been laid..........and I decided to stay up on the hill after I attempted to get out of centro once I had taken these photos. 

As always, my Friday "bench time" was not dull.  It's always something in Mexico!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Hacienda Jaral de Berrios - Guanajuato Mexico - Interior Shots

Sometime in the last ten  years, I was lucky enough to have gone to Hacienda Jaral de Barrios, Hacienda La Quemada, Hacienda San Jose and Hacienda Trancas, many times.  Without thinking about it from a time span perspective, I took photos.  Today I'm so glad I did.

After visiting Jaral de Berrios last week, it was apparent that the demise of the interior has been ongoing during the time span since my last visit.  Here are photos taken about ten years ago of interior wall and ceiling decorations.  They are quite spectacular.
 All of these photos were taken on the second floor.  The above one, if I remember correctly, was taken at the front of the house and had natural light from windows.
 The stenciling and painted walls were exquisite irregardless of some decay.
 This fresco surrounding by broken tile is exceptional.  Try clicking on the photos to see if they will
enlarge.  I'm not sure if they will or won't.
 This was a canopy of silk that covered a large ballroom ceiling.  Exceptionally beautiful.
 The rotunda in the stairwell leading to the second floor not only had a skylight, but also windows looking out over the lands in the back of the building.  Lovely.
 This mural was a surprise and quite well executed.  The colors were still intense.
This photo is one of my all time favorites that I have ever taken.  All the textures of the white silk wall paper peeling from the wall against the exterior stone wall and the black wrought iron.  There was no ceiling left in this room.  I don't know what shape it is in now.  I did not go to the second floor on this trip.

Can't you just imagine the opulence of this house at one point.  It is written that at some time in history, the owner of this house at the time, was one of the richest men in the world!  It is totally  obvious from these photos......