Were I a young buck, this would not be so many years, but I am an old moose with mossy horns. The years are plenty.
I stumbled thorough most of life with no intention of leaving the land of my birth. Georgia rednecks don’t move to Mexico. It was only within a year of moving that I started to think about it.
And then, within a one-month span, I dumped almost everything, got on a plane and came on down. For the first nine years, while my decrepit mother was still alive, I averaged one trip back a year, usually about a week.
I returned only once following her death in 2009, a few months after, and I’ve never been above the border since. I don’t miss it, and as time passes, I miss it even less.
From what I read on Gringo internet forums and websites, most everyone who “moves” to Mexico, be it for retirement or, much less often, to work, the draw of the Old Country is powerful. People can’t let go, and return often.
It appears compulsive, but it’s likely grandchildren.
Don’t tell my wife, please, but I have no intention of ever crossing the Rio Bravo again. I say don’t tell my wife because she really likes it up there, and dreams of another visit.
I have no tight family ties there — wish I did — so here I am, alone with a pack of Mexican relatives, including a number who’ve been illegal aliens above the border.
I speak Spanish almost exclusively. I live in a big Hacienda on what’s just above the U.S. poverty-income level, an interesting phenomenon since I’ve never felt richer in my life.
Can’t help but wonder what percentage of my life will have passed as a Mexican when it comes to a halt. No matter.
THIS APPEARS to be a bedroom. There’s the antique bed that’s been neatly made up. There’s an armoire to the right.
And an apparatus to repair flat tires rests in the foreground, and an electric welder sits between the bed and the armoire which has a picture of Jesus attached.
Someone repairs auto tires and does welding to boot. It also appears to be Home Sweet Home.
The bedroom/business is open to the street. The only thing separating it from the sidewalk is an old, chain-link fence. There’s a makeshift roof overhead. A good night’s sleep would be a challenge beneath rain, lightning, thunder.
Strung vertically is a line with cloth that can be pulled down to make a curtain to hide the sleepyhead from people passing by on the sidewalk late at night.
I snapped this photo through the chain-link fence. There was no one home at the time. Or at work either. It was late Friday afternoon. Perhaps he was out for a beer.
Odds are that this fellow is not married. He appears to be a hard worker. Neat too. He makes up his bed.
Last January, a nephew discovered he had cancer. The problem began when testicular cancer was misdiagnosed as a cyst.
The testicular cancer, untreated, spread to his lungs, and that’s when the problem was discovered. The cyst diagnosis had come from a doctor practicing at a generic drugstore.
Mexico is chockablock with doctors, and many find work at drugstores, charging about 20 pesos a diagnosis. While this may not be a bad option for minor, routine ailments, I wouldn’t count on it for anything potentially serious.
The drugstore option is used primarily by folks who are financially challenged. That would be our nephew.
He is 31 years old, married, two great kids, 10 and 6, and few real occupational skills. His father — my wife’s brother — was murdered by a lunatic when our nephew was a toddler.
His mother died a decade later due to diabetes, which she simply ignored until it killed her.
The nephew was 14, and his brother was 16 when mom died. They have been on their own ever since.
The testicular cancer has been removed. The lung cancer is more stubborn, but test results have been going in the right direction. By sheer luck, he had health insurance from a job driving a wrecker on the autopista near here.
He has been receiving chemotherapy at a government hospital in the nearby state capital. This has been going on for the past year. At first, we were part of a group of friends and relatives who ferried him to these sessions.
He has no car.
But, in time, the others have dropped out. Now it’s just us. Once a week. Some weeks on, some weeks off.
* * * *
In addition to this traditional treatment, he is also going to a witch doctor. At least, that’s what I call him. Others call him a practitioner of alternative medicine.
The witch doctor was recommended by another aunt and, unfortunately, he is not located in the nearby state capital but hours away in the City of Querétaro.
Once a month, the nephew travels to Querétaro by bus, leaving early in the morning, and returning late at night. The witch doctor is not cheap, and he prescribes all manner of medicines, none of which is covered by the health insurance.
My wife and other aunts pay the witch doctor.
The nephew has more faith in the witch doctor than he does in the oncologist at the government hospital.
The test results have shown a good bit of improvement over the year, but the lung cancer is not in remission.
I hope for the best while thinking of Steve McQueen.
This lovely photo of the upstairs terraza was taken years ago, but don’t be fooled. It’s the worst spot of the house.
Doing a 180, and taking another shot, you get this below, which was taken within the last year.
The chairs are the same, but the table now lives on the balcony of our downtown Casita, and the umbrella rotted from blazing sun and scorching heat.
For years I had a hammock under the roof tile, which covers a small percentage of the overall terraza, but in time I found myself rarely using it, so I gave it away.
Nowadays nobody goes out there much. No plant survives there except for cacti. Due to the floor being too level, a pond lives out there, ignoring the drain holes, covering about a fifth of the area, through the five rainy months.
A few years ago, a big section of the ceramic floor buckled from the heat and sun, and had to be replaced.
The spot should have been planned better during the construction, but it wasn’t. A darn shame. Mistakes happen when you’re too cheap to hire an architect.
Can’t let a post slip by without a political element, at least not these glorious days.
Fidel Castro died. This may be the best month in decades. First, Donald Trump wins. Then Castro dies. Some are suggesting a connection, but I doubt it.
I was saddened, but not surprised, to see Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto expressing sorrow for the pendejo’s overdue death. I voted for Peña Nieto.
(For a long spell, since turning my politics rightward about a decade ago, I have been a bit perplexed by my aversion to some elements of traditional conservatism.
(This column clears it up for me. It was written by two young men, Milo Yiannopoulos, the self-described “dangerous faggot,” and Allum Bokhari, a Breitbart correspondent who lives in London. Yiannopoulos is also British-born.
(You may have heard of the Alt-Right, the alternative right. There are two versions of the Alt-Right, the extreme and the moderate. The latter makes sense to me. The former does not. Fortunately, the moderate wing is far more populated.
(I am pleased to come out as a “natural conservative” and, it appears, a moderate Alt-Righter.)
* * * *
NATURAL CONSERVATIVES are mostly white, mostly male, middle-American radicals, who are unapologetically embracing a new identity politics that prioritizes the interests of their own demographic.
In their politics, these new conservatives are only following their natural instincts — the same instincts that motivate conservatives across the globe.
Noted social psychologist Jonathan Haidt described the conservative instinct in his 2012 book The Righteous Mind.
The conservative instinct, as described by Haidt, includes a preference for homogeneity over diversity, for stability over change, and for hierarchy and order over radical egalitarianism.
Their instinctive wariness of the foreign and the unfamiliar is an instinct that we all share – an evolutionary safeguard against excessive, potentially perilous curiosity – but natural conservatives feel it with more intensity.
They instinctively prefer familiar societies, familiar norms, and familiar institutions.
An establishment Republican, with their overriding belief in the glory of the free market, might be moved to tear down a cathedral and replace it with a strip mall if it made economic sense. Such an act would horrify a natural conservative.
Immigration policy follows a similar pattern: by the numbers, cheap foreign workers on H1B visas make perfect economic sense. But natural conservatives have other concerns: chiefly, the preservation of their own tribe and its culture.
For natural conservatives, culture, not economic efficiency, is the paramount value. More specifically, they value the greatest cultural expressions of their tribe.
Their perfect society does not necessarily produce a soaring GDP, but it does produce symphonies, basilicas and Old Masters. The natural conservative tendency within the Alt-Right points to these apotheoses of western European culture and declares them valuable and worth preserving and protecting.
Needless to say, natural conservatives’ concern with the flourishing of their own culture comes up against an intractable nemesis in the regressive left, which is currently intent on tearing down statues of Cecil Rhodes and Queen Victoria in the UK, and erasing the name of Woodrow Wilson from Princeton in the United States.
These attempts to scrub Western history of its great figures are particularly galling to the Alt-Right, who in addition to the preservation of Western culture, care deeply about heroes and heroic virtues.
This follows decades in which left-wingers on campus sought to remove the study of “dead white males” from the focus of Western history and literature curricula.
An establishment conservative might be mildly irked by such behavior as they switch between the State of the Union and the business channels, but to a natural conservative, such cultural vandalism may just be their highest priority.
In fairness, many establishment conservatives aren’t keen on this stuff either — but the Alt-Right would argue that they’re too afraid of being called “racist” to seriously fight against it. Which is why they haven’t.
Certainly, the rise of Donald Trump, perhaps the first truly cultural candidate for president since Buchanan, suggests grassroots appetite for more robust protection of the Western European and American way of life.
* * * *
The rise of Donald Trump suggests grassroots appetite for more robust protection of the Western European and American way of life.
* * * *
Alt-Righters describe establishment conservatives who care more about the free market than preserving Western culture, and who are happy to endanger the latter with mass immigration where it serves the purposes of big business, as “cuckservatives.”
Halting, or drastically slowing, immigration is a major priority for the Alt-Right. While eschewing bigotry on a personal level, the movement is frightened by the prospect of demographic displacement represented by immigration.
The Alt-Right do not hold a Utopian view of the human condition: just as they are inclined to prioritize the interests of their tribe, they recognize that other groups – Mexicans, African-Americans or Muslims – do the same.
As communities become comprised of different peoples, the culture and politics of those communities become an expression of their constituent peoples.
You’ll often encounter doomsday rhetoric in Alt-Right online communities: that’s because many instinctively feel that once large enough and ethnically distinct enough groups are brought together, they will inevitably come to blows.
In short, they doubt that full “integration” is ever possible. If it is, it won’t be successful in the “Kumbaya” sense. Border walls are a much safer option.
The Alt-Right’s intellectuals would also argue that culture is inseparable from race.
The Alt-Right believe that some degree of separation between peoples is necessary for a culture to be preserved.
A Mosque next to an English street full of houses bearing the flag of St. George, according to Alt-Righters, is neither an English street nor a Muslim street — separation is necessary for distinctiveness.
Some Alt-Righters make a more subtle argument.
They say that when different groups are brought together, the common culture starts to appeal to the lowest common denominator. Instead of mosques or English houses, you get atheism and stucco.
Ironically, it’s a position that has much in common with leftist opposition to so-called “cultural appropriation,” a similarity openly acknowledged by the Alt-Right.
It’s arguable that natural conservatives haven’t had real political representation for decades.
Since the 1980s, establishment Republicans have obsessed over economics and foreign policy, fiercely defending the Reagan-Thatcher economic consensus at home and neoconservative interventionism abroad.
In matters of culture and morality, the issues that natural conservatives really care about, all territory has been ceded to the Left, which now controls the academy, the entertainment industry and the press.
For those who believe in the late Andrew Breitbart’s dictum that politics is downstream from culture, the number of writers, political candidates and media personalities who actually believe that culture is the most important battleground can be dispiriting.
Natural liberals, who instinctively enjoy diversity and are happy with radical social change – so long as it’s in an egalitarian direction – are now represented by both sides of the political establishment.
Natural conservatives, meanwhile, have been slowly abandoned by Republicans — and other conservative parties in other countries. Having lost faith in their former representatives, they now turn to new ones — Donald Trump and the alternative right.
There are principled objections to the tribal concerns of the Alt-Right, but Establishment conservatives have tended not to express them, instead turning nasty in the course of their panicked backlash.
National Review writer Kevin Williamson, in a recent article attacking the sort of voters who back Trump, said that white working-class communities “deserve to die.”
Although the Alt-Right consists mostly of college-educated men, it sympathizes with the white working classes and, based on our interviews, feels a sense of noblesse oblige. National Review has been just as directly unpleasant about the Alt-Right as it has, on occasion, been about white Americans in general.
In response to concerns from white voters that they’re going to go extinct, the response of the Establishment — the conservative Establishment — has been to openly welcome that extinction.
It’s true that Donald Trump would not be possible without the oppressive hectoring of the progressive Left, but the entire media is to blame for the environment in which this new movement has emerged.
For decades, the concerns of those who cherish Western culture have been openly ridiculed and dismissed as racist.
The Alt-Right is the inevitable result.
No matter how silly, irrational, tribal or even hateful the Establishment may think the Alt-Right’s concerns are, they can’t be ignored, because they aren’t going anywhere.
As Haidt reminds us, their politics is a reflection of their natural inclinations.
In other words, the Left can’t language-police and name-call them away, which have for the last twenty years been the only progressive responses to dissent, and the Right can’t snobbishly dissociate itself from them and hope they go away either.
AS OFTEN as one sees it, and that is too often, it’s hard not to roll one’s eyes at the ongoing response from “Democrats” to the victory of President-Elect Trump.
This morning I read a post from a left-wing blogger, a Cuban immigrant to the United States who’s now retired and living in the Gringo haven of San Miguel de Allende.
He will remain unnamed to avoid embarrassing him.
It was the same old stuff. Trump is a racist, misogynist, hater of gays, fascist, well, you know the long, familiar, silly list. And that Trump’s election spells the end of days.
The Earth has veered off course.
All of these epithets, of course, fly directly in the face of reality. Trump waved the Rainbow Flag during the campaign, never uttered a word against women or minorities,* but leftists have become so accustomed to hurling epithets that they simply don’t know how to apply the brakes.
It’s what they are: profanity, epithets and violence. It is the logical result of the politically correct obsession.
Trump, a guy from Queens, ran a bare-knuckle campaign, and it worked. Four years ago, Romney ran a cocktail-party campaign, and he lost. You cannot be polite facing today’s “Democrat” Party and have a prayer of winning.
After Nov. 8, Trump immediately halted the bare-knuckles approach, and now comports himself as a statesman. Polls indicate his likability has risen since his victory.
He’s named two women,** one a “minority,” to his Cabinet so far. There goes the misogyny and xenophobia.
Ben Carson may be the HUD secretary. There goes the racism. And if he does not name Carson, he will include blacks in his administration. Trust me.
But many Hillary lovers continue to behave in the manner you see at the top here, if not literally, then by word.
Today is Thanksgiving in the United States. Let us be thankful that Donald Trump won the election instead of the woman beloved by the thugs in the drawing above.
I leave you with Trump’s holiday message to the nation. It is a message of unity. Imagine that.
* Illegal aliens are not U.S. minorities. Almost all come from Latin America where they are the majority. In the United States, they are simply law-breakers.
** Nikki Haley, designated U.N. ambassador, is the daughter of Sikh immigrants. Betsy DeVos, a champion of charter schools, is the Education Department choice.
I’VE MAINTAINED a file cabinet for decades. I find filing satisfying. When I left Houston, I culled wildly, keeping just the bare bones, which I packed over the Rio Bravo.
I bought a new file cabinet, resuming the habit.
I have insurance files (one for homes, one for cars), bank files (two banks), investment files, three house files (two here, one in Mexico City), receipt file, tourism file, health file, and many more.
But my favorite is the Miscellaneous File where I keep stuff that doesn’t belong elsewhere. Yesterday, killing time at home due to having a cold, I opened Miscellaneous.
It’s a trip down Memory Lane.
Press passes with mug shots. One from my first job, New Orleans. I’m clean-shaven, 24 years old, in a dress shirt and tie. Another for the San Juan Star. I’m 30, My collar is open, and I have Fu Manchu mustache. The third, Houston Chronicle, age 39, shows me in a dress shirt and tie but with the full black beard of a Hells Angel.
Expired passports. Two U.S. and one Mexican. The older U.S. passport shows me in eyeglasses. That’s a no-no now. Both Mexican and U.S. passports were renewed this year, likely for the last time. I’m not immortal.
Air Force shoulder patch. It’s a large circle that says F-106 Dart. The Delta Dart was an interceptor aircraft, and I maintained survival-equipment pods in the ejection seats. Had I not screwed up so much of my youth, I would have been flying the F-106 instead.
A bookmark. On textured blue paper and inscribed with a haiku of my father’s: cajun cabin/the aroma of hot gumbo/floats on the bayou. His name, dates, and the phrase American Haiku Master, which he was.
Air Force discharge. Two versions. One suitable for framing, and the other with dates and mumbo-jumbo.
A watercolor sketch. Of me, done by local artist Arturo Solis. He just walked over and handed it to me one day years ago while I was on the plaza enjoying a cafecito. We have a number of his works hanging on our walls.
Drug formula. For committing suicide. You never know when it may come in handy. The Hemingway method is messy. Anyway, I don’t own a shotgun.
Texas driver’s license. I arrived with it. It expired six years later, and I never renewed. My DL now is Mexican.
Solo certificate. On the 28th day of June, 1976, I took off alone and returned to the New Orleans Lakefront Airport in a Cessna 152. Suitable for framing. I don’t fly anymore.
A love note. From my wife on my birthday in 2003. We had been married almost 18 months.
Final electric bill. Houston, dated Jan. 8-12, 2000. Amount: $86.02 for just four days 16 years ago. That’s approximately what I pay now in a year at the Hacienda.
Certification card. International Bartending Institute. Dated May 7, 1982. I am a certified bartender. Whoopee!
Flying license. I became a pilot of small planes on Oct. 26, 1976. The license never expires. You do have to renew your medical certificate, however. The last medical expired June 1, 1978. There’s also a radio permit in the envelope.
Cremation certificate. My mother was cremated on Jan. 8, 2009, at Atlanta Crematory Inc. in Stone Mountain, Georgia. She had made it to age 90.
Divorce papers. I had them in this file until fairly recently, but I tossed them into the trash. Two divorces. Two utterly miserable experiences that I’ll never repeat. I would prefer the Hemingway solution.
If you got all the way down here, you deserve a Gold Medal. I also have a Letters file.
Maybe I’ll spill that here some day. That’s where the love notes are stored. I love love letters.
I GODDA CODE. Yes, a cold. Started last Friday night, and it’s marching on, day by day, not improving, not worsening.
I loathe colds with a passion. Everybody dislikes them, but my feeling toward them is red-hot, sizzling. And if anyone around me has a cold, expect me to stay 10 feet away.
That, or I’ll be running out the door, screaming.
My biggest fear is that it will lead to a sinus infection, which it can do. Sinus infections are hell on earth or, at least, that’s how I see them. Any ailment above the neck is dreadful.
Since moving to Mexico, I’ve been fascinated with the locals’ cavalier attitude toward colds. First off, few seem to make a distinction between the common cold and the flu, which is a whole different ballgame.
The Spanish-English dictionary defines cold as resfriado, but I’ve never heard anybody use that word. The word they use is gripa, which the dictionary defines as flu.
No Mexican I know shares my horror of the common cold. You can have red eyes, a scarlet nose and be dripping snot all over the place, sneezing your head off, and you still get the damnable cheek kiss if someone wanders by.
Last Saturday when my current cold was still iffy, I was downtown, and my sister-in-law appeared.
She leaned over to plant the damnable Latino cheek kiss on me, and I said, “Better not. I have a cold.” “I don’t care,” she replied, and let me have it. These people are loco.
Many years ago, when I still lived above the Rio Bravo, I often neglected the yearly flu shot. Then I got a case of the flu, which a doctor told me was rather mild. If that was mild, I sure didn’t want to risk the whole enchilada.
Now I get a flu shot yearly. Been doing it for ages. My child bride never got a flu shot before she knew me, but now she does, at my insistence.
I haven’t been away from the Hacienda since Saturday. I live in my pajamas. My feet are in Polar Pairs (c) shoe-socks. My cold remains relatively low-grade, and I am waiting it out.
After breakfast, I wandered out to the yard, noticed the view above, and snapped a photo. Gotta have artwork.