Bits of existence

goodies

MY LOVELY WIFE, as some of you know, bakes and sells pastries most every Saturday afternoon on the main plaza downtown. This has been going on for more than four years. Her stuff is really good.

Street sales are common in Mexico, and tourists are warned away from it, primarily because there is no government quality control, the sort the Gringos love to impose on small merchants above the Rio Bravo. That sort of “quality control” results in few street sales up in that part of the world.

And a generally more boring urban environment.

Their loss. When is the last time you saw something like this on a street in Terre Haute?

By the way, I’ve been buying street food here for 15 years with little problem.

And that includes seafood.

* * * *

Let’s mosey on now to another topic. Again, as some of you know, we own what I call a downtown Casita. When my mother died in January of 2009, I inherited a bit of cash, and we used most of it to buy the downtown Casita. It’s “downtown” because it’s just a 10-minute walk from the main plaza downtown, not to be confused with the plaza near the Hacienda.

The downtown plaza is big, beautiful and famous. Our neighborhood plaza is also big and beautiful but not famous at all. We have this neighborhood plaza and its abutting church because the neighborhood used to be a separate town. But no more.

We have been devoured, municipally speaking. Many years ago, when we were a separate town, we had a nickname. The Village of the Damned. That’s a story for some other day.

The purpose of purchasing the downtown Casita over five years ago was less than fixed. It just seemed like a good idea at the time, and real estate is usually a good investment. Not always, of course, as has been demonstrated in recent years in the United States. Sometimes you get hosed.

We furnished the downtown Casita beautifully, as is our custom, and it sat vacant most always for the first three or so years. We passed by every week to tidy up, water the plants, and a maid did a better cleaning once a month. In the beginning, we spent an occasional night there.

A couple of years ago we began renting it to tourists for brief stays. That does not happen often, and it still sits vacant most of the time. Many people remain afraid of Mexico, which is arrant nonsense.

And now we’ve arrived at the reason for mentioning all this. It’s renovation time! Yes, we’ve hired the same crew that constructed the pastry workshop a couple of months ago at the Hacienda, and they will give the Casita a facelift. It was getting a little tatty around some edges.

Most of the work will be painting, but other things will be done too. It will take a couple of weeks, we’ve been told, which means it will take a month. That’s how stuff works here.

Here’s how the Casita looked a few years ago, nice and fresh, and soon it will look that way again. If any of you want a nice vacation home, I’ll rent it to you, perhaps with a special “Moon Discount.” It’s not really a casita. It’s a two-bedroom condo with off-street parking.

Looks a bit like Greece, doesn’t it?

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20 thoughts on “Bits of existence”

  1. I too buy and consume street food, although it is sometimes difficult to find without meat and, like you, I’ve had very little trouble. Funny, the other day a friend would drink fresh juice because it was in an unmarked bottle. I didn’t really understand. As if there is some guarantee of cleanliness with commercially packaged. I actually think there are less securities, but that’s just me.

    Cute condocita. I’d be inclined to rent from you. We both thought we’d like to spend more time in and around (your town) sometime.

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  2. Food vendors in Mexico provide an economic safety valve for the unemployed and underemployed and a means for small businesses to expand their marketplace to sell their wares and provide employment. In the U.S., it is a means of large businesses to control and eliminate small businesses that pose an economic threat to stifle competition by means of excessive municipal and state regulations with arbitrary enforcement of health and safety laws. That is one reason why there are 47 million people in the U.S. on food stamps.

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    1. Very well said. The “that which is not seen” of Bastiat which is something those with faith in the government fail to see.

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  3. First, great photo of the goody basket. Little Red Ridinghood could not have carried more scrumptious baked goods. I know from experience.

    As for the condominium, I trust the changes will be cosmetic. It is a very comfortable place to stay. Its contemporary lines may have influenced my purchase of the new house — the one with no name.

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    1. Señor Cotton: The changes are entirely cosmetic. Last year, however, we did add a second lid on the stairwell, and that eliminated the endless leaks during the rainy season. You remember that, I suspect.

      As for your house, of course it has a name. And everyone knows it: Casa Cotton!

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  4. The “downtown” casita looks nice. You real estate baron!

    I purchased street food the whole time I lived in Mexico and NEVER had a single problem. We, of course, would look at the cleanliness of the place and try to find out a little bit about the owner/person selling before buying by asking other merchants close to the places. (Reputation, complaints, etc.) Mostly, there are little treasures to be found in those food vendors. One of the MANY adventures to be had in Mexico.

    Have a great day, Felipe!

    Mike

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    1. Hi, Mike: A good rule of thumb, I have read, and I agree with it completely, is to look for vendors with lots of folks buying from them. Makes sense.

      All my days are great, Mike. Same back at you.

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  5. A great looking condo, Señor Zapata. If I were inclined to visit (your town), I would surely stay there. But, alas.

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  6. My, those pastries sure look tasty. Do you get to indulge or are you not a sweets eater? Also, how would one get details of your rental casita?

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    1. Jeff: Hers are about the best you’ll find in these parts, and that’s especially true of street vendors. The reason for that is other street vendors do it entirely for the money. It’s a living. Alas, to minimize costs they almost invariably get stingy with the ingredients. Since my wife does it mostly for fun — though she does like to earn money — she does not get stingy with ingredients.

      As for details of the rental casa, I’ll send it to you via email.

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      1. You state your wife bakes mostly for fun and yet the samples in her basket look positively professional. I consider myself a good baker, but my “baskets” look nothing like hers. Impressive!

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    2. Jeff: I see I neglected to answer part of your question. I am a big dessert fan, but I’m reasonably good at controlling myself. Plus, I pay her the going rate for her wares. That tends to keep me in line too.

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  7. Dear folks: Due mostly to a quirk in my personality, I do not mention the name of my town nor the state where I live, nor the name of the nearby state capital. Many of you already know it. Whenever someone mentions it in a comment, I tastefully edit it out, which I have done twice today so far. Just a reminder. Thanks.

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  8. I love street food. We do have it back in the US now, but it is somewhat underground and may just be in my neck of the woods. Street food always reminds me of some of the barbeque dives back home. I think one can assess the looks of a street vendor’s wares much like one would any eating establishment – by the looks of things and how many patrons there are. Forget that business license on the wall…it means nothing. Besides, street vendors feed their neighbors and they depend on their neighbors for business. Why would they want to feed their neighbor bad food? And your wife’s basket of goodies looks quite scrumptious.

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    1. Bev: Lots of folks, including myself, think that the number of folks around a Mexican street stand is an excellent indication of the wisdom of eating there. I am one of those folks.

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