The other direction

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Pirates buried here?

THE BEST-LAID plans often fly awry. Our plan yesterday of doing lunch on the shore of a nearby, high-mountain, lake was thwarted by a huge traffic jam caused, it appeared, by the balloon festival downtown.

So we went in the other direction.

We ended up in a restaurant just past a village with the cute name of Tzintzuntzan where we had fish and chicken and mole and guacamole and sopa Tarasca.

Instead of returning directly home after dining, we continued all the way around our local high-mountain lake, a jaunt of just under an hour, depending.

This route is a rural two-laner with spectacular views of mountains and lake. One passes wandering burros and indigenous women toting this, that and the other.

During the ride, I snapped the above photo of a cemetery gate. The photo might have been better had I not forgotten that I’d put the camera on video mode earlier.

It was on video mode because just as we were leaving for lunch, it started pouring rain. I stood on the veranda and used the video of my Canon camera for the first time.

The rain ended quickly, and we had a great afternoon. At times, the other direction is the best route.

It’s a good Rule of Life.

Cemetery visit

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Somebody’s tomb with bouquets of old marigolds.

MY WIFE WAS born at home and delivered by her father who was a physician. The town was Uruapan where they lived briefly before relocating to the nearby village of Taretan.

It’s a town that’s on nobody’s tourist trail.

It was Taretan where another child was born, a girl, then another, a boy, and that ended Mama. Dead at 31.

Mama is buried at the cemetery in Taretan and so is Father who died many years later at age 61 — still too young.

Normally, on the day following the Day of the Dead, we drive to Taretan to tidy up the tombs. That would have been a week back, but we didn’t make it due to a renovation project ongoing at the Hacienda. More on that in a week or two.

So we went yesterday. The cemetery was deserted, which is how I like a cemetery. There was Mama and, some distance away, there was Father. They are not buried side by side.

We never knew the reason for the separation. Of course, Father remarried, so maybe the new wife separated them in death, or maybe it was this reason that we discovered yesterday:

The inscription on the grave adjoining Father’s is totally illegible to the casual observer. My wife decided to figure it out and, with much effort, did so. It’s one of Father’s brothers who was shot dead at the age of 18 in the 1930s.

We doubt anyone in the family who is currently alive is aware of that, and it partly explains why Father is buried in the adjoining plot instead of next to Mama. It was another brother who decided to bury Father in that particular spot.

Moving another plot to the left, there is a well-tended tomb on which the inscription is quite clear. My wife recognizes the name of an old friend of her father’s.

The inscription says that he was murdered by “an enemy of the people.” One wonders about the details in that case.

It was the 1950s.

Following the cemetery visit, we drove to the plaza where there is an ice cream parlor. She got coconut and I picked strawberry. We sat on a sidewalk table and watched people pass by.

Sort of a Mexican Mayberry but with darker tones.

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A bonus tomb that looks like a Civil War Ironclad.

Load of caskets

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HEADING DOWNTOWN from out where the Hacienda sits, just before a hard curve to the right that will take you over the sewer creek and up to the Big Plaza a few blocks on, you will pass the funeral home.

Two, I’m told, side by side, but you can’t tell the difference, so I’ll treat it as one. It’s the most popular place in town to check out.

On passing, you often see wakes in there, frequently spilling out onto the sidewalk. The other day I witnessed one where they had put up a canvas roof to cover the overflow of mourners from sun or rain.

There’s another, more modern-looking, funeral home out on the ring road. It’s just been there about five years, I suppose, and I’ve never seen anything going on there. The first, by the hard curve, has been in business far longer, even before I arrived here 15 years back.

Though I have driven by it a million times and walked by maybe 10,000, I’ve never stepped inside. It appears to be just a middling room and nothing more. There are display coffins along the wall.

A big black hearse is usually parked outside.

I doubt running a funeral parlor here requires much training, perhaps none at all. I don’t know if the business is regulated by the government. I tend to doubt it. That’s one of the beauties of Mexico.

I doubt much training is required because embalming is not common, which is why funerals occur quite quickly.

Probably about all a mortician has to do is pick up the dearly departed, drop him or her in a casket, perhaps wipe off some blood or whatnot, spray some Raid, light incense and candles, and open the door.

The wake, an overnight affair, follows, and then the coffin is driven slowly to the cemetery with the mourners walking behind.

I’ve witnessed many of these processions while enjoying a nice espresso on the Big Plaza because the coffee shop sits on the shortest route between the Basilica up the hill and one of the two cemeteries.

Most are silent jaunts, but now and then there will be a mariachi band when someone’s being sent off with a little pizzazz. I like that.

I shot this photo yesterday. The truck was parked just around the hard curve. I was driving by, so I braked, got out and snapped.

I added the photo to Eyes of the Moon, but decided to share it here with you folks too because I’m a sharing sort of fellow.

We all die

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MORE OFTEN than some would prefer,* the bell in the steeple of this 16th-century church, not far from the Hacienda, begins a special ring. It is ringing at this moment as I write. It was ringing when I woke this morning, and it was ringing in the middle of the night.

What makes it special is its slowness. It gongs about once every 20 seconds and it goes on for hours. It is done by hand, and I often imagine that person, sitting down there in the dark, reaching up every 20 seconds or so to give a tug. Bong! Wait…wait…wait. Bong!

All through the night.

I also imagine a bottle of José Cuervo and perhaps some tacos or cheese and crackers are at his side. Sometimes, in the middle of the night, I feel like getting up, dressing and going down there to see first-hand. Who and how. But I’ll never do that because I’m too old and lazy.

Later, during our morning exercise walk around the plaza, the church door was closed, and the bongs were continuing. It was a good time to check it out, and perhaps I would have done so had the door been open. But we just kept on walking. The door in question is that smaller one at the steeple’s base.

We talked about where my child bride will put me when I’m “promoted to Glory.” The neighborhood cemetery is a couple of blocks away from the church, across the highway. I would like to be planted there, the only American-Mexican, I’m sure, the sole, true paleface.

I’d provide a modish, multicultural air.

No, she said. She’ll keep me in an urn in the Hacienda. And that’s okay with me.

* * * *

* Especially those for whom the bell tolls.

(Note: This post was written yesterday. This morning I awoke, and the bedroom window was open. Birds were singing in the fan palm, and the bell was still gonging. Same deceased, or someone new?)