Around the barrio …

New street light that looks to be solar. But maybe not.

Today is Ash Wednesday, which means yesterday was Mardi Gras or, as we call it hereabouts, Carnaval. Normally, it’s one of the worst periods in our hardscrabble barrio because the locals go loco with up to four nights of blaring concerts on the neighborhood plaza just a block and a half away.

In recent years, we’ve made it a habit to skedaddle to somewhere that’s not here. Last year we went to Guanajuato. This year we went nowhere because it was nice and quiet even though a Gringa who lives not far away in our hardscrabble barrio was complaining about freelance festivities on her street. I heard nothing.

No official Carnaval this year thanks to the Kung Flu.

Yes, I am not the only norteamericano who lives in the neighborhood, but I have been here the longest. Actually, I have been on the mountaintop longer than almost all Gringos and Canucks who now reside here, too many for my taste, actually.

Most belong in San Miguel de Allende.

Just here in the barrio, there is a Gringa in one home and a Gringo couple in another, all of whom arrived here long after we built the Hacienda. The Gringa lived downtown before moving nearby, and the couple, who are in their 90s, bought a big, fancy home from another Gringo couple who had bought it from another sole Gringo even earlier. I watched all these goings and comings from right here.

The initial owner of that property was a gay bookseller who returned to the United States and shortly died at a fairly young age. The second owners fled to Uruguay due to some police problems, according to gossip. The current owners seem to be really fine folks.


We had been warned yesterday that our state and quite a few others likely would suffer rolling blackouts as Mexico tried to cope with an energy crisis in the north of the nation, which was a result of the problems above the Rio Bravo, the Texans and their hippie fans. But nothing happened here. The lights stayed lit. More importantly, Netflix stayed lit.

Speaking of lights, over the past few days, a crew has traveled around our barrio changing street lights. Before, we had the large bulbous variety — the one outside the Hacienda had been burned out for over a year — and now we have the sleek version you see in the photo. I’m thinking that little circular, blue thing on the top means it’s solar-powered. I hope so. It’s a good use of solar power.

We have a solar water heater on our roof that does next to nothing. I have disconnected and given up on it. If you want it, it’s yours for the taking. No joke. It’s our second solar heater. The first did not work at all. The current one simply works badly, at times sending scalding water to the shower via the cold tap. Yes, the cold faucet.

This morning dawned cold, but it did not freeze last night as it did the previous three nights. How do I know? I check the birdbath at 8 a.m. Solid or not? Low-tech information.


Storefront update

Photo taken just this morning.
The middle of last year to provide perspective. That’s the lone builder and his wife.

Here’s a photo update on the storefront construction that lumbers on across the street. As previously mentioned, it’s being built by one man with the occasional assist of his wife who totes things. He works most days, but he wasn’t at work this morning. I suspect that’s because it’s Ash Wednesday.


It’s a lovely day, and we’ll be dining on beans, rice and sausage (from San Antonio) this afternoon. Later I’ll drive to a carwash, and after that I’ll head downtown for a nice café Americano negro on the plaza with a chocolate-chip cookie.

The knitted lion

That could be the name of a British pub, The Knitted Lion. It isn’t, one imagines, but it could be. It would sound quite right and good.

My child bride is a high-energy woman, which balances our relationship very nicely since I am a low-energy man and always have been. I enjoy relaxing. She doesn’t know how. Hand her a cup of coffee, for instance, on a summer afternoon. Does she sip and talk? No, she chugs it like a Hells Angel with a Heineken.

Since the Kung Flu descended upon us, she’s temporarily retired her pastry business, the one in which she baked goodies and sold them on the downtown plaza out of a wicker basket on Saturday afternoons. Been almost a year now since that happened. Her income vanished, so we had to increase her monthly allowance to even things out.

But you can’t keep a hyperactive woman down for long. She found knitting, or maybe it’s crochet. I don’t know, don’t care. The last few months, she’s knitted sweaters for me and herself, but just recently she discovered these little animals.

She’s finished two so far, a bear and a lion. We see similar stuff being sold online for 500 or 600 pesos, for Pete’s sake. I wonder if anyone pays that? No matter. It keeps her busy, giving me ample time to do what I do best, which is pretty much nothing.

Or maybe it’s time to open the Knitted Lion Cantina. We could serve both Corona and Guinness Stout. I love Guinness Stout. It’s very relaxing.

The morning windmill

Having three wives under my belt provides me with a diversity of memories. About all the three have in common is that they self-identify as women, which is a good thing because that’s what their plumbing firmly indicates.

Well, there is another characteristic they share, something all women share. They are fond of talking. Women love to talk. Some do it rather calmly, and some less so.

Every morning we sit at the dining room table about 8:30 with coffee and biscuits. She talks. I listen. More often than not, she’s agitated about something, which usually falls into one of two categories. One is the Mexican president who goes by his initials AMLO and who holds a press conference every weekday at 7 a.m. It’s live on YouTube, which is where my child bride watches in bed, and gets herself steamed.

Her second, common source of breakfast uproar will have something to do with one of her many, many relatives, a motley crew if ever there was one.

Okay, now that we’ve established she often comes to the morning table in a state of agitation, let’s move on to the topic at hand, how she manifests that agitation, and it’s something that provides me with endless chuckles, usually kept to myself.

She waves her arms around wildly. I watch as a hand passes the coffee cup at 100 m.p.h. and then the plant vase, and then whatever other fragile item sits nearby. Surprisingly, her windmilling has clobbered very few table items over the years. It must be like the radar that bats possess with which they instinctively dodge obstructions ahead.

The morning windmill is as entertaining as her rants about AMLO or her thinking she can, with sufficient sage advice, change the chaotic course of the lives of her kinfolk.

Our interesting times

May you live in interesting times.

— ancient Chinese curse

CITY HALL here on the mountaintop yesterday reported the first Kung Flu case in our quaint Colonial town, news I could have lived long without, perhaps literally.

So we have pivoted, the two of us.

Till today we had reduced our gadding about, but every afternoon, simply to get out of the house, we had gone downtown with a Thermos of café, which we filled at home, to sit a spell in the open air of the coffee shop on the sidewalk abutting the plaza.

People-watching and reading.

Well, that’s off the table, so to speak. We’re staying home.

There will be exceptions. For instance, early this morning, we drove down the mountainside to the nearby capital city to shop at Costco and Chedraui. We got there just after they opened. There were few shoppers, which was the idea.

We’ll make that jaunt every Monday.

We purchased enough vittles at the two stores to last a week since we have now eliminated restaurants from our lifestyle.

Days will consist of some light exercise on our gym set at home, plus the daily walk around the neighborhood plaza. One must keep the blood circulating.

Mexico has relatively few Kung Flu sightings, 2,143 cases and 94 fatalities as I write this, but it will worsen, of course. Government action has been somewhat spotty so far, and our demagogic, airheaded president is setting a horrible example by continuing his hugs and kisses to one and all, including relatives of a famous narco capo.

The uneducated, not surprisingly, love him, especially since he gifts money, á la Bernie Sanders, but there are even a significant number of otherwise well-educated Mexicans who also embrace him, literally if possible. Astounding.

The good news is that his popularity is slipping.

I think we have an old backgammon board in a cabinet downstairs, and we need to wash windows and do other chores that we’ve been putting off. And there is also the internet, Kindles and Netflix. Life plods on.

About that Chinese quote at the top. It’s those damn Chinamen who got us into this Kung Flu mess in the first place. Ah, the irony.

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We’ll be sitting out here more often. Come join us, but sit over thataway.