This is Smoke Street

Smoke is a major downtown drag, but it doesn’t seem so in this photo. Of course, the street does not have an English name. The real name is Calle Ahumada, which means not Smoke Street, but Smoked Street, one letter more. I prefer the name with one letter less.

Smoke Street. It has a certain pizzaz, redolent of sin and vice or Comanches cooking  jerky after a hard day on horseback.

Scalping the palefaces. And hauling their women to the teepees.

This is the traditional main drag coming into downtown. You can also get to El Centro by hanging a right on the Libramiento outside Bodega Aurerra, but entering via Smoke Street is more fun.

Smoke Street is not very long, and there is far more vehicular traffic than pedestrians. Before it becomes Smoke Street near where the slaughterhouse once was, it has another name: Lázaro Cárdenas.

And after Smoke Street gets to the Plaza Grande, it becomes something else again, name-wise, but you can get your map out if you want to follow its route past the plaza and up the hill.

Businesses along Smoke are mostly not for tourists. There is the phone company, a beauty parlor, a well-off lawyer, a barber shop. Eateries that foolishly open on Smoke usually go up in smoke.

As you can see, there is no parking on Smoke because it’s too narrow. Folks do it sometimes, crunching the curb, causing problems, but it’s not a viable parking option for more than a minute or two.

There once was an Italian restaurant with a genuine Italian chef. But it shut down years ago. It had really good pasta.

And you can see the unimaginative color scheme, red and white, stamped in the local legal code. I find it boring and prefer the rainbow colors of a place like San Miguel de Allende.

But this is Smoke Street — dressed in red and white.

The shopping trip and memories


THIS IS THE Santuario de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. It’s the most spectacularly colorful church I’ve ever seen. My child bride says there’s one just as impressive or better in Oaxaca, but I’ve never set foot in Oaxaca.

This photo doesn’t do it justice. I took it with my cell, having left my camera at the Hacienda when we visited the State Capital today, mostly for shopping and eating.

We ate lasagna. Then we visited the Modern Art Museum. Following that, we walked across the street, under an ancient aqueduct, and a block farther to this church.

We sat a spell.

Then we walked another block to a long, tree-lined pedestrian street full of old Spanish Colonial buildings, some of which are collapsing but some are restored and beautiful. We sat on a stone bench, and I shot the next photo.

This is not a black-and-white photo.

We were less than two blocks from where I lived above a garage after arriving in Mexico in January of 2000. Square in the middle of this photo, you can see the back of a phone booth that’s been there at least 20 years, and who knows how much longer?

Maybe the Conquistadors installed it.

I had a Mexico City girlfriend before moving down here. We’d met on, and she’d already visited me twice in Houston before I retired youngish and moved south. She was 50 years old at the time but still a real babe. Some women can do that. Her mother was Mexican, and her father was a Spaniard. It mixed well in her, believe me.

Almost every night during the four months I lived above that garage just down the street, I walked to this phone booth and called her. The relationship did not pan out, and a year later we went our separate ways. Just as well because she was not as agreeable as the child bride I ended up with, who is also a real babe. Some women age well.

Then we stood up and headed to Costco and Walmart.

Scenes from over there

Why is that old, pinche pendejo Gringo photographing me?

THE FAMILY coffee shop was closed yesterday (rare) so I was forced to hit the competition. There’s plenty of that around the plaza, competition, but my favorite is way over there, and it was there where I sat with a café expreso for a spell.

It was late afternoon. And quiet.

I never order café expreso at the family joint because the aging machine does not make good café expreso. But since I was sitting at the competition, I ordered expreso.

It’s a small world, they say, and as I sat there solo my sister-in-law walked by — on the way to her dentist  — and a bit later her son, our nephew, the Little Vaquero, walked by in the opposite direction, returning home from the gym. He’s 16.

I also shot the photo below. Like the first, it was while sitting with my café expreso. I didn’t even have to stand up. Call me the Lazy Photographer.