Strolling the streets like a Gachupín

IT WAS LATE afternoon on Sunday. We were walking the block and a half from the Hacienda to the barrio plaza.

I was wearing saggy, gray sweatpants, a newer, gray sweatshirt, a gray, wool beebop cap and, incongruously, tan loafers by Dockers.

You look like a Gachupín, said my child bride in español, using the derogatory Mexican term for a Spaniard. Maybe I did.

She is not fond of Spaniards, a sentiment shared by many Mexicans.

It’s similar to how Social Justice Warriors feel about Chris Columbus and the crews of the Niña, Pinta and Santa Maria, hauling their Spanish privilege.

My child bride studied six months in Spain in the middle ’90s. She loved the food but concluded that Spaniards, for the most part, are sangrones. Grumps and arrogant. Her favorite dishes were paella and fabada Asturiana.

She also went to a bullfight in Madrid, more to watch the people than the bulls. It wasn’t until a decade later than I attended my first bullfight. I went with her in Mexico City at the enormous Plaza México.

In Gachupín mode, I continued with her to the plaza where we sat on a steel bench facing the ancient church. I had my Canon, so I shot the video. Were it not for the minivan the scene might have been filmed a century ago.

The church — 16th Century, I’m guessing — is undergoing renovation.

You can’t see it here because they started on the roof. Contributions were solicited from neighborhood residents months back, and we ponied up 1,000 pesos even though we never use the church, and I’m no Catholic.

The music was coming from behind us on the far side of the plaza. Mexicans usually get dressed up on Sundays and walk around their plazas, but the people in our hardscrabble barrio don’t uphold that tradition.

After sitting half an hour, we moseyed home and watched a movie on Netflix. I traded my Gachupín gear for pajamas that were not gray.

 

My weird world

THIS IS MY hardscrabble barrio’s water storage tank. It sits higher than any other place hereabouts, so gravity is how water gets to my house and those of the neighbors.

About a decade ago, this structure was covered with graffiti, and it was an eyesore. Then it got a fresh paint of white and red, and it remained unsullied for years.

Recently, someone applied artwork, a series of skulls. The one on the right in the middle row is even getting a shower.

Our municipal water comes from an underground spring. It’s delivered to us that way. There’s no purification plant.

We are natural people.

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MY BEAUTIFUL WORLD

After  taking the photo at the top, I did a 180, and took the second photo, which is one side of our neighborhood plaza.

I’ve shot a number of photos of our plaza over the years, but never from this side. Look at those jacaranda trees. I get to admire them every weekday morning during our plaza walk.

We passed our 15th anniversary two days ago, and now we’re working on the second 15 years. I’ve been married thrice, of course. Five years with No. 1. Nineteen years with No. 2, although we were actually married only the last 10.

That means my current marriage has lasted the longest by a long shot. Although I am a fan of marriage, I hope not to have to do it a fourth time. Three is adequate.

Thanks for stopping by.

Living with tourists

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I shot this photo on a sunny day recently.

MUCH OF MY life has been spent surrounded by tourists. There was the 18 years in New Orleans, and now the 17 years in my Mexican mountain town.

It adds up to about half my life. The rest of my adult life was spent almost entirely in Houston, Texas, which is also a swell place to live, or it was when I left.

Not too touristy though.

I also lived almost almost two years in San Juan, Puerto Rico, which is so touristy that cruise ships harbor there.

People come to tourist towns, look around, and say, boy, it must be great to live here. Guess what? It is.

I landed in New Orleans by pure happenstance. But I came to my mountain town deliberately. I will die here.

Surrounded by tourists.

Downtown at dusk

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I’VE SPENT 34 years of my life in tourist towns. The first was New Orleans — 18 years — and now here on my colonial Mexican mountaintop — 16 years.

My heart goes out to people who pass their lives in Topeka or Barefoot Bottom, Georgia. Yes, there is such a place.

There are different styles of tourist towns. Some may not look like much themselves, but their location makes them tourist attractions. Beach locales are one example.

If you count beach locations as tourist towns, and I am, then we have to add my childhood decade in Florida to the aforementioned 34 years, making a total of 44 years.

But let’s stick to tourist towns that are tourist draws simply because they’re beautiful. And where I am right now certainly qualifies. Look at those photos.

Late yesterday afternoon, I was sitting on one of the cement benches that surround our plaza, just watching folks, enjoying the view, the cool breeze, stuff like that.

I had my camera in my man bag with my Kindle, so I whipped the camera out and took these photos.

I’m a sharing kind of guy. I hope you don’t live in Topeka or Barefoot Bottom, Georgia, either.

That would be so sad.