Day of the Dead

Pigtail girls wait for their tacos on the main plaza yesterday.

The Day of the Dead came and went. The main cemetery night is that between November 1 and 2.

The pandemic hysteria threw a monkey wrench into some aspects of the event, particularly one. The cemetery scene on the island of Janitzio in our big lake is traditionally the main tourist draw. The No. 2 position is held by the cemetery in the nearby town of Tzintzuntzan.

But this year, the community that lives on Janitzio, nervous about covid, said tourists would not be allowed, and since the only way to get there is on a motor launch, this was fairly easy to enforce.

So what happened then? The tourist mob turned toward Tzintzuntzan, creating a traffic jam of spectacular dimensions.

From what I read, some tourists simply debarked from tour buses about halfway there, and continued on foot in the dark. Tzintzuntzan is about 12 miles distant from my mountaintop town.

Here is the humorous part. In order to get to Tzintzuntzan, you have to drive directly by my hardscrabble neighborhood, which has its own cemetery, and our graveyard does Los Muertos in a lovely way. It’s just a short walk from our Hacienda.

So most of the tourists simply drove by here, missing our spectacular cemetery scene, to continue up the highway into a traffic jam.

Actually, there are quite a few villages in the area that do the cemetery event, but Tzintzuntzan has turned the old tradition into a tourist trap. The grave decorations constructed there are over the top, spectacular but phony, in my view.

We spent the night at home watching Netflix before heading to bed. We did not visit our cemetery, and we haven’t for three or four years. Plus, for some reason, my child bride did not build her usual Muertos altar in the living room. Yesterday morning I asked why, and she muttered some reason that made little sense.

I think she just got a tad lazy. It’s her first year of missing it.

The photo at the top was taken across the street from the family coffee shop downtown. I also took the bottom photo. Nothing like paramilitary cops with truck-mounted machine guns to add color — or bullet-riddled bystanders — to any festivity.

Protecting us from the bad guys.

Our frightful times

A sidewalk singer who posed for me.

We are in the midst of the Day of the Dead hoopla. It’s the 22nd time for me and, like the 18 years I lived in New Orleans during Mardi Gras, the newness has gone poof! Now it’s just a big traffic jam.

No matter. We drove downtown yesterday afternoon. We had to park blocks away from the big plaza due to traffic and the closure of some streets. In time we made it afoot to the family coffee shop where I sat with a cookie and coffee, and took some photos.

The guy above is one, and the girl below is another. She is the granddaughter of a friend of a friend who happened by.

It’s her everyday makeup, she said.

This last photo is what we used to call lagniappe in New Orleans. It’s a little something extra, a gift. I shot it last week while strolling downtown. If you walk directly down there, turn right half a block, you’ll be on the main plaza.

It was a quiet, lovely afternoon. Unlike yesterday.

Hurricanes & marigolds

On our neighborhood plaza this morning.

It’s an absolutely lovely day today. Yesterday was not.

Hurricane Rick zapped our state’s Pacific coast yesterday, and we received lots of rain as a result. Being a good ways inland means my mountaintop suffers little from hurricanes. Likewise, we do not get tornadoes or serious flooding.

Mild earthquakes are another matter.

In the middle of yesterday’s heavy rain, we hopped into the Honda and drove down the mountainside to the state capital to go shopping and eat drowned tacos at a favorite spot. That’s what they’re called, tacos ahogados, drowned tacos, which is a plate of tacos with a sauce poured all over them. Drowned. Get it?

Shopping done, we drove home, and the rain had mostly ended. My child bride went to the gym, and I sat my aging butt downtown at a sidewalk table with a café Americano negro and my Kindle. There was lots of activity across the street directly on the Plaza Grande.

Workmen at work.

Our town is gearing up for the Day of the Dead. The most noticeable part of it, aside from the cemetery vigils on the night of November 1, is a huge artisan market on the central plaza.

It appeared some weeks ago that it would be canceled due to the waning pandemic, but it’s going to open after all, which is good for local businesses and visiting artisans though it annoys me due to the horrendous traffic caused by tourists.

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During my exercise walk this morning around our neighborhood plaza, I shot the photo above with my phone. That old pickup was loading up with marigolds, the traditional flower of Los Muertos, and some other blooms too, the purple ones.

The main tourist attraction hereabouts, as far as cemeteries are concerned, is on the island of Janitzio in the middle of our huge lake. But this year, again due to the pandemic hysteria, the community on that island is blocking tourists on the big night.

This is a blessing for tourists, though they don’t know it. One of the many other cemeteries in the area is always a better option, and that includes the one that’s walking distance from my house.

The good times

This morning around 10.* Sunshine!

The monsoon starts here in June, and then it rains every single solitary day till about now. It normally tapers off in October, but I remember one year that it rained on October 1, and that was it. It was a happy month. The Goddess had smiled.

But sometimes she manifests a mean streak, and rains on the cemeteries on the Night of the Dead, November, disproving the existence of a Goddess with our best interests at heart.

It seems to be tapering off now, and maybe it’s ended. Hard to know. But it was a beautiful day yesterday, and this morning dawned in the same way. See the photo above. I planted that pole cactus years ago when it was a pipsqueak. Now it’s about to bump the drainpipe above. Just two of them, the others are farther out.

Yes, the rains are winding down, and it seems the pandemic is following suit, which is no great shock. Pandemics historically last one to two years. In Mexico we had a spike last winter, the first wave, and another in August when it spiked even higher.

But now it’s way down. An ending pandemic will distress the Democrats above the Rio Bravo, a happy thought.

Another indication that life is returning to normal is that we have tenants arriving Sunday for a two-week stay in our Downtown Casita, the first time since 2019. We had a number of reservations last year, but they all canceled due to the hysteria.

In any event, I am wearying of renting the place due to the effort involved and the fact we do not depend on that income. It’s pure gravy. To that end, I have spiked the rent waaay up. If I have to be bothered with tenants, let ’em pay!

But for people I like — perhaps you, for instance — they can come and stay a week or two for nuttin’. Free.

Well, you might leave a tip for Marta the Maid.

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The best month

October has long been my favorite month. When I lived in America, it was my favorite month because that’s when it got cool and nice after the sweltering summers of Texas. That’s not a big factor here because it’s always cool. It’s my fav month now due to the end of the monsoon rains. In any event, I love October.

Sitting on the printer.

Thirty years ago, I started a personal tradition. Every October, I purchased a small pumpkin and placed it atop my computer terminal at The Houston Chronicle.

I still do that today, but it has to sit atop my printer because my H-P All-in-One PC has no “top.”

Life goes on. For how much longer, nobody knows.

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*In December, all that grass and even more will be removed and replaced with stone and concrete. Oh, boy!