Zapata Tales, revisited

THOSE WHO HAVE passed through this corner of Mexican cyberspace for more than three years will remember its previous incarnation, The Zapata Tales.

That old boy is gone now, offline, but I took a peek recently and found some photos and other items I will share — reissue — today. Some things are worth repeating.

Let us start with a post, the final one, from The Tales. It was also where the title of this website originated — The Unseen Moon, which came to me out of the blue even though I have since seen it used elsewhere.

* * * *

The Old Wolf

It had rained most of the night, but not now, so he stood quietly so not to waken his mate. He left the cave to trot the short distance to the overlook. Clouds were clearing and he sat on his haunches and viewed the incredible distance, the morning valley below and the faraway mountains.

They had left the old home because Homo erectus became more of a worry down in the valley. Now they lived in a different cave that was very high and well hidden. Homo erectus was no threat here.

They lived in peace, eating the occasional rodent and rabbit that were becoming more difficult to catch. He was not as quick as before and gray covered his snout. One fang ached now and then.

His mate, whom he loved so, had caught a burr in a back paw. She never got it out, and it festered. He did all the running now, and sometimes he came back to the cave breathing heavily.

wolf-8978911But with a rabbit. He would always have a rabbit or something like that. It had to be done if they were to eat and continue.

There had been pups over the years. Those were very happy times, the little ones climbing over his chest and biting his ears. He loved that. But they had gone.

They had found their own mates and walked far away.

This cliff edge where he sat now was a favored spot.  At night he saw the moon, and he howled at it. He didn’t know why he did that. He only knew that he had to, that it was absolutely required.

How would the moon hang in the sky without his songs?

He thought about how he had met his mate so many years ago. They were young together, and they played among the trees farther down the valley. One day she smelled like a ripe pine nut, and they got married in the bushes. She had never given him anything but joy.

* * * *

The years had passed. The pups. Hunting and being hunted by Homo erectus. Fresh mountain summers and cold winters of snow, which were the hardest times. But most times were good. Few were bad.

In both the first cave far below and this new higher home, distant from Homo erectus, they had slept all those nights atop brown leaves with their bodies touching. Their spirit of love had never waned, and it was warming in the winter, cooling in summer.

* * * *

As he sat this morning on the cliff watching the clouds disperse and the sun rising over the distant damp crests, he thought of these things as he did more and more in recent weeks.

And his fang ached.

He stood with a deep sigh and walked toward the cave entrance. His mate would be awake by now, waiting. But she was not. She lay where he had left her. He drew near and nudged her with his old nose.

The cave was quiet. He heard spiders climbing the walls. A hollow sound crept from the farther depths where they had never dared to walk, deep in the cavern. His heart grew chill. His love had died.

He sat and stared at her. He inhaled deeply. He turned to look at the cave entrance where there was more light. After an hour he stood and walked back to the overlook. It was a brilliant morning.

He asked the unseen moon: What am I going to do?

* * * *

.z

Let’s turn to photos now. This is my wife looking at our lake from a very high point about six years ago. I like the woman. I like the lake. I like the mountains. I like the nation, warts and all.

downtown
A corner downtown.
A street downtown.
A clay bowl.
A clay bowl.

My first year below the Rio Bravo, before I married, before I built the Hacienda, I drove alone in my shiny new Chevy hatchback to Querétaro. Passing an art shop, I saw this bowl through the window. I bought it.

Today it sits in the Hacienda living room, full of Hershey’s Kisses. You wanna kiss. You know where to find one.

hammock
Feet in the hammock.

Years back, I used to spend hours, reading, dozing, daydreaming, marveling, in the hammock on the upstairs terraza. Now I almost never do that. Don’t know precisely why. The hammock is still there.

Cloudy mountains.
Cloudy mountains.

This is not far from our house. We see this every weekday morning when we do our power walk around the neighborhood plaza. Sometimes there are clouds, sometimes not.

cistern

A few years back, we had a new cistern dug. I went spelunking with a camera.

* * * *

The Zapata Tales  had a column running down the right side, particularly interesting remarks culled from readers’ comments. I put them there for two reasons: 1. They made me feel good. 2. They were a lure to new readers who might have just glanced about and departed.

Here are just a few:

You never cease to amuse and amaze me.

Pretentious dolt!

You have brought so much joy and a little irritation.

You disgust me (a paraphrase).

Wise, wry writing from a beautiful place.

What a nice piece of heaven you share.

You’re like a drunk uncle.

You’re a right-wing wacko.

God, you are hysterical!

You are a treasure on the electron highway.

There were many more, but you get the idea. I rarely get those types of comments on The Unseen Moon. Not quite sure why. I have mentioned that my mind has changed. One reader, on hearing that confession, suggested seriously that I seek medical help due to senile dementia or perhaps impending lunacy. I have yet to do that.

The Tales  were more lyrical and romantic thanThe Moon.  Life settles down. The Tales  were referenced in Carl Franz’s People’s Guide to Mexico, the tour book popular with hippies who eat brown rice and drink goat’s milk.

* * * *

Remains of monster maguey.
Remains of monster maguey.

I planted this maguey when it was quite tiny. It grew. And grew. And grew. I had to get rid of it. These two fellows first cut the fronds off, leaving the base, which was unearthed and toted away.

I’ll never make that mistake again.

outlands

A street in the neighborhood. I could tell you who lives here, but then I’d have to kill you.

Scene inside the Hacienda.
Scene inside the Hacienda.
nearby2
Local beauty parlor.

* * * *

The Zapata Tales ran for six years. The Unseen Moon has shone for three. The daily readership count is about the same. The former focused on my life in Mexico, the latter, not so much.

Things change. Minds change. I doubt I will seek psychological help. What’s the point?

Old wolves don’t need no stinkin’ shrinks.

I hope you enjoyed the lupine Tale and photos.

It’s going to be a wonderful day.

Misplaced Mexican

I AM A MEXICAN? I don’t think so.

Two bloggers this week have put emphasis on my alienation. One, Billie Mercer, steered me to a series of her ever-excellent photos, taken in Houston’s Sixth Ward.

I miss Houston. I felt at home in Houston. I lived there 15 years.

The other, Kim G, is taking a road trip from his home in Boston — destination Mérida — in a rattletrap pickup truck. As I write this, he is in the Old South where I was born and spent 96 percent* of my life. He headed to New Orleans today.

I miss New Orleans where I lived 18 years. I felt at home there.

cottonFourteen years ago I abandoned not just the Old South, which is quite different from the rest of the nation, but the United States itself. I did it for no political reasons.

I was not angry about anything. I just wanted an adventure, and I got it. Full bore.

I married a Mexican. I became a paperwork Mexican. I built a Mexican home. I learned Spanish pretty good. I have a feed bag of Mexican relatives. They all see me as an alien.

And I am.

Lots of Americans — Gringos, we call ’em — have moved to Mexico, retirees mostly. They all love Mexico so much, but they all head back over the northern border frequently “to visit.” I don’t do that, and I don’t love Mexico, though I find it very interesting and a good place to live, really, especially in light of America’s sad, ongoing disintegration.

I enjoy walking around the plaza, sitting at a sidewalk café, hearing a foreign tongue, living in a land where the government pretty much leaves you in peace. I love the lower cost of living, the superlative healthcare system, the roasted chicken.

I even like tacos.

But where is the rustle of leaves through Spanish moss as moonlight peeks through the pines? The gumbo, snap beans, creamed corn, genuine friendliness, fried okra, jambalaya, mint juleps, fields of peanuts and cotton, red clay roads and bluebirds?

Long gone … for good … for me.

* * * *

* The other 4 percent was spent in Puerto Rico and California.