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.

Sunday at the cemetery

Lots of folks have seen cemetery photos from Mexico’s famous Day of the Dead, but far less seen are those same places photographed a month later when the pizazz has worn off, and the mourners have moved on. We took a Sunday drive and passed the graveyard in the picturesquely named village of Cucuchucho.

We parked the Honda by the cemetery’s front gate and found it unlocked.

Sick unto death

catrinaFOR MANY years before relocating to Mexico, I was a big fan of the Day of the Dead tradition. In my Houston condo, I had a ceramic Catrina on my bathroom counter, one that a Mexican crafts store outrageously overcharged me for, which I didn’t know then.

It had been marked up about 10 times. Double is the norm. Those crafty Mexicans.

By pure dumb luck I settled in one of the two most popular and highly publicized towns in the entire republic for Los Muertos, as the Day of the Dead is commonly known in Mexico. The other is Oaxaca.

This really tickled me 19 years ago. Now I’m just ticked off. The tourist mobs have grown to stunning levels and, for that reason, this year we are fleeing for the first time.

We’re riding a bus to Guadalajara late next week.

I have not been to Guadalajara since 2000. Our mountaintop town is located about halfway between Guadalajara and Mexico City. Actually, it’s a bit closer to Guadalajara. In spite of that, I have visited Mexico City a gadzillion times, and I have not returned to Guadalajara since my mother (R.I.P.) and my sister visited in that long-ago summer. I picked them up at the airport there, and then returned them a week later.

We’ll be staying in a downtown hotel that’s two blocks from the Hotel Morales, which is where I stayed three nights after flying to Guadalajara from Atlanta on January 19, 2000. It’ll be fun to take a peek into there for ole times sake. I tried to book a room at the Morales, but nothing was available for the dates of our visit.

We’ll be visiting the famous zoo and eating some Vietnamese pho, which I love. Other than those two things, nothing much is planned. We’ll just wander around. This will be our first trip to someplace “new” since our 2013 visit to Mérida. We don’t travel much.

What I remember most about Guadalajara is the atrocious quantity of pigeons that pollute the downtown plazas. I’m not a fan of pigeons, nasty birds.

But there will probably be more tourists here next weekend than there are pigeons soiling the center of Guadalajara. Gotta pick your poisons.