Around the barrio …

New street light that looks to be solar. But maybe not.

Today is Ash Wednesday, which means yesterday was Mardi Gras or, as we call it hereabouts, Carnaval. Normally, it’s one of the worst periods in our hardscrabble barrio because the locals go loco with up to four nights of blaring concerts on the neighborhood plaza just a block and a half away.

In recent years, we’ve made it a habit to skedaddle to somewhere that’s not here. Last year we went to Guanajuato. This year we went nowhere because it was nice and quiet even though a Gringa who lives not far away in our hardscrabble barrio was complaining about freelance festivities on her street. I heard nothing.

No official Carnaval this year thanks to the Kung Flu.

Yes, I am not the only norteamericano who lives in the neighborhood, but I have been here the longest. Actually, I have been on the mountaintop longer than almost all Gringos and Canucks who now reside here, too many for my taste, actually.

Most belong in San Miguel de Allende.

Just here in the barrio, there is a Gringa in one home and a Gringo couple in another, all of whom arrived here long after we built the Hacienda. The Gringa lived downtown before moving nearby, and the couple, who are in their 90s, bought a big, fancy home from another Gringo couple who had bought it from another sole Gringo even earlier. I watched all these goings and comings from right here.

The initial owner of that property was a gay bookseller who returned to the United States and shortly died at a fairly young age. The second owners fled to Uruguay due to some police problems, according to gossip. The current owners seem to be really fine folks.


We had been warned yesterday that our state and quite a few others likely would suffer rolling blackouts as Mexico tried to cope with an energy crisis in the north of the nation, which was a result of the problems above the Rio Bravo, the Texans and their hippie fans. But nothing happened here. The lights stayed lit. More importantly, Netflix stayed lit.

Speaking of lights, over the past few days, a crew has traveled around our barrio changing street lights. Before, we had the large bulbous variety — the one outside the Hacienda had been burned out for over a year — and now we have the sleek version you see in the photo. I’m thinking that little circular, blue thing on the top means it’s solar-powered. I hope so. It’s a good use of solar power.

We have a solar water heater on our roof that does next to nothing. I have disconnected and given up on it. If you want it, it’s yours for the taking. No joke. It’s our second solar heater. The first did not work at all. The current one simply works badly, at times sending scalding water to the shower via the cold tap. Yes, the cold faucet.

This morning dawned cold, but it did not freeze last night as it did the previous three nights. How do I know? I check the birdbath at 8 a.m. Solid or not? Low-tech information.


Storefront update

Photo taken just this morning.
The middle of last year to provide perspective. That’s the lone builder and his wife.

Here’s a photo update on the storefront construction that lumbers on across the street. As previously mentioned, it’s being built by one man with the occasional assist of his wife who totes things. He works most days, but he wasn’t at work this morning. I suspect that’s because it’s Ash Wednesday.


It’s a lovely day, and we’ll be dining on beans, rice and sausage (from San Antonio) this afternoon. Later I’ll drive to a carwash, and after that I’ll head downtown for a nice café Americano negro on the plaza with a chocolate-chip cookie.

Google tofu boy calls 911

I’M A DEVOTED FOE of Google even though it’s hard to avoid online. I have a Gmail address which long was my primary, but I don’t use it anymore though I still have a Google account. It’s very difficult not to have a Google account.

If you don’t have a Google account, you’re cutting off your nose to spite your face. Alas, Google owns YouTube, one of the most interesting, fun and informative corners of the World Wide Web. I love YouTube. If anything has ever been filmed, it’s likely on YouTube.

I never say I’m Googling anything. I do “online searches,” and I use the oddly named DuckDuckGo search engine. It’s very good and not sneaky.

The folks who run Google are the sort of people who are ruining Western Civilization. The same kind of people run Facebook and Twitter, and since one can easily live without those two, I do not have accounts with them anymore. I don’t want to be an enabler.

Enjoy the video even though it’s on Google’s YouTube. Sigh.

* * * *

As I write this late Wednesday afternoon, it’s dark overhead and there are lightning flashes. This should not be happening in March which is the middle of the dry season on the mountaintop. Must be that global warming we hear about, eh?

Does global warming cause unseasonable rain? Lord knows. Ask Al Gore.

Why didn’t it storm yesterday, the last and most riotous day of Carnival in my hardscrabble neighborhood? Maybe it would have canceled the ear-splitting concert we endured last night till 3 a.m. Even my earplugs did not fully suppress the godawful racket.

Living in Mexico is not always a sack of tacos.

* * * *

(You may notice that I’ve reverted to a previous look for The Moon. And back are the wise quotes down the right-side column plus links to all manner of fascinating stuff. The same material was available in the last “look,” but it was hidden behind a Menu button. Who bothers to mess with that? Darn few. That’s who.)

Let the good times roll!

carnival
Well, not so much in this photo, taken early today, but just you wait!

IT’S MARDI GRAS weekend or, as it’s called in my hardscrabble barrio, el Carnaval.

I’m an old hand at Carnival, Mardi Gras, whatever you want to call it, due to living in New Orleans for 18 years. You want Carnival, go to New Orleans. There is nowhere else like it, even in Rio where, I’ve been told by a relative who went there, the hoopla is confined to a few square blocks. In New Orleans, it’s a citywide riot.

I would love to experience a New Orleans Mardi Gras one more time, but I doubt that will happen, so I’m left with drunken memories.

Likely would be less fun sober anyway, eh?

Here on the mountaintop, no neighborhood embraces Carnaval more enthusiastically than my hardscrabble barrio. Lucky me.

The banners over streets went up yesterday. The first bone-rattling concert will take place tonight. Then another tomorrow night. Then another Monday night. Then another Tuesday night. And at least once that I recall there was yet another on Wednesday night, a pure sacrilege.

That’s Ash Wednesday, for crissakes! Get a grip.

But when a Mexican faces a choice between the Virgin Mary, the Vatican and a fiesta, the fiesta will often win out. We do love our parties and the incredible racket that goes with them.

car
Mardi Gras 1966 in New Orleans with my first wife who was pregnant. I was 21, and she had just turned 20.

Here at the Hacienda we will sleep with silicone earplugs nightly through Tuesday, perhaps even Wednesday if they cannot apply the brakes.

Why don’t we leave town till Wednesday? I stupidly accepted a reservation at our Downtown Casita months ago before realizing the significance of the dates. They arrive Sunday. We’re trapped. I will not make that mistake next year.

Were I still a drinking man, perhaps I would enjoy the festivities, but I’m not, so I don’t. Feel my pain.

The City of Angels adventure

(Note: It’s advisable to read the previous post, The New York City Adventure, before reading this one.)

* * * *

GETTING OFF the Greyhound bus from New York City, there I was in Nashville, Hillbilly Heaven, and where my parents had relocated three years earlier.

My father picked me up at the bus station, drove me back to their apartment, phoned my mother where she was working, and said: Brace yourself.

Those very words.

I soon had a job at a small firm that refurbished mattresses. I and another guy would drive a truck to homes and pick up tatty mattresses that would be cleaned and returned to the owners. I worked there just long enough to save money for another Greyhound ticket, back to California.

My parents were still bracing themselves when I headed west again.

The ride from Nashville was not quite so long as the earlier trip from Los Angeles to New York, but it was a long haul nonetheless. Only a few months had passed.

I got off the bus in downtown Los Angeles, and a friend from the Air Force met me. I quickly found a studio apartment in Santa Monica and a job parking cars in a Beverly Hills lot. Things went downhill fast, economically and emotionally.

Just a few weeks later, I was broke. And living in Los Angeles without a car ain’t no cakewalk. I phoned my parents and asked for bus fare. Soon I was back on a Greyhound heading east to Nashville.

Shortly after my return, I enrolled at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, but that did not last long. Nothing lasted long for me in those times.

My parents were in Nashville because my father was working on The Tennessean newspaper. Within a year after my second return, my parents moved to New Orleans. I jumped into the Rambler’s back seat, going along for the ride.

New Orleans. Now that was a place where I felt at home.

For 18 years.

Two wives, one divorce, two (almost three) degrees, the newspaper business, bars, motorcycles, airplanes, raw oysters, Dixie Beer, crawfish and ketchup, hangovers, Mardi Gras … and even more Dixie Beer. It was a city that suited me.