Tag Archives: Mardi Gras

Mulatto Ville

WE ESCAPED the Mardi Gras celebration in our hardscrabble neighborhood over the weekend by heading to the Gringo-invested burg of San Miguel de Allende.

I always find San Miguel unsettling to the soul. There is something just not right about it. It’s about as Mexican as I am, which is to say legally yes, spiritually no.

Perhaps Disneyland, but better: Mulatto* Ville.

It’s a combination of two very different worlds. Two mindsets, two races,** two cultures. And they do not stir well.

Oil and water.

Walking around downtown San Miguel, it’s all I can do to not burst out in howling laughter. The rayon shirts, the Bermuda shorts, the Birkenstocks, the berets, the feathers in the hat bands, the old white women*** wearing native blouses, the art paint smeared preciously on khaki pants.

So one might wonder, why do you go there? The main answer is restaurants. Mulatto Ville has great places to eat.

I enjoy eating.

And this recent trip was also to visit an old friend from high school who was wintering there, a retired university professor who included Marco Rubio among her students.

Another beautiful day in Dolores Hidalgo.

We took a drive north to Dolores Hidalgo where we had not gone directly downtown in a long time. We were pleasantly surprised, shocked even.

It’s a wonderful city that’s been undergoing renovation for a few years. Most of the plaza has been closed to vehicles. The church has been painted. Much of downtown too.

Some good restaurants and hotels can be found. And, unlike San Miguel, which has horrible streets and sidewalks, Dolores Hidalgo is flat, smooth and easily walkable.

It’s also one of Mexico’s main sources of talavara ceramics,**** the quantities of which are astounding and beautiful.

Next time we flee our area due to Carnival, we’ll be staying in Dolores Hidalgo, not south in Mulatto Ville.

In Dolores Hidalgo I spotted nary a Birkenstock*****.

* * * *

* I am playing loose with the word, of course. A true mulatto is the offspring of one white parent and one black one, à la Barry Hussein Obama who “identifies” as black.

** Oh, I know Mexican is not a race, but bear with me.

*** Why does everyone complain about Old White Men but never about Old White Women?

**** The other is Puebla. FYI.

***** My second ex-wife, now an Old White Woman, used to cringe at my own Birkenstocks, so perhaps I should avoid this point. Nowadays I sport Crocs but only at home.

Change of scenery

houston
Where I lived for 15 years. Houston.
street
Where I’ve lived for 17 years.

THE FIRST five years of my life, I resided in the countryside, a farm not far from Sylvester, Georgia.

The latest census puts Sylvester’s population at about 6,000 souls. Lord knows what it was in the late 1940s when I was toddling around there in the dirt.

My current mountaintop pueblo is home to about 80,000 folks, dwarfing the population of Sylvester, but 80,000 is a far cry from the 6 million you’ll find in Houston’s metropolitan area or even the 2 million in the city itself.

Before moving to my mountaintop, Houston was where I lived and worked. I don’t work anymore unless you count pulling weeds and watering veranda potted plants.

I play and relax.

The switch from Houston to this mountaintop pueblo was a drastic move. I’m a big-city boy. And my child bride is a big-city girl. Why are we here?

Lack of communication.

One morning, about two years after constructing and moving into the Hacienda, we were sitting on the veranda in our wicker rockers, talking. We discovered that we’d both have preferred settling in a big city.

How did we not know this? Answer: I assumed she wanted to live here because relatives live here, especially her favorite sister. She assumed I wanted to live here because I was here and had moved here intentionally.

But we never discussed it specifically. Dumb, huh?

Why not sell the Hacienda and move elsewhere? Actually, about that time, I did advertise it online, and got an offer for twice what we had paid to build this place.

But I chickened out because I love our home, and there is a large city nearby, the capital down the mountainside. But, aside from weekly Costco shopping jaunts, we rarely go there.

We’ve become small-city folks. But every time I see a photo of Houston, I sigh. And she likely does the same when we make our twice-a-year visits to Mexico City, which is where she lived when I found her.

But we can stand in the yard on dark nights and see stars from horizon to horizon. And I never heard roosters at dawn or burros anytime in Houston.

Just occasional gunfire.

* * * *

(Note: We’ll be home this afternoon from San Miguel de Allende where we fled on Sunday to avoid the worst of Carnival in our hardscrabble neighborhood.)

What the hey!?

new-image
Just this morning. Circle of hippie women and the green floral frog.

IT RAINED last night, which is against the rules.

Normally, February is clear, blue and cold at night, cool in the day. The last couple of days, however, have escaped the mold. It’s been overcast, cold and very windy.

This morning dawned overcast, but it’s mostly blue before 10 a.m., and the cursed wind has diminished.

Lots on the calendar. We will soon flee our hardscrabble barrio due to Carnival. We’ll go to San Miguel de Allende where, among other things, we’ll visit a friend of mine from high school. She and her husband are spending three months there.

They live in North Carolina.

She’ll be the first high school friend I’ve seen in over 40 years. She’s a retired professor of Chinese something-or-other. She’s very smart, which is why we were friends.

Shortly after returning, we’ll go to Mexico City for our twice-yearly airing of the condo. It’s highly likely that we will actually get our hands on the deed at last.

On returning from Mexico City, we’ll hire a crew to do stuff both here at the Hacienda and at our downtown Casita, mostly maintenance, but we’ll probably remove the grass, and plant stone and concrete in the yard’s semicircle.

yard
Photo from a few years back. We sold that blue Chevy in 2014.

I’ve been wanting to reduce the grass for years. Maybe it will start this year with that semicircle. Depends on the price. But the peso-dollar exchange rate makes me feel rich.

I’ll keep you posted next month because I know you’re on the edge of your seat about this.

In the meantime, I’ve got to walk the plaza now, take a shower, get dressed, drive to an outdoor market, buy veggies for stir-fry, and fix lunch. Pork chops, pasta and that stir-fry.

I’m a very handy hubby.

Carnival leftovers

morn

SEE THOSE hanging flags? They were placed there for our Mardi Gras festivities —  in February.

Folks put them up, but nobody ever takes them down. Eventually, the lines break, and they fall, little by little over months. But the banners keep us ever in a party mood.

The photo was taken about 7:30 a.m. Monday. Though it’s mid-April, it was just above 50 degrees, bracing, especially for an old coot in a black T-shirt. There was a bit of morning fog.

I came back in from that terraza, developed the photo and deposited it here. The sun rose more, the flags grew more colorful, a train passed, and another day began.

Bagels were served, and birds sang.

Faces of Easter

jesus
A very unhappy Jesus passes in a street of San Miguel.

WE SPENT two nights in San Miguel de Allende that, by pure chance, sat in Semana Santa, Easter Week.

We drove there to visit an old friend who had flown down from Texas with a couple who had invited him to share a few days in a vacation rental in the Gringo-infested town.

The old friend and I had planned this get-together months ago, neither realizing it was Semana Santa. It just dawned on me about two weeks ago.

Semana Santa, to Mexicans, is Spring Break with Jesus Christ. We have a multitude of religious ceremonies and Easter parades here on the mountaintop and tons of tourists, but I figured it would be calmer in San Miguel.

I could not have been more mistaken.

It was almost like Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Downtown was mobbed with people. Lines waited outside restaurants.

Streets were blocked.

We arrived Thursday for two nights and one full day — Good Friday — in a downtown hotel, and we left yesterday.

We had a great visit with the friend, and we came away with these two faces — photos — of Semana Santa.

A third photo shows another face, a sad one, a man who passed on the street in the best way he could. Every few feet he would stop, squat upright on the street, and jiggle his coin can.

What struck me most about him, apart from his disability, was that his hair was trimmed and slicked back very neatly.

Everyone has pride.

family
Everybody smile for the cameras, theirs and mine too.

Remains of carnival

flags

WE’RE FIRMLY into Lent, but the banners of Mardi Gras still wave wearily in the street outside the Hacienda.

As if to cement the locals’ faith, none other than the Pope himself, the Argentine leftist Francis, arrives next Tuesday at the capital city just down the mountainside.

I’ve never been this close to a Pope, nor do I want to be. He will create traffic jams and other annoyances, but he will be gone on Wednesday, and we’ll settle into our sins again.

Train of thoughts

rail

CARNIVAL JUST ended. Bring out the ashes. My hardscrabble neighborhood, more than any other here on the mountaintop, goes bananas for Mardi Gras.

Living just a block and a half from the plaza presents problems. The worst are the monster concerts that blare for four nights straight. We sleep with silicone earplugs.

Having lived 18 years in New Orleans, I know Carnival. What passes for Carnival here pales in comparison, but I think my neighborhood excels in noise, a Mexican specialty.

Roundabouts August, I am weary of rain, every year. Roundabouts February, I am weary of cold, every year. Walking through the living room this morning, it was, I’m guessing, about 50 degrees at most.

We have no climate control in the house. Our electricity bills are constant all year long. Constantly cheap.  I have not been in the United States in seven years and was there only sporadically, briefly, the nine years before that.

Most Americans live in sealed houses, which is great where temps vary wildly, but it’s pretty even here with the exception of January and February when it can freeze at night.

There’s no playing with a dial on the wall to make life sweet. The temperature just is. Here are a couple of other things. No junk mail in my post office box. No sales calls as we sit down to supper. Is that still common in America? Bet so.

My wife is the most important thing in my life. A close second is my Kindle. Departing a restaurant yesterday alone in the state capital, I left it unseen on a chair. The waiter chased me down outside to return it. Bless him.

That was very unlike me. Long ago, I formulated what we’ll call Felipe’s First Law of Placement, which is that you never put something important out of sight in, say, a restaurant unless you literally cannot leave without it.

Car keys or an umbrella during a downpour.

I abide religiously by the law, usually. Why did I break it yesterday? No clue. Got me to thinking. While I do not have a backup wife, I need a backup Kindle, so I ordered one today, a newer version, the Paperwhite.

A backup wife has appeal, but I don’t think I could get away with it, nor should I. Too old for that anyway.

I’ll close with that. We’re going to take our exercise walk around the plaza. Wonder what we’ll see this morning. Unconscious bodies? Blood stains on the cement?

We’ve seen both in the past.

Mardi Gras days

Carnival

CONTINUING THE old-photo theme I started Friday, we have here a shot from early 1966. That is me with my first wife, who went by the name of Ginger in those times, but not anymore.

She was, as the baggy blouse indicates, in a family way.

I was, as the beads draped around my head and neck and the Dixie beer can in my grip indicate, in an inebriated way. However, my fondness for booze did not really start till five years later.

We are standing outside a rooming house on St. Charles Avenue in Uptown New Orleans on Mardi Gras. A parade was passing in the street, which is how I caught those beads. I was 21, and she was 20.

This first marriage — for both of us — lasted a bit over five years. Ginger later married a more appropriate fellow, a great guy, and they’ve been together for decades. She had two more children. She’s now a therapist in New Orleans and, from what little I know, doing well.

Mardi Gras Mexicano

carnival

I LIVED 18 YEARS in New Orleans, which is a lot of Mardi Gras beads, raw oysters and Dixie beer.

Fact is that I’ve seen enough of Mardi Gras. I’m weary of it, but here I am living in the most Carnival-crazy neighborhood of my Mexican mountaintop town.

We don’t have parades that rival the Krewes of Louisiana, of course, but gangs of kids and grownups dress up and move through the streets, sometimes accompanied by trombones and tubas. And, of course, explosions because Mexicans never overlook an opportunity to light a fuse.

And there are huge concerts on the plaza a block and a half away. Every year there’s a concert Saturday night, Sunday night, Monday night, Tuesday night and one year, sacrilegiously, on Ash Wednesday night too. They just could not put a brake to it. They were too jazzed up.

I opened our front gate this morning to let a plumber in, and I found not just the plumber but this group of boys passing by. I had them pose for a photo, so I could share with you.

I am a sharing sort of fellow.