Next week we enter the first of the two worst months of the year here, April and May. They are dry and warm, a warm that comes indoors at night, especially upstairs where we have our evening salad with Netflix, and becomes incredibly stuffy.
The low upstairs ceiling does not help.
We strip to tank tops and skivvies. We have no air-conditioning, but two years ago we bought some sort of water-tank cooler, and it assists a lot upstairs, but it’s loud. For the bedroom downstairs we purchased an oscillating tower fan, which also is a boon.
Why we waited 15 years to make those meager moves is a mystery. Before we just suffered with a pedestal fan upstairs that blew heat around.
Downstairs, we had an elegant ceiling fan in the bedroom that was nearly useless. A saving grace of downstairs is a higher ceiling, especially in the living room. But even in the bedroom, the ceiling is higher than upstairs.
April and May are incredibly dry. The mountains turn brown. The campesinos burn fields, which sends ash and dust everywhere. You’d think we’d open the windows in the warm months, but we close them instead, keeping dust out and a bit of cool inside.
Spring is not a joyous time at the Hacienda. We just buck up.
WE’VE JUST BEGUN the worst month of the year. The best month is November, but this is the miserable month of May, the final wheeze of the dry season. Next month will bring the refreshing, daily downpours.
But for now, it’s dead grass and dust. We keep the windows closed for the most part to keep dust and heat outside. Well, what passes for heat here, which is a cakewalk compared to a summer in New Orleans or Houston, my old haunts.
People here complain about “the heat.” My child bride is especially prone to this. I snort and tell her she should spend a few summer days in Texas or South Louisiana. Then she would know heat. What we have here in May is a bit of discomfort, nothing more.
Speaking of the daily rains which are heading down the highway toward us, we’d like to get the entire glass roof atop the upstairs terraza in place before the skies open. Next Wednesday marks a month since I paid the deposit. They’ve installed six panes, and they have about 50 more to go. I’ll stop by their place Monday to bitch and moan.
Other news is that a nice couple just vacated our downtown Casita yesterday after a two-month stay, so it’s available for vacation rentals now. Just so you know.
For you, a special price. The Moon discount.
But back to May, we’ve actually been blessed a bit this year. It seems less unpleasant than previous Springs. We’ve used the air cooler less than usual upstairs in the evenings while we munch on salads and watch Netflix. And while it’s a tad warm in the bedroom as we drift off to sleep with the windows open, when 5 a.m. arrives it’s quite chilly.
Mornings are good here. Most things are good here.
THERE ARE LOTS of positive aspects to Mexican life. Food ain’t one of them.
Basically, here’s what we eat. Rice, chilies, cheese, beans and stuff made from corn. Pork chops are like old, thin, shoe soles. Beef is gristly. We do fairly well with chicken, especially roasted chicken.
We cannot make a decent salad, and when we make one we offer no dressing. We’re expected to squeeze lime juice on top, period. The Mexican table, at home or in restaurants, will have salt. It will not have pepper.
Here’s a partial list of what I miss from above the Rio Bravo:
Grits. A great way to start any day is a mound of grits next to runny eggs, white-bread toast, butter and jelly. You’d think that, due to Mexico’s love of corn, we’d have grits, but we have nary a grit.
Muffuletta sandwich. This is primarily a New Orleans thing. A good muffuletta is a religious experience. There is an Italian whiff about it. Get it to go, and walk down Decatur Street to Jackson Square. Sit on a bench.
Sausage like andouille, Italian and, especially, boudin. I do love boudin. Andouille and boudin are Cajun items. I lived in Louisiana for 18 years. Sausage in Mexico is usually greasy chorizo. It can be tasty. It can also spawn a heart attack.
Boiled crawfish. What I would not pay for a plate of spicy boiled crawfish and a couple of cold Dixie beers. If you say crayfish, please step away.
Po-boys. Best ordered in New Orleans. My favorite is Italian sausage, but since there is no Italian sausage here … I also used to eat fried-potato po-boys. Greasy French fries inside sliced French bread. Carb attack! But tasty!*
Boiled peanuts. Leaving Louisiana now and moving east. It’s a seasonal thing you’ll find in Georgia. Probably Alabama and Mississippi too. I could eat these things till I’m sick to my stomach.
Raw oysters. You can find raw oysters here sometimes, but not the big, plump ones. I wouldn’t eat them anyway. Not now, not anywhere. I don’t want to commit suicide. I ate my first raw oyster one afternoon in the bar of Schwegmann’s supermarket on Airline Highway in Metairie, Louisiana. I had quite a few beers in me or I wouldn’t have braved it.
Vietnamese pho. When the war ended, lots of refugees settled on the Texas Gulf coast. Houston is full of funky Vietnamese restaurants, and I used to eat in one almost daily. My favorite dish is something called pho. You’ll find no pho anywhere near me now, sadly.
Paella. This is a Spanish dish, not Mexican. Finding paella in Mexico is not difficult. Finding good paella is almost impossible. The only passable paella I’ve encountered was here in Ajijic. I used to frequent a wonderful Spanish eatery in Houston that served a killer paella. You had to phone in advance.
Fried catfish. Another Southern specialty you won’t find south of the Rio Bravo. I do so miss it. My child bride loves fried catfish after that evening we ate in a restaurant near the Howard Johnson’s motel on an interstate in central Alabama about 12 years back.
Alas, I am condemned to live out my life with tacos, tortillas, skinny beef and pork, rice, beans (never beans & rice like you get in New Orleans), and stuff swimming in melted, white cheese.
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* I weighed 50 pounds more when I lived in New Orleans.