Tag Archives: San Miguel de Allende Mexico

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.

Two to tango

WE MEXICANS are really incensed. We have been disrespected, as they say in the ‘hood. Oh, the effrontery!

The pinche (look it up) Gringo President Trump wants to build a wall along the border. What a slap in our faces.

And how undeserving!

We’re mad as hell, and we’re going to stop shopping at Sears, Costco and Walmart. Of course, that would only put the Mexican employees out of work, but it’s a price worth paying, shooting ourselves in the foot.

Those of you above the border cannot imagine how insulted we Mexicans are at this wall idea. Insulted, I tell you!

Here’s a post we might have titled Border Wall for Dummies. It  is the entire nasty matter in a nutshell.

First, both nations are equally — well, almost — at fault. For decades now, both Democrat and Republican administrations have ignored or even tacitly encouraged the immigrant invasion over the southern border.

Second, millions of Mexicans have been sneaking into the United States, tunneling below ground, climbing over fences, flying in with tourist visas and overstaying, backpacking across the arid deserts, you name it.

Some have been my relatives.

And all are in the United States illegally, millions, building neighborhoods, packing “sanctuary cities,” creating Little Mexicos all over the place.

Finding enchiladas has never been so simple.

It finally reached a boiling point for U.S. citizens, and that’s what put Trump into the Oval Office.

Americans are divided almost equally into two camps. On the left are the people who croon Kumbaya, reject national borders entirely and sincerely believe that all peoples, with a tiny bit of effort, can live in eternal peace.

In spite of there being absolutely no historical evidence to support this conviction. Quite the contrary.

It is the addled Flower Power mindset of the 1960s that has filtered down through the generations, and still thrives among a healthy percentage of the population.

These Kumbaya crooners, ironically, are the ones rioting in the streets and punching Republicans in the name of love.

On the Great Divide’s other side are people who believe in borders, who know that a nation is a tribe with a common culture, language, religion, race, something that merits and requires protection.

Reams of historical evidence support this fact.

* * *  *

TWO TO TANGO

Here in Mexico, we have a couple of notorious Gringo enclaves, particularly San Miguel de Allende and Ajijic, Jalisco.

new-imageMexico’s government puts the number of Americans living in Mexico at around 700,000.*

It’s very probable the overwhelming majority are here with visas or — like me — have become citizens, although that’s not very common.

Most are spread out quietly all over the nation, and most mind their own business. Mexican law forbids them from political activity, and marching in the streets waving U.S. flags and demanding “rights” would be outrageous.

You know, like illegals do in the United States.

It would lead to deportation.

Mexicans mostly ignore San Miguel and think it’s a cute place to visit. However, if there were hundreds of San Miguels instead of one, it would be very different.

And it would require hundreds of San Miguels and Ajijics across Mexico to be comparable to what now exists in the United States, to create an equivalency.

If there were hundreds of San Miguels full of Gringos here illegally, refusing to learn Spanish, opening little businesses selling grits, ham and red-eye gravy, there would be a national outcry. We would be apoplectic!

We would go postal!

Then the shoe would be on the other foot, and Mexicans might understand President Trump’s historic trip to the White House with a tad more clarity.

No nation really wants to be multicultural. Just up to a point, it’s interesting. After that, it gets nasty.

(No nation on earth apart from the white populations of North America and Western Europe embraces multiculturalism. Just those lands where hippies reigned in the 1960s. The Soviets shielded Eastern Europe from Flower Power.)

Mexico, in cahoots with the Democrat and Republican political establishments, brought us Trump.

It takes two to tango.

* * * *

* You’ll often read that one million Americans live in Mexico. This is a myth that has existed since before I moved south 17 years ago. I find the official 700,000 number a little difficult to believe, but perhaps it includes part-timers. And perhaps I misread, and it includes all foreigners, not just Gringos.

(Note: I saw on Twitter this morning that our President Peña Nieto has announced a new program to support and facilitate continuing education for young Mexicans who return from the United States. More positive effects from Trump.

(Furthermore, about 60 percent of Mexico’s exports currently go to the United States. Mexico recently announced it will begin widening its trade with other nations. This diversification is a positive thing, bought to us by Trump. )

“Liberal” response

loveAS OFTEN as one sees it, and that is too often, it’s hard not to roll one’s eyes at the ongoing response from “Democrats” to the victory of President-Elect Trump.

This morning I read a post from a left-wing blogger, a Cuban immigrant to the United States who’s now retired and living in the Gringo haven of San Miguel de Allende.

He will remain unnamed to avoid embarrassing him.

It was the same old stuff. Trump is a racist, misogynist, hater of gays, fascist, well, you know the long, familiar, silly list. And that Trump’s election spells the end of days.

The Earth has veered off course.

All of these epithets, of course, fly directly in the face of reality. Trump waved the Rainbow Flag during the campaign, never uttered a word against women or minorities,* but leftists have become so accustomed to hurling epithets that they simply don’t know how to apply the brakes.

It’s what they are: profanity, epithets and violence. It is the logical result of the politically correct obsession.

Trump, a guy from Queens, ran a bare-knuckle campaign, and it worked. Four years ago, Romney ran a cocktail-party campaign, and he lost. You cannot be polite facing today’s “Democrat” Party and have a prayer of winning.

After Nov. 8, Trump immediately halted the bare-knuckles approach, and now comports himself as a statesman. Polls indicate his likability has risen since his victory.

He’s named two women,** one a “minority,” to his Cabinet so far. There goes the misogyny and xenophobia.

Ben Carson may be the HUD secretary. There goes the racism. And if he does not name Carson, he will include blacks in his administration. Trust me.

But many Hillary lovers continue to behave in the manner you see at the top here, if not literally, then by word.

Today is Thanksgiving in the United States. Let us be thankful that Donald Trump won the election instead of the woman beloved by the thugs in the drawing above.

I leave you with Trump’s holiday message to the nation. It is a message of unity. Imagine that.

* Illegal aliens are not U.S. minorities. Almost all come from Latin America where they are the majority. In the United States, they are simply law-breakers.

** Nikki Haley, designated U.N. ambassador, is the daughter of Sikh immigrants. Betsy DeVos, a champion of charter schools, is the Education Department choice.

The arch at night

arch

HEADING TO bed the other night, I turned around and saw this, and it occurred to me that I’d never taken a straight-on shot of the arch.

The camera was sitting on a table by the front door just off to the left, so I grabbed it, set it on flash, and shot this picture. I almost never use the flash, but it was necessary.

I was standing in near-total darkness.

Those two large plates hanging on either side of the arch were purchased years apart. The one on the left we bought about a decade ago during a trip to Taxco. The one on the right we bought more recently in Ajijic, Jalisco.

Ajijic, like San Miguel de Allende, is one of the most beloved spots for Gringos who want to live down here, do “art,” and not have to be bothered with learning pesky Spanish.

See those two carved-wood columns at the bases of the arch? That was my child bride’s idea. She came up with some doozies during the Hacienda construction.

About a week after moving into the house in 2003, we had a party to show it off to people we knew here. It was back before I turned into an almost complete hermit.

One of our invitees brought someone visiting from above the Rio Bravo. He was an architect, and he told me that finding someone in the United States who could build that arch would be almost impossible these days.

The old guy who built ours, Don Felipe Gonzalez, did it by hand, and it was interesting to watch the work. He was the boss of the three-man construction crew. Don Felipe turned 70 during the construction, and he’s since died.

He also chipped stone blocks out of rock piles to build the two fireplaces and, later, the Alamo Wall out in the yard. He did them by himself. Don Felipe was an artist.

When we hired him to build the Hacienda, he was 69 and just recovering from a lengthy illness of some sort. He was having trouble finding work due to his age.

Ageism, sexism, almost all the isms, thrive in Mexico.

People thought he was not up to it. He was recommended by a relative, and Don Felipe gave us an exceptionally low price for the labor. We jumped at it.

He’s long gone, but I think of his talent almost daily as I wander around here, even late at night before beddy-bye.

Summer moments

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A corner of the veranda starring Bart Guevara.

SATURDAY MORNING, yesterday, and Elvis is crooning love songs on the living room’s music machine.

The far edge of July.

I was communicating via email at dawn with my friend Ray in Alabama who was telling me what I already knew, that Alabama is no place to be in summer, weather-wise.

Here, of course, it’s cool and damp all summer, even into autumn. After that, it’s just cool but not damp.

Heavenly.

After talking to Ray, whom I hope to meet in person one day, I ate a bagel with cream cheese, light, with my child bride, and she hastened out to her pastry kitchen for final touches on Saturday’s sale on the plaza.

First, I went to the living room to turn on Elvis. Then I went outside to chores like wiping the tabletop and chairs on the Jesus Patio, pulling weeds, pushing the mower out for Abel the Deadpan Yardman who arrives at 10 o’clock.

I swept the cushions on the rockers on the veranda before taking the photo above. We bought the big ceramic tile with Bart Guevara on our last visit to San Miguel. We found it on the highway between San Miguel and Dolores Hidalgo.

Though cool and damp, as always, the morning sky was blue and the sun shone sweetly. It’s a great place to live.

As night fell on Saturday, the grass was shorn, we’d lunched on roasted chicken, rice, chiles and soft-drink Sangría out by the highway in a humble place with earthen walls, afternoon rain had fallen and departed, pastries had all been sold on the downtown plaza, and it was cool and damp.

Thanks for stopping by.

Summer moments. With Elvis.

And Bart Guevara.

One of our pastry customers yesterday.
One of our pastry customers yesterday.

 

Change of scenery

I SPENT MOST of my life before age 55 in hot zones. Southwest Georgia, northeast Florida, south Louisiana and east Texas.

I know sweat, and I don’t like it one bit.

So when I leaped off the treadmill, I opted for a big — very big — change of scenery not only in moving to Mexico but in settling atop an ever-cool mountain.

We  live 7,200 feet above the faraway sea — the Pacific Ocean — and we enjoy cool weather year-round. It can get a bit stuffy in the afternoons and early evenings of springtime, but it’s a small price to pay for the other 98 percent of the year.

Sometimes we like to visit a beach, and almost invariably we go to Zihuatanejo, which is about three hours from the Hacienda down a smooth autopista* past mango and avocado trees and high mountain lakes.

That’s our favorite beach, La Ropa, in the video.

If the urge to visit a throbbing megalopolis strikes, it’s about four hours, also on a smooth autopista, to Mexico City, or three hours in the other direction to Guadalajara.

If I don’t want to fight the traffic or teeming mobs of Mexico City, but I do want a wider variety of restaurants than we have here on the mountaintop, it’s less than a three-hour drive northeast to San Miguel de Allende.

Also on, of course, a smooth autopista.

In San Miguel, we now overnight at the Hotel Quinta Loreto right downtown, wonderfully located, not elegant but quite comfy, and a big room costs about $38 these days.**

The fabulous Café MuRo is less than a block away.

Sure, you have to elbow aside hordes of Gringos in San Miguel, both those who live there so they don’t have to learn Spanish and tourists who flock there for the same reason.

But that’s a minor distraction.

Then we return to the cool mountain air.

Changes of scenery are available in every direction.

It’s dang sweet.

* * * *

* An autopista is a fast-traveling toll highway. The tolls, which can be a bit high, keep the riffraff away.

** Including tax!

The last passport

CROOOOSH! squealed the black-haired, buxom, white-skinned, freckle-faced (think glass of goat milk sprinkled with cinnamon) Argentine as she leaned over the railing.

From five stories up, she had spotted the soft-drink truck parked on Calle Norzagaray in Old San Juan.*

It was Orange Crush that excited her 40 years ago. It wasn’t a soft drink that I favored then or now. But that moment seared onto my memory stone, and the memory appeared again this week in San Miguel de Allende.

I was with another young, lovely Latina, but this time sitting in El Comal de Doña Meche on Calle Insurgentes in the Gringo-infested outpost of San Miguel.

El Comal de Doña Meche is a gorditas joint.

Faced with a cooler stocked with varieties of soft drinks, I chose first an apple flavor, and we polished that off. I returned and spotted the Orange Crush, so I pulled that out, popped the top and set it on the table. Croooosh!

I can’t recall important things from last week. Yet I remember this silly thing decades later. I could almost smell the salt surf pounding the playa down at La Perla.

We were in San Miguel to renew my U.S. passport at the Consular Agency. It was a smooth process, and I arrived at 9:30 a.m. to find only one person ahead of me in line.

US-PassportcoverUnlike my Mexican passport, which is delivered on the same day it’s requested, the U.S. passport will be express-mailed to me in a couple of weeks.

Like the Mexican version, which I renewed not long ago, the document is good for 10 years. I will be into my early 80s, so these will, I imagine, be my last passport renewals.

And we celebrated with gorditas and Croooosh!

* * * *

* The photo seen in the link shows the five-story, pink building where I lived on the roof.

Easy living

hammock

I RECONNECTED  with an old friend recently in San Miguel de Allende. We hadn’t seen one another in 15 years.

Over breakfast he asked me about living in Mexico, what most I liked or disliked about it. After pondering a moment, the first thing out of my mouth was that living in Mexico is easier than living above the Rio Bravo. And cheaper, of course.

This came to my mind again three days ago due to an event that beautifully illustrates what I said.

Walking out to the Honda with the intention of going downtown for a nice café Americano negro and to run a few errands, I discovered the battery was stone dead.

It was the second battery in the seven-year-old car, but I had changed the first battery before it left me stranded.

That same morning I had driven the car to various places with no indication the battery had one foot in the grave. The car cranked immediately with no hesitation.

In the afternoon, however, I was surprised at the secondary effects. The doors opened, but the trunk door wouldn’t. The automatic gear shift would not budge from Park.

Here’s what happened next when the easy and inexpensive elements of Mexican life came into play:

My wife had already driven downtown in her Nissan March. I phoned her and explained the problem. She drove home, first stopping at a garage where a mechanic immediately dropped what he was doing and came with her.

I was not totally convinced at that point that the problem was a dead battery, due to the odd — to me — side effects.

The mechanic determined that it was a dead battery. We three returned to the Nissan, dropped him off at his garage, and continued to a battery store to buy a new one.

We returned to the garage, picked up the mechanic, and the three of us returned to the Hacienda where he installed the new battery. My wife headed to the gym in the Nissan.

The mechanic and I drove the Honda to his garage, where he charged me 50 pesos, about three bucks.

The entire drama lasted about 90 minutes.

Hula hoop girls

hula

SITTING ON the big plaza eating a cupcake I purchased from the bakery just back of the concrete bench where I was perched, I watched the hula hoop girls yesterday.

Girls just wanna have fun.

Purple banners are going up around the plaza in preparation for Semana Santa, Holy Week, which is a big deal around here, almost as big — or HUGE, as  Donald Trump would say –as Los Muertos, the Day of the Dead.

silencio

There are a number of religious processions downtown during Holy Week, and my favorite is the Procession of Silence, which passes by silently, as advertised. That’s it in the photo, another year, and, yes, they dress up like Klansmen.

But we’ll be missing that parade this year because part of next week will find us in the Gringo-infested town of San Miguel de Allende. I’ll be visiting the consular office to renew my U.S. passport, a passport I don’t anticipate ever needing again, but it’s a habit I cannot seem to break.

We’ll be staying downtown at the Hotel Quinta Loreto. It will be our first stay at that hotel.

While Friday will be spent renewing the passport, on Saturday we’ll be visiting with an old friend whom I’ve not seen in 15 years, the psychologist who stitched my heart back together after my last divorce in the mid-1990s.

He’s visiting San Miguel for only four days, his first trip there. He lives in Austin, Texas.

But that is next week. This week — today, actually — we’re having a birthday party at the Hacienda. Our nephew, the lad once known as the Little Vaquero — turns 13. It seems like only yesterday that he was brought home from the hospital with those huge ears that look quite normal now.

And there you have it: hula hoop girls, Holy Week, San Miguel de Allende and the birthday party.

It’s just one thing after another.