Thursday, August 10, 2017

"Waves of Tourists Rolling In"

For the last five weeks, while the school kids of Mexico have been on vacation, and even though we
are totally inland in the mountains, it HAS felt like waves of tourists have taken over the town.

Instead of photos of gridlock traffic or streets and sidewalks packed with people, not to mention the restaurants, I thought a scene that my seven year old grandson took of the bird from Forevertron in
Wisconsin, who resides in my garden, was more tranquil.

To what do we owe these "waves of tourists"?   Several factors.  There has been a diligent campaign within the country of Mexico to bring more Mexican nationals to San Miguel.  Add to that the plethora of new cars, the much better highways to get here and an increase in income for every day
citizens.  It has been a perfect storm.  Well, perfect to some but not to others............

The roundabouts to arrive in San Miguel have been clogged with traffic arriving from Estado de Mexico, primarily (Mexico City), Michoacan, Sinaloa, Cabo, Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, Colima, Jalisco, just to name a few.  Several of those license plates are from far, far away.  Especially Cabo and Sinaloa.  I have been surprised to notice so many foreign plates instead of our Guanajuato plates.

Our town is very narrow tiny streets - usually one way.  Those coming from far away and have never been here are seen going one way, the wrong way usually, and totally lost and have no idea how to find a place to park.  Hopefully some day soon, the proposed parking lots on the outskirts of town will be built with transportation from those lots to town.

The municipal authorities finally did close all the main streets in centro to allow them to be used for pedestrians only, but that just served to back up traffic even more so.  What a mess.  San Miguel is a town of 67,000 - many a weekend our numbers more then double with tourism.  Soon, however, the kids will be back in school and our streets and sidewalks will return to their normal flow.  No more waves..........well until mid-September, ha.

The statistics that have been released for 2017 showing the tourism numbers for people arriving in Mexico to visit are equally staggering.  In the first three months of 2017, the number of tourists coming from mainly the USA was 9.3 million!  Luckily, most of those are going to beach places.

Documentation shows the number of visitors in order of numbers are, USA, Canada, UK, Argentina, Columbia, Spain, Brazil, Germany and France.

The number of tourists from other countries for 2016 was 35 million.  With a standing of seventh in the world in tourism, Mexico expects those numbers to continue to climb.

In the forty years that I have either been working or living in Mexico, I have seen this country morph from a country in another century to a country that has much now that is leading edge.  It truly has
been an honor to watch Mexico enter the 21st century and bring so much joy to so many.

Friday, August 04, 2017

The Wall Murals of Escuela Montes de Oca

It used to be frowned on.  Wall art or graffiti or murals, whichever name you wish to define it with.
But, the latest murals at the school near my house are beautifully executed by a man with spray cans!

It is hard to believe, but I have been mesmerized by his talent and his finished art - the wall murals of Escuela Montes de Oca.

He painted the first section in February of this year. Then he waited until the school raised more funds for him to finish the second section.  Here it is.  As you look at the photos, remind yourself that
this work was done with spray cans of paint!



The artist is Francisco "Nadie" Vega or Don Catrin.  His phone number is 415 100-3547 and his email address is franknadievega@hotmail.com   He speaks some English and is a very lovely person.

For a couple of days his little girl came with him and sat on the sidewalk with her chalk and paper drawing quietly.  I always am impressed how Mexican people bring their children with them to work and the children are so well behaved.  Truly amazing.

Nadie is waiting for the school to get the funds for him to redo the mural in the school on a big wall that in my many years here has been painted and redone twice, but never by anyone as talented as
this artist.

Nadie puts so much symbolism into his work and his attention to detail is awesome.  If you click on the photos, hopefully they will enlarge and you can see the detail.

Drive down Cuitlahuac in Col. Azteca some time to see this work in person.  Now if you look at Google Maps, they will have incorrectly named the street Cuahtemoc, but it is in fact, Cuitlahuac.
 Also on some old street maps of San Miguel the street is identified as San Marcos because the people in the white house at the corner named their house that at least 30 years ago, before there was much development up here.  Anyway, on one side of the street it says San Marcos, on the other Cuitlahuac at the corner!  It is typical of Mexico.............and makes me laugh often.


Saturday, July 29, 2017

Mixing It Up!

Most of us, I think, are creatures of habit.  I have become such a thing, much to my surprise.  My life
used to be one of no two waking hours alike, but now time has settled into a soft, rumbling, pattern.

This morning, when I awakened at 6:15AM, bright eyed and bushy tailed, the plan changed.  I decided that instead of turning over and going back to sleep that I would get up and see the sunrise.
Something that I have not done in a very, very long time.

Pulling back the drapes, the sky was lavender, blue and pink.  I did not even turn around and instantly
make my bed, a morning ritual.  No, I scurried upstairs, slowly (ha) and got a cup of coffee ready to settle in my favorite chair to watch the sky. 

Then it happened. I saw a hot air balloon.  Oh my.  Then another.  I then slowly scurried to the roof top and saw, in all its glory, the sky, the distant mountains..........and the two hot air balloons.  By now it was not even 7:30AM. 

There is a whole other world at that time of the morning.  Complete silence up here on the hill except for the slight swoosh of the hot air balloons in the distance.

A feeling of complete contentment entered as I watched a scene that could have been out of a movie.
Truly beautiful.

Then it happened again, a sound.  I looked up and it was the white ibis heading up over the edge of the mountain to the Botanical Gardens.  The sound that I heard..........their wings flapping.

No one could plan for such an exquisite experience.  The Universe just decided to present it this morning and I just happened to be around to enjoy it.

I think I need to head to the roof terrace more often.  The whole morning has been an experience of peacefulness and contentment.

Viva Mexico!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

NEVER a dull moment in Mexico!

Every morning when I awaken, one of the first things I do is open the drapes from across the wall of windows that look out on the downstairs patio. 

Often, believe it or not, there IS a surprise!
This was what I saw when I looked out one morning.  Construction plastic tape saying "Be careful".
It had been wrapped along the new pathway that had been created for the students.  A wind came up during the night with a storm.  It obviously blew into the trees.  Of course I could not remove it, it was shortly after my accident and with my arm in a sling, it seemed like not something I should do.
Javier came to the rescue, thankfully.  But, I must admit, I did chuckle when I first saw the mess.

Last week, one early morning, I heard the familiar "whoosh" of the hot air balloons as I opened the drapes.  What a lovely sight to begin the day.  I quickly grabbed the camera to capture this sight. The hot air balloons always cause me to stop and pause in awe.  IF they dip down over the garden, I sometimes go out and wave to the people.

The same day that I saw the hot air balloon, as I arrived for coffee with the group, I looked up to
the roof of the old municipal building and saw this scene!  What it was all about, one can only speculate.  We decided it must be a commercial or video being filmed.  Who knows?  It does
cause one to chuckle though.

One of the most astonishing and delightful sights in the garden happened last week as well.  As I started to sit down in the chaise in the living room, I looked up and was startled to see baby kittens moving around in the garden.

This saga began quite a while ago.  The mama cat has, from time to time, decided to come through the garden and sleep in a flower pot or scurry through.  One day a few months ago I noticed how emaciated she was as well as the fact that she was very, very pregnant.  So, I began to feed her.

Although I was in Texas for three weeks and no one was here to feed her, I doubted she would still be here when I returned.  She was not for the first few days after I returned, but then one morning she appeared.  I began to feed her again.

Then one morning I thought I heard a faint mewing sound.  I looked all over the garden and decided that if she had had the kittens (it looked as though she had) then she had hidden them in the big aloe vera with huge thorns.  I was not about to attempt to check in there.  I no longer heard the mewing after that day and figured she had moved them down in the canyon or somewhere. 

One morning last week, when I opened the drapes, the mama was sitting out in the open by my patio door. Very unusual as she usually hovered under the chaises down there.  As soon as I went upstairs to unlock the door and put food out, there she was, rather close to me.  In the past she would still not
get near me - even after several years.  But, she was getting closer and closer.  Of course I was talking to her and I do believe that she finally realized that she was safe.

Then the next day the photo above was what I saw.  There is a grey tabby and two precious black and white kittens.  Even the grey and white male dad has shown up!  It's a whole family.  They all come down to drink out of the big water bowl that I have on the ground for butterflies.  What a sight!

One of the little black and white ones has a round white circle on its black back.  Yup, now I can open the drapes in the morning and see them scampering around.  Unfortunately they are feral and will not
let me near them.  I see them running around in the plants and trees. The garden is a jungle to them.

What a treat!  Truly live in Mexico is never dull................








Sunday, July 16, 2017

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico - Voted #1 in the WORLD by Travel & Leisure Magazine

                                          Photo taken on the Eve of Dia de los Muertos in jardin
                                                 in San Miguel several years ago.

It has happened again!  A national publication's readers have voted San Miguel de Allende the #1 place to visit in the WORLD.  It is totally astonishing to those of us who live here.  We do shake our heads in wonderment that our little village of about 67,000 people is recognized world over.

After all, we're not Paris or Florence or NYC, we are San Miguel, a little village that you can walk from one side to the other in 45 minutes or less. 

It is quite a feat to be in this place at this time.  We are honored and proud along with being a little concerned about the ramifications of more people knowing about this place that has three or four narrow roads into it. 

In 2008, UNESCO named the church at Atotonilco a World Heritage site.  At the same time, San Miguel due to its architecture and all the other wonderful things, was included in that designation.

It did impact the number of world travelers who have arrived.  It also has increased greatly the number of Mexican nationals who now travel from all over the country of Mexico to San Miguel.
I hate to confess, but on the weekends the traffic is a gridlock.  I see car licenses even from Baja.
Once they get to the town, the very few parking lots have little signs and no one knows where to go.
Most of the streets are one way because they were built for carriages, not cars!  It is a pedestrian
place not really set up for cars. 

Other then that, it is quite an amazing place to visit as well as to live.  As you know, I've been here seventeen years.  Every now and then I get the itch to move somewhere else in Mexico, but to tell
you the truth,  I can't think of where that would be.  It truly captures your heart.

Over the years the amount of high quality restaurants have opened.  Having formerly been a big "foodie", it certainly is a treat......for those who can afford the fancy schmancy places.  They are not the rule though, but the exception.  One can still have a magnificent breakfast for well under $5USD and a lunch for well under $10USD.  And, if eating on the streets, at the little stalls, anytime is usually under $5USD for delicious food.  Think carnitas, tacos al pastor, soups.  It is all here. Oh, and our bakeries.  Oh my.

It also is the norm for people to come here to visit, become so charmed that within a week, they buy a house and go back to sell off everything and move here.  I'm not kidding.  It is astonishing!

Usually when Travel and Leisure or Conde Nast, who also named San Miguel #1 in the world a few years ago, send writers here to write an article, they get their info from some uninformed sources. 

One article I just read said there are 20,000 expats here.  That is nonsense.  It is more like, maybe 7,500, if that many - full time.  The realtors want people to think the larger number, but it is not true.  I've checked this fact with the Immigration office here where people get visas. 

San Miguel is not only known for its visual beauty but for its festivals.  We locals feel like there is one almost every week accompanied by church bells and fireworks.  Some complain but I find it endearing to hear fireworks at dawn and sunset..........and sometimes earlier then dawn.  Most of us who have been here a long time, just turn over and go back to sleep at dawn.  Tee hee.

The festivals include, to name just a very few, a Jazz Festival, an International Music Festival, Independence Day in September, the Alborada the end of September when many indigenous tribes come and parade and dance in the jardin in full regalia.  It is spectacular.  December is a quiet time until the posadas start in mid month when people dressed as Mary and Joseph with burros and others walk the streets of San Miguel looking for lodging in a replay of the Birth of Christ. Christmas here is all about that, not presents.  Presents come in January on Three King's Day.  Then in February we have a magnificent flower market with growers from all over Mexico.  Our winter is ending and we all go gleefully to buy more plants. 

I could go on and on.  With all the saints and trades here that are honored, truly, there is almost something going on every day.  Life is never dull.

Can you tell that I love this village?  You would too, if you came to visit.  World travelers come here not expecting much and by the time they leave, they are planning a return.  It does grab your heart.

Let me know when you're coming to check it out for yourself.  I'd love to meet you in the jardin for a cappuccino or conversation........or both!

Viva Mexico!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Onward!

Another title for this post could have been "a stitch in time", but onward seems more appropriate.

The "episode" or adventure have moved forward after seventeen days of being disabled.  The stitches were removed today.

Don't believe it if anyone ever tells you that removing stitches doesn't hurt.  Baloney.  Luckily, although the doctor had said there were well over one hundred stitches, most of those  are inside and so the amount he had to remove were probably about twenty.  Enough, for sure.

Doc says it will take three or four weeks until everything is healed, but this is certainly a big step.

Part of my arm looks like a human quilt.  When I said that to the doctor, he did not know what a quilt was so I explained it to him...........he smiled.

Onward I go.  Maybe still a little slower then usual.  Maybe fewer things crammed into each day, but onward anyway. 

After all, at this point in life, there is no time to waste.

Thanks to all for their notes, their emails, the food, and phone calls.  I saw the anesthesiologist in the lobby of the hospital today.  I had not seen him since the fateful day of surgery.  I thanked him again for all his kind words and actions.  He responded by giving me a big bear hug.

When does that ever happen?  Made me smile.  I'm so grateful.

Friday, July 07, 2017

A Bump in the Road of Life

Above are the crepe myrtle bushes that bloom profusely in Texas this time of year.  No fragrance, but the softness of the blooms and the teeny, tiny flowers look like snow on the ground.

The title of this post is "a bump in the road".  Rather, maybe it should be "detour".  I have not been able to write for over twelve days and have so many photos to share, stories to tell and a bit of humor
as well.

However, the bump or detour or whatever, happened twelve days ago.  Big time.  Life can change in an instant.  And mine did.

Scout, the sweet, quiet spaniel of my son, John was staying here for a week while John was out of town. Scout is so quiet that I often do not know where he is, except at about 1:30AM in the morning when he decides he wants to go out and then cannot find his way back to the door for me to let him in......but that is another story.

On this morning, twelve days ago, I had put Scout in the house with the door cracked a wee bit so I could get back in.  My mission was to move the car out of the garden where it is parked overnight.
It is parked on the street during the day.  I was starting to back the car out when I saw the dog in the street. This was at 8:30AM when there is still a bit of traffic around the school.  I immediately shut the car off and went to gather Scout off the street and back into the house.

Isn't it amazing that when a pet does not want to do something how they can manage to turn into a concrete statue?  Scout tried that.  I think adventure was on his mind.  On my mind was to get the dog into the house, the car onto the street and get on with my day.

The Universe had another idea.

Just about the time I had pushed the dog's rear into the door, he got between my legs, I pitched forward and my right arm went through the glass window. 

I won't describe the gory details, because it was more then gory.  Thankfully the gate was open, a neighbor heard me screaming "Help, help" and his wife grabbed a towel to wrap around my arm.

Traumatic would be an understatement.  Eventually, off to the hospital we went in my neighbor's little car and into the ER we went, with me in a wheelchair. 

The bottom line was that a plastic surgeon had to take care of me in about a three hour operation.  With over one hundred stitches from my wrist along with part of my elbow, I look like a human quilt.

Wowza, I could have lived my whole life and never needed to have this adventure.  Truly.

Of course, it had to be my right arm, of course.  Today is the first day that I can use my fingers on my right hand to type!

I've missed writing.

According to the doctor this is going to be a "lengthy" recovery.  No, I did not ask what that meant.  I would rather take it "one day at a time".  It sure has left me weak as a kitten, surprisingly. 

On the bright side, the kindnesses of strangers and friends has been amazing.  It gives one faith that
in all the world, with the kind of people we know, life is going to be good..........eventually.

In future posts those stories will probably find their way into posts.  They keep running through my mind. 

In the meantime, I just wanted you to know I am not lolly gagging around on a chaise somewhere eating bon bons, but  trying to recuperate from this "bump in the road of life".  The adventure continues..............