Sunday, October 11, 2015

An Amazing, Breathtaking Sight!

Friday, while I did my weekly stint on the bench in the jardin, much to my absolute astonishment, there was a sight that I had never seen before in the area between the jardin and the Parroquia.  That is the large, open area where anything that is going to happen - parades, taxi blessings, horse blessings, dances, political speeches, happen.  This is the living room of San Miguel.  Now, there is even a webcam to check it out on a 24 hour basis.

I sat down on the bench just to figure out how what was in the jardin got there.  You see, San Miguel was founded in 1542.  The buildings that still stand in centro were built in the 1500's, 1600's and 1700's, mostly.
One can realize then why the streets are so narrow.  At that point it was single rider horses or later on,  carriages.  No thought of big SUVs or Hummers or whatever, that now traverse the streets. In fact, I'm told by a reliable source, who moved here in 1955, that there were only two cars in San Miguel when he moved here. It stayed that way for a long, long time.  Oh, for those days!

I sat on the bench and contemplated this new wrinkle in who and how and why what was in the jardin got there and how the heck it was going to get out.  NEVER had something so big sat and blocked the church. Nothing.

Finally, some men appeared.  Aha, now the mystery would be solved, maybe.  And, thus began the epic unload.
 Over a period of 1 1/2 hours they unloaded the 18 wheeler parked adjacent to the former home of
Allende.  It had backed down that street.  Now, I have to tell you I could not back my Pathfinder down that street, it is so narrow! 
 Each item, whatever it was, was being stacked along the wall in front of the jardin and benches.  No one, still had any idea of the point of it all.
 Then the OTHER 18 wheeler that was parked in front of the church had its back doors opened as well!  It was FULL of stuff.  Metal stuff.  It was still a mystery.
 It took a lot of guys to get a lot of stuff out of both of these 55 foot containers.  A lot.  Then, all of  a sudden the 18 wheeler in front of the church started its engine.  Oh my gosh, what now?  Everyone got out of the way and this driver BACKED up this eighteen wheeler into a side street in just a few maneuvers and parked it behind the other eighteen wheeler that had been almost completely unloaded!  
We figured they had to clear a place for all the rest of whatever it was, so they could set it up. 

One of our group went over to someone walking around and asked what was going on.  By this time, they had a banner about 50 ft x 30 ft. stretched out on the ground.  It was for the new mayor.  It was the backdrop for the stage.  Aha, the inauguration of the new Mayor.

His inauguration was set for some time on Saturday.  I finally had to leave to meet friends and did not see everything get set up.  As I passed by in my car about 3 pm on a side street on Friday, while it was pouring rain, everything, the whole area, was covered with tarps.  Still nothing was set up.

Yesterday, when I looked on the webcam, the trucks were gone!  The stage was set up where the moved 18 wheeler had parked and about 600 chairs were set  for the ceremony in early evening.  How or where the trucks went is a mystery.  They certainly could not have gone forward and made the turn onto the street at the end.  I'll never know.  You'll never know.

I know they had the ceremony because at some point in the evening, when the fireworks began, I looked at the webcam and the jardin was packed with people along with many people on the huge stage.

This morning when I looked at the webcam to see what was the status of all the stuff, not one thing is there.  It is ALL gone!  The area in front of the jardin is spotless.  Absolutely spotless.  Not one kleig light, not one speaker, no stage, no trucks.  IF I had not seen it all with my eyes, I would never have believed that it could all be gone by early this morning.

It's a testament to the hard work of the Mexican men.  A testament to the planners.  And, a testament to the ability of those two truck drivers..........wherever they may be!

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Animal House

It is a veritable smorgasbord of creatures around here.  Let me start by saying that whatever the squeaking, squealing, hissing creature is, is still around.

However, it comes in the middle of the night.  When it starts its shenanigans, I'm dead asleep.  Then, of course, the sound awakens me, but I'm so snuggled in that the thought of getting up with the flashlight and
hoping to see it is not as welcoming as just turning over and going back to sleep.  Maybe one of these days..........After all, "it" is outside.

Not the creature that I met some time in the middle of the night last night,  as I headed to the bathroom.  Actually, I didn't see it as I was heading there, but once I sat down with the light on, I saw this writhing creepy, prehistoric thing on the floor.   Yup, a scorpion.  I had been barefooted going to the bathroom.  Rest assured, I did not go back to bed barefooted.

He looked like this but had no tail!  It was just the body.  As I sat there in amazement watching it, I realized that when I opened the bathroom door, the door ran over him, (thankfully) and decapitated his tail.

Therefore, when I killed him, I didn't need  spray starch to freeze him in motion and prevent him from stinging me. .  Only the flyswatter and a lot of Kleenex to pick it up and throw it in the toilet.  Gosh, they are so creepy.  I SO dislike them.

A bizarre thing happened in the garden today also.  Pleasantly bizarre.  After having worked in the gardens for many, many hours, I sat down with a glass of iced tea to enjoy the fruits of my labor.  About that time one of the resident white breasted hummingbirds started zipping around.  That is not unusual.  But, what WAS unusual was the fact that on the second dive bombing, it stayed about two feet from my face and just kept looking at me.  I was looking at it too!  It was white from its neck all the way down its chest.  The amazing part was that it had a band of iridescent turquoise around its neck.  I don't know what color its back wings were as I was so astounded that it stayed there in position for so long that it never occurred to me to look at its back.  I'll do that this weekend.  Most of the hummingbirds are in the garden daily.  No, I don't have hummingbird feeders.  I do have all kinds of  flower blooms that they love and they are zipping all over the place, both on the roof terrace and down in the ground floor gardens and the lower patio.  A veritable feast for them.

To say that each day living in this nature sanctuary is an adventure is an understatement.  In the next couple of weeks, the Monarchs will be coming through.  The big orange plants and the poinsettias will be blooming.

The butterflies go berserk going from one plant to the other.  They, of course, are heading to the Monarch sanctuaries for the winter!

Life is a daring adventure (most of the time) or nothing at all.  Helen Keller


Sunday, October 04, 2015

An Old Boyfriend Came to Town

He had been here several times before.  Staying in the guest house with his "significant other".  This time he traveled alone to participate in the Alborada.  He stayed in a hotel within steps of all the action of the jardin.
Oh, he had participated before, alone, while his "significant other" stayed safely in the guest house.  You see, the Alborada is this crazy celebration in San Miguel which is a Battle of Good and Evil.  It is part of the week long celebrations to honor the birthday of St. Michael the Archangel (the good) and Satan (the bad).

Since St. Michael is the patron saint of San Miguel, well, let the "good times roll".  It started Tuesday night in earnest with fireworks and castillos.  Castillos are these big towers with circular pieces on the top that spin fireworks into the air or just about anywhere.  They are quite amazing wonders of pyrotechnics.  Then there are the bottle rockets.  Well, you get my drift, NOISE, is the order of the day.

On Wednesday night there was another parade and more fireworks.  It was all in preparation for the BIG event which started at 2AM on Saturday morning with parades from four directions, noise and revelry.  I have seen video and photos of the jardin at 2AM and it was packed with a lot of young men who wanted to prove their manhood by dodging fireworks and participating in the revelry.

My friend was among them, even though he is nearly 80!  He had a blast.  To say he is a unique person would be an understatement.  He survived a huge firework plopping right next to him off the castillo and running when the fireworks were lobbed out of the Parroquia along with being lobbed from the other side of the jardin. He was in the middle running from side to side.  The young men have learned to wear hoodies and cover as much of their bodies with cardboard or other protective covering to prevent their clothes from catching on fire.  Someone's always does. My friend had an umbrella!

Now a person of sound mind (me) would never go near something like that, but then there are others, like my old boyfriend who would FLY here from Houston for the fun of it.  I think it is a "man" thing.

Today he came over for a home cooked breakfast and we sat out in the garden and talked about the many trips we had taken in days of yore.  One was to the Inter Tribal ceremonies in Gallup, NM along with side trips to Chimayo, Mesa Verde, Farmington and then to Durango.  That trip, which started out to be to see sun dances at the reservations, became so much more for me.

In Farmington and Durango, I found much history of my mother's family.  Last name of Markley. I discovered that they had been some of the founders of Farmington along with having the first Navaho Trading Post!  In fact their store was recreated in the museum in Farmington.  In Durango I found the Red Cliff Ranch which had been a great aunt and uncle's home along with much information about my mother's birth and life in Durango.  I came home in a state of shock over all of this.   Through more research, I have found books, diaries and photos to document various parts of  my heritage.

Another trip that my friend and I took caused us to laugh out loud while talking about it.  It was at least twenty years ago and we took a ponga to Yelapa for a few days.  A ponga is a hollowed out log like a pirogue is in Louisiana.  But, you get out on the open sea of the Pacific and it is like being beaten to a pulp as each wave hits.  We laughed about the look on my face when the owner of the restaurant told me that the mosquito netting over my bed in the open air thatched hut was not for mosquitoes but for scorpions!  We laughed about the "characters" who lived there.  The old man who lived under the banyan tree and the woman, a former flight attendant, who lived UP in a tree with two wooden platforms and a ladder.  She wanted to rent a platform to me for $5USD a night, but I would have to share the ladder.  I politely declined.  Then on our ponga ride back to Puerto Vallarta, instead of our own ponga, it somehow turned into a water taxi.  At one point as the driver added more and more people to this small tree log boat, I and my friend were sure we were going to be swamped and tip over.  I can remember trying to gauge if I could swim to shore.  Of course, we had NO life jackets or anything like that!  Luckily that did not happen and once our feet were on shore, I think I had a drink to celebrate life, maybe even two.

Fun times.  Good memories.  Great conversations.  I feel blessed to have so many good, old friends who remember the good times and great fun we had back in the "good old days".

Life is a daring adventure or nothing at all.  Helen Keller

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Scary, Scary Night

It happened a couple of nights ago.  A hissing and bumping outside my bedroom wall of windows.  The sound went on from about 11:30AM until about 2:30AM.  Intermittently.  Of course it woke me up each time.

Finally I got my courage up to get the flashlight and look out the window.  Hoping and keeping my fingers crossed that I did not see two beady eyes, but whatever it is that is making this horrific sound.

I saw nothing.  I looked and looked.  Very disconcerting.  No, I did NOT go out there.

At least the time I had to kill the BIG scorpion in the bathroom, I found it, killed it and that was that.
Not this time.

In the morning I looked for signs of any activity.  Was the fern mashed down?  Were the many flowers eaten?  Were the cushions on the chaise wrinkled.  Nada.

Then I began to hope that whatever it was would not return.  It HAD been here once before, maybe a year ago or so.  But, just for one night.

Not so lucky this time.  Two more times the darn thing has been here.  Each morning I try to figure out where it is when it is here and, of course, what the heck is it?

I've resorted to looking at You Tube videos of animals making sounds when threatened.  My son thinks it is a possum, which at one point there was one in the garden.  I couldn't find a possum video where they were making noises.

Let me describe it.  A growling, throaty, hissing sound.  Nothing like I have ever heard before except for the time "it"was here before.

Yesterday I saw the little black squirrel scurrying through the garden.  The thought crossed my mind, "Could a little squirrel like that make that loud noise?"  Can you tell this has me REALLY perplexed.  I've also thought about the large lizard on the roof.  The coatamundi that fell in the fireplace years ago.  The skunk that goes ambling down the road from time to time out of the canyon.  And, again I say, "What the heck is it?"

Each time I've turned the outside overhead light on, it gets quiet.  You ask why don't I sleep with that light on?  Well, because it lights up my bedroom as though it is daylight.  And, yes the drapes are closed.

That first night it was here, it thrashed around and made so much noise before I went to bed, that I actually went upstairs to see if some people were out on the road cutting the weeds down or something.  It could have been a very large animal with all the noise it made. Like an elephant for goodness sake.

And, that leads to the question, "How the heck does it get in here?"  There are very high walls.  There is chain link on the wall that faces the road to the canyon.  To say that the house is fortified like Fort Knox is  an understatement.

The latest thing I've done in my scientific attempt to determine what it is will make you laugh.  I have folded two beach towels and laid them on the seat of an outdoor chair by the window.  Very comfy.  My thought is it might jump up there and get comfortable, I would open the curtains and see it and finally know what it is.
Each morning I look out to see if the towels have been moved around or anything.  So far, nothing.

Help!  Any ideas?  It obviously, well I think so anyway, is nocturnal.  Your guess is as good as mine..........

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A Second Opinion

                              There is a compelling reason for writing this post.  Let me tell you the scenario. 

A few months ago a friend returned from a trip to Africa with a cough and a few other minor ailments.  She also had a lump near her mouth.  She went to the dentist, here in Mexico, and the dentist removed the lump and sent it for a biopsy and report. There is more to this part of the story but I don't remember all the details.

The next part of this saga is all too common.   It came back saying she had lymphoma, stage 4 and that it was in her lymph nodes and her body.  Chemo needed to start immediately.  Of course, all this did not happen at one appointment but continued for several weeks until this was determined.

My friend is a Canadian but felt that it would take way too long to get an appointment for treatment in Canada and so was prepared for chemo here in Mexico.

At a party she and her husband were having for her brother's birthday, I expressed, vociferously, that they should go to Canada and if necessary call for an ambulance and be presented to the emergency room and they would have to take her.  You might laugh or be appalled at this suggestion, but when it is life or death, you do what you have to do.  I have, in the past, done this with my daughter.

She did not do that, but did contact her doctor in Canada with all the details.  Thankfully, somehow, they were able to get into an oncologist. 

Much to my friend's dismay, although she had brought all the test results and reports from Mexico, the doctor's in Canada wanted to rerun the tests.  Of course, now time had elapsed and the concern of my friend and her husband was the angst and worry and wanting to get on with the chemo.

The tests were done.  The results came back.  Believe it or not, my friend did NOT have cancer but did have mononucleosis.  Now this is rare in someone over 70, I'm told.   This news was relayed to us from
Canada by email.  We were all ecstatic, shocked and dismayed. 

Ecstatic that my friend can rest and recuperate.  It is a diagnosis that does not come without serious concerns but at least it is not cancer.  Shock at the previous diagnosis.  And, yes, this does happen.  More frequently then one would believe.  And dismay, that this saga had gone on so long with all kinds of sadness, panic and distress.  Not to mention the monetary expense.

It was my intention to write this blog when it was first emailed that my friend did not have cancer.  What if the doctors in Canada had not redone the tests?  Oh my.

It is a clear lesson that one should not rush into treatment for just about anything without getting a second opinion, and if necessary a third, to make sure that the future course of action is correct.

To all my friends who read this, PLEASE remember this if you are ever in this position.  My only other suggestion is to always get to the best facility, somehow and don't give up until you get there.  All things are possible.

Hopefully none of us will ever be faced with this dilemma, but it seemed a word to the wise was in order.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

In the Matter of an Hour

 My weekly sojourn in the jardin on Friday was enhanced by the visit of school groups from all over Mexico visiting on field trips.  In years past, the kids would come up and ask if they could talk to you in English.

 That continues to be the norm.  One will ask you your name in English, then another, then another, then, well you get the idea.  On Friday they swarmed the bench to ask questions.

Then, I turned the tables and asked them their names.  I also asked where they were from.  Most were from Leon, Guanajuato.  The politeness of each and every child is mesmerizing.  They ALWAYS say "Thank you" and listen attentively.  They always say "Good bye" and wave.  I'm impressed.  Lotsa kids with lotsa smiles.
 As if that wasn't interesting enough, out of the corner of my left eye, I saw the Virgen Mary statue being carried down the street heading for the Parroquia.  No big machinery, just human beings carrying this statue down the street and up the stairs into the church.  I would estimate it is about ten feet tall.  I'm assuming they had taken it somewhere for repairs.  There are many restorers of church statuary in San Miguel.  With twenty-two churches, it seems they would be busy most of the year.
At the end of the hour, the students were swarming the statue by the Parroquia for the required group photo to document their trip to San Miguel.  Life and kids are the same, in some ways, all over the world!

But, I must admit, no two days are alike in the jardin in San Miguel.  Well, at least not yet and I've been doing this for almost 15 years.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

1500 posts and still going............

I don't really know what to say, other then to mark a milestone by saying that after having started this blog post in 2006, I have reached 1500 posts today.  This post is # 1500.  Now there are some who write daily, not me.  It's when the spirit moves me or something has happened that I want to document for posterity.

This morning I went back and read the first post, which for some reason is in another print color hardly readable.  Then I skimmed 2007.  Now none of those great photos show up because those posts were
written on a computer that crashed several years ago.  The computer guru was able to retrieve the posts, but for some reason the photos were not retrievable.

I'm not a computer savvy person.  I have discovered though that I like to write, much to my surprise.
Maybe it is because I now have time to do those things, like writing, that I never had time for in my life previously.  It is one of the few things I've done in my life that was not being done to make money to take
care of myself or my family.  It has been a purely enjoyable treasure.

As many of you know, I started the blog solely for my family after my daughter's passing.  It was my way of
letting them know that I was alive and moving on.  That was my intention.  In my wildest dreams it was impossible for me to imagine what the posts have brought to my life.

Great friendships with other blog writers and readers!  30,000 readers a month!  Right there is enough to astound me.  Calypso, a fellow blogger once wrote statistically about how many books blog posts add up to. I was astounded.  My son is always suggesting that I write a book.  In fact, I was approached to turn this blog into a book, but that is way too much work for me.  Promoting, traveling, and all the things involved.
I'm content with things the way they are.  My little contribution to my life.....and sometimes yours.

I had no parameters when I started.  I did want to write about life in Mexico. Daily things that weren't big deals.  Positive things mostly - few negative or ranting posts as some I have read about politics and things that one can read in all newspapers and magazines.  I needed to be upbeat for myself.  The accusation that I'm a "pollyanna" has been thrown around, but who cares?  It was never my intention to win a popularity contest, ha.

There is something about living in Mexico that makes one upbeat.  The beauty, the day to day scenes that are surprising and surreal at times.  Life in general is joyful, most of the time.

Here is a scene that I saw last week that illustrates the surprising things one can see if you take time to stop and notice.  Things that touch your heart in their simplicity and purity.

 There are vendors around the jardin that have to disassemble and reassemble their booths daily.  It takes the whole family working to set it up in the morning.  This family sells dried flowers which are made into bouquets in little baskets along with wreaths for children and women to wear on their heads.  The above photo was my indication that they were walking several blocks, as usual, to set up.
                                            A family parade of items to set up their space.
   And this little girl, in her pink crocs, was carrying a bouquet of dried flowers as well.  Very few children go to daycare centers in San Miguel.  The government has one and an NGO has one, but most of the children go to work with their parents, if possible. 
                                          Here she is passing in front of the Allende museum.
And, last but certainly not least, the father with the shelf with the baskets and head wreaths.  This has been carried for a couple of blocks, at least, as the jardin is closed off to vehicular traffic.

It is seeing things like this scene that enrich my life and hopefully it does for all of you as well.  Every day occurrences are the small things of life, but which add big doses of life and light to my life.  Again, hopefully to your life as well.

Thanks for being around.  Thanks for all of your comments.  YOU have enriched my life in ways that you can't even imagine.  The best things in life are free.    Life is good!