Thursday, December 26, 2019

Christmas Day Hike In San Miguel de Allende

The weather has been cold here especially at night.  Saturday night it was 1C here at the house.  The days are sunny and warm, warm enough to move around without a jacket. 

We spent Christmas Eve with friends, having a fantastic dinner of baked ham, baked sweet potatoes, green beans with bacon, mushrooms and small potatoes and a wonderful black cherry dessert from Julia Childs.  The conversation was the best, meeting a new to us friend.  We were in bed early and up early on Christmas Day.

Good friends are hard to come by.  Barbara found us and took us in.  She's something special.  

Somebody has to carve the ham.  I have no idea what I am doing, but the ham was delicious!

Manón, a new friend, helped me pop the top on the champagne.

 There is never enough to talk about especially when it is happy hour.

First order of business was to go for a hike around the lake at the botanical gardens.  The water levels are the lowest we have ever seen.  Water has become a big issue here.  Many would like to put the blame on the housing boom although most of the housing is being purchased by Mexicans from Queretaro and Mexico City who only come occasionally or on weekends.  The big issue now is corporate agriculture.  They are literally pumping the life of the aquifers and some wells are now as deep as 500 meters.  There are two sides to every debate.  On one side, Mexico needs food, the exportation of agricultural products, supplying jobs to local farm workers and on the other hand, we need to think about the local population and housing is a good thing also supplying jobs and the sell of construction materials, furnishings and the like.  We're not attempting to look for a viable solution for both sides.  Sides are now pitted against one another pointing the blame on the other.

The egret wouldn't raise its head.  We waited patiently and quietly to no avail.

Sad to say, three of my brothers are avid birders.  I have all the books but either I don't have the true desire or I'm lazy.  

Such beauty and it's right there on the edge of town.  10 minutes from the main plaza yet hardly anyone goes there.  So disconnected from nature.

There are plenty of birds to watch and identify.   We also came across a huge flock of sheep grazing and being moved by two shepherds.  We didn't actually enter the botanical gardens because we haven't paid our yearly membership plus the fact that there is some construction going on and we didn't want to see the mess.  The hike is worthwhile and the views are incredible.  So much to see and the air yesterday was clear with cottony clouds and blue skies.  What is even more impressive the fact that there is little to no trash along the trails.  One thing we have noticed during our stay here is that you can see down into the city drains and they are free of debris.  In other cities in Mexico, the problem with flooding during heavy rains is trash accumulating in the sewer drains and clogging them up.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Santa Claus Is Close

We're still here in SMA and Juan returned Friday morning early.  This year we won't have a Christmas tree.  We were hoping to have one here but there isn't one and we didn't want to spend the money on things we would have to cart back home and have more of what we don't need.  I decorated the fireplace.  Juan brought the lights from home and I purchased the paistle or musgo (Spanish moss), the garland, mini piñatas, and the baby, Jesus, for 200 pesos or $10.  This is our Christmas tree this year.

We went to the artesian market which is about ten minutes away from the house.  We went there for lunch with our friend Barbara.  This is one of the best Italian restaurants we have been to on our trips.  In addition, it is one of the best priced.  The chef and his wife run the small restaurant called "Andrea's".   Really good food and the couple is very nice.  We split a chicken parmesano over a bed of pasta with mixed veggies.  Barb had salmon that was truly flavorful.  (I share our money, our home, and anything else except for food.  But, you have to taste other people's food).  

As we walked through the market people were selling like crazy, lowering prices and the Christmas spirit was on high.  Like in all markets, we passed the altar to the Virgin of Guadalupe.

The streets in this section are exemplary of what San Miguel looked like 300 years ago.  With the exception of some changes in the streets including repairs, the houses and shops are pretty much the same.  There is one exception though, the electric company, belonging to the federal government, found a way to put a semi-modern structure right in front of the restaurant.  I guess most people would hardly notice.-

Back home it was time to heat up the fireplace.  It was 1C last night and the days are wet with light rain and heavy clouds.  The house gets cold without it but during sleep, we turn off the fireplace and turn on the electric blanket.  

Juan took this before leaving home the other day.  It was a picture of the last sunset from home for this year.  I'm missing the place but not so much the house, just being in our own digs, going to the gym, neighbors, shopping and the like.  

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Dog Rescue - Cell Phone Pics - Short Commentary

Short Commentary

Blogging and YouTubing have become big business.  Each and every click counts.  Over the last six weeks, I have watched Rv'ers come and go from the botanical gardens.  Some are in caravans and others by themselves.  Several have their blog or YouTube name or address on the side of their rigs.

I have checked a couple only to find out that they "have just discovered a new find",  the best boondocking spot in San Miguel de Allende.  I beg your pardon.  We have been boondocking since 2001 and I surely can't lay claim to any boondocking site.  That said, there was a boondocker from California that sent me a message last year asking where the botanical garden was and where they could park.  I sent them the information and lo and behold, a month later I read their blog and the same thing, "Wow, did we ever find an unknown boondocking spot".

Give credit where credit is due.  I'm not looking for anyone to praise me or thank me but I believe it is a courtesy from one blogger or YouTuber to another.  The reason people don't mention another blog is that they will lose those precious clicks.  I don't do my blog for money as I don't think it is interesting to know that today I swept the porch and did my laundry.  That said, others provide good information but none the less, blogging isn't what it used to be.  I have always given credit as well as provide a link to another blogger's website.  One last thing, even though the land does not belong to the botanical garden, be a good neighbor and buy a membership as a group or at least visit and pay the measly 50 peso entrance fee.  We always offer to pay wherever we stay if it is next to a business, restaurant, wherever.  

Last Friday, I was driving down the libramiento from Dolores towards La Comer.  There in the middle of the highway I saw what I thought was a dead dog.  As I drove by, it lifted its head.  Cars were driving over it and I turned around as quickly as possible.  I grabbed the dog and put her in the car.  She was in complete shock.  To make a long story short, many pesos later, she had x-rays which showed two minor fractures; one in the hip and one in the last vertebra.  She is now walking a bit and out of the vet.  I found a temporary home that was willing to take her in.  She is a real keeper and I know would give lots of love but we can't have any more pets.  It was worth it though.  You can't just let that happen, if you do, you also have little respect for life in general.

I haven't been posting much because I couldn't figure out how to download pictures from my new 900 peso cell phone.  I went back today and they showed me what I was doing wrong.  Something new to learn every day and now I will be posting more of what is going on around town.  Juan comes back Friday morning and we will be celebrating Christmas and taking some day trips to other towns nearby.  Too much gringo for me, I need a break!

Friday, December 13, 2019

Walk Around SMA - Diá de La Virgen de Guadalupe

This time of year there is always a celebration going on.  December starts with lots of fireworks and the Virgin of Guadalupe.  Juan Diego saw the vision of the Virgen of Guadalupe on December 9th, 1531 in Tepeyac which is now located on the outskirts of Mexico City.  Supposedly the Virgin identified herself and asked Juan Diego that a church be built on that site.  Juan Diego told the archbishop who did not believe him and asked for proof.  The following days he returned, the Virgin appeared and in Juan Diego's words, said to him, "Am I not here, I who am your mother?"

She then filled his cloak with roses, but not just any roses.  They were roses, they were Castillan roses not native to Mexico and couldn't have grown there on the hill in Tepeyac in the cold of winter.  Juan Diego returned to the archbishop.  When he opened the cloak, the roses fell to the ground and the picture of the virgin appeared on his cloak.

On the 12th I took off in search of celebrations here in SMA.  This is what I found on my three-hour walk around the city.   The first stop was a group of indigenous dancers.  With the sound of a drumbeat the dancer performed before the altar for an hour.  

There is an altar to the virgin in every Mexican market.  I wondered on down the road and came across a small market where I could hear mariachis.  Sure enough, they were playing, Las Mañanitas in front of the small altar of the virgin.  (Ignore the lady's head.  She refused to move out of the way).

I was told that over by the bus station there was an inauguration of a new street or street that has been turned into a plaza and walking street with no car traffic allowed.  I had my map in hand I was sure I knew where this event was being held.  They had been working on the street since we had arrived six weeks ago (can't believe I've been here this long).  I arrived just as the priest began to speak about the Virgin of Guadalupe and to say the mass. 

It was quite a long morning that ended with a stop at the butcher shop for some freshly ground beef.  I went home and prepared a flour tortilla with a bead of refried beans, sauteed ground beef and some grated cheese followed by fried egg on top.  It hit the spot before my nap.

Two things about this picture from the indigenous dances.  You can see how modern-day diet is destroying the Mexican people.  Second, the dancer in the middle danced for the complete hour with her cellphone in her hand.  My how times have changed.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Another Round of SMA

(I could tell by the overwhelming number of comments and responses that you enjoyed the article I posted the other day regarding our president 😎  That said, it does raise concern among many Mexicans as well as ex-pats and it is something people should be aware when coming to Mexico.)

I'm sitting here tonight watching "The Bells of Saint Mary's" with Bing Crosby and Ingrid Bergman as I write the blog.  I'm home alone.  Not so good news this week.  Juan's niece passed away at an early age from a blood clot in her knee.  he took the bus home last Saturday night.  He then went to school to sign his work release permit and they have decided to audit all the classes and teachers.  Now he won't be back in SMA until the 18th.  Such is life.

Before he left, we were in the city market downtown having a snack.  A couple walked by a couple of times and the second round Juan gave them the thumbs up on the food and they joined us.  We'll call them A&B for now.  They are from Quebec and came for a short visit.   We hit it off and we have done some sightseeing together.  This week we went to Atotonilco and Dolores Hidalgo, and they had me over for a wonderful pasta and sauce dinner at their VRBO.  We have seemed to hit it off.  We have many things in common.

Tomorrow we will take a tour of the Fábrica Aurora which is the old textile mill.   Mostly antiques and art galleries but they do have the original equipment and the halls are lined with old photographs of the textile mill.  

The pictures below were taken at the church Sanctuario Jésus Nazareno de Atotonilco also known as the Mexican Sistine Chapel.   All hand-painted ceilings and altars it has a history dating back to 1740 and founded by Father Felipe Nero de Alfaro.  I picked up a book there years ago, written in Spanish, that tells the story of the priest and the church.  A lot of history in such a small town that is really made up of the church and a few small shops.

We drove on to Dolores Hidalgo, the cradle of Mexican Independence.  We didn't have a lot of time but we did tour the main plaza, sampled some ice creams, had a nice lunch of enchiladas suizas (chicken enchiladas covered in a creamy tomatillo sauce and covered with swiss cheese) and a quick look at the museum.  I know I've posted about these places several times before but they are of great interest and for me, it never gets old.  I could do this every week.  I like showing people a bit about Mexico.

It looks like we will be here for Christmas and I will be looking for some semblance of a Christmas tree, something small, a few lights and decorations.  

I have also had the pleasure of spending time with our friend Barbara, happy hours, grocery shopping and doing odds and ends.  It's been fun and I think I would like SMA as a home base.  

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Interesting Article - Please Read

I have been good about not posting political articles although I'm not sure why people would be offended or not interested to know what is going on in Mexico when they live here and rv here.  We are all affected one way or another.  Anyway, what I have been saying all along is well-documented in this article.

AMLO and the “Fourth Transformation” in Mexico

A bit about the author:

Roberto Salinas-León is President of the Mexico Business Forum. He is an expert on trade, monetary policy, and economic liberalization in Latin America and co-editor of Money and Markets in the Americas: New Challenges for Hemispheric Integration.