Thursday, February 21, 2019

Gary and Edmond arrive, the tours begin again, SMA shines on

Feb 16, 2019
We slept in since neither of us slept well. We went to another nearby crafts fair then bought some cheese at our little organic market and then popped into the Saturday farmers’ market for some fresh veggies. At home, we washed and soaked the veggies. A little after 1:00 we met a friend for lunch. Steve is a cousin of a good friend of ours in S OR. We met four years ago when we were considering moving here. He is still enthusiastic about living here even with all the changes. I told him I wasn’t sure but he pointed out how real estate prices will continue to grow here. He told us what he considered the positives and said there were few negatives. He felt my story about the angry woman on the street was a one-off incident and he has not experienced any negative encounters. Steve is a delightful man and we enjoyed our time with him.
We walked into centro and bought a copper vase we had been admiring and realized it would fit into our carry-on luggage, saving us shipping costs. We are waiting to buy the black pottery piece because the shipper gave us an estimate but never sent us the quote in writing which we want.
We came home and read, watered some plants and looked at real estate online. We have no immediate plans to buy down here but we really enjoy looking at real estate.

Feb 17
Ron made us his famous Dutch Baby for breakfast. We went to the market and came home. We went to a documentary on the Forests of the Yucatan peninsula which was one of a three-part series on Mexico aired on PBS. Part of the film focuses n the geology of the region and it was fascinating. Afterward, we walked across the street and had a great meal at Juan’s Café. Four years ago our friend Steve took us here for lunch so he reminded us where it was when we had lunch on Saturday. The menu had many tempting choices but I couldn’t resist the blue cheese salad with mangoes, apples, tomatoes, red onions and lettuce topped with mango dressing. Ron had chicken tostadas with chipotle sauce. Neither of us could finish our meal due to the generous servings.

We walked back past our place to the pocket theater which is showing academy nominated films and watched Cold War, a grim love story that took place during the 1940s-50s in Poland and Paris. On the way home, we came up behind a family on the sidewalk. We stepped off the curb to pass them because the elderly grandmother was in the lead and moving slowly. As we passed them, we greeted them with ‘buenas tardes’ and we got a response in perfect English ‘How are you?’ I stopped in my tracks and turned to the man and said ‘You speak perfect English’. A wonderful exchange ensued. The man was with his wife, his four daughters, and his mom and dad. I asked him how he was able to be surrounded by so many beautiful women which he liked hearing. We visited for several minutes, enjoying the experience.

 We came home and made grilled cheese and Portabella sandwiches with some fresh broccoli soup we had picked up at the market where the film was playing.

We have not looked at TV but once while here and that was to watch the last five minutes of the Super  Bowl. Tonight Ron discovered a PBS channel out of Seattle and we watch two episodes of Victoria while waiting for Gary and Edmund to arrive. At the stroke of midnight, the doorbell rang. We gave Gary and Edmund a quick tour of the house then said goodnight.

Feb 18
 We slept in until 7:30; I discovered Gary wandering around the patio when I came downstairs. He loves the house. After making coffee Edmund joined us on the patio. Today after breakfast we walked through the Instituto and the Juarez Parque then headed to the ATM to get pesos for G and E.

We continued on into centro to show them San Miguel’sbeautiful historic center. We stopped at the Bibliotecha and had lunch and poked around a few shops. Before coming home we stopped in a courtyard for a refreshing drink. I then took them through what is known as the Life Path and showed them the outside of the house we looked at last week. As we stood there talking about the house a woman stopped by and told us she was pretty sure she was going to buy the house. Once we got home we rested. Edmund was my sous chef making a great salad to go with our spaghetti dinner at home. Ron and Gary where taking pictures from the roof patio.

After dinner, we planned activities for the rest of the week.

Feb 19
Today I went with G and E to the botanical garden. They loved the arid plant life. Gary was taking photos throughout the three hours we were there. I went to the counter to ask the staff person to call a taxi for us. She said it would take at least 40 minutes due to a traffic accident on the freeway. I asked her to place our taxi order and we would get a drink in the ‘café’. I ordered the drinks and went back to the counter to pay our bill. I presented the kitchen staff person with the receipt and about that time G and E came up to say ‘our taxi is here’. I went back inside to see if I could get a refund since the staff person had not yet made our drinks. No luck. I think my lack of Spanish made it impossible for the staff person to understand what I was asking for. I let it go and we jumped into the cab, relieved that we didn’t have to wait.

Meanwhile, Ron had taken the morning to wander around town taking pictures. One of the things he likes to do is take pictures of local people in candid shots; mostly with his telephoto lens.


Within minutes we ran into stopped traffic, bumper to bumper all the way into town. What is usually at 12-15 minute ride turned into a 45-minute traffic jam from hell. With two exceptions every street in each direction was jammed packed. I can only assume the freeway traffic accident forced all the cars off the freeway at least on one direction onto the streets of SMA. I have never seen anything like it. Our patient driver was a peach. No honking, no cussing, just a patient man. I kept texting Ron of our progress. I think it was almost 3:00 before we ate lunch at Hecho En Mexico. We got home and all of us rested, reading books, napping and relaxing. We were too tired to go out for dinner so we made an unplanned meal of scrambled cheese and red bell pepper eggs with toast and a fresh fruit salad. We dined by candlelight on the patio.

Feb 20
This morning I took G and E up to centro square so they could go on the Historic Tour that is a fundraiser for a non-profit that serves the needs of nearby village children. The woman who greeted them said the organization had purchased four vans that take doctors, dentists, and psychologists out to the villages to serve the needs of poor families. How wonderful and bravo!  The ex-pat organization of 31 people has been serving the rural community for 40+ years.

I came back home and asked Ron to go grocery shopping with me to help me carry things home. After putting the groceries away, we headed to a square in centro to get our shoes polished. The botanical garden’s dirt pathways had taken their toll on our shoes. Afterward, we went to Biblioteca to meet up with G and E. They called to tell us their tour ended up at a different place than usual so off we went to meet up and go to lunch. That took longer than expected as they had gotten confused about their location but we finally hooked up after several missteps. We ate at Juan’s Café in anticipation of going out for a nice meal tonight. When I called La Parada while we were having lunch, I discovered they did not have room for any reservations for dinner until next Wednesday! Dang, I made a Friday lunch reservation.

We went around the corner to visit a shop that has great textiles. I got a gift for a friend and a shirt for Ron. Ron departed as he wasn’t feeling well and G, E and I continued to pop into shops. After three or four I was flagging. I could not get to sleep last night and stayed up reading very late. I came home to find Ron upstairs in bed resting. I got him some cold water and let him rest.
I think when G and E return I will try to talk them into going out to a nice restaurant without us. I’ll stay here with Ron and make a simple salad or grilled sandwich for dinner.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

A bad night, climbing hills, masks and a farewell to guests.

Feb 14
Happy Valentine’s Day. Ron nor I slept well, but Ron won the sleepless contest losing more hours than I. To top it off, we have a resident homeless person in the neighborhood who is mentally ill and he started yelling at 4:00 a.m. keeping Ron awake. When Ron came downstairs for breakfast and wished us all Happy Thanksgiving; giving us all a good laugh. We decided we were grateful for having such great loves in our lives for Valentines.   

We have another lovely breakfast al fresco. Then off to the mask museum. Ron and I had visited this museum four years ago and S and B expressed an interest so off we went. The museum is located adjacent to a BnB names Casa on the Hill.  And wow, what a hill!  Thankfully we took a taxi, bt it had great views

Bill, the owner of the collection of 600 masks gave about 15 of us a 45-minute presentation on the history of his collection. He only collects masks that have been used in indigenous dances/ceremonies. After the talk, we were taken to the museum which is in a building behind his bed and breakfast establishment.  No photography in the museum, but here is a sample that is displayed in the BnB.

After spending 90 minutes at the museum, we headed downtown to do some shopping for S and B to take gifts home to family. We stopped for lunch and then started looking seriously. There are high-end shops and tourist shops here. The high-end shops will have finer crafted items although we did see some nice table linens in the artisan Mercado. Ron is not a shopper so after a couple of stops he peeled off to go home and S, B and I persisted. They found a great home furnishings place that had some attractive artwork and they settled on a print by a Mexican artist. Next, we headed to the shipper and had the print shipped to RI where they live.

After finishing our business with the shipper we came home with aching feet. Walking around town is fun but the cobblestone and pavers wear me out after a few hours. All of us rested, reading our email and books. Sandi managed to make a delicious meal with eggs, veggies, and cheese, a tossed salad (that as always tasty if Sandi made it), and croissants. After dining al fresco and cleaning up the kitchen we watched the News Hour and not long after headed to bed. S and B are getting up at 4:00 and Ron and I were tired from lack of sleep.

Feb 15
I woke up at 4:10 and Ron around 4:20. We came downstairs to say goodbye to Sandi and Bill. Nicolas was on time at 5:00. He is the manager of the property and provides car service to and from the airport. We are grateful to spend time with Sandi and Bill. The four of us have traveled numerous times since the mid-1990’s when they lived with us while Bill was on sabbatical. We travel well together and no matter when we get together we always enjoy our time together. What a blessing to have such a close and fun relationship. It made Ron and Sandi’s mom, Sonia, so happy.

Ron and I headed back to bed as we had no definite plans other than an 11:00 movie today. We slept until almost 9:00 and started the day. After breakfast, we saw Can You Ever Forgive Me? at the local theater.  Afterward, we went grocery shopping at the organic market which is in the same building. We checked in with the shipper to get a quote on two items we want to purchase then came home unloaded the groceries and went up the street for a good lunch of fajita quesadilla for Ron and a spinach and shrimp quesadilla for me.

Back at home, we waited to hear from a shipping agency regarding a quote on shipping a couple of items we wanted to purchase but that would be impossible to hand carry home. After being put off we decided to go grocery shopping at the big grocer today because it is a zoo on the weekend. We discovered the writer’s conference is in full swing and when their sessions end there is fierce competition for taxis. Many passed us by on the way to pick attendees up at the nearby big hotel where the conference is taking place. Yet we persisted and caught a ride. The wait to get home was even longer. Waiting beside us was a couple from Tennessee by way of NY so we had an interesting conversation about how SMA has changed in the past four years. The couple had lived here previously.

The put away groceries and soaked the fruit and veggies in the disinfectant and then prepared leftovers for dinner. We finally got our quote for shipping so tomorrow we will purchase the two items we saw at a show of crafts representing each state in Mexico.

 I started the wash to get the sheets and towels ready for our next guests. Gary and Edmund from Portland will arrive Sunday night and be with us for five days. After dinner, we cleaned up the kitchen and finished the laundry and had our news feast as is our tradition.

A couple more shots from the House on the Hill:

Thursday, February 14, 2019

SMA Botanical Garden

Feb 13
Today we visited El Charco del Ingenio, SMA’s botanical garden. It was founded in 1991 and it is impressive how much they have accomplished in that amount of time. It is an 88-hectare botanical garden, bird and wildlife sanctuary. We spent almost three hours there walking the trails with Ron and Sandi snipping photos the entire time. I loved being there. It is by far the most unusual botanical garden I have visited. I had no idea the number of cacti that existed and some were so intriguing with their size and shapes. One of my favorites looked like a nest of snakes. Part of the park includes a former reservoir created over 100 years ago for the La Aurora textile mill which has been converted into Fabrica Aurora that we visited on Sunday. The reservoir served a means to create energy for running the mill. Although it is somewhat silted up, it is now a wetland that provides a water source for migratory birds and wildlife.

Another highlight was the Conservatory of Mexican Plants, an indoor structure beautifully designed with a winding canal throughout. The park is located high above SMA so we took a taxi there and back. 

When we returned to town we ate in a small eatery in our neighborhood, two blocks from the house. Ron and I ate there before and thoroughly enjoy the small café and its limited menu. The food is simple yet delicious with fresh ingredients.

We spent the afternoon doing laundry, reading and relaxing before walking into town for a celebratory meal to commemorate the time together. S and B leave really early Friday so we thought it better to go out tonight since tomorrow will be an early to bed evening since they need to get up around 5:00. We all loved our meal at Mi Bistro 300. We had a fabulous appetizer of peasant bread topped with melted blue cheese over caramelized figs. This was followed for a fish course. Ron and I had salmon with fresh veggies and Bill had salmon with lentils while Sandi had dorado with veggies. Desserts were Key lime pie and a decadent thin cake filled with liquid gold...I mean dulce de leche center. Think lava cake. Since Ron has lots of photos to share, I will end this here.