Sunday, February 7, 2010

Hola amigos,

I hope to be able to add some photos soon so you can all experience the wonders of San Miguel de Allende with us. In spite of the very unusual weather when we arrived this past week, like nine inches of rain in four days, we are already enjoying ourselves immensely. It finally warmed up on Friday, the sun came out and we have had a lovely weekend. Word is out, though, that more rain is coming on Tuesday and Wednesday. "Hay chihuahua!" That's "oh, darn" in Spanish. I'm learning a few other idiomatic expressions but won't repeat here.

We didn't let the rain stop us last week and enjoyed rediscovering "our town". I took a Spanish class on Thursday morning and then met Gary and our friend, Luisa, a long time resident of this fair city, for lunch at the Bibliotecha, which means Library in Spanish but, here, it's really more than that, being also a very popular community center with a bookstore, patio restaurant and theater for films, lectures, musical performances and plays. It's an "all in one fun place"--for both ex pats, visiting gringos and Mexicano whose kids like to come and study here. Everywhere one hears the mixture of Spanish and English conversations.

After lunch, Luisa invited us to join her for a documentary film on Cuba's health system. The film "Salud" was presented by the very active Center for Justice and Democracy here in San Miguel. It was an excellent look at the excellent health system in Cuba as well as the great benefit that Cuban doctors are offering with their services around the world, some of which we remember witnessing in 2006 when visiting Venezuela. Our country could learn a lot from our Caribbean neighbors!

We met some other friends on leaving the bibliotecha and after some stimulating sidewalk conversation we all decided to continue it at the local St Augustines, a great place for hot chocolate and churros (those delectable sweet pastries that we know are horrible for us but taste so good--unfortunately, Gary could not partake of, with his gluten intolerance, but he enjoyed the Mexican hot chocolate with cinnamon). We laughed as we would usually be meeting friends for a margarita at this time of day but the hot chocolate hit the spot in our wet, cool weather---helped warm our bodies! Hace mucho frio!

The cold is held in by the concrete construction of our apartment and so we have appreciated a small portable heater that our amiga and landlady, Francisca has lent us. Luisa offered us two of hers, also but we quickly learned we can have only one on at a time when we blew a fuse and our lights all went out. Gary quickly came to the rescue having noticed where the circuit box was located.

The weekend warmed up and I even got a sunburn on my arms, hands and face as I chanced not putting on sunscreen not realizing how bright it was up on our terrace. After two hours of sitting in the sun doing some writing and Spanish study, I learned my lesson--both: Spanish and the need to always use sunscreen.

Saturday, we attended a wonderful classical guitar and string quartet concert put on by a local group called Pro Musica,. It was a premier composition by a well known Mexican Composer, Marco Aerelio Alverez, along with two other pieces by composers Samuel Zyman and Hugo Wolf. Music officianados may know these names. We didn;t before, but now we know we love the music of both. It was a most enjoyable performance which ended in standing ovations and a free wine and "botanos" (hors d'oeuvres) reception. While conversing with others there we met a delightful couple who once lived in Portland but now make San Miguel their permanent home---not an uusual story here. We will be getting together with them later.

After the concert, we dropped in on a big art opening at Fabrica Aurora, an old textile mill whose activities were brought to a halt in 1991 by NAFTA---from the early 1900's they had produced cotton cloth from indigenous cotton until they could no longer compete with the multi nationals exporting cheaper cotton into this economy. Of course jobs were lost and it is one more sad statement of what our free trade agreements sometimes do to our neighbors to the south. One good thing resulted and the old factory is now a beautiful huge art center with galleries, restaurant and furniture shops. They were having an anniversary fiesta also celebrating the Mexican Bi Centenial this year, 200 years since Mexico's independence and centennial celebration of the signing of the new constitution after the Mexican Revolutioln of 1910. 2010 is a big year in Mexico and many roads are marked with colorful signs saying 2010 signifying that these routes were taken by the revolutionary armies. They are now undergoing a big facelift as the government is pouring in money for new road construction and upgrading Mexico's infrastructure.

Well, after our fun Sabado (Saturday) activities we slept in this morning, soaked up the sun up on our terrace with the view, and then walked over to the pretty parque Juarez not far from us as there was a big flower and plant exhibit going on (our friend Noel back home would have loved seeing the hundreds of different kinds of cactus being offered for sale---too bad we can't bring some home in our luggage!) After strolling through the park, we went to the art instituto for the tail end of a big craft fair and enjoyed reconnecting with Irma, the Oaxaquena woman we met last year after our visit to Oaxaca and from whom we bought some delicious mole. We bought some more from her today and she gave us a discount, saying we are now her special "clientes"---this is the beautiful Mexican way of doing business.

The day ended with dancing to a fabulous Marimba band in the park. We did everything from the Meringue to ChaChaCha and even some jitterbug---we can still do it and came home laughing about all the various shapes, ages and types of lovely people we saw there, mostly Mexicanos--Sunday is a big family day at the park. The children are darling and everyone seems to have a smile for you and a "buenos dios" "Que te vayas bien!" May you go well.

So, friends and family, this seems like a good way to end our blog for the week: Que te vayas bien and may you all stay happy and healthy.

Abrazos, Sher and Gary