Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Hola familia and amigos,

Our continuing good times, adventures and discoveries in San Miguel de Allende are being a bit dampened today by more rain after a lovely, drier and sunny week. It's certainly not what Portlanders expect when coming down to "sunny Mexico" but we are not letting it dampen our spirits or our activities even though the Mexicans are saying "Hay chihuahua, mucha lluvia!"
This is local vernacular for "Oh darn, much rain!"

Last week was filled with lots of fun activities with new and old friends we met here last year. We had a lovely dinner party at our friend, Luisa's casa, with new friends who moved here a year ago. They are loving their new residence here and we enjoyed seeing their charming Spanish Casa. It's fun to see the variety of housing arrangements our ex-pat friends have chosen. We prefer the more modest places but have enjoyed touring the palatial ones, as well ---just not for us, nor are they in our budget. San Miguel prices, though much higher than a few years ago, seem to be dropping a bit with the global economic downturn and everyone comments now that it's a buyer's market. We did have a fun evening at the cute two bedroom casita of new acquaintances we met at the wonderful Pro Musica concert last week, Ron and Kathleen, former Portlanders, in fact, who have a very satisfactory long term lease from a Mexican family. They have decorated it and added some nice features and we enjoyed seeing their "pad" as well as getting to know them. Kathleen writes memoirs and teaches memoir writing. She is also getting into some painting so we have much in common while Ron, her husband, enjoys tinkering with tools and doing a bit of woodworking. He and Gary hit it off well. Kathleen has invited me to join her weekly "Art and Writing Group".

This is just one example of the many interesting people one meets in San Miguel who come often from as far flung places as Winnipeg, Manitoba in Canada. We spent an afternoon following one of the interesting lectures we attended, with a couple from there who were on their first extended stay in San Miguel or SMA, as the local gringo community calls it. They shared many of our political views and we had a very stimulating converstation. It is not unusual to meet people who, when we ask "Where are you from?" reply "Oh, we live here now."

The night we had dinner with Luisa, we enjoyed getting to know Colleen and Norman, two friends that our friends, Noel and Jerene, in Portland, had suggested we look up. They moved down here last year and are loving their charming Spanish casa here and the many stimulating activities San Miguel offers. We, like they, are finding one has to be cautious or our calendars of daily activities become way too full. Norman is a birder and leads tours up at the Botanical Gardens in SMA and Colleen enjoys the writing crowd here. She, like I, is looking forward to the 4th Annual PEN Writing Conference coming up this weekend. The writers amongst you will enjoy checking out the website at www. sanmiguelwritersconference. com for a look at the lineup of wonderful workshops with well known writers. Barbara Kingsolver will be the keynote speaker at the opening and I am looking forward to attending that, as well as the Q&A with the author the next day. I am going to be a volunteer door monitor at a few of the events over the five days and, for that, have the opportunity to attend some of the mini workshops with well known writers and publishers which should prove interesting. There is quite a stir amongst the local writers about Kingsolvers most recent novel, which takes place in Mexico and whose fictional characters mix with historical figures such as Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. I am enjoying reading it right now but will never get this vast volume finished by this weeks opening events. I guess my questions will be scarser than from those who have finished it.

In the midst of all this, I have started an intense Spanish Class which is wonderful and very helpful. I am finding I am getting more and more confident conversing with my Mexican amigos,
people in the shops and on th streets but am still far from fluent. Hopefully, I will get a bit more fluent with this excellent course offered by the Warren Hardy Language school. My friend Rosalie, from Denver is taking the class, too, and we laugh about "all the good brain cells we are growing"! She and her husband Jack arrived in San Miguel last Friday and we enjoyed a fun weekend of "catching up" and visiting some of our favorite spots in SMA.

Last Sunday was "El Dia de Amor y Amistad", "The Day of Love and Friendship" and the El Jardin , which is the center of San Miguel life (the central Plaza) was filled with festivities, music and the typical balloon sellers we saw in Oaxaca last year with their huge "bouquets" of heart shaped colorful balloons. We later went to a lovely new restaurant with Rosalie and Jack where we enjoyed a delicious dinner of foods from the Yucatan region (the cook moved here from there). I had tilapia wrapped in a banana leaf which was delicious.

Our friends, Farrel and Joe, from Sanoma, California, arrived on Monday night to some chilly weather and after an overcast day yesterday, we all woke up to the rain today. They are being great sports and we managed to fit in lots of sightseeing and enjoyable adventures together yesterday and today. Tomorrow we are hoping to go up to the Botanical gardens with them, then to a film at the Bibliotecha, in the afternoon. Gary saw an excellent film there last week put on by the very active Center for Global Justice, "Capitalism Hits the Fan" by Richard Wolff. He enjoyed the discussion afterwards with the author. We plan on going to a documentary film entitled "The Take" by well known filmmaker Naomi Kline tomorrow afternoon. There is never a dull moment in San Miguel.

Well, dear amigos, maybe this is the right time to sign off before I continue on too long and become dull. This brings good wishes to you all and warm "abrazos"! Sher