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Friday, January 6, 2012

Ushering in the New Year-Feliz Año Neuvo!

Our first days in San Miguel 

Click on "our first days in San Miguel" above to get our photos and/or slideshow.
It's been a great beginning of 2012 with one exception.  I came down with the famous San Miguel "gripe", or flu.  Everyone says "oh, esta el combio del clima," which translates "it's the change of weather." Admittedly it's very cold in the mornings and evenings and quite warm and nice during the day, but I think maybe it's a bug I picked up on the plane.  Heard a lot of coughing all around us.  Luckily, Gary has stayed well unlike last time when he came down with a bad case of bronchitis.

Enough about sickness.  I'm feeling much better today and anxious to share with all of you some of the highlights of our first week in this fair city. We were invited by neighbors to join them for a big New Year's eve celebration on Saturday night but I was just too sick to attend.   It was fun hearing the music wafting up through our window, at least for awhile.  It finally halted at 4 am and we were glad to get to sleep sadly without the benefit of the partying and dancing going on downstairs.  Everyone greets us on the street with "Feliz Año Nuevo" and we're enjoying our friendly "barrio," including the local grocer up the street, Antonio, where we can shop daily for fresh fruits and vegies and just about anything else we need at very reasonable prices.

A highlight this week was attending a poetry reading at the Bibliotecha. I was  happy to learn about SOL, a literary magazine specifically for stories by Americans living in Mexico.  I'm going to check it out and perhaps send one of my stories eventually.  On Wednesday we were invited by our dear friend, Francisca Vasquez, with whom we have lived the past three visits to San Miguel, in the cute apartment she has rented to us.  We have become very fond of her and her family since I first met them in 1999, when I came to San Miguel to study Spanish and she was my "host mother."  They were having an early celebration of Dia de los Reyes Magos, Day of the Three Wise Men. Here in Mexico it is even more important than Christmas day.  It is the day when the children look forward to receiving presents like the Three Kings purportedly brought to baby Jesus.  It is on Jan. 6th but our friends were celebrating a day early since Francisca's daughter and her family, who live in Texas and who had been here for the holidays had to fly back on the 5th.

The tradition is that everyone gathers around a manger scene, where the children rock a small doll sybolic of Jesus while everyone sings and several prayers are offered. We were forgiven for not participating in this ritual.  The chosen children walk around with the baby Jesus in the cradle (in this case a scarf) and everyone leans down and kisses the head and is given a candy.  Afterwards we all gathered in the dining room for a big feast of tamales, both with pork and sweet ones for dessert, chocolate and a delicious drink made with strawberries.  We enjoyed their comraderie and the warmth they all showed towards us.  We felt like part of the family.  My throat got some extra exercise translating the Spanish for Gary, which probably wasn't too helpful for my  recovery.  I spent most of next day, laying low, reading and trying to get some writing done. In the afternoon we walked down to our favorite coffee spot, Monet's (think I mentioned it in the last Blog) and low and behold there were Los Reyes Magos, the Three Wisemen on horses and in costumes throwing candy to the throngs of children lining the street.  A flatbead truck was decorated with a manger scene with a live  Joseph and Mary and baby Jesus.  It moved along slowly towards the center of town, El Jardin and people in the parade passed out baloons and more candy.  One more fiesta in our collection of enjoyable holidays in Mexico.

Josafina came today for the third time since our arrival.  She's the maid that works for Kathleen and Ron two days a week, cleaning the casa, doing wash and helping keep  the terrace plants thriving.  She is a sweet woman and it's another nice opportunity for me to practice my Spanish.  She doesn't speak a word of English.  I've never had a maid in my life but realize how important this is to helping the local economy and we are happy to contribute in this way.

I've created a slideshow of photos from our first week but am having quite a time downloading them onto my blogsite.  I need an IT person to help but should be able to figure it out soon.  Bare with me, por favor!
Buen Año Nuevo! Sher 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Back in San Miguel de Allende

Waking up again in San Miguel de Allende is such a treat.  After a rather arduous trip down via two stopovers, one in Las Vegas and one in Mexico City, we were happy to arrive at Casa La Amarillo, the house of our friends on La Palma in the barrio of San Antonio last Wednesday morining. Our amigos, Kathleen and Ron Hughes, met us with open arms, conducted us to Monet's, their local hangout.  Charming like most San Miguel cafes and restaurants, Monet's offers a wide assortment of delicious foods and beverages, including "Unhappy Hour" from 8-11am with a special 35 peso breakfast.  With our current good exchange rate that's only about $2.50.  See why we save money living in Mexico?  Que bueno!

Coming back to the house after some fun catching up over breakfast, we poured ourselves into a big comfy bed in our "new" bedroom and snoozed deeply until 3:00 in the afternoon.  Kathleen and Ron  realized we needed the sleep and were so quiet.  When we woke up we went downstairs with K and R to meet our neighbors, Kim and Harry. We're in a two story casita with our own entrance and a rooftop patio off the kitchen. Lots of light streams in from front and kitchen windows.  Love it! Everywhere there's something interesting to look out on. Distant hillsides and closer rooftops, some pretty with colorful pots and others with just the typical rebar sticking up, grace our vistas.  That's one of those "only in Mexico" stories I may not have told you before.  In order to avoid higher property taxes, Mexicans keep their houses in a slightly unfinished state with the rooftop terraces never quite finished.  Clever!  We also met our Landlady, Margarita who lives down a side alley next to our casa. Her whole family shares the space along with a couple of other charming rentals.  Kathleen and Ron have been renting this place now for nine years and love the mostly Mexican neighborhood. Up the street is San Antonio Church and a beautiful square with scattered park benches and flora.  Our local shop for groceries, abarrotes, is right on the square and we've already struck up a friendship with the owner, Antonio, who's very nice and full of fun.  We can get everything there  including fresh vegies and fruits.  We paid only about 75 cents yesterday for five delicious big grapefruits, one of our favorite breakfast foods along with papayas, bananas and pineapple.  Ummm!

Our local favorite restaurant is Rincocita a few blocks from us.  K and R took us there for dinner the night before they left on December 30th.  A very pleasant couple own and run it. The ambience and food are superior.  Our neighborhood is quiet---well, most of the time, until locals decide to set off celebratory firecrackers or have an all night band for New Year's Eve.  All part of the Mexican experience.

After our friends left early Friday morning, we walked into town and went back to some of our favorite haunts like El Jardin, the big and beautiful central plaza of San Miguel where families stroll and gather to share stories, children play and birds chirp.  We walked the side streets, small cobblestoned calles, and stopped to say "hola" to a couple of shopkeepers we remembered from our past stays here.  We got back at the casita and enjoyed preparing dinner in our sweet and accommodating kitchen.  K and R have equipped it with everything one would need:  French Press coffee maker, waffle iron, blender, a wok,great utensils and knives(sharper than the ones I have at home),and  beautiful Mexican pottery. We feel very fortunate to be able to live here for the next three months.

New Years Eve we were invited to Margarita and Luis' party downstairs but, unfortunately, I came down with a sore throat and just didn't feel like mixing with the crowd or  spreading my germs.  Gary, too, felt tired. We realized we were still catching up from our activity filled holidays.  Staying in felt good.  We enjoyed the flickering lights in our window that Ron had put up for the holidays and those across our street, the music wafting up to our terrace where we indulged in a couple of margaritas with our homemade guacolmole and chips.  We had a good dinner of  local roast chicken we picked up earlier in the day and then just curled up on the couch to watch a TV movie on R & K's big wide Flat Screen TV.  We ushered in the New Years with a hug and a toast and t;hen fell into bed, sounds of the music below lulling us to sleep---well, lulling is probably not quite the word, but you get the picture.

Yes, we have everything here, except our family and friends and that's why we will enjoy keeping up with your activities, too.  We hope you had a wonderful Holiday Season and the New Year brings you good health, wonderful adventures and peace and prosperity!

Abrazos, Sher

P.S. Stay tuned:  I'm still trying to figure out how to load my photos onto my blogspot.