Musings of an Ajijic Flaneuse

Last week I was asked to write a short article aimed at a newcomer to the Lakeside area. This is what I have dispatched for editorial consideration on this fourth day of 2017.

https://1drv.ms/w/s!Ar1sSh6rHXlQeC3FRlCmRmshu1s

Shared from Word for Android

https://office.com/getword

Advertisements

Buses in Mexico are the Best!

Mexico Bus Distances Table

https://www.mexperience.com/lifestyle/transport/bus-distances-table/

As a frequent Greyhound rider throughout my 30 year teaching career in three provinces, believe me, I’m familiar with the rigors of bus travel.  

So, I was pleasantly surprised at how modern and yes, enjoyable bus travel in Mexico is! Inexpensive, more or less on time and some routes even give you a bagged lunch upon boarding!

Right now I’m staying in Centro Cuernavaca fairly close to a bus station so you just never know where this jypsygrrl will end up for a day trip!

OR a connecting bus to Los Mochis where the El Chepe starts ( or ends) depending on which way you are heading. Love trains and have travelled throughout the Copper Canyon on one many, many years ago!

All Aboard! ( And yes they sill really say that on Amtrak trains!)

Mercados y Más Mercados!

Urban markets: Mexico City’s mercados and tianguis. | Mexico City

http://offers.starwoodlatinamerica.com/destinations/mexico-city/fashion-shopping/urban-markets-mexico-citys-mercados-tianguis/?EM=M8_CONTENT_PROMOTION_LAD_EN#jup

What can I say? I love shopping and markets/ mercados.  From the impromptu street stands that are here today/ gone tomorrow to the city within a city Albatros anything goes mercado in Oaxaca where there is a whole rather scary voodoo spell supply section; Mexican markets are simply magnetic! 

They each have their own very unique vibration, flavour and attitude and you have to be in just the right mood to wander around and savour and enjoy each market’s very particular cache. Some are no nonsense commerce food and restaurante outlets and some just have that omg, they are selling THAT? factor!  Some have vendors where you can make a deal and haggle for a slightly better price and some have vendors who repeatedly fixate on the posted price and turn down the visible peso bill offered. So you walk on…

To the next stall or buy from a mobile vender wandering by with no stall other than what they can carry or in the case of hats/ sombreros what they can pile precariously on top of their heads! I have seen fresh eggs just laid minutes before and even fresher chicken and turkeys on offer that can be bought live and butchered, plucked and cooked at home. I have seen unlucky songbirds caught inside bags or in cramped highrise birdcages wired and balanced together and carried through the street.

Jicamas heaped in the back of a truck sold by a father and daughter team? Sure? Bags of 15 pesos avocados in the bike basket of a passing cyclist? Why not? Hats and scarves on a small table dragged out of a house to a spot under a light post on a dark and cool winter night? Good idea! 

The commerce of Mexico is lively, fluid and endlessly fascinating! Don’t take your shopping list because most of the fun is discovering wonderous things to put in your existing or even newly purchased 5 peso sugar sack emblazoned with colourful logos and brands. 

Makes our sedate, regulated farmers markets up north look positively boring in comparison! 

The Mugwump Considers Her Options for 2017

Casa Higos

http://www.accesslakechapala.com/2016/02/02/casa-higos/

After five wonderful snowbird winters in Mexico I am definitely coming to a crossroads in terms of what’s next… for this jypsygrrl. My first winter here I didn’t think I was the expat type. Now I’m less and less sure.  And it’s really true, after five years of having no fixed address since I sold my house there’s a small but significant part of me who is deeply yearning for a home. 

But not in an anonymous apartment complex but one in a small chosen community where people actually walk around and interact with each other.A place where you welcome your friends and family. A place to hold Artist Way groups or teach English.A place to cook up a storm or have coffee and toast. A place where there is a good medical and transportation infrastructure. 
A place where I can turn the key and look at my tchotchkes and pictures on the wall and sleep in my own bed covered with my favourite quilt and pillows.  

A sunny, light filled place to call…home. 

Mom, I know you wanted your oldest daughter to settle down and I bought 401 Braid at age 40  and you didn’t live to see it but I really, really tried to settle down ( and I did for 17 difficult years) but Penticton just wasn’t my town, my place, my time. 

You would like it here, mom. You would love all the beautiful bougainvilleas blooming year round and the 300+ days of sunshine. And you know that Blue Mountain pottery cat that looked like Charlie, our favourite Persian cat that I got for you with my last 20 bucks for Mothers Day? IF I move here I’m bringing that life size figurine with me, mom. And on the Dias de Muertes when I make the next shrine honoring you and dad I hope you both figure out I’m safe and happy and well and living in the sunshine and swing by for a visit.

Love you, mom. 

Love you dad.

I’m doing well. I really am.

As Much as I Enjoy Blogging…

An Inside Look Into the World of Travel Blogging – Escaping Expectation

http://escapingexpectation.com/2016/11/behind-camera-inside-look-world-travel-blogging/

…I don’t think I’d enjoy it nearly as much if it was a J O B that required multitasking and constant and incessant reporting, commenting, posting and tweeting! I discovered blogs in grad school as a fantastic dimensional format to submit my assignments and now they are both a creative outlet and a place to collect and comment upon my interests and endeavors.

 Blogs are also a handy dandy way to showcase my background and experience when applying for volunteer or work trade positions. By quickly scanning even the titles of my postings people or employers (or yes, prospective boyfriends!) can have a peek at a few aspects of my personality and my interests. I especially like it when readers comment so please feel free to do so below!

Back to Escuela Espanol…

Fastbreak Spanish: Save Time and Memory | Udemy

https://www.udemy.com/conversational-spanish-learn-to-speak-spanish-in-no-time/learn/v4/overview

After a rather lengthy hiatus, it’s time to get back to studying espanol and maximizing my teimpre aqui! Last summer when I was hosting some guests from Quebec I was pleased to note that a lot of the unused French in my brain had been replaced by espanol.

Viva cinco inviernos en México!

Invierno Seis/ Días de Muertes in Guanajuato

306 Steps in Guanajuato – Julie Perini

http://julieperini.org/306-steps-in-gto

Forevermore, when I remember the incredible UNESCO heritage city of Guanajuato escaleras/ steps will come to mind. I knew this city was hilly but really had no idea that the inhabitants in the colorful houses packed so closely  together up those hills had absolutely no streets, just alleys horizontally and vertically! S T A I R S and lots of them; irregular rough concrete and paving stones stairs. With no handrails. Ascend or descend at your own peril!

Guanajuato is a very unique city and I’m truly surprised I didn’t visit here the two winters I spent in San Miquel de Allende. My trip this time coincided with Dias de Muertes, two very special days for Mexicans. It is a time for honoring the dearly departed, a time for family reunions and a time to tell the Grim Reaper,  ” You didn’t get me this year!

My arrival by Primavera Plus bus from Tonala was fairly uneventful until the taxista dropped me off at the top of yes 160 uneven concrete stairs and vaguely pointed down to an undisclosed spot where my booked Hostal,  Casa del Dante was. Well, fortunately I only had a carry on case and a small day pack but I slowly and carefully descended about half of those stairs before spotting the bright pink exterior of said hostal.  I remembered that the stairs were mentioned in the guest reviews but somehow my incorrect assumption was that they were on the interior of the hostal not leading up to the front door!

Once again I was fortunate because the front desk clerk noticing my stair distress recommended another Hostal called AL Son del Santos at the bottom of the 160 stairs and about two blocks down the street. He called over and I was able to get three nights in the female dorm and one night in a cuarto privada which was a nice way to wrap up my four night stay in this incredible city.

Why incredible? Well,  for a while lots of reasons, the first being that Guanajuato is a young, vibrant university town. The second is these amazingly steep hills full of colorful houses accessible only on foot up these in some cases very narrow staircases. Third? Well how about these tunnels of varying lengths connecting the main areas of the city. Add some great coffee bistros and cantinas and you’ve got a winning university town!

The first day I did a basic city walkabout hopping on the tourista trolley in the middle of the afternoon for a great overview of the main areas for basic orientation. The guide spoke only en espanol but I did get dropped at my hostal at the end so that was bueno. Second day was another tour but with a difference! It was November 1rst and I was going the infamous mummy museum as well as the eerie and freaky Museum of Purgatorio. Dead people and the damned and tortured seemed to go together that particular day!

Because I’m such a constant Internet researcher I also discovered a classic horror story written by Ray Bradbury called, ‘ Next in Line.’  Truly a creepy read after walking slowly past all these standing,  yes standing cuerpos! You really have to see them to believe it especially after discovering that they are not all from the last century. 

Here’s the link for a PDF file if you are so inclined to read a tale guaranteed to raise goosebumps!

The second of November was reserved for a visit along with hordes of locals swarming into the panteon/ cemetery just up from the Momias Museo. Guards and traffic control roping kept things orderly and of course the full retinue of food and merchandise vendors were set up outside the graveyard walls. Like in previous years in Ajijic and San Miquel de Allende I walked around slowly just observing the families and floral tributes. Naturally,there was  a full scale mariachi band but with violinists set up in front of a prominent family tomb.

I had purchased a bouquet of the ever present Dias de Muertes flower, the marigold and once again I walked around surveying the graves and vertical crypts looking for one without any flowers where I would leave my tribute.

The Mexicans say there are three deaths, the physical one, the one where your family and friends still remember and the last and most lonely death when there is no one left to remember. A wonderful animated film called Libro de Vida/ Book of Life explains this very well visually.

When I was in San Miquel de Allende I chose  a young but sadly forgotten young mother to receive my flowers in the empty rusty can. This year it was a six month infant only six months old. Maria Cummings,  you didn’t live very long but I hope you did experience some love within your family who now has also sadly passed away into the third death.

Warming Up For Winter Number Six to Mexico and South America!

Definitely overdue for some timely topics now that my new navy ultralight suitcase is filling up with what I think will be essential for a rather itinerant snowbird experience this year in stark contrast to my previous winters where I’ve rented a suite or town house for the winter in one place and stayed there! Sure, I ventured out to Puerta Vallarta twice and last winter to the famous Butterfly sanctuary in Michican but still…I actually unpacked my suitcase completely all five winters.

The winter ahead?  Not too likely because I’ll be ON the move from city to city and possibly hostel to hostel. AND for the first time I’ll be venturing into a previously unexplored continent.

Viva South America!

Update: I had a freak but fortunately not serious slide, Yes slide down 17 steps leading down from my upstairs room at Ajijic Suites my very FIRST morning in Mexico. after getting xrays I found out nothing was broken but…

The but factor has thrown my ambitious itinerary into free fall as alternate arrangements were being made and now have been made. I will now be at Lakeside until the end of the year leaving on December 30th bound for a city as yet unvisited, Cuernaca about an hour outside Mexico City and then rather prematurely home by March.