Thursday, February 26, 2009

Update on Mexico -- trip to Bernal

Since Anne told me she was trying to follow the blog, I decided I better add to it. I had great visions of posting every day, but we have been extremely busy—and when we got back to the hotel, we just wanted to rest.

Usually, I find writing somewhat relaxing, but not here. I have never been a great typist by anyone’s standards in the best of circumstances. Here it is more difficult for three reasons:

1) The keyboard is multinational—if you have never dealt with a multinational keyboard then you may ask “What´s the big deal?” I can assure you it is a big deal. While most of the letters are in the same place, there are extras (ñ for example). The punctuation marks are in lots of different places.
2) Many of the letters have been rubbed off. This might not be an issue to many—especially for a “touch-typist”, but I need the comfort of knowing that when I press a key, what letter is going to come up.
3) Linda is either watching or hanging around in the background somewhere, waiting for me to get off the computer.

We are having a great time. The people are very warm and friendly, if shown courtesy. And while I am proud to be a Texan and an American, I don’t wave it around. When people find out I am a Texan, they don´t say much until I say “Not every Texan is George Bush.” That usually puts them at ease, and they make some joke about it. I don´t have much problem with W myself, but apparently the rest of the world hates him.

Yesterday we went to a small community called Bernal. Our friend Andrea took us. She is so funny. I think she wanted us to buy something in every store. I was sorely tempted and had to keep reminding myself we were flying. Andrea introduced us to the local gorditas. They were outstanding and Andrea ate several herself. I began to call her “La Gordita” and she thought that was funny. I was able to add to my growing collection of tequila shot glasses there. Andrea calls them “caballitos” (little horses) but the sign on them said “tequilleras”.

Saw a couple of museums when we got back—one we really enjoyed about the “Restoration”, or when the Mexican Republicans defeated Maximilian. (If you’ve ever seen “The Undefeated” with John Wayne, it is about this period. We saw a modern art museum, which I would not have seen if I had realized what crap was in it. (And it the only one that has cost us!)

Other than Andrea I fell in love at least twice yesterday. Once with Monica the girl at the tourism office, and once with Anna. Anna was in the courtyard of the hotel and I asked if she was guest. She affirmed she was, then I Asked if she spoke English, to which she replies “Un poco.” This surprised me, as most will say “un poquito”, ao I assumed she spoke a little more than most. She told me she was a paleontologist and was here with several others to attend a symposium on gastropods. We had a delightful visit.

Today we are going to an archaeological site a few miles from town. Tonight is the piece de resistance. The Peruyeros are taking us for “alta cocina Mexicana”, or high Mexican cooking. Andrea said she didn´t know how to say it in English. Being a burger and chicken-fried-steak man, I don’t either, but I think the French call it “haute cuisine”. This will be our last evening here. I am not particularly looking forward to getting back to work, but I am getting tired of thinking in Spanish, paying in pesos, and calculating in metric. I am also getting VERY tired of typing on this damn keyboard, so this will close my entry this morning.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

In Mexico, Day 2

What a day. We slept late—for us—until around 7:30. We went to explore the city, first trying to get a hardy and sustaining desayuno. It was difficult, because there were so many things to see. The architecture of the city is beautiful, the history is magnificent.

About every three blocks or so there is a plaza with a statue. Some of these date back centuries, some only a few years (comparatively speaking). Gone, of course, are the celebrants of the night before, replaced by people on their way to work. Since this is the state capital, and a prosperous city, there are lots.

We eat at a place that would be considered a hole in the wall in the US—not dirty, but very small. It is difficult for me to remember—especially at breakfast--that Mexicans like to linger over a meal, and don´t get in much of a hurry to prepare it. They also eat later than I am accustomed to. I was anxious to get going, but the breakfast was good—though not outstanding.

We began to look around and were overwhelmed at the beauty and the history of Queretaro. I had not realized that this was on the royal road--El Camino Real—from Mexico City to Santa Fe. It is also the place where Mexican first declared their independence from Spain in 1810 (and which they achieved in 1821).

I was in no hurry to call my friend David that I met last summer, as I didn´t want to interrupt his work. Also, I wasn´t sure how to use the phone (do I dial the area code regardless?, etc)

English speakers – bank, waitress, wheelchair, Chicago
Finding David

Monday, February 23, 2009

In Mexico

I set up this blog to put my NaNoWriMo book on, but that has been long since finished, so I will use it for other things—such as our trip to Mexico.

Day one – getting there
We drove to San Marcos to spend the night with Anne, so that she could get us to the San Antonio airport, from whence the real journey would commence. (Hmmm…whence, commence….must be a limerick in there somewhere!) The airport was a mess to navigate, but no real problems were encountered. Linda asked the (cute) ticket agent when the work would be done and she replied that it was scheduled to be finished in two years. “When we´re all old and gray”, I countered. She nodded wanly in agreement, then I said, “I know what you´re thinking—you´re thinking “You´re already there, Buddy” She countered “I was not.” She was a charmer, though.

(I wrote a lot more, but the blogger didn´t save it, so I´ll finish this part later.)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Moving On

I decided it was time to enter something else here, but now I don't know what. Pretty discouraged today. Been trying for two and a half years to promote this town and two outsiders have done more damage than one would think possible. To continue to bring up the drug sting and racial overtaones is like continually bringing up the Dred Scot decision, or the unrest in Little Rock or Watts. The victims have been released and paid large sums of money, which was not used to rebuild their lives. Most of them have gone back to prison on unrelated, but similar charges.
The people here (and I am not a native) are not mean, and are not, for the most part, racists. Sure some are, but where are there not? And most people who have never lived in one don't understand the dynamics of a small town. In a city, the drug dealers are something you hear about. In a town this size, they are a lot closer--you know their names, they are parked next to you at the Sonic, they live down the block, or maybe next door. It is not an abstract issue, but a real one. You see the effects. So when someone comes in with what looks like a solution, you take it. Sure, mistakes were made, and they are regrettable. But I fail to see the point of going over it all again at this point. It does no good that I can see, and a lot--a LOT--of harm.