Thursday, January 31, 2008

waiting for mr. garza

Our tile is to be delivered tomorrow, coming from Garza Azulejos in Manzanillo. We have stacked all the small tiles for kitchen walls and countertops, and for the bathroom, to one side against the downstairs garden wall. The rest of the area is for the floor tiles.

I expect that all of the available wall space plus the rest of the cement apron out to the lawn will be piled with boxes of tiles. I'll show you tomorrow.

A couple of days ago when I posted the recipe for focaccia I said I would put up a picture of a loaf that is cooked. The Patient requested more, more, more. I obeyed.

I made myself a luscious salami on focaccia sandwich. Worth the four hours it takes to prepare it (not the sandwich, the bread).

Last night was dominoes. I won. First time ever I've won two in a row. I must be getting better.

still crazy after all these years

Wednesday was our 44th wedding anniversary. Much can happen in 44 years. Much has. My mother never told me how difficult marriage can be. Nor did my father. That may say something about their 40+ year relationship. But I'm here to tell you . . . well, never mind.

To celebrate this momentous occasion we drove into Manzanillo to check on the particulars of our impending tile delivery. Yes, everything was in order for Friday's delivery. Yes, it had all arrived in the warehouse from Mexico City. You want to change grout color? No problem. (I didn't.) You want to exchange green tiles for blue tiles? (I did.)

Then it was off to do a bit of marketing at the gigantic new big box WalMart. There were more gringos in there than Mexicans, and the variety of the products available told the story. Wonderful boutique cheeses, huge wine selection, good-looking toilet seats (toilet seats??? yes, I need to buy two new ones and well-made ones are hard to find).

To lunch at La Posada again, to sit in that lovely dining room and watch the sparkling sea roll on. Very relaxing, tasty as usual. The Patient decided he would try his favorite pork sandwich. He hasn't been willing to attempt it until now and he did a fine job; cleaned his plate. Of course it took him an hour to get it down, but what's the hurry?

Then back home. The above photo is of my anniversary gift. A receipt for the toll on the fast road. Isn't it romantic?

Sunday, January 27, 2008

the fatted calf

One of our number arrived in town Saturday evening from the US. Among the things she carried down was a 22 lb. standing rib roast to be cooked in Marie's outdoor oven.

Fernando built this oven on Marie's terrazzo four years ago. It is fired with dried coconut husks and reaches an astonishing level of heat. After firing it up you wait two hours before it is cool enough to begin cooking. Otherwise, it simply incinerates anything to put into it. The host packed the roast in salt, waited for the opportune moment, then shoved it into the oven to cook for four hours. The results were superb! I have not eaten any good beef ~ aside from the occasional burger ~ for at least a year. I'm a veal person myself. This was well worth the wait. By the time I fought my way to the carving site so much was gone that a photo was impossible. But take my word for it.

This party was, like all our big get-togethers, a potluck. My contributions were green salad, a lot of veggies peeled and ready to roast in the horno, and focaccia. I have what I think is the best focaccia recipe ever. I've tried many but this is fool proof, the kind of recipe I like. If I've posted this before and you've read it, fast forward to another day. If not, enjoy!


4 cloves garlic mashed
3/4 c olive oil

2 cups warm water (105°F to 115°F;)
2 teaspoons dry yeast

4 – 5 cups (about) flour
2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoon chopped fresh or dried basil ( or herb of choice)

24 hours before beginning bread, heat together the mashed garlic and the olive oil in a small saucepan on lowest flame for about 15 minutes. Swirl pan constantly. DO NOT LET BOIL OR GARLIC WILL BURN. Remove from heat and let sit to steep, covered but not refrigerated.

Place 2 cups warm water in large bowl. Sprinkle dry yeast over; stir with wooden spoon. Let stand until yeast dissolves, about 10 minutes. Add 4 cups flour, cup at a time, salt, and 2 tablespoons of the chopped herb to dough and stir to blend well (dough will be sticky). Knead dough on floured surface until smooth and elastic, adding more flour by tablespoons as needed, about 10 minutes. Form dough into ball. Put about 2 tablespoons of the garlic-oil into large bowl; add dough, turning to coat well.

Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in warm area until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.

Punch down dough; knead into ball and return to same bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in warm area until doubled, about 45 minutes or less

Coat 15x10-inch baking sheet with 1 tablespoon garlic oil. Punch down dough. Transfer to prepared sheet. Using fingertips, press out dough to 13x10-inch rectangle. Let dough rest 10 minutes.

Drizzle 2 tablespoons oil over dough. Sprinkle remaining chopped herb evenly over bread. Let dough rise uncovered in warm area until puffy, about 25 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425°F. Press fingertips all over dough, forming indentations. Drizzle with another tablespoon of oil. If using olives, press into dough.

Bake bread until brown and crusty, about 20 - 25 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. (Camera battery died before I had a chance to shoot baked bread, but it came out fine; crusty and chewy. I'll make it again soon and take a "finished product" shot.)

Makes a great hamburger bun and delicious toast!

I usually bake it on a round clay platter instead of rectangular pan. Just press out into circle instead.

The dough is very sticky when you start out but picks up flour nicely and is easy to handle and becomes smooth and elastic quickly. But be sure to knead it a minimum of 10 minutes, even though you may think it “feels” done.

If you prefer a bread with a bit more salt, sprinkle Kosher or sea salt on the top before baking. You can substitute any herbs you prefer, or add things like chopped red onion, chopped red pepper, or olives. If you put olives on the top, press them into the dough so they don't get dry and fall off. This bread is very versatile and the dough will hold up well with several additions. It just may take longer to bake.

When I think it is done, I tap it lightly with a fingernail. If it sounds hollow, it’s probably done. But for a crisper crust, give it 5 more minutes!

If you don't use all the olive oil you have prepared, save it for other uses, especially salad dressing or for dipping the focaccia. Yummy!

Tomorrow is a trip to Manzanillo to check on the tile order and reconsider the color of grout I picked for the floor, plus exchange a box of green tiles for a box of blue ones. I'll be glad when this is all done so I can't change my mind yet again.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

opera in the hammock

Today being Saturday, it's the Met Opera. Last week's presentation was a rebroadcast of a Pavoratti performance of La Boheme. Did I have internet connection? I did not. I had waited about 4 months to hear it but, alas, it was not to be. But today I betook myself and the trusty Mac upstairs, situated myself first on the chaise and then in the hammock and enjoyed The Barber of Seville while gazing through the palm trees out to the sparkling sea. I have never heard this opera in person so it's a bit difficult to visualize the action. The singing, however, was glorious and the audience seemed to be having a good time. So I did, too.

Friday, January 25, 2008

buying shower knobs

Let's say, for the moment, that you are going to buy new knobs for your shower. You browse the aisles at Home Depot, ACE, OHS, and finally decide on a lovely set that will, by chance, match the tile you have chosen as an accent in the new bathroom. You ferry this precious purchase home, open up the box and discover, what!! there is a missing piece. So you package up the knobs and return to the store. You explain (I can only hope, for your sake in your native language) that the set is incomplete. Exactly what was missing? The chapteon de laton. You'll never find that in your Oxford Spanish Dictionary, so I'll tell you. It's the flat piece that goes against the wall into which the knob fits.

Now if this were the Home Depot or ACE or OHS, they would check that you really did buy this from them, credit your account or give you some sort of slip for exchange and point you to the aisle where you could find a new set of knobs. Not here. The gentleman helping me disappeared into the back of the store and eventually came back with a new box of knobs. He opened the box, removed the missing piece, tried the new part on my purchase, nodded satisfactorily, put the piece in the box and that was that. The person who wants a set of those knobs will go through the same routine. Just as we did. It's a whole different way of doing business.

This sort of routine makes shopping in Mexico a real challenge. You never know if what you want is available, even it's displayed prominently. The Patient can hardly wait to take his first shower.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


There is nothing particularly photogenic about getting new windows. However, as I have been remiss in posting photos, I decided to attempt to make this an exciting account of this bit of domestic refurbishment here in our little casa by the sea.

After waiting a day for Raul and his worker to show up to do the big installation, they finally arrived at noon yesterday. They got right to work tearing out the old windows and putting in bright white frames. Then they left about 3 PM for comeda with the promise to return. Right after I left for dominoes (I won last night!) they showed up again and continued to work until about 8:30. They haven’t finished yet; there are still missing screens and some old windows that they didn’t get to. I thought they would be back today but no dice. Maybe tomorrow.

The old windows and sliders were installed when this house was built, almost 20 years ago. They are bare aluminum frames and over the years have become so pitted and corroded that there is at least one slider ~ from the living room out on to the front balcony ~ that simply cannot be opened anymore because the whole screen mechanism falls off the track and it is a real chore to wrestle it back together.

As for the windows, they are the crank kind with louvers, as seen here.

You’ll notice that two louvers are missing on the left side. I tripped over the garbage can lid and put my elbow through them. No harm done to me; shattered the glass.

In our upstairs bedroom the slats are wooden and painted the same blue as the front and garage doors. This picture shows the cranks that operate the louvers. Many of them are simply frozen shut with salt and corrosion. Note the lovely palm tree view.

Here’s what a 20 yr. old crank looks like (no snappy come-backs, please.)

They are all encrusted with salt, dust and basic beach-life corrosion. By this stage they are impossible to clean. The only thing to be done is to squirt them with WD 40 when we get here and hope they’ll open again next year!

The windows in the kitchen, which are not on the weather side of the house (they open onto the 2nd floor terrazzo) are in really bad shape. The screens are pulling away from the frames. Roy (previous owner) tried to hold them together with electrical tape but it finally came loose and it was clear that something had to be done.

They will all be replaced by poly-painted frames that are “guaranteed” not to rust, chip or corrode PROVEDED they are cleaned and oiled frequently. The cleaning I can see but oiling them will only make the sand and dust stick. However, this is a big investment so I guess WD 40 will stay.

Here's the replacement of the above mentioned kitchen window. Vast improvement indoors and out!

This is the replacement crank in the bedroom. Nice change.

When he left mid-day, Raul hauled away all the old stuff. I have no idea where he'll take them, probably recycle them for someone else. Nothing ever gets wasted. Use it well.

This is perhaps one of the most boring posts I have ever written. Who in the world cares about replacing windows? How can I possibly hold a reader’s rapt attention with such drivel? It reminds me of trying to make Shelton Strollers® chic!

So I will leave you with this beautiful sunset from last night.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

a slow day on the reporting front

While waiting for the window guy to show up (en la manaña can mean any time between 8 and 12), I scrolled through my Italy photos and came across these from the apartment in Vicenza. I believe I mentioned the puzzle of dish washing and dish draining. On our last trip two years ago I could find no place in that lovely little kitchen to drain just-washed dishes. It was not until the apartment in Barcelona that I figured it out. This trip, I knew what to expect. It is a brilliant system. Here’s the way it works.

What you have here is your basic “Sink with Dirty Dishes” still life.

The dishes get washed and go here:

Above the sink are a couple of wire shelves that hold the clean dishes. The water drips down into a removable tray under the bottom drain shelf. (The topmost shelf is for storage.) You simply slide the tray out and dump the water in the sink.

Then, dishes done, it looks like this. Is that clever or what?

As I say, I didn’t discover this clever mode of dish washing/storage until Spain when I opened a cupboard looking for glasses and saw they were in a wire mesh cage. Hummm, I thought. I wonder if this serves some purpose. The penny dropped, the light bulb went on, and I marveled at the ingenuity of this set-up! It also answered the question of why I couldn’t find any of those plastic dish drainers we have. I like their method better.

NEWS FLASH #1! I'm back on the internet at home. Thank you, JN!!

NEWS FLASH #2! The ventana installer did not show up today. Again, manaña. Well, this is Mexico, after all.

Monday, January 21, 2008

monday rounds

Tiangues this morning and everyone seemed to be selling strawberries, now priced at 15 pesos a kilo. So I loaded up for sweet treats during the coming week. Hard-to-find treats are avocados. I think they are all being shipped to the US! But I still managed to buy 3 beauties for 10 pesos! I really can't complain .

We are about finished buying goods for the remodel. Saturday we drove up to Colima and bought 5 boxes of tiles and assorted loose ones, plus the final towel rack holder that get cemented into the tiles. We clattered all the way down the hill to the beach, unloaded our treasures and laid out the tile patterns for the walls. Still not exactly as I want it; we had to order some tiles to be picked up in about 2 weeks, then I'll really be able to finally hit on the perfect design. Meanwhile, we have about 30 boxes of tiles piled up in the back, a perfect hiding place for scorpions and spiders. And on February 1 all the floor tiles will be delivered!

This afternoon we again hit the tiles stores in Tecoman to look for a new sink for the kitchen and two new toilets. Found the sink; it's some sort of artificial material that won't rust, scratch, stain, pit, spot, etc. It just sits there holding dish water while you abuse it. V. expensive so we are "thinking about it." Meanwhile, the Patient found the exact hot/cold water handles he wants. In fact, just has to have. The price? More than the kitchen sink (truly). But they will be quite pretty. (grumble) As for the toilets, I finally found just what I want. They are about 3 inches taller than the normal, run-of-the mill jobs and, being a tall person, this counts. I am somewhat shy about squatting on toilets in a show room so went armed with measurements. I was assured that this is the "tallest stool" made. OK.

Window maker arrives tomorrow morning to install 21 new windows and screens. After the tile is laid he will be back with 3 sliders and a front door. After kitchen tiling is done he will return again with the two new windows we are having punched into the kitchen wall. I'm hoping this will aid in circulation and cooling down the very hub of activity in the house.

No photos today. Tomorrow, I hope. Still no internet at home. Maybe next week.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

off the wire

I am again without internet at home. Some fiddling around with the intention to fix has knocked out my connection until further notice. Thank heavens for the little cybercafe here in town. So back to where I left off some days ago.

A couple of months ago (has it been that long??) I wrote here that I would say something about the last trip to Venice, taken the Wednesday before we left. That would have been November 15th, I believe. We went expressly to “do” the islands in the Venetian Lagoon. There are 34 islands, including Venice. I thought we might be able to do 5 or 6! Unfortunately for us it was a bitterly cold day with a nasty, icy wind. We were not to be deterred, however. We took the train across to Venice, came out of the station and were met with a blast of wet fog and damp. We bought a day pass on the vaporettoand set off for the first island stop, Saint Michele.

There is no good way to describe the lagoon in that sort of weather. Or in any weather for that matter. You wend your way through the Grand Canal, with its magnificent wrecks of palazzos, beautiful bridges, monuments and public buildings. The sky was grey and low, the water murky and choppy from the wind. After the last stop the boat leaves the shelter of the buildings on either side and heads out into open water. It is so vast! I was not prepared for that. The water lanes are marked off not only by buoys but also by tall lamp posts rising out of the water with quaint glass coverings. I have seen photographs of the lagoon lit at night; it’s quite magical. The boat picks up speed and before long you are clipping right along but headed who knows where. We couldn’t see the islands because of the fog; not dense, just enough to be a bit mysterious.

After about 30 minutes, the first stop came into view. Saint Michele. This is where all born and bred Venetians go after death. The entire island is a burial ground of the rich and famous and the not-so rich or famous. Good Venetians all, with the exception of a few famous men and women who were actually Venetians at heart. The latest addition to the walk of fame was, at that time, Joseph Brodsky. The whole island is chock-a-block with gravestones, monuments of greater or lesser proportions, beautifully tended flower gardens and walkways. Every here and there is a rack holding plastic watering cans beside either a hose or spigot so you can see to the condition of your family’s plot. On the boat to the island are people carrying bouquets of flowers and plants for the graves. Very beautiful, very moving. But the population has gotten so dense that many graves are dug up after 10 or 20 years to make room for new tenants. I never found out where the previous tenants are moved to.

Next stop was Murano, the island famous for its glassblowing factories. Murano glass is famous world wide and certainly is beautiful if not sometimes a bit gaudy. There are several places you can go to walk through the process of making an object but on this particular cold Wednesday many of them we went to were closed. So we contented ourselves by walking around the little island, like Venice, little islets connected by pretty bridges. We stopped at a café for hot chocolate, just the thing for the weather.

Then we moved on to Burano, the lace-making island. This place is famous for two things. One is, as I said, lace-making. The other is the colorful houses (think San Miguel only more so). The reason given is that the ladies of the island who were home tatting all day long wanted their menfolk, fishermen, to be able to see their houses as they came home in the evening or in the fog. So they all painted their houses different colors. Here’s what it looks like:

Like Venice and Murano the place is connected by little bridges across tiny canals and, of course there are no cars. Not even scooters here as there were on Murano. There are lots of shops selling beautiful linens and laces, just the place to buy a set of table linens or such. I ended up buying Emily a beautiful lace handkerchief to carry at her wedding (in about 15 years!) or, if she elopes, to stuff into her backpack.

We moved on to Torcello, the spot where Ernest Hemingway holed up while writing "Across the River and Into the Trees" between duck hunting and bottles of wine with Giuseppe Cipriani—the founder of Locanda Cipriani, the island's famous inn and restaurant, and then owner of the Venice cornerstone Harry's Bar. There is another restaurant, Ponte del Diavolo that I wanted to go to but, alas, it was closed that day. Torcello also has a large, well-populated bird sanctuary. Then we went to Tronchetto, but by how, however, it was raining, quite windy, and too cold to get out and tromp around. So we sat in the boat for awhile, keeping warm, until we took off again back across the lagoon to Venice proper.

There are many other islands scattered through the lagoon, some uninhabited. Some are given over to agricultural crops, some are for animal grazing, and a few are privately owned. Imagine! We could have stayed on the boat and gone out to the Lido, the long island that is the outermost barrier between Venice and the Adriatic Sea. But it was getting late and our fingers had almost ceased to function from the cold.

We got off the boat at the first stop and walked back through the narrow streets, some so dark I could hardly see, across tiny bridges and through pretty, surprising piazzas. Even though it was cold, the laundry must be done.

We stopped in to our favorite restaurant for a bite to eat before catching the train back to Vicenza.

This place is in a tiny square and is connected with the Malibran Hotel and the famous theatre. Yummy food, and it was warm inside. Then we trooped back to the vaporetto stop, caught the train and thawed out on our way back to Vicenza. It was, all in all, a splendid, very special day. What a place.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

what fernando wrought

Ten days ago, when we left on our great adventure in the cold weather, Fernando was charged with repainting the inside of the wall that surrounds the house. This is what it looked like when we left.
This is the view of the small front garden from the guest bedroom breezeway. We came home to find this glorious color on the walls.

It makes this little front garden look so much more tropical, more Mexican, if you will. The flamingos look more at home here, don't you think?

Here is a shot of the back wall before . . .
and after.

Spend some time in San Miguel (or Burano; more about that tomorrow) and you never know what you'll decide about color!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

noodling around on the internet

If you think computers can save the world, or at least give it a chance, check this out.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Home from Patzcuaro

We pulled away from the hotel at 7:15 AM and arrived home at 3:45 PM. Eight and a half hours to travel 352 miles through the wilds of Michoacan; the first 150 in 3 hours, the last 200 in 5 1/2 hours. I'm beat, the Patient/Pilot is beat. No banditos this time. The traffic was very light and even though the road from Playa Azul at the coast north to Tecoman is very twisty and windy, I didn't get sick! Just when I thought we were going to have a straight shot up the coast the road would turn back into the jungle and go up another mountain. But we are safe and sound and that's all she wrote until tomorrow.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

A walk around the city

We have had a wonderful 10 days in the alta plana, a completely different atmosphere than the coast. For one thing it is very, very dry ~ nose-bleed, skin-scale dry. I, for one, will be glad to get back to the humidity of the beach. And of course you don’t see people in shorts and sandals. It’s sweaters, rebosas, boots, hats and serapes. I’ll be glad to shed a few layers of "warmies" and get back into the "coolies".

This morning we went out in search of the pottery street market we went to a few years ago. Nowhere to be seen. Instead, we stumbled into one of the best tiangues I’ve ever seen. Blocks and blocks of gorgeous fruits and vegetables in such eye-popping color, abundance and variety. I would guess it covered about five square blocks around the permanent open market. If I lived here I know where I would spend my Sunday mornings!

These are the smallest papaya I have ever seen, about the size of a grapefruit instead of a football. I have had some every morning for breakfast with a squirt of lime to bring out their delicate flavor.

These are cascabel peppers, the absolute hottest you can find. Use sparingly … if at all.

This pile of beautiful green peppers looked almost fake, but they are not. These are the type used for chiles rellenos and that I use instead of bells to make traditional stuffed peppers. Best if charred and skinned. Otherwise a bit tough. They have a lovely flavor.

This charming gentleman, sitting on the right in his stall, had beautiful hats and other woven decorations. I asked him if I could take his picture and he smiled broadly, showing a beautiful gold tooth. Then he took his seat and gazed off to the side so as to seem, I guess, entirely casual about the whole thing.

A pile of dogs – five in all but I only got four of them – were sleeping in their owner’s odds and ends stall. He was selling pens, pencils, lottery tickets, and something covered in a cloth in a bucket, probably tamales.

And finally, mo trip to a market would be complete without a photograph of the flower vendors. I only saw three in the market, but there were little ladies walking through selling bunches of flowering herbs, like manzanilla and bunches of cilantro. The yellow flowers in the bucket in front are little fuzzy blossoms from acacia trees.

After making our way through the market we walked back to the hotel through the sunny streets. Here are some pictures that show the almost-universal paint colors of the city. All building signs are all painted in black with the first letter of each word in red, and all are in the same font. There must be some signage ~ and paint ~ tsar lurking here.

Tomorrow morning we leave this lovely place and head home. The Patient, who is driving and therefore gets to choose the route, has decided that we will drive due south to Lazero Cardenas and Playa Azul and then head north to Tecoman and on to Cuyutlán. There is a new cuota (toll) road from here to the coast, but from there north it is a twisty 2-lane job that we have driven once before and is, for me, a terrible drive. I get car sick easily. AND this road is notorious forbanditos who set up "road blocks" and liberate all your goods and, frequently, your car. But as I said, the Patient gets to choose the route. I'll check in when we get home and let you know how we fared. Or I won't.

Friday, January 11, 2008

greetings from patzcuaro

We arrived before noon after an easy drive from SMA to Morelia and then on to this delightful colonial city. At 7,000 elevation, this plana is even more alta than San Miguel. We drove right to our favorite hotel and got a room, unpacked, tried the TV, it didn't work, went into another open room and tried that TV, it worked so we packed up again and changed rooms. We are not easily deterred guests. Then we took a drive to Tzintzutzan to see if any vendors were set up in the church square. No, not until tomorrow. So we returned and I began the great cybercafe hunt. Found one just across the square from the hotel. Very handy.

The city is as I remember it except more crowded. We came here first in 2002 and it was instant enchantment. We returned in 2006 for another few days. The area is famous for several craft-type things; fabrics, wood carving, stone masonry, pottery and leather working. The governor of Michoacan, Senor Queroga, made sure that each village became self-sufficient in some craft and these skills have been handed down through the generations. Tzintzuntzan is known for a special kind of pottery that I hope to find tomorrow. The paint jobs on the buildings are still the same; red on the bottom, white on the top and although one might find it boring after the explosion of color in SMA, it's really quite beautiful. When I find the camera in among the tiles I will take some shots.

So tomorrow it's back to the tiangues on the great pottery hunt. We are looking for a carved wooden frame for a mirror, too. I'll report what I might find. On Sunday there is a pottery mart in one of the jardins near the hotel. I'll undoubtedly check that out, too. An of course we are always on the hunt for the perfect fountain for the back yard. But how we would get it home is another problem. They are mostly carved stone or cast cement. What we need is some sort of "add water and shake" product that automatically turns into a gorgeous fountain and only weighs 2 lbs. in powder form. Ever heard of such a thing?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Adios San Miguel, hola Patzcuaro

Today we pack up and get ready to move on to Patzcuaro tomorrow morning. This has been a most successful adventure. We found all the tiles we were looking for, bought new bathroom fixtures: TP holder, toothbrush holder, towel holders, soap dish, hooks, all in ceramic. We even found a belated wedding gift and a friend’s requested purchase. If we actually find the fabric we want for new drapes we will have batted 1000. The laundry has been dropped off for 1-day service, a couple of cases of hard-to-find Chilean wine is stowed among the tile boxes, the apartment has been tidied up, and we’ll do take-away from Hecho en Mexico tonight. I guess we’re ready.

Among the treasures I found here was a new shopping bag. Mexicans at the tiangues use big, multi-colored woven plastic bags as their carry-alls. Most are plaid or striped. On a trip to Guanajuato I found a bag with the face of Frida Kahlo painted on it. Somehow, somewhere this bag got lost. But I found another one into which I can put all my purchases, starting with veggies and flowers from the big indoor market in the center of town.

And here she is, eyebrows and all!

Before I go there are a couple of other photos to put up that reflect life here in SMA. As in Florence, there are delightful little fountains in completely unexpected spots. Walking up the street toward the central jardin I came across this wall fountain making the prettiest gurgling sound. Beautiful colors, as usual.

Then there was a house with this sign on it. I never did figure out what the house had done wrong.

If you want a sun face for your house, I know just the place where you can find one ~ or more.

Frequently, if a house’s walls have windows in them they are barred, then shuttered and not terribly interesting. But I saw this window high on the wall of a house with some lovely vines spilling over the top of the wals and trailing around the window.

Remember the fish restaurant we like so much? Here it is, in all it’s rough glory. It is actually a Sol tent (Sol is a beer maker/distributor), plastic chairs and tables, 4 items on the menu and the best cole slaw in town. The magazine rack on the right is well used, the issues of various rags fairly current.

Walking home from a trip to the big market I saw this man and his little boy riding down the main street. I love his hat and the fancy embroidery down the seam of his trousers. He seemed well aware of the sight he was presenting, and happy about it, too.

We went up to the Bella Artes, a beautiful old hacienda that has been turned into a cultural center. No matter how hot, dusty and busy the surrounding streets are it is always cool and serene in the big courtyard. There is a lovely, sparkling fountain in the center with chairs and tables scattered around for students or patrons of the little coffee shop.

Meanwhile, next door in the forecourt of the big church, a group of caballeros had gathered with their horses for a Sunday mass. This fellow fell to chewing the grass as soon as he was tethered up.

This morning, as we were driving home from some errands we mused on what had led us to Cuyutlán instead of, perhaps, this lovely place. IF we had come here before we went there, would we have purchased a house? IF it has been 1996, probably yes, and then we would have reversed our get-aways. After 2000, however, it would probably have been too expensive here but it was still easily do-able at the beach. But now, even there the land/housing prices are getting outrageous. Would we have like living here? Probably, although it’s not nearly as “Mexican” as is our village for the simple reason that there are virtually no gringos there and there are about 15,000 here. And it’s cold here. Not what I’m after. I can get cold at home.

So now it’s on to more cold but more things to see and do. I don’t know if I’ll be able to find any internet connections there. I will take photos of the very interesting architecture; actually, it’s again the paint that’s of note. All buildings are painted the same for the most part; red on the bottom, white on the top. Again, narrow cobbled streets, crazy traffic, no place to park. Our usual hotel is a real find as it has off street parking, but no heat. We can always go sleep in the car with the engine running.