Archive for February, 2010

Last day in San Miguel de Allende!

Sunday, February 28th, 2010
Parroquia by night

Parroquia by night

Until recently, I hadn’t been out much at night. What a revelation! The whole town changes. Last night I met a friend down @ the jardin, with the Parroquia lit up and anchoring the festivities. Centro was crowded, although it wasn’t any special fiesta. There were all kinds of food stands, fireworks, kids with balloons, couples strolling. Some vaqueros  had ridden their horses into town and were twitching their lariats and giving rides to friends.

We sat and watched for a while, then did a paseo around the square and headed down some side streets where vendors set up in the evenings. There are stands that sell tacos, elotes (corn on the cob, w/mayo & chile/limon), & steamed fresh chickpeas. We also found a little outdoor bookfair with books in Spanish ranging from coloring books to the Tibetan book of the dead. On that little square, there was African music playing.

Today my plan (loose plan, of course) is to meet a friend @ the jardin, do a little shopping & get some American cash @ the ATM, have one last bowl of posole. Then meet another friend @ Posadita’s little rooftop bar for drinks & goodbyes. Then one more evening w/a dear friend, and home to the casita to rest for the trip tomorrow.

What’s really funny is that I’m starting to realize how coddled I’ve been in MX. Maybe that’s why I like it so much? For the last three months I haven’t:

  • cooked- I basically assemble things from food stands
  • washed my own clothes- Sr Carlos does that
  • driven- taxis are cheap and omnipresent (well, usually.)

I do still chew my own food. (In fact I had 2 fabulous mangoes for breakfast today!)

Further plans (such as they are): Flying to Seattle tomorrow via Houston. Seeing the kids (YAY!) & dropping stuff @ storage in PT. Thurs fly to DC & drive to the farm. Plans are vague after that, but I’ll probably be in the Seattle area by mid-April.

Hasta la vista!

TGIF #20

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

Packing Day by nep

This was my last Fri in San Miguel de Allende- for this trip anyway. So Friday was spent saying goodbye to many of the wonderful friends I’ve made here this winter. San Miguel is one of those magical places that just draws exceptional people. I feel very fortunate to have met so many of them.

Today I’m dragging out the suitcases for a test pack. If there’s any room left over, I can still go shopping 😉 Somehow, I don’t think that will be the result, however.

I thought I’d tried a good cross-section of market food, but last night was introduced to the seafood counter @ Ignacio Ramirez market. OMG. Seafood cocktails here are made with a sauce more like thinned catsup, but it’s very spicy. I had octopus & shrimp, topped with slices of avocado. I could live on these, except I need to save room for posole, green enchiladas, chicharrones… Yes, all I do is eat, and think about what I’ll eat next.

Friday links:

What I read in class today…

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010
Tianguis Ropas

Tianguis Ropas

Learning the Ropas at Tianguis

Watch your wallet. Or better still, leave it behind, along with anything else you’d mind losing. What you need is a pocket stuffed with small peso bills and coins. That was Donna’s advice, and she’s been coming to Tianguis to shop for ropas (clothing)  for years.

Tuesdays in San Miguel de Allende are Tianguis day. Families go, sweethearts meet up, grannies and gringos, tourists and touts- everyone is there.

Overnight, the dusty deserted lot transforms with tarps and tables into a small city of vendors. There’s not much you can’t get, and cheaply if you’re prepared to bargain.

The first time, I went alone. I came home empty-handed, wide eyed and reeling from sensory overload. Meat frying for tacos, copal incense burning, a loudspeaker lady listing all the ailments cured by her potion, jostling crowds and tables with eye-high mountains of used clothes.

No one is sure where the clothes come from or where they go. They are all washed and the mix changes weekly and with the seasons. But if you lose your luggage, pack for the wrong weather or (in my case) your laundry comes back pink, Tianguis is where you replace your wardrobe.

We started way in the back, at Donna’s favorite booth. The tables start out fairly organized- children’s clothes on one, men’s on another and women’s taking several in the middle.

The process works like this- push yourself into a spot, don’t worry where. Smile and say “Buenos dias” to your new friends. Everyone is shuffling counter-clockwise, so you’ll eventually cover most everything. First use your eyes, and scan the clothing mountain for your colors. Then touch it. If you like the fabric, pull it out. What is it? A skirt, jacket, dress? If it’s not what you want, toss it back on the pile. Slightly to your left, for your neighbor’s consideration. If it’s a possible, hold it up against yourself. This is a chance for everyone around you to weigh in on the decision. Ropas shopping is a team sport.

San Miguel Writers’ Conference

Monday, February 22nd, 2010
BK San miguel

Barbara Kingsolver Keynote speech

Well, it’s day four of the Writers’ Conference, starring BARBARA KINGSOLVER! Yes, that’s her in the picture above.

The only time I was closer than that was in the line of the ladies’ room, with somebody yelling “No paper in the toilets! Put the paper in the wastebaskets!” (In Mexico, you do not flush down the paper. Most restrooms have signs to this effect, but this is a fancy hotel, so they have no signs, which means that out of the four toilets available to 400 or so women, several were plugged @ any given time.)

BK’s speech was absolutely amazing, so I’ve gotten a couple copies on CD. I was worried that someone with such a laser focus & an occupation that tends to draw the introverted would have trouble addressing a packed house. Au contraire. She knocked it out of the park.

And the other speakers have been equally effective. I’m learning so much my poor head is about to explode. Most of what I’m focusing on is creative non-fiction & travel writing. I’m skipping all the parties, which means I totally missed the excitement last night, “Disrespecting the Gourd” and “Art Goodtimes” reportedly having a conniption fit. Those d**d poets….

As the conference winds down, more and more people are showing up with black eyes, broken arms and canes, compliements of San Miguel’s cobblestones. The OXXO store across the street (Mexican 7-11) is doing a bang-up business since the hotel is not serving coffee after breakfast (coffee-drinking is not a concept in MX.)

I’ve had my own goodtimes, finding a very cool place to have Sunday morning tamales, meeting fellow nomads & generally having a blast, as is my habit. But I’m very very tired.