Archive for the ‘Artsy Little Towns- ALTs’ Category

The Candelaria that wasn’t

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010
Flood in Queretaro

Flooded Field- Queretaro State

Well, those of you who have been paying close attention know that “unusual weather” seems to follow me. (Remember Snowpocalypse?) So it’s no great surprise that Candelaria week, which is celebrated in February (the DRY season) with a week-long outdoor flower market and festivities celebrating the start of the growing season (It’s a pagan holiday, co-opted by the Church, re-co-opted by the pagans… Gotta love Mexico!) has turned into an absolute deluge. It’s been raining (we’re talking buckets, not drops) all week. Thunder, lightning, the whole enchilada.

And like most of the gringos, I’ve been cranky & cold (honestly, tomorrow it’ll be warmer in Seattle!) and hiding in my casita, lamenting the dearth of good hot chocolate mixes & watching pirated DVDs.

Today, however, I felt like the Ugly American for real. An errand took me out of town to the nearby city of Queretaro. So I rode in a taxi an hour thru the countryside each way. And, with as many farmers in the family as I have, for many generations, you’d think I would have gotten it.

What is an inconvenience for me is an unmitigated disaster for the farmers around here. And I doubt if there’s any crop insurance. The fields are plowed, and in some cases planted (I think with corn, but can’t tell for sure.) The soil is washing away & the seedlings are drowning. There are going to be hungry people and animals here this year.

The only possible good news is that most of the farmers don’t monocrop. So if this crop fails, they may be able to get by on their other crops; all their eggs aren’t in this basket. But it’s going to be rough- these are very small farms, and I’m afraid some will be lost.

I’ve been running into mention of the Food Crisis 2010 more and more. Maybe some of the real farmers have some insight into this.

But I do know that if you’ve been thinking about starting a vegetable garden, this would be a really good year to start. And I’d use heirloom seeds & save them for next year. Here’s what you can do w/100 square feet.

Full Moon @ El Charco

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

El Charco de Ingenio

Last week, I finally made it out to El Charco de Ingenio Botanical Garden. I say “out,” but one of the really interesting things is that it is inside the San Miguel city limits. It feels very “outside,” however.

There are twice-weekly tours which are very fun & informative. I did that on Tuesday. There are close ties with the local indigenous cultures, and this is very much a shared space.(Pix are here.)

There are birding groups, a conservatory, ruins of Spanish aqueducts, yoga classes… El Charco is a must see.

On full moon nights, there is a ceremony, open to anyone who cares to join in. So I talked ND from Nashville into going with me, and we had a great time, shaking rattles, invoking archangels & the whole works.  She’d been there for a sweat lodge before, which sounded quite strenuous to me ( 4 hours!!)

The moon was gorgeous and the night was calm and clear after a kind of overcast day. The stars were fantastic. Made me wonder why I’m not out at night more often? And how long has it been since I went camping? Food for thought.

Pena de Bernal- Finally!

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010
Pena de Bernal

Pena de Bernal

Last Sunday, I finally got to visit Pena de Bernal. It’s been on my list of essential places to see ever since I arrived. Although it’s only 2 hours from San Miguel, it’s one of those “you can’t get there from here” sort of places. So I was thrilled when amiga P got me included on a day trip w/Portlanders  C & D in their rental car.

After reading articles like this, I was ready for about anything. Arriving on a Sunday afternoon,  a lot of the tourists were Mexican, and out for a fun family outing- often 3 generations together. I did notice a much calmer energy than is usual, and people were very friendly & helpful (but that’s normal in MX).

We had a great lunch and then walked up to the starting point. That was a pretty decent hike in itself. Then threaded thru the vendors and picnickers & started the climb.

I was amazed at the assortment of climbers. And also, this is nothing like a US park, with all kinds of safety rails & smooth paths. No, this is Mexico, and you’re on your own. There were grannies, toddlers, adolescents w/beers in hand. Lots of totally inappropriate footgear and whining, but mostly everyone was having a great time on a really hot day.

I didn’t get very far (realized pretty quickly that the way down would be a big problem for my leg), but sat by the side and just enjoyed the vibe. I did bring my crystals along for a field trip, and set them beside me in the sun. Also bought some local obsidian & carnelian chunks to add to the family.

The rest of the crew got pretty high up. There is a 1/2 way point with a little chapel; after that, climbing gear is needed.

Then back to the plaza to enjoy the day, eating ice cream & wandering around. One thing we noticed is that the colors of the buildings are a completely different palate than San Miguel.

Here are some pix of the trip. Really nice day, excellent companions. I’m hoping to return to Bernal! (and no, these photos are not photoshopped. The sky is really THAT blue.)

La Gruta

Thursday, January 21st, 2010
La Gruta

La Gruta pools

So, La Gruta (the grotto) has been on my list of things to see & do from the very start. I was really starting to believe that I would never get there. Somehow, not having a car & not understanding the bus/taxi system, out-of-town seems like the impossible dream. Or maybe it’s like Brigadoon- if I go too far from SMA, it may melt away.

Luckily for me, I met CZ at the mole/adobo cooking class, who had already decided that she would be doing La Gruta in her precious 2 wks in SMA. So (being an opportunist), I tagged along.

First, we went to the church at Atotonilco (say that 3 times fast, I dare you!)  and took pix, then on to La Gruta. The weather has finally warmed up, but according to a habitue of the springs, they were colder than usual.

The highlight is a pool that is accessed by a long rock-masonry tunnel. It ends in a dome, all done in local rock, with a few glass inlays for light. Sort of like a kiva? But it’s the warmest water, and at 1 PM, hot water directly from the springs poured out from a pipe. There is no way to get a camera in there. It is very like being in the womb of the Earth. I can’t explain it better than that. Shafts of light, warm water pouring in, and floating in the mineral water…

More pix here

Tips from the locals: great for hangovers, avoid on wkends. negotiate cab fare & arrange for pickup after 2.5 hrs. Do not pay until return trip! (Now I know!)