Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Navidad in the Village

Here is a painting of the Virgin of Guadalupe painted on the side of a house in our new neighborhood.  This image, although obviously religious, is also a symbol of Mexican national pride.  We often see the image displayed with a Mexican flag.  It’s a uniquely Mexican symbol.  Last week was El Dia de la Guadalupe, and families set up makeshift altars to her image all over the village.

As Christmas approaches, we are settling into our village home and recovering from the hectic month we’ve just had.  Pixie’s mouth and teeth continue to improve.  She’s had a root canal on the tooth that was reinserted.  The front tooth next to this one was also injured, although it did not come out.  She had to have a root canal on that one as well.  Our dentist, Dr. Garcia is working very carefully to be sure that he does not cause any problems with the injured teeth.  It looks as though both teeth will be fine.  She’s finished her dental work for now, although he wants her to return for an x-ray next week.  She feels lucky the damage could be repaired.  Pixie’s lips and mouth are just about completely healed, although she has a bit of swelling that she is treating with warm compresses.  We delivered a Christmas basket to Dr. Garcia and his family on Monday to show our appreciation. 

We are grateful to have the ordeal of moving behind us, at least for a couple of months.  Our little house, although small, is certainly adequate for a temporary stay.  We brought our plants with us from the old house so the garden is much more lush.  We turned over the key to our old house to Sra. Romero, the new owner.  She lives in Guadalajara and plans to spend a couple of weekends a month at the house.  I don’t think she liked our decorating.  She told us she intends to sell all our furniture and paint the inside all white.  Go figure!  Anyway, we are happy to turn it over and not have to worry about it any more.  We are hoping to find a beautiful rental in a couple of months as the snowbirds return north and many rentals become available.  In the meantime, we are happy here. 

Chuy is having to adjust to the new surroundings as well.  We have a much nicer walking space.  Yesterday, he made a friend with this Chihuahua. 

Where we live is very Mexican and very colorful.  People sell food on the street and families sit outside and drink cerveza and play their music.  So it’s not exactly a quiet neighborhood, but the people are very friendly and it’s fun to walk around and explore.  Here are some photos from our new neighborhood.  Notice the large wok-like vessel.  The carniceria, or butcher shop, is cooking pork scraps in lard.  The Mexicans love these carnitas, but we vegetarians, not so much.   The bottom photo shows the outside of our new house.  The entire width of our house is the width of those metal garage doors.  The white and brown building to its right is not our house, but our neighbor's.

One interesting aspect of our neighborhood, and indeed of Ajijic in general, is that very Mexican neighborhoods exist quite well side-by-side with more up-scale gringo homes.  The Mexican neighborhood we are in is adjacent to one of the most posh gringo areas at Lakeside.  So when Chuy and I take our walk, we start in our poor Mexican neighborhood but soon find ourselves among million dollar homes in Las Salvias, a gringo neighborhood.  Here are some photos of this area:

Although Christmas here is more religious and much warmer, there are many Christmas traditions.  Tonight we are going to the Posada, or nativity procession, in San Antonio, the neighboring town.  We have gone several times, and I have posted photos of this posada before.  We had a special musical service at our UU Fellowship last Sunday.  We attended a Christmas party with some writer friends of ours last Monday, and we have our New England Gathering tomorrow night.   We will be having Christmas dinner with some Maine friends.  We are wishing we had been able to make our trip to see our children in early December, as planned, but we are now scheduled to fly to Boston on  January 14, to Indiana on January 22, and back to Guadalajara on January 30.  We will surely be in for a climate shock!  But, of course, celebrating a late Christmas with our family will be wonderful.

So, we are finally getting some down time and enjoying the Christmas season.  To all my family, friends and blog-followers around the world, I wish you Feliz Navidad y Feliz Año Nuevo!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Good News All Around

Finally, I am able to post again. It’s been an exhausting week, needless to say, but things are looking up at the moment.  The best news is that Pixie is recovering very well from her injury to her mouth.  The tooth which was reinserted successfully and, so far, seems to be staying in place with no problems whatsoever.  She has a fabulous dentist, Alberto Garcia, in Chapala.  He not only reinserted the tooth in the middle of the night, he has been caring for her ever since.  He has completed a root canal on the reinserted tooth, and is in the midst of a root canal on the other front tooth, which was also traumatized in the accident.  So far, everything is going very well.  Pixie’s mouth has little swelling left, and she is able to eat soft foods (she was on a liquid diet for two weeks!).  So that is good news.  We’ve rescheduled our trip north for January 14 through the 30th.  

When I first met Dr. Garcia, I was very impressed.  He is a kind man who works slowly and carefully.  I had three crowns done for about $150 US apiece.  He impressed me so much that I wrote a poem about him which was published int he Lake Chapala Review.  He was very pleased with the poem and told me he would "never forget" that I wrote a poem about him.  Here is the poem I wrote in 2008: 

Mi Dentista

Going to my dentist
Is Mexico itself.

It’s a long, slow process,
But full of care
And courtesy.

He chats when I sit in his chair,
Not to rush
Not to rush me.
I wait as he sets up his space,
Fills my water glass,
Lays out his tools,
Stopping to ask of my family,
Telling me of his,
Asking if I have pain today,
Always deliberate,
I do not feel rushed.

At last, ready to work,
“Are you ready for the pain?”
“Yes!” I continue the joke,
But he wants to be sure
I know it’s a joke.
“Up your hand,” he warns,
“If you any pain.”

Managing alone, stepping to
Retrieve a tool,
He works competently
Checking on my pain
And I drift, relaxed,
As he works
On my old, battered, tooth. 

“You are a good dentist,”
I proclaim, after I rinse
And spit.

“I hope I am,
Sometimes I hope I am a good dentist.”

“You are.” I reply. 
Glad to be
Enjoying my afternoon
With this kind man.  

The other thing that has been keeping us busy is selling our house and finding a new place to live.  We have moved into our temporary rental in the Ajijic village.  We were supposed to close on our house today, but there was a delay as the money from the buyer was not sent to the correct account, so the transfer of the money took a bit longer.  We are now scheduled to close tomorrow at 4:00; let’s hope there are no more delays.  At any rate, we are today spending our first night in the new rental .  It’s in a very Mexican neighborhood, complete with live music and lots of character.  The house is a hacienda style, which means that the house wraps around a central garden.  It’s very Mexican and a bit dark in parts of the house, so we are using lots of lamps to make it bright.  Here are some photos of the house taken tonight, right after we moved in. 

You can see the house is very Mexican.  In the bathroom above, you can see they have a funky sink that looks like a bowl on the counter, but is actually a sink with a drain.  This type of tile/ceramic is called Talavera, and is very typical of this area of Mexico.  

We are exhausted with moving.  We will be glad to have some down time after we close on our old house and get it cleaned.   In the next entry, I’ll include more photos of the neighborhood; it’s very interesting.  Soon, we will be looking for a more permanent rental.  For the moment, we just need to catch our breath.